More Kitchen Nightmares

It tastes awful.

“Oh, doesn’t it smell wonderful?”

“It looks delicious!”

Then, you stick the spoon in and taste. You wonder what vile thing crawled into the pot and died. There is too much of something.

Enough is as good as a feast.

Those who cook with salt are quick to profess without it the dish would be awful. In some cases, this is true. There is definitely a line where too much of a good thing is outright awful. Making a dish too salty is across the line.

Water it Down

When the soup tastes like veggies in sea water, it is usually because too much water evaporated during the cooking process. Simply add more water or stock to the pot. Add in very small doses, stir and taste. Continue adding until the salt-to-liquid ratio is more palatable.

Suck it Up

You shook it too hard.

Is there plenty of liquid and the soup’s not done? Toss in some raw potato and add just a little more water. Potatoes will absorb the salt.

Is it already almost dinner time? Turn off the heat under the soup. Continued cooking will make it even saltier. Cut the potatoes into small pieces and quickly cook them. Add them to the soup to soak up the salt. You can leave them in if you like.

Need a substitute for potato? Use cooked noodles, rice or pasta to suck out the salt. Again, leaving them in is entirely up to you.

Veggies & Meat

If you got heavy-handed with the salt shaker, you can overcome the saltiness with a small sprinkling of sugar. Yes, sugar on meat. The sweet offsets the salt. Just keep the amount of sugar small enough it is not obvious. Brown sugar works best.

Try Tart

While not quite as effective as sugar to cut the salt, add a splash of lemon juice or vinegar to meats and vegetables you have over-salted. It give an edge to your dish so your taste buds focus on something besides the salt.

My tongue is on fire!

I need a fire extinguisher.

Did you mistakenly put three tablespoons of hot sauce in the dish instead of three teaspoons? There is such a thing as too hot. Some guests can barely handle hot while others have medical reasons they cannot have hot at all.

Have Some More!

No, no. Not more hot sauce. That is how we got in this mess. Add more of everything else. Over-spice the chili? Add more beans, beef broth, tomato sauce or meat. Is it five-alarm sauce? Add proportions of all other ingredients, just leave out the hot sauce.

Negative vs. Positive

Neutralize it.

Extinguish burning tongues with a neutralizing side dish. Serve it over unsalted rice, a bed of tortillas or plain pasta. Offer toppings like cheese and sour cream. These are the standbys for restaurants which serve spicy cuisine like Thai, Mexican and Indian. Use the tricks of the pros in your kitchen.

Honey, I burned the roast.

Meat is expensive. Tossing out a roast is heartbreaking. Just remember it is only black on one side, and it is dry.


To salvage a burnt roast, trim off the charred (black, crumbly) portion. Thinly slice the remaining dry meat from the interior of the roast. Layer the slices in a baking dish. Add equal parts beef broth and salsa or picante sauce.

In a sauce pan or skillet, stir together black or pinto beans and canned or frozen corn. Drop in some chopped onion to taste. Let stand for five to ten minutes. Warm on medium heat until it bubbles. Pour over meat in baking dish.

Cover the entire casserole with a hard, sharp cheese. Pop it into the oven until the cheese melts and is bubbly. Serve with warm, soft tortillas or corn/tortilla chips.

Pull It

Another way to moisten up burnt meat is to add sauce or gravy. Cut off the burnt part and shred the meat with your fingers or a fork. Stir the shredded meat into barbecue sauce, bottled gravy or handmade gravy made from flour and drippings from the roast (if there are any).Β 

Warm the dish on the stove top for about five minutes until it bubbles. Pour it over potatoes, pasta, Texas toast or biscuits.

Not Nearly Enough


If it is meatloaf or hamburger steaks, you are not hurting anyone’s feelings by handing them a bottle of steak sauce or (shudder) ketchup to change the flavor. Roast, veal, steak and pork demand something far better.

Sweet Chili

Mix equal parts apricot preserves and Hoisin sauce or chili sauce in a sauce pan. Stir on medium heat until the preserves are melted and blended with the sauce. Spread lightly over meat slices or serve on the side.

Sweet & Sour

You can make your own sweet and sour sauce with apricot preserves heated in the microwave until just melted. Blend in apple cider vinegar to taste.

Sweet Bites

Mix together Creole or Dijon mustard and deli horseradish with a dab of honey. Stir in shredded mint leaves to taste. You can substitute dried mint leaves, but use dried parsley as well.

The nightmares do not have to be budget-busting disasters. Just use a few secrets.


What is your secret rescue for too much and not enough?

(c) Ann Marie Dwyer 2012
Reblogging of this or any other post on Momma’s Money Matters is expressly forbidden.
Copyright and Privacy Policy available in The Office.Β 
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  1. I am now tempted to make my own sweet & sour sauce for my sugar-sprinkled chicken nuggets (note to self, go easy on the salt) πŸ™‚

    • Super easy. I may be posting some simple sauce recipes over the next weeks…provided the feedback is positive. You would like my from scratch (no fear…super easy and microwaveable) recipe. Uber-yummy, lower sugar content and you can thicken it to taste.

  2. I seem to be one of those “cooks” who continually adds a little of this and a little of that, always trying to find the taste but never actually finding it… thanks for the tips! A great post!

    • You need to stay tuned for some of my herb and spices posts (next couple weeks, liberally sprinkled amongst the others). You may pick up a tip or seven πŸ˜‰

  3. I never thought about adding sugar to meat – and yes it is heartbreaking when you burn it!!!

    • Most people never do. But if you think about it, it makes sense. Most of the sauces we add to meat are either sweet or tangy!

  4. Mmmm… πŸ˜›

    As a bachelor I cook simple meals, but add spices to make them interesting.

    Since I’ve been on my diet I have run out of just about everything, so the last lot of peppered steaks had a rich dusting of black pepper – delicious! πŸ˜›

    Love and hugs!


    • You are another one, Pren, who may well benefit from some of the simple sauce recipes I am going to share. They do not require a full pantry of staples and make a one-star meal into at least a three-star entree πŸ˜‰


  5. If I make too much, I’ll just eat more.

    • That happens here as well. You would be thoroughly amazed how much 80-pound children can pack away. U.T.T.E.R.L.Y. A.M.A.Z.E.D.

  6. i once added cocoa powder to cornbeef stew instead of gravy powder but still gave the girls it felt so guilty lol had to tell them while they were enjoying it as soon as i told them they stopped eating it they never let me forget lol xxjen

    • Oh, my!!! Amazing how much some people will never notice! That is amazing. LOL! Glad to see you tonight, Jen! Red. xxx

  7. A long time ago whilst making coffees at a friends home I mistakedly added salt instead of sugar, and the worst part about this mishap was, that my friend used to take three large spoonfulls of sugar in his coffee…

    as you can imagine, his face was a picture as he took a rather large gulp of his coffee, the poor lad almost choked… Nooooooooo I didn’t laugh… Much πŸ˜‰ lol Served him right for not labelling the jars, mind you in hindsight that sugar was very fine…

    Have a lovely rest of evening Red and thank you for a brilliant posting, well all your postings are excellent so I am never surprised πŸ™‚

    Androgoth XXx

    • Oh, that is rich! No wonder I keep the salt in the cupboard! I hope you enjoy Friday Follies tonight! Have a grand night! Red.

  8. Friday Follies…
    when does that start exactly?
    I was just about to leave for a
    cup of coffee, without the salt πŸ™‚

    I will wait a little longer…

    Androgoth XXx

    • Already live…an hour now πŸ˜‰

      • Ahhh well this is what happens when one backtracks without first engaging one’s brain… I will have to speak to egor about that one πŸ™‚ lol

        Be Good Now or Else? πŸ˜‰

        Androgoth XXx

  9. I made a Fillipino beef stir fry once that called for sugar in the marinade: cornstarch, soy sauce and white sugar. It was lovely. It had that something you couldn’t put your finger on.

    • That is a fantastic example of balancing salt with sugar. Soy sauce is so very salty and the sugar helps keep it from leeching all of the taste from the meat. I have a few marinades I use which are a balance of either very salty or very hot and sweet. I love Polynesian food.


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