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Secret Ingredient

"Apple-tizing" Pork Roast

“Marinate a pork roast overnight in the refrigerator in apple cider or juice,” advises Millie W. of Sioux Falls, South Dakota. “The next day, drain and discard the marinade and roast as usual.…

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'Grape' Addition to Coleslaw

“I’ve found that seedless grapes tossed into my coleslaw make it a real winner at family meals,” reports Ann C. of Watsonville, California.

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A Good Pinch of Sugar

“My mother always put a ‘good pinch’ of sugar in all her gravies and vegetables,” recalls Lona V. of Chino Valley, Arizona. “It takes away the starchy taste.”

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Add a Bit of Aniseed

Relates Jo Anne H. of Colorado Springs, Colorado, “I used to put sweet Italian sausage made with aniseed in my spaghetti sauce. I can’t find the sausage anymore, but my sauce gets raves when I add…

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Add a Little Horseradish

Reports Cindy F. of Seward, Nebraska, “I add a bit of chicken bouillon granules and horseradish to my dressing for macaroni salad. This is one flavorful dish.”

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Add Apple to Bean Soup

Remarks Juanita E. of Blanchester, Ohio, “For special flavor in any bean soup, I always drop in a cored unpeeled apple during cooking and remove it before serving.”

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Add Crunch to French Toast

“For extra crunchy French toast, coat each slice of bread with finely rolled cornflake crumbs after dipping in the egg mixture,” instructs Betty P. of El Cajon, California.

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Add Excitement to Mac 'n' Cheese

Plain macaroni and cheese is “blah” after trying it with a can of zippy tomatoes with green chilies blended in, conveys Susan P. of Republic, Missouri.

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Add Flair to Potato or Macaroni Salad

For a decorative potato or macaroni salad, dissolve a little unflavored gelatin in a small amount of water and mix with the mayonnaise before adding to the salad. Spread the salad in a mold and…

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Add Flavor to Cakes

For from-scratch flavor, Marcia C. of Toledo, Ohio adds 1 teaspoon of vanilla extract and one whole egg to a white cake mix in place of an egg white. “Everyone always tells me my cake has the best…

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Add Flavor to Canned Waxed Beans

Canned wax beans were lacking in flavor to Carole B. of Mount Forest, Ontario until her sister-in-law shared a secret: Brown a few tablespoons of butter in a hot skillet. Add the drained beans and…

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Add Flavor to Cooked Cabbage

Chicken bouillon in place of butter or bacon drippings adds great flavor to cooked cabbage, assures Mary Lou M. of Vernon, Texas.

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Add Flavor to Homemade Noodles

“When cooking homemade noodles, I put beef or chicken bouillon granules in the water and let them dissolve before mixing the dough,” reports Lila R. of Texarkana, Arkansas. “I then omit the salt.…

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Add Flavor to Slow-Cooked Beef Stew

“To add flavor and richness to my beef stew when I make it in the slow cooker, I stir in a can of tomato soup right at the start of cooking,” reveals Carol F. of Landers, California.

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Add Flavor to Stew and Gravy

To give gravy and stew great color and flavor, add a few teaspoons of soy sauce. —Denise J., Hines Creek, Alberta

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Add Frozen Zucchini to Soup

“Every summer, I grate zucchini and freeze it for use in quick breads later,” notes Helen S. of Flint, Michigan. “Whenever I make vegetable soup, I always stir in a package of that zucchini. It…

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Add in a Little Molasses

“I add 1 or 2 tablespoons of molasses to my pumpkin pie filling,” informs Julie S. of Corpus Christi, Texas. “It gives the pie a richer color and flavor.”

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Add in Some Kiwifruit

“When I make banana bread, I replace some of the banana with peeled ripe kiwi for a sweeter fruity loaf,” reveals Dawnda M. of Durant, Oklahoma.

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Add Lemon Juice to Chicken Soup

From her kitchen in Clearwater, Florida, Dorothy C. writes, “I give a batch of chicken soup a tasty spark by incorporating the juice from half of a fresh lemon.”

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Add Pickling Spices to Soups

In her Didsbury, Alberta kitchen, Sherry T. fills a tea ball with pickling spice and hangs it in kettles of soup and stew. “The deliciously different flavor keeps people wondering,” she says.

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Add Pizzazz to Seafood Salad

In Fort Myers Beach, Florida, Mary T. gives seafood pasta salads pizzazz with a sprinkling of allspice. “This secret ingredient really brings out the flavor of shrimp and crab,” she says.

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Add Sage to Squash

“A dusting of sage on cooked summer squash or cauliflower is a real improvement,” assures Ethel B. of Somers, Connecticut.

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Add Spark to Green Beans

Want to spark up a can of green beans? Alene B. of Greenville, Texas suggests, “Add a few drops of vinegar and a tablespoon or two of picante sauce. Wonderful!”

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Add Taters to Chili

“During the Depression, my mom stretched many dishes by adding potatoes,” recalls Wanda P. of Mesa, Arizona. “Even today, my favorite chili recipe uses cubed potatoes.”

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Add Variety to Side Dishes

Add variety to any dish that calls for green beans, snow peas or broccoli by substituting asparagus. Be sure to adjust the cooking time accordingly. —Katie Kathmann, Eagle, Idaho

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Add Zing to Fruit Salad

When making a fruit salad, I use the juice from a small can of pineapple to keep my apples and bananas from browning. Adding the pineapple gives the salad a little more zing, too. —Fran A.,…

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Add Zip to Potato Soup

“Put a little zip into your potato soup by stirring in a tablespoon or two of spicy mustard,” suggests Donna L. of Las Vegas, Nevada.

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Add-Ins for Green Bean Casserole

“With the mushroom soup in my green bean casserole, I add a cup or so of shredded cheddar cheese and a spoonful of prepared horseradish,” says Olive S. of Haydenville, Massachusetts.

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Added Flavor for Chicken Pasta Salad

“To make a chicken pasta salad with lots of flavor, I simmer the chicken until tender, then use the broth and additional water to cook the noodles,” comments Elizabeth F. of Red Wing,…

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Added Spark to Rhubarb Pie

“To add a spark to my rhubarb pie, I add grated orange peel,” conveys Florence V., a field editor from Story City, Iowa.

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Adding Maple Flavoring

“Maple flavoring added to my zucchini bread batter makes wonderful mellow loaves,” reveals Mildred C. of Morristown, New Jersey.

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Additional Nutrition for Scalloped Potatoes

“When I make scalloped potatoes, I toss in sliced carrots,” comments Charlotte C. of Norwalk, Connecticut. “They add color and nutrition.”

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Additional Vanilla

Helen H. of Shorewood, Wisconsin finds that an additional 1/4 teaspoon of vanilla in any cookie dough (more for larger recipes) greatly enhances the flavor.

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Allspice Adds a Little Zest

A pinch of ground allspice gives Vaunda B.’s favorite Thousand Island dressing extra zest. “It’s a super salad topper,” she writes from American Fork, Utah.

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Allspice and Beef

From Wisconsin Rapids, Wisconsin, Marjorie E. reports, “Allspice goes well with beef. I sprinkle it on beef roast and hamburger patties.”

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Almond Accent

“I grind almonds in the blender until they’re the consistency of coarse cornmeal and use them to coat pork chops, chicken or even hamburger patties. The nuts add excellent flavor,” explains Betty…

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Almond Extract Enhances Butterscotch Flavor

“Whenever I make anything butterscotch, I replace the vanilla with almond extract,” shares Dana W. of Ladysmith, Wisconsin. “It really enhances the flavor.”

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Aniseed and Rhubarb

A sprinkling of aniseed is the key to mouth-watering rhubarb pie and sauce at the home of Kathryn L. in Port Clinton, Ohio.

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Another Use for Tartar Sauce

Field editor Flo B. of Gage, Oklahoma informs, “I stir tartar sauce instead of mayonnaise into my cold pea salad. Everyone likes the distinctive taste of this side dish.”

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Apealing Pie

“When making apple pie, I add 1/4 teaspoon grated lemon peel and 1/4 teaspoon orange peel to the filling,” says Patti Mapes of Bedford, Indiana. “The citrus flavor really complements the…

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Appealing Addition to Bean Soup

“After my bean soup has simmered in the slow cooker all day with ham and onions, I add a can of pureed pumpkin,” shares Loretta B. of Le Claire, Iowa. “This addition gives the soup an appealing…

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Appealing Apple Pie

"I add some well-drained pineapple tidbits to my apple pie filling and reduce the apples by the same amount," notes Kristi McCall of Mesa, Washington. "This is an often-requested potluck…

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Appetizing Egg Salad

“I spruce up egg salad with a tablespoon of lemon juice for every six eggs. It allows me to use a little less mayonnaise while enhancing the flavor,” notes Lee Levy of Tamarac, Florida. “I…

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Apple Barbecue Sauce

“To thicken and sweeten bottled barbecue sauce, I blend in apples that I’ve mashed in the food processor,” writes Traci C. of Bayside, New York. “It’s wonderful when brushed on ribs, chicken or…

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Apple Chili

“When making chili, I add a teaspoon of sugar and a chopped peeled apple to the ingredients,” notes Dorothy Brown of Largo, Florida. “The chili has a delicious flavor everyone loves.”

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Apple Pie Gets Extra Flavor

Linda T. of Bradford, Pennsylvania adds 1/2 cup of applesauce to her apple pie filling for extra flavor and body.

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Aromatic Roast

“Whole bay leaves make my pork roast special,” says JoAnn Swope of Westerville, Ohio. “I simply cut small slits in the roast and insert three or four bay leaves. They add great flavor and…

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Asian Tuna Salad

“When I make tuna or chicken salad, I add a dash of soy sauce and sprinkle chow mein noodles on top,” says Carol Comeau of Bloomingburg, New York.

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Avocado Chili

Top your favorite chili with thinly sliced ripe avocado for a unique flavor. —Arlene Deaver, Flint, Michigan

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Baked Beans Get Italian Flair

“I like to add browned and crumbled Italian sausage to my baked beans along with some brown sugar and a little dry onion soup mix,” conveys Connie E. in Cambridgeshire, England.

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Bakery-Style Muffin Mix

“When making muffins from a mix, I top each muffin with a teaspoon of brown sugar and a few slivered almonds before baking,” suggests Elaine C. of Warren, Michigan. “They taste like they came from…

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Banana Bonus

“My family really likes my yellow cake,” says Marie Wolf of New Ulm, Minnesota. “That’s because I add one large or two small ripe bananas to the batter before mixing with my electric mixer.”

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Banana Bread Bonus

“One day, as I was baking banana bread, I discovered I was out of vanilla. I used maple syrup instead, and the bread was delicious,” says Diana Frank of Ijamsville, Maryland.

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Banana Chocolate Cake

“For moist chocolate cake from a packaged mix, I chop half of a ripe banana and fold it into the batter,” remarks Diana Ramo of Chatham, New Jersey.

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Banana Oatmeal Cookies

From Peculiar, Missouri, Velma Carpenter shares her secret to bringing a bit of down-home goodness to packaged oatmeal cookie mixes. “I simply toss in a chopped banana as I’m stirring together the…

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Banana Pudding

Whenever I make banana pudding with sugar-free instant pudding mix and fresh bananas, I crush up cinnamon graham crackers and sprinkle them on top for a little different taste. These nicely spiced…

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Bananas Dress Up Boxed Cake Mix

“To dress up a chocolate cake from a box mix, I place banana slices between the layers with the frosting,” offers Joan B. of St. Louis, Missouri. “This is a favorite birthday cake at our…

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Barbecue Baked Beans

“To any canned baked beans, stir in about 1/4 cup barbecue sauce, 1/4 teaspoon each garlic powder and pepper and 1/2 teaspoon dried basil,” suggests Michelle A. of Knoxville, Ohio. “My husband…

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Batter Up

“When I make pancake and waffle batter, I like to add yogurt,” jots Bill Johnson of Fort Mill, South Carolina. “To give the pancakes or waffles a fruity taste, you can use a flavored yogurt such…

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Beef Stew Thickener

I add quick-cooking tapioca to my beef stew to get a nice thick consistency for my sauce. —Judi J., Spanish Fork, Utah

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Before Baking Beef Roast

“When cooking a beef roast in the oven, I first cover the meat with a mixture of ketchup, mustard and prepared horseradish,” says Sue M. of Windsor, Vermont.

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Best Baked Beans

“As long as I can remember, I’ve added ground cinnamon to my baked beans,” writes Jean Newton of Omaha, Nebraska. “I get nothing but compliments on them.”

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Best Burgers and Meat Loaves

“We like the flavor of bacon in burgers and meat loaf,” explains Charlene F. of Coaldale, Alberta. “To save time, I mix packaged bacon bits into the meat before grilling or baking.”

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Best Meat Loaf Topper

“Just after I married a few years ago, I called my grandmother to find out what made her meat loaf so mouth-watering,” shares Jina N. of Lawton, Oklahoma. “Twenty minutes before it’s done, she…

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Best Roasted Turkey Breast

To give spark to a roasted turkey breast, Dorothy W. of Au Gres, Michigan, sprinkles on dry onion soup mix before putting it in the oven. “With frequent basting, the flavor goes right through the…

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Better Box Mix Pancakes

Says Debbie L. from St. Charles, Missouri, “When I make my Sunday pancakes using a boxed mix, I stir in a dash of baking soda, lemon juice, vanilla and sugar. This combination really wakes up…

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Better Boxed Stuffing Mix

“When I prepare a box of stuffing mix, I’ll sometimes replace the water with apple juice,” reports Bud T. of Leominster, Massachusetts. “It tastes almost as good as Grandma’s.”

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Better Breading Tip for Chicken

When breading chicken, I coat the pieces with mayonnaise instead of egg. The mayonnaise clings to the chicken and doesn’t drip like the egg does. Plus, it adds nice flavor. —Vita G., Central…

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Better Brownies

“My 10-year-old daughter, Andrea, adds peanut butter chips and vanilla chips to brownie batter before baking,” says Jonni Sue Cudworth of Fenton, Missouri. “They are delicious!”

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Better Creamy Mashed Potatoes

My secret to rich creamy mashed potatoes is to boil them whole and unpeeled. This decreases the amount of water they absorb while cooking. Then, I just hold the warm potatoes with an oven mitt…

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Better Flavor Scramble

Relates Judi B. of Reinholds, Pennsylvania, “My children gobble up scrambled eggs when I add a pinch of curry powder.”

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Better White Bakery Cakes

Remarks Ginny C. of St. Louis, Missouri, “When we used to sell white bakery cakes, we stirred in a tiny bit of orange extract to give the batter a little zip.”

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Better-Flavored Carrots

I discovered if I add instant beef bouillon granules to the water when boiling carrots, my family really enjoys them. —Joyce H. Rio Rancho, New Mexico

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Biscuit Cinnamon Rolls

In Gray Court, South Carolina, Cecille Rumph turns ordinary refrigerated biscuits into easy cinnamon rolls. “I press raisins into the top of each biscuit and sprinkle with cinnamon before baking,”…

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Boost for Chicken Soup

Says Teresa M. of Brunswick, Georgia, “To give my chicken soup a boost, I add a generous sprig of fresh mint to the pot when it’s done cooking, then remove it a few minutes before serving. In each…

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Boost for Graham Cracker Crusts

Remarks Joan K. of Prince Albert, Saskatchewan, “Any graham cracker crust gets a boost by substituting flaked coconut or finely chopped pecans for 1/4 cup of the crumbs.”

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Boost Gravy's Color and Flavor

Add a few granules of instant coffee to gravy that’s bland and pale. You can’t taste the coffee, but it gives the look and flavor a real boost. —Maryellen M., Searcy, Arkansas

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Broth Adds Flavor

Canned chicken broth adds excellent flavor to most any vegetable. Use it instead of water when cooking. —Marion B., Canyon Country, California

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Brownie Dessert

My favorite way to serve brownies is to put them on individual serving plates, top each with a scoop of chocolate swirl ice cream, add some chocolate sauce and a generous spoonful of whipped…

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Brushed-Up Biscuits

"I like the convenience of refrigerated biscuits in a tube, but they need pizzazz, so I brush the tops with Italian salad dressing before baking. They taste like garlic bread and go great with…

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Burgers Get Taco Twist

In Port Charlotte, Florida, Lois Ann S. makes mouth-watering burgers by mixing the ground beef with taco seasoning and chopped green chilies.

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Buttermilk Pancakes

“I use buttermilk instead of milk when making waffles, biscuits or pancakes from a mix,” reveals Barbara N. of Reno, Nevada. “They’re extra rich and delicious.”

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Cabbage Coleslaw Kids Love

“My kids were never crazy about coleslaw, but I wanted them to eat cabbage,” remarks Marge B. of Bella Vista, Arkansas. “So now I add a chopped apple and some raisins to finely grated cabbage with…

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Candy Bar Cookie Secret

Conveys Carrie P. of Clinton, New Jersey, “I chill my chocolate chip cookie dough, wrap the dough around mini Snickers candy bars, then bake. My eighth-grade algebra teacher used to make these for…

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Canned Baked Beans Get Homemade Flavor

“I improve canned baked beans with ketchup, diced onion and brown sugar,” explains Lynn E. of Greentown, Indiana. “But my secret ingredient is a bit of cinnamon. There are never any leftovers.”

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Canned Beans Taste Homemade

“Folks go back for seconds of prepared pork and beans when I add 2 tablespoons of brown sugar and 1 tablespoon of butter to a 16-ounce can,” informs Marjetta M. of Brawley, California.

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Carrot Cake's in High Demand

Maintains Blake B. of Ogden, Utah, “I’m not allowed to come to any potluck parties without my special carrot cake. I include some miniature chocolate chips in the batter.”

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Carrots Are Lovely and Tasty

JoAnn C. of San Jose, California dresses up her cooked, diagonally sliced carrots by coating them with French dressing and a sprinkling of dill weed. Says JoAnn, “Guests comment on how lovely and…

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Carrots in Wild Rice

When making wild rice, add a cup or two of shredded carrots toward the end of cooking. You’ll enjoy the extra crunch! —Connie D., Knoxville, Tennessee

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Casserole with Crunch

“When I make a meat pie or casserole with a Mexican flair, I top it with crushed barbecue potato chips. They add a delightful spicy crunch,” writes Lorraine Darocha of Mountain City, Tennessee.

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Cheery Cherry Cookies

“To make my sugar cookies extra special, I sprinkle them with cherry gelatin before baking. They taste good…and look prettier, too,” says Ruth Blair of North Platte, Nebraska.

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Cheese Biscuits

When Patti Dierks mixes up baking powder biscuits, she includes some grated cheese and garlic salt. The Frederic, Wisconsin cook says the biscuits are perfect with just about any main dish, soup…

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Cheesy Addition to French Toast

For a dairy delicious breakfast, Lillian A. of St. Clair Shores, Michigan layers slices of cheese between two pieces of French toast. “By the time the toast is golden, the cheese is melted,” she…

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Cheesy Carrots

“Not everyone in my family likes plain old carrots, so now after I cook and drain them, I melt a few slices of American cheese on top,” relates Dorothy Colclasure of Decatur, Illinois. “We really…

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Cheesy Meatballs

“When making meatballs, try adding a tablespoon of grated aged provolone cheese per pound of ground beef,” suggests Jean P., Feasterville, Pennsylvania. “They’re irresistible.”

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Cheesy Mushroom Meat Loaf

Relates Mary S. of La Junta, Colorado, “When making my meat loaf, I press three-quarters of the meat mixture on the bottom and up the sides of the pan. I fill the center with sliced mushrooms and…

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Cheesy Tuna Casserole

“My family used to complain when I made tuna casserole,” remarks Jean Centers of Crittenden, Kentucky. “So one day, I added shredded mozzarella cheese to the dish, and they loved it! Now, that’s…

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Cherry Brownies

June Bolhafner adds 1/2 cup of dried cherries to boxed brownie mixes. “I reserve a little of the mix and coat the cherries with it, then fold them into the batter right before baking,” she writes…

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Cherry Flavor Boost

I add a little almond extract (or use it in place of vanilla) to my favorite cherry recipes to boost the natural cherry flavor. —Lorraine Caland, Thunder Bay, Ontario

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Cherry Salsa

For a twist on traditional homemade salsa, I substitute pitted fresh cherries for tomatoes and coarsely chop them in my food processor. My family loves this tasty variation served with our…

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Chewy Chip Cookies

“My dad taught me to add a tablespoon of dark corn syrup to chocolate chip cookie batter. It keeps the cookies moist and also a bit chewy,” shares Shirley De Barthe of Las Cruces, New Mexico.

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Chicken and Rice

“This quick fix never fails in our home,” notes Kyt Hoover of Jackson, Michigan. “Dress up a package of long grain and wild rice by adding 1-1/2 cups cooked chicken. Just before serving, sprinkle…

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Chili Powder Perks Up Spaghetti Sauce

Reports Susan B. of Wellesley, Ontario, “I sprinkle 1 or 2 teaspoons of chili powder into a quart of my homemade spaghetti sauce. Everyone says it’s the best ever.”

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Chili Stuffed Peppers

From Shreveport, Louisiana, Marilyn Otstott shares this trick for speedy stuffed peppers. “Use a can of chili in place of the ground beef,” she says. “Since the chili is already cooked and…

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Chili with Tortillas

A warm tortilla is a wonderful complement to a steaming bowl of chili. —Tracy Howard, Black Hawk, South Dakota

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Chili's Better with Bits

A jar of bacon bits and a can of mushrooms enhance homemade chili at the Greensboro, North Carolina home of Karen L.

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Chocolate Angel Food Cake

“Sift a couple tablespoons of baking cocoa with the dry contents of an angel food cake mix before adding the liquid,” recommends June E. of Sturgeon Bay, Wisconsin. “It makes a light dessert that…

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Chocolate Cake Tip

When a chocolate cake recipe calls for brewed coffee and you don’t have any on hand, simply substitute prepared instant coffee…or plain hot water.

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Chocolate Chili

A bit of semisweet chocolate added to your chili recipe will reduce the acid from the tomatoes and help blend the flavors. —Katherine Nelson, Centerville, Utah

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Cilantro Adds Spark to Tuna Salad

Chopped cilantro gives a lot of spark to ordinary tuna salad, remarks Sheryl H. of Avon, Indiana. “Over a bed of lettuce, this tuna salad is a delightful light summer meal,” she shares.

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Cinnamon Seasons Pork Roast

“When I make a pork roast, I season the top with salt and pepper, then liberally sprinkle on ground cinnamon,” explains Leane T. of West Allis, Wisconsin.

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Citrus Pie Crust

“For my rhubarb pie, I make an orange crust,” informs Edna S. of Orchard Park, New York. “I add grated orange peel to the flour mixture and use orange juice instead of water. Delicious!”

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Citrus Twist for Pie Crusts

Conveys Loretta W. of Mercersburg, Pennsylvania, “A bit of orange or lemon peel mixed in with the flour makes my pie crust special.”

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Classy Coffee

“To brew a pot of coffee ‘deluxe’, I place a single bag of spiced tea on top of my grounds in the basket,” offers Sharon Jeffrey of Charles City, Virginia. “It’s great iced, too!”

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Cloves & Honey Enhance Chili

“I stir a dash or two of ground cloves and a couple tablespoons of honey into a big pot of chili,” remarks Catherine B. of Canton, Texas. “These ingredients bring out the flavor of the tomatoes…

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Club Soda Cake

To ensure that her cakes turn out light and fluffy, Patty Steiner relies on a trick she says always works. “I substitute club soda for the water that’s called for on a cake mix package,” writes…

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Cobbler Seasonings

I enjoy trying different spices in my baking. Instead of using a teaspoon of cinnamon in my peach cobbler, I substitute a teaspoon of aniseed or 1/4 teaspoon of ground nutmeg or ground cardamom.…

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Cocoa Cookie Mix

Ruth Macy of Barre, Vermont has an easy way to dress up a boxed cookie mix. “I combine 1/3 cup of baking cocoa with 1/4 teaspoon each of nutmeg and cinnamon,” she says. “I add this to the mix for…

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Coffee Cake Dessert

I like to dress up coffee cake and serve it as dessert with ice cream and a drizzle of caramel or hot fudge ice cream topping. I use caramel topping on my apple and peach coffee cake and chocolate…

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Coffee Cake Mix Substitution

“I sometimes substitute equal amounts of apple juice for the milk called for in store-bought coffee cake mixes, then I add 1-1/2 teaspoons of ground cinnamon to the batter,” writes Joanne H. of…

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Colorful Stuffing Ingredient

“When I saute onions and celery to make my stuffing, I also include diced carrots,” shares Jan K., Houghton, Michigan. “The carrots add nutrition and lovely color to the mixture.”

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Cooked Coffee Pudding

“I make pudding often. So for variety, I add a teaspoon of instant coffee granules to the mixture when I’m cooking vanilla pudding,” says Mary Eno from Melrose, Massachusetts. “It’s yummy.”

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Cookies Get Festive Twist

Remembers Barbara H. of Appleton, Wisconsin, “My mother gave chocolate chip cookies a new twist for the holidays by substituting chopped red and green spiced gumdrops for some or all of the…

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Cooking Beef Roast

Ann H. of Nashville, Tennessee discovered a terrific way to cook a beef roast. She reports, “My roast goes into the pan with a package of onion soup mix, a can of mushrooms and some coffee. It…

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Cooking Cranberries

“I use orange juice, not water, to cook fresh cranberries,” remarks Jackie Z. of Middleton, Wisconsin. “It’s a tangy combination.”

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Corn Bread Waffles

Pat Hinton found a new way to serve her corn bread. “I thinned the batter from a boxed mix and poured it onto a hot waffle iron,” explains the McComb, Mississippi baker. “The crispy result was…

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Corn Gets a Boost

“To give corn a boost, I stir in butter, garlic salt, a dash of cayenne pepper and chopped fresh parsley,” shares Dayle B. of Portland, Oregon.

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Corn Relish in Soup

“In the colder months, I make a lot of vegetable soup,” comments Martha C. of Celina, Ohio. “One day I was out of corn, so I used corn relish instead. The flavor was great. Now I include it in…

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Corny Pancake Batter

“I mix cream-style corn into pancake batter for a different breakfast treat,” says Eugenie Y. of Bigfork, Montana.

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Cottage Cheese Strawberry Smoothies

Adding cottage cheese to my strawberry smoothies makes them thick and creamy and adds an extra measure of protein and calcium for my children. I like to serve smoothies on our family’s pizza…

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Cottage Cheese Topper

From her kitchen in Fort Wayne, Indiana, Joan P. notes, “Father always drizzled a little maple syrup onto a serving of cottage cheese. I agree it tastes really good.”

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Cranberry-Orange Bread

From Warren, Michigan, Alice Komic reports, “I simply add a 12-ounce tub of cranberry-orange relish to my nut bread recipe.”

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Creamier Macaroni and Cheese

To make her homemade macaroni and cheese more creamy and satisfying, Doris E. of Sheboygan Falls, Wisconsin adds either sour cream or prepared French onion dip.

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Creamier Sugar Icing

If you add a pinch of baking powder to your sugar icing, it’ll stay creamy and not harden or crack. —Sister Eleanor Marie J., Chicago, Illinois

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Creamy Coleslaw

“To make coleslaw creamier, I add 4 tablespoons of whipped topping after stirring in the dressing,” relates Grace Borstad of Montevideo, Minnesota.

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Creamy Lasagna

“When I make lasagna, I blend an 8-ounce package of softened cream cheese into the ricotta and egg mixture,” writes Donna M. from Newton Falls, Ohio. “Sometimes I also add a little chopped…

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Creamy Potato Soup

I like to add some grated carrots to my creamy potato soup. It complements the flavor of cream soup nicely and adds color. —Marie Westgaard, Prince George, British Columbia

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Creamy Potatoes

“Instead of adding butter and cream to my mashed potatoes, I add flavored cream cheese—usually chive and onion,” writes Margaret Manetta of Clinton Township, Michigan. “This really enhances the…

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Creative Coating

“Since I cannot tolerate wheat, corn, egg yolk, soy and all dairy products, I coat meat by first dipping it in slightly beaten egg white, then dry potato flakes. It works well,” says Loraine Meyer…

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Creative Crumb Topping

“I use french-fried onions with the cereal or crackers I crush to top my casseroles,” says Mary C. of Sycamore, Illinois. “The onions add a simple savory boost of flavor.”

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Creative Maple Cookies

I was mixing up a double batch of chocolate chip cookies and didn't have enough vanilla, so I made one batch with the vanilla and the other with maple flavoring. —Ruth F. from…

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Crispy Chip Topping

“I never throw out the crumbs at the bottom of a potato chip bag,” notes Mary Ann Hullinger of Oklahoma City, Oklahoma. “They’re wonderful as toppings for casseroles, meat loaf and scalloped…

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Crunchy Waffles

“I make waffles for breakfast or as a side dish,” says Mrs. Elwin E. of Salem, Oregon. “After pouring batter into the waffle iron, I sprinkle on crushed potato chips before closing the lid. My…

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Crushed Aniseed

Tanya N. of Shelton, Washington grinds or crushes aniseed, then adds it and seasoned salt to pork roasts and chops to perk up the flavor.

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Crust with Crunch

“When making a graham cracker crumb crust, I reduce the amount of crumbs by 1/4 cup and add ground pecans. It tastes great,” Betty Langford notes from Memphis, Tennessee.

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Cut the Bitterness of Peppers

“Put a teaspoon of grape jelly or strawberry jam inside the bottom of your green peppers before stuffing them,” advises Sherry D. of Hermitage, Pennsylvania. “I find this simple step cuts the…

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Delicious Carrot Casserole

Conveys Connie S. of Rochester, New Hampshire, “I steam fresh carrots, then put them in a casserole dish and pour some maple syrup over them. I bake them at 250° for 30 minutes. They disappear…

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Delicious Chicken Coating

“I coat chicken breasts with a mixture of olive oil, rosemary and oregano before roasting them,” reports Dom G. of Deerfield Street, New Jersey. “Most family members ask for seconds and even…

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Delicious Deviled Eggs

Cindi E. of Longmont, Colorado mixes caraway seeds with the filling for her deviled eggs. “I frequently get requests to bring those eggs to gatherings,” she says.

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Delicious Pie Crusts

Recommends Bonnie G. of Brunswick, Ohio, “For enhanced flavor in your pie crust, add a bit of sugar and a few drops of vanilla to your basic recipe. If you’re making an apple or pumpkin pie, also…

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Delicious Sauerkraut Combination

When Martha H. of Roslyn Heights, New York heats up a package of sauerkraut, she mixes in a can of whole-berry cranberry sauce and a bit of brown sugar. “The tangy combination is irresistible,”…

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Delicous Spice Combo for Pork

“A pinch of ground cloves is a terrific addition to pork chops, pork roast and bread dressing for poultry or pork,” assures Lenore G. of Woodbury, Minnesota.

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Dill Hash Browns

Frozen hash browns are a time-saving accompaniment to breakfast, brunch or even dinner mainstays. “I’ve found that adding a little dill seed to the potatoes before cooking makes them taste…

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Dilly Twist to Vegetable Soup

To his vegetable soup, James H. of Albion, Michigan adds chopped dill pickle and a bit of brine from the pickle jar. “I learned this trick from my mother-in-law,” James shares.

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Dip into Corn Bread

“To make corn bread, I use a small box mix that calls for one egg and 1/3 cup milk,” says Donna Frederick of Topeka, Kansas. “But instead of the milk, I stir in 3/4 cup of French onion dip.”

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Double Chocolate Pudding

Shawna E. of Hominy, Oklahoma makes a large box of cook-and-serve chocolate pudding taste extra rich by stirring in 1/4 cup butter and 1 cup chocolate chips.

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Doubly Chocolate Brownies

“When I whip up a boxed brownie mix, I make it special by adding almond extract and chocolate chips,” notes Bette Bartig from Ladysmith, Wisconsin. “I can’t eat just one brownie; they’re so…

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Dressed Up Cake Mix

“Before baking chocolate cake from a mix, I add 1/2 cup of boysenberry jam to the batter,” relates Isabella C. of Gustine, California. “I also dot jam over the white frosting for a pretty effect.…

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Dressed Up Corn Bread Stuffing

Every time that my grandmother fixed corn bread dressing, she added chopped red apples with the peel still on. They really "dressed it up.”—Honey J., Starkville, Mississippi.

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Dressed-Up Cupcakes

Looking for a quick way to dress up cupcakes? Try this layering idea from Sherry Tschritter. “Prepare both chocolate cake batter and white cake batter from store-bought mixes,” instructs the…

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Dressing Up Cooked Beets

Ellen S. of Commerce Towns, Michigan dresses up sliced cooked beets by drizzling a bit of bottled sweet-and-sour sauce over them before serving.

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Dressing Up Salad

My husband and I eat a lot of salads, so I try to come up with quick, easy ideas for dressing them up. Instead of adding croutons, I sprinkle our salads with stuffing mix for some extra crunch. We…

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Dry Lemonade Mix

Keep dry lemonade mix on hand to enhance the flavor of apple, rhubarb or other fruit pies. It also helps perk up iced tea and even frosting. It’s less expensive and quicker than using fresh lemon.…

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Dust Cake Pans with Cocoa

When a recipe calls for dusting the pan with flour and the batter is chocolate, I “flour” with baking cocoa instead. The cocoa enhances the chocolate flavor and eliminates the white flour dust!…

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Easy Cherry Brownies

“For a delightful change, I mix a can of cherry pie filling into my brownie batter,” conveys Myrna A. of Idalia, Colorado.

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Easy Raspberry Iced Tea

“I stir 1/4 cup of raspberry juice into each tall glass of iced tea,” reports Faye B. of Alexandria, Virginia. “We love that refreshing beverage.”

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Eggs Italian-Style

“I had some extra Italian bread crumbs that I added to scrambled eggs one morning,” relates Carolyn Ragno of Irvington, New Jersey. “They were zesty, and I didn’t have to use salt and pepper.”

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Eggscellent Meat Loaf

“Before baking meat loaf, I make a deep depression lengthwise down the center with a spoon,” reports Ruth T. of Senecaville, Ohio. “In it, I lay peeled hard-cooked eggs end to end, cover them…

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Enhance Flavor of Instant Potatoes

To make instant mashed potatoes pass for “from scratch,” use more milk than water, more butter than the directions call for and a pinch of sugar, instructs Charles D. of Annandale, Virginia.

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Enhancing the Flavor of Blueberry Pie

To enhance the flavor of blueberry pie, Anne J. sprinkles the berries in the pie shell with a tiny bit of white vinegar. “It gives ordinary berries wonderful zest,” remarks this Toms River, New…

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Extra Boost for Spaghetti Sauce

“Spaghetti sauce gets a boost when I add grated lemon peel,” says Christina S. of Charlotte, North Carolina.

Consider adding fresh vegetables like green pepper or zucchini to your spaghetti…

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Extra Cheesy Potatoes

Jennifer Trusock of Ubly, Michigan dresses up boxed au gratin potatoes with extra cheese. “I stir some shredded cheddar into the mixture before baking,” she pens. “When the potatoes are tender, I…

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Extra Flavor for Ham Loaf

Field editor Geraldine G. of Mt. Pleasant, Michigan mixes a bit of rosemary into her ham loaf for extra flavor.

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Extra Richness for Pudding Pie

“When I make a chocolate pie using a pudding mix, I give it extra richness by mixing in a handful of chocolate chips,” offers Garnetta P., Colonial Heights, Virginia.

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Extra-Delicious Turkey Gravy

“For extra-rich and delicious turkey gravy, I stir sour cream into the turkey drippings,” remarks Maija N. of Sonoma, California.

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Extra-Special Eggs

“Everyone in my family loves my grandmother’s deviled eggs. To the usual mayonnaise, mustard and egg yolk filling, she adds 2 to 3 teaspoons of crumbled bacon and 2 to 3 teaspoons of peanut…

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Extract More Cake Flavors

“In the 1940s, my mother and aunt baked wedding cakes and used a trick to make those cakes, plus sugar cookies and frostings, more tasty,” recalls Drusilla L. of Cambridge, Illinois. “They stirred…

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Fancy Twist for Bread Pudding

Ordinary bread pudding becomes a distinctive treat when Joyce W. of Houston, Texas uses angel food cake instead of bread, and substitutes dried cranberries for raisins.

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Favorite Chili Sauce

In our family, chili sauce doesn't last long. We use it in meat loaf, on sandwiches and even with eggs. —Pat Wattie, Stoney Creek, Ontario

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Favorite Flavor

Rosemary Best of Pittsfield, Massachusetts says, “I add ground cloves to a variety of dishes, including chili, cookies, eggs and chocolate or spice cake. I also mix it with cinnamon and sugar to…

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Flavor Boost for Instant Rice

“Everyone loves it when I make instant rice with a can of beef consomme instead of water,” says Marsha G. of Cass City, Michigan. “Since you use equal amounts of liquid and rice, I simply use the…

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Flavor Twist for Chocolate Chip Cookies

“All the kids in my neighborhood love the taste of my chocolate chip cookies,” says Donna F. of Contoocook, New Hampshire. “I simply substitute almond extract for the vanilla.”

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Flavor Twist for Peas

“I cook peas in the juice from a can of pineapple along with margarine and onion powder,” reveals Bonnie B. of Sylva, North Carolina. “Before serving, I stir in the pineapple chunks.”

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Flavor Twist for Pudding

Sprinkle fruit-flavored gelatin powder over vanilla pudding to give it a pretty look and additional flavor. —Arlene W., Weslaco, Texas

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Flavor Twist for Sloppy Joes

“Give your sloppy joes a sweet-and-sour twist by adding a can of crushed pineapple, juice and all,” informs Lana C. of Bend, Oregon. “It’s really good on onion rolls.”

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Flavored Whipped Cream

“To give that little something extra to fresh whipped cream, I add 2 or 3 drops of almond extract along with the vanilla flavoring,” explains Jan B. from Chisholm, Minnesota.

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Flavorful Baked Beans

"For my baked beans, I use a can of pork and beans, brown sugar, ketchup and onions," writes Ethel Fleenor of Hamilton, Ohio. "Then I add a heaping tablespoon of sweet pickle relish for a…

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Flavorful Roasted Turkey

"When I roast a turkey, I put a whole apple in the neck and body cavities, along with onions, celery hearts and carrots," says Kathy Hadley of Cicero, New York. "The apple adds lots of moisture…

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For Crispier French Toast

When I want crispy French toast, I add a touch of cornstarch to the egg mixture. —Ada D., Franklin, Ohio

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For Dark, Savory Gravy

Remembers Susan G. of Lake Hiawatha, New Jersey, “My dad was a great cook. His secret to dark savory gravy was coffee. He poured a cup of brewed coffee around a roast or turkey as he was putting…

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For Sharp Lasagna

“I replace a quarter of the mozzarella cheese in my lasagna recipe with shredded sharp cheddar,” informs Tracy L. of Cincinnati, Ohio. “It greatly heightens the flavor.”

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For the Best Peach Cobbler

“For the best peach cobbler, drizzle 2 tablespoons of honey over the pan before putting it in the oven,” suggests Desoree T. of Beaumont, California.

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French Toast Twist

“Give your French toast a different taste,” recommends Karen Miller of Hampton, Virginia. “Instead of adding all milk to the eggs, use flavored liquid coffee creamer and just a touch of milk. The…

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Fresh-Tasting Pasta Combination

From Allendale, Michigan, Nancy P. writes, “I often serve pasta prepared with fresh vegetables and chopped garlic, both of which have been sauteed in olive oil. For delightful taste and color, I…

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Fruity Sauce

I like to add sliced bananas to cooled rhubarb sauce. The bananas do not turn brown, and the sauce will keep for a few days in the refrigerator. —Donna T., Roaring Spring,…

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Fruity Zucchini Bread

“I perk up my zucchini bread with grated orange peel, chopped dates and maraschino cherries. Now I call it my Something Special Zucchini Bread,” Jackie Larson writes from North Branch,…

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Full-Flavored French Toast

Says Jill H. of Wakeman, Ohio, “I mix melted vanilla ice cream and a dash of nutmeg and cinnamon with the eggs for the very best French toast.”

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Fun Sugar Cookies

“For a fun presentation, press refrigerated sugar cookie dough onto a pizza pan or square baking pan,” says Marcia Mullinix of Fairfield, Ohio. “Top with any combination of chocolate or…

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Garden-Fresh Green Beans

I let my imagination be my guide when I cook garden-fresh green beans. I steam the beans in a small amount of water with a little salt and sugar. After draining the beans, I stir in butter and…

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Garlic Cream of Mushroom Soup

“To give homemade flavor to a can of cream of mushroom soup, simply stir in 1/4 teaspoon of garlic powder,” explains Stephen Dowe of Brooklyn, New York.

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Gelatin Gets Something Extra

Instructs Jena C. of St. Louis, Missouri, “Mix a 3-ounce box of flavored gelatin with 1 cup boiling water as directed. Instead of cold water, add one 15- or 16-ounce jar of applesauce and chill…

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Get Kids to Eat Oatmeal

“Kids don’t always care for oatmeal but love chocolate,” points out Edwina W. of Basking Ridge, New Jersey. “Add instant hot chocolate mix to each bowl, and you’ll get asked for seconds!”

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Get More Butterscotch Flavor

To bring out the flavor of butterscotch pie filling or pudding, Betty B. from Desert Hot Springs, California, stirs in a couple drops of cider vinegar.

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Getting Kids to Eat Liver

“When my kids were growing up, they didn’t like liver, but they loved my meat loaf,” recalls Patsye Y. of Ovid, New York. “They didn’t know that I added ground cooked liver to my meat loaf. When I…

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Getting Moist Zucchini Bread

Relates Pat D. of Fort Fairfield, Maine, “Several tablespoons of strawberry freezer jam make my zucchini bread moist and delicious.”

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Getting My Family to Eat Veggies

“My family is hard to please when it comes to cooked vegetables,” comments Kris C. of Medford, Wisconsin. “So I drain a can of French-style green beans, then heat them with sliced fresh mushrooms…

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Getting Softer Oatmeal Cookies

“If you don’t like ‘jaw-breaking’ oatmeal drop cookies, add a few mashed very ripe bananas to your recipe,” advises Don A. of Medford, Oregon. “With this simple addition, the cookies come out soft…

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Give Ham Candied Flavor

Alfred S. Jr. of Fergus Falls, Minnesota recommends dabbing a few teaspoons of maple syrup onto ham slices when they’re almost done frying. “Turn the slices several times so the syrup glazes the…

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Give Potato Salad a Bit of Zip

To give potato salad zip, Allen R. of Diboll, Texas stirs in prepared horseradish, grated Parmesan cheese and a few drops of hot pepper sauce.

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Give Scrambled Eggs Italian Flair

“Being Italian, I use olive oil and garlic in almost everything,” reports Adria P. of Castaic, California. “Scrambled eggs are unbeatable with a dash of garlic powder and cooked in olive oil.”

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Gobbled Up Sprouts

Conveys Ruth C. of Glendale Heights, Illinois, “I shake steamed brussels sprouts in a mixture of 3/4 cup flour, 1/4 cup grated Parmesan cheese and pepper to taste. Then I dunk them in beaten egg,…

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Great Canned Gravy

“To make canned chicken and turkey gravy taste more like homemade, mix in a sprinkling of poultry seasoning,” advises Mrs. Ralph K. of Muncy, Pennsylvania.

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Great Change for Tossed Salad

“When asked to bring a salad for a dinner, I topped lettuce greens with chopped carrot, celery and apple plus raisins and sliced almonds,” recalls Ruth J. of Everson, Pennsylvania. “It was so…

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Great Flavor Idea for Apple Pie

“Substitute 1/3 cup brown sugar plus 1/2 teaspoon of ground ginger for 1/3 cup granulated sugar to your favorite apple pie recipe,” suggests L. Trimble of Sonoma, California. “We love these…

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Great Grapefruit

“One day when we were out of sugar, I poured a bit of maple syrup over a grapefruit half,” remembers Sarah M. of Lehighton, Pennsylvania. “It immediately sweetened every section right to the…

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Great Green Beans

“Along with minced onion, I add a bouillon cube and a little brown sugar to every can of green beans I prepare,” notes Joan Gocking of Morgantown, West Virginia. “My husband gobbles them up!”

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Great Grilled Cheese

“For extra flavor, I add mayonnaise and mustard to grilled cheese sandwiches,” relates Kay Durr of Salem, Oregon.

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Great Mocha Flavor

Use cold coffee instead of water when making chocolate cake for a rich mocha flavor, recommends Velma K. of Chicago, Illinois.

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Great Use for Zucchini

A bit of shredded zucchini added to a boxed brownie mix makes extra moist and tasty brownies, suggests Kathy W. of Gansevoort, New York.

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Green Bean Chili

I make a delicious alternative to traditional chili by substituting green beans for kidney beans. It's especially popular with folks who like the taste of chili but don’t care for kidney beans.…

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Green Bean Salsa Side Dish

“I enjoy a Mediterranean green bean side dish prepared with olive oil, onion and tomato sauce,” notes Martha Blonde from Lansing, Michigan. “To achieve similar results more quickly, I prepare a…

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Grilled Asparagus

Grill fresh asparagus for a tasty side dish…or add to any chilled salad or hearty soup. You'll love the slightly smoky flavor! —Katie Zirbes, Silver Lake, Minnesota

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Grilled Cheese

Instead of buttering the outside of the bread, I spread it with mayonnaise when I make grilled cheese sandwiches. Be sure to use regular mayonnaise because the low-fat and fat-free varieties will…

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Half-and-Half Bread Pudding

Says Mary S. from Otley, Iowa, “To please everyone in our family when I make bread pudding, I put sugar, cinnamon and raisins on one half and chocolate chips and miniature marshmallows on the…

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Ham Macaroni and Cheese

“I prepare boxed macaroni and cheese according to package directions,” says Susan Graham of Clearfield, Pennsylvania. “When it’s done, I stir in a small can of chunky ham to make an effortless…

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Ham Salad Sweetener

“When I make ham salad, I throw a few chunks of pineapple in the food processor along with the other ingredients. It adds a hint of sweetness,” remarks Lois B., Indianola, Iowa.

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Hearty Baked Potato

Beverly Deen turns a baked potato into a hearty meal that’s economical, too. “While baking a potato in the oven, I pop a small inexpensive beef or chicken potpie alongside,” notes the New Castle,…

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Hearty Chicken Noodle Soup

“While fixing an envelope of chicken noodle soup, I added about 1-1/2 cups of frozen peas and carrots as well as a can of vegetable soup,” pens Pauline Leavitt of Breadalbane, New Brunswick. “This…

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Heavenly Ham

“A butcher once told me to add ginger ale to my ham, then make gravy with the drippings,” offers Joyce Grady of New Port Richey, Florida. “I’ve made it that way ever since. I also add cloves and…

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Hidden Chicken Livers

Elaine T. of Palmetto, Florida reports, “My daughter married into an Italian family. She learned to add a couple sauteed and grated chicken livers to all her Italian entrees. You don’t taste the…

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Hiding Veggies in Meat Loaf

If picky eaters in your family don’t like chunks of onion or green pepper in meat loaf, put those ingredients in the blender and blend before adding to the ground beef. Your meat loaf will be…

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Hint for Gelatin

“My secret to a great gelatin salad is to substitute canned fruit juices for water,” reports Laura M. of Kerrville, Texas. For example, she uses apricot nectar and the reserved juice from mandarin…

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Homemade Graham Cracker Crust

“I’ve found a way to give a homemade graham cracker crust a hint of spice,” notes Dawn Lowenstein of Hatboro, Pennsylvania. “I simply mix 1/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon into the granulated…

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Honey of a Burger

“My husband makes grilled hamburgers special by adding a few tablespoons of honey to the ground beef mixture. It really perks them up,” writes Amy Pennington of Blacksburg, Virginia.

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How I Get My Family to Eat Tuna Casserole

To get her family to eat tuna casserole, Stephanie D. adds cubed cheddar cheese to the tuna mixture. “Then I top it with more cheese and bake until the top is golden,” she writes from Toledo,…

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How I Jazz Up Chili & Bean Soup

Suggests Maxine S. of West Lafayette, Ohio, “Sprinkle some grated or shredded Parmesan cheese in your chili for a delicious twist. I also sprinkle a few drops of vinegar in my bean soup.”

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Ice Cream Gelatin Salad

“I jazz up gelatin salads by replacing 1 cup cold water with 1 cup vanilla ice cream,” writes Lisa Shoemaker of Middletown, Pennsylvania. “I also include sliced bananas, but almost any combination…

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Improved Spaghetti Sauce

“My spaghetti sauce is improved by mixing in a can of cream of mushroom soup plus chopped olives and mushrooms,” reports Connie S. of New Plymouth, Idaho.

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Italian-Style Mac and Cheese

Charles Fritts of Hunt, Texas gives an Italian twist to boxed macaroni and cheese. “Cook the macaroni as directed, drain and add the contents of the cheese packet,” he notes. “Then stir in one can…

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Italian-Style Tuna Salad

To give tuna macaroni salad zip, Pam H. of Cooperstown, New York pours on a splash of Italian dressing.

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Jazzing Up Tacos

“I jazz up tacos by including fried cubed potatoes with the browned ground beef,” reports Michelle B. of Westminster, Maryland.

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Juicy Stuffing

“I know everyone has a different recipe for stuffing, but when I make it for the holidays, I always add at least 1/2 cup of apple juice,” says field editor Merle Dyck of Elkford, British…

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Just Peachy

“Over the years, I’ve added a dash of almond extract to my peach pie filling,” writes Carlene Goodeill of Chico, California. “Sprinkling a little granulated sugar and nutmeg on the top crust adds…

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Keep Peanut Butter Cookies Moist

“To keep peanut butter cookies moist, add 1/2 cup of sour cream to the recipe,” instructs Phyllis M. of Victoria, Texas.

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Keeping Pork Chops Moist

To help keep pork chops moist while cooking, add a bit of ginger to the flour prior to breading. When I do this, I never have a dry chop. —Monica M., Willowick, Ohio

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Kernels Add Crunch to Coleslaw

Says Sandy M. of Ellicott City, Maryland, “For a church youth group picnic, I added salted sunflower kernels to my coleslaw. The kids loved the combination, and I had no leftovers.”

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Last-Minute Fix with Creamed Corn

“One day while preparing scalloped potatoes, I realized I didn’t have enough milk,” recalls Betty B. of Darlingford, Manitoba. “I used a can of cream-style corn instead. I layered the corn along…

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Leftover Coffee Cubes

Whenever there’s leftover coffee in the pot, I freeze it in ice cube trays. Later, when I have a cup of coffee that’s too hot, I add one of my frozen coffee cubes. It cools my drink without…

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Likable Liver

“Liver tastes so much better when I add a little brown sugar to the flour used to coat it before frying,” notes Kathie H. of Wheatland, Wyoming. “It makes a huge difference.”

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Lip-Smacking Lasagna

“Add a tablespoon of fennel seed to your lasagna sauce (2 tablespoons for a 13 x 9 dish),” suggests Bonnie Blunk of Grand Junction, Colorado. “You’ll never make lasagna again without it.”

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Liven Up Scrambled Eggs

If you’re tired of plain scrambled eggs, try this “eggs-cellent” suggestion from Amanda F. of West Liberty, Kentucky. “To your beaten eggs, add diced fully cooked ham, pieces of American cheese…

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Low-Cost Soup Filler

“I add a can of chili with beans to homemade vegetable soup instead of shredded or ground beef,” says Kay M. of Greenville, South Carolina. “It’s a quick, inexpensive way to add spice (and…

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Mac ’n’ Cheese Magic

“When I prepare a box of macaroni and cheese, I mix in 2 or 3 tablespoons of salsa with the powdered cheese. It not only adds flavor but makes the dish creamier, too,” relates Ellna Vacho of Eagle…

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Mac ’n’ Cheese Makeover

"My brother just had to have macaroni and cheese every day," recalls Elsie Evans, Terre Haute, Indiana. "My mother created a yummy new dish out of the leftovers by reheating them mixed with canned…

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Macaroni and Cheese with Squash

“After I prepare a box of macaroni and cheese, I stir in some pureed yellow squash,” notes Angela Zwart of Maple Grove, Minnesota. “My family doesn’t notice the addition, but I feel better about…

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Make it Maple

“I use maple syrup to season grapefruit, and cooked and drained carrots or squash. Best of all, I warm the syrup and drizzle it on ice cream or yogurt,” offers Emily Packard of Essex Junction,…

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Make Pancakes Special

To make pancakes from a mix taste special, Peggy M. of Orland Park, Illinois beats in a bit of vanilla and cinnamon along with the eggs.

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Making a Roast Leg of Lamb

“When preparing roast leg of lamb, I rub the meat with ground ginger and some lemon juice,” shares Georgia M. of Hudson, Florida. “This treatment takes away the strong lamb aroma and makes the…

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Making Chicken Crispy and Brown

Rub chicken skin with mayonnaise before baking to make it crispy and golden brown. —Iola E., McCook, Nebraska

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Making Great Gravy

Writes Elnora W. of Ontario, California, “Mother cooked in a restaurant and taught me to drop a spoonful of ketchup into beef gravy for richer flavor without a tomato taste.”

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Making Mashed Potatoes

Instead of adding whole milk to mashed potatoes, reserve some of the water used to boil the potatoes and mix in powdered milk. This retains the nutrients (and potato flavor) in the water…and it’s…

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Making Poultry Gravy

“I add chicken bouillon cubes to water and turkey drippings,” reports Kathy A., Hewitt, Texas. “After I add the flour and the mixture starts to thicken, I stir in evaporated milk for a rich,…

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Making Southern-Style Chicken Salad

“When fixing a batch of my Southern-style cold chicken salad, I add a little poultry seasoning and sugar to the mayonnaise before mixing it with the cooked chicken and sliced celery,” explains…

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Making Tuna Salad

“As a teen, I had a dear friend whose mother was a terrific cook,” recalls Nancy W. of Van Nuys, California. “She mixed in a tablespoon or two of Worcestershire sauce to tuna salad along with the…

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Marinated Chicken

Add flavor by marinating uncooked chicken breasts overnight in bottled salad dressing. Or once the chicken has been cooked, spoon on some barbecue sauce, sprinkle on herbs, squeeze a little lemon…

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Marvelous Meat Loaf

“For my meat loaf, I add bulk Italian sausage to the hamburger and substitute seasoned bread crumbs for regular dry bread crumbs,” says Lotte Washburn of Sebring, Florida. “It gives the meat a…

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Marvelous Meringue

“For the best lemon meringue pie ever, add a teaspoon of cinnamon to the sugar when making the meringue,” suggests Sallie Nelson of Cascade, Wisconsin.

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Meat Loaf with Sauerkraut

“When I make meat loaf, I place half of the mixture in a loaf pan, add a 14-ounce can of sauerkraut and top with the rest of the meat mixture. Then I bake as usual. It tastes great!” says Margaret…

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Mellowing Rhubarb Sauce

To mellow her rhubarb sauce, Mary M. of Mountain View, Arkansas adds some chopped Granny Smith apple and a pinch of salt before cooking and sweetening.

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Memorable Meat Loaf

“Everyone who tries my meat loaf asks what’s in it,” pens Mel Terpstra of Didsbury, Alberta. “I always add about 1/2 teaspoon of ground nutmeg for each pound of hamburger. I also do this for…

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Meringue Magic

Making pie? For a high, firm meringue that’s not weepy and cuts smoothly, I mix a couple teaspoons of apple jelly into my beaten egg white mixture. —Joan M., Geneseo, Illinois

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Mint Brownies

“My mom taught me to add a few drops of mint extract to brownie mix. My husband enjoys the refreshing flavor,” says Cindy Sleasman of Deerfield, Illinois.

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Mint Carrots

“My mother always added a scant teaspoon of crushed mint leaves to her carrots while cooking,” recalls Linda McCarthy of Gansevoort, New York. “It was a great way to ensure we’d eat and enjoy our…

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Minty Brownie Topper

To easily give traditional brownies a delicious new twist, sprinkle a layer of mint chocolate chips over the brownies as soon as you have removed the pan from the oven. After the chips have…

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Mistake Now a Favorite

Gwynn E. of Knoxville, Tennessee shares, “My mother was making fried potato patties out of leftover mashed potatoes and accidentally stirred in pancake mix instead of flour. I’ve made mine that…

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Mocha Brownies

“To give your brownies a nice mocha flavor, stir some instant coffee granules into the batter,” suggests Joan Clarke of Pawtucket, Rhode Island.

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Moist Salmon Cakes

When you’re making salmon cakes, applesauce is a pleasant substitution for the egg. The cakes must be turned carefully, but they taste great and stay moist in the center. —Maggie G., Atlantic…

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Moister Meat Loaf

Advises Litchfield, Minnesota field editor Elaine S., “For moister meat loaf, add applesauce. Leftovers slice nicely for sandwiches.”

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Moister Oatmeal Cookies

“I stir a small box of dry vanilla pudding mix into my oatmeal cookie dough,” relates Nancy H. of Blue Eye, Missouri. “It makes the cookies moist and chewy.”

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Molasses Flavors Green Beans

June E. of Benton, Kentucky adds molasses and sliced onion to her cooked green beans.

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More Flavorful Beef Stew

In Rockford, Illinois, Len K. suggests this tip: “For a flavorful beef stew, add a diced dill pickle and a tablespoon of pickle juice 15-20 minutes before serving. This also works with vegetable…

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More Nutritious Gelatin Salad

Relates Donna C. of Olympia, Washington, “When I make a 3-ounce package of gelatin, I add 6 ounces of yogurt and 1 cup orange juice instead of the cold water. It’s a nutritious and refreshing…

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More Nutritious Meat Loaf

For additional nutritional value, Marguerite Z. of Chestnut Hill, Massachusetts uses both bread crumbs and wheat germ as a filler in her meat loaf and meatballs.

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More Nutritious Scalloped Potatoes

Writes Lori M. from her Sheboygan, Wisconsin kitchen, “I add grated carrot and shredded cabbage to my scalloped potatoes for extra nutrition. Even my kids love these potatoes.”

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More Robust Chili

In St. Joe, Arkansas, Ralph R. adds robust flavor to his chili by soaking the dried beans in leftover coffee instead of water.

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More Tender Lamb

Helen A. of Walden, Vermont suggests pouring a cup of black coffee over a lamb roast or lamb for stew before cooking. “The aroma is delightful and I think it helps tenderize the meat.”

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Mouth-Watering Maple

“I make pumpkin, squash or carrot pies special by adding a teaspoon or so of maple flavoring. I also add it to whipped topping and baked apples,” notes Eleanore Rhoades of Wooster, Ohio. “I always…

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Mouth-Watering Meat Loaf

Relates John C. of Benton Harbor, Michigan, “My wife makes great meat loaf by mixing cheddar cheese with the meat and topping it with hickory-flavored barbecue sauce.”

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My Addition to Baked Beans

Marjorie D. of Portland, Maine folds in a peeled and sliced apple to give her baked beans rich autumn flavor.

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My Best Beef Roast

“I normally add bay leaf to my beef roast, but one day when I was out, I sprinkled on pickling spice instead,” recalls Ruth T. of Port Edwards, Wisconsin. “The roast had a wonderful aroma, tasted…

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My Best Pie Crust

Reveals Heidi H. of Basalt, Colorado, “My husband never liked pie crust until he tried my mother’s. She adds a little sugar…and now I do, too.”

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My Best Scalloped Potatoes

“To make the best scalloped potatoes, I always sprinkle canned chopped green chilies between the layers of potatoes, cheese and sauce,” informs Kathleen M. of Lemoore, California. “What a…

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My Chicken Salad Secret

To make chicken salad, Mary H. of Harrisburg, Pennsylvania dices boneless skinless chicken breasts that she’s grilled over mesquite wood chips. “Then I add chopped cucumber and celery seed to the…

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My Chili's Secret Ingredient

“When making chili, simmer a few cinnamon sticks along with the other ingredients and remove them before serving,” instructs Pat Y. of Lantana, Florida. “It gives the soup authentic flavor and…

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My Chocolate Cake Substitution

“My favorite chocolate cake recipe calls for 1 cup of boiling water, but I mix in raspberry-flavored brewed coffee instead,” says Marion V. of Riegelsville, Pennsylvania. “It provides a subtle,…

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My Corn Chowder Disappears

Contributes field editor Heidi H. of Steuben, Maine, “You’ll never want to serve plain corn chowder again once you taste a batch enhanced with the simple addition of chopped cooked ham steak or…

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My Delicious Mashed Potatoes

“My Irish husband and I believe the best mashed potatoes start by boiling peeled cubed potatoes with a bit of salt, chopped onion and thyme,” asserts Marie N. of Wilmington, North Carolina.

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My Favorite Apple Pie

Beverly O. of Alpena, Michigan still thinks her mother makes the best apple pie. “Her secret is to use half light brown sugar and half white sugar instead of all white sugar mixed with the apples…

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My Grandma's Secret to Chicken Soup

“My grandmother’s chicken soup had terrific flavor, but when I made my own batch, it just didn’t taste the same,” admits Sharron S. of Sewickley, Pennsylvania. “Grandma told me her secret is a…

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My Mashed Sweet Potatoes

I’ve always added grated orange peel to my mashed sweet potatoes. To save time and mess, I now just cut a 2- to 3-inch strip of orange peel and add it to the boiling potatoes. Later, I mash the…

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My Mom's Rich Hot Cocoa

“For rich hot cocoa like Mom used to make, I stir in a few drops of vanilla and some instant coffee creamer,” states Theresa H. of Eureka, Missouri.

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My Muffin Secret

“To my muffin batter, I fold in pieces of tart apple that have been coated with brown sugar,” informs Beth Z. of Harlingen, Texas.

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My Own Technique for Quiche

Quiche prepared in the Pleasanton, California kitchen of Jennie K. has an extra-special twist. “Before filling the shell, I lightly brush the inside with a honey mustard,” she says. “It makes each…

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My Stuffed Pepper Addition

Says Linda B. of Griffin, Georgia, “When making stuffed peppers, meat loaf or any dish with ground beef, I stir some brown sugar into the meat mixture. It brings out a delightful yet subtle flavor…

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My Surprise Lasagna Ingredient

When Jennifer P. makes lasagna in her Abilene, Texas kitchen, she stirs a can of jellied cranberry sauce into the tomato sauce. “It gives an extra spark that has folks coming back for seconds,”…

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New Banana Bread Flavor

“My banana bread recipe calls for three ripe bananas,” says Hilary B. of Las Vegas, Nevada. “One day I had only two, so I added a chopped peeled apple. The result was moist and delicious.”

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Nifty Noodles

“Whenever I have lasagna noodles left in the box, I use them in homemade soup,” writes Sandy Juehring of Chetek, Wisconsin. “I break them into small pieces since they will expand while…

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No More Boring Canned Peas

Reports Jeannie H. of Kettering, Ohio, “Canned peas used to be boring until I started making them with a bit of sugar, some butter and oregano.”

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Nutmeg Flavors Rhubarb

Sprinkle nutmeg over the filling when making a rhubarb pie for a delightful dessert, suggests Dorothy B. of Knoxville, Iowa.

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Nutmeg Makes the Grade

Shares field editor Evelyn G. of Kasilof, Alaska, “Instead of cinnamon in blueberry muffins, I use nutmeg.”

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Nutritious Tacos

“I wanted my grandchildren to eat broccoli, so when I made tacos, I substituted steamed broccoli for the lettuce,” says June D. of Manchester, Tennessee. “Amazingly, they liked the tacos much…

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Oatmeal and Raisins

“For a delightful wholesome breakfast, I top a bowl of cooked oatmeal with golden raisins and chopped walnuts,” reveals Alice P. of Greenwich, Ohio.

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Oatmeal Cookie Addition

Writes Rita K. from Friendswood, Texas, “I like to substitute pumpkin pie spice or apple pie spice for cinnamon in my oatmeal cookies. The cookies taste extra-special, and the house smells…

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Outstanding Oatmeal Cookies

“Adding an overripe banana to your oatmeal cookie batter will make the cookies less dry,” suggests EmRose Clement of Joliet, Illinois.

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Pan-Frying Chops or Chicken

When pan-frying pork chops or chicken, I use undiluted cream soup as gravy. After removing the meat and draining the skillet, I cook the soup and enough water to make it the consistency we like.…

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Pancake Mix Like Homemade

Kathleen S., Narvon, Pennsylvania, gives homemade taste to pancakes from a mix. She simply adds one of the following to the batter: ground cinnamon, ginger or nutmeg, orange extract or chocolate…

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Pancakes with a Cider Twist

“One day my family wanted pancakes, but we were out of milk. So I used apple cider instead,” recalls Mary Jo J. of Holt, Michigan. “The pancakes turned out extra light with a wonderful apple…

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Parmesan Cheese Flavors Meat Loaf

Informs Betty J. of Monroe, Louisiana, “I always shake a tablespoon or two of grated Parmesan cheese into my meat loaf mixture. It tastes wonderful and wins raves.”

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Peanut Butter Banana Bread

In Crown, Pennsylvania, Barbara K. considers a spoonful of peanut butter the secret ingredient in her banana bread.

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Peanut Butter BLTs

“We like to put peanut butter on the bread before spreading on mayonnaise when we make bacon, lettuce and tomato sandwiches,” relates Shaaron Whitman of Payne, Ohio. “It gives them a different but…

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Peanut Butter Chocolate Pudding

“My family loves the combination of chocolate and peanut butter,” remarks Pat S. from Webster, New York. “So when I make cook-and-serve chocolate pudding, I stir in extra chunky peanut butter…

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Peanut Butter Cocoa

“For a different flavor, I like to dissolve a dab of creamy peanut butter in my mug of hot cocoa,” says Rachel Yoder from Blanch, North Carolina.

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Peanut Butter Pancakes

“In place of butter or margarine, I spread peanut butter on pancakes and top them with maple syrup,” writes Monica Hunter of Kansas City, Missouri. “Kids love this treat.”

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Pecan Delight

“Instead of using a cup of corn syrup in my pecan pie, as the recipe indicates, I use 1/4 cup corn syrup and 3/4 cup maple syrup,” says Marsha Hiebert of Kitchener, Ontario. “It adds a wonderful…

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Pepped Up Mac 'n' Cheese

“I add peeled tomatoes that have been drained and cut up, chopped onion and garlic powder to my macaroni and cheese, just like my grandmother does,” reveals Debbie M. of Pasadena, Maryland. “Just…

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Pepper Perk Up

Hot peppers perk up flavors in Frances Sanders’ kitchen. “I like adding sliced jalapenos to canned chili,” she writes from Rock Island, Illinois.

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Pepperoni Adds Zing to Sauce

Comments Andrea Z. of Maroa, Illinois, “I give my spaghetti sauce some zing by adding slices of pepperoni. It’s a quick and tasty addition.”

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Perfect Addition to Pickled Beets

“Every time I enter my pickled beets at the county fair, I place,” shares Debbi P. of Vintondale, Pennsylvania. “A pinch of allspice makes the difference.”

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Perfect Pairing for Peas

“Peas are perfect mixed with Parmesan cheese and chopped onion sauteed in butter,” says Diane S. of Spring Hill, Florida.

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Perfect Soda Pancakes

"Instead of using milk when you're making pancakes from scratch or a mix, substitute club soda," suggests Betty Kassteen, Morris Plains, New Jersey. "You'll be amazed at how light and fluffy they…

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Perk Up Canned Cherries

“When baking a pie using canned cherries, I stirred in a couple teaspoons of unsweetened cherry soft drink mix to perk up the color and flavor,” notes Lela J. of Peoria, Illinois.

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Perked Up Applesauce

“Last year’s batch of homemade applesauce looked blah, so I added cranberry juice concentrate to give it a rosy color and a sweet-tart flavor,” reveals Ruth S. of Wernersville, Pennsylvania. “My…

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Perked Up Chicken Fingers

“Since we’re always on the go, our favorite quick meal is chicken fingers,” relates Colleen T. of Bayonne, New Jersey. “I perk them up with lemon pepper.”

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Perked Up Chicken Rice Soup

“Since winters here are damp and cold, I make chicken rice soup,” remarks Marilyn W. of Sparks, Maryland. “For a change, I add a package of long grain and wild rice mix. The aroma and flavor perk…

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Perked Up Coleslaw

To perk up her coleslaw, Nellie S. of Royal City, Washington includes chopped celery, green pepper, apple, banana, pineapple and black walnuts.

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Perked Up Stuffing

From Knoxville, Tennessee, Lisa O. writes that she perks up her stuffing by mixing in a can of cream of celery soup before baking.

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Perked Up Turkey Barley Soup

To perk up her husband’s favorite turkey and barley soup, Jean D. of Chehalis, Washington substitutes lemon pepper for black pepper and adds some lemon juice just before serving.

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Perked-Up Mac and Cheese

“I prepare a box of macaroni and cheese and dress it up with a can of tuna, peas, dried onion and pepper to taste,” notes Jeannette C. from Dracut, Massachusetts.

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Perked-Up Pancakes

“I add a pinch of pumpkin pie spice to my pancakes,” notes Connie Peck Pfaffinger of Plano, Texas. “My kids love them, and now my husband and I do, too!”

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Perked-Up Pot Roast

“Using a sharp knife, I cut small slits in a pot roast and insert slivers of garlic cloves into each one. The garlic not only seasons the beef but gives the vegetables and broth for gravy a…

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Perked-Up Pound Cake

“Sour Cream Pound Cake is one of my favorite cake recipes,” writes Colleen Rogers of Charlotte, North Carolina. “I add 1/8 teaspoon of ground mace with the dry ingredients, and it really sparks…

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Perked-Up Pumpkin Pie

“I replace half of the vanilla extract in my pumpkin pie or pumpkin cheesecake recipe with orange extract. It gives the dessert a unique flavor,” says Nancy Zimmerman of Cape May Court House, New…

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Perky Potato Salad

“A dash of garlic powder gives mayonnaise-based potato salad a wonderful pick-me-up,” notes Stephanie Smith from Wetumpka, Alabama.

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Pie Crust with Whole Wheat

From Rockland, Maine, Diana D. writes, “Once while making a crust for a blueberry pie, I ran out of all-purpose flour and had to add 1/4 cup of whole wheat flour. The crust turned out perfectly…

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Pie Gets Caramel Apple Flavor

“For an apple pie with a mouth-watering caramel apple taste, drizzle maple syrup over the apples before putting on the top crust,” advises field editor Darlene M. of Sublimity, Oregon.

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Pineapple Applesauce

In Palmyra, Pennsylvania, Sharon M. mixes crushed pineapple with applesauce for a quick refreshing salad. “It’s a good combination,” she assures.

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Pineapple to Tuna Casserole

“I add a small can of drained pineapple tidbits to my tuna casserole,” says Mary T. of Tigard, Oregon. “It gives the popular dish a refreshing tang that we enjoy.”

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Pineapple's a Plus

“I add some crushed pineapple to any recipe calling for rhubarb, usually substituting a cup of pineapple for a cup of diced rhubarb,” notes Mrs. John Moore of Conover, Ohio. “My family will eat…

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Pizza Sauce Meat Loaf Topping

“My family digs right into meat loaf made with canned pizza sauce stirred in and spread on top before baking,” mentions Marilyn D. of Taylor, Michigan.

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Pizza-Style Omelet

“I spruce up omelets with chopped pepperoni and shredded mozzarella cheese so my children will eat them…and it works!” writes Stephanie Roach from Louisville, Kentucky.

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Pleasing Pancakes

“To make pancakes from a mix super-special, I add a little ground cinnamon and vanilla to each batch before cooking. It makes Sunday breakfast a real treat,” writes Beth Woodard of Jamestown,…

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Pleasing Peanut Butter Cookies

"In my rush to make peanut butter cookies, I accidentally added maple flavoring instead of vanilla," admits Betty Ann Laakso of Orr, Minnesota. "The result was wonderful maple-flavored peanut…

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Pleasing Pie

“My blueberry pie is always a big hit,” Alyce Smith writes from Toledo, Ohio. “I cut down the sugar and add black raspberry jelly. No seasoning is needed.”

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Pleasing Pizzelles

“At Christmastime each year, I make pizzelles (Italian cookies prepared with a pizzelle iron, similar to a waffle iron). I add some almond paste to the recipe to make them extra special,” says…

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Pleasing Pork Chops

“When I make pork chops, I brown the meat and add 1 cup of orange juice,” describes J. Caterbone of Lancaster, Pennsylvania. “To this, I add onion and red and green pepper strips and let the…

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Pleasing Pumpkin Pie

“When making pumpkin pie, I replace half of the evaporated milk called for in the recipe with commercial eggnog,” says Sam Groom of Fort Collins, Colorado. “You’ll like the difference.”

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Pork Chops Get Special Treatment

Informs Ann M. of Lynchburg, Virginia, “Folks will go ‘hog-wild’ over your baked pork chops when you dip them in bottled French dressing before coating them with crumbs or flour.”

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Potato Salad Pizzazz

“I add 2 teaspoons of sweet pickle relish and 1 teaspoon of hot taco sauce to the mayonnaise mixture for my potato salad,” relates Evelyn Huminik of Sayre, Pennsylvania. “That little zip always…

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Pudding Perfection

“To make banana pudding extra tasty, I add a half cup of sour cream to the instant pudding mix after it’s been mixed,” says Sue Smith of Red Bush, Kentucky.

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Put Squash to Good Use

Do you have an abundance of squash at the end of the season? I substituted grated squash for carrots in our favorite carrot cake recipe. My family loved it and could not tell the difference.…

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Quick & Crunchy Dessert

“To make a terrific dessert, pour a thin layer of GrapeNuts cereal into dessert bowls and slowly add your favorite prepared pudding,” recommends Diana D. of Rockland, Maine. “In 2 hours, the…

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Quick & Fruity Side Dish

“For a deliciously different side dish, I stir a can of peach pie filling into 2 pounds of cooked sliced carrots,” reports Gladys G. from Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania.

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Quick Fix for Carrots

Mary S. of West Hills, California finds that simply cooking a pound of diagonally sliced carrots with a can of ginger ale provides delicious flavor.

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Quick Fix for Tuna Salad

From her Edgartown, Massachusetts kitchen, Diane A. writes, “I reduce the fishy flavor of tuna salad by sprinkling a bit of red wine vinegar on the tuna before stirring in the mayonnaise.”

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Quick Kabobs

We use a grill basket over the open fire to cook kabobs with slices of hot dog, ham, mushrooms and pineapple. Then we slide them off into a bun and top with warm cheese sauce. —Renee S.,…

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Quick Rice Side Dish

From Portland, Oregon, Calli M. reports, “Plain rice picks up nice seasoning by adding soy sauce, Parmesan cheese and a sprinkling of sesame seeds. I mix up this side dish often.”

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Raisins in Green Salads?

“A friend brought us a meal that included a green salad with raisins in it,” recalls Carol K. of Sioux Center, Iowa. “We liked it so much that now I always sprinkle raisins on my tossed…

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Ramen Noodles Add Crunch

Evelyn Tracy of Marble, Minnesota relies on inexpensive ramen noodles to add quick crunch to her green salads. “In a skillet, I brown the crushed noodles in a small amount of butter,” she relates.…

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Ranch Burgers

For burgers with extra pizzazz, combine 2 pounds of ground beef with an envelope of ranch salad dressing mix. Form the seasoned meat into patties before grilling them. —Carolyn Zimmerman,…

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Ranch Chicken

Aileen DeHamer of Cedar, Iowa gives ranch flavor to chicken drumsticks in no time. “Empty an envelope of ranch salad dressing mix and an 8-1/2-ounce box of corn bread/muffin mix into a plastic…

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Ranch Dressing Is Key Ingredient

Sherry H. admits to spoiling her family by preparing mashed potatoes using ranch dressing instead of milk. “They’re so good,” says this Essexville, Michigan reader.

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Raspberry Brownies

“Growing tired of the ordinary taste my packaged brownie mix provided, I decided to use half of the water called for on the box and make up the difference with raspberry syrup,” explains…

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Raspberry Cherry Pie

“When I make cherry pie, I include 1/2 cup of raspberries. It sure tastes great,” says Beth Geslison of Spanish Fork, Utah.

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Reducing Venison's Wild Flavor

Judy D. of Timberville, Virginia cuts the wild flavor of venison by sprinkling on a tad of apple pie spice and black pepper. “Venison cooked this way in my slow cooker tastes just like beef,” Judy…

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Refried Chili

Adding a can of refried beans to your chili is a great way to get more protein in your diet, plus the beans make a great thickener. —Vienna Williamson, Neodesha, Kansas

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Replace Parsley for Sage in Stuffing

Says field editor Maudie R. of Millersburg, Ohio, “I add a generous amount of parsley instead of sage to my stuffing. It tastes very good seasoned that way.”

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Restaurant-Style Pancakes

“After trying delicious pancakes in a local restaurant, I determined what made them so good was a hint of maple,” recalls Barbara N. from Bangor, Maine. “So now I add a dash of maple syrup to my…

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Richer-Tasting Tacos

Relates Catherine M., Tulsa, Oklahoma, “After browning the ground beef, I stir in taco seasoning mix but substitute tomato juice for the water. This makes richer-tasting tacos.”

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Ripe Olives Are Flavor Twist

“My chili tastes best when I stir in a drained can of pitted ripe olives,” informs John H. of Mauston, Wisconsin. “When I make this entree for guests, they ask for the recipe.”

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Roasting Poultry or Pork

Whether roasting poultry or pork, John R. of Ripon, Wisconsin pours 1/4 cup of white vinegar and 1/4 cup of brown sugar, along with salt, pepper and paprika, over the meat. “It gives the meat…

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Rolling Cutout Cookies

When rolling out dough for cutout cookies, I sprinkle my work surface with confectioners' sugar instead of flour. It keeps the dough from getting too stiff and gives the cookies a sweeter flavor.…

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Salad Supreme

“For a special dinner salad, I top the usual tossed salad ingredients with a handful of trail mix (nuts, seeds and dried fruit). My husband loves it,” says Caryl Harrer of Lafayette, Indiana.

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Saucy Macaroni Salad

“For extra moisture and added flavor, I pour some bottled barbecue sauce into my macaroni salad,” notes Dorothy Brown of Lodi, California.

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Saucy Meat Loaf

“If your favorite meat loaf recipe calls for ketchup or tomato sauce, try substituting spaghetti sauce,” suggests Margie Samek of Monroeville, Pennsylvania. “You’ll be pleasantly surprised.”

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Saucy Salsa

“I like to make garden-fresh salsa in the summer,” writes Mary Kay M. from Lorain, Ohio. “Along with the jalapenos, onions and tomatoes, I add a couple tablespoons of bottled barbecue sauce.…

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Saucy Soup

“I love spicy foods, so I add 1/2 cup of salsa to canned tomato soup made with milk. It’s a quick fix and a nice change from plain tomato soup,” suggests Julie Wentworth of Montesano,…

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Sauerkraut Tidbit

A little brown sugar cuts some of the tartness in Nancy C.’s sauerkraut, confirms this Statesville, North Carolina reader.

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Savory Soup

“To add body and flavor to vegetable soup, I peel, cube, cook and mash a sweet potato and add it to the soup stock,” explains Floyd Else of Bellevue, Washington.

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Savory Spaghetti Sauce

“I add one or two pork neck bones to my simmering spaghetti sauce when I drop in my meatballs,” remarks Joyce P. from Wellsville, Ohio. “The neck bones give the sauce marvelous flavor.”

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Seasonal Cereal

“My sister and I like to add about 1/2 cup cooked pumpkin to Cream of Wheat, then top with a little cinnamon-sugar,” offers Sarah Rockey of Rochelle, Texas.

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Seasoned Bread

“I get rave reviews for this simple idea,” reports Pamela Reed, Rancho Cordova, California. “When preparing any white or egg bread in my bread machine, I add 2 teaspoons of Mrs. Dash salt-free…

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Seasoned Fresh Carrots

“When I cook fresh carrots, I season them with pickling spices,” pens Barbara Hayes from Scottsdale, Arizona. “I fill a tea ball with the spices and place it in the water while cooking the…

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Seasoned Green Beans

“When I prepare green beans, I add dried minced onion and oregano,” offers Ruth Hold of Crossville, Illinois. “My father-in-law wouldn’t eat green beans until he tried these.”

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Seasoned Meat Loaf

Advises Edith N. of Galesburg, Illinois, “To make meat loaf taste extra special, add 1/4 teaspoon ground allspice and 1/4 teaspoon ground cloves for every pound of ground beef.”

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Seasoned Salad

“I add a handful of fresh cilantro with the lettuce and spinach when I make tossed salad. Cilantro’s bold taste stands out against the milder greens,” relates Beth Walker of Round Rock, Texas.

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Seasoning for Steamed Veggies

From Nokomis, Florida, Betty H. says, “We particularly enjoy Greek or Italian seasoning sprinkled on steamed broccoli and cauliflower along with margarine and lemon juice.”

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Secret Chili Ingredient

For a nice thick pot of chili, Kara K. of Kalamazoo, Michigan mixes in a can of refried beans. “No one seems to notice my ‘secret’, but they sure enjoy the extra hearty chili,” she conveys.

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Secret Ingredient for Delicious Green Beans

Want to put some zip into an ordinary can of green beans? Try adding a few shakes of seasoning salt and a couple drops of liquid smoke. They taste great. —Wendy T. Mason City, Iowa

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Secret Spaghetti Sauce Ingredient

Says Diane W. of Morgan Hill, California, “My family enjoys my tangy spaghetti sauce. My secret ingredient is ground mustard.”

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Secret to Robust Chicken Soup

“A dear friend shared with me the secret to robust chicken soup,” relates Penny F., from Ferndale, Maryland. “Scrub a sweet potato well, then drop the whole potato with the skin into your broth…

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Secret Vegetable Soup Ingredient

In Cuyahoga Falls, Ohio, Bonnie P. considers chopped celery leaves her secret ingredient in vegetable soup. “They tone down the acidity of the tomatoes and infuse their own great flavor,” she…

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Sensational Stuffed Peppers

“For a nice twist when I prepare stuffed peppers, I drop a rib or two of chopped celery into the tomato soup with the peppers,” informs Bernice B. of Little Chute, Wisconsin.

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Shepherd's Pie

Making a shepherd’s pie? Instead of fussing with mashed potatoes, combine a can of cream of celery soup with milk and frozen hash browns, then layer that mixture on top of the meat and vegetables.…

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Simple Coleslaw Substitution

“For a really delicious coleslaw, substitute your favorite bottled French dressing for the traditional dressing,” recommends Sue L. of Eagan, Minnesota. “Even folks who don’t like coleslaw like…

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Simple Glaze for Poultry

“To make an excellent glaze for chicken, turkey or pork, I combine a half cup of whatever jelly or jam I have on hand with a tablespoon of Dijon mustard,” shares Isabel K. of Longville, Minnesota.…

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Simply Good Sloppy Joes

“I make sloppy joes as usual, then add a can of corned beef to the mixture,” writes June North of Howell, Michigan. “It’s easy and flavorful.”

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Sirloin and Sausage in Spaghetti

“For extra-special spaghetti sauce, I use a pound of ground sirloin and a pound of bulk sweet Italian sausage,” comments Joyce W. from Lafayette, Louisiana. “They’re an excellent combination.”

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Slightly Spicy Beef Stew

Julie S. of Alamosa, Colorado recommends, “To improve the taste of beef stew, add a scant amount of juice from a jar of spicy pickled vegetables.”

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Slow Cooker Split Pea Soup

“I like to make split pea soup in my slow cooker,” says Alice Komic of Warren, Michigan. “The last time I prepared it, I emptied an envelope of onion soup mix into the soup. It was delicious!”

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Snappy Fruit Salad

“To ordinary fruit salad (cut-up apples, oranges, bananas, grapes), I sprinkle in powdered lemonade mix to taste,” details Merilee Nevins of Lawton, Oklahoma. “It adds a sweet tang to the…

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Snappy Soup

“To give my homemade bean and pea soups a nice flavor boost, I add fresh cabbage,” writes Barbara McNamara from Forked River, New Jersey.

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Snow Peas Replace Peppers

“My husband cannot tolerate green peppers, so I use fresh snow peas from my garden in any dish that calls for green pepper,” says Ginny Barkman of Chase, British Columbia. “I use them in omelets,…

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Soda Sweetens Beets

Says Peggy S. of Chicago, Illinois, “My four kids didn’t like beets until I started boiling them in lemon-lime soda. It takes away any bitterness and adds a refreshing sweetness.”

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Souper Gravy

“Instead of flour, I mix a can of cream of mushroom soup with pan drippings and a little water when I make gravy for veal or pork roast,” offers Carole Gillespie of Stony Mountain, Manitoba. “I…

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Sour Cream Substitution

When a recipe calls for sour cream and onions, I use prepared French onion dip instead. It makes the dish very rich. —Brenda H., Quincy, Illinois

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Southern Fried Chicken

Relates Barbara C. of Whitehouse, Texas, “I soak chicken pieces for almost an hour in milk with marjoram sprinkled in when making my Southern fried chicken. It’s delicious.”

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Southwestern Tuna Salad

Create an appealing tuna salad by layering lettuce leaves, tuna, black beans, corn and ranch dressing. Repeat the layers and top with your favorite salsa and a sprinkling of cheddar cheese.

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Sparkling Sugar Cookies

Here’s an easy way to add sparkle to sugar cookies: As they come from the oven, brush lightly with corn syrup and sprinkle with your favorite flavor of gelatin right from the box. —Florence P.,…

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Special Add-In for Zucchini Bread

“When I bake a loaf of zucchini bread, I substitute shredded carrots for a small portion of the zucchini,” explains Debra J. of Lewiston, Maine. “I first made it this way when I didn’t have enough…

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Special Addition for Potato Salad

Conveys Carolyn S of Windsor Heights, Iowa, “I mix a tad of prepared horseradish sauce with the mayonnaise I use to dress my potato salad.”

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Special Additions to Mashed Potatoes

When making mashed potatoes, Helen B. of Northridge, California uses a bit of sour cream instead of butter, then mixes in chopped and sauteed mushrooms and onions. “They are scrumptious!” Helen…

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Special Carrot Cake

My grandma makes the best carrot cake. Instead of peeling and grating the carrots, she uses jars of baby food carrots (the third-stage carrots designed for older babies, which have chunkier carrot…

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Special Cereal Treats

From McDonough, Georgia, Leila R. submits, “I add halved gumdrops to my crisp rice cereal bars. It makes them even more fun and chewy.”

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Special Eggs

“When making deviled eggs for a family get-together, I realized I didn’t have any mustard, so I spiced them up with a little ground cumin. Everybody enjoyed them,” says Lois Busick of Bradenton,…

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Special Filling for Apple Pie

Apple pie is extra special when you add chopped walnuts and ground cinnamon to the apple filling, assures Eta H. of Erie, Pennsylvania.

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Special Ice Cream Sundaes

“For special ice cream sundaes, I blend 1/4 teaspoon each of ground cloves and ground cinnamon into a 12-ounce jar of hot fudge topping,” notes Sharon M. of Lockport, New York.

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Special Ingredient for Buttered Carrots

Shares field editor Ronald L. of Branford, Connecticut, “When preparing buttered carrots, I like to stir in a pinch of celery seed. It makes this vegetable side dish a lot more exciting.”

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Special Ingredient for Cereal Bar Treats

Assures Nancy H. of Prospect Park, New Jersey, “I give my crispy cereal treats a pleasing flavor by adding 1 tablespoon of cinnamon for 10 ounces of marshmallows. My husband never liked them…

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Special Lasagna Substitution

Debbie W. writes from her Nampa, Idaho kitchen, “In lasagna recipes that call for ground beef, I use ground Italian sausage instead. Guests prefer mine to the lasagna served in many Italian…

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Special Meat Sauce

"Try grating some carrots into the meat sauce for spaghetti or lasagna," suggests Sherry Tschritter of Didsbury, Alberta. "It adds color and just the right amount of sweetness without sugar."

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Special Seasoning for Turkey

“I add about 1 teaspoon of fennel seed to 1 pound of ground turkey as I brown it,” reveals Carolyn A. of Golden Valley, Minnesota. “It makes the turkey taste like sausage, which is great in…

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Special Spiced Red Cabbage

“Family and friends have always enjoyed my spiced red cabbage,” informs Catherine S. of St. Petersburg, Florida. “I cook a stick of cinnamon along with the other ingredients and remove it before…

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Special Spinach Dish

In Greenville, South Carolina, Jackie C. makes spinach special with just a dash of oregano before cooking.

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Speedy Tomato Soup

After browning 1/2 pound of ground beef in a Dutch oven, Wilma Wood turns it into a speedy soup. She adds two cans of tomato soup, diluted with milk, and 1 cup of cooked macaroni. “I also like to…

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Spice Up Your Lentil Soup

Reports Myriam P. of Sandwich, New Hampshire, “I spice up my lentil soup by substituting salsa for half of the tomatoes.”

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Spiced Up French Toast

Fausting F. of Buhl, Idaho recommends pumpkin pie spice in place of nutmeg or cinnamon in French toast or pancake batter.

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Spiced Up Navy Bean Soup

Sarah H. of Muncie, Indiana relates, “My mother spices up navy bean soup with a couple whole cloves, which she removes just before serving. People notice the special taste but can’t identify the…

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Spiced Up Tomato Soup

Spicing up your tomato soup is a snap, according to Paula P. of Rocky Point, New York. She says, “One damp day, I served my sweetheart a bowl of tomato soup with a bit of Worcestershire sauce and…

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Spiced-Up Spuds

“When I make mashed potatoes, I put in a pinch or two of ground nutmeg. It tastes great in instant and homemade mashed potatoes,” confirms Kelly Lissolo of Bangkok, Thailand.

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Spicy Scramble

“I like to add a dash of cinnamon to scrambled eggs. It gives them a nut-like flavor,” notes Alma Hicks of El Sobrante, California.

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Spicy Tuna Salad

Instead of adding diced pickles or sweet pickle relish to your tuna salad, spice up the mixture with diced jalapenos and chopped green onions.

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Spicy Turkey Salad

I’m always looking for ways to use up leftovers. When I had about 1-1/2 cups each of leftover turkey and cooked rice, I came up with this salad. I combined the turkey and rice with 1/2 cup each of…

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Sprinkle Pie Crust with Nutmeg

“I think the crusts of apple and pumpkin pies are even better when I sprinkle nutmeg over the pastry dough,” informs Lorrie A., Cardwell, Montana.

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Stay-Put Taco Filling

To make a great taco filling that won’t fall out of the shells, add 1/3 cup of quick-cooking oats to each pound of ground beef as you brown it. Season as usual. —Ruth C., Birnamwood, Wisconsin

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Stewed Pork Chops

Sylvia S. of Salisbury, Maryland writes, “After pan-frying pork chops, I pour a can of stewed tomatoes over them and place provolone cheese on top. Then I place the chops in the oven until the…

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Stuffed Pepper Substitutes

For a quick substitute for rice in stuffed peppers or cabbage rolls, try leftover cooked barley or whole kernel corn. Adding a tablespoon or two of quick-cooking oats will help keep the dishes…

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Stuffed Pepper Substitution

While Susan M. was making stuffed peppers one day, she discovered she didn’t have any tomato sauce for the filling. “I used a can of sloppy joe mix instead, and the seasonings made the stuffed…

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Stuffed Peppers Get Raves

“I add sausage to the ground beef and rice mixture for my stuffed peppers,” explains Virginia E. of Sagle, Idaho. “I stir in a small can of sauerkraut, then stuff the peppers. I top the filled…

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Stuffed Peppers Have Secret Ingredient

Sauerkraut is the secret ingredient in the ground beef mixture Joyce R. of St. Petersburg, Florida uses for tangy stuffed peppers. “I had them prepared this way at a lunch counter in Indiana 30…

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Substituting Dried Apricots

Instructs Dolores N. of Fort Bragg, California, “Fold chopped dried apricots into your zucchini bread batter instead of raisins.”

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Sugary Coffee Cake

A great way to sweeten any coffee cake is to dust some confectioners’ sugar on top. A little bit goes a long way. —Gladys Guba, Utica, New York

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Summer Squash Breakfast Bake

I often make a summer squash bake for brunch. I add some chopped peppers for variety and extra color and to spark the flavor of the zucchini and crookneck squash. Try jalapeno, sweet red or green…

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Super Morning Cereal

For years, Wini L.’s family in Julian, California has made oatmeal using cran-raspberry juice instead of water. “We love this super morning cereal,” Wini remarks.

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Super Side Dishes

“To greatly enhance my baked beans, I lay a strip of bacon and two bay leaves on top of the beans while they bake,” relates Shannan H. of Charlotte, North Carolina.

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Super Soups

“To make a delicious, hearty meal out of canned tomato or vegetable soup, I dilute the concentrate with V8 vegetable juice instead of water,” explains Esther T. of Portales, New Mexico. “Then I…

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Super Spareribs

“When I bake spareribs, I add apricot preserves and a little honey to my favorite barbecue sauce and brush over the meat,” says Geri Lesch, New Port Richey, Florida. “It’s tangy and delicious!”

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Super Stuffing

“When I make stuffing from a mix, I substitute canned apricot nectar for about half of the liquid called for,” says Rebecca Horvath of Indian Trail, North Carolina. “It gives the stuffing a…

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Sure-Fire Roast Beef

Following an old family recipe, Cindi B. of Lynden, Washington ensures a tasty beef roast by sprinkling on a bit of Worcestershire sauce, some chopped onion and a bay leaf.

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Surprising Use for Nutmeg

Linda H. of San Diego, California gives her meat loaf comforting flavor by adding 1/4 teaspoon ground nutmeg per pound of ground beef.

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Sweet Dough

Vaunda Box of American Fork, Utah relates, “I used to work in the kitchen of a school cafeteria, and my supervisor taught me to add just a little vanilla to sweet roll dough. It adds interest to…

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Sweet Gravy

“To make great gravy, stir in a small amount of sugar,” says Sondra D. of Collinsville, Oklahoma. “It makes it more robust, not sweet.”

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Sweet on Beans

“When making calico beans, I add a can of crushed pineapple with the juice. It makes the dish delicious!” pens Adeline Nelson of Spring Lake Park, Minnesota.

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Sweet on Eggs

“I like to add vanilla to scrambled eggs (about a teaspoon for six eggs). It’s a nice change from regular scrambled eggs,” Larissa McHugh relates from Longmont, Colorado.

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Sweet on Oatmeal

“I’ve found that adding 1/2 teaspoon of cherry extract to my oatmeal before cooking gives it the sweetness I crave without adding sugar. It’s been a lifesaver!” relates Cinnamon Stuckey of Sierra…

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Sweet Red Pepper Was a Surprise

While making cheesy cauliflower soup, Cheryl V. discovered a sweet red pepper in her fridge that had to be used. “I chopped it and added it to the soup,” relates the Grand Haven, Michigan reader.…

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Sweet Sauce

“I add brown sugar to homemade spaghetti sauce,” says Beth Allard of Belmont, New Hampshire. “I use about 1/3 cup for every quart of tomatoes. The sugar cuts the acidity of the tomatoes.”

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Sweeten Up Your Chili

“A bit of brown sugar really rounds out the flavor of my chili,” remarks Marie C. of Mt. Vernon, Illinois.

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Sweetened Carrots

“My mother-in-law taught me to sweeten 2 to 3 pounds of carrots by boiling them with three whole cloves and a bit of salt,” submits Barbara S. of Warren, Michigan. “I’ve passed this secret to my…

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Sweetened Pie Crust

Peg B. of Pine Plains, New York admits to adding a bit of confectioners’ sugar to her pastry for pie crust. “My kids would always leave the edge of the crust, but now they gobble it up,” she…

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Sweetened Sauerkraut

“People say my sauerkraut tastes so good,” notes Debbi Barate of Dilltown, Pennsylvania. “To a package of prepared kraut, I add a diced sweet onion that’s been browned in butter and one to two…

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Sweetened Spaghetti Sauce

To an 8-quart pot of spaghetti sauce, Alice L. of Fort Lauderdale, Florida adds a 12-ounce can of frozen apple juice concentrate. “It makes the sauce a little sweeter and takes away any acid…

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Sweetening Whipped Cream

Sweeten whipped cream with confectioners’ sugar instead of granulated sugar. It will stay fluffy and hold up a lot longer. —Joan D., Portal, North Dakota

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Tangy Salad

“I forgot to bring lemon juice with me on a Girl Scout outing for making a fresh fruit salad for supper,” writes Sharon Lewis of Orangeville, Illinois. “I stirred a few tablespoons of frozen…

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Tart Apple Pie

“I typically pour a bit of lemon juice onto my apple pie filling since it keeps the apples whiter and we like a tart pie,” explains Jeanne C. of Putnam Station, New York. “One day I was out of…

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Tastier Mac 'n' Cheese

“I add cooked crumbled bacon to my macaroni and cheese for a great new taste,” says Eleanor K. of Pomona, California.

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Tasty Add-In for Sloppy Joes

“I add a can of chicken gumbo soup to my sloppy joes,” reports Sandy S. of Hayward, Wisconsin. “It gives them a special tangy flavor just like the ones I enjoyed at the fair years ago.”

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Tasty Toffee Bits

“When I didn’t have pecans to add to my chocolate chip cookie dough, I added a cup of toffee bits instead,” informs Brenda S. of Hampstead, North Carolina. “The cookies were so rich and buttery…

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Tasty Topper for Beans

“For a tasty topping on everyday baked beans, I sprinkle finely crushed gingersnaps over the top after the beans are heated through,” relates Renee Z. of Tacoma, Washington.

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Tasty Tuna

“Sometimes I add coleslaw to a can of tuna fish,” writes Carol R. of New Britain, Connecticut. “My mom used to do this to stretch the tuna, but I love its crunchy texture.”

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Tasty Tuna Salad

For a tasty twist, add chopped black olives and a dash of lemon-pepper seasoning to tuna salad.

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Tasty Twist for Lettuce Salad

Informs Emily S. of Detroit, Michigan, “I saute green peppers and onions in olive oil until crisp-tender and then toss them with a lettuce salad and shredded cheddar cheese. The hot and cold…

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Tempting Turkey Stuffing

“When making the stuffing for the holiday bird, I stir in a can of cream of mushroom soup as the liquid,” reveals Chris T. of Portland, Oregon. “I always get compliments on that side dish.”

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Tender and Zippy Pot Roast Addition

When cooking pot roast, Ann F. of Lyndonville, Vermont covers the top with a thin layer of horseradish. “It tenderizes and gives the meat zip plus makes wonderful gravy,” she assures.

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Tender Turkey

“I always spread a generous amount of mayonnaise on my turkey before putting it in the oven,” writes Pamela Campbell of North Easton, Massachusetts. “The mayonnaise is absorbed during cooking,…

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Terrific Rice Krispies Treats

"For colorful and more flavorful Rice Krispies treats, I add 2 or 3 teaspoons of cherry or strawberry gelatin powder to the marshmallow mixture before adding the cereal," says Brenda Sheets of…

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Terrific Tastes for Iced Tea

Writes Carolyn O. of Sturgeon Bay, Wisconsin, “To make my iced tea very popular, I simply stir a few drops of lemon and orange extracts into every batch.”

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Terrific Tuna Dish

“To tame the fishy taste of canned tuna, I add a bit of sugar before stirring in the mayonnaise and other ingredients for tuna salad,” shares Shirley R. of Ft. Collins, Colorado.

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Terrific Tuna Salad

“I like to jazz up tuna salad by adding shredded cheddar cheese to the mix. It thickens the mixture so it doesn’t squeeze out of the sandwich,” relates Deanne Bagley of Bath, New York. “Sometimes…

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Thickening Baked Beans

Says Vicky P., Kerrville, Texas, “To make baked beans with a thick sauce, combine a few teaspoons of quick-cooking tapioca with the beans before baking.”

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Tip for Sensational Squash

“My secret is a little tarragon on yellow summer squash,” reveals Nellie M. of Elyria, Ohio. “I wouldn’t cook squash without adding a few shakes of it.”

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Tip for Tender Meatballs

From her Seminole, Florida kitchen, Joan R. reveals, “Years ago, Mother shared her secret for delicious meatballs. Instead of frying, drop the meatballs into chicken broth and boil for about 15…

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To Get Tender Chicken Breasts

“The way I get very tender, juicy boneless chicken breasts is to marinate them in orange juice overnight before cooking,” reveals Melissa H. of Santa Barbara, California.

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Tortilla Wedges

To serve tortillas with your chili, cut flour tortillas into eight wedges. Place wedges pointed end up against the edge of the bowl and fill bowl with chili. —Genelle Wolf, Mora,…

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Trick for Homemade Cherry Pie

When I make a homemade cherry pie, I mix a small package of cherry gelatin into the filling. I think it gives the pie better flavor and a rich, appetizing color that brings people back for a…

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Trick for Homemade Pizza

“To make mouth-watering homemade pizza, saute vegetables (pepper strips, onions, mushrooms, etc.) in butter with garlic and herbs before putting them on the pizza,” suggests Patricia F. of…

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Trick for Sugar-Coated Cookies

My family enjoys several cookie recipes that call for coating the treats with confectioners’ sugar. To save time and eliminate the mess, I place the sugar in a resealable plastic bag, add the…

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Trick to Homemade Canned Pears

Advises Dorothy C. of Junction City, Oregon, “For outstanding home-canned pears, place two washed unpeeled orange slices in the bottom of each jar before adding the pears. Process as usual.…

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Try Adding Yogurt

Suggests Larraine D. from Wynantskill, New York, “Stir your favorite flavor of yogurt into whipped topping for a special taste on cakes, fruit and gelatin. Strawberry yogurt combined with whipped…

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Use for Pickle Juice

I save the leftover juice from my homemade bread-and-butter pickles. Then when I make tuna or macaroni salad, I pour a little of the juice into the mayonnaise mixture. My family and friends love…

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Use Hot Pepper Seeds in Chili

For spicy hot chili, try leaving the seeds in the hot peppers. —Lori Wiese, Pembina, North Dakota

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Using Crab Boil Spices

“I stir in a teaspoon or more of crab boil spices (those normally used to cook crab or shrimp) to the boiling water when cooking potatoes for salad,” remarks Beth H. of Boulder, Colorado. “They…

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Vanilla Oatmeal

“Add a few drops of vanilla to oatmeal,” relates Christine Arter of Crestline, Ohio. “It perks up the flavor. Your children might even ask for seconds!”

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Vanilla Pudding Cake

From Butte, Montana, Cindy Shehee shares an easy way to dress up a box of super-moist cake mix. “I prepare the batter as directed, then stir in a small package of instant vanilla pudding mix,” she…

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Varied Apple Crisp

I like to vary my apple crisp sometimes by baking it in a pie crust or on a pizza crust and then drizzling the top with frosting. —Gayl Walerius, Marshall, Minnesota

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Vegetable Stuffing

“To enhance the moisture of stuffing made from a mix, saute equal amounts of chopped celery, diced onion and sliced mushrooms in olive oil,” suggests Teresa Ince from St. Charles, Missouri. “Add…

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Ways to Use Green Tomatoes

From her Overland, Missouri home, Linda B. writes, “At the end of the growing season, we always have a lot of green tomatoes left. Last year, we shredded some and I used them in place of zucchini…

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Well-Seasoned Sandwich

“I like to use French or sourdough bread for toasted cheese sandwiches,” field editor Deb Darr, Falls City, Oregon, writes. “But recently I made garlic bread and used it for the sandwiches. The…

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Well-Seasoned Scramble

“I stir the leftover contents of salad dressing packets into eggs and cook up surprisingly delicious scrambled eggs,” explains Nancy Arango from Santa Clara, California.

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What I Add to Beef Barley Soup

“I add a tablespoon or two of vinegar to a batch of my beef barley soup,” reveals Joy B. of Cincinnati, Ohio. “It gives the flavor a little zing.”

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What I Add to Beef Veggie Soup

Reports Sharon F. of Mt. Joy, Pennsylvania, “I add a can of cream-style corn and some V8 juice to my beef vegetable soup. They give the broth a wonderful taste.”

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What I Add to Carrots

Theresa D. writes from Hudson, New Hampshire, “When boiling carrots, I also add a chopped apple or pear and a bit of brown sugar. Kids love these carrots.”

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What I Add to Chicken Salad

“Sprinkle your chicken salad with a little cinnamon to make it really special,” writes Myrtle S. of Franklin, North Carolina. “I learned this trick from a small local restaurant.”

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What I Add to Corn Bread

Field editor Sherry B. likes to grind a green pepper and stir it into her corn bread batter before baking. “It gives it a delicious fresh taste,” she writes from her Winnsboro, Louisiana…

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What I Add to Fried Potatoes

“When frying potatoes, I sprinkle on 1/2 teaspoon or so of sugar and some chopped onion,” relates Rosemary L. of Cincinnati, Iowa. “They have wonderful old-fashioned flavor.”

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What I Add to Fruit Waldorf Salads

In her fruit and Waldorf salads, Alice K. adds a bit of whipped topping to the mayonnaise. “This fluffy dressing goes well with a sweeter salad,” Alice writes from her Torrance, California…

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What I Add to Fudge

“When I make fudge,” says Audrey B. of Brownsburg, Indiana, “I put in a couple tablespoons of quick-cooking oats as soon as I take it off the stove. It helps balance the sweetness and gives it a…

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What I Add to Grilled Cheese

“To make an ordinary grilled cheese sandwich special, I include green pepper rings and a slice of tomato before grilling,” says Marjorie F. of Reynoldsburg, Ohio.

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What I Add to Ham Salad

“I make a delicious ham salad by mixing in 1 teaspoon of orange juice per tablespoon of mayonnaise,” remarks Ruth S. of Manheim, Pennsylvania.

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What I Add to Homemade Soups

“Everyone raves over my homemade soups, stews and chowders,” says Floy M. of Anacortes, Washington. “I add fresh lime juice to give the flavor spark.”

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What I Add to Mashed Potatoes

When making mashed potatoes, Rejane M. of Alexandria, Virginia boils a clove of garlic with the potatoes, then mashes it in along with a sprinkle of nutmeg and white pepper.

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What I Add to My Ham Salad

Offers Kathy L. of Spiceland, Indiana, “Years ago, Mother taught me to mix in a spoonful of peanut butter when fixing ham salad. It’s delicious.”

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What I Add to Peach Pie

Comments Marie G. of Sebastopol, California, “When I make a peach pie, I squeeze half of a freshly cut orange over the filling. Eating a piece of this pie makes me feel like I’m standing in an…

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What I Add to Potato Salad

Sue L. of Green Bay, Wisconsin makes a creamy-tasting potato salad by adding a bit of milk and sugar to the mayonnaise dressing. “This salad is so good that my family even requests it in winter,”…

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What I Add to Scalloped Potatoes

Nadine H. of Fontana, California gets lots of recipe requests when she serves her scalloped potatoes enhanced with dried minced onion and canned sliced mushrooms. From Manahawkin, New Jersey,…

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What I Add to Shepherd's Pie

Tanya S. of Stoney Creek, Ontario remarks how much her family and friends enjoy her shepherd’s pie when she stirs sour cream and paprika into the beef mixture before baking.

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What I Add to Split Pea Soup

Advises Judy S. of Dearborn, Michigan, “Stir in a small amount of cider vinegar to your bowl of split pea soup for a wonderfully different taste.”

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What I Add to Sweet Potatoes

Baked sweet potatoes are so delicious and refreshing topped with butter and a few tablespoons of crushed pineapple, assures Robert H. of Boonville, Missouri.

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What I Add to Tuna Casserole

When Rosalie L. is preparing tuna casserole in her St. Ann, Missouri kitchen, she adds some sour cream to the standard tuna, noodles and cream of mushroom soup.

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What I Add to Tuna Salad

When Nancy I. of Newburyport, Massachusetts stirs up a batch of tuna salad, she shakes in lemon-pepper seasoning and a dash of garlic powder.

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What I Add to Turkey Soup

Turkey soup picks up sweetness without sugar and a nice golden color when Genice V. of Milwaukie, Oregon stirs in a grated raw beet.

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What I Add to Waffle Batter

From her Leominster, Massachusetts kitchen, Alisha S. writes, “I use orange juice for the liquid in my homemade waffle batter. Our two young daughters just love the sweet citrus flavor it gives…

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What I Add When Cooking Pasta

Shares Judy N. of Hawley, Minnesota, “My grandma used to add some sugar to the salted water when boiling macaroni or spaghetti. I still do this, and the pasta has much better flavor.”

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What's in My Beef Stroganoff

“Beef Stroganoff made with round steak or ground beef is extra tasty when I season it with a teaspoon or two of dill weed,” notes Jeriann H., Springville, Utah.

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What's in My Mashed Potatoes

“When I fix mashed potatoes, I boil the potatoes in water along with a bouillon cube and chopped onions and garlic,” explains Cathy C. of Pacifica, California. “Then I drain the liquid and mash…

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What's in My Pie Crust

Writes Ted M. of Anchorage, Alaska, “My wife loves my pies and always remarks on the crusts. My secret is a tablespoon or so of sesame seeds. They give the crust a great nutty taste.”

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When I Coat Fish Fillets

“I coat my baked and deep-fried fish fillets with mashed potato flakes instead of bread crumbs,” remarks Sandra C. of Kenosha, Wisconsin. “The key to a thick, crispy coating is to put the flakes…

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When I Cook Pasta

“When I cook pasta for a salad, I include celery leaves in the water for excellent flavor,” reports Marjorie P. of Delavan, Wisconsin.

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When I Make Sauerkraut

“Toward the end of simmering my sauerkraut, I grate one small peeled potato and stir it in,” says Dolores B. of Connellsville, Pennsylvania.

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Yogurt Crisp

Try topping plain yogurt with leftover apple or pear crisp for a tasty and nutritious breakfast or brunch snack. —Anna Victoria Reich, Albuquerque, New Mexico

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Yummy Addition to Oatmeal Cookies

“Oatmeal cookies are extra special when I make them using chocolate-covered raisins instead of plain raisins,” says field editor Clarice S. of Sun City, Arizona.

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Yummy Peanut Butter Cookies

Says Elizabeth J. of Olney, Texas, “For yummy peanut butter cookies, I stir 1/4 cup baking cocoa and a dusting of cinnamon into the batter.”

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Yummy Potato Salad

“I add crumbled cooked bacon and stuffed olives to my favorite potato salad,” says Karla H. of Lenox, Massachusetts. “It’s oh, so good.”

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Zesty Fruit Salad

“To give my creamy fruit salad a zesty taste, I pour some coleslaw dressing into the whipping cream as I whip it,” says Roberta Morgan of Yakima, Washington. “Add just enough to satisfy your taste…

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Zesty Pasta

“When I make pasta, I replace the spaghetti sauce with mild salsa. I made cheese manicotti covered with salsa for a friend’s housewarming party and received compliments,” writes Margharita Fransis…

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Zippier Spaghetti Noodles

Shares Anna Marie A. of DeTour Village, Michigan, “When I cook spaghetti, I toss the drained noodles in a bowl with Italian salad dressing. This keeps the noodles from sticking and zips up the…

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Zippy Applesauce

“When I serve applesauce with pork for a meal with guests, I add a touch of prepared horseradish. It lends a grown-up touch,” shares Carol Donarski of Seminole, Florida.

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Zippy Carrots

“When I prepare baby carrots, I saute them in butter and add a jar of homemade jalapeno jelly. Once the jelly melts, the carrots have a tasty instant glaze,” relates Karolyn Goss from Dallas,…

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Zippy Lemonade

“For a great kick, I add a small dash of cayenne pepper to my lemonade,” says Roxanna May of Colfax, Wisconsin.

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Zippy Mac and Cheese

“I give macaroni and cheese a boost by adding canned chopped green chilies or a can of drained tomatoes with green chilies. It hits the spot,” says Bettie Black of Albuquerque, New Mexico.

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