Friday, August 16, 2013

Girls Coupon Brunch & Spicy Breakfast Pizzas

So while I am used to teaching little 5 year olds, I am not used to teaching my friends. I should say "teaching" lightly because technically, I sat on an ottoman in front of a close group of friends and shared with them about my couponing tips while stuffing my face with yummy breakfast food. But seriously, I kind of taught a coupon class:) It was alot much fun and I had to apologize in advance for my excitement over the issue.

One of my friends from my sunday school class immediately jumped on the couponing topic after I blogged about it last. Before I knew it, we had a date set for our very own sunday school brunch where I would give coupon advice. My friend who eagerly wanted to learn and offered her home to host was my start student! She tried out couponing that week prior to our brunch and texted me late one night about her savings. Ummm...I could not have have been prouder! Since our brunch together, I have learned that there have been other friends who are hitting the stores with coupons in hand and I LOVE that they share their successes with me. 

Not only did I make breakfast pizzas (and even the low-er fat version:) but I also offered a few more tips about couponing that I did not have enough room to share in my previous blog. I promised I would type up the extra notes so I figured I would do so here in my blog and with the recipe for breakfast pizzas. Enjoy!

If you are behind and need a coupon 101, see my earlier blog posts to catch up. Here are the extra notes...

*Where can you get coupons? EVERYWHERE! Newspapers, magazines, product website, coupon websites, on a product at the grocery store and in the grocery store. Another place for great coupons is your doctors/dentist office. Collins's pediatrician's office always has awesome coupons waiting for us mommas to grab them.Also, if there is an item that you like such as Wholly Guac, check their website! Most will offer coupons and you can stock up so print as many as you can!

*This may sound a bit too much and yes, it technically is butttttt I would suggest organizing coupons by aisle. It will make your trip so much faster. And with a baby now, I do not have the leisure time to just play around in the grocery store! I would much rather spend my leisure time in a mall somewhere but that doesn't seem to happen much either. 

*Once you start stocking up on more and more coupons, the greater chance you will have that you a coupon for your favorite items on sale.

*Once you stock up on foods (because you are buying them on sale, NOT when you need them), you can make a menu based off of what you have and feeding your family doesn't seem to break your bank anymore. And I to make fun and fancy foods, so rest assured that I can even make fun menus that will include the things I stock up on. 

*Coupons are not just for dry food and cereals. You can still watch your store to see when their produce and meats go on sale and buy, but then you can freeze it! We had a huge discussion about being able to freeze fruits and veggies. So yes, you can!

*You can even buy toys and baby products on a great deal. This momma has brought Collins a few pretty neat and rather costly toys at practically nothing because there will be a manufacturers coupon paired with a store coupon definitely makes it budget friendly. Jason laughs because I will come home randomly with toys for Collins that I bought for a steal.  
video
I bought the above precious Fisher Price toy that Collins loves to play with for $15 when it was regularly $40! I had a $15 off coupon for Target and a $10 off coupon for Fisher Price. Proud momma here! Notice my child bouncing to the beat in the video. She just might have her momma's moves;) (Video may not show if you do not have the right updates. It does't show up on my IPAD. I am lazy and hate installing new updates)
And this adorable, famous little dog? $5 from Target when it should have been $25! Similar scenario: $10 off manufacturer's coupon and $10 off Target coupon. Why didn't I buy more???? They could have been tossed in as part of a baby shower or birthday gift? I hope this doesn't sound at all cheap. I am frugal. Big difference. I love nice things and will spare no cost over those things that mean the most. 

And as far as these little breakfast pizzas go, they were so stinking easy and good! 
Spicy Breakfast Pizzas

1 (16oz) package spicy pork sausage ( I used reduced fat. You could even use turkey sausage and season it yourself)
2 (8 oz) packages cream cheese (I used fat free)
1 bag of seasoning blend (found in the freezer section by veggies)
*Seasoning blend is made up of what we call the "trinity" in Louisiana: chopped Onions, bell peppers and celery. It truly is a gift to cooks instead of having to buy these things and chop them ourselves!
6 English muffins (I used whole wheat), split
Garnish: chopped red and green peppers 

In a large skillet, combine sausage and seasoning blend. Cook over medium-high heat, stirring frequently, for 4 to 6 minutes, or until sausage is browned and crumbly. Drain sausage mixture. Reduce heat to medium low. Return sausage mixture to skillet. Add cream cheese to skillet. Cook for 5 minutes, stirring frequently, or until cream cheese is melted and combined with sausage. Spread on split muffin halves. Cover and refrigerate overnight. (Hello! Best part of this recipe for this mom!!). Take out pizza 30 minutes prior to cooking and bake at 350 degrees for 15 minutes or until cooked through. Enjoy!




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Friday, August 9, 2013

Sisters Weekend in Houma: S'mores Brownies and Jalapeno Corn Casserole

    Sisters...nothing sweeter than that word. Seriously, they are your best friends, honest feedback givers (wanted and unwanted) and trusted confidants. And well, you can fight like no one else but who cares because you forget about it a week later. I have been blessed with 3 sisters. And they are a huge blessing in my life. If you have a sister, you know what I am talking about. And if you don't, I pray you have a best friend who is like a sister and that can work too:) And I have all of the above. I don't deserve it.  Real sisters and best friends like a sister. I have been blessed with close relationships with some amazing girls from Louisiana to Tennessee and now to Texas. Thank you, Jesus.

   When my sisters and I can't be together, we send tons of text messages and we talk on the phone as much as possible. Thank God for technology that we can be together without having to be in each other's physical presence. But when we DO get together, we act nothing short of crazy. We laugh, we cry, we confess and we give advice. We can solve the world's problems in 10 minutes flat. Our husbands think we are nuts, our kids think we are funny and the babies just watch us in wonder. That is what makes a sisterhood, whether blood related or not...you can just be yourself and then they take their masks off too. I LOVE it when sisters(or BFFs) get real.

   Jen, Claire, myself and all the hubbies, kids and babies recently gathered in Houma, where the baby sis, Claire lives. Her and her hubby, JP, just built a beautiful new home and well, we love to bring our families and we somehow manage to dirty up their "perfect, no kids home" within 20 minutes of arriving:)





    Claire is the hostess with the mostess and had a fabulous weekend planned. It consisted of a delicious dinner on Friday night, men fishing on Saturday while the ladies shopped and then we all had a little lunch all together. I know our waitress must have thought we were the circus coming to town. We are loud, babies crying, girls laughing, men drinking and kids playing. Bless her heart.

   On Saturday night, Claire's hubby, JP, cooked the most amazing fried fish you have ever tasted. I wish that is the recipe I had to share but he is all secret about it. But I did have a few things to offer to the menu and I had the cutest help ever, named Cate. 

    She is my niece and she has the biggest heart and loves to help me cook, help me with Collins or whatever. I pray CC has a heart like this precious girl. And can I tell you how much Cate LOVESSSS Collins. I can already tell they will be BFF. Jen and I are in trouble.Double Cuteness Trouble!
    I originally wanted to post one of the many videos we took of ourselves dancing, laughing and just being us. But I am pretty sure my sisters would have made me take it off within a few minutes. But to imagine, there may have been a little "Baby Got Back" played as well as "Ain't No Mountain High Enough" and we may or may not have used wine bottles and baby bottles as microphones:) As always, we had the best time together all weekend long. I hope you enjoy these Houma weekend recipes. 
Jalapeno Corn Casserole

4 (15oz) cans whole kernal corn, drained
1/2 cup butter
1 (8oz) pkg cream cheese, softened
1 cup can evaporated milk
4 tbls all purpose flour
4 jalapenos, seeded and chopped

Preheat oven to 400. 
Place corn evenly in bottom of a 9x13 inch dish.
In a medium saucepan, combine butter and cream cheese; cook over medium heat, stirring frequently, until butter is melted and mixture is smooth. Stir in evaporated milk and flour, and continue cooking until mixture is smooth and creamy, about 5 minutes. Stir in jalapenos. Pour butter mixture over corn; mix well. Bake for 30 minutes. 


S'MORE Brownies

1 box of brownie mix
10 whole graham cracker squares, broken into pieces (broken, no smashed!!)
1 bag miniature marshmallows
1 cup milk chocolate chips

Preheat oven to 350. 
Grease 13x9 inch pan. Mix brownie mix according to directions on package. Pour into pan and bake 18 minutes.
Remove from oven and sprinkle with graham cracker pieces, pressing down lightly. Sprinkle evenly with marshmallows and chocolate chips util graham cracker layer cannot be see. Return to oven and continue baking 12 minutes. Let cool before cutting.





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Friday, August 2, 2013

Nashville:Take 2! Church family, Lemon Cheesecake Bars and Camerone's Cocktail!

When our plane arrived in Nashville we immediately went downtown for lunch with a few loved ones from our Nashville church, including our wonderful pastor who was preparing to leave for a mission trip but made time to meet us! Rock Bottom (formerly known as Big River Brewery) was the place of choice and let me tell you how great our waiter was. Not only did he store our backpack full of frozen breastmilk in the restaurant freezer (not lying), he also thawed out a bag for us in warm water. Gotta love some southern hospitality! Lunch was spent catching up with a few amazing people in our life so the bar was set high for the rest of our time in Nashville.


On Friday, we packed our bags and went to stay with another part of our Nashville family, The Waggoners. This family is so special to us and just took Jason and I and loved on us! When I say this is one amazing Christian couple and daughter, that would be an understatement.

They continue to love on us through the miles. And let me tell you, Mrs. Kris is the hostess with the mostess! She cooks like a pro and hospitality is her gift. Everything is made by her or catered She made a Mexican Shrimp Cocktail for us also known as Coctel de Camerones. It was wonderful!A fabulous summer dish.

Mexican Shrimp Cocktail
2 pounds medium shrimp, pre cooked

Salt

1 cup chopped red onion
1 cup peeled, diced cucumber
1 jalapeno, minced
1 small tomato choppe
1 1/2 cup tomato juice
1 cup ketchup (no sugar added)
1/4 cup chopped cilantro
Juice of a lime, about 2 Tbsp
Hot sauce, garlic salt and cumin to taste  to taste
1 avocado, cut into chunks
1 jalapeno diced 
Mix all together (except for shrimp) and spoon into individual dishes. Add shrimp over the side and add a tortilla chip to dip for garnish and dipping.




On Sunday, we all went to our church, St. Paul Community Church together.

It was wonderful to be at our church home and sit amongst the family we had there. And to see the kids that were a part of the Children's ministry while we were there was priceless. This church will have always hold a huge place in our hearts. The families there are beautiful and the outreach done Mrs. Ann is seen everywhere you go. Ms. Ann is like no one you have ever met. She is truly an angel on this earth and chases after God's heart in all she does. She can run CIRCLES around me and from the moment I met her, she felt like another mom to me. And did I mention that we have the same birthday? Seriously. A dynamic duo.


After church, we all went back to the Waggoners where they threw a little soiree and we ate more Mexican! Families and friends from St. Paul joined us and it meant so much! I added Lemon Cheesecake Bars to the dessert selection.
Lemon Cheesecake Bars
1 box lemon cake mix
1/2 cup butter, softened
3 eggs
1 8oz. package cream cheese
1 cup powdered sugar
2 teaspoons grated lemon peel
2 tablespoons lemon juice

1. Heat oven to 350. (325 for dark or nonstick pan). In large bowl, beat cake mix, butter and 1 of the eggs with electric mixer on low speed until crumbly. Press in bottom of 13x9 inch pan.
2. In medium bowl, beat cream cheese on medium speed until smooth On low speed, gradually beat in powdered sugar. Stir in lemon peel and lemon juice until smooth. Reserve 1/2 cup for toppingl rerigerate. Into remaining cream cheese mixture, beat remaining 2 eggs on medium speed until blended. Spread over cake mixture. 
3. Bake 25 to 28 minutes or util set. Cool completely, about 1 hour. Spread with reserved cream cheese mixture. Refrigerate about 3 hours or until firm. 

 My dear friend, Kaitlin Green even joined us and it was sooo good to talk to this sweet face and catch up. She is now director of children's ministry at St. Paul and it is amazing to see all that she is doing. Her heart is beautiful!


The Wallaces are a precious and were the very first family that I met after accepting the children's ministry position at St. Paul.

 I had the joy of not only teaching the Wallace kids on Sunday but I also had her daughter Campbell, in my Mothers Day Out class. Not only that, we receive little packages in the mail from Amy that have Campbell's ADORABLE monogrammed outfits in them. Both of our girls are CCW! Amy truly has a heart of gold.

The Sandersons are near and dear to my heart because I had the pleasure of babysitting their girls many times as well as teaching them on Sunday. I became very close with this family and still cry when I have to tell them good bye. Sarah has always been a beautiful presence in my life and she can light up any room.

After I had Collins, it was Sarah who would ask the tough questions about being a new mom and continually encourage me. And not to mention, she is my Stella and Dot stylist and it is always a happy day when a Stell and Dot  package arrives on my door from Sarah. Her daughters are both beautiful inside and out and I can only pray that Collins has a heart like the both of them. To see her daughters flock over CC and take care of her at our party made my heart so happy but made me feel a tad older too;) They Sanderson girls can now take care of my baby girl!

It was a perfect afternoon with the Waggoner family opening their home and hearts in true form. And Kaitlyn and I had way too much fun wearing her Steeplechase hats by the pool.
The best part of our time in Nashville is to know that every single person who holds a place in our heart was brought to us somehow through one common link...God providing a Christian community for us.

And while our hearts felt so sad to leave, I thanked God on our flight home for the home we have in Nashville and for a new place that is now feeling like home to us...Houston.

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Thursday, August 1, 2013

Nashville Part 1: Best Friends, Caramel Bottom Cake, Junior Mint Brownies and Buckeyes!

We never dreamed of living in Nashville. Frankly, we wanted to live on the beach. Nashville was everything but the beach but we packed up our stuff, one year after being married, and moved there. It turned out to be the sweetest and biggest blessing and our lives will never be the same. You would think it was because of the country music, Honky Tonk row, gorgeous hills and celebrity sightings that wowed us. While we loved these things, honestly, it was the family of friends and community that we had while there. Seriously, we arrived not knowing a soul and within a few months, we had a Nashville family that surrounded us and that family continued to grow. We left Nashville in December 2011 and were able to visit last summer and we just visited again over the 4th of July holiday. It feels like we never left. Our friends were all ready and waiting...here is a small recap with a few amazing recipes that went with me:)

Our first night was spent at our dear friends Amy and Josh's home where I got to FINALLY meet their baby boy, Issac and they got to meet CC! Amazing how much can change in one year! Collins and Issac hit it off and to watch our babies playing together was priceless. That first night was spent in the company of some of our best friends who have never left our side even through our move. Good food and great talks were involved as well as maybeeeeee too much wine and dancing:)

I was in charge of dessert and cooked up a Caramel Bottom Cake. It will knock your socks off!
Caramel Bottom Cake
1 box yellow cake mix
1/4 cup all purpose flower
1 cup flour
1 cup water
1/3 cup vegetable oil 
3 eggs
1 bag toffee bits
1 can dulce de leche 
sweetened whip cream
caramel topping, if desired

1. Heat oven to 350. (325 for dark or nonstick pan)
Spray bottom and sides of 13x9 inch pan with baking spray with flour. 
2. In large boql, beat cake mix, flour, water, oil and eggs with mixer on low speed for 30 seconds. Bet on medium 2 minute, scraping bowl occasionally. Stir in 1/2 cup of toffee bits. Pour into pan. 
3.Reserve 1/2 cup dulce de leche. (If you cannot find dulce de leche, boil one can of sweetened condensed milk for 20 minutes). Spoon remaining dulce de leche by teaspoonfuls onto batter.
4. Bake 30-40 minutes or until toothpick inserted in center comes out clean. Cool 5 minutes. Drop reserved dulce de leche by spoonfuls over top of cake and spread evenly. Sprinkle with remaining toffee bits. Cool about 1 hour before serving. Top each serving with whipped cream and caramel topping. 
The next day was the 4th of July and it rained all day and all night. But it was a great day in spite of the rain...well, after a certain said headache from too much wine went away;) We were able to visit my sweet Ashley's store, Southern Honey, that she co owns with a friend. It is ADORABLE! My little Texas bred friend has an eye for turning old furniture into the cutest piece you ever did see. And they even make their own chalk paint. So proud of her! Kind of thinking she needs to move on back to Texas and I can help her open a store here...just saying;)
That night was spent in the company with the Nashville family that we have known and loved since day one. 

Our great friends who are always up for hosting (Jen and Jett) another party of course had us all over to celebrate being together and the 4th. It was sooooooo (not enough o's to put here so I will stop) good to be together. When we arrived in April of 2008, there were zero kids. Now look how they have multiplied! 
It was the most precious sight to see them all in the same room. This night was spent just laughing, watching our babies and eating lots of food which included Junior Mint brownies.Yummy!

Junior Mint Brownies
1 1/2 cups sugar
1/3 cup unsweetened natural cocoa powder
1 cup all purpose flour
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
3/4 cup butter melted
3 large eggs, lightly beaten
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 3 oz. box Junior Mints, chopped

Preheat oven to 350. Lightly grease a 13x9 inch baking pan. Set aside
In a large bowl, combine sugar, cocoa, flour, baking powder, and salt, stirring well. Add butter, eggs and vanilla, stiring well. Add chopped mints, stirring, to combine. Pour batter into prepared pan.
Bake until set 20 to 25 minutes. Do not overbake. Let cook completely on a wire rack. Cut into squares. 
Saturday was supposed to be our day at the lake. Well, the rain did not corporate and we canceled much to our sad little hearts dismay. But that is okay. We gathered for Mexican food (a if we don't get enough in TX!) and then had a rainy game day together. Our boat food was already made so we had plenty of snacks and my contribution was Cake Frosting Buckeyes. I made these for my Bug...that man LOVES chocolate and peanut butter together.There was not one Buckeye left. Buckeyes that involve cake frosting are pretty much a sin.

Cake Frosting Buckeyes
1 bag (10oz) peanut butter chips
1 (16 oz) container vanila creamy ready to spread frosting
1 bag of semi sweet chocolate chips

1. Line cookie sheets with waxed paper. Melt peanut butter chips over low heat, stirring constantly. Remove from heat. stir in frosting. Let stand until cool enough to handle, about 30 minutes. 
2. Roll mixture into 1 inch balls; place on cookie sheet. Refrigerate 15 minutes. Meanwhile, melt chocolate chips on low heat on stove top.
3. To coat each ball with candy, pierce bal with toothpick, dip into melted chocolate, leaving small area around toothpick uncoated. Place dipped ball on cookie sheet, pushing candy off skewer with tines of fork. Let stand 5 minutes or until set. 
Nashville Part 2 will follow soon!





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