April 2012 archive

Just Married

This weekend was a whirlwind of flowers, poufy dresses, hairspray, family, friends, feather boas (that’s how I roll), and emotions–good ones!

I’ve been reflecting a lot lately and can’t believe all that’s happened in the past year.  On this day a year ago, I was in Iraq and nowhere near close to coming home.  It was just starting to get hot while Ross was dealing with the homefront in the worst way possible.  There is almost nothing as frustrating as being on the other side of the world from the person you love most when they need you the most.  Since then, I have returned home and been uprooted from the first home we had together (although Colorado is awesome!) for a brand new job I know nothing about and Ross is leaving the service and starting a new job with suits and ties, iPads, and frequent flyer miles.  Along the way we ran into some nasty bumps in the road and have been dealing with some knarly consequences of our line of work, but are making it through–one day at a time–with a whole lot of tears but a whole lot of laughter, too.

Oh, yeah…and we just got married.

We’re packing up the last of our little home here in Austin and will make the trek up to the Rockies tomorrow.  I already decided I won’t be blogging this week so that Ross and I can have a chance to sit back, relax, and just enjoy each other a little after what has been quite a series of life changes all at once.

See you soon!

-Camilla

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Odds ‘n’ Ends

This week is nuts.  Like…certifiably.  Especially my food, which for the last 4 days has been egg muffins, Thai sausages (see below!), and chunks of this pork shoulder I threw in the crockpot on Saturday:

…and as soon as this baby runs out I’m probably going to subsist on eggs and sausage until Friday night at the rehearsal dinner.  Sad, I know.  However, there’s a handful of fun stuff I’ve been obsessing over lately I thought I’d share with you.  Probably the Bridezilla in me taking over every aspect of my life, but I’ve been making a lot of lists lately…

1.  Thai sausage.  Holy hell, these are good.  I’ve been getting them at the Wheatsville Co-op in Austin, but I can’t find anywhere that carries them in Colorado.  I might have a meltdown.  There may very well be a few dozen kilos of these babies in the car when I head back up next week.

2.  Roast Brussels sprouts with eggs.  Just do it.  Cut them in half, drizzle with olive oil and sea salt, then roast for 30 minutes at 350 degrees.  Serve with runny eggs.  The yolks get soaked up in the insides of the sprouts and…just OMG.

3.  Lettuce wraps.  So easy and great on the go.  My respective road trips to and from Colorado and Galveston were fueled by a metric ass ton of them.  I’m especially addicted to Applegate Farms Herbed Roast Turkey with avocado slices and mayo.  LOTS of mayo…

4.  Instagram.  I finally jumped on the bandwagon and, while I still think it’s a royal pain in the ass to take one photo at a time and I haven’t figured out if you can even zoom in or out, I think it might add a little zest to some photos for the blog.  At lease until I can afford a fancy-schmancy camera…

5.  STEAK.  I got these gorgeous grass-fed ribeyes up in C-Springs and we had a great celebratory dinner the night before we left.  I want more.  Like, every day for the rest of my life.

6.  Vital Farms eggs.  They’re Austin locals but I found them in Colorado, too.  I’m on the lookout for CO eggs because closer is better, but it’s good to have and old standby :)

7.  One-dish meals.  If you don’t feel like busting out the crockpot, just throw together some meatballs and add veggies to the baking dish.  Or just bake any protein with veggies.  Easy.

8.  “Snapper Bristol.”  Holy hell this was good…Ross and I both ordered it at a nice little place in Galveston: grilled snapper, shrimp, and scallops smothered in Hollandaise.

9.  Avocado muffins.  I’m tweaking the recipe and will throw it up as soon as I get a fracking minute to bake something, but I’m so super proud of them.  21DSD approved!

10.  These two.

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Roasted Garlic Guacamole Salad

Guess what?!  My car broke down…again.  But that’s not the part of today’s story you need to hear.

So, anyway, my car broke down and I had to take it back to the shop this morning–and the shop I like just so happens to be all the way down near Ft. Hood.  To kill some time, I met Ross for lunch and decided to get a free workout in at the gym.  The gym at Ft. Hood is the part I’ll miss the most because they have a full Crossfit gym and we can take Crossfit classes for free thanks to a VERY generous donation from Greg Glassman.

OK, so even though I was super bummed to have to be on post while I’m on leave, I marched my booty into the gym and I did a Crossfit Total just for sh*ts and giggles.  I mean, it’s been a few months since my last one and it’d be nice to have a benchmark near my wedding, right?  Or something like that..?

Oh! Oh!  I can’t even stand it!  I added 61 pounds!  Maybe that doesn’t sound like much to some more elite athletes out there, but I was thrilled considering my training volume has been on the lighter side this past month thanks to Life Changes.  I’m also pumped because most of that increase was the deadlifts and squats–I was sucking a little (or a lot) on my shoulder press and only raised that one by 7 lbs.  My squat went up 27 lbs and DL was up 27 lbs.  It also put me halfway between the “intermediate” and “advanced” categories, so it’s some nice motivation to pump some iron.  Not too shabby for someone who was a full-fledged noodle this time last year.

OK, now food.

This is sort of a deconstructed guac–it’s got all the elements, except that nothing gets pureed.  I’ll say it’s because I wanted to snazz up one of my absolutely favorite things.  Totally not because the movers took my food processor.

Ingredients

1/2 c Whole Garlic Cloves

1 T Olive Oil

2 t Sea Salt

4 Slices Bacon, fried and chopped

4 Large Avocados, diced

1 c Cherry or Grape Tomatoes

1 Onion, diced

1 Jalapeno Pepper, diced

2 T Fresh Lime Juice

1/4 c Olive Oil

1 t Black pepper

1 t Chili Powder

Instructions

Combine garlic cloves, 1 T olive oil, and sea salt.  Spread out over a baking sheet covered in parchment paper.  Bake for 30 minutes at 450 degrees, making sure to toss halfway through.  Allow garlic to cool.

Combine remaining ingredients in a large mixing bowl.  Add the roasted garlic cloves.  Cover and refrigerate for at least 3 hours to allow the flavors to marry.  Serve over chopped lettuce, with pulled baked chicken, or with eggs for a special breakfast treat ;)

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Simply Pancakes

There’s only so eggs a gal can eat straight up with bacon or sausage until she gets a little bored (but dammit if they aren’t just so gosh darn convenient).  This morning I woke up and spent a good minute and a half standing over a hot skillet with a package of bacon in one hand and carton of eggs in the other before I surrendered.  Nope, not today, folks.

Today was a pancake day.

You all know just how much I yearn to find the perfect Paleo Pancake recipe…and while I don’t know if this is The One, I managed to put together an exceptionally moist and fluffy pancake–which is a feat for me because I’ve struck out oh-so-many times when using coconut flour.  I mean…just LOOK!

Yes, so light and airy.  Of course, I slathered mine in butter and cinnamon…they tasted like little beignets!

Some added bonuses are the super-short ingredient list (good for me and my almost-bare kitchen), complete lack of sugar, high protein content, and ease of cooking.  This is honestly the first time I’ve cooked a coconut flour pancake without having to man-handle the damn things off the pan just to flip them over.  You can probably personalize it a little bit, too–there’s nothing super original about a plain old pancake recipe–and now that I managed to put something together that isn’t terrible, you can count on some fun variations in the near future ;)

Ingredients

(Serves 2)

1/4 c Coconut Flour

1/4 t Baking Soda

4 Eggs

3 T Coconut or Almond Milk

Butter or Coconut Oil for Frying

Instructions

Use a wire whisk to blend the coconut flour with the baking soda and remove any lumps.  On a separate bowl, beat the eggs and coconut milk until frothy.  Combine the wet and dry ingredients and beat with a whisk until smooth.  Allow to rest for 10 minutes to let the coconut flour absorb all the liquid.

Heat a skillet over medium heat.  Melt some butter or oil (more is better, I started with a generous tablespoon), then spoon the batter into the pan. Don’t make the pancakes too big or they might be hard to flip–about 3 inches across should work well.  Cook for 2 minutes or so on each side, then remove onto a plate.  Add more butter/oil to the pan as needed.  You can cover them in foil and place in a 200-degree oven to keep warm while you finish cooking all of the pancakes.

Serve with your choice of toppings.  I like mine simple with butter and cinnamon, but fruit compote or maple syrup would be lovely, too!

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Tex-Mex Egg Muffins

We’ve been running around a whole lot since we got back from the beach, mostly because the wedding is THIS WEEKEND and there’s a whole hell of a lot left to do.  No, really.  I was SOOOO proud of myself for booking vendors early, getting my dress early, getting the venues early…but who’ve thought I still needed, like, decorations and stuff.  And guestbooks and favors and programs.  And shoes…yep, still need shoes.

Our parents are here and helping where they can, but thanks to the empty house (PS getting enough sleep is a major problem with an air matress…so I’m cranky, too) stress levels are high and every other minute we realize we’re missing something that the movers took.  Ross left all of his suits in Colorado, for example.  He was not pleased.

My point here is that square meals don’t really exist anymore.  If I were a normal bride, I’d be working out a bazillion hours a day and just not eating, period, so I can be sure to look super skinny in all the pictures.  But I’m not…I’m such a stress-eater, it’s ridiculous.  So, I’m at least doing what I can to make sure that I’ve got hearty snacks on hand.  That, and pray that I can’t gain that much weight in a week…

Ingredients

(Makes 12 Large Muffins)

12 Eggs

1 Onion

1 c Mushrooms

4 Jalapeno Peppers

1/2 lb Ground Beef

1/2 c Pico de Gallo

1/2 t Chili Powder

Salt and Pepper to taste

Instructions

Dice the onion, mushrooms, and two of the jalapenos.  Brown the beef and add the pico, seasoning, and veggies.  Stir to combine until the onion is translucent.  Remove mixture from heat and allow to cool slightly.

Spoon mixture into muffin cups.  Beat the eggs together with a whisk or in a blender (way easier).  Pour egg over the mixture evenly over all of the muffin cups, allowing it to settle into the filling.

Slice the remaining two jalapenos into 12 pieces and place on top of each muffin.  Bake the muffins at 375 degrees for 25 minutes.  Serve with guac.  Lots and lots of guac ;)

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Baked Jicama Fries

I’d never even heard of a jicama until I went Paleo–mostly because a lot of people seem to like using them in a sort of mock-potato salad.  Just smother chunks of the stuff in mayo…maybe a little dijon mustard and chopped veggies…mmmmmm!

But then I heard through the blogospheric grape vine that you can make fries out of them too.  I [heart] fries…of all kinds.  Totally democratic that way ;)

Only problem was that jicama has a pretty tough texture that doesn’t always lend itself to cooking or baking.  It’s fine raw but I wanted a nice, warm, soft interior and crispy exterior.  I wanted fries, duh.  I saw a few recipes that called for frying  them, but thanks to my minimalist kitchen these days that wasn’t an option.  That, and I was feeling lazy.

Despite being lazy the jicama experiment took some patience because as it turns out, jicama fries are a much bigger pain in the ass than, say, sweet potato or eggplant fries.  Don’t worry, I’m being dramatic.  In this case “pain in the ass” = “takes longer to cook.”  I’m really, really impatient when I’m hungry.

Ingredients

(Serves 2)

1 Large Jicama

3 T Olive Oil

1 T Sea Salt

Instructions

Preheat the oven to 425 degrees.  Cover a cookie sheet with parchment paper.

Cut the jicama into fry-sized strips.  Make sure they are only about 1/2″ on each side (if they’re too thick they won’t cook through).  Blot with a paper towel to remove excess moisture and place into a large mixing bowl with the oil and salt.  Mix well and arrange on the cookie sheet with at least 1/2″ between fries.  Use another sheet if you run out of space.

Bake for 45 minutes, or until browned slightly on the outside and soft on the inside.  Serve with LOTS of Cave Ketchup.

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Garlic-Jalapeno Meatballs & Spaghetti (Squash)

You absolutely must forgive the lack of blog traffic this past week–the Man and I managed to take a must needed trip down to the Gulf to get a little sunshine and palm tree action before the wedding.  We’re not taking a honeymoon after the wedding (at least not for a while), and with all these life changes coming up all at once we just needed to get away.

OH MY FRACKING GOODNESS MY WEDDING IS IN EXACTLY SEVEN DAYS.

Anyhoo, we had a great time.  We got a ton of sleep, had some amazing seafood, and I actually have something that resembles a tan.  Win!

This is a nice little spin on your same old booooooooring spaghetti squash and meat sauce.  I mean, you really can’t go wrong with that one but sometimes I like to get a little crazy, ya know?

Ingredients

1 lb Ground Beef

1 lb Ground Pork

3 Jalapeno Peppers

1 Small Onion, diced

1 Bell Pepper, diced

3 Garlic Cloves, minced

2 Eggs

1/4 t Sea Salt

1/2 t Black Pepper

1/2 t Chili Powder

3 T Olive Oil

1 Jar Tomato Sauce (check your labels to make sure it’s clean!)

1 Spaghetti Squash

Instructions

Combine the beef and pork with veggies, eggs, and seasonings and mix well with your hands to incorporate everything.  *Chef’s note…it’s easier than you think to accidentally get jalapeno juice in your eyes.  Just sayin’…

Pour the tomato sauce into a large pot and bring to a simmer.

In a heavy skillet, heat the olive oil to medium-high heat.  Shape the meat mixture into balls and place gently into the hot oil.  Brown on all sides (but don’t cook through), then carefully transfer meatballs to the pot with the tomato sauce.  When all meatballs are in the pot, cover and allow to simmer for at least 30 minutes.  The longer the sauce is allowed to cook with the meatballs, the more flavorful it will be!

Either bake or microwave the spaghetti squash.  Serve with meatballs and sauce.

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Lemon Basil Pound Cake

You’d think that I’d be starving myself…I mean, it is less than two weeks until my wedding.  And yeah, I am a little paranoid my dress won’t fit and the grandkids will look back on the pictures of me stuffed into it like sausage.

But you know what?  I’m a terrible dieter, and given that the wedding is stressful enough without everything else going on at the same time–moving to Colorado, new job, my spouse leaving the Army and looking for a new job, other fun stuff I’m being more private about–I think trying to put restrictions on would drive me over the edge.

I suppose that brings me to the fact that I’ve been baking a lot lately.  I’ve made four batches of these since their inception, and now I have something else spring-y and delicious.  I really, really wanted something sweet that I could dunk in my coffee…and this cake is actually really refreshing and light on its own.

Ingredients

2/3 c Coconut Flour

6 Eggs

1/2 c Coconut Butter

1/3 c Local Honey

1/2 t Salt

1 t Baking Soda

Juice and Zest of 1 Lemon

1/3 c Chopped Fresh Basil

Instructions

Beat the eggs and add coconut butter, honey, salt, baking soda, lemon zest and juice, and basil.  Add the coconut flour a bit at a time, beating all ingredients until well combined.  Batter will be thick.

Bake in a loaf pan at 350 degrees for 1 hour, or until a knife inserted comes out clean.

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Sausage-Stuffed Apples

We’re back in Texas for the next two weeks…you know, for that special little day in 13 days.  You know.  My wedding!  *Eeek!!*

I’m really going to miss our home here more than I can say.  I’ve absolutely fallen in love with Austin and was really looking forward to settling down a bit after I got back from deployment, but what can I say?  The Army has other plans for me, and there are certainly worse places to be than right on the mountains of Colorado ;)

Anyhow, I had been floating an idea like this in my head for a while, since this picture on Pinterest got me wanting to stuff apples full of something and last night’s Iron Chef America (Flay v. Hastings) got me obsessed with sausage.

This was a great dinner.  Like…the kind of GREAT I can’t talk about on a family-friendly site.  It’s probably a good breakfast, too, but I adore breakfast-y, brunch-y stuff for dinner.  If you don’t you’re just not an American.  I know pretty much the whole Paleosphere is on a 21-Day Sugar Detox right now, but I beg you…BEG YOU…to drizzle a little maple syrup on top of these before stuffing them in your face.  Just a little.  It’ll be the difference between culinary perfection and Nirvana.  You’re welcome.

Ingredients

6 Granny Smith Apples

1 T Coconut Oil

1 lb Pork Sausage

1 Egg

1/2 Onion

1 Medium Carrot

1/4 c Pecans, chopped

1/4 c Chopped Dates

1/4 t Black Pepper

1/4 t Cinnamon

Instructions

Carefully cut out the core of the apples and create a nice little cavity for the stuffing.  Leave at least 1/2″ of flesh all around.

 

Grate the onion, carrot, and celery in a food processor, or at least dice them all really fine.  Set aside.

Heat the oil over medium-high heat and brown the sausage.  Remove to a mixing bowl, reserving the grease in the pan.  Add the veggies to the drippings and cook for 3-4 minutes.  Add veggies to ground sausage along with the pecans, dates, pepper, egg, and cinnamon.

 

Fill the apples with the sausage stuffing and arrange in a baking dish.  Sprinkle the tops with a little more cinnamon if desired.  Bake at 350 degrees for 40 minutes, until heated through.

 

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Endeavoring to Live

I read a lot of blogs and random sites about health and fitness on a daily basis.  I follow significantly fewer regularly, not because they’re bad but because the shitty thing about writing in general is that it takes something a littl extra to really grab someone’s attention and get them to keep coming back for more.  I can’t explain exactly what that special something is, but it’s there…know what I mean?

OK, so what I’m getting at is that when I do come across something that I literally can’t get enough of, I get excited.  Like finding a new favorite food (jalepenos, anyone?).  And in this case, it happened to be a friend of mine–I feel like a complete ass-hat for not sharing her blog sooner, btw–and her blog is really something special.  Not only is Ashley totally cool because she likes Paleo and Crossfit (like, legit Games-level and could break me in half) but because she takes it all in a completely different direction into mental skills coaching.  It’s a refreshing change from all the chatter on the web that does little but obsess over food and body image (like me!), and she’s super smart and really ties it all together in a way you won’t find anywhere else.

Here we are at Airborne school together. Awwwww :)

My favorite post is this one–relating the whole idea behind Locus of Control to her personal experience competing in the Crossfit open while dealing with the same old work BS we all so sometimes.  In this case, she had staff duty all night knowing she still had to show up and kick ass at the gym the next day.   But you know what’s awesome and kind’ve makes me hate her?  She’s one of those folks who can focus on an internal locus of control, and explains exactly how–especially in a sport like Crossfit–this ability makes an athlete extremely valuable.

Me…well, I’ve actually had tantrums when the staff duty roster came out for the month.  More than once.  Don’t you dare judge me.  If you want to be scientific about it, I’m a victim of the external locus of control.  I mean, holy hell, am I a whiner.

Ultimately, though, Ashley’s a phenomenal writer and draws from her life experiences to bring some great ideas to the table.  These stories are real, relevant, captivating, and unbelievably inspirational.

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