Wednesday, November 14, 2012

Pilgrim Hats


 So we made these last year and I forgot to post them on my blog.  So I thought I'd go ahead and post them before I forgot again this year.  My 3 yr. old and 5 yr. old put these together pretty much all by themselves and thought they were super fun! Buy the supplies and let your kiddos go nuts!

Pilgrim Hats
1 bag of the small Reese's Peanut Butter cups
1 box chocolate striped shortbread cookies
1 cup frosting (I used homemade buttercream)
decorative fall sprinkles (optional)

Place cookies upside down on a tray.  Using a small dollop of frosting glue the unwrapped peanut butter cups onto the cookies.  Pipe frosting around the bottom edge of the peanut butter cup and make a little square on the front for the buckle.  Add decorative sprinkles if desired.  Enjoy!




Sunday, November 4, 2012

Apple Enchilada Dessert


I had seen a few pictures of these on facebook and pinterest and decided to give them a whirl!  I just kind of made up a recipe using my normal apple pie filling and here's what I came up with! It ended up making a 9x13 pan but you could definitely cut it in half and make an 8x8.  They are huge and we each only ate half of an enchilada (with some vanilla ice cream of course!) so there was a ton of leftovers. Give them a try!

Apple Enchilada Dessert
4 cups thinly sliced apples (peeled and sliced)
2 tsp. lemon juice
3/4 cup sugar
3 T. cornstarch
1 1/2 tsp. cinnamon
1/4 tsp. salt
1/8 tsp. nutmeg
2 cups water
4 oz. fat free cream cheese
6 taco sized flour tortillas
2 T. butter (melted)
Cinnamon and sugar for sprinkling on top

In a large bowl mix apples and lemon juice and set aside.  In a large stock pot or dutch oven combine 3/4 cup sugar, cornstarch, cinnamon, salt and nutmeg.  Add water and whisk together.  Cook over medium- high heat until thickened (about 2 minutes of boiling).  Melt in cream cheese.  Add apples and cover.  Simmer over medium heat until apples are tender.  Pour 1/6 of mixture into a tortilla and roll.  Continue with each of the tortillas placing each one in a 9x13 pan. Brush tops of enchiladas with butter and sprinkle with cinnamon and sugar.

Bake at 350 degrees for 15-20 minutes or until heated through and tortillas are slightly crispy. Serve with vanilla ice cream.

Wednesday, October 31, 2012

Monday, October 29, 2012

Apple Snickers Salad



Looking for a new way to get rid of some of your kids Halloween candy? This is a quick and yummy dessert idea I got from my friend Elise a while back. Plus the apples and fat free whipped cream make it good for you...right? Right? (Just forget about those delicious little bits of Snickers!)  I put quantities for each of the ingredients but this isn't really a recipe where you need to measure things out.  You can easily make as much or as little as you want.  The recipe below filled my regular sized trifle bowl perfectly. Enjoy!

Apple Snickers Salad
4 large granny smith apples (chopped)
1 16 oz. container fat-free whipped topping
5-6 regular sized snicker bars (chopped)

Chop apples and snickers bars into bite sized pieces and mix with whipped topping. That's it!

Wednesday, October 24, 2012

Taco Soup



 I'm really surprised I haven't put this recipe on here before now seeing as I make it so much.  I got this recipe from one of my roommates aunts back in college.  It was a great meal for college because it was cheap and it lasted me all week.  Now that I'm cooking for six people it doesn't last quite as long but it's still cheap and easy to throw together.  It's made up of ingredients that you probably already have on hand!

Taco Soup
1 lb. ground beef
1/2 cup chopped onion
1 can stewed tomatoes (do not drain)
1 can corn (do not drain)
1 can olives (drained)
1 can kidney beans (do not drain)
1 can pinto beans (do not drain)
1 (8 oz) can tomato sauce
1 cup salsa (I use Kroger chunky salsa)
1 packet taco seasoning
water (as needed)

Toppings (optional):
cheese
sour cream
crushed tortilla chips

Cook beef and onion together in a large stock pot.  Add all canned goods, salsa and taco seasoning.  Take note that only the olives are drained. Add water until soup is desired thickness.  (I usually just use one of the empty cans.  About 1 1/2 cans of water usually does the trick).  Let simmer about 10 min.  When serving, top with cheese, sour cream or chips if desired.

Monday, October 22, 2012

Crock Pot Italian Beef Sandwiches



I got this recipe from Alex's aunt several years ago and love it.  Just mix all the ingredients together in a crock pot and the meat and au jus come out perfectly when you're ready to eat.

Italian dressing seasoning and banana peppers work together to give the meat its flavor.  You can spice it up by using hot pepper rings in place of mild. Serve on wheat hoagie rolls with whatever cheese you prefer.  We like provolone or pepperjack around here :)

Crock Pot Italian Beef Sandwiches
3-4 lb. beef roast
1 packet dry Italian dressing mix
1 jar mild (or hot) pepper rings (with juice)
1 can beef broth
garlic powder (to taste)
oregano (to taste)

Mix all ingredients together in a crock pot.  Heat on low for 7-8 hours.  Shred meat and return to crock pot. Serve meat on sandwich rolls using broth mixture for dipping. 

Thursday, October 18, 2012

Fruit Crisp


This is one of my favorite desserts.  The topping pairs well with just about all the fruits I've tried.  I've made it with fresh peaches, pears and apples.  The picture above is peaches.  I've also used frozen berries and cherry pie filling and those were both yummy too.  It's also easy to double and cooks nicely in a dutch oven (in case you get put in charge of making cobblers for 100 teenagers at Girls Camp...for example!)

There are a lot of ways to alter this recipe to your liking too.  Omit the coconut if you want, play around with the spices, combine different fruits, add extra pecans, etc.  Just don't forget the vanilla ice cream!!

Fruit Crisp
6 cups fruit (fresh, frozen or canned)
3 T. granulated sugar
1 cup rolled oats
1 cup brown sugar
1/2 cup flour
1/4 tsp. nutmeg
1/4 tsp. ginger
1 tsp. cinnamon (I like more!)
1/2 cup butter
1/4 cup shredded coconut
1/4 cup chopped pecans or walnuts

Peel and slice fresh fruit or thaw frozen fruit.  Place in the bottom of a 9x13 in. baking dish.  Sprinkle with granulated sugar.

In a medium bowl combine oats, brown sugar, flour and spices.  Cut in butter using a pastry blender until mixture is in coarse crumbs.  Stir in nuts and coconut.  Pour topping evenly over the fruit.

Bake at 375 degrees for 35 minutes or until fruit is tender.  Serve warm with ice cream.





Tuesday, October 16, 2012

Stuffed Jalapenos


These were so yummy!  And even though they are loaded with cheesy goodness I was surprised that they have a lot less calories than some of their appetizer neighbors :) They were super easy to throw together and bake quickly too.

One word of advice when making them...And unfortunately I learned the hard way...wear gloves when cutting and seeding the peppers.  If you don't, your hand will be on fire for about 2 days afterward, no joke!  I was only doing it to 15 peppers and thought I could get away without the gloves...big mistake!  So, now you can enjoy delicious jalapeno appetizers without the pain.

Also, It's hard to guess which jalapeno is going to be hot and which is going to be mild so it's kind of like playing jalapeno roulette when you eat them.  I served them at a game night and every once and a while someone would get a nice hot one and it made for a good time :) Enjoy!

Jalapeno Poppers
12-15 jalapenos (cut in half, seeds removed)
1 (8 oz.) block of cream cheese (I used fat free)
3/4 cup sharp cheddar cheese
1/2 cup cooked bacon pieces
a dash of garlic powder (optional)

Cut each jalapeno in half and remove the seeds.  In a small bowl combine cream cheese, sharp cheddar and bacon.  Place about 1 Tablespoon of mixture in each of the jalapeno halves. Sprinkle with extra cheddar if desired.  Place stuffed jalapenos on a large baking sheet and bake at 375 degrees for 20 minutes or until centers are hot and bubbly and jalapenos are tender. 


Monday, October 1, 2012

Glazed Carrots


Here's a quick recipe that I use a lot.  All four of my girls love carrots cooked just about any way but this is probably their favorite.  I started making this for Easter and Thanksgiving but now we have them all the time.  You can use baby carrots or slice up regular carrots (pictured above).  Enjoy!

Glazed Carrots
5 cups carrots (baby or sliced whole carrots)
1-2 T. butter
1/4 cup honey
1-2 T. brown sugar

Steam carrots in stovetop steamer basket or in microwave until just tender.  In a medium saucepan combine butter, honey, and brown sugar, stirring constantly over medium heat until slightly thickened. Add carrots and coat with honey mixture. Serve immediately!

Thursday, August 23, 2012

Paula Deen's Corn Salad



It's Paula Deen Y'all!  So a few months ago I inherited several bags of Fritos after girl's camp was over.  We aren't huge chip snackers so they've just kind of sat there on the top shelf of the pantry taunting me to use them in a recipe! I have a really yummy zucchini salad recipe that uses them but my family won't touch it and it makes more than I could eat.  So I turned to my friend the Internet and found this super yummy Paula Deen salad! (I use the word "salad" loosely) The best part was that it used ingredients I already had on hand!

The actual recipe calls for chili cheese Fritos but since I had the original Fritos to use up I just added some chili powder and cumin to the mix.  I'm going to write out the recipe her way below...just know that adding your own spices is always an option.  Especially if you find yourself with four bags of Fritos to use up and you just can't eat another Frito pie.  Try serving this with grilled hamburgers and your husband will be a happy man!

Paula Deen's Corn Salad
2 cans sweet corn (drained)
1 green bell pepper- chopped (I had a red one so I used that)
1/2 cup onion- chopped
1 cup mayonnaise
2 cups shredded cheddar
1 bag chili cheese fritos coarsely crushed (I used more like 1/2 a bag and let people add more to their serving if they wanted to)

Drain corn.  Chop veggies.  Mix all ingredients (except Fritos) in a large bowl.  Cover and chill for at least 30 min.  Just before serving, mix in chips. 

Wednesday, August 22, 2012

Ch-ch-ch-ch-changes!

Just wanted to point out a couple of new features on the ol' blog.

First, my husband added a "Pin it" button for all you pinterest fans out there!  In order to pin something just click on any blog post and then scroll to the bottom of the post and pin away! 

Secondly, I added a couple of new tabs at the top of the blog.  In addition to the recipe index there is now also a "how to" tab and a "random reviews and thoughts" tab.  Click on the "how to" tab to find a few DIY projects, party ideas, and cooking tips.  The random review tab has book reviews, product reviews and some random thought posts! 

If you have any questions you can leave a comment below or email me at julia@neighborjulia.com!  Thanks!

Tuesday, August 21, 2012

Cheesy Broccoli Chicken and Rice Bake






I found this recipe on Pinterest.  My girls love broccoli...I know... weird! In fact Emeline's favorite meal is broccoli cheese soup.  Which while it contains broccoli it's not exactly the most nutritious thing you can do with broccoli :)  So I set out to find a healthier cheesy broccoli concoction and came upon this little guy! It still super cheesy and packed with broccoli but added a few other veggies plus some rice and chicken.  It's also made with evaporated milk instead of canned soup.

The original source can be found at Salad in a Jar.  Click on the link to see the original recipe.  She made it meatless and used it as a side.  I mostly kept it the same except for adding shredded chicken and changing some of the measurements in order to accommodate for the chicken addition and to make a 9x13 sized casserole.  It was very filling and actually fed my family and another family and still produced leftovers.  If you have small kids then you can probably get away with just making the 8x8 that her recipe makes and adding some chicken.  Or use the recipe below and divide it up to share! It was super tasty and would be a great side dish too! 

Cheesy Broccoli Chicken and Rice Bake
(makes a big 9x13...or make two 8x8's and freeze some for later!)
5 cups broccoli florets
3 T. Lemon Juice
1/4 cup Butter
1/2 of a medium sized onion (finely chopped)
2 cloves garlic (minced)
2 stalk celery (chopped )
1 cup mushrooms (coarsely chopped)
2 cans evaporated milk (fat free works great)
2 T. Flour
salt and pepper (to taste)
3 1/2 cups shredded cheese (I used a cheddar/jack blend)
1 rotisserie chicken
2 1/2 cups cooked rice

Steam broccoli until slightly tender (don't overcook!)  I did mine in a microwavable steamer bowl for about 4 min.  Drain broccoli and mix with lemon juice.

In a large skillet saute onion, garlic, celery and mushrooms in butter until softened.   Whisk flour and milk together in a small bowl.  Pour milk mixture slowly over onion mixture.  Cook until thickened (about 4 minutes) stirring constantly.  Add salt, pepper, and cheese and continue to cook over medium heat.

Remove chicken from the bones and shred or chop. Combine broccoli, cheese sauce, chicken and rice in a 9x13 in. casserole dish.  If too thick, add milk 1 T. at a time until you reach desired consistency. Top with additional cheese (optional but worth it!).  Bake at 350 degrees for approx. 25 minutes or until heated through.





Tuesday, July 31, 2012

Grilled Shrimp Fajitas


I was planning out my menu for the week and I decided to make chicken fajitas.  But then the thought struck me...what about trying shrimp!  I love shrimp fajitas at restaurants and I knew they couldn't be too hard.  So I bought some shrimp, threw this recipe together and the rest is history.  My kids all loved them too.  (I still grilled a piece of chicken for my husband though.  He hates seafood in all varieties) But if you don't hate seafood you might just find these delicious too.

One quick note is that I used already cooked shrimp because I wanted to make this meal fast.  I still let them marinate for an hour and threw them on the grill to give them better flavor. But if you're not in hurry I'm sure that starting with uncooked shrimp and actually cooking them through on the grill would help give you more of the fajita flavor.  So do what you feel best about!


Shrimp fajitas
1-2 lb. shrimp (cooked)
2 limes (juiced)
1 tsp. chile powder
2 cloves garlic (minced)
2 red bell pepper (sliced)
1 green bell pepper (sliced)
1/2 medium onion (sliced)
1 avocado (sliced or chopped. See tip on how to cut an avacado by clicking here)
1 can black beans (optional)
Shredded cheddar (optional)
sour cream (optional
flour tortillas

In a large ziploc bag; combine shrimp, lime juice, chile powder and garlic. Shake until shrimp is evenly coated.  Allow to marinate in the refrigerator for about an hour.  Slice bell peppers and onion into long skinny strips.  Add bell peppers and onion to the bag and allow vegetables to be coated in the lime juice.

Place shrimp and veggies mixture in a large grill basket.  Cook over medium-high heat on your grill until shrimp is heated and veggies are softened.

Place shrimp and veggies in flour tortillas.  Top with avocado, beans, cheddar and sour cream if desired.  Roll tortilla around contents and enjoy!




Thursday, July 19, 2012

How to Chop (or Slice) an Avocado

Okay I'm back to talking about food!  You all thought I was joking about the 'how to slice an avocado" post but here it is!  I know it seems a little simple to warrant it's own blog post but I've passed this tip on to quite a few people so I decided to stick it on here!  It's a great way to chop avocado quickly without getting it all over your fingers and the cutting board. It also works great for chopping or slicing a mango. I even took step by step pictures just like all those big time bloggers! 

1) First, cut the Avocado in half and remove the pit.

 2) Next, using a knife carefully cut the fruit of the avocado into slices lengthwise without cutting the peel at all. (If you want slices for a sandwich or salad skip to step #4.  If you want it chopped move onto step #3)

 3) Cut the avocado in slices width wise to form dices.

4) Scoop out with a spoon making sure to run your spoon evenly along the peel to get all the avocado out.
5) Enjoy perfectly diced avocado in your salad without making a mess or getting it all over your fingers!

Tuesday, July 17, 2012

And I have some political views...

Okay, so I realize that this blog has become primarily a food blog.  But when I first started this blog I did it because I wanted to have a place to discuss things that were important to me. Obviously my waistline can tell you that food is definitely one of those things :) However, I also have other interests like child rearing, religion, politics, etc.  So hopefully with this preface you won't think the rest of this post is too random or crazy or boring.  It's just something that's been on my mind.

So, one more time, just so we understand one another...there is no recipe that follows this rant.  It's just a good ol' fashioned political post and it's about to get pretty soapboxy in here.  But don't worry I'll be back tomorrow for a tutorial about how to slice an avocado properly :)

I've been struggling lately with how "black and white" people try to make things during an election year.  The right says something ridiculous so the left counteracts by saying something equally ridiculous trying to prove the other side wrong.  I'm worried that we get so caught up in being "Republican" or "Democrat" that we don't stop to think about what we are actually saying or how it is coming across.

The latest case of this was sparked by President Obama's remarks in Roanoke over the weekend.  I'll quote him first before I comment further.  This is the part of the remarks I've seen posted over and over.

"Look, if you’ve been successful, you didn’t get there on your own.  You didn’t get there on your own.  I’m always struck by people who think, well, it must be because I was just so smart.  There are a lot of smart people out there.  It must be because I worked harder than everybody else.  Let me tell you something -- there are a whole bunch of hardworking people out there. If you were successful, somebody along the line gave you some help.  There was a great teacher somewhere in your life.  Somebody helped to create this unbelievable American system that we have that allowed you to thrive.  Somebody invested in roads and bridges.  If you’ve got a business -- you didn’t build that.  Somebody else made that happen.  The Internet didn’t get invented on its own.  Government research created the Internet so that all the companies could make money off the Internet. The point is, is that when we succeed, we succeed because of our individual initiative, but also because we do things together."

First of all, amen to the great teacher thing!  Not that the government has helped teachers out very much lately.  But seriously go give a great teacher a hug right now! I'll wait. Now I'll move on to my main point.  Do I agree with everything the President said here...no. But do I agree with a lot of it...yes! (shocked whispers) Could he have probably chosen his words more carefully and made his point better...yes.  But the thing that has really concerned me the most is some of the responses that I've seen to his remarks.

I know there is an entitlement problem in America right now.  I get that. I do.  But on the other end of the spectrum from the "everyone owes me everything" mentality is the "I did it all by myself" mentality.  And I'm sorry but that way of thinking is just as crippling as the first. Really, part of what President Obama is saying is true. If we really stop and think about our lives, all of us have had help along the way.  Maybe not from the government, maybe not financial help, but we all have support systems of some kind. Both seen and unseen.

In today's world just having parents who help teach you about hard work is a rare commodity.  I'm a hard worker.  I know that work is important and that working hard has very positively affected my life.  But I can also easily identify people and programs who have helped me get here.  First, I had parents who were involved in my life.  They valued education and hard work.  What if they didn't?  What if all the role models in my life hadn't taught me right from wrong?  Or didn't know how to work?  Or abused government programs to make a living?  Would I still be a hard worker?  I don't know.  And I think most people out there, if they are being truthful with themselves, don't know either because they've never been in that situation. This is  a good argument for being slow to judge.  Do we really want to condemn a generation based on the sins of their fathers? So yes, maybe I work harder at things than some people, but I had a lot of motivation to do that from positive role models in my life.

Some other examples: when I was in college I had to work early mornings cleaning the shared bathrooms in the freshman dorms in order to pay my tuition. (Hard work) But I also attended a church school where I enjoyed having a tuition bill that was about a quarter of the price that many of my friends paid at state schools.  And the reason my tuition was lower was because of the contributions of thousands of church members throughout the world.  My husband's employer (a government lab) paid for his graduate work.  My daughter has cerebral palsy and has received a lot of her therapies from a state funded program that employs P.T.s, O.T.s and speech therapists.  These are just a few of the ways I've been helped; saying that I did everything on my own would not only be ungrateful it would be untrue.  So yes, I'm a hard worker but I didn't get the life I have completely on my own.

Another point the President makes is that just because someone is less fortunate doesn't mean that they aren't a hard worker.  No matter how well we plan out our lives, any one of us can find ourselves in need of charity at any moment.  There are things that happen that you can't stop.  Health needs, loss of job, death in the family, etc.  But in argument, some people will say "yes, but I don't mind giving help to people who deserve it".  But don't we learn that true charity can come when we help people who maybe don't deserve it?  We can't just say people who succeed are workers and people who don't are lazy.  It is getting harder and harder to "pull yourself up by the bootstraps" so to speak.  Are there lazy people out there...sure.  But does that justify not giving government help to anyone?

I've also heard the argument "Give a man a fish, he eats for a day.  Teach a man to fish he eats for a lifetime".  I understand the sentiment behind it.  But I just think it's a combination of the two.  It's important to teach people to fish but there is also a time to just give a man a fish.  If we want to get scriptural about it we could do that too.  Does God want us to work hard during our life? Yes!  But I also seem to remember that Christ handed out a free fish or two during his ministry without requiring anything back.  He didn't just feed people who agreed with him, he fed everyone who asked.

So basically what I'm saying is...I know most people, if they really stop to contemplate their life, are going to realize that each of us is profoundly affected by the sacrifices, large and small, of others.  And that sometimes we accomplish things as individuals and sometimes we accomplish things in a group.  All of us owe a debt of gratitude to the patriots who founded our country or to the men who've served in the armed forces.  And I know that most people realize these things, they just get so caught up in the party system that they end up saying things that they don't really mean.

I just can't seem to fit Christ's ministry into a single man-made political party.  It just doesn't fit.  His message was about love and about doing what is right.  Many of us have differing opinions about how best to do that within the realm of "politics".  So we each have a responsibility to make our personal beliefs mesh with our political beliefs.  And allow all men to do the same. 

My personal belief is that we need to find some balance before we are going to heal the wounds that are running rampant in our country.  At some point we are going to have to evolve past a two party system.  We have to stop thinking "what would the republicans do" or "what would the democrats say" and start thinking what do I, as a person, want to do and say.  Then maybe our leaders will be able to stop representing a party and get back to representing the people.  But in the meantime, try to look for the good in one another.  Each side has good points.  Don't say things you don't mean and can't take back.  Don't let yourself get sidetracked from the actual issues by getting caught up in the "media madness" of it all.  The media knows when something will make a ripple...a misquote, a stumble, etc.  They try and reel you in with things like "Republicans hate working moms" or "Democrats hate small business owners".  Take the time and research these issues for yourselves.  Don't just read one article about something and call it good.  Know your sources...because they each have their own slant.  Each of us has the right to vote our conscience and decide for ourselves what side of the issues we are on.  Don't just let Anderson Cooper make up your mind for you.  Although he is really attractive! (Seriously ladies, you know what I'm talking about).

So I'm not trying to say that the President was right about everything he said.  I'm not trying to say that he has all the right answers to those problems.  I'm just trying to remind everyone that it's not just cut and dry, right or wrong.  I think he made a lot of good points. "The point is, is that when we succeed, we succeed because of our individual initiative, but also because we do things together."

 I just don't want people to let "party affiliation" block them from seeing that sometimes the "other side" actually makes a little bit of sense. 

Soap Box over. Now it's your turn...discuss...

Monday, July 16, 2012

Grilled Pineapple and Teriyaki Chicken


So here's the story: Last week I went to Tucanos for the first time and now I'm obsessed with grilled pineapple!  I vowed upon leaving that I would learn how to make it (as well as the grilled parmesan veggies, YUM!)  Then, my neighbors put together a potluck block party and I decided to give grilled pineapple a try.

Also, interesting side note: do you know what the outside of a pineapple is called?  When I started typing up the instructions for this recipe I realized that I didn't.  Skin? Husk? Rind? Peel? So I decided to look it up and I found out that the internet didn't know either!  It's called all of those things by one source or another.  One website even said it was called "the eyes". And Wikipedia didn't even address it.  So I still don't know the answer...give me your opinion!

Usually when I grill pineapple I do it in rings but I wanted the pineapple to go farther so I decided to cut it in spears.  And I have to say I really preferred the pineapple that way for grilling.  It cut up faster and I didn't seem to lose as much juice cutting it up that way.  Then I rolled each piece in a little bit of cinnamon and brown sugar.

I decided to serve it with chicken kabobs using a teriyaki sauce recipe from my "our best bites" cookbook.  I think the two went together great!  So I'll post both recipes here.  Give them a try together or seperately!

Grilled Pineapple
1 fresh pineapple
1/4 cup brown sugar
1 tsp. cinnamon

Slice pineapple into fourths remove the core and the husk/rind/skin.  Cut fourths into long spears (about 1 in. in width).  Mix the brown sugar and cinnamon together in a large bowl.  Roll each of the spears in the cinnamon mixture, lightly dusting all the pineapple.  This helps draw out the juice and causes instant carmelization when you put it on the grill.

Place spears directly on grill.  Cook about 4 minutes on each side or until pineapple is warmed through and juicy with lightly browned edges.

Teriyaki Chicken Kabobs (Using "Our Best Bites" sauce recipe)
Kabobs:
3 or 4 large chicken breasts (chopped into 1 in. cubes)
10 wooden skewers (about 12 in. in length)
warm water to soak skewers in

Sauce:
1/2 cup granulated sugar
1/2 cup soy sauce
1/4 cup apple cider vinegar
1 clove garlic, minced
1/2 tsp. ground ginger
1/4 tsp. black pepper
1 T. cornstarch
1 T. cold water

Fill a 9x13 pan half way with warm water.  Soak wooden skewers in the warm water for 20 min. while you make the sauce.

For the sauce, combine sugar, soy sauce, vinegar, garlic, ginger and pepper in a small saucepan. Cook over medium heat until boiling.  In a small container, whisk together the cornstarch and water.  Add the cornstarch mixture to the boiling soy sauce mixture and continue to cook until thickened.  Remove  from heat and allow to cool slightly.

Cut uncooked chicken into 1 in. cubes. Remove skewers from water and dump out water from the pan.  Place chicken pieces on the skewer one at a time making sure to leave a little space between each piece so that they can cook evenly.  When all of your chicken is on the skewers.  Place the kabobs in a shallow dish (I used the 9x13 pan from step 1) and pour Teriyaki sauce over them (reserving 1/2 cup for basting on the grill).  Turn each kabob once to make sure they are fully coated.  Let marinate for about 4 hours (longer is fine too).

Grill kabobs for about 10 minutes on each side, basting periodically with the reserved Teriyaki sauce.  When chicken is cooked, remove from the grill, and enjoy!








Saturday, July 14, 2012

Oreo Truffles


Oh dear! I'm not sure how I forgot to blog about these sweet truffles!  I made them along with chocolate covered strawberries for a wedding shower which was approximately 5 months ago I think!  That was during the 6 months of radio, I mean internet, silence the neighborjulia blog observed in memorial of my remaining sanity (which was lost when the twins were born!).

I stole this recipe from my sister/friends Rachel and Maria via facebook.  Two awesome ladies that I grew up next door to in the great state of Washington. I carefully intercepted said recipe and I'm now sharing it with the world! (The world being the 5 of you who still check this blog).  

Now a word of caution. while these are extremely delicious and easy to throw together (as mentioned above) I do have to admit there was a moment where I was mixing crushed Oreos together with cream cheese that I felt a little guilty about what I was about to eat...but it soon passed and then I was dippin' those suckers in chocolate and rainbow sprinkles!  Also, beware these are super duper sweet...one or two will do ya!  And the recipe makes a big batch so you'll have plenty to share!

Enjoy!

Oreo Truffles
1 package oreos, crushed to fine crumbs
1 8 oz package cream cheese softened
melting chocolate

To crush the oreos I placed them in a gallon sized ziploc bag and rolled over it with a rolling pin.  Shake the bag and repeat until the oreos are in fine crumbs. 
Line a large baking sheet with waxed paper. 
Mix crushed Oreos and cream cheese in a medium sized bowl. Roll into bite-size balls (mine were about 1 in).  Dip in melted chocolate and set on wax paper cookie sheet.  You can decorate with melted white chocolate drizzled on top or dip them rainbow sprinkles (as pictured) Rachel also suggested crushed peppermint candies for a Christmas treat. Refrigerate for 1 hour to set. Yum!

Thursday, July 12, 2012

Tomato, Bacon and Cheddar omelet



This is one of the first things I remember making as a kid.  When I was in high school this was an easy meal to make if I'd get home late from practice. I would make these for my mom when she had late meetings and things like that too. I know...I was probably the best kid ever, right mom? ;) 

I've made different flavor combos of omelets now but this is still my favorite.  Tomato, cheddar and bacon...perfect!  Serve it with whole wheat toast and you've got yourself a winner. Give it a try and see how it suits you.  Maybe make it for your mom when she comes home tired.  Maybe she'll go easy on you the next time you break curfew :)

Tomato, Bacon and Cheddar Omelet
3 eggs
1 T. butter
Salt and Pepper to taste
1/4 cup cheddar cheese
1/2 cup chopped tomato (divided)
2 pieces cooked bacon (divided)

Crack the eggs into a small bowl and scramble.  Melt butter in a small frying pan making sure to coat the entire pan.  Pour eggs in pan and sprinkle with salt and pepper.  Cook over medium low heat.  When eggs are cooked about 1/2 way through it's time to flip them!  Using a large pancake turner flip the eggs all at one time.  If the omelet rips it's no big deal. Just make sure all the eggs get turned over and push the pieces back together with your spatula. 

When eggs are almost cooked through, top with cheese, 1/3 of the tomatoes and a piece of the bacon crumbled.  Fold eggs in half over the toppings.  Cook over low heat until the cheese is melted.  Remove from pan and set aside.

Take the remaining tomatoes and add to the pan.  Cook over low heat until tomatoes are cooked through and slightly browned.  Top the omelet with cooked tomatoes and the remaining crumbled bacon.  Enjoy!

Red, White and Blue Strawberries


I meant to post this in time for the Fourth of July but I have these twins and all... I know that really doesn't have much to do with why I didn't post this earlier, but one of my friends told me that I could use that as an excuse whenever I needed to, so I decided to give it a try.  Did it work?

At any rate, these were super cute and the girls loved it.  I saw a picture of these on pinterest and decided to give them a try for the 4th.  They took about 10 minutes to prepare and then I let them harden in the fridge.  It would be a great recipe to have kids help you with too!

They were perfect to let everyone snack on while we finished up the grilling and whatnot for dinner. Give them a try the next time you are in a patriotic mood.  But, strawberries dipped in white chocolate and colored sugar would probably still taste okay even if they aren't served on a holiday. 

Red, White and Blue Strawberries
1 lb. carton of strawberries (rinsed)
3 blocks white chocolate candy bark (melted)
1/2 cup blue sugar sprinkles

After rinsing each strawberry make sure all the water is dried off of each one so that the chocolate will stick.  Melt white chocolate slowly according to package directions.  Dip each strawberry 2/3 of the way into melted chocolate and then immediately into the sprinkles (making sure to leave some of the white showing).  Place on a flat surface and allow to harden.  I placed them in the fridge for about an hour to chill and removed them a few minutes before serving to soften slightly.

Monday, June 11, 2012

Italian Pasta Salad


Well, my friends, next week I'm cooking at girls' camp again!  So you might be hearing about that adventure soon!  Today, I'm posting a recipe we'll be making up there for one of the lunches. I've been making this easy pasta salad for a long time and it's changed a bit from time to time but it's held pretty steady for awhile a now :)  It's got lots of veggies and the sauce is very easy to make.  My girls wont touch potato salad and many other picnic type salads with a 10 foot pole...so pasta salad is always my go to.  It's also a great recipe for a large group because it makes a ton for a pretty small price.  And that's why it's going to girls' camp with me!

Italian Pasta Salad
1 box tri-color rotini pasta
2 roma tomatoes, chopped
1 yellow bell pepper, chopped
1 large cucumber, chopped
1 can olives, sliced or chopped
1 cup slice pepperoni (optional)
1 cup italian dressing
1 cup mayonaisse

Cook and drain pasta.  Rinse cooked pasta in cold water.  Add fresh vegetables, olives, and pepperoni (if desired).  In a separate bowl whip Italian dressing and mayo together until smooth.  Pour dressing mixture over pasta and veggies.  Toss until well coated.  You can play with the amount of dressing and mayo until you get it to the consistency your family likes. Refrigerate for at least 30 minutes before serving.

Friday, June 8, 2012

Low Fat Apple Bran Muffins


I combined a few of my favorite muffin recipes to create one super recipe!  These muffins are sweetened by honey and applesauce so you don't have to add the cup of sugar that usually comes along with the word muffin.  They are also loaded with fresh chopped apples.  My kids gobble them up every time I make them.  If you want to make them a little sweeter you could use sweetened applesauce or add 2 T. of sugar.

Low-Fat Apple Bran Muffins
Non-stick cooking spray
1 1/4 cups bran flakes
1/2 cup skim milk
1 cup flour (whole wheat flour works well too)
2 tsp. baking powder
1/4 tsp. baking soda
1/4 tsp. salt
1 egg, beaten
3/4 cup unsweetened applesauce
1/4 cup honey
1 cup finely chopped apples

In a medium bowl combine milk and bran flakes.  Set aside and let soften into mush.  In a large bowl, combine dry products and make a well in the middle.  Set aside.  To bran mixture add egg, applesauce and honey.  Add bran mixture to dry products.  Stir just until moistened.  Fold in apples.  Bake at 400 degrees for 16-18 minutes.

Note: Do not use pan liners as these muffins are really moist and will stick to the paper.  Instead use a non-stick baking spray with flour in it and spray down your muffin pan really well.  This recipe makes one dozen muffins.

Thursday, June 7, 2012

Candied Pecans


So someone pointed out that it had been a month since I posted last...time flies when you have 11 month old twins. :)  At any rate, here's a new recipe for everyone to try!

I got this recipe from my sister, Annah!  They are delicious by themselves or in a salad. I love them in spinach with strawberries or apples.  The flavor goes well with raspberry vinaigrette dressing too!

They are super easy to make and they make your house smell awesome while they bake.  This recipe makes 3 cups of pecans (which you can store) but you can scale it down if you just want enough for one salad.  Give them a try!

Candied Pecans
3 cups pecan halves
1/4 cup butter, melted
1 cup sugar
1/4 cup water
1 tsp. salt
2 tsp. cinnamon
1/2 tsp. cardamom
1/2 tsp nutmeg

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.  Grease a large jelly roll pan (15x20) with butter and set aside.  In a large saucepan, combine 1/4 cup butter with sugar and water.  Stir constantly until sugar is completely dissolved.  Add spices and pecans.  Stir until pecans are well coated (about 4 or 5 minutes).  Transfer pecans to prepared baking pan and bake 10 min. or until golden.  Allow to cool before serving. Store leftovers in a refrigerated air-tight container.




Wednesday, April 25, 2012

Waikiki Meatballs

I got this recipe from my friend Angela.  I had tried this at her house and knew my family would love it! She also has a great recipe blog you can check out at: http://banangelasplit.blogspot.com/! She has a really yummy fruit bruschetta recipe on there as well...so check that out too.

My kiddos love all recipes that involve meatballs.  I have to admit that I use frozen meatballs most of the time but I decided to follow the whole recipe and make these from scratch.  It took a little extra time but they are seasoned with ginger which goes great with the sauce.  The sweet sauce and pineapple was a big hit with my family too! These were easy to make and were eaten quickly!  Enjoy!

Waikiki Meatballs
Meatballs:
1 ½ lbs. ground beef
½ cup chopped onion
1 egg
2/3 cup cracker crumbs (I used saltines)
1 tsp. salt
1/2 tsp. ground ginger
¼ cup milk

Sauce:
2 T. cornstarch
½ cup brown sugar
1 can pineapple chunks (reserve juice)
1/3 cup apple cider vinegar
1 T. soy sauce
1 green pepper, chopped

In a large bowl combine all meatball ingredients.  Form into meatballs (about 1 T. of mixture per meatball).  Place meatballs in a large baking pan and bake at 350 degrees for 25 min. or until done.  Drain meatballs and keep warm.

Meanwhile, in a large skillet, mix together cornstarch, brown sugar, pineapple juice, vinegar, and soy sauce.  Heat to boiling.  Reduce heat to a simmer and cook until sauce begins to thicken.  Add bell pepper and cook until slightly tender.  When ready to serve add meatballs and pineapple and heat through.  Serve over rice.



Tuesday, April 10, 2012

Cowboy Casserole

Okay, so this didn't photograph well but believe me it's a crowd pleaser. My kiddos and husband all loved this one. This is about as casserole as you can get I'm afraid. Tater tots, cream of mushroom and ground beef...all the elements of a perfect casserole, am I right? It's just the kind of casserole a sweet little old lady might bring your family for dinner in the 1980s and that's what makes it comfort food :)

But, it is a new twist to tater tot casserole...and the new twist is green chile! Because everything is better with green chilies! You can tweak how spicy you make it by adding less chile or using a milder chile. But my family likes it hot so there is a pretty good portion of it in the recipe below.

I found a recipe in a magazine for a casserole with this name but pretty much the only thing I kept the same was the tater tots and the can of corn. So I'm going to claim this as a neighborjulia original. Enjoy!

Cowboy Casserole
2 lbs. ground beef
1 can corn
2 cans cream of mushroom
1/2 cup sour cream
1/2 cup milk
1/2 cup diced green chile (I used frozen)
1 1/2 cups shredded cheddar cheese
1 tsp. onion powder
salt and pepper (to taste)
1 bag frozen tater tots

Cook beef and drain. In a large bowl mix cooked ground beef with rest of the ingredients (except the tater tots). Spread mixture in a 9x13 pan and top with tater tots. Bake at 375 for 30 minutes or until tater tots are brown and crispy.

Friday, March 23, 2012

7 Layer Bars

So this is pretty much my favorite cookie ever! You've all probably had them in some form. They have a bunch of names such as: 7 layer bars, hello dollies, and magic bars. I've always called them 7 layer bars and Ben and Jerry's call them that too...just sayin'.

I'd like to conclude this blog post with the reasons that I love these bars. I love coconut and these deliver coconut plus chocolate and butterscotch! I love cookie bars because you can assemble it so much faster than scooping cookies. Finally I love how super easy they are to make!! Good luck!

7 Layer Bars
1 1/2 cups graham cracker crumbs (about 1 sleeve plus 5 or 6 more crackers)
1/2 cup butter (melted)
1 cup semi-sweet chocolate chips
1 cup butterscotch chips
1 cup chopped nuts (pecans or walnuts work great)
1 1/2 cups shredded coconut (As I've mentioned before I use Baker's brand)
1 (14 oz) can sweetened condensed milk

Crush graham crackers into crumbs. Combine crumbs with melted butter until coated. Press crumb mixture evenly into the bottom of a 9x13 pan. Cover crust with chocolate and butterscotch chips, nuts and coconut. Drizzle the entire can of sweetened condensed milk evenly over the rest of the ingredients. Bake at 350 degrees for 25-30 minutes or until the edges turn golden brown. Allow to cool and set for about 30 min. before cutting and eating.

Sunday, March 18, 2012

Baked Macaroni and Cheese


My kids love macaroni like most kids do. So over the last year or so I've been trying different recipe for homemade macaroni and this is the one I like the best. It's from Taste of Homes again and it was a big hit with the kiddos! Give it a try with your kids and take a break from the blue box :)

Baked Macaroni and Cheese
4 cups uncooked pasta (Penne is pictured above)
1/4 cup butter, cubed
1/4 cup all-purpose flour
4 cups milk (the recipe calls for 2% but I've used all kinds)
1/2 tsp. salt
1/4 tsp. pepper
1/4 tsp. ground mustard
1/4 tsp. Worcestershire sauce
Dash ground nutmeg
2 cups shredded cheddar cheese
1 cup Velveeta

Cook pasta according to package directions. In a large saucepan, melt butter. Stir in flour until it make a smooth paste. Gradually add the milk. Stir in salt, pepper, mustard, Worcestershire, and nutmeg. Bring to a boil. Cook until thickened, stirring constantly. Stir in cheeses until melted.

Drain pasta; stir in cheese sauce. Transfer to a 9x13 in. casserole dish. Bake at 350 degrees, uncovered, for 20-25 minutes or until bubbly!

Friday, March 16, 2012

St. Patrick's Day Fun!



Here's a fun treat! A fruity rainbow complete with marshmallow clouds and chocolate treasure! It was very quick to put together and I could barely keep my 3 year old from eating it so that I could take a picture. My wonderful husband is sending me out for a girls weekend out of town with some friends...so I decided to make a few surprises that he could give to the kids for St. Patrick's Day tomorrow. But when you have 4 daughters rainbows can be a delicious snack any day of the year so I'm sure I'll be using this again! Have fun!

Fruity Rainbow Snack
1 carton strawberries (chopped)
4 clementine oranges (peeled and sectioned)
1 cup pineapple (I used canned but fresh would be delicious too!)
green grapes
1 small carton blueberries
red grapes
mini-marshmallows
Rolos candies (you can buy these in a bag or in the little candy bar rolls)

Arrange fruit in a rainbow. Strawberries on the outer rim of the plate and then follow the order of rainbow colors (oranges, pineapple, green grapes, blueberries, and then red grapes). Make a cloud (using the marshmallows) on one end of the rainbow and a pile of gold (using the Rolos) on the other. Watch your kids faces light up! Enjoy!

Wednesday, February 22, 2012

Baked Linguini with Meat Sauce


This is one of Alex's favorite meals. We have it every Valentine's day and it is pretty delicious. It's super dense and filling too though...so be prepared to have a ton of leftovers! It's kind of the same layering idea as lasagna. I would say that it's easier to make than Lasagna but uses just as many dishes to make it :)

My kids love this pasta too. It might just be because I serve it with asparagus...and given the choice between pasta and asparagus they go with the pasta! At any rate they gobble this up!

Baked Linguini
1 lb. linguini
1 lb. ground beef
1 (26 oz) can diced tomatoes (do not drain)
1 (8 oz) can tomato sauce
1 (6 oz) can tomato paste
2 cloves garlic (minced)
1 T. sugar
1 (8 oz) brick cream cheese
16 oz. sour cream
1/4 cup chopped green onion
2 cups shredded sharp cheddar

Boil linguini noodles according to package directions.

Meanwhile, cook beef and drain. Add tomato products, garlic and sugar to the meat. Bring to boil. Reduce heat to medium-low and simmer 10 minutes.

In a small bowl, combine cream cheese, sour cream, and green onion.

Drain pasta and place in the bottom of a 9x13 in. baking dish. Cover pasta with cream cheese mixture and then meat sauce. Bake at 400 degrees for 35 min. or until heated through. Top with cheddar and bake an additional 5 minutes. Let set for 5 minutes before serving.

Monday, February 20, 2012

Cheesy Corn Dip


Have you ever looked at the picture for a recipe and thought it was going to be delicious but then when you read the ingredients it was totally different than you thought? So I saw a recipe for corn dip in a magazine and cut it out with the intent to use it. But I was just going off the picture. By looking at the picture I assumed it had tomatoes and cheese in it. But then I realized it was really pimentos and barely any cheese. So then I decided that I would just make up a recipe that I thought encompassed the flavor I was imagining the picture to have :) So here's what I came up with! It's basically how I make queso and then I added some corn. Quick and easy! Enjoy!

Cheesy Corn Dip
1 can tomatoes with diced green chilies (do not drain) -I use Rotel
1 (16 oz.) brick of Velveeta (diced into 1 in. cubes)
1 can sweet corn with red and green bell peppers (drained)
1/4 cup flour

Cut up cheese and place in large saucepan. Add the whole can of tomatoes and chilies (do not drain). Melt cheese over medium heat until totally blended with tomatoes and chilies. Drain corn and add to the cheese mixture. Add flour and whisk into dip until smooth. Allow to thicken. Serve warm with tortilla chips. (I kept mine in a crockpot on warm for the entire party so that it didn't get to thick)

Saturday, February 18, 2012

Angel Food Cake Trifle

This is another delicious recipe from my friend Juli! She gave it to me a few years ago and I've used it several times for parties, holidays, etc. It serves a lot of people and it is super easy to put together. It's great in the summer because if you buy the angel food cake (which I always do) there is no baking involved. The original recipe called for just strawberries but I kind of combined it with another recipe I had and added some blueberries, bananas, and kiwis. My 3 year old helped me put this one together and she was super excited to tell everyone how fancy it was! Give it a try!

Juli's Angel Food Cake Trifle
1 large box vanilla pudding (prepared according to package directions)
1 angel food cake (cut into 1 inch cubes)
1 regular sized box raspberry jello
1 cup boiling water
1/2 carton strawberries sliced
2 kiwis chopped
1 banana sliced
1/2 cup blueberries
2-3 cups whipped cream (I prefer to make my own but cool whip would work too)

Prepare vanilla pudding according to package directions and refrigerate until set. Meanwhile, chop up angel food cake and fruits. Place chopped cake in the bottom of trifle bowl. Combine raspberry jello with 1 cup boiling water. Allow to cool slightly and pour half over cake. Arrange fruits on top of cake (reserving a few pieces for garnish). Pour the other half of the jello mixture over the fruit. Cover with prepared pudding and top with whipped cream. Arrange a few pieces of fruit on top as desired. Refrigerate at least 1 hour to let jello chill. Keep refrigerated until ready to serve.

Tuesday, February 14, 2012

Buttermilk Heart Pancakes

Happy Valentine's Day! I got this idea from pinterest. They had a big fancy recipe involving red velvet and buttermilk pancakes. I cheated and used food coloring. I'll explain that later. But first...a quick rant...what is the deal with red velvet? It's in like everything! Pancakes, cheesecake, muffins, cookies, etc. I'm just not a big red velvet fan and they keep tainting otherwise delicious things with it. Why now? Why the sudden craze? ...and we're back!

So, back to the recipe at hand. You can use any pancake recipe you want. I've included a recipe here since this is a recipe blog and all. Just divide the batter in half, dye one of the halves another color and then mix and match the hearts.

I loved this idea! Now I don't have to spend a bunch of time making pancakes into shapes. Just make regular circle pancakes using your favorite recipe and then cut the shape out that you want. Think of all the holidays you can cover using the same method :) Snowmen, easter bunny, turkeys, whatever! For birthdays you could cut out the child's age. So easy! Just promise that you will use this new found power for good!

Heart Pancakes
1 cup all purpose flour
1 T. sugar
1 tsp. baking powder
1/4 tsp. baking soda
1/4 tsp. salt
1 beaten egg
1 cup buttermilk
2 T. cooking oil

To make batter: Combine flour, sugar, baking powder and salt. Make a well in center of flour mixture and set aside. Combine egg, buttermilk and oil. Add egg mixture to flour mixture. Stir until just moistened (batter will be lumpy). Add additional buttermilk to thin batter, if desired.

To make heart pancakes: Divide batter in half and dye one of the halves your desired color. Cook pancakes over medium heat. Make sure to cook pancakes slowly so that they don't brown too much. Once pancakes are done cooking cut out hearts using a heart shaped cookie cutter. Mix and match colors to get the desired effect.

Thursday, February 9, 2012

3-ingredient Pumpkin Chocolate Chip Muffins


My sister gave me this recipe many years ago. It started out as a weight-watchers recipe but then I added chocolate chips so...you know... Anyway, they have 3 ingredients and are super easy! They are also very dense and moist. The pumpkin makes them much more filling than normal mini-muffins. I heard a funny joke about mini-muffins and how it's easy to just eat one or twelve. So true! Hopefully I'm not the only one who can accidently eat like 10 mini-muffins before I even notice whats going on.

Anyway, I made these for a church function a while back and forgot to post about it. Better late than never...

Mini Pumpkin Chocolate Chip Muffins
1 box cake mix (I like to use spice cake but chocolate and yellow cake mixes work well too)
1 (15oz) can pumpkin (not the pie mix)
1 cup mini chocolate chips (optional)

Mix all ingredients together until moistened and smooth. Fill mini-muffin pan with batter. Bake at 350 degrees. For timing use the cupcake directions on the back of the cake mix. Yields between 3-4 dozen muffins. Enjoy!

Wednesday, February 8, 2012

Guiltless Alfredo Sauce and Bacon Artichoke Penne Bake


Well, since I've kept you waiting for a new post for such a long time...I'm going to do 2 posts today! Bonus!

Not only that but my first post is really two recipes! My sister-in-law sent me a new cookbook for Christmas. This cookbook features recipes from the website: Our Best Bites. While I haven't checked out their website yet, I plan to do that soon based on the yummy recipes we've sampled from their cookbook! Click on Our Best Bites to check it out!

My husband loves Alfredo! I do too but feel pretty guilty about the giant calorie intake associated with it's deliciousness. So when I found this Guiltless Alfredo Sauce recipe in their book I had to give it a try. And while it's not totally guiltless (It still has a bunch of delicious parmesan) it is significantly better than regular Alfredo recipes. Subbing low-fat milk for cream and reducing the butter significantly make this recipe great!

I've made the sauce twice now, once we just had it over noodles and once I used it in their Bacon Artichoke with Penne Bake. Both were delicious! In the penne bake I considered putting spinach in. I still think it would be yummy but decided that having artichokes and spinach in the same dish might send my family over the edge. It was a good thing I decided against it too...because even though I chopped the artichokes into tiny little pieces my husband still spent the night picking them out of his pasta. Even though I love artichokes, I tried this recipe again subbing 1 1/2 cups peas for the artichokes and my husband and kids were thrilled with the change so I will probably do that from now on. Anyway, without further ado, I give you Guiltless Alfredo Sauce and Bacon Artichoke with Penne Bake courtesy of Our Best Bites!

Guiltless Alfredo Sauce (from Our Best Bites)
2 cups low-fat milk (I used skim and it worked fine)
1/3 cup (3 ounces) low-fat cream cheese
2 tablespoons flour
1 teaspoon kosher salt
1 T. butter
3 garlic cloves, minced
1 cup freshly grated Parmesan cheese (I had leftover shredded Parmesan and it melted down fine)

Blend milk, cream cheese, flour and salt in a blender until smooth. In a large saucepan, melt butter over medium heat and add garlic. Saute garlic 30 seconds, stirring constantly. Add milk mixture to the pan and stir constantly until it comes to a simmer (about 5 minutes). Keep stirring until sauce thickens (about 7 more minutes). Remove sauce from heat and whisk in Parmesan. Cover immediately and let sit 10 minutes. Serve immediately in your favorite pasta dish.

Bacon Artichoke Penne Bake (also from Our Best Bites)
8 ounces penne or farfalle pasta
1 recipe Guiltless Alfredo Sauce
2 Chicken breasts, grilled and chopped (I used pre-grilled chicken strips I had from Sam's Club)
6 ounces cooked bacon, chopped
1 (14 oz.) jar artichoke hearts (they suggest using marinated but I just used plain. Also, you can substitute peas for picky eaters...aka...husbands!)
1/2 cup chopped green onion (I used more like 1/4 cup)
1 cup shredded mozzarella, divided
salt and pepper, to taste

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Prepare pasta according to package directions. Meanwhile, prepare guiltless Alfredo. Drain pasta and toss with sauce and remaining ingredients (setting aside 1/2 cup Mozzarella for later). Season to taste. Place pasta mixture in an 8x8 dish and sprinkle with remaining cheese. Cover and bake for 20 minutes or until hot and bubbly!




Saturday, January 14, 2012

How To Make an Ice Ring or Wreath in a Bundt Pan


This was something else that we put together for the church activity the other night. I know it is kind of funny to have a water or ice recipe but it tasted very yummy and looked cool! So maybe this is more of a "how to" than a "recipe" post.

Refreshing Lemon Cucumber Water
My friend Jenny found this drink online. She finds great recipes and you can check out her blog at whatisonyourmenu.com. To make the water, thinly slice a lemon and a cucumber and place it in cold drinking water. Refrigerate. Giving it a little extra time in the refrigerator will allow the water to absorb some of the lemon cucumber flavor. Add ice and enjoy! I had never had cucumber in my water before but it was really yummy and went great with the slight lemon flavor. Instead of cubed ice we added an ice ring for a garnish.

Fruited Ice Ring
I have seen these before at weddings and whatnot but had never made one myself. Not only was it easy and cute...but it's a great way to save your ice maker from having to recover from a party (something our ice maker never does very well!). Here are some easy steps to make an ice wreath for you punch bowl.

1) Decide what kind of drink you will be making
2) Choose fruit that you think will look pretty in your ring and also won't change the flavor of your drink once it melts. (For example we were making lemon/cucumber water so I used lemons and cucumber in mine and garnished it with pomegranate to give it a brighter color)
Other ideas of pretty fruit: Oranges, limes, grapes, cranberries, melon, etc.)
3) Fill your bundt pan to desired thickness with fresh fruit.
4) Cover fruit with a portion of whatever drink you are using. Be careful not to fill your pan above the fruit level or your fruit will all float. Using the same drink to make your ice means that it won't dilute your punch as it melts. If you are using your ring in water then you can just use water to make the ice.
5) Place pan in a level spot in your freezer until it is frozen solid.
6) When ready to use remove from freezer and remove ice from pan. (Mine slid right out of the pan but you may need to run it under warm water to get it to release)

Friday, January 13, 2012

Veggie "Pizza" Snack



I guess it's "things to do with crescent roll dough" week here at neighborjulia! My friend and I did refreshments for a church activity this week and I promised to put the recipes up on my blog! So here is the first one! This is a quick appetizer that I make all the time. I actually use it as a side dish and my kiddos gobble it up! It's kind of a tricky way to get your kids to eat salad. I don't know about others...but my kids are not huge lettuce eaters so they usually end up just eating the toppings out of it. This recipe is great because it is ONLY toppings. Tomatoes, bell pepper, cucumber...yum!

There's lots of different sauces you can use too. I used low fat sour cream mixed with a little ranch dressing for mine. An even healthier option is to use plain yogurt to make a low fat veggie dip and spread that on. I went to an activity once where a sister made it with spinach dip and it was delicious. Caeser dressing is also great. If you don't want to make something, there is a large varieties of veggie dips at the store that would work great. You can probably find them in the produce section or in the refrigerated section by the sour cream. Just play around with it and see what your family likes!

Veggie "Pizza" Snack
2 cans crescent rolls (or make your own. Click here for Butterhorns recipe)
1 cup your choice of veggie dip (see above for ideas)
3 carrots- shredded (apx. 1 cup)
1 cucumber- chopped
2 roma tomatoes- chopped
1 large yellow bell pepper- chopped

Roll out crescent roll dough on a large jelly roll pan. Pinch dough together to form a large rectangular crust. Bake according to package directions (apx. 350 degrees for 12-16 minutes) or until golden brown. Remove from oven and allow to cool for about 10 minutes. Meanwhile shred carrots and chop up your other veggies. Spread cooled crust with desired amount of dip. Top with 2/3 of the shredded carrots. Top with you other veggies and garnish with the remaining shredded carrots. Refrigerate until ready to eat!

Saturday, January 7, 2012

Quick Jalapeno Poppers


My husband loves jalapeno poppers. And while I know how to make them...I usually just end up buying frozen ones from the store to save time. So when I saw these cheater poppers on Pinterest I had to give them a try! I have to admit that I never actually read the recipe. I just saw the picture and put it together myself. So they might have some better ideas on there. This is just what I tried. We had them for New Year's eve and I will definitely be making them again. They were very quick to make and were a big hit! Give them a try!


Quick Jalapeno Poppers
8 oz. cream cheese
2 packs crescent rolls (Or make your own dough Here's my recipe: Butterhorns)
2 to 3 fresh jalapenos (I only used to 2 but next time I would probably do 3 so that they were a littler hotter)
6 pieces cooked bacon (I used the precooked kind that you can microwave)

Cook bacon and crumble. Remove seeds from jalapenos and chop into bite sized pieces. Seperate dough into triangles. In the middle of each triangle place a dollop of cream cheese, 2 pieces of jalapeno, and part of the crumbled bacon. Fold all three triangle into the center and pinch edges closed. (I kind of rolled it like I was making a crescent roll and then pinched the other corners in. Basically you can form it however you want...just make sure it's totally closed so the filling doesn't bake out) Bake at 350 for 15-20 minutes.