Brochettes de Crevettes (Shrimp & Bacon) Recipe

Now for something a little different. In English, it means Grilled Shrimp and Bacon Kebabs. But no matter what you call them, they are awesome!! I make them a lot and most of my kids actually eat them!

Brochettes de Crevettes

24 extra large shrimp (follow instructions below)
12 slices of bacon
juice of one lemon
1 tablespoon of honey
4 tablespoons of Extra Virgin Olive Oil (or if you are a Rachel Ray fan – EVOO)
4 tablespoons of chopped cilantro, to taste
sea salt, to taste
ground pepper, to taste

Peel and devein shrimp. Leave tails on. Mix the lemon juice, honey, extra virgin olive oil (evoo), cilantro and salt and pepper together in a bowl. Add the shrimp and coat with mixture. Cut the bacon in half crosswise and wrap a piece of bacon around each shrimp and thread on metal skewers. Using either a gas or charcoal barbecue grill, grill the skewers for about 2-3 minutes on each side. Serve immediately.

Little Bit Stalker, Whole Lot Fan

In St. Louis today in Tower Grove Park, there were hundreds of thousands of people that came out for the Festival of the Nations. I’ve never attended before, but have always been curious. A family in our Fife and Drum corp., that we’ve only know a couple of months (this is important for much later in this post) is also in a Scottish Pipe Band and they were performing at the Festival. And it is my birthday, so we needed to do something. We decided to go and support them (and stalk them… er I mean watch them) because our whole family had been curious about the Pipe Band they talk about all the time. Plus, if you know anything about me at all, you would know that I am truly 100% obsessed with anything/all things Celtic. First and foremost all things Irish, and well, Scottish is darn close and my husband loves him some Scot. He’s also some odd percentage Scottish and/or Welsh, but don’t ask me how much. You probably shouldn’t ask him either, he really doesn’t know.

Anyway, so off we go to see the pipe band perform. We got there uber early, and by uber early, I mean pretty much 5 hours too early, but we wanted to see other stuff too. I won’t bore you with all the  details of the day, but I will show you some highlights.

We did this:

Henna Tatoos

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and then we saw this:

The Dance of Life:

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Yeah, I got nothing. I can’t even describe this enough to make it real in your mind. You just had to be there. It was….

  • Disturbing
  • Fascinating
  • Creative
  • Awkward
  • Crazy

But that’s okay. She’s doing “The Dance of Life” – see, her chair even says so. Sorry about her head being cut off in the second photo, my daughter was snapping the photo and she couldn’t quite get past her uhm…. costume.

Yeah, uhm. So anyway, we were there to see the St. Louis Caledonian Pipe Band play. So let’s move on, and not reflect too much on the oddness that was the above two photos.

The St. Louis Caledonian Pipe Band

(oh, and before you ask – those red arrows were not actually above their heads when I took the photos. The dude on the left is Braden, who teaches Ryan and Brie color guard (and later became Melissa’s boyfriend). The dude on the left with that gigantic drum is Dan, his dad. They are some of the coolest people you will ever meet. The whole family actually. Not pictured are Robin, the totally non-musical mom (her words, not mine!) who is actually standing to my left in these photos (don’t look for her, she’s behind the camera lens) and Dakota who is her totally musical son and also in our Fife and Drum corp. who just wasn’t there that day. But don’t worry, I have more to say on him in a minute).

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and since you weren’t there with us, I am including a very tiny video clip of them playing. Please don’t mind the dude at the end of the clip that gets in the way. That was all he did the entire time we were standing there. (Ah, but if you don’t have anything nice to say, don’t say anything at all, Nicole.)

Okay, so I said I was going to come back to Dakota, and I meant it and now’s the time. So we are standing there watching the pipe band, and it didn’t take us but a few seconds of them playing to start looking at each other, and by each other, I pretty much mean my kids and I. Not because the pipe band was bad, they so weren’t bad, they were SO good. But that was the problem, it became clear immediately that we had heard them before. Like a couple of times before. In fact, I remembered being obsessed with the group back at the Missouri Tartan Days 2 years ago. I mentioned this to said non-musical mom and she just sort of laughed it off. Remember, we’ve only known them a couple of months… She laughed until I sent her these little captures of history:

I present, my photos from the 2008 Missouri Tartan days (that might actually be somewhere on this blog or my other blog already, but here they are again…)
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So see the guy in the last picture… and again in the next photo? That’s her son Dakota. mhmm…. who’s laughing now? And then see the guy playing that gigantic drum in the sixth photo? (second below) – That’s her husband. mhmm…. again, who’s the stalker uhm… I mean fan, now?

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So yeah, this is only 8 of about 50 photos we took of the group performing. I’m a huge stalker fan. And that was of course proven again today, while watching them. Sorry I took up such a huge post, but it was worth sharing the story. Plus the different music, food and fun at the Festival of Nations was definitely worth mentioning.

Kids In The Kitchen: Mug in a Microwave Recipes

I’ve heard about it for awhile now, but I needed to do some research before I was convinced that I was going to try it. What am I talking about? Well, apparently there are all these recipes that can be made/cooked in a mug in the microwave. I think it all started with some cakes that could be made in the microwave and were usually cooked in a mug. That’s all great and dandy, but I’m not a big advocate of microwave cooking, simply because I don’t usually like how things taste. Don’t get me wrong, I use my microwave to reheat things, and to melt things like butter but for cooking and baking purposes, its just never really been something I’ve done. So when I started seeing mug in a microwave recipes  that stretched beyond CAKE, I started to get curious and more involved in how its all done, and guess what? I like the concept. My biggest reason for liking the concept, is that it is something my children can do. They can create their own meals in a mug or breakfast in a mug or whatever it is they feel like making.

To make it easier for them, I wrote the recipes we tried and actually liked, down on index cards with the exact measurements for ONE mug of whatever they wanted to make. We punched a hole and put a big ring through it and keep it on top of the microwave. After school, in the morning or whenever they feel like making something – all they have to do is grab the recipe ring and figure out what ingredients they need, whether we have them and then make them. Have you tried any recipes that can be made in a mug in the microwave?

My kids love this method of cooking, and I can’t lie – I’m a writer – I’m at home alone – I love the ease of being able to drop a few ingredients in one of my millions of coffee mugs and have an omelet or French toast when the minutes are up. Tomorrow I will be posting a few Mug in the Microwave Recipes. If you have any to share, please do. I’m on the look out for more – especially that are kid friendly and FRUGAL. :)

Cheesy Rigatoni Bake Recipe

Cheesy Rigatoni Bake Daily Dish RecipesAs is pretty normal for me, I found this recipe in a special edition of a Taste of Home magazine. I modified it a bit, to add to the flavor and it is amazing. This is one of my favorite meals to make a double batch of (sometimes even more) and freeze. It thaws easily, and can just be placed in the refrigerator the night before to thaw.

Freezer Cooking Meals

Cheesy Rigatoni Bake Recipe

1 pkg. (16 oz.) rigatoni noodles or any other large tube pasta
2 Tbs. butter
1/4 c. all-purpose flour
1/2 tsp. salt
2 c. milk
1/4 c. water
4 eggs, lightly beaten
1 (16oz.) can of spaghetti sauce (use garlic or 4 cheese spaghetti sauce for more flavor)
2 c. (8 oz.) mozzarella cheese
1/4 c. grated Parmesan cheese

Cook the pasta according to the package directions. In a small saucepan, melt the butter. Slowly stir in the flour and salt until smooth. Gradually add the milk and the water. Bring it to a boil, cook and stir for 2 minutes until it gets thicker.

Drain the pasta and place it in a large bowl. Add the eggs to the pasta and stir.

Pour the pasta into a 9×13 pan. Layer the top of the noodles with the spaghetti sauce. Sprinkle the mozzarella cheese over the top. Next spoon the white sauce over the cheese. Sprinkle Parmesan cheese over the entire thing.

Bake uncovered for 30-35 minutes at 375 degrees or until a meat thermometer reads 160 degrees.

If you have doubled the recipe, or just want to save this one – it needs to be covered and can be frozen for up to 3 months. When ready to serve, thaw in the refrigerator overnight. Then cover and bake at 375 for 40 minutes. Uncover and bake 7-10 minutes longer or until meat thermometer reads 160 degrees.

—Printable Recipe Below—

Cheesy Rigatoni Bake Recipe
 
Prep time
Cook time
Total time
 
Author:
Serves: 1 casserole
Ingredients
  • 1 pkg. (16 oz.) rigatoni noodles or any other large tube pasta
  • 2 Tbs. butter
  • ¼ c. all-purpose flour
  • ½ tsp. salt
  • 2 c. milk
  • ¼ c. water
  • 4 eggs, lightly beaten
  • 1 (16oz.) can of spaghetti sauce (use garlic or 4 cheese spaghetti sauce for more flavor)
  • 2 c. (8 oz.) mozzarella cheese
  • ¼ c. grated Parmesan cheese
Instructions
  1. Cook the pasta according to the package directions. In a small saucepan, melt the butter. Slowly stir in the flour and salt until smooth. Gradually add the milk and the water. Bring it to a boil, cook and stir for 2 minutes until it gets thicker.
  2. Drain the pasta and place it in a large bowl. Add the eggs to the pasta and stir.
  3. Pour the pasta into a 9×13 pan. Layer the top of the noodles with the spaghetti sauce. Sprinkle the mozzarella cheese over the top. Next spoon the white sauce over the cheese. Sprinkle Parmesan cheese over the entire thing.
  4. Bake uncovered for 30-35 minutes at 375 degrees or until a meat thermometer reads 160 degrees.
  5. If you have doubled the recipe, or just want to save this one – it needs to be covered and can be frozen for up to 3 months. When ready to serve, thaw in the refrigerator overnight. Then cover and bake at 375 for 40 minutes. Uncover and bake 7-10 minutes longer or until meat thermometer reads 160 degrees.

 

Overnight French Toast Casserole Recipe

Overnight French Toast Casserole RecipeThere are so many reasons to love this recipe. First of all, it only takes about 10-15 minutes to prepare it. It is a very frugal recipe and I have been able to use it to use up stale bread, hot dog buns, hamburger buns, etc. and eggs and milk that were about to expire. I love any recipe that combines things that go bad quickly, so I can use them up before they go stale. I also love this recipe, because it can be prepared the day before and refrigerated until the next morning. It is perfect for company or house guests, or even for home parties and brunches. You will be able to enjoy your company, while food is cooking rather than being locked in to the kitchen or having to prepare a bunch of stuff before everyone arrives. It is also a super cheap recipe, and usually all ingredients are on hand at our house.

Overnight French Toast Casserole Recipe

1/2 c. butter or margarine
12 slices of bread or 3 cups of cubed bread (I prefer white, but have made it with whole wheat – doesn’t taste the same)
1 c. brown sugar
1 tsp. cinnamon or baking spice (or you can substitute with pumpkin spice blend which we do often)
1 tsp. vanilla extract
5 eggs
1 1/2 c. milk
1/4-1/2 c. syrup (depending on taste)

Pour melted margarine or butter into a 9×13 baking pan. In a small bowl, mix together the brown sugar and your choice of spice. In a medium bowl, beat together the eggs, milk and vanilla.
In the bottom of your 9×13 baking dish, layer with the first 6 pieces of bread. Sprinkle half of your brown sugar/spice mixture over the bread. Layer the second half of bread on top of this. See the bottom for instructions on using cubed bread. Pour the egg mixture over all of it, and then sprinkle the remaining brown sugar and spice mix. Take your half cup of syrup and drizzle it all over the top of the casserole.

USING CUBED BREAD: If you use cubed bread, I recommend putting in half, sprinkling with half the brown sugar/cinnamon mix and then put in the remaining cubes of bread. Pour the egg mixture over the entire thing and then use the rest of the brown sugar/spice mix on top. Syrup can be drizzled over in the same fashion as above.

Cover and refrigerate overnight. For the record, I have made this a couple of hours before wanting to serve it, and let it refrigerate for only 2-3 hours and that works fine too.
When you are ready to make it, cover with tin foil, and bake for 30 minutes at 350 degrees. Remove the tin foil and continue baking 15 more minutes. The casserole should be browned and set.

When you are ready to serve, you can sprinkle the top with nuts and/or powdered sugar. Serve with warm syrup and fresh fruit for a yummy breakfast.

Overnight French Toast Casserole Recipe
 
Author:
Ingredients
  • ½ c. butter or margarine
  • 12 slices of bread or 3 cups of cubed bread (I prefer white, but have made it with whole wheat – doesn’t taste the same)
  • 1 c. brown sugar
  • 1 tsp. cinnamon or baking spice (or you can substitute with pumpkin spice blend which we do often)
  • 1 tsp. vanilla extract
  • 5 eggs
  • 1½ c. milk
  • ¼-1/2 c. syrup (depending on taste)
Instructions
  1. Pour melted margarine or butter into a 9×13 baking pan. In a small bowl, mix together the brown sugar and your choice of spice. In a medium bowl, beat together the eggs, milk and vanilla.
  2. In the bottom of your 9×13 baking dish, layer with the first 6 pieces of bread. Sprinkle half of your brown sugar/spice mixture over the bread. Layer the second half of bread on top of this. See the bottom for instructions on using cubed bread. Pour the egg mixture over all of it, and then sprinkle the remaining brown sugar and spice mix. Take your half cup of syrup and drizzle it all over the top of the casserole.
  3. USING CUBED BREAD: If you use cubed bread, I recommend putting in half, sprinkling with half the brown sugar/cinnamon mix and then put in the remaining cubes of bread. Pour the egg mixture over the entire thing and then use the rest of the brown sugar/spice mix on top. Syrup can be drizzled over in the same fashion as above.
  4. Cover and refrigerate overnight. For the record, I have made this a couple of hours before wanting to serve it, and let it refrigerate for only 2-3 hours and that works fine too.
  5. When you are ready to make it, cover with tin foil, and bake for 30 minutes at 350 degrees. Remove the tin foil and continue baking 15 more minutes. The casserole should be browned and set.
  6. When you are ready to serve, you can sprinkle the top with nuts and/or powdered sugar. Serve with warm syrup and fresh fruit for a yummy breakfast.

 

 

Looking Back…

I’ve noticed that I am left without much time to blog lately. I think that is mostly because I have a tendency to run myself dry and stretch myself like a rubber band that is about to snap. I wish I could say that it would change and I’d suddenly find myself with all this free time, like maybe when the kids go back to school or something. But yeah, I’m being realistic here and I know that when the kids do go back to school, which is like, pretty much right around the corner – I’m going to be spending my time playing catch up on my writing that has been neglected, and some seriously over due editing on one of the manuscripts that is way too many words for my liking.

See, being the realist I actually am, I can tell you that I will try better. And I will. But that certainly doesn’t mean it will be more often, maybe just more witty? Nah, probably not. And the realist in me, also has been known to utter the words “I will just stop taking on as much.” but even that is ridiculous too, because anyone who knows me knows that I will continue to take everything that comes my way, even if it does mean the aforementioned rubber band is about to snap.

What I can say, is that once the kids go back to school, and I am in more of a routine, I might start posting more. I might be a little witty here and there, and I might find some otherwise unknown to me free time to actually get something I really want to do done, rather than what I need/have to do.

Other than that, be patient. And if you’re hungry, I do have new recipes that go up near daily over on The Daily Dish, so feel free to check that out. I’m also all over the place, so if you want to friend me on twitter or facebook, I’m sure I’ll show up there, more than here. I’m working on fixing that, but in the meantime, don’t give up on me.

Back to School Freezer Cooking Meals

Seems that not everyone is back to school just yet, but in my neck of the woods they returned back on August 11. With the return to the classroom, our schedules have become busy and structured, and not so carefree and easy like the previous summer days we’ve left behind. At school, my kids eat lunch at a wide variety of times – the earliest lunch is 10:40. Can you imagine eating lunch that early? And the latest lunch seems to be around 12:55.

So what this means for me, is that I have to be on my game when it comes to dinner preparation. They come home quite hungry, so I usually have a healthy snack waiting – usually a piece of fruit or some veggie sticks, but we also make homemade granola bars, mini bagels with pizza toppings (homemade – not Bagel Bites, or whatever the gross frozen things are called), soft pretzels, etc. Usually snack consists of whatever recipe I had that I wanted to try out. My guinea pigs come home from school and we taste test for a bit. They love it because they are never sure what they will get, and I love it because it allows me to try out recipes for the blog and for future get togethers.

Depending on the day of the week, we have any number of after school activities including our Fife and Drum corp practice and performances (5), Choir (2), Student Council (1), Art Club (2), NJHS (and volunteer hours) (1), Singing Sensations (think Glee) (3), Horseback Riding (1), Cross Country (1) and Videocasting (1) . (Side note: I have 5 children, this is not all one or two kids schedules – I am not THAT mom. The number following the activity is how many children participate.)

Because of this, I have to have an idea of what dinner will be ahead of time, and plan accordingly. Some nights we eat as early as 4:45pm, because of practice times and driving times. Those evenings, I usually have prepared a snack or dessert to be consumed when we return home from the activity.

Because of this crazy schedule, I find it easiest to Freezer Cook extra meals, snacks, desserts, etc. I try to keep it to once a month cooking, but that really isn’t as practical as it used to be. So now, I might have two cooking sessions a month, with also sometimes just preparing a double meal and freezing the extra.

In honor of the return to school, I plan to post a few of my favorite freezer cooking meals this week. The meals are easy to pull out in the morning and thaw in the fridge all day while you are at work or busy. I usually take mine out the night before, so they have plenty of time to thaw – plus it keeps me organized and ahead of schedule, because I know exactly how long to cook it, etc.

All meals I will share will make a typical double meal. Eat one that night, freeze the other for later. We have a large family, so typically I have to double the double recipe, but sometimes I can just double an ingredient like rice or noodles, or sauce. Either way, I hope you find them useful. Freezer cooking might take some initial getting used to, but once you have done it for awhile, you will realize what a time, energy and money saver it actually is. No more fast food on the way to an activity. Your kids still get a home cooked meal!

What do you do for dinner on the busy days?

Lazy Weekend Food Issues

Do you find yourself eating out more frequently on the weekends than anytime? Sometimes I think the weekends signify “be lazy” time for me. I put forth a ton of effort to be sure that I am preparing meals for my family, but I definitely know that on the weekend, it’s hardest.

We went to the lake today, packed a cooler of drinks, couple of bags of chips, granola bars and for whatever reason we didn’t bring anything else. I giggled because honestly, we would have brought sandwiches with us and stayed there to eat. But we totally didn’t think about it.

We did avoid the temptation to grab something fast, and instead opted to just grill when we got home.

Weekends are the perfect time to use freezer cooked meals, make quick and easy meals, or opt to pop a frozen lasagna into the oven. It still lets you be lazy while eating a great meal.

So what do you wind up doing when the weekend laziness kicks in and you just don’t want to be bothered to cook?

Fast Food Facts

There is a waging war between the fast food industry, the Food Administration and dieters across the nation. On one side, you have those that swear that our obesity problems stem from greasy fast food items, so the fast food restaurants start offering alternative items. On the other side, you have these restaurants that have been serving these foods for decades and are sure that the problem does not stem from that. You make the choices in what you eat, so you should be held responsible. Where do you weigh in on that?

Are you ready for this?

Did you know that the worst breakfast food in America is Carl Jr’s Breakfast Burger. It packs a whopping 830 calories! Not only is this the worst breakfast item, Carl Jr’s might make the worst breakfast menus in America too. There is not one single entrée item that is less than 15 grams of fat. Each item is also more than 400 calories. Wow!

Here are some other interesting facts about fast food:

Many people who are trying to eat healthier or dieting opt for chicken at fast food restaurants, feeling that it is a healthier choice. While it can be in some instance, don’t be fooled. Oh, and grilled is not always better than fried.
– At Jack in the Box the Chipotle GRILLED Chicken Ciabatta packs 1,140 calories for one silly sandwich and a medium order of natural cut fries (do NOT order the curly fries). It has 51 grams of fat! (14 grams of saturated fat)
– At McDonald’s a 20 piece Chicken Nuggets is 840 calories, which is MORE than their Oreo McFlurry at only 820. (wow that’s like 1/3 or your daily allowance and all you got was a shake!)
– Burger King isn’t any better, Burger King’s Double Whopper with Cheese is 1060 calories. Opt for their Burger King Chicken TenderCrisp Sandwich (810 calories) or their Burger King Original Chicken Sandwich (560 calories) and you really are not doing much better. Yikes!
– Arby’s seems like a better alternative? Not so much. Their Arby’s Roast Turkey Ranch & Bacon Sandwich is 880 calories while their Arby’s Roast Chicken Caesar Sandwich is 820. Hmm. Guess turkey and chicken aren’t the healthier meat when you look at the fast food industries standards.
– Long John Silvers is doing a little bit better, as their most caloric item is their Long John Silvers Ultimate Fish Sandwich which is 500 calories.

I hate to say it, but armed with that info, I might never step foot into a fast food restaurant again. Plus, it is still cheaper to eat at home.

Cheap Birthday Party Ideas

Today is my son’s birthday and it’s a big one. But in honor of his birthday, I decided to post a cheap birthday party idea that we have used in past years. We are doing something similar with a little more bang this year since it’s such an important one.

In past years, we have planned a get together with some friends and family that he wanted to celebrate with. This year, he is turning sixteen, so this party is special. However with his age, parties aren’t such a big thing anymore, yet he definitely wants it to be honored.

To save a little money we have planned a picnic at the park.

We are serving sandwiches, a fruit platter (we cut up ourselves), a veggie platter (again we cut up by ourselves), crackers and cheese, chips and dip (the dips are homemade), beans and a variety of other inexpensive, yet perfect for picnic foods.

We also opted for cupcakes instead of a birthday cake to cut down on wasted cake (or having not purchased enough) and the cost difference was really noticeable. He loved the idea, because we were able to do chocolate, white and yellow. This gives everyone a choice. People don’t think twice about eating one cupcake, but try cutting them a piece of cake that small and you are sure to hear a little whining.

Doing a picnic birthday party is a really great way to save some money and do a cheap birthday while still making the day extra special for the birthday person.

What do you guys do to save money on birthday parties?

(Oh, we made all the decorations with the exception of a few that we bought from various dollar stores – they are reusable too!)

Happy 16th Birthday Ryan! I love you! ~Mom