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So here we are, it’s time for camping again.

Awesome.

I love the time spent with friends and family about a campfire, relaxing and swapping stories.

Then again, this past weekend was in the mid 40’s, windy, and drizzling with a cold soaking rain the whole time we were there. You know, that kind of weather where even your bones are starting to ache?

Well, that was this weekend.

Here, let me show you around the place.

Here is my house, at least for half the weekend. It finally gave up the ghost in the Friday night windstorms. A replacement was then purchased at the nearest wally world, which I failed at taking pictures of.

 

Here is my kitchen for the weekend (well, that a fire pit, and a grill). Note: the 25 foot trailer with the deck is not part of my campsite, though I envied them with their furnace.

 

Last but not least the trucks that took us there. My pair of old Jeeps. (one to haul gear and the other to haul firewood for four families)

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Now, I didn’t come here today to show off my awesome collection of mismatched coolers, or to post the past rites of my 10 year old tent (may it rest in peace, or more likely in a landfill).

I came here to talk about one of the most important aspects of camping.

You can have all your friends with you, have a week in the campground with no lost or broken items (or people), you could even have that iPhone app that pours unlimited beer, but if you don’t have good tasting easy to cook food your trip will be a bust.

Guess what we were all talking about Saturday night?

Not about the cold, or the recurring drizzle, or even about the laundry list of things we thought about bringing with only after we were there.

We talked about lasagna.

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Here I think I am going to give a day in the life, though I don’t have all the pictures I thought I took. You see, Apparently I had consumed several adult beverages by then, and took many pictures of my thumb.

You are stuck with whats left.

Don’t like it? Well then come camping with me next time and take your own pictures. =)

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For starters we have breakfast. (go figure right?)

Saturdays choice was eggs in a bag. Tastes good, easy to make, virtually no clean up.

Ingredients:

  • 2-3 eggs per person.
  • half a handful of shredded cheese per person
  • 1 sandwich or quart sized zip top freezer bag per person
  • any other fixins you would normally put into an omolette, diced or minced as needed

In my case I was having a simple ham and cheese omelette.

First things first, get yourself a big 'ol pot and boil yourself some water.

 

My fixin's. Eggs, shredded cheddar, diced ham, and a bag.

 

I put it all in the bag (it is eggs in a bag, after all)

 
 

Then I proceeded to squish it all about till it looked like the uncooked omelette that is really was, just make sure you get most of the air out of the bag while your at it. The kids love this part.

 

A ten minute or so visit to the big pot of boiling water is next on the agenda.

 

Once the time is up, pull the bag out of the pot and enjoy. You can toss them on a plate if you choose, or do like I do and simply eat it straight from the bag.

 
Will, that takes care of breakfast. What should we do for lunch?
 
Remember that big ‘ol pot you boiled I boiled my eggs in? Well, it’s next in line to get what my wife likes to call “crazy soup”. It an old camping favorite since just about forever.
 
Do I have pics? Well, kind of.
 

This might be a picture of me boiling the eggs, or cooking the soup, or perhaps boiling the lasagna noodles. Either way we will pretend that there is soup in the pot for now.

 
 
 
Crazy soup is pretty easy. You take one can of any kind of non-cream based condensed soup for every 1-2 persons, add in a can of water per can as well, and boil it. In our case we had chicken and rice, minestrone, beef vegetable, and two cans of garden vegetable.
 
It was awesome, and especially welcome in the chilly weather.
 
last but not least was the dutch oven lasagna. It came out pretty good, and was actually really easy to make.
 
Dutch Oven Lasagna:
 
Ingredients:
  • 3  Cans of tomato sauce (or spaghetti sauce) 16 oz each
  • 2 lbs of ground turkey (or beef I suppose)
  • 2 lbs of Italian sausage (I used turkey for this as well)
  • 2 lbs shredded mozzarella cheese (finely shredded works best)
  • 2 lbs ricotta cheese (others use cottage cheese, I prefer ricotta, your mileage may vary)
  • 3 eggs
  • 1 lb lasagna noodles

 

Equipment:

  • 14″ dutch oven
  • skillet (to brown the meat, or do that at home)
  • large pot (to boil noodles)

Instructions:

Brown the meat, set aside.

Mix the cheese and eggs, set aside.

Boil the noodles, set aside.

Build the lasagna by placing first a can of sauce, then alternating layers of meat, cheese, and noodles, with another can of sauce at the halfway point. The last layer will ideally be the last can of sauc topped by cheese. (usually I reserve some of the mozzarella to make sure.)

Put the lid on and cook with coals top and bottom for about 45  to 55 minutes.

I suppose you could use a regular pan in the oven too, but this is about camp cooking after all.

It goes well with toasted garlic bread, but I’m sure you could figure that part out without help.

So who wants to go camping?

I’ll cook, you take the pictures.

 

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Ok, let me start off by saying this is not a 30 minute meal.

30 minutes is the time you will actually spend in the kitchen, but if it’s already 5:30 and you need dinner on the table by 6 it ain’t happening with this recipe.

Also keep in mind, this recipe was designed with feeding a household of 6 in mind, possibly with guests and still have leftovers. I bring it to pot luck type things, and cook it for my Boy Scout troop when we are camping.

One batch is a lot of food, just so you have been warned.

On the plus side, it goes really well into freezer bags. Just thaw before reheating or it turns into glop.

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Alrighty, here’s what we are going to do.

First fire up your imaginations, because all the pics I took were on my phone when I plugged it into my computer to charge, wherein it promptly erased everything and put a new version of the iPhone software on in its place.

Don’t blame me, blame Apple.

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Anyhow, we are going to be doing several things at once here. I’ll divide it up into groups.

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Group one.

Grab yourself  3lbs of ground turkey that you already thawed out. I suppose you could use some other kind of meat, or possibly even a meat substitute. I honestly don’t know how it would come out though. Never tried it with anything but turkey.

Take the turkey and brown it with a bit of cooking spray, drain and put it in the big pot.

That was the easiest one, but the others are not much harder.

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Group two.

Take one medium white onion and dice it up as fine as you can. Then take one medium-sized jalapeno pepper seed it and dice it. (Rubber gloves are you friend for this step, especially if you wear contacts like me)

Put the onion and pepper in a skillet with a bit of oil and saute over medium heat until the onions begin to get translucent. I also shake on some garlic salt during this, probably about a half teaspoon or so, I never actually measured it. Also, I use olive oil when I cook. Your mileage may vary.

Once they are ready, toss them in the big pot as well.

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Group three.

Boil some water, once it’s rolling good add 2 cups of elbow noodles (measured dry of course). Cook for 7 minutes and then drain.

I’m pretty sure you can handle this part without detailed instructions.

Once drained, add to the big pot.

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Group four (also known as the big pot)

Take a good large pot, I use the same stock pot I boil whole ears of corn in, and set it on the counter.

Bust out your can opener and put  three 14-16 oz cans of chili beans, three 14.5 oz cans of peeled diced tomatoes, two cans of water (use the ones from the chili beans, you’ll rescue extra sauce as well) and one package of store-bought chili seasoning dust (I use McCormick medium heat, grab what you prefer) into the stock pot.

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Finally

Once all four groups are dumped into the pot, stir it all up, cover it up, and simmer over medium heat for at least 30 minutes, but all day works too.

Serve with buttered bread, crackers, and/or corn bread for an awesome meal that really sticks to your ribs.

Hope you like it.

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Ack! I need lunch!

Ever found yourself saying that?

I’m hungry, I need lunch, and I only have a half hour?

Ever find yourself hitting the cupboard for sandwich fixin’s and chips, or worse fast food, when that happens?

Well, me too. That is, until I came up with this little recipe. It’s dirt cheap to make, tastes good, and is actually pretty good for you.

Sound like I am going to tell you it can all be yours for only $19.99? With free shipping if you call right now?

Yep, I thought so. Well this ones on the house, enjoy it.

I know I do.

 

Brad’s Wanna be Stir Fry:

We are going to have three “teams” of ingredients going on here. Just like your favorite Chinese restaurant you get to pick one from each column.

 

The carbohydrate team:

1 package of Ramen noodles, any flavor. Cook according to package directions, drain, then set aside. Don’t add the seasoning packet yet.

or

2/3 cup of rice measured dry (brown or wild is best). Cook according to package directions, set aside.

 

The protien team:

4 ounces of leftover meat, your choice, diced. (I prefer chicken)

or

a 4 ounce chicken breast tender, cooked and diced.

0r

a small can (8 ounce or so) can of beans. (red kidney or great northern both work)

 

The Veggie team:

About a half bag (2 cups or so) frozen veggies. remembering that some veggies, corn in particular, has a lot of carbs. This is supposed to be the veggie (or fiber) team so I tend to stay with your basic mixed vegatables, perhaps throwing in a Wiscionsin blend or premade stirfry veggie from time to time.

 

Cooking:

The cooking for this one is simple. Get yourself a big ‘ol frying pan (I use a 14 incher with deep sides). Spray it down with a bit of cooking spray, and drop in your frozen veggies. Add salt, pepper, and any other spices you feel like at this time.

 Cook over medium high heat (7 out of 10 on my stove, your milage may vary), stirring frequently. Keep this up until the veggies are completley thawed and starting to brown a bit, about ten minutes or so.

Once the veggies are ready to go toss in your protien and carbohydrate teams. Add about 1/3 cup water at this point, if you used the ramen noodles add the seasoning pack now, otherwise add any spices you may have missed earlier. A teaspoon or so of powdered chicken bullion works well also if you used the rice.

Keep the heat to it and continue to cook for about 5 minutes or so, until the water is mostly cooked off. Toss it in a bowl and enjoy.

 

Yes, its wanna be, because it’s not a true stir fry. It sill tastes yummy though. The best thing about this is you can mix and match the different parts of the meal to make something different every day.

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A few nights ago I was sitting around thinking about dinner. Yes, I do that from time to time.

I was thinking about what to have later this week when it occurred to me that my 14 year old daughter would be out of town. Not that I did not know that, it just had not figured into my meal planning until right about then.

You see there are five of us living in the house, she is the picky one. I swear sometimes she simply does not like anything. Her biggest pet complaint is that she can’t stand pasta. Unless it is mac-n-cheese but that is another story.

Kind of like my nephew that would not eat hot dogs for anything but was fine once I started cooking them and calling them frankfurters. Actually to this day he insists that there is a huge difference between the two and only buys franks when he goes shopping.

I even had my son go through a phase where he would not eat a cheeseburger, but his hamburgers had to have cheese on them. I very nearly chewed the face off of some kid that worked at Mcdoodles because of it. He just could not get it through his head that I was ordering a hamburger with cheese for this reason even when I explained it to him

*huff*

Ok, well that was an interesting tangent. Perhaps I will write more about my adventures in parenting another time. For right now I am here to put the recipe I use for turkey spaghetti and meatballs somewhere where I can’t lose it again. While I am at it I can get it off the faded sheet of paper with the red thumbprint in the corner and clean it up a bit.

So here goes nothing.

 

spaghetti-and-meatballs-716911

 

Spaghetti with Turkey Meatballs

I start by grabbing a cookie sheet and giving it a light spray with some no-stick spray. I usually use an olive oil one, but for this it really does not matter since I am just using it as  glue. Cut a sheet of parchment paper to size and stick it to the cookie sheet. While we are at it preheat the oven to 400 degrees.  you can just use the no stick spray and skip the parchment paper, but I think it comes out better with it, Less meatball stickage.

Ok, now we can get our hands dirty.

In a good sized mixing bowl combine 1 pound of ground turkey (you can use chicken as well, try to stay with white meat if possible), 1 egg white, 1 teaspoon each of dried oregano and dried basil (I have been known to just use the blended Italian seasoning instead), 1 tablespoon of cornmeal, 1/2 teaspoon of salt (I use kosher salt, you mileage may vary) and 2 cloves of garlic – minced. Now get in there and mix it all together, remember I said we would get our hands dirty?

Once it is all mixed together form it into about palm sized balls, if you get about 18 or so you made them the right size. If not, I suppose you could always mix it back together and try again, or not, up to you. Place them on the cookie sheet about an inch or so apart. Bake at 400 degrees until cooked through. It should be about 20 minutes or so, turning after 10 minutes. Set them aside once they are done.

Note: you can make a pile of these all at once and freeze them for later. Using an ice cube tray to freeze them individually will help keep them from sticking together in the freezer bag later.

While that is going on get about 1 tablespoon (you can eyeball it) of olive oil going on medium high heat. I use a 7 out of 10 on my stove… but you can’t have my stove, I am still using it. Add one medium sized onion – diced, 2 more cloves of garlic – minced (no werewolves in my house I can tell ya) and 2 teaspoons of dried basil (once again mixed Italian seasonings work in a pinch). Cook for about two or three minutes stirring occasionally until the onions are slightly softened. Stir in a 6 oz can of tomato paste, a 28 oz can of Italian plum tomatoes along with the juice from the can (chopped if you can get it, otherwise roughly chop them yourself), 1/2 teaspoon of salt, and 1/4 teaspoon of black pepper.

Bring this to a boil, stirring occasionally. Reduce heat and simmer partly covered until the sauce starts to thicken up, about 13 to 15 minutes. (I use a cookie sheet to partly cover the pan. Use what you have, be creative.) Stir in the meatballs and continue to simmer until the sauce finishes thickening up and the meatballs are heated through, it should be about 10 more minutes.

Note: if making this in advance divide the sauce into ice cube trays and freeze, then divide between 4 – 6 zip top bags. If  you divide it into six portions you can freeze 3 of your meatballs along with each 1/6th of the sauce in a sandwich sized bag. great for a quick 15 – 20 minute meal for one during the week. Just nuke the sauce and meatballs in a bowl while you boil up a bit of pasta to serve it on. I have had it last up to 6 months in the chest freezer.

Meanwhile Take  3/4 lb of pasta (I prefer whole wheat spaghetti, but I am a bit odd) and cook it according to the package directions. Drain it, split it between six plates, and give each one three meatballs and about a half cup of sauce. Shake on some Parmesan cheese if you are in the mood for it and dig in.

 

 

Shopping list

1 pound ground turkey or chicken. (White meat preferred)

1 egg (you only need the white)

4 cloves of garlic (will be minced, get preminced if you prefer)

1 tablespoon of cornmeal

1 teaspoon of dried oregano (can sub in blended Italian seasoning if you prefer)

3 teaspoons of dried basil (can sub in blended Italian seasoning if you prefer)

1 tablespoon of olive oil (I use extra virgin)

1 medium sized onion (will be diced if you want to do that in advance)

1 can of tomato paste 6 oz

1 can of Italian plum tomatoes (chopped if you can find it, do it yourself otherwise)

1 teaspoon salt (I use kosher, table salt works too)

1/4 teaspoon black pepper

3/4 pound of spaghetti (I use whole wheat, and have also been known to use the whole 1 lb box… shhh don’t tell anyone)

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