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Spears Family Camp-out!

12 Jul

Every year, we have a camp-out at our house for our families — parents, aunts, uncles, brothers, sisters, nieces and nephews. Everyone shows up on Friday night with tents and campers and they stay for the weekend. This past weekend was this year’s big event.

I think everyone had a good time between swimming, playing games, and just hanging out together. Oh, and eating good food! Everyone brings goodies to share throughout the weekend, plus we have a big dinner on Saturday night. Each family brings their choice of meat/vegs to grill and everyone brings side dishes and desserts for a big buffet.

Friday night, after everyone arrived and set up tents and campers, we grilled burgers (a veggie burger for me), hotdogs and brats. We had all kinds of fresh fruit, veggies and dip, and chips, plus my sister made the Edamame and Black Bean Salad I mentioned in one of my camping posts last month. An easy night for a vegan!

For Saturday night’s dinner, most of us made kabobs — some had steak, some had chicken and some had shrimp. I made mine with marinated mushrooms and zucchini from our garden. The other item I grilled was a whole Vidalia onion like our friends did over the 4th of July weekend. Just peel it and cut it into wedges, but not all the way through to the bottom of the onion. Drizzle it with olive oil and season as you like. I used McCormick’s Montreal Seasoning, but feel free to experiment with other herbs and spices. Wrap it up in foil and place on the grill for about half an hour. It came out tender and sweet with a little hint of smokiness. I took a picture of it before I wrapped it in foil. Then when it came off the grill, it went onto the buffet. I forgot to take a picture of it until I was in line for food. By then, it was half gone!

My side-dish contribution to the buffet was a salad similar to the one my friend Lisa made last weekend — fresh greens, sweet corn, cauliflower, green onions, grape tomatoes, cucumber, and shredded cabbage — tossed with her Poppyseed Dressing. It was a big hit. My mother-in-law brought cheesy potatoes that must have been tasty because I’m pretty sure I saw my brother-in-law scraping the last bits from the pan! Jason’s aunt Janet made a delicious vegan Red Potato & Tomato Salad that was a Giada DeLaurentis recipe. It will go into my binder of favorites! And my brother-in-law made a new take on cole slaw from the July 2010 issue of Bon Appetit. He surprised me by preparing a separate bowl for me to just add in my vegan sour cream and Vegenaise. It was fantastic.

And then there were desserts…cookies of all kinds, an eclair cake, and ice cream pie…none of them vegan so I steered clear of those!

Oh, and let’s not forget the late night snacks. Aunt Janet made a buffalo chicken dip with chips, my sister made a Mexican layered dip which she (very thoughtfully!) made a separate bowl for me without the sour cream and cheese, and I made Chicken Bacon Poppers. I blogged these back in one of my camping posts last month. They are always a hit, so I made them again. They’re basically seasoned chicken breasts stuffed into half a jalapeno pepper then wrapped in bacon and secured with a toothpick. They’re cooked on the grill or over the fire and served with a sour cream-based dipping sauce that has been seasoned with cumin, lime juice, chili powder and garlic powder.

This time, I also attempted a vegan version for myself. I took a Gardein “chicken” breast and seasoned it the same as the real chicken, then cut it into thick strips and put them in the jalapeno halves. Next, I had to come up with a substitution for the bacon. I cut really thin strips of zucchini, marinated them in olive oil, smoked paprika and other seasonings, and then wrapped them around the peppers and secured with a toothpick. The flavor was fantastic and I was really pleased with the outcome. Though the zucchini didn’t crisp up like bacon or have the bacon-y flavor, it held the poppers together and they were very satisfying dipped in a vegan version of the sour cream dipping sauce (made with tofu). I’m going to keep working on these before posting an actual recipe.

All-in-all it was a great weekend with perfect weather, good food and the company of family.

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