RealSimple has a nifty compilation of tips for cooks who like to make authentic recipes but don't necessarily have an entire afternoon to prep a meal. Some common gourmet actions, like draining yoghurt or tying off roasts and whole chickens, can be skipped or simply reduced into simple shortcuts. To avoid taking the time to clarify butter, for instance:
Mix equal parts butter and refined oil—the butter still adds flavour and helps meat brown faster, but the oil raises the burning point. Or quickly clarify butter in the microwave (be sure to cover it). Melt it, wait for the milk solids to settle to the bottom, and pour off the clear liquid.
What recipe steps drive you nuts, and how do you find your way around them? Gather 'round the table in the comments. Photo by Mom the Barbarian.