February 2012 archive

Carnitas-Stuffed Baked Chicken

I’m about as carnivorous as they come, but I have a confession…as I was prepping the dish I couldn’t help but feel a little guilty.  I was washing and patting dry my chickens and it occurred to me that, damn, I hope my ultimate purpose in life isn’t to be disemboweled, have pork shoved up my hoo-hah, and tossed in the oven.  But then again, this chicken made Ross and me very, very happy.

Good work, Chicken.  You served a good cause.

Ingredients

(This is for one chicken.  If you want to make two like I did in the picture, just double everything…duh)

1 Whole Chicken, innards removed

1-2 lb Pork Shoulder, cut into chunks

1 t Salt

1 t Black Pepper

1 t Dried Rosemary

1 t Thyme

1 T Olive Oil

1 Small Onion, diced

2 Medium Stalks Celery, diced

1/4 c Grape Tomatoes

1/4 c Diced Mushrooms

Additional Salt, Pepper, and Rosemary

2 T Olive Oil

Instructions

Make sure you’re using the fattier parts of the pork shoulder, as the extra fat is not only delicious but helps keep the chicken really moist throughout the cooking process.  Season the pork with salt, pepper, rosemary, and thyme.  In a pan over medium-high heat, lightly brown it in olive oil.  Do NOT cook all the way through as it will finish cooking in the chicken.  Remove from the pan and allow to cool, then add veggies and combine well.

Rinse the chicken and pat dry.  Carefully use your fingers to separate the skin from the meat on the breast and back (this helps it crisp up really nicely in the oven).

Fill the cavity with the pork and veggie filling, then tie the legs back with twine.  Drizzle some olive oil in a baking pan and place the chicken, breast-side-up, in the pan.  If you have any leftover stuffing, add it to the pan around the chicken (you can see I had a lot!).

Top the chicken with additional olive oil and seasonings.  Bake in a 350 degree oven for 1 hour, 45 minutes.  Remove from the oven every 30-40 minutes and baste with pan juices.

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Apple Pork Chop Casserole

Why, yes, I do have a minor obsession with egg casseroles lately…but this may just be my most favorite yet.  Just trust me.

Short and sweet (and savory!) today…

Ingredients

3 Bone-in Pork Chops

1 t Sea Salt

1 t Black Pepper

1 t Dried Rosemary

1 Medium Onion, sliced

3 Granny Smith Apples, sliced thin

18 Eggs

2 t Cinnamon

2 t Dried Rosemary

Instructions

Sprinkle the pork chops with salt, pepper, and rosemary and bake at 350 degrees for 25 minutes and allow to cool enough to handle.

Either chop or shred the chops by hand into small chunks (you can use pulled pork, too, but you want the fatty bits).

In a 15 x 10 x 2 inch greased baking dish, layer the sliced onions onto the bottom, then top with shredded pork.  Crown it all with a thick layer of sliced apples.

Beat the eggs with the cinnamon and rosemary and add salt and pepper to taste.  Pour the beaten eggs over the casserole, making sure to get some egg on all the apples.

Bake the casserole for 45-50 minutes at 375 degrees, or until firm.  Allow to rest 10 minutes before serving.

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Metcon Monday

Race photos are notoriously awful…Here’s Ross and me crossing the finish line last week…

We took it easy most of last week with more lifting  than metcon, but this week I’ll be back in the gym working some sprints and skill-oriented stuff.  This metcon is again courtesy of The WOD Shop and was great because I could do it in my living room while watching Chopped.  It left me gasping for breath and nice and sore all over this morning!

“Anderson”

AMRAP in 20 minutes of:

5 Burpees

10 Pushups

15 Sit-ups

20 Squats

I finished with 9 rounds, plus 5 burpees and 9 pushups.

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Baked Bison Bacon Burgers

Say that 5 times fast…

While I’ve been hesitant in the past to let The Man cook anything for me–with the exception of bacon and eggs–this past week I relented.  Thanks to an insane week at work with lots of other extracurricular goodies coming my way, I pretty much said, “F*ck it” and told Ross he could plan and make dinner as many nights as he wanted to.

This is going to be a regular thing, fo’ sho’.

In his defense, my Man has a decent culinary repertoire.  His Mom’s meatloaf and Rosemary Chicken are his staples I confess I can’t turn down.  But last night he decided to get creative, and I was a little anxious.

Oh, Sweetie, I can’t believe I ever…ever…doubted you…

Ingredients

(Serves 2-4)

1 lb Ground Bison

1 Egg

1 Small Onion, diced

1/2 c Chopped Mushrooms

1 t Sea Salt

1 t Black Pepper

1 t Dried Rosemary

1 t Prepared Steak Seasoning

4 Thick Slices of Bacon

Instructions

Combine bison with egg, veggies, and seasonings.  Form into 4 burger patties, though make sure they’re not too flat.  Wrap each burger in a slice of bacon and secure with a toothpick.

Bake at 350 degrees, uncovered, for 30 minutes.

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Paleo French Toast

I lived in France for about 6 months and I don’t think I had French Toast once…I wonder if it’s like French fries and isn’t actually French…actually that might be a bad example because the quintessential French dish is steak and frites, so…never mind.  In all honesty, all I remember eating in France was a metric ass-ton of cheese.  I totally got spoiled, too, because in France they can age their cheeses a lot longer and in a different way than our prissy American food safety laws allow us to, and I’m no food scientist or anything, but whatever they do over there makes some damn good cheese.

Mmmmmmm cheese…for you folks who are OK with the Dairy Thang, I’m hoping to get a good Monte Cristo or Croque Monsieur up here soon.

For the rest of you just wanting a nice warm comforty weekend breakfast, I got you covered.  You can use any Paleo-friendly bread for this one.  I used leftover Cherry-Coconut Bread, but you can also use my favorite Paleo Banana Bread, or this recipe for one of the best basic breads out there.

Ingredients

(Serves 2)

5-6, 1-inch slices of a Paleo-Friendly Bread

3 Eggs

1/2 c Coconut Milk

1 t Cinnamon

Pinch Nutmeg

1 T Vanilla

Coconut Oil or Ghee, for frying

Instructions

Beat the eggs, coconut milk, spices, and vanilla in a shallow dish.  Dip the bread slices in the batter and allow excess to drip off.

Fry over medium heat in coconut oil or butter until golden brown.  Top with butter and cinnamon.

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Barbeque Grilled Pork Chops

I hate forced rest days.  Hate.  I’m really, really trying to be smart about my training these days and eat well and hydrate and all that–mostly because I’m super vain and want to look bangin’ for my wedding–but there are days like these when I’ve got a ton of energy and just want to go beat myself into the ground but I know if I did I’d probably tear something.  It sucks.  A lot.

Ross and I had a great session at the gym yesterday and I want to reap the rewards, so I’m taking it easy today.  We did a simple 5RM squat triplet–BS, FS, and OHS–and it killed me.  You know how I know it killed me?  I was starving for the rest of the day and all this morning despite mega-doses of protein afterwards, a MEATZA last night, and the last of the Salmon-Sweet Potato casserole this morning.  And one too many glasses of wine.  Seriously, the drive this morning was brutal…you know, like when you’re on the road at 4:45am and have the window down so the cold air can keep you awake on an hour-long commute and your stomach is screaming for food and there’s nothing you can do about it?  Yeah, like that.

Ingredients

4 Bone-in Pork Chops, about 1-inch thick

3 oz Tomato Paste (half a can)

2 T Lime Juice

3 T Apple Cider Vinegar

1 t Salt

1 t Black Pepper

1/2 t Ground Mustard

1 t Cumin

1 t Chili Powder

1/2 c Olive Oil

Applesauce, for serving

Instructions

Whisk together all ingredients for the marinade.  Lay out the pork chops in a dish and pat dry, then spread the marinade over them, covering both sides.  Cover in plastic wrap and marinate for either 30 minutes at room temperature or for at least 2 hours in the fridge.

Grill for about 3-4 minutes on each side until nicely browned and a little crispy around the edges.  Serve with some applesauce on the side, if desired (it adds a really nice sweet/spicy element!)

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Salmon-Sweet Potato Breakfast Bake

Lately I’ve been completely addicted to Worst Cooks in America.  I mean, I’m sure they screen people to get the ridiculous mix of personalities but I literally sit on my couch laughing so hard I look like I’m having a seizure.  Seriously, last night this woman was trying to make Swedish meatballs and was all like, “When I think of Sweden, I think of chocolate and the Alps…because Sweden is in Switzerland!”  And then this other chick was freaking the eff out because shecouldn’t get her tofu to melt.  I mean, holy hell…I love it so much.

I have the utmost respect for Anne and Bobby and Robert…I’m a terrible teacher.  I have zero patience.  Ross is a better man than most for staying with me after I berated him for not knowing how to make butter, and then all those times when I make fun of him for being such a slow salad-maker.  I’m being mean, though.  Despite some sub-par knife skills, he’s actually a good cook, really…in fact, he’s cooking dinner all week this week and I am so, so thankful for the break.

So…breakfast.

Egg casseroles are under-appreciated.  I mean, they’re good for any meal of the day…like one of those “BLD’s” Rachel Ray likes so much.  Plus they’re so fracking easy to make and they last all week long…all I have to do in the eveing to prep for the day ahead is rinse out my tupperwares and add another piece.  Boom.

Ingredients

18 Eggs

8 oz Cooked Salmon, flaked

1 Red Bell Pepper, diced

1 Small Onion, Diced

1/2 Large Yam, grated

1 c Fresh Kale, shredded

1 t Sea Salt

1 t Black Pepper

2 t Rosemary

Instructions

Beat the eggs and spices with a wire whisk until foamy.

In a 15 x 10 x 2 inch greased baking dish, spread the kale on the bottom.  Add diced pepper and onion, then salmon, then sweet potato.

Pour the eggs over the filling and let sit for 5 minutes to let it settle.

Bake for 40 minutes at 375 degrees.  Allow to rest for 10 minutes before serving.  It also keeps in the fridge, covered, for up to a week.

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Metcon Monday: Half-Marathon Recap

Sorry for the lack of an actual metcon…I’m taking a rest day after the half.  I’ll post some nasty-looking race photos one I have them, I promise.

What We Did

Ross and I ran the Livestrong Austin Half-Marathon yesterday and have been wondering for some time how we’d fare with our new-found training philosophy.  In all honesty we weren’t sure what to expect–we did really well at the Super Spartan but that was only 8+ miles and had a ton of obstacles that played to our muscular strength.  So yesterday we were in for a very pleasant surprise…I finished at 1:58 and 22nd out of 145 military females.

That was 2667 Fitocracy points…NBD.

It’s not the fastest time ever but included a pee-break at mile 7 and was definitely 10 minutes faster than my last (formally trained, pasta-fueled) half-marathon in 2010.  Not breaking any records, but I’ll take it.

What Worked For Us

Both of us are veteran mileage junkies–I’ve mentioned on the blog several times how I went most of my college years running about 25-50 miles a week and spending any other free time I had on the elliptical or spin bike.  I’ve run more half-marathons than I care to recall, either on my own or formally.  Ross has a similar history…he’s run something like six half-marathons, four regular marathons, an ultra-marathon, and an ass-ton of marathon-length runs on his own.

When I came home off deployment, everything changed.  We were both used to suffering from adrenal fatigue and injuries and had finally decided to give the whole Crossfit thing a try and cut back on mileage.  That was in September.  Since then, we’ve been playing around a good deal with programming and what works for us (Ross is really loving Max Effort Black Box and I’m dabbling in it, too) but the only thing we haven’t changed is how little we run anymore.  Speaking for myself, I generally only run during the week if I have to for Company PT, which means it’s pretty slow and easy–about 3-4 miles at a 9 min/mile pace.  I’ll run on the weekend if I feel like it (again less and less), and I did a 5-miler last weekend to shake the rust off and prep for the half.  The longest I’ve run on a single day since September was the 8-ish miles of the Super Spartan.  My weekly mileage hasn’t topped 15.

What I have done significantly more of than ever before is speedwork.  I’ve been sprinting a ton and doing mid-distance (400-800m) intervals, as well as a lot of rowing and intense metcons like Tabatas.  Admittedly, in the last month I’ve been sprinting more and lifting less, but that was as much to do with being on the road as anything.  I can see a huge difference, however, in my explosive strength and speed.  I’ve never been a sprinter, but then again, I never really worked at it like this.

Finally, and this goes without saying, I’m healthier overall thanks to a better diet and much better attention paid to recovery time than I ever did before.  For example, 20-year-old me would run 15 miles one day, stuff my face with pizza and beer, then run 10 miles the next day because I was afraid of getting fat.  And, oh, by-the-way I wouldn’t hydrate or stretch or get any sleep in between, either.

…And What Didn’t

I wouldn’t feel right leaving you with a purely whimsical and happy recap of the race.  While I felt strong through most of it, there were definitely some consequences that came with the lack of mileage in the last six months.  The first 10k was great, and then the constant impact of feet on the asphalt started to catch up with me.  By the final hill, my hips were completely shot and Ross had to stop at one point for a minute thanks to some severe ankle pain.  The fact that we stayed downtown probably saved us both because we were forced to walk back to the hotel and cool down properly.  This morning I wasn’t so much “sore” in the muscles as I was ache-y in the joints in a way I’ve never really been after a long run like that.  Clearly my training had made me strong and fast enough to move across said distance at a decent gait, but the lack of running left my frame unprepared for sustained impact-inducing activity for such a long period of time.

I’m absolutely glad we did the race–I have a special place in my heart for this race in particular because Ross and I ran this same race together during our first month of dating–but the change in training and the results have reinforced a few things for me.  First, you don’t have to run a bazillion miles to do well in a long-distance race.  Speed and strength are so much more important, along with diet and recovery.  Second, long-distance running is not the best thing for me.  I still have a soft spot for the occasional jog with The Husky, but when it comes to distances like this, I think I might be doneskies.  I mean, training formally makes me feel like absolute sh*t, we established that, and now I know that the choices I’ve been making lately with regards to my training have been paying off and that I can do well in a long-distance race if I want to…so why beat a dead horse?

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Butternut Cherry-Coconut Bread

After a weekend of eating fairly complicated breakfasts–at all hours of the day, thanks to Magnolias–all I really wanted after we got home from running the half-marathon yesterday was something I could pull out of the fridge, schmear with coconut butter, and call it good.  Obviously I had to labor in the kitchen a bit to make it, so maybe the whole endeavor was counter-intuitive but this morning my lazy ass was extremely thankful.

Ingredients

2 c Almond Meal

1/4 c Flax Meal

2 Mashed Bananas

1 c Pureed Butternut Squash

4 Eggs

2 t Cinnamon

2 t Baking Soda

1/2 c Unsweetened Shredded Coconut

1 c Pitted Cherries, chopped

Instructions

Beat the eggs with an electric mixer until frothy and beat in the bananas and squash.  Mix in the remaining ingredients until well blended.  Spoon batter into a loaf pan or muffin tins.

Bake at 375 degrees for 1 hour (loaf) -OR- 30 minutes (muffins).

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Char Siu by Well Fed

I guess I’m cheating a little bit by not sharing a recipe of my own, but I really wanted to take an opportunity to make a recommendation for Melissa Joulwan’s book, Well Fed.  This is totally unsolicited–she’s got no clue who I am but her blog was one of the first Paleo/Crossfit blogs I ever read (seriously, second only to Mark’s Daily Apple) and not only is her food the Bomb-Diggity, she’s an awesome writer and has some killer advice and musings on everything from food to fitness to literature.  Plus she’s from Austin, and only cool people live in Austin.  So naturally, when I found out she was writing a book, it was in my Amazon shopping cart on pre-order faster than a pair of Manolos.

What I love about Well Fed is that it’s a well-rounded resource for the talented chef and newbie alike.  She’s got some recipes on the more complicated side and with some shockingly bold flavor combos (Chocolate Chili?! Booyah!) right next to a nice section on a weekly cook-up and how to throw together a quick dinner with just meat, veggies, and some simple spice mixtures.  Oh, and  everything is Whole30-approved so you can rest assured you’re getting the best of the best…except for one dessert at the end that’s honestly enough to get me frothing at the mouth.

Anyhow, my plug for the book wouldn’t be complete without a road test, so here’s my rendition of her Char Siu, or Chinese BBQ Pork.  Typical of so many dishes in the book, it’s inspired by her worldly travels and is replete with plenty of ingredients I would never think of using together…I was a little wary of the marinade and sauce (applesauce and tomato paste?  Ick…) but culinary queen she is, Mel makes it work.  What’s even better,the flavor actually got deeper and richer over the course of the three days it took us to finish it (like I said…ass-ton of chops…).  Trust me, you want to make this. Right now.

I’d definitely recommend this one for anyone new to Paleo, too, before most others.  The food here is not complicated.  It’s not Paleo-fied.  Mel spells it all out for you–what’s good, what’s bad, and how to make the most of what you’ve got.  It’s real, it’s simple, and it’s damn good.

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