Sunday, November 1, 2015

An Interview with Kristen Gray: GRACE WHO?

Let me Prologue, if you will,  how this interview idea came about....

Once upon a time....  in a Crossfit Gym...

I go to the gym, I workout,  I lift weights,  I leave.  Same day,  different shit.  I keep people mostly in my peripheral,  just kind of watching them.  I insert funny one liners here or there, because I'm funny as shit.  But mostly,  I just workout.  Lift,  cheer, encourage,  keep moving, don't die.  Not that I don't like to interact,  but after a long days work I'm just tired. With mentally struggling about the fact that I'm adopted, and my decision to drop out of college, and the fact that IBM's sales have surpassed ours my brain is just every where.  Wait wait, that's the story of Steve Jobs.  Not me.  Shit.  Basically, after work I'm just tired so I just like to workout, decompress, and think about dinner.

On the night of Grace (30 95lb Clean and Jerks),  Kristen (who I've noticed lifting before) looked over at me and said "Elyse are you doing RX?" and I said,  "Sure why the not (or something with a curse word along those lines).   She was unsure,  to RX or not to RX, a question as old as time itself.  Back and forth with different weights, questioning, puzzling her puzzler.   I asked her if she felt she could do a couple,  and she said yes.  Then Eminem came over the speakers and I said Rock and Roll kid,  DO IT.  It probably wasn't quite that epic or movie like (there was no epic high five with the back drop of well planned fireworks), but you get the idea.    So, she did it.  And she kicked it's ass.  Hi there, new friend :).

Without further a due....  meet Kristen Gray,  CrossFit Solstice's weight liftin' Ass Kicker

1.      When did you start CrossFit?

      I started in January 2015.

2.       What or Who made you want to start CrossFit?

    I thought about joining CrossFit for two years but I was afraid to sign-up. I used to go to Planet Fitness but I was bored with it and had zero motivation when I was there. I would run a mile on the treadmill, then subsequently stare at the free weights and machines and leave. I knew I needed something that was going to hold me accountable and keep me disciplined. I wanted a challenge. Everyone was always talking about CrossFit so finally I decided I was going to try it out. Knowing that Julie Iacovelli went to CrossFit Solstice, I messaged her on Twitter and asked her how she liked CrossFit.  She helped me sign up for the On-Ramp program. Fast forward 9 months and I feel the best I’ve ever felt.

3.       Why did you chose CrossFit Solstice initially, and what has made you stay?

    Honestly, the reason I initially joined was because Justin Vee is my cousin and it was close to home. One of the main reasons I love Solstice is because it’s a big family. Everyone is so nice and always motivating each other. The coaches are really invested in helping you reach your greatest potential. I never thought I would become obsessed with CrossFit but there’s something about it that I love.

4.       What are your favorite workouts in CrossFit?

    Cleans, Back Squats, and any METCON with a time cap.

5.       Going into CrossFit what was your overall goal?  Has that goal changed as you have progressed at CrossFit?

    My overall goals were to make CrossFit part of my routine and give 100% in every workout. I remember during one of my On-Ramp classes in February, I participated in the Fight Gone Bad workout. At the end, I was looking at everyone out of breath and on the ground.  I heard Justin say “If you are not on the ground, you didn’t work hard enough.” (insert note from author: picture this being said in the booming voice of the Great and Powerful Oz)
    I thought he was absolutely crazy but later I thought maybe he was right. Maybe I could have done more reps and pushed myself harder. I believe this was the turning point for me. There was another level of intensity I could reach; I just had to believe in myself and listen to my Coaches. I still have the same goal of giving 100% in every workout.

6.       Had you ever done Grace before October 2015? What were your thoughts going into Grace and what motivated you to RX the workout?

    That was my first time completing Grace.  I made up my mind the night before that I was only going to do 80 lbs. I thought there was absolutely no way I could do 30 Clean and Jerks at 95 lbs. within a 5 minute time cap. In fact, 5 minutes before we started Grace, you could hear me still contemplating about whether I should RX the workout or not. Eventually, Alli, Elyse, and Jen convinced me I could do it.

8.       How did you feel during the workout and what were some of the thoughts going through your head?

    I started out feeling great but when I got about halfway through, I started to get tired and could only do singles. I remember getting to 25 and I could hear everyone cheering and helping me count to the end. It really helped!  However, whenever we do benchmark workouts, I’m always thinking about food and what to eat for dinner.  (me too girl, me too)

9.       How long did it take you to complete Grace?  
    It took me 4 minutes and 32 seconds to complete my first ever Grace.

10.    What would you say to someone interested in joining CrossFit?
    Do it! It will change your life because it’s changed mine!

11.   Do you have a favorite CrossFit Athlete?  
    Yes!! Camille Leblanc-Bazinet.

12.  Who inspires you?

    To the Coaches-Alli, Christie, Dave, Justin, Jason, Pat, and Ron--------------
    There aren’t enough words to say how thankful I am for each and every one of you. You have all helped me grow tremendously over the past few months. I’ve been pushed to limits and achieved results I never thought were possible. Thank you for never giving up on me or letting me give up on myself.  

    To my fellow Solstice Athletes---------------
    There are times when I think I’m not going to make it through a workout but your motivating words always help me finish. I look up to every single one of you and admire your hard work, dedication, and strength. Thank you for being with me through my successes and failures.

Wednesday, October 28, 2015

Skillet Lemon Garlic Chicken

I love lemon,  I love garlic.  This dish is a match made in a heaven for me.  You can add more lemon if you like it really lemony,  which I do.  This recipe came about because I was dog sitting my parents rat of a dog.  And,  if you dog sit you get to eat all the food.  This was based off mostly things in the house,  with the addition of some lemons I bought.  That's why I like it,  most of the ingredients you should have in your house.  I stole all their frozen chicken,  and everything else minus the lemon.  Which after I went and bought lemons,  I saw they have 3 in the fridge.  Ugh.  Out of spite,  at the end of my dog sitting tour,  I took my lemon home with me.   

I highly encourage you to use the zest,  and use citrus zest whenever possible.  The house of flavor and the depth it adds is phenomenal.  

Skillet Lemon Garlic Chicken
Prep: 10 minutes
Cook:  About 30 minutes
Serves: 3-4


Four chicken breast
1/4 cup flour
Two lemons
4 garlic cloves
1 teaspoon red pepper flakes
2 teaspoons parsley, divided
1 tablespoons butter
2 tablespoons oil
1/2 cup room temperature whole milk s
Salt and pepper for seasoning

1. Preheat the oven to 375°.

2.  Heat a  large oven safe skillet with 2 tablespoons of olive oil over medium high heat.

3.  Allow the oil to heat from 5 to 7 minutes until searing hot. While the oil is heating pounds are four chicken breasts even thickness.

4.  On a plate add the flour and just want to tire lemon into the flour,  mix well with a fork.

5.  Season the chicken breast on both side liberally with salt-and-pepper.

6.  Begin dipping the chicken into your flour mixture and shake off excess flour. One by one until the chicken breasts are covered in flour.  Add chicken breasts one by one into the hot skillet as you complete flouring them.  

7.  Allow chicken to brown on both sides  for  5  total minutes. Do not worry about cooking the chicken breast completely through, as you will finish it in the oven.

8.  Dice garlic and set aside while chicken is cooking.

9.  Remove chicken to a plate and allow to rest on a plate covered with tinfoil.

10.  Reduce heat to medium low and add the garlic, scrape up any bits left on the bottom of the pan.

11. Once garlic is fragrant about 1 to 2 minutes,  add red pepper flakes, the juice of the lemon you already zested,  1 teaspoon of parsley, and one and a half cups of chicken broth.

12.  Return heat to high and allow to cook and reduced by about half, that should take about 7 to 10 minutes.

13.  Once reduced remove the pan from the heat and whisk in 1/2 cup room temperature whole milk. Do not allow the milk and chicken broth to come back to a boil.

14.  Add one tablespoon of butter to the middle of the pan.

15.  Add chicken breast and any collected drippings on the plate back into the skillet.

16.  Place in oven for 10 minutes, or until chicken is cooked through.

17.  Remove from oven and garnish with the zest of a lemon and remaining parsley.

18.  Serve with fresh lemon wedges over rice or pasta :)

Saturday, October 24, 2015

Spicy Chicken and Caramelized Fennel over Basmati Rice

I love Blue Apron.  I've only had about one meal that missed the mark.  So,  if you never tried it,  I encourage it.  I get a 3 meal delivery about once a month, just to spice things up.... IN THE KITCHEN.  Dirty mind.  Each meal makes 2 meals each,  so if I don't share with Zach I end up with dinner and then a lunch for each meal.  Or two dinners,  depending on how likely it is I will have time to heat up lunch at work the next day.  These are not prepared meals,  so it does require some work on your part.  Everything is premeasured,  and allows you to actually cook.  This would be awesome for a novice cook.  

Last week on Blue Apron I had a lovely meal, similar to this one.  I made some changes to kick it up a notch,  like adding wine to make the sauce more of a Bordeaux then a vinegar based sauce.   The sauce I created is rich,  but yet still tangy due to the Sherry Vinegar.   Its' easy enough to make it as a prepped meal,  and delicious enough that you won't get tired of it.  The chicken is light and moist (gross word,  but I couldn't find a comparable word to suite this)  and the Fennel (or Anise) has a crunchy texture.  If you go to the grocery store and you see something similar to fennel,  but it says Anise-- same thing.  It all plays beautifully off the sticky rice.  

I'm a rice freak.  Mostly because it's healthier than pasta and allows me to get my carb macros during the week.   I stick to two main rices:  Basmati,  and Brown.   For this however,  I like the stickiness of the Basmati rice.  But,  my spidey senses tell me this would be awesome over a noodle as well.  Give that a try,  and let me know.    My recommendation is definitely for the Basmati.  

Spicy Chicken and Caramelized Fennel over Basmati Rice

Prep Time:  15 minutes
Cook Time:  40 minutes (possibly less, possibly more depending on the rice you use)
Serves:  3-4

Rice of choice,  or pasta of choice
1- 1 1/2 pounds of chicken breast
2 large Fennel Bulbs
2 White Onions
3 Cloves of Garlic
1/4 cup of Flour  
1/4 cup water
2 tbsp of Olive Oil
1/2 cup Dry Red Wine
3 tbsp Sherry Vinegar
2 tbsp Butter
2 tbsp Parsley Flakes, divided
1 tsp Red Pepper Flakes
Salt and Pepper for liberal seasoning

1.  Cook the rice according to the package directions.  Once done,  set aside covered to keep warm.

2.   While the rice is cooking,  heat a cast iron skillet (this works the best I've found for browning meat,  if you do not have one a nonstick pan would work fine) with 1 tbsp of olive oil over medium to high heat.

3.  While the cast iron is heating up (should take almost 5 minutes to be searing),   clean and prepare the chicken.  Discard any fat or tendons running throughout the chicken,  and cut into 3 inch cubs.
4.  Season WELL with salt and black pepper.

5.  In a zip lock bag,  add 1/4 cup of flour.  Throw the chicken in the bag and shake well coating each piece of chicken.

6.  With tongs,  remove the chicken chunks from the bag and shake off excess flour.  Place into heated skillet.  Discard excess flour.
7.  Allow chicken to brown on each side,  about 10 minutes for it to cook entirely. 
8.  While this is happening,  remove the top of the fennel and cut the bulb.  Remove any really thick pieces of bulb that are too fibrous to soften in the pan.  
9.  Cut the onion into rings and set aside with fennel.

10.  Once chicken is done,  remove to a plate and cover with tinfoil.  Allow additional oil or burnt bits to remain in the pan!!

11.  Reduce heat to medium low and add 1 tbsp of olive oil to pan,  and add onions and fennel.  Season with salt, pepper,  and tsp of red pepper flakes. 
12.  Allow to cook until caramelized,  stiring constantly for about 15- 20 minutes.  Add water to keep it from sticking if need be.

13.  While this is cooking,  finely dice the garlic and set aside.

14.  When the onions and fennel are just about done,  add the garlic and cook for 1-2 minutes.  Make sure it doesn't burn,  so keep moving it around.  You will smell with the garlic is softened but not burnt.

15.   Once everything is cooked,  add the chicken back into your cast iron skillet.

16.  Add the following:  butter, water, wine,  sherry vinegar,  parsley.
17.  Allow to cook for an additional 5 minutes on high until the sauce is thickened and shiny.  The flour from the chicken will help to thicken it,  so that is an important step!  You could omit it and the wine to make this recipe Paleo,  but I don't recommend it.  I feel like you'd be changing the whole flavor profile if you did that.

18. Serve over starch of choice!

Sunday, October 4, 2015

Korean Beef and Rice

Hands down,  this is legit my new go to.  I was so sad when all of the prepped meals were gone this week.  It literally, almost maybe kinda brought me to tears.  Zachy loved it too.  And,  I am so glad he did.  But,  secretly in a deep dark place in my heart I wished I had kept it all for myself.  

This is so easy.  like 10 EASY PEASY steps and it's perfection.  Absolute perfection.  One morning I even ate it for breakfast.  That's how damn good it is.    Although it's traditionally Korean,  it kind of reminds me of a Chinese food meal.  Like,  if you were craving greasy fattening deep fried food from your local China eatery,  this just might hit the spot.  If you were craving Wonton Soup,  just go get it from your local China eatery.  There is no replacement on earth for that.  MARK MY WORDS.

You could add a slew of veggies to make this like a stir-fry,  but honestly I sometimes prefer my food plain during the week...and easy.  I ate mine with a tomato, onion,  cucumber salad so my veggies were accomplished anyways.  This was done in 50 minutes total with the rice.  If you had precooked rice and microwaved it this recipe might take a total of 10 minutes.

This recipe is neither clean nor paleo, but you could make it so.  The sugar is minimal compared to how much this recipe actually makes--but delete it if you must.  It adds a nice sweetness and stickiness to the meat, and honestly who don't love sweet meat?  I am not a big fan of omitting all of one food from your diet entirely.  I think sugar,  in moderation,  has it's place. For me the place is if I don't occasionally eat it I will gorge on it in the form of gummy candy.  Then I will vomit due to my insulin level being through the roof,  then I will do it again.  Minimal amounts of sugar in my cooking (like in my gravy) keeps me from getting crazy.

Korean Beef and Rice
Prep: 5 minutes
Cook: 50 minutes (unless you use minute rice, then 10 minutes)
Serves: 7-8

Your choice of rice,  enough to serve 1/2 each per serving of beef
2lb of 80/20 Ground Beef
3 large garlic cloves, diced tiny
1/4 cup brown sugar
1/2 cup soy sauce
2 tbsp sesame oil-- plus more for serving
1 tsp red pepper flakes 
1 tsp ground ginger
2 large bunches of green onion (this is a must!!)


1.  Cook rice according to package directions,  I prefer Basmati.  But any rice will do.

2.  Wait for rice to almost be done,  like take a nap or something.

3.  In a large nonstick saucepan cook the 2 lbs of beef over medium heat for 5-7 minutes, or until no longer pink.

5.  Drain off fat from meat and place back on the stove top over medium heat.

6.  To the meat add in:  garlic, brown sugar, soy sauce, red pepper flakes, ground ginger, and sesame oil.

7.  Stir until well incorporated and sugar has melted.

8.  Allow to cook for 5 minutes until all ingredients have incorporated.    It will become a beautiful dark brown when it's all incorporated,  and even will be a little sticky.

9.  Serve with a good heap of green onion on top (I hold mine over each and cut with scissors to let it fall over top). Serve over 1/2 or 1 cup of  chosen rice (Zach got 1 cup,  I got 1/2).

10.  Final and most important step is to drizzle Sesame Oil over each meal for an added ZINNNNNGGGGGGG.

Roasted Eggplant and Onions

I am a huge fan of roasted veggies.  It's time consuming,  but I love roasting veggies on Sunday to have snacks throughout the week.  They are great cold,  and hot over rice.  I am a rice freak.  Basmati,  brown, white,  straight up RICE FREAK.   I ate this as a quick post workout snack with basmati rice,  but you could also just eat it throughout the week as a snack.  

Roasted Eggplant and Onions
Prep Time: 10 minutes
Cook Time:   1 hour, 20 minutes (approximately)
Serves: 6


Three large eggplants
Eight onions a mix of Red onion and white onion
3 tablespoons olive oil, plus 1 teaspoon
One large garlic bulb
Salt and pepper
Red pepper flakes

You will need: Five greased baking sheets

1.  Cut the eggplant into rings.
2.  Spread out on three baking sheets.
3.  Sprinkle salt all over each eggplant ring. 

4.  Preheat the oven to 400°
5.  Cut all of the onions into rings and spread out on the remaining baking sheets
6.  Sprinkle with salt and pepper cover with 1 tablespoon of olive oil
7.  Take the garlic bulb and remove any excess paper
8.  Place on top of a small square of tinfoil
9.  Sprinkle with salt and pepper and 1 teaspoon of olive oil

10. Close before oil into a ball around the garlic bulb
11. Place the tinfoil ball on one of the onion sheets

12. Place both pans of onions in the oven
13.  Bake for 35 to 40 minutes until translucent
14.  Remove the onion pans and set aside
15.  Dab all of the eggplant rings with a paper towel to remove excess water and excess salt
16.  Put 1 tablespoon of olive oil on each pan covering the eggplant
17.  Place in the oven for one hour turning over each plant ring after 30 minutes
18.  Remove from oven and mix with onions and a bowl,  mix in desired amount of red pepper flakes for spiciness (or don't
19.  Remove the garlic and squeeze out the garlic
20.  Smash the garlic and add into the onion and eggplant making sure its well incorporated.

Serve as a side or as a meal over rice

Wednesday, September 23, 2015

Spicy Mexican Corn Soup

     I love soup.  I am the self proclaimed soup queen of southern New Jersey.   I really would eat it anytime of year,  but as the chilly weather kicks up I'm known to eat soup 10 days straight.  Wonton soup being my favorite,  but I don't make that myself. 
I don't order wonton soup everyday for several reasons:
1.  I'm broke 
2. I don't have the carb intake ability to allow for that kind of daily splurge without gaining 200 pounds,   
3.  I don't want Golden Garden to judge me if they see me picking up wonton soup everyday.  We have a business working relationship,  and I'd like to maintain that in a judgement free zone.  I wont judge the fact that they have children working there and it's so cold they have to wear coats in the place in the winter,  if they don't judge my love of soup.

    So,  my point is,  I make a lot of soup.  Soup is awesome to keep on hand for the week, and in my opinion there is literally no better way to spend 4:00pm then in my pajamas in the winter eating soup.  I'm not too fond of cream based soups,  so I tend to eat a lot of vegetable and meat soups.    I also don't eat a lot of soups with noodles,  because I tend to like getting carbs from vegetables-- and the more vegetables I throw in my soup the more food I get to where I'm headed with this?

So, without further a due:  

Spicy Mexican Corn Soup
Prep Time:  20 minutes
Cook Time: 2 hours
Serves: 8 for a main course, 10-12 as a side

1 pound chicken thighs
1 quart water
Two yellow onions
6 large carrots
Six celery stalks
Two green peppers

4 Fresh Corn Stalks
2 limes 

3 bay leaves
One can black beans, rinsed
One can cannelloni beans, rinsed
Two 8 ounce cans diced tomato with jalapenos
1 tablespoon Smoked Paprika
1 tablespoon Chili Powder
1 tablespoon Goya chicken seasoning
2 teaspoons Onion Powder
2 teaspoons Garlic Powder
2 teaspoon Turmeric

1 tbsp Red Pepper Flakes 
2 Teaspoon salt

2 teaspoons black pepper

1.  First begin by making stock:  In a large pot,  place 1 pound of chicken thighs at the bottom.   On top of the chicken,  place one yellow onion cut in half (keep the skin on),  3 large carrots cut in half (don't even worry about dicing them or removing the outer layer), one lime cut in half,  and three stalks of celery (just cut in half and throw the leaves and stalks in).   

2.  Cover this with one quart or so of water.   

3.  Allow stock to first come to a bowl,  then turn the heat to medium and allow the stock to cook for 1 1/2 hours.   Throw in three bay leaves for cooking.

4.  While the stock is cooking,  assemble all of your spices into one shallow bowl.  Set aside.
5.  Dice remaining vegetables:  2 green peppers, 3 stalks of celery,  and one yellow onion. Rinse beans,  and put in the bowl.   Put your corn one at a time with the stalks removed in a bowl with another small bowl turned upside down in it,  and cut off the corn kernels. Place in the bowl.  Set aside. 

6.  Remove chicken from stock and set aside to cool.
7.  Place a pot underneath of a strainer,  and strain the entire contents of your stock through the strainer.   The stock vegetables have done their job,  so toss them. 

8.  Return the stock to the pot.  Add in all of your new diced vegetables and beans,  and a lime cut in half. 

9.  Shred chicken and return to the stock pot.
10.   Stir in spice mixture and the diced tomatoes. 

11.   Allow to cook on medium high  for 30 minutes if you don't like the veggies to be too mushy,  one whole hour if you like really mushy vegetables.  Remove the lime halves before serving.  

Garnish with cilantro leaves,  and serve.

Thursday, September 10, 2015

Roasted Tomato and Sweet Garlic Sauce

            This recipe is the epitome of farm to table.  Fresh and made with local ingredients, it really is a crowd pleaser.  I love cooking with the ingredients of the season, and I am holding onto tomatoes as long as I can before winter steals the good ones away.  I picture this sauce over fresh vegetables and chicken, almost like a Primavera (sands the pasta) or over a big fat juice meatball right from the oven.   Make this the same day you plan to have guests over, because the smell is intoxicating while the tomatoes and garlic roasts.  The smell permeates the whole house,   and makes everyone’s mouth salivate.

                These tomatoes are actually handpicked---by me.  My Aunt Diane always gives me her CSA when she goes away.  The last two weeks has required me to “u-pick own cherry tomatoes”.  This meant I had to be out in the middle of tomato field at 5:00pm in the 90 degree weather, picking tomatoes in my work pants and sandals.  I am so glad I got my ass out there and did it, because the beautiful result was this spicy and sweet sauce.
                The spiciness comes from the red chili tomato paste and red pepper flakes, the sweetness comes from the roasted garlic.  Did you know that?  If you roast tomato just right for just long enough it will become sweet.  It’s divine. 
                I am freezing this, because I don’t need it right now but didn’t want my tomatoes to go bad.  When I reheat it I may add a touch of milk, and chopped fresh basil leaves.  If it’s too thick, add a little chicken stock.

                And…It’s okay that it’s bright orange, that’s normal from pulsing the seeds and skins and everything together.  You won’t even know it’s there.  It actually makes you kind of wonder what do the canned tomato companies put in your food to make it red? Scary.

Roasted Tomato and Sweet Garlic Sauce
Prep Time: 5 minutes
Cook Time: 45-55 minutes
Serves: 3-4

3 pounds tomatoes
2 tablespoons olive oil
2 tablespoons red chili tomato paste
4 cloves garlic
1 tablespoon salt
1 teaspoon pepper
1 teaspoon red pepper flakes
1 tablespoon herbs de Provence
1 tablespoon onion powder

1.        Preheat the oven to 425 degrees.
2.       On a large baking sheet with a lip, place all of the cleaned whole tomatoes.  It doesn’t matter what kind of tomatoes you use---but if they have leaves on the top rip or cut them off.  I wouldn’t recommend plum tomatoes because they don’t have a lot of flavor.
3.       In the middle of the tomatoes put the 4 peeled garlic cloves.
4.       Coat everything with 2 tbsp. of olive oil, and sprinkle generously with salt and pepper.
5.       Place tomatoes and garlic in the oven at 425 degrees for about 50 minutes, checking to see if they are blistered around 45.  If they aren’t, let them go until 50 minutes, if they are taking them out then would be fine.
6.       Allow to cool on the counter for 20 minutes.
7.       In a large blender add the tomatoes and garlic.
8.       Next add red pepper flakes, herbs de Provence, onion powder, 2 tablespoons red chili paste, and a touch more salt and pepper for seasoning.
9.       Pulse for about 1-2 minutes, until tomatoes are completely dissolved. 

Serve over basically, anything, even card board, it’s that damn good.

Monday, July 27, 2015

PopPops Fried Peppers

There are some things in life where it is not beneficial to take a short cut.  

1.  Roasted Peppers
2.  Fried Peppers 
3. Any food you can cook for yourself,  within reason.
4.  Alcohol---buy cheap,  pay the price for days......... the hangover is literally non-stop on going hangover-a-thon caused by $2.00 gallon vodka.   It's disgusting and involves 2 containers of supersize Tylenol, a cold rag on the back of your neck,  Pizza delivery which you receive in your pajamas at 3pm,  and an all day headache that would make you want to cut your head off,  oh and then Chinese food at night because "1 pizza" wasn't enough and they must have started making them smaller.....
Just cheaper to drink Kettle One my friends,  take it from me.

On a more serious notes,  they sell peppers pre-roasted and pre-fried and you can doctor them up,  but you miss out on a lot of the flavor when they are jarred.  This is a time intensive project,  but it's perfect to wow for a dinner party.

I called this PopPops' fried peppers because I happened to make these around the same time Santino was home,  and he is obsessed with PopPop (my dad) and my dad is obsessed with any food fried in oil.  My dad is a terrible person to trust olive oil around.  Talia used to chase him around the kitchen monitoring his oil useage when cooking.  I tend to take after him,  where I go a little oil crazy. Santino doesn't take after anyone,  because he hardly eats--which is a problem only he has in this family.  We all share one thing in common though,  his affection for Big Joe.  He is the center of our family,  the rock if you will.  Santino is constantly saying "Hi PopPop"  which he kind of whispers a lot,  which is weird,  because sometimes Pop Pop isn't even around.  None the less,  Santino loves Pop Pop,  Pop Pop loves fried peppers, Elyse loves food,  Talia hates Olive on and so on.

This peppers are great on Antipasta platter,  mixed in with spaghetti with Parmesan cheese (DD's personal favorite),  or as a side on a table with a hearty Italian Loaf.

PopPop's Fried Peppers
Prep Time: 10 minutes
Cook Time: 2 hours
Serves: 8

12 Green and Red Peppers (mixed)
1 whole head of garlic
6 tablespoons of oil
2 cups of water
Salt and Pepper

1.  In a large deep pot heat 1 tbsp of olive oil over medium high heat.
2. While the pot is heating begin by cleaning and cutting the peppers into long strips.
3.  In the pot place in 1/4 of the peppers.  Begin frying so they get a nice char on the outside.
4. After about 5 minutes add 1/4 of the water,  and cover the pan with a tightly fitting lid.
5.  Allow to cook until water is gone,  5-10 minutes.  If the water is gone before 10 minutes is up,  add a little more to let it cook until the peppers no longer are long stringy strips and more like "worms"---like this 
6.  To finish this batch,  move them to another pot off the stove with a tightly fitting lid.  Drop in peppers,  cover,  and let sit waiting for the next batch to be added on top.
7.  Repeat the process until all of the peppers are in the pot off the stove.
8.   Chop garlic finely and throw into the same pan you used to cook the peppers with 1 tbsp of olive oil.
9.  Cook on medium high heat until fragrant,  but not burned 3-4 minutes.
10.  Add into the pot with the tightly fitting lid with 1/2 tbsp of salt and 1/2 tbsp of pepper. Cover and allow to rest for 30 minutes.
11.  Uncover and place in a tall mason jar with a screw on lid.  Leave the lid off until entirely cooled.  Place lid on and serve on the table in the jar for added flair :)

Time intensive yes,  but so well worth it.

Tuesday, June 30, 2015

Italian Turkey Stuffed Peppers

First, let's address the elephant in the room--- the blog name change.  The reason is,  my sister is always on me that I blog more food than CrossFit.  Which... is totally true.  So,  I still want the option to blog about weight lifting if I need to do so,  but I also want to focus more on my first love FOOD.  Barbells and Biscuits better encompasses what this blog is about.  And,  I want to branch more in critiquing restaurants and namely local sandwiches,  because sandwiches are my actual first love.

Anyway,  now that we are past that--- I hated stuffed peppers as a kid.  Did I ever tell you this before?  My dad made them when I was a kid and the mere thought of his offends me. I get it,  he had three kids that needed to be fed and they needed to be fed fast,  before they turned into Gremlins.  His version was ground meet stuffed into a hard green pepper and covered in sauce.  Baked until done and served hot to the wee ones who were led to believe the smell of tomato sauce in the oven was Pizza.   After that meal,  pizza was well deserved.

We all despised stuffed peppers,  even my mom.  I know she didn't say anything because she didn't want to upset the cook,  You see, my mother is a smart woman.  She knew who fed her,  and she never criticized the cook in fear of having her meal ticket cut off.  Now a days,  she doesn't care anymore so she says whatever she wants.  I suppose that's what happens when you get old.

The one trick I will impart to you about stuffed peppers,  is you must boil the peppers first to slightly soften them.  Otherwise no matter how long you cook them in the oven they will be hard and difficult to cut.

Italian Turkey Stuffed Peppers
Prep: 10-15 minutes
Cook: 45 minutes
Serves: 4

3-4 green peppers ( I used 3 because they were huge)
1 pound ground turkey
1 1/2 cups cooked brown rice
2 garlic cloves, diced
10 sun dried tomatoes,  diced
4 ounces buffalo mozzarella,  cut into chunks
1 tsp salt
1 tsp cracked black pepper
1 tsp parsley
1 tsp oregano
8-10 leaves fresh basil
1 28 ounce can diced tomato
1 cup freshly grated sharp provolone

1.  Preheat your oven to 350 degrees.
2.   Fill a large stock pot half way with water and bring to a boil.
3.  While the water is heating remove the lids from the green peppers and clean out most of the seeds from the inside.
4.  Drop peppers into the water and cover pot with a tight fitting lid for 10 minutes.
5.  Prepared all of the ingredients now by dicing the garlic,  sun dried tomatoes, julienne 6 of the fresh basil leaves, and chunking the mozzarella.
6. While the peppers are cooking mix the following in a large bowl:  turkey, brown rice, garlic, sun dried tomatoes, buffalo mozzarella, salt, black pepper, parsley, oregano, 6 fresh basil leaves, and 4 ounces of the diced tomatoes with juice.
7.  Mix well and set aside while you tend to the peppers.
8.  Drain the peppers into a strainer and run cold water over them so they can be easily handled.  
9.   In a large baking dish oil the bottom and add about 10 ounces of the diced tomatoes to the bottom of the dish.
10.  Begin stuffing your peppers,  and use the excess to make little mini meatballs for people like your mother who hate stuffed peppers.
11.  Top peppers with remaining diced tomatoes and then cover tops with shredded sharp provolone cheese.
12.  Throw in oven for 45 minutes until the top is bubbly and the turkey is cooked through in your one mini meatball.
13.  Serve with remaining basil as a garnish :).  Or do like me and cut the whole thing up to make a stuffed pepper bowl.