Test Kitchen Challenge: No More Boring Dinners

All home cooks face the same challenges of wanting to get a delicious dinner on the table fast -- without spending a lot. So we asked our test kitchen team to come up with recipes that are fast, cheap and inspiring. Want to find your inner creative cook? Here's how test kitchen associate Katie Barreira did it.
INSPIRING RECIPES

Katie focused on new ways to use condiments to make her creative dishes.

hoisin glazed shrimp

HOISIN-GLAZED SHRIMP OVER CRISPY NOODLE CAKE

Try different cooking methods to bring out new possibilities with an ingredient. Though ramen is traditionally used in soup, here Katie makes it into a crispy cake for added texture.

 
tahini battered chicken

TAHINI-BATTERED CHICKEN WITH TABBOUILEH

Skip the same-old egg dip. A thick condiment like tahini can double as a flavorful batter.

 
3 CONDIMENTS, 15 POSSIBILITIES

Put these classic condiments to use in new ways.

mayonnaise

Mayonnaise
Brush it onto vegetables before grilling. Swap it for one-half of the butter in a baking recipe. Stir it into grits or scrambled eggs. Thinly coat fish with it before broiling. Mix it with salsa for dip.

maple syrup

Maple Syrup
Brush it onto cooked meats and broil for a candied crust. Whisk it into sour cream and serve with fried foods. Melt it with butter and sauté sliced carrots. Add it to stir-fries for a sweet-and-sour finish. Stir it with mustard and extra-virgin olive oil for a dressing.

garam masala

Garam Masala
Season mayo-based tuna and egg salads. Cook it with chopped apples, lemon juice and sugar for chutney. Stir it into creamy soups or sides. Mix it into flour before coating cutlets. Toss it with root vegetables and olive oil before roasting. More:

 
GET CREATIVE

Follow Katie's tips to find your inner creative cook.

Look for new flavors on restaurant menus.
Use up an ingredient that's been lying around the kitchen. Think about how you can build on its flavor or texture.
Visit a new specialty food shop -- grocery stores get into ruts, too.
Commit to trying a new recipe every two weeks. It's frequent enough to keep you inspired, but not so often that you end up feeling overwhelmed. More:

 
MORE TEST KITCHEN CHALLENGES

Still looking to solve your dinner dilemmas? See what else the test kitchen team's been up to.

 

 

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