There’s nothing better than summertime “Camping in the Backyard!” No, I didn’t plan this, but our daughter Aliyah had been begging us to camp in our backyard since summer began. This weekend it happened very spontaneously and was one of the funnest times we’ve had…and we’ve had numerous occasions of fun in our backyard!
It all started out so innocently as we’re in the process of cleaning all the junk from our garage for a desperately needed garage makeover. While we were busy moving everything out to a rented 12 x 12 bin to store for a huge August garage sale to get rid of excess junk, we stumbled upon all my husband’s camping and survival gear. So, we set up the tent for the kids, blew up and patched the boat (from the hole that critters had bit) and then let the camping party get started.
My brother Eric and his daughters Erin and Ava were here for a family swim day and joined us for the “Camping in the Backyard!” I can’t tell you how much fun we had with the kids staying up until midnight, partying outside eating Strawberry S’mores by the fire, snacking on popcorn in the tent and enjoying some good old-fashion backyard fun with no modern technology in sight…except for maybe me snapping pictures with my phone.
Enjoy Something New!
Ali in the Valley
Photos by: Ali
I have just released my first
Top 25 Favorite Salad Recipes E-Cookbook
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We put together some of our tried and true favorites, including many new recipes that are not on my blog.
Here are some resourceful tips for planning the ultimate backyard camping adventure.
Tent: Find a dry, level spot to pitch your tent.
Sleeping Bags: (or blankets) and pillows.
Table: If you don’t have a picnic table, bring a patio table or even a folding card table to your camp site for food preparation.
Insect Repellent: Lotion or spray and citronella candles.
Flashlights: Bring at least two if the kids are sleeping in separate tents.
Portable Fire Pit; Dry Firewood or Twigs. A campfire is essential to the experience. Include a grill if you can’t cook easily (or safely) with your portable fire pit or chiminea. Let the kids gather sticks and twigs for you to use to start the fire, just like they would at a campground.
Backyard Bites: Nothing says “roughing it” like campground culinary staples. Slowly heat an open can of beans on the side of your campfire and use grilling forks or sharpened sticks to toast hot dogs and marshmallows over an open flame.
Tip: Make sure the forks or sticks are long enough to keep them a safe distance from the open flames, and exercise caution when placing food on sharp forks or sticks.
Camping in the Backyard…
For one S'more you will need:
1 graham cracker sheet
2 large marshmallows
1/2 of a Hershey's chocolate bar
1 large strawberry cut into slices
Break the graham cracker in half and layer your chocolate and strawberries on top of it. Then cook your marshmallows. You can do this over a grill, fire pit, or even right on the stove. Cook to your liking (whether that be light brown or burned crispy). Put your marshmallows on top of the strawberries and press the other half of the graham cracker on top of the marshmallows to release it from the cooking utensil.
Grilled Chicken and Vegetables:
Camping in the Backyard…
Healthy and easy grilled chicken and vegetables.
4 pounds of your favorite chicken parts (legs, thighs, wings, breasts skin-on)
1 cup barbecue sauce (store bought)
1 eggplant (sliced in rounds)
2 avocados (halved and pit removed)
4 ears of corn (do not shuck (or 2 1/2 cups frozen corn for the non-grill option))
1 5- inch long zucchini (sliced in half lengthwise)
1/2 cup chopped red onion
1/2 cup chopped cilantro
1 teaspoon ground cumin (best if you toast whole cumin seeds then grind)
2 Tbsp olive oil
2 Tbsp lime juice
Salt and freshly ground pepper to taste
Coat the chicken pieces with olive oil and sprinkle salt & pepper over them on all sides. Prepare your grill for high, direct heat. If you are using charcoal or wood, make sure there is a cool side to the grill where there are fewer coals. Lay the chicken pieces skin side down on the hottest side of the grill in order to sear the skin side well. Grill for 5-10 minutes, depending on how hot the grill is (you do not want the chicken to burn). Once you have a good sear on one side, move the chicken pieces to the cooler side of the grill, or, if you are using a gas grill, lower the heat to medium low. Cover the grill and cook undisturbed for 20-30 minutes.
Turn the chicken pieces over and baste them with with your favorite barbecue sauce. Cover the grill again and allow to cook for another 30 minutes. Repeat, turning the chicken pieces over, basting them with sauce, covering, and cooking for another 30 minutes. By now the chicken should be cooked through. You can check with a meat thermometer inserted into the thickest part of the chicken piece. Look for 165°F for breasts and 170°F for thighs. Or insert the tip of a knife into the middle of the thickest piece, the juices should run clear. If the chicken isn’t done, turn the pieces over and continue to cook at a low temperature. If you want , you can finish with a sear on the hot side of the grill. To do this, put the pieces, skin side down, on the hot side of the grill. Allow them to sear and blacken slightly for a minute or two. Paint with more barbecue sauce and serve.
Vegetables: Rub a little olive oil, salt and pepper all over the vegetables except the corn. Place the corn (in their husks) and all other vegetables directly on the grill grates. Cover the grill. Turn corn occasionally, so that every part of the husk is blackened. Turn the other vegetables occasionally until the skin has blistered up all around it. This should take 15 to 20 minutes.
Drizzle lime juice all over the vegetables and chicken. Eat with your hands only!