Monday, October 9, 2017

Chicken Noodle Soup (In the crock pot)

It's getting cold outside and I love it!! Fall is my favorite! And this is my favorite chicken noodle soup recipe.  It's super quick to throw together and it cooks in a crock pot- making the house smell delicious. I love to make it with homemade egg noodles but it's also delicious with store bought noodles.  I've also updated the recipe with the freezer meal instructions I used in my freezer meal workshop last month! Combine all the ingredients in a crock pot for a yummy meal today or combine them all in a freezer bag and cook it on a busy day in the future!  Enjoy!

Chicken Noodle Soup
3 chicken breasts
5 large carrots (peeled and chopped)
3 celery stalks (chopped)
½ sweet onion (chopped)
6 tsp. chicken bouillion
½ cup butter
2.5 tsp. minced garlic
½ tsp. dried thyme
½ tsp. sage
1 T. Parsley
6 cups water (if freezing only use 1 cup water and add the rest when ready to cook)
3 cups prepared egg noodles (use store bought or my favorite homemade recipe from mel's kitchen cafe)

Regular Prep Instructions:
Place all ingredients (other than egg noodles) in a large crock pot.  Cook on low for 7-8 hours or until chicken is cooked through and veggies are tender.  

Take chicken out of crock pot and shred, then return to soup. 

Cook noodles according to package or recipe instructions and add to soup.  Enjoy!

Freezer Meal Prep Instructions:
Combine all ingredients (only use 1 cup of the water, and exclude the noodles) in a gallon sized freezer bag. Label and freeze.

When ready to serve- place in crock pot with the other 5 cups of water (and 1 bay leaf if desired). Cook on low for 9-10 hours if frozen, or 7-8 hours if thawed or until chicken is cooked through and vegetables are tender. 

Take chicken out of crock pot and shred, then return to soup.

If adding noodles:
Boil egg noodles in water according to directions in recipe and add to soup OR pour soup into a large stock pot and bring to a boil on the stove. Boil noodles in soup according to the noodle recipe and serve!

Wednesday, September 27, 2017

Do It Yourself Children's Chore Charts

With five kids we have a lot to clean up around here and now that four of those kids are old enough to help we're getting more organized about our routines!  Before I had kids I used to envision family Saturday mornings where we got up and all did our chores together while we rock out to some Journey or U2. Even though we've done that on occasion it hasn't really been enough to keep our house put together.  The kids are bigger now and their mess is bigger and pretty much every room needs to be cleaned every day.  I'm not sure how old my kids will be before they figure out that the easiest way to clean is to not make a giant mess in the first place...maybe age 25/26? ;) Plus their are every day chores and tasks that need to be done like making beds, homework, music practice, etc.

I've gone through a few different variations of chore charts (mostly found on Pinterest) and they've all either been to complicated for my kids, or didn't keep them motivated, or end up being more work for me to keep updated than the kids. So this time I kind of picked what I liked and what I didn't like about the others and tried to simplify it down as best I could.  And here is what I finally landed on.

We've been using these for about a month now and the girls all love them! Every morning I put out which chores they need to do on the To Do side and once they finish them they move them to the Done side. Every night if they've moved all their chores to the Done side they get to move their little picture on the bottom over a spot toward their payday!  Once they get 7 days of doing chores they get their allowance.  I know some people have their kids do 7 consecutive days but I'm trying to keep my kids motivated so if they miss a day I don't make them start over, they just don't get to move.  So they might clean 4 days in a row, miss a day, clean 3 more days and still get their money.

I cut vinyl lettering but you could also just use a permanent marker for all the labeling. All of the chores are magnetic so they store easily on the back of the sheet. I tried to think of every possible chore in our house but since the chore cards are laminated you could always make a blank card or two to write in any extra chores that pop up.

Our tasks list includes:
Get dressed/brush hair
brush teeth
make bed
clean up bedroom floor
pack lunch
put away backpack/coat/shoes
set/clear table
clean up living room
clean up family room
load/unload dishwasher
clean up toy room
yard work
trash duty
watch baby brother
clean bathroom sink and mirror
clean bathroom toilet and floor
pick up stairs/hallways
put away laundry
instrument practice
wash table and kitchen counters

I was originally going to do the older girls with just words but they wanted the pictures like the younger girls. I'm working on attaching the printable but until then you can email me and I'll send you the page. Below is the list of supplies you'll need to make your own.  Hope it helps your family like it has mine!

Kid's Chore Chart

Supplies Needed
-Large cookie sheet (if you can find one that isn't nonstick that's the best but nonstick works fine too)
-Decorative duct tape (I bought sparkly Duck brand)
-Decorative ribbon
-Vinyl stickers (child's name, to do, done, 6 dots and a money symbol)
- Printable chore cards (Link coming Soon! request at
-1 sheet of Magnifique magnet squares or some type of magnet
-laminator sheets
-Small 1 in. by 1 in. picture of your child

drill (that can drill through metal)
scissors or paper cutter
sillhouette or vinyl cutter (if you're making your own stickers)

Drill two holes horizontally about 1 1/2 inches apart in top of cookie sheet. Cut 8 inches of ribbon and loop it through the holes.  Tie it together in a bow to make a hanger.

Place two pieces of decorative tape straight across the sheet about 3 inches from the top and the bottom of the cookie sheet.  Place a third piece perpendicular to the other pieces of tape splitting the middle box in half.  In the top box place the child's name sticker. In the bottom box make a trail using the dot stickers and the money symbol sticker.  Put the to do sticker in the left box and the done sticker in the right.  See the picture above to help follow these directions.

Print out the chore cards and cut on the lines.  Laminate. Attach a magnet to the back of each chore card.  Print out a 1 in. by 1 in. picture of your child and laminate that as well.  Attach a magnet on the back of that and place it on the money path at the bottom of the chore chart. Now you're ready to start having your kids clean up!! Enjoy!

Thursday, September 7, 2017

Banana Cake

Maybe it's because I've had tons of cake orders lately or that I'm back in training for a race and cut down my sugar intake but I've got cake on the brain! After a couple months of mostly healthy posts now I'm hitting you with two delicious cake recipes in the last few weeks. If you missed the first one- Chocolate Mug Cake in the Microwave- you might want to check it out too.

Over the summer my girls each took a few turns making dinner and of course they wanted to make dessert too!  Mayzie decided to make one of our favorites. Banana cake!  It's so quick and moist and delicious with a little cream cheese frosting. I make it in a 9x13 pan for our family but it also doubles easily and fits in a large sheet pan for gatherings. The next time you find yourself with some old bananas that need used up give this one a try.

Banana Cake
1 1/3 cups sugar
1/4 cup butter, room temp
1 cup sour cream
2 large eggs
1 1/2 cups mashed bananas (I use over-ripe to give it more flavor)
2 tsp. vanilla (real vanilla people!)
2 cups flour
1 tsp. baking soda
dash of salt

1/3 cup butter, softened
1/4 cup cream cheese
3 cups powdered sugar
1/3 cup heavy cream
1 tsp. vanilla

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

For the cake- use a stand mixer to cream together the sugar and butter. Mix in sour cream and eggs (one by one). Scrape the side of the bowl to make sure everything gets combine well.  Add banana and vanilla. Add remaining cake ingredients slowly and mix together until incorporated.

Bake in a 9x13 baking dish for 34-35 minutes or until a toothpick can be inserted into the center and come out clean.  You can also check for doneness by pressing in the middle and seeing if the cake springs back.  When it does it finished.

Meanwhile make frosting by combining all the frosting ingredients until whipped and creamy.  Set aside.

Cool cake completely and frost. If desired, serve it topped with fresh bananas. Enjoy!

Sunday, August 27, 2017

Smoothie Freezer Pack and Some Favorite Smoothie recipes!

 While not an awesome picture these smoothie packs are pretty awesome!  We did these for the last freezer meal night at my daughter Emeline's request. The part I liked best was the frozen yogurt cubes! Then it all gets portioned out and put in a freezer instead of keeping a giant carton in the fridge. For the packs in the picture we did spinach, banana, berries and greek yogurt but they are super adaptable and you can make them just like you want.  Just add them to a blender with a cup of liquid and you're set to go! Give them a try and save yourself some time on busy mornings!

Smoothie Packs (7 servings)

1 (32 oz.) container vanilla greek yogurt (or regular vanilla yogurt)
7 cups spinach
7 bananas (chopped)
7 cups mixed berries (I used frozen blueberries, blackberries, raspberries, and strawberries) (Also see other fruit ideas below!)

Other Supplies needed:
7 quart sized freezer bags
1 ice cube tray (with at least 14 compartments)

Prep Directions:
Spoon yogurt into ice cube tray and place in freezer.  Freeze for at least six hours or until solid.

When yogurt is frozen remove from trays and place two cubes in each of the 7 freezer bags.  Add 1 cup spinach, 1 banana, and 1 cup of fruit to each bag.  Seal well, making sure to release any extra air and freeze.

Serving Directions:
When ready to serve place contents of 1 smoothie pack in a blender with 1 cup liquid (coconut/almond/cows milk, fruit juice, or even water).

For a thicker smoothie add 1/2 cup of ice or another frozen yogurt pack.  For a thinner smoothie add extra liquid. Add some protein powder to pack in some extra energy!

Smoothie Variations (Use the following variations along with the measurements above to make your own unique packs)

Peach Perfection:
Omit the spinach and use peaches in place of the berries in the smoothie packs.  Add coconut milk and ice when you blend it.

Chocolate Banana Strawberry:
Use all strawberries in place of the mixed berries in the smoothie packs.  Add 1 scoop chocolate protein powder with the liquid when you blend it.

Peanut Butter and Jelly
Add 2 T. all natural peanut butter to your smoothie pack.  Add 1/4 cup extra liquid and/or ice when you blend it. Use almond milk for extra nuttiness!

Pina Colada
Use coconut greek yogurt in place of the vanilla yogurt.  Use pineapple in place of the mixed berries (or do half pineapple and half strawberries).  When ready to serve use coconut milk for the liquid.

Raspberry Peach:
Omit the spinach.  Use 1/2 raspberries and 1/2 peaches in place of the mixed berries in the smoothie packs.  When blending use 1/2 cup almond milk and 1/2 cup orange juice for the liquid and add 1/2 cup ice.

Friday, August 18, 2017

Molten Lava Mug Cake (in the microwave)

That's right, cake in a microwave!  I found this recipe a couple years ago on and with a few tweaks it has been my go to for a quick dessert.  You can check out the original on her website too because her pictures are gorgeous and her site name is hilarious.

The original recipe says for one but this makes a pretty big bowls worth so we usually split it between us. It takes about 5 minutes to throw together and even less to cook.  Also, it doesn't leave you with an entire cake to slowly eat the rest of the week so it's only one night of bad eating choices ;)

Molten Lava Mug Cake (2 servings)
1/4 cup flour
1/4 cup sugar
2 T. unsweetened cocoa powder
1/2 tsp. baking powder
pinch of salt
3 T. butter (melted)
3 T. whole milk
1 egg (small is good here)
1 tsp. vanilla
1/4 cup semisweet chocolate chips*
1 T. water

In a large (microwave safe) cereal bowl combine flour, sugar, cocoa, baking powder and salt.  In another bowl melt butter.  To the melted butter add milk, egg, and vanilla.  Whisk to combine.  Add to dry ingredients and stir until combined.  Place chocolate chips on top of batter in a clump in the middle (you don't need to push them down in, they'll take care of that themselves during baking).  Sprinkle tablespoon of water over top of the batter and chocolate.

Bake in the microwave on full power for 1 min. 35 seconds (up to 2 minutes depending on microwave) or until cake is set but not dried out.  (You don't want to over bake it or you won't get your molten core!) If still not cooked through keep baking at 5 second intervals until done.

*For a nutty twist you can sub 2 T. peanut butter instead of the chocolate chips.  Push it down into the batter slightly.This gives you a nice peanut butter lava instead of chocolate.  It's pretty much Alex's favorite this way!

Monday, August 14, 2017

New features!

I've been making a few subtle changes to my blog lately that I wanted to point out to people!

Image result for freezer pic
1) I've added a new tab at the top of the page for freezer meal workshops.  A few months ago a couple friends and I started a group in Los Alamos where people pay to come and cook for 2 hours a month and leave with a weeks worth of dinners! In doing that I've really started to collect and adjust recipes to make them work for the freezer and wanted to share!  I'm still working on getting pictures attached to all of them and making them just perfect but in the meantime you can at least see the recipes and get your freeze on!  If you're local you can also get more information about attending freezer meal workshops in the future.  Just click on the tab that says freezer meal workshops and recipes! Happy Cooking!

Image result for thinking picture
2) In the past I've periodically written essays and other non-recipe/homemaking type posts on neighborjulia. I've recently made a new goal to write something meaningful every day but I also realize I have a lot of readers from my local community using neighborjulia recipes that may not want to know everything there is to know about me!

For these reasons I've decided to take all those types of posts off this blog and move them to a new one! However, I couldn't move the comments so feel free to read through them and comment again! I will be posting political essays, book reviews, religious conversations, poetry, weightloss/fitness tracking and more on my new blog: Semi-Deep Thoughts by Neighborjulia. So if you're interested in any of that you can check them out there and if you're just in it for the food you can stick with neighborjulia and not have to hear all my ramblings ;) A link to my semi-deep thoughts blog can be found on the sidebar also! Happy reading!

Monday, August 7, 2017

Salisbury Steaks with Homemade Brown Gravy

This is a meal we had a lot growing up.  I loved it as a kid and now I love it as an adult because my kids will eat it too!  It's quick and hearty and I usually have most of the ingredients on hand.  We always called them juicy hamburgers growing up but I've since learned they are also called Salisbury steaks. You can call them whichever you prefer- I suppose more people will know what you're talking about if you call them the latter though. ;) Give them a try!

Salisbury Steaks (makes 8)
2.5 lbs. ground beef
2 T. Worcestshire sauce
2 tsp. seasoned salt
pepper to taste
1 recipe brown gravy (below)
parsley (for garnish)

Combine ground beef with 2 T. worcestshire, seasoned salt and pepper.  Form into 8 patties and place inside a large skillet.  Cook beef until no longer pink but still tender.  While patties are cooking begin making gravy. When patties are done cooking, pour gravy over patties and continue to cook until gravy is thickened.

Brown Gravy
1/2 cup butter
1/2 cup flour
1/2 tsp. minced garlic
4 cups beef broth or stock
1/4 cup ketchup
1 tsp. dijon mustard
1 T. Worcesteshire

To make gravy- In a medium saucepan melt butter. Add flour and cook over medium heat, stirring frequently, until butter/flour mixture is golden brown. Add garlic and continue cooking for 1 minute or until fragrant. Whisk in remaining ingredients until well combined.  Bring to a boil, stirring occasionally (making sure to scrape bottoms and sides of pan). If adding to cooked salisbury steaks go ahead and pour gravy over top of them now, otherwise leave gravy in saucepan. Whether in the skillet or saucepan- Simmer for 15 min, over medium-low heat, stirring occasionally, until reduced and thickened.

Tuesday, June 27, 2017

Thai Peanut Pasta

This was a delicious pinterest find! Plus I bought already prepped veggies in the produce section which made this meal super quick to pull together! My kiddos loved it and so did Alex and I.  I may have tricked them into trying it by telling them there was a secret ingredient (peanut butter) and whoever figured out what it was could have a popsicle for dessert.  I might have to start doing that with more dinners because they all cleaned their plates! I like to believe that also had something to do with the food being good ;)  Anyway, give it a try!

Thai Peanut Pasta
3 chicken breasts (grilled and thinly sliced)
1 lb. thin spaghetti
1/4 cup sesame oil (divided)
1 cup shredded carrots (I bought a bag of already shredded carrots)
2 cups shredded cabbage (I bought a bag of cole slaw mix)
1/2 bunch green onions (chopped)
3 tsp. minced garlic
1 T. fresh ginger (peeled and minced)
1/4 cup honey
1/4 cup soy sauce
1/4 cup chunky peanut butter
3 T. rice vinegar
2 T. siracha
fresh cilantro (optional)
chopped peanuts  (optional)

Grill chicken until cooked through.  Remove from heat and let set for 5 min. before slicing thinly.

Meanwhile, in a large pot bring water to a boil and cook pasta until al dente (you don't want it mushy!). Drain pasta, toss with sesame oil, and set aside.

Add remaining oil to the bottom of the pot and saute green onion, carrots and cabbage until slightly softened (it doesn't take long). Then add chicken, garlic and ginger and continue cooking for 1 min.

Add remaining sauce ingredients to pot and stir to combine. Place noodles back in the pot and toss all ingredients together.

Top with fresh cilantro and/or chopped peanuts if desired. Enjoy!

Monday, June 26, 2017

Caprese Salad

I love summer! I love that you can just chop up fresh ingredients and call it a meal. Have this salad with some grilled chicken and maybe some watermelon and you're good to go. You'll look super fancy and you'll still have time to read a book or something after you make dinner!

It's so fast to make and you can change it to fit your tastes/needs.  You can make your own balsamic drizzle like I have below or make this recipe even easier by buying some pre-made at the store. I've found it in the oils and vinegars section.  You can marinate the tomatoes in balsamic vinegar for an extra punch or add a little ground pepper at the end.  Enjoy!

Caprese Salad
16 oz. fresh mozzarella (I get mine at the Murray cheese counter in Smith's)
4 larger roma tomatoes (you want them to be firm)
1/4 cup chopped fresh basil (more if you like!)
balsamic drizzle (recipe below or buy a pre-made drizzle)
salt and pepper to taste

Balsamic Drizzle:
1/2 cup firmly packed brown sugar
1/2 cup balsamic vinegar
1 T. corn starch

Combine all drizzle ingredients in a large saucepan and bring to a boil.  Reduce heat to med low and allow to thicken.  When sauce is reduced to desired thickness remove from heat and allow to cool.

Meanwhile, slice mozzarella and roma tomatoes into 1/4 in. thick slices and arrange on plate alternating between cheese and tomato.  Sprinkle chopped basil on top.  Drizzle cooled balsamic glaze over salad.  Top with salt and pepper if desired.

Friday, June 16, 2017

Mexican Street Corn

So I've never actually had Mexican street corn before but it's all over pinterest these day and so I decided to give it a whirl.  I've seen tons of different recipes for mexican street corn salad, steak, kabobs, etc. etc. etc.  So I decided to just try a straight up corn on the cob recipe and boy did it pay off. Not only is it delicious it looks fantastic in pictures! No wonder the internet is obsessed.  It's a food bloggers favorite kind of recipe!

For as much as it was all over the internet, no two recipes were alike so I just borrowed what I like from each of them and made my own up. I liked that a lot of the spice comes from topping it with chile powder at the end so my kids were able to adjust the heat to their own preferences.  And it was a nice change from just drowning the corn in butter.  Test it out for yourself!

Mexican Street Corn
8 whole cobs of corn (husk and silk removed)
1/4 cup sour cream
1/4 cup mayo (I used bestfoods olive oil mayo)
1/2 cup grated cotija cheese (plus more for sprinkling on top)
1 tsp. chili powder (plus more for sprinkling on top)
1 T. minced garlic
1/4 cup chopped cilantro
juice from 1/2 a lime

After removing husks from corn, place corn on a preheated grill and cook for about 8 min. over medium heat.  Then flip and cook another 9 minutes or until corn is soft but not dried out.  It's okay if some of the corn chars up a bit. 

Meanwhile, combine all remaining ingredients in a small bowl and set aside.

When corn is done- remove from grill and brush each piece all over with sour cream/cheese mixture. Sprinkle with extra cotija cheese and chili powder.  Eat warm!

Thursday, June 15, 2017

Salmon Tacos with Cilantro-Lime Yogurt Sauce

I love cooking in the summer! You can pretty much just buy meat, veggies and fruit and you've got yourself a summer meal!  Plus I love that my husband likes to grill so I get to cook with him for a few months each year.  This was our first week in a while where I didn't have a million things going on at night so I finally planned out a whole weeks menu and have stuck to it (for the most part- nobody's perfect!).  We started off with some salmon tacos.  My girls and I love salmon but the boys are not that big of fans.  The taco is the only way my husband will eat salmon on account of it has so many others toppings he can drown out the salmon taste.  I love to pile it high in salmon and garnish it with the other toppings. So whether you love salmon or loathe it this recipe might by for you!

Salmon Tacos w/ Cilantro Lime Yogurt Sauce

2 lbs. salmon
2 T. chile powder
1 tsp. garlic powder
1 tsp. cumin
1 lime- slice in 1/4 in. slices

1 cup shredded cabbage (I used cole slaw mix-no sauce)
Sliced avocado
Fresh pico de gallo (or for a delicious sweet twist use a mango peach salsa!)
1 can black beans (drained and rinsed)
15-20 corn tortillas
1 recipe cilantro lime yogurt sauce (below)

Cilantro Lime Yogurt Sauce:
1 cup plain greek yogurt
1 avocado
1/2 bunch cilantro
2 T. minced garlic
Juice from 1/2 lime

For salmon- place skin side down on a large sheet of heavy duty foil.  Combine spices and rub on top of salmon evenly.  Place lime slices down the top of the salmon.  Wrap foil up and over any thinner parts of the salmon.  Place on preheated grill and cook over medium heat for about 45 min.  Open foil about 15 minutes before you are ready to remove it from the grill.  Salmon is done when pink and flaky.

While salmon is cooking prepare your other toppings including the cilantro yogurt sauce. For the sauce combine all sauce ingredients in a blender until smooth.  Keep chilled until ready to serve.

To assemble taco- place salmon on a corn tortilla and top with yogurt sauce and whichever toppings you prefer.  Enjoy!

Friday, March 10, 2017

Homemade Peanut Butter Bars

Well, this is my last queued post for the week so I thought I'd end on a sweet note! My ten year old actually found this recipe for us!  She was having a daddy daughter activity at church and they were supposed to bring a treat their dad loved.  For my husband that is Reeses peanut butter cups! So my daughter decided to try her hand at making homemade cups and ended up with a hit! With a little more effort you can make these look like actual cups but they are just as tasty in bar form. Give them a try!

Homemade Peanut Butter Bars
2 cups graham cracker crumbs (finely ground)
2 cups powdered sugar
1 cup butter, melted
1 cup plus 4 tablespoons peanut butter
1 1/2 cups semi-sweet chocolate chips

In a large bowl place graham cracker crumbs, powdered sugar, melted butter and one cup of the peanut butter.  Mix well.  Press peanut butter mixture into bottom of a well greased 9x13 pan.  In a medium microwave safe bowl combine the remaining 4 T. of peanut butter with the chocolate chips.  Melt in microwave for about 1.5 minutes (stirring every 30 seconds).  Carefully spread chocolate mixture on top of peanut butter mixture.  Place tray in refrigerator and allow to cool for 1 hour. 

At this point cut the bars evenly into snack sized squares (this prevents the chocolate from breaking off when you cut them later).  Continue to refrigerate for another 1-2 hours or until set. Re-cut bars and serve!

Thursday, March 9, 2017

Homemade Breakfast Sandwiches

When my kids start school again it's always a shock to their system.  A full day of school can be a lot for a kindergartner, or a second grader, or a 4th grader who weighs about 15 lbs.  So I wanted to start loading them up with more protein each morning!  For awhile I tried in vain to get up early enough to cook a nice meal each morning but it turned out my kids and my husband would really prefer cold cereal to a big breakfast that early.  And then I had a baby and making breakfast each morning slowly faded away.  So how can I pack some protein into their diet without having to make a big breakfast?

Enter: The breakfast sandwich!  For awhile I was using the Jimmy Dean delights but I could only get a good price on them at Sam's (which is an hour away) and so we didn't always have them.  So finally I decided to make some of my own and save a little $$.  And save $$ it did.  Plus in about an hour I made a huge freezer stockpile of these bad boys and I could customize them exactly to what my kids would eat.  No cheese for one, sausage for some, ham for some, etc.  It has been great!  I also do this with breakfast burritos and will have to post the recipe for that sometime.  Give it a try and save yourself some time in the morning!

Homemade Breakfast Sandwiches
12 eggs
12 English muffins, toasted
12 turkey sausage patties, cooked (pork sausage, ham or bacon work here too)
12 slices cheddar cheese (thin sliced)
salt and pepper to taste

Thoroughly grease a 12 slot muffin tin.  Crack one egg in each cup and sprinkle with salt and pepper. Bake eggs at 350 degrees for 16-20 minutes.  (We like our yolks a little runny still so I do about 16 min., but keep an eye on them and bake until you get the texture you want!)

Meanwhile, toast English muffins and cook sausage patties.  When eggs are done cooking build sandwiches by placing one egg, sausage, and slice of cheese between two english muffin halves.

Double wrap sandwiches in plastic wrap and label with a permanent marker.  (If your planning on making these a lot it can be helpful to write a date made on them so that you use them in the right order). Place them in the freezer.

When ready to re-heat.  Unwrap the sandwich from the plastic wrap and wrap it in a paper towel. Microwave for 1.5 minutes on 50% power.  Unwrap completely and flip sandwich over.  Heat for an additional minute at regular power or until meat is heated through.  Enjoy!

Wednesday, March 8, 2017

One hour Dinner Rolls

Well today is the day! For the past 6 years every time I make this recipe (and I make it a lot) I have to look it up in an old facebook conversation with my friend Rachel.  But today, I'm adding it to my blog so that I will be able to easily access it any time I want! Oh yeah, and I guess the rest of you can use it too!

I call these Jon's 1-hr. rolls because this recipe comes from my childhood neighbors (who are all excellent cooks). They are fluffy and delicious and super easy to throw together. The only change I've made to these is to substitute melted butter for the oil.  But know that either way works great.

They take one hour from start to finish (including baking!).  I often get them all ready except for baking and freeze them at that point.  Then when I'm ready for rolls I just pull them out of the freezer, let them rise until doubled and we're off to the races.  It's also a great recipe for kids to learn.  My eight year old loves to make bread with me and now she does these all on her own!

Jon's 1-Hour Dinner Rolls
1 3/4 cup warm water 
2 T. yeast 
1/3 cup plus 1 T. sugar
1/2 cup butter, melted
2 eggs*
1/2 T. salt 
5 - 6 cups flour 

Bloom yeast in warm water with 1 T. sugar sprinkled on top for about 5 min. Add remaining sugar, butter, eggs and salt and stir until incorporated.  Add flour one cup at a time and form dough in ball.  Place dough in greased bowl (I usually just use the bowl from my stand mixer) Let rest in warm place for 10- 15 min.

Divide dough in half.  Place first half of dough on a lightly floured non-stick surface and roll into a 12 in. circle.  Using a pizza cutter slice dough into 12 even wedges.

Form rolls by rolling each wedge from thick edge to tip like a crescent roll. Place each roll evenly spaced on a large baking sheet and repeat with second half of dough. (At this point you can refrigerate the rolls (covered) for up to 24 hours or freeze them** When ready to bake, let rolls rise for another 15 min. or until roughly doubled. 

Bake at 375 for 12 min or golden. Makes  two dozen rolls.

* If you double only add one additional egg. 

**Freezing instructions:  When rolls have been formed and placed on baking sheet, cover them with foil and place in the freezer.  When they are frozen solid you can transfer them to a gallon sized freezer bag for long term storage.  When ready to bake, remove from freezer and allow to defrost.  When rolls have defrosted, let them continue to rest for about 15 minutes and then follow baking instructions above. 

Tuesday, March 7, 2017

Sesame Chicken Pasta Salad

So this is another recipe that I thought I'd posted before but someone told me it wasn't on here! I'm glad they realized it wasn't here because now I have the chance to post it and you can add this delicious recipe to your rotation!  I love this salad because it's light and fresh and makes a giant bowl's worth of food. It's great for a potluck, party, or for packing a family's worth of lunches at once!

Sesame Chicken Pasta Salad
1 box of pasta (penne or bow tie are my favorites to use)
3 cups shredded chicken
2 green onions (sliced)
1 bag baby spinach
1 cup snow peas
2 cans mandarin oranges (drained)
1/4 cup sliced almonds

1/4 cup toasted sesame seeds
1/3 cups soy sauce
1/3 cup red wine vinegar
1/3 cup sesame oil
2 T. sugar
salt and pepper (to taste)

Cook pasta. Meanwhile, toast the sesame seeds.  In a small bowl or salad dressing mixer, whisk all the dressing ingredients (including the toasted sesame seeds) together until well combined.

When pasta is al dente, drain and rinse in cold water.  Place pasta, chicken and half the dressing in a large bowl and toss.  Let refrigerate at least one hour (or overnight) to marinate chicken and pasta.

When ready to serve add the rest of the ingredients and toss with remaining dressing.  Enjoy!

Monday, March 6, 2017

Easy Baked Salmon and Veggies

I love salmon and since it's pink so do my kids :)  We cook it in a variety of ways but one of my favorite and easiest ways is to bake it right along side some veggies.  You throw it all in a 9x13 and walk away. 20 minutes later you're all set with a delicious meal!  It turns out moist, flaky and perfect every time!

 It's pictured here with asparagus but I've also done baby carrots, brussel sprouts, and zucchini. I also change up the seasoning frequently too depending what I'm serving it with.  I've listed lemon-pepper below but I also love dill or southwestern spices (like chili powder and garlic salt).  If you love a quick and healthy meal this will become a go-to for you!

Baked Salmon and Veggies
2-3 lbs. salmon
1 medium bunch thin asparagus (or sub in your favorite veggie)
1/4 cup butter (sliced thin)
3 T. olive oil
1 T. lemon pepper
salt and pepper to taste

Line a 9x13 pan with a large piece of foil (leave enough on the sides to fold over salmon).  Place salmon (skin side down) in the middle of the pan and surround it with veggies.

Thinly slice butter and place pats of butter on top of salmon and veggies.  Sprinkle veggies with olive oil as well.  Shake lemon pepper, salt and pepper evenly over salmon and veggies.  Pull edges of foil in to slightly cover.

Bake at 400 degrees for 20 minutes or until thickest part of salmon is opaque and pink.  Serve with rice pilaf, calabacitas,  mango salsa, mashed potatoes, or enjoy all by itself! 

Sunday, March 5, 2017

Calabacitas (updated)

Do you have recipes that seems to evolve over the years! I do too and I never seem to get around to updating them on the blog.  Which means I'm constantly looking up recipes on here and then I realize I don't make it like that anymore. So today I finally decided to do something about it!

Calabacitas are a delicious side dish here in New Mexico.  Full of flavor, low carb, and the perfect compliment to any meat.  We have them with steak, salmon, chicken, or even sometimes in place of meat altogether.  I've even had a delicious New Mexican shephards pie featuring calabacitas.

They are spicy, cheesy, zucchini goodness. My husband and I love them and 2 out of 5 kids eat them too (as soon as my youngest gets teeth I'm sure he'll join in).  I previously posted a grilled recipe I use for these but here is my stove top version!  Enjoy!

2-3 T. olive oil
2 small zucchini, sliced (about 1/2 in. thick slices)
2 small yellow squash, sliced (about 1/2 in. thick)
1 med. sweet onion, chopped
2 T. water
1 tsp. minced garlic
1/4 cup chopped green chile (I use frozen)
1/2 tsp. onion powder
1/2 tsp. cumin
1 tsp. chile powder
1 can corn, drained
1 cup shredded sharp cheddar

In a large skillet, heat olive oil over medium- high heat.  Add zucchini, yellow squash, onion and water. Cover and cook until onions are transparent and squash is tender (7-10 minutes) making sure to stir and flip squash/zucchini frequently.  Uncover and add garlic. Continue cooking until garlic is frangrant (2-3 minutes).  Reduce heat to medium and carefully fold in green chile, spices and corn.  Top with shredded cheese.  Re-cover skillet and cook until corn is heated and cheese is melted on top.  Serve immediately.

Saturday, March 4, 2017

Ham and Swiss Rolls

So I made these for a cooking party I was hosting last night and I realized I've never put them on my blog!  These are super fast and delicious. They are also a great make ahead recipe since they can sit in the fridge for up to 24 hours before baking. I've made them for appetizers and my girls even love them for dinner with some veggies on the side.  I get asked for the recipe all the time and last night one of my friends had one bite and said she needed the recipe right then!  They are that good!

Ham and Swiss Rolls
1 can pillsbury pizza dough
1/2 lb. thin sliced deli ham
12 slices Swiss cheese (thin sliced)
1/2 cup butter (melted)
2 T. brown sugar
1 T. Worchestshire sauce
1-2 T. dijon mustard (I've also used spicy brown mustard and they turned out great)
2 tsp. poppyseeds

Roll pizza dough out flat.  Top with ham and cheese slices.

Starting on a long side, roll the dough tightly and make sure to connect the seam at the end.

Using a serrated knife slice into 12 even rolls and place in a 9x13 pan.

  In a small sauce pan combine the rest of the ingredients and stir until butter is melted and sauce is heated through.  Top each roll evenly with sauce. At this point rolls can be refrigerated for up to 24 hours. When ready to serve,  bake at 350 degrees for 25 minutes. Then hurry and grab one before your kids eat them all! Enjoy!