3 Recipe Tips to Really Wow 'Em

Truly, one of my all time favorite things is sharing what I've learned about cooking with other people. Over the years, I've discovered lots of easy yet effective tricks to punch up recipes and take your dishes to the next level. And these three tips are all super simple, surefire ways to make everything you cook taste that much better!

1. Dried Herbs Should Stay on the Shelf (at the Supermarket!): When herbs are fresh, they add a clean, bright, interesting flavor that you just don't get from dried. You can keep mint, rosemary and parsley stashed in the fridge wrapped in damp paper towels, to use it in a variety of dishes throughout the week (I've found they last the longest). I also really love tarragon (amazing with chicken, seafood and egg dishes) and dill (underused, yet works with just about anything!). One final fav? Fresh scallions-they make a great garnish, add crunch/color, and lend a light oniony flavor.

2. Punch Up Flavor With Spices: I definitely play favorites when it comes to spices! Smoked pimentón (or Spanish smoked paprika) is one of my go-to's. It gives chorizo its gorgeous hue and spicy flavor...try it to give any dish a lightly spicy/smoky taste.  Another staple is salt-free Italian seasoning -it makes anything from turkey meatballs to lasagna taste like “Grandma’s Sunday sauce” (in one bottle!).  Go for granulated garlic (vs. garlic powder) to add true garlic flavor that never burns in marinades. And a final fav is cumin for a distinctly earthy flavor in anything Mexican, Spanish or Indian.

3. Use Citrus in New Ways: I often find myself reaching in the crisper for a lemon, lime, or orange to use the juice or zest in my cooking...for everything from vinaigrettes to marinades. It's an incredibly easy way to add brightness with just a little squeeze. (Check out the video below for more citrus tips.)

Bonus Chef Tip: if your soup or sauce tastes a little flat at the end, add a bit of acid to it to brighten it up - acidity rounds out flavors to bring a dish together.  Citrus juice, cider vinegar, or balsamic vinegar all work equally well.  Truth? Every chicken soup I make gets finished with some lemon juice. I also use citrus zest constantly in both sweet and savory dishes to give great flavor without any additional tang.

Trust me. With these recipe tips, you'll take your dishes from good to great in no time!

What's your favorite cooking tip you've learned?