Posts Tagged With: cast iron

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

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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Fantastic French Dip Sandwiches

This roast was fall-apart tender and soaked with juice and spices. The French dip sandwiches we made were so flavorful. It was hard not to go back and make a second sandwich, but I knew, if I did, I’d be groaning all afternoon.

In March, we were teaching outdoor cooking to adult volunteers at our annual Girl Scouts of Western Washington Outdoor Learning Weekend at Camp Robbinswold. Right after breakfast, we heated up a 12-inch deep Dutch oven on the propane stove, added some olive oil, and seared off the beef chuck roast. Then, we added all the spices and liquids, put on the lid, and set it on the fire.

I used my 12-inch deep because I wasn’t sure how much volume I was really going to have between the roast and the liquid. Our fire was a little hot and the deep oven allowed for some bubbling up room.

We let it simmer all morning. At lunchtime, I pulled it out and sliced it, but it really wasn’t necessary. I could have just pulled it apart in the Dutch oven. I returned the meat to the Dutch oven and the juice, and it was time to assemble our sandwiches. Because the meat is so juicy, I recommend a sturdy roll. If your roll is too soft, it will soak up all the juice and turn to mush. I would also recommend toasting the rolls on a grill or griddle. We did not, and I wish we had; it would have kicked it up yet another notch.

We split our rolls, piled on the juicy beef and topped the sandwiches with 2 slices of Provolone cheese. You could also layer on some sautéed onions, bell peppers, and/or mushrooms. You can ladle juice out of the Dutch oven for dipping, too, but we found it wasn’t necessary at all.

At home, you could make this in a slow cooker. Start it in the morning and just let it go all day on low. If you need to size up this recipe, just add a half pound of beef per extra person and then size up the other ingredients accordingly. I also wouldn’t worry too much about being exact. If you end up with a little more juice, who cares?!

Equipment
12-inch deep Dutch oven or a slow cooker

Ingredients
1 3-pound beef chuck roast
1 tablespoon olive oil
2 cans (10.5 ounces each) beef consommé
1/3 cup soy sauce
1 cup Coca-Cola (or just add the whole can)
1 bay leaf
1 teaspoon garlic powder
1/2 teaspoon onion powder
1/4 cup onions, dried, minced
1/2 teaspoon oregano, dried
1/4 teaspoon thyme, dried
1 tablespoon beef bouillon, granulated
1/4 teaspoon black pepper
1/2 teaspoon salt
6 French rolls or hoagie buns
12 slices Provolone cheese

Prep
In camp, in a hot Dutch oven or, at home, in a hot cast iron skillet, add a little olive oil, and sear the beef on all sides. If you’re making this at home in a slow cooker, transfer the beef to the slow cooker. Add all the liquids and spices, put the lid on and cook low and slow. There really isn’t much more than that. Super simple to make. After hours of simmering, slice or pull apart and serve on sturdy French rolls or hoagie rolls with Provolone cheese, and/or grilled onions, peppers, and/or mushrooms. If desired, ladle au jus into bowls for dipping.

Serves 6

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Categories: Dutch Oven, Main Dishes, Recipes | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 2 Comments

Curses, Foiled Again!

To line or not to line your Dutch oven. That is the question.

Some folks are staunchly opposed to lining their Dutch ovens. Others, not so much. I fall into the latter camp. I’m not afraid to cook directly in my Dutch ovens. I do it frequently, but if I’m just baking something or it’s a dump in and bake, or I’m baking something that will be sticky, gooey or otherwise hard to clean, then I go ahead and foil-line for easy clean up.

I don’t foil-line if I need to sear off a piece of meat before adding other ingredients and baking. I don’t foil-line if what I’m making will require a lot of stirring because that will just shred my foil lining and I don’t want to eat aluminum foil. My multi-vitamin supplies me with all the minerals I need, thank you very much.

When you do want a lining in your Dutch oven, there are a couple of ways to do it.

Preformed Foil Liners

You can purchase preformed foil liners. They are sized to fit standard Dutch ovens (10”, 12”, and 14”), so if you have multiple sizes of Dutch ovens, you’ll need to purchase multiple sizes of liners to match. There are a couple of different brands and they range in price, depending on size and quantity that you buy, but expect to pay $1-$3 per liner.

Parchment Liners

A friend of mine uses parchment liners when she’s baking in her Dutch ovens and she’s very happy with them. There are a couple different brands and they are sold in a universal 20-inch diameter size and come 8 to a pack for about $12, which makes them about $1.50 each. You can also make your own with a roll of baking parchment paper. If you make your own, you can cut them to the diameter that you need; however, the widest I found was only 15” wide.

Aluminum Foil

I prefer to foil-line with aluminum foil. No reason, it’s just how I was taught and what I’ve always done. I buy the extra-wide, heavy-duty aluminum foil. I tear off what I think I will need and gently fold and form it to the inside of my oven. I use the backs of my hands; otherwise, I risk my fingers poking through and ruining my foil. After I have it all formed and pressed against the sides, I tear off the extra foil or fold it inside the oven.

A rookie mistake I often see with foil-lining is folding the excess foil over the edge of the oven. This prevents the oven from sealing tightly, which is what Dutch ovens are meant to do.

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

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

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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Categories: Breakfasts, Dutch Oven, Recipes | 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

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

Mozzarella Stuffed Pizza Bombs

mozzarella_bombs_img_2113_690px

These are so good. When we made these for the first time, they disappeared in about 5 minutes. They are best hot out of the oven while the cheese is still gooey. I’m not sure how they taste cold or reheated because they never last that long. Make sure you serve them with warm marinara sauce. They are a hit all by themselves, but dipping them in warm marinara knocks them out of the park!

These would make a great pre-dinner appetizer or as a side dish or as part of an evening cracker barrel. If you’re making these for an evening cracker barrel and want easy clean up, you could foil line your Dutch oven, but be sure to liberally grease the foil.

If you made enough of these, they could even be a main dish. To make them even more pizza-like you could wrap the mozzarella in a slice of pepperoni or Canadian bacon before wrapping them in the pizza dough. I just might have to try that.

They are a bit messy to make. Your hands end up covered in the butter-garlic mixture. I would have some hot soapy water standing by or use disposable food serving gloves.

You can make these using fresh oregano and garlic cloves or you can use dried minced garlic and dried oregano. I use dried oregano and dried, minced garlic and hand mix it.

I make a single batch in my 10-inch Dutch oven in camp or in my cast-iron skillet at home (it’s about the same size). I have not tried larger batches yet, but I imagine that if you doubled it, you could squeeze them into a 12-inch Dutch oven. They’d be cozy but it’s okay if they touch. If you do and it works, let me know.

I wonder how many I could squeeze into my 16-inch Dutch oven?! Hmmmm….

Equipment
10-inch Dutch oven or cast-iron skillet.

Ingredients
8 cloves of garlic, fresh, or 2 teaspoons dried, minced
1 tablespoon oregano, fresh, or 1 teaspoon dried
3 tablespoons melted unsalted butter
3 tablespoons olive oil
½ teaspoon salt
9 ounces of pizza dough or 1 tube of refrigerated pizza dough
1 teaspoon red pepper flakes
10 ounces of mozzarella, cut into ¾-inch cubes, or 8 mozzarella sticks, quartered
Extra olive oil and butter for greasing the Dutch oven or skillet
Marinara sauce for dipping, warmed

At home in a food processor, combine garlic cloves, oregano, melted butter, olive oil, and salt until well mixed. Load into a container for transport to camp in the cooler. You could do this in camp without the food processor by just mincing the garlic and herbs by hand or using dried, minced garlic and dried oregano.

In camp, using a mixture of olive oil and butter, liberally grease a Dutch oven (if making these at home, you could use a cast-iron skillet).

On a flat, floured surface, roll out the pizza dough into a 9-by-9-inch square that’s a ¼ inch thick. Brush with the melted garlic-butter mixture and sprinkle with red pepper flakes. Using a pizza cutter or sharp knife, cut the dough into 16 equal-sized squares. Place one piece of mozzarella or ½ of a stick (2 quartered pieces) into the middle of each piece of dough. Wrap the mozzarella up in the dough and seal the edges completely. In the Dutch oven or skillet, arrange all the balls, seam side down, so they’re touching. Brush each dough ball thoroughly with the garlic-butter mixture.

Bake in a 375°F oven, using 16 coals on the lid and 7 underneath, for about 20-25 minutes or until golden brown and puffed up. Serve with warm marinara sauce for dipping.

Serves about 5 as an appetizer, 3-4 as a main dish (because we can’t eat just 3 or 4)

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

Hot Ham & Swiss Croissant Sandwiches

ham_swiss_croissants_img_1997_690px

Recently, I had an epiphany. I know, it happens sometimes. I was planning a menu for a weekend I knew would be cold and most likely rainy. For lunch, I wanted to serve a steaming bowl of soup and a hot sandwich, the perfect combo on a cold, rainy day.

I was inspired by my friend Chris over at CJ’s Kitchen who likes to foil wrap sandwiches and warm them in the oven, and they come out warm, gooey, and yummy. But how to do that in camp? And then, in a moment of brilliance, it occurred to me that I could use my 16-inch Dutch oven simply as a warming oven. Sounds simple enough but it was a paradigm shift for my brain, which is usually focused on actually cooking in my Dutch ovens.

For my hot sandwich, I decided to go with a classic ham and Swiss. I have to confess here that I have never been a Swiss cheese fan, but I knew this was a classic pairing so I decided to give it a try and I love it. The Swiss cheese pairs perfectly with the ham. The Dijon, honey, and brown sugar condiment is sweet and tangy. The croissants were soft and buttery. When warmed, the Swiss cheese became soft and gooey.

This is a simple sandwich to make. I premixed my condiment at home and loaded it into a container for the ride to camp. The croissants I found at the store were a little small, somewhere between a slider and a full size croissant, so I picked up enough for everyone to have two if they wanted. I was feeding hungry Scoutmasters after all.

In camp, assembly took a little bit of time, but I had some help from a fellow Scoutmaster so it went pretty fast. We individually wrapped them in foil and loaded them into the preheated 350°F Dutch oven. After 15 minutes, the sandwiches were warmed through and the cheese had melted.

Served with a hot bowl of soup, it was the perfect lunch on a cold, rainy day. The sandwiches were so good, most everyone came back for a second. These were a smash hit and I will definitely do this again.

On a related note, I also used my 16-inch Dutch oven that morning to hot hold pancakes and it worked perfectly. As we pulled the pancakes off the griddle, we loaded them into the warm oven and they were all toasty warm when it came time to eat. I now have a new use for my 16-inch as a warmer and a hot holder!

Ingredients
2 tablespoons Dijon mustard
1 tablespoon honey
1 tablespoon brown sugar
4 croissants split
8 slices Swiss cheese
1 pound deli ham (any flavor you like)

Prep
At home before you go or in camp, mix the mustard, honey and brown sugar together. Spread the honey mustard mixture on each side of the four split croissants. Place a slice of Swiss on each half of the croissants. Top the bottom half of each croissant with ham. Place the halves back together and wrap in foil. If you are assembling these at home before you go, place in a cooler for the ride to camp.

When it’s time to heat them, pile them into a Dutch oven and bake at 350°F for 10-15 minutes, using the number of coals appropriate for the size of your Dutch oven.

Serves 4

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

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