Just one for dinner tonight? Forget the cold cereal. Rach has a chapter of recipes that make dining on your own a thoroughly civilized occasion, with great meals that won’t leave you with a fridge full of leftovers. Vegetarians on the guest list? No problem! Choose from dozens of meat-free meals that are every bit as satisfying as your tried-and-true standards and savory enough to please the carnivores in your crowd. Observing a Kosher menu? Check out the selection of menus just for Kosher cooks, all ready in less than, you guessed it, 30 minutes. There's even a mother lode of burger recipes for fans of the bun—so many options you could make a different burger every day for a full month!
In addition to her latest 30-minute creations, Rachael has put together an array of menus and recipes for easy entertaining, from quick snacks to serve for game night and easy hors d’oeuvres, to soup-to-nuts menus for her favorite holidays and special occasions. Whip up a pasta buffet for a special mom on Mother’s Day, please a crowd with a super-simple Oscar party menu, and give thanks for not one but four fantastic menus that keep holiday stress to a minimum by getting you out of the kitchen in record time.
Best of all, these recipes have all the huge flavors you’ve come to expect from Rachael, with something to please every taste--and every food budget. You’ll even find the treasured family recipes that Rachael and her husband, John, have enjoyed for years; see if they don’t become beloved family traditions in your home as well. Whether this is your first introduction to cooking the 30-minute way or you are a long-time convert, you’ll find irresistible new recipes here to make the most of every second you spend in the kitchen.Rachael Ray's Smoky Tomato Soup with Mini Grilled Cheese and Bacon Sammies
Smoky Tomato Soup with Mini Grilled Cheese and Bacon Sammies
1 tablespoon EVOO (extra-virgin olive oil)
4 slices smoked bacon, chopped
3 garlic cloves, chopped
1 onion, chopped
3 celery stalks, chopped
2 carrots, chopped
Salt and pepper
4 cups chicken stock
1/2 teaspoon dried marjoram or oregano
1 (28-ounce) can crushed
fire-roasted tomatoes, partially drained (if you only have diced or whole fire-roasted tomatoes, don't sweat it; it all gets ground up later)
1 teaspoon sugar
2 teaspoons hot smoked paprika, 2/3 palmful
1/4 cup heavy cream
Butter, for the skillet
16 slices of party-size rye, pumpernickel, or whole wheat bread, such as Pepperidge Farm
8 square slices of extra-sharp cheddar cheese, 1/4 inch thick
3 tablespoons finely chopped fresh chives
1-1/2 cups (a single-serving bag) white cheddar popcorn
Heat the EVOO in a medium soup pot over medium-high heat. Add the chopped bacon and cook until crisp, 2 to 3 minutes. Using a slotted spoon, transfer the crispy bacon to paper towels to drain and reserve for the mini grilled cheese and bacon sammies.
To the same pot, add the garlic, onions, celery, and carrots and season with salt and pepper. Cook for 5 to 6 minutes, until the vegetables are tender. Scoop the veggies into a food processor, add about 1/2 cup of the chicken stock and the marjoram, and puree until smooth. If the tomatoes you are using are whole or diced, add them to the processor with the veggies and puree.
Return the pureed veggies to the pot, place back over medium-high heat, and add the remaining chicken stock, the crushed or pureed fire-roasted tomatoes, the sugar, and the smoked paprika. Bring the soup up to a bubble, stir in the cream, and keep warm over low heat while you make the sammies.
Heat some butter in a large skillet over medium heat. While the butter is melting, lay 8 of the bread slices on a cutting board. Top each one with a slice of cheese, a sprinkle of the reserved bacon, some chives, and another slice of bread. Transfer 4 of the mini sammies to the hot skillet and cook until the sandwich is toasted on both sides and the cheese is melted. Repeat with the remaining 4 sammies.
Serve the smoky tomato soup with some popcorn floating on top and the grilled mini grilled cheese and bacon sammies alongside.
Rachael Ray is a bestselling author and the host of Food Network's popular 30-Minute Meals and Tasty Travels as well as her daytime syndicated show, Rachael Ray. She is also the founder of Yum-o!, a charitable foundation dedicated to helping parents and children develop a healthy relationship with food. This is her fourteenth cookbook.