Crockpot Chronicles: The Simple Beef

Here's another great Crockpot recipe for those of you looking for something simpler in assembly and taste. This is a great dish to prepare at the beginning of the week, for the entire week (food prep hint hint) or for a dinner with friends!

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Ingredients:

  • 1 3lb chuck roast, cut into chunks.
  • 1 cup beef stock
  • 1 cup pear juice or pear nectar
  • 1/4 cup soy sauce
  • 1 bunch spring onion, roughly chopped.
  • 1 tbsp sriracha
  • 1 tbsp sesame oil
  • Salt and Black pepper to taste.
  1. Place onions and beef in slow cooker. Add pear juice and soy sauce, then add beef stock, stopping when the meat is almost covered, but not quite.
  2. Cool on low for 6-8 hours, or until fork tender. Enjoy!

Crockpot Chronicles: Crock Au Vin

We have continued forward with our Crockpot Chronicles this month, as it is still blistering cold and let's get real ... Crockpots are one of the greatest inventions on this earth.

So we ask this age-old question: Do have the time for coq au vin? No? Try this one out!

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Ingredients:

  • 1 medium onion, chopped
  • 2 stalks celery, chopped
  • 1 large carrot, chopped
  • 3 sprigs thyme
  • 3 cloves garlic, smashed
  • 1 3-4 lb chicken, cut into segments, or 4 thigh leg quarters.
  • 1 bottle full bodied red wine, preferably burgundy.
  1. In a sauté pan, cook onions, carrots, and celery until soft, 2-3 minutes.
  2. Scrape into slow cooker, add all other ingredients, filling up the crock with wine until the meat is almost covered, but not to the brim.
  3. Add salt and pepper to taste, and cook on low for 8 hours.
  4. Serve with fresh peas or sautéed spinach!

Searing, the WOW Factor

Okay, so lots of people ask me two questions, in this order:

"Hey Will, what can I make for my significant other that will really wow them?"

Followed by,

"Hey Will, what can I make for my significant other that will really wow them, and doesn't require much technique or preparation on my part?"

The answer, friends, is a good sear.

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A seared piece of meat (or some veggies, believe it) is a thing of beauty, and it's simplicity is both rustic and snazzy. However, a lot people have a bit of trouble achieving a crusty delicious outside with a perfectly cooked inside. So, here are a few pointers:

  1. If what you're cooking is thicker than 1", keep it cold until you're ready to cook. If it isn't, let it come up to almost room temp (this is perfectly safe, just don't leave it out all day).
  2. Pat your meat dry before it goes in the pan. Water and steam are the enemy of a good sear. Use a paper towel and get all that surface moisture off!
  3. A little smoke is unavoidable. To keep things from getting too smoky, let your pan heat up dry, and rub your oil or other fat on what you're cooking. Most smoke comes from excess oil breaking down, not to mention most spattering.
  4. If you have a thicker piece of meat/veg, once you have a crust, stick the meat and pan into a preheated 250 degree oven for 4-5 minutes. Don't be afraid to test with a thermometer to make sure it's done to the temp you want!
  5. Last but not least, rest the steak. Let it sit on a plate at room temp for 5-15 minutes, depending on size. Then enjoy!

Valentine's Day Dessert: Couer a la Creme

Want something that's rich, sweet, AND higher protein? Definitely a better option than a box of chocolates. Just remember, this sits overnight, so start this the day before your romantic evening!

Couer a la Creme

  • 1 (8-ounce) package cream cheese, room temperature
  • 1 cup greek yogurt
  • 6 tablespoons powdered sugar, divided
  • 1 teaspoon fresh lemon juice
  • 1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • Pinch of salt
  • 1 pound small strawberries or other berries, hulled, quartered (about 1 2/3 cups)
  • Cheesecloth
  1. Using an electric mixer, beat cream cheese, greek yogurt, 4 tablespoons powdered sugar, lemon juice, vanilla, and salt in large bowl until smooth, about 4 minutes. You want the texture similar to thick whipped cream.
  2. Line a 7-inch sieve with cheesecloth or paper towels so the ends drape over the sides and suspend it over a bowl, making sure that there is space between the bottom of the sieve and the bottom of the bowl for the liquid to drain. Pour the cream mixture into the cheesecloth, fold the ends over the top, and refrigerate overnight.
  3. Stir the berries with 2 tablespoons powdered sugar; let stand 30 minutes.
  4. To serve, discard the liquid at the bottom of the bowl. Unmold the cream onto a plate, drizzle the berries around the cream, and serve.

HOW TO: Pick the Best Plan for YOU

So you’ve made the decision to start incorporating exercise and nutrition into your life ... or to bring it back in to your life. But how? Nowadays, there are a million and one methods, programs, philosophies, you name it, available. Not only is it a very personal choice deciding what works for you, your life, and your goals ... but it's overwhelming.

Do I do Body Pump or Cross Fit?

Do I lift weights exclusively or mix in cardio?

Do I eat vegan or try paleo?

And, even with decisions like these to make, it seems like everyone and their mother has an opinion as to what you should be doing. Sometimes these opinions are warranted, sometimes they aren't. Either way, it's challenging trying to find the right wellness path for you.

Here we have a brief guide to help you make the right choices:

Choosing the right workout or nutrition strategy can be exhausting.
Choosing the right workout or nutrition strategy can be exhausting.

STEP 1: Ask yourself ... Will it help you achieve your goals? Exercise and nutrition can do many things to help improve your quality of life, but make sure what it promises to improve is what is important to you. If you’re interested in dropping two sizes, a plan that improves your endurance may not be right for you. Often there is some overlap, and you can get stronger while losing weight for example, but make talk to other people already on the program and see if they’re seeing the results you desire. If you’ve been on a plan for a while, and, despite following it faithfully, you’re not seeing anything, perhaps it’s time for a new plan.

STEP 2Ask yourself ... Will it fit your life? For any plan or methodology to work, it likely needs to be followed fairly consistently. Make sure that what it asks of you is something you’re willing and able to do. If it requires going to the gym four days per week, but you know family commitments will seldom allow for that, try something else. If the plan forbids any carbs but you love lasagna more than Garfield, consider seeing what else is out there.

Garfield may not want to choose a low carb nutrition plan.
Garfield may not want to choose a low carb nutrition plan.

STEP 3Ask yourself ... Will it keep you safe? Exercise should not inherently cause you injury. You might feel sore after a workout, but a workout that damages your joints or other tissues, or makes preexisting injuries feel worse is unacceptable. Likewise, a good nutrition program should not leave you feeling dizzy, or so hungry that you can’t see straight. Make sure your program accounts for any injuries you currently are working with, and doesn’t do anything to leave you feeling worse instead of better.

STEP 4:Ask yourself ... Will you enjoy it? Make sure that the plan doesn’t sound like something you will absolutely loath. Stepping out of your comfort zone or trying new things is important, but if your plan asks you to regularly do things that you just don’t feel comfortable doing, find something else! A good plan should be approached as a lifestyle change, with no set end day, so if the idea of doing any aspect of it regularly and indefinitely sounds like something you won’t really enjoy, look for a plan that incorporates things that you find interesting, exciting, or fun!

Choose a workout method that is fun for you!
Choose a workout method that is fun for you!

Use these questions to help you select a plan and give your wellness goals the chance it deserves. All plans will need some time to truly take effect. Try giving it three months before reevaluating. Ask yourself the same four questions again to self audit. If the answer ever becomes “no” to even one of the questions, talk to your coach about adjustments that can be made, or consider trying something else. Exercise and nutrition can require extra time and energy that few of us have in surplus each day, but if it fulfills the above requirements, the benefits can be well worth it!!