Popsicles!

I apologize in advance for this being a short and sweet post, but with a short workweek, I definitely almost forgot it was already Wednesday! So here is something I actually meant to post a few weeks ago! ūüôā

When it’s summer and ridiculously hot outside, one of the best treats is a popsicle. Am I right or am I right? Of course, in true me fashion, I always forget to pick up a box or two when I’m shopping. I finally decided to grab some BPA free popsicle molds on Amazon and make my own. Little did I realize this is legit one of the easiest things to make¬†ever.

Anyone who knows me IRL knows I’m just not that big into super sweet and sugary things. I do like a sweet treat sometimes, but when it’s super sugary, it’s nasty. So my first choice for popsicles had zero added sweetener. I might have added honey if I thought about it, but maybe next time.

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Easiest Popsicles Ever (12 pops)

Ingredients:

6 peaches, sliced, with the skin left on

1 can full fat coconut milk

Blend all ingredients well, pour into molds, and freeze for at least 8 hours or overnight.

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See? Easiest thing ever. I’m thinking something with banana might be next. Or chocolate and cinnamon. Mmm. The sky’s the limit here because if you can blend and freeze it, it *might* make a good popsicle.

The molds I bought can be found here. Not an affiliate link, not yet. ūüėČ

 

A tornado hit us yesterday

Even the best-laid plans go awry. This time it wasn’t my forgetfulness or anything…it was a freight train coming through town. Or rather, a tornado. That’s not supposed to¬†happen here. Well, I mean, I know it does, but I had literally been talking with my sister a couple days ago about how tornadoes don’t happen and then one did around 4:30 pm yesterday. It all happened so fast. Our house is fine, there’s just trees down all over the darn place. Apparently we were the worst hit too. And we’ve been without power for like 18 hours now so I’m at the library (on my day off, haha) writing this.

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I had been planning on cooking trout and white beans for dinner last night, but that definitely did not happen. We ate cucumbers and drank whiskey in the dark, haha. And percolated coffee for my husband over our little gas grill at 1 am when he had to get ready for work. I do love percolated coffee though. Hopefully I can make that trout tonight!

I do, however, have something food related to share with you. I recently got this simmer sauce from India in a foodie box called Try the World, and it said on the packet it could be used for any meat, seafood, or vegetables. It seemed like a good way to use up bits of things, so I picked salmon, a shallot, green beans, and a few cherry tomatoes. It was pretty delicious served over basmati rice, and I’m definitely gonna have to find it in store or online somewhere!

 

Chicken & Chorizo Stew (for the Instant Pot)

Today felt like autumn and it made me happy. We were able to open the windows for the first time in at least a month and a half. Granted, I have a weird cold/sinus infection, so I spent the day inside reading comic books, but it was still nice to feel the cooler air. It’s strange that August is nearly over, already, though. I’m not sure why, but this year feels like it’s going by incredibly fast.

Last night was the first time I had really cooked in a week or so; being sick makes it difficult to want to¬†do things, let alone work with food. (Coughing and sneezing in the kitchen? Nope. Haha.) But I figured it was time to finally make some chicken soup, since that usually is a bit of a cure-all, at least taste-wise and psychologically. Of course, I forgot to pull the chicken out of the freezer before work; this is a regular occurence. When I got home, I also saw the package of Johnsonville Chorizo Sausage and decided that using both meats was what I really wanted for dinner. And, since I have an Instant Pot, I didn’t even have to thaw anything! Just threw the chicken breasts and the sausages into the pot, poured in a cup or so of water, and cooked on manual pressure for 40 minutes. The beautiful red-orange of the broth in my photos is due to this, and I must say, that was an unexpected lovely side effect. After the meat was done, I sauteed an onion and a few red potatoes in some olive oil and black pepper for a few minutes, then added the meats back in (now chopped and shredded), poured in two more cups of water, and set the IP to cook on the Meat/Stew setting for 15 minutes. After that was done, I stirred in a whole bag of spinach. It.was.perfection.

I’m certain this can be made without an Instant Pot or pressure cooker, but I’m not quite sure you’ll achieve the same wonderful broth. Also, feel free to add salt to taste, but it definitely wasn’t necessary with the mix of flavors!

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Chicken & Chorizo Stew (For the Instant Pot)

Ingredients:

1-2 pounds chicken breast

1 package Johnsonville Chorizo (5 links)

1 onion, halved and sliced

3-4 small potatoes, roughly chopped

Olive oil

Pepper

2-4 cups water

1 package baby spinach (Fresh Express has a 5oz bag; this is what I used)

 

If your chicken and sausages are still frozen, pop them in the Instant Pot with 1 cup water and set at manual high pressure for 40 minutes. (If they are not frozen, 15-20 ought to do it, depending on the thickness of the meats.) Once the timer goes off, release the pressure according to the IP instructions. Once pressure is released, transfer chicken, sausages, and broth into a separate bowl.

Press the Saute setting on the IP, pouring in a tablespoon of olive oil. Add in onions, potatoes, and a few sprinkles of pepper, and stir often, for 3 minutes. Shred the chicken, chop the sausage links into small pieces, and pour everything back into the IP, including the broth. Add 2-3 cups water, depending on how soupy you want it to be, stir everything quite well, then further cook for 15 minutes on the Meat/Stew setting.

Once the pressure has released again, stir in the spinach until well combined. Serve immediately.

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This is one of those foods that I will likely make again just to experiment with. It was incredible just like this, but I’m already thinking how it could become more of a tortilla or taco soup, or how a dollop of sour cream or Greek yogurt would be amazing on top, etc, etc. I have so many ideas. Plus I’m just so proud of that broth. I really did not anticipate the color leeching out of the chorizo the way it did, and it permeated the entire dish.

Dang, now I’m really wishing there had been leftovers.

Cherry Sorbet

Really dull post title, but it gets to the point. Tonight I’m sharing with you a recipe for fresh cherry sorbet. Hooray for bonus posts! On Friday evenings, when everyone else is probably out doing extrovert things… I mean. Anyway.

I had intended to have two sorbet choices for you, but today did not exactly go as planned and I haven’t had the opportunity to even get the peaches cut! I might work on that after I’m done writing this. Hmm. But the cherry sorbet was soooooo good. SO GOOD. Like, I didn’t realize how something that’s basically fruit and water could be so good. Also, I used some of my allotted kitchen time to make risotto on the stove for the first time and¬†that was well worth it, just saying.

So. Cherry sorbet. The most obnoxious part about the process was cutting up all the cherries… I don’t have one of those cherry pitting gadgets, but I might have to pick one up because it took me nearly half an hour to pit and chop two pounds of fruit. If you don’t have a gadget, I recommend turning on a favorite album or podcast because you’re gonna be slightly bored. A few other notes on the recipe…I substituted half the water with Ningxia Red, a superfood antioxidant drink from Young Living, and I used Swerve as my sweetener. But I will give it as is for you to play with how you wish.

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Cherry Sorbet

Ingredients:

2 pounds fresh cherries

1 cup filtered water

2/3 cup sweetener of choice

1 tsp fresh lemon juice

 

Stem the cherries and remove the pits; you can also chop into smaller pieces if you wish. In a medium saucepan over medium heat, mix all ingredients and cook for 10-15 minutes until cherries are soft. Remove saucepan from heat and allow mixture to cool to room temperature, then refrigerate to chill thoroughly. I kept the pan in the fridge for about 4 hours. Puree the mixture and pour it through a fine mesh strainer into an ice cream maker. Churn according to your ice cream maker’s instructions (for example mine said to churn for about 15 minutes), then freeze, also according to instructions.

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It really was delicious. I ended up having a serving for breakfast the day after I made it. Why not?

Hope your weekend has started off right and I’m off to make some peach sorbet…or maybe popsicles because I just got a set of BPA-free molds! Who knows. The possibilities are endless.

Of course, there is a 1000% chance that I will end up renting¬†Infinity War on Amazon and crying into a glass of wine. Because I don’t want to wait till my Blu-ray arrives to rip out my heart again. But I digress.

Happy Friday and happy cooking!

Food is a Lifestyle: an essay (of sorts)

As I sit here drinking Mountain Dew Baja Blast and chowing down on Nacho Fries from Taco Bell, I was inspired to write about healthy eating. Hah. Jokes. Actually I was inspired to write about eating in general, and how it is a lifestyle. Or it can be. Really, this wasn’t inspired by my silly Taco Bell run (the Nacho Fries are exceptional, btw), but more so something I wrote on my personal Facebook page yesterday.

Healthy eating is difficult. But it doesn’t have to be. It’s so hard to wade through all the diet rules and advice that threaten to choke you with their insanity. There’s a reason it’s so hard to “diet” the way most people do it. Starving yourself and constantly depriving your body doesn’t really get you anywhere¬†good, and in my experience, it hurt my mind. I was bored and frustrated¬†all the time. I tried keto, paleo, vegetarian, even thought being vegan would be better for my body for awhile. Nothing stuck past a few weeks, even if I occasionally saw results. But food is a lifestyle, and that’s especially true for me. My life revolves around food and drink because I¬†love cooking and trying new things. Because I don’t actually have any food allergies, and only a tiny intolerance towards gluten, there is a whole world open to me of things to play with and eat in my kitchen. (That’s half the reason I started this blog in the first place!) I’m not going to force myself to avoid pasta and bread forever, nor would I¬†ever give up cheese. Hello, Wisconsin!¬†<—That would be a tv show reference.

The point of all of this is to say that eating healthy can be done. There was a time when I was so frustrated by trying to diet that I essentially gave up creativity in the kitchen and hated being in there¬†so much that we ate a lot of boxed food and also went out a lot. While I enjoy going out (lots of stuff to try!), that wore on my body too. I just couldn’t win. But then I realized that I was just trying to be someone I’m not. And somewhere in my internet explorations I came across the 80/20 philosophy…and it clicked. It’s not a diet, it’s a way of life.¬†A lifestyle. I love food, and I could very easily make it love me again. Or something. The way I use the 80/20 philosophy is that roughly 80% of the time, I consciously prepare and consume whole foods, mostly veggies and lean protein and whole grains, and the other rough 20% is for the rest of the time when we get Domino’s Pizza, or I get Taco Bell, or there’s a fun new soda or chip flavor to try. You get the idea.

At the heart, it’s a mindset where you allow yourself to¬†enjoy your food and drink, and therefore enjoy your life too. No freaking out over calories or that one night you had one too many deep fried cheese curds at the bar. It freed me up to realize that one unhealthy day or weekend does not mean I’ve totally lost all control and everything went to hell. It just means I’m capable of enjoying myself and still can be in control of my overall health and wellness.

To be honest, I could probably go on about this for a long time, because I’ve become very passionate about it. Also, intermittent fasting rocks. Also, I don’t have a recipe for you today. I promise these essay posts won’t be super frequent, but this was just on my mind and since it’s about food, I decided to share it.

Food is a lifestyle. And I like it that way.

Hope you are having a wonderful Wednesday and watch for a bonus post later this week where I will share a couple recipes for sorbet!!

The word of the day is Shrimp

Titling blog posts is an obnoxious endeavour. I don’t want to just name the recipe, ya know? And I mean the shrimp was actually eaten¬†yesterday, so it’s not really the word of the day¬†today. Anyway.

Yesterday was my husband’s birthday, so I wanted to try to be a little fancy in what I cooked for dinner. Usually we just do tacos of some sort, because I’m obsessed with tacos and Taco Tuesday is a pretty serious thing here. But he doesn’t love them nearly as much as I do (which is a bad life decision, but I digress), so I chose to make something involving sausages and shrimp. I roasted Johnsonville Firecracker sausages and red potatoes in the oven, which turned out pretty amazing, and made a shrimp salad on the side.¬†Double protein, baby. Honestly, the salad would have been enough to fill me up, but I really like the spicy sausage, and it turned out to be a good meal! Also, we totally watched¬†Muppet Treasure Island while I was making dinner, because that’s one of his favorite movies. Did you know Hans Zimmer composed the score? I’ve watched it so many times and didn’t realize that till last night because we don’t usually just let the credits play. So that’s your random fact of the day.

Also I am so terrible at ratios and measuring for recipes.

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Shrimp Salad with Zoodles

Ingredients:

1 package precooked shrimp, thawed

1 large cucumber, sliced and halved

1 can diced tomatoes (you can use fresh, this is just what I had on hand!)

1-2 cups spiralized zucchini (I don’t even remember how many zucchini this was)

1/4 cup chopped green onions

Feta cheese for topping

Olive oil (or avocado oil) and fresh lemon juice whisked together for dressing

Salt and pepper to taste, if you wish

 

Basically, just toss all ingredients together in a bowl and serve. Chill for an hour or so if you wish; the flavors melded together so nicely over night in the fridge when I stole a bite while filling my water bottle. But it was also great served without extra chilling.

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I am also just now realizing that we are still using the Christmas/winter dishes…oops. Well whatever, they’re nicer than any others we have.

Homemade Citrus-based Dressing

Can I just say that I really love La Croix?¬† It’s super refreshing and I honestly can’t figure out why so many people hate it. Except for the mixed berry or whatever; that one just tastes odd.

Also I haven’t quite decided which kind of beans I like better, black beans or cannellini beans. Both are so delicious and versatile. Black beans usually mean tacos, but white beans are so good in almost anything else. Like a cold salad. With mixed greens, cherry tomatoes, and a citrus-based dressing. That may or may not have wine in it. I mean, I made tuna steaks tonight, and some pretty groovy red potatoes (sorry, I may have watched Austin Powers earlier), but the bean salad was the star of the show. It just was. Mostly because of the dressing. But also the beans. I dunno, it was just perfectly summery and I loved it.

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Homemade Citrus-based Dressing

(adapted from the March 2018 issue of Shape Magazine)

Ingredients:

Juice of 1 medium grapefruit

1 small shallot

Olive oil

Squeeze of fresh lemon juice

Squeeze of fresh orange juice

White wine

Pink Himalayan salt

Freshly ground black pepper

 

Directions: Blend all ingredients together, adjusting the ratios as you see fit. Will keep in the fridge for a few days. (I got a little less than 1/2 cup juice from my grapefruit and used about two tablespoons olive oil and maybe just over a tablespoon of wine. I don’t measure. It’s a bit of a problem.)

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Okay so this is a suuuuuper loose recipe. The one in¬†Shape suggests pomelo or tangelo in place of the grapefruit even. And white wine¬†vinegar, not just white wine, but I somehow do not have any (just red wine vinegar and I didn’t think that would work too well) so I splashed a little wine in instead, which makes it not really a vinaigrette but eh who cares. Also it suggested lemon zest, but I just skipped that step tonight.¬†Also, I toyed with the idea of adding a bit of jalapeno and avocado, which I might try next time. Homemade dressings are so fun.

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See, the salad really was the star of the show. I probably overcooked the tuna. That tends to happen. But it was tasty and the leftovers are being crumbled up and added to the salad for my lunch at work tomorrow and served with a side of my actually rather delicious fiber crackers (more on those another time). Because I can.