Friday, June 29, 2012

Eat Good Food While You Camp Without Spending All of Your Time at the Stove

Anyone who has ever gone camping knows that preparing and providing good food that is not a chore to make can be a real challenge.    I remember going camping once in my youth where the person planning our meals (it was a church youth group retreat) thought that having sandwiches for the entire long weekend was a good idea.   The adult chaperons and some of the kids were less than enthusiastic about that menu.   :( 

The possibilities for preparing tasty food while camping is infinitely easier today with the abundance of appliances that can be brought to the camp site.    Most campgrounds have electrical service and outdoor kitchens for their campers to use.     Our campers (a pop-up and a 31' travel trailer) both are equipped with propane stoves and the travel trailer has a combination 3 burner stove and oven.    The stove for the pop-up is portable and can be used inside the camper or set up outside.    After the weather starts to get warm the portability of that stove is really important so we can avoid heating up the camper to unbearable levels.  

We have found that by bringing along a few appliances we can increase the number of culinary creations we can prepare with a minimum of effort.     Crock pots are the cook's best friend, along with rice cookers, toaster ovens, George Foreman electric grill and waffle irons.     A cook center set up outside the camper keeps the heat out of the camper and the appliance handy so you can keep an eye on the food as it cooks. We have an awning that offers some protection but would have taken the appliance inside if rain was in the forecast.

Larry grills chicken using his George Foreman Electric Grill

On our most recent camping trip we brought along our Crock Pots.   Our daughter-in-law made a breakfast casserole for us that she put together shortly before we went to bed and was cooked to perfection when we got up the next morning.   The smell of the casserole woke us out of our slumber and, after we made a pot of coffee, we were enjoying our breakfast. The important thing about this method was it took very little time to put together and was ready to serve first thing the next morning.     I might add that the best thing to come along in a long, long time is the invention of a LINER for the Crock Pot, making clean up a breeze.    You simply pull the liner up and out of the pot and toss in a trash can.  Voila!    Clean Crock Pot.   

So one day when it was my turn to cook, I decided that the Crock Pot would simplify the process and help keep the heat to a minimum.   When we went to the store to buy supplies, I was thinking of how to cut down on prep time and also the length of time the dish would need to cook in order to get everything done.     I was planning to make a Chicken Taco Soup and ordinarily would have started the dish from scratch with raw chicken.    I was prepared to go that route when Larry suggested that I consider using rotisserie chickens.  DUH!   What a great idea!!    Starting with cooked chicken meant that the time in the Crock Pot could be reduced to just long enough to get the whole thing hot.

We bought two rotisserie chickens and then Larry kindly sacrificed his finger prints by deboning the chickens and we put the meat in a large Ziploc bag and stored it in the camper's refrigerator.    The next afternoon when I put the soup all together, all I had to do was pull out the bag of cooked chicken, a can of tomatoes, black beans, a box of chicken broth, frozen corn (could have used canned) and an envelope of Taco Seasoning.  Yeah, the little red packets that cost less than a dollar.   This step saves you from having to bring along a lot of bottles of spices to get the distinctive flavors you want.  I cut up an onion and sliced up two cloves of garlic, put that in a bowl, added a little olive oil and nuked it for a couple of minutes until the onion began to soften. (Our camper has a built in small microwave.)    I did this to help hasten the cooking time for the ingredients.

I lined the Crock Pot with a liner (yeah!! for liners), dumped in the chicken, tomatoes, beans, corn, chicken broth and sprinkled the taco seasoning over it all.    You could add more seasoning like salt and pepper if you like and parsley flakes if you have that.    Then I cooked the whole thing on high for about three hours.   If I had started with raw chicken it would have required a lot longer to cook to make sure the meat was done and not going to give us all salmonella.   

When we all sat down at the picnic table to eat, we brought over the pot of hot soup and passed around sour cream, shredded cheese, a jar of roasted bell peppers and corn chips.     If you have folks who enjoy a little heat, you can always add jalapenos to your soup or have a jar of peppers or hot sauce handy.    

We ate most of our meals outside in the screen house.

It was very easy to prepare and tasted very good, too.     When you think about cooking when you camp, try to simplify what you make but don't give up on having good, tasty meals.     We had grilled burgers one night, hot dogs and brats another, a Crock Pot chicken dish that had a wonderful sauce that we served over rice that was cooked in an electric rice cooker outside on our little cook center.    Larry made grilled chicken and grilled zucchini and squash one night with his George Foreman Electric Grill.   It is easy to clean up and cooks pork, chicken, burgers or veggies in a flash.   No need to worry about charcoal or firestarter.  With modern appliances, a little advance planning and modifying your recipes to make them easier to do at a camp site, you can eat rather well without breaking the bank or spending all your time slaving over a hot camp fire or camp stove.    Bon Appetit!    

Chicken Taco Soup
(This made enough to feed 3 kids and 4 adults and still have enough left overs for 2 or 3 more servings.)

2 Rotisserie Chickens, deboned
1 can of crushed tomatoes (28 oz.)
2 cans of black beans (14 oz. each)
1 1/2 - 2 cups of corn (frozen and allowed to thaw a little or canned)
1 box of chicken broth (32 oz.) 
1 Vidalia (or yellow) onion, chopped and cooked in microwave for 2 minutes or until soft
2 cloves of garlic, minced and cooked with onion in microwave to soften
1 tablespoon of Olive Oil
1 Envelope of Taco Seasoning
Salt, pepper and parsley flakes to taste

Line 6 qt. Crock Pot with a liner.    Add all ingredients and heat until hot and bubbly.   It may take several hours for your Crock Pot to reach this temperature but by using cooked chicken and canned beans you can significantly reduce the time necessary to make it safe to eat and for the flavors to blend.   Ours cooked for approximately 3 hours.

Serve with sour cream, grated cheddar cheese (or Queso Fresco) and your favorite corn chips!  Delicious, fast and tasty!   This tastes even better the next day after it sits in the refrigerator and the flavors "marry", as my big sis used to say.

Happy Trails,

1 comment:

  1. Thanks for that recipe! Sounds delicious. I'm making my shopping list now.


Please leave us a message! We want to hear from you and what you think. THANKS!