Skip to content

Happy 4th of July!

1 July 2014

4th July Patriotic Tablescape 4_heidikinscooks_June 2014

Are you ready for the 4th of July? I don’t think most people have a formal-type of sit-down dinner for the 4th, picnic and BBQ seems more the rules of the day. However, I tend to play by my own rules, and my rules say make it a party whenever possible, complete with cute napkins.

4th July Patriotic Tablescape 9_heidikinscooks_June 2014

As I was slouching around The Interwebs–as I tend to do–I found a dozen bandanas on sale for less than a buck each, and they were patriotic and flag-like, without being an actual flag print where you would be remiss to sop up some stray BBQ sauce. (Am I the only one who has qualms about stuff like this?) They aren’t fine linen or anything, just cheapie bandanas, but wow do they pack a patriotic punch! And honestly, pair them with white melamine or even heavy-duty paper plates at your outdoor BBQ and you’ve just elevated your party to a new level of awesome. Wash, or simply toss, depending on how much you love/hate the earth. No pressure.

4th July Patriotic Tablescape 10_heidikinscooks_June 2014

The navy runner classes things up a bit without being too formal, and the rattan chargers keep it casual enough for a Saturday afternoon. The red melamine chargers are from Fiestaware and totally outdoor- and kid-proof.

4th July Patriotic Tablescape 12_heidikinscooks_June 2014

White dinner plates are my every-day dishes, from Pottery Barn, and tumblers and flatware is old, old, old. It’s funny, when I start typing it all out, how much of these place settings are just regular, every-day items, re-imagined a little and with a flashy bandana.

4th July Patriotic Tablescape 3_heidikinscooks_June 2014

Ok, I know not everyone has been collecting (but not using) dishes and napkins and things for a decade, I realize I may be an anomaly in that regard. But it has been so fun to dig it all out and combine things in new and fun-for-me ways! Don’t begrudge me that, mmmmmkay?

4th July Patriotic Tablescape 7_heidikinscooks_June 2014

Some grocery-store sunflowers in a squatty jar and this table is done. I don’t like how sunflowers smell, not one bit, but they are just such a happy, summery flower that I couldn’t pass these ones up.

4th July Patriotic Tablescape 5_heidikinscooks_June 2014

What type of celebrating are you doing this week? BBQs? Picnics? Fireworks? All of the above?

Sources:

Navy table runner: IKEA
Rattan chargers: IKEA
Scarlet Fiestaware charger: HomerLaughlin (no longer available, similar)
White dinner plates: Pottery Barn Catering Box
Stars and stripes bandana napkin: Amazon
Star napkin rings: eBay (similar)
Tumblers: Target, old
Flatware: Target, old
Vase: IKEA, old
Sunflowers: grocery store

*no affiliate links

Setting a Stars and Stripes Table

24 June 2014

4th July Patriotic Pfaltzgraff Tablescape 9_heidikinscooks_June 2014

You guys, I cannot believe The Cute that was this patriotic 4th of July table! (Technically, this was for Flag Day, but who–besides me–celebrates Flag Day?) I’ve had most of these pieces for ages–in fact, the red napkins are the only thing that I’d consider “new”–but have never even thought about putting it all together this way. And look, look, look!! So stinking adorable!!

4th July Patriotic Pfaltzgraff Tablescape 6_heidikinscooks_June 2014

4th July Patriotic Pfaltzgraff Tablescape 5_heidikinscooks_June 2014

The patriotic pièce de résistance, of course, is these darling stars-and-stripes bowls, from Pfaltzgraff. I saw them last year and loved them immediately and when they went on sale I snagged them. Apparently, I snagged too soon, they are much less now than what I paid for them. (Sad face). Pfaltzgraff has a couple of other patterns I really like, but many veer into “old lady” territory awfully fast. Not so with these bowls, me thinks.

4th July Patriotic Pfaltzgraff Tablescape 11_heidikinscooks_June 2014

The bowl sits on my every-day white salad plate topping a cobalt Fiestaware dinner plate. I like that while still being red, white, and blue, the deeper tones don’t scream CHEAP PATRIOTISM WITH PRIMARY COLORS! I think they are quite classy, actually.

4th July Patriotic Pfaltzgraff Tablescape 2_heidikinscooks_June 2014

I am all about easy centerpieces (perhaps you’ve noticed), and this is no exception. A bunch of dark red carnations, split into three different vases/random bottles, and two small mason jars with a handful of $0.50 cent flags shoved into some rocks. That’s American, right?

4th July Patriotic Pfaltzgraff Tablescape 15_heidikinscooks_June 2014

4th July Patriotic Pfaltzgraff Tablescape 10_heidikinscooks_June 2014

The white tablecloth was a gift from my grandmother–it’s polyester, not linen or anything fancy, I love it because it was hers. The bamboo runner was a clearance find at Home Goods a while ago.

4th July Patriotic Pfaltzgraff Tablescape 3_heidikinscooks_June 2014

The red napkins have been in my stash for who-knows-how long, the napkin rings were an eBay find.

4th July Patriotic Pfaltzgraff Tablescape 12_heidikinscooks_June 2014

The goblets are from IKEA and the flatware is a hundred years old (okay, ten), from Target.

4th July Patriotic Pfaltzgraff Tablescape 7_heidikinscooks_June 2014

Sources:
White tablecloth: gift from grandma
Bamboo runner: Home Goods
Cobalt Fiestaware Dinner plates: Homer Laughlin
White salad plate: Pottery Barn Catering Box
Stars and Stripes Bowl: Pfaltzgraff
Goblet: IKEA
Red Napkins: old
Star napkin rings: eBay (similar)
Flatware: Target, old
Centerpiece: Assorted bottles, grocery store flags/flowers

*no affiliate links

Gourmet Tin Foil Dinner: Roasted Asparagus

23 June 2014

Gourmet Tin Foil Dinner Roasted Asparagus 1_heidikinscooks_June 2014

For some reason asparagus always seems so incredibly fancy, far too fancy for campfire cooking. But, this turned out so amazingly delicious I can’t see myself ever having dinner in the canyon without some fire-roasted asparagus. You can prepare this before you head to your campsite, or if you’re feeling adventurous you can do it there. J-Mo and I were running late and decided to stop on the grocery store on the way to the canyon and take our chances. I packed a cutting board, knife, butter, a few spices, and a roll of tin foil, and off we went. I bought a pre-packaged container of fresh asparagus from the produce section and a lemon. (And also some corn on the cob.)

Gourmet Tin Foil Dinner: Roasted Asparagus

Campfire with white-hot coals and only a few flames

1 pound asparagus spears
1 lemon
2-3 tablespoons butter
salt and pepper
4-6 ice cubes

Rinse and trim your asparagus spears, divide into 2 piles, top each with a tablespoon of butter and a generous helping of salt and pepper. Thinly slice a lemon and put a few rounds on each pile of asparagus. Add 1 or 2 ice cubes to each packet and wrap tightly in a foil envelope. Then wrap again with another layer of foil. I have found the least leaky method is to fold the foil over your asparagus lengthwise, so you have a slightly open seam right down the center. Then grab both open ends, bring them together in the middle, and roll tightly down to the packet. Do this twice. Not only does it give you a little handle to grab out of the fire, your juices will stay very well contained as long as you don’t puncture the foil with your shovel or tongs or whatever.

Place your asparagus packets on a pile of white coals and let cook for 15-20 minutes, turning over occasionally. The ice cubes will help keep your asparagus from charring.

Gourmet Tin Foil Dinner Roasted Asparagus 2_heidikinscooks_June 2014

Remove from fire with tongs or heavy-duty leather gloves, and enjoy! (I wonder if I could make hollandaise sauce over a fire for next time…)

A Few Tips for Campfire Cooking:

  • Cooking over a fire takes a while, it takes a while to start your fire and it takes some time before it’s ready to cook on.
  • Make sure you bring extra wood (for s’mores) and at least 2 gallons of water for dousing your coals before you leave the campsite (if you have water at your campsite, then make sure to bring a gallon jug to get it from the river/faucet to your fire pit).
  • Bring a pair of long fire-resistant tongs, and/or a pair of heavy-duty leather gloves for retrieving your dinner.
  • A shovel for moving your coals around is much more precise than using a stick, but a big stick will work just fine.
  • You can always pull your dinner out to check it, re-wrap, and pop it back in if it’s not done yet, but you will lose some of the steam and the tight foil seal by doing so.

Gourmet Tin Foil Dinner: Pork, Potatoes and Veggies

20 June 2014

Gourmet Tin Foil Dinner 1_heidikinscooks_June 2014

Do you know it is nearly impossible to take a good picture of a cooked tin foil dinner, and especially as your light is waning and the foil reflects everything in a weird way. This tasted MUCH better than it looks. Pinky swear. This is not your standard meat-and-potatoes dinner, I added a ton of veggies and they turned out absolutely divine.

Now, some notes on cooking over an open fire. It is a little trickier and requires more patience than a microwave or stove-top. You need to prepare a good fire with dry wood and then let it burn for about 45 minutes so you have some white coals and the flames aren’t very high. This is all pretty loosey-goosey as I have never heard of anyone taking the temperature of a fire to see if it’s 375 degrees yet. I’m sure my pioneer ancestors were adept at that sort of thing, but it is an art that has not been passed down to me. So, I go by general feel and cook instead of baking. It’s better to pull your dinner off the fire a little early and check it than to have charred veggies because you left it too long (or you put it directly on flames).

Gourmet Tin Foil Dinner

Makes 2 servings for hungry-hungry people

1 uncooked chicken breast or pork chop, cut into small cubes
1 yellow onion, chopped
3-4 cloves garlic, minced
4-5 red potatoes, scrubbed
1 medium zucchini, sliced and quartered
1 red bell pepper, diced
double handful fresh green beans, chopped into 1-2″ pieces
Any extra leftover veggies in your fridge (carrots, cauliflower, squash, spinach, whatever)
Generous dose of salt and pepper
1-2 teaspoons fresh or dry herbs: rosemary, basil, thyme, oregano, whatever you like
1/2 cup shredded Parmesan or Romano cheese

olive oil

Chop up your meat and potatoes and veggies and toss everything into a bowl and mix well I put it into a medium-sized Tupperware and did a little “Shake It Up, Baby!” dance. However, you will probably prepare these at home instead of on a National Park picnic table, so, bowl and spoon for you, Elaine dance for me. Tear off four large pieces of tin foil and make two stacks. Put a drop or two of olive oil on the foil and spread it around with your (mostly) clean finger (or, you know, use a little cooking spray). This helps your dinner not stick to the foil. In the middle of each piece of foil put a pile of your dinner mixture, and then drizzle it with olive oil, like so:

Gourmet Tin Foil Dinner 2_heidikinscooks_June 2014

Then fold the long edges together to make a sort-of open tube, like so:

Gourmet Tin Foil Dinner 3_heidikinscooks_June 2014

Take the short edges and bring them to the center to seal off your dinner:

Gourmet Tin Foil Dinner 4_heidikinscooks_June 2014

Roll those pieces together tightly down to the packet.

Gourmet Tin Foil Dinner 5_heidikinscooks_June 2014

Repeat this whole process with another layer of foil. Then put your dinner on white-hot campfire coals (not flames), and let cook for 35-45 minutes, until your meat is done and your potatoes are soft. Add more salt and pepper if necessary, and enjoy!

 

A Few Tips for Campfire Cooking:

  • Cooking over a fire takes a while, it takes a while to start your fire and it takes some time before it’s ready to cook on.
  • Make sure you bring extra wood (for s’mores) and at least 2 gallons of water for dousing your coals before you leave the campsite (if you have water at your campsite, then make sure to bring a gallon jug to get it from the river/faucet to your fire pit).
  • Bring a pair of long fire-resistant tongs, and/or a pair of heavy-duty leather gloves for retrieving your dinner.
  • A shovel for moving your coals around is much more precise than using a stick, but a big stick will work just fine.
  • You can always pull your dinner out to check it, re-wrap, and pop it back in if it’s not done yet, but you will lose some of the steam and the tight foil seal by doing so.

Gourmet Tin Foil Dinner: Corn on the Cob

19 June 2014

I grew up on tin foil dinners and dinners spent up in the canyon during the summer, it was so much cooler up there than down in the valley we would often go enjoy the trees and the rushing mountain run-off and s’mores. Years ago I did a post on Tin Foil Dinners that still gets a lot of traffic during the summer, but my taste for camping food has changed dramatically since 2008. (2008!? Holy crap that makes me feel old!)

A few weeks ago J-Mo and I spent a wonderful evening in the canyon with friends, and instead of the typical ground beef-carrots-potato dinner, I decided to go out on a limb and try something completely out of my comfort zone. I am thrilled to report that this recipe will make it into my regular camping rotation. So easy, sooooo delicious.

Gourmet TIn Foil Dinner Corn on the Cob 3_heidikinscooks_June 2014The trickiest thing about cooking over an open fire is, well, cooking over an open fire. There are no ways to really gauge temperature and you can’t just flip on the oven light to see how your dinner is coming along. However, build your fire and the let it burn for a good 30-45 minutes, you want some white-hot coals and a few licks of fire on your logs, not a pile of flames. These cooked on flames and it was a little bit less than ideal, it cooks much hotter and much faster than coals, but also less evenly. Do as I say, not as I do.

Gourmet Tin Foil Dinner: Corn on the Cob

Campfire with white-hot coals and only a few flames

6 ears fresh corn on the cob

6 tablespoons butter

6 ice cubes

6 sheets tin foil

salt and pepper

Husk your corn and pick the hairy thread things off (don’t burn the husks, they are too wet and will smoke you out of your campsite). For each ear you want to slather it with some butter, salt and pepper, add an ice-cube to each square of foil and then roll it “tootsie-roll” style twisting off the ends. The ice will melt and help “steam” your kernels, I was surprised at how much of a difference this made. (I put a handful of cubes into a ziploc bag and brought them in our cooler.) When your coals are ready, pop these babies right on top and let them cook for about 20-25 minutes, turning over occasionally.

Gourmet Tin Foil Dinner Corn on the Cob 1_heidikinscooks_June 2014

You want that fine balance between corn that is no longer raw, but not yet charred. However, the little roasted bits are so delicious, so don’t pull them off too soon.

Add some more salt and pepper, hot sauce, rosemary, or mayo and lime, and enjoy!

A Few Tips for Campfire Cooking:

  • Cooking over a fire takes a while, it takes a while to start your fire and it takes some time before it’s ready to cook on.
  • Make sure you bring extra wood (for s’mores) and at least 2 gallons of water for dousing your coals before you leave the campsite (if you have water at your campsite, then make sure to bring a gallon jug to get it from the river/faucet to your fire pit).
  • Bring a pair of long fire-resistant tongs, and/or a pair of heavy-duty leather gloves for retrieving your dinner.
  • A shovel for moving your coals around is much more precise than using a stick, but a big stick will work just fine.
  • You can always pull your dinner out to check it, re-wrap, and pop it back in if it’s not done yet, but you will lose some of the steam and the tight foil seal by doing so.
Follow

Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.

Join 28 other followers