Shannon Recipe Reviews (Pg. 6) - Allrecipes.com (1514002)

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Hearty Minestrone

Reviewed: Nov. 11, 2012
Hearty is right! This soup is very filling and was perfect on this freezing Colorado night. I doubled the broth, using a combo of both chicken and beef bases, along with the cup of wine (I would reduce that a bit next time; maybe just 1/2 - 3/4c). This is definitely a "clean out your fridge" kind of soup. My version: Johnsonville's half pork/chicken sausage (no grease!) pinched into dime-sized pieces, like tiny meatballs. I diced up an onion, a stalk of celery, 3 carrots, 1 large potato, some leftover mushrooms and half a green pepper, 1 can of cannellini beans, and 1 can of petite diced tomatoes with juice. Simmered for closer to 45 minutes and decided to throw in a handful of small shell pasta about 20 minutes before it was done. I also tossed in a couple large garlic cloves, added both garlic/onion powders, a few shakes of dried parsley and extra basil in place of oregano (not a fan). Served with Stef's Super Cheesy Garlic Bread, also from this site, we had a delicious, flavorful dinner that will be repeated. Looking forward to leftovers tomorrow when the flavors have really melded. Will probably also freeze the remainder, as it made a HUGE pot!
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Pumpkin Pancakes

Reviewed: Nov. 11, 2012
A deliciously perfect twist on traditional pancakes! My allspice was expired, so I made up my own batch with cinnamon, nutmeg and cloves. I also combined the vinegar into the milk and let it sit for 5 minutes before adding to the other wet ingredients. The overall pumpkin flavor was subtle, which was fine by me, but next time I will double the spices as I LOVE a lot of spice. I really appreciate a fluffy pancake and the texture was spot-on. Even my pumpkin-hating hubby gobbled down a couple, and 4 year-old DD and I SCARFED these down! I foresee these fluffy pancakes as a regular weekend breakfast staple during the fall/winter months. The toppings and/or add-ins are endless: sauteed apples or pears, sweetened pumpkin flavored whipped cream, a cream cheese or real maple glaze, raisins, chocolate chips, nuts.....
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Tater Tot Taco Casserole

Reviewed: Nov. 10, 2012
A nice twist on the traditional tater tot casserole! I used the Taco Seasoning I on this site and my homemade red enchilada sauce, along with Crispy Crowns. I layered everything: pre-baked tots, a few ladles of enchilada sauce, shredded cheddar, meat/bean/corn/cheese mixture, and a final layering of sauce, then cheese. I subbed my mother-in-law's pinto beans (as they're just far better than canned black beans!) and only 1 cup of frozen corn. I liked mine with sour cream and crushed Doritos on top. Hubby loaded his with homemade HOT salsa, but 4 year-old DD wasn't too impressed. Easy, filling comfort food especially on a cold, snowy night.
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Cinnamon Ants on Sticks

Reviewed: Nov. 10, 2012
A ridiculously simple and healthy snack! I'd never used cinnamon before, but enjoyed the tasty addition. We generally use pomegranate craisins, but anything from raisins to chocolate chips would be a good add-on. Easy to pack in lunch boxes too. Enjoy!
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Mediterranean Breakfast Quinoa

Reviewed: Nov. 10, 2012
I wanted to love this, but I should've paid closer attention to the reviews. Seems like the two main complaints (too much salt and the fact that it boils over easily) were also my main issues with the recipe. I used 1/2 tsp sea salt, when using just a pinch would've sufficed. As a quinoa newbie, I forgot to rinse it, so I'll definitely do going forward. I didn't have dates (which I adore and would've improved the flavor), so I subbed out some pomegranate craisins. I also used toasted walnuts in lieu of the almonds and added more cinnamon while it was simmering. I will definitely tweak this for next time and try again, as I'm trying to incorporate more quinoa into our family's diet.
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Spiced Banana Bread

Reviewed: Nov. 3, 2012
Finally, a banana bread recipe which calls for SPICES that, in my opinion, are definitely lacking in more traditional banana bread recipes. I mixed all my dry ingredients together, including spices, and then mashed my 4 small, overripe bananas with a couple pinches of brown sugar, vanilla, a few shakes of cinnamon, and about 1/4c applesauce. After combining the eggs, I added a combo of 1/2 brown and 1/2 white sugars. In lieu of melted butter, I opted for 1/4c canola oil and 1/4c applesauce and whisked well. I then added my dry ingredients slowly, using a mixer. I also tossed in some pumpkin pie spice just for good measure. Using a single greased 9x5" loaf pan, the batter fit perfectly. The only downside was that at 350 for 45 minutes, it browned too quickly, so I had to use tented foil to ensure a non-burnt loaf. However, the middle still wasn't done, so I popped the loaf in for another 15 minutes, and turned the heat down to 325 and used the tented foil again. Next time, I'll just bake at 325 since my oven runs a little hot and increase the time a bit, watching closely that it doesn't brown too quickly. I love spices in quick breads and this one was really good!
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Caramel Corn Treat Bags

Reviewed: Oct. 31, 2012
I used 2 bags of microwave popcorn and found that it was too hard to evenly coat all that popcorn and spread it out on a baking tray, so next time I'll just do one bag at a time.....no fault of the recipe however; just not a well-thought out execution on the cook's part, ha! Since this was my practice run, I made up treat bags and sent to my daughter's daycare Halloweeen party. Add-ins I used were: candy corn, peanut butter M&Ms, and chocolate-covered pretzels. Tasty!
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Photo by Shannon

Mud and Worms

Reviewed: Oct. 31, 2012
Made for my daughter's Halloween party at her daycare and it went over very well! My daycare provider LOVED this idea and wants to do this each year now! I crushed an entire bag of a store brand sandwich cookie with chocolate filling, which I didn't remove because it really resembled muddy dirt (plus, I liked the consistency it gave). I used individual clear plastic cups, so each of the kids would have their own. I layered the "dirt" first, then a middle layer of pudding, and a final top layer of dirt again. Fun to make and eat, these will continue on as a yearly Halloween tradition!
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Bananas Foster II

Reviewed: Oct. 28, 2012
Really quick and easy! Impressive enough for company too! Followed the recipe to the letter (which is rare for me) and it was a very yummy dessert for my DD and to share over vanilla ice cream last night after dinner. Subbing out pecans would be delicious too. My only change for next time would be to use a dark or spiced rum (which I didn't have this time), as I think the flavor it would impart would bump this up a star for me. Yum, yum!
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Garlic Cheese Grits with Shrimp

Reviewed: Oct. 24, 2012
Fairly quick to get on the table on a busy weeknight. I will make this again, but will definitely tweak next time. First off, I'm not a lover of "processed cheese" at all, so I'll either use less than 6 oz next time, or substitute Alouette cheese spread. Like the majority of reviewers, I also used chicken broth and a little half and half for the grits, which was nice. I used the frozen shrimp tonight, but I'd prefer raw shrimp next time. I'd even like to experiment with some turkey sausage and extra veggies. I'll also use 2 roma tomatoes, diced, instead of only one. The lemony, garlic sauce was very good, but I did toss in some parsley and chives for color. Husband inhaled this and I honestly didn't think he'd dig this dinner. Overall, an easy, tasty dish to serve without a lot of prep work or fuss.
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Cheese and Nut Stuffed Shells

Reviewed: Oct. 22, 2012
Make sure you use good quality jumbo shells and be delicate with them! Followed the recipe fairly closely, except for sprucing up the ricotta mixture with garlic & onion powders and basil. I toasted my walnuts beforehand, as I believe it makes an honest difference to your dish. As mozzarella is a mild-flavored cheese, I chose to use a five-cheese Italian blend and it was a nice touch. I appreciated the "meaty" texture of the walnuts, though I would reduce them to a 1/2 c next time. Pine nuts would be an excellent substitution too. Preferring a thicker filling, I'll use only 1 egg next time. With plenty of wiggle room in this recipe, I can't wait to incorporate some variations (spinach in the filling, maybe using manicotti vs. shells or even making a lasagna?), as this tasty baked pasta will remain on our Meatless Monday rotation.
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Easy Sausage Pizza by Johnsonville®

Reviewed: Oct. 20, 2012
Using the Quick and Easy Pizza crust recipe on AR, which only takes 8-10 minutes in my oven, I knew immediately I'd need to brown the sausage first before adding it to the pizza. I used Johnsonville's half pork/half chicken sausage to save a few calories and it was wonderful! Honestly, I didn't measure out any of the ingredients, but rather, topped according to amount/taste preference. My 4 year-old DD's half only had sausage and cheese, but the adult half contained green peppers and white onion, which sauteed briefly with the sausage; pepperoni, and thinly sliced mushrooms, which I also barely sauteed with our favorite seasonings. Husband came home from a guys' night out and quickly demolished a couple pieces. He even polished off the remaining cold slices for breakfast this morning, and he's already requested this AGAIN for dinner tonight!
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Oven Fried Chicken III

Reviewed: Oct. 17, 2012
Using boneless/skinless thin-sliced chicken breasts, I simply eyeballed the ingredients, including spices. I used a combo of Italian bread crumbs and panko, which is my personal preference. It provides that crispy, "fried" texture/taste. To the mayo mixture, of which I used far less than 1 c, I added some garlic powder, black pepper, poultry seasoning and maybe 1/8 c parmesan cheese. I also added a few shakes of poultry seasoning to the bread crumb/panko mixture. Instead of adding salt to the dry ingredients, I simply sprinkled a bit of sea salt atop my chicken breasts. Instead of dirtying a baking dish, I lined a baking sheet with parchment paper, which I always do when baking chicken. Since I always buy the thin-sliced breasts, I only need 20 minutes at 400, which always renders perfectly done chicken. Of course, depending on the type of chicken you prepare and how hot your oven runs, the baking time/temp should be adjusted accordingly. While my chicken was baking, I whipped up some mashed potatoes and steamed broccoli. Easy, fast, and kid-friendly, this will be made when I need a quick weeknight dinner.
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Easy Polenta with Tomato Sauce

Reviewed: Oct. 15, 2012
This may have been the easiest, hassle-free dinner I've thrown together. Not only that, but it delivered exactly what I was hoping for taste and texture-wise. Following the advice of another reviewer, I only used 3 cups of liquid total (1 1/2 c chicken broth and 1 1/2 c of a combo of heavy cream and 2% milk). Before the broth/milk mixture came to a rolling boil, I whisked in some spices to taste: black pepper, a little onion & garlic powders, a dash of nutmeg, and some dried basil. With the addition of the 1 c parmesan cheese, the polenta was already thick, and honestly, I could've dug in at that moment. However, I poured the polenta into an 8x8" square glass baking dish, topped with an eyeballed amount of a hearty basil marinara sauce, then sprinkled some extra parmesan cheese and the remainder of a bag of an Italian blend shredded cheese I wanted to to use up, as well as a final sprinkling of basil. Baked for 12 minutes, and let it sit out for 5 minutes after removing it from the oven....perfect firm, yet creamy texture and taste! Served with a simple green tossed salad, this will be a regular in our Meatless Monday rotation for sure! Even paired with some Italian sausage and peppers, this polenta would be an excellent side dish as well. Bravo!
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Big Soft Ginger Cookies

Reviewed: Oct. 12, 2012
I first made these cookies a couple years ago and nearly ate myself sick! I've now made them for the second time tonight and they are every bit as delicious. Some tweaks I make with this recipe are: 1 T of orange juice instead of water, use 1/2 tsp baking soda and 1/2 tsp baking powder, and add more spices than called for (especially cloves, LOVE cloves). Finally, I sub out 1 c dark brown sugar instead of white, as I love the beautiful dark, molasses color I think ginger cookies should be. I've tried the balls vs. flattening them and honestly don't notice much of a difference, so I generally just shape them into balls and roll them in sugar. 8 minutes in my oven is perfect and these cookies deliver exactly the texture I love in all cookies....soft and chewy on the inside and just slightly crispy on the outside. I adore the smell of these cookies as I'm taking them out of the oven. They make my kitchen smell divine. LOVE this recipe!
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Big Cheeseburger Pizza

Reviewed: Oct. 6, 2012
Back in my hometown, there's a pizza chain, Valentino's, who makes a bacon cheeseburger pizza, which is my ultimate favorite pizza ever. My aim was to copycat that pizza, using this recipe as a guide. I had some turkey bacon to use up, so I diced it up and fried it using the drippings to sautee half a diced yellow onion. To the hamburger, I added a couple dashes of worchestershire sauce as well garlic/onion powders to taste and a little seasoning salt. I then mixed the bacon and onion right into the hamburger. I made the Quick and Easy Pizza Crust from this site too, which was wonderful. Instead of the Thousand Island dressing, I used a mix of ketchup and mustard and added a little mayo for good measure. Valentino's bakes the pickles right into their pizza, and so did I. I diced up a couple sandwich-sliced Claussens and added it directly to the ketchup-mustard mixture. I also added a thin layer of lettuce over the sauce and finally added the hamburger/bacon/onion mix. Covered with a mix of shredded cheddar, mozzarella, and an Italian blend and baked for about 10 minutes at 450. Husband devoured half the pizza by himself! This will be a repeat....I'd like to try again using the Thousand Island dressing now.
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Quick and Easy Pizza Crust

Reviewed: Oct. 6, 2012
Nothing but love for this recipe! Soft and doughy is just what I wanted and this recipe delivered exactly that. This was my first time making my own crust and I couldn't be happier with the outcome. I used AP flour and garlic-infused olive oil, following the recipe exactly. However, I did let the dough rise for closer to 45 minutes, only because I got distracted with laundry. I made this crust for the Big Cheeseburger Pizza, also from this site, and will use this crust as my "go-to" every time I do a homemade pizza now. I foresee a LOT of homemade pizzas in our weekend dinner rotations, now that I feel confident enough to make my own. Thanks for such an easy recipe to help first-time crust makers like me!
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Banana Crumb Muffins

Reviewed: Oct. 6, 2012
I had 4 small-medium sized bananas to use up today. I'd made these muffins before for a playdate, but today, wanted banana bread instead....with this crumb topping. I used a 9x5 loaf pan instead, baked for 30-35 minutes, and added the topping at the halfway mark. Perfect! Liberties I take when using this recipe include: adding 1 tsp vanilla and 1/4 c applesauce when I mash my bananas. I also sprinkle some pumpkin pie spice into the banana mixture. I sub canola oil for the melted butter as well. Instead of all white sugar, I use 1/2 c white and 1/4 c brown sugar, 3/4 tsp cinnamon and 1/4 tsp nutmeg to the flour mixture and use 1 1/2 tsp baking powder and 1/2 tsp baking soda. I follow the crumb topping directions to the letter, except for upping the cinnamon to 1/4 tsp. Love the results this way, for muffins or a loaf! My house smells heavenly on this very chilly Colorado fall day.
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Delicious Ham and Potato Soup

Reviewed: Sep. 30, 2012
I honestly can't say I loved this. As written, I imagine a pretty bland, blah soup, so I immediately knew I'd have to spruce it up to suit my family's tastes. Also, 3 1/2 cups of diced potatoes in only 3 1/4 cups water? I prefer a much higher liquid content when boiling, so I upped the water and used dissolved chicken base for extra flavoring. I also sauteed an entire small, diced onion in the butter and made the roux from there. I spruced up the roux with garlic & onion powders, pepper, a dash of nutmeg, parsley, and crushed thyme. Considering I used more liquid to boil the potatoes in, I drained out a couple cups and added the roux to the soup. I know the recipe is intended as a soup, but my family simply prefers a thicker, heartier soup, so I made a cornstarch slurry, added a cup of shredded cheddar cheese and some real bacon bits. Still just so-so. Husband and daughter liked it, however, I think I'll keep searching for another ham & potato soup.
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Chicken Pot Pie IX

Reviewed: Sep. 23, 2012
There's a reason nearly 5,200 people love this recipe so much! I'm no exception, but I did make some adjustments while following the heart of the recipe. First off, I used a 1lb pkg of boneless/skinless thighs in lieu of breasts, which I "crockpotted" in 1/2 c chicken broth and spices to taste (pepper and onion/garlic powders), then coarsely shredded. I boiled my veggies (potatoes added) in chicken broth as suggested, and reserved 2 c of that deliciousness. I sauteed half an onion (diced) in butter, adding some pepper, minced garlic, and thyme. Added the 1/3 c flour and used the entire reserved 2 c broth and 3/4 c of a combo of 2% milk and half & half. Once thickened, I combined it with my crockpotted chicken and added 1/2 c shredded parmesan cheese, just because. I transferred the mixture into a 9x13 baking dish and topped with two puff pastry sheets (prefer those over regular pie crust) brushed with an egg white. Baked at 375 for 25 min. Once out of the oven, I let it rest for a good 15 minutes before I served it. Not dry, not runny.....just absolutely heavenly, and I will definitely make this over and over again!
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