Lemon Garlic Shrimp

It took me 18 1/2 years to wear him down, but I finally got my way. I've been wanting a camper like this one since my teenagers were babies. My sweetie broke down a few weeks ago and bought me one.

For those of you who have been around for a few years, you will remember our first camper. It was a good baby step for my hubby so he could see the advantages of campers over tents. I consider this new camper another baby step for him. You see, my retirement dream is to buy a huge honkin' RV and drive all over the country visiting grandbabies. He still thinks I'm crazy, but I have 25 years yet to change his mind!
Our first camping trip in the new camper was just me and my sweetie. We left the kids at home and enjoyed a couple days to ourselves. As I mentioned a few posts ago, we are on a diet so our normal camping fare wouldn't cut it this time. I knew I wanted shrimp, so I created this recipe and boy were they a home run!
When cooking with shrimp, I prefer to use ones with the shell still on because the end result is more moist since the shell offers a bit of protection. Plus, you get to use your hands while eating and lick all the delicious sauce from your fingers in between bites! Be sure not to buy shrimp that are already cooked (If they are pink, they are cooked. If they are grey, they are raw). If you try this recipe with pre-cooked shrimp, you will end up with tough meat that won't take on the flavor of the sauce.

Garlic Lemon Shrimp
1 pound jumbo shrimp, raw with shell still on - do not get the shrimp that are already cooked!
1 lemon, zested then cut in half
2 garlic cloves, minced
1 green onion, chopped
canola oil
salt and pepper

1. Pat your shrimp dry with paper towels. Heat a very large skillet over high heat until very hot. Add enough canola oil to lightly coat the bottom of the pan. Your oil should smoke slightly if your pan is hot enough.
2. Add the shrimp and stir. Once the shrimp are about half way pink, add the garlic, zest, green onion, juice of half the lemon, salt and pepper. Continue to cook and stir the shrimp until they are completely pink all over and have curled up. Do not over-cook your shrimp or they will be very tough.
3. Remove from the heat and add the remaining juice from the other half of the lemon and put shrimp on a serving dish.

No Bake Chocolate & Peanut Butter Oatmeal Bars

Minnesota is known for many things such as the beautiful land of 10,000 lakes, mind boggling long and cold winters, Garrison Kiellor, and our family favorite, the Twins.

What we are not known for are summer days so hot and humid that all outdoor activities, sports and recreation are put on hold. So hot and humid, even while sitting in a pool, you can't stop sweating. So hot and humid, it actually makes you wonder how many more weeks until winter.
This past week has been complete torture for us Minnesotans. We can take -30 degrees like it is nothing but heat indexes of 115 - 120 degrees completely ruin us. I am one who will take the cold any day over what we have experienced this week. (Please remind me of this about halfway through February when I can't take another day of Minnesota winter!)

To put it nicely, there is no way in h-e-double-hockey-sticks I was going to turn on the oven in my home. I began searching for a new no-bake cookie recipe and came upon this gem. Nothing but some bowls in the microwave required!

The original recipe calls for chocolate wafers, but the three stores in my town do not carry them, so in a moment of desperation, I substituted chocolate Teddy Grahams. If you try it with the original ingredient, please let me know how they turned out. My kids absolutely loved these bars and they are so pretty to boot!
No Bake Chocolate & Peanut Butter Oatmeal Bars
adapted from marthastewart.com
9 ounces chocolate wafers, finely ground into 2 cups
(These were nowhere to be found in my small town so I used chocolate Teddy Grahams!)
1 1/2 C old fashioned oats
1 1/4 C powdered sugar
1/4 tsp salt
1/2 C + 2 Tb unsalted butter
1 C chunky peanut butter
3/4 C smooth peanut butter
1 3/4 C semisweet chocolate chips
1 (1.5 ounce) Hersheys milk chocolate bar
3 Tb smooth peanut butter

1. Lightly spray the inside of a 9 x 13 cake pan. Combine waters, oats, sugar and salt in a large bowl. Melt butter in a medium bowl in the microwave bowl for 1 minute. Add the chunky peanut butter and the 3/4 C creamy peanut butter and whisk until smooth. Add the mixture to the wafer mixture and stir until combined. (I used my hands at the end to get it completely mixed).
2. Press the mixture into the cake pan evenly then refrigerate for 30 minutes. Melt the chocolate chips in the microwave for 1 minute then stir. If needed, microwave for another 20 or 30 seconds to completely melt. Spread onto the cooled bars in an even layer. Refrigerate again for 15-20 minutes until chocolate is firm.
3. Microwave the remaining creamy peanut butter for 45 seconds until it is runny. Drizzle over the bars. Do the same with the milk chocolate and drizzle over the peanut butter. Refrigerate until hardened, about 30 minutes.
4. To cut, warm your knife in hot water, then wipe off the water. Use the hot knife to cut through the chocolate easily.

Homemade Fudgsicles

It is time I come clean with you. I've been hiding a secret from my blog family and I can't hide anymore. My name is Carole and I am on a diet.

You see, a few weeks ago I realized that my baby girl was not really much of a baby anymore, but yet I looked as if I just gave birth a few weeks ago. That finally became unacceptable to me.

So far, I am down 31 pounds and honestly, I'm ticked at myself that it took me so long to get back into shape after having baby #6. I am such a happier, more outgoing person when I take care of myself.
For now, I have completely eliminated sugar from my life. It is only temporary, but it is what works for me. Currently, my salvation is sugar free fudgsicles. Honestly, I think I would die without them.

With six kids and a hungry husband, I can't tell you how often I go into my freezer to find my treasured box empty. INFURIATING!! My house always has some form of cookie, cake, ice cream or treat to choose from so LEAVE MY ONE TREAT ALONE!

In defense of my treasured sugar free fudgsicles, I am now making everyone else their own so they will leave mine alone. It is a complete success because they devour these and mine are still there when I need my chocolate fix.
I like that these are fat free and if you aren't a fan of corn syrup, you can leave it out, but your end result will be more icy and not as smooth. I found these molds at Wal-mart for $3, but you can always use disposable cups wrapped in foil and poke them with a stick.
Homemade Fudgsicles
(makes 10-12 pops)
2 C low fat or skim milk
1/2 C cocoa powder (I will use 1/3 C next time, the kids thought they were a bit too rich)
2/3 C sugar
2 Tb corn syrup
1 tsp vanilla extract

1. In a medium saucepan, combine milk, cocoa, sugar and corn syrup. Whisk together and heat over medium-high heat until it simmers, stirring frequently. This takes about 10-15 minutes so be patient and keep stirring.
2. Remove from the heat and add the vanilla. Pour hot liquid into your molds and freeze overnight.

Pizza Sticks

Since we are a family of 8, it is a very rare occasion for us to fly somewhere. If we flew, we would have no money for vacation when we got there! We drive everywhere. Seriously. We consider a 16-18 hour road trip nothing and easily done in one day.

You should be further impressed when you understand that there is no form of movies/tv for our kids to watch in the van. Mainly, they just read, listen to music and sleep....with the occasional "He's touching me!!" thrown in so God can test my patience.
We just returned from our family vacation in the beautiful mountains of Park City, Utah. It was a 16 hour drive to get there and as always, my biggest concern was what to eat in the car. I know the easiest option is to hit a drive-thru, but our family gave up on eating that stuff awhile ago. My kids are tired of eating sandwiches in the car, so I wanted to come up with something fun that would be a treat at the end of a very long day!
I made them these pizza sticks for dinner in the car and they were a huge hit. I didn't make them with any sauce (because I prefer the inside of my car clean), but you could easily add a little sauce on the inside of the rolls and whatever type of toppings you like on a pizza. Use your creativity and go wild!

My other new experiment for this trip was what I kindly titled "The Box of Carbs." I packaged all my kids favorite snack foods in snack sized ziploc bags and stowed them in a copy paper box behind the driver's seat. When someone wanted a snack, or needed a distraction, I tossed them a bag. The first snacks to go were the double batch of my homemade granola bars followed closely behind with rice crispie treats. It was a huge success and I will definitely be using my Box of Carbs in a few weeks on my 16 hour drive to Ohio.
Pizza Sticks
(makes about 28-34 sticks)
1 recipe pizza dough (here is my favorite)
1 lb mozzarella cheese, cut into sticks (I use low-fat cheese)
1 package pepperoni (I use turkey pepperoni)

1. Preheat oven to 450 degrees and lightly spray two cookie sheets with oil.
2. Roll out 1/2 of the dough until it is thin. Cut into rectangles big enough to place two pieces of pepperoni and a hunk of cheese. See my example above!
3. Fold in the short ends of the dough first, then the long sides. Pinch together well, or you will lose a lot of cheese when they bake. Place on greased sheet. Repeat for the remaining dough. Allow to rise about 15 minutes.
4. Bake until golden brown, about 12 minutes.