Cooking on the Go
By Janet Groene, F47166
Commercial mixes offer masterful shortcuts in the galley. But if you have allergies or other dietary concerns, you can make your own. Combine dry ingredients at home to make your own pancakes, biscuits, fish breading, rice pilaf, quick breads, and so on. Almost any recipe can be turned into a quick mix. Bag up the dry ingredients, attach a note on how to complete the recipe, and make sure you have the rest of the ingredients on hand in the motorhome.
Here are some ways to make commercial or homemade mixes work for you on the go.
Muffins Every Morning
For each batch of six muffins you’ll need 1-1/2 cups of homemade or commercial biscuit mix. Use your imagination to make them different every day. Biscuit mixes already contain fat, but adding a little olive oil can give your muffins extra moistness. Disposable foil muffin pans can save time and cleanup. This recipe fills one six-cup muffin pan.
1 egg, beaten
1 cup milk
1 tablespoon olive oil (optional)
1/2-teaspoon flavoring such as vanilla, almond, or lemon extract
1-1/2 cups biscuit mix, or 1-1/4 cups biscuit mix plus 1/4-cup all-bran cereal, or 1-1/4 cups biscuit mix plus 1/4-cup rolled oats
2 tablespoons sugar, white or brown
Whisk together the egg, milk, olive oil, and flavoring in a medium bowl; dump in the dry ingredients and mix until everything is evenly moistened. Line six muffin cups with cupcake papers, fill them two-thirds of the way full with batter, and bake at 425 degrees for 15 to 20 minutes, or until the muffins are firm and springy to the touch.
Variations: You can add more flavor to your muffins in many ways. Fold 1/2-cup diced apple, chopped peaches, or grated yellow squash into the batter. Or, add 1/3-cup dried cranberries, raisins, or chopped walnuts. Try grating a little orange peel into the batter and folding in 1/3-cup chopped, well-drained mandarin oranges. Fold 1/3-cup well-drained crushed pineapple and a handful of grated coconut into the batter. Or put half the batter in the muffin cups, add a heaping teaspoon of jam to each, then add the remaining batter.
Potato Fluff Pie
1 pie crust
Handful grated Cheddar cheese
4 cups mashed potatoes made from a mix according to directions
Place the pie crust in a pie plate and flute the edges. Bake for five minutes at 375 degrees and remove from the oven. Sprinkle with grated cheese. In a bowl, make up the mashed potatoes and thoroughly stir in the eggs. Put the mixture in the pie crust, drizzle with melted butter, and bake at 375 degrees until the crust is golden brown and the potatoes are set.
Variation: Mash sweet potatoes from a can and use them instead of white potatoes. Substitute a layer of scattered miniature marshmallows for the cheese.
Apricot Coddle Coffee Cake
If you don’t have an electric mixer, use a balloon whisk to make a smooth batter. This special treat takes approximately an hour from box to table, so serve it for a late brunch.
1 box spice cake mix
1/2-cup butterscotch chips
3/4-cup snipped dried apricots
3.4-ounce package instant vanilla or butterscotch pudding mix, regular or sugar-free
1 cup sour cream, regular or low-fat
1/2-cup vegetable oil
Powdered sugar (optional)
Put the cake mix in a large bowl, mix to break up any clumps, and reserve 1/4-cup. Add the butterscotch chips and snipped apricots to the reserved mix. To the bowl add the pudding mix, sour cream, vegetable oil, and eggs, and beat until smooth. Pour half the batter into a 9-inch-by-13-inch baking dish coated with non-stick spray and sprinkle with the reserved mix. Cover with the remaining batter and bake at 350 degrees for 40 to 45 minutes. The cake will be springy and should pull slightly away from the edges of the pan when done. If desired, sprinkle with powdered sugar. Cut into 12 to 16 squares.
Stuffed Peppers Presto
You don’t need to fry ground beef to make this recipe. Shop for precooked ground beef in pouches, found in the canned meat aisle or in vacuum-sealed-packs in the meat case. Or, try vegetarian crumbles (ground beef substitutes), which can be found in the freezer, in the dairy case, in the produce department, or with specialty vegetarian foods.
2 large green peppers, halved and seeded
12- to 16-ounce package precooked ground beef or imitation meat crumbles
1 teaspoon seasoned salt
1/2-cup instant rice
8-ounce can (1 cup) tomato sauce
Arrange the pepper halves in a greased 9-inch-square baking dish. Place the meat crumbles in a bowl and toss with the seasoned salt and rice. Whisk together the tomato sauce and water and mix half of the sauce into the meat mixture. Stuff the peppers with the meat mixture and drizzle the rest of the tomato mixture over the stuffed peppers. Bake at 350 degrees until the rice is tender, approximately 35 to 40 minutes. Complete the meal with crusty bread and olive oil for dipping, a crisp salad, and fruited gelatin for dessert.
Your Own White Sauce Mix
White sauce mix also is sold in packets. It’s a basic lifesaver for making cream soups, gravies, and sauces. Whip up a batch of this mix and keep it in the refrigerator. Reduce the butter to 1 or 1-1/2 sticks to make a version that is not as rich.
2 cups nonfat dry milk powder
1 cup regular flour
2 teaspoons salt
2 sticks butter
Mix the dry ingredients; cut the butter into the dry mix; stir until the mixture is mealy; and store in the refrigerator. To make white sauce, place 1/2-cup of this mix in a small saucepan and add 1 cup of cold water, stirring constantly over low-medium heat until it’s thick. If you prefer a thinner sauce, add a little more water. To make a flavored sauce, stir in one of the following: a handful of grated Cheddar cheese; a teaspoon of curry powder; one or two chopped, hard-boiled eggs; 1/3-cup finely minced parsley; or a small can of well-drained mushrooms. Serve the sauce over meat, potatoes, pasta, or vegetables.
Cream-m-m-m Of Chicken Soup
Once you’ve tasted this rich, homemade soup, you’ll never want the canned stuff again.
1-1/2 cups white sauce mix (see above)
4 cups cold water
2 tablespoons dried onion bits
1/2-teaspoon celery seed
3 chicken bouillon cubes
1/2-teaspoon white pepper, or to taste
10-ounce can chunk chicken, pulled apart with a fork
13-ounce can evaporated milk
Optional: chopped chives or minced parsley
Put the white sauce mix in a large pot and gradually add in the cold water. Stirring constantly over medium heat, bring to a boil while gradually adding the onion bits, celery seed, bouillon, and pepper. Add the chicken and stir until everything is well heated. Turn off the flame and stir in the evaporated milk. For a thicker soup, stir in potato flakes, a tablespoon at a time. For a thinner soup, add milk. If desired, sprinkle with minced parsley or chopped chives. Complete the meal with hot cheese bread and apple-celery salad.
Make this recipe in small, large, or gigantic amounts according to family needs. Keep it in a tightly lidded container. If the mix is subjected to moisture, it may get clumpy.
1 part sweetened powdered orange drink mix (such as Tang)
1 part sweetened powdered lemonade mix
2 parts regular or sweetened instant iced tea mix
1 teaspoon apple pie seasoning (or plain cinnamon) per 4 or 5 cups mix
Mix all ingredients and store in an airtight container or bag. To make a hot drink, place 2 heaping teaspoons of the mix in a mug, fill with boiling water, and stir. To make a cold drink, place 2 heaping teaspoons of mix in a tall glass, add a little water, and stir to dissolve before adding the remaining water and ice.
Sweet “˜N Sassy Salad Dressing Mix
This is easily mixed in a glass jar to make homemade salad dressing every day. Try using various types of vinegar (raspberry, herb, red wine) and oils (olive, walnut, canola). Carry it in bulk or use snack bags to package it in batches of 1/3-cup each. The recipe is easily doubled. It also can be fine-tuned by using salt or sugar substitutes, different herbs, or tidbits of dried hot pepper.
1 cup sugar
1 tablespoon onion salt
1 tablespoon dry mustard
1 tablespoon sweet paprika
1 tablespoon celery seed (not celery salt)
1 tablespoon coarsely ground black pepper
Shake everything together and seal well. To make the dressing, whisk together 1/3-cup of the mix, 3/4-cup vegetable oil, and 1/4-cup vinegar.
Milk Chocolate Frosting
Turn a store-bought pound cake or cookies into a homemade dessert with this sinful frosting. It’s also delicious on graham crackers.
1/2-cup cream or evaporated milk
1 stick butter
2 packets instant hot cocoa mix
1 teaspoon vanilla
In a microwavable bowl, heat together the milk and butter until the butter melts. Stir in the cocoa mix until it dissolves. Using an electric beater or a wooden spoon, stir in the powdered sugar until the frosting reaches a spreadable consistency. Stir in the vanilla. Add the nuts to the frosting or sprinkle them over the finished cake.
Tips on mixes
- Use biscuit mix instead of seasoned flour to bread fish or chicken. It gives a lighter, crustier result. Spread a layer of the mix on a paper plate and stir in any desired herbs or seasonings except salt, which is already in the mix.
- Spread a can of drained, crushed pineapple in a 9-inch-by-13-inch pan sprayed with non-stick coating. Sprinkle with a cup of brown sugar and drizzle with a stick of melted butter. Make a double batch of the muffin mix described earlier and pour the batter over the pineapple. Bake at 350 degrees for 35 to 45 minutes, until the cake topping is springy. Allow the cake to cool for 10 minutes, then invert the cake pan over a platter.
- Cook regular rice or wild rice mix according to package directions and fold in dried cranberries and toasted pecans.
- Prepare a package of regular rice or wild rice mix according to package directions. In another container, whisk together 1 can each cream of mushroom, cream of celery, and cream of chicken soup with 3 soup cans of milk. Stir into the rice mixture and place over low heat until it is thoroughly hot. This recipe makes six servings.
- Place a single pie crust in a pie pan and flute the edges. Mix up a package of your favorite cookie dough according to label directions and press evenly into the pie crust. Bake until the crust is golden and the dough is set.
- To turn a plain vanilla cake mix into a pound cake, add a 3.4-ounce package of instant vanilla pudding, 1 cup milk, 1 cup vegetable oil, and 4 large eggs. Bake in a lightly greased tube pan or in two loaf pans at 325 degrees for 55 to 60 minutes, until the cake tests done. No frosting is needed.
- Make up 2 cups biscuit mix according to package directions; form into 12 breadsticks; roll in sesame seeds; and bake for 20 minutes at 400 degrees.
- When preparing homemade mixes in which you’re using a sugar substitute, try a type (Splenda, for instance) that can be substituted cup for cup. Small packets can add the desired sweetness but not the bulk that is required to balance the recipe.
- Buy five or six bags of different dried beans. Mix, then bag them in batches. Go for the greatest possible variety of type and color. Don’t add other ingredients yet, because beans have to be washed and soaked before cooking. If you want to make bean soup or baked bean mixes, bag the other ingredients separately to be added when the beans are ready to cook.
Books for cooks
The Donut Book by Sally Levitt Steinberg (Storey Publishing, $14.95) is more than a recipe book. It’s the history and hilarity of sinkers in one colorful volume that will delight cooks and dunkers alike. Doughnuts have appeal for RV cooks. They are cooked without an oven and make a breakfast or dessert that everyone loves. If you want to master the hole-in-one, add this book to your library.