For Cape Coral resident Tiffany Bannworth, cooking means starting from scratch with whatever is on hand and mixing it up with unusual pairings.
"I don't like box food - I don't like pan food," the wife and mother of six children said Tuesday. "I hate the same old stuff over and over again."
So, Bannworth makes meals interesting by doing it her own way.
"I feel like you have so much freedom when you start from scratch," she said, adding that she likes to add "surprising elements" to her recipes.
Bannworth is one of nearly 300 Cape residents who share their dishes through the recipe and coupon social network Just a Pinch Recipes. It offers access to about 130,000 user-posted recipes, with free memberships.
She was recently awarded blue ribbons from Just a Pinch for three of her recipes: Strawberry Oatmeal "Ice Cream," baby food for children 8 months or older, Navy Bean Sweet Bread and Spiced Pumpkin Rum Coffee Creamer.
Strawberry Oatmeal "Ice Cream" (8 months or older)
2 cups spring water
1/2 cup Irish oatmeal or Scottish porridge (not quick cook)
1 dash cinnamon
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
1 teaspoon dark brown sugar (optional)
1/2 cup vanilla yogurt, whole milk (Stonyfield YoBaby) optional
1 package frozen strawberries (or any frozen fruit)
In a saucepan (preferably cast iron), mix water, oats, vanilla, cinnamon and brown sugar. Cook on medium heat until oats are soft.
Place in a glass bowl in refrigerator until cool. Should also almost become gummy.
Place chilled oatmeal, yogurt and frozen strawberries in blender. Serve in bowl. Place leftover in freezer.
"I was real excited," Bannworth said of receiving the blue ribbons. "I had been hoping to get one of these for quite some time.
"I don't know how it turned into this," she added. "As first, I was just cooking for my family."
Only about 2 percent of the posted recipes receive a blue ribbon.
"It's because of people like Tiffany Bannworth, who is proud to share her family's favorite recipes with other home cooks, that the club has become so popular and is growing so fast," Janet Tharpe, of Just a Pinch, stated.
A member of the site since 2011, Bannworth has posted about 200 of her own recipes. She joined at the urging of friends who wanted her dishes.
"I always cooked a lot. This has a way for me to get it all down," she said.
With a background half-French and half-Italian, Bannworth explained that her grandmother came from Italy and was a "big cook of traditional food."
"I've always known how meatball or pasta was made from scratch," she said.
Bannworth has a garden and grows many of her own vegetables, fruits and edible flowers. She buys staples, like flour, grain and rice, from the store.
"I like to make my bread, instead of buying bread," she said, adding that her family is trying to make its own cheese. "I make my own butter now."
As far as coming up with recipes, Bannworth uses what she has.
"I literally cook with what's in the kitchen at the time. It's just whatever I throw together," she said. "I cook by smell, and I taste it constantly."
For the Strawberry Oatmeal "Ice Cream," Bannworth was aiming to exclude milk from the ingredients and goopy oatmeal had the right consistency.
"The baby ice cream has no milk in it," she said.
Navy Bean Sweet Bread is a twist on the typical, like a banana nut bread.
"They (Just a Pinch Recipes) were surprised that those flavors come together for a sweet bread," Bannworth said.
While some of her recipes are complex and time consuming, Bannworth explained that many are easy and just require good base ingredients.
"A lot of them are just chopping your vegetables and putting them in the slow cooker all day," she said. "A lot of it's not hassle."
An easy one that her children like: Pork with Beets and Raspberries.
Some of the favorites among her friends include Sweet Potato Cobbler with Orange Ginger Bread, Old-Fashioned Whiskey Pineapple Pie, Baked Brie and Gouda Apricot Pork and Sweet Cream Cauliflower Soup with Smoked Gruyere.
All of the recipes can be found online at: www.justapinch.com.
At the end of each year, Just a Pinch Recipes publishes a cookbook that includes all the blue ribbon recipes for the year. The site also enables users to gather a collection of their own recipes and put them into a cookbook.
"It's actually a bound book that they ship to you," Bannworth said.
Anyone can buy the user-created cookbooks from the site.
Bannworth has two cookbooks available and is working on her third.
"I would love to sell my own cookbook," she said.
Users do not receive any portion of the sales of their books.
Bannworth is a stay-at-home mother who also does marketing out of her home. She is married and her children range from 3 months to 10 years old.
On Just a Pinch Recipes, users can post recipes, use a menu planner and grocery list, print coupons, enter contests and join discussion groups.
For more information, visit the site online at: www.justapinch.com.