Watermelon Basil Salad

It’s hot outside. Like pierce-you-to-your-very-bones hot. The heat is intense, and it seems like it takes forever to cool down…even once you’re safe inside. Plus, I’m super tired of walking into work at 8:00am looking like I just ran a half-marathon. But just when I think summers in Texas are the worst…I smell watermelon. Freshly cut watermelon has amazing redemptive powers. One smell and “summer” is no longer a dirty word. Summer becomes this glistening season, filled with long sunny days and incredibly sweet delicious foods. So wonderfully cool and refreshing, I forget how much I hate this crazy 100-degree weather.

In honor of all that is refreshing about summer:

Watermelon Basil Salad

Ingredients

6 cups cubed watermelon
2 tablespoons coarsely chopped fresh basil (approx. 3 large leaves)
½  cup crumbled feta
¼ cup lime-fleshly squeezed
1 teaspoon olive oil
1 teaspoon balsamic vinegar (optional)

Directions

  1. Combine watermelon, feta cheese, and basil in a large bowl.
  2. Add lime juice and olive oil over the watermelon mixture and toss gently to coat.
  3. Drizzle with balsamic vinegar and serve immediately.
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Stars and Strips: Here’s Wishing You a Beautiful Holiday

Happy 4th of July!

Pic from: minkette.com

Akim and I are headed out  to Lake Lewisville to enjoy some sun, swimming, and {my favorite) fireworks!  I absolutely love how fireworks are always awe-inspiring and beautiful. Whether you watch them from the top of your roof, catch them from the side of the road, or stare up at sky while drifting on the water, there is really something magical about them. We hope your day is filled with special American-loving moments!

Roasted Okra – An Incredible Finger Food

Okra is one of those quintessential southern foods…9 out of 10 people* recognize it only in its natural state…Fried! Previously, I had eaten okra only when it has been buried deep in a warm crispy breaded blanket. BUT when we got fresh okra this past weekend, I decided to prepare it an alternative way. Roasted. Roasted vegetables are amazing. They always seem to turn out well, even if you leave them in the oven a little too long. Seasonings don’t need to be exact…roasting just makes all the flavors magically work together. Pretty awesome.

*fake statistic

Roasted Okra
Recipe adapted from NY Times

Ingredients:

4 cups whole okra
1-2 tablespoons olive oil (enough to lightly coat)
Salt and freshly ground black pepper, to taste
Garam Masala (optional)

  1. Preheat the oven to 450 F.
  2. After rinsing and drying, trim off the tops
  3. In a mixing bowl, toss the okra with the olive oil, salt, and pepper.
  4. Spread out on baking sheet. {If you have garam masala, sprinkle lightly across the okra.  The taste  is incredible!}
  5. Cook for about 20 minutes or until they look slightly brown and crisp. Make sure to stir half way through.
  6. Serve hot, fresh out of the oven.

Peach Oatmeal Crumble + Ingredient Spotlight

My mom asked me to make a dessert this past weekend for father’s day, and since I had just received a batch of fresh peaches from our co-op, I decided to put them to use in a delicious peach crumble. I am not attempting to promote this dish as a weight loss meal or “health treat”, but if you need/ desire a dessert that you can bring to any event…why not make one with fresh fruits and whole grains?

This dessert was the perfect companion to a summertime family gathering. There was only one small serving left, and it made a fantastic breakfast the next day.

 

Peach Oatmeal Crumble

Ingredients:
Filling

10 small-to-medium peaches- chopped
1 Tablespoon (T) cinnamon
1 T vanilla extract
2 T whole wheat flour
2 T {turbinado} sugar

Topping
½ c whole wheat flour
½ c all purpose flour
1 c rolled oats (not quick cooking)
1 ¾ c {turbinado} sugar
½ teaspoon salt
1T cinnamon
½ c plus 2T butter (a little more than 1 stick) at room temperature
1T vanilla extract

Serves 8

Method:

1.   Set out the butter 30 minutes in advance. Pre-heat the oven to 350 degrees.
2.   Toss all of the filling ingredients together in a 9×13 glass baking dish. Spread peach mixture evenly
across the bottom of the dish.
3.   In medium bowl, combine all of the dry topping ingredients. Cut in butter with pastry blender or mix ¼ inch chips of butter with a fork. Mix until topping resembles coarse cornmeal. Stir in vanilla extract.
4.  Spread topping evenly across the peaches.
5.  Bake for 30-35 minutes until the top looks golden and crisp.
6.  Serve warm with or without vanilla ice cream.

Ingredient Spotlight: I used turbinado sugar (a/k/a natural brown sugar, raw sugar, or demerara sugar). If you don’t have access to turbinado sugar, you can substitute with regular brown sugar. BUT, here’s why turbinado sugar is a good option for baked goods:

Turbinado sugar is not as processed as conventional sugars. It is a result of the first pressing of sugar cane, so it still contains quite a bit of sugar cane’s natural byproduct, which is molasses. This natural brown sugar contains small amounts of vital nutrients, such as potassium, iron, calcium and magnesium. White sugar, on the other hand, consists completely of sucrose (dreaded empty calories). Turbinado also has a fraction of the calories that white sugar contains, containing 11 to 20 calories per teaspoon, while white sugar has a whopping 45 calories found in a tablespoon of white sugar. There are also no chemicals used in processing, and so the minimal refining process leaves it as pure as one can possibly get without chewing on the sugar cane raw.

All of this makes turbinado a nice alternative to regular sugar, but remember, at the end of the day, it is still sugar…so don’t go crazy with it!!

It’s Worth the Extra Look

A small part of me feels that I should be posting a fabulous recipe for homemade pizza dough, but the reality is…I have never made my own dough. Don’t get me wrong- I want to, and I certainly plan on it.  Just hasn’t happened yet. And here is bit more reality: when I walk in the door at 7:00pm after being on the go from 7:00am, I am just proud that we are making pizza topped with fresh ingredients and not speed dialing delivery.

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