Thursday, December 19, 2013

Hunger Games Capitol Stew

Here's the thing. I love food way too much for my own good. The only way I can get myself to make regularly healthy choices is to mix things up a bit and make things that excite me. With all this cold weather, it's comfort food time. Nothing is better than snuggling up with a good book and a piping hot meaty dinner! That's right people, I'm talking stew.

I try to eat Paleo most of the time and as much as I love soups and stews most of them include dairy and/or cream. However, this recipe was devised specifically for Paleo folks who love The Hunger Games and who want their own parachute to deliver Lamb and Plumb stew directly to their kitchen. Get ready for the guilt free delicious!

  • 3 lb. boneless lamb shoulder or leg, trimmed of excess fat and cut into 1-1/2- to 2-inch pieces
  • 3 tbs. extra virgin olive oil
  • Salt and pepper to taste
  • 1 medium yellow onion, coarsely chopped
  • 1 medium parsnip, corsely chopped 
  • 2 medium carrot, coarsely chopped 
  • 1 to 2 Tbs. minced fresh ginger
  • 1 tsp. ground cumin
  • 1 tsp. ground turmeric
  • 1 tsp. ground cinnamon
  • 1 tsp. celery seed
  • 1 cup red wine
  • 3 cups low-salt beef broth
  • 1 cup of water
  • 2 cups peeled pearl onions
  • 1 cup prunes, cut into bite-size pieces
  • 1/4 cup chopped fresh parsley
  • 2 tbs. lemon juice
  • baking parchment

  1. Position a rack in the bottom third of the oven and heat the oven to 325°F.
  2. Spread the lamb on paper towels to dry for 10 minutes before browning.
  3. In a 6-quart oven safe pot, heat the oil over medium to medium-high heat. 
  4. Season the lamb with salt and pepper. Brown the meat well and then transfer it to a large bowl.
  5. Once all of the lamb is browned, remove the pot from the heat to let it cool for a few minutes.
  6. Add 3 Tbs. of the fat to the pot. (If there is not enough, add extra virgin olive oil to equal 3 Tbs.) 
  7. Return the pot to medium heat, then add the yellow onion, and coarsely chopped carrot. Season with a pinch of salt and pepper, and cook, stirring often and scraping the bottom of the pot with a wooden spatula, until the vegetables begin to soften, 5 to 6 minutes. 
  8. Stir in the ginger, cumin, turmeric, cinnamon, and celery seed, and cook, stirring occasionally, for 1 to 2 minutes.
  9. Add the wine, stirring with the wooden spatula to dissolve any browned bits on the bottom of the pot. Raise the heat to medium high and boil to reduce by about half, 5 to 8 minutes. Add the beef broth and 1 cup of water. Bring to a boil.
  10. Return the lamb to the pot along with any juice. Lower the heat to maintain a simmer.
  11. Crumple a 12x16-inch piece of parchment, then flatten it out. Place the parchment directly on the surface of the stew, allowing the ends to come up the sides of the pot. Cover and put in the oven.
  12. After 1 hour of stewing, add the pearl onions, carrot pieces, and prunes to the pot. Cover with the parchment and lid, and cook until the lamb is fork-tender, about 1 and a half hours.
  13. Stir in the parsley and lemon juice. Degrease the stew by laying a clean paper towel over the surface of the stew and gently pushing it into all the bumps and dips, then quickly peeling it off. Repeat as necessary with more paper towels. Season to taste with salt and pepper and serve.

Let us know what you think of the recipe? Good? Bad? Real or not real? Are there other types of geeky recipes you'd like to see us Paleo-ify? Let us know in the comments!

Friday, December 13, 2013

Friday Faves

Hey Slayers, Simone here. Happy Friday the 13th!

I don't know about you, but as much as I love snow, I'm still eagerly waiting for the equinox so our daylight can start lasting a little longer again. In the meantime, I thought I'd share a few things that have been brightening my dark winter days lately!

1. Loki makes everything better.

You know that Daft Punk song? So does Tom Hiddleston:

I think I like his version better. (Full .gif here. You're welcome.)

2. Community.

I finally started watching this show about a study group at community college, and I am enjoying it thoroughly -- especially the fantastic friendship dynamics between Troy & Abed. If you haven't watched the show before, I highly recommend it! It's on Hulu, and I'm sure you can find it elsewhere. I'm only on season 2 so far, but there is tons of nerd humor and plenty of heartwarming tales of friendship -- plus the best Zombie Halloween party you've seen and a rather epic school-wide paintball fight to the death. I want to be best friends with them, for obvious reasons:


3. An Unlikely Friendship.

As you likely saw on the internet last week, Norwegian photographer Torgier Berge was walking with his dog Tinni when they came upon a red fox. Turns out that the German Shepherd and red fox rather enjoyed each others' company!

4. The recent Nerd Fitness post on body image.

I'm sure many of you are NF readers already (that's how I found Anne here at Project Reroll!), but I have to say that this post came at a great time. I've been in hibernation mode lately, not wanting to work out, not wanting to eat right, and subsequently not feeling all that great. It's always a great reminder that appearance is a consequence of fitness and of health. We spend so long worrying about who we see in the mirror instead of who we are and what we do in our lives.

As they say in the article, "Are you healthy? Does your body allow you to do the things you want to do in life? If you answered yes to both of these questions, then your body is ideal."

5. These awesome shirts from Activate Apparel.

Need I say more?

In the meantime . . .

Though I may not be back in the full swing of workout schedules, cooking healthy meals, and navigating the holiday season stress-free, I have been attempting to keep a brief, bullet-point list of healthy choices I make throughout the week. If I make an effort to think positively, I write that down. If I take the stairs, I write it down. If I say no to the holiday pie that my coworker brought in . . . you get the picture. It's my own mini version of a gratitude journal. I'm hoping it will help me keep momentum going even while things are hectic!

And finally, I wanted to share one last exciting bit of news in the midst of my anxiety, stress, and equinox countdown:

I got my first rope ascent!

You guys, I have never climbed a rope in my entire life. Even in elementary school, on the knotted rope, I just swung gently at the bottom and wondered why I was the only one in class apparently not evolved from monkeys. (Maybe I had sloth ancestry? Get on that, geneticists.) 

Well, last week Friday, I went to my first crossfit workout at an actual gym, and part of the workout included rope ascents. With some coaching on the proper way to use your feet . . . I GOT ONE! I may not be graceful as I fumble around with my feet. I am far from fast as I haul myself up. I can probably only give it one or two attempts before I run out of stamina, and I'm certainly not ready to try a hands-only climb. 



Action shot! That's me in the teal -- OFF THE GROUND, YOU GUYS!
Amy Clover from Strong Inside Out shared this quote on Pinterest recently, and I thought it was rather fitting:

We all have our ups and downs, but darker winters and stressful holidays can compound the normal issues we deal with on a day-to-day basis. Remember not to go it alone: whether you're starting to change your eating habits, trying a new way to stay active, quitting smoking, learning something new -- have a support group, whether in person or here in online communities. Help each other. We're all at different places on our "rope ascent." It's so important to have supporters as you work to accomplish new things -- and at the very least, it will make your climb more fun. :)

What goals are you working towards today?

What are some of your "favorites" that are brightening your winter days?


Friday, December 6, 2013

Winter Workouts: Staying Fit During the Holidays

Don't hibernate: stay active this holiday season!


Hey Slayers, Simone here! I know winter, for those of us in colder climes, can be a downer sometimes -- you have to bundle up, watch for ice, scrape snow off of your car, and say goodbye to the sun. It's also the time when many of us are tempted by holiday cookies, seasonal alcohol (Southern Tier's Krampus, anyone?), and a strong desire to hibernate until the sun comes back.

I'll stay in here, thanks! [source]
Don't let go of all of your progress this December! Get a leg up on the New Year's resolution crowd and take advantage of the fitness opportunities winter has to offer.

1. Shoveling

You don't have much choice on this one, and I know no one looks forward to it, but it is a great workout. A snowblower may be faster, but if you're not in a hurry, shoveling can really get your heart rate up. If you're feeling generous or don't have a driveway of your own to shovel, you could also help out a neighbor or a friend!

I'd say he could use your help, but it looks like he's got it under control. [source]

2. Snowshoeing

If you've been walking to Mordor with Anne and Nerd Fitness, why not change up the scenery a little and go for a snowy hike? Places like REI offer free introductory classes as well as gear rentals if you're looking to try it out for the first time. 

"One does not simply snowshoe into Mordor" just doesn't have the same ring to it. [source]

3. Cross-country Skiing

Fly across the snow and get a great workout while you're at it! If snowshoeing isn't your thing, rent some skis and hit the trails that way! 


4. Snowboarding

Winter surfing! Sure, gravity helps get you to the bottom, but there is a lot of coordination involved here. You'll be feeling your core the next day! (And, for those of us less-coordinated folks, we might be feeling sore from our repeated falls, too. We all start somewhere, right?)


5. Winter Fun

Not interested in snowshoeing? No access to snowboarding locations? No worries! You can stay active just by playing outside. Going sledding? Those hikes up the sled hill will get your legs working! What about making a snowman, building a fort, or having a snowball fight

This takes snow forts to a whole new level. [source]

Finally, if you're lacking both motivation and snow, now is a great time to investigate a new class or activity. Use the regularly scheduled time and a workout buddy to keep you accountable. Skip the cold and try a yoga class, martial arts, crossfit, zumba, spin, fencing, swing dancing, etc!

What are your favorite ways to stay active and avoid hibernating during the winter?


Is it spring yet? [source]

Thursday, December 5, 2013

Project Reroll's Holiday Wishlist

It's that time of year folks! Here are 10 Holiday Gift Ideas for Slayers!

  1. Meat Thermometer: Even if you're not eating Paleo, protein is power. Delicious protein that's cooked properly will only make you want to make and eat more. It's the gift that keeps on giving.
  2. Food Processor: You can get your feet wet with more complicated recipes that keep things interesting. You can also use this to make Paleo treats to get you through the hard times without breaking your diet rhythm.
  3. Sewing Machine: When it comes to cosplay, this is an eventual must buy for everyone! This is certainly on my list after doing hand sewing on four different costumes. Time is of the essence when it comes to your hobbies and I definitely don't want to craft at the expense of crunches! Here is a great pinterest page of sewing machines that my friend Angela from The Anomaly Podcast put together to help me choose my first one!
  4. Fitbit or other Distance/Pedometer/Calorie Monitor: Monitoring everything is a real key to learning what your specific body and lifestyle needs for success. Everyone is different and if you don't start tracking your calories in/calories out and general activity level, you may not know how to make the changes you need!
  5. A great set of non-stick pans: If you're going to make cooking a major staple of your life, you'll want to make sure you set yourself up for success! It's definitely an investment, but you'll be loving yourself when you have all the equipment you need to make a variety of dishes in the kitchen with minimum effort for cleanup. 
  6. Netflix Subscription: All geeks love binge watching their favorite show. The best part about netflix is that it will keep track of where you are in each series and you can load it on to mobile devices and take them to the gym with you. I have whole series that I've only watched on the elliptical machine and treadmills. It's a great motivator when you make a contract with yourself that you'll only watch reruns at the gym!
  7. Gym Membership: This is one of those things that we all complain that we can't afford. Using up my bday present to ask for a gym membership last year was the best thing I ever did. Now I do most of my working out on my own, but having a place to go and resources to pull from is incredible in the beginning. Plus, most gyms will offer classes so you can easily mix it up or try something new!
  8. Etsy: Supporting fellow crafty slayers is awesome. You'll find unique gifts that help people show their fandoms in ways that can't be mass produced. You'll find outerwear, ornamets, jewelry, and all sorts of nick nacks. Seriously. It's your friend. 
  9. Nerd Fitness Books: These guides are incredible and written for people like you and me. There are a lot of tips for working out outside of the gym and of course advice on diet and getting your feat wet in running, lifting, and much more. I really couldn't recommend supporting Nerd Fitness more! 
  10. Geeky Gym Attire: Wearing my geeky Teefury t's and my Mockingjay pin to the gym gives me the extra push I need to work out like the badass I want to be rather than the lazy wimp I sometimes feel like. I love to keep my connection between my fandoms and my fitness going throughout my day to day life because it reinforces the idea that these things are no longer separate. Plus, imagining you're a tribute and your life is going to be on the line is a huge motivator! You can always check out the Project Reroll store for t-shirts, waterbottles, and more! #shamelessplug
So Happy Holidays, Slayers! Thanks for reading and for all you've done to support me and my guest bloggers this year! If you have any things you think people should have on their wishlists, then add them in the comments! What are you asking Chthulu- I mean Santa- for this year?

Monday, December 2, 2013

Onion Stuffed Toad Steak

The new name of the game is how do I make meat interesting? I always need my protein, but at the end of the day, chicken and steak can get boring. Plus, in celebration of classic video game love, I've recently discovered a recipe that's not only filling, but equal parts adorable and delicious. 

Onion Stuffed Toad Steak

  • Portabello
  • 1 small Onion
  • Garlic
  • Steaks
  • Onion Powder
  • Garlic Powder
  • Salt
  • Pepper
  • 2 tsp Balsamic vinegar
  • Extra Virgin Olive Oil
  1. Prep your onion by chopping it up.
  2. Mince a 2 cloves of garlic. 
  3. Heat a pan on medium heat and drizzle some extra virgin olive oil in the pan.
  4. Add your garlic.
  5. After 20-30 seconds, place your Portabello cap top down in the pan. Add your chopped onion into the natural bowl created by the cap. Drizzle 2 tsp Balsamic Vinegar over the onions. 
  6. Cook on each side for about 3-5 minutes until the mushroom is soft and the onions look sautéed and transluscent. Note: When you flip the portabello, the onions will probably spill out. Just do your best to tuck them under the cap and frankly, you can stuff them back inside when its time to serve them anyways. 
  7. Sprinkle both sides of your steak with onion and garlic powder. Add salt and pepper to taste and then massage your seasonings into the steak.
  8. Heat another pan on medium heat and add extra virgin olive oil. 
  9. Fry up your steak evenly on each side until the internal temperature is right. I prefer between 130-140 degrees for medium rare. 
  10. Plate your steak and put your toad portabello on top! You can even drizzle a little more balsamic over the top if you want to get really fancy! I usually serve it with some sort of green vegetable. So get cooking and make your own!