Showing posts with label Cooking. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Cooking. Show all posts

Tuesday, April 25, 2017

Rosy's Test Kitchen #3: Cooking Successes and Cooking Conundrums - "Soup, Salad and a Sandwich"

Hello, again, everyone. 

If you have been following me on this new little cooking venture I have embarked upon, you know that I had some problems in my first installment but did much better in Installment #2, where I shared a Moroccan Chicken Vegetable Soup and some of my comfort food favorites.

Today, it's all about soup, salad and a sandwich.

I have already professed my love of soup in the last installment, so I don't need to go into that again, but salad.  A good salad with a nice piece of protein is probably the perfect meal.  And a sandwich?  Comfort food extraordinaire.  Oprah has been known to wax poetic about her childhood and the joys of eating Campbell's tomato soup and a grilled cheese sandwich. I, too, found that combination a childhood favorite.  If it's good enough for Oprah, it's certainly good enough for me!

So speaking of grilled cheese sandwiches, for the Test Kitchen portion of this post, I am going to wage

And naturally, since this is my blog, I will be the judge!

I think I already shared my fool-proof method for making the best grilled cheese sandwich, but I will share it again here.  I bake it!  No chance of burning the bread and it comes out perfectly every time.
"Rosy's Baked Grilled Cheese Sandwich"

  • Set the oven at 425 degrees and put a baking sheet into the oven to warm while the oven is heating up.

  • Butter two pieces of bread on one side (some people swear by using mayo instead of butter, but I tried that and thought it made the bread greasier and tougher but do what you want with that).

  • When the oven has reached 425, pull out the baking sheet (be sure to remember to use an oven mitt or potholder), place one slice of bread buttered side down, layer on your cheese (I use Kraft singles - 2 and a half slices - but you can use higher end cheese if you like.  I just think the singles melt more evenly.  I know, I know, those Kraft singles aren't really cheese, but I like them.  It's a childhood thing).  Top the first piece of bread with the other buttered slice, buttered side up and place the baking sheet with the sandwich on it into the oven.

  • Bake for 8 minutes (but depending on how brown you like your sandwich and how hot your oven bakes, you might want to check it at 5).  Then flip the sandwich over and bake for another 5 minutes or so (again checking as you go).

Voila.. Perfection!

So now my method of making grilled cheese sandwiches is going up against the famous "Waffle Iron Grilled Cheese Sandwich," "The Low Fat Grilled Cheese Sandwich," that uses low fat cream cheese for some of the cheese and is grilled in olive oil instead of butter, and the "Knife-and-Fork Grilled Cheese with Honey" from the restaurant at the Las Alcobas Hotel in the Napa Valley and recently featured in Food and Wine Magazine (May 2017).

Let the battle begin!

First, let's try the waffle iron version.


Sounds easy enough.

  • Heat the waffle iron, butter the bread, layer the cheese, put it in the waffle iron butter side up and cook for about two minutes.

What I liked: Looks easy

What I didn't like:  See picture below

What I learned:  Looking easy does not an easy or good recipe make!
Verdict:  Yuck

Yikes!  I don't know what I did wrong, but it came out a gooey, greasy mess! And...anyone know how to clean melted cheese out of a waffle iron?

OK, moving on to...


First, that sounds like an oxymoron, but if I could eat my beloved grilled cheese sandwiches and not have to worry about so many calories, that would be a plus.  And this recipe assured me that the addition of low fat cream cheese would make up for the low-fat cheese, which is not known for its creamy consistency when heated.

  • Combine 1/2 oz. 1/3-less-fat cream cheese and 1 t. canola mayo.  Add 1 oz. 2% reduced-fat grated cheddar cheese.  Spread between two slices whole-grain bread.  Sear each side in a skillet over medium heat in 1/4 t. oil until bread is browned and crisp and how you like it. 

What I liked: Swapping the olive oil for butter saves 7 grams of fat, and the cream cheese and mayo helps the low fat cheese melt to give you that pleasant mouth feel we all crave when we eat a grilled cheese sandwich.

What I didn't like: how do you determine a 1/2 oz. of cream cheese or 1 oz. of  grated cheese? You could weigh it or eye-ball it. Just do the best you can).

What I learned: I told you I don't like frying my grilled cheese sandwiches, which is why I prefer baking them, but I learned that it's probably not a good idea to run out to the mailbox while frying my grilled cheese sandwich.

Verdict:  Mostly unsuccessful

However, I was able to eat one side of the sandwich, the side that wasn't burned, and it was quite tasty - but not as good as mine!

(as served at the Las Alcobas Hotel in St. Helena, California).

You will need:

  • Softened unsalted butter for spreading
  • Eight 1/2-inch-thick slices of sourdough boule
  • 1 lb. sliced Taleggio cheese, rind removed
  • Honey for drizzling
  • Flaky sea salt and coarsely ground black pepper

Spread the butter on one side of each piece of bread.  Top the unbuttered side of the bread with the cheese, close the sandwiches and press down lightly to flatten.  Cook the sandwiches in a large griddle or skillet  on moderate heat until golden, turning once, 3 to 4 minutes per side.  Transfer to a plate and drizzle with honey and season with salt and pepper.

What I liked: adding honey to a grilled cheese sandwich?  Sounds good!

What I didn't like: having to find fancy ingredients

What I learned:  I can't find Taleggio cheese (but you can probably substitute Fontina).

Verdict:  I didn't even try it because I couldn't figure out what a boule was so if this sounds good to you and you are lazy like I am, make your grilled cheese however you like it and toss some honey on it!  Done!


Why, mine, of course!

Now on to the soup and salad. 

Warning: this is a mélange.  These next two recipes are not necessarily meant to be eaten together or with the aforementioned grilled cheese sandwich...unless you want to, of course.  Who am I to say that it's not OK to eat a grilled cheese sandwich with tortilla soup and a Burger Patty Salad?

Tortilla Soup
(From: Long forgotten paperback cookbook from the rack near the check-out stand at the supermarket)

I absolutely LOVE tortilla soups and I have tested more recipes for tortilla soup than I care to count but this one is the best...and the easiest.  However, who'd have thunk it?   I found this one in one of those little booklets that sits in racks at the checkout stand at the supermarket.  You know, one of those "50 Soups That Will Change Your Life" kinds of things.  You know what I mean.  But anyway, this is a killer tortilla soup.  But here is the REAL KILLER. It's a slow-cooker recipe!

You see, my crock pot and I do NOT get along.  I keep trying to give it a chance and every single time that darn crock pot lets me down.  Everything comes out tasting bland or soggy.

But this one dish is the exception and it's the best tortilla soup recipe to boot! It's easy and delicious.

Put all of the following into your crockpot:

  • 6 boneless skinless chicken thighs (1.25 pounds) but I use more.
  • 1 medium onion, chopped (1/2 c)
  • 3 corn tortillas cut into 1-inch pieces (I just tear them up because, who cares, they dissolve into the soup anyway)
  • 1 and 1/2 c. corn, canned or frozen
  • 1 can (15 oz.) garbanzo beans, drained and rinsed
  • 1 can (4.5 oz) chopped green chiles
  • 3/4 c salsa verde
  • 2 cans (14 oz.) chicken broth (but I use 3 cans)
  • 1 t. dried oregano leaves
  • 1 t. ground cumin
  • 1/2 t. cayenne

Cook on low for 5-7 hours.  Stir to break up the chicken thighs and then stir in two chopped tomatoes (I don't bother to seed them) and as much cilantro as you like.

What I Liked: Three easy steps. 1) - Throw everything into the crockpot 2) - Garnish 3) Eat!

What I didn't like:  I still don't like crockpots much.

What I learned: More chicken, more broth works the best and use a few more tortillas and a bit more corn if you like.

Verdict:  Successful and delicious! Ole!

(From: "Cooking Light," August 2016)

The name of this salad does not do it justice.  Burger Patty sounds like something from McDonalds.  However, I promise you, this is a very delicious and high end salad despite its unfortunate name.

-First make the burger patties-

Put the following in a food processor:

  • 1/2 medium red onion, quartered
  • 2 T. chopped parsley
  • 1/2 t. black pepper
  • 1/2 t. salt
  • 1/4 t. red pepper (cayenne)
  • 1/4 t. allspice
  • 2 garlic cloves

When combined, add 6 oz. lean ground beef, 4 oz. ground lamb (if using) - or 10 oz. of just ground beef - and 1 large egg.  Pulse in the food processor to combine.

-Next, make the dressing-

  • 1/2 c. plain Greek yogurt (the recipe calls for 2% but non-fat works fine)
  • 1/4 c. canola mayo but use whatever kind you like
  • 1 T fresh lime jusice
  • 2 T. chopped parsley
  • 1/4 t. black pepper
  • 1/8 t. salt

Mix those ingredients and then add 1/2 of a grated English cucumber to the mixture.

-The Salad-

  • The recipe calls for a 5 oz. bag of baby kale but use whatever greens you want.  Toss the greens with 1 T. oil and 1 T. fresh lime juice.  Divide greens onto 4 plates and top with the other half of the English cucumber, sliced, as much of the remaining red onion as you want and several wedges of tomatoes.  Put two meat patties on each plate and garnish the patties with the yogurt mixture.

  • Shape the meat mixture into 8 patties, place them on a jelly-roll pan or baking sheet coated with cooking spray and broil for 6 minutes or until done.

When you make the burger patty, you will swear that it just won't work because the ground beef mixture is so oozy and runny but as soon as you make the mixture into patties and put them under the broiler they come out moist and delicious.

What I liked: Nothing is better than a lovely salad and a bit of protein and the Middle Eastern flavors give it just the kick it needs to stand out.

What I didn't like: They need to change the name of this recipe.

What I learned: This recipe calls for a mixture of ground beef and lamb, but I made it with just the ground beef and it was really good.  However, I would think that adding lamb (if you like lamb) would give it an extra little kick.  I will try it with ground lamb next time, though I not only don't see ground lamb much at my supermarket, I also have a bit of a hard time eating little lamby-kins.

Verdict:  Delicious!

So that's it for this installment.  Join me next time when I will be sharing my favorite "sweets" with you.

Thanks for reading!
See you next Friday 

for my review of



The Week in Reviews
(What to See or Read and What to Avoid)

 and the latest on

"My 1001 Movies I Must See Before 

 I Die Project." 

If you enjoyed this post, feel free to copy and paste or click on the share buttons to share it on Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest and LinkedIn, email it to your friends and LIKE me on Facebook at

Check your local library for DVDs and books mentioned.

Tuesday, April 11, 2017

Rosy's Test Kitchen #2: Cooking Successes and Cooking Conundrums - "Moroccan Chicken & Vegetable Soup" and Some Comfort Food Favorites

Hello, all.  I'm back and this time it's not failures but successes.

I am going to share some comfort food recipes that I love, but first, since this is a Test Kitchen, I am going to share the latest recipe that I tested and it was a


Soup.  I love soup for a couple of reasons

First, soup is infinitely satisfying.  It takes a long time to eat, so it's filling, the warm broth fills in all of those little hungry nooks and crannies in your stomach. It is the ultimate comfort food. But another reason is that soup is quite forgiving when it comes to experimenting and substituting and getting rid of a bunch of stuff you have festering in the fridge.  Well, not festering, but you know what I mean.  And I love to experiment, substitute and get rid of stuff. 

However, experimenting, substituting and getting rid of stuff can be a blessing and a curse.  On the one hand, when you are in the midst of cooking a dish and discover you don't have something you need and Hubby won't go out and fetch it for you, then it's a gift to be good at figuring out how to get around that by substituting.  Don't have tahini?  How about some peanut butter? Don't have serrano peppers?  Use that can of diced jalapenos that you have in the cupboard.  However, on the other hand, it's possible to get carried away with the experimenting and substituting and getting rid of stuff and ruin the dish, which explains some of my cooking disasters.

Anyway, there is a little of all of that in this soup...the substituting, experimenting and getting of rid of stuff, I mean.

"Moroccan Chicken and Vegetable Soup with Chickpea Croutons"
(Clean Eating Magazine Jan/Feb 2017)

As I said, I love soup, and I like Asian and Middle Eastern flavors, so I thought I would give this a try because it looked yummy and I was intrigued by the chickpea croutons.

So let's start with the Chickpea Croutons
(Make these first. They are a bit labor intensive but totally worth the time and they top off this dish perfectly).
  • 1 can chickpeas drained and rinsed and patted dry
  • 1.5 T coconut oil
  • Pinch salt
  • 1/4 t cumin
  • 1/8 t cinnamon
  • Pinch ground ginger
Place chickpeas on a baking sheet lined with parchment paper.  Roast for 30 minutes at 400 degrees.  Add the oil and salt and toss.  Return to the oven for another 15 to 20 minute until golden brown.  Then turn the oven off and toss the chickpeas with the cumin, cinnamon and ginger.  Return to the oven and leave in there for an hour or until they are crunchy.  Cool.

The Soup

  • 2 T coconut oil
  • 2 stalks of celery, diced
  • 1 carrot diced (I like to use julienned carrots that I buy in a bag at the supermarket and you can just grab a handful and toss it in)
  • 1 yellow onion
  • 1 and 1/4 t turmeric
  • 3/4 t each ground ginger and cinnamon  (I had run out of turmeric but had a curry blend that included it plus some other spices so I used that and it worked well - in fact, who knows, maybe it worked better)!
  • 1/2 t cumin
  • Pinch black pepper
  • 1-18 oz jar diced tomatoes with juices (I think I just used a 15 oz can - worked just as well as I am not big on tomato heavy broths)
  • 1 t sea salt
  • 2 sweet potatoes, peeled and diced (I never dice stuff.  I am a chopper and just eyeball it)
  • 6 cups chicken or vegetable broth
  • 2 cups diced or shredded chicken
  • 1/4 c each chopped fresh cilantro and flat-leaf parsley
  • 3 cups lightly packed baby spinach
  • 1 lemon, cut into wedges

Set the stove to medium heat and toss the oil, celery, carrots and onion into a stockpot.  Cook about 6 minutes then add the spices and cook another minute.  add tomatoes and salt and cook another 2 minutes.  Add the potatoes and broth, bring to a boil and reduce heat to low, simmer covered for about 25 minutes (until potatoes are tender).  Add the chicken, cilantro and parsley and heat through a couple more minutes.  Add more broth if desired and season.  Stir in the spinach.

Now here is the piece de resistance: Top the soup with the croutons! (and you can serve the soup with lemon wedges if you want to but I didn't) 

What I liked:

You can vary ingredients and even amounts of ingredients and make it to your liking.  You also don't need to obsess over having to dice stuff.  Unless you are a compulsive/obsessive, don't.  Why bother to dice when it works just as well chopped?  I love cilantro so I go heavy on the cilantro so the flavor shines through. I think recipes never call for enough of it.  But if you are not big on cilantro, again do what you like.  I go easier on the spinach because I'm not a big fan of spinach and the soup was still delicious so add and detract as you wish.  I also add more broth.

This also works as a vegetarian dish - just use vegetable broth and leave out the chicken.

What I learned: 

The most labor intensive part of this recipe is making the chickpea croutons but they are totally worth it

Secret Ingredient:  I had this wilted Asian cabbage salad on hand and was about to throw it out but had this crazy idea to toss about a cup of it into the soup and guess what?  It was fine and gave the soup some added texture.  But I know.  Doing stuff like that is probably why some of my test recipes don't turn out, but it was just lying there and I couldn't help myself!

What makes this dish special?  The chickpea croutons and the very savory broth (maybe it was that wilted salad I threw in there)!

Verdict:  Successful!!

Now on to Rosy's Comfort Food Favorites that even SHE can't screw up!

These recipes have been tested and re-tested, and I will throw in some tips and what I have learned to make these even better.  Trust me.  I got this!

These are my favorites in a variety of "comfort food" genres: "Picnic Chicken," which is called that because it is delicious hot or cold; "Rescued Fudge Pie," a really easy and fast fudgy brownie for when you absolutely MUST have some chocolate; chicken (or turkey) lettuce cups; and the absolutely best meatballs ever.

"Picnic Chicken"

This is also from Jenny Rosenstrach's "How To Celebrate Everything," which I also featured in my first installment. The recipe calls for four pounds of chicken thighs and legs but you can use either/or.  I just use thighs because those are my favorite.  I think drumsticks are over-rated.
  • Puree 1/2 c. soy sauce, 1/4 c. fresh squeezed orange juice, juice from two small lemons (1/4 c.), 2 T. honey, 2 cloves of minced garlic, 1 T. smoked paprika, 2 t. cumin, smidge of salt and pepper and 1/2 c. olive oil in a blender or food processor.  Put the chicken in a large zip lock bag, pour the marinade over the chicken and marinate in the fridge for 24 hours.
  • The next day, discard the marinade and roast the chicken with wedges from half an orange on a baking sheet at 400 degrees for 40-45 minutes until browned and cooked through, turning the chicken halfway through.
  • You can also grill the chicken if you prefer - 10 minutes for thighs, 12 for legs or how ever you grill chicken. I haven't tried grilling it, because I'm not much of a grilled chicken kind of gal.  Grilled chicken always seems underdone to me, but since you marinade this, it will probably work fine. 
Voila!  Yummy chicken.
I tend to collect recipes for chicken thighs because I can't for the life of me cook a chicken breast without overcooking it.  If you have tips, please share.  But in general, I am also a dark meat kind of gal.

What I liked:

Marinade is very forgiving.  You don't have to be really exact most of the time.

What I didn't like:

I hate peeling garlic so I cheat a lot. Though I have been known to crush and peel the odd garlic clove, when I am in a hurry or feeling lazy, I often just use the minced garlic from Costco that comes in a big plastic jar. One half teaspoon equals a clove of garlic.

I also do not like dealing with honey.  Does anyone have a tip for that?  Most of it sticks to the spoon and then you have to push it off the spoon with your finger.  Yuck.  So here I just kind of poured the honey into the bowl and eyeballed it.  Like I said, marinade is very forgiving.
What I learned:

You don't have to roast four pounds.  You can use whatever amount of chicken you want to have as leftovers.
You actually don't have to blend the ingredients.  You can just mix them in a bowl and then pour them over the chicken or you can even just throw it all on top of the chicken in the zip lock bag and shake up the bag.  Depends on how lazy you are feeling.
I also think that recipes undercook chicken thighs.  I like my chicken thighs well done so you might want to experiment with the roasting time depending on how hot your oven gets and your taste.

What makes this recipe special:

It's very hard to screw it up and the chicken is delicious cold. When you are starving and have to have something RIGHT NOW - grab a piece of this chicken out of the fridge and eat it with a piece of whole grain bread with butter.  Delish!

Verdict:  Successful

"Mama's Rescued Fudge Pie"
(from Linda Ellerbee's book "Take Big Bites")

When you are absolutely craving some chocolate brownies or fudge and you do not have a brownie mix and you are too lazy to get out all of the ingredients to make them by scratch, this fast recipe will satisfy every time.

  • Preheat the oven to 400 degrees and then melt two squares of unsweetened Baker's chocolate and a stick of butter in a glass pie plate in the microwave at 30 second intervals stirring after each interval (takes about 3 or 4 times but be careful to not overcook the chocolate).

  • Add 1 c. sugar, 1/4 c. flour, two eggs, 1 t. vanilla and 1/4 t. salt.

  • Stir it all up in the pie plate and pop it in the oven for 25 minutes.

Delicious with ice cream too!

What I liked:

Because you bake it in a pie plate, every piece has a crunchy edge that we love brownies to have.  Well I do anyway!

What I didn't like:

Waiting 25 minutes for them to be done and then to cool!

Verdict:  Successful!

"Chicken (or Turkey) Lettuce Cups"
(from "Cooking Light Magazine" September 2011)

Where in heck do you ever find ground chicken?  So I use ground turkey almost exclusively for this recipe but it works either way.  If you can find ground chicken, then fine.

  • Season the t with salt and pepper and cook it over medium high heat in a large skillet.  Stir in 1 c. sliced red onion, 1/2 coarsely chopped artichoke hearts, 1/4 cup diced tomatoes, 1 T. chopped fresh oregano, 1 T. flat leaf parsley and 10 chopped pitted olives.  Cook for about 3 minutes until the turkey is done and then add - wait for it! - 1/2 c. diced fresh mozzarella and 1 T. fresh-squeezed lemon juice.

  • Serve in Bibb, Boston or Romaine lettuce leaves.

What I liked:

I love anything served in lettuce leaves.  Makes me feel virtuous!

What I didn't like:

I don't like olives so I omit them.  Still works fine.

What I learned:

  • The recipe needs more tomatoes, so I add more than what is called for. 
  • You can substitute dried oregano leaves if you have to.
  • The recipe calls for canned artichoke hearts, but I use the marinated ones.  I rinse them off but the marinade that remains gives this dish a kick that I think it needs and that canned artichokes would not deliver.  I know it adds a few more calories but sometimes some extra calories are worth it!

What makes this recipe special:

The diced fresh mozzarella.  It has a lovely melt and gives the dish a creamy texture and unusual taste that pairs nicely with the turkey. Costco sells a two pack of fresh mozzarella that is reasonably priced and it freezes well.

Verdict:  Ding-ding-ding!  Successful!


"Comfort Meatballs"
(from "Woman's Day Magazine" March 2010
 but this is actually one of the Pioneer Woman's recipes)

My son is not a big fan of my cooking.  When he was a teenager I was into low fat cooking and I don't think he ever got over my vegetable lasagna. 

But THIS recipe - he LOVES!  I am always asked to make this.

For the meatballs, mix:

  • 1 and 1/2 lb. ground beef
  • 3/4 c. quick oats
  • 1 c. milk
  • 3 T. finely minced onion
  • 1 and 1/2 t. salt
  • Black pepper to taste

Roll the meatballs into tablespoon size balls and refrigerate for 30-45 minutes.

Dredge the balls in 1/2 c. flour and brown them in 4 T. canola oil over medium heat.

Place them in a baking dish and drizzle the sauce over them.


  • 1 c. ketchup
  • 2 T. sugar
  • 3 T. distilled white vinegar
  • 2 T Worcestershire sauce 
  • 4-6 T. minced onions
  • Dash of Tabasco

Bake for 45 minutes at 350 degrees or until hot and bubbly.

What I learned:

  • You can use dried minced onions
  • You can use skim milk if you are worried about that kind of thing
  • Be sure to NOT skip the refrigeration part of the process because refrigerating the meatballs before browning them keeps them from falling apart
  • You don't have to use canola oil.  Use whatever you like to use

What makes this dish special: The sauce is to die and this recipe works well served over or with some pasta.

Verdict:  Very Successful

Well that's it for Installment #2. 

Stay tuned for upcoming posts: "Soup, a Sandwich and a Salad," "Sweets," and "Food Hacks: How to Make Quick, Easy Versions of Complicated Dishes."

In the meantime...

see you Friday

for my review of



The Week in Reviews

(What to See or Read and What to Avoid)
 and the latest on

"My 1001 Movies I Must See Before 

 I Die Project." 


If you enjoyed this post, feel free to copy and paste or click on the share buttons to share it on Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest and LinkedIn, email it to your friends and LIKE me on Facebook at


Tuesday, March 21, 2017

Rosy's Test Kitchen: Cooking Successes and Cooking Conundrums - #1

I love to cook.  I not only love to cook, I love to read about cooking and food. I love cookbooks and cooking magazines.  I have hundreds of cookbooks and subscribe to several cooking magazines.  I have folders filled with favorite recipes that I have tried and recipes I have pulled from magazines and books that I plan to try, so many in fact, I should start a project like my "1001 Movies I Must See Before I Die Project," and call it "My 1001 Recipes I Will Probably Never Get Around To Trying Before I Die Project."

But just because I love to cook, doesn't mean I am any good at it.  Just ask my son. 

I used to say that "If you can read, you can cook," as in follow the recipe and all will be well. But that's not always the case.  Sometimes I am successful and sometimes I am not.  And sometimes I don't follow the recipe, because I think I am a good enough cook to substitute ingredients. Again, sometimes I am successful and sometimes I am not.  But success or failure, I don't give up because, like I said, I love to cook.

I keep collecting the recipes and preparing them in my "test kitchen," so I can try them. And here's the rub.  Usually that's all I do...try them, I mean.  I want to see what the recipe tastes like and then, when I do, I move on to another recipe.  And I have so many recipes to try that I usually prepare two or three of them every weekend, which results in lots and lots of left-overs which then results in Hubby looking in the fridge and yelling, "Cripes!  Who is going to eat all of this food?" to which I reply, "You."  Hubby is my guinea pig, so don't be surprised if he weighs in from time to time.

So since cooking and reading about cooking is a big part of my life, even though I can't say I am always a successful cook, I thought it was a natural progression for Rosy the Reviewer to not only review movies and books but recipes as well and to let you follow me along with my successes and failures.

I am still primarily a reviewer of movies and books, but from time to time on this blog, I will share with you my thoughts and observations as I experiment in my kitchen.  I will "review" the recipes and share what I liked about the recipe, what I didn't like, what I learned and whether or not I was successful, as in will I prepare this recipe again?

Hopefully you will want to try some of these recipes yourself or I can steer you clear of some that didn't turn out so well, and I will share some tips along the way that will be useful to you as you work in your own "test kitchen." 

And most of all, I hope we can have some fun too!

So this is Post #1, in what I hope will be a recurring part of Rosy the Reviewer, as I review the new recipes I come across.
This week, I will be sharing with you whether or not I was successful preparing  "Mango Peanut Curry" from Clean Eating Magazine, Tia Mowry's favorite Chicken Noodle Soup published in the March 20, 2017 issue of  "People Magazine," and "Crowd-Pleaser Summer Slaw" from the book "How to Celebrate Everything: Recipes and Rituals for Birthday, Holidays, Family Dinners and Every Day in Between" by Jenny Rosenstrach.  I will also share what I learned.

Anyway, let's see what I was up to last week-end...
(in most cases, click on the link to see the full recipe)

Mango Peanut Curry

I just started subscribing to "Clean Eating" magazine and I have come to the conclusion that "clean eating" means mostly vegetarian.  I am not a vegetarian, but hey, I am into a good dish whether it contains meat or not, and I am always on the look out for good vegetarian dishes because my daughter and her husband are vegetarians.  I am also especially fond of curries, so I thought I would give this one a try.

This is basically a vegetarian dish using tofu instead of meat and has all kinds of veggies like eggplant, bell peppers and cabbage in it.

What I liked:

I could use up many fresh ingredients I had languishing in the crisper in my fridge.  You could easily substitute or add other veggies that are not specifically mentioned in the recipe.

What I didn't like:

Peeling fresh ginger.  Hate that.

Too many ingredients.  Hate that.

It's hard to find fresh mangoes.

Also right in the middle of fixing the recipe, I realized I didn't have any peanuts on hand.  Hate that too.  But do you ever get half-way through a recipe only to discover that you don't have that ingredient you were sure you had?  What to do?  Why you yell, "Hubby, I need you to go to the store!"  Works every time.

Verdict:  Not successful

The dish seemed bland and mushy.  However, I think I overcooked the tofu. You might have better luck.

What I learned:

  • You can make a curry without using curry powder, though I think I prefer the curry powder.  Here you are basically making curry powder with the turmeric, cumin, ginger and coriander.  But why do that when you can just grab curry powder from your spice rack?  I will go for one ingredient over four every time.

  • Probably shouldn't have decided to go off script and use a handful of coleslaw mix instead of the green cabbage I was supposed to chop.

  • If you can't find fresh mangoes, you can find frozen mangoes in the freezer section at the supermarket.

  • You do not need to peel an eggplant unless it's a very big one with tough skin.  The skin is perfectly edible if you like that kind of thing.  However, I learned that I don't like eggplant.

  • Still haven't figured out the best way to peel fresh ginger

  • Serve the curry over rice.  Rice makes everything better.

And what is successful every time is my baked rice recipe which I now use almost exclusively when preparing rice.  No more rice burned on the bottom of the pan, no more mushy rice and easy clean up when I use my little le crueset pot.

"Perfect-Every-Time Baked Rice"

Not sure where I got this recipe.  Believe it of not, it might be from Dean McDermott's "Gourmet Dad" cookbook (you know, Tori Spelling's husband? He used to host "Chopped Canada" and now how has own Gourmet Dad website). But I'm not sure.  Anyway, once I discovered this recipe, it's my go to.

1.  Preheat your oven to 375 degrees

2.  In a medium ovenproof saucepan bring 2 and a half cups of water to a boil.  Add a tablespoon of oil and a teaspoon of salt. 

3.  As soon as the water starts to boil, pour in 1 and a half cups of long-grain rice (I like jasmine rice) or whatever rice you like.  Put a lid on it and pop it in the preheated oven.

4.  Let it bake for 18 minutes if you are using white rice, an hour for brown.  I haven't tried it with the brown rice so proceed at your own risk.

5.  Take it out of the oven, let it stand for a couple of minutes and then stir.

Tip:  If you oven is like mine, it takes forever to heat so I recommend heating your oven first and when it's ready, then heat the water so you don't have your water boiling and you are still waiting for the oven to heat up.

You can also substitute chicken stock for the water and add whatever seasonings you would like.

Works perfectly every time.  Even I can't screw that up!

Tia Mowry's Chicken Noodle Soup

I am always on the look out for the perfect chicken noodle soup recipe. 
Nothing is more soothing and edible and this one used spaghetti noodles so I was intrigued (click on the link above for the entire recipe).

What I liked:

The soup uses chicken thighs which is my favorite chicken part.

It uses spaghetti for the noodles, which I thought was interesting and so I wanted to try that.

What I didn't like:

I don't like making my own stock.  I never have good luck with it and end up with a soup where I have to scrape off the fat and I never get it all.  Then the broth tastes greasy.  Why make your own soup when you've got Grandma Swanson on your side?

The recipe should have called for peas.

Verdict:  Not successful

There was not enough broth, the soup tasted greasy and the spaghetti didn't hold up well when reheating.

What I learned:

  • Spaghetti noodles don't hold up well as soup leftovers.  They get very gummy.

  • I already have the perfect chicken noodle soup recipe and it is one of my own creation.

  • I learned who Tina Mowry was - I didn't really know.

So far, here is my favorite chicken noodle soup recipe. 
It's a sort of combination of a couple of different recipes so I guess I can call it my very own version:

"Rosy the Reviewer's Chicken Noodle Soup"

  • Saute onions, garlic, celery and carrots (I use those julienned carrots you can get in the produce section of the supermarket because I am not a big fan of cooked carrots.  As a child, when forced to eat them, I would gag.)

  • Add at least 10 cups of chicken broth.  You can make your own stock, but I ask, why?  Mrs. Swanson has already made it for you!

  • Once you get the stock and the veggies boiling, put in the noodles.  The absolute best noodles for chicken noodle soup are the Country Pasta egg noodles (Homemade Style Egg Pasta) made by Country Foods and available at Costco.  They are just like homemade and take about 20 minutes to cook in the broth but they are perfect.  Just don't throw in too many.  I like a small ratio of noodles to broth but do what you want.  It's your soup. That's the beauty of chicken noodle soup.  You can make it to your taste.

  • Throw in some rotisserie chicken (Again, Costco has by far the best and largest rotisserie chickens for the best price) or chicken left-overs.

  • And here is the secret to great chicken noodle soup:  peas, dill and a little fresh lemon juice.

Tip:  If you enjoy the broth, and I do, I mean, isn't the broth the whole point?  I always increase the amount of stock called for.  In my opinion, soup recipes that include noodles never include enough broth.

Crowd Pleaser Summer Slaw

(from the book "How to Celebrate Everything" by Jenny Rosenstrach)

I adore coleslaw. 

Who knew from a little girl whose idea of a salad was plain iceberg lettuce?  But I have grown since then.

Slaw is one of those things that's good on everything.  I think it's the mayo. Put some slaw on a sandwich and I am in heaven so I am always drawn to new slaw recipes.

(Since I couldn't find this recipe online for free, I am including it in its entirely below.  You can also find this book on Amazon or check it out at your library).


  • 1/2 cup rice vinegar
  • 1 T. light brown sugar lightly packed
  • 2 t. fish sauce (or soy sauce)
  • 2 T. fresh lime juice (from about 1/2 large lime)
  • 2 t. finely minced peeled fresh ginger
  • 1 t. Sriracha sauce (optional)
  • 2/3 cup neutral oil such as grapeseed or sunflower (can use olive oil in a pinch)


  • 1 medium head of red cabbage, shredded with a mandolin or as fine as you can manage (about 8 cups)
  • I cup shredded baby spinach
  • 1/2 cup chopped scallions, white and light green parts only
  • 1/2 cup chopped fresh cilantro
  • 1/2 cup chopped fresh mint leaves
  • Whisk together the dressing ingredients, add to the salad and toss.

What I liked:

I am crazy about slaw and Asian flavors and I love anything with cilantro!

What I didn't like:

  • Mandolins - they are too scary.  You can slice off a finger.  That's why I actually ended up picking out some red cabbage from one of those premixed salads and substituted a premixed bag of slaw.  Probably shouldn't have done that.

  • The slaw eschewed mayo which is fine.  She was going for an Asian taste here, which I get, but it was just too vinegary and I am definitely a mayo girl when it comes to my slaw.

Verdict:  Not successful

It was bland and too vinegary, though Hubby said it got better after sitting in the fridge for awhile.  But after it sat in the fridge for a day or two, the red cabbage ran all over the salad which made it look like a murder scene in a horror film.

What I learned:

I already know how to make my favorite slaw so if it's not broke, don't fix it. I also learned that I need to quit adding new slaw recipes to my gigantic folder of recipes to try.

Here is my favorite slaw recipe:

  • Your favorite bagged slaw mix
  • Equal parts mayo and sour cream to your liking (from 1/2 to 1 cup each)
  • Chopped peppers
  • Secret ingredient:  celery seed

(For the full recipes for the curry and the chicken noodle soup, just click on the links above).

Thanks for reading. 

"Rosy's Test Kitchen" will be an intermittent part of this blog. See you next time for installment #2, where I will share some favorite recipes: my favorite chicken recipe, my favorite fudge recipe and my favorite lettuce wrap recipe, all of which even I can't screw up!


In the meantime,

It's back to movies and books! 


See you Friday 
for my review of

"Beauty and the Beast"


The Week in Reviews

(What to See or Read and What to Avoid)

 and the latest on

"My 1001 Movies I Must See Before 

 I Die Project." 



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