Camp Cooking Essentials + Lamb Kofte with Feta Tzatziki

This is a sponsored post written by me on behalf of Albertsons and Safeway. All opinions are 100% my own.

*I’m beyond excited to partner with Safeway and Albertsons and their line of Open Nature® products to bring you this post about feasting in the outdoors. These products are created with high-quality, minimally processed ingredients without any artificial flavors, colors, or preservatives, just as nature intended. These products are available in my area at Albertsons, Vons, and Pavilions stores., and you can find them exclusively at Albertsons Companies family of stores, including ACME Markets, Jewel-Osco, Vons, Pavilions, Randalls, Tom Thumb, Shaw’s, Star Market, United Supermarkets and Carrs/Safeway. Visit safeway.com to find a store near you

Camping season in the PNW may be coming to a close, but we still have one more epic adventure left in us. This summer has been full of outdoor adventures. I’ve pushed myself in the outdoors in ways that have made me feel stronger and less fearful. From camping alone, to camping with a couple of moms and a whole lot of kids, to mastering the art of baking sourdough over the fire. It has been a summer filled with joyful and delicious memories, even in the midst of a pandemic.
Through all these adventures I’ve learned how to refine our pack list, what’s necessary and what isn’t, and I can guarantee you throughout every adventure we’ve eaten so very well.
So as our family is about to embark on our biggest camping trip yet, I thought I’d take you along in the planning process. If you’re just here for the food, that’s fine too. There is a Lamb Kofte recipe below that is equally delicious prepared over the fire or in the warmth of your kitchen. Click “recipe” above and you’ll be brought right to it.
For those of you who aspire to camp and want to do so with memorable meals then read on, my friends.

 

Create a plan.

My first step in preparing for camping is always to create a Google Doc with a plan for our meals. If we’re going with a small group, I also include links to the campsite and activities that we may want to consider while camping but the bulk of the doc is all about food.
Generally, if we are camping with other families, we do breakfast and dinner as a group then leave each family to take care of their own lunch.
Breakfast is usually a mix of yogurt and homemade granola and some sort of egg and potato scramble. And in our family, it’s also lots and lots of coffee enjoyed around a morning campfire.
I divide the doc into days and list out what is for dinner each day. Then, I write out a grocery list for each family and include the specifics of how the ingredients should come to the campsite. For example, we generally will have some salad with each meal so the greens should already be washed and chopped; ready to dress. This saves so much time and hassle trying to chop and clean on the campsite. Generally, I’ll ask that vegetables be already chopped as well. It saves so much time in the cooking process so we can enjoy that leisurely afternoon hike instead of having to rush back to the campsite to cook for hours – although I often don’t mind that either.
Plan your meals in such a way that the most perishable or vulnerable food items will be enjoyed first. For example, on a recent trip our first dinner was mussels in a fennel cream broth with sausage and potatoes. I picked up the mussels on the way to the campsite and kept them on ice for a couple of hours. It’s too stressful to worry if the ice in the cooler will hold long enough to keep fragile items fresh. For our last meal, on day three, we enjoyed potatoes baked in the coals with all the fixings. It’s a great meal to use up remaining ingredients and leftovers that may have accrued during the trip.

 

Know your limits.

 

I started upping our camp food game because for me, good food adds to the experience. I take great joy in feeding the people I love food that delights and wows them. The campfire became a fun challenge; could I create the same or similar food I do with ease back in my kitchen at home around the fire? The answer is YES! And often it is so much better prepared over the fire.
Something happens to me when I’m cooking with flames lapping at my cast iron and smoke is dancing around me while I move around the fire pit. I’m connecting to something primal, an instinctual nature kicks in and it satisfies me to my core. But listen, no one needs fresh baked sourdough baked over coals in order to have a memorable camping trip. You need to find what delights you in the outdoors and lean into that.
When I started cooking elaborate meals for my family over the fire, I may have taken it a little too far. There were 17 of us on the campsite and I brought real plates – not fine china mind you – but actual plates that needed washing. Lucky for me as the cook I don’t need to do the dishes but I’m quite certain my brothers were not my biggest fans when they had to hand wash 17 sets of dishes in cold camp water. Since then I’ve embraced compostable plates and utensils. My heart for the environment would prefer to use all reusable, and I do if it’s just me camping or a rather small group, but I don’t want to miss the smell of the pine, the dull roar of the waves and the time sitting around the campfire because everyone is too busy doing the dishes. I’ve found my limit and am now bringing all the Open Nature compostable products that can fit in my car.
Start small. Wrap some russet potatoes in aluminum and toss them into the coals without a care. Turn them every 10 minutes or so then top the fluffy potatoes with crisp bacon, sour cream and whatever you may have lingering in your cooler. This is one of the easiest and most satisfying meals we have had on the campsite.
Know your own limits. Find what works for you and your family and friends and lean into that.

 

Divide and conquer.

 

For us the point of the Google doc is to create a shared plan. While I tend to do the majority of the dinner cooking while camping, I’m using ingredients that everyone contributed. And since I’ve done the cooking, after dinner I’m sitting around the fire drinking a glass of wine while the dishes are being cleaned.
After many camping trips we have found what works best for our family. A system that feels equitable and shared so that we all get to enjoy our time outdoors as much as possible.
Don’t be a hero, share the tasks and divvy up the responsibilities.

Go, enjoy and let whatever may be, be.

A loaf of sourdough baked over coals is one of the most rewarding things there is but inevitably that loaf contains at least a part that is a bit charred and may require a bit of shaving unless someone is quite partial to burnt bread. But char or not it is still a loaf of fresh baked bread that has been cooked in the fire!
Embrace the char. Embrace the dirt. Embrace what is beyond your control so that you may breathe in the smell of cedar warmed by the sun, the laughter of kids who are not playing on devices, the leisurely hours spent not checking anything off of a to-do list. This is what truly delights and this is what camping is all about.

Pack List

Every trip will be different and every pack list will vary as well. It depends greatly on what is on the menu but I’ve created an extensive list of products and tools that I always bring with me when cooking outdoors and I’ll also add our pack list from a recent camping trip. Leave any questions you may have in the comments below or come find me on Instagram. I’d be happy to answer any questions. My heart is for getting everyone in the outdoors so I’m delighted to do whatever I can to make that feel accessible to all.

Outdoor Cooking Essentials

Sample Google Doc Meal Plan:

Dinner:

Sunday

Mussels in a Fennel Cream with Potatoes and Sausage
Sourdough bread
Salad
Stone Fruit Cobbler with Butter Biscuits

Monday

Roasted Mushroom & Truffle Macaroni & Cheese
Bread
Salad

Tuesday

Coal Baked Potatoes and alllllll the fixings
Salad

 

TO BRING:

Gerald & Lynne:
Firewood
Beer
Wine
Ax
Tablecloth
Paper plates
Utensils
Napkins
Aluminum foil
Salad greens, washed and chopped
Sour cream
Bacon
Cream
Briquettes/charcoal

 

Chris & Deb:
Marshmallows
Graham crackers
Chocolate
Wine
Beer
Salad greens, washed and chopped
Sausages (or Brauts)
3 Onions, diced
3 Red peppers, diced
Cream
Briquettes/charcoal
Grated sharp cheddar

 

Geoff & Amy:
Bacon
Eggs
Granola
Yogurt
Dish bin
Paper bowls (? – for granola/yogurt)

Ashley & Gabe:
Russet potatoes
Garden potatoes
Fennel
Salad dressing
Sourdough bread dough
Ritz crackers
Water
Beer
Wine
Paper plates
Salad greens
Chives
Pasta ingredients
Mama lil’s
Large cast iron
Medium cast iron
Dutch oven
Cooking utensils
Cobbler ingredients

 

Lamb Kofte with Feta Tzatziki

If lamb is not your jam feel free to substitute any ground meat here. I often like to use a mix of ground lamb and chicken or pork. If preparing this to bring to a campsite bring the seasoned meat with you along with the prepared yogurt. You can warm store-bought naan over the fire or if you want to take it next level prepare the dough at home then bake the naan over the fire. This is my favorite recipe: https://www.gimmesomeoven.com/homemade-naan-recipe/

Ingredients

2 teaspoons ground cumin

2 teaspoons ground fennel

1 teaspoon ground coriander

1 teaspoon ground black pepper

1/4 teaspoon chili flake

1 1/2 teaspoons sea salt

1/4 cup whole milk Greek yogurt

16 ounces Open Nature Ground Lamb

Feta Tzatziki

1 cup Open Nature whole milk yogurt

1/2 cup diced cucumber

1 teaspoon dried mint

1/4 cup crumbled feta

Pinch salt

Freshly ground black pepper

8 pita

Fresh cilantro, mint or other greens

Hot sauce, optional

Instructions

In a large bowl combine all the spices with the yogurt and stir well. Stir in the meat. If you are planning to cook over the fire, have everyone at the campsite gather sturdy roasting sticks.

Take about 1/2 cup of the meat mixture then form the meat around the top 4-6 inches of the stick. Roast the meat over a fire of coals (avoid cooking in the flames as it won’t cook evenly and the flavor won’t be as good). Roast until the meat is completely cooked through. This will take about 10 minutes of steady heat. Serve the kofte in a warm pita with the yogurt sauce and greens.

Prepare the yogurt sauce by mixing all of the ingredients in a small bowl. The yogurt can be made up to three days in advance.

 

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Esquites Tacos

*I’m proud to partner with Watkins to bring you this story and recipe. It’s quite evident in my recipes that I’m a big fan of flavor and I rely on good, fresh organic spices and dried herbs. Watkins uses only USDA Certified Organic and Non-GMO Project Verified ingredients in its spices, spice blends, and herbs. You can find their products at Watkins1868.com and select stores nationwide.

As always, the words and photos are mine. I appreciate your support and the companies who graciously partner with me so I can continue to share my stories through the recipes that fill our table.

 

You may have heard of the popular street food recipe in Mexico called Elote. If not, it’s an incredible dish that starts with corn on the cob; grilled until blackened and smoky then slathered in a creamy and spicy sauce before being rolled in cheese then finished with fresh lime juice. It is now absolutely my preferred way of eating corn. Esquites is the same idea but minus the cob. Corn kernels are blackened (or the cobs are grilled then the kernels removed) and then mixed with mayonnaise, cheese, chili powder, cilantro leaves, ground cumin, adobo seasoning and lots of lime.

Because I’m a believer in “all things are better when wrapped in a tortilla” we’ve turned this classic Mexican corn dish into a taco. It’s paired with what is basically a chunky guacamole that is loaded with scallions and a touch of sour cream (or if you’re an Antoni fan you can use Greek yogurt).

This recipe is written to feed a crowd or to have plenty of leftovers. I also added slow simmered pinto beans to bulk up the tacos but you can add grilled fish, chicken, steak, or carnitas – the options are endless.

 

 

Esquites Tacos

Ingredients

Esquites

1/4 cup mayonnaise

1/2 cup crumbled Cotija or Parmesan cheese

2 tsp lime zest

1/4 cup lime juice

1/2 tsp salt1 tsp Watkins Organic Chili Powder

2 TBL butter

8 corn cobs, kernels removed (or about 24 ounces corn kernels - you can use frozen corn here too)

Instructions

In a medium size bowl stir together the mayonnaise, cheese, lime zest, juice, salt and chili powder. Feel free to add more chili powder if you want more heat.

Add the butter to a large skillet set over medium high heat. When the butter sizzles add the corn then let blacken. Give a quick stir after a couple of minutes then let sit again. Add a hefty pinch of salt then turn off the heat.

Stir the blackened corn into the creamy mayonnaise mixture.

Alternately you can grill the corn cobs then let cool and remove the kernels from the cob before stirring into the creamy sauce.

Creamy Avocado and Scallion Salsa

2 large avocados, peeled and diced

5 scallions, white and green parts thinly sliced

2 TBL sour cream

1/2 tsp Watkins Organic Ground Cumin

1/2 tsp Watkins Organic Adobo Seasoning Pinch salt

1 TBL fresh lime juice

2 garlic cloves, minced

1 TBL minced jalapeño (more or less depending on your spice preference)

1 TBL Watkins Organic Cilantro Leaves

In a medium size bowl stir together the avocado, scallions, cumin, adobo, salt, lime juice, garlic, jalapeño and dried cilantro. Taste and adjust seasoning as desired

Tacos

12 small flour or corn tortillas

Meat or beans (optional)

Crumbled cotija or queso fresco

Pickled jalapeños

Warm the tortillas then serve with meat or beans, esquites, salsa and whatever other toppings you prefer. I’ve listed my favorites.

 

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