When you are cooking a recipe for the first time it is always a wise thing to follow it to the letter so you are sure that the outcome is close to what the original chef intended it to be. But after cooking it a few times and when you are getting comfortable with it you can change a few things around if you feel like it. Don’t think that you are doing something wrong by not sticking to the recipe, there are always certain things in a recipe that is not exactly to you taste so your are allowed to change them a bit. Maybe a little less of this and a bit more of that, just so it is more up to your own taste.
Being flexible is sometimes necessary
It could also be that you just can not afford to get some of the ingredients because they are very expensive. Maybe the stores are closed and you forgot to get a certain part of the recipe. And while these things sometimes happen you start to improvise with the recipes you make and before you know it you are freewheeling it.
There are a few things you should keep in mind when you change a recipe, only change ingredients that are not crucial to the dish. Those items you can leave out of your variation or you could put something else in it’s place you could even ad an ingredient in top of the others. The thing to remember is not to get rid of an important item, as an example, if you are making meatloaf you can not leave out the minced (or ground) meat can you? You can ad new spices to enrich the meatloaf recipe or make it more to your own taste.
Talking of changing a recipe, I’m a vegetarian.
Another good reason for changing a recipe if of course when your specific diet calls for it. Maybe you are, or someone who is coming to dinner is, a vegetarian then you could be thinking of starting to learn completely new recipes. You could also start with using the existing ones you know and substitute certain items with non animal ones.
In recipes with sauces that are tomato based or things like stir-fries you could use tempeh or extra firm tofu. If the dinner is with people who are vegan then you could use some soft tofu when you need something to substitute cream cheeses. If the recipe calls for milk then there are soy milk or rice milk that you can use. And when you need to replace meat in chili or soup recipes you can use a wide variety of beans.
So you see there are many reasons to divert from the original recipe, and you shouldn’t worry to much about it. Sometime you just need to go with what your instinct tells you to do. There is no cooking police that will throw you in jail when you give a meal some personal touch, the worst thing that can happen is that your family tells you to never do that again.