winelight Profile - (188705253)

cook's profile


Home Town: Minnesota, USA
Living In: Connecticut, USA
Member Since: Mar. 2013
Cooking Level: Beginning
Cooking Interests: Grilling & BBQ, Frying, Slow Cooking, Asian, Mexican, Italian, Mediterranean
Hobbies: Hiking/Camping, Photography, Reading Books, Music, Painting/Drawing, Wine Tasting
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About this Cook
After having lived in a shoebox apartment in NYC with a square foot of kitchen counter space and no way to cook anything, I moved to a large condo in a small New England town and had a huge kitchen all to myself. I decided to learn how to cook after becoming engrossed in Food Network and watching all the amazing things the chefs did that looked so easy. I'm still trying to get really good at this and gain confidence, but I'm much better than five years ago, when I literally didn't know how to make rice! My favorite way to cook is to find a delicious recipe, gather all the ingredients, put on some great music, pour myself a vodka on the rocks, take my time and see what happens!
My favorite things to cook
I'm still happy to stick with the classics for now. Italian sauces, soups, basic roasting, meats, etc. I also seem to gravitate towards some international dishes - Puerto Rican, Spanish, Greek and am trying new ones all the time. I also have to admit that I find something wildly sexy about cooking with shallots! ;)
My favorite family cooking traditions
My mom & Grandma were amazing cooks and made a lot of German dishes and desserts. I also have a fairly bland, inexperienced palate due to growing up in the Midwest, where all pasta is called "spaghetti" and all salads come with ranch dressing. But I'm definitely trying to expand my taste buds' horizons.
My cooking triumphs
I made two Puerto Rican dishes within the last six months that I'm exeptionally proud of - a mouthwatering pernil at Christmas and a fantastic arroz con pollo. Both came out beautifully and I'm not even Puerto Rican.
My cooking tragedies
Ugh. My first attempt at baking. It was a homemade chocolate-banana cake. What a disaster. The recipe said "add semi-sweet chocolate" - so that's what I did...whole pieces of it right into the mixer. Ca-thunk, ca-thunk! When I realized it wasn't going to mix itself into the batter and that I was supposed to MELT it first, I simply scooped out the batter, chocolate and all, into another bowl and microwaved it. Worst. Idea. Ever. The poor cake came out chewy and hard. And it was supposed to be a birthday surprise for someone! I still have nightmares about it.
Recipe Reviews 21 reviews
Best Marinara Sauce Yet
I'd tried making marinara once (Giada's recipe) and it came out way too acidic. So I decided to try again using this recipe as written. It did seem a bit acidic to me, so I used a bit of brown sugar. But other than that, I followed the recipe using a dry pinot grigio for the white wine. I used San Marzano whole tomatoes and store brand paste. I crushed the tomatoes by hand before whizzing everything in the blender for a couple pulses. My roomie and I, since we usually use jarred sauce, were honestly confused as to how it was supposed to taste, but we both really liked it. It tasted light and fresh and was a welcome change, if a bit liquid-y for my preference. I do like that I can control how much salt and sugar goes into the sauce. Next time I might try chicken broth instead of wine to cut down on cost, add a bit more garlic and reduce longer for a thicker sauce. Great recipe, will use again! *Update* Making it now, used chicken broth, 1T brown sugar, 2T dried parsley, 1T dried Italian herbs and I sauteed the herbs with the onion & garlic. Simmered for an hour. Unbelievably delicious! I LOVE this marinara! Definitely try it!

0 users found this review helpful
Reviewed On: Jan. 2, 2015
Jalapeno Popper Spread
Delicious! Made it for the NYE party and it was a hit. The crowd I was serving was very health-conscious, so there was about half left over, but everyone gave me lots of compliments on it. The only thing I'd have to say about it is that the stated amount of jalapenos is definitely too little if you have spice-lovers in your crowd. The can I had was 7.75 oz, so I'd measured in exactly 2 oz first but realized that wasn't going to be nearly enough. I knew that my crowd loved hot/spicy food, so I just dumped the ENTIRE can in and that made a nice difference, visually and texturally. I did put freshly grated parmesan cheese over it, followed by breadcrumbs and then baked it for 30 minutes. The breadcrumbs didn't toast entirely, so perhaps try the broiler for a toasted top. I served it with the smaller Triscuit triangles. Canned jalapenos are milder than fresh, apparently. But the dip definitely tastes like jalapeno poppers. I took the advice from other reviewers and melted the leftovers into scrambled eggs the next morning and it was delicious. Great recipe!

0 users found this review helpful
Reviewed On: Jan. 2, 2015
Jamie's Cranberry Spinach Salad
I was on salad duty for a NYE party and knew that for the crowd I'd be serving, romaine with a few tomatoes and some ranch dressing wouldn't fly. So I found this recipe and gave it a shot. After reading the majority of reviews, I decided that I'd reduce the sugar to 1/3 cup. I omitted the poppy seeds as I don't like them and toasted the sesame seeds and then the almonds in a dry pan. Dry toasting gives nuts & seeds incredible flavor, but be careful not to burn them or they'll turn bitter. I used just over a cup of Craisins and pre-packaged salad in a variety of types - mixed greens and lettuces. I pre-made the dressing sans oil, packed everything separately and just put it together at the party and dressed the salad there. I was really nervous as this was a blind recipe I'd never tried before. Personally, I found it much too sweet for my taste, but everyone LOVED it! It was almost entirely gone. Be sure to state to everyone you're serving that there are almonds in the salad. I had two guests that were allergic to walnuts but almonds turned out to be fine. It was something I just hadn't considered, so definitely be aware. I'd make this again for a party, but it's much too sweet-tasting for me, personally. But hey ~ people obviously really like this salad WITH the dressing recipe given, so I'd recommend people at least give it a try as is. Oh, and dress the salad initially using 3/4 of the dressing. Using the whole amount seemed like way too much.

1 user found this review helpful
Reviewed On: Jan. 2, 2015

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