Cooking on the Go
By Janet Groene, F47166
Who says warm, filling comfort foods have to use every pan in the pantry, requiring hours of cleanup? These snappy, shortcut recipes leave more time for neighboring and sight-seeing while they warm up your winter travels.
Creamy Hash Browns
When you’re making a meat-and-potatoes meal, frozen hash brown potatoes are your shortcut to this crusty cake. A straight-sided, nonstick skillet works best.
16-ounce package frozen hash brown potatoes with onion and pepper
2 tablespoons butter
2 tablespoons vegetable oil
1/3-cup heavy cream or ranch dressing
1 teaspoon salt
Freshly ground pepper to taste
Thaw the potatoes in the original bag and drain any excess liquid. Add the flour to the bag; twist shut; and toss to coat the potatoes with flour. Heat the butter and vegetable oil in a nonstick skillet until the liquid bubbles. Press the thawed potatoes in an even layer into the bottom of the skillet with the back of a spoon. Drizzle evenly with the cream or the ranch dressing. Sprinkle with salt and pepper. Cover and cook over low heat for approximately 25 minutes without stirring until a golden crust develops on the bottom. Flip the cake onto a serving plate or cutting board and cut into six wedges.
Note: If you prefer to avoid the flipping step, use a pancake turner to lift the servings out of the skillet and serve crust-side up.
Whip up this shortcut condiment in your galley and serve it with curry or with meat from the grill. It’s also delicious for breakfast. Spread toasted English muffins with soft cream cheese, and then add a layer of this marmalade. At cocktail hour you also can set out a brick of cream cheese, spoon this marmalade over it generously, and provide crackers for guests to spread.
8-ounce jar maraschino cherries
16-ounce jar orange marmalade
3 tablespoons lemon juice
1 cup golden raisins
1 cup chopped nuts
Drain the cherry juice into a saucepan and dump the cherries onto a chopping board. Chop coarsely. Add the cherries and other ingredients to the pan. Stir the mixture over low heat until the marmalade is bubbly and well-combined. Store it in a covered container in the refrigerator. Serve warm, cold, or at room temperature.
One-Pot Chili Mac
It’s always a plus if you can make a pasta dish in one pot without cooking the pasta separately, but it can be difficult to determine how much liquid is enough to cook the pasta without making the finished dish too soupy. Here’s a recipe that comes out just right and, as an added shortcut, uses a boxed mix. Use any type of lean sausage, Italian or regular, hot or mild. The salsa, too, can be hot or mild. For more kick, pass the hot sauce. Freeze any leftover tomato paste in a snack-size resealable bag. It will come in handy when you need just a touch of tomato next time.
1 pound bulk sausage
1 tablespoon vegetable oil
16-ounce can ready-to-serve chicken broth (2 cups)
3 tablespoons tomato paste
12-ounce package macaroni and cheese dinner
Approximately 1-1/2 cups chunky salsa
Hot sauce, sour cream, chopped scallions, diced tomatoes, minced cilantro (optional)
In a roomy saucepan, fry the sausage in hot vegetable oil, breaking it up as you go. Drain off any excess fat. Add the broth and tomato paste; bring to a boil; and stir in the macaroni. Simmer until the macaroni is tender, and then stir in the cheese packet. Stir in the salsa, adding more if needed to reach the desired consistency, and heat thoroughly. Pass the condiments. This recipe makes four servings.
Speedy Stuffed Cabbage
1 large head cabbage
2 15-ounce cans corned beef hash
Bottled chili sauce
6-ounce can tomato paste
1 tablespoon brown sugar
Put 1 inch of water in the bottom of a large pot. Discard any dry or discolored outer leaves from the cabbage and cut out the core. Put the cabbage in the pot core-side down; cover; bring the water to a boil; and cook for five minutes. This should loosen as many large cabbage leaves as you’ll need for this dish (approximately six to eight leaves). The remaining cabbage can be saved for another use. If necessary, add more water so you still have 1 inch in the pot. To stuff the cabbage leaves, put approximately 1/3-cup hash and a teaspoon of chili sauce in each large leaf; fold the sides in; and roll up. Arrange the rolls seam-side down in the shallow water. Cover; bring to a low boil; reduce heat; and simmer until the cabbage is tender. Remove the cabbage rolls carefully with a large slotted spoon. Stir the tomato paste into the water with the brown sugar. Add salt and pepper to taste and spoon the sauce over the cabbage rolls. This recipe makes four to six servings.
-Note: Canned roast beef hash also can be used. If you don’t have chili sauce, substitute a cup of mild salsa (not chunky style) mixed with 1/8-teaspoon cloves.
Campout Clam Chowder
Thanks to canned and bottled shortcuts, this New England-style chowder can be on your table in minutes. Super-pasteurized cream, found in the dairy department, is dated and lasts for weeks if it isn’t opened. Look for the use-by date. You also can use non-dairy cream. Instead of celery soup, you can substitute condensed creamy onion or cream of potato soup. Use real butter or your favorite soft, liquid, or spray-on margarine, but don’t use solid margarine.
10-1/2-ounce can condensed cream of celery soup, undiluted
8-ounce bottle clam juice
2 cups water
7-1/2-ounce can chopped clams, with juice
15-ounce can diced potatoes, drained
3/4-cup light cream
Minced fresh parsley or dried chives
In a saucepan mix the soup with the clam juice and water until smooth, and then add the clams and potatoes. Bring to a mild boil; reduce heat; and stir in the cream. Cook, stirring over very low heat until it’s hot throughout. Set out two or three soup bowls and put some minced parsley or dried chives in each with a nugget of butter. Ladle the hot chowder into the bowls and garnish each with a lemon wedge.
You should be able to find everything needed for this recipe in your pantry, except for the leeks. Remember to pick up a bunch, or, as a substitute, three bunches of scallions. Leeks tend to be sandy, so trim off the dark green; cut the remaining leeks into bite-size pieces; and place in a sieve for a thorough rinse. If substituting scallions, use the white and light green portions only.
1 bunch leeks (6), white parts only
1 tablespoon vegetable oil
3 quarts chicken broth
1 cup water
10-ounce can chunk chicken
1 cup instant rice
Salt, pepper to taste
In a large soup pot stir-fry the leeks in hot vegetable oil to soften them slightly. Add the broth and water; cover; and simmer for approximately 15 minutes or until the leeks are tender. Stir in the chicken and its juice; bring to a boil; and stir in the rice. Cover and simmer for five minutes or until the rice is tender. Season with salt and pepper. Place one or two plump prunes, snipped into several pieces, in each soup bowl. Cover with the soup and sprinkle with snipped parsley. Serve with torn chunks of coarse peasant bread.
Jiggle And Float
Use regular or sugar-free gelatin in this tangy dessert, which is a surprise twist on the same old gelatin. You also can use white cranberry juice instead of white grape juice. Don’t make it just before getting under way. The dessert needs a couple of hours in the refrigerator to set. The float of cream on the top adds incredible richness for just a few added calories. It’s especially elegant with amaretto-flavored creamer.
4-serving packet lemon gelatin dessert
1 cup boiling water
1 cup white grape juice
Coffee cream, regular or flavored
Add boiling water to dissolve the gelatin, and then stir in the grape juice. Pour the liquid into four dessert dishes and refrigerate until the gelatin sets. Just before serving, float a tablespoon or two of cream over the top.
Cheesy Tomato Rice Soup
Whip up this simple, warming, meat-free supper on a cold night and serve it with buttery popcorn, hot from the microwave oven. Crisp apple slices with a caramel dip complete the meal. Dry mustard adds fire and tang, but omit it if you prefer a milder taste.
10-1/2-ounce can condensed cheese soup, undiluted
8-ounce can tomato sauce
2-1/2 cups water
1/2-teaspoon dry mustard (optional)
1 teaspoon Worcestershire sauce
2/3-cup instant rice
3/4-cup whole milk or light cream
Virgin olive oil
In a saucepan whisk together the soup, tomato sauce, water, mustard, and Worcestershire sauce. Bring to a boil; stir in the instant rice; cover; and set aside for five minutes or until the rice is tender. Then stir in the milk and cook over very low heat until everything is heated through. Set out soup bowls and place a teaspoon of virgin olive oil in each. Ladle the soup into the bowls and sprinkle with a few dried chives.
Bright ideas for the chef.
- To make shortcut cheeseburgers, add 1/2-cup cheese cracker crumbs to each pound of ground beef. Grill and then add a slice of cheese on top if you like.
- If you ever have leftover spaghetti at home, freeze it in a pie plate and take it camping. Warm it in the microwave oven and cut into wedges.
- Mix equal amounts of peanut butter and deviled ham and serve on crackers for cocktail hour.
- Make a double batch of thick pancake batter for breakfast and use half of it to make puffy griddlecakes. After breakfast, thin the remaining batter with milk or water and make thin crepes to fill with creamed chicken for dinner.
- To make corn dogs without frying, dust hot dogs with flour; roll in a mixture of ketchup and mustard; then roll in cornflake crumbs. Line a pan with nonstick foil and bake the corn dogs for 30 minutes at 350 degrees.
Books for cooks.
If you’re dealing with diabetes, either as one who has the disease or as cook for someone who does, Johanna Burkhard’s new book, Diabetes Comfort Food ($22.95, Robert Rose), is comforting indeed. For each recipe the author gives a nutritional breakdown (calories, carbohydrates, fiber, protein, total fat, saturated fat, sodium, and cholesterol) as well as exchanges per serving information. Whatever regimen your doctor or diabetes educator has ordered, you’ll find everything you need in this book to cook and eat right.
Watch the portions, though! If you’re limited to 60 grams of carbohydrates per meal and divide up the recipes four or six ways according to the servings listed, you may be dismayed at how little food ends up on your plate when you make such high-carb dishes as Molasses Baked Beans or Creamy Tuna Pasta Bake.
Many of you have asked for more recipes for twosomes, and now EatingWell magazine has a wonderful book for you. In a beautifully illustrated, hardcover edition, EatingWell Serves Two ($24.95, The Countryman Press) supplies not only 150 delicious dinner menus, but planning and shopping tips as well. Even if you’re not a beginner cook, the step-by-step directions come in handy when you’re getting a meal together and want everything to come out hot and ready at the same time. The book is also perfect to present to RVers who are taking off for the first time as empty-nesters.