Turkey Gone Italian

Happy Easter! I was super excited for Easter this year, solely because I knew I’d be making one of Rachael Ray’s wonderful recipes. Well, more than one since this week it was a full meal, complete with dessert! Turkey Cutlets with Rosemary and Cornmeal-Dusted Ravioli, Broccoli Rabe with Golden Raisins, and Warm Cherry, Orange, and Cranberry Compote with Vanilla Ice Cream. I knew my friends and I were going to be having a great Easter feast.

I just got back from spring break in California at 8 AM Saturday morning, so before I went to the grocery store I needed to catch up on some sleep. I headed to Trader Joe’s thinking that the place would be a madhouse, but was pleasantly surprised because I had never seen the place so calm! Don’t get me wrong, there was still a ton of people, but not as many as there usually are. I was able to find just about every ingredient which made this shopping trip even better. I headed to Fairway for the last three ingredients and ended my food shopping day on a happy note.

Fast forward to today, Sunday. All of my friends arrived back at school safely, and we knew we had to have family dinner to catch up on all of our shenanigans from over spring break. Like usual, my sous-chef, Nicolette, came over and we got to cooking for everyone.

We started out with the raviolis. My stove takes forever to boil water so that already set us back like 20 minutes. When the raviolis were finally done cooking, we dusted them with a cornmeal mix and fried them up. They smelled and looked absolutely delicious.

Next, I put the broccoli on to cook. I thought raisins were odd to pair with broccoli, but I didn’t doubt Rachael Ray. This was by far the easiest thing to cook out of everything today.

Onto the turkey. This wasn’t too complicated to make but the cutlets were so thick that they took forever to cook completely through. The turkey was topped off with lemon-wine sauce, also. I wonder why all of the sauces in this recipe book are so watery, I wish they were thicker. Oh well.

Once everything was finished, River came over to help us carry everything downstairs to Purple Ashley’s room. Nicolette, Ashley, Morgan, Purple Ashley, River, and I all dug in. Well….both Ashley’s couldn’t really dig in that much since they’re vegetarians…oops. I also forgot to tell them that the broccoli was cooked in chicken broth. Go me.

Everything was alright, but nothing extraordinary. The turkey was kind of dry, but I really liked the broccoli and raviolis. It was actually the first time I’ve ever had ravioli. Why had I never had ravioli before? I don’t know, but man, was I missing out. We all ate and filled each other in on all of the gossip from spring break. That was definitely the best way to end our break.

After we ate, I grabbed everything for the dessert. The compote was so easy thing to make, and smelled heavenly. I scooped everyone out some vanilla ice cream, drizzled the compote on, and garnished each bowl with some ginger snap cookies. The ginger snaps must have been on steroids because they were super spicy. Our faces when we bit into them were priceless!

Now comes the tough part: rating the food. I’d give the Turkey Cutlets with Rosemary ♥♥ (2) hearts because there was nothing special about it. It was alright, but definitely not my favorite. The Cornmeal-Dusted Raviolis receives ♥♥♥♥ (4) hearts because not only were they delicious, but they sparked a new found love of raviolis for me. The Broccoli Rabe with Golden Raisins gets ♥♥♥ (3) hearts. The raisins added a nice, sweet touch to the broccoli, and altogether this was a nice side dish. Finally the Warm Cherry, Orange, and Cranberry Compote with Vanilla Ice Cream gets ♥♥♥ (3) hearts. Not to shabby for my first dessert, but I think there will be better ones. I’m so glad that this meal was on Easter. It was the icing on top of a wonderful day and spring break. I can’t wait for so many more recipes and holidays with friends to come!

Until next week!

-Mary Honkus

 

Spinach Artichoke Calzones

Calzones….I honestly didn’t even know what calzones were before I made this recipe. I knew they were Italian and sort of like pizza, but that’s it. One thing that I did know was that Rachael Ray must love the combination of spinach and artichoke because the past couple recipes have been centered around those two ingredients. I had been getting sick of artichoke, but was still hopeful that this recipe of Spinach Artichoke Calzones would be delicious.

I was out of town all weekend so this adventure started on Tuesday at Trader Joe’s. I was pretty happy to begin with because my grocery list was the shortest it has ever been! I was also actually so impressed with Trader Joe’s this time because they had every single ingredient…except for tubed pizza dough, but I kinda figured they wouldn’t have that.

After I made it through the notorious mile-long line at Trader Joe’s, I headed to Fairway. Fairway didn’t have tubed pizza dough either, so I made my way to Whole Foods. I was disappointed yet again because Whole Foods didn’t have tubed pizza dough either. I was absolutely exhausted at this point and wanted Chipotle, so I decided to finish food shopping on Wednesday at Gristedes.

Fast forward to Wednesday (today), and I head into Gristedes around 1. Even they didn’t have tubed pizza dough, so I just got pizza dough that wasn’t tubed, even though it pained me. I’m really weird with following directions; The book said tubed so I just really wanted the dough to be tubed.

I came home and let the spinach and dough thaw while I was at class, and then at 6:30 Nicolette came over and we got to cooking.

Making the filling was oh so easy. The hard part was taking care of the dough. First off, the dough was still frozen, so we had to put it in the microwave for a bit, which made it a bit sticky. We needed a rolling pin, but had no idea what to use since I didn’t have one. River stopped over and he suggested using a wine bottle. I still had some wine from a few recipes ago left over so I grabbed that bottle and got rolling.

The bottle didn’t do much for me, so Nicolette took over. Her Italian blood came out and turned her into a calzone super woman because she was a pro at this. She stuffed each one to perfection and even made them look pretty. Go Nicolette, you da bomb.

We threw our little creations…wait I take that back, they were HUGE creations…into the oven and let them bake. We had to flip them around every once and a while, and two of the calzones were almost history when we did that (I almost dropped them…there was a lot of screaming going on every time we flipped them). It said to bake them for about 15 minutes, but it was more like a half hour.

We took them out of the oven and Nicolette burned her finger on one of the pans…which was kinda funny (sorry Nicolette). We sat around a bit to wait for them to cool, then we attempted to transfer one to a plate, which was near impossible. I’m telling you, these things were so massive and hot that it took us about 10 tries to successfully move one of these monsters to a plate.

Finally we got one on a plate, and decided to split it. Cutting the calzone down the middle was beautiful. All of the cheese just oozed out…I thought I witnessed heaven. We heated up some pizza sauce for dipping, then it was time for the moment of truth.

3…2…1…Oh…my…God…. there are no words for how delectable and heavenly this calzone was. I would’ve devoured it in a matter of 10 seconds if it still wasn’t scolding hot. The dough was fluffy, and still just a tad bit doughy. The filling was perfection, and the pizza sauce was a delightful touch. This was just the thing we needed to get us through the rest of midterms week.

Without a doubt, this recipe deserves ♥♥♥♥♥ (5) hearts. We both agreed that this is up in the ranks with the pasta with pumpkin & sausage. Everything about this was perfection. My room mate, Alexis, tried one also, and she was speechless. She ate with a big smile plastered across her face. I have so much filling left over as well, so I’m going to be making this again very soon…you know it’s a good recipe when I plan to make it again, since I never make a recipe twice.  Perfetto, Rachael Ray, Perfetto!

Until next week!

-Mary Honkus

 

 

South of the Border

Who doesn’t love Mexican food? Well, I didn’t until I first ate at Rey Azteca, a restaurant in my hometown. Since then, I’ve been hooked. Lucky for me, Rachael Ray also has a love for Mexican food, because I feel like half of the recipes in this book have that flair to them. On tonight’s menu was a Mexican Chunk Vegetable Salad, and Grilled Honey-Lime Chicken Sandwiches with Flavored Tortilla Chips. Time to see if Rachael’s Mexican stood a chance against my hometown favorite.

After another extremely busy weekend, I was highly debating whether or not to cook because I was completely exhausted. I am leaving the city on Thursday for Pennsylvania, and I knew that if I cooked on Wednesday I would have so many leftovers. No way the leftovers would survive a seven, yes, seven hour train ride, so I pushed through my exhaustion and headed down to Trader Joe’s around 5 PM today.

Of course, the store was in the midst of it’s Sunday chaos. The line for the cash registers was wrapped around the store almost twice. Luckily, they had almost all of my ingredients. This wasn’t the most satisfying shopping trip, though because all of the elderly people were so rude. Pushing me, and many other customers out of the way to get what they wanted. I felt like I was in the middle of a football game, these older people were THAT aggressive.

Once I finally got through the line, I decided I was going to go to Whole Foods instead of Fairway. I know I made the right choice. Not only was everything cheap, but I also was provided with some entertainment when two gay men were arguing over whether baby carrots are healthy or not.

“Scott, put those back, baby carrots are not good for you.”

“What are you talking about, yes they are. And besides these aren’t baby carrots they’re just extra small and peeled.”

“You idiot they are baby carrots and you will die…”

Nicolette came over around 7 and we got to cooking. This girl is my right hand and we’re enjoying our chef life together. Whoever wifes us up in the future will be some pretty lucky guys.

Anyway, she chopped up almost everything for the salad, and I made the marinade for the chicken. The marinade consisted of: lime juice, honey, cumin, evoo, and cilantro. Every item in the marinade had an opposite taste from the other. Odd, but I didn’t doubt Rachael Ray for a second.

We made the salad look oh so pretty, and the chicken cooked very quickly. It burned a bit, but it just added to the Mexican flair.

Once everything was ready, I invited River over. He just gobbled down a piece of chicken before I could even have my countdown. One bite and he was already raving, so Nicolette and I were extra excited for the first bite.

We piled the chicken on our buns and topped it off with some onion, avocado, lettuce and salsa. Now for the moment of truth.

3…2…1… YUM-O! the chicken sandwiches were perfection. Absolutely everything about them was delicious. I never would’ve thought to put salsa on top of a sandwich, so that was an especially good call by Rachael Ray. The salad was also good but extremely spicy. My nose was running throughout the whole meal. Boy, does Rachael like her spicy food.

Rating the food is always the toughest part, but it must be done. Nicolette and I both gave the Mexican Chunk Vegetable Salad ♥♥♥ (3) hearts because although it was good, it was so spicy it was almost unenjoyable. That’s what happens when jalapeños and hot sauce are mixed together. As for the Grilled Honey-Lime Chicken Sandwiches, we gave those ♥♥♥♥ (4) hearts. This was also very good, but it didn’t give us that over-the-top wow factor. Only foods that give us that factor will get 5 hearts. I’m very excited to have leftovers all week though, I know I won’t get tired of this meal! Rachael Ray definitely beat out Rey Azteca with this home cooked Mexican feast. ¡OLAY!

Until next week!

-Mary Honkus

Stuffed Potatoes with Ham, Thyme, and Gruyere

Potatoes: probably the most versatile food out there. They can be baked, mashed, smashed, chips, fries, and probably many other things that I can’t think of at the moment. The potatoes in tonight’s recipe were none of those, though. These potatoes were stuffed. Stuffed Potatoes with Ham, Thyme, and Gruyere to be exact. I was pretty eager for this recipe because I love basically every ingredient. I had never heard of Gruyere cheese before, but being a cheese lover I wasn’t worried.

Like last week, I had a crazy weekend and just couldn’t bring myself to cook on Sunday. So on Tuesday I set out to Trader Joe’s. This trip made me realize that Trader Joe’s was missing something very important: an over-the-counter deli. It really disappointed me. Trader Joe’s the only grocery store I’ve ever been to that doesn’t have an over-the-counter deli. I was able to pick up almost everything I needed there, but I still had to run to Fairway. The last two ingredients I needed were ham and gruyere; both key components in this recipe.

I zoomed to Fairway because I was in a time crunch; my class was starting in 25 minutes. 25 minutes seems like a decent amount of time to get to class from the store, but add 20 pounds of groceries to the mix and it’s more complicated than you would think. I was very disappointed in Fairway because they didn’t have either of the ingredients I needed! I would’ve gone to Whole Foods but I just didn’t have the time. I hurried home and thankfully I made it to class on time, but just barely.

Fast Forward to Wednesday (today). Wednesday’s are my busiest days but I found the time to go to the Whole Foods. This was probably very irresponsible of me, but before I left I put a sweet potato in the oven, set my timer for 45 minutes and just left. I know…extreme fire hazard, but guess what: nothing burned down! Let’s just not tell my room mates…or my mom. I hurried to Whole Foods and picked up the ham, but even they didn’t have Gruyere! I recalled Trader Joe’s having a Swiss and Gruyere blend and since it was my last resort, I went all the way back down there, just for the right cheese (it’s only 5 blocks, but the long block takes FOREVER to walk). Thankfully, I made it home before the timer for my sweet potato went off. I didn’t burn the dorm down, go me!

A few hours before it was cooking time, Nicolette looked up the recipe on Rachael Ray’s website to find a picture. What she found was the most pitiful food picture I have ever seen. My goal of the night was to at least get a more appetizing picture than that.

Nicolette came over a little after 7, and Courtney skipped her class so we could all cook together. I figured this would be the easiest recipe ever because the potatoes really only had to be nuked in the microwave for 12 minutes then we’d scoop out the insides, combine it with everything, and then broil it. Doesn’t sound too complicated, right?

WRONG. The potatoes would not cook. It took forever for them to even sort of cook. We probably put the potatoes in there for a total of 25 minutes and they were still hard. To pass the time, we sniffed the cheese (yes we are weirdos) and it did not smell appetizing. We were starting to become a bit skeptical about this recipe. Eventually, we became so impatient that we just attempted to spoon the insides out and ended up mutilating the skins, which we were supposed to put the filling back into. Talk about a disaster.

I thought we should just put the filling on a baking sheet and broil it, but Nicolette was determined to get the filling back in the damn skins, and that’s exactly what she did. They were pretty ugly looking, but I sprinkled some extra cheese, placed them under the broiler, and hoped for the best.

Our hopes lifted when the potatoes radiated such a good smell. After 5 minutes in the oven, they were ready to eat… well for the most part they were ready to eat, some sections were still a bit hard but we were so fed up with waiting.

It came time for the moment of truth. 3…2…1. Not too bad. All of the ingredients blended well together to make a delicious potato. The ham was especially good. I was most proud that I reached my goal: getting a better photo than what was pictured on the Rachael Ray website

We all gave this recipe ♥♥♥ (3) hearts. It would’ve received more if the potatoes wouldn’t have been such a pain in the ass to cook. I’m pretty excited to eat the leftovers the rest of this week, though. It’s like my last cheat meal before the pageant next week. For future reference, and if anyone attempts this recipe: bake the potatoes in the oven for 45 minutes to an hour. Yeah, it won’t be a 30 minute meal anymore, but it’ll be a lot less stressful.

Until next week!

-Mary Honkus