RRED Staff's Favorite Dad-Cooked Meals

This Father's Day, the Rachael Ray Every Day staff reminisces about their dad's greatest moments in the kitchen.
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Tara Cox dad

"My dad certainly has fun in the kitchen whether it’s recreating restaurant dishes he’s enjoyed (Hello butternut squash ravioli with vodka sauce and a maple syrup drizzle!), making cakes from his mother’s award-winning recipes or turning out english muffin egg sandwiches for breakfast. But the real star of his culinary repertoire is his love for “As Seen on TV” products, a devotion that has been passed down to me. Over the years, we’ve spent many a night on the phone debating the latest late night infomercial; a Saturday afternoon discussing life over the drone of (and with one eye on) the day’s paid programming or meal prep together showing off his new finds. You need some grated parmesan? Dad will retrieve his handy-dandy super grater and hand over a quart of it faster than Superman can change into his tights. Craving the aforementioned egg sandwich? He’s got an army of tiny one-egg fry pans to deliver multiple perfect circle sunny side ups at the exact same time. Don’t even get him started on his copper lined pans, strawberry stem picker or pickle-grabber tool. And then there was that one Thanksgiving that almost wasn’t when he jammed a too-large tukey into his “Set it and Forget It” rotisserie machine. The resulting “thoophf!” as the bird’s wing momentarily got stuck in the door at each revolution turned that meal’s prep into a nail-biting show we couldn't walk away from. The end result? A super-dry turkey and the annual telling of the “That time dad cooked the Thanksgiving turkey in the set it and forget” story. To be fair, years later dad hauled that machine out of the basement and cooked a perfect turkey breast for that year’s holiday dinner, redeeming himself and the whole family’s faith in all things “As Seen on TV." —Tara Cox, managing editor

JTM Dad

"If there was one thing my father loved to eat, it was spaghetti and meatballs. He loved it so much that he would audibly moan as he ate it. He thought we were playing a practical joke on him when he’d look up from our family dinner table to find all six of us staring at him as he twisted and twirled away at his supper, completely unaware of the noise he was making. He did not cook. Unless it was to heat up some leftover spaghetti and meatballs for lunch, or an evening snack, he relied on my mother for sustenance. And he was lucky, because she is a very good cook. Though he did appreciate everything she made, it was only the spaghetti and meatballs that made him moan. This will be my first Father’s Day without him. I’m thinking about whipping up a batch of spaghetti and meatballs for dinner. Dinner might be a little quieter without him at the table, but I could think of no better way to honor him." —Janet McCracken, food director

alysedad

"My dad turned into a short-order line cook on the weekends when I was a kid. He used his trusty electric griddle to make pancakes for our family, ignoring the ratio of boxed mix to water on the back of the Hungry Jack box and going with what looked and felt right to him for consistency. He made sure to let the batter sit for at least five minutes so the dry mix was properly hydrated, and they somehow tasted more homemade that way. He taught me another trick for golden-edged pancakes, too: use Crisco to grease the griddle. It doesn’t burn the way that butter does, and made sure neither the pancakes nor the over-easy fried egg stuck. The best part was that he added a pat of butter to the pancakes right before they hit our plates, and then add an egg right on top of that. Because of him, I don’t mind a little egg and syrup mixing together on my pancakes for a sweet-and-savory stack. I make pancakes from scratch for friends, but when I feel nostalgic and miss home, I keep a box of Hungry Jack in the back of my pantry." —Alyse Whitney, senior food editor 

Aliza and dad

"Dads who grill: like that’s anything original. But mine really knows his way around a Weber. He makes the best chicken that’s trussed with wire (badass), smoked, and glazed with vinegar-diluted BBQ sauce so the skin’s all sticky and tangy. I love nothing more than coming home and following that sweet smoke to dad in the backyard, brushing sauce on the birds." —Aliza Gans, associate food editor

hillary and dad

"You won’t catch my dad hovering over pots and pans on the stove, but he’s the master of concocting gameday or movie night food in the oven or toaster oven. My favorite dish of his is homemade nachos, stacked sky-high with a plethora of fresh Tex-Mex toppings. This dish is special because it can ONLY be made after my mom makes chili, since that’s my dad’s preferred alternative to ground meat. The chili, chopped bell peppers, jalapenos, tomatoes, and however many different types of cheeses we have in the fridge are sprinkled on top of tortilla chips and thrown in the oven for the ultimate snack (or dinner) that’s better than anything you’ll find at the ballpark. He likes to top it off with lettuce, hot sauce, and sometimes corn if it’s on hand. Dad always encourages everyone to invite friends and family members over to join us in indulging, and also to compliment him on his fine nacho-constructing abilities." —Hillary Maglin, editorial intern