Food Prep & Favorite Meals

 

So you are probably wondering why I think camping is so relaxing, considering I just posted a never ending list of things to pack and things you need.  Am I contradicting myself?  No.  I’m a firm believer in doing a lot of prep ahead of time so that when I actually get to the campsite and get everything set up, that I can just sit and relax and visit with friends and family.

One of the easiest things to do ahead of time is meal prep and considering that’s my role at the campground (yes that sounds sexist, but I’d rather cook at the campsite then hook up the sewer pipe…that job is all man), I do as much ahead of time as I can.  Whether it’s marinating chicken, chopping up vegetables or prepping a breakfast casserole, all of those little things make camping a more enjoyable experience…. not to mention less dishes to do at the campsite, and I’m all for that!

Many of our camp outings usually include a large group of people and we all select what meal we want to cook for the group and have our “assigned camp meal”.  We are usually responsible for feeding 20-25 people, so again, prepping ahead of time is a life saver!  Today I’m going to share with you my favorite camp meals that you can prep ahead of time to make your life easier!  My secret weapon:  disposable aluminum foil trays and Ziploc bags.  I absolutely love these items and could not live without them!

aluminum tray   Aluminum Trays

ziplocZiplocs

BREAKFAST OF CHAMPIONS!

I have one favorite breakfast that is tried and true and one newly discovered breakfast that I first made last year and was an instant hit.  Both can be prepped ahead of time and stored in an aluminum tray.  You just pop both in the oven to warm when ready for breakfast.

Breakfast Burritos – the tried and true, filling breakfast meal.  At least one morning of a camp trip, I make chorizo and egg breakfast burritos.  When cooking for a big group, you can easily make the burrito mixture ahead of time and then heat it up and assemble at the campsite.  You really don’t need a recipe for this simple of a meal, just cook the chorizo and once cooked, add a pack of eggs!  Just in case you don’t know how to do this, here is a link to a sample recipe that looks pretty good!

Breakfast Burrito

burrito

Tater Tot Breakfast Casserole – this is a VERY easy make ahead meal that I tried out last year and it was a campground hit!  Two of these trays was plenty to feed our big group.  Again, I made the entire dish from home ahead of time, even the baking, and at the campsite just heated everything up.  This is definitely a repeat recipe and I will be making this again.  I know it sounds a bit weird, but think of the tater tots as hash browns.

Tater Tot Casserole

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LUNCH TIME!  

Actually, we usually NEVER eat a real lunch while we are camping because we are stuffed from breakfast and getting ready for dinner!  But, on the occasions that we do have a real lunch, I’ve found that hitting up my local grocery store’s deli section makes for a quick and time-saving lunch.  You can get anything from a pasta salad, cold fried chicken, potato salad, marinated veggies, etc.  Nothing is easier than that!

DINNER TIME!

Our group really cooks some amazing dinners, so we usually don’t make the basic hot dog and hamburger dinners (although there is nothing wrong with that!).  Usually, there is a delicious cut of meat, salads, potatoes, sides, etc.

When I have a dinner assignment, my go-to meals are carne asada tacos, refried beans and homemade chips, salsa and guacamole.  To accomplish this, we go to our local carniceria (meat market) and request the meat already marinated.  The prep that I do ahead of time is to chop up the onions, tomatoes, cilantro and limes and make the salsa and guacamole.  I also can make my beans ahead of time as well.  All that needs to be done at camp is to grill the meat, heat the tortillas and beans and assemble!

My alternative dinner is a good marinated chicken with my favorite Mexican corn on the cob recipe and a green salad.  So good!  Again, I marinate the chicken ahead of time, buy a packaged salad bag and then prepare the butter mixture that is to be put on the corn.  All things that can be done ahead of time in the comforts of your own home!

Mexican Corn

corn

 

DESSERT!

The past few years, there has been a drought in California and everywhere we went camping, we have not been able to have a campfire.  I’m hoping that this coming year, we can again have our campfires and when we do, we can break out the S’mores sticks!  Yes, we all like a traditional S’more, but I’ve also learned about some delicious variations from our camp buddies.  One of those includes using a Peep as the marshmallow…. who knew?!  Roasting a Peep over the campfire creates a caramelized, crunchy exterior and is delicious tucked into chocolate and graham crackers!  The other alternative that we have had includes a Reese’s Peanut Butter cup instead of your plain old Hershey bar.  Again, amazing and the trick to this is setting your peanut butter cup on top of the graham cracker near the fire so it starts to get soft and melted before you assemble it with the marshmallow.

Peeps S’more

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Gourmet-Smores

 

Then I began to think about other combinations that are out there and found this on Pinterest to share with you all.

So I’ll leave you with this and ask you to share what tips and tricks you use to help you with your advanced prep and most importantly…. what S’more are you going to try this year??  I know I’m going with the Salted Caramel all the way!

Happy Camping!

Coral

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Getting Started & Supplies Lists

I imagine that for anyone who buys a trailer, and I’m sure there are exceptions to this, you know how to camp and you love to camp. So, you know the type of supplies and things that you need to have a good camp trip (according to your personal standards).  After we purchased our trailer, we discovered that there were TONS more supplies that we needed to buy…. because of course, we had so much more room!  And a fridge and a bathroom!  And I’ll be honest, the first year was expensive to buy all of the exterior components (think trailer hitch, new battery, new tires for the trailer, tire covers, leveling blocks, etc., etc.) AND all of the interior items (pots, pans, dishes, towels, blankets, toiletries, etc.) that we needed to make it our mini-home.  Luckily, we had our old set of pots and pans in the garage that worked perfectly as our camping cookware and we also raided the linen closet for old towels and sheets that would be our “camping linen”.  Let me tell you,  Camping World and our local Wal-Mart were our new best friends.

Since we were new to the trailer camping world, I found that keeping a pad of paper and a pen in the trailer for our first few outings really came in handy to jot down items that came to mind as I realized that we didn’t exactly have everything that we needed. After returning home from each camp trip, I would put those items on my shopping list and be sure to add them to the trailer for the next time.  Over time, we found our rhythm and groove and there was less and less that we needed to add to the inside of the trailer.  Now when we go camping, I do a quick review of toiletries and supplies that are in there and it’s basically a matter of packing up our meals and clothes.  We have found that we do take a lot more junk camping with us now, which my husband complains about each time we pack up the truck, but it is awesome to have everything we need to make our camp trips awesome and comfortable.  Plus, when you have a 7-year-old kid, we need bikes, scooters, helmets, toys and more….so, so, so much more.

To make our first initial stocking up of items easier, and after talking to my friend Priscilla, she shared with me a checklist that she had created. What’s great about this checklist is that it’s an excel sheet and you can tailor it to what you need for each particular camping trip.  I’ve also added on a typical grocery shopping list to the second tab, since our family tends to make the same type of meals when camping (more on that in future posts) and we like to have our standard staples.  Please feel free to download the excel sheet for yourself and customize to your needs!

TRAILER SUPPLIES

So, after checking out my checklist, what do you think is missing from the camping list?? What would you add on there that is considered your “must-have”?  I’d love to hear it!

What’s Ahead: All-Time Favorite Camping Meals

Happy Camping!

Coral

Coral’s History of Camping

So, how did I come to be an avid camper? What’s so great about it?  And why should you care about my camping stories and experience?  Because I’ve had many experiences with all types of camping and even the scary ones end up being exciting and fun (and most memorable) and I would highly recommend camping to anyone!

The 90’s

As I said in my intro, I didn’t really camp with my immediate family growing up. However, I did have several summer camp trips with my favorite Aunt and Uncle and clearly remember how much fun we had.  First of all, my Aunt and Uncle are a blast to hang out with and they always had a good group of friends/family that made it a very fun camping group!  I was lucky enough to go to Shasta Lake on several occasions with them and absolutely had a blast.  The camping group would all chip in and they always rented the biggest houseboat (see picture) and we would boat and jet ski all over the lake.  Once we found a good docking spot, us kids would get to set up tents on land.  The bravest of the kids would sleep in the tents (I was not brave) while the adults enjoyed the amenities and luxuries of the houseboat!  That is, until the bears raided the campsite at night and then all the kids were right back in the houseboat too!  These are my earliest memories of camping that really helped to build the foundation of my love for camping outdoors.

Houseboat

Typical Houseboat Rental

2000’s

Fast forward to my late college years and meeting my future husband, Rigo. As college graduates just out of school and broke, we decided that camping would be a great, affordable vacation.  And we were right!  We bought our first 4-man Sir. Edmund Hillary tent, a Coleman propane grill, a cooler, some sleeping bags and we were set!  Sequoia National Park, here we come!  We spent a wonderful 5 days in the park at a campground called Stony Creek.

Stony Creek 2

Stony Creek, Sequoia National Park

It was just the two of us, fresh air and nature.  We also didn’t realize that when you go camping mid-week, that you pretty much have the campground to yourself.  It was nice, but VERY quiet!  Quiet enough that you heard the banging of pots and pans from neighboring campsites who were trying to scare the bears away!  Each day we enjoyed fishing, hiking the “potholes”, swimming in waterfalls and even seeing an animal show from the local park ranger.  We had a great time and would enjoy many more trips like that.

We enjoyed many more camp trips using our camp gear and have many wonderful memories, both in California and in Nevada after moving to the area in 2004. We then had a long break from camping that started in 2008 with the birth of our son, Lucas.  We finally ventured back out to the camping scene in 2011 when he was three years old.  We figured that would be a good age to start introducing him to camping and a much easier age for us to start taking him to the great outdoors (no diapers or bottles to worry about).

lucas 3yo

Cutest camper ever!

 

Blue Lakes

Blue Lakes, California

The three of us ventured out to Blue Lakes with our friends Joey & Jamie.  It was during this trip that in the middle of the night, we heard a LOUD noise coming from the bed of my husband’s pick-up truck.  Keep in mind that at this campsite there were NO bear lockers at the time and we were in the heart of bear country!  From within our tent, I nestled deep into the sleeping bag with our son Lucas and as my husband peers out the tent window, he sees a black bear standing up along the side of our truck, ripping the tarp that was covering our coolers full of food.  Lucas and I sprang up and were sitting in the dark in our tent and even in the camping darkness, I could see his large, scared, dark eyes!  He quickly laid back down and in his three-year-old little voice said, “Quick mommy, lay back down!”  We eventually scared the bear off, luckily, with no damage to our new truck and in the morning assessed the damage to our food supply!  Lucas was very mad at the fact that the bear got all of his fruit snacks and Chips Ahoy cookies!  Further evidence was found about 100 yards from our tent site!

Bear Poop

Bear raid evidence…notice the fruit snacks

 

Upon returning home from the exciting weekend, we recounted the story to my parents whom promptly stated “You need a trailer if you are taking our grandson camping!”.

Now

The following year, in 2012, we bought our used travel trailer and the adventures haven’t stopped and have gotten even better!

Trailer

Our home away from home

 

So, how do you camp? What are some of your stories and experiences?  Please share them below!

What’s ahead: Getting Started and Supplies Lists

Happy Camping!

Coral

Welcome to Campfire Secrets!

Hi!  And thanks for checking out my site!  I’m a professional, hard-working gal who loves to recharge in the outdoors with a camping trip. Come join me as I talk about how relaxing and enjoyable it can be to “unplug” from the world and really bond with your friends and family in the beautiful outdoors.  I plan to show you about all the beauty that surrounds us in Northern Nevada and to show you that taking the time to do things that are enjoyable is worth it.  I can also show you how camping doesn’t have to be so “rugged” and share all the little tips and tricks that we have come to rely on.  Each year my family tries to get outdoors at least six times over the summer.  When we do these trips, our main focus is that of just relaxing, trying to leave the cell phone in the drawer and spending good quality time with our son and our friends who come with us.  My family is a typical, All-American family that really tries to build those family bonds and memories and we have lots of fun!  Some of my greatest memories have been the result of an awesome camp trip!  And it’s usually because something unusual happened!  I plan on having different topics so you can really get a sense of how we do it!  I plan on showcasing my camping tips, recipes, product reviews, favorite camp stories and favorite camp spots!  Can’t wait to show it to you!

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