08 Mar

Make-Ahead Meals for RV Vacations

Folks in the RVFTA community are gearing up for their spring trips, and many have been asking for make-ahead meal options. Sure, we all love cooking over the campfire and on the grill, but it’s also a great idea to bring along some ready-made meals.

Listeners were giving some great meal suggestions over on our RVFTA Facebook group, and it inspired me to share three of my easy-peasy favorites.

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20 Nov

Thanksgiving at the Campground: Corn Casserole, InstaPot Mashed Potatoes, and Apple Slaw

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In this series of blog posts, I am sharing my family recipes for enjoying Thanksgiving dinner at the campground. There are so many ways to bring festive holiday cheer on the road, and this year I am focusing on dishes that offer those classic Thanksgiving flavors, but can be made mostly in advance and with minimal fuss.

You can also check out my posts on Turkey and Stuffing Sandwiches and Pumpkin Bread Cupcakes with Cream Cheese Frosting.

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15 Nov

Thanksgiving at the Campground: Pumpkin Bread Cupcakes with Cream Cheese Frosting

img_7813 In this series of blog posts, I’m sharing my personal recipes for simple menu items that can be made ahead of a holiday RV trip, but still hit all of the classic holiday tastes that we crave in a Thanksgiving meal.

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Pumpkin Bread Cupcakes with Cream Cheese Frosting

I first started making these cupcakes when we would visit my grandmother on the Friday after Thanksgiving. Everyone already had their fair share of pie on Thursday, so I wanted to bring something festive but different. So I turned my mother’s classic pumpkin bread into a cupcake and topped it with cream cheese frosting and chopped walnuts. These turned out to be one of my grandmother’s favorite desserts, and I think of her every time I make them.

This recipe traditionally makes 2 loaves of pumpkin bread, which translates into about 2 dozen cupcakes. To be honest, I usually make one loaf of bread and 1 dozen cupcakes. To be even more honest, the bread makes a yummy breakfast option as well…

Pumpkin Bread Cupcakes

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12 Oct

Recipe of the Week: Julie’s Michigan Sauce

Michigan hotdog

We are huge fans of Jane and Michael Stern’s Roadfood book, a wonderful collection of American roadside restaurant recommendations. No matter where we are traveling, we always consult the book before we leave to see if there are any gems in the region to which we are heading.

Before we took off for Lake Placid last month, we cracked open Roadfood and found that every Adirondack entry referenced the “Michigans” on the menu.

A Michigan? What’s a Michigan?

So glad you asked.

First things first. A Michigan is not from Michigan. It is a dish unique to upstate New York although different versions with different names are found all over the country. Legend has it that a couple who owned The Michigan Hot Dog Stand in Plattsburgh, New York were trying to recreate the Coney Dog when they first introduced it to their menu.

This is the kind of recipe where everything get thrown in the big pan and then you cook it down for as long as it takes, or as long as you have. Here are the ingredients for Julie’s Michigan Sauce:

  • 2 pounds ground meat
  • 4 cups ketchup
  • 2 chopped onions (some reserved for toppings)
  • 8 tablespoons butter
  • 8 tablespoons vinegar
  • 8 tablespoons brown sugar
  • 12 tablespoons Worcester sauce
  • salt and pepper to taste
  • 3 tablespoons brown mustard

After browning and draining the meat, add the remaining ingredients and stir until incorporated. Cook at a simmer until the sauce has the consistency of a chili or sloppy joe.

Serve over a hotdog in a bun. Traditionally the hotdogs would be boiled (dirty water dogs!), but grilled ones work just as well and might be preferred by some. Top with chopped onions and extra mustard if desired.

Eat up and go back for seconds.

Thanks to Julie Grundon, manager of the Lake Placid/Whiteface Mountain for not only making us this yummy dish, but sharing her recipe as well. She was definitely the hostess with the most-ess. 

To learn more about our visit to the Lake Placid/Whiteface Mountain KOA, read our article here or listen to podcast episode #57: Greetings From Lake Placid.

13 Oct

What’s for Breakfast? 3 Easy RV Alternatives to Pancakes

Last week on Episode 3 of the RV Family Travel Atlas, we talked about how our mornings at the campground have changed over the years. We used to feel like authentic camping days had to begin with eggs, bacon, and pancakes.

Breakfast

But we soon realized that we liked to get out and about early, and we didn’t like the weight of a heavy breakfast dragging us down. So we adjusted our habits a bit and started eating things like yogurt, oatmeal, and peanut butter toast.

Over time I’ve added some breakfast menu items that have eventually turned into family favorites. Two of them, oatmeal bars and an egg casserole, can be made ahead of time and frozen. The other one, a smoothie, can be prepared in about 4 minutes flat.

Ham and Egg Casserole

I have been making this delicious dish for about 15 years now. It started out as something I would trot out for brunches and visiting house guests. After awhile it turned into our Christmas and Easter breakfast, perfect since it could be made the night before and required no effort in the kitchen on a busy holiday morning.

I have been trying to make better use of my RV oven, and recently it occurred to me that this would be a delicious campground breakfast, easy to make ahead, freeze, and then bake on demand. Here is the amazingly simple (and delicious!) recipe…

Ingredients:

Ham Steak cubed (I use Wegman’s 14 oz package, but the amount is flexible and to taste)

6 eggs

1 cup milk

1 tsp salt

1 cup grated cheese (we like a sharp cheddar)

1 loaf of Pepperidge Farm White Bread

Directions:

1. Beat together eggs, milk, and salt.

2. Cube the loaf of bread and spread out evenly in a greased casserole dish.  Place cubed ham over bread.

3. Pour the egg mixture over the bread and sprinkle the cheese on top.

4. Cover with plastic wrap and foil and freeze until ready to use.

5. I take the casserole out of the freezer the night before and then bake in a 375 degree oven for 40 minutes or until the egg looks set.

Serve hot out of the oven with fresh fruit. Leftovers reheat well.

Oatmeal On The Go Bars

Oatmeal Bars

A friend of mine shared this recipe from Weelicious.com and it has become a family favorite. I love that these oatmeal bars can be made ahead of time, baked,cooled, and frozen. I also love that you can basically add any assortment of fruits, nuts, and seeds to mix things up a bit.

My standby is cranberries and walnuts, but the boys often convince me to add in some chocolate chips. Last time I chopped up some dried pineapple and everyone loved the new Caribbean flavor.

Visit the Weelicious.com website for the recipe.

Smoothies

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Look, I know a lot of people get all creative with their smoothies and that’s great. But my boys are happiest when I keep the flavor profile simple. They used to fall for that ‘hide the green stuff‘ nonsense, but not anymore.

It took me a little while to realize the value in bringing the blender on the road, but now I wouldn’t leave home without it. Here is what I throw in for the fastest road breakfast possible…

1. 1/2 quart plain Stonyfield yogurt and 1/2 quart vanilla Stonyfield yogurt

2. 3 bananas

3. fresh strawberries, blueberries, and raspberries

4. Mix, place in Foogo Stainless Steel Straw Bottle, and relax. Breakfast is served.

I am always up for new ideas, so if you have any simple, make ahead breakfasts, please share below. We are definitely in the market for next season’s family favorites…

17 Jul

Campground Shrimp Boil: An Easy Summer Dinner for a Crowd

While planning our trip to Cape Cod, I was lucky to connect with a dear friend from childhood. When Simone found out where we would be staying in Eastham, she booked a nearby campsite with her family, and they drove out from the Boston area to meet us.

I had invited them over to have dinner at our campsite one night, and I realized I needed to pick a meal that was easy to make so I could spend as much time with Simone and her family as possible. I also needed to pick something that could feed a crowd since I would be cooking for 13 people.

Immediately I knew I would do a Shrimp Boil, my go-to meal for easy entertaining in the summer. I make this dish often at home, and the recipe I used in Cape Cod is by no means original. There are many different versions, but my favorite is this one from the Food Network.

Why does this make a great camping dinner?

  •    Everything is cooked in one pot. (I use my outdoor kitchen stovetop)
  •    The ingredients are simple. (No long list of items that you don’t keep in your RV)
  •    The food is best eaten with one’s hands. (Fewer dishes equals more happy)

What will you need in the kitchen? (For those of us who don’t keep much in our campers)

  • A large stock pot
  • A good knife and cutting board
  • Slotted Spoon and Ladle
  • Colander
  • Large serving platter (if you don’t normally keep one in your RV, one of those large disposable foil trays will do just fine.)

How do you make a Shrimp Boil?

I eyeball everything in this recipe (no measuring) and it always comes out great. I also increase or decrease the amount of shrimp, potatoes, and corn depending on how many are eating.

1. Fill your large stock pot with 4 quarts of water. Cut two lemons in half, squeeze in the juice, then throw the lemons in the water with 1/2 cup of Old Bay, 8 crushed garlic cloves, one quartered red onion, and a bunch of sprigs of thyme. Bring it to a boil and let it cook for 5 minutes.

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2. Throw in a pound of baby potatoes and cook for 10 minutes.

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3. Throw in your corn on the cob, shucked and broken in half, and cook for 5 minutes.

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4. Throw in your pound of shrimp (I also use much more!), and cook for 2 minutes.

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5. Put a few tablespoons of butter in the bottom of your serving dish and place a few ladles of your cooking stock over it. Mix it together so the butter melts.

6. Drain everything from your stock pot in your colander and place the corn, potatoes, and shrimp in your serving dish. Mix with the butter sauce.

7. Dive in!

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I usually serve this meal with grilled clams and watermelon, extra melted butter, hot sauce and slices of lemon.

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If you have some none seafood eaters, you could easily throw a steak or chicken on the grill alongside the clams to make everybody happy.

Let us know if you try it!

Happy camping. Happy Eating.

 

 

26 Sep

Campfire Cuisine Giveaway (You can use this in the regular kitchen,too)

A few weeks ago Stephanie reviewed a cookbook that she really loved called Campfire Cuisine published by the adventurous Quirk Books.  She found the recipes to be excellent both for camping and for home.  Here is a quote from her review:

Campfire Cuisine doesn’t just appeal to me as a ‘camper’, it also serves as a great resource for weekday meal planning. Even if you are not now (or ever!) heading out in the RV, you could use the make ahead tips for the nights you have to get dinner on the table fast.

I reached out to Quirk Books last night and asked them if they would “cough up” a free copy of Campfire Cuisine for our dear readers.  Their response?
 Sure! How’s about… five copies? :-).”
So here’s how we’re rolling this time.  Like us on Facebook to enter the drawing.  If you have already liked us (Thank you so much!) then simply like the post about the giveaway.
We will assemble our crack security team again next Wednesday night immediately before story time to pick not one, but FIVE winners of a complimentary copy of Campfire Cuisine.  Many thanks to Quirk Books.
 
Good Luck and God Speed.
11 Sep

Campfire Cuisine, by Robin Donovan (this is for you kitchen dwellers, too)

Honestly, I rolled my eyes when my husband handed me this book.

Four years ago, when we first started camping with the boys, I did a little research on ‘camping’ recipes. It wasn’t like I was planning on cooking over the campfire or anything…two babies on a campsite kept us busy enough without having to worry about open flames and charred meat. I was just looking for some tips for planning simple meals that traveled well.

I quickly found out that if you search for camping recipes you basically find recipes for stews or a combination of ingredients to throw in a foil packet. Neither of these categories sucked me in, so over the past three years I have developed my own way of meal planning for the road: I throw meat into marinades before we leave and then later grill it with lots of vegetables and fruit, I put everything over a salad, and I throw in a couple of crockpot favorites like pulled pork and white chili. In short, tasty yet uninspiring. I mean, I’m not impressing anyone here. I’m just serving solid, fresh, tasty food. Good, not brilliant.

Well, Campfire Cuisine inspired me to kick it up a notch this past summer. When I was skimming the recipes, I found myself wanting to try things for our everyday table, not just on the road. There is Indian-Styled Yogurt Chicken and Lentil Salad with Goat Cheese and Basil. There is a Jambalaya in lieu of the boring old stew, and Barbecued Peking Duck Wraps to replace your campfire fajitas. The book manages to offer up its ‘gourmet recipes’ without being obnoxious or ridiculous. You can actually skim these recipes and think, sure…we can do that.

For many of the recipes the author offers make ahead tips and prepping advice. The more I used the book, the more it reminded me of those 30-minute meal books, only with really great ingredients and imaginative recipes for people who like to eat well while camping.

My favorite things so far are the “Make-Ahead Mulitpurpose Baking Mix” which serves up thick, hardy pancakes or flavorful biscuits, and the various spice rubs which can be made ahead in plastic baggies and thrown on whatever cuts of meat you might happen upon on the road.

Campfire Cuisine doesn’t just appeal to me as a ‘camper’, it also serves as a great resource for weekday meal planning. Even if you are not now (or ever!) heading out in the RV, you could use the make ahead tips for the nights you have to get dinner on the table fast.

I’m certainly not one to want to be gazing at a recipe when I’m at a campsite with my family. But this book definitely tempts me to try new things even with three kids under four.

And that’s saying something.