Cooking on the Go
By Janet Groene, F47166
Keep these recipes in mind when your guest list grows unexpectedly.
It’s fun to round up an impromptu meal for new campground friends, but sometimes it takes some imagination and a lot of stretching. How can you extend a small meal or fancy up the plain-Jane dinner you had planned to serve? Here are recipes to keep up your sleeve.
This is a quickie that bakes in a pie shell, transforming a simple casserole into a party meal for six. Use your intuition when choosing seasonings: dried herbs, Italian mix, dillweed, Spike seasoning, lemon pepper, Cajun flavoring, etc. for those who like it hot, or whatever you have.
12-ounce package real or imitation sausage crumbles
9-inch deep-dish pie shell
15- or 16-ounce can cream-style corn
1/2 cup milk
1 teaspoon dried mixed herbs
Spread the sausage in a thawed pie shell. Whisk together the corn, eggs, milk, and herbs and pour over the sausage. Bake at 350 degrees for 30 to 40 minutes, until the pie crust is golden and the filling is set, as for custard. Allow the quiche to stand for five minutes, then cut into six wedges.
Variation: A 10-ounce package of chopped spinach, cooked, drained, and squeezed dry, can be added on top of the sausage.
Bodacious Big Broccoli Salad
Packaged vegetables from the freezer and instant rice make a luncheon main dish or a dinner side dish.
10-ounce package frozen cauliflower florets
10-ounce package frozen, chopped broccoli
3½ cups water
3 cups instant rice
2/3 cup vinaigrette dressing
4-ounce package crumbled feta cheese (optional)
Salad greens (optional)
Boil the vegetables in the water and as soon as they are tender, stir in the rice. Quickly cover and let stand for 10 minutes while the rice softens. Fold in the dressing and, if you wish, the feta cheese. Serve warm or at room temperature, alone or on a bed of greens. Garnish with bits of bright red tomato if available.
Festival Fruit Bake
The beauty of this dish is that it combines whatever canned fruits you have on hand to make a side dish to serve with meat from the grill. For special occasions, keep on hand one or two fancy fruits such as pitted, canned sweet cherries or frozen strawberries. They’ll dress up everyday canned peaches, pears, and pineapple that you carry in your pantry.
1 stick butter
1 tablespoon curry powder
4 to 5 cans fruit or equivalent
Put the butter in a casserole dish and melt in the microwave oven. Stir in the curry powder. Drain all the fruit, saving 1 cupful of juice. Fold the fruit and the reserved juice into the butter mixture and bake in the conventional oven or microwave oven until everything is bubbly. Stir and serve as a dinner side dish.
One of the most affordable meats in the market, chicken takes on a company look with this sauce. Instant rice completes the menu.
1 can chicken broth plus water
8 drumsticks, skin on or off as desired
1 small onion, finely diced
2 tablespoons minced garlic
1 tablespoon vegetable oil
1 cup ketchup
1/4 cup pancake syrup
1/4 cup orange liqueur, such as Triple Sec
2 tablespoons balsamic vinegar
2 cups instant rice
Add enough water to the broth to make 2 cups of liquid. Bring the drumsticks to a boil in the broth with the onion; cover; and simmer over low heat for 10 minutes. In a medium-size skillet, sizzle the garlic in hot oil until it’s fragrant, and stir in the remaining ingredients except the rice. Boil for two to three minutes, stirring often, to allow the sauce to thicken. Transfer the chicken to the grill. Turn often, mopping generously with the sauce, until the chicken tests done. Bring the broth to a hard boil; stir in the instant rice; cover; and let stand for five to seven minutes or until the broth is absorbed.
Variation: Stir 1½ cups of thawed peas into the boiling broth before adding the rice. You now have a starch plus a green vegetable.
All these ingredients can be carried in your pantry and freezer to make an emergency meal for six. Note that sausage crumbles are fully cooked when you buy them.
1 medium onion
1 tablespoon vegetable oil
1 cup meat or vegetarian cooked sausage crumbles
10-ounce can chunk chicken or turkey, broken up
1 package turkey dressing mix
9-inch deep-dish pie shell
2 eggs, beaten
In a roomy saucepan, stir-fry the onion in oil until it’s translucent. Stir in the sausage. Drain the chunk chicken or turkey and add the juice to the amount of water called for on the dressing mix package. Pour the liquid in a pan; bring to a boil; and add the dressing mix. Cover; turn off the heat; and let stand. Scatter the chicken or turkey in the bottom of the thawed pie shell. Quickly stir the beaten eggs into the dressing mixture and put into the pie shell, pressing to form a smooth layer. Bake at 375 degrees until the pie shell is golden brown and the filling is puffy. Let stand for five to 10 minutes; cut into six wedges; and serve.
Butter Baked Fruit
This is a starchier dish than the curried fruit recipe mentioned earlier, so you won’t need bread or potatoes with the meal. It’s sweet and sensational with chicken or ham from the grill. Make it with canned peaches, pears, apricots, and/or pears, perhaps with a few maraschino cherries for color. It also can be spritzed with whipped cream and served for dessert.
3 large cans fruit
1 box brown sugar
2 sleeves round buttery crackers, such as Ritz
2 sticks butter
Drain the fruit, saving the juices for another use. Put a layer of fruit in a 9-inch-by-13-inch casserole and sprinkle with brown sugar. Crumble the crackers and scatter over the fruit. Repeat layers. Melt the butter and drizzle over the final layer of cracker crumbs. Bake for an hour at 300 degrees.
Shove-In-Oven German Potato Salad
You’ll need approximately six cups of diced potatoes to make this salad, which can serve eight to 10 people. If you like, make it ahead of time and bake just before dinner. Baking time will be longer if the casserole has been refrigerated.
6 large potatoes, scrubbed and diced; or 5 to 6 cans diced potatoes, drained
8-ounce can mushroom bits and pieces, drained
1 tablespoon minced garlic
2 tablespoons vegetable oil
1 cup crumbled bacon bits (not imitation bacon)
1½ cups chicken broth
3 tablespoons cornstarch
1 tablespoon spicy brown mustard
1 tablespoon sugar or equivalent
If starting with fresh potatoes, cook in salted water and drain. Spray a 9-inch-by-13-inch casserole and fill with the potatoes. Sprinkle with the mushrooms. In a roomy skillet, cook the garlic in hot oil, gradually stirring in the bacon bits and 1 cup of broth. Stir the cornstarch into the 1/2-cup of broth with the mustard and sugar. Stir the cornstarch mixture into the skillet and cook until bubbly and thick. Pour over the potatoes, stirring to distribute the sauce evenly. Cover with foil and bake for 20 minutes at 375 degrees. To hold longer, remove the foil; reduce heat to 325 degrees; and add more chicken broth as needed to keep moist.
Gussied-Up Instant Mash
Instant mashed potatoes are a lifesaver, and this recipe disguises them beautifully.
12 servings instant mashed potatoes
16-ounce carton sour cream
1 cup real bacon bits
Grated cheese (optional)
In a large pan, prepare the potatoes according to package directions and stir in the sour cream and bacon. Cover the pan to keep hot and to allow the flavors to blend. Just before serving, sprinkle with chives and, if you wish, a handful of grated cheese.
Impromptu hosting tips
Here are more suggestions for taking a little of this and that to make a terrific meal.
“¢ To turn one or two steaks into a company meal, slice the meat paper-thin and make stir-fry, or cut it into chunks to make kebabs. Cut-up steak can be braised with mushrooms and served in cream sauce over noodles or rice.
“¢ Keep a can of cranberry sauce in the pantry to cheer up a poultry meal.
“¢ High-quality canned ham, the kind that must be refrigerated, makes an elegant emergency feast. During the final 10 minutes of baking, glaze it with orange, peach, or apricot marmalade.
“¢ A two-serving can of heat-and-eat New England clam chowder can be stretched to serve four by adding a well-drained can of diced potatoes, two cans of clams (including juices), and a small can of evaporated milk.
“¢ Extend your fresh produce by stir-frying it with canned vegetables. Start with a tablespoon of vegetable oil, a little minced garlic, and a diced onion. Stir-fry fresh pea pods, celery, zucchini, summer squash, broken asparagus, or whatever you have, then stir in well-drained canned veggies such as cut green beans, baby corn, and/or baby carrots.
“¢ Canned beets can be turned into Harvard beets or pickled beets. Or, cut up canned beets to extend a mixed-green salad.
“¢ Beef up small steaks, chops, or hamburger patties by putting a fried egg on top.
“¢ Keep small bags of nuts on hand to add life to a plain dish: slivered almonds atop canned green beans, butter-toasted pecans atop plain pudding, chopped hazelnuts tossed with buttered carrots, broken walnuts added to apple salad.
“¢ Baked beans stretch from here to Sunday. Just keep adding more cans of different beans (pinto, red, kidney, navy, cannellini) with extra ketchup, barbecue sauce, and molasses or brown sugar until you have enough.
“¢ Keep canned Vienna sausages on hand to stretch a small supply of hot dogs. Cut the sausages and hot dogs into inch-long chunks and alternate on skewers. You also can add pineapple or vegetables to the kebabs.
“¢ Soften a quart of a special ice cream (chunky cherry, butter pecan, coffee chocolate chip) and press into a graham cracker or cookie crust. Double wrap and freeze for up to three months. Bring it out for an emergency dessert and let stand 10 minutes before cutting.
“¢ Get more servings out of chili or stew by putting it in a casserole dish, topping with cornbread batter, and baking until the topping is firm.
“¢ Creamed chicken looks its company best when served in freshly made crepes.
“¢ Mix a quart of mayonnaise with 20 ounces of grated cheese. Add a minced onion if you like. Fill a cookie sheet with slices of bread topped with whatever sandwich makings you can scare up: sliced tomatoes, lunch meat, cooked seafood, steamed asparagus, sliced hard-cooked eggs, etc. Using two spoons, top each with the mayo mixture. Broil just until the topping is golden and bubbly. Watch it carefully! It burns easily.
“¢ Make candied sweet potatoes using canned sweet potatoes, butter, and brown sugar.
“¢ Fully cooked roasts in the supermarket have use-by dates printed on the packaging and can be kept on hand as indicated. Put a cooked pot roast with its juices in a casserole and surround it with canned whole potatoes and whole onions (sometimes called Holland onions) from a jar. Scatter 1 cup of stuffed olives. Pour an 8-ounce bottle of French dressing over it all and bake at 350 degrees for 30 minutes or until everything is heated through. Remove the roast to a cutting board; slice; and serve with the remaining ingredients and sauce.