5 Recipes for a Virtual American Road Trip

Craving a vacation? Travel through food with this weekly meal plan, featuring awesome regional specialties like crab cakes, South Carolina BBQ and Cincinnati Chili for a road trip adventure without leaving your hometown. No reservations needed!

This month, welcome Sara Bir. Sara Bir is the author of two cookbooks, Tasting Ohio and the IACP award-winning The Fruit Forager’s Companion. She also moderates and replies to your comments here on Simply Recipes. Follow her @sausagetarian.

Like a lot of you, I had inklings early in the year for trips we didn’t plan or take: Visiting friends in Arizona. A food festival in North Carolina. Or heck, a voyage to the local public pool.

Not to worry, I have your back! The Simply Recipes archives are packed with fun regional recipes from all corners of the U.S. Queue up your driving playlist and join us as we cruise via food from Maryland (crab cakes) to South Carolina (chicken with mustard BBQ sauce), to Miami (Cuban sandwiches) to Texas (chilaquiles), and then hang a sharp turn north to the Ohio River Valley for a totally unique chili (Cincinnati chili).

You may be familiar with some of these; others might be totally new to you. Whatever the case, we hope one of these dinners will join your household’s regular rotation and that you’ll be able to enjoy it someday straight from the source.

One last thing: Looking for dinner ideas? You’re in the right spot! We have delicious meal plans to suit every taste and lifestyle—Healthy Eating, Family Favorites, and Vegetarian just to name a few. These one-month plans are $6.95 and, with them, you get a dessert and weekend prep recipe and a shopping list. They’re beautifully designed and perfect to print and save or simply load and cook right from your computer!

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Maryland Crabcakes wtih greens and lemon wedges on a white plate wtih mayo

Let’s hit up the Chesapeake Bay for Maryland’s signature dish, flavored with a little of its signature seasoning: Old Bay. Cleaned crabmeat is sold cooked and refrigerated, so it’s ready to go! Use blue crab for authenticity, but any crab meat (except imitation crab, which is made from fish) should do. Shape the cakes up to 2 days ahead; you can freeze the cakes cooked or uncooked, too! Serve them with a simple green salad, and you’re all set.

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Grilled BBQ Chicken

German immigrants began arriving in South Carolina two and a half decades ago. They eventually created their own take on barbecue sauce, featuring a heavy dose their beloved German mustard. Nowadays it’s yellow American mustard you’ll see in this piquant and sunny sauce, which is slathered all over grilled chicken. Not a fan of mustard? Take a detour to Kansas City and use a recipe for that city’s sweeter, tomato-based sauce instead, using the same grilling technique. Serve coleslaw on the side, with cornbread or potato salad.

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Cinncinnatti Chili

Cincinnati is thriving and dynamic, and perhaps cooler now than it’s ever been. Its signature dish is called chili, yes, but think of it as an exotically spiced Bolognese sauce (cinnamon, allspice, cloves). Serve it over spaghetti, hot dogs, or on its own. There’s no browning; just dump everything in the pot, stir, and cook! You’re best making this one in advance because it needs to simmer for at least an hour (plus it's always better the next day). Leftovers freeze great for that return trip to the Queen City.

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A grilled cuban sandwich is stacked on top of each other with shredded pork, mustard, cheese and pickles visible. Pickle spears and ridged potato chips are to the right of the sandwich.

Our own Marta Rivera offers the ultimate make-at-home Cuban sandwich, with insights about Miami-style versus Tampa-style. It’s a topic that ignites passions! You might not have access to the most authentic ingredients, but press on, make do, and savor your creation. Marta offers tips on everything, from an ad-hoc panini press to the best kind of deli ham, so you’re in good hands! The roast pork you’ll need make from scratch the day before, but it’s simple.

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Chilaquiles Rojos

Variations of this fiery Mexican breakfast comfort food are all over the Southwest. This recipe takes flash-fried corn tortillas and simmers them in either a red chili sauce or salsa verde until they’re the most wonderful pile of comfort food you’ll ever see. Don’t want to make your own salsa from scratch? Buy a big jar of decent salsa verde and use that instead—we won’t judge! Serve with cheese and refried beans.

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Sara Bir

Sara Bir a graduate of The Culinary Institute of America and the author of two cookbooks: The Fruit Forager’s Companion and Tasting Ohio. Past gigs include leading chocolate factory tours, slinging street cart sausages, and writing pop music criticism. Sara skates with her local roller derby team as Carrion the Librarian.

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One Comment

No Image5 Recipes for a Virtual American Road Trip

  1. Eileen Sexton

    Yum! Can’t wait to try the grilled chicken.