Easy Ways to Find New Recipes
When I was young, my mom made spaghetti once a week and we pretty much ate the same five or six meals rotated on a regular basis. We rarely went out to eat, and as a child it didn't seem fair. Now that I am a wife and mother, I understand why my mom fed us the way she did. Going out to eat is expensive, especially if there are multiple mouths to feed. It's much cheaper to eat at home and usually healthier too. Like my mom, I often fall into a routine, cooking the same handful of meals over and over again. Eating the same meals repeatedly bores the taste buds, so every now and then I get a craving for something new and different. If you'd like to spice up your recipe collection, follow these tips for finding new delicious recipes that are tried and true.
Throw a Recipe Party
A fun and entertaining way to find new recipes is to have a recipe exchange party. This is a great idea for women's groups or for groups of couples that would like to spend an evening sharing good food with friends. Invite as many people as you wish. More people equals more food to eat and more recipes to share. This type of party is easy to throw because it's like a potluck. The host or hostess does not have to do much food preparation at all. Plan to provide drinks, plates, napkins, and cutlery. To simplify clean up after the party, use stylish paper goods instead of real dishes.
Ask each person or couple to bring a copy of their favorite recipe along with the prepared dish. You may want to specify what you'd like each person to bring. Assign appetizers, salads, main dishes, and desserts so you don't end up with one casserole and twelve plates of cookies. Buy a few stacks of inexpensive recipe cards and provide pens. Guests can try each dish, and if they like it, they can copy the recipe and make it at home. Encourage people to socialize and eat while they copy recipes. It's a great way to fellowship with friends and family. Each person is bound to go home with lots of new recipes to try. The cool thing is that everyone brings their favorite recipes, so you'll be guaranteed to take home some scrumptious new ideas.
Start an Email Recipe Chain
I have received recipe chain letters via email in the past. Sometimes they work, sometimes they don't. Success depends on whether or not people participate. I'm not a big fan of sending forwards to others by email, so this isn't my number one choice for finding new recipes. However, it is an option, and some people might really enjoy it. To initiate an email recipe exchange, begin by emailing something like this to your family and friends:
You have been invited to be part of a recipe exchange. Please send a recipe to the person whose name is listed in the number (1) position below (even if you don't know them). It's best to share recipes that are quick and easy! Actually, the best recipe is one you know in your head and can type out and send right now.
Copy this letter into a new e-mail, type my name to the number (1) position and put your name in the number (2) position. Only my name and your name should show when you send your e-mail. Send to 20 friends.
You could receive 36 recipes if you pass this on to 20 other people. It's fun to see where they come from! Seldom does anyone drop out because we can all use new recipes.
1. Shawna Wilson (firstname.lastname@example.org)
2. Shawna Wilson (email@example.com)
Note that the names and email addresses in each spot are the same only for the intial email. The person who receives the email will insert their own email address in position (2) before passing it on to others. After the initial email is sent, it's just a matter of time before you start receiving recipes from others. Keep in mind that the recipes will come from people you may not know, so make sure to keep an eye on your junk mail folder.
Search the Internet
The internet offers endless possibilities for recipe searches. There are thousands of sites that offer recipes and meal preparation information. Hubpages has scores of fabulous recipes submitted by great cooks. Use the search field to find recipes for particular dishes. AllRecipes.com is my favorite site for recipe searching. Each recipe has a rating and reviews. The best feature on this site, in my opinion, is the ingredient search. If I have something in the refrigerator that is approaching expiration or spoilage, I type it in the ingredient search field. I look through the results to find something that sounds yummy, has a high rating, and uses ingredients I have on hand. This is a great way to avoid food spoilage and waste.
Two of My Favorite Cookbooks
Use the Library
I like to check cookbooks out at the library for several reasons. I like to try many different types of cuisine. If I bought a recipe book each time I wanted to try something new, I'd end up spending a lot of money and would run out of storage space. I like being able to pick and choose a few good recipes out of a book, then give it back so it doesn't clutter my house.
Libraries have cookbooks that span thousands of topics. Some cookbooks focus on a specific type of meal preparation, such as the slow cooker or the grill. Other books concentrate on treating medical conditions using special dietary guidelines. When my husband was trying to lower his cholesterol last year, I checked out some cookbooks published by the American Heart Association that were loaded with low fat and low cholesterol recipes. Most cookbooks focus on a type of cuisine, such as Indian, Chinese, or Italian.
If you're looking for a cookbook that focuses on quick and inexpensive meals, check out "Cheap, Fast, Good" by Beverly Mills and Alicia Ross. This is one of my favorite cookbooks because it is full of money saving tips in addition to yummy meal ideas. If you want to be more thrifty with your cooking, read this book. Another favorite cookbook of mine is called "Chinese Cuisine Made Simple" by Dorothy Huang. My best friend recommended this book to me after taking cooking lessons taught by Dorothy Huang herself. Dorothy's recipes for pot stickers, stir fried vegetables, and sweet sticky rice are to die for. Check it out and see for yourself. Go to your library's website and search through their cookbook selection. You're sure to find at least a few titles that make your mouth water.
Ask Friends for Recommendations
For those of you who want recipes now without working for them, I'll give you a head start. Here are just a few of my family's favorite recipes. All of these recipes are easy to prepare and are great for family style dining. Keep in mind I'm not a gourmet cook! Hopefully they're different than the recipes you make each week. Tweak them to your liking. Enjoy!
Corn Fritter Casserole
3 T butter, softened
3 egg whites or 2 whole eggs
8 oz cream cheese
½ cup finely chopped onion
½ cup finely chopped red bell pepper
1 can whole kernel corn, drained
1 can cream style corn
1 package (8.5 oz.) corn muffin mix, such as Jiffy
¼ tsp black pepper
Directions: Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Combine first 3 ingredients in a large bowl, stirring with whisk until smooth. Stir in next 4 ingredients. Add muffin mix and black pepper. Pour into 11x7 baking dish coated with cooking spray. Bake for 50 minutes or until knife comes out clean.
Chicken Tortilla Soup
3 chicken breasts, cooked and cubed or shredded
1 can chicken broth
2 cans cream of chicken soup
1 can pinto beans
1 can black beans
1 can Rotel or Mexican flavored diced tomatoes
1 can whole kernel corn
½ tsp each: salt, pepper, garlic powder, cumin, chili powder
Directions: Combine all ingredients in stockpot. Bring to a boil, then turn down and simmer for 30 minutes. Stir frequently. Garnish with tortilla strips, cheese, sour cream, and or fresh cilantro.
Mostaccioli Spinach Bake
8 oz. mostaccioli pasta or other tube shaped pasta cooked al dente
1 T butter
1 cup chopped onion
2 tsp bottled minced garlic
¼ cup all purpose flour
2 ½ cups skim milk
5 oz. preshredded parmesan cheese
1 ½ tsp Italian seasoning
½ tsp black pepper
1 can diced tomatoes, Italian style
1 (10 oz) package frozen spinach, thawed and drained
¼ cup dry bread crumbs
2 T parmesan cheese
1 T butter
Directions: Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Melt 1 T butter in saucepan on medium heat. Add onion and garlic. Sautee until tender. Add flour, cook for 30 seconds, stirring constantly. Gradually add milk. Cook until bubbly, stirring constantly. Remove from heat. Stir in ¼ cup cheese and dry seasonings. Combine cooked pasta, cheese sauce, 1 cup cheese, tomatoes, and spinach in large bowl. Spoon into a 9x13 greased dish. Combine topping ingredients. Sprinkle over pasta mixture. Bake 30 minutes or until golden and bubbly.
Crust-Topped Broccoli Cheese Bake
4 oz. chive and onion cream cheese
1 can cream of mushroom soup
2 packages (16 oz. each) frozen broccoli, thawed and drained
1 cup shredded cheddar cheese
1 thawed pie crust or puff pastry sheet
1 egg, lightly beaten
Directions: Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Mix cream cheese, soup, and ½ cup water until well blended. Stir in broccoli and cheddar cheese. Spoon into 3 quart round baking dish. Cover broccoli mixture with pie crust or pastry sheet. Press edges of dough against rim of dish to seal. Brush entire surface lightly with egg. Pierce with knife 5 or 6 times to vent. Bake 30 minutes or until heated through and pastry is golden brown.
Fall Off the Bone Baby Back Ribs (click on link)