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Challenge: Mismatched Tastes

Delicious Variations on a Theme

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I eat everything. Seriously. Everything. Except bananas. Bananas and I broke up years ago and we are never, ever, ever getting back together. My husband, on the the other hand, loves bananas but can't stomach some of my favorites -- cooked spinach, mushrooms, scallops. I like well-seasoned, flavorful foods served piping hot. He likes his plates room temperature and SPICY. I'm talking tear-inducing, nose-running spicy. Personally, I don't like it when my food hurts me, but he is all about the burn. To complicate dinner time at Chez Turner even more, we have a daughter who only wants to eat Naked Noodles (pasta with only a dab of butter), dessert, chicken, shrimp and crab cakes.

I have my work cut out for me but I have a few tricks up my sleeve that simplify mealtime and please my many different palates. As a chef, I'm used to cooking multiple dishes and getting meals on the table quickly. Here's how I simplify meal time at home.

Some Assembly Required
I rely on recipes or dishes that can be assembled individually so everyone can add their favorites. Sauté or prep veggies, meats and cheeses - whatever your squad likes - and let them build their own pizzas, fajitas, or omelettes.

When I find a dish one of my finicky eaters loves I make a double batch and freeze it for later. I use small freezer bags or freezer-safe containers to package foods in single servings. Next time I'm stuck in the dinnertime doldrums I can get three different meals served to suit three different tastes with minimal fuss.

Variations on a Theme
I know I've hit the jackpot when I find a recipe that's so easily adaptable I can please everyone in one shot, like these Rich Chocolate Cookies. One batch of batter and I end up with three distinctly different snacks - stir in a little cayenne and cinnamon for a spicy Mexican Hot Chocolate Cookie. Toss in a handful of chopped creme de menthe candies for a minty treat or skip the add-ins and enjoy a delectably rich chocolate snack.

Rich Chocolate Cookies - Three Ways

Rich Chocolate Cookies – Three Ways

Author: Chef Danielle
Serves: about 24 cookies
One rich, chocolatey batter; three delicious cookies!
  • 4 ounces (1 stick) unsalted butter, softened
  • 3/4 cup light brown sugar
  • 1 large egg
  • 1 cup all purpose flour
  • 1/3 cup cocoa powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon cream of tartar
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
  • pinch salt
  • Mexican Hot Chocolate Cookie:
  • Add 1/4 teaspoon cayenne pepper adn 1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon to dry ingredients.
  • Chocolate Creme de Menthe Cookie:
  • Stir 1/2 cup creme de menthe chips into batter before shaping cookies.
  1. Cream butter and sugar together in mixer until fluffy, about 1 minute. Stir in egg.
  2. Whisk flour, cocoa powder, cream of tartar, baking soda and salt together. With mixer on low, gradually add dry ingredients to butter and sugar until well-mixed. Scrape sides of bowl with spatula and continue mixing until batter is one even color and no streaks of flour remain.
  3. Chill dough in fridge for at least 1 hour.
  4. Preheat oven to 375F and line two baking sheets with parchment or a silicon baking mat.
  5. Remove dough from fridge and roll into 1 1/2-inch balls. Place dough on prepared baking sheet, at least 2 inches apart.
  6. Bake 7-9 minutes, until cookies are set, but still soft. Remove from oven and cool 2-3 minutes on baking sheet. Transfer cookies to a wire cooling rack to cool to room temperature.

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