Tag Archives: Rachael Ray

White Bean & Tomato “Stoup”

Remember when this winter wasn’t supposed to be like last winter? It seems, with the snow we’ve been getting, we were fooled. Since our local bow-tie-wearing weatherman has revised his snow total expectancy for the winter of 2011, I’ve been working hard to make sure we have plenty of “fuel” in the fridge and cabinets since, at this rate, you never know what to expect.

Since it’s difficult to stock the fridge with food that will stay fresh until the next snowpocalypse, I focus on maintaining the stock of dried, canned, and even frozen goods. At this point, there are an infinite number of dishes that would result from a varying combination of canned or frozen vegetables, pasta, rice, beans, and other goodies, all hearty enough to make you forget about shoveling your car out. This one, for sure, is warm, filling and just a tad spicy; the perfect mixture of each to help you brave the cold.  Read More…

Party People: Thai Chicken Pizza

I rang in 2010 with a house party and a huge group of my most favorite people on the planet. The guest list hovered between 20 and 30 people for a few weeks, so when it came to menu planning I wanted to insure there would be enough food if the maximum number expected to attend was reached. Though there was enough food for everyone (with the help of family and friends who pitched in), my greatest fear was running out, so I picked up a pre-made pizza dough and some fixin’s in my grocery travels while preparing for the party.

The New Year’s Eve party was perfect in every way; there was an amazing 3-part playlist of favorites from the decade (which everyone danced to) created by my boyfriend, lots of awesome conversation and great company, delicious food, and plenty of drinks. Not only did we have enough food for the party, but we had just enough leftovers to pick at in our pajamas on January 1st. I didn’t even have to break out the emergency pizza dough.

Though there were no menu mishaps or food freak-outs on NYE, having the dough in the fridge came in handy last weekend. A handful of people were invited over last-minute, and rather than create an extravagant feast, I decided to cross-reference a short list of recipes with what was in the cabinets, the Thrift Way circular, and a grocery list of needs for the week. Rachael Ray’s Thai Chicken Pizza called for ingredients I already had, save for the chicken, and sounded quick and delicious. Perfect for an impromptu gathering.

Thai Chicken Pizza

Courtesy of Rachael Ray

1 pizza dough, any brand

1/2 cup duck sauce or plum sauce

1/2 teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes

1 package (2 cups) shredded provolone or Monterey Jack cheese

1/2 red bell pepper, thinly sliced

1 tablespoon vegetable oil

2 tablespoons soy sauce

1 rounded tablespoonful peanut butter

2 teaspoons hot sauce

2 teaspoons grill seasoning (recommended: Montreal Steak Seasoning) eyeball it

4 chicken breast cutlets, 1/2 pound

2 tablespoons honey

2 tablespoons rice wine vinegar or cider vinegar

1/4 seedless cucumber, peeled and cut into matchsticks

4 scallions, chopped

1 cup bean spouts, a couple of handfuls

Palm full cilantro leaves, chopped

1/4 cup chopped peanuts, 2 ounces

Directions

Preheat oven to 425 degrees F.

Form pizza crust on pizza pan or cookie sheet. Top with duck or plum sauce – spread it around like you would pizza sauce. Sprinkle the pizza with some crushed red pepper flakes then top with cheese and peppers. Bake until golden and bubbly, 15 to 17 minutes.

Preheat a grill pan over medium-high heat. Combine vegetable oil, soy sauce and peanut butter with hot sauce and grill seasoning. Use the microwave to loosen up peanut butter if it is too cold to blend into sauce, 10 seconds ought to do it. Add chicken and coat evenly with mixture. Let stand 10 minutes then grill chicken cutlets 2 to 3 minutes on each side, until firm. Slice chicken into very thin strips.

While chicken cooks, mix honey and vinegar and add the cucumber. Turn to coat evenly.

Top the hot, cooked pizza with chicken, scallions, sprouts and cilantro. Drain cucumbers and scatter over the pizza. Garnish pizza with peanuts, cut into 8 wedges and serve.

The dough was rolled to fit a smaller cookie sheet, and I anticipated it would be cut into 9 – 12 small squares as one of several appetizers for a group of eight people. Please know, I am not exaggerating when I tell you this pizza lasted under 15 minutes.

It sounds, and looks, like a lot of ingredients for a pizza, and I was anxious to see how the dough held up to the toppings. The recipe came out with a perfectly sturdy, thin and crispy crust that was a great base for the crunchy veggies and chicken on top. I opted to use plum sauce which, I think, has a bolder flavor than duck sauce. Additionally, I substituted shredded carrots for bean sprouts since I had them in the refrigerator already and felt the consistency would be similar. No cheese was added to my pizza; not only do I hang out with cheese haters, I also felt greasy, melty cheese would dull down the any heat in the recipe.

The peanut butter mixture used to coat the chicken cooks perfectly and gives the recipe a nice amount of nutty flavor, however I did find that I had so much extra leftover and felt I was wasting what was thrown out. Next time (and believe me, there will be a next time) I will cut back a little on the peanut butter/soy/hot sauce mixture.

Rachael Ray’s Thai Chicken Pizza was a hit, and not only will I be adding it to my regular rotation of recipes for party people, it may make an appearance as a quick, weeknight dinner here and there. Considering how quickly it went, I’m sure I could make it for breakfast with no complaints.

Except this time around, I’d probably make two.

Simmer Down: Play Nice, Ladies

I love food – I love everything about it. First and foremost, eating is high on my list of pastimes, but as I appreciate every flavor that hits my taste buds, I can’t help but want to delve deeper into what defines a dish. It is for this reason that I enjoy every minute in the kitchen, from the preparation that comes with a recipe, to the actual cooking techniques, to taste testing. However, I’m certainly nowhere near a formally trained chef.
When I read about or meet a classically trained chef, I immediately feel a sense of respect and admiration. Cooking is my hobby; something I appreciate and an activity that I feel brings out the best in me. However, it is an escape from my 9 -5. Chefs live, eat (no pun intended), and breathe cooking and have endured years of research, studying, and hands-on training in the classroom and kitchen. I have nothing but respect for formally trained chefs.
Through reading books, collecting recipes, watching documentaries or shows about or by amazing chefs, I have learned a thing or two in the kitchen. However, that is not to say I do not look up to those in the culinary field that may not have had the official training. This is evident from my first “I’m Not Worthy” post dedicated to Ina Garten. Women like Martha Stewart and Rachael Ray have become business moguls when it comes to cooking and entertaining with no educational background at a culinary institute. Women like them – smart, sassy, clever and creative – make me feel like my experience in the kitchen has some relevance.
In an interview on Nightline last week, Marth Stewart belittled Rachael Ray’s skills as a cook and deemed her more of a personality and less of a talent in the kitchen. Martha also shot down Rachael’s latest cookbook and was quick to mention it includes many recipes seen in earlier Rachael Ray cookbooks. Rachael’s response to the media has been gracious, and she even agrees that Martha is far superior a home cook.
Believe me, I get that Rachael Ray’s quirky catch phrases and effervescence can be, well, annoying at times. I get that many of her recipes are almost too simple, and at this point, with her magazine and her show, most come from a staff of writers and not Ms. Ray herself. However, I appreciate her excitement when she’s creating a dish, and I respect the fact that she highlights the importance of cooking and eating with your family. 30 Minute Meals does come in handy for a twenty-something girl cooking for two, but it’s mostly meant for the typical, working, busy family. Working a full time
job, rushing your children to a sports game or band practice, and still finding time to prepare a healthy, home cooked meal sounds almost impossible. Rachael Ray’s recipes make it easier to avoid stopping at a fast food restaurant for a quick meal. They offer a healthy alternative to eating on the run and give people the opportunity to spend less time in the kitchen and more time at the table, catching up with their family.
The most disheartening factor of the Ray-hate from Martha is the fact that a succesful, intelligent, respectable woman, clearly revered in her field, belittled the success and skills of another. It is no secret that Martha Stewart has her hand in several different business ventures, from her Martha Stewart Living merchandise and her magazines, to television programs, cookbooks, and a Sirius radio program. The woman even has a line of wine set to debut in January. She extends her expertise to crafts and “domestic arts,” pretty much bought Emeril Lagasse last year, and truly is in a league of her own. To compare Rachael Ray and Martha Stewart is apples to oranges, and Martha’s remarks about Ray in the kitchen reveal a hint of insecurity, in my opinion.
Several days ago, Martha issued an apology on her television show, which I think was expected considering Rachael Ray had nothing but compliments for her after she was dissed. There may be some truth in that Martha’s skills are more advanced than Rachael’s, and there is no denying that both are well-liked, intelligent women, and just plain good at what they do. Rachael Ray’s response is further evidence of her positive attitude and her awareness of her role in the culinary field, highlighting the respect she has for Stewart. Though she has shed light on the subject, and said she was sorry, Martha’s not-so-nice statements teach the lesson that negative comments about someone else’s success or skills will not make you any better at what you do.
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