Friday, June 22, 2018

Watermelon Float Popsicles | #popsicleweek

Loves Food, Loves to Eat // Watermelon Float Popsicles #popsicleweekJune is basically the best month of the year:
  1. My birthday
  2. Summer solstice
  3. Popsicle week
  4. See number one
While my birthday (which I now share with my friends’ new little guy, Henry!) and the start of summer are for sure reason enough to crown this month a winner, Billy of Wit & Vinegar guilds the lily year after year by adding #popsicleweek into the June lineup. 

For one glorious week a year, food bloggers take to the internet to share popsicle recipes, with Billy at the helm, keeping us motivated and hydrated with gifs of Mariah and Xtina. The great news: more popsicle recipes than one person could ever realistically make in a summer/ lifetime. The less-than-great news: popsicle week has amassed such a collection of pops over the years, that it’s difficult adding something original to the mix. TBH I struggle coming up with a new popsicle recipe every year, it’s sort of all been done to death. But then each year, through hours of intense soul searching and meditation*, I dig deep and end up with a popsicle that feels somewhat unique and exciting and makes me proud to contribute to the age-old, world famous, popsicle week tradition.
Loves Food, Loves to Eat // Watermelon Float Popsicles #popsicleweek
My past contributions include: a creamy coconut lemon bar popsicle; a Monkey LaLa pop, based on the frozen coconut-Kahlua-chocolate drinks we had in Honduras; a beery pineapple vanilla IPA ode to the PNW popsicle; and the ever-sassy Passionate Palmer Pop, a passionfruit lemon iced tea (Arnold Palmer) situation.

This year, I was thiiiis close to submitting for your approval: an Orange Julius popsicle, inspired by the twice-yearly pilgrimage we made to the big city (PDX, lol) mall** when I was growing up. But the more I thought about it, the more I realized an Orange Julius pop is essentially an orange creamsicle pop, which like, yum but yawn, it’s been SO done. Then I thought about making some sort of rosé or boozy popsicle, but there are a bazillion of those and I just couldn’t think of anything special. I was about to throw in the towel and share the popsicle “recipe” that fueled my childhood: frozen orange (or grape) juice concentrate, made into juice, refrozen in popsicle molds. A true classic, a family heirloom.

I finally came up with something nearly as simple as that frozen juice family favorite: Watermelon float popsicles! It’s the simplest combo of fresh watermelon juice and vanilla ice cream. It’s got that thirst-quenching summer refreshment vibe from the watermelon juice, and then a little bit of creamy childhood fun from the vanilla ice cream.
Loves Food, Loves to Eat // Watermelon Float Popsicles #popsicleweek For a good time, I highly recommend using the Alton Brown method to juice yer melon (just stick an immersion blender right in that sucker!), but if you don’t happen to have an immersion blender, you can throw chunks of watermelon, sans-rind, into a regular blender or juicer until liquid.

*intense soul searching and meditation = approximately 5 minutes of perusing the internet, 20 minutes of discussion with my sister, and 5 minutes of looking in my fridge. 

**My mom recently told me that one time we saw America’s Sweetheart herself, Tonya Harding, practicing for the Olympics at the Lloyd Center Mall ice rink. 


Watermelon float popsicles 
My mold makes 10 pops, adjust as necessary

1.5-2 cups fresh watermelon juice
Vanilla ice cream



Option 1: Fill popsicle molds about half full with watermelon juice. Add a couple small bits and bobs of ice cream, pushing into the mold with a spoon or chopstick (but don’t’ mix/stir it in), and then fill the rest of the way with more juice. Insert sticks and freeze until solid.

Option 2 (pictured): while ice cream is still pretty solid, cut little rectangular strips (mini popsicles) out of it and put insert the stick into the ice cream/ mold the ice cream around the stick. Then put that ice cream stick in the popsicle mold, and fill mold with watermelon juice.

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Tuesday, May 22, 2018

Zucchini Quesadillas

Loves Food, Loves to Eat // Zucchini Quesadillas A strong case of seasonal nostalgia sits in these warmer days and long, sun-lingering evenings. Lately I’ve been thinking a lot about summers growing up at my childhood home. There are, of course, lots of paths I could take down memory lane, but one thing that strikes me most right now, is that we always had people over. 

When I was in high school, my parents best friend couple from up the road would come down for dinner and drinks almost every weekend. We’d all play rugged cross-country croquet in the sprawling weed-strewn yard, we’d all play cards, we’d all visit and joke and gossip, we’d all go for after-dinner walks. There was always wine and there were blender cocktails, and there was always, ALWAYS enough to eat. My dad would often make his legendary chicken on the charcoal grill, there would be salads and sides and chips and salsa, appearing out of nowhere. I don’t even think there were always invites. I think folks just showed up, knowing there would be food and friends. 

I can’t even imagine swinging by one of my friends’ houses unannounced (and vice versa, the horror of an uninvited guest!), especially just before dinner time. Am I doing it wrong, this whole adult thing? There we were, in the middle of nowhere, our nearest friends miles away up winding, wooded country roads, and yet, we always had friends around. Now I live in the city, surrounded by people, and we live such solitary, isolated lives. Everyone is so busy, everyone has such full calendars. Dinner parties are extravaganzas with long planning emails or text chains and everyone is booked three weekends out but might be free this Tuesday for one hour or maybe in four Wednesdays from now. We all have to pencil each other in, among getting together with the so-and-sos, the work friends, the people down the street, the date nights, the me-time nights, the friends from out of town, the college friends, the favorite-tv-show nights, the husbands’ friends, the kids and babies, etc. 

Maybe living in the city there are just too many people and there’s just too much to do (and too much fomo) to maintain the show-up-every-weekend kind of friendships my parents had. Perhaps it was born out of the seclusion of where we lived. Or maybe what they had back then was unique. I don’t know, but as the weather heats up, I’m finding myself yearning for easy pop-in dinners and long, lazy evenings with friends. 
Loves Food, Loves to Eat // Zucchini Quesadillas
On to zucchini quesadillas! My mom used to make these all the time. The recipe these are based on was published in Martha Stewart in 2003, the year I graduated high school, so it totally makes sense that these were in heavy rotation at the time, the era of the bff drop in. Mel could use up our garden’s abundance of zucchini, and because they were baked two at a time in the oven (Whoa! That blew our cast-iron-skillet-quesadilla-making minds back then), it was easy to feed an inevitable crowd. She would actually double it and make four giant quesadillas (a half dilla easily fed one person, so I just make them folded in half). I also don’t ever remember there being corn in the ones we made back then. I’m not sure if that was simply because we used what we had on hand, or because my mom chose to leave it out, but I still make them without corn, and I've cut back considerably on the oil. 

If this summer is anything like last summer, I’ll have a lot of zucchini in my little garden box to work through. Hoping to work through it (along with working through my unannounced-visit-anxiety) with good friends.  



Zucchini Quesadillas 
Makes 4 half-quesadillas
Adapted from this recipe

2 tablespoons olive oil
½ large onion (or 1 small onion)
(roughly chopped)
1 teaspoon salt
3 cloves garlic
2 medium-large zucchini
(halved lengthwise and thinly sliced crosswise
¼ cup fresh cilantro (plus more for garnish)
4 (8-inch) flour tortillas
(I use Mission Gluten Free flour tortillas) 
2 cups grated pepper jack cheese
Sour cream and hot sauce to serve



Preheat oven to 400 degrees.

In a large skillet, heat 1 tablespoons oil over medium heat. Add onion and 1 teaspoon salt. Cook, stirring occasionally, until onion is soft and starting to brown, about 5 minutes.

Add garlic and zucchini, and cook, stirring occasionally, until zucchini is soft and tender (but not mushy) another 5 minutes or so. Remove from heat and add cilantro.

Brush one side of all tortillas with remaining oil. With oil-side-out, fill half of a tortilla with a layer of filling and a layer of cheese, and fold in half. Repeat with remaining tortillas so that you have four half-quesadillas (this makes them much easier to flip). Arrange on a baking sheet.

Bake until cheese has melted and tortillas are golden brown, turning once (carefully), about 10 minutes. Remove from oven; let cool slightly. To serve, slice each quesadilla into wedges.

Serve with sour cream, hot sauce, and remaining cilantro. 

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Wednesday, April 18, 2018

The Long Goodnight

Loves Food, Loves to Eat / My water color galaxy paintingsHi, hello! It’s me! I’ve been quiet on here for a variety of reasons, but the main one is that I gave up gluten last August. I just haven’t really found inspiration in my newly gluten-free kitchen, and I’ve been leaning heavily on recipes from experts who’ve been doing this gluten free life a lot longer than I have. 

The reasons I gave it up are mostly annoying to explain to people (I generally say “digestion reasons” when people ask, to avoid in-depth discussions about my lady parts), but here’s a little more detail: I started to realize that a bunch of random unrelated symptoms I’ve had for years might not be random or unrelated at all, and I also discovered that it’s maybe not normal to have debilitating pain and nausea that renders you unable to leave the bed once a month. So, the more I read, the more I became convinced I have endometriosis. This is strictly a self-diagnosis at this point. I haven’t been officially diagnosed, as that typically requires laparoscopic surgery and I haven’t gotten there yet. 

But I’ve been down the rabbit hole and back, and one of the greatest resources I’ve found on the topic is Jessica Murnane. This is where I first learned that eliminating certain inflammatory foods can help with endometriosis symptoms, as essentially those foods are inflaming an already painful inflammation. So I decided to give up gluten for a while, just to try it out (hormone related: I’ve also stopped consuming the other favorite love of my life, coffee. It’s been a real whirlwind!)

The results? I’ve felt, in general, way less fatigued. My frequent stomach discomfort and near-daily-2nd-trimester-style bloating quickly went away. I no longer worry that I won’t be able to fit in my jeans by the end of the day. But even more exciting (and trust me, no longer bouncing between 3 pant sizes on the daily is pretty exciting), In the last eight months, I haven’t spent one day of my period stuck in bed in the fetal position, unable to move, throwing up and writhing in pain. So, I don’t know for sure if endo is what ails me, but my quality of life has improved since going off the gluten, so I’m going to stick with it (just imagine how I’d feel if I went off dairy and sugar too! Just kidding. I’m not there…yet.).  

The downside of giving up gluten, is obviously, giving up gluten. I was team gluten my whole life, almost smugly so. We had pizza, donuts, and craft beer at our wedding, for crying out loud! I’ve learned I can get along pretty well without it, but a few things suck. My favorite pizza place doesn’t do a GF crust. It’s hard to order takeout when restaurants don’t list allergen info on their sites/menus. Seattle restaurants and bakeries, in general, seems behind on the “trend.” Bread products are dismal—buns and rolls and baguettes? Forget about it (omg what I wouldn’t give for a legit baguette). I miss ramen so much. My brewery hopping days feel like a sepia toned memory. I’m now that person who has to pepper restaurant servers with questions about allergens.

Sometimes it feels like a small, hardly noticeable shift. Other times it feels like it’s changed my entire life. So that, plus some other personal things, have kept me away. I haven’t developed a recipe, taken a food photo on my actual camera, or written down words for this space in half a year. Honestly, it feels liberating to just make dinner and not think about developing a recipe or writing things down. But I also don’t want to say goodbye to this little gem that’s been such a fun creative outlet to me (since 2009! I'm ancient in food blogging years), and a resource to a handful of you, my ever-faithful fans (ie my mom). I’m hoping kitchen inspiration strikes, but until it does, I’ve been following other creative pursuits. I’ve been doing a lot of fiction writing (currently trying to wrap my head around a causal loop time paradox - lol- for a story I'm writing... Evan is my time-paradox expert, but if you wanna help me plot doctor this, hit me up!), and I just picked up some watercolor paints this week, which I'm now obsessed with (see photo above!). 

Anyway, that’s all for now. Just wanted to pop in and say hi and I hope to come back with something for this space at some point (and I post on IG and IG stories all the time if you’re interested in my nonsense). 

As Gilbert Grape said “It's not goodbye. It's goodnight. Goodbye is for when you're going away." So for now: goodnight! 

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