Pho - Vietnamese Soup

Pho - Vietnamese Soup
One of our favorite dishes - Pho

Tuesday, June 6, 2017

Easy Crusty Artisan French Bread







Happy Summer to all!  In preparation for another epic road trip I made the Decadent French Toast Casserole recipe I previously posted.  That recipe is super easy to make ahead of time and it's easily transportable and most importantly, it's a crowd pleasure.  I used this recipe for the French bread called for in the casserole, which was perfect for a smaller square pan that will fit in our toaster oven on that's conveniently stored on our bus.

Yes, another road trip is in full swing as I'm writing this.  Of course, complete with family and friends.  David and I both will keep a travel journal of sorts here, along with good RV'ing recipes, for anyone who cares to keep up with our travels and our newest Foodie craze...whatever that might be. First stop Santa Fe!! 

Here's a somewhat quick homemade bread recipe that is super easy to whip up with only 5 ingredients.  Let the dough rise for a bit and then simply use your Dutch Oven in your oven to bake.  No need for a bread making machine.  The longer you let your dough rise the better and more airy your bread will be.  Serve this with dinner slathered with butter or use for hearty sandwiches.  The biggest bonus is how awesome this makes your home smell. 

Happy cooking and safe travels everyone!  xoxo

2 - 1/4 tsp active dry yeast
1 tsp sugar
1 - 1/4 cups warm water (about 100 degree F)
1 - 1/2 tsp Kosher salt
3 cups All-Purpose Flour, plus extra for dusting

Combine yeast, sugar and warm water in a large mixing bowl.  

Let the yeast proof (sit) for about 5 - 10 minutes, until the mixture looks nice, foamy and is bubbling.

Add Kosher salt to the bowl.

Add flour to the bowl a little bit at a time.  Mixing with a wooden spoon until well incorporated.  Lightly flour all sides of your dough (don't mis the flour in - it's just to keep the dough from sticking) and turn it over inside the mixing bowl to coat with flour on all sides.  Cover with a tea towel and let rise on the counter for 8 - 12 hours.  If you need to fix this super quick you can let the dough rise for an hour.  Although it will be more dense and less airy.

When the dough has risen, lightly flour a large cutting board.

Tip the dough out of the bowl and onto the cutting board.  DO NOT PUNCH THE DOUGH DOWN - you want to keep all those nice air bubbles intact so you have an airy, delicious loaf of bread.  (Note: If the dough is sticking to the bowl a bit, just wet your hand with a bit of water and gently seperate the from the bowl to get it all out).

Sprinkle a bit of flour across the top of he dough, then begin shaping it into a round loaf.  One method is to pull each corner of the dough towards the center, like folding an envelope.  Then flip the dough over and form it into a nice, round loaf.

Flour your cutting board and place your loaf onto it seam side down.  Cut an "X" with a knife on top of your loaf.  Cover with a tea towel and let rise another 30 minutes or so.

While the dough proofs, place an empty Dutch oven with the lid on and in your oven while the oven preheats to 450 degrees.

When the oven is hot, you're good to go.  USE OVEN MITTS to pull the Dutch oven out and USE MITTS to remove the lid. 

VERY CAREFULLY - without burning yourself - place the dough "X" side up into the very HOT Dutch oven

Put your oven mitts back on, put the 

Dutch oven lid back. On the pot and slide the whole thing back into your hot oven.

Cook bread foe 30 minutes.

After 30 minutes, using your mitts again, remove the lid from your Dutch oven.  The bread should be crusty and lightly browned.  Continue cooking uncovered, for 10 - 20 minutes more until the bread has deepened in color and you have a beautiful golden brown crust.  

When bread is done, use oven mitts to pull the pot out of the oven.

Use a long spatula to very carefully lift the bread out of the Dutch oven and onto a cooling rack.  Let cool for 10 minutes or so before slicing it.  Slather with butter if serving with your meal and enjoy!

**This recipe is adapted from Itsalwaysautumn.com and Lifeasastrawberry.com

Friday, July 22, 2016

Overnight Decadent Blueberry French Toast








I'm back and I'm ready to get back to blogging, cooking and simply enjoying our friends, family and life.  We've been very busy, coming up with new ideas on how to improve our Sugaree.  We've had a few trips this summer and while enjoying our time with family and friends.  I found some recipes that are not only easy to make on the road (by halving the recipe and cooking in a square pan in a toaster oven), but the next couple of recipes are great for cooking for a crowd and are unbelievably easy to prepare.

We were vacationing on North Captiva Island recently, where we were on our own to provide most meals.  We had a party of 9 and unfortunately our pans weren't cooperating because everything was sticking, making frying bacon, hash browns and eggs a bit challenging.  So, I'd seen some really great French toast casserole recipes online and I got on trusty pinterest to see what kind of wondrous breakfasts I could conjure up for a crowd without  the hassle of half of our breakfast sticking to all of the pans.  Here's what I found and it proved to be a crowd pleaser.  You can double the sauce up and use the remaining, warmed sauce over ice cream.  Also, you can substitute the blueberries with strawberries or blackberries and you can use frozen or fresh.  You could even substitute a lovely fruit jam for the sauce.  It's fun to be back...Lots of memorable times will continue to be had with lots of deliciousness to surely occur.  Happy cooking my friends!  xoxo

12 slices thick, stale Italian or French bread
2 - 8 oz pkgs cream cheese or mascarpone cheese, cut into cubes
1 cup blueberries (maybe a little more)
12 large eggs
2 cups whole milk
1 tsp vanilla
1 tsp cinnamon
1/3 cup maple syrup

Blueberry Sauce:
1 cup granulated sugar
2 TBSP cornstarch
1 cup water
1 cup blueberries
1 TBSP butter

Spray a 9 x 13" baking dish with nonstick spray.  Set aside.

Cut the bread into 1" pieces.  Place half into prepared baking dish.  Cut cheese into cubes or use a small cookie scoop and place on top of the bread.  Top with blueberries and then remaining bread cubes.

Whisk the eggs in a large bowl.  Whisk in the milk, vanilla, cinnamon and syrup until well combined.  Pour over the bread cubes.  Cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate overnight.  You might like to place a book on top of the wrap to sink the bread into the liquid to make a more gooey, dense cake.  I prefer not to place a book on top and I like to loosely place the plastic wrap over the casserole to make a lighter more airy dish. 

The next morning remove the pan from the fridge 1/2 hour prior to baking.  Preheat oven to 350 degrees.  Remove the plastic wrap, then cover with foil and bake for 30 minutes.  Uncover and bake an additional 10 - 15 minutes or until the center is set and color is golden.

While the french toast is baking, prepare the sauce:
In a medium saucepan whisk together the sugar and cornstarch.  Add the water and bring to a boil over medium heat.  Stir constantly and boil for about 3 minutes.  Stir in the blueberries and reduce heat to low.  Simmer for about 10 minutes or until the blueberries begin to pop.  Stir in the butter until melted.  

Pour warm sauce, and/or maple syrup over individual servings.  To make it extra decadent add a dash of whipping cream.

*Recipe adapted from recipegirl.com




Friday, July 17, 2015

The hound broke down and left us all stranded in...

Another post by David...

MALIBU...on the beach, no less!  After a great day yesterday at the Santa Monica Pier with Steve Lenier, we ended up at the Malibu Beach RV Park.  It was dark upon our arrival, and I ended up with the bus stuck in a one way high hill curvy situation and had to have some good samaritans assist with backing our 35' ass out of there.  It was rather stressful, with steep dropoffs on either side where we would tumble to our grisly deaths.  Fortunately, we slowly and meticulously backed out and found our spot, only to realize that the power steering was going out and I could hardly turn.  We limped into our RV space, however, overlooking Malibu Beach so how bad can it be?  Thanks to our Good Sam membership, a mobile mechanic was dispatched to our site and went and had the power steering line made and is putting it on right now.  If you're gonna be stranded, I can't think of a better place than Malibu Beach!  Again, we totally dodged a bullet and instead of breaking down in the middle of the 115 degree Arizona desert, we crap out in our RV space with an awesome view!  Pure luck, I tell you!

The mechanic finished his job around 4:00 in the afternoon, right as we were finishing grilling some bratwursts.  Then, we loaded up the bus to head back down to Venice Beach so the kids could see the scene there.  It was quite the scene, with characters everywhere.  After a couple of hours on Venice Beach, we had dinner at Mao's Kitchen, which was excellent.  We then headed back up to Santa Monica so we could see the Pier in her lighted glory.

Now, back in our RV space in Malibu, we are getting ready to crash for the night.  Tomorrow, we go back down to Venice Beach for a few hours of beach time, then have lunch with our sweet cousin, Whitney, who just got married and is expecting her first child, little Betty, in about three weeks.  After lunch with Whitney, we are headed to Hollywood and then to the Coffees for dinner with Bill and Mary Lynn and the Radjef family, who also happens to be in town!















Tuesday, July 14, 2015

You're either on the bus or you're off the bus...

Another post written by David~

We are definitely ON THE BUS!  After three days of travel, we have been to Carlsbad, NM, Las Cruces, NM and are now in Tucson, AZ.  It's a lot of fun seeing people's reaction to the bus.  On the highway, they wave and take photos with their phones.  A pickup full of workers giggles like a gaggle of schoolgirls as we pass them by and pretty much all kids smile and wave.  Burly truckers pass us by and flash a big smile and a peace sign.

When we woke up in Carlsbad, we packed it up and headed for Carlsbad Caverns.  This proved to be a most enjoyable side trip, as we got to walk through the caverns 750 feet underground and see the Big Room (which was aptly named), the Bottomless Pit (not so aptly named, as it is only 140 feet deep) and other very otherworldly formations that seem like you're in a Hobbit movie.  It also didn't hurt the experience that it is 50 degrees, which was a welcome respite from the bus, which although equipped with a great AC system, still heats up especially in the front with the large windshield.

After the Caverns, we trucked it to Las Cruces where we spent the night and continued our travels to Tucson.  In Tucson, we got to see my good friend Joel Tarantal and we got to meet each other's families.  It was nice to meet Joel's wife of 45 years, Linda and one of their lovely daughters, Coppelia.  We had some Mexican food in the late afternoon and a nice dinner with Joel and his family.  Joel and I met 10-15 years ago trading Grateful Dead tapes online  and through the mail, and have been friends ever since.

Tomorrow, we get up and head for one of the last big stretches...San Diego.  This should take us about 7 hours, although after this, we will be making short jaunts up the coast of California to the next cool town and spend the day and night there.  Looking forward to seeing Steve Lenier in Venice Beach.  Steve is a drummer and said we can park Sugaree along the beach in Venice, and he will organize a drum circle and a jam around it.  That sounds like a blast!