Spaghetti Squash Lasagna

There has been a huge shift in my derby life. I can’t wait to get to the rink and lace up. I look forward to constructive critique. I adore my teammates. We come, we skate, we go home. We don’t sit around and gossip in the parking lot after practice about other teammates or the struggles with life/derby balance. I enjoy having the fresh meat around, no matter how many times they trip up the pace line, blatantly cut the track or backblock their way through walls.

I started coaching junior roller derby.

I’m sure there’s been some eyebrows raised over the last few months when I made the shift from skater to coach. After all, who in their right mind would let me around kids?! I’ve only received 1 MVP Blocker award in a bout yet named Life of the After Party two years in a row. I’m better at offending people with my obnoxious comments and sailor vocabulary than I am at holding a jammer. I’ll be the first to admit that even after skating for nearly 5 years there is a lot that I haven’t accomplished.

Giving up being a rostered skater was a decision I didn’t entirely make for myself. Between working longer hours, my mom’s passing, fear of re-injury, other goals and fostering a relationship with my boyfriend (now fiancé) I let derby take a smaller and smaller chunk of my life. It was an extremely bitter pill to force down, and its lodged still in my throat.

So I coach. It gives me the chance twice a week to lace up my skates and hang with some really cool people. I still see some of my old teammates as they come in for their practice, I have some of my old coaches helping me out and I have some of the NSOs and refs that I’ve known for years aiding me with practices. My group of kids are nothing short of awesome. They range from 3 years old to 17, and I mostly work with the kids who have had a little time on their skates. Thanks to some amazing coaches before me (Skatey Spice, Green Megs & Slam and Elle O’Kitty, among others) we have some top notch talent already. Thanks to some amazing coaches alongside me (Truth or Darron, Robusta Brews, and others) we’ll have the incoming freshies bout ready in no time.

And my heart explodes every time I show up. David Lee Wrath giving me my first whistle. Putting a freshie jammer out and watching her give the veteran kids a run for their money. Seeing five year old brothers and sisters knocking each other down with hip checks. When I had to miss 2 practices in a row and the kids were like, “Punk, where did you go? We thought you left us!”

If the aforementioned statement is not enough reassurance that I’m doing something right, I can always rely on Johnny 3:16 to remind me of how well I’ve adapted to coaching. Apparently even the parents dig my style as well. I also amaze myself at how well I turn sailor mode off.

Since our practices are Sunday and Tuesday late afternoons/evenings, I have to make sure I have dinner recipes that either Tim my fiancé or I can execute fairly quickly/easily. I’ve finally jumped on the spaghetti squash bandwagon last year and I love how versatile it is! I like this recipe in particular because you can do a lot of the prep work beforehand and have the lasagnas ready to pop in the oven after you put down the gear bag and before you hop in the shower. By the time you’ve gotten the derby stench off your body, you have a healthy and delicious home cooked meal.

Make this!

2 spaghetti squash
½ cup part skim ricotta cheese
1 cup mozzarella cheese
1 pound of a protein of your choice. I like lean sausage crumbles or diced chicken breast.
1 jar of your favorite marinara sauce

1. Preheat your oven to 400 degrees. Cut your squashes in half and scoop the centers. (I like to save the seeds for roasting and snacking later!)
2. Season squashes with a little salt, pepper and olive oil and lay cut-side down on a baking sheet lined with tin foil. Tin foil makes clean up a breeze. Bake these suckers for an hour.
3. Cook your protein of choice while your squash is baking. Set it aside.
4. After the squashes are done, let them cool until you can handle them. Take a fork and flake away the meat of the squash from the skins. Be careful not to rip the skins, since those are going to be delicious boats to Flavorville once you fill them back up.
5. Toss the spaghetti part of the squash with about 2/3 of the jar of marinara sauce, or more if you’d like.
6. Fill each squash shell with the sauced “spaghetti”, a layer of chicken, a layer of ricotta and then a layer of mozzarella.

Spaghetti Squash Lasagna

Spaghetti Squash Lasagna

All of the cheese

7. If you’re cooking these now, pop them back in the oven for 20-30 minutes until bubbling hot and melty. If you’re saving these for later, throw them in the fridge and when you’re back from derby practice they’ll be ready to cook!

Spaghetti Squash Lasagna

Fresh herbs make everything fancier

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DerbyGirlsEat – PhDiesel Edition

Wow, it’s been a hot minute since I posted here! I won’t lie; I skated in my last bout a few months ago. I say the term “last” loosely, since there is still a huge chunk of me that won’t fully accept the fact that I might never strap on my skates for a derby practice ever again. I’ve done a lot of thinking about this blog and where it’s going to go. Who wants to read a blog called “derby girl eats” that’s written by a girl who is not even a skater anymore?   sad_face

Well turns out people do, and friends have convinced me to continue endeavors. Once a derby girl, always a derby girl they say. It’s a good feeling!

Aside from a crazy busy schedule at work that initially took me off my skates, I was dealt a hearty blow with the passing of my mom on November 1. In short it has sucked the life out of me and although it was 6 weeks ago I’m still not 100% all here. For the first 2 weeks after that, I was a hermit. I lived in the same sweatpants and hoodie for a solid 4 days at one point during my week off of work for bereavement and my beloved boyfriend would pick up take out when I finally had an appetite and would remind to do things like brush my teeth.

My beacon of light was getting out to see State Wars in Daytona Beach. I finally felt OK to leave the safety of my couch and Netflix and see so many of my friends and watch the sport that had dominated my life for the past 4 years. If you didn’t make it out to State Wars, you missed some of the finest derby this state has seen since Franky Panky back in the summer. It makes me so happy that we pack so much great derby in this state. Between housing D1 powerhouses like Jacksonville and Tampa and D2 teams like Gold Coast and Ft. Meyers we have some damn fine talent. With Gold Coast’s Beach Brawl, Tampa’s Franky Panky and now State Wars we have a slew of world-class tournaments right here in our own backyard that you can access easily in 3 hours or less.

But aside from the amazing track action, derby peeps are just fun to be around. We’re a festive bunch! Between hearing Quadzilla and the boys from Team Texas giving side-splitting trackside commentary to seeing my all-time derby crush Tracy Akers showing up everyone with her twerking skills, I couldn’t help but have a good time. who weird al

The best part, though, was cheering on my friends and extended derby family on Team Florida as they played some amazing derby. Team Florida vs Team Denver (or Denocky as we stared calling it) was a real treat to watch, although every game was fantastic.excited 2

Though Team Florida had a robust and deep jammer rotation with the likes of Jamsterella and Little A (both former Team USA skaters), I was really looking forward to seeing PhDiesel do some work. Affectionately known as Diddy for short, PhDiesel is solid lean muscle that allows her to plow through walls and propel herself around the track. Why, yes, she does hold her doctorate in Kinesiology and is currently an assistant professor in the College of Education at the University of South Florida in Tampa. She teaches in the Physical Education program and just published a book that focuses on sociocultural issues in physical education with the goal of helping teachers become more aware of teaching and connecting with their students that might not share the same cultural background. No big deal.

Aside from landing a spot on Team Florida, she is a key jammer for Tampa Ro10476073_687716924596799_3400169225970794745_oller Derby on the track and helps develop their off skates training program. I was fortunate enough to train with Tampa for a short while before work took over my life, and once you’ve experienced their off skates training it’s easy to see how they’ve earned spots in Division 1 playoffs for years. Although 2013 wasn’t as strong of a showing as the team would have liked, 2014 told a different story. They defeated hometown favorites Santa Cruz, hungry and determined Blue Ridge and Terminal City who put up quite a fight in a nail-biting back-and-forth game. They played a very physical Minnesota and lost in what Diddy describes as one of the toughest game of their season. After coming in as the 7 seed, they left D1 Playoffs in Sacramento in the 5th spot. Again, no big deal.

Name: PhDiesel

Number: 2

League: Tampa Roller Derby

Tell me about yourself! When did you start derby?
I’ve always enjoyed being physically active – I ran track competitively in high school and college, and trained for half marathons and triathlons after grad school. I took a job at the University of South Florida in 2010. While out for drinks with a friend that was moving away one Saturday night, we ran into some derby girls and I asked some questions. Their next “meet and greet” was the following Monday. My friend convinced me that her “going away present” to her could be attending that meeting. That was July of 2011, and I think I’ve spent more time at our rink than in my office since that day!!!

What cool things have you done with your derby career? Where has it taken you?
I could never have imagined the cool people I’ve met and the amazing experiences I’ve had as a result of playing roller derby. I’ve visited some very cool cities with my travel team, competed against some LEGENDS of the sport, pushed myself to achieve things I didn’t think were possible, and experienced tremendous personal growth as well. It sounds extremely cheesy, but it’s absolutely true!!! Derby will change your life!

How has derby changed the way you feel about food?
I can definitely tell a difference when I’m eating “clean” and when I’m not – powering through a tough practice or driving a blocker out of play is a lot easier when I’ve had lean meats and veggies for dinner instead of something super processed, greasy, or fried. I definitely appreciate the “cheat” foods much more, and know what I can and can’t get away with if I want to perform at my best.10669263_577254685739943_4231087171482205089_o

What healthy foods can you not live without?
When I’m heavy into training, my fridge is stocked with raw veggies, hummus, cottage cheese, and greek yogurt. Steel cut oatmeal and sweet potatoes are must-haves in my pantry!

What is your guilty pleasure?
SWEETS! All of them! Ice cream, brownies, and peanut M&M’s especially. Although I’ve never met a french fry I didn’t like, either. Wheat beers. Red wine. Oh geez, I didn’t realize I had so many “guilty pleasures.” I’ll stop…

How do you cross-train off the track?
I like to do interval workouts that include exercises for strength, agility, and speed. I was a sprinter in high school and college, so I love the challenge of stair repeats, hill runs, or “suicides.” I’ve really scaled back on the amount of distance running I do during the season, because it feels counterproductive. I once made the mistake of training for a half marathon near the end of a derby season, and my body was NOT happy with me. My brain knew what I needed my legs to do, but my poor legs just couldn’t do that much when I was logging 10365316_946019882091767_638582284770806615_o40 miles a week. Lesson learned.

Any special pre-bout meal that you swear by?
I’m a creature of habit, so I’ve figured out an “eating routine” and what my body responds well to before a game. For breakfast, it’s oatmeal with almonds or dried fruit and brown sugar, a banana, and coffee (half-caff if our game is early). Even if we’re travelling, I can usually find that either at a grocery store or a coffee shop. For lunch, I usually stick to something that won’t weigh me down, like a turkey or chicken sandwich, which seems to have enough protein and carbs to fuel me. I usually have a coconut water about an hour before the first whistle (I know the research says that coconut water isn’t any more hydrating than regular water, but it makes me feel more hydrated, so I’ve stuck with this ritual!). If our game is later at night, I’ll have a Clif Bar to hold me over. My teammates tease me because I have a little insulated lunch bag that I bring with me to the bench with my water bottle, a gatorade, energy chews, and a banana (for halftime, of course). But I can throw my skate tool and chapstick in there, too. And now that I wear a faceshield on my helmet, I carry a small towel in there, in case I need to wipe off fingerprints or sweat. (I think they’re just jealous of my snacks!)

Tell me all about D1 in Sacramento… What are some things that you did to prepare, and what did you take away from Playoffs?
For our playoffs in Sacramento, I knew there was a chance that we wo10631296_946019342091821_4684561371912955622_ould face the #2 seed, and I’d need to be on top of my game to get through their blockers. I was really disciplined about my diet and training for the 6 weeks leading up to playoffs. I planned meals and snacks carefully throughout the day to make sure my body was getting the energy it needed for all of the extra training we were doing. I cut out alcohol altogether, which was tough, but not impossible. My sweet tooth is insatiable, so I had small portions when I did indulge so I didn’t go on any crazy binges. Besides, there’s calcium in ice cream, right??? Weekly grocery shopping and meal prep became a priority so that I wasn’t forced to eat any of my meals “on the go” and be faced with limited (or unhealthy) options. Our whole team had a training calendar to keep ourselves accountable and motivated, so I knew that there were 15 other skaters doing the same things I was doing.

We went in to playoffs as the number 7 seed, and ended up in 5th place at the end of the weekend. It was a great way to top off a really challenging season. We were so ecstatic! All of the “food sacrifices” that I felt like I made were really worth it, because I felt fantastic. Maybe it was all the adrenaline, but I know that eating well really contributed. Finishing the season the way we did only makes us more motivated for next year.

What is a go-to recipe that you’d like to share?
I’m not great about cooking nightly, so I really like crockpot recipes that I can eat throughout the week. One of my favorite recipes is a pesto lasagna with spinach and mushrooms! Here’s the recipe!

Ingredients:
2 (10 oz.) packages frozen, chopped spinach
2 cups sliced fresh mushrooms (I think I used baby Portabellos)
½ cup commercial pesto
¾ cup shredded part-skim mozzarella cheese
¾ cup shredded provolone cheese
1 15-oz. carton fat free ricotta cheese
1 large egg, lightly beaten
¾ cup grated fresh Parmesan cheese, divided
1 (25.5 oz) bottle tomato basil pasta sauce
1 (8 oz) can tomato sauce
Cooking spray
1 (8 oz) package precooked lasagna noodles (12 noodles)

Combine spinach (thawed/defrosted and drained), mushrooms, and pesto in a medium bowl. Stir to combine and set aside.

Combine mozzarella, provolone, ricotta, and beaten egg in a medium bowl, stirring well to combine. Stir in ¼ cup Parmesan and set aside. Combine the pasta sauce and tomato sauce in a medium bowl.

Spray 6-quart oval crockpot with cooking spray.

Spread 1 cup pasta sauce mixture in the bottom of the crockpot. Arrange 3 noodles over pasta sauce mixture; top with 1 cup cheese mixture and 1 cup spinach mixture.

Repeat the layers, ending with spinach mixture. Arrange 3 noodles over spinach mixture; top with remaining 1 cup cheese mixture and 1 cup pasta sauce mixture. Place remaining 3 noodles over sauce mixture; spread remaining sauce mixture over noodles. Sprinkle with the remaining ½ cup Parmesan.

Cover with lid; cook on LOW 5 hours or until done.

DerbyGirlsEat – I.M. Pain Edition

This year has been nothing but top-notch derby in the state of Florida. We’ve got skaters on Team USA, multiple teams going to playoffs and we’ve been bringing in more out-of-area teams than you can shake a skate at. Tournaments seem to be the big draw this year, and the ladies of Gold Coast Derby Grrls took things in one giant step forward by hosting Beach Brawl 2014 back in May. This was a great event that not only boasted some amazing line ups, but also gave several international teams a chance to get some serious bout experience against a slew of teams stateside. Overall, 6 countries and 24 teams were represented and we got a preview of Team USA.

Tampa Roller Derby did it again this year with Franky Panky, named in honor of mascot Frank the Flamingo. This derby tradition on our west coast has been going strong since 2010 and has brought Florida spectators bouts such as Jacksonville v Atlanta (2012) and my personal favorite Tampa v Philly (2013). 2014 was not a year to sk1270840_819884428041993_5245423649863925130_oip out with Tampa, Jacksonville and Charm City among others slated to play. Charm City has been a team I had admired from afar via WFTDA.tv and I couldn’t wait to see Nuckin’ Futz’s fancy footwork in person.

Another person I really wanted to see was CCRG All Stars Captain I.M. Pain. She really lives up to her name and bursts through packs with power, fueled on speed. She’s a very physical skater as most of her pictures show; she’s either in the air, throwing hits or flying around opposing skaters. Here she shares with us a little bit of her speed skating background, what its like to move from a local-level team to a WFTDA league and a tasty recipe.

 

Name: Kacey “I.M. Pain” Cappallo

Number: 1618 (Actually, it’s 1.618, but I had to give up the decimal point a while ago!)

League: Charm City Roller Girls

When did you start derby?
I went to my first practice in the Spring of 2009 with New River Valley, but then I had to take a short break to concentrate on the end of the semester (I was in grad school at Virginia Tech at the time) and a summer study abroad to Istanbul. So I didn’t really get going until the end of the Summer in 2009. I tried out for Charm City at the end of May 2010, after I graduated and moved to the Baltimore/DC area.

Like many skaters currently playing for Division 1 teams, Charm City is not your first league. What were some of the big changes that you encountered when you switched to CCRG from New River Valley?
NRV was a really small league when I started skating with them. They’re still on the small side, but back then we were lucky to fill a 10535695_821848804512222_7781574792322101276_oroster. That was a great way for me to start though. I had the skating background, but knew nothing about derby, other than that a few of my friends from speed were doing it. I hadn’t been on quads in a long time. I actually skated my first few practices on rentals. Moving to Charm, there was a huge difference. More practices, about 4 times the skaters, more than two officials, more responsibilities, and a much higher level of play. Skating in a smaller league (before they were even WFTDA apprentice!), I was able to get away with a bit more. I don’t mean that in a legality sense. I mean that I don’t think I really knew how to play derby before I came to Charm. I could rely much more on my skating ability. So, moving to Charm, it was an awakening. I’m pretty sure I just about died the first time Dolly Rocket hit me! I still obviously rely on my skating ability, but at some point, I actually had to learn how to play derby!10293756_777263025637467_7110165414662916901_o

You’ve been a speed skater for longer than some derby skaters have been alive. What drew you to the sports of speed skating and then roller derby?
I can hardly remember a time before I skated. I started competed in speed skating in 1988, when it was on quads. My dad’s parents met at a roller rink, so that’s why I think he started taking me so young. He grew up skating too. If you would have asked me 6 years ago, I never would have guessed that I’d be playing roller derby now. I was at speed nationals in 2008, chatting with Racer McChaseher from Detroit. She was telling us all about this new movie that she got to be an extra in (Whip It!). It was pretty exciting. After Nationals that year is when I found out I’d been accepted into grad school. I tried to keep speed skating, but the closest team was just outside of Roanoke, which was about an hour away from Virginia Tech. I couldn’t balance that drive, with the hours required for speed training with Grad School. My degree obviously had to take priority. I decided to just check and see if there were any local roller derby leagues, since Racer made it seem like a lot of fun. Turns out NRV was only 5 miles away. I didn’t actually contact them immediately, though. I ran into them out at a bar in Blacksburg, and they convinced me that night to join the team. So, I always joke that the way I got into roller derby is that I got picked up at a karaoke bar!

As we see more speed skaters crossing over to the world of derby, what are some words of advice that you can share?
Advice for the speed skaters joining derby? Don’t be afraid to hit back! Learn how to take the hit and keep going. Speed modulation! Advice for the non-speed skaters already in derby on how to deal with speed skaters joining derby? Take away their speed!

What are some of your favorite moments of your derby career so far?
I would say my favorite moment was making it to Champs (in 2010) my first season with Charm. That was also the first time Charm had made it to Champs. And then, skating at Champs that year in Chicago. My mom lives there, so she was able to come and watch us win our game the first day, against Minnesota. I was also very proud of the fight we put up against Rocky Mountain in the second day. That was the year they went on to win, so I was very proud of our team for doing so well against the would-be 2010 WFTDA Champs!

One of my newest favorite moments was skating at RollerCon in the East vs West All Star game. That was a lot of fun! It was such an honor to get to skate with and against some of the best in the world, and it didn’t hurt that the East won!

Do you even bother with additional cross-training anymore?

YES!! Always cross train! You can’t ever take it easy. The minute you rest, or think you’re good enough, that’s when someone passes you by! You have to keep raising the bar for yourself. Especially since derby is still evolving, there is always room to grow.

What are some key foods that you rely on to keep your energy up for practices and competition?
I eat a lot of hummus with vegetables, bananas, almonds, peanut butter, grapes. Really, anything that is easy to pack and stays good for long periods of time without refrigeration Bout days are always long, so I try to keep things that like on hand. At Champs in Chicago though, we always got back to the hotel so late that the only thing usually open was the Dunkin Donuts across the street. I ate a lot of bacon egg and cheese bagels that weekend! Since I had a pretty good showing, my husband and I joke now about that being my super food! 10387144_777264535637316_4249877214107703467_o

Any guilty pleasures we should know about? Can someone wave a chocolate chip cookie on turn 3 and hope that you’re distracted mid-jam?
I’m pretty focused during the game, so it’d have to be a pretty big chocolate chip cookie to get my attention! I’ll definitely take it after the game though! HA. I would say my biggest guilty pleasure for food is beef jerky!

 

 

Is there a favorite recipe that you’d like to share with readers?
Yes! This is one my husband and I found a few years ago that is pretty healthy, easy to make and super cheap!

Greek Pasta with Tomatoes and White Beans

2 (14.5 ounce) cans Italian-style diced tomatoes
1 (19 ounce) can cannellini beans, drained and rinsed
10 ounces fresh spinach, washed and chopped
8 ounces penne pasta (we switch up the shapes – lately we’ve been using Cellentani for this recipe)
1/2 cup crumbled feta cheese (though we often use Parmesan because we have it on hand)

We add garlic, basil, oregano, black pepper, and whatever other spice we’re feeling at the moment. I would also add mushrooms in, if my husband didn’t hate them!

Sometimes we add tomato paste to the recipe as well – if so, we also pour in some red wine.

1. Cook the pasta in a large pot of boiling salted water until al dente.

2. Meanwhile, combine tomatoes and beans in a large non-stick skillet. Bring to a boil over medium high heat. Reduce heat, and simmer 10 minutes.

3. Add spinach to the sauce; cook for 2 minutes or until spinach wilts, stirring constantly.

4. Serve sauce over pasta, and sprinkle with feta.

Coconut Curry Butternut Squash Soup

Man, being sick sucks. When you’re not running for the nearest roll of toilet paper to wipe your face of snot, you’re gasping for breath because you’re too congested. Sleeping on your side means waking up with one functioning nostril. Everything hurts. The only thing that feels good is your fluffiest sheets and your ass nestled among every last pillow you have on your bed.

Luckily for me, I’m not sick. But my boyfriend is. And yes, I do have a picture of him swallowed in a cocoon of feather duvet and pillows. It’s pretty flippin’ cute. I’ve never seen a boy appreciate 700-thread-count sheets that much, and I’ll save him the emasculation of posting it on here.

Just check my Instagram, in case he ever pisses me off. MWAHAHA.

We finally had our first cold front of the season. It only took till the last week of October for cold-ish air to come barreling through Orlando. My favorite part of living on the third floor of my apartment is being able to leave the windows open for all of the crisp Fall air to come in. And yes, I do consider 67 degrees to fall under the definition of ‘crisp’. We’ve left the windows open all night as well, when it actually dips down to the mid-50’s. It’s quite the treat.

So naturally the third wheel to this sick-boyfriend-cool-weather combination is soup. But not just any soup. For the next 2 months, we’re all obsessed with eating anything orange or belonging to the squash family. Pumpkin pie, pumpkin bread, pumpkin bagels with pumpkin cream cheese, and of course everyone’s favorite the Pumpkin Spice latte. Butternut squash soup is among this great and glorious category. I’ve tried my hand several times at creating that lovely, velvety smooth traditional butternut squash soup. You know the one that has just the right amount of sweetness, cinnamon, maybe nutmeg, and some other spices that I can’t seem to figure out and it always leaves me thinking I’m better off just buying it at Crisper’s or Panera Bread or some other place that gets soups right.

Not this time.

I perused Pinterest like I do for some inspiration and I came across a recipe for a Thai take on this classic. When I told the boyfriend, I saw the joy rise in his eyes. Apparently he has a thing for squash soups as well. Here’s my take on this recipe.

Do this!

2 Tbs coconut oil
1 sweet onion, diced
3 cloves of garlic, minced
1 Tbs fresh ginger, minced
3 Tbs red curry paste
4 cups of your favorite broth (meat or veggie)
1 large butternut squash, peeled and cut into 2” cubes
1 14 oz can of unsweetened coconut milk
Salt & Pepper
Lime for squeezing

1. Warm your coconut oil in a deep pot (the kind you’d cook your pasta in) over medium heat.

2. Add your onions, garlic, and a pinch of salt and coat in the oil. Let this cook about 5 minutes, until the onion are translucent.

3. Add your curry paste and ginger and stir to coat your onions. Isn’t that color lovely??

IMG_0083[1]

4. Drop in your chunks of squash, then add about 3 cups of your broth. Everything should be almost submerged. Bring this to medium-high heat and cover. Let it do its thing for 20 minutes, stirring once or twice. When done, take it off the heat.

5. Carefully add the contents thus far into a food processor or even a blender. Since the soup is scalding hot, keep the food chute (that place you stick your food in when you’re shredding it) or the hole in the lid of your blender uncovered. If not, the heat will build up and shit will hit the ceiling in the most literal of senses. If you’re worried about being splashed, gently hold a paper towel over the opening. Hit the pulse button a few time to get it started, then let it blend away until you see no lump of squash or pieces of onion floating around.

6. Pour your soup back into your pot and turn the heat back on to medium.

7. Add your can of coconut milk and stir thoroughly. Depending on thick your soup is (most likely depending on how much squash you used) you’ll need to add your last cup of broth. If you’re out of broth, you can thin the soup with some water. No biggie. Heat this through on medium heat.

8. Taste test! Do you need some salt and pepper? More than likely you will! Depending on what broth you use (low-sodium, who-cares-about-sodium) you may need to add some or not at all. Always season soups at the very end.

9. Serve up with wedges of lime to squeeze. The lime brightens up the soup and really highlights the coconut and ginger.

IMG_0086[1]

Dinner: Cube Steak

I whipped this original recipe up last weekend before our home bout. I was NSO’ing, so I didn’t really care about what I put into my body. I just wanted something hearty and comforting. I wanted to make cube steak earlier that week, so I had some on hand. I also had some baby portabellas and some leftover onions that needed to be used. Every time I tried to find a recipe for cubed steak I kept being told I needed to use canned soups and soup mixes.

Why is it so hard to make something flavorful and convenient without having to use sodium-packed mixes and canned soups?!

Turns out, it’s not. I grabbed my ingredients, took the basics of cube steak, and just started cooking.

Here we go!

You’ll need:

1 lb cube steak
1 cup Portobello mushrooms, sliced
1 onion, sliced
2 cloves of garlic, minced
Salt & Pepper
1 cup of flour
Butter or oil, or in my case bacon drippings (bacon makes it better…)
1 ½ cups of stock

Mushrooms, garlic, and onions. Great start!

Mushrooms, garlic, and onions. Great start!

1. Turn your burner on to medium-high heat. Melt a little butter or oil in the pan, just enough to slick the bottom.

2. Take your cube steak and season each side with salt and pepper. Lay it in a Tupperware bowl that you’ve put the flour into. Knock the sides of the bowl (over the sink!) to shake flour all over the steak. *This method is much easier and less messy than shaking things in a bag.* You could omit the flour, but the flour helps develop the rich gravy that you get at the end. Your call.

Dredging the cubed steak...

Dredging the cubed steak…

3. Fry each cube steak in the pan until each side gets a golden crust, about 5 minutes per side. Remove from the pan and set aside.

This smells amazing...

This smells amazing…

4. Add a little more butter or oil to the pan, again just enough to slick the bottom. Add your mushrooms, garlic, and onions. Sautee until the onions get a golden brown color to them.

More amazing smells...

More amazing smells…

5. Slide the cube steak back in, pour in any drippings that may be left on the plate, and add your stock.

6. Cut the heat down to medium-low, cover, and simmer for about 20 minutes. Halfway through, turn the cube steaks.

7. Pair with some mashed potatoes and veggies. I had some brussell sprouts that I roasted. Then I did my hair in a cute pin up bandana and enjoyed my retro meal!

Cubed Steak with Roasted Brussell Sprouts

Cubed Steak with Roasted Brussell Sprouts

Dinner: Lentil, Bacon, and Rosemary Soup

I’m pretty sure this is my favorite take on lentil soup. It’s just the right amount of broth, the lentils haven’t soaked up all of the liquid, and if you keep your veggies roughly chopped you’ll end up with a hearty, rustic soup. Split pea soup should be creamy in my book, but lentil soup should have lots of texture. For only using a cup of lentils, this recipe actually yields a good amount. Freeze extra in bags or containers and reheat later when you don’t feel like cooking or for an easy lunch.

You’ll need:

1 cup of lentils
3-4 strips of bacon, chopped
1 onion, diced
1 leek, chopped and rinsed thoroughly
2 celery stalks, chopped
2 carrots, diced
2-3 sprigs of fresh rosemary, chopped
2 bay leaves
1 14oz can on whole plum tomatoes
1 ¾ quarts of stock
Salt and pepper to taste

1. Brown the bacon in a heavy pot until crisp on medium-high heat. Add the onion and sauté until the onions are translucent.

Everything is better with bacon...

Everything is better with bacon…

2. Add the leek, celery, carrot, rosemary and bay leaves. Stir everything to coat with the bacon drippings, and cook 3-5 minutes.

The base for the soup

The base for the soup

3. Add the canned tomatoes (juices included) and the stock. Bring to a simmer, then cut the heat down to medium-low. Cover the pot and simmer for 2 hours.

4. Season to taste with salt and pepper. Serve hot with crusty French bread!

Dinner: German Venison Stew

This recipe happens to be a lovely mix of my German and redneck ancestries. It is a take on a Tyrolean Game Stew, but instead of using a few pounds of liver, gizzards, and meat from any number of varmint I will be using some lean venison stew meat provided by my dad after this year’s hunting season. This recipe has quite a few steps, some of which I don’t understand, but for the sake of following this recipe as best as I can I’ll stifle my complaints and just go with them.

Of course, not everyone has access to venison. If your family is lacking someone with a hunting license and the time to sit in a tree stand for hours on end, feel free to use beef. The main differences you’ll notice immediately is how lean and dark the venison is- it’s a beautiful shade of burgundy, almost purple in some cuts. Your mind will instantly tell you, “This is the red meat I should always be putting into my body!” As far as the taste, venison does have a slightly stronger flavor. A good deer that had been foraging on a healthy diet and then properly cleaned and butchered shouldn’t have much of that notorious ‘gamey’ taste.

Here we go!

You’ll need:
2 lbs of venison stew meat, cubed into uniform chunks
5 cups of water
3 Tbs of white vinegar
Salt
1 carrot, peeled and sliced
1 stalk of celery, sliced
1 leek, sliced and thoroughly washed
1 onion, sliced
8-10 peppercorns
4 cloves
1 bay leaf
4 slices of diced bacon, or 2 Tbs of bacon drippings or butter
2 Tbs flour
1 Tbs sugar
½ cup of red wine

1. Add your spices (the clove, bay leaf, peppercorns) and veggies (leek, onion, carrot, celery) to the 5 cups of water and white vinegar. Salt the water, like if you were cooking pasta. Bring to a simmer and add the venison.

2. In a separate pot on medium-high heat, add your bacon and fry until the fat has rendered out. If you’re not using bacon, melt down the butter or bacon drippings. Remove the bacon (if you’re using it) and add the flour. This is called a roux, and will give your stew a gravy-like consistency. Take your time with this, and do not walk away! Baby it. Love it. Nurture it. If given time (about 8-10 minutes), it will develop a nutty smell and a deep, rich color.

Starting to cook the roux...

Starting to cook the roux…

3. Once you get the roux to the color of cocoa powder, add the sugar. Sugar burns quickly, so let it cook only another minute or two and do not walk away.

4. Whisk in 3 cups of the simmering venison broth, one cup at a time. Let it simmer for 10 minutes, and whisk vigorously to make sure the lumps get out. photo

5. Drain the meat and veggies from the broth. Add the meat and veggies to your gravy along with the red wine, and toss the remaining broth.

6. Let this simmer together for another 20 minutes uncovered.

German Venison Stew

German Venison Stew