Backyard BBQ Recipes: Grilled Watermelon-Feta Skewers

Backyard BBQ Recipes: Grilled Watermelon-Feta Skewers

Good Morning and Happy Friday, everyone!

I am so excited for this weekend- not only because I need a little break from what proved to be a rather busy and hectic work-week- but also because the weather is supposed to be really nice and I’ve got a lot of outdoor stuff I want to do around the Valley!

One of those outdoorsy things may include some grilling- and I recently came across a super simple, super quick backyard BBQ recipe that combines fruit and cheese (a great pairing in itself, really)– but in a fun and unique way.

Meet watermelon and feta skewers- the Summertime recipe you didn’t know you needed in your life ’til now!

WHAT YOU’LL NEED:

  • About 40 (1-inch) pieces cubed watermelon
  • About 20 (1-inch) pieces cubed feta cheese
  • ⅔ cup extra-virgin olive oil
  • 4 cups arugula (optional)
  • 3 tablespoons balsamic vinegar
  • Coarse sea salt and freshly ground black pepper
  • ⅓ cup chopped fresh basil (optional)

READY? HERE’S WHAT YOU DO:

  1. Set your grill to high heat. Thread a piece of watermelon, a piece of feta and a second piece of watermelon onto a 6-inch skewer. Repeat with the remaining pieces of watermelon and feta.
  2. Once the grill is hot, brush the skewers on all sides with 2 tablespoons of the olive oil. Grill until lightly charred on all sides, 1 to 2 minutes per side. Remove from the grill and cool slightly.
  3. To serve, mound 1 cup arugula onto each plate and top with 5 skewers per plate. Drizzle each salad with 1 to 2 tablespoons olive oil and 2 teaspoons balsamic vinegar. Season with salt and pepper, and garnish with chopped basil. Serve immediately.

Even though the original recipe calls for some extra ingredients for presentation purposes- my skewers were well-received even without being placed on a bed of arugula or sprinkled with basil. I put them out with a little bowl of standard cream cheese fruit dip and another little bowl of vanilla Greek yogurt and my friends devoured them just the same!

The sweetness of the watermelon with the saltiness of the feta was an unexpected flavor journey as I ate a couple of these skewers myself- but it was definitely delicious and something I will absolutely make again- although I think the next time I might leave them on the grill for a little longer to get a bit more of a charred surface. I was admittedly afraid of melting the cheese too much during this go at the recipe!

That just about does it for me this week. I’ll be back on Monday with more recaps of my time around the Valley, another look at my Summer wardrobe and maybe- just maybe- a custom-made Summertime soundtrack to share! You’ll have to check back to find out!

Here’s wishing you all a sunny, safe and fun weekend ahead. Be good to yourselves and each other!

xx

– Ashley –

“Here Comes The Calling…”

Good Morning, Happy Monday- and Happy Memorial Day, everyone!

My goodness, what a weekend I’ve had- and because today is a holiday and I have the day off from work as a result- I am absolutely looking forward to decompressing and taking it easy. I’ve got some laid back lunch/shopping plans with my mom during the day, and then a movie date a little later on tonight (I’m finally seeing “John Wick 3” and I couldn’t be more excited about it!)

I’ll also be sporadically applying aloe vera throughout the day since I got a teeny, tiny sunburn from Saturday. Come to find out- me, the Queen of SPF 50- managed to forget to apply a good amount to my collarbone area and upper arms in the frenzy that was Boston Calling. Not my proudest moment- but the redness and soreness will definitely serve as a painful reminder for next time. *DON’T* forget to apply sunscreen!

Yes, this past Saturday was an absolute whirlwind of incredible music, delicious food, and good times among friends. I spent my day at Boston Calling with the Indie617 crew and my dear friend Steven, who was in town to do lights for Hozier at the festival- and I had the absolute best time ever.

Things kicked off with a little patio pre-party from 12-2 at Casa Caña in Cambridge- where I broadcast my show, soaked up the sun and grooved to good tunes before it was time to make my way over to the Harvard University Athletics Complex- which is where the festival is now housed after moving from City Hall Plaza a couple of years ago.

From there, my day was spent hanging out with Steven where we got to walk around, catch up, and stuff our faces with our favorite festival must-have- the “BBQ Bomb” from The Smoke Shop BBQ. It’s essentially a waffle cone filled with meat, mac and cheese, beans and coleslaw- and it’s life-changing. Steven and I discovered them last year at Boston Calling when he was in town with The Killers- and it was pretty much the number one thing on our itinerary this past Saturday afternoon.

I also spent time at the Indie617 media tent where lots of great artist interviews and coverage was taking place throughout the three days of the festival (which wrapped up last night with a closing performance by Travis Scott.) The photos and videos will be up on the Indie617 website- but you can also peep our social media for clips and behind the scenes footage that we shot during the event.

There was also beer. A lot of beer- which is always appreciated on hot days. I work with an incredibly talented, eager, hard-working and super fun team of people at the station and I’m so unbelievably grateful to be apart of their ranks and to be able to participate in unbelievably cool events like this with them.

And, just a reminder- but you can listen to me on Saturdays from 12-4 PM (EST). I return to the studio this coming weekend! Download our free app or stream online at our website to listen!

And then there were the artists- and what an incredible lineup Saturday had. Clairo, Mitski, Hozier (and I had the best seat in the house to see the whole, stunning performance!) and Tame Impala’s mindblowing set to close out the evening. I sang along. I danced- shamelessly- and managed to take a few good photos when the moment was right!

As always, if you’d like to make any of the images below bigger- simply click on them!

It truly was an awesome day/night and I cannot wait to do it again next year.

That just about does it for me today, since I have to get on the road to go meet with my mom and start our adventure for the day. With May coming to an end this week (!!!) I’m going to be taking a look at some of my favorite things from this past month- before wrapping it up with a neat little look-back/recap on Friday morning.

I hope you all have a safe, sunny and fun-filled Monday. It’s the unofficial start of the Summer- so let’s get through this short week together!

xx

– Ashley –

Notes From Slay-Cation…

Good Morning (it’s still the A.M. where I am) and Happy Friday, everyone!

I’m updating Blondie Birdie from a broken tablet, courtesy of Logan Airport’s TSA staff who felt it was necessary to not only empty nearly all of the contents of my liquid toiletries from my checked bag all over my clean, dry clothes- but also crack the screen of one of my most important electronics, too- before they carelessly tossed it back into my suitcase.

I digress, that huge inconvenience aside- I’m enjoying the last of my time here in San Diego before I return to Las Vegas a little later on this afternoon with Kelsey. While my previous trip to Southern California last Fall had been disastrous to the point where I had debated returning here this time around for fear it would be just as awful- I’ve actually been having a wonderful time- AND I’ve been able to relax like a real, true vacation for once!

The journey here was a long one, but the view sure was nice. After picking me up in Vegas Wednesday morning- Kelsey and I made a quick stop for breakfast at our favorite spot further up the strip, Peppermill– before we packed up our bags and her daughter and started on the long, six hour drive through the desert to San Diego.

I had forgotten that this time of year is typically referred to as “Grey May” in Southern California, so as the hours ticked by on the road and the sun gradually vanished while we drove- being overtaken by clouds and fog- I knew it was going to be a chilly stay. Admittedly, the temperatures here have been considerably better than they have been back home- so I can’t say I minded much. San Diego is beautiful any time of year, really.

And one of the perks of this trip is that it has been all about food. Kelsey and I have been trying new places around Downtown San Diego- including a French Toast sampler from Breakfast Republic and a blondie mocha latte from Spill The Beans Coffee.

We have a few foodie places we’re going to be hitting up once we return to Vegas, as well- so I’m sure I’ll be taking more photos along the way.

Of course, our main reason for this little pilgrimage to and from the desert was to see White Lies last night at The Music Box. We love the band so, so much- but their Boston show had sold out and the San Diego one was the closest to Kelsey- so I opted to fly out to see it with her and get away from work for a few days!

The show was incredible, and the band sound just as fantastic live as they do on their albums- which is a rarity these days. We had the perfect setup from a balcony above the stage where we could see and hear everything crystal clear. It was AWESOME.

Post-show, we made a quick stop at Gaslamp Pizza (the best pizza you’ll ever have in SoCal- and right around the corner from the hotel we’ve been staying) before we passed out. I think it’s safe to say we’re officially in our thirties now. There’s no after-parties anymore. At least not any I can stay awake for!

But we’re getting ready to head out for brunch/lunch and pack up the last of our things for our drive this afternoon. I’ll be updating through the weekend on my INSTAGRAM, as usual- and then I’ll be back on Monday with some more recaps from the journey before I return home Tuesday evening.

Here’s wishing you all a wonderful weekend ahead! Have fun!

xx

– Ashley –

Brunch Bites: Mini Quiches with Hash Brown Crusts

Good Morning and Happy Monday, everyone!

While I don’t leave for vacation until Wednesday morning- I’m pretty much already there mentally at this point. Although I have a longtime fear of flying- I’ve reached such a point of emotional and physical exhaustion that I know I’m going to sleep like a baby the second the plane takes off and will hopefully wake up feeling refreshed and ready to soak up the sunshine when I land in Vegas!

I digress. My perpetual feeling of sleepiness is the result of being a bit overworked and overwhelmed with my move right now (as well as all the rain we’ve been getting!) and thankfully has nothing to do with poor diet- as made evident by this positively exquisite dish I prepared for brunch over this past weekend.

With just a few ingredients and under an hour of your time- you can make these little and totally customizable quiches, too!

WHAT YOU’LL NEED:

FOR THE CRUST

  • 3 cups frozen hash browns, thawed and drained well
  • 3 tablespoons butter, melted
  • Pinch of salt

FOR THE FILLING

  • 6 bacon strips, cooked and crumbled into bits
  • 1 cup cherry tomatoes, quartered
  • 7 eggs
  • ½ cup whole milk
  • Salt and freshly ground black pepper
  • 1 cup white cheddar cheese, grated

READY? HERE’S WHAT YOU DO:

  1. MAKE THE CRUST: Preheat the oven to 425°. Lightly grease a standard-size muffin tin. In a medium bowl, toss the hash browns with the butter and salt until well combined.
  2. Place 2 tablespoons hash browns into each cup of the muffin tin. Press gently into the base to form a crust. It’s OK if the potatoes come up slightly around the edge of the cup.
  3. Bake the hash-brown crust until it’s golden and crisp, about 12 to 15 minutes. Remove from the oven and cool slightly. Reduce the oven temperature to 375°.
  4. MAKE THE FILLING: Place about 1 tablespoon bacon into each crust, then top with a few pieces of tomato.
  5. In a medium bowl, whisk the eggs with the milk and season with salt and pepper. Pour the custard into each cup, stopping about ¼ inch below the top rim. Sprinkle cheese on top and bake until the quiches are puffed up and golden, 12 to 15 minutes. Cool for 5 minutes before removing from the tin. Serve warm.

Honestly, I could probably eat an entire dozen of these on my own in one sitting- because they were delicious and one or two didn’t feel like nearly enough for me by the time I was finished. Between the hash brown crust and the fluffy egg loaded with bacon and tomato- I was on Cloud Nine during my entire brunch get-together.

I know I’ll be whipping these up again after I’m moved into the new apartment and I finally have a chance to go grocery shopping!

I’m off to do some last minute crunching at my office to get things done before I take off to the West Coast- but I’ll be back on Wednesday morning with a pre-flight recap of my weekend!

Enjoy your Monday, everyone! Here’s hoping it’s easy and stress-free for all of you!

xx

– Ashley –

Pre-Easter Prep

Good Morning and Happy (Good) Friday, everyone!

I’m not a particularly religious person. My family, rooted in Catholicism since way back when- have grown considerably more lax in our religious beliefs than say, my grandparents or my great-grandparents were in their day. While Easter was all about God and Jesus and uncomfortable, overly-starched frilly dresses or suits for my parents when they were little- they’ve thankfully raised my brothers and I to just make it all about food, fun, and being with family.

A holiday I can get behind, really!

This weekend- which will be spent at my mother’s house- is going to be a bit chaotic, to say the least. In-between all the cooking, cleaning, and decorating- I’m also taking on the responsibility of picking up and bringing back family members who reside way up North in Vermont- more than a few hours away. I don’t mind, since it’s a lovely drive and Spring has sprung and all- but it’ll take place in-between my gig at Indie617 on Saturday and work obligations on Monday.

Needless to say I’m going to need one serious power nap come Monday afternoon/evening- but I’ll cross that bridge when I get to it. For now, I’m just excited to see my family again before my big move next month! It’s going to be a bit time consuming and hectic around that time- so I’m looking forward to the calm before the storm where I can eat, drink, laugh and catch up with cousins, aunts, uncles, etc.

I’ve got some fun photos, re-caps, and my “Monthly Favorites” to share next week when I return to Blondie Birdie bright and early post-holiday on Monday morning- but I’ve got some handy links for those of you who are still getting your Easter breakfasts/brunches/dinners together that I hope will help!

That just about does it for me this week. I’ve got to get going at work and get ready for some plans I have later on today/tonight out in Western Massachusetts.

I hope you all have a fun, safe, candy-filled Easter! I’ll see you all again on Monday!

xx

– Ashley –