Mike Cope's blog

Friday, March 03, 2006

I love what's happening at the Walden Media group, the ones who produced "The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe." Check out their website for films they have coming, including one based on the life of William Wilberforce. My buddy Darryl Tippens just heard Michael Flaherty, president of the company, speak and said he's a seriously devoted Christ-follower. - - - - Meals are such a dance with two working parents. How do you provide dinners that are fairly healthy, fairly inexpensive, fairly easy, and fairly good? Here are some of our secrets: - Taco Tuesday at Rosa's (all right, that probably doesn't meet all four criteria--but it's inexpensive, easy, and [two out of three of us believe] good!) - Roasted whole chickens from the supermarket along with the "fresh" spinach salad-in-a-bag and a loaf of fresh bread - The crock pot (Diane's magic) - The outdoor grill (my magic) along with sauteed vegies from the pre-cut fajita pack (HEB) or steamed brocolli, which we all three love - Pasta with "homemade" marinara sauce--you know, the kind that was made in someone else's home but is sold at the grocery store (we love the ones from Central Market) - Fresh guacamole and chips--along with whatever leftovers you can find in the fridge Some nights (think: Saturdays and school holidays) one of us has the time and energy--working around soccer, basketball, baseball, or football--to actually COOK a meal that looks like something from childhood. But whether the meal was thrown together quickly or put together slowly, we almost always slow down and eat together without the television on. Last night we had "Steven Curtis Chapman" on--the first time we've listened to him in a long time. Still love his music. Any other fairly quick/fairly inexpensive/fairly healthy/fairly good meal suggestions?


  • Mike;
    As long as you have freezer space, Sam's club is a great source of quick, easy, inexpensive, and (most of the time, good). Try the jar of alfredo sauce with some sauteed shrimp.
    Of course, the most important thing is family time. Kids grow up so quick and before you know it they are at colege or on their own. Cherish the time, cherish them, and make sure they know it.

    By Blogger Jim Mauldin, at 3/03/2006 04:39:00 AM  

  • I'm a big fan of Taco Salad ("Mexican Stackup" as some call it)...chips, white rice, taco meat, lettuce, shredded cheese, salsa, guac (of course!), sour cream and two special ingredients that really add taste - shredded coconut & chopped pecans. Yum.
    It's easy to make and easy to clean up. Two of my requirements!

    By Blogger Sarah, at 3/03/2006 05:00:00 AM  

  • Two for Tuesday at Wings and More is one of our culinary delights. We always do take-out because they charge $10 or something like that for a side of blue cheese. Of course, celery is the vegetable.

    Do you eat brocolli with fajitas?

    By Blogger David Michael, at 3/03/2006 05:15:00 AM  

  • Keep fresh fruit and raw veggies on hand to supplement those "grab and run" times when you plan to go through the drive through of a fast food restaurant. Keep frozen fish in the freezer (we like tilapia...I know you like orange roughy...or other more expensive fish that some folks say "tastes just like catfish!") :) and you can pan fry it with just a little olive oil while making a salad. Clean, trim, and repackage chicken when you purchase it, so it is ready to pull from the freezer and cook. Put chicken into a baking dish with a can of seasoned diced tomatoes. Top with bread crumbs and parmesan cheese and bake. Healthy eating is not expensive...it just takes a little planning ahead.

    By Blogger Momdee, at 3/03/2006 05:21:00 AM  

  • There is a group at a church near by us who get together for "once a month freezer cooking." They prepare 10-15 meals and package them in freezer bags. They are then handed directions on how to cook each meal and sent on their way. The meals are healthy and tasty! I did it several times and would love to do it again. The only problem is finding a Saturday with several hours available.

    By Blogger erinlo, at 3/03/2006 05:30:00 AM  

  • Rotisserie (sp?) chicken from the grocery store

    while the potatoes are in the microwave, steam some asparagus or broccoli

    salad from a bag

    15 minutes total (not including the trip to the store)

    Chicken left over for sandwiches -- or a chicken pot pie when I have more time

    By Blogger vtc3po, at 3/03/2006 05:38:00 AM  

  • Walking Tacos (a favorite at little league tournaments) Open your individual bag of corn chips and add all your taco ingredients. Eat with a plastic fork. Of course, we eat ours at the kitchen table.
    Occasionally, when daddy is traveling for work, the kids and I are really naughty and go to Steak-n-Shake and have milk shakes for supper. They think that's the coolest.

    By Blogger HW, at 3/03/2006 05:41:00 AM  

  • Mike,
    Some friends from Highland (Jerry and LaDonna Hance)just opened a meal assembly shop called "Super Suppers" in the Shops of Abilene. The website is supersuppers.com and the meal selections, nutrition info and prices are listed. The food is great and in two hours you can make 24 meals for your family or 12 meals for a larger group. We love the chicken, corn and black beans as well as the meatballs. You pick the meals you like from a list that changes every month. Happy eating!

    By Blogger Robyn, at 3/03/2006 05:57:00 AM  

  • 1) Be newly married.
    2) Make a meatloaf.
    3) Upon removing it from the oven, drop it upside-down on the floor.
    4) It's too hot to clean up. Leave it there.
    5) When husband comes home, tearfully say "Dinner's in the kitchen."
    6) He'll take one look, then before you know it, you'll be seated at your favorite restaurant.
    7) Your cat will clean up the mess while you're gone.

    Worked for me!

    By Blogger Deana Nall, at 3/03/2006 06:08:00 AM  

  • Eating together as a family is becoming a dying art. I kind of obsess over spending this time together and make sure that it happens at our house. My husband and I both work, but I still cook almost every night. It's just something that is important to me AND I really enjoy cooking. (I know not everyone does) I love to love my family through their stomachs. I find that the real trick to cooking at home is planning and preparing your pantry and refrig to be cooking friendly. Be an efficient shopper. It all starts there.

    By Blogger Snapshot, at 3/03/2006 06:35:00 AM  

  • This works well for our family when Dad "gets" to cook:
    boneless/skinless chicken breasts, wrapped in swiss cheese, covered with cream of mushroom soup/water then covered with a box of stove top stuffing. Bake at 350 for hour or so.

    By Blogger mark, at 3/03/2006 07:09:00 AM  

  • Ramen Noodles!!!

    Cook up some Ramen & add some microwaved frozen stir-fry veggies. Takes 10 minutes at most!

    (Now I need to figure out how to quickly add some chicken to this meal!)

    By Blogger Beaner, at 3/03/2006 07:13:00 AM  

  • Mike,

    Just a father cooking for his boy but the 30 minute woman on HG has it wired.

    Miss the bag of avacado's that used to be put by my door when I was working in California. But Saturday is Salsa and Guac day at the house. Especially during College Football Season.

    By Blogger happytheman, at 3/03/2006 07:15:00 AM  

  • Mike, Bag of Fritos, a can of chili (Wolf Brand Chili is the best, which you can't buy in Utah), a little cheese on top - a few minutes in microwave and wham! Frito Pie baby! (onions are optional).
    Or, get the pan of frozen lasagna from Sam's Club. Get a salad in the bag; $1 loaf of french bread. You're all set.

    By Blogger Randy, at 3/03/2006 07:22:00 AM  

  • We eat together whenever we can, which means most weeknights. I don't mind cooking, it can be fun when everyone gets involved. My stumbling block is the planning. One of our favorite fall back meals is chicken alfredo. We get two jars of alfredo sauce, penne or fettucine pasta, and prepackaged Italian style grilled chicken strips. Just add chicken strips to sauce and heat on the stove. Cook pasta and put in casserole dish. Top with sauce/chicken and some freshly grated parmesan cheese and you're done. You can add steamed asparagus and/or cherry tomatoes if you want.

    Its foolproof and quite tasty. You can change it up by what you add, like mushrooms or crumbled bacon, etc.. An easy way to bless your family.

    By Blogger Lisa McD in FL, at 3/03/2006 07:24:00 AM  

  • Ok - here's another good one:

    1 pkg. cream cheese
    1 can chili (no beans)
    1 pkg. shredded cheddar
    sliced halepenos (to taste)

    Spread cream cheese in the bottom of a pie plate. Add chili. Top with cheddar (and halepenos.) Cook in oven (350?) until cheddar is melted. Serve with Tostitos!

    This is a great party appetizer too - always goes quickly in my family!

    By Blogger Beaner, at 3/03/2006 07:26:00 AM  

  • dial 692-9328

    By Blogger Clint, at 3/03/2006 07:51:00 AM  

  • I have recently rediscovered my love for a crock pot full of beans -- pintos, black beans, blackeyed peas, whatever. Serve it with some quick brown rice and you're good to go.

    Granted, *other* issues can, um, emerge later in the evening, but you can't beat the protein, fiber, and the price.

    By Blogger Matt Elliott, at 3/03/2006 07:55:00 AM  

  • Thanks for pointing us toward the Walden Media Group. Can't wait to see the up-coming movies!

    By Blogger annie, at 3/03/2006 07:57:00 AM  

  • Play "restaurant" with your kids and making cooking, cleaning, and service like a game. "Act" out the part of the complaining customer whose steak is overdone. Give awards for best actor/actress complete with a ceremony.

    By Blogger Kyle, at 3/03/2006 08:04:00 AM  

  • Here are a few suggestions from our household:

    1) chicken and spaghetti sauce in the crockpot- cooks all day while you're at work. Serve with spaghetti and salad or broccoli!
    2) Bagel sandwiches- microwave one egg in a small bowl, toast bagel, add Low Fat cream cheese, cheddar cheese and spinach. Serve with fruit or low calorie chips!
    3) chicken and barbeque sauce in the crockpot- so good and tender. Serve with packaged rice, veggie (or baked sweet potato)and fruit!

    By Blogger JENNY, at 3/03/2006 08:06:00 AM  

  • Hey Mike,
    My wife and I both work. I get home a couple of hours before her so I cook during the week. Here is one of my favorite meals. I pan cook one boneless chicken breast then cut it up in small pieces and throw it in a pot. Then I add a can of spaghetti sauce, half a jar of salsa and a small can of mushrooms. Just heat it up and put it on your favorite pasta. We usually have a salid out of a bag to go with it.

    By Blogger Paul, at 3/03/2006 08:07:00 AM  

  • Steven Curtis Chapman can PREACH! (Through his music, of course.) His songs always seem so profound.
    Our son is still a baby, but we plan to make Sunday mornings fun and memorable by going to McDonald's or something. That way, we're not rushed and overanxious when we get to Bible class.
    Hopefully, in the future, our son will associate fun and family time with the Lord's Day.

    By Blogger Franklin Wood, at 3/03/2006 08:11:00 AM  

  • I just looked at the Walden site and the movie that interested me they are working on is:

    "The Question of God: Sigmund Freud and C.S. Lewis with Dr. Armand Nicholi is a powerful intellectual exploration of two of the twentieth century's most influential thinkers: Sigmund Freud, a life-long religious skeptic, and C.S. Lewis, an unabashedly Christian writer and philosopher.

    Combining dramatizations of Lewis and Freud and lively, present-day discussion, The Question of God explores the opposing world-views of two extraordinary men. It sheds light on their attempts to make sense of the world and gives us insight into our attempts to do likewise. This two-part series is based on the work of Harvard professor, author, and psychiatrist, Dr. Armand Nicholi."

    By Blogger Steve Duer, at 3/03/2006 08:22:00 AM  

  • Both of our girls were very active with sports and other activities during high school. But,somehow, and I don't really know how, we managed to eat at least 3-4 meals together during the week. It took a lot of effort on everyone's part and a husband that did a lot of cooking, but we did it. The bottom line of this is to say, it doesn't really matter what you're eating, as long as you are sharing it together! Of course we would like our children to remember the wonderful healthy meals we prepared, however.....
    As an addendum...there is Super Suppers now!

    By Blogger goldlenlocks, at 3/03/2006 08:23:00 AM  

  • What you eat is not nearly as important as being together around the table regularly. Here's a soup that our girls grew up on:
    Quick and Easy Potato Soup
    2 C dry milk
    5½ C water
    2 C potato flakes
    ¼ C margarine
    Nature's Seasons
    Club Crackers
    Mix dry milk, potato flakes, water, & margarine in a 2-qt bowl; microwave on HI till hot & bubbly, about 9-11 minutes stirring several times. Add Nature's Seasons (or salt & pepper) to taste. May be thinned by adding milk or thickened by adding more potato flakes. Serve over crushed Club Crackers.
    Variations: Add bacon bits, ham or cheese – whatever you like.

    By Blogger Lana, at 3/03/2006 08:25:00 AM  

  • Mike,
    Just to follow up on erinlo's comments, our church does this "Meals for a Month" ministry to help families eat together, with healthy, easy, and inexpensive meals AND to reach others in our community. So many people, inside and outside our chuch need more time with their family, and this ministry helps them accomplish just that. We've had a great response from the community around us. If you or any other readers want to know more, here's our website: http://www.westhoustonchurch.org/connections/
    ministries/mfam.htm. It's been a real blessing to be involved in this ministry.

    By Blogger LJL, at 3/03/2006 08:59:00 AM  

  • Make friends with someone who loves to cook...and is good at it. Manipulate them into inviting you over for dinner at least once a week.

    By Blogger Jana, at 3/03/2006 09:06:00 AM  

  • If you like Italian, Bertoli's dinners....frozen food section....comes in a pouch. You pop it into a large skillet for 10 minutes and you're ready to eat. It's the best frozen dinner I've ever eaten. Add salad and garlic bread....enjoy.

    By Blogger Kate, at 3/03/2006 10:59:00 AM  

  • One of my favorites from college that has since become a family favorite:

    1 package Ramen noodles
    once it's on the boil, add:
    1 can of Veg-All (mixed vegetables)
    1 small can of sliced mushrooms
    1 can of Mixin' Chicken

    (that's how you add chicken to your recipe, beaner)

    just before serving, drop in an egg, wait 30 seconds, then stir it all up.

    We call it Chinese Soup.

    By Blogger Jamie B, at 3/03/2006 11:32:00 AM  

  • there are so many to choose from, but one of our favorite easy meals is parmesan chicken/ritz chicken:

    boneless skinless chicken breasts

    roll in 2T margarine, or 2 egg whites if you want to go the healthier route

    mix up: 1/2 c grated parmesan cheese
    1/4 c dry bread crumbs
    1 tsp dried oregano
    1 tsp parsley flakes
    1/4 tsp paprika
    1/4 tsp salt
    1/4 tsp pepper

    coat chicken breasts in this mixture after butter/egg whites, then place in sprayed baking pan in a 400 degree oven for 20-25 minutes or until tender

    You can also nix the extra spices and just go with parmesan and crushed up ritz crackers (hence the "ritz chicken")

    ***the great thing about this is that you can mix up the breadcrumb/ritz mixture ahead of time in larger quantities and store in your pantry, and it is ready to go when you want to make this meal...it is good with pasta or rice, veggies, and crescent rolls...it is a quick and easy meal that has been one of our favorites in our young marriage...the burned cripsy ritz cracker crumbs are matt's favorite!

    By Blogger tine, at 3/03/2006 11:57:00 AM  

  • Go to the Kraft website and sign up for their FREE magazine. I'd say it comes every couple of months. It has very tasty, kid friendly recipes. I've made about 7 different things from the last one I received in the mail. They also send recipes on email. Anna Claire's favorite is any variety of breakfast for dinner and the boys both like "Cheesy Chicken": frozen chicken patty topped with ready made pesto and a slice of mozzerella. Serve with spaghetti sauce. Green Giant has two new frozen vegies that I love... one is brocolli with some sort of basil and olive oil and the other is peas and mushrooms with a lemon flavor of some kind.

    By Blogger Amy Boone, at 3/03/2006 01:07:00 PM  

  • David - No brocolli with fajitas. Yikes!

    Momdee - Yes, we do that, too. Always raw carrots and brocolli around, always fresh fruit.

    Kelley ("Eating together as a family is becoming a dying art") and Lana ("What you eat is not nearly as important as being together around the table regularly") - excellent words. The table is a sacred place -- at home and at church!

    LJL - Love the website. What a great idea. Bet that's a blast.

    Jana - "Make friends with someone who loves to cook." We have. His name is Charles Mattis. One of the best chefs I've ever known.

    To all - thanks for the quickie recipes

    And to Robyn - I got a note about Jerry and Ladonna opening that up, but I wasn't thinking about that when I wrote my blog this morning. But, as it turns out, GREAT TIMING. After reading your note, I went by (it's on Catclaw) and looked at Super Suppers. I think I'll be back there a lot. You'll have to tell me more about taking a group of friends there (as he told me you're going to).

    By Blogger Mike, at 3/03/2006 01:22:00 PM  

  • We live on Rachel Ray's stuff from food network's website...foodnetwork.com...her show is called 30 minute meals. She does amazing stuff with readily available (ie:she uses some canned stuff) ingredients. Some of it is a little fru fru for us but there are a lot of gems as well.


    By Blogger Ed Harrell, at 3/03/2006 02:11:00 PM  

  • Another quickie:

    *boil your favorite pasta (spaghetti, fettuccini, etc)
    *melt some margarine/butter while the pasta is cooking
    *drain pasta
    *toss in melted butter and parmesean cheese

    *can add chicken if desired

    By Blogger Jenni, at 3/03/2006 02:22:00 PM  

  • The women in our lifegroup do a freezer cooking exchange once a month. We all just cook six (there are six of us) of the same meal, freeze and bring five of the meals (saving one for ourselves) to the meeting and exchange them! For us - we get two-three meals out of each dish since there's just us and Kade; but it's AWESOME cooking - as it almost always is when done by someone else! I also do freezer cooking - and it's a lifesaver - just a few hours on one Saturday - and I'm done for the month! The rule at our house whoever cooks - does not clean! So I do my "chore" once a month! hehe shhh! My husband hasn't figured that out yet!

    By Blogger Melanie Morales, at 3/03/2006 02:36:00 PM  

  • You could ALWAYS give me a call. Trained chef (culinary school!) I clean up, too.

    Not to expensive. Really stress free!

    Name you favorites!!

    By Blogger Foy O., at 3/03/2006 02:42:00 PM  

  • This is more of a breakfast thing, but we have breakfast for supper quite often in our house. My kids LOVE to do this and will even eat red and green peppers this way!Also good for when all your family is together and no one has to wait for their special omelet.

    Write the name on a quart-size freezer bag (has to be a QUART SIZE FREEZER BAG) with permanent marker for each person. Crack 2 eggs (large or extra-large) into the bag (not more than 2) shake to combine them. Put out a variety of ingredients such as: cheeses, ham, onion, green/red pepper, tomato, hash browns, salsa, onions etc. Each guest adds prepared ingredients of choice to their bag and shakes. Make sure to get all the air out of the top of the bag and zip it up. Place the bags into rolling, boiling water for exactly 13 minutes. You can usually cook 6-8 omelets in a large pot. For more, make another pot of boiling water. Open the bags and the omelet will roll out easily. Be prepared for everyone to be amazed.
    Serve with fresh fruit and a peice of whole wheat toast and you are good to go! Can be made with 4 egg whites or with corresponding measurements of egg substitute.

    By Blogger SG, at 3/03/2006 04:25:00 PM  

  • Here's another one... I'm home with flu kids and this beats cleaning the kitchen! :)

    Fast Sweet and Sour Chicken

    4 (or 5) Boneless Skinless Chicken breast
    1 bottle French,Catalina OR Russian dressing (1 cup)
    1 8oz can of jellied cranberrys OR an 8oz jar of apricot perserves
    1 pkg dry onion soup mix
    1 green pepper cut in chunks
    1 small can of chunk pineapple

    Place chicken in a 9x13 lightly sprayed with Pam. Combine dressing, cranberries/perserves and onion soup mix. Pour over chicken. Cook for 25 minutes at 350. Remove. Spoon sauce over chicken and add green peppers and pineapple. Return to oven. Cook another 15 to 20 minutes. Serve over rice. (Minute rice works fine)

    By Blogger SG, at 3/03/2006 05:34:00 PM  

  • Steve,
    The Question of God was a documentary that aired on PBS last year. It was based on Dr. Nicholi's wonderful book of the same title. Unfortunately, while the biographical pieces were great, the panel discussions were really disappointing.

    I think you mean William Wilberforce (as opposed to Richard Wilburforce).

    By Blogger john alan turner, at 3/03/2006 08:55:00 PM  

  • SG, that sounds like a much better sweet and sour recipe than the time my husband got a "hankerin" for it when we were still in college and marinated chicken breasts in sweet and sour sauce from McDonald's...he still maintains that it was wonderful...i, on the other hand, think i'd like to come to your house for that particular dish!

    By Blogger tine, at 3/03/2006 08:58:00 PM  

  • John Alan - Thanks. I guess my fingers typed quicker than my brain thought. I've even told the story about WW many times. (I've gone back and changed the text.)

    Tine - Great story. Classic "college guy cooks for girlfriend" story.

    By Blogger Mike, at 3/04/2006 05:21:00 AM  

  • Easy Chicken Pot Pie:

    1 can cream of chicken soup
    1 can mixed veggies (drained)
    1 can chunk chicken
    Mix in the bottom of a greased 9" pie plate.

    1 c bisquick
    1/2 c milk
    1 egg
    Mix together and pour over chicken mixture

    Bake at 400 or 425 for about 25 minutes (or until brown)

    By Blogger Jenn, at 3/04/2006 04:58:00 PM  

  • Mike - just a memory refresher, I'm Christine Pinson's mom (married to Matt, Jenna's cousin!). Every year my uncle raises and gives everyone at Christmas a side of beef - grain fed, extremely lean, fabulous! We try to divide it up between our kids as they need it and Roy and I have plenty! Last year, we got about 600 pounds. The great thing is that we get to design the cuts so we get brisket, steaks, hamburger (so lean, leaves no grease in pan!), hamburger patties (to make cooking for Brad -our remaining ACU student easier!), stew meet, some ribs, round steak, oh well, the list goes on. The issue is remembering that it is there and needs to be used, since this year's will be here in mid-April. I did come up with an idea once of just cooking up 5-1lb. pkgs of hamburger, seasoning them, and freezing them. That way they are ready for spaghetti, stroganoff, etc. Oh well, I enjoyed reading these ideas - very adaptable - but would love to hear some newer or more original (non-meatloaf/meatsauce)recipes for so much amazing meat! Thanks for the post, though!
    Blessings to you, Diane and Chris!

    By Blogger mindy tyndall, at 3/04/2006 08:46:00 PM  

  • I'm a big fan of a bag of Tyson Frozen Chicken (chicken tenders, Chicken nuggest, whatever) for crazy nights. I call it 'dippin dinner'. I fix the chicken, put out ranch, BBQ, honey mustard, ketchup, etc. out on the table with sliced veggies and let everyone fix their chicken and veggies w/ whatever sauces they like. The kids love it!

    By Blogger Tracy, at 3/04/2006 09:15:00 PM  

  • Now this is some easy stuff that rocks....grab a pork roast, salt and pepper it and brown on both sides..Stick in the crock pot and cover with a jar of BBQ sauce. Yum...pulls apart and makes the greatest pulled pork sandwiches. I even use cheap sauce because they all seem to taste the same after being stewed for that long.

    By Blogger MDM, at 3/05/2006 02:22:00 PM  

  • I found a blog (http://freezer-cooking.blogspot.com/) that has easy, make-a-bunch-at-once kind of recipes and just quick & easy meals.

    By Blogger Heather, at 3/06/2006 06:34:00 AM  

  • These are my favorites--
    Black beans and rice:
    Mix one or two cans of black beans drained with one or two cans of Mexican style stewed tomatoes in a sauce pan.
    Heat through and serve over rice (yellow or white) with your favorite taco fixin's. I think this meal costs about 2.00 for two people.
    Poppyseed chicken:
    Stir together Tyson pre-cooked chicken or large can of chicken,
    can of cream of chicken soup,
    small container of sour cream, and a few shakes of poppy seeds. Top with crushed Ritz crackers. Cook 350 until bubbly (usually 30 min).
    Chicken Rotel:
    Brown some chicken tenders in olive oil. Pour two cans of Rotel tomatoes over and one small can of sliced black olives. Simmer until stew-like consistency. Serve over yellow rice with sour cream and cheese.

    By Blogger Good Tidings, at 3/06/2006 08:33:00 AM  

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