Try a New Recipe

7 Steps to Try a New Recipe Like a Pro on Hannah & Husband

New year, new you, yada yada… I’m not really one of those “let’s go on a diet in January because __ magazine says we should” sort of girls. Instead, let’s talk food. Specifically, let’s try a new recipe. I’m trying to mix things up in the kitchen.

@jamesaslaughter instagram | 7 Steps to Try a New Recipe Like a Pro on Hannah & Husband

We cook the majority of our meals (as I’m sure you assume if you follow @jamesaslaughter and @hb_belle on Instagram), but recently I felt like we needed to mix things up. So we took a few minutes one afternoon and explored some of the local ethnic grocery stores–Mexican, Turkish, Asian, Indian. We’re having so much fun experimenting with new recipes and spices! And, of course, being who I am I tweak everything a little bit. Don’t judge–it’s the curse of those that love to cook. So today I thought I’d give you a super-simple rundown for trying a new recipe.

 7 Steps to Try a New Recipe Like a Pro on Hannah & Husband

7 Steps to Trying a New Recipe Like a Pro

Pick a place.

When we eat out, it is almost always something that we probably won’t make at home. For instance, we frequented the local Vietnamese restaurant a couple times a week before finally learning how to make pho at home. If there’s a restaurant you love or a country you’d like to visit, start there. What do you like to get at the restaurant? What do people in that country eat? What do people in that country like to cook at home?

Hop over to Pinterest, but be critical.

Pinterest is a great place to get inspiration but can also be overwhelming. I have a “Yummy-ness” board that I update almost daily with recipes I’d like to try. But if you’re trying to get out of your box and try something new, you don’t want to trust just a pretty picture. Instead, try to find pins that people say they have actually made themselves. Check out the comments.

If there’s one recipe that’s been pinned a bunch, head over to that blog and see if there are any comments beneath the post. If people are commenting, they probably trust that blogger as well as their recipes.

Don’t change everything at once.

This is valuable advice with any new recipe you’re trying but is especially important if you’re eating a new ethnicity of food. You may get the most out of the experiment by using main ingredients you already know really well. For example, you know green beans. You love green beans. Try a different preparation of green beans.

Taste as you go.

If you’re looking to experiment with flavors in the future, taste the pieces and parts as you go so you can see how they all add up in the pot. For example, last night we made miso soup for the first time. We started with a broth of seaweed and mushrooms. Seaweed is not a taste I really needed to taste by itself. But when you near the end of the recipe, you whisk in miso, and (spoiler alert) it changes EVERYTHING. So yummy!

To understand the balance,
you must understand the parts.

Compare recipes.

If I’m trying something new, I’ll often compare several recipes for the exact same thing. For instance, last night I saw a miso soup with sweet potato on a recent email blast. So last night I threw one in to our soup, and it was a delightful addition to the basic recipe I was using.

Find your own trusted few.

There are a few cooks who post recipes that I will try the first time, line by line. Very few. I usually go to these few when I want to try a new technique or a new type of food I’ve never cooked before. Everyone has their go-tos, and these are mine.

I heard Ina say on Julia Turshen‘s (an amazing cook herself) fab Radio Cherry Bombe podcast a couple weeks ago that she tries each recipe several times and then has someone else try it before she publishes a book. Well it shows, Ina! It really shows.

Roll with the punches.

Be aware there are a things that may throw you off. Humidity and altitude vary from country to country and state to state. (This can especially throw off baking. Our friends from Salt Lake mock the size of our mountains, but we mock their leavening techniques.) A convection oven often doesn’t need as long of a cook time of as high of a temperature as a regular oven. Watch what you’re cooking. You learn by doing. Be willing to fail.

Which brings us to… the back-up plan.

If you’re trying something really new, be aware that the experiment may fail miserably. I recall a super-healthy, vegetarian lasagna experiment of late. (Pro-Tip: the béchamel is what makes lasagna edible.) So be willing to order a pizza.

So I think we’re diving into making our own pita next. What about you?

Any recipes you’d love to try?




Countdown to Thanksgiving

Only a couple days left in the countdown to Thanksgiving so I wanted to share a few recipes that have been a hit in the past and a some that will be on our menu this year.

The countdown is a little more real for the turkeys. #thanksgiving

The countdown is a little more real for some than for others.

The Turkey

In the past, I was always a fan of roasting with beer and fresh herbs. But last year, we broke with tradition and used Alton Brown’s brining method. I’ll never look back. Here’s the full recipe. 

The Sides

I made this spicy roasted squash with feta and herbs two weeks ago and have made it at least twice since. I knew sriracha held magic powers, but wow! Bonus for those that are a little scared of spice: the brown sugar and feta even things out perfectly.

Sautéed brussels sprouts with bacon and golden raisins. My mother-in-law, known when we first met for her general disdain of all things green, loved these so much after our first Thanksgiving that she humbly requested “those green things with the bacon” the next year.

The Lee Brothers are masters of Southern fare, and while I have yet to actually make this pimento cheese potato gratin, I’m sure it will be a perfect addition to our menu.

Cranberry Orange Relish: My recipe is here. 

Emma Chapman’s recipes can make anyone look like a baker–including myself. These Rosemary Parker House rolls are a delicious twist on the classic that also make for the perfect post-turkey-day sandwiches.

A Charlie Brown Thanksgiving Snack | Hannah & Husband

The Treats

If you’re going to have a house full of company, you should also have a house full of snacks. Our two favorites this time of year are…

A Charlie Brown Thanksgiving Snack

Momma’s Fantasy Fudge

Spiced Bourbon Apple Pie | Hannah & Husband

The Pies

When I was 9, I won a pie contest with my Woo-Woo’s recipe for Pumpkin Pie. It is always my go-to.

Hands down, the best apple pie ever: Emma’s (again, she can make anyone look like a baker) Spiced Bourbon Apple Pie. I always make ours in an iron skillet and, while you have to watch the bake time, that really sends it over the moon!

Looking for a little more inspiration?
Check out my pinterest board:

The Belle’s Thanksgiving Game Plan

What are your go-to recipes? Anything we *must* try?

Woo-Woo’s Ranger Cookie Recipe

Yesterday would have been Woo-Woo’s 99th birthday so earlier this week I baked a batch of Ranger Cookies. As I’ve said before, her recipes are always my favorites and this one is no exception. For any family gathering or holiday, she’d bake dozens of cookies (usually ranger cookies and sugar cookies) the day or two before and store them in big cookie tins so there was always something sweet on hand to offer guests and grandchildren!

Ranger cookies were always some of my favorites because they’re both salty and sweet. And bonus: the dough is delicious!

WooWoo's Ranger Cookies Recipe | Hannah & Husband

WooWoo’s Ranger Cookies

Preheat oven to 375°


1/2 cup butter, softened

1/2 cup white sugar

1/2 cup packed brown sugar

1 egg

1/2 tsp. vanilla

1 cup all-purpose flour

1/2 tsp. baking soda

1/4 tsp. baking powder

1/4 tsp. sea salt

1 cup quick oats

1 cup Total cereal (then crush)

1/2 cup unsweetened coconut

Ranger Cookies | Hannah & Husband

Make It:

Mix the first 5 ingredients–butter, sugar, brown sugar, egg, and vanilla.

Stir in remaining ingredients.

Drop by the rounded teaspoon, 2 inches apart, on an ungreased cookie sheet.

Bake for 12 minutes at 375°

Makes at least couple dozen cookies.

Looking for More?

Woo-Woo’s Sugar Cookie Recipe

Woo-Woo’s Quick-as-a-Wink Brownies

Woo-Woo’s *Award-Winning* Pumpkin Pie Recipe


Fudge Pie

Fudge Pie | Hannah & Husband

You may have seen my pies yesterday on Instagram.

Yesterday morning, I got up early to bake two fudge pies–one with nuts and one without. It was my dad’s 65th birthday, and fudge pie is a family favorite for any birthday, celebration, or Thursday afternoon. It’s one of those recipes (like Loverboy’s Specialty Cake and chocolate chip cookies) whose ingredients are always kept in stock for impromptu celebrations because it is rich and creamy.

Fudge Pie | Hannah & Husband

Do you have a red plate for celebrations? This may need to get it’s own post later.

The pie is super simple to make but, as my mother and I discussed last night, it my take a couple tries in your oven to get the consistency just right. I’ve found that the trick is to let the outer half of the pie set but leave just a little jiggle in the middle. Then, let it “set” for at least an hour after baking.

Fudge Pie | Hannah & HusbandFudge Pie | Hannah & Husband

Preheat oven to 325°


1 stick butter

2 eggs

1 cup sugar

1/4 c. flour

1/4 c. cocoa

1 tsp. vanilla

Add some chopped pecans if you like.

Make It:

1.)  Beat eggs with melted butter.

2.)  Fold into dry ingredients and add nuts, if using.

3.)  Pour into unbaked, 8in. pie crust.

4.)  Bake at 325° for 30-35 minutes. (See note above about getting this just right.)