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Recipe Substitutions and Tidbits

Updated on September 7, 2014
A well-stocked kitchen has a variety of spices and herbs
A well-stocked kitchen has a variety of spices and herbs

Helpful Kitchen Hints

My family knows how much I like to cook and a good deal of what I found out, I discovered from my grandma. When my grandmother passed away in 1991, I was fortunate to inherit her great recipe box and finally compiled a cookbook putting in it our favorite recipes from my great-grandmother, grandma, mother and my aunt, grandma's sister.

I found many helpful things in that recipe box and I did one article for Hub pages, "How Much of This Equals That?" I hope that article and this new article helps many cooks in the kitchen.

I bet there are many cooks who start a recipe only to discover that they are missing a main ingredient and cannot get to the store for that one item. This has happened to me more times than I want to admit, because I did not check to be sure that I had all the ingredients before starting the recipe.

Therefore, what ingredient can you use for that recipe if you do not have what you need, without spoiling the recipe?

You can substitute a likely ingredient that will not ruin the recipe. I found in my grandma's recipe box her list for recipe substitutions she could refer to if she found herself without an ingredient. I desire to pass this along to whoever wishes to know, how to substitute ingredients, and I hope it is helpful to every good cook.

You discover you do not have, but need:

1 Cup of buttermilk =

1-Tablespoon of lemon juice or vinegar mixed with 1-Cup of Milk, mix in and let stand for 5-minutes.

1 teaspoon of baking powder =

1/4 baking soda and 1/2 teaspoon cream of tartar.

1/2 firmly packed brown sugar =

1/2 cup sugar and 2 Tablespoon molasses

1 ounce or 1 square of unsweetened baking chocolate =

3 Tablespoons cocoa and 1 Tablespoon shortening

3 ounces or 3 squares of semisweet baking chocolate =

3 ounces or 1/4 cup of semisweet chocolate chips

1 cup sweetened whipped cream =

4 1/2 ounces thawed frozen whipped topping

1 cup cake flour =

1 cup minus 2 Tablespoon all purpose flour

1 cup heavy cream for baking, not whipping cream =

3/3 cup whole milk and 1/4 cup melted butter

1 cup honey =

1 1/4granulated sugar and 1/4 water

1 package active dry yeast =

1 cake compressed yeast

1 Tablespoon cornstarch =

2 Tablespoon all purpose flour or 2 Tablespoon arrowroot

1 small clove garlic =

1/8 teaspoon garlic powder

1 cup tomato sauce =

1/2 cup tomato paste and 1/2 cup cold water

1 teaspoon vinegar =

2 teaspoons lemon juice

1 cup whole milk =

1 cup skim milk and 2 Tablespoons melted butter

1/2 cup light corn syrup =

1/2 cup granulated sugar and 2 Tablespoon water

1 teaspoon freshly grated orange or lemon peel =

1/2 teaspoon dried peel

1 teaspoon pumpkin pie spice =

1/2 teaspoon cinnamon, 1/4 teaspoon allspice and 1/4 teaspoon nutmeg

Cooking Tips and Tidbits

  1. When you are cooking any kind of pasta, start out with cold water and bring to a boil before adding the pasta. Some people see no difference if they start out with hot water, but what I found is the pasta does not cook as well and becomes very starchy.
  2. Most recipes can be doubled or tripled or cut in half.
  3. When following a recipe, try to substitute calorie-laden items for lesser calories and cholesterol. Some recipes that call for butter cannot be substituted such as shortbread. For example, if you can use Stevia in place of sugar, it is better for you.
  4. A good way to tenderize meat is to simmer the meat several hours at low temperature, such as in using a crock-pot.
  5. Always read the entire recipe before you begin to be sure you have the necessary ingredients and utensils.

A Tip about Spices

A well-organized kitchen carries a full supply of herbs and spices.

Common Herbs Every Kitchen Should Have

Basil, Chives, Cilantro, Dill Week, Oregano, Black and white pepper, Cinnamon, and Parsley.


Bay leaves, Marjoram, Rosemary, Saffron, Sage, Tarragon, Thyme, Cinnamon, Cumin, Curry Powder, Ground Red Pepper, Nutmeg, Paprika, Allspice, Cloves (whole and crushed), Parsley, Onion Powered, Onion Flakes, Coriander Seeds, allspice, Ginger, red pepper, cream of tartar, garlic powder, garlic salt, and Mustard Seeds. (you may think of other herbs and spices to add)

A good rule of thumb

Change out herbs and spices every year, however, I do not do this due to the high price of herbs and spices. I keep them in a cool, dark place in the kitchen or in the freezer and they seem to keep forever.

Many super stores carry live herbs in their produce section. I have a live Dill plant, Parsley plant, and Italian Oregano. I use these herbs frequently and especially during the winter months, snipping off what I need for my recipe.

Fresh herbs are more flavorful. If the herbs get too big, cut some up, fold in paper towel and store in a freezer bag in the freezer. They remain fresh and flavorful.


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    • nurse240 profile image

      Carol Ann Sherwood 3 years ago from Jackson, Mi.

      Thank you again and again. Glad you liked it. I hope others will like it as much.

    • The Examiner-1 profile image

      The Examiner-1 3 years ago

      This was very interesting and I can use some of these since I do not cook a lot. I voted this up, shared and pinned it.