Should I Use A Recipe, or Wing It?

Anyone else glad that May is over? This week has been crazy with birthdays, dance recitals, car purchases, and moving prep. On one of these crazy days, my husband offered to help make lunch, and I had bought the ingredients to make that delicious Korean Beef recipe I shared a couple weeks ago. He was pulling things out and getting everything ready, and then he asked how to brown the ground beef. I had to think about it- because I’ve never looked at a recipe, I just do it! My mother-in-law looked up an official recipe, and we were laughing because it makes it sound so complicated, with so many steps, when both of us just- do it!

It got me thinking about other recipes that I’ve never had to really look up, you just wing it!

Mashed potatoes is one of those. There are certainly lots of variations, and you can get some super delicious and fancy mashed potato recipes out there. But for your basic mashed potatoes, I’ve always just winged it! Boil the potatoes until they are soft, throw in some butter, milk, salt and pepper and voila! Basic mashed potatoes. Of course, you can get fancier and add heavy cream or sour cream or parmesan cheese or garlic or all kinds of things. Recipes can be helpful, but sometimes it’s fun to just create your own thing!

Grilled cheese. Another basic that I’ve always just thrown together. Mayo and butter and cheese- and sometimes I even forgo the mayo and/or the butter to cut back on fats. But again, you can definitely get fancier! I love mozzarella and basil and tomato, or ham and carmelized onions, or turkey, swiss, provolone, and raspberry jelly! Grilled cheese sandwiches are pretty basic, and I’ve ever only looked at sandwich ideas- and then created my own!

Fajitas. I had never looked up a recipe for fajitas until I came across a sheet pan version a couple years ago. Before that, I had always just thrown things together- chicken and red and green peppers all tossed together with cumin, chili powder, paprika, salt, pepper, Frank’s Red Hot Sauce and a little bit of lime juice. I never measured- just sprinkled seasonings ‘til it felt right ;). And then of course, topping it with caramelized onions and sour cream just makes it perfect!

Granted, I think I feel comfortable throwing these things together because I watched my mom cook all growing up. If I had never seen someone cook, I’m sure these simpler recipes would still feel so daunting! But because I had seen her in action, I’m not afraid to try new things, and to change things up- in fact, she has show me that many times it’s even better when you do!

Though to be honest- I’m a completely different person when it comes to baking. If I’m baking a cake, bread, cookies, etc- I follow that recipe to the letter! It’s a science I have yet to master. Maybe someday I’ll get to the point where I tweak baking recipes as well, but for now, I am where I am ;).

Are you someone that needs a recipe for everything, or do you like to wing it? Or do you do a mixture of the two?


    Camille Hoffmann
    Monthly Newsletter Contributor since 2014
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