Not-quite-homemade is no sin and can even be quite tasty. You already know the story of my Trader Joe’s ginger snap cookies that got considerably better when they turned into ginger snap sandwich cookies – courtesy of my leftover chocolate icing. Finding a delicious way to use leftover icing without going to a lot of extra effort was a triumph, not a shameful fall from grace in my humble opinion.
I’m not too proud to cut a corner or two by using store bought sauces or other ingredients that save steps. Normally, I don’t use bottled pasta sauce as the centerpiece of a meal. But it can be a perfectly acceptable base with added veggies and/or meat and maybe a bit of wine.
If a bottled sauce allows you to make a meal at home, instead of ordering take-out or spending a bundle in a restaurant on a meal that you could have made at home, then by all means, go for it.
Though I love homemade food, I am a realist. There are times when you just can’t make something entirely from scratch. Getting a head start with a perfectly acceptable short-cut makes perfect sense and tastes quite decent.
Here are a few more examples of my not-quite homemade repertoire:
- Good quality canned bean soup (e.g. lentil, black bean) as a base for a more robust soup with added vegetables and perhaps a bit of shredded leftover meat.
- Refrigerated pre-made pie crust for a variety of pies. I do think homemade is better and I do make pie crust from scratch about half the time, but if I’m trying to get a pie thrown together in a hurry and don’t have time to make crust and let it refrigerate for 1-2 hours, then store-bought it is.
- A particular cake mix (oh horrors!) for a recipe that my family loves and my mom calls “stupid cake” because she says that “any stupid fool can make it.” The cake is delicious and takes less than 15 minutes to throw together.
- Decent store-bought hummus. Usually, I add extra lemon and a tad of ground cumin and a sprinkle of cayenne pepper, sometimes also additional tahini, for use as an appetizer with pita wedges and cut-up vegetables.
- Sweets (tarts, rolls and fruit turnovers) and savory appetizers made with store-bought puff pastry sheets.
On Wednesday, I’ll share one of my puff pastry recipes – sweet rolls that will make your brunch guests ooh and aah with pleasure. And stay tuned in the future, for more not-quite-homemade recipes that work for me.