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Mellow Out With Melons

MISSION, KS -- (Marketwired) -- 03/03/14 -- (Family Features) Fresh, juicy melons make a tasty addition to meals or can be enjoyed as a refreshing small snack. Bite into watermelons and cantaloupes from Florida for a sweet taste that can be enjoyed in all kinds of dishes. Add to salads, make an iced drink, or enjoy them fresh off the grill. Florida melons are also a great source of vitamin A and vitamin C.

"Watermelons are one of the most refreshing fruits available. Serve a slice of this delicious fruit for guaranteed smiles at any age," says Justin Timineri, Executive Chef and Culinary Ambassador, Florida Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services. "Since cantaloupes are both sweet and savory, try thinking outside the box while enjoying them."

For more fun and flavorful melon recipes, visit http://bit.ly/flmelons.

Sign-up to receive a FREE copy of the "Kids in the Kitchen" cookbook at: http://bit.ly/flfffkids.

How to pick the perfect melon
The exterior of a ripe watermelon should be smooth and waxy green, with or without stripes. Watermelons will not ripen after picked, so it is important to pick a ripe one at the market. A good cantaloupe is symmetrical with the blossom end soft enough to be depressed with slight pressure. Avoid overripe melons with lumps or soft spots.

How to clean watermelons
Before cutting your watermelon, wipe it down with a clean cloth and slightly soapy water. Every part of the watermelon is ready to eat, including the rind and seeds.

Cooking tips for watermelons
Did you know the fiber-rich rind of watermelon can be pickled, candied or turned into jam or jelly? The seeds are highly nutritious, packed with protein, vitamin E and potassium. Try them roasted in the oven on low and salted for a healthy, tasty snack.

Open Face Watermelon Sandwiches
Yield 4 Servings

8     ounces goat cheese
1     handful fresh Florida mint leaves, chopped
      Kosher salt and fresh ground pepper to taste
1/2   loaf of your favorite bread, sliced thin
      Olive oil
1/4   medium-sized Florida watermelon, seeds and rind removed

Crumble chilled goat cheese into small bowl. Lightly mix cheese and chopped mint. Taste for seasoning and adjust with salt and pepper. Cut bread into 8 small slices and drizzle with olive oil. Toast bread slices until golden brown and crispy on top. Let bread cool slightly. Spread cheese mixture on top of each bread slice. Cut watermelon slices into fun shapes and layer watermelon on top of cheese. Lightly season the top of sandwiches with salt and pepper. Serve at room temperature.

Kids Can: Spread cheese onto each slice of bread.

Fruit Kebobs with Lime Cream
Yield: 16 servings

Lime cream:
1     cup low-fat sour cream
1/2   cup Florida honey
1     lime, juiced
1     teaspoon lime zest

Kebobs:
1/2   Florida honeydew melon, peeled, seeded and cubed
1/2   Florida cantaloupe melon, peeled, seeded and cubed
1     Florida papaya, peeled, seeded and cubed
1     Florida mango, peeled, seeded and cubed
2     kiwis, peeled and cubed
16    (6-inch) bamboo skewers
1/4   cup fresh Florida mint leaves, chopped, for garnish

To make lime cream, combine sour cream, honey, lime juice and zest in mixing bowl. For kebobs, arrange cut fruit on skewers in alternating fashion. Repeat until all cut fruit is on skewers. Serve chilled with lime cream. Garnish with fresh mint.

Kids Can: Arrange the fruit onto skewers with adult supervision.
Grown Up Alert: Adults should cut all fruit.

Melon Muffins
Yield: 20 Servings

1     Florida watermelon
8     ounces low-fat cream cheese, softened
3     ounces low-fat lime yogurt
1     tablespoon lime juice
1     tablespoon lime zest

Slice watermelon into 1-inch-thick cross sections. Using 1 1/2-inch-wide biscuit cutter, cut watermelon sections into circles. In medium-sized bowl, combine cream cheese, yogurt and lime juice; mix well. Arrange melon circles on plate and top each with teaspoon of yogurt sauce and pinch of lime zest. Serve immediately.

Kids Can: Use biscuit cutters to cut watermelon sections.
Fun Tip: Use different shaped cutters to make your muffins in cool, fun shapes.

Grilled and Chilled Florida Watermelon with Feta and Mint
Yield: 6 servings

1     small Florida watermelon, about 6 pounds
1/2   cup small fresh Florida mint leaves, hand-torn
2     ounces feta cheese, crumbled into large chunks
1     tablespoon olive oil
1     tablespoon balsamic vinegar
1/4   teaspoon sea salt
1/4   teaspoon black pepper

Slice watermelon into 1-inch slices. Heat grill or grill pan over high heat until very hot. Two at a time, grill watermelon rounds about 2 to 3 minutes each side until charred. Transfer watermelon to cutting board and cut into wedges, discarding rind. Place watermelon wedges in refrigerator until chilled. Arrange wedges on plate. Sprinkle with mint and feta. Drizzle with oil and vinegar, then sprinkle with salt and pepper.

Chef's Tip: To cut watermelon into rounds, lay melon on side and cut through rind and flesh with sharp knife.
Kids Can: Sprinkle watermelon with feta and mint.
Grown Up Alert: Adults should cut watermelon and handle all grilling.

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