Posting the Red Beans and Rice, I realized that I am "assuming" (and we all know THAT little saying) things that might just not be obvious.
City Girl and I cook for fun, entertainment and to satisfy one of the original seven sins. And in our world recipes are...guidelines. They are NOT cast-in-stone directions but maps, and you just feel perfectly free to find your own way.
I LOVE frozen seasoning blend. This is chopped onion, bell pepper and celery, sold in bags in the frozen vegetables section. I REALLY love frozen seasoning blend. One, things sit around here and get lost and then when I need them, I can't find them. Or two, things sit around here and get lost and when I find them they have...morphed. Into moldy, moving things. FSB can be counted on to be sitting there, in the freezer, fresh and tasty and ALREADY CUT UP. There's a lot to be said for that. Having made that statement...if the stuff is here and I have the time, I'll chop and dice. (Reference the cast-in-stone thing.) I've wasted too much of my life waiting until things were "just right"...now I realize that if you can't chop fresh onions, prepackaged make the trip just as much fun.
I have an issue with recipes that unnecessarily call for portions of prepackaged foods. DON'T ask for 12 ounces of tomatoes if it's a 14-ounce can...that's just dumb. UNLESS that two ounces is REALLY going to make that much difference but...it usually won't. So if there's an item listed in a recipe and it doesn't work for you? Experiment. How wrong can you go? (Having said that I'm gonna tell you right off the bat...you can't substitute wax paper for parchment paper when you're baking bread. You can go REALLY wrong.)
All seasonings are to taste. When we make cheese straws for home, we use one tablespoon of cayenne. When we make them for public consumption? One teaspoon does it. Use YOUR judgement, YOUR taste and YOUR family's expectations. There's a lot of wiggle room out there.
Also, there are NO food snobs here. My favorite cheese is Explorateur and I have to drive to Birmingham to buy it, but my favorite afternoon snack is a bean burrito with no red sauce from Taco Bell. Eighty-nine cents and throw in a large, unsweetened tea and you eat for two-and-a-quarter. Can't beat that!