Friday, August 9, 2019

Chili-Lime Melon Salad. (Wait... Chili?) Yes. Chili.

This week was National Night Out - as many of you probably already know. Our neighborhood goes pretty all out for it. The past few years we've gathered around a few grills and some potluck-covered tables while the kids enjoyed a bounce house (and the parents of those kids got progressively more and more nervous as the kids got more and more adventurous).

This year, there was a fiesta theme, complete with face painting and piƱata, so I decided to make a summer salad that has some south-of-the-border flavors: chili powder, lime, and Cotija cheese.

It's a recipe that I've made once before when we had some friends over for brunch, and people really seemed to like it, so I thought I'd go for it again. (Plus, it's quick, easy, and fairly cheap - things I definitely enjoy when making food for a crowd.)

Allow me to explain:
I have NO idea what I was doing during what became the freezeframe image for this video. But... HOORAY!

So, yeah... This is, once again, a recipe from The Smitten Kitchen. You can find it on her website, here. (Because it's a pretty simple recipe, I'm not going to type it all out, here.)

Here are the basics that you need:

  • 4 cups of assorted melon (I went for watermelon and cantaloupe)
  • Some lime juice
  • 1 tablespoon of cilantro
  • 1/2 - 1 teaspoon of chili powder
  • Some Cotija cheese
  • Some course salt
  • Toasted/salted pepitas (which are what's "inside" a pumpkin seed)

The hardest part of this whole process is getting the melon into bite-size pieces. Well, that and - depending where you live - finding the Cotija cheese and the pepitas. But, around here in Minneapolis you can get Cotija cheese either as a chunk or as crumbles. (As you probably saw in the first video, I went for the crumbles.)

The pepitas can be ordered online, if you need to go that way, but I got mine from the bulk section of my local grocery store. The last time I made this salad, I used raw ones and toasted them myself. This time, I picked some up right across the produce section from the melons and the cilantro.

So, here we have photos of balling melons, which is really the main piece of work:

Here's how exciting it looks to use a cookie scoop as a melon baller.
Yeah... not much activity in this recipe when you come right down to it.
Recommendation: If you have a cutting board that is grooved for meat, it's also good for cutting juicy fruit. (Not the gum.)
Bonus to using a melon baller: I really kind of love the designs you get in the melon rinds. 

Feel free to ooohh and ahhh, at any point.

And, since this is a really easy recipe, this all goes directly into the bowl you'll be serving it in.

Then you add in all of the other stuff. Which, honestly, is just a whole lot of dumping things together. 

So, instead of just showing you the final photo, here's the wrap-up video, first: 

Now, with not quite a month of summer left - and watermelon at its freshest of the year - why not try a new way of eating it? (The Smitten Kitchen and I would never steer you wrong!)

Oh - And if you're wondering what to do with all that juice that builds up in the watermelon rind while you're making melon balls, here's one recommendation:
After all, it's basically a giant bowl/cup, right? 
How've you been? Any cooking questions come up while I've been gone? Let me know if there's anything I can try to answer!

Tuesday, August 6, 2019

The Sound of Comfort Food

Hey, there.

I know I've been gone for a while. And, honestly, I don't have a really good reason. But here are some honest thoughts on the matter (in no particular order):

1) Work has been strangely busy, which has been keeping me from wanting to open my laptop when I get home at night, but that's not really a great reason.

2) I had a couple of side projects come up and felt like I needed to focus on those instead of focusing on my own work.

3) We went to New York City for a week to visit family and friends (and friends who are more like family) at the end of May.

4) We've each had some family things going on that have been at least a little distracting.

5) The world has gotten weird - and I don't always feel like writing a frivolous blog about food and day-to-day life is really right. And I wonder whether I should be writing pithy pieces about the world, instead of frothy pieces about my kitchen.

A couple of days ago, however, I had a good experience in the grocery store (as we all know - grocery stores are my happy place), and I wanted to share.

No. It's not a recipe. And, no, there's not even a tasting at the end.

But I hope you enjoy this quick video, even so.

And - believe it or not - I'm also working up a post that should be coming up on Friday of this week, as well.

Hopefully we'll see each other then!