Orzo Salad with Oranges and Red Wine Vinaigrette

Orzo has become my summer obsession and it has become a bit of a problem. Mostly because I run out of it right when I want to make it again. I have resorted to buying it in bulk so I never am without it. The best part about orzo is that you can add pretty much anything to it. Leftover anything, chopped up, tossed with orzo, trust me it works. I had posted a similar recipe to this with these lamb burgers, but wanted to give you a more precise recipe. Citrus in summer is classic and refreshing. Paired with the tartness of this vinaigrette, some crisp celery, and the zing of red onion it equals a great side to any barbecue. Best part is that you can get great oranges year round, so feel free to punch up your winter with this salad.

Orzo Salad with Oranges and Red Wine Vinaigrette
Forks & Amusement 2011
serves 10-12

4 cups orzo
4 tablespoons Dijon mustard
4 garlic cloves, finely minced
1/2 cup red wine vinegar
2 tablespoons honey
1/2 cup olive oil
salt and pepper
5 oranges, cut rind completely off and cut into segments, reserving any extra juice (squeeze membranes)
1 small red onion, thinly sliced
6 celery stalks, chopped

Fill a large pot with water and bring to a boil. Cook orzo to package instructions, drain and set aside.

In a large bowl, add the Dijon, garlic, red wine vinegar, and honey. Whisk to combine. Slowly stream in the olive oil while whisking and combine all the ingredients. Add salt and pepper to taste.

Add oranges and juice to the bowl, along with the onion and celery. Toss in the vinaigrette. Add the orzo and toss everything well to coat. Taste and adjust for seasoning. Serve at room temperature.

Make Ahead: Can be made up to 2 days before serving. Toss often and taste to adjust for salt and pepper.



Lazy Texas Brisket with Homemade BBQ Sauce

Some recipes make your entertaining life so easy. My amazing mother has been feeding the masses for as long as I can remember and recipes from her have made my party planning much easier. She has an eye for recipes that can be done in advance and do not need a lot of work once the company has arrived. While the collection is vast and covers all occasions, I gravitate towards this delicious crowd pleaser for casual summer nights. The meat is fool proof and the BBQ sauce is unlike any I have had before, even though it contains classic ingredients. It has a great tang that works great on chicken as well. I always make a double recipe so there is extra for other nights. Served with some rolls and a salad, you will be the star of the night. It can be our little secret that it took so little work.

Lazy Texas Brisket
Bon Appetit, August 1982
12 servings

1 large garlic clove, minced
1 4 to 5 pound beef brisket
1 tablespoon chili powder
1 teaspoon paprika
1 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon ground cumin
1/2 teaspoon dried sage, crumbled
1/2 teaspoon sugar
1/2 teaspoon ground oregano
1/4 teaspoon ground red pepper ( I used flakes)
1/4 a teaspoon freshly ground pepper
Broncbuster's Barbecue Sauce (recipe below)

Preheat oven to 200 degrees. Rub garlic into both sides of brisket. Combine remaining seasonings in a small bowl and mix well. Rub into brisket. Set brisket fat side up on a large piece of foil and wrap tightly. Transfer to shallow roasting pan. Bake until tender, about 8 hours. Serve hot or cold with sauce.

Broncbuster's Barbecue Sauce
Bon Appetit, August 1982
makes 2 cups

2 tablespoons (1/4 stick) butter
1 medium onion, chopped
1/2 cup water
1/2 cup prepared chili sauce
1/2 cup ketchup
1/4 cup apple cider vinegar
2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
2 tablespoons brown sugar
2 tablespoons Worcestershire sauce
1 tablespoon molasses
2 teaspoons salt
2 teaspoons dry mustard
1/2 teaspoon freshly ground pepper
1/2 teaspoon paprika

Melt butter in large skillet over medium low heat. Add onion. Cover and cook until translucent, about 10 minutes, stirring occasionally. Blend in remaining ingredients. Bring sauce to a boil. Reduce heat and simmer gently, uncovered, 30 minutes, stirring occasionally. Serve at room temperature.



Strawberry Glazed Cupcakes

I love shortcuts, especially when it comes to desserts. Since I not much of a baker, anything that can make it easier and fool-proof is great. But, I certainly would never want to take any short cuts that would sacrifice the taste. When I saw this recipe from Giada, I could taste the sweet glaze and was loving the short ingredient list. Glazing is something we usually see on donuts, but may I say that it works just as well these fluffy, incredibly moist cakes. Plus, the pink color and sheen is so pretty and light. In this cupcake-crazy world, it is fun to switch it up and try a new topping. I promise you will love the outcome.

Mascarpone Cupcakes with Strawberry Glaze
Giada's Kitchen by Giada Delaurentiis
makes 48 mini cupcakes or 24 regular sized

8 oz. mascarpone cheese, at room temperature (in dairy case by the cream cheese and ricotta)
2 egg whites
1/4 cup vegetable oil
1 box white cake mix
1/3 cup frozen strawberries, thawed and drained
2 1/2 cups confectioners' sugar

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Line 4 mini muffin tins or 2 regular muffin tins with paper liners.

In a large bowl, combine the mascarpone, egg whites, and vegetable oil. Using a hand mixer, beat the ingredients until combined and creamy. Add the cake mix and 1 cup water and mix until smooth, about 3 minutes. Fill the muffin liners to just below the rim and bake until puffed and golden, 18 to 20 minutes for mini, 23-25 minutes for regular sized. Remove from the oven, let cool slightly in the tins, then transfer the cupcakes to a wire rack to cool completely.

Meanwhile, puree the strawberries in a blender or small food processor. Sift the confectioners' sugar and place in a medium bowl. Pour in the strawberry puree and whisk until smooth. Dip the tops of the cooled cupcakes into the strawberry glaze. Let the cupcakes sit for a few minutes for the glaze to firm up, then serve.



Kale with Feta & Peppers

In an effort to mix up the usual vegetables around here, I bought kale for the first time. It sat in the fridge and stared and me for a few days as I tried to figure out what to do with it. After a long day and a glass of wine, I figured it was time to get after it. The entire recipe came from items I had on hand and although I can say kale is not best tasting vegetable on the planet, it certainly makes up for it by being super nutritious. Cook kale much like you do spinach if you have a favorite recipe. Since I like greens to have tons of flavor I added a lot of spice, but I included substitutes in case you prefer it mild.

Kale with Feta & Peppers
Forks & Amusement 2011
makes 4 sides

1 1/2 tablespoons olive oil
2 cloves garlic, sliced
2 bunches kale, stems cut out, roughly chopped, washed, patted dry
salt and pepper
2 pickled cherry peppers, deseeded and sliced (use roasted red peppers if you don't like the heat)
1/3 cup crumbled feta

In a large skillet, heat the olive oil over medium high heat. Add the garlic and cook 30 seconds, until fragrant (do not burn!). Add the kale and cook, stirring and turning the leaves every minute or so, until cooked down and tender, about 10 minutes. Add salt and pepper to taste and the peppers. Toss to combine and heated through. Transfer to a serving bowl and sprinkle the feta on top.

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