Cooking on the Go
By Janet Groene, F47166
Whether you’re wintering in the Sunbelt or using your motorhome for ski trips and snowshoe hiking, winter appetites call for heartier meals. Here are recipes that are kind to the cook, filled with homemade goodness, and easy on the cleanup crew.
Sweet Potato Puff
Eggs turn this into a creamier, more substantial side dish than sweet potatoes alone. Serve it with meat or as a vegetarian main dish.
2 18-ounce cans sweet potatoes, drained
1 stick butter
1/4 cup brown sugar
½ cup milk
1/3 cup brown sugar
3 tablespoons flour
½ cup chopped pecans
Put the sweet potatoes in a greased, 9-inch-by-13-inch casserole. In a microwavable container, heat a half-stick of butter and the sugar for a few seconds until the butter melts. Whisk the milk in to cool the mixture, then whisk in the eggs. Beat well. Pour over the sweet potatoes and mash coarsely. Using two knives (scissors-style) or a pastry blender, cut the other half-stick of butter and the remaining 1/3-cup of brown sugar into the flour. Mix in the pecans. Scatter over the sweet potatoes and bake at 350 degrees for 40 to 50 minutes until the filling is set and topping is golden brown. This recipe serves six to eight people as a side dish.
Cheatin’ Chicken Chili Soup
It’s cheating to use only canned foods and come up with a soup this good. It puts a kick in a simple sandwich meal.
2 cans condensed cream of chicken soup
2 soup cans milk
4-ounce can diced green chilies
Soy sauce or sherry
Hot sauce (optional)
Whisk the soup and milk together over low heat and stir in the chilies with their juice. Ladle the soup into mugs or soup bowls, and add a few drops of soy sauce or sherry. Pass the hot sauce.
The beauty of canned salmon is that it keeps on your pantry shelf for months. Bring it out to make dishes such as this one.
16-ounce can salmon
1 cup boiling water*
2 chicken- or fish-flavored bouillon cubes
2 cups seasoned croutons
2 eggs, beaten
1 teaspoon prepared mustard
Grated cheddar cheese
Drain the salmon* and discard any dark skin. Remove the bones or mash finely (they’re a good source of calcium). Dissolve the bouillon in hot water. Stir in the croutons, beaten eggs, mustard, and salmon. Put in a small, greased loaf pan and bake at 350 degrees for 35 to 45 minutes or until the loaf is firm. Allow the loaf to cool for five minutes; turn out; cut into four portions; and top each with a tuft of grated cheese. Serve at once. Complete the meal with mixed vegetables and a salad.
* Salmon juice can be used as part of the water measurement if you like. If you choose to do this, use only one bouillon cube.
Smokin’ Hot Smoked Oyster Dip
While your guests wait for dinner, serve up this warming dip. Add as much hot pepper sauce as you dare. Regular, light, or fat-free sour cream can be used.
1 cup mayonnaise
1 cup sour cream
1 packet dry vegetable soup mix (preferably Knorr)
2 to 4 drops hot pepper sauce (more to taste)
3- to 4-ounce can smoked oysters, drained
Minced fresh herbs (optional)
Whisk together the mayonnaise and sour cream, and stir in the soup mix and hot pepper sauce. Refrigerate the mixture for six to eight hours, until the soup mix has softened. Spread the dip on crackers and top each with a smoked oyster. If you like, sprinkle with a little minced parsley, cilantro, chive, or fresh dill.
Chicken Curry On The Sweet Side
Make a big batch of this curry in your slow cooker, pressure cooker, or saucepan and serve it to a crowd; or freeze it in smaller portions. Serve the curry over cooked rice. This recipe makes 10 to 12 servings if the thighs are large, or five to six servings of two smaller thighs each.
10 to 12 meaty chicken thighs, skin removed
2 tablespoons curry powder
8-ounce can tomato sauce
1/4 cup honey mustard
1 bunch scallions, finely chopped, including the dark green parts
1/3 cup raisins
1 large celery stalk, diced
1/3 cup brown sugar
Put everything but the brown sugar in a large, resealable plastic bag and knead the bag to coat the chicken. In a large pot or skillet, melt the brown sugar and dump in the chicken mixture. Rinse out the bag with a few tablespoons of water and add to the pot. Mix well; cover; and cook on very low heat for one hour, stirring every 20 minutes. Serve over rice.
Slow-cooker method: proceed as above and cook on high for three to four hours or on low for six to eight hours. Stirring isn’t necessary.
Pressure-cooker method: mix as described and cook at full pressure for 20 minutes.
Vegetarian Soy Milk Millet Soup
Make your own vegetable broth or buy it in cans or cartons. You also can substitute four vegetable bouillon cubes and four cups of water. Tofu is use-by dated and keeps many days in your refrigerator.
2 tablespoons canola oil
1 large onion, diced
1 large carrot, finely diced
1 tablespoon minced garlic
½ cup millet
1 quart vegetable broth
8 ounces firm tofu, diced
1 cup water or soy milk
1 tablespoon freeze-dried parsley
1 tablespoon freeze-dried chives
1/2 teaspoon dried tarragon
1/2 teaspoon dried dillweed
1/2 teaspoon oregano
Salt, pepper to taste
In a roomy saucepan, heat the oil and stir-fry the onion, carrot, garlic, and millet until the vegetables wilt. Do not brown. Stir in the broth; cover; and simmer for 10 minutes until the vegetables and millet are tender. Stir in the tofu, water or soy milk, and herbs. Heat through. Adjust the seasonings and ladle into soup bowls. This recipe makes approximately six cups of soup.
Pizza A La Chicken Alfredo
Take a break from tomato-based pizza and serve this creamy dish.
14-inch fully baked pizza shell, thick or thin as preferred
8-ounce package fully cooked chicken bites
8-ounce can sliced mushrooms, drained
1 teaspoon Italian blend seasoning
1/3 cup grated Parmesan cheese
1/3 cup whipping cream
6-ounce package mozzarella cheese
Put the pizza shell on your favorite pizza pan and arrange the chicken bites and mushrooms evenly. Sprinkle with seasoning. In a small bowl, whisk together the Parmesan cheese, egg, and cream until well-mixed, and quickly drizzle over the pizza to within ½-inch of the sides. Cover with mozzarella and bake at 450 degrees until heated through and bubbly. This recipe makes four servings.
Let this cook all day in the slow cooker and you’ll have a creamy seafood feast for four to six people. If you use unsalted crackers, you may want to add a little salt to the eggs. To crush saltines, put them in a plastic bag and press the bag with a rolling pin or glass bottle.
3 7-ounce cans minced clams with their juice*
½ stick butter, melted
1 small onion, finely minced
1 tablespoon dried chives
1 tablespoon dried parsley
20 individual saltine squares, crushed coarsely
In a mixing bowl, whisk the eggs until frothy and stir in the remaining ingredients. Put in a greased slow cooker and cook for five to six hours on low. Spoon onto serving plates and complete the menu with steamed peas and pickled beets.
* I recommend draining the juice through a tea strainer to catch any bits of shell.
Cook by remote control. Community kitchens such as My Girlfriend’s Kitchen are popping up all over the country. Stop at any location, create your own ready-to-heat meals for today or all week, and you’ll have no mess in your motorhome. Prices are comparable to eating in midpriced restaurants, but by making your own meals you can fine-tune ingredients to accommodate diets or allergies. Look into this unusual new service at www.mygirlfriendskitchen.com or call (856) 232-8808.
FoodCuber. Picture lidded ice cube trays with holes sized to hold eight ½-cup portions, four 1-cup portions, or two 2-cup portions. The FoodCuber allows you to freeze foods for future trips in perfectly portioned servings. Frozen food can be removed from the flexible plastic containers and then repacked in freezer bags, so the FoodCuber can freeze more batches of desserts, baby food, soups, stews, or chili. A set of all three sizes of FoodCubers costs less than $20 at kitchen supply shops or at www.foodcuber.com.
Books for cooks. Brian Yarvin traveled the world collecting recipes for the little filled pockets and pies we call wontons, dumplings, piroshkis, or samosas. They may be steamed, boiled, or fried, but they are all delightful bites bursting with goodness. A World of Dumplings ($21.95, The Countryman Press) will provide hours of cooking inspiration as well as campground fun. Making dumplings can be a team effort for two or more. The more, the merrier. Color illustrations are a big help in shaping, filling, and presenting the dumplings. The book is divided according to nations, so it’s also fun just to read it.
If you love comfort food but aren’t comfortable in the kitchen, author Leslie Bilderback has welcome help for you in her new book, The Complete Idiot’s Guide to Comfort Food ($16.95, Alpha Books). Make chicken pot pie, macaroni and cheese, fluffy scrambled eggs, lasagna, and dozens of other recipes with her step-by-step directions and great tips. It’s like cooking with Mom at your side. There are plenty of recipes here for experienced cooks, too, and the insider tips from Leslie, who is a professional chef, are a help to both newbies and experts.
If you love truffles but don’t want to buy these prized fungi, which sell for up to $500 per pound, there’s good news for you. Three avid outdoorsmen discovered that North America is full of truffles, and they tell you how to find, identify, and harvest them. A Field Guide to North American Truffles ($16.95, Ten Speed Press) is a pocket-sized handbook that belongs on every forager’s bookshelf. It’s filled with color illustrations and helpful advice.
Combination ovens made clear. Some readers are still puzzled about using their combination microwave-convection oven with my recipes. Experimentation is always needed with a new recipe or new appliance, whether it’s gas, induction, ceramic, or infrared. Microwave ovens produce a different result than when the same dish is baked in a conventional or Dutch oven.
To prepare a dish in the microwave oven, use the manufacturer’s instruction book or any general microwave cookbook. Convection is just a fancy word for the movement of hot air. In convection mode, your combination oven works much like any electric oven, although a fan helps air circulate better. Use trial runs to see how evenly it bakes and how long it takes to preheat.
It’s in combination mode that things get confusing. I don’t give combination instructions in my recipes, because manufacturers use different terminology. The only guide that makes sense is your own oven’s instruction manual or a recipe written for that brand of oven. I recommend Janet Sadlack’s Easy Microwave-Convection Cooking cookbook if you have a GE or Sharp combo oven. She’s also happy to “translate” recipes for those who have other brands. Go to www.microwaveconnect.com or call (800) 784-0573.