Thursday, November 16, 2017

A Switched up Kitchen CAN BE Tasty!

We are now at that time of the year that we all cook and bake more than just about any other time.
I am not sure about you - but I love to jazz it up a bit and try new things sometimes.  It's fun and you just MAY find a new family favorite!

You all know I am huge on not going out to buy that one ingredient that I may be missing.  I SWITCH or IMPROVISE more than I care to admit!!!!  LOL
Recipe - hmmmm what is that?

Here are a few ideas I have tried over the years and generally they turned out great.

  • A recipe calls for vanilla.  Try a different flavor extract - there are no limits.  Use something else that goes with all the ingredients
  • Think about using alcohol if you have it.  Rum - flavored rum, Schnapps in flavors, Irish Cream (comes in many flavors), flavored vodkas, etc.
  • Recipe calls for milk or water - try buttermilk, coconut milk, eggnog, chocolate milk, etc.
  • When making sweet breads experiment with different flavors of fruit puree's. Breads aren't just banana and apple - how about strawberry, kiwi, mango, pineapple, etc.
  • Zucchini bread is yummy - but add fruit and nuts for more yumminess!  Blueberries, strawberries, cranberries, raisin, dates and/or any type of nut
  • Pumpkin or any kind of winter squash can be used instead of zucchini.
  • If making a squash 'type' bread, try adding dome different herbs and spices to come up with a sweet and savory loaf
  • Turn bread recipes into muffins or smaller loaves.  Don't have mini loaf pans?  Keep cans from fruits/veggies from the grocery store.  Remove labels and clean well - grease inside well and bake small loaves of breads.  If greased well enough the bread should just come right out and you can use the can over and over.  Sliced they are really pretty - little circles of homemade love!!!                                                                 Mom would cut the humped top off (we ate those!) and would 'wrap' up in plastic wrap and ribbon much like a Tootsie Roll!   CUTE
  • Add chocolate milk, eggnog, or even buttermilk to a French toast recipe - YUM
  • Need colored sugar sprinkles for cookies?  Use your regular sugar and add a few drops of food color and stir until blended.  Works perfect and you can make all types of colors.  I do this all the time.  Cover and keep until needed again.
  • Brown sugar gone?  Mix regular sugar with molasses - a little or a lot - depending on if wanting light or dark brown sugar
  • Out of powdered sugar?  No problem - blend regular sugar in blender till powdered!
  • Add coffee to chocolate baked goods to enhance the flavor.  You don't need a lot - but it really adds to a great chocolate flavor.
  • Tired of regular iced tea?  Add fruit juice of any type to your tea.  Very refreshing (I even keep juice from watermelon in the summer and freeze to add to tea)
  • Need some fancy toppings for your cookies?  Add chopped nuts, crushed candy canes, colored sugars, crumbs from bottom of cereal box, etc.
  • Re-cycle leftover Halloween candy into baked goods.  Chop up and add to cookies, brownies, layers of icing in cakes, etc.

  • Use jelly as  a glaze for ham, pork or lamb (even meatballs)
  • If you are like me, you have lots of jelly and jams that are homemade.  I like using it in thumb print cookies or molasses cookies  or by making jelly rolls.  Fun and different.    Make sandwich cookies  for the kiddies using peanut butter and jelly as the center.
  • Heat jelly or jam and add to pancakes or waffles to 'special' them up!
  • If you are using boxed cake/brownie mixes or packages of cookie mix - jazz them up.  Add chips, nuts, marshmallows, dates, fruit blends, dried berries, toffee or chopped candy - there is no limit to customize the flavors!  Think SEMI homemade! 
  • Remember pasta sauces aren't just for spaghetti - use in chicken dishes, with pork or beef.  It's a great way to make up a new meat dish to jazz up the menu.  (Salsa chicken is fave here)
  • Add salsa to rice for a version of Spanish rice - YUM

18 oz. box of yellow cake mix
3 1/2 oz. package of instant pistachio pudding
4 eggs
1/2 C oil
1/4 C water
1 C sour cream
1/4 C sugar
1 tsp. cinnamon
Combine cake and pudding mix, add eggs, oil, water and sour cream.  Pour into 2 - 9 x 5 loaf pans (I make in mini version).  Mix sugar and cinnamon together, and sprinkle over bread tops.
Bake at 350 for 40 minutes (adjust time for mini).
I make these each year and they are a hit!!

**I am thinking chocolate cake mix and chocolate pudding or yellow cake with butterscotch pudding mix, chocolate or yellow cake and banana pudding mix, etc..  Add nuts or dried fruit and you have one special bread!  Jazz it up and customize to your own special bread!  You'll have everyone wanting the recipe!! 

Think outside the box this holiday season.  Switch things up and create some new tasty goodies.  You can have LOTS of fun meals and holiday sweets for little money.  Frugal can be fun!


Have fun, switch it up, and STAY FRUGAL my friends.


  1. My daughter just made some raspberry tea. Even if I didn't like it, I love the smell. Our house smells wonderful. Great suggestions!

    1. I just made berry tea as well. My hubs get tired of the plain old tea and now and then likes something different.
      I love the smell of coffee brewing, but don't like the taste - so I understand.

  2. Love the ideas Cheryl. I use mango instead of apricot in Apricot Chicken. I use mango instead of pineapple in boiled fruit cake. As I have made both of these, with mango as a substitute, in the last few days. The common stringy mangoes that aren't good eating, but great in cooking, are starting to ripen on a friends tree. I swapped him a Christmas pudding for a bottle of brandy and he also through in a bag of mangoes as he knows I'll use them.

    1. Oh I would love to live there and just walk out and pick mangoes! I love them!!!!
      What a nice barter.
      Sounds like you are making some really neat switch ups!

  3. These are such good ideas. The Christmas bread with pistachio pudding reminds me of a cake my Grandmother made every year. It was pistachio and she made it for my Dad every year. Good memories. :)

    1. Aahhhh I am glad to bring you back to a good memory today.
      Some foods take back to another time.

  4. This post and the previous have so many neat ideas! I'm going to start digging through recipes right now. And if you were here, I'd give you a big hug. Thank you Cheryl.

    1. Oh Melinda what kind words. I am so glad that you have found some ideas that you can use and perhaps will save you some hard earned cash!
      Hey girl, I can feel the hug!!!
      Thank you

  5. I wish I had half your energy! Gluten free is a challenge but I am slowly learning! Have a great Thanksgiving! Nancy

    1. I wish I had half the energy I used to have!!!!!!!
      It is all a learning process.
      Have a wonderful Thanksgiving with your family!

  6. Cheryl - how many mini loaves will the Christmas Bread recipe make? I am trying out the recipe today using the larger loaf pans. Thanks!