Cooking on the Go
By Janet Groene, F47166
Ready-mix convenience foods are always a plus for cooks who don’t want to spend a lot of time in the kitchen. But making your own mixes might be more economical, and you can prepare them in quantities that are right for your needs, and know that they are fresh. Make them more healthful, too, by reducing the salt and sugar used, or by using whole wheat flour instead of white. Make up the mixtures at home when you have time, and they can be completed on the road quickly.
Here are several new, offbeat, homemade mixes to try on your next trip.
Hot Posset Mix
In olden times, warming possets were given to people who were rundown or ill. This mix makes a luscious hot toddy for a cold evening.
1-2/3 cups nonfat dry milk
3/4-cup malted milk powder
1/3-cup brown sugar, packed
Later you’ll need:
Rum or brandy (optional)
Put the dry ingredients in a sealable plastic bag, mix well, and keep the packets in a cool, dark place for up to two weeks. To complete the drink, fill one-third of a mug with the dry mix. Add some boiling water, stirring well to make a paste; then continue to fill the cup with the boiling water while stirring. A shot of rum or brandy may be added just before serving. Top with a dollop of whipped cream and a sprinkle of nutmeg, if you like.
Janet’s Ohio River Chili Mix
This mix is inspired by Cincinnati-style chili, but I won’t call it that, because every Cincinnati cook has a cherished recipe that he or she swears is the real thing. Make a big batch of this mixture and keep it well-sealed. This mix also makes a great gift for neighboring campers. When making the chili, you’ll need 2 heaping tablespoons of this mixture for each pound of lean ground beef used.
1 cup chili powder
1 cup brown sugar, packed
1/3-cup cocoa powder (unsweetened)
1 tablespoon ground black pepper
Mix everything together well and keep in a tightly lidded container in the refrigerator or another cool spot. To complete the chili, follow the recipe below:
1 pound lean ground beef
1 tablespoon cooking oil
1 medium onion, diced
1 medium green bell pepper, diced
1 medium red sweet pepper, diced
2 16-ounce cans diced tomatoes with juice
2 heaping tablespoons Janet’s Ohio River Chili Mix
Brown the ground beef in the hot oil, gradually stirring in the vegetables until they are crisp-tender. Add the tomatoes. Stir in the chili mix; cover; and simmer over low heat until the vegetables are tender. Spoon over cooked, hot spaghetti or serve in bowls with hot bread, bread sticks, or cornbread on the side. This recipe makes four servings.
Variations: Pack more vegetables into the chili by adding a diced carrot, two diced ribs of celery, and/or a cup of grated cabbage at the same time you add the onion and peppers.
Roll With The Brunch,Master Mix
Don’t try to make these breakfast rolls on mornings when you want to leave the campground early, because they take some time to prepare. However, they are great to whip up when you get up early and the rest of the gang wants to stay in bed longer. The entire process takes approximately two hours. This recipe makes enough dough for four big batches of steamy, fragrant rolls for breakfast.
Combine the dry ingredients, mix well, and divide into sealable plastic bags, approximately 4 cups of mix per bag. It can be kept in the refrigerator for up to three weeks. Don’t be tempted to add the yeast to the mix. It may react with other ingredients and lose its oomph.
10 cups regular or better-for-bread flour
4 cups rolled oats
2 cups whole-wheat flour
1 cup sugar
1 tablespoon salt
4 teaspoons cinnamon
To complete rolls:
1-1/4 cups water
1 packet yeast
4 cups roll mix
3 tablespoons cooking oil
1/3-cup honey or maple syrup
Put the water in a large bowl; sprinkle with the yeast; and let stand for 5 minutes. With a wooden spoon, stir in the roll mixture, oil, honey, and egg. Knead the dough on floured paper towels, adding more flour if necessary, until the dough is smooth and stretchy. Place the dough in a greased 9-inch-by-13-inch baking pan and allow it to rise for 30 minutes in a warm place. Turn the dough out of the pan and back onto the paper towels. Roll the dough into a log, and cut it into 12 to 16 equal chunks. Respray the baking pan if necessary and arrange the pieces of dough in four rows of three or four rolls. Let the dough rise for another 30 minutes, and then bake the rolls at 375 degrees for approximately 40 minutes or until they are golden brown and sound hollow when tapped. Let cool for 10 minutes, and then slather with frosting if desired. Serve with butter.
Variations to this recipe are:
- Instead of using 1-1/4 cups of water, mash a banana into a two-cup measure and add enough water to bring it up to the 1-1/4-cup mark. Knead in 1/2-cup of chopped pecans when shaping the dough. This is especially good with vanilla frosting.
- After allowing the dough to rise the first time, knead in 1/2-cup each of chocolate chips and dried cranberries. Proceed with the rest of the directions. This variation is good with cherry- or strawberry-flavored frosting.
- Use a baby food jar of strained peaches and the juice from canned peaches instead of the water to measure a total of 1-1/4 cups. After the rolls are cut and arranged, press a well-drained peach slice into each. Let the dough rise and bake as directed.
- Before putting the individual rolls into the pan to rise a second time, sprinkle the bottom of the pan with 1 cup of brown sugar and 1 cup of chopped walnuts. Place the rolls in the pan, pressing them gently into the bottom. When the rolls have finished baking, carefully flip the hot pan onto a tray so the hot brown sugar mixture is on top. To ensure that the rolls come out with all the topping intact, line the pan first with nonstick aluminum foil; coat with a nonstick spray; add the brown sugar and walnuts; and proceed as above. For added stickiness, drizzle maple syrup over the rolls before serving.
- To make hot rolls for dinner that aren’t as sweet, use 1-1/2 cups water and omit the honey or maple syrup.
This mixture will stay crisp for up to a week in the refrigerator if the vegetables are first washed, drained, and dried thoroughly. Seal individual batches in plastic bags, along with a clean paper towel to absorb excess moisture. If you have leftover mixture at the end of the week, saute it in a little oil and mix it with casseroles, or freeze it for future use.
2 large green bell peppers, diced
2 large red sweet peppers, diced
2 large yellow sweet peppers, diced
1 large sweet, white onion (Texas Sweet or Vidalia), diced
1 bunch celery, diced
2 tablespoons lemon or lime juice, preferably fresh
Wash, dry, and cut up vegetables, and place them in a large sealable plastic bag. Add the lemon juice; seal the bag; and toss to mix thoroughly. Drain in a colander. This recipe makes approximately 10 cups of mix. Seal the mix in plastic bags according to your family’s size, figuring 1/2-cup per person per serving. Following are several ways to use the mix, but even if you do nothing more than sprinkle it over torn lettuce, chopping all the vegetables in one session is a tremendous time-saver.
- Make pasta salad by adding 2 cups of the salad mixture to 8 ounces of cooked pasta and tossing with Italian dressing to taste. A can of solid-pack albacore tuna or chicken, drained, and/or a cup of thawed peas can be added. Serve right after preparing or chill first if preferred. Serves four.
- Whisk together 1/2-cup each of sour cream or yogurt and mayonnaise, and mix with a 10-ounce bag of thawed peas and two cups of the salad mix. Spoon on lettuce cups. Serves six.
- Mix 1 cup of salad mix and 2 teaspoons of seasoned salt per pound of lean ground beef. Shape into patties and grill just until the beef is done and vegetables are crisp-tender. Each pound of meat makes four to six hamburger patties.
- Allow an 8-ounce brick of cream cheese to soften at room temperature and stir in a cup of the salad mix. Spread on flour tortillas; roll up; wrap; and chill. When it’s time to eat, unwrap, slice, and serve plain or with a soy sauce dip.
- To make chunky-crunchy macaroni and cheese, prepare the macaroni and cheese according to package directions and stir in a cup of salad mix just before serving.
This recipe makes enough mix for four batches of four servings each, so divide the mix into four sealable plastic bags. Inch-thick fillets of cod or another firm, white fish are ideal when using this mix.
16-ounce box round buttery crackers, crushed
1 tablespoon dried thyme
1 tablespoon dried parsley
1 tablespoon ground pepper
1/2-ounce packet Butter Buds powder mix
Smash the crackers in a food processor, or place them in a plastic bag and work them until they are coarsely crushed. The crumbs need not be fine or uniform. Mix all dry ingredients together well and keep in a tightly sealed container or plastic bag in the refrigerator.
For quick baked fish, melt a stick of butter with 2 tablespoons of olive oil in an 8-inch baking pan and turn the pan to coat. Pour out and save the excess butter mixture in a container. Cover the bottom of the pan with an even layer of the cracker mixture; top with four chunks of fish; and top with another layer of the cracker mixture. Drizzle with the reserved butter and oil and bake at 375 degrees for approximately 20 minutes or until the fish is done and the cracker mixture is golden brown. This recipe makes four servings.
Pasta Masta Mix
Grating or shredding Parmesan or Romano cheese is a lot of work, but there is no substitute for fresh cheese. So before you hit the road, prepare the cheese in a food processor. This recipe makes enough mix for four batches of 4 to 6 servings each. Mix it up, seal it in individual bags, and keep it refrigerated for up to one month.
1 pound block Parmesan or Romano cheese (or 4 wedges, 4 ounces each)
1 tablespoon coarsely ground pepper
4 tablespoons dried parsley
2 tablespoons dried oregano, crumbled
2 tablespoons dried basil, crumbled
Grate the cheese and toss it lightly in a bowl with the other ingredients. Divide equally into four bags; seal; and refrigerate.
To proceed, cook 16 ounces of spaghetti or linguini according to package directions. Drain, saving some of the cooking water. Add 1 tablespoon olive oil to the hot pasta; toss; then add one bag of the cheese mix and one of the following completers. Add some of the hot water, if necessary, to achieve the desired moistness. Adjust seasonings and serve. You may not need additional salt if you cooked the pasta in salted water. The cheese is also salty.
Try these quick pasta-topper recipes to add more pizzazz to your spaghetti dish.
- In a tablespoon of olive oil, saute a small can of chunk ham, broken up; a diced onion; 2 cloves of garlic, minced; and one pound of asparagus, trimmed and cut into inch-long pieces. Cook, while stirring, just until the asparagus is crisp-tender.
- Seed and dice 2 or 3 fresh tomatoes. Saute a diced bell pepper and a diced red sweet pepper in a tablespoon of hot olive oil until they are crisp-tender, and add the tomatoes just to heat through.
- While cooking the pasta, hard-boil two eggs in the same pot; peel; and chop. In a skillet with a tablespoon of oil, saute a small, diced onion with a 10-ounce package of chopped spinach, thawed and squeezed dry. When the onion is translucent, stir in the chopped eggs and stir-fry just until everything is heated through.
- Cut a pound of chicken livers into bite-sized pieces. Slice two strips of bacon into half-inch pieces. Saute the bacon in a nonstick pan until it releases some fat and then add the chicken livers and continue stir-frying until the bacon bits are crisp and the livers are done through.
Put together a big batch of this tasty crumb mixture and you can whip up a cobbler in a few minutes using canned fruit.
2 cups brown sugar, packed
4 cups flour
4 cups rolled oats
1 tablespoon cinnamon
1 teaspoon nutmeg
1 pound butter, at room temperature
Put all of the dry ingredients in a large mixing bowl and cut in the butter using a pastry blender or two knives. Mix until the consistency is mealy, with no particles larger than a pea. Divide into four bags, seal, and keep in the refrigerator for up to a month.
To proceed, empty a large can of fruit with juice (24 to 32 ounces) into a 9-inch-by-13-inch baking pan and sprinkle a bag of the cobbler mix over top. Bake at 375 degrees until the fruit is bubbly and the top is crusty-brown. Spoon the cobbler onto serving plates and serve plain or with whipped cream, vanilla sauce, or ice cream.
Add 1/2-cup pistachios, chopped macadamias, or other nuts before topping with the mix. Fresh fruit also can be used, but it will cook down, so fill the baking pan as much as possible before adding the topping. Additional sugar may be needed for tart fruits such as green apples or cranberries.
I’ve found a new product called ExtraLife that helps keep your fruits and vegetables fresh longer when stored in the refrigerator. Slip the small plastic disk into your refrigerator’s crisper drawers and freshness will be prolonged for days. I’m sold on it, especially when provisioning for several weeks in remote areas. Each disk works for 12 weeks after being activated. ExtraLife can be purchased in one-disk and three-disk packages in the produce departments of many major grocery stores; by calling (866) 398-7254; or by visiting www.extralifeclub.com.
What’s your favorite recipe?
We’re searching for the best recipes from FMCA’s thousands of motorhome cooks. Send me your favorite recipe, including the list of ingredients, preparation instructions, and how many it serves, and it could be published in a future “Cooking On The Go” column. You can e-mail the recipe to [email protected] or send it via regular mail to Janet Groene, Family Motor Coaching magazine, 8291 Clough Pike, Cincinnati, OH 45244.