Tuesday, October 25, 2016

Buffalo Chicken French Bread Pizza

I love all things Buffalo sauce. And all things pizza. So when you combine the two, you have a winning meal in my opinion.  I love french bread pizza too but rarely make it because oh you know, carbs carbs carbs (we typically make naan pizza). But last week my body was screaming for carbs and decided it was okay to have way more bread than one should encounter at one meal.  

This recipe is super easy and you can adjust the quantity of Buffalo sauce based on your degree of heat preference. I'm all about the HOT sauce, so I used a lot -- in recipes in the past I've used less and both turned out equally delicious.

What's funny is that when I had decided to make french bread pizza, we didn't have an actual loaf of french bread in the house -- but we did have a package of the Pillsbury French Bread dough, so with just an extra step of baking the dough first, dinner was done in a jiffy!

So without anymore rambling from me, here's the recipe! 

Buffalo Chicken French Bread Pizza 
1 loaf of french bread
2 cups cooked, diced chicken (or you can shred)
4 oz cream cheese, softened
1/2 cup Buffalo sauce 
2 cups shredded mozzarella cheese

1. Combine cream cheese and Buffalo sauce in a bowl -- stir until well blended.
2. Mix chicken and sauce together until chicken is coated.
3. Slice french bread in half and then across so you have four halves.
4. Top french bread with chicken mixture across all four halves evenly. 
5. Sprinkle mozzarella cheese over each half of the french bread.
6. Bake at 350 degrees until cheese is ooey gooey and melted -- I usually bake for about 8-10 minutes because I like my pizza dough crispy! 

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Tuesday, October 18, 2016

Santa Fe Chipotle Beef Stew

My husband is such a typical guy -- loves meat and potatoes. I however don't eat a ton of red meat (I could eat chicken every day) and so he rarely gets things like pot roasts or beef stew. While at the grocery store this weekend, there was a buy one get one free deal on College Inn broth plus I had a $1 off coupon.  When I coupon (which isn't all the time), I usually snag some pretty amazing deals.  This weekend I saved almost $67 and my cart was full of healthy, hearty ingredients to make good dinners this week.
In all honesty, I'm not a big stew person -- I love soups but there's just something about stew (I think it's the gravy-like consistency of the broth) that I'm not in love with.  I decided to add a bit extra broth to this recipe to make it more like a soup and it was surprisingly delicious! My husband loved it and took the extra for lunch today.
I followed the recipe on the back of the carton (minus adding the chipotle -- mainly because I forgot to grab it while in the produce department and my husband had already gone back to the store once because I also forgot the onion ... hello mom brain!).
Here's the recipe! 
Adapted from College Inn
1/3 cup all-purpose flour
1 Tbsp. chili powder
2 tsp. cumin
1/2 tsp. each salt and black pepper, optional
2 Tbsp. vegetable oil
3 lb. stew beef, cubed
2 1/2 cups College Inn® Unsalted Bold Beef Stock, divided (I added the entire carton)
1 lb. red potatoes, peeled, cut into 1-inch cubes
1 can (15.25 oz.) Del Monte® Whole Kernel Corn, drained (I always use low-sodium)
1 can (14.5 oz.) Del Monte® Original Stewed Tomatoes, not drained
1 onion, chopped
1 chipotle pepper in adobo sauce (if you don't want the chipotle flavor, omit this -- it's still delicious)

  1. Stir together flour, chili powder, cumin and salt and pepper, if desired, in a slow cooker.
  2. Heat oil in a large skillet over medium-high heat. Add beef in 2 batches and brown on all sides. Add beef to slow cooker and stir to coat with flour mixture.
  3. Add 1/2 cup stock to skillet, and cook over low heat, stirring to loosen browned bits from bottom of skillet; add to beef in slow cooker.
  4. Add remaining 2 cups stock, potatoes, corn, tomatoes, onion and chipotle; stir. Cover and cook 8 to 10 hours on LOW or 4 to 5 hours on HIGH. Serve with sour cream and cheese, if desired.
You can top with sour cream and/or shredded cheese if you'd like -- I served ours with freshly baked croissants.

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Friday, October 14, 2016

Friday Favorites

Funny how fast the weeks are just flying by now that I'll be going back to work in a couple of weeks. Sigh. We've gone from the countdown being a couple of months away to now it being just a couple of weeks away.  Before I know it, it'll be a couple of days away and I'll just be a hot mess. Let's move on before I start crying... Sniff sniff.
Here's my favorites for this Friday!
Fall Weather
 Enjoying the cooler weather!
Amen! Fall weather is finally here.  Well, in the morning at least.  After breakfast on Monday, Elizabeth and I went onto the patio and it was simply glorious. There was far less humidity in the air, a little breeze blew through, and it was just perfect.  So perfect in fact that after we dropped her off at school on Tuesday and Thursday, Katherine and I went for a nice long walk outside! I grabbed a PSL on Tuesday (only because it was a freebie. Who can afford almost $6 for a grande latte... ridic!) and just an iced coffee on Thursday.  Both days the weather was amazing -- Katherine was awake for most of the walk but eventually fell into a cute sleep while I sipped my coffee and took in the gorgeous weather. 
Embracing Not Being Perfect 
Living in Tampa means that I am a big time Emily Ley fan.  Last year I bought her Simplified Planner and loved it.  I follow her blog and her Instagram page and was super excited last year when she announced that she was writing a book Grace Not Perfection.  Back in August I went onto Amazon and pre-ordered it and Tuesday morning during naptime, the book arrived.  Luckily it was during naptime and I jumped right into reading it.  Literally it's like she is speaking directly to me.  As a mama and a blogger, it's so hard to not get wrapped up in the perfect world that exists on social media.  But Emily Ley gets it -- and I'm glad I'm not one to worry about posting THE perfect picture or planning the most elaborate dinner or decorating our house perfectly for the holidays.  I love living imperfectly -- it's far less stressful. And it's REAL. Not that I'm knocking the women out there who do have the best photos to share every morning on Instagram or those that have beautiful parties or those that appear to live the "perfect" life. I love my imperfect live -- it fits my family perfectly. 
Christmas Shopping
With being out of work the past almost seven months, money is tight. And when I say tight.... I mean TIGHT. It's such a blessing that we made it this long living on one paycheck. With that being said, Christmas this year is going to be a lean one. The girls are each getting a couple of outfits, a few books, and a toy or two and that's it.  I'll leave the spoiling up to my parents -- that's what grandparents are for, right?  But for real -- I am such a bargain shopper lately.  I always manage to get the 30% off coupons from Kohl's and end up earning Kohl's cash which results in even more savings.  Earlier this week I literally started and finished my shopping for Elizabeth and I got such good deals. Living on a tight budget does have it's downfalls (like fewer trips to Target), but it doesn't mean that Christmas for Elizabeth and Katherine will be anything less than wonderful! 
Ogosport Bolli Ball
A few weeks ago, I was contacted by Ogosport and asked if I wanted to try out their Bolli ball, which is a sensory development ball created for babies. Once I received it, I instantly fell in love -- not only is it BPA free but it's also dishwasher safe.  The ball was created to help babies with stretching, manipulating and grasping. A bonus? It can be thrown in the freezer and is perfect for teething!  Katherine absolutely loves it because it's so flexible.  At one point I think she flung it across the room which resulted in her giggling.  You can purchase the balls from the Ogosport website -- check them out! They have lots of other products to offer too!  

Katherine's Finished Nursery
Good things come to those who wait and that's my mantra for being so delayed in finishing Katherine's nursery. I knew I wanted to keep the Peter Rabbit theme that we had for Elizabeth but I wasn't sure which direction I wanted to go in.  Last week while my mother was in town, we were walking around Home Goods and all the ideas started coming to me. So for under $75, we were able to finish Katherine's room and it is just perfect!  I plan on doing a post about it soon, but if you follow me on Instagram, this was the picture I posted! 

I hope you have a wonderful weekend with those you love! 
* Ogosport provided the Bolli ball in exchange for a 100% honest opinion and review from me.  I choose to only work with companies that I believe in. 
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Wednesday, October 12, 2016

3-6 Months Baby Toys and Accessories

3-6 Months Baby Toys and Accessories
Must Haves  
As a second time mama, I knew the "must-haves" for when Katherine was between the ages of 3-6 months.  During this time, your baby is much more alert and active, although their attention span is still somewhat limited. All of the toys and accessories featured on this post were my favorites from when Elizabeth was this age so I was super excited to pull them out for Katherine.  I made sure to hang on to everything so I wouldn't have to run out and buy these items once she was old enough to start using them. 

All of these items, with the exception of that specific play mat, are all available from Amazon. If you have Amazon Prime, you can get the majority of these items within 24-48 hours of ordering. Isn't Amazon Prime just amazing!?  

This is definitely one of my most favorite baby books.  It is a cloth book that has crinkly pages that will instantly make your little one smile.  Each page has peek-a-boo flaps and offer stimulating bright colors to grab your baby's attention.  
$10.59 - Amazon Prime

We love this toy so much we have two of them -- one for the play room and one for my diaper bag. Even my toddler loves this toy! As most of the Baby Einstein musical toys, there are two different volume levels which is great. This toy has seven different baby friendly classical melodies as well as stimulating lights to make your little one smile and giggle. 
$5.99 - Amazon Prime

It's worth the money. Trust me. Especially if your little one, like both of mine, wanted nothing to do with pacifiers while teething.  This teether is BPA free and is hand painted.  There are numerous parts to chew on and this toy helps to facilitate baby development. I love that it squeaks -- my little Katherine giggles anytime I squeeze it.  Again -- so worth the money. 
$20.99 - Amazon Prime 

For some reason, neither one of my babies were much into the Bumbo floor chair. After doing some research, I came across this one and bought when my first baby was 2 months old -- it was perfect because she grew into it and enjoyed it for many months, so it's a good investment. There are toys attached to the chair so your baby will be easily entertained while sitting in it. Once your baby is able to hold up their head and has some trunk support, this chair will be perfect. It also folds up for easy storage -- and if you have a small house like us, that's a definite bonus!  
$34.97 - Amazon Prime

Sometimes you just want your baby to have a nice, quiet toy that keeps them occupied. The O-Ball infant rattle has 28 different holes for your baby to wrap their fingers around. There are clear rattles with colorful beads so the colors will grab your baby's attention for sure! It's easy to handle and babies love to maneuver the toy back and forth between their hands. It's very easy to clean and even makes for a great bath toy!
$5.19 - Amazon Prime  

Babies need to spend lots of time on their backs exploring. Having an activity gym allows them the opportunity to do this all while being engaged with noises and things for them to grasp and put in their mouth. This activity gym has a cute push bird that makes tweeting sounds as well as several different cheerful melodies.  There is a mirror perfect for self-discovery as well as a flower shaped teether.  You can also add additional toys or take some of the toys off. There are dozens of choices for other play mats as well -- they all offer your baby lots of opportunity for exploration, cute music, as well as a comfy place for them to be on their backs.
*This mat is no long available at Amazon or Target, but you can find it online at Kidsii.com for $39.99 

What are some of your favorite toys for your baby when they were 3-6 months old?
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Monday, October 10, 2016

Meal Plan Monday

It's Monday which means it's time for me to share my meal plan with you guys! I'm all about the easy dinners this week since my husband will be out of town on business trips. Again. Literally he works so hard -- which is why I let it slide on Saturday evening when I looked at him with puppy dog eyes on our date night and said "honey, I have to go back to work in three weeks" and he responded with "welcome to the real world of working outside the home honey". Ouch. But it's the truth. But it still stung slightly. THREE weeks is like basically me going back tomorrow. I can't. 
Let's move on...
For dinner this week, here's what this mama has planned!  
Chicken Bake 
 Ignore the poor quality photo here...
it's seriously so tasty!
I've loved this recipe for years -- I just always forget I have it. It's such tasty comfort food and it's a really easy recipe! 
1 box mix stuffing
1 cup hot water
1/3 cup sour cream
1 16 oz bag of frozen mixed vegetables, thawed and drained
1 small can of cream of chicken soup
1 pound chicken, cut into bite sized pieces
1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
2. Spread 1/2 cup of the dried stuffing mix in bottom of casserole dish .
3. In bowl, add remaining stuffing mix and hot water. Stir until combined. Set aside.
4. In another bowl, mix sour cream, cream of chicken soup, and mixed vegetables. Spread over dried stuffing mix in casserole.
5. Pour the prepared stuffing over the creamy vegetables.
6. Bake in oven for 35-40 minutes, until chicken is done.

*You can totally use a cooked rotisserie chicken if you'd like -- I've done both versions and both are so tasty! Just cut the time by maybe 10 minutes!
Breakfast Quesadillas
Slow Cooker Salsa Chicken
 Recipe from Gimme Some Oven
Lasagna Roll-Ups
 Recipe from Cooking Classy
Enchilada Chicken Casserole 
 Recipe from Pinch of Yum

What's on your meal plan for this week?

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Friday, October 7, 2016

Friday Favorites

Hip Hip Hooray! It's Fri-YAY!!!! It's been a wonderful week having my mom here with the girls and I.  She was supposed to go home this evening, but thanks to Hurricane Matthew, she's staying through the weekend -- which is super nice since my husband has been gone since Monday morning and who knows when he'll make it home given this crazy scary storm that is barreling it's way through Florida! Friends on the east coast of Florida -- stay safe!
I'm excited to share a few of my favorites this morning -- this week is a little bit of everything.  A little bit of baby love, a little bit of home makeover love, and some yumminess that will be headlining a post next week!
fall nails
Although it's hard making the time, I always enjoy having freshly painted toe nails. Living in Florida, I'm always wearing sandals so it's a must to have pretty toes all year long. Since it's fall, I'm enjoying the dark shades of grey and navy as usual but my mom introduced me to a new shade and I'm in love! Lourve me lourve me not is a gorgeous shade of purple that screams fall.  You can find the color here on Amazon and it's only $6.24!
Photo credit: amazon.com

home office makeover
I'm totally guilty as charged: messy office/guest bedroom. With only having visitors a few times a year, my husband and I typically let our back office/guest bedroom get really messy. Last weekend I had an idea to do a little switcheroo of rooms, mainly for the purpose of Elizabeth getting a bigger space for all her toys. My mom, husband, and I spent all day Sunday cleaning, throwing old things out, making piles to donate, and moving furniture.  Then all this week long, my mom and I have continued to clean closets out and finish up the transition.  I'm so excited to have a NEAT office and where everything has a place. The space will double as our guest bedroom so it's a nice cozy little room.  Once I'm finished, I'll share some photos but I am so happy with the space! I think I'll spend some time on Pinterest this weekend getting some decorating ideas for the room! 

cilantro + lime
There are two people in this world: those who love cilantro and those who cannot stand it.  I'm one who absolutely loves it in lots of recipes.  A few weeks ago, I was contacted by Briannas Salad Dressing and asked if I wanted to try out their new Cilantro & Lime salad dressing. Oh my goodness -- it is amazeballs. I'm actually making a recipe using it tonight for dinner and I'll be sure to share with you guys next week! 

baby snuggles
My little Katherine has had a rough week. She had her 6-mo well visit on Tuesday and received a few vaccines, including a flu shot. She handled the pain quite well and ended up only needing Tylenol once (which she spit 99% of it out anyways).  But she has been all about the sleepy time cuddles this week (thank you teething...). Although I'm utterly exhausted, I have so loved all the snuggles. I mean, rocking her to sleep? No problem! I actually found myself having flashbacks to when she was a newborn as I rocked her to sleep last night and I had to pinch myself to believe that I am a mama to two gorgeous and healthy girls.  So Katherine my love, keep demanding all the snuggles. You win every. single. time.
My sweet baby, I love you!

Halloween decorations and candy
I'm a big kid at heart when it comes to holidays.  October-December are just my happy months because of all the decorations and goodies.  Last weekend, the Great Pumpkin visited the girls and brought Halloween books, cute clothes and treats. We also put up all the Halloween decorations and I started buying candy for the trick-or-treaters.  Okay just kidding. I bought the candy for myself. Those fun-size candy bars are just irresistible! Now if only I could work on some self-control and not grab a handful of chocolate every time I walk past the bowl! 


What is your favorite Halloween treat?  

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Wednesday, October 5, 2016

Six Month Update

And just like that, in the *blink* of an eye, my little newborn is six months old. They say the days are the long and the years are short but let me tell you -- the past six months have gone by at lightning speed.
Here's Katherine's six month update! 

Weight/Length: 14 pounds, 3 ounces ... 26 inches (um, it's crazy she's only ten inches shorter than Elizabeth)

Hair: She definitely has red highlights when she's in the sun -- so gorgeous! Sweet girl needs to grow some more hair! She has a ton of hair at the back of her head, but nothing along either side above/behind her ear. I pray every night she grows more hair.

Diapers: Size 2 Pampers Swaddlers -- but I do have a pack of size 3 Swaddlers on standby for when she hits that huge six month growth spurt!

Clothing: Over the weekend I packed up all of her 3-6 month clothing and now she is in all 9-month, regardless of the brand. I'm thinking she'll be in 9-month clothes until the end of the year, but who knows!

Favorite Things: Sophie the Giraffe, avocado, baths, playing peek-a-boo
Likes: sitting independently (with mama close by of course), standing on mama's legs, laughing at big sissy, rolling around in blankets on the bed

Dislikes: teething, car rides (well mainly just getting strapped into car seat), bananas, finishing bottles 

Eating: She just started eating solids a couple of weeks ago -- favorites are avocado, butternut squash, and peas.  

Milestones: rolls from back to tummy now, can sit unassisted (as long as I'm right there to support if she starts to topple over), grabs spoon from my hands and brings to her mouth 

Sleeping: Most nights she is sleeping through the night -- she'll occasionally wake up for a bottle but typically goes right back down. 

Mama Thoughts: Katherine is just the most cuddly and happy baby ever. The second I walk into her room, she's instantly smiling. It's hard to believe she's already six months old. I really have enjoyed being home with her for such a wonderful amount of time. I have mixed feelings about returning to work on November 1st but I think I'll be okay.  I'm cherishing every moment, catching all the milestones, and counting my blessings that I got called to be a mama again!
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Tuesday, October 4, 2016

October Goals

Hello October! 
I know this is going to be the fastest month on record since I'm heading back to work as a reading teacher in just four weeks -- but that means I have a MONTH to be successful in getting things done. 
Life is going to be crazy, but it's going to be a GREAT kind of crazy because October begins my most favorite time of the year -- we go from all things pumpkin to all things peppermint and Christmas! Can I get an AMEN!?!?!
Here's a small list of goals I want to tackle this month. Some of these have already started and I'm already feeling so accomplished!
* Switch Elizabeth's bedroom with the office/guest bedroom
* Clean out all closets -- gather old belongings to donate to those in need
* Cook dinner 4x a week (even when my husband is out of town)
* Workout 5x a week (gym when Shaun is home, weights here if he isn't)
* Finish PD books for work -- I'm currently reading A Complaint Free World but I also have The Highly Engaged Classroom up next  
* Start pinning ideas for December's Elf on a Shelf (I know I need a detailed plan for every night because well, I'll forget. Don't judge.)
* Share one new recipe a week on the blog
For real though...

There's a few other things I'd like to accomplish, but I'm going to focus on the ones mentioned here. 
Mid-month I'll do a check-in to share how I'm doing! 
What goals do you have for this month?
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