Category Archives: Recipes

A little recipe challenge.

I’ve seen a recipe for a “one pot pasta” dish that seems to have everyone excited. I’ve seen it recently but it appears Martha Stewart published it first in her magazine quite a while ago. But hey, better late than never! I found the recipe here on Food52.com.

I shared the link to the recipe on Facebook and had several people comment that they wanted me to let them know how it turned out. They had seen the recipe before but were too chicken to give it a whirl. Although one friend had tried it, said it was “pretty darn good”. And she’s a food blogger!!

Living in a teeny weenie camper… I would be dumb not to try it.

So here is my review.

The directions tell you to make this dish in a flat sided pot. I happen to have one of those – so far so good. However, they tell you to lay the linguine flat in the pan. My pot is just slightly smaller than the noodles so I had to break them in half. I really hated doing this but….

The other awkward thing about the recipe it that it calls for 12 oz of pasta. But my box of pasta was 16 oz. So I cooked the whole box anyway and added a bit more water. More on that later.

The rest of the recipe is pretty self-explanatory. I added about 1/2 cup extra water to compensate for the extra pasta as well as extra tomatoes and basil. I knew from the beginning that there was no way this would cook in 9 minutes, as claimed, on my camper propane stovetop. I didn’t time it but it wasn’t too much longer once the water started to boil. You are supposed to toss the pasta and other ingredients as it cooks but this was a bit difficult since my pot was already so full.

Here is my finished product. I does make it’s own “sauce” but I think mine is a bit too much because I may have added too much extra water. (At least compared to the picture posted with the original recipe.)

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Overall it was a winner, although we all agreed it could use some kind of meat. Some garlic shrimp tossed in would make this spectacular. (But now you’re dealing with 2 pots…) Next time I’ll probably make it in my stock pot which is the closest thing I have that will give me enough room to comfortably toss the dish as it cooks. I’ve also read there are several other one pot pasta and sauce suggestions posted somewhere. I’m going to look for that! Because a one pot recipe is a winner in this camper!

Orange Blossoms are My New Favorite!

We made it to Arizona! My best friend, Christy from grad school, lives here and has graciously allowed us to park on her property for the month of March. It was a little dicey getting backed it. The conversations leading up to our arrival had our eyes swimming with sugarplums. “HUGE concrete pad”, ” fully gated yard where Indy can run with our dogs too”, “12 foot wide fence to back in through” and “clear, nothing hanging overhead”.

PERFECTION!

But that’s also from the perspective of someone who has never been in nor dirven a 5th wheel.

Michael is the world’s best driver and backer, if I do say so. I may be biased, but it’s the truth. He threaded this beast under the tree, through the fence and onto the concrete pad without hitting the metal clothes line that was perched at the end of the concrete pad. (It has since been removed. Apparently it was the plan all along.) All while being under the stress of holding up traffic on a busy, major street. This man is a cool customer under pressure!

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But once we were in it was exactly as described, on a concrete pad, within the fence so Indy could run free, clear overhead. They have a tangelo and lemon tree in their yard. We got here just as the citrus blossoms are releasing the most intoxicating fragrance I have ever experienced! Pure bliss!

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Christy and Ellen’s (her partner) lemon tree is still a baby and not yet producing fruit. But their neighbor brings them lemons off of her tree. Here is the latest gift from next door.

Orange, lemon, grapefruit…. they are EVERYWHERE! I actually LOVE running here solely because of the sweet smells wafting through the wind as we run. Even through busy streets! I can’t begin to describe it. I don’t have the words. Just come to Phoenix in March. You won’t be disappointed!

There are many reasons I’m excited to be staying at Christy and Ellen’s. First and foremost, I actually get to see my best friend of 16 years for a while! Not just a quick yearly weekend visit or so that we’ve managed for the past 12+ years. I also get to spend time with Ellen and get to know her more. I’m of the mind that you should really get to know your best friends’ significant other. Or at least be friends with them. It’s so much more fun to all hang out together and share experiences.

I was also excited that Indy would have the opportunity to run free in a fenced-in yard. However that has not turned out as expected. Christy and Ellen have three little dogs and a Greyhound. They also have an apartment on their property they rent out and the renters have two little multi-poos. The first day we arrived we let all the dogs out together and Oliver, an old, deaf small poodle mix (I think) went all ankle-biter on Indy. Indy did not like it. As a matter of fact he was terrified and traumatized by the experience.

My 80 pound Great Dane/ hound mix will no longer go outside the camper unless we put his harness on him and take him for a walk. Outside the fence. If he has to go bad enough I’ll open the door and he’ll stand there, look out to see if he sees any ankle biters. Only if he feels the coast is clear will he come out on his own. Sissy.

Another plus to staying here is the use of a full-sized kitchen!!! It’s funny how you get used to what you’ve got. I made dinner for us and one of their friends the other night.They have a big kitchen and I almost got overwhelmed! Funny, isn’t it, that I’m now so used to a teeny tiny space, that running around their vast kitchen was almost too much. It also doesn’t help when you cook in an unfamiliar place. But I think I pulled it off alright.

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We had Orange and Fennel Salad and then I grilled simple kabobs and served them over Black Bean and Wild Rice Salad. However, I made it with black rice instead of wild rice. And for dessert, Grilled Pineapple with Honey-Cinnamon Glaze. I used honey from a family friend who raises bees in South Carolina. I think dinner went over pretty well!

And the final reason I love it here…. did I mention the orange blossoms???

Monument Lake Campground

Y’all, I’ve been trying to post this for a few days now but my pictures weren’t loading… I persevered and conquered!!

We headed out to Midway Campground in the Big Cypress National Preserve to camp a week until a campsite back at Jonathan Dickinson became available again. It’s a small federal campground nestled in the southern part of the preserve, right along the Everglades National Park. This is alligator territory, folks!

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The campground is small, sites ringing a small pond about a quarter mile around. They have electric hook ups at the RV sites but NO WATER. You can fill up with potable water at their expense. But also no shower facilities….

Unfortunately, after one night, we realized we couldn’t stay our full week. 1) we could only walk Indy around the pond. Domestic animals are not allowed on trails in any nearby areas due to…. wildlife. Alligators, panthers, etc. Apparently the dogs’ scents are not welcome in the area. 2) No cell service.

I don’t mean to sound poshy. (As if living in an RV is hoity toity…) But we’re running a business folks. We need access to cell service for our hotspot to work so we can work on our computers. And make business calls.

So the next morning we headed just 8 miles down the road to Monument Lake campground, another federal property. Apparently it’s where the cell tower is located!! It’s also a small campground with sites surrounding a pond – but at least twice as big as Midway. It was a bit over a half of a mile loop so we didn’t get quite as bored walking and running it. (Although you should have seen the looks we would get when we ran! People could not help themselves from commenting on how many laps they’d seen us go ’round. Hey, 4-6 laps is our workout!)

The only note about this park – it’s only dry camping. But if your rig can swing it it’s worth it! Quiet, beautiful scenery and wildlife. And the camp hosts were great! We checked in and they gave us a heads up on the seafood fest going on in Everglades City, 20 miles down the road. It was a great choice!!!

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One day Mike and I headed out to bike a bit so we could get the closeup photos of the alligators. It’s unbelievable! They were everywhere in the canal. Rest assured, they were all on the opposite side of the canal.

HISTORY NOTE: We were biking on Rt.41, also known as the Tamiami Trail, originally built in the 1920’s to connect Tampa and Miami. All along the two lane road there is a narrow canal. More research revealed the canal was dug to provide fill dirt for the road. 

While out riding we stopped for a short hike at the Kirby Sorter boardwalk and were able to capture some beautiful pictures.

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You can click on any of the images to enlarge. I’m bummed my panoramic doesn’t look better in the blog. It looks much better in a picture viewer!!

But the most unique aspect of this campground was the need to hold Indy close each time we opened the door to take him out to check for alligators. Yes folks, all campsites are on the lake (let’s get real. It’s really a pond.) And there are alligators in it. At least two that we could tell. One seemed to keep at the other end but one seemed to like the edge at our campsite. S/he never came up on the ground (as far as we know) but we could see s/he resting on the rocks or in the weeds on the waters’ edge most of the time we were there.

We probably wouldn’t have noticed it at all if it hadn’t been for Mike. One of the first afternoons we were there he had hung the hammock on the camper. While relaxing he watched the gator swim all the way down the length of the pond, towards him, and set up shop right in front of him. Front that moment on we kept a pretty close eye on our canine “gator bait” (and ourselves)!!

Definitely a campsite we’d recommend!!

Favorite Food Blogs… so far

I’ve mentioned that cooking in a camper can be, ahem, challenging. The burners are small, even though I have three of them. They sit in a triangle shape with the front burner being so close to the edge that not only does it only get part of the bottom of my pan but I have to make sure I don’t catch myself on fire! But of course, the burners are too far apart to try and sit a pot squarely in the middle of them or just between two of them. Clearly people who design camper stoves are not real cooks. Just an observation.

I will say our new (to us) camper has a slightly taller oven. By maybe 4 inches. Don’t knock it. Camper ovens are like men’s pensises – every inch counts.

Although I love cooking with gas over electric there are still these small hurdles to get over. I’ve decided to forego the 5-star meals and just concentrate on getting food on the table. And since I don’t have a lot of space to store a bunch of exoctic ingredients like I’m used to the double upside to this arrangement is relatively inexpensive recipes!

So, what’s important for me in a food blog?

  • Pictures. I prefer them but they are a must when asking Mike to pick something. He is not capable of listening to a list of ingredients and letting me know if it interests him or not. Which I suspect is true for a lot of people – they can’t comprehend ingredients. Just a finished image. Hey, whatever works for you!
  • Simple ingredients and preparation. Don’t get me wrong, I LOVE to really cook and get in there and try and do chef-y things. But right now I have found that I cannot do that in a camper. (My paella pan and dutch oven do not fit into the oven. That’s a problem.) And I only have so much room to store ingredients so I’d better use them pretty regularly.
  • Healthy food. This is last on the list because, well, it just is. This used to be at the top of my list before I met Mike…. But I have found there was a constant struggle between the two of us revolving around “what tastes good” and “what’s healthy”. He’s a meat and potatoes kind of guy. With a side of gravy. I’m not. So we try and agree to meet somewhere in the middle. We’re getting there….

I’ve always been a fan of Let’s Dish. Full disclosure – I know Danelle personally. I went to grad school with her hubby eons ago. Danelle and Glen have three boys. THREE! She cooks for FOUR men! Ok, so the youngest isn’t a man yet and the middle one is in pre-man stage. But aren’t growing boys notorious for eating a family into debt? But don’t take my word for the awesomeness of her recipes and her easy-to-use blog. She’s a professional food blogger. And photographer. She shows images of each dish. LOVE IT! Her food is uptown foodie meets real life,” which is a perfect description. I made Mike the Brown Sugar & Balsamic Glazed Pork Loin (which is sooo simple) for his birthday when we first started dating. I’m pretty sure it’s what sealed the deal to our long-term relationship. *wink*wink*

The newest blog I’ve found is Budget Bytes. Honestly, I can’t remember where I came across Beth’s blog. But I love it. Her focus is providing great recipes on a budget. (Duh) She too posts an image of each recipe. I love how you can search a type of food and you get thumbnails to browse through. This is a great feature for Mike!! I’m especially in love with her Spinach Rice Breakfast Bowls! She’s right, they look weird but are fantastic! They are SO filling!!!

I’ve been leaning on these two blogs mostly but have also grabbed a recipe or two from Erin at Well Plated. I need more time to go through her healthy offerings. But I can say her Cranberry St. Germain Cocktail went over fabulously at Thanksgiving!

I will add more as I find them but these are the top of the list!!!

Bon Apetit!

The Art of Camper Cooking

We headed to the Florida panhandle a few days ago. To Big Lagoon State Park, to be exact. So far it’s turned out to be a great little park in what’s technically Pensacola. But not really. I think if we wanted to drive into “town” it would take us over 30 minutes.

I will admit there have been many “touch and goes” in different categories since we’ve started out. Triathlon training has proven difficult but we’ve started to find our way. We did our first open water swim in wetsuits in Louisiana and then hit up a YMCA pool, taking advantage of the AWAY program, in Mobile, Alabama on our way to Florida. While here in the FL park we’ve run and done a brick workout! (bike ride, transitioning straight into a run). I kinda feel like we’re starting to hit our groove!

Feeding ourselves has also been, I hesitate to say “sore spot”. Oh we’ve fed ourselves alright. But with boring sandwiches. Michael has recently started hitting the griddle for breakfast!

EVERY MORNING!

While I love this special treatment, we cannot go on like this on a regular basis for two reasons.

  1. Regardless of relentless camper venting techniques, it smells like grandmas greasy house.
  2. Our waistlines and arteries cannot withstand the onslaught of eggs and potatoes fried in sausage grease. (although I’ve been requesting bacon for a while now with no luck. I’m going to complain to the head of the kitchen.)

What I haven’t explicitly acknowledged here is that Mike has commandeered breakfast while I’m in charge of dinner. Lunch is assumed to be leftovers or whatever we can scrounge.  We started planning meals a week out so we’re not trying to run to the grocery store several times a week. I was convinced a weeks worth of groceries wouldn’t fit in our tiny fridge. Mike proved me wrong.

This week we went to Winn Dixie down the road. I think we bought them out of food. Or at least produce. I’m sure it was the highest bill ever for two people. That’s obviously something we need to work on… but we’ll get there. We haven’t eaten out in I don’t know how long, so we’re still spending less overall in the “Food” department. But I’m also cooking dinner recipes IN A CAMPER from Gourmet magazine. SO THERE!!! Small dog sticking out its tongue to the camera

Tandoori Shrimp with Mango Salad

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Chilaquiles with Fried Eggs

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Roasted Beer and Lime Cauliflower Tacos with Cilantro Coleslaw

Ok, I’m making this for dinner tomorrow, so there is no picture yet… stay tuned!!!

I did “whip up” some homemade Tzatziki at lunch today… and I may have added a little too much garlic…. which is saying a lot because I LOVE GHAAALIC!!!! I really couldn’t tell you a recipe where there could possibly be too much garlic. Except maybe this batch of tzatziki. Mike and I have been garlic dragons all day, breathing out the green and yellow flames that are garlic fumes. RAW GARLIC fumes. And then we went on a run. And continued huffing and puffing the exhaust of demons.

But better both of us than one of us, I guess….  Can’t wait until sleepy time tonight. hardy har….

As I’m writing this Michael is outside lighting the grill that dad got us so he can grill us up some ribs! And to balance out that healthy meat I’m going to saute us up some spinach and, you guessed it! GARLIC!!

If you don’t hear from me again you know we died of garlic overdose….