Back Squats & Bell Peppers

Oh, friends. It’s been far too long since I did back squats of the barbell kind (as opposed to the emotional kind). When I’m following my preferred routine, Monday is some-kind-of-squat day, and Friday is deadlift day. This is how I like it. Sorta.

So yesterday, I ignored the little voice telling me to lie in bed and finish my book, and I took myself to the gym to say hello to the barbell and back squats.

My workout:
2:00 on the elliptical to get blood moving
10 air squats + 10 globe squats w/ 20# DB

10 back squats w/ 45# bar
5 @ 95
5X5: 105-115-125-125-125

3 rounds:
10 kb swings, 16kg
10 pushups
20 walking lunge

2X10 situps on the steep decline bench (these burned!)

The last time I did a 1RM back squat, it was 155, so I’m hoping to crush that at June’s CrossFit Total benchmark. All possible if I don’t freak out at the bottom… which I could, but I will do my best to avoid.

OK. Enough about the barbells. Let’s talk food. Specifically, bell peppers.

My parents took a 3-week trip to Italy this month. They stayed in an apartment and really lived there: shopped in the market and cooked at home, took day trips for unforgettable meals and vistas, crashed a country wedding, and drank wine.

They also inspired me to make some Italian food of my own. I give you: Italian Sausage & Peppers. Easy to make. Totally dino-chow. Satisfying and tasty enough to share with friends. Throw in different colored peppers to make it look pretty…


Sausage & Peppers
(adapted from Simply Recipes)

4 Italian sausage links (I like Buddy’s.)
1-2 tablespoons olive oil
3-4 bell peppers, sliced into 2 to 3 inch long strips
4 garlic cloves, crushed
1 large sweet or yellow onion, sliced into 1/4-inch half-moons
1 small (14.5 oz) can of crushed tomatoes (I like Muir Glen fired roasted.)
2 teaspoons dried oregano
1/2 cup red wine (replace with broth if you’re in a no-cheat paleo phase)
1/2 teaspoons red pepper flakes (optional)
salt & pepper to taste

1. Heat the olive oil over medium heat in a large pan that has a lid. When the oil is hot, add the sausages and brown slowly on all sides. This is somewhat tedious, but worth it. When you’re happy with they way they look, remove from the pan and place in a bowl to catch the juices.

2. Increase the heat to high (yay! High heat!) and add the onions and peppers. Toss to coat with the leftover oil i the pan, and saute until they get little black spots. When they’ve softed a bit, sprinkle with salt and pepper, then add the garlic and stir-fry quickly to prevent scorching – about 45 seconds or so. When you can smell the garlic, you’re ready for step 3.

3. Add the wine/broth to the pan (swoosh!) and scrape the bottom of the pan with a wooden spoon to bet the yummy brown bits. Let the liquid cook down by half.

4. Add the tomatoes, oregano and red pepper flakes, and stir well to combine. Lovingly place the sausages back in the pan and nestle them down into the vegetable bed. Bring to a bubble then reduce the heat to low. Cover and simmer until the peppers are soft and the sausages are cooked through, about 20 minutes.

If you want to get fancy and serve this atop something delicious, you can almost replicate the texture of polenta with cauliflower pilaf; get the recipe here and replace the cinnamon and cumin with oregano and basil, or an Italian herb blend. (molto buona!)

I also ate this by itself in a bowl (delizioso!) and over a bed of sautéed greens (gustoso!)

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11 Responses to “Back Squats & Bell Peppers”

  1. michele says:

    holy crap, those back squats PLUS a metcon?!?! woman, you are a machine. we did max back squats yesterday and afterwards were told, "that's it. no cash out. you've done enough."

    today: Fran, first time. fun!!

  2. Melissa 'Melicious' Joulwan says:

    Hey, Michele! I felt liked I needed to get sweaty… and maybe show the two dudes at the gym using 16kg KBs that I can use that weight, too ;-)

    Naughty ego at work.

  3. ColoradoSteve says:

    You only need to add celery to the pepper/onion combo and you are starting with the 'Holy Trinity': the base of all New Orlean style cooking. Always a good combination.

    And – there is no such thing as too much garlic!!

    Looks delicious! I love pork.

  4. Melissa 'Melicious' Joulwan says:

    ColoradoSteve! You're right… if you add celery and swap out the oregano for thyme and a dash of cayenne, it would totally go cajun. Fun!

  5. Jesse Richards says:

    Sweet recipe Mel! Also, nice BS numbers!

  6. George says:

    I made this tonight – just awesome! Thanks for another winner Mel.

  7. Melissa 'Melicious' Joulwan says:

    Hey, George! Glad you liked it! Thanks for posting. Happy summer!

  8. Amanda says:

    Melissa I love your blog and just started paleo through Crossfit's strength and beauty program (I'm on day 3 and the lack of sugar headache has finally gone away!). Do you have all your no cheat paleo recipes in one location or do you note it in each recipe like this post?

  9. Melissa 'Melicious' Joulwan says:

    Hey, Amanda! Welcome! And congratulations on Day 3 of clean eating.

    All my recipes are collected here:

    There's a big button in the right hand column, too, so you can get there easily from any blog post on my site. Happy eating!

  10. cavewomancafe says:

    Oh, this is a simple tasty meal for sure! I used to make something like this with lentils but stopped for obvious reasons. I will have to put this on the list of "must makes."

  11. Jasmine says:

    Made this last night for the fam, and so far this recipe has received THE best reviews since we’ve changed our way of eating! Thank you so much for this recipe, I will for sure be making this again, and soon!!

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