Sunday, September 27, 2009

From the Kitchen....Grilled Bacon Wrapped Shrimp & Chicken

All summer long I had this craving for grilled shrimp. My husband doesn't like shrimp, unfortunately, but when his younger brother Weston came to visit, I jumped on the opportunity! I mean, how can anything wrapped in bacon be bad? I found this great marinade recipe and mostly followed it:

What You Need:
-11-12 strips of bacon
-1 lb 22-24 ct shrimp or 1 lb chicken breast tenders
-1/2 cup soy sauce
-1/2 cup olive oil
-1/4 cup Soy Vay Island Teriaki Sauce
-zest and juice of two limes (or you can add in some lemon juice instead)
-1 tbs brown sugar
-4 cloves garlic (or use garlic salt instead of regular salt)
-1 tbs minced ginger (we used ground ginger)
-salt and pepper

What You Need to Do:
1. I bought peeled and deveined shrimp, but if you don't...first step is to peel and devein.
2. Mix the marinade in a giant zip lock bag and add in the shrimp or chicken.
3. Let the marinade and meat sit in the refrigerator for at least 20 minutes.
4. While the marinade is sitting, partially cook the bacon (I microwaved it for half of necessary time)
5. After at least 20 minutes, take the marinade bag out and begin to skewer the meat. For the shimp, we wrapped half a piece of bacon around each shrimp. For the chicken tender, we folded it in half or thirds and wrapped an entire piece of bacon around it.
6. When you place the meat on the skewer, I recommend using two skewers for the same piece of chicken or shrimp so the bacon stays on the meat and also so the meat doesn't rotate on the skewer.

7. Warm up the grill and then place the skewers on the grill.
8. Brush additional marinade onto the meat after you put it on the grill and again when you turn the skewers over. When we made chicken we also skewered some pineapple and brushed the marinade on it too - it was very tasty!

9. Cook until done (the bacon should be crispy and the meat obviously cooked through).
10. Enjoy!

Friday, September 25, 2009

From the Kitchen....Macaroons

The day I discovered coconut macaroons from Trader Joe's was a great day. Actually, I believe my business school roommate Bethany introduced the wonders of them to me - 100 macaroons and 1 million calories all for about $4. Could life be better? Then I loved to St. Louis and for some reason Trader Joe's stopped carrying them. So, my husband suggested I make my own. (Genius!) They were super easy and crazy delicious.

What You Need:

4 Large Egg Whites at Room Temperature
1 Cup White Sugar
1/4 Teaspoon Salt
1 Teaspoon Vanilla
1/2 Cup Cake Flour, Sifted
3 Cups Sweetened Shredded Coconut

What You Need to Do:

In a stainless steel bowl, placed over a saucepan of simmering water, whisk together the egg whites, sugar, and salt. When this mixture is warm to the touch, and nice and creamy, remove from heat and stir in the vanilla extract, flour, and coconut. Cover and refrigerate for about one hour, or until firm.

Preheat oven to 325 degrees F and line two baking sheets with parchment paper (not to be confused with wax paper...believe me you only need to make that mistake once as you take out the burning piece of paper and the smoke alarm is blaring.)

Place small mounds (about 1 tablespoon) of the batter on the parchment-lined baking sheet, spacing several inches apart. Bake for about 15 to 20 minutes or until golden brown. Remove from oven and let cool on the baking sheet for about 10 minutes and then place on a wire rack to cool.

Makes about 2 dozen Macaroons.

*Recipe courtesy of Joy of Baking

To make my macaroons a little more "Au Bon Pain"ish I dipped some of them in chocolate half way. I melted a mixture of baking chocolate and milk chocolate in the microwave and dipped away.

For an added touch, I melted some white baking chocolate and drizzled it on top of the milk. I made a mess doing this...but they turned out quite pretty and very delicious. My one comment about the entire order is the chocolate did not harden very well. I stuck them in the fridge and that helped, but honestly I think I should have used a mixture of chocolate and paraffin wax like they do in candy making....definitely going to look more into this.

Wednesday, September 23, 2009

Lucky in Love

One of my readers (and I realize there's only like 3 of you out there) has requested a posting on being a bridesmaid, as she is about to be one herself! I was extremely honored to be a bridesmaid recently for my best friend from high school, Sheila. I had amazingly wonderful bridemaids (including Sheila!) so now I was so glad to have the opportunity to return the favor. One of my fabulous responsibilities included planning and hosting the bachelorette party! Now Sheila is as Irish as can be (complete with red hair, an Irish first, middle and last name, and a graduate and obcessive fan of Notre Dame) so I chose the theme "Lucky in Love." I planned on incorporating shamrocks wherever possible which led to this cute little invitation.

I used a shamrock punch to let the green paper show through plus a little jewel for some bachelorette bling. I stuffed them in pink envelopes and sealed them with the sticker shown above. For decorations I stuck with the pink and green theme including the cake, flowers, napkins, plates, tableclothes and you guessed it....Japanese laterns (I'm a bit obcessed). The cake was beautiful but as you can see describing the pink I was going for to the cake person on the phone hundreds of miles away is more difficult than I thought. was more of a purple. Still cute and delicious though!

For the lingerie party we first played a quiz game where all of the ladies tried to answer questions about the groom. We sent a list of questions to the groom (without Sheila knowing) and played the game with his responses. For those of you planning a party in the future....some of my favorite questions are:

1. Where were you (the groom) born?
2. What is your favorite color?
3. What was your first pet?
4. If you could visit one place in the world, where would it be?
5. What was your favorite class in undergrad?
6. What was your nickname as a kid?
7. What is your favorite color for (Bride's name) to wear?
8. What is your favorite part of (Bride's) body?
9. What are you looking forward most to about married life?
10. What was the name of your first girlfriend?
11. When did you know that Sheila was the one?
12. Where was your first kiss with (Bride)?
13. What was your first impression of (Bride) when you met her?
14. If you could have a dream car ($ is no object) what would it be?
15. Do you want pets? What kind of animal?
16. How many kids do you want to have?
17. What is your favorite food?
18. What is your favorite song?
19. What is your pet name for (Bride)?
20. What is (Bride's) pet name for you?
21. What is your idea of the perfect date?

After the quiz, was the grand gift opening! I bought some clothesline (pink, of course) and hung it up in the living room so as Sheila opened each gift, she could hang it up for display! Ooo, la la!

Also, I stole a very cute idea from my sister-in-law's shower, and we made the Groom a "Honeymoon Menu." After each gift was opened, we thought of a food that described each "outfit" and so on the honeymoon, the groom could pick his dessert. :)
Later in the planning stages, I found out that the Bride-to-Be wanted to celebrate her last days of single-dom by going to a western dancing club about one mile from my house. Despite the very close proximity, we had never been here....probably b/c we left Tulsa before we were 21. So....I decided to make this a multi-themed event. :P Shamrocks for the lingerie party with a swift transition to Cowgirls Night Out. Eh, why not! Two themes for the price of one. To properly outfit the attendees, I went to Party City, where I must say, I was shocked to find an entire line of Cowgirl themed bachelorette gear. I got sheriff badges, bandanas that said "Party Crew," a "Most Wanted" garter and the most amazing hat, modeled below by the bride herself. Hott.

Everyone got cowgirl and we looked amazing. Yee haw. From there we headed off for a night of dancing (ladies night!) at Caravan Cattle Co.

Other than that, as a bridesmaid, I assembled and delivered adorable welcome gift bags (Notre Dame and wedding colors) complete with Advil, a CD of songs about Oklahoma and yummy goodies, set up a photobooth at the wedding reception, took tons of photos of every possible moment, arranged the video taping of the ceremony (thanks to my great husband!), attended bridal showers and an amazing 80s themed bachelorette party in Chicago, gave fabulous presents and cried as Sheila walked down the aisle. :) She was absolutely beautiful. Now that I have been both a bridesmaid and a bride....I think the most important duty as a bridesmaid is to make sure the bride knows you are there for her - call often, send cards and ask questions. She'll want to talk about everything - it is her big day afterall! :D And it is sooooo much fun.