Wild West Sizzlin' Chicken Tacos

last night for dinner, i made the recipe that is on my betty crocker calender for the month of may, at my husband's request. here's what they looked like fresh out of the oven...

2 cups cooked chicken strips
1/2 tsp ground cumin
1/2 tsp paprika
4 Old El Paso Stand 'N Stuff taco shells
1 medium red bell pepper, cut into thin strips
1 cup BBQ baked beans
1 cup shredded Monterey Jack cheese
4 slices bacon, crisply cooked, crumbled

heat oven to 400*. In a small bowl, toss chicken strips with cumin and paprika to coat. In 8-inch square glass baking dish, stand taco shells side by side. Fill each shell evenly with seasoned chicken. Divide pepper strips evenly over chicken. Top each with 1/4 cup baked beans and 1/4 cup of cheese. Sprinkle with bacon. Bake 8 minutes or until thoroughly heated and cheese is melted. If desired, garnish with grape tomatoes.

**a few things to note**
chicken...is easily interchangeable...some other options include: frozen chicken strips already cooked, pulled chicken from a rotisserie from your local grocery store deli, cook a chicken yourself and pull the meat, purchase bone-in chicken breasts ON SALE AT BI-LO through Tuesday for $0.89/lb (reg $2.59/lb) and pull the meat after cooking, etc, etc. there are lots of options for chicken. mine was the Bi-Lo deal, I bought a bunch friday and put it in the freezer. I put 4 frozen pieces in the crockpot yesterday morning with seasoning, turned it on high, left the house for several hours and came home to yummy smells and chicken that was ready to be pulled and used in my recipe for dinner and then again for lunch today.

i used green peppers instead of red.

next time i think i'll add some BBQ sauce in with the chicken and seasonings.

it's probably worth it to buy the bigger taco shells...i just bought the regular ones and it was hard to get everything in them.

i used 4-cheese mexican blend cheese.

okay -- that's all the modifications. overall, we thought they were quite tasty -- a nice change! next time i'll probably try adding some BBQ sauce to the chicken and maybe using taco seasoning instead of the paprika and cumin.

here's the picture from bc's website which look a WHOLE lot yummier than mine...

and the recipe can be found HERE also...


FREE Martha Stewart Summer Grilling Cookbook

click HERE to download the
Martha Stewart Summer 2011 Grilling Cookbook
For FREE...and let me know which recipes you try!


on a stormy afternoon in may...

...we're under a severe thunderstorm warning...the first in 4 weeks. i had no idea it would be this hard. i keep hearing the whisper of, "oh ye of little faith..." i am the fishermen in the boat with Jesus, today. i am continually hearing His gentle voice, "do not be anxious..." but...IT. IS. HARD.

4 weeks ago yesterday, 1 month ago tomorrow a F2/F3 (there is some debate...) tornado ripped through our neighborhood, literally passing through our backyard, leaving debris and destruction

the wind is picking up...and the knot is my stomach is tightening. to think i used to want to be a "storm chaser..."

we were blessed...when i look at pictures of other places in nearby cities and states, and then those most recently from missouri, i have nothing, NOTHING, to complain about. and i'm not complaining. but, i'm not denying that it was really scary...and the thought of it happening again is really scary. "I will never leave you nor forsake you..." (I know Lord...I know....help my unbelief, please.)

strong winds now, heavy downpours of rain, hail beating down...

and my daughter sleeps peacefully through it all. i want THAT peace...i want to rest in the arms of my savior and know, really KNOW that i am safe. i believe it, but my faith is weak. "I can do ALL things through Christ..."

as i've watched the cleanup, the rebuilding, and the restoration starting to take place in our neighborhood, it has been a constant reminder of our dirty, destroyed hearts, and the work that God does in them, little by little, preparing us for eternity with Him.

my friend from down the street, the one who is living in a rental home because hers was destroyed by the tornado, she says she'd take the tornado again because of the opportunities it has provided to show God's grace to others. her faith is a testimony to me. truly, THAT is a picture of God's grace in our lives. and i have a long way to go. but, HE is faithful, even when we are not. HE is faithful, not because we believe, but because HE is GOD, and He is GOOD (not safe, narnia fans, but GOOD).

it's calmer now...but the sky is still growling, and i feel the knot loosening... i write these things to remind myself to "cast all these cares upon Him..." another test of faith on this stormy afternoon... and i'm finding myself increasingly grateful that i HAVE a God...THE GOD...to whom i can turn...all the time...not just the "stormy" times. and that He has seen fit to rescue me from the destruction and debris of the "tornado" of sin.


wednesday wardrobe post...

i love reading posts of "what i wore wednesday" and the like. i've thought about posting, but i just don't think any of you would be interested in seeing what i wear on any given wednesday. my daughter, however, has some pretty cute outfits and i'd rather take photos of her than me anyday, so we'll do the wednesday wardrobe thing...kid-style. :-)

apparently it's customary to list the brand name and/or store purchased for each item, so here goes...

shirt: Children's Place (found brand new at yard sale)
skort: Circo by Target (found gently used at yard sale)
shoes: Circo by Target (purchased new)

bubbles and a paci are always in style when it comes to accessories, y'all. ;-)


sweet surprise muffins

these are a tasty breakfast, dessert, or snack with coffee/tea. use your favorite jelly, jam, or preserves...my favorite is my mom's homemade strawberry freezer jam.  click here for printable version.

2 eggs
1 cup milk
1/2 cup oil
3 cups flour
1 cup sugar
4 teaspoons baking powder
1 teaspoon salt

Preheat oven to 400*. Beat eggs. Add milk and oil. Mix remaining ingredients until moistened, batter will be lumpy. Fill muffin cups 1/3 full. Spoon 1-2 tsp jam on top of batter...

cover with batter to fill muffin cups 2/3 full. bake 20-25 minutes.



the one where she went to walmart...

friday morning, very early, found me and C at walmart...early in the morning is the *only* time to go to walmart, IMHO. i had been saving some free product coupons and wanted to use them before they expired and to pad my ever-so-quickly-dwindling grocery money for the week. does that happen to you, or is it just me? here's what we ended up with from this trip...

grand total: $1.90

yep...that's a savings of about 83%, because before coupons my total would have been $22.88. i LOVE these kinds of trips...but this is not an average trip...i repeat...this is NOT an average trip. this was a special trip. normally i'm happy with a savings percentage of around 50% when couponing, so this was abnormal. i had free coupons for one of the boxes of cereal, the creamer, all the powerade, the cheese, and the hair gel. i had regular coupons for the other items which made all of them free (+overage!!!) for everything except the other box of cereal and the onion.

how? (if you know how...skip the rest of the this post. ;-))

i am a member of VOCALPOINT...they send me products to try and really good coupons too. i received a sample of the cereal along with a B1G1 coupon and another for $1.00 off. these are $2.98 at walmart, so one box was free and the $1.00 off was used on the other box, so i paid $1.98 for two boxes of cereal. :-) when using a B1G1 coupon, you can also use a $$/off coupon on the item that you are buying (not the free one).

i am also a member of KRAFT FIRST TASTE...they send me coupons for free kraft products ALL. THE. TIME. thus the cheese...

i have a MYCOKEREWARDS account where i put in the codes from coke/powerade caps...3 points per cap, and a coupon for a free 20 oz coke or 32 oz powerade is only 30 points....that's 10 caps. NOT. HARD. and if you buy 12-pks of cans...they're worth 10 points. i have been known to pull coke bottles out of trash cans just so i could grab the cap... so, 4 of the powerades came from those coupons, and one was because i used a B1G1 coupon and then for the one i was "paying" for, i used a coke coupon. yes...that is legal. if you want further explanation, let me know.

the creamer and the hair gel were from special offers online...i read 3 blogs daily (i received an e-mail of all the posts each day...1 email for each blog). between these 3 blogs i get lots of free offers. they are:

finally, the travel shampoo, deodorant, and detergent were coupons from a P&G mailer (sign up HERE)...if coupons do NOT state restrictions about size, they can be used for trial/travel size. most of the time it will make the product free, and sometimes (depending on the store) it will even provide you with some overage to go to your other items. in this case, the tide was free, the shampoo was a $1.00 moneymaker, and the deodorant was a $0.50 moneymaker.

and the red onion....well....that's for the BBQ CHICKEN PIZZA that i'm hoping to make tonight for dinner...



my daughter is 22 months old. she's a delight, she really is. i love spending time with her. i also love to keep my house neat and tidy and often the two go hand in hand. i am teaching her how to do the things that i do so that we can spend time together "keeping house". she's a little homemaker in training, and i have a great responsibility in training her...not just for homemaking, of course. right now, she DELIGHTS in helping me (unless of course daddy is around to play "i'll get you"....aka chase.), so i'm taking full advantage of this and giving her "chores" of her own.

she loves to help unload the dishwasher and she's getting pretty good at putting away the silverware...
yes, those are sharp knives there, but she is aware that they are dangerous and she will warn anyone who gets near them of their impending danger.
and...one of us is always right with her when she putting away the dishes...
she's pretty fond of loading the dishwasher too....now if only i could get her to stop taste-testing the remaining morsels as she's loading...
in an effort to encourage an already positive relationship between C and the dog, we've started having her prepare the dog's food.
i don't think she sees it as a chore...she loves to pour things, so she thinks it's playtime...
she's just about able to complete this one without any assistance from us...can it be? she is just growing up TOO fast.
i didn't really feel too much like *waxing eloquent* on how i feel about kids helping out around the house, as i've already written several scheduled posts and i'm starting to feel brain-weary, but there's a good post HERE that pretty much sums up how i feel on the subject.


secrets of a homemaker...

as homemakers, we have certain *secrets*, tricks of the trade we'll call them....shortcuts. you know...those substitutions you make when you realize you don't have time for the actual thing, or ingredient... using the dustbuster to hit the *high* spots instead of vacuuming, spot-cleaning the floor instead of actually mopping the whole thing, using regular milk and vinegar or lemon juice instead of buttermilk...the list goes on and on... or maybe you don't do those things... well, confession time... i do. not all the time, but sometimes....sometimes substitutions must be made. and i've found a secret that i hope you'll love...

there is a reason this bottle is sitting on my dining room table and not on the shelf in my closet. at the time the picture was taken, i had just used this lovely product to free my tablecloth of its wrinkles before company arrived. i love to iron, but i don't love to iron tablecloths. solution: try to grab the tablecloth out of the dryer as soon as it's finished, put it on the table, spray with downy, smooth out the wrinkles, and enjoy. not quite as crisp as an ironed finish, but definitely more acceptable than the wrinkly-just-out-of-the-dryer-look.

(it also works well on clothes, imagine that(!), and i find it's very helpful to keep a bottle in my travel bag, purse, diaper bag...you get the idea. the travel size is around $1.50 at walmart and target.)


manicure... (on the cheap)

i like pretty nails. but i don't have pretty nails. it's not that i bite them or can't grow them...it's just that i'm a mom and homemaker and i like to work in the yard...so between the dishes, cleaning, yardwork, etc, my nails just don't look pretty. ENTER do-it-yourself manicure time!

i was introduced to these two fine products several months ago when i had a coupon for $1.00 off kiss nails and read a 'heads-up' on a blog that dollar general had these sets for $2.00. i decided to give it a try. i love the look, loved the price, and was pretty much hooked. i don't do my nails ALL the time, because i don't have that much time that i want to spend on it, and it seems kind of silly if i'm just going to be working around the house anyway. BUT, i do enjoy doing them for special occasions, or if we're going out of town (because i do WAY LESS dishes, cleaning, laundry, and yardwork when we're out of town....funny how that works! ;-))
2 essentials (well...in addition to the nails and the glue!) - nail clippers and a good nail file. i like the 3 or 4 sided nail files that you can purchase at drugstores. trim and file your own nails before applying glue and artificial nails. be careful with the glue...i've glued my fingers together and other uncoordinated things with that stuff. speaking of glue....this is where i'd like to insert that i have a great husband. i texted him at 9:30 one night last week while he was out running errands to ask if he would stop by dollar general and pick up some nail glue for me b/c the top was glued shut on mine. he was so sweet to stop and to squeeze through the aisle where they had stacked all the merchandise to be re-stocked in order to get the glue for me. :) so...nails like the ones pictured here are $2.00 at dollar general, and the glue is $1.50. it takes about 15-20 minutes start-finish....trimming nails, applying artificial nails and trimming those (if desired). i'll take that over a $25 salon manicure...ANY DAY.
here's the finished look. i was pleased and i've had several people comment on them and they were surprised that i did them myself....so...psst....you can't tell. ;-)
as far as how well they hold up -- i'll have to say that this particular set has held up far better than the ones i have used previously, but i'm pretty sure i bought the same exact kind. normally after about the 3rd or 4th day i start to see the white chipping off or the glue comes off, but these still look pretty good and I've been working inside and out in the yard for the past 3 days...including garden work, brush work, painting, dishes, laundry, etc.... (i did wear gloves for the painting/gardening). here's what they look like today...and i did them on thursday...so 1 week tomorrow night. (sorry the pic is blurry)
(my pinkie nail came off this morning, so i had to glue it back on and had a glue explosion, so the white crusty stuff around the pinkie nail is glue...but, a little warm water and it will probably come off....if i can ever remember to do it...hmm...maybe i'll go right now!)

be sure to read all labels before using these products so you know what you're dealing with, and enjoy your manicure....and i won't tell anyone you did it yourself...it'll be our little secret. :)


ice cream sandwich dessert

(two posts today since i haven't posted in almost a week!)

so....i LOVE the posts that janelle over at COMFY IN THE KITCHEN does on recipes with pictures of each step. i decided to try that today, and well...she is much more gifted at it than me. so...don't expect TOO many more of these types of posts...and yes, i am well aware that practice makes perfect, but the goal is for people to actually WANT to read my blog...

so this morning i made this ice cream sandwich dessert for our small group tonight because some of us were discussing it last week and it seemed only fitting that i make it. the thing i love about this dessert is that it's quick and easy, fairly inexpensive, requires few ingredients, and you can change it up to suit your tastes. here's what you start with:

lay the ice cream sandwiches in a single layer in a 9x13 pan. (and in case amelia bedelia is reading this, be sure to unwrap them first.) ;-)
i forgot to take the picture, so here you see the ice cream sandwiches and the fudge sauce plopped on top. and then, if you're trying to win the mommy of the year award, give the 1/2 ice cream sandwich that is leftover to your toddler...even if it isn't a nutritious breakfast...

what?? doesn't everybody wear mardi gras beads with their pink pajamas?!?

spread the fudge sauce over the ice cream sandwiches....you can use any flavor ice cream topping...
next, spread the cool whip over top and smooth it out...
and, because your toddler surely hasn't had enough sugar for the day, give her a heaping spoonful of "cream" because it's just so darn cute the way she says, "some cream on spoon, please?"

and, just for good measure, let her lick the spatula when you're all done...
finally, drizzle caramel syrup (or flavor of your choice) on top of the cool whip. preferably, using less than i did, because mine looks more like a monsoon of syrup than a "drizzle." also, chop up your favorite candy bar and sprinkle on top... preferably using more than i did, because i think mine looks like a frugal person made it. ;-)
for the actual recipe and a much tastier looking picture, CLICK HERE.

new (to us) coffee table

my mom was visiting recently and we hit 2 neighborhood yard sales on saturday morning. i prefer neighborhood sales, because you can hit bunches of yards all within a short distance. those and church rummage sales are the best, IMHO. i have been on the lookout for a new coffee table as we were borrowing the one we had, and came across this one...

...only it didn't look like this, and i FORGOT to take a before picture. i know, how are you supposed to get the full effect, right? try, just try imagining.... it was a much lighter wood-stain... lighter even than our floors. i used "espresso satin" paint from home depot ($2.98/can x 2 cans), and i'm pleased with the result. the 1st coat actually looked much smoother, but there were some spots where the lighter color was showing through so i decided to do a 2nd coat.
i'm pleased. not bad for a $5 table and $6 in paint. now...i just have to decide what other pieces of furniture in my living room i want to paint to coordinate. most likely, the telephone table and the buffet....stay tuned...



while i'm on the subject of nicknames my grandfather had for things....makeup was commonly referred to as "warpaint" in his house...no idea why. :)

i'm a member of Bzzagent and they recently sent me some samples (full size!) of what i like to call "that taylor swift makeup". it's actually called natureluxe by Covergirl.

i'm a clinique girl, through and through....i looked forward to my 15th birthday for YEARS, because that's when mom said she would take me to the clinique counter at the mall for my "makeover" and i could start wearing makeup. ever since then, i've been pretty loyal, trying a few new things here and there. and i still stick to clinique for the basics, but i love to try new stuff too.

the foundation that i normally wear is the clinique almost makeup. (i'm having trouble locating this on their website, so perhaps they are no longer carrying it...?) i like it because it's very light, you can hardly tell you're wearing it....i don't really like to FEEL my makeup. the CG natureluxe goes on light and i don't really notice that i'm wearing it. however, it does need to be washed off. (my secret's out...i don't always wash my face/wash my makeup off before bed....my skin is weird and i've found that washing it at night/washing my makeup off actually makes it break out...gross, i know.) this foundation covers well and i like the "dry" finish that it has. often a foundation leaves my skin looking oily, but this gives a nice powder look w/o powder. the color i received is 330 chamois and i might choose something just a shade or two lighter. it does have SPF10.

i'm practically in LOVE with the lipstick they sent me! the shade is 215 hibiscus and it's gorgeous. just enough pink without being too eyecatching. in my opinion, it's the perfect shade of pink. it goes on more like a gloss, but not too shiny. i can't stand the "feel" of lipstick, so i tend to stick to gloss or lipstain, but this one's a keeper!

i also received (5) coupons for $2.00 off natureluxe silk foundation, exp 8.31.11. if you'd like to try it, leave me a comment and i'll be happy to send you a coupon. (US addresses only)


rabbit food...

that's what my grandfather called salads...rabbit food. well, we had rabbit food for dinner last night, and it was SO yummy. when the weather turns warmer, i don't love the idea of turning on my oven and heating up my kitchen, and i really don't have a taste for hot foods. a cool salad sounds so appealing! i like to have everything ready so that we can grab the leftovers for a quick lunch (or snack). we were a bit low in the veggie department last night so ours may not have been the healthiest of salads, but at least we got some greens and some protein. i used a combo of romaine and green leaf lettuce (can't wait to try OUR lettuce from the garden!), carrots, cherry tomatoes, cucumbers, cheddar cheese, boiled eggs, and then i cooked some chicken and made croutons. for the chicken i used 2 small boneless chicken breasts, cut into chunks, and sauteed them in a pan with some roasted red pepper and parmesan italian dressing. often i will bake or grill the chicken, but i was pressed for time and didn't want to turn on the oven yesterday. the croutons are just bread that i cut into chunks, drizzled with melted butter (or olive oil), and sprinkled with seasoning (your choice...i used garlic salt) and toasted. easy dinner! (and most kids like it too, especially if they get to make their own salad...)



this is a picture of our little garden this year...gardens always look beautiful right after you've worked in them for awhile, so i snapped this picture before things got too icky again. there's lots of gardening going on around here....gardening of the outside plant-life kind, and gardening of the inside spiritual-life kind. tomorrow will be 2 weeks since an F-3 tornado came through our neighborhood. thankfully, no one was killed or badly injured. i'm not really at a point where i'm ready to post about this yet, but that's the reason for the lack of posting these last couple of weeks. i think i'm ready to get back into this. we have much to be thankful for and really didn't have much damage, considering our friends down the street and neighbors around the corner no longer have houses. so, without any further rambling, here's the count for our garden, and yes, i'm shamelessly copying my friend, brite's idea...

6 broccoli
6 cauliflower (5 are still alive...)
4 (slicing) tomato
2 (salsa) tomato
2 green pepper
1 red pepper
1 yellow pepper
1 orange pepper
5 cucumbers
4 yellow squash
4 zucchini squash
10 spring mix lettuce
8 rows corn/bush beans interspersed
1 rosemary
2 chives

ps -- gardening has been put on hold indefinitely until the cicadas decide they're done overtaking our yard. it is not an exaggeration to say that there are thousands of them in our backyard. after having them get inside my clothing on 2 separate occasions, i have no desire to visit the backyard anytime soon...well, i have the desire, but not the guts. perhaps i need to do a post on cicadas...
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