An Indoor Camping Adventure

For most of the summer, Sean talked about camping with Liam. Unfortunately time did not allow for an outdoor adventure, so Sean did the next best thing- indoor camping. He taught Liam all of the ins and outs of camping without pesky mosquitos or the atrocious heat.

After Atticus woke up from his nap, he had a great time exploring the tent with his big brother. Some day he’ll be old enough to camp with the older bears. Until then, I loved seeing him light up with excitement as he took it all in.

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For dinner, I decided that the fare needed to compliment camping. Because I’m not a huge fan of hot dogs, I decided chili would set the tone for their evening of indoor camping. Prepping for dinner can often take just as long as cooking, so on the weekends I try to capitalize on the extra time I have; opting to chop and gather ingredients while Atticus naps or plays underfoot.

It’s always important to give credit where credit is due. I love Nutmeg Nanny’s Slow Cooker Pumpkin Chili ( I’ve adapted her recipe to suit my family’s gustos (likes). Because Sean despises green bell pepper, I omit both green and red bell peppers from the recipe. And while I’m a huge fan of pumpkin, I don’t think Sean or Liam would be too keen on the idea of it in a chili dish. Instead of using a slow-cooker, I make it in a large soup pot. From start to finish, this delicious dish is ready in about 45 minutes.


  • 1 medium sweet onion, diced
  • 2 cloves of garlic, minced
  • 1 can of black beans, drained and rinsed
  • 1 can of red kidney beans, drained and rinsed
  • 1 can of fire roasted tomatoes with garlic
  • 2 cups of beef broth
  • 1 tablespoon chili powder
  • 2 teaspoons paprika
  • 1 teaspoon comino
  • 1/2 teaspoon allspice
  • 1/2 teaspoon chipotle chile powder
  • 1/4 teaspoon sea salt


  • Shredded cheddar cheese
  • Chopped cilantro
  • Corn chips

First I saute the onions on medium high for about five minutes until translucent. Then I add the garlic and saute until fragrant.

Next I add the Italian sausage and cook until brown. Then I add the beef broth, spices, beans, and tomatoes and let it come to a slow boil.

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I stir periodically as I set the table, prepare the garnishes, and pause to take in precious moments of the boys playing around  me.

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This recipe, hands down, is my favorite because of the surprising flavor the Italian sausage adds. Liam loves it because he gets to top it with corn chips. Any dish that includes chips of any kind is a winner in his book. It’s definitely proven to be a family favorite time and time again.

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What camping excursion would be complete without smores? We accomplished the same results with our gas stove and enjoyed these tasty treats together. It was a messy endeavor, but with gooey marshmallows should you expect anything different.

Sean made the H-E-B run for all of the necessary ingredients as I prepared dinner. He came back with  cinammon graham crackers, which were the perfect compliment to the milk chocolate and toasted marshmallows.

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The camping adventure continued well into the night for Sean and Liam- telling ghost stories with flashlights and making shadow puppets on the cieling. This Papa Bear orchestrated a memorable evening that will undoubtedly be one of the highlights of Liam’s summer vacation.

One thought on “An Indoor Camping Adventure

  1. Awe what fun for the guys. You certainly went all out. Hope you got to chill as well with a glass of wine and a good book or chick flick.


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