Tri-Colored Orzo Salad Revisited

Tri-Colored Orzo SaladAmy is on vacation this week, so we are pulling up this favorite recipe from our archive. This Tri-Colored Orzo Salad is something we make at least twice a month during hot weather. And, is the perfect accompaniment for grilled food.

This is a favorite salad that Amy says she makes whenever she has a BBQ or just needs an easy, tasty, goes-with-anything side dish. This recipe is adapted from Giada De Laurentiis. Every time she makes it people ask for the recipe.

The key is to use good quality olive oil. Try this tonight with anything grilled and any leftovers are great as a light lunch the next day!

Tri-Colored Orzo Salad
Recipe adapted from Giada De Laurentis and Foodnetwork.com
Yields 4 to 6 servings
Read more…

Blueberry Salsa à la Amy

Blueberry Salsa à la AmySalsa Berry
I admit I am not a big blueberry fan. I don’t dislike blueberries, but they are not my go-to for a berry snack. I have raspberries for that. That being said, we’re getting into blueberry season when they are really good.

When I eat blueberries, most of the time they are in something and cooked like a muffin or pie. And, almost always it is something sweet. Don’t get me wrong, I am a fan of sweet blueberry treats. But, I have been on the hunt for a recipe that is as savory as you can be with a sweet berry—but also doesn’t mess too much with the berry itself. I found salsa…

You can never go wrong with fresh tortilla chips and salsa, no matter what the salsa is made out of. Though some might disagree, a blueberry salsa really isn’t that crazy to me. After all I make salsa out of mangoes all the time. So, I know the sweet will work with the spicy.

There are plenty of versions of blueberry salsa out there if you are looking. A lot of them cook the tomatoes. I don’t. I prefer to dice everything up and keep the fresh flavor. But, it all depends on what flavors you like when eating salsa. It also depends on your tomatoes. If you have fresh tomatoes from your garden, just dice ‘em up. Those babies are gold…

Type of chili pepper is another point of personal preference. I like hot salsa but not super hot salsa. If it’s so hot that I can’t taste anything but the heat, what’s the point? I tend to go with jalapeños, or Fresnos if I want a tad more heat. I also add a little bell pepper because that’s what I do in my mango salsa and if it ain’t broke don’t fix it.

Give this recipe a try next time you have some really great blueberries and want a snack, And, if you find this rolls into being your dinner, I won’t tell…

Blueberry Salsa à la Amy
Yields 6 to 8 servings Read more…

Smokey Blackberry Barbecue Sauce

Smokey Blackberry Barbecue SauceVery Berry BBQ
I have a reservation this weekend to go berry picking—and I am very excited. There is a chance that the berries: a.) won’t be ripe or b.) might be all gone by the time I get there.
I’m keeping a positive attitude while crossing my fingers.

U-pick is one of my favorite things about this time of year. It starts with berries and cherries and moves into peaches and nectarines. I look forward to this every year starting January first. Since I didn’t get to go last year for obvious reasons, the anticipation has been killin’ me. But, I know this time it will be that much sweeter. (See what I did there?)

The last u-pick haul I had was 10 pounds of blackberries. This sounds like a lot, but once you cook ‘em down for jam and make a pie, there’s not much left over. If the stars align, I am planning to get at least that much again and maybe a bit more. Because I really want to make this sauce for Memorial Day.

I love the combination of sweet fruits and pork and there is no better showcase than pork ribs. My Cherry Cola Ribs are a family favorite. And, they are a perfect example of what I am talking about. Juicy tender ribs covered in a spicy sweet glaze. It just doesn’t get much better. (Unless there’s cake or pie…all bets are off at that point!)

I have tried other rib sauces and glazes that had raspberry or blackberry in them and I have always loved the combination. So, I am going to set aside some of this weekends blackberry harvest and cook up some of this spicy berry awesomeness.

Smokey Blackberry Barbecue Sauce Recipe
Yields enough sauce for about 4 pounds of pork spare ribs plus extra
Adapted from Food & Wine

We are using this sauce on pork spareribs, and it is also delicious on grilled pork, baby back ribs, and chicken. The smoky flavor comes from the grilled berries and also the chipotle chiles packed in adobo. Read more…

Melon Seed Horchata

Horchata de Melon RecipeThe Pecking Order
I knew when I planted my garden this year I was probably just starting the next campaign in the war for supremacy over my chicken. But, I was hoping it wouldn’t come to that. Alas, my hopes were dashed. Let me explain…

Anytime we plant in the garden—be it fruits, vegetables, or flowers—we have to figure out how best to keep our remaining chicken from eating everything. Turtle, the chicken named for the ruff of feathers around her neck, is the last remaining member of our flock. She has survived numerous racoon and neighborhood dog attacks. She methodically took out a few of her own personal rivals during her meteoric rise to the top of the pecking order…to the point that she is now the lone survivor. With people though, she is skittish but sweet and will squat down in front of you to get some petting attention. Turtle is actually fun to have around, until she tries to eat my tomatoes. Things get real when she goes after my tomatoes.

The last time we had a big garden, Turtle took out everything. Not just the veggies on the vine, but the vines themselves. So this year, we planted everything in an area she can’t get to. And, so far so good.

However, over the weekend I planted my melon patch. The melon patch is the only area that is in the chicken hazard zone and I had not yet figured out how I was going to chicken-proof it. Sure enough, not quite an hour after planting my cantaloupes and watermelons, there she is taking a dirt bath in the turned-over soil after having pecked at the leaves of the plants themselves. I was livid. Mostly at myself for believing I could actually grow a garden without her interference this year. Thankfully, we had some extra chicken wire hanging around and managed to make a temporary solution to keep her away.

The good news is that I think the plants will survive. I am looking forward to sweet melons this summer—especially for the recipe below. It’s the perfect way to use the seeds that would normally be thrown away. And, since it is Cinco de Mayo and the melons in the market are actually getting better, it is a great option for tonight’s fiesta. The recipe is from the book The Essential Cuisine of Mexico by Diana Kennedy. It’s a must have for your Mexican cooking library…

Melon Seed Horchata Recipe
Adapted from The Essential Cuisine of Mexico by Diana Kennedy
Yields one serving

This is a great way to use the seeds of a cantaloupe—a part you would normally be discarding. And, it makes a tasty and refreshing drink.

Read more…