Monday, July 22, 2013

Boozy Watermelon Granitas

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I'm smack dab in the middle of some serious summer vacationing.  Last week, we spent 4 days up in New Hampshire with my family.  We hung out by the lake, lounged in the water, waterskiied, did some paddleboard yoga, and ate more delicious food than anyone actually needs to eat in a 4 day period.  Needless to say, it was awesome.  But of course the best part was the family time with my parents, grandparents, aunt and cousins.  I wish we all lived closer!

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This past weekend, we took a trip up to Wisconsin to camp and catch a Brewers game.  It was meant to be a test-run for our camping gear, since we just got a whole bunch of new stuff to take on our big trip out West.  It was also a chance to check another baseball park off of our lists.  I've been to 3 new parks so far this summer and will be at one more (I hope) by the end of the week!  Despite the fact that traffic in both directions was pretty horrific, limiting our ability to actually do any hiking, we had a great time.  I'm excited for us to do the real thing next week.

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Before we left, I had sent this recipe to the Monkey Scientist's mom.  I didn't really read it, or think about how much work went into making granitas.  I just thought it looked good.  I should have known better - by the time we got back she'd stressed over making it all day and bought these cute little serving bowls for it.  I was so excited!  She's the sweetest.

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I tried to help out by making the coconut whipped cream, but it didn't work out great. The taste was spot on, but it never really stiffened up.  Not quite sure what I did wrong; maybe I overwhipped it in the electric mixer?  It didn't really matter though because these were so delicious that we all slurped them down pretty quickly.  When they started melting it almost turned into a soft coconut-watermelon ice cream.  What a refreshing and tasty summertime treat!

Next, we're off to the West Coast for our big summer trip. I'll be sure to tell you all about it when we get back!

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Boozy Watermelon Granitas
from How Sweet It Is

4 cups fresh cubed watermelon
4 tablespoons granulated sugar
1/4 cup coconut rum
1 (14-ounce) can of full-fat coconut milk, refrigerated overnight

1. In the blender or food processor, completely puree the watermelon. Strain the mixture through a fine mesh sieve over a measuring cup and use a spoon to press every last bit of liquid out of the watermelon pulp.
2. Add the watermelon juice and sugar to a small saucepan over medium heat. Stir constantly until the sugar dissolves and once the liquid comes to a boil, turn off the heat.
3. Pour the juice into a 9x13-inch baking dish and whisk in the rum. Freeze for 4 hours.
4.  Use a fork and scrape the mixture into small icy bites. Freeze again and repeat the scraping one or two more times within the next two hours or so.
5.  When ready to serve, open the can of cold coconut milk (don't shake it first!) and remove all of the liquid. Scoop the cream into the bowl of an electric mixer and beat on high speed with a whisk attachment until peaks form, about 2 minutes. If desired, you can sweeten your coconut whipped cream with a little sugar.
6. Serve the granitas by layering a spoonful of the whipped cream, the granitas and more whipped cream. You can garnish with a sprig of mint if you have any on hand.

Friday, July 5, 2013



I hope you had a wonderful 4th of July!  We spent the evening on a friend's rooftop, where we could see fireworks in every direction.  It was spectacular!  And all of the fireworks were just far enough away that I wasn't irrationally afraid of them, like I often am.  Win!


The 4th is a particularly big celebration in the Monkey Scientist's family because so many family birthdays fall right around the holiday.  We've had a blast celebrating all week long, and it will continue this weekend!  For our birthday gift to the Monkey Scientist's brother and his girlfriend, we gave them this mortar and pestle from Sur la Table that I just love!  Not only is it made of volcanic rock, it's a little pig! Too cute. Of course we gave it to them on the 4th so that we could make guac for the party.


Much overdue to all of you, here is my go-to guacamole recipe.  I guess over the years I've adapted it from a plethora of recipes out on the web and made it my own.  We make it all the time - especially for big parties or family dinners.  It goes great on burgers, tacos, or just with chips.  It's the perfect treat for the summertime!  If you're not familiar with tomatillos, they're often sold with the tomatoes and avocados.  They look like miniature green tomatoes but they naturally have a paper-like outside that easily peels off.  They can be a bit sticky but that comes off with a good rinse under cold water.  They're the secret to my famous guacamole!



3 ripe avocados, removed from skins, pitted, and cut into chunks
1 medium to large tomatillo, diced
2-3 cloves garlic, diced
1 jalapeño, diced
juice of 1 lime
1 tsp salt
1 tsp freshly ground black pepper
1/2 tsp cayenne pepper (or more if you like spicy)

1. Add the avocado, tomatillo, garlic, and jalapeño to a large bowl or mortar.  Smash with the back of a spoon, a potato masher, or a pestle until only small chunks remain.
2. Add the lime juice, salt, pepper, and cayenne pepper and stir to incorporate.

Wednesday, July 3, 2013

Shanghai Shrimp

Shanghai shrimp

This summer has been, needless to say, hectic so far.  But in the most fun sorts of ways!  My birthday was a blast!  We had a great yoga class with my favorite yoga teacher out on the lakeshore path.  There are lots of photos up on strangeplaceforyoga, so head over there and check them out.  We followed it up with an awesome (and plentiful) sushi dinner with friends (and my baby brother!) which made me smile.

I have also been traveling for work, and even though it may feel like I'm always on a plane, when I travel I get to do my favorite part of my job and I've enjoyed all of the interesting things I've been learning.

A couple weeks ago, we were able to spend a day up out on a friend's boat on Lake Geneva which was an absolute blast!  We've also been taking advantage of the many summer festivals in Chicago.  Last weekend we went to Country Fest, where we were able to lay out in my new birthday hammock all day and enjoy the great weather and music.  Last weekend I also had my first trip to Ravinia, where we had a great night with Darius Rucker, Rodney Atkins, and Jana Kramer.  I had the best night singing, dancing and picnicing!

Shanghai shrimp

The summer is only ramping up from here!  Soon I'll be headed on my last work trip of the summer (I hope) followed by a visit to my parent's house in NH.  I'm ready to get out on the lake and waterski, as well as spend lots of overdue time with family.  Once I get back, it will less than 2 weeks until our big trip! We're headed all over the Pacific Northwest and then flying down for a few days in San Diego to cap off the end to of the Monkey Scientist's last summer break.  I couldn't be more excited.  If you have any advice please share!

Shanghai shrimp

Hopefully between all of the travel and fun I'll have time to share another recipe with you soon.  In the meantime, this recipe was PERFECT for my crazy hectic lifestyle lately.  Aside from the produce, we had everything we needed in the house, which is always a plus for me.  Although the prep takes a little while, once the vegetables are chopped and the liquids are measured out, it doesn't take very long to come together.  Plus, the boys were happy because it made a LOT of food!  It was perfectly finished with a little watermelon for dessert, and I still had time to make Chipotle Brownies (man, does that post need to be updated) for the Mexican-themed party we're going to tonight!

Shanghai shrimp

Shanghai Shrimp
from Family Circle

1 7 ounce package rice stick noodles
3 tbsp canola or vegetable oil
3 tbsp low-sodium soy sauce (divided)
3 tbsp rice vinegar (divided)
1/4 plus 1/8 tsp salt
3/4 lb mini sweet peppers,tops trimmed, quartered
8 oz sugar snap peas
1 medium onion, thinly sliced
1 1/2 lb raw cleaned shrimp (thawed if frozen)
1/2 cup sweet chili sauce
2 tbsp fresh lemon juice
1 - 2 tsp Asian chili-garlic sauce (sambal oelek)

1. Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil. Add the rice noodles and cook for 3 minutes, then drain.
2. Heat 1 tbsp of oil in a large wok over medium high heat. Add the cooked rice noodles, 1 tbsp of soy sauce, and 1 tbsp of rice vinegar. Cook, stirring frequently, for 2-3 minutes or until the noodles just start to brown from the heat and the sauce is evenly distributed.  Remove the noodles from the wok onto a large platter.
3. Add the remaining 2 tbsp of oil to the wok and heat over medium high heat.  Add the sweet peppers, sugar snap peas, and onion to the wok and cook, stirring frequently, for 5 minutes or until the onions just start to soften.  Add the shrimp and 1/8 tsp salt. Cook, stirring, for an additional 4 minutes or so, until the shrimp are opaque.  Whisk together 2 tbsp soy sauce, 2 tbsp rice wine vinegar, the sweet chili sauce, lemon juice, and chili-garlic sauce, then add to the wok and cook for an additional 1 minute.
4. Pour the vegetable and shrimp mixture over the noodles, with all of the sauce in the pan, and serve.