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Monday, February 27, 2006


A quick vent about Rachel Ray and her cookbooks. It's not the time the recipes take or the ingredients... it's how many pans/skillets and burners the meals need. There have been meals that would go quicker if I didn't have to wait for the skillet to finish the previous step. That's all about that.

Last night I made the chicken divan "double duty" menu. For some reason it took me almost an hour. My chicken breasts certainly took longer than 8 minutes to poach (more like 15). And in the end it was pretty bland. I like my grandmother's chicken divan recipe better, and I think I could do it in 30 minutes (especially if I got a rotissirie chicken). OK I'm sure that I spelled rotissirie wrong, but I can't be bothered to look it up.

I've skipped around a bit for this week because Roland is on a business trip so it's just me and Kyle. Tonight we had the smoky orange bbq chicken sandwiches. The smoky orange sauce was pretty spicy and quite different from the KC masterpiece we're used to. It only took me 30 minutes but I didn't make the other 2 menu items. I mean really... red cabbage and beet slaw salad with currant dressing... what is she thinking. I actually bought the ingredients, but it just sounds too yucky for words. The baked beans with bacon really do sound good, but Kyle doesn't like beans and I don't want that much left over.

Oh, one more vent... Rachel's portion sizes. I've been cutting most of the recipes in half (she usually claims 4 servings) and they are still enough for 3 with some left over.

Kyle has recovered, and so far, no sign of flu for me or Roland ... knock on wood.

Friday, February 24, 2006


Kyle has the flu. That was the result of the rapid flu test done at the pediatrician's office this afternoon. In 2-5 days Roland and I could conceivably come down with it. Nobody, of course, took the time to get a flu shot. Yay.

I did cook tonight, and on the schedule was the vegetable "lasagna" which was good because Kyle is really not eating. It is basically cheese ravioli layered with veggies (spinach, artichoke hearts and asparagus) and a white sauce. Topped with cheese. It was yummy. Salad and lime sherbert and bread. Pretty good comfort food. Kyle picked out the ravioli which was the only solid food he has eaten since Mama Fu pot stickers at lunch yesterday. Smoothies from Smoothie King have been his sustenance. The doc did put him on tamiflu so hopefully he'll be well enough to go to school on Monday. He will have lots to make up.

Oh, dinner took about 40 minutes to make.

Thursday, February 23, 2006

You can't always get what you want

That song has been going through my mind all day. You get what you need. I'm sure that's a sign for Kyle, though he seems to have moved on from the baseball idea to track. He was home sick today, and likely tomorrow as well since his fever (almost 102) won't seem to break. I think a trip to the doctor will be in order tomorrow.

No cooking tonight. Roland has a business dinner, and with Kyle sick, I just ordered a pizza. Also it was WI... another 0.8 lost. Yippee. The pizza was a bit of a "celebration". I did cook the previous two nights though.

Tuesday was Make your own take-out... pork burgers and red bean salad. Just over 30 minutes and the burgers were really good. You mix the ground pork with sausage. I couldn't find the kind Rachel recommended, but used hot Italian sausage (in honor of the Olympics?). Still great. The red bean salad, I thought, was also good, but Roland and Kyle were not overly impressed.

Last night it was marinated meat... I used chicken, though the recipe claims you can use the marinade on beef, pork or portabella mushrooms. Then just pan-fried. Good. Also cheesy orzo, the best part of the whole meal... a great gooey comfort kind of side dish. The balsamic glazed brocoli just turned out too weirdly brown and vinegary. I think plain steamed would be just as good (or better). I marinated the chicken earlier in the day (she says 10 minutes is enough), and the rest of the meal took just over 30 minutes. Oh, and you make gravy to go with it. Rachel's gravy recipe was a huge success. I would never say I could make gravy before. I would definitely make this menu again.

Gotta watch the Olympics now...

Tuesday, February 21, 2006

Hits and Misses

The last two Rachel Ray menus I made were hits and misses. Sunday's dinner was a Passport menu and we found ourselves transported to the southwest. Well, not really. The stuffed peppers were a miss, but we loved the rice--Mexican style-- that was stuffed in the peppers. The wild mushroom quesadillas were great, although I forgot to buy the shiitake mushrooms. Didn't miss them. The black bean salsa would have been great except for the barbecue sauce which just made it weird. I think regular salsa or taco sauce would have made it a hit instead of a miss. The strawberry margaritas were a hit. And the whole thing took 50 minutes.

Last night Laura stopped by on her way home from taking Anthony to the ATL airport. She helped chop for our Healthy Hunger Buster (HHB) dinner of swordfish steaks, mango salsa and the curry couscous. Loved the swordfish. Had to improvise with the mango salsa when I discovered the mango I bought was rotten. Luckily I had some diced peaches that worked just great. For the curry couscous, I don't really like curry that much so I used just half of what was in the recipe. Also, I just diced the carrots and cooked them when the water was boiling. Oh, and I didn't have the sliced almonds which I thought I did. It was pretty good, but not great. The salsa and couscous took about 30 minutes with a chopping helper. The swordfish took 10 minutes per person because I only have a small George Foreman, but Laura ate before everyone else got home. The fish was great cooked that way, and worth the wait.

Kind of a disappointing afternoon today. Kyle didn't make the baseball team, so he'll have to regroup and rethink what he wants to do this spring.

Sunday, February 19, 2006

Serging, Bowling and Other Thoughts

I love my new serger. OK, it took me at least 30 minutes to thread the first time, but hey, it's complicated. I don't know why I didn't buy one sooner, but now that I've got one I'm thrilled.

I went bowling last night with the wives' group I belong to (our husbands all work at the same place). I had my highest score ever... 162... with 4 strikes in one game! That has never happened to me. It was downhill from there, with a 107 on the next game, and a more expected score of 86 on the last. Oh, well, it was fun anyway, and my arm is actually not that sore.

I haven't done much cooking the last couple of nights, but Thursday night's "double duty" salmon patties were a modest hit. After complaining that he didn't really like salmon at all, Roland actually ate 3 of the patties, claiming hunger. Changes I made to Rachel's recipe... only a couple of drops of Tabasco (instead of a whole teaspoon), and they were plenty spicy, and I just pan fried them in about a tablespoon of oil (once around the pan as she says) instead of frying them in an inch of oil. AND I made them, and the salad that accompanied in 40 minutes. I'll start up again with my 30 minutes meal journey either tonight or tomorrow.

Friday night Roland and I went out. I spent all afternoon in the car driving to Athens and back. I picked up Laura's boyfriend at the ATL airport, and promptly got caught in one of those shut down the interstate kind of backups. It took us 3-1/2 hours to get to Athens, though once clear of the backup we did take a short detour to pick up Laura's clarinet in Norcross. Anthony was actually pretty chatty. Maybe he was just scared being trapped with his girlfriend's mother for that long. The drive home only took a more customary 1-1/2 hours, but I was in no mood to cook.

Well, I'm off to do more sewing and serging...

Thursday, February 16, 2006


Thursdays are my weigh-in (WI) days at Weight Watchers. So good news today... I lost 2.2 pounds (a whole kilogram!). And good news about last nights dinner ... made in 30 minutes!!! And easy clean-up. It was the first "double duty" dinner, poached salmon and minted red potatoes. The salmon recipe was a great basic that I'm sure I will repeat. Tonight I'm doing the second half, salmon patties I think. Hopefully Roland, who doesn't do leftovers, will not freak out too much about eating salmon 2 nights in a row.

I had a request from Laura to name the dessert from V-D. I don't have the book right here, but it was chocolate cups that was kind of like chocolate pudding with liqeuer. Rachel had hazelnut liquer in the recipe, but I used raspberry instead which was what I had. I am making some substitutions to "lighten" up the recipes because she uses lots of olive oil and butter. I use some but not as much as she suggests. Last night's fit very well though with the WW program.

Big excitement for me today... I bought a serger (like a sewing machine, but not for those who don't know what it is). And since Kyle left today for his band trip (returning Monday night), I have virtually no responsibilities this weekend, you'll find me in the basement making things.

I'm off to play with my new toy.

Wednesday, February 15, 2006

Still an Hour

I skipped over a couple sections and, in honor of Valentine's Day, went to the Big Nights section. AND I made dessert. Still took me an hour, but that was including the dessert (which had to chill so I made it first as advised). The dessert was good, probably great if you are a huge chocolate lover, and probably should have been made even earlier in the day. It was the consistency of thick chocolate syrup in the bottom of the cup.

The vodka cream pasta and the "heart-y" salad were good, but my husband said he wouldn't have proposed over it (as RR claims). I would make both again, but I'm not very good at drizzling the oil and vinegar over the salad. Anyone know which one you are supposed to do first?

I've started volunteering at the Atlanta Dress for Success organization. Check it out at Anyway, I'll post more about it later.

Tuesday, February 14, 2006


That is how my husband and Kyle described last night's dinner. I give it 3 stars(out of 5). I made the first menu in the Family-Style Suppers (FSS). Who knew that you could bake artichoke hearts?! I thought they were great, son Kyle thought they were tangy and gross. The chicken piccata pasta toss was good, but not great (and brown). Those 2 things took me just over an hour. I didn't make the dessert.

As a disclaimer, I've never seen her show. Maybe she gives tips on how to speed up the process. She does recommend reading everything through before you start. I'll try that tonight to see if it helps.

Happy Valentine's Day!

Monday, February 13, 2006

My Challenges

I have decided to give myself a somewhat unoriginal challenge, by making all the meals in Rachel Ray's 30-Minute Meals 2 cookbook. I received this for Christmas and have made a few things, and to spice things up, I'm going to start at page 1 and work my way through, recording my journey for anyone who happens to stumble on this. (I'm brand new to blogging, so bear with me here.)

A couple of tests for ol' Rachel... can these meals REALLY be made in 30 minutes, and are all the ingredients REALLY easily found. Oh, and I'm not going to do one meal after another in order, but meal 1 of each section, then meal 2, etc. I've already done this for 2 of the meals and I'll make that report in a future post, but the bottom line, was each one of those actually took a little over an hour.

My other personal challenge is my commitment to Weight Watchers, and my goal to lose about 20 pounds (also unoriginal, but necessary). This will eliminate making the desserts in Rachel's menus, but I'll mention that in my reports.

I'm off to cook...