30 Minute Meals Get Real – #1

As much as I love coming up with meals on my own, I also really enjoy finding inspiration from cookbooks and Food Network. Rachael Ray is one of my favorite sources for inspiration. The kids agree too, and we usually watch one episode of her show together every night. (They’ve been saying “Yummo” and “EVOO” almost as long as they’ve been talking.

I appreciate her cooking style – a little of this, a little of that – and the fact that her recipes are so versatile. We all also tend to think that they’re very good. And I appreciate the fact that I can create a new and delicious meal for my family without spending all day in the kitchen and still sticking with my stolen moments method.

However, I have yet to find one of her recipes that actually takes me only 30 minutes to make. When you have children for sous chefs and life going on around you, I just don’t think it’s realistic to believe that you can make one of her meals, start to finish, in 30 minutes or less.

So, here is a breakdown of a 30 Minute Meal FOR REAL I’m going to be doing one of these each week and I hope you’ll follow along. And I’d love to see your real version of a 30 minute meal too!
On the menu for this dinner we have Sweet Sausages Braised in Onions with Horseradish Smashed Potatoes. (From Rachael Ray 365:No Repeats) *Recipe at the bottom of this post.
I broke from routine a little bit for the sake of experimentation. We generally eat at 6:30, so I figured I’d give myself a little leeway.
Gracie is the first helper on the scene. She takes my potatoes to the counter for me and only drops 3 in the process.
Then Olivia decides she wants in on the action too, so I stop cutting potatoes to put her on the counter. (That’s where she spends most of her time when I’m cooking.)

11 minutes in and I’m just putting the potatoes in the pot and the sausages in the skillet.

Olivia had to get down to go potty, so Alex decided he wanted to take over her spot.
Back to chopping garlic. (Yes, that is a “garbage bowl” in the background, and yes, those are Rachael Ray pans on my stove. I’m usually not this much of a follower, I promise!)
The sausages are out, the onions and garlic are in. I had to put the onions in before the garlic so that I could stop to put Alex on the counter. 5 minutes until the 30 minute mark. It’s not looking good!Why do I hear Gracie spitting in the next room? MUST go check on her! Ahhh…she’s finally decided she doesn’t like the taste of crayon. That’s a step in the right direction for her, but not very helpful for my dinner.
One minute past the goal. Sausages are braising and potatoes are still simmering.
Oh, excuse her. Isabelle’s Nintendo needs to be plugged in, and that obviously takes precedence over the counter clean-up I was trying to finish.
When you’re not old enough to sit on the counter, having mama hold you is the next best thing.
It’s finally time to mash the potatoes, 47 minutes in.
Dishing food onto plates. The clock says 6:49.
Just over one hour after starting, dinner is served. (I’ll be honest and shave 5 minutes off of that time to account for picture taking.) It definitely didn’t take only 30 minutes, but it sure was delicious!

Sweet Sausages Braised in Onions with Horseradish Smashed Potatoes

  • 2 lbs. small red potatoes, cut into quarters
  • Coarse salt
  • 1 T. extra-virgin olive oil (EVOO) (once around the pan)
  • 8 links (about 2 pounds sweet Italian sausage
  • 2 medium yellow onions, thinly sliced
  • 2-3 tablespoons chopped fresh thyme leaves (I used 1 1/2 t. dried thyme)
  • 3 garlic cloves, chopped
  • Coarse black pepper
  • 1/4 c. balsamic vinegar (eyeball it)
  • 2 c. chicken stock or 1 1/4 oz. can chicken broth
  • 2 tablespoons honey
  • 2 tablespoons unsalted butter
  • 1/4 – 1/3 c. sour cream 1 rounded tablespoon prepared horseradish
  • 1/4 – 1/2 c. milk, depending on how you like your mashers
  • 1/4 c. fresh flat-leaf parsley, chopped (I skipped this.)

1. For the smashed potatoes, place the potatoes in a pot and cover with water. Cover the pot with a lid and bring the water to a boil. Salt the water and potatoes. Take off the lid and boil the potatoes until tender, 10 to 12 minutes.

2. While the potatoes are cooking, start the sausages. Heat a large skillet over medium-high heat with the EVOO. Add the sausage links and brown on all sides, about 4 minutes. Remove the sausages from the skillet and reserve.

3. To the skillet, add the onions, thyme, and garlic, and season with salt and pepper. Cook the onions, stirring frequently, until they begin to brown, about 5 minutes. Add the balsamic vinegar, chicken stock, and honey. Bring the liquid to a simmer, then add the browned sausages back to the pan and braise the sausages until they are cooked through and the sauce has reduced by half, 8 to 10 minutes.

4. While the sausages are braising, drain the potatoes and return them in the hot pot to the warm stovetop to dry them out. Add the butter, sour cream, horseradish, and milk to the potatoes and smash to the desired consistency. Season the potatoes with salt and pepper to taste. Divide the horseradish smashed potatoes among 4 serving dishes. Add the chopped parsley to the sausages, then top each serving of potatoes with 2 sausages and some of the braising liquid.

Stop by Rocks In My Dryer for more Works For Me Wednesday.

26 thoughts on “30 Minute Meals Get Real – #1

  1. Don’t feel bad. I don’t have little ones, and I still can’t get a 30-minute meal on the table in 30 minutes!

  2. This post made me smile so big! I have 4 kids (7,5,3 and 1) and I know exactly what you are talking about. Great recipe and I will have to come back and check out the other ones you are going to post.

  3. I had to giggle when I read this post! The first time I tried out a RR 30 Minute Meal, it took me 2 1/2 hours!!! AND, I didn’t even have my kiddos helping me, the hubster was watching them for me so I could concentrate, etc. He swears to this day that there should be some sort of disclaimer about it taking 30 minutes. I’ve since then been able to shave off a little bit of time doing it but sadly, not much! Good luck and can’t wait to see what else you make!

  4. How cute! I too have never finished a RR recipe in 30! I’ll definitely try that one, though, it looks delish even if it took a little longer!

  5. I don’t have children either and i can’t get a 30 minute meal out either. I have that same cookbook — but hadn’t moticed this recipe. Yummo! I’m going ot have to try it.

    Loved the photos, it was a lot of fun having dinner prep with you all.

    Have a Great Day!
    Kristin (The Goat)

  6. OH does look sooo familiar! My hubby and I have had conversations about how long it takes for me to get a “simple dinner” on the table! Even doing frozen convenience foods for a dinner I can’t get in 30 minutes! LOL!

  7. I have the same qualms about her recipes in that they never take me 30 minutes, however the extra time is always worth it because they are usually really good!
    Love your little helpers 🙂

  8. This makes me miss having my kids, who are grown now, in the kitchen under foot!

    Your meal looks delish! Great presentation.

  9. I LOVED this post! I love Rachel Ray too but it so awesome to see the reality of things.

    Personally, I can barely get a frozen pizza heated and onto the table in 30 minutes, and I only have ONE little munchkin under foot (so far!) 🙂

  10. I had never actually tried one of her 30-minute meals, but I always guessed that there was no way I’d get them done in that time. If nothing else, at least because of the fact that I can’t chop and slice and super-fast as chefs can. And that prep time adds up!

    Thanks for the humorous take on the 30-minute meal. That’s reality for us moms, isn’t it? 🙂

    Thanks for all the recipes and tips, I love them!

  11. I love using thirty-minute meal menus– because then I know I’ll have food on in no more than an hour! 😀

    (If the recipe says something like “Total Time: 1 hour, 15 minutes” I know I’ll be at it all afternoon…)

    By the way, another name for what you just made is “Bangers and Mash.” It’s British in origin, and we LOVE that dish around here.

  12. I remember cooking like that when my girls were little! Now I just get interrupted by them asking questions, such as: “Can I borrow the car?” “Can I have money?” “Is my cheerleading uniform clean” and the ever popular, “What’s for Dinner!”

  13. Loved this post, Kate! We love RR around here, too, and I have this same cookbook. I’ve made a few things in it, but not this one (it looks yummy though). I totally know what you mean about the 30 min thing–it just doesn’t happen! Your *cooking in real time* was so funny–and true!

    I’ve recently made a couple of things out of her YUM-O family cookbook and I really like it, too.

  14. Great post. I LOVE RR too. I am actually watching her talk show right now. I have several of her cookbooks and love the food but I can’t make a 30 minute meal. It’s always double that amount of time lol. I think she should have to try and do one with two kids. 🙂

  15. What a wonderful post. I love it. I still remember the homemade birthday cake I made my husband the first year we had an extremely colicky baby. Took me four days.

  16. What a great idea! And a hi-lar-ious post. I have four kids (6,8,10,12) also. It is definitely worth the extra time it takes having them around. Look forward to seeing how you do next week.

  17. I’ve never tried any of her recipes, so I will take time doubling into consideration when I do. I did laugh though, that you and I have the same cutting board, knife and I have one of the pots you do, too. Orange is great, although, I don’t think I’d do my whole kitchen that way like on RR’s Food Network kitchen…

  18. I love RR. I have a 10 and 4 yr old, and while I can’t make most of her meals in 30 minute meals. most of what I do make of hers usually is about 45 minutes to an hour. the first few times u make them. But the more u make them, the quicker it gets. like her citrus marinated chix salad only takes me 30 minutes now. Plus to RR defence she does admit that for her they are 30, but for the less experinced it might take about 45 min.

  19. That was super fun! I enjoyed seeing all of your interruptions. I can totally relate (except that so far I only have two kids, although sometimes it feels like I’m raising an army…).

  20. I’m glad its not just me. I wondered what I was doing wrong. In fact, I even considered trying to cook along with Rach on 30 Minute Meals to see where I was going wrong.

Comments are closed.