From My RV Kitchen: Versatile Mediterranean Quinoa

As you know from my earlier post, we’re working as Amazon Camperforce associates in Tennessee for 3 months.

Hours are long, and I’ve been cooking dinners on our days off to reheat and eat when we get home — starving and exhausted — on work days.

So here is my version of a recipe post, a direct slap at all the Foodie Blogs that contain miles and miles of annoying and unnecessary background information and far too many precisely staged photos of every step. Are you ready? Here goes:

I made this. It’s delicious. I would make it again. Maybe you’ll like it too. Here’s the recipe.

5 from 1 vote
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Versatile Mediterranean Quinoa

I put in all the Mediterranean-inspired things I like. Feel free to make it your own by omitting, adding, and substituting at will. Want a veggie version? Omit the chicken. Hate spinach? Replace it with zucchini. Can't find Kalamata olives? Use plain black olives. You get the idea.

Makes 9 1-cup servings of 270 calories each.

Course Main Course
Cuisine Mediterranean
Prep Time 20 minutes
Cook Time 30 minutes
Total Time 50 minutes
Servings 9 cups
Calories 270 kcal

Ingredients

  • 1/2 tbsp olive oil, extra virgin
  • 1 lb boneless, skinless chicken breasts, cut into bite-sized chunks
  • 2 cloves garlic minced
  • 1/2 tsp dried thyme
  • 1/2 tsp dried red pepper flakes
  • 1/2 tsp dried dill
  • 1/2 tsp ground turmeric
  • 1 can garbanzo beans (chick peas), rinsed and drained
  • 3.5 ounce jar capers drained
  • 1 can quartered artichoke hearts, drained and chopped
  • 6 ounces roasted red peppers, drained and chopped
  • 5 ounces kalamata olives, halved or quartered
  • 1 cup quinoa, uncooked
  • 2 cups veggie or chicken broth (For an added flavor boost, reserve some of the juice from the capers, artichoke hearts, roasted red peppers, and/or kalamata olives, and use that as part of the 2 total cups liquid.)
  • 10 ounce bag fresh baby spinach leaves

Instructions

  1. In large (at least 6-quart) sauce pan or dutch oven over medium heat, brown chicken and garlic in oil. 

    Stir in thyme, red pepper flakes, dill and turmeric.

    Add next 7 ingredients (garbanzo beans through broth/liquid) and stir to combine. 

    Bring to a boil, reduce heat and simmer, covered, for 25-30 minutes or until quinoa has absorbed the liquid and becomes light and fluffy.

    Remove pan from heat and stir in spinach leaves, about 1/3 of the bag at a time, until wilted and combined.

    Serve immediately or refrigerate/freeze in smaller portions for a future meal.

My recipe is adapted from the one I found here.


You can find more stuff I’ve cooked by going to my “Categories” drop-down bar and selecting “RECIPES: Or, we’re basically a food truck.” This feature appears on the left or near the bottom of any page, depending on what type of device you’re using.

Coming up in a week or so: a mid-point assessment of our Amazon Camperforce gig

Stuffed peppers experiment: not the cooking part, just the recipe posting part

Bear with me while I learn a new trick?

Jump to Recipe

Your reward will be this slow cooker recipe I like, in an easy-to-print format that my prior food blogging efforts lacked. See the cute little “print” button under the photo? Click that.

This recipe also happens to be perfect for cool autumn weather, and it’s fairly adaptable to various types of -free diets.

I had to use a recipe I already had a photo for, because I didn’t want to cook a thing and document every step and learn how to post it all at one go, so you get an oldie.

I first served this dish in 2011, and I’d happily give credit to its original publisher if I remembered where I’d found it in the first place, so if it’s yours, speak up!

Ready?

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Slow Cooker Sausage Stuffed Peppers

Hearty, savory, warm, filling, and very, very, juicy. I highly recommend serving these in bowls instead of on plates!

Course Main Course
Cuisine Italian
Prep Time 20 minutes
Cook Time 5 hours
Total Time 5 hours 20 minutes
Servings 5
Calories 375 kcal

Ingredients

  • 1 15.2 oz can Hunt's seasoned tomato sauce for meatloaf
  • 1 tsp dried oregano
  • 1 dash ground black pepper
  • 5 whole bell peppers, any color
  • 1 small onion, chopped
  • 1 small potato, any variety, chopped
  • 1/2 cup dried parsley
  • 1/4 tsp crushed red pepper flakes (optional)
  • 1 lb ground Italian sausage, spicy, mild, or sweet

Instructions

  1. In a 6-quart slow cooker, combine the tomato sauce, oregano and pepper.

    Wash peppers and pat dry. 

    If they do not sit upright, slice a very thin piece off the bottom. Finely chop the pieces and place in large bowl. 

    Add the onion, potato, parsley and crushed red pepper to the bowl, and toss to combine. 

    Add the sausage and mix to incorporate.

    Using a paring knife at a slight angle, cut the tops off the peppers; discard the seeds. 

    Spoon the sausage mixture (about 1 cup each) into the peppers.

    Arrange the peppers upright in the slow cooker and place the tops over the filling. Cover and cook until the sausage is cooked through and the peppers are tender, 5-6 hours on low or 3-4 hours on high. 

    Using two large spoons, transfer the peppers to serving dish, letting any excess liquid drain into the sauce first. Stir the sauce and serve with peppers.

Let me know what you think!

There’s one standout in every crowd?
More likely I just used what I had on hand at the time.


Here are links to other recipes I’ve posted. I will probably not go back and reformat them, even though there aren’t that many, because I’m just not that ambitious, and I have no designs on becoming a Food Blogger (capitalization intentional). But I’ll post future recipes in the format above, for ease of both viewing and printing.

You can also find my recipes by going to my “Categories” drop-down bar and selecting “RECIPES.” This feature appears on the left or near the bottom of any page, depending on what type of device you’re using.

Yes, I use my slow cooker a lot. No, I have not upgraded to an Instant Pot.

Yet.

 

From My RV Kitchen: Chickpeas in Curried Coconut Broth

Here’s an easy vegetarian dish bursting with exotic flavors, but without a long list of difficult-to-find ingredients.

Back in the day when my mom was the one doing the family’s cooking, it may have taken some persistent shopping to find things like curry powder, coconut milk, basmati rice, and fresh cilantro, but now it’s common to see more than one brand or variety of each on the shelves of even small-town grocery stores.

The best part is that this meal is prepared in a slow cooker, so it can simmer while you’re out exploring your latest camping destination.

I like to serve this dish with a garden salad and fresh fruit slices on the side.

Chickpeas in Curried Coconut Broth

2 teaspoons canola oil

1 medium onion, chopped

3-4 stalks celery, sliced

2 garlic cloves, minced

2 (19-ounce) cans chickpeas (garbanzo beans), rinsed and drained

2 (14.5-ounce) cans diced tomatoes, undrained

1 (13.5-ounce) can coconut milk

1 tablespoon curry powder

2 tablespoons chopped pickled jalapeño pepper

1 teaspoon salt

6 cups hot cooked basmati rice

1/2 cup chopped fresh cilantro

Heat a large nonstick skillet over medium heat. Add oil to pan; swirl to coat. Add onion, celery, and garlic; sauté 5 minutes or until onion is tender.

Place onion mixture, chickpeas, and next 5 ingredients (through salt) in a 3 1/2-quart electric slow cooker; stir well. Cover and cook on LOW for 6 to 8 hours.

Serve over rice, and sprinkle each serving with cilantro.

My recipe is adapted from this original.


Author’s note: A version of this post appears at Heartland RVs. It is printed here with permission.

RV Travel with Dietary Restrictions? Plan, and You Can!

Worried that a special diet will keep you from enjoying a weekend trip or full-time living in an RV?

Three Heartland owners talked with me about how they are able to enjoy the RV lifestyle and maintain their diet. With a combination of food restrictions that are both self-imposed and medically required, these women and their families have found ways to survive and thrive — and stay on the road.

Amy Hudson is new to RV travel, in a 2017 North Trail, with her husband, Rory, 9-year-old son, Ian, and two Brittany Spaniels.

Photo: courtesy Amy Hudson

Ann Mayer travels part time in a 2011 Landmark Rushmore with her husband, Dan, and their new pup.

Photo: courtesy Ann Mayer

Valerie Talley and her husband, Malcom, are the Traveling Talleys, and have been full-time RVers since 2013. They currently own a 2015 Big Country.

Photo: courtesy Valerie Talley

What type of special diet do you follow, and is it by choice or by physician’s orders?

Amy is on a self-imposed gluten free, dairy free, soy free diet, and she also avoids beans and legumes. In addition, her family avoids dietary ADHD triggers such as food dyes, preservatives, and certain other chemicals.

Ann maintains a medically advised diet that is free of gluten, sugar, and artificial sweeteners (any product made with saccharin, acesulfame, aspartame, neotame, and sucralose).

Valerie describes her dietary restrictions of little to no fats or oils, and no red meat or pork as “mainly self-imposed and somewhat advised.”

What prompted these changes in diet, and why is maintaining them important to you?

Amy reports that in 2001, her thyroid “went haywire.” After a long diagnostic process involving several doctors, she was placed on medication and experienced some improvement, but then gluten, soy and dairy became “a huge problem,” as did constipation.

“In 2009, suffering severe stomach pains (no one could touch me, it hurt that bad), and with no help from any medical professional (13 different docs), I decided to go gluten free.”

Amy undertook the information gathering process herself, explaining, “I am a research fanatic, and I lived on the computer researching anything related to symptoms, food, allergies, etc.”

Not only did Amy’s constipation problem disappear after changing her diet, but she learned “how to cook anything gluten free and dairy free,” and became a source of knowledge to friends.

“I will never eat gluten again. I rarely eat cheese. I avoid soy at all costs. I don’t like feeling horrible.”

Two of Amy’s favorite products
(Photo: courtesy Amy Hudson)

Ann says that thyroid cancer, a heart attack, weight gain, and increasingly bad lab results caused her doctor to address her diet. “Thyroid and heart disease are progressive diseases that lead to other illnesses or death if not controlled, so that was my wake-up call. I could keep doing what I was doing and die early — or change my diet and improve the odds that I would live a longer, healthier life.”

Noting a trusted friend’s success on the THM (Trim Healthy Mama) program, which advocates avoidance of gluten, sugar and artificial sweeteners, Ann gave it a try.

“After two years of eating GF/SF/ASF, I’m down 33 pounds, my weight is appropriate for my height and age, inflammation in my body has been reduced, my energy level is better, and my lab results have improved. In general, I simply feel better, so for me, it is a way of life.”

Valerie had surgery to remove her gall bladder three years ago, which led to her dietary restrictions. “Since then, my digestive tract has let me know, in not so subtle ways, that I needed to change my eating habits.”

Maintaining the diet is important for her overall health and well being. “I don’t enjoy being sick after eating my no-no foods, and my husband doesn’t enjoy the ‘pull over now’ bathroom stops I sometimes have to make.”

At least when towing an RV, Valerie pointed out, “the bathroom is right behind us!”

What is the biggest challenge you’ve faced while living and/or traveling in your RV while trying to maintain this diet, and how did you tackle it?

Amy admits that finding restaurants and grocery stores that prepare or sell gluten free foods is the biggest challenge in traveling. She prepares beforehand by cooking and baking everything she can at home, including “foods like hamburger buns, bread, snacks, mixes, and other items, so I am not left without. I also create a list of restaurants and grocery stores that I know carry gluten free foods.”

Amy prepared all of these Thanksgiving foods to meet her family’s dietary restrictions, “completely from scratch, and allergy friendly”!
(Photo: courtesy Amy Hudson)

Ann says that the biggest challenges she faces when RV’ing are eating in restaurants and attending rally potluck dinners.

“At restaurants, I generally have a salad (dressing on the side) or order a burger or sandwich and skip the bread.  At rallies, I often bring my own meal or eat before I go, so I don’t have to miss the socializing aspect of the activity.”

Eating in the RV does not pose a problem. “I bring my alternative sweeteners and flours with me when we travel.”

To clarify, Ann explains that alternative sweeteners are natural and plant-based, not artificial. “Some of my favorites are stevia, honey, agave, palm sugar and monk fruit.”

Valerie also agrees that restaurants and potlucks cause issues, and it’s a challenge to remember to check menus before going out to eat, then to ask further questions of the wait staff, and also to ask questions about ingredients used in catered and potluck meals at rallies.

“Cooking for myself in the RV is not hard, and I find that I feel much better when I do stick to my diet. I am blessed with a wonderful husband who is willing to eat what I can eat, and does not expect me to fix him something separate from my food, though I do have frozen hamburger patties for him to grill along with my turkey burgers.”

In Valerie’s RV, it’s sometimes beef for him, chicken for her.
(Photo: courtesy Valerie Talley)

What advice would you give someone who is hesitant to try RVing because of their own special dietary needs?

Amy: To do their homework, to find and make lists of places that carry the foods they can have, and to not be afraid. Always have a plan and a backup plan.

Ann: Bake ahead, stock up on meals and snacks you can eat, and don’t hesitate to bring your special foods to group gatherings. Your friends will understand.

Valerie: Take a short trip in your RV, and see how it works for your needs. There are so many great places on the web to help with any dietary need. You do have to be proactive with your needs, and be willing to speak up when necessary, as I have learned and am still learning to do.

Is there anything else you’d like to add, such as online resources for support or recipes?

Amy recommends carolfenstercooks.com, foodphilosopher.com, cybelepascal.com, and glutenfreeonashoestring.com. She also added an endorsement for the benefits of maintaining a special diet. “I found that by converting to gluten free, soy free, dairy free and ADHD free, my family and I eat a lot healthier. We read every single label on a food item before we buy it.”

Ann encourages searching the internet for THM and GF/SF web sites, as many of them offer recipes and support groups. One of her favorite recipes is this one for Cilantro Lime Chicken.

Cilantro-Lime Chicken
Photo source: iFoodReal.com

Valerie offers the reminder that having your own kitchen behind you wherever you go actually makes things easier. “Coping with my dietary restrictions in the RV is easy, since I know how my food is prepared.”

Speaking of which, you’ve probably noticed that I’ve sprinkled this post with photos of some of the meals these women have turned out.

All this special diet stuff looks mighty appetizing to me, and I’d try any one of these dishes or products!

Even waffles, y’all. Waffles.
(Photo: courtesy Amy Hudson)


Author’s note:  a version of this post appears at Heartland RVs. It is printed here with permission.

From My RV Kitchen: Slow Cooker Cajun Pork Roast & Sweet Potatoes

Looking for something new to do with that pork in your freezer?

If you like the flavor combination of sweet and spicy, get it out, let it thaw, and make this.

I used a 2-lb boneless loin ribeye roast, but I think results would be equally pleasing with a tenderloin, shoulder roast, or even chops. You may need to adjust cook time depending on whether you’re using a boneless or bone-in cut.

Slow Cooker Cajun Pork Roast & Sweet Potatoes

2 stalks celery, coarsely chopped

1 small onion, sliced

2-3 lbs pork

2 medium sweet potatoes, quartered

1 tsp Cajun seasoning

1 tsp ground cinnamon

1/2 tsp salt

Honey or maple syrup

Place celery and onion in bottom of slow cooker.

Set pork roast on top of vegetables.

Arrange potatoes around meat, and sprinkle all evenly with Cajun seasoning, cinnamon, and salt.

Drizzle honey or maple syrup lightly over top.

Cook on low for 3-6 hours, depending on how tender you like your pork and how mushy you like your sweet potatoes. The longer it cooks, the more tender/mushy it gets, so check the texture at the 3-hour mark and adjust accordingly.

Slice roast, and serve meat and potatoes with a slotted spoon, drizzling with pan juices if desired. Sprinkle on additional Cajun seasoning if you like more zing.

Side dish suggestions: corn on or off the cob, cole slaw, tossed salad, corn bread, and/or your favorite steamed green vegetable

Recipe inspired by this one from Food Done Good, which is equally tasty, but without the spice!


Author’s note: A version of this post appears at Heartland RVs. It is printed here with permission.