memorial day picnic!

It may not be hot and sunny where you live, but it sure is in Florida aka perfect! (almost) headquarters, so this light, fresh meal is perfect for a Memorial Day picnic in the park, on the beach, or poolside. Even if your climate is less than ideal, you can transport yourself to summer by making this meal and watching Bikini Beach while slurping on a boozy slushie. BOOZY SLUSHIE, y’all!

In case you didn’t just experience a Jerry Maguire-esque, “You had me at boozy slushie,” moment, you are dead to me here is some extra motivation: even though this meal looks fancy AF, it is actually very easy to make.

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The makings of a Spicy Tequila Slushie. Be still my heart.

Spicy Tequila Slushie

Ingredients (serves 6)

1 cup tequila, such as Patron Silver brand

2 bottles (24 oz.) ginger beer, such as Reed’s brand

juice of one orange (about 5 oz.)

1 lime, cut into wedges for garnish

Directions

Place all ingredients in a medium mixing bowl and stir to combine. Cover with plastic wrap and put in the freezer for at least 3 to 4 hours. If you want to speed up the freezing time, pour slushie mixture into a large, shallow container, then cover and freeze.

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Pulp from the freshly squeezed orange adds texture to the Spicy Tequila Slushie mixture.

After several hours, check to see if slushie mixture appears mostly solid. If so, it is ready to serve.

Using a wooden spoon, gently break apart the frozen portion of the slushie mixture and pour one ladle into each glass. Serve with a wedge of lime and cute straw.

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In general, it is best to buy the freshest seafood you have access to, and especially when making ceviche.

Scallop Ceviche with Aguachile (adapted from this Food & Wine recipe)

Ingredients (serves 6)

1 lb. very fresh scallops

1 cup lime juice, freshly squeezed

1 jalepeno, seeded and roughly chopped

1 + 1/2 medium cucumbers, seeded

2 cloves garlic, minced

1/2 cup Cuban oregano

1/2 cup fresh cilantro

2 tsp. fresh mint

1/2 tbsp. canola oil

4 tsp. filtered water

1/2 tsp. kosher salt, or to taste

1/2 cup red onion, thinly sliced

1 bag tortilla chips, such as Xochitl brand

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When raw, scallops are slightly translucent and pink. As the acid in the lime juice begins to cook the scallops, they will turn opaque and white.

Directions

Rinse scallops with cold water and pat dry with a kitchen towel or paper towels. Slice scallops into 1/4 inch thick pieces and place in a non-reactive bowl. Add lime juice to bowl and stir to combine. Cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate for at least one hour, but up to 3 hours, stirring occasionally.

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Traditional aguachile (chile water) is made with parsley, cilantro, and mint. I picked up some lovely Cuban oregano at a local organic farm that day, so I swapped out the parsley for Cuban oregano, giving the aguachile a slightly sweeter note.

Roughly chop one cucumber and place in food processor with jalepeno, garlic, Cuban oregano, cilantro, mint, oil, and water and puree until smooth. Add kosher salt and puree again. Adjust salt to taste. Cover food processor with plastic wrap and leave on counter until ready to serve the ceviche.

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Aguachile before being pureed.

Dice remaining 1/2 cucumber. Once scallops are opaque and white, remove from the refrigerator and drain all but 4 tablespoons of lime juice from the bowl. Add 1/2 cup of aguachile to scallops and stir well. Taste and add more aguachile, if preferred. Add red onions and diced cucumber and stir again. Serve in martini glasses with tortilla chips.

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Aguachile literally means chile water.

*The (almost) moment of this post is that I desperately wanted Peruvian corn to go into the ceviche, but after visiting 3 bodegas with no luck, I gave up trying to find any locally. Those big, meaty kernels really would have jzsjzsed up the ceviche by adding textural and color contrast, alas, next time.

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Scallop Ceviche with Aguachile.

Pickled Melon Salad

Ingredients (serves 6)

2 galia melons

1/2 cup white vinegar

1/2 cup filtered water

2 tsp. raw honey

1/2 tsp. kosher salt, or to taste

1/4 tsp. freshly cracked pepper

4 oz. mascarpone cheese

1/2 cup pepitas, toasted

2 tbsp. fresh dill, finely chopped

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This Pickled Melon Salad couldn’t be easier to make, yet it is sophisticated and presents beautifully.

Directions

Remove rind from melons and cut in half, then into 1/2 inch slices, retaining most of the seeds and set aside. In a large bowl, combine vinegar, water, honey, salt, and pepper by stirring. Add melon to pickling mixture and stir to combine. Cover with plastic wrap and marinate on the counter for one hour, stirring occasionally.

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Galia Melons in pickling mixture.

Toast pepitas in oven or toaster oven at 350 degrees.

After an hour, drain pickling mixture from bowl and add mascarpone cheese to the melon, just barely stirring, as you want the salad to seem slightly deconstructed. Add 1/4 cup of the toasted pepitas and 1 tbsp. of dill to the bowl and gently stir. Adjust salt and pepper to taste.

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Pickled Melon Salad with galia melons, mascarpone cheese, toasted pepitas, and fresh dill. Yum!

To plate, in a slightly fanned fashion, lay melon out along a platter. Sprinkle remaining 1 tbsp. of dill then 1/4 cup of toasted pepitas along the center of the melon slices.

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Memorial Day Picnic for the chic, no-fuss foodies in your life!

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