Sunday, September 11, 2011

Families who camp together, stay together (I've done the work for you)!

Gary smalley, a guru from the Smalley Relationship Center, found that close-knit families have an interesting thing in common: CAMPING. Families who camp value shared experiences and spending time together. They are willing to make the necessary sacrifices for the greater good. TRUST ME. I fully understand this concept. It is a lot of work to camp. I spend days planning, shopping, cooking, organizing, loading, and packing. Then there is the laundry, laundry, and more laundry on return! However, smart families know that almost anything worth doing has some form of a challenge to it, and camping is no different.

Below is our camping menu, recipes, and a shopping list for this year's outdoor expedition. ENJOY!


Lunch: sandwiches (made at home)

Dinner: Pesto chicken pasta

Dirt Dessert


Breakfast: Breakfast Scramble

Lunch: Cold Cuts, Crackers, Cheese, Apple Slices

Dinner: Pork Barbacoa Tortilla wraps


Breakfast: Peach & Apple Pancakes

Lunch: Pitas with hummus, cucumbers, kalmatas

Dinner: Campfire Mac N Cheese



Breakfast: French Toast Kabobs

Lunch: Tuna Salad Sandwiches

Dinner: Hawaiian Camp Chicken, Campfire Corn on the Cob


Breakfast: Apricot Granola

Lunch: Pizza Crackers

Dinner: Cowboy Supper

Campfire banana splits


Breakfast scramble

Mix together scrambled eggs, chopped bacon, cheddar cheese, chopped onion, a splash of milk, & diced potatoes or a bag of hash browns. Cook thoroughly. Eat alone or in a tortilla wrap.

Pork Barbacoa wraps

Place pre-made pulled pork, black beans, cheese, avocado, tomato, & lettuce in a wrap. Heat wrapped up in tin foil.

Pesto Chicken:

Re-heat the chicken/pesto mixture (which was made ahead by roasting the chicken, shredding it, and mixing with pesto). Add to cooked penne pasta.

Cowboy Supper

Mix together 2 cans bush’s original beans, 1 can northern beans, 1 bottle sweet baby ray’s bbq sauce, ½ c. ketchup, ½ c. brown sugar, 1 lb. cooked and crumbled hamburger. Let simmer together.

Campire banana splits

Cut a banana stem to stem. Leaving the peel on, carefully place chocolate chips, mini marshmallow, or a candy bar inside. Wrap with aluminum foil and let melt in the campfire. You can also do this with butter, cinnamon, & Sugar (and a splash of rum for adults for Bananas foster)

Campire Mac N Cheese

Combine in individual tin pans ½ elbow mac. (cooked), ¼ cheddar cheese, 1 tbsp. parmesan, 1 tbsp. milk, ½ tbsp. butter, salt and pepper. Seal the top in foil. Place it over the campfire to melt the cheese, let cool a bit, then open the foil top and enjoy

Melted Chocolate Trail Mix

Mix together 3 cups nuts (any variety), ½ c. sunflower seeds, ½ c. coconut flakes (optional), 1 cups raisins, ½ c. dried cranberry, & whatever else you want to add! Place on a baking sheet lined with wax paper. Roast at 375 for up to 25 min. (if desired). Let cool. Melt chocolate in the microwave. Pour over the nut mixture in ribbons. Stir to coat everything. Let the chocolate cool and break into pieces. Store in an airtight container. Makes 12 servings.

Campfire Corn on the Cob

Place husked ears of corn in a foil packet and season with butter, salt & Pepper, and whatever other seasoning desired (Cajun, etc.). Place over the fire and roast for 10 min. Unwrap and enjoy.

Go Eat Worms Dirt Dessert

Mix together cool whip, smashed oreos, gummy worms, and gummy critter. You can add pudding if you want & have milk. Serve in bowls. You can make this ahead of time and keep in a container until ready to serve.

Another way to serve this is to layer. Place the oreos on the bottom as “dirt.” Top with whipped topping mixed with pudding. Add some gummy worms to this layer. Top with more oreos and a few worms sticking out of the top.

Peach or Apple Pancakes

Mix pre-packaged pancake mix according to directions.Place a peach or apple slice on the griddle. Sprinkle with pre-mixed cinnamon & sugar. Pour pancake batter over the fruit. Flip as usual. Serve with syrup.

Sausage on a Stick

Unroll 1 package of refrigerated breadsticks. Coil one breadstick dough around a fully cooked sausage link.Repeat with several. Rotate slowly in a pan or over the campfire until the bread is cooked through and the sausages are heated.

Hawaiian Camp Chicken

Mix together 1/3 c. ketchup, 1/3 c. soy sauce, ½ c. brown sugar, 3 tbsp. sherry, 1 piece chopped fresh ginger, & 2 minced garlic cloves. Place all ingredients in a ziplock bag. Add 4-5 lb. chicken breasts. Marinate until ready to grill over the fire.

French Toast Kabobs

Wisk together 8 large eggs, 2/3 c. buttermilk, a pinch of salt & ½ tsp. vanilla extract (this can be done ahead and placed in a container). Cut a loaf of bread into 1 inch cubes (also can be done ahead and placed in a ziplock bag). When ready to cook, mix cubes of bread into the egg mixture to coat evenly. Melt butter in a sauté pan over heat. Add bread pieces in a single layer and cook. Turn over until all sides are cooked through. Thread cubes onto skewers alternating with banana slices, blueberries, and raspberries. Or forget the skewers, and mix it all together on a plate. Drizzle with syrup.

Tuna Salad Sandwiches

Mix together 2 cans tuna, 2 chopped celery sticks, 1-2 chopped dill pickes,, 2 tbsp. light mayo, 2 tbsp. fresh basil (optional), the juice of one lemon, salt and pepper. Add to hearty wheat bread.

Apricot Granola

Mix together 4 cups rolled oats, 1 c. sliced almonds, 1 c. chopped pecans, 2 c. chopped dried apricots, & 1 cup sunflower seeds. In another bowl, mix ½ c. oil, ½ c. molasses, 4 tbsp. brown sugar, ¼ tsp. salt, and ½ tsp. nutmeg. Mix well. Pour the wet ingredients over the dry ingredients and mix thoroughly.Flatten onto greased baking sheets (or I use silpat liners underneath). Bake at 275 for 1 hour, stirring every 15 min.

Pizza Crackers

Start with a grain cracker, such as triskets. Place a dollop of pizza sauce as the base, add pepperoni, and a slice of mozzarella.

Grocery shopping List:


Shredded cheddar cheese ( a very large bag, or a large block shredded)

Hash browns or red potatoes

Pre-cooked bacon



Pulled pork

2 cans black beans

2 avocado

2 tomatoes

1 head lettuce

shredded chicken

4-6 chicken breasts


penne pasta

2 cans bush’s original beans

1 can northern beans

1 bottle sweet baby rays bbq sauce


1 c. brown sugar

1 lb. cooked hamburger

2 bushels bananas

Mini marshmallows (one baggie)

Aluminum foil

Individual tin pans

Elbow macaroni

Parmesan (a small bag)

2 sticks butter

salt and pepper


coconut flakes


dried cranberries or cherries

2 bags chocolate chips

Corn on the cob

2 cartons cool whip

2 pkgs chocolate pudding

gummy worms

1 pkg. oreos

pancake mix



maple syrup

2 pkgs. Refrigerated bread sticks

pre-cooked Breakfast sausages

1/3 c. soy sauce

sherry (3 tbsp.)

ginger (1 Piece)

2 garlic cloves


vanilla extract

1 or 2 loaves of French bread



2-4 cans tuna


dill pickles



1 lemon

wheat bread



pizza sauce

mozzarella cheese



kalmata olives


cold cuts

rolled oats

pecans (1 c.)

dried apricots

molasses (1/2 c.)


graham crackers

chocolate bars


capri suns

perrier water

Packing (& re-packing & re-packing) - How to make a grab & go bag

This summer we were ON THE MOVE! Whether we were camping in the woods, going to the lake for the weekend, visiting grandparents, or headed to summer camp, bags needed to be packed with essential supplies for each outing. In years past, I've been exhausted just trying to get everything packed and re-packed for each child for each separate event. Not this year! I finally came up with a system that has saved me tons of time, stress, and energy (yay)!
At the beginning of the summer I designated a different colored bag for each child. In it, I packed summer essentials: t-shirts, shorts, a long pair of pants, a sweatshirt, swimsuit, sunscreen, toothbrush, toothpaste, beach towel, socks, PJs, etc. Stores like Target, where cute clothes can be found at great prices are helpful with this system! When it was time to go, we picked up the bags and off we went. Here's the key -- they kids can't touch what is in the bag at home (there is no guarantee it will make it back in). At the end of each trip, I'd take the bags into the laundry room, and wash the contents of the bags one at a time. I then repack right from the laundry basket back into the bag. Now it's ready for the next outing!!
Maybe you have already thought of doing this, or something like it. Summer doesn't last very long around here, so anything I can do to spend less time packing and more time enjoying it is a good plan for me!

Reading Out-loud to Kids - A Don't Miss!

Moment upon moment upon moment. These make up what we call "time." Every day, I try to do something to connect with each of my children, either individually or as a group. These sometimes small, and sometimes big, moments make a difference. Reading together aloud has proven to be one the most consistent and best ways to do this in my parenting. From pre-schoolers to teenagers, everyone loves a good story.
Last summer, I wanted a fun way to connect with my older nephews and my daughter at our family lake cabin. I went to the bookstore and found Ted Dekker's The Lost Series. I got the first book and we began reading. The rule was that we all had to read together, and out-loud. They would beg me to sit down and read more.
My boys and I have been in C.S. Lewis' Chronicles of Narnia all summer. We've worked our way from The Magician's Nephew to The Voyage of the Dawn Treader, where we are currently. Now that school has started, I read a chapter or two as they go to bed. We all love winding the day down with this ritual. Honestly, it is as fun for me to read them as it is for them to hear them. I am completely captivated by these stories! We watch the movies together after reading the story also, and the boys love filling in the gaps.
Reading aloud to our children accomplishes several things. Here is a list taken fromSonlight Curriculum's webite:

  • Introduce your children to great literature that is beyond their personal reading capacity.
  • Develop within your children a life-long love of reading.
  • Expand your children's vocabulary
  • Build listening skills - including the ability to visualize the meaning of spoken words.
  • Develop an "ear" for good oral reading
  • Develop oral reading skills.
  • Give you and your children a context for sharing mutually significant times together.

I like to use Sonlight's website to order books for read-alouds. Having a stack of quality material ready makes the legwork easy. The books they carry are often award winners, and they promote something worthwhile -- historical education, character building lessons, or just a fun story that is well crafted. There is so much out there, and it is hard to know what is quality and what isn't. I don't always have time to find out, so this resource is invaluable to me. You could also write the titles down and order them through the library.
I'll never forget the time when my boys and I sat on the couch and cried together as Little Ann and Old Dan faced their deaths in Where the Red Fern Grows. It was so moving that our hearts welled together with sadness and emotion. It bonded us and created a "moment." A moment I wouldn't trade for the world.....