Cooking on the Go
By Janet Groene, F47166
With the dog days of summer just around the corner, here are several recipes, and even entire meals, that can be made without lighting the stove. If the day turns chilly, add mugs of instant soup to the menu.
Overnight Bean Salad
Make this recipe two or three days before a potluck meal, or keep a big batch in the refrigerator to eat every day. This salad is hearty enough to serve as a light main dish and can be made heartier still with an extra can of kidney beans. Use 15-ounce to 19-ounce cans of beans.
1 green bell pepper, diced
3 stalks celery, diced
1 medium sweet onion (Vidalia, Texas Sweet), diced
2 cans cut green beans, well drained
1 can wax beans, well drained
1 can kidney, pinto, or black beans, drained and rinsed
1 cup sugar
1 cup vinegar
1/2-cup vegetable oil
Freshly ground pepper to taste
Pile all the vegetables into a large refrigerator container. Whisk together the sugar, vinegar, vegetable oil, and pepper and pour it over the vegetables. Snap on the lid and turn several times to mix. Chill overnight, turning a few times when you think of it. Serve the salad with a draining spoon. When you get down to the dregs, which will be mostly dressing with bits of beans, use it as a salad dressing over torn lettuce and diced tomatoes.
To make it a meal: Sprinkle paper-thin slices of smoked salmon with a little minced sweet onion and a few capers, and then roll it up. Make a plate with one or two salmon rolls, a portion of bean salad, sliced beefsteak tomatoes, and buttered rye crackers.
Luscious Layered Salad
The secret to a well-dressed layered salad is to smooth the mayonnaise mixture completely across the top of the layers to the edges of the container, forming a seal. Regular or light mayonnaise may be used, or try a mixture of half mayo and half sour cream. Make this recipe first thing in the morning to serve at dinner the same night.
1 package shredded lettuce
1 medium green pepper, finely chopped
1 package fine coleslaw mix (sometimes called angel hair) with carrot
1 medium red sweet pepper, finely chopped
1/2-cup frozen peas
2-ounce can or jar of real bacon pieces
1 tablespoon sugar
2 cups mayonnaise (16-ounce jar)
Approximately 1 cup grated cheese, such as cheddar
Start with a large bowl that will hold everything with room to spare for mixing it later. Layer the ingredients in order, starting with the lettuce and ending with the bacon. Press down lightly to form a flat top. Whisk the sugar into the mayonnaise and spread over the top of the salad, sealing to the edges of the bowl. Cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate all day or overnight. Just before serving, add the grated cheese and mix, delving all the way to the bottom to make sure the lettuce and cabbage are well distributed.
To make a meal: Arrange several slices of deli-sliced salami on each plate, add a generous mound of salad, and pass buttered potato rolls.
Frozen grilled salmon can be found in the supermarket freezer case. Or you can grill or poach extra portions at home and freeze them for a future trip. Salmon is delicious served cold.
2 portions frozen grilled salmon, thawed
1/2 small cucumber, peeled, seeded, and finely chopped
1/2 small tomato, seeded and finely chopped
1 cup plain yogurt
Arrange the thawed salmon on serving plates, drizzle with lemon juice, and sprinkle lightly with salt and pepper. In a small bowl, mix the vegetables and yogurt and add a pinch of salt and pepper to taste. Ladle the yogurt mixture over the salmon.
To make a meal: Complete the plate with buttered pilot crackers and a medley of marinated artichoke hearts with some bite-size, raw vegetables. Serve individually packaged lemon mousse gelatin treats for dessert.
Cold Oven Stuffed Peppers
2 large sweet peppers
Approximately 1 cup cottage cheese
1 tablespoon golden raisins
1/3-cup cashews, chopped
Roasted, salted sunflower nuts
Use red or green sweet peppers. Cut off the tops, clean out the seeds, and cut a tiny slice off the bottom of each so they will sit upright on the plate. (Or place the peppers in small dishes that will hold them upright.) Just before serving, mix the cottage cheese (you’ll need more than a cupful for very large peppers), raisins, and cashews and spoon into the peppers. Sprinkle lightly with sunflower nuts and serve at once. This recipe makes two servings.
To make a meal: Add a mixed green salad, corn muffins from the bakery, and apple wedges with caramel dip.
8-ounce package cream cheese
2 tablespoons sour cream
1 tablespoon horseradish (or more to taste)
8 10-inch flour tortillas
Approximately 16 thin slices deli roast beef
1 package washed baby spinach (you’ll use only part of it)
A few basil leaves (optional)
Let the cream cheese soften at room temperature, or put it in a microwave-safe bowl and microwave it on low for 30 seconds. Stir in the sour cream and the horseradish. Cut each pickle spear into long slivers and set aside to drain well. Lay out a tortilla, top with two slices of beef, and spread with 1/8 of the cream cheese mixture. Trim the stalks from the spinach, roll several leaves together, adding one or two basil leaves if you like, and slice into fine shreds. Sprinkle a little of the spinach over the roast beef, add a sliver of pickle, and roll up. Cut in half and serve. This recipe makes eight rolls.
To make a meal: Open a can of diced tomatoes, spoon into ramekins, and add a few garlic croutons. Arrange the beef rolls and ramekins on dinner plates and garnish with a colorful medley of cut-up raw vegetables.
Sardine-Stuffed Grape Leaves
The nice thing about this dish is that the ingredients can be kept in the pantry, ready to make into a light meal or a tray of snacks.
1-1/2 teaspoons sugar
2 tablespoons vinegar
20 grape leaves (from a jar; found with ethnic foods in supermarkets)
4-ounce can sardines in mustard sauce
2 small scallions, thinly sliced
3 grape tomatoes, cut up and seeded (optional)
3/4-cup bulgur wheat, prepared according to package directions
Stir the sugar into the vinegar and set aside. Drain the grape leaves well. Cut the sardines into 20 pieces. Stir the vinegar, scallions, and tomatoes into the bulgur wheat. Place some of the bulgur mixture on a grape leaf with a piece of sardine. Fold the sides of the grape leaf over, roll up, and place on a plate, seam-side down. Repeat. Eat at once or chill until mealtime.
To make a meal: Add sesame breadsticks and a mound of eggplant relish. Buy pastries at a good Greek bakery for dessert.
Be an un-cook
Try some of these ideas to save time in the galley.
- Drain and mash the contents of a 19-ounce can of cannellini beans (white kidney beans) and stir in a tablespoon of minced garlic, 3 tablespoons of virgin olive oil, and a tablespoon of bottled pesto. Serve with crackers.
- Soften an 8-ounce package of cream cheese and mix into it 8 ounces of flaked, picked-over smoked fish (mullet, trout) and a tablespoon of ketchup. Serve with crackers.
- Make a big, fresh fruit salad and place a bed of baby spinach leaves on dinner plates. Cover the spinach with the drained fruit and serve with string cheese and breadsticks.
- Buy macaroni salad or potato salad at the deli and turn it into a full meal by folding in thawed peas, grated carrot, and canned chunk chicken or tuna.
- Make colorful kabobs with skewers and cubes of cheese, cherry tomatoes, chunks of cucumber, cubes of deli meat, and so on. Add crackers and a tub of dip.
- Buy individual-size sponge shortcakes. Drizzle with raspberry syrup, top with half a peach (cut-side up), and fill the cavity with a tablespoon of raspberry jam. Top with whipped cream and drizzle with a little more raspberry syrup.
- Thaw a package of grilled chicken strips, wrap several strips in each 6-inch flour tortilla, and serve with a dipping sauce made from three parts apple butter to one part pancake syrup.
- Whisk 1/3-cup lemon or lime juice into a 14-ounce can of sweetened condensed milk. Pour into a ready-made graham cracker crust, chill, and top with whipped cream just before serving.
- Using a chef’s knife on a cutting board, coarsely chop one or two 3-ounce bars of Guylian Belgian Dark Chocolate Orange and keep in a tightly zipped snack bag. Use one or two teaspoons to doll up canned oranges or peaches for dessert. The best quality chocolate, Guylian is available in regular, low-carb, and no-sugar-added bars. Cutting it into chunks is also ideal for making low-carb or no-sugar-added chocolate chip cookies.
Good Cook’s new 4-in-1 SafeCut can opener, priced at $12.99 in grocery and mass merchandise stores, opens cans, twists off caps, and has a traditional bottle opener and a pull-top puller. If you like the type of can opener that cuts around the side and produces a lid with no sharp edges, here’s one that does quadruple duty.
Are there times you want to dine out in a gourmet restaurant but just don’t feel like budging from the coach? Home Bistro flash-freezes high-quality, chef-prepared meals and ships them in dry ice to arrive at your campsite ready to thaw, heat, and eat. Don’t confuse these dishes with any convenience foods found in the supermarket. Each is a single serving so you and your partner can order what you like. Choose from an impressive catalog of pastas, low-carb dishes, poultry, beef, seafood, and New England specialties.
They’re restaurant quality and are also restaurant priced ($9.95 for chicken stir-fry; $17.95 for a pheasant half in port wine sauce), not including shipping. Nevertheless, the dining experience speaks for itself. Sampler packs are the best value. For a free catalog call (800) 628-5588 or visit www.homebistro.com.
Books for cooks
In the 1980s, electric skillets were all the rage with camp cooks. But then electric barbecues and rotisseries were touted at every RV show, and today’s cooks are wild about their indoor grills. However, if you still have that old electric skillet, let Wendy Louise take you on a trip down memory lane with her new book, The Sensational Skillet Cookbook ($16, Champion Press). Unfortunately, fewer than half the recipes in the cookbook are for one-dish meals. The rest are side dishes; non-recipes (such as how to warm up leftover potatoes or corn in a skillet); or recipes that require another burner for noodles, potatoes, spaghetti, or rice that can be served with the skillet-cooked recipe. The very explicit hints and directions are a boon for beginner cooks. Despite its cover blurb about electric skillets, the recipes can be cooked in any frying pan over a burner. This book is a find for cookbook collectors and for electric skillet devotees. It is available from online booksellers or can be purchased from the publisher by calling (877) 250-3354 or visiting www.championpress.com.
The series is called Kitchen Miracles and the new book 500 3-Ingredient Recipes ($19.95, Fair Winds Press) truly is one. It’s a 500-page guide to exquisitely simple, utterly delicious recipes. There have been four- and five-ingredients cookbooks in the past, but what can you do with three ingredients? The authors, Bob Hildebrand, a chef at Vermont’s Three Stallion Inn, and his sister, Carol, a food writer, provide a bounty of great ideas. Their Very Simple Risotto calls for chicken stock, Arborio rice, and grated Parmesan cheese. It’s good and when you use a really great stock and the best rice and Parmesan cheese, it’s truly excellent. Another recipe suggests adding a cup of good golden sherry and three heads of plump garlic to a 4-pound pot roast. The result is a knockout. The rushed RV cook who has an eye for quality meals made from the fewest ingredients will love this book. Find it in bookstores, at online bookseller Web sites, or visit www.fairwindspress.com.