Tag Archives: recipe

Thanksgiving Dinner To-Go

Contributed by Michelle Shea of Adventure Dining Guide

Thanksgiving Dinner in a bowl in front of water

Image Credit: Michelle Shea

Have you ever eaten your Thanksgiving dinner while enjoying uninhibited views of snowcapped peaks, crashing oceans, pristine valleys, or crystal clear lakes? No? How about starting a new tradition this year: Get outside, and ditch the crowds! Indulge in your favorite outdoor adventure, and enjoy one of the most underrated exploration days of the year.

For many Americans, a traditional Thanksgiving consists of eating, cooking, watching football, and staying indoors. While everyone else is at home, why not take your Thanksgiving Dinner “to go” with a holiday-inspired, backcountry-friendly recipe. Invite family and friends to join you outside for a Thanksgiving meal they will never forget!

Here is everything you will need for your adventure-inspired holiday dinner:

  • Turkey Jerky
  • Rachel Ray’s “Apple and Onion Stuffin’ Muffins”
  • Cream cheese and dried cranberries
  • Adventure Dining Guide’s “Pumpkin Backcountry Bites”

This meal is pack-friendly and filled with nutrition to fuel your journey. The best part is that you can prep everything at home, so when you’re in the wilderness you can just relax and enjoy a fantastic meal.

Before you hit the trail, this is what you need to prep at home:

For an ultralight alternative, try dehydrating the muffins and the pumpkin filling.

This backcountry Thanksgiving meal is best served with a view, so get adventurous this Thursday! Happy holidays, and happy trails!

Cooking with Adventure Dining Guide

Preparing for vacation just got a bit tastier with the new Pocket Ranger® video channel! Filled with adventure and vacation tips, the video channel makes your travels not only easy but also a lot of fun. Take our contributor Adventure Dining Guide, for example, whose yummy videos can be seen on the channel. Adventure Dining Guide offers great tips for preparing meals during your camping trips through immensely entertaining videos.

Video Credit: Adventure Dining Guide

Adventure Dining Guide, “the website about eating civilized, miles from civilization,” features host Michelle Shea who takes viewers through step-by-step instructions on how to make anything from camping tacos to bonfire brownies. The videos are funny, educational, and sure to make your mouth water. A favorite of ours is the “Fire Ban Tacos” shown above. In this video, Michelle visits Lake Tahoe in the middle of a drought for some good and responsible eating without a fire.

Dining Adventure Guide features adventurers, professional athletes, and chefs who, along with Michelle, demonstrate how easy it is to make nutritious, protein-packed meals with minimal preparation or clean up. In the video below, Richard Orth, owner of BAKpocket Products, teaches you how to make gourmet pesto tortellini while sitting in a hammock in the Sierra Nevada Mountains. YUM! These recipes are so brilliant that they work even if you are looking for a simple dinner or dessert from the comfort of your home.

Video Credit: Adventure Dining Guide

Planning to bring the little ones? Watch “‘Orange’ You Excited to Make Brownies?” below for a genius way to entertain campers of all ages. If you haven’t had enough, follow Adventure Dining Guide on Instagram, Pinterest, and Twitter for some of the most appetizing food photos you’ll ever see in the great outdoors! Don’t forget to follow their posts on Google+ and to like them on Facebook as well so you can share your own fireside cooking stories.

Video Credit: Adventure Dining Guide

The Pocket Ranger® video channel and Pocket Ranger® App bring you the best when it comes to preparing for your next outing. Whether you are planning to solo hike the Pacific Coast Trail or take your family out on a weekend canoe trip, Adventure Dining Guide prepares you for a memorable time with fresh tips on dinner and cool desserts. Visit the Pocket Ranger® video channel today, and happy camping!

Cast Iron Cooking: Tips & Recipes

Whether you’re winter camping or in the comfort of your own home, there’s no reason not to bust out the cast iron cookware. Cooking with cast iron has become such a time-honored tradition due to its ease of use, durability and versatility. What exactly is cast iron? It’s an alloy (metallic mixture) of iron, carbon, and silicon that when made molten hot, is poured into molds to create the durable cookware we’ve come to love.

Cast Iron Through the Ages

Entire stoves were once made of cast iron. [Image: usualdays.blogspot.com]

Entire stoves were once made of cast iron! These stoves were wood-burning. [Image: usualdays.blogspot.com]

Here in the States, we tend to associate cast iron with early settlers, but cast iron has even older roots in ancient China. The Chinese were using cast iron as early as 6th century B.C.! It wasn’t until the 14th century that cast iron made an appearance in Europe, and then in the late 19th century, became a staple as cast iron stoves in American kitchens. Vintage cast iron cookware has a smoother surface, where as a newly-made cast iron pan will have a rougher texture. This is because vintage cast iron cookware was subjected to an additional, but more costly polishing process. If you’re looking for a quality nonstick surface that isn’t Teflon, find yourself some vintage cast iron. Oftentimes, even old, rusted pieces can be easily restored for everyday use.

The Importance of Seasoning

To be at its best, cast iron cookware needs to be used frequently to retain its “seasoning.” Seasoning seals the porous surface of cast iron by building a thin, hard layer of petrified oil or grease. A seasoned pan retains a nonstick surface and extends the longevity of the pan.

Both a brand new cast iron pan and a used, poorly kept cast iron pan will need to be seasoned before cooking. To season, scrub pan with warm water and nonmetallic brush. Dry and coat the pan with vegetable oil or shortening, inside and out. Place your cast iron upside down on a foil-lined baking sheet (to catch drips) and bake at 350°F for 45 minutes to an hour. Turn on your oven fan because the pan will probably smoke! After baking, turn off the heat and let the pan cool completely in the oven. Once cooled, remove from the oven and wipe away excess oil.

Cast iron pans hang from brick wall [Image: www.grit.com]

Image: www.grit.com

Easy Cleaning Tips

Unlike other dirty dishes, cast iron should not be washed with soap, cleaned in the dishwasher, or left to soak in water. Soap and prolonged exposure to water destroy cast iron’s seasoning and creates rust. After light cooking, clean your cast iron by simply wiping with a paper towel. If your cast iron needs a deeper clean, scrub the pan with salt or just some hot water and a nonmetallic brush or scraper. Dry completely with a towel, then rub a teaspoon or two of olive oil or vegetable oil around the surface of the pan. This will keep the cast iron from drying out and rusting.

Cooking & Baking Inspiration

Since cast iron can go in the oven, on the stovetop, or over a campfire, there are a plethora of cooking and baking recipes to choose from. In addition to its superior cooking abilities, cast iron may also improve your health. Cast iron imparts trace amounts of the mineral iron into the food you cook. Iron is an essential mineral in your diet that helps build hemoglobin and myoglobin, two important proteins found within the body.

Down Cellar’s No-Knead Bread

Courtesy of Ashley Benson at Down Cellar Catering

Bread dough and bread loaf in cast iron skillet [Image: thisisnotreallife.tumblr.com]

Image: thisisnotreallife.tumblr.com

After an overnight rise and an hour or so in the oven, this recipe consistently wows by producing a versatile white bread that looks and tastes like it came from a professional bakery. We especially like that Down Cellar Catering has adapted this much-loved Jim Lahey recipe, so we can bake a stunning loaf in either our cast iron pans or Dutch ovens. Cast iron is great for baking, since it evenly distributes heat.

Ingredients

  • 1 ½ cups bread flour
  • 1 ½ cups whole wheat flour, plus extra for dusting
  • ¼ teaspoon instant yeast
  • 1 ¼ teaspoon kosher salt
  • 1 5/8 cups water

Directions

  1. Mix together bread flour, whole wheat flour, yeast and salt in a medium-sized bowl. (Make sure not to sprinkle the salt directly over the yeast, since salt inhibits the yeast from making the bread rise.) Pour in water and stir until all ingredients are well incorporated.
  2. Cover and let the dough rest at room temperature overnight or for at least 12 hours. After rising for so long, the dough’s surface will be bubbly and smell of yeast.
  3. Generously dust a cotton tea towel with flour, cornmeal or wheat bran. (Do not use a terry cloth kitchen towel! The dough will stick to it, and terry cloth fibers will get into your bread.) Gently transfer the dough from the bowl to the towel, and loosely fold the towel over the dough. Let the dough rest in the towel for another two hours, or until the dough has almost doubled in size.
  4. Thirty minutes before the dough is ready, preheat the oven to 450°F. Place the cast iron pan or Dutch oven in the oven as it heats up. When the dough is ready, remove the cast iron from the stove and carefully slide the dough into the hot pan.
  5. Bake covered for 30 minutes, then remove the lid and bake for another 15 – 30 more minutes until the crust is brown. Ashley Benson observes that most people tend to take out baked goods a little too early. For better crust and flavor, she recommends letting the loaf cook a little longer than you think.
  6. Allow to cool 20 – 30 minutes before slicing, so the bread has time to rest.

Pan-Roasted Chicken with Harissa Chickpeas

Courtesy of Dawn Perry at Bon Appetit

Chicken thighs and chickpeas in a cast iron skillet [Image: www.bonappetit.com]

Image: www.bonappetit.com

Who says cast iron is relegated to just cooking up franks & beans? This mouth-watering, seared chicken recipe gets a tasty kick from harissa, a spicy North African red chile paste. This recipe serves four, and would be delicious served with bread or over rice, quinoa or lentils.

Ingredients

  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 8 skin-on, bone-in chicken thighs (about 3 lbs.)
  • kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
  • 1 small onion, finely chopped
  • 2 cloves garlic, finely chopped
  • 2 tablespoons tomato paste
  • 2 15-oz. cans chickpeas, rinsed
  • ¼ cup harissa paste (or less, if you’d like it less spicy)
  • ½ cup chicken broth
  • ¼ cup chopped fresh flat-leaf parsley
  • Lemon wedges, for serving

Directions

  1. Preheat oven to 425°F. Season the chicken thighs with salt and pepper.
  2. Heat olive oil in large cast iron skillet over medium-high heat. Working in two batches, cook chicken thighs until browned, about 5 minutes per side. Transfer cooked chicken to a plate.
  3. Pour all but 1 tablespoon of drippings from the pan. Add onion and garlic to the pan. Cook for about three minutes, stirring often until onion is softened.
  4. Add tomato paste to pan. Cook for one minute until the paste begins to darken, making sure to stir so it doesn’t burn. Add chickpeas, harissa and broth. Bring to a simmer.
  5. Place chicken back in skillet, skin side up so it remains crispy. Transfer skillet to the preheated oven, and roast until chicken is cooked through (about 20 – 25 minutes). Top with parsley and serve with lemon wedges.

Bacon & Scallion Griddle Cakes with Maple Crème Fraîche

Courtesy of Beth Kirby at Local Milk

Plated pancakes, creme fraiche, and skillet [Image: localmilkblog.com]

Image: localmilkblog.com

Finally, a way to dress up our Sunday morning flapjacks! This recipe makes 28 mini cakes or 14 regular-sized cakes.

Ingredients

  • 1 cup all-purpose flour
  • 1 cup fine yellow cornmeal
  • 3 ½ teaspoons baking powder
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • ½ tablespoon sugar
  • 2/3 cup buttermilk
  • 1/3 cup water
  • scant ¼ cup bacon fat
  • 1/3 cup crème fraîche or sour cream (plus ½ cup for serving)
  • 2 eggs
  • 1/3 cup scallions, thinly sliced
  • ¼ cup crisp bacon, finely chopped
  • canola oil, combined with bacon fat (for frying)
  • 1- 2 teaspoons maple syrup

Directions

  1. Whisk together flour, cornmeal, baking powder, salt and sugar in medium-sized bowl.
  2. In a small bowl, combine buttermilk, water, bacon fat, and crème fraîche. Blend well. Add eggs and mix until just combined.
  3. Pour liquid ingredients into dry ingredients. Mix until a thick batter forms. Stir in scallions and bacon until just combined.
  4. Heat oil and bacon fat in a cast iron skillet over medium to medium-high heat. For smaller cakes, use a large tablespoon to spoon the batter onto the skillet. For larger cakes, use a quarter cup measuring cup. Allow the batter to cook on one side (about three minutes) before flipping and cooking the other side. The crust of the cakes should be crisp and golden brown. As you make them, you may need to add more oil to the pan to keep them from sticking.
  5. In a small bowl, stir together maple syrup and additional ½ cup of crème fraîche. After plating the griddle cakes, top with maple crème fraîche and serve hot.

3 Recipes for Romance: The Perfect Valentine’s Day Camping Menu

Ah, February 14th—that special time when we celebrate love and romance on Hallmark Day. Er, we mean Valentine’s Day. Sure, this holiday has a dark and twisty origin, but what kind of love story doesn’t? Have some dark things, that is? (Note: we are not condemning any of those dark and twisty things that happened in ancient times, just in case you weren’t on our kooky train today.)

Now that we’ve cleared that up, we thought we’d take some time to help you plan the best dinner menu for your Valentine. And, since this is Pocket Ranger® Blog, we’re obviously going with an outdoorsy spin. Check out our favorite Valentine’s Day camping recipes for romance! (And if these recipes for romance don’t make your date fall in love, well, you made them wrong.) 

Easy Chocolate Fondue

Courtesy of dirtygourmet.com

Maybe dessert comes last, maybe it comes first, or maybe it’s both for you and your Valentine. Either way, you can’t have Valentine’s Day (or a good camping trip, for that matter) without some good ol’ fondue—especially when you dip in graham crackers and marshmallows and strawberries for a funky deconstructed s’more. Easy to make with your camp stove!

marshmallows and chocolate is one of our recipes for romance

Image: www.dirtygourmet.com/easy-chocolate-fondue

Ingredients

  • 1 cup (8 ounces) cream
  • 12 ounces dark chocolate, chopped (or chocolate chips)
  • a pinch of salt 

Things to dip, such as:

  • Fruit (e.g. strawberries, grapes, bananas, pears)
  • Dried fruit (e.g. dried apricots)
  • Nuts
  • Pretzels
  • Marshmallows
  • Cookies (e.g. graham crackers, shortbread, macaroons)

Directions

  1. Pour cream into a pot and heat until it just starts to boil, stirring constantly. (If you have a stove that only burns on high heat, just hold the pot above the flame so that the cream doesn’t burn. You’re just heating the cream enough so that the chocolate melts, so it won’t take long.) Remove the pot from the heat, add the chocolate, and stir until it melts.
  2. Serve immediately with fruit and other dippers.

Venison in Red Wine + Port Mushroom Sauce

Courtesy of georgiapellegrini.com

Wild game is the perfect thing to serve for a romantic dinner for two in the woods. We thought about sharing this delicious recipe for dove nuggets (doves, after all, mate for life and are a symbol of Valentine’s Day) but we figured a) nuggets, while tasty, aren’t quite Valentine’s-Day-fancy and b) since they’re a beautiful symbol of the holiday, maybe we shouldn’t eat them (at least not on the actual day).

Venison strips with red wine glaze on plate [Image: www.georgiapellegrini.com/2013/11/11/blog/cooking/venison-in-red-wine-mushroom-sauce]

Image: www.georgiapellegrini.com/2013/11/11/blog/cooking/venison-in-red-wine-mushroom-sauce

Ingredients

  • 1 venison backstrap
  • Salt and pepper
  • 2 tablespoons grape seed oil
  • 1 cup sliced button mushrooms
  • 2 shallots, thinly sliced
  • 2 tablespoons flour
  • 1/2 cup red wine
  • 1/2 cup port wine

Directions

  1. Season the venison with salt and pepper liberally on all sides.
  2. Heat a skillet with 1 tablespoon of grape seed oil until smoking hot.
  3. Add the venison backstrap and sear on all sides until well browned (about 5 minutes in total for rare, about 8 minutes for medium rare.)
  4. Remove the backstrap to a rack or cutting board and let it rest for 5-10 minutes.
  5. Add 1 tablespoon of grape seed oil to the pan, heat, and add the mushrooms and shallots. Sprinkle with salt and pepper to help release the juices. Cook until soft.
  6. Sprinkle with the flour and stir to dry out the pan.
  7. Add the red wine and port and simmer, stirring to break up the flour. Let reduce by about half until thickened and the alcohol has burned off.
  8. Slice the venison into thin slices and spoon over the sauce.

Truffled Mash

Courtesy of foodnetwork.com

Valentine’s Day in the wild is all about making meat and potatoes sexy—so we’re giving you simple mashed potatoes, gourmet-style. You’ll get your rustic feel with a fancy shmancy truffled twist.

Bowl of truffled mashed potatoes [Image: www.foodnetwork.com/recipes/food-network-kitchens/truffled-mash-recipe.html]

Image: www.foodnetwork.com/recipes/food-network-kitchens/truffled-mash-recipe.html

 Ingredients

  • 1 pound peeled and quartered russet potatoes
  • 2/3 cup half and half
  • 2 tablespoons butter
  • ½ cup grated truffled pecorino cheese
  • Salt & pepper 

Directions

  1. Cook peeled and quartered russet potatoes in a pot of simmering water until tender, about 30 minutes. Drain.
  2. Heat 2/3 cup half-and-half and 2 tablespoons butter in the pot. Add the potatoes and mash.
  3. Stir in ½ cup grated truffled pecorino cheese and salt and pepper. Cover and let stand 5 minutes.

We thought about giving you some sort of fancy yet rustic vegetable dish, but said to ourselves: it’s Valentine’s Day! We can pig out and just eat our favorite things. Besides, with all of that chocolate and venison and mashed potato goodness, we doubt you’d have any room left.

Looking for a Hot Cocoa Recipe?

After a long day spent out in the cold, you’ll be needing a mug of hot cocoa. While it’s easy to just scoop out the Swiss Miss and add a little hot water from the tea kettle, you should check out this hot cocoa recipe list. We think they’re all worth the extra effort. Just don’t forget to share with your friends!

Decadent Hot Chocolate Mix

Courtesy of Deb Perelman at Smitten Kitchen

Mittened hands hold a red mug of hot cocoa recipe with a heart-shaped marshmallow

Image: weheartit.com

This hot cocoa recipe makes enough mix for around 9 servings. To save some of this cocoa mix for later, store in an airtight container at room temperature. It should keep for up to two months.

Ingredients

  • ½ cup granulated sugar
  • 1 tablespoon cornstarch
  • 3 ounces semi- or bittersweet chocolate, roughly chopped
  • ½ cup cocoa powder
  • ¼ teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1/8 teaspoon fine sea salt (or ¼ teaspoon kosher salt)

Directions

  1. Combine all the ingredients listed above in a food processor. Blend until powdery. (If you don’t have a food processor, chop or grate the chocolate until it’s very fine. Then mix this finely chopped chocolate into the remaining ingredients.)
  2. To make one serving of hot cocoa, heat 1 cup of milk in a saucepan over medium heat until steamy. (Almond, coconut, soy or cow’s milk are all fine to use.)
  3. Add 3 tablespoons of your hot chocolate mix to the warmed milk. Whisk over the heat for another minute, until the milk begins to simmer and mix is dissolved. (Store the rest of the dry hot cocoa mix in an airtight container.)
  4. Pour into a mug. Top with whipped cream and/or some wicked cute marshmallows.

Variations

  • Mexican Hot Chocolate: If you’d like to add some heat, add a pinch of chile powder, cayenne pepper, and cinnamon to the cocoa mix.
  • Mint Hot Chocolate: To give your hot cocoa a minty kick, add mint extract in place of vanilla extract in the cocoa mix.
  • Mocha Hot Chocolate: For a little buzz, add a few tablespoons of espresso powder to the cocoa mix. 

Lemongrass-Lavender White Hot Chocolate

Courtesy of Yvonne Ruperti at Serious Eats

Mug of white hot chocolate with lemongrass stalk and lavender

Image: Yvonne Ruperti

Looking for a completely new hot cocoa recipe this winter? We think this delicious white chocolate one fits the bill. This recipe makes enough for 2 servings. The question is then: to share or not to share?

Ingredients

  • 12 ounces whole milk (or if you’d like a richer texture, substitute half of the milk for half-and-half)
  • 1 small stalk lemongrass, chopped
  • ½ teaspoon dried lavender
  • 1 kaffir lime leaf, torn in half
  • ½ teaspoon zest from one small lime
  • 3 ounces white chocolate, finely chopped

Directions

  1. In a small saucepan, heat milk, lemongrass, lavender, lime leaf and zest over medium heat. Stir occasionally, until you see bubbles forming around the edges.
  2. Remove heated milk mixture from heat and let steep 15 minutes.
  3. Strain milk, then return milk to saucepan. Add white chocolate and gently heat again over medium heat, stirring until chocolate is melted and mixture is hot. Serve and then make all over again because it’s that delicious.

Vegan Chai Hot Chocolate

Courtesy of Lee Hersh at Fit Foodie Finds

Two mugs of hot chocolate

Image: fitfoodiefinds.com

Here’s our answer on how to drink hot cocoa without breaking your New Year’s resolutions of eating better and staying healthy. Seal the leftover chai spice mix in a container, and use next time you’re making oatmeal, french toast, or cookies! This recipe makes 2 servings.

Ingredients

  • 1 teaspoon ground cardamom
  • 1 teaspoon ground allspice
  • 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 1 teaspoon ground cloves
  • 3 teaspoons ground ginger
  • 2 cups vanilla almond milk, sweetened
  • 2 tablespoons cocoa powder

Directions

  1. To make the chai spice, mix together the cardamom, allspice, cinnamon, cloves and ginger spices in a small bowl.
  2. Place one teaspoon of this chai spice in a medium-sized saucepan. Add the milk and cocoa powder to the saucepan as well. (Store the remaining chai spice mix in an airtight container.)
  3. Bring to a rolling boil and stir until spices and cocoa powder have dissolved.
  4. Reduce heat and let simmer for 3 – 5 minutes more, then serve.

Coconut Tres Leches Hot Chocolate

Courtesy of Mel’s Kitchen Cafe

White mug of hot cocoa topped with whipped cream

Image: www.melskitchencafe.com

With its blend of milk, coconut milk, and sweetened condensed milk, this coconut tres leches hot cocoa recipe knocks it outta the park. Gather three friends or pour the lot into a large thermos, since this recipe makes 4 servings.

Ingredients

  • 2 cups milk (you can use any kind of milk)
  • 1 (14-ounce) can unsweetened coconut milk, light or regular
  • 2/3 cup sweetened condensed milk (about ½ of the 14 ounce can)
  • 2 tablespoons unsweetened cocoa powder
  • ½ teaspoon vanilla
  • Sweetened whipped cream (optional)
  • Chocolate shavings (optional)

Directions

  1. In a medium saucepan, combine the milk, coconut milk and sweetened condensed milk. Whisk well to combine.
  2. Bring the milk mixture to a simmer over medium-low heat, stirring occasionally. Once simmering, whisk in the cocoa powder until the mixture is smooth.
  3. Remove the saucepan from the heat. Stir in the vanilla.
  4. Serve the hot cocoa in mugs topped with whipped cream, chocolate shavings, and/or a mountain of marshmallows.

Melted Hot Chocolate with Sea Salt Whipped Cream

Courtesy of Eva Kosmas Flores of Adventures in Cooking

Tall mug of hot chocolate surrounded by chocolate bars

Image: www.adventures-in-cooking.com

Need a bit of spoiling? Then this decadent hot chocolate is all you need. This recipe makes enough for 2 servings.

Ingredients

Sea Salt Chocolate Whipped Cream

  • 1 cup heavy whipping cream
  • 1 tablespoon sugar
  • 3 tablespoons cocoa powder
  • ¾ teaspoon sea salt, plus an extra pinch for sprinkling

Melted Hot Cocoa

  • 8 squares (4 ounces) Dark 100% Cocoa Baker’s Chocolate
  • 2 squares (1 ounce) Semi-Sweet Baker’s Chocolate
  • 2 – 4 teaspoons honey (depending on how sweet or bitter you’d like your hot cocoa)
  • ¾ cup whole milk, at room temperature

Directions

To make the Sea Salt Chocolate Whipped Cream:

  1. Beat the cream and sugar in an electric mixer fitted with the whisk attachment at medium high speed until the cream holds a very soft
  2. Gently whisk in sea salt and cocoa powder until just mixed in. Cover and set aside.

To make the Melted Hot Cocoa:

  1. Melt the chocolate pieces in a double boiler, stirring constantly.
  2. Add honey and milk to melted chocolate. Continue stirring until it’s one, warm fluid mixture.
  3. Pour hot cocoa into two serving glasses. Top with whipped cream and pinch of sea salt for garnish. Toast all your hard work and drink up!

Mountain House Freeze-Dried Magic Food

If you have vacation days this summer and you’ve made the wise choice of spending it outdoors, we’re giving you a round of applause because that’s exactly what you deserve. Perhaps you’ve decided to hike along one of Ohiopyle State Park’s 79 miles of breathtaking trails in PA. Maybe an exhilarating mountain biking trip to Oleta River State Park in FL is more of your style. Or, it could be you’ve planned that long-awaited camping trip to one of Virginia State Park’s 1,700 campsites!

Hiking Out From Rexford

Hiking Out From Rexford (Photo credit: Dru!)

Whatever it is you’ve decided to do and wherever you’ve decided to go that will allow the sun to grace upon your “I’m-finally-out-of-the-office-face,” it will likely require your Pocket Ranger® app and some additional planning. One of the toughest choices to make is what to eat while you’re out and about exploring for hours. Decisions, decisions, decisions…

When you take away the option to eat at a restaurant or remove the convenience of grabbing food from the refrigerator, making this decision should be easier, right? Well, not really! These days your choices are endless, so you don’t have to stick to the usual PB&J, canned beans, or granola bars. It’s a tad overwhelming, but the good news is that you have some pretty good options out there, such as pasta or rice and chicken. You’re probably scratching your head wondering how this is remotely possible, but it is.

Mountain House is a company based in Oregon that began freeze-drying food in the sixties. Since their early days of working with General Foods and the Department of Defense, they’ve expanded to manufacture freeze-dried food for outdoor-goers like you. Today, they provide an assortment of snacks, entrees, desserts and even sides in both cans or pouches. If you’re not already impressed, then maybe the fact that they have low sodium, vegetarian, and gluten free dietary options will knock your socks off!

So what’s on the menu? For breakfast, try the Mountain House Breakfast Skillet. It’s a mix of hash browns, scrambled eggs, pork sausage, peppers and onions. The pouch variety serves two and the only other ingredient you need is hot water. Not crazy about sausage? You can also try the Mountain House Scrambled Eggs with Bacon.

Mountain House Breakfast Skillet [image: http://iris.backcountry.com/image/view/c101/900/900]

Mountain House Breakfast Skillet [image: www.iris.backcountry.com]

If you don’t think you’ll have hot water for a warm breakfast, don’t worry you won’t starve. Just remember to pick up the Mountain House Granola with Blueberries and Milk pouch. A little bit of cold water, and voila!

Let’s move on to some heavier meals. A good choice would be the Mountain House Beef Stroganoff. This dish got rave reviews and it’s available at our Pocket Ranger® Gear Store powered by backcountry.com. At $7.99 for the 4.8 oz pouch, you can’t go wrong, folks.

Mountain House Beef Stroganoff [Image: http://www.backcountry.com/images/items/large/MHS/MHS0008/OC.jpg]

Mountain House Beef Stroganoff [Image: www.backcountry.com]

Aside from the obvious ease of preparation, it’s tasty. And if you want to make this dish a little more fancy all of you outdoor chefs, feel free to add some freeze-dried peas and carrots!

This next entrée is also a hit: Mountain House Chili Mac with Beef. If you have hot water and ten minutes—you’ve got dinner. It retails at $5.35 for a 4.06 oz pouch. This dish has a little bit of a kick, but it might be exactly what you need if you start losing some steam on the trail. Pair this meal with Mountain House Corn or Green Beans, and you’ll be at the summit in no time.

We hope you saved room for dessert. While it’s not exactly a camping essential (though this depends on who you ask), these treats are so lightweight and compact you can probably squeeze them into one of your many hidden pockets.

Mountain House Apple Crisp is a medley of apples, cinnamon, and crunchy granola. Whip out this hearty dessert after your Chili Mac meal, or better yet after putting in a few miles on the trail—then you can enjoy it guilt free! It’s only 130 calories for a ½ cup serving.

We saved the best for last. After all, what’s freeze-dried food without ice cream? The Mountain House Neapolitan Ice Cream Bar is a must if you’re going to bring any dessert on an extended trip. While this treat won’t give you brain freeze it will definitely satisfy your taste buds! It bears a close resemblance to the real deal, so bring a dozen of these when you hit the trails. Besides for $1.99 at our Pocket Ranger® Gear Store, it’s a steal!

Mountain House Neapolitan Ice Cream Bar [Image: http://modernsurvivalonline.com/wp-content/uploads/2010/08/102_0855.jpg]

Mountain House Neapolitan Ice Cream Bar [Image: www.modernsurvivalonline.com]

We can hear your stomach growling already. Check out our Pocket Ranger® Gear Store for these delicious Mountain House food items and more!

Hiking Snacks for Kids: 5 Great Recipes

A lot of these hiking snacks for kids are things that are totally buyable in stores. But if you’re feeling adventurous and you want to add a personal touch to your child’s early hiking experiences, check out these recipes.

Wellness Bars

Courtesy of Wellness Mama

Hiking Snacks

Image: www.wellnessmama.com/1047/wellness-bars/

Granola bars or energy bars are always a staple for some quick energy turnaround. Highly portable and not too messy, these options are also great for children with dietary restrictions.

One of the pros to making your own energy bars is YOU control all the ingredients! You can be sure your kids are eating something healthy that’s free of preservatives and other artificial ingredients.

Ingredients

  • ⅓ cup nuts (cashews, almonds, etc) Reminder: peanuts are not nuts!
  • ¼ cup whole dates (remove pits)-about 3 large dates
  • ¼ cup raisins (or more dates)
  • dash of cinnamon (optional)

Instructions

  1. Put nuts into food processor (or Vitamix) and chop to small pieces. Remove and put in bowl.
  2. Put dates and raisins (any combination of the two that equals ½ cup total) into the food processor and pulse until playdough consistency. It will start to clump together when it is done.
  3. Mix the two ingredients by hand until well incorporated and you have the consistency of stiff playdough or cookie dough. (You can do this all in the food processor also.)
  4. Roll between two sheets of wax paper to a ½ inch thickness and cut into bars. (Or make it really easy and just roll into energy balls!)
  5. Wrap in wax paper, plastic wrap or snack size ziploc bags (or glass containers if you aren’t giving to kids) and store in fridge until ready to use.
  6. Enjoy!

Frozen Banana Protein Smoothies To Go

Courtesy of Rhythm of the Home

Hiking Snacks

Image: www.rhythmofthehome.com/2013/05/recipes-for-easy-hiking-snacks/

The double benefit of these smoothies is that they are a great way to have a cool down break in the warmer weather! Heather Fontenot from rhythm of the home uses freezer jars like these that are BPA-free. You can keep them in the freezer and pack them as you head out for your hike. You’ll be glad you have them as a treat!

Ingredients

  • 2 bananas (we freeze our bananas to keep for smoothies, but frozen or not are fine)
  • 3 cups milk (we use almond)
  • 2 tbsp cocoa nibs
  • 1 tbsp honey
  • 1/3 cup dates (pits removed)
  • 1 tbsp ground chia
  • 2 tbsp coconut oil
  • 1/4 cup raw almond butter

Directions

  1. Add all ingredients into a high powered blender, such as a Vitamix, and process until smooth and creamy.
  2. Pour into freezable containers, and allow to set over night.
  3. In the morning, simply throw into a lunchbox or hiking pack, and enjoy whenever you need a cold break.

Homemade Fruit Leather Recipe

Courtesy of Penniless Parenting

Hiking Snacks

Image: www.pennilessparenting.com/2012/06/homemade-fruit-leather-recipe.html

Fruit leather is good for a quick snack option on the trail. Penny points out that the best part about making your own fruit leather is using natural ingredients and avoiding the preservatives and added sugar in the store brand (of course buying them is also convenient). Even without all the excess sugar, it’s a treat your kids are sure to love!

This example uses apricots but you can use almost any fruit like plums, pears, strawberriesk bananask and cherries.

Ingredients

  • Fruit (fresh, or canned and strained, raw or cooked)

Directions

Hiking Snacks

Image: www.pennilessparenting.com/2012/06/homemade-fruit-leather-recipe.html

  1. Cut off all the blemishes from your fruit.
  2. Blend the fruit in a blender or food processor until relatively smooth. Small chunks are ok.
  3. Line a baking tray with baking paper, then smooth the blended fruit onto the tray. You should probably use more than pictured [above]- this is too little and makes a thinner, cracklier fruit leather instead of a very pliable.
  4. Put in the oven on the lowest temperature setting possible, and prop open the door a drop (less than a centimeter) to allow moisture to escape.
  5. Check on the fruit every so often, and remove from the oven when it’s dry. Be careful not to keep it in too long or it will burn and/or dry out too much. I found this needed between 2 and 4 hours, depending on how thick I piled it on the baking paper.
  6. Peel the baking paper off the fruit leather, and cut into strips.

Strawberry Almond Energy Bites

Courtesy of Rhythm of the Home

Hiking Snacks

Image: www.rhythmofthehome.com/2013/05/recipes-for-easy-hiking-snacks/

Sometimes you just need a bit of something delicious to keep you going on your hike. These Strawberry Almond Energy Bites from rhythm of the home are convenient to make ahead of time and you can keep them in the fridge.

Ingredients

  • 1/2 cup almonds
  • 6 dates
  • 1/4 cup coconut
  • 1/4 sunflower seeds
  • 2 T almond butter
  • 1 T coconut oil
  • 1/4 cup dried strawberries – diced

Directions

  1. Process the almonds in a food processor until chopped.
  2. Add the rest of the ingredients through the almond butter, and process until finely combined. Add the diced dried strawberries, and process only until incorporated.
  3. Roll into balls and refrigerate until ready to use. Makes 8.

Blueberry Sunflower Energy Bites

Courtesy of Spabettie

Hiking Snacks

Image: www.spabettie.com/2013/04/15/blueberry-sunflower-energy-bites/

Here’s a similar idea to the previous recipe, in the convenience of ball form but changing up the ingredients with blueberries. These are dairy, soy, and gluten free.

Ingredients

  • 1/4 cup raw cashews
  • 6 Medjool dates, pitted
  • 3/4 cup dried blueberries
  • 1/3 cup sunflower seed butter
  • 1/2 teaspoon spirulina powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
  • pinch sea salt
  • sesame seeds, for coating

Directions

  1. Place cashews in food processor, pulse to a small crumb.
  2. Add dates and blueberries, pulse to combine.
  3. Add sunflower butter, spirulina powder, cinnamon and salt, combine.
  4. Roll into 1 inch balls, coat in sesame seeds. Makes 13-14 pieces.

Fun Snack Bags for Kids

Hiking Snacks

Image: http://www.etsy.com/listing/103970256/reusable-snack-bag-eco-friendly-snack?ref=shop_home_active_1

Here are some great reusable (and therefore eco-friendly!) sandwich bags for your kids! These are handmade with some fun prints and durable ripstop lining inside. They are machine washable and dryer safe.

Feel free to share any ideas about kids snacks that are fun to make and perfect for hiking!