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15 Secret Ingredient Tricks to Transform Your Meals via [rd.com]

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Try these surprising ways to transform your favorite recipes using everyday pantry items.

1. Transform guacamole with yogurt
Yogurt and sour cream can add so much zing to guacamole! Line the bottom of a strainer with cheesecloth, a coffee filter, or paper towels and set over a medium bowl. Spoon in 1/2 cup plain yogurt, cover, and chill 8 hours or overnight until yogurt “cheese” is thick and creamy. Mix up all your favorite guacamole ingredients in a large bowl. Then fold in the yogurt cheese and 1/2 cup sour cream to make an amazing dip.

2. Add zing to pasta with lemons
Skip the salt when you boil the pasta, instead squeeze in half a lemon. You’ll give your pasta some zip, and cut down on your sodium intake.

3. Make perfect steaks with coffee
Mix fine coffee grounds into a spice rub for a rich, aromatic flavor. For an especially good combination, mix together ground espresso or other coffee, paprika, chili powder (or pure ancho chile powder,) cumin, salt, and freshly ground black pepper. Add a touch of sugar.

4. Whip up sensational scrambled eggs with cream cheese
Once you try this dish, you may never want your eggs any other way. Cream cheese gives the eggs a smooth texture that is irresistible. Melt 2 tbsp. butter and 1/4 cup cream cheese in a skillet before adding the beaten egg mixture. Cook over medium-low heat until the eggs are just firm yet moist.

5. The secret to great gazpacho soup? Bread.
Most soups are enriched with cream or a mixture of butter and flour. Give your gazpacho body with a different thickener: bread. Just puree 1 slice of bread, torn into pieces, right along with the vegetables (as per your usual gazpacho recipe) for a delightful texture and refreshing taste.

6. Take potato salad from blah to amazing with horseradish
Potato salads tend to be mild and creamy from mayonnaise or sharp and puckery from vinegar. But for a truly amazing potato salad, prepare your usual potato salad recipe, and simply stir in a teaspoon or two of prepared horseradish.

7. Give pasta sauce an instant makeover with sour cream
To give your sauce a rich flavor, stir in 1/4 cup sour cream per 2 cups sauce. Cook over low heat until sour cream blends into the sauce. Keep the sauce warm over low heat, but don’t allow it to boil or the sour cream may curdle.

8. Cook juicier meatballs with applesauce
Grandmas have used this trick for decades. Combine 1 1/2 pounds of ground beef, 2 slightly beaten eggs, 1 cup bread crumbs, 1 cup applesauce, 1 teaspoon salt, and freshly ground black pepper, to taste. Shape into balls and roll in flour. Brown them in a skillet and then add your favorite pasta sauce and simmer until cooked through.

9. Take breaded chicken to the next level with Cheez-Its
Use cheese crackers such as Cheez-Its in the breading. First soak the chicken in evaporated milk and fresh lemon juice for 2 to 4 hours, then dip in seasoned flour, beaten egg, and finally the crushed cheese crackers. Pan-fry or bake as usual.

10. To give robust flavor to a creamy soup, mix in salad dressing
Stir in some bottled blue cheese salad dressing toward the end of cooking your soup and enjoy the mouthwatering results!

11. Make zesty barbecue spare ribs with V8 juice
Combine 1 and 1/2 cups spicy V8 juice, 2/3 cup peach or apricot nectar or pineapple juice. 1/2 cup spicy barbecue sauce, and 1 teaspoon Worcestershire sauce. Mix with 3 pounds boneless country spare ribs in a baking pan, cover with foil, and bake at 350°F until tender, about 2 hours.

12. Jazz up an ordinary orange glaze with Earl Gray tea
To make an orange-scented sauce for pan-seared chicken or pork, remove the chicken from the pan and keep warm. Saute 1/3 cup chopped shallots in 1 teaspoon olive oil in the same pan. Add 1 cup chicken broth, 3/4 cup fresh orange juice and 2 Earl Gray tea bags. Boil until the liquid is reduced to 3/4 cup. Remove the tea bags and whisk in 1 1/2 teaspoons honey and 1 tablespoon unsalted butter.

13. The secret to getting a moist, light texture in Focaccia bread is to add instant mashed potatoes
Prepare the mashed potatoes according to package directions and cool for 10 minutes. Combine the flour and salt in a large bowl, and make a well in the center. Stir the mashed potatoes and the yeast in as per your favorite Focaccia recipe.

14. Make quick and tasty Pad Thai with ketchup
Pad Thai is one of those dishes you never feel like you can make at home. Well, we found something in your pantry that packs all the right flavors — ketchup! This condiment works perfectly as the base for a Pad Thai sauce. In a bowl, whisk together 1/2 cup ketchup, 3 tbsp. fish sauce, 3 tbsp. sugar, and 2 tbsp. lime juice. Voila! Stir-fry with meat/veggies and cooked noodles as per the directions of your favorite Pad Thai recipe.

15. Add delicious flavor to vegetarian chili with chocolate chips
For deep, rich tasting chili, stir in semi-sweet chocolate chips at the end of cooking. After you’ve cooked the chili, remove from the heat and stir in 2 tablespoons semi-sweet chocolate chips, salt and pepper.




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