Karen Ayala Simmons Profile - Allrecipes.com (1545197)

cook's profile

Karen Ayala Simmons

Karen Ayala Simmons
Home Town:
Living In: Portland, Oregon, USA
Member Since: Sep. 2003
Cooking Level: Not Rated
Cooking Interests: Baking, Slow Cooking, Asian, Mexican, Italian, Mediterranean, Healthy, Dessert, Kids, Gourmet
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Eggplant parmesan
Karen Ayala
Karen Ayala's pumpkin pie
About this Cook
I am a married and 29 years old.An ex lab biologist turned stay at home mom to a 3 yr old and 18 month old boys .. I began cooking regularly 4 yrs ago and like it. I also love art and as my hobbies I like to create jewelry , dance and photography. I have found that my chemistry and science background really helps me to undersand that cooking is like a huge biology project and chemistry experiment followed by a physics exercise with an artful ending. I just love it and enjoy experimenting.
My favorite things to cook
I like to prepare wholesome food for my children. I love the fact that children need lot's of calories so you can actually make their food flavorful and filling. Their food has to have eye appeal and a good nose. Preparing their food helps me to focus on attractive presentation and wholesomeness. Not to mention that the best feeling in the world comes when a super picky 3 year old loves the Spinach lasagna that you made for him. I have learned that the food that gets the best reviews from friends and family is that which is Sweet, salty, sour, bitter, creamy and spicy all at the same time. Like an herb BBQ chix salad with fruit, cheese and creamy lime dressing. I try to experiment with all those flavors as much as I can.
My favorite family cooking traditions
During the holidays I like being Untraditional. It comes from my mom. She is the kind of cook that will make Ribs and cheesecake for Thanksgiving.. Or Salvadorean tamales for Christmas. As for myself, as a mother to young children I look forward to creating our own traditions. Like Building a gingerbread house for Christmas every year and therefore cementing the smell of gingerbread to family, closeness and food.
My cooking triumphs
Just lately... I can go to a restaurant and figure it out how to make a dish just by tasting it. It makes me feel so good to be able to re-create an entree in a better, healthier more original way. I suppose that is what experience allows you to do. I love taking a "gourmet" (fatty) meal and converting it in to a body wise Treat. I Got a tiramisu recipe from this website and after a few adjustments I've made it my own. It's one of the most requested recipes in my book. But the best triumphs come when the people I love take the meals I make and love them.
My cooking tragedies
When I was 18, I tried making tamales by myself for the first time in a steamer. I was cooking for my then boyfriend. I tried to do it from memory as I had seen my great grandmother, grandmother and Mom do. I knew the ingredients by heart but not the measurements. First mistake was that I did it all by myself and it takes a very long time to prepare all the ingredients. Well not only did I get the proportions wrong I also under estimated and under seasoned everything for fear of making it too salty or too spicy. It took me hours to assemble the tamales and When I placed the corn husks in to the steamer I didn't have enough of them to fill out the pot so they kept falling and tipping over.( Making tamales is a big batch situation). Too much work to just make a few. What a mess, they came out dry and bland. I learned that Having the right proportions and help is invaluable for a big time meal like this one.
Recipe Reviews 6 reviews
Eggplant Parmesan II
Recipe needed a little manipulation but it turned out so good. I added spinach and used Muir glen tomatos. My husband and preschooler loved it. I am giving this recipe 5 stars just because it is a great way to experiment and encourage you to try cooking with eggplant (wich is great and yummy). I read most of the reviews before starting out. The most common problems seemed to be the texture of the eggplant after cooking (undercooking) and the bitterness? (Not really an issue). So I sliced these very very Thinly, about a quarter of an inch. Salting eggplant to remove bitterness didn't make sense to me because salt will induce osmosis and draw out water which you need to keep the flesh plump. You do not want a withered eggplant. I did my own test and it seemed that the part between the skin and flesh was the most bitter? so I just peeled it more deeply and let it sit in fresh cold water for 15 minutes. The eggplant was not bitter at all. But I think that may also have to do with the variety of eggplant available to you. So try a different variety if your eggplant is really bitter. Finally after cooking my dish for 30 minutes the flesh was still chewy so I had to let it cook for an additional 30 minutes. At this point the eggplant had a great texture. So either the cooking temperature or the time frame was off. So other than these minor setbacks, The meal was really good, it was like an eggplant lasagna. Thanks for the recipe I will make it again.

548 users found this review helpful
Reviewed On: Dec. 4, 2005
Southwestern Turkey Soup
Excellent soup! My family loved it. I added half a can of corn(rinsed) and half a can of pinto beans(rinsed) for that authentic southwestern taste. I topped with extra sharp cheddar and jack and fresh cilantro. Also I had some french bread for Dipping. (My three year old loved doing that) Or you could serve it with crispy tortilla strips. (that's how my husband likes it.Also remember to keep stirring this as some of the solids may stick to the bottom. Good recipe thanks.

67 users found this review helpful
Reviewed On: Nov. 29, 2005
Enchilada Sauce
Good beginning recipe for enchilada sauce but I found it bland on its own. I grew up on the authentic stuff in Latin America with the Mole style type. I think that you would have to adjust this to your own personal taste for sweetness, salt, spicy etc. I added extra cumin and made sure that I used a good (excellent?)quality Chili powder. If your chili powder doesn't really taste good this recipe won't either.

161 users found this review helpful
Reviewed On: Nov. 29, 2005

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