Well, we've camped for the last time this season. The weather here in Iowa has been fantastic for the past four weeks. Sunny, warm days, cool nights, and basically no rain for a month. So, for our last camping trip we made some just regular comfort food. Now, if we were doing this at home, I’d probably go to the effort of making my own biscuits, but at the campground, the kind in the can are just too easy to pass up. Enjoy!
We know, you are probably thinking- another Tex Mex recipe???? Well, the answer is, yes.
So, we had 7 hungry adults and 3 kids with us this weekend so we needed something that would fill those empty stomachs. We also needed something that could be made in our 14" D.O. Originally, I had planned to use those pre-made burritos (which are very easy for a camping mom of a 20-month old and with the sauce are pretty good), but when Matt saw them in the freezer he wasn't having any part of that, even though I had emailed him the recipe. I guess that tells me how much he pays attention when I suggest camping food.
We love fall. It is the best season of all the seasons here in Iowa- dry, sunny days, cool nights, leaves turning, harvesting the crops, apple picking time, etc.
Fall is also a wonderful time to camp- bugs are gone (mostly), its no longer humid, days are sunny, and nights are cool.
So, before this trip, I decided we needed to make a "fall" dessert. Only, I knew I didn't want to make apple crisp, apple turnovers, or pumpkin cobbler (all things we've already done in the D.O.). Well, ultimately, we decided to make this dessert pizza based on a recipe from Very Best Baking. You will have some canned pumpkin leftover. Just save it to use for pumpkin pancakes the next morning.
Well, they always say, a well seasoned cast iron pot or pan is as good as any Teflon coated non-stick pan out there. I believe it. But I also know that I'm still not an expert cook and I can get things stuck on even Teflon pans.
So, when we are out camping, what do we do when we've got something stuck to the inside of our Dutch oven since using ANY soap is a big no-no?
We made this recipe the other night as a side dish for our supper. I really enjoyed it. Matt didn't care one way or the other (but, his opinion doesn't really count given he doesn't like Macaroni and Cheese).
While this is a great side dish for a picnic, I also think with a few add-ins (such as ham or browned ground beef) this could become a main dish too.
Okay, Okay, this isn't a D.O. recipe. But it is still for the campsite and probably would work in a Dutch Oven so I thought I'd share it anyway.
This dip is great served with Ritz or other buttery type crackers (heck could be good with any pretzels or any type of crackers- Triscuit, Club, Townhouse, etc.). This dip was a life saver- it kept the hungry kiddos at our campground from whining too much.
Campfire Pizza Dip
Cast Iron Skillet
1 8-ounce package cream cheese (we use the 1/3 fat kind)
1 to 1 1/2 teaspoons Italian Seasoning
1/2 of a 8-ounce jar pizza sauce
1 -2 cups mozzarella cheese
Set the cream cheese out to soften enough that you can blend in the Italian Seasoning. Once mixed, spread into an 8" cast iron skillet. Top with pizza sauce and then mozzarella. Heat over the campfire or a camp-stove until the mozzarella is melted (we covered our pan with foil to keep heat in, if you have a lid use that instead).
While snacking away, we thought that the following things would be quite tasty to be added in as a layer to the dip. When you give them a try, let me know how they taste:
Finely diced pepperoni or Canadian bacon
Some ground beef or Italian sausage
While at Rocky Mountain, we made sure to make dessert on both Saturday and Sunday. Saturday night we made the chocolate cake, which we've already featured on here once. On Sunday night, we made this TASTY bread pudding recipe. I mean, what isn't to love? Substitute bread cubes with cut up cinnamon rolls? Diced fall apples and a brown sugar crumble topping? Heaven.
Okay, we'll admit it, this wasn't our best effort as far as campground cooking goes. But, that isn't to say, this isn't worth giving another shot.
So, over Labor Day weekend, we camped at Estes National Park in Colorado with some family. Our list of dishes to cook over the weekend included baked beans (found here), chocolate cake (found here), French Dip Sandwiches, Cinnamon Apple Bread Pudding (new post coming) and Pizza Dip ( new post coming).
This recipe really has lots of promise, but we had a few slip ups in our exectution. Here were the issues we had:
1.) It takes a long time to cook. Matt and I aren't very good with remembering about kids being hungry. Our 10 and 8 year old neice and nephew were with us. Sure, our 18-mo old has to eat early, that is a given. So we fed her a hot dog. But the other kids were starving, asking "when will it be done?". So, if you give this a shot, allow plenty of cooking time.
2.) Tough Meat. We need to figure out what cut of meat is best and how best to cut it. So, we got a rump roast. The guy at the meat counter assured me that this would be perfect for a French Dip. Well, our meat ended up tough. So, we either need make one or all of the following changes: a different type of roast, make sure we are cutting the meat correctly (it was dark and we sort of hacked at it not paying any attention to the grain of the meat), or adjust the cooking time.
Those issues aside this recipe has pomise. We will give it another shot and report back. In the meantime, try it and give us any tips you might come up with.
We've been dying to use our new 14 inch Lodge Dutch Oven. We got in months ago, but alas, there just isn't a whole lot that you can make in a 14-incher that would suit two people. But, after watching Billy & Sue Ruiz on Cowboy Flavor (RFD TV) make a Rum Raisin Pie in a regular pie plate then placed in a 14" DO, we thought, "we can do that!"
Erin's parents brought a sack full of fresh apples from their orchard a short while back. We've been eating on them, but there are still a lot left needing to be used. With a hankering for an apple pie and desire to use the 14-inch DO, we set out to bake a Rustic Apple Pie.
Its official- we've gone "picking". We're junk pickers, antique pickers, treasure pickers... you know the type... the ones you see on the History Channel now. After only going one time, I wouldn't say were experts or even claim we are truely "pickers"... but today, I'll say we are.
Yes, we LOVE that show- American Pickers! What's not to love... two funny guys from Iowa driving around the country side visiting obsessive compulsive collectors and looking for and finding great deals on cool old stuff.
Well, over the weekend we channeled our inner Mike and Frank. While visiting some family in Southwestern Iowa, we decided to drive over to the infamous "Mrs. King's" place. We've been hearing Matt's cousins talk about this place where this little old lady has building after building PACKED full of old stuff. Just a bunch of old junk thrown every which way. Here there and everywhere. Parts of buildings are falling down and open to the elements. Sections of buildings small like raccoon p*$$, um I mean urine. Its a scene straight out of American Pickers on History Channel.
So, even though it was a hot day and we weren't dressed to pick (flip-flops aren't the best footwear for the job), we just started looking through stuff. We were especially on the look out for old Dutch ovens. We want a Griswold. Bad. We really want one.
Matt found a couple black pots stacked back in a nook of this old building. After climbing up and over an old wrought iron bed frame, a rotten old mattress, a buggy seat, an old ladder, a modern Graco stroller, and numerous other artifacts. Matt started handing down old grimy, greasy, rusty, cast iron pots.
Unfortunately, none, except one, had a lid, and the one with a lid had been severely cracked and mended on one side. Darn. Well, undaunted, the pickers (us) kept on looking. After searching through several buildings and some piles of junk covered in weeds, we had found 3 rusty cast-iron skillets. Even though they weren't D.O.s, we were still excited to expand our cast-iron collection for camping- plus one of them was a Griswold.
After we decided we were done hunting, we had to go and present our finds to "The Queen" (Mrs. King). She sat inside the house in her old recliner. Anybody who wanted to possibly buy something had to go in, show her what you wanted and wait for her to give you a price. The scene was hysterical. Erin went with the first two skillets- a 8" Wagner Ware and a No. 6 Griswold. Mrs. King said, "$3 ea". Sold.
Matt had stayed outside with his single skillet and was still kinda looking around for that elusive D.O. Still, no luck. Better go in and pay. When Matt presented his find to "The Queen" she had her granddaughter pull out the price book. Uh-Oh. This isn't good. She's not gonna give Matt a good deal.
"How about $8".
Matt replies, "Gosh, you gave my wife a lot better deal."
"What she give me for hers?"
Her granddaughter says, "$6; three each."
Matt jumps in, "Well, how about $5." The Queen agreed. So, for $11 we walked out with 3 rusty old cast-iron skillets and no D.Os. I guess if even one turns out to be usable, we made out alright.
Coming soon... our cleaning and re-seasoning process.
Since we are now camping with a very busy 18-month old, our campground recipe choices need to be simpler. We tried this recipe out last week and decided there aren't many campground casseroles out there that would be a whole lot easier.
We've been a little busy and sure wish that we could have/ would have participated in the little competition among D.O. bloggers for the month of July. But alas, we didn't. Would have been great to do it too. So, since we haven't been Dutch oven cooking, what have we been up to?
It was about 2:00 in the afternoon when Matt emailed Erin at work and said he felt like corn for supper. Of course, he was hungry for something we didn't have at home. This meant that in between work projects and phone calls, Erin did a quick search for a corn casserole recipe (since we were wanting something different than our standard corn casserole).
Okay, this is our first attempt at completely creating a recipe. If we did a recipe search, we'd probably burst our bubble of pride and find that we are not all that creative and somebody else already made this up. But, since we haven't done that we will continue on in our recipe creation state of bliss!
Seems like the Dutch oven lends it self very well to Italian and Mexican type recipes. Looking back at all the things we have made in the past, there seems to be an abundance of either type of food. Oh well.
Tonight, we grilled steak for the first time for the season. What goes better with a steak on the grill? Roasted potatoes of course.
This recipe was simple to put together and simple to cook. We'd only do one thing different- reduce the amount of oil that was used. (The recipe calls for 1/3 cup olive oil, next time we'll try it with 1/4 cup.)
This simple recipe packs easily for camping and is simple to put together in your outdoor, campground kitchen (picnic table & fire ring).
Here are a couple recipes that we fixed just last night for a little barbeque we had with Matt's cousin and his wife. We pulled out both Dutch ovens (a standard 10" and a deep 12") to cook up a side dish and a dessert to go along with barbeque chicken breasts on the grill. Both recipes are really good and super simple to make. Simple enough that we would do these while camping too.
This is a recipe that we make all year long.- inside and outside. Once the weather warms up, we take it outside for cooking in the Dutch oven over hot coals.
Actually, that is a good reminder to let all you readers know (and I know there are lots of you), that any of these camping/D.O. recipes can be made at home in casserole dishes. Most of them cooked for the time specified at 350° F.
Matt's mom makes a mean pot of baked beans. The trouble is that she doesn't have a recipe. Like most good cooks who have a specialty, she does it simply by look and feel. She once wrote down what she thought was her recipe, but no matter what we do, we can't seem to replicate it. So, tonight, we gave it up & decided to make our own batch/recipe of baked beans in the Dutch oven.
Matt said he felt a little like he was cheating on his mom (or at least his mom's baked beans). Cheating aside, this is probably the best batch of baked beans we've ever made.
Well, we use the term “pizza” liberally. It isn’t really a pizza in a traditional sense, but it is built much like a pizza & we don’t really know what else to call it.
Unfortunately, we don’t have any pictures of this recipe today. We’ll post some next time we make it. This is a great recipe for camping because it is easy, hearty, and feeds 6-8 people pretty well (depending upon how much hiking you did in the day). The ingredients are flexible- add anything you want; delete anything you want. When you give this recipe a shot, let us know what you used for toppings. We’d love to see what others come up with.
Top o' the mornin' to ya... or evening... or lunchtime.... or whenever you are reading this. In honor of St. Patty's day, we decided to attempt a soda bread for the D.O. We considered Corned Beef and Cabbage, but decided for a weeknight that might not work for us timing wise.
March 14, 2010: The snow has finally melted, and Matt and Erin can begin Dutch Oven cooking again.
We have had snow on the ground since the first week in December. So, not only did it snow a lot this past year, but it stayed and stayed. Just last weekend, there was still a lot of snow on the ground and it was pretty cold. Then, in the past week, we've gotten warmer weather and rain which has dissolved those snow piles quite rapidly. Finally, spring seems to be on its way, and we are more than ready to start our outdoor cooking.
SNOW, that is? Winter has been awful this year. I think Des Moines is going to break a record for total snow fall this year. Not only has there been a lot of snow, it has stayed. Piles and piles and piles of snow. When will it go away so we can start using our D.O.??