Wednesday, August 31, 2011

Quick & Easy Summer Herb Marinade

 In the summer this is my go-to marinade.  Essential ingredients in any good marinade are an acid (like lemon juice), a fat (oil), salt, and flavorings.  
I am herb-crazy-woman in the summer since I only get to use them from my garden for 3 months.  Every day I make something with herbs in it, or I at least put mint sprigs in my water.  
For this easy chicken recipe, whip out the food processor and throw in:
Garlic -- go for it and live a little -- toss a handful!
Olive oil - around 1 cup, though I vary how much I use depending on how many pieces I'm using.
White Wine or Lemon Juice - 1/4 -1/2 cup or so
Kosher Salt - a couple of teaspoons
Lots of Herbs - I mix basil, oregano, thyme, rosemary and parsley usually.  

Process until smooth and pour most of the marinade into a ziplock with the chicken breasts.  Marinate for at least 4 hours.  Reserve about a 1/2 cup of the marinade for grilling.

Grill the chicken over indirect heat - which means the upper rack until the center is no longer pink.  Baste the chicken with the reserved marinade and cook 3 more minutes.  
I love this recipe in summer salads!

Saturday, August 27, 2011

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!

Tuesday, August 16, 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

Sunday, August 14, 2011

Read with the Renegade

Photobucket Pictures, Images and Photos

I'm going to start doing low-commitment book groups every once in a while. Here is how it will work:
*I'll announce the book I'm doing, and you see if it interests you.
*I will provide a link, and you click on it, and order the book.
*You take notes on the book while you are reading it
(or at least highlight & come ready with some discussion)
*We will have a one-time meeting at my house (for locals obviously) to talk about the book. Someday I may do this via cyberspace, but that day is not now. ;)
That's it!

Here is the first book I've chosen: "How to Keep the "Little" in your Girl" by Danna Gresh (the link provides a purchase option for the book or ebook). Don't let the title fool you. This isn't about trying to get your daughter to stay "little." It is about protecting our daughters from the mainstream influences that bombard them at every turn, and fight to shape who they are and what they think about themselves. I am a firm believer that, as moms, we need to intentionally parent our daughters with a very different world view than what culture provides. I am half way through this book and I find it to be well researched and useful. If you have a daughter between the ages of 8-12, this book is FOR YOU!!! My daughter will turn 13 this year, but the principles apply, so even if your daughter is closer to the teen years, don't hesitate.
The date of our book discussion is Monday, Sept. 19 from 10:00-11:45am. Please respond in the comment box below or on facebook to let me know if you are in on this fall's "Read with the Renegade!"