Kitchen Adventures || Avocado toast with Smoked Salmon

It always blows my mind how much places charge for a piece of bread with smashed avocado…. I mean, I know avocados can be a little pricey at times, but what I’m about to share with you would easily go for like $15 at a fancy pants brunch place. Have I paid it before? Yes… I have. But, you can have the same fancy pants breakfast/brunch at home with like 10 minutes of effort.

I did not choose to throw a fried egg on top this time, but next time I make it I probably will because everything is better with an egg on it!

Whether it’s a staycation or a Tuesday morning, pamper yourself with a breakfast that is full of goodies and will fuel you for the day ahead!

INGREDIENTS
Whole grain bread (I chose a 15 grain)
2 Large avocados
1 Package Wild Smoked Salmon – sliced (choose an unseasoned option)
Fresh dill
1 tsp lemon juice
1 clove garlic – minced
Radishes – thinly sliced
Small sweet tomatoes – quartered
Salt & pepper to taste

*Optional – fried egg

 

INSTRUCTIONS

Toast your bread! Toast to your liking.

In a small bowl, add the avocados, lemon juice, garlic, and some salt & pepper. Mash together until you reach the consistency you like and the ingredients are well mixed.

Spread the mixture onto your toast. Top with slices of smoked salmon, radishes, tomatoes, & small sprigs of fresh dill. Finish with a squeeze of lemon juice and a small sprinkle of black pepper.

IT’S THAT EASY! These flavors were so fresh and the colors were gorgeous! Don’t want to make it yourself? Give me $15 and I got you 😉

Coach Spotlight || Mark Celis

My fitness journey began at a very young age, beginning with sports. My parents
exposed me to many extracurricular activities as early as elementary school, where I began to fall in love with human performance. Of course, as a young boy, I didn’t see it as human performance but rather, more of a time to play. My first exposure to organized sports began with playing on my first tee-ball team around the age of 5 (cute pic on the right) and my love for sports only grew from there.

 

Growing up, I quickly recognized that I shared a love for most sports and desired to be involved in as many as I could. From basketball and track throughout middle school, to baseball and ultimate Frisbee in high school, I always found a way to use my fitness and athleticism. I eventually decided that I would focus most of my attention on baseball in high school. That’s where I had my first taste of weight training, where it gave me the opportunity to enhance my abilities on the field. Little did I know that I would actually begin to fall in love with the science behind why we were lifting weights and its benefits not only as an athlete but as an individual.

Three months prior to my senior baseball season, I fractured my distal fibula and had to run around in a cast and with crutches. Because I knew it would hinder me from practicing hard before the start of the season, I was very discouraged. Regardless, I kept my chin up, drank my milk, and did what I could to make sure I would still perform for my team by the time we started. It was during that process that I was reassured in my decision in pursuing a degree in healthcare.

 

After graduation, I made my way to good ol’ Lubbock, Texas where I attended Texas
Tech University (wreck em’). I pursed a degree in Kinesiology (with a Pre-PT track) because I
knew I wanted to work in the field of physical therapy. It was there that I found the sport of
Crossfit and where I met some awesome people that encouraged me to pursue physical
therapy. Among those people in the Crossfit community were a professor with his PhD. in
exercise science, and a DPT who taught me a lot about the profession. I eventually interned at
several PT clinics but the one that had the biggest influence on me was Lubbock Sports Rehab
that was connected to the D1 sports facility. That experience helped affirm my passion and
desire to work with athletes and sports rehab.


Once I earned my four-year bachelor’s degree, I moved back home to begin the very
long process of apply to PT schools. After a small waiting period, I was finally accepted to the University of St. Augustine for Health Sciences and moved to Austin, Texas. I quickly became a member of Crossfit Austin and eventually became a “Coach For Life”. It has been such a blessing being a part of a genuine coaching staff that actually cares about their members. I have seen a ton of development being a part of this crew. It’s allowed me to practice my professional skills with clients and has helped me develop that “coach’s eye” while assessing movement. I have seen a ton of growth in my life and I am FIRED UP to continue my development as a coach, athlete, and hopeful physical therapist!

In Response to COVID-19

For the Health & Safety of our Community…

 

To our CFA & Austin Weightlifting Community,

We are all increasingly aware of the threat of Coronavirus/COVID-19.

It has been a huge topic of discussion both within the community of athletes and between the coaches as we decide on how to best to respond.

While we see no reason to panic, we’re committed to taking extra steps so that our athletes can train safely through this outbreak.

1. Stay home if you are sick.
This is the #1 thing you can do to protect our community. Please err on the side of caution and take a rest day if you think you might be getting sick. If you do get sick, please stay home until you are recovered.

2. Wash your hands before and after working out.
A quick rinse isn’t enough. With soap and water, scrub your hands (top and bottom!) thoroughly for 20 seconds. We’re CrossFitters, we know exactly how to count down the seconds, so do it!

3. Wipe down all of your equipment thoroughly with the wipes provided.
This is a courtesy you provide for the other athletes even when there isn’t a terrible virus floating around – so let’s be even more thorough and wipe down anything you touched or sweated on. Don’t miss the pull up bars, boxes, and the sweat angels you leave on the floor.

*NOTE*
Zogics Antibacterial Wipes have demonstrated effectiveness against viruses similar to the 2019 Coronavirus (SARS-CoV-2) on hard, non-porous surfaces. Therefore, these products can be used against 2019 Novel Coronavirus when used in accordance with their directions against Norovirus on hard, non-porous surfacesFor more information, click here.

4. Limit physical contact – Opt for “air fives”
Now’s not the time to make unnecessary physical contact – however there’s never a time when a “nice work!” isn’t appreciated.

5. We’re altering our cleaning routine.
Our team is doubling down on our cleaning routine to minimize transmission risks. We’re paying extra attention to door handles, pull up bars, barbells – anything that hands touch regularly.

*NOTE*
DisInFX – For years now, we’ve had a company called Disinfx come monthly to do an antimicrobial spray and testing. This helps us kill any viruses/bacteria that usually cause issues in gyms and with regular testing they can let us know where we stand on our numbers. We have always tested well below average and the solution they use has proven effective against viruses similar to Covid-19. We will continue to monitor with them and add additional services if our numbers climb. For more information, click here.

We appreciate your help in protecting our gym fam. If you have any questions or concerns, please don’t hesitate to shoot us a message!

In Health,
The CFA Team

Kitchen Adventures || Meat & Potatoes.. and a little something green

Presidential candidates weren’t the only thing y’all were voting for on Super Tuesday! 😉  I was going through pictures on my phone of some of the meals I’ve made lately and couldn’t decide which recipe to share so I put it to a vote and our members chose!

It’s pretty clear y’all are the meat and potatoes type! This could very easily be doubled and made into meal prep bowls, but this was just made as a weeknight dinner. Which might I add, was a very simple meal. These things came together out of a necessity to use some items I already had and the results were fantastic!

I used a cut of bison we had from Roam Ranch and while it was great (as is all of the meat we get from RR or FON) it wasn’t the main attraction of this plate for me. It was a flank steak usually used for London Broil, but honestly I didn’t even really cook it as a London Broil. The butcher paper was labeled that way so that’s what I called it. You can just as easily replace that with a filet or NY strip, or whatever you like!

The real stars of the show for me were the veggies, particularly the sweet potatoes. I also have gotten used to all my fancy gadgets in the kitchen so I’ll post the methods I used, but also some alternates if you don’t have a sous vide or an instant pot.

Ok, get after it! Bonus – keep scrolling for a behind the scenes look at what is happening in my kitchen while I cook…. 😉

INGREDIENTS
Image may contain: food
*This served 2 plates

12 oz steak of your choice – Mine was a bison flank steak, but use your favorite! A couple of filets, a sirloin, whatever you want! I ate about 4 oz and Tim had about 8 oz
Salt
Pepper
Garlic
Olive Oil

Sweet Potatoes
2 medium – large sweet potatoes
1 TBSP dried sage
1 tsp molasses
1 tsp honey
1/4 cup milk of your choice – I used coconut milk

Brussels Sprouts
1 lb fresh sprouts – trimmed and quartered
1 TBSP balsamic vinegar
1 TBSP honey
salt & pepper to taste
Olive oil

INSTRUCTIONS

Steak – Ok, so I used a bison flank I had in the freezer, but any cut you like will do. I kept it very simple for this one. If you’re using a flank steak, place the cut between to sheets of wax paper and tenderize it with a mallet. If you have the time (it will be much better), marinate it for at least an hour to over night in your favorite marinade. You can prep and cook everything else while the steak marinates. See my notes below for a very basic marinade.

To cook with a sous vide  – Y’all… you put the meat in a ziploc bag with all your seasoning. In this case, I used salt, pepper, Image may contain: foodand minced garlic… Fill a large pot with water, set the temperature and follow the instructions on the app.

MOST folks don’t have a sous vide though so my go to method is a cast iron skillet and the oven. Preheat the oven to 425. After marinating pat the steak dry, season both sides with salt and pepper and heat a cast iron (or oven safe) skillet with 1-2 tbsp oil over med-high heat. Once it’s hot, put the steak in and leave it! Don’t touch it for about 3 minutes. When it moves easily, flip and do the other side. This will cause a lot of smoke so make sure your vent is on. Move the skillet to the oven to finish out to your desired temperature. Use a meat thermometer to determine proper doneness. I like med-rare a little more on the rare side so I only let the steak cook for 3-4 min in the oven and then take it out and let it rest on the cutting board for a couple of minutes before cutting. THIS CHART will be helpful for finding your perfect temperature. It’s better to err on the more rare side because it will continue to cook a bit while sitting on the cutting board.

Brussels Sprouts – So simple! Preheat the oven to 400. Line a baking sheet with foil and grease with oil or cooking spray. In a bowl mix the quartered sprouts with 1 tsp of olive oil, 1 tbps balsamic vinegar, and 1 tbsp honey. Spread evenly in one layer onto the baking sheet and sprinkle with salt & pepper. Roast for 20-25 minutes, stirring once halfway through. Roast until desired tenderness.

Sweet Potatoes – Ah, the best part in my opinion! I used my instant pot. Wash potatoes and place on the trivet with a cup of water. Close the vent valve and set to manual pressure cook on high for 18 minutes and allow to depressurize naturally (takes 12-15 minutes). Once the valve drops you can release the lid.

***2 other cooking options – wash, poke with a fork, and coat in coconut oil. Wrap in foil and put them on a baking sheet. Bake at 425 for about 45 minutes or until fork tender

***Or – wash, poke with a fork, and wrap in wax paper. Microwave for 7-10 minutes (for 2 potatoes) or until fork tender. Turn halfway through.

Once you have a cooked potato, let it cool until you can handle it. The skin should peel off pretty easily. In a large bowl, mash the potatoes with a masher or large fork. Add the sage, molasses, honey, and milk and continue to mix until well combined.

That’s it y’all! If you time it right, you can have everything coming out at the same time and plated up together.

March Athlete of the Month || Marvin Poquiz

Each month we spotlight a different CFA athlete who stands out and shows just how awesome they are. What is it that makes up an Athlete of the Month? It may not be the person that finishes the fastest, Rx’s every WOD, or gets a PR every time they walk in the gym. Although we love and celebrate when those things happen, the Athlete of the Month is made up of much more than physical ability. This person shows up, gives their best every time, and then gives a little more. They are hungry to learn and always ready to do the work. They support their fellow classmates and encourage them to reach their goals. This athlete embodies what we believe the CrossFit Austin Community should be about.

Our March Athlete of the Month is Marvin Poquiz! Marvin has been with us for about 7 months now, but it feels like he’s been part of the crew for much longer! He very quickly became a part of the family! Marvin has a smile to light up the room, making everyone feel welcome. He’s always in for a good time and the coaches love how responsive he is to cues. He listens, applies, and makes great progress in every single class!  Marvin has so many of the qualities that we look for in an athlete of the month! Marvin, the CFA Team is proud to honor you as our March Athlete of the Month and as an awesome part of this team. Thanks for your all your hard work and we look forward to seeing all you accomplish in the years to come! Congratulations!

 

State your Name and/or Nickname please: Marvin

Words to live by?
“At the end of the day people won’t remember what you said or did, they will remember how you made them feel.” ― Maya Angelou

What is your fitness background?
I did track and was a cross country runner in high school, then mostly did HIT/P90x-type of workouts starting in college.

How long have you been CrossFitting?
Approximately 4 years now.

Take us back to your first day of CrossFit Austin… How did you feel? How do you compare it to workouts today?
August 8, 2019! I remember it distinctly because it was my first day living In Austin, had just gotten into (what I thought to be) a minor accident a couple hours prior, and it was over 100* that day; I was sweating profusely and it felt like I was drowning in dry heat/lava.

Aside from the environmental shock, my experience that day was ! Tim was manning the gym that day and we talked in length about what I’m looking for in a box as I was “shopping around” for a new home.  He walked me through CFA’s overall vision/goals for its community and then assessed my “fundamentals” of CrossFit.  Needless to say, I didn’t even bother visiting any other box!

What’s your favorite part of CrossFit Austin?
Hands down, my favorite part about CFA are its people.  Both coaches and members cultivate a community-based environment that really enables each member to reach their personal fitness and social goals.

Current Training Goals/PRs?
My training goal this year has been to show up! Personally, this means being more mindful with my body to avoid injury and allow me to keep showing up.

What advice do you have for folks just starting out in CrossFit?
Be patient, stay humble, and keep an open mind! Chances are you might have to unlearn or break some bad habits to do things correctly/safely.

What is your cheat meal go to?
Pan-fried crispy SPAM with white rice!

How do you use your fitness outside of the gym?

Yikes… I plead the fifth 😳 I suppose I dabble in outdoor hiking with my partner, Brandon, and our 3 dogs.

Tell us about a moment you felt most proud of yourself during a workout.
There’s not a specific instance I can recall, but I’m proud of the moments when I’ve hit old PRs or make new ones knowing I’m continuously getting better.

What are the biggest challenges you’ve faced in your fitness journey?
My perception of what it means to be fit and healthy. Social influence can be deadly if left unchallenged, but defining what it truly means to be fit and healthy for myself was empowering. #youdoyou

If you could create a WOD and name it for yourself, what would it be?
Starvin’ Marvin

20min AMRAP
1000m Row Buy-In
5 Pull-Ups
10 Burpees
15 Medball Squats
20 Double Unders

What keeps you going on the days you don’t feel like it?
I made a couple friends in the form of a raccoon and 2 tuxedo stray/outdoor cats in the morning who I feed with bread right before the 630am class. I suppose showing up for the coaches is a close second! 😉

What are your hobbies, interests and/or talents outside of CrossFit?
I’m a nerd at heart and avidly collect X-men and Transformers toys based on the cartoons.  To this day, I still watch some anime when I have the time. I also enjoy listening to e-books and podcasts stations by NPR; I love just zoning out on my drives to/from work.  I’m currently consumed by my master’s program, but on occasion I get the itch to make art. I’ve painted giant canvas pieces and have even painted a giant mural for my last CrossFit gym in LA.

Tell us something we don’t know about you…
I’m a “stress” addict, I get a thrill in always seeking discomfort to improve.  Hence why I’m a fan of CrossFit, getting my masters, and finding unique job positions in the Air Force.

Leave the fine folks of CrossFit Austin with some parting words…
“It’s only really over when you give up!” I say this to myself when I need a little boost professionally with a work and/or school deadline.

Tips for a Successful Back Squat Cycle!

 

Here we are! It’s time for back squats! Below are the dates for all of our upcoming back squat sessions! We have already hit 1 of 12. If you have not pretested your back squat yet, I HIGHLY suggest you get your booty in here before next Thursday (2 of 12) and find your max.

 

If you truly want to see progress on your squats this cycle, below are some tips to help you out!

1) Be consistent – most weeks we’ll have 2 sessions on the back squat. They are spread out well enough that you should be able to recover between sessions, but there is no way you’ll see progress if you’re only hitting a handful of the sessions. Put the dates in your calendar and do your best to make it to class those days!

 

2) Follow the prescriptions (percentages & tempos) – when it says “sets across” or “same weight across” that means that all sets & reps are done at the same weight. The percentage range, 65-75% for example, means you’re choosing a weight within that range that you can complete every single rep successfully. This is also necessary for tracking purposes. If you build on every set and only record the heaviest set, that is not representative of what you truly did in the session.

A note on tempo – You will see varying tempos on both the squat and the db row in this cycle. This isn’t meant to punish you and if you’re truly sticking to the tempos, you WILL see improvement!

Don’t skip out on the rest either!!

 

3) Track your sessions – Make notes & record accurate numbers. Simple as that. Depending on the tempo and rep scheme you may want to stick to the lower end of the percentage range. When you are tracking your numbers, you have a better understanding of what’s happening and where you may need to make adjustments from session to session and week to week.

 

4) Points of Performance – Don’t do crappy squats… (or bent over rows…) All those little short cuts people take to make a movement easier…. Yeah… it’s not helping you. Going too heavy for the day and not hitting depth… Yeah… it’s not going to help you…

If you struggle to do a decent back squat at depth without losing position (butt wink, knees caving, back rounding, etc…) you should stick with a box squat.. Aim for a controlled descent to the box with about a 2 count pause on the box. Don’t lose tension on the box (legs still contracted 50% or more)

Leave the ego out of it and do the work YOU should be doing… #fitnessmaturity

Strive for the best rep every single time. Good range of motion, bracing, foot placement and engagement…. We’ll have more videos throughout the cycle, but don’t stunt your progress with bad reps! Also, it makes your coaches sad…

 

5) RECOVERY – Take care of your bodies, y’all! There are so many things you can do to help yourself recover. Normatec has spots open on Tu/Th every week, we have an ice bath day coming up (3/7), foam roll, active recovery, massage with Heidi, eating and sleeping well… Don’t ignore those little nagging pains either. If you have something going on, talk to your coaches. We can help you get to the bottom of it so you can keep training (safely). Recovery is just as important as the work!

 

Ok, dates below… I’ve also included the post test for our Push Press and the Pretest for the next cycle after back squats!

  

BACK SQUAT CYCLE 

Mon 2/17 – Pretest
Wed 2/26 – 1 of 12
Thurs 3/5 – 2 of 12
Tues 3/10 – 3 of 12
Fri 3/13 – 4 of 12
Mon 3/16 – 5 of 12
Thurs 3/19 – 6 of 12
Mon 3/23 – 7 of 12
Fri 3/27 – 8 of 12
Tues 3/31 – 9 of 12
Fri 4/3 – 10 of 12
Mon  4/6 – 11 of 12
Fri 4/10 – 12 of 12
Mon 4/13 – Post Test

Other days to note:

Push Press Post Test – Monday, March 2

Pretest for the next strength cycle – Jerks – Monday, March 30

Kitchen Adventures || Carnitas Taco Bowls

Meal prepping is all about making life easier, right? Well, part of that for me is packing things in a way that allows an easy heat and eat for me at the gym! There is some assembly required with these because I like a lot of ‘stuff’ on my bowls, but it’s still a pretty simple lunch!

The carnitas recipe I’m sharing is an instant pot version because my life basically revolves around my instant pot now, but you could also go with a basic crockpot version using the same spices and ingredients!

 

INGREDIENTS – This made 4 bowls for us

Carnitas

Olive Oil for browning meat
3-4 lbs pork shoulder chopped into smaller chunks
1 TBSP garlic powder
1 TBSP cumin
1 tsp coriander
1 tsp smoked paprika
1 tsp pink salt
1 tsp black pepper
2 tsp chili powder
2 tsp dried oregano
2 tsp coconut sugar (optional, but tasty)
2-3 cinnamon sticks – 3-4 inches long
2 oranges, halved
1 lime
1 cup water

Rice Mixture

2 cups cooked brown rice
1/2 yellow onion – diced
1 bell pepper – diced
1/2 cup corn – I used frozen corn and just defrosted it
1/2 tsp salt
1/2 tsp pepper
1/4 cup chopped cilantro
1/8 tsp cayenne for heat – optional
juice from 1 lime

Toppings
Sliced avocado
Sliced jalapeno
Salsa
Plain Greek Yogurt
Green Onions
Additional limes

INSTRUCTIONS

Carnitas –

Mix the spices together in a small bowl and rub evenly over the pork pieces. Heat instant pot on saute’ setting and add 1-2 tbsp of olive oil.

Once hot, add meat. Brown meat for a couple minutes per side, completing in batches if necessary. Remove and set aside.

Change the instant pot setting to manual pressure cook and add the water, scraping up any brown bits on the bottom from browning the meat.

Add the meat back in and squeeze the juice from both oranges and the lime over top. Toss the cinnamon sticks in and give everything a quick stir.

Secure the lid and make sure the venting valve is closed. Set the timer on high pressure for 40 minutes. Allow to naturally release for another 15 and then vent the lid.

While the pressure is releasing, turn the oven to high broil and line a baking sheet with aluminum foil. Spray lightly with cooking spray.

Remove the meat from the instant pot and shred in a bowl. Then add the meat to the prepared baking sheet. Place under the broiler for 3-5 minutes or until the edges begin to get crispy. Remove, sprinkle with a little more salt if you prefer and squeeze lime juice on top!

Rice

Cook rice according to the package. You’ll need about 2 cups cooked.

In a large pan, heat a little olive oil over medium high heat. Add the onion and bell pepper and saute’ for 3-5 minutes or until it begins to soften. Lower the heat and add the corn, cilantro, salt, pepper, and rice. Stir well to combine. Squeeze lime juice on top. Adjust seasoning as desired!

Divide the rice into 4 bowls. I used rectangle pyrex containers and did half rice, half meat and put the lid on. I prep all the toppings as well (except for the avocado – I cut that fresh 🙂 )

Reheat, top it with your favorite goodies, and serve with tortillas or chips to your liking!

 

Kitchen Adventures || Mexican Gumbo

So, to be completely honest, I really didn’t know what this was going to be when I started cooking, but I’m thrilled with the result. This was very much an effort to make a quick, easy, nutritious, and filling meal for dinner on a weeknight. I just started chopping and dumping things in a pot and this is what came out! Mexican Gumbo is about the best “name” I could come up with, but if you make it and think of something better to call it, let me know!

The whole thing took less than 45 minutes for me. Using a rotisserie chicken saved some time and effort, but you could just as easily cook some chicken breast or thighs if you wanted. Enjoy y’all!

INGREDIENTS

Olive Oil for cooking
1 bell pepper – any color – diced
1/2 onion – diced
3 cloves garlic – minced
1 jalapeno – remove seeds and ribs – diced
1 7 oz can diced green chilis
1 14.5 oz can fired roasted diced tomatoes
2 15 oz cans black beans – drained and rinsed
4 cups chicken broth
1/2 cup rice
2 lbs (approximately) cooked shredded chicken – I just used a rotisserie chicken and shredded it up in the pot!
1 tsp ground cumin
1/2 tsp ground coriander
1 TBS chili powder
1 tsp oregano
1/2 tsp paprika
salt & pepper to taste

To top
Avocado
Green Onions
Sliced jalapeno
Plain Greek yogurt or sour cream
Tortilla Chips

INSTRUCTIONS

If you aren’t using a rotisserie chicken, cook your chicken and shred to go into the pot later.

Heat about a tablespoon of olive oil in a large pot over medium-high heat. Add the bell pepper, jalapeno, and onion and cook for 3-4 minutes or until they begin to soften. Add the garlic and cook for about 30 seconds.

Add the tomatoes, green chiles, black beans and all the spices. Stir to combine well. Cook for about a minute or until fragrant. Next, add the broth. Bring the mixture to a low boil and add the rice. Add the shredded chicken and stir to mix all of the ingredients well. Reduce heat to low, cover and simmer for 20-25 minutes or until the rice has cooked.

It should be a pretty thick mixture, but if you prefer it to be a bit thinner you can add some more broth. Taste and adjust salt & pepper as desired.

Serve it up with avocado, jalapeno, greek yogurt, cheese, whatever you like!  Tortilla chips give a nice little crunch!

Kitchen Adventures || Venison Meatloaf

Dinner is served!

Salad or meatloaf ingredients?

Will you look at that gorgeous color?!

Baking pan set up
All done!

Whoever decided meatloaf and meatballs needed breadcrumbs… I disagree. They claim it’s a “binding agent” but in myexperience, the egg does a fine job of that and using vegetables gives it a lovely texture and keeps it moist! There is nothing worse than a brick of dried out meatloaf.. This is also a great opportunity to sneak in some extra veggies if you have a hard time with that! I outlined a couple of options for cooking in the instructions so do what you’re comfortable with.

As for the pre-cooked ingredients…. Is that not gorgeous! That basically looks like a salad before it gets mixed up with the meat and MY GOD that venison is beautiful! You know you’re getting really good quality meat when it has that beautiful rich color.

A little bit of planning needs to go into this because of the baking time, but it really is a very simple weeknight meal that will yield enough leftovers for lunch the next couple of days. We had this with an Italian salad and some green beans… dang we ate a lot of veggies!

Ok, enjoy guys!

INGREDIENTS
2 lbs Venison (Obviously I used Force of Nature because I’m obsessed)
1/2 medium yellow onion – finely diced
1 rib celery – finely diced
1 large carrot – grated
1 small zucchini – grated
1/2 cup kale tightly packed – stems removed and finely chopped
1 small bell pepper – any color – finely diced
2 large cloves garlic – minced
1/4 cup finely chopped parsley
2 large eggs
2 TBSP Worcestershire sauce
2 TBSP tomato paste
1 TBSP brown mustard
1 tsp pink salt1 tsp paprika
1 tsp black pepper
1/2 tsp dry rubbed sage

For the glaze
1/2 cup ketchup
1 TBSP Worcestershire
2 TBSP coconut sugar (or brown sugar)

INSTRUCTIONS

Preheat the oven to 350. Wash, chop/mince/grate all the vegetables. In a large bowl, gently break up the venison being careful not to overwork the meat. This is important in keeping it from getting tough when it’s cooked. (This goes for all meats in meatloaf/meatballs)

In a separate bowl, mix all of the rest of the meatloaf ingredients until well combined. I started by mixing all of the vegetables first and then added the seasoning and wet ingredients. Once all of that is combined, add the desired amount to the bowl with your venison. I like my meatloaf to be totally packed, but that’s up to you. You still want it to somewhat hold together.

You have a couple of options for how to cook this. I have taken to just forming a “loaf” and cooking it on a baking sheet. I have found it cooks faster and I can drain any excess liquid or fat very easily. If you want to stick to a traditional loaf pan though, that is totally acceptable.

Mix the ingredients for the glaze in a small bowl until well combined. Using about 1/3 of the glaze, spread a thin layer over the top (and sides if using the baking sheet method). Reserve the rest to serve with the meatloaf once it’s done. Baking times will vary depending on your method. For a baking sheet/pan about an hour should do it. It may take just a bit longer in a loaf pan or glass dish, but shouldn’t take more than 1:15. You can use meat thermometer to check the internal temp if you’re unsure.

Because I like to drain the extra fat/liquid, I checked it about 45 min in and drained it and then finished out the last 15 min.

That’s it guys. This packs in so much flavor, a ton of great veggies, and is super simple to make. Enjoy!

Kitchen Adventures || Lasagna Soup

So, between a wedding and the Super Bowl last weekend I got some meal prepping done, but not enough to get us through the week and I had NO idea what I was going to post of this week’s Kitchen Adventures. We had another lovely week with a 30 degree drop which changed what I wanted to eat. I meal prepped lighter things like taco salad for earlier in the week, but today had me wanting something warm and hearty.

This afternoon, lasagna popped in my head… It’s been a really long time since I’ve made lasagna…  I like it, but I wasn’t really in the mood to do all the work to make it AND I wasn’t sure I really wanted all that cheese and pasta. I also thought about making another batch of some version of veggie soup… then…. Lasagna Soup came into my mind.

Y’all…. This is such a great alternate if you like lasagna. It’s not nearly as heavy. YOU control how much cheese goes in. I’m not a HUGE fan of the texture of ricotta so this was great because I could add just a little to my soup to get the creaminess and the flavor without going overboard! You also have the option of using a grain free or veggie based pasta if you like!

Anyway, this was quick to make and so insanely delicious. Enjoy!

Lasagna Soup

INGREDIENTS

1 LB Italian Sausage – I used FON Wild Boar and seasoned with Italian Seasoning
8-12 oz of pasta – I used a small penne veggie pasta
1-2 TBSP Olive oil
4 cloves of garlic – minced
½ yellow onion – diced
4 TBSP tomato paste
6 cups chicken broth
(1) 28 oz (or 2 14.5 oz) cans of fire roasted diced tomatoes
2 tsp oregano
1 tsp crushed red pepper flakes
2 bay leaves
1 cup mozzarella
Fresh basil – chiffonade
½ cup grated Parmesan
8 oz whole milk ricotta
Salt & Pepper to taste

INSTRUCTIONS

Chop the onion, mince the garlic, and open the cans first because this recipe moves pretty quickly so you’ll want to have everything ready to go.

In one pot, start some water to boil. Once boiling, cook the pasta according to the box. Drain and set aside. A little al dente is good for this because you’ll be adding it to a hot soup.

While the water is heating for the pasta, heat a tbsp of olive oil a large pot (as always, I used my enameled cast iron Dutch oven) over medium-high heat. Add the meat – if using the Force of Nature Wild Boar, add 2 TBSP Italian Seasoning and brown, crumbling as it cooks.

Once browned, drain any excess fat or add more olive oil as needed and add the onion. Cook for a few minutes until the onions begin to soften. Next, add the garlic and cook for about 30 seconds. Then, add the tomato paste and continuously stir for another minute.

Add the broth, bay leaves, tomatoes, oregano, red pepper flakes, and season with salt & pepper to taste. Bring the whole mixture to a boil, then stir, reduce to low and simmer for 20-30 minutes until it begins to thicken.

While the soup is working, mix the ricotta, parmesan, and salt and pepper to taste in a small bowl and set aside. Chop the basil and shred the mozzarella (or open the bag… 😉 )

Finally, add the pasta and stir well! Serve in a giant bowl (or a normal sized bowl…) and top with a dollop of the ricotta mixture, shredded mozzarella, and basil. Enjoy.

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