Happy Father’s Day!

20 Jun

I love camping. I think we've been going camping my entire life. Growing up, my sister and I looked forward to our family camping trips more than just about anything. We camped throughout most of Michigan, from the Irish Hills to Sleeping Bear Dunes to Copper Harbor to the shores of all of the Great Lakes, and many other beautiful places this country has to offer. Now that I have kids of my own, I'm so glad to be camping with them, and thrilled that most of these trips include my mom and dad. 

Day 4 of our Pokagon camping trip was another great day. Lots of hiking, biking and a toasty afternoon at the beach (or, should I say smokin' hot afternoon at the beach?!) But, the kids had a blast searching for interesting shells and rocks and splashing in the cool water.

This night was our Mexican Fiesta. It's one of our favorite camping meals because we have a huge buffet filled with all kinds of things to put on a tortilla. We started off with a tasty Creamy Salsa Dip with homemade tortilla chips for an appetizer. This recipe has been in our family for probably twenty years, but I hadn't made it for a long time. It uses mayo and cream cheese, but I chose to veganize it and it ended up tasting just as good as, if not better than, the original. (recipe and photo at end of post)
The guys then grilled steak and shrimp, and my mom and I grilled sliced onions and peppers, for fajitas. For toppings, I made fresh guacamole and we had black beans, lettuce from my garden, chopped tomatoes, salsa, sour cream, shredded cheese, black olives and probably a few other things I'm forgetting right now. 
After dinner, we celebrated both my dad's birthday and Father's Day with him. He opened presents after my dessert of carrot cake cupcakes (from Vegan Cupcakes Take Over The World). Delish.
Our midnight snack – Chicken Bacon Poppers – continued the theme of our Mexican Fiesta. My mom introduced us to these tasty campfire treats last summer. You season strips of chicken breast with cumin, garlic powder and chili powder. Then stuff them into fresh jalapenos that have been cut in half and seeded. Wrap a strip of bacon around the whole thing and secure with a toothpick. Grill them over the campfire until the chicken is done and the bacon is crispy, then serve with a dipping sauce of sour cream, lime juice, cumin, salt and garlic. I didn't eat any this trip since I'm no longer eating meat, but trust me — they are fantastic. I did attempt to make a vegan version using Trader Joe's vegan chicken strips that I had left from earlier in the week, but they didn't really work out. I'm going to have to experiment with them a little more to see if I can make a meat-free version without sacrificing flavor.
Although I don't get to see my dad today, I'm so glad we got to celebrate Father's Day with both of his kids and all of his grandkids together at the campground. I love you, Dad! Happy Father's Day!
Here's the recipe and picture of the Creamy Salsa Dip:
makes about 2 cups
1 8-ounce package Tofutti vegan cream cheese
1/4 cup Vegenaise
1 teaspoon chili powder
1 teaspoon cumin
1/8 teaspoon garlic powder
1/4 cup chopped black olives
1 4-ounce can diced green chilies, drained
1 cup chopped, seeded fresh tomatoes
1/4 cup sliced green onions
salt substitute
Combine cream cheese, Vegenaise, chili powder, cumin and garlic powder in a food processor. Process until smooth. Add black olives and green chilies and pulse until just blended. Transfer mixture to a mixing bowl and stir in tomatoes and green onions. Season with salt, if necessary. Refrigerate for several hours or overnight and enjoy!

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