Julie Green and Keen

Best Things to Cook in November

/ 11/06/2017
As much as I love October, November has so much to offer and so many delicious vegetables and fruits in season.  Root vegetables are some of my favorite vegetables to prepare and are in their prime.  They make for great rich and flavorful soups and stews.  I still get to use pumpkin in my recipes but I also love using other root veggies to create rich fall flavors. 

Here are some of the best fruits and vegetables that are in season…varying depending on where you are: apples, artichokes, arugula, bell peppers, cabbage, carrots, cranberries, dates, endive, garlic, kale, leeks, potatoes, pumpkin, radishes, rutabaga, squash, sweet potatoes, turnips, and watercress just to name a few.

Chili is one of my favorite fall meals and it is so easy when you make it in the slow cooker.  Here is my recipe for

Slow Cooker Chili



 Ingredients-

•    ½ tbsp. olive oil
•    1 medium yellow onion, peeled and diced
•    4 cloves garlic, minced
•    1  chipotle chili, chopped
•    2, 15 oz. cans of dark red kidney beans, rinsed and drained
•    2, 15 oz. cans tomato sauce
•    2, 14 oz. cans of diced tomatoes
•    1, 15 oz. can of light red kidney beans, rinsed and drained
•    1, 4 oz. can chopped green chilies
•    1 cup of beer
•    2 tbsp. chili powder
•    1 tbsp. ground cumin
•    1 tsp. salt
•    1 tsp. sugar
•    ½ tsp. black pepper
•    Toppings if you want, I like to use shredded cheddar cheese, sometimes tortilla strips, or sour cream

Instructions- 

•    Add all the ingredients to the slow cooker and stir to combine.  Cover and cook on low for 6-8 hours and season with salt and pepper to taste.  Serve with desired toppings and enjoy your perfect November fall chili!

I love roasting squash this time of the year.  It has such a unique taste that is prefect for fall and November!  Here is a wonderful way to roast a squash:

Spicy Roasted Herbed Squash 




Ingredients-

•    1 large acorn squash, seeded and sliced
•    3 tbsp. coconut oil, melted
•    3 tbsp. brown sugar
•    1 tsp. chili garlic sauce
•    ¼ tsp. salt
•    ¼ tsp. pepper
•    4 oz. crumbled feta
•    1 tbsp. chopped basil
•    1 tbsp. chopped cilantro
•    1 tbsp. chopped fresh oregano

Instructions-

•    Preheat the oven to 375 degrees Fahrenheit and place the sliced squash on a lined baking pan.
•    Mix the coconut oil, brown sugar, and chili garlic sauce together in a small bowl.  Pour over the squash slices and sprinkle the salt and pepper over the top.  Roast for about 20 minutes, move the slices around and roast for another 20 minutes. 
•    Remove from oven and sprinkle the feta, basil, cilantro, and oregano over the top.  If there is any extra sauce over flowed on the baking pan, put it on the squash.  Let cool a bit and serve your wonderful roasted squash.

Just in case that recipe didn’t satisfy your roasted squash fix, here is a delicious recipe for

Parmesan Roasted Squash





Ingredients-

•    2 small acorn squashes, sliced in large chucks and seeded
•    ½ cup heavy cream
•    8 sprigs of dried oregano
•    ½ cup grated Parmesan cheese
•    Extra virgin olive oil and salt and pepper to taste and drizzle

Instructions

•    Preheat the oven to 375 degrees Fahrenheit and place the sliced squash on a lined baking pan and season with salt and pepper.  Spread the heavy cream and herbs evenly on the slices.
•    Bake for about 40 minutes until the squash is tender.  Remove from the oven and top with the parmesan cheese and place back into the oven for about 10 minutes or until the cheese is melted and golden.
•    Remove from oven, drizzle with olive oil and enjoy another wonderful roasted squash!

November is such a great time to bake and make some delicious fall food.  I consider October and the beginning of November the preparation for Thanksgiving!
 
Hope you are having a great November!

Go Green and Stay Keen,

Julie
As much as I love October, November has so much to offer and so many delicious vegetables and fruits in season.  Root vegetables are some of my favorite vegetables to prepare and are in their prime.  They make for great rich and flavorful soups and stews.  I still get to use pumpkin in my recipes but I also love using other root veggies to create rich fall flavors. 

Here are some of the best fruits and vegetables that are in season…varying depending on where you are: apples, artichokes, arugula, bell peppers, cabbage, carrots, cranberries, dates, endive, garlic, kale, leeks, potatoes, pumpkin, radishes, rutabaga, squash, sweet potatoes, turnips, and watercress just to name a few.

Chili is one of my favorite fall meals and it is so easy when you make it in the slow cooker.  Here is my recipe for

Slow Cooker Chili



 Ingredients-

•    ½ tbsp. olive oil
•    1 medium yellow onion, peeled and diced
•    4 cloves garlic, minced
•    1  chipotle chili, chopped
•    2, 15 oz. cans of dark red kidney beans, rinsed and drained
•    2, 15 oz. cans tomato sauce
•    2, 14 oz. cans of diced tomatoes
•    1, 15 oz. can of light red kidney beans, rinsed and drained
•    1, 4 oz. can chopped green chilies
•    1 cup of beer
•    2 tbsp. chili powder
•    1 tbsp. ground cumin
•    1 tsp. salt
•    1 tsp. sugar
•    ½ tsp. black pepper
•    Toppings if you want, I like to use shredded cheddar cheese, sometimes tortilla strips, or sour cream

Instructions- 

•    Add all the ingredients to the slow cooker and stir to combine.  Cover and cook on low for 6-8 hours and season with salt and pepper to taste.  Serve with desired toppings and enjoy your perfect November fall chili!

I love roasting squash this time of the year.  It has such a unique taste that is prefect for fall and November!  Here is a wonderful way to roast a squash:

Spicy Roasted Herbed Squash 




Ingredients-

•    1 large acorn squash, seeded and sliced
•    3 tbsp. coconut oil, melted
•    3 tbsp. brown sugar
•    1 tsp. chili garlic sauce
•    ¼ tsp. salt
•    ¼ tsp. pepper
•    4 oz. crumbled feta
•    1 tbsp. chopped basil
•    1 tbsp. chopped cilantro
•    1 tbsp. chopped fresh oregano

Instructions-

•    Preheat the oven to 375 degrees Fahrenheit and place the sliced squash on a lined baking pan.
•    Mix the coconut oil, brown sugar, and chili garlic sauce together in a small bowl.  Pour over the squash slices and sprinkle the salt and pepper over the top.  Roast for about 20 minutes, move the slices around and roast for another 20 minutes. 
•    Remove from oven and sprinkle the feta, basil, cilantro, and oregano over the top.  If there is any extra sauce over flowed on the baking pan, put it on the squash.  Let cool a bit and serve your wonderful roasted squash.

Just in case that recipe didn’t satisfy your roasted squash fix, here is a delicious recipe for

Parmesan Roasted Squash





Ingredients-

•    2 small acorn squashes, sliced in large chucks and seeded
•    ½ cup heavy cream
•    8 sprigs of dried oregano
•    ½ cup grated Parmesan cheese
•    Extra virgin olive oil and salt and pepper to taste and drizzle

Instructions

•    Preheat the oven to 375 degrees Fahrenheit and place the sliced squash on a lined baking pan and season with salt and pepper.  Spread the heavy cream and herbs evenly on the slices.
•    Bake for about 40 minutes until the squash is tender.  Remove from the oven and top with the parmesan cheese and place back into the oven for about 10 minutes or until the cheese is melted and golden.
•    Remove from oven, drizzle with olive oil and enjoy another wonderful roasted squash!

November is such a great time to bake and make some delicious fall food.  I consider October and the beginning of November the preparation for Thanksgiving!
 
Hope you are having a great November!

Go Green and Stay Keen,

Julie
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Happy Halloween all you ghosts and goblins out there!  I love Halloween so much, but this year feels a little different.  We usually have a big party for Hannah’s birthday that is Halloween themed but because she wanted a movie party so we didn’t have our typical party.  We certainly made up for not having a party this past weekend.

One of my husband’s friends had an adult’s only Halloween party at his house on Saturday.  It seems like it has been so long since we went to a party without the kids.  We were lucky, we didn’t even need to get a sitter because both Liam and Hannah were both invited to different friends’ houses for their own Halloween parties.

We weren’t very prepared when it came to the costumes…all the years focusing on the kids costumes, we forgot how to dress ourselves.  I didn’t really want to buy anything so I searched the web for some good ideas.  I found a cute robber costume idea that we had all things needed, except black hats.  It ended up looking great, we both wore black and white striped shirts with black pants, black hats, and we made money bags.  I loved it!

The party was so much fun and it was awesome seeing everyone else dressed up and having a good time.  My husband’s friend really decked out the whole house.  I have never seen a house transform so much for a party.  My favorite decoration was a coffin cooler for the drinks.  He built it in the shape of a coffin and lined it with tarp and cooler stuff.  It was incredible!

We had so much fun at the “adults only” Halloween party.  It was great to let loose and have a good time, thank goodness for taxis!  I hope you all had a wonderful Halloween weekend and have a great Halloween today!

Have a Spooky Halloween!

Julie

Happy Halloween

by on 10/31/2017
Happy Halloween all you ghosts and goblins out there!  I love Halloween so much, but this year feels a little different.  We usually have a...
It is about that time when we are going to pick right back up into our busy schedules with the kids back in school, a busy season in the restaurant and my husband has a few business travel trips coming up.

There is nothing worse than having boring and repetitive meals.  Being busy is nothing new to our family’s life so I have figured out how to make meals that only take a few minutes to prepare.

My answer to busy schedules, cooking ahead of time and freezing.

Cooking up a big batch of something and freezing the leftovers make great weeknight meals.  There are so many things that freeze well and can even save a few dollars when you double or triple the batch.  Not to mention, freezing perishable items means you waste less!

recipes of freezer friendly meals
Freezer Friendly Meals

Today I made two batches of soup for this week and an easy breakfast, it is going to be a busy week for sure!  Here are some great recipes that freeze well and work great as weekday meals!


Chickpea and Coconut Tomato Soup

Ingredients-
1, 400g can of chickpeas
1 can of tomatoes
250ml coconut milk
1 red chili, chopped
1 small piece of ginger, grated
1 shallot, chopped
3-4 cloves of garlic, finely chopped
Zest from 1 lemon
1 tsp. turmeric
1 tsp. cumin
3-4 cardamom pods
2 tbsp. olive oil
Salt and pepper to taste
Parsley to garnish if desired

Instructions-
In a large pan heat the olive oil, onion, garlic, ginger, and salt and pepper.  When the onion is beginning to brown add the chili and sauté for a couple minutes.  Add the rest of the spices and zest and stir together thoroughly.
Add the tomatoes, cook for about 3-4 minutes then add the coconut milk and continue cooking for 5 minutes.  Finally, add the chickpeas and cook for about 3 minutes.  Divide and store in freezer containers and either freeze or enjoy right away or both!

Cheese and Veggie Egg Muffins

Ingredients-
About 1 ½ cup shredded carrots
½ cup diced orange bell peppers
½ cup frozen peas
½ cup frozen corn
8 large eggs
About 12 tbsp. shredded cheese of your choice
Salt and pepper to taste

Instructions-
Preheat the oven to 375 degrees Fahrenheit
Spray cooking spray on a non-stick 12 cup muffin pan making sure it is all thoroughly covered.
In a large bowl mix the carrots, peppers, peas, and corn.  Divide the mixture in the muffin pan filling them up about 2/3 of the way full.
In another bowl crack the eggs and whisk them adding salt and pepper to taste.  Divide the egg mixture in the muffin pan as well.  Top each muffin section with a generous amount of cheese.
Bake for about 18-20 minutes and let cool before removing.  Divide and eat or freeze and save for a delicious and healthy breakfast.

Do you freeze meals to have during a busy week? I would love to know what you freeze, I am always looking for new recipes to try with my family!

Go Green and Stay Keen,

Julie

This time of year is not only beautiful but a great time at the farmers market.  There are still summer fruits and vegetables and just the very beginning of fall produce as well.  It is the peak harvest time around US and there are so many places to get fresh food around the city.  I recently read this blog post about an “Eat Local Challenge”.



Because this time of year is so good for finding plenty of fresh and locally grown foods, I think it is a great idea.

 Eating locally isn’t as hard as it might seem.  With farmers markets and co-ops there are many opportunities to find local food.  The co-op is a great place to go for ingredients you might not find at a farmers market like flour, spices, or some specific herbs.  At my co-op they label the local products with a green local sticker to make it easier when shopping.

Buy and eating local is not only go for you, it is good for the environment and the local economy.  I always try eating as local as I can to make sure the money I am spending stays in my community and within the state.  The distance to sell and purchase is shorter when eating locally, making the truck and/or transportation costs and emissions significantly lower.

Fruit and coffees are often the only products I buy that are not locally grown, but in those cases I always look for “fair-trade” products.  Fair trade products help the farms, often in third world countries get a better deal for their products.  By purchasing fair trade you are giving the farmers more control of their product and their futures of protecting the environment where they grow.  I believe that nearly everything should be fair trade, we should be treating farmers with respect for their product and letting them take charge of their deserved money.

I know my family won’t have a problem doing this challenge, but I want to challenge all my family, friends, and readers as well.  I pose the challenge to go 30 days eating only foods grown, caught, or raised within your state.  Try educating yourself and your family on the nutritional, economic, environmental, and cultural benefits of eating locally sourced foods.

Give it a try, even if you can’t complete the challenge, try eating as locally and fresh as possible.  When produce is picked and eaten at the height of ripeness it not only is delicious, but it also is packed with nutrients to make you feel great!

Go for it eat locally, I challenge you!

Go Green and Stay Keen,

Julie


EAT LOCAL CHALLENGE

by on 8/04/2017
This time of year is not only beautiful but a great time at the farmers market .  There are still summer fruits and vegetables and just the...
Moms, if you have a preteen boy, you know that they love to defy everything and beat their own path.  Liam has been pretty good, but recently he has been in a sriracha kick.  Anything and everything I make for breakfast, lunch or dinner he has to load it up with sriracha.  I think his obsession stemmed from one day when Liam dared Hannah to have a spoon full of it and couldn’t handle it.  That sibling rivalry has made quite the “macho man” Liam is acting like now.



Instead of letting him ruin all of our delicious meals, I came up with a few recipes with sriracha hidden in them that Hannah can eat too.  I have made a few meals and surprised Liam when I tell him that it is already in it and Hannah love it and rubs it in his face a little.  I have to laugh because they love to make everything a competition and I am kindly incising them a bit.

Here are some delicious ways I have come up with to add sriracha on everything!

For breakfast I came up with a wonderful:

Sweet Potato and Endive Hash with Sriracha Buttermilk

Sauce

Ingredients for the sauce-

•    1/3 cup low-fat buttermilk
•    1 tbsp. low-fat mayonnaise
•    ¼ tsp. sriracha sauce
•    1/8 tsp. salt

Ingredients for the potatoes-

•    1 ¼ lbs. sweet potatoes, peeled and diced
•    ¾ lb. russet potatoes, peeled and diced
•    1 tbsp. olive oil
•    2 garlic cloves, minced
•    ½ tsp. salt
•    4 heads endive, thinly sliced
•    1 green onion, thinly sliced
•    ¼ cup minced cilantro

Instructions for the sauce-
•    In a bowl mix all the ingredients together until well combined
Instructions for the potatoes-
•    Bring lightly salted water to a boil in a large saucepan on high heat.  Add the sweet and russet potatoes, cook until tender and drain.
•    In a large skillet heat the olive oil and add the garlic and cook for about 1 minute.  Add the sweet and russet potatoes and salt, cook and stir for about 5-7 minutes.  Add the endive and green onions and cook until the potatoes begin to brown.
•    Remove from heat and stir in the cilantro, drizzle the sriracha sauce and stir to coat.  Enjoy!

For an easy and delicious snack:

Sriracha Chex Mix

Ingredients-
•    6 cups mixed Chex cereal, I like using half wheat Chex and half corn Chex
•    1 ½ cup cheez-its
•    1 ½ cup pretzels
•    1 cup peanuts
•    4 tbsp. unsalted butter
•    ¼ cup sriracha, more or less depending on your desired spicy level
•    2 tbsp. soy sauce
•    1 tsp. grated ginger
•    1 tsp. grated garlic


Instructions-
•    Preheat the oven to 250 degrees Fahrenheit
•    In a large bowl mix the Chex, cheez-its, pretzels, and peanuts and lay out on a large line baking sheet.
•    In another bowl combine the butter, sriracha, soy sauce, ginger, and garlic and microwave for about 15 second intervals until the butter is melted.  Stir each time to combine.
•    Pour the butter mixture evenly over Chex mixture and combine with your hands to evenly coat.  Bake for 1 hour, stirring and moving the mixture every 15 minutes.  Cool and Enjoy!

Another easy side dish is:

Sriracha Garlic Bread

Easy Instructions- quantity of ingredients can be based on the level of spicy and servings.
•    In a small bowl mix sriracha, minced garlic, and butter and microwave to melt the butter.  Brush mixture on slices of bread and sprinkle with parmesan cheese and broil until toasted.  Enjoy!

With Liam’s new obsession, I am constantly trying to come up with recipes that incorporate sriracha.  I am hoping this phase passes fairly soon, the lady at the grocery store is going to think I have a sriracha problem.

Go Green and Stay Keen,

Julie
Yesterday was such a beautiful day and what a better way to spend it then at a water park!  To cross an activity off of Liam and Hannah’s “summer to do list” we decide to go to a water park about 45 minutes away.  One of my friends has two kids that are Liam and Hannah’s age and get along really well so they came as well.

The sun was shining and the water felt great in the summer’s heat.  I am so happy we decided to go to the water park, not just for the kids to have fun but to keep cool too.  I was constantly chasing after Liam and Hannah to reapply sun screen.  It is so hard to get them to sit down for two seconds to lather them up again.  I made sure to get them good, so there would be no sun burn crabbiness.

Liam and my friend’s son were running around crazy going on all the water slides, the speedy mat slides, and playing in the water cannon area.  They gave us a work out trying to keep up with them.  Hannah and her friend were much better behaved and didn’t give us a run for our money.  I was so proud of Hannah, she had a great time and was so cooperative. 

We spent a lot of time in the adventure pool, which was great for my friend and me, it connected to a shallow weighting pool where we would sit in the water, catch up, and watch the kids. 

We also convinced all our kids to go on the lazy river after lunch to let their stomachs settle instead of immediately going on the swirling slides... good judgment on our part.  It was relaxing and the kids still had fun.  There were little water falls and shooting water to keep them on their toes. 

By 3:30 they were wiped.  We loaded back up into the car after a fun day in the sun and water.  The kids had a little snack and within 15 minutes were sound asleep.  When we got home they ate dinner and fell asleep right away.  They must have really had a good time using all their energy. 


Yummy Banana Split for the Kids!
It was a wonderful day at the waterpark!  The kids can’t wait to keep crossing activities off their “summer to do list.”

Go Green and Stay Keen,

Julie

Water Park Fun

by on 7/10/2017
Yesterday was such a beautiful day and what a better way to spend it then at a water park!  To cross an activity off of Liam and Hannah’s ...
I recently broke one of my favorite rolling pins and had to order a new one.  It was so hard for me to decide which one to get because my previous one was no longer being made.  Looking for a new one made me realize I have quite the unique set of kitchen utensils.  I love finding the perfect tool for the job.  I am a sucker for specialized utensils that help make my favorite foods easier to make.

After I realized my kitchen utensil drawer probably doesn’t look like many of yours, I decided I should share my favorite unique kitchen utensils.

1. If you know me, you know I love mushrooms.  There is no slacking on this wonderful vegetable here.  My Mushroom & Egg Slicer is one of my favorite and very specific utensils.  If you cook mushrooms or eggs often I highly recommend it.  I even got the restaurant one.
2. Shears are important in every kitchen.  I use them all the time if I am in a hurry or want an easy option for mincing chives or slicing green onions.  There are my favorite kitchen shears that might just make your kitchen experience better.
3. The spill stopper has saved my stove from so many potential spills.  It is this silicone bowl-shaped utensil that fits on top of pots from water or broth from boiling over.  It is always irritating when you leave the room for two seconds and the water boils over and you have a huge flame.  The spill stopper stops that from happening.


4. My pizza wheel has retired since I got the pizza chopper.  When I used to use a pizza wheel I would have to go over the cut several times until it was cut and still then my slices wouldn’t be even.  The pizza chopper is easier and makes slices even.  I use it for tarts as well.


5. I have found the PERFECT Peeler, and what a coincidence it is called the  Perfect Peeler.  I feel like a good peeler is hard to come by until I found this one.  I went through many different kinds and designs but the perfect peeler has solved all my peeling problems.


6. Hannah’s favorite tool in the kitchen is our stainless steel scoop for cookies.  It makes the perfect sized cookies and you don’t have to fiddle with a tablespoon.  I also use it for truffles, energy bites, and watermelon balls!


7. My marble pastry slab was in impromptu buy that is one of my favorites.  I like using it better than the table when I am rolling out dough for bread or whatever I am making.  I use less flour and the dough doesn’t stick to the surface as much making it easy to clean up.


Do you have utensils you could not cook without?  Maybe you have the key to one of my cooking problems, please let a comment below with your favorite unique utensil.

Go green and stay keen,

Julie

Best kitchen Utensils

by on 5/25/2017
I recently broke one of my favorite rolling pins and had to order a new one.  It was so hard for me to decide which one to get because my p...