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Loaded Potato Soup I

Reviewed: Mar. 31, 2015
Tried this the first time per the recipe, even though I had some reservations about it (which turned out to be justified), and it was only okay. The second time I made it, I revised it and it was a hit. To begin with, don't substitute margarine or oil for butter. Butter and milk mix well together, but margarine/oil doesn't. DO NOT boil/microwave the potatoes. A loaded potato at a steakhouse is never going to be microwaved. EVER! Double the cheddar, and stir it in BEFORE you stir in the potatoes and onion. Save the sour cream for absolute last. Stir that in and only heat through, don't boil. It's not going to curdle if the soup is really hot. Has it ever curdled in your piping hot baked potato? Of course not! It's just that if it's cooked for a length of time, it will be strange. Add crumbled cooked bacon and some extra cheese on top when serving, along with some chopped chives. That adds a tremendous flavor to it. Finally, when we have baked potatoes earlier in the week for dinner, I simply make extra potatoes (I buy them by the bag and invariably there are a bunch of small ones, those are my soup potatoes), wrap them up and put them in the refrigerator until soup day. A cold baked potatoes is super easy to cube and the flavor is still fresh once it's heated in the soup. Just throw them in cold and heat the soup as directed. Trust me, this is the way to go. Happy Eating!
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Photo by MagnoliaSouth

Cooking Level: Expert

Home Town: Atlanta, Georgia, USA
Living In: Mobile, Alabama, USA
Photo by Rock_lobster

Zucchini Tots

Reviewed: Mar. 30, 2015
Zucchini Tots Haiku: "So here is the thing. These were just adorable, like their namesake 'tot.'" My daughter and husband perked up at hearing "Tots!" w/ dinner, and I thought these wouldn't disappoint, as whether it's shredded potato or shredded zucchini, we love both smooshed, baked and/or fried in any shape. But these were just too heavily seasoned w/ too many unnecessary spices and herbs. I'm just realizing now that I used parmesan cheese instead of cheddar too, and maybe I'm glad for that since all of the flavors seem to jive in a more Italian style than cheddar-ey. The texture was more soft and quiche-like, even though I baked them closer to 30 min., so if I was to make a similar recipe, I would drastically simplify the spices and herbs, possibly increase the bread crumbs, and bake a little longer. But they were cute, and maybe would've been better suited as a quick hors d'oeuvres bite, rather than a full side dish.
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Photo by Rock_lobster

Cooking Level: Intermediate

Home Town: Atlanta, Georgia, USA
Living In: Braselton, Georgia, USA
Photo by Rock_lobster

Cajun Cabbage Soup

Reviewed: Mar. 30, 2015
Cajun Cabbage Soup Haiku: "Perfect spice for me, daughter said, 'eek! It's too hot!' Didn't like ketchup." I increased the onions, not having any leeks, and kept everything else the same, other than browning the slices of smoked sausage after the carrot step and b4 adding the cabbage as we like our sausage crispy around the edges. (I wish I'd used a full pound, b/c even slicing a 1/2 lb. thin, as the recipe indicates, didn't provide enough of a meat-to-veggie-bite ratio.) I found it to be both too sweet (from the ketchup), and too salty (from the Tony C. seasoning and the 4 bouillon cubes), and my daughter found it too spicy, and well, nobody requested the leftovers the next day, which is unfortunate b/c I thought it was pretty good, so I'm sad to say that this recipe probably won't be a repeat around here.
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Photo by Rock_lobster

Cooking Level: Intermediate

Home Town: Atlanta, Georgia, USA
Living In: Braselton, Georgia, USA
Photo by Rock_lobster

Crispy Oven Beef-and-Bean Tostadas

Reviewed: Mar. 30, 2015
Crispy Oven Beef & Bean Tostadas Haiku: "Well, I liked the beans, but they were just from a can. Could be simplified." I followed the recipe submitter's notes for "if you like your ground beef a bit more spicy", and truthfully, found that all of the seasoning didn't do a whole lot for us, and that we had to add alot of salsa and hot sauce (along w/ typical garnishes of lettuce, tomatoes, and cheese) for more flavor. I think AR's Bill Echol's taco seasoning blend, or a traditional packet would've been much more flavorful. Tostadas were just fine, but to me, they're just the vessel for getting food from plate to my mouth, and I would've been OK w/ a box of taco shells. I will say that I've never schmeared refried beans on b4 adding taco meat, so that was the most positive aspect that I will take (and recreate) from this recipe; yummy layer of refried beans squishing under the weight of the other ingredients was super, thanks! :-)
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Photo by Rock_lobster

Cooking Level: Intermediate

Home Town: Atlanta, Georgia, USA
Living In: Braselton, Georgia, USA
Photo by Rock_lobster

Easy Roasted Potatoes

Reviewed: Mar. 30, 2015
Easy Roasted Potatoes Haiku: "The dill surprised me! Wouldn't have thought to use it. These were pretty good!" I usually roast my red potatoes w/ rosemary, thyme, or just a couple good grinds of s&p, but the addition of dill weed here (which I was leery of it), turned out tastier than I expected! The directions and timing were just fine; I didn't change anything other than to scale back for 3 servings, and stir/flip the potato chunks a few times at the 20 and 30 min. mark to ensure more even nummy browning.
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Photo by Rock_lobster

Cooking Level: Intermediate

Home Town: Atlanta, Georgia, USA
Living In: Braselton, Georgia, USA
Photo by Rock_lobster

Sesame Seed Baked Tofu

Reviewed: Mar. 30, 2015
Sesame Seed Baked Tofu Haiku: "Had to drain tofu. Or it would've been too wet. End taste was just fine." I marinated my tofu (that I'd weighted b/t paper-towel lined plates and a cast-iron skillet) in its 6 slices overnight, but I wish that I'd cut them into cubes so that they could've absorbed more flavor, and also had more surface area for baking. At 30 min., the texture of said 6 slices just wasn't what I was after, i.e. a little on the crispier side, which I know isn't the easiest to accomplish w/ tofu, and probably even more difficult if you don't drain the liquid from it 1st, which this recipe neglects to mention doing. But in the end, despite it not being more crispy, the flavor was quite nice, and I served it w/ basmati rice and steamed broccoli for a light dinner.
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Photo by Rock_lobster

Cooking Level: Intermediate

Home Town: Atlanta, Georgia, USA
Living In: Braselton, Georgia, USA

Amish Breakfast Casserole

Reviewed: Mar. 27, 2015
I've used this recipe for about 6 years now and it's ALWAYS a hit. My hubby likes me to serve it with white gravy. It also reheats well.
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Photo by Dawn

Cooking Level: Expert

Living In: Atlanta, Georgia, USA

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Perfect Ten Baked Cod

Reviewed: Mar. 25, 2015
I used COBIA instead of Cod. It was one of the best fish dishes I've ever eaten and fish is my favorite amongst all the meat proteins. I had never eaten COBIA before and, though it smelt a bit strong, this recipe was amazing and perfect as directed in the recipe. Enjoy with any hearty fish! QUEANIE
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Photo by Queanie

Cooking Level: Expert

Living In: Atlanta, Georgia, USA
Photo by Rock_lobster

Fabulous Feast

Reviewed: Mar. 24, 2015
Fabulous Feast Haiku: "Not so fabulous. Really needs WAY more Old Bay. But we still liked it." This recipe goes by several different names, the one I'm most familiar w/ is Low Country Boil, where you dump the pot out onto a newspaper-covered table and just attack it w/ a crowd. I made this version exactly as written, only we ladled some of the juice into our bowls for dragging hunks of crusty bread through. We did find to our disappointment that it was really low on the flavor spectrum, and that 1 1/2 pinches (pinches!) of salt and 2 tsp. of Old Bay weren't nearly enough for all of that water and ingredients. So we had to add Texas Pete and more salt at the table. It's a recipe that I always enjoy eating, and it would've been perfect if it just hadn't required additional seasoning and sauces at serving.
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Photo by Rock_lobster

Cooking Level: Intermediate

Home Town: Atlanta, Georgia, USA
Living In: Braselton, Georgia, USA

World's Best Honey Garlic Pork Chops

Reviewed: Mar. 23, 2015
These were very tasty. Will be making these a lot, thank u
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Photo by jimnan
Home Town: Atlanta, Georgia, USA
Living In: Denver, Colorado, USA

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Easy Creamy Rice Pudding

Reviewed: Mar. 23, 2015
I only had cocnut milk and sushi rice, but it is hrad not to make this come out right!!! Simply delicious!!!!!
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Photo by Allrecipes

Cooking Level: Expert

Home Town: Montreal, Quebec, Canada
Living In: Atlanta, Georgia, USA

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Summer Garden Crustless Quiche

Reviewed: Mar. 23, 2015
Summer Garden Crustless Quiche Haiku: "Took longer to bake. Only made two small changes, leftovers better!" Mine was more like 70 min. to not be wet in the middle, so we were hungry and had burnt our toast in anticipation of eating the quiche on top of it, so that was a bummer, but the end result was really quite wonderful! Used half the cheese, and 3 tsp. dried parsley instead of fresh. (Would've preferred fresh if I'd had it!) I never thought to use carrots in a quiche, and I usually go w/ spinach as my green, but the entire combo of veggies here w/ the kale was awesome! The leftovers were better in my opinion as it had a chance to set more and then cut into prettier slices.
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Photo by Rock_lobster

Cooking Level: Intermediate

Home Town: Atlanta, Georgia, USA
Living In: Braselton, Georgia, USA
Photo by Rock_lobster

Roasted Parmesan-Garlic Carrots

Reviewed: Mar. 23, 2015
Roasted Parmesan Garlic Carrots Haiku: "Doesn't say what size. So I cut mine into 'rounds', maybe half an inch?" Recipe doesn't specify how to cut carrots, just "peeled", so I went w/ bite-sized, which I guess turned out fine, b/c in 45 min., plus the 10 min. after the parmesan went on top, these were soft, delicious and slightly charred in places.; the perfect amount of sweet/salty/cheesy. What little leftovers there were, I ran thru the food-processor for my baby and she loved them too! Nice, easy recipe that I had in the oven alongside some quartered rosemary red potatoes, so everything timed well as sides.
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Photo by Rock_lobster

Cooking Level: Intermediate

Home Town: Atlanta, Georgia, USA
Living In: Braselton, Georgia, USA
Photo by Rock_lobster

Easy Baked Tilapia

Reviewed: Mar. 23, 2015
Easy Baked Tilapia Haiku: "Believe the reviews. This IS easy and five stars. Really surprised us!" I've never seen a frozen blend of brocc/cauliflower w/ red pepper, so I used a fresh produce bag of the two said veggies, and added a handful of chopped red bell pepper ("Looks like Christmas!" according to my daughter.) Didn't change a thing other than squeezing on lemon juice rather than laying on the slices, and uncovering the pan at 20 min. to add another squeeze, along w/ a couple more sprinkles of Old Bay. I seriously didn't have high hopes for the vegetables - I thought they'd be bland mush, but at this time and temperature w/ just the little bit of seasoning, they were devoured w/ as much delight as the Main Event, and yes, the fish was just as good too!
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Photo by Rock_lobster

Cooking Level: Intermediate

Home Town: Atlanta, Georgia, USA
Living In: Braselton, Georgia, USA
Photo by Rock_lobster

Mexican Shepherd's Pie

Reviewed: Mar. 23, 2015
Mexican Shepherd's Pie Haiku: "This was pretty bland. Even served with 'stuff' on the side. Cornbread needed jazz." We had to serve ours w/ shredded lettuce, salsa, grated Mexican-blend cheese, and tomatoes to enjoy this b/c it was fairly bland. I made it as directed except only used 1 lb. of ground beef, which I found was more than enough for a 9X13 pan. As other reviews have mentioned, one cornbread mix doesn't quite cover the surface, but I only had one, so I transferred half of the taco meat mixture to a round pie-dish, bagged and froze the rest for another random taco dinner night, then proceeded w/ just the one packet of cornbread mix on top. Upon serving it (schlooop! It squishes and doesn't quite come out in any wedge that would resemble pie) we realized that the cornbread was just so ... boring. If I were to make this again, I'd add cheese and jalapenos and additional spices to the cornbread mix, and if using 9X13, double the cornbread top, or I don't know, omit it altogether and use crushed tortilla chips instead, and maybe add a layer of refried beans ... OK, now we're getting into "new recipe" territory.
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Photo by Rock_lobster

Cooking Level: Intermediate

Home Town: Atlanta, Georgia, USA
Living In: Braselton, Georgia, USA
Photo by Rock_lobster

Garlic Kale Quinoa

Reviewed: Mar. 23, 2015
Garlic Kale Quinoa Haiku: "A divine side dish! Just needs more than one cup kale, cuz it shrinks so much." I never thought that I'd dive into a side dish w/ as much glee as I did this one, but WOW. I'd recently (finally) finished off a monster amount of Costco's frozen bags of quinoa/kale blend, and didn't want to stuff more of them in my freezer and found this recipe instead. And I am thrilled that I did b/c it is delicious! I've since made it 3 more times, once subbing spinach for kale (just as good), once adding toasted sesame seeds (not necessary, but a nice touch), and all the more recent times, at least doubling the greens b/c they shrink down too much in the heat and we love green chow in our house. A superb, healthy side dish, and ohhhh when I run it through the food-processor a few times, my baby CHOWS DOWN! :-)
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Photo by Rock_lobster

Cooking Level: Intermediate

Home Town: Atlanta, Georgia, USA
Living In: Braselton, Georgia, USA
Photo by Rock_lobster

Deep Dish Cookie in a Mug

Reviewed: Mar. 23, 2015
Deep Dish Cookie in a Mug Haiku: "Five stars from daughter, cute and easy recipe, just a tad bit flawed." I thought the texture was much more like cake-in-a-mug, but the taste was pretty good, and it wasn't as messy as I expected (I thought it would stick to the mug and never come out.) However, the dough was too crumbly and dry, so I had to add a couple splashes of milk; actually dumped the dough out of the mug into a larger bowl to ensure it was all properly combined and not still so dry, thereby defeating the simplicity of just preparing in the one mug. Also, I know that microwave powers can vary considerably, but I had to zap mine for more like 2 min. to not have it look so wet and raw. It popped out of the mug w/ a spoon (and had to be eaten w/ said spoon) and daughter loved it and wants to make it again; me, not so much. Fun to experiment in the kitchen w/ her, and like it said, it tasted like a chocolate chip (oops, I used mini choc chips) cookie, so thanks for sharing your recipe! :-)
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Photo by Rock_lobster

Cooking Level: Intermediate

Home Town: Atlanta, Georgia, USA
Living In: Braselton, Georgia, USA
Photo by Rock_lobster

Chicken in a Pot

Reviewed: Mar. 21, 2015
Chicken in a Pot Haiku: "Taste was very 'yawn', I guess it needed more sauce, or double spices." We pleasantly ate this dish but weren't so blown away that I'd go to the trouble to make it again, only b/c there didn't seem to be enough sauce, and the chicken itself was pretty bland, having only been pressed into plain breadcrumbs. In all honesty, the mushrooms were my favorite part; thanks for sharing your recipe though! :-)
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Photo by Rock_lobster

Cooking Level: Intermediate

Home Town: Atlanta, Georgia, USA
Living In: Braselton, Georgia, USA
Photo by Rock_lobster

Stir-Fried Sesame Asparagus

Reviewed: Mar. 21, 2015
Stir-fried Sesame Asparagus Haiku: "This was just okay. Would rather roasted or grilled. Still, we're glad we tried!" Thanks for the new way to prepare asparagus as a side dish; the ginger and sesame seeds were nice additions (used only sesame oil - no peanut oil - and that was my only small change. For a side, we prefer grilling or roasting our asparagus; however, the flavors in this recipe would've been very good w/ the addition of chicken, onions and other veggies for an all-out stir-fry main dish.
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Photo by Rock_lobster

Cooking Level: Intermediate

Home Town: Atlanta, Georgia, USA
Living In: Braselton, Georgia, USA
Photo by Rock_lobster

Chocolate Chocolate Chip Cookies I

Reviewed: Mar. 21, 2015
Chocolate Chocolate Chip Cookie Haiku: "Why rated so high? Yes, my review is pointless, but still writing it." Over 2000 reviews and so many of them are 5-stars, I couldn't imagine that this cookie would disappoint ... but it did. It was like eating cake; I didn't flatten my dough balls and they just poofed up and stayed there. Storing them in a glass cookie jar left sticky moisture residue on the inside which grossed me out, making me think they should've been refrigerated. 2 cups of chocolate chips is WAY too much on top of 1.5 c. of sugar and my head was dizzy after eating one, and I'd even reduced the chocolate chips to maybe 3/4 c., if that. My daughter liked them, comparing them to a brownie, but if I want a brownie, I want that crackled top and crispy corner, not an overly-sweet poofy cookie hybrid thing.
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Photo by Rock_lobster

Cooking Level: Intermediate

Home Town: Atlanta, Georgia, USA
Living In: Braselton, Georgia, USA

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