Baricat Recipe Reviews (Pg. 15) - (131039)

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Black Cat Cookies

Reviewed: Oct. 23, 2008
Because of previous reviews stating the flavor was lacking or not chocolate enough, I added 1 oz melted semisweet chocolate, and they came out perfectly! Dough is a dream to work with when forming the ears - no problem with its being too sticky. These come out soft and yummy, with a full chocolate flavor. I followed Muffinmom's advice to par-bake, remove and decorate, then finish for another 5 minutes. Could not have turned out better! And when Halloween's over, these are excellent cookies all on their own. They're not just another pretty face! No rolling out and cutting. Just scoop, flatten with the glass dipped in sugar, and bake. (It's best to use an actual scoop or "disher" if you're aiming for uniformity.) A buttery, tender chocolate fix any time of the year. Thank you for the great recipe!
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30 users found this review helpful

Bran Flax Muffins

Reviewed: Oct. 17, 2008
Simply put, SPECTACULAR! You could easily dust these with powdered sugar or ice with cream cheese frosting and call them cupcakes. The texture is so moist with the carrots and apples. For those who found them to be lacking in flavor, try increasing the cinnamon by 50%, then add liberal shakes of nutmeg, cloves, allspice and ginger. I didn't have oat bran on hand, so substituted All Bran cereal and softened it in the milk for 10 minutes before adding the rest of the ingredients. Also used Splenda in place of the brown sugar to make them more diabetic-friendly. I'm trying several of the highest-ranked bran muffin recipes on this website and although I've found 2 others that I loved, this one is my favorite. It's packed with fiber and antioxidants, so just about as healthy as you can imagine. Say goodbye to empty calorie breakfasts! You can even eliminate the oil to save some calories and it will never be missed. What more can I say, but WOW!! Edited to add: In an incredible bonehead move, I forgot to add the flax! The texture is a little different, but I'm happy to report they still taste fabulous. It's the mark of a great recipe, to be that forgiving. Have now made 3 times, and have subbed sweet potato for carrot, added mashed banana, all with superb results.
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11 users found this review helpful

Death by Cheese Sandwich

Reviewed: Oct. 16, 2008
After a sudden illness that almost cost me my life a little over a year ago I've lost a staggering amount of weight. I still have a difficult time eating much because of no appetite. So my doctors' goal now is to get me to take in protein to build my muscle mass back up. I saw this recipe and added a slice of ham to it. I then soaked my single sandwich in an egg with milk, until it was fully absorbed. Then I coated it with the breadcrumbs. Deep frying adds unnecessary calories. All that's needed is a thin coating of oil in a skillet, and I fried it until golden on both sides, then blotted on a paper towel. For many, the relatively high caloric content might pose a problem, but for me, it was just perfect. Although I could only manage half of this filling sandwich, it was excellent! The soft, egg-soaked bread contrasts with the crispy exterior. I used a slice of Jarlsberg and a slice of American, with a slice of ham in between. The meal had a nice, high protein content, with 2 slices of cheese, ham, milk and an egg. I'm going to try to reheat the rest later. I'm sure adding a couple of salted tomato slices would make this even more delicious. Thank you for posting this yummy vehicle for regaining my strength. Edited to add: Although it's impossible to retain the crispy exterior when reheated in the microwave, it was still tasty a few hours later on.
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8 users found this review helpful

Apple-Raisin French Toast Casserole

Reviewed: Oct. 13, 2008
This was better in theory than in practice. I don't know why we didn't just love it. Don't get me wrong - it wasn't bad, per se. We like all the various ingredients. I used a hearty home made bread, the Amish White Bread on this website. The casserole tasted OK, but just didn't ring our bells. My daughter said she'd rather have just plain French toast with syrup than this, and I realized reluctantly that she was right. I'm sure it's a time saver when serving breakfast to a crowd, but as my family is small, I won't be making it again.
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5 users found this review helpful

Molasses Bran Muffins

Reviewed: Oct. 11, 2008
Lovely, earthy flavor to these muffins, due to the molasses. This recipe is less sweet than most, because there is no sweetening other than the molasses. For those who don't appreciate a strong molasses flavor, consider using half dark corn syrup or honey to replace half of the molasses called for. But leave in at least half for the subtle flavor contribution and deep color. If you like a sweeter muffin, add 2 Tb sugar, either brown or white. For those who had trouble with a runny batter, allow the bran to soak in the milk for 10 minutes before mixing. I used sour milk and cut the soda back to 1 tsp, which is sufficient for a recipe of this size. 1-1/2 tsp, particularly if you use fresh milk (as opposed to buttermilk or sour milk) could be contributing to the off-flavor some have reported. Added 1/2 tsp cinnamon, because I just like it in my muffins. I brushed the tops with a drop of honey as they came out of the oven, adding a slight punch of sweetness and a beautiful sheen. Already ate one fresh from the oven, and it was stellar! Be aware that these do not rise very much. What you see when you spoon the batter into the muffin tins is pretty much what you get coming out of the oven. So don't be afraid to fill nearly to the top. It made 12 very full muffins. All in all, an excellent recipe! Edited 10/14/08 to add that these are excellent keepers. Four days after baking, they are still remarkably moist, almost as good as freshly baked. A+
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91 users found this review helpful

Cozy Cottage Beef Stew Soup

Reviewed: Oct. 10, 2008
I am the submitter of this recipe, and it IS a soup. However, it can be changed easily to make a stew. Increase the meat to 3 to 3.5 pounds. Cut the liquids in half (meaning 1 can chicken broth, one can beef consomme or stock.) Mix 1/2 cup of flour into the cool stock before adding to the pot, then stir until the mixture comes to a simmer, in order to keep it smooth. Vegetables can be tailored to suit your taste. Root veggies are good, like turnip or yams. You can use less onion if you like (should read 2 SMALL onions,) and omit the green beans and mushrooms if you don't like them. Use more or less pepper, as you prefer. THIS RECIPE IS EASILY TAILORED TO YOUR TASTE. i.e. if you don't like lots of onion, cut it back to one. Use more spice if you like stronger flavors, or more garlic if that's the way you like things. Omit the tomato sauce and/or crushed tomatoes if you don't like your soup somewhat tomatoey - if you do, feel free to add some fresh chopped tomato. Cut the vegetables in chunks instead of mincing, if you like it heartier. If you have a crock pot smaller than the largest size, for which this recipe was created, be sure to cut down on your liquids. Use whatever is needed to fill your particular pot to no more than 3/4 full, then STOP ADDING LIQUID. The crock pot should NEVER be filled to overflowing - that's just plain common sense. Important: Taste for salt before serving and adjust as necessary. That should always be your last step before serving any dish.
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80 users found this review helpful

Amish White Bread

Reviewed: Oct. 8, 2008
Arguably the best white bread recipe on the entire planet, and I should know. I've probably tried every last one! No faint praise, as I've been making bread for more than 35 years. I have made it exactly as written, and although it's very tasty with the full measure of sugar, we prefer cutting it slightly. I cut the recipe in half for my bread machine, and instead of 1/3 cup of sugar, I use 1/4 (which is to say 1 tablespoon plus 1 teaspoon less per loaf.) There's still a hint of sweetness, but it's perfect for sandwiches and for mopping up gravy with savory entrees. I could tell even before it was baked that this was something wonderful; the dough was absolutely perfectly silken and smooth. The crust is just right with a nice delicate crispiness and the inside is light and moist. As long as you know your yeast is active (purchased recently or stored in the freezer/fridge and used before expiration) there is no need to proof. People seem to think that proofing makes the bread better. There is no magic in proofing. It won't improve your product. That step merely provides "proof" that the yeast is active, so that you don't waste good ingredients by adding them to dead yeast. In days gone by, when refrigeration was not all that common (or delivered by the ice man) it was necessary. Not so if you know you've handled the product correctly by storing in the fridge or freezer. Kudos for this superlative recipe! Update: Have made this about 7 times so far. Consistently wonderful resul
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129 users found this review helpful

Classic Bran Muffins

Reviewed: Oct. 7, 2008
Absolutely inSANEly delicious, just as written. I gussied them up for a special treat by adding half of a can of drained, crushed pineapple and some chopped, toasted macadamias. I brushed the tops with honey as soon as they came out of the oven. I called them "Hawaiian bran muffins," and they were inhaled. Nirvana! But even if you don't have the energy to get creative, rest assured that exactly as written with no substitutions or variations, these are UBER-muffins. Thank you for the wonderful recipe!
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26 users found this review helpful

Baby Food Cake Bars

Reviewed: Oct. 5, 2008
I've been making this recipe for years, given to me by my husband's favorite aunt when I was a new bride. Her recipe calls for using a 17" X 11" jelly roll pan, which makes them more "bar-like." I have found that cutting back on the oil helps the texture to be less heavy. I use only 1-1/4 cup, and the rest is never missed. Also have varied the type of baby food, sometimes using sweet potatoes in place of the carrots, and peaches in place of the apricots, pears in place of applesauce, or even plums. They all make only subtle differences in flavor. Virtually any fruit or root vegetable baby food can be used successfully. You can even use plums for all 3 jars and make a delicious autumn plum cake, baked in a bundt pan (usually takes around 45-55 minutes at 350 degrees) and then glaze it. The variations are quite endless. I always frost with a cream cheese frosting, which makes a good thing even better. In fact, to us, the cream cheese frosting is a must-do. Any way you make them and serve them, they never fail to draw rave reviews. Have copies of this recipe handy, because you're going to get lots of requests!
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18 users found this review helpful

Grandma VanDoren's White Bread

Reviewed: Oct. 4, 2008
A good, solid recipe, but I didn't find it to be anything outstanding as most of the reviews led me to believe it would be. I have a couple of recipes that consistently deliver better results than this. It was moist enough when fresh, but by the second day, was starting to stale already, even though wrapped air-tight. Very crispy crust and light inside. Don't get me wrong. This resulted in a good loaf, nothing that we'd turn our noses up at. But let's face it, fresh home made bread, even so-so home made bread, is still wonderful! Edited to add: A far superior recipe on this website is Amish White Bread, with the sugar reduced from 2/3 cup to 1/2 cup. The texture is better, the crust is much more delicate, and it keeps its quality longer.
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25 users found this review helpful

No-Peek Beef Stew

Reviewed: Sep. 29, 2008
The main virtue is that it uses few ingredients and is quick/easy to put together. That said, we found the result to be bland in flavor and the color matched with an unappealing creamy shade. To my way of thinking, a beef stew, particularly one that cooks for hours, should have a nice, deep color and depth of flavor to match. It was OK in flavor. I'm sure it would improve by adding some thyme, marjoram and/or rosemary and a few liberal grinds of pepper, but since it really wasn't our thing, I'm going to cut my losses on this one.
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6 users found this review helpful

General Tsao's Chicken

Reviewed: Sep. 28, 2008
OK, but nothing like any General Tsao's chicken we've ever had anywhere else. Very bland in comparison. It's my son's favorite dish, and the leftovers went bad after languishing in the fridge for over a week. Since he's a big eater and loves to scarf up just about any leftovers, this said a lot. He sheepishly told me to just pitch it, that he wasn't interested in eating it. This was definitely not worth the mess to go through the deep fat frying. Considering the cost of the ingredients (especially the large amount of oil) it was a big disappointment. Sorry to say my advice on this one is to head to your nearest Chinese take-out and save yourself the time and mess of cleanup.
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5 users found this review helpful

Chicken Breasts with Balsamic Vinegar and Garlic

Reviewed: Sep. 25, 2008
4-1/2 stars as written. However, with a few simple additions you can swing this over into the 5 star stratosphere! No treatment of the garlic cloves is mentioned, so I peeled them, crushed and very finely minced 2 of the cloves (to make the garlic flavor more pronounced,) leaving the rest whole. Also added 2 Tb finely minced shallots, which gave lots of depth of flavor. If you don't have or can't find shallots, green onions will do. If you find the taste to be too acidic, then look to your balsamic vinegar as the culprit. The only type to use is from Modena, Italy. Others are just imitators. A genuine Modena balsamic is smooth as silk, with no bite. It costs more, but in a dish such as this, it makes a world of difference. Once the breasts are pounded thin, cooking them for 10 minutes in liquid is WAY too much. After you've browned them, they need very little time. Just make your sauce as directed (also added a little marjoram, white pepper, and a tsp Dijon mustard to increase flavor complexity,) turn off the heat, and allow your already-browned breasts to steep in the sauce covered for 10 minutes on top of the burner. This is known as carry-over cooking, and the heat of the sauce is quite sufficient to finish off any undercooked meat. Skipping the flour coating works just fine. However, to thicken the sauce enough to coat noodles or potatoes, whisk 2-3 tsp of flour to the room temp stock, then stir this into the pan, stirring until sauce reaches a boil. Finishing the sauce
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103 users found this review helpful

Golden Yam Brownies

Reviewed: Sep. 13, 2008
Wonderful recipe, and although hardly a health food, a yummy way to get beta carotine and antioxidants into your family. I've made twice now, once exactly as written, and once with some additions. They are extremely sweet as written, and I've found that reducing both the white and brown sugars to 3/4 cup each produces a still appropriately sweet (but not cloyingly so) bar. The second time I made these, I added 1-1/2 tsp cinnamon and 1 tsp ginger, plus 1 cup of raisins. That made them over-the-moon delicious, and they were inhaled in record time. Don't get me wrong - without the spices and raisins, their flavor is simple and uncomplicated, but some may interpret this as bland. Both times I shredded the peeled sweet potatoes using the shredding disc on my Cuisinart, and it was plenty fine enough. The shreds of sweet potato melded into the brownie and were not discernible. Moist and appealing with a sunny orange-gold color, they are also excellent keepers, if you can manage to hide a couple for later on. They may be frozen and thaw beautifully, with no discernible difference between frozen and fresh, provided you wrap carefully airtight and don't freeze for too long (say around 3 months, max.) Thank you for a real gem!
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169 users found this review helpful
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Grandma's Gingersnaps

Reviewed: Sep. 7, 2008
Lovely cookies, but just narrowly miss a 5 star because they're far more delicate than a true ginger snap. To those who are wondering what went wrong when the cookies come out as flat discs, the answer is absolutely nothing! Ginger snaps are supposed to be flat and very crisp. If you are looking for a puffy, soft ginger cookie recipe, I can heartily recommend "Big Soft Ginger Cookies" from this site. Even though I upped the baking time to 12 minutes, the edges were properly crispy, but the centers still remained chewy. The dough is extremely soft. I chilled it overnight, but it was still too soft to roll into balls by hand. So I scooped them out with two spoons, and rolled them around in the sugar. They spread out a lot while baking, so allow ample room on your baking sheet. Excellent, tasty cookies, just not crispy enough to be called gingersnaps. Edited to add: By evening, all had lost any crispiness and become chewy, which underscores the appropriateness of the 4 star rating. Again, delicious cookie, just not a true gingersnap, without any "snap." Edited to add: I discovered how to make them properly crisp. Use vegetable shortening in place of the margarine, bake for 12 minutes and you'll have actual "snaps." Also, in order to get that proper warmth that we associate with gingersnaps, add a few shakes of cayenne or white pepper. Perfect then!
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20 users found this review helpful

Easy Lemon Cookies

Reviewed: Aug. 20, 2008
VERY good! I added the finely grated zest of one lemon to bump up the lemon flavor, but I'm sure they'd stand just as is. I baked for 10 minutes, actually, because after the first batch at 8 minutes came out with doughy middles. The last batch got left in the oven by accident for 15 minutes, and they were quite brown. The middles were baked through all the way, and they were somewhat hard. But by the next day, all that had changed to a respectable chewiness, and you couldn't tell that they weren't intended to have been baked that way. Now that's what I like - a recipe with a lot of "wiggle room" that's forgiving, no matter what!
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3 users found this review helpful

Chocolate Fudge Buttercream Frosting

Reviewed: Jul. 30, 2008
Scrumptious when made with my own home made hot fudge sauce and when shortening is replaced with an equal measure of butter (so 3/4 cup butter in all.) The type of hot fudge sauce you use will drastically affect the final flavor, so be certain of the quality of your selection, or make your own. The frosting goes on smooth as glass. Very easy to work with, and pipes well, but be sure to go easy on the milk. I added only half of the amount called for, and the texture was perfect. I would not describe it as "fudge," however, which was surprising with the inclusion of hot fudge sauce. Be aware that it's actually a medium chocolate, rather than a deep fudge in either texture or color, which accounts for the 4 stars. The recipe makes a generous amount, sufficient to fill and frost a 2 layer cake thickly.
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21 users found this review helpful

Hot Cocoa Mix

Reviewed: Jul. 23, 2008
I scaled this back to make only 2 portions so that I could try it before investing in making such a large amount. Please note that in place of the confectioners sugar I used Splenda, as I'm diabetic. This, however, had no effect on the taste, which was overwhelmingly dominated by the unpleasant flavor of powdered milk. I'm not sure there's any way to get around this, since it's the main ingredient. As it stands, I'd much rather have the just-add-water packets made by Swiss Miss, which has a far superior flavor to this stuff.
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3 users found this review helpful

Hot Fudge Sauce

Reviewed: Jul. 22, 2008
Actually, I would rate this a 4-1/2 if possible. It just misses getting 5 stars from me because the flavor, while good, isn't blow-your-mind fabulous. Whereas I used good chocolate, the sweetened condensed milk contributes its own, unmistakable taste and over-the-top sweetness. We prefer something that doesn't have a tendency to induce diabetic coma! That's why I never buy commercially prepared hot fudge, which is so sweet as to be nauseating. I have a recipe that has a far superior flavor, which uses Dutch cocoa. That said, the texture of this is silken and creamy, the color is coal-dark and when it makes contact with something cold, it becomes properly thick and fudgy. Try serving refrigerated strawberries for dipping if you're looking for an elegant but very easy dessert. That's the other virtue of this recipe. By storing just a couple ingredients, you're always just minutes away from a taste treat. Even if like most people you don't use butter often, consider keeping a stick, cut in quarters (a quarter stick is what you need to make this,) in your freezer. In order to remedy the excessive sweetness, the next time I make this, I will use 1 or 2 oz unsweetened chocolate in place of an equal measure of semisweet, which should make it more palatable for us. Will report the results when I do.
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8 users found this review helpful

Sauce Espagnole

Reviewed: Jul. 8, 2008
Reduce until thick, then freeze in 2 Tb dollops.
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0 users found this review helpful

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