Cooking on the Go
By Janet Groene, F47166
Let’s get back to basics with recipes that are easy and quick, yet chic and delicious.
Fish is one food that is best cooked outside the motorhome, unless you want to enjoy the aroma for hours afterward inside. Here is a way to cook juicy fish outdoors.
1 large shallot
1 large clove garlic
1 large plum tomato, diced
4 pats butter
4 servings filleted salmon, preferably wild
8 tablespoons white wine, vermouth, or chicken broth
Set out four squares of nonstick foil. Slice the shallot and garlic paper-thin and divide them and the tomato among the pieces of foil. Add a pat of butter to each pile; sprinkle lightly with salt, pepper, and dill weed; and top with the salmon fillets. Sprinkle the salmon with more dill weed, salt, and pepper. Bring up the sides of the foil to form a shallow pan and pour 2 tablespoons of wine or broth into each. Finish wrapping the fish, using the leak-proof “drugstore” wrap method: bring up the sides of the foil to meet, fold down, and seal the sides. Place the packets on well-started coals, vegetable-side down. Cook for 10 minutes; turn; and cook for another five minutes before checking to see if the fillets are done. Place the opened packets back atop the grill to let the juices boil down and thicken. Place the salmon on plates and spoon the liquid over them. Complete the meal with foil-baked potatoes, grilled corn on the cob, and spinach salad.
Bodacious Big Meat Loaf
This recipe makes two loaf pans of meat loaf to freeze for future trips. Make thick slices and serve it as a main-dish meat, or slice it thin for sandwiches.
2 pounds extra-lean ground beef
1 pound lean ground pork
1 pound lean ground turkey breast
1 tablespoon salt
1 teaspoon ground pepper
1 large onion, cut up
14- or 15-ounce can tomatoes
Half a green pepper, diced
Half a bunch of parsley, stems removed (optional)
2 stalks celery, diced
1/2-cup seasoned bread crumbs
Put the meat in a big mixing bowl and work in the salt and pepper. In a food processor, pulse the vegetables and parsley until everything is coarsely chopped. Mix the chopped vegetables into the meat along with the bread crumbs. Divide the meat into two greased loaf pans, pressing in firmly and shaping the top into a dome to create a loaf. Bake the meat loaves at 325 degrees for 1-1/2 to 2 hours, using a meat thermometer or instant-read thermometer to assure doneness. Because this loaf contains turkey and pork, it should test done according to the poultry setting. Pour off the juices; allow it to cool in the pan for a few minutes; then cut and serve; or cool, wrap, and freeze. The juices can be chilled, skimmed, and thickened for gravy, or used in soup.
Janet’s Eggless, Milkless, Sugar-Free, Fat-Free Pancakes
A diabetes educator asked me for a recipe that her low-income clients could understand, afford, and incorporate into a carb-counting diet. This recipe makes four servings each with 15 grams of carbohydrate, or 1 carb exchange each. Note that 1/4-cup of sugar-free pancake syrup per serving adds 8 grams to 12 grams of carbohydrate, depending on the brand. You don’t have to be on a special diet to enjoy these grainy, hearty pancakes. Flours and grains vary, so you may need slightly more liquid or flour to achieve the right batter consistency.
1 cup water
1 teaspoon vinegar
1-1/2 cups self-rising flour
1/4-cup yellow cornmeal (regular or self-rising)
1/4-cup regular or old-fashioned oats
1 teaspoon baking soda
Optional: 1 teaspoon imitation butter flavoring
Stir together the water and the vinegar in the measuring cup. In a bowl mix the dry ingredients well. Add the water into the dry ingredients and mix just until everything is evenly moistened. Stir in the butter flavoring (if applicable). If the batter is too thick, stir in more water 1 tablespoon at a time. Do not beat or over-mix the batter. Heat a nonstick skillet and pour the batter into it in 1/4-cup measures. When one side of the pancake is golden brown and bubbles rise through it, turn it over and continue cooking until the other side is golden.
- Make pancakes with diet soda instead of water and have a different flavor every morning.
- Instead of using water and vinegar, substitute with buttermilk. Dieters, note that this adds carbs and fat content.
- Roll 4-inch pancakes around precooked, low-fat link sausages and eat by hand. Dieters must count the carbs, fat, and other values noted on the sausage package.
- For a nuttier, grainier pancake, use all oats instead of cornmeal and oats.
- If you are using whole wheat or plain white flour instead of self-rising flour, add a pinch of salt and 2 teaspoons of baking powder to the dry ingredients. Persons who are on a no-salt diet should use regular flour plus 2 teaspoons baking powder, but no salt.
- Make dessert pancakes. Use diet chocolate soda instead of the water, spritz the pancakes with low-fat whipped topping, and drizzle sugar-free chocolate syrup over the top. Or, using chocolate pancakes, make ice cream sandwiches with low-carb ice cream. Dieters should note the additional carbs, sodium, fats, or other values listed on individual labels.
2 large, oval baking potatoes
Salt, pepper, oregano
4 chicken hind quarters
1/4-cup Key lime juice*
Set out four large squares of nonstick foil and place a small pool of olive oil on each. Cut the potatoes in half lengthwise to create a thin, flat, halved potato. Place them cut side down on the olive oil and move around until the cut side of the potato is coated in oil. Sprinkle the skin side of the potato with salt, pepper, and oregano. Top each potato half with a chicken hindquarter, cut side over the potato skin. Sprinkle the chicken with salt, pepper, and oregano. Bring up the sides of the foil to form a shallow pan and divide the lime juice among the four portions. Bring up the sides of the foil to meet, fold down, and seal the sides. Place the packets, chicken-side down, over medium heat on a well-started grill. Cook for 20 minutes; turn; cook another 15 minutes; turn again; and cook 10 minutes more. Open one packet and test the chicken to see whether it is done. Complete the meal with kebabs made with chunks of zucchini and summer squash marinated in Italian dressing, and a dessert of whole, sweet cherries.
Note: Key limes are small and yellowish. If you don’t have fresh or bottled Key lime juice, use regular lime juice, which has a slightly different flavor.
Ham And Potato Stew
Keep this recipe and its canned ingredients on hand for an emergency. When travel plans change, it’s good to have an extra meal at the ready.
1 can whole potatoes, drained, rinsed, and quartered
1-pound canned ham, diced
12-ounce jar small, whole onions (not pickled)
12-ounce can sliced carrots, drained
15-ounce can chicken broth
1 heaping tablespoon cornstarch or instant-blend flour
Grated Cheddar cheese (optional)
Put the potatoes, ham, onions, and carrots in a roomy pot. Add all but 1/2-cup of the broth and bring to a boil. Mix the remaining chicken broth with the cornstarch or flour to make a paste; stir into the stew; and continue cooking and stirring until it thickens. Season to taste. Stir in the green garnish just enough to heat through and ladle the stew into soup bowls. Complete the meal with hot, crusty, drop biscuits and a salad.
*If you can manage a handful of chopped parsley, sliced green onions, or frozen peas, use them here. If not, quit while you’re ahead. Canned peas just don’t have enough color or texture to improve this dish.
Variation: Stir in a handful of grated Cheddar cheese just before serving.
Panfastic Beef Stroganoff
This quick, stovetop recipe is from my book Cooking Aboard Your RV (see the end of this column for ordering information). The secret to quick cooking is to cut the meat paper-thin across the grain. This is easier if the meat is partially frozen.
1-1/2 pounds top round or London broil
1 medium onion, finely diced
1 teaspoon vegetable oil
1 tablespoon instant-blend flour (i.e. Wondra)
8-ounce can mushrooms
1/2-cup liquid (juice from the mushrooms plus water as needed)
1 teaspoon salt
1 tablespoon Dijon-style mustard
1/2-cup sour cream
In a large, nonstick skillet, stir-fry the beef and onion in hot oil until done to your taste. (Some pink can remain.) Drain the mushrooms and add water to make 1/2-cup liquid, then stir the flour into the cold liquid. Add the liquid and mushrooms to the meat mixture and bring everything to a boil until the sauce thickens. Turn the heat to very low; stir in the mustard, sour cream, salt, and pepper; and increase the heat, but do not boil. Serve this dish over noodles, rice, or mashed potatoes. The recipe makes six servings.
This luscious, whole-meal salad makes a hearty lunch or cold supper on a hot day. For color variety, use white grapes and red apple or yellow apple and red grapes.
1 package white rice and wild rice mix, prepared according to directions on the label
16 ounces real or imitation lump crabmeat, diced bite-size
1 cup diced celery
1 cup diced apple
1 cup halved seedless grapes
1/4-cup dried cherries or dried cranberries, such as Craisins
Ranch dressing to taste
Prepare the wild rice mix and put it in a large bowl to cool while you cut up the crab, celery, apples, and grapes. Fold the crab, celery, and fruit into the rice mixture and add just enough dressing to bind and moisten. This recipe makes six servings.
A bib for your fridge
Spill-N-Wash is a bib-like pad with an absorbent top over a waterproof layer. The inventor, who became tired of mopping up spills in her fridge, uses it on all refrigerator shelves. However, it can bunch up and get in the way, so I use it only on the bottom shelf and in the drawers. It already has saved innumerable messes, and it washes like a dream. The pads are $4.99 for a two-pack. You could easily whip up similar pads on your sewing machine, but at these prices, why bother? Find them online at www.spillnwash.com or look for them in supermarkets and mass market outlets.
Books for cooks
Culinary New Mexico by Sally Moore ($18.95, Fulcrum Publishing) is more than a cookbook. It’s a traveler’s book about where to find restaurants, pubs, tortillerias, specialty food markets, food festivals, and wineries, plus recipes based on the products and cuisines of New Mexico. If you know the answer to the question “Red or green?” you already know the importance of buying this book. If not, don’t travel to the Land of Enchantment without it. The book can be purchased at bookstores, through online booksellers, or from the publisher at (800) 992-2908; www.fulcrum-books.com.
The Blender Bible by Andrew Chase and Nicole Young ($19.95, Robert Rose) is the book for those who love smoothies, make homemade baby food, or are caring for someone who is on a liquid diet. This book covers everything from how to use a blender to recipes galore. Grab a blender breakfast as you dash out the door. Make gourmet soups, hot and cold, as well as exotic sauces, dips, and marinades. If you carry a blender in your motorhome, this book will keep you blending brilliant new recipes for years to come.
A vegan (as opposed to a vegetarian) is someone who doesn’t eat animal products, including eggs and cheese. The recipes in 125 Best Vegan Recipes by Maxine Chuck and Beth Gurney ($18.85, Robert Rose) are so good you could put your family on a vegan diet for a week before they realize they aren’t getting any animal protein. The book is filled with delicious, nutritious imposters such as soy crumbles, tofu, and soy cheese to make familiar dishes such as Mexican Casserole and Lasagna. Serve vegetarian and vegan family and friends with confidence using recipes from this book. This book and The Blender Bible are available at bookstores, through online booksellers, or from Firefly Books by calling (800) 387-5085.
Nobody said you had to be a good cook to go RVing. If you’re a klutz in the kitchen, don’t take off without the Absolute Beginner’s Guide To Cooking by Deb Roussou ($21.99, Que Publishing). A thick, comprehensive, easy-to-read guide with color pictures to inspire you, the book has step-by-step recipes for every course of a meal. Included are invaluable tips — things that experienced cooks would never think to tell a beginner. The book also has definitions of food terms and step-by-step directions for preparation. Seasoned cooks also will enjoy the instructions for preparing foods they never tackled before. This book is available at bookstores, from online booksellers, or from the publisher at www.quepublishing.com.