Sunday, July 27, 2014

Meal Plan!

Here's the meal plan for the week!
Make sure to check the "staples" area to be sure you have everything you need!

And just FYI, most weeks you will notice I only schedule 4 planned meals - that is because we never know what the weekend will entail and there's always at least one day when we eat leftovers and one day when we will eat Moe's or another take-out place! So that's my reason for only 4 meals! Hope it helps someone anyway!

CrOcKpOt CiLaNtRo LiMe ChiCkeN NacHoS
Recipe can be found H E R E !
(The link is a recipe for tacos but we are going to do nachos instead.)

RaVioLi BaKe 
served with salad and garlic bread
{Recipe is from H E R E.}

1 bag frozen ravioli
1 jar marinara
2 cups mozzarella cheese
parmesan cheese for topping

Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Spray 13x9" pan. Spread 3/4 cup marinara into baking pan. Arrange half the frozen ravioli in single layer over the sauce. Top with half remaining sauce, then half the mozzarella. Repeat the layers. Top with parmesan cheese. Cover and bake for 30 minutes. Remove foil, bake 10-15 more minutes until bubbly!

HoLy YuM ChicKeN 
served with roasted sweet and new potatoes and salad
Recipe (and the picture below) can be found H E R E!
Please read the disclaimer on the recipe page for EXACT directions! They are important!
And I'm making this with breasts instead of thighs so there is a cooking time adjustment, just make sure to read everything. :)

For the potatoes, just quarter the new potatoes and peel/chop the new potatoes so that all pieces are about the same size. Line a baking sheet with foil and put the potatoes on top. Drizzle olive oil on them and toss with salt, pepper, whatever other seasonings you like. (I use paprika sometimes!)

CroCkpOt  Dr.  PePPeR  PoRk  ChOpS
served with the best-green-beans-ever-in-life and corn on the cob
Recipe found H E R E !

For the green beans: 2 cans green beans, 2 T. brown sugar, 1 package real bacon pieces, butter
Preheat oven to 350. Drain 1 can of the beans. Pour them into a glass baking dish. Sprinkle with brown sugar and bacon pieces. Place a few pats of butter on top. Cover. Bake 30-40 minutes.

G r O C e R Y   L i S T

2 limes
1 bunch cilantro
1 fresh jalapeno (optional)
salad and salad dressing
2 sweet potatoes
1 small bag new potatoes
corn on the cob

3-4 LBS boneless skinless chicken breasts (enough for 2 meals for your family)
1 pkg pork chops

1 packet taco seasoning
1 can black beans
1 jar salsa
1 bag tortilla chips (Tostitos or whatever brand you like)
1 jar marinara
1/2 cup dijon mustard
1/4 cup real maple syrup
1 T. rice wine vinegar
1 can Dr. Pepper
1 cup ketchup or chili sauce
2 cans green beans
1 package of real bacon pieces (NOT BACOS. gross.)
worcestershire sauce (optional)

2 cups shredded mexican cheese
2 cups mozzarella shredded cheese
parmesan cheese (for topping ravioli)
sour cream (for topping of nachos only)

1 16oz bag frozen corn
1 bag frozen ravioli
frozen garlic bread

STAPLES: salt, pepper, cooking spray, extra taco toppings, cumin, ketchup, olive oil, brown sugar, rosemary, cornstarch, rice wine vinegar, maple syrup, butter

Sunday, July 20, 2014

Meal Plan for the Week

Here's the meal plan for this week, along with links and a grocery list!
I've made the tostadas and beef tips several times, but the other recipes were recommended by my friend Jamie! She is an amazing momma and meal planner and cook, so I trust her with any recipe!
You can check out her family blog here and her Pinterest FOOD board here!
Hope everyone enjoyed last week's simple meal plan. This week's is pretty easy too - the first 4 meals are made with 2 Rotisserie chickens! Happy cooking!

Also, the recipe ingredients are listed in C o L o R , so if you want to skip one of these recipes, just knock off the ingredients for that color and you should be good. :)

Sunday :  Chicken Pot Pie Cupcakes - Recipe can be found HERE!
Serve with black eyed peas and garden tomatoes.

*UPDATE: The reviews on this recipe said it was a little bit too salty; so when
I made them I halved ALL of the spice amounts.
I felt it was still a little too salty for my taste. So next time
I will probably leave out the garlic salt completely!

*This recipe calls for Herbs de Provence; if you don't want to buy this blend, 
you can make it at home using these spices or just use regular ol' Italian seasoning.

Monday :  Tostadas, Sour Cream Rice - RICE RECIPE can be found HERE

For the tostadas, you'll need flat corn tostada shells, refried beans, 
1 lb. ground beef or a Rotisserie chicken, cheese, lettuce, and salsa.
Spread thin layer of the refried beans on each tostada, 
followed by thin layer of sour cream.
Top with chicken or beef and then cheese.
Bake in the oven according to tostada shell directions. 
(Usually 350ish for about 10 min or until cheese is all melted and bubbly.

Tuesday :  General Tso's Chicken Sliders with Crunchy Slaw - Recipe can be found HERE!
Serve with steamed edamame or an Asian stir fry skillet mix!

*This recipe calls for grated ginger, but I will use ground ginger (from the spice cabinet.)
If you use the dry spice version, just half the amount! 
Also: The Simply Asia General Tso packet looks like this:

I found it at Publix in the Asian foods section with all of the other Asian sauces. 
It is not a seasoning packet; it is an actual sauce inside the packet! Just FYI!

Wednesday :  Strawberry Balsamic Pizza - Recipe found HERE!

Thursday :  Beef Tips - Beef Tips Recipe HERE!
Served with mashed potatoes and English peas and garden tomatoes.

The recipe calls for 1 cup either water or ginger ale; 
I have always used water and they turn out great!
We eat the beef tips over mashed potatoes, but you could do rice or pasta if you wanted.
(Ore Ida Steam n Mash potatoes from the frozen section are so good 
and such a huge time saver! No peeling or boiling potatoes = winning, 
especially during these summer months!)

G R o C e R Y   L i S T :

minced garlic
1 package shredded coleslaw mix
1 package lettuce shreds
1 bunch cilantro
1 pc. ginger (unless you have ground ginger at home)
1 sweet onion
2 garden/heirloom tomatoes (this is a side item so if you don't like tomatoes, skip it)

Mexican blend shredded cheese, 2 cups
cheddar cheese, 1 small bag (or 1 cup total)
12 oz. Italian blend or mozzarella cheese
1 cup sour cream

slider rolls
corn tostada shells
pizza crust (or 1 ball pizza dough)

2 Rotisserie Chickens (this will be for 4 meals!)
*1 LB ground beef (ONLY if you prefer beef over rotisserie chicken on your tostadas!)
beef tips (enough for your family)
applewood smoked bacon

1 can refried beans
4 oz can diced green chilies
1 can yellow corn
1 can chicken broth
1 cup uncooked rice
1 can rotel (or if you have salsa, leave this off)
1 jar strawberry preserves
2 10-oz cans Pillsbury biscuits
*1 bottle Sriracha chili sauce (optional; probably could use any hot sauce or leave out)
1 pkt Lipton Onion soup mix
1 pkt brown gravy mix
1 can cream of mushroom
*Herbs de Provence (if you don't want to buy this, you can make it using this recipe, or you can use Italian seasoning mix.)

Edamame, sugar snap peas or an Asian stir fry mix!
1 bag English sweet peas (could do canned if you prefer)
Ore-Ida Steam-n-Mash potatoes, 1 bag
1 bag frozen mixed vegetable medley (you'll need 1 cup so a steamer bag will work fine too)

red pepper flake
ground ginger
salt and pepper
onion powder
garlic salt

I hope this helps someone out there!

Please let me know if you realize after buying groceries that I have left something off this list! I try to go back and doublecheck every link and ingredient but sometimes my brain does flips and I leave something off! Happy cooking!

[all photos on this post are from the recipe links!]

Friday, July 18, 2014

Mary Ella's 6th Birthday: A Rainbow Unicorn Party

July 2014Mary Ella started planning her rainbow unicorn birthday celebration about 2 days after her 5th birthday party. She's always loved unicorns and "rainbow" was her favorite color on every school paper until this past year, so it was due time to bring some unicorn fabulousness (and lots of color and glitter!) to the party scene.

I'm really not lying about her planning this shindig. Every time we were in a store and she saw something rainbow colored or unicorn related, it was "Oh MOM! We could use that at MY PARTY!" and would say it like her party was the next day. So we collected random things (paper products, stuff for favor bags, etc.) over the last few months. I may not remember all of my sources so some of them will be best guesses! 

One thing were NOT in shortage of was unicorns. We find one nearly every time we go to the thrift store. So decor was pretty easy. I always say one of the easiest things to do for kids parties is to 
a) pick a theme relating to something they really love (because if they love it they'll more than likely already have tons of "stuff" related to it!), and 
b) use what you already have related to that theme! Whether it be unicorns or a specific Disney princess or Legos or trains. It's so easy to just pull stuff from their rooms and use it as decor.
Not every unicorn really matched the party decor, and none of them are really all that spectacular, but they are treasures to my girl, and she can tell you where each one came from, so I loved displaying them as a focal point for the party. I loved hearing her tell her friends that the one on the far left is a music box, about how the one beside the wreath was special because we found him with a broken-off horn and how her Mimi gave her the colorful ones with the huge eyeballs. :)

Mary Ella and I did decide to transform a few of them, though. All part of the fun! What's a party without a little re-doing, right? Hehe! Here's a few thrift store BEFORE & AFTERS:

A $0.39 unicorn print (just used magic markers, paint around the outer border, and glitter.)
July 2014

These were the tiny unicorns we used to top her cake. This was a junkie' find on our way back from a weekend beach trip in May. We used acrylic paint (and tiny brushes) to add some color.
July 2014

And we've had these rubber unicorns for a couple years now. We used acrylic paint to turn their manes and tails rainbow-colored. Also touched up their 'corns' with some metallic gold.
July 2014

DSC08716And nowadays you can get just about every color tissue pom ALREADY MADE! This is a huge time saver. And the best part is they can be reused as long as your kids don't step on them. Not that that every happens around here. Target's new party aisle has hanging tissue lanterns in nearly EVERY color, even some patterned ones, as well as matching plates/napkins/striped straws. You no longer have to turn to Etsy or other sites to get this stuff. Which I think is great!

Walmart actually had these rainbow-colored tissue poms as well as the pinwheels I taped to our chalkboard. 
And guess what else Walmart had? For the second year in a row, Walmart saved the day with Mary Ella's CAKE! I couldn't decide what I wanted to do for cake, and really didn't want to make the rainbow-batter layered cake (we've done that before and while it's fun and cute, it takes a bunch of time and calls for a huge kitchen mess with all the food coloring, cake pans, etc.). So I looked online one night at the cakes that Walmart offered, thinking maybe they had a unicorn one I could just order. Well, even better! They actually make a cake REGULARLY called... wait for it... 

T H e      R a i n B o W     B L a S t       C a K e   !!!

Look at that beauty!  (Top shelf on the left!)
Enough artificial dye to kill a small country, but when I saw it I knew it was "the one."

We also did a little BeFoRE and AFteR with our cake, adding a few extra colorful touches:

Here's the BeFoRe picture of the cake -- simple, white, a few rainbow-colored speckles on top...

July 2014

and the aFTeR:


{we used M&M's and rainbow colored sprinkles and our thrift store mini unicorns.}

And the inside looked like this:


And the cake was  s o o o o o   y u m m y ,  people.  Like, one of the best cakes ever.
 So moist on the inside and the icing was perfect.




We drank Gatorade and I had ice water and Coca Cola Classic for the moms.
I just bought 5 of the $1.00 bottles of Gatorade, each in a different color.
(So basically everyone left with a blood sugar well over 500.)

{glass milk bottles from Old Time Pottery, straws from Target I think?)


I use wrapping paper for table cloths at my kids' parties because it's cheap, easy, and you can roll up the mess and chunk it afterwards. Rainbow-ish wrapping paper from Target.

I honestly can't remember where in the world the plates and plastic cups came from because I've had them so long. My guess would always be Target or Walmart? The gold stars are another mystery, but they added some sparkle to I was glad I found them in my stash of random supplies. The birthday banner is from last year too - Walmart for the win. 


(And speaking of banners, I keep EVERY banner I ever use/make. I store them in a file box like this one. I have a pink fabric-scrap banner that I've used at Emma Kate's birthday party, 2 baby showers and a teacher appreciation luncheon. So definitely save your stuff! You never know when you might use it again, even if just for a family birthday dinner !)

Addie Jane spent a few days with us before the party so I let the girls take the lead on these favor bags. Found the idea here, via Pinterest, and had everything on hand already. White paper bags and construction paper is all you need! (Oh and we added gold glitter, of course!)

July 2014


Our favor bags included just a few odds and ends from Amazon and dollar aisles. Glittery pencil, stickers, rubber bracelet and a unicorn horn lollipop.

July 2014

I used my Ikea roll of craft paper for the dining room, where the girls sat. I tried my best to draw a variety of different unicorns and had markers and crayons out so that they could color them. This was basically just something to do as they waited on everyone to arrive.



And an extra special treat was having their faces painted similar to the painting they do at Disney!
My friends Misty and Tara graciously agreed to come and do this for the girls, and they all loved it.









The girls also painted a unicorn sun catcher (Hobby Lobby) before leaving.




I still can't believe this girl is   6   y e a r s   o l d .   S I X  !!!
I'm so proud of her. She is brave, passionate, a dreamer with a great imagination and quiet confidence. She loves her friends and her family. She can be a bit sassy and stubborn, but she gets it honest. And she still pouts and sometimes still needs a nap, which reminds me that six years old ain't that old after all. :)  I love her so much.

July 2014

And just for my records:

-Her current favorite things are: unicorns, anything and all things Frozen-related (particularly Elsa), My Little Ponies, Palace Pets, playing school and making/writing books, reading Junie B. Jones and Pinkalicious and Fancy Nancy, and watching {mommy-approved} how-to videos on YouTube. Like how to make Anna and Elsa cakes, how to do Elsa makeup, how to use hair chalk, how to create your own Elsa dress... you get the picture.

-She chooses playing over TV, but she likes movies.  We saw Maleficent in the theater the day after her birthday. We both loved it.

-She's lost 3 teeth and her tooth fairy money must be flaming hot because it burns a hole in her pocket the minute she wakes up. We're working on saving our money. ;)

-She loves to dress up in big girl clothes and "fashions" as she calls them. Loves to pose in the mirror with a headband or a belt or pretend-makeup on; but she is shy about doing it for other people or even for the camera.

-She likes to read but is even shy about reading in front of us. Likes to read to herself most of the time and she will ask us for help if she needs it.


She would stay on the beach all day long. Loves to swim and has been swimming like a champ this summer, although she prefers to keep a mask on to go under the water.



A few pictures from her actual birthday...

July 2014

July 2014

July 2014

July 2014

Happy 6th Birthday, Mary Ella Morgan! 
You make your mama very proud. Love you.
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