Every January, the Southern Weddings gals sit down and come up with a list of team goals for the year. One of our most important goals for 2014 was to create a space in the SW world for our married readers. There are a lot of y’all! We love that you’ve stuck around past your own I do’s, and want to honor that. We had no interest in starting a spin-off site, though — given our mission, including content in our mix for newlyweds just makes sense. After all, we adore weddings, but we adore life after the wedding, too.
We are very delighted to say that Fridays are the new home of the Southern Newlywed column (there’s a new category for these posts, too!). Regular weddings content will continue Monday-Thursday (and most Saturdays and Sundays!), but at the end of the week you can expect to find inspiration for life as a newlywed, straight from the hearts and homes of some of our favorite Southern couples. We are already giddy with excitement over our upcoming features, and hope you love them as much as we do! Most especially, we hope that you’ll find our Newlywed posts have the same heartbeat as the rest of our content – and that they help in the lifelong journey of building a marriage more beautiful than your wedding.
But on to today’s post! Y’all already know our dear Kristin, but we figured there was no one better to kick off our “in the kitchen” posts than this prize-winning baker and all-around lovable gal. Big hugs to Laura’s Focus for these sweet photos!
By day: Kyle loves colleges sports and does sales and marketing for Virginia Teach Athletics (Go Hokies!). Kristin loves marriage and does sales and client relations for a wedding magazine (Go Southern Weddings!).
How they met: We met during our fall semester of college in Chapel Hill. During the first few weeks, we exchanged pleasantries before, during, and after class. Fast-forward to early October. I needed someone for my sorority grab-a-date function and thought I might ask Kyle (after some serious advance research and networking through connected friends). Unknowingly, I had caught Kyle’s eye on the first day of classes so when I asked, he said yes. The rest is history (a long, juicy, marvelous kind of history that I will happily tell you over coffee, just ask). You can read more on his side of the story here.
Their wedding: It was the most lovely, heart-filled day. We got to celebrate with the people that mean the world to us, and we got to eat Thanksgiving dinner in June (I was like a pig in slop). Even with scorching summer temperatures, and temporarily losing the departure candles, it was the most perfect weekend filled with what mattered most to us — family, faith and fun! Oh, and it all took place smack dab in the middle of Chapel Hill, which is one of my most favorite places on the planet. You can see some of our favorite photos here.
Meal planning: We sit down on Sunday afternoon and I meal plan. Wonderful Nicole made my messy notes into a printable – download three versions here. I ask Kyle for feedback on anything he is in the mood for, and I also use the weekly grocery sales flyer to help me make decisions. We have a few go-to meals that make the rotation each week to reduce the stress of having to come up with 5+ new suppers (I tried this during our first few months of marriage and it eventually wore me out).
Admittedly, I love to cook, but I am cautious with trying no more than two new recipes each week, depending on how much available ‘free time’ I have in the evening. I try to go to the grocery on Sundays and then once during the middle of the week to pick up fresh bananas, fish, and milk, as needed. Because of our schedules and commitments, meal planning is a must, otherwise we would eat cereal for supper at 9:00 every night. It gives us a roadmap for the week, as well as the ability to detour when something unexpected happens. It also helps protect regular meals at the table, which are incredibly important to us.
The cooking: I love to cook, so I take responsibility for this “chore” most nights. Kyle is a great sous-chef when I need a little help getting supper on the table (see: salad prep, setting the table, drinks, etc.).
Favorite meal-related memory: After dating long distance for nearly six years, I don’t take the chance to eat together at our dinner table during the week for granted. However, if I had to pick, I think my favorite “meal-related” memories involve birthdays. Growing up, during your birthday week, you got to pick out your favorite meals and mama made them (she can cook circles around me). We have brought this tradition over into our little family — celebrating with our most favorite foods and meals during the given birthday week each year!
Favorite meal-related disaster: I tried a new recipe and didn’t pay attention and added way too much spice. The results were inedible. Kyle tried to choke it down, but after a few bites, he gave up. We threw the meal in the garbage, opened a bottle of wine, and waited on the pizza delivery man (definition of a detour).
Top ten favorite recipes:
1. Heidi Swanson’s Baked Oatmeal: This recipe reheats great and will last for a few days — you can even make ahead on Sunday and reheat a serving each morning. You can get creative with fruit — use whatever is in season/fresh/available. I love to make it with with blackberries, peaches or raspberries. I also like to mix the oat mixture and milk mixture together before adding to the baking dish because I think it blends better and cooks more evenly.
2. Roasted Cauliflower and Aged White Cheddar Soup: My favorite soup, EVER. It is delicious, and similar to potato soup (disclaimer, it does still have a cauliflower flavor so you must like cauliflower). We eat it at lunch, but it can also be served for supper with paninis or a big salad.
3. Roast Vegetables: This is the only way I eat cooked carrots. We love to roast vegetables in the oven. Chop everything ahead of time to reduce prep time. Great with grilled fish or grilled chicken for an easy (healthy) supper.
4. Brussels Sprouts with Balsamic and Cranberries: One of our 2013 goals was to try one new food each month, and as a result, we fell in love with roasted brussels sprouts. We probably have them once a week. We roast and eat them plain, with fresh squeezed lemon, or with just straight balsamic when they come out of the oven (I don’t make the PW recommended syrup).
5. and 6. Crock Pot Santa Fe Chicken and Embarrassingly Easy Crock Pot Salsa Chicken Thighs: With our busy schedules, crock pot meals are a lifesaver. These two variations of Mexican chicken make a regular appearance at our dinner table: over rice, on salad, in soup, in tacos, etc. The shredded chicken freezes and reheats really well for those nights when you need supper in a pinch!
7. Chicken Rollatini with Spinach Alla Parmigiana: Easy Italian and the leftovers can be frozen? Yes, please! I love that you can make the filling ahead of time, buy the thin-cut chicken, and prepare dinner in a matter of moments. I serve this stuffed chicken with a big garden salad and some homemade garlic bread.
8. Black Bean Cakes: The actual restaurant recipe for my favorite dish at Lucky 32? I almost passed out when I stumbled across this recipe online. These are remarkable — great with roasted sweet potatoes and a green vegetable for a meatless meal. They can also be flash frozen before being cooked for future meals!
9. Honey Lime Chicken Enchiladas: Can you tell I love Mexican food? I also love recipes that can use similar ingredients in different ways (hello, crock pot shredded chicken) or can utilize my favorite ‘semi-homemade’ rotisserie chicken from the grocery.
10. Salted Chocolate Chip and Sour Cherry Cookies: This recipe took the crown last year during my family’s annual cookie competition. I am a big fan of simple desserts — chocolate chip cookies, Rice Krispie treats, preacher cookies — but this Salted Cherry Chocolate Chip cookie is prize-winning and sure to be a crowd pleaser!
In honor of our Southern Newlywed kick-off, we’re giving away a copy of The Newlywed Cookbook! Someone gave this book to John and I during our engagement, and it’s turned out to be one of our favorites – it’s very thoughtfully done, and both realistic and adventurous, a tricky combination to pull off! Enter to win a copy using the Rafflecopter widget below – we’ll choose a winner next Friday.
a Rafflecopter giveaway
Last but certainly not least: We have great things in the works for this column, but we’d love your help! Our hope is to feature REAL couples in the South – not just folks who write blogs (though we love them, too!), but also, your inspiring friend, super talented cousin, or neighbor with the cutest house – the kind of person everyone would love to “e-meet.” If that sounds like you or someone you know, take a peek at our Southern Newlywed submission page and shoot us an email!
Until next week, friends!