Cooking on the Go
By Janet Groene, F47166
Let’s get rolling with several casserole recipes that are sure to be greeted at the table to a chorus of oohs and aahs. These recipes were chosen for one of two reasons: either they are easy to assemble in the coach, or they are ideal for preparing at home and refrigerating or freezing for a future trip.
To make the transition from refrigerator to oven to table easier, consider buying Pyrex Portables in places where kitchenware is sold. Available in hot and cold styles, these sets include a handsome, insulated carrying case, a hot or cold pack, and a real Pyrex dish that goes from refrigerator to oven to table. Also included is a snap-on plastic cover for the dish. It’s the ultimate bake-and-take set if you participate in campground potlucks, because your dish not only stays hot (or cold), it looks best in a real, re-usable dish instead of a disposable container. You can use the Pyrex Portable 9-inch-by-13-inch baking dish set for these hot dishes and carry a salad in the Pyrex Portable bowl, which comes with its own cold pack and carrying case.
Here’s another suggestion: If you ever stop for carryout before pulling into a campground, have the servers at the restaurant put the food in your Pyrex Portable and it will stay hot until you hook up the motorhome and set the table.
Instead of boiling water on your motorhome’s stove to make spaghetti, freeze this spaghetti casserole at home ahead of time and reheat it in the coach’s conventional oven or microwave oven. This recipe can be made with meat or by using a medley of onions, peppers, summer squash, and zucchini for a vegetarian main dish. Line the pan with the new Reynolds Wrap Release non-stick aluminum foil to avoid washing the dish. This recipe fills a 9-inch-by-13-inch pan and serves six; or, set out two pans to make two servings for three people, or three pans for two servings each.
8-ounce package spaghetti, cooked and drained
2 tablespoons olive oil
3-ounce wedge Parmesan cheese, grated
24-ounce container ricotta cheese or cottage cheese
1 pound ground beef or turkey, or 2 cups coarsely chopped vegetables
28-ounce jar pasta sauce
8-ounce package shredded mozzarella cheese
Cook the spaghetti, drain it, and toss it with 1 tablespoon of olive oil and half of the grated Parmesan cheese. Arrange half of the spaghetti in the casserole. Stir-fry the ground meat or vegetables in the second tablespoon of oil until the meat is done or the vegetables are crisp-tender, and drain. Dot the spaghetti with teaspoons of the ricotta or cottage cheese, spread half of the pasta sauce over the spaghetti and ricotta, top with the meat or the vegetables, and sprinkle with half of the remaining Parmesan cheese. Place the rest of the spaghetti over the meat or vegetables, cover with the remaining sauce, then top with the mozzarella cheese and the rest of the Parmesan cheese. To proceed, cover the dish with the non-stick foil and bake for 30 minutes at 375 degrees. Remove the foil cover and bake for an additional 15 minutes. Let the dish stand for 10 minutes before serving.
If you want to take this meal on the road, assemble the casserole at home, cover it, and freeze it. To serve, thaw and bake, covered with foil, until heated through; then uncover and return to the oven until the cheese topping is bubbly and golden. Individual cooking times will depend on the size of the casserole and your oven or microwave oven. Creamy coleslaw and crusty Italian bread complete the meal. Then have a tangy, fat-free Italian ice for dessert.
Servings of this recipe will look so pretty when you arrange each with a piece of chicken and a peach half smothered in flavorful rice.
6 meaty chicken thighs, skin discarded
1 tablespoon oil
1 teaspoon minced garlic
1-1/2 cups instant rice
6 peach halves, canned or fresh
1-1/2 cups water
Using a large skillet, brown the chicken thighs in hot oil with the garlic and cinnamon. Cover and braise the chicken for 15 to 20 minutes over low flame until it is done through. Sprinkle with salt and pepper. Turn off the heat and add the raw rice around the chicken, then top with the peaches, cut-side down. Add the water, stir to loosen the brown bits to mix with the rice, and bring to a boil. Cover; immediately turn off the heat; and let stand, still covered, for 5 to 10 minutes or until the rice absorbs all the liquid. This recipe serves six. Garnish the plate with scoops of cranberry relish and hot corn sticks. For dessert, serve gingersnaps with cold applesauce for dipping.
This dish is created with polenta, a cornmeal mush that’s a nice change from the usual pasta. When you’ve finished assembling this casserole, refrigerate it and forget about it until you’re ready for a delicious Italian dinner.
Cornmeal and water to make 3 cups polenta (see directions on the box)
1 teaspoon mixed Italian herbs
2 tablespoons grated Parmesan cheese
1 tablespoon butter
1 tablespoon olive oil
6 boneless, skinless chicken breast halves
8 thin slices mozzarella cheese
8 thin slices prosciutto (Italian ham)
24-ounce jar pasta sauce
Make the polenta and stir in the herbs and cheese while it’s hot. Spread it smooth and flat into a sprayed 9-inch-by-13-inch casserole. The polenta will firm up as it cools. Heat the butter and oil in a non-stick skillet and brown the chicken, sprinkling it with salt, pepper, and sage. Cover and cook over low heat until it’s done. Spread half of the pasta sauce over the polenta layer. Arrange the chicken pieces atop the polenta and sauce and drape each with a slice of prosciutto and a slice of cheese, then top with the remaining sauce. Bake the dish at 350 degrees for 35 to 45 minutes or until it’s heated through. Let stand for 5 minutes, then score with a knife into six portions and serve with a pancake turner so each diner gets a square of polenta topped with a piece of chicken draped in ham and cheese. Complete the plate with an arrangement of leafy greens drizzled with vinaigrette and a couple of crisp bread sticks.
If you plan to save this dish for a future meal, cover the assembled casserole and refrigerate or freeze. To serve, thaw completely or remove from the refrigerator 30 minutes before baking, then bake at 350 degrees for 30 minutes or until it’s heated through.
This dish can be assembled up to one day ahead, but be sure to keep it refrigerated.
1 cup fine, dry bread crumbs
1/3-cup finely chopped pecans or cashews
6 large, meaty, skinless chicken thighs
2 tablespoons butter
4 tablespoons orange juice
Sections from 2 to 3 large navel oranges
2 large sweet potatoes, scrubbed and cut into chunks
1 tablespoon orange zest
Coat a 9-inch-by-13-inch casserole dish with non-stick spray. Mix the bread crumbs, nuts, and seasonings on a paper plate. Pat the chicken pieces dry. Melt the butter in a small, non-stick skillet and add the orange juice. Dip the chicken pieces in the butter mixture, then in the crumb mixture and arrange each piece in the casserole. Surround the chicken with orange sections and the sweet potato chunks, and sprinkle with the orange zest and any leftover crumb and butter mixtures. Cover and refrigerate up to 24 hours. Do not freeze. To bake, remove the dish from the refrigerator 30 minutes ahead of time (no longer) and bake at 350 degrees for 35 to 45 minutes or until the chicken is done and the sweet potatoes are tender. This recipe calls for a green vegetable, such as steamed broccoli, and a fruity dessert, such as lemon sponge cake covered with strawberries.
Codfish Con Salsa
Choose mild, medium, or hot salsa, depending on your family’s tastes. The salsa will determine the heat of this zesty dish.
4 chunks meaty, firm fish such as cod
2 cups chunky salsa
15- or 16-ounce can black beans, drained and rinsed
2 teaspoons capers
2 tablespoons olive oil
Hot pepper sauce (optional)
Heat the oven to 425 degrees and grease a shallow casserole with non-stick spray. The dish should be large enough to hold the fish without crowding. Spoon the salsa, beans, and capers over the fish. Drizzle with olive oil and bake for 20 minutes or until the fish flakes easily. Sprinkle with parsley and serve in soup plates with torn chunks of crusty Cuban bread. Pass the pepper sauce. For dessert, top hot toaster waffles with a scoop of frozen vanilla yogurt and a drizzle of chocolate sauce.
Make a quart of oysters into a one-dish meal for six by adding potatoes, vegetables, and just enough bacon for a punch of flavor.
4 to 5 slices bacon, cut up and fried
3 to 4 medium red potatoes, scrubbed and cut into chunks
1 medium onion, diced
2 to 3 shallots, finely cut up
1 small red sweet pepper, diced
1 small green sweet pepper, diced
1 quart shucked oysters, drained
Fry the bacon in a large skillet, gradually adding the potatoes, onion, shallots, and peppers until the vegetables are limp. Potatoes need not be done through. Pour off the excess bacon fat and arrange the bacon-vegetable mixture in a 9-inch-by-13-inch casserole. (If the casserole is being made ahead of time, cover and chill before adding the oysters. They can be added any time after the potato mixture cools down.)
To proceed, cut the oysters in half if they are very large. Arrange the oysters evenly atop the potato mixture. Melt the butter in the skillet and drizzle it over the casserole. Cover with foil and bake at 350 degrees for 20 to 30 minutes. The oysters should be done through and the potatoes tender. Spoon onto plates and serve with hot corn sticks, spinach salad, and carrot cake with cream cheese frosting. You can pass salt at the table, but don’t add salt as you cook, because the bacon, oysters, and butter may contribute all the salt you need. Some people like to shake hot pepper sauce on this dish.
Spicy Jerk Marinade
Every jerk chef has a secret recipe, but here’s an insider marinade from Martin Maginley, executive chef at SuperClubs, the all-inclusive resorts that include the Breezes Curacao and the Grand Lido Negril resorts in Jamaica. Martin doesn’t specify what kind of hot peppers to use in this recipe, so use what’s available in your area. One Jamaican favorite is the bird pepper. It’s only the size of a clove of garlic but packs enormous fire.
6 whole hot peppers
3 large cloves garlic
3/4-cup chopped chives
1-1/4 teaspoons allspice
1/4-teaspoon ground cloves
3/4-cup malt vinegar
3/4-cup soy sauce
4 teaspoons salt
1 tablespoon rum
1 teaspoon chopped ginger
1 teaspoon thyme
Combine everything in a blender and liquefy, then divide into jars and refrigerate. Use this to marinate meat, fish, or poultry for at least three hours, then barbecue over a hot fire. Discard any leftover marinade that has been in contact with raw meat. By the way, the term “jerk” is thought to come from the jerking motion that cooks use to keep the meat moving over the fire so it cooks without burning.
Add some taste to your meals and save some cleanup time with these ideas.
- Make instant rice according to package directions, but replace each cup of water with 1/3-cup salsa and 2/3-cup water.
- If you want a spicy, offbeat barbecue sauce, try San-J International’s Cracked Pepper Sauce. It’s found in supermarkets with steak or barbecue sauces or with Japanese ingredients. Try mixing a tablespoon or two into mashed potatoes for a fiery finish.
- The new Reynolds Wrap Release non-stick aluminum foil, which can be used to line pans and as a cover, is a miracle innovation for cooks who hate scouring pots and pans. Even sticky buns come away from the foil completely, with all the delicious goo intact.
Books for cooks
I have long recommended that all coach cooks carry a comprehensive cookbook on board. One of my favorites is Joy of Cooking ($35, Scribner). Now the authors of this beloved classic have introduced a new series of “All About” books ($15.99 each) that are a must for cookbook collectors. Each book covers one topic. New are All About Canning & Preserving, All About Party Foods & Drinks, All About Cookies, and All About Pies & Tarts. Other volumes include recipes for grilling, pasta and noodles, chicken, salads and dressings, soups and stews, vegetarian cooking, and breakfast and brunch. They are hard-bound for a long shelf life and filled with mouthwatering illustrations and practical recipes for today’s cook. Look for the series in bookstores or from online booksellers.