Dutch oven cobbler over a campfire

Jul 17, 2013 by

Camping food just tastes better.  It’s a fact.

Some of my best and favorite recipes are camping food recipes.  On the heels of our yearly camping adventure where all my friends from all over get together and go camping I am relishing in the great times and awesome food we ate.

We may be getting a little overboard with the food though.  Our camping meals are getting to the beyond epic proportions and we may need to dial it back, but I’ve never dined on such amazing food as this last trip.  We had crepes, we had amazing breakfast sandwiches grilled over the fire, we had amazing street tacos, and chicken and dumplings in the dutch oven.  It got a little nuts for camping, but this year’s camping was a bit more luxurious as we actually camped in an RV as my wife is 8 months pregnant.

We had planned to hike through Zion in Utah, but for some reason my wife didn’t want to hike through 115 degree canyons.  Go figure.  So we went the other way and rented an RV so she would be comfortable and headed back to one of our favorite spots, Pismo Beach.

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In addition to all the aforementioned food I set out to make a cobbler for dessert one night and it was awesome.  And if you’ve read any of this site, or even just the name of the site you know I like to keep it simple and it doesn’t get much more simple than this.

For this recipe, all you’ll need is fruit, sprite, a cake mix and a little butter.

I cooked this in our dutch oven over a fire, but you can do this in the oven at home too if you’d like.

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I threw a couple pats of butter in the crock pot and rubbed it around to get it all good and buttery

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Throw in your fruit of choice.  Peaches and blueberries are in season and were available at the local fruit stand.  You can use any fruit you like.

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For the cobbler part all you need is a cake mix and a sprite.  I made a huge batch so I used the whole cake mix and a 12 fl oz sprite.  You may want to use half of each if you are making a normal amount.  We had 11 hungry campers so I made a big batch.

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Add the sprite to the cake mix.  Stir, stir, stir, and spoon over the fruit.  Add a few pats of butter on top.

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Throw the dutch oven on the fire and put the coals on top of the lid.  Ideally You’d like more coals on top than on bottom at a 2:1 ratio.

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Cook the cobbler in the dutch oven until the top is cooked through and smells awesome.  The time to cook will depend on your fire, but its about 10-15 minutes.  Keep checking it as you go.

As usual I don’t have a good picture of the final product out of the dutch oven as it was devoured by the hungry campers around the fire.

 

 

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But here’s a picture of the gang with the dogs enjoying running around the sand dunes.  And yes my wife kicks ass and hiked the very steep sand dunes at 8 months pregnant.

As always, we had a great time camping and can’t wait to do it again next year with our kid.

If you haven’t planned a camping trip in a while, take a minute and plan one now.  Find a weekend, or even a day and get out and go have fun.

Plus nothing tastes as good as camping food.  Here are some other great camping recipes for you:

Happy camping

Ben…

P.S. if you’ve got a favorite camping recipe, let me know in the comments.  I’m always looking for some good new ones.

 

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Simple Crepes

Jul 4, 2013 by

There is a farmers market that we visit on most Saturday mornings.   They have great fresh fruit and vegetables, but we really go for the crepes stand that makes the best crepes in the world according to my pregnant wife, and she is always right.

So as she has been craving crepes all the other days of the week I set out to make some and they are so simple to make and so yummy to eat.

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Seriously, these are so simple.  You just throw some milk, flour, eggs, sugar, salt, melted butter and vanilla in a blender and blend.  Simple.

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Here’s what you’ll need:

  • 1 Cup flour
  • 2 Cups Milk
  • 3 Eggs
  • 1 Tablespoon sugar
  • 1/4 Teaspoon salt
  • 2 Tablespoons melted butter
  • 1 Tablespoon Vanilla

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and seriously you just throw it all in in the blender and blend it for a minute or so until its smooth.

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I’m not going to give you the step by step, but here’s a good order to throw it all in.

Add eggs first, then milk, then all the dry ingredients.  blend it up, then add the melted butter and blend it up a little more.

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Throw the whole blender in the fridge for 15 minutes to an hour.  It can stay in the fridge for a couple days if you want to only make a few crepes at a time.  I’ve been making crepes for days and its awesome.

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Now I don’t have a fancy crepe pan so any large skillet will do, but it will take some practice.

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Heat the pan up on low to medium heat and swirl around a pat of butter to coat it well.  Pour in a bit of the crepe batter.  This will also take some practice to get the right amount.  You don’t want to fill the pan completely.   When the top is dry you will take a spatula and flip it over. Again this part takes a little practice but after one or two of them you’ll get the hang of it and make awesome crepes.  Let it cook for a few seconds on the other side, and now its time to add your toppings.

The great thing about crepes is you can make them for dinner or dessert or both.  Our favorite crepe from the crepe stand at the farmers market is the lemon squeeze which contains brown sugar, vanilla custard and fresh lemon juice.

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So simple and so good.   We also love the strawberry ones as well.  Actually we love all of them.

Since I was setting out to replicate the recipes from our local crepe stand I needed some vanilla custard.  Turns out that is super simple to make as well and it uses most of the same ingredients of the crepes.

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Here’s what you’ll need:

  • 2 Cups Milk
  • 2 Tablespoons cornstarch
  • 1/3 Cup sugar
  • 2 eggs
  • 1 Teaspoon vanilla

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In a bowl pour the milk

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add the cornstarch

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and the sugar

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whisk it all up

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in a separate bowl, whisk up the eggs

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Pour the mixture into a pan on medium heat and stir constantly

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Stir until you get little bubbles forming around the edge then take the pan off the heat and set onto a cool part of the stove.

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Add a couple of spoonfuls of the warm mixture to the eggs and stir the eggs while you are doing this.

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Then add the eggs back into the pan with the rest of the mixture and stir stir stir

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Return it back to the heat and add in your vanilla and stir for another minute or two until it thickens up

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and you are done.   Seriously, this is so simple.

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Now add some of the custard to a zip lock bag and cut off a tiny corner of the bag to pour it out like frosting.

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a little brown sugar, a little custard and your favorite fruit and you are in heaven

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I particularly loved the blackberry one

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Top it off with some whip cream and revel in both the awesome flavors and in how awesome you are for making these awesome crepes.

If you are looking for something fun to make for your 4th of July, these will be a guaranteed hit.  Grab some of your favorite fresh fruit and you can’t go wrong.

Enjoy your 4th, stay safe, and while you are celebrating your freedom, remember to smile and cherish the simple things in your life that make it great.

Ben…

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Cook Together

Jun 10, 2013 by

I finally got back into the kitchen after an extended break due to some sinus issues that resulted in me not being able to smell or taste anything.  Not fun.  But I’m back, and back with a vengeance.  I posted, not one, not two, but three awesome recipes and it feels great.  I love cooking.

We also went up to visit my wife’s sister and family yesterday and all cooked a big breakfast together and it was so much fun.  We had 10 people all packed into the sisters cute apartment and cooking up a storm.  The kids helped make blueberry pancakes.  We had eggs, potatoes, lil smokies, bacon and more.  It was a great breakfast and great time with family.

Your Truly Simple Action of the week is to plan and cook a family meal.  It could be breakfast, or a nice dinner, or even a picnic lunch.  Just plan a meal with your family and friends and cook and eat it together.  There is something so simple and therapeutic about everyone gathering around the kitchen helping and talking and having a good time.

Pick a meal.  Pick a day.  Invite your family and friends.  Do it.

But I don’t have a big kitchen, or I don’t have the right tools you say.  Well first off, stop whining.  No one likes a complainer.

You will be fine, and you will make do.  We squeezed way too many people into a very small kitchen to make this breakfast.  We were stepping all over each other to share the stove, but we made it work.  We didn’t have all the right tools, but a towel works just fine for a pot holder.  You will figure it out.  I have complete faith in you.  Don’t let some little excuse prevent you from doing this.  Just start doing it and you will figure it all out on the way.  You may hit a little speed bump or two, but that only makes it that much easier the next time you do it.

We had a great time cooking, eating and talking about everything under the sun.  I want you to do the same.

Pick a meal.  Pick a day.  Invite your family and friends.  Do it.  It’s just that simple.

Ben…

Truly Simple Actions The goal of the TSA project is to improve your life and help make this world a better place, one simple action at a time.  Take time this week to do this one simple thing. Previous TSA’s:

 
 

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Bananrama… this is what you do with those brown bananas

Jun 7, 2013 by

We all love bananas and we buy a big ripe bunch at the store and then we forget about them on the kitchen counter and they are somehow all brown within  a day of bringing them home.  It’s a classic tale as old as time.  I’m pretty sure Shakespeare has a play about it.

So what do you do with those brown bananas that no one wants to eat?

You make this awesome dessert that is likely to be tastier and healthier than all that crap in the stores.

This recipe requires a bit of forethought as you’ll need to freeze the bananas ahead of time.  So take those browning bananas, slice them up onto a plate and throw that plate in the freezer for a few hours.

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Once you have the frozen bananas, throw them in the food processor or blender.  Our blender sucks, so we shall use the food processor.

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turn the processor on until you get this creamy mixture of bananan-y goodness.  You can stop here if you want.  You’ve made a tasty and smooth banana ice cream like treat and it is good. Or you can keep going and make it epic.

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Here’s the part where you get to add whatever you like.  I had a Reese’s peanut butter cup on hand, so in it went.

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Add a bit of Hershey’s chocolate syrup

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Add a couple spoonfuls of peanut butter

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This was the best idea ever.  I am hooked on these damn cashew clusters from Costco.  I should not buy these, but they are just so tasty.  I had all the crumbs from the end of the bag, so I threw them in.

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I’m a genius.

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Blend it all up.

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And it may not be the most appealing picture, but it is oh so tasty.  You can take it out and eat it right then or throw it back into the freezer to let it firm up a little more.

This is a great snack and an awesome way to not throw away perfectly good bananas that no one will eat.  Depending on what you put in it, this can be a very healthy dessert as well.

Ben…

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Cauliflower rice aka Oh my god why haven’t I made this before

Jun 7, 2013 by

I like cauliflower as much as the next guy.  We eat it every once in a while and have even made an awesome mashed cauliflower recipe from one we grew in the garden, but we probably don’t eat it that often.

My wife found a recipe for Cauliflower rice and has been asking me to make it.  Well I finally got around to it and dammit I wish I had been making this stuff every day for the past 10 years.  It is so freaking good and so simple to make.

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The recipe is basically this

1.  Chop/grate up your cauliflower into tiny little pieces.  2.  fry it up in a pan.  3.  add spices.   It really is that easy.

The really great thing about this recipe is that you can add whatever spices or flavors you want and they all taste great with the cauliflower

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So here’s what you’ll need.  Some cauliflower, onion, garlic and some spices.

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Cut up the cauliflower into smaller chunks.

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In a food process throw in several cauliflower florets and pulse.  It works better to do smaller batches at a time.

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You will end up with your cauliflower looking like this and that is what you want.  Put all your cauliflower in a bowl and set it aside

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now throw in the garlic and onion and chop it up as well.   I used 3 garlic cloves and maybe 1/2 cup of onion.

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Now in a pan, add some cooking oil of your choice, and the garlic and onion.  I used olive oil.  cook for a minute until the onion in translucent.

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Add your cauliflower and stir around.  I added 1 tablespoon of butter at this point to give it a little flavor.  Cook this for 3-5 minutes stirring occasionally.

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Then  just add your spices and stir for another minute.  The awesome thing about this recipe is you can add anything you like.   I made three separate batches.  One had garlic and salt spices, the other, red and black pepper with chili flakes (pictured above) and the other had just salt and pepper steak seasoning.  All were super tasty.

I am definitely making this again and going out right now to plant more cauliflower in my garden.  I could eat this every day.

If you are on a paleo or keto diet, this will be your new best friend.

Ben…

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Yummy Yummy Pancit

Jun 7, 2013 by

So every Thursday night we go to the farmers market in downtown Oceanside.  Its near the beach and its more a tiny street fair than farmers market, but that is why we go.  The food is awesome.

We take the dog and he gets to say hi to all the other puppies and get attention from all the other people, but we mainly go to eat.  Did I mention the food is awesome?  Nothing matches the blue crab burrito.

But one of our favorite food vendors was this Filipino food stand that made the best pancit  and lumpia, and sadly they are no longer there.  There are a couple of other Filipino places that also sell pancit and lumpia, but they are no where near as good as this other place was.  So we’ve been missing our weekly pancit and lumpia and thus I set out to make my own pancit and holy cow was it easy.

If you’ve ever made any stir fry or fried rice, its basically the same thing.  This is so easy.

Here’s the final product and it is so tasty.  So lets show you how easy it is to make it

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I don’t have a picture of all the ingredients, but here’s what you’ll need:

Ingredients:

  • 1 chicken breast
  • 1 pack of rice sticks (found in the Asian section of your grocery store)
  • cabbage
  • carrots
  • pea pods
  • onion
  • celery
  • green onion
  • garlic
  • soy sauce
  • fish sauce (also found in the Asian section of your grocery store)
  • pepper

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First you want to boil your chicken breast.  I cut a couple slices to help speed up the cooking time.  Save the water from this step.  You’ll need it later.

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Here’s a nice haul of veggies I got from my garden.  Yeah free veggies!

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Here’s the rest I bought.

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Here’s what the rice sticks look like.

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Looking at this carrot from the garden it looked big and awesome and ready to be harvested, and then I get this cute little carrot ball when I actually pull it up.  Nice

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Slice up all your veggies

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You can use as much of each as you’d like.

I made a big double batch so here’s what I used per a single batch: (approximately)

1 cup cabbage

1 cup carrots sliced thin

1/3 cup green onion

1/3 cup onion

2/3 cup celery

2 cloves garlic

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OK once your chicken has boiled for a bit, take it out and shred and chop it into small pieces.  Don’t worry if its not fully cooked, you are going to cook it again

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In a large pan or wok, add some oil and throw in the garlic for 30 seconds

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Next add the onions and carrots and cook for a minute or two

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Next throw in the chicken and stir it up

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Time to add the sauces.  Use 3 tablespoons of soy sauce and 1 tablespoon fish sauce.  I just pour it in and estimate.  Stir that all round and let it cook.

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OK, I missed a picture, but throw all the rest of the veggies in and let them cook for a minute or so.  You want to keep the veggies crisp, so don’t over cook it.  Next separate and throw the rice sticks on top.

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Now take that chicken stock from cooking the chicken breast earlier and pour that into the mix.  Some recipes call to pre-soak the rice sticks, but then they just soak up the water and not all this awesome flavor.  After you pour in the chicken stock, mix it all up so the noodles are at the bottom of the pan and soaking in the good juices.  You can add more soy and fish sauce here if you want or need to.  Stir it around for a few minutes letting all those flavors mix.  Add a bit of black pepper at the end and taste it to make sure the noodles are done.

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You will end up with this awesome dish that took no time to make.  While I am not an old Filipino grandmother, I still think this turned out pretty good and will definitely make it again.  And of course I made way too much, so its great for leftovers.

Ben…

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