Sometimes you don't have all the ingredients a recipe calls for. Case in point: Red Beans and Rice.
My recipe (my sister's, actually) calls for some bacon and some Worcestershire sauce, among other ingredients. It also calls for ring sausage. Well, I did not have bacon in the house and one of my kids is allergic to fish. Did you know Worcestershire has anchovies in it? Well, it does. I love the stuff, but I avoid putting it in our family meals. I also did not have ring sausage.
So, what to do? Run to the store? Uh - Are you kidding? If you think I'm going to the store for one ingredient (it isn't a short trip) you don't know me. Seriously.
I made do and I did without. Instead of ring sausage I substituted some link sausage made with elk that we had in the freezer. The bacon and Worcestershire were just plain not in there.
And you know what? That recipe tasted great. No one said a word about missing the bacon or any lack of flavor.
That was not the kind of food that makes for a pretty picture. And we were hungry. (Ok, I didn't even think of taking pictures. Didn't even cross my mind.) But this next recipe... Check it out:
This is not red beans.
I am no food stylist, but can't you just smell that cinnamon?
This is monkey bread. It's like cinnamon caramel rolls, but not rolled. Most recipes call for a couple of cans of those pop 'em open biscuits, each bun cut into quarters. Yeah... No. I have made them that way before, even one recipe that cooked in the microwave, and what can I say? They were quick-ish and kinda yummy, but most of that yum came from the sugar. It's like that cake-in-a-cup recipe. Only for serious must-have-it-NOW cravings where you eat it before you taste it.
For my monkey bread I used yeast bread dough. I was baking regular bread that day anyhow, so instead of one more loaf I took that portion of dough and cut it into blobs a little smaller than a golf ball. In a zip-top food storage bag I put a bunch of sugar and a palmful of cinnamon. Then I added the dough balls in batches and shook them to coat.
Now, the only tube pans I have happen to have spent the summer in the sandbox. No way I was going to try to scour those clean. Next best thing? A bundt pan. But I don't have one of those. I used my angel food cake pan. In went the coated dough. It was a lot of dough - filled that big pan about half way. You need a pan in the shape of a ring, or you're likely to get dried out buns around the rim and uncooked doughy buns in the center. If you don't have a tube pan you can substitute a casserole dish with an inverted ramekin or mug in the center. Just be sure everything is food and oven safe.
Beside not using the canned biscuits, I wasn't going to use the two sticks of butter that other recipes called for. One whole cup of butter? Ow. I opted for half that. One stick of butter and 1/2 cup of brown sugar went into the microwave to cook together for a couple of minutes. Then it got poured over the bun bites and the whole thing went into the oven for 30 minutes.
After taking it out, I let it sit for 10 minutes before inverting it onto a plate. It had a lovely caramel coating. Then the baby and I ate some (Who has time to take pictures when you're stuffing your face?) and set some aside for Daddy before letting the devouring horde the other little monkeys know it was ready. Needless to say, it was a hit with everyone. And I did not hear a single murmur about that missing stick of butter.
Good thing I used such a big pan. With twice the usual amount of dough I was nervous as I watched it rise and nearly overflow. Whew. Guess the Kitchen Madonna was watching over me there!