BAYS English Muffins

Cobblestone Chicken Pot Pie with BAYS English Muffins

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Are you looking for a fun and creative way to change up date night?  I have an idea for you.  Mike and I made cooking together a fun date night all the way from choosing a recipe together to shopping for all the ingredients at H.E.B. – we turned a cold rainy night into a fun and creative date night.

With the weather finally cooling off we decided to choose a recipe that had the comforts of home and a hint of the winter months ahead.  We wanted a recipe that was simple but still had enough steps to challenge our cooking skills.  We chose the BAYS English Muffins Cobblestone Chicken Pot Pie.

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I must say we were very proud of ourselves as we sat down to enjoy the meal together.  Packed with flavor and delicious down to every bite, we connected over a meal together.  It made date night that much more special.

If you are looking to change up date night or just create a new meal for the family this Fall, here’s what you’ll need to jump start your cooking debut:

  • 4 BAYS Multi-Grain English Muffins
  • 4 Thick Slices of Smoked Bacon
  • Medium Onion
  • Shredded Chicken
  • Frozen Mixed Veggies
  • 2 Cans of Cream of Chicken Soup
  • Grueyere Cheese
  • Parmesan Cheese
  • Milk
  • 2 Eggs
  • Precooked Shredded Chicken

Quick tip:  If you shop at H-E-B, you can buy precooked shredded rotisserie chicken in the Meal Simple section of the grocery store.  I use this all the time for soups and enchiladas, it’s a HUGE time saver.

And my favorite part… kitchen gadgets.  When I’m cooking a recipe for the first time I also like to set out my kitchen gadgets I know that I’ll need to use for the recipe before I start, just to make sure I’m ready to dive in to cooking.

  • Cutting board
  • Medium mixing bowl
  • 4-quart baking dish
  • Wooden spoon
  • Medium sauté pan
  • Can Opener
  • Cheese grater
  • Table Spoon
  • Tongs

The recipe was easy to follow and the Cobblestone Chicken Pot Pie was brag worthy.  Although this recipe serves six, it actually reheats very well the next day.  I love making recipes that we can reheat and enjoy for a few more meals, because let’s face it who has time to cook every night.  Mike and I had it again for lunch and dinner the next day.  To find a retailer near you to purchase Bays English Muffins and explore their delicious recipes click here.

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Full Recipe Below and Cooking Instructions Below!

INGREDIENTS

4 BAYS Multi-Grain English Muffins, split and halved, and cut into strips
2 large eggs
1 1/2 cups milk, divided
1 cup shredded Gruyere cheese
1/4 cup grated Parmesan cheese
4 thick cut slices hardwood smoked bacon, coarsely chopped
1 medium onion, chopped
1 (10-ounce) package frozen mixed vegetables
2 (10 1/2-ounce) cans cream of chicken soup
3 cups shredded cooked chicken or turkey

INSTRUCTIONS
Preheat the oven to 400°F. Coat a 2-quart baking dish with cooking spray.

Beat the eggs and 1/2 cup of the milk in a medium bowl until well blended. Stir in the muffin cubes, Gruyere and Parmesan cheeses; set aside.

Heat a 12-inch nonstick skillet over medium-high. Add the bacon and cook, stirring occasionally, until crisp, about 7 to 8 minutes. Transfer the bacon with a slotted spoon to a plate covered with paper towel; drain. Pour off all but 2 tablespoons of the bacon fat and return skillet to the stove. Add the onion and sauté until slightly softened, 3 to 4 minutes. Stir in the mixed vegetables; sauté until hot, 3-4 minutes. Stir in the soup and remaining 1 cup milk; bring to a boil and cook 1 minute. Remove from the heat and stir in the reserved bacon and chicken. Transfer the mixture to the prepared baking dish. Top the filling evenly with the muffin mixture.

Bake until the topping is golden brown and the filling is bubbly, about 20 minutes. Remove from the oven and let cool 5 minutes before serving.

Note: if you’d prefer not to use bacon substitute 2 tablespoons of olive oil to sauté the onions.

SERVES:
6

Enjoy our video with step by step  recipe instructions! xx-Jennifer

 

 

 

 

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Farm to Table Brunch

Mike and I spent a beautiful, sunny – Sunday morning experiencing a new restaurant  in Historic Downtown Bryan, Texas.  Housed inside the rustic and recently restored Ice House on Main, Ronin Restaurant brings new life to the 1912 building.

For many years, Chef Brian Light and his wife Amanda have connected our community through local food production and provided a venue where guests can enjoy the traditions of a simpler life at Ronin Farms. The outdoor event venue under the Texas sky will make you fall in love with the Farm to Table concept.  Ronin has now created a second space where our community can experience this same concept in their new location in Historic Downtown Bryan.

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Guests at the Ronin Restaurant can choose from a variety of seating, including outdoor tables with a view of  Historic Downtown Bryan, a indoor community style table or simply a seat at the bar.

The menu selection was carefully crafted, providing us with the feeling that we were out on the farm and even included recommendations of drink pairings for each menu item.

Mike selected the Texas Wagyu Chicken Fried Steak and Farm Egg with Cream Gravy and Roasted Sweet Potato.  Although I helped Mike finish most of his delicious Wagyu Chicken Fried Steak, I went with a sweeter selection for my entree- the Cinnamon Pecan French Toast with Spiced Apple Compote and Spiced Caramel – and it was as delightful as the name.

Although the food and venue were amazing, please note that the pricing for us would be for special occasions only and not a weekly stop.  Based on your budget, I would recommend reviewing the menu pricing before dining.  I definitely see this venue as the perfect spot to host a bridal brunch, baby shower or even a birthday celebration with your closest girlfriends.

The Ronin Restaurant also has seasonal hours, so be sure to check their website for the most up to date hours.  If you are dining this Winter, the hours for Ronin Restaurant are:

Dinner 5pm-10pm
Thursday, Friday & Saturday

Brunch 11am-2pm
Every Sunday

Happy Brunching xx Jennifer

Evergreen Christmas Tree Farm

Getting into the holiday spirit when it’s ninety degrees outside can be a challenge here in Texas.  As a child I spent my Christmases in Kansas where snow was inevitable and roaring fireplaces were the norm.  Bundled up, the cold that cuts through you and the smell of fresh snow – that’s just what reminds me of the holiday season.

This year, despite that fact that we wont be seeing snow, I really wanted to create new holiday traditions with my boyfriend Mike and find joy in the holiday activities that Texas has to offer.  Not far from College Station, we spent a Saturday exploring the Evergreen Christmas Tree Farm in Elgin, Texas.

As we turned down a narrow dirt road into the tree farm, cars were lined up with freshly cut Christmas trees that topped the roofs.  We parked and walked up to where all the action was taking place – in the background you could see children running around and playing, tree farm workers shaking trees and putting them into the netting to prepare for transport to be decorated.  Not long after arriving a cheerful young lady approached us and gave us the entire run down of the tree farm.  From selecting the perfect wreath to jumping on the tractor trailer to take a ride to the tree farm it was the whole holiday package.

This experience was much more organized than I had anticipated despite my only reference to cutting fresh Christmas trees, which is Clark Griswold’s famous Christmas tree scene in National Lampoon’s Christmas Vacation.  Although we did not purchase a tree because we will be traveling to the tropical Florida coast line over the holidays, we enjoy just being out doors and smelling the beautiful pine trees.

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There is an age old debate of buying a Christmas tree – do you buy a live tree or a fake one?  My family has always had an artificial tree, while beautiful it’s missing that fresh pine smell that fills the home and signifies the beginning of the season.  What kind of tree did you have growing up?

Tis the season – xx Jennifer

Photo Credit: Mike Satterfield

 

Banza Chickpea Pasta Recipe

Gluten free and made from Chickpea flour, Banza pasta is high in fiber and a great option for anyone who is vegan, vegetarian or has specific dietary restrictions.

I fell in love with this product after watching the Netflix Generation Startup showcasing a series of entrepreneurs and their journeys to creating startup companies.  I watched as founder Brian Rudolph and employee Avery Hairston developed the first ever chickpea pasta.  I related to their story of daily hard work, trials and errors of creating something new an innovative.  Entrepreneurs at heart, the duo went on to create a wonderful product that I couldn’t wait to try.

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Adding it the grocery store list I wondered if my small Texas town would carry such a unique product but was pleasantly surprised with Banza beat me to the punch and reached out to me to send a few boxes for me to tryout!

I had a lot of fun trying out the different pastas and created a Texas edition recipe that I wanted to share with y’all.  The mac and cheese selection that I tried was really great and by far my favorite so far.

Texas Edition: Banza Mac & Cheese Recipe

2018 Banza Pasta

Ingredients:

  • 1 Box of Banza Mac & Cheese (we used Cacio E Pepe, but this recipe would be great with Banza’s Classic Cheddar or White Cheddar Mac & Cheese.)
  • 6 Cups of water
  • 2 Tbsp Unsalted Butter (Optional)
  • 1/4 Cup Milk
  • 1/4 lb Sliced Brisket
  • 2 Tbsp Chopped basil
  • 1/4 Cup Parmesan Cheese
  • Barbecue sauce drizzle

Directions:

Follow the instructions on the box of Mac & Cheese.  As your pasta is cooking, chop the brisket, basil and mix with Parmesan Cheese and set to the side.  Once your pasta is cooked, drain and follow the instructions provided by Banza to create the cheese sauce.  Mix the pasta and cheese sauce together and then add the brisket, basil and Parmesan cheese.  Plate, drizzle a little barbecue sauce on top and enjoy!

Serving Size: 2

Ok, it’s your turn to create a fun recipe! You can try out Banza pasta and select from a variety of pasta including:

  • Ziti
  • Spaghetti
  • Cavatappi
  • Penne
  • Linguine
  • Wheels
  • Elbows
  • Shells
  • Rotini
  • Angel Hair
  • Rigatoni
  • Classic Cheddar Mac & Cheese
  • White Cheddar Mac & Cheese
  • Cacio E Pepe Mac & Cheese

To find a grocery store near you or to order directly online visit EatBanza.com.

Bon Appétit – xx Jennifer

Road Trip for the Holidays

Have you heard?  I’m going on a two-week road trip for Christmas with my boyfriend, Mike.  This is a far cry from the traditional Christmas, but it will be an adventure to say the least!  Traveling from central Texas to explore Louisiana along the Mississippi onto New Orleans and finally making our way to the tropical Florida coast line – this will be a holiday to remember.

I will admit the idea of spending the holidays on the road was something I had to get my head wrapped around at first.  Usually the holiday season is spent running from one Christmas party to the next, overeating a big Christmas day meal my mother had spent all day making and then of course eating leftovers for days.  But it in the spirit of keeping an open mind and trying new things, I was ready to shake things up a bit and go on this epic holiday couple’s road trip with Mike.

Although this will be an awesome way to spend the holidays together, the thought has crossed my mind – “how will we keep the holiday traditions alive on the road?”

My first thoughts were create a fun holiday play list, find a travel size Christmas tree, decorate the car with battery powered festive Christmas lights, but then I realized it’s not about the stuff.  It’s really about the person you are with and the experience of driving across country and making memories with the person or people you love.

Here are the top 5 ways Mike and I are keeping the Holiday tradition alive and creating our own traditions during our epic holiday couple’s road trip:

  1. Immerse ourselves in a culture outside of ourselves.  We will be completely open to driving down a road we have never traveled before, talking to locals about their city and making new friends along the way on our road trip.  Experiencing a holiday tradition different from our own, Bonfires on the Levee in Louisiana will kick off this goal of experiencing a new culture.
  2. Create new memories and a new tradition.  As I said this will be Mike and I’s longest road trip together and our first Christmas … that’s a lot of pressure, but going with the flow and starting our own tradition, as a new couple, will make our relationship stronger.
  3. Keep our friends and family engaged on the road.  I want to take everyone on this trip and show how traveling can open your mind and can heal your soul.  So in addition to the new norm of social media, Mike and I will be sending a post card to family members and friends at every city.  Sure we may arrive back home before anyone gets their post cards, but seriously who doesn’t like getting snail mail! (note to self…pack stamps)
  4. Tell stories.  Similar to our first road trip, reminiscing of our favorite childhood memories, Mike and I will share our favorite holiday stories.  And hey maybe one day we will be able to tell our children about the time we spent our first Christmas together.
  5. Ok ok…I’m still buying the little travel Christmas tree… but don’t tell Mike.

So, we’re hitting the road!  And we want you to follow along as Mike and I tell our Holiday travel story this December.  Some of the highlights you can look forward to are:

  • A tour and night spent at Oak Alley Plantation on the Mississippi
  • The lighting of the Bonfires on the Levee
  • A jazzy New Orleans Christmas Day
  • Ringing in the New Year on the tropical beaches of Key West

Have you ever spent the holidays on a road trip?  If so, how did you keep holiday traditions alive?  Leave me a comment, I want to hear from you!

Happy and Safe Travels, xx Jennifer

Velvet for the Holidays

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Do you have an outfit that literally gives you super powers?  Well this velvet romper is my superhero cape.  It’s light, comfortable and little bit glam.

I feel like you could easily dress it up or down.  In the photos I put on a simple necklace that added just the right touch to the already popping look.  Then I just couldn’t resist the statement sparkle heels.

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Find this look and others online or in person at The Coterie Boutique at the Lake Walk Town Center in Bryan, Texas.

The Perfect Suede Jacket

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Full outfit details:  Banana Republic Machine Washable Vegan Suede Jacket | Old Navy Mid-Rise Raw-Edge Rockstar Ankle Jeans | Jackson and Hyde Signature Clutch 

This fall I will be living in this suede jacket.  It’s the perfect shade for the season and is neutral enough that it pairs nicely with almost everything in my closet.  The classic details really make the jacket stand out and the best jacket feature is that it’s machine washable!

This jacket is offered in petite all the way to XXS and regular sizing.  I’m wearing a XXS for reference.

Shop Banana Republic Factory and grab this Fall staple for 60% off.  It also comes in black.

Additional Outfit Details:

Basic black throw on and go jeans from Old Navy.

The Signature Clutch from Jackson and Hyde is the perfect Southern accessory.

Kendra Scott statement necklace goes perfectly with this outfit or on top of your sweater shop their Winter Collection.

 

 

 

How to Go on a Road Trip Date

Leaving Texas on a plane at 5 am to go on a date in California was something that was out of my comfort zone,  my friends and family thought I was crazy – but I had decided that it was a risk I needed to take to see if this new relationship with Mike was going to work out.

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I landed in Ontario, California and walked off the plane filled with excitement, hope and a stomach filled with nerves.  In my head it played out a lot like a romantic scene from every love story, as the girl runs and jumps into the arms of her lover and then they run off into the sunset happily ever after.  Let me tell you, if every relationship began that way the world would be a better place.  But it didn’t start like that – It started with both of us coming into a new relationship with some hesitation and proceeding with caution.  After all we were still getting to know each other and a California road trip was just the thing we both needed to get to know each other better.

This wasn’t just any date, it was a California road trip date, that Mike had mapped out for us.  We drove from Ontario to Santa Barbara, to the charming Danish city of Solvang and finally on to Ojai in less than 72 hours.  Knowing that we had a four hour car ride ahead of us until we made our first stop in Santa Barbara, I wanted to come up with a creative way for us to get to know each other better because I wasn’t about to let awkward silence ruin our couples road trip.

I turned to my friends as I often do for advice and direction on every aspect of my life, so naturally I got them involved on this road trip. I created a “Cali Party Line” group text… a modern day party line.  The group text was a fun way to share information, crazy gifs and the best part… what questions should I ask Mike to get to know him?  This opened the door for a so many questions that I never would have even thought to ask.

On the road trip as I started to ask Mike some of the questions my friends put together it helped keep the conversation flowing and often we found ourselves telling stories based on the answers to each question.  It definitely filled four plus hours of drive time and the best part, it allowed us to get to know each other better and inspired additional questions.

Planning a road trip date?  Hopefully I’ve inspired you to get outside of your comfort zone and on the road to building a new relationship.  Below I’ve recapped over 20 questions that my friends put together for Mike and I during our road trip around California.  Happy dating! xx Jennifer

  1. What was your favorite Halloween costume?
  2. If you were on death row, what would be your last meal?
  3. Do you like dogs?
  4. What’s your best travel story?
  5. What’s your most irrational fear?
  6. What’s your go to Karaoke song?
  7. What are your pet peeves?
  8. Do you have an unusual talent?
  9. What are you legit bad at?
  10. What’s the worst fad you ever participated in?
  11. Do you have any family traditions?
  12. What was your favorite birthday party as a kid?
  13. Are you more of a Betty or Veronica kind of guy?
  14. If you could have dinner with 3 celebrities dead or alive, who would they be?
  15. Have you ever questions (… sky dived, snow skied, zip lined, etc.)
  16. Where do you see yourself in the next 1, 5, 10 years…?
  17. What is your favorite childhood memory?
  18. What is on your traveling bucket list?
  19. What’s your favorite type of food?
  20. Do you have a favorite restaurant?
  21. If you were married, what are your thoughts on your wife working, or staying home with the children?
  22. What are your financial goals? (note: only ask this question if you feel like the other person is open to having this discussion, asking too early could be off putting)
  23. Tell me more about your extended family.

Curious about how I met Mike?  I recapped our first date and how I knew he was the one, read our love story by clicking HERE.

The Crafty Pig Food Truck

The food truck craze continues to make it’s way to the Brazos Valley.  I found a Southern comfort dream at The Crafty Pig Food Truck this week at the Lake Walk Town Center in Bryan, Texas.  Local chefs, Brad Dees and Cody John recently opened The Crafty Pig Food Truck and they are busy tearing up the roads in the Brazos Valley bringing locals their delicious southern style food creations.

Brad Dees and Cody John (KBTX)

Photo Source: KBTX Media

Once I made my way to the window, it was tough to even choose because the menu was so awesome, everything just sounded delicious.  After changing my order at few times, I ended up trying the Southern Porkadilla filled with oak smoked pork, grilled onions, cheese and BBQ sauce.  I’m glad I had my friend Lauren with me because I would have consumed the whole thing!  The Southern Porkadilla just wasn’t complete until I added an order of shoe string sweet potato fries garnished with sea salt.  Honestly I didn’t even need the ketchup I grabbed at the window because the flavor of the fries stood alone.

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If you want to find The Crafty Pig Food Truck’s next stop you can follow the truck on Facebook, Instagram and Twitter for all of their local stops.  They do a great job of releasing the menu ahead of time and giving you a look at the southern food they will be cooking up that week.

If you want to learn more about Chef Brad and Chef Cody, check out KBTX Media’s interview with the duo.

What’s a Career Retreat?

Starting the year with more than a list of goals, more than good intentions is important, it is putting your head in the game of life.  This year I am adding a layer to my paper goals, and I’m telling you all about how going on a “career retreat” has prepared me to  tackle 2019.

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This time of year always seems to bring on a sense of hope and belonging.  Surrounded by family and friends you become renewed and refreshed for what the next year presents (well for some of us anyway).  I use this time of year to reflect back on the intentions I had set for the current year, the goals that I hoped I would achieve, the big dream I hoped I would tackle.  Every year starts with a piece of paper.  On this piece of paper I write down everything I can think of that I want to accomplish in the year. Sometimes they are big dreams and sometimes it’s something small like stop using sticky notes (seriously stop).  But every year starts the same for me and when I sat down this month to look at the list I had created for 2018 I was blown away.

I had accomplished everything.  This is not bragging, this is me in disbelief, honestly.  I had set some big goals that I wasn’t sure were even possible.  The biggest goal was buying my first home.  This was a scary goal, this was a huge financial risk that I wasn’t even sure I could take on, but I did.  Every step was a learning experience and in the end it gave me some fierce confidence that I could do this on my own and that’s all I needed.

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Proving to myself that I could finish a graduate certificate at Texas A&M was another huge win for me.  Going back to school felt like standing at the bottom of a mountain and looking up at the top thinking “no way.”  Working full time, ending a relationship and processing a breakup, buying a home and all the other things that life throws at you – how could I complete this task – and not just complete it – but knock it out of the park.  I learned so much about myself during this process, unlike purchasing a home this was a different feeling.  It was about proving that even when I was at my lowest I could still achieve great things.  It was about pushing through when my tank was empty.  The exhaustion and the fear of failure had to be completely blocked out, it was a mind game. I learned discipline, I learned to rely on others and I learned to believe in myself.

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When I started looking at 2019 I reached out to a friend of mine, Blair, who is actually more a sister than a friend, she is brilliant when it comes to career goals and setting big goals.  She is fearless and I look to her for advice on any big decision in my life because I know she will shoot me straight and talk me off the ledge.  If you don’t have this person in your life, find one, it’s essential to being successful.

As my blog continues to grow and we approach a one year anniversary in February, I really needed to evaluate what year two, year five, and beyond looks like for the blog brand.  But even before I could do that, I needed to go back and review over the last nine months to help drive the direction for 2019.  Blair asked me, “Have you ever considered a Career Retreat?”

A little confused I started to think about the answer, I mean I’ve been to work retreats, so I kind of understood what she was saying.  But in my head I was thinking how could I go on a retreat, after all the blog is just me, it’s not like I have a dozen employees working behind the scenes (not yet anyway).  That’s when Blair directed me to career coach Darcy Eikenburg, owner of Red Cape Revolution, who has put together an awesome guide on how to DIY your own Career Retreat.  Step by step I answered simple questions that will have a huge impact on my blog in 2019.  Focusing on where are you now, where do I  even want to be and what’s it going to take to get me there in 2019, kicked off my career retreat.

One of my biggest takeaways from the career retreat was carving out the time and sticking to it… planning a time and not just the time but where, where are you going to physically be to start your planning.  This meant I needed to completely disconnect from all social media, text messages and basically go silent for the time I set aside to focus on my career, focus on my goals and set my intentions for 2019.  Leaving the retreat I had essentially created a road map for my 2019 and set some of those big – scary goals that I know I will achieve because they are written down.

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I encourage you to start planning your 2019 now, while you are reflecting on this last year and planning for your career future.  For a full link to the Career Retreat Guide and a look at coaching with Darcy click the link below!

Source:  How to plan your career retreat by Darcy Eikenburg