Sunday, July 28, 2013

Carpe Diem: Shopping List for Gourmet Four Family Camping Menu (four days / three nights)

Shop till you drop

With lots of hungry mouths to feed over a four-day camping trip, the shopping list might seem extensive.  But, keep in mind, four families over four days that’s 144 mouths over nine meals.  And those are mouth fresh from hikes, kayaking and generally running around outside, so they are really hungry.  The shopping list is scaled for mostly adults and young children so if your group has older kids, the items and sizes should be increased.  Our bill was about $175.00 which equates to about $19.40 per meal for 16 people.  Not too bad for all the food (and no one went hungry).

The correlating menu also uses left over items from one meal to complete the next.  If your appetites are big, adjust the shopping list accordingly.  Loaded baked potatoes one evening form the basis for Maxwell potatoes the next; while, left over fire-roasted corn is added to campside prepared Pico de Gallo and left over pork making mouth-watering Corn and Pork Quesadillas for lunch.   Also to note, this shopping list accounts for making mixes for pancakes, biscuits, scones and Caesar salad dressing from scratch, which is far easier than people might think.  However, if your interest centers on pre-made mixes and dressings add those to the list instead.  All in all, just stock up on the freshest ingredients available and leave the pre-processed stuff at home.   The outdoors is calling for you to seize the day!


Olive oil
Baking soda
Baking powder
Onion powder
Garlic Salt
Vanilla extract
Dry Spaghetti
Lemonade mix
Tea Bags
Worcestershire sauce

Shopping List:

2 cans diced tomatoes (28 oz.)
Breadcrumbs (panko or Italian)
1 tin anchovies

3 medium onions
3 zucchinis
3 yellow squash
1 carton fresh mushrooms
2 orange bell peppers
2 bulbs fresh garlic
Fresh herbs: oregano, rosemary, thyme, tarragon, mint, dill, and chives
1 lemon
1 bunch romaine lettuce
Large carton strawberries
Large carton blueberries
12-14 navel oranges
2 apples
1 shallot
2 English cucumbers
14-16 large baking potatoes
4 lbs. fresh green beans
12-14 ears fresh corn in husks
12-14 bananas
2 apples
1 shallot
2 English cucumbers
14-16 large baking potatoes
4 lbs. fresh green beans
12-14 ears fresh corn in husks
12-14 bananas

1 loaf unsliced bread

14-16 pork chops
2 whole chickens
2 lbs. ground beef

2 cans of beer

1 box chocolate cake mix
Small bag and large bag marshmallows
Chocolate bars
Graham crackers
Nuts: Pecans & Almonds
1 package caramel pieces

2 large packages bacon (approximately 2 lbs. per package)
3 packages sausage

Package shredded cheese
8 oz. carton sour cream
4 orange juice concentrate
2 Gallons milk
1-quart heavy cream
2-3 cartons 18 count large eggs
Grated Parmesan cheese
1 package cream cheese (8 oz.)

Options for lunch and snacks
Flour Tortillas
Fresh cilantro
Tortilla chips
10 Ripe Avocados
Serrano peppers
Loaf sliced sandwich bread

Wednesday, July 17, 2013

Carpe Diem: Eat, Drink, be Merry and Let the Planning Begin

Now that the day has been seized and the spontaneous trip is planned, we say let the meal planning begin.  For this article, we wanted to highlight a four day, three night camping trip menu (links will be loaded soon to all the recipes - we only had one day to plan and shop the market).  Not only is the trip spur of the moment, but four families, including all their brood will be joining on the adventure.  This means 14 hungry, outdoor mouths to feed.  There are no burgers and brats on this trip; we always feed the entire crew with a level of campsite Grasshaven gourmet.

First, we start with a detailed plan.  This means planning breakfast and dinner dishes.  You might think we forgot lunch.  Lunch time can be variable for a group trip.  With some people hiking, canoeing or just lounging, getting everyone wrangled for an organized affair can be a challenge.  So we just let everyone forage during lunch.  There are always plenty of left overs and sandwich fixings to make sure no on goes hungry. But just in case you're looking for suggestions we have shared some lunch ideas using some of the menu fixings outlined
below.  We will also post the entire shopping list as a part of this spontaneous camping series.  So for now, take a look at the menu items.  We hope your mouths are already watering.  We know that when you see the pictures your eyes will appreciate the candy.

Carpe Diem 4 day Gourmet Camping Menu

Spaghetti alla Marinara
Thursday PM: Very intaliano and easy for camp arrival
Grilled Meatballs
Garlic Fry Bread
Traditional Caesar Salad

Dessert: S'Mores of course

Friday AM: Kids campside favorites

Strawberry Pancakes
Homemade Strawberry Pancakes
Scrambled Eggs
Open-fire Bacon

Apple Smoked Pork Chops
Friday PM: Old school barbecue, with flare
Apple Smoked Pork Chops
Campsite Baked Potatoes
Almond Green Beans with Bacon
Homemade Cooler Dill Pickles

Dessert: Orange Chocolate Cakes

Saturday AM: International adventure
Blueberry Stuffed French Toast
Pecan Scones
Grilled Sausage

Salted Caramel Monkey S'Mores
Saturday PM: Herby delight
Tarragon Beer Can Chicken
Maxwell English Potatoes
Grilled Corn with Rosemary Butter

Dessert: Salted Carmel Monkey S'Mores

Chuck Wagon Breakfast Skillet
Sunday AM: Throwin' it together to finish the trip
Chuck Waggon Breakfast Skillet
Campfire Biscuits and Gravy
Open-fire Bacon

Lavender Mint Lemonade
Sweet Mint Iced Tea
Arnold Palmer
Iced Tea

Lunch options:
Meatball Sandwiches
Pork and Corn Quesadillas
BATLOCS (Bacon, Avocado, Tomato, Lettuce, Onion, Cheese, Sprouts)
Chicken Salad with Blueberries

Tuesday, July 16, 2013

Living through carpe diem

Carpe Diem loosely translates to "seize the day" though some may argue that a more accurate translation would be "enjoy the day".  We actually like the later as we equate the outdoors with creating a memorable outdoor experience.  For many, camping is a trip that takes planning and preparation (or at least forewarning).  However when a gathering of friends one evening arrives at the idea of a group family camping trip for the upcoming weekend two days away, we say Carpe Diem!

In every one of us (some more than others), a "planner" personality exists.  For the obsessive, write everything down to the last detail personality, the idea of a spontaneous four day camping trip can lead to heart palpitations and night sweats.   In their minds, a camping trip can boarder on the biopic feat that require months of planning and carefully crafted notes.  Yet although unnerving as this may sound to that personality, others embrace the idea of trekking into the outdoors with minimal planning, leaving their experience to chance (and the unexpected rainshower creating a wet, soggy and cold trekker devoid of adequate rain gear and weather forecast knowledge). 

However, we advocate the perfect plan lies somewhere in-between.  A plan that allows for the spontaneous group decision, while also allowing for worst case planning, fitting of the more obsessive individual.

Through the next few blog post, the grasshaven team will help bridge the gap, allowing the compulsive planner a level of spontaneity while giving more detail to the ready for anything adventurer.   This is the series, Carpe Diem Camping.

So when it's T minus two days and counting until departure, what do you do?

Secure your camping location and understand fundamentals.  
Is there water? Are there personal facilities? Is there an open fire ban?  What activities are near or at the campground?  Whose coming and when will they arrive?  Are there any gaps in camping equipment (click here for a detailed Grasshaven checklist to assist your planning)?  Details like these will offer a framework for pulling off a successful camping experience last minute.  Think through the most outer parameters of your trip.  Gear packing and your ultimate success will hang in the balance. 

Do an assessment of the group's camping equipment
Think through each families' equipment contributions.  Work to eliminate duplications while being mindful of equipment gaps.  An equitable balance of equipment between families will prevent undue equipment over or under load. 

Having an understanding of the facilities where you camp will inform the camping gear you will ultimately bring to make your tip a success.  And of course have a quick checklist ready. 

Tomorrow we will discuss meal planning and preparation for the trip.  Thursday we will leave on our spontaneous camping trip and on Friday, Saturday and Sunday we will chronicle experiences.  We are motivated to help get families and friends to embrace spontaneity and enjoy family camping together.  Although at Grasshaven, we always strive to share a perspective of comfort, style, function and at least a little glamping when we get the chance. 

In other words, enjoy the day... embrace carpe diem. And, do it spontaneously with style!

Friday, July 12, 2013

Picnic Style and Tail Gating Trends for Summer 2013

Summer is here and 2013 brings great picnic and tail-gating trends to ramp up your style in the outdoors.  As featured on The Everyday Show KDVR Fox 31 and in the publication, Colorado Meeting and Events, Dawn Bitz at Grasshaven highlights five picnic trends to inspire everyone outdoors to enjoy beautiful summer days (and nights).

Personalized Picnics

Ramping up the style quotient by bringing personalization into the picnic is what this trends is all about!  Favorite colors, foods and activities only scratch the surface. A glorious picnic basket like the Seine Deluxe Picnic Tote adds neutral style to any picnic experience. Pack non-breakable red wine glasses or white wine glasses suited to your wine palette. Bring butcher or large sheets of craft paper and sidewalk chalk for go anywhere hopscotch.  Add tablecloths, placemats and table runners that are completely reversible and ready for the outdoors.  One side features beautiful patterns while the other side is customizable and personalizable with chalk (available soon on  

Evening Picnics 

Take a cue from the movie and let twilight set the tone.  Welcome the evening outdoors. Start your outdoor experience as the evening cools and the sun begins to set.  Romance the setting sun with a beautiful picnic perfectly positioned to capture the evening glow.  Bring beautiful and stylish LED, battery powered lanterns to set the mood. Add glow in the dark bocce balls to enliven the activity outdoors.  Remember, the evening can invite flying pests so don't forget the organic bug spray and glow in the dark bug zappers  If allowable, start a fire, tell stories, make s'mores and let evening games unfold – then pack up and go home.

Themed Tailgating 

Forget the burgers and brats for your next tailgating event. How about something more exotic?  Think Moroccan, Cajun or Korean.  Recipes abound to bring this gastronomic experience to your next gathering.  But don't stop there, carry the theme through out the experience.  Find colorful d├ęcor to enhance the ambiance and match your theme.  Throw in the Seine Wine and Cheese Tote to keep those varietals cold and don't forget the portable propane grill or the fold-up portable charcoal grill to really make your next tail gating event a hit.

Bringing the Indoors Out

From tablescaping to table settings, indoor entertaining and epicurean inspirations can be taken right outside to the picnic blanket as well.  Put down the sandwich and let your culinary inspiration take hold. Bring indoor menu items out.  Pack everything into a vintage inspired basket, like the Vintage Deluxe Picnic basket for stylish transportation.  Pair great food with stylish yet functional dishes and round out your experience with foraged centerpieces made of grasses and wildflower for a truly memorable experience.

Potluck, Picnics, Playdates

Friends and family time beckons when picnics turn into social gatherings.  Find the perfect park, send our the invite for friends and family and meet up for a full day of fun.  Have everyone bring a blanket, a group game and their favorite picnic recipe.  Then let the activities commence.  Play games like Biffs, Bats and Balls or roll around an Ice Cream Making Ball. Fun will be had and everyone will be ready for memorable dreams as they head home from an eventful day.

Wednesday, July 10, 2013

Ring the Camp Dinner Bell

When the warm days of July beckon, it calls everyone to get outside and enjoy all that summer has to offer. And when everyone is out hiking, camping and just enjoying quality time together, appetites build.  These aren't run of the mill everyday appetites.  These are big, bold outdoor appetites.  They require a meal fitting for the great outdoors.  With that in mind, we've pulled together one of our favorite dinner menu selections.  We are even preparing the menu live and offering camp cooking tips on Denver's KDVR Fox 31 Everyday Show, July 11th 2013.  So tune in and get hungry.

This is a dinner menu that packs something for everyone.  Vegetarians and those with gluten free diets will love our superfood, power packed Apricot Nutty Quinoa Salad.  While our recipe for Rib Eye with Pecan Shallot Butter will tantalize all the meat eaters out there. Round out the after dinner dessert cravings with one of our Salted Caramel Monkey S'More and quench your thirst with a glass of our Lavender Mint Lemonade.  We think you'll sit back with the feeling your summer camping experience is now complete.

Oh the open grill during an outdoor excursion makes everyone’s mouth water.  We think it’ll water even more when this dish is plated.  The rib eye, a meat lovers dream.  With is flavorful marbling; the rib eye may be perfection in a steak.  Dressed simply with olive oil, a squeeze of lemon, salt and pepper this flavorful cut of meat could stand absolutely on its own.  However, when it’s paired with scrumptious pecan and shallot infused butter, it becomes over-the-top, melt in your mouth good.  And the best part, when prepared at the campsite, it can be the evening highlight after an outstanding outdoors adventure.

Click here for the full recipe

This recipe is a great stand alone for our vegetarian and vegan friends, but has an amazing flavor melding to stand up to our meat-a-saurus rib eye as a fitting side kick.

As an emerging celebrity of the whole grain circuit, quinoa (pronounced KEEN-wah) is finally emerging into its rightful place as a superfood, both at the campsite and in the home.  With its mild, but nutty flavor, this power packed staple, high in protein and fiber, stands up well to just about any flavor thrown at it.  And, did we mention it’s easy to cook.  In our nutty version, we add an extra dose of protein through almonds and a little carb kick with fruit.  Yet the real zing is a little cayenne pepper for a “little get out and enjoy the outdoors” zest.  

Click here for the full recipe

Salted Caramel Monkey S'Mores

When the campsite beckons for something new on the dessert front, try the salty sweet flavor infusion of Salted Caramel Monkey S’mores.   Sometimes known as banana boats, this self-packaged treat has all the trimmings to entice excitement out of even the most intrepid explored.  Grilling the banana helps toast the natural sugars while the addition of caramel, chocolate and a graham cracker crust makes this dish finger licking fare.   A pinch of sea salt balances the sugary concoction resulting in the perfect way to end a day in the outdoors

Click here for the full recipe

What a better way to relish the summer outdoors than by enjoying a sunshine filled glass of lemonade.  Whether picnicking, camping or just sitting in the back yard, lemonade is the perfect summertime drink.  And with the addition of mint and lavender, two other quintessential summer flavors, traditional lemonade receives a modern, epicurean update.  So go ahead and pour a glass, the combination of these flavors creates a refreshing drink that welcomes the outdoors with open arms.  

Click here for the full recipe