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Fiesta Casserole - Dreams and Caffeine

Fiesta Casserole… The Perfect Pantry Meal!

Fiesta Casserole – doesn’t it just sound cheesy and delicious before you even hear the ingredients?!  I am going to share one of my all-time favorite comfort food recipes.  Now, as many of you already know, I am not much of a cook, so if you’re looking for gourmet… you have come to the wrong place!

The Fiesta Casserole is a pantry favorite, and the simplicity is bliss especially after a long and busy day.  This recipe is very flexible and easy to customize, especially if you don’t have something on the ingredients list.  A few other wonderful things about this recipe is that it is cheap to make, the kiddos love it, and it is easy to clean up.  All wins in my world!

Ingredient List

Fiesta Casserol-2-Dreams and Caffeine

  • 1 Bag of Tortilla Chips (I would avoid low fat ones… they will get soggy)
  • 3 Cans of Chili (you can replace this with seasoned and fully cooked ground beef or homemade chili)
  • 1 Bag of Shredded Cheese (shred your own or buy a bag of the Mexican Shredded Cheese)
  • 1 Tomato
  • ½ Cup of Jalapeños (you can use fresh or from a jar)
  • Cilantro
  • Sour Cream
  • Salsa
  • 13X9 Casserole Dish
  • Foil


  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees
  2. Layer the bottom of the casserole dish with tortilla chips
  3. Spread 1 1/2 cans of chili over the chips
  4. Cover the layer of chili with shredded cheese… don’t be stingy!
  5. Repeat steps 2 – 4
  6. Cover with foil and bake for 25 minutes
  7. Take casserole dish out of the oven and remove foil. Check to be sure cheese is almost completely melted.  Stick back into the oven uncovered for an additional 5 minutes
  8. Remove casserole dish from oven and let stand for 5 minutes before serving
  9. Cut into appropriate (or ginormous… depending on your mood) squares and plate
  10. Garnish with sour cream, salsa, jalapeños, cilantro, and tomatoes
  11. ENJOY!

Fiesta Casserole-1-Dreams and Caffeine

Literally, a nap must follow from the deliciousness of this casserole.  Thanks for stopping by and I hope you find this recipe as yummy as I do!


Chore Chart in Pixels - Dreams and Caffeine

A Chore Chart in Pixels

Let’s start with the obvious question of, what in the world is a Chore Chart in Pixels?  And, why do you need one?

How it all began…

I will be the first to admit that it took a little adjustment period for me going from a full time working mom to a stay at home mom to two under two.  Especially because becoming a stay at home mom wasn’t planned and to top it off, our lives were in the middle of some pretty large transitions.  Long story short, the child development center that I ran decided to shut its doors permanently, our daughter was about a year and half old and I was eight months pregnant.  Talk about a time of chaos!

After my husband and I decided this was the perfect opportunity for me to stay at home and raise our kiddos, I realized I had no idea how to be a stay at home wife and mother.  I can just hear the gasps from all the Martha Stewarts and June Cleavers out there (my mother included).  However, neither housekeeping nor cooking have ever been something I wanted to do, something I was good at, or something I strived to do.  On top of that, having two young kiddos to care for was quite overwhelming.

The Chore Chart in Pixels is born…

I have always had a love affair with planners, pretty paper, pens, markers, and stickers!  So, after many failed attempts of becoming a consistent Martha Stewart – June Clever hybrid (hahaha… just kidding), I finally found a system that worked and allowed me to be successful.  Basically, I made a reasonable list of everything I wanted to accomplish each day and then I put it into a grid chart.  Each day I picked a pen color and as I completed a task, I colored in the box.  It allowed me to know what I needed to accomplish, plus it gave me an overview of each month.  I could see where I was struggling to complete certain tasks, which allowed me to adjust and make another plan of action to allow me to be successful.

A Chore Chart in Pixels has worked so well for me, that I have started using it in other ways as well.  I have one for cleaning the house, one for keeping the kiddos on schedule, and a personal one that I use to track bill paying, date nights, exercise, and personal growth.  What I love about this concept is that it is so easy to adjust to what you need to track.  I have also included a few pictures below so you can see how I utilize this nifty tool.  I used a black sharpie to fill in the boxes for tasks I didn’t complete, making it easy to see areas I need to work on.


Chore Chart in Pixels Sample (1 of 3) Chore Chart in Pixels Sample (2 of 3) Chore Chart in Pixels Sample (3 of 3)


Below is a free Chore Chart in Pixels, so you can simply print it and start tracking today.  I hope you find this as fun and useful as I have!  Feel free to let me know how it is working for you by commenting below or if you have any questions, feel free to email.

Chore Chart in Pixels – Dreams and Caffeine

Cheers to becoming a Martha Stewart – June Cleaver Hybrid,

Mickey & Minnie Mouse Holiday Bark - Dreams and Caffeine

Mickey and Minnie Holiday Bark

I picked the wrong name for this recipe… it really should be called Mickey and Minnie Holiday SCREAM, because that is what my daughter did when I told her what we were making.  To say the least, the holiday bark was a very successful treat in our household.  Even Superhero dad loved it, which is saying a lot, because he doesn’t care for sweets.

Luckily this recipe is easy-peasy… even with little hands helping!

What you will need to make the Mickey & Minnie Holiday Bark:

1 Package regular Oreos
1 Package mini Oreos
1 Package of “Minnie Mouse” Candy Bows
1 Container of Holiday-Themed Sprinkles
Melting Chocolate – Vanilla
1 Cookie Sheet
Parchment Paper

Directions for the Mickey & Minnie Bark:

Step 1:  Place the cookie sheet on a flat surface and lay the parchment paper on the cookie sheet.  The parchment paper will make cleaning up quick!

Step 2:  Prepare the Oreos by pulling them apart. I just put the side that has cream on it face down into the chocolate.

Step 3:  Open and prepare the bows to be dropped into place.

Step 4:  Open the sprinkles and have them ready as well.

Step 5:  Prepare the melting chocolates per instructions on the container.

Step 6:  Pour the melted chocolate in the cookie sheet in a thin layer.  Try to keep the layer of chocolate about a quarter inch thick.  Use a spatula to smooth things out.

Step 7:  Decorate with the Oreos, sprinkles and bows.

Step 8:  Place the cookie sheet in the fridge for about 15 minutes.

Step 9:  I used a knife to guide my cuts then broke the rest of the bark by hand.  Just be careful next to the bows and Mickey & Minnie… they will break as I found out when I was making mine.

Step 10:  Grab a glass of milk and enjoy with your littles!  Keep the extras in a sealed container in the fridge.

mickey minnie mouse holiday bark plate dreams and caffeine

I hope you give this fun recipe a try… we had a great time making it together, plus its delicious!


12 tips on toy organization - dreams and caffeine blog

12 Tips on Toy Organization

Toys!  Your kids love them, they can be great learning tools, but how in the world can you organize them?  Toy organization can be a huge challenge.  Between Christmas, birthdays, and just random gifts, they can pile up quickly.  As a parent, I feel so thankful that everyone has given these wonderful gifts to my children which of course makes me want to keep everything, but I know that isn’t reasonable.  I’d like to share some things that have worked for my family over the past couple of years to reduce some of the clutter and organize the chaos.

Timing is Everything – When to Purge

I’ve found that it works best to cut back on the number of toys before major events such as birthdays and holidays where gifts might be given.  It isn’t a bad idea to reassess after the event either.

But what do I give up?

Toys that you could consider donating fall into different categories.

  1. Has your child obviously outgrown some of his or her toys? I’m thinking of things like jumpers, bouncers, play mats, etc.  Once you’re reasonably sure that you won’t be welcoming any more little ones into the family, maybe it is time to pass these on to someone with a need.
  2. Maybe you have toys that are constantly problematic. They might have broken parts, frustrate your child, or in some other way cause issues in your household.  You probably won’t mind saying goodbye to these toys.
  3. Duplicate toys. If certain toys perform the exact same functions or are identical, give one of them away.

Should I still hang on to some of those memories though?

Of course.  There are many reasons to hold on to your children’s toys, long after they are done using them.

  1. This one is obvious, but of course the kids’ favorite toys should stay, even if they are outgrowing them in most cases. I’m sure your toddler has something that she just won’t let go, and that’s great.
  2. Toys that were handed down to your kids should be treasured. They were worth saving for the next generation at least once, and if they still stand the test of time, hang on to them.  Your kids might enjoy giving them to their kids someday.
  3. Educational and imaginative toys! This one is big in our household and if the toys promote education, using your imagination, or anything along those lines that helps your child grow and develop, I say be sure to keep these.
  4. Sentimental toys.  Don’t get rid of these toys.  You’ll regret doing so and sometimes toys can serve as a reminder of a wonderful memory.

Now that I’ve thrown out some ideas on what to keep, how do I actually organize what I have?

Now this is the fun part of toy organization.  At least for us (slightly?) OCD people 🙂

  1. Bins, bins, bins. We like to use see-through plastic bins with lids such as these: Sterilite 6-Quart See-Through Latch Box with White Lid to control loose toys.  Our kids all get the sets of toys will a million loose pieces – having a dedicated bin for each toy set is invaluable.  As the kids get older and you’re trying to teach them to pick up after themselves, put a picture of the contents on the bin so your child knows which bin to place the toys inside.  On that topic, some toys come in bins or are somehow self-contained.  When given the choice, these can be huge helpers in keeping an organized play area.
  2. Bins with lids are nice, but something like this: Tot Tutors Kids’ Toy Storage Organizer with 12 Plastic Bins can work well too.  In lieu of a built-in solution, a storage system can meet a lot of the demands for storing your kids’ toys.
  3. Put toys that aren’t played with quite as often in a storage area and then getting them out can be a special event.  If you have lots of stuffed animals, get a net like this: Jumbo Toy Hammock – 2 PACK  It allows you to display them but get them off of the floor until your child is ready to play.
  4. If your child is old enough, have them participate in the cleanup process – maybe they will start to clean up on their own as they get older (wishful thinking?).

Random thoughts…

  1. If you have a core group of friends, you could consider “sharing” toys with them – pass down toys that your kids might have outgrown, then when they are done and you have another kid, they can pass them back. When a group of friends does this, it can really help out.

I hope you’ve enjoyed the article, that this helps you with your toy organization, and as always, I’d love to hear your great ideas!  Feel free to comment below and if you’d like to get future updates from my site, please subscribe.


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