Serena Recipe Reviews (Pg. 1) - Allrecipes.com (18842322)

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Pumpkin Pie Bread

Reviewed: Oct. 27, 2010
I must agree with a previous poster - 1 cup of oil is far too much! I used 1/4 cup oil and 3/4 cup unsweetened applesauce. I also used 2 cups of white sugar and 1 cup of brown sugar instead. I will venture into cutting back the sugar too and see how the recipe fairs with less sugar. All in all - this may not be the healthiest bread but it came out DELICIOUS! Batter made 24 muffins (paper liners filled to the top) - baked for 25 minutes (be sure to rotate the pans every 10 minutes).
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2 users found this review helpful

Paella I

Reviewed: Oct. 26, 2010
I admit, I did make some minor changes to the recipe. However, my rating for the recipe is based on the fact if you follow the directions you end up with a risotto consistency and NOT paella. The recipes calls for too much liquid. Despite knowing the recipe called for too much liquid, I went ahead and followed the directions and was greatly disappointed. For "rice" it's best to use 1 part rice and 1.5 parts liquid. When using arborio rice if you use more liquid you get risotto. 12 oz. of rice is 1.75 cups of rice - so the maximum amount of liquid you should use is a generous 2.5 cups. I omitted the white wine for religious reasons - but used 3 1/2 cups of liquid and ended up with risotto. Despite my best attempts to boil the extra liquid off it didn't work. With all that said I would highly recommend cutting back on the liquid by at least 1 cup - and adding more, if needed, as you stir occasionally. I also used soy chorizo (aka soyrizo) instead of pork chorizo. I recommend using 1/4 tsp saffron and 1/4 tsp of smoked paprika (or Spanish paprika). This will increase the flavor greatly and is more traditional. I would start with 1 tsp of salt and add more if needed (depends on how salty your broth is), use 1/4 tsp of black pepper. I used 1 cup of peas and I tripled the amount of shrimp. Overall it was tasty but disappointing. Next time I'll make it with less liquid and will most likely be pleased.
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23 users found this review helpful

Butter Chickpea Curry

Reviewed: Aug. 11, 2010
Very flavorful. I opted to use a 15 oz can of diced tomatoes and pureed them in the food processor with 1 serrano chile instead of the tomato soup to keep the dish inline with Indian cuisine. I used the exact amount of spices and I completely forgot that my curry powder is exceptionally spicy so next time I will reduce the curry powder to 1 tsp instead of 2. I also nixed the heavy cream in order to keep the dish lower in calories and fat and opted to spoon plain yogurt on top of the dish when serving to cut back the heat of the dish a little. My 5, 4, and 2 year old loved it as well as my husband and I. I will definitely be making this dish again!
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1 user found this review helpful

Coconut Macaroons III

Reviewed: Aug. 9, 2010
I did not care for this recipe.
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2 users found this review helpful

Creamy Italian Dressing I

Reviewed: Aug. 8, 2009
I agree wholeheartedly with the comments by the recipe's owner/poster Cathy - it's not fair to give a recipe a poor rating if you didn't follow the exact ingredients/directions... However, I just HAD to change a few things - primarily in an effort to cut back on the fat in this recipe. I used 1/2 c. mayonnaise and 1/2 c. fat free plain yogurt. I also used a full teaspoon of homemade Italian Seasonings (equal parts basil, oregano, thyme, and half parts marjoram, sage and a touch of rosemary). Since we don't use red wine vinegar I substituted for natural, unfiltered apple cider vinegar instead... blended everything together and it was divine. The onions I had on hand were a bit strong, but the the flavor overall was still great. A sweeter onion such as a Vidalia, Walla Walla or Texas Sweet would have been better suited for this recipe. I also used fresh garlic instead of powder for a slighter more crisp garlic undertone (garlic powder has a bit of an aftertaste to me that I'm not particularly fond of). Overall this was still amazingly tasty and much less fat! Give it a try!
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4 users found this review helpful

Chicken Souvlaki Gyro Style

Reviewed: Sep. 19, 2008
This was good "all together" - but the chicken surprisingly lacked a bit of flavor despite 3+ hours of marinating. I ended up having to season the chicken after grilling it because it was a bit bland. I have my own tzatziki recipe and used that instead of the one listed. Once assembled into a sandwich with the sauce, tomato, red onion, kalamata olives and feta - it was delicious - but certainly not outstanding. I used a homemade balsamic dressing made with 1/2 c. balsamic vinegar, 1/2 c. olive oil, thyme, oregano, and salt/pepper to taste (next time I will add garlic).
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2 users found this review helpful

Moroccan Lentil Soup

Reviewed: Sep. 19, 2008
I'm quite surprised this recipe is called "Moroccan" as the significant ingredients aren't used in Moroccan cooking (my hubster is Moroccan so I know Moroccan cooking). With that said - I altered the recipe as follows: I used brown (aka green) lentils as these are more traditional (and added a handful of red lentils for texture), 1 heaping tablespoon of ginger paste, 1 can of red kidney beans, 1 can northern white beans, 1 can diced tomatoes and 1 can stewed tomatoes. Do NOT use cardamom or garam masala (these are INDIAN spices not Moroccan). I strongly recommend salt/pepper to taste, cumin, and RAS EL HANOUT. Ras el hanout is a classic blend of Moroccan spices - similar to garam masala but different. Ras el hanout varies from one Moroccan to another but generally it's the following spices (usually whole spices all ground together but you can use the ground versions as well): >> I pressure cooked everything together for about 10 minutes and voila - delicious! Here's a helpful cooking tip: If cooking on the stove (or even the crockpot)- the lentils will cook faster if you do NOT add the salt or tomatoes until the end... salt and the acidity of the tomatoes prevents beans/lentils from softening which will prolong the cooking time. ***UPDATE*** Recipe with Indian spices is good too - make sure to double the spice though.
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866 users found this review helpful

Onions Au Gratin

Reviewed: Sep. 16, 2008
I really wanted this recipe to be great - but it was a disaster! I should have known something would go wrong since onions give off a lot of water/juices when they cook! The end result was NOT a traditional "au gratin" dish but more of cheesy soupy onion mess. It was hardly edible and a great disappointment (not to mention waste of perfectly good onions)! My only recommendation/suggestion for fixing this would be to bake the onions first without the mixture - pour off the excess liquid - then add the flour/cream mixture and cheeses and bake again... that's the only thing that comes to mind to avoid the soup I ended up with. However, with that said - I will NOT be making this again!
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6 users found this review helpful

Balsamic Glazed Carrots

Reviewed: Sep. 16, 2008
Excellent side dish for a roast! I baked the carrots in the oven instead - at is much easier to leave them in the oven to do all the work. I rubbed the carrots with the olive oil and baked in a foil lined dish at 400 degrees for 30 minutes; added the balsamic vinegar and brown sugar at the end and cooked an additional 10 minutes. Easy and delicious (nothing extraordinary though).
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9 users found this review helpful

Baked Potato Soup V

Reviewed: Sep. 16, 2008
The recipe "as is" would probably border 3/4 stars - but with alterations it would be worthy of a 5 star rating. Recipe calls for TOO much of nearly everything... I used 4 large baking potatoes - pierced them with a fork all over and baked in the oven (microwave may be quicker but I wanted the true baked potato flavor) - once cooked I peeled them and cut the potatoes in bite-sized cubes. Cut both the flour and butter to 1/2 cup and made a roux (cook butter/flour over low heat for 5-7 minutes whisking constantly). Since the roux (butter/flour) would be the thickening agent I used all 2% milk. I also used a regular yellow onion instead of green onion (didn't have any green on hand) - sauteed in a little butter until tender. Once the milk thickened I added the potatoes, onion, cheese and two heaping tablespoons of sour cream (salt/pepper to taste). Reduced heat to low and heated through. The soup definitely needed to be thinned - so I ended up adding 2 cups of chicken broth until the soup was just the right consistency. Since I had quite a bit of potatoes - I blended/pureed a pitcher full of the soup and added it back to pot. Topped individual servings with a little shredded cheese. Despite all the extra work - it was definitely tasty!
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2 users found this review helpful

Lola's Horchata

Reviewed: Jul. 16, 2008
I have since made this 3 times and found the trick to perfecting this the second time around! Here's my recommendation for "authentic" homemade horchata: put 1 1/3 cup rice in the blender - add about 2 cups of water and 2 cinnamon sticks and blend until the rice and cinnamon are roughly ground. Add the remaining water and blend thoroughly. Pour into a pitcher and place in the refrigerator to soak (overnight is best) - or at the very least 4-5 hours. Strain the mixture through a sieve. I doubled the amount of milk called for - and about half the sugar (a generous 1/3 cup as I like my horchata not too sweet) and a generous splash of vanilla. PERFECTO!
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1672 users found this review helpful

Restaurant-Style Zuppa Toscana

Reviewed: Jul. 9, 2008
This was very tasty! My rating isn't very fair because I did have to alter the recipe a little to accommodate dietary restrictions (no pork). I used 1 pound soy sausage and omitted the bacon. I sauteed the onion and then added the garlic... I doubled the broth (as we like a lot of soup) and cooked the potatoes until tender. Added the "soysauge", kale, and cream and simmered for 10 minutes. Seasoned with freshly ground black pepper, salt and a dash of chili powder. It was delicious - even more so the next day (soups almost always taste better the next day).
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2 users found this review helpful

Strawberry-Mango Mesclun Salad

Reviewed: Jun. 30, 2008
This recipe is AMAZING with alterations! My two and three year old loved it - as did my husband - I scaled the recipe down to 6 servings instead of 12. Recommended Alterations: Reverse the measurements for oil and balsamic vinegar and cut back on the sugar a bit (be sure to use olive oil and a good quality balsamic vinegar). ADD 2 tablespoons chopped cilantro (pairs well with the greens and fruit). Use RED onion, it's a better tasting onion when raw. Although I halved the recipe I still used 1/2 pound strawberries and 1 mango - so if you make the full batch I would recommend at least 1 pound strawberries and 2 mangoes. I plan to make this often for the summer and bring to potlucks too! Absolutely delicious!
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31 users found this review helpful

Amy's Cilantro Cream Sauce

Reviewed: Jun. 23, 2008
This would probably be fantastic IF the cumin and garlic powder measurements were reversed. I used a generous 1/2 tsp of cumin and 1 1/2 tsp of garlic powder (I had a hunch that 2 tsp was too much) - and despite cutting back on the garlic powder it was still too much (I had a garlic aftertaste for hours afterwards). Also - if you're looking to cut back on fat - try neufchâtel (1/3 less fat cream cheese). I did use sour cream as called for but you can easily substitute yogurt as well (healthier - but since only 1 T is required it doesn't make much of a difference). I served the sauce on top of grilled Red Snapper (marinated in fresh lemon and lime juice, chopped cilantro, salt, pepper, and cumin).
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3 users found this review helpful

Almond Rice Pilaf

Reviewed: Jun. 23, 2008
I used this recipe as a guide/inspiration. My alterations/recommendation: I used 2 T butter and carmelized one medium onion cut in small rainbow-like slices. Then I added the almond and cooked about 5 minutes until toasted (may toast separately next time while I'm cooking the onion to save a little time). Then I added well rinsed BASMATI rice and toasted a little with the onion and almonds (about 2 minutes) - then added water and salt (instead of broth). TIPS FOR PERFECT RICE: First and foremost - always WASH THE RICE! Rice contains a lot of starch and rinsing the rice will help wash away the excess starch and help keep the rice from becoming sticky/gloppy. Second - the water to rice ration is NOT 2:1 like most people think... it's more like 1 1/4 part water to 1 part rice (so 1 1/4 cups water for every 1 cup of rice) - once the rice boils cover the pot with foil and then cover with the lid. A tight seal is very important - because the steam is what helps finish cooking the rice - and you must NOT remove the lid while the rice is cooking. Depending on the type of rice you use - it's 15-20 minutes on very low heat. Remove from heat - allow to stand 10 minutes and then fluff. Rice comes out perfect every time!
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94 users found this review helpful

Greek Pizza with Spinach, Feta and Olives

Reviewed: Jun. 20, 2008
I gave this recipe a try despite my reservations about using mayo for the sauce. The pizza was good - nothing that tantalized my taste buds though. I made homemade pizza dough and topped the unbaked crust with the sauce, toppings (I added artichoke hearts - this was a welcome addition) and baked for 10 minutes... added the spinach and feta and baked another 10 minutes until cheese was beginning to brown/bubble. Although the mayo sauce wasn't bad - I feel that a garlic/olive oil sauce may have really given the pizza the flavor it needed to stand out. Also - a little mozzarella would have been nice too - it was a bit too much feta in my opinion. This is a good recipe for someone looking for something new.
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38 users found this review helpful

Deb's Scallops Florentine

Reviewed: Jun. 17, 2008
First of all - I heavily edited the dish. I wanted to make shrimp florentine with pasta. I used FRESH spinach (wilted in a pan and drained in a sieve while I made the rest of the dish). A good Florentine dish tastes best with fresh spinach! I boiled a pot of ziti pasta... doubled the sauce and sauteed shrimp. I layered the ingredients in a baking dish as follows: pasta, spinach, shrimp, sauce, breadcrumbs/parmesan, ending with mozzarella. Due to time constraints I decided to broil the dish for 2-3 minutes instead of baking. This was very tasty but a little bland even though I used plenty of salt/pepper. I felt it needed just a little more umph - so perhaps some garlic and a pinch of chili powder or red pepper flakes may have made a difference. Overall it was tasty and my kids loved it too - but the sauce could use a few minor improvements!
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1 user found this review helpful

Delicious Raspberry Oatmeal Cookie Bars

Reviewed: Jun. 14, 2008
Rating 4 stars because what made these exceptional was the addition of almond and vanilla flavoring (not called for in the recipe). I felt without the flavoring these were a little bland... I added the almond flavoring and these were FANTASTIC! Almond pairs very well with raspberry! I use an almond emulsion as emulsions are stronger than extracts and do not contain alcohol - order online from lorannoils.com. Looking forward to making this with other fruit preserves such as boysenberry and apricot...
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10 users found this review helpful

Caramel Sauce

Reviewed: Jun. 4, 2008
Recipe is simple - but it doesn't have the same rich flavor as "true" caramel sauce. Making caramel sauce from scratch is soooo much easier than babysitting a can for 3 hours! What you need: 1 cup Sugar, 6 Tablespoons Butter, 1/2 cup Heavy Cream. Have the butter and cream measured out and on hand when you begin. Whisk 1 cup of sugar in a heavy saucepan over medium-high heat until sugar dissolves. Once the sugar starts boiling - do not whisk just swirl the pan. When the sugar turns an amber color add the butter and swirl until melted. Remove pan from heat and count to 3 - then slowly pour the cream into the pan, swirling until incorporated - then whisk until mixture is smooth. Pour into mason (glass) jars and allow to cool. Can be kept refrigerated for up to 2 weeks. Easily done in less than 10 minutes and tastes much better!
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368 users found this review helpful

Sean's Falafel and Cucumber Sauce

Reviewed: Jun. 2, 2008
I had to make a few alterations... this recipe would best be used as a "guide" for making falafel. First - DOUBLE the recipe! The mixture will hold for a few days in the refrigerator and also freezes well - especially important for busy individuals/families. Mashing the chickpeas by hand is very important for texture/consistency. I used 2 (15 oz) cans of chickpeas and it took less than 5 minutes to mash by hand - so it's not as laborious as others have stated. My best recommendation: Use a generous handful each of fresh parsley and cilantro for great flavor. The seasoning measurements are perfect. DO NOT use egg or breadcrumbs, use flour instead. You will need approximate 4-8 tablespoons - start with 4 T and add additional flour as needed until you are able to form a small ball and it doesn't stick to your hands. I recommend test frying one ball (or disk); if it falls apart you must add more flour. It is also highly recommended to refrigerate the mixture for a few hours to allow the flavors to mingle. I typically make the mixture the night before or the morning of - and fry in the evening for a quick fix meal. These can be baked but are must tastier fried! Fry in 2-3 inches of oil at 375 degrees. Traditionally falafel is served with a tahina sauce - but I much prefer using homemade Tzatziki instead (made with strained yogurt, strained shredded cucumber, olive oil, lemon juice, salt, pepper, and dill). MMMM delicious!
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112 users found this review helpful

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