Thursday, December 31, 2009

Bruschetta Chicken

This is a really healthy and yummy chicken dinner. Marinating the chicken really gives it a lot of flavor and makes it really juicy. I can usually throw together this meal with ingredients I always have on hand and it's always done in about 30 minutes. It's tangy from the marinade, juicy from the tomatoes and the mozzarella cheese rounds out all the flavors nicely. I bet some fresh basil would be awesome on top of these, but I didn't have any on hand when I made these. I think next time I put this on our menu, I'll make sure to have some fresh basil for top though.

Whatcha Need...
1 pkg of boneless, skinless, thin cut (cutlet) chicken breasts.
Sun-Dried Tomato Dressing
1 can diced tomatoes, undrained
Shredded Mozzarella Cheese
Italian seasoning (Not pictured)

Whatcha do with it...
Marinate chicken in the sun-dried tomato dressing (the longer the better).

Place chicken on grill to, season with an extra little Italian seasoning, and grill over medium-high heat for about 10 minutes. Flip the chicken and grill for another 10 minutes.
Drop stove temp to medium low.
Add the diced tomatoes (with juice)and mozzarella cheese over chicken and cover with a foil tent until tomatoes are warmed through and mozzarella cheese is melted, about 10 minutes.

Once everything is melted and tomatoes are warm...viola you have dinner!
We served with Italian roasted potatoes and edamame.

Wednesday, December 30, 2009

Slow Cooker White Bean and Ham Soup

Yummy and super inexpensive. I have to admit, it's not one of my favorite soups, but it sure is easy to make. The Cooley boys all love it, so I make it once or twice a winter.

Whatcha Need...
1 lb of white beans (I always get Great Northern)
6-8 cups of water
2 ham steaks (I'll also use a ham hock)
1 onion, roughly chopped
(If I have carrots then I will put some carrots in this soup too)
Salt and pepper
Tabasco sauce
Italian Seasoning
(No pic of ingredients)

Whatcha do with it...
Ok it doesn't get easier than this.

Soak beans overnight and remove any bad beans or dirt.

Dump the beans, two cut up ham steaks, and onion into a crock pot. Cover with 6-8 cups of water. Season liberally with salt, pepper, and Italian seasoning. Throw in a couple of dashes of Tabasco. The Tabasco really adds something to this soup. White beans and ham can be a little boring so seasoning the soup really well will make it something more than boring white beans and ham.

Cook in crock pot on low for 8-10 hours and viola...ya have dinner!
(I was able to freeze 1/2 to have in freezer when baby comes home too!!!)

Monday, December 28, 2009

Menu Plan Monday

I'm officially on maternity leave from work now. I wish I could say that I'm inspired to make great meals at home and try all kinds of new dishes since I have more time, but it's the complete opposite. I'm super disinterested in the kitchen right now. I did manage to put together a menu plan, but I'm relying on our easy favorites. No looking up new recipes, I'm doing the easiest things possible.

I usually plan on making four meals a week. Two nights a week we usually fend for ourselves and I always have a stock of frozen burritos, ramen, canned soup, sandwich fixins, frozen pizza, mac-n-cheese, hot dogs, chicken nuggets, or salad for us to choose from, and then one night a week is usually a left over night or if Josh and I are lucky we get out together.

Bruschetta Chicken / Potatoes / Vegi
Chipped Beef / Biscuit / Vegi
Slow Cooker Pork Chops / Stuffing / Salad
Baked Chicken / Bow-Tie Pasta (I still haven't gotten around to making this, but I have to do it this week before my cream cheese expires.)

Check back in the week for recipes and to see more meal planning check out

Monday, December 21, 2009

Meal Plan Monday

Yawn***...This pregnancy is kicking my caboose. All I want to do is lay around. Even though Josh is wonderful and keeps telling me to relax, with two little boys running around it's just not possible. I know this is just the beginning too, pretty soon I'll be exhausted from the sleepless nights.

I haven't been too excited to meal plan this week. Nothing sounds good to make and Jacob is at full capacity in the belly so anything I eat after about 5-6 bites I feel super full...the heartburn is outta control...I'm peeing like crazy...did I mention I just want to lay around and do nothing?!?!?!

Thankfully, it's Christmas week so I don't have to be exactly super excited to meal plan since we'll be visiting family a lot this week.

So, here is my not very exciting meal plan...
Check back later in the week for recipes...

Slow Cooker White Bean and ham soup
Baked Chicken / Cream Cheese Pasta (added from last week, it didn't happen)
Slow Cooker Roast / Potatoes / Salad

**Do you see a trend here? The 'ole crock pot is going to be getting a lot of use in the next couple of months. I am excited to try some new recipes in it :o) **

Check out other Meal Plans at

Saturday, December 19, 2009

Steakhouse Potato

This is kind of like twice baked potatoes, but it doesn't take hardly any time to do. This is a favorite of Beans and Josh's.

Whathca Need...
3 Large Baking Potatoes
Grill Seasoning
1 Cup Cheese
1/4 cup Milk

Whatcha do with it...
Pre-Heat oven to 425.
Clean and prick potatoes and put in microwave for 9 minutes
(No Picture)

Cut the Potatoes in half and scoop out the inside, put in bowl (Just leave enough room on the side so you have a stable boat)

To the bowl with all the scooped potato filling mix in 1 Cup Cheese, 1/4 cup milk, and about 2 Tbsp of grill seasoning. Mix and mash together. (I know some butter added to this would be great, but I cut out calories where I can, so we omit the butter.)
IMG_0636 (Picture isn't great, sorry)

Fill the potato boats and place on baking sheet

Season with a little more gill seasoning and top with a little extra cheese and bake in oven for 15-20 minutes. Viola ya have a super easy, not your run of the mill baked potato.

We ate these with Beef Fillet and a spinch salad. Josh and I like to make our favorite steakhouse items at home. It's really nice to get out of the house and enjoy the atmosphere of steak houses, but for the most part we just make our house our own restaurant!

Monday, December 14, 2009

Menu Plan Monday

This week marks my last full week at work before I go out on leave for the impending arrival of Jacob. This is what's on the Cooley menu this week.

Beef Fillet / Salad or Vegi / Steakhouse Potato (I didn't get to this last week. I opted for Crock Pot Creamy Potato Soup instead.)
Spaghetti / Garlic Bread / Salad
Baked Chicken / Creamy Bow-Tie Pasta
Slow Cooker Pork Chop w/Stuffing / Vegi

Check back later in the week for recipes
(Check out other menu plans at

Sunday, December 13, 2009

Crock Pot Creamy Potato Soup

I woke up on Saturday to a California winter day. Sky was filled with gray clouds, the rain was pouring, and it was cold. I knew I was going to have a really busy day and not get home until later in the evening. The thought of coming home to a steamy bowl of soup sounded perfect. I didn't have any meat defrosted and I was running low on groceries so I decided to make a super easy potato soup in the crock pot. Oh my goodness this was so good. It wasn't heavy like a chowder, but had a really nice creamy texture to it. The potatoes were hearty and tender. The next time I make this, which I'm sure will be soon, I'm going to add diced ham or bacon to it though, that would have made it a A+, it was a A- without it.

Whatcha Need...
8 medium size baking potatoes, chopped roughly (I left the skins on for added vitamins)
1 Medium Onion, chopped roughly
2 Tbsp Butter
Chicken Stock/Broth. I used what I had on hand, it totaled to about 5 cups
2 Cups of Milk
1/2 cup flour
2 Cup Shredded Cheese (Not pictured, I added it spur of the moment.)
Seasoning...Salt, Pepper, Thyme and Nutmeg
(2nd Part to make soup)

Whatcha do with it...
In a crock pot mix the chopped Potato, Onion, 2 TBSP butter, and Chicken Broth/Stock.
Cook on low for 8 hours

About an hour before you want to eat mix the flour and milk together. (Make sure it's mixed really really good. You don't want any flour lumps. The easiest way I know to do this is to put it in a Tupperware and shake it really good.)

Add the Milk/flour mixture, 2 Cups of cheese, and seasonings (don't be shy with the needs it) to crock pot and turn to high. The soup will thicken up and become creamy. have yourself dinner.

This picture just doesn't do this soup justice, it really is super super good. Because it's mainly made with chicken stock/broth it's not really bad for your either.

Saturday, December 12, 2009

Super Easy Nachos

My favorite kind of food is Mexican. I've noticed we usually have something that is Mexican every other week. It probably has a lot to do with the spiciness, I love spicy food.

Nachos bring me back to when Josh and I were first married, it's probably one of the only things we made that we considered "Cooking" way back when. Now I consider Nachos a quick dinner to throw together when I'm tired or need something done in under 20 minutes. I'm sure 9 years ago it probably took Josh and I over 40 minutes to make nachos with our broken oven that never really got to the temperature that we set it too, overcooking ground beef, and just not being as organized in the kitchen. Those were some fun days...

Whatcha Need...
(Sorry no pic of ingredients)
3/4 lb of 98% lean ground hamburger
1 can of pinto beans, drained
1 really small can of sliced olives, drained
1/2 diced red onion
1 2cp bag of Mexican shredded cheese
Taco Seasoning
Nacho Toppings of Choice...
Jalapeno, Sour Cream, Salsa

Whatcha Do with it...
(Again, sorry no pics, I was in a hurry to get dinner done.)
Pre-Heat oven to 450 degrees
While oven is heating brown hamburger with Taco Seasoning, add 2 tbsp of water to meat to get the seasoning incorrporated.

Spread chips on a baking sheet lined with foil, sprinkle one half bag of cheese over Nacho chips.

Spread cooked ground meat and drained pinto beans over Chips and top with remaining cheese.

Sprinkle diced onion and olives on top of cheese

Pop into oven for about 10 minutes, until cheese is melted and...
Viola top with your favorite toppings and you have a super easy and quick dinner ready in no time.

Tuesday, December 8, 2009

BBQ Chicken Pizza

I have a friend who loves BBQ chicken Pizza and I always wanted to try it, but never had the guts to order it. I have a weird thing, which I totally blame on my mom, but I don't eat chicken I haven't cooked. This fear of chicken cooked outside my home comes from my would take a long time to explain, I probably need therapy over it, and it really deserves a post of it's own. To make a really long story short, I would never order BBQ chicken pizza in a restaurant.

But I did try it once!!!! A friend ordered it and I took a slice and LOVED the taste, but couldn't eat a lot of it because of the fear of chicken cooked outside my home.

Am I rambling? So...this is why I tried this recipe. I already knew I liked the taste and flavor of BBQ chicken pizza, but knew it was never going to make it's way to my dinner table unless I made it myself. I came across this super easy and quick version and it has since become a family favorite. Having two small toddlers, pizza is always a good thing. It's tangy, meaty, has a little heat from the onion and just oozes with goodness. It's super easy, super cheap (of course!), and healthful.

Whatcha Need...
1 small package of chicken breast cutlets (you want them really thin...I think a lot of recipes call for Chicken Tenders, but those are also part of my chicken fear so I don't buy them.)
1 pillsburry Pizza dough
BBQ sauce
2 cup bag of mozzarella cheese
1/2 red onion, diced really small
Couple of slices of crumbled Bacon (I will either use the already cooked bacon you pop into the microwave or bacon bits...tonight it was bacon bits that we had on hand.)
Salt, Pepper and McCormick Steak seasoning

Whatcha do with it...
I make the pizza dough according to "crispy" directions which means you preheat oven to 400 for a nonstick pan, place pizza dough on cookie sheet with NO toppings, and cook for 8 minutes...this is a great time to cook the chicken.

Cook chicken on grill top, season with salt pepper and steak seasoning. Cook about 5 min on each side. Pull off grill top. Slice two or three chicken breasts and save the rest.
(Left over chicken is great for fend for yourself night. I a lot of times will put it in a salad.)

Pizza dough should be done, so pull it out of oven and top with...
BBQ sauce...use as much as you like. I usually use about 1/2 cup.
Sliced Chicken
Mozzarella Cheese, however much you like.
Diced red onion
Bacon Bits, just sprinkled over top.

Put pizza back into oven for 8-10 minutes and pull out...
Viola ya got dinner...we serve with a green salad.IMG_5933

Monday, December 7, 2009

Menu Plan Monday

Ok, I'm on a roll...for the second week in a row I'm posting a menu plan.

Here it goes...

BBQ Chicken Pizza/Green Salad
Beef Fillet / Salad / Steakhouse potatoes

(Only cooking about three times this week since we'll be out of town for a couple of days.)

Check back in the week for recipes!!!!
(Also check out more menu plans at

Friday, December 4, 2009

Italian Smothered Steak

This dinner is a slow cooker favorite around here. It's our Italian Smothered Steak. I grew up on the traditional Swiss steak with Tomato Sauce, Onion, and green pepper over rice so when I saw this recipe I knew I would like it. All the boys devour it. It's really inexpensive to make and of course under 500 cal a serving, so it's healthful. It's sooooo yummy. I love coming home from work knowing this has been in the slow cooker all day :o)

Whatcha Need...
2 pounds round steak (I use London Broil and stock up/freeze when on sale)
1 medium onion, sliced
1 jar (26 ounces) tomato pasta sauce, my favorite sauce in the whole world is the Newman's Own Sockarooni.

1 package (9 ounces) tortellini (I've made this with cheese tortellini and sausage filled tortellini...the sausage wins hands down for our family.)
2 small zucchini, chopped.
Salt, Pepper, and McCormick Steak Seasoning. (Not Pictured)

Whatcha Do with it...

Season London Broil with salt, pepper, and McCormick Seasoning and place in a slow cooker.
Pour jar of pasta sauce over meat and top with sliced onion.
Cover and cook on low for 8 hours.

20 minutes before you want to eat throw tortellini and zucchini in slow cooker and crank it to high for 20 minutes...
Viola...ya got dinner.
(We rounded out this meal with a salad.)

**You may notice in the picture that the zucchini is missing. This is because right when I went to cut up the zucchini I noticed it had gone south. It was still really good without it and nice to know that this is easily a "pantry/freezer" meal if I don't want to use Zucchini. I can have all the ingredients in the pantry and freezer for those days when we need something easy and quick to make, NICE!!! ;o)

Thursday, December 3, 2009

Red Potato Caper Salad

I wasn't sure about Capers the first time I tried them, but they have since grown on me. This is a super easy and healthy Red Potato Hot salad to make.

Whatcha Need...
1 lb of red potatoes halved or quartered depending on size
1/4 tsp of oregano (I just used Italian seasoning I had on hand.)
1/4 tsp of thyme
3-4 Tbsp of Vinaigrette. I always just use whatever I have in the fridge. On this night I had Sun dried tomato and it was really good with it.
2 Tbsp drained Capers (can easily be omitted if you don't like them.)

Whatcha do with it...
Boil Potatoes in big pot of water for about 15-20 minutes...until fork tender, drain potatoes.

In a bottom of a bowl mix the Vinaigrette, Caper, and seasonings.

Toss the hot potatoes with the Vinaigrette and Viola, ya have a yummy, tangy and healthy potato dish.
(Not the best picture of the potatoes, but ya get the idea!)

Wednesday, December 2, 2009

Meatloaf Muffins

I sure do like Meatloaf, but never felt like I had the time to make it on week nights because it takes an hour to cook in a loaf pan. I saw Rachael Ray do Meatloaf in muffin tins to speed up the process one time and quickly jumped on that bandwagon. I am so happy that I now have the time to make meatloaf on week nights. I have to admit that Justin isn't a huge fan of meatloaf, but he will at least eat a couple of pieces. This is a super easy way to make meatloaf and it'll be crunchy on the outside and moist in the middle.

Whatcha Need...
1 lb of ground beef (I only buy the 93% or 98% lean ground beef so it's not too bad for you.)
1 egg
1/2 small onion, diced really small or grated.
1/2 cup of Break Crumbs or 1/2 cup of crushed crackers
About 2 to 3 Tablespoons Ketchup
couple dashes of Garlic Powder
2 to 3 Tablespoons of Worcestershire sauce

Whatcha do with it...
Pre-Heat Oven to 350
It was so easy I didn't take any pictures...mix the above ingredients into a big bowl and then fill 6 to 8 muffin tins with mixture...throw into the oven and cook Meatloaf muffins for 30-35 minutes...and Viola...ya got dinner! (I top with a dollop of BBQ sauce or Ketchup)
(We served with Red potato Caper salad and corn.)

Tuesday, December 1, 2009

Buffalo Chicken Wrap

This is a version of the Caesar Chicken Wrap that we do, but this one is a Buffalo Chicken version. It's pretty spicy, but oh so good. It's healthful because you are just cooking chicken breast, no breading like a lot of Buffalo chicken wrap recipes call for.

Whatcha Need...
1 lb of Chicken cut into bite size pieces
3 tablespoons hot sauce, I used Texas Pete's
2 tablespoons white vinegar
1 teaspoon cayenne pepper
1/4 teaspoon of celery seed
Blue Cheese Dressing
4 8-inch tortillas
1 cup shredded romaine lettuce
1 large tomato, chopped
Seasoning...Salt, Pepper, McCormick Steak Seasoning.

Whatcha do with it...

Cook chicken about 10 minutes, seasoned with salt, pepper and McCormick Steak seasoning.

Stir hot pepper sauce, vinegar, cayenne pepper, and celery seed in a medium size bowl. (This is a good time to warm up Tortilla's)

Toss chicken into hot sauce mixture

Now all you do is assemble the wrap...
Spread Tortilla with about one Tablespoon Blue Cheese Dressing
Top with Chicken, Lettuce, and Tomato.
Drizzle some more hot sauce on top and...
Viola...ya got dinner!
(We served with Coleslaw)

PS....For the boys I set some chicken aside before tossing it into the hot sauce mixture and used ranch dressing instead of blue cheese

Monday, November 30, 2009

Meal Plan Monday

My first Meal Plan Post.

This is my first time actually posting a Meal Plan. I follow a lot of bloggers who do something called Meal Plan Monday. I’m not new to meal planning; I do it every week before I go grocery shopping, but I thought it may be fun to post my meal plan.

I usually plan on making four meals a week. Two nights a week we usually fend for ourselves and I always have a stock of frozen burritos, ramen, canned soup, sandwich fixins, frozen pizza, mac-n-cheese, hot dogs, chicken nuggets, or salad for us to choose from, and then one night a week is usually a left over night or if Josh and I are lucky we get out together.

I'm not sure how great I'll be at posting meal plans every Monday, but I thought I would give it a shot. Here it goes. Check back later on in the week and I'll post some of the recipes.

Buffalo Chicken Wraps / Coleslaw

Meatloaf / Baked Potatoes / Broccoli

Italian Smothered Steak (Crock Pot Meal)

Chicken Caesar Salad / Garlic Bread

(Substitute for if I'm just not feeling a planned meal one night)
Tuna Caper Pasta

(Check out other Menu Plans at

Sunday, November 29, 2009

Funny Story...

Funny Story…

My mom thought I would never learn to cook. She was actually concerned when I was pregnant with Justin because she wasn’t sure how he would be fed. I would often have a big hunk of cheese for dinner and Josh survived on Frozen dinner meals and Top Ramen in our early married years. I remember my mom telling me, “You know that baby is going to need more than a hunk of cheese for dinner.” I think that got my attention, what was I going to feed this baby? I didn’t want him growing up on fast food, processed meals or never knowing what a home cooked meal tasted like.

While pregnant with Justin something funny happened, I began to cook. I started making really simple easy recipes that I got from my mom. As time went on something even funnier happened, I began to really enjoy cooking for my family. As little Justin was learning how to eat table foods his mom was also learning and getting better in the kitchen (and his dad was learning and getting better outside on the BBQ).

Fast forward four years and I not only enjoy cooking, but I’m one of those weird people who enjoy meal planning and grocery shopping. Who would have ever thought that? Definitely not me…or my mom!

**Mom and I in the kithchen**

Monday, November 23, 2009

Spicy Chicken Wings

I am lucky I married someone who likes spicy food as much as I do. These are our very spicy Chicken Wings. We often eat these on Monday night to go hand in hand with Monday Night Football. We also bake them instead of frying so they are pretty healthful too. Have a drink close to you though, they are spicy and will clear any stuffy nose right up!!!

Whatcha Need...
1 pkg of chicken wings (I like the party pack)
Flour for dreading

Original Chicken Seasoning
Mrs. Dash Extra spicy Seasoning
Black Pepper
Tabasco or any hot sauce you have in the fridge.

Whatcha do with it...
(The night I made these, I was in a hurry to get them in the oven so I missed some pictures.)
Pre-Heat oven to 425

Place about one cup of flour in a big zip lock back and put all the wings in the bag and shake until all pieces are coated. Lay the chicken on an lined baking sheet (Make sure to either put a little oil or spray baking sheet with Pam or the wings will stick)

Next season the wings. No measurements here just sprinkle the Salt, Pepper, Mrs. Dash spicy seasoning, Chicken Seasoning, and Tabasco. (I leave about 6 wings unseasoned with spicy stuff for the boys.)

Put wings in oven and bake for 20 minutes. Pull pan out and flip wings. Repeat seasoning on other side of wings.

Put back into oven for 20 minutes to finish baking.
Viola, there is dinner. I served with roasted garlic potatoes and a salad.

Friday, November 20, 2009

White Chicken Chili

In keeping with the comfort food of the fall and winter here is our White Chicken Chili recipe. This is a pretty spicy chili and sooooo good. It will warm you from the inside out. This is another one of Josh's favorites and is on his top 5 list of favorite foods. Economical??? Why yes it is!!! Healthful??? Why yes it is!!!

Whatcha Need...
1 lb of chicken cut up into 1/2 inch pieces. (I've made this with with both Chicken Breast and Chicken Thighs, both are good. If you're looking to make it super economical use the thighs in this recipe.)
1 can of Chicken Broth
2 cans of Great Northern (white) beans, undrained.
1/2 can of green chili's (I had some in my freezer I used up.)
Poultry seasoning
McCormick White Chicken Chili packet (I've tried to make this chili without this packet and it just doesn't taste the same, I highly recommend getting the packet)
and my usual...Salt, Pepper and McCormick Hamburger Seasoning.

Whatcha do with it...
I didn't really take a lot of pictures because it's so easy to do and I was in a rush to get dinner done.

Cook cut up chicken for about 10 minutes. Seasoned with Poultry Seasoning, Salt, Pepper and McCormick Hamburger Seasoning.

After the chicken has cooked for 10 minutes you just add the White Chicken Chili seasoning packet, Green Chili's, Can of Chicken Stock, and two cans of beans undrained. Bring to a boil and then drop down to simmer for 10 minutes.

Viola, there you have it. Easy dinner usually done in under 30 minutes.
(We served with croissants)

Wednesday, November 18, 2009

Butternut Squash

Sadly, this will probably be the only time you see Butternut Squash on here for awhile. Although it's in season, so you can get it for rock bottom prices, it seems as though I have a house full of men who aren't crazy about butternut squash. Me, I love it and could probably eat an entire squash myself. I'll keep trying it with the boys and hope they grow to like it. They both loved squash as babies so I'm keeping my fingers crossed their dislike is just a phase. Josh on the other hand didn't like it at all and the poor guy had to force down the three bites he tried. I was able to freeze a really good portion of the squash so I think I'll make a soup with the leftovers that weren't eaten.

Whatcha Need...
Butternut Squash
Salt, Pepper and Butter

Whatcha do with it...
Cut ends off of squash and then cut it in half. Cut those half in half and take out the seeds. Then cut those halves in half. Are you confused yet? Here are some pics.

Season with Salt, Pepper and then a little dollop of Butter.

Fill the pan with water. About 1/4 inch of water in the pan. (Don't put too much water in the pan though, the squash will release a lot of water and you don't want to loose all the nutrients or have the pan overflow.) Cover with foil and roast in an oven at 350 degrees for about 45-55 minutes.

Whatcha Get...
a yummy, sweet and buttery squash.