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S'mored out? Bring something new to your campfire cooking

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A hammock sits near Lake Three in BWCA.
A hammock sits near Lake Three in the Boundary Waters Canoe Area.
Kirsti Marohn | MPR News

Updated: 12:24 p.m. | Posted: 8:30 a.m.

Hot dogs and s’mores are staples of campfire cooking. But every once in a while, it’s good to get out of your comfort food zone. 

The Campfire Cookbook
The Campfire Cookbook by Viola Lex and Nico Stanitzok.
Courtesy Brigitte Sporrer, DK Verlag

Whether you’re day hiking or in the backcountry for days, it’s easier than you think to expand your outdoor meal choices. It just takes a little extra planning.

Our friends at The Splendid Table shared a few recipes from “The Campfire Cookbook” that any novice can whip up using some basic ingredients and a few basic kitchen tools.

Day hike delight

Yes, you can buy power bars and snack foods off the shelf, but why not make your own? 

Cranberry muesli bars

Cranberry Muesli Bars
Cranberry muesli bars
Courtesy Brigitte Sporrer, DK Verlag

Here’s a great power snack that you can make and carry with you on your day hike. Bake these at home and cut them up, then pack each into a resealable zip-close bag. This recipe can make about 12 bars, depending on how you cut it.

Ingredients

  • 1 cup dried cranberries

  • 4 tablespoons butter

  • 3 tablespoons sugar

  • 2 tablespoons honey

  • 1 teaspoon lemon juice

  • 2 cups jumbo oats

  • 1/3 cup chopped almonds

  • 2 tablespoons sunflower seeds

Also

  • baking parchment

  • baking dish (roughly 8 x 12 in.)

Directions

1) Line the ovenproof dish with the baking parchment and preheat the oven to 325 Fahrenheit. Finely chop the cranberries with a knife or blitz them in the food processor.

2) Place the butter, sugar, honey, and lemon juice in a small pan and stir over a moderate heat until the sugar has completely dissolved. Combine the cranberries, oats, almonds, and sunflower seeds in a bowl. Carefully stir in the butter mixture, making sure everything is coated.

3) Transfer the mixture to the ovenproof dish, smooth the surface, and press it down slightly. Bake in the center of the oven for about 20 minutes.

4) Remove and leave to cool in the dish. Use the parchment paper to lift it out of the dish, then slice into 12 bars.

Cooking at the campsite

These recipes are great for a standard camping trip, when you can carry your supplies in a vehicle or keep food cool in a cooler or freezer. But you can also make these recipes around a fire pit in the back yard, or at home in the kitchen.

Pasta with cabbage and bacon

Pasta with Cabbage and Bacon
Pasta with cabbage and bacon
Courtesy Brigitte Sporrer, DK Verlag

This one might be easier with a two-burner camp stove. If you only have one burner or one pot, you can prepare the cabbage in the same pan used for cooking the pasta. Just add the pasta again at the end, stir everything well, and enjoy. This serves four campers.

Ingredients

  • 14 ounces fusilli

  • 3 1/2 ounces lard

  • 5 1/2 ounces streaky bacon

  • 2 onions, diced

  • 1 head white cabbage (around 1lb 2oz) stalk removed and cut into 3/4-inch cubes

  • 1 teaspoon sugar

  • 1/2 teaspoon caraway

  • 1 teaspoon paprika

  • salt and freshly ground black pepper

    Equipment:

  • Knife

  • Cutting board

  • One large pot (two pots, one large one medium, is ideal)

Directions

1) Bring 3 1/2 pints salted water to a boil in a pan for the pasta. Cook the pasta in the boiling water according to instructions until al dente (cooked firm to the bite).

2) While the pasta water is cooking, melt the lard in a large pan. Fry the bacon and onions over a moderate heat until golden brown. Add the cabbage and cook for about 12 minutes. Sprinkle over the sugar, stir, and allow to caramelize slightly.

3) Season the vegetables with caraway and paprika, then add salt and pepper to taste. Tip the pasta into a sieve, leave to drain briefly, then mix with the cabbage in the pan. Divide between 4 plates and serve.

Barbecued balsamic bean parcels

Barbecued Balsamic Bean Parcels
Barbecued balsamic bean parcels
Courtesy Brigitte Sporrer, DK Verlag

Ingredients

  • 2 garlic cloves, crushed

  • 2 tablespoons olive oil

  • 2 teaspoons Dijon mustard

  • 2 teaspoons maple syrup

  • 2 tablespoons balsamic vinegar

  • salt

  • 1 pound 5 ounces green or yellow beans, halved

  • 1 red pepper, deseeded, cut into 1/4 in strips

  • 1 yellow pepper deseeded, cut into 1/4 in strips

  • 1/4 cup pine nuts

    Equipment:

  • 8 pieces foil

  • Bowl for mixing

  • Cutting knife

Directions

1) Put the garlic, oil, mustard, maple syrup, and vinegar into a large bowl and season with 1/2 teaspoon of salt. Stir in the beans and peppers until they are completely coated in the marinade.

2) Lay a piece of foil on top of another one then repeat with the rest of the foil pieces to create 4 thick foil sheets. Divide the beans evenly between them, spreading them out in the center of each sheet. Drizzle over the remaining marinade from the bowl. Scatter with the pine nuts, fold up the foil, and scrunch the open sides together to seal the parcels.

3) Place on the barbecue and grill over a moderate heat for 10–12 minutes, turning frequently to prevent the beans from burning. Remove from the grill and leave to rest for five minutes then serve in the foil.

Explore Get Outside in Minnesota

For the deep-woods camper

If you’re backpacking for days, the weight you carry is a big deal. Whatever you can carry on your back, is what you’ll have on your trip. So freeze-dried foods and prepared mixes are always a staple of light-weight backpacker pros. 

But a homemade meal deep in the woods? That’s special. Here’s a recipe you can pack away easily and doesn’t require more than heat and water to prepare. 

Instant couscous with apricots and macadamia nuts

Instant Couscous with Apricots and Macadamia Nuts
Instant couscous with apricots and macadamia nuts
Courtesy Brigitte Sporrer, DK Verlag

With a little prep time before you head out on your camping trip, this offers a tasty meal in a resealable bag. 

Ingredients

  • 2 tablespoons macadamia nuts, roughly chopped

  • 3 tablespoons dried apricots, quartered

  • 5 tablespoons couscous

  • 2 tablespoons freeze-dried diced chicken

  • 1 1/2 teaspoons chicken stock, or 1 chicken stock cube

  • 1/4 teaspoon dried thyme

  • 1/4 teaspoon garlic granules

  • 1 teaspoon onion granules

  • 2 pinches of ground black pepper

    Equipment:

  • Pan or pot to boil water

Directions

1) Toast the nuts in a dry pan until golden brown (you can do this at the campsite or prior to your trip). Place all the ingredients in a freezer bag and seal.

2) Bring 12 fluid ounces water to a boil in a pan, then remove from the heat. Add the contents of the freezer bag, stir and let stand for 6-8 minutes, stirring occasionally.

Have a favorite recipe for around the campfire? Share it with us here.