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
Ingredients:
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
1 cup water (or more as needed)

Toppings (optional):
cheese
sour cream
crushed tortilla chips

Instructions:
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.

Or...
Freezer Meal Instructions:
Brown ground beef and onion together until meat is cooked through and onion is tender.  Cool slightly and place in a gallon sized freezer bag.  Add all remaining ingredients to bag.  Seal and label.

When ready to serve, place in crockpot with an additional cup of water and cook on low for 4-6 hours or until heated through. Or thaw, place in a stock pot with additional cup of water on the stove and cook until heated through.  Top with cheese, sour cream and crushed tortilla 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. 


Freezer Meal Prep and Cooking Instructions:
Place roast in a gallon sized freezer bag.  Substitute 2 tsp. boullion for beef broth.  Add a bouillion and all other ingredients to bag with roast.  Massage slightly to combine ingredients. Freeze.

When ready to serve- Place in crock pot. Heat on low for 8-10 hours or until meat is cooked through.  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 T. lemon juice (only if using fresh fruit)

Topping:
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

1) Peel and slice fresh fruit or thaw frozen fruit.  Place in the bottom of a 9x13 in. baking dish.  Sprinkle with granulated sugar and lemon juice (if needed).

2) 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.

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




Freezer Meal Prep Instructions:
Follow steps 1 and 2 above making sure to use a freezer friendly 9x13 dish (I use the disposable kind).  Cover with 2 layers of foil. Label and freeze.

When ready to serve:
Let thaw in refrigerator overnight, uncover and bake using instructions above.  OR...to bake from frozen: tent foil over pan, increase cook time to 65 minutes or until fruit is tender and the top golden brown. 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 (Freezer friendly!)

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



Instructions: 
1) Brown the ground beef in a medium saucepan until completely cooked
      2) beef with all remaining ingredients (except for tater tots).  Place beef mixture evenly in a 9x13 pan. 
3) Top with tater tots.   
4) bake in a 375 degree oven for 35-45 minutes or until sauce is heated through and tater tots are brown and crispy.


Freezer Meal Instructions:

Follow steps 1-3 above.  Cover pan with two layers of tinfoil and freeze. 

To heat after frozen: Tent foil cover over pan.  Bake at 375 for 1 hr. Remove foil and continue baking for 20-30 minutes or until casserole is heated through and tater tots are brown and crispy.