These days I’m all about cooking smart and less about cooking big elaborate meals. It does make me sad that I don’t cook like I used to because I really do love to cook. However, at this stage of life cooking a new meal every night of the week just isn’t going to happen. I have accepted this fact and I’m going to make the best of this crazy season and cook smart!
When I say cooking smart I mean finding recipes that are quick and easy to whip up. Recipes that are versatile and that make good leftovers! If I take the time to cook you better believe it will be something I can make last a couple days. I have to be honest and admit that CJ and I are super picky about leftovers. There are just some meals that are not meant to be reheated and taste best the day they were made.
My girlfriends and I love sharing mom-friendly recipes with each other and any time one of us strikes a dinner success we always make sure to pass that recipe along. It takes a village right?! Every single one of the recipes I’m sharing today has passed my cooking smart test. They are yummy, quick and easy, they are versatile, and best of all they make delicious leftovers!
I hope you and your family enjoy them as much as we do!
Broccoli Rice Casserole with Chicken
This is an old Paula Deen gem that I tweaked just a bit to make it healthier and more to my liking. It’s also one that I have memorized because I’ve been cooking it for so many years!
- 2 cups of chopped broccoli, cooked
- 3 cups cooked white rice
- 1 cup mayonnaise (homemade paleo mayo recipe here for a healthier alternative)
- 1 1/2 cups sharp cheddar cheese
- 1 can of condensed cream of mushroom soup
- 2 eggs lightly beaten
- 1 sleeve of crushed Ritz Crackers (must use Ritz because…eat kale die anyway)
- 2 cups of shredded baked chicken (Sprouts always has shredded chicken you can buy which will save major time!)
- 1 tsp salt
- 1/2 tsp pepper
Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.
Grease large baking dish with butter, or whatever cooking oil you prefer.
In a large mixing bowl combine broccoli, rice, mayo, cheese, soup, eggs, chicken, salt, and pepper. Mix well with a large metal spoon. Transfer mixture into a large greased baking dish. Put Ritz crackers in a gallon sized Ziploc bag and make an airtight seal. Use your hands to crush the crackers. Once crackers are crushed, spread them evenly over the entire dish and place in oven for 30 minutes. Viola!
Crockpot Mexican Shredded Chicken
I got this recipe from one of my best friends (shoutout Val!) years ago and it was a game changer for me. You can use this chicken for quesadillas, nachos, tacos, salads, the options are endless and that’s what I love most about it! This recipe is so versatile you can turn into several different meals.
- 2lbs chicken boneless skinless chicken breast (I get enough chicken to cover the bottom of my crockpot)
- 1 can of Rotel (You can always make homemade Rotel if you want a healthier option)
- 1 package of taco seasoning
- 3/4 cups of water
*I use Ree Drummond’s taco seasoning recipe because I know the packaged taco seasoning has a lot of sodium.
- 2 tsp Chili Powder
- 1 1/2 tsp Ground Cumin
- 1/2 tsp Paprika
- 1/2 tsp Crushed Red Pepper
- 1/2 tsp Salt
- 1/4 tsp Garlic PowderNew
- 1/4 tsp Onion Powder
- 1/4 tsp Dried Oregano
- 1/4 tsp Black Pepper
Cover the bottom of the crockpot with your chicken breasts. Add Rotel. Mix taco seasoning with 3/4 cup of water, pour over chicken. Make sure the chicken is coated evenly with Rotel and taco seasoning. Cook on high for 4 hours. Once the chicken is done cooking grab two forks and shred chicken. That’s it!
Whole 30 Classic Meatloaf
-Recipe by Alex Snodgrass from The Define Dish
Don’t let the Whole 30 title throw you off because this meatloaf is the BOMB! My husband likes the good old fashioned homecooked hearty comfort food type meals and even he loved this. Pair this with some mashed potatoes and fresh green beans and it doesn’t get any better than that!
You can turn this into a second meal by making meatloaf sandwiches the next day. 😉
Simple Perfect Chili
– Recipe by Ree Drummond from The Pioneer Woman
The name says it all, SIMPLE and PERFECT, that’s exactly what this recipe is! Lately, I have been using ground turkey instead of ground chuck because we are adapting to a healthier lifestyle and it’s still just as good with the turkey. Beware, if you make this once plan on making it again and again!
BBQ Pulled Pork
There are so many pork rub recipes out there but my personal favorite is Bobby Flay’s mix. His pork rub has a spicy kick to it so if you aren’t a fan of spicy you can cut back on the chili powder and pepper.
What I love most about making pulled pork is how versatile it is. I can make street tacos with it or BBQ pulled pork sliders/sandwiches, you can even put pulled pork in a breakfast taco. Whatever your heart desires!
- 1 tbls cumin
- 1 tbls paprika
- 1 tbls granulated garlic
- 1 tbls granulated onion
- 1 tbls chili powder
- 1 tbls brown sugar
- 2 tbls kosher salt
- 1 tsp cayenne pepper
- 1 tsp black pepper
- 1 tsp white pepper
I like to use pork tenderloin because it’s a lean piece of meat and I don’t like all that chewy fat. Mix together all the spices in a bowl. Apply the pork rub with your hands and coat the entire tenderloin. Place pork tenderloin in a gallon Ziploc bag and let marinate overnight in the refrigerator. Take out the pork tenderloin early in the morning and place in a crockpot. Add 1 cup of water and cook in the crockpot for 8 hours on low heat. Once tenderloin is fully cooked grab your forks and start shredding the meat! I like to add my BBQ sauce after I’ve shredded the meat. Enjoy!
As always I hope this post inspires you. I hope you are reminded that you don’t have to cook dinner every single night of the week if you cook smart. Make all that time and effort you put into cooking last a while!