Mt. Shasta Watermelon Refresher

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I originally posted this recipe last year. It is one of my daughter’s favorites, as she will often ask me to make this ‘vacation drink in a bowl’ nearly every week during the summer.

When I think of watermelon I can’t help but think of her and about the Mt. Shasta Blackberry Festival. For the last 8 years we have attended the Blackberry Festival, which always falls on Labor Day weekend. This same weekend also happens to be my son’s birthday weekend. >no jokes please, yes I was in labor on labor day weekend!< This festival has become an annual tradition as it offered good ‘ole fashioned fun – potato sack races, water balloon tosses, the three legged race AND the coveted watermelon eating contest. The ambiance is perfect — a park and large grassy field serve as a backdrop for Frisbee playing, fancy hoola-hooping and tag, while local bands up on stage entertain the hundreds of on-lookers. Rotary club members sell commemorative t-shirts, blackberry pies, blackberry ale and some all American fare.

Without a doubt the Blackberry Festival has been a Labor Day Weekend staple for our family, however this year the one glaring activity missing was the one the one competition that we talk about all year long…the watermelon eating contest. Over the years, my kids have perfected their technique. My daughter, the eldest of my two children, developed the winning strategy, which she then shared only with one other person, her younger brother. Since they didn’t compete against one another she wanted to make sure he had the tools required to win his gender/age division. Needless to say, these two ringers have taken first place for their gender/age for the past 6 years.

This past weekend, when we realized the contest wasn’t going to happen, we offered to host our own mini-event at home post-festival, but the response was underwhelming. They didn’t really want to compete against one another, the fun was the challenge of taking on strangers to see if there was anything new to learn.

In tribute to one of our favorite days of the year, I am sharing this recipe for my Watermelon Refesher, in hopes that we can inspire our friends at the Rotary Club to bring back the contest next year!

This beautiful blend of juices evoke the taste of those long nostalgic summertime days. Happiness in bowl.

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Mt. Shasta Watermelon Refresher

Ingredients

1 round small seedless watermelon (4 cups needed)

3 limes; 2 juiced, 1 for garnish

1/3 cup light coconut milk

½ cup coconut water

dash of salt

1 TBS maple syrup (optional)

chocolate shavings (optional)

vodka, gin or tequila (optional)

Directions

Slice watermelon in half and using a spoon scoop out meat.

Note: To be able to use watermelon rind as the bowl to serve your watermelon drink, it is best not to remove melon to far down in your ‘bowl’ and to make the scoops you remove look aesthetically pleasing. Leaving a small pink ¼-inch boarder of watermelon around the rim is recommended.

Arrange on a parchment-lined backing sheet or in the largest container you can fit in the freezer. If layering watermelon, separate layers with parchment paper. Freeze for approximately 4 hours.

Drain off any excess juices collected at the bottom of the watermelon bowl and set aside. Cover the watermelon halves with parchment paper and refrigerate until ready to use. Chilled bowls are the best because once the juice has been devoured, there is melon to eat! Remaining juice can be used to supplement coconut water or just enjoyed on its own.

Remove watermelon from freezer and add to a blender along with lime juice, coconut milk, coconut water, salt and maple syrup (if using). Blend on low until smooth and creamy. If the mixture has trouble blending, add a scant amount of coconut water or alcohol; too much liquid will make the consistency too thin. If making a cocktail adding and blending ice into the mix is a nice touch.

Taste the mixture before serving and adjust as needed:

-Creaminess = more coconut milk

-Brightness = more lime

-Sweetness = more maple syrup

Serve in empty watermelon rinds or chilled serving glasses. Garnish with a wedge of lime and a sprinkle of chocolate shavings.

Makes 2 large portions. Leftovers can be put in popsicle molds and frozen minus the lime garnish.

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Matcha Berry Breakfast Bowl

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Life just feels rushed. There is so little time to reflect and focus on the finer points of day to day life as I find myself rushing from place to place. Given that reality, I’ve gone into survival mode on the food front. I refuse to compromise quality and creativity, so I am modifying what I create given available pantry and refrigerator ingredients to satisfy my crazy savory palate. I realize that this concoction may not be for everyone, but I also know that many of you really enjoy diving into new flavors so I am going to take a gamble.

I cannot quite pinpoint when my palate took a turn towards the savory spectrum of flavors. I’ve thought about it over and over again and come up with a zilch. I can only suppose that when my mom was diagnosed with diabetes several years ago that my tastebud transformation began to take hold in its infancy. Despite the fact that she has never been a big sweets eater, knowing that she was suddenly not supposed to have her favorite desserts seemed to make her crave them all the more. I compare it to when I’ve “attempted” to diet in the past. The thought of the word diet makes me suddenly want to eat all of the caloric comfort foods I can find. I digress…back to this savory breakfast post.

What you can expect to taste with this bowl of yum? It’s an explosion of textures and flavors. The creamy yogurt is a blank slate for the rest of the flavors that are combined in this recipe. The matcha and nutritional yeast lend a slant of saltiness, which is counter acted by the sweet plump fresh berries and the tart dried berries. Nuts provide an added crunch, while the mango chutney is both sweet and spicy. For the finishing touches, the maple syrup drizzle seals the deal with a hint of sweetness.

This recipe, yet another one of my go-with-the flow recipes, takes all of six minutes to assemble.

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Matcha Berry Breakfast Bowl

Ingredients

1 cup Greek yogurt

1 handful blackberries or blueberries

1 TBS dried goji berries

1 TBS sliced almonds or salted marcona almonds

1/8 tsp nutritional yeast (optional)

1/4 tsp matcha powder

1 TBS hot mango chutney

1/2-1 tsp maple syrup

Directions

Place yogurt in a bowl and then sprinkle with matcha powder, nuts and berries. Next add nutritional yeast, if using. Top with mango chutney and drizzle with maple syrup.

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Lemoncello Peach Salad

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Missed me? I’ve missed you!

So much has transpired that I hardly know where to start. The quick snapshot looks like this…epic vacation, followed by catching up at work (yes, I have a ‘real job’ outside of recipe development) and THEN my website becomes infected with malware and my creative writing comes to a screeching halt. Continue reading ‘Lemoncello Peach Salad’

Red Pepper Unicorn Hummus

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I’ve been blogging since 2008 and yet it seems like I just started recipe writing yesterday. It has gone by in a blink. I never really planned on blogging. When I started this blog it was a way to promote my first cookbook. Just for fun. Years later, I can easily admit that it has been more fun than I ever expected. There are a few times that I wondered if I could maintain it, especially in the past six months. I’ll admit that I’ve struggled to post. Behind the scenes I am still on the mend; I feel great, but my stamina has not returned. There are days that I wonder if it ever will come back, but those that have gone before me assure me it is only a matter of time. >tick, tock<

Despite my lack of posting, I certainly have not stopped enjoying my love of food – whether it is my cooking or someone else’s food I remain passionate about flavors. A few months ago while at work, I ordered a mixed hummus plate for lunch. It was so delicious I couldn’t get it out of my mind. In fact, I obsessed over it. I went back and ordered it five more times. Eventually I asked to meet the chef, and told him how much I loved it. He was so pleased to know how much I relished this recipe that a smile grew across his face. While he didn’t have a recipe to give me he eagerly shared his ingredients list. I left confident that I could crack the code on this recip-mystery.

Fast forward to a few weeks ago when my family was invited over to our friend’s home for dinner. >Something that you may not know about me is that as much as I enjoy cooking and creating in the kitchen I ADORE when other people cook for me. It’s something special that holds a great deal of significance to me and I wanted to bring something special that I made.< After much contemplation, I decided to try to recreate this recipe. My daughter was stunned, she knows that I NEVER entertain or prepare something to serve for the first time that I have not previously tested. And yet, I wondered if perhaps this was my recipe unicorn. Despite her reminders of my prime cooking directive, I had to take a risk and make this recipe without an official test run. And I am happy to report that Red Pepper Hummus turned out spot on. I was thrilled! I still am. I can’t wait to make it again. It is just-that-good! And yes, I do think it is my recipe unicorn.

Red Pepper Unicorn Hummus

Ingredients

1 (16 oz) jar roasted red bell peppers, reserve remaining oil

1 cup walnut pieces, plus 2-3 halves to use for decoration

1 TBS sugar

3-4 cloves garlic

½ lemon, juiced and seeds removed

3 cloves garlic

½ cup gluten free bread crumbs

Optional Serving Suggestions:

pita bread points

baguette slices

crackers

vegetables: cucumbers, celery or carrots

Directions

In a small pan, over medium high heat, add all of the walnuts and sugar. Stir regularly until sugar melts and nuts are coated and sugar is an amber color. Transfer from pan to a plate to cool.

In a blender or food processor combine all ingredients EXCEPT 2-3 decorative candied walnuts and blend until smooth. If mixture is too thick, add oil from the jarred bell peppers, a teaspoon at a time, until desired consistency is reached.

Place hummus in a decorative bowl and decorate with 3 decorative walnuts. Serve with vegetables, crackers or toast.

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Sassy RED Spicy Granola

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Remember waking up early, sneaking downstairs to make your mom a special Mother’s Day Breakfast in bed? The quality of the breakfast was usually commensurate with the age. My specialty was drop biscuits with jam. Still one of my favorites go to breakfasts even today.

I remember my kids brining me flowers from the yard and burnt cheese on burnt toast. And I loved it! I loved hearing them scamper about the kitchen, trying desperately to be quite in their loudest ‘yell whispers’. Continue reading ‘Sassy RED Spicy Granola’

Beetroot Not-So- Ho-Hummus

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Isn’t it peculiar how sometimes we perceive the direction of our lives to be mandated by a fortune cookie, horoscope, a face-up penny or a ‘sign’ like 1:11pm or or knocking on wood? The list can be seemingly endless. I can’t tell you how many tunnel wishes I’ve made over the years- saving those wishes for the REALLY BIG moments when Continue reading ‘Beetroot Not-So- Ho-Hummus’

Anytime PBJ Toast – The Make-Over

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I know, I’ve been silent. It’s not that I haven’t had anything to share, but rather too much to share to know where to begin. I am at some sort of a beginning and I’ve yet to crystallize my thoughts, but time and distance are moving me closer to that bridge. Right now I am the most simple version of me that I can ever recall. There is time to observe what’s going on around me, and even time to think through a situation and examine if my life pre-Cancer was all that amazing and worth repeating. Continue reading ‘Anytime PBJ Toast – The Make-Over’

THIN Mint Ice Cream Cookie Sandwiches

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Today is what I grew up calling a ‘rainy day session’ or ‘a cave day’. Actually it’s been raining for over a week- cold and damp and just the kind of day you want to order when you feel the need to stay in your pajamas all day and hide away from the world watching movies on the couch. Continue reading ‘THIN Mint Ice Cream Cookie Sandwiches’

Pink Sweet Mash Hash

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I’ve done all sorts of soul searching these past few months. An illness will inevitably do that to you. And just when you think you are done, maxed out, finito, fed-up, at your limit >insert any other expression that implies you are DONE< and in that mental space where you think that you can’t possibly take on any more, that SOMETHING changes and you miraculously just find your way. Continue reading ‘Pink Sweet Mash Hash’

Greens and Chive Seed Bread

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This is far from your typical St. Patrick’s Day inspired food post. The only common thread linking this recipe to St. Patrick’s Day is that, like a Leprechaun, Greens and Chive Seed Bread is incredibly naturally green. This delicious Paleo/vegetarian/grain free egg-forward bread is almost soufflé like when served warm; and when served at room temperature it is reminiscent of a dry frittata.

Continue reading ‘Greens and Chive Seed Bread’