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Sunday, July 19, 2009

Amazing Camping Food- Part 3

So, more about my method of "Wrap-it-in-tin-foil-and-chuck-it-in-the-fire."

As I mentioned previously, this works with pretty much anything. The idea is slow cooking over an open fire while you get on with setting up or tearing down camp, playing with the dog, hiking or playing cards. Plus, there is the added bonus of good tasting camping food!

In this post, I will go through this method using 2 more examples (for a 3rd example, see my previous post for roasted chicken) just to show you how versatile it is.

Campfire Baked Potatoes with Cheddar

Large baking potatoes
Cheese, sliced or grated
Salt and Pepper

This is the easiest and most satisfying camp food ever!

Wash the potatoes and then wrap them individually in tin foil.

After you start your campfire, place the wrapped potatoes at the edges of the fire, so that they get the heat but are not directly in the flame. Let the bake there while you prepare all your other food, go for a hike, or do something else (they need about 1 hour to 1.5 hours).

Once the potatoes are tender, remove them from the fire, slice them in the middle, and stuff with cheese. Season with salt and pepper. Wrap them again in the tin foil and place again in the fire for about 5 minutes, just until the cheese is melted. Remove from the fire, add a spoon of butter, and enjoy!

Alternatively, if you have a campfire at lunch to make the toasted ham and cheese sandwiches, just as the campfire is dying down from lunch, wrap the potatoes and place them in the glowing embers of the fire. Leave them there until dinner time. At dinner time, remove from the fire pit and build your campfire. When you are ready to eat them, stuff with cheese, throw them back in the fire, and enjoy!

Yum Yum Yum....and if that didn't just wet your appetite, this next recipe for Warmed Baked Apples filled with Nutella certainly will!

Warm Baked Apples filled with Nutella

Apples (any kind)

Wash the apples. Cut off the top of the apple and remove the core, but ensure not to puncture the apple all the way through.

Fill with nutella. Place the top back on the apple. Wrap tightly with tin foil.

Place in the glowing embers of the campfire, not in the flame. Allow the apple to bake for about 30-45 minutes (while you are cleaning up from dinner, relaxing by the fire, doing the dishes, playing cards). When you remove the apple from the fire, it should be fork tender and melting in your mouth. Enjoy!

Thursday, July 16, 2009

Amazing Camping Food- Part 2

Ah... nothing like the great outdoors! Your lungs filling with fresh air, the smell of the forest, and chicken roasting over an open fire (or was that chesnuts??)....
Regardless, it's dinner time! We went to the store and found chicken on sale, so we decided to roast some chicken in the campfire. Yum yum.
This is so so easy, and this method can be used to roast or bake so many things in the fire, from chicken to sandwiches to potatoes to dessert (as you will see in my next post). The name of this method? "Wrap-it-in-tin-foil-and-chuck-it-in-the-fire." Seriously, it's that simple.
Of course, to elaborate on that method, you can add herbs and seasonings, aromatics (garlic, onions etc), and stuff that melts (cheese, chocolate) before you wrap it and chuck it in the fire, during the process, or after it's done. The end result? Perfect camping food. Just remember, do not literally chuck it into the fire... try to avoid the direct flame whenever possible or the result won't be as pleasant.
Anyway, back to the chicken....

Fire Roasted Chicken Thighs
Serves 3 hungry campers

9 chicken thighs
Drizzle of Olive Oil
4 cloves of Garlic
1 large Red onion, cut into wedges (8 pieces)
2 tbsp Dried Herbs
Salt and Pepper

Place chicken thighs on a large piece of tin foil (depending on how big your fire pit is, you might want to divide the thighs onto 2 or 3 pieces of tin foil to make the packages easier to place and handle in the fire).

Rub the chicken thighs with olive oil. Then rub with salt, pepper and mixed herbs. Place garlic cloves and quartered red onion on the tin foil with the chicken. Close up the tin foil into tight, leak proof packages. You may need to use another layer of tin foil just to be sure.

Place the tin foil packages at the edge of the fire. Do not place them directly in the flame. The goal is not to burn them to a crisp, but to roast them slowly with the heat from the fire. After about 40 minutes, remove the tin foil packages from the fire. Open and check that the chicken is cooked (juices should run clear when you cut into the thigh meat next to the bone).

Monday, July 13, 2009

Amazing Camping Food- Part 1

So I just got back from a week of camping in Nova Scotia and New Brunswick. Tent living, campfire building, and camp food. Yep, I said it... camp food. But I am not just referring to hot dogs and s'mores. I am referring to really easy and yummy "gourmet" camp food. Food that is just as easy to make as pasta and mac and cheese, but is more filling and delicious.

Expand your camp food horizon! Shop at the local markets. Buy groceries rather than convenience foods and elevate your next camping experience!

For starters, here is a little tip....

In our camping kit, I always carry the following "pantry" staples-- a small bottle of extra virgin olive oil, salt and pepper, small zip lock bags or containers of herbs (usually one with dried chili flakes and one with mixed italian or provencal herbs), and small containers of dijon mustard, ketchup, and barbecue sauce. These come in handy for all your cooking needs, from kicking up jarred pasta sauces and seasoning goods from the local market to making salad dressings. I also carry some tin foil, butcher's string, and of course, a good knife.

All this stuff on hand means that you expand your campfire cooking experience!

So, join me as I walk you through a variety of delectable, easy to make camping food that will give you energy through the day, and motivate you to give gourmet campfire cooking another try.

Campfire Toasted Ham and Cheese Sandwiches

Toast Bread (White or WW)
Butter or Margarine
Smoked Ham, sliced
Old Cheddar (or any hard, meltable cheese you find at the local market)
Salt and Pepper

For this recipe, the ingredients are minimal and I didn't put quantities since it's pretty obvious that you would use however much you need to make a sandwich.
The ham we purchased was a chunk of smoked ham which we sliced ourselves, but you can also have it presliced at a local deli counter if you prefer.

You could do this recipe in a frying pan over a camping stove or in a frying pan over the fire, but if you find you don't have a frying pan, or you want to try something different, try it this way....

Find a large stick/tree branch in the woods with a v-shaped branch. It should not be too dry, as you don't want it to burn in the fire. Cover it with tin foil to create a strong, flat surface. This will be your "pan" (see photos above).

Now, no matter what method you are using (camping stove, frying pan, or tree branch), you will follow this same method.

First, build your sandwiches by buttering both sides of each piece of bread. I know this sounds like a lot of butter, but don't skimp. It will ensure the bread toasts nicely AND it will taste delicious!

On one slice of butter bread, add a layer of cheese, a layer of ham, then another layer of cheese. Season with salt and pepper. Finish with the 2nd slice of bread. As a reminder, the sandwich should be buttered inside and outside.

Heat your tree branch constructed frying pan (or your actual frying pan) over the campfire (or camp stove). Add about 1 teaspoon of butter and let it melt over the surface slowly. Do not place the frying pan directly on the flame, but just beside so as not to burn the butter. Place one side of the sandwich onto the cooking surface and let it toast. Again, it is very important to be patient and not place the "frying pan" directly in the flame of the fire. This will ensure that the bread gets toasted and the cheese gets melted, without burning.

After a few minutes, check that the first side of the sandwich is golden brown and toasted. When it is, carefully flip the sandwich over and toast the other side. When both sides are toasted, remove from the fire and enjoy!

Friday, July 3, 2009

Healthy Whole Wheat Veggie Lasagna

So, after amost 2 weeks of eating, eating, eating, it was time for a little break today. Okay, not really a break, just a little bit of healthy love into our bodies (a.k.a not barbeque, burgers, sausages of any kind, or ice cream).

Whoops! How did those pictures get in there??? Well, at least they are whole wheat buns! And I can definetely see some vegetables in there....

Anyway, getting back to tonight, since we had some miscellaneous veggies in my brother's fridge and a pantry stocked with whole wheat pasta, I decided to make a veggie lasagna. Perfect timing too since it was the day before my brothers running/biking race and he was supposed to be loading on pasta.

This lasagna does have some cheese and cream, but you could skip the cream if you want, and you can use part skim mozzarella and 1% cottage cheese if you are really health conscious. For me, I just wanted something that would taste great while being good to my body, and it is a small amount of cream between 6 people.

As for the whole wheat pasta, if you really don't like it, you could use regular pasta, but I think whole wheat adds great texture and is much tastier than regular pasta. But each person has their own preference, so use what you like. After all, the point of food besides nourishment is enjoyment.

And for sides, I served this lasagna with a simple side of green salad drizzled with balsamic vinaigrette.

This lasagna is filling but with no need for guilt. And the perfect lead in to dessert.... a soft serve dip cone from a very popular bar laitier down the street!

Healthy Whole Wheat Veggie LasagnaServes 4-6 people

15 Whole Wheat Lasagna Noodles
5 cups Diced Veggies (Mix of your favorites such as Celery, Carrots, Bell Peppers, Zucchini, Eggplant)
1 Large White Onion, Diced
4 Cloves Garlic, Minced
2 tbsp Olive Oil
2 tbsp Mixed Dried Herbs (Oregano, Thyme, Parsley, Italian, Herbs de Provence
1 tsp Chili Powder
700 ml Tomato Sauce
1/2 cup Tomato Paste
1 cup Thick Cooking Cream (15% fat)
1 litre Cottage Cheese
Salt and Pepper to Taste
3 cups Grated Cheese (I used cheddar and Parmesan)

Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil. Add a drizzle of olive oil. Cook the lasagna noodles in the water according to the timing on the box. Drain.

In a large sauce pan, heat about 2 tbsp of olive oil over medium heat. Add the garlic, onion, and the veggies, and sautee until it starts to soften. Add the mixed herbs and chili powder, then the tomato sauce and paste. Bring to a simmer. Add the cooking cream stir until blended. Season to taste with salt and pepper.

Grease a large casserole dish with cooking spray or olive oil. Lay 3 lasagna noodles. Add a layer of sauce and a sprinkling of grated cheese. Layer a second layer of noodles. Add a layer of cottage cheese, then more noodles. Then sauce and grated cheese, noodles, cottage cheese, noodles, then finally the rest of the sauce and the rest of the grated cheese.

Bake in a 350 degree oven for 30-45 minutes until cheese is melted and lasagna is bubbly.