Friday, January 1, 2010

Rating Rachel Ray's Recipes

I use letter grades because I'm a former teacher and I can't shake the impulse. All of these recipes are taken from Rachel Ray 30 Minute Meals (the original) and I include page numbers so that you can easily find it if you choose. I also include notes about what worked and what didn't. I do NOT include the recipe itself because I'm not a filthy dirty idea stealer. Just so you know.

Coming Soon:
Chicken Parmigiana

2/11/10 Dilly of a Quesadilla
Grade: A-
Cook time: 45 minutes (you can do it faster if you're a fast chopper, which I'm not)

This recipe actually had two parts. The fresh salsa was only about a "C" but the quesadillas were super yummy. Just find a salsa recipe you like (or even fresh salsa from the store) and you'll be fine. The recipe depends on finding good chorizo, which is easy where I live. It needs to have rich flavor without the fat and gristle. The smoky barbecue sauce on the chicken was a nice touch and with the right salsa, this would be muy delicioso.

2/9/10 Macho Mix and Match Enchiladas
Grade: C-
Cook time: 40-ish minutes

I chose the combination of chicken filling and red sauce. The whole thing was easy to make but the method of poaching the chicken didn't allow for it to soak up much flavor and then broiling it to melt the cheese meant that the tortillas still weren't soft when I served them. I just found the whole thing kind of bland. It didn't help that I was aggravated because I forgot to make the sauce at the same time that the chicken was cooking. (Duh.) I think the lesson here is that you can't really short cut with enchiladas. They really need to be cooked casserole style for all the cheesy, gooey goodness.

2/3/10 Pasta Abruzzese (Penne with Sausage, Fennel and Tomato Sauce) p. 39
Grade: B+
Cook Time: 35 minutes

My husband really liked this but he found the sausage a bit gristly (I used a pound of sweet Italian sausage from the meat case). I think the Italian seasoned ground turkey would be a good substitute. Anyway, although I liked the fresh fennel taste and using the Muir Glen tomatoes was a big improvement over the Hunt's, it was a little too mellow for me. I spiced mine up with red pepper flakes. My husband and ten-year-old son liked it just as it was.

2/1/10: Carbonara Pizza: Bacon, Egg, and Cheese (p. 80)
Grade: B+
Cook time: Prep is 30 minutes. Cooking is closer to 40 total.

I was skeptical of a pizza without sauce but this was really lovely. I only had curly parsley instead of flat leaf, but that worked out and although I wish I had fresh mozzarella, I used the pre-shredded cheese from a bag and it still came out great so I'm sure the fresh stuff would rock this. It's not hearty enough to stand alone as a meal but it would be fantastic with a robust dinner salad. The recipe notes that it can be cut into smaller pieces for a great appetizer which I would totally agree with. I actually think this would make a great breakfast if you want to keep things interesting. The baking directions are confusing but just go with it and it will come out fine (meaning don't preheat and set the timer to start when you turn the heat on).

1/10: Penne with Classic Bolognese Meat Sauce (p. 36)
Grade: B-
Cook time: It really is 30 minutes.

I used the extra lean ground beef option to keep it healthy. The all spice added an interesting flavor I really liked but I used the cheap Hunt's crushed tomatoes and I should definitely have sprung for the more expensive brand. Muir Glen, maybe? Or Cento? Be generous with the red pepper flakes and I used a whole wheat penne which tasted fine in the recipe.

1/10: Spicy Chicken Tacos (p. 101)
Grade: B
Cook time: My husband made it and I forgot to ask him

Definitely get a good quality tomato puree. Not the Hunt's (it'll taste ketchup-y otherwise). Be generous with the golden raisins because they add a nice taste. A solid meal I'd make again. The toppings give the whole thing a fresh light taste.


Amber Lynae said...

I love that you are reviewing her recipes. I have a cookie book I am going through now and I always wish I had another's thoughts on the recipes before trying them. That is why I love so much i can see what people say about it.

CaJoh said...

This is such a clever idea. I never thought of doing that myself. I look forward to other grades which will most likely encourage me to actually buy the book.