I don’t know about you, but I often find that I have to change recipes I find posted online. Sometimes it’s because I don’t have an ingredient. Other times it’s because I don’t like an ingredient. But sometimes I like an idea, but I really want to make it my own.
Have you ever read a recipe that claims it’s made with ingredients you already have on hand, only to discover it requires potato starch? Potato starch. Really? Who has potato starch in their house? Well, it turns out that corn starch, which I do keep around, will do just fine. Or perhaps you need something like chicken stock, which you always have on hand, but you just ran out. In that case, use some water and chicken bouillon to make your own. I’ve even used a leftover Ramen noodle flavor pack (really watered down).
Maybe you have a picky eater at home. I confess that in my house, I’m the picky eater. It helps that I’m also the chef, so I can adapt recipes to avoid foods I don’t like. Onions are a big one for me. I love the flavor, but not the texture. So I will almost always replace onions with onion powder. Same with garlic. My mother-in-law doesn’t care for chicken, so when I can I substitute turkey or pork in meals I make for her.
Of course, there’s always a chance that you like the idea a recipe provided, but find the actual recipe lacking somehow. My recipe for chicken pot pie started from someone else’s recipe, but I altered it by adding more chicken, occasionally some potatoes, and lots of spices. Similarly, you can make a dish that was intended to be a side into a main by adding meat or beans.
Once I figured out that recipes on the internet are just 1 person’s interpretation of how a dish tastes best, a whole new world of cooking opened up to me. I looked at recipes I ordinarily would have skipped over and found ways to make them work for my family.
The possibilities really are endless.
Another benefit of tweaking recipes is that it gives you the confidence to create your own. Once you’ve taken a simple one-pot pasta dish and turned into a full meal casserole, you can pretty much consider yourself a recipe creator.
Need some ideas? Check out this awesome list of substitutions from Recipe Tips for what you can use when you can’t or don’t want to follow the recipe as written.