One Week of Home Cooked Meals

By the time I get home from my commute all I want to do is eat. Time and time again I’ve driven to a fast food drive-thru or heated up a frozen burrito. It gets old after awhile and my waist line doesn’t appreciate it. I decided to cook a home cooked meal for one work week straight by only using what I had in the pantry. My goal was to try new meals and save some cash money.

For this experiment I decided to pull out one of my cookbooks and plan out a week work of meals that matched what I had in the pantry. For some dinners I just winged it and hoped for the best.

I will mark the recipes that were used from another source and link them to the cook’s site and not list it here so they get credit. 🙂

Sunday – Moroccan Meatloaf

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Moroccan Meatloaf with garlic potatoes.

 

I started the week off with a hit. Dillon said, “This is the best meat loaf I’ve ever had.” I enjoyed this meal too. The slight hint of ginger and cinnamon was my favorite part. Dillon gave this meal a five out of five stars. This recipe was found in Melissa D’Arabian’s cookbook “Ten Dollar Dinners” and you can find her recipe here.

Monday – Chicken a l’Orange

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Chicken a l’Orange

Once again I turned to D’Arabian’s cookbook to try my hand at some French cuisine. Her recipe called for orange concentrate and all I had was orange juice. I decided to wing it and although the glaze was thinner than it was suppose to be it wasn’t too bad. I also used skinless chicken breasts instead of the suggested skin-on, bone-in breast. Dillon gave this meal a 3 1/2 out of five stars. Check out the recipe here.

Tuesday – Quinoa Tabouleh

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I’m a huge fan of quinoa. I have a recipe for an enchilada quinoa casserole that is to die for. (I’ll share it some time soon). Tuesday I decided to research the best way to make Tabouleh since I had never made it before. I didn’t have a lot of the ingredients for D’Arabian’s Tabouleh so I improvised and made my own. I had to used canned diced tomatoes instead of fresh and I was out of olive oil. I basically had quinoa, parsley, diced tomatoes and lemon. The end result was just O.K. Dillon gave this meal a two out of five stars. Can’t win them all.

Wednesday – Spaghetti with Meat Sauce

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I couldn’t go a whole week without cooking my all-time favorite meal! It’s simple, easy and oh so yummy. I boiled water and cooked the spaghetti noodles for 10 minutes. While that was cooking I browned ground beef with onion and garlic. I cheated a little and used a jar of marinara sauce. (I was in a hurry that night) I topped it off with some cheese and fresh parsley. Nothing fancy but still a four out of five from Dillon.

Thursday – Korean Chicken and Rice

An easy dish I turn to on a busy day is a Korean Beef Bowl with rice. We both love it and it takes 15 minutes to make. I started to wonder what it would taste like if I swapped out the ground beef for chicken.

1/2 a pound of boneless chicken breast, cut into thin chunks
1 tablespoon of vegetable oil
2 cloves minced garlic
1/4 cup brown sugar, packed
1/4 teaspoon ground ginger
1/2 teaspoon crushed red-pepper flakes, or more to taste
1/4 cup soy sauce
2 teaspoons sesame oil

  1. Heat vegetable oil in a large skillet over medium high heat. Add diced chicken and cook until golden brown. Add garlic and cook, stirring constantly, for about 1 minute.
  2. Whisk together soy sauce, brown sugar, ginger, red pepper flakes and sesame oil in a bowl.
  3. Pour the sauce mixture over the chicken in the skillet. Allow it to simmer until heated through.
  4. Serve over steamed rice.

I was so hungry this night that I forgot to take a picture. It was a glorious meal though.

Friday – Mexican Casserole

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Dillon asked me to make some type of Mexican casserole. So I opened up the pantry and went for it. I crossed my fingers and prayed it would be edible.

  • 2 cups crushed tortilla chips
  • 1 pound of ground beef
  • 1 can  corn kernels, drained
  • 1 can of black beans, drained and rinsed
  • 1 can of enchilada sauce
  • 1 tablespoon minced garlic
  • 1 cup salsa
  • Half of a chopped red onion
  • 1 green bell pepper, diced
  • 6 ounces shredded Monterey Jack cheese

 

  1. Preheat oven to 375°F. Sprinkle crushed tortilla chips into a glass 9×13 baking dish.
  2. Brown the ground beef in a skillet over medium-high heat.
  3. Mix the black beans, corn, enchilada sauce, garlic, bell pepper, onion, salsa and cooked beef in a bowl.
  4. Spoon half of the mixture over the crushed chips and then sprinkle with cheese. Take the other half of the mixture and place it over the cheese and then top with the remaining cheese.
  5. Bake for 25 minutes and let stand for approximately 5 minutes.

 

I had a lot of fun cooking every night and hope to keep it up in the future. Tonight I’m throwing in the apron and dining out.

-Kayla

Happening Now: Volume One

Forty-eight hours. That’s the amount of time I spend with Dillon each week. I could complain and whine about it all the time but what is the point? This is how our relationship has been since the beginning. It is our normal.

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Photo credit: Kyndle Katzer

I work from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. and he works 3:30 p.m. to 1:30 a.m. On top of that his company sent him back to college last summer which absorbed some of our “us” time. He will start his third semester on Tuesday. I’m very excited about this because his work shift will move to days and he will be at school until 9 p.m. It’s going to be a long day for him but this means I will get to see him every night before I go to bed. Hurray!

His busy schedule will all be worth it in the end once he has his degree because we will be on the same schedule. Double hurray!

I get asked a lot “Aren’t you lonely?”

Honestly, yes sometimes it does get lonely being by myself a majority of the time but I don’t sit around crying into a bowl of ice cream about it.

Our relationship has taught me to value time. Every dinner we eat, every walk we go on, every trip to the store, every Netflix show we watch, every road trip we take, I value. I truly believe it has brought us closer together.

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Another thing that has brought us closer is praying for each other. I recently purchased “31 Prayers for my Future Husband” and “31 Prayers for my Future Wife.” Praying for your significant other, in all aspects of their life, strengthens the relationship so much. By putting God in the center of your relationship you both will prosper. Even if you aren’t dating or engaged right now, I strongly recommend these books. They are eye openers. Just remember these books are to be used as aids. Nothing can replace opening up your Bible with your partner!

To me, it’s not about how much time we spend together but how we use that time to serve the Lord.

-Kayla

 

Countdown Mode

Whenever a big life event is coming up I go into countdown mode. I start counting how many days are left until the event. I get impatient, stressed, excited and exhausted. My brain is currently in countdown mode for my wedding.

The first three months of 2017 are going to be jam packed with last minute planning, my bridal shower, and bachelorette party.

So many people want to give me advice about wedding planning but the most helpful advice so far is to not stress out. Which is funny if you know me because I’m a natural stressor.

So far I’ve had three weird dreams about being locked outside of my own wedding and two mini panic attacks over having to fly for our honeymoon. Flying scares me.

I’ve been like this for years but I don’t want it to ruin something so special. It’s just a big party celebrating our love. No need for stress.

I’m most likely going to continue being in countdown mode but instead of being stressed I’m going to choose to be excited.

Oh, and in case you were wondering it’s in 68 days. You weren’t wondering? Oh well. Now you know.

 

Three On-The-Go Breakfasts

Mornings are the worst? Am I right? I’m a hit the snooze button four times; run a comb through my hair; this cosmic brownie will have to do for breakfast type of person. I know that breakfast is the most important meal of the day but I have struggled with eating breakfast for years now. I always choose sleep over breakfast. Always.

Eating breakfast helps boost your metabolism for the day and keeps your energy levels going for the rest of the morning. Lately, my metabolism has slowed down. Maybe it’s the cosmic brownies for breakfast, lack of exercise or dare I say it, age. Either way I decided to make a change to my morning routine and these are the results.

Preppy prep

I don’t know how many articles I’ve read about food prep but they all list the benefits of meal prepping. I thought the idea was overwhelming at first. I told myself that I would wake up early and cook breakfast that day but you guessed it, it never happened. If you devote at least an hour out of your Sunday to prep for the week you will be way more successful at breakfast choices throughout the week. *I suggest you plan the hour around your favorite football game. Wouldn’t want to miss that. *

 

So what did I make?

Eggs

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I hard boiled eggs for a good source of protein and kept them in a container in the fridge. Some days I eat them with avocado or slice them and put them on a whole wheat bagel.

Overnight Oats

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This overnight oatmeal has bananas, cinnamon and peanut butter.

 

I love oatmeal! It always fills me up and it’s cheap. I use to eat the individual packaged instant oatmeal but it has a ridiculous amount of sugar in such a small portion. So I started making overnight oats. Pour 1/2 cup of oats in a jar, add one cup of milk (I used almond) and then top with fruit, nuts or coconut. Close the lid and leave it in the fridge overnight. The results are a nice tasty breakfast in the morning.

Smoothie Packs

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There are so many different options when it comes to smoothies. One of my favorites right now is a blueberry and banana smoothie. I just place the ingredients in a plastic baggie and toss in the freezer until I’m ready to use it. If you plan on using bananas I suggest slicing it before it’s frozen to help it blend better. I prefer to buy frozen fruit and separate it into the baggies. For a liquid I use milk but you can also use water. Adding Greek yogurt makes it creamy.

My other go-tos that don’t involve prepping is Greek yogurt, a protein bar or protein shake. I currently love Premier Protein.

-Kayla

What Really Matters This Christmas

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The hustle and bustle of the holidays is upon us. Christmas is just around the corner and the stress of having the perfect holiday has blown in with the cold front.

This year our family has grown significantly. Sara got married earlier this year, had a baby, (the cutest baby on the planet) and Dillon and I got engaged. With these amazing life changes our families have branched out and new Christmas traditions have been introduced to the both of us.

I knocked out all of my Christmas shopping a few weeks ago and presents are nicely wrapped under the tree. Although I’m ahead of the game in the gifting department I’m still feeling the stress of having the perfect Christmas with both sides of the family.

I’m stressing about if everyone will like their gifts. I’m stressing about making the tastiest party food. I’m stressing about finding my camera battery so I can have the best family photos. I’m stressing about making sure we get to each Christmas party on time.

I realized last night I was being a bratty Christmas elf and as usual I was stressing about nothing. What really matters this Christmas is gathering with family to celebrate the birth of our Lord and Savior.

It doesn’t matter if we are running a little late in our travels. The gifts don’t matter. What day we gather with our family doesn’t matter. Watching our favorite Christmas movie (Polar Express) doesn’t matter. It doesn’t matter if mom doesn’t make her Magic Bars. (gasp)

Sure all these things are great but we are all lucky to find time to spend together. We are healthy, live in a free country and have people who love us. God has truly blessed us.

So remember to not sweat the small things this holiday season. Live in the moment, hug your loved ones and count your blessings.

“And she shall bring forth a son, and thou shalt call his name JESUS: for he shall save his people from their sins.” Matthew 1:21

God Bless and Merry Christmas,

Kayla

 

Ornament Wreath

I stayed up late the other night after work to put up our Christmas tree. I had a bunch of ornaments left over because there are too many to put on our small tree. I started brainstorming what I could do with the left overs. I then decided to mimic some ornament wreaths we are selling at work (for $50 each).

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I free handed it instead of using a wreath structure. You could use metal or foam. Heck you could even tape two ends of a swimming pool noodle and make a big one if you wanted.

All you need for this project is

  • ornaments (a couple different sizes)
  • glue gun
  • glue sticks
  • wreath shape

you can also add in

  • greenery
  • ribbon
  • string lighting

You want to start on the outside of the wreath first, then the inner circle. After that it’s just a matter of adding a new layer and filling in the gaps.

pro tip- I made sure to mix the glittery/shiny bulbs with some of the duller ones to have a good visual diversity.

Also be sure of each placement because after they are glued together it can be a little hard to separate them. Not impossible, just difficult.

 

Day Trip to Lawrence

For my 26th birthday Dillon bought me Kansas Men’s Basketball tickets. I guess he picked up on all the hints I was dropping. We attended the University of Kansas v Stanford game and I think it’s safe to say we both had a blast.

It was awesome to be back at my alma mater. I can’t believe it’s almost been four years since I graduated from KU. I had a nostalgic moment while riding the KU bus to be shuttled to the game. Awe, sweet memories of riding the bus while being smashed against a complete stranger.

Allen Fieldhouse has a great, electric atmosphere. I’m glad I got to share all the traditions with Dillon. Waving the Wheat, singing Crimson and Blue and doing the Jayhawk Chant. *chills* The 3 hour drive was worth it. Plus I can’t leave out the five 3-pointers Devonte Graham had in the first half. Wowzers. It was an awesome Jayhawk win, 89-74.

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court

Half time.

food

Delish dinner after the game.