[Allie: Please welcome another guest writer to the blog! Sarah is our friend from college, and we made her eat nonsense garbage food. We are bad friends.]
Sarah: I feel like I should start this with a confession: I think that I’m the person to blame for Chris and Allie’s initial meeting, and therefore their friendship, and therefore, this blog. If I would have known ten years ago in college that bringing groups of friends together would mean many hours of bad puns and probably raised cholesterol levels past the point of reversal, perhaps I would have done things differently. But we’ll never know. I am so sorry to everyone that I’ve hurt, and to all the cabbage in Chicago that has been martyred for this weird experiment.
Anyway, I was coming to Chicago for Thanksgiving to see my family and eat food that is good, and was planning on staying with Chris and Becca (the wife) for a few days. I remember I explicitly asked if this meant I would have to eat Guy Fieri food, but honestly I forgot the answer because I really needed a place to crash. So I wish I could say I was excited to be a guest on this blog, but that would be disingenuous. I knew this would be bad and unlike friend of the blog Heather, I came into this with a very closed mind. I had a brief moment of optimism after I chose these recipes -- how bad could Guy Fieri really mess up onion rings, a standard chicken marsala, and squash, which you literally just cut and roast? Reader, you are not going to believe this, but: a lot.
My overall experience can be described in the wise words of Chris, who said to me the morning after we ate this food, “Wow, that food really did not sit well with me last night. Anyway your turn to use the bathroom.”
Sarah: I love squash and it is autumn so I had the highest expectations for the acorn squash recipe, and I chose it because it seemed like the only thing left that had some semblance of vegetables -- and as an Adult Person who also ate a lot of deep dish pizza while in Chicago, I thought this would be a healthy option. Obviously this was misguided, because within these seasonal, fresh acorn squash halves we were forced to include all this other shit that made it taste more like an Italian sausage sub that was trying to be low-carb. Maybe it was because Allie fondled the sausage in a way I'd like to forget or because Chris, for an inexplicable reason, bought goat cheese that was so infused with pepper that it’s all I could taste, but I didn’t finish this one.
I will also say that this is the only recipe I’ve ever read that had a confusing personal story WITHIN the instructions. After roasting the squash seeds, we were told to sprinkle them with sea salt and keep a close eye on them because his sons named Hunter and Ryder (????) like to steal and eat them. Uh, I’m sorry, in addition to being forced to make this food, I have to watch out for small children with frosted tips and sunglasses on the back of their necks running through this kitchen???? This experience is a personal nightmare. Sarah's rating: 2 out of 5 of Guy Fieri’s children... I don’t know how many he has but honestly any nonzero sum is horrifying to me.
Allie: Chris has been looking forward to making this recipe since we started the blog, which was a surefire guarantee that it wasn't going to be good, because being enthusiastic about one of these recipes is truly a kiss of death. Anyway, this was weird and peppery, but on the other hand, it also had a lot of flavors and textures jammed together in a way that I did not find appealing. The "best" part was when we tried to roast the squash seeds and they literally started exploding and whizzing around the oven. So I guess I don't recommend this recipe if you want something good to eat for dinner, but I definitely recommend this recipe if you're looking to re-enact the beginning of Saving Private Ryan with seasonal fresh produce. Allie's rating: 2 out of 5 squash seeds we found in Chris's broiler two weeks after cooking this
Chris: No one mentioned that this recipe called for homemade turkey sausage, which took 24-48 hours to make. We noped right out of that and just bought turkey sausage from the store. You might think that could be to blame for the overall shittiness of this dinner, but it was actually the best part. If I was a food network dot com commentator who wanted to be helpful and improve this dish, I would say "Instead of homemade sausage, I used store bought, and instead of everything else, I had nothing. It was delicious." Anyway this sausage was delicious. The squash nugget things were fine. Guy seriously hyped how good the seeds were gonna be but they were also just fine. Basically, this whole dish was less than the sum of its parts, which is pretty impressive, all things considered. Chris's rating: 2.5 out of 5 delicious store bought turkey sausages
Sarah: Then we made rojo onion rings. I was put in charge of the easiest job on this one, which was to mix together the unholy amounts of the ketchup, hot sauce, and garlic powder mixture that coats the onions. Together, this looked like something the devil would throw up after an all-night bender but, as Allie and Chris told me, it wasn’t even remotely the most disgusting marinade they’ve had to make for this blog. I am so worried about my friends.
These onion rings were actually not terrible, mostly because they were fried and I’d probably eat garbage if it was breaded. There wasn’t much heat coming from them but the ketchup definitely came through, which was fine but also gave them the taste that someone pre-dipped your onion ring, left it sitting for a while, and then forced you to eat it. Either way I ate several of them, proving they were okay and/or I am a trash person. Sarah's rating: 4 out of 5 all night devil benders
Allie: Look, I give Guy Fieri a lot of shit, but I have to hand it to him: this was a good onion ring recipe. He had us coat the onion rings in batter and breadcrumbs and let them sit in the fridge for 20 minutes before frying them; I thought this would make the onion rings soggy and more likely to fall apart in the oil, but instead they held up very nicely. It was like the time I got drunk before watching Titanic: I thought it would make me weepy and emotional, but instead it made me tired and I fell asleep well before the iceberg even came into play, thus allowing me to remain in a stable emotional state. That is just one of the many ways I am like an onion ring. The flavoring on these was fine, but just like when I eat salads, I found myself wishing that I was eating a plain onion ring that I could dip into ketchup by myself. Anyway, I took a bunch of these home and the next day I ate them cold out of the fridge because I don't have a microwave and then my stomach hurt later that day for some reason. Allie's rating: 4 out of 5 reasons to buy a microwave
Chris: I don't really like onion rings that much. If I'm noshing on an app sampler, it's definitely the last thing I eat. It's basically a vegetable that's masquerading as a snack. I especially don't like onion rings that need to be assembled in like forty carefully timed steps like IKEA furniture. But when I make IKEA furniture, I don't often get scalded by hot oil for 20 minutes. I mean, sometimes I do, but not often. Anyway, these were fine. They were pretty crispy. They weren't that red. The ketchup-y marinade we made was pointless (much like this blog #selfburn). They basically just tasted like onion rings. Is that a win? Are my standards that low? Yea, I guess they are. Chris's rating: 3.5 out 5 low standards.
Sarah: Finally, we made Holla 4 Chicken Marsala. My favorite part of this recipe was that I got to pound the chicken thighs using a meat tenderizer, which really freed a lot of my rage. We should all get to hammer things more. We should not all get to eat this marsala more, though, because it had so much butter and wine in it -- usually two things that there can NEVER be enough of -- that it was kind of slimy and the sauce separated on my plate. But given that I was so zen after beating the chicken and my anxieties away, I ate more of this than I care to admit. Sarah's rating: 3.5 out of 5 meat hammers
Allie: I think what bothers me most about the name of this recipe is how lazy it is. Am I supposed to holla 4 chicken marsala? Is this chicken marsala so good I want to holla 4 it? If I holla 4 or at chicken marsala, who or what will respond? Guy Fieri's idea of a joke appears to be: some words rhyme with other words, and it's funny when rhymes happen. When he learns what songs are, he is going to lose his goddamn mind. Like Sarah said, this chicken was slimy. I mean, look at the picture. It's one sticky bird away from being a candid shot of the BP oil spill. It tasted... fine, but it was too oily (FOR ME, and if I were a Star Wars character, I would be the trash compactor), and the Marsala overwhelmed the mushrooms instead of complementing them. Maybe this dish should have been called "Sit quietly and ponder 4 chicken marsala". Allie's rating: 3 out of 5 slimy lil birds
Chris: I tried to make a shopping list for this dinner quickly before work and I ended up scribbling it quickly on a scrap of paper. And my handwriting is generally pretty illegible, but writing a shopping list quickly on my thigh while still half asleep really pushed it into drunk doctor with Parkinson's territory. Anyway, I wrote down as one of the things to buy as "Wanda Gravy." So I'm at the store later, and I'm in the gravy section and they DO NOT have Wanda Gravy. So I try googling Wanda Gravy, and I don't see any results, but there is a woman named Wanda Gravy on Facebook who lives in Florida. I wish I was doing this blog with her instead of Allie. Anyway, I couldn't find Wanda Gravy, so I got regular brown gravy. Then, I was in the bread crumb aisle later and they had WONDRA FLOUR, and I realized that's what I meant to write! There's no such thing as Wanda Gravy! Well, there is but she's a lady in Florida! In conclusion, the moral of this story is I'm leaving my wife and save the date for Wanda's and my wedding. Make sure you respond whether you want the Chicken Marsala or the vegetarian dish which is acorn squash LOADED WITH MEAT.
This chicken marsala was really bad. You may be thinking, "how can you mess up chicken marsala??" It's pretty hard to do, but I think if you follow the exact steps in Guy's recipe, you can do it. I believe in you! The sauce was weird. It tasted super brown. You couldn't even taste the Wanda Gravy in it. I kept trying to pour Allie a glass of Marsala wine as a hilarious joke but she did not think it was funny. That's a lie, actually. I kept trying to pour Allie a glass of marsala wine because we finished our box of wine before we even started cooking but Allie said you can't drink it--it's just for cooking. Maybe that's the problem with this recipe. If you have wine that's poison when drunk alone, maybe it's not the best thing to base a recipe around. Chris's rating: 2 out of 5 refreshing glasses of delicious Wanda Gravy.
Total recipes made: 74/157
Worst sentence from one of these recipes: "Watch out--this is when Hunter and Ryder cruise through and steal the seeds."
What I would do if Guy Fieri's children magically appeared while I was cooking squash: call Child Services
Chris: Truly, the most satisfying thing about having guest bloggers is that when some smart ass says "How do you know the food isn't secretly good and you're just bad at cooking??" I can point to these posts and say I HAVE PROOF.
Allie: Yeah but the most infuriating thing is that we have to say that ALL the time because if there's one thing this blog has taught me it's that NO ONE thinks we're good cooks