Saturday, January 8, 2011

My Top Rachael Ray Cookbooks

During the holiday season, I shared a few recipes with Natalie over at Meet the Magic (if you haven't checked out her site, you should.  Great Disney tips and stories!  Plus, every Tuesday she gives a new strategy to save for Disney and ways to save in Disney!).  She asked where I got the recipes and I explained my collection of Rachael Ray cookbooks and how I taught myself to cook (see my previous post A New Recipe ~ Blueberry Almond Buckle).  When she asked what my favorite Rachael Ray cookbook was I was inspired to post my favorites.  Initially, I planned to post my top three, but I couldn't leave some off the list, so I ended up with my top six. 

A few things to know about Rachael Ray recipes.  First, they sometimes make a lot more food than it says.  A lot of recipes say they feed four, but we could feed four a couple times on some of the meals.  Second, she loves food spicy.  Our family loves spicy food, but not like Rachael Ray.  I have learned the hard way to reduce the ingredient which causes the heat to about 1/4 or 1/2 of what she suggests.  So, beware!  Next, she loves pasta.  Many dishes include a significant amount of pasta.  I am not such a big pasta person, so I do sometimes reduce the amount the recipe calls for.  Finally, these really are 30-minute meals, though it does take me a couple times of making a recipe to complete it within that time.

With that said, here are my top 6:

#6 The Orange Book
The Orange Book is the newest of my Rachael Ray collection.  I have tried just a few recipes from it, but have not been disappointed yet.  This one could easily climb up my list after a few more recipe attempts.  My absolute favorite from this book is the My-Oh-Mahi! That's a Good Fish Taco.  Now I had never eaten fish tacos and really never had a desire to, but fish tacos seemed to be popping up everywhere - cookbooks, cooking shows, etc., so I gave it a try. I am so glad I did because they are delicious!

#5 2, 4, 6, 8 Great Meals for Couples or Crowds
The uniqueness of this cookbook is that there are recipes for groups of all sizes, hence the name 2, 4, 6, 8.  The first section includes recipes for 2, which can easily be double to feed a larger crowd. What I particularly like about this collection is that it includes a menu, not just individual recipes. Also there are Greek, Mediterranean and many other international flavors, as well as more Make Your Own Take Out recipes included in this book.  One of my favorites is called Double Eggplant Parm Fake-Baked Ziti.  This is another great recipe that gets my kids to eat vegetables!  By the way, I couldn't find a link to this recipe on Food Network, but if it happens to appear, I will add it.  Because of copyright laws, I don't want to post a recipe that is not mine.

#4 Just in Time
Here is another great cookbook!  This doesn't just include 30-minute meals, but also 15-minute and 60-minute.  I have actually made a significant number of recipes from the Hot Pots chapter with my most favorite being the Chicken Fajita Tortilla Soup.  One of the kids' favorite recipes from this book is Ginger-Garlic Chicken Stir-Fry with Soy Sesame Noodles.  This is one of the recipes that calls for a pound of pasta.  I serve the stir fry separate from the pasta.  We actually even make this pasta as a side dish to a lot of our dinners because the kids absolutely love it.

#3 Cooking 'Round the Clock
I love that this cookbook includes breakfast, lunch, early bird specials, sit-down suppers, and TV dinners and snacks.  I have mostly made the breakfast items, which my kids love.  Our favorite is the Gingerbread Waffles.  They make a significant amount, but they are just as delicious as dessert.  We love them so much we have even made these our Christmas morning breakfast tradition.  We have also made the Oatmeal Cookie Pancakes too.  They are delicious, but as I am sure you can tell from the title, they are very sweet!  I love the versatility of the recipes in this book!

#2 30-Minute Meals Get Togethers
I love this book!  There are themed meals throughout for many occasions, such as game night, football Sunday and even a romantic rooftop dinner. The recipe I make the most from this cookbook is the Super Nachos (you can also see my post about Monday Night Football Food to see what mine look like).  Again, this cookbook is set up by menus, not individual recipes.  It makes it very easy to host a stress free get together for any occasion.

#1 30-Minute Meals 2: This is by far my all time favorite cookbook by any cook or chef.  I have made more recipes from this book than any other and I have made each of them several times.  There is a wide range of recipes from burgers and onion rings to romantic dinners for two with filet mignon and baked scallops! The first section is probably my favorite.  Chapter one is called Make You Own Take Out.  Rachael Ray has lots of recipes to not only give you control over the ingredients vs. ordering out, but also saves you money, which in this economy we would all probably agree that is important.  This section includes burgers, Chinese and Mexican dishes, as well as pizzas and calzones.  One of my favorite recipes from this particular cookbook is Special Fried Rice.  My kids love this and it is a great way to get vegetables into their diet!  Another great thing about this book is that there are menus, not just individual recipes.  The separate recipes use similar ingredients, so you can cut once for two recipes.

Well, there are my favorites, but I do also have four others.  Even though those did not make the list, I still use them a lot . . . . maybe that will be a post for another day!  I have been using her kids cookbook Cooking Rocks with my girls.  After we try a few more recipes from that I'll let you know what I think about it!

Do you have a favorite Rachael Ray cookbook or recipe?  I would love to hear about it!

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