Friday, February 5, 2010

Moms Don't SRESS OUT Over Making Dinner - Substitute Ingredients Creatively

by Janis Brett Elspas

Today, as I mentioned in an earlier post on this blog today, it's raining in California which doesn't happen very often.  Since I live in the land of cars where the norm is to DRIVE to the grocery store just a few blocks from home, even if one needs just for an item or two, I thought others caught in a similar predicament would appreciate this.  I love to cook, but even if you don't enjoy culinary arts or even if you think you are a lousy cook, all it requires is a little out of the box thinking to prepare a meal your family will love.

As this story goes, while cooking dinner today I realized that I didn't have everything needed to make tonight's recipes.  Rather than get wet, and gasp -- drive 3 blocks to my neighborhood grocery store -- I've decided to still make everything I planned on for this evening, with a just a few small adjustments.

For the stuffed peppers (Reyenades) from my Cookbook of the Jews of Greece the recipe called for pine nuts, black currants, and fresh dill and fresh parsley -- none of which I had on hand.  So, instead I'm used pecans, chopped dates and dried dill and parsley for that.  Then, for the Canola Cooking Contest I'm entering on I'm making Tunisian Pomegranate Grilled Chicken as the main dish tonight and just discovered I already used up the dates I needed for that on the Reyenades.  I don't have any raisins or currents in the house either to substitute, so I'm going to make it with dried apricots instead.  As a matter of fact, I don't have the Arugula or shallots I need either for the Tunisian Chicken, so I'm going to substitute dark green lettuce and chopped onions and a bit a fresh garlic for those items.

Remember, you never have to stress out in the kitchen when you don't have the exact ingredients.  Switch your mind to its creative side and mix things up a little bit because recipes are meant to be tweaked and you may end up liking your own version even better than the original.  For sure, if you take a little artistic license, the meals you make for your family will be absolutely wonderful and they'll be begging for more. 

We're setting the table now and it's almost time to log off for today, so photos will be posted later.  But be assured that, as far as tonight's dinner goes, I'm glad to say everything turned out just delicious to smell, to look at, and to taste, plus my family loves it.   Could a mom ask for anything more than a happy family dinner with a meal without any complaints?

Leave your own successful cooking substitution stories in the comment section below.  Moms we have so much we can learn from each other!

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