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 – No Cook Meals For The Trail

The latest recipes from our column, “Trail Eats” In Washington Trails Magazine (the March/April 2012 issue, page 40).

Three courses for those rainy & cold spring hikes! Do the work at home and eat gourmet while everyone else has a soggy PB&J!

Pistachio Couscous Salad

2 cups lower sodium vegetable or chicken broth
1 Tbsp diced dried onion
1½ cup couscous
15 ounce can chickpeas (garbanzo beans), rinsed and drained

¼ cup white balsamic vinegar (or white wine vinegar)
¼ cup extra virgin olive oil
1 Tbsp honey or agave nectar
½ tsp ground black pepper
¼ tsp dried basil

¼ cup shelled and diced pistachios

Bring the broth and onion to a boil in a medium saucepan, add in the couscous. Take off the heat, cover tightly and let sit for 10 minutes. Fluff up the couscous with a fork into a large bowl, toss with the chickpeas.
Whisk the dressing in a small bowl. Pour the dressing over the salad and toss to coat. Let chill overnight, stir in the nuts and then pack into lightweight sandwich containers (such as Glad or Ziploc brand ones) with tight-fitting lids.
Makes 2-3 large portions.

If vegetable broth and agave are used this recipe is vegan friendly.

Hearty Spinach & Artichoke Wraps

1 burrito size flour tortilla, per wrap (see notes)
1 Tbsp ranch dressing, per wrap
2 slices cheese, per wrap
3 slices deli meat, per wrap
14 ounce can water packed artichoke hearts, well-drained
¼ cup baby spinach leaves, per wrap

At home –
Lay out a tortilla for each wrap. Brush on the dressing. Lay down the cheese, then the meat on top. Squeeze the artichoke hearts gently to remove all water, chop up two hearts per wrap and sprinkle on top. Lay the spinach on top, roll up each wrap tightly.  Wrap in plastic wrap and chill. Carry to the trailhead in a cooler, insulated with ice packs.

To carry safely on the trail build “ice packs” by putting ice cubes in quart freezer bags. When you get to lunch time your wraps will be safely chilled and you will have ice/ice water to add to your water bottle!
Look for the gourmet tortillas in fun flavors like Sun-Dried Tomato or as well ones sold as wraps in the bread section of the store. Water packed artichokes can be found inexpensively at Trader Joe’s, oil packed can be subbed, drain well.
We used Swiss cheese and smoked turkey on our wraps, use what you crave!

Chewy Granola Bars

1½ cups Rice Krispies® or similar cereal
1½ cups quick cooking oats (1 Minute)
¼ cup raisins
¼ cup shredded coconut
1/3 cup semi-sweet chocolate chips, frozen
½ cup brown sugar, packed
½ cup pure maple syrup or honey
½ cup peanut butter (preferably natural)
1 tsp pure vanilla extract

Spray an 8×8″ glass baking dish with cooking spray.
Mix the cereal through chocolate chips in a large heat safe mixing bowl.
In a medium saucepan bring the sugar and syrup to a boil, take off the heat and add in the peanut butter and vanilla, stir till smooth.
Quickly add the hot syrup to the dry, mixing while pouring in, with a silicone spatula. Stir quickly till the cereal is coated and immediately dump into the prepared pan, pack down firmly with the spatula.
Let sit till cool and then slice into bars with a thin knife, wrap tightly for carrying.
How many? Depends on your size of bar!

Substitute any favorite nut or seed butter for the peanut butter and any small dried fruit for the raisins.


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.


%d bloggers like this: