Monday, April 22, 2013

BFF Curry-licious Orzo

Wild, wild, wild. That word best describes the events of the past two weeks! I have been a wild woman running with a candle lit on both ends. I will post pictures soon of my adventures but I am so glad that the weather is finally taking a change for the better so that I can start making some of my favorite spring and summer time treats. Something doesn't feel right about cooking up pasta salads in the snow.
I have been a fan of Barefoot Contessa for a while now. For years, the salesman and I didn't have cable in our house, funny since I worked for a cable company. When I had my first muffin I caught my first real glimpse of Ina while working as a nanny. I was immediately drawn to her down home, no fuss meals. They are the sort of meals I strive to make. I enjoy her simplistic take on true favorites. I have several of her books and I have them memorized by which of my favorites are in each book. One of my favorite recipes of hers is her Curried Couscous found in the Barefoot Contessa Cookbook. I love the textures involved and the simple yet sophisticated spices. I have made a few changes to the recipe over the years to suit my own tastes but keep many of the same measurements as the original. She is definitely one of those gals who I just know we will be best friends forever when we finally meet.

Brooke's Barefoot Orzo

1, 8oz box orzo pasta cooked al dente in heavily salted water
1, small container plain Greek yogurt (about a 5 oz size or 1/4 cup)
Olive Oil
1 1/2 cap fulls of apple cider vinegar
1 1/2 tsp salt
1/2 tsp turmeric
1 1/4 tsp curry
1/4 tsp cayenne
1 Tbsp agave nectar or honey
1 Tbsp brown sugar
1/2 tsp fresh ground black pepper
Add ins:
1/2 cup craisins
1/2 -2/3 cup chopped apricots
3 diced green onions
3-4 carrots, grated
1/2 cup sliced almonds
1/2 cup fresh Italian parsley, chopped

Drain the cooked pasta. Throw in the add ins.

For the sauce, pour almost the whole container of greek yogurt  (minus a spoonful bite) or the 1/4 cup into a bowl. Fill the yogurt cup about half way up with olive oil (or 1/3 cup). Add in remaining sauce ingredients and taste to make sure it is sweet and salty enough. Pour the majority of sauce into the pasta/veggie bowl, but I typically leave out a tablespoon or two so that it is not soupy. Stir and serve immediately at room temp or chill and bring to room temp before serving.
This is great made the day ahead and is perfect for grilled chicken and veggies.

Enjoy Y'all!

Tuesday, April 9, 2013

As Good As It Gets- Smokey BBQ Brisket

There are sometimes in life that I take for granted that I come from a long line of good cooks. I mean, a long line. I could probably write down 100+ recipes just from my mom's side of the family. Recipes like Nana's fried pies and chocolate pudding, my great grandmothers German cookies that we use to make every Christmas eve growing up, my Aunts delicious sugar cookies and on and on. Several years ago my sister compiled a few of her favorite recipes and a few from our family and passed out mini cookbooks for Christmas. I have many of the pages so stained with oil and flour, pages like her pizza dough and pumpkin bread, that I have a hard time reading them. There are so many treasures in that tiny book that it would be on my list of top ten things to grab in case of a house fire. One of the recipes in this treasure came from our Great Aunt. I, like my sister, took way too long to cook this recipe. I grew up in "Where's the Beef?" country so I was very familiar how glorious brisket could be. Brisket is a staple on all Texas tables but at this stage in my life I don't have the time to sit around a smoker for 15 hours and entertain like we use to do growing up. This recipe is perfect for those who love the smokey goodness of a beautiful brisket with a fraction of the work. I like to pop this baby in my crock pot and let it cook overnight so that I wake up to the smell of heaven in my kitchen.
Before you start there are a couple of things you should know.
1. Don't change a thing on this recipe. Trust me.
2. Double wrap the brisket in foil if cooking in a crock pot and don't add any water as it will make it's own juice.
3. The addition of the BBQ sauce is optional. I typically don't add it at all.

Aunt LaVera's Smokey Brisket

1 Tbsp liquid smoke
1 tsp garlic salt
1/2 tsp salt
2 tsp ground black pepper
2 Tbsp soy sauce
1 tsp onion salt
2 tsp Celery Seed
2 tsp Worcestershire Sauce
1, 3-4 pound beef brisket trimmed

1. Mix all of the above ingredients into a bowl and pour over your brisket. Be sure you rub it in a bit. Wrap it up and 2 layers of foil and marinate 3-4 hours or overnight.
2. Bake at 300 degrees for 3-3 1/2 hours wrapped in foil or place in a crock pot on low and bake 8-10 hours.  If you want to coat it in BBQ Sauce, open the foil, spread 1 cup of your favorite sauce on the brisket, wrap it back up and continue to cook for 1 hour.

This is great sliced and served with a baked potato or on a bun, chopped up for tacos or shoved in a quesadilla. It reaheats great so it is perfect to make the day before. If you have a smoker and the time this is a great marinate. Just let it soak everything up the night before you are smoking then throw it on your grill.

Enjoy Y'all!