Robin Hood Lunch

So for the past couple of years I’ve gotten groups of family and friends together to go on day trips. We’ll load a bunch of people into my family’s 15 passenger van and head out. I like to keep the adventures fairly simple, coordinating dates with all the adult schedules from multiple families is complicated enough! This is where the Robin Hood lunch comes in.

The Robin Hood Lunch is tradition around here, made up by my older sister years ago. We’ve introduced tons of my friends to the concept and while the idea of ripping chunks of French bread sounds appealing, the lack of mayonnaise was what really got them.

Let me tell you the basics of a Robin Hood Lunch…. French bread (unsliced), deli meat of choice, cheese slices of choice and juice. Simple? Yes. Basically you rip off hunks of bread, tear the bread open like a hot dog bun, slap on some meat, then a piece of cheese. Fold. Eat. No plates. No knives. No condiments. No posh tablecloth…

I was tired of soggy sandwiches, the hours of work before, the trash, cleaning everything up afterwards. Now we use it almost EVERY time we go out on day trips. It is no mess, little effort and not too expensive.

Here’s the “recipe”

Robin Hood Lunch
French Bread (around 4 servings)
Deli Meat (4 oz per person – ish)
Pre-sliced Cheese (cheddar, Provolone and Pepper Jack are favorites around here)
Juice of some kind

For my best friends, who are all Kombucha drinkers, that is our choice

For my family: they usually prefer the Naked Blue Machine Smoothie

For large groups: Capri Sun is the best because no mess.

Fruit and Veg (optional). I like to bring along snap peas, carrots, grapes or strawberries.
Chips, cookies, candy and snacks
Case of water

When we go as a large group, everyone will pitch in to bring enough food. I’ll make sure to bring meat, cheese and bread and people will bring the rest. We haven’t starved yet!

A couple variations?

The Communal Salad. That’s right. We’re not germaphobes here… My best friend and I literally threw together a spinach salad, grabbed some dressing and some plastic forks and ta-da! Salad!

The Costco version. Pictured below…. This one was delicious and equally as easy. It was a one stop meal on our way to the beach.



Chef Becky’s Butternut Squash Soup

Another Sno-Isle recipe. Perhaps our most made soup this year. It is easy, can be made vegetarian, gluten free and dairy free and taste just as good. It is delicious served with biscuits or sandwiches or just by itself in a mug.

Chef Becky’s Butternut Squash Soup
2 inch piece of ginger, peeled and thinly sliced
1 pt. chicken stock (or vegetable stock)
3 oz butter
1 lb onion, medium dice
3 cloves garlic, minced
3 quarts chicken stock
8 lbs butternut squash (As Purchased)
1 pt. heavy cream, hot (or two cans coconut milk)
salt, white pepper, to taste
Worcestershire sauce, to taste

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Cut squash in half lengthwise, remove seeds, prick holes in the peel, drizzle with oil and salt and pepper. Place cut side down on a foil or parchment lined pan. Roast for about 30 minutes or until soft enough to scoop out the flesh from peel.
Heat the pint of stock to a boil, remove from heat and add sliced ginger. Let steep for 30 minutes. Strain ginger and discard, but save the ginger tea.
In a medium stockpot over medium heat, melt butter. Add onions and garlic and sweat until soft. Do not brown. Scoop the flesh of the squash out of the peel and add to the stockpot along with the rest of the stock. Simmer until all the vegetable are tender enough to puree easily in the blender.
In small batches puree the soup. Return to heat and add the ginger infused stock, heated cream (or coconut milk/cream). Adjust seasoning with salt, white pepper and Worcestershire sauce.

Blueberry Lemon Cake

Six inch cakes are by far my favorite to make. Each cake turns out to be adorable, classy and super impressive. It is just the right size to give away to people with a leftover layer (because four layers looks ridiculous), we (my siblings and I) still get to try the cake. This cake was for my sister’s friend. It turned out quite well and was easy to make. I won’t go into details about the chocolate cake we botched at the same time… I used Sally’s Baking Addiction’s recipe and it is a delicious recipe, the slightly dry crumb of the cake matched with the creamy and tangy frosting and the fresh blueberries was a delicious combination. I will be making this cake again for sure!



Blueberry Lemon Cake with Cream Cheese Frosting

1 cup butter, softened
1 1/4 cups sugar
1/2 cup brown sugar, packed
4 large eggs, at room temperature
1 tablespoon vanilla
3 cups all-purpose four, sifted
1 tablespoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 cup buttermilk
1-2 tablespoons lemon zest
Juice from 3 medium lemons (around 6 tablespoons)
1 1/2 cups fresh blueberries tossed in 1 tablespoon flour
8 ounces cream cheese, softened
1/2 cup butter, soften
3 1/2 cups powdered sugar
1-2 tablespoons milk
1 teaspoon vanilla

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Grease and flour three 9″ cake pans or four 6″ cake pans. I prefer to grease and line the bottom with parchment.
Beat butter and granulated and brown sugars until creamed, about 2-3 minutes. Add eggs and vanilla. Scrape sides and bottom and sides as needed. Set aside.
Sift together flour baking powder and salt. Add dry to wet ingredients. add buttermilk, lemon zest and lemon juice. Fold in blueberries.
Divide into cake pans and bake. Original recipe said between 21-26 minutes, mine took more like 30+ minutes.
Beat cream cheese and butter until smooth and creamy. add vanilla. Alternate adding milk and powdered sugar until frosting is the right consistency.
Frost cake and garnish with additional blueberries or lemon as desired. Refrigerate until served.



These have long been a favorite in my family. They’re super easy to make and go over really well wherever they’re taken. Just last night, I did a triple recipe in a 3/4 sheet pan for a Civil Air Patrol meeting. I’ve taken these bars to countess CAP events over the past decade.



1 cup sugar
1 cup light corn syrup
1 cup smooth peanut butter
6 cups Rice Krispies
1 1/2 cups chocolate chips
1 package butterscotch chips

Bring sugar and corn syrup to a boil. Remove from heat. Stir in peanut butter. Stir in Rice Krispies.
Press lightly into greased 9×13″ pan.
Melt chocolates together and spread on top.
Do not refrigerate. Let chocolate set at room temperature.

Jamaica Cake (Banana and Pineapple)



Jamaica Cake 
2 cups sugar
1 1/2 cups vegetable oil
1 teaspoon vanilla
3 eggs
20 oz crushed pineapple with juice
3 cups all-purpose flour
1 1/2 cups pecans, chopped
1 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon baking soda
2 bananas, in small dice
Powdered sugar

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Grease a 9″x13″ pan.
Mix oil and sugar until well combined. Add eggs and vanilla. Stir in the entire contents of the pineapple can.
Combine dry ingredients, including pecans. Mix with liquids. Fold in bananas, try not to mash as much as possible.
Pour into prepared pan. Bake for 50-60 minutes or until golden brown and toothpick comes out clean. Top with a good coating of powdered sugar.

Crispy Breakfast Potatoes

So, yeah. I love crispy potatoes and these are pretty darn near perfect. This recipe is for 1 serving.


Crispy Breakfast Potatoes

1 medium red potato
2-3 teaspoons butter
Salt and pepper
Wash potato, stab it a couple times. Wrap in a wet paper towel. Microwave for 2-3 minutes or until almost cooked. Cut into small cubes.
Heat a pan on high and add about a teaspoon of butter. Salt and pepper the potatoes. Remember potatoes need a lot of salt for flavor. When butter is completely melted and pan is HOT, add potatoes. They should start sizzling. If the pan is too hot, the potatoes will begin to burn. After about a minute, gently toss the potatoes. Continue to cook over high heat tossing potatoes occasionally. When the butter is completely absorbed, add another teaspoon and continue to cook until golden brown and crispy.

Chocolate Muffins

So I was in the mood to bake. Chocolate muffins sounded wonderful and just challenging enough to cure my baking mood. The recipe that had the best pictures and best looking recipe was from Bright Eye Baker. Elsa and I started by putting on aprons. She has a darling little apron with with her little checkered shirt and braided pigtails. She did a great job of lining all the muffin pans with liners, stirring together the dry ingredients and adding them to the mixer and adding chocolate chunks (one for the batter, one for her mouth, one for the batter…)

Anyway, my favorite way to eat these is to warm them slightly in the microwave so the chocolate chunks melt, then eat with fresh strawberries and milk. Delicious!



Chocolate Muffins

8 1/2 ounces (or 2 level cups) all-purpose flour
3 1/2 ounces (or 1 level cup) cocoa powder
2 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
2 eggs plus 1 egg yolk
8 3/4 ounces (1 1/4 cups) sugar
1/2 cup oil
12 3/4 ounces (1 1/2 cups) sour cream
1 tablespoon vanilla
10 1/2 ounces chocolate, whatever kind floats your boat. I did chocolate chunks…

Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Grease or line muffin pan.
Whisk together flour, cocoa, baking powder, baking soda and salt.
In the bowl of a mixer, beat eggs. Slowly add sugar while beating and continue to beat until the mixture is pale and thickened.
Beat in the oil until fully incorporated. Add sour cream and vanilla.
Add dry ingredients and mix until just combined. Add about 8 ounces of chocolate or if you’re me, add more. Taste the batter. It’s amazing.
Scoop into prepared muffin cups. Top with remaining chocolate chunks, M&Ms, sugar sprinkles or whatever you want.
Bake muffins for 10 minutes, then reduce heat to 350 degrees and bake for another 5-10 minutes or until a toothpick comes out clean. Cool completely.

Yield: 12 (I got around 18 muffins)


Mushroom and Chicken Risotto

It wasn’t perfect texture wise. At least I think. I’ve never had risotto other then the stuff I’ve made. It was delicious, though!


Mushroom and Chicken Risotto

1 lb mushrooms, sliced
2 cloves garlic, minced
1/2 onion or shallot, small dice (I didn’t have onions, so I used Tastefully Simple Onion Onion blend )
6 tablespoons butter, divided
2 cups arborio rice
6-8 cups chicken stock, simmering
1/2-3/4 lb chicken breasts
1/4 cup cooking sherry (or white wine)
Salt and Pepper
Parmesan cheese (to taste, but at least 1/2 cup)
Fresh parsley for garnish

Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Season chicken with salt and pepper and bake until done. Shred into coarse bite-sized pieces with two forks. Keep warm.
Melt 3 tablespoons butter in a decent sized pot. Add onions and garlic and saute until aromatic. Add rice and stir to coat rice in remaining butter. Add sherry or wine. Stir and let cook off. Add chicken stock one ladle at a time. The mixture should simmering gently. Wait for chicken broth to be absorbed before adding another ladle full.Should take about 25-30 minutes to cook the rice this way. You may use all the broth or you could need to supplement with water or more broth.
Meanwhile, melt the remaining butter and cook mushrooms with salt and pepper to taste. I like my mushrooms more on the caramelized side, so I let them cook for quite a bit.
When rice is cooked, add cooked chicken and mushrooms. Stir in 1/2 cup of grated Parmesan cheese. Season to taste with additional salt and pepper. Serve immediately with parsley garnish and more cheese if desired.


Cascade Falcon XX

I had intended on writing and posting this sometime in September or October, which would have almost been reasonable. To be honest, I couldn’t really think about it until now, which is about the time I usually get excited for the next Cascade Falcon… So I’m writing this now about one of last summer’s camps.

13Custom aprons

Customized Aprons

10 days of cooking and serving a total of 3960 individual meals. All done in the most tiny and pathetic military kitchen I’ve ever seen, complete with no hand-washing sink, no air conditioning and no indoor dry pantry. Yup, it pretty much sucks. And do I get paid? Nope, it is all volunteer work. I absolutely love it. This last year was my fourth year working at Civil Air Patrol‘s Cascade Falcon Encampment. I went from an extra set of hands to leading the kitchen to planning and ordering all the food.

14One of our guidons

DFAC stands for Dining Facility

Let’s start at the beginning…


For the two months leading up to the activity, I spent a good deal of time coming up with a menu that was simple enough to work in the pathetically small kitchen I knew I was working in and with the limited equipment we had available to us. At the same time I knew for that I needed something that would push me and challenge my cooking and leadership skills and fit in my budget.


Example menu. Excel became my best friend.

My sister (12) and I traveled around town to price items and research serving sizes to minimize waste and ensure that we would have enough food. It was a fun adventure, from sneaking into Costco with Mom’s card to price things, to snacking on my favorite Asian candy, Milkitas.

From the pictures I was able to calculate how many bags I would need to get and the price per serving. Lots of the time I would have to recalculate everything to do a larger or smaller portion.



My price shopping buddy


Lynnwood Business Costco

Next came the master shopping list, divided into multiple categories to include different deliveries and stores. This was a lot harder then it seems. I doubted my calculations for many things, but the one that sticks in my mind the most was the sliced cheese. Go through it with me:

Sliced cheese:

2 (meals) x 70(servings) x 1 (slice per meal)= 140

2 (meals) x 180(servings) x 2 (slices per meal) = 720

Means I need 860 slices of cheese. Each package of cheese has 30 slices, so 860/30= 28.667. I think I did the math six or seven times to get a proper answer. Even then, I bought 30 packages to have extra on hand. Imagine doing that for almost every single ingredient and that was my life for a few days.



Hotel pan sizing chart

After the list was completed, I typed out directions for each meal and printed out two notebooks. One notebook had all the directions, recipes and the menu in it and was colorful for my staff to look at and use. My version had all the allergy information, shopping lists, pricing and leadership ideas. This year I even found a chart with hotel pan sizes which helped eliminate the running back and forth with incorrect pans.

Throughout the planning from mid June to the start of encampment (August 12, for staff training) I emailed back and forth with my staff of three seniors members and five cadets getting their input and ideas.

The Facilities:

We stayed in temporary WWII barracks on Fort Lewis. We were the second to last group before all the building were to be demolished, so that right there should give you an idea for what we were working in. Everything was old. The kitchen has five different sets of fridges and freezers, no hand washing sink and has an outdoor pantry. We weren’t allowed to use the kitchen range because it was fragile or something, it was a relatively new piece of equipment.

Disposable packed oven

Disposable pan packed oven

16working the griddle

Sauteing on the flat top

Almost every meal we have both ovens completely filled. Buying disposable pans is the BEST item you can buy when cooking for 200 people. We took turns manning the griddle because it was everyone’s favorite. My cadet got really good at scrambled eggs and sauteéd vegetables.


Did I mention there was no air conditioning in the DFAC? Yeah, well that in the summer, the three refrigerator units and the ovens all made for a rather miserably hot kitchen. Our hottest temperature in the DFAC was 105 degrees. Needless to say we left the dishes and ditched the kitchen as soon as we could and limited our work time to 15-30 minutes on and then 10 minutes off with plenty of water and Gatorade. Oh, and watermelon, Otter Pops and ice cream sandwiches. Our back porch became a life saver with camp chairs and the most comfortable cement ever. More on that later…

My Team:

Full staff

Full staff picture

All the cooks. We had an additional two who did all my errands, cleaned and did whatever I needed done, but usually stayed out of the way during the cooking. These cadets worked incredibly hard. They worked an average of 10 hours a day, had 2.5 hours of break (although 1 hour included team sports). Some worked longer, coming in early with me and staying until I left. Can you believe that theses guys get to say they’ve cooked for 170 people for a week? I don’t know many teenagers who could pull that off.

I was lucky enough to have a fellow senior member who is also my best friend, Gracie Hacking, work along side me. Although I worked her hard and we had a few differences (she didn’t exactly enjoy the 10 days…), we’re still good friends. She worked hard, knowing her way around the kitchen.

I had a really good team of cadets, two officers and three NCOs. Lt. Vangelder took charge of everything front of the house (or the actual dining room) from taking care of cadets who needed things to cleaning spills, refilling the salad bar and managing our 4 KPs (kitchen patrol cadets who came before every meal). Lt. West managed everything kitchen related, usually with me. She did a wonderful job, she was very organized, efficient and a good cook. She was always high energy and helped the rest of the team keep on track.

11Fun work

Homemade potato salad

The other person I could not have done the activity without was Justin Nolet. He always arrived early to the kitchen. Like, how early I usually went in. When he didn’t have a job, he stood by me and took over whatever I was doing or waited until I gave him a job. He was honest with me. He told me when I was too tough on someone, when I made mistakes, when I fixed problems. He kept me on track during the week. Nolet usually stayed until the lights went out and I locked the doors and never complained about any of the work we asked him to do. I appreciated his efforts and attitude the entire time.

We had problems in the kitchen. We always do. One cadet refused to drink water, one could not figure out how to do anything, my OIC got overly excited… It’s always a challenge to deal with, but we made it work.

The Deliveries:

Costco made two deliveries over the course of the 1.5 weeks we were there. The first of our deliveries was scheduled to get to our tiny little DFAC the day after we arrived. But it didn’t. One of my amazing grocery shoppers did some calling and they had lost our order. She did her magic and the order was placed again and would be delivered the next morning at 8am. The same time I was supposed to teach a class, right after a breakfast service.

My morning started with a massive thunderstorm followed by the Costco truck getting to the kitchen at the same time I was supposed to give instructions on how I needed the students to run through the dining room. Let’s just say it was the fastest I’ve probably ever talked before running out to check through the order.

The driver dropped off pallet after pallet of food and paper products. It was like a reality check to see all the food. We really were going to feed 170 people.


Our Costco delivery driver looked like Simon Pegg. I didn’t tell him that. He was incredibly patient with us as we tried to get more organized and inventory all the product.

Cooking and Leadership:

The kitchen had me as as the director. Under me, I had one cadet officer in charge (OIC) who had done a year of preparation for this position, but two officers.  Since both were experienced, I was able to split the load my officer in charge had into two officers in charge. One to manage the dining room and one to manage the kitchen. It worked brilliantly and gave both more of a leadership opportunity working and communicating with each other, me and the rest of the staff.

Pancake maker

Safety basics were taught, but even so, we still had cuts and burns. Knife skills were improved, although slow. Everyone learned how to read directions on packaging or recipes. The more experienced staff got hands on experience in troubleshooting and problem solving.


One of many after action meetings

We had after-action meetings for almost every single meal. Good changes were made or celebrations over a smooth meal service and we had fun getting to know each other. Sometimes we got personal and brought up issues with the staff, which is always the hardest subjects to discuss. Most of the time if my staff had problems with each other, we would discuss it one on one on the back porch before talking with the “problem” cadet(s). I had a hard time dealing with the aspect of having a team a couple years ago, but it was a little easier this year. Some after actions happened as we ate our meals, other times on the back porch during breaks or sometimes just before the next meal’s preparations were made.

17Stacking plates

Stacking the plates this way was one of the mid-course adjustments we made. Service became slow trying to separate each rough cut edged plate. Stacking them this way helped speed things up and kept track of how many people we had served. Who ever had spare minutes before or during meal service would stack plates in stacks of 25.

The line

Students waiting for the meal to start

We got pretty good at getting everyone fed in a reasonable amount of time and for the first year since I’ve been doing it, my staff gave more even servings of food.

Breaks from the Kitchen:

We got breaks. Occasionally. My team participated in team sports every night and had a blast playing with the rest of the students and cadre. We also got to go on tours on Fort Lewis, including exploring blackhawks and chinooks. We also got to go to the confidence and obstacle courses.

Convoy of vans

Convoy of CAP vans

Every CAP van is given a name, this year is was super heroes. Our official van was Alfred, Batman’s butler. Since we ran the kitchen, we changed the name with the picture of Alfred to Alfredo. More kitchen related and funny!

The rest of the time, it was hanging out around the quad. Watching the students drilling, talking with the cadre, harassing the logistics team and taking naps (which we did the most of). Like I said before, that cement on the back porch is really comfortable.


The majority of the DFAC team napping


Every day during classes (break time for the cadre), we would have a dozen or more cadets come up to the DFAC. Mostly, they were looking for food, PJ&J, leftover pizza or whatever leftovers we had around, Gatorade and of course chocolate milk. I learned quickly to keep leftovers for at least a day and someone would usually eat it.

20The additional meal

My kitchen mice. 😀

I loved having these guys in my dining room. They energized my staff and loved us. We even got given a new salute as you can see some of the cadets doing in the picture. They were always courteous, cleaned up after themselves and those who had prior DFAC experience would don an apron or a chefs coat that didn’t belong to them and help out. They gave my staff a break by doing dishes, making Gatorade and helping with whatever else was asked of them.

And they had fun doing it. They’d sing, laugh, tell jokes, vent a little, get advice from each other AND get the work done!

18Additional help

Cadre helping out during their breaks

Pack Up, Cleanup and Saying Goodbye:

This year, I had a decent plan for cleaning the kitchen that I figured wouldn’t work. The day before the encampment ended, we served a normal breakfast and for lunch, filed everyone through to get food and had them eat outside, the cadets loved it because it was different and got them out of the hot DFAC and we loved it because it meant I could close off the dining room completely. We consolidated the fridges and freezers and pushed everything towards the kitchen. Every year there is a banquet the night before the activity ends, so by the time we got to the banquet, the entire dining room was cleaned, mopped, waxed and rearranged to the original set up. We basically finished cleaning half the building a day early! 11934977_717289315042129_4192155956865975521_nAfter attending the graduation ceremony, we got back and finished cleaning the kitchen. I am quite proud of how fast my team cleaned and how sparkly new it looked when we left. Our building manager, Bill, who had been quite hard to please in the past, apparently appreciated the job we did! That culinary cleaning I learned in school sure came in handy!


After a celebratory dinner out with most of the staff from the entire encampment, I got home with my siblings, relieved the week was over, but looking forward to doing the same thing next year!

Homemade Samoas

So, I needed to cook. I had bought the ingredients for this recipe (originally from Just A Taste) last weekend. Okay, that’s not quite true. The ingredients I had bought were to make coconut macaroons (I think I’m craving coconut), but when a package from home had homemade caramels in it, I knew I had to try this recipe. Basically, I think I have a new favorite cookie recipe. I used leftover holiday caramels and they worked perfectly and eliminated the artificial flavor in store-bought caramels. Mine turned out a similar size to doughnuts, but I used makeshift cookie cutters, so at least they were all the same size. I didn’t quite have enough caramel, so I have some leftover shortbread cookies to do something else with. I’ve also been having a blast learning how to take better pictures.  I absolutely love the lighting and backdrop in my brother and his wife’s house. Any time from about 9-2ish has great lighting on their dining room table. I really should take advantage of this for the remaining two months I’m living here…







Homemade Samoas
For Cookies:
1 cup butter, softened
1/2 cup sugar
2 cups flour
1/4 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
2 tablespoons half and half (or milk)
1/2 teaspoon vanilla
For Topping:
3 cups coconut (shredded, sweetened)
15 ounces caramels (I used leftover homemade ones from Christmas)
3 tablespoons milk (plus additional milk or half and half)
1/4 teaspoon of salt
Chocolate (dark was recommended, but whatever you want)

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Line baking sheets with parchment paper.

Cream butter and sugar together. Combine flour, baking powder and salt and add to creamed mixture in two or three increments. Add milk and vanilla and blend until combined. Wrap dough in plastic wrap and press into a disk. Refrigerate for at least 30 minutes.

Toast coconut in the oven, stirring literally every 2 minutes at first and then every minute for about 10 minutes or until crispy and golden brown. Dump out on parchment paper to cool and stop cooking process. Transfer to bowl once cooled.

Roll out cold dough to 1/8 inch and cut out doughnut style, I didn’t have my nice cookie cutter set, so I had to find makeshift cookie cutters… Bake for 10 minutes or until pale golden brown. Cool completely. Seriously, this makes a difference because the cookies won’t fall apart.

Melt caramels in a double boiler with half and half and salt until completely melted. Stir all but about 1/4 cup into the coconut and stir.

Spoon cookies with remaining caramel sauce. If caramel sets too much, return to heat and add a little more milk or cream. With a spoon or your fingers (fingers are easier, but stickier), spread the coconut over the caramel and press down until evenly distributed. Let set for about 30 minutes.

Melt chocolate. Dip the bottom of the cookies in the chocolate and place them on wax paper-lined baking sheets. Transfer leftover chocolate into a Ziploc bag and drizzle chocolate over the top of the cookies. Let set until chocolate hardens (haha, this takes FOREVER!!).