Tuesday, July 30, 2013

Aunt Liz's Chicken Spaghetti Casserole

     If you're having a bad day at the office, you need to run home and make yourself Aunt Liz's Chicken Spaghetti Casserole.  It is like a big hug from your favorite aunt baked into a church supper casserole.  Nothing fancy, just one of those old fashioned, creamy, noodly hot dishes that fills you up and soothes your soul.  It's a terrific dutch oven dinner because you don't have to cook the spaghetti beforehand.  Chop the onions and celery into a finer dice, that way they'll soften and cook all the way through. 
     In my 10 inch dutch oven, the casserole cooked for 40 minutes with 10 coals in a ring around the bottom and about 20-22 briquettes spaced evenly on the lid.  Give it a stir halfway and don't add the cheese until you know the pasta has cooked completely.  I used thin spaghetti but regular is fine.  Of course you can jazz it up with your favorite herbs or a can of water chestnuts but there's something rather nostalgic and comforting about a June Cleaver type of dinner.  Try a bowl of this baked spaghetti in the woods by the light of your Coleman lantern and you'll feel like you're feasting on a gourmet meal.

Aunt Liz's Chicken Spaghetti Casserole
2 cups diced, cooked chicken
2 cups (about 7 oz) spaghetti, uncooked, broken into 2-inch pieces
1 cup celery, finely chopped
1 cup onion, finely chopped
1/3 cup jarred, roasted red pepper, chopped
1 cup chicken broth
2 10 3/4 oz cans cream of mushroom soup, undiluted
Salt to taste
Freshly ground pepper to taste
1 cup shredded Cheddar cheese, divided

     Lightly oil or spray dutch oven.
     Combine chicken, celery, onion, 1/2 cup Cheddar cheese, red pepper and spaghetti in large bowl.
     Whisk mushroom soup, chicken broth, salt and pepper in medium bowl until well combined.
     Add soup mixture to chicken mixture; toss until well combined.
     Spoon into prepared dutch oven, making sure all noodles are submerged in liquid.
     Bake at 350 degrees for 40 minutes, stirring halfway.
     Sprinkle with remaining Cheddar, continue to cook until cheese has melted and noodles are tender.
     Makes 4-6 servings.

Combine all ingredients and spoon into prepared dutch oven

Bake at 350 degrees for 40 minutes, stirring halfway

When noodles are tender sprinkle with cheese and
continue baking until cheese has melted

Thank you Aunt Liz, it's a keeper

Friday, July 26, 2013

Fresh Raspberry-Sour Cream Crumb Cake

     Berries are my weakness.  This is the time of year when I really splurge, secretly hoarding cartons of them in my vegetable drawer.  Piling them on my cereal every morning with abandon makes me feel as though I'm living in the lap of luxury.  During the winter, when berries are expensive, I ration out my daily allotment and dream about the warm days of July when blueberries are cheap and plentiful.  This recipe from Williams Sonoma uses fresh raspberries in a streusel topped coffee cake.  This is a true coffee cake in every sense of the word, sweet and buttery on top with a dryish crumb, the perfect accompaniment to a steaming cup of coffee.
     It baked in my 10 inch dutch oven for 50 minutes with 10 coals in a ring around the base of the oven, 16 around the edge of the lid with 6 spaced evenly in the center.  With so much butter in the topping, you need to check it after 25 minutes or so to make sure it is not browning too quickly.  I loosely placed a 10 inch square of foil over the top during the last 10 minutes of baking time and it came out perfectly.  Let it cool a good half hour before lifting it out of your oven.  This would also be good with blueberries, just add some cinnamon to the topping to perk up the flavor.

Fresh Raspberry-Sour Cream Crumb Cake
For the crumb topping

1 cup flour
2/3 cup granulated sugar
Grated zest of 1 lemon
8 Tblsp (1 stick) unsalted butter, melted
For the cake
1 3/4 cups flour
1 cup granulated sugar
2 tsp baking powder
1/4 tsp baking soda
1/4 tsp salt
3 eggs
1 cup sour cream
1 tsp vanilla extract
2 cups fresh raspberries
For dusting
2 Tblsp confectioners' sugar

     Lightly oil or spray 10 inch dutch oven; line with parchment paper.
     To make crumb topping, in small bowl, stir together the flour, sugar and lemon zest.
     Add the melted butter and stir with a fork until the mixture is crumbly; set aside.
     To make the cake, in large bowl, stir together the flour, sugar, baking powder, baking soda and salt.
     In another bowl, whisk together the eggs, sour cream and vanilla until well blended.
     Make a well in the center of the flour mixture and add the sour cream mixture.
     Beat until smooth and fluffy, about 2 minutes.
     Spoon the batter into prepared dutch oven and spread evenly.
     Cover evenly with the raspberries.
     Sprinkle the crumb topping evenly over the berries.
     Bake at 350 degrees for 45-50 minutes, covering loosely with foil if necessary to prevent top from burning.
     Cake is done when top is golden brown and tester inserted in center of cake comes out clean.
     Allow cake to cool for 30 minutes before lifting from dutch oven with parchment paper.
     Dust with confectioners' sugar and serve warm or at room temperature.

Top batter with layer of fresh raspberries then streusel topping

Bake at 350 degrees for 45-50 minutes or until tester
comes out clean

Allow to cool for 30 minutes in dutch oven before removing and
 sprinkling with confectioners' sugar

The quintessential summer coffee cake

Tuesday, July 23, 2013

Refried Bean Poblanos with Cheese

      The original recipe for these Refried Bean Poblanos with Cheese from Cooking Light calls for preparing them in your microwave, since it had so many good reviews and so few ingredients I thought it would be a great dish to try in my dutch oven.  I was not disappointed.  If you're a fan of chilies rellenos you will definitely like these stuffed peppers.  Also, the ingredients can easily be transported and stored at your campsite, except for the cheese, nothing requires refrigeration.  Eight chile halves just fit into my 12 inch dutch oven and they baked for a total of 40 minutes with 12 coals in a ring around the bottom and 28-30 on the lid.  You do need to roast them in a hot oven so the chiles with soften.  I used a can of Refried Black Beans with Roasted Chiles to give it a little more flavor.  This is an excellent vegetarian recipe and if you use a packet of Uncle Ben's Ready Rice you'll have dinner assembled before your coals are even covered in ash.

Refried Bean Poblanos with Cheese
4 medium poblano chiles, halved and seeded
1 16 oz can refried beans
1 8.8 oz pouch Uncle Ben's Original Ready Rice OR 2 cups cooked rice
1/2 cup picante sauce
1 8 oz can corn, drained
1/2 tsp cumin
1 cup shredded Cheddar cheese OR Four-Cheese Mexican Blend
Sour cream (optional)
Chopped fresh cilantro (optional)

     Lightly oil or spray dutch oven.
     In medium bowl, combine beans, rice, picante sauce, corn and cumin; stir well.
     Spoon bean mixture evenly into chile halves.
     Place filled chiles in prepared dutch oven.
     Bake at 400 degrees for 30-35 minutes or until chiles have softened.
     Sprinkle with Cheddar.
     Bake for 3-5 minutes or until cheese has melted.
     Garnish with sour cream and chopped fresh cilantro if desired.
     Makes 4 servings.

Fill chiles with stuffing mixture and place in well oiled dutch oven

Bake at 400 degrees for 30-35 minutes or until chiles have softened

Top with cheese and bake for 3-5 minutes, or until melted

These roasted chiles are melt in your mouth delicious

Friday, July 19, 2013

Chocolate Pudding Dump Cake

      Has anyone noticed that the weight of packaged cake mixes has suddenly gone from 18 ounces to 16 ounces?  Not only are we paying more for groceries but seemingly getting a lot less for our money.  Like the Hornet's Nest Cake, this thick and rich dessert is made with only a few ingredients, they both start with a pudding mix and deliver in a big way.  Combine the pudding mix with the milk, mix until thickened then add the cake mix.  You will need a bit of muscle to stir the batter, it is quite thick.  Spread the batter in your oven, top with chocolate chips and bake.  In my 12 inch dutch oven, the cake baked for 35 minutes with 12 coals in a ring around the base of the oven, 18 in a ring around the outside of the lid and 6 spaced evenly in the center. I used a Duncan Hines Dark Chocolate Fudge cake mix and let me tell you, it was incredibly moist, chocolaty and delicious.  If you're looking for something easy but a step up from your standard dutch oven dump cake, this one's for you.

Chocolate Pudding Dump Cake
1 16 oz package chocolate cake mix
1 3.9 oz package instant chocolate pudding
1 1/2 cups milk
1 1/2 cups semi-sweet chocolate chips

     Lightly oil or spray 12 inch dutch oven; line with parchment paper if desired.
     In large bowl, whisk milk with pudding mix until thickened.
     Stir in cake mix; mix until well combined, batter will be thick.
     Spread batter in prepared dutch oven.
     Sprinkle evenly with chocolate chips.
     Bake at 350 degrees for 30-35 minutes or until edges pull away from sides.
     Allow to cool before lifting from oven with parchment paper.

Sprinkle chips evenly over batter

Bake at 350 degrees for 30-35 minutes

Oreo ice cream and fudge sauce send this gooey cake
right over the top


Monday, July 15, 2013

Chili Dog Pizza

     For those of you with cast iron stomachs, here's a super simple, kid friendly recipe to place in your camping file.  Form a dough with Bisquick and water, pat the dough into your oven, top with the chili dog fixins and in 25 minutes you've got a tasty and filling dutch oven pizza.  The 'pizza' cooked in my 10 inch oven for 25 minutes with 10 coals in a ring around the bottom, 16 briquettes around the edge of the lid and 6 coals spaced evenly in the center.  Let it cool for 10 minutes before slicing and polish it off with all your favorite hot dog toppings.  One quick reminder, be sure to use only 7 oz. of canned chili, I couldn't find the smaller cans but used one half of a 15 oz. can instead.

Chili Dog Pizza
2 cups Bisquick
1/2 cup cold water
1 7 1/2 oz can chili
4-5 hot dogs, sliced thinly
1 1/2 cups shredded Cheddar cheese

     Lightly oil or spray 10 inch dutch oven.
     In medium bowl, mix together Bisquick and water.
     Stir or knead with hands until a soft ball forms.
     Roll or pat dough into an 8 inch circle.
     Transfer dough to prepared dutch oven.
     Pat dough until bottom of oven is covered, pressing edges to form a crust.
     Spread chili over crust, sprinkle with cheese and top with hot dog slices.
     Bake at 425 degrees for 25-30 minutes or until cheese is bubbling and crust has browned.
     Makes 4-6 servings.

Pat Bisquick dough in bottom and up sides
of 10 inch dutch oven

Layer dough with chili, cheese and hot dogs

Bake for 20-25 minutes at 425 degrees

Garnish with your favorite hot dog toppings

Friday, July 12, 2013

Chocolate Buttermilk Biscuits

      I'm going to give you the original recipe for these yummy Chocolate Buttermilk Biscuits from Mr. Food in case you like to cut your biscuits into rounds before baking.  I find it much easier to drop my biscuits into my dutch oven with a spoon.  If you prefer my no knead method, add a couple of extra tablespoons of buttermilk to the batter or enough to make it slightly moist and easy to handle.  In my 10 inch dutch oven, I spooned 13 little biscuits close together and they baked in a hot oven for 20 minutes with 10 coals in a ring around the bottom and the lid completely covered with around 26 coals.  You can almost serve these sweet biscuits for dessert with fresh strawberries and a spoonful of honey or preserves.  Be sure to let them sit in your oven for a few minutes to cool so you won't burn your tongue on the gooey chips.  Sugar, cinnamon and chocolate, they're a light and flaky biscuit to satisfy your sweet tooth.
Chocolate Buttermilk Biscuits
3 Tblsp sugar, divided
1/8 tsp ground cinnamon
2 cups self-rising flour
1/3 cup cold butter, cut into pieces
3/4 cup buttermilk
1/2 cup semisweet chocolate chips
1/4 cup butter, melted

     Lightly oil or spray dutch oven.
     Combine 2 Tblsp sugar and cinnamon; set aside.
     Combine flour and remaining 1 Tblsp sugar in a large bowl.
     Cut butter into flour mixture with a pastry blender or two knives until mixture is crumbly.
     Add buttermilk and chocolate chips, stirring just until dry ingredients are moistened.
     Turn dough out onto a lightly floured surface; knead 3 or 4 times.
     Pat or roll dough into 1/2 inch thickness; cut with 2 inch biscuit cutter.
     Place biscuits in prepared dutch oven.
     Sprinkle with sugar mixture.
     Bake at 425 degrees for 20 minutes or until golden.
     Brush biscuits with 1/4 cup melted butter.
     Let cool in dutch oven for 10 minutes before serving.

Place biscuits close together in well oiled dutch oven

Bake for 20 minutes in a hot oven or until nicely browned
then brush with melted butter

The perfect chocolate lover's biscuit

Tuesday, July 9, 2013

Chicken Alfredo and Rice Casserole

     This recipe from Better Homes and Gardens caught my eye for two reasons, not only is it just the right amount for baking in your 2 qt. dutch oven, it gave me an excuse to try a packet of Uncle Ben's Ready Rice.  The rice is precooked, comes in a vacuum sealed 8 oz. packet and is perfect for camp cooking.  All you have to do is break apart the rice before opening the package then mix it with the rest of the ingredients.  Of course you can make your rice any way you like, from scratch is always the best but this baked and tasted wonderfully in this casserole.  One packet was about 2 cups, that's all I added and the dish was very creamy. 
     In my 8 inch dutch oven it baked with 8 coals in a ring around the bottom and 12 on the lid.  After 30 minutes I added the crumb topping and in 10 minutes it was golden brown and bubbling away. If you don't want to mess with frozen peas, try adding chopped scallions, finely chopped green bell pepper or even a can of green chilies.  I was pleasantly surprised by this little gem but then again, what's not to love about anything cooked with Alfredo sauce and a buttery, crunchy topping.

Chicken Alfredo and Rice Casserole
1 10 oz. container refrigerated Alfredo pasta sauce
1/2 cup milk
2 1/2 cups cooked white rice OR 1 8.8 oz package Uncle Ben's Original Ready Rice
2 cups cubed cooked chicken
1 cup frozen peas
1/3 cup bottled roasted red sweet peppers, chopped
1 Tblsp chopped fresh basil OR 1/2 tsp dried basil
1/4 tsp fresh ground black pepper
1 cup soft bread crumbs
1 Tblsp butter, melted
2-3 Tblsp grated Parmesan cheese

     Lightly oil or spray 8 inch dutch oven.
     In large bowl combine pasta sauce and milk.
     Stir in rice, chicken, peas, sweet peppers and basil.
     Transfer to prepared dutch oven.
     Bake at 350 degrees for 30 minutes.
     Combine bread crumbs, melted butter and Parmesan cheese.
     Sprinkle atop bubbling casserole.
     Bake for 10-15 minutes or until crumbs are golden brown.
     Let stand for 10 minutes before serving.
     Serves 4.

You can even mix casserole ingredients right in your dutch oven

Bake at 350 degrees for 30 minutes, or until bubbling
then sprinkle on topping

Bake for 10 to 15 minutes more or until golden brown

A creamy casserole for your smaller oven

Saturday, July 6, 2013

Bacon Ranch Pull Aparts

      There oughtta be a law against these dangerously addictive rolls.  Crispy on the bottom, warm and soft in the middle with clumps of cheesy bacon sticking to their sides, you could eat yourself into a coma after making a batch of these outrageously delicious pull-aparts.  From the Rhodes Company website, they are easy to toss together and made for cast iron cooking. 
     You'll need a 12 inch dutch oven to bake them in one layer and don't wait too long to make them after you take the rolls out of the freezer, they need to be on the cold side, otherwise they may clump together when you coat them with the olive oil.  After I placed them in my dutch oven, I put the lid on and let them sit in the sun for a good 45 minutes to rise.  They baked for 30 minutes with a total of 28 coals on the lid and 12 in a ring under the bottom.  After 15 minutes, or when the tops were sufficiently browned, I loosely placed a piece of aluminum foil over the rolls and they continued to cook for another 10 minutes.  If you're camping and can't use frozen bread dough, I'll bet you could use biscuit dough from a tube instead.  Whatever you do, as Festus from Gunsmoke would say, 'you ole scudders have just gotta give these a try'.

Bacon Ranch Pull Aparts
1 loaf Rhodes Bread Dough OR 12 Rhodes Dinner Rolls, thawed but still cold
1 pound bacon, diced
2 Tblsp olive oil
1 1/2 cups grated mozzarella cheese
1 envelope ranch salad dressing mix

     Lightly spray or oil 12 inch dutch oven.
     In a frying pan, cook bacon until crisp, drain on paper towels.
     Cut loaf into 1-inch pieces OR cut rolls in half.
     In a large bowl, combine dough pieces, bacon, olive oil, cheese and dressing mix.
     Toss until dough is well coated.
     Arrange pieces, side by side, in prepared dutch oven.
     Cover and let rise until double.
     Bake at 350 degrees for 15 minutes or until tops are lightly browned.
     Cover loosely with a piece of foil, bake an additional 10-15 minutes.
     Serve warm.

Toss all ingredients together then place in a single layer
in well oiled 12 inch dutch oven

Cover and let rise until double in size

Bake at 350 degrees for 15 minutes or until lightly browned
then cover with foil

Bake for 15 more minutes

Dangerously delicious

Tuesday, July 2, 2013

Cape Cod Blueberry Grunt

      Fourth of July reminds us of the American colonists, their struggle for freedom and the challenges they faced settling their new world.  Grunts were born of necessity, primitive cast iron pots and spiders were used with local fruits to recreate English plum puddings.  Originating in New England, grunts are similar to cobblers only the biscuits or dumplings are poached in the simmering liquid of the sweetened fruit.  Often served for breakfast, they were named after the sounds made from the sputtering juices escaping from beneath the dough.  A grunt made in your dutch oven is as close as you can get to replicating this colonial dish.  To make an authentic grunt, the lion's share of heat has to come from beneath your dutch oven, otherwise the biscuits will brown and bake resulting in a crispy cobbler.
     For best results, make this recipe from King Arthur Flour in your 10 inch dutch oven.  I started the fruit over a full compliment of 26 blazing hot coals.  You need the heat to bring the fruit and liquid to a strong simmer.  At this point I did place about 16 coals on the lid, only to raise the internal temperature quickly.  While the blueberries are cooking, now's the time to finish off your biscuits by cutting in the butter while it is still cold.  After 15 minutes, or when the steam was pouring out of my oven, I plopped  spoonfuls of the biscuit dough into the bubbling sauce.  The cold batter instantly lowered the temperature of the fruit mixture so I immediately covered the dutch oven and left 8 coals spaced evenly in a ring around the edge of the lid.  In 20 minutes the dumplings were cooked to perfection and the fruit had transformed into a thickened syrup.
     You can also make this in your cast iron skillet but you somehow need to cover the dumplings once you drop them into the blueberries, aluminum foil will do the trick if you don't have a cover to your pan.  Don't be fooled by this recipe's name, the biscuits are light, delicate and absorb the flavor and sweetness of the berries.  With a side of good vanilla ice cream, this is a blue ribbon dessert and one that will make you feel connected to the past, have a safe and happy Fourth of July!

Cape Cod Blueberry Grunt
1 cup water
1 cup sugar
1 tsp lemon juice (if the berries aren't tart)
1/2 tsp ground cinnamon (optional)
1 quart (4 cups) fresh blueberries, cleaned
2 cups flour
2 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp salt
4 Tblsp (1/2 stick) butter, cut into small pieces
1 cup buttermilk

     Lightly oil or spray dutch oven.
     In large bowl, combine blueberries, water, sugar, lemon juice and cinnamon until well combined.
     Pour berries into prepared dutch oven.
     Place dutch oven over a full compliment of coals with as many coals on the lid as needed to bring berry mixture to a bubble.
     While berries are simmering prepare biscuit dough.
     In large bowl, combine flour, baking powder, baking soda and salt.
     Using fingers or pastry cutter rub in the butter until texture resembles coarse crumbs.
     Quickly stir in the buttermilk.
     Drop the biscuit dough in blobs over the simmering blueberry mixture.
     Remove most of top heat, biscuits should simmer like dumplings, not bake.
     Cover and cook until the biscuit dough is done, about 20 minutes.
     Serve warm with blueberries spooned over the biscuits.

Place blueberries, water, sugar, lemon juice and cinnamon
in well oiled dutch oven

Cover and bring to a low boil over a full compliment of coals

Drop spoonfuls of biscuit dough into simmering berries

Cover and continue cooking for 20 minutes or until
dumpling like biscuits are tender and cooked through

Celebrate the Fourth with an All-American dessert