Valerie's Kitchen Recipe Reviews (Pg. 1) - (18744468)

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Valerie's Kitchen

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Roasted Pumpkin Seeds

Reviewed: Oct. 30, 2006
If you've never roasted pumpkin seeds before here are my tips. When you carve your pumpkins scoop the seeds into a colander and the guts onto newspaper. Inevitably some of the guts will be mixed in with the seeds but when you run water over them it's separated out pretty easily. After you drain the rinsed seeds, pour them onto a large, dry cookie sheet and let them sit for 24 hours or so to dry out. Now you can pick out the remaining pieces of pumpkin stuff that didn't get pulled out earlier and they will roast better if they are not wet when they go in the oven. My family prefers them seasoned with garlic salt in place of regular salt but you can use whatever suits your taste. So good!
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Baked Teriyaki Chicken

Reviewed: Mar. 2, 2006
This is a really good one!!! Definitely double the sauce. Here is what I did differently. Used lite soy sauce to cut the salt, increased the garlic, used 1 tsp. minced fresh ginger. A lot of reviewers said to half the amount of sugar but I tasted it and felt I needed to add more but not the whole amount. Since I doubled the sauce, I used 1/2 c. brown sugar and 1/4 c. white sugar. I lined my pan with heavy duty foil then poured most of the thickened sauce over bone-in thighs (skin removed) and some boneless breasts but reserved a little. Cooked, covered with foil for 30 minutes, removed foil, poured remainder of sauce over and bake another 20-30 minutes. Wow. Really good! Update: I made this again using slices of tri tip and it was great. Fantastic with salmon. I had a large fillet and basically baked it the same way but reduced the oven temp. to 375 and baked for a little less time till fish was flakey.
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Eggplant Parmesan II

Reviewed: Feb. 15, 2007
This recipe is worthy of more than 5 stars. Baking the eggplant instead of frying does not take away from the flavor of the dish one bit. It does, however, need to bake longer than stated. I baked mine for about 20 minutes until it was lightly browned. Also, I chose to sweat the eggplant before breading by peeling, slicing, sprinkling with sea salt and placing in a collander in the sink for about 30 minutes. This pulls out any bitterness. Just be sure to rinse it well with water and pat dry with paper towels before breading. I did two layers of eggplant. You can layer however you like, you just to be sure the top layer of eggplant is topped with sauce and then cheese. This is my husband's favorite dish.
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Mexican Rice II

Reviewed: Mar. 31, 2008
Finally I've found the recipe for basic, restaurant style Mexican rice. The key to this recipe is the seasonings you use. I tried it as written, just with the cumin, and it was not nearly as good as it was when I did it a second time using Taco Seasoning I (from this site). I just sprinkled in what looked like enough, about 1-1/2 tsp. This mixture includes cumin and many other spices which are perfect for this recipe. I also cooked my onion in the oil BEFORE adding the rice to get it nice and soft. Other than that, I followed exactly as written and it was perfect!
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Apple Butter Pork Loin

Reviewed: Dec. 18, 2006
There is an obvious error in this recipe that has been noted by many other reviewers that has to be mentioned. You would not cook a pork tenderloin for 3 hours as stated. They need about 20-30 minutes per pound. If you take this into consideration, this recipe is really good. I followed the recipe as directed except I only baked it for about 1/2 hour, then poured off about 1/2 of the apple juice and then covered the meat with the apple butter mixture and baked about another 45 minutes to an hour at the most. After it was done, I sliced the meat, plated it and drizzled just a bit of the cooking sauce over it. The meat picks up so much of the flavor. Everyone just loved it. I served it with Cheesy Mashed Potatoes and acorn squash.
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Easy Honey Mustard Mozzarella Chicken

Reviewed: May 27, 2005
This is wonderful with a couple of changes. I used dijon plus a little yellow mustard. At the end of the cooking time before adding the cheese, I sprinkled a little cornstarch into the honey mustard sauce and stirred it up to thicken it a bit. If you don't do this the sauce will be very thin. Then top with the cheese and bacon bits instead of whole slices of bacon. This lowers the fat while still adding the flavor. Everyone LOVED it!
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644 users found this review helpful

Slow Cooker Stuffing

Reviewed: Nov. 24, 2006
I was nervous to try this and take the chance my stuffing wouldn't turn out on Thanksgiving but just had to give it a try. I'm so glad I did. It was perfect and so easy. I used about 10 cups of dried, cubed bread from Whole Foods and I also bought a fresh loaf of french bread and added about 3 cups of that. The french bread has a good consistency and you don't have to worry about drying it out ahead. I omitted the mushrooms but followed the recipe otherwise as written but added about 2 tsp. minced garlic to the onion celery mixture and added the spices into this mixture while it was cooking before pouring over bread. DON'T ADD ALL 4-1/2 CUPS CHICKEN BROTH. Just add enough to moisten the bread because you'll be checking on it all day and can add more as needed. I cooked it on high for 30 minutes then switched to low for another 5 hours till we were ready to eat. I stirred about once an hour and added more chicken broth as needed. By the end I had only added about 2-1/2 or 3 cups total. I will definitely use this method again. It's so nice to have one less thing to worry about at the end. When you are mashing potatoes, baking rolls and making gravy the stuffing is sitting in the crock pot ready to go!
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Granny Kat's Pumpkin Roll

Reviewed: Oct. 22, 2006
I had fun making this. Had no problems whatsoever with the cake sticking to the pan or cracking. Here is what I did. I cut a piece of parchment paper to fit my pan then sprayed the edges of the pan with cooking spray. I allowed the cake to cool about 20 minutes then I lifted it out of the pan with parchment paper stuck to the bottom of it and flipped it (carefully) on to another piece of parchment paper with a generous amount of powdered sugar sprinkled on it. Then I just peeled the parchment off the bottom of the roll, spread on icing, sprinkled some finely chopped walnuts on top of icing and re-rolled the cake. Wrapped it up on a piece of heavy duty foil and put it freezer for about 45 minutes to set up. Then moved to fridge. Just fantastic. It's a beautiful presentation and the taste is incredible. If you are hesitating to try because it looks difficult you should definitely try it!
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Savory Chicken Breasts

Reviewed: Feb. 27, 2006
This turned out GREAT but I did make some modifications. Substituted muenster for the swiss, increased milk to 1/2 cup, and added 1/4 c. dry sherry to the soup/milk mixture. Sprinkle chicken generously with garlic powder, poultry seasoning and some black pepper before placing cheese on top. Pour sauce mixture evenly over and then top with 1 1/2 cups Stove Top Stuffing mix(chicken flavor) mixed with melted butter. Followed baking directions as written. Sprinkled some grated parmesan over the top for last 5 minutes of baking. Also, using lowfat evaporated milk is a great way to cut some fat and get a real creamy result.
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Oven Roasted Potatoes

Reviewed: Oct. 2, 2006
Instead of measuring out all the different spices I just used about 1 1/2 tsp. to 2 tsp. of Herbes de Provence which has many of the spices listed here. I used Yukon Gold potatoes (always!). Placed the quartered potatoes in a gallon sized ziploc bag. Added the oil, garlic, Herbes de Provence, salt and some fresh ground pepper. Shook up and poured out on to a cookie sheet sprayed with cooking spray. Baked as directed. Beautiful result. Thanks!
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Prosciutto Wrapped Asparagus

Reviewed: Aug. 20, 2005
I have a couple of comments on this recipe. I recommend using black forest ham or any other type of deli sliced ham instead of prosciutto. It stands up to the cream cheese much better and goes very nicely with the asparagus. I've made this before as a cold appetizer and it's great that way too. To do this, boil the asparagus for 1-2 minutes (depending on thickness) just until slightly softened. Immediately immerse in ice water. Drain and blot dry. Assemble as directed and refrigerate. You should boil the asparagus even for the cooked version or it will be crunchy. I found that if you boil the asparagus you should reduce the oven time to 7-8 minutes or the ham begins to get too crispy. Really good either way.
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Sourdough Starter

Reviewed: Mar. 24, 2007
I let mine sit out for 4 days before transferring it to a mason jar and storing in the fridge. WARNING: Don't put an air tight lid on. If you are using a mason jar, just lightly close the lid allowing some air in. Otherwise you may have a problem! The starter is fermenting and has a tendency to "grow". Make sure there is some room at the top of the jar for this.
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Slow Cooker Barbeque

Reviewed: Nov. 21, 2005
I used pork tenderloin instead of chuck roast. I've used chuck roast for these types of recipes in the past and thought they were too fatty. You end up having to pick out the pieces of fat and a lot of it cooks off into the sauce making it greasy. I believe this is why a lot of reviewers felt they needed to replace the cooking sauce. With the pork tenderloin there is almost no fat at all and the meat comes out super tender and easy to shred. You can put it right back into the bbq sauce it cooked in which adds additional flavor. No need to drain. Perfect and easy! Mine was tender enough to shred easily after 8 hours on low.
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Southern Potato Salad

Reviewed: Jul. 4, 2007
I followed the advice in the review by Retired Cook. Gotta listen to a lady who's been making southern potato salad for 50 years! I used Yukon Gold potatoes for their buttery, creamy texture. We like our potato salad chilled so I boiled the potatoes, skin on and then refrigerated them overnight. The skin peels off easily after chilled. The next day I put it all together. I like to make my dressing in a separate bowl so it gets really combined before pouring it over the potatoes and celery. I added about 2 Tbsp. minced onion, a scant 1 Tbsp. cider vinegar and about 2 tsp. sugar to the dressing mixture. Only used about 2 Tbsp. sweet relish and less mustard. It'll need a good amount of salt and pepper too. If you are concerned about fat you can replace about half of the mayo with reduced fat sour cream and get a really good result. This is a winner!
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Asian Chicken Salad

Reviewed: May 14, 2006
Great! Here is what I did differently. For my greens I used a head of Napa cabbage and a head of romaine chopped well. I added in a lot of thickly shredded carrot, some chopped red bell pepper, chopped sugar snap peas, and cilantro. I toasted some slivered almonds and used instead of sesame seeds. I prepared the rice noodles as written because I couldn't find the prepared ones other reviewers had mentioned and don't care much for the canned chow mein noodles. I'm not sure it is worth the effort and the salad would be fine without them as long as you put almonds in for the crunch. Here is the real time saver. I bought a rotisserie chicken from Safeway and pulled the meat off the bone and shredded it up into a bowl. I doubled the recipe for the dressing, adding a bit less vegetable oil than called for, and used half of it to mix into the shredded chicken and let it sit in the fridge for a couple of hours marinating until I prepared the salad. This made the chicken taste incredible! I mixed everything together in a big bowl except the rice noodles and dressing and when we got to the pot luck I mixed it all together. Fantastic dressing recipe and you can make the salad to suit your taste. I recommend chopping everything into small pieces so you can get a little of everything in every bite.
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Beef Tenderloin With Roasted Shallots

Reviewed: Dec. 26, 2006
I made this for Christmas dinner this year & it was great. I bought a 5 lb. beef tenderloin from Costco, cut it in half & froze the 2nd half. I was serving 6 people & 2-1/2 lbs. was plenty. While I was roasting the shallots I also roasted 3 heads of garlic with the tops trimmed off, drizzled with olive oil & some salt. The garlic needs about 15 minutes more than the shallots to get really tender. I roasted the meat as directed but it took my piece closer to 45 min. to reach the desired med. rare temp. The sauce worked beautifully. I used ruby port. I added the chopped bacon back to the sauce but opted to serve the shallots and roasted garlic next to the sliced beef on a platter so the kids(who don't like shallots) could enjoy the sauce on the garlic mashed potatoes. This was my first beef tenderloin and it was as so tender you could cut it with a butter knife & extremely flavorful. I saw some other reviewers recommend that you puree the sauce but I think that the texture of this sauce is intended to be somewhat thin and blending the shallots in would make it thick and lumpy. I will definitely use this recipe when I cook the 2nd half! UPDATE: This sauce is my new favorite sauce recipe for any type of roasted beef. It's very simple and you don't even need the bacon or shallots. The last time I made it I used Zinfandel instead of Port. I used it for sliced tri-tip and it was incredible. It even reheats really well if you thin it just a bit with some water.
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Chicken Tetrazzini IV

Reviewed: May 23, 2007
This was a big hit in my house. It is a great make ahead dish you can pop in the oven when you get home. I highly recommend substituting lowfat evaporated milk for the heavy cream. It is still plenty rich and satisfying. I got away with only using 3 Tbsp. butter to make my roux and omitted the salt altogether. I cooked the mushrooms with some chopped onion and garlic in a little olive oil before adding into the mixture. I increased the chicken broth to 1-1/2 cups based on other reviews and this amount was perfect. I also increased the sherry to 3 Tbsp. Once the mixture was in the casserole dish I sprinkled some italian herb seasoning and fresh ground pepper over the top. Another variation that is good is to add some grated cheese to the roux after adding in the chicken broth and milk. It works really well with about 1/2 cup of any type of cheese you have on hand (cheese blends work really well). Yummy!
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Cocktail Meatballs IV

Reviewed: Oct. 8, 2007
Fantastic! Everybody loves these. Like other reviewers, I think it calls for a bit more chili sauce. I used a 4 lb. bag of frozen meatballs, a 32 oz. jar of grape jam, a 12 oz. jar of chili sauce and 2 Tbsp. mustard. It helps a great deal to warm the sauce mixture in a saucepan and whisk it up so the jelly breaks down and it's nicely combined before pouring over the meatballs. I started this with frozen meatballs with the crockpot on low and they were perfect in 4 hours. Kept them on low throughout the party. UPDATE: Made again with a big package (Costco) of Aidells Chicken and Pineapple Terriyaki meatballs and it was better.
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Maple Dill Carrots

Reviewed: Mar. 2, 2006
I used a bag of baby carrots. I poured off most of water after the carrots had cooked and then added in about 2 tbsp. butter, 4 tbsp. brown sugar, sprinkled on some dill, salt and pepper. The sauce smelled so good that I wanted it to stick to the carrots a little better so I mixed 1 tsp. cornstarch into 1 tsp. water and poured into the pan to thicken the yummy sauce. Excellent.
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Caroline's Chocolate Fudge Frosting

Reviewed: Oct. 11, 2006
This recipe is very close to the recipe printed on the Baker's unsweetened chocolate box. The Baker's recipe calls for an extra square of chocolate (4 oz. total) and 1/3 cup milk. When I saw the comments from other reviewers that it wasn't enough chocolate and too much milk I just went with the Baker's recipe.
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