Homemade Dog Biscuits

Take Homemade Dog Biscuits on your Next RV Road Trip!

I’m gearing up for my next RV road trip through Texas, and decided some homemade dog treats were in order. Now, I won’t have to worry about questionable ingredients or reading the fine print to find out where the treats were manufactured!

Cricket and Max

Cricket often uses Max for a pillow…

With that in mind, I’d like you to meet two of the most rotten, furry, Airstream road warriors on the planet: Cricket and Max. They’re looking forward to taste-testing some of the new recipes I just found.

The first is a peanut butter blend from Paula Deen. Her human recipes have never let me down, so I’m assuming her dog, Bodeen, has an equally refined palette and has approved this recipe.

bodeen-treats-291x437

Photo of Bodeen’s treats from PaulaDeen.com. Yum!

One of Paula’s tips is that most homemade dog biscuits do well with 1 part liquid to 3 parts dry. Using that guideline, you can customize your recipes by adding and subtracting your dog’s favorite ingredients.

There’s another one with cheese from Allrecipes that looks like a winner. And for variety, check out “Cookies for Canines,” on TheKitchn.com. Their recipes range from vegetarian versions to bacon-flavored yummies.

Dog people tend to bond quickly once you’re set up at your RV campsite, so if you’d like to surprise your new friends, here’s another Paula Deen tip. Buy inexpensive bowls, add a few treats, wrapping the bowl in newspaper, and tie the top with ribbon.

MaxMax just called shotgun! And it looks like I’ve got a plan for the weekend! If you have a favorite dog-biscuit recipe, feel free to share!

~ 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

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

 

 

Steak and Baked Potatoes

New Twists on an Old Favorite!

Some people celebrate (or mourn) Labor Day as the unofficial end of summer. I like to celebrate it as the kickoff to a great fall season of camping and cookouts! Food just tastes better outdoors. Right?

And, it’s just much more fun to cook in the outdoor kitchen. You can cook over an open campfire, use a Dutch oven, fire up the propane stove, or break out the charcoal or propane grill.

Grilled Prime Rib

Photo credit: Food Network Kitchens

For Labor Day, though, nothing sounds better than good ol’ beef steaks and baked potatoes, but I’m thinking it may be time to try a new twist on an old favorite.

These recipes looked especially good. If you try ‘em, let us know what you think!

Try Grilling your Prime Rib

I’ve tried Michael Chiarello’s recipes many times with good success. This one looks pretty easy. Make a paste and let the grill do the work!

Try a New Marinade

This one’s a recipe from T-Bone Tom’s in Kemah, Texas. It gets 5-star reviews. Note that it looks like you’ll only need about half this recipe.

Try a New Dry Rub

This one’s courtesy of the Taste of South Texas Bar-B-Que Team in Van Vleck, Texas and gets 4-star reviews.

 

Twice baked potato

Photo credit: The Food Network

Add some Twice Baked Potatoes

This one’s a simple recipe you can count on.

How about a Baked Potato Salad?

Guy Fieri can always be counted on to offer those “new twists!” Be sure to scroll down and make a note of the culinary team’s update on the recipe.

Spicy Baked Potatoes

Here’s another Guy Fieri fave with some jalapenos for heat!

I’m thinking I should go for a walk, now. I probably just gained five pounds reading these yummy recipes!

Happy Labor Day, and happy camping, everyone!

~Elaine

 

Celebrate National S’mores Day on August 10!

Get ready! National S’mores Day is Friday, August 10! If you’re like me, you have lots of happy memories of sitting around the campfire with a marshmallow on the end of a sharp stick or coat hanger and this weekend’s a great time to munch and make new memories!

S'More photo

Here’s a double-decker s’more! Yum! (PRNewsFoto/The Hershey Company)

We don’t usually drop a lot of brand names here, unless we’re talking RVs, but in this case I’ll make an exception. I mean, really, to make a proper s’more, you need Hershey’s chocolate packaged in its neat, flat little squares.

“It’s time for National S’mores Day, which means family fun, campfire stories and gooey S’mores,” said Anna Lingeris, spokesperson for The Hershey Company.

The first s’mores recipe was published in the Girl Scouts handbook in 1927 and this weekend, you can keep the tradition alive, whether you’re at home or camping in your RV this weekend. Making s’mores usually involves a campfire, but you can wrap your s’more in foil and grill it for 1-2 minutes each side or pop it in the oven if it’s just too hot for a campfire, or if you want to take the party indoors in the air conditioning!
Classic S’Mores Recipe
1 graham cracker (broken in half)
1 Hershey bar (broken to fit on the cracker)
1 large marshmallow
Heat the marshmallow over an open campfire until it begins to brown and melt. Sandwich the chocolate between the cracker and the how marshmallow. Let it sit for a minute to allow the chocolate to melt a bit and the marshmallow to cool. Keep the napkins handy!
Here’s another recipe from Paula Deen for making s’mores in the oven.
And if you need one last good reason to make a s’more here it is. I’m on the road in my Airstream this week, and my hubby called this morning to inform me that dark chocolate has more antioxidants than blueberries. So, there you have it. Make that Hershey bar a dark chocolate bar, and you’re all set!

Do you make s’mores with your family when you’re camping? Do you have any fun stories or different recipes share?

Happy S’mores Weekend!

August is National Catfish Month

Family RV Gatherings Call for Fried Catfish!

August is National Catfish Month. Who knew? So I just had to share this old photo of my dad with his prize catfish caught on Lake Cherokee in East Texas.

Gerald Acker and Catfish

Gerald Acker caught this prize catfish on Lake Cherokee in East Texas. Probably in the 60s and probably on a trot line.

Some of my best family memories involve catfish fries with all the cousins hanging out by the lake. Usually, my dad and the uncles had caught the fish we ate, but these days, it’s easy to find fresh, U.S. farm-raised catfish at the store. (Beware of imported catfish! Just sayin’…)

Now, we can make new family memories at almost any lake, pulling our RVs and swapping stories and recipes. And while we mostly fix the traditional fried catfish in a cornmeal batter, I found a huge variety of recipes, from fried to blackened, on the U.S. catfish home page. Maybe it’s time to try something new!

Here’s a beer-batter recipe from NASCAR driver Ryan Newman.

Beer battered catfish

Photo from the U.S. Catfish website. Thank you!

1/2 cup unsifted all-purpose flour
1/2 cup cornstarch
2 tablespoons Cajun seasoning
1 tablespoon garlic powder
1 teaspoon Everglade seasoning, optional
1 teaspoon baking powder
1 teaspoon paprika
1/2 teaspoon ground white pepper
1/2 teaspoon ground red pepper
1/2 teaspoon dried oregano leaves, crushed
3/4 cup room-temperature beer
1 large egg, lightly beaten
Vegetable oil
1 pound U.S. Farm-Raised Catfish fillets, cut into 3 to 4 inch wide strips

1. In a medium bowl, combine flour, cornstarch, Cajun seasoning, garlic powder, Everglades seasoning (if using), baking powder, paprika, white and red peppers and oregano.
2. If not using Everglade seasoning, add 1/2 teaspoon salt.
3. Whisk in beer and egg until smooth.
4. Cover and refrigerate for 1 to 2 hours.
5. When ready to cook: In a deep skillet or large pan, pour vegetable oil to the depth of 3 inches; heat to 375°F.
6. Stir batter and fold in catfish. When oil is hot, lift fish strips with tongs, draining excess batter; place catfish in oil several pieces at a time (do not over crowd).
7. Fry until well browned on all sides, about 3 minutes. Remove to paper towels to drain. Keep warm, repeat with remaining catfish.

YIELD: About 24 pieces

(Original recipe by Jim Campbell of Griffin, Georgia)

What are some of your favorite recipes for family RV gatherings? If you have a great catfish recipe to share, we’d love to hear from you!

~ G. Elaine Acker

Homemade Vanilla Ice Cream for the Fourth of July

Fourth of July celebrations usually include fireworks, a hot dog or two, and in our RV, homemade ice cream. Whether you hand crank it the old-fashioned way, or use an electric ice-cream maker, the results are worth the effort!

Waiting for ice cream And, if you don’t have a freezer or only need a small amount of ice cream, here’s an entertaining way to impress your fellow RV campers. I like to take two coffee cans and improvise an ice-cream maker. Just put your ice-cream mix into the smaller (1 lb.) can, seal it tightly with the plastic lid, and then set it inside the larger (3 lb.) one. Pack the space between the cans with rock salt and ice, and seal the larger can. Then, hang out by the lake, enjoy the breeze, and roll the can back and forth with your foot. In about 30 minutes, you’ll have a cold tasty treat!

Vanilla Ice Cream Recipe (this one’s for the ice cream freezer)

6 eggs

2 cups sugar

2 12 oz. cans evaporated milk

2 Tablespoons vanilla extract

Whole milk

Whisk these together, and pour into the ice-cream freezer. Add fruit if desired (peeled, diced peaches are a wonderful addition) and then add milk to the “fill” line in your freezer. This makes one gallon.

Vanilla Ice Cream Recipe (for the coffee can)

1 egg

1/3 cup sugar

1 5 oz can evaporated milk

1 teaspoon vanilla extract

Whole milk

Crushed fruit, chocolate chips or other “mixin’s” (optional)

Duct tape

Rock salt (about a cup)

Crushed ice (about 10 cups)

Whisk the ice cream ingredients together and pour into the small coffee can. Add milk until the can is about ¾ full. Seal the plastic lid on the can with duct tape – you don’t want salty water getting into your ice cream!

Place the small can inside the large can, and layer about half of the ice and rock salt in the space between the cans. Seal the large can and you’re ready to roll. Literally. Roll the can under your foot (place it on a towel to keep it clean) or make a game of it and recruit some of the kiddoes to roll the can around the RV park.

After 10 minutes, open the large can, drain the water, and wipe down the top of the small can. Open the small can and scrape down the sides with a spatula and stir the ice cream. (This would also be the time to add some crushed fruit or chocolate chips if desired). Re-seal the small can and re-pack it inside the large can with ice and rock salt. Roll the can for another 15 minutes and again open the cans and check the mixture. It should be frozen to a soft consistency, but if not, you can either re-pack the cans and roll a bit longer, or, place the cans in the freezer to harden. This makes about a pint of ice cream.

What are some of your family’s favorite Fourth of July traditions?

Happy Independence Day, and don’t forget the ice cream!

~ G. Elaine Acker