Posts tagged ‘Rachael Ray’

Slowly Overcoming Recipe Dependence

Confession: I am recipe dependent. I have an incredibly hard time coming up with meal ideas without step-by-step instructions. Inspiration just doesn’t come to me like that. As a result, I’ll probably never make it to Top Chef. Oh well.

Anyway, this picture kept catching my eye when I flipped through my recipe binder:

photo © Rachael Ray

I read the recipe for Sausage-and-Zucchini Rice but I thought it seemed a little bland…and I didn’t want to be stuck with another boring Rachael dish. Then I did something unthinkable (for me): I altered it before I even made it! Basically, I cut down on the butter and chicken broth and added a lot more vegetables. I’m really happy with the way it turned out.

The result was this delicious beauty (if I could hire Rach’s photographers, it’d be even prettier):

zucchini rice

Veggie and Sausage Rice (serves about 6)

Adapted from Everyday with Rachael Ray

1 tablespoon butter
1/2 an onion, finely chopped
1-1/2 cups rice
3 cups chicken broth
1/2 pound hot Italian sausage, casings discarded
2 zucchini, cut into small cubes
1 carrot, cut into small cubes
1 celery stalk, cut into small cubes
2 mushrooms, cut into small cubes
1 cup frozen corn, defrosted

In a saucepan over medium heat, melt the butter. Add the onion and cook, stirring frequently, for about 5 minutes. Add the chicken broth and rice. Bring to a boil. Lower the heat, cover, and cook for about 20 minutes, or until the rice is tender.

While the rice cooks, grab a large skillet. Over medium heat, cook and break up the sausage into small pieces until it is cooked through. With a slotted spoon, move the sausage to a paper towel lined plate.

Add the zucchini, carrots and celery to the skillet and cook for about 4 minutes, or until the vegetables are cooked to your liking. Return the sausage to the skillet and add the corn and mushrooms. Cook until heated through.

If you skillet is big enough, you can mix the rice with the vegetables right in the skillet. Otherwise, serve the rice in bowls and then serve the vegetables and sausage on top.

Enjoy! Hopefully there are many more “recipe independent” meals in my future.

This recipe could easily be made vegetarian by omitting the sausage, using vegetable broth instead of chicken and cooking the vegetables in vegetable oil. However, I had sausage in my freezer…and felt like cooking meat :)

September 24, 2009 at 9:51 am 1 comment

Kielbasa Pizza and Why I Still Eat Meat

Last night for dinner I made this kielbasa and onion pizza, inspired by a recipe from Everyday with Rachael Ray.


I made the following changes to the original recipe:

  • made my own pizza dough (we’re looking for a better recipe though–anyone have one?)
  • used a mix of provolone and swiss cheese (the gruyère was really expensive)
  • only used one onion
  • used dried thyme

The pizza was pretty good overall.  The husband is a big fan of kielbasa and it goes on sale every few weeks at our supermarket, so we eat it a few times a month.  I never would’ve thought to put it on pizza though–I’m terribly uncreative and unoriginal in the kitchen.  Thank goodness for cooking magazines and shows to inspire me!

Why I Still Eat Meat

For the past several days, I’ve been seriously pondering the question of why I’m still eating meat at all.   Honestly, I was the only one pondering this question, at least aloud. My husband, my family and my friends, though generally aware of my views and recent changes to my diet, have never inquired as to why I haven’t gone completely vegetarian. They probably have better things to occupy their minds with.  If the vegetarians whose blogs I frequently read, cite and comment on are wondering, they haven’t actually asked me.

Brian and I discussed this thoroughly while eating the above meat-topped pizza last night.  In the end, I’ve decided it’s probably mentally healthier (and easier, though I mentioned several times that ‘what’s right is not always what’s easy’) for me to remain a flexitarian/semitarian.  Changing one’s eating habits is a gradual process and I don’t have to go radical overnight.  Eating meat once or twice a week, or on special occasions, is not going to make me drop dead.  He also pointed out to me that if I want to “change the world,” I should perhaps focus more of my energy on petitioning elected officials and the like instead of agonizing over the amount of animal products in my lunch.  It is possible to eat healthy AND eat meat (I am in no way labelling kielbasa as a healthy meat!).  Plus, it should be noted, nine months ago the argument Brian and I were having was about the fact that I loved junk food and was going to stock our pantry with it when we got married whether he liked it or not.  Now the tables have turned and I’m the “health nut”.

Interestingly enough, Caitlin on Healthy Tipping Point was answering a similar question this morning: “Do you ever feel pressure to eat “perfectly” or “complete dinners” because of your blog?“.  I realized that I may be feeling pressured to become a full vegetarian because the blogs I admire the most are written by vegetarians and it’s the lifestyle I advocate most on this blog.  However, eating meat isn’t always bad and it is possible to be an unhealthy vegetarian.  My eating (and this blog) is primarily about delicious food that is also healthy, whether or not it fits into a labeled lifestyle.  Food bloggers are normal people, so for now I’m just going to eat as healthy as I can, meat included.

August 26, 2009 at 10:48 am 2 comments

Don’t Bother: Coconut Curry Chicken

I feel the need to explain what feels to me like the recent influx of Rachael Ray recipe reviews on this blog.  Before I moved, I cut up over a year’s worth of Everyday with Rachael Ray magazines and filed the recipes I actually  wanted to make in my recipe binder.  Now the majority of the recipes in my binder are from Rachael.  Though after last night, I’m less enthused about trying them.

Last night’s pick (because I have to keep my Man happy by serving meat once in a while…oh, and I like meat, too) was a 5 ingredient recipe for Coconut Curry Chicken.  We both like coconut and curry, it sounded simple enough and so I opted to give it a try.  It wasn’t difficult to make, and it looked pretty:

The taste, however, was lacking.  By which I mean, it didn’t really have any taste.  I know, it seems odd to say that a curry dish could have no taste, but my Man will back me up on this.  It’s not that it was bad, per se, it just wasn’t good.   It didn’t taste like curry.  It didn’t taste like coconut.  The recipe has 5 rave reviews, so either they’re crazy or I did something wrong (and despite a recent series of kitchen mistakes on my part, I think I made this one correctly).

We’ll be eating it again tonight, because there are still two servings left, but I don’t think I’ll be making this recipe again.  Definitely going to search for a relatively simple, delicious curry recipe for the future.

July 23, 2009 at 8:22 am 3 comments

Room For Improvement: “Mac ‘n’ Goat Cheese”

Last week was the final week (I hope) of last minute menu planning and food shopping.  I decided to make a recipe without reading it through and, as a result, found it to be less than I’d hoped for.

The recipe, Mac ‘n’ Goat Cheese, is from Everyday with Rachael Ray.  I liked it because it’s simple and includes some of my favorite ingredients: pasta, garlic, cherry tomatoes, spinach, cheese (we replaced the goat cheese with feta) and walnuts.   Plus it was vegetarian and I really need to work towards deliberately planning vegetarian meals.   Now, before I shower Rachael with criticism, I must confess that I didn’t follow the directions completely.  I cooked a pound of pasta (because I hate having a box with just a little bit of pasta in it!) but I neglected to increase all the other ingredients.

The dish came out fine otherwise however, and since we had tons of leftovers, I cooked up more spinach and garlic for the second night and added it in.  The problem with this “Mac ‘n’ Cheese” is that it isn’t really mac and cheese…it’s more like pasta salad.  The dish never gets baked (despite the misleading picture of the macaroni in a baking dish in the magazine) so the cheese doesn’t melt, and there’s nothing crunchy.  For a pasta salad, it was good.  But I wanted to make mac ‘n’ cheese.  In fact, my Man and I ate the leftovers cold. Granted, if I’d read the recipe all the way through before cooking it, I would’ve know this.

If I wanted to make this pasta salad again, I’d probably increase the amount of garlic, cheese, nuts and especially tomatoes and spinach even further.  I think a few sliced black olives would be a nice addition as well.  I’d also switch out the pasta for whole wheat pasta, which would leave me feeling less guilty for eating the same meal for dinner three nights in a row.  If you’re craving really good mac ‘n’ cheese instead of pasta salad though I would definitely re-recommend Cheese Lovers 5 Cheese Mac and Cheese.

July 18, 2009 at 2:34 pm

Mixed Sucess: Saturday Dinner

Menu: Rachael Ray’s Sesame and Herbes de Provence Chicken Tenders —  Quick Barley  —  Salad


Recipe review: Before writing my own recipe review, before even cooking a recipe, I should probably read the comments and reviews posted on the Food Network recipe page.  But I’m not that smart (or I’m too trusting of Rachael, or too disinterested in other people’s opinions…take your pick).  Anyway, I knew as soon as I tasted the chicken that it was really salty.  Surprise! Guess what the complaint of the majority of the 67 reviewers who over all gave the recipe only 2 stars was?  Too much salt!

That said, it did turn out to be edible, especially with the shallot and sherry vinegar dressing.  It was an easy recipe to create, I bought the herbes de provence in the bulk foods section of my local co-op, so I ended up with only as much as I needed (21 cents worth!).  I’d make it again, but tweak the coating (probably just leave out the salt; the herbes/sesame seeds/minced onion seemed like a decent combination to me).  Also, the chicken didn’t brown up much since it was baked in the oven; I’ll probably try cooking in in a little oil or something in a pan next time.

The quick barley was origially purchased because I couldn’t find pearled barley at my wonderful supermarket for my soup last week.  Barley is another one of those things we don’t eat in my house.  It turned out to be really, really good.  I expect barley will be making more menu appearances in the future, which makes me happy.

In summary, I’d make it again, but it wasn’t the most amazing thing ever, and the coating needs some serious tweaking.  But yay for barley (impending taste test: is pearled barley much better than quick barley?)

March 8, 2009 at 10:13 am

Sunday’s Dinner: Potato, Spinach and Artichoke Soup

Potato, Spinach and Artichoke Soup from the February 2008 issue of Every Day with Rachael Ray.


It tastes better than it looks, I promise...

Substitutions: Surprisingly, I only made one ingredient substitution for this recipe!  My silly supermarket didn’t have any frozen artichokes (but had more kinds of frozen broccoli than anyone could ever need), so I bought a can of un-marinated, “ready to serve” ones.  As far as I can tell, they worked just fine.

Recipe comments: I made a pretty big mess of the kitchen with this one.  Honestly, that’s par for the course, but this one seemed especially bad.  I neglected to thaw the frozen spinach, so I spent a while thawing it in the microwave, which somehow resulted in a lot of it getting all over the kitchen.  Furthermore, even though this recipe was found in the 30 Minute Meals section of the magazine, it took me over an hour to prepare.  I don’t know why.  Either Rachael’s crazy or I’m slow.  Maybe both.

Reaction: I liked this soup a lot, though I’ll amend that by adding that I love soup, especially when spinach and potatoes are involved.  At any rate, it was pretty light and tasted great.  Even my dad, who I’d been harassing for days about the fact that artichokes were included (“eww…”) had two bowls.

Also, I just need to share this photo of the bread I made, from a Pillsbury can:


I have no idea why it came out that way…I just popped the can and put it in the oven, as per the directions.  It tasted fine and added some humor to the meal.

January 19, 2009 at 10:49 pm

Rachael Ray’s “Turkey Turnovers”

Tonight’s culinary adventure was creating the Turkey Turnovers from the February issue of Everyday with Rachael Ray. Though I’ve been subscribed for a year now, I’ve been pretty bad about actually cooking much out of the magazine.  But I’m trying to change that.



I checked out the magazine’s website and it doesn’t look like the recipe will be posted until the next issue is on newsstands, but in summary, its turkey cutlets wrapped around spreadable herb cheese (such as Boursin or Alouette) and fresh spinach, cooked with a bit of olive oil, then simmered in a can of diced tomatoes and a sprinkle of fennel.

I’m not sure why I decided to do this recipe, but it was worth it.  My turnovers were smaller than the recipe called for (My pound of turkey cutlets contained ten really thin sliced pieces-the recipe called for 4 for the same weight).  As a result, my “turnovers” were more like tiny roll-ups and some of the cheese oozed out in the cooking process.  But when all was said and done, it was really tasty and easy to make.  The fennel, which I almost skipped purchasing, completely made the dish.  Rachael’s recipe, as usual, was simple, inexpensive and delicious.

I’m already coming up with ideas to alter it…chicken, more cheese (more cheese is always the right choice), more tomatoes, tomatoes inside, other herbs…the possibilities are endless with food…

Another thing I really liked about this recipe was that I used up just about all the ingredients.  I still have cheese in my fridge from the mac and cheese–anyone want to come over and help me eat it?

January 14, 2009 at 8:22 pm

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