Trail Eats: Gourmet Car Camping Fare

The latest recipes from our column “Trail Eats” in the May & June 2012 issue of Washington Trails magazine are for gourmet yet comfort food car camping – and if you don’t mind a heavier backpack, these recipes can be easily made while backpacking as well.

The recipes are, I will admit different from what we eat daily, but I also realize that camping can be a fun time! And if one shops carefully and has a cooler along they can get all-natural versions of the pepperoni and use fresh crab (if car camping). If you would like to see more recipes for backpacking, hiking and car camping, head over to our sister site, Trail Cooking.

Crab Mac n’ Cheese
Pack in a quart plastic bag:
8 ounces uncooked macaroni
1 Tbsp dried onion

Pack in a sandwich bag:
1/2 cup dry milk
3 Tbsp all-purpose flour
1 Tbsp dried parsley
2 tsp dry mustard
1 tsp dried garlic
1/4 tsp ground black pepper

Also take:
8 ounce bag shredded sharp cheddar cheese
6 ounce can white crab meat

In a 2 or 3 Liter pot bring 3 1/2 cups water to a boil, add in the macaroni/onion and cook for time on pasta package, turning down the flame as needed to maintain a gentle boil.
Drain the crab meat (the cans often have parchment paper in them, be sure to discard). When pasta is done (do not drain), turn the flame to very low and add in the seasoning bag and crab meat, stir well. Turn off the stove and add about 3/4 of the cheese, stir till melted. Taste for seasoning and add more pepper and or salt as desired (or a shake or two of hot sauce!).
Dish up and top with the remaining cheese.
Serves 2 large or 3 small portions.

Pizza Biscuits
Pack in a gallon plastic bag:
1 cup all-purpose flour
3 Tbsp dry milk
1 Tbsp Italian herb blend
1 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp dried garlic
1/2 tsp ground black pepper
1/4 tsp salt

Also take:
1 package shelf stable pepperoni
2 ounces string cheese (2 sticks)
2 Tbsp vegetable oil, in leak proof bottle
1 packet of pizza sauce (Boboli brand for example)

Open up the bag and fold over making a “bowl”. Dice up the cheese and add it and half the pepperoni to the bag along with 1/2 cup cool water, stir till mixed.
Heat a non-stick frying pan or shallow/wide pot over a medium flame, add half the oil and drop in small biscuit size of dough, flatten a bit and let cook till golden, flip over and cook till golden as well, lowering the stove’s flame if cooking too fast.
Set aside and repeat with the remaining dough and oil.
Serve with the pizza sauce for dipping.
Makes about 6 biscuits, enough for 2 to 3.
The shelf stable pepperoni is found often with deli meat in grocery stores refrigerated but doesn’t need to be kept cold until opened – it is noted on the label, Hormel is most common for brands. It comes with two separate inner packets, you need just one. Or look for Hormel’s Mini Pepperoni slices (also shelf stable) and use half of the 5 ounce bag. See above at the top about sourcing more natural versions if desired.


Photos by my husband.

Trail Eats – 3 New Recipes

My “real life” business is trail cooking, or rather recipes and gear for backpacking, hiking, kayaking or whatever sport a person loves. Kirk and I have worked on a couple more books (the recipes are done, the final editing isn’t) but our first book has been out for a couple of years and has done well for us – Freezer Bag Cooking: Trail Food Made Simple.

We write a column for the WTA’s Wa Trails Magazine, “Trail Eats”, which comes out every other month. After the issue has been out we add the recipes to TrailCooking, our website. I love the writing of the recipes because I get to have fun with them and play with the theme. And it keeps me busy thinking about new ideas 😉

So…..Fall is here, the air is crisp and the days are shorter. Heartier meals to keep the cold at bay! These don’t have to be “outdoor recipes” either, they make great lunches or dinners for two :-) And best of all they use pantry items on hand, great for emergency kits as well. Lets put it this way….I’d prefer to eat tasty food over slop 😉

PS: Kids love the PB Bites. Great for lunches and snacks!

P’Nut Butter & Granola Bites

1/4 cup honey or agave nectar
1/4 cup natural peanut butter, creamy or chunky
1 cup puffed rice cereal (Rice Krispies©)
3/4 cup granola of choice

Spray a 9×5” loaf pan with cooking spray and set aside.

In a medium saucepan heat the honey over medium heat till it comes to a boil. Pull off the heat and stir in the peanut butter. Quickly work the cereals in till coated.
Using a silicone spatula pack the mixture into the pan and press down gently.
Chill in the refrigerator for a couple of hours, turn out of the pan and cut into pieces. Stash in the refrigerator until trip time. Cary tightly sealed in a plastic bag.

Serves 2

We used a chocolate hazelnut granola from Safeway, use what you like!

Chicken and Apple Soup

In a sandwich bag:
1 cup instant rice
1/3 cup chopped dried apples
1/4 cup chopped sun-dried tomatoes (dry, not oil-packed)
1 Tbsp diced dried onion
4 tsp chicken bouillon (regular or lower sodium)
2 tsp mild curry powder
2 tsp dried parsley
1 tsp granulated garlic or garlic powder

Also take:
7-ounce foil pouch chicken

Add the dry ingredients, chicken (with any broth) and 4 cups water to a large pot (2 Liter works well) and bring to a full boil. Take off the heat, cover tightly and let sit for 10 minutes. In cooler weather or at high altitude wrap your pot in a pot cozy.

Serves 2 large or 3 medium servings

This soup is an easy last-minute recipe – everything you need can be found at most grocery stores. Find the tomatoes hidden in the produce department (look up high), apples with the dried fruit and onions in the spice section. It can also be made vegetarian by leaving out the chicken and using vegetable broth, just double the tomatoes and apples!

Lemon Tuna Spaghetti with Breadcrumbs

In a sandwich bag:
8 ounces spaghetti, broken into thirds

Also take:
1 Tbsp or 1 packet olive oil
1/4 cup pitted kalamata olives, chopped
3 Tbsp lemon juice (3 packets or 1 lemon)
2.6 to 3 ounce pouch Albacore or Light tuna

In a small bag:
1/4 cup seasoned breadcrumbs
1/4 cup shelf stable Parmesan cheese
1 tsp dried parsley
1/4 tsp ground black pepper

In your pot bring 4 cups water to boil. Add in the pasta and cook for time on package, drain carefully reserving 1/2 cup of the pasta water.
Add in the oil, olives, lemon juice, tuna and reserved water to the pot, and toss to combine.
Sprinkle with breadcrumb mixture and toss again.

Serves 2

For short trips carrying olives is fine, they are nicely preserved. Use any favorite pitted type from the olive bar! For longer trips or to save weight substitute freeze-dried olives (find at, add with the pasta to rehydrate.
Lemon juice packets and olive oil packets can be found online from For lighter weight use 3 packets of True Lemon (found in the baking aisle at most stores) and 3 Tbsp water.
For extra calories in winter consider using the newish foil packets of tuna packed in olive oil (found in many grocery stores in the tuna aisle).


Dinner and Dessert For Two – A Backpacking Feast

Kirk and I write the column Trail Eats for Washington Trails Magazine (well I develop the recipes and he shoots the photos!). I love the column and have had a lot of fun – it keeps my mind active. The last issue out (July/August 2011) was a backcountry feast for two involving fish tacos. Lets say that I don’t fish so I made it cheater fish tacos using easy-to-catch pouched tuna from the grocery store 😉 PS: Recently we did a Vegetarian Dayhiker’s Picnic – so go check it out as well! And if you want to see more of what I write for hiking….come over to TrailCooking!

The three recipes:

Fish Tacos


  • 2 5-ounce pouches Albacore tuna or salmon
  • 1 Tbsp olive oil (1 packet)
  • 2 small or 1 large fresh lime(s)
  • 4 small soft taco size tortillas

In a small spice bag:

  • 1 tsp Old Bay seasoning blend
  • 1 tsp granulated garlic

In a sandwich bag:

  • 1 cup shredded cabbage (plain or tri-color with carrots)

Heat the oil in your pan (or frypan lid if you have one) over a low flame. Add in the spices and the tuna or salmon, gently heat through till sizzling, stirring often.
Divide between the tortillas, cut the lime(s) in half and squeeze over, top with cabbage as desired.

Serves 2.

Do you fish? For tasty fresh caught fish tacos, once you catch and clean your fish, prepare the fish in bite size chunks in the way you prefer – be it gently steamed or pan-fried and then proceed as above. This works great over a camp stove or a campfire. You will want to pack more oil though.

Like heated tortillas? Bring a piece of aluminum foil about 3 times as big as your tortillas (you can gently fold it at home to make it small). Before starting the fish, heat up your tortillas one at a time in a dry pan. Stash the hot tortillas in the foil, folding over like an envelope and they will keep warm while you cook!

Fresh cabbage is easy to carry while hiking and stays crisp for days. For ease, buy pre-shredded bags.

If you like salsa on your tacos you can pick up individual packets at

Herbed Tomato Rice

In a quart freezer or sandwich bag:

  • 1 cup instant rice (white or brown)
  • 1/4 cup freeze-dried corn
  • 1/4 cup diced sun-dried tomatoes
  • 1 Tbsp diced dried onion
  • 1 1/2 tsp lower sodium beef or chicken flavor bouillon
  • 1 tsp granulated garlic
  • 1/4 tsp dried oregano

Also take:

  • 1 Tbsp olive oil (1 packet)
  • 2 sticks cheddar or pepper-jack cheese (2 ounces)

FBC method:
Add 1 1/2 cups near boiling water and the oil to the dry ingredients in a quart freezer bag. Seal tightly and tuck in a freezer bag cozy to insulate for 15 minutes.

One pot method:
Bring 1 1/2 cups water and the oil to a boil, add in the dry ingredients. Take off the heat and cover tightly. Let sit for 15 minutes (in cooler temperatures or at altitude use a pot cozy to retain heat).

Dice up the cheese and fold in.

Serves 2 as a side dish.

Find in the cheese sticks in the dairy aisle near the string cheese.

Berry Dessert

In a sandwich bag pack:

  • 1/4 cup sugar
  • 1 Tbsp cornstarch or arrowroot flour
  • 1 tsp ground cinnamon
  • 1 tsp dried lemon zest

Also take:

  • 1 Tbsp butter or margarine
  • Cake of choice for topping (pound cake, desert cups, angel food cake, Twinkies, etc)
  • Pick 2 cups Huckleberries, Blueberries or Blackberries while hiking or in camp.

Add the dry ingredients to your pot, stir in 2 Tablespoons cool water and add the berries. Place the butter on top and over a very low flame on your stove bring the mixture to a gentle boil, stirring often. Once thickened, take off the stove and serve with your choice of cake.

Serves 2.

For a lighter weight version (and ability to carry long-term) substitute 1 Tablespoon butter powder. Butter powder can be found in specialty kitchen shops, online ( or you can use Molly McButter/Butter Buds, found in the spice aisle at grocery stores. Dried lemon zest is also found in the spice aisle.
A small fresh lemon carried and squeezed in is a wonderful gourmet touch.


Do You Like To Hike? Backpack? Camp?

Hiking has been an odd hobby for me – I hated walking as a child. My Grandmother loved nothing more than dragging me, my brother and my cousins on death marches on the Oregon Coast (OK, they were not that long but when I was 8 they were!). Yet now I am the only one of us that loves hiking. So you never know.

I started hiking as an adult in college (which many people do!) but then stopped after I got out. I started driving (finally had enough money to afford a car) and got lazy. It wasn’t till I had my oldest son that a visit to the Hoh Rain Forest sparked my desire again. Ford had turned 1 not long before and I carried him in an awful backpack carrier that had no support. But something changed when I looked up the Hoh River Trail. I wanted to see what was up there. I eventually did though it took me a few years to get back – and Ford went with me.

Back in the dark days before blogging took off and even websites for personal use I somehow found the internet and found something – I wasn’t the only one who loved hiking (even though it felt like that) but also that there were lots of women who did and some even had kids. I met a lot of other hikers in person through forums and even found some good friends that way who I still hike with to this day. But what came out of it all wasn’t something I expected. I ended up finding my career of sorts, outdoor cooking. From a one page blog-like-website to what it is now – TrailCooking.

Out of it came my first book, Freezer Bag Cooking: Trail Food Made Simple:

The book was neat, I never had thought about writing before I found my niche in trail cooking. Not only was it fun, it fueled my creativity. I have written two more manuscripts that need to be finished and published – both of which are done recipe wise – just other things pop up in life. I don’t mind though, as I said it is my creativity fuel and it got me into blogging, which opened up this blog. The day my first copy sold it was an intense feeling to know that…I had achieved that American Dream – of writing a book. And better, someone paid me for it! Years later I am still selling many copies a year and it opened up other cool things – writing my TrailCooking blog, an article on me in Backpacker Magazine in 2007 and more recently (in the March 20011 issue of Backpacker Magazine) I co-authored an article on the newest in outdoor cookware with my good friend Cat. Kirk and I also write/photograph a column, Trail Eats, for Washington Trails Magazine, which is published by WTA. (And even more fun stuff here)

The recipes I develop change by the year and what I am interested in (pretty much like my at home cooking!). What doesn’t change though is my freaky love of hiking – and dragging my kids along with me. I know at 13 Ford grumbles like I did, but I figure at 19 he will be a know-it-all who looks down his nose when his buddies are “hey lets go backpacking” and Ford will be….”uh yeah, I have done that like a zillion times” 😉 And hopefully soon enough Walker will be walking with me (instead of on my back!).

So if you like the outdoors check out my other site – you might find something you like!


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