Desert Lil's Goes Camping

Desert Lil's Delicacies - A DesertUSA Food Feature

I have received quite a few requests for camping recipes and ideas about what type of food to take on outdoor trips. After a little research at REI and other outdoor stores which carry prepackaged camping cuisine, I was appalled at the high prices. (These are mostly for backpacking, anyway.) So I decided to stick with quick and easy foods that are inexpensive and can create a delicious dish or meal in 30 minutes or less.

There a many common camping meals that are easy to prepare such as hamburgers, hot dogs, steaks, grilled chicken and others. Instead of the routine meat on the grill recipes I have found some fun recipes that will add variety and spice to an outdoor meal.

Many outdoor recipes utilize heavy-duty aluminum foil as the camper's "pan." Foil pouches are an easy method for cooking food directly on hot coals. The food cooks fast, and there are no dishes to wash when you're done. Once the food is cooked, the foil pouch can be opened and then used as a serving dish or plate.

I have also included one complete meal recipe titled "International Extravaganza". It contains all of the instructions and ingredients required for a tasty outdoor gourmet meal.

Let us know what recipes you use when camping and we will share them in Desert Lil's future columns. Send recipes or complete meal plans,


If you have a tasty, quick or unique recipe that you'd like to share with Lil and DesertUSA readers, please submit it Here, or to [email protected] subject DesertUSA Recipe


picture of food

Mojave Fish-in-Foil (main course)
Serves 4

  • 4 Pieces of Fish (chicken, shrimp, ham, or pork chops can be substituted)
  • butter
  • Salt and pepper to taste
  • Marinade (optional)
  • 1 Tbl water to steam (optional)
  • heavy duty foil

Cut 4 large squares of the heavy duty foil, making sure the squares are large enough to be sealed at the top before cooking. Place a piece of fish in the center of each foil sheet with a slice of lemon, a pad of butter or olive oil, salt and pepper to taste.

Place foil packets directly on bed of coals for about 10 minutes, turning occasionally until cooked. Cooking time will be longer for chicken, beef or pork, so make sure your food is thoroughly done before eating.


  • Brush the fish with Italian salad dressing or marinade before wrapping with aluminum foil.
  • To steam the fish, add 1 Tbl of water before wrapping.
    Add a few thin slices of carrot, onion or shallots, or other vegetable for additional flavor.

Sonoran Shish Kabobs (main course)
Serves 4

  • 1- 2 lbs. steak (chicken, lamb or shrimp can also be used)
  • 1 green pepper
  • 1 red pepper
  • 2 onions
  • 12 whole mushrooms
  • 2 tomatoes
  • Wood or metal skewers

Cut steak into 1" cubes and marinate in a marinade sauce or Italian dressing at least two hours prior to cooking. This can be done in large 1-pound zip lock bags. Cut each of the vegetables into bite-sized pieces. Load skewers with a combination of steak and vegetables, then place skewers on a grill over coals. Rotate periodically until cooked.

To add flavor, brush the vegetables (prior to cooking) with the same marinade as the steak or with a flavored oil such as garlic or hot pepper oil.

Chihuahuan Hobo Pouches (main course)

To make things easy, this meal can be prepared at home and stored in your cooler until your coals are hot. Serves 6.

  • 2 lbs. uncooked ground beef
  • 1 onion
  • 1 green pepper
  • 3 carrots
  • 3 stalks celery
  • 3 potatoes
  • 1 cup mushrooms
  • 2 Tbl. water
  • Heavy-duty foil
  • Salt, pepper and seasoning to taste
  • Ketchup or BBQ sauce to garnish

Cut the onion, green pepper, celery and potatoes into small squares. Slice the carrot and mushrooms into thin pieces. Cut 6 large squares of the heavy-duty foil,. Make sure the squares are large enough to be sealed at the top before cooking.

In the center of each foil square place 1/3 of the ground beef ,then put an equal portion of each vegetable on top of the ground beef. Salt, pepper and season to taste, then sprinkle each dinner with 1 teaspoon of water.

Bring the edges of the foil together and fold edges to seal. Place each hobo pocket on hot coals (never on flames) for approximately 20 minutes. Check occasionally for doneness.

Add ketchup or your favorite BBQ sauce and eat right out of the foil.

Desert Hot Banana Boats (dessert)
Serves 6

  • 6 unpeeled bananas
  • 3 chocolate bars
  • 1 1/2 cups mini marshmallows
  • Heavy-duty foil

Cut a slit down the length of each banana (do not cut all of the way through). In the slit, stuff each banana with chocolate pieces and marshmallows. Wrap each banana in foil and place it on hot coals (never on flames). Watch closely and check often. These mouth-watering Banana Boats are done when chocolate and marshmallows are melted. Unwrap the treat and dive in.

International Extravaganza (Complete Meal)
Serves 4 to 6

Here's a different approach. Whenever I go car camping, I like to plan one special meal that friends may consider extravagant in the wild, but which is really simple, quick, easy and o-o-o-h so good. This is one of my favorites.

  • 1 lb. capellini or vermicelli
  • 1 jar, can or cup of kalamata olives
  • 1 jar favorite marinara sauce
  • 1 small container shredded romano cheese
  • 1 basket cherry tomatoes
  • 1/2 lb. lettuce greens mix
  • 1 cucumber
  • 1 small bottle olive oil
  • 1 small bottle balsamic vinegar
  • 1/4 lb. feta cheese
  • 1 loaf of French bread
  • 1 bottle red wine -- Chianti or Merit
  • 8 oz. Halvah
  • Earl Grey tea
  • Cocoa

Fill your largest pan with salted water and place on stove to boil (I actually use a frying pan). Open the kalamata olives, slice the French bread, pour a little olive oil in small container for dipping , uncork the wine and serve all as appetizer. Place lettuce greens in separate bowls, then add sliced cucumbers and cherry tomatoes (these are much hardier than other tomatoes) and top with crumbled feta cheese. Serve salad with olive oil and balsamic vinegar, salt and pepper (okay, so we forgot the pepper grinder).

When water boils, add pasta (I like the thin capellini or vermicelli because it cooks so, fast). As soon as pasta is aldente, remove from heat and drain, while you quickly warm the marinara sauce in the same pan. Place pasta in separate bowls, add sauce and top with shredded romano. If you're like me and have a shortage of bowls, you build the pasta entree right on top of the Greek salad. Voila, 4-6 of you are eating in less than 15 minutes.

After dinner, if that didn't impress your fellow campers, serve dessert. While the men wash the dishes, boil some water to serve either Earl Grey tea or coca, along with that wonderful, sweet, middle eastern sesame delicacy -- Halvah. Now that's roughing it!

Complete Index of Desert Lil's Delicacies



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