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A Few Cooking Tips to Level You Up

I love to cook. I mean, I would love it more if my kids were as enthusiastic about eating what I cook as I am preparing it...but barring that… I wanted to share a few easy tips that I have discovered that help punch up the flavor of your basic dishes. Just a quick post and you’ll be on with your day, all the wiser.

Brownies: So you buy the cheap box. Nothing fancy, just the ones that say Chewy or Fudgy Brownies. Add a teaspoon of vanilla to the mix. BAM! A whole new level of flavor that tastes like you spent more than $1.25 on it.

Pancakes:  Ok, I make my own batter - I know, annoyingly ambitious. But I’m sure it would work with pre-made pancake mix. Add a tsp of vanilla and a squeeze of lemon juice - makes them taste extra special.

Gravy: Don't have a gravy mix? No problem. All you need is flour, butter and broth or milk and a few spices. Here’s a simple recipe:

Equal parts butter and flour- 2 Tbsp butter, 2 Tbsp flour. Whisk in a pan over medium heat to cook flour. Add in spices of choice: I like a little thyme and parsley. Whisk in broth or milk (broth for regular gravy, milk for cream gravy) - about 2 cups- and allow to simmer to thicken. Season with salt and pepper to taste.

Spaghetti Sauce: Buy a jar of marinara or pasta sauce and add a teaspoon of sugar while it is simmering. Canned tomatoes are super acidic and need a little sweetness to balance them out. You can also add a little dried basil or oregano to the sauce to enhance the herbaceous flavors. Allow the sauce to simmer a little before tossing with pasta to help thicken it slightly and cook the sugar and spices. 110% better.

Cookies/Baked Sweets: Add a teaspoon of almond extract. It’s the flavor that you love that you didn’t know you loved. You may not realize it but many store bought cookies and pastries have almond extract added that give it a smooth and sweet aromatic taste. It’s mild enough that it won’t compete with other flavors- bonus!

Oatmeal: Replace half of the cooking liquid with milk. It adds a creaminess to the finished product that is so delicious!

Ok, you’re now slightly more enlightened. Now go out there and show off your new skills! Even if it’s just for yourself.



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  2. I'm sitting here wondering why anyone would ever cook oatmeal with anything other than all milk?! :) - Lindsey

    1. Haha sadly, I did for many years! I didn't know! But, it certainly makes it taste so much better!


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