Monthly Archives: March 2017

A Tale of Two Casseroles

Today we’re offering a two-fer! Two recipes for the price of one!

The church we attend has a monthly Faith Sharing Breakfast. It’s simply a time to gather as a congregation and share a meal and conversation with one another.

Sometimes, the tables can fill pretty quickly and you end up sitting next to someone you either don’t know or haven’t seen in a while, and it’s an opportunity to make a new friend or catch up. They are a lot of fun.

Well, I’m on the committee and I help plan them and I volunteer to cook something each month. Surprising, I know!

Last month, I volunteered to make two breakfast casseroles (in scouting circles we call them catastrophes). I used the same recipe for both; however, for one I decided to go with a country sausage and for the other I used a hot Italian sausage. Both were a hit.

This is a simple way of adding variety when you’re cooking for a crowd. It’s also a way to cook for different dietary needs or heat levels. For example, my daughter doesn’t like heat so, of course, she went for the mild country sausage version. My son, when it comes to heat, always says, “Bring it!” so, of course, he went for the hot Italian sausage version.

The best part was watching this little elderly lady go through the line. She read the description on my hot Italian sausage version, placed a dainty spoonful onto her plate, thought about it, and then doubled down and took a second more generous spoonful. She didn’t regret that decision and thoroughly enjoyed her breakfast.

When you’re cooking for a small crowd, instead of making a lot of the same dish, try making a couple of different dishes or variations of the same dish. It adds variety and is a great way to cater to different needs whether they be heat tolerance or vegetarian or gluten or dairy. Like the two catastrophes, simply changing one ingredient can radically alter the dish.

This is a simple breakfast with just a few ingredients. It goes together very quickly. The meat could be cooked ahead of time and brought to camp in your cooler. I also use the carton of liquid eggs or I scramble them at home and pour them into a bottle for transport to camp. In camp, when it’s time to make breakfast, it’s just some assembly required.

This would make a great Sunday morning breakfast if you foil-lined your Dutch oven. Everything gets dumped into the oven, toss it together like tossing a salad, pour on the eggs, and get it on the coals. When I mixed this together, I put on food handlers’ gloves and mixed it with my hands. It was so easy.

Equipment
12-inch Dutch oven or 9×13 casserole dish, large bowl, whisk.

Ingredients
2 pounds sausage (breakfast, hot or mild)
1 (30-32oz) bag of frozen tater tots
1 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon pepper
1/4 teaspoon garlic powder
1/4 teaspoon onion powder
2 cups shredded cheddar cheese
8 eggs
2 cups milk

If You’re Prepping at Home
In a large skillet on medium heat, add a little olive oil and brown the sausage until no longer pink. Drain off the excess fat, cool, and load into a releasable plastic bag or a container for transport to camp. In camp, foil-line the Dutch oven and grease the foil. Start 25 coals. Add the tator tots, cooked sausage and cheese to the Dutch oven and toss together. In a large bowl, whisk together eggs, salt, pepper, garlic powder, onion powder and milk. Pour over the tator tot mixture and bake (see baking instructions below).

If You’re Prepping in Camp
On coals or on a propane stove, over medium heat, add a little olive oil to your Dutch oven and brown the sausage until no longer pink. Remove from heat. Spoon out the sausage into a large bowl. Drain the excess fat from the Dutch oven and set aside. Start 25 coals. To the sausage bowl, add the tator tots and cheese and toss together like a salad. Pour into the Dutch oven. In the same bowl, whisk together eggs, salt, pepper, garlic powder, onion powder and milk. Pour over tater tot mixture and bake (see baking instructions below).

If You’re Making at Home
In a large skillet on medium heat, add a little olive oil and brown the sausage until no longer pink. Drain off the excess fat, cool, and load into a greased 9×13 casserole dish. Add the tator tots and cheese and toss together like a salad. In a large bowl, whisk together eggs, salt, pepper, garlic powder, onion powder and milk. Pour over the tator tot mixture and bake (see baking instructions below).

Bake in a 350°F oven, using 17 coals on the lid and 8 underneath, for 1 hour or until eggs are set. Refresh coals as needed.

Serves 8

This post has been shared at Homestead Bloggers Network. If you like this blog and don’t want to miss a single post, subscribe to Chuck Wagoneer by clicking on the Follow Us button in the upper right corner and follow us on Facebook and Pinterest for the latest updates and more stuff!

Advertisements
Categories: Breakfasts, Dutch Oven, Recipes | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , | 4 Comments

Spring is Sproinging

Monday was the first day of spring! Are you ready to go camping? Not quite or not sure? Now is a good time to get into the attic, the basement, the garage, the RV, or where ever you store your camping gear and do an assessment.

What needs to be repaired or replaced? Was there anything last year that wasn’t working, but you didn’t have the time or the budget to fix it? Are there any improvements you’d like to make for this year?

A good night’s rest is important.

Are you sleeping as comfortably or as warm as you’d like to? Maybe you need a new cot or a new pad or a new sleeping bag. Maybe all you need is a new set of polypropylene to wear or to sleep in. Speaking of clothing…. How’s that pair of boots feeling? Time for a new pair of hiking boots? In the camp kitchen, I tend to spend a lot of time on my feet so good footwear is important. I also have weak ankles and uneven ground is a recipe for a sprain so having high top boots with good ankle support is important to me.

How’s your camp kitchen looking?

Is your camp kitchen in good shape? Last year, what prevented you from upping your outdoor cooking game? Do you need more workspace? Perhaps you need a new work table. I have a couple tables that have adjustable legs so I can raise them up to a counter height, which my back really likes. I highly recommend them.

Experiment

Would you like to try something new this year? A new activity or a new way of cooking outdoors? If you’ve never cooked in a Dutch oven or a box oven but have wanted to, then let’s set a goal for this year and do it!

Reserve Early, Reserve Often

Now is also a good time to get on the internet and make reservations. Some popular campgrounds fill fast and are difficult to get into. For some of the really popular ones, you should be making reservations 9 months to a year in advance; so while you’re thinking about it, go ahead and make reservations for spring 2018.

Convert Some Non-Campers

Do you have any friends or family members who have never camped or don’t camp much? Maybe they just don’t know how to do it comfortably, so they don’t realize how much fun it can be. Invite them with you and help them up their camping game.

If you like this blog and don’t want to miss a single post, subscribe to Chuck Wagoneer by clicking on the Follow Us button in the upper right corner and follow us on Facebook and Pinterest for the latest updates and more stuff!

Categories: Cooking Outdoors | Tags: , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Enchilada Pull-Aparts

enchilada_pull-aparts_img_2090_690px

The first time I made these, I accidentally used diced jalapenos instead of diced green chilies. They were just a wee bit spicy, but we still really liked them. In addition to being hot and tasty, these go together in a snap and take only 30 minutes to bake. You can easily have dinner on the picnic table in under an hour. Serve with sour cream, guacamole, and a salad, and you have a great meal.

This is also a dish that you can easily customize. I did, without even intending to, when I swapped the diced green chilies for diced jalapenos. You could swap the red enchilada sauce for green or swap the ground beef for chicken. You could add black beans, diced tomatoes, or some corn. Whatever floats your boat. Have some fun and make it your own. I’ll bet it becomes a family favorite.

Equipment
12-inch Dutch oven or 9×13 baking dish.

Ingredients
1 package of refrigerated biscuit dough
10 ounces enchilada sauce (we like to use red)
1 pound ground beef
1 packet taco seasoning or use your own mix
4 ounce can diced green chilies or diced jalapenos
1 cup grated cheddar cheese
1 cup grated pepper jack or Monterey jack cheese

Prep

On a propane stove or over coals, in a Dutch oven, brown the ground beef. Drain the grease and stir in the taco seasoning and 2 tablespoons of water. Stir in the diced green chilies or jalapenos. Remove from heat and set aside. Start your coals.

Open the biscuits and slice each biscuit into 8 small pieces. Add the biscuits and enchilada sauce to the Dutch oven and lightly mix everything together like tossing a salad. Sprinkle the cheese evenly over the top.

Bake in a 350°F oven, using 17 coals on the lid and 8 underneath, for 30 minutes or until the biscuits are cooked through and the cheese is fully melted. You could also load this into a 9×13 baking pan and bake it in a box oven, using about 14 coals.

Top with cilantro, avocado or guacamole, sour cream, hot sauce, etc.

Serves about 8

This post has been shared at Homestead Bloggers Network. If you like this blog and don’t want to miss a single post, subscribe to Chuck Wagoneer by clicking on the Follow Us button in the upper right corner and follow us on Facebook and Pinterest for the latest updates and more stuff!

Categories: Box Oven, Dutch Oven, Main Dishes, Recipes | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment

Apples of My Eye

apples_closeup_690px

This Saturday, March 11, is National Johnny Appleseed Day. John Chapman (1774-1845), often called Johnny Appleseed, became an American legend while still alive, due to his kind, generous ways, his leadership in conservation, and the symbolic importance he attributed to apples. Sounds like a Scout.

Here in Washington state, the apple is our state fruit and Washington produces about 42% of the apples grown in the United States, and 60% of those are grown for fresh consumption.

“An apple a day keeps the doctor away” is an old Welsh proverb that most of us are familiar with, but what makes this fruit so special?

Nutritional powerhouses, apples are extremely rich in important antioxidants, flavanoids, and dietary fiber. The phytonutrients and antioxidants in apples may help reduce the risk of developing cancer, hypertension, diabetes, and heart disease.

A collection of research studies suggest that apples can improve neurological health and prevent dementia. They can reduce the risk of stroke and diabetes, may lower levels of bad cholesterol, may help prevent breast cancer, and they support the good bacteria in our digestive systems.

Apples only come with one small warning: Apple seeds do contain cyanide, a powerful poison. Eating too many apple seeds can potentially be fatal. Apple seeds should not be consumed. I once read a mystery novel where the villain was slowly poisoning the heroine’s brother by feeding him apple seeds.

Apples are among the most commonly cultivated tree fruits. They come in many varieties and can be grown in many places around the world. There are three main use categories for apples: Dessert (sweet and best suited for eating fresh), Cooking (well-suited for baking in pies and cakes or cooking into sauces or butters), and Cider (small and tart, best suited for making cider). I’m not going to get into the Cider Category because that’s a little more complicated and is probably a whole blog post by itself.

So, let’s take a closer look at some dessert and cooking apples.

apples_fuji_690px

Fuji (Dessert) apples were developed in Japan, but its “parents” are American apples, the Red Delicious and the Ralls Janet. They have a sweet, mild flavor and a crunchy texture.

apples_gala_690px

Gala (Dessert and Cooking) apples are frequently near the top of the most popular apples list. They were developed in New Zealand by crossing a Golden Delicious and a Kidd’s Orange Red. They are fragrant with a mild, sweet flavor and have a fine texture. In cooking, they are suitable for making sauces.

apples_golden_delicious_690px

Golden Delicious (Dessert and Cooking) apples have thin skins and come from West Virginia. They have a mild, sweet flavor, and a smooth texture. In cooking, they are best for pies.

apples_granny_smith_690px

Granny Smith (Dessert and Cooking) were one of the first apple varieties to be found in markets internationally. They are originally from Australia. They are tart and have a firm texture. In cooking, they are best for baking.

apples_jonagold_690px

Jonagold (Dessert) apples are large with a thin skin originally developed in New York. They are aromatic with a sweet-wine flavor. They are juicy and have a fluffily crisp texture.

apples_mcintosh_690px

McIntosh (Dessert and Cooking) are some of the most aromatic apples and come from Quebec. They have a sweet flavor and juicy texture. In cooking, they are best for sauces and butters.

apples_pink_lady_690px

Pink Lady (Dessert) is actually a brand name; the apple itself is a member of a variety called Cripps Pink apples from Western Australia. They have a sweet flavor and crunchy texture.

apples_red_delicious_690px

Red Delicious (Dessert) apples were America’s favorite apple for nearly 75 years and still ranks in the top 10. Originally developed in Iowa, they are mild, sweet and slightly bitter, and have a crunchy texture.

So, with all the varieties of apples out there, you ought to be able to find at least one that you like. My son and I take gala or Fuji apples in our lunches nearly every day. I find I feel better when I do that.

This Saturday, let’s all raise a glass of apple cider to Johnny Appleseed or celebrate with a slice of apple pie!

If you like this blog and don’t want to miss a single post, subscribe to Chuck Wagoneer by clicking on the Follow Us button in the upper right corner and follow us on Facebook and Pinterest for the latest updates and more stuff!

Categories: Under the Lid | Tags: , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Making Camp Food More Nutritional

burger_img_0033_690px

When we’re camping, we tend to eat a lot of protein and grains, aka hot dogs, hamburgers, and chips. Why is that? Because it’s easy and, for some of us, that’s what we grew up with and it’s all that comes to mind when we’re planning our camping menus. Cooking from scratch takes a little more planning, a little more prepping, and a little more cooler space, but it is so worth the effort.

Food is a critical camp component. At the end of a long day of hunting, hiking, swimming or whatever, a good meal can lift your spirits and boost your morale. It is fuel for hard working and hard playing kids and adults. Likewise, a poor meal can leave you malnourished, hungry, and empty both in body and spirit. With a well-fed belly, you’ll stay warmer and sleep better on colder evenings.

When we’re camping, our bodies need quality fuel. For the weekday desk potatoes, which are probably most of us, we’re burning more calories when we’re camping than we do during the work week. Just being outside burns more calories than we normally would.

That’s why cooking healthy in camp is so important—and March is National Nutrition Month so, let’s up our nutrition at home and in camp.

food_nutrition

Whether you are old school and still subscribe to the Food Pyramid or you are new school and subscribe to the My Plate, a balanced diet of proteins, grains, fruits, vegetables, and dairy is key. Cooking fresh as opposed to processed is also important. Processed foods tend to contain higher amounts of sodium as well as preservatives and other junk. They also make it harder to adapt for allergies because you are stuck with what’s in the box.

Cooking fresh and from scratch is much better for you, tastes amazing, and you have way more control over the ingredients. Cooking fresh gives you the ability to swap out ingredients making it easier to adapt recipes for allergies, picky eaters (we all know one), and health issues.

In my teen years, my grandmother was diabetic and my father had heart disease so we cooked from scratch a lot because we needed to cook without sugar and without salt. We still ate very well and very tasty, and after the initial salt and sugar withdrawals, I actually didn’t miss it much. We learned to compensate by using other spices. My dad made a chili so hot and spicy it would light your nose hairs on fire, but it was so good you just had to keep eating. I learned to appreciate sour cream.

Nowadays, when I’m cooking for an outdoor event or a large campout, I might have to cook gluten-free, dairy-free, vegetarian or vegan. Cooking from scratch enables me to adjust my recipes for the dietary needs of my campers.

So, while cooking from scratch takes a little more effort, it’s much more nutritious, more adaptable, and provides better fuel for our hard working, and hard playing, bodies.

Get outside and get cooking!

If you like this blog and don’t want to miss a single post, subscribe to Chuck Wagoneer by clicking on the Follow Us button in the upper right corner and follow us on Facebook and Pinterest for the latest updates and more stuff!

Categories: Cooking Outdoors | Tags: , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Create a free website or blog at WordPress.com.

%d bloggers like this: