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Easy Chicken Parmesan Bake

One of my favorite meals is Chicken Parmesan. Unfortunately I rarely have time to make it from scratch. So I decided to make it into a casserole bake instead. My kids loved it so much. They actually preferred this version to my homemade from scratch real Chicken Parmesan! And this took less than 30 minutes! 


2 cups chicken, cooked and shredded
1 box penne pasta, cooked
1 jar (24-28oz) spaghetti sauce
2 cups shredded mozzarella cheese
1 cup shredded Parmesan cheese
1 cup Italian breadcrumbs

1. Combine pasta, sauce, chicken, and 1 cup of mozzarella cheese in baking dish sprayed with cooking spray.
2. Spread remaining mozzarella cheese over top.
3. Sprinkle breadcrumbs over cheese.
4. Top with Parmesan cheese.
5. Bake at 350 for 20 minutes.

I served this with a side salad and garlic bread and my whole family was happy and full. This is one dinner that’s definitely going on my monthly rotation.


Weekly Book Club {10.11.17}


I finished 2 books in the last week and made good progress on a third. One book I loved. One book made me uncomfortable. And the last one that I’m still reading is by a favorite author. So it’s been an up and down reading week for me. 


A Beautiful Terrible Thing by Jen Waite– What do you do when you discover that the person you’ve built your life around never existed? When “it could never happen to me” does happen to you? These are the questions facing Jen Waite when she begins to realize that her loving husband–the father of her infant daughter, her best friend, the love of her life–fits the textbook definition of psychopath. In a raw, first-person account, Waite recounts each heartbreaking discovery, every life-destroying lie, and reveals what happens once the dust finally settles on her demolished marriage. After a disturbing email sparks Waite’s suspicion that her husband is having an affair, she tries to uncover the truth and rebuild trust in her marriage. Instead, she finds more lies, infidelity, and betrayal than she could have imagined. Waite obsessively analyzes her relationship, trying to find a single moment from the last five years that isn’t part of the long-con of lies and manipulation. With a dual-timeline narrative structure, we see Waite’s romance bud, bloom, and wither simultaneously, making the heartbreak and disbelief even more affecting.

My Rating: 4 Stars

I’m not quite sure how to rate this one. It was a hard read. It’s a non-fiction first hand account of a marriage crumbling. It was intense and emotional and difficult to read. I almost felt like a voyeur peeking in the windows of a neighbor’s house watching their marriage implode. The story alternated between the past and the present giving readers a glimpse of how the relationship started and what went wrong. Definitely a story that made an impression. 


Chasing Secrets by Lynette Eason– Elite Guardians bodyguard Haley Callaghan may be in South Carolina, but when a photo leads investigators in West Ireland to open a twenty-five-year-old cold case, her life is suddenly in danger. Haley knows how to take care of herself; after all, she’s made a career out of taking care of others. But after an uncomfortably close call, Detective Steven Rothwell takes it upon himself to stay with her–and the young client she has taken under her wing. A protector at heart, he’s not about to let Haley fight this battle alone. In a sweeping plot that takes them into long-buried memories–and the depths of the heart–Haley and Steven will have to solve the mystery of Haley’s past while dodging bullets, bombs, and bad guys who just won’t quit.

My Rating: 5 Stars

This is book 4 in one of my favorite series- the Elite Guardians series. It can be read as a standalone with no problems but the characters from the other books are in this one too so it will be a more enjoyable read if you start with book 1. And honestly these books are so great that you should read them all anyway. There’s action, suspense, romance, and bad ass women….it’s everything I love!


Large Family Weekly Meal Plan {Week Four}

Meal Plan1

Week Four Meal Plan:

Saturday- Chicken Tenders & Fries; Corn

Sunday- Crockpot Hearty Vegetable Soup


Monday- Scrambled Eggs & Fried Rice

Tuesday- Crockpot Chicken & Stuffing


Wednesday- Sausage & Rigatoni Pasta

Thursday- Crockpot Chicken Taco Burrito Bowls


Friday- Football Friday (Find your own dinner night)

Grocery Lists:


1 can mixed vegetables- $0.46
1 can diced tomatoes- $0.46
1 can beef broth- $0.48
2 boxes cornbread stuffing- $0.89 each
1 jar spaghetti sauce- $0.99
1 taco seasoning packet- $0.35



1 bag frozen french fries- $1.68
1 lb ground beef- $2.96
1 can corn- $0.40
1 can sliced carrots- $0.50
1 can diced potatoes- $0.50
1 can tomatoes & okra- $0.82
2 cans cream of chicken soup- $0.50
1 bag frozen green beans- $0.98
1 lb sausage link- $2.08
1 box rigatoni pasta- $1.00
1 jar chunky salsa- $1.62
1 can black beans- $0.57



*I buy two 10lb bags of frozen chicken breasts at Sam’s Club. The cost per dinner works out to be $1.67. 

*I buy rice in bulk from Sam’s Club once a month. The cost per dinner works out to be $0.45.

*I don’t include the cost of staples that I keep on hand such as oil, spices, milk, soy sauce, etc.

*There are quite a few items I buy at Sam’s Club that will be used all month long- like sour cream and shredded cheese- so I don’t include them in my cost per meal breakdown but I do include them in my overall budget. 

Cost Breakdown Per Meal:

Chicken Tenders; French Fries; Corn- $9.65

Crockpot Hearty Vegetable Soup- $6.58

Scrambled Eggs & Fried Rice- $1.41

Crockpot Chicken & Stuffing- $5.45

Sausage & Rigatoni Pasta- $4.07

Crockpot Chicken Taco Bowls- $5.64

Total Cost of Week 4 Meals: $32.80 (average of $5.47 per meal)

Total Monthly Grocery Costs For Dinners:

Walmart- $56.83

Aldi- $49.69

Sam’s Club- $58.59


Recap- So my goal was to get my monthly grocery and household budget down under $800. It would be way too time consuming to break down every purchase I made this month at the 3 stores so I concentrated on sharing my meal plans. I kept all my receipts to add up and I came in at $801.46 for the month, only $1.46 over budget! Dang you, Aldi’s impulse purchase of pumpkin pie ice cream haha! I feel pretty good about my first month. I can’t wait to share the next month with you! 


Weekly Book Club {10.4.17}


I’ve got 2 good books to share with you today! Both of them were books that I’ve been anxiously waiting for at the library. 


Cemetery Girl by David Bell– Four years after Tom and Abby’s 12-year-old daughter vanishes, she is found alive but strangely calm. When the teen refuses to testify against the man connected to her disappearance, Tom decides to investigate the traumatizing case on his own. Nothing can prepare him for what he is about to discover.

My Rating: 4 Stars

I read another one of David Bell’s books a couple of months ago and enjoyed it so I added this one to my queue on Overdrive. I was not disappointed. I don’t want to say too much because you really need to go into this one blind. I will say that the first part of the story was how I expected, but then it went a direction I was not anticipating. I can’t say that I agree with the actions of the father. I didn’t understand him for most of the book and I really did not understand him by the end. But that inner conflict made the story better for me. 


Of Mess and Moxie by Jen Hatmaker– Jen Hatmaker believes backbone is the birthright of every woman. Women have been demonstrating resiliency and resolve since forever. They have incredibly strong shoulders to bear loss, hope, grief, and vision. She laughs at the days to come is how the ancient wisdom writings put it. But somehow women have gotten the message that pain and failure mean they must be doing things wrong, that they messed up the rules or tricks for a seamless life. As it turns out, every last woman faces confusion and loss, missteps and catastrophic malfunctions, no matter how much she is doing “right.” Struggle doesn’t mean they’re weak; it means they’re alive. Jen Hatmaker, beloved author, Big Sister Emeritus, and Chief BFF, offers another round of hilarious tales, frank honesty, and hope for the woman who has forgotten her moxie. Whether discussing the grapple with change (“Everyone, be into this thing I’m into! Except when I’m not. Then everyone be cool.”) or the time she drove to the wrong city for a fourth-grade field trip (“Why are we in San Antonio?”), Jen parlays her own triumphs and tragedies into a sigh of relief for all normal, fierce women everywhere who, like her, sometimes hide in the car eating crackers but also want to get back up and get back out, to live undaunted “in the moment” no matter what the moments hold.

My Rating: 5 Stars

I adore this book. I adore it so much. Reading one of her books is like sitting having a glass of wine with a friend. I laughed so hard while reading this one. Full of funny stories about her family in addition to some real talk about some difficult topics, this book hit all my buttons. I especially related to the chapter on grocery shopping. I may or may not have read half of this book out loud to Matt in between laughter. I highly highly recommend this one!

A couple of my favorite quotes:

“Oh sure, MTV hit the scene in 1981, but we couldn’t watch it because of the devil. Apparently we could watch a show starring two outlaw brothers, their half-naked cousin, and a car painted with the Confederate flag but couldn’t watch Madonna sing “Like a Virgin” because we might get secondhand pregnant.” Hahahahahaha!

“If these children don’t like it, they can grow up and move out one day and make their own dinners, and may God bless them with kids who only eat processed cheese slices on white bread.” Thank you and Amen. 

I highlighted about a hundred more but you should just read the book so I don’t get a cease and desist letter from Jen Hatmaker’s lawyer. haha!


2017 Monthly Goals: October


It’s Fall, y’all. Too bad it still feels like summer here in the South. My chunky knit sweaters and tall boots are just sitting there on the shelf…mocking me. October is one of the busiest months in this house and I have lots of things I need to get done. 

September Goals:

1. List all outgrown uniforms for sale. DONE. I sold 99% of them in the first 2 hours that I had them listed. I still have a few things that need to be re-listed but I’ll wait until I have more and do it all at once. 

2. Plan and implement a new monthly meal plan. DONE. I did great on the first month of our new meal plan. We ate only off of the meal plan, did not get take out at all, and did not buy more than we needed. 

3. Cut the grocery budget. DONE. We went from a triple digit grocery bill in July to spending almost half the amount in September. I feel great about it!

4. Organize the pantry for lunch packing. DONE. And life is so much easier now. Lunch packing will never be one of my favorite things but I have it down to spending less than 10 minutes every evening packing all 4 lunches. That’s a win. 

5. Read 10 books. NOPE. But I did read 8 so that’s pretty good, right?!

October Goals:

1. Plan and enjoy Varsity Football Homecoming. It’s coming up quickly on 10/13. Tyler is still not cleared to practice or play and I don’t know if he will be by then. But I’m still the team mom so I have a job to do. We have family coming in town for homecoming and it requires a lot of work on my part. 

2. Choose new recipes to try. I did great on the monthly meal plan last month but I want to switch out some of the recipes. I have a whole board on Pinterest dedicated to recipes that I think I’ll make soon so I need to see which of those can be made on my budget. 

3. Shop around for cheaper TV service. We have had Google Fiber for a year and while I love the high speed internet I just got notice that our TV service is going up by $20 in December. The TV service has issues- the remote rarely works, it freezes, and I don’t know if it’s worth paying $20 more monthly. So I want to shop around a bit and look at some of the streaming services like Sling TV, Hulu Live, etc. My problem is that we are sports lovers and we cannot go without live sports. No. 

4. Organize recipes on app. I downloaded a great app for recipes and I’ve been importing them but I need to organize them into categories. 

5. Plan Thanksgiving menu. I can’t believe I’m thinking about Thanksgiving already but I am. I need to get a rough head count and start making the menu and grocery lists. We typically host 20-30 people so I have to start buying non-perishables in advance to avoid a big $500 grocery trip.