Breakfasts

Banana Brown Sugar Caramel Strata

Layers of fluffy French toast cubes, warm gooey bananas, covered in brown sugar caramel sauce, topped with a brown sugar crumble, and drizzled with maple syrup. Do I have your attention?

This strata is breakfast comfort food and, while it is a bit challenging to make (i.e., multiple steps), it’s so worth it. It’s great for camp in a Dutch oven or at home in a casserole dish for a holiday or weekend breakfast or brunch. We’ve made this a couple times at home and in camp and, each time, it’s received rave reviews.

A strata is a great way to make French toast for a crowd without having to stand at the griddle flipping slices of bread. It can be sweet or savory. This one is most certainly sweet. With a few substitutions, this could also be dairy and/or gluten-free.

A strata is also perfect for making in camp in a Dutch oven. A lot of this can be prepped at home so, in camp, it’s just some assembly required. Just allow enough time in the morning to assemble and let it rest while the bread soaks up the egg mixture before baking. About 20 minutes of rest ought to do it. If you want that occasional big hit of banana, slice your bananas thicker. I prefer to dice my bananas so there is a little bit of banana in every bite. Either way is yummy. It’s just personal preference.

If you’re making at home, this French toast casserole can be assembled the night before, placed in the refrigerator overnight, and baked in the morning. In the morning, all you have to do is add the topping and bake. Again, great for a holiday or weekend brunch.

Equipment
12-inch Dutch oven or casserole dish, medium sauce pan or skillet, large bowl, whisk, cutting board, knife, small bowl, measuring cups and spoons.

Ingredients for Brown Sugar Banana Filling
6 tablespoons unsalted butter
3/4 cup light brown sugar packed
2 tablespoons pure maple syrup
1/8 teaspoon salt
3 ripe-firm bananas peeled, sliced and quartered

Ingredients for French toast
8 large eggs
1 cup whole milk
1 cup half and half
2 tablespoons light brown sugar
1 teaspoon cinnamon, ground
1 tablespoon pure vanilla extract
1 15-ounce loaf French bread cut into large cubes (preferably a day or two old)

Ingredients for Topping
1/3 cup light brown sugar packed
1/3 cup all purpose flour
1/2 teaspoon cinnamon, ground
1/8 teaspoon salt
3 tablespoons unsalted butter, softened

Ingredients for Serving (Mix & Match)
Maple syrup, caramel sauce, sliced bananas, chopped nuts, and whipped cream.

Prep Brown Sugar Banana Filling
At home or in camp, in a medium skillet or sauce pan on medium heat, melt 6 tablespoons butter. Add brown sugar, maple syrup, and salt. Cook, stirring constantly for a few minutes until the mixture is smooth. Remove from heat and carefully stir in the bananas. Set aside and cool to room temperature while you prepare the French toast. If prepping at home, load the sauce into a container and add the bananas in camp so they are fresh.

Prep FrenchToast
In a large bowl, whisk eggs, milk, half and half, brown sugar, cinnamon, and vanilla. This can be poured into a bottle that has a tight seal for the ride to camp in the cooler.

Prep Topping
In a small sealable container or resealable bag, combine brown sugar, flour, cinnamon, and salt. Add butter and, using a spoon or your fingers, work the butter into the dry ingredients until the butter is evenly distributed and the mixture resembles wet, clumpy sand. Seal and refrigerate (cooler) until you are ready to bake the French toast.

Assembly if Making at Home
Grease a 2 1/2 or 3 quart casserole dish. Place half the bread cubes in the bottom. Spoon half of the banana-brown sugar mixture over the bread. Top with the remaining bread cubes. Pour the custard (egg mixture) evenly over the bread cubes. Lightly press down on the top of the bread to allow the top layer of bread to absorb some of the custard mixture. Spoon the remaining banana-brown sugar mixture over the top of the French toast. Cover and refrigerate overnight or until bread has soaked up all liquid.

Assembly if Making in Camp
Line a 12-inch Dutch oven with foil and grease with butter or non-sticking cooking spray. Place half the bread cubes in the bottom. Spoon half of the banana-brown sugar mixture over the bread. Top with the remaining bread cubes. Pour the custard (egg mixture) evenly over the bread cubes. Lightly press down on the top of the bread to allow the top layer of bread to absorb some of the custard mixture. Spoon the remaining banana-brown sugar mixture over the top of the French toast. Cover and rest 20-30 minutes or until bread has soaked up all liquid.

Baking
When you’re ready to bake, crumble the topping over the French toast.

Bake in a 350°F oven, using 17 coals on the lid and 8 underneath, for 40-55 minutes until puffy and golden brown, and set (check that the center is not too wet). Baking time will depend on how deep your casserole dish is and whether you prefer your French toast more well done. Refresh coals as needed.

Serve immediately with syrup, caramel sauce, whipped cream and/or chopped nuts.

Serves 6-10

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Cinnamon Roll Pancakes

 

These pancakes are simply amazing. One of my fellow scouters, Stephanie, was our grubmaster on the last campout and she made these for breakfast Saturday morning. They were awesome! They taste just like a cinnamon roll. You can top them with cream cheese glaze or maple syrup or both if you want to double down on the sugar! Everyone opted for the cream cheese glaze. Toward the end of breakfast, I saw Scoutmasters coming back to the table and just picking up a pancake with their hands and walking away. Folks just couldn’t stop eating them. It was great!

These are a bit labor intensive, but a lot of the prep could be done at home before you go with just some assembly required in camp.

For the cinnamon filling, you could use a plastic condiment squeeze bottle or a resealable bag. The condiment bottle will provide more control when swirling onto the pancakes; however, it will take a little longer to clean out. Same is true for the cream cheese glaze. If you opt for condiment bottles, pack a bottle brush and clean up should be easy.

You’ll need to manage the temperature of your griddle closely as too hot of a griddle can lead to burning cinnamon glaze, also making for more challenging cleanup.

I also recommend warming the cream cheese glaze so that you’re not putting cold glaze on hot pancakes.

When I made these for my family, I made ¼-cup sized pancakes and the recipe made 9 pancakes. My son ate three pancakes and my daughter and I both thought two was enough. You could serve these with bacon or sausage and fruit to round out the meal.

My daughter called these decadent and said she wouldn’t need any sugar for the rest of the day!

Again, these pancakes are a little high maintenance, but well worth the effort. They are a fun variation from the regular pancakes and will surprise and delight your campers of all ages. Definitely a winner, killer breakfast.

Ingredients for Pancake Batter
1 cup all-purpose flour
2 teaspoons baking powder
½ teaspoon salt
1 cup milk
1 tablespoon canola oil
1 large egg, lightly beaten

Ingredients for Cinnamon Filling
½ cup butter, melted
¾ cup packed brown sugar
1 tablespoon ground cinnamon

Ingredients for Cream Cheese Glaze
4 tablespoons butter, melted
2 ounces cream cheese, melted
1 ¼ cups powdered sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla

Prep at Home
Prepare cinnamon filling: In a medium bowl, mix butter, brown sugar, and cinnamon. Scoop the filling into a small resealable plastic bag or into a condiment squeeze bottle for the ride to camp in the cooler. If you’re making these for cooking at home, allow the cinnamon filling to rest and set for at least 20-30 minutes. You want it thick; not runny. This is an important step. It takes 20-30 minutes for the butter and brown sugar to completely emulsify.

Prepare dry ingredients for pancake batter: In a medium bowl, sift together flour, baking powder, and salt and load into a resealable plastic bag or hard-sided container. (If you choose a large enough container, it can also serve as the mixing bowl in camp.) This will ride to camp in your food tote.

Prepare wet ingredients for pancake batter: In a medium bowl, whisk together milk, oil, and egg and pour into a plastic or glass jar with a tight seal for the ride to camp in the cooler.

Prepare cream cheese glaze: In a medium glass or microwave-safe bowl, or in a pan on the stove on low heat, warm the butter and cream cheese until melted. Remove from heat and whisk together until smooth, then whisk in powdered sugar and vanilla. Pour into a condiment squeeze bottle or a plastic container for the ride to camp in your cooler. After arriving at camp, if the glaze feels a little too thick, you can thin it with a little milk.

Prep in Camp
Pull your cinnamon filling and cream cheese glaze out of the cooler and allow them to come up to the ambient temperature. If you want a warm cream cheese glaze, you could warm it in a bowl of hot water.

Prepare pancake batter: Add the wet ingredients to the dry ingredients and mix just until batter is moistened. DO NOT OVERMIX; a few small lumps are okay. Add a little milk to thin it if you need to.

For the cinnamon filling, if you are using a resealable plastic bag, squeeze all of it down to a corner of the bag and snip off a tiny (and I mean tiny) corner of the baggie. You’ll pipe the filling onto the pancakes like piping on cake frosting.

Heat a large skillet or griddle over medium-low heat. Grease with canola oil. Scoop ¼-cup to ½-cup of pancake batter onto the griddle, depending on the size of pancakes you want. Squeeze a spiral of the cinnamon filling onto the top of the pancake (work quickly because you want the pancake to poof up around the filling). When bubbles begin to appear on the surface, and the outer edge of the pancake starts to look dry, flip carefully with a spatula and cook until lightly browned on the underside, 1 to 2 minutes more. Transfer pancakes to a foil packet or a heated Dutch oven and keep warm while you make the rest of the pancakes.

When ready to serve, drizzle warmed cream cheese glaze on top of each pancake. No syrup required; however, you could have some available for folks who want it either in place of or in addition to the cream cheese glaze.

Makes 8-9 ¼-cup pancakes or 4-5 ½-cup pancakes.

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Apple Fritter Pull-Aparts

I love apple fritters. They are one of my favorite donuts. If you also love apple fritters, you will love these pull-aparts. Little bits of apple tucked into warm chunks of cinnamon pastry, buttery and sugary, and slathered in frosting. What’s not to love!

Last month at Fort Ebey State Park, I made this for the scoutmasters and it was a huge hit. Fresh out of the oven, the apple fritter pull-aparts were warm and gooey, and the apples were still a little al dente. We all loved it! I served them with sausages and it was a great breakfast on a chilly Sunday morning.

Equipment
12-inch Dutch oven, small bowl, knife, cutting board.

Ingredients
3 cups apples (about 4 medium apples), peeled, cored, and diced small
2 tablespoon brown sugar
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
2 cans Pillsbury Grands! Cinnamon Rolls (5 rolls each)
10 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted
2/3 cup packed brown sugar
2 tablespoon heavy whipping cream or milk, optional

Prep
Prep the apples and place in a bowl with the 2 tablespoons of brown sugar and ground cinnamon. Stir to combine and set aside. Line your Dutch oven with foil, grease the foil, and then start 25 coals.

While the coals are starting, cut each cinnamon roll into 6 pieces. They’ll fall apart and that’s okay. Sprinkle the pieces evenly in the Dutch oven. Sprinkle the apples over the cinnamon roll pieces. Stir the melted butter and brown sugar together, and then pour over the top of the apples and cinnamon rolls.

Bake in a 350°F oven, using 17 coals on the lid and 8 underneath, for 28-33 minutes.

Just before serving, place the icing that came with the cinnamon rolls in a small bowl or a tin cup. Heat just long enough to make it pourable. Stir in heavy whipping cream (or milk) to make it more of a glaze, and then pour over the top. Serve warm.

Serves 10-12

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Denver Frittata

On the average West Coast diner breakfast menu, the Denver Omelet, also known as the Western Omelet, is a common item. It’s made with red and green bell peppers, onion, ham, and cheddar cheese, and has been one of my favorites for as long as I can remember. So, how to make one in camp or for a crowd? Convert it to a frittata.

Frittatas are simply baked omelets and perform extremely well in a Dutch oven in camp or in a cast iron skillet at home. Like most frittatas, this one starts on the camp stove by sautéing the vegetables. Once the vegetables are soft, the ham is mixed in and the cheese sprinkled on top. The egg mixture is poured over everything and the whole thing is baked until the eggs are puffy and set. The last 5 minutes of baking, you could even sprinkle on a bit more cheese to melt on top before serving. How easy is that?

The Denver is popular and has endured over the decades because of it’s bold flavors. Between the onion and peppers, sharp cheddar cheese, and smokey, salty ham, it is a great breakfast any time of year. Serve with biscuits, hashbrowns, and fruit. It’s sure to be a winner!

Equipment
10-inch Dutch oven or 7×9 or 9×9 baking dish, bowl, whisk.

Ingredients
1/2 cup red bell pepper, diced small
1/2 cup green bell pepper, diced small
1/3 cup yellow onion, diced small
2 teaspoons olive oil
1 cup (heaping) ham, cooked and diced small
8 large eggs
1/3 cup milk
1/2 cup shredded sharp cheddar cheese
Salt and black pepper

Prep
The ham and vegetables can be diced at home and loaded into containers or resealable bags for the ride to camp in the cooler.

In camp, assemble your materials (mise en place) and start 25 coals in a chimney.

On medium-high heat on a propane stove, heat oil in the Dutch oven. Add the bell peppers and onion and sauté until softened, about 4 minutes. While the vegetables are cooking, in a mixing bowl, whisk together eggs and milk until well blended. Season with salt and pepper. Set aside. Remove the Dutch oven from the heat and add the ham and toss together. Sprinkle evenly with cheese. Pour the egg mixture over the ham and vegetables. Bake in a 400°F oven, using 17 coals on the lid and 8 underneath, for about 25 minutes or until egg is puffy and set. Serves 6.

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Sausage Cheese Croissant Catastrophe

Another catastrophe for the recipe book. We made this a couple weeks ago while teaching outdoor cooking to Girl Scout adult volunteers at Camp Robbinswold. It was very tasty. The croissants brought a buttery sweetness and the Swiss cheese was nutty and sweet, which were nice contrasts to the savory sausage, green onions, and Parmesan.

It was easy to make in camp. The sausage could be browned at home or browned in the Dutch oven in camp. The first five ingredients are tossed together like a salad. The egg mixture is poured over the top and then it’s all covered in cheese. For a fancier version, you could use Gruyère cheese. Kids can help prep by tearing the croissants into chunks.

I would recommend getting it all assembled and then starting your coals. The catastrophe can rest while the coals get going. After a 45 minute bake, the eggs are cooked through and the cheese is all melty.

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

Ingredients
1 pound ground sausage, browned
1¼ cups (5 ounces) Parmesan cheese shredded
1 teaspoon salt
6 green onions, sliced
1 package mini croissants (about 24), torn into chunks
3 cups milk
1 cup heavy cream
5 large eggs, beaten
2 cups Gruyère or Swiss cheese

Prep
Foil line your Dutch oven if you choose, and coat it with butter or cooking spray. To the Dutch oven add browned sausage, Parmesan cheese, salt, green onions and croissant chunks, and toss together. Whisk together the milk, cream and eggs, and pour over the top. Let it rest so the croissants soak up all the liquid. Sprinkle cheese on top. Bake in a 350°F oven, using 17 coals on the lid and 8 underneath, for 45 minutes.

Serves 10-12

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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

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Breakfast Catastrophe Italian Style

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Our Boy Scout troop’s annual pioneering weekend is typically cold and often rainy so I always plan a menu with hot and hearty meals when I’m cooking for the Scoutmasters.

For breakfast on Sunday, I wanted to make a breakfast casserole (aka catastrophe), but wanted to make something a little different than the usual ones I make. I decided to make a catastrophe with an Italian flair. I’m not Italian, but I should be. I love cooking, and eating, Italian.

I knew the Scoutmasters could handle heat so, instead of the usual country sausage, I used a hot, spicy Italian sausage. I added garlic, a red bell pepper, and I swapped out the usual shredded cheddar cheese for mozzarella.

On a chilly autumn morning, it was a hot, hearty breakfast that warmed our tummies.

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Equipment
12-inch Dutch oven or 9×13 casserole dish

Ingredients
1 pound Italian sausage (I prefer hot, but mild or sweet also work)
1 medium white onion, peeled and diced
3 cloves garlic, minced
1 red bell pepper, cored and diced
6 eggs
1/3 cup milk
1 (20 ounce) bag frozen hash browns, thawed
2 cups shredded mozzarella cheese
1/4 teaspoon freshly-ground black pepper
3 thinly sliced green onions

Prep
Either on coals or on a propane stove, heat the Dutch oven and add about a tablespoon of olive oil. Add the onion and red pepper, and sauté for 5 minutes until cooked. Add the garlic and sauté for an additional 2 minutes until fragrant. Add the sausage. Brown the sausage, crumbling with a spoon as it cooks. Add the hash browns and 1 1/2 cups cheese. Stir to combine. In a separate bowl, whisk together the eggs, milk and black pepper until combined. Then add them to the Dutch oven, and stir to combine. Top with the remaining 1/2 cup of shredded cheese. Cover and move to coals. Bake in a 375°F oven, using 18 coals on the lid and 9 underneath, for 1 hour. Refresh coals as needed.

If making at home, combine everything in a 9×13 casserole dish and cover with aluminum foil and bake for 20 minutes. Then remove the aluminum foil and bake for an additional 15 minutes until the top of the potatoes begin to slightly brown. Remove and let the casserole rest for 5 minutes.

Sprinkle with green onions and serve!

Serves 8

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Granny Apple Crisp

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Last weekend, my daughter and I taught outdoor cooking to an awesome bunch of Girl Scout adult volunteers and teens. This crisp is one of the things we made. I promised them I would get it posted to the blog right away and here it is! We also made Cookie’s Cornbread and Vegetarian 3-Bean Chili. I’ll have the chili posted soon.

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I love crisps and this crisp is one of my favorites because it uses tart Granny Smith apples and has a sweet and cinnamony toasted crunchy oat topping. We have made this crisp for a dessert following lunch or dinner and we’ve also made it for breakfast. We justified making it for breakfast because it has apples and oatmeal in it. So if you want to make it for breakfast, tell them, “Cookie said it was okay!”

We like to prep all our dry ingredients at home. You could also prep your apples at home and just add a smidge of lemon juice to the bag to keep them from oxidizing and turning brown, but this will add a bit more tartness to the crisp, which isn’t necessarily a bad thing.

When you get to camp it’s just “some assembly required.” So, as a dessert or as a breakfast item, this crisp is a winner.

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Equipment
12-inch Dutch oven

Ingredients
1 cup +2 tablespoons flour
1 cup + 2 tablespoons brown sugar
¾ cup old-fashioned oats
3 teaspoons cinnamon
½ teaspoon nutmeg
¼ teaspoon all spice
6 tablespoons butter, softened
6 large Granny Smith apples, peeled, cored and diced

Prep
At home, combine flour, brown sugar, oats, cinnamon, nutmeg, and all spice in a gallon-size heavy-duty resealable bag for transport to camp in your food tote.

In camp, peel, core and dice the apples. Foil line your Dutch oven and start 25 coals. Apply a thin coating of butter or oil to the foil.

Add butter to the dry ingredients in the resealable bag. Seal the bag and thoroughly mush ingredients together with hands until you get a nice crumbly texture.

Spread apples evenly in Dutch oven. Spoon butter-flour mixture evenly over the apples.

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

Serves 8

You could also make a double batch in a 16-inch Dutch oven. Adjust coals as necessary.

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Bakin’ Bacon in a Box Oven

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Saturday was International Bacon Day! Did you fry some bacon while you were camping? I know, silly question. Of course, you did!

Making bacon in camp can be hard to manage because of all the bacon grease. Your griddle or flat-top grill just gets overrun with it. But did you know you can bake bacon in a box oven? Not only does this manage the grease a little better, but also frees up your griddle or flat-top for other fun, like pancakes, hashbrowns or eggs.

We knew bacon could be baked in the oven at home and we had baked bacon in the big camp kitchens, which is a great way to do it if you’re feeding a bunch of hungry campers; so why wouldn’t it work in a box oven at camp? We decided to try it on one of our Girl Scout campouts and it worked! Here’s how we did it:

We lined a rimmed baking pan with parchment paper. The pan must be rimmed or you’re going to have bacon grease everywhere! The parchment paper will help manage the grease. Lay your bacon out on the pan in a single layer. They can touch but not overlap.

Bacon03_IMG_1006_690pxIn a regular oven, you would bake at 375° for 18 to 20 minutes or until it reaches your desired level of crispness. There is no need to flip it. Just let it do its thing. When it’s done, use tongs to transfer the bacon to a paper-towel lined plate.

In camp, in the box oven, we found we needed a little hotter oven. We bumped it up to 425° using 17 coals. I’d also recommend soup or juice cans to elevate your baking sheet, which are shorter and will place your baking sheet closer to the coals.

Our box oven was an apple box, my favorite. For instructions on how to make a box oven, see my blog post, “DIY Box Oven.” An apple box will accommodate a standard 17¼ x 11¼ baking sheet, which will hold about 10 slices of bacon, depending on the size of your bacon. If you are feeding a crowd, you may want a second box oven or you may need to make a couple of batches. If making multiple batches, you can always wrap the bacon in foil and place it near the fire to keep it warm, although I don’t mind cold bacon. I mean, bacon is bacon, right?

Bacon03_IMG_1008_690pxSo, the next time you camp, try baking bacon in a box oven. You may need to experiment a little to find the temperature and time combination that will give you bacon to your desired doneness, but it’s worth every bake, because you’re making bacon! Don’t be so distracted by the magic in your box oven you forget you can have hashbrowns and eggs going on the griddle, while the bacon is baking.

Get out outside and cook something amazing!

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Cheesy Spicy Hash Brown Casserole

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We love hash browns for breakfast either in a main dish like a big breakfast skillet or as a side dish. This hash brown casserole makes a great side dish and brings great flavor and a little heat. When I made this last weekend for the first time for a mixed group of scoutmasters and scouts, I seeded my chiles because I was concerned that I might overwhelm some of the younger taste buds. The heat was very mild. If you really want to bring the heat, then leave the seeds in. You could also swap out some of the chilies for hotter varieties. My son tried to talk me into using a ghost pepper. I said no. I opted for Monterey Jack cheese but, again, if you want to bring the heat, you could step it up to Pepper Jack cheese. I used frozen southern style hash browns, but you could just as easily peel and dice fresh potatoes.

First thing in the morning, after I get my coffee, I’d start this one. It has about 30 minutes of prep (less if you chop your veggies and grate your cheese at home before you go) and then about 30 minutes of baking time. After 30 minutes, the potatoes were cooked through but you’ll notice in the picture below that they look a little pale. Next time I might let them brown a little in the Dutch oven before I put the lid on and add coals. After I put the lid on and add coals, I also might let them go longer than 30 minutes just to see if I can get a little more color on the potatoes.

I’d recommend a 12-inch or larger Dutch oven or 9×13 deep baking dish for a full batch. If you want to do a half batch, I’d step down to a 10-inch or 12-inch Dutch oven or an 8×8 baking dish. Remember to adjust your coals for the size of your Dutch oven. Here’s a link to my Dutch Oven Size Chart and Temperature Guide.

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Equipment
12-inch Dutch oven, cutting board, chef knife, cheese grater, stirring/serving spoon.

Ingredients
8 slices bacon, fried and chopped
2 tablespoons butter
2 large green chiles, diced
2 jalapenos, finely diced
1 poblano chile, diced
1 yellow onion, diced
4 pounds (2 bags) frozen southern style hash browns (diced potatoes)
Salt and ground pepper
2 cups grated sharp Cheddar
2 cups grated Monterey Jack or Pepper Jack

Prep
Dice the vegetables and grate the cheese. On a campfire, a bed of coals, or on a propane stove, fry the bacon in the Dutch oven until its nice and crispy. While the bacon is frying, load 27 coals into a chimney with 1-2 fire starters and, when the bacon is done, light your coals. Remove the bacon from the Dutch oven and set aside on a paper towel. You may want to critter and camper proof it or it just might disappear! I’ve had a number of scouts learn that lesson the hard way!

To the Dutch oven, add the butter and then add the chiles and onion, and sauté until well browned. Pour in the frozen hash browns and add some salt and pepper. Be generous with the salt; that’s a lot of potatoes. Toss everything together. Let it heat up for just a few minutes to steam off any excess liquid from the hash browns; you can crumble or chop the bacon while you wait.

Sprinkle on the cheese and top with crumbled bacon. Put the lid on and move it to coals.

Bake at 375°F, using 18 coals on the lid and 9 underneath, for about 30 minutes until hot and bubbly or until the potatoes are done to your liking.

Makes about 20 4-ounce (½-cup) servings or 10 8-ounce (1 cup) servings. And, c’mon, let’s be real. We’re all going to take a 1 cup serving and go back for seconds…. Just sayin’….

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Categories: Breakfasts, Dutch Oven, Recipes, Sides | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment

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