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Fried Plantains

Reviewed: Oct. 21, 2009
Wow, there is so much confusion around plantains. I was looking up recipes to post pictures and a lot of people have them mixed up. I grew up with them, so lets see if I can help a bit. Ok, there is only 1 kind of plantain but there are 3 colors, depending on its age. Order is green, yellow, then black. Green is for TOSTONES, or light gold pieces that are cut into rounds, fried, mashed and fried again. They're salty. Personally I like to throw on some minced garlic on top out of a jar with some juice and a sprinkle of salt. Some people go for garlic powder instead. Then you have PLATANOS MADUROS, or ripe plantains that are used to make this sugary version. The color to make these is when your plantain is BLACK. The riper the plantain, the sweeter it is and that's the trick. It should be slightly mushy to the touch. The best way to tell if its good to fry is if, once peeled, its still got a tan color, not brown or black. In my family, we cut these at an angle. These are perfectly sweet as is, so I don't add anything extra. The last is yellow. These are usually not hard enough for tostones, and definitely not soft enough for platanos maduros so some people chop them up and boil them to eat either in or along with soups. They don't taste that good boiled so its not so popular. If it were me, I'd wait til it goes black and make these yummy sugary ones. Hope this helps!
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Spanish Flan

Reviewed: Feb. 28, 2010
I like that it has less eggs and it takes little ingredients for the flan but it is missing a key ingredient for caramel. 1. Add some WATER! I learned this from foodnetwork, add til it looks like "wet sand." With plain sugar you're more opt to burn it. 2. Keep stirring, constantly 3. Take it off the heat the moment it reaches the color you want and have your dish(es) ready because it will harden almost immediately. I use individual glass custard cups. 4. Sugar likes to recrystallize, as one reviewer noticed, so add a few drops of something acidic. I always have lemon juice on hand so I use that. 5. Try medium heat, med low is too low. You can go higher but be careful. Then for the flan, it is custom to give it a "baño de maria" or "water bath" by inserting your flan dish into a larger dish, and filling the larger dish with hot water that reaches about halfway of your flan dish. It prevents it from cooking too much. And last but not least, I learned from experience that you NEED to give flan many hours of refrigeration, preferably overnight. You need to give the caramel time to re-liquefy, otherwise you'll be like my first flan ever and have hard candy discs! I hope this helps, its truly not difficult with a little advice and a bit of practice. Happy baking!
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Spicy Beef Vegetable Stew

Reviewed: Oct. 28, 2009
This was pretty good and so easy! I did change a couple things. I cook the meat alone, drain, then add the onion because I like the juice from the onion, it adds more flavor. Also, I didn't have enough time to let this simmer for 8 hours so instead I used a 15 or 16 oz can of sliced carrots and skipped out on the celery, so nothing had to become tender. I left it on low til my husband came home, 4 hours later, and dinner was warm and ready to go. The only problem with this was something I can remedy later and thats why it still got 5 stars. Too spicy! I will definitely make this again, but with 1/4 tsp pepper next time. That should probably do the trick. Thanks for the upload! Another easy stew recipe to go in my permanent collection. Update: Since it was so spicy, adding a bit of water to the leftovers and reheating made it more manageable to eat! Try this if it comes out too hot for your taste. Update #2: it was definitely the pepper that gave this heat. Green chiles are never hot, but if you do want to add more heat, then I would suggest maybe adding jalapeño instead.
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Tres Leches (Milk Cake)

Reviewed: Sep. 17, 2010
I love this cake, it was exactly what I wanted. I grew up eating Tres Leches cake, and the only problem I always had buying them from some stores or bakeries is that they were sickeningly sweet. This one wasn't like that at all. Now, the only thing different I did was make a different frosting since I hardly ever have cream. Also, I read mixed reviews on separating the eggs. I didn't do it and since I liked it as is, I don't have a reason to do more work! But that's just me. Also, another reviewer mentioned that the cake is soggy. YES! That's how it's supposed to be. When you sink your fork into it, the milks should ooze out. It shouldn't be swimming in milk, neither should it be dry. If you don't like the idea of a wet cake, then I suggest you try a more traditional cake because you may not like this one. Thanks for posting the recipe!
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Zippy Summer Shrimp

Reviewed: Oct. 14, 2009
This dish quickly became one our favorite shrimp meals. My hubby now requests this pretty often. I've tried this with both large and small shrimp and the large shrimp is definitely the way to go. The smaller shrimp SEVERELY dumbs down the flavor and nobody wants that. Also, it was a tad too spicy for me (perfect for my husband) so I now use 1/4 tsp of pepper flakes and he can pour on as many as he likes on his plate afterwards :). For shrimp, we also always buy deveined and preferably with tails off for less work and its perfect if you're short on time. Also, for us, there wasn't enough sauce to really seep into the pasta, so I kept all as is except used 1 pound of shrimp instead of 2 and poured it over 1 pound of pasta (equivalent to doubling the sauce). Don't be scared with so many seasonings in this...it works beautifully. Delicious, easy and is ready in such a short time it deserves all 5 stars.
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Candied Yams

Reviewed: Dec. 4, 2009
This is a good basic recipe, but some things can be done to take it over the top. First, it definitely needs cinnamon! I sprinkled some over top the marshmallows (about 1/2 a tsp as I doubled the recipe). I also just simmered the butter and sugar and then poured over top the yams for a more even covering. Last, I included a bit of the canned syrup, for extra yam flavor and everyone liked it. I didn't use all of it because then I'd have yam soup! Also, knowing from experience, I know that mini marshmallows can melt too easily so large marshmallows are the way to go in my opinion. Someone mentioned putting in some vanilla extract...that sounds really good and I might just try that next time!
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Tostones

Reviewed: Sep. 28, 2009
This is very similar to the steps I take to make my own tostones, even though my family is Cuban. I believe the steps do need a little tweaking because as is I think you could burn the tostones. Ok, if your tostones are not fully submerged in oil, fry for 2-3 minutes on one side then flip to submerge the other half. You can also use a Fry Daddy and have it all submerged for 3 minutes. ONCE THEY COOL OFF, THEN you mash them with something with a flat bottom. A mug or a cup will do nicely. Make sure they're cool or it might come out mushy. I hate to go against tradition but my tostonera is going to waste because it provides a sideways mashing ability and the tostones come out lopsided. For tostones, also make sure your plaintain is green. If its got more yellow than green, it might be too soft for this and is best to be held off for platanos maduros once they darken. Lastly, I know this may sound weird however, I'd say skip the garlic powder and go with real minced garlic from a jar. Pour it on the tostones with some juice. Yes, its raw but the plantain kills its pungency and all you taste is yummy goodness. Salt to taste (light sprinkle will do) and you've got a wonderful side dish on your hands!
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Mexican Rice II

Reviewed: Sep. 17, 2009
This is an incredibly easy, delicious recipe. I can't think of anything to give it other than 5 stars. I did add 1 tsp minced garlic and since I did not have garlic salt, I used 1/2 tsp garlic powder and a dash of salt with delicious results. I do recommend the rice cooker for rice dishes. If you have one, try it. I love the rice cooker because its easy and fool proof. Sometimes rice can be a pain, so if you are looking to impress, take no chances...just don't eat the thin, scorched layer on the bottom! If you do prefer the stove, here are some tips. 1. Your rice is NOT going to "puff" while being sauteed. I don't know why it said that. Rice will puff, or cook rather, when its completely submerged in liquid. Instead, the first step is meant to give it a more golden color in the end. 2. If you find your rice more "wet" than you'd like, leave on simmer but take off the cover. It will evaporate the extra liquid. 3. To make rice soft: Don't take off the cover while cooking, let your rice stand for about 10 minutes after cooking, then fluff with a wooden spoon, and let stand again for 5 more minutes. 4. If its still not soft enough to eat after cooking, re-cover and cook another 5-10 minutes and refer back to #3. Hope this helps!
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Cuban Ropa Vieja

Reviewed: Feb. 9, 2010
Soooo yummy. I've been on a search for recreating food from my childhood and I found the recipe for ropa vieja! One unfortunate thing is that our local store doesn't have flank steak so I had to make due with stew meat. It's a pretty good substitute taste wise though, just looks funny because it's short cuts and not long strips. I also substituted dry oregano for the cilantro to make it more true to what I used to eat. Cilantro, tortillas, all that stuff is more mexican. Last thing, after browning the meat, I removed it and added the stock to the pan and scraped up all the lil bits of beefy yumminess, then added it to the slow cooker for that extra flavor. Love this recipe, its exactly what I was looking for and I get to stick it all in a slow cooker and let it do the work for me!
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Fried Ice Cream

Reviewed: Oct. 15, 2009
This is restaurant quality. A couple changes here. I used Rice Crispies cereal instead of corn flakes and used chocolate ice cream instead of vanilla. These are just what I had on hand and they worked perfectly. I let this chill overnight and it was perfectly whole. I went for the max amount of seconds, 15, and its way too much. I found that it should be 10, if that, so that is the only difference I'm making next time. Also, I did no measurements. Just poured plenty of cereal in a ziploc bag, sealed out the air and crushed with my hands til it was fine and sprinkled the cinnamon after frying. Like anything being fried, I find that double or triple coating helps maintain consistency. Last thing...a reviewer advised to chill after frying. You should opt for this if you want a more firm ice cream but if you want it warm and slightly melted, eat immediately. It's good either way. Feel free to experiment as well! This was lots of fun and very yummy :D. Update 10/20/09: 2 coats and 10 seconds cooks these babies to perfection and doesn't melt your ice cream. Also make sure your egg is beaten well otherwise its a gloppy mess. I will definitely be making these again and again, ty!
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Oyster Dressing (Stuffing)

Reviewed: Jan. 11, 2010
I think this is the first time I give a recipe a 1/5. I actually delayed dinner to make this stuff for my husband and all for it to end up in the garbage. Should have listened to Courtney5Cent on this one, this is beyond extremely dry. You might as well open a can of bread crumbs and stick like 3 oysters in it and dig in with a spoon because that is what it looked like...oysters drowning in a sea of sand. I had a feeling too with so much bread crumbs and almost nothing to give this thing moisture. The liquid from the oysters was no where near enough. It needs broth or SOMETHING that's liquid to balance all the crumbs but I'm so annoyed at wasting money with this recipe that I'm not going to bother with this again.
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Nobody's Strawberry Watermelon Shakedown

Reviewed: May 22, 2010
This is pretty tasty! The fruit blend is fantastic. This is a perfect way to get rid of leftover fruit, especially those pieces that are still good to eat but don't look pretty enough to go into fruit salads, etc. I also used lemon juice as others suggested and instead of plain yogurt (we never have plain in this house), I used all cream although next time I will just use all parts milk for less calories. The other thing I would say is give this a good taste test before serving because its all going to depend on your fruit, whether it needs more or less sugar. Mine needed a tad more sugar. Last thing is don't let the 1 serving thing fool you. With that "one serving" I had enough for me, my husband and my toddler!
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Peppered Focaccia

Reviewed: Dec. 3, 2010
This whole thing was absolutely impressive from how easy it is to how tasty it ended up being. For the first one, I used Parmesan cheese instead of mozzarella and used olive oil for more flavor. Everyone loved it. I used the other half of the dough for the next day and gave it a Mexican twist to match the theme of the night. I used chili powder, garlic powder, cayenne for heat since I didn't have jalapenos, cilantro and chives for herbs. People devoured this one too! It's so versatile. I did end up using another for pizza but I much preferred this as a wonderful side. This is great because you get that "made from scratch" taste without spending an entire day making it!
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8 users found this review helpful
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Fettuccine with Sweet Pepper-Cayenne Sauce

Reviewed: Oct. 20, 2009
Great way to use up leftover sour cream. I read other reviews that said they had a runny mess. I had zero problems with that. Instead of using 3/4 of a box of pasta, go ahead and use the whole 16 oz. The more pasta, the more to soak up the sauce. Also, I read a review that suggested not to cook the sour cream, so I didn't. I cooked the bell pepper with some onion until it was softened and added garic at the end so it cooks up but not burns. I drained any juices. Then I took it off the burner and added the sour cream so it starts to warm up slightly while I add the rest of the ingredients, including 1/2 cup of broth, not 3/4. I kept mixing it, noticed it still had chunks of sour cream so I put it on simmer until the sauce was creamy which took seconds. Poured it over the pound of pasta and there was no sauce at all left in the pot or running on our plates. I also put in 1/4 cayenne, but might have been too little. Oh and I just used 1 large bell pepper. I ended up chopping instead of julienning out of sheer habit, doesn't really matter anyway hehe. I served this w/ some flavored grilled chicken breast on top. Delish! Update 10/22/09: I served up leftovers with 2 cut up chicken breasts, let them marinate a few min with lemon juice, salt, pepper and basil, plopped them in the oven for 10 minutes at 400 degrees. My husband loved this with the pasta. Try if you like, its super easy and very tasty :)
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7 users found this review helpful
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Best Ever Popcorn Balls

Reviewed: Aug. 9, 2010
Boy these are good! I bought popcorn just to make this recipe. On accident I bought kettle corn, but no matter, I just decreased the sugar by a tad since it's slightly sweet on its own. What I did do with the mixture is keep it on low to medium low and wait til the marshmallows melted all the way through, then bumped it up to medium to start a boil. The mixture was so creamy and delicious on its own (I may have snuck a taste from the tiny bits leftover ;D) and it held together so nicely. I had a little assembly line of plastic wrap already set up and it was a breeze! I had my husband taste, to which he said, "omg this is awful!" then gave me a wink and ate like half of it in one bite, lol. It was so tasty, easy and super fun to make that I can say this will be made again!
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6 users found this review helpful
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Carne Con Papas

Reviewed: Mar. 18, 2009
This recipe won me over with its authenticity to a Cuban dish. Very good stuff, however, I did make some changes because some things were strange to me and I can see how one person thought the potatoes came out overdone. Ok, first of all...cannot find achiote powder? Why not try this. Skip the salt and use Sazon Goya (Cuban seasoning packets) that include Azafran (food coloring). If your local supermarket carries it, you will find it in the ethnic isle. I halved the recipe and used about 1/4 of the packet, given it can carry a kick. Feel free to add more or less to suit your taste. Use food coloring when all else fails. Ok, now here are the changes. 1. The pressure cooker time given here and in my instruction booklet I felt was too much so I put in the water, meat and bullion cubes (given that bullion cubes are different, make sure to use as much as it indicates for the water you put in)into the pressure cooker for 20 min. and it was already cooked throughout. You can always add more water and put it back on if its not done. 2. While the meat was cooking, I diced the bell pepper and onion and sauted in a small frying pan with the olive oil until it was soft. I put on simmer and added the tomato sauce, minced garlic (I use pre-minced garlic in a jar) and the spices. 3. When the meat was done, I added in the cooking white wine and potatoes that I cut up in small chunks so that they are ready quickly. Now its a 5/5!
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Chinese Chicken Fried Rice I

Reviewed: Jul. 13, 2010
I'm giving this a 4 because like others said it's a great start. I used Marytee's advice and added some butter, garlic powder, minced garlic, pepper and most importantly, oyster sauce. I tried a recipe for fried rice with just basically soy sauce and it felt like it was missing key ingredients. The main ones I think are sesame oil and oyster sauce so don't skimp on those. Also, I recommend using low sodium soy sauce because mine was a tad too salty and I used less than it called for. I did also make an extra egg (I halved the recipe) because it wasn't nearly enough with just one. I think if you make it as is with the additions that others recommended, you will have a dish that is very similar to what you would eat in a Chinese restaurant. I know at least for me that's exactly what I was looking for!
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Amazing Southwest Cilantro Lime Mango Grilled Chicken Sandwiches

Reviewed: Jul. 23, 2013
This was delicious. Now, since it was a regular weekday and I did not want to spend so much time in the kitchen, I simply cut the chicken breasts into bite sized pieces and sauteed with the marinade/grilled ingredients, eyeballing how much of each and adding the cilantro last so it doesn't wilt. I placed large tortillas in the microwave with a slice of cheese and let that melt. I added the chicken, then the salsa on top and wrapped them up into a burrito. Would the chicken taste better marinated? I'm sure it would. I would happily do that for company but for a regular evening meal I think I will stick with the way I made it.
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Cracked Sugar Cookies I

Reviewed: Jun. 22, 2010
I was so happy today after baking these because I finally found the sugar recipe I was looking for! This is exactly the cookie we wanted: little chewy on the outside, soft in the middle and just right on sweetness, not too much that makes you cringe or so little that it begs for frosting. My husband nodded in approval. He said all it needs is sprinkled sugar on top next time. I do suggest you examine your cookies after baking because mine needed a total of about 12 minutes to finish baking. They were super pale still at 10 minutes. I also am going to use a tablespoon or something next time to measure because the cookies were slightly off in size from one another. It's just minor details so no worries really. The important part is my memory of biting into it not expecting all that much after having made so many other sugar recipes, stopping and saying "omg, this is it!" Thanks so much Pam!
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Chicken Fettuccini Alfredo

Reviewed: May 9, 2010
I think this recipe has great potential to be a 5 star recipe but as is it has too much going on. You know usually I like to season the chicken with something becuase it can be quite bland in a recipe but honestly in this one I was thinking it could do without the herbs as they overpowered the dish. As for the alfredo sauce, I used heavy cream instead of half and half and used whole milk and it was heavenly...til the very end. Plop, plop, in went the tomatoes and where they fell there was a ring of pink....noooo! The sauce then became a lesser version of white instead of pristine like I like it. I love tomatoes but I don't think they belonged in here, taste wise included. I also think it needs less sour cream. I think I'll try this again but stripping it of the things that I don't think add anything to it, but instead take away from the natural flavor of the sauce, which is the milk/cream and cheese.
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