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Focaccia Bread

Reviewed: Jan. 9, 2008
Quite simply put...wow! Left out garlic powder, because 1) it's not an authentic Italian ingredient (only fresh garlic is used in Italy) and 2) it would give an ersatz flavor. Doubled the basil and used milk for the liquid, to give a moister crumb. The result was a soft, perfectly chewy bread. Dimpled the dough deeply with my thumb after rolling out. Then, sprinkled the top liberally with chopped fresh rosemary leaves from the garden and lightly with coarse kosher salt, after painting with extra virgin olive oil. Then applied a mix of mozzarella, Parmigiano, and genuine imported Italian Asiago halfway through baking time so the cheese would not become overly brown. The result was ambrosia, a golden feast for the eyes and a delectable treat for the mouth. This is the real deal. Outstandingly simple and simply outstanding! To those who had trouble with the texture of the dough, either it's your yeast or your rising technique. Make sure to use only yeast that's new or that has been stored in the fridge/freezer. Also, do not dissolve in hot water, only lightly warm to the inside of your wrist. If the yeast has been stored in the freezer or is new, proofing is an unnecessary step. Proofing yeast does nothing magical like people think - it just "proves" that it's still good by bubbling. Do not allow the dough to overrise, (in other words, to rise so high that it sinks back down on itself) and ferment. Set a timer so that you don't forget to check on it. Light dough rises quickly.
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Eileen's Spicy Gingerbread Men

Reviewed: Dec. 20, 2007
This recipe barely misses a 5 star rating for one reason only. The cookies are not "spicy" as the title promises. They have a pleasant, mildly spiced flavor, but this recipe lacks the "bite" usually associated with genuinely spicy gingerbread. For those, however, who have palates that appreciate milder spices, this recipe is perfect. If you long for a spicier kick to your gingerbread, double the listed spices except cloves, and add a liberal dash or two of cayenne. The dough was very easy to work with, after chilling. I made it before going to bed, then rolled them out the next morning, taking only what could be rolled and cut at one time out of the fridge. The dough is, like any recipe made with a large quantity of any syrupy substance (i.e. molasses, corn syrup, honey,) sticky if not adequately chilled. Sticky dough is impossible to work with. The temptation is to add more flour to the dough, but resist it! More flour toughens your product. In fact, when rolling, it is always advisable to use a pastry cloth on your board and pastry sock on your rolling pin. This enables you to incorporate the least amount of flour possible, yet still work easily with the dough. Another good quality is that these don't puff up and lose their shape when baked. In fact, what you see when on the sheet before baking is just about what you get. They're good keepers, still soft a week after baking (kept in an airtight tin.) Excellent recipe, but some tinkering with the spices could improve it.
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547 users found this review helpful

Marinated Greek Chicken Kabobs

Reviewed: Jun. 21, 2008
Oh, my freakin' WORD!!!!! What a fabulous flavor! This takes chicken over the edge of extraordinary taste. I would have never thought in a gazillion years of using yogurt as a marinade vehicle, but it's nothing short of genius. Maybe this hyperbole is owed, in part at least, to the wonderful fresh herbs I grow. One of the fringe benefits of living in Florida - they grow like weeds, so there's always plenty to be used. I only had straight feta, so laced it liberally with fresh minced basil from the garden and a spoon of tomato paste. It lent a lovely, light salmon-pink blush to the chicken. Added chopped fresh rosemary, oregano and parsley leaves which, together with the basil, punctuated the pinkish marinade profusely with flecks of bright green. I was going to add some crushed garlic, but knowing that garlic is such an assertive flavor that can tend to take over, I wanted to give this a shot first [almost, that is, since I didn't have the basil and sun dried tomato feta] as written. So I stuck to the ingredients in the recipe, and was richly rewarded. No garlic needed, and the verdict is I don't even want to add it in subsequent efforts. I found the lemon flavor to be the perfect foil for the yogurt, and it played off the oregano masterfully. We're not big pepper people, so I substituted mushrooms on the skewers. Thank you for an absolutely stupendous recipe. Edited: Subbed lime zest and juice for the lemon - spectacular!
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Belle's Hamburger Buns

Reviewed: Aug. 9, 2009
Lovely soft, ethereal, yeasty pillows that will elevate your burgers well beyond the ordinary. Perfect exactly as written. Just be mindful not to add too much flour. The dough should feel ever-so-slightly sticky to the touch, so go somewhat light on your first flour addition. If you squeeze some in your hand, it should adhere just for a second or two before falling when you release it. If using a bread machine, check it after the initial kneading, while it rests, before the long knead part of the cycle, and add flour if too sticky, add a few drops of water if the dough seems heavy or dry. Check again 2-4 minutes into the second knead and adjust again, as necessary. The complaint that these rolls are too "dense", providing sufficient rising time is allowed per the recipe, is because of 1) insufficient kneading 2) insufficient rising time or 3) too much flour in proportion to liquid. The amount of flour when baking breads is not a precise science. Think of it as an "area" and not a "point." The amount can vary from one time to the next, depending on the humidity, altitude, barometric pressure, accuracy of measurement, if you've sifted, age of your flour, etc. Work by feel and don't consider any measurement to be carved in stone, if you want to produce perfect yeast breads of any kind. Use the minimum amount of flour necessary to achieve the above-described feel to the dough, and you'll make the most heavenly bread on earth, each and every time.
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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
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Bacon-Flavored Dog Biscuits

Reviewed: Dec. 28, 2008
I added an extra egg, powdered milk, chicken broth in place of the water, half a jar of peanut butter, and crumbled bacon. I also used 1 cup of rolled oats in place of 3/4 cup of the whole wheat flour. The beauty of this recipe is that you can add in just about anything that can be mixed easily, and it will work. Used part rendered beef fat since I only had 3 strips of bacon. I wasn't up to rolling and cutting, so I just rolled little balls and flattened them to bake. You can pack them closely together on the baking sheet, since they don't expand as they bake. Remember to store in the fridge, as they don't contain preservatives and will get moldy in time. I feel good about giving these out as treats because they're all natural and I know exactly what went into them. My Westie, my daughter's mixed breed and her boyfriend's puggle will do back flips to get their jaws around one of these! Edited to add:No need to buy bacon. Save all trimmings from steak, chicken (plus skin,) pork,etc. in the freezer. When you have a handful or two, render (fry on low for about 15-20 minutes to melt off the fat.) Chop up the pieces left in the rendering pan and put them in the mix with the rendered fat. No expensive bacon needed. That's stuff you'd normally throw in the trash. You're recycling, AND your doggie will go nuts - promise!
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Best Cherry Pie

Reviewed: Jan. 8, 2009
This is an old chestnut of a recipe. I've been baking it using this same formula for over 30 years now, with the exception of using 1-2 Tb fresh lemon juice, added along with the cherries and extract. Using the lemon juice avoids the cloying sweetness that some have found objectionable. Those who think it's the same as canned cherry pie filling have to be kidding! That stuff is bright red goo with a few cherries floating around in it. This produces a cherry-packed filling that fits best in an 8" pie pan. For a 10" pie I always double this recipe, and it comes out nice and full. For those who have trouble with the crust browning too much or burning, just crimp a 2" strip of foil (you will need 3-4, depending on the size of pie you're baking. Join the strips end-to-end by folding thinly together to make one long strip) around the crust edges. Remove for the last 15 minutes of baking. Voila! Perfectly baked crusts every time. This filling recipe also works beautifully as a topping for cheesecakes, pound cakes, ice cream, etc. Provided you make a quality crust, this truly does produce the Best Cherry Pie you'll ever eat.
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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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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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Simple Baked Apples

Reviewed: Jun. 26, 2007
Absolutely YUMMY! Made it with Splenda in place of the sugar because I'm diabetic and my daughter is always on a diet. Used a handful of frozen cranberries for color and tart counterpoint. Makes a lovely dessert. This would be wonderful served hot with a scoop of vanilla ice cream melting on top. It's a keeper!!
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Pumpkin Fudge

Reviewed: Dec. 3, 2002
Excellent flavor, but texture leaves a little to be desired. Made 3 times. Not a creamy fudge, but slightly on the granular side. Tried using half and half in place of milk - no difference in texture. For those who have had problems with the fudge not setting up, there are two possible reasons. First off, fudge should never be made on a rainy/snowy day, nor one with high relative humidity. Water is the enemy of fudge. Save this task for a clear day. Secondly, the correct temperature is a must. There is a range, between 232-238 for soft ball. Test the calibration on your thermometer by boiling water and checking against 212 degrees. One note on this fudge. Mine never lost its gloss. The first time, I beat it for about 10 minutes, and although it got thick, it was still very glossy. The next 2 times I beat it for about 2 minutes and 1 minute, respectively. It thickened up right away. No difference in texture. Still grainy. I never use compound spices, as I prefer to make my own mixtures, giving greater control over final flavor. Used 1/2 tsp cinnamon, 1 tsp ginger, and 1/4 tsp cloves. Delicious! Update: Discovered the source of the grainy texture, FINALLY! When you add the butter, vanilla and spices (after removing from heat,) DO NOT MIX IN, as the recipe states (only add them to the pan.) Instead, after adding those ingredients, WAIT TO MIX them until the time when you beat the mixture at 110 degrees. Still not exactly creamy, but much less grainy, a big improvement.
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Fresh Tomato Basil Sauce

Reviewed: Jan. 13, 2011
A lovely celebration of the flavor of ripe, fresh tomatoes, provided you make a couple of small changes. One word was most likely omitted in the ingredients: Tomatoes should also be PEELED. If not, the peels separate and just become tough little indigestible bits. Before starting, simply blanch the tomatoes in boiling water for 30 seconds, then shock in ice water. They'll slip out of their skins in a heartbeat this way. Then, seed and dice. This step represents a big sensory improvement. Alternatively, you can just quarter the unpeeled, unseeded tomatoes, cook as normal, then pass the whole thing through a food mill. This results in a completely smooth sauce. The food mill removes all the skins and seeds. If you want it chunky, however, you'll have to use the first procedure. Another exception I took to the recipe was that in order to retain as much of that burstingly, achingly fresh flavor that exclaims "summer,", only cook for 20-30 minutes at the barest simmer. Cooking for 2 hours will result in a major loss of the fresh taste and the bright red color. See accompanying picture for a the color and texture of what this looks like when quick-cooked. A feast for the eyes, as well as the palate. As basil loses much of its fresh flavor, color, and texture when cooked, be sure to sprinkle each serving with more right before serving. Those minor changes will result in a superior product.
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JIF® Buckeyes

Reviewed: Apr. 3, 2010
Don't know how these could possibly be any better. Murderously silken in texture and decadently smooth in peanutty flavor. Had no trouble dipping them in the chocolate after about an hour in the fridge. Messy work, but well worth the clean-up. I shaped them into eggs for Easter, dipped in bittersweet chocolate and then drizzled with white chocolate. Easiest way to dip: wear latex gloves. Put a Tb or so of melted chocolate in the palm of your non-dominant hand. Roll the refrigerated center around in it and place on waxed paper. Keeps the mess very minimal. This will give you a nice, light coating. If you want a thicker coat, wait until the first coat solidifies, and repeat. Double dipping gives a luxuriously thick layer of chocolate. Fast, fast, fast this way, and as painless as possible. For highest sheen, melt chocolate in a double boiler off heat. First boil the water in the bottom, remove from heat and place the top over the water. Reboil water as necessary (removing the top part) and put the chocolate back over after you removed it from the heat. Do this whenever the chocolate gets too thick, as well. BTW, don't omit the salt in the filling as it provides necessary counterpoint to the otherwise relentless sweetness. Tastes reminiscent of Reese's Peanut Butter Cups, but worlds better, like they came from an old-world confectionary! BTW, if shaping them as buckeyes, recipe only makes about 48 - 1" diameter balls. If you want 60, then roll to about 3/4".
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Asparagus Lasagna

Reviewed: Apr. 3, 2008
Wonderful, imaginative recipe. A few minor tweaks, however, improved it. Used butter in place of margarine for flavor, then sauteed the garlic a little longer, until golden. Since some other reviewers thought the sauce too bland, I made a simple change which helped a lot in the flavor department. I used only half the milk, and replaced the other half with concentrated chicken stock and a couple of tablespoons of dry white wine. Simmered the sauce until the vapors from the wine ceased to tingle the nose, in order to be sure all the alcohol was burned off. When sauce was finished, I stirred in some freshly grated Asiago and Parmesan. Used fresh, peeled asparagus, lightly pre-cooked by boiling 2 minutes then shocking, cut into bite-sized pieces. Layered with a mixture of cheeses, including Jarlsberg, Parmesan and Gruyere in addition to some mozzarella. The type of cheese isn't so much of consequence as getting in some more flavorful types - mozzarella used alone doesn't have a high degree of discernible taste. You could combine it with Swiss, Gouda, Laughing Cow, Monterey Jack, or Brie, as well, or anything else that happened to be in your fridge. So spread your wings and try some combinations. Sumptuous!!! It received rave reviews. Be sure to allow sufficient time for all the various steps. This isn't a quick, easy recipe, but can be assembled up to 3 days before, then finished in the microwave when you want it. Some preparation at your convenience yields stellar results later
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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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Bread Machine Rolls

Reviewed: Nov. 28, 2003
Lovely, yeasty rolls. Make only what you will consume in one sitting, as they lose a lot of quality by the next day. Easy to make. Not the absolute best I've ever had, either in texture or taste, but a very good everyday dinner roll. Make them "brown and serve" style by baking them about 15-18 minutes at 250 degrees, removing them before any browning has occurred. Cool completely and freeze. When ready, take out what you need, brush with egg wash, and bake on a cookie sheet in preheated 400 degree oven for 7 minutes, or until nicely browned.
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Gingerbread Biscotti

Reviewed: Jun. 11, 2009
Nice crispy, crunchy, spicy little treats. I followed the recipe as written with the oil, because butter is not normally used in genuine Italian biscotti, which never have a buttery taste. Those who think these taste bland might benefit from the addition of 1/2 tsp salt. Also, adding 1/4 tsp baking soda will keep the spices from giving a slightly bitter edge. If you want the spiciness to have a kick, 1/8 tsp black pepper or a couple of good shakes of cayenne will accomplish what you're looking for. I baked for exactly the time specified (25 minutes,) sliced and baked another 7 minutes per side. They came out properly light, dry and crunchy. Also avoided overmixing, which kept them from turning out tough. Painted the bottoms with white chocolate. Also, used half Splenda and half sugar. Delicious!
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Spicy Garlic Lime Chicken

Reviewed: Jan. 26, 2009
I'm scratching my head over the glowing reviews. To my palate garlic powder tastes nothing at all like garlic! To me, the flavor is plain nasty. I can't understand why anyone would use a fake-tasting product when the real thing is both inexpensive and readily available. If you want to make this dish worlds better, mash 3-4 garlic cloves to a paste. Apply to the chicken with the spices. For the sauce, mash another clove or two of garlic (or to taste) and replace that awful powder. Infinitely superior, fresh, and tasty. Try it this way - you won't believe the difference!
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Rosenmunnar

Reviewed: Dec. 9, 2008
Proof positive that the simplest recipes are almost always the best. How can four ingredients come together to taste so darned lovely? Easiest way to mix is to pulse in your food processor. Like almost everyone else, I found the number of cookies promised to be almost double the number it actually made. 31 exactly. Keep a tiny bit of confectioners sugar around for dipping whatever implement you use to make the indentations (handle of a wooden spoon, your thumb, measuring tsp, etc) so that it doesn't stick to the dough. Remember that the key to making them look picture perfect is to avoid the temptation to put more than a small dab of jam in the indentation. This avoids "oven boil over" and the consequent mess. A+ for a superb recipe that is not only simple to make, it bakes up looking like it belongs on the cover of Bon Appetit and tastes so wonderful, it's the stuff dreams are made of! Note: for ehuber and others who had trouble with the dough spreading when baked and tasting inedibly greasy, that's indicative of an inadequate measure of flour. Knead in more flour, 1-2 Tb at a time, until incorporated. When the dough stays together and doesn't cling to your hands, but is not crumbly, you've added enough. If it's sticky, add another Tb of flour. Allow to rest 20 minutes or more after you finish kneading in the flour to relax the gluten so that the finished product will not be tough. It just takes a little practice to develop the feel for dough with the proper consistency.
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Frozen Chocolate Chip Cookie Dough Balls

Reviewed: Jul. 11, 2009
Superb frozen treat. For those who found it to be too bland, add 1/8 tsp salt, which will bring the flavor to life. Also added a pinch of soda, since all chocolate chip cookie dough recipes have soda, and it tasted like the real thing. It was very soft, but I had no problem rolling into balls. I used them to bake into the cupcake recipe on this site (long name, like Choc. Chip Cookie Dough + Cupcake...) because the dough mixture in that recipe features eggs, and since it is not supposed to bake all the way through, I used this one instead as it does not feature the use of raw eggs. Absolutely perfect.
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