Cooking Outdoors

Camp Kitchen Setups

When we camp, we eat well. I wouldn’t call it gourmet, but it’s healthy (most of the time), balanced, nutritious, and very satisfying. And, we’re constantly trying to change things up. We each have our go-to recipes and our specialties, but we’re always on the hunt for something different. Just like we change our camping locations between beach, mountains, lake, etc., and we change our activities between biking, fishing, canoeing, etc., so we change up our camp menus. It’s all in the spirit of keeping it interesting. None of us like to settle for the same old stuff. All it takes is a little planning, a little culinary ambition, and a good camp kitchen setup, and you, too, can cook like a chef and eat like a king or a queen.

Here’s what I recommend for a good camp kitchen setup:

Chuck Box

You need all your cooking essentials organized and stored in one place. A chuck box can be as simple and economical as a large plastic tote or as complex as a hand-crafted wooden box (DIY tutorials are widely available online). Ideally, your chuck box has compartments or smaller containers for your smaller cooking utensils. It should include all the basic things you need from pots and bowls to knives and vegetable peelers. I always pack heavy-duty aluminum foil for making foil packets. It’s fun to lay out a selection of proteins, veggies, spices, and sauces and everyone assembles their own dinner and cooks it over a fire or coals. For a complete list of what my chuck box includes, see my blog post, “Think Inside the Box Part 1-Your Camp Kitchen.”

Stove

A reliable stove system is central to every serious camp kitchen. Depending on the amount of packing space in your vehicle, you can decide to go with a compact two-burner system that runs on a one-pound propane canister or you can equip yourself with a larger and more powerful two- or three-burner system that runs on a standard 20-pound propane tank. Generally, you just want to make sure that each burner on the stove you select puts out at least 10,000 BTU/hr, which is the average output of a household stove burner. A number of the larger models that run on standard 20-pound propane tanks will crank out an impressive 30,000 BTU/hr per burner, providing you with an immense range of culinary ability. Many models can also be accessorized with grill boxes and griddles, which make serving up a stack of pancakes or juicy T-bone steaks a simple task.

Cooler

One or two quality hard-shell coolers will insulate and protect your food from being crushed in a fully packed vehicle. For safe food handling, it’s important that your iced-cooler keep your foods at or below 40°F. If you can, do your prep work before leaving home. Label your sealed bags of pre-chopped veggies and meats specific to each meal, which allows you to start cooking with minimal prep time. If you plan on packing lots of canned and bottled beverages, consider bringing a second beverage-specific cooler. Beverage coolers are opened and closed frequently, which allows chilled air to quickly escape. If your food is stored in a separate cooler that is opened less frequently, your temperature-sensitive foods will stay chilled for a longer period of time. For more cooler packing tips, see my blog posts, “Chillin’ With Your Cooler” and “Think Inside the Box Part 3-Your Camp Refrigerator.”

Food Tote

Just like a cooler, a hard-sided plastic tote will protect your food from being crushed in a fully packed vehicle. It will also protect your food from sun and rain and help keep critters out in the middle of the night. Even if you are just making hamburgers, no one wants a bun that’s been flattened like a pancake. For more Food Tote tips, see my blog post, “Think Inside the Box Part 2-Your Camp Pantry.”

Table

Even if you do the bulk of your prep work at home, you will still need a place to assemble and prepare your meals. A sturdy camp table is a must-have for your camp kitchen. Not only does it provide valuable work space, but you can also use it like a buffet table.

Shelter

We usually pack a pop up for a cook shelter. It provides shade when it’s sunny and protection from the rain when it is not, which is most of the time! I like to string a small clothesline along one side for washing cloths and drying towels. Sometimes I attach a tarp to one side and stake out the tarp to provide added shade for my coolers.

Extras

In my opinion, an outdoor kitchen wouldn’t be complete without at least one cast iron Dutch oven. From casseroles to cakes, a Dutch oven will allow you to bake just about anything you can bake in your oven at home. A Dutch oven gives you the versatility to prepare a much wider range of dishes. Its rugged durability and its ability to evenly distribute heat, allowing you to cover it with charcoal briquettes, position it in hot coals near an open fire, or place it on the stove top, make it a valuable component of your camp kitchen. For more information about what you need to support your Dutch ovens, see my blog post, “The Right Tool for the Right Job.”

So, there you have it. A good camp kitchen setup will go along way toward making every camping trip a successful one.

What’s in your Chuck box?

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Teach Them While They’re Young

9-year-old Alex sautéing onions for Chicken Mini Pies.

Back in the old days (and by that I mean only a few generations ago), it took a lot of work to get a meal on the table and children, by necessity, had to help out. Our great-grandmothers didn’t have fancy shmancy mixers and food processors and bread machines. Their local grocery stores didn’t have aisle upon aisle of packaged processed foods nor could they just go online and order a meal in a box delivered to the homestead by Pony Express. Bread had to be kneaded, fruits and vegetables had to be chopped, and meats had to be prepared all by hand. So, the more hands you had helping, the faster a meal could be prepared.

While children were in the kitchen helping, they were learning valuable life skills. In addition to learning how to cook, how to tend a fire, and how to use knives, children learned organization, leadership, and planning skills. They learned responsibility. And, when children help in the food preparation, they are more likely to eat it, which meant fewer picky eaters.

But somewhere along the way, we stopped including and instructing our children in meal preparation and now we have adults who don’t know how to cook unless it comes out of a box or from the freezer or uses a microwave. I know whole families who eat out three to five times a week. I know kids who believe the only kind of macaroni and cheese is the orange kind that comes out of a blue box.

I understand that we’re all very busy and sometimes it is just easier and faster to do it ourselves. We tell our children, “You run along and play and I’ll get dinner on the table.” I get that. Been there, done that. However, this needs to be the exception and not the rule. We need to get our children into the kitchen on a regular basis whether it’s at home or in camp so they can learn and practice these valuable life skills.

On my Resources page is an Outdoor Cooking Skill Progression, and while it is geared for outdoor cooking it could be easily adapted to the home kitchen.

6-year-old Alex is starting a batch of chocolate chip cookies while his 8-year-old sister Amelia watches.

Even a small child can sit at a table and tear lettuce for a salad or add already measured ingredients to a bowl or assemble sandwiches. As they get into elementary school, teach them knife safety and knife skills. Start them cutting soft foods and progress them up to harder foods. Teach them fire safety and start them at the stove simply heating up a can of soup or making their beloved orange macaroni and cheese from the blue box. When they develop some hand-eye coordination, teach them the fine art of pancake flipping.

Things won’t be done perfectly, and spills and messes may happen. Clean up may take a little longer sometimes. But the skills they are learning will last them their whole life and you’ll be creating fond memories of your time together in the kitchen.

Some of our family’s best memories are in the kitchen cooking together. We started out bumping butts and stepping on each other’s toes as we moved around the kitchen. Today, if you were to observe me and my daughter in our morning routine of making coffee, taking vitamins, and assembling lunches, it would look like a finely choreographed dance as we just instinctively move around each other. Occasionally, we still collide and it usually causes a giggle or two or sometimes results in a mess on the floor, but I wouldn’t have it any other way. Someday, when I am old and gray and can no longer hold a knife steady in my hand, I know that I will be well fed by my son and my daughter who both know their way around a kitchen.

Thank you Sonya, who commented on a recent post and inspired me to write this one. Keep up the good fight, girl. Good cooking skills are life skills and important ones to have.

Teach them while they are young and someday they will thank you or, better yet, they will prepare an amazing meal for you.

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From left is cousin Bobby Lynn, Alex, and Amelia at Lake Wenatchee State Park.

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Gourmet Camp Cooking

Throughout the year, our Boy Scout troop holds fundraisers. The more fundraising we can do, the fewer out-of-pocket expenses there are for our scouts and our scout families, and we never want money to be the reason why a boy doesn’t scout.

One of the events we do is an auction and one of the live auction items every year is what we call the Scoutmaster Dinner. The dinner is hosted at the home of one of our volunteers and the dinner is completely prepared and served to guests by our troop’s scoutmasters. Over the years, we have had some pretty amazing dinners because some of our scoutmasters, including yours truly, are darned good cooks.

This year, we decided to make it an entirely camp-cooked meal. We wanted to show that you can make a gourmet meal in camp so we pulled out all the stops. Our menu was filet mignon, lobster mac and cheese, grilled vegetables, garden salad, fresh baked breads, and for dessert Scoutmaster Murray made an orange soda orange liquor dump cake and I made death by chocolate. For beverages, we had a peach sangria and lemonade.

I was very busy so I didn’t get all the pictures I had hoped to. I believe at one point we had six Dutch ovens going! You could make this meal using a griddle or a grill, Dutch ovens, box ovens, and foil packets. It’s very doable in camp. Everything tasted amazing.

Bacon-Wrapped Filet Mignon

Fresh Baked Bread

Lobster Mac & Cheese

Orange Soda & Orange Liquor Dump Cake

Death by Chocolate

Peach Sangria and Lemonade

It was a great evening with good friends, good conversation, lots of laughter and an amazing meal. So, don’t be afraid to cook something fancy in camp. It might take a little more effort, but you won’t regret it.

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Think Outside the Box: Pre-Packaged Foods

I like to cook fresh and from scratch as much as possible. I feel it gives me more control over the ingredients and allows more flexibility when working with allergies and other dietary restrictions.

However, for my younger cooks, I understand that going with pre-packaged foods can make it easier for them to get a meal onto the picnic table when we are camping. And, unlike me, they come to camp to play and not to cook. Pre-packaged foods are great ways to cut corners and allow you to get a meal on the picnic table much faster.

Using things like refrigerated biscuits, bread, and pizza dough are great shortcuts.

Pre-packaged pasta dishes and rice dishes are self-contained entrees and/or side dishes. In addition, many of these work well for backpacking because they are dehydrated and, for the most part, just need water.

But just because it comes out of a box or a pouch doesn’t mean you are limited to the contents of the container. You need to think outside the box or the pouch.

For example, let’s take the classic boxed macaroni and cheese. You could make the macaroni and cheese according to the directions on the box, but why stop there? You could add a protein to it like diced ham or hot dog, bacon, cooked diced chicken, cooked ground beef or sausage. You could add fresh vegetables to it like a diced white or yellow onion, a diced red or green bell pepper, peas, broccoli, cauliflower, and zucchini. By doing this, you add bulk to the dish so it will feed more, you add freshness and more nutrition, and you have a full blown main dish.

There is a pre-packaged Spanish rice side dish that we like. You could make your favorite brand of Spanish rice according to the directions on the package, but then you could add cooked chicken or beef, a can of black beans, corn, diced green chilies, and some cheese. You could serve it in a bowl, on a plate over a pile of tortilla chips, or rolled up in a tortilla burrito-style. Top it with some shredded lettuce, guacamole, and/or some sour cream and you have a great, simple meal.

Pre-packaged foods can make great bases to start from. Instead of pasta sauce from scratch, start with a jar of your favorite sauce and add fresh herbs and vegetables like tomatoes, peppers, and onion.

So, the next time you’re looking to make cooking in camp a little easier or if you need to get a meal on the table a little faster, start with a pre-packaged food, but don’t just settle for what’s in the box or the pouch. Add to it, add some protein, add some freshness in the way of fresh herbs and vegetables, and you’ll take what might have been just okay to a whole new level.

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Curses, Foiled Again!

To line or not to line your Dutch oven. That is the question.

Some folks are staunchly opposed to lining their Dutch ovens. Others, not so much. I fall into the latter camp. I’m not afraid to cook directly in my Dutch ovens. I do it frequently, but if I’m just baking something or it’s a dump in and bake, or I’m baking something that will be sticky, gooey or otherwise hard to clean, then I go ahead and foil-line for easy clean up.

I don’t foil-line if I need to sear off a piece of meat before adding other ingredients and baking. I don’t foil-line if what I’m making will require a lot of stirring because that will just shred my foil lining and I don’t want to eat aluminum foil. My multi-vitamin supplies me with all the minerals I need, thank you very much.

When you do want a lining in your Dutch oven, there are a couple of ways to do it.

Preformed Foil Liners

You can purchase preformed foil liners. They are sized to fit standard Dutch ovens (10”, 12”, and 14”), so if you have multiple sizes of Dutch ovens, you’ll need to purchase multiple sizes of liners to match. There are a couple of different brands and they range in price, depending on size and quantity that you buy, but expect to pay $1-$3 per liner.

Parchment Liners

A friend of mine uses parchment liners when she’s baking in her Dutch ovens and she’s very happy with them. There are a couple different brands and they are sold in a universal 20-inch diameter size and come 8 to a pack for about $12, which makes them about $1.50 each. You can also make your own with a roll of baking parchment paper. If you make your own, you can cut them to the diameter that you need; however, the widest I found was only 15” wide.

Aluminum Foil

I prefer to foil-line with aluminum foil. No reason, it’s just how I was taught and what I’ve always done. I buy the extra-wide, heavy-duty aluminum foil. I tear off what I think I will need and gently fold and form it to the inside of my oven. I use the backs of my hands; otherwise, I risk my fingers poking through and ruining my foil. After I have it all formed and pressed against the sides, I tear off the extra foil or fold it inside the oven.

A rookie mistake I often see with foil-lining is folding the excess foil over the edge of the oven. This prevents the oven from sealing tightly, which is what Dutch ovens are meant to do.

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Why We Do Not Feed the Bears…or Other Critters

Now that the weather is finally warming up, we’re spending more time outside, which means more encounters with critters that should be simply left alone.

But it’s hard, I get that. When you see a cute little chipmunk or bird sitting on the edge of the picnic table, it’s hard not to reach out with a potato chip in your fingers and see if it will approach and eat from your hand.

As fun and exciting as this sounds, we shouldn’t feed the wildlife, and it doesn’t matter how tame or friendly or cute they are. Here’s why you shouldn’t.

Wild animals needs to stay wild. When animals are fed they become used to people. They become tame, they lose their wildness, and that can make them vulnerable.

Most wild animals already have access to the food that they need to stay alive. They don’t really need us feeding them. And, let’s face it, a lot of what we feed them (junk food) is not good for them.

Fed wildlife lose the ability to find food on their own. If it’s easy for an animal to eat picnic area and campsite trash then what’s the point in even finding food on their own?

Sometimes areas with abundant food trash attract animals and increase population rates. This can increase the spread of disease among animals and disrupt the whole natural ebb and flow of life.

Animals that are normally passive can become aggressive once they are accustomed to foraging out of the garbage or out of our hands.

It’s just a bad idea to get up close and personal with animals that can carry diseases like rabies.

Before you toss a few nuts at a chipmunk, please take a moment and consider the implications and long-term effects on the animal and the delicate ecosystem it lives in, and that we are just visiting.

I understand that maybe you’re just trying to be kind. But we can be kind in other ways by leaving the outdoors better than how we found it. We can clean up trash. We can work to restore rivers and streams. We can make their habitats a better place for them to live in and for us to visit.

Let’s leave the wildlife alone no matter how cute they are and keep our snacks to ourselves.

The only wildlife we should be feeding is our kids!

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Spring is Sproinging

Monday was the first day of spring! Are you ready to go camping? Not quite or not sure? Now is a good time to get into the attic, the basement, the garage, the RV, or where ever you store your camping gear and do an assessment.

What needs to be repaired or replaced? Was there anything last year that wasn’t working, but you didn’t have the time or the budget to fix it? Are there any improvements you’d like to make for this year?

A good night’s rest is important.

Are you sleeping as comfortably or as warm as you’d like to? Maybe you need a new cot or a new pad or a new sleeping bag. Maybe all you need is a new set of polypropylene to wear or to sleep in. Speaking of clothing…. How’s that pair of boots feeling? Time for a new pair of hiking boots? In the camp kitchen, I tend to spend a lot of time on my feet so good footwear is important. I also have weak ankles and uneven ground is a recipe for a sprain so having high top boots with good ankle support is important to me.

How’s your camp kitchen looking?

Is your camp kitchen in good shape? Last year, what prevented you from upping your outdoor cooking game? Do you need more workspace? Perhaps you need a new work table. I have a couple tables that have adjustable legs so I can raise them up to a counter height, which my back really likes. I highly recommend them.

Experiment

Would you like to try something new this year? A new activity or a new way of cooking outdoors? If you’ve never cooked in a Dutch oven or a box oven but have wanted to, then let’s set a goal for this year and do it!

Reserve Early, Reserve Often

Now is also a good time to get on the internet and make reservations. Some popular campgrounds fill fast and are difficult to get into. For some of the really popular ones, you should be making reservations 9 months to a year in advance; so while you’re thinking about it, go ahead and make reservations for spring 2018.

Convert Some Non-Campers

Do you have any friends or family members who have never camped or don’t camp much? Maybe they just don’t know how to do it comfortably, so they don’t realize how much fun it can be. Invite them with you and help them up their camping game.

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Making Camp Food More Nutritional

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When we’re camping, we tend to eat a lot of protein and grains, aka hot dogs, hamburgers, and chips. Why is that? Because it’s easy and, for some of us, that’s what we grew up with and it’s all that comes to mind when we’re planning our camping menus. Cooking from scratch takes a little more planning, a little more prepping, and a little more cooler space, but it is so worth the effort.

Food is a critical camp component. At the end of a long day of hunting, hiking, swimming or whatever, a good meal can lift your spirits and boost your morale. It is fuel for hard working and hard playing kids and adults. Likewise, a poor meal can leave you malnourished, hungry, and empty both in body and spirit. With a well-fed belly, you’ll stay warmer and sleep better on colder evenings.

When we’re camping, our bodies need quality fuel. For the weekday desk potatoes, which are probably most of us, we’re burning more calories when we’re camping than we do during the work week. Just being outside burns more calories than we normally would.

That’s why cooking healthy in camp is so important—and March is National Nutrition Month so, let’s up our nutrition at home and in camp.

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Whether you are old school and still subscribe to the Food Pyramid or you are new school and subscribe to the My Plate, a balanced diet of proteins, grains, fruits, vegetables, and dairy is key. Cooking fresh as opposed to processed is also important. Processed foods tend to contain higher amounts of sodium as well as preservatives and other junk. They also make it harder to adapt for allergies because you are stuck with what’s in the box.

Cooking fresh and from scratch is much better for you, tastes amazing, and you have way more control over the ingredients. Cooking fresh gives you the ability to swap out ingredients making it easier to adapt recipes for allergies, picky eaters (we all know one), and health issues.

In my teen years, my grandmother was diabetic and my father had heart disease so we cooked from scratch a lot because we needed to cook without sugar and without salt. We still ate very well and very tasty, and after the initial salt and sugar withdrawals, I actually didn’t miss it much. We learned to compensate by using other spices. My dad made a chili so hot and spicy it would light your nose hairs on fire, but it was so good you just had to keep eating. I learned to appreciate sour cream.

Nowadays, when I’m cooking for an outdoor event or a large campout, I might have to cook gluten-free, dairy-free, vegetarian or vegan. Cooking from scratch enables me to adjust my recipes for the dietary needs of my campers.

So, while cooking from scratch takes a little more effort, it’s much more nutritious, more adaptable, and provides better fuel for our hard working, and hard playing, bodies.

Get outside and get cooking!

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Evening Cracker Barrel and the Art of Snacking

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In scouting, we have a time-honored tradition of the evening cracker barrel where we gather near the end of the day to review the day’s activities and make our plans for the coming day.

The term has its origins in the country stores of the late 19th century, where the barrels of soda crackers ended up being the site of informal discussions between customers. The philosophizing taking place around these cracker barrels would have been, presumably, of the plain and simple sort. This extended use of the term as a modifier is reminiscent of the way in which “water-cooler” came to be used in the phrase “water-cooler conversation” with reference to the chatting and socializing that occurs between office workers in the communal area around a water cooler.

The first, dare I say, official recording of the term occurred in 1863 when General Robert E. Lee and Lieutenant General Thomas “Stonewall” Jackson met on the eve of the Battle of Chancellorsville to plan their strategy. They sat on ration boxes and called that meeting the Cracker-Barrel Conference.

Today, our cracker barrels are informal gatherings that are more social than they are business. And, because we are a food-based culture, we can’t gather without something to snack on. An evening cracker barrel can be as simple as s’mores by the campfire or a spread of meats, cheeses, and crackers, or after dinner Dutch oven desserts. Whatever is served, it is usually simple and unsophisticated. Nothing fancy.

Evening cracker barrels tend to be a mix of savory and sweet. On cold nights, they should include plenty of protein, which helps us to sleep warmer because our bodies have to work a little harder to digest it. They can include items that can be heated over the campfire or pulled straight out of the cooler. The simpler the better because no one wants to do any major cleanup late in the evening. Finger foods are a great way to go because then there are no dishes.

If you make something like a Dutch oven crisp or cobbler, foil line your Dutch oven for easy clean up and go ahead and breakout the disposable paper bowls and plastic silverware (we call that the fine china). Again, no one wants to be doing dishes late at night and you don’t want to leave them for morning because that’s just an open invitation for critters to invade your campsite overnight.

So, what makes good cracker barrel faire? Think appetizers. Little bites with big flavors. All those hors d’oeuvres we nibble on before a meal or at a party are perfect for a cracker barrel. Here are a few ideas:

Deviled Eggs

Meats, Cheese, and Crackers

Chips with Salsa, Guacamole, Bean, and/or Queso Dip

Cheesecake Stuffed Strawberries

Cookies

Jalepeno Poppers

Egg Rolls

Meatballs

Rice Crispy Treats

Smoked Salmon and Crackers

Hummus and Pita Chips

Shrimp and Cocktail Sauce

When planning your cracker barrel, how many nibbles should you have? If your cracker barrel is shortly after dinner, plan on having 6-8 pieces per person. If your cracker barrel is later in the evening, you may want to plan on 12-15 pieces per person. Sometimes we’ll have an early dinner so we’re not cleaning up after it gets dark and a couple of hours can pass between dinner and cracker barrel. Or, if we’re planning a night hike or a late night of star gazing, games or campfire stories, we’ll have a more robust cracker barrel. If the weather is chilly, you’ll want to plan heartier snacks.

Whatever you choose to nibble on, it’s fun to gather with your fellow campers and talk about the day’s adventures and make your plans for the next day, even if all you’re planning is what time to have breakfast!

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Celebrating 2016

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We now have 117 posts, more than 1,400 followers, and nearly 22,000 page views. Wow!

I want to thank all my guinea pigs, I mean, family, friends, and scouts who taste tested every recipe I blogged about, and for all your comments and suggestions for blog ideas.

Let’s celebrate 2016 and look back at the 10 posts you gave the most “hits” to this year.

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  1. Best Ever Meatloaf

Now, I know what you’re thinking: Ugh! Meatloaf! Really?! I have to admit, I’ve had some really lousy meatloaves over the years. I have an aunt, who shall remain nameless, who frequently made meatloaf when we came to visit and, I swear, it was like eating sawdust! But have no fear, meatloaf phobes, this meatloaf recipe is a winner! It even won over my meatloaf-hating hubby many years ago. Read the post.

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  1. Scalloped Potatoes are the Mother of All Comfort Foods

Scalloped potatoes are one of my family’s favorite winter comfort foods. They pair very nicely with my meatloaf. They both cook at the same temperature. The potatoes go into the oven first because they cook 90 minutes and then I assemble the meatloaf and it goes into the oven for an hour. I time it so they are done at the same time. I serve them together with either a green vegetable or a salad. It’s heaven on a plate! Read the post.

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  1. Apple Raisin Monkey Bread

I think this just became my new favorite monkey bread! A couple weeks ago, we were going to a potluck brunch with friends and we wanted to make monkey bread. On a lark, we decided to add a diced apple and it was amazing! We loved it! Read the post.

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  1. Meatball Sub Pull-Aparts

Let me just say right up front, this is crazy good! Okay, now that we have that out of the way, we can continue. This is a warm, hearty meal that tastes amazing. From the rich and flavorful Italian meatballs and marinara sauce to the velvety, gooey mozzarella cheese to the fluffy and crunchy bits of French bread, this was so yummy! Serve it with a fresh green Italian or Caesar salad and you have a winner dinner. Everyone loved this. Read the post.

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  1. Chicken Mini Pies

This has to be one of our family’s top 10 favorite things to eat. We don’t make them very often because they are a bit labor intensive, but they are well worth the effort. In fact, they taste so yummy that we nearly devour them as soon as they come out of the oven, piping hot and scalding our mouths in the process. But we just can’t stop ourselves. They are that yummy. Read the post.

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  1. White Bean Chicken Chili

I have to admit that I was a little concerned at first when I saw and smelled the amount of cilantro that goes in because I’m not a big cilantro fan. But after simmering 30 minutes, the cilantro really mellows out and provides the signature flavor of this dish. I’m not sure what it is about white beans, but for me, they are a comfort food. This is such a satisfying soup but it is also light so it’s perfect for a cold winter or warm summer night. When I made this a couple weekends later, I served it with my cornbread. Read the post.

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  1. DIY: How to Build a Box Oven

A box oven is a cheap and easy way to add an oven to your outdoor cooking gear. They are simple to make and you can build as many as you want. If a Dutch oven is out of your budget, a box oven is definitely in your budget and they are so simple to make a Brownie or Cub Scout could build one. Even if you have one or more Dutch ovens, one or two box ovens can add that much more oven power to your camp kitchen. Here’s all you need to build a box oven: a cardboard box, heavy duty aluminum foil, 4 empty cans, and duct tape. Read the post.

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  1. Best Banana Bread

In honor of National Banana Bread Day, here’s a simple banana bread recipe. You could make this in camp and bake it in a Dutch oven or in a box oven or you could make it at home and bring it to camp for a healthy snack. It works well as either muffins or a loaf. If you make a loaf, you could also slice it up and use it to make French toast for breakfast! Read the post.

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  1. Best Buttermilk Biscuits

This is the best buttermilk biscuit I’ve ever tasted. It’s light and fluffy and buttery. It tastes great with gravy on it or honey or jam or just plain butter or nothing at all. Making these biscuits have become a weekend tradition. My family has declared them to be better than the ones made by the Golden Arches or the Colonel. Read the post.

And the most-popular post of 2016 was …

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  1. Beef Stroganoff on a Camp Stove

This beef stroganoff recipe is a nod to my grandmother’s eastern European roots. This is one of my son’s favorite dishes and was the first recipe he asked me to teach him how to make. It is fast and easy, and I can usually have it on the table in less than 30 minutes. This would make a great Friday night dinner after rolling into camp because it is so quick. Read the post.

Keep those comments and suggestions coming! Now, let’s make 2017 even better and let’s get outside and get cooking!

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