It's ironic that I collect recipe books but never follow a recipe. They are my inspiration. I read them while watching tv, or in a waiting room, and think..hmmm..that sounds good but how about..and I go into the kitchen and create.
You can swap things in the recipe, substituting say something as simple as banana for pumpkin, or you can add something totally new to it, like cinnamon to spaghetti sauce (my grandmother always did this, cinnamon is so healthy as is tomato sauce, double antioxidants). If you see a recipe and think, ew, I don't like that, sub something else in it. Some people hate beans. You can make a super delicious chili without beans (I love beans personally). Play around, add chicken and beef or sausage to it..make it with what you like.
One thing I also almost never do is measure (unless I am baking, since baking is a science). Anything else, just gets judged and thrown in, and if I love it, more of that ingredient gets thrown in.
A recipe is merely words on paper; a guideline, a starting point from which to improvise. It cannot pretend to replace the practiced hand and telling glance of a watchful cook. For that reason feel free to stir your own ideas into this dish. When you cook it once, it becomes yours, so personalize it a bit. Add more of an ingredient you like or less of something you don’t like. Try substituting one ingredient for another. Remember words have no flavour, you have to add your own!
Words of Michael Smith of Chef at Home on Food TV Canada
(it used to be on here in America and I miss it dearly so I go on his site for ideas all of the time. I also have his cookbooks, not so much recipe books, because I am very much like him, I do not follow recipes, whatever I cook, I make my own)
On that note: here is a recipe from Michael Smith's website, see if you can make it your own.
1 cup of sugar
1 cup of water
1 x whole granny smith apple, un-cored and thinly sliced into rounds.
Bring sugar and water to a boil, without stirring. Once sugar has dissolved, simmer for 5 minutes. Let cool.
Soak apple slices in the cooled simple syrup for a minimum of 20 minutes or overnight. Preheat oven to 300° F.
Drain apples and place on a non-stick baking sheet. Bake until golden and crispy.
Here is his website if you want more info on him, his show or his "cookbooks" if you can call them that, they are great reads, don't get me wrong...and he does give measurements but will you follow them? That's totally up to you.