Why Rachael Ray and I could be friends

When I was a kid, my mother went to work outside the home when I was in second grade. This often meant I was responsible for preparing my own afternoon snacks. Before the days of The Food Network, I used to pretend their was a video camera in my kitchen and I would talk to it about what I was making for my afternoon snack. My sister, next door neighbor Julie, and my friend Katrina can also attest to some of my microwave cooking experiments. I know, I know…it’s totally silly, right?

My original plan when I went off to college was to double major – Broadcast and Advertising. I ended up just pursing the Advertising side of the J-school.  But what I was  really good at volunteering and volunteer management (the extra curricular stuff). One of my friend suggested I pursue a career in social work. I actually looked into for a minute but decided it wasn’t want I wanted to do. With a nudge from a few other friends, I pursed opportunities which led me two terms as AmeriCorps member, mentoring and tutoring children. I loved what I did but pursed my Masters in Public Administration so I could actually get paid a decent wage for it. Although I love my career in the nonprofit sector, my heart still has a special place for that dream of one day hosting my own cooking show.

So why do I think Rachael Ray and I could be friends? In June, Rachael Ray came to Kansas City. I was super excited when I heard she was coming and bought her new burger cookbook immediately from Rainy Day Books so I could meet her (I was the 7th person to place my order). She’s my favorite celebrity chef. That weekend, I met Tony Dovolani and Chelsea Hightower (both very sweet) from Dancing with the Stars…but I was really hoping Rachael Ray would sign my book in front of me. Unfortunately, with over 1,000 attendees, she signed the books in advance.

Rachael Ray is just as cute and bubbly in person. I also loved this beautiful story she shared about how she still has a flip phone from over 12 years ago. She saves it to listen to about 20 voicemail messages her husband has sent since the day they first met. Gotta love that!

The story about how she got her big break is also amazing. Rachael was working at a few different food stores. At one, they realized the pre-cooked meals sold a lot better than the gourmet ingredients for people to cook those meals themselves. It sparked an idea,  Rachael said they figured if people would wait 30 minutes for a Domino pizza (back in those 30 minutes or less promo days), what if they could teach them how to cook a meal using their ingredients in the same amount of time. The idea was golden.  And without the funds to hire a chef, Rachael assumed the responsibility of showing people how to cook with their high end products. Pretty soon, she had a segment on their local TV station. The recipes turned into little cookbooks sold at their local grocery stores. As luck would have it Weatherman Al Roker got a copy of one of the cookbooks and gave it to his producer. When a snowstorm was scheduled to hit the northeast, Rachael got a call from Al’s producer to do The Today Show. This happened just after she was asked to cook a recipe on a NPR station. The cards aligned and producers at The Food Network took notice. And America fell in love with Rachael Ray.

So why do I think we could be friends? I’m not a culinary trained chef – just a person who loves to cook. Who knows, maybe I’ll get my big break to share a recipe in the local media. And although I don’t regret my decision to go the nonprofit PR route, a little part of me wishes I would have got the broadcast degree. As I learn more about telling people’s stories working with clients, I think I would have been a pretty good producer.

Today, I am sharing one of the recipes from Rachael Ray’s newest cookbook. I personally think it is her best one yet so I hope you go out and pick-up a copy. It even is filled with QR codes to link to more recipes and videos.

Tips by Rachael Ray that I love:

  • Bake bacon. Rachael suggest bacon on a wire rack so the grease drips off. Plus, you don’t splatter all over your kitchen.
  • Make your burgers thick on the outside than the middle. They will even out when cooking and also cook more evenly.
  • Take a pound of meat and flatten it into a square. Score it and divide into four sections. This way your burgers are all the same size without having to steal from a burger that is already complete.

Meat Lover’s Burger by Rachael Ray
2 plum tomatoes, cored and sliced 1/2 inch thick
1 sprinkle of dried oregano
Kosher salt and pepper
EVOO (extra-virgin olive oil) for drizzling
1/4 lb. bacon, finely diced
1 lb. ground beef
2 large garlic cloves, minced or grated
A handful of parsley, finely chopped
2 oz. salami pieces
1/4 lb. ham
4 slices of provolone cheese
4 crusty rolls
A handful of basil leaves, torn
A handful of arugula leaves
Thinly sliced red onion

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Arrange sliced tomatoes on a cookie sheet. Season with oregano, salt, and pepper. Drizzle with EVOO. Bake for 40 minutes. Mix meat, garlic, and parsley together. From into four patties. Cook in a skillet with EVOO. When finished, top with cheese and melt for a minute. Serve on a bun with tomato, onion, and fresh greens.

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