Easy Backyard Eating  
By Dian Thomas

It's that time of year when meals outside taste a lot better than those prepared inside. For family it is great to at least get out in the backyard on family night and let all the family try their skills at cooking an outdoor meal.

For that experience I am going to share my favorite outdoor meal where everyone can participate. I have used this menu for groups in size from a small family up to 150 people. This is my favorite to do with a ward dinner where you can get a hot bed of coals going.

The menu is:

Meatloaf in an Onion
Garden green salad with your favorite dressing
Banana Boat

If this is your first time to do this, it is good for you to have a few dry runs if you are going to do it for a large group. For your family you can have this adventure as you are going.


This is one of my signature recipes and is wonderful for a large group. Each person makes his or her own.

1 pound lean ground beef
1 egg
1/4 cup cracker crumbs
1/4 cup tomato sauce
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/8 teaspoon pepper
1/2 teaspoon dry mustard
4 large onions, peeled and halved (see •)
18-inch heavy-duty aluminum foil

• Cut off the root at the bottom end of the onion so that removal of the center is easy. The removed center of the onion can be diced and combined with ingredients or used later.


In a 1-gallon plastic self-sealing bag, combine ground beef, egg, cracker crumbs, tomato sauce, salt, pepper and dry mustard and mix by squeezing. Set aside.

Cut onions in half horizontally and remove center part of onion, leaving a 3/4-inch-thick shell. Divide meat mixture into 4 portions and roll into balls. Place in the center of the 4 onion halves. Put onions back together. Wrap each onion in foil using the drugstore wrap. Cook over a bed of hot coals for 15 to 20 minutes per side. Serve as a lunch or dinner. Serves 4.

At Home

Cook at 350ºF in the oven for 45 to 50 minutes, or until the ground beef and onion are cooked.


18-inch heavy-duty aluminum foil
1 banana, unpeeled
Miniature marshmallows
Milk chocolate chips or broken candy bars

Foil and At Home

Cut a slit lengthwise about two-thirds of the way through the banana from the stem to the base. Fill the slit with miniature marshmallows and milk chocolate chips or broken pieces of chocolate bars. (I like to use milk chocolate chips because they melt in your mouth, in your hand—they melt everywhere.) To heat the banana boat, wrap in foil and cook on hot coals for five minutes, or until the chocolate and marshmallows have melted. Serve as a snack, a dessert or a treat around the campfire.

• If you leave the boats in the coals too long, the bananas will liquefy.

• You can also create a fruit “banana boat” by using maraschino cherries, shredded coconut, nuts and pineapple.

Dian Thomas is the author of several outdoor books including the New York Time Bestselling “Campers Bible” Roughing it Easy. Other books in her outdoor series are Recipes for Roughing it Easy and Backyard Roughing it Easy. I easy to check out Dian's books.

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