Sunday, January 6, 2013

2by2 Chili and Bonus Leftovers Recipe

Helloooo Winter!

While it hasn't been too snowy (or more accurately for my neighborhood: slushy) so far this winter, it has finally started to get cold.  Maybe not so cold that we risk frostbite, and definitely not the so-cold-they-closed-school cold of my childhood. Fine. But it is cold enough that outdoor runs make my nose leak and lungs beg for mercy.  Cold enough that I regret waking up for 6 AM workouts because the CrossFit box lacks climate control (but I do it anyway). Cold enough that we added a blanket to our bed, bought a heated bed pad, and I finally broke out the chili pot.

In case you are wondering, the heated bed pad is amazing.  I don't know who invented that, but they deserve a medal. Now that I have one, I would have gladly paid double. We got ours at Target. It has two controllers so CaveBoy and I can set our own temperatures (not that that's really necessary - we both have our sides set to 10).  So now, every night when I start to get ready for bed, the first thing I do is turn on the bed pads.  By the time I'm done washing and brushing and changing, the sheets are up to temperature. It has eliminated the cold shock and adrenaline rush we used to get when we got into bed and dramatically improved our sleep.  We fall asleep faster, stay asleep longer, and aren't as sore when we wake up in the morning.  Most nights, we turn it off before we really settle in, so as not to cook ourselves overnight. But even then we stay toasty and comfortable.

I highly recommend it.

2by2 Chili

I called this one 2by2 Chili because it calls for 2 (or 2x2)
of each vegetable, which is easy to remember at the grocery store.


3.5 pounds grass fed ground beef
2 yellow onions, diced
2 red bell peppers, diced
2 green bell peppers, diced
4 long celery ribs, diced
2 cups stock
1 can tomato paste
1 large pinch salt
1/2 teaspoon crushed red pepper
2 teaspoons garlic
1 teaspoon black pepper
1 teaspoon cumin
5 tablespoons chili powder


In a large pot, brown ground beef. Add diced veggies and cook until onions start to become clear, stirring regularly. Add stock, tomato paste, and seasoning and combine.  Cover. Simmer for one hour. Be sure to taste and re-season if necessary (I like to add even more chili powder at the end). Makes 8 servings.

Bonus Leftovers Recipe: Sweet Potato Chili Eggs



1 baked sweet potato
1 cup leftover chili
2 fried eggs
1 tablespoon butter


Melt butter on a small baking sheet (I used our toaster oven set at 350). Cut baked sweet potato length-wise, place face down on the baking sheet and heat at 350 while you make the rest. (this part is easy for us because we always have a container of baked sweet potatoes in the refrigerator. What if you don't do that? You should! But if you don't, just bake a raw sweet potato at 400 until syrup starts to gush out of it, then slice it length-wise and butter it). Warm leftover chili. Fry two eggs-over easy. Assemble as shown. Tah Dah! Makes 2 servings. 

Thursday, January 3, 2013

Pork-Stuffed Pepperoncini

We're 3 days in and 2013 has been great! I received a lot of positive feedback on my New Year's Day post and a few requests for the pepperoncini recipe I mentioned (surprise! check out below!). Then I had another day off work. You really can't beat that. I also learned first-hand why everyone loves Lululemon.  CaveBoy put a Lululemon headband in my stocking this year. It was super cute! But it didn't fit and fell right off when I tried to wear it. (It was "one size fits all." Does that mean I have an abnormally small head?) I tried to return it to the local store this morning, but couldn't. It turns out, headwear sales are final for sanitary reasons. I understood but was disappointed.

BUT THEN the lovely girl behind the counter offered to give me a free headband (I think the word she used was "promo" but I was too excited to listen closely) because she didn't want me to lose out on a Christmas gift.  She showed me to the headband display, and recommended a different style that she promised would stay on for both running and yoga. I imagined that meant it could also stand up to Tabata squats. She removed the tags, rang up a $0 sale, and handed me my new headband. Can you believe it? I haven't received amazing customer service like that in a loooong time, probably not since we left Texas. And she was right. I tried on the headband when I got back home, and it is going to work perfectly. I also saw a super cute backpack on the way out of the store. It's a little pricy, but after the headband-that-saved-Christmas, Lululemon has a customer for life!

And now the real reason you clicked on this page:

Pork-Stuffed Pepperoncini

These bad-boys were a hit on Christmas Eve. They also re-heated really well.


1 large (15.5 Oz) jar pepperoncini
1/2 sweet red onion, diced
1/2 pound ground pork
2 cloves garlic, diced
1 egg
1 tablespoon olive oil
crushed red pepper


Preheat oven to 400 degrees. In a medium skillet, saute diced onion in olive oil until brown.  While the onions are cooking, remove the pepperoncini from the jar and preserve 1/2 cup of the liquid.  Remove the tops and seeds from the pepperoncini.  When the onions are almost completely browned, add the diced garlic and cook until it is pleasantly aromatic (aka it smells like delicious garlic). Deglaze the skillet with the 1/2 cup of preserved pepperoncini liquid.  Season with a pinch of salt, a few shakes of black pepper, and a pinch of crushed red pepper (or more if you like it spicy).  Continue cooking until most of the liquid is gone. Remove from heat and allow to cool. In a medium bowl mix pork, egg, and cooled onion mixture. Using your hands, stuff pork mixture into each pepperoncini, overstuffing them so that pork protrudes from the opening (see picture).  Bake* at 400 degrees until the pork is cooked through. About 20 minutes. Makes about 20,** depending on how many pepperoncini are in your jar.

*Note1: I baked my pepperoncini in a mini muffin tin, placing one pepper in each little cup. I was concerned about dripping grease. But, that turned out to be unnecessary. You could use a large cookie sheet and be just fine.

**Note2: If you have any left-over pork mixture, roll it into meatballs about the same size as your peppers. Bake along with the peppers. This way you can cut one open to be double sure it is cooked through without having to damage a pepperoncini. It also gives you something to snack on while you finish getting the food ready. (Who's looking out for you?)

Tuesday, January 1, 2013

What I learned in 2012

Happy New Year!

2012 was one of my most successful years to date. I (finally) achieved my goal weight, and more significantly I achieved better health and wellness than any other time in memory. I also learned a lot in 2012. I plan to carry these few key lessons, along with many others, with me into 2013.

I am allergic to wheat, corn and oats but can tolerate some rice, which makes total sense if you think about it. When I first started to clean up my eating, my eczema cleared up but then returned shortly after I consumed any wheat.  I didn't need much more justification than that to fully eliminate wheat from my diet. Now that it is gone, I have noticed that oats and corn cause a similar reaction. I don't know if it was masked by the larger reaction I had been having to wheat, or if I was eating so little corn and oats in my wheat-filled days that I didn't react, but now I cannot deny the truth.  Rice, on the other hand, doesn't bother me unless I go hog-wild and eat Thai food three times in a week.  I recently stumbled upon this post by The Urban Poser that explained the science behind what I had determined experimentally. Check it out and then see for yourself. Are you allergic to wheat, corn and oats?

I can defend myself. Fortunately, I was able to learn this lesson the "easy way," without having to suffer a real attack. Early in 2012, I attended a Be Your Own Bodyguard seminar. I found the event to be informative and empowering. Some of the coaching, especially the mental aspects of an attack and the Cycle of Behavior, were so powerful that I knew I needed to learn more.  I attended another training course this summer and now CaveBoy and I are Personal Defense Readiness coaches.  The course covered all aspects of personal defense including mental preparation, awareness, and physical defense. The course was physically and mentally demanding and one of my most rewarding experiences of 2012.

CaveBoy taking a SPEAR from Tony Blauer (facing) founder, CEO at Blauer Tactical Systems, Inc.
Photo shamelessly stolen from a good friend's Facebook.

I shouldn't eat nuts or most seeds because they make me break out. I don't know if it is the Omega6, or some other nuttish/seedly aspect. Either way, nuts and most seeds don't agree with my skin. I guess that means CaveBoy doesn't have to worry about me eating his favorite cookies. Pumpkin seeds seem to be the only ones that I can handle, which is awesome because they're also my favorite. At least I'm not alone, Juli over at has blogged about having a similar issue.

I can do a Turkish get up. This is especially remarkable because prior to 2012 I didn't even know there was such a thing as a Turkish get up.  But I can do one now. Boom!

TGUs in the summer.  I'm even skinnier and stronger now.
This photo also was stolen from that good friend's Facebook
(I don't know why he puts up with me).

I am a champion wheelchair racer. I learned this first-hand at CaveBoy's 30th birthday party.  I don't know if the fact that we had wheelchairs at the party means we should never let CaveBoy and his friends go to the rental store unsupervised, or if we should encourage that behavior.

The party also included belly flops, a 500m row for time (I PR'd)
piles of food and jello shots, and an indoor bouncy castle.

I love Club Med. CaveBoy and I spent four days at Club Med Sandpiper Bay in Florida, to celebrate our 3 year anniversary.  It was wonderful. The food was pretty good. The alcohol was all-included. And the little kids were no real bother. We went sailing, swimming, paddle boarding, and took a trip to the ocean. We ate 6 times a day, drank tequila, and relaxed. I recommend it to a friend.

Crushing it on a SUP. I unknowingly grabbed the "hard board"
and impressed the water sports instructors with my natural skills. 
I still can't say "no" to a Tequila shot (no matter how many I've already taken). I re-learned that lesson again last night. I'm nearly 31 years old, but the only thing that has changed about my tequila consumption in the past 10 years is my brand. I still prefer shots to mixed drinks (there is less to spill while dancing) and I still haven't mastered tequila math (aka counting shots).  Fortunately for my stomach, my safety, and my husband, I am easily distracted by the dance floor. As long as I do not have an active enabler, I'll survive the night.

I am a damn good cook. Maybe that's rude to say about myself. Or maybe you're thinking, "I'll be the judge of that!" But it's true. I create delicious food for my little family that keeps us well nourished in body and soul. Maybe bacon croutons aren't very adventurous or complex. Fine. True. But the key lime "cave pie" was nothing short of magical. And on Christmas Eve, I took a big risk and served pork-stuffed pepperoncini the very day I invented the recipe. They were a hit, along with my CaveBoy-approved deviled eggs and the rest of the spread.

Our Christmas Eve spread. Don't worry, the pepperoncini recipe is coming soon.
So there you have it, what I learned in 2012.  Of course, this isn't all I learned. I have embraced the old adage "you learn something new every day" and endeavor to make sure it is true. I am looking forward to the (minimum) 365 lessons to come in 2013, and sharing my experience in this blog.