Category Archives: Backyard Family Fun

Campfire Chicken Fettuccine Alfredo

A Kid Favorite meal at our house is Fettuccine Alfredo.  Whether you make your Alfredo sauce from scratch, or from a prepared noodle mix, the kids always think it turns out great!   They like it either plain or served with broccoli or chicken.    Then we plate it with a side of vegetables, fruits, or salad.

This week we took their favorite food outdoors and made Campfire Chicken Fettuccine Alfredo.

My 12 year old son has been learning to cook on his campfire kitchen.   He gathers wood from dead trees and fallen sticks.  Then breaks, chops, or splits the wood into smaller size pieces for his campfire.

Cooking is such a good skill for everyone to have.

And knowing how to cook and boil water over a campfire with sticks you gathered yourself is a valuable skill that could save your life in a crisis.

He did a great job cooking outside on his campfire.  The chicken turned out tender, with a hint of smoke from the wood fire.  It was juicy inside and delicious!  He loved how it turned out and gave it two thumbs and a pocket knife up!


Recipe Ingredients & Directions:

Campfire Chicken

A campfire

Chicken breast

Olive Oil


Directions:  Rub olive oil and chicken and sprinkle with seasoning.  Cook over campfire until desired doneness.

Fettuccine Alfredo

Recipe 1:

Alfredo Pasta Mix (or make from scratch)



(Optional: Milk or powdered milk to mix with water if desired)

Directions:  Boil water and add butter and milk. Then add pasta mix with seasonings. Follow directions on package.

Note: When cooking outside on a campfire, the prepared pasta mixes are quick and easy for kids to prepare.  However, if you desire to cook the Alfredo from scratch, it is easy to do.  Here is a simple recipe that is easy and would only add a couple of additional steps when cooking on a campfire.

Recipe 2:

Fettuccine Alfredo from scratch.


Water (Boiling)
Fettuccine (or other pasta)
Sea salt (pinch)
Butter (1 stick)
Parmesan Cheese (finely grated, about 1 1/2 to 2 cups)

Directions:  Cook pasta in boiling salted water until done. Remove pasta from water. Reserve 2 cups pasta water and discard the rest.  Mix together 1 cup hot pasta water and butter until melted. Next slowly add Parmesan cheese, and continue mixing until completely mixed.  Next add pasta and coat with cheese mixture.  Add more pasta water until all pasta is coated with sauce and has reached the consistency you desire.

Peas (or broccoli)

Directions: Bring water to a boil and cook to desired doneness.  Fresh, frozen, and canned peas all cook very fast!

Blueberries (grapes or fresh fruit of choice)

Directions: Rinse, dry, and chill until ready to serve.

Note: Blueberries or grapes are easy to serve.  No prep needed!  They don’t need peeled, or sliced.  Just rinse and serve. Kids love them!


Romaine Lettuce, shredded or diced carrots, diced cucumbers, dried cranberries, diced tomato, shredded cheese, sunflower seeds or cashews, Italian dressing (or their favorite dressing).

Directions: Chop, wash, dice all of the salad ingredients ahead and keep chilled until the rest of the campfire food is ready to serve.  Then just plate it and top with favorite dressing as desired.

Note:  Different kids like different items in their salad.  Use what ever salad fixings your kids like, and skip the salad but use a carrot stick or sliced cucumber (not touching anything) if you have picky eaters.

The older four kids like their Alfredo pasta with the chicken added into the pasta dish, and the younger two kids like to have their chicken “outside” of the pasta and not touching anything else.  So we serve it both ways. I also serve the kids food on trays with sides that are small and easy to hold so they are less likely to drop their food.  The older kids can choose a tray or eat on regular plates like mom and dad.   However you serve this dish, it is sure to please.

Everyone agrees,  that Fettuccine Alfredo is a Kid Favorite!

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Campfire Steak with Salad and Berries

Campfire Steak with Salad and Berries.

This delicious simple meal is packed with tons of flavor and nutrients.

My son created a campfire in the backyard, and he asked if he could cook dinner on it.

He took a lot of time to gather sticks, split some of the larger pieces to make his firewood.  He built a fire in a small hole in the ground and surrounded it with rocks for his fire pit.   Then he borrowed the metal grate from our charcoal grill and placed it over the fire and rocks to have a surface to cook on.

He fed the fire with more wood and got a really nice hot fire going.

Then he waited for the flames to die down a bit before putting food on the metal grate over his fire.   He cooked steak and chicken.  I will post another story about what we made with the campfire chicken soon.

There is an incredible flavor difference cooking over an open wood fire verses other methods of cooking.  You just can’t get this flavor using a charcoal or gas grill or from cooking on a stove in the house.  You just can’t recreate this amazing flavor without the campfire.

Campfire Steak with Salad and Berries


Sirloin Steak – cooked outdoors over an open wood fire

Romaine Lettuce – torn

Carrots – shredded

Mushrooms – chopped

Pecans – broken into several pieces

Sunflower Seeds

Cheddar Cheese – shredded

Italian Vinaigrette Dressing




Cook the steak over the campfire until desired doneness.  Then remove it from the heat and put it on a plate and let it rest for 10 minutes.  You can cover it with a lid or foil while it rests if desired.

Then using a serrated kitchen knife, slice the steak into desired pieces.   Our steak sliced easily, and was juicy and tender inside.  The outside was smoky and resembled almost a bacon flavor. Inside was juicy and a delicious beef flavor.

Mix the salad and top it with Italian Vinaigrette.

Then rinse the berries with water, pat dry, and add them to the plate too.

The salad and fruit pared great with the steak.  This meal was amazing and bursting with flavors.

Knowing the effort my son put into making his campfire and cooking the meat for us made this meal even more special.

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Backyard Cookout On The Rocks

This summer we have had several wonderful backyard cookouts.  I wrote a story about “getting by” called Make Do, and shared how we have learned to be content and enjoy these cookouts without a modern grill.  It wasn’t easy to cook on the campfire and hot rocks, but we learned how to do it and do it well.  Cooking on the campfire got easier later on once we got a grate to place over our campfire too cook on.  But even without a grate, we were able to cook delicious and nutritious foods “On The Rocks”.

Backyard Cookout On The Rocks 

The campfire was built up and allowed to burn hot with fallen branches we collected from the yard.  While the fire was being stoked, we placed rocks and bricks on the edge of the fire.  I went to the garden to pick vegetables and prep the food, and some of the kids joined me for this, and some stayed with dad to tend the fire.  The the fire was allowed to burn up most of the wood, and burn down to a low fire.  We allowed most of the wood to burn out and turn into hot coals, or charcoal.  


Then we placed the food on the hot rocks, hot bricks, and coals to cook.  Stay close by with a shovel, incase you have a flare up of the fire and need to knock it down, and so you can turn the food often.  


We turned the foil packets over with the shovel about every five minutes or so to be sure they cooked evenly until they were done.  


The smoke from the charred wood permeated the food and resulted in a delicious, labor of love, meal.  Below I have posted some of the individual recipes to make a delicious meal on your campfire.

On the Rocks Veggie Packs:

Thinly slice fresh potatoes, onions, and fresh zucchini.

Then season with 1 tbsp. olive oil, sea salt, pepper, garlic powder, and cayenne.  


Wrap in foil and fold over seams to make packets.  We used two layers to be sure the food was protected from loosing steam/moisture while cooking.  Then place packets on hot rocks and hot bricks to cook over the coals of the wood fire.   Check packets after 15 minutes or so for doneness.  The thinner you slice the vegetables the faster they will cook, so watch carefully that it doesn’t burn.


On the Rocks Corn On The Cob:

We also prepared fresh corn on the cob in their husks and wrapped in foil packets to roast over the fire.  Then carefully open the husks and remove the silks.  Soak the corn in the husk in cold water. 


Remove from the water and drain excess water on a towel.  Rub the corn with butter, and season with sea salt and pepper if desired, or season after it cooks, just before serving.  


Carefully place the husk back over the corn on the cob on large squares of foil.  


Wrap the husk covered corn on the cob in foil and fold the ends back over the cob like wrapping a burito, so it is tightly shut to make an enclosed packet that doesn’t loose moisture.     Again we used two layers to be sure the packets were sealed shut.


Then place foil corn cob packets on the hot rocks next to the campfire.  Allow to cook, turning often for about 7 to 10 minutes.  Make sure it doesn’t over cook or burn.  Unwrap and serve.  If you did not season the corn prior to cooking, then season now.  Nothing tastes better than sea salt and ground pepper on the sweet smoky corn.  It is a flavor explosion to the taste buds.

A Wholesome Family Adventure:

While the packets of food cooked, the kids cooked hot dogs on homemade spears they made with dad. 

He helped them use the pocket knife to whittle and carve spears to hold the hot dogs over the fire for roasting.  They enjoyed selecting maple tree limbs and using the pocket knife to whittle their spears.  They really enjoyed cooking their own hot dogs too.  


At the end of the evening, we let them roast some marshmallows too.  YUM!


Sometimes the marshmallows got a little over cooked!  LOL!


But it was a fun evening with family and food.


Cooking on a campfire in the backyard can be a great family adventure.  The kids can be involved by helping their parents prep the food and cooking the food with supervision.  It is a great hands on way for them to learn life skills and enjoy spending time together as a family too.


Be sure to read about the Smokey Garden Fresh Burgers and delicious garden veggies we made on the campfire too.  The Smokey Garden Fresh Burger has to be the best sandwich I have ever eaten, hands down!  Be sure to check out the recipe!

Linking up with:
Raising Homemakers
Sharing Time

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Garden Fresh Smoked Burgers

We have been doing some outdoor cooking on an open wood fire in the backyard.  It is the best tasting grilled food I have ever eaten!  There is something special about the natural fire burning the hardwood limbs of apple, maple, and mulberry trees.  It flavors the food with a delicious sweet smoky flavor.  Be sure to read more about how we set up our outdoor campfire grill to cook meals for our family. 

Dinner: Garden Fresh Vegetables and Smoked Burgers

Pictured above here is my complete dinner which included garden fresh red potatoes and green beans, acorn squash, and a delicious smokey sirloin burger with a few veggies inside.  All of the ingredients in this dinner (except the bun, and the ground sirloin), were picked fresh from our family garden just a few minutes before grilling them.  A few of the green beans were just starting to mature, and so they are quite small, tender, and delicious. 

veggies include:
            beside the bun (potatoes, green beans, jalapeno, cilantro, shallots, acorn


            inside the burger (jalapeno, cilantro, shallots)


            and on the burger (lettuce leaves, sliced radishes, yellow tomato, and onion),


Yeah, I know what you must be thinking, those ain’t normal radishes!  Well, they are, they were just some that were left in the ground longer than the earlier ones we harvested.  They really packed a spicy punch! And were so crunchy and delicious on this burger.

The Process

Potatoes and beans:

Spray foil with oil spray.  Add veggies of choice.  I added sliced red potatoes, young green beans, diced jalapeno, cilantro, sea salt, and pepper. Optional: you can add a tsp of butter or olive oil if desired. I ment to ad diced shallots to this packet, but forgot.  I did ad it to a different packet though.  Lay another piece of foil over the veggies.  Fold the two foil pieces into a packet by folding the edges to make a seal.  Be sure there are no gaps in the edges, as the veggies will steam in their own juices and you don’t want any steam to escape.  We laid these packets onto campfire and let them cook for 20 to 30 minutes or so.  The result was a delicious tender cooked and deliciously flavored vegetables.


For the squash I used acorn squash and sliced it about 1/4 inch thick.  Drizzled with olive oil and sprinkle with sea salt and pepper.  Place onto grate on the campfire and cook 15 minutes or more turning as needed until both sides are lightly golden and cooked through.  You can set the squash to the coolest part of the campfire if they start to over brown. We placed ours on top the foil packets to cook slowly in the beginning, and then directly over the fire later on.  It all depends on how hot your fire is for where is best spot over the fire to cook them.



In a bowl I mixed together diced shallots, chopped cilantro, and diced jalapeno pepper, garlic powder, sea salt, and pepper. Then made the mixture into patties by gently pressing the mixture in the palm of my hand with my fingers until I had a flat and round patty.

I made some patties that were plain too for our kids, and put some uncured all beef hot dogs on the grill too.  The kids are not very accepting of green things hanging out of their burgers. 

The Campfire:

We placed all these wonderful patty’s and other dinner items on the open campfire. 

Then we placed it all on the campfire.  Here you can see the burgers and foil packets of potatoes and beans over the fire, and the squash is on top of the foil packets slowing down the cooking of them so they didn’t over cook.  Then we also cooked them over the direct fire for a time too till they were lightly golden and cooked through.

The Outcome:

Their loss is MY GAIN!  The kids don’t know what they are missing!  

The burger was moist and so flavorful!  It was not spicy at all.  All of the flavors and sweet smokey aroma complimented the burger perfectly!

Though this meal was cooked outside, over an open wood fire, it was restaurant quality.   There is no doubt about it!   This was one of the most delicious dinners I have ever enjoyed. 

Linking up with:
Raising Homemakers
Sharing Time

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Make Do

So what do you do when you don’t have XYZ?   You MAKE DO!  

Let’s face it, you can’t always get what you want when you want it.  Or haven’t you learned that yet? 

I learned this lesson at a very young age.  My dad used to frequently tell me “Don’t sweat the small stuff” meaning don’t worry about things I can’t change and things that in the bigger picture of life really are not that important.

I want my children to learn this lesson while they are young too. I hope that by teaching them while they are young, and leading by example, and as they watch me and my husband cope with difficult circumstances in our adult life where we have no choice but to go without the things we want, or making do with what we have (and do it with a joyful heart), will make a positive impact on them and give them coping skills to handle whatever situations they face in their life.

“It’s healthy to be content, but envy can eat you up”.
                                                                 Proverbs 14:30

Sometimes accepting that I will have to “make do” means saving my sanity too.  No point in throwing a fit about it.  Just accept it for the time being, “make do” or make the best of the situation and the resources I have, and go forward.  If I waste my energy on pouting or throwing a tantrum, I miss my blessing.  I tell myself that someday I will improve the circumstances if I am able, but until then, be happy.

Our current season of life finds us “making do” with what we have and living without what we don’t have.  I won’t mention all of the wants, but one want / need we have is a backyard grill for our large family of eight people.  We would love to have a grill to enjoy summer cooking outside. 

About two months ago, we moved from North Carolina to Indiana.  The old farmhouse in Indiana is hot this summer.  I leave the kitchen door open most of the time, because it is so hot in the kitchen.  The kitchen is small.  It was a porch at one time in history, before indoor plumbing, and then was enclosed and plumbed probably in the 1930’s or so to become an indoor kitchen.  It is somewhat frustrating for me to cook in it as I was used to a big modern kitchen, with nice appliances, and lots of counter space for food prep with room still leftover for several small appliances in my previous home.  I also had a separate but adjoining dining room so the food was prepared in one area, and eating could take place a few feet away.  We enjoyed this lifestyle as homeschoolers, because we use our table not only for eating, but also for school work too, so I could cook or prep food in one area and all six of the kids could study and or play at the table and we had plenty of room for everyone. 

I am not complaining, but just pointing out the facts as they are.  Being in the small kitchen cooking, or at the kitchen table, means we are all on top of each other.  Literally, we are elbow to elbow in the kitchen.   I find myself in a very old house with almost no electrical outlets, poor lighting, and the kitchen feels like a dungeon.  It is not convenient at all. 

I have two feet of counter space to the left and to the right of the sink, and I bump into the table behind me every at every turn.  And sitting at the table means your back is to the wall on one side, and bumping into the oven door or fridge door when they are opened on the other side.  I currently can’t even imagine how I am going to use the table for school work too.  I feel like I am in a camper with the burden of cooking for a large family and don’t have access to what I need.  By the time you have the coffee pot, a mixer or bowl, and if there are any dishes on the counter to be hand washed, there is no room left for food prep.  There is no dishwasher, microwave, or nice appliances, and gasp. . . no ice maker or water dispenser in the fridge door either.  Nope, NADA!  

And did I mention it is HOT!??   It makes more sense to cook outside than inside right now in the hot summer.  But we don’t have a grill and we don’t have the budget for one at this time either.   What little money we have had has gone to cover basic needs for food, gas, bills, and the garden seeds, and a few fruit trees / plants for the orchard.   In this season of our life, there are many needs and plenty of wants going unmet. 

One thing is for sure, when you accept your circumstances, you can deal with them better.  If you fight, pout, and are frustrated about your circumstances, it makes it all that much harder to live with.  

I am so thankful for my family, even with the demands of caring for a large family.  My kids can be a great source of encouragement in this whole thing, because they are resilient, and optimistic.  They may need a little “get over it” time too, but eventually they come around to the idea of let’s “make do”.  As long as you are together, and have each other to build one another up, you can get through it. 

It is tough!  I am not going to lie!  It is not easy to set aside your wants.  And it is hard to watch those you love suffer, struggle, or go without.

Evaluate What You Have On Hand To Use

So. . . what to do. . .what to do. . .?

First I need to look at the resources I have on hand, and then I can MAKE DO! 

If I want to cook outside, but don’t have a grill, why not cook on an open fire?  For thousand years my ancestors cooked on open fires.  They didn’t have grills, gas ovens, crock pots, or electric stoves.  Yet they succeeded in feeding large families with the resources they had.

Well, in theory that sounds good, but in practice cooking on an open fire presents some challenges: a steep learning curve if you have never cooked out in the open, safety for the cook, safety for the bystanders, keeping a constant source of heat or temperature, preventing food from burning, and food from falling into the fire and being covered in ashes, etc.  It is definitely challenging, but if I can manage those challenges then I can “make do”.

Resources I have on hand to cook a meal outside:

            -open space in the backyard
            -shovel to maneuver hot rocks, hot bricks, and charred wood that is on fire
            -tree limbs: maple, apple, mulberry, etc.
            -matches to start a fire
            -foil to provide some protection for food that can burn easily or food that
                 needs to steam in its own juice
            -a pocket knife to whittle wooden spears to hold food over the fire
            -fresh garden produce
            -bread and buns

With these resources we were able to build wonderful camp fires in the evenings when daddy got off work, and cook fresh food for several delicious and fun family dinners. 

In the meal pictured below, we roasted fresh corn on the cob, roasted fresh red potatoes with onions and zucchini that was just harvested from the garden before going on the fire, and uncured all natural beef hot dogs cooked by the kids skewered on our wooden spears.

Within a few weeks of learning to cook on the fire, we acquired a new resource: a grate to place over the open fire to cook on.  I was so excited about this “step up” !   I had looked and looked at newspapers, online sources, etc. to try to find a free grill someone was getting rid of, even if nothing on it could be used except the grate, or one that could be bought very cheap. But as the weeks went on through the summer, I could not find one, not even one to recycle.

After a few times of cooking on hot rocks and bricks and spears made of sticks, we finally acquired a grate we found on clearance while grocery shopping.  We now have a wonderful grate to put over the fire for under $10 and and a couple of metal
spear/forks for $2 to spear the food if desired, and this made cooking over the fire much easier.  Total investment was around $14.  We had the bricks already on hand from an old foundation we recycled that was under a shed we took down on the farm.  We made side walls with the bricks by stacking them two bricks high and the bricks helped to keep a hot fire going by retaining a lot of the heat and preventing the fire from spreading out to much, and also helped to hold the cooking grate.  I am very thankful for the upcycled bricks.


Cooking over a wood fire is lots of work!  It takes diligence to gather sticks to build the fire, and constant stoking the fire, and time to monitor the fire so it is just right to cook on.  About an hour or more of work goes into making the wood fire before we can place food on it.   And there are a few dangers to keep in mind at all times, especially with young kids around, and if the fire flairs up unexpectedly while you are leaning over it!

Though we have been “making do” without a modern grill this summer, we have a good attitude about it.  We are enjoying our time together, and enjoying learning the ongoing process of getting by and making the most of what we do have.  We are especially enjoying learning the delicious art of cooking over a wood fire outdoors.  No grilling we have ever done EVER, has tasted this good! 

The food is juicy and has a delicious flavor infused with the smoke from the apple, maple, and mulberry tree limbs we are burning.   If you enjoy apple wood smoked bacon, smoked meats like maple wood smoked turkey or smoked brisket, then you will enjoy the flavors of this style of cooking.  It is very exciting to the nose and the tastebuds.

All of the ingredients in this dinner (except the bun, hotdogs, and the beef), were picked fresh just a few minutes before grilling them. 

The fresh
veggies in our meal include:
            next to the bun (potatoes, greenbeans, Jalapeno, Cilantro, shallots, acorn
            inside the burger (Jalapeno, Cilantro, shallots)
            and on the burger (lettuce leaves, sliced radishes, yellow tomato, and onion), 

Though this dinner was cooked outside over an open fire, this meal was restaraunt quality, there is no doubt about it!  Pictured below here is garden fresh red potatoes and green beans, acorn squash, and a delicious garden fresh sirloin burger.

Our country has been so blessed to have easy access to so much modern technology and appliances.  These modern conveniences have made cooking easier for our generation.  Past generations had a much more challenging time preparing foods and cooking delicious meals for their families.  Yet they learned to master the art of cooking both outdoors and indoors (in fire places) over an open fire. 

I am excited to post some upcoming stories about outdoor cooking over the open fire that we have been enjoying this summer.  Stay tuned and I will share with you some delicious foods you can easily cook in your own backyard with your kids and you can make them on the grill, in an electric skillet, or on the campfire. 

Meanwhile, I encourage you to embrace the circumstances you find yourself in during different seasons of life.  Give “making do” a go and I am sure you will get through the toughest of times.  It will inspire you and your family to keep believing that one day the circumstances will change and they will be able to get the things that are needed and wanted, but for now we can and will endure with with a joyful heart what we have on hand.  We can “make do”.

What ways are you making do in your life?  Have you shared this experience with your children?  Please share your comments below.  Thank you.

This post will be linked up with:
Raising Homemakers
Sharing Time


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