Breakfast Nacho Casserole

 

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I have to credit this one to my fiancé! He comes up with some fantastic breakfast concoctions. This one is essentially an enchilada egg scramble baked over tortilla chips and topped with sharp cheddar.

Serves 2-3

Prep Time: 20 minutes

Ingredients:

  • 1 Tbs olive oil
  • 1/4 cup diced tomatoes (canned)
  • 1/4 cup chopped onions
  • 1/2 cup black beans (drained & rinsed)
  • Cayenne pepper, cumin, salt, & pepper to taste
  • 3-4 eggs
  • Tortilla chips
  • Shredded cheddar cheese

Directions:

  1. Preheat oven to 350
  2. Sautée tomatoes, black beans, and onions in olive oil over medium heat.
  3. Add spices to mixture.
  4. After about 5 minutes add eggs.
  5. Place a generous layer of tortilla chips in the bottom of a casserole dish.
  6. When the eggs are done, pour the scramble over the chips, shred cheese on top, and place in the oven for about 5 minutes.

So easy, and SO delicious! Sometimes the creativity of a former bachelor can have fantastic results in the kitchen. 🙂

Cheers & Enjoy!

Shelby

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Oh-So-Easy Sweet Potato Fries!

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Sweet potato fries are one of my favorite indulgences, and I have tried SOOO many recipes to get just the right texture and flavor. This is by far the simplest and quickest recipe you’ll find. No more “bake for this long on this temperature and this long on another” or “soak the potatoes for 24 hours” no, no, NO. When a girl wants some fries, she WANTS some fries!

What you need:

  • Frying pan (cast iron preferred)
  • 1-2 Sweet Potatoes (1 is a good amount for 2-3 people)
  • Vegetable Oil
  • Sea Salt

What to do:

  1. Fill your pan with vegetable oil until there is about 1/2 an inch of oil.
  2. Heat on Medium heat for about 10 minutes.
  3. While waiting for the oil to heat, peel and cut potato(s) into fry size. I find it easiest to cut the potato in to quarters, each quarter into 1/4 inch slices, then each slice into strips…. maybe I’ll post pictures of that later. 🙂
  4. Use tongs or a slotted spoon to transfer the future fries into the pan, DO NOT drop them in!! You’ll want to do a couple batches so your fries don’t overlap.
  5. Fry the fries… 🙂 for about 8-10 minutes, stirring occasionally. This very dependent on the pan, stove, and how long the oil has been heating up though. A good way to check is to poke the biggest ones with a fork and see if they’re tender.
  6. Transfer to a plate with wax paper or a paper towel and immediately sprinkle with salt.
  7. Lay another piece of wax paper on top of the finish batch and keep frying until they’re all done!!

Viola! So easy and super tasty! Cheers!

Shelby

 

 

A Millenial’s take on Meal Planning 

I used to think that I didn’t need to worry about meal planning unless I ended up with an army of children somewhere down the road. However, there is a Pinterest craze on meal planning and I just HAD to know what the big deal was.

I like the freedom of making what I feeeel like eating, not having some schedule that tells me what to eat. I like to be creative and spontaneous…. With my food at least! I love lists and calendars, don’t get me wrong: I AM TYPE A. But a food calendar seemed a little overboard.

That’s when I learned.

Do you KNOW how much time/money/stress this can save you???!!

A big thing is that you don’t let food go to waste. You can plan several meals that use some of the same ingredients. You can prep stuff like cut veggies, make soup stock, portion and freeze excess, and make things that you can eat on the go or at work etc.

I also find that a nice benefit of knowing what you are making is that you have the necessary ingredients on hand, so no last minute grocery trips. (Which add up in cost and contribute to waste.) Not to mention that you don’t have to spend forever deciding or discussing what to make.

Meal planning also really helps you cut back on eating out in excess or grabbing fast food. Plan your nights out into it! Eating out when you don’t want to cook or don’t have groceries adds up FAST.

Prepping on the weekends can also save you from buying premade/prepackaged things from the store. Not only are these things more expensive than DIY solutions, they are generally not healthy either.

IN CONCLUSION!

Meal planning doesn’t have to be crazy strict and save you a lot of money. So I will leave you with some tricks that I, a college student cooking for myself and my fiancé, have learned as I have slowly adopted this practice.

  • Plan, shop, and prep in the same day. A weekend or day off maybe.
  • Keep essentials on hand. Depending on what you generally cook, this may look different for everyone. Some of my essentials: garlic, salt, pepper, butter, flour, baking soda, baking powder, sugar, milk, bread, eggs, oatmeal, olive oil, cheese, spinach, and pasta.
  • Plan according to your schedule! If you’re going to eat lunch on campus, plan a sandwich, veggies, and chips to take with you. If you are working late, plan a meal the day before and plan to have leftovers after work.
  • I like to plan standard things that I can get ingredients that are used multiple recipes. For example, my chicken salad, tuna casserole, and meatloaf all have celery and onions in them.
  • If you are really trying to save money, plan simple things and shop smart. Get a membership card, and shop the sales at Kroger (the Kroger app makes coupons super easy to use and helloooo gas points!). Shop at Aldi, just don’t forget your cart quarter and to bring your own bags.
  • Make soup once a week. It’s great for leftovers and is super cheap.
  • Write it down. Put a list on your fridge or write it on your calendar. Heck! Put it in your phone calendar and make an alarm for an hour before you need to start cooking. Whatever helps you stay on track.

I will be posting new, easy to follow recipes and ways to be more thrifty! So check back soon and share your meal planning thoughts, tips, and tales!

-Shelby

Light n’ Healthy Chicken Salad

Chicken salad is easy to make and keeps really well! It’s great to have on hand for a quick sandwich before work or with crackers for a light snack. I personally HATE mayonnaise, so this is my version with Greek yogurt!
Ingredients:

2 chicken breasts pulled/shredded

2 stalks of celery

20 grapes halved or quartered

2 Tablespoons of onion

1/2 cup (at least) of Greek yogurt

1/4 cup of chopped nuts (pecans, almonds, and walnuts are great!)

Salt and pepper to taste

Directions:

Bake the chicken breasts at 350 for 45 minutes. Try rubbing them with olive oil beforehand so they’re nice and tender.

Meanwhile, chop your onions and nuts and slice your celery and grapes.

Once your chicken has cooled enough to handle, pull it apart into small, thin shreds. You can also chop it, but I like the texture that shredding gives the salad.

Place the shredded chicken into a mixing bowl and add half a cup of Greek yogurt. Add your other ingredients and stir to combine. You may want to add a couple more spoonfuls of yogurt, it’s all up to what texture you want. I like mine reaaaaal creamy!

Now add salt and pepper to taste and violá!

Tips:

Need a quicker fix? Pick up a rotisserie chicken from the store!

Serve with croissants! They’re my fav.

Looking for a low carb option? Try serving it on a salad wrap.

Try craisins if you don’t have grapes!

Butternut Squash Soup

I love cooking fresh, fuhlaaaavorful meals. It’s healthy, thrifty, and a great chance to be creative. I made one of my favorite soups today, butternut squash soup, and decided it was too yummy not to share! Besides, tis the season for soup, is it not?! Let me know what you think!
  
 Makes 6-8 servings

Ingredients:

2 large butternut squashes

2 tablespoons of butter

2-3 green apples

1/2 white onion

1.5 cups of half and half

4 cups of chicken stock

20 leaves of fresh sage

Salt and pepper to taste

1 teaspoon of cinnamon

Directions:

Preheat oven to 400 degrees F. 

Cut squashes in half lengthwise and scoop out the seeds. 

Lightly oil a baking sheet (I used coconut oil), place the squash cut side up, and season with salt and pepper. 

Bake for 30-45 minutes, maybe more depending on the size and ripeness. 

Meanwhile, peel, core and chop the apples as well as half an onion. Then melt the butter in a large pot (cast iron crocks are the best for soup!) and sauté the onion and apple together on medium-low heat then cover to soften them up a bit. 

Use a food processor (or a blender will do if you don’t have one) to combine the sage leaves an half and half. 

Add chicken stock and sage/half and half blend to the onion and apple mixture and keep covered over medium heat until squash is ready. 

Once the squash is tender enough to cut easily, use a spoon to scoop it out of the skin and into the pot. 

Bring the soup to a boil on medium-high heat, then let simmer on medium heat for 15-20 minutes.

Be sure to break up any large piece with a spoon then bring down to low heat and blend using an immersion blender.* 

*If you don’t have an immersion blender, transfer 2-3 cups at a time into a traditional stand mixer or into a large bowl to use a hand mixer. 

Serve with a crusty bread, drizzle some heavy cream on top and garnish with some fresh sage! Yummmmm enjoy!!

-Shelby

Social Media Marketing

Social media is a force to be reckoned with. Its influence is undeniable and while many organizations and businesses continue to experiment with ways to leverage that influence for their own purposes, social media marketing is a double-edged sword. A small business owner recently told me that a Facebook friend asked her to block them from her wall posts because they didn’t want to see her business-related posts. While it is understandable that some people would only want to use their social media for personal interactions, it is undeniably an essential tool for small businesses in particular. So how do we find the balance between inspiring people and overwhelming them? Here are some helpful tips for promoting your business on social media:

  1. Know, know, know your audience! While it is good to have a presence on multiple different platforms, be strategic about where you devote the most time. If your primary audience is college students, make Instagram your weapon of choice. If your mission, service, or product is primarily targeted toward women, get pinning! If you want to keep a professional or academic atmosphere, try LinkedIn. Do your research on the demographics of each platform’s user base and compare it to that of your clientele.
  1. Take advantage of each platform’s business account options. This is to your advantage! Using your personal accounts can scare away potential connections; it’s unprofessional and makes people feel like you’re taking advantage of their friendship. Many platforms offer great analytic tools to help you figure out what works and what doesn’t. Oftentimes there are also special features, like post boosting, that help to set your business apart.
  1. Use your time wisely. We all know that social media can swallow our time into a black whole of nothingness. Be strategic about how you use it! A management platform, such as Hootsuite (the love of my life), can save a lot of time just being able to schedule in bulk while you’re in the zone. You should also take the time to set up some parameters for yourself. What are your goals? What are your key message points? Who is your target audience? How often should you post? Have a plan before you even start so you don’t have to decide every time you sit down to post.
  1. Engage your audience. This is probably the most important thing to take away from this article. Your current audience is your most valuable marketing tool, so use them! Well… don’t take advantage of them, but definitely give them opportunities to advocate for you! Word of mouth is still the most credible form of marketing. Incentivize your customers to post their thoughts about your business. Support them when you are posting. Ask questions to encourage interaction on your page. Tag people, mention people, retweet, share, and comment, drop them names! If you are engaged they will engage.

Welcome to The Snuggery

The Snuggery

This summer I moved away from home and into a house with two other girls. A close friend of mine from work, Lauren Kerr, left for Uganda for YWAM’s sustainable agriculture school and would be gone until December. I was transferring to UT and knew I wanted to live closer to school and the downtown area of Knoxville, so why not? What I didn’t expect was this house to become a place I could call home.

At first it was strange; living with people I hardly knew, buying my own groceries, not knowing where things were in my own house. But these strangers became my friends, my things migrated from my room to the rest of the house, and I began to feel a part of something. Our house, affectionately named The Snuggery, transformed from just a roof to a refuge. Whether it be a home cooked meal around the table, conversations on the porch, movies in the living room, or coffee in the nook, this house has become my home and I love to share it with everyone!

I have realized over the past couple of months that the people in your life, not the things you own or your personal achievements, are what make life meaningful.There is something special about a welcoming home; people open up, share life together, and create a community. That community is the most precious thing you can have, because, no matter what challenges you face in life, the support of your community is what makes them surmountable.

Cheers!

Shelby

What’s Special About Getting Coffee?

Chai Latte at Remedy

There is something innately humane about the desire to share life with one another. We share meals with our families, sit in classrooms with our peers, go to conferences and meetings with co-workers, and invite friends to accompany us in even the most mundane experiences in life such as grocery shopping or drinking coffee.  We are social beings that crave each others company, affection, and insight.

The coffee shop phenomena is quite interesting to me. “Getting coffee” is seemingly the all around the ideal social setting nowadays: a safe date, a friendly conversation, a casual meeting, and an ironically comfortable place to study. Why is this? A coffee  shop has an uncanny way of creating a personal and private atmosphere in a public place. Because of this, the atmosphere allows you to set the tone for your social interaction by the seating you choose, what you do and don’t bring, and even what you order! It seems a conundrum that one would want to go to a public place to be alone, however it is quite understandable considering the aforementioned innate desire for social interaction. On the other hand, if I were to invite a friend to “get coffee”, I would have the opportunity to specify the desired topic of conversation, set the tone by choice of seating, and communicate my priority to our conversation by silencing my phone and leaving my laptop at home.

In light of the importance of social interaction, I am  simultaneously fascinated and horrified by the effect technology has had on this particular aspect of our humanity. On the one hand it makes communication both instantaneous and convenient, however it also allows for all lines of communication top be open at all times.

I heard an interesting piece on NPR a while ago, where the question of technology moderation was discussed. Interestingly enough, they were not discussing boundaries needing to be set for children, which is often the case, but for parents. The host interviewed his own daughter who openly complained about her father distracted by his phone all the time. He suggested that technology moderation was necessary for healthy social interaction within the family because, as technology now permeates all areas of our lives, the lines between those areas are being violated. Parents no longer leave work because of email, young couples are never truly apart because of texting, all of our relationships are essentially a click away. How does this affect our relationships in which we are physically present at any given time? Does this mean we are never truly engaged in any of our relationships because we feel the need to be simultaneously engaged in all of them at once? I would argue yes.

I don’t care how talented of a multi-tasker you are – you aren’t. In an interview with NPR News, Clifford Nass, professor of communication at Stanford University, said,

“People who multitask all the time can’t filter out irrelevancy. They can’t manage a working memory. They’re chronically distracted… And even – they’re even terrible at multitasking. When we ask them to multitask, they’re actually worse at it. So they’re pretty much mental wrecks.”

It would seem that humanity, in its attempt to optimize social interaction, has in fact crippled it. If we cannot truly multitask, yet continually attempt to do so relationally, will any of our relationships be healthy or even genuine?

To bring this full circle, let’s go back to the coffee shop phenomena. How did this phenomena arise? Out of necessity.  While coffee houses have been in existence for centuries, the coffe shop only became commonplace in the 1990s. It became widely popularized by the underlying need to redefine the lines between social circles that became progressively blurred with the rise of technology. When you take a relationship out its natural habitat, in which boundaries have been violated, and intentionally place it in a setting that can be molded to meet present needs, you place your attention and priority on that relationship. Today, the coffee shop meets a need for an environment that is both distinct, comfortable, and flexible so that we can better create opportunities for genuine and unviolated human interaction.

So, if you’re ever in the great city of Knoxville, grab a friend, silence your phone, and grab a cup of joe at Remedy (my favorite coffee shop in town) and share a little life together.

Cheers!

Shelby

Define Love …

For the longest time I thought I had love figured out. If someone asked me how I defined it I would concisely say that it is putting another’s happiness and well-being before your own. In a perfect world, romantic relationships would never be painful, even if they didn’t last, as long as both partners were to adhere to that philosophy; but we live in an imperfect world. We hurt one another and, arguably, especially those we love most. So why continue to engage in relationships which possess the power to overwhelm and injure us in such intimate ways? Because the beauty of love is that love exists in spite of our inevitable flaws. Because, sometimes, the bitter hurt that intermingles with the exquisite and lingering flavors of love, make us desire it even more. Because the electric feeling that pulses through your body as your hands touch accidentally or as you look up to find them looking at you in pure adoration is worth the fear of the unknown, of insincerity, of abandonment. Because love between two imperfect people can be beautiful when you let it.

Cheers!

Shelby