Luck & Money Soup

Tuesday, December 31, 2013

Why, hello there.

Long time no chat. 

Merry Christmas, sorry for being slack with the posts, Happy New Year's Eve, my resolution is to be better in the New Year, yada, yada, yada.

On a side note, I'm not quite sure how we've already reached the Happy New Year mark.  Where the heck did 2013 go?    

I guess time flies when you're having fun, or so they say.  We planned a wedding, I started a blog, we welcomed a new niece into the world, had a few parties, witnessed my sis exchange some vows, traveled to Vermont, bought a gym, got hitched, honeymooned, Chicagoed, and most recently, holidayed.  It was a damn fine year.

Bring on 2014.  

If you're looking for a head start on luck and prosperity in the new year (and let's be honest, who isn't),  I suggest starting the New Year with this soup.  Tradition says that pork and black eyed peas will bring you luck in the New Year and collards will bring you prosperity (they are green like money after all).  Even if you're not overly superstitious, why take the chance when it's as easy as making a pot of this yummy soup?

For an extra dose of luck, throw a clean half dollar in the pot before serving (or other clean coin).  The person who dishes up the coin is guaranteed the best of luck in the New Year.

Happy New Year!!

Luck & Money Soup 
Serves:  12 people*
Prep Time:  30 minutes
Cook Time:  2 1/2 hours
Total Time:  3 hours

2.5 - 3 lbs pork tenderloin
1 lb andouille sausage, roughly chopped
1 bunch of collard greens, stems removed and chopped
4 cups of frozen black eyed peas
1 yellow onion, diced
4 stalks of celery, diced 
3 cloves of garlic, minced
1 cup of white wine
8 cups of chicken broth (I used 1/2 low sodium)
2 tablespoons olive oil
1 tablespoon thyme
1 tablespoon oregano
1/2 teaspoon red pepper flakes
2 teaspoons paprika
5 teaspoons apple cider vinegar 
Garlic powder (to dust pork)
Salt and Pepper (to dust pork and to taste)

Dust pork tenderloin with salt, pepper and garlic powder.  Heat a large dutch oven or stock pot (7 quarts minimum) over high heat.  Add two tablespoons of olive oil to pot, allow it to heat, and then add pork.  Brown pork for 4 minutes on each side for a total of 16 minutes.  Remove pork and tent with foil.  Add the andouille to the pot and cook about 5 minutes.  Remove andouille and set aside with pork.  Add diced onion and celery to the pot and cook for 5 minutes, stirring occasionally.  Add white wine to deglaze pot and cook for 1 minute, stirring constantly.  Add garlic, oregano, thyme, red pepper, and paprika.  Mix well.  Add pork and andouille back to the pot together with accumulated juices.  Pour in chicken broth and apple cider vinegar, followed by the collards and black eyed peas.  Stir.  Bring the soup to a boil, reduce heat to a simmer (low), cover with lid, and cook for about 2 to 2 1/2 hours, stirring every 45 minutes or so.  After 45 minutes of cooking, taste the soup (careful - it's hot!) and season with salt and pepper to your preference.  After about 2 hours (when pork is tender), remove pork, shred, and add back to the soup.  Serve soup with hot sauce, peppered vinegar, chow chow, cornbread, or even a good classic grilled cheese. 

*I purposely made a ton so that I could freeze the leftovers.  Halve this recipe or even quarter it if you want, but I don't recommend it.

Weekly Menu 12.15.13 - 12.21.13 and Weekly Wrap-Up

Sunday, December 15, 2013

Weekly Menu

Sunday:  Dinner at Grandma's

Monday: Garlic Dijon Herb Salmon from Skinny Taste (recipe here)

Tuesday: Maple Mustard Horseradish Chicken with Roasted Green Beans

Wednesday:  Pork Chops with Ginger Apple Sauce from Ming Tsai (recipe here)

Thursday:  Spinach Lasagna

Friday: Kale and Apple Salad with Chicken, Feta and Walnuts from Health Recipe Ecstasy (recipe here)

Saturday:  Date Night

Weekly Wrap Up:

Adding the perfect ornament to pig lover's tree on Sunday.

Relaxing with these two on Monday.

Showing off my "baking" skills on Tuesday.

Showing off Scott's eating skills on Wednesday.

Loving the steady stream of Christmas cards on Thursday.

Hating my major blonde moment on Friday (including the city and state is kind of important).

Grilled Grouper Tacos with Cranberry Salsa

Wednesday, December 11, 2013

After the Thanksgiving feasting and in light of the upswing in holiday parties, office parties, and endless supply of chocolates and baked goods, anyone else reaching for the sweater dresses in their closets instead of the tailored pants (and thanking the heavens for shape wear)?

Scared to try on your skinny jeans?

Wishing you were a yoga instructor so that you could wear yoga pants all day?  (I guess in that case, you'd be doing the yoga pants justice with your rockin' bod.)

Just me?  Great.

I'd be lying if I said I wasn't (a) adding an additional CrossFit workout to my weekly schedule, and (b) running out of dresses.

Rue La La is a Godsend, CrossFit is the devil.

To offset the holiday indulgences, we're making a conscious effort to make really healthy meals during the week.  Lots of lean meat, fish, soups, and veggies, and only small servings of healthier carbs.  

Leaving plenty of room for peanut buttercup stuffed chocolate chip cookies, peppermint bark, and fudge. 

These fish tacos fit perfectly within those parameters, and they even incorporate some classic holiday flavors so you don't feel like you passing on all the good stuff. 

I suggest chasing them with two pieces of marble fudge.

Grilled Grouper Tacos with Cranberry Salsa
Serves:  4
Prep Time: 20 minutes
Cook Time:  8 - 10 minutes
Total Time:  30 minutes

For Cranberry Salsa*
2 cups of fresh cranberries
zest of 1 orange + 1 whole orange (peeled, segmented)
zest of 1 lime + juice of 1/2 lime
1/3 cup of chopped cilantro 
1/3 cup of honey
1/2 red onion, diced
2 jalapenos (1 with seed, 1 without), diced
Pinch of salt

For Fish Tacos
2 1/2 pounds of grouper (or other white fish)
8 white corn tortillas
Paul Prudhomme's Seafood Magic 
Salt and Pepper
Lettuce, Greek yogurt (or sour cream), lettuce, Vermont white cheddar, and Cranberry Salsa

For Cranberry Salsa
Add all ingredients to a food processor and pulse until finely diced (about 40 pulses).

For Fish Tacos
Heat grill to high heat.  Dust fish with Paul Prudhomme's Seafood Magic, salt and pepper.  If you can't find the Seafood Magic, dust fish with salt, pepper, garlic powder and paprika.  Grease fish grilling basket and place fish in grill basket.  Grill fish 4 to 5 minutes per side or until it flakes easily with fork.  In last two minutes, grill corn tortillas about 1 minute per side.   Break fish up and assemble tacos; top with lettuce, Greek yogurt, cheddar, and Cranberry Salsa. 

* I purposely made extra salsa so that I would have enough to take to a friends house as an appetizer with chips.  Halve these ingredients if you don't need extra. 

Hardheaded Woman

Monday, December 9, 2013

Today's motivation: 

Today put this hardheaded woman in her place.    We had a teaching session for one of the major Olympic lifts, and Scott brought in some back up (more on this below).  Needless to say, pretty much every piece of advice he handed out or critique he offered up was something Scott had drilled in to me many times before.  Lesson learned:  I am stubborn to my own detriment. 

But I am determined to get better. 

Today's workout:

We started with the usual warm up - jumping jacks, stretching, planks, v sit-ups, band pull-aparts, and Scott's new favorite, the hollow rock.  Not my favorite I may add - it hurts like hell after a few seconds. 

This week is a deload week from Jim Windler's 5/3/1 series, so today's main movement was front squats at 50% of our training max for 3 sets of 5 reps.   My sets looked like this:

      Warm up:
           Bar (45 lbs) x 5
           55 lbs x 5
      Work Sets:
           65 lbs x 5
           65 lbs x 5
           75 lbs x 5

Next up, we worked on our snatches.  Scott brought in Andrew, another coach who he raves is good as hell at Olympic lifting, to teach the lift.   It is pretty technical, and I am on the opposite side of perfect right now, but I am determined to get good at this lift.  Pictures to come when I nail it.

In case you are interested, he is teaching the Glenn Pendlay method (Google it, there is plenty of research out there.  

Finally, we ended on a "mini" Cindy -  as many rounds as possible of:

            5 pullups (I used a band)
            10 pushups 
            15 squats
That's all folks.

Weekly Menu 12.8.13 - 12.14.13 (I'm Back!)

Sunday, December 8, 2013

I'm back!

Sorry for just falling off the face of the earth for the past two weeks with nary an explanation or comment; very shady of me.  It's just that I have been all consumed with my professional life (the job that keeps the twinkle lights on), leaving me with very little energy or creativity for anything else.  

I haven't completely slacked off - Scott has had plenty of food to eat, King has a new Christmas collar and plenty of bully sticks, the house is decorated for Christmas, and the workouts have proceeded as scheduled (I even have evidence) - I just slacked off on this little hobby.  My bad.     

Exhibit A: 

Exhibit B:

Exhibit C:

There is no evidence of the workouts - you'll just have to trust me on that one.

On a somewhat related to the Christmas side note, as I've mentioned before, I am not a baker, and the incessant stream of magazine worthy Christmas baked goods on Pinterest is causing me to (1) feel wholly inadequate, and (2) have a ravenous craving for all things chocolate.  

Make it stop.

On to the weekly menu:

Sunday: Braciole inspired by Giada De Laurentiis (recipe here)

Tuesday:  Chicken, Sweet Potato and Kale Crock Pot Soup with Grilled Cheeses (recipe to come)

Wednesday:  Stuffed Cuban Pork Tenderloin from Cooking Light (recipe here)

Thursday:  Lucky Game Day Chili from the freezer

Friday:  Grilled Grouper with Tomato, White Wine and Caper Sauce (recipe to come)

Saturday:  Dinner and "Night of a Thousand Candles" at Brookgreen Gardens with the cousin and her man.

Hope y'all had a fabulous weekend! 

Lucky "Game" Day Chili

Wednesday, November 27, 2013

This is me being a foodie rebel. 

The day before Thanksgiving and my recipe post has absolutely nothing to do with turduckens, or herbed-up gravy atop oyster cornbread stuffing, or whipped sweet potatoes smothered in bourbon, brown sugar and bacon, or even pumpkin ____________ [fill in the blank].

I figured at this point your threshold for Thanksgiving hoopla has been far surpassed. 

This recipe is for the weekend after Thanksgiving, when you'll be hard pressed to find a television in the house that isn't tuned into one of the big college football rivalry games - at least that's how we do it down south.  

It's the perfect hearty-yet-low-maintenance meal for a "chili" November day, and it's even made with "game" for game day.  See what I did there?? I'm such a cheese ball.   

Even better, assuming the old wives' tale holds true, the black eyed peas may bring your favorite team good luck and the collard greens just might give you the upper hand on your bets!

And if a day of sitting on the couch watching football sounds about as enticing to you as venturing out into the Black Friday mob madness does me, prep the ingredients and throw them in the crock pot before you go to bed on Friday night, set the crock pot to low Saturday morning, and let the football fanatics fend for themselves while you enjoy some Small Business Saturday shopping. 

The menfolk will be so appreciative of your sweet gesture they'll have to think twice about making a comment on the car full of shopping bags you make them carry into the house for you.  

Bribery at its finest.

I hope your Thanksgiving brings you an overly stuffed belly and a day full of quality time with your family and friends (or at least as much as you can stand).

Lucky "Game" Day Chili
Serves: Enough for an army
Prep Time:  45 minutes
Cook Time:  12 hours
Total Time:  All dang day (but worth it)

1 lb venison roast, cut into 1 inch pieces*
1 lb venison cube steak, cut into 1 inch pieces*
1 lb ground elk*
4 slices of bacon, chopped 
2 yellow onions, diced
2 jalapenos, diced finely
2 serrano peppers, diced finely
3 chipotle peppers in adobo, finely diced
1 teaspoon adobo sauce
2 red peppers, diced
4 cloves garlic, minced
1 bunch collard greens, stems removed and chopped
4 cups frozen black eyed peas, thawed
1 28 ounce can of crushed tomatoes
1 6 ounce can tomato paste
2 14 ounce cans diced tomatoes, drained
1.5 ounces dark chocolate, crushed
1 bottle brown ale
1 cup coffee
2 tablespoons cumin
1 tablespoon ancho chili powder
2 teaspoon salt 
1 teaspoon oregano 
1 teaspoon paprika 
1 teaspoon coriander
1/2 teaspoon cinnamon 

In the largest pot you can find (mine was 8 quarts) fry chopped bacon until crispy, about 5 to 8 minutes.  Remove bacon and set aside.  Leaving the bacon grease in the pot, brown the venison in batches over high heat, careful not to crowd the pan.  It took me about three rounds and six minutes per round.  Set aside venison aside with the bacon once browned.  Add the onion to the pot and saute for five minutes, stirring occasionally.  Add the jalapenos, serranos, red pepper, chipotles and adobo sauce and cook for an additional 5 minutes.  Add garlic, cumin, ancho chili powder, salt, oregano, paprika, coriander, and cinnamon and cook for an addition 2 minutes. Add ground elk and cook til browned, about 5 to 8 minutes.  Add bacon and venison back to the pot.  At this point I transferred the meat and veggie mixture to a crock pot because I wanted it to cook all day while I was away from the house.  If you are going to be at the house to keep an eye on it, you can leave it in the pot you browned the meat in.   Add in crushed tomatoes, tomato paste, diced tomatoes, brown ale, coffee, black eyed peas and collards and stir well.  Cover and allow to cook on medium low heat if you are finishing yours on the stove or high heat if you are finishing yours in the crock pot.  After about an hour, stir in dark chocolate.  Simmer for 12 hours.  Serve with cheese, sour cream, tortillas, saltines, or whatever else you have stashed in the pantry.  And ice cold beer... it's pretty darn spicy.   

*If game meat is not your thing, or you just don't have access to it, you can substitute the venison cube steak with beef cube steak, the venison roast with bottom round, and the ground elk with ground sirloin or round. 

Love Yourself First

Monday, November 25, 2013

Today's Motivation:

Via Pinterest

Even when you have to get out of your cozy bed at 3:20 in the morning to let your dog out in the freezing cold, and literally have to walk outside in said freezing cold in your skivvies (note to self: buy flannel jammies or at least a damn robe) to open the porch door because like and idiot you closed it before you went to bed to keep the robbers and boogeymen out and never quite go back to sleep before your hubby wakes you up at 4:45 to workout, put yourself first.  Workout.  At least get one thing in for you before you start your crazy day.

Today's Workout:

It was freaking cold this morning.  Freezing.  Literally.  We aren't used to that here in the southeastern US of A. 

And it's supposed to be 20 degrees warmer tomorrow.  Hmph.

Anywhos, because it was so cold, the warm up was critical.  We started with a 250 meter row, and quickly moved into lunges, v-situps, planks, leg raises, windmills, and various stretching.   First up in the main event - front squats.   Ick.  I pretty much through a fit and told Scott I was done with the front squats and it was back squats for me from here on out.

I'm such a brat.

He convinced me to stick it out through this training cycle.  I will likely throw 192 fits before the end of this.  See above.

The goal was to work up to 3 sets of 3 reps at 70%, 80%, and finally 90% for max reps (again, based on Jim Wendler's 5/3/1 program).  After warming up with the bar, then 55 lbs and 65 lbs, I moved into work sets of 75 lbs, 85 lbs, and 95 lbs for max reps.   In between the squat warm up sets and work sets, I did 5 box jumps (20 inches) and 2 pull ups with a teeny tiny red band.

My least favorite - Front Squats

Next up, the hardest circuit ever.

The goal was 8 rounds of alternating between 8 goblet squats and 25 steps and weighted carries, with a prescribed weight of 50% of body weight.  I tried... not happening.  I went with a little over 40% of body weight.  The real kicker was that for each time you had to set the weights down, which you inevitably will unless you're a real bad ass, you have to do 5 burpees at the end of the circuit. 

I finished the 8 rounds with 50 pounds in hand resting 3 times, meaning 15 burpees.

I'm already sore.

Goblet Squat
Weighted Carry

Sleep time.

You Are Defined By Your Habits

Friday, November 22, 2013

Today's Motivation:

I'll admit it - I'm guilty.  If I followed my urges, I'd sleep in, skip workouts, eat bacon cheeseburgers on the daily, obviously followed with a side of crispy, peppery fries drenched in malt vinegar.  Yum.

But, in the back of my mind I know better.  I know that habits like that aren't going to get me where I want to be.  Hence why I make myself reinforce the good habits on a daily basis.

Today's Workout:

Bench Press

We started with the bench press.  The goal was again to work up to 85% of my max.  Mine looked like this:

       Bar (45 lbs) x 5
       55 lbs x 5
       60 lbs x 5
       67.5 lbs x 5 (75% of max)
       72 lbs x 5 (80% of max)
       76.5 lbs x 11 (85% of max for max reps)

We then moved into a skill circuit of push-ups.  I worked on the strict push-up and the ring push-ups for 3 sets of 5 reps.

We finished the workout with a 3 minute "as-many-reps-as-possible" burpee challenge.  

Fun, fun, fun.

I managed 30 reps in 3 minutes.  And then I thought I might die.

Burpee AMRAP Challenge - that's me in the black

Up close and personal mid-burpee

Hope you all have a fabulous weekend.  And can I get a "hell yeah" for the short holiday work week next week? 

Look for my Game Chili recipe this weekend (that I failed to post on Thursday because I'm a slacker).  Next week I will try my best to get back on schedule.  Life has been a little crazy as of late.

Sage and Pecan Pesto Stuffed Pork Tenderloin

Tuesday, November 19, 2013

This was so easy.  And tasty.  And fally. 

Is that even a word?  Can we just agree that it is?  Because it perfectly describes so many of my current favorite food stuffs. 

After being out of town for months (OK, it was really three weeks, but the workload I came back to made it feel like I had crawled in a hole for several months), my refrigerator was barren. Knowing I would not have time to go to the grocery store on the Sunday we returned, I'm grateful I had the foresight to stock the freezer so we would at least have enough food for this week.

Unfortunately, I failed to take into consideration the lack of dinner prep "flair".  The state of the fridge was abysmal - no fresh veggies, little dairy, no bacon.  

That last one about did me in.  Pork on pork is always a good idea.

I was forced to get creative with my meager cheese rations, the pantry, and the herb garden.

Turns out, something so simple as pecan sage pesto is ridiculously flavorful.  It is my new favorite thing; I'm kind of obsessed.  

I'm certain this favoritism will only last so long as I find something else to cook with bacon, but I'll run with it for now.  

P.S.  Obviously an 11th hour grocery run was made for brussels sprouts and bacon.  I just can't get on board with frozen veggies, and using the word brussels sprouts without bacon in this house is blasphemy.

P.P.S.  Guess who didn't get up to work out this morning?  Slacker.  My goal is now W, Th, and F this week.  Lord help me.  
Sage and Pecan Pesto Stuffed Pork Tenderloin
Serves: 4-8**
Prep Time: 30 minutes
Cook Time:  25 minutes
Total Time: 55 minutes

1 package of pork tenderloin (usually comes two to a package)
1/2 cup of grated Parmesan cheese
1 bunch of sage, stems removed
2 cloves of garlic
3/4 cup of pecan pieces
1/4 cup of EVOO
1/4 teaspoon of salt
1/8 teaspoon of black pepper
Salt and Pepper for Seasoning
Kitchen Twine

**If you are serving 4 people or less and have two tenderloins, go ahead and prep both and freeze one for an easy dinner down the road.

Preheat oven to 425 degrees.  In a food processor or blender, combine Parmesan cheese, sage, garlic, pecans, EVOO, salt and pepper and process or blend until smooth.   Butterfly pork tenderloins (video here). Spread flattened, butterflied pork tenderloins with Sage and Pecan Pesto. Tightly roll up pork tenderloin and secure with kitchen twine, starting with middle and then the ends. If you are freezing one loin, tightly wrap it in saran wrap and then foil and freeze. 

Heat a large oven proof skillet over medium high heat. Add pork tenderloin and brown for 2 minutes per side. Move pan to oven and cook for 15 to 20 minutes or until pork reaches an internal temperature of 160 degrees.  Allow to rest 5 minutes before removing twine and slicing to serve.

The New Black

Monday, November 18, 2013

Today's Motivation:

Via Pinterest

Or, at the very least, you won't feel the need to wear nearly as much black.

Today's Workout:

Because it is unseasonably (at least it feels unseasonably) warm, we started this morning with a lap around the building before moving into a warm up if stretching, planks, push ups, etc.

Afterward, we moved into front squats.  The goal was to work up to 3 sets of 5 reps at 75%, 80%, and finally 85% for max reps (based on Jim Wendler's 5/3/1 program, a training program Scott swears by).  Of course, I missed the boat and thought that we were supposed to simply work up to 85% and complete 3 sets at 85%.  Because I skipped  the 75% and 80% and went straight for 3 sets at 85%, I was only able to get to 8 reps on my max set.  Par for the course. 

We then moved into what I like to call a Killer Circuit - not exactly a walk in the park. 

Mt. Climbers
Good Mornings
It was a doozie.

Wish me luck, I am going to do my best to get up tomorrow in efforts to get on a M, T, Th, F workout schedule.  It sounds like torture.

Weekly Menu and Weekly Wrap-Up 11.17.13 - 11.23.13

Sunday, November 17, 2013

Weekly Menu

Sunday: Dinner at Mom's

Monday:  New York Strip with Whipped Bourbon Bacon Sweet Potatoes from How Sweet It Is (recipe here)

Tuesday: Wild Game Chili (recipe to come)

Wednesday:  Honey Dijon and Rosemary Chicken Thighs

Thursday: Herb Roasted Pork Tenderloin with Preserves from the Pioneer Woman (recipe here)

Friday:  Children's Miracle Network "Songwriter's in the Round" Event 

Saturday:  Dinner with one of my FAVORITE new mommas at Chive Blossom!

Weekly Wrap-Up:

Lickin' our chops on Monday.

Marveling at my beautiful wedding shower cake from an amazingly talented co-worker on Tuesday.  

 Guilt trippin' on Wednesday.

Embarrassed to say... Christmas decor shopping on Thursday.

Clearing my head on Friday.

Watching a certain lazy someone relax on Saturday.

Every Day I'm Struggling

Wednesday, November 13, 2013

Today's Motivation:

Today's Workout:

Switching things up a bit, we started today's workout with the rower.  The goal was to row the furthest distance as possible in 50 reps.  I managed 480ish meters, but felt like I was going to pass out afterwords.  Honestly, couldn't breathe, tight chest, light headed.

When I recovered, we moved into the stretching and warm up movements - mountain climbers, v sit-ups, leg raises, planks, etc. 

The overall goal at CF Vengeance this week is to set our max rep standards with the 8-6-3-1 rep format.  Monday was the front squat, Tuesday was the over head press and pullup and arm hang, but because I missed Tuesday and Wednesday is usually recovery, I did the overhead press and arm hang today.

First up, over head press. I warmed up with 5 reps each of the bar, then 50 lbs, and finally 55 lbs.  My work set looked like this:

           60 lbs x 8
           60 lbs x 6 (I attempted, but couldn't complete, 65 lbs for 6 reps)
           65 lbs x 3 
           70 lbs x 1

Overhead Press
Next up, arm hang.  I am not quite ready for unassisted pull ups (my weakness), so my challenge was 3 sets of hanging in the pull up position for as long as physically possible.  Yay. 

I manged 28 seconds, 22 seconds and 25 seconds.  Can we say room for improvement. 

I finished the morning with this quick circuit to get my heart rate up a bit:

KB Swing

Box Jumps

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