Baricat Recipe Reviews (Pg. 6) - Allrecipes.com (131039)

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Spaghetti Carbonara II

Reviewed: Jan. 5, 2011
Tasted reasonably good, but it's not spaghetti carbonara, which uses pancetta, not bacon (pancetta is a cured, non-smoked bacon), no wine, no onions, no garlic. Having actual bacon, as well as those add-ins, changes the flavor significantly. True Spaghetti alla carbonara features few ingredients, and leaves an uncomplicated taste. Now that said, this dish is really quite tasty, and worth your time to make. It's filling, inexpensive, and appealing.
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4 users found this review helpful

English Toffee

Reviewed: Dec. 17, 2010
This is an excellent recipe, just as is. Do not succumb to the temptation to add less butter. That will result in a product that is not as luxuriously delicious as it could have been. The candy is known in England as "butter toffee." In other words, the butter is the star, and real toffee is crammed full of it. That said, I realize there are many reviews here that refer to the buttery, oily ooze that rises to the top of their toffee. The cause of this is, quite simply, that it was cooked at too high a temperature to allow the chemical process to take place sufficiently. By heating the sugar, we develop the structure of our finished product. In order to accomplish this properly, the sugar has to melt slowly so that there's sufficient time for its molecules to combine with those of the butter, resulting in that delicately crunchy, buttery product. Remember that patience is always your friend when making any candy. Sure, I understand that it can become tedious to wait and wait for that temperature rise, but better that than to end up with a low quality product that you're not proud to serve or worse yet, that ends up in the trash. With the cost of groceries now days, that's a minor tragedy. Always cook on low heat and allow the melting process to occur slowly and evenly. The same for the temperature rise. Low and slow - your new mantra. Do this on a nice weather day and follow that one piece of advice, and you'll turn out stuff that will put Heath bars to shame every time.
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162 users found this review helpful

Microwave Oven Peanut Brittle

Reviewed: Dec. 17, 2010
I made this into cashew brittle. EXCELLENT! Perfect flavor and "brittleness." Now for the big substitution I made - I was all ready to make this today and found, much to my annoyance, I had no corn syrup in the pantry. Fortunately, it was just a tiny bump in the candy-making road. In a small saucepan, I combined 1 cup sugar and 1/2 cup water. Brought it to a boil (without stirring) and boiled it 3 minutes. This is a good trick to remember anytime you need corn syrup - this is way cheaper and works identically in any recipe. Also good for when someone in the family has a corn allergy. I did cut back the soda to 1/2 tsp and I could still just barely taste it - certainly not enough to ruin it. My palate works on overdrive. I nuked the syrup/sugar mixture 5-1/2 minutes, added the butter, vanilla and cashews for another 2 minutes (since cashews are more delicate than peanuts and therefore burn far more easily) and presto! It could not have possibly turned out better had I toiled over a hot stove for a half hour. I would have never believed you could make such great brittle in a microwave. (Don't you wonder how anyone figured that fact out?! I mean, really. Did she/he just wake up one morning and say, "I'm going to try to make brittle in the microwave instead of on the stove"??) As a professional chef, I tend to be a purist about cooking methods, and even so, this made a believer out of even skeptical me! Phenomenal recipe - thank you for posting it.
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28 users found this review helpful

Cranberry Orange Cookies

Reviewed: Dec. 14, 2010
FABULOUS!! Like tiny bites of cranberry nut bread. Nice, soft cookies. The dough does not spread out a great deal. Here, we like the cranberries only halved, so that you get that nice, tart little kick with each bite. I chopped them at first, but you lose a little of the tartness that way. Made a buttery glaze which really made the flavor pop, using 1-1/2 Tb softened butter, 1-1/2 cups powdered sugar, 1-1/2 Tb frozen orange juice concentrate and enough cream to make it relatively thick, then brushed on the warm cookies, letting melt and it drizzle down lazily. As pretty as they are flavorful. Spectacular taste and presentation. They're a big holiday favorite here.
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4 users found this review helpful
Photo by Baricat

Soft Chocolate Cookies

Reviewed: Dec. 12, 2010
If there's any such thing as the perfect chocolate cookie, this is it. Tender texture, with just the tiniest bit of chewiness, if removed from the oven at 8 minutes. Vivid chocolate flavor. I turned them into Chocolate Peppermint Blossom Christmas cookies by baking only 8 minutes, cooling them 3 minutes, then pressing a Hershey's Candy Cane Kiss in the middle. Then, sprinkled lightly with powdered sugar. Be sure to wait the 3 minutes, because if you don't, the kisses will melt completely and form a pool, which is OK, but it won't have that little peak that give blossom cookies their traditional eye-appeal. This is because the Candy Cane Kiss version has a much lower melting point than chocolate Kisses. This recipe lends itself to many variations. Add chocolate chips for a double chocolate version. Toffee bits are another great ad-in. Add a depression in the middle and put in a dab of seedless raspberry jam, then drizzle with melted white chocolate. Let your imagination run wild. This recipe can be embellished as you like, or make it just as written - they're flawless with no changes whatsoever!. A wonderful recipe that you'll make over and over.
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58 users found this review helpful

Raisin Bran Chewies Cookies

Reviewed: Dec. 1, 2010
I'm scratching my head about all the praise. Mine turned out dry, dry, dry. Not even remotely "chewy". The flavor, however, is excellent - hearty and delicious. I got the crunchy part. But we just couldn't get past the dry texture. The dough did not spread, not even a little. I ended up slightly flattening each cookie before baking them. Had I not done this, I would have ended up with small hemispheres, since I used a cookie scoop. I followed the recipe almost verbatim, but replaced the white sugar with Splenda to make them a little more diabetic-friendly, keeping the brown sugar. Since that represents only 1/3 of the total sweetening, and I've used that proportion many times in other cookies with no textural difference, that's not the problem. I only baked for the minimum time, 12 minutes, so that can't be it (and my oven is calibrated correctly.) I suspect that if they had been pulled from the oven at 9 minutes, the results would have been closer to those of others. That would be my main suspicion. Don't know with any certainty, however, how my results turned out so differently, so all things considered, I won't be making these again.
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5 users found this review helpful

Janet's Rich Banana Bread

Reviewed: Nov. 30, 2010
Excellent! I took the advice of several reviewers and mashed the bananas, which distributes the fruit more uniformly. Very moist with loads of banana flavor. The few changes I made were to mash up 3 bananas, as they were not large, and pour in half the batter, top that with a mixture of 1/4 cup sugar and 1 tsp cinnamon, then top with the rest of the batter. Also, I did not melt the butter, but creamed it with the sugar. I found, however, that it could have used another few minutes of baking time, as the top sank some in the middle. Attractively browned top and sides, just like the picture. Absolutely brilliant.
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6 users found this review helpful

Simple, Classic Chicken Potpie

Reviewed: Nov. 30, 2010
Uncluttered, uncomplicated goodness. As those diners from the 40s used to advertise in neon window lights, "Good Eats"!! The Sherry imparts a subtle sweetness. Knowing this, I used half Chardonnay in place of half the Sherry. I also sprinkled in about 2 tsp fresh lemon juice and laced gently with a tsp of white wine Worcestershire sauce, which lends a lovely depth to the flavor, but is by no means required. Also stirred in one tsp Dijon mustard and some snipped rosemary from the garden. Just lovely. Comfort food, times 10! BTW, if you want to prep it completely the night before, you can do so by simply brushing a thin coating of butter on the bottom crust (to seal the pastry against becoming mushy from the moisture in the filling,) pouring the filling in the sealed crust, topping with the second crust, fluting, covering and refrigerating. Just preheat the oven and bake when you come home from work for a complete, easy, homey dinner.
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11 users found this review helpful

Key Lime Cheesecake I

Reviewed: Nov. 28, 2010
Simply sumptuous, both in flavor and murderously creamy texture. I included 1 Tb plus 1/2 cup of lime juice, which gave that just-right tartness. I subbed Splenda for the sugar, and found I needed 1-1/4 cup to sweeten it appropriately. Pulled it out of the oven at 55 minutes and topped it with a mixture of 1 cup sour cream blended with 1/4 cup Splenda and 1/4 tsp vanilla, then returned it to the oven for another 5 minutes. I baked it in a water bath and it came out smooth and crack-free. When it cooled, I topped it with glazed strawberries, also made with Splenda. The sweetness of the strawberries provides the perfect foil for the limey tartness. No one could tell it was all sugar-free. Cannot cheerlead loud or long enough for this spectacular recipe!
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13 users found this review helpful

Oreo™ Cookie Bark

Reviewed: Nov. 28, 2010
Five stars for simplicity and winning flavor. I cut the ingredients in half and spread it in an 11"X7" pan. The microwave was perfect for melting the white chocolate. Only took about a minute and a half (stirred after the first minute, then again at 30 seconds) to get it perfectly smooth and prepped to have the Oreo quarters folded in. BTW, place your quartered or chopped Oreos in a sieve and shake to remove any crumbs, thereby preventing a gray-colored finished product that can happen when the fine crumbs that result from breaking up the Oreos get mixed in. I popped it in the fridge for about 45 minutes and that was all it took. No problem cutting it into pieces with a chef's knife. My son, who absolutely adores white fudge covered Oreos, went CRAZY for this.
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7 users found this review helpful

Gorgonzola Stuffed Chicken Breasts Wrapped in Bacon

Reviewed: Nov. 11, 2010
The first time I made this, I had to agree with Mis7Up. The shallot is overpowering and the garlic flavor was too pungent. The second time, I overcame that problem by sauteeing the minced shallot in 1 tsp butter, until everything was evenly caramelized, adding the garlic and sauteeing for another minute. That did the trick! The role of both of those ingredients in the stuffing was that of a subtle, yet masterful supporting player, not prima donnas competing vainly for the limelight. I then deglazed the roasting pan with 2 Tb dry Marsala (reduced vigorously a few minutes until the vapors ceased to tingle the nose,) poured it over the chicken and POW! The flavor was absolutely spectacular. Because of those two steps, which represented a big improvement, this only narrowly misses the 5 star rating.
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245 users found this review helpful

Lemon Zucchini Bars

Reviewed: Nov. 6, 2010
Simply put, WOW!!! I did not make many alterations, as I like to try a recipe pretty much as written the first time. I did sub 1/2 of the sugar with Splenda, as I'm diabetic, and every little bit helps. I added 1 cup of halved fresh cranberries, and the color/tartness ratcheted up the taste to stellar! The red from the cranberries and green flecks from the zucchini made it quite festive looking. That little kick of tartness from the berries made the lemon flavor sing! I don't know why, but something told me to check on them about 10 minutes before the 45 minute alarm, and they were done, so only 35 minutes baking time was perfect. A toothpick in the center came out clean, and the center was firm to the touch. Be sure to disregard the baking times in the recipe and set your alarm for 35 to start. Overbaking could account for some of the tepid reviews. Please know they should turn out soft and moist, more like a cake than bars. After baking, I brushed on a glaze made from 2 Tb softened butter, 1 tsp fresh lemon juice, 1 tsp milk and 1 cup confectioners sugar, while they were still warm from the oven. It increased the fresh lemon flavor. This recipe is misnamed. It's really a cake, not bars. It did not taste remotely oily (and as a trained chef, I have a ridiculously sensitive palate,) so I'd suspect that those who found an oily taste were using either inferior or rancid oil. One taster exclaimed after a bite, "This is light as a feather!" Absolutely fabulous recipe!
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35 users found this review helpful

That's-a Meatloaf

Reviewed: Nov. 1, 2010
Great starting point, but somewhat bland as is. As written, it should offend none. However, I used turkey in place of the beef (we're trying to limit red meats,) tripled the Parmesan and switched out the oregano for 1 Tb basil, the flavor of which we far prefer. Before rolling with the cheese and ham, I placed fresh basil leaves on top of the cheese, then rolled. Served atop a nest of fresh, home made linguine bathed in a fresh tomato-basil sauce, and passed more sauce to put over the meatloaf. Truly a memorable meal.
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13 users found this review helpful

Creamy Hot Cocoa

Reviewed: Oct. 23, 2010
WAY too sweet. 1/2 cup of sugar is just about right for most tastes (we like it with even about one Tb less than that.) A tiny pinch (whatever you can hold between your index finger and thumb only) of baking soda helps smooth out the acidity of the cocoa, if you're not using a Dutch process brand like Droste. The standard Hershey cocoa will benefit from that tiny addition.
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8 users found this review helpful

Apple Streusel Muffins

Reviewed: Oct. 21, 2010
Actually, 4-1/2 would be more accurate. Lovely little treats. Nice, moist texture. I doubled the cinnamon in both the muffins and the topping, plus added several grinds of fresh nutmeg to the muffins. Followed the recipe pretty much exactly, with the one exception of using brown sugar in the topping in place of regular, as we love the flavor it adds in baked goods with apple. We felt it to be short on topping, and the next time, I will increase it by 50%. This recipe yielded 22 regular muffins for me, not 16, which might account for the shortage of topping. Very, very good, but because of the adjustments that needed to be made, it narrowly misses the coveted 5 star rating.
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2 users found this review helpful

Ricotta Gnocchi

Reviewed: Sep. 22, 2010
Good premise, but why would you ever add garlic powder to your gnocchi? I'm a second-generation Italian, and can state categorically that no self-respecting Italian person with any connection to the old country would ever cook with garlic powder, let alone have it in his kitchen. Once you delete that stuff, this is a good, solid recipe for an old favorite. After cutting the individual gnocchi, roll them over the back of the tines of a fork, applying more pressure in the center, to get that authentic gnocchi appearance. The little valleys the fork tines create cradle your sauce. Gnocchi are nothing more than dumplings, Italian style. They can tend to be slightly heavier than normal pasta, which some don't find appealing. Those made with ricotta tend to be lighter than those made with potato, which is the more common variety. The sauce is a basic tomato/basil, which should work well for most palates.
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27 users found this review helpful

Italian Capezzoli di Venere (Chocolate Truffles of Venus)

Reviewed: Sep. 16, 2010
Wow, wow, and WOW!! The translation from Italian is actually "Venus' Nipples." If you've ever seen the movie "Amadeus," Salieri offers them to Mozart's wife and she giggles because the name is so naughty - but I digress. These are the real deal, authentic taste. The puree of chestnut adds a unique depth, characteristic of these gems. It's true that they're time consuming, but incredibly worth it. I have to point out that the recipe submitter said "high quality" chocolate, and that cannot be stressed enough. Your product will only taste as good as the chocolate you use. I used Lindt, which made for an incredibly delicious treat. Take the time to temper the white chocolate as described - it's spot on. If you melt it slowly, it will retain its lovely sheen, which gives your product high appeal. Kudos for this one!!
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41 users found this review helpful

Gooey Butter Cookies

Reviewed: Sep. 8, 2010
Lovely, soft bites. Good, but not what I'd ever call great. Very respectable, however, for a "hurry up" treat. Only 4 stars, because I could still taste the cake mix artificial flavor, although it was much slighter than with other cake mix cookie recipes. The cream cheese helps to mask it. Perhaps adding some lemon zest or toasted nuts would help further. I did not find them to be objectionably sweet, and I have a low sweetness tolerance. Be advised that these do not spread, not even a little. I used a small scoop, and got small dome-shaped cookies. Nothing wrong with that, per se, but if you're looking for more substantial size, either use a bigger scoop (mine holds a little over a tablespoon) and bake longer, or flatten them somewhat with your fingers before baking. Ten minutes seems just right for a very soft (but not "gooey") cookie. I could see making these again if I'm pressed for time, but because they taste like you used a convenience product, they'll never be a first choice for me.
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2 users found this review helpful
Photo by Baricat

JELL-O Strawberry Mousse Cups

Reviewed: Aug. 11, 2010
Good light, refreshing, guilt-free summer treat. When I need something a little dressier for guests, I whip 1 cup of heavy cream and sweeten with 2 packets of Splenda, and replace the Cool Whip with this. I also puree half the strawberries before stirring them in. These two measures make for a sensationally rich taste. So worth the extra calories! Have made it several times, peach Jello with chopped peaches, and our favorite, cherry Jello with strawberries.
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6 users found this review helpful

Decorator Frosting I

Reviewed: Aug. 11, 2010
The standard decorator frosting that most home cake decorators begin with. Admittedly, it's lovely to look at and pipes like a dream. However, the taste leaves a lot to be desired. When using only shortening, it's essential to add some salt to the mix - just a little will suffice, under 1/8 tsp - or the flavor will be dull, like it's missing something. That much almond extract will be too strong for those who don't absolutely love almond flavor, and there are many. Either half almond and half vanilla (clear, if you want to preserve that stark white color) or half vanilla and half lemon are more generally appealing possibilities. Thin to use as a frosting for the entire cake, but know ahead of time that this recipe might well be considered too sweet. For me, this isn't the overall taste I'm looking for. A frosting made with all or mostly shortening doesn't melt on the tongue the way I like. This frosting leaves a tell-tale gummy, cloyingly sweet residue. This frosting is better when reserved strictly for decorating. When used for this purpose, I find that cutting the ingredients in half gives me plenty to decorate a 2-layer or 9" X 13" cake. Be aware that this will develop a light crust when left exposed to the air for several hours.
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57 users found this review helpful

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