Posts Tagged With: cast iron

Apple Cinnamon French Toast Casserole

French toast casseroles are perfect for a Dutch oven breakfast in camp. They go together pretty easily. You don’t have to stand at the griddle flipping French toast and everyone gets to sit down together and share the morning meal—together. That’s what camping is all about—spending time, unplugged, together and reconnecting with nature and with each other.

To round out your breakfast, you could serve this casserole with bacon or sausage, scrambled eggs, fruit, and, of course, some maple syrup. If you really wanted to get wild and crazy, you could include an apple syrup and/or a caramel syrup.

At home, this makes a great, easy family breakfast that you can prep the night before, store in the refrigerator, and bake in the morning. It’s perfect for a holiday morning meal or brunch. You could even take it somewhere and bake it there.

When I make this, I use French bread but you could also use sourdough if you’re looking for a bit of tang. I use golden delicious apples but you could choose sweeter apples or granny smiths for their tartness. For the egg mixture, I use whole milk because it makes it more like custard. I mean, come on, this is meant to be yummy, rich, comfort food.

So, here’s how we prep and make when camping.

Equipment
12-inch Dutch oven (use a 9×13 casserole dish at home), large mixing bowl, whisk, measuring cups and spoons

Ingredients

Casserole
1-pound loaf sourdough or French bread, cut into chunks
3 cups apples, peeled and chopped (2-4 large apples)
8 large eggs
2 cups milk (whole or 2%)
½ cup heavy whipping cream
½ cup sugar
¼ cup light brown sugar, unpacked
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
1 ½ teaspoons ground cinnamon

Streusel Topping
¾ cup all-purpose flour
¾ cup firmly packed brown sugar
2 teaspoons cinnamon
¼ teaspoon ground nutmeg
¼ teaspoon ground allspice
½ cup salted butter, cut into pieces

Prep at Home Before You Go
Cut the bread into cubes and load into a large resealable freezer bag (minimum 2 gallon).

Peel and dice the apple and load into a smaller resealable freezer bag (2 quart oughta do). If you suck all the air out of the bag before sealing, the apples won’t oxidize as much.

In a large mixing bowl, whisk together the remaining casserole ingredients and pour into a bottle or container that you can tightly seal.

In a 1-gallon resealable freezer bag, combine all the streusel ingredients except for the butter.

When packing for camp, the bread and the streusel topping mix go into the food tote. The apples, custard mixture, and butter go into a cooler.

Assemble and Bake in Camp

First thing when you get up (yes, even before you make coffee), prep the casserole mixture. For easy clean up, line your Dutch oven with foil. Grease the foil. Add the cubed bread and diced apples, toss together, and then arrange in an even layer. Evenly pour the custard mixture over the bread and apples. Pop the lid on and just let it sit for 20-30 minutes, which will allow the bread to absorb all the custard mixture.

Now, you can make coffee, start a campfire, and prep other breakfast items. About an hour before you’re ready to eat, start your coals. You’ll need 25 coals. When the coals are ready, move the Dutch oven to the baking area, and place 8 coals underneath and 17 coals on top. Bake for about 35-40 minutes.

While the casserole bakes, cube up the butter and add it to the dry ingredients for the streusel. Seal the bag and mash the butter into the dry ingredients until it forms a crumbly mixture. When the timer for the casserole goes off, lift the lid and quickly sprinkle the crumbled streusel over the top and put the lid back on. It helps if you have a buddy to either manage the lid or the streusel. Bake another 5 minutes or until the streusel is melted over the top. Serve the casserole warm with syrup.

Prep for Making and Baking at Home

Prep the bread and the apples and arrange in an even layer in a greased 9×13 casserole dish. In a large bowl, whisk together the remaining casserole ingredients and pour evenly over the bread and apples. Cover the casserole and store in the fridge overnight.

When you’re ready to bake the casserole, preheat the oven to 350°F. Bake the casserole for about 35-40 minutes.

While the casserole bakes, in a medium bowl, combine the dry ingredients for the streusel. Cube the butter and mash into the dry mixture until it forms a crumbly mixture.

Remove the casserole from the oven and crumble the streusel over the top. Continue baking for about 5 minutes, or until the streusel is melted over the top. Serve the casserole warm with syrup.

Serves about 12.

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Chipotle Pulled Pork

When we’re wanting to make pulled pork sandwiches, this is our go-to recipe. It’s flavorful and packs a nice warm heat. We’ve made this at home in the slow cooker and we’ve made it in camp in a Dutch oven. It’s great for camping, game day, potluck, or BBQ.

Serve on a hearty hoagie roll (pictured below) or bun, including pretzel, brioche, telera (pictured above), or French. Serve it with baked beans and a tangy coleslaw for a winning combination. Some folks will eat the coleslaw on the side and some folks will actually put the coleslaw on their sandwich. It is very tasty that way.

If you’re camping in cool weather and think you’ll have a low fire going all day then this is perfect. Your fire will need to be somewhere between 275°F and 350°F. For stability and easier handling, I would recommend placing a grate over the fire and setting the Dutch oven on the grate. This will allow you to tend the fire underneath the oven without having to disturb your oven.

If you have a tri-pod, you could also suspend your Dutch oven over the fire. You can adjust the height of your oven by adjusting the chain.

Equipment
12-inch Dutch oven (standard or deep, depending on the height of your pork roast), knife, cutting board, measuring cups and spoons.

Ingredients
4 lb pork shoulder or butt roast, whole or cut into pieces
½ cup ketchup
½ cup brown sugar
½ cup minced yellow onion
1 (4-ounce) can diced green chilies or 3 fresh chilies of your choice
1 teaspoon chili powder
1 teaspoon ground cumin
8 oz chipotle sauce
½ teaspoon salt
½ teaspoon black pepper

Prep
Start 23 coals.

At home before you go, mix together ketchup, brown sugar, onion, chillies, chili powder, cumin, chipotle sauce, salt, and pepper. Load into a container for the ride to camp in your cooler.

In camp, in a Dutch oven, add the pork. Pour chipotle mixture over meat. Mix together until the meat is well-coated.

Bake in a 325°F oven, using 16 coals on the lid and 7 underneath, for 3-4 hours, refreshing coals every hour, which means you’ll want to start coals about 15 minutes before the change of the hour. In a slow cooker at home, cover and cook on low for 8-10 hours. You want to reach a minimum internal temperature of 200°F. When its pull apart tender, shred the pork. Serve immediately with hearty sandwich buns and coleslaw. Serves 8

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Dutch Oven Nachos

On our last scout campout, Scoutmaster Murray was cooking for the scoutmasters. For lunch on Saturday, he made two Dutch ovens of nachos with turkey chorizo, diced white onion, cilantro, diced tomatoes, and lots of cheese. They were a yummy lunch, filling but not too heavy, which was perfect going into a busy afternoon of teaching outdoor skills.

Nachos make a great meal or an appetizer. They are easy, fun, and completely customizable. You can build them any way you want to. They are great for an evening cracker barrel because they are finger food so there are no dishes to wash late at night.

If you line the Dutch oven with foil, when the nachos are done, you can carefully lift them out of the oven using the foil. Set the foil “bowl” directly on the picnic table and spread out the foil. Campers can just dive right in and start pulling off clumps of loaded tortillas.

The recipe below is for fully loaded nachos. While the list of ingredients is by no means comprehensive, it includes a lot of options. Use some or all of them. Use more or less of something. Treat this as just a guide for helping you decide what you want on your nachos. And I’ve included all the classics to serve with your nachos. Have fun!

Equipment
12-inch Dutch oven, large skillet.

Ingredients
1 tablespoon olive oil
1 pound ground beef, turkey, chicken, or pork
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 package taco seasoning, or your own mix
12 ounces tortilla chips
1 (15-ounce) can black beans, drained and rinsed
1 cup corn kernels, frozen, canned or roasted
1 ½ cups cheddar cheese, shredded
1 ½ cups Monterey Jack cheese, shredded
1 (15-ounce) can petite diced tomatoes, drained
1 (4-ounce) can black olives, sliced
¼ cup red onion, diced
1 jalapeno, thinly sliced
¼ cup cilantro, fresh, chopped
8 ounces sour cream
8 ounces salsa
8 ounces guacamole
1 (15-ounce) can refried beans, heated

Prep
Line a 12-Dutch oven with foil and start 25 coals.

In a large skillet over medium heat, warm oil. Add ground meat and garlic. Cook until meat is browned, about 3-5 minutes, making sure to crumble the meat as it cooks. Stir in taco seasoning. Drain any excess fat.

Place about half of the tortilla chips in the Dutch oven, spreading evenly. Sprinkle on 1 cup of cheese and add the remaining tortilla chips. Top with 1 cup of cheese, ground meat mixture, black beans, corn, tomatoes, black olives, and remaining cheese.

Bake in a 350°F oven, using 17 coals on the lid and 8 underneath, for 10-15 minutes or until heated through and the cheese is melted. Serve immediately, topped with onion, jalapeno, and cilantro. Serve with refried beans, sour cream, salsa, and guacamole.

Serves 8

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Categories: Dutch Oven, Main Dishes, Meals in 30 Min., Recipes, Snacks | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

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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Maui Mango Crisp

Here in the Northwest, we’re often camping in cool, cloudy, and sometimes rainy, weather. This mango crisp is a fun and flavorful dessert that brings a little bit of the tropics to your campout. The warm mango and cinnamon filling and the crunchy oat topping are a perfect combination.

When we were grocery shopping for the camping trip, we couldn’t find fresh mangos in the store (we live in a small town), but we were able to find a bag of sliced mangos in the frozen section and I really wanted to make this crisp, so we went for it and they worked beautifully.

We made this crisp Saturday night after a long day of hiking and geocaching and it was a hit with everyone. It was the perfect ending to an already great day.

Equipment
12-inch Dutch oven, large mixing bowl, medium-size mixing bowl, heavy-duty aluminum foil. At home, you could use a 13×9 baking dish.

Ingredients for Filling
10 mangos, skinned and sliced, fresh or frozen
1/2 cup granulated sugar
1/2 cup all-purpose flour
1 tablespoon lemon juice
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon

Ingredients for Topping
1 1/2 cups brown sugar
1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
1 1/2 cups old fashioned oats
1/2 cup butter, softened
1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon

Prep
Line your Dutch oven with foil and grease the foil with a little cooking spray. Start 25 coals. In a large bowl, mix all the ingredients for the filling and pour into the Dutch oven, spreading it evenly. In a medium bowl, mix all the topping ingredients, except cinnamon. Pour topping mixture over mango filling and spread evenly, but do not stir it into the filling. Sprinkle the ground cinnamon over the topping.

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

Serves 14-16

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Categories: Desserts, Dutch Oven, Recipes | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Sausage and Kale Soup

Last week, around dinner time, I received a text from the mom of one of our Boy Scouts, a scout who is close to Eagling I might add. She sent a picture of her youngest son Nathan standing at the stove, stirring a pot. She wrote, “Sausage and kale soup from scratch! The Cooking Merit Badge is the best thing that ever happened to me!” I couldn’t be more proud or thrilled.

This is one of those moments when you dust off your hands and walk away saying, “My work here is done!” Nathan has embraced what he’s learned from a merit badge and he is applying it to his everyday life. His cooking skills will continue to grow and he’ll use them his whole life. And, just at look at that smile. He’s so proud of himself and his smile could light an entire city!

So, after the rave reviews from his family, we had to make the soup ourselves (and so I could photograph it). This is an easy soup to make in camp. It has a little prep and could easily be gotten onto the picnic table in about 30 minutes, making it a great meal for a Friday night after rolling into camp and setting up.

If you are a kale fan, you should like this soup. It’s warm and filling, but not heavy. We served it with our favorite cornbread. You could also make a crusty artisan bread. Any bread would go nicely.

For the sausage, Nathan used turkey sausage. We used a hot Italian pork sausage. Choose your sausage according to your likes and go as mild or as spicy as you want. The recipe calls for wine, which you could omit and just add more chicken stock. I opted to include the wine and used a chardonnay. For the kale, strip the leaves off the stocks and discard the stocks. The leaves just need a rough chop.

Equipment
6-quart Dutch oven or stock pot, knife, cutting board.

Ingredients
20 ounces sausage, ground or links (remove casings)
1 medium onion, diced
8 cups kale, fresh, chopped
2 cloves garlic, minced
½ cup white wine
3 ¼ cups chicken stock
1 (15-ounce) can white kidney or cannellini beans, drained and rinsed
1 (15-ounce) can diced tomatoes, undrained
½ cup sun-dried tomatoes, chopped
¼ teaspoon pepper

Prep
Chop the vegetables, drain and rinse the beans, and get everything measured out and ready. Once you start cooking, this one moves pretty quickly. In your Dutch oven, over medium heat, cook the sausage and onion until the sausage is no longer pink. Remove and set aside. Add the kale to the Dutch oven and cook, stirring constantly, for 2 minutes. Add garlic and cook 1 minute. Add wine and cook 2 minutes. Stir in the sausage and onions, and the remaining ingredients. Bring to a boil. Reduce heat, cover and simmer 15-20 minutes or until kale is tender.

Serves 8

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Camp Kitchen Setups

When we camp, we eat well. I wouldn’t call it gourmet, but it’s healthy (most of the time), balanced, nutritious, and very satisfying. And, we’re constantly trying to change things up. We each have our go-to recipes and our specialties, but we’re always on the hunt for something different. Just like we change our camping locations between beach, mountains, lake, etc., and we change our activities between biking, fishing, canoeing, etc., so we change up our camp menus. It’s all in the spirit of keeping it interesting. None of us like to settle for the same old stuff. All it takes is a little planning, a little culinary ambition, and a good camp kitchen setup, and you, too, can cook like a chef and eat like a king or a queen.

Here’s what I recommend for a good camp kitchen setup:

Chuck Box

You need all your cooking essentials organized and stored in one place. A chuck box can be as simple and economical as a large plastic tote or as complex as a hand-crafted wooden box (DIY tutorials are widely available online). Ideally, your chuck box has compartments or smaller containers for your smaller cooking utensils. It should include all the basic things you need from pots and bowls to knives and vegetable peelers. I always pack heavy-duty aluminum foil for making foil packets. It’s fun to lay out a selection of proteins, veggies, spices, and sauces and everyone assembles their own dinner and cooks it over a fire or coals. For a complete list of what my chuck box includes, see my blog post, “Think Inside the Box Part 1-Your Camp Kitchen.”

Stove

A reliable stove system is central to every serious camp kitchen. Depending on the amount of packing space in your vehicle, you can decide to go with a compact two-burner system that runs on a one-pound propane canister or you can equip yourself with a larger and more powerful two- or three-burner system that runs on a standard 20-pound propane tank. Generally, you just want to make sure that each burner on the stove you select puts out at least 10,000 BTU/hr, which is the average output of a household stove burner. A number of the larger models that run on standard 20-pound propane tanks will crank out an impressive 30,000 BTU/hr per burner, providing you with an immense range of culinary ability. Many models can also be accessorized with grill boxes and griddles, which make serving up a stack of pancakes or juicy T-bone steaks a simple task.

Cooler

One or two quality hard-shell coolers will insulate and protect your food from being crushed in a fully packed vehicle. For safe food handling, it’s important that your iced-cooler keep your foods at or below 40°F. If you can, do your prep work before leaving home. Label your sealed bags of pre-chopped veggies and meats specific to each meal, which allows you to start cooking with minimal prep time. If you plan on packing lots of canned and bottled beverages, consider bringing a second beverage-specific cooler. Beverage coolers are opened and closed frequently, which allows chilled air to quickly escape. If your food is stored in a separate cooler that is opened less frequently, your temperature-sensitive foods will stay chilled for a longer period of time. For more cooler packing tips, see my blog posts, “Chillin’ With Your Cooler” and “Think Inside the Box Part 3-Your Camp Refrigerator.”

Food Tote

Just like a cooler, a hard-sided plastic tote will protect your food from being crushed in a fully packed vehicle. It will also protect your food from sun and rain and help keep critters out in the middle of the night. Even if you are just making hamburgers, no one wants a bun that’s been flattened like a pancake. For more Food Tote tips, see my blog post, “Think Inside the Box Part 2-Your Camp Pantry.”

Table

Even if you do the bulk of your prep work at home, you will still need a place to assemble and prepare your meals. A sturdy camp table is a must-have for your camp kitchen. Not only does it provide valuable work space, but you can also use it like a buffet table.

Shelter

We usually pack a pop up for a cook shelter. It provides shade when it’s sunny and protection from the rain when it is not, which is most of the time! I like to string a small clothesline along one side for washing cloths and drying towels. Sometimes I attach a tarp to one side and stake out the tarp to provide added shade for my coolers.

Extras

In my opinion, an outdoor kitchen wouldn’t be complete without at least one cast iron Dutch oven. From casseroles to cakes, a Dutch oven will allow you to bake just about anything you can bake in your oven at home. A Dutch oven gives you the versatility to prepare a much wider range of dishes. Its rugged durability and its ability to evenly distribute heat, allowing you to cover it with charcoal briquettes, position it in hot coals near an open fire, or place it on the stove top, make it a valuable component of your camp kitchen. For more information about what you need to support your Dutch ovens, see my blog post, “The Right Tool for the Right Job.”

So, there you have it. A good camp kitchen setup will go along way toward making every camping trip a successful one.

What’s in your Chuck box?

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Artisan Bread in Camp

There is something almost euphoric about the smell of fresh baked bread. When you smell it in camp it is downright magical.

This is a simple, rustic bread that goes together easy and requires no kneading. Yes, you read correctly, a yeast dough that requires no kneading. I used one of my 12-inch-deep Dutch ovens because I wanted the extra height. You could also use a regular 12-inch Dutch oven, but the top might get a little extra browned. You may have to adjust your coals.

Speaking of coals, I didn’t use the standard 2:1 ratio of coals (2 coals on the lid for every coal underneath). I wanted more heat coming from the top so the underside wouldn’t burn. I used a 3:1 ratio (3 coals on the lid for every coal underneath) and I think that is perfect.

This bread has a nice, crusty outside and the inside is soft and fluffy. At home, you could start it the night before and bake it for dinner the next day. In camp, you could start it in the morning and bake it for dinner that night. If you are making this at home in a conventional oven, bake it in a Dutch oven with the lid on for 30 minutes and then remove the lid and bake another 15 minutes to brown the outside.

Serve it warm, fresh out of the oven with some softened butter, and you’ll have some happy campers.

Equipment
12-inch-deep Dutch oven, mixing bowl, measuring cup and spoons, wooden spoon.

Ingredients
3 cups all-purpose flour
2 teaspoons kosher salt
½ teaspoon dry yeast (active dry or highly active dry work best; I used active dry)
1 ½ cups lukewarm water (110-115 degrees)
Extra flour for your board and hands

Prep
On your propane stove, gently warm some water to 110-115 degrees. If you overshoot, just remove from the heat and allow it to cool. In a large bowl, stir together the flour, salt, and yeast. Add the water and stir using a wooden spoon until the mixture forms a shaggy, but cohesive dough. You’ll know when you get there.

Cover the bowl tightly with plastic wrap and store in a safe place protected from critters. Let the dough sit for 8-24 hours. The dough will bubble up and rise.

About an hour and a half before you want to eat the bread, start 40 coals (if you are using 12-inch Dutch oven and not a 12-inch-deep, adjust your coals down). Heat your Dutch oven to 450°F, using 30 coals on the lid and 10 underneath, for 30 minutes.

While your Dutch oven preheats, turn the dough onto a well-floured surface and, with floured hands, form the dough into a ball. Cover dough loosely with plastic wrap and let rest. Start a fresh batch of coals.

After the 30 minutes are up, with floured hands, place the bread dough into the preheated Dutch oven. I placed my bread dough onto a piece of parchment paper and then lowered the dough on the paper into the oven. Refresh the coals. Bake for 30-45 minutes or until crust is golden brown.

Remove the bread and place on a cutting board, letting it rest for about 5 minutes. Slice and serve!

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!

 

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Gourmet Camp Cooking

Throughout the year, our Boy Scout troop holds fundraisers. The more fundraising we can do, the fewer out-of-pocket expenses there are for our scouts and our scout families, and we never want money to be the reason why a boy doesn’t scout.

One of the events we do is an auction and one of the live auction items every year is what we call the Scoutmaster Dinner. The dinner is hosted at the home of one of our volunteers and the dinner is completely prepared and served to guests by our troop’s scoutmasters. Over the years, we have had some pretty amazing dinners because some of our scoutmasters, including yours truly, are darned good cooks.

This year, we decided to make it an entirely camp-cooked meal. We wanted to show that you can make a gourmet meal in camp so we pulled out all the stops. Our menu was filet mignon, lobster mac and cheese, grilled vegetables, garden salad, fresh baked breads, and for dessert Scoutmaster Murray made an orange soda orange liquor dump cake and I made death by chocolate. For beverages, we had a peach sangria and lemonade.

I was very busy so I didn’t get all the pictures I had hoped to. I believe at one point we had six Dutch ovens going! You could make this meal using a griddle or a grill, Dutch ovens, box ovens, and foil packets. It’s very doable in camp. Everything tasted amazing.

Bacon-Wrapped Filet Mignon

Fresh Baked Bread

Lobster Mac & Cheese

Orange Soda & Orange Liquor Dump Cake

Death by Chocolate

Peach Sangria and Lemonade

It was a great evening with good friends, good conversation, lots of laughter and an amazing meal. So, don’t be afraid to cook something fancy in camp. It might take a little more effort, but you won’t regret it.

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Kung Pao Chicken in Camp

When we go camping, we love to challenge ourselves to make meals you wouldn’t normally eat while camping. We’ve made stir fry in camp before so we know it makes great grub, fast and easy. Our go-to favorite has always been Beef and Broccoli Stir Fry. This time, we decided to make Kung Pao Chicken, one of my hubby’s favorites when we go out for Chinese food. The challenge was trying to replicate the signature flavors of this stir fry.

This was so much fun to make. It has all the veggies we love in Kung Pao Chicken with a smooth, slightly spicy sauce and crunchy peanuts. Dice your veggies and chicken as large or as small as you like. You can make this in a large cast-iron skillet, a cast iron wok or in a Dutch oven over coals or propane stove. Like any stir fry, you really want to do all of your prep work ahead of time so that when you put flame to your vessel you are ready to lock and load.

When we were shopping, we had a hard time finding unsalted peanuts so we ended up getting lightly salted cocktail peanuts, but we omitted the salt and it came out great. If you are concerned about salt, you can opt for low-sodium soy sauce and you can look a little harder for the unsalted peanuts. When we were stir frying, we waited until almost the end before we added the zucchini, which kept it firm and just the way we like it. We served our Kung Pao Chicken with white, long-grain rice because my son and daughter love rice.

Ingredients
5-6 tablespoons soy sauce
4 tablespoons honey
3 tablespoons minced ginger
2 tablespoons cornstarch mixed with 4 tablespoons water
3-4 tablespoons rice wine vinegar
3 cloves garlic, minced
½ teaspoon black pepper
3 tablespoons peanut oil
12 dried Asian chile peppers, snipped into small pieces
9 boneless, skinless chicken thighs, diced small
1 ½ stalks celery, very finely sliced
2 large red bell pepper, cut into large chunks
1 medium white onion
1-2 medium zucchini
3/4 cup unsalted peanuts
Salt to taste
3 green onions, sliced
Cooked lo mein or chow mein noodles, or white rice for serving

Prep
Dice all the vegetables and the chicken. For the sauce, combine the soy sauce, honey, ginger, cornstarch slurry, rice wine vinegar, garlic, and black pepper in a bowl. At this point, you might want to start your rice or noodles.

In a large skillet, wok or Dutch oven, heat the peanut oil over medium-high heat. Drop in the chiles and cook, stirring, for 30 seconds to release the heat. Add the chicken and fry until cooked through, 5 to 6 minutes. Remove the chicken from the skillet. Add the white onion, celery, and red bell pepper and cook for 1 minute, then return the chicken to the skillet. Add the zucchini. Pour in the sauce mixture and cook until the sauce has thickened, a couple of minutes. Add the peanuts and toss together.

Serve over noodles or rice and garnish with sliced green onions. If the sauce becomes too thick, you can loosen it with a little water.

Serves 9

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