Camping fun and food

Hello, my friends!  I am back from a lovely camping trip to Lake Wallenpaupack, PA with 8 other people.  We had such a blast!!

This was my standard look the entire time:

…kicking back by the lake, beer in hand, cowboy hat on head 😉

We spent lots of time fishing:

…playing silly games:

…..and EATING!!

I swear, I’ve never had so much food in so few days in my life.  I thought it might be fun to share our menus with you, in case you’re planning on camping anytime soon (and I’ve linked to similar recipes that I found online).

All the food was very tasty!  We were lucky, because we had electricity on the campsite (so we could use our crock pot and Keurig coffee maker), and we also had a small propane grill in addition to the fire.  Most of our meals were made using both the grill / griddle and campfire.

Day One:

Day Two:

Day Three:

  • BreakfastPancakes cooked on the griddle and breakfast sausage
  • Lunch – Hot dogs cooked on the fire (standard!).  I don’t eat hot dogs, so I had about 47,000 chips and 26 Woodchuck ciders instead 😉
  • Dinner – Shrimp and veggie kabobs, marinated in teriyaki sauce; along with corn on the cob that we cooked in their husks on the campfire
  • Dessert – More S’mores!!

Day Four:

  • Breakfast – Breakfast casserole made in the crockpot
  • Then we came home and I’ve been chugging water ever since trying to get rid of my food baby / sodium bloat.  Lovely 😉

Do you enjoy camping?  What are your favorite camping recipes?

Summer al fresco dinner menu

Hi friends!

My husband and I love to hang out at home with our friends and family, and during the summer, you can often find us relaxing on the deck, firing up the grill, and having a few drinks.  I love it!

It’s so much fun to put together easy menus for our get-togethers.  If you are serving an “al fresco” summer dinner with friends, here’s the menu I’d recommend.  It’s light, healthy, delicious – and best of all, much of the food is cooked on the grill so clean up is minimal!

Al Fresco Summer Dinner Party Menu

White Sangria
Antipasti Platter
Cedar Plank Salmon
Quinoa Salad
Asparagus
Grilled Pineapple and Vanilla Bean Ice Cream


Greet your guests with a delicious glass of white sangria.  It’s so pretty and fresh!  One of my favorite recipes is very similar to this one by Tyler Florence:

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  • 2 bottles dry white, such as sauvignon blanc
  • 1/2 cup Spanish sherry
  • 1/2 cup orange-flavored liqueur (recommended: Cointreau)
  • 1/4 cup sugar
  • 1/2 bunch seedless white grapes
  • 1 lemon, unpeeled and sliced
  • 2 peaches, unpeeled, pitted, and sliced
  • 1/2 honeydew, peeled, seeded, and diced
  • 1/2 liter club soda

Directions

Combine all ingredients in a large pitcher, stirring until sugar is completely dissolved. Serve immediately, or if making in advance, refrigerate up to 24 hours, and then add the club soda just before serving.

Set out an antipasto platter for your guests to nibble on while the rest of the meal is grilling.  We like to go to Costco (so classy haha) and pick up prosciutto, cheeses, crackers, olives, hummus, and veggies.  Then just arrange everything on a pretty serving dish – couldn’t be easier!

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Next is the salmon.  Be sure to soak your cedar planks for at least two hours before the party.  Also, have a spray bottle filled with water nearby for any flare-ups that might happen as the salmon is on the grill.   My favorite cedar plank salmon recipe is SOOO easy!  Simply brush the salmon fillet with olive oil, sprinkle with salt and cracked pepper, brush on dijon mustard, then sprinkle brown sugar over the top.  The sugar caramelizes and the salmon ends up with the most delicous smoky / sweet / tart flavor.  TRUST me, to die for!

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This quinoa salad is already becoming a staple in this summer’s dinner rotation at my house.  I love that it’s spicy and has such a nice crunch of vegetables.  I follow this recipe exactly with one exception:  I add chopped red and green bell peppers for an extra hit of veggies.

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  • 1 cup quinoa
  • 3 cups water
  • Salt to taste
  • 2 cups diced cucumber
  • 1 small red onion, finely minced (optional)
  • 2 cups finely diced tomatoes
  • 1 to 2 jalapeño or serrano peppers (to taste), seeded if desired and finely chopped
  • 1/2 cup chopped cilantro, plus several sprigs for garnish
  • 2 tablespoons fresh lime juice
  • 1 tablespoon red wine vinegar or sherry vinegar
  • 3 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
  • 1 avocado, sliced, for garnish

Directions

1. Place the quinoa in a bowl, and cover with cold water. Let sit for five minutes. Drain through a strainer, and rinse until the water runs clear. Bring the 3 cups water to a boil in a medium saucepan. Add salt (1/2 to 3/4 teaspoon) and the quinoa. Bring back to a boil, and reduce the heat to low. Cover and simmer 15 minutes or until the quinoa is tender and translucent; each grain should have a little thread. Drain off the water in the pan through a strainer, and return the quinoa to the pan. Cover the pan with a clean dishtowel, replace the lid and allow to sit for 10 minutes. If making for the freezer, uncover and allow to cool, then place in plastic bags. Flatten the bags and seal.

2. Meanwhile, place the finely diced cucumber in a colander, and sprinkle with salt. Toss and allow to sit for 15 minutes. Rinse the cucumber with cold water, and drain on paper towels. If using the onion, place in a bowl and cover with cold water. Let sit for five minutes, then drain, rinse with cold water and drain on paper towels.

3. Combine the tomatoes, chiles, cilantro, vinegar, lime juice and olive oil in a bowl. Add the cucumber and onion, season to taste with salt, and add the quinoa and cilantro. Toss together, and taste and adjust seasonings. Serve garnished with sliced avocado and cilantro sprigs.

Yield: Serves six.

Alongside the quinoa salad, serve some yummy grilled asparagus.  We like to throw ours on the grill in a basket or foil packet, drizzled with olive oil and seasoned with salt, pepper, and garlic.  So delicious and simple:

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Don’t forget dessert!  Try this recipe for glazed pineapple, and then serve each guest a big ol’ scoop of high quality vanilla ice cream with it.

Directions

Mix 4 tablespoons melted butter, 1/4 cup light brown sugar, 1/4 teaspoon each curry powder, cinnamon and vanilla extract, a pinch of salt and a splash of dark rum in a bowl. Slice apineapple in half lengthwise (keeping the top attached), then cut each half into 3 long wedges; cut out the core. Place 2 wedges on a sheet of foil; brush with the spiced butter and fold up. Repeat to make 2 more packets; grill over medium heat until the pineapple is soft and golden on the bottom, 15 to 20 minutes.

What are your favorite “al fresco” dinner recipes?  Please share!

Mexico Vacation – Part dos!

Hope you enjoyed the first barrage of photos from our vacay, because I’m about to post about a million more!  On our last day in Mexico, we visited Chichen Itza and it was quite an experience.

Our guide, Irving, was not only so funny, but he was incredibly polite, knowledgeable, and helpful throughout the trip:

At the entrance to Chichen Itza:

The pathways are lined with dozens of vendors.  It was a bit disconcerting, really, because everywhere you turn, someone is asking you for “one dollar, ten pesos!!”  But it was interesting to see their wares:

 

I never knew before this trip, but the Chichen Itza area is more than just the famous pyramid – there are dozens of ruins around this ancient Mayan city:

The architectural details are really fascinating:

…and then, of course, there is the pyramid, which is absolutely massive!

 

Unreal, right?  It was a once in a lifetime experience, for sure.  The only drawback was that it was SO incredibly hot.  Fortunately, our next stop was to a “cenote,” or natural swimming hole:

And then we headed to a really cool restaurant that served traditional foods of the Yucatan in a buffet style.  I was obsessed with the assortment of masks on the walls:

 

And check out this gorgeous fountain behind the restaurant:

Finally, we had time for a quick walk around Valladolid to see the town square and church:

My new obsession – day of the dead figurines!

The vendors at this shop were calling Trever “Mister Muscles” and “Arnold Schwarzenegger,” haha 😉

What a fantastic way to end our trip.  We’re already plotting the next one!!

Mexico Vacation – Part uno!

Hola amigos!!  We’re back from our vacation in Mexico and had such a blasssty!

I have a ton of pics from the trip so I thought it would be fun to share a few.

We headed from Philly to Cancun on a nonstop flight, which was so easy (even though I’m a nervous flyer).  Obligatory plane pic:

We arrived at our resort, Secrets Capri, just a few short hours later!  Our room wasn’t ready for us yet, so we headed straight to the outdoor bar (obvi, haha):

It was a little bit rainy and cloudy on our first day, which worried me – I wanted SUN!  But shortly after we arrived, it started to clear up.

We quickly discovered how much we loved being at an all-inclusive resort, and spent a ton of time by the pool and at the pool bar.

The staff at Secrets was so SUPER friendly and accommodating.  The food was great – they have 5 different restaurants to choose from, and they were all delicious!  I think my favorite meal was at the Italian restaurant called Portofino.  We asked the waiter to take a pic of us there:

Every night, there were different shows around the resort for entertainment.  One night was a hip hop show, one night was a “rock” show, and one night we saw a mariachi trio – they were so talented!

We also took a sushi class – so fun!  Here is my creation (after we ate half the roll):

And Trever making his roll with the sushi chef:

The resort is beatiful – here are a couple of shots I took around the property:

 

One of my favorite parts of this trip was our visit to Xplor.  Such a blast!  You can ride ziplines, drive through caves and jungles on amphibious vehicles, and swim through underground caves.  We had SO much fun there!

We also visited the spa at the resort, which was beautiful.  They have a “hydrotherapy” spa, which is a series of showers and steam rooms that are meant to relax and detoxify you…it.was.glorious.  And we also enjoyed a couples massage and a facial.  Hopefully my skin was glowing after the facial!

 I know my hubby’s was – well, maybe it was due to the tequila shot too 😉

…and now it’s back to reality.  We’re spending the day relaxing, tackling a mountain of laundry, cuddling with the furkids, and cutting our grass which grew about 12 feet in 1 week!

I’ll be back tomorrow with part two of our vacation – see ya soon!