As I’ve mentioned before, when I cook, I take a whole food (a vegetable, fruit, meat, or fish) or some combination of whole foods, and I saute/fry/bake/roast it with a combination of seasonings and/or acid and/or fat. Occasionally, however, I cheat. If you’re pressed for time, there’s no shame in short-cutting by cooking a main ingredient or two with a well-chosen commercially prepared sauce. I use only glass jarred sauces, because I’m concerned about the BPA lining in metal cans, and I write down the ingredients so I can try to mix my own version when I have more time and more ingredients on hand.

Here are three of my favorite “cheating” recipes:

Sesame Ginger Pork Chops

Place four boneless pork chops (roughly 3/4 inch thick) in a Pyrex baking dish. Cover with Annie’s Naturals Organic Sesame Ginger salad dressing. Cover with foil and bake at 350 degrees for 90 minutes. Confirm done-ness of pork with a meat thermometer.

French Shrimp

Gently heat 1 pound of cooked, deveined shrimp in a skillet with 1/2 bottle of Annie’s Naturals Organic French salad dressing. Pour the whole skillet into a 9×9-inch Pyrex baking dish (can you tell I love my Pyrex?) and bake at 400 for 20 minutes. Serve plain, over rice, or over egg noodles.

…and here’s one for the vegetarians:

Indian-Style Rice and Beans

I’m not of Indian descent, so this is not an authentic recipe. However, the sauce is richly seasoned with south Asian spices.

Rinse 2 cups of lentils and remove any non-lentil bits that may be present. In a Dutch / French oven (like this awesome one my parents gave me), heat the lentils to a boil (slowly–you never want to blast the heat on a Dutch / French oven… get there slowly with a slightly tilted lid) with 3 cups of water and 1 container of this amazing tikka masala sauce. Lower the heat to a simmer and cook for 60 minutes. Check the lentils periodically to ensure that the liquid hasn’t boiled away. Add more water as necessary, but don’t add too much–you don’t want them to get soupy.

While you are cooking the lentils, prepare 2 cups of rice according to package directions.

Serve lentils over rice.