I have a confession. I love recipes. I spend a lot of time on Pinterest, pinning recipes (many of which I DO actually make). I’ve got several food bloggers bookmarked and I’ll read their blog frequently for new recipes. I am a recipe whore. But what I love most, I think, are the comments. They generally fall into 3 different categories. You have the honest review; either the person who made it and loved it or hated it. Also in that category would be the person who made the recipe as directed but it didn’t turn out correctly so now they’re wondering what they’ve done wrong. You have the person who wants to “improve” the dish and let’s you know about all the changes they made. I love these people. You offer them up a recipe for some chicken casserole and they let you know they switched out the chicken for beef, added carrots and broccoli, and used rice instead of noodles. It’s a whole new meal but they’re giving your recipe a thumbs up! Finally, you have the people that I suspect may not cook a whole lot. They’re the ones that ask questions like: Would this work with chicken breasts, instead of thighs? Or, could I use pork chops instead of chicken because I don’t like chicken? I don’t have cream of mushroom soup but I do have cream of chicken; would that be an ok substitute? You tell me I should cook this in the crockpot for 8 hours on low. I just got home and want to eat this. Can I put it on high instead and cook for a shorter amount of time? It says to use a graham cracker crust but I have this Oreo crust in my cabinet. Do you think that would be ok to use instead? The recipe says to use Colby-Jack cheese but I only have cheddar. Do you think that would work in the recipe?
People, cooking is pretty fluid. Don’t be afraid to mix it up. You’re making vegetable soup and the recipe calls for frozen peas and carrots but you’ve got some green beans you’d like to add to the mix? Go for it! The recipe calls for onions but you don’t like onions? Hey, here’s a crazy idea- omit the onions! Recipes are suggestions, folks! They are not a die hard manual that will cause the end of civilization as we know it if they are not followed to the absolute letter. The worst thing that can happen is your meal totally sucks and you get take out!
Here’s another tip. The crockpot is pretty forgiving. Throw your meat in there, set it on low and let it cook all day. I have heard chicken is best cooked on high for four hours, though. Totally up to you if you want to follow that. I’ve done it both ways and really can’t tell, although most of my chicken dishes involve me shredding the chicken anyway. As for soups, feel free to throw a bunch of stuff in and let that simmer all day as well. Don’t be afraid to use some spices. Herbes de Provence is an excellent one to use if you’re going to make a chicken noodle soup.
Lest I have offended anyone with my cooking judgements let me be the first to say I completely understand wanting to have a good set of instructions. My grandma was a fabulous cook, but she was also one of those cooks who would tell you, “Oh, use a little bit of this and then a little bit of that.” That does not help me, Grandma. I am creative enough that I can substitute one cream of whatever soup for the next, or use shredded cheese in place of slices, or even mix the cheeses up, but I can’t seem to eyeball measurements with any great accuracy, and I hate the whole “Oh, I don’t ever measure it out. Just use about this much flour and that much sugar,” directions. I will also freely admit that when a recipe suggests I use lime or lemon zest I tend to just skip that recipe. I have a vague idea of what I’m supposed to do, but I’m not completely sure so I just forego those recipes. I suppose if I ever do decide I simply must make something that calls for zest of lemon I can go to YouTube and see what I need to do. Right now? Not on my list.
I will leave you with this, my all time favorite “recipe” and its reviews. FYI: It’s a recipe for ice but the reviews are priceless and exactly what I’m talking about in this rant.