Tuesday, May 22, 2012

Mexican Chicken Casserole

There's no question, I love Mexican food. I think I could rotate tacos, fajitas, pollo loco, this casserole and other recipes on our weekly menu and be as Phil says, "happy, happy, happy." However, I don't think my husband or kids would feel the same. The other day I posted our weekly meal plan and said I would post this recipe, so here it is. This is one of my most favorite dishes. I love it because it's so quick and easy and so yummy.
Mexican Chicken Casserole
(Photo from: http://nummynumnum.wordpress.com/2011/02/16/Mexican-chicken-casserole/)
I forgot to take my own picture, but this is pretty accurate.
2 Cans Chicken or 1 cup cooked chicken, shredded
Flour Tortillas
1 Can Rotel
2 Cans Cream of Chicken Soup
Shredded Cheese, Mexican Blend

1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
2. Mix chicken, rotel and cream of chicken soup in a bowl.
3. Shred tortillas and line bottom of 9x13 baking dish
4. Spoon chicken mixture onto tortillas
5. Shred tortillas and top mixture
6. Sprinkle cheese on top of tortillas
7. Bake for 30 minutes.

Monday, May 14, 2012

Mother's Day Weekend

Our weekend started off at the lake. We went up to my parent's trailer and the kids had a blast.
Olivia's favorite thing to do is "dig" and "throw rocks in the water." They had a time let me tell you.
I guess she got a little tired and needed a break. lol.
(Sorry for the blurry picture)
Owen has a slight obsession with putting on my parent's reading glasses and wearing them. He's just so cute with them on though. And because she's such a ham....

Our lake trip was ended short because we had things to do around the house Saturday, so we came home Saturday morning. Saturday evening was the highlight of my Mother's Day weekend. Ben kept Owen and my mom, Olivia and I all went shopping. Olivia was a little trooper. I can't explain how much I enjoy spending time with my mom and my daughter. It's something that I'm forever grateful for. We had a big time. For some reason or another I didn't get a picture of all three of us, but here's Olivia while we were eating.
She shopped until she dropped.
Then Sunday we went to church. I came home with a load of stuff. My mom had got a candle for me (from the kids) and then I got roses (from the kid's in children's church) and then I had made some homemade sugar scrub for all the mommas so I got that too. Ben gave me a card and the day off. ;) I did, however, make Potato Soup (his favorite), but other than that I got to enjoy a day of "coupon shopping" (as I like to call it) all by myself. To some I'm sure that sound awful, but I love it and I find it fun so I really enjoyed it. Then Sunday night we went over to my Grandparent's house and ate dinner with them. However, our time there was cut short because Owen developed a terrible rash on the outside of his diaper on his legs. He was screaming and in pain, so we came home and doctored him up. I guess that's what Mommas are for though, to be there and take care our their kids when they need us.
All in all I had a great Mother's Day weekend. I'm very blessed with my own two kids who call me mom, but then I'm blessed with an amazing woman who I call Mom. My mom truly is my best friend. She's cheers for me when I'm happy and she picks me up when I'm sad. She encompasses everything a Godly woman should. She's probably spent more time on her knees in prayer for me then I'll ever know, but I'm so grateful and so blessed with such an amazing Godly mother and also a great Godly Mother-in-Law. I love them both.
Happy Mother's Day!

Weekly Meal Plan ~ 5/14/12 -- 5/20/12

This week is all about keeping my groceries under budget and I did just that! I allot $75 per week for our groceries and this week I spent $63.27! This is for an entire week of groceries!! If you haven't started meal planning yet, give it a try. It's amazing how much money you will save. I used to spend anywhere from $100-150 a WEEK in groceries and now I've cut that by half!
Here is my meal plan for this week:
Monday: Baked Ziti, Salad, Garlic Bread
Tuesday: Spicy Tomato Soup & Grilled Cheese (Sometimes I add the beans and pasta in this soup and sometimes I don't. It's good either way)
Wednesday: Grilled Chicken, Baked Potato & Sauteed Squash & Zucchini from the garden
Thursday: Mexican Chicken Casserole (I'll try to post this recipe later this week. So easy & so good)
Friday: Sloppy Joes
Saturday: Chow Mein (I'll also post this recipe later this week. It's also very easy & budget friendly)
Sunday: Roast, Pinto Beans & Cornbread (I cook my roast & my beans in my crock-pots. This is also a very easy meal to throw together. I love crock-pot meals on Sundays because I can put them on before church and come home to dinner).

I didn't post breakfast & lunch this week because we hardly ever follow "the plan." But here's what we rotate and eat:
Breakfast: Oatmeal & Toast, Pancakes, Biscuit & Gravy, Toast & Scrambled Egg, Bacon Biscuit, Muffins, Cinnamon Rolls & Fruit.
Lunch: Mac & Cheese, Soup, Fish Sticks, Chicken Nuggets, Hot dogs, Left overs, PB&J.
Snacks: Fruit, Gold Fish, Smoothies, Cereal.

Here's my grocery list:
Spaghetti Sauce, Chicken Breasts (I buy the bagged frozen chicken breasts at Wal-Mart, $6.98. Depending on how much chicken we eat during the week it will usually last for about a week and a half), Chuck Roast, Potatoes, Carrots, Hot dogs, Sweet potatoes, Manwich, Italian Sausage, Cheese, Garlic cloves, Bacon, Apple Juice, Milk 2% & Whole, Sour Cream, Sugar, Drinks (I have to have my caffeine especially in the mornings & this week I bought four 2 liters for $2.00 at Wal-greens using coupons), Orange Juice & Popcorn. Everything else such as the Garlic Bread, pasta, beans, etc. I already had on hand so I didn't have to buy those.
This week I shopped at Save A Lot, Wal-Mart & Walgreen's. I know everyone doesn't have time to go to all three places so this isn't the most practical idea, but when I go grocery shopping & as I call it "coupon shopping," I don't take the kids with me so it's kind of like my free time. I like to go and see how much stuff I can get for pennies on the dollar. lol. So even if you can't or won't go to three different stores, you can still save a ton of money just by planning out your meals. I hope you give it a try.

Thursday, May 10, 2012

Thirfty Thursday ~ Banana Cupcakes with Chocolate Buttercream Frosting

I usually post DIY products on Thursdays, but today is an exception. I'm still being thrifty, but I'm cooking instead of making up some concoction like laundry detergent. I had some bananas that were ripe and needed to be used or pitched. Since I didn't want to throw something away that I spent money on this recipe was born.
The Best Cupcake EVER... Banana Cupcakes ... You will want to make these.
2-3 Ripe Bananas, 1 cup All Purpose Flour, 1/8 tsp. Salt, 1/4 tsp. Baking Powder, 1/4 tsp. Baking Soda, 2 large eggs, 1/2 cup Sugar, 1 Stick Softened Unsalted Butter, 1 tsp. Vanilla, 1/4 cup Sour Cream.
1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees and line 12 muffin tins with cupcake liners.
2. In a small bowl. Smash & Mix bananas. Set aside.
2. Mix Flour, Salt, Baking Powder and Baking Soda together in a bowl and set aside.
3. Cream Butter and Sugar together. Add Sour cream and vanilla. Mix together. 
4. Add in eggs. Mix together. Slowly add in dry ingredients. Mix.
5. Add in Smashed Bananas. Mix together.
6. Pour batter into cupcakes liners and bake for 20 minutes or until toothpick comes out clean.
Chocolate Buttercream Frosting
4 Tablespoons of Whipping Cream, 1 Stick softened Butter, 2 Cups powdered Sugar, 1/4 cup Cocoa Powder, 1 tsp. Vanilla.
1. In a bowl cream butter.
2. Add powdered Sugar and Cocoa Powder, mix on low.
3. When mixture is combined, add vanilla and whipping cream. Mix together.
If mixture is too thick add a little more whipping cream. If it's too thin add a little more powdered sugar until you get your desired consistency.
Here's the finished product with a couple bites taken out of it. ;-)
They are so good. I honestly think it's the best cupcake I've ever made. They're very moist and the frosting with the banana is just delish! So, if you've got ripe bananas laying around you can make some really good cupcakes! 

Tuesday, May 8, 2012

Coupon Extravaganza!

I recently got back into couponing and I couldn’t be happier. I know I posted yesterday about my grocery budget only being $75.00 per week, but on top of that I also budget $20 a week for couponing. This covers my weekly papers ($4.00) and gives me money left over to purchase items that happen to go on sale. I used to have a pretty decent size stock-pile and now it's dwindled away, so this $20 (well $16 after paper costs) lets me stock my stock-pile. I also try to budget $10 a week for diapers. So with that being said, I went to CVS today and here’s the break-down.
Transaction 1. Two Packages of Huggies Little Mover Diapers ($10.00/pkg.), One package of Huggies 148 ct. wipes ($6.00/pkg.). I had $1.50 ECB (Extra Care Bucks) left over from a previous transaction and then I used a $2.00 off diaper coupon and a $1.00 off wipes coupon. The total for this transaction was $22.97. I received $10 in ECBs.
Transaction 2. Three Boxes of Cereal. Lucky Charms, Cinnamon Toast Crunch & Cookie Crisp and one roll of Bounty Paper Towels. The cereal was buy 3 boxes for $9.00 and receive $4.00 ECB. I used a $1.00/3 boxes of cereal and I used a $0.25/1 roll of paper towels. I paid with my $10 ECBs. My total OOP (out of pocket) was $0.58.
Transaction 3. Children’s Allegra $9.99. I used a $2.00 off coupon and I used my $4.00 ECBs from transaction two. My total OOP was $4.59 and I received $4.99 in ECBs.
Transaction 4. One gallon of milk ($2.99) and 5 cans of Campbell’s Chicken Noodle Soup (0.69/can). I used a $1.00/5 cans of soup and then I used my $4.99 in ECBs. My total OOP was $0.45.
(Here's a pic of everything I bought)
My TOTAL OOP was: $28.59 for a total savings of $67.82! A 70% savings!!

Monday, May 7, 2012

Weekly Meal Plan ~ 5/7-5/13

It's the start of another week and while I usually make my meal plans out from Saturday-Saturday this weekend we were way too busy, so my meal plan for this week is Monday thru Sunday. My goal is to only spend $75 a week to feed our little family of four- this includes breakfast, lunch, dinner and snacks. This is my first week to lower our budget to $75. Before I was trying to keep our grocery budget below $100 per week. I did pretty good considering it was my first week with our new budget. I spent $80.24. So I was a few dollars over budget, but all in all I'm pretty happy to keep our cost that low. Like I said it's for an entire week and it includes all of our meals. It even includes STEAK! :-) 
Last week there was a couple of times we ended up eating over at my parents house, so the meals that I had planned last week I just moved over to this week. (I hope this makes sense).
Meal Plan ~ 5-7-12 -- 5/13/12:
Monday: B: biscuit and gravy L: Grilled Cheese D: Cracker Barrell Chicken Tenders, Sauteed Veggies, Baked Potatoes & Peanut Butter Chocolate Chip Cake with Chocolate-Peanut Butter Ganache
Tuesday: B: Cinnamon Rolls L: Chicken Nuggs (as Olivia calls them) D: Tacos with all the fixins'
Wednesday: B: Toast & Scrambled Egg L: Mac & Cheese D: Grilled Pork Chops, Grilled Cabbage & Crescent Rolls
Thursday: B: Pancakes L: Ham Sandwich D: Orange Chicken Skillet
Friday: B: Oatmeal L: Fish Sticks D: Spaghetti, Salad & Garlic Bread
Saturday: B: Muffins L: Soup D: Steak Kabobs, Sauteed squash & Baked Potato
Sunday: B: Eggo L: Crock Pot Potato Soup  & Strawberry Lemon BarsD: Left overs
For the kids snacks I rotate fruit, smoothies, yogurt, granola bars, cookies, crackers, cheerios. I don't know about you, but my kids are bottomless pits! I believe they could eat all day everyday.

I've had a couple people ask me how to get started meal planning... 
First, there's no right or way to meal plan. Some just plan out dinner. Some only plan during the week and then leave the weekend open to eating out. You can do it however you want, but this is how I make out our meal plans.
Initially when I started meal planning I made out a list that includes our most favorite recipes. Then I went through my cookbooks and looked on Pinterest and other websites and wrote down several more recipes. You will want to have a decent list to start with that way your not eating the same thing every week. Now on Saturdays (usually), I get out my list and start making out my plan. Sometimes it comes easier than others. After I decide what we're going to eat for that coming week, I make out my grocery list. Afterwards I look through my pantry and mark out what I already have on hand. (This also helps keep our grocery budget down). Then I go grocery shopping. It takes some time and a little planning, but it's saved us a ton of money! It's not only saved us from eating out all the time which can get very expensive, but it's also kept me from buying random junk at the store. Like I said, I'm hoping to keep our grocery budget to $75 per week. I think that's pretty reasonable for feeding a family of four for only $300 per month.


We have been busy little bees around here. This weekend is a complete blur to me. The past couple of weeks we've been gearing up for our church yard sale and Saturday was the big day. It went really well! We still have lots of stuff to sale, but we sold a ton of stuff too. Just from that alone, I'm exhausted!
I think the kids are a little worn out from it too. lol! Owen has recently fell in love with Olivia's Olivia chair. He always wants to sit in it. I'm going to have to find him a Cars chair.
Other than the yard sale, it was business as usual around here. Olivia running around keeping us entertained. :-) She's really getting a little personality. She's so much fun to be around. She's always making us laugh. This is her scary/silly face.
Friday while we were running around getting stuff ready for the yard sale we had to make a trip to Burger King. I thought Owen looked adorable with his little crown on. They both liked playing in the play area. Olivia actually climbed up to the top which I couldn't believe.
We had a fun, but busy weekend. We're looking forward to some rest and relaxation this week. I hope you had a great weekend too!

Thursday, May 3, 2012

Thirty Thursday ~ DIY Fabric Softener

I found this DIY recipe here. It was a starting point for me, but I tweaked it a bit because it seemed to work a little better. You will first need: 
6 Cups of Hot Water, 1&1/2 cups White Vinegar & 1 bottle Suave Conditioner (your favorite scent). I used Lavendar.
Pour your hot water and bottle of conditioner into a small pot. Bring to a boil and stir until competely dissolved. On The Frugal Girls site they just mixed everything together until it dissolved, but I found that if you boil your water and conditioner together first it mixes better.
Stir in your vinegar. Mix well.
Pour into empty fabric softener bottle or milk jug or whatever you have on hand. Use 2 tablespoons per load during rinse cycle or pour into your downey ball and throw in the machine. I've been using this fabric softener for a few weeks now and I really like it. Plus it's so easy to make and so much cheaper then buying it in the store. I think the conditioner cost $0.98 and I had the vinegar and water on hand. So for an average price I'd say maybe $1.50-2.00!! You can't beat that for fabric softener. Let me know if you give it a try.
Happy Thursday!

Wednesday, May 2, 2012

Party Chicken

It's no secret that I'm addicted to Pinterest!! I LOVE IT!! At night when Ben and I are watching TV, I'm usually half watching and pinning things at the same time. Who said I can't multi-task? lol! One of my favorite things on Pinterest is all the recipes! I blogged about our meal planning here and I said I would post the recipe to the "Party Chicken" so here it goes.
Unfortunately the pin that I pinned (crazy verbiage) did not link me to the actual site (I hope that makes sense). So here's my version of Party Chicken:
Chicken Breast, cut into tenders or pre-cut Chicken Tenders (not breaded)
1 can Cream of Chicken
1 cup Sour Cream
1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees
2. Wrap Chicken tenders with bacon. If the chicken tenders are small cut the bacon in half and wrap it around the chicken
3. Place bacon wrapped chicken in a 9x13 dish
4. Mix sour cream and cream of chicken in a bowl
5. Pour over chicken
6. Bake for 30-40 minutes or until chicken is done
7. Enjoy
(I forgot to take a picture of the chicken until I had almost ate it all, but here it is along with a biscuit and fried okra. Delish.)
The chicken is so good. It's tender and with the bacon... YUMMY!! It's probably one of my favorite meals that I've pinned. We will definitely be adding it to our favorite recipes and meal plan.

Tuesday, May 1, 2012

It's Potty Time!

Potty training has officially started around our house and I couldn't be more excited. It may just be me, but do you have those times when you start to doubt yourself as a parent? When it came to potty training that's how I felt. As soon as Olivia turned two people were telling me, "it's time for her to start using the potty." So since these were seasoned parents that were telling me this, I tried to start getting Olivia to use the potty. It was AWFUL!!! She would scream and cry every time I set her on the potty. We bought all the fun potty chairs, the one that sings, the one that has the comfy seat, one that goes on the toilet. Everything that we tried she hated! Too stressed and ready to throw in the towel, I started reading online about how your not supposed to push your child. They will give you cues letting you know when their ready to go to the potty. So, it's been almost six months since Olivia turned two and just over the weekend she started showing interest in the potty!! YAY!!! Yesterday was her first day to pee in the potty. I was so excited! Someone posted on my Facebook page, "it's the small things." That's so true. Olivia peeing in the potty wasn't just that she was peeing in the potty, but to me, it confirmed that I'm not an ill fit parent and that with enough guidance and prayer, we'll get through this too. :) Obviously I don't have all the answers. I'm usually the one with all the questions, but here's what's worked for us so far.
She loves her Dora potty seat. It goes on the regular toilet. I figured she'd rather use her singing potty chair, but nope, she likes this one the best.
It's all about the "praise" around here and this chart does just that. I found this potty chart idea and made it my own. I love the free printables that they have, but I didn't have any foam board around the house, so I just pieced card stock paper together and went from there. I love the way it turned out and it's been a huge hit! I take Olivia to the potty every 15 minutes. (I'm hoping to add 5 minutes more a day or every two days so tomorrow it will be every 20 minutes. Yesterday it was every 10 minutes). When she "gives it a try" she gets to put a pair of panties on her chart. When she pees in the potty she gets to put a pair of panties on the chart and so on.
I also have a bag of goodies. (Mainly items for the dollar store). When she pees in the potty she gets to pick an item from the goodie bag. If she has an accident in her panties then she has to give me her item back and then when she pees in the potty again she gets her toy back and so on. So far this has worked great too. I don't plan on giving her "treats" forever, but probably for the first week she will get a prize. I'm so proud of her. :)
Here's the end result. Pure bliss. She's been so proud of herself too. When she gets done she will jump up and down and clap and say, "I did it, I did it." It's so sweet! Life with toddlers is definitely about the small things. If you're in the midst of potty training and it's not working, take a break. Who cares what everyone says. That's what we did and now she's done it in her own time and she's so excited about it. If you've had luck with potty training what did you do that made potty training such a success? I'd love to hear about it.