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June 22, 2013

Casserole for Dinner

Travis likes spam. You would think that he wouldn't, since he's not Hawaiian. You would think that I would, since I grew up in the South and on a budget. But it's the opposite. He likes it so much that he orders it off of menus, and I think it tastes just like it smells, which if you ask me is very reminiscent of cat food.

But a housebear aims to please and so last night I made a new recipe I found in the Costco cookbook called Pizza SPAM Casserole. I believe that this can also be found on the SPAM website.

Pizza SPAM Casserole

  • 16oz (uncooked) elbow macaroni
  • 12oz SPAM® Classic, cubed
  • 4oz Pepperoni, cubed or sliced into bite-sized pieces
  • 1 onion, chopped finely
    • (I only used half an onion and I thought it was the perfect amount)
  • 16oz pizza sauce
  • 4 cups shredded mozzarella cheese, divided
  • 1/4C grated Parmesan or Romano cheese

- Heat oven to 350ºF.
-Cook macaroni according to package directions; drain.
-In skillet, sauté SPAM® Classic, pepperoni and onion until lightly browned.
-In large bowl, combine cooked macaroni, SPAM® mixture, and pizza sauce. Slowly stir in 3 cups mozzarella cheese.
-In casserole, place macaroni mixture; sprinkle with remaining mozzarella cheese and the Parmesan cheese. Bake 45 minutes.

I also crunched up some Ritz crackers for the top so it would have kind of a pizza crust type taste. I imagine using Italian seasoned bread crumbs would be even better. I assembled the casserole ahead of time and popped it in the oven 45 minutes before dinner. It worked wonderfully. Travis and Caleb liked it very much. Travis said he would like another SPAM casserole, but with macaroni and cheese instead of pizza flavor next time. The recipe says it serves six, but the three of us had more than half left over.

June 21, 2013

Wedding Under $2,500.00 - The Caterer

We knew right from the beginning that we wanted to have a BBQ for our wedding menu. At first, looking for a caterer was awesome! We went to every BBQ restaurant and every Hawaiian restaurant and cart within 25 miles of our home. If you're wanting to know which was the best I'll tell you as a side note. Goldies BBQ in Vancouver, WA is the best BBQ. Noho's Hawaiian in Portland, OR and Da Kine Cafe in Vancouver, WA are the best Hawaiian places around.

But I digress. Although they are very affordable places to dine, the catering menus were outside of our budge. I was struggling to get the food that I wanted for under $10 a person. That's when I approached my mom. These were my questions.

Can you make a BBQ dinner for 100 people at or under $10 per person? Are you willing to work the food station for the wedding? Will that ruin your experience of my wedding?"

Mom came back with the answer that she could make a BBQ dinner for 100 people at $6.00 a person, and if she had some help, it would be just fine for her to spend 2 hours of the reception serving food. This was awesome news! And since Travis's mom was the cook at the Police Station, she is just the kind of help my mom was looking for. With their food-service know-how it should be a cinch for them. My Aunt will be visiting for the Summer and she is also willing to help. Everything will be set up buffet style and with all the help everything should go smoothly on the wedding day.

Here is the menu:

  • Pulled Pork Sandwiches
  • Hotdogs
  • Coleslaw
  • Potato Salad
  • Pasta Salad
  • Baked Beans
  • Sliced Watermelon
  • Iced Tea
  • Punch

It's pretty much the same menu we were going to use when our budget was much higher; slightly tweaked.

For dessert we are using the wedding cake. It seems obvious, but some people don't do that. My sister can make some mini cheesecakes for about $1 each. If we can get the price down to .50 each by buying in bulk, and I have enough left over in my budget, I might add those to the dessert menu.

I am also trying to trim down the cost of the wedding menu by asking a few people to bring menu items as potluck dishes. The punch is being made by my Bridesmaid, and my future mother-in-law is making both the potato salad and the pasta salad. Hopefully that is enough to make a dent in the cost.

June 20, 2013

Wedding Under $2,500.00 - The DJ

I kept holding out hope that I would be able to afford a DJ. Even with the savings I had with the dress and alterations, I still don't have enough for a quality DJ. I have enlisted the help of my youngest brother who is very computer and music savvy - a great combination.

Meet my DJ

I have spent at least 3 days loading this bad boy up with songs and separating them into playlists. My playlists are numbered and labeled so they will be easy for my brother to identify.

  • WED1 - Prelude
    • 5 songs
    • 16 minutes
  • WED2 - Processional
    • 1 song
    • 3 minutes
  • WED3 - Bride Entrance
    • 1 song
    • 4 minutes
  • WED4 - You May Now Kiss The Bride
    • 1 song
    • 4 minutes
  • WED5 - First Dance
    • 1 song
    • To Be Determined
  • WED6 - Reception
    • Currently 39 songs
    • Currently 2.2 hours
    • Needs to be doubled at least

Creating the playlists aren't difficult, but they are time consuming. And since I have been listening to love songs for 3 days straight, and working them into my wedding, I have been nonstop teary-eyed. It turns out that I didn't have enough love songs or wedding appropriate songs in my music collection already and so I have been on the search for songs that I hadn't thought of or don't own. I have been using Pandora internet radio for that. I created a station called "wedding music" and it is working great. Some of the songs are a little sappy for my tastes, but there are a lot of great ideas and wonderful songs that I have either heard for the first time or been reminded of. I wish that I could skip songs more frequently though. I may upgrade to the ad-free version just for a month so I can get through the songs a little faster.

So far this is proving to be a real money saver. By the time we get to the reception, my brother will be able to put the last playlist on shuffle and join the party. Pretty sweet deal!

June 18, 2013

Wedding under $2,500.00 - The dress

I bought my wedding dress! I paid a whopping $89.00 for it. It fits perfect and doesn't need any alterations. I bought it off the rack so it will need a clean and a steam.

What's my secret for the inexpensive wedding gown? I bought a bridesmaid dress! The consultant at David's Bridal said that it is sold more as a wedding gown than as a bridesmaid dress, and I can see why. It's an ivory color, that most Brides probably wouldn't want their bridesmaids to wear. It's very subtle and informal, which is perfect for our weekday afternoon wedding in the park!

June 16, 2013

Wedding under $2,500 - the venue

It turns out that the $6,000 wedding is a little too rich for my blood. I am scaling it back over 50% and doing the wedding for $2,500.

I have reserved a charming little picnic shelter at a local park for $100. The rental is good from 7am the day of the even until dusk when the park closes. It is in a secluded area, near parking, and it looks like its made of Lincoln logs. I like the look of it a lot more than a grange hall because it gives us the "barn wedding" feel we were looking for without the steep price.

The restrooms are near, but behind a line of trees so they won't be in any of the pictures. And I saved so much on the location that we are getting a bouncy house for the kids!

I am also paying $20 for a permit from the county to have a special event in the park. That covers the wedding, reception, and the bouncy house. It even lets us have a champagne toast when alcohol usually isn't allowed in the park, but we haven't decided if we are begging to take advantage did that yet.

Wedding under $2,500. Oh yes, I think I will.

Sociable

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