Cooking with “WOH” ~ Whatever’s On Hand

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Not every satisfying dish takes a recipe. Simply assembling basic, good ingredients can be great, such as this 5-minute salad of leaf lettuce, feta cheese, Kalamata olives, minced onions, olive oil, lemon juice, and seasoning. —Just as easy to do with a little leftover chicken or fish, fruit, chopped nuts, whatever you have a taste for from the refrigerator that day. This includes omelettes, burgers, and this surprisingly quick “WOH” cookie.


Omelettes are great for this style of cooking. Eggs plus various diced veggies, a little cheese and presto! Same with burgers. Toss some ground turkey, or salmon, or just about any leftover protein into the food processor with a few cracker crumbs, a little oil and an egg; shape into patties, sautee and serve with a side salad or chips for a satisfying lunch out of yesterday’s leftover supper. Change the flavor profile with a little cumin, red pepper, curry, Herbs de Provence, whatever sounds right, right then. Fast food can’t top this for ease and economy.

Other times, knowing what you have on hand, you can easily Google search a list of your ingredients and see cooking sites’ recipe suggestions. Here’s an example:  “Cake recipe with chocolate and raspberry.” This came up. Yum!

Screen Shot 2020-07-30 at 1.20.22 PMYet other times, a good recipe can be modified to use up the bits and pieces left from your other culinary creations. Here’s a tasty 20-minute cookie, adapted this morning from Taste of Home. Note: this makes a big recipe. Divide it in half, make it all and freeze half, make it into a bar cookie, it’s gratifyingly versatile.

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1 cup butter, softened

1-1/2 cups sugar

3 large eggs

3 cups all-purpose flour — I had oat flour on hand and used half oat, half all-purpose with excellent results

2 teaspoons ground cinnamon, 1 teaspoon ground cloves, 1 teaspoon ground nutmeg— Here, the idea is 4 teaspoons of available aromatic spices in this general ratio. I used 2 teaspoons of pumpkin pie spice blend and 2 teaspoons of Korintje cinnamon.

1 teaspoon baking soda    

1-1/2 cups finely chopped dates, 1 cup finely chopped raisins — I used  ¾ cup of golden raisins in the pantry, ¾ cup of dried figs, and 1 cup of dates for the total 2 1/2 cups in all. I think dried cranberries, cherries, and a little orange zest would be lovely too. Maybe next time…

1 cup finely chopped walnuts— Easy to substitute. I used ½ cup ground pecans and ½ cup ground walnuts.


2 cups confectioners’ sugar

2 tablespoons lemon juice

2 tablespoons water

This change was the most satisfying of all. In the spirit of frugality, I had frozen a bowl of lemon glaze that went wrong (it was supposed to be a stiff frosting for a filled, frosted lemon-vanilla cupcake and turned out more like a lemon milkshake.) Sure enough, it worked. Serendipity! This isn’t to say anyone else would have a bowl of lemon glaze in the freezer, but it’s fun discovering what you do have, making it work, and possibly creating a new family favorite on a tight COVIDtine budget.

Directions: you decide

Quick ‘n’ easy — I wanted a breakfast cookie this morning and it was already 9 a.m. Turns out, this recipe works as a one-dish wonder ready in about 20 minutes. Stir together all of the ingredients in the order listed. Drop the batter into a lightly oil-sprayed muffin pan, about 1 tablespoonful per muffin cup, and bake at 375 degrees for 9-11 minutes. Remove from the oven, cool for 2 minutes, glaze and serve.

For their version — Visit the Taste of Home recipe web site which includes 2 hours of refrigeration, rolling, and cutting.

Common sense, and some good web sites

Really, just use your common sense for “WOH” cooking. Food sense and innovation come quickly with a little practice.

For specific ingredient substitutions, Google search “food substitutions” where you’ll find list upon list, including this one at All Recipes.  To translate a recipe into a vegan or vegetarian dish, sites abound online such as BBC Good FoodSpruce Eats, and Vegetarian Times. (But, this is an area I’ll leave to the experts, bloggers and book publishers alike.)













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