Spencer’s Campfire Fajitas

Hello again camping friends today we bring you another easy to make, easy to pack, recipe with a meatless option for our vegetarian readers out there. Last time we made Kimberly’s campfire chili and we came up with a vegetarian alternative which seemed to go over very well with our readers. Now, with such a positive result, we have decided to take on the challenge to create a vegetarian alternative to all of our dishes. With that said lets jump right into the recipe starting with our favorite food topic, cheese.

The Big Cheese!

As stated in another post Kimberly was a vegetarian for much of her life but Spencer was the farthest from. Even though he knew what it meant to be a vegetarian he really didn’t realize just how in depth being a vegetarian was.

Cheeses made with animal rennet, for one thing, didn’t even cross Spencer’s mind until he began doing a little research on the matter. The cheese itself is fine but the way it is produced is the key to if the cheese is vegetarian or not. The research presented an interesting obstacle but it was ultimately not an issue. With Spencer’s culinary background, and Kimberly’s experience, coming up with a Cotija alternative was no trouble at all. Now, If you have a favorite brand of cheese, or if you are ok with the cotija, then by all means use that. Additionally if you can’t find cojita, which will probably be the case, then feta is a good substitute as well.

In the spirit of the dish we decided to make our own cheese and although it may be a bit softer, we think it really does the trick here. Often called farmers cheese, or queso blanco cheese in Latin America, it is very easy to make, and it is 100% vegetarian. Instead of reinventing the wheel we will leave the cheese making instruction up to our good friends at the New England Cheese Making supply Co. A quick note here, you will want to make this ahead of time, about a day or so, to allow as much moisture to drain off as possible, just for texture purposes.

Queso Blanco Cheese Making Recipe by New England Cheese Making Supply Co.

The salsa!

Now with that out of the way let’s talk about the salsa which we will also be making ahead of time. Spencer put together a mango salsa for this dish, he typically saves the mango type salsas for fish but since we are camping on the lake he said that it felt right.

In our first picture we have a lovely assortment of fruits and vegetables. The first thing you want to do is husk, and char the corn, if possible. Why Char the Corn? Charring the corn first will add a bit of extra flavor to your cocktail, the dry heat will start to caramelize the kernels increasing the intensity of the natural sugars and adding a hint of smokey flavor to your vegetable. When you are finished, and the corn has cooled, remove the kernels from the cob and place them in a bowl. This should be about a half cup of corn but it doesn’t need to be exact. That’s one of the great things about salsa you can mix, match, and just really play with the ingredients without messing it up. Try apples instead of mango, spice it up with a jalapeno, add some avocado, the sky is the limit.

Anyway, next add equal amounts, about half a cup, of tomato, red onion, tomatillos, and mango to the bowl. Now add the juice of 1 lime, two minced garlic cloves, and two tablespoons of freshly minced cilantro. Finally add the salt, pepper, and cumin and give the bowl a good mix. That’s it, now set it in the refrigerator, in a resealable container, and let the flavors “marry” as Kimberly puts it.

Salsa Ingredients:

  • 1/2 Cup Tomatoes (Diced)
  • 1/2 Cup Tomatillos (Diced)
  • 1/2 Cup Red Onion (Diced)
  • 1/2 Cup Mango (Diced)
  • 1/2 Cup Corn
  • 1/4 Cup Lime Juice

  • 2 cloves Garlic (Minced)
  • 2 Tbsp Cilantro (Minced)
  • 1/2 tsp Cumin
  • 1/2 tsp Salt
  • 1/4 tsp Black Pepper

The filling!

Prepping the Meat/Vegetarian options

Meat OptionMeatless (Vegetarian) Option
1 lb Boneless/Skinless Chicken Breast1/2 lb large Portabella Mushroom Caps
  • 2 limes (Juiced)
  • 1/2 tsp Salt
  • 2 Tbsp Cilantro (Chopped)
  • 2 cloves Garlic (Chopped)
  • 2 Tbsp Olive oil

We are not going to do this next step with the mushroom caps so if you choose the vegetarian option then just skip this paragraph. First I like to trim the chicken, if you are using chicken, at home since I always save the scraps in a freezer bag to use for chicken broth later on. I then like to slice the thickness of the chicken breast in half to help save on cooking time.

Now take your chicken breast, or Mushroom caps, and place them in a resealable container with the lime juice, salt, cilantro, garlic, and olive oil. Seal it up, give everything a good shake, and place in your refrigerator/cooler.

Prepping the Vegetables

  • 1 Red Bell Pepper
  • 1 Green Bell Pepper
  • 1 large Red Onion

A quick note here about the picture. Kimberly doesn’t care for the green bell peppers or red onions so to make her taste buds happy we included two poblano peppers and a sweet onion as a substitution for the chicken fajitas. From here what you will want to do is slice your vegetables into thin slices. These can be prepared ahead of time but if you do we suggest coating the vegetables in lime juice and placing the sliced vegetables in a refrigerated resealable container. Additionally you could just bring the veggies with you whole since it will help save room in the cooler.

The seasoning

  • 1 Tbsp Corn Starch
  • 2 tsp Chili Powder
  • 1 tsp Paprika
  • 1 tsp Salt
  • 1/2 tsp Cumin
  • 1/2 tsp Garlic
  • 1/4 tsp Cayenne

Finally the seasoning, you will want to mix these spices, and bring them with you, in a little spice container to help conserve space. We also thought about adding these spices to the chicken/mushroom marinade but the starch would make a sticky mess out of things during the cooking process.

Time to Cook!

Ok, now we got our prep out of the way lets get our fire going. As always start small, try not to use accelerants, and build your fire up until you have at least two small logs almost completely turned to red coal. If you are having trouble getting your fire going a trick you could use is cooking oil, and a paper towel. Crisco works best but liquid cooking oil will work too. All you do is place a little in the paper towel, roll it up to a ball, and light it. That should give you what you need to get your fire going when the ground is damp. Ultimately you want heat but little flame while cooking, also its a good idea, since this fire will probably be hotter than what you are used to cooking on, to leave a small space off to one side where the heat isn’t so intense. Remember, anything you place in your fire will transfer to what you are cooking so it is important to not throw trash into the fire and why we try to stay way from petroleum based accelerants.

Now that we have our fire going put the grate on, let it heat up, and place your chicken/mushroom caps on the grate. If you are using the mushroom caps it is important to remember that we are going to place them top side down just long enough to get grill marks on them. Two to Three minutes at most, we want them to start sweating to lose some of their water but we don’t want them to shrivel up on us when we move them to the cutting board to cool. The chicken we will want to cook thoroughly 4 to 6 minutes per side, remove from grill and let them rest for 5 to 10 minutes on the cutting board.

While the Chicken/Mushroom caps are resting let’s pull out our frying pan and add a tablespoon of oil to it. We cure our cast iron pans after every use so we didn’t add oil, trying to be healthier, but in most cases this will be a necessary step. Now, we are going to place our frying pan on the grate and let it heat up for a few minutes before adding our sliced vegetables. While the pan is heating up we can take this opportunity to slice up our chicken breast/mushroom caps leaving them on the cutting board. The slices should be around 3/4″ thick give or take depending on your preference but we suggest slicing the mushrooms a little thicker than you are custom to. The mushrooms, remember, are mostly water and will shrink a bit more as we finish the dish.

Now, you will want to add your peppers and onions to the hot pan but be careful of a splatter. Now cook these vegetables for about two minutes before adding the sliced Chicken Breast/Mushroom caps and the seasoning that we mixed earlier. Continually stir the mixture for another 2 to 4 minutes until the vegetables are hot and slightly soft but still a bit crunchy. Additionally we like to throw the tortillas on the grate to warm them up but be careful since they will burn fast over this heat. In our picture we have two pans going, the pan on the right is the vegetarian mix, and the smaller pan on the left is the chicken.

Finally we are going to plate our creation. Set your tortillas up so that you can easily spoon some of the filling from the pan. Here we have one of each going with the vegetarian fajits on the right. Now add some of that mango salsa we prepared earlier and finally top with cheese and, if you’d like, garnish with some of that leftover cilantro. There you have it, Spencer’s campfire fajitas with our vegetarian alternative. We hope you enjoyed this recipe, and we would love to hear any questions or comments below. We will also place a complete grocery list at the bottom so you don’t have to keep jumping back and forth.

One last thought, you can do all of this using 2 medium resealable containers and a small spice bottle. Leftovers go back into the washed meat/Mushroom container, and the salsa can be doubled up for other meals. Until next time friends, thank you so much for reading, remember to always dance to the beat of your own drum, and as always…. happy camping.

-Kimberly and Spencer


Grocery List

Meat Option … OR Meatless (Vegetarian) Option
1 lb Boneless/Skinless Chicken Breast1/2 lb large Portabella Mushroom Caps

Produce

  • 2 Roma Tomatoes
  • 1 Red Bell Pepper
  • 1 Green Bell Pepper
  • 2 Tomatillos
  • 2 Red Onions
  • 1 Mango
  • 1 Ear Corn
  • 3 Limes
  • 1 Bunch Cilantro
  • Fresh Garlic

Misc

  • Olive oil
  • Corn Starch
  • Flour Tortillas
  • Cotija Cheese

Spices

  • Salt
  • Black Pepper
  • Cayenne (Red Pepper)
  • Chili Powder
  • Paprika
  • Cumin
  • Garlic Powder

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