Classic Pimento Cheese

I’m always searching for new ways to snack in the afternoon. Sometimes the work day gets away from me and the only reason I look up at the clock is because my stomach is growling. I came across this easy pimento cheese recipe and HAD to make it. It’s a Southern staple and one of my absolute favorites – I can snack on this all week long, on celery, crackers, or on a sandwich with lettuce and tomato. The best part – it takes less than 10 minutes to make. **Personal choice: the recipe I followed called for 1 teaspoon of finely grated onion and pecans but I excluded both of those.  I also added a small sliver of cream cheese.

Things you’ll need:

  • 1 1/2 cups of mayonnaise
  • 1 bag of shredded sharp cheddar
  • 1 bag of shredded extra-sharp cheddar
  • 1 can of pimentos
  • 1/4 teaspoon of ground red pepper
  • 1 teaspoon of Worcestershire sauce
  • Small sliver of cream cheese
  1. First, stir the mayonnaise, pimentos and red pepper into a medium serving bowl.
  2. Add both bags of cheese, stirring in gradually.
  3. Add a small sliver of cream cheese, a little less than 1/4. Stir everything together until blended thoroughly.
  4. Serve on crackers, celery sticks or spread over bread.

Creamy One Pan Chicken + Spinach Parmesan

This recipe is DANG good and pretty easy. It is the perfect meal to make for two with a glass of wine. ***A couple tips to make it even easier/better: Sometimes I feel like being lazy as I did the night we made this, so I bought pre-chopped onions and used a couple spoonfuls of canned minced garlic that I already had in my fridge. (This saved me roughly fifteen minutes and spared my eyes from crying about the onion) We also added mushrooms and we added 1/4 of a block of cream cheese because we are obsessed with both.

Things you’ll need:

  • 2 chicken breasts
  • 3 tablespoons of butter
  • Salt, Pepper and Oregano (1 tsp)
  • 1 medium onion, minced
  • 4 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 small jar of sun dried tomatoes
  • 1/2 cup chicken broth
  • 1/2 cup heavy cream
  • 1/3 cup grated parmesan cheese
  • As much spinach as your heart desires
  • Mushrooms (optional)
  • 1/4 block of cream cheese (optional, for creamier taste)

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  1. First, season the chicken breasts. Using about a teaspoon of oregano, salt and pepper, season both sides of both chickens.
  2. Place 3 tablespoons of butter into a large skillet with a dash of olive oil. Add some sun dried tomatoes. When the butter is melted, place chickens in pan.
  3. Let them cook fully, until the center is white. Once cooked, remove chicken and keep on a plate nearby.
  4. Next, make the sauce. Add 3 more tablespoons of butter, another teaspoon of oregano, onion, garlic, sun dried tomatoes, and mushrooms.
  5. Slowly add in chicken broth, heavy cream and cream cheese, letting them gradually melt in. Once the sauce has thickened, add chicken back in.
  6. Add as much spinach as you’d like. When the spinach is wilted and cooked in, the dish is ready to serve.

In 2018 God said “No” to my career dreams, and I’m thankful

Somehow, here we are again, preparing our recipes for Thanksgiving dinner and ogling at Christmas lights being strung around trees and everything else (too early, bah humbug). This time of the year always has me wondering where the weeks went, where they’re heading and what I’ve learned. I’ve been a college graduate for about 11 months now, and my eventful first year of “adulting” is coming to an end soon. I moved into my first apartment, landed a (couple) job(s), and adopted a dog. I also met someone awesome and turned in my single-gal card after a long streak of guys who were emotionally unavailable and, you guessed it, not good for me. It’s been 11 months packed full of lessons and looking myself in the mirror and seeing Gods hands all over everything. I could take this in several directions, but I want to focus on the role God has played in my career since I’ve graduated.

I started interviewing for jobs in December 2017, a few weeks before graduation. The last three years of my college career I had decided that I would pursue a career in my lifelong passion: writing. Having landed an internship with a magazine a few summers before, continued developing my portfolio by freelancing for them, and having worked for the Alabama Press Association for a year and served as their journalism intern, I felt like I had good connections and a pretty OK resume. I interviewed for an entry level editorial position with a magazine (a dream first job for me) and was devastated when I got the email saying they would not be moving forward with my application.

This was God telling me no, I couldn’t have what I wanted. I didn’t like it.

I applied for countless other media positions without any feedback. The process was draining and disheartening. I changed my resume a thousand times, new formats, new descriptions, less descriptions… I began questioning everything: Should I have changed majors? Should I have done more in college? Did I ruin the interview? Should I go back to school? Somewhere in the middle of my frantic applying and worrying – I realized I hadn’t been praying or talking to God about anything I was doing. I started to pray for guidance, and peace of mind for whatever came my way.

Somewhere along the way, I applied for a position through a recruiting agency. A few days later, I got a call from a recruiter saying that I had an interview for a marketing assistant position with an insurance company. I was thrilled. The day after Christmas, my recruiter called to tell me they were offering me the position and they wanted me to start on January 4th. I felt like my prayers had been answered – this was my big opportunity.

The next 5 months were unfulfilling and trying. I found myself undertrained, underwhelmed, and unhappy with the work I was doing. My position was essentially a support role for two graphic designers and our workload was sparse – as needed. I wasn’t skilled in graphic design, so I could only assist with the very basic tasks, which included text input, creating some graphs in PowerPoint, spell checking, number checking, etc. I was starved creatively and productively. I felt trapped, because I wanted to do something else but I didn’t have a better option yet. In August, the decision was made for me. I received a call from my recruiter telling me that my assignment was ending the first week of June. There I was, beginning the job hunt all over again.

Right away, I began to pray: “God, please guide me, whatever path you lead me down, just place me somewhere where I can use my skills to make a difference.” I prayed this simple little prayer over and over again, until my heart opened up. I had to prepare for God to lead me. I had to accept wherever He placed me.

I interviewed for a staff writer position with a local newspaper. I felt really good about the interview, he seemed to like me, and he asked to read my samples and we talked about our mutual connections from the Alabama Press Association. I had become very familiar with newspapers during my time working there, and I was excited about the possibility of writing again. It seemed promising, but still, I kept my mind and heart open to all possibilities.

In an effort to explore all opportunities possible, I applied with another recruiting agency. Soon after, I was contacted by a different agency who found my resume and wanted to interview me for a Recruiter’s Assistant position. I was interested, but focused on other options.

I continued to pray. I had a new sense of calmness this time, and I was able to think more rationally and clearly. This time was different because I had decided to let God place me somewhere, instead of holding on so tightly to my dream of working in media. After working at the insurance company, I realized I would be happy in any position where I could reach people, and do something good. I would apply to as many opportunities as possible, open up my heart and mind, and let God decide where I should be.

After two weeks of waiting, I found out I didn’t get the newspaper job. I kept moving forward.

I went on about 3 different interviews from the second agency I applied with, and I didn’t feel like any of those were my “fit”. My recruiter called me after my third interview and asked how it went. “It went well,” I said, “but this wouldn’t be my first choice. I’m waiting to hear back from a few opportunities.” She asked what they were. “Oh! You’re interested in recruiting??,” she asked, after I told her about the assistant recruiter role. “Do you want to meet with me about recruiting for us?! We’re hiring.”

I met with her the next morning, and she offered me an Executive Recruiter position. I took it – and started the next week.

Since then, I have had the privilege of getting to know the other 8 women that recruit there, and they have welcomed me in graciously. I have grown professionally, as I am continuously building relationships with top-level Executives all over Alabama. I have met so many different kinds of people, and I have had the privilege of helping them in their career journeys. I would have never guessed I would get into recruiting, but God knew the impact this company and career would have on my life: professionally, socially, and personally. I am so glad He knows and sees far more than I ever could. This job has fulfilled me and made me a better person.

It is always hard when you work for something and dream for something and then you don’t get it. I spent almost my entire college career dreaming about working for a magazine. I wanted to move to Chicago, live in a tiny, dirty apartment in the city and write. I wanted to write to reach people, to entertain, to inspire, but more than that, I wanted to write because I love it. Writing has always been a me thing. And it makes perfect sense that God would tell me no and place me in a career where my job is to serve other people. I’ve been able to get people in front of employers who wouldn’t have looked twice at their resume, because I can say more than a piece of paper can about a person. I’ve served as a beacon of hope for people when they’ve gotten laid off after 15 years of loyalty and hard work and don’t know where to turn. I’ve served as a new perspective to employers who turn away candidates for one reason or another and then end up hiring that person. I’ve bridged gaps in communication when misunderstanding and human error gets in the way of opportunity. I’ve learned so much, and I’m excited to learn more. How incredibly humbling, that God said no to my dream, and placed me in a position to help other people find theirs.

I still love writing, obviously. I started my blog in hopes that it will serve as a platform that makes admitting “me too” comfortable and freeing. I would like to write more. I would like to reach people through my words and I will always need a creative outlet. But for now, I am thankful that God said no and planted me where He needed me, and where He knew I would grow.

Whether I stay in recruiting forever or find a career in media or elsewhere, I’ll leave that up to God. He seems to know better than I do, anyway.

I Put Gouda On My Pizza But I Swear I’m Not Boujee (The perfect recipe for your next night in)

Everyone has a list of things they want to do – near the top of mine was baking a pizza homemade, from scratch. Lately I’ve been riding a wave of this JustDoIt attitude (or maybe I’ve been riding a Nike swoosh?) and it’s been awesome. I tend to overthink situations or put things off until a “better time” comes up but lately I’ve been trying to find ways to just go for it – because I think that’s what you should do, and that’s the way I want to live my life. Last week, I did this on a small scale by saying whattheheckwhynot and stopped by the store to get some flour, and my favorite pizza toppings. I turned it into a party for two and we made some pizza dough and whipped up two medium sized pizzas. ANYWAY, these leftovers + an ice cold Stella are rocking my Sunday afternoon so I thought I’d share the recipe!

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Things you’ll need:

Unbleached All Purpose Flour

Active Dry Yeast

Olive Oil

Salt

Sugar

Butter (optional)

Seasonings (optional)

Any toppings and cheese you’d like!

A mixing bowl

A cooking tray

 

To start, you’ll need to mix 2 ¼ teaspoons of active dry yeast, 3 ½ to 4 cups of flour, 2 teaspoons of salt, and 2 teaspoons of sugar into a bowl. Mix 1.5 cups of lukewarm water and 2 tablespoons of olive oil into a cup and set aside. Once the mixture in the bowl is evenly mixed, make a small hole in the center of the mixture and pour the water and olive oil into it. We also added a garlic seasoning into the dough to add flavor (highly recommend). Once all the ingredients are in the bowl, stir until the mixture is fully combined. Next, use your hands to knead the dough together, tearing it and molding it together into a ball. You want it to be smooth and not too sticky. The next part is up to you – depending on how you want the crust to bake. If you want a thin crust pizza or if you’re pressed for time (or if you just don’t want to wait for the dough to rise) you can go ahead and start adding your toppings as soon as the dough is mixed! If you want a thicker, fluffier crust, you’ll need to let the dough rise. We chose the fluffier crust, so once the dough was mixed well, we rolled it into a ball and placed it in a bowl with a hot, wet rag over the top and set it outside on the porch (the humidity in AL apparently does wonders for rising dough).

We let it rise for about an hour, and then we brought it back inside to roll it out and start adding toppings. I bought a pesto marinara sauce to spread onto the dough, and we cut up southern style smoked sausage, fresh bell peppers, mushrooms, and cherry tomatoes. We used a mixture of Mozzarella and Colby Jack cheese, as well as some slices of baked gouda from the cheese & crackers appetizer we had been snacking on (highly recommend). Once the sauce and all the toppings and cheese were on the dough, we added extra cheese around the edges and folded them up to make cheesy crust, and then we buttered the edges as well (also highly recommend both). We baked the pizza for about 10 – 15 minutes on 400 degrees and it turned out perfect.

This is the perfect recipe for a date-night in or for a girls night in. For best results, share a bottle of wine and curl up to watch a movie while the dough rises. All you bakers and foodies out there – let me know your favorite pizza recipes or topping combinations! I want to know!

Taylor Swift Made Me Boy Crazy & Other Lies We Tell Ourselves (A Response to “Here’s What You Need To Realize If Your Ex Moved On Quickly”)

For as long as I can remember I’ve always believed in the kind of love that I’ve seen in movies, that I’ve seen in my parents’ marriage, and that I’ve read about in the Bible. I believe in the whole nine yards: friendship, respect, passion, compatibility, trust, agreeing on pizza toppings, and turning the tv and fan off at bedtime (lol plz).

Recently one of my besties live Snap-chatted a reading of my junior high school journal. Almost every entry began with “I was dating *insert boy I barely remember* but now I’m dating *insert another boy I don’t remember*”. We were entertained for hours and her Snapchat friends probably hate her (and me). It was silly and frivolous and I don’t know why I was so boy crazy, but then again that was around the same time Taylor Swift’s debut album came out -and if we are all honest with ourselves- it had every 14 year old girl shook. 

My boy-crazed tendencies weren’t confined to the pages of my journal – I wrote poetry and short stories centering around relationships, I watched Disney princess movies over and over, and I had extensive check lists for whatever lucky guy would be my “happy ending” (think Zac Efron, High School Musical). From a young age I had unrealistic ideas about how this was going to go down, and I wanted something that I hadn’t even begun to understand yet. But more than anything else, the scribblings in my journal are special to me, because they are some of the only things I have left of the little girl I used to be. They remind me of how much I’ve learned, and how much I still don’t know.

Despite the suggested promiscuity in my journal entries, there have only been three relationships that matured enough to carry any weight in my dating life. All three ended with the guy pursuing another girl almost immediately (on two occasions, simultaneously). I don’t know if you’ve ever been cheated on, or if you’ve ever been broken up with and then replaced almost instantly – but the feelings are pretty similar. Sadness. Betrayal. Confusion. Hurt. Anger. It’s a lot to process at one time, and fellas this is why you might remember some of your exes being “crazy” lol. Emotions are really powerful!

I read an article recently about “What You Need To Realize If Your Ex Moved On Quickly” and I want to share a few of my thoughts. The bulk of the article focuses on how people usually jump into relationships for the wrong reasons right after a breakup anyway and how, as the dumpee in this situation, you shouldn’t feel “forgotten” just yet. They haven’t forgotten about you, they’re just coping with the breakup in their own way. As comforting as this idea may be to someone recovering from a break up, I would like to offer a different outlook.

I was dumped over a text message by the guy I thought I was going to marry. We had plane tickets to California, a trip to New Orleans on the calendar, and I was going to dinner with his family the next night. None of this stopped him from sending me a text that would end our relationship. Nothing about our past, our plans, or our experiences together was going to change his mind. None of it stopped him from taking someone new on a date, only a few weeks afterward.

I had never felt as betrayed and confused in my entire life, and the truth is, I had been betrayed. I was forgotten by the person who spent so many months convincing me that I would never feel that way. I would argue that allowing yourself to believe any other version of the truth in this situation is dangerous. It doesn’t matter if he was dating someone new to “cope” or if he had really found his true soul mate – what matters is that he chose to do something he told me he would never do. He left. And not only that, but he was able to move on to someone else so soon. If he was able to do that, I finally realized that I didn’t want to know what would have happened if we had stayed together. Realizing this and taking his actions at face value is what allowed me to move on.

Relationships are weird and hard and they can get messy. I’ve learned a lot from mine and I chose to share all of this because I know that it’s something a lot of people deal with. My advice to anyone going through a break up, reading into what they’re doing, what they’ve said or who they’re with – let yourself be sad, angry, confused. Talk it out with your friends until they can’t stand it anymore. Cry until you don’t want to cry anymore. And then let their actions paint a new picture of who they are to you now, because at this point, that’s the only truth that matters.

I have no hard feelings toward that guy, or the other two guys from the relationships I mentioned. If I’m being honest, those relationships were going to end whether it happened when it did or later down the road – we weren’t right for each other and God has better plans for all of us. And also, if I’m being honest, I was boy crazy long before Taylor’s album came out.

If you (yes, YOU) ever need someone to confide in, I’m your girl.

Xx Kayla

My 5 Favorite Self-Care Practices For When Life Gets Icky

As far as self-care goes, it’s been a rough month for me. My temporary job ended unexpectedly, without warning, two months before the agreed end date. So, at the beginning of June I frantically jumped back into the job hunting game and it’s been an emotional whirlwind, to say the least. I’ve gone from regretting my degree and ultimately, my whole career path, to sudden bursts of energy at the call for an interview, only to receive a “we really liked you, but chose someone with a little more experience. We will keep you in mind”. As thoughtful as the gesture may be, that response can be maddening.

 

To be honest I haven’t done the best job at taking care of myself during this moment of my life, and it’s been bad for more aspects of my life than one. But when I have taken the time to slow down and check in with myself, it’s made a world of difference for my mental and physical wellbeing and ultimately, for my situation and relationships. If you find yourself in similar mindsets or situations, try these 5 self-care practices below that always help me.

 

 

Clear Your Calendar

If you’re anything like me, you might overcommit sometimes to people and events without considering what you need, or thinking about your schedule. I had to learn to get comfortable with not telling people yes right away, and here’s what I’ve learned: they appreciate it more than a false yes, and it makes you feel better in the end. Instead of saying yes right away, or even maybe, just say that you aren’t sure what you have going on yet, and you’ll let them know. That way, the ball is in your court and they are already expecting that you might not come. On the same note, if you have already committed to something and need to sit this one out, please do that. You are in charge of your schedule, and you are the only person that can manage your wellbeing. No event or person is worth compromising that for.

 

 

Treat Yourself

I have found that certain treats or “extras” go a long way in boosting my mood and overall mental state. For me, this can be a good beer at the end of a long day or an ice cream cone from McDonalds. This can be something like getting your nails done, eating a snickers bar or buying flowers for your place. Basically, just a small pick-me-up that can remind you to take a moment to appreciate the little things you love.

 

 

Get Outside

I have always personally felt most peaceful when I’m outside, but studies have shown that nature provides significant improvements to mental health. This interesting article can tell you more sciencey things about it. Something about my bare feet in the grass, listening to the birds talking, and witnessing nature existing, totally uninfluenced – makes me feel like maybe I am okay, after all. Nature reminds me that I am connected to all of its wonder and beauty, and it reminds me that I belong. I recommend taking a short hike, or walking through a trail because I always feel best when I get moving, too.

 

 

Get On A Yoga Mat (I Know – Just Do It)

I just mentioned this, but moving is very important in order to feel good. It isn’t always easy to convince myself to go to the gym, so I usually settle for the air-conditioned space in my bedroom floor where my yoga mat goes. I usually use “Yoga By Adriene” vidoes on YouTube. She has hundreds of different practices recorded and they are very easy to follow and many of them are perfect for beginners. At the end of particularly hard or draining days (and sometimes just because) I love taking my “longer” bedtime routine. I’ll take a long hot shower, wash my face, moisturize, and settle into my sleepiness and then do Adriene’s bedtime yoga practice. It’s about 15 minutes and makes for some DADGUM GOOD sleep.

 

 

Watch A Good Movie

I always love a good movie, but I especially love them when I’m feeling overwhelmed with my own life and situation. That sounds depressing, but I usually finish the movie with a new perspective or a gained insight to my own situation that I hadn’t considered before. Other people’s stories often do that – they can inspire you! (Sometimes I get a good, long sob-cry in and that can help, too LOL) Some of my trusted, tried-and-true movie choices are Breakfast at Tiffany’s, Eat Pray Love, Wild, and The Devil Wears Prada.

 

 

There’s nothing wrong with making yourself a priority, and in fact, if you don’t take care of yourself first, you won’t be able to take care of anything else – that includes your relationships. Everything in our lives stems from our ability to sustain them, and that means we need to be in our best shape. We owe it to ourselves, and our loved ones, to be the best, happiest version of ourselves.

 

I want to know! — What do you do to take care of yourself?

How To Cook The Perfect Over-Medium Egg For This Trendy Breakfast Toast

I realize this exact breakfast is on every foodie Instagram’s page and you’ve probably seen it everywhere because it’s so ~trendy~ but I’m focusing largely on the fact that I literally just learned how to cook the perfect over medium egg – so, cooking newbies: YOU ARE WELCOME HERE. This breakfast is really simple and really tasty, and after reading this you’ll know how to cook an over-medium egg which can be added to a lot of dishes – cheeseburgers, steak, BLT, etc.

Things you need for this meal:

1 Egg

1 Avocado

1 Slice of Bread

Butter (optional)

Fruit of your choice (optional)

1 Glass bowl

Frying pan

 

Now, on to the foods and the things. One of the most important things I’ve learned in cooking anything is timing – you have to prepare everything at the right time and pace to keep the cooking process on track. The first thing I did for this meal is start the toast. For some reason my parents don’t own a toaster (one of the many confusions I have with them) so I popped two pieces of 2-grain bread onto a cooking tray with some butter and heated the oven to 350 degrees. While the oven was pre-heating, I went ahead and cut the avocado in half, and cracked an egg into a glass bowl. I don’t know why you have to crack the egg into a glass bowl but it seemed important to the recipe I read, and it worked so we’ll trust it.

While the oven was still preheating, I took that time to pour myself another cup of coffee and turn on some Jesus tunes, because, Monday. I also began preparing the frying pan for the egg. I sprayed it with some non-stick spray and turned the stovetop on at a medium heat level. The oven was ready almost immediately after I prepped the frying pan, so I put the tray on the top shelf and moved onto the egg.

Now, this is the important part. The first step is transferring the egg from the glass bowl into the frying pan, without breaking the yolk. Once it is in the pan, let it sit for about two minutes or so, until the underneath turns white. I let it sit for about 3 minutes. Then, once the underneath is mostly white, pour roughly 1/4 cup of water around all the edges of the egg. Then, cover the pan immediately. All you have to do next is wait for the center to cook to your liking. I like for my center to be soft but solid, (like the photo below) so I let it sit for about 3 or 4 minutes. You can gently touch the center to test softness, but keep it covered.

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Back to the toast, I let it cook for about 5 – 6 minutes before taking it out, not long at all. Once the egg is cooked the way you like it, turn the stovetop off. This is when I spooned out the avocado, only one half, and mashed it in a bowl with salt and pepper. Once I had a spreadable avocado mixture, I spread it over the toast. Then I sprinkled some salt and pepper over the egg, and placed it on top of the toast. I cut slices of banana and added them to my plate at the end. Do y’all have a favorite breakfast dish? I want to know what it is!