Watermelon Three Ways!


Another guest post!  With no baby news, gah :(
The following is written by my friend, Beth: mother of 2 adorable boys, hardest-working Producer at Dr. Phil, spectacular cook and a very special friend to me.  Thank you B... and I hope you all enjoy!

When I think summer, I think watermelon!  (And cocktails, sun, sand, more cocktails...)  
But back to the watermelon.  For my son's last day of preschool in June, I was the assigned "snack mom" and wanted to help get everyone in the summer spirit.  So, rather than buying some Pirates Booty and calling it a day (why can I never make things easy on myself?!?) I bought a 14 pound child, I mean watermelon.

Way #1:
First, I cut the watermelon in big, circular slices, then I cut the slices into preschool size wedges, like a pizza.  I know, this is a hard one!

Way #2:
Next, because I can't resist giving kids sugar in school, I made a watermelon Rice Krispie Treats.  I'm not proud of the fact that I have the recipe memorized, but I do.  So here we go, it's a double recipe you make twice, you'll see... 

Watermelon Rice Krispie Treats
(This recipe is for 2 round cake pans and some leftovers, feeds appox. 20 kids, could be halved!)

2 bags marshmallows (big or mini)
6 T butter
12 cups Rice Krispies
1 pack of green lime Kool-aid
1 pack of red strawberry/cherry Kool-aid
Mini chocolate chips

In a large pan, melt 1 bag of marshmallows with 3 T of butter over medium-low heat.  Once melted, stir in a pack of green lime Kool-aid.  Pour in 6 cups of Rice Krispies and stir.  Take the mixture and make a green rind around the inside of 2 cake pans.  I always put 2 plastic baggies on my hand and spray with butter/oil so I can easily form the treats.  Repeat all steps with 2nd bag of marshmallows, butter and Rice Krispies, but this time add the red Kool-aid.  Fill in the middle of the green rinds with the red mixture.  After they've cooled, add some chocolate chips on top for seeds (I cut my chips in half).  Then cut into wedges!       

Way #3:
When you realize that you have no clue what else to do with the remaining 10 pounds of your watermelon baby, and if you're like me you have zero room in your fridge, do this!!  This "way" is by FAR my new ultimate summer treat, courtesy of an old Bon Appetit magazine I found...

Watermelon Granita
(Makes 6 small servings)

4 cups chopped watermelon, even if it's slightly under or over ripe
Juice from half a lime
1/2 cup sugar

Blend/puree all ingredients in a Vitamix or blender.  Pour in a square brownie/cake pan and put in freezer.  Set alarm and after 1 hour, take a fork and mash up any chunks.  Set alarm again for 2 hours, repeat fork mashing.  The next morning = perfection!

Jessica's Creamed Corn


The following guest post does NOT mean I've had my baby yet (grrrrr).  But I did ask some friends and family if they wanted to contribute guest posts as I wind down over here, and the following is from my sister-in-law, Jessica.  She writes a fabulous blog called One Hungry Yogi with the most entertaining posts about life, health and food.  AND... she's pregnant!  This will be the first niece or nephew for me from my side of the family, and there's just something so exciting about that :)

Her guest post is below, and I hope you enjoy...  

I was lucky enough to ring in the completion of my first trimester at the beach with my family.  One of my sisters came for a couple of days and so did my dad, but the majority of my vacation was spent in an old beach house with the two women who raised me: Mom and Ruby.

Ruby took care of me and my sisters from birth to the day we left home, and she is family.  There was something about spending peaceful, quiet, quality time with these two women while pregnant with my first child that felt so perfect, so balanced, and so special.

My mom taught me to love the ocean; Ruby taught me to roller skate.  My mom and I crooned to Van Morrison; Ruby and I grooved to Luther Vandros.  My mom taught me the importance of healthy eating; Ruby taught me the secrets of her famous fried chicken and delicious creamed corn.

Ruby spent decades taking care of my family, and as she grows older, it's now our turn to take care of her.  I wouldn't dare fry chicken for her at the beach... too much pressure, but I did make her my version of creamed corn, and she had two servings... I'm just saying.  As Ruby would say, this creamed corn is so good "it'll make you slap ya' grandma."

Jessica's Super Easy (and a little lighter) Version of Ruby's Creamed Corn 

3 large ears of fresh corn, cut off the cob
1 Tbsp. butter
1/2 cup milk
1 Tbsp. corn starch
Salt and pepper

Whisk the corn starch into milk until fully dissolved and smooth.  Melt butter in a large saucepan, add corn and sauté on medium-high heat for about five minutes.  Season with salt and pepper.  Put the heat on low and stir in the corn starch/milk slurry.  Keep stirring the corn on low until it becomes thick and creamy.  The finished product should be creamy and the corn still a little crunchy.

*Thank you Jess!  I hope I get the chance to meet Ruby someday (because I really want to hear that "slap ya grandma" phrase in person).  

Mint Chip Pudding Pops


A couple of days ago, I was all set to make fancy pudding pops that required corn starch and egg yolks and sugar and yadda yadda, and then I remembered how pregnant I was and decided to take the easy route.  (By the way, I promise I'll stop talking about how pregnant I am ONCE THIS BABY DECIDES TO VACATE THE PREMISES... I was due yesterday after all.  No big deal.)  I remembered I had a package of vanilla pudding in the pantry, and a little "EASY!" light bulb went off in my head.  You know, like the obnoxious "that was easy" Staples button.  Jack's favorite ice cream flavor is Mint Chip, so we decided to try out Mint Chip Pudding Pops.  They were awesome, and easy.  
That's all I can handle in my life right now...  

Mint Chip Pudding Pops
(Makes 8, depending on size of mold)

1 pkg. instant vanilla pudding
3/4 tsp peppermint extract
1/2 cup mini chocolate chips
Few drops of green food coloring (optional)

Prepare pudding as directed on package.  Stir in peppermint extract, chocolate chips and food coloring, if using.  Place in popsicle molds and freeze. 

Strawberry Yogurt Popsicles


According to my Facebook and Instagram feeds, school has already started for many kids.  What?!  It's August 12th!  What happened to Labor Day being the bookend of summer?  I refuse to let go of these humid, lazy days... but that's probably because I'm a whale with a tiny human camping out in my belly.  So yesterday I made popsicles, because frozen treats = summertime magic.  I recently bought these molds inspired by these pops (I mean, are you kidding me with those???) because my $1.99 Rite Aid brand just wasn't cutting it.  They worked like a charm!  And the creamy, strawberry frozen treat wasn't bad either.  Perfectly sweet and tart at the same time.  Aaaand now I'm obsessed with making popsicles.  What's next, hmm...  

If baby stays put for a few more days, I'm thinking Mint Chocolate Chip Fudge Pops sound ridiculous, don't you? 


Strawberry Yogurt Popsicles
(Makes 6, depending on size of mold)

2 cups fresh or frozen strawberries, roughly chopped
1/3 cup greek yogurt
1 1/2 tsp vanilla
1 1/2 tsp fresh lemon juice
1/8 cup sugar

Place strawberries in a bowl and coat with sugar.  Stir.  Place all ingredients in a blender and puree until smooth.  Pour into popsicle molds and freeze. 

Pretzel Hot Dog Buns


I know what you're thinking.  You're thinking, no baby yet??  You're also thinking, Siri is nutso kookoo for taking on large baking projects such as pretzel bread just days from her due date.  WELL YOU'RE WRONG.  (About the second part, baby is never leaving my belly, nope never.)  These Pretzel Hot Dog Buns were extremely easy to make and only took me about an hour from start to finish.  No kneading, no hours and hours of rising.  And I had every ingredient on hand (but that's because I'm the type of person with bread flour and active yeast in her pantry).  In fact, it was one particular ingredient that made this recipe jump out at me: grated garlic.  Yum!  I'm not sure if you can taste it but it made the house smell fantastic as these rolls were baking.  And how did they taste?  

Delicious.  Soft, salty, just enough pretzel chewiness.  Yum.

I will say, they're pretty big.  Not exactly the perfect vessel for a hot dog (but maybe a brat or sausage with tons of peppers and onions).  I think the recipe could have yielded 16 rolls instead of 8.  However, I will be making sandwiches with them all week, or simply warming them up and slathering them in butter.  Because that's what you do when you've been pregnant for a year.          

Baked Yellow Squash


I made this recipe twice this week, both times forgetting to take a "post-oven" photo.  I also just ate a brownie for breakfast, which has nothing to do with anything and I'm not sure why I told you that?  Hey, I have an idea, why don't YOU make this over the weekend and send me a photo of the finished result!  (And you should also make brownies and eat them at inappropriate times of the day.)

It's a really easy and yummy summer side, especially when you find yellow squash that's practically golden in color.  Sliced thinly, tossed in good olive oil and topped with a bread crumb and Parmesan mixture... then baked until golden and bubbly.  I swear that's what it looks like in the end.  But you'll just have to make it for yourself to see.  Have a great weekend!  

Baked Yellow Squash
(Serves 4)

2 large yellow squash
1/4 cup olive oil
1/3 cup panko or bread crumbs
1/3 cup Parmesan
Salt and pepper

Preheat oven to 350.  Slice squash into 1/4 inch rounds.  Place in large bowl and toss with olive oil and salt and pepper to taste, making sure all squash is fully coated.  In a separate small bowl, stir together bread crumbs, Parmesan and more salt and pepper to taste.  Place squash in lightly oiled baking dish, and top with bread crumb mixture.  Cover with tin foil.  Bake for 30 minutes covered, then uncover, turn heat up to 400 and bake for another 5 minutes or until top is nicely browned.     

TODAY tonight: Jerk Chicken


Carson has never been a huge fan of the sweet and savory combo, unlike me who has been dreaming of a McGriddle sandwich from McDonald's almost every morning of this pregnancy.  But he absolutely loved making this Jerk Chicken recipe on The Today Show last week, which is why it's next up in my "TODAY tonight" series!  The sweet and spicy flavors in this marinade were a hit with the entire family, actually, as everything tasted very balanced.  The recipe called for 3 jalapeños but mine were giant so I only used 2, and I removed the ribs and seeds from one so that it wouldn't be too hot for the kids.

Jack loved helping me throw all the ingredients in a blender, although he was sickened by the smell of ground allspice.  I said I thought it smells like Christmas, and he said I was a crazy mother person.  But my point being, the marinade was very easy to assemble and that was about all I had to do with this dish!  Carson took over the grilling, something he thoroughly enjoys doing.  

Just look at that joy...

We marinated our chicken for roughly ten hours, although the recipe only calls for a minimum of two.  I say the longer the better.  Also, our butcher helped us butterfly this chicken.  It's worth asking the butcher to do that step for you because, guess what, that's their job!  

I hope you enjoy this recipe as much as we did.  It's perfect for end-of-summer BBQ's.

Wait, summer is ending soon?!?


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