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Doctor Up Store Bought Ingredients

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Creating meals and desserts from scratch might be the the best way to nourish your family but who really has time to home cook every single meal. Even though I work from home, meal plan and enjoy cooking and baking I can’t prepare everything for a meal homemade. When I can I do but when I can’t I doctor up store bought ingredients to make my own. These little cheats are a great way to create meals that are your own but without the hassle of too many pots, pans and ingredients when you’re low on time, budget and even interest.

Doctor Up Store Bought IngredientsI know my family would love the taste of a long, slow simmered tomato sauce for our pasta dishes but I just DON’T want to babysit something like that so I opt for my kitchen hack instead.

Create a wonderfully Spicy Pasta Sauce using what comes in a jar as a base. It’s easy to make it all your own with the addition of herbs, vinegar and browned meats. My little trick is to saute a lot of garlic, 5 cloves, in 1/4 cup of olive oil and 2 tsps of butter over low heat so it doesn’t burn. Let that go for a couple minutes, add 2-3 pinches of red pepper flakes, 2 tbsp of red wine vinegar then your jarred sauce. These couple little steps gives your sauce a whole new depth of flavor with very little effort.Doctor Up Store Bought Ingredients

With Holidays centered around the dining table you want to serve dishes that you are proud of. Boxed Stuffing mix can easily be elevated with the addition of sauteed diced veggies, chopped apples and cooked crumbled sausage. No one has to know you took a shortcut.

Instant Mashed Potatoes are not my favorite dish. I always have them on hand though. They make a delicious thickener for soups and stews and bulk up homemade smashed potatoes when I’m short on ingredients but making them taste good on their own takes a few extra steps.  Start with a flavorful stock instead of water and don’t be afraid to increase the butter to 4 tbls as well as 1/4 cup of sour cream. To get an extra creamy feel skip them milk and go for heavy cream.  Doctor Up Store Bought Ingredients

While we LOVE to use our smoker for pulled pork and wings and brisket I’m not big on BBQ Sauce. That doesn’t mean everyone else in my house isn’t. This means we always have bottled stuff in the house. This is one of the simpler things to spruce up.  With the addition of hot sauce, honey, Worcestershire and molasses you can prepare something that no one will ever expect came out of a bottle.

Homemade baked goods are the best things are earth, that is until it is you having to make them. There was a time when I loved baking cakes from scratch but these days I just don’t have the time. This goes for Frosting. Buy  what you can from the store and give a simple vanilla flavor a new life with the addition of 1/2 cup creamy peanut butter, pinch of sea salt and a drizzle of heavy cream.  Chocolate frosting can be made better with non other than MORE chocolate. Mix 1/4 cup melted chocolate and 1/2 cup powdered sugar till you get the right consistency.  For a more gourmand experience top your sweets with chopped nuts, coconut or even chocolate chips.

A $.69 box of corn muffin mix is hard to pass up so don’t. With the addition of a 6oz plain or vanilla yogurt you’ll end up with a sweeter moist Cornbread.Doctor Up Store Bought Ingredients

If you went through all the trouble of making a beautiful roast chicken you should also serve a delicious Gravy on the side. Start with caramelized chopped onions and garlic, crushed thyme and pan drippings and top that off with a jarred gravy of choice to ensure you have plenty.

There was a time when Shae didn’t like my homemade mac and cheese. This broke my heart but she was little so I knew it would just take a little time to change her taste buds. In order to get the rest of the family to eat boxed Mac and Cheese I doctored it up by adding 1/2 cup shredded cheese and whole milk. This 2 little changes make a huge difference, enough to get the rest of the family to eat it once in a while. For a bigger treat top the prepared dish with bread crumbs and toss under the broiler for 2-4 minutes for a crisp crust.

This are just some of the shortcuts we take on our home. What do you do to get through meal time when time is of the essence? What is your best kitchen hack?

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  1. I totally do that too with my spaghetti sauce! It’s easy to start with store bought as a base, then just make a could quick adjustments to make it more home cooked. The time it saves is totally worth it to me.

  2. I love these ideas! Especially the yogurt to the muffin mix to make it more moist, as my muffins are always so dry. Thanks for the tips!

  3. I always add to my store bought foods. Gluten free foods lack a lot in taste though. Like Jen I add veggies to my spaghetti sauce.

  4. I always have a box of cornbread mix on hand. You’re so right about being able to doctor it up real quick!

  5. Sometimes just adding a little extra makes some foods taste so much better! I am now craving cornbread! haha!

  6. These are great tips! Love the idea of using yogurt to moisten cornbread. Thanks for sharing!

  7. We had mashed potatoes last night! I added some garlic and cheese to ours – it was delicious!

  8. I have to remember these little shortcuts. You don’t always have time to do everything from scratch!

  9. These tricks are awesome. Sometimes store-bought foods can be a little bland.

  10. Such great tips to make something your own! Love it.

  11. These are cool tricks! I save these, it’s surprising how handy they come in and I use shortcuts and tricks in the kitchen often.

  12. I love these tips! I like doctoring up all sorts of premade foods to give them more of a homemade taste. I’m keeping your tips bookmarked.

  13. Whaaat? These are some crazy good tips! I’m going to dress up my BBQ sauce next time I buy it. Delish!

  14. I try to cook from scratch as much as possible but there are those nights where a little help from prepared foods is much appreciated. Doctoring up a pasta sauce is often the solution that we choose. I’ll sauté some zucchini or other fresh vegetable with some onions and occasionally some ground turkey add the sauce and Yum, dinner!

  15. Cornbread is my favorite cheat for some recipes. I rarely make it from scratch. And growing up, we never ate “plain old” macaroni and cheese. It always was dressed up with something.

  16. What great ideas! I’m all about semi-homemade cooking! It just makes life easier sometimes.

  17. I’ve never thought about using instant mashed potatoes to thicken soups, but that is REALLY smart!

  18. I use instant mashed for a few things. They are my shortcut in making gnocchi for one.

  19. I always doctor up my spaghetti sauce too, but it never would have occured to me to use butter. Does it give it a richer flavor? We just had spaghetti the other night but I’m going to have to try it! Oh and I love the idea of using yogurt in cornbread. That’s going on my list too!

  20. This is such a clever post! People get caught up in cooking from scratch and wondering how they will find the time – you can make delicious meals by combining the 2!

  21. I take a lot of help from the store, especially on weeknights when everyone just wants to relax. So I really appreciate these tips and tricks.

  22. I swear, I do this all the time. It saves me so much time and energy.

  23. I swear, I do this all the time. It saves me so much time and energy.

  24. Stephanie Keeping says

    These are great short cuts! I will have to share these with my mother.

  25. Great tip on the cornbread. I’m definitely telling my hubby about that. He does all the cooking around here. Thank you for sharing. We are going to try that!!!

  26. I’ve been known to doctor up store bought stuff. As much as I want to make everything from scratch, I just don’t have the time (or energy). Thanks for the tips!

  27. Great ideas! I do like to add some kind of veggie to boxed mac and cheese.

  28. I never thought to add yogurt to the corn bread! That is a smart tip! We always add leftover meat and veggies to our mac&cheese to make a full meal of it.

  29. Great ideas, I’m always looking for ways to make things just a little better. 🙂

  30. I am all about doctoring up store bought items! I love turning something blah into something great with a littl bit of doctoring up!

  31. I love the corn bread idea.. add yogurt thanks for the tip

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