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Apr 28, 2016

Camp Out with Honey Maid

This shop has been compensated by Collective Bias, Inc. and its advertiser. All opinions are mine alone. #HoneyMaidHouse #CollectiveBias

Lately it has been difficult for me to find much time or energy to make food fun. Whenever the end of the school year gets near, I start to run out of creative steam for awhile. This goes for school lunches as well as snacks. Due to food allergies, our school allows a very limited variety of snack options (and with good reason). I really do like to find creative and fun ways to make food special because of the limitations having food allergies places on us. 

One family favorite of ours is always the holiday houses we like to make around the holidays. We find new, healthy, kid-friendly ideas that make decorating and eating them fun. This past holiday season we got super festive with our Winter Wonderland house. But who says the holidays have to have all the fun? 

In an effort to get those creative juices flowing again (at least temporarily) my little guy and I decided we would use that same holiday house idea, but create a "house" (or scene) that isn't specific to a certain time of year, but instead embodies something we love to do together as a family any time of year when the weather allows.

To start our project, we headed off to Walmart to pick up our favorite "foundation," Honey Maid graham crackers. While we were there, we brainstormed on the fly and came up with a few additional ingredients to complete the theme. I was excited to find several different flavor varieties of Honey Maid graham crackers that I had not noticed before. Per the boy's request, we picked up the Vanilla flavor this time!

If you have food allergies in your family, you will want to pick different snack options/foods that are suitable and safe for your family. All of the items we chose are dairy-free and safe for our son with milk allergy, plus foods that our oldest would enjoy as well. There are so many good snack food choices that can lend a creative take on your own scene if you just put a little imagination into it! I was lucky to have a super creative and imaginative 7-year old helping me out in that department. 

The first idea we all came up with was camping and fishing. These are some favorite family activities at our house. A couple of others that incorporated really well into the whole idea were having a fire in the fire pit and roasting marshmallows for s'mores. The entire idea came together just how I envisioned it and the boys loved the final product. It didn't last long before they wanted to dig in though! :) Here is how you can make your own Camp Out Honey Maid House!
Tip 1. Enlist an imaginative child/children to come up with something they love to do. It could be somewhere you like to visit together as a family, your dream vacation spot, or even a make believe place they dream up. 

Tip 2. Make a list of what snack foods you can use to create your scene, starting with a box of Honey Maid graham crackers. Or take a trip to your local Walmart cracker aisle and see what goodies you can find!

Camp Out - Honey Maid House {dairy-free}

  • 1 box Honey Maid graham crackers (any flavor)
  • Optional decorations:
    • pretzel sticks
    • granola
    • sandwich crackers (we used peanut butter but you could use any kind that work for you)
    • mini marshmallows
    • gummy fish or other gummy candies
    • fruit strips
    • blue prepared frosting
  • royal icing:     (this version contains egg)
    • powdered sugar
    • water
    • meringue powder 
  • string 
Step 1. Begin by mixing up your royal icing for glue. (I finally found a local baking supply shop that sells meringue powder that they informed me does not contain dairy and it did not have an allergen warning. If you can't use egg due to allergies, you can find an egg-free "glue" suggestion by visiting the link to our past holiday house above.) I used two tablespoons of powdered sugar, 1 teaspoon of meringue powder, and roughly one tablespoon of water. I wanted my glue fairly thick so you'll just want to add the water sparingly and stir until it reaches the consistency you like.

Step 2. Line a baking sheet with waxed paper or parchment paper. This will give your scene a base and confine all the goodness to that area. Plus it makes for super easy clean up! I used a dollop of my royal icing mixture under each corner of my waxed paper so that it would stick to my baking sheet and help it to not slide around while we worked on the project.

Step 3. Lay two full graham crackers side by side with the longest sides touching. Run a line of royal icing down the middle and press the two together. This will become the base for your tent once it sets. 

Step 4. Run a line of royal icing down the long edge of one full graham cracker. Place another full graham cracker with the long edge touching the icing but at a 90 degree angle (or in an L shape). You will probably need to set something on either side of the cracker that will be standing on its edge to support it until the icing hardens. I used two small plastic cups to act as bookends for a little while. While your icing is setting you can build the rest of your scene.

Create a pond. Using an offset spatula or butter knife, spread some prepared frosting in a thin layer on the waxed paper in the area that you want to be your pond. Create some "waves" by spreading and pulling the spatula or knife up in random places. Add a couple of gummy fish to stock your pond! For a fishing rod, simply tie a small piece of string around the end of a pretzel stick and prop it up! Create a border for your water's edge. We used peanut butter sandwich crackers broken in half to look like rocks along the edge. We also sporadically placed a few more "rocks" around the landscape as well. 

Ground cover. We decided to use granola since the place we typically camp out is mostly dirt and gravel and this kind of mimicked that look. You could use green frosting for grass, chocolate crispy rice cereal for dirt and rocks, or any other cereal or snack that suits you. Spread an even layer of your choice over the rest of the baking sheet.

Fire pit, fire and roasting marshmallows. For the area surrounding our fire, we decided to use chocolate crispy rice cereal to look like dirt. Create a small area for your base. Place sandwich cookies around the area to look like rocks for seating. Break several pretzel sticks into small pieces and arrange it to look like a stack of firewood. We used a bit of royal icing on each pretzel piece before laying it across another so they would hold together. For the flames, cut small pieces off of red, orange and yellow gummy candies. Stick the small pieces to each other by placing the cut sides next to each other. The gummy will act as its own glue and the pieces will hold together. I cut our gummies in small triangular pieces so they would form a peak once stuck together and look like flames. For the roasting marshmallows, simply place a couple of mini marshmallows on the end of some pretzel sticks! 

Set up your tent. Once your royal icing on the Honey Maid graham crackers has set, place the "L" shaped piece down on the flat piece to form a triangular hole in the middle. Run a bead of icing along the flat piece where the "L" shaped piece sits to hold it in place. Set your tent in your scene wherever you have some room. To add a sleeping bag, roll up a fruit strip and tie a small piece of string around to hold it in place. We added two sleeping bags, one flat inside the tent and the other outside in case our campers get cold! :) 

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