Are you staying cool during the hot weather we’ve been having? This is the time of year when I probably eat the most fruit. I love all kinds of fruit and that’s what I like about this Mango-Jalapeno Salsa–there’s a nice variety of fruit—mango, pineapple, and apple—–mixed in with some diced tomato and red bell pepper. It’s a little on the spicy side, so use half the amount of jalapeno and ginger if you want a milder salsa. Overall, I think this is a great, healthy mix of naturally sweet and savory flavors! Continue reading
Fruit salad is so good and refreshing during the hot summer months! And this Rainbow Fruit Salad is so colorful, it’s a feast for the eyes! I actually made this fruit arrangement for a photo I did for Mary & Martha back in early spring, which was used on a recipe card. The fruit is arranged on the Done in Love Serving Board and the Vanilla Pudding Dip, a recipe from a Mary & Martha consultant, is served in one of the Simply Elegant Dip Bowls, which comes in a set of 3. I really love these little bowls! Continue reading
While thumbing through a summer issue of Real Simple magazine the other day, I found a little note about Agua Fresca and how you could blend watermelon, cucumber, or cantaloupe with lime juice and a little sugar, then strain and serve over ice. That reminded me of an Agua Fresca recipe I made a few years back. It’s made a little differently–I used strawberries and didn’t strain it. I also used honey instead of sugar.
Have you been enjoying watermelon this summer? It tastes especially good on really, really hot days–like the ones we’ve been having the past few weeks! And it’s good for you, too–I read that it’s high in vitamins A, B6, and C. it’s also a good source of lycopene, which is good for your heart, and potassium, which helps steady your blood pressure. And, since a watermelon is over 90% water, it helps keep you hydrated on hot days!
I’ve always managed to pick good watermelons–I don’t remember ever buying a bad watermelon. It doesn’t hurt to know a few helpful tips when you’re choosing one, so you might find these helpful the next time you buy a watermelon!
- You may find the best selection at your local farmer’s market, since watermelons sold at grocery stores are often picked before they are fully ripened–once a watermelon is picked from the vine, it usually doesn’t ripen that much more.
- Look for a watermelon that has a uniform, symmetrical shape, smooth texture, and free of bumps, dents, and bruises–lumps mean the melon didn’t have a regular amount of sunshine or water while growing.
- Look at the skin of the watermelon-it should have definite dark and light green strips and should be dull rather than shiny–shiny means it’s not ripe (some grocery stores sell melons with skins that have been waxed, so this tip may not help in that case).
- Check the bottom of the watermelon (also called the “field spot” or “belly”)–you’ll want to see a creamy, buttery yellow color there–that means it’s ripe (you don’t want to see a white or light green bottom).
- A ripe watermelon should feel heavy for its size–pick up some watermelons that are the same size and compare their weight–the heaviest one is the ripest and juiciest.
- If you tap the watermelon and it sounds hollow, that means it’s ripe. If it sounds dull, that means it’s under-ripe or over-ripe.
- Store an uncut watermelon at room temperature (This is said to raise its levels of lycopene by 20 percent). Wash and slice the watermelon within a few days of purchasing it. A cut watermelon can be wrapped in plastic and refrigerated for 3 to 5 days. Serving idea: make a glaze of lime juice, honey, and chopped mint–drizzle over watermelon slices.
- You can freeze watermelon chunks to use in smoothies (you won’t want to freeze watermelon for eating, though–the texture gets soft when thawed). You can also freeze watermelon juice in ice-cube trays to add to lemonade, ice tea, or punch.
- Use watermelon in these easy recipes: Make watermelon skewers by pairing watermelon chunks or balls with any combination of the following: large blackberries, strawberries, honeydew or cantaloupe chunks or balls, mango chunks, pineapple chunks, cucumber slices, banana slices, feta cheese chunks, pitted black olives, cherry tomatoes. Add watermelon to summer salads (with some feta cheese) or just toss watermelon and feta cheese together for a refreshing “salad.” Make an easy watermelon salsa with diced watermelon chunks, diced cucumber, chopped cilantro, minced jalapeño pepper and some lime juice. Drink some Watermelon Lemonade–just puree 2 cups of small seedless 1/2-inch watermelon cubes and mix into 1 quart of lemonade. Enjoy some Watermelon Granita–In blender or food processor, puree 4 cups of small seedless 1/2-inch cubed watermelon, 1/2 cup sugar, and 2 Tablespoons lime juice. Pour into a 9×13″ container and place in freezer. Stir with a fork every 30 minutes until mixture is slushy, up to 2 1/2 hours.
- Snack on the watermelon seeds: Toss 1 cup raw watermelon seeds, rinsed and dried, in a little olive oil, sea salt, and/or spices of your choice. Toast on a parchment-lined baking sheet at 325˚F for 10 to 15 minutes. Watermelon seeds have fiber, protein, and magnesium.
Have you used any of these tips yourself? Do you have any other watermelon tips of your own?
Sharing at Inspire Me Monday.
Last fall, I made some homemade applesauce. I thought it was so much better than store-bought. After making that, I decided I needed to try making homemade apple butter sometime. Several friends have given me homemade apple butter the last few years–it makes a wonderful food gift, especially around the holidays. I discovered you can make apple butter with the slow cooker or on the stovetop, and for my first try I decided to make a stovetop version.
This recipe is really easy and it’s weetened with honey and apple juice or apple cider. You basically just put all the ingredients in a large pot and let it cook on low for an hour, until the apples get all tender and mashable. Then you let the mixture cool a little and puree to a smoother consistency in a food processor or blender. I love the cinnamony taste and I think that homemade apple butter, like homemade applesauce, is so much better than any you can buy!
STOVETOP APPLE CINNAMON BUTTER by NancyC
Makes 3 3/4 cups
- 8 cups peeled, cored, and chopped apples (about 8 medium, or 2 1/2 pounds)–I used Gala apples; if using organic apples, you can leave the skin on if you want
- 2/3 cup apple juice or apple cider
- 1/2 cup honey
- 2 teaspoons cinnamon
- 1 teaspoon allspice
- 2 teaspoons vanilla
In a large pot or saucepan, combine chopped apples with the rest of the ingredients. Stir well, cover pot, and cook on low for 1 hour, stirring occasionally. Let mixture cool for 15 minutes, then, in several batches, put mixture in blender and puree until smooth (be careful not to overfill your blender or food processor!).
Store in jars with tight-fitting lids or airtight food containers and refrigerate for up to one week.
This apple butter is great on toast, muffins, biscuits, and scones. You can stir it into plain or vanilla yogurt to flavor it up more, or layer it with yogurt and granola for a breakfast parfait.
Have you ever made your own homemade apple butter?