Chicken Chili Rice Bowls & Food Lion Giveaway

Disclosure: This is a sponsored post. I am a Food Lion blogger, and I joined their blogger program because we share the same mission–to help you feed your family for less. 

Food Lion wants to help you get dinner on the table quick & easy. Their latest Dish it Up! promotion is fantastic–through January 20th, when you buy $10 of fresh chicken, you get corn, tomatoes, rice and tomato sauce for FREE, to help you make an easy meal. We tried these Chicken Chili Rice Bowls, and it took less than 30 minutes to cook.

Chicken Chili Rice Bowls | MoneywiseMoms

You can head over to Food Lion and get the recipe, but I’ve also posted it below. While you’re there, you’ll find other Dish it Up! weeknight dinners to help you get dinner done fast.

Chicken Chili Rice Bowls | MoneywiseMoms

4.7 from 11 reviews
Chicken Chili Rice Bowls
Prep time: 
Cook time: 
Total time: 
Serves: 6 servings
 
Ingredients
  • 1 1/2 uncooked long grain white rice
  • 1 Tbsp olive oil
  • 1 lb. boneless, skinless chicken breasts, halved
  • 2 (14.5 oz) cans No Salt Added Diced Tomatoes
  • 1/2 (28oz) can Tomato Sauce
  • zest of 1 lime
  • juice of 1 lime
  • 2-3 tsp chili powder, to taste
  • 1 tsp cumin
  • 1/8 tsp cayenne pepper, to taste
  • 1 (15.25oz) can Whole Kernel Corn, drained
  • 1 (15oz) can black beans, rinsed and drained
Instructions
  1. Cook rice according to package directions, using chicken broth instead of water, if desired. Set aside.
  2. Meanwhile, heat oil in large saucepan or Dutch oven, over medium-high heat. Brown chicken 3 minutes on each side. Add diced tomatoes, tomato sauce, lime zest, lime juice, chili powder, cumin, and cayenne; stir.
  3. Bring to a boil; reduce heat to medium and simmer for 10 minutes or until chicken is no longer pink inside.
  4. Remove chicken breasts to a cutting board, letting sauce simmer another 10 minutes. Meanwhile, chop or shred chicken, then return to saucepan and add corn and beans.
  5. Cook until heated through and chili is slightly thickened. Season to taste with salt and pepper, if desired. Serve chili over rice.

Serve with extra toppings like sour cream, shredded cheddar cheese, chopped green onions, diced avocado or lime wedges. The leftovers (if you have any) taste great the next day for lunch!

Giveaway Time

Food Lion wants to help you Dish it Up! and get dinner on the table for your family. Two lucky MoneywiseMoms readers will each win a $50 Food Lion Gift Card. If you’re reading in an email subscription or feed, please click over to the post so you can use the Rafflecopter entry form. Good luck!

a Rafflecopter giveaway

This giveaway ends at 11:59pm ET on Friday, January 30th. Each winner will have 48 hours to reply back to their prize email from me, otherwise, I will have to choose alternate winners.

Chicken Chili Rice Bowls | MoneywiseMoms

 

Linked up to Real Food Recipe Roundup at Jo Lynne Shane

Super Easy M&M Cake Bars {just 5 ingredients}

Heading to a Valentine’s Day party, or just need a treat for the kids’ lunchboxes? These Super Easy M&M Cake Bars only have five ingredients (one is water!), and they’re quick to make. Another option is to use your favorite team’s colors, and put them out with your Game Day food.

Super Easy M&M Cake Bars | Just 5 ingredients and perfect for Valentines | MoneywiseMoms

Super Easy M&M Cake Bars
 
Ingredients
  • 1 box yellow cake mix (or substitute your favorite flavor)
  • 2 eggs
  • 1/4 cup water
  • 1/3 cup oil
  • 1 cup M&Ms
Instructions
  1. Mix cake mix and wet ingredients together, using a hand mixer, until smooth.
  2. Spread into a 9x12 baking dish, prepared with non-stick cooking spray.
  3. Sprinkle the M&Ms on the top and press lightly into the batter (see note below for alternative).
  4. Bake 20-25 minutes at 350 degrees, or until edges are golden brown and pulling away from pan.
  5. Let cool completely before cutting into bars.

To get the brightest colors, press the M&Ms into the top of the batter. Another option is to fold them gently into the batter before filling the pan. It’s not quite as pretty that way, but then the M&Ms are distributed throughout the top and bottom. (Most kids gobble them up before noticing where exactly the M&Ms are placed.)

 

 Linked up to Pin Junkie Pin Party at The Pin Junkie, Good Tips Tuesday at A Bird and a Bean, Tasty Tuesdays at Creative K Kids, Monday Funday at Uncommon Designs, Craftastic Monday at Sew Can Do, SITS GirlsWeekend Bloggy Reading at Serenity Now, Pin Party at Pin Junkie and Tis the Season Linkup at Bon Bon Girls.

2015 Financial Goals (here we go!)

2015 Financial Goals | MoneywiseMoms

New year, new goals! If you’ve never set financial goals for yourself and your family, this can be your year. Read how we do ours. We’ve been setting these goals for 7 years now and have had so many ups and downs. Even with me posting them publicly, to help us stay accountable, we still fail sometimes. This time around, we’re using the failure as our impetus to do much better this year.

For us, the key to achieving these goals is remembering our motivation–but it’s SO HARD to be motivated for retirement. I’m not enjoying getting older (my birthday was just two weeks ago), and I would rather have the money NOW. But we’ve worked so hard to get where we are that I know we’re on the right track. Sigh.

Our 2015 Financial Goals:

  1. Live off a two-paycheck budget each month. We went through our monthly expenses and created a budget based on two paychecks per month instead of a monthly salary. Since our health insurance rate went up, my husband is bringing home less per month than he did last year, which was a great reason to review all of our monthly expenses.
  2. Work to reduce our monthly expenses. As the kids have gotten older and life has gotten busier, we’ve found ourselves getting looser with our budget. This year, I want to tackle 2- 3 budget lines each month (both needs and wants) and reduce what we can. In some cases, I may need to go back to old habits that I’ve let go. . Yes, our budget includes personal allowances for all five of us, to be spent however we’d like, plus a small amount for “family entertainment” and “eating out.” I cook 6 of the 7 days of the week, and the 7th night we eat leftovers or takeout if there aren’t any.
  3. Deposit the maximum into my IRA for 2015 by contributing automatically each month. We’ve had to play catch-up the past two years, and that needs to stop. We need to “pay ourselves first” and live off the rest.
  4. Add $5,000 more to our emergency fund. Again, paying ourselves first. We didn’t accomplish this last year and need to set this money aside. We were following Dave Ramsey’s 7 Baby Steps and skipped ahead to Step 4 before finishing Step 3.
  5. Set aside $3,000 for an orthodontics fund. We have three children, and they all need braces. One has started treatment, and another is expected to start in August. This is a temporary need over the next few years, but I want to pay up front since we receive a discount by doing so.
  6. Earn $12,000 (net) with my two side businesses (blogging and babysitting) to use towards kids’ sports, summer camp, and a family vacation, barring Murphy’s Law.

We have some pretty big numbers up there, and it feels like a lot seeing it laid out that way, but writing down your goals makes you more likely to achieve them. Since it’s early in the year, I’m feeling really motivated (it’s two months from now that I’ll need a kick in the pants!). I will update our progress at the end of March (and every quarter the rest of the year). Would love to hear from you:

What are your family’s 2015 Financial Goals?

Original image from Ryan McGuire at Magdeleine

Mitsubishi Outlander SE {Car Review}

I was provided with a Mitsubishi Outlander SE from DriveSTI for a test drive and review. I was not compensated, and all opinions are my own.

Welcome to wacky winter weather! Between freezing rain, a 64-degree day, and then a touch of snow, I gave the 2015 Mitsubishi Outlander SE quite the test drive. This is my second time driving a CUV (crossover utility vehicle), and I drove it all around town as well as on a road trip to Busch Gardens Christmas Town.

 

Mitsubishi Outlander #CarReview | MoneywiseMoms

The Outlander’s safety features include Super All-Wheel Drive, which was handy on the slippery roads. I liked the feel of around-town driving and felt safe as the Outlander hugged the roads during bad weather, but I couldn’t figure out the Eco Mode. Apparently, it reduces your air conditioner use in the summer and maintains acceleration to improve fuel efficiency. I felt that it made the city driving clunky, so I ended up turning it off. On the highway, I was trying to accelerate into the carpool lane on the 95, and I just couldn’t get there. With cars whizzing past me, it was very frustrating. With Eco Mode off, the driving was much smoother, and I was still able to achieve the listed mileage of 25/31, according to the mileage tracking on the dashboard.

 

Mitsubishi Outlander Back Seat #CarReview | MoneywiseMoms

The Outlander SE is meant to seat 7, but we had two big problems with that. While the 60/40 split in the second row allows room to enter the third row, there was absolutely no legroom back there. My 11yo was very uncomfortable back there for the 5-hour road trip; I can’t imagine trying to fit teens or adults back there for anything more than a quick ride. As a mom, I was also concerned because there is no airbag coverage in the third row at all. While safety ratings for the Outlander are excellent, including “rear seat” tests, they don’t cover the third row. As a family of five, we need both space and safety to be covered.

Like other CUVs, the tradeoff seems to be trunk space vs. third row seating. With kids in the third row, there was hardly any space for storage. We put our winter coats back there since it was 64-degrees when we drove down to Williamsburg. With no kids in the car, I folded the third row down (the giant head rests come off and can be stored underneath the trunk’s floor) and had tons of cargo room.

 

Mitsubishi Outlander Trunk #CarReview | MoneywiseMoms

Two little things bugged me–the headrests in the back seat are SO TALL and block visibility in the rearview mirror. I’m a pretty short driver (5’4″), so maybe it wouldn’t bother other drivers, but I found it difficult to see behind me while driving on the highway, particularly in the dark. Also, every single time I went to buckle my seat belt, my knuckles hit the center console. It sticks out in such a way that it was a big pet peeve. That wouldn’t be a deal-breaker if I was actually shopping for a car, but the visibility issue would.

Mitsubishi Outlander #CarReview | MoneywiseMomsGorgeous? No question. I loved the styling of this vehicle and especially the Rally Red color. But between that and the very fancy stereo system, I felt like the features didn’t balance out with what my family is looking for–safety, trunk space, seating, and great driving. I only got 1 1/2 of those of the four.

The 2015 Mitsubishi Outlander SE starts at $24,195 (or $26,195 with Super All-Wheel Control). Mitsubishi offers one of the best warranties in the industry–10 years or 100,000 miles.

 

Mitsubishi Outlander #CarReview | MoneywiseMoms

See what other bloggers have thought about the Outlander by following #DriveMitsubishi on Facebook and Twitter.

Reflecting on 2014

Happy New Year! I always have a very slow start to the year, I find it hard to come off the momentum of family time over winter break and get back to work. Plus, we’re having deja vu to last January, where instead of the kids actually going back to school and me getting back to routine, there are snow days and ice days and “it’s too cold to start the buses” days. Ahem.

December is always so busy that I find it hard to slow down and look back before jumping ahead to the excitement of the New Year–all the goal-setting, lists, pretty pens and paper (is that just me?), and renewed energy. I like this first week of January for that, you know, when there aren’t six kids in the house (and a husband “working from home” because the commute is bad).

I love the one-word-for-the-year trend that’s been around for a while, but I’ve never done it before, so I thought I’d give it a try. It fits well with what I had in mind for myself, both personally and professionally, this year. I’ve chosen REFLECT.

Reflect - my one word for 2015 | Reflecting on 2014 at MoneywiseMoms

I’m thinking of reflect in two ways: one, to slow down and ponder, to take time to think and appreciate good things and quiet times. I think we all need more of that in our lives. And two, to reflect by giving back. I want to serve you better and give more back. I want to help you solve problems and ease stress and enjoy family life, all from the frugal point of view. So I’ve had that in mind as I’ve written out my blog goals for the new year.

Before doing so, I spent a little time thinking back over my blog year of 2014. One of my biggest accomplishments was being featured in Redbook Magazine in April for going debt-free. Me–in print! It was very exciting. I was also featured online in a bunch of places:

One of the things I most enjoyed in 2014 was hosting Twitter parties through SoFabChats each month. They’re really fun! I always look forward to sitting down with my lunch and chatting with hundreds of fun people from all over the country. I love how everyone shares great ideas for meals, parties, and more. I’m looking forward to doing it again this year. If you haven’t tried one yet, please join me; just follow me on Twitter for the next RSVP (there are great prizes every time).

I also looked back at which MoneywiseMoms posts were the most popular in 2014. As usual, most were food-themed. Shocker! So of course you’ll see more of those in the coming year as well, but I would love to get your feedback about other topics of interest.

I love hearing from you, readers. What types of posts or topics are you looking for? What home challenges do you have?

Original image by Nikos Koutoulas at Flickr

2014 Financial Goals: End of Year Update

Every year, I share my family’s Financial Goals, then update them each quarter, both to hold us accountable and to inspire you to write out and achieve your own goals. Here’s the end of year update:

2014 Financial Goals: End of Year Update | MoneywiseMoms
Our big success in 2013 was paying off all of our non-mortgage debt, which paved the way for two very obvious goals for 2014: building up a substantive emergency fund and contributing to retirement savings. I’m both disappointed and embarrassed to say that we didn’t achieve those goals! In the interviews I’ve done since the debt-payoff, I’ve mentioned the tail spin we found ourselves in since that climactic moment, I just didn’t think it would last quite this long. It’s not that we didn’t know what to do next, but we were so. darn. tired. of talking and thinking about our money. We just didn’t want to think too hard about it, and it was exactly that lack of commitment that made these goals not happen.

Our reflections on the past year, thankfully, have us VERY committed to our goals for 2015 (which I’ll post for you next week). We didn’t do any damage during this loose year, no new debt or any major emergencies, I think money just slipped by and didn’t get set aside as it should have been. Here’s my End of Year update on these 2014 Financial Goals worked out this way:

1) Create an emergency fund with 6 months’ worth of expenses by March 31st. FAIL

We know darn well you need to “pay yourself first” and yet didn’t do that enough this year. So we’re several thousands off from this goal. You’ll see that our 2015 plan reflects this–to pay this first before doing anything else. Because I’m a visual person, I still want a separate account for this money, so it’s not bunched in with the revolving savings (the part that collects 1/12 of our yearly payment expenses like HOA, Bar Dues, etc.).

2) Max out husband’s retirement contribution at work (ASAP) and open an IRA for me (by December). DONE-TECHNICALLY

I did open an IRA and paid the 2013 max into it before paying our taxes in April of 2014. However, we haven’t made any contributions for 2014 and are in the same boat again. Not acceptable! Our 2015 goals will reflect that we’ll pay ourselves first and have this automatically deducted every month. We did change my husband’s retirement withdrawal at work to the max (yay!) now that the debt is paid off.

3) Work with a lawyer to get our will, trust and guardianship done by April 1st.  DONE!

This was a huge task but so necessary. It really does feel good to know this is taken care of, like a big weight off our shoulders. If you haven’t done yours, learn more about Writing a Will.

4) Stick to our monthly budget to stay debt-free while covering expenses like taxes, a new couch, and trips. ONGOING

Technically, we stuck to our monthly budget, we just didn’t have the savings for goals 1 & 2 planned for on the budget. That will be remedied! We did a great job of going under budget on big expenses like a new couch (paid 1/5 of what we’d thought, by buying used) and two trips (a wedding in California and a family trip to Niagara Falls), but we never did anything with the unspent money, other than spend it elsewhere apparently.

How did you fare on your 2014 Financial Goals?

 

Original image by Carly Jane1 at Flickr

Top Posts of 2014

Whether you’ve been with me from the beginning or are relatively new, thank you for reading here. My blog readers rock! Even after blogging for seven years, I’m still an avid blog reader myself, and I’m glad that some of the blogs I read predate my own blogging. I’m a very loyal fan, so I thoroughly appreciate you taking the time to read and engage here at MoneywiseMoms.

Google can tell me which of MoneywiseMoms’ posts were the most popular with my blog readers, so I looked them up. Then I wrote out a little about how the post came to be (one is pretty embarrassing). Here are the Top Posts of 2014:

Beginner Crockpot Meals |Top Posts of 2014 | MoneywiseMoms

There’s a good reason that 5 Beginner Crockpot Meals is so popular. People want to eat! Good thing these old standbys are so delicious. My goal with this post was to help the many people I hear say, “Oh, I have a crockpot but it’s still in the box.” I really do use these recipes all. the. time. Like every Tuesday, which is “Taco Tuesday” in my house, there’s a hunk of meat in there with a jar of salsa. And I called that a “recipe.” You’re welcome.

 

Minecraft Valentines |Top Posts of 2014 | MoneywiseMoms

A lot of times I come up with blog posts because I realize I’m spending an inordinate amount of time searching online for something. I think, “I bet I’m not the only one…” and that’s usually true. I like feeling like I’m not the only one. KWIM? So last year when we were searching for our geeky DIY Valentines, one of the kids’ requests was Minecraft. Turns out, there’s a whole bunch out there, but they’re in every corner of the internet. All I did was round them up for you into a neat little post called Minecraft Valentines: 9 Easy Printables. Valentines Day is coming up again, so keep it in mind.

 

Easy Tilapia Recipes |Top Posts of 2014 | MoneywiseMoms

I have a noble reason and a silly reason for writing 7 Easy Tilapia Recipes. I am passionate about feeding my family and helping you feed yours, and I really think tilapia is an easy way to get your kids into fish. So I shared the easy recipes that we eat regularly. But…the second reason is because there’s a very UGLY photo of raw fish circulating on Pinterest from an old post I wrote years ago, and I wanted to make this new, shiny, better, “Pinterest-worthy” post to make that one go away. Do you know anything about the internet? It doesn’t go away. Not when it’s embarassing photos of your teen (warn them!) and not when it’s an ugly naked photo of fish.

 

Chicken Tomato Pasta Recipe |Top Posts of 2014 | MoneywiseMoms

This Chicken Tomato Pasta DCB Recipe was so popular that I went ahead and adapted it into a non-Deep Covered Baker recipe, Turkey Parmesan Pasta. Looking for more Deep Covered Baker recipes? I’ve shared a bunch that use the microwave, plus I have a DCB Pinterest board. I just don’t want people to buy this cool piece of time-saving cookware from Pampered Chef and never use it.

 

School Lunch Roundup |Top Posts of 2014 | MoneywiseMoms

I make my kids’ lunches, times three, almost every day of the school year (that’s 500+), so I like mixing things up a bit. I am NOT a cut-food-into-shapes/Bento Box/theme food mom. I still keep it simple, so you won’t find anything tricky here. This School Lunch Roundup has no lunchmeat (and no peanuts because we have allergies), uses all real foods, and is (of course) frugal.

 

Allergy Cupcakes |Top Posts of 2014 | MoneywiseMoms
I am so so glad that this Dairy-Free Egg-Free Cake post was popular and was shared all over Pinterest, reaching more and more families. As a food allergy family, we’ve had so many times where we can’t participate in a school or party function. This recipe isn’t any harder than a typical cake recipe, but it tastes so good that no one will miss anything. I really appreciated the many readers who tried it and took the time to come back and post a comment saying it was a success!

 

Baked Potato Bar |Top Posts of 2014 | MoneywiseMoms
Yes, my Baked Potato Bar was a sponsored post, but I try very hard to incorporate sponsors into things I would do anyway. Recipes are a perfect fit! In this case, I was challenged to come up with a “bar” to feed a crowd. Since we do that often around here, it was no problem. The Baked Potato Bar was a huge hit on Pinterest and is perfect to feed a sports team of kids, a houseful of friends on Game Day, or as a low-key dinner (my kids just love it). Also–fun fact!–I was at a friend’s house and saw this serving tray a few months before this post, so I knew where to borrow the perfect photo-worthy piece when the time came.

Those are this year’s top posts. Thanks for your help in sharing them! If you’re not yet, please follow me on Facebook and Pinterest.

 

Linked up to Weekend Bloggy Reading at Serenity Now.

Favorite Christmas Ornaments

Since my mom was here when we put up our Christmas Tree this year, I spent some time showing off and reflecting on a lot of the ornaments we’ve collected over the years. We’ve been married 20 years now, so there are SO MANY ornaments, many of them collected well before we had kids. We have lots of silly ones–a set of Lego ornaments, superheroes wearing Santa hats, and a set of Playmobil ornaments. But there’s also a bunch that are very sentimental. Here’s a little tour of my favorite Christmas ornaments:

Childhood Christmas Ornaments | MoneywiseMoms

Ornaments from Childhood
Back when my mom retired and downsized her home, my two sisters and I split up the most meaningful ornaments from our childhood to take to our own families. I imagine there was originally a set of twelve of these fake-fruit baskets, but they just say ’70’s to me and were so memorable as some of the ornaments that we brought out year after year, so I had to have one. We also had a set of Wizard of Oz ornaments, which was one of our favorite movies growing up, so we split them between us. These are so fragile, over 30 years old now!

Homemade Christmas Ornaments | MoneywiseMoms

Homemade Ornaments
Some ornaments are from the lean years when we first got married. I made a lot of crafty ornaments and sewed some from fabric scraps. I especially like these angels made from twist paper and a wooden bead. Since then, my kids have contributed a bunch of homemade ornaments during their preschool years.

Teacher Christmas Ornaments | MoneywiseMoms

Teacher Ornaments

Pre-kids, I was an elementary school teacher, and one of the gifts I received often were ornaments. I have only held onto a few as mementos of that part of my life, this adorable teddy bear flying a paper airplane, and a sparkly gingerbread man with my name on it. It still weirds out my kids that I was a school teacher. They don’t even believe me when I show them my scrapbook albums of those years!

Dad Photo Christmas Ornament | MoneywiseMoms

Photo Ornaments
I love the handful of photo ornaments we have on the tree, seeing my kids’ faces as toddlers and as they’ve grown. My absolute favorite is this pewter ornament from Shutterfly that shows the only photo I have of my dad with all three kids. It’s a wonderful way to capture his memory.

Niagara Falls Christmas Ornament | MoneywiseMoms

New Traditions
Not that we need (or have room!) for more ornaments, but this year on a family vacation to Niagara Falls, my kids suggested that a great souvenir of our special trip would be a tree ornament that would bring back those memories. Great idea! I loved spending our souvenir budget this way instead of little knick knacks.

What are some of your favorite Christmas ornaments?

 

Shared at Saturday Sharefest at SITS Girls

Busch Gardens Christmas Town

Disclosure: As a Busch Gardens Ambassador through MomCentral, I was given free admission passes for our family but was not otherwise compensated. All opinions are 100% mine.

Busch Gardens Christmas Town | MoneywiseMoms

It’s not too late to enjoy a visit to Busch Gardens Christmas Town in Williamsburg! The park is open 2-10pm daily through December 31st (closing at 9pm on Christmas Eve and New Year’s Eve, plus closed on Christmas Day). We have been trying to visit but have had so many obstacles thrown our way (first, my mom’s hospitalization and now two of three kids are sick). We want to go this weekend, assuming everyone is healthy, and here’s what we’re excited to see at Christmas Town.

Choose from five fabulous live shows. We’re planning to see Scrooge No More! since my kids now know the Christmas Carol story, and I’m excited about the musical dance show Deck the Halls. I get cold really easily, so heading indoor for a show will be a great way to warm up.

Ice Palace at Busch Gardens Christmas Town

My kids just love penguins, and since the National Zoo doesn’t have any, this is our chance to see them. Find the Ice Palace: A Penguin Paradise in the France section of the park, and spend some time with the two species of penguins visiting for the holiday season: African Penguins from the Columbus Zoo and Magellanic Penguins from SeaWorld San Antonio.

Polar Pathway at Busch Gardens Christmas Town | MoneywiseMoms

Dress everyone warm so you can walk the Polar Pathway and take in the millions of lights around the park. The decorations are just gorgeous, especially the waterfall on Escape from Pompeii. Most of the roller coasters and water rides are closed because of the cold weather, but a lot of the kid rides (like the Carousel and Little Gliders) are open. My kids are excited that thrill rides Verbolten and Nacht Tower are open. See the list of rides for more info. I’m excited to ride the Sky Ride overlooking all the lights and the Train to see all the holiday decorations.

Busch Gardens Christmas Town admission is $32/person for ages 3 and up, which includes unlimited visits. Or, you can buy a one-day pass online for just $27.

Follow along at #ChristmasTown with Busch Gardens on Twitter and Instagram.