Monday, August 20, 2012

"What Can I Bring?"

We invited our niece and her Dad over for dinner.  Demonstrating that a) she knows Aunt Steph loves when she says that and b) this process is easier now that we have matching Girl Scout cookbooks, Cutie asked what she could make.

Usually I prefer to do the food myself - when I invite folks over, it's to have fun and great conversation

[Note: This rule is suspended for holidays, in which case you are welcome to bring a stuffed turkey, squash casserole for 12, or the pumpkin cheesecake that I can never get quite right but maybe you have a knack for it... ?]

But when the offer is from a kid who's going places with this "cooking" thing, it's a yes.  Always.

Since we were having grilled chicken I flipped through the award-winning, on-all-the-talk-shows Girl Scout cookbook and picked out a few side dish recipes for her to choose from.

The watermelon salad was fabulous, and she did an A+ job on presentation.  It could easily have been on a magazine cover as an example of summer yumminess - broad lettuce leaves lining the platter, watermelon and onion as the next layer, and feta cheese scattered prettily on top. 

But even better was hearing all about how her year in sixth grade is shaping up.  I sometimes can't believe how lucky I am to have two nieces and three nephews with such sweet, vibrant, funny personalities.

And that's worth saying a blessing over.

Watermelon Salad with Balsamic Vinaigrette
Carleigh & Lorrie, local Scout troop fundraising cookbook

Balsamic Vinaigrette (note:  this makes a lot.  When I make this I'm going to halve the dressing quantities).

1/2 cup balsamic vinegar
1/4 cup canola oil and 1/4 cup olive oil
1 Tablespoon Dijon mustard
1 Tablespoon honey
1 clove garlic, minced
salt & pepper to taste

Mix all, refrigerate until ready to serve.

1 medium seedless watermelon, cubed
1 red onion, thinly sliced
3/4 cup fresh mint, chopped (torn, or snipped with kitchen scissors, will work if a young cook doesn't use sharp knives yet)
8 ounces feta cheese, crumbled
[Cutie arranged all of this on a bed of dark green lettuce leaves.  Deelish!]

In a large bowl or serving platter combine watermelon, onion, mint and cheese.  Season with pepper.  Pour dressing over salad, or pass dressing at the table.