How To Make Great Tinfoil Dinners

My heart has been aching for the Sullenger Family during this hard time. It has been reminding me to cherish each moment.

We have been having a lot of fun lately experimenting with tinfoil dinners and trying all sorts of variations. They are so easy to put together and pretty much anything tastes great once cooked. Here are a few of our favorites:

The Basic

The basic tinfoil dinner is fool proof and is a great starter for any tinfoil meal. You can pretty much add anything and it will taste great! This is my husband’s favorite.

What You Need:

  • 1 serving meat
  • 2 cups veggies
  • Salt
  • Pepper
  • Oil
  • (Optional) Some sort of sauce: Creme of chicken/mushroom, BBQ sauce, or just a bit of Oil (we like Olive Oil) or anything else you want to try


Step 1: Cut a piece of tinfoil about 15 -18 inches long. Lay it out shiny side up. If the shiny side is down, it will NOT cook- the shiny side will reflect the heat away.

Step 2: Spray or spread a little oil on the tinfoil. Add your meat and veggies. Salt and pepper to taste.

Step 3: Wrap up the tinfoil by pinching the two long edges together and rolling down and then rolling the ends together in.

Step 4: Wrap with second piece of tinfoil (shiny side up!)

Cajun Rice
This one is soooo yummy! I was pleasantly surprised!
What You Need:
  • 1 cup cooked rice
  • 1 cup black beans
  • 1/2 cup salsa
  • 1 serving meat – Sausage or polish hot dog are great!
Step 1: Spray or spread a little oil on a 15-18 inch piece of tinfoil (shiny side up).
Step 2:  Place the rice on the tinfoil and create a little “nest” with a hole in the middle.
Step 3: Add cut up meat.

Step 4: Separately ix salsa and black beans together and pour on top of meat.
Step 5: Wrap the tinfoil up and re wrap a second time. Cook for 10 – 20 minutes until heated.
Chicken Stir-fry
This is also a really good meal and it has more veggies which make it feel healthier!
What You Need:
  • 3/4-1 cup cooked cups rice
  • 4 T Teriyaki Sauce (or Soy Sauce)
  • 4 T water
  • 1 T sugar
  • about 1/4 tsp garlic powder
  • about 1/4 tsp pepper
  • 1 – 1 1/2 cups  vegetables
  • 1 serving bite sized pieces of chicken
  • Tinfoil
  • Large plastic container or 1 gallon sealable bag
Step 1: Prepare 2 cut pieces of tinfoil (shiny side up!). Add spray or spread the top one with oil. You will want the 2nd one ready to go once you fold the 1st one up at the end of the recipe. Have your container or sealable bag nearby, as well.
Step 2: Combine Teriyaki sauce, water sugar, garlic powder and 1/4 tsp pepper in a separate bowl and marinade the chicken for 10-15 minutes. Chicken can be raw or cooked (leftovers work great!)
Step 3: Add cooked rice and form a nest.
Step 4: Remove chicken from marinade and add the chicken inside the “nest”. It helps if you cook the chicken a little until it is just a little pink, if it is not already, prior to adding it to the rice. It will cook faster this way. Put the marinade to the side for a minute.
Step 5: Add vegetables. I used 1 cup frozen and 1/2 cup zucchini.
Step 6: Fold 2 of the sides up, leaving the 3rd side open. Try to fold the second piece around the first on 2 sides as much as possible leaving the same side open. Pour the leftover marinade inside and wrap up. It will most likely leak, so place it in the sealable bag or container if you are preparing these ahead of time.
Helpful Tips:
  • It helps cook the dinner faster if you cook the meat and potatoes a little before adding to tinfoil.
  • Softer/more sensitive vegetables like green peppers, peas, etc. place in the middle of the meal (not near the tinfoil) to prevent burning
  • If you have the long 18 inch heavy duty tinfoil, it will be a lot easier. But I have used the smaller and very weak kind and it worked fine. I had to wrap one or two meals a 3 times, but the food still turned out great!
  • Prevent the potatoes from burning by covering them in a little oil. The easiest way to do this is to put them in a container with a little oil and shake them up.  
I remove them from the excess oil before adding them to the rest of the meal on the tinfoil.


Puppy Chow Recipe

This recipe has been a favorite in my family since I was a little girl. You have probably had it before, but know it as another name. I like this recipe because it does not have any extra butter or oil to add like a lot of other Puppy Chow recipes do and it is very simple. A great recipe for little helpers to do.

What You Need:

  • 4-6 cups Chex or Crispix cereal (generic is great)
  • 1 cup chocolate chips
  • 1/2 cup peanut butter
  • Powdered Sugar
  • 1 large bowl
  • A small pot or a microwave safe bowl
  • Long wooden or plastic spoon


Step 1:  Pour 4 cups of cereal into a large bowl. I buy whatever cereal is the cheapest, which is usually the generic Chex and I will buy one box rice cereal and one box corn to use for this recipe.

Step 2:  Combine peanut butter and chocolate chips. Heat until just melted. I usually use the microwave and stir it every 20-30 seconds. It usually takes no more than 1.5 minutes.

Step 3:  Pour melted chocolate peanut butter into the large bowl over the cereal a little at a time stirring it into the cereal. Try to cover all the cereal with chocolate, so keep mixing. If you need to, add more cereal. How much cereal you add depends on how chocolate coated you want each peace to be. If you use all 6 cups your cereal may be a bit dry.

Step 4: Add the powdered sugar. Stir it in until everything is covered. If you are like my little sister you want a TON of powdered sugar!

Step 5: Enjoy!


  • Once you have mixed in the melted chocolate peanut butter put the mixture in a gallon sized sealable bag. Then add the powdered sugar. Seal the bag and shake. This can be less messy and it keeps the cereal from breaking up like it can when you are stirring with a spoon.
  • Divide up melted chocolate peanut butter mix into smaller sealable bags, so each of your helpers can shake up their own powdered sugar.

A funny story:… a few years ago I made some of this and grabbed a handful to take with us to the playground. A couple of friends heard me calling it Puppy Chow and giving it to my son. They finally came up and asked me what I was eating. When I told them I got the funniest look from both of them. So I opened up the paper towel I was holding to show them and told them how I made it. They both started laughing. They thought I was giving dog food to my son because they always called it something else growing up!

Easy Ice Cream Cake Recipe

(Don’t forget to send in your Summer Fun Challenge entries.
It doesn’t take long and it is a bunch of fun! And remember, it can be super simple. Just do something with “sticks” and then follow the entry instructions here.)

This ice cream cake is a hit everywhere it goes and best of all it is super easy to make and does not need to sit long to be ready.  I love ice cream cakes and this one feels like I am cheating when I am making it, but it tastes just as good as store bought or any other homemade one from scratch I have made! It is great for those times when you need a cake ASAP or just a fun treat to share. And best of all, it is easy enough that  your children can help make it with little or no mess!

What You Need:

  • 2 boxes ice cream sandwiches
  • 1 large container whipped cream
  • 1 bottle Magic Shell

**See variations at the bottom of this post for alternatives


Step 1: Set out a 9 x13 pan and unwrap your sandwiches. This part is definitely for the kids and it does not matter if they break the ice cream bars by accident!

Step 2: Lay 1 box of the sandwiches in the pan. All 12 do fit; you just have to squeeze them tight together in the pan. There is a brand of ice cream sandwiches called Sammies that are bigger and you only use 6 of those per layer.

If you look closely, you can see that we had to break a bar in half to make it all fit. (upper right corner)

Step 3: Cover first layer in whipped cream

Step 4: Repeat Steps 2 and 3 for the second layer. Usually there is a slight gap around the top edge because of the way the pan is made. That is okay! It makes it easier to take out of the pan.

Step 5: Cover the top with Magic Shell…as much or as little as you want. This picture below is almost a full bottle, but less looks good, too.

Step 6: Let it set in freezer until you are ready to eat. You do not have to set it long if you are in a rush, just a few minutes will do.

Step 7: ENJOY!!! As you can see it was a big hit. Everyone loved it!



  • Try a different flavor of ice cream bar. At my store there was vanilla, banana, Neapolitan and peanut butter. We made this one with one layer PB and one layer vanilla.
  • Instead of making it in a pan, make it on a jelly roll or cookie sheet. Make sure you buy a little extra whipped cream so you can cover the sides completely.
  • There are a bunch of new flavors of Magic Shell. Give another a try…I was tempted to grab the cupcake flavored one. Yum!
  • You can always add food coloring to your whipped cream to give the cake some color.

Have Fun!!!

Best Ever Banana Bread


(Don’t forget to check out the Summer Fun Challenge and Giveaway for June and I am still looking for Sponsors for July and August)

This is my family’s favorite banana bread recipe. It turn out great every time! I am always surprised at how fluffy it is compared to other banana breads. Another bonus is that it is so easy to make that even my 4 year old son can do it. I helped him make a few mini loaves to give his teachers as a end of the year thank you. He was so excited to give them something he made and he made sure he told them that!

What You Need:

  • 2 cups flour
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 cup (1 stick) unsalted butter, softened
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 2 eggs, at room temperature
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 3 medium-large very ripe bananas (1 cup mashed)
  • 1/2 cup sour cream
  • Bread pans
  • 3 bowls (or 2 bowls and a blender) – 1 of them large for mixing
*Preheat oven to 325º



**The trick to great banana bread is, the less stirring you do once you add the wet and dry ingredients together, the lighter and fluffier the bread will be!

Step 1: Add peeled bananas and sour cream together. I like to use the blender to do this, but you can mash them together in separate bowl, too. I also don’t wait for the frozen bananas to defrost completely before opening them. I find it less messy to set the bananas out for 20 minutes (or run under cool water for a few minutes) and then slice the banana peel a few times (the long way). The peel comes off nice and easy and the banana is still whole. Then I set the banana aside to finish thawing while I mix everything else.


Step 2: In a separate bowl combine flour, baking powder, baking soda, and salt. Stir together and set aside.


Step 3: In the large bowl cream the butter and gradually add the sugar. Add one egg at a time and beat well after adding each egg. Add the vanilla and mix.


Step 4: Add 1/3 dry mixture and 1/3 banana mixture to the large bowl. Mix well, but not too much! (Remember the trick to great banana bread. See the beginning of instructions above). Add half of the remaining dry mixture and 1/2 of the remaining banana mixture. Mix well, again. Then add the last of the dry and banana mixture and mix. If using the mixer, I do quick starts to the mixer until I do not see any more dry mixture. It should mix pretty easy.

Yes, and we must not forget about the tasting! This is his favorite part!


Step 5: Pour batter into well greased bread pans. Add mix-ins, if wanted and stir them in lightly. We love to bake them in mini loaf pans for gifting and our favorite mix-ins are chocolate chips and/or craisins.


Step 6: Bake in oven. For large bread pans around 70-75 minutes (or until you can stick a fork in it and it comes out clean). For mini bread pans, it will be around 50-55 minutes depending on your oven (or until the fork trick!). Times may vary with ovens and elevation. Once removed from oven, let bread cool 20 minutes before removing it from the pan. I find using a butter knife and going around the edge of the pan (between the bread and the pan), helps the bread come out all in one piece.




P.S. I know I’m missing a picture of the bread. I meant to take one, but I guess it never happened. I will have to snag one from the next batch we make and add it later. So, sorry! But just think “yummy good!”

I found this recipe while at a dentist appointment and flipping through a Family Fun magazine. My dentist was so nice that he made a copy of the recipe for me. What a great find!

Watermelon Jello Bowl

(Just for the record, they came up with this pose on their own. I just asked them to get near the watermelon!)

My friend made a water melon bowl for a BBQ last week and all the children there were fascinated….and I think my two ate more than anyone else, so I thought it would be fun for us to recreate it. Again, my kids were still very fascinated with it and ended up being great helpers! Fun, cheap, easy and yummy…what is not to love about it!


What You Need:

  • Watermelon – about the size of a Volleyball/Basketball
  • 3 Bowls
    • 1 - large enough to support watermelon while in the fridge
    • 1 – to hold all the watermelon once it is scooped out
    • 1- to mix the Jello in
  • Melon scooper, ice cream scooper or large spoons
  • Jello of choice – 2 large boxes
  • Measuring cups
  • Knife (the larger, the easier)
  • Plastic Wrap
  • Fruit (optional)



Send your kids away while you cut off the top of the watermelon! My little helpers hands were all over the place, so I sent them to go tickle their dad!

Scoop out the watermelon guts using a melon scooper. We don’t have one, but discovered an ice cream scooper works well as long as I didn’t care if the watermelon fruit did not looked pretty coming out. =D


You now have your Watermelon Bowl.


Get fancy and cut a V-design  on the edge of the watermelon to fix the “it’s a plain watermelon” look.


Place Watermelon Bowl inside of a large bowl to give it support while it is setting in the fridge.


Boil water for Jello and follow Jello instructions and mix up in a separate bowl. Using ice for a 1/2 cup or so of the cold water helped cool off the water quickly, so it was not too hot before adding it to the Watermelon Bowl.


Add Jello to Watermelon Bowl. Cover and let it set in the fridge. If you want to add fruit to the Jello, wait about 1 hour to an 1.5 hours then add the fruit. I was surprised at how fast the Jello set even though it seemed like it was pretty deep. It was finished chilling 5 hours after putting it in the fridge!


My kids were so excited about eating from this bowl that they went down for naps with no fights because they were told they could have it if only they took a nap! They also tell everyone that comes over about their creation. It was a lot of fun and really easy to make!


Yummy Soft Pretzels

Here is the pretzel recipe I talked about previously. I finally found and tried an alternative way to make them and it worked! No more soggy pretzels! The kids have a lot of fun rolling these out and creating. Their favorite thing to do is to create little people. And best of all, these pretzels are oh, so yummy! Here is the recipe:

  • 1 1/2 cup warm water
  • 1 1/8 teaspoon active dry yeast
  • 2 tablespoons brown sugar
  • 1 1/8 teaspoon salt
  • 1 cup bread flour
  • 3 cups regular flour

Soda Solution

  • *2 cups Warm water
  • *2 tablespoons baking soda

* Alternative: instead of using the 2 cups water and the 2 T baking soda use 1 beaten egg (or if you prefer, 2 egg whites)


  • 1/2 stick of butter (you don’t use all of it) – Sweet Butter is one of “Aunt Annie’s” secrets
  • Cinnamon/Sugar mix for cinnamon pretzels
  • Coarse salt
  • Or other favorite topping

Makes 2 pans or about 12 pretzels


Sprinkle yeast on lukewarm water in mixing bowl; stir to dissolve. Add sugar, salt and stir to dissolve; add flour and knead dough until smooth and elastic. (I had to add at least 1/4 cup more water, because it was just too dry.) Let rise at least 1/2 hour.

While dough is rising, prepare a baking soda water bath with 2 cups warm water and 2 Tbsp baking soda. Be certain to stir often (or prepare your beaten egg).

After dough has risen, pinch off bits of dough and roll into a long rope* (about 1/2 inch or less thick) and shape. This is the fun part…Let your children create whatever they can come up with; monsters, people, animals, or making a basic pretzel is just fine, too!

Pretzel people are their favorite to make and balling up the dough and carrying it around in a cup is okay, too! That kept our little friend occupied for a bit!

His man has a lizard head and snake head feet…his own idea!

Dip pretzel in soda solution and place on greased baking sheet. Soda solution works great if you are making a regular pretzel design, but if you are making animals, people and anything else, the egg works better. Alternative: Brush Pretzel with egg, using a spoon. It will give it that nice shine after you bake them.

After coated with the beaten egg and waiting to rise

Allow pretzels to rise again. (Letting them rise is best, but if you are short on time or patience, I set my oven to 200 and let them rise in there for 5 – 10 minutes) Bake in 450 oven for about 10 minutes or until golden (closer to 7 -8 minutes worked best for me). Brush with melted butter and enjoy!

Toppings: after you brush with butter try sprinkling with coarse salt. or for Auntie Anne’s famous Cinnamon Sugar, try melting a stick of butter in a shallow bowl (big enough to fit the entire pretzel) and in another shallow bowl make a mixture of cinnamon and sugar. Dip the pretzel into the butter, coating both sides generously. Then dip again into the cinnamon mixture. I use the stick of butter and brush it over the pretzels just after they get out of the oven. (I didn’t have a shallow bowl big enough to dip the pretzels into!) And it was easier for me to put a pretzel on a plate and sprinkle the salt or the cinnamon/sugar mix on the pretzel rather than dipping the pretzel into the topping. 

* The longer and thinner you can make the dough rope, the more like Auntie Anne’s they will be. The easiest way to get this is by holding the two ends of your dough rope and kind of treating it like a jump rope by swinging it. It will start to stretch out. Once the ends seem to be about the right thickness, then move your hands closer to the center and swing the middle. Swinging is much easier than trying to roll it out to get it long enough!

For us, it worked best for my son to hold one end of the “rope” while I held the other and then we would swing it. He got a little frustrated doing it on his own.
Oh, so good!
And of course, if you leave the room, tell someone that the timer is set for the pretzels that are baking in the oven or this may happen….
The picture does not do them justice. They were rock hard and dark brown!

This recipe can be found  at the CDKitchen under the name “Aunt Annie’s Soft Pretzels.” I made some of my own enhancements to the recipe!

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