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“Hey, sweetie! I’m home!” Hanes called as he walked in the door of our newlywed apartment. It was late summer 2005, and he had just gotten home from work.
“Hey!” I called back from the kitchen. “Guess what?! I tried a new recipe – I got it at the kitchen shower. Shepherd’s Pie for dinner!”
(We were a couple of years away from my vegetarian, and eventually vegan, epiphany.)
“Cool, sounds good!”
Fast forward 15 minutes to us taking our seats at the table. I was relieved to sit after several hours spent in the kitchen on this endeavor.
We enthusiastically put the first bites in our mouths.
Hanes tried to keep a smile on his face as he chewed quickly at first, and then, slower and slower. I give him credit for not saying anything considering how terrible it tasted.
The recipe had called for something like 2 cups of fresh sage, an herb which can be great in small amounts – but in this quantity was gag-worthy.
I put him out of his misery quickly: “Ohmigod, this is disgusting. You don’t have to eat it.”
“Thank you. Well, it was worth a try! Wanna go out to eat?”
“Yes. Most definitely yes.”
And, that’s how it goes sometimes with new recipes.
It can kind of feel like playing roulette.
It can seem risky, between all the time it takes to cook and the money it takes to buy new ingredients.
And, I’ll admit, I’ve had my fair share of duds since the Shepherd’s Pie incident…
But more times than not, trying a new recipe pays off.
And if you’re making the switch to a compassionate, healthful, and Earth-friendly vegan lifestyle, trying new recipes is essential to your success.
So get out of your same-recipe-rut! Here’s how to improve your odds at New Recipe Roulette:
My Tips for Beating the House in New Recipe Roulette:
1. Choose a recipe from a trusted friend or from a favorite vegan cookbook author
If others you trust have liked a new recipe, your odds automatically go up!
I like to get the lowdown from friends on a recipe before I make it. They can offer helpful tips like what to leave out or add more of to make a recipe great.
And I’ve loved everything I’ve made out of cookbooks by awesome vegan chefs like Colleen Patrick-Goudreau, Chloe Coscarelli, and Isa Chandra Moscowitz and from vegan blogs like Oh She Glows and The Sweet Life.
2. Don’t go for a recipe with too many ingredients that you don’t have already
That way, you haven’t gone out and bought obscure spices that you’ll never use again if it isn’t good. This tip cuts your losses.
3. Try something simple
As I mentioned in What I Vegan with Chloe’s Kitchen, I’m not super chef-y. I like recipes with simple instructions that don’t sound too tricky.
4. Budget enough time for it
Don’t try out a new recipe on a night you have a million other things to do. It will make it more stressful than it has to be. Plan on a night when you have plenty of time so you can have fun with it – make a whole evening of it, drink wine, play music!
5. Set a Goal
It’s a good idea to set a goal of trying one new recipe every so often. I aim for once a week. Sometimes it happens, sometimes it doesn’t, but it helps me keep it in mind when I’m making my weekly menu.
6. Keep a List
As you come across new recipes that look good, keep track of them by making a list or a Pinterest board (just don’t get paralyzed by Pinterest perfectionism). That way when it’s time to make your new recipe for the week or month, you have lots yummy-sounding ones to choose from.
If you find yourself shying away from getting starting, just remember that trying a new recipe can have great results, like:
– Discovering a new favorite dish that you go back to week after week
– Having fun experimenting in the kitchen
– An unexpected dinner date at a restaurant if it doesn’t work! 🙂
So take these tips and increase your odds! I actually used them earlier this week to beat New Recipe Roulette:
I got a magazine in the mail with a recipe for Kale and Pinto Burritos. Scanning the ingredients and instructions, I realized ‘Hey! This doesn’t look hard, and I’m familiar with all but one of the ingredients. I want to try this!’
I looked up the ingredient I didn’t know: chipotle in adobo. What’s adobo? A quick Google search remedied that (it’s a Spanish (vegan!) sauce), and off to the grocery store I went!
I made a slight adjustment to veganize the recipe by leaving off the cheese, but otherwise followed the directions.
And voila! Dinner!
After eating and enjoying it, Hanes and I talked a bit about how it could be improved next time. We wrote down our changes so we’ll remember what to do.
Here’s our modified version of the recipe for you to try! Go ahead, place your bets!
Vegan Kale & Pinto Burritos
1 green pepper, diced
1/2 yellow onion, diced
1 bunch kale (about 2 cups), thick stems removed, ripped into bite-size pieces
1/4 cup water
1 teaspoon sea salt
1-2 large garlic cloves, minced
1 (15 oz.) can of pinto beans
1/2 (15 oz.) can refried pinto beans (make sure they’re vegan!)
1-2 chipotle peppers in adobo, seeds removed, minced
1 Tablespoon cumin
2 Tablespoons freshly chopped cilantro
6 whole grain tortillas
1/2 cup Salsa
Preheat oven to 350. Heat the oil in a large skillet over medium-high heat. Add the pepper and onion and saute for 1 minute.
Add the kale, stirring constantly as it wilts. Add half the salt and the garlic and stir. Add 1/4 cup water into the pan and stir, then cover, reduce the heat to medium-low and cook for about 5 minutes until the greens are tender.
Drain and rinse the pinto beans and transfer to a large bowl. Add the refried beans, kale mixture, remaining salt, chipotle, cumin, salsa, and cilantro to the bowl, and stir until well mixed.
Divide mixture evenly into the 6 tortillas. Roll burritos up and line tightly in a small baking dish. Cover with foil and bake for 15 minutes until heated through. Serve with extra salsa, lettuce, and cashew sour cream. If you want, you can add vegan cheese like Daiya.
Cashew Sour Cream
This recipe was adapted from The Sweet Life’s recipe.
1 cup cashews*
A little less than 3/4 cup water
2 Tablespoons lemon juice
1 teaspoon apple cider vinegar
3/4 teaspoon salt
Blend cashews and water in a high-powered blender (like a Vitamix) until very smooth. (* If you don’t have a high-powered blender, soak the cashews 4-6 hours.) Add the rest of the ingredients and combine. Enjoy on burritos, nachos, baked potatoes, etc!
Do you have any recipe duds you’d like to share? Wildly successful stories? I’d love to hear – let me know in the comments below!
To Winning New Recipe Roulette!
Great advice Sarah! In the horrible “cheesecake incident”, my lesson learned, if you substitute something, check the equivalency ratios! 🙂
Thanks, Brenda! That’s a very good piece of advice!
great advice! I definitely get stuck in the same old recipe rut! seems like only1 out of 10 new recipes I try works out!
Thanks for sharing, Lauren! Sometimes I think it would be easier to do like my grandmother used to and just have a set menu every week: Monday is spaghetti night, Tuesday is ___, etc. But that would be no fun! Trying new recipes and failing sometimes is better than eating the same things over and over! Good for you for trying new recipes and getting out of the rut!
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