Favorite Rachel Ray style cooking

Okay, we all doctor prepared foods somewhat to suit our own tastes but I want to know what imaginative food concoctions you’ve created with prepared foods that have turned out well enough to want to share with others.

Here’s one of my favorites:
1 quart prepared black bean soup (Imagine brand)
1 quart home canned tomatoes
Leftover supermarket rotisserie chicken, cut up

Heat and mix in a large saucepan.
Serve over rice (I mix brown and wild rice because the cooking time is the same).

Your turn.

I thought that the “doctor up prepared food” thing was Sandra Lee’s schtick, not Rachel Ray’s.

Got it in one.
Sandra Lee is the Stepford blond that makes me thankful I’m not married to her.
Rachel Ray is the uber perky brunette who make me glad I’m not married to her. (but at least the food would be better than if I were married to SL and the meals would only take 30 minutes)

Well, Rick and Chronos are right about who it is on FoodTV that doctors pre-bought food. But I’ve got one:
I buy Hamburger Helper (usually the generic; it’s cheaper) Cheeseburger Macaroni flavor and make the following changes:
I use all the milk the recipe calls for, but instead of hot water, I’ll heat up some spaghetti sauce and use that; the flavor of the sauce soaks into the macaroni while it cooks. A much heartier, tastier dish that is wonderful for breakfast the next morning, if you don’t mind being all ‘white trash’ about it. :wink:
I also add extra cheese at the end, because, hey, you never have too much cheese!

My mom’s Instant “Chili” (in quotes, to satisfy the chili purists):

Browned ground beef
Large can/jar of spaghetti sauce (26 oz., I think? All quantities are pretty flexible, though - or you can use plain tomato sauce, or half tomato sauce/half Rotel… really just depends on what you have in the pantry.)
1 jar salsa
2 cans Progresso (or other brand) lentil soup

Dump together in saucepan or crock pot, cook until hot.

Sounds disgusting, tastes pretty darned good, and prone to all sorts of modifications. I like to add a can of black bean soup to the mix - stumbled on that on night when I had an unexpected extra dinner guest, and needed to stretch the quantity. On Wednesday, I did a make-ahead pot of chili while cooking tacos for dinner. I dumped everything into the crock pot to heat while I cooked, and while we ate, and then put the leftover taco meat and refried beans into the chili. The refried beans made the chili nice and thick and rich for Thursday night, and the texture was even better Friday night, when hubby and I had chili-topped baked potatoes for dinner.

My mom’s chicken and dumplings were all blah until the one time she added Campbell’s cream of chicken. It tasted amazing, like the kind you get at restaurants (which honestly makes me wonder…).

I also like to put Craft’s Thousand Island on my grilled chicken breasts, and use premade hamburger patties in my chilli, but I don’t know if either counts.

Sorry on the Rachel Ray. Her early shows used more doctored food than she does now. I’m behind the times.

Back to the OP, a simple mac-and-cheese, prepared according to the directions on the box, can be significantly improved by any or all of the following measures:

Replace the butter with an equal weight of bacon (with grease)
Stir in a slice or two of actual crumbled cheese
Stir in a big dollop of salsa
Stir in a can of tuna

Whenever I make mac and cheese out of a box, I always add more cheese! (Our family motto is: You never have too much cheese; if you ever accidentally put too much cheese on something, add a little more cheese, and no one will notice). I also add a dollop of sour cream sometimes, for a little tang. I’ll have to try the bacon trick!

I don’t do the bacon thing, but I am sure to use real butter and I always add more cheese. I also add broccoli so I get some nutrition with it.

As far as real butter goes, we don’t even buy margarine. Growing up, margarine was all my Mom ever bought, and I guess for a long time I didn’t see any real difference. But then, after I was married and had the freedom to buy what I wanted, I started buying real butter, and was amazed at what a difference it makes in taste!

If you are doing a potluck at work so something similar, Carroll Shelby’s Chili makes a kick ass chili base.
The only hard part is done the night before, the chili cooks in a crock pot.
At home the night before brown 2 lbs of ground beef (coarse grind if you can find it) along with 1 Lb of ground pork. and a chopped onion. Add some salt due to the extra meat.
Drain and chill in a container you can take to work.
Take to work
The CS chili mix and what it calls for (tomato paste IIRC)
Crock pot
Can diced green chilies
A can of Rotel tomatoes
A can of beans if you are so inclined
some chopped raw onions
Shredded chese
Can opener
Spoon to stir.
Throw it all together when you get to work. Leave it on low.
At about 11:30 mix up the masa flour and thicken.
I did this once for a quick potluck lunch and it was requested for every potluck after that.