Peckish Sister's Profile

From: Central, FL USA

Joined: December 11th, 2010

About me: I have always liked to cook, particularly breads, fruits, vegetables, vegetarian, poultry and lamb dishes. After marriage we cooked together progressively more difficult dishes with him doing the meat, grilling and frying, and I did the "dough" and the same type of things I had before. After children we started cooking more simply. After discovering the cause of my frequent migraines was an evolving long list of chemicals and odd ingredients, I began getting back to cooking from basic ingredients, and found I could be well again. I also try to cooking from what I can get in season at the ever present fruit and vegetable stands.

Favorite cookbook: America's Test Kitchen / Cooks Illustrated Books

Latest review:

February 29th, 2020

Ratatouille from The Cook's Illustrated Cookbook: 2,000 Recipes from 20 Years of America's Most Trusted Cooking Magazine

This family favorite is the only way I have been able to eat eggplant, perhaps because it it salted, any excess moisture squeezed out and then roasted at a high temperature. If I am in a real hurry I use... read more >

recipe reviews (463)
book reviews (18)
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Peckish Sister's Reviews

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27 recipe(s) reviewed. Showing 1 to 27Sort by: Title | Date | Rating

The Barefoot Contessa Cookbook

By Ina Garten, Martha Stewart
Clarkson Potter - 1999

12th October 2011

Broccoli with Garlic : page 100

I followed bhnyc’s advice to cook the garlic slowly and also to serve the broccoli warm or room temperature instead of cold. I placed a large sieve colander in the big pot to boil the broccoli in and then it was easy to remove the colander with broccoli to the sink to cool it just enough with running water. The cooked garlic cloves on top made all the difference and it was a nice departure from my usual micro waved plain broccoli. The family seemed even more appreciative.

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26th October 2011

Caramelized Butternut Squash : page 151

I also used one large squash which equaled half the recipe. I followed the directions to the letter using a glass 9 X 13” pan. The directions worked perfectly. I couldn’t “see” the brown sugar, but it sure worked to bring out the sweet flavor of the squash. I would not change a thing about this recipe.

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21st September 2011

Cheddar-Dill Scones : page 218

Flakey and cheesy scones with beautiful dark green aromatic flecks of dill throughout. I found it a little confusing to my taste buds that were expecting onion or garlic flavor. The recipes worked perfectly except my scones never come out as wide or tall as the directions state, so this time I went with the ¾ tall and slightly narrower than 4” squares (that are cut into triangles). These turned out very well, but I don’t see myself making them again.

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27th September 2011

Curried Couscous : page 94

Very flavorful and colorful and more complex than the usual cous cous recipe. The onions, parsley and curry gave it a bold flavor, and the grated carrot, currents, and dark greens of the parsley and scallion gave it a great visual appeal. I liked that this recipe did not call for chicken stock and enjoyed it as a vegetarian dish by itself. Although it also goes well with chicken.

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21st September 2011

Fresh Lemonade : page 32

A very typical lemonade recipe. I picked and squeezed the lemons today. I followed the recipe exactly, using between the ½ and ¾ cup of sugar range she suggested. Freshly made lemonade is not uncommon for my family, but I was glad for the incentive to make it. Their only comment was, “tastes like lemonade”! If you have never made it before, it is a decent recipe.

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7th October 2011

Gazpacho : page 79

Warning, think twice before making a full batch, it is large! I made a full batch to use the full bottle of tomato juice. I liked her admonition that you don’t want this to taste like V-8 juice as I have often cheated and used V-8 juice when making Gazpacho in the past. I like cucumber seeds so did not see the need to seed the cucumbers. I chopped all the vegetables by hand to get them into the perfect size except for the onion which was chopped finely in the food processor. We cut the vinegar by half to ¼ cup and used apple cider instead of white wine (to reduce sulfites). Day1: we loved the flavor, except the onion came on strong and the next time we would only use one. I used one yellow, one orange and one red pepper, instead of all three red. The main relief from the too red color was provided by the dark green and white contrast of the cucumber. The next time I would probably use two yellow and one orange peppers. Day 2: the cucumber and yellow pepper are slightly discolored, the overpowering onion flavor has mellowed to just right, and the vinegar flavor was not as pronounced – very good. In subsequent days the cumcumber discolored and then became mushy. My husband liked the amount of olive oil.

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19th September 2011

Guacamole : page 50

I prefer a smooth intensely lime flavored guacamole, but if I think of this like an avocado salsa, I like it. I did not have an easy time of cutting up the avocado with a sharp knife in the bowl; two knives made an easier job of it. The chunks of avocado showcase the Haas flavor better than a puree. I had to substitute fresh lime juice for lemon however. It made a great condiment for enchiladas. I would use this recipe where you want bold colors and flavors.

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11th October 2011

Homemade Applesauce : page 155

I just cannot put butter into applesauce, but I think it might have kept it from boiling so hard, maybe 2 TBLS would be enough. I was glad that I put this into a giant Dutch oven as it was obvious from the inside of the pan that it had been boiling and foaming up to the top. I did not believe that 6 pounds of apples could cook in 1 ½ hours in the oven, so was not in a hurry to remove it but should have as it did seem a little over cooked. I would have preferred it a little chunkier. I did add the two peels of red apples to improve the color as suggested, but they had disintegrated too much to remove. Next time I would cut back on the spices, I think they hide the apple flavor. I used half Granny Smith apples and half MacIntosh as suggested and had to double the sugar and it was still on the sour side. This was a surprisingly easy recipe after you get past all the apple peeling. I liked not having to cut the apples more than into quarters and not having to stir.

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25th October 2011

Hummus : page 46

I liked that she called for canned chickpeas, as I have never made this well from dried garbanzos. It had a great flavor and the lemon was strong, but not overpowering. More liquid was needed (as she had suggested) to make it the proper consistency. I left out the Tabasco. I pureed it finer than she suggested, but still prefer the flavor and silky smoothness of the commercial preparations.

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24th September 2011

Indonesian Ginger Chicken : page 125

My boys devoured this chicken and thought it should get a rating of 10 (on a 5 point scale). It was slightly sweet with a nice strong ginger taste that was not overpowering. I was excited to make this with my substitute soy sauce. I am not sure why she specifies “good honey”. I don’t cook with my best honey, but I don’t have any “bad” honey either. The marinade did not soak into all the chicken and I am not sure if that wasn’t because I split it into two pans. As mentioned previously an easy recipe that can easily be made up ahead.

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20th October 2011 (edited: 20th October 2011)

Lentil Vegetable Soup : page 80

Perfectly cooked lentils as they were covered with boiling water and allowed to soak for 15 minutes first (no sawdust-like insides). A made a full recipe and everything fit into my largest stock pot except for all of that chicken stock. I love thick soups, so that was not a problem. I agree with aj12475 that it is healthy, delicious, and could easily be made vegetarian with a different stock. The two leeks seem to be the secret ingredient here that makes this lentil soup above the ordinary.

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25th September 2011

Maple-Oatmeal Scones : page 223

Light airy scones with great maple flavor and a use for those quick oats in the cupboard. I felt like I was back in the Maritime Provinces where maple-flavored baked goods were every where. The second time I made this recipe I remembered to add that pound of butter. The first time without the butter they rose higher and looked prettier, but tasted only slightly better than a boat anchor. I have frozen all that we did not eat at the first sitting and they taste just as fresh every time we defrost one. Like Queezle Sister I did not use a circle cutter, but cut mine into similar sized squares.

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25th September 2011

Orange Yogurt : page 229

Fresh orange flavored yogurt with nice bursts of texture and more flavor from the added ingredients. I am not a big fan of grated citrus peel, but added just enough to really make the orange flavor predominant. I skipped the sieving step by starting with fat-free Greek yogurt. Adding honey, walnuts and citrus were natural accompaniments. I thought about roasting the walnuts, but they tasted great unroasted. Chunks of orange on top added to the lightness of this dish.

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26th October 2011

Outrageous Brownies : page 172

Although Baker’s one bowl brownies are still my favorite recipe, it is fun to try new ones. I should have paid more attention to the size of the large sheet pan. At least I lined it with foil and so it did not flow over. Two 9 X 13” pans (or one for half of the recipe) would have been the perfect size. Because it came out too thick it became a little crumbly around the edges. But by letting it rest overnight I was able to cut it into 1 ½ inch squares. I liked the richness from all of the walnuts. I used all dark chocolate chips instead of the mixture of different types of chocolate she used and it turned out fine.

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13th October 2011

Pan-fried onion dip : page 53

A chunky dip full of sweet onion flavor. I followed Southern Cooker’s advice to use half of the oil and butter and agreed that it was hard to go the full 30 minutes so that all of the onions were nicely browned. I also used my handheld mixer, but had to pull the onions out of the bowl with the piles of sour cream, cream cheese and mayonnaise as I had not mixed them yet. In retrospect I think it would have worked fine to dump everything in at once and mix. It was a huge hit; we may never buy the mix again. I especially liked the reduction in salt.

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29th September 2011

Parmesan Croutons : page 87

My French bread loaf was rather large, so my toasts were also big. I was delighted to have a use for the Trader Joes garlic flavored olive oil we had picked up on a road trip, and brushed it on the slices. You could also use the garlic oil left over from the broccoli recipe if you made that. I used the pre-grated parmesan that I keep frozen. I did not salt the oiled bread as the bread tasted salty already. I took the croutons out 3 minutes early and they were good and a great accompaniment to the Gazpacho. They also tasted just as crisp and cheesy two days later.

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23rd October 2011

Parmesan Smashed Potatoes : page 158

I used half the butter and substituted buttermilk for the heavy cream, but kept the sour cream. I wished I had added the melted butter first, then added the warmed buttermilk (as in the America Test Kitchen recipe). That way I could have controlled the amount of liquid better. 1 ½ cups turned out way too watery. Don’t use fat-free butter milk, it separates when heating. I liked the suggestion for evaporated milk. This was not a success for me.

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8th October 2011

Peach & Raspberry Crisp : page 190

I used mango (4 large) and the local blueberries I have frozen (4 cups) as she suggests changing the fruit. I added ½ of the juice of a lemon as both fruits did not taste as all tart, the full 3 TLBS of flour with the fruit, used the brown, but not the white sugar with the fruit, and only made half of the topping. It turned out beautifully in my large round casserole dish. I should have thawed the blue berries for a more bubbly interior, but the mango did not disintegrate and that was nice too. I prefer the old Betty Crocker crisp recipe with rolled oats and chopped nuts, this was more like a sugar topping.

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10th October 2011

Pecan Shortbread : page 181

This recipe made up very similarly to the shortbread hearts. I toasted the pecans before dicing as instructed. She suggested using a square cutter. I used a wide plastic ruler and my cleaver to cut very square cookies with no waste. I loved the wonderful almond smell coming from the almond extract in the dough and cookies. However the roasted pecans provided their own aroma and although I loved the crunch of the pecans, the two flavors fought each other. In the future, it would be fun to try walnut flavor (I can never find a use for it!) with toasted walnuts, or almonds with almond extract. With pecans, I think sticking with vanilla extract would be best (the recipe calls for both).

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5th October 2011

Pecan Squares : page 188

I was looking for a way to reduce the butter and instead decided to follow the Smitten Kitchen suggestions to halve the recipe and bake it in a 9 X13” pan. I also took her advice to line the pan with parchment. I only used 1 of the original 3 eggs and still had a very buttery dough that was difficult to spread, it helped to put a little moisture under the parchment. I cut the finished cookies into smallish squares. The pecans were perfectly crunchy with nice caramel. I did not care for the butter soaked crust and oily tops of the cookies. The caramel still managed to get under some of the parchment and some seeped under the crust, this was not a bad thing as it seemed to help hold the crust together. The parchment made it manageable to remove the entire cooled bar to a large wooden cutting board for ease of cutting. I was glad I did not cool the cookies in the refrigerator as suggested, as they were firm enough and cut just fine at room temperature. A mostly delicious cookie, but it should be possible to reduce the amount of butter.

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19th October 2011

Perfect Roast Chicken : page 130

You really can just walk away and come back in 1 ½ hours to a perfectly roasted chicken. But I did cover it with foil after an hour, so the dark meat would not dry out too much. I did not want the gravy, and saved most of the chicken for later. It was great to have on hand to throw together a quick meal. It was nice and simple, but had good flavor.

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24th September 2011

Roasted Carrots : page 149

Big bold pieces of carrot were different than the usual matchstick cut and were easier to prepare. I hate boiled carrots, but love the concentrated flavor of these roasted carrots. They tasted sweet and almost like lemon juice had been added. This recipe needed to cook an extra 15 minutes for the largest carrot pieces, and I needed to remove the smaller pieces at intervals to prevent over cooking.

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5th October 2011

Roasted-Tomato Basil Soup : page 84

A nice thick, fresh tasting tomato soup. I thought that the tomatoes would dry more during roasting, it is hard to tell from the picture in the book. Mine were caramelizing on the bottom, but looked the same on top. I couldn’t quite come up with 4 packed cups of basil, so bought the canned tomatoes with basil. Not having a food mill, I used my immersion blender to break up the tomatoes. I love the seeds, but if you don’t you would want to use a food mill. It needs about ¼ tsp of light brown sugar per medium sized bowl of soup to cut the acid, but otherwise the recipe worked fine.

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1st October 2011

Shortbread Hearts : page 177

The dough came together reluctantly acting like pie dough without enough water. After chilling, it rolled out just fine. I would not have gotten 24 if I had followed the directions to roll them ½ inch thick and use a 3” heart cutter. My thickness was too variable ¼ to ½ inch and I used a 2” heart cutter. I dusted them with the smaller crystal size of natural cane sugar and they looked very nice and tasted like classic shortbread. This was a good classic recipe and next time I will roll them all 1/2 inch, but also cut out 1" hearts as well so that my son can more easily bear to part with them to share with his college friends.

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9th October 2011

Strawberry Scones : page 220

Bursting with strawberry flavor, a wonderful way to use my homemade dehydrated strawberries. They would break a tooth as is, so I measured out the necessary amount, rinsed them with water, did not shake off the excess and let sit in the refrigerator overnight. A few were still hard, a few were a little soft, but most were somewhat softened and I was pleased. After cutting into small pieces, I still had the needed ¾ cup (they had swollen a little, but with cutting, took up less room in the cup). Since my maple scones had been so soft, they did not rise very much, I left out 1 stick of butter and one egg. I used Demerara sugar on top for more pronounced sparkle. Overall they came out perfectly, rose nicely and were just moist enough. However once again I had been tempted into buying white whole wheat flour and used only that. It gave the scones a bit of unpleasant flavor and texture. I suggest using it like whole wheat flour; I hope to never buy it again. (The last time I bought it I was mainly making leavened bread and did not like it there either.) I do like these scones as a nice use to showcase my dried strawberries.

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A nice presentation and easy to change the proportions as the amount of sesame oil to add to coat the peas is not stated. I started with pre-washed peas which increased the ease of preparation. The sweetness of the peas was accentuated and more noticeable than eating them plain. It is worth it to seek out the black sesame seeds as it really does make a spectacular presentation. They are not as pretty with the strings removed, but easier to eat. She suggests serving them as room temperature, I like them better with a little chill still on them, and they are more refreshing.

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14th October 2011

Szechuan noodles : page 108

A beautiful tasty dish and we also had it with Steelhead trout. I think it would stand alone and be great with some sugar snap peapods as well. I followed Quezzle Sister’s advice to add more veges – an orange pepper, and break the spaghetti in half. Loretta had commented that the sauce made the noodles mushy and so I froze the ginger, thinking that the enzymes in the ginger were the culprit and I did not notice any mushiness to the noodles, but kept the leftover sauce separate, just in case. The sauce started thin, but thickened as it stood. I used spaghetti rigati, and the square ridges held the sauce nicely. This had a more complex sauce and with more colorful vegetables than a peanut butter based dish I had made in the past.

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