Happy Family Camper Hacks

  • Shrimp Salad

     I started making this shrimp salad more than a decade ago. I found a variation of it in a magazine and started adding and removing things to make it to our taste and we finally have the perfect recipe. It’s cool and refreshing and perfect for a summer lunch. 

    Ingredients:

    • 1 lb. of shrimp chopped
    • 1-2 ears of corn cooked on the grill and cut off the cob (we like more because it adds a little sweetness)
    • 1 red bell pepper diced
    • 1/2 cup pesto (you can make your own, but when we are camping we take the jarred shortcut)
    • 1/2 cup mayo
    • Juice of half a lemon
    • Dash of salt and pepper
    This dish couldn’t be easier because you just mix all of the ingredients together! I hate doing dishes so I actually put everything together in a ziploc bag and shake it up. I do recommend letting it sit together in the refrigerator for at least 3 hours to allow the pesto to penetrate the shrimp and veggies. You can serve with crackers or as a sandwich. 
  • Egg and Sausage Roll-ups

    This idea was so simple that I couldn’t resist trying it. We love anything in a tortilla! 
    Ingredients:
    • Four eggs
    • 1 cup shredded cheese
    • Four tortillas 
    • Half a tube of sausage (we cooked the second half at the same time for breakfast the next day)
    Cook the sausage and break it up like you would with ground beef. The crispy edges are the best part! Once the sausage is done, set it to the side and scramble the eggs. When they are just about done, add the cheese to the top of the eggs and warm up the tortillas. We let ours cook a little too long. You really aren’t trying to brown them, just make them pliable. Once they are warm, place each tortilla on a plate. Add the eggs and sprinkle the sausage on top and roll it up!  
  • Shrimp Boil Foil Packets

    When we are camping on the beach we always take advantage of the local seafood! Shrimp is one of our favorites and the easiest way to make it while camping is in individual shrimp boil packages. It’s easy cleanup and you don’t even need a plate! 
    Ingredients:
    2 lbs. of shrimp per four people
    1/2 small bag of red potatoes
    3 ears of corn
    2-3 tbs. Old Bay or seafood seasoning
    1 lemon quartered
    This dish couldn’t be easier. The first thing you need to do is par-cook the potatoes. I just cut them in half and throw them in a pot and boil for a few minutes or you can throw them in the microwave with a splash of water and oil for four minutes. After that, cut foil pieces about 2 feet long for each person eating. Arrange foil on the picnic table and add equal amounts of corn, potatoes and shrimp per setting. Liberally sprinkle the old bay over each packet and add a quarter of a lemon to each one. From there, all you have to do is fold up the packet and cook for about 12 minutes. We made ours on the flat top grill but you could absolutely put them on the grill or in the oven. I like to go in every few minutes and shake them up to make sure everything is getting mixed up.
    One thing to note… We like to have extra shrimp, so I also purchased an extra ear of corn and pound of shrimp and made one packet without any seasoning. We used the extra for shrimp salad the next day! 
  • Pancake and Bacon Sticks

    My husband loves breakfast and I’m always looking for new recipes to make. I saw this idea on pinterest and had to give it a try! 
    Ingredients:
    • Pancake mix (and whatever your box recommends)
    • Bacon
    • Syrup
    First thing you have to do is cook up the bacon. We make ours on a flat top grill. When I’m camping I always try to do things the easy way so for the pancakes I mixed the ingredients up in a ziploc bag then poured what I needed into a solo cup. You need a little bit of precision for this recipe, so pouring from the bag wasn’t an option. 

    Once the bacon was cooked, I broke each piece in half and then poured the pancakes in a strip then placed the bacon on top of the batter. After each piece was done I poured a bit more batter on top. Depending on your heat, you really only need to cook it for a minute or two and flip. 

    We serve ours with extra bacon and syrup. The little ones love it! 

     

  • Strawberry Daiquiri

    It’s officially strawberry season and I was looking for new ways to use all of our fresh berries when the thought of a strawberry daiquiri came to mind. We are always try to plan a few fun drinks during our summer trips so I thought I would test a few recipes in my ninja bullet blender. This one ended up being the winner. Super easy and so much better than the pre-made mix from the store.

    Recipe:

    1/2 cp ice

    1/4 cp sugar

    1 tbs lime juice

    1/2 cp lemon/lime soda

    1/4 fresh strawberries

    1/2 cp frozen sliced strawberries

    1/4 cp rum

    Mix everything together until smooth. Keep a little extra soda on hand in case the ice gets stuck. 

  • Beautiful views and exciting adventures at Douthat State Park

    Nothing will ever compare to our perfect trip to Douthat State Park in April. The weather was perfect, the people were perfect and the Lakeside Campground provided a picturesque backdrop for our vacation.

    We had a waterfront spot with the most unbelievable views and the sites were pretty spread out. Some were closer than others, but there was a lot more room around the sites as compared to resort-style campgrounds that look like parking lots. 

    The Lakeside campground was recently renovated and each site now has water and electric. The bathhouse was also renovated and included individual shower rooms, which are a plus

    On our first day we took a family walk around the entire lake. It was a great way to see all the park has to offer. It took about two hours, but it wasn’t too hard. We were able to see the children’s fishing hole, the beach and boat rentals, waterfalls and the playgrounds. 

    Seriously, playgrounds across America, you really need to up your game. One playground at the park actually had a waterfall in the background. If we had more time, I would have set up a playdate at the playground and brought wine and cheese for the parents to enjoy the view!  

    On the second day we rented a boat and did a little fishing. The Easter Bunny brought each kid a fishing pole and we put them to good use. The campground had just filled the lake with trout, but we didn’t have any luck. I blame their attention spans. They lasted a good thirty minutes, but Joel enjoyed being on the water. We were actually able to dock the boat right in front of the campsite which was a bonus. 
    There was a nice beach with a roped off area for swimming, but it was a little too cold for a dip. Next to the beach there was a big recreation building, however it wasn’t open when we went by.
    Over the years, we’ve been to dozens of campgrounds, but we have never had such nice camp hosts. Our youngest really warmed up to them and they treated us like family. They really made our trip even better. 
    Our neighbors were also some of the best campers we’ve ever met. All the kids played together riding bikes, chasing each other, playing games and catching salamanders. On our last night we actually said it would never be better than this. Many of them came over after to dark to join us for a movie. When Woody falls asleep in a camping chair at 8 p.m., you know it’s been a good day! 
    Here’s a note about check-in, there are several different campgrounds to choose from at this park. Whispering Pines is the first one you come across. If you are staying there, you don’t have to go all the way into the park to register. They have everything waiting for you at the board as you pull in. If you are staying at White Oak, Lakeside, or Beaver Dam, you go to the check-in station further down the road and register there. 
    Another important note, PAY ATTENTION TO THE SIGNS! We drove past the Lakeside campground entrance and there was nowhere to turn around. I mean, nowhere. We went an additional 15 miles and through another state park. It took extra time, but the payoff was worth it! 
    Here are a few details about the other campgrounds at the park:
    Whispering Pines: This is the first campground and the sites are big and very spread out. Each site is pretty level and there’s so much room between each spot. This is the newest section and it’s not quite as wooded, but there is a section near a fast-moving creek that’s pretty sweet. 
    White Oak: You have to cross a narrow bridge to get to the White Oak campground and for that reason we avoided it. I’ve heard horror stories of people getting stuck there and it actually happened two days after we left. That said, the sites were very wooded and you really felt like you were in nature. The sites weren’t 100% level, but that’s the price you pay for privacy and a more authentic camping experience. 
    Beaver Dam: This campground was closed during our visit, but I’m told they have 14 equestrian sites. 
    Cabins: There were so many different cabins to choose from, but we didn’t have a chance to go inside. That said, they had pretty good reviews on Trip Advisor. 
    The only downside we experienced was the lack of wifi, but that was also a good thing. The kids couldn’t get on their devices and I couldn’t check work email. 
    Overall, we will definitely be back. This campground has officially taken over the number one spot in my book! 
  • Camping Meal Planner #1

    When we go camping on longer trips we like to make a meal plan. If we don’t, we inevitably forget something or eat out more than we should. I’m all about efficiency, so I try to choose meals that we can have leftovers for lunch or that can be turned into a new meal. I also try to prep and freeze as much as possible. I do them all the weekend before we leave and freeze them in a Ziploc bag to save space in the fridge. The most important thing about this tip is to freeze it flat so it saves space in the freezer and defrosts quickly.

    Monday
    Breakfast: Bacon, egg and cheese hash brown scramble
    Lunch: Italian pasta salad – delicious hard salami mixed with made-ahead penne, mozzarella and Italian dressing
    Dinner: Cheese-stuffed burgers – beef burgers stuffed with a square of white cheddar are frozen

    Tuesday:
    Breakfast: Pancakes and sausage
    Lunch: Leftover burgers
    Dinner: Fajitas – chopped bell peppers, onions and slicked chicken are mixed with taco seasoning and frozen flat.

    Wednesday:
    Breakfast: Cinnamon bun pancakes – in this easy breakfast, flatten and grill canned cinnamon buns then watch as the sugary topping melts on the plate.
    Lunch: Quesadillas – cheese and leftover fajitas melted together in flour tortillas.
    Friday: Steak bites – these delicious and tender steak bites were a last-minute addition to the menu. The steaks were cut into cubes, seasoned and frozen for easy cooking.

    Thursday:
    Breakfast: Steak breakfast burritos – leftover steak made these egg and salsa verde burritos sing.
    Lunch: Roast beef sandwiches
    Dinner: Stromboli/Pizza – you can buy a frozen pizza or make your own and grill it in a cast iron pan or flat-top grill.

    Friday:
    Breakfast: Cinnamon-sugar donuts – Pop can biscuits are fried until golden brown in a cast iron pan then smothered in cinnamon and sugar.
    Lunch: BBQ chicken sandwiches – Split chicken breasts marinated in tangy BBQ sauce and frozen flat.
    Dinner: Buffalo chicken wraps – The spicy shredded chicken for these wraps was made ahead and frozen then mixed with whipped cream cheese the day-of eating.

  • Quesadillas

    I love leftover meals and this is one of the best.

    Ingredients:

    • 6 flour tortillas
    • Fajita leftovers (chicken strips, red and green bell peppers, onions
    • 1 ½ cup shredded cheese

    Start by reheating your leftover fajitas on the grill. You don’t want to put them in the tortilla cold because they won’t get warmed up all the way without burning the tortilla. One they are warmed through, put the tortillas on the grill, top with cheese, then fajita mixture and top with a second tortilla. Flip after about 30 seconds. The tortillas will brown quickly. As soon as it is starting to get crispy on the bottom, pull it out and cut into sections. You can top with leftover fajita condiments.

  • Chicken Fajitas

    Nothing smells better at a campsite than fajitas on a flat-top grill. The smell is intoxicating and I promise at least one person will come by and ask what you’re cooking. To make it even easier, I prep all of the ingredients ahead of time and freeze flat in a Ziploc. I can’t stress how much space this saves in the freezer and the fridge.

    Ingredients:

    • 2 chicken breasts
    • 1 green pepper
    • 1 red pepper
    • 1 yellow onion
    • 1 pack of taco seasoning
    • 1 cup of shredded cheese
    • ½ cup salsa

    The prep for this couldn’t be easier. Slice up all of the veggies and chicken into strips and place in a Ziploc bag. Mix with 1 tbs. of vegetable oil and taco seasoning pack. Get all of the air out of the bag, press it flat and seal.

    When it’s time to cook, just throw everything on the grill and cook for about 10 minutes or until chicken is cooked. Serve on flour tortillas with shredded cheese and salsa.

  • Stromboli & Pizza

    Pizza is a fun camping meal for the entire family. We make them on the flat-top grill, but you could also use a cast iron pan. We buy pre-made crusts and create a topping bar for everyone to add their favorites. You could also use a frozen pizza and do the same. Recently, we had pizza on our menu plan, but decided to change it up and make stromboli. The ingredients are the same for both.

    Ingredients:

    • Pizza dough
    • 1/2 cup pizza sauce
    • 2 cups mozzarella cheese
    • Mini pepperoni
    Stromboli:
    Lay the pizza crust flat and put 1/4 cup of pizza sauce on half of the dough. Add the cheese and mini pepperoni then fold over and roll the edges to keep everything inside. I like to cut a few slices/holes in the top to let the steam out. Cook on the grill or flat top for about 10-12 minutes. If you can, keep the lid on. 

    The key to pizza on the flat top is to cook the crust first. Just for a few minutes on each side. From there, add the sauce, cheese and topping then cook until everything is melted. It’s not exactly like typical restaurant pizza, but it’s delicious because you made it yourself!