Tuesday, January 13, 2009

Meals On the Go:::Jenn

I grew up in a family that packed a cooler for every trip. We just didn't eat out, ever. We happily traveled all the way to Washington, DC and never considered eating anything not out of the cooler. We also made regular trips around the state with the same expectations. Part of this happiness came from the fact that mom had mad cooler packing skills. She knew how to stock it full of things we loved or didn't get often. Things that tasted good at room temperature (I still drool over the thought of warm cheese) and that were either fun to eat or took a while. Also, she balanced those with things that were hearty and nutritious, so we didn't end up feeling gross. We got yogurt, hard-boiled eggs, jerky, trail mix, cheese sticks, sunflower seeds (lots of time involved in those), and chips (which we never got otherwise). Imagine my surprise when I met my DH and he balked at this understood concept that, we don't eat fast food or gas station fare on a trip or outing, we pack a yummy cooler. It has taken a few determined years for me to come up with some Daddy-tested items that enlist his support, instead of just his tolerance of packing food. Mostly I have found that with the right "main course" item he is happy no matter what the "side items" are. These are some of our biggest hits; all can be made a day ahead and therefore are easy to pack when it's time to go. Breakfast burritos (the egg, potato, and sausage variety), pigs in a blanket (little sausages inside a roll or biscuit), or any type of meat pie variation. (An eastern European idea where meat or fish pieces or patties are wrapped up in a roll or pastry crust to cook.) These are a more recent addition to my menus but so far, are a huge hit. Inspired by my sister's trip to Russia (and how many savory pies she found there), I have been experimenting. So far, every attempt has met with success.

Breakfast burritos: makes 15 (they freeze well, too)
18 scrambled eggs
1C cooked sausage (optional for vegetarians)
1C shredded cheese
1C green chili (you can skip it but they are really dry then)
2 /2 LB of cooked potatoes (cubed or sliced, baked or fried. I haven't tried hash brown or Tatar tots but it might work well too and save a step.)
Mix all this together in a big bowl and measure out a scoop with a 1 C measuring cup onto a standard burrito size tortilla. (Not the big wrap ones or the little fajita size). Wrap it up in tin foil and refrigerate or freeze. To warm them up, just toss them all in the oven at 200-350 for 10-20 min until hot. Packed tight in a little cooler they will stay warm and fresh for hours. They actually taste better made ahead, as the flavors meld together.

Pigs in a Blanket: count on 3-5 per person
Any little cocktail sized sausage or hot-dogs cut to this general size will work.
biscuit or roll batter. You can make roll dough or use refrigerator biscuits. I tend to use the flaky type of refrigerator biscuits and divide them in half to cover more sausages.
Just roll them around the sausage and pinch closed. They usually take a few minutes longer than the recommended baking time.

Meat Pies: These are very filling. One is probably plenty for most people.
Either bread dough or pie crust will work and can be homemade or store bought. (The pastry crust version is more crumbly, so pack extra napkins.)
Any savory type filling works.
Either hamburger, salmon or tuna patties are easy to wrap around and can be made for dinner and the extras wrapped up later. (These are cooked first and then wrapped up when cool.)
A salmon/tuna salad mix can be made into a ball and wrapped up with pastry crust for a tasty combination, though they are messy to make. The filling should be about the size of a large lime and just enough pastry to cover and pinch around it.
Any mix of savory diced meat and sauce with say mushrooms, or a shredded BBQ beef type filling in a roll is another winning combination.
All of these should be cooked as you would the outside covering (around 350 usually) since the filling is already cooked or ready to eat before stuffing.

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