Do you follow, tweak, or skip recipes altogether?

Do you follow, tweak, or skip recipes altogether?

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Are you a recipe follower? A recipe tweaker? A “the recipe is just a guideline” kind of cook?

As I drove to work this morning, I thought about how many people find a new recipe and follow the directions exactly, how many follow it to a point, but substitute ingredients here and there, and how many just use it to get a general idea of what to put together for dinner. If you’re following this blog, there’s a good chance that you’re planning to try some of my recipes, so I thought I’d talk a little bit about which kind of cook I am.

To be honest, I’m a bit of all three. If I’m making a recipe for the first time, I follow it exactly, then taste it and figure out where to tweak it, what to add or subtract, etc.

The second time I make a recipe, I’ll try out my changes and see if I like them better, or if I should try something else.

If the recipe is for baked goods, I almost always stick to the basics of the recipe, and just change flavorings, add-ins, etc. Since baking is as much science as it is art, you can’t change things too much or you could end up with some unpleasant results.

However, if you’re making a cake, you can use the basic cake recipe, but change the filling, change the frosting, add nuts or raisins, or chocolate chips, or whatever. If you’re making a pie, change the type of fruit you’re using, or change chocolate filling to lemon filling, or peanut butter, or coconut. You can use macadamias or walnuts instead of pecans–whatever strikes your fancy.

The first time I made the Cranberry Fruit Bread recipe that I posted last week, I made it at a time of year when cranberries weren’t available in the produce section. I used a can of cranberry sauce instead, and it worked fine, but the texture was off. The second time I made it, I used the cranberry sauce, and reduced the sugar from two cups to one. Problem solved.

Since the original recipe came from a magazine MANY years ago, here’s a subscription link so you can find similar home-cooking recipes!

Then there are the times that I look at a recipe and think “That looks good, but I’d use spinach and artichokes instead of broccoli” or “I’d use pepperjack cheese instead of mozzarella…” or “That’s not nearly enough cheese!” That’s when I’m more of a guidelines kind of girl.

I do that a lot when I’m perusing restaurant menus too. There’s no actual recipe to go by, but I know what the basic ingredients are, and can probably figure out the seasonings and things (or just decide what I would use, whether that’s what the restaurant uses or not).

Because I have an allergy to red meat, I substitute A LOT when looking at recipes for entrees. It’s super easy to substitute meatless meatballs or turkey meatballs for beef or sausage-based meatballs. You can sub ground turkey for ground beef. You can use mushrooms for beef in a lot of recipes (though not all, obviously). Turkey sausage for pork sausage. Textured vegetable protein for any kind of ground meat, depending on what you’re doing with it (I tried making a meatloaf with TVP a few years ago, and was disappointed).

You can also try any of the many meatless meat options in the freezer cases. Quorn, Gardein, Boca, and Morningstar Farms products are found almost everywhere these days, and are some AWESOME substitutes for those who can’t or prefer not to eat animal protein. Remember that red meat allergy I mentioned? For four years, I couldn’t eat poultry or seafood either, so these were a huge plus for me.

Amazon even has the new Beyond Meat available! This link is for a case (because frozen food), so don’t be shocked when you see the price.

If you check out most of my recipe posts, I usually list some ideas for variations that you can try. You might even think of some other tweaks to try!

I always say “It’s your food–make it the way you want it!” Have fun with your food, and make it work for your dietary needs and preferences, and what tastes good to you.

So…what kind of cook are you? Leave me a comment and let me know!

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