Wednesday, June 7, 2006

She Knows What She's Talking About

I go back and forth a lot on whether or not I really like Rachael Ray. I can't say that I particularily enjoy watching her- she seems so frantic sometimes. And her little sayings are kinda fourth grade. But I have purchased several of her books, including the latest one Express Lane Meals. Many of Rachael's recipes are not to my taste, but there seem to be enough in each of her cookbooks to make them worth having. I have to admit though, I've been on the fence about this latest one.

Express Lane Meals is a fantastic concept. Really, it is. The concept starts with a well-stocked pantry. Rachael gives you a detailed list of things you should always have on hand. Then each recipe has it's own page telling you what few additional items you might need for the recipe. If you are mindful enough to keep that pantry stocked at all times- this is a great book for you. It could really help you get dinner on the table in a snap. But how are the recipes? Well, at first glance, they are pretty standard Rachael Ray fair. Quite a few pastas, quite a few soups, and quite a few sandwiches. Again, easy weeknight meals- what's not to love about that. There are plenty of other options as well. She has recipes that run the gamut depending on the amount of time you have to prepare your dinner.

Tonight I tried one such recipe. The recipe for Spinach-Artichoke Cheesy Tortellini claims it tastes a lot like Spinach Artichoke Dip. That's exactly my cup of tea! I did alter the recipe a touch by lightening it first of all- I used half & half instead of the heavy cream called for. And I also failed to pick up tortellini, so I used rotini. Overall, I thought it was very good. Not quite as good as a spinach artichoke dip, but I happily gobbled up the pasta. I admit though, that serving this sauce on cheese filled tortellini would be overkill. I would think that would be much too rich. Additionally, when I make this one again I think I want to add some Italian Sausage to the pasta and reduce the cream/half & half further. I think if I increased the flour by a tablespoon, I could easily swap out milk for the cream. Overall it was quite good, and made plenty.

In fact, I am looking forward to the leftovers for tomorrow. And do I have the leftovers seeing how we were STOOD UP for dinner. And you know who you are. (Where are those angry eyes...) Anyway, if you'd like to see a great picture of this dish, as well as the recipe, check out the blog Reflections. Seeing how I forgot to take a picture. You know, too busy enjoying dinner on the patio and watching the kids play. :-) Overall, I think I like this book. I would like to think that someday I would be able to create my own cookbook like this with all my tried and trues, and develop my own personalized pantry list. It's a great concept, and soemthing I think I could aspire to. Time will tell, I guess.

And I have to share on the child front today... today was the first day of no school, and of course, my precious children were awake at 6:30- eager to start their day. Abigail received her first phone call of the summer from one of her classmates- and it was a boy no less!! She sat on the steps and giggled the whole time. "Oh Flynn, you're so funny!" She isn't even 6 yet! And it begins now. :-D I love that little girl.


Melissa said...

I have to agree, this isn't my favorite of her cookbooks. I like Rachael Ray 365 the best...I have made more recipes from that one than any of the cookbooks I have.

When I made the spinach pasta I used fat free half and half. It *really* helped to cut down the rich flavor and made it more enjoyable I think.

Anonymous said...

I was just wondering...did you serve this as your main dish? what sides did you serve with it? If it was served as a you have any recommendations for what you'd serve as the main dish? Thanks & I love your blog! wendy

Erika said...

Wendy, I served this as a side with some grilled chisken breast marinated in Italian dressing. If serving it with tortellini, I would hesitate to serve this as a side.

But the chicken breast and salad was a perfect accompaniment. :-)