The Thanksgiving and Winter holidays will be here in less than 4 months. Here is a homemade gift idea that you can prepare whether you are currently at home or RV’ing.
Having a simple affordable thoughtful gift that you can prepare with ease…is wonderful and truly appreciated by anyone that will be doing some baking.
The cost of pure vanilla extract has skyrocketed and making your own high quality pure vanilla extract is simple and fun.
It will take 4 – 6 months for the vanilla extract to fully develop into a full delightful flavor so… order up some vanilla beans and get you pure vanilla extract started soon.
I use grade A – Whole Madagascar Bourbon Vanilla beans, you can use a less expensive Grade B vanilla bean… but if I’m going to the effort of making a quality vanilla extract… I want Grade A.
This recipe has 2 ingredients and no cooking is required.
Feel free to double or tripe the recipe.
1 pint good quality vodka, rum, brandy or bourbon
6 vanilla beans
- Rinse vanilla beans, pat dry. Cut the ends of the beans and toss into a clean glass jar that has a lid that will seal well as you will rotate the vanilla in the jar at least once a week for 14 – 26 weeks.
- Cut the vanilla beans down the center using the side of a paring knife. Gently tease the bean pod open to expose the tiny vanilla beans. Scrape the beans from the vanilla bean with the side of the paring knife and transfer on the tip of the knife to a pint or larger size of vodka, rum, brandy or bourbon.
- Drop the split vanilla beans in next and seal the bottle.
- Gently turn the bottle over a few times then store in a dark pantry area.
- Continue to gently turn the bottles once a week as noted above.
- Vanilla should be ready in 4 – 6 months but gets even better up to a year.
- Strain the vanilla through a fine strainer or cheesecloth into a large measuring cup then pour into clean 4 oz. gift jars (4oz Ball jars). Label and date the jars.
Summertime is perfect for making Bruschetta. Enjoy these fresh ingredients as an appetizer or even as a light main meal. This is delicious and only requires a bit of prep work that can be easily done at the campsite.
Here is the combination of ingredients I put together to make this dish last night. I served this as an appetizer to a group of 8 people and have leftovers to enjoy later today.
Farmers markets, farm stands and grocery stores have vine ripe peaches and tomatoes and they are at their peak of freshness so I was determined to prepare this. Everyone loved the combination of ingredients and gave this recipe a WOW!
Serves 8 (Increase or decrease the ingredients for the amount of Bruschetta you decide to make)
5 tomatoes, vine ripened if available
3 peaches, fresh ripe or canned with water drained and discard
1/4 red onion, fine diced
14 fresh basil
4 garlic cloves, fine minced
1/2 – 2/3 cup Kalamata olives, medium diced
3 tbsp olive oil
1 1/2 tsp balsamic vinegar
salt and pepper to taste (go light on the salt)
1 loaf French or sourdough baguette, sliced 1/4″ slices (lightly butter and grill if you wish or serve untoasted
4 oz butter for drizzle over baguette slices prior to grilling
- Rinse produce and pat dry. Peel peaches, cut in half, discard seed then medium chop and add to a med/large bowl. Note: I find chopping is easier when using a flexible plastic cutting mat/board.
- Peel and chop onion, peel garlic, mince add to the bowl with peaches.
- Pat olives dry, rough chop and add to the bowl.
- Rinse tomatoes, remove stem and seeds then medium chop and add to the bowl.
- Rinse fresh basil leaves. Stack the leaves on top of each other starting with the largest leaf. Roll cigar-like into a tight bundle and cut finely (chiffonade) with a sharp knife then add to the bowl.
- Drizzle olive oil, balsamic vinegar and salt & pepper over the bruschetta and lightly toss the ingredients to combine.
- Slice baguette in 1/4″ slices. Lightly butter and grill (if you like) or serve as soft slices. Note: I prefer to lightly butter and grill the bread slices for since the bruschetta is moist.
- Serve with soft or lightly toasted baguette slices.
Peaches are marvelous right now so I bought a case at Costco and made a simply delicious peach cobbler I wanted to share with you.
This recipe can adapt to make other berry and fruit cobblers depending on what is available locally and fresh.
Heck you can even improvise and use canned fruit or berries… just drain the liquid or in a pinch – use readymade pie filling and delete the 1 cup of sugar that is called for in the saucepan seeing as pie filling already has the sugar added – you would just bring pie filling up to a boil and pour that over the cobbler batter in the casserole dish.
Be sure to follow the directions in the order listed. You will be pleasantly suprised to see the cobble batter rise to the top of the casserole dish as the cobbler bakes and turns a nice golden brown.
4 oz unsalted butter
1 cup all purpose flour
3/4 cup sugar
1/4 cup brown sugar
1 tbsp baking powder
pinch sea salt
1 cup whole milk
4 cups sliced peaches (skin removed) * 4 – 5 peaches
1 cup sugar
1/2 lemon (juice only)
sprinkle cinnamon sugar
- Preheat oven to 375 degrees F.
- Melt 4 oz. (cube) of butter, pour into a 9″ x 13″ casserole dish, set aside.
- In a large bowl combine flour, 1 cup of sugar, the baking powder and a pinch of salt.
- Add milk, stir to combine then pour over the melted butter in the casserole dish, set aside.
- Rinse peaches then remove and discard peach skin.
- Cut peaches in half, discard seed, slice peaches and place in a saucepan with 1 cup of sugar.
- Stir to combine, continue stirring until the peaches come to a boil along the outer edges of the saucepan.
- Pour hot peach mixture over the batter in the casserole dish. Sprinkle the top with some cinnamon sugar.
- Bake 38 – 42 minutes until the crust is golden brown.
- Using hot pads, remove baked cobbler from the oven, set casserole dish on a cool stovetop.
- Sprinkle the top again with cinnamon sugar.
Enjoy warm or cold. Cover and refrigerate leftovers in the fridge or place portions of the cobbler in freezer ziplock bags. With a permanent marker, label bag ‘peach cobbler’ and write date prepared. Enjoy within 3 months.
This recipe is TASTY, so I can’t wait until Fall to share this “knock you socks off” delicious one pot meal with fellow RV travelers!
This is not your traditional Italian wedding soup but the flavor profile is one that will not disappoint.
Whether you are cooking for a crowd or making a batch of this soup to package and freeze – to have some make-ahead meals readily available, your investment in time and ingredients are sure to reward you ten fold.
I realize summer is grilling season however I tend to enjoy a great tasting soup most any time of … year whether it is a brisk night huddled around a campfire or sitting in my camp chair while soft summer evening breezes gently drift by.
Instant Pot 6 quart
Serves 10 – 12
19 oz mild Italian sausage
19 oz hot Italian sausage
8 oz uncooked, bacon
64 oz organic chicken broth
1/2 red onion, diced (or substitute 1 tsp onion powder)
2 cloves garlic, minced (or substitute 1 tsp garlic powder)
1/2 – 2/3 tsp red pepper flakes
1/2 – 2/3 tsp Montreal steak seasoning (or substitute black pepper and a few dashes of sea salt)
1/2 – 2/3 tsp dried basil flakes or spice
1/2 – 2/3 tsp dried oregano or spice
4 6″ (med/large) russet potatoes, rinsed, peeled, diced
5 oz bag baby spinach, prewashed
1 cup heavy cream or half and half
1 cup shaved or freshly grated parmesan cheese
- Remove sausage from casings. Cut or divide each link into 6 pieces, set aside.
- Cut each strip of bacon into 4 equal slices then place in Instant Pot on SAUTE’ mode. Stir as needed for a minute or 2 then add diced fresh onion, stir again for a minute then add freshly minced garlic. Stir for a minute.
- Add sausage pieces and seasonings, stir until lightly browned.
- Add chicken broth, stir. Turn IP off.
- Peel rinsed potatoes, cut them in half lengthwise then slice into 1/4 inch (half moon) slices.
- Add potatoes to the IP but DO NOT stir.
- Close IP lid and steam vent. Set heat to MANUAL 5 minutes. Allow the IP to natural release for 10 minutes, then open the steam valve for a quick release of the remainder of steam.
- Open the IP, remove 1 – 2 cups of potatoes from the pot and lightly puree using the back of a fork. Return the potatoes to the IP and stir.
- Add the baby spinach and stir.
- Add the heavy cream or half and half, stir. The mixture may thicken ever so slightly due to the starch of the potato but this soup is actually more broth like.
- Pour individual servings into bowls and top with freshly grated parmesan.
This is a super easy creamy key lime pie with a little zing of red pepper jelly that folks can add to their personal slice as they wish!
Whether you are looking for an easy week night dessert or a camping dessert that is no fuss… consider this recipe.
If you don’t have an oven available, make this pie as directed but omit the baking process but follow the directions to refrigerate the pie 3 or more hours and until serving time.
Scoop the yummy pie ingredients (which will be a little loose like pudding), place portions of the dessert in individual 6 oz. clear cups. Garnish suggestions in the recipe that follows!
1 pie shell pre-made walnut/graham cracker crust
28 oz sweetened condensed milk
1/2 cup sour cream
3/4 cup key lime juice
1 zest from a lemon or lime
1 rounded tbsp. pepper jelly
whipped cream – optional
Directions Preheat oven to 350 F
- In a medium bowl whisk together the filling ingredients until thoroughly combined.
- Pour filling into a pre-made pie shell.
- Bake for approximately 8 – 10 minutes in an oven preheated to 350F or until custard is slightly set. Note: Pie is ready when small air bubbles on the surface begin to pop. Note: Do not overcook.
- Let pie cool to room temperature then refrigerate for 2 – 24 hours prior to cutting and serving.
- Just prior to serving, top the pie with a whipped cream border (optional). Garnish the center of the pie with a dollop of whipped cream and a rounded tbsp. of red pepper jelly.
- Cover and refrigerate any leftovers.
Note: If you do not have an oven… skip #3 the baking. The pie needs to be refrigerated 3 – 24 hrs. to thicken and hold its shape and may be somewhat loose like pudding, but still delicious.
Alternate garnish: Rather than adding a dollop of red pepper jelly to this pie… you could make an easy Raspberry Coulis: Rinse a small pkg. of fresh or frozen raspberries and half a lemon. Add the juice of the lemon and the fresh raspberries to a small saucepan. Cook and stir the mixture over mediumium low heat. Add 1/3 – 1/2 cup of granulated sugar, stir and continue to let the sauce cook and reduce to a sauce consistency. Strain the thickened sauce if desired. Drizzle 1/2 tsp. over each slice of pie.
If you are looking for other tips, food pairings or over 105 recipes that are designed for those who travel in an RV, check out:
My cookbook Small Kitchen Big Flavors! – available at a great Introductory Price on Ebay and my blog site at : https:/smallkitchenbigflavorsblog.wordpress.com
This is really a meal in a loaf that can be prepared in the RV or made ahead of time and brought along with you on a camping adventure.
Add a side salad and your dinner is complete. I have made this delight baking it in the convection oven for 30 minutes at 375 F and have had equal or better success simply microwaving a few slices at a time on a paper plate lightly covered with a paper towel. Heat on high for 1 minute, let it rest for 30 seconds, remove paper towel and enjoy!
Is this recipe versatile… you bet feel free to switch up this idea from a dinner main meal or side to a breakfast option, an appetizer or a welcomed Potluck item you bring to the table.
1 loaf grocery store day old baguette of sourdough bread
1 leek rinsed well then thinly sliced
1 shallot peeled, thinly sliced
1/2 lb thinly sliced ham, prosciutto, or european style bacon (optional)
1 1/2 tbsp. olive oil
4 oz crème fraiche
1 uncooked egg
1 fully cooked russet potato, cooled then medium sliced
1 1/2 cups freshly grated gruyere cheese
grated nutmeg, moderate sprinkling
salt and pepper to taste
- Clean and slice shallot and leek as noted above.
- In a medium saute’ pan over medium heat saute’ shallots for 2 minutes while stirring. Add the leeks and diced ham, euro bacon or prosciutto to the saute’ pan and continue cooking and stirring for another 2 minutes then set aside.
- Cut day old sourdough loaf vertically in 1/2″ slices to 3/4 way through the loaf (top to near the bottom) while keeping the base of the loaf intact.
- In a small bowl, lightly mix together crème fraiche, nutmeg, salt and pepper and egg, incorporating the egg into the crème but leaving some small lumps of the crème for texture.
- Add a few cooked potato slices and some leek/shallot mixture between each slice of sourdough bread to create a nice opening to nestle the rest of the filling.
- Place the crème fraiche mixture in a liquid measuring cup to creat a spout as you drizzle 1/2 of the mixture evenly between the bread slices.
- Stuff grated cheese evenly between each slice.
- Pour remaining crème fraiche between the slices and lightly evenly rub any crème fraiche that is on the top of the loaf as an egg wash finish.
- Wrap the loaf in baking parchment baking paper and then foil.
- To bake the bread: Ssee the baking options listed above in the introductory paragraphs. You want the finished stuffed bread to be warm with the ingredients melty and cooked.
- If baking the entire loaf, I’d opt for the convection option, but when heating/cooking just a few slices few slices, I’d unwrap the foil and use the microwave (placing the bread on a paper plate and lightly cover with a paper towel). Heat the bread on high for a minute then let the bread rest for 30 seconds before removing the paper towel and enjoying the cooked stuffed bread.
- Cover and refrigerate any leftovers and enjoy within a few days.
If you are craving a sweet Spring treat here is a tasty bite that combines lemon and blueberries! The recipe is quick, simple, easy and tasty…
Enjoy as a snack or dessert… check out the recipe below.
Using a mini loaf 8″ x 4″ aluminum loaf pan the brownie takes on the shape and texture of pound cake. For a more traditional thinner brownie use an 8″ x 8″ pan.
3/4 cup all purpose flour
3/4 cup sugar
1 1/2 tbsp fresh squeezed lemon juice
Zest 1/2 lemon
2/3 cup fresh blueberries
4 oz butter
1/2 cup powdered sugar
1 tbsp fresh squeezed lemon juice
zest half a lemon
- Preheat convection or standard oven to 350 F.
- In a medium bowl mix dry ingredients together.
- Diced softened butter into 1″ pieces, add to the dry and mix well.
- Whisk in eggs, lemon juice and zest.
- Prepare the mini loaf pan with a light coat of butter or vegetable oil.
- Pour batter into the loaf pan and bake until the center is set.
- Bake for 40 minutes and until the center of the loaf is fully set.
- Add a drizzle of lemon glaze then slice and serve.
I decided to blend some familiar flavors I enjoy when preparing a Mexican style dish but with a twist… by combing some tasty ingredients but adding a twist. Here is the burrito filling I came up with. I hope you enjoy it!
I prepared the filling on the stovetop in our RV Galley using a heavy Dutch oven as my pan of choice to saute’ the filling and then gently simmer the ingredients to blend the flavors and reduce/thicken the sauce. The results… yummy!
Makes 5 – 6 burritos or a couple of varied Mexican style meals
3 boneless pork loin chops
1 lb ground pork chorizo sausage
10 oz green enchilada sauce
3 tbsp. vegetable oil
1/3 red bell pepper, diced
1/3 brown onion, diced
3 tbsp. all purpose flour
3 tbsp. vegetable oil
seasoning of choice or: 1/2 tsp garlic salt, 1/3 tsp black pepper, a few sprinkles of red pepper flakes and chili powder
8″ flour tortillas
1 avocado, diced
1 cup shredded cheddar cheese
1 cup sour cream
- Add 1 1/2 tbsp. of oil to a heavy skillet or Dutch oven. Turn heat to medium.
- When oil is hot add diced red bell peppers and diced onions. Saute’ for 5 minutes, stirring intermittently.
- Dredge cubed pork in flour and add to the pan. Saute and stir, browning the pork on all sides.
- Add the chorizo to the pan, break up any clumps and brown the chorizo.
- Add remaining 1 1/2 tbsp of oil and blend cubed pork and chorizo together while cooking over medium heat.
- Add a small can of green enchilada sauce to the pan. Stir, turn the heat to low. Note: Spoon off and discard any excess floating oil.
- Warm tortillas and serve your skillet of burrito filling along with sides of diced avocado, sour cream and cheese. Here’s an idea for a simple side salad Balsamic vinegar and oil dressing: use 1 part vinegar to 3 parts oil and a squeeze of mustard and honey. Whisk the dressing and serve over fresh salad greens.
1 1/2 lb raw deveined shrimp
1/2 cup marinade: Signature select or other: Sesame Ginger readymade 30 minute marinade
2 tbsp. light soy sauce
1 cup vegetable oil
1 cup all purpose flour
1/2 cup cornstarch
1/4 tsp baking soda
1/4 tsp baking powder
1 tsp seasoned garlic salt
12 oz can of plain soda water
7 oz. sweetened condensed milk
2/3 cup Hellman’s or Best Foods mayonnaise
3 – 4 tbsp. honey
1/2 lemon, juice only
1 cup shelled walnut halves
1 cup brown sugar
1/2 cup water
Additional Garnish and Wraps
1/4 bunch green onions, diced
1/2 cup readymade canned La Choy or other Chow Mein noodles.
6 oz ready made guacamole
1 head iceberg lettuce, rinse, pat dry. Set aside to use single medium and large leaves for lettuce wraps.
- Rinse iceberg lettuce, set aside single medium and large lettuce leaves for cooked shrimp wraps.
- Open container of crispy fried Asian noodles, set aside for garnish.
- Keep ready made guacamole in the fridge until ready to serve.
- Place brown sugar and water in a skillet over med/high heat, stir. Add walnuts and stir until the sauce thickens, about 5 minutes. Pour candied walnuts onto foil or parchment paper after walnuts are coated with thick brown sugar sauce, set aside.
- Clean the skillet, prepare shrimp and batter for pan frying.
- For the shrimp: remove the shell and tail from each shrimp and any remaining vein.
- Place shrimp in a ziplock bag, add marinade. Seal the bag, refrigerate for 30 minutes.
- In a large bowl combine dry batter ingredients, stir then set aside.
- Add plain soda water to the batter (in the large bowl), stir to combine ingredients thoroughly, set side.
- Pour oil into the skillet. Turn stovetop heat to med/high.
- When oil is hot, dip shrimp 1 at a time into the batter then place in the hot skillet. Do not overcrowd the pan. Cook shrimp for 2 minutes on each side, until the shrimp are pink and thoroughly cooked. Remove the crispy shrimp to a clean platter.
- Place candied walnuts on a plate, garnish with diced green onions.
- Place lettuce leaves for wrappers on a plate.
- Place guacamole and Chow Mein noodles out in serving dishes on the table along with the shrimp and walnuts.
- Assemble lettuce wraps and enjoy. Refrigerate leftovers and enjoy within 1 – 2 days.