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Friday, February 22, 2008

i need a little help from my friends...

as you may or may not remember i have this lofty goal... creating a 6 week menu plan. trying to account for eating leftovers, pizza nights & going out, i'm figuring i need about 24 different meals. so finding these 24 meals has become a quest for my own, personal holy grail. see i don't want just okay meals, i want great meals. when i ask jeff how he liked dinner, i don't want to hear "hmm, it was good". i want to hear "wow! that was great. when do we get to have it again?" so i've been perusing my shelf of cook books, looking to add some new favorites to my list of tried & trues, but that's where we come to my next problem... my cook book phobia. they are pretty to look out, fun to read, but when it comes down to it, i have a hard time picking recipes to try. that's where you come in. i've noticed i have a large supply of rachael ray's cook books. the idea that i can prepare a great meal in just 30 minutes totally grabs my attention. but i have to be honest, i've never tried a single one the recipes. so i'm looking to all of you for a little guidance & help. i know there has got to be a fan (or two) of rachael ray's out there. so tell me, which of her recipes are your favorite? i'd love to break in my cook books, but i definitely need a little help from my friends to take that first step. help a girl feed her family...


Susie said...

Just came across your blog for the first time and wanted to say that I just started getting into RR cooking the end of December and have loved it.
I have all of her books already except for 4 and have 12 of her magazines.
Just pick any recipe that sounds good. :)I have loved everything I've made and so has my husband.
Here are photos of everything except the first thing I cooked of RR's:
I have had such fun. I have been cooking for 34 years and not very well and was getting so sick of it but NOW I'm all excited to get in the kitchen because of RR.
Watch all the shows you can as that really helps.
I can't do her meals in 30. It normally takes me 45 but I don't care about that anyway. She has been doing this forever. I have to take time to look at the recipe over and over and she doesn't and she can chop a million times faster.
Have fun,
Susie in northern NY

Lindsey said...

Can I e-mail you a recipe that isn't Rachel Ray? I am not that familiar with her recipes. Although I do love the idea of 30 minute dinners. LOVE IT.

Susie said...

Oh, I forget to tell you. Every meal I've made has at least one to four extra nights of leftovers. WE LOVE leftovers. :)
Susie in northern NY

Mom2fur said...

I've never made anything by Rachel Ray, to be honest. I've done some of Paula Deen's recipes, and one or two of Giada's.
My family's favorite dish, "Western Hospitality Casserole," takes about 4 hours from start to finish--but there's so much 'simmering' time that you aren't in the kitchen all that much. It's an amazing casserole and something you might want to do on a special occasion.
I'm not as much a cookbook fan as I am a magazine recipe fan. I want pictures of the finished product, for one thing! Plus, it's a stretch to say I'd use much more than 10% of any cookbook's recipes.
Speaking of magazines, have you ever seen "Simple and Delicious"? These recipes are made with things you generally have on hand...and can usually be whipped up pretty quickly.
Also, don't worry that it takes you 45 minutes to do an RR recipe. Don't forget, she preps things ahead of time! For instance, she always washes and cuts her vegetables when she brings them home. So that already puts her ahead of the game!

Joanne said...

Rachael Ray has tons of recipes on her website. Check them out before buying her books. The thing I noticed about her cookbooks (at least the few I checked out) was that the recipes seemed to have ingredients that you wouldn't ordinarily have on hand. And that's fine for people who plan ahead and shop ahead-but I'm the type to say, what should I make for dinner and look through a cookbook the same day.

Don't get me wrong, I LOVE Rachael Ray. You may also be able to find her cookbooks at your library, that's where I checked out a few. But with her website I feel like you get a little more variety than her books.

Good luck! It's that never ending battle of what's for dinner.

Ashlee said...

I have never cooked one of her recipes. I've watched her show on Food Network but all the things I see her make are things I know my kids won't eat. So, I haven't tried them. Paula Deen rocks. I have four of her cookbooks and have made several of her recipes.

Anonymous said...

The one go to RR recipe I her Devilish Chilly Dogs....EVERYONE at my house loves them and begs for them anytime the word Hot Dog comes up! If you can't find the recipe, and want it, email me and I will hook you up!!!

Lacie said...

I love Paula Deen! She has simple yummy recipes that both husbands and kids seem to enjoy-

Ok...I love cookbooks! However, I tend to make adjustment to the recipes as I go. One recipe book that I LOVE as is with no changes is...Southern Living Easy Weeknight Favorites!!! It should be in every home~ So easy, but still looks like you worked so hard!!!! Look it up!

mama jo said...

as you know...i don't really cook anymore...not much anyway...and you seem to have all of my recipes...i do like to watch giada...and paula deen...

britty said...

i have made 2 RR recipes just from watching the show - and they were awesome. i don't know if they're in the cook book and by now, i just do it my way, but try French Bread Pizza (basically a French loaf cut in halt and filled with ground beef, pizza sause, chopped veggies and topped w/cheese) and Dessert Pizza (pre-made pizza dough, topped with rosemary, baked and then add whipped cream and fruit) yum!

The Wilkins said...

Our favorites of hers are: Chipotle Cashew Chicken and Apricot Chicken (I served the apricot chicken on homemade fried rice). SO good!

i'm kelly said...

i'm loving the ideas... keep them coming. and i'm definitely open to any recipes! i just saw those rr cook books & thought they might be a bit lonely & could use a little dusting off. so if you have any other favorites. definitely send them my way!

Kirsten Sue said...

Hey I love Rachel Ray but I just gotta say I have never liked any of her recipes. Most of her ingredients aren't practical and the food never tastes that incredible. I like to the basics. Things that taste good time after time and aren't crazy to make. sorry I'm not much help. Good luck!

Mom2fur said...

I'm back with a recipe!

Potato Drumsticks

1/2 Cup butter (one stick)
16 drumsticks
salt and pepper to taste
garlic powder to taste (of course you can use real garlic--my ulcer says 'no'.)
2 eggs, beaten
4 Tablespoons water
Instant Potato Flakes--make sure they are the flaky kind

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
Melt butter in a 9x13 pan (you can do this right in the oven!) Mix water and egg in one shallow dish. Mix spices and potato flakes in another dish. Dip chicken in egg then roll in potato flakes. Brown chicken on the stove (you can skip this part--I just think it makes it look prettier). Then arrange chicken legs in the pan of melted butter, turning to coat with butter. Bake for about an hour, until done.
You can do this with boneless cutlets, but be sure to cut your cooking time!

Laurie said...

This is such a great topic. It's one that's been on my mind as well. I've been thinking about checking out more of the food blogs. There are some really amazing cooks out there.

Chanda keeps raving about this one, A Year of Crockpotting.

I've got to admit, I'm intrigued.

Elizabeth said...

I have a few RR cookbooks and the meals that I have prepared from them haven't been what I expected.They were all good,but I am not getting all the hype.I cook 3 meals a day 7 days a week for 6 people and I am in and out of the kitchen in no time. I try to plan my weekly meals on Sunday and stick to it throughout the week.Dinners usually run me 30 min to an hour depending on oven time.I am one of those people who have to visualize things.So if I see a menu on the fridge then I will make what is listed. Check sites like and .They have categories for quick weeknight meals.And there are lots to choose from.And tend to have very good quickly prepared meals too. And like some of your other readers,I prefer Paula Deen.But I am a southern girl and grew up eating most of what she cooks.I hope this helps.Talk to you soon.....Oh, and by the way, my mother LOVED the necklace.She wears it all the time.Thanks again.

Rochelleht said...

Kelly, re: your comment. The Nummy's Casserole is really good, but it didn't actually come with directions. I got it from my MIL's ward and it was just ingredients, so this is what I do. I cook the mac and set it aside. I brown the beef with the seasonings. Then I add the cans of soup and corn. I added half the cheese to this sauce. Then I dumped it over the macaroni and mixed it. I bake it for 350 until bubbly. I throw the rest of the cheese on top about 5-10 minutes before taking it out. Let me know if you like it.

Emily said...

Elsa's Beef and Burgundy is fabulous! I got it off her website, not sure if it is in one of the books. It's not exactly quick, but it is just melt in your mouth!

cj said...

I am not a huge Rachel Ray fan, but here are some of my other favorites that are pretty quick:

Paula Deen's French Toast Casserole
Paula Deen's Taco Soup
Zach's Alotta Southwestern Enchiladas
Barefoot Contessa Chicken Pot Pie
Giada's Fusilli with Sausage, Artichokes, and Sun-Dried Tomatoes

I also love Trader Joes and here are some of my frequent fixes

Chicken Chili Lime Burgers
Curry Chicken
Carne Asada
package edamame for snacks

Hope this helps!

Love ya.

Kristi said...

Rachael Ray used to be on at 5:00 here and I always used to get so inspired by her. I have one of her cookbooks and I've made several things from it. My favorite is the Chicken Tikka Kebabs with parsley & walnut pesto. I've made that several times now. I guess the reason I don't cook from her cookbook a lot though, is b/c I don't have most of those ingredients on hand. I do like watching her though and getting concepts down. Like here are some of my favorite things I've learned from her:

*add beef broth to your homemade pasta/marinara sauce- it will give it more of the slow cooked flavor

*you can make a pesto from any combination of nuts, leaves(spinach,basil,parsley, etc.), hard cheese and oil (I don't know why but making pesto makes me feel like a gourmet cook, lol)

*cut up any kind of potato in wedges or cubes, drizzle with oil and add your favorite seasoning-- bake in the oven for 30 minutes on broil- I do this one ALL the time- our favorite is sweet potato oven fries- yum!!

*rub a whole garlic clove on bread that has been toasted under the broiler

*Substitute some of the milk/cream in a roux with chicken broth- it cuts down on some of the fat and adds flavor

Phew, those are some of the things I could think of from the top of my head. I don't get to watch her show any more and I miss it- I like learning those concepts- I think that is even better than learning actual recipes.

Jenmomof4 said...

This is one of my families favorite recipes and it is super easy. Sorry not Rachel Ray but thought I would share. We have six in our family.

6 frozen skinless chicken breasts
stick of butter
1 can Campbells Beef Consume
1 can Campbells French Onion soup
1 cup of raw rice
1 jar of sliced mushrooms

heat oven to 350

melt butter in your 9 x 13 glass pan

pour in the rice, both cans of soup, mushrooms and lay the chicken on top.

put in oven for about 1 hour.

Your house will smell fantastic and it tastes great!

If the rice is still alittle runny after one hour then keep it in for 10 or so more minutes.

I serve with frozen veggies that I nuke in the micro right before the chicken and rice are done!