Cooking in the Camper with JK

Making delicious smoked salmon campsite pizza in a Coleman Camp Oven, and totally melting the stovetop at the same time!

Love at first bite!

Here is a simple and easy way to make fresh pizza at your campsite.

After watching a bunch of YouTube videos about the Coleman Camping Oven, we had to get one.

Our first ever try at making anything in the Coleman oven was on our West Coast trip when camped at the Fort Stevens State Park campgrounds.

I had purchased a delicious looking Asiago cheese focaccia at the Panera Bread in Missoula, Montana. I planned to use this round, flat loaf as the base for a campsite pizza baked in the new Coleman Camp Oven.

Ingredients are gathered for the pizza creation.

A stop at the Warrenton, Oregon Fred Myer store yielded some great fresh ingredients for this pizza. I picked-up local smoked wild salmon, a jar of gourmet olives and roasted peppers, some fresh mozzarella, a jar of pesto, fresh sweet baby tomatoes and a bag of Spring mix baby lettuces.

When in the PNW, smoked salmon is a key ingredient.

I cut the loaf across in half to get two thinner rounds. Placing the rounds cut side up, I drizzled the focaccia with extra virgin olive oil (EVOO) and spread a healthy layer of pesto on the bread. I topped this layer with sliced fresh mozzarella, the tomatoes which I cut in half, and the olives and peppers. The salmon and Spring mix lettuce would go on after the pizza came out of the oven.

Assembled pizzas ready for the oven.

I sat the assembled Coleman Camp Oven on top of the Coleman stove and placed a 9-inch round pizza stone on the bottom grate. I lit the burner and closed the oven door to let the oven to come up to about 350-degrees.

I popped in the pizzas and quickly closed the oven door to try and keep the oven temperature at the 350-degree mark. The pizza’s cooked for about 10 minutes, or until the cheese was melting and the other ingredients hot.

JK rotates positions of the pizzas.

I checked the pizzas a couple of times and switched the top one with the bottom pizza to make sure the crusts were not burning on the bottom. If you use homemade or poppin’ fresh-style pizza dough the baking times might be a little longer.

Smoked salmon and Spring mix are added with a drizzle of EVOO.

Once out of the oven, I added the smoked salmon and topped with the Spring mix. Then I gave the toppings another drizzle of olive oil and a grind of salt and black pepper. I cut each pizza into four wedges, and it was time to eat.

Cut the pizza into four wedges.

We were totally pleased with the pizza and especially the fresh wild smoked salmon. Very decadent and a typical ingredient for the Pacific Northwest.

Ready to enjoy!

Here’s where the melt down happened.

I had used the grill side of our brand-new Coleman stove, since it was the correct size to sit the Coleman Camp Oven on top of.

I placed the pizza stone on the lower rack to try and solve the typical burnt bottom problems other camper YouTubers had complained about. I used a pizza stone in our oven at home and figured it would work the same in the camp oven.

The pizzas turned out marvelously and Kim and I were pretty happy with our newest piece of camping equipment.

That is until we lifted the oven off the Coleman stove to find the grill of the stove had totally melted!!

WTH!!!???!!! Total stove top melt down!

We must have stared at the molten blob of what used to be a brand-new grill with our mouths gapped wide open for a minute in disbelief. What the…?

Of course, we read the instructions after the fact and Coleman says NOT to use the oven on top of the aluminum stove grill. Who makes grill grate out of aluminum in the first place? Coleman does, apparently. I guess the grill is not made to take high temperatures.

All Kim and I can figure is the heat under the oven got super-hot which caused the melt down.

The pizza stone on the lower grate could have trapped the heat in the bottom of the oven and resulted in extreme heat conditions.

After toasting the brand-new camp stove and deeming it unusable, we bought a large, traditional two-burner camp stove to take its place.

We will continue to carry and use the Coleman Camp Oven, but we will place the pizza stone in the middle rack area of the oven and sit whatever we are baking on top of that.

We haven’t tried this yet, since we were still in shock the entire remainder of our trip! That was one expensive pizza! lol!

Truth be told, we didn’t set up camp during the rest of the trip. Because of the hot weather blanketing the nation that second week in July, we warmed meals on the single burner stove inside the van as we zoomed back home to beat the heatwave.

Yummy Peach Dump Cake

Who doesn’t love a fast and easy cake recipe that can be made at home and in the camper oven?

This recipe is my spin on the dump cake but with a few JK tweaks and a few less calories. I’ve done away with the fat from the melted butter usually associated with this recipe.

I’ve never been a fan of areas of dry cake mix that doesn’t get enough melted butter to saturate it. My method my dirty an extra bowl and utensil, but I premix my batter to give the cake a better consistency.

The oil and the two additional eggs that the box cake recipe calls for are gone, too. I add just a single egg and use apple sauce as a substitute for the oil. I also exchange the lower calorie juice off the canned peaches instead of water to kick up the peachy goodness. Saigon cinnamon adds a punch of spicy flavor.

Feel free to substitute any canned fruit for the peaches. Just be sure to have enough juice for the cake batter. This would also be a great recipe to bake in your Dutch oven over the campfire. I’ll have to give that a try this summer!

Let’s get cooking!

Here’s what you need:

A 9 x 9-inch glass or aluminum pan

Mixing bowl

Measuring cup



Homestyle vanilla ice cream


1 box yellow cake mix

2 cans sliced peaches in light syrup

1 large egg

1 – 4 oz. container of apple sauce

1 tsp. Saigon cinnamon


Preheat oven to 350° F

Drain the juice from the canned peaches and set aside. You should get about a cup of juice. Add peaches to the baking pan. Sprinkle some of the cinnamon over the peaches. In the mixing bowl add cake mix, reserved peach juice, egg, apple sauce, and remaining cinnamon. Whisk until well blended. Pour batter over the peaches.

Bake at 350° F for about 1 hour or until the cake is done in the center and the peaches bubbly. Camper ovens can vary greatly. You may have to experiment with times and temperatures to dial in the perfect combo for your rig.

Let cool slightly, then scoop into bowls and top with vanilla ice cream and enjoy by the campfire! If there are any leftovers, the cake can be stored in the refrigerator. You can reheat in the microwave, but if you can wait, cover pan with foil and rewarm in the oven for best results.

Serves: 1 -to- 9 campers

Although our Thor Vegas 24.1 small Class A motorhome is still in winter storage, retired professional chef JK whips up an easy NY cheesecake for Valentine’s Day dessert at home.

Philadelphia Classic Cheesecake Recipe

Made from scratch cheesecake isn’t as hard as you think

Prep Time: about 20 minutes. Total time: about 5.5 hours

Makes 16 servings

Preheat oven to 325º F

Items needed: 9-inch springform pan, stand or electric hand mixer, zester, aluminum foil, deep side roaster pan


1-1/2 cups graham cracker crumbs (I used chocolate graham cracker crumbs)

3 Tbsp. sugar

1/3 cup butter, melted

4 – 8 oz. packages of Neufchatel low fat cream cheese, softened to room temperature

1 cup granulated sugar

1 tsp. pure vanilla extract

4 large eggs, room temperature

1 tsp. grated fresh lemon zest (optional)


Extra crumb crust is used as a garnish round the cheesecake top.

Cover the bottom of the springform pan with a couple sheets of aluminum foil and seal the bottom tightly to prevent any water seeping into the pan during baking.

In a small bowl, combine graham crumbs with the melted butter until the crumbs are well coated with the butter. Press into a 9-inch springform pan. Place in freezer to chill and harden butter.

Beat the cream cheese, sugar, vanilla, and lemon zest with mixer until blended and smooth. Add eggs, one at a time, mixing on low speed after each until all are incorporated and the batter is just blended.

Remove crust from freezer and gently fill with the batter.

Place the filled springform pan in the center of pan then place the roaster pan on the middle shelf of the preheated oven. Slowly and carefully fill roaster pan with boiling water until water level reaches about halfway up the springform pan side.

Bake for about 55 minutes, checking at the 40-minute mark, until center of the cheesecake is almost set. Carefully remove cake from oven and set on baking rake to drain any water and to cool slightly. Pull back the foil and loosen the cake from the pan rim.

Cool before removing rim. Place cheesecake in the refrigerator to completely chill and set for at least 4 hours.

Slice and serve with toppings, such as chocolate sauce, caramel sauce, or fresh berries.

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