Although sometimes it may seem like it, it truly isn't rocket science to make the perfect recipe. Creating and making a delicious recipe should not be reserved for the 'studied' chef or cook. The kitchen should be a place of fun and experimentation; a place to make mistakes, laugh about them, and then try again until it comes out just right. The following post will answer two questions: How do I create a great recipe? and What should I consider in order to make it taste good?


1) Probably the first, and easiest step to creating your own recipe is to start with what you know you love. Consider what you often put on your dinner plate, and more than likely this is a good base for a created recipe. The point is to be creative. For example, if you love scalloped potatoes, why not take the same recipe, but use something other than potatoes? How about green beans, or eggplant? What goes well with eggplant, perhaps chopped tomatoes. More-often than not, you'll find that the best recipes stem from another favorite. Even the most seasoned chefs play with what they know.

2) This leads me to another tip: BLEND. Consider a category of food, dessert, soup, etc. Now in that category choose two of your favorites. Why are they your favorites? What elements in them do you believe gives them an edge? NOW BLEND THEM :) Some of my favorite recipes have come from blending 2, or more together (taking into account amounts of ingredients needed to complete the recipe effectively; baking can be picky). If you don't consider yourself a very creative person (I question whether or not that can even be true), than blending is a good way to lead you to a great recipe. 

3) Be inspired. I often flip through cookbooks finding the recipes that I like, but also the recipes I don't like. If I don't like the recipe I ask myself "why wouldn't I make this?". Surprisingly, this is a great starting point for a recipe that you would actually make. Being vegan, my job often feels easy because I can take meat recipes, and convert them into vegan ones, replacing the meat source with some sort of vegetable. But even for the meat-eater, this is a great practice for understanding what you like in food, and why you like it. Perhaps you have a secret hate for chickpeas. Where you would normally pass a bunch of great hummus, based on the fact they are filled with this hated products, why not switch it up with something that you love? Why not substitute black beans, kidney beans, or even some type of roasted vegetable, like eggplant or zucchini? You'll find, more-often than not, what you don't like in a recipe is really just one or two ingredients that can easily be substituted.

4) Use leftovers. Not only will this save you money, but it is a great way to transform a meal into a completely different, but great recipe. When you restrict yourself to the food left in your fridge, you will find that you have to be much more creative with it. This may be the encouragement you need to create a recipe that you and your family will love!

5) Consider the equipment you have in the kitchen, or various techniques, and how it/ they can be used in a recipe. You could even approach a recipe thinking "I must use the blender at least twice". Perhaps you could blend/cream the onion, rather than chop it, or make a flavor paste with several ingredients to make a stronger base for a recipe. Maybe grill the vegetables, rather than saute them? How about caramelize the carrots before you put them into the carrot cake? This makes cooking/ baking more enjoyable, and oftentimes brings about new discoveries, that lead to fantastic recipes!

6) Many people think that going out for dinner means eating something you couldn't make at home. I realize that time/ busyness is also a factor in this decision, but when it comes to whether or not you are capable of creating a similar, delicious meal, you are! When I go to a restaurant, I make a point to try something that I wouldn't normally eat, or that I feel is unique to what I have made in my own kitchen. That way I not only get to experience something different, but I also get the opportunity to recreate it to the best of my ability at home. I think it is important to have confidence in the kitchen, trusting that you know what tastes good, and that you are fully capable of making it.

7) Last, but certainly not least, MAKE COOKING MEMORABLE! Don't just experiment, but also think of ways that the experience can be made more enjoyable. Perhaps involve your kids, other family members, or friends. My husband and I often have a pizza cook off (almost every Friday), a competition to see who can make the best pizza. The pizza is made all the more delicious because of the fun I had making it, with him. Cooking/ baking shouldn't be just about taste, but also about the process. Perhaps make a point to sip on your favorite tea, coffee, or wine while you cook. Or slip your dog a few scraps to see his/ her tail wag. It is all these little things that bring more depth to the experience.


1) First and foremost, on of the most important things you can do for planning any good recipe is to make sure you are somewhat organized with it. This is coming from someone who is innately unorganized, but I allow myself to be as organized as I can be for the sake of the recipe. The easiest thing you can do to ensure the recipe works out how you would like it to is to simply write it down. Having a good plan from the start makes it easier to change the recipe as you go. If you enter a cooking session without a plan, oftentimes you will forget to add major flavor components or ingredients, which may lead you to adding too much, or too little of an ingredient. This isn't to say that you should not be able to make significant, creative changes as you go, but it is to say that having a 'plan' will ensure that your recipe has a good foundation. As you go, simply take into account what ingredients you have changed, or how you have changed them. 

2) The MOST IMPORTANT thing to take into consideration when creating a recipe is flavor depth. In Victoria Boutenko's book "12 Steps to Raw Food", she outlines this more concretely, explaining how all of the the best recipes consider 5 flavors: SOUR, SWEET, SPICY, SALTY, BITTER. When developing a recipe, it is important to make sure that most (if not all) of these flavors are accounted for. You don't believe me? Take any of your favorite recipes (even desserts) and test to see if it considers all of these flavors. Here is a list of some of the items you can use to incorporate these flavors into your meals:

vinegar (apple cider, balsamic, etc.)
cranberries, or dried tart fruit
citrus (lemons, limes, oranges, etc.)
yogurts, or cheeses
pickled vegetables (pickles, radish, etc.)

Fruit juices, or nectar
Fruit (dates, strawberries, mangoes, bananas, peaches, pears, etc.)
Vegetables (sweet potato, corn, etc.)
Sugars (white/ brown, agave nectar, stevia, etc.)

SPICY (can also flow into Bitter):
Seasonings (cayenne, pepper, hot sauce, etc.)
Herbs (dill, cilantro, rosemary, mint, etc.)
Other spices (cinnamon, nutmeg, even vanilla etc.)
Horseradish, radish
Greens (arugula, cress, etc.)

Salt (there are so many different varieties, too many to name)
Sea vegetables (kelp, nori, etc.)

Seasonings (poultry seasoning, etc.)
Herbs (parsley, sage, etc.)
Chocolate/ cocoa powder
Nuts/ seeds (sesame, peanuts, etc.)
Vegetables (some salad greens, celery, etc.)

3) Texture is important to every persons palate. In fact, if not accounted for, texture can very much be the reason why a meal is disliked. Touch is very important to people, and it is most often reserved for hands/ skin, but why would it be any different for inside of the mouth? Think of the tongue as a hand (sort of gross...meh). The hand enjoys an experience, and variety of touch. Playing with texture is an important component to any good meal. Hard, soft, crunchy, chewy, creamy, jelly, etc. are all things you should consider when creating a recipe. If you feel your meal is lacking, trying incorporating different garnishes to make up for it (a sprinkle of nuts anyone? A handful of bean sprouts?)

4) Presentation is another important aspect to all great recipes. How food is figured on a plate/ bowl plays directly into ones reaction to the taste of it. Even the best meals may not be accepted well if they do not look appetizing. That being said, some of the most un-appetizing meals are made better when they look good. Some things to consider when plating are as follows:

COLORS: two of three colors are more interesting than one. If your meal is lacking in color, try garnishing it with more colors (parsley, green onions, paprika, bell peppers, etc.). Or, you can also trick the eyes by using different colors of serving wear. Perhaps even when creating the recipe, consider colors (why do you think green vegetables are so popular?)

SHAPES: For the sake of time, we often don't consider variety when it comes to cutting our fruits and vegetables. Any soup can be made more interesting simply by slicing the vegetable, rather than chopping. Or how about instead of chopping green onion as a garnish, why not slice it? Or try using different cooking cutters are fruits, or vegetables.

SIZE: When serving a meal, consider the size of plates/ serving wear you are using. Most people like to know that they are being fed well. If you are serving a meal that is 'dainty', try using smaller plates. This will help you if you find you have not made enough of a certain component.

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