Monday, August 20, 2012

Cool Like a Cucumber or Watermelon...

Summer is only time of year we think watermelon unless you are craving a big chunk of Bubbalicious gum or the watermelon flavored Jolly Rancher.  I am not a hug fan of the big red and green striped fruit.  It just tastes wet to me and then you have to work when you eat it picking out the seeds and making sure to to bite too far down to the rind.  Too much work and no flavor.

So much to my disappointment my sister-in-law recently brought a watermelon to my family gathering.  The gathering went well but the watermelon got left behind.  So there it sits on the counter everyday begging to be cut into chunks or slices because what else do you do with it?!?
I think there has to be something else I can do with this big fruit to make it better, less traditional.

I got it salsa!  Odd as it may sound it was different in a whole new, complex, fresh and crisp way.  The watermelon was transformed from the dessert at the backyard BBQ to an upscale dinner delight.  I decided to serve it with grilled shrimp and rice for a complete summer meal - it was so delicious we ate all of the shrimp before I could take a picture of the complete dish!  Enjoy...

Not Too Watery-Melon Salsa

2 Cups Watermelon (cubed and seeds removed)
1/2 Cup Cucumber (cubed)
1/4 Red Onion (diced)
Jalapeno Pepper (diced)
1 Tablespoon Mint and Basil (julienned)
2 Tablespoons Honey
1 Lime Zested
1 Teaspoon Lime Juice (reserve the remaining juice for the rice)
1 Tablespoon Fresh Ground Black Pepper

In a medium size bowl add add ingredients and toss gently
Place in refrigerator for 1 hour

1 lb. Peeled and Cleaned Shrimp
Lemon Pepper
Vegetable Oil
5-6 Wood Skewers (soaked in water for 10 minutes)

Evenly thread shrimp onto soaked skewers
Season generously with lemon pepper
Coat with vegetable oil
Grill for 5-7 minutes or until shrimp turn pink
Remove from grill and cool for a few minutes

Lime Rice 
2 Cups of Instant Rice
Remaining Lime Juice From Salsa
2 Tablespoons Olive Oil

Prepare rice according to package directions
Once rice is done cooking add the remaining lime juice from the salsa
Season with salt/pepper and olive oil
Mix well

Assemble The Dish
1 large scoop of rice per person
Hearty scoop of salsa
Top with desired amount of grilled shrimp

Great with a Margarita!

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Monday, August 13, 2012

A Seed of Knowledge...

Monday morning fact...Quinoa is a seed!  Interesting isn't it.  Besides being a seed, it is gluten free, cholesterol free, and it is the highest protein packed whole grain.  It is healthy and extremely delicious.  A great main course, side dish and quinoa can be used as a filling for tomatoes and peppers.  It cooks quickly and takes on the flavors you add to it.   With all of this new found knowledge add quinoa to your shopping list (it can be found in the aisle with the rice and usually comes in a small bag) this week and try out this recipe for starters.  Trust me you are going to love the taste and texture of this super seed!  Enjoy...

1/2 Bag Quinoa
Salt/ Pepper
3 Tablespoons Extra Virgin Olive Oil (more if needed)
Zest of 1 Lemon
Juice of 1/2 Lemon
6-8 Basil Leaves (julienned)

Cook quinoa according to directions on the package
Remove from heat and season with salt/ pepper
Add olive oil
Mix gently
Stir in lemon zest and lemon juice
Gently stir in basil
Serve Warm

***It is a great compliment to grilled fish or chicken for a complete meal!

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Thursday, August 9, 2012

The Great Garden State Sandwich...

On our patch of land in this great garden state of New Jersey we have got the most beautiful, yes beautiful, vegetables ever this year.  I am not sure if it the contraption my husband built in the garden for the tomatoes, the plants we purchased at a local farm market or the time of the year we planted but I am not questioning the bounty of the harvest this year.  The tomatoes are perfect, sweet, red and juicy.  The peppers are green, crisp and delicious.  The cucumbers are multiplying by the day right next to the ripe purple eggplant which sit nicely next to the celery which is the new star of the show in my macaroni salad.

To see the garden flourish is a work of art all thanks to my husband.  I do nothing in the garden but hold the bowl filled with the vegetables and complain that its hot outside.  My work starts after they are picked from the vine.  No chemicals, small imperfections and the occasionally bug in the kitchen sink excite me because I know something delicious going to be made from these veggies.

My latest sandwich is the Great Garden State which the perfect meal for lunch or dinner...Enjoy

The Great Garden State Sandwich
1 Large Eggplant (sliced into medium size rounds)
1 Large Onion (sliced)
20 Cherry Tomatoes
Olive Oil
Lemon Pepper
Ciabatta Rolls
Part Skim Mozzarella Cheese
4 Basil Leaves (per sandwich)

Preheat oven to 350 degrees
Toss the eggplant, onions and tomatoes with enough olive oil to coat
Generously season with salt and lemon pepper
Place in oven for 50 minutes
***Turn veggies over half way through cooking

Remove veggies from oven a cool slightly
In the meanwhile slice the rolls open and lightly toast

Assemble the sandwich
On one side of the bread place two slices of eggplant
Top with a slightly generous portion of onions and tomatoes
On the other side of the bread place two thin slices of mozzarella cheese and 4 basil leaves
Season with a little grind of salt
Close sandwich and cut in half

Alternatively the veggies can be cooked on the grill for a different great flavor!

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