Archive | summerYUM

good ol’ camping fun {CAMPING TIPS~PART TWO}

Here are a few more tips for camping that I am hopeful will help make your experience more fun! If you missed yesterday’s Camping Tips PART ONE check it out!
::camp cooking::As I mentioned yesterday {but I will say it again}prep for your meals at home {if possible}. Plan out your menu down to the snacks. Plan to cook your most perishable foods the first part of your trip {so if you are having salmon…make it the first night and canned chili…make it the last night}. My goals is that whatever can be done ahead should be done and zip-locked before it goes in to the cooler/food bin. Make sure to write out your menu & your shopping list down to the last detail and be sure to check your lists twice. And remember, you do not have to pack light {unless you have a small car}.

::how i set up my camp kitchen::
I set up the prep area {utensils and cutting board} & stove for my camp kitchen in the same zone. I put it at the end of the picnic table or on a separate table. To make the cooking as easy as possible I hang a trash bag, keep a large bottle of water {with a spout} close by, set my utensils up in a basket & keep my camping bin with all the extras close by. We try to hang paper towel rolls and clothes pins on a rope nearby. There are a bunch of tricks for this kind of thing so do your homework or just do what makes sense to you. Just be sure to make this is set up easy to clean and keep tidy {see my notes below about animals}.


::must-have’s for a camp kitchen::
good stove
fuel for stove
pots & pans
salt & pepper
basic pantry items {depending on your menu}
basic utensils {such as wooden spoons & spatula’s}
a good knife or two
cutting boards
paper towels
zip-lock bags
tea kettle {for cooking and for heating water to wash dishes}
rags/sponges {for clean-up}
dish soap {biodegradable}
container for washing dishes
dish towels/sponges/rags
rope for hanging towels to dry
citronella candle to keep the bugs at bay

::camping menu ideas::


  • Cereal, Milk & Fruit
  • Instant Oatmeal {store-bought packs or proportioned at home} & Fruit

More Complicated but Delish:

  • Pancakes, Bacon & Eggs
  • Omelets {with leftover veggies & cheese from the night before} & Hash Browns {store bought}
  • Breakfast Burritos {with leftover cheese, hash browns, salsa, guacamole, sour cream, bacon and large flour tortillas}
  •  Orange Cinnamon Rolls


  • Sandwiches, Chips {individual bags} & Fruit/Veggies
  • Quesadillas with Salsa & Guacamole {Add beans, chicken and or leftover Fajita meet and veggies chopped up} {For basic quesadillas you just need flour or corn tortillas and cheese…large flour tortillas are great for breakfast burritos the next day…add Spanish rice to the menu if you have enough time to make it that night but you will need more time than you think}

More Complicated but Delish:

  • Salads/Sandwiches w/chips & fruit/veggies {bring deli meat or use leftover protein from the night before such as steak, salmon or fajita chicken}
  • *Orzo Pasta Salad {make at home to bring} or Potato Salad {Store Bought or Pre-made at home to bring}


  • Canned Chilli w/ cornbread {store-bought or pre-made at home} or w/ Frito’s/corn chips {great with pre-shredded cheese & onions chopped or sliced plus sour cream}
  • Protein {such as *Flank Steak, Salmon or *Chicken Breasts} w/ Potatoes or Corn on the Cob & Garlic Bread {the Lipton soup dry mix box comes with a great onion potato roasting recipe that we often use and it comes with two packs so we use the other for some onion soup dip…make it in a large foil pack and put on the fire-pit grill…yum. Corn can be cooked in the husks on the grill or boiled in a large stock pot on the camping stove. Also, garlic bread can be bought in a foil bag and put on the grill or make your own and be sure to wrap in foil before putting on the grill}{see pics below for how we made this meal w/ salmon}
  • Pasta w/ pre-made sauce {make *Panfi’s Pasta Sauce or *Katrina’s Spicy Sauce at home or bring your favorite store bought sauce and then you just have to cook noodles and heat all together} & Garlic Bread & Salad {grab a pre-made bag salad such as Ceaser}
  • Hamburgers & Hot Dogs w/ all the fixin’s along with chips and baked beans and/or potatoes

More Complicated but Delish:

  • Fajitas w/ with Salsa, Guacamole, Tortillas & Spanish Rice {chop & marinate the chicken or steak, peppers & onions at home if possible}
  • Veggie & Meat Kabobs over rice {chop/prep & marinate the chicken, shrimp or steak at home if possible} {we like to add peppers, mushrooms, pineapple, zucchini & onions to our kabobs. Some people have each person make their own kabobs and eat their own while others make them family style buy grilling a large batch of skewers and scraping all the cooked meat and veggies onto a large platter of rice}
  • *Mama Morse’s Prize Winning Chili {bring a home-made version like this one} w/ cornbread {if you don’t want buy store-bought or pre-make cornbread from home you can try skillet cornbread with an iron skillet but again you may need a lot of time for this and make sure to bring all the ingredients necessary to make it} {great with pre-shredded cheese & onions chopped or sliced plus sour cream}
  • *Mexican Mountains {one of our family favorites}


  • Store-bought Pretzels
  • Store-bought Pub Mix
  • Store-bought BBQ Potato Chips
  • Chips & Salsa
  • Store-bought Popcorn {or premade at home}
  • Store-bought Cookies {such as Oreos}
  • Trail Mix
  • Fruit/Veggies {pre-washed and chopped if possible}
  • Watermelon
  • S’mores {OF COURSE}

More Complicated but Delish:

  • *Stove-Top Popcorn {a great thing to make when the stove is first on…to curb hungry appetite’s while making the rest of dinner}
  • Homemade cookies or bars such as brownies {pre-made ahead}
  • Onion Dip or Hummus & Veggies
  • *Road Trip Chick Dip or *Roasted Red Pepper & Basil Dip {make at home to bring} w/ chips and veggies for dipping
  • Apples & Peanut/Almond Butter
  • Celery Sticks & Tuna prepared to your liking

*don’t forget to grind your coffee at home*

*a few dinner options*
 *s’more set-up*
::divide and conquer meals with friends::
If you are going with friends or other families it can really lighten the load to split up meals. We have done this several ways. One family did all breakfasts, one did all lunches and we traded off on the dinners. Or you can have each family do their own breakfasts and lunch {sharing what is left on the last day} and trade off who cooks per night. You can rotate cooking and cleaning too {one family cooks and one cleans up} or something along those lines. However you decide to do it is fine…but I’m telling you it can really make things fun and more simply knowing you don’t have to cook and clean up every meal.::don’t forget about packing-up the food at night::Depending on the kind of animals in the area you are in be sure to clean up your camp kitchen really well at night. Each camping area will give you specifics about what this looks like. In some areas there are special food lockers and trash bins to keep out the animals {like bears} and in other areas putting everything back in the car and just making sure trash is in normal camp dumpsters/bins works. Be sure to check it out when you get there so you don’t learn the hard way by allowing a raccoon party outside your tent while you are asleep!

Hope these tips help…and you come home Happy Campers!


cooking with fresh HERBS

{here are a few of my favorite recipes that include fresh HERBS…yum}
::Grilled Chicken with Herbs::
fresh herbs
EVOO or canola oil
garlic, salt & pepper

Take your favorite cut of chicken (for this I prefer boneless/skin-less breasts) and slather it with oil (ExtraVirginOliveOil), garlic, salt & pepper and fresh herbs.  My favorite combo for this is rosemary, basil and sage…but just use whatever you have on hand…thyme or dill would be great too.  Let the chicken and herbs marinade as long as you can (at least 30 minutes) but no longer than 24 hours.  Grill…indoors on a grill pan or outdoors on a BBQ (being sure to leave the herbs on the chicken when possible).  The herbs will crisp up and add a nice flavor as you eat it.

Serve with your favorite sides or even room temperature next to a huge salad! This is one of my favorite ways to grill chicken & a great left over for wraps or chicken salad the next day! Enjoy!

I talked about this recipe {pictured above} last 4th of July.
I also used it for a baby shower {pictured below} a few years ago. We made it the night before & served it cut up {room temperature} along side of Aunt Ev’s Strawberry Salad & a variety of delicious bread. It was filling & tasty!

::Home-made Croutons::

For these easy and yummy croutons I simply cut up some bread of choice (or whatever I have on hand), toss the bread lightly with EVOO (ExtraVirginOliveOil)and sprinkle with fresh herbs (such as rosemary) and salt & pepper. I bake them on a sheet pan in a 400 degree oven for about 10 minutes or until toasted.If I am making more than one dish in the oven, I actually just pop these in at whatever temperature the oven is already on and adjust the time based on the temp {if it is a lower temp I add time and if it’s a higher temp I set the timer for about 5 minutes and go from there}. You will smell them when they are done!

These are perfect on soups or salads! Good luck not burning them (I’ve done that a few times too)!



The Blog Days of Summer {4TH OF JULY FUN}!

Here is how we spent our 4th this year!
It was lovely and lazy…my kind of holiday!
And of course I have to talk about the food! We had Summer Shirley’s*, Macho Salad*, Potatoes, Steaks and Herb Crusted Chicken*! Dessert was a mix of berries with angel food cake & whipped cream!

*For my SUMMER SHIRLEY TEMPLE DRINK I just added a splash of grenadine to ginger-ale, along with cherries, blueberries & star shaped ice cubes to make it festive!
*I’ll have to show you how I make my Herb Crusted Chicken sometime soon. As long as you have a BBQ it’s always in season!

*If you have never had this “Macho Salad” you must! I wish I could take credit for the recipe but it comes from the restaurant Bandera! A….MAZE….ING!


Here are a few of my favorite Zucchini recipes before summerYUM officially ends…enjoy!

::Chocolate Zucchini Cake::
  • 1 medium zucchini or 2 small (grated)
  • 1 box of chocolate cake mix (I used gluten-free)
  • muffin cup liners if making cupcakes
1. Grate the zucchini and pat with a towel to get rid of some of the extra moisture.
2. Make cake according to the box directions (adjusting the water slightly so that it’s not too wet; I reduced the water by half) and fold in the zucchini.
3. Scoop the batter into the muffin cup liners (i used a mini muffin tin and a regular size) and bake according to the packaged directions. Enjoy!
*This ended up being a great snack to make with the kids. They filled the muffin cups, helped grate the zucchini and even helped scoop the batter into the mini muffin cups with a melon-baller. I also set out to get the kids into zucchini by helping. I told Paige that she would not be able to taste the zucchini in the chocolate but she was very skeptical.  When she finally tasted them she told me I was right and that she loved the cupcakes…mission accomplished!

::Zucchini Fritters::
  • 1 small zucchini (grated)
  • 1/2 cup flour (or almond meal*)
  • 1 egg
  • 1 green onion (chopped)
  • 1 tablespoon cilantro (chopped, or parsley)
  • salt and pepper to taste
  • 2 tablespoons oil
1. Mix the zucchini, flour (or almond meal), egg, green onions, cilantro, salt and pepper in a bowl.
2. Heat the oil in a pan.
3. Spoon zucchini mix into pan & cook until golden brown on both sides, about 4 min per side. Enjoy!
*I used the almond meal because I’m trying to explore gluten-free options in our diet. It came out great!

 ::Zucchini, Eggplant & Polenta Towers::
  • 1 medium zucchini (sliced)
  • 1 medium eggplant (sliced)
  • pre-cooked polenta (sliced)
  • marinara sauce of choice
  • salt & pepper
  • canola oil or EVOO
  • basil (optional)
  • parmesan cheese (optional)
1. Slice the zucchini, eggplant and polenta to the same thickness (about 1/4″) and saute in oil until all are cooked. Pat on a paper towel if desired.
2. Meanwhile heat marinara sauce on the stove and keep warm.
3. Layer the cooked zucchini, eggplant and polenta; stacking them one by one. Drizzle marinara over stack and garnish with cheese and basil if desired! Enjoy!
And finally, I wish I could take credit for this amazing Zucchini Bread Recipe, but it’s Paula Deans. There are no words to describe how great it tastes!  Check it out HERE!

jen’s favorite dessert {Ice Cream Pudding Dessert}

This delicious Ice Cream Pudding Dessert has been my sisters favorite for years! The directions are simple and the taste is scrumptious! It takes a few steps of layers and you are all set! This is not a very detailed recipe so check out the pictures of each step to get a better idea! Enjoy!
Start with the crust.  Combine the following ingredients and press into a 9×13 pan:
1 (1/2) cups graham cracker crumbs
1/4 cup sugar
1/4 cup melted butter
Next blend together the pudding & the milk. Once combined add the ice cream & layer the mixture on top of the graham cracker crust:
2 large INSTANT vanilla pudding packs
2  (2/3) cup milk
1 quart of chocolate ice cream
Finally add a large container of thawed cool whip on top and sprinkle with sliced almonds (these are optional but add texture and color…if you have time I think they taste better toasted). Be sure to chill immediately if you will not be eating it right away. Hope you love it as much as our family!
The only problem with this dessert is that it will not last long.
  • 1 (1/2) cups graham cracker crumbs
  • 1/4 cup sugar
  • 1/4 cup melted butter
  • 2 large INSTANT vanilla pudding packs
  • 2 (2/3) cup milk
  • 1 quart of chocolate ice cream
  • large cool whip container (be sure to thaw in time)
  • small bag of sliced almonds (1/2 – 2/3 cup)
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