[Speaking of camping: No reservation? No problem! Your best bets for a last-minute campsite]
Protein in the morning is essential if you plan on a full day of hiking, swimming and fresh air. These quesadillas pack a threefold punch with eggs, cheese, and black beans. Everyone gets to customize their own, making this a fun cooking project for the kids that keeps everyone happy.
4 medium-sized flour tortillas
1 tablespoon olive oil
1 cup grated cheese (Monterey jack or mozzarella work best)
1 15oz can black beans
Sprigs of fresh cilantro
Bacon or crumbled chorizo
Spatula or spoon
Drain and rinse your black beans. Transfer to a container or re-sealable plastic bag.
If using bacon or chorizo, cook over medium heat until cooked through, around 10 minutes. Once cool, transfer to a container or bag.
Heat your grill to medium. Add the oil to your skillet and once hot, add eggs. (No need to dirty an extra bowl to beat the eggs, just break them directly into the pan and use your spatula to mix them up a bit.) Scramble eggs until cooked to your liking, just a couple of minutes. Set aside.
Tear yourself four pieces of foil about double the size of your tortillas. Lay a tortilla flat in the middle of each piece.
Take half of the cheese and divide it between the four tortillas, spreading it around one semi-circular half of each. Sprinkle some of the beans on top of the cheese, then follow with a quarter of the scrambled eggs on each. Next, add whichever of the add-ons you like and top with the remaining cheese. Fold each tortilla in half to form a semi-circle and tightly wrap the foil around each, creating a snug packet.
Place the packets on the grill and cook until the cheese has melted and the quesadilla is slightly crispy, around 3 minutes each side. Serve with salsa and hot sauce, if desired.
Lasagna traditionally requires a long bake in the oven, but with a little creativity you can cook one on your next campout as well. The ragu is made at home before your trip; all that’s left to do is assemble the lasagna and let it cook on your camping stove or fire pit while you relax and enjoy the great outdoors.
2 tablespoons olive oil
2 medium yellow onions, diced
2 carrots, finely diced
2 ribs celery, finely diced
3 cloves garlic, minced
1 lb lean ground beef
1 28oz can diced tomatoes
Splash of red wine (optional)
Salt and pepper
8 sheets no-boil lasagna noodles
2 cups ricotta cheese
8oz mozzarella cheese, sliced
Camping stove or fire pit
Deep skillet or dutch oven
Heat the olive oil in a skillet over medium heat. Add onions, carrots and celery and sauté until soft, around 8 minutes. Add garlic and cook for about 2 minutes more until fragrant, then add the beef. Sauté until meat is browned, breaking up with a spoon when necessary, around 10 minutes more. Add diced tomatoes and simmer over a low heat until the liquid has reduced and the sauce has taken on a deep red color. (If you happen to have an open bottle of red wine, add a splash at the same time as you add the tomatoes.) Season with salt and pepper to taste. Once cool, transfer the sauce into a container or re-sealable plastic bag.
Prep your camp stove (or a fire pit with a grate) until it reaches medium heat.
Layer a quarter of the sauce into your skillet, then top with two of the sheets of noodles (break them to fit the pan as needed). Follow with ½ cup of ricotta cheese and a few slices of the mozzarella. Repeat layers, starting again with more sauce, ending with the mozzarella on top.
Cover and simmer until the lasagna is cooked through and the noodles are tender, around 30 minutes, depending on the heat of your fire pit or grill.
(Note: if you want to get more vegetables into this dish, you can sauté some mushrooms or zucchini at home to bring with you, or just bring some baby spinach, then layer the vegetables just after the sauce. Easy and delicious.)
Berry Cobbler with Drop Biscuit Topping
This fruit cobbler is a cinch to make, and your family and friends will be amazed when you produce a freshly-baked dessert at the campsite. Berries are in season right now, but this would be just as delicious made with any soft fruit.
For the topping:
1 ½ cups all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon baking powder
1 teaspoon baking soda
½ teaspoon salt
½ cup light brown sugar
1 stick cold butter
For the cobbler:
3 cups berries (any combination of blueberries, raspberries, blackberries, or any soft fruit)
1/3 cup sugar
1 cup milk
Grill or fire pit
Dutch oven, or deep skillet with lid
Mix together the dry ingredients for the topping and place in a container or resealable plastic bag.
Cut the butter into small dice, or grate with a cheese grater, then place into a bag and keep in the freezer/cooler until ready to make the cobbler.
Add sugar to berries in a bowl and set aside. Rub chilled butter into dry topping ingredients with your fingers until butter is incorporated, then add milk and mix until just combined.
Place fruit into the pan, then drop spoonfuls of topping over the fruit until covered in a mostly even layer. Cover with lid and place on medium-low grill or over low fire pit until fruit is bubbling and topping is golden and cooked through, around 30 minutes.
Jo Eike is a writer and a cook always in search of her next favorite recipe. She lives in Seattle with her husband and three children. This article was originally published in Seattle’s Child in August 2015.