Wednesday, May 25, 2011

Got All Your Barbecue Fixins? ... "ORZO" You Thought


The warmer weather is upon us.  That means one thing in my neck of the woods ... BARBECUES!!!  But who says that you have to stick to the old standards when it comes to grillin' and chillin' for your friends and family?  No matter what you plan to grill on the barbie mate, you will be remiss if you don't add my Show Stoppin' Orzo Salad to your picnic table.  So simple to prepare, easily made in bulk quantities, stores beautifully (yay leftovers!), and it's just plain delectable.  I make this weekly in my household in the Summer months and often send guests home with extra servings or, at a minimum, my tried and true recipe for this refreshing dish.  This salad makes any barbecue "upscale" and will leave them coming back for more.  For the working women and busy moms out there, you can feel good knowing that this salad is made from healthy ingredients and can even be served as a side dish to any dinner you make during the week.  A delicious time saving classic which packs a punch in both flavor and texture!!  I'd be honored if you serve this at your upcoming holiday barbecue or bring it to one that you're headed to.  Enjoy!

1 lb. orzo, cooked al dente, drained and cooled
½ cup extra virgin olive oil
3 tbsp. fresh lemon juice  (I use the juice of at least 3 lemons plus a little more)
Feta Cheese (crumbled)
3 or 4 scallions, freshly chopped
Red seedless grapes (cut in half if they are big)
Pine/pignoli nuts (1 bag), toasted
Salt and pepper to taste (preferably kosher or sea salt)

- Whisk together the olive oil, lemon juice and salt and pepper to taste salt.
- Toast the pine/pignoli nuts in a sauté pan over medium high heat.  Keep shaking the pan or the nuts will burn or throw the pan in the oven under the broiler – watch carefully so they do not burn!!
Put the cooked, cooled orzo in large bowl; add cheese, scallions, grapes and pine nuts.  Mix together. 
Pour whisked olive oil/lemon juice mixture over the orzo.  Mix together and refrigerate.

NOTE:  I do not put all the olive oil/lemon juice mixture on top of the orzo all at once.  I usually make this one or two nights before I’m going to use it so I pour ½ the oil/lemon juice mixture on the orzo and then refrigerate.  In the morning I re-mix the orzo salad once more and add as much of the oil/lemon juice mixture to the orzo salad as needed, mix together and serve. 

SUGGESTION: This salad is also great with a protein added as well as shredded carrots and chopped mint for an extra POP of color and flavor!

Real Meals for the Working Woman

Thursday, May 12, 2011

Can't "Peel" Them Away From This Banana Bread

Chocolate Indulgence Banana Bread

More and more people have been asking for me to post my recipe for my Chocolate Indulgence Banana Bread.  I won't try to put a healthy spin on this folks ... It's dessert ... It's decadent ... It's amazing.  This banana bread recipe will be the last one you'll ever turn to.  This rich bread is made from only the best, quality ingredients and comes out moist, flavorful and aromatic every time.  The Dutch Cocoa and really ripe bananas truly make this dish.  I'll be honest ... this bread looks a little plain and disarming on a serving plate sitting next to cakes and brownies, but I promise you, it WILL be the talk of your next party. 

Down 35 pounds now, I confess that I have to bake it while chewing gum to make sure I don't lick the bowl or "sample" it along the way.  For the working woman or busy mom out theremy Chocolate Indulgence Banana Bread can be made quickly, the recipe can easily be made in bulk quantities, freezes perfectly and can be defrosted slice by slice during the week for those in your household who shall remain nameless who just gotta satisfy that ever aching sweet tooth.  Oh, and coupled with a scoop of ice cream, it's just plain magic.  Enjoy!      

½ cup butter
1 cup sugar
1 egg
1 ½ cups flour
1 tsp baking soda
1 tsp salt
1 tsp baking powder
1 tbsp Dutch Cocoa*
3 or more ripe (I like them dead) bananas
1 tsp Pure Vanilla Extract
1 tbsp Banana Liquor
1 cup or more good semisweet chocolate, coarsely chopped

- Preheat oven to 350 degrees.  Butter and flour a large loaf pan or two. 
- In a large bowl, cream the butter and sugar. (I like to split the sugar as half brown sugar, half white sugar). 
- Once creamy, add in eggs until fluffy. 
- In a separate bowl, sift all dry ingredients.
- In a third bowl, mash bananas and mix in extract and liquor.  Add the dry ingredients and the bananas, alternating in thirds and ending with the bananas. 
- Add in chocolate (I use Ghirardelli chocolate and typically add in more than the recipe!). 
- Bake in oven 1 hour or until a toothpick comes out relatively clean.  Do not overcook this bread.  Best that it stays moist.  Cool on a rack, wrap in cellophane and refrigerate. 

Real Meals (ahem ... Desserts) for the Working Woman