Friday, September 6, 2013

September 6, 2013

What a week!  We hosted a fabulous Labor Day BBQ with friends, and it was an amazing time.  Given that our group was about 30 people, I didn't want Ryan standing over the grill all afternoon (and I didn't think we had room to cook for that many), so I suggested we go the route of really good pulled pork.  Ryan agreed, and we did it.  I used a recipe that I made and posted back in 2011, but really upped the size of the roast.  We used an almost 10 lb bone-in pork shoulder, and though it took a long time, the results were fantastic!  I put it in at 9pm the night before the party, it was cooked to the desired temperature by about 1:30ish the next afternoon, and then we shredded it around 5pm.  Although I could be biased (since I made it) it was some really gosh darn good pulled pork!!!  After dinner one of the dessert offerings was a new recipe - cookies and cream fudge.  It got rave reviews, and one friend said he was was going to request it for his birthday instead of cake!

Prior to dinner I put out the corn avocado salsa that I learned from one of my sisters.  What a hit that was  - with the adults and kids alike!  You have to make this if you get a chance!  When I decided to make it I realized I could use some of my homemade black beans that I portion out and keep in the freezer - it was so nice to have one less ingredient to add to my grocery list.

I suppose it is only fitting that after we celebrated Labor Day, the unofficial end of summer, later in the week I made apple cinnamon oatmeal.  Talk about a fall, even winter-y, breakfast. It needs some tweaking, but the kids thought it was pretty good.  I need to work on it to make it a full blown keeper.  But to flip the seasonal table again we made a brown rice salad that tasted like summer.  Such bright flavors, lime, cilantro, tomato... it was as if August was turned into a side dish and placed on my dinner table.  It was a light and fresh side dish, and if you swapped the rice for quinoa, you could use this more as a vegetarian main dish.  Or add some cooked diced chicken to the salad and have an easy, and portable, summer main dish.  Give it a try if you have a chance.  One friend that tried it has never found a brown rice dish she liked...but she loved this!

Both the rice salad and the oatmeal were recipes from the same group of folks.  The rice salad was from a Cook's Illustrated issue and the oatmeal was from an episode of America's Test Kitchen.  status.  The brown rice salad earned keeper status this week, and I am hoping that the oatmeal will make it to keeper soon!  The fudge recipe found me via an email blast from Nestle.  From the rave reviews it got at our BBQ, I think it has earned keeper status as well!

Happy Cooking!

New Recipes
Brown Rice Salad
Cookies and Cream Fudge

Cookies and Cream Fudge

* 3 cups granulated sugar
* 3/4 cup butter
* 5 oz can evaporated milk (I used 2%)
* 1 package white chocolate chips
* 7 oz jar marshmallow cream
* 1 2/3 cup finely crushed chocolate cream cookies, divided
* 1 tsp vanilla extract

1. Line a 9 x 13 pan with foil. 
2. Combine the sugar, butter and milk in a medium sized, heavy bottomed sauce pan.  Bring to  a full boil, then stir constantly for 3 minutes.  Remove from the heat.
3. Mix in the white chocolate chips, marshmallow cream, and 1 cup of the cookie crumbs.  Pour in the pan.  Sprinkle the remaining 2/3 cup of crumbs on the top of the fudge.
4. Refrigerate for at least an hour or until cool.  Remove the fudge and foil from the pan,cut into small squares.  Keep leftovers in the fridge.

The original recipe calls for bigger pieces of cookies on the top, but I found it easier to just process all the cookies at the same time and use some in the fudge and some on top, rather then making some super fine crumbs and some cookie pieces.  But, you can do it however you'd like!

Brown Rice Salad

* 1 1/2 cup long grain brown rice
* 2 tsp salt
* 2 tsp lime juice
* 2 1/2 tbsp olive oil
* 2 tsp honey
* 2 garlic cloves, minced (or grated)
* 1 tsp grated lime zest
* juice of a lime (at least 2 tbsp)
* 1/2 tsp ground cumin
* 1/2 tsp salt
* 1/2 tsp pepper
* 1 cup of diced sweet peppers (red, yellow, green, orange)
* 1 cup tomatoes, chopped
* 1 avocado, halved, pitted and cut into small pieces
* 1 jalapeno chile, stemmed, seeded and minced
* 5 scallions, sliced thin
* 1/4 cup fresh cilantro, minced

1. To make the rice, bring 3 quarts of water to boil in a large pot.  Add the rice and the 2 tsp salt.  Cook, stirring occasionally until the rice is tender, about 27-30 minutes.  Drain the rice, then spread it out on a parchment lined baking sheet.  Drizzle the rice with 2 tsp of lime juice and then let it cool completely which should be about 15 minutes.
2. To make the vinaigrette, whisk together the olive oil, honey, garlic, lime zest, juice of one lime, cumin, salt and pepper.
3. Transfer the cooled rice to a large bowl.  Add the peppers, tomatoes, avocado, jalapeno and vinaigrette and mix well to combine.  Let is stand for 10 minutes.
4. Mix in the scallions and cilantro.  If desired, season with additional salt and pepper to taste.  Serve at room temperature, or chill and serve cold.

This was great!!! Such bright flavors - very summery tasting!  I made this but served the tomatoes and avocado separately to meet the needs my family. Some of us love one but not the other, some don't like either.   Just easiest with a salad like this to put it together with all the communal ingredients and then pass the additional ones for people to include if desired.  Just a  note - for me, I liked the rice texture at 30 minutes, so begin to taste it at 27 minutes and see if you feel the rice is done.  If not, add a few minutes of additional time.

I shared this with a few friends, including a vegetarian, and they also loved it!  We agreed that you could swap the rice for quinoa and probably it would be a great dish as well. Give this salad a try soon!  And if you have leftovers and are having it the next day or so, refresh it with a little more fresh lime juice.  This will bring the salad back to life and won't weigh it down with additional olive oil.  Enjoy!