2017 - Julie Green and Keen
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...
Last night we hosted Hannah’s movie party.  We often plan a party on any date, for her group of friends and urprisingly she wasn’t as high strung as she usually is about food and décor.  She just wanted to have a few of her friends over for a sleepover and watch some new movies that just came out.  I was very surprised when she told me this, so unlike her, but easier for me.

We did decorate a little bit with big paper movie reels and old fashioned popcorn containers.  We also found some really great big bean bags and pillows that were on sale so we agreed they would be part of the decoration of ther room.  She picked out so many movies that she wanted to get for that night but we realistically narrowed it down to 3 movies. 

She didn’t want a cake for this party because it was not her birthday party but, she just wanted an assortment of ice cream and fun popcorn for when they were watching movie.  I let her go crazy in the ice cream isle at our co-op.  She picked out lots of fruity flavors and of course chocolate.  She found fun recipes for popcorn on Pinterest and we made them our own.  I had to laugh at her and her friends, they ended up putting some of the popcorn on their ice cream…crazy girls! :)

The popcorn recipes she found were actually really delicious, my husband and I were munching on them too.  Here are the three fun flavors of popcorn we made.

Cookies and Cream Popcorn 🍿

Ingredients-
•    4 ½ cups popped popcorn
•    10 Oreos, pulverized
•    12 oz. vanilla almond bark

Instructions-
•    In a microwave safe bowl melt the almond bark until smooth.  Pour over popped popcorn and immediately pour the pulverized Oreos on the mixture.  Mix with a wooden spoon so the almond bark and Oreos are distributed.  Let the bark cool and harden, enjoy!

In case the cookies and cream popcorn wasn’t enough,

S’mores Popcorn 🍿

Ingredients-
•    About 5 cups of popped popcorn
•    2 cups chocolate chip melts
•    1 package of Duncan Hines Chocolate marshmallow frosting creations mix
•    1 cup mini marshmallows
•    12 graham crackers, crushed

Instructions-
•    Combine the popcorn and marshmallows in a large bowl.  Melt the chocolate chips and mix in the frosting packet.  Drizzle over the popcorn mixture and immediately pour the graham cracker crumbs over the mixture.  Let the chocolate cool and harden, enjoy!

And to get the savory with the sweet popcorn,

Parmesan Basil Popcorn 🍿

Ingredients-
•    4 cups popped popcorn
•    2 tbsp. coconut oil
•    ¼ cup finely grated parmesan cheese
•    ¼ tsp. salt
•    4 tbsp. chopped basil

Instructions-
•    Melt the coconut oil and pour over the popcorn.  Add the cheese, salt and basil immediately and toss so it coats the popcorn.  Serve and enjoy you savory popcorn!

I was so surprised how much fun the girls had just watching movies and being girls.  The popcorn and ice cream bar turned out great.  The girls loved it and were getting really creative combining the flavors.  It was nice to see them have fun without doing something big or expensive.  Hannah had a great birthday, she said it was the best one yet.  Luckily for me, I don’t have much cleaning to do today since they were so calm.  It has been such a great weekend!

Go Green and Stay Keen,

Julie
Did you read my post about pant milk alternatives? I recently read it and realized that I have never made my own homemade milk.  I looked up a few recipes and found I had the ingredients for some of them.  I tried to making the Hemp Seed Milk yesterday and it turned out so great!  I found some more recipes to make milk alternatives that I want to try, check them out.  They look very easy!

Hemp Seed Milk- Recipe


Ingredients-
•    1 cup raw shelled hemp seeds
•    3 cups of filtered water
•    2-3 tsp. raw agave
•    ½ tsp. vanilla extract
•    1 tbsp. non-GMO soy
•    1 tbsp. raw coconut butter
•    Dash of sea salt

Instructions-
•    Place all the ingredients into a blender and start at low speed and continue to add speed until high.  Blend on high for about 3 minutes
•    If you want, I did, you can strain the blended mixture through a nut bag.  Keep the milk in a glass jar refrigerated.
•    Enjoy!

Almond Milk- Recipe


Ingredients-
•    1 cup organic raw almonds
•    2-3 cups purified water

Instructions-
•    Soak almonds in a large glass bowl with filtered water and sea salt for about 12 hours covered.
•    Rinse the nuts to remove the salt.  Put the almonds and water into blender and start at low speed and continue to add speed until high.  Blend on high until the nuts are completely in small pieces. 
•    If you want, strain the blended mixture through a nut bag.  You can also add flavor with vanilla extract or agave; I definitely want to try adding some cocoa powered to it.
•    Enjoy!

Coconut Milk-
Recipe


Ingredients-
•    1 cup coconut meat, from a young coconut
•    3 cups raw coconut water
•    2 tbsp. coconut butter

Instructions-
•    Place all the ingredients into a blender and start at low speed and continue to add speed until high.  Blend on high for about 3 minutes until creamy.
•    You can add flavor if you want, vanilla extract, coconut sugar, agave, ect.
•    Keep the milk in a glass jar refrigerated.
•    Enjoy!

Hopefully I will be able to try making these very soon and share how they turn out.  My Hemp seed milk turned out great!  Happy Milking!

Go Green and Stay Keen,
Julie

Plant Based Milk Recipes

by on 3/30/2017
Did you read my post about pant milk alternatives? I recently read it and realized that I have never made my own homemade milk.  I looked u...
I typically try to do my grocery shopping on Mondays to prepare for the week ahead and today while I was making my list, I realized my “pantry staples” had run out...*gasp*  If you have a pantry you know what I mean by “pantry staples.”  Those go to meal bases that never fail to help come up with an easy meal fast.



Having the basics for a meal at all times is always necessary when you have kids and never know how many mouths you will be feeding that evening for dinner.  Having a few ingredients on hand really helps when you have to put together an unexpected meal quick.  I swear by my staples and made sure to stock back up at the store today.


My number one pantry staple is whole wheat pasta; it is one of the most versatile ingredients that can make a meal in minutes.  Right next to the pasta I always have some pasta sauces, typically a few red and whites.  Whenever pasta sauce is on sale I usually stock up because my kids are never going to say no to pasta and sauce.

Lentils are my favorite legume so it is only right that I keep them stocked up as well.  They cook quick and easy for a meal in a flash.  In a bind I usually pair the lentils with some pasta sauce for a yummy chili.  Right next to the lentils, there will always be brown rice, you can’t go wrong with it. Brown rice makes a great base if there you have some veggies in the refrigerator and the rice has plenty of vitamins and minerals making it a healthy option too.

Onions and potatoes always have a place in my pantry.  There is no doubt that some sautéed or caramelized onions can make a tasty meal.  Potatoes are good for sides and can strengthen pasta sauce or soup.  Building on soup, bouillon cubes can always be found in my pantry as well.  It is an easy way to make your own broth and create a delicious soup using potatoes, miso paste, cubed tofu, spinach or whatever else you have on hand.

After shopping and filling my pantry back up with my necessities I am ready for unexpected meals and unpredictable amounts of mouths to feed.  I think having a few dinner starters on hand at all times is a great way to always be prepared if you have kids.

What are your favorite pantry staples?


Go Green and Stay Keen,

Julie


Pantry Necessities

by on 2/27/2017
I typically try to do my grocery shopping on Mondays to prepare for the week ahead and today while I was making my list, I realized my “pan...
Happy Super Bowl Sunday all you football fans out there!  :) Although I am not a football fan, my husband is quite the enthusiast and wanted to have “the guys” over for a Super Bowl party this evening.  Of course I am always up for cooking and having a little get together at our house.  My husband asked me to secretly make only vegetarian snacks for the guys then at the end of the night tell them.  I had to laugh a little bit, he wants to see if they notice and then surprise them.  Of course I am not going to say no to making yummy vegetarian “game day man snacks.”

Little do our unsuspecting victims know, the day associated with eating copious amounts of stereotypical “meaty” and “manly” food is going to be very different at our house.

At first you might think creating meatless Super Bowl Sunday snack menu would be difficult, but don’t fear, I have cracked the code.  Why not try surprising your guests and have vegetarian snacks?  Here is what we have made-

Oven-Roasted Spicy Potato Wedges

Ingredients-
•    6 russet potatoes, cut into wedges
•    ½ cup olive oil
•    1 tsp. paprika
•    ½ tsp. garlic powder
•    ¼ - ½ tsp. cayenne pepper, depending on your spicy taste
•    Salt and ground pepper
Instructions-
•    Preheat oven to 450 degrees F. 
•    On a foil lined baking sheet toss the potatoes with the oil, paprika, garlic powder, cayenne pepper, and sprinkle salt and pepper to taste.  Spread evenly on the sheet and roast for about 25-30 minutes turning once until they are golden brown.  Enjoy!

Not so Pigs in a Blanket

Ingredients-
•    Cheddar Cheese
•    Vegetarian “hot dogs,” your preference, I chose Field Roast
•    Crescent rolls, your preference again
Instructions-
•    Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F.  Line a baking sheet with foil
•    Roll out the crescents and begin wrapping your pigs in the blankets.  I sliced the hot dogs into quarters, topped with the cheese and rolled them in triangle crescents.
•    Bake for about 15 minutes until lightly browned and enjoy!

Mini Nacho Pizzas

Ingredients-
•    4 English muffins, halved
•    ½ cup pepper jack cheese, or cheddar
•    ½ cup roasted tomato salsa
•    ½ cup refried beans
•    2 small jalapenos, thinly sliced
•    ½ cup onion, thinly sliced
•    4 tbsp. tomato, diced
•    Additional toppings if desired, I used olives
Instructions-
•    Preheat oven to about 350 degrees F.
•    Top the English muffin halves with salsa, then refried beans, and cheese.  Add the rest of the toppings and sprinkle some extra cheese on top.  Place on a baking sheet and bake for about 10-15 minutes. Let cool and add extra toppings if desired and enjoy!

What Super Bowl party would be complete without Taco Dip?

Ingredients-
•    1, 8 oz. package of softened cream cheese
•    1, 16 oz. container of nonfat sour cream
•    1 package taco seasoning mix
•    ¼ head iceberg lettuce, shredded
•    1 cup shredded cheddar cheese
•    3 chopped tomatoes
•    1 green bell pepper, chopped
•    1 small can of black olives drained
Instructions-
•    Combine the cream cheese, sour cream and taco seasoning in a medium sized mixing bowl.  When thoroughly mixed and smooth, spread on about a 9-inch serving dish.  Top with lettuce, cheese, tomatoes, pepper and olives.  Enjoy!

Jalapeño Poppers

Ingredients-
•    12 jalapeño peppers
•    8 oz. softened cream cheese
•    ½ tsp. kosher salt
•    Pepper to taste
Instructions-
•    Heat oven to broil and line a baking sheet with aluminum foil
•    Slice the jalapeños in a “T” shaped and open the flaps and scrape the inside to remove the seeds and ribs.
•    In a medium bowl, mix the cream cheese and salt, add pepper to taste and mix until smooth and combined.  Spoon the mixture into the jalapeño’s.  Place them on the baking sheet and broil for about 5 minutes, rotate the pan and broil until they begin to char.  Remove and let cool.  Enjoy!

I can’t wait for the guys to be shocked that we have delicious snacks for the game but it is all vegetarian!
Have a happy Super Bowl,

Julie

Super Bowl Snack Time

by on 2/05/2017
Happy Super Bowl Sunday all you football fans out there!  :) Although I am not a football fan, my husband is quite the enthusiast and wante...