Watermelon Agua Fresca
       
Watermelon Agua Fresca

Watermelon Agua Fresca

This drink is the embodiment of summer! My original plan was to get the recipe up before July 4, but *coughs* I’m not sure what happened. I’ll go ahead and blame it on Congress. Anyway, if you love watermelon and fruity beverages, then look no further.

This recipe is adapted from Cooking Light’s  “Minted Lemon-Lime Watermelon Agua Fresca” recipe that appears in the June 2011 issue.

Watermelon Agua Fresca

Ingredients

  • 3/4 cup water
  • 1/4 cup sugar, granulated
  • 2 tbs coarsely chopped mint leaves
  • 1 tsp grated lime rind
  • 1 tsp grated lemon rind
  • 6 cups cubed, seedless watermelon
  • 1/8 cup fresh lime juice
  • 1 tbs fresh lemon juice

Instructions

  1. Combine the water and sugar in a small saucepan; bring to a boil. Cook until the sugar dissolves (approximately 30 seconds), stirring frequently, and remove from heat.
  2. Add the mint, lime rind, and lemon rind. Let the mixture steep for 20 minutes. Strain through a fine mesh sieve or cheesecloth over a bowl, and discard the solids.
  3. Place the sugar syrup and watermelon in a blender, and process until smooth. (Be mindful of your blender\'s liquid limits; process in batches if necessary.)
  4. Stir in lime and lemon juice. Refrigerate until ready to serve, or pour over ice if serving immediately.




Strawberry-Rhubarb Crumble
       

This Strawberry Rhubarb Crumble is the perfect fruity dessert for summer with a wonderful balance of sweet and tart flavors! The crumble topping adds an irresistible crunch, and the whole thing can be prepared ahead of time, refrigerated, and baked when you are ready to serve.

Strawberry-Rhubarb Crumble

Prep Time: 15 minutes

Cook Time: 35 minutes

Total Time: 50 minutes

Yield: 4-6 servings

Ingredients

  • 1 carton Fresh strawberries, sliced (about 2 cups)
  • 2-3 stalks Fresh rhubarb, cut into 1-inch chunks (about 2 cups)
  • 1/2 cup granulated sugar
  • 1 tbs corn starch
  • 1/4 cup orange liqueur
  • 1 1/2 cups whole-wheat flour
  • 3/4 cups granola
  • 1/2 cup raw, or turbinado, sugar
  • 1 tsp cinnamon
  • 1/8 tsp salt
  • 10 Tbsp unsalted butter, cut into 1/4-inch cubes
  • 1 egg

Instructions

  1. First, preheat the oven to 325 degrees F.
  2. Combine the first five ingredients (strawberries, rhubarb, granulated sugar, corn starch, orange liqueur) in a large bowl. Pour into a greased 9-inch pie pan or any combination of equivalently sized baking dishes.
  3. Combine the flour, granola, turbinado sugar, cinnamon, and salt in another large mixing bowl with a pastry cutter (or your hands, or a food processor) until crumbly.
  4. Add the egg, and combine. Spoon onto the fruit mixture. Bake for approximately 35 minutes, or until the fruit mixture is bubbly and the topping is golden brown.

Yum, strawberries. I am so excited for this time of year, when delicious fresh fruits and veggies are abundant! I also can’t wait to check out our local farmer’s market, which starts this weekend (I think).

(The plastic containers make great vessels for starting seeds if you’re into gardening!)

(It was a massacre! No one survived, not even the strawberries!) Sorry. I had to take this photo. I know, I’m warped.

Fresh rhubarb is beautiful! This was the first time I had actually used it. The rhubarb in my memory comes from a very tart strawberry-rhubarb pie that my grandpa bought me as a kid when he actually meant to buy a sweet strawberry pie (or was it cherry? I can’t remember — I just remember that the taste of rhubarb was shocking to a ~6-year-old’s tastebuds).

Okay. I’ll try to focus and actually give you the instructions/photo captions. Begin by preheating the oven to 325 degrees F.

Combine the first five ingredients (strawberries, rhubarb, granulated sugar, corn starch, orange liqueur) in a large bowl.

Pour into a greased 9-inch pie pan or any combination of equivalently-sized baking dishes.

Combine the flour, granola, turbinado sugar, cinnamon, and salt in another large mixing bowl with a pastry cutter (or your hands, or a food processor) until crumbly.

Look Ma, whole-wheat flour! It sorta makes up for the addition of all that butter, right? Sorta….

(This is “crumbly.”)

Add the egg, and combine. Spoon onto the fruit mixture.

Bake for approximately 35 minutes, or until the fruit mixture is bubbly and the topping is golden brown. Like that ^. MMMMmmmm. Dig right into the baking dish if you want to, or serve with some vanilla ice cream.

 




Tzatziki Recipe and a Product Review
       

Today’s gluten-free Tzatziki recipe and product review is in celebration  of May, Celiac Awareness Month. For anyone who is unaware, Celiac Disease is a disease that affects the digestive system. The consumption of glutens, most commonly found in wheats, ryes, and barley, aggravates the condition to such an extent that disease sufferers are required to eliminate 100% of glutens from their diet. Wheat products are a rather pervasive ingredient in many of the foods available in Western cultures, and gluten-free products have only recently begun to appear on store shelves. This is why I am happy to introduce to you the product I am reviewing, Crunchmaster gluten-free multi-grain and multi-seed crackers!

From left to right: Original, Toasted Onion, Sea Salt, Rosemary & Olive Oil, Roasted Garlic

To test even further, I employed my husband’s “help” in tasting each cracker. We tried each flavor plain and dipped in the Tzatziki I made for the occasion.

First of all, I will say that the brand “Crunchmaster” is extraordinarily appropriate, because these are the crunchiest crackers I’ve ever eaten. I love the texture – they are very strong and would stand up to dipping in a heavier dip or spread. Perhaps if we were in Soviet Russia, cracker would eat you.

Anyway… the main ingredients in these crackers include brown rice flour, sesame seeds, potato starch, and quinoa seeds. They are relatively low in fat, containing only 3-5 grams per serving of 14 crackers. They are also low in sodium and saturated fat, and are free of cholesterol. It’s worth noting that all of the multi-seed varieties I tried boast that they are 100% whole grain, which I can appreciate, because I am always annoyed to buy a product that appears to be whole-grain only to later realize it contains a smaller percentage (a rant for another day). The multi-grain variety I tried, the Sea Salt flavor,  still contains 22g or more of whole grains per serving, which is certainly nothing to sneeze at.

Onward to the flavor analysis.

I want to start out by saying that I am munching on the Toasted Onion variety right now. This was my favorite flavor of the lot. My husband said that he liked them “a lot,” which is a triumph, because he does not generally like the flavor of onion by itself. The Toasted Onion crackers are dusted with a light coating of toasted onion seasoning, which seems to largely include a yummy mix of onion powder and salt. The Toasted Onion flavor was certainly my pick for eating plain.

My husband’s favorite flavor, on the other hand, was the Sea Salt multi-grain crackers. I chose these as my second-favorite overall, and favorite for dipping with the Tzatziki, and I think they are a good neutral all-purpose cracker. They are pleasantly salty.

My third overall favorite was a tie between the Rosemary & Olive Oil flavor and the Roasted Garlic flavor. I really wanted to love the Rosemary crackers more, because rosemary is probably my favorite herb. Unfortunately the Rosemary crackers did not have the intense rosemary flavor that I expected; it was much more understated. Tasty nonetheless, just not what I was expecting.

The Roasted Garlic crackers were also good, but the seasoning was not as intense as the Toasted Onion variety, so they did not rank as high for me. However, the Roasted Garlic flavor was fantastic with the Tzatziki! Nearly as good as the Sea Salt crackers.

The only variety out of the five that I would not find myself eating regularly was the Original flavor. If you love the flavor of sesame seeds, you will love these. Unfortunately, I was not a big fan. I was expecting a more neutral “Original” flavor, but the sesame flavor was just too much for me.

Overall, I will say that Crunchmaster crackers are worth giving a try, especially if you are on a gluten-free diet! These crackers would be great for serving with a variety of dips or spreads. For some inspiration, check out my cheese ball recipe or check out the Tzatziki recipe I am about to share with you!

Tzatziki

Ingredients

  • 3 small cucumbers (or 1 English cucumber)
  • 2 tsp salt
  • 1 1/3 cups plain Greek yogurt
  • 2 1/2 Tbs Olive Oil
  • 1/2 tsp freshly-squeezed lemon juice
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1/4 tsp black pepper, freshly-grated
  • 1/4 cup finely chopped parsley leaves
  • 2 tbs finely chopped mint leaves

Instructions

  1. First, peel the cucumber. Remove the seeds by halving it lengthwise and running a spoon down the middle to scoop out the seeds. Slice each cucumber half in half lengthwise again, then dice into 1/4-inch cubes.
  2. Place the chopped cucumber in a dish lined with paper towels. Sprinkle with salt. Place in the refrigerator to drain a bit while you prepare the rest of the Tzatziki.
  3. Combine the remaining ingredients (yogurt, olive oil, lemon juice, garlic, black pepper, parsley, and mint) in a bowl. Stir.
  4. Remove the cucumbers from the fridge. Use additional paper towels to squeeze moisture from the cucumbers. Repeat the process a couple of times until a reasonable amount of moisture has been removed from the cucumbers.
  5. Add the chopped cucumber to the yogurt mixture, and stir to combine. Cover and refrigerate for an hour before serving to allow the flavors to fully develop.
  6. This Tzatziki can be stored in an air-tight container for 4-5 days.

First, peel the cucumber. Remove the seeds by halving it lengthwise and running a spoon down the middle to scoop out the seeds…

Like so. Miss a few seeds? It’s alright. The Tzatziki police are off on Sundays.

Slice each cucumber half in half lengthwise again, then…

Dice into 1/4-inch cubes. Place the chopped cucumber in a dish lined with paper towels. Sprinkle with salt. Place in the refrigerator to drain a bit while you prepare the rest of the Tzatziki.

(Chop your mint, parsley, and garlic at this point if you haven’t already.)

I love you, Greek yogurt! I use this brand, because it has the least sugar of all the brands available at my local grocery store. Also, because it’s yummy.

Combine the remaining ingredients (yogurt, olive oil, lemon juice, garlic, black pepper, parsley, and mint) in a bowl. Stir.

Remove the cucumbers from the fridge. Use additional paper towels to squeeze moisture from the cucumbers. Repeat the process a couple of times until a reasonable amount of moisture has been removed from the cucumbers. What’s reasonable? That’s up to you, my OCD friends.

Add the chopped cucumber to the yogurt mixture, and stir to combine. Cover and refrigerate for an hour before serving to allow the flavors to fully develop.

Cool and refreshing!

This Tzatziki can be stored in an air-tight container for 4-5 days. Enjoy! :)

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