Easy Camp Chili

This is our go to chili recipe when we are camping.  We mentioned in our Sequoia-Kings Canyon post how simple it is and a good meal for rainy weather.  It is easy to throw together and is super filling.  We used to use a box mix (you can find a post on that here), but we were worried about cross contact with peanuts/tree nuts so we went back to this recipe.  The Boy has pretty sever allergies, so we have to be really careful with food.  There is minimal prep for this meal and you can make it vegetarian.  In the past, we have served it with corn chips, cornbread, cheese, hot dogs, ground beef, sour cream…the list goes on.   It is great for using what you have in your fridge at home!

Chili

Easy Camp Chili

Ingredients
1 can pinto beans (drained)
1 can garbanzo beans (drained)
1 can kidney beans (drained)
1 can black beans (drained)
1 can diced tomatoes
1 tablespoon chili powder
1 tablespoon cumin
1 cup salsa
1 pound of meat (Optional and your choice.  We have used ground turkey, ground beef, and diced hot dogs.  Any will work.)

Additional toppings/sides:  grated cheese, sour cream, tortilla chips, corn chips, cornbread, muffins

Directions
1.  If you are using meat, brown the meat in a large pot.
2.  Drain the beans and add them to the cooked meat.  We do this at camp and just pour the liquid into a container for the next garbage run.  If you have a colander, you can rinse the beans but this isn’t necessary.
3.  Add the spices.  I usually pre-measure these at home and store them in a little container for ease.
4.  Add the salsa.  Again, we pre-measure this at home.
5.  Cook until heated through.
6.  Serve!  You can add fun toppings or eat as is.

Hot Bananas (with Chocolate)

One of our favorite desserts when camping is hot bananas.  We love to slice them open and stuff them with mini-marshmallows and dark chocolate chips (we like the Enjoy Life brand).  This is such a great camping treat because they can cook while you are eating dinner.  It is also a great alternative to S’Mores.  And I know this sounds like a completely bizarre recipe.  But give it a try.  It really is good.

MeltedMarshmellowMaddness

Hot Bananas

Ingredients
Bananas (one per person)
Chocolate Chips
Marshmallows (we like the minis for this)
Foil

Directions
1.  Peel the bananas.
2.  Make a slice down the middle of the banana (long way), but do not cut all the way through the banana.
3.  Stuff with mini-marshmallows and chocolate chips.
4.  Wrap in foil.
5.  Place on the barbeque.  Indirect heat is best.
6.  Cook until heated through and the marshmallows are gooey.

MarshmellowMaddness

Cleaning Up Our Cast Iron – Major Camping Fail

We have two cast iron Dutch ovens we use when we are camping. We usually store them at The Mountains but we realized our storage method was subpar. We were storing under our outdoor stove, covered with a tarp. We thought they would be protected from the rain and snow. Umm. Yeah. Not really. They got super rusty.

Cast Iron Rust

Using Southern Living Magazines 11 Cast Iron Commandments and a lot of elbow grease, The Missus cleaned up the smaller if the two in time for Thanksgiving.

Before

Here is how she did it:

1.  Wash the cast iron with soap and water.  We know soap and water are a no-no in cast iron, but we needed to do this do remove some of the dirt and rust.
2.  Using steel stool pads, scrub the pan.  I like the steel wool that comes with the blue soap on the pad (S.O.S brand).  It seems to help remove the rust a bit better than just water.
3.  Rinse.
4.  Scrub the pan with water and coarse salt.
5.  Rinse.
6.  Repeat the above steps until the pan is rust free.  For really tough spots, we used a steel wire brush.  This helped in those really tough spots.

Miracle Brush
7.  Once rust free, coat the entire pan with vegetable oil and bake upside down in the oven at 350 degrees for one hour.
8.  You can repeat step 7 until you feel the pan is seasoned to your liking.  Once it is finished, you want to avoid any soaps when cleaning.

Finished

Eating Our Way a Through Thanksgiving

Camping for Thanksgiving is something The Missus did a lot growing up. Camping at El Capitan for Thanksgiving, was a new experience for The Mister. To make it special we planned all our Thanksgiving favorites. We decided to cook as much as possible in cast iron and to clean up the meals a bit – just make them a little healthier. We can’t figure out why, but the food tasted amazing. We think it had to do with playing all morning at the beach and not spending time at an appetizer table. Because really – the food was epic. Here’s what we had:

Smoked Turkey
Dairy Free Cast Iron Cornbread
Dutch Oven Green Bean Casserole
Clean Cranberry Sauce
Canned Cranberry Sauce (Oh Yeah!  The Mister hates it but I grew up on it and have to have at least a taste every Thanksgiving.)
Campfire Sweet Potatoes
Stovetop Stuffing (a staple The Mister and Grandma could not do without!)
Dairy Free, Gluten Free Pumpkin Pie

Smoked Turkey:  We took a small smoker with us and smoked turkey legs and breasts.  The Mister made the brine using a generic recipe he found online.  We prepped a concentrated mixture at home and stored it in the ice chest.  On Wednesday night, we added water and the turkey and let it sit overnight.  We brought a separate ice chest just for the turkey.  I didn’t want to risk the brine leaking all over our other food and contaminating it with poultry juices. Thursday morning, The Mister put the turkey on the smoker and we cooked them low and slow.  When the turkey reached 165 degrees on an electronic meat thermometer, he took it off to rest.  The turkey was amazing.  Super moist and yummy.

Turkey

Dairy Free Cast Iron Cornbread:  I can’t for the life of me figure out where I found this recipe, but boy was it amazing.  Slightly sweet and crumbly.  I used Bob’s Red Mill Coarse Ground Cornmeal.  We prepped all the ingredients right in camp.  We tried to cook it over the fire but it was too hot.  We ended up throwing it in my mom’s oven in her camper to finish cooking the bread.  I could have eaten a plate of this by itself.  It was that good.  It made great leftovers for breakfast the next day.

Cornbread

Cast Iron Cornbread

Dairy Free Cast Iron Cornbread
2 cups coarsely ground yellow cornmeal
1 tsp salt
1 tsp baking soda
2 tsp baking powder
1 egg at room temperature, beaten
4 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted and cooled (we used Earth Balance)
1 1/2 cups plain yogurt, at room temperature (we used vanilla flavored coconut yogurt)
4 tablespoons honey

Spray your cast iron skillet with non stick spray.  Mix ingredients together in a bowl and poor into prepared skillet.  Cook low on fire for 30 minutes or until bread is cooked through.

Dutch Oven Green Bean Casserole: This is a must have for The Mister.  He loves green bean casserole.  I am not a fan, but I actually really liked this.  I found the Healthy Green Bean Casserole recipe online and modified it a bit.  We cooked it in a dutch oven and had to use leftover Namaste Gluten Free Pancake Mix to fry the onions since I forgot coconut flour.  The onions weren’t super crunchy and they mixed well with the fresh green beans.  I cut all the vegetables at home, so we wouldn’t have to do a ton of prep at camp.  I fried the onions at camp so they would be crunch, although I don’t think they crunched up a whole lot.  As for coals and the dutch oven, we just guessed.  We added what we thought we needed on top and bottom and were pleasantly surprised that it cooked through.  It took about an hour to cook.

GreenBeanCasserole2  GreenBeanCasserole3

Clean Cranberry Sauce:  I am a huge fan of Danielle Walker and her grain free cook books.  Her food is Ah.Maz.Ing.  I used her recipe for the cranberry sauce.  I made it at home before we left and it kept really well in the ice chest.  The cranberry sauce had just the right tartness.  Oh my gosh it was good.

Thanksgiving Cooking

Campfire Sweet Potatoes:  I love sweet potatoes.  The rest of my family – not so much.  We made too many of these and ended up tossing out the leftovers.  I just wrapped the potatoes in foil, poked a few holes in the potatoes, and tossed them on the grill over the fire.  I cooked them until they were fork soft.  And that’s it.  Easy peasy.  I don’t put butter on mine, but you could if you wanted.

Sweet Potatoes

Dairy Free Gluten Free Pumpkin Pie:  I’m not sure why, but I didn’t get a picture of the pie.  I made it at home before our trip, and then my mom kept it in her fridge to keep it from spoiling.  I used Danielle Walker’s pie filling recipe and a generic gluten free crust.  We are a nut free household, I opted not to use her pie crust recipe.  The filling was great.  The crust not so much, but who likes the crust anyway?

 

Sweet Potato Salad

My mom had this recipe and wanted to try it for dinner one night while were at Antelope Lake (you can read about that here).  It was excellent! 

The night before we planned to make the salad, we wrapped the sweet potatoes in foil and cooked them on the BBQ until they were fork tender.  The next day we peeled and diced them before adding them to the salad.

I ended up making it on our playgroup camping trip (you can read about that here), but cooked the potatoes that day.  It was a hit with all the adults – especially our vegetarian friends.

Sweet Potato Salad

Sweet Potato Salad

4 large sweet potatoes, baked, peeled, and diced
3 tbsp. olive oil
1/2 red onion, sliced thinly
1/2 cup frozen edamame, shelled and thawed (we just used an entire small bag)
1 cup thinly sliced celery
1/4 cup fresh parsley, chopped
1 tbsp fresh chives, minced
2 tbsp lemon juice
1 tbsp Dijon mustard
Salt and Pepper to taste

Combine onion, edamame, celery, parsley, and chives in a bowl.  Add diced sweet potatoes. Whisk together lemon juice ,mustard, and olive oil in a bowl. Pour over the potato mixture and gently toss. Serve immediately or chill and serve cold.

*To help with preparation, you can pre-chop your veggies at home before you set off on your trip.

 

Westy in the Redwoods – Richardson’s Grove State Park

The Missus was back to work this week after an amazing summer off. She was cursing herself Friday night. Why, oh why did she plan a camping trip a week into the new school year? After an awesome weekend with the kids in the redwoods, she would totally do it again. Living the dream. Right?

Coastal Redwoods

We loved Richardson’s Grove State Park. It was super kid friendly. The Girl was a big fan if the flush toilets. It has been awhile since we didn’t camp with pit toilets. We hiked 1.6 miles with the kids Saturday morning. Awesome EdVentures hike. Fun little clues for the kids to follow. They had to answer a trivia question to earn a patch from the park ranger. So much fun.

EdVentures Quest

EdVentures Badge

We all napped in The Westy that afternoon. After a long week, it was needed. Great swimming hole on the Eel River. The Missus forgot swimsuits. That didn’t stop the kids from getting wet.

Swimming

While the Missus cooked dinner, the kids made friends with a little boy camped next to us. Loved how well they played together. All of us loved that it kept the kids entertained. The Mister was not excited to hear we were having chili for dinner. Umm, can you say easy meal planning on a busy week. Turned out to be really good and The Mister said he would totally eat it again.

Cowboy Chili

chili

We walked the interpretive trail with the kids on Sunday morning. Tossed a few rocks into the river and ate whatever food we had left for lunch. And yes – we enjoyed our camping Coke, too.

Interpretative Trail

Eel River

Rock Throw

We stopped and Confusion Hill on the way home. The kids had fun and The Boy dug the train ride.

Confusion Hill

Did we mention we decided to potty train him this week. On top of The Missus being back to work. On top of using a new babysitter. On top of going camping. Not our best in the way of planning. It went well though. Potty training and camping. Who knew?

Potty Training

Have you ever potty trained while camping?