advice

Favorite Vanlife Recipes

When we set out for our one year + travels on the road I had huge grandiose plans to put our Bend home for rent for a year and our beach house on Airbnb vacation rental for a year and not come back.  We were going to head North then East then South and not look back but COVID-19 hit and all plans changed.  Finding reliable and dependable help during this time, was quite difficult so when things break at our two homes it ended up being us needing to travel back and fix.  The idea of only staying in the great outdoors disappear when you need to get a lot of miles in and you are just too tired to go exploring down dirt roads. Those are the times that a Cracker Barrel parking lot doesn’t look too bad.  The idea of visiting James Beard award winning restaurants all over the country has ended and I cook all our meals.  So, my recommendation is be flexible, be ready to make course corrections and Cracker Barrel parking lots are a lot quieter than highway rest areas (except for the tweeker that we parked next to one unfortunate night in Rialto, CA, who decided to fire up his generator at 2am and run his grinder)! 

Now that we have been van-lifing it for 10 months now, I have honed in some easy recipes to make on the road.  With COVID-19, as I stated previously my idea of visiting James Beard award winning restaurants across the country is out the door and we pretty much never go out to eat.  I make about 95% of all our meals in the van.  A lot of our subscribers and other RVers ask how do we enjoy real meals on the road and eat healthy?  I have to thank Greg on the wise purchase of the InstantPot!  ( Disclosure: we are Amazon Associates, so we earn from qualifying purchases). I pretty much use it every other day.  The 6-quart size makes about 2-3 meals for us per use.  We eat very healthy and love the one pot clean-up!  It really makes it easy to cook great dishes in our tiny kitchen. 

Greg’s favorite meals are my coconut curry lentil soup, split pea and pancetta soup, boneless spareribs, vegetables, potatoes & brown rice, chicken sundried tomato sausage & vegetable pasta and last but not least for dessert lemon cheesecake.  When you are on the road and don’t have an oven, dessert can get very tricky.  I have mastered fruit cobblers, banana nut bread and chocolate peanut butter cake in the microwave.  These could be helpful when you need to quench that sweet tooth. 

Coconut Curry Lentil Soup
Ingredients: 
1 ½ cup lentil
1 ½ cup brown rice
1 zucchini chopped
1 onion chopped
Handful of baby carrots cut in half
Handful of chopped kale
4 purple potatoes diced
1 sweet potato diced
1 can diced tomatoes
1 shallot diced
1 yellow or green bell pepper diced
4 cloves of garlic diced
8 baby portabella mushrooms chopped
1 tablespoon ginger paste
4 cups of water with 1 vegetable bouillon cube soaking
1 can coconut milk
8 oz Greek coconut yogurt
2 teaspoons of following spices: grand masala, thyme, smoked paprika, turmeric
Salt and pepper to taste
2 table spoons of coconut oil

Cooking instructions:
1. Turn instant pot on sauté and sauté for 5 minutes- coconut oil, ginger, garlic, onions, zucchini, carrots, potatoes, sweet potatoes, shallot, mushrooms, bell pepper and add spices
2. Once onions are translucent pour in coconut milk, coconut yogurt, water, diced tomato, chopped kale, 1 ½ cup lentils and 1 ½ cup brown rice
3. Turn off sauté, put on instant pot lid, make sure its on seal, then select pressure cook for 24 minutes.
4. Let it release steam on its own for 15 minutes then select unseal a little steam may come out.  Once all steam is released you are ready to enjoy.  

Split Pea and Pancetta Soup
1 ½ cup brown rice
1 ½ cup split peas
1 zucchini chopped
1 onion chopped
1 package of pancetta (I like the diced pancetta at Trader Joes)
Handful of baby carrots cut in half
Handful of chopped kale
4 small golden potatoes diced
1 shallot diced
4 cloves of garlic diced
1 tablespoon ginger paste
6 cups of water with 1 vegetable bouyon cube soaking
1 can coconut milk
8 oz Greek coconut yogurt
2 teaspoons of following spices: thyme, dill, parsley, basil
Salt and pepper to taste
2 table spoons olive oil
 
Cooking instructions:
1. Turn instant pot on sauté and sauté for 5 minutes olive oil, ginger, garlic, onions, zucchini, carrots, potatoes, shallot, pancetta and add spices
2. Once onions are translucent pour in coconut milk, water, diced tomato, chopped kale, 1 ½ cup split peas and 1 ½ cup brown rice
3. Turn off sauté, put on instant pot lid, make sure it’s on seal, then select pressure cook for 20 minutes.
4. Let it release steam on its own for 15 minutes then select unseal a little steam may come out.  Once all steam is released you are ready to enjoy.  
 
Boneless spareribs, vegetables, potatoes & brown rice
Ingredients:
1 ½ cup jasmine rice
4 boneless spareribs chopped in 1-inch cubes (I like to get a package from Costco, they are long and 1 inch thick and then I put 4 in a Ziplock bag-usually you can get about 4 meals in one package)
1 onion chopped
½ bag of baby carrots cut in half
½ bag of broccoli crowns
8 baby portabella mushrooms chopped
6 small golden potatoes chopped in 4s
2 shallots diced
1 bell pepper Julianne
4 cloves of garlic diced
1 tablespoon ginger paste
1 ½ cups of water with 1 vegetable bouyon cube soaking
2 teaspoons of following spices: soy sauce, hoisin sauce, Worcestershire sauce, garlic salt, onion salt, smoked paprika, basil, coriander, rosemary  
Salt and pepper to taste
2 table spoons sesame oil
 
Cooking instructions:
1. Turn instant pot on sauté and sauté for 5 minutes sesame, ginger, spare ribs, garlic, onions, carrots, potatoes, shallot, bell pepper, mushrooms and add spices
2. Once onions are translucent pour in 1 ½ cups of water, 1 ½ cup jasmine rice
3. Turn off sauté, put on instant pot lid, make sure it’s on seal, then select pressure cook for 15 minutes or rice function
4. Let it release steam on its own for 15 minutes then select unseal a little steam may come out.  While it is releasing put ½ bag of broccoli crowns in microwave for 2 ½ minutes.  Once all steam is released add broccoli crowns and mix up and you are ready to enjoy.  
 
Chicken sundried tomato sausage & vegetable pasta
1 zucchini chopped
1 onion chopped
8 baby portabella mushrooms chopped
Couple Handfuls of chopped kale
1 can diced tomatoes
2 cans tomato sauce
5 sundried tomatoes diced
1 can sliced black olives
1 shallot diced
1 green bell pepper diced
4 cloves of garlic diced
4 cups of water with 1 vegetable bouyon cube soaking
2 cups red wine
2 teaspoons of following spices: parsley, Italian spice, rosemary, thyme, smoked paprika
1 box of penne pasta
Salt and pepper to taste
2 table spoons of olive oil
 
Cooking instructions:
1. Turn instant pot on sauté and sauté for 5 minutes olive oil, garlic, onions, zucchini, mushroom, shallot, bell pepper and add spices
2. Once onions are translucent mix all items and make sure nothing is sticking to bottom you may need to add more olive oil and ensure nothing is sticking to bottom of the pot.  Turn off sauté.  Then pour in water, add pasta do not mix (this is important so you don’t burn your pasta) add, diced tomatoes, tomato sauce, chopped kale, red wine-make sure pasta is fully covered.
3. Put on lid, make sure it’s on seal, then select pressure cook for 10 minutes.
4. Let it release steam on its own for 15 minutes then select unseal a little steam may come out.  Once all steam is released you are ready to enjoy.  
 
Beef Stroganoff
Ingredients:
1 rib eye steak or beef loin or beef roast (Trader Joes Balsamic Rosemary Roast is perfect) sliced in bitable pieces (marinate beef with 2 tablespoons: Worcestershire sauce & soy sauce, 1 teaspoon: garlic salt, onion salt, thyme, rosemary, black pepper, smoked paprika)
1 onion diced
4 cloves of garlic diced
5-8 baby portabella mushrooms sliced
1 shallot diced
1 can of cream of mushroom soup
8 oz of sour cream
1 bag penne pasta or tagliatelle pasta
4 cups of water with a beef bullion
2 tablespoons of butter
 
Cooling Instructions:
1. Turn instant pot on sauté and sauté for 5 minutes butter, garlic, onions, mushroom, shallot, steak and spices
2. Once onions are translucent mix all items and make sure nothing is sticking to bottom you may need to add more butter or olive oil and ensure nothing is sticking to bottom of the pot.  Turn off sauté.  Then pour in water, add pasta do not mix (this is important so you don’t burn your pasta) add cream of mushroom soup, sour cream and ensure all pasta is fully covered if not add a little more water.
3. Put on lid, make sure it’s on seal, then select pressure cook for 10 minutes.
4. I like to steam broccoli crowns in the microwave for 2.5 minutes to have with my stroganoff.
4. Let it release steam on its own for 15 minutes then select unseal a little steam may come out.  Once all steam is released you are ready to enjoy.  
 
Lemon cheesecake
Ingredients:
You’ll need a 6” cheesecake pan I like this one from Amazon
1 ½ cups of grounded graham crackers (I make a bag of grounded up graham crackers and bring a ziplock bag full)
3 tablespoons of salted butter
12 oz of cream cheese
1 egg
½ lemon juice
¼ cup brown sugar
2 tablespoons honey
1 tablespoon flour
½ teaspoon salt
½ teaspoon cinnamon and cardamon
¼ cup heavy cream
2 teaspoons of pure vanilla (I like to use powder in the van)
Coconut oil spray
 
Cooking Instructions:
1.  Spray pan with coconut oil.
2.  Melt 2 ½ tablespoons of butter and then mix graham crackers then make crust in pan.  I use a spoon to press the crumbs to bottom of pan and up the sides one inch.  Put in refrigerator when done.
3.  Mix ½ tablespoon of melted butter and cream cheese beat till smooth.  Then add egg, brown sugar, honey, salt, cream, vanilla, lemon juice and flour until creamy. Then pour into cake pan. Sprinkle top with cinnamon and cardamon. 
4. Cover the top of the pan with a piece of aluminum foil.
Pour 1 1/2 cups of water into the Instant Pot and place the trivet in the bottom of the pot.
5. Create a “foil sling” by folding a 20-inch long piece of foil in half lengthwise two times. This “sling” will allow you place and remove the springform pan with ease.
6. Place the cheesecake pan in the center of the sling and carefully lower the pan into the Instant Pot. Fold down the excess foil from the sling to ensure the pot closes properly.
7. Lock the lid into place and make sure the vent is closed “sealing”. Press the “Manual” button and cook on high pressure for 35 minutes.
8. Let it manually release for 15 minutes. 

Apple or Peach or Blueberry Crisp
Ingredients:
For crumble on top:
½ cup flour
½ cup rolled oats
2 tablespoons brown sugar
2 table spoons of butter chopped into smaller pieces
½ teaspoon cinnamon & cardamon & nutmeg
1 teaspoon a vanilla powder
¼ teaspoon salt
 
For Filling:
2 apples chopped or 2 peaches or ¼ cup of blueberries
2 tablespoons of butter
Honey for your desired taste, I use none as I feel the fruit is sweet enough
 
Cooking Instructions:
1.       Get a microwave safe mug and melt 3 table spoons of butter
2.       Pour in fruit add a little honey if you have a sweet tooth
3.       In a measuring cup or bowl mix all crumble ingredients then pour onto the filling, mix well
4.       Microwave for 90 seconds, mix and then microwave another 90 seconds.  If you are at high elevations you may need to microwave for another 30-90 seconds.
 
Banana Nut Bread

Ingredients:
1 teaspoon baking powder
5 tablespoons of flour
2 tablespoons of milk or half and half or coconut milk
2 tablespoons brown sugar
2 table spoons of butter chopped into smaller pieces
½ teaspoon cinnamon & cardamon & nutmeg
1 teaspoon a vanilla powder
¼ teaspoon salt
1 banana mashed
 
Cooking instructions:
1.       Get a microwave safe mug and melt 2 tablespoons of butter
2.       Add milk and all dry ingredients and mix thoroughly
3.       Mash in banana and mix thoroughly
4.       Microwave for 90 seconds, mix and then microwave another 90 seconds.  If you are at high elevations you may need to microwave for another 30-90 seconds.
5.       Be careful to not overcook but you don’t want it raw in places.
 
Peanut Butter Chocolate Cake
 
Ingredients:
1 teaspoon baking powder
5 tablespoons of flour
2 tablespoons of milk or half and half or coconut milk
1 egg white
2 tablespoons brown sugar
2 tablespoons of peanut butter or cashew butter
2 table spoons of butter chopped into smaller pieces
½ teaspoon cinnamon & cardamon & nutmeg
2 teaspoons of cocoa powder
1 teaspoon a vanilla powder
½ a dark chocolate bar broken into pieces or handful of chocolate chips
Handful of cashews or pecans broken into small pieces
¼ teaspoon salt
 
Cooking instructions:
1.       Get a microwave safe mug and melt 2 tablespoons of butter
2.       Add milk, egg white, peanut butter mix thoroughly and smooth
3.       Add all dry ingredients and mix thoroughly
4.       Add chocolate bar or chips and nuts
5.       Microwave for 90 seconds, mix and then microwave another 90 seconds.  If you are at high elevations you may need to microwave for another 30-90 seconds.
6.       Be careful to not overcook, it can dry out easily but you don’t want it raw in places.

We hope you enjoy these recipes as much as we do! With the holidays coming up, next week we will post our top 25 gift ideas for the RVer or vanlifer you have in your life! Cheers!

Leave a Reply