Racing Rachael: Mini Meat Loaves with Mac & Cheese and Seared Greens

Racing Rachael: Mini Meat Loaves with Mac & Cheese and Seared Greens
Carrie Applegate Jaeger

So, here's the thing...Even though Rachael Ray's TV persona drives me up the wall with the overuse of her cutesy catch phrases (specifically "EVOO" and "Yum-O," if you need a reminder), I can't help but be intrigued by the 30 Minute Meals concept. Can a regular Jane without the benefit of an army of peons to clean, peel, chop, and clean for her pull off one of Rachael's meals in a mere 30 minutes?

The food: I whipped out my unused Classic Rachael Ray 30-Minutes Meals cookbook and made Ray's "Italian Stick-to-Your-Ribs" meal consisting of Italian Mini Meat Loaves with Mac & 3 Cheeses and Seared Greens with Red Onion and Vinegar. The meatloaves had good flavor and maintained their moisture. I'm a mac & cheese lover, but I'm not dying to eat these leftovers. The herbs on the breadcrumbs completely overran the taste of cheese. So sad. The greens were a little tough, but had a nice tang which contrasted nicely to the rest of the meal.

The time: 47 minutes of uninterrupted cooking. Not quite 30, but not too shabby.

The verdict: While the taste was generally solid, the disaster left in my kitchen after making this meal would definitely make me think twice before recreating it. Maybe if I wasn't in super-speed mode I would have cleaned as I cooked. The meatloaves will be added to my dinner rotation, as will a variation of the greens, using spinach instead of Swiss chard. The mac & cheese recipe may be made again sans the herbs, but I'm not convinced it was cheesy enough for my taste.

Ways to beat the clock: Omit those herbs, use pre-shredded cheese, and chop as fast as your little hands will go!

Happy (speedy) cooking!



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