Monday, April 14, 2014

Easy Cheesy White Chicken Enchilada Casserole

A few months ago,
my friend Lisa from Pebbles & Piggytails posted a recipe
We tried it for dinner a while back & absolutely loved it!

My pregnant mind started thinking of different variations of it that we could try since it's so simple...
Hubby even had an awesome idea that I'm going to withhold for now
since I'm sure I'll post about it later!
This dinner was another one of those weird pregnancy thoughts
that turned out to be wonderfully delicious!

They fall madly in love.
Easy Cheesy.

25-30 corn tortillas
2 cups cooked chicken (diced or shredded)
1 pint heavy whipping cream
1 cup sour cream
1/4 cup water
1 1/2 tsp chicken base
1 can diced green chiles
3/4 cup cheddar cheese separated (1/2 cup & 1/4 cup)
2 cups monterey jack cheese

Chop tortillas into bite sized pieces. Heat water with chicken base in the microwave 30 seconds at a time until chicken base is fully melted. Mix together heavy whipping cream, sour cream, & chicken base melted in water. Add chicken, green chiles, 1/2 cup cheddar cheese, & tortillas then mix well. Pour mixture into a 9x13 casserole dish and sprinkle with monterey jack cheese & remaining 1/4 cup cheddar cheese. Bake at 350 degrees for 30-40 minutes until lightly browned.

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Monday, April 7, 2014

Nervous. Stressed. Excited.

Remember when I mentioned that we are moving again?
That's happening in about 3 weeks!
I'm nervous/stressed/excited.

I've nervous because
we haven't listed our current home yet.
We don't want to get stuck with two mortgage payments
& are trying to stay optimistic that it will sell quickly once we list it.
Help me think happy thoughts!

I'm stressed because
there is still so much to do.
Plenty to pack & clean,
Easter to celebrate,
& Little Dudeman's birthday is the same week as our close date.
I've already decided that it will only be a family party this year,
but do we celebrate it before we move or after?
Our entire family has been sick & miserable this past week
so we didn't get very much done in regards to getting the house ready to sell.
It's like a vicious cycle...
If I focus on keeping up with the laundry, dishes, & clutter
then I get no packing or deep cleaning done.
If I focus on packing & deep cleaning
our laundry & dish piles become mountains
& the kids take over the house.
I can't win.
It doesn't help that I've been getting exhausted so easily with this pregnancy.

I'm excited because
we have a new adventure ahead of us!
I will really miss our friends here,
(including the squirrel family that lives in our backyard)
but I am excited to make new friends as well.
I'm excited because my sister is graduating soon & we'll get to see family!
I'm excited because our Tennessee trip is just around the corner & we can see more family!
I'm excited because our little family is going to be growing in 4 months!
I can't wait to meet our new little lady (:
But with everything we have going on,
I highly encourage her to stay nice & comfy until August!

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Wednesday, March 26, 2014

Pineapple Upside-Down Cake Balls

I made these Pineapple Upside-Down Cake Balls
for Little Princess' Lilo & Stitch Luau last week...

I had seen a couple different versions of these here & here,
but neither one included the yummy buttery brown sugar glaze
that is on traditional Pineapple Upside-Down Cake.
I was determined to somehow include it.

1 box Yellow cake mix
1 can crushed pineapple (well-drained, but reserve juice)
1 10 oz jar Maraschino cherries (drained)
1/4 cup butter (melted)
1 cup brown sugar
Vanilla frosting (may not need it)
Yellow candy melts

Make cake mix according to directions but substitute reserved pineapple juice for water called for in the directions. Mix in well-drained crushed pineapple last (I used about a cup, but might try more next time) & bake according to directions. Once completely cooled, crumble with hands or food processor. Combine brown sugar with melted butter. It's okay if not all the brown sugar melts. Drizzle warm brown sugar mixture over the top. Combine well. If the consistency is still off, add frosting little by little until the right consistency is achieved (holds together easily, but not too sticky). Form then flatten a ball of dough & place a cherry in the center. Firmly wrap the dough around the cherry to make a ball again. Place cake balls on a cookie sheet lined with wax paper, then refrigerate 10-15 minutes to firm them up for dipping. Use a fork to submerge each cake ball into melted chocolate & carefully tap off any excess chocolate. Carefully slide the balls off of the fork onto the cookie sheet. 

Note: You may have to bake your cake longer than the directions if you didn't drain enough of the pineapple juice, so making sure that you drain them enough is an important step.

Note: You can chop your cherries & mix them in right after the buttery brown sugar if you don't want them whole.

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Saturday, March 22, 2014

Pulled Pork Hawaiian Haystacks

I grew up eating Hawaiian Haystacks for dinner all the time.
You know...
A bed of rice,
chow mein noodles,
almond slivers,
diced chicken with some sort of gravy sauce that I never wanted to put on mine,
whatever you see fit really.
I've seen plenty of variations online lately
with all sorts of different toppings...

When we lived in California,
we were feeding some LDS missionaries for dinner
& decided to have Hawaiian Haystacks.
One of the elders was from the islands.
He informed us that although the meal was tasty,
the only things Hawaiian about it
were the pineapple, coconut, & the bed of rice.
That has bothered me ever since.

When I was planning Little Princess' Lilo & Stitch party
I instantly thought of Hawaiian Haystacks for dinner.

I started thinking of ways to make it slightly more authentic...
Hawaiian Sweet Potatoes?

Here's what we decided:
Ignore the blue jello with Swedish fish in the picture.
We didn't eat that on the Haystacks...

Pulled Pork Hawaiian Haystacks
Bed of rice
Crockpot Hawaiian Pulled Pork (recipe below)
Chow Mein noodles
Monterey Jack cheese
Almond slivers
Pineapple tidbits
Shredded coconut
Banana Poi (recipe below)

We tried it both with & without the poi on top.
I liked it both ways.
With the poi it is definitely sweeter,
but you don't need to add that much or it may overpower the other flavors.
A light drizzle should do (:

We served King's Sweet Hawaiian Rolls on the side of the Haystacks.
Hubby tried the pulled pork on those & said it was good too.

I found this recipe for Slow Cooker Hawaiian Pulled Pork over at East 9th Street,
but ended up doing a few things differently...

Crockpot Hawaiian Pulled Pork
3 lbs pork loin, cut into 3-4" pieces (next time I might try 2-3" pieces if using it for Haystacks)
1 cup onion, chopped into small pieces but not quite minced
2/3 cup ketchup
1/3 cup brown sugar
1/3 cup tomato paste
1/2 cup apple cider vinegar
2 Tbsp paprika
2 Tbsp soy sauce
2 tsp salt
1 can crushed pineapple, drained (I only used 1/2 can since I needed the rest for Pineapple Upside-Down Cake Balls, but next time I'm going to try the whole can)

Cut the pork & place in crockpot. Add the rest of the ingredients & cover. Cook on low for 8-10 hours or until the pork can be easily shredded with two forks. Shred all the meat in the crockpot & turn off heat.

As for the Banana Poi...
I found the recipe at,
but could not find coconut cream anywhere
so I decided to try it with cream of coconut instead.
I just used whatever was left after making the piña coladas.
(approx 1/2 can)
my poi was probably a little sweeter than it would be if I had stuck to the original recipe.

Banana Poi
2 cups very ripe bananas, mashed
2 Tbsp lemon juice
1 cup coconut cream (I used roughly 1/2 can cream of coconut instead)

Mash bananas until a smooth paste is formed. Add the lemon juice. Gradually add the coconut cream, stirring constantly. Chill & serve.

If you try this version of Hawaiian Haystacks
let me know what you think...
Do you like it better with or without the poi?

Don't forget to check out the Lilo & Stitch luau!
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Friday, March 21, 2014

Lilo & Stitch Luau

I can't believe Little Princess is two!

She LOVES Lilo & Stitch right now,
so we went with that theme for her second birthday party.

Since I've been dealing with a lot of stress lately
we decided to just stick with our little ohana.
My dad has been in town this week for a business trip
so we were more than excited to have him celebrate with us!

The kidlets love it when Grampa comes to visit! (:
He watched Lilo and Stitch with them
while Hubby & I were finishing up getting dinner ready...

Then we turned on the Hawaiian music Pandora station & sat down for dinner...
with Banana Poi,
(not pictured)
King's Hawaiian sweet rolls,
blue jello jigglers with Swedish fish,
& delicious virgin Piña Coladas that I wish I had more of right now.
(not pictured)

The kids enjoyed their Piña Coladas in plastic coconut cups that I found at Party City,
but they didn't have enough for everyone so I just bought two...
I also bought Salted Caramel Macadamia Clusters from Costco for everyone to munch on,
but we were all so full that I don't think anyone had any!

If you look back at the first picture you can see leis at each seat
& a little dress that looks kinda like a muumuu...
The plan was to have everyone dress up as Hawaiian as possible,
but all of our leis were already packed so I had to buy more.
I bought the dress for Little Princess since I knew she didn't have anything Hawaiian,
but I couldn't find ANYTHING for Little Dudeman.
He ended up wearing a pajama "surf" shirt & some matching non-pajama shorts.
I wore my muumuu,
Hubby wore his Hawaiian shirt,
& we let Grampa borrow a Hawaiian tie.

We let Little Princess decide which color leis we were all going to wear,
but then she decided that she wanted to wear all the leis.
I wish I had a picture of that.
It was adorable!

We never got a group picture with all of us dressed up in our garb.
With or without leis.
But we did get some pictures of the kids opening presents...

Yes, kids.
Little Dudeman helped Little Princess open them
because the wrapping paper was impenetrable.

after a blur of excitement (:

& lots of silliness...
It was time for cake!
Little Princess had a miniature Pineapple Upside-Down Cake
so that she could blow out her candles.

Then we all munched on Pineapple Upside-Down Cake Balls
while eating banana pineapple "ice cream"
made with my Yonanas machine.
It was all very good
but very rich!

By then it was getting pretty late,
we were all really full,
& Hubby had more work to do
so we decided to call it a night.

If we had more time we could have done a few of these things:
Make hula skirts
Make fruit loop leis
Hula dancing
Hula hooping
Play the ukulele
Listen to some Elvis music
Science experiments (since that's what Stitch is)

For more Lilo & Stitch party ideas
you can check out my Luau board on Pinterest
or revisit my Lilo & Stitch themed week (:

Also, you can figure out your Hawaiian name here...

Aloha 'Oe
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Friday, March 14, 2014

Becoming a budget sleuth

We've been using YNAB for about a year now.
You'd think I would have it 100% figured out by now, right?

I learn something new every time I check out the blog,
every time I visit the forums,
I most importantly -- when I learn from my mistakes.

Now I could be way off when I say this,
but I'm sure Jesse (the guy that started YNAB) still learns new things from time to time too.

I'm no budget guru.
I don't have it all figured out.
Our budget is nowhere near perfect.
In fact, it has plenty of flaws.
Which means we have plenty to learn from & plenty of room for improvement.
We're just an average couple that set a goal last year to make some major budgeting changes.

We had kind of reached a net worth plateau
& it wasn't until September or October this past year
that I started to really grasp what was going wrong with our budget.
We weren't truly following the 4 rules...

1. Give every dollar a job (Be the boss of ALL of your money)
2. Save for a rainy day (Break all big expenses into manageable monthly chunks)
3. Roll with the punches (Be flexible & address overspending before it becomes a problem)
4. Live on last month's income (Stop living paycheck to paycheck)

It's amazing how well those rules work when you follow them correctly,
& depressing how quickly that net worth can drop or become stagnant when not following the rules.

We were assigning every dollar a job
& rolling with the punches by moving things around when we would overspend.
But we weren't checking the category balances before spending,
which of course led to overspending.
Our rainy day funds would then become depleted as we moved things around,
making it near impossible to live on last month's income.

It's been quite the bumpy road,
(okay, maybe more like a roller-coaster)
but now we are debt free except for the house AND have a one month buffer going!
(meaning we are finally living on last month's income)
Such an awesome feeling!

Our next step is to remember to use the YNAB app on our smartphones religiously.
Because without checking the balances ahead of time,
we tend to very easily get sucked into the black hole of bad spending habits
& then we end up pulling from categories that we would rather not have to pull from,
simply because we are less aware of how much money is in each category.
There was an awesome post about that on the YNAB blog recently.
You should definitely check it out.
If that doesn't solve our problem,
we'll at least have one better budgeting habit under our belts.

We'll also have another reason to pull out our detective caps & magnifying glasses
to figure out what else we can do to better our budget & increase that net worth.

photo credit:

It's kind of fun being a sleuth when you think about it.
The delayed gratification that comes with solving a mystery after following the right clues
can parallel to the delayed gratification that comes with finally making a purchase
after saving up for it the right way.

I've noticed less & less delayed gratification in today's society.
We have cell phones at our fingertips with the ability to look things up in an instant.
We don't have to wait to receive a hand-written letter by snail mail since we have texting & email.
We can buy things on credit cards when we don't have the money saved up for an instant purchase.
However, I highly advise against that habit.

Seriously though, just don't do it.

I think it's human nature to want to take the easiest or quickest route to get things done...
We're constantly looking for shortcuts or life hacks.
But remembering things without looking them up keeps your brain healthy,
hand-written letters are so much more meaningful than a text,
& saving up for that purchase the right way can help you appreciate what you bought
so much more than just putting it on a piece of plastic & racking up more debt.

Because debt makes nobody happy.
Except for debt collectors.
Other people's debt is job security for them, so they probably appreciate it.

What I'm getting at is that if you take a step back & look at your budget with a new perspective
you may find something that you can easily change,
and have one of those "By Jove, I think we've got it" moments.
Then you can improve your budget, save more money, & feel better about your purchases.

Take the road less traveled.
Enjoy the scenery along the way.
It will be worth it.

Delayed gratification, folks...
Keep it alive.

Interested in buying YNAB?
Check out this link to get $6 off your purchase!

Also, you should check out my Building a Better Budget post if you haven't already read it...



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