Huge flavor. The happiest holidays. Even in the tiniest kitchens.
AS YOU'RE MAKING MERRY THIS SEASON, don't settle for small culinary adventures just because you're short on space. Instead, use these easy ideas to craft a meal that injects maximum taste into you and your buds.
Appetizer: 7 Roads Dip
An appetizer announces to the world: This meal is going to be special. Even easy apps like veggies and ranch with a few fancy pickles and olives, or pita bread and hummus, set a great tone. But it's a holiday, and you deserve something with seven layers of fancy. This recipe is infinitely customizable and almost impossible to ruin, so flex up or down with ratios, adding or subtracting to your diners' delight.
- Refried beans – 16 oz.
- Minced garlic – heaping teaspoon, fresh or from a jar
- Salsa – 1 ¼ cups
- Chicken stock – approx. ¼ cup
- Sour cream – ½ cup
- Taco seasoning – a healthy sprinkle
- Ground beef – 1 lb.
- Cream cheese – 1 package (8 oz.)
- Shredded cheese of your choosing – 1 ½ cups
- Smoked paprika – 1 healthy sprinkle
- Guacamole – 1 cup
- Black olives – ½ cup
- Green onions – 4, thinly sliced into ovals
Set out cream cheese while prepping other ingredients (room temperature is best for combining). Put salsa in a strainer to remove the liquid. Start ground beef on medium heat, draining liquid when meat is mostly brown. Ensure beef is entirely broken apart, with no large pieces, then add chicken stock to simmer until all the way brown, and salt and pepper to taste. Drain well and set aside to cool. Put refried beans, garlic, and smoked paprika in a bowl, and stir in chicken stock until smooth and easy to stir. Spread on the bottom of a 9-by-13-inch pan. Add a thin layer of ground beef—don't overdo it as too much ground beef will make dip hard to scoop. Combine cream cheese and sour cream—use a mixer on medium if needed. Spread on top of the beef and sprinkle with taco seasoning. (If you're adding optional guacamole, do it here.) Then add cheese, olives, and green onions in that order. Chill, but remove from fridge 30 minutes before serving
for easiest dipping. Serve with your favorite dip delivery device. (Leftovers will make some of the easiest tacos ever.)
I Heart Pro Tip
Any dish you can prep before hitting the road is a big bonus, which is one reason we love this app choice. Makeup to 24 hours ahead of time.
Side: PunchedUp Box Stuffing
If you're a from-scratch stuffing maker, more power to you. But there's no shame in store-bought stuffing, especially when you're trying to maximize both time and kitchen space efficiency. Punch it up by making a couple of easy additions, and it'll be practically indistinguishable from the scratch-made stuff.
- Stuffing – 1 box
- Celery – 1 stalk
- Lemon juice – 2 longish squirts
- Butter – 1 tablespoon
- Garlic powder – ½ teaspoon
- Salt – a healthy sprinkle
- Chicken stock – ¼ cup
- Finely chopped onion – ¼ cup (optional)
Melt butter in your stuffing pot, then add celery, lemon juice, garlic powder, salt, and stock. If desired, add finely chopped onion one minute after the celery. Sauté until desired softness is reached, approximately five minutes. Cook stuffing according to the box, adding ingredients to the same pot. If desired, make the homemade portion up to a day ahead of time and store it in a Ziplock bag. Then, add your boxed ingredients when ready to cook.
Main Event: Two-Meat Turkey
The beauty of Thanksgiving dinner is that a great main course is really all you need to leave a huge impression. This recipe is the perfect balance between a high wow factor and low prep time. It also hits all of the holiday mandatories: two types of meats, fancy-factor worthy of a special occasion, and off-the-charts taste. Best of all? Your guests will never know how easy it is.
- Turkey breast – 4 pounds
- Olive oil – 3 tablespoons
- Honey – 3 tablespoons
- Garlic – 3 cloves, or 2teaspoons garlic powder
- Oregano – 1 teaspoon
- Thyme –1 teaspoon
- Chipotle chili powder – 1 small sprinkle (optional)
- Lemon juice – 2 squirts
- Salt and pepper to taste
- Bacon – 10 to 12 pieces
- Foil-wrapped baking sheet with a roasting rack
Add all ingredients except bacon into a Ziplock bag and shake vigorously until mixed. If desired, marinate in a fridge or cooler for up to 12 hours. Heat oven to 400 degrees. Remove turkey from bag, place on roasting rack (without patting dry), and salt and pepper lightly. Wrap turkey with bacon, covering as completely as possible. Brush bacon with remaining marinade. Bake for approximately one hour until the internal temperature reaches 160 degrees. Increase heat to broil for around three minutes. Remove when bacon is perfectly browned (use caution— bacon can burn quickly if not watched carefully). Let rest for five minutes and slice at the table.
I Heart Pro Tip
When cooking any decent-sized cut of meat, you should use a meat thermometer, but especially in an RV oven where actual temperatures are likely to vary even more than home ovens.
Listen, nothing beats homemade. But baking takes time and a lot of space, which your galley is always short on. This holiday dinner, skip the stress and phone-in the baking. Pick your perfect store-bought pie but put a handmade spin on it by sneaking in my favorite dessert topping of all time: homemade whipped cream. You'll have to pack in an electric mixer and a largish bowl, but
making it couldn't be easier. In an easy three minutes from start to finish, you'll have a dessert that will have everyone marveling that you had time for homemade pie. (You cheater, you!)
- Heavy cream – 2 cups
- Powdered sugar – ½ cup (regular sugar will do too)
- Vanilla extract — 1teaspoon (optional)
- Salt – sprinkle
The colder your cream the better—consider popping in the freezer along with all of your whipping equipment and bowls for 15 minutes before whipping. Add cream and sprinkle of salt to a
chilled, medium-to-large sized bowl. Beat on medium until peaks form. Gradually add sugar until dissolved. Then increase beater speed to high and whip until desired consistency is reached.
In about three minutes from start to finish, you'll have the ideal accent to the perfect end to a fantastic meal. Lather liberally on any dessert that's asking for it. Or spoon onto coffee. Or just eat with a spoon. Or just stick your finger in the proverbial pie.
I Heart Pro Tips
Whipped cream will double in volume. Add ingredients as needed to make more, keeping the same 4-to-1 cream-to-sugar ratio. If you're going to add vanilla, pure extract (not imitation) is the only way to go here. You can also church it up with a drop of peppermint.
Make Your Guests Feel Special
- Set the table with a flowery finish. A few handpicked wildflowers in any impromptu vase set the perfect tone for a meal out in the wild with loved ones.
- Bring along a few snips of fresh herbs. Finely chop a couple leaves of fresh basil and oregano, and sprinkle on almost anything, from salads to that punched-up stuffing.
- Include a local delicacy. A great food adventure should try new things. Grab whatever your current location is famous for to add some interest factor.
- Accent with accouterments. Fancy jelly and Mrs. Schubert's rolls. Homemade dressings. Homemade punch. All have “you're special” written all over them.