Friday, October 17, 2014

King Ranch Chicken Casserole

The first time I ate king ranch chicken casserole was at Moonshine's Sunday brunch a couple of years ago on our babymoon to Austin, TX. While browsing Pinterest recently, I came across a few recipes which reminded me of this yummy dish. There are several variations out there but I eventually landed on one and made several adaptations. Here is my rendition of king ranch chicken casserole. It was a big hit at our house this week! 

Recipe adapted from Six Sisters' Stuff

1 small yellow onion
1/2 c Mezzetta roasted bell peppers
1 can Ro*Tel original diced tomatoes & green chiles, undrained
4 cloves of garlic
1 can cream of chicken soup
1 can cream of mushroom soup
1 1/2 T Mexican spice mixture*
4 boneless, skinless chicken breasts, cubed
1 bag thick corn tortilla chips
1 bag (2 c) shredded Mexican cheese blend
1/2 c shredded sharp cheddar cheese

Place (roughly chopped) onion, bell peppers, undrained can of Ro*Tel, and garlic cloves into food processor and pulse until thoroughly chopped. In a large mixing bowl, combine chopped veggies with cream of chicken, cream of mushroom, and Mexican spice mixture. Add cubed raw chicken breast to the mixture. (If you have time, I found that letting the chicken and soup mixture marinate for a few hours in the fridge before assembling the casserole makes for really juicy flavorful chicken.) Line buttered 9x13 casserole dish with tortilla chips, top chips with chicken mixture, then top chicken mixture with 1 cup of Mexican cheese. Repeat chip, chicken mixture, and cheese layers once more. Lastly, sprinkle cheddar cheese on top of Mexican cheese. Bake uncovered at 350ºF for 45-55 minutes. Serve over roughly crushed corn tortilla chips and top with sour cream and guacamole.

*I keep a container of this Mexican spice mixture on hand at all times and use it in lieu of store bought taco seasoning packets. It can be used not only for tacos but it works great for fajitas, chili, or as a rub for roasted chicken/turkey/pork.

1 T chili powder
1 1/2 t ground cumin
1 t sea salt
1 t black pepper
1 t thyme
1/2 t white pepper
1/2 t paprika
1/4 t garlic powder
1/4 t onion powder
1/4 t dried oregano
1/4 t cayenne pepper

Mix spices together and keep in airtight container.

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Sunday, May 25, 2014

Playroom Organization

I put off the purchase of organizational furniture for the kids' playroom for nearly an entire year. I dragged my feet partially because I just couldn't decide on what pieces I wanted to use, and partially because I wanted to avoid the expense. But with the accumulation of more and more toys and books, I realized I'd better do something about our current system, or lack there of.

I decided on 2 putty colored heavy duty commerical steel bookcases with casters and 1 putty colored heavy duty commercial steel library cart with casters (aka book truck). I love the idea that these pieces are mobile (easy to rearrange) and will hopefully be useful for many years to come after playroom days are gone. (Sometimes I think way too long term.) One thing that sold me on the library cart was a review I read from a mom who said her school aged kids pile their books and homework on it to clear off the kitchen table to make room for dinner. The cart can then be rolled out of the way or off to a kid's room. For now, we will just use it as a book shelf for our most used books and toys.

To add some color and further storage for smaller toys, I decided on 6 colorful striped cube bins to go on the lower shelves of the bookcases.  Now I'm just impatiently waiting on everything to be delivered so I can finally get our playroom better organized!


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Thursday, May 22, 2014

8 Methods to Save Money at Target

I am in no way an extreme coupon queen (with regard to grocery shopping). In fact, more often than not I clip coupons with good intentions, they get lost in a pile on the kitchen counter, and I completely forget about them when I go grocery shopping. But I LOVE discounts and deals (who doesn't?) and most of what I purchase is always on some sort of "sale." I am also an avid price comparer, especially on big purchases. Although I've been a Target shopper for as long as I can remember, I have just recently begun utilizing multiple cost saving methods when shopping at Target. I'm sure these methods are old news and already common practice for some, but they are relatively new to my Target shopping routine. 
1.) Mobile Coupons: Text "COUPON" to 827438 to receive mobile coupons. From time to time there are different words you can text to get other offers. For example, if you text "FOOD" (which is a reoccurring and current offer) to 827438, you will receive a link via text message for $10 off a grocery purchase of $50 or more (some exclusions apply). Target is really good about advertising these deals via signage around the store and in their Sunday circulars/weekly ads.
2.) Target App: Download and use the Target app to view the mobile coupon barcode(s) that you received via text message. You can also find other mobile coupons under the "Deals & Coupons" portion of the Target app. Remember to have the cashier scan your barcode(s) straight from the Target app after all your merchandise has been scanned.
3.) Store Coupons: Visit coupons.target.com to print and clip even more store coupons. Some coupons found here are the same as the mobile coupons found on the Target app, but some are different. 
4.) Manufacturer Coupons: You can (obviously) use manufacturer coupons at Target. What's great about this is you can stack them with Target promotions and/or Target's store coupons.
5.) Cartwheel App: Download and use Target's Cartwheel app. Search current offers within the app, add them to your Cartwheel cart, and have the cashier scan the barcode off your mobile device after all your merchandise has been scanned (the single Cartwheel barcode contains all of your Cartwheel offers). This can/should be used in conjunction with your other mobile and printed/paper coupons. Because using Cartwheel can be kind of overwhelming, here is a great Cartwheel tutorial that helps break it down for beginners.
6.) REDcard: Apply for and use a Target REDcard. I applied for the debit version of the REDcard because I didn't want to open a credit card. This saves me 5% off EVERY purchase, gets me free shipping on Target.com purchases (non REDcard holders have to spend a minimum of $50 to get free shipping online and even then some items don't qualify), and provides me with 30 extra days to make a return. Too bad I didn't open one of these sooner. I've shopped at Target A LOT over the years and I'm just sick thinking about how I've missed out on saving 5% of every prior purchase. 
7.) Reusable Bags: Bring your own reusable grocery bags because you get a 5¢ discount for each one you use. For example, if you use 5 bags, you get a 25¢ discount. It doesn't sound like much but it adds up with all your other savings and why not? I usually have to remind the cashier to key/scan in my reusable bag discount.
8.) Target Gift Cards: Keep an eye out for Target gift card deals. For example, this week you can get a $5 Target gift card when you buy 4 Skinny Cow ice cream products. These gift card deals are usually easy to spot via signage next to the corresponding product. You can also learn about gift card deals by reading the Weekly Ads.
This evening I went grocery shopping at Super Target and used 7 of the above mentioned methods, and along with current in-store markdowns, I saved a total of $35.83! I would have saved slightly more had I remembered to print a few more of my manufacturer coupons from Coupons.com. :( I know, a savings of almost $36 doesn't sound like much when you compare it to those extremists on TLC who get their groceries for $0, but I'm pretty proud of my savings tonight. 
A great source on Target deals (or any other deal for that matter) is Collin Morgan's blog hip2save, specifically her YouTube channel. It helps to watch Collin's videos because she clearly explains Target's various money saving methods and you can see her put the methods into practice as she shops the aisles of an actual Target store. The videos are perfect tools for visual learners like myself!

There are more methods to save money when shopping at Target but these are just 8 of the ones I've been using, and I hope they will help you save a buck or 2! Hardcore Target savers: feel free to add your 2¢, clarify, or correct my information. 

Happy Saving!
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*This is not a sponsored post.

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