Watermelon, carrot salad, flan and ice cream make for super cool fuel


Hot August days call for easy, refreshing eats and treats, like a Watermelon Mint Cooler infused with lime. Try my twist on a vintage Carrot Salad recipe that uses canned tomato soup as the base and incorporates pre-shredded carrots, cumin, cilantro and lots of celery. Follow it up with a simple, silky smooth Coconut Flan, or make my three-ingredient Pineapple Coconut Ice Cream Loaf — no churning or ice cream machine required!

Watermelon Mint Cooler

Watermelon Mint Cooler

Makes 4 servings.

2 cups water
1 cup sugar
6-8 mint leaves
5 cups watermelon, chopped and chilled
1/3 cup fresh lime juice

In a pan, bring water to boil; add sugar. Cook until sugar is dissolved, toss in mint and remove from heat. Allow to rest for 1 hour. Refrigerate until cold. Do not remove mint.

Chop watermelon and refrigerate until chilled.

Add all ingredients to a blender (including mint). Blend 45 seconds. Serve immediately.

Notes: While this recipe is assembled at the last minute, ingredients must be chilled in advance. It’s best to make mint syrup and chop watermelon in the morning or a day ahead. Watermelon separates, so the drink can’t be made ahead of time. If using a pitcher, serve with a large spoon so guests can stir before pouring.

Carrot Salad

Carrot Salad

Makes 12 or more servings.

2 (10-ounce) bags shredded carrots
1/2 cup red onion, chopped
1 1/3 cups celery, chopped
1/2 cup cilantro, chopped


1 (10.7-ounce) can tomato soup
2 tablespoons canola or vegetable oil
1 tablespoon sugar
1/3 cup apple cider vinegar
2 teaspoons cumin seed
Salt and pepper to taste

In a large bowl, toss together carrots, onion, celery and cilantro. In another bowl, whisk together tomato soup, oil, sugar, apple cider vinegar and cumin seed. Pour dressing over carrots and toss. Cover and refrigerate six hours or more. Add salt and pepper before serving.

Note: This dish, which can be made in advance, is sized to be shared, so consider halving the recipe if you’re not feeding a crowd.

Coconut Flan

Coconut Flan

Makes 6 servings.

1/3 cup sugar
1 (15-ounce) can coconut milk
4  large eggs, plus 1 egg yolk
1 1/2 teaspoons vanilla extract
1 (11.6-ounce) can sweetened condensed coconut milk (can substitute regular condensed milk)

Heat oven to 350.

Place a non-stick pan over medium-high heat, and sprinkle sugar over pan. Stir with wooden spoon until sugar dissolves and caramelizes, turning golden brown. Immediately pour sugar in a 2 ½ quart round baking dish or 9- to 10-inch baking dish, and swirl dish around so sugar coats as much of bottom as possible.

Add coconut milk, eggs, egg yolk, vanilla extract and sweetened condensed milk to blender. Blend 90 seconds. Pour mixture over sugar.

Bake 40-42 minutes. Flan will jiggle when you take it out, but it will set. (If you wait until there is no jiggle, it will be too firm.) Allow flan to cool 3 hours. Refrigerate several hours before serving.

No Churn Pineapple Coconut Ice Cream Loaf

No Churn Pineapple Coconut Ice Cream Loaf

Makes 8 servings.

2 cups heavy whipping cream
1 (11.6-ounce) can sweetened condensed coconut milk
1 2/3 cups canned crushed pineapple with liquid

Line a loaf pan with plastic wrap draping over sides. (You will use this later to lift ice cream out of pan.) Set aside.

In a large bowl, use an electric mixer  and beat whipping cream on high several minutes, until peaks form. Add condensed coconut milk, and beat another 2 minutes. Add pineapple; beat another minute. Carefully pour into loaf pan, making sure plastic wrap does not sink in. Cover and freeze 8 hours.

Allow ice cream to sit out 10 minutes before serving. Lift ice cream out of pan, pull off wrap, cut into eight slices and serve.

Note: Regular sweetened condensed milk plus 1 teaspoon coconut extract can be used as a substitute for sweetened condensed coconut milk.