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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Beach Picnics Part 1 – Chicken Salad Sandwiches

The last couple of weekends I’ve been lucky enough to have Tim free on Sundays. Since we sometimes work opposite schedules, it’s a real treat when we both have a day off. We had been making a routine of hitting up brunch at The Hammered Lamb over on Ivanhoe Row. It’s the only place that has been able to break me of my standard eggs benedict and mimosa meal. Now I always order a BLT and their bloody mary bar. I’m definitely one of those classless assholes that tops their bloody mary with four pieces of bacon, two skewers of blue cheese stuffed olives, a few artichoke hearts and a stick of string cheese. I tried their BLT on a whim, since I’ve had a very strict policy ever since I was a toddler that bread and vegetables like raw tomato and lettuce should never meet. Sometimes food just beckons you, I suppose.

There is also a very distinct flavor in their BLT. They use an herbed mayo that is rife with thyme. I love herbs on my eggs, and its not uncommon for me to sprinkle herbes des Provence on eggs when cooking breakfast at home. I feel like you usually find thyme in much more rich and savory dishes, like French onion soup or anything else where beef is simmered for hours. But thyme also has a wonderful flavor that works well with lighter dishes, like eggs and chicken.

The Florida summer has really had me yearning for the beach, however. I usually never go because I got in the habit of only going for 2 or 3 hours and then heading home. When I was growing up in New Smyrna Beach, that was fine. Now that I live in Orlando and it’s easily an hour before I can even put a foot in the sand, I’d rather make a day of it. Tim and I took our brunch money and invested in all the tools necessary to make us look like every other Orlando resident that I grew up annoyed by yet thankful for; my beach umbrella, cooler and chairs a reminder of my time working at Mon Delice where I’d make sub sandwiches and box pastries up for the tourists.

I had been wanting to hit up Playalinda in Titusville. To keep us on the beach, I decided I’d pack the cooler with a great picnic spread. First, I’d make big chicken salad sandwiches on wheat buns. I chopped up some cucumber slices and celery sticks to go with hummus. For dessert, I made rosemary lemon shortbread cookies. Those actually turned out to be quite the Pinterest Fail, and I’ll be sure to post all about that so you can enjoy. For good measure I grabbed the vodka and a bottle of bloody mary mix.

Chicken salad is one of those recipes that I always forget how much I like. Although it can be labor-intensive, I enjoy how few ingredients it takes. Its also pretty cheap to make because I take bone-in, skin-on chicken breasts and roast them in the oven. Not only are they half the cost of boneless, skinless chicken breasts, but they have so much more flavor and moisture when you cook them.

The labor-intensive part is standing in the kitchen pulling the meat from the bone and shredding it by hand. Not only will you be able to make sure you separate the little bones and bits of cartilage, but I think the long shreds hold the sauce nicely and give a different texture. I also have made this recipe with salmon I’ve cooked. Salmon goes wonderfully with either herb, but especially with dill. Again, you’ll want to flake the salmon apart by hand; that will keep the thick flaky texture instead of mushy like bad tuna fish salad.

There are other ingredient swaps you can use in this recipe. For the mustard, I have Dijon listed. I’m also a big fan of stone ground mustard or even deli-style mustard with chicken in particular. I like to use a combination of half mayo – half low fat Greek yogurt to lighten it up. I’ve also made this with just Greek yogurt, but we like the extra richness the mayo gives. Play around with the proportions that you like, or even try with a vegan or paleo mayonnaise. Get funky.

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2 Chicken breasts with the bone in and skin on, or about 3 cups of cooked shredded chicken
1 Cup celery, diced
½ Cup Mayo
½ Cup Greek Yogurt
¼ Cup Dijon mustard
1 Tbs. Thyme or Dill
Salt and Pepper, to taste

1. If you’re starting with uncooked chicken, bake the chicken breasts skin-side up in an open pan at 400 degrees for 45 minutes. Let them cool until they are cool enough to handle with your hands.

2. Discard the chicken skin… Or snack on it like I do while I make this! Its like chicken bacon.

3. Shred the chicken using your hands.

4. Combine all ingredients except the salt and pepper and mix thoroughly.

5. Check the mixture for seasoning. Some mustards have different flavors, so get a feel for where your flavors are at before adding additional salt and pepper. I usually will add about 1 teaspoon of salt at this point.

6. Let the mixture sit in the fridge for at least an hour before making your sandwiches.

DerbyGirlsEat – Blaque Jac Edition

In case you’ve been living under a rock the past few years, Florida roller derby is not to be messed with. Packed in our state we have no less than 6 WFTDA leagues: Jacksonville, Gainesville, Tallahassee, Gold Coast, Tampa and Fort Myers. A few more leagues have been added to the WFTDA Apprentice program, and there are several more local leagues all over the state. We’ve got no less than 85 women coming to try out for Team Florida for the upcoming State Wars tournament this Sunday. Yours truly will be there, though I have no expectations of making the final roster. When you’re trying out against the likes of Little A (former Team USA skater) and Ms. Jax’em (world champion speed skater) you tend to just be happy if you can show up and maybe make a block or two.

However, the best part about Team Florida is not the amount of concentrated skating talent that we have, but rather the support that we all have for the leagues. When someone posts an open scrimmage, you’d better sign up fast because those slots are going quick. When you go to a game, you’ll see at least 3 other leagues coming to show love to the 2 teams playing. Tampa is playing Jacksonville on Saturday, and it’s blowing everyone’s mind. It’s like trying to pick one bestie over another; you can’t really predict who will win even if you wanted to.

So in the spirit of showing some love to Team Florida, I’m starting out a new spin I’m putting on DerbyGirlEats by featuring some recognizable names in the derby community from right here in the Sunshine State! My first interview is with the most feared booty on the west coast of Florida. I think my favorite moment watching this girl skate was during Franky Panky 2013 when she gave a slay ride to Antidote of the Philly Roller Girls on turn 3. It was like seeing that clip of Beyonslay and Rice Rocket for the first time, but in real life and at eye level. Gorgeous.

daaaamn

And, of course, who can hate on those dance moves? Bitches be stealing that shit. The first time I saw Lloimincia Hall’s floor routine I thought, “I’ve definitely seen Blaque Jac do that already. On skates.”

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Name: Jacqueline “Blaque Jac” Thermitus

Number: 21

League: Tampa Roller Derby1532077_706499196056705_879210174_o

Tell me about yourself! When did you start derby? I started derby in March 2009 in Bradenton with the Bradentucky Bombers and transferred to Tampa Roller Derby on March 2012.

Aside from being sponsored by Bont, what cool things have you done with your derby career? Where has it taken you? One of the super cool things that I have done was travel to Los Angles for the LA Derby Dolls annual Banked Track Bootcamp where I got to play in front of thousands of derby fans and with tons of amazing skaters all while playing on the banked track. Being on the Tampa Roller Derby all-star travel team, the Tampa Tantrums, has taken me all over the US as well.

How has derby changed the way you feel about food? As I became more and more competitive in roller derby, I have been more and more aware about my food choices. As a thicker girl then most derby players, I still have to eat right but s1396800_612174085490292_1247098647_otill eat enough to fuel my body for practice and game day.

What healthy foods can you not live without? Baked Chicken is a must! Broccoli and asparagus are my two favorite greens. I’m starting to not live without water… I know funny right, but being a Pepsi drinker quitting soda altogether was a hard challenge for me.

What is your guilty pleasure? Publix Jumbo Chocolate Chip Cookies

How do you cross-train off the track? I try to do different things. I really like going to either a kickboxing class or cross training boot camp.

Tell us a little bit about your game day juice! My “crack juice” is Celsius! I drink one of those per game or sometimes I even mix it with water. I like that it gives me that boost of energy right when I need it.

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Tell me all about D1 in Richmond… What are some things that you did to prepare, and what did you take away from Playoffs? To prepare for Richmond the Tampa Tantrums did a lot of team bonding. I know you weren’t expecting that answer, but to be a unit is very important. We of course amped up our off-skates work outs and came up with the strategies and tactic to help us perform. Leaving Richmond we of course didn’t come out the way we wanted but we went back to the drawing boards and became an even better team.

Click here for Blaque Jac’s favorite chicken and asparagus bake!