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The Ultimate Pasta Salad

Reviewed: Dec. 3, 2014
Thanks Helene. This is an excellent pasta salad. I especially liked the addition of fresh broccoli and cauliflower. That adds a nice crunch to the salad as well as some very healthy vegetables. Also, thanks for your follow up note. I also found that the next day the oil and vinegar dressing seemed to disappear. All I did was add a little more red wine vinegar. I do like a vinegar taste in the salad. This recipe makes a huge amount so it's great if you're serving a crowd and it's also nice to have some leftovers for lunches during the week. Also, so easy to put this together.
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Home Town: Elgin, Illinois, USA

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Garlic Mashed Potatoes In The Slow Cooker

Reviewed: Nov. 29, 2014
Meh. Not bad but definitely not the best mashed potatoes I've ever made (hubs agrees). I much prefer BWAYE's slow cooker mashed potatoes. Even after adding a LOT of s&p, these were super bland and had absolutely no garlic flavor. I think I'll stick with our favorite recipe from now on. Thanks anyways Alley.
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Photo by Chef Mickey (aka Mickey)

Cooking Level: Intermediate

Home Town: De Soto, Missouri, USA
Living In: Elgin, Illinois, USA

Grilled Shrimp Scampi

Reviewed: Nov. 29, 2014
Made this a while ago and forgot to review it. :) this was just "OK." Both my hubs and I found this too be too tart. Cut back on the lemon or that's all you'll taste. Not for us. Sorry!
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Photo by Chef Mickey (aka Mickey)

Cooking Level: Intermediate

Home Town: De Soto, Missouri, USA
Living In: Elgin, Illinois, USA

Traditional Three Bean Salad

Reviewed: Oct. 29, 2014
I think this salad is excellent. It's simple to prepare. I prefer making my own salads at home instead of purchasing the pre-made ones at the grocery deli counter. Thanks for sharing this recipe. I usually try to follow the directions exactly. I didn't have any jars of pimento peppers at home so I omitted that ingredient.
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Home Town: Elgin, Illinois, USA

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Smashed Potatoes

Reviewed: Oct. 20, 2014
Looks terrible. Tastes great. Prepared just as is. No changes needed.
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Cooking Level: Intermediate

Home Town: Elgin, Illinois, USA
Living In: Herndon, Virginia, USA

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Chinese Restaurant Almond Cookies

Reviewed: Oct. 11, 2014
Excellent cookie! Very easy to make. I followed the suggestions of several reviewers to use half butter and half butter flavored Crisco and was happy with the results. My cookies were a little crumbly - not sure why. I also added 3 teaspoons of almond extract. I'm glad that I did. I do appreciate the comments of the reviewers who suggested these tweaks.
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Home Town: Elgin, Illinois, USA

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One Egg Lemon Pound Cake

Reviewed: Sep. 13, 2014
I agree with many others that the preparation for this cake batter is a little odd. But, I followed the directions carefully and am delighted with the result. I used a pastry blender to cut the butter into the flour and sugar mixture until the texture was like coarse crumbs. I did not have any lemon extract. I added the zest from one lemon to the dry ingredients. And I used another reviewer's suggestion of adding two Tablespoons of Limoncello to the wet ingredients. I baked my poundcake in a decorative, small bundt pan. It produced an adorable, tender cake that looked like it came straight from the bakery. I will keep this recipe handy for whenever I need a quick cake and don't have time to soften the butter. I love the recipe and thank Kimberely for sharing it. It was so easy to prepare. My baking time was about 50 minutes.
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Home Town: Elgin, Illinois, USA

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Chili-Lime Chicken Kabobs

Reviewed: Aug. 29, 2014
This was "OK." Not terrible but certainly nothing to rave about. FYI, do NOT marinate your chicken for more than a few hours. It will begin to break down due to the acidity from the vinegar and lime juice "cooking" your meat as it marinates! I marinated my chicken for about two hours and when I started to thread it onto my skewers, I noticed the texture was beginning to change. Maybe this will float your boat, but this did nothing for me. Thanks anyways, simmig.
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Photo by Chef Mickey (aka Mickey)

Cooking Level: Intermediate

Home Town: De Soto, Missouri, USA
Living In: Elgin, Illinois, USA

Jan's Pretzel Dogs

Reviewed: Aug. 29, 2014
Holy cow!!! What a FANTASTIC recipe!!!!! I can't believe how easy this was! I'll admit, I'm not much of a baker... Me and yeast don't work well together. :) BUT, with my nifty bread machine and a little help from the hubs, these turned out GREAT! This was by FAR the easiest dough I've ever worked with. It rolled like a dream! My hubby and I had a lot of fun together - He cut the dough strips and I wrapped the hot dogs. For a different twist, I topped each pretzel dog with a mixture of poppy and sesame seeds (YUM!). My choice of beer was can of cheap 'ol Budweiser. These are so good, I've been noshing on leftovers all week long. For me, wrapping each "dog" loosely with a paper towel and microwaving at 50% power for 1.5 minutes does the trick. PLEASE, PLEASE don't let the fact that you are not a baker intimidate you from trying this recipe. If I can do it, you can too! Kudos to WFDM for sharing such an awesome recipe with the AR community! :-)
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Photo by Chef Mickey (aka Mickey)

Cooking Level: Intermediate

Home Town: De Soto, Missouri, USA
Living In: Elgin, Illinois, USA

Simple Macaroni and Cheese

Reviewed: Aug. 7, 2014
I was starving and discovered that I had just enough milk, cheddar cheese, butter, and elbow macaroni at home. So, I thought I should be able to make a quick mac and cheese. I found this recipe and was delighted that it was so easy and I thought the result was great. It hit the spot!
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Home Town: Elgin, Illinois, USA

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Cheddar Ranch Dip

Reviewed: Jul. 6, 2014
YUM! Made this for a Fourth of July BBQ / cookout and was very pleased with the results!!! I pretty much followed this to the letter with a few exceptions. Instead of using bacon bits, I fried up 4 pieces of bacon. I also used lite sour cream and added a couple sliced green onions (some to my dip and the rest as garnish). I prepped this the night prior to allow all of the yummy flavors to blend. To offset the not-so-good-for-you BBQ fare on the menu, I served this with a variety of fresh veggies - baby carrots, radish, cucumber, snap peas, grape tomatoes and orange bell pepper. I bet this would be great with chips tho.... All I can say is WOW! Thanks for sharing your simple, tasty recipe RONNAS. :-)
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Photo by Chef Mickey (aka Mickey)

Cooking Level: Intermediate

Home Town: De Soto, Missouri, USA
Living In: Elgin, Illinois, USA

Firecracker Grilled Alaska Salmon

Reviewed: Jul. 1, 2014
I'm not sure why my reviews are being edited, especially considering my opinions are always fair and non judgmental. Some recipes are better than others, simple as that. So, here's my second attempt at writing an honest review. This was just so-so for me. I much prefer Aytom's Slammin' Salmon. The marinade isn't thick (like this one) and can therefore be used as a dressing as well. When served atop a bed of mixed greens, Aytom's salmon makes for a nice, light dinner. I guess I'm also not a fan of wild salmon. I know it is the "king" of all salmon and is favored for it's rich flavor, but it's just not for me. I felt the marinade didn't have a chance to shine because each bite was overwhelmingly fishy. As suggested, I served this with a side of rice and a stir-fry medley of baby corn, shitake mushrooms and snow peas. Everything complemented each other nicely, but was just not to my liking. I may make this again, but will use a milder salmon when I do. Thanks anyways, Christine.
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Photo by Chef Mickey (aka Mickey)

Cooking Level: Intermediate

Home Town: De Soto, Missouri, USA
Living In: Elgin, Illinois, USA

Blue Cheese and Bacon Potato Salad

Reviewed: Jun. 22, 2014
Again, I'm not sure why my reviews are being edited considering my opinions are always fair and non judgmental. You win some, you lose some. Every reviewer should have the opportunity to write a fair, unbiased review and likewise, cooks should use their best judgment and understand that not every recipe will be a winner for everyone. So, here's my second attempt at writing an honest review. I thought this was just OK. My in-laws and (potato salad hating) hubby liked this, so maybe it's just me??? I guess I prefer a slightly sweet potato salad, or at least a less tangy one. The mustard vinaigrette was just a little overkill for me - and ditto for the blue cheese (and I LOVE the stuff!). All in all, this was decent, but nothing to write home about. Thanks anyways, Krissy. :)
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Photo by Chef Mickey (aka Mickey)

Cooking Level: Intermediate

Home Town: De Soto, Missouri, USA
Living In: Elgin, Illinois, USA

Terry's Texas Pinto Beans

Reviewed: Jun. 20, 2014
Pretty good! Considering I am the only one who cares for beans in my family, I am excluding my hubby's opinion from my review. While I thought these were tasty, the cook time was a bit off for me. I even soaked my (fresh, brand new) beans overnight - not only to ensure they'd cook in the suggested 2 hour time frame, but also to clean them of any debris and remove any indigestible sugars that contribute to flatulence. I ended up cooking my beans for almost 2 /12 - 3 hours. I had to constantly juggle the heat setting on my stove because my beans were barely simmering on medium-low but bubbling away on medium. I was concerned that all of the liquid would quickly evaporate, even tho I was checking the pot every 10 minutes (and I had to add almost 2 cups water at that). Since I didn't want to be chained to the stove all afternoon, I guess the extra hour had to be the compromise. Cooking hiccup aside, these were mighty tasty and complemented my Tex-Mex pulled pork sandwich nicely. Thanks for sharing your recipe, Terry! :-)
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Photo by Chef Mickey (aka Mickey)

Cooking Level: Intermediate

Home Town: De Soto, Missouri, USA
Living In: Elgin, Illinois, USA

Old English Cream Pie Filling

Reviewed: Jun. 19, 2014
I was skeptical of making this as I have made many pastry or vanilla creams and this one seemed to simple-how could it be good, right? It is delicious! I will even use this in my pastry tarts. Look no further for a simple and delicious vanilla cream?
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Cooking Level: Professional

Home Town: Watertown, Wisconsin, USA
Living In: Elgin, Illinois, USA

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Spicy Peach Coleslaw

Reviewed: Jun. 19, 2014
I'm not sure why my reviews are being edited considering my opinions are always fair and non judgmental. Some recipes are hands down winners and some just aren't. Opinions are just that. So, here's my second attempt at writing an honest review. I did not care for this at ALL. For one, this was VERY tangy! There was barely any sweetness to balance the tangy-tart vinegar, mustard and lemon flavors. Secondly, this had an oddly spicy aftertaste (from the Sriracha) that just didn't belong, IMHO. I rarely ever toss good food, but this time I couldn't resist. Maybe this will float your boat, but it did absolutely nothing for me. :(
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Photo by Chef Mickey (aka Mickey)

Cooking Level: Intermediate

Home Town: De Soto, Missouri, USA
Living In: Elgin, Illinois, USA

Caprese Burger

Reviewed: Jun. 19, 2014
I'm not sure why my reviews are being edited considering my opinions are always fair and non judgmental. Some recipes are hands down winners and some aren't. So, here's my second attempt at writing an honest review. Neither my hubs or I were all that impressed with these burgers. The concept is GREAT, but the end result is lacking. Our burgers shrunk to tiny little patties, but the real deal breaker was how overcooked these were. My hubby suggested that we use chuck or round next time (at minimum 80% lean beef), and I have to agree. All said and done, I absolutely am in love with your idea and think this has real star potential, but I'll definitely make a few changes to ensure a better outcome next time. Thanks for sharing your unique recipe, Sarah!
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Photo by Chef Mickey (aka Mickey)

Cooking Level: Intermediate

Home Town: De Soto, Missouri, USA
Living In: Elgin, Illinois, USA

Awesome Pasta Salad

Reviewed: Jun. 16, 2014
Awesome is right! What a fantastic salad!!! I made this for our Father's Day cookout with my in-laws / bro-in-laws and everyone RAVED and helped themselves to seconds!!! Since I was feeding mostly men (my MIL and I were the only females in the bunch), I wanted something hearty to serve alongside our grilled sausages and brats. Because I was feeding a small crowd, I halved this. I knew I hit the jackpot when my father-in-law asked that I make this the "go-to" salad for every get-together from now on! My pasta salad hating hubby likened this to an Italian sub and I have to agree. Having said this, I do think my personal changes made this extra tasty. Since I am not a fan of olives, I replaced them with thinly sliced (partially seeded) peperoncini peppers, about 1/2 of a 16 oz. jar's worth. I also added about 1/2 of a finely diced red onion and 1/4 c. of fresh grated Parm cheese. I used Olive Garden's signature Italian dressing (the full 8 oz. called for - half right after I tossed everything together and the other half right before serving) and really enjoyed it in this. All I can say is WOW! Totally worthy of any summer BBQ and 100% man approved. Thanks for sharing, Irlandes! :-)
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Photo by Chef Mickey (aka Mickey)

Cooking Level: Intermediate

Home Town: De Soto, Missouri, USA
Living In: Elgin, Illinois, USA

French Onion Dip From Scratch

Reviewed: Jun. 15, 2014
YUM! I've been wanting to make this for some time and am SOOOOOOO glad I finally did!!! Taking time to caramelize the onions REALLY makes a huge difference and is what sets this dip apart from store-bought ones. Admittedly, I did make a few changes that I think made this even better (I'm not sure I would have liked this as much had I not done so...). As others recommended, I decreased the mayo by half and upped the sour cream to 1 1/2 cups worth. I also added a few dashes of Worcestershire sauce / pinch of sugar to my onions as they cooked (and I cooked them in bacon fat, not EVOO) and a couple of sliced green onions to my finished dip, mainly for color. My final change was to up the amount of onions to 2 cups total - but I would add even more next time. NOTE: It took about 25 minutes for my onions to caramelize, but I had to turn my burner to the lowest setting the final 10 minutes to prevent them from scorching. Overall, a VERY good, basic dip that the man in my life loves. Booyah! Thanks for sharing, CCUMMINS. :)
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Photo by Chef Mickey (aka Mickey)

Cooking Level: Intermediate

Home Town: De Soto, Missouri, USA
Living In: Elgin, Illinois, USA

Todd's Famous Blueberry Pancakes

Reviewed: May 26, 2014
I enjoyed the pancake. I would call this a hearty pancake. It does puff up very high in the pan. I thought the batter was too thick so I added a little more milk so that it would be pourable. Using a 1/4 cup measure produces a pancake with a 5 inch diameter. The flavor is good. I used fresh blueberries because that's what I had at home. I just sprinkled a few onto each pancake as they cooked. I would make this recipe again. It's certainly way better than any packaged mixes. And of course, you won't miss the chemicals and preservatives. Fresh and homemade is always best.
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Home Town: Elgin, Illinois, USA

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