Wednesday, October 22, 2014

Baked Eyeballs Casserole

     If you're looking for a fun casserole to make for your Halloween party or dutch oven gathering, this recipe from Campbell's is surprisingly easy, somewhat creepy, very filling and good.  You do need to cook the pasta ahead of time but if you're assembling it away from home, all you have to do is drain it, toss it with a little olive oil and transport it in a zip lock bag or plastic container.  In my 12 inch dutch oven, the casserole baked with 12 coals in a ring around the base of the oven and 28 briquettes on the lid.  In 20 minutes it was bubbling, steaming and ready for it's 'eyeball' topping.  Add cooked Italian sausage or sauteed mushrooms to the pasta for an even heartier meal.  Kids of all ages will love this kooky dish and it's a tasty way to warm your belly before heading out to trick or treat with your hobgoblins.  Have a spooky and safe Halloween!

Baked Eyeballs Casserole
1 24 oz jar spaghetti sauce, divided
1 15 oz container part skim ricotta cheese
3/4 cup Parmesan cheese, divided
1 16 oz box of your favorite dried short-shaped pasta, i.e. rigatoni, farfalle, penne or fusilli, cooked and drained
1 8 oz container small fresh mozzarella cheese balls (about 1 inch)
1 2 oz can OR 2 Tblsp sliced black olives

     Lightly oil or spray 12 inch dutch oven.
     Mix 1 1/2 cups of the sauce, ricotta cheese, 1/2 cup Parmesan cheese and pasta in prepared dutch oven.
     Spread the remaining sauce over the pasta mixture.
     Sprinkle with the remaining Parmesan cheese.
     Bake at 400 degrees for 20-25 minutes or until hot and bubbling.
     Arrange the cheese balls randomly over the pasta mixture.
     Place a sliced olive on each cheese ball.
     Cover and let cook for 3-5 minutes or until 'eyeballs' have melted slightly.
     Makes 8 servings.

Top pasta mixture with remaining sauce and Parmesan cheese

Bake at 400 degrees for 20-25 minutes before topping
with Mozzarella balls and sliced olives

Replace lid and continue baking for 3-5 minutes or until
'eyeballs' have started to melt

Tender pasta topped with gooey eyeballs, perfect for All Hallows' Eve

Tuesday, October 14, 2014

Bacon-Cheddar Biscuits

     A dutch oven cook can never have enough biscuit recipes, especially if they're loaded with bacon and cheese.  This recipe from Williams Sonoma may seem complicated but it's your basic biscuit formula, the only difference is the method for rolling out the dough.  Similar to making puff pastry from scratch, you roll out the dough, fold it in thirds then repeat the process again.  As you probably know by now, for the sake of convenience, I much prefer making drop biscuits in my dutch oven.  I must say, this recipe really does produce a flakier biscuit.  I patted the dough on a piece of parchment paper then lifted the ends of the paper to fold the dough onto itself, much neater and quicker than flouring your counter.  If you're camping and don't want to go to the trouble of rolling out the dough, add an extra tablespoon of buttermilk and drop the biscuits by spoonfuls into your dutch oven.
     In my 10 inch dutch oven, the biscuits baked for 20 minutes with 10 coals in a ring around the base of the oven and the lid completely covered with around 26 briquettes.  Brushing your dutch oven with bacon grease makes these peppery biscuits especially crisp and for a little extra kick, serve them warm with butter and hot pepper jelly.

Bacon-Cheddar Biscuits
6 oz bacon
2 cups all-purpose flour
1 Tblsp baking powder
1 tsp salt
2 tsp sugar
1/2 tsp freshly ground black pepper
8 Tblsp (1 stick) cold, unsalted butter, cut into small pieces
2 Tblsp butter, melted
3/4 cup shredded sharp Cheddar cheese
1/4 cup grated Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese
3/4 cup plus 2 Tblsp buttermilk

     In frying pan, cook bacon until crisp, about 10 minutes.
     Using a slotted spoon, transfer the bacon to a paper towel lined plate; reserve bacon fat in pan.
     Finely chop cooked bacon.
     Coat bottom and sides of dutch oven with warm bacon fat.
     In large bowl, whisk together flour, baking powder, salt, sugar and pepper.
     Using a pastry blender or 2 knives, cut in the cold butter until pea-size crumbs form.
     Stir in the Cheddar and Parmigiano -Reggiano cheeses and the bacon.
     Stir in the buttermilk until the dough just comes together.
     Transfer the dough to a floured work surface and roll out into a 9 by 11 inch rectangle.
     Fold the dough into thirds, rotate 90 degrees and roll out into the same sized rectangle.
     Fold into thirds again, rotate 90 degrees and roll out into a 9 by 9 inch rectangle about 1/2 inch thick.
     Using a floured 2 inch biscuit cutter, cut out biscuits and place side-by-side in prepared dutch oven.
     Gather up the scraps, reroll the dough and cut out more biscuits.
     Brush the tops of the biscuits with melted butter.
     Bake at 425 degrees for 20-25 minutes or until golden brown.
     Let cool for 10 minutes before serving; makes 8-12 biscuits.

Brush dutch oven with bacon fat before adding biscuits

Bake in a hot oven for 20-25 minutes

What could be better than flaky biscuits baked
in your dutch oven

Saturday, October 4, 2014

Polska and Biscuit Bake

     I mulled this recipe from Hillshire Farm over for a while, wondering if it might be a little too basic and not to every one's liking.  I love cabbage in any way, shape or form, especially sauerkraut and if you use the good, refrigerated variety that comes in a two pound bag, it really makes a difference.  This is a good camping recipe with few ingredients and easily assembled.
      I baked the casserole in my 10 inch deep dutch oven with 10 coals in a ring around the bottom, 15 around the edge of the lid with 6 briquettes spaced evenly in the center.  I used  a 12 oz. package of Grands Jr. Buttermilk biscuits, if you want to use the regular Grands, just be sure you're using a larger or deeper oven, I have found they sometimes fuse to the lid in a regular 10 inch oven when used as a casserole topping.  I forgot to buy Swiss cheese and substituted with Cheddar, the Swiss will probably remind you more of a Reuben sandwich.  Butter the biscuits and serve it with a bold and spicy mustard for a hearty, camper's, one pot dinner.

Polska and Biscuit Bake
1 12 to 14 oz package Polska Kielbasa
2 to 3 cups drained sauerkraut
2 Tblsp mayonnaise
2 cups (8 oz) shredded Swiss cheese
1 7.5 oz can refrigerated buttermilk biscuits

     Lightly oil or spray 10 inch dutch oven.
     Cut sausage into 1/2 inch slices; set aside.
     Combine sauerkraut and mayonnaise in small bowl; spread in bottom of prepared dutch oven.
     Lay kielbasa on top; sprinkle with cheese.
     Bake at 400 degrees for 15 minutes.
     Place uncooked biscuits on top of cheese.
     Bake an additional 12-15 minutes or until biscuits are golden brown.
     Makes 4-6 servings.

Layer sauerkraut, kielbasa and cheese in prepared dutch oven

Bake at 400 degrees for 15 minutes then top with biscuits

Continue baking for 12-15 minutes or until biscuits are
flaky and golden brown

Basic but good camping fare

Tuesday, September 23, 2014

Upside Down Fresh Fig Cake

     I have always loved Fig Newtons and fig jam but I am  ashamed to say, today was the first time I have ever eaten a fresh fig.  Where have I been all my life?  All these years I have been denying myself the pleasure of eating this sweet and juicy fruit.  Not only delicious, they are loaded with fiber, calcium and potassium as well. 
     This recipe came from The Times Picayune newspaper via  In my 10 inch, parchment lined dutch oven it baked for exactly 35 minutes with 10 coals in a ring around the bottom, 14 in a ring around the outside of the lid with 5 briquettes spaced evenly in the center.  After 20 minutes I removed the center coals as the cake was rising and browning quickly and left it to bake for 15 more minutes.  Be sure to test the center with a toothpick before taking it off the coals and let it sit in your oven for a good 45 minutes before lifting it onto a plate. 
     Some of you may be lucky enough to have a fig tree in your backyard, substitute with any one of your favorite varieties if you like, you can even reconstitute dried figs by soaking them in water if the fresh ones aren't in season.  For a change of pace, leave the canned pineapple on the shelf and give this light and buttery cake a try.

Upside Down Fresh Fig Cake
12 Tblsp (1 and 1/2 sticks) butter, at room temperature, divided
1/2 cup light brown sugar, packed
2 Tblsp honey
14 fresh Mission figs, stems removed, cut in half
1 1/2 cups flour
1 1/2 tsp baking powder
1/4 tsp salt
3/4 cup granulated sugar
1 tsp vanilla
2 large eggs
1/2 cup whole milk OR buttermilk

     Lightly oil or spray 10 inch dutch oven; line with parchment paper.
     Melt 4 tablespoons of butter; pour evenly into parchment lined oven.
     Sprinkle evenly with brown sugar and honey.
     Place figs, cut side up, in concentric circles over brown sugar mixture.
     In medium bowl, whisk together the flour, baking powder and salt.
     In another bowl, with electric mixer on medium speed, beat the remaining 8 tablespoons butter with granulated sugar and vanilla until light and fluffy.
     Add eggs, one at a time, beating until well combined.
     Beating on low speed, add dry ingredients, alternating with milk until just combined.
     Spoon thick batter evenly over figs.
     Bake at 350 degrees for 35-40 minutes or until cake is golden brown and tester comes out clean.
     Allow to cool in dutch oven for 45 minutes before lifting out and inverting onto plate.
     Serve warm.

Place fig halves closely together over brown sugar mixture

Carefully cover with thick batter

Bake at 350 degrees for 35-40 minutes or until
tester comes out clean

Allow to cool before lifting out and inverting onto plate

This honey flavored cake is very light and buttery

Sunday, September 14, 2014

No Boil Baked Ziti with Sausage and Basil

     I'm always on the hunt for no boil baked pasta recipes, when you're camping or cooking outdoors it's so much easier to toss everything in your dutch oven and let it bake.  I added Italian sausage and fresh basil to this recipe from Ragu but you can easily omit them and still have a tasty dinner.  If you don't feel like browning the sausage, slice up some pre-cooked sun-dried tomato chicken sausage and toss that in instead.  In my 12 inch dutch oven, the pasta baked for a total of 55 minutes with 12 coals in a ring around the base of the oven and 28-30 spaced evenly on the lid.  This is a dish that needs no tending, however, before you add the final topping of mozzarella, give the pasta a good stir to help the cheese distribute evenly.  This is pretty darned good for such a simple meal, the ziti was tender, not overly dry and the sausage gave it some heft, a definite campfire keeper.

No Boil Baked Ziti with Sausage and Basil
1 jar (1 lb 8 oz) pasta sauce
2 cups water
1 cup part-skim ricotta cheese (about 8 oz)
2 Tblsp grated Parmesan cheese
12 oz uncooked ziti pasta
1 lb. Italian sausage
1/4 cup fresh basil, torn into pieces
1 cup mozzarella cheese, shredded

     Lightly oil or spray 12 inch dutch oven.
     Remove Italian sausage from casings, crumble and cook over medium heat until browned and cooked through; drain on paper towels.
     Combine pasta sauce and water in large bowl.
     Stir in ricotta and Parmesan cheeses, then uncooked ziti.
     Add sausage and fresh basil, stir until well combined.
     Evenly pour ziti mixture into prepared oven, making sure all of the pasta is completely submerged.
     Bake for 50 minutes at 400 degrees.
     Stir pasta and sprinkle with mozzarella cheese.
     Continue cooking for 5 minutes or until cheese has melted.
     Let stand for 10 minutes before serving.
     Makes 6 servings.

Pour ziti mixture into prepared dutch oven making
sure pasta is completely submerged in sauce

Bake at 400 degrees for 50 minutes

Give pasta a stir before adding final topping of cheese

A simple and hearty one pot rustic dinner 

Saturday, September 6, 2014

Apple Raspberry Cookie Cobbler

     Here's a simple cobbler from Pillsbury made with refrigerated sugar cookie dough.  Another very good camping recipe, all you need is a dutch oven, a spoon, a can opener and a medium mixing bowl to prepare this home style dessert.  In my 12 inch dutch oven, the cobbler baked for 55 minutes with 12 coals in a ring around the base of the oven and 24 briquettes on the lid.  The apples and raspberries are an especially good combination but the cookie dough topping would work with any one of your favorite canned pie fillings for a quick and easy camping dessert.

Apple Raspberry Cookie Cobbler
2 21 oz cans apple pie filling
1 12 to 14 oz bag frozen unsweetened raspberries OR 3 cups fresh raspberries
1/4 cup sugar
1 16.5 oz roll refrigerated sugar cookie dough, at room temperature
1 cup quick-cooking oats
2 Tblsp sugar
Ice cream, if desired

     Lightly oil or spray 12 inch dutch oven.
     Mix pie filling, raspberries and 1/4 cup sugar and spread evenly in prepared oven.
     In medium bowl, break up cookie dough.
     Add oats; mix well.
     Crumble cookie mix evenly over fruit mixture.
     Sprinkle 2 tablespoons sugar over top.
     Bake at 350 degrees for 50 to 60 minutes or until topping is golden brown.
     Cool slightly before serving.
     Top with ice cream.
     Makes 8 servings.

Sprinkle cookie dough topping over fruit mixture then
sprinkle with sugar

Bake at 350 degrees for 50-60 minutes

Another very good camping cookie cobbler

Thursday, August 28, 2014

Cinnamon Roll Coffee Cake for a Crowd

      I've had my eye on this recipe for a while and was waiting until I had company to make it.  Conveniently made with Pillsbury Grands Cinnamon rolls, the prep work only requires melting a stick of butter, snipping the dough into quarters and rolling it in the cinnamon sugar mixture.  Keep your refrigerated rolls as cold as possible until you're ready to assemble them, otherwise the warm dough will become sticky and hard to handle.  In my 12 inch dutch oven, the coffee cake baked for a total of 30 minutes with 12 coals in a ring around the base of the oven, 18 briquettes placed around the rim of the lid with 10 spaced evenly in the center.  When you can smell the cinnamon it's probably done.  Lining your oven with parchment will make for an easier clean up while you're camping and be sure to serve this unbelievably good monkey bread-like cake warm so you can scoop up all the gooey caramel from the bottom.

Cinnamon Roll Coffee Cake for a Crowd
1/2 cup (1 stick) butter, melted
3/4 cup packed brown sugar
2 tsp grated orange peel (1 large orange)
3/4 cup chopped pecans, divided
1/3 cup granulated sugar
1 tsp ground cinnamon
2 17.5 oz cans Pillsbury Grands refrigerated cinnamon rolls with icing

     Lightly oil or spray 12 inch dutch oven.
     In medium bowl, mix butter, brown sugar and orange peel; whisk until well combined.
     Pour butter mixture into prepared dutch oven.
     Top with 1/2 cup of the pecans.
     In small bowl, mix granulated sugar and cinnamon.
     Separate dough into 10 rolls.
     Cut into quarters.
     Place dough pieces in sugar mixture; toss to coat.
     Arrange dough in single layer in dutch oven.
     Bake at 375 degrees for 25-30 minutes or until golden brown and no longer doughy in center.
     Drop icing by teaspoonfuls over top of coffee cake; sprinkle with remaining pecans.
     Cool for 10 minutes before cutting into squares.
     Serve warm, makes 10 servings.

Spread brown sugar mixture in bottom of well oiled
oven then top with pecans

Roll cinnamon roll pieces in cinnamon sugar then
arrange in single layer in dutch oven

Bake at 375 degrees for 25-30 minutes

Add icing and remaining pecans

Be sure to serve this yummy pull-apart coffee cake while
still warm