You’ve stocked your kitchen and now it’s time to start cooking! Our recipes use a rating system for –
Difficulty: Easy, Moderate or Involved
The above rating is relative to our other recipes, which are all fairly easy. So, don’t be afraid of a recipe rated Involved. It is only involved in comparison to the other recipes on our website. If you’re a complete novice in the kitchen, start with some Easy recipes. If you’re making several recipes at once, try to combine mostly Easy recipes with one that is rated Moderate or Involved.
Cost: Inexpensive, Moderate or Expensive
Once again, this rating compares recipes within our website, which are all relatively inexpensive. Some recipes might be rated Inexpensive, but with a Note or Variation for additions that increase the cost.
Tools: These are the main tools you’ll need to use. Items like measuring cups and spoons are not included. Some recipes give options, for example: electric mixer (optional).
Servings: Each recipe includes a number of servings. Some are exact and some approximate. Where possible and applicable, we indicate the size of each serving as well.
Red links (Courses, Cuisine, and specific ingredients):
Click on a link to find all recipes with that same label.
Please give our recipes a rating, which we hope will be good. In your rating, please consider how clear the instructions are, ease making the dish based on the rating, taste, nutrition, cost, and clean up. We believe our recipes will please you and others, while meeting the Finite Foodie criteria: simple, quick, tasty, relatively nutritious, inexpensive and easy to shop for and clean up afterward.
Print, Add to Meal Planner, and Favorite Recipes buttons:
Anyone can print a recipe. If you want to use the Meal Planner and Favorite Recipes buttons, you’ll need to register (for free!) as a member. Your Meal Plans and Recipes will be saved and accessible to you the next time you log in.
As you read through the recipes, remember these pointers.
A. Read the Recipe!
Read through the recipes carefully. Even though they are designed to be followed step by step, it’s still a good idea to read through the entire recipe before starting, just to make sure there’s nothing that you need to do ahead of time. For instance, some recipes will suggest that you serve the dish over rice, pasta or some other grain. By reading through the recipe first you’ll be able to decide what you want to serve with it and plan accordingly.
B. Common Assumptions
- Brown Sugar: We usually don’t specify light or dark brown sugar. Dark has a little more molasses in it than light. (Brown sugar is just white granulated sugar with some molasses added.) If you like a richer taste, use dark. There’s usually no need to make a special trip to the grocery store to buy one if you only have the other. Do NOT substitute a dark but dry sugar like Sucanat, since the recipe counts on a little extra moisture (unless you want a crispier cookie for example).
- Butter: When the recipe calls for butter, it usually doesn’t make a big difference if you use salted or unsalted, unless indicated. Typically, unsalted butter is used for baking and salted butter is used for cooking savory foods. Unsalted butter gives you the option to add salt as desired, so that’s what we typically use across the board. We save the salted butter for spreading on toast or baked potatoes.
- Flour: To measure flour when baking, fluff it up a little first with a fork or spoon, scooping and lifting it. Next, scoop out the flour one spoonful at a time and gently place it in a measuring cup, until overflowing. Use a straight edge (like the back, straight edge of a knife) and scrape across the top to push away the excess and create a level top. Do not pat down. We like to use white whole wheat flour or whole wheat pastry flour in most of our recipes. (Read more about white whole wheat flour here.) Regular white flour (aka wheat flour) makes a fluffier baked product, but has much less nutritional value. You can use half whole wheat and half white flour if you want a lighter (in color and texture) cake or cookie.
- Hot pepper sauce: Buy your favorite or favorites and adjust amounts in recipes to your taste. We usually use Tabasco (or similar) and Sriracha. Tabasco is hotter, so you’ll need less. Sriracha is slightly sweet. There are hundreds out there, but one or two will be good enough.
- Red Pepper Flakes: We use red pepper flakes mostly, but cayenne pepper is a good substitute if you want the pepper flavor blended in a little better. Cayenne is hotter and in a powdered form, so use less! Red pepper flakes add a pop of flavor and color to many dishes.
- Salt: We like unrefined sea salt, Celtic sea salt, Himalayan salt or some other full-spectrum, natural salt (like Real Salt) that is not refined (like Morton salt). Natural salt has trace minerals and therefore some nutritional value. See What’s the Deal with Salt?
- Sugar: We have tried to cut out added sugar as much as possible in our sauces, dressings and other savory dishes. However, there are times when you’ll need a little sweetener to mellow the flavor. We use it sparingly and rarely. However, if you want to bake sweets, you’ll need to have some sugar on hand. If a recipe calls for “sugar,” that usually means some type of granulated sugar. We prefer sugar from sugar cane. If it’s not marked, chances are that it comes from sugar beets, which are mostly genetically modified. To learn more about GMOs (or genetically modified foods, see: Institute for Responsible Technology. Feel free to use some “healthier” sugars that are less refined, like Succanat, Rapadura, Demerara, Turbinado, coconut or date sugar. They can change the texture slightly, so you might need to make some minor adjustments. See How to Make Brown Sugar and How to Measure Brown Sugar.
C. A Word about Prep Work
In an ideal world you would have a large kitchen filled with every kitchen gadget you could imagine, along with a sous-chef standing by to do all of your rinsing and chopping—like the chefs on TV.
However, you live in the REAL world. You very likely have a tiny kitchen with maybe 12 inches of counter space and 1 or 2 cabinets. And space might not even be your biggest limitation. Time might be in the shortest supply. If you’re like us, you come home after a long, tiring day at work, zapped of energy and imagination.
That’s why we’ve carefully written out the instructions on each recipe to reflect your world.
There will be instances when you really must chop a few things ahead of time because you won’t have an opportunity to do it while cooking. However, most recipes allow time to chop as you go. We know you don’t have a lot of space or a lot of bowls for each of the chopped vegetables. And even if you do, you don’t want all of those dishes to wash!
However, please feel free to do all of your prep work before you start cooking if you prefer, and if you have the space and time.
D. A Word About Creativity
We’ve included variations for many of our recipes at the end. We usually make a recipe once, as it’s written, jotting down notes on a printed copy or directly in the cookbook. That way, we’ll be ready to make minor adjustments for our taste preferences, or come up with a new version in the future.
Keep in mind that circumstances can affect the outcome of a recipe. For example, if your oven temperature is not accurate, your cake might require more or less time than stated in the recipe. (We recommend buying an inexpensive oven thermometer and verifying the temperature each time you bake.) Cooking with electric burners instead of gas can also make a difference, as does the material and size of pots and pans. And of course, you should always adjust seasonings to suit your taste preferences. What’s spicy to one person might be bland to the next.
As you become more skilled at cooking, you’ll become more confident and more creative. Have fun!
E. Meal Planning: In the recipe notes, we have included recommendations for dishes that go well with the recipe. You can create a menu for the day or week at the Meal Planner tab under START PLANNING, but you’ll need to register first. There’s no charge, and it gives you access to some fun features, so go ahead a register!