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Apricot Brown Sugar Ham

Reviewed: Dec. 28, 2010
I did not follow the recipe even remotely exactly. I used blackberry preserves instead of apricot jam, no brown sugar, brown mustard instead of mustard powder, and cooked it in the crock pot on low. It came out wonderfully - falling-apart, juicy, tangy, and it was so easy to pull the bone out. The sauce made a wonderful gravy, perfect for mashed potatoes or for dipping fresh toast strips. Big hit with the kids, too! This recipe might be perfect as written, but it's perfect if you take great liberties as well. I think I will be buying up a number of hams while they are cheap post-Christmas and making this part of our normal meal rotation!
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10 users found this review helpful

Raisin Crunch Cookie Mix in a Jar

Reviewed: Dec. 11, 2010
I packed the jar, then baked it immediately to test for gift-worthiness. The fit in the jar is (as mentioned) *very* tight. I added 2 Tbs. powedered eggs, and had about 1.5 Tbs flour mix left over - so about 1/2 Tbs of wiggle room. I made some tweaks: The aforementioned powdered eggs, from Honeyville Grain, to cut the amount of stuff people need to add later. Dried cranberries instead of raisins, both for more seasonal flavor and because I don't like raisins. I cut the brown sugar by 1/4 cup, but added a few extra cranberries. I replaced the butter with grapeseed oil because I'm a very sensitive lactose-intolerant, and added 1/3rd cup of water at the end to reconstitute the egg powder and because the dough seemed dry. Conclusion: These were amazing! I'm glad I cut the brown sugar - it was just the right amount of sweetness. The oil definitely had a lot to do with why these came out so good. I bet it could be cut and a little water added and still make a good cookie, but I won't bother to try it. They might only be a 4-star cookie if not in a jar, since I am conservative in my ratings and my family liked these cookies but didn't rave about them for hours; but because the quantities were sized for gift-giving right off the bat, I am giving this a definite 5-star. A big thank you to the author of this recipe for making this part of my holiday gift-giving easy to work out!
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5 users found this review helpful

Oatmeal Whole Wheat Quick Bread

Reviewed: Oct. 25, 2010
I've done this both with and without grinding the oats, and while it does hold together better after grinding, it was still good without grinding. Since I don't have whole-wheat flour, I used all-purpose. Extra flour seems to be needed to hold the bread together with all-purpose, as I couldn't form the dough into a ball without it. I like to use partly-crystallized honey for this recipe, and triple the honey for a sweeter bread (this could have added to my goopy dough). The solid crystals of honey melt in the oven and create "sweet spots" in the bread. The effect is subtle, but pleasant. Since trying this recipe and learning how wonderful quick breads can be, I've started experimenting with other recipes as well. While there is something different about yeast breads, I find the quick breads so much easier and just as enjoyable in their own way. I might start keeping a tub of pre-ground oatmeal on hand just for this recipe.
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2 users found this review helpful

Beer Bread I

Reviewed: Oct. 25, 2010
Very easy, flexible recipe. 5 ingredients if you don't have self-rising flour on hand. I was in a hurry, and didn't even measure the salt, baking powder, or sugar (just eye-balled them) as I couldn't find the measuring spoons - still turned out fine. I added a couple sprigs of rosemary, chopped, and DH said he liked the subtle rosemary taste. DH also said, however, that the bread was "nothing special", and he couldn't taste the beer. Personally, I found the beer flavor very strong, and had trouble eating this bread plain - but it would be lovely with a soup or curry. Our 4-year-old twins liked the bread just fine. I don't have beer around often, so probably won't make this recipe that often. I like "Honey Oatmeal Bread II" better, but will probably make this bread occasionally for a change of pace. If you love beer and often have it on hand, this might be a 5-star recipe.
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Mushroom Lentil Barley Stew

Reviewed: Nov. 27, 2007
This recipe is definitely a keeper, although (as others said) there is too much pepper. I actually enjoy that much heat in many recipes, but in this recipe it dominates too much over the more subtle flavors. I will cut in half at least next time, and maybe a quarter for my toddlers' sake. A really neat thing about this recipe is that most of the ingredients are dry or easily replaced with dry ingredients, so it is easy to pre-mix on the weekend, store in a Ziploc bag on a shelf, and then throw in a crockpot with 2 quarts of water in the morning before work any day of the week - or even a month later, if you use an oxygen-reducing packet. I replaced broth with boullion and garlic with garlic powder. Button mushrooms were the only fresh ingredient we used, and I since found a way to order freeze-dried mushrooms - so next time I will be using entirely dry ingredients and then will "just add water".
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137 users found this review helpful

It's Chili by George!!

Reviewed: Nov. 26, 2007
I wish I could give 4.5 stars, but this isn't quite a 5. I made a variation on this recipe with mostly dried ingredients, and stored it on the shelf for a week before my husband cooked it. I used about 12 oz. dried kidney beans and 12 oz. dried pinto beans, and replaced the onion with dehydrated onion. Then I left my husband instructions to brown 2 lbs. ground beef and then add the pre-mixed dry ingredients, the tomato sauce, and some water in the crockpot and simmer all day. We ended up using 3 cups of water but should have used a little more - maybe 5 cups? The beans were a little too firm even after hours of cooking, and I think it was because the chili got a bit dry during cooking. It didn't really take away from the flavor, though, or hurt the rating I gave. The only reason I want to give this recipe less than 5 stars is because it had absolutely no heat, which made is seem a little bland (even though I quadrupled the cayenne). This is a great recipe for a family meal precisely because of that blandness and lack of heat - my 19 month toddlers loved it with cheddar cheese sprinkled on it- but I wouldn't serve it if adult company was coming without adding hot sauce, more cayenne, and some jalepeno and maybe doubling the other spices. This recipe is definitely going to be a regular for our family. It took so little time to prep, and I will be able to make 3 or 4 batches of the dry ingredients at a time and then just store them in our pantry.
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Bread Pudding III

Reviewed: Nov. 7, 2007
This is one of the few recipes that is a "regular" around here - maybe the only "regular"! This is especially meaningful, since I grew up hating bread pudding - I prefer a more solid pudding, and my grandmother made something rather soupy instead. I do tweak the recipe - I tried white bread once, and hated it. Way too bland. Now I stick to the darker breads that I prefer - honey wheat breads work wonderfully, and mixing bread types is best (IMO). I double the cinnamon, add 1/4 tsp of cardamon (my favorite spice :-) and omit the raisins (I don't like them). I also find that the cooking time is short by about ten minutes. This recipe is great as a base for other modifications, too. I tried adding honey, orange, and sliced almonds once - very good, but will try w/out the almonds next time.
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2 users found this review helpful

 
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