Sloppy Joes and Creamy Potato Salad for Memorial Day

RV camping this weekend? Here are a couple of recipes for your cookout menu!

Next weekend is Memorial Day weekend, and that means it’s time to try out a few new dishes that are easy to prepare in your Texas RV!

As always, The Food Network provided lots of inspiration. For instance, there’s a Creamy Potato Salad that can easily be made ahead of time, and the horseradish gives it a new kick.

CREAMY_POTATO_SALAD_009.tifInstructions:

Boil, peel and cube 1 pound potatoes. Toss with 1 tablespoon cider vinegar and 1/2 teaspoon salt. Mix 1/4 cup each mayonnaise and sour cream and 2 tablespoons each horseradish and chopped chives. Toss with the potatoes, 1 chopped celery stalk, and salt and pepper.

Sloppy Joes can be a great main dish with your potato salad, and whether you’re cooking outside on the camp stove or inside your travel trailer in the comfort of your air conditioning, it can be fixed in less than 30 minutes. This video from Rachel Ray demonstrates the fresh, easy recipe.

Where will you take your camper this weekend? The beach? The Piney Woods? We’d love to see photos from your road trips, so come join the conversation on Facebook and feel free to share!

~ G. Elaine Acker

P.S. Is your RV trailer ready to go for Memorial Day weekend? Or are you still shopping for the perfect Fifth Wheel, Toy Hauler, or Airstream? There’s still time to visit our Rockport or Buda locations, buy your new or used travel trailer and go RV camping this weekend!

Mother’s Day Picnic

1-KabobsSome of my favorite family memories are simple picnics in Texas State Parks. When I was little, any time we made a road trip, my mom would pack a basket of fried chicken and potato salad.

Since then, our family has celebrated almost every holiday with a picnic, and even though I still love fried chicken, I’m pleased to say our menus have gotten a lot more exciting.

Food blogger Lisa Rawlinson write the blog "Full and Content," and created a perfect picnic dish:  Mango Chicken Salad Lettuce Wraps

Food blogger Lisa Rawlinson writes the blog “Full and Content,” and created a perfect picnic dish: Mango Chicken Salad Lettuce Wraps

With Mother’s Day coming up on Sunday, why not take mom outdoors? Whether you’re RV camping for the whole weekend, or just spending Sunday outside, a yummy picnic will make the day even more fun.

This month, Texas Parks and Wildlife, which is ever-popular with the Texas RV crowd,  is celebrating the art of the picnic; and yesterday, I had a chance to reconnect with some of our TPWD friends at McKinney Falls State Park. Chef Kevin Quinn, a lead instructor with Le Cordon Bleu College of Culinary Arts, grilled luscious kabobs, and several popular food bloggers brought side dishes ranging from a slaw made with Ramen noodles to sugar snap peas with basil. These and lots more intriguing recipes are posted on the Texas Parks and Wildlife website.

Lisa Rawlinson, who writes the blog Full and Content, brought her famous Mango Chicken Salad Lettuce Wraps, and even the kids give this one a thumbs up! Lisa recently wrote a nice blog post about Picnics, Parks and Mamas, and it included not only recipes, but photos and artwork showcasing several state parks. Be sure to check it out.

1-KEYE

James Seppi and Taylor Cook (left) write the blog, Coseppi Kitchen: kitchen.coseppi.com, and Bill Leamons collaborates with TPWD to showcase outdoor activities on KEYE TV. As they say, “Life’s Better Outside!”

Maybe you were thinking about flowers for Mother’s Day? Instead of bringing the flowers to Mom, you can take Mom to the flowers. Brilliant bouquets of wildflowers line the roadsides at almost every state park. And, KEYE has posted Texas Parks and Wildlife’s video offering several suggestions for creating sweet, Mother’s Day memories in the parks. All that’s missing, is YOU!

1-photo

The wildflowers are in brilliant bloom at McKinney Falls State Park.

~G. Elaine Acker

Camper Clinic II is the #1 Airstream Dealer in Texas, and has an RV to fit every budget. If you’re thinking about an RV for your family, come by and see what’s right for you!

Celebrate Cinco de Mayo with Fresh Limeade

Limeade

Photo of Rachel Ray’s Limeade courtesy The Food Network.

This coming Sunday is Cinco de Mayo this coming Sunday, and the Camper Clinic II crew was just talking about new ways to celebrate. Any excuse for exploring weekend camping spots in your Texas RV, right?

We’re thinking about setting up camp in one of our nearby Texas State Parks, and serving some fresh squeezed limeade for the kiddos using a simple recipe from Rachel Ray. Of course, we may have to whip up some frozen tequila limeade a la Bobby Flay for the big “kids” too!

By the way, check out the Texas Parks and Wildlife Events Calendar for lots of Cinco de Mayo activities.  An RV trailer, good food, and fun times with the family – that’s what it’s all about!

G. Elaine Acker

 

Happy Valentine’s Day!

ABC_ChocolateToday we’re celebrating Chocolate Month! Do you pack chocolate on your RV trips? The good news is that chocolate has health benefits! Don’t believe me? Check out all the latest info from the American Botanical Council.

And next time you hook up your camper and hit the road, you can even make discovering America’s chocolate hot spots part of the journey.

From March 29 through April 14, you can visit “the sweetest place on earth,” Hershey, Pennsylvania, for “Hershey in the Spring.” They’ll have rides, entertainment, and of course, plenty of chocolate!

There’s camping close by at the Hershey Highmeadow Campground.

Or check out San Francisco’s Chocolate Festival, September 14-15, 2013. The festival is a two-day Ghirardelli chocolate celebration that has transformed into a true San Francisco tradition.

Here are the highlights from 2012!

If you go to San Francisco, check out the RV park reviews before making your reservations. There are several luxury resorts with gorgeous views, as well as more economical options.

Happy Valentine’s Day! And I vote we celebrate chocolate all year ’round!

~ G. Elaine Acker

Planning a Super Bowl Party: New Orleans Style

We’re just a few days away from the match up between the San Francisco 49’ers and the Baltimore Ravens. And while we’re a little bummed that the Texans and the Cowboys are out of the running this year, that’s no reason to miss a chance for a party on Super Bowl Sunday!

Photo credit: The Food Network

Photo credit: The Food Network

Super Bowl XLVII is in New Orleans, and whether you’re on the road in your RV or hanging out at home, it’s the perfect excuse for a New Orleans style party.

I found several great recipes from New Orleans chef Emeril Lagasse. For example, your menu might include Red Beans and Rice, Duck and Andouille Sausage Gumbo, or Cajun Jambalaya. All of these take a little time, but are easy to make ahead in batches big enough to feed all of your favorite football fans. To wash it down, whip up a batch of Hurricanes. Just be sure to pace yourself on the rum!

And for dessert, try bread pudding with whiskey sauce. Yum!

Photo credit: The Food Network

Photo credit: The Food Network

If the weather’s nice – and it looks like it will be – set up the outdoor TV in the RV and take the party outside. And even if it’s a little nippy out, just break out the fire pit and get cozy.

If you’re like me, the perfect day includes the travel trailer, a campfire, the big game, and a full stomach. Ahhhh! Happy Super Bowl!

~ Elaine

 

Roasted Tomato Basil Soup

1-Tomato Soup in snowIt’s been so cold out, I couldn’t think of anything that sounded better after a brisk afternoon hike than a roasted tomato basil soup. But none of the recipes I found were making me completely happy. So I’ve been working on a new recipe for the past few weeks, and I think it’s finally ready to share with my fellow RV chefs!

1-IMG_0173Ingredients
½ med onion, diced (about 1/2 cup)
3-4 cloves garlic, minced
½ stalk celery, diced (about ¼ cup)
½ carrot chopped (about ¼ cup)
1 tsp fresh thyme (can substitute 1/4 tsp dried and add more to taste. A little goes a long way!)
1 cup fresh basil, chopped into small pieces
1 tsp garlic powder (optional; use to adjust garlic flavor if needed)
1 14 oz. can diced tomatoes
1 cup vegetable broth (or 1 cup of water + vegetable paste)
1 cup tomato juice
8-10 med tomatoes roasted at 400 degrees for 40-45 min
Salt & pepper

Directions
1-IMG_0175Saute the onions, garlic, celery and carrot in a Dutch oven over medium heat until the carrots are tender and the onions are clear. Add the vegetable broth and tomato juice and simmer for about 15 minutes. Add the canned tomatoes, roasted tomatoes, thyme, basil, garlic powder. Let simmer another 30 minutes. Add salt and pepper to taste and adjust other seasonings to suit your preference. Use a hand-held blender (the “boat motor”) to smooth the texture of the soup but still leave some rustic chunks of tomato.

Garnishes and other options: add milk and/or sour cream to create a creamy tomato soup; garnish with fresh basil and parmesan cheese.

Soups are flavorful, easy RV meals, especially if you do some prep work before you leave home! I have an oven in my Airstream, so I could just as easily roast the tomatoes on the road, but if you’re playing outside most of the day, it would be nice to have all the ingredients ready to go. (I’m guessing this recipe would work really well by just dumping everything in a crock pot, too. I’ll have to try that.)

This time, I’m definitely going to freeze some and take it with me on my road trip through Texas next week!

Do you have any favorite soup recipes to share? Let me know!

~ G. Elaine Acker

Homemade Eggnog Recipe from Paula Deen

Photo credit: The Food Network

Photo credit: The Food Network

Every RV family needs a good eggnog recipe. But I have to admit, wasn’t a huge fan of eggnog until I found this recipe from Paula Deen, which used vanilla. I think it’s the excessive amounts of nutmeg in the grocery store brands (and most recipes) that bothers me. But with this one, the vanilla adds a great flavor, and you can go really light on the nutmeg, or leave it out altogether.

Ingredients

  • 6 egg, separated*
  • 3/4 cup sugar
  • 1 pint heavy cream
  • 4 pints milk
  • 1 tablespoon vanilla
  • Nutmeg
  • 1/2 pint Bourbon

Directions

In a bowl beat the egg yolks with the 1/2 cup of sugar until thick. In another bowl beat the egg whites with 1/4 cup of sugar until thick. In a third bowl beat the cream until thick. Add the cream to the yolks, fold in the egg whites, and add the milk, vanilla, and a pinch of nutmeg, if desired. (If you’ve got kiddos at the party, save some for them before adding the “nog!” and adjust the amount of Bourbon accordingly!) Chill in the freezer before serving.

There’s a short video on The Food Network of Paula Deen whipping up a fresh batch. It’s her mama’s recipe! (I think she likes a lot more nutmeg than me…)

This is a great party drink, whether you’re at the RV park or by the fire at home. And the kids will feel all grown up when they’re sipping (almost) the same yummy beverage as the grown ups.

Merry Christmas to you and your family! I hope Santa’s good to you and brings you all the best RV goodies on your list!

~G. Elaine Acker

P.S. *RAW EGG WARNING FRO THE FOOD NETWORK
Food Network Kitchens suggest caution in consuming raw and lightly-cooked eggs due to the slight risk of Salmonella or other food-borne illness. To reduce this risk, we recommend you use only fresh, properly-refrigerated, clean, grade A or AA eggs with intact shells, and avoid contact between the yolks or whites and the shell.

New Holiday Traditions

Celebrating Christmas, Hanukkah, Kwanzaa, and the Winter Solstice

Camper with Christmas LightsIf you’re adventurous enough to hitch up and go prowling around in your travel trailer, then you’re probably curious enough to explore all the cultures and traditions this holiday season has to offer.

I’ve got lots of friends looking forward to Christmas, which celebrates the birth of Christ (and also involves the traditional retail pilgrimage), while others are celebrating Hanukkah, Kwanzaa or the Winter Solstice. Personally I think any or all of these traditions are best celebrated in a camper!

Yule LogAt their core, all of these holiday traditions are about miracles, love, and family, so wherever you’re celebrating the holidays this year, here are a few ideas for making it a rich, multicultural experience.

Build a solstice fire. The solstice fire was the forerunner to today’s Yule logs, so a roaring campfire is always in order.

Dreidel

Any number of people can have fun playing the Dreidel game at the same time. Photo credit: Roland Scheicher

Play the dreidel game. Spinning the driedel is a fun game for Jewish children. Read about the history of the game and then try playing with your family over the holidays.

Collard GreensSpice up your menu with Kwanzaa foods. The Food Network has a huge menu of foods to choose from, from bacon-topped collard greens to fried deviled eggs.

 

Bake some Christmas cookies for Santa. This recipe for chocolate gooey butter cookies from Paula Deen looks a lot like my sister’s favorite Christmas cookie!

In Texas, Texas Parks and Wildlife offers lots of fun, outdoor celebrations for the whole family at Texas Parks! What are your family’s favorite holiday traditions? Let us know if you find any new traditions to add to your festivities this year!

~ G. Elaine Acker

 

 

 

Celebrating Thanksgiving RV Style

The Thanksgiving Live team of Chefs! (Photo credit: The Food Network)

This weekend, as I was watching The Food Network’s Thanksgiving Live program, I just kept thinking about ways to adapt all those yummy recipes to better suit those of us who just might be celebrating in our campers and travel trailers. I had a couple of “ah ha!” moments, so I thought I’d share.

Photo Credit: The Food Network

For example, Giada De Laurentiis suggested cutting up the turkey before cooking it. It’s funny how often we ignore the obvious. If you look up turkey recipes online, you’ll see beautifully roasted whole turkeys. But for those of us with small RV ovens, or no oven at all, cutting the turkey into pieces before cooking is a useful tip. By cutting the turkey into pieces, we suddenly have lots of new options. We can cook it in the oven (and by cutting it into pieces, it’ll get done quicker). Or, we can explore some outdoor cooking options such as roasting the turkey in a Dutch oven, or by breaking out the deep fryer.

While I’m a fan of the traditional Thanksgiving meal, when I’m in my Airstream, I also want life to be a little easier. This year, I may be prowling through the “easy” recipes section for new ideas.

Photo Credit: The Food Network

The other thing that caught my eye during the Live Thanksgiving broadcast was the Twitter feed along the bottom of the screen. One person tweeted that they were looking for a salad idea that would shock their family. Now, what may be shocking to one family can be positively blasé to another, but I found a recipe involving Brussels sprouts to be a novelty. From my East Texas perspective, this one’s “out there.” It’s a Fried Brussels Sprout Salad, and I’m intrigued. It’s easy enough for the RV, but has enough flavors involved to give it that gourmet twist. Maybe it’s the “fried” part that makes it feel right!

Now that I’ve made myself hungry, I think I’ll go prowl around in the fridge and make a new grocery list!

Are you spending your Thanksgiving in one of our amazing National or State parks this year? What are your favorite recipes for the RV? Feel free to share!

~ G. Elaine Acker

 

Favorite Camping Desserts

October is National Dessert Month: let’s finish our State Parks campaign with a great dessert treat!

All month long, we’ve been celebrating Texas State Parks. For every new “Like” on the Camper Clinic II’ Facebook page, we’ve added another dollar to our donation to protect the parks. If you clicked, “Like” or sent us a photo of you having fun camping, we’ve also added your name to our drawing for a one-year Texas State Parks Pass!

October is also National Dessert Month, so we thought we’d go beyond the s’mores and cook up a special dessert (or three) to celebrate with all our new RV friends and fans!

First, here’s one that in some circles could be considered healthy.

Apple in foil

Photo credit: Allrecipes.com

Campfire Cinnamon Apples

Ingredients:

1 apple per person (Fuji or Granny Smith apples both work well)
1 tablespoon of butter per apple
½ teaspoon cinnamon per apple

Instructions:

Cut a “well” into the apple from the top, removing the core and seeds, but not cutting all the way through the bottom. If you do cut all the way through, don’t worry about it. You’re camping! Add 1 tablespoon of butter and ½ teaspoon of cinnamon. Wrap the apple in heavy-duty foil and find a cozy place for the apple to rest among the coals. If it’s covered on all sides, it should be ready in about 10 minutes. You can also make this on the grill, turning the apple after 5 minutes to ensure that it’s cooked all the way through.

I picked this next recipe because it just looks like big fun by the campfire.

Campfire Eclairs

Eclairs

Photo credit: Donna Kelly/Mom Click

This recipe came from blogger Donna Kelly on Mom Click. Donna takes a tube of crescent roll dough, wraps it around a water-soaked wooden dowel, cooks the dough over the campfire, adds a chocolate pudding filling, and tops it all with whipped cream from a can. Dreamy!

There’s a variation on these on the KOA website  where Rus Scherer and Jamie Thompson have used vanilla pudding and chocolate frosting. I vote we all go experiment and share our favorites!

Finally, I always know I can rely on my Dutch oven for a special, tasty treat. I’ve shared my peach cobbler recipe here before, but if my hubby is tagging along, it helps if the name of the dessert has the word “chocolate,” in it. I’d love to claim this chocolate cake recipe for my own, but it’s from Hershey’s Kitchens (who else?) that I adapted for the Dutch oven.

 

Chocolate cake

This pretty slice came from the Hershey Kitchens. No, yours won’t look like this out of the Dutch oven, but it’ll taste even better because you made it outside!

Dutch Oven Chocolate Sour Cream Cake

Ingredients:

1-3/4 cups all-purpose flour
1-3/4 cups sugar
3/4 cup HERSHEY’S Cocoa
1-1/2 teaspoons baking soda
1 teaspoon salt
2/3 cup butter or margarine, softened
1 container (16 oz.) dairy sour cream
2 eggs
1 teaspoon vanilla extract

Prepare your coals. You’ll need about 25 coals, including 8 on the bottom and 17 on the lid.

Line a 12-inch Dutch oven with heavy-duty foil and spray with cooking spray. You can also use parchment paper.

Mix together the dry ingredients. You can make your life easier by putting all the dry ingredients together in a baggie before you head out on your camping trip. When you’re ready, dump the dry ingredients into a mixing bowl, then add the rest of the ingredients and beat until you have a smooth batter. If you’re in your trailer, you may have a hand-mixer available, but good old-fashioned muscle works too. The batter will be thick. Pour the batter into your Dutch oven and smooth it across the bottom.

Arrange your coals evenly – 8 on bottom and 17 on top – and allow the cake to bake for about 30-40 minutes. Use caution when you remove the lid. Ashes don’t make a tasty topping. The cake is done when a toothpick comes out clean.

Let the cake cool in the Dutch oven for about 15 minutes before lifting it out using the edges of the foil. You can then turn it onto a plate. Gently remove the foil and frost the cake with canned frosting, or use a dusting of powdered sugar.

So glad you could join us for dessert! Do you have any favorite road trip desserts you’d like to share?

~G. Elaine Acker