Meal Planning Monday ~ Kitchen 911

This week’s post is by Christine Luken.

Cooking and Meal Planning is more art than science.  That being said, sometimes a meal is a masterpiece and other times a dish is best hidden at the bottom of the garbage can!  If you’ve been cooking for any length of time, you’ve probably experienced a few culinary disasters.  I know I have!  Whether it’s a forgotten ingredient, a misread recipe, an over – or under – cooked dish, or just a bad recipe, sometimes we all need “emergency assistance” in the kitchen.  Today I’m going to talk about different levels and types of cooking issues and give you a little “Kitchen 911” to help you fix or avoid those issues in the future.

Level One Kitchen Emergencies ~ Level One Kitchen Emergencies aren’t really emergencies, but more like annoyances or inconveniences.  Don’t get me wrong, they can still stress you out!  My most common Level One Emergency is thinking that I have an ingredient on hand for a recipe, and then I discover that something is missing in the midst of my mixing and measuring.  Thank God for Google!  I usually whip open my iPad and Google “substitute for buttermilk (or whatever) in recipe” and some article with the answer pops up.  I found this great chart from that I keep with my cookbooks because it has a comprehensive list of substitute ingredients.  Another common kitchen annoyance is realizing that extra folks are coming for dinner and you may not have enough food to go around.  If you’re making a dish with ground beef or turkey, consider adding a cup or two of rice or beans to stretch your meat.  You could also add shredded veggies like carrots or zucchini to stretch a pasta dish or casserole.  Usually with a bit of creativity and effort, Level One Kitchen Emergencies are pretty easy to resolve.  This past Christmas Eve, I was preparing to bake my much anticipated Rum Cake for Christmas Day dinner.  To my dismay, I realized there was no yellow cake mix among the dozen or so boxes of Betty Crocker in my stockpile.  So I grabbed a dark chocolate cake mix and a bag of chocolate chips and consulted my cookbooks and the internet.  The result?  A Chocolate Rum Cake that my family deemed superior to the previous version.  My “happy accident” of a recipe is below.


Level Two Kitchen Emergencies ~ Level Two Kitchen Emergencies cause panic: burnt cakes, too-salty soup, lumpy gravy, super spicy chili, etc.  Google to the rescue again!  Chances are, someone else has already encountered your problem and posted a blog about it.  This article covers many of the common fixes you might be looking for.  Usually with Level Two Kitchen Emergencies, your dish or recipe is salvageable.  Maybe you saw something awesome on Pinterest but your result doesn’t quite look like the original picture.  Again, you’re in good company: check out some hilarious Pinterest food fails here.  I remember making this four layer cake with a berry crème filling in between the layers… It looked more like the Leaning Tower of Pisa!  So, before it completely fell over, I scooped it into a trifle bowl and called it my Berry Dump Cake.  Problem solved! ;)

Level Three Kitchen Emergencies ~ Most Level Three Kitchen Emergencies can’t be recovered from, unfortunately.  The roast is burnt to a crisp, one of your key ingredients is spoiled, a dish is just plain inedible, or God forbid – you set the kitchen on fire.  Don’t panic!  Just grab the fire extinguisher if you need it, toss the disaster in the trash, and call for pizza delivery.  Most importantly, don’t beat yourself up because kitchen disasters happen to the best of us!  None of us succeed 100% of the time in the kitchen.  And hopefully you won’t have to really call 911!

 Do you have a memorable culinary catastrophe to share?


Here is my Meal Plan for this week:

Monday ~ Homemade vegetable soup with hot turkey, cheddar, and pesto sandwiches.

Tuesday ~ I’m going out to my favorite Chinese restaurant (Oriental Wok) with my friend, Heather.  I’ll probably get my favorite dish: Black Bean Chicken with Asparagus.

Wednesday ~ I’ll be trying a new recipe called “World’s Best Chicken.”  I’ll let you know if it lives up to its name!

Thursday ~ Beef Stew in the Crock Pot.  I’ve been using steak seasoning in my stew instead of the usual pepper, salt, and paprika.  Hubby approved!

Friday ~ Turkey Meatloaf with parmesan potatoes and green beans.

Saturday ~ Polish sausage, potato and cheddar pierogies, and broccoli.

Sunday ~ Ginger Glazed Mahi Mahi with rice and snow peas.


Chocolate Rum Cake   (Based on a recipe from The Cake Mix Doctor Cookbook)


  • Cooking spray
  • 1 package dark chocolate cake mix
  • 1 package (3.9 oz.) chocolate instant pudding mix
  • ¾ cup water
  • ½ cup Captain Morgan’s Spiced Rum
  • ½ vegetable (or coconut) oil
  • 4 large eggs
  • 1 cup semi-sweet (or dark) chocolate chips


Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Mist a 12-cup Bundt pan with cooking spray.  In a large bowl, place all ingredients except the chocolate chips.  Blend on low with mixer for one minute.  Scrape down the sides and beat with mixer for 2 – 3 minutes until batter is smooth.  Stir in the chocolate chips.  Bake 50 – 55 minutes until the cake springs back lightly when touched.  Let cool for at least 20 minutes.  Run a long knife around the edge of the cake and invert onto a serving platter.  Top with the Butter Rum glaze, if desired.

Butter Rum Glaze (optional…but highly recommended!)


  • ½ stick of butter
  • 2 Tbs. water
  • ½ cup sugar
  • ¼ cup Captain Morgan’s Spiced Rum


Place butter in a small saucepan and melt over low heat, about 2 – 3 minutes.  Add water and sugar, stirring well.  Increase the heat to medium and bring to a boil.  Reduce heat and let simmer 4 – 5 minutes until thickened, stirring constantly.  Remove pan from the heat and stir in the rum.  Spoon the glaze over the warm cake allowing it to drizzle down the sides and into the center.  Allow cake to completely cool before slicing.