Easy Watermelon Cooler

Refreshing

Refreshing


I was cutting up a watermelon tonight and was left with a pool of juicy looking pulp sitting in the rind. Rather than pick it up and drink it down, a light bulb popped. Watermelon cooler.

I grabbed a spoon and started scraping. Of course you could do this with chunks of watermelon but I got kinda excited that I found a use for something I would have just tossed in the compost. Then I gathered a lemon, a bit of white wine (I used a table white but Prosecco would be good too) and some ice. Easy breezy like summer. What resulted was a refreshing, crisp drink with a hint of natural sweetness cut a bit by the lemon.

Ingredients:
– Dry White Wine or Prosecco (I used a table white that was 80% Sauvignon Blanc/20% Chardonnay)
– Watermelon leftovers
– Ice
– Lemon

Watermelon Leftovers

Watermelon Leftovers


To Make:
– Take the spoon and scrape down the rind, making as much pulpy juice as possible.
– Fill a glass with ice.
– Fill the glass half way with watermelon juice and pulp.
– Then fill with wine.
– Cut some lemons, squeeze one small piece into the drink and stir. Then drop a couple slices of lemon on top.

Find a porch, kick back, and sip.

Take-Out Box Thank You “Cards”

Unbelievably, the last day of school jumped on us out of nowhere. I know everyone says it… time flies, it all goes by so fast, etc, etc. But Kindergarten was warp speed ahead. Snip-snap, this year is done.

Sharpies!

Sharpies!


Jack was officially “promoted” to 1st grade today and, since we’ve been spinning in end of school activities, we kept it pretty simple in the thank you department. We made some cookies in custom decorated Chinese take-out cartons for his Kindergarten teacher and his after-school care teachers.

I picked up these blank Chinese take-out cartons at the party store for less than a buck. Rather than make thank you cards, we did it directly on the take-out boxes themselves. Jack was all over the box art, I was on cookie baking duty, everyone participated in cookie eating.

We kept it simple, some Sharpies and some imagination…

Jack's school mascot is the owls.

Jack’s school mascot is the owls.


Nature Scene

Nature Scene


color explosion

color explosion

frog study

frog study

                                                                    

Buerre & Sel Jammers

Buerre & Sel Jammers


RECIPE
We filled the boxes with one of our favorite cookies: Buerre and Sel Jammers (Bon Appetit). With “butter” in the recipe’s title, how can one go wrong?

Baking Machines

Baking Machines


Are they done yet?

Are they done yet?

Teriyaki Burger with Grilled Onions & Pineapple

Today I was really craving a burger. Strange because I don’t really like hamburgers. The idea of all those cows mushed together kinda grosses me out. But tonight, I went with it for the sake of the Make Stuff Up Challenge.

I also had this very juicy pineapple that was so ripe I could smell it when I came in the front door. For those of you loyal few readers out there, you’ll remember I recently grilled pineapple for the first time and loved it (Grilled Chicken & Pineapple Pizza) so it seemed obvious what to make…

Grilled Teriyaki Pineapple Burger

Grilled Teriyaki Pineapple Burger


Teriyaki Burger with Grilled Onions & Pineapple
Hamburger:
– 1lb of Organic hamburger meat (helps me feel slightly less grossed out about the cow thing)
– 1 egg (kindof a misstep, see wrap up below)
– 3/4 cup Panko breadcrumbs (misstep too?)
– 2 TBSP Soy Vay Teriyaki sauce
– small amount of salt and pepper

Mash all of this together with your hands and then form patties. Grill on high heat for about 7 mins per side. Put cheese on a few minutes before they are done.

Toppings:
– Sweet Onion: sliced, doused with a little olive oil & salt, grilled for 15 mins per side
– Pineapple: Sliced, sprinkled on both sides with Ancho Chili powder and salt, grilled for 15 mins per side.
– White Cheddar because that’s what I had, I would have preferred Swiss
– Mayonnaise

Bread:
– Grilled Pugliese

Once everything is grilled stack it all together and eat while it’s hot. Oh, cut the core out of the pineapples, makes it a little easier to eat. Also, the teriyaki sauce is IN the burger not ON the burger which I liked better for the more subtle taste and less gloppy burger.

grilled stuff

grilled stuff

WRAP UP:
Hmm, to egg or not to egg? Again, I am not really a hamburger kinda person so it was a bit of a guessing game. I did a little internet research prior to making the burger and THE juiciest burger claimed to have both egg and breadcrumbs. It did leave the burger very juicy but also a little mushy and too meatball-ish in texture. Maybe if I had cut both the egg and breadcrumb amounts in half it would have been better. Or maybe left it out entirely. An experiment for another day, likely months from now, when I want another burger.

Crazy Calzones (aka: Kitchen Sink Calzones)

Not going to candy coat it, a daily creative challenge was a lofty goal. I mean, some days are just not made for making.

I thought today was one of those days, I really wasn’t planning on making anything more than a standard cheese and pepperoni pizza. Nothing to blog about really, especially since I already hit the grilled pizza topic. Then I found myself with a small ball of left over dough. In the past I might have made it into a mini-pizza, or just tossed it, but this creative challenge is working! Today a neon question mark popped above my head, “What should I do with this?” and just like that nothing became something. Not an earth-shattering something… but something.

Elise named it: Crazy Calzones…
…because we put whatever crazy stuff we could find in it. I think it’s also fitting to call them Kitchen Sink Calzones because of that idiom “throw everything in but the kitchen sink” but either way the point is gather up whatever is sitting unused in your fridge and throw it in some dough with some cheese and pizza sauce.

She embellished a bit in the video, we didn’t really put strawberries in ours, though she’s mostly accurate on the other ingredients. We used pizza sauce, shredded fontina, turkey meat, avocado, and corn because that’s what we had. The point here is creative reuse not fine italian cuisine.

HOW TO MAKE
Ingredients:
– Trader Joe’s pre-made pizza dough (found near the cheese area of the store)
– That nearly empty jar of pasta sauce sitting in your fridge
– Whatever cheese you need to use up
– Random ingredients from your fridge and pantry

Preheat the oven to 450. Cut the dough ball into 4 mini-doughballs. Because my dough was leftover from making a pizza, I only made one small calzone but it would be even more fun to have everyone take a mini-doughball and concoct their own creation out of weird ingredients and see who’s tastes best.

Rolling out the dough

Rolling out the dough

Roll out the mini-dough on a floured surface. I think a rolling pin is best rather than hand-shaping these so that the dough is even, otherwise it’s a little hard to fold. Also, if you don’t have a rolling pin you could use a large can or pint glass.

Once the dough is rolled out, take a fork and poke little holes all over the dough. Kids love this part!

we're curious how this avocado will taste.

we’re curious how this avocado will taste.

Next spread some sauce in the middle, not too close to the edge. Sprinkle some cheese over the sauce. Then pile in your ingredients.

Fold one side over the ingredients to make a half-circle. Then pinch together the dough to make a tight seal. This prevents the ingredients from oozing out while it cooks.

Brush with some olive oil and bake at 450 for 15-ish mins.

Finished Calzone

Finished Calzone

Inside crazy

Inside crazy

This was not a mind-blowing meal. It was decent. What I liked most about it was the concept. It opens up endless options to reuse leftovers in a creative, easy way. For example, throw a bunch of leftover BBQ steak and grilled veggies in with some cheese or all those veggie remains towards the end of the week with some pesto and cheese.

Or just go for it, through the weirdest crap you can find sitting on your shelves. Just don’t forget to tell me how it went.

DAY 12: A Really F-ing Good Tri-Tip Sandwich

For years now I’ve had this work-fantasy of dropping the rat race and being a mail carrier or owning a sandwich shop.

The mail carrier seems obvious, right? Seriously, get paid to walk around all day in the beautiful California weather, listening to your earphones, leaving your work at work?

Then there’s the sandwich shop thing. If I won a significant chunk of money, not enough to retire but enough to take a career risk, I would open a sandwich shop. It would probably also have beer and wine, coffee, art shows, bands, sell cool gifts, have a kick ass patio, etc, etc. (yes, this is really like five business dreams wrapped in one but let’s just roll with it.) So basically a place serving great sandwiches where you might also like to hang out.

Tonight I think I made up a sandwich worthy of my pretend establishment…

TRI-TIP, ARUGULA, GRILLED ONION, “GREEN SAUCE” MAYO SANDWICH
Make each of the components below and then stack in your favorite crusty bread. I sliced a slab of herb Focaccia and grilled it for a short time but I think a good, crusty italian or torpedo roll might be even better.

ouch, I hurt from eating too much of this.

ouch, I hurt from eating too much of this.

GREEN SAUCE MAYO:
The green sauce without mayo is a Saveur recipe found HERE but this will make WAY more than you need so I’ve scaled it down below and added the mayo part.

– 1 packed cups of fresh parsley leaves chopped coarsely
– 8 anchovy filets (little less than 1 2-oz. can)
– 1 garlic clove, peeled and minced
– 1/2 tbsp. capers
– 1/2 tbsp. red wine vinegar
– 1/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil
– 1 cup mayo

Mash anchovy filets with a fork and add to parsley. Add garlic, capers, and vinegar. Mix well with a wooden spoon while drizzling in olive oil. Then mix this into 1 cup of mayonnaise. Make this ahead and store it in the fridge until you’re ready to build your sandwich. And for those who are anchovy shy, trust me it’s fairly subtle when all ingredients are together in this, you can barely notice them but it adds a nice flavor.

TRI-TIP:
– Grill up a tri-tip until Med-rare. I did a small 1.5 lb that was marinaded in Bourbon, brown sugar, star anise, garlic and salt. I grilled it for about 15 mins and then let it stand for 15 mins. Then sliced it up and put it on the sandwich bread.

GRILLED ONIONS:
– Slice 1 sweet onion into 1/2″ thick slices, coat with olive oil and salt
– Grill until soft and slightly charred on the edges, 15-ish mins

ARUGULA SALAD:
Mix the following ingredients together while you’re meat and onions are on the grill. This will go on the sandwich too. Don’t be shy with the vinegar, it adds a nice tanginess.
– 2 cups Arugula
– 1/4 cup grated parmesan
– 1 tbsp olive oil
– 2 tbsp White Balsamic Vinegar

BUILD YOUR SANDWICH:
Slather the Green sauce mayo on the toasted bread, stack some tri-tip slices on, then add a handful of the arugula salad and some onions.

Tri-Tip, Green Sauce Mayo, Arugula, Grilled onion on Focaccia

Tri-Tip, Green Sauce Mayo, Arugula, Grilled onion on Focaccia

It’s rare that I try out a new concoction and don’t have major changes or criticism. But this was so good my husband and I couldn’t stop eating it.

Enjoy!

DAY 11: Prosecco, Ginger Lemonade, Mint Cooler

Lemon trees, unnecessary overachievers really.

In our small yard we have a plum tree that rarely fruits. A fig tree that gives off mealy figs. A mandarin tree that shows some hope of eventually giving us edible mandarins and one small lemon tree that generates 1000lbs of lemons, year round.

So lemonade, and various items revolving around lemonade, were the focus of today’s Make Stuff Up challenge.

GINGER SIMPLE SYRUP
I guess the name says it all… making simple syrup could not be easier and it really is better when making lemonade. Straight up sugar never dissolves enough AND the best part is that you can easily flavor simple syrup by adding ingredients. I added ginger.

Makes 1.5 cups:
– 1 cup of sugar
– 1 cup of water
– two large slices of fresh ginger

Simple Syrup

Simple Syrup

Put sugar and water in a saucepan and bring to a boil. Add ginger, lower heat and simmer for a few minutes. Turn off heat but leave sitting for 20 or so minutes. Then pour in a jar and there you have it.

GINGER LEMONADE
This is pretty easy:
– squeeze the juice from about 8 lemons
– add about 6 cups of water
– Add Ginger Simple Syrup to taste.

Cutting Lemons

Cutting Lemons

Prosecco with Ginger Lemonade and Mint

Prosecco with Ginger Lemonade and Mint

PROSECCO, GINGER LEMONADE, MINT COOLER
– Fill a large glass with ice
– Pour in half lemonade
– Add a little more of the ginger simple syrup
– Fill the rest with Prosecco or a dry Sparkling Pinot Grigio
– Stir in chopped mint to taste

Tasty, refreshing, and enjoyed with great friends during a very nice backyard BBQ.

And now it’s off to bed.

DAY 8: Lemony, Minty, Salad Stuff

Today was meant to be a basement day but guess what I was thwarted by?

A) potential pregnant visitor (primer fumes = no bueno)
B) a bit of a hangover
C) a bit of laziness
D) ALL OF THE ABOVE

DING! DING! Correct! It is indeed “D: ALL OF THE ABOVE”

Yes, logic and good sense would question why I would be hungover on a Wednesday. Well, me and 75ish of my most favorite coworkers ever, helped to close down the MTV Networks SF office in style with a cocktail party at Sens in SF.

And, while the night started respectably enough, it ended in a Chinatown dive bar singing Sweet Child O’ Mine into karaoke mics that didn’t even work (and didn’t need to).

Perfect.

So back to today, I wasn’t really feeling the basement but was feeling the need to beat the heat and my hangover with some healthy food.

So I made up these salads. Both were delicious and super easy. Plus I feel better.

All of the measurements below are estimates because I just threw some stuff in a bowl until it tasted good.

Kale Salad & Quinoa Salad

Kale & Quinoa Salads

Lemony, Minty, Quinoa Salad

INGREDIENTS:

  • 1 cup (dry) Quinoa cooked, like rice, with 2 cups of water
  • 12 or so fresh mint leaves chopped
  • Juice of 2 lemons
  • 1/2 jar of Marinated Artichokes, chopped (optional)
  • 1 tbsp Olive Oil (or oil from marinated artichokes)
  • salt to taste

INSTRUCTIONS:
Mix all of the above together in a bowl. Fool around with amounts until you like how it tastes. See? Easy.

Kale, Parmesan, Avocado Salad

INGREDIENTS:

  • A bunch of Organic Kale, chopped salad-sized
  • 1/2 cup grated parmesan
  • Juice of 1 lemon
  • 1 tbsp Olive Oil
  • 1 large avocado diced
  • 2 tbsp White Balsamic Vinegar
  • salt & pepper to taste

INSTRUCTIONS:
Mix all of the above together in a bowl. I like mixing it over and over to really kinda mash the avocado which gives the salad a creamy dressing feel but healthier.

TIP: Dinner #2: both salads mixed together! Yum!