SPARKLER8666 Profile - (18354524)

cook's profile


Home Town: Grand Rapids, Michigan, USA
Living In: Wayland, Michigan, USA
Member Since: Mar. 2005
Cooking Level: Expert
Cooking Interests: Baking, Frying, Stir Frying, Slow Cooking, Asian, Mexican, Indian, Italian, Southern, Nouvelle, Middle Eastern, Mediterranean, Kids, Quick & Easy, Gourmet
Hobbies: Sewing, Gardening, Camping, Reading Books, Music, Charity Work
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About this Cook
I threw a Tuscan picnic for my own birthday once because I'd been dying to have one, but couldn't get enough people interested. Since it was my birthday they had to come... they all loved it. I have a hard time getting people around me to be adventurous sometimes.
My favorite things to cook
Wet Burritos, Chicken Enchiladas, Spinach Artichoke Dip, Pita Bread, Quick Breads and Muffins, Chocolate Chip Scones, Lemon Chicken, Crab Cakes with Lemon Basil dipping sauce, Eggs Benedict, Couscous, Stew, Spinach Tomato Salad served on Bruschetta, Zuppa Toscana (everyone says mine is way better than Olive Garden's,) Anything fudgy and dark chocolate!
My favorite family cooking traditions
Plum or Peach Dumplings, Waffles, Gingersnaps, Mom's Chocolate Butter Rum Fudge, Using lots of garlic and onion, Turkey in beer every year at Christmas!
My cooking triumphs
My husband loves to camp so I have learned how to pack and cook delicious food in the wild. (We do have a campstove...) My recipe for Paradise Pancakes. And my holiday turkey and stuffing gets better every year. My Salmon Tacos and Pork Tenderloin with a Blackberry Wine and Triple Sec Reduction. My own recipe for Chicken salad which includes poaching the chicken breasts in orange juice and chicken broth with apricots. The ingredients of finished salad include: toasted pecans, chopped apricots and red grapes. It is awesome, crunchy, creamy and slightly sweet with a bit of tart.
My cooking tragedies
Having kids means burning food. I NEVER used to burn food... I waited until I was 30 to have my first child and since then I have experienced more burned or overcooked food than I ever thought possible. Part of the problem is I can tell by smell usually when stuff I am baking is done, but I get distracted by the hooligans and next thing I know...
Recipe Reviews 91 reviews
These were good, but just a little too crunchy on the exterior and a bit chewy overall for me to give them a 5, probably from the excess butter on the crunch and the addition of the egg for the "chew". Some recipes call for letting the dough rest before baking, and if I try this recipe again I will do that and see if that makes them more tender. The upside however, is that they were super moist in the interior, and the butter lent good flavor. However, I like to mix in "stuff" for flavor anyway, my favorite additions are coconut and chocolate chips, but if I don't have those on hand I add little nuggets of dried fruit (apricot chunks, dried cranberries, pineapple chunks) and nuts. So, for me the "extra" buttery-ness and excess sugar are overkill. I usually only add 2-3 Tbsp of sugar not a half cup. I went ahead and put in a 1/3 of a cup, but knew it would be way too sweet with the coconut if I added the full half cup. I also liked the quantity, I divided the dough in half and got 16 decent sized scones. So, overall they were good, but still not nearly as good as James Beard's recipe that he got from his mother. With only 5 ingredients (no butter and no egg,) it produces a moist, rich, a tender crumb, and soft lovely scone with very little effort. (You can look it up online using a search engine.)

1 user found this review helpful
Reviewed On: Feb. 5, 2014
Mushroom Orzo
I made this tonight as a side dish for country style ribs. It was a very friendly and forgiving recipe, as I didn't have the wine or fresh parsley or pearl onions. I also changed up the order, sauteing the mushrooms until done b4 adding the orzo. Some reviewers said it took a lot more time and liquid, but I didn't find that to be true. Could the brand of orzo make a difference? In any case, I used 16 oz of orzo, but kept the amount of butter the same (less fat.) I used about 1 c. of diced frozen onion and a low sodium chicken stock concentrate mixed with the water instead of wine. I added a cube of frozen chopped basil to sub for the parsley, 2 fresh frozen garlic cubes instead of dried, a whole package of sliced mushrooms, and a container of shredded grand cru instead of parmesan. I added 3 cups of water (since I doubled the pasta) and put a lid on the skillet, letting it simmer on low for about 5 minutes while I made cole slaw and threw some frozen steamer peas into the microwave. It was sticking badly when I got back to it so I added another cup of water and managed to scrape it off and keep going. After that I left the lid off and stirred pretty constantly for no more than 5 more minutes, tested the pasta and found it done. Added fresh ground black pepper with the cheese, and voila! It wasn't a spectacular flavor but it was yummy, creamy, comfort food, a great foil for the bbq ribs. I am adding this to our regular rotation! Quick and easy. :)

0 users found this review helpful
Reviewed On: Dec. 27, 2013
Cauliflower Au Gratin
This is an excellent basic recipe to riff on, which really are the best kind. It is flexible, stands up to changes and substitutions. The results are creamy, cheesylicious cauliflower that you might even get your picky eaters to try. Here are the changes I made, just to give you an idea of what can be done. I had a huge head of cauliflower (purchased for $1 at produce stand) and 3 smallish heads of broccoli veronica. Seemed like I needed more cheese sauce as a result, so I increased the sauce by 1/2 (3 Tbsp Butter, 3 Tbsp flour, 1 and 1/2 c. of milk, etc.) I had only scallions so I chopped up 1 and 1/2 c. of them. I had only 1/2 c. sharp cheddar so I subbed in colbyjack (obviously used more of that as well.) I love nutmeg in my cream sauce so I tripled the pinch of nutmeg and ground some fresh black pepper in there (definitely more than a few pinches.) This recipe is fairly low sodium, a little too low sodium for my tastes so I added about 1/2 tsp sea salt. So I followed the steps for the white sauce and kept the proportions except for seasoning, followed the cooking instructions including steaming until veggies were tender and baked it off with extra cheese on top. It was beautiful, tasted wonderful, and I got no complaints at all from the 18 year old, 12 year old, 98 year old, hubby or myself. (Do you know how rare it is to find a recipe they all like? lol, good job Amy W.)

22 users found this review helpful
Reviewed On: Oct. 2, 2013
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