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How to Prepare a Stress-Free Holiday Dinner in Your RV

How to Prepare a Stress-Free Holiday Dinner in Your RV


avatar   Stacy
Trip Date 11/26/2020
Posted On 12/07/2020 09:30:00

Camping | Recipes | Slow Cooker | Crock Pot | Holiday Meal | Traditional Thanksgiving | Christmas Dinner | Dinner for 2 | Dinner for 4 | Leftovers | Turkey | Green Bean Casserole | Sweet Potato Soufflé | Cranberry Sauce | Stuffing | Rolls | Dessert



Preparing a holiday dinner for 2 while on the road may seem daunting - but it doesn't have to be! If you're traveling with your slow cooker this holiday season, you won't want to miss the recipes and tips in this article.

The key to any great stress-free holiday meal is planning, so that's where we start. From there, we'll give you ideas on what you can do before the big day so that even the cook's holiday can be worry-free.

Have you ever thought of cooking your turkey, green bean casserole and sweet potato soufflé all in the same crock pot? That's right - you can make all three dishes in the same slow cooker all at once - even if you are preparing a dinner for 4!

If you are at all like us, you probably also enjoy cranberry sauce, stuffing and rolls with a holiday meal, so we'll share what we did to include them as well. Since no holiday is complete without at least one scrumptious dessert to cap off the day, we've got you covered with links to the recipes for our favorite pumpkin pie and pecan pie.

This article will help make the planning and preparation of your next holiday meal easier than you anticipated! Whether you are dreaming about a traditional Thanksgiving or Christmas dinner (or any other holiday) while camping, we've got what you'll need to make it happen. The good news is that you'll even have some leftovers to dine on during the following week as well.

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Planning Your Holiday Dinner

No matter the holiday, it's fun to have a traditional meal - even if you are traveling with a very small group, with just your spouse or significant other or even traveling solo. Although turkey and fixins' leftovers are perfect for sandwiches, too much of a good thing tends to get tiring or just go to waste.


What can be Better than Eating a Holiday Dinner Outdoors?

What can be Better than Eating a Holiday Dinner Outdoors?

It's a great idea to plan your full menu (including desserts) at least a week in advance. Then, before shopping, sketch out a preparation/cooking checklist. Depending on what you are serving, you can usually do some prep work several days in advance. I try to make a list of what I want to prepare on each of the three or so days before the holiday. This makes the actual holiday so much more stress-free. When it comes to what I need to do on the actual holiday, I also plan a timeline - sometimes in 15 or 30 minute increments.

Once you are happy with your menu and preparation timeline, make your ingredient list so that you can confirm what you have on hand and what you need to shop for. (There's definitely been a time or two when I thought that I had more than enough of a staple on hand. Then, part way into combining ingredients for one of our menu items, I realized that I needed more of something. Poor planning caused me to have to make a quick trip to the grocery store before I could finish!)

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Preparation & Cooking Timeline

When planning a traditional turkey dinner (plus leftovers) for just the two of us, I didn't want to spend all day in the kitchen. Here's the timeline that worked perfectly for our recent holiday meal:

T-3 Days

  • Complete grocery shopping (see "Shopping List", below)
  • Prepare and bake Pecan Pie - since it was just the two of us, we decided to start enjoying our desserts early!


Pecan Pie

Pecan Pie

T-2 Days

  • Prepare Cranberry Sauce

T-1 Day

  • Slice turkey
  • Parboil green beans
  • Boil and mash sweet potatoes
  • Prepare sweet potato mixture and topping
  • Prepare and bake Pumpkin Pie
  • Prepare slow cooker (see "Slow Cooker Preparation", below)

The Holiday!

  • Mix ingredients for Green Bean Casserole
  • Fill and start Slow Cooker with Turkey, Green Bean Casserole and Sweet Potato Soufflé
  • Prepare Stuffing
  • Heat Dinner Rolls
  • Brown French fried onions

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Slow Cooker Preparation

Here's where you can get really creative with how you use your slow cooker! (Of course, if you have multiple slow cookers, you can cook each dish in a separate one.). Rather than dirty more than one, we opted to use the largest or our slow cookers (8 quart). We almost always line our slow cooker to make clean-up easier. For our holiday meal, we used multiple liners to help with clean-up but also to make separate cooking compartments!

We originally planned to use three slow cooker liners. Rather than lining the entire slow cooker, we used one liner to line only the central part of the dish - leaving both the left and right edges open. After placing the liner in the middle of our slow cooker, we realized that it would be better to cut a second liner in half.


Cutting Slow Cooker Liner

Cutting Slow Cooker Liner

We placed 1/2 of the liner (corner side at the bottom of the slow cooker) on the left side and the other half on the right side. By using two half-liners, we cut down on the amount of excess liner in the slow cooker. We used two small zip-ties to hold everything together. (If you plan to fill the crockpot immediately after putting the liners in, you should be able to eliminate the zip-ties.)


Attaching Liners Together with Zip-Ties

Attaching Liners Together with Zip-Ties

Slow Cooker with 3 Compartments Made from Slow Cooker Liners!

Slow Cooker with 3 Compartments Made from Slow Cooker Liners!

Recipes

Here's the recipes from our holiday turkey dinner:

Turkey

Ingredients

  • Fully-cooked turkey breast
  • 1 can chicken broth

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Preparation

One day prior to your holiday dinner, carve your favorite fully-cooked turkey breast. (We chose a 4 1/2 pound Spicy Cajun Turkey Breast.) Store turkey slices in a gallon-sized ziploc bag overnight. You'll probably find that it is easier to carve your turkey while cold, rather when fresh out of the oven!


Carving Turkey Breast

Carving Turkey Breast

About 3 1/4 hours before serving time, place sliced turkey in your slow cooker (the larger central compartment).


Step 1 of Loading Slow Cooker: Turkey

Step 1 of Loading Slow Cooker: Turkey

Pour 1 can chicken broth over turkey. After adding green bean and sweet potato side dishes, cook on low for 3 hours.

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Sweet Potato Soufflé

Several years ago a work colleague recommended that we try this Sweet Potato Soufflé recipe. We've made it every year since - it's always a hit and is often requested by friends planning pot-luck meals. Since it was just the two of us this year we cut the recipe in half ... enough for our meal plus some leftovers.

Ingredients: Sweet Potatoes

  • 2 cups mashed sweet potatoes (approximately 3 medium)
  • 1/2 cup sugar
  • 1 egg
  • 1/4 cup milk
  • dash salt
  • 2 1/3 tbsp. melted butter or margarine
  • 1 tsp. vanilla

Ingredients: Topping

  • 1/2 cup brown sugar
  • 1/4 cup flour
  • 2 2/3 tbsp. melted butter or margarine
  • 1/2 cup chopped pecans

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Preparation

One day prior to your holiday dinner, cut sweet potatoes into chunks and boil until softened (skin on). Drain and let cool. Peel skin off of sweet potatoes - it's much easier than peeling the sweet potatoes before you cook them! Mash sweet potatoes in medium-sized bowl. Add sugar, egg, milk, salt, melted butter and vanilla. Stir until fully combined. Cover and refrigerate overnight.

Mix brown sugar, flour, melted butter and chopped pecans in a small bowl. Store overnight in a zippered bag.

Approximately 3 1/4 hours before serving time, transfer sweet potato mixture to one of the side lined compartments in your slow cooker. Crumble topping evenly over mixture.


Loading Slow Cooker: Sweet Potato Soufflé

Loading Slow Cooker: Sweet Potato Soufflé

After turkey and green bean casserole are also in slow cooker, cook on low for 3 hours.

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Green Bean Casserole

Ingredients

  • 1 pound fresh green beans
  • 1 can cream of mushroom soup
  • 1/2 cup milk
  • 1/8 tsp. black pepper
  • 1/8 tsp. onion powder
  • 6 oz. French fried onions

Preparation

One day prior to your holiday dinner, wash, trim and parboil 1 pound of fresh green beans. Refrigerate overnight.

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Approximately 3 1/2 hours before serving time, mix cream of mushroom soup, milk, pepper and onion powder in medium-sized bowl. Gently stir in green beans and 1/2 of the French fried onions. Transfer green bean mixture into the empty side slow cooker lined compartment. After turkey and sweet potatoes are also in the slow cooker, cook on low for 3 hours.


Loading Slow Cooker: Green Bean Casserole

Loading Slow Cooker: Green Bean Casserole

Ready to Cover and Start Slow Cooker

Ready to Cover and Start Slow Cooker

About 10 minutes before serving, place remaining 3 oz. of French fried onions in small skillet. On medium heat, stir onions until brown. Just before serving, sprinkle browned French fried onions on top of green bean casserole.


Just 3 Hours and All is Ready!

Just 3 Hours and All is Ready!

Cranberry Sauce

Since I forgot my go to cranberry sauce recipe at home, I did an internet search and found Best Ever Cranberry Sauce. I made a few modifications and will definitely make this again in future years. (My husband, who typically dislikes any cranberry sauce, even liked this one!)

Ingredients

  • 3/4 cup sugar
  • 1/2 cup orange juice
  • 1/2 cup water
  • 12 oz package of fresh cranberries
  • 1/4 tsp. cinnamon
  • 1 piece of orange peel

Preparation

Rinse and carefully pick through whole cranberries to remove any stems. Combine sugar, orange juice and water in a saucepan. Cook over medium heat stirring constantly until combined. Add cranberries, cinnamon and piece of orange peel. Simmer over medium heat for 10 minutes, stirring frequently. (Most of the cranberries will pop - it's ok if some are still whole!) Cool for about 30 minutes before transferring to a serving dish and refrigerating overnight.

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Stuffing

There's no stuffing that's easier than purchasing a box of stuffing mix and preparing it according to the package directions. Just plan to start preparing your stuffing so that it is ready just before meal time!

Rolls

All that's necessary for warming rolls is to wrap them in foil and heat them in the oven for 10 - 15 minutes.


Rolls, Stuffing Mix and Cranberry Sauce

Rolls, Stuffing Mix and Cranberry Sauce

Dessert

As mentioned previously, I baked both a pumpkin and a pecan pie. Since we had more dessert than we needed for just the two of us, we started on the pies early in the week! My recommendation is to choose your favorite holiday pie or other dessert and, if possible, prepare it the evening before. You could even buy an already prepared pie! If you are looking for some great recipes, here's two of our favorites:

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Dinner is Served!

Your holiday meal presentation can, of course, be as fancy as you'd like. Since it was just the two of us, we chose the casual route - serve yourself right out of the dishes that we prepared everything in!


Dinner is Served

Dinner is Served

Wow - That's One Full Paper Plate!

Wow - That's One Full Paper Plate!

Shopping List

In addition to the ingredients needed for your dessert(s), here's a list of everything that you need for the remaining six menu items:

Canned & Boxed Goods

  • 1 can chicken broth
  • 10.5 oz. cream of mushroom soup
  • Stuffing mix (+ any ingredients required for preparation)

Spices & Baking

  • dash salt
  • 1/8 tsp black pepper
  • 1/8 tsp onion powder
  • 1/4 tsp. cinnamon
  • 6 oz. French Fried Onions
  • 1/4 cup flour
  • 1 1/2 cup sugar
  • 1/2 cup brown sugar
  • 1 tsp. vanilla
  • 1/2 cup chopped pecans

Bread

  • Rolls

Meats

  • Fully-cooked turkey breast

Refrigerated

  • 3/4 cup milk
  • 1/2 cup orange juice
  • 1 egg
  • 5 tbsp. butter or margarine

Produce

  • 1 pound fresh green beans
  • 12 oz fresh cranberries
  • 1 orange
  • Approx. 3 medium sized sweet potatoes (to yield 2 cups mashed)

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Entrees for RVers

Looking for entree ideas for an upcoming RV trip? Check out "Enjoy Excellent Easy Entrees Perfect for RV Dinners" for 10 of our favorites from one of our recent RV journeys. In addition to a couple of slow cooker recipes, you'll find inspiration for entrees prepared in a panini press, InstaPot and your oven. Best of all, these 10 recipes are quick, easy and tasty!

Holiday Meal Recommendations

What recommendations would you make to fellow campers who are on the go but still want to enjoy a holiday meal?





How to Prepare a Stress-Free Holiday Dinner in Your RV







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