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Cuban Ropa Vieja

Reviewed: Jul. 4, 2011
I know, I should follow a recipe exactly before reviewing it. Unfortunately, I've never strictly followed a recipe in my life! This was definitely a five star recipe when done my way: I used a 2 lb chuck roast because I had several in the freezer, homemade duck stock instead of beef because it was in my fridge, and two green peppers and one red, plus the onion. I added some extra garlic and a single habanero as well, because we like spice. I added the cilantro at the end, as I find it loses its flavor during cooking. I served it with black beans and rice, corn tortillas, and another sprinkle of cilantro. I took the beef out about two hours before we ate, removed the bone and obvious fat, shredded it, and returned it to the pot. I had actually started with only the one bell pepper as recommended, but it didn't look like enough so I sliced and sauteed two more and threw them in. This served my husband and I for dinner and made three to go plates for lunches. Great idea, thanks!
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Barbequed Thai Style Chicken

Reviewed: Dec. 3, 2008
And I essentially follow the directions, which is rare for me. The only thing I don't bother with is separating parts of the cilantro - I just throw it all into the food processor. I marinate this at least overnight, and it's great under the broiler if you don't have the time to fire up the grill. It works with both coconut milk and coconut cream, and just throw the rest in with some jasmine rice. Heats up great for leftovers as well!
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Chicken Wild Rice Soup I

Reviewed: Aug. 29, 2008
4 stars as written - I feel it needs a little more. I'm a native Minnesotan who has lived in the South for 11 years, so I like my food spicier and more garlicky than what I was raised on. I basically use this base recipe, then add 6-8 cloves of garlic when sauteing veggies as well as some diced red pepper. I also use a "curry masala" Indian seasoning that I buy instead of curry powder. Add cayenne, cumin, and/or minced hot peppers to taste for more heat. As others have said, the recipe is certainly forgiving. You can some various dairy products to reduce fat, and while it changes the taste and consistency, the soup is still good. Just remember that you'll have to add more milk than you would cream, so use less stock and vice versa.
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Rich and Creamy Roasted Eggplant Soup

Reviewed: Aug. 29, 2008
This soup was fantastic. The only issue I have with it is the name - it tastes much more like tomato than eggplant, and I even used less tomato and more eggplant than was called for. After reading the other reviews, my version used: 1.5 eggplants, 1 onion, 2 tomatoes, 1 red pepper, 1 head of garlic, and 1 jalapeno. I roasted all as directed - except the peppers, which I broiled and removed the skins - and then followed directions. I simmered w/ chicken stock and thyme for 45 min-1h, blended, added cream, and dabbed in some goat cheese. I also added some fresh basil since we have some in the garden. I would have called this "Rich and Creamy Roasted Vegetable Soup" instead (although tomato is a fruit). It seems like you could substitute many other veggies as well, and I may try adding or subbing zucchinis or mushrooms next time. I've never put eggplant in a soup before, and it was a great addition. Thanks for the great base recipe!
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Cream of Mushroom Soup I

Reviewed: Oct. 23, 2007
This is a pretty good mushroom soup recipe, with a little tweaking of course. I saute half the mushroom/onion/seasoning mixture - no broth yet - then I added a little half and half and put it in the food processor. Never add salt to mushrooms until they've already browned or it won't happen, but other seasonings are fine. I made my roux (that's the half butter/half flour mixture) at the same time. You're supposed to whisk it for a few minutes until it doesn't smell like flour anymore, and the "mashed potato" consistency another reviewer mentioned is desired - a roux is a thickening agent used as the base of many soups. Then add liquid SLOWLY - otherwise it won't mix into the roux well, and you'll get lumps. Once it gets to a cream sauce consistency, you can add your puree if you're using one. I keep the other half the mushrooms chunked, and saute those off as well. I hit them with the sherry, let the alcohol cook off, then dump that into the soup. I use equal parts chicken stock and half and half , until the consistency is how I like it. I've never measured, so I can't tell you the exact amount. Add salt and pepper to taste, I use red pepper flakes as well, and you're good to go!
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131 users found this review helpful

Champagne Shrimp and Pasta

Reviewed: May 30, 2007
This was fabulous! Definitely entering the rotation. I made only minor changes, based on what we like and what we had on hand. For pasta, I used a "garlic and parsley linguine" that my store carries. I added garlic and red pepper flakes, since I never cook anything without them. Also, I didn't have any tomatoes so I used diced red bell pepper instead. I might try tomato next time, but the pepper works well too. This is a great idea, but make it your own!
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2 users found this review helpful

Sea Bass with Honeyed Apples

Reviewed: Feb. 26, 2007
This was very good! I used catfish and ritz crackers instead of breadcrumbs, and did marinate the fish in milk and hotsauce for a couple hours in the fridge before prepping. All I would change next time is to add a lot more hot sauce/cayenne in the recipe somewhere, as the spice goes really well with the sweet. I served it with acorn squash and new potatoes.
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5 users found this review helpful

Maria's Pepper Steak

Reviewed: Feb. 18, 2007
This is good! It's more sweet and sour steak than pepper steak though. I haven't tried yet, but ought to be a good sauce for pork or chicken as well.
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2 users found this review helpful

Baked Orange Roughy Italian-Style

Reviewed: Feb. 18, 2007
This recipe (with my minor modifications) was fabulous! I marinated the fish for about 1 hour in milk and hot sauce, then flour, then butter, then breadcrumbs with romano, garlic, salt, black, and cayenne pepper. I thought it would just taste like baked fish, but it was so tender and juicy! Good flavor as well.
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Garlic Chicken

Reviewed: Dec. 15, 2006
Relative to the amount of work involved, this is an awesome recipe. My prep time was maybe 20 minutes - for the chicken, the steamed brocolli I served with it, and all the veggies I cut up for a salad. I used half a head of garlic (put it thru the food processor), marinated the chicken for about an hour, and seasoned them on both sides with salt, pepper, and cajun seasoning. I used real fresh parmesan and it was fine. It wasn't the most exciting recipe, but it was good and so easy.
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Green Bean and Portobello Mushroom Casserole

Reviewed: Nov. 25, 2006
I would give this a 3, but I didn't follow it exactly. I made my own cream of mushroom soup, which normally helps a recipe, and I used romano instead of cheddar b/c I was out. It was OK, it just wasn't exciting at all...kind of bland, yet the soup tsted great on its own.
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Awesome Sausage, Apple and Cranberry Stuffing

Reviewed: Nov. 25, 2006
I don't love stuffing, but this was my first time making the entire T-day dinner so I had to make it. This was awesome! I keep adding more when I reheat the leftovers! Caveats: I don't measure, I use hot italian sausage instead of turkey, and I added maybe 4 oz of cremini mushrooms b/c they were leftover. We loved my version of the recipe though.
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Rosemary Roasted Turkey

Reviewed: Nov. 25, 2006
This was my first time rubbing under the skin of the turkey, and it was amazing. I did also brine it for the first time, so I'm not sure if one contributed more than the other, but this was the best turkey I have ever eaten. SO moist, and we've had a couple days worth of leftover too by now - my husband thinks they might be better than the original!
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Chicken In Basil Cream

Reviewed: Aug. 21, 2006
5 stars for this recipe with a few modifications: I use eggwash instead of milk before the breading, and mix some grated parmesan in w/ the breading. Also, after the chicken is done, I melt butter in the same pan, saute a few cloves of garlic, then add flour to make a roux. Then whisk in the milk/cream (doesn't seem to matter much which you use) and I add some chicken stock as well. Also, the jarred roasted red peppers work fine in place of pimentos. I know I should rate the original recipe, but I have never followed it. Use these as ideas and then make them your own!
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Rich and Creamy Tomato Basil Soup

Reviewed: Jul. 17, 2006
I've always wanted a recipe for La Madeleine's soup, and this is maybe even better (since I can tweak it to personal preference too)! For mine, I sauteed a couple of shallots and garlic cloves before adding the tomatoes and juice. I seeded them but didn't bother to peel them, and I replaced about a cup of the tomato juice with about 3/4 cup chicken stock and about 1/2 cup white wine. Also, I tasted the soup throughout cooking, and if you can't have cream and butter it is still a great tomato soup before you add them. I used maybe 2/3 of what was called for, but taste as you go and add what you like. Great base recipe!
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106 users found this review helpful

Creolized Stuffed Chicken Breasts

Reviewed: Jul. 11, 2006
Good stuff! I do use cremini mushrooms because it's what I tend to have on hand, and I use ranch instead of blue cheese. Those are just personal preferences though, this is a great recipe. Also, I only puree half the stuffing, then stuff the breasts, and the unpureed mixture goes over the top.I usually serve with a wild mushroom risotto, and make it as often as I have time.
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13 users found this review helpful

Chicken Pot Pie VIII

Reviewed: Jul. 11, 2006
Just for the filling - I keep cheating on the crust because I'm not much of a baker. I parboil the potatoes and carrots and saute the other veggies separately with some garlic. Then I make the roux, add the stock with some milk or cream, and add the veggies and chicken back in with frozen peas and corn. Then, it becomes 5 stars.
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Grandma's Pork Chops in Mushroom Gravy

Reviewed: Jul. 11, 2006
I used fresh creminis, more garlic, and thickened the sauce with a roux instead of corn starch. The gravy was great over some red potatoes mashed with garlic. This works as a salisbury steak recipe too, just sub some round or cube steak for the pork.
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Cajun Seafood Pasta

Reviewed: Jul. 11, 2006
This was good. Being from Lousiana, I doubled the spices and then it was hot enough. Also used a lot of garlic, and added sliced portobello and red pepper as some others suggested. I used only scallops this time - and separately blackened them - but I will try shrimp next time around. This is even better the next day.
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Romantic Chicken with Artichokes and Mushrooms

Reviewed: Jul. 11, 2006
Awesome! I mostly followed the recipe this time, although I never learned to measure. My marinated chokes came in an olive-oily sauce which smelled great, so I did dump it in. Taste/smell the liquid first before you add it. One thing - I served this with a risotto so I didn't need extra sauce, but you might want to double or triple the sauce to serve over pasta. Thank you!
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