Trail Chef: A Hiker's Valentine's Day Menu

Win over your backcountry betty or hiking hunk with this five-course meal.
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Win over your backcountry betty or hiking hunk with this five-course meal.

Headed into the backcountry for this year’s holiday of love? You don’t want to stick your beloved with freeze-dried food. Instead, try this five-course gourmet meal that’s sure to win over your Backcountry Betty or Hiking Hunk.

Begin with an appetizer of chili-spiced almonds, which you can make ahead of time. Almonds are great for hiking giving you a super boost of energy-rich protein.

Chili Spiced Almonds

Source: Cooking Light

1 TBS water

1 large egg white

1 lb raw, unblanched almonds

½ cup sugar

1 TBS salt

1 tsp Spanish smoked paprika

1 tsp ground cumin

1 tsp ground corinander

Cooking spray

1. Preheat oven to 300°.

2. Combine 1 tablespoon water and egg white in a large bowl; stir with a whisk until foamy. Add almonds; toss well to coat. Place almonds in a colander, and drain 5 minutes.

3. Combine almonds, sugar, and next 5 ingredients (through chili powder) in a large bowl; toss to coat. Spread almond mixture in a single layer on a jelly-roll pan coated with cooking spray. Bake at 300° for 15 minutes. Stir almond mixture; reduce oven temperature to 275°. Bake an additional 40 minutes, stirring every 10 minutes. Remove from oven; cool 5 minutes. Break apart any clusters. Cool completely.

Next, follow up your app with a low-calorie but full-flavored meal. This heartwarming pasta recipe balances the app’s salty almonds with sweet from dried cranberries.

Yvonne’s Pasta

2 cups pasta

2 individualized cans of tuna (2-3 oz cans)

dried cranberries to taste

1 TBS of garlic and herb spread (ie. Boursin or Alouette)

Handful of green scallions for color and crunch

Salt and pepper to taste

1. Cook pasta according to directions, then while the pasta is still hot, add the cheese spread and remaining ingredients. The cheese will melt giving it that yummy, home-cooked goodness taste. And if you feel a little spontaneous, you can always top it with a little Parmesan cheese for kick.

Note: You can replace the tuna with canned/vapor-sealed chicken or any other backpacking-friendly meat of your choosing (jerky, dehydrated ground beef, etc.).

Pair the pasta with some camp-made breadsticks, complete with melted butter and honey.

Warm, Camp-Baked Bread “Sticks”

Bread dough or biscuit dough

Honey or butter packets

1. Buy tube dough from the store (like Pillsbury Crescents or Pillsbury Breadsticks), or make your own dough either at home or at camp (you can also use a biscuit mix like Bisquick). Note: It’s unadvisable to make dough from scratch using raw eggs, since there’s a small chance of a Salmonella contamination that the fire might not kill.

2. Roll the dough into thin, snake-like ropes, and corkscrew each one around a sturdy stick. Tip: So the dough stays on the stick, circle the tips of the spiral around the stick circumference and then press the tips back into the dough. For breadsticks, you can also press the dough into a flat rectangle and then wrap that around the stick (like a pig-in-a-blanket, except in this case, a stick-in-the-blanket).

3. Hold the stick over the coals, or place two stone piles on either side of the fire to rest the stick on, so the dough hangs above the coals). Rotate the stick regularly until all sides are golden brown. Serve with honey for your honey.

You can’t end a proper Valentine’s Day dinner without dessert—that’s where these Peanut Butter Chocolate Bowls come in. Serves 2-4, depending on the size of the sweet tooth.

4 oz (approx 1 cup) confectioner’s sugar

¼ cup graham cracker crumbs

5 Tablespoons butter or margarine

1/3 cup chunky peanut butter

1/3 cup chocolate chips

At home: Mix crumbs & sugar and pack in a zip-top bag. Pack butter, peanut butter, and chips separately. In camp: Melt 3 tablespoons of butter and add it to the bag with the crumbs. Squish bag until it’s fully mixed. Add peanut butter and mix again. Scoop this into individual bowls. Melt 2 tablespoons of butter with the chocolate bits very slowly so chocolate doesn’t burn. Pour over peanut butter base. Allow to cool and then dig in.

You can make these as bar cookies at home and then bring them premade to camp: Mix crumbs & sugar, Add 3 tablespoons of melted butter. Add peanut butter and mix well. Press into a bread loaf pan. Melt 2 tablespoons of butter with chocolate bits in double boiler or over low heat. Pour over peanut butter base. Refrigerate to cool. Leave at room temperature for 30 minutes before cutting. Put in zip top bags and then refrigerate until it’s time to take them on the trail.

Thought we were finished? Nope: What’s Valentines day without a cocktail or two? Here’s our super-simple recipe for the perfect cold-weather camp cocktail.

Snow Cosmo

Lime juice + cranberry juice concentrate + triple sec + vodka + lime Kool-Aid powder + clean snow Mix together and enjoy—Happy Valentine’s Day!

--Trail Chef