NEW YEAR’S RESOLUTION UPDATE: MAKING SWEET AND SOUR WATERMELON CHICKEN

January 30th, 2015 by The Watermelon Guy

My 2015 New Year’s Resolution is simple — to prepare more meals using watermelon as a key ingredient. I plan to do exactly that (one recipe each month), and post the results of my efforts here on the blog.

My first watermelon dish is Sweet and Sour Watermelon Chicken (check out the recipe here). The meal is relatively simple — I didn’t want to overwork myself with my first attempt — and involves a homemade sweet and sour sauce poured over some chicken and watermelon.

How did it turn out? Check out the recap below for the answer. If anyone has any ideas for watermelon recipes that you’d like me to try out in next month’s New Year’s Resolution update, leave a comment!

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The star of this recipe is the diced watermelon, which can be mixed in with the sweet and sour sauce or just sprinkled on top of the dish.

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After you sauté one onion and one red pepper, you’ll add your sweet and sour sauce. I actually couldn’t find sweet and sour sauce, so I used General Tso’s sauce. It’s almost the same thing, but just a little spicier.

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The chicken tenders are the blank canvas for this dish. You can buy your own chicken tenders in the raw, uncooked chicken and bread them to make your own, or you can buy frozen tenders. I bought the frozen kind. If you buy frozen tenders, get ones that aren’t heavily flavored with a lot of crispy breading. You don’t want that flavor to interfere with the watermelon and sweet and sour sauce that you’ll be adding later.

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After your tenders are cooked, top them with your sweet and sour sauce and throw some diced watermelon on there. You can even add some toasted sesame seeds, like I did. You don’t have to add the sesame seeds, but I highly recommend it. Overall, this dish tasted amazing, and the watermelon added a little crunchy sweetness, which helped take the meal to a whole new level.

For more recipes using watermelon, check out the “Recipes” section
of the National Watermelon Promotion Board website.

UP NEXT: TBD

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SIX QUESTIONS WITH A WATERMELON CARVER: RYAN ALLISON

January 27th, 2015 by The Watermelon Guy

The highlight of our annual watermelon carving contest — besides the chance to see some incredible carvings — is getting to know some of the talented folks behind those carvings. Until now, I’ve only known them via the emails they send to me when they submit their entry.

In this new monthly blog entry, I’m going to get to know a few of our carving contest entrants a little better by asking them six questions about themselves and their love of watermelon. First up is one of our most memorable watermelon carvers, Ryan Allison. pic

Ryan is a 21-year-old chef from Spokane, Washington. In addition to being a chef at a golf and country club, he’s also started a fruit-carving company called The Garnish Guy.

He’s one of the most prolific carvers in each of the last two carving contests, and he’s also one of most entertaining. One of the requirements for each entry is that the carver must submit a photo of himself or herself with his or her carving. Ryan happily obliges, but he takes the watermelon selfie to a new level, as you can see from the examples above.

Here’s what Ryan had to say in our first of many “Six Questions with a Watermelon Carver” interviews:

TELL US A LITTLE ABOUT YOURSELF. WHEN YOU’RE NOT CARVING WATERMELON, WHAT DO YOU LIKE TO DO?

When not carving watermelon, I enjoy any number of other artistic activities, but I am self-taught in almost everything I do. I like to work with clay and I’m currently working on a tapestry. I also dabble in guitar and have literally just started learning the violin. In my free time, I like to learn new things, because learning new things keeps life from being boing and repetitive, and I am always up for trying new things!

WHAT INSPIRED YOU TO START CARVING WATERMELON?

When I was just starting culinary school, a picture of a tiger carved out of watermelon was circling around the internet. Everyone LOVED that tiger, including me, so I took it upon myself to learn another new hobby.

I had no idea what I was doing, so, like any self-taught hobbyist, I Googled it. It was terrible. Then a couple of years ago, I was at a chefs’ convention and met Chef Ray Duey. He taught me the basics in a three day weekend and the rest was up to me. Since then, I have carved for weddings, baby showers, birthdays, and I even raised $500 for a children’s hospital with one of my carvings.

WHAT SORT OF CARVINGS DO YOU LIKE TO CREATE?

I like to create sculpture-type carvings. Don’t get me wrong, I can carve some fantastic flowers, but I like being able to take a piece of watermelon and turn it into someone’s favorite cartoon character, or favorite animal, or anything else that they want. The best feeling is when someone gives you a challenge and you blow their mind.

WHAT’S BEEN YOUR MOST MEMORABLE WATERMELON CARVING?

My most memorable carving (below) was one I did for a friend of mine. He commissioned me to do a carving for his wedding to surprise his then fiancé. We spent an entire year going over the details and he changed his mind a good 30 times before I finally had to take over. The carving had everything he wanted. When he saw it, he cried, his wife cried, and his mother cried. You don’t get that sort of reaction every day.

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WHEN IT COMES TO EATING WATERMELON, DO YOU PREFER CHUNKS OR WEDGES?

Wedges all the way! Wedges have everything you could ask for in a piece of food. It has a handle, all the meat is in one place, and it looks like a slice of pizza!

WHAT’S NEXT FOR YOU AS A CARVER? WHAT WILL YOU BE CARVING THIS YEAR?

I have a wedding lined up, but as far as the contest, you’ll just have to wait and see. I don’t want to give the competition an edge!

UP NEXT: My first New Year’s Resolution recipe attempt!

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RECIPE: WATERMELON BENEDICT

January 23rd, 2015 by The Watermelon Guy

According to some folks, there aren’t many breakfast foods that are as easy and simply delicious as Eggs Benedict. Most people love the dish for the hollandaise sauce, which is a rich, creamy mixture of egg yolk and butter. I, on the other hand, am not a big fan of egg yolks, which is why I’ve always steered clear of eggs benedict when I’ve spotted it on a menu.

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Watermelon Benedict, on the other hand, is something I’d definitely try. Mainly because it uses lemon yogurt instead of egg yolks. And it uses watermelon. So, really, I have no reason NOT to love this breakfast!

WATERMELON BENEDICT

INGREDIENTS:

1-1/2 cups low-fat granola of choice
1/3 cup honey at room temperature
4-6 circles seedless watermelon (3” round and ¾” thick)
4-6 slices peeled kiwi fruit (1/2” thick)
1 cup low or non-fat creamy lemon yogurt
2-3 pieces purple grapes, halved, seeded, for garnish

INSTRUCTIONS:

Mix the granola with the honey by drizzling the honey evenly over the granola as you stir. On a serving plate, make 3-inch circles of granola in even thickness, dividing the granola/honey mixture evenly among the servings. Top each of the granola circles with a watermelon slice and place a slice of kiwi on each watermelon circle. Spoon the yogurt over the kiwi and watermelon as though it were hollandaise sauce on Eggs Benedict. Top each Watermelon Benedict with a grape half; skin side up as a garnish reminiscent of the olive slice on Eggs Benedict. Serves 4-6.

For more recipes using watermelon, check out the “Recipes” section
of the National Watermelon Promotion Board website.

UP NEXT: Six questions with a watermelon carver

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QUOTEABLE WATERMELON: THE PERFECT DIET

January 21st, 2015 by The Watermelon Guy

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We’ve all heard the anonymous quote above, and I realize my watermelon edits rob it of some of its play-on-words humor, but I like the idea of a watermelon diet, so I’m sticking with it.

Of course, a diet consisting solely of watermelon isn’t something I’d recommend. While it might be delicious for a day or two, watermelon is best when it’s part of a larger, balanced diet. Check out dietician Elizabeth Somer’s article on the health benefits of watermelon or my own blog entry about the nutritional benefits of watermelon.

Another reason I wouldn’t recommend eating only watermelon for an extended period of time is that you run the risk of getting tired of it. I know, it sounds crazy, right? Getting tired of watermelon? But it can happen, and I don’t want it to happen to you.

I remember when I was a kid, my brother and I would go through phases in which we couldn’t get enough of certain foods. One particular craving I remember well was yogurt. Specifically, the single-serve yogurt with the fruit in the bottom of the cup. It drove my mother crazy, so she gave in to our cravings by buying entire cases of yogurt and telling us that we could eat as much as we wanted.

So, we did. Two yogurts for breakfast, one after lunch, two more for an afternoon snack, one or two for dessert after dinner. It wasn’t long — probably about a week— before my brother and I had satisfied our yogurt craving and wanted nothing to do with the treat for a long, long time.

And that burnout is probably the final reason why I don’t recommend an all-watermelon diet. It’s hard to imagine getting tired of watermelon, but it might happen, and that’s definitely not a good thing.

Image via

UP NEXT: A breakfast recipe with a twist

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SECOND SLICE: HOW TO CARVE A WATERMELON FOOTBALL HELMET

January 19th, 2015 by The Watermelon Guy

With a certain championship football game coming up, I thought it would be a good time to dust off this old blog entry and repost it as a “Second Slice.” The finished carving makes a nice serving dish for whatever snacks you might have at your big game party!

I’ve written in the past about how fans of a certain professional football team in Canada have made a tradition of wearing watermelon helmets on game day. The team has no known connections to watermelon, although the team color is a very watermelon-like shade of green, so I’m not really sure what sparked this practice. Probably a mixture of alcohol and boredom.

I’m not suggesting that anyone wear a watermelon helmet during the upcoming “big game” on February 1, but I would like to offer the following step-by-step guide to carving your own watermelon helmet (adapted from the instructions on the National Watermelon Promotion Board website). Unlike the fans’ helmets, this one isn’t for your head; it’s for filling with fruit salad. It’ll be empty by halftime, though, so what you do with it after that is completely up to you.pic

MATERIALS NEEDED

Large carving knife
Small paring knife
Large spoon
Small spoon
Potato peeler

picSTEP 1 – Using a round watermelon, slice off a piece approximately four inches from the stem. Set this piece aside to create the facemask later. Although you can’t tell from this photo, the watermelon I used was one of those small volleyball-sized personal watermelons (those aren’t dinner plates). I’d recommend using a larger watermelon — something closer to the size of an actual football helmet — if you can find one this time of the year.

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STEP 2 – Make a curved cut from one side of the melon to the other to create the face portion of the helmet. Hollow out the entire melon. I used an ice cream scoop to get most of the red stuff out and then used a regular spoon to scrape the inside down to the white rind (that part took a little while). As you can see, my mini watermelon yielded quite a bit of juicy goodness. There was actually a lot more, but I ate it while I was scooping it out.

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STEP 3 – To make the mouth guard part of the helmet, take the piece that was set aside in step #1 and place it cut side down. Position the knife at the center of the stem end and cut it in half. Remove flesh. Then cut the top part (the stem part) off of that section so it lies flat when you put it in the helmet.

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STEP 4 – Carve the mouthpiece with a small paring knife and use a potato peeler to shave off the green skin. To assemble, place mouth piece on a plate. Place the helmet piece on top, pushing the ends of the facemask towards the inside of the helmet. Use toothpicks to keep the mouth guard in place, if you need to. Fill with fruit salad, crab dip or your head.

UP NEXT: Watermelon as the perfect diet?

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TEST YOUR WATERMELON KNOWLEDGE WITH THIS CROSSWORD PUZZLE!

January 15th, 2015 by The Watermelon Guy

I’m not a big fan of cold weather, which means I spend much of the winter huddled up in the warmth of my home, counting the days until spring. How I pass my time during those chilly days varies, but it usually involves reading, watching movies and playing Chutes & Ladders and dress-up with my daughter.

I also enjoy a good crossword puzzle now and then. With that in mind, I’ve created the watermelon crossword below. Feel free to test your watermelon knowledge (and avoid the arctic chill of winter) by giving it your best shot. I tried to make it relatively easy, but I mixed in some tougher answers as well. Leave a comment with the answer (or answers) that stumped you the most!

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ACROSS

2. Underside spot color
5. Watermelon relative
8. Watermelon royalty title
9. Top watermelon-growing state
10. Popular watermelon cut
11. Here, watermelon is given as a gift to hosts
12. Watermelon without spitting projectiles
15. National Watermelon Promotion Board abbreviation
16. Host town of annual World Championship Seed Spitting Contest
17. World’s #1 producer of watermelon

DOWN
1. Important insect in growing process
3. Official name: Citrullus ________
4. 92 percent of watermelon
5. Early explorers used them as this water-holding vessel
6. Commonly pickled part
7. Exterior hue
10. Important pre-cutting step
11. ___ Slice: Watermelon board mascot
13. Pigment that gives watermelon its red color
14. One of three key growing ingredients

 

UP NEXT: How to carve a watermelon football helmet

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CAPTION THIS PHOTO: YOU ARE WHAT YOU EAT?

January 13th, 2015 by The Watermelon Guy

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Here on the Watermelon blog, I’d like to think I’ve seen, tasted and experienced all things watermelon. While some things I’ve witnessed have been downright outrageous, I have yet to see a watermelon-animal hybrid … until today.

There are a handful of species of rhino, but I’m not sure you’ll find this striped fellow grazing anywhere. As for what you might call this beast, I’ll admit that I am completely stumped. A water-rhino? A rhino-melon? Leave a comment below of your best caption for this picture. And remember: Every comment on the blog this month is an entry to win our January prize — the watermelon oven mitts!

UP NEXT: A watermelon crossword puzzle 

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RECIPE: ROCK LOBSTER AND WATERMELON TACOS

January 9th, 2015 by The Watermelon Guy

Who says lobster tacos are only for summer? With this delicious new spin on the fish taco craze, these Jamaican Rock Lobster Tacos are a must-have all year round. Perhaps your New Year’s Resolution is to cook with more watermelon or establish healthier eating habits. If so, you’re in luck with this recipe.

Lobster, among other shellfish, is reported to be a healthy way to consume protein and other important nutrients. Rich in omega-3 fatty acids, this helps to lower the risk of heart disease. It’s also low in calories and fat and contains high levels of Vitamins A and B.

Not that you needed yet another reason to dig into these tacos. You know, other than that fact that they contain lobster and watermelon.

JAMAICAN ROCK LOBSTER TACOS

INGREDIENTS: pic

2 cups watermelon, cut into ½ inch cubes

4 tails rock lobster tails, cooked

2 avocados, peeled, cut into ½ inch cubes

2 papayas, cut into ½ inch cubes

½ cup cilantro, fresh, coarsely chopped

½ cup fresh lime juice

1 tablespoon jerk seasoning

1 dash salt and pepper to taste

1 head iceberg lettuce

1 ounce shredded coconut

INSTRUCTIONS:

Cut tails in half lengthwise, remove vein, cut into ½-inch slices. Combine lobster with watermelon, avocado, papaya and cilantro. Pour lime juice into small bowl and slowly whisk in. Pour over lobster mixture and refrigerate one hour, stirring occasionally. Place in soft taco shells on a bed of shredded lettuce. Sprinkle with coconut.

For more recipes using watermelon, check out the “Recipes” section of the National Watermelon Promotion Board website.

UP NEXT: A wild “Caption this Photo” challenge

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ON THE ROAD AGAIN: FOUR PHOTOS OF CARS AND WATERMELON

January 5th, 2015 by The Watermelon Guy

Pretty sure I mentioned this before, but when I got out of the Navy several years ago, I loaded everything I owned into the back of my old Monte Carlo for the six-hour drive from Connecticut to Pennsylvania. The car did a great job of hauling my possessions, but it’s hardly the first car to be overloaded with valuable cargo.

In my search online for vintage watermelon photos, I noticed several images of cars loaded with impossibly large quantities of watermelon. Only it wasn’t impossible. These cars were actually loaded with watermelon and, I’m assuming, driven somewhere to deliver that watermelon.

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This little yellow hatchback couldn’t possibly fit another watermelon inside of it. Unless, of course, you used the front passenger’s seat area, which I’m assuming has happened on more than one occasion.

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Not only does this car have about 30 watermelons in its trunk, but it’s got a stockpile in the backseat, too! And, just in case you need a little more room, it’s also got a roof rack. It’s got some bananas on it right now, but you know there’s been watermelon up there in the recent past.

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Alright. This does NOT look safe at all. Never mind the fact that watermelons can easily fall off the back of this truck (oh, the humanity!), but I’m pretty sure that’s a spare tire just sitting there on the roof.

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This half motorcycle, half truck is probably the hardest working three-wheel vehicle in the world. Unlike the truck image, this load is a little safer, thanks to some well-placed tape. Not much safer, mind you, but a little.

UP NEXT: A tasty taco recipe

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JANUARY PRIZE: THE WATERMELON OVEN MITT!

January 2nd, 2015 by The Watermelon Guy

Yesterday, I revealed my New Year’s Resolution — to prepare more meals using watermelon — so it’s only fitting that our first monthly prize of 2015 be something related to cooking. Based on the outcome of my recent attempt to conquer my resolution, it’s safe to say that this month’s prize would benefit watermelon lovers of all shapes and sizes — especially me.

Feeling the air of new possibilities and a new year upon me, I decided to dive right into my resolution. So, on the first morning of 2015, I shut myself up in the kitchen and began prepping my water-masterpiece, these delicious Watermelon Muffinspic

When the oven eventually chimed, I could smell the delicious aroma of a job well done. Proud that I had put a commendable chip in my New Year’s Resolution on the first day of the new year, I gathered my family in the kitchen.

“This is going to be great,” I boasted, “Now, if I could only find those pot holders…”

I searched cabinets and drawers high and low, but there were none to be found, so I had to use a hand towel. By this time, our dog had caught wind of the delicious treat cooking in the oven. Between the dog dancing under my feet and the pan burning through the towel, my clumsiness got the best of me.

As we all sat shocked and staring, the muffin pan crashed to the floor beside me. Even though my prized dish crumbled to the ground, my family and I had a great laugh about it. On behalf of my spill, I’m giving away a pair of the watermelon oven mitts you see above. With a set of two, your hard work won’t end up on the floor…like mine did.

UP NEXT: Riding in cars with watermelons

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