Tuesday, March 8, 2016

Cooper Family Favorite Dinners

In my recent Ways We Save Money post, I mentioned that I cook dinner at home [almost] every single night. A friend suggested I share a few of our favorite recipes, and I'm happy to do so! My usual requirements for a dinner recipe are: quick, easy, kid-friendly, and healthy. If I can check off at least 3 of the 4, I'm happy ;)

Pulled Pork Anything
Every few weeks, I like to make a big batch of crockpot pulled pork. I'll use some of it that night for dinner, and freeze the rest in family meal sized portions. I used to use a Dr. Pepper recipe similar to this one from Spend with Pennies, but now I'm lazier and I just use one of these Campbell's slow cooker sauces. We serve pulled pork in a lot of ways: on slider buns, in tacos, on zucchini boats (using this recipe from Cooking Classy but with BBQ pulled pork - the enchilada zucchini boats are even better though), mixed with eggs for breakfast, and on top of loaded baked potatoes. Speaking of loaded baked potatoes, we prefer to use sweet potatoes. And did you know, you can slice the potatoes in half and then you only have to bake for 30 mins instead of an hour!? Pure genius from She Wears Many Hats.

Skillet Chicken
We are hooked on the H-E-B line of skillet cooking sauces. I hope that link works for you guys. Campbell's also has a line of skillet sauces. Our favorite is the Panang Curry sauce. I usually serve the chicken with white rice and steamed broccoli. 

One Pan Lemon Chicken & Pasta
This recipe from No.2 Pencil is one of our all-time favorites. This dish tastes so creamy even though it doesn't have any butter in it. Magic! Plus, one dish = minimal cleanup. 

Homemade Pizza
And by homemade, I mean adding my own toppings to a pre-made crust. Sometimes we go traditional (pizza sauce, mozzarella cheese, pepperoni, etc.) and other times we do buffalo or BBQ chicken with cheese, onions, and pineapple. I love pineapple on a pizza. To make a buffalo or BBQ chicken pizza, I:

  1. Make shredded chicken in the crockpot using this recipe from Gimme Some Oven (but usually not 6lb worth, more like 3lb). When it's ready, I use some of it for the pizza (maybe 1lb? Idk, I just guess!) and freeze the rest for another time.
  2. Mix the shredded chicken with buffalo or BBQ sauce, and spoon it onto the pizza. 
  3. Top with mozzarella cheese, sauteed onion slices, and pineapple. Or whatever suits your fancy!
Mini Meatloaves
Not everyone likes meatloaf, that's fair. I agree that it sounds gross, but I'm not very picky. I'll eat just about anything! I happen to like meatloaf and so does my husband :) I like these Italian meatloaves from Ready Set Eat and usually serve them with steamed veggies and mashed potatoes.

One Dish Chicken, Potato, and Green Beans Bake
This one from Reasons I Smile is new to the line-up for us. It takes an hour to bake, which is sometimes difficult. Hanging around the house for an hour while delicious dinner smells waft out of the oven is not Maddie's (or my) idea of fun. Nonetheless, this recipe definitely fits the "easy" bill and it's tasty too. 

Salmon ain't cheap, so we don't have this often. But when we do, I like to use one of these two recipes from Well Plated or Love Living Whole. I usually serve it with white rice and asparagus.

And finally, here a few more of our go-to dinners that don't even require a recipe at all (with links to my favorite brands/products):

- Pasta with ground beef/turkey and steamed veggies (using store-bought pasta sauce)
- Hot dogs and french fries (occasionally I make fresh sweet potato fries but I usually buy these)
- Pesto pasta with fully cooked chicken and steamed veggies
- Tacos with boxed Mexican rice and canned black beans

Other notes: For pasta, I often use vegetable based noodles; they do taste different from "regular" pasta, but I like that they have a full serving of vegetables! I use ground turkey in place of ground beef a lot because it's cheaper and healthier. I use chicken tenders more often than chicken breasts because they're cheaper.

I would LOVE to hear your favorite recipes too!! Please share??