Sunday, July 25, 2010

Camp Cuisine

After a weekend of camping, we thought we'd share our thoughts on the camp food we brought. It's that time of year, so if you haven't yet, get outside and enjoy the wilderness!!

Although we only actually built one campfire over the course of our trip, here's a photo of the campfire ring we improved at our campsite:

The two rocks that stick out awkwardly (at the bottom and right of this photo) are flat on top - perfect to use as "counter space" when cooking outdoors. We put these to use even when we cooked on our camp stove. Following are meal ideas and a few recipes we really used this weekend.


For breakfast on the first morning, we brought a couple flour tortillas, some pre-cooked turkey sausage, a few tomatoes, and some eggs to assemble into breakfast burritos.

The eggs were somewhat challenging to bring in, but they were tasty nonetheless. We neglected to put any sort of oil or grease in the pan, which made for an... interesting... cleanup process, so if you try this one out, please be more wise than we were.

The other mornings, we kept it simple with instant oatmeal. At Walmart, we picked up a box of the generic brand flavored stuff. We chose the "fruit and cream" variety box. It worked out pretty well.

Unfortunately, the gas for our camp stove ran out about halfway through the trip, and the second canister we'd brought along was not the correct size. This meant that the oatmeal we ate, we ate cold. However, we did not find this to be too big of a problem.


We only ate two lunches out in the woods. The first day we dined on Maruchan Instant Lunch - the ones in the foam cups. They're inexpensive at 28 cents each, but I think they work out pretty well! I chose the shrimp flavored one and Thomas had the hot & spicy chicken one (and let me tell you - they don't lie about it being hot and spicy!).

The second day we had Uncle Ben's packaged rice thingies. These were ok, but we wouldn't recommend them. We were consoled in that we got them for cheap - Thomas got a coupon for one for free and another coupon for some amount off so we picked up two. All in all, the flavor was peculiar and we actually ended up tossing some of it.


Dinner number one was a campfire favorite: foil dinners! Due to some hiking troubles we got in late and were unable to build a campfire, so we cooked ours on the camp stove.

Foil dinners are great because you put everything together and then just let it all cook. You almost can't mess them up! We used cut-up potatoes, baby carrots, and Italian sausage in ours and wrapped it all up in foil. I added some salt, pepper, rosemary, and Worcestershire sauce and they turned out pretty well. One thing I didn't do that I wish I had is to put the ready-to-cook meals in their own Ziploc bags. Instead, I put them into a grocery sack... and they ended up leaking liquid.

On the second night, we built a campfire in which to cook foil-wrapped potatoes. We supplemented them with a can of chili we heated on our camp stove. For a simple and fast dinner, it was pretty tasty and quite filling.

Dinner number three was fabulous: Thomas has sold me on Mountain House meals. They are freeze-dried and delicious! Because by this point we were unable to use the stove (as mentioned above), we tried a new method for heating our filtered water: we filled up our kettle and let it sit in the tent during the afternoon. This actually worked pretty well!

We'd purchased the Lasagna with Meat Sauce entree for 2 - and preparation consisted of pouring water into the bag, sealing it, and letting it sit for a few minutes. It was really tasty! These pouches tend to be a little pricey, but they're worth every penny. We ended up using both pouches because, well, we were hungry and it was so good.


We didn't have time (or light) for dessert the first night, so we ate what we'd brought for that night on the second night. I first made these orange-peel chocolate muffins at Girls' Camp when I was 14 or 15, and I think they're cool - and yummy.

All you do is put chocolate muffin mix (prepared according to the recipe or box instructions) into half an orange peel. We used Jiffy Chocolate Muffin mix, which I believe called for an egg and water. We brought half of what was in the box and added an egg and some water in a Ziploc bag. After slicing 2 oranges in half and scraping out the fruit flesh (which we then ate), we cut a corner of the Ziploc to facilitate squeezing the batter into the orange halves. Then we wrapped them in foil and cooked them in the campfire. They cooked pretty quickly. I love these because the muffins pick up some of the flavor of the oranges!

Our final camping dessert was Instant Jello Pudding. This requires just cold milk - which is fine, unless you're (tent) camping, right? Well, we solved that last little issue by adding some powdered milk to the pudding mix. Due to some unclear conversion information on the milk package, we added a bit too much water.... but it tasted fine anyway.

Do any of our readers have favorite camping recipes?? Feel free to comment!!


Wednesday, July 14, 2010

Tortellini Alfredo and a Side

Thank you for your latest comments! Please keep 'em comin'!

Lisa apparently likes LOVES tortellini, so when she saw it in the store, she was tempted. Thomas, being the ever-adventurous fool, thwarts the purchase by a simple and effective phrase: "Why don't we make it?" We have yet to be unsuccessful (and in fact everything we've posted is delicious), but tortellini-making is not for the faint of heart. You've been warned. The mozzarella sticks are quite easy and tasty, though, so even if you skip ahead, give them a try.

Tortellini Alfredo

While making this delicious pasta, we learned some lessons about life. First of all, even when you have someone else's detailed instruction or advice, it may not apply to your situation. It helps to be flexible and creative enough to try things they didn't, even without knowing what the consequences will be. Second, you can't make it through life on your own. Everyone comes across unexpected and difficult trials, and we all need somebody to help us through! Finally, things take time. If you want the best for yourself and your family, you have to put in the effort and stick around till things turn out.

We adapted the tortellini recipe found here.


3 1/2 cups flour
5 large (or 4 jumbo) eggs

1) Mix flour and eggs together. We used the advice found on the site mentioned above; we put the flour on the table and made a well for the eggs, then began mixing with a fork. After a while, we tossed the fork and used our hands.
2) Knead forever. The pasta-making alone took us probably an hour or two.
3) If you're like us, and you're making this in Utah (read VERY DRY) in the summer (read HOT), you will find that your dough is drying out very quickly and completely falling apart. We sprinkled some water in when this happened and it seemed to help.
4) Once the gluten begins to develop and your dough is soft (for far more detail, use the link above), wrap your dough in plastic wrap and let sit at room temperature for 30 minutes or so.
5) While waiting, work on your pasta filling (below) and start your sauce (further below).
6) When ready, divide up the dough so you are working with a small portion (a fourth or so) at a time. Keep the rest covered.
7) Roll out the dough. You want it very thin. It is very thick, heavy dough and you will use your muscles. It is dry, though, so you won't need to flour your work surface.
8) Immediately cut out your tortellini circles. We used a small (2" or so) glass bowl. Keep them covered until you fill them.
9) You can use scraps again, but you will need to wet them because they'll dry out before you can re-roll them.
10) When you fill them, don't over-fill them! You want just a small bit. Seal them with a small bit of water; fold them in half. Then shape them (the corners of the half circle will overlap).
11) Once they're all ready (we had about 50), boil them in water until the pasta is to your liking!


approx. 8 oz. ricotta cheese
4 oz. mozzarella cheese
1/4 cup grated Parmesan cheese
seasonings to taste (we used minced garlic and Italian seasoning)

1) Grate mozzarella (and Parmesan if you buy in a block).
2) Combine all ingredients. Taste-test and alter until you're happy with it.
3) Use this to fill your pasta circles to make tortellini!


1/2 lb bacon
a few mushrooms
1 Tbsp butter
2 boneless/skinless chicken breasts
1 cup or so of milk
3 Tbsp butter
a bit of cheese - we used what we had leftover from our tortellini filling - and it worked out just right.
2 Tbsp (approx) flour

1) Cook bacon.
2) Use some bacon grease to sautee mushrooms. Add 1 Tbsp butter and some seasoning (garlic, pepper).
3) Crumble bacon and cut up uncooked chicken into bite-sized pieces. Add to sauteing mushrooms.
4) Use a low heat setting. We let this sit on the stove, slowly simmering, while we rolled/cut/stuffed our pasta dough.
5) In a saucepan, melt 3 Tbsp butter.
6) Add milk. Stir for a few minutes.
7) Add cheese. Stir until melted in.
8) Add flour. You can whisk this so it blends smoothly into the sauce. This will thicken the ingredients into a sauce.
9) Add mushroom/bacon/chicken mixture to sauce.
10) Pour over cooked tortellini and enjoy!

(our favorite deal - $5.37 for 3 lbs at Walmart)

Mozzarella Sticks(adapted from this recipe)

about 12 oz. mozzarella cheese
about 1 cup Italian-style bread crumbs
about 1/2 cup grated Parmesan cheese
some salt
3 large eggs
vegetable oil for deep-frying

1) Cut cheese into small sticks - about 4 inches * 1/2 * 1/2.
2) In a small bowl (but not too small - you'll need to be able to dip cheese sticks in), combine bread crumbs, Parmesan cheese, and salt/other seasonings (to taste).
3) In another small bowl, mix up eggs.
4) One cheese stick at a time, dip into eggs, then into bread crumb/cheese/seasoning mixture. Coat well, and set on a plate or something.
5) Once completed, do this a second time (so you'll have 2 layers each of egg/bread crumb mixture on each cheese stick). It's ok if they break, just make sure the ends get egg/bread crumbs on them too.
6) When they've all been dipped and double-dipped (hehe), stick them all in the freezer for a little while, until they are frozen.
7) Once frozen, remove from freezer. Pour some vegetable oil into a small pan and heat it up.
8) Add cheese sticks to oil. Use tongs to flip them. Once they're a pretty golden-brown color, you can take them out and let them rest on a paper towel to drain the grease. Enjoy!

Tuesday, July 13, 2010

Pumpkin Pancakes

A lady in Thomas' mom's ward made sweet potato pancakes for them a few weeks back. After receiving the recipe and golden reviews, we made pumpkin pancakes (historically one of Thomas' favourite types) from it. The original instructions mention that one can use sweet potatoes, pumpkin, apple sauce, carrots, squash, etc., substituting the appropriate pie spices. Needless to say (hence I'll say it), they turned out great. Luckily we had leftovers, because they're good for any meal and at any temperature.

Pumpkin Pancakes (makes 16)
1 1/2 C canned pumpkin
3 C flour
1 1/2 T baking powder
1 t salt
1 T spices (cinnamon, nutmeg, allspice...)
2 C milk
4 eggs
1/2 C brown sugar
4 T melted butter
1 T vanilla

  1. Mix the ingredients together thoroughly and let sit for a few minutes.
  2. Pour onto greased frying pan in 5" circles.
  3. Flip when slightly golden (don't overcook).
  4. Enjoy.

As a suggestion, try with slug butter or Thomas' choice: powdered sugar and lemon juice.

Sunday, July 4, 2010

Summer YUM!

Last summer, while traveling with Thomas, we made a dish I fell in love with while we were in Southern California visiting his sister.

We made it again this past Monday... enjoy!

Fruit Pizza

"Pizza Crust":
1/2 c butter
3/4 c sugar
1 egg
1/2 tsp baking soda
1 tsp cream of tartar
1 3/4 c flour

1) soften butter. Cream together with sugar and egg.
2) add other ingredients. Mix well.
3) roll out to desired shape and place on baking dish of your choice
4) bake for 10 minutes at 350* F. (We used our pizza stone and the crust stuck to it pretty badly; you might try greasing your baking dish!)

"Pizza Sauce":
8 oz. cream cheese
1/2 c sugar
2 Tbsp pineapple juice (from can used in topping below) and/or 1 Tbsp vanilla (optional)

1) whisk all ingredients together. This will work best if the cream cheese is allowed to sit out for a while on the counter till soft
2) spread onto "Pizza Crust" after it has cooled down (otherwise it will drip off...!)

Fruit Pizza Toppings:
sliced bananas (one for one pizza)
sliced kiwi (we used 2)
sliced strawberries
pineapple (most of a can)
Other ideas: berries, mandarin orange slices, grapes, peaches, ....

1) slice into bite-sized pieces
2) arrange on your fruit pizza

Fruit Pizza Glaze:
Juice from 20-oz can of pineapple
1 Tbsp cornstarch

1) cook on stovetop until clear; stir often
2) cool slightly and drizzle over fruit on fruit pizza