Camping, American Style

            Tent sleeping in the moonlight, the smell of campfire at 8 am, braving out thunderstorms while exposed to the elements; this is the joy we call camping. It’s my favorite summer activity; I am even willing to forgive the massive laundry created by outdoor living, quite a testament I can tell you. We headed out fully loaded with snacks and supplies, ready for what Mother Nature had in store. This year I conquered a popular pinterest post, assisted as my hubbie grilled our dinner to the ever nearing rumbles of thunder, finishing up just in the nick of time to eat under the easy-up while the skies opened and washed the hot and humid air away, and put a twist on a fireside must have, pudgie pies. It was camp-tastic!

A cast iron griddle pan makes breakfast a breeze!

Pinterest Bacon Pancakes:
Ok, confession time.  I used a ready mix for my camping pancakes.  Traveling with eggs in the cooler is possible, and I have done from scratch pancakes with style in nature before, I just took the easy way out this year.  I did make sure to buy an organic product though with limited ingredients to stay as close as possible to what I normally use.
So I’ve been seeing this idea  floating around pinterest for awhile.  Bacon strips cooked right into pancakes? How cool is that?!  Well after serving the boys up a batch of deliciousness we all agree, it was a pretty neat and easy
way to eat our pancakes and have our bacon too.

Using cooked bacon strips, pour pancake batter right over. Wait for the magic bubbles to appear, flip and cook until golden. Serve with syrup and accept the applause!

Yay Pancakes!

Pudgie Pies:
What is a pudgie pie you ask?  Basically a filled, grilled sandwich cooked in the fire using this cool cast iron tool.

The pies of my childhood were all about one thing, pizza!  Pepperoni pizza is still the most popular with our friends and family, but since I live life sans tomatoes I decided to experiment a little.  My thoughts went to spinach artichoke dip and how I could make my snack taste like a chain restaurant while roughing it.

To make a pudgie pie you approach it like you are making a grilled cheese.  Butter the outside of two pieces of bread and place them into a greased pie iron.  Add filling of your choice, toast in fire flipping at least once.  It’s fun and tasty!

Pizza Pie Making

Spinach Artichoke Spread:
1 package frozen chopped spinach
1 can artichoke hearts in water
1 cup fresh parmesan cheese

Combine all ingredients in food processor.  Mix until smooth.

I used shredded swiss cheese as my glue and sure enough it tasted just like eating the popular dip.  This would also make an excellent grilled sandwich at home in the fry pan!

Do you love to camp also?  I’d love to hear about your outdoor food adventure!

U-Pick Fruit Muffins

A week’s vacation in Michigan at the lake was blissfully relaxing.  Meal Planning on Vacation made kitchen work easy, so easy in fact we found time to make breakfast muffins!  After a hard day’s work picking fruit with the kiddies, we hit the mixing bowl and turned out tasty treats.  An overabundance of strawberries directed our fruit of choice, but most berries or stone fruit should substitute wonderfully.  Pick your favorite and whip up a batch of sweet muffins for the ones you love!


    • 2 cups All Purpose Flour

    • 1 Tbsp Baking Powder

    • 1/4 tsp Salt

    • 1/2 cup Sugar

    • 1/2 cup Butter, melted

    • 1 Tbsp Vanilla

    • 1 cup Buttermilk

    • 1 Egg

    • 1 cup Medium Diced Strawberries mixed w 2 Tbsp Sugar


  1. Preheat the oven to 400 and prep your pans (we made mini muffins in silicon pans)

  2. Chop your fruit of choice and mix with 2 tablespoons of sugar

  3. In a medium-large bowl whisk all dry ingredients together.

  4. In a separate bowl (I use a 4 cup Pyrex measuring cup

  5. Make a well in the center of the dry ingredients and pour the wet mixture in. Mix until the batter is just moistened.

  6. Gently fold fruit and any juice created into the batter.  Be careful not to overmix.

  7. Bake 20-25 minutes (for regular sized muffins) or until muffins are lightly golden and springy to the touch.

  8. Allow to cool 10 minutes, then remove from pan.

Scary Margarita


The Scary Evolution of the Margarita

Margaritas are a cocktail synonymous with relaxation: lazy days on the beach, pool parties, or a summertime girls’ night out on the town. Invented sometime in the 1930s or ’40s (depending on who you talk to), margaritas hit the scene just before the post-World-War II industrialization of the food system. While original margarita ingredients used to be simple, today’s run-of-the mill versions harbor science-lab-type ingredients that should make you very nervous. “As with anything you eat or drink, no margarita ever rises above the quality of its ingredients,” explains Paul Abercrombie, author of Organic, Shaken and Stirred. “You should use the freshest and highest-quality stuff you can get. Typically, this means going organic.”

Canned Chemical Chaos

This spring, Anheuser-Busch launched the Lime-a-Rita, a blend of Bud Light Lime beer and margarita flavors. It’s a concoction that’s likely to make a true margarita connoisseur…

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Ginger Lemonade

Made this today for our week at the lake! Sure beats the pants off those powdered pouches!  Since my kitchen is tore apart from all the prep I am busy doing today, I’ll let Grandmother’s Musings deliver the recipe that is sure to beat the heat and delight the kiddies 🙂

Grandmother Musings

Refreshing lemonade to make at anytime of the year, but especially to cool off when the temperatures rise.


1 cup sugar (can reduce to 3/4 cup)

1 tbsp chopped, fresh ginger

1 cup water (for simple syrup)

1 cup Lemon Juice

4 cups Water, Cold to dilute


1. Make simple syrup by heating the sugar, adding a tablespoon of chopped, fresh ginger, and water in a small saucepan until the sugar is dissolved completely.

2. While the sugar is dissolving, use a juicer to extract the juice from 4 to 6 lemons, enough for one cup of juice.

3. Add the juice and the sugar-water to a pitcher. Add 3 to 4 cups of cold water, more or less to the desired strength. Refrigerate 30 to 40 minutes. If the lemonade is a little sweet for your taste, add a little more straight lemon juice to it.

4. Serve with…

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Meal Planning at the Lake

Summer Solstice is upon us and vacations are in full swing!  Lake houses are filling up, lightning bugs being caught, and fishing is all the rage.  From sunrise to sunset activities fill the hours; enjoying life has never been so much fun or so much work.  Serving up satisfying meals without sacrificing yourself to the kitchen requires some prevacation prep work, but it’s well worth it when you are busy, even if you’re doing nothing at all.

Every June my boys and I have the pleasure of spending a week at the lake with my niece, nephews, brother-in-law, sisters in-law, and father-in-law.  It is one of our favorite things to do all year.  I shop starting the week before we are scheduled to leave, sometimes earlier if I see something on sale that I know we’re going to be eating, i.e. bacon.  With a group of roughly 15 of us, it is hard to please everyone, all the time.  I usually start the menu off by taking suggestions (even the junk food ones loved by my nephews) and then shaking as much of it as possible into a plan that achieves a compromise.  It can be a challenge to keep a non processed lifestyle when with others, however no matter how nice I am trying to be, I will not buy garbage snacks for the kiddies.  So this year I will be baking brownie bites, mini chocolate chip muffins, and cake batter rice krispie treats to take along in order to offer the sweet snacks the kiddo’s want in a way that doesn’t make me cringe.  I also prep and marinade all the meat at home and freeze for the car ride. Last year we discovered a clean, well priced grocery store; I am going to take my chances and buy all the bread, dairy, and  fresh produce in Michigan.  Seeing as how in Chicago, Michigan fruits and veggies are sought after I hope to find some ripe delights!  What are some ways that you style your vacation food?

Here’s some great marinade recipes that pleases even picky palates:
Alton Brown’s Molasses Coffee Marinade for Pork
Jennirific Brined Grilled Chicken
Mojo Marinade – Great for Fajitas

Eat Fresh, Not Subway.

I came across some interesting info at 100 days of real and could not help but share.  Subway boasts that their food is fresh and eating healthy off the menu is easy.  However, like most food offered for convenience, it’s highly processed.  Do yourself and your family a favor and skip the sandwich chain right up.  There are better options available when you are on the go, try to stay local and explore small deli’s and mom and pop eatery’s. Still not convinced?  Check out these facts:

Strawberry Ricotta Waffles

On the last day of school, I found myself talking with a group of moms while we waiting for our munchinkins to be freed for the summer.  As it happened the topic of food and what to feed the kiddies over vacation came up.  I told the ladies that King Waffle reigned over our breakfast table.  Crowned with fruit, syrup, or even peanut butter; homemade waffles are a cinch to make and a kid pleaser!

Today’s offering for the tummy is also a great step in cutting store bought items out of your freezers.  We all know the leggo my eggo ad campaign and I say that you should leggo any eggo’s.  They’re just junk food served in the morning.      Making waffles at home is deliciously easy and leftovers freeze great for future mornings.  Cut your homemade frozen waffles in half and pop them into the toaster, now that’s a breakfast that’s fast and full of ingredients you can pronounce and colors that come from nature.


½ cup unbleached flour
½ cup whole wheat flour
2 tablespoons sugar (optional)
½ teaspoon baking powder
¼ teaspoon baking soda
½ teaspoon kosher salt

2 tablespoons melted unsalted butter
2 eggs
1 teaspoon vanilla
1 cup buttermilk


  1. Whisk all dry ingredient together in a small bowl
  2. In a medium bowl, beat eggs and add vanilla
  3. Slowly add the melted, room temperature butter to eggs
  4. Stir in buttermilk
  5. Add dry ingredients into wet ingredients. 
  6. Do not overmix, you just want to pull the batter together, it can still be clumpy.
  7. Spoon into hot waffle iron
  8. Accept morning applause  😉

My waffle recipe is a variation of Alton Brown’s.  I miss Good Eats!  I cut his measurement by half and get about 5-6 waffles per batch

Strawberry Ricotta Filling

There isn’t too much to this and I don’t really have measurements.  Usually I just combine sliced strawberries macerated in sugar with ricotta.  Let sit a few moments to gel together, then spread onto waffle halves. Simple yet tasty!


Award Time!

It’s Award Day!  The first month of summer has brought some exciting developments to Jennirific Land . I’ve been a little slow in claiming my awards, but I am honored to accept The Sunshine Award, The Beautiful Blogger Award, and “SISTERHOOD OF THE WORLD BLOGGER AWARD,” given by Jamie at  Grandmother Musings is a excellent blog filled with delightful slices of life, recipes, and humor. Please go and visit her blog!

Award Rules


** Include the Award’s Logo in a post or on your blog.


** Answer 10 questions about yourself.


** Nominate 10 other bloggers.


**Link your nominees to this post and comment on their blogs, letting them know they have been nominated.


** Share the love and link the person who nominated you.


10 Questions about Me


What is a real fear you have?    Deep water.  I do not wish to dive off a diving board, cruise a lake on a boat, or anything related to putting myself on a body of large deep water.

As a kid, what did you want to be when you grew up? I think I wanted to be something different everyday, lol!  Everything from an archeologist to an actress.

What are some of your hobbies? Reading, writing, playing guitar, playing piano, singing for fun, plants vs. zombies

What hobby would you like to start? I keep trying to get more into gardening, but every season I fall short of my goals.

If you could tell people anything, what would be the most important thing to say? Let it be, there will be an answer, let it be.

Name one item from your “bucket list”? Camping in Yellowstone National Park

What’s the best prank you’ve pulled off? Convincing my younger brother that aliens were coming for him, lol.

What book are you planning to read next? I am on book 3 of the Game of Thrones series, so book 4!

Coffee or Tea?  Coffee, though I do enjoy a nice cup of herbal tea.

Lemon Torte or Chocolate Cheesecake? Both please!

10 Fabulous Nominees!


Please check out these wonderful blogs, but be careful they will make you hungry!  Thank you again to Jamie @

Baked Mostaccioli

    What’s a party without pasta?  Time and again I am greeted by a familiar few standards on the buffet station while celebrating graduations, birthdays, and other happy events; beef sandwiches, fried chicken, and baked pasta.  These mainstays are available at many local catering venues and usually all taste exactly alike, which is ok if you want your food to just blend into the blur of the backyard party season.  However, if you’re ready to break the mold and have your fare stand out, this recipe is perfect!
A blend of tradition with just enough of a twist to make it unique, guests will rave about your baked mostaccioli whenever they eat another all year long.  My favorite aspect is that you can customize the ingredients to offer not only a better tasting pan of pasta but a better for you main dish as well!  The cottage cheese mixed with an egg is my mother’s way of making baked pasta and mom always knows best! 



  1. Cook pasta according to directions on box.  You want al dante pasta, not too soft. 
  2. Brown sausage and add sauce. Heat until warm to blend flavors, take off heat and allow to cool.
  3. In a medium bowl mix cottage cheese and egg together until combined, then mix in ricotta cheese.
  4. Now the fun part, the layering!

To a lightly greased 9×13 pan add enough sauce to cover the bottom of the pan

Add 1/2 of the cooked pasta evenly

Cover pasta with sauce

Layer 1/2 the cottage cheese/ricotta mixture

Cover with a healty layer of mozzarella cheese

Begin the process again with a light layer of sauce

Spread the remaining sauce over the pasta

Spread the remaining cottage/ricotta cheese mixture over the sauce

Top with a generous amount of shredded mozzarella

Cook in a preheated 350 degree oven covered for 45 minutes. Remove foil and continue to cook until cheese is golden, about 15 more minutes. Allow to set for at least 30 minutes before serving.

Before I had a chance to take the “after shot” of my pretty pasta, it was gone.  It didn’t last at the party for 20 minutes!  Hope yours goes over just as well.

Cast Iron Tips

Great facts on cast iron cookware and how to choose the best product out there!

Heritage and trail cooking

Back to basics, returning to the best.

I now own three complete sets of cookware. First is a conglomeration of non stick pots and pans. Second is my cherished Tramontina Stainless Steel cookware and third… is the holy grail of all cookware, my mixed set of Cast Iron.

The first two I could live without, the third I couldn’t. I called it a mixed set, here’s why. I show little allegiance to name brand. In fact, most of my cookware is so old that if it ever had a name, I’m sure by now the company is long out of business. Many of them are well over 100 years old. The reason I chose each one individually is due to the quality. Even new pots and pans have flaws in them. They may not show but if you look closely at the rim and see a slight difference in thickness…

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