Have you ever discovered you’re all out of a certain ingredient just when you’re in the middle of preparing a recipe? I hate when that happens. And I know myself well enough that I don’t want to run to the store. For me an unscheduled trip like that could easily cost $40, maybe more. That’s just how impulsive I can be. I’ve learned that when I’m in a pinch— I need a pinch-hitter!


NEED AN EGG:  Combine two tablespoons of water, two tablespoons of flour and 1/2 teaspoon of baking powder.

THICKEN GRAVY: If you’re out of flour, you can substitute pancake mix up to three tablespoons. It works well, just don’t go over three tablespoons or your guests will be looking for the maple syrup.

BREADCRUMBS: Crumble 1/2 slice of bread and mix 1/4 cup broken crackers to substitute.

BAKING POWDER:  For each teaspoon of baking powder, substitute: 1/4 teaspoon baking soda, 1/2 teaspoon cream of tartar, and 1/4 teaspoon cornstarch

BUTTERMILK: Combine one cup of fresh milk and one tablespoon vinegar.

HEAVY CREAM; You can make the equivalent of 1 cup heavy cream by whisking together 3/4 cup milk and 1/3 cup soft butter or margarine (for use in cooking or baking).

HONEY: Mix 1 1/4 cup sugar and 1/4 cup liquid (use the same type of liquid called for in the recipe).

PLAIN YOGURT: Cottage cheese blended until smooth makes an excellent cup-for-cup substitute for plain yogurt.

SWEETENED CONDENSED MILK: To make the equivalent of a 14-ounce can, pour 1/2 cup of boiling water into a blender; add 1 cup nonfat dry milk, 2/3 cup sugar, 3 tablespoons melted butter, and a few drops of vanilla extract. Cover and blend on high speed for 30 seconds or until smooth. Use immediately or store in the refrigerator in a covered container.

CHOCOLATE CHIPS: Semi-sweet chocolate chips can be substituted with nine tablespoons cocoa, seven tablespoons of sugar and three tablespoons of butter (this makes the equivalent of six ounces chocolate chips.

BROWN SUGAR: Brown sugar can be replaced with one cup of white sugar and one to two tablespoons of molasses, mixed. Hint: This is so much better than commercial brown sugar, you’ll be tempted to make a permanent switch.

CHOCOLATE MOUSSE: I don’t know how often, if ever, you’ve discovered you are fresh out of chocolate mousse. But you can never be too careful about this kind of thing. So that you are prepared for an unscheduled chocolate fix, learn this substitute: Stir sifted cocoa powder into any a tub of any variety Cool Whip. Now taste. Unbelievable, huh?

WHITE COOKING WINE: 1/3 cup white grape juice plus 1 tablespoon rice vinegar*

RED COOKING WINE: 1 cup grape juice, 1 tablespoon strong tea, 1 tablespoon rice vinegar*

*Not rice wine vinegar