Category Archives: Recipes
Packing Meals For a Pilot + Shredded Chicken Tamale Casserole Recipe
Last week I filmed and shared a little vlog on my YouTube channel that just followed a day in the life with Brynnley and I as Zeb was on a four-day trip. He’s a commercial pilot, so our lifestyle is unique in that he’s gone between 3-5 days a week. That means a whole lot of solo-parenting, and a lot of unique challenges to our family’s schedule. Which is something I thought I could share a little more about here as well!
Until I started dating Zeb, I actually had no idea that pilots spent many nights away from their home. I assumed they had a “route” that they flew back and forth and ended back at home each night. Nope! There’s nothing normal or regular about their schedule! They also do not have a designated “route.” Based on seniority, they can request certain criteria in their flight schedule but very rarely do they fly the same trip twice!
Zeb’s trips can start on any day of the week, including Saturday and Sunday. They can be 2 days, 3 days, or 4 days. Their layover and hotel can be in pretty much any city with a major airport. Sometimes he’s in Burbank, Salt Lake City, and Houston, and other times he’s in Nashville for three nights in a row! Some trips he flies from 5am-noon every day and other trips he’s hanging out in a hotel until 4pm and flying until midnight. It’s ALWAYS different.
One of the interesting aspects that many people don’t think about when it comes to a pilot (or flight attendant) schedule is packing meals and snacks for their trips that can be up to four days long. Most of the airplanes my husband flies actually don’t have microwaves to heat up his meals! He takes a rolling luggage bag and a large cooler bag on each trip. Many days he starts his trip as early as 5am and it might be 12 hours until he can transfer his food into a hotel mini fridge for the evening. So logistically, there are some restrictions to what kinds of food he can take along with him to avoid eating out for all four days. Eating airport and restaurant food is not the healthiest option but it also adds up to so much extra money spent on food!
I don’t mind meal prepping for him so that he has nutritious food to eat on his trip, but it’s taken a while to figure out what types of foods keep well for multiple days in a cooler bag and are something he will actually EAT and not bring back home to dump down the garbage disposal.
This post is only going to contain one recipe that was a hit for his last four-day trip, and I’ll continue to share more as I make them each week! I’ll have to start a new little page on this blog specifically for pilot meals, packing tips, and more about this bizarre lifestyle.
First thing to consider when picking a recipe to meal prep for his trip is that it has to taste good both hot and cold, in case he needs to eat it as lunch or dinner on the airplane and doesn’t have a way to heat it up.
On his most recent trip, I made a shredded chicken tamale casserole that was a hit!
Shredded Chicken Tamale Casserole
- 1 casserole dish , greased
- 1 box cornbread mix (plus ingredients on packaging)
- 4.5 oz diced green chiles
- 2 cups cooked shredded chicken
- 1 cup Monterey Jack cheese
- 1 cup Mexican blend cheese
- 1 cup creamed corn
- 15 oz black beans
- 10 oz green enchilada sauce
- 1 Tbs garlic powder
- 1 Tbs cumin
- salt & pepper
- Preheat oven to 400 degrees and grease a 9×9 casserole dish.
- In a medium bowl, stir together the cornbread mix and the ingredients listed on its packaging. Add diced green chiles, set aside.
- In a separate large bowl, combine the shredded chicken and spices. Add black beans, creamed corn, 1/2 cup Monterey Jack cheese, 1/2 cup Mexican blend cheese, and green enchilada sauce.
- Pour the chicken mixture into the greased casserole dish and spread evenly.
- Pour the cornbread batter evenly over the top of the chicken mixture.
- Bake for 25 minutes. Then add the remaining Monterey Jack and Mexican blend cheeses.
- Continue baking for another 15 minutes until the cheese begins to brown.
- Allow to cool and enjoy! Optional toppings: sour cream, cilanto, salsa, and avocado.
I divided up some big portions into three containers for Zeb to pack along with some Spanish rice, just in case he was extra hungry!
I had one container left at home for myself and can attest that it was yummy hot AND cold, if necessary!
Some snack staples that Zeb also usually packs along are beef jerky, almonds, and a few of my homemade “Cat balls” (peanut butter energy balls). He has unlimited airplane snacks, including whatever is offered to first class, which have actually come a long way from pretzels! Now there are fun options like pistachios, chocolate covered almonds, and Sun Chips. He brings me home some extras sometimes and I never want to eat another Biscoff cookie in my life haha.
Any other fellow spouses of an aviation crew member? Share your favorite meals to pack with me!
We experienced the nicest day in Idaho in over 180 days on Easter. The Boise area actually broke a record from the 1800s about most consecutive days under 60 degrees. Even when it did start to creep into the upper 50s, intense wind always made it less pleasant to spend time in! You don’t know how APPRECIATED that sunshine was! Brynnley and I celebrated Easter with a beautiful brunch at my parents’ house and then spent as much time outside as we could.
On Saturday I had a girlfriend come over for a little brunch together while we watched the newest episodes of Love is Blind. I have to say, I am not a reality TV junkie. My TV is typically always just rewatching Friends and Gilmore Girls episodes on repeat. But there is something about the (totally ridiculous) Netflix show Love is Blind that always hooks me. My friend Nicole and I bond over our mutual love/hate relationship with the cringy show that we can’t look away from.
I’ve had a wheel of French Brie cheese in my fridge from Costco for a bit and I needed to find a use for it. Obviously I took to Pinterest and searched “brunch recipe with brie.” I found some really pretty crostinis with melted brie, apple butter and honey. Then I remembered a recent photo I’d seen from a restaurant that used shredded hard boiled egg on top of avocado toast and I immediately wanted to recreate that as well. I decided to just make both, using crostini as my base for a few different tiny toast varieties.
French baguettes are less than $2 at the grocery store. You can slice them into whatever thickness you want your toast, and lay them out on a lined baking sheet. I sprayed them with olive oil and popped in the oven at 350 for 10 minutes. Even if they don’t have quite as much of a golden glow as you’d like, I wouldn’t cook them longer than 10 minutes. They really crunch up. A few of mine were overcooked and we joked that we needed subtitles on our show because we couldn’t hear the words over the sound of our chewing!
For our tiny toast toppings, we had mashed avocado, sliced cherry tomatoes, shredded hard boiled eggs, thinly sliced apple, cherry jam, brie cheese, honey, balsamic vinegar, and everything but the bagel seasoning. I made one of each variety and went back for seconds! You have to try this brunch idea for your next girls get together. They were SO CUTE and tasty and it really wasn’t much effort to throw together.
I’m currently in the middle of two intriguing books. April is my turn to host book club, and I picked Someone Else’s Shoes by Jojo Moyes. I loved Me Before You, which is a movie now if you aren’t interested in reading the book. As you know, I’m always in the middle of an audiobook and a physical book at the same time. Somone Else’s Shoes is my audiobook right now, which I usually listen to on 1.3x speed to get through it a little faster. Sometimes they just talk so slow! But the narrator is British and one of the characters has a THICK cockney accent which I already can’t understand so I have to put it back to normal speed. It’s so funny that she is speaking English, my native language, and it is still so difficult to grasp what she’s saying. Sometimes I’m listening in my car and I just giggle because it truly sounds like someone speaking a foreign language haha.
The physical book I’m reading right now is The Younger Wife, which my friend Rebecca sent to me in her birthday present for Brynnley which was so sweet! The next episodes of Love is Blind don’t come out until Friday so I should be able to get in a few more chapters tonight and tomorrow ;)
It’s almost time to pick out my seeds and plant my vegetable garden again! This will be my third spring/summer growing a little veggie patch in my backyard garden box and I’m excited for Brynnley to be old enough to come water it with me and watch everything grow. She will at least be able to share some fresh picked blackberries with me! Those are my mini updates for this spring so far, and I will leave you with some Easter cuteness until my next post. :)
Gone Fishin’ + My First Blue Apron Meal
Good morning, coffee lovers! In case you missed it, yesterday was National Coffee Day. This is a serious holiday on my calendar which required careful calculation and strategy for hitting up the main coffee shops without over-caffeinating myself ;)
Dutch Bros. is a main coffee drive-thru in the PNW and as part of their National Coffee Day celebration, profit from every drink went to our local Boys and Girls Club charity. PLUS customers were given a full “punch card’ which can be redeemed for a free drink on your next visit. Another coffee hut was offering 4 drinks for $10, and my office even created their own coffee bar in the break room. There were flavored foam pumps (I did not even know that existed!), whip cream, fancy creamers, sprinkles, and coffee-flavored chocolates. My heart was very very happy yesterday.
The coffee love just KEPT ON COMING this morning because a brand new coffee shop literally right down the street from me had its Grand Opening today. They advertised free coffee all day, so of course I pulled in on my way to work. I expected the free drink to be black coffee. Nope! ANY drink, fancy as you want, all for free. They have Oreo Chillers and Rockstar Freezes and Pumpkin Spice Lattes and something called a “Caramel Blondie.” Creature of habit, I went with an iced nonfat vanilla americano but I just might go back after work for something a little more festive. Depends on if I feel like going for a run first or not ;)
Anyways, what I’m REALLY here for is to share the last bit of fun from my weekend that included a fishing trip and my very first Blue Apron meal. Last summer, my family vacationed in Mammoth Lakes, California and went fishing very early in the morning. I caught nothing. This trip, I caught so many fish that I had to take a break to let my dad fish without having to continually re-set my line! :)
We mostly caught trout, and threw them right back in the river (after snapping a picture first, duh. It’s 2016.) It was so peaceful to stand in the river, look out into the forest and just appreciate the autumn day.
That night, we got home feeling drained and lazy. Then I remembered that my first Blue Apron box had arrived on Friday and I had 3 different meals to choose from! I love that they come in refrigerated boxes with all of the ingredients pre-portioned. The recipe cards are so detailed and I really appreciate the photos of each step. I picked the “Summer Pepper Shakshuka” with eggs and za’atar. This was the first time I’ve ever cooked a Middle Eastern dish myself, and I think it turned out pretty dang close to the picture!
There was something relaxing about dicing up all of the fresh vegetables. I threw them into a large pan and added the seasonings that came with my delivery. The best part? PITA BREAD. You know how much I love my carbs. The actual pita was already cooked, but it came in a circle like pizza crust. I got to slice it into triangles, toast in the oven and add the za’atar seasoning. They came out flavorful and toasty, just like they should!
Fresh pea shoots brought some color into this dish! The protein came from farm-fresh eggs that were added to the pan at the last few minutes. It seemed like a savory breakfast-for-dinner meal, but breakfast is my favorite so I was completely onboard for that!
My favorite part of cooking Blue Apron meals is how aesthetic they are plated! I know I’m not the only one who’s always proud when I serve a dish that looks restaurant-worthy. Especially with the Instagram food porn that makes a bowl of oatmeal look like pure art. Taking an extra minute for the presentation is one of those simple little things that is so satisfying, and I think every Blue Apron meal includes a very beautiful presentation.
A little feta sprinkled on top and voila! I think the whole meal took between 30-40 minutes to create. It was bursting with flavors that were somewhat foreign to me. I’d never cooked with za’atar, shallots, or pea shoots before. Cost-wise, Blue Apron meals are considerably less expensive than eating at a restaurant. The meals are less than $10 each, but seasonal specials and discounts are always popping up in my inbox. Plus everything is delivered to your door and pre-measured. I’m at that weird transitional phase between an on-campus college student with a meal plan and dozens of campus dining options to living completely on my own and “fending for myself.” Since health and nutrition are so important to me, I hardly want to get into that bad habit of resorting to microwave meals for dinner every night.
I learned about Blue Apron through fellow bloggers PBFingers.com and HungryRunnerGirl.com & I think it is the perfect transition for me to start learning to cook whole nutritious meals!
There are two more new-to-me meals from my last delivery to create this weekend and I can’t wait to try the Summer Udon Salad! (I opted for the vegetarian meal plan.) After a whole week of 5:00am workouts, I want nothing more than a lazy Friday night at home with yoga pants, Grey’s Anatomy, decaf coffee, and some time in the kitchen with a new healthy recipe. Plus all those Udon noodles will serve as my carbo-loading for tomorrow’s long run! Shelby, my running teammate, and I are going to try to get in 13 miles before the weather turns dreary tomorrow morning.