Watermelon & Lime Popsicles

It is hot. Like, bad hot. While it’s still technically “Spring”, it’s been Summer weather here in Sunny Florida for a while. We are constantly trying to beat the heat. I made a fun, healthy treat this week that was both delicious and heat-beating (yes, that’s a thing). Watermelon Lime Popsicles! You need only a few ingredients, and one special tool (maybe two).

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Watermelon Lime Popsicles

Watermelon juice

1 lime

microplane

Popsicle bags (I found mine at World Market)

Cut up a watermelon (you can use whatever size you want) and puree it. Strain it. I kept the pulp and ate it, as a snack, with Tajín (a Mexican spice mix of chile, salt, and lime). Wash the lime. Zest it into your watermelon juice container. Cut the lime open and squeeze the juice from both halves into the same container. Stir the liquid and zest. Use a funnel or a measuring cup to fill popsicle bags. Once sealed, place in the freezer for several hours.

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These were insanely good. You could see the beautiful lime zest in the gorgeous watermelon juice. The taste was out of this world.

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I had only made four (using the leftover watermelon juice from my Watermelon Cupcakes) and my boys keep asking me to make them.

Enjoy!

Kristin

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Watermelon Cupcakes

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It’s safe to say I have a lot of obsessions things I’m really into – donuts, flamingos, buttercream frosting, watermelon, the Giant Squid, vintage anything, shoes, matching my boys to each other and also to me, hair dye, thrift stores. I know what I like. And apparently, it’s a bunch of weird and varied things, and I realize that now as I’m typing it out.

Welp, today, we are going to talk watermelons. They are such a fun fruit. I love their colors. I love their sweetness. I love how I can eat a whole melon for a meal and feel super full. I love how they smell. It might just be the raddest mainstream fruit.

You you what else is rad? Mixing watermelons and cupcakes together.

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Oh, yes, boy.

I’ve made watermelon cupcakes before. From a box. They were really yummy and tasted like Jolly Ranchers (which totally make you feel like you’re teeth are being ripped out, one by one, but also it’s totally worth it). But today, I wanted to try another version, one that used real watermelon in the recipe. I also used LorAnn watermelon oil (I found mine on Amazon) to pony up the watermelon flavor. Watermelon Jell-O might also work.

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These cupcakes came out incredibly tender, full of watermelon flavor, and adorable. They would be a perfect addition for a Memorial Day or Fourth of July party. Or for a simple Summer day.

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I used a white cake mix for this recipe because I happened to have one on hand (I keep a few stocked, when I see them on $1 sales at the grocery store), but your favorite standard homemade white cake mix recipe would work well here. If you have a few minutes to spare, sift your cake mix prior to adding the other ingredients. l almost always sift dry ingredients when baking, and especially with boxed mixes. I do this, because I find that if I don’t, the batter is terribly lumpy, and the lumps show up in the finished product. Sifting also makes for an incredibly tender crumb, once baked.

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Watermelon Cupcakes

Recipe adapted from: Mix and Match Mama
Makes: 24 standard cupcakes or 12 standard + 24 mini cupcakes
For the cupcakes:
1 box of white cake mix
1 1/4 C pureed watermelon, divided
1/2 C oil (vegetable or canola)
4 egg whites (or 12 T liquid egg whites)
1/2 dram LorAnn watermelon oil
*a few drops of pink or red food coloring is optional. if you choose not to use this, as I have, your cupcakes will turn out peachy colored.*
Preheat your oven to 350F. Line your cupcake tins and set aside.
Puree your watermelon. Set aside.
Sift your cake mix into a medium or large bowl. Add one cup of watermelon puree, oil (I used canola), egg whites, and LorAnn watermelon oil. Mix until just combined. If you are using food coloring, add it now. Be careful not to overmix.
Pour batter into your prepared cupcake tins and bake for 18 – 21 minutes. Mine took 18 and I rotated the pans halfway through. Cool for 10 minutes and then transfer the cupcakes to a wire rack to cool completely.
For the frosting:
1/2 C unsalted butter, softened
2 C powdered sugar
remaining watermelon puree (1/4 C)
1/2 dram LorAnn watermelon oil
Few drops of pink food coloring
Sprinkles, optional (I found watermelon colored and flavored sprinkles at Publix)
While the cupcakes are cooling, beat butter, remaining watermelon puree, LorAnn watermelon oil, and powdered sugar until combined. Add more watermelon puree or more sugar, if the icing is too thick or too thin, respectively (I actually needed quite a bit more powdered sugar). Beat in food coloring. Frost and decorate your cooled cupcakes.
Store in refrigerator.
Enjoy!
Kristin
Happy Memorial Day! Please remember to thank a Vet or current Military Serviceman or Woman. These incredible, brave souls are such a big reason we enjoy our freedom.

The Last Day of VPK for 2015

Tomorrow is my Bigs’ last day of VPK. I am in denial. He’ll be in Kindergarten next year. That’s like “big boy” status.

Cue ugly crying.

Bigs’ class pet this year was a flamingo, appropriately named “Mingo”. He spent many nights with us, as he did with all the classmates. He was very loved. It was absolutely fitting that the class pet was a flamingo. It’s always been, um, my spirit animal. If there is such a thing. So I really enjoyed the flamingo theme this year. I made a few flamingo lunches this year, as well (here and here). So for his very last VPK school lunch, I felt that Mingo needed his due course.

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I made a “Mingo” shaped PB&J. I also packed a pluot, TJ’s organic PB crackers, red grapes, and yellow watermelon. I didn’t pack a dessert, since we’ll be having an ice cream party tomorrow. I used flamingo cupcake picks and added a palm tree (that I acquired through a bakery cake at some point).

Long live Mingo.

And for my Smalls, who is also having his last day of Mom’s Morning Out…

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…he’ll be in the “3’s” next year. Sniff. I made two little ice cream cone shaped PB&J sandwiches. I added details with my Food Writers. I also packed PB crackers, yellow watermelon, and one homemade chocolate chip/sprinkle/M&M cookie, cut into fourths.

I made those cookies yesterday to deliver to the boys’ school staff, as a thank you. They were really easy to make and used whole wheat flour.

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Whole Wheat Chocolate Chip Sprinkle M&M Cookies

Adapted from: Weelicious

1 C AP flour

1¼ C whole wheat flour

1 t baking soda

½ t salt

1 C butter, room temperature

1 C brown sugar, packed

½ C granulated sugar

2 eggs

1 T vanilla

1 C semisweet chocolate chips

1 C M&Ms

1/2 C colored jimmies

Preheat oven to 375F. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper or a Silpat and set aside.

Whisk together both flours, baking soda and salt. In another bowl (or the bowl of a stand mixer), cream butter and both sugars together for 3 minutes. Add in eggs and vanilla and beat until smooth. Gradually add in dry ingredients. Do not overmix. Stir in chocolate chips, M&Ms, and sprinkles.

Drop dough onto your prepared baking sheet and bake for 7-10 minutes. Cool on a wire rack.

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Enjoy! Summer is here!!

Kristin

Circus Week – Elephant VPK School Lunch

For tomorrow’s lunch, I thought I’d go for an elephant theme. And then I started thinking about the movie, “Water for Elephants” and I got really sad. But it had a good ending. So I’m less sad.

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I made an elephant shaped PB&J sandwich. I also packed an aprium (those things are SO good!!), some pretzels, watermelon, two iced animal crackers, a few chocolate animal crackers, and an organic yogurt sqeeze.

Kristin

The ants go marching two by two, hurrah!

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I love picnics. There is something so fun and special about eating outside, in the fresh air. Sure you have to find a way to pack up the food and take the time to set it up (and clean it up!), the wind blows your picnic blanket away, there are flies and ants to contend with, birds get a little uncomfortably close, eying your food, and the sun can glare down on you in such a way, causing you to squint as you enjoy your food al fresco.

Picnics are awesome.

This post isn’t about a recent picnic, but it IS about a classic picnic themed lunch I made Bigs for school tomorrow.

Classic Picnic

I packed him some cold fried chicken tenders (Publix – only the best for my child), a cheese stick, some red grapes and watermelon, and some little bear shaped cookies for dessert (for some reason, bears and picnics go together in my head). I think he’ll like it. I asked him if he’d eat cold fried chicken and he said no. I said I’d put a large ice pack in his lunchbox to keep it cold and he, very excitedly, agreed to the cold chicken. A little friend in his class had an ice pack in his lunch and Bigs has made mention of wanting the same in his lunchbox. It’s the little things.

Here’s to hoping we jaded adults can find joy in the little things…like ice packs in our lunches and eating outside.

Kristin