If you’ve been reading the blog all week, then you know that I am on the best vacation of my life…right here at my house! I needed meal and snack ideas for vacation, and surprisingly, I did myself a favor and took the time to come up with some. Brother Bear and his family have been here since Monday, and we’re gearing up for a big July 4th celebration tomorrow (if it’s not pouring rain). We’ve been hiking, swimming, boating, ziplining, and, of course, eating with wild abandon all week long.
I didn’t want to break the bank or destroy my kitchen trying to keep us all fed (all being my 4, with the occasional shared meal with the bro-fam, since they came in their own accommodations with their own groceries….excellent guests, I must say), but I wanted to have vittles that we all enjoy, since it is our vacation. I also didn’t want to spend half of my time preparing meals and snacks, sweating away in the kitchen. In light of all this, I conjured up some easy meal ideas and snack ideas for vacation that can just sit around in the fridge and wait for hungry people to show up.
Meal and Snack Ideas for Vacation
Homemade Pimento Cheese
First, I made some amazing, homemade pimento cheese.…easy, cheap, and delicious on a sandwich, a cracker, a stalk of celery, your finger…you get it. This is a Southern staple. My family loves it, and it feeds a crowd! This is how I make mine:
- Shred a whole big bunch of Velveeta cheese product by hand into a big bowl. I used about 6 ounces for this. The colder it is, the easier to shred, so you can even let it hang out in the freezer for about 5 minutes first. It is a bit of a pain to shred Velveeta, but it’s so worth it. The pre-shredded stuff just separates entirely too much for my taste…this recipe is supposed to be creamy!
- Shred a whole big hunk of Medium Cheddar into the same big bowl. I used about half of a block. This is what makes it GOOD…that, and the fact that you hand-shredded everything.
- Add a mostly-drained jar of diced pimentos. I used a big jar, and leaving a dab of the juice in there helps everything mix to a creamy consistency.
- Add a good dollop of mayo. I use Duke’s, and about 1/2-3/4 cup went into this batch.
- Sprinkle in some delicious cajun seasoning, some hot sauce, or cayenne pepper (I used cajun seasoning and hot sauce).
- Mix it all up and let it sit in the fridge for a few hours, then eat it up!
I had planned for some cute little artsy shots of this yumminess on a cracker or something, but the pimento cheese is all gone. Planning ahead for me means taking care of about half of what I needed to, so the half I forgot was pictures of the finished product! Ha!
Pico de Gallo
Next, I made some of my famous pico de gallo, using some of our home-grown tomatoes and jalapeños. No prep pictures for this, but it’s super easy, and so delicious. I might have used one or two too many jalapeños, but no one was too wimpy, because the pico is all gone, too!
- I start with fresh, home-grown tomatoes, cut them into chunks, and drop them into my Tupperware hand-crank food processor (but I bet your electric one will work, too).
- I rough-chop my jalapeños (careful!), a big, sweet onion, and a bunch of fresh cilantro. Run them through the little blade-gadget as well, then mix it all together with the tomatoes.
- Squeeze a couple of cloves of garlic into that mixture with a garlic press (or chop them up by hand, if you’d like. I’m going to call you garlic-fingers, but go ahead!)
- Squeeze in the juice of a lime or two, depending on how juicy your limes are. I used one.
- Add some salt and pepper to taste, stir it up, and chill it for a little bit.
- Nope, I never took a picture of the finished product.
I also threw together some delicious refrigerator pickles last week, which will be even better in a few more weeks, but are so delicious now that my niece has asked me to get them out again at least three times. This had to be one of the best meal and snack ideas for vacation that came into my head, and our bellies! Click Here for the recipe I used, but know that I modified it some. I used pickling cucumbers straight from my garden, and I did some in spears, some whole, and some in slices. I didn’t use “Pickle Crisp”, but I soaked my cukes in ice water for a while before stuffing them in the jar to help crisp them up. I also didn’t use grape leaves, but I added some sliced jalapeños and some hunks of onion. (Guess what? All gone, except for this one jar,which I may hoard….they’re best after about a month.)
Barbecue Chicken Sandwiches
Wednesday morning I threw a big pack of chicken breasts into the slow-cooker with some of Coach’s famous secret-recipe barbecue sauce. Once it was all tender and juicy, I shredded it up in the yummy sauce and we’ve been able to make a scrumptious barbecue chicken sandwich any time we feel like it. This fed 12 people for two days in a row! (It’s gone, too.)
- Buy some boneless, skinless chicken breasts.
- Beg Coach to share his “Famous Secret-Recipe Barbecue Sauce ” recipe with you, but if he won’t, break out some Sweet Baby Ray’s. It’s our favorite.
- Toss the chicken breasts into your slow-cooker, drown them with sauce, and let it cook for the next 8 hours.
- Shred the chicken up, slap it on a bun, and go back to the creek!
- Forget to take pictures.
These recipes have kept us full and happy all week long, and I hope you’ll try them! It goes to show, if you have an arsenal of meal and snack ideas for vacation, you can feed the crowds and save a lot of work! Coach has been grilling hamburgers and hot dogs, and I’ve heated up some beans and a few other things, but I have definitely NOT spent my vacation in the kitchen. As a matter of fact, Brother Bear’s wife, Sister Shell, prepared some of the meals, added to the spread with some of their stuff to make it go further, and helped clean up every time. She’s a jewel.
The two of them also kept an eye on all the kiddos Wednesday so Coach and I could have some time alone! Neither of us felt like getting gussied up and going anywhere, so we explored in our own woods, hiking back to one of my favorite spots in the creek. This little piece of Heaven on Earth is called The Baptizing Hole.
It’s a section of Big Creek that you’ll never see without doing some brave exploring, in and out of briars and chiggers and all sorts of wildness, and down a mud embankment. You’ll also need written permission, since it’s private property. There’s a little church down the road from us that always used this spot for Baptisms, and Papa used to tell stories about watching the church members walk up the road, around the corner, and down to The Baptizing Hole, singing and rejoicing to The Lord the whole way. It was a fascinating memory for him, and I’ve always been in deep, deep love with The Baptizing Hole.
Last night, all of the kiddos (including an extra family friend who becomes one of us when Brother Bear is here, making that a total of 7 kiddos) slept out in the RV with Brother Bear and Sister Shell so Coach and I could go on a mouse hunt. We’ve had this one large mouse who keeps making an appearance in the house and scaring all of the little girls (and me) to death. We were successful in relocating him, and we sure do appreciate the house being empty. We had traps set everywhere! Plus, the power went out for about 4 hours yesterday evening, and the RV has a generator, so the kids didn’t have to sleep in the hot upstairs. I have the best Brother Bear and Sister Shell in the world!
What an amazing vacation! I’m going to be sad to see Brother Bear and his family leave on Sunday, and even sadder to see this vacation end for all of us. It has truly been magical, and filling!
Drop me a comment and let me know your meal and snack ideas for vacation! Do you always travel on vacation, or do you enjoy a good “stay-cation” like us? The pimento cheese, pico de gallo, and refrigerator pickles will travel well in a cooler, and you can save a little money for fancy suppers!
You know I’m always up for swapping ideas when it comes to meal preparation. And if you make the salsa, and you use too many jalapeños, don’t blame me!
I’d love to stay and chat, but I am suddenly hungry for some pickles! Happy Independence Day to all, and I will see you again on Monday!