Cooking on the Go
By Janet Groene, F47166
Quick meals can be a disaster if they are not in good balance nutritionally and aesthetically. Here are recipes that provide fast food without sacrificing nutrition, texture, and looks.
Use meat-filled tortellini or, for a meatless main dish, the cheese-filled variety.
24-ounce can plain tomato sauce (3 cups)
1/2-teaspoon dried basil
1/2-teaspoon freshly ground pepper
Salt to taste
8-ounce (1 cup) container real whipping cream, no substitutes
16-ounce package tortellini
Grated Parmesan or Romano cheese
Whisk together the tomato sauce, seasonings, and whipping cream. Cook the tortellini according to package directions; drain; and fold in the tomato sauce mixture. Cover and cook on low just until everything is heated through. Serve in shallow bowls and pass the grated cheese. Complete the menu with crusty Italian bread with olive oil for dipping, a green salad garnished with black olives, and ice cream sandwiches for dessert.
White Chocolate Whip
More Low-Carb Meals in Minutes ($18.95, Bay Books) is the second book by Linda Gassenheimer that provides recipes that are low in carbohydrates and high on convenience. She also includes shopping lists “” a plus at provisioning time “” and meal plans for a variety of scenarios, such as a weight loss program or a company meal for eight. Although most of the recipes in the book serve two, this one makes eight creamy portions with only 114 calories and 0.2 grams of fat each. For the pudding mix, I used an entire four-serving package. If you don’t have a blender or food processor, use a beater. The result won’t be as satin-smooth, but it will still taste delicious.
2 cups water
3-2/3 cups nonfat ricotta cheese
1/2-cup sugar-free white chocolate pudding mix
4 teaspoons grated, semi-sweet chocolate
Process or beat the water and ricotta cheese together until smooth. Whisk in the pudding powder and divide into eight dessert dishes. Top each with the grated chocolate.
1 pound boneless, skinless turkey breast, partially thawed
1/2-cup bottled marinade such as mesquite, lemon pepper, or lime-tequila
2 tablespoons oil
1 small red sweet pepper, cut in strips
1 small green sweet pepper, cut in strips
1 sweet onion, cut in half and then in strips
6 large flour tortillas, wrapped and warmed briefly in the microwave
Cut the turkey into thin strips. (Tip: this is easier if the turkey is partially frozen.) Toss the turkey with the marinade, and refrigerate for 30 to 60 minutes. Drain the turkey strips and discard the marinade. Heat the oil in a roomy skillet or wok and stir-fry the turkey until it’s firm and white. Gradually add the vegetables, stir-frying just until they are crisp-tender. Divide the mixture among the tortillas; roll up; and serve one or two per person. Pass your favorite accompaniments such as sour cream, salsa, or grated cheese. Complete the plate with a mound of refried beans and a heap of crisp plantain chips, with canned mangoes for dessert.
This has been a wagon train favorite since the days when beans cooked all day in a fireless cooker. Here’s our shortcut version.
1-pound canned ham
1 medium onion (optional)
1 tablespoon cooking oil
2 cups instant rice
16-ounce can of plain navy or pinto beans without sauce
Drain the ham and save any juice. Add water to the juice to make 2 cups of liquid and set aside. Dice the ham and onion and saute them in the oil until the onion is tender and the ham lightly browned. Stir in the rice, beans, and liquid. Bring to a boil; cover; and turn off the heat. Allow to sit for 5 minutes; stir; and serve. Pass the hot sauce. This recipe makes four servings and goes well with hot cornbread and a side dish of creamy coleslaw. Finish with a dessert of crisp apples, cored and filled with chunky peanut butter.
Ice Cream Sandwiches
Everybody loves ice cream, but it’s always a struggle to scoop it out between dinner and dessert. It’s easier to deal with an entire quart or half-gallon by making sandwiches to wrap and freeze individually and serve as needed.
Before you begin, have everything ready: graham crackers separated into squares; a tub of chocolate frosting; plastic wrap; a sharp knife; and a rectangular box (not a tub) of vanilla ice cream. Remove the ice cream from the box, set it on a cutting board, and cut it into blocks the size of the graham squares and 1/2-inch to 3/4-inch thick. Quickly frost two graham cracker squares and make a sandwich with the ice cream, frosting side in. Wrap and pop each into the freezer. Repeat to use all the ice cream. Variations can be made by using different flavors of graham crackers (regular, chocolate, or cinnamon), ice creams, and frostings.
Shrimp And Noodles
This stir-fry dish comes together quickly, and the ramen noodles cook in minutes.
2 packets ramen noodles, chicken or shrimp flavor
1 tablespoon cooking oil, preferably peanut oil
Half a red sweet pepper, cut into strips
Half a green sweet pepper, cut into strips
1 large stalk celery, trimmed and thinly sliced
1 bunch scallions, trimmed and thinly sliced
12-ounce package bean sprouts, rinsed and picked over
12-ounce package shelled, deveined shrimp, thawed and drained
2 teaspoons minced garlic
Break up the noodles; put them and the flavor packet contents in a bowl or pan. Add boiling water and cover. When the noodles are tender, cut through them with clean scissors several times to break up the long strings, and drain. Heat the oil in a large skillet or wok and stir-fry the vegetables, shrimp, and garlic until the shrimp are pink and firm and the vegetables are crisp-tender. Add the noodles and continue to stir over high heat until everything is evenly hot. Pass the soy sauce. This recipe serves four. For dessert, serve canned pineapple chunks splashed with raspberry syrup or liqueur.
This tangy, one-dish meal is a nice departure from ordinary stews. Make it as mild or as hot as you like. The secret is to cook the vegetables until they are tender and then to cook the fish and snow peas quickly. Avoid overcooking.
1 pound firm, meaty, skinless fish fillets such as cod or grouper
1 tablespoon vegetable oil
2 teaspoons curry powder
1/4-teaspoon powdered ginger
15- or 16-ounce can chicken broth
2 medium potatoes, scrubbed and diced (about 2 cups)
3 large carrots, peeled and diced (about 2 cups)
1 stalk celery, trimmed and diced
1 medium onion, peeled and diced
1-1/2 cups snow peas, trimmed
1 tablespoon cornstarch
Salt, pepper to taste
Cut the fish into bite-size chunks. Heat the vegetable oil and stir in the curry powder and ginger to make a paste. Add water to the chicken broth to make 2-1/4 cups and add it to the pot, followed by the potatoes, carrots, celery, and onion. Bring to a low boil; reduce heat; cover; and simmer over low heat until the vegetables are tender. Stir in the fish; cover; and continue cooking 2 to 3 minutes or just until the fish is firm. Stir in the snow peas and cook another 2 minutes. Put the cornstarch in a cup and stir enough water into it to make a paste. Then stir the cornstarch mixture into the stew and cook just until the sauce clears and thickens. Adjust the seasonings and ladle the stew into soup plates. Serve with soft breadsticks and a fruit salad, with tangy fruit sherbet and sugar wafers for dessert.
Books for cooks
A new entry in the popular Complete Idiot’s Guide series by Alpha Books is The Complete Idiot’s Guide to American Cooking. It’s a perfect cookbook for the motorhome traveler who wants to sample cuisine from every corner of America.
Author Ronnie Fein visited New England, the South, the Mid-Atlantic states, the Southwest, and every other region to find favorite recipes and to learn about them from old-time cooks. She explains different kinds of salmon and how to cook them; what to do with Anasazi beans; what goes into Wisconsin Cheddar Cheese Soup; and how to make funnel cakes. This book has many recipes, and its wealth of references and explanations make great armchair reading for foodies.
The Complete Idiot’s Guide to 20-Minute Meals also will tempt the cook who is in a hurry. You’ll have to be speedy to match author Tod Dimmick’s promised prep and cooking times, but his suggestions are offbeat and inspiring. For example, Mr. Dimmick whisks together 1/4-cup each of ketchup, mayonnaise, and relish with two tablespoons of Dijon-style mustard and a dash of hot sauce, and keeps it in the refrigerator to use as a dip with grilled cheese sandwiches.
While you’re at it, check out The Complete Idiot’s Guide to Light Desserts by Rose Reisman. Directions are explicit for beginners, and the calories have been shaved. Unlike some other cookbooks in the Complete Idiot’s Guide series, this one provides complete nutritional information, including calorie counts, and fat and carbohydrate content, so health-conscious folks know exactly where each serving fits into the big picture.
The appeal of these three books is that they give background, directions, and lots of little tips and tidbits to make the instructions clearer and the product better. They can be purchased for $19.95 each at bookstores or through online booksellers.
The most amusing, fun-to-use cookbook in ages is Even More Top Secret Recipes by Todd Wilbur ($13, Plume). Through cooking savvy, guesswork, and experimentation, the author has filled this new book, the seventh in his Top Secret Recipes series, with another collection of recipes that look and taste like famous foods such as Auntie Anne’s Pretzels, Little Debbie Oatmeal Cream Pies, and the “Special Sauce” McDonald’s uses on its Big Mac. You’ll have fun faking these familiar foods right in your own kitchen. Some are easy, but others, such as Drake’s Devil Dogs or a Fatburger original hamburger, require you to follow Wilbur’s drawings to get them just right.
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. Also, let me know what your favorite product or ingredient is for saving time and trouble. You can e-mail the recipe and tips to firstname.lastname@example.org or send it via regular mail to Janet Groene, FMC magazine, 8291 Clough Pike, Cincinnati, OH 45244.