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unique twists on homecooked favorites

by Bonnie Warner

Cooking is all about style in the kitchen and adding unique twists and ingredients to classic homespun recipes. Creativity and innovation separates the Iron Chefs from the average cooks. Don't feel pressured to introduce a secret ingredient for every meal, but for flavor, texture or presentation, a little ingenuity is enough to make Rachael Ray and the Barefoot Contessa proud. Here are some new spins on some classic homecooked favorites that will put your family into food comas:

Macaroni & Cheese

Warm, gooey macaroni and cheese is the ultimate comfort food. Many of us probably have fond childhood memories of eating boxed Kraft mac and cheese, while others go week in the knees remembering their mom's homemade ode to Velveeta goodness. While these old school macs are delicious, why not turn the comfort food tradition into a special occasion dish by adding lobster meat? Marry this New England favorite with the pasta comfort food by adding a healthy portion of lobster to the cheesy dish. Pre-canned or packaged lobster meat works well, unless you live in New England, where you have no excuse not to pick up the cold water crustacean at the local fish market. Use Gruyere cheese instead of day-glow Velveeta, and you'll have haute-cuisine.

Southern Comfort

Barbecued. Marinated. Buffalo style. Rubbed in spicy jerk seasoning. Chicken is a versatile food. Most chicken is just diced up and thrown in a stir fry, and that's about as exciting as watching water boil. Chicken deserves more love and attention than that, and so do the taste buds of your family or dinner guests. If you want people stuffed to the gills to point that they pass out on macys.com mattresses or IKEA living room sofas Thanksgiving Day-style, then you better go southern and batter and deep fry those birds. Fried chicken is summertime soul food — perfect for a date, family meal or casual backyard cookout.

Meatloaf Madness

Meatloaf is as traditional as grandma's apple pie, but chances are your family isn't turning cartwheels when you say you're cooking up an old-fashioned hamburger brick for Sunday dinner. It has a reputation for dryness, and there's only so much that onions and gobs of ketchup can do for its typically bland taste. From cheesy taco meatloaf to spinach and cheese stuffed turkey meatloaf, RecipeLion has zero reservations for turning this classic dish on its head.

Use classic taco ingredients like crushed tortilla chips, cheddar cheese and Picante sauce. Chances are your kids won't fuss over dinner or drown their loaf in pools of Heinz. An Italian-inspired dish, spinach-and-cheese-stuffed meatloaf is full of mushrooms, greens, and turkey. Not only is it lighter than traditional meatloaf, but it's also full of flavor.

Chicken Soup, Czech Style

Chicken soup — the classic American comfort food, thanks Campbell's®. We sip soup when we're sick. We live off it in dead of winter. Take a survey though and most cooks would never think to add small liver dumplings to this traditional soup for the soul. According to bingcookingsecrets.com, the people in the Czech Republic add liver dumplings to their chicken soup, traditionally enjoyed by guests at wedding feasts. The warm, fragrant broth cuts the sharpness of the meat's taste and adds another healthy twist to the classic dish. Shake things up in the kitchen and look to other countries and cultures for cooking inspiration on classic homespun recipes.

Note: This information was accurate when it was published. Please be sure to confirm all rates and details directly with the businesses in question before making your plans.

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