50 Women Game Changers in Food: Rachael Ray (Week 13)

In 2011, Gourmet released their list of the 50 Women Game Changers in Food. I stumbled on this entirely by accident. One week a couple of months ago, I was meal planning, and didn’t have access to my Ina Garten cookbooks. So, I googled the recipe I was looking for and found it on a blog that was making its way through the list (she’s number 39… I’m a little disgruntled that Rachael Ray is higher up than she is). I was inspired to do the same. I need to challenge myself more in the kitchen, and I thought this would be an excellent way to do so.  As I’ve been planning for this, I’ve been flipping through cookbooks, checking out websites and buying new equipment, and I’m excited. I’m also really looking forward to learning more about these game changing women, and introducing myself to recipes I’ve never cooked before.

(And since this entire year-long project will be all recipes I’ve never made before, I can’t promise that everything will turn out the way I want it to. But whether a dish is a winner or an epic fail, I’m going to be completely honest about it.)

Week 13 brings us to Rachael Ray.


I owe my desire to do this project to Rachael Ray.
I owe every recipe on this blog to Rachael Ray.
I owe all of the cookbooks and kitchen gadgets I own to Rachael Ray.

Are you sensing a pattern here?

Rachael Ray is the reason I started cooking. Once upon a time (back in 2003), I was home sick. I was laying in bed, flipping through the channels, and I landed on Food Network. 30 Minute Meals was on, and for some reason I stopped and watched. She wasn’t making anything exciting or all that interesting, but she was interesting to watch. And I started watching her show every day. I remember one day, I had to go to court for a speeding ticket. After court, before going to work, I stopped by the house and watched an episode of her show. The first meal I ever made on my own was one of hers. It wasn’t anything exciting, and honestly it wasn’t very good, but I made it. And it made me want to cook more. And almost 12 years later, here we are.

Rachael Ray was born in 1968 in Glen Falls, New York. Her mother had always managed restaurants, and in 1995, when she moved to New York City, she started working with food herself. She moved back to upstate New York, and was working as a food buyer when her 30 Minute Meals fame began. She would meet people who were reluctant to cook, and she began offering classes on how to cook a meal in 30 minutes or less. This led to a segment on a local morning show, a book deal, and eventually her Food Network contract in 2001.

One thing I always liked about her, is how self deprecating she is. She mentioned all the time that she was guilty of constantly burning bread under the broiler, how she couldn’t bake (since baking is an art that requires a level of exactness that cooking doesn’t), and how she has absolutely zero formal training, which considering the empire she’s built, is inspiring. She’s published over 20 cookbooks, has won three Daytime Emmy’s, has moved up to a major network talk show, and has endorsed everything you can possibly imagine, from dog food to pots and pans (both of which I have purchased.)

That very first show I watched was all about foods for a southern tea party, and I thought it would be nice little bit of nostalgia to make one of those recipes for this week. The ham salad sandwiches didn’t sound very appealing, so I went with the spiked sweet tea.

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I have a confession to make. I may be southern born & southern bred, but I can’t make a decent pitcher of iced tea to save my life. I think I try to “healthify” it too much. I either sweeten it with Splenda (and yes-I know it’s not good for you, & definitely not healthy) or I use a very minimal amount of sugar. The end result is always pretty disappointing. 2015-02-27 01.35.12

This pitcher of tea turned out pretty good. It would have been excellent if not for the lemon. The flavor of lemon completely overpowered everything else. So, I sliced up another orange, and floated the slices in the pitcher. It was pretty, but it also added more orange juice to the tea, which helped cancel out a little of the lemon flavor.
2015-02-27 01.36.46

Adding the rum to it was a nice little addition, but it didn’t really need it. The tea was really good on it’s own (once the lemon flavor calmed down a bit). I made this on a really cold, snowy day, and while I’m sure hot tea would have been more soothing, this tea was bright, cheerful and exactly what I needed. Although the Air Force was annoying me at the time, so the shot of rum was most definitely appreciated. 2015-02-27 01.48.01

So there you have it. I’ve lived in the south for my entire life (nearly 32 years), and this was the first time I’ve made a pitcher of iced tea that I would be happy to share with friends. Thanks, Rachael Ray. Thank you for the recipe for this tea, and thank you for being the catalyst to my obsession with food, and cooking.

Rachael Ray’s Spicy-Spiked Iced Tea
(Original recipe found here.)


  • 4 orange Pekoe tea bags
  • 3 cups boiling water
  • 5 to 6 cups of ice cubes, plus additional ice to serve
  • 1/2 cup superfine sugar, plus more if desired
  • 1/2 a lemon, juiced
  • 2 oranges, 1 juiced & one thinly sliced for serving
  • 2 cinnamon sticks
  • 10 whole cloves
  • 8 (1 1/2-oz) shots of light rum


  1. Place tea bags in a small bowl or large measuring cup. Add 3 cups boiling water and steep tea 5 minutes.
  2. Fill a large pitcher with ice cubes, 5 to 6 cups. Pour sugar over ice. Add lemon and orange juice, cinnamon stick and cloves. Pour hot tea over ice and stir with wooden spoon until most of the ice dissolves and tea has been quick-cooled. Serve, or chill until ready to serve.
  3. When ready to serve, pour into a tall glass filled with more ice,  and a shot of light rum. Pour spicy iced tea through a strainer to remove the cinnamon, cloves and fruit pulp/pits. Fill glass with tea. Serve tea with extra sugar and orange slices.

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