Wednesday, August 17, 2011

Refreshing Launch: Watermelon and Tomato Salad

Light meals are essential in Chicago's blistering summer heat. You don't want to feel stuffed before heading out on hot summer nights. It's the season for enjoying your time outside. 

That's why my mom and I have been focusing on fresh and crisp ingredients. Light airy dishes that are refreshingly delicious, but won't weigh you down in the heat.

My cousin Julie is in for the week on business, but we decided that after a stressful summer- we needed a spa day. After an afternoon pampering, we wanted something light to go on the side with our burgers. 

This one is going to sound a little weird, but it turned out delicious.  Experimenting- can create successful and unique dishes. We found this recipe from the Minimalist column in the New York Times. I normally am not a fan of blue cheese- but because it is crumbled finely- it doesn't overpower the dish. This is one of my favorite throw it together and serve recipes. 

If you want to get creative on how to slice and dice your watermelon- perhaps use the launch method? Anyone needing revenge? Here's how.  

This salad would also be a great side if you are going to a picnic or maybe if you have lawn seats at a concert. Ravinia anyone? 

Watermelon and Tomato Salad


  • 2 1/2 cups seedless watermelon, in 1-inch cubes or balls (cut over a bowl to catch the juice and reserve it)
  • 1 1/2 cups cherry or grape tomatoes, cut in half
  • 1/2 cup finely diced or crumbled Stilton, Gorgonzola, Roquefort or Maytag blue cheese
  • 1/2 cup minced scallions
  • Salt
  • 2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
  • 2 tablespoons sherry vinegar
  • Pinch cayenne
  • 1/2 cup parsley, roughly chopped


  • 1. Combine the watermelon, tomato, cheese, scallions and salt in a bowl.
  • 2. Whisk or blend together about 2 tablespoons of the watermelon juice, oil, vinegar and cayenne. To serve, dress the salad with this mixture and garnish with parsley. Do not refrigerate and serve within 30 minutes.

Monday, August 1, 2011

Monkey See, Monkey Do: Aunt Nan's Monkey Bread

Food may bring people together, but it is also a useful tool for bribery. I needed some extra swim instructors to come in for Saturday morning lessons and decided that I would bribe them with one of my family's most favorite recipes, Monkey Bread. It was a complete success. 

Monkey Bread has been in our family forever and is usually our special occasion breakfast/dessert go-to. Christmas morning, Easter, sleepovers and we have even used it as a breakfast birthday cake. We still use the original hand written recipe card from year ago. My grandma's sister, Aunt Nan introduced it to the family. Lots of family memories revolve around waking up extra early to get the first piece of monkey bread before anyone else! 

This past weekend, my grandpa passed away. I will always remember the first time my mom made him Monkey Bread. Grandpa was at first very skeptical and really put off by the name "Monkey Bread." However, as soon as he tried it- he always made my mom make it for him. When we used to call, he would ALWAYS ask mom to bring it down next time we visited.

Caroline, my sister and I would always bring it as a school treat as well. Our friends have been begging for this recipe forever- so now I'm going to be bad and break the family secret. (I swear I got Mom's permission!) 

Make this for your family and friends and enjoy the love and the memories. Love always lives on. Thanks for all the wonderful memories, Grandpa. I'll miss you.

Aunt Nan's Monkey Bread
Monkey Bread:

  • 4 cans refrigerated biscuits, quartered
  • 3/4 cup sugar
  • 1 1/2 tablespoons cinnamon
  • 1 1/2 sticks margarine or butter
  • 1 cup sugar
1. Grease bundt pan and preheat oven to 325 degrees. 
2. Combine sugar and cinnamon in a freezer storage plastic bag.
3. Cut biscuit dough into quarters and put no more than four pieces at a time in the bag.
4. Shake with cinnamon and sugar and then remove from bag and place in the bundt pan.
5. Bring to boil butter and sugar until combined. Drizzle butter/sugar glaze over the biscuit dough right before you put the bundt pan in the oven. 
6. Bake for 30 minutes. The top should be golden brown and have a crusty/crunchy texture. Let it cool for 5 minutes before unmolding it. 

Note: Can be reheated in the microwave. 

Bon App├ętit!