Give these timesaving meals a try when you’d rather be outdoors than in the galley.
By Janet Groene, F471666
With a smart shopping list and strategic planning, you can have most of these main dishes on the table within 15 to 30 minutes after hooking up at your campsite. To make dishes speedier, keep batches of precooked ground beef or turkey on hand, plus other fully cooked meats, such as deli cold cuts, rotisserie chicken, smoked sausages, ham, and canned or pouch-packed meats.
Thanks to FMCA member Shirley Wooten for this quick and flavorful microwave main dish. Shirley doesn’t specify serving sizes, but I find it makes three medium-size servings. 3/4 pound shrimp, fresh or frozen, thawed, deveined, and peeled
2 slices bacon, chopped
3/4 cup green pepper, chopped
1/4 cup onion, chopped
1 16-ounce can peeled, cut tomatoes, drained
1 cup cooked rice
1/4 teaspoon thyme
1/8 teaspoon hot pepper sauce (or more to taste)
3/4 teaspoon salt
1/8 teaspoon black pepper
If the shrimp are large, cut them in half. In a two-quart casserole, combine the bacon, green pepper, and onion. Cover and cook on high for 4 to 5 minutes. Add the tomatoes, rice, shrimp, and seasonings and stir. Cover, venting a little, and cook on high for 5 minutes. Stir and cook another 5 minutes. Let stand for 2 minutes before serving.
Halibut On A Bed Of Brown Rice
4 portions halibut
Olive oil spray
4 portions instant brown rice
3 plum tomatoes, diced
½ cup parsley, snipped
2 scallions, white and light green only
1/3 cup olive oil vinaigrette dressing
Start the grill or broiler and set to high heat. Pat the halibut dry and spray with olive oil. Prepare the brown rice according to package directions. Cover and set the rice aside while you chop the vegetables. Sprinkle the halibut with seasoned salt and cook until it tests done. Fold the tomatoes, parsley, scallions, and vinaigrette into the rice. Place a bed of the rice mixture on plates and top with a piece of halibut. Garnish with a lemon wedge. To complete the menu, serve deli coleslaw on the side and dessert kabobs made with colorful fresh fruit.
4 whole-wheat pita breads
1 tablespoon canola oil
1 pound ground meat
2 teaspoons Italian seasoning
1 tablespoon minced garlic
1 medium head of hearts-of-romaine lettuce, shredded
1 cup plum tomatoes, chopped and drained
1 cup cucumber, chopped and seeded
3/4 cup plain yogurt
Wrap the pitas loosely in waxed paper for warming in the microwave oven and set aside. Fry the ground meat in hot oil, gradually stirring in the salt, pepper, Italian seasoning, and garlic. While the meat cooks, shred the lettuce and chop the tomatoes and cucumber. Just before serving, stir the tomatoes and cucumber into the yogurt. Heat the pitas; top with the shredded lettuce and hot ground meat; then sauce with the yogurt. Eat with a knife and fork or pick up, fold, and eat as you would a taco. This recipe makes four servings. Defrost a lemon cream pie for dessert.
Popeye Potato Soup
6 servings instant mashed potatoes
1 16-ounce package frozen creamed spinach, thawed
1 32-ounce carton chicken broth
Sour cream (optional)
Herbed croutons (optional)
In a roomy saucepan, make up the mashed potatoes according to package directions. Stir in the creamed spinach and, while continuing to stir over medium heat, add the chicken broth until the soup reaches the desired thickness. Heat through. Garnish, if you like, with a dollop of sour cream and a sprinkle of croutons. This recipe makes six main-dish servings. Complete the menu with carrot slaw, corn muffins, and caramel-dipped graham cracker cookies with canned pears for dessert.
Sweet Potato Scrimmage
2 large sweet potatoes, peeled and diced
1 tablespoon canola oil
2 packed cups packaged shredded cabbage
1 12-ounce package deli ham, cut in strips
1 5-ounce package baby spinach
1/3 cup bottled sweet-and-sour salad dressing
In a large nonstick skillet, stir-fry the sweet potatoes in hot oil, gradually stirring in the cabbage and ham. Cover and cook over low heat for 6 to 8 minutes or until the sweet potatoes and cabbage are tender. Uncover; increase the heat; and stir in the spinach, cooking just until it becomes limp. Stir in the dressing and serve at once. This recipe makes four servings and goes well with crisp sesame breadsticks and fruit salad.
Hotshot Potato Salad
If you like German-style potato salad, here is a speedy version to throw together while the meat sizzles on the grill. Real bacon crumbles come in plastic bags, jars, or cans, so it’s easy to keep some on hand.
3 15 1/2-ounce cans sliced potatoes
3 tablespoons olive oil
1 medium onion, diced
½ cup bacon, cooked and crumbled
½ teaspoon celery seed
1/4 cup vinegar
1/4 cup water
2 tablespoons cornstarch
1 tablespoon sugar
Salt, pepper to taste
Drain, rinse, and drain the potatoes well. Heat the olive oil in a pan and cook the onion until it’s crisp-tender, gradually stirring in the potatoes and bacon. Add the celery seed. Reduce heat; cover; and let the flavors blend. In a bowl stir together the vinegar, water, cornstarch, and sugar and add to the potatoes. Stir over medium heat until the mixture thickens, adding more water if necessary. Adjust the seasonings to taste. Serve at once with grilled brats, lettuce salad, and German chocolate cake for dessert.
Piquant Black-Eyed Peas
Make this vegetarian main dish to serve cold on a hot night. Complete the meal with halved, hard-cooked eggs, little gherkin pickles, and crisp breadsticks.
4 15 1/2-ounce cans black-eyed peas
1 cup bottled red wine vinaigrette dressing
1 medium sweet onion, diced
1 medium green bell pepper, diced
1 medium red sweet pepper, diced
1 cup parsley, snipped
Salt, pepper to taste
Drain, rinse, and drain the black-eyed peas well. Toss lightly with the other ingredients. Adjust the seasonings to taste. Serve with a draining spoon. This recipe makes four or five servings as a main dish and up to 10 servings as a side dish.
Grilled Orange Chicken Fingers
Once the grill is hot and the chicken has marinated, this heart-healthy recipe cooks in only 2 to 3 minutes per side. It’s from the Eating Well for a Healthy Heart Cookbook (see Books For Cooks). The chicken is easier to cut in strips if it’s partially frozen.
1 pound boneless, skinless chicken breasts, trimmed
1 ½ tablespoons Dijon mustard
1 ½ tablespoons frozen orange juice concentrate, thawed
1 ½ tablespoons honey
1 teaspoon sesame oil
½ teaspoon freshly ground pepper
Salt to taste
Cut the chicken breasts crosswise in 3/4-inch-wide strips. Whisk the mustard, orange juice concentrate, honey, sesame oil, and pepper in a medium bowl until smooth. Add the chicken and toss to coat. Cover and refrigerate for 15 minutes. Prepare the grill or broiler by lightly applying cooking oil to the grill rack or coating it with cooking spray. Remove the chicken strips from the marinade, discarding the marinade. Grill the chicken until it is no longer pink in the center, which should take approximately 2 to 3 minutes per side. Season with salt and serve. This recipe makes four servings.
Fruit Cocktail Cake
After your quickie meal, have this quickie dessert, sent via e-mail by Patsy Lowe. The recipe has been around for years, and in the version that appeared in my first cookbook, Cooking on the Go, it called for a 16-ounce can of fruit cocktail including juice. Different versions have different textures. This one is a moist, pudding-like cake that should be refrigerated after the first day, especially if the weather is hot and humid. No frosting is needed, Patsy wrote.
1 cup flour
1 cup sugar
1 teaspoon baking soda
½ teaspoon salt
1 29-ounce can of fruit cocktail
1 teaspoon vanilla
Drain the fruit well. Mix together the dry ingredients and fold in the drained fruit with the vanilla. The batter will be dry, Patsy wrote. Bake the cake at 325 degrees for 45 minutes or until it is firm and springy to the touch. The leftover juice is delicious in fruit punch.
Books For Cooks
Have you noticed that more recipes these days are calling for new cuts of meat with names you haven’t heard before? A new book titled The New Steak: Recipes for a Range of Cuts plus Savory Sides ($19.95, Ten Speed Press) demystifies hangar, flatiron, skirt, and blade steaks. The recipes included are scrumptious and the photography inspiring. Also included are recipes for ground steaks and for savory side dishes. Carnivores who cook indoors or out will love the new directions this book takes.
Another recipe book featuring meat tells the story of the Niman Ranch. While other ranchers were dosing their herds with antibiotics and drugs, Bill Niman’s love for the land and humanity led him to develop the best ways to produce more healthful, tasty meats for his kitchen. The Niman Ranch Cookbook: From Farm to Table with America’s Finest Meat ($24.95, Ten Speed Press) can be enjoyed by casual readers, foodies, environmentalists, and anyone who has ever yearned to have a ranch. Gourmets will love the made-from-scratch recipes, which are beautifully illustrated. This is a book for armchair reading as well as for the cookbook shelf.
Rick Browne has gone international in his tireless search for barbecue. His new book, The Best Barbecue on Earth: Grilling Across 6 Continents and 26 Countries, With 170 Recipes ($22.95, Ten Speed Press), is a fiesta for both readers and cooks. Travel with Rick from country to country. Mix and match, serving his Stilton-stuffed mushrooms from England with Beef Bulgogi from Korea and Portuguese Beans culled from old family recipes in Portugal. The beautifully illustrated book is the perfect gift for your favorite barbecue chef, and its extra-sturdy paper binding should stand up to years of cooking on the go.
The heart never takes a holiday, so the Eating Well for a Healthy Heart Cookbook: A Cardiologist’s Guide to Adding Years to Your Life (Countryman Press, $24.95) should go on the road with you as a guide to heart-healthy meals. Comfort food recipes are familiar and delicious (meatloaf, pies, burgers, chicken a la king), using low-fat and low-sodium ingredients. People who count calories and grams of sodium, carbohydrates, fats, protein, and so on will appreciate the nutritional breakdown given for each recipe. However, it’s important to note the serving sizes. For example, the Athenian Pasta Primavera has 305 calories and 51 grams of carbs only if you divide the recipe into eight servings. The hardcover book, which has a colorful jacket and mouthwatering illustrations, is written by cardiologist Philip A. Ades.
Gillian Clark’s life took an unexpected turn when she found herself Out of the Frying Pan: A Chef’s Memoir of Hot Kitchens, Single Motherhood, and the Family Meal ($23.95, Thomas Dunne Books). Her warm, readable memoir-cookbook is filled with recipes to inspire cooks who love to put a family meal on the table. You may have listened to Ms. Clark on National Public Radio; now read her story and try her meatloaf, tuna salad sandwiches, and other family favorites.