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.

Tuesday, November 17, 2009

Easy Baked Chicken

One of my favorite things to make is baked chicken. It's so easy and I don't have to worry about watching it once it's in the oven. This is one of our favorites. It's kinda tangy with the mustard and just a little crunchy with the breaded outside.

Whatcha Need...
1 pkg chicken breast fillets. (I usually get the fillets for baking so they stay moist inside.)
2 eggs for dipping
and I don't have exact measurements for the rest. I'll try to do an estimate
2 cups Breadcrumbs for dreading
2 Tbsp Mustard (whatever you have in the fridge)
2 Tbsp Worcestershire Sauce

Whatcha do with it...
Pre-heat oven to 375

Season Chicken Breast with Salt and Pepper

In a bowl beat the 2 eggs and mix in 2 Tbsp Mustard and 2 Tbsp Worcestershire

My hands were to goopy to take pics of the next part, but just dip chicken into egg mixture shake off excess and then dip into a plate of bread crumbs and place on an oven sheet. Sprinkle with a little more Salt and Pepper.

This is what I do. I cook the chicken at 375 for 15 minutes then I drop down the temperature to 350 and cook an additional 30 min.

Whatcha Get...
A slightly crispy chicken breast that has a little kick from the mustard and Worcestershire sauce.
We ate this with ButterNut Squash and mac n cheese.

Monday, November 16, 2009

Hashbrown Potato Casserole

This is my version of Tator-Tot Casserole. I used to make the traditional Tator-Tot casserole until I saw this version and tried it. Now I'm a convert, I like this version a lot more and won't ever go back to the tator-tots. It's a family favorite and the kids love it.

Whatcha Need
1 lb of ground beef
1/2 onion, chopped
1 can of Cream of Mushroom soup
1/3 cup of milk
2 cups of cheese (whatever you have on hand)
1/2 of a 32oz bag of country style hash browns
Seasonings...Salt, Pepper, Garlic Powder (Not Pictured)


Whatcha do with it...
Pre-Heat Over to 400 degrees.

Brown ground beef and onion. Season with Salt, Pepper and Garlic Powder. About 8-10 minutes.

Meanwhile, line a baking dish with the frozen hash browns.

To the ground beef mixture add one can of cream of mushroom soup and 1/3 cup of milk and mix it all together. Let cook together for about 5 minutes. Just until everything is warmed through.

Poor Beef mixture over the frozen hash browns

Top with a layer of cheese

Bake at 400 for 20 minutes

Whatcha get...
A yummy stick to your ribs dinner. (Not a very photogenic dinner, but trust me it sure is yummy.)
(On this night we paired with corn.)

Thursday, November 12, 2009

Salmon Fillets

This meal makes me laugh. Bean LOVES this meal, it's one of his favorites...well actually Bean and Jax LOVE salmon. Josh and I laugh because only Bean would love Salmon and frown at Chicken Nuggets. We usually have Salmon once a month. I buy the big bag of Atlantic fillets at Sam's Club and it usually lasts us two months. I decided to attempt making salmon because whenever Josh and I would go out to eat at a steak house I would always get the Salmon, I love it. Our days of eating at steak houses once or twice a month have been saved for special occasions once all the kiddos came along and dining at expensive restaurants became something that was "pre-kids".

Thankfully, Josh and I have learned how to make a lot of those meals we use to eat at steak houses right in the comfort of our home. We make Salmon a lot of different ways, but this is my easy go-to salmon meal.

Whatcha Need
3-4 Salmon Fillets (rinsed and dried)
Dill Weed
Lemon Juice
Salt and Pepper
Extra Virgin Olive Oil (Not pictured)

Whatcha do with it
Pre-Heat oven to 350
Mix about 2 Tbsp of lemon juice and 2 Tbsp of Garlic into bowl. (LOL, don't laugh at my bottled lemon juice, it works for me!!!)

Place Salmon Fillets on foil lined (Oiled) baking sheet.
Rub salmon with a little Extra Virgin Olive Oil
Season with Salt, Pepper, and Dill Weed (I use dried Dill so I kinda have to put a lot on to get the flavor)
Spoon Lemon and garlic mixture over salmon.

You can cook salmon in the oven two ways. I either bake them at 350 for 30 minutes or you can broil about 4 inches from heat for around 10 minutes. This night I cooked them for 30 minutes because I needed time to do a salad and rice....
Viola, here is dinner!!
(Lol, and isn't the salad pretty??)

Tuesday, November 10, 2009

Hamburger Gravy

This is by far the most requested recipe in the Cooley household right now. I always oblige when it's requested because it's about the simplest dinner to throw together, not to mention one of the cheapest.

Hamburger Gravy

Whatcha Need
1 pound ground beef
1/2 onion, chopped
1 can cream of mushroom soup
1 small jar of mushrooms (if ya have them on hand. I chop them up really fine so the picky eaters don't know they are there.)
1 can milk (from cream of mushroom soup) (Didn't make it into the picture)
Brown gravy mix

Sour Cream
2 cups cooked rice

That's it!!!


Whatcha do with it...
1.) Cook Hamburger, chopped onion, and mushrooms (season meat with the usual...salt, pepper and my favorite spice of all McCormick Hamburger Seasoning, I use this in everything.) About 8-10min

2.) Throw in Can of Mushroom Soup, can of milk, and about 1/4 cup of sour cream. Stir it all together and let it simmer for about five minutes

3.) Add some gravy seasoning and let simmer another five minutes.

4.) Throw Ham gravy over some rice (biscuit, mashed potatoes, toast, or noodles)

We usually go with a green vegi with this dinner and Viola ya got a quick and super easy dinner.


Monday, November 9, 2009

Tuna Noodle

This dish is comfort food at it's best. I found this Tuna Noodle recipe a couple years ago and really liked it so it's became my staple recipe. In the fall and winter I am usually making this once a month. In the spring/summer it seems to go off our meal rotation.

I gotta tell you though once the house is filled with the smell of Tuna Noodle I swear it takes me back to when I was a kid. My mom made this all the time growing up. This recipe is a little different than hers, but I've kept some of her signature staples on this recipe.

Whatcha Need...
1 can Cream of Mushroom Soup
1 can Cream of Celery Soup (If you like a dryer Tuna Noodle then omit one can of either soup)
1/2 cup Milk (Not pictured)
2 1/2 cups of Uncooked Elbow Noodles
1 12 oz can of Tuna
1 small bag of Mozzarella Cheese
Sour Cream and Onion potato chips (Not Pictured)

Whatcha do with it...
Preheat oven to 400 degrees
Cook 2 1/2 cups of Noodles and drain
While Noodles are cooking mix soup(s), milk, 1/2 bag of Mozzarella cheese, and tuna in baking dish. Season with Salt, Pepper and Italian Seasoning.

Stir in Drained Cooked Noodles and mix with remaining Cheese...

Bake in 400 degree oven for 20 with crushed up Sour Cream in Onion potato chips and return to oven until browned

Viola...ya got dinner. We serve with a side of peas instead of traditional recipes that call for you to add the peas to the casserole. The only reason I don't add peas to the casserole is because there are a couple of Cooleys that frown at peas.

This is the super duper easy version of Tuna Noodle. I also make another Tuna Noodle that's a little more dressed up. It is super good. I'll post that recipe too, but this is definetly the casserole that comes up on the meal rotation a lot. :o)

Friday, November 6, 2009

Pesto Burgers

This is a super simple easy meal that tastes ohhhh so yummy. If you like pesto, you'll like this burger.

Whatcha Need
1 lb ground beef
1 pesto seasoning packet
Mozzarella Cheese


Whatcha Do with it...
This is super easy. It's so easy I didn't even take a picture of what to do. You simply throw ground beef and seasoning packet into bowl, mix it up, and shape into hamburger patties.
Cook 7-9 minutes on each side and top with some mozzarella cheese. I then drizzle a little sun dried tomato vinaigrette on it.
Viola, easy yummy dinner. I know it looks like a regular burger, but let me tell ya the pesto packet takes this burger to a whole new level.
(We served with Italian Seasoned Roasted Potatoes and Edamame.)

Thursday, November 5, 2009

Slow Cooker Pork Chops

My favorite pork chops to buy is the big 'ole thick cut pork chops from Sams Club. I am able to get at least three meals from one package.

This is a really simple slow cooker pork chop meal. I found this recipe one day when I was looking for a slow cooker pork chop recipe that didn't utilize creamed soup. I'm as big a fan as the next person when it comes to that good 'ole creamed soup, but there comes a point when it's the last thing I want to grab in my pantry.

I threw this all together one day before work so I wasn't able to take pictures, but to be pictures are needed, it's so simple.

Whatcha Need...
1/4 cup olive oil
1 cup chicken broth
2 Tbsp minced garlic
1 tablespoon paprika
1 tablespoon garlic powder
1 tablespoon poultry seasoning
2 teaspoon italian seasoning
3-4 thick cut boneless pork chops
salt and pepper

Whatcha do with it all...
In a large bowl, whisk together the olive oil, chicken broth, garlic, paprika, garlic powder, poultry seasoning and italian seasoning. Pour into the slow cooker. Place Pork chops in slow cooker and season chops lightly with salt and pepper. Cook on low for 7-8 hours.

Whatcha Get...
All I had to do when I got home from work was make some mashed potatoes and green beans seasoned with salt, pepper, and lemon juice. Poor some brown gravy over it (made from a gravy mix, not the crock pot was a little too oily to use as a gravy) and Viola!! The meat on the chop will be SO tender it will cut easily with a fork.

Wednesday, November 4, 2009

Cheese Bread

I got this recipe from Josh's family. It is Oh so yummy. It goes with a lot of stuff. We eat it in the Summer/Spring with BBQ and salads. The Fall/Winter with Stews and roasts. (Cowboy Stew and this go great together).

Whatcha Need
Round Loaf of Sourdough Bread. (If you're making for a big group buy a big round, this is just a little round for our family.)
Butter / Margarine
Poppy Seeds
Monterrey Jack Cheese

Whatcha do with it
Cut Sourdough loaf horizontally and vertically, but don't cut all the way through, so the loaf is intact on the bottom.

Melt 2 Tbsp butter, 2 Tbsp mustard, and 2 Tbsp Poppy seed in microwave until melted.

Cut the Monterrey Jack block of cheese into strips

Place strips of Monterrey Jack into Sourdough Loaf

Spoon Mustard, Poppy Seed and Butter mixture over the Loaf and Cheese strips..microwave until everything is melted. Enjoy :o)