Last week I shared some of the unique and challenging aspects of a commercial airline pilot’s work trip schedule, and how we often meal prep and pack homemade balanced meals to keep my husband from eating out for four days straight. If you’re interested in a little more of the standard (or not-so-standard) lifestyle of this career, definitely check out this post first!
For Zeb’s most recent four-day trip, he requested something low-carb for this week’s meal prep…..maybe our upcoming tropical summer vacation has something to do with that, haha. He would be doing multiple flights a day with nightly hotel stays in Tri-Cities, Washington, Meford, Oregon, and Eugene, Oregon. Not the most glamorous trip route this time.
I took to Pinterest for some low-carb inspiration, found a recipe, and tweaked it a little to make it my own. This trip, I made and packed Zeb a Buffalo Chicken Spaghetti Squash Bake & I kept a container for myself because it was so yummy! I LOVE the flavor of buffalo sauce.
You start by baking a spaghetti squash (which Brynnley kept calling a banana and a ball) and chicken breast. I like to microwave my squash for about 7-8 minutes first to help it cook a little faster, since it does take close to an hour!
In the meantime, you can prep the rest of your ingredients. Thinly sliced celery, diced tomatoes, shredded cheese, crumbled blue cheese, ranch dressing, buffalo wing sauce, and parsley for topping.
Once the chicken is cooked and cooled, dice it up and add it to your mixture. Then use two forks to pull apart the spaghetti squash strands and add them to your large bowl.
Place the buffalo chicken spaghetti squash mixture into a greased casserole dish and bake at 400 degrees for another 20 minutes. You can add more cheese on top if you wish!
Zeb did say that I broke my own rule with this one because it wasn’t as good cold. Luckily he ended each day of this trip pretty early and was able to eat his meal in his hotel room with a microwave.
Buffalo Chicken Spaghetti Squash Bake
- 1 Spaghetti Squash
- 2 lb. Chicken Breast
- 1 cup Celery , thinly sliced
- 1 cup Tomato , diced
- 1 cup Shredded cheddar cheese
- 2/3 cup Crumbled Blue Cheese
- 1 cup Ranch Dressing
- 1 cup Buffalo Wing Sauce (or more, dependent on your taste)
- Parsley for garnish
- Salt, Pepper and Garlic Powder to taste
- Preheat your oven to 400 degrees and line a baking sheet with aluminum foil, greased. Also grease a 9×9 baking dish and set aside for later.
- Cut the spaghetti squash in half and place both halves face-down on the foil. Place chicken breast next to them.
- Bake until chicken is heated to 165 degrees internal temperature and remove from sheet. Place squash back into oven until it is very soft and tender.
- While squash and chicken are baking, combine the rest of your ingredients in a LARGE mixing bowl: thinly sliced celery, diced tomato, shredded cheese, crumbled blue cheese, ranch dressing, buffalo sauce, salt, pepper and garlic powder.
- Once the cooked chicken has cooled, cut it into bite-sized cubes and add it to the buffalo mixture.
- Once cooked spaghetti squash has cooled, remove the squash strands with two forks and add to the buffalo mixture. Blend well.
- Add the mixture to the greased baking dish and bake for another 20 minutes. Feel free to add cheese on top and continue baking until it browns. I liked to top mine with extra buffalo sauce.
- Garnish with parsley and add a little ranch dressing drizzle, if you so desire!
And there you have this week’s installment of what I meal prepped for my pilot husband! We are going to enjoy our Memorial Day weekend with our first trip to the pool of the year, and I can’t wait! Last summer, we went to the pool quite often and Brynnley seemed to enjoy it but she was only 5-7 months old. Now she’s nearly a year and a half and can run around the splash pad on her own. She LOVES water and insists on sticking herself in front of the hose whenever I’m out watering my garden.
She and I have been taking 2-3 walks A DAY because the weather is sooo perfect and I know hotter days are coming so we are taking advantage while we can.
I have a fun blog post idea planned for later next week so check back soon! Happy Memorial Day Weekend!
Who would have thought, one month ago today when I still had TEN items on my list, that we would be here at the penultimate post on my birthday eve-eve?!? I didn’t know how much of a procrastinator I was until I gave myself 365 days to complete 30 things…..and I saved 33% of them for the last 30 days. It has been a VERY busy month. The cleanliness of my house has taken the toll. I have a deep-cleaning day scheduled for myself next week 😅
Running the distance of a half-marathon (13.1 miles) would have been just a normal Sunday for me, back in the day. I spent the better part of a decade in running shoes. I truly LOVE running (long distance. No sprinting here haha). After all, this blog began when I was a NCAA Division 1 athlete for Northern Arizona University’s Cross Country, Indoor Track and Outdoor Track team. (Anyone been here since race recaps…? ☺️) That was the time in my life that I look back and am most proud of. I’m so thankful to have had that experience!
Though I never saw myself continuing to run competitively after college, I do see myself as a lifelong recreational runner. And I know that it’s totally natural to have peaks and valleys in everything so I will openly admit that I’ve been in quite the valley when it comes to running lately. Particularly since becoming pregnant and now having a baby for the past 11 months. I run here and there but not as consistently or structured as my past, which is a goal of mine going into spring.
This was another item I prolonged til the deadline, and Idaho isn’t particularly known for its “ideal outdoor running weather” in February. Looking at the forecast, I decided this afternoon was my best shot this week. It would be sunny and upper 40’s, though windy. At this point, I have to take what I can get!
I was able to start my run around 2:30pm. Zeb was home until 4:00pm and could watch Brynnley while I ran outside for the first chunk. At 4:00pm, he had to get to work and I would have to come inside and use the treadmill while Brynnley snoozed for her afternoon nap. There was a good chance she would wake up during this portion and we could log the remainder of my miles outside again with her in the stroller. I had a plan!
After attending my MOPs meeting in the morning, I came home and meal-prepped for Zeb to take something healthy on his work trip. I made a Greek salad with tomato, cucumber, lettuce, green onion, feta, a creamy dressing and delicious pan-fried pork patties on top with a little cup of hummus for each container. I fed Brynnley her lunch, wrote a blog post for my regular job and then changed into a weather-appropriate running outfit.
The key to getting into the long-distance zone for me is MUSIC! I could not imagine running to a podcast or an audiobook. I HAVE to be listening to really good music with a beat that fires me up. I have my go-to playlists on Spotify, which include 1990s punk, 2000s hip-hop, current country, lots of Daughtry, some Avril Lavigne, a random Linkin Park song. 😅
I ran 5.5 miles straight without stopping at an 8-minute mile average. To be perfectly honest, that’s the longest I’ve run since fourth of July! I took a short walking break to blow my nose because the wind was really getting to me. I took this picture of a random house just to show the wind in the flag:
When I started again at the 6-mile mark, I thought “uh oh. I should not have stopped.” My legs immediately felt SO HEAVY after stopping. From mile 6-12, I ran as much as I could but stopped to walk when I needed to. I never went more than a mile without running. My butt, thighs, shins and calves let me know that I would regret not training more for this haha. Here is another random snap from my run of a dead frog that really freaked me out…
At the 9-mile mark, Zeb needed to leave for work. So I returned home. Brynnley was still asleep, so I grabbed the baby monitor and hopped on the treadmill. It is so much better to run outside than on a treadmill!
She woke up 20 minutes later. I’d gotten in 2 miles, so my grand total was 11 miles.
I needed 2 more, so I got her cozy in her stroller and went back out into the neighborhood.
We made it through the remaining distance, but I did end up walking the last mile because my legs were practically THROBBING. I just know that I will not be able to walk tomorrow. I’m really surprised that my lungs weren’t more of an issue though because I expected my breathing to be more out of shape than my leg muscles. I also didn’t sweat very much at all even though I hydrated quite a bit for this, and I’m assuming the wind just helped to dry it all off pretty efficiently.
The main takeaway from this task is: I don’t know why I don’t run more. I truly enjoy it. I have proved to myself that I can fit it in with Brynnley. Especially now that the weather will start getting nicer soon, I no longer have any excuse to stay in this “valley” of my running performance. I am here to publicly commit to making long-distance running a more regular part of my lifestyle again. It makes me happy :)
We live in such a naturally diverse and beautiful part of the country, I am a little embarrassed that this is only my third time camping since living in Idaho for the past 6 years. Idaho has so much beautiful mountain land, we could easily find new camping spots here for the rest of our lives, depending on how adventurous we are! For this trip, we chose a camping site that was a little less remote because we would be tenting it with a four-month old baby and I still appreciate the modern convenience of an actual toilet 😁
Two weeks before Father’s Day, we confirmed with my parents that we would do a tent camping trip to celebrate Father’s Day weekend. It would be my husband’s first Father’s Day since becoming a dad, and he and my dad both enjoy fishing and the mountains. My mom and I wanted to reserve an actual campsite, as opposed to driving through the Idaho wilderness looking for a remote spot to call home. Idaho is getting so crowded with new residents since the pandemic started, so hidden gems aren’t so hidden anymore and it seems like a competition to snag a great camping spot without a reservation.
I scored the last remaining camp site along Lake Cascade, a fifteen mile-long lake two hours north of Boise. We assumed since it was the single remaining spot, it must be the least desirable….right next to a dumpster or something. But we were determined to make the most of our three day/two night excursion no matter what! You can imagine how pleasantly surprised we were when we pulled up to the waterfront corner lot gorgeous space with plenty of room for Zeb to dock his fishing boat on. We learned that our fellow campers reserved their sites 9 months in advanced because that’s how fast this campsite books up. It turned out that I had make the luckiest timing, booking someone else’s last minute cancellation of this prized spot!
I reviewed my camping packing list the entire week before we left. You would be surprised how much gear you need to pack along to care for an infant in the outdoors! We woke up at 7am on Friday morning and spent all of Brynnley’s nap time packing the truck. While I packed the last minute perishables into the cooler, Zeb made one last run for ice, firewood, and sandwiches for us for the road. His truck was packed to the brim with all of our supplies, so as soon as Brynnley was fed and changed around 11am we hit the road. We stopped for gas for the truck and boat – $120 gone in 5 minutes!
Brynnley slept the majority of the 2 hour drive; we had to stop about 15 miles from camp so that I could feed and change her in the truck. When we arrived at our campsite, it was a little tricky to juggle occupying a four month old baby while trying to help Zeb set up the tarp, tent, shade cover, and cooking station. Brynnley needs lots of attention, feeding, and help getting to sleep which took up most of my afternoon while Zeb put his boat in the water and started fishing.
For dinner the first night, we kept it easy with campfire hot dogs, cherries and storebought potato salad. We also used the Dutch oven to cook popcorn kernels over the fire pit, and it actually worked! The sun doesn’t set here until about 10pm this time of year, so I let Brynnley stay up past her actual bedtime to enjoy some camping cuddles next to the fire while I read a little bit of my book and enjoyed a couple of White Claws. I primarily breastfeed her, but I brought my battery-powered breast pump to supply her some extra bottles while we enjoyed a few evening beverages :)
Our tent is super spacious, roomie enough for 6 people. There was plenty of space inside for our full air mattress, plus the pack n’ play and all of our bags. I bought a blackout cover for the pack n’ play since I knew Brynnley would have a hard time sleeping in the full sunlight. It was fantastic! She slept even better than she does at home. I laid her down when we went to bed around 10pm, and she slept straight through to 7am. I woke up many times throughout the night to check on her and make sure she was warm enough, but she was just fine. My mom had also bought us some baby-friendly mosquito repellent stickers that we used to combat any potential bug bites and they seemed to work great.
We woke up around 7am Saturday morning FREEZING because we didn’t have a sleeping bag, just a couple of blankets on our air mattress. I immediately texted my parents who were getting ready to head up and meet us from Boise, and asked them to bring us a couple more blankets for the next night. Thankfully with her fleece jammies and sleep sack, Brynnley was plenty snug and warm. I fed her in our tent while Zeb made us a morning fire and brewed coffee in the percolator. DELICIOUS! Coffee tastes better out of a cute tin mug in the mountains next to lake water at sunrise :)
We also experimented with another Dutch oven concoction that will now become a STAPLE in our camp cooking repertoire. Cinnamon Apple Coffee Cake! The texture was unbelievably perfect for whipping up without a kitchen and cooking over a fire. My parents had gotten my husband Zeb a campfire Dutch oven and corresponding cookbook for Christmas a couple of years ago, so the recipe came from that cookbook. I put together the dry base at home before we left our house – some flour, baking powder, cinnamon, sugar and dried milk powder. Once we got to the campground, we diced a green apple and butter, which was mixed with brown sugar and some of the flour mixture for a crumb topping.
As the coffee cake sat on our morning campfire, my parents arrived! They set up their tent and air mattress for their FIRST camping trip in Idaho since moving here six years ago. My mom was pleasantly surprised by not only our great campsite but also the proximity to actual restrooms. We aren’t pee-in-the-bushes type of people ;)
After we all enjoyed our breakfast cake and coffee, Zeb took my dad out onto Lake Cascade for some fishing. My mom hung at camp with Brynnley and I. We put her in her stroller and walked the campground with only one minor hiccup when we got her stroller tire stuck in a cattle guard, prompting a concerned passerby to hop out of his truck to offer help lifting her out of the grate :D
The boys returned sans fish, but ready for lunches. My mom had premade us all meat and cheese sandwiches which we ate with some fruit and sun chips. Right next to our campground is a beautiful ski resort called Tamarack Resort that has been under construction since we moved here. We decided to pop over to explore the new grounds and grab a drink. It’s a popular spot for mountain bikers this time of year!
When we returned to camp, Brynnley hung out with my mom and dad while Zeb took me out on the boat. We both fished the entire time but also came up empty handed. There were hardly any other boaters on the water though, and with the 360 degree view of pine tree forest and water, it was a gorgeous and relaxing ride.
Our family campfire dinner was “hobo packs” – foil packs with delicious potatoes, yams, bell peppers, zucchini, onions and mushrooms with chicken sausages and delicious seasoning. We set them on hot coals and it smelled HEAVENLY. We played a game of Uno on the picnic table while munching on some pretzels and sipping white claws.
Zeb wanted to impress my parents with his popcorn popping skills, but that didn’t stop us from also indulging in smores. You can’t NOT make smores when we go on our very first family camping trip!
Brynnley fell asleep in my arms at the campfire, so we kept her up with us until about 10pm when we all headed to bed. The second night in our tent was considerably warmer than the first, and we all slept straight through to 7am – baby included. We nursed in our tent again while Zeb started the morning fire and brewed coffee. I think this morning time with coffee and morning sunlight is my favorite part of camping. I really enjoy that taste of coffee in a fun camping mug right next to the lake water while everyone is still in their comfy clothes, baby is still in her fleece jammies, and the whole campgroung is quiet with that hint of bacon in the air. :)
This Sunday morning was also Father’s Day! So while we all needed to tear down our tents and pack back up – it seemed like we JUST got here! – we also got to celebrate my dad and Zeb with a brunch and some gifts and cards.
Overall, tent camping at Lake Cascade was such a great experience and confidence-builder for more future camping trips with our baby! All of the things I was so worried about, like her getting a mosquito bite, being too cold, crying at night and waking up fellow campers……none of them came true! I am looking forward to more family camping trips in the future, though I don’t know we’ll get quite so lucky with the perfect camping site on such last minute notice again. :)