Filed under: Comfort at Camp, Family Camping, Menu Planning & Cooking
Our Top Five “Berry Best” Camp Meals
There are several criteria for making the grade as one of our “Berry Best” Camp Meals. First, the dish must be something we all like and will eat without complaint. Second, it has to have a preparation time of 30” or less. Finally, few pots (one if possible) and easy cleanup are essential. We don’t want to be spending all of our camping time cooking and cleaning up. For that I could stay home! The following five recipes have consistently made the grade as our “Berry Best” for these reasons:
1) Our “Berry Favorite” Camp Stew—the recipe for our favorite stew was shared in a post on February 14th, a special Valentine’s treat! Please check it out as this is our family favorite and the meal we make the first time out on every trip! A real crowd pleaser!
2) “Berry Good” Chili—There are many good chili recipes around so I won’t bore you with one more. Each family tends to have their favorite anyway. I will, however, share with you a few secrets that moved chili from a merely tolerable meal to a favorite with my family:
- Adding a few (3-5) small squares of dark chocolate when you add the tomatoes and tomato soup so that they melt and develop a rich hearty stew like consistency when combined with the tomatoes. You can also add a small amount (1/8-1/4 tsp) on cinnamon if you wish, but this is an individual taste. My children like the addition of cinnamon, but my husband, who will eat pretty much anything I make, doesn’t care for it.
- I prefer chili without noodles, but my family demands pasta, usually elbow macaroni. However, I have discovered that by boiling the macaroni and keeping them separate from the chili until serving it keeps the noodles firmer and tastier. I have also used rotini for a different texture at times.
- When serving a bowl, add the macaroni first, then top with the chili, and add shredded cheddar cheese and a dollop of sour cream (I prefer the fat free varieties of both). Delicious!
3) Jambalaya—My husband attended graduate school in New Orleans and this is his recipe adapted from a cookbook he picked up while living there.
- ½ to 1 lb. New Orleans sausage, chopped into pieces
- 2 boneless chicken breasts cut into 1 inch squares
- 2 Tablespoons canola oil
- 1 medium onion, chopped
- 1 clove garlic, minced
- 2 Tablespoons chopped fresh parsley (2 tsps dry)
- 1 can stewed tomatoes
- 1 bay leaf
- 1 tsp thyme
- 1/8 tsp. cayenne pepper (can omit if this is too spicy, but try it!)
- ½ teaspoon salt
- 1 cup uncooked long grain white rice
- 1.5 cups water
- 1 lb. raw peeled shrimp
Sauté sausage and chicken in oil for 3 minutes, then add onion and garlic and cook until tender. Add spices, tomatoes, rice and water and stir thoroughly. Add shrimp, bring to a boil. Reduce heat and cover tightly. Cook without stirring (or peeking—this is the hardest part!) over low heat for 25-35 minutes.
4) The Best Shrimp Ever! This is a very easy dish but is special enough for celebrations, such as having actually summated that mountain peak! We have also enjoyed it for New Year’s Eve and many other evenings when not on the road. It does require two pots, one for the shrimp and one for the pasta, so there is more cleanup, but it’s worth it once you taste these shrimp!
- 1 lb. raw, peeled shrimp
- 2-3 Tablespoons Extra Virgin Olive Oil
- 1 Tablespoon Light Butter
- 1 teaspoon paprika
- ½ teaspoon cumin
- 2 teaspoons of parsley.
Sauté shrimp in oil and butter, then add spices and cook at medium temperature until the shrimp is pink, and then serve over cooked fettuccini or your preferred pasta. If you like, you can add ¼ cup of white wine to make a bit of sauce as well, but this is not necessary.
5) Our “Berry Best” Breakfast (or Lunch or Dinner) Omelet. This is Terry’s specialty and, while we usually have this for a breakfast meal when not in a hurry to start an early hike, it is easily adaptable as a delicious lunch or dinner. It is also very versatile and adaptable to the individual tastes of all family members. The four of us currently traveling together usually end up with four slightly different omelets!
- 1-2 eggs per person (I prefer just one as I like to pack my omelet with lots of other goodies!),
- ham (or sausage or turkey—any meat will do),
- mushrooms, sliced
- cheese (again, for me it’s fat free cheddar),
- frozen hash browns,
- salt and pepper.
Simply combine the chosen ingredients in a sauté pan. Terry usually likes to brown the hash browns with teaspoon of (light) butter, then add meat and mushrooms. Then wisk eggs separately and pour over potato-meat mixture, add cheese and cover for about a minute. Fold mixture and allow another minute, then serve. He will occasionally add other spices, such as a bit of cumin or basil or oregano, depending on the desired flavor.
If you like, the entire mixture can also be topped with salsa and wrapped in a tortilla for a burrito or, as I prefer, topped with fresh cut tomatoes and a bit of sour cream for the “Berry Best” Omelet. For more recipes for easy to make camping meals, check out the complete selection of camping cookbooks at http://woodalls.com/online-store. Bon appetit!