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Cooking errors don't have to be the end of the world


Trifle is an easy way to use crumbled or fallen cakes.

It has happened to everyone at some point or another: You are making dinner and something goes horribly wrong. You forget one of the eggs in recipe of cornbread and it is so crumbly you can't get it out of the pan. You get impatient waiting for the cake to cool and it falls apart as you put it on the plate. You add twice the amount of salt needed for the gravy and it is inedible. You are doubling a batch of brownies and end up quadrupling the amount of butter, resulting in a soggy mess.

Problems like these don't have to be disasters. The trick is to step back for a moment, evaluate just how inedible the problem is and then brainstorm solutions.

The too-crumbly cornbread was supposed to be served with chili. Instead of having it on the side, we ended up putting the cornbread in the bowl first, then pouring the chili over it. No muss, no fuss and everyone loved it.

The cake was supposed to be a gorgeous glazed bundt for dessert after a dinner party. Instead we had trifle. I cut up the cake pieces and layered it in a dish with instant pudding, sliced bananas and Cool Whip pulled out of the freezer. It was a huge hit.

The gravy mess was actually the easiest to fix. I just doubled the whole recipe. I had a ton of gravy left over, of course. The extra simply went in the fridge for a few days before becoming part of a casserole.

The goopy brownies were still edible, they were just very hard to eat and were extremely rich due to the large amount of butter. The solution? We spooned the chocolatey mess over the top of vanilla ice cream for a truly delicious dessert.

Here are a few more common kitchen errors and some possible solutions:

* Problem: The soup is too salty and there is no room in the pot to increase the recipe. Solution: Cut a couple of potatoes into large pieces and add them to the soup. Let it simmer until the potatoes are soft and cooked through, then remove the potatoes. If it is still too salty, add more potato and do it over again. The potato soaks up the seasonings in the broth, including the extra salt. Pasta works, too, but it is harder to remove after it has done its work.

* Problem: The cake falls while cooking, leaving it lopsided and flat. Solution: The easiest thing to do is make trifle like I did with the crumbled cake. Another solution is to make Petite Fours: Cut the cake into small squares and frost and decorate each one separately.

* Problem: You get distracted and a batch of cookies ends up overbaked. They aren't burned, but they are definitely too brown and hard. Solution: Use the hard cookies as the "crust" for pudding cups. Line muffin cups with papers, then place a cookie or pieces of cookie in the bottom of each one. Make instant pudding following the directions for pie filling and fill each cup. Chill according to directions and serve. The cookie provides a solid foundation for the cups and the pudding will soak in and soften the cookie.

* Problem: Dinner is almost ready to serve and you break out the rolls, only to find them turning green and fuzzy. Solution: Trash the rolls and find a substitute. One possibility is seasoned toast. Melt some butter and mix in some garlic powder and dried parsley. Brush it on one side of regular sliced bread and stick the bread under the broiler for about 3 minutes or until they are nicely browned. If you want, you can cut the bread into shapes before putting it under the broiler.


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