Shortcuts in the kitchen: Quick ways to homemade flavor
We all have busy schedules and not enough time in our days, which can make it hard to make meals completely from scratch. Just a few small additions to standard pantry items will give you a big boost in flavor and a homemade taste.
It’s 5 p.m. You’ve had a long day and kicking up your feet with a glass of wine sounds perfect. But first, there’s that little matter of feeding those hungry mouths. Instead of opting for fast food, cheat a little to put a flavorful, semi-homemade meal on the table in no time. Don’t worry… we won’t tell.
Keep your pantry stocked with these 10 ingredients for a quick meal >>
Pasta can be a lifesaver when you’re short on time. The whole meal can be on the table as quickly as you can boil water. By taking a few extra minutes with pre-made sauce, a simple spaghetti dish can turn into a gourmet affair.
Next time you pull out a jar of red pasta sauce, try this method to amp up the flavor:
- Slice two strips of bacon and fry in a large pan. When crisp, remove and wipe out most of the bacon fat from the pan, leaving a small amount to cook onions in.
- Add a small chopped yellow onion and sauté until soft, and then add two minced garlic cloves.
- Add a pinch of oregano. For spice lovers, add a pinch of cayenne pepper.
- Add spaghetti sauce and finish as normal.
- Top dish with crisped bacon.
If you’re in a pinch and don’t have time to soak beans or chop ingredients, canned chili makes a great hearty meal. But if you’re used to your chili packing a flavorful punch, the can may leave you a little disappointed.
For a quick fix, add a dash of these spices, or any combination, to taste:
- Chili powder
- Cayenne pepper
- Garlic powder
- Onion powder
- Black pepper
Condensed tomato soup
This iconic pantry staple can actually taste pretty good with a few minor adjustments. And sometimes, nothing tastes better than tomato soup paired with a gooey grilled cheese sandwich.
Make these quick additions for a simple but tasty bowl of tomato soup:
- Sauté a few tablespoons of chopped shallots and a minced garlic clove in a small saucepan.
- Add soup.
- Instead of the usual can of water, stir in half milk, half water and heat through.
- Pour over a scoop of cooked rice.
This basic condiment can turn into a spicy or tangy sandwich spread or dipping sauce in no time. The possibilities are endless in making flavor combinations that will wow you. Play around and mix a few ingredients together… you’ll never look at mayonnaise the same.
- For tang: Add white wine vinegar, cider vinegar, lemon or lime juice or dry white wine.
- For spice: Add hot sauce, Sriracha sauce, dried chili powders or chopped jalapenos.
- For flavor: Add cumin, coriander or freshly chopped herbs like cilantro, parsley, dill or basil.