Rachel Ray’s 3o Minute Get Real Meals

I distinctly remember restocking knives at Williams-Sonoma when I noticed a greater number of santoku knives in the box. I generally recommended to knife-interested customers the holy trio of knives – 8 inch chef, a paring knife, and a serrated bread/tomato knife. And then the customers started coming in – do you have that knife that Rachel Ray keeps talking about? Of course, the santoku knife has a long tradition in Japanese history (and it’s a pretty great knife) but there is an argument that Rachel Ray popularized the knife for home cooks during her Food Network period. (That was before she developed her own talk show, magazine, and product lines.) Her catch phrases – particularly EVOO – was even admitted to the Oxford American College Dictionary in 2007. Since I worked at Williams-Sonoma from Christmas 2001 to Christmas 2006, I have several of her books from that era of my life. And I probably haven’t opened them since.

30 minute meals – and lower carb ones. That seems to be where I’m at right now, so this book is the winner of the week. I can’t remember exactly when I picked this cookbook up, but according to the sticker on the back, apparently I bought it at Best Buy. Best Buy? What can I say – the cookbook case is my siren. Let’s see if this book still deserves a spot on the shelf.

The Recipes
Caesar Salad to Go
Ham and Cheese Mini Frittatas
Chinese Chicken Lettuce Wraps
Sliced Pork Saltimbocca with Spinach and Arugula Salad
Mini Cheeseburger Salad/Turkey Club Salad with Avocado Dressing combo (I originally planned for the club salad, but decided to surprise the kids with the mini cheeseburgers instead. I was a good call – I just blended the two salads together and used the avocado dressing.)
Sunday Morning Salmon Hold-the-Bagel Scrambles
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The South Beach Cookbook

I’ve had this cookbook for at least 10 years and I’m not sure I’ve cooked more than 3 recipes out of it. Even though our family is eating a bit more carefully to start the year, I’m going to hold the cookbook up to my same standards. It needs to taste good and be reasonable for me as a working mom and home cook. Emphasis: needs to taste good. First flip through, there seem to be some recipes that have some promise. We’ll see how it goes.

The Recipes
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The High Energy Cookbook

I picked up this one when I was working at Williams-Sonoma as a side job. Actually, I was sortof paying them to work. Slave to the discount. But I smile about my 5 years there everytime I take out one of my All Clad pans. Buying all my cookware on the WS discount in my late 20s was probably one of my better decisions during that decade.

But back to the cookbook. Overall, I liked the concept. When I bought it, I was trying to lose some weight but didn’t want to go “full on diet” so I thought this would be a good fit. Healthy recipes, beautiful photos, a really clean layout, and fairly simple. This was exactly where I was at in 2004.

I’ve made a few things out of the cookbook, so I’ve brought two of my favorites back but am making a few new ones as well. And I’ve learned a few things right out of the gate.

The Recipes
Beef and Tomato Gratin
Bacon and Mushroom Carbonara
Stilton Steaks with Sweet Potato and Garlic Mash
Grilled Salmon, Spinach, and Tomato Stack
Roasted Vegetables
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