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Meal Planning: 5 Tips for New Dinner Ideas

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Inevitably we all face situations in life where we come up against some sort of road block. Artists of many kinds commonly run into what is described as “writer's block.” It is the wall that each of us hits when the inspiration to create is at an all-time low and nothing seems to spark any sense of inspiration or creativity. As cooks, each of us will run into situations like this at some point. But the question is… will we be prepared? Here are 5 tips to keep you inspired to come up with new dinner ideas.

5 Tips to Inspire New Dinner Ideas

1. Create a recipe calendar

One of the best things you can do to keep yourself creative is to stay organized and plan ahead. A recipe calendar should be the center of all of your cooking. Recipe calendars allow you to stay organized, but they are also useful for gaining inspiration. For instance, every once and a while we have those “ah-ha” moments where we suddenly come up with a great idea. Use the recipe calendar to keep those ideas listed for future dates.

2. Eat a variety of different foods

In order to have more moments of inspiration you need to expose your palate to multiple types of food. Eating a variety of foods gives you a great number more tastes and smells to work with in order to combine flavors into a new masterpiece. Also experiment with cooking different styles of food and watch as you refine your skills and increase those moments of inspiration.

3. Read up

Read often and in bulk. Whether it’s through books, blogs, articles, or magazines, take the time to read what others are doing and what sorts of techniques they use. The more you expose yourself to experts and other cooks the better you will be at creating interesting tastes. Eventually you will get good enough to contribute to their discussion and share your secrets and techniques.

 4. Experiment

It is always important that you give yourself time to experiment and make mistakes (or perhaps unrecognized masterpieces). You need to have time to refine your technique and you need to have time to improvise. This is one of the best ways to practice coming up with new ideas and combining interesting tastes, flavors, and smells into great new dishes.

5.  Have fun

Perhaps what is most important is that you make it fun. You are on a journey and need to realize that coming up with the inspiration to cook is not just about cooking but about your ability to be inspired by the everyday and normal. Developing the skill to translate the normal into something extraordinary will make more aspects of your life interesting.

Cinco de Mayo is only a days away. If you’re looking for a great way to test your new skills on some easy Mexican recipes here is a perfect opportunity. In honor of Cinco de Mayo here is a recipe for you.

Crunchy Quesadilla Stack 

Crunchy Quesadilla Stack Image

Ingredients

  • 1 can (10 oz each) Ro*Tel® Original Diced Tomatoes & Green Chilies, drained
  • 1 cup shredded Cheddar cheese
  • 1 small avocado, pitted, peeled, chopped
  • 1/4 cup sliced green onions (1/4 cup = about 2 onions)
  • 1/2 teaspoon garlic salt
  • 1 can (16 oz each) Rosarita® Traditional Refried Beans
  • 10 flour tortillas (6 inch)
  • 5 corn tostada shells (6-inch)
  • PAM® Original No-Stick Cooking Spray 

Directions

  1. Combine drained tomatoes, cheese, avocado, green onions and garlic salt in medium bowl; blend well.
  2. Spread 1/3 cup refried beans over entire surface of 5 flour tortillas; top each with tostada shell. Spoon tomato mixture evenly over shells; top each with a remaining flour tortilla to make 5 quesadillas stacks.
  3. Spray large skillet with cooking spray; heat over medium heat until hot. Brown both sides of each quesadilla stack in skillet until golden brown. Cut each into 4 wedges to serve.

Prep Time: 20 Minutes

Total Time: 20 minutes

Servings: 5

What inspiring meal do you like to create?

This post was written by James Puisis on behalf of ConAgra Foods. For other ConAgra  sites visit Ready Set Eat, Orville Redenbacher, Lightlife, and more.

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