Thursday, August 4, 2022

Playing with my Food!

 You guys have probably figured out by now that I am not one that tends to follow the rules of cooking!  I like to switch up recipes, add and take away things, and just play with my food.  I get bored with the same old thing.

There really aren't a ton of rules.  I just wing it.  My mom hardly ever used recipes and I am the same way.
So today, there are just a few ideas of playing with your food and changing things up a bit.  Don't like an ingredient?  Change it to something you like!

I know many people who refuse to eat this.  I truly have always liked it.  I doubt I ever make the same way twice.
Don't like tuna?  OK - use chicken, turkey, ham, or whatever you have.  You can add veggies and make it a one pot meal.  I like to add frozen peas, or broccoli.  Add what you like.  You can also add cheese or top with cheese.  I like to use a topping of crushed chips or crushed flavored crackers or unsweetened cereal flakes crushed - you can use breadcrumbs.  Gives it a nice textured topping.

Oh goodness, this is a great one to play with.  No rules at all.  Along with your pasta (whatever type you use) throw in any kind of veggie you want.  Broccoli, peas, cauliflower, radish, tomato, carrot, celery, olives, chopped pickle, cucumbers, zucchini - you name it.  You can add chopped meat as well.  Dressing?  Whatever floats your boat.  You can make your own or use bottled or a combo of different types.  I like a combo of Italian and Ranch.  I also love to throw in sunflower seeds to the salad for a nutty flavor.
You can also use fruit - apples and nuts make a tasty salad ingredient.  I like those along with chopped celery and a creamy dressing - super good with pasta.

Use your food in new ways.  Bell peppers are great stuffed and baked.  Mmmmmmm
Think about stuffing them with meatloaf mix and baking.  How fun - self-contained meatloaf.
I like using peppers for dip containers at get togethers.  They are cute and they can be eaten when the party is over!!!

Use as garlic bread, bruschetta, French toast, pizza, so many things can be made with a little imagination!!

No meat - no problem.  You can make gravy using a little bacon grease to make your rue, and it gives it great flavor.  Fry potatoes, squash, green tomatoes, okra, anything at all - in bacon grease for extra flavor.  Use as a flavoring in beans.  You can have that meat flavor without using meat or using very little meat.  It is gold in a jar at my house!  

TEA - flavoring
I like iced tea.  I get tired of it just plain.  Sure, I have a few flavored tea bags - but mainly keep those for hot tea in the winter.  You can flavor iced tea with all kinds of things and it tastes like those expensive bottles you can buy!  Fruit juice - any kind you desire.  OJ, grape, apple, lemon, even juice from watermelon (that is tasty).  You can use Kool-Aid.  Mint or lemon balm or any herb you desire.
I sometimes brew my tea with apple peels, or slices of oranges in the mix.  You could throw in peach peels - you name it - you can use it to flavor.

These are fun and easy to make.  They are great for a special treat.  Great for ice cream or pudding bowls.  Kids like them, and they make a fancy creation for adults as well.
Just flip over that muffin tin - grease - and apply cookie dough.  Bake as usual!  Fun food!

Have gravy or sauces left?  No need to throw them out.  Freeze in ice cube trays.  Once frozen pop them out and place in a freezer bag - and now you have instant flavor for another dish - no waste.  Great for soups or casseroles.

What are some of your tricks and hacks?  I love getting new ideas.  Let us know some of your PLAYING around with traditional food!  
Food can be FUN!


  1. Nary a drop of bacon grease gets thrown out here either! Yummy free flavor! I save gravy in the freezer and when there is enough it is time for a pot pie. Do half gravy and half half and half for a delicious sauce and then clean out the fridge and top it with a crust.

    1. Bacon grease is the nectar of the Gods!!! LOL
      Oh, that is a great idea for pot pie. Super frugal and it would be so tasty!

  2. In the cold weather, I really like to make soup for myself (my son isn't a fan). It's always a bit of this and a bit of that - whatever happens to need using up. Then last week I used a container of cherry tomatoes that I'd picked up at the grocery store a couple of days before and they were already starting to wrinkle. I added water, basil, rosemary, salt and pepper and boiled it for 10-15 minutes. I used a hand blender to puree the mixture and added a wee bit of sugar. It was delicious!
    Normally I would use radish in my potato salad but I was out, so I cut up some celery for the crunch. Not as colorful but still good. Pasta salad is definitely one of my faves for adding whatever happens to be available. Cheese is usually included, along with hard boiled egg, and whatever veg is in the fridge - carrots, celery, red onion, etc. I also tend to add nuts to various salads in place of croutons and lately I've been eating lots of coleslaw with added walnuts.

    1. Never thought to add radish to potato salad - great idea. Good use of the cherry tomatoes - sounds yummy.
      I like egg in salads as well. There are just so many ways to make all kinds of salads.

  3. My husband got me hooked on his version of chicken salad -- chopped chicken, celery, apples, onion, raisins or dried cranberries, mayo, all purpose seasoning (Montreal steak or something similar, whatever you like), sometimes some walnuts or pecans, and a shake or two or three of dried curry powder.

    Another, leftover steak, celery, onions, and mix with blue cheese dressing. Great in a pita or tortilla roll-up.

    1. I bet that chicken salad is good! I like the idea of using leftover steak (is there such a thing?) LOL - in roll-ups. No blue cheese for me - but the rest sounds great.

    2. Debby in Kansas USAAugust 4, 2022 at 1:41 PM

      Chicken salad has endless possibilities! My fave is just chicken, mayo, cashews, and celery. Tastes good as a sandwich, wrap, or in a salad.

    3. Mmmm - that would make a great wrap

  4. When I read your post today, Cheryl, I had to chuckle. In my oven right now is what I'll call a Blueberry Breakfast Tart, using a box of Jiffy cornbread mix and the filling of a store bought blueberry pie; the pie crust was so hard it almost required a chisel to cut. I couldn't waste the (expensive) blueberry filling. LOL!

    Last night we had Sloppy Joes for dinner. There's quite a bit of meat in sauce leftover. It will either become spaghetti sauce, or (most likely) a pot of chili. It's cooler, rain is forecast for the next few days, I can add some chili or chipotle powder, canned diced tomatoes and beans. Easy-peasy. And if, in a few days, there's leftover chili, it can become chili-mac with cheese.

    As a child, I got in so much trouble for playing with my food. Now it has become a true asset. Thank you, everyone, for your wonderful ideas. --Elise

    1. I bet the blueberry tart was still yummy! Crumble and eat with ice cream.
      Sloppy Joe is good in mac n cheese as well. I like your ideas. Chili is so stinking versatile - that is why I love it.
      I love playing with food!

    2. Hubs and I each had 2 slices, just to be sure. Yup. Pretty tasty!

  5. I was just thinking that sloppy joes sounded good. I just made 2 bacon/green chili quiche for dinner and one to freeze. Had a little oven space and two old apples so I made a quick cobbler for 2 and put it in between. Dinner is done!

    I have a simple summer recipe that I love. A baked sweet potato topped with cole slaw and BBQ chicken. Sounds odd, but tasty. Hubs doesn't like slaw so I buy just a spoonful at the market deli. I love KFC slaw but gas is too expensive to drive thru for just that lol.

    This month has bologna day! Not officially, just in my house. When I was a kid, we always went to one of the big national parks in Cali for vacation. And lunch...every single day...was a bologna sandwich with mustard on white bread with a handful of Lays. We were so active that I couldn't imagine ANY meal tasting that good! Sitting at a picnic table lakeside surrounded by huge trees. Heavenly. In honor of those vacations, I have bologna day in August. I make that for lunch. If I close my eyes, I can imagine myself surrounded by Sequoias! So fitting that my college dorm was Sequoia Hall!! I have that special meal just once a year.

    What a cheap date, huh? Sam's hot dogs and bologna day lol!

    1. Your dinner sounds very good. I am not a big sweet potato person - but I would like that on a regular potato.
      I am a bologna fan. In the summer I love a bologna and tomato sandwich - have to have that a few times each summer.
      When Glen and I would go out and wonder IN years ago - we would stop in some bity town in the country at a little country store and get a loaf of bread and some bologna and a bag of chips and find a place to picnic. We did that about every time. We always took our drinks and a squeeze bottle of mustard when we left home!!! LOL
      Those make for some great memories. I bet you enjoy going back in time each summer! Sweet memories!

  6. Debby in Kansas USAAugust 4, 2022 at 2:04 PM

    Oops. Bologna day is mine!

  7. Playing with food is awesome. I almost always have to sub something in a recipe and it usually works out great.

    God bless.

    1. I usually either have to or just want to! I am glad others do the same - creative minds.

  8. Love the cookie bowl idea! There are so many spices and herbs that can be used to elevate any dish. I am a fan of adding dried fruit and/or nuts to salads.

    The fellow who adopted our four older Leghorns sent me some pictures of them in his chicken yard. I do mean yard, his whole back yard is for the chickens. Have a couple finishing touches on the big chicken coop and run and then the eight Rhode Island Reds will move in. They will have lots of room and will be very happy.

    1. Such a cute idea - I think it would be neat for holiday time.
      Cool on the chickens. Glad the others are all settled in their new home. Chickens would be a fun addition to any homestead.

  9. Because of my allergies, I have to sub many things. And, it is okay with me. I am allergic to green peas, so green beans go in any recipe that calls for peas, and Tommy is okay with that even though he loves peas.
    The last bacon I cooked was burned black. I was as sad to lose the bacon grease as I was to lose the bacon.
    I often play with my food and recipes mean little most days.
    I have multiple bags of salad, so I am going to cook it before it spoils and figure out what to do after that to make soup or a stock.

    1. I think many of us cook for what we like, not what a recipe says. Truly, I don't think there are many rules that must be followed.

  10. Some of my best meals have been ones I threw together without a recipe. Seriously good like why would I ever go to a restaurant good. I do read cookbooks and I google menus from popular restaurants to get ideas.

    But even something simple and basic like a pasta salad is better from home. That stuff is expensive per pound here. And I bet yours is as good or better than any deli salad.

    Sometimes I will make a spectacular salad with all kinds of stuff in it. Just open up the fridge and put whatever I find. Way better than a fancy restaurant salad. And I'm just as full even if it isn't!

    1. I feel the same way. I know what is in my meal, and I had all the ingredients on hand - no big spending!!! Food is so expensive at restaurants.
      I have come to like homemade so much more than food out. I have the time to fix it at home, why not?

    2. I go out to eat what I won't cook at home and these tend to be high calorie foods which we don't need to eat often as we fight our weight every day. Pasta w/cream sauce, onion rings, chips/queso, tamales, anything deep fried. As well our favorite celebration restaurant for birthday/anniversary to get our annual fix of Filet Mignon for him and Alaskan King Crab for me!

    3. I can understand that - some things are just easier done out. Oh, I love me some Alaskan Kind crab!!!