30 Mar

RVFTA Episode #135: Ready, Set, Road Food!

RV Family Travel Atlas Podcast Episode #135:

Ready, Set, Road Food!

On this episode of the RV Family Travel Atlas Podcast, we are checking off a bucket list item and interviewing Micheal Stern, co-author of Road Food: An Eater’s Guide to More than 1,000 of the Best Local Hot Spots and Hidden Gems Across America. The 10th edition of this classic book was just released, and we asked Michael to come on the show and talk about his forty years of traveling around the country and reporting on the best road food joints out there.

We have personally traveled with Road Food in each of our campers since day one, and it has led us to some of the best BBQ joints and lobster shacks in America. If you don’t have a copy yet, we don’t know what you are waiting for.

In Segment One, we chat with Michael Stern about the evolution of food writing over the last forty years. He takes us back to the beginning, when they struggled to get publishers to buy into the idea that readers would be interested in ‘regular’ food.

In Segment Two, we put Micheal Stern in the hot seat, and make him answer some tough questions about his favorite American food region, and some of his most memorable discoveries.

We wrap it up in Segment Three with our own personal list of 10 amazing Road Food joints where we have eaten over the course of our RV travels. Pairing a campground with great road food is just about the perfect match in our world. Listen to hear our top picks from the last 7 years.

White Cottage Snack Bar

You might think every meal has to be cooked over a campfire if you are a true RV enthusiast. But we know that finding a great road food joint turns an ordinary trip into an epic adventure. Take a listen to episode #135: Ready, Set, Road Food!

A big thanks to our fabulous sponsors for supporting weekly content for all our RV fools:

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26 Jan

RVFTA #126 The Gift of the RV Kitchen: Traveling with Special Dietary Needs

 

On this episode of the RV Family Travel Atlas podcast, The Gift of the RV Kitchen, we are talking about one of the most amazing parts of RV travel…carrying your kitchen with you on the road!

For some of us, this is merely a convenience that we have become attached to, but travelers with special dietary needs, a self-contained kitchen is the only thing that makes travel a viable option.

Addressing allergies or dietary restrictions while traveling in an RV can be an overwhelming and daunting process, but we don’t want anyone to feel like it’s an insurmountable obstacle. So we invited Jenn and Jerome Braga from Our1Chance.com to pass along their advice for living an adventurous life while still staying safe and healthy.

Segment One: Meet the Bragas

The Bragas life took a dramatic turn when their youngest daughter was diagnosed with severe allergies. Although they were scared and overwhelmed, they were also determined to live life to the fullest and learn how to manage this ‘gift’. After purchasing a travel trailer so they could still vacation as a family, Jenn and Jerome discovered that they loved the RV lifestyle. Now they spend months at a time on the road every year in their renovated fifth wheel.

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20 Nov

Thanksgiving at the Campground: Corn Casserole, InstaPot Mashed Potatoes, and Apple Slaw

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In this series of blog posts, I am sharing my family recipes for enjoying Thanksgiving dinner at the campground. There are so many ways to bring festive holiday cheer on the road, and this year I am focusing on dishes that offer those classic Thanksgiving flavors, but can be made mostly in advance and with minimal fuss.

You can also check out my posts on Turkey and Stuffing Sandwiches and Pumpkin Bread Cupcakes with Cream Cheese Frosting.

thanksgiving

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16 Nov

Thanksgiving at the Campground: Turkey Sandwiches with Stuffing and Cranberry Sauce on Brioche Buns

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There are so many ways to make a great Thanksgiving dinner at the campground. This year, my goal was to create a menu that is simple and made mostly in advance, but still features all the tastes of a traditional Thanksgiving meal.

thanksgiving

Turkey Sandwiches with Stuffing and Cranberry Sauce

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For years, I prepared a ‘leftovers’ meal on the Friday after Thanksgiving to bring to my grandmother who lived a few hours away. I piled rolls high with sliced turkey, stuffing, and homemade cranberry sauce. I also added a little horseradish cream to my own sandwich, but that’s just because I like everything to have a little kick. You won’t find my young boys buying into that flavor profile.

So how do you put Thanksgiving dinner on a bun with only about 60 minutes worth of prep time in the kitchen? Here are my steps…

Turkey Breast

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15 Nov

Thanksgiving at the Campground: Pumpkin Bread Cupcakes with Cream Cheese Frosting

img_7813 In this series of blog posts, I’m sharing my personal recipes for simple menu items that can be made ahead of a holiday RV trip, but still hit all of the classic holiday tastes that we crave in a Thanksgiving meal.

thanksgiving

Pumpkin Bread Cupcakes with Cream Cheese Frosting

I first started making these cupcakes when we would visit my grandmother on the Friday after Thanksgiving. Everyone already had their fair share of pie on Thursday, so I wanted to bring something festive but different. So I turned my mother’s classic pumpkin bread into a cupcake and topped it with cream cheese frosting and chopped walnuts. These turned out to be one of my grandmother’s favorite desserts, and I think of her every time I make them.

This recipe traditionally makes 2 loaves of pumpkin bread, which translates into about 2 dozen cupcakes. To be honest, I usually make one loaf of bread and 1 dozen cupcakes. To be even more honest, the bread makes a yummy breakfast option as well…

Pumpkin Bread Cupcakes

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11 Aug

RVFTA #101 Sauces and Marinades with Evanne Schmarder

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***first ever bloopers audio at the end of this episode, folks…Jeremy finally got some bad tape in***

On this week’s episode of RV Family Travel Atlas, we are talking to Evanne Schmarder, creator and cohost of the RV Cooking Show. Last time we chatted, Evanne taught us the basics of great campground grilling. Now she’s back to teach us the fancy stuff: sauces and marinades.

Evanne also schools us in stocking our RV pantries and whipping up flavorful dishes that will wow your family and friends. She was kind enough to pass along her own personal pantry checklist. You can download your own copy here. 

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03 May

6 Standout Restaurants in Charleston, South Carolina

6 standout restaurants in Charleston SC

We enjoyed one mouth-watering, belly-filling meal after another during our recent trip to Charleston, South Carolina. And we are still in recovery.

I knew before our arrival in the Holy City that we had to taste all the stars of Low Country Cuisine…think shrimp and grits, she-crab soup, and Charleston red rice. What I didn’t know was that this region has experienced a food renaissance over the last 30 years, transforming itself into a world class food destination. Depending on which local you ask, you will get a completely different top 10 restaurant list. And they will probably all be equally delicious.

So here is a run down of 6 Standout Restaurants in Charleston, South Carolina. To hear more about our whirlwind culinary tour of low country cuisine, listen to the upcoming episode of RV Family Travel Atlas (#87), and look for our article in an upcoming issue of Trailer Life Magazine.

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14 Apr

RVFTA #84 Becoming a Weekend Warrior, Part Two with Fireside Provisions

Becoming A Weekend WarriorPart Two-2

On this week’s episode we are giving you even more tools to become a fierce RV Weekend Warrior. Our listeners are constantly telling us that they want to camp more. Last week on Episode #83, we gave you 7 ways you could fit in more camping with as little fuss as possible.

Well, this week we are talking about the food. It can be the most time consuming part of a quick weekend trip, but we have ways you can eat well without slaving over a camp stove. First, we will share our 5 tips for making food prep easy-peasy-lemon-squeezy on quick weekend trips.

listen on iTunes

Then we have a fantastic interview with Kip Clifton, Founder and CEO of Fireside Provisions, a food delivery service for campers like you who want to make a fast getaway on a Friday afternoon and still eat well at the campground. We are in love with this company, and can’t wait to share an awesome resource for Weekend Warriors.

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12 Oct

Recipe of the Week: Julie’s Michigan Sauce

Michigan hotdog

We are huge fans of Jane and Michael Stern’s Roadfood book, a wonderful collection of American roadside restaurant recommendations. No matter where we are traveling, we always consult the book before we leave to see if there are any gems in the region to which we are heading.

Before we took off for Lake Placid last month, we cracked open Roadfood and found that every Adirondack entry referenced the “Michigans” on the menu.

A Michigan? What’s a Michigan?

So glad you asked.

First things first. A Michigan is not from Michigan. It is a dish unique to upstate New York although different versions with different names are found all over the country. Legend has it that a couple who owned The Michigan Hot Dog Stand in Plattsburgh, New York were trying to recreate the Coney Dog when they first introduced it to their menu.

This is the kind of recipe where everything get thrown in the big pan and then you cook it down for as long as it takes, or as long as you have. Here are the ingredients for Julie’s Michigan Sauce:

  • 2 pounds ground meat
  • 4 cups ketchup
  • 2 chopped onions (some reserved for toppings)
  • 8 tablespoons butter
  • 8 tablespoons vinegar
  • 8 tablespoons brown sugar
  • 12 tablespoons Worcester sauce
  • salt and pepper to taste
  • 3 tablespoons brown mustard

After browning and draining the meat, add the remaining ingredients and stir until incorporated. Cook at a simmer until the sauce has the consistency of a chili or sloppy joe.

Serve over a hotdog in a bun. Traditionally the hotdogs would be boiled (dirty water dogs!), but grilled ones work just as well and might be preferred by some. Top with chopped onions and extra mustard if desired.

Eat up and go back for seconds.

Thanks to Julie Grundon, manager of the Lake Placid/Whiteface Mountain for not only making us this yummy dish, but sharing her recipe as well. She was definitely the hostess with the most-ess. 

To learn more about our visit to the Lake Placid/Whiteface Mountain KOA, read our article here or listen to podcast episode #57: Greetings From Lake Placid.

07 Aug

RVFTA #47: Fancy Camping with Kate Dunbar

Fancy Camping with Kate Dunbar

RVFTA Fall Rally Announcement on this episode! October 23rd and 24th at the Philadelphia/West Chester KOA in the Great State of Pennsylvania…Reserve Now!

On this week’s episode of RV Family Travel Atlas, we are talking about the trend of fancy camping that is all the rage these days. Decked out vintage campers, cushioned outdoor seating, and sequins throw pillows are popping up more and more around campgrounds.

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Plus, campsites with patio furniture, pavers, and decorative landscaping are increasing in popularity.

deluxe patio site

We are NOT such fancy campers ourselves, so we invited Kate Dunbar of Kate’s Curious Kitchen to come on the show and give us the rundown on glamping. In addition to owning a vintage trailer and an Airstream, Kate is also a professional chef.

Basically she has more style than we could ever dream of.

airstream glamping

She has also has great tips on dressing up the inside and outside of your trailer, and making fabulous meals on the road. Check out her recommendation for a dutch oven cooking blog, Mark’s Black Pot.

Our fancy camping agenda includes discussion of…

  • easy and stylish RV modifications
  • accessories and decor
  • food and meal preparation
  • deluxe campsites

We may set up a couple of camp chairs and call it a day. But you might want to elevate your campground style.

RV awning chandelier

If so,  you are listening to the right show. This is episode #47: Fancy Camping with Kate Dunbar!

We are delighted to welcome back Go RVing as our RVFTA sponsor. Check out their events page to see what experiential events they have coming up in the next few months.

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20 Jun

RVFTA #40: Let’s Get Grillin’

On this week’s episode of RV Family Travel Atlas, we are talking about the fine art of grilling. We love the idea of making delicious campground meals on a great portable grill, but quite frankly we don’t have the tools or the talent.

So we reached out to Evanne Schmarder, cohost of Rollin’ on TV and creator of the RV Cooking Show. She is taking us to school and teaching us Grillin’ 101. Listen for some fantastic grill recommendations as well as some great tips for putting a delicious dinner on your campground picnic table.

Evanne is schooling us on:

  • Preheating the Grill
  • Oiling the food
  • Meat in the middle and veg around the edge
  • Closing the lid
  • Using a timer
  • Using a meat thermometer
  • Letting meat rest
  • Cleaning your grill
  • Grilled Fish Tacos

Plus Stephanie shares an easy way to add some flavor and punch to your meals without packing up your whole spice cabinet. Mixing spice rubs ahead of time is a simple trick to save time and space while traveling in your RV.

And we have a review of Campfire Cuisine by Robin Donovan, a unique and classy camping cookbook that takes you beyond the beef stew and cowboy casserole. We reviewed this cookbook a little over a year ago, and we are still just as infatuated with the great meal planning resources, out of the box meal ideas, and tips for prepping in advance.

All of this and a fun new giveaway on Episode 40 of RV Family Travel Atlas: Let’s Get Grillin’!

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12 Jun

RV Breakfast: Smoothie Stock Up List

smoothies at the campground

Sometime during our second year of RVing, we realized that we had been sucked into the vortex of unhealthy breakfast habits. Too many pancakes, too many bagels.

This was truly a puzzle because at home we ate very healthy breakfasts on a daily basis. Yogurt, oatmeal, and eggs were in regular rotation and popular with both kids and adults.

We knew we had to take back breakfast. One of the benefits of having an RV is that it is your home on wheels and you can bring your healthy habits with you on the road. No excuses. We could do quick, easy, AND healthy while we traveled.

I’ve shared some of our favorite healthy RV breakfasts before. But my favorite favorite? My favoritest of the favorites?

The smoothie.

The number one reason the smoothie is such a great option for families with young children is that you can jam it full of fruits, veggies, calcium, and protein and know your kids got a blast of nutrition early in the day.

Then you get to chill out a little on the food front.

So I decided to share my smoothie shopping list with our readers. I generally don’t follow recipes, but instead I stock a bunch of basics that can be combined in different ways to keep things tasty and interesting. I always follow the same basic formula: base liquid, fruits and veggies, something tart to balance the sweet, and a healthy protein or fat.

Smoothie Stock Up List:

The Base:

  • Quarts of Yogurt (plain or vanilla)
  • Almond Milk
  • Coconut water

Fruits and Veggies:

  • bananas
  • apples
  • cucumbers
  • spinach
  • frozen mixed berries (strawberries, cherries, blueberries, raspberries)
  • frozen pineapple/ mango

A bit of tartness:

  • 100% cranberry juice
  • lemons
  • limes
  • oranges

Protein/Healthy Fats:

  • Almond butter
  • Peanut butter
  • Coconut oil
  • Avocados

It might sound like a lot, but the list is easily tailored to the length of your RV trip and your own personal taste. It also includes items stored in the pantry, refrigerator, and freezer so you should definitely have room for everything.

Here’s your Smoothie Stock-Up Cheat Sheet for Pinning:

Smoothie Stock Up List

 

08 May

RVFTA #34: The Happy and Healthy RV

Healthy RV

On this week’s episode of RV Family Travel Atlas, we are discussing easy ways to develop a healthy RV lifestyle. We’ve developed some rules over the years for eating on the road, making breakfast at the campground, and managing sleeping schedules. These guidelines have served us well, and maybe they could work for you.

We start off by talking about our time on the road before we even get to the campground. This is where the bad habits start, and it is so easy to slip into a fast food and snack routine. We have written about some of our road trip tricks before, and in this episode we will share how eating lunch in your RV at a rest stop can actually be a really enjoyable experience.

Then it’s on to breakfast. We wrote a piece on the Camp Jellystone Blog this week on some of our favorite alternatives to the pancake breakfast. For our favorite smoothie, oatmeal bar, and breakfast burrito recipes, check it out.

And the allusive sleep. It is so easy to end up overtired on a vacation. We find that late nights, missed naps, and jam-packed days can lead to cranky kids (and adults!). We will talk about some of the rules we have developed to keep everyone from experiencing the dreaded vacation overload.

We are thrilled to welcome Stef and James from The Fit RV as guests on the show this week. They are helping us set some new goals for fitness and work towards being even healthier while we travel this season. They made some great recommendations for small, lightweight gear to bring with you in the RV such as Bodylastics. Our set is on its way to the camper as we drop this episode!

Make sure you check out their YouTube channel which is full of simple RV fitness routines. They also have a healthy dose of black tank videos and campground reviews, all done with a great sense of humor that we love.

Who won the best flashlight in the whole wide world? You will have to listen to find out! And we also announce this week’s giveaway from the Spring Gear Guide 2015: The MyMayu Toddler Play Boots, one of our favorite kid gear finds of the year. You can watch an Unboxing Review on our YouTube Channel.

All of this and so much more on Episode 34 of RV Family Travel Atlas: The Happy and Heathy RV!

 

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07 May

Unboxing the Toas-Tite Sandwich Grill

toas-tite product review

If you listened to our Spring Gear Guide Podcast, you know that Jeremy’s pick for best in show was the Toas-Tite. As soon as we started experimenting with this campfire cooking toy, we just couldn’t stop ourselves.

toas-tite

I’m going to admit it…we even had Toas-Tite tuna melts last night for dinner. And then there was the night we had Reubens. Oh, and the breakfast burritos…

breakfast burritos toas-tite

Trust us, this little cast aluminum treasure can be addicting.

Check out our most recent YouTube Unboxing of the Toas-Tite for all the details about this great item for the RV:

And make sure to check out our other Unboxing videos on our YouTube Channel! You might find some additional items to add to your RV shopping list.

24 Apr

RVFTA #32: Camp Food Rules!

Camp Food rules

On Episode #32 of RV Family Travel Atlas, we are dishing on how we manage to feed our crew while traveling over 40 days a year in our RV. Listen to hear our 5 rules for Camp Food!

We love to eat, but planning, preparing, and cooking while on the road with the little guys can be a challenge. We talked about this topic during our presentations for GS Media, and it always started tons of conversations. So on this episode, you’ll discover the camp food rules that we have come up with over the last five years to keep bellies full and bodies healthy.

A sneak peak at the rules…

Eat outside whenever possible.

Eat Outside

Make pancakes breakfast a special occasion, not a regular event.Pancake breakfast

Go ahead…reward the kids for being great travelers.camp store ice cream

We also have a great interview with one of the founders of the Toas-Tite, a product we included in our Spring Gear Guide episode last week. Jan tells us all about the history behind this camp cooking gem, and shares some of her favorite Toas-Tite Recipes.

ToasTite

Fair warning, you WILL have the munchies after this segment.

And for our recommendation of the week, we are talking about a TV show that keeps Jeremy up late at night, Rollin’ on TV. If you need your fix of RV news and info in between listening to our podcast each week, this is the place to go.

One of the co-hosts of Rollin’ On TV, Evanne Schmarder, is also the awesome camp chef from RV Cooking show who always has great tips for making fresh, delicious dishes in an RV kitchen.

All of this, and so much more on Episode #32 of RV Family Travel Atlas, Camp Food Rules!
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01 Jan

A New Name for a New Year: The Lively Little Campers are now RV Family Travel Atlas!

About five years ago we bought our first RV (a pop up camper) and decided that traveling and camping with our kids was just about the best thing ever. We also started writing a blog about the experience, mostly to humor ourselves and our close friends and family. There was no Facebook page…no social media at all. It was a minor miracle if you stumbled upon us out there on the world wide web.

A little over a year ago we realized that we had a whole lot of content, and there was nothing we loved doing more than RVing and writing about it. So we got a bit serious and actually developed a website, joined in on the social media thing, and went out and landed some freelance writing gigs.

2014 was a big, big year for us. We launched our website in January and by August we had worked with Jayco RVs, Jellystone Camp Resorts, the AmeriGo RV Club, and Kampgrounds of America.

Oh, and then in September we decided we had better start podcasting. RV Family Travel Atlas was born.

We were the Lively Little Campers for four years, and if you know our boys and have been reading our stories then you know that is the perfect euphemism to describe the insane amount of energy and enthusiasm our kids have on any given day. But they are not going to be little for long, and you know what? It’s not all about them anyway. We want to give all families the inspiration and the know-how to have their own amazing RV adventures. We want to encourage all our readers and listeners to get out and discover this great, big, beautiful country.

We want to be your RV Family Travel Atlas.

So thank you for reading and thank you for listening. Thank you for emailing and liking and commenting. Thank you for coming back again and again and letting us know that what we do is useful. There is no greater compliment to us.

Happy New Year from RV Family Travel Atlas and our own Lively Little Campers. Let’s have some great adventures in 2015.

01 Nov

RV Family Travel Atlas: Our Love Affair With Roadfood!

We love food, but with three young kids in tow, eating while traveling can be a challenge. We have learned that roadfood is the secret to successfully enjoying a local food culture. Join us for this week’s episode where we discuss our philosophy of roadfood and the great culinary classic of the same name, by Jane and Michael Stern.

Our campground review this week is actually of two different campgrounds in Swananoa, North Carolina. Mama Gertie’s Hideaway and Asheville East KOA are only a few miles away from each other, and both are great for very different reasons.

All this and more, on Episode 7 of RV Family Travel Atlas!

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13 Oct

What’s for Breakfast? 3 Easy RV Alternatives to Pancakes

Last week on Episode 3 of the RV Family Travel Atlas, we talked about how our mornings at the campground have changed over the years. We used to feel like authentic camping days had to begin with eggs, bacon, and pancakes.

Breakfast

But we soon realized that we liked to get out and about early, and we didn’t like the weight of a heavy breakfast dragging us down. So we adjusted our habits a bit and started eating things like yogurt, oatmeal, and peanut butter toast.

Over time I’ve added some breakfast menu items that have eventually turned into family favorites. Two of them, oatmeal bars and an egg casserole, can be made ahead of time and frozen. The other one, a smoothie, can be prepared in about 4 minutes flat.

Ham and Egg Casserole

I have been making this delicious dish for about 15 years now. It started out as something I would trot out for brunches and visiting house guests. After awhile it turned into our Christmas and Easter breakfast, perfect since it could be made the night before and required no effort in the kitchen on a busy holiday morning.

I have been trying to make better use of my RV oven, and recently it occurred to me that this would be a delicious campground breakfast, easy to make ahead, freeze, and then bake on demand. Here is the amazingly simple (and delicious!) recipe…

Ingredients:

Ham Steak cubed (I use Wegman’s 14 oz package, but the amount is flexible and to taste)

6 eggs

1 cup milk

1 tsp salt

1 cup grated cheese (we like a sharp cheddar)

1 loaf of Pepperidge Farm White Bread

Directions:

1. Beat together eggs, milk, and salt.

2. Cube the loaf of bread and spread out evenly in a greased casserole dish.  Place cubed ham over bread.

3. Pour the egg mixture over the bread and sprinkle the cheese on top.

4. Cover with plastic wrap and foil and freeze until ready to use.

5. I take the casserole out of the freezer the night before and then bake in a 375 degree oven for 40 minutes or until the egg looks set.

Serve hot out of the oven with fresh fruit. Leftovers reheat well.

Oatmeal On The Go Bars

Oatmeal Bars

A friend of mine shared this recipe from Weelicious.com and it has become a family favorite. I love that these oatmeal bars can be made ahead of time, baked,cooled, and frozen. I also love that you can basically add any assortment of fruits, nuts, and seeds to mix things up a bit.

My standby is cranberries and walnuts, but the boys often convince me to add in some chocolate chips. Last time I chopped up some dried pineapple and everyone loved the new Caribbean flavor.

Visit the Weelicious.com website for the recipe.

Smoothies

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Look, I know a lot of people get all creative with their smoothies and that’s great. But my boys are happiest when I keep the flavor profile simple. They used to fall for that ‘hide the green stuff‘ nonsense, but not anymore.

It took me a little while to realize the value in bringing the blender on the road, but now I wouldn’t leave home without it. Here is what I throw in for the fastest road breakfast possible…

1. 1/2 quart plain Stonyfield yogurt and 1/2 quart vanilla Stonyfield yogurt

2. 3 bananas

3. fresh strawberries, blueberries, and raspberries

4. Mix, place in Foogo Stainless Steel Straw Bottle, and relax. Breakfast is served.

I am always up for new ideas, so if you have any simple, make ahead breakfasts, please share below. We are definitely in the market for next season’s family favorites…

11 Sep

Great Food without the Crowds: Eating and the Quiet Side of Acadia

This summer Good Morning America named Acadia National Park “America’s Favorite Place” and people from everywhere flocked to see what the fuss was all about. We found the park much more crowded compared to our previous visits, and this led us to explore some of the quieter places on the island.

If you are visiting for the first time, places like Jordan Pond House in the National Park and The Lompoc Cafe in Bar Harbor are not to be missed.

But don’t get stuck waiting in line at the crowded downtown tourist joints. Just a short drive away from Bar Harbor and the Park Loop is a world of bakeries, restaurants, cafes, and lobster shacks that will let you taste the best of Maine without the crowds. Here are some of our favorite food discoveries from the quieter side.

TheDocksider

The Docksider is a lobster pound in Northeast Harbor with an emphasize on locally sourced, organic food. Yes, the lobster and the chowder are delicious. But this quirky and unique restaurant has more to offer than the standard seafood fare. Max had been craving meatballs and we found them here. The really surprising part? They were downright delicious. If you can’t get a table, order the food to go and take it down to the harbor where you can easily find an empty picnic table with a water view.

Little Notch Bakery

Little Notch Bakery in Southwest Harbor, with a second location in Bar Harbor, has delicious pastry, bread, and pizza. We went in for a mid-afternoon snack, but ended up sampling quite a few of the treats. Then we picked out a few loaves of bread for the rest of our trip. The staff was kind and helpful, offering hospitable smiles even after one of the boys spilled an entire smoothie on a chair cushion.

The Common Good Cafe

Our favorite discovery of the whole trip was The Common Good Cafe, which serves up popovers, oatmeal, coffee, and juice 7 days a week at no charge (donations are welcomed). This local non-profit raises money to help feed struggling folks through the hard winters in Maine. Live music by local musicians, such as the 14-piece ukelele band that mesmerized us, and a wonderful space filled with toys for the little guys made this one of the most magical experiences of our trip.

Thurston's

Thurston’s is a famous lobster pound that is off the beaten path in the small town of Bernard. Jeremy voted this the best lobster roll of our trip. The crab cakes were truly perfect…lots of crab, lots of flavor, not a lot of anything else. We have been here in previous years for dinner and it was quite crowded. At lunchtime, however, we had the entire screened-in dock to ourselves.

Mother'sKitchen

We ate lunch at Mother’s Kitchen on our last day in Acadia. If we had discovered it earlier, we probably would have been regulars during our stay. Just down the road from the Bar Harbor/Oceanside KOA, Mother’s Kitchen served classic and homey sandwiches with a twist. The Grand Banker, Lightning Strikes, and Grandpa Jack are just a few names of sandwiches made from fresh, delicious ingredients and served on crusty, perfect bread. End your meal with a cup of Crooked Porch Coffee and you should be charged up for the next hike. Hours are 10-2 pm, Monday-Friday…just as quirky as the sandwiches.

College of the Atlantic, Dining Hall

This may sound like a joke, but the best and most affordable lunch on Mount Desert Island can be found at the College of the Atlantic’s Blair Dining Hall, nicknamed “Take-a-Break” by students. All food is organic, with an emphasis on local and sustainable ingredients. Baked goods are made from scratch daily. The focus on world cuisines mean that the menu is varied and creative. After lunch, visit the admissions office and buy a t-shirt or sweatshirt for the perfect, unique souvenir. On our last trip, we showed up and found out that the cafe was closed for the week. We almost cried. But we still bought shirts.

If this trip reinforced anything we have learned from traveling, it was the importance of asking locals and other campers for recommendations. Even though this was not our first visit to Acadia National Park, we felt like we were discovering it all over again. We hope you also wander away from Bar Harbor and the Park Loop to explore the quieter side of Acadia. If you do, please let us know what you find.

07 Sep

A Perfect Day in Belfast, Maine: Exploring the MidCoast of Vacationland

This post originally appeared on The Jayco Journal. On our last trip to the MidCoast region of Maine, we explored Camden, Rockland, Lincolnville, and Boothbay. This time we ventured a bit farther north to Belfast. Boy, are we glad we did…

Over the last four years, we have had many wonderful days of camping, and a handful of perfect ones.  Our first full day of vacation in Belfast, Maine was stunning from beginning to end.  A perfect summer day if we’ve ever had one.

So here is our set of instructions for enjoying your own amazing day in Belfast, Maine.

1. Wake up early at the oceanfront Moorings RV Resort, drink in the view, and do your morning stretches.

Image2Belfast

2. Head down to the rocky beach and do some exploring.

Image3Belfast

3. Launch your kayak from the beach and enjoy the quiet, picturesque scenery of the Penobscot Bay. If you give your kids the camera, this will keep them entertained spotting loons, lobster traps, sailboats, and fish. Some of their pictures might even be pretty cool. Can you figure out which photo Theo took?

Image4Belfast

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4. Clean up and head into town to check out the beautiful playground at Belfast City Park.  With water views and a design that ties into the landscape, this place will be appreciated by the whole family. Chat with the very friendly local parents and you will know exactly what to do with the rest of your stay in Belfast.

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5. Eat lunch at the Belfast Co-op Cafe to experience great food and local culture. The soups, sandwiches, and quesadillas were phenomenal. With everything from pizza to hotdogs to vegan burritos, there is something on the menu for everyone.

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6. Walk off lunch by strolling along the Harbor Walk. This path takes you through working shipyards and across the bay on a wonderful footbridge.

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7. Shop Downtown Belfast where you can visit an olive oil tasting room, a gourmet cheese shop, the oldest shoe store in the country, or one of the well-curated book stores.

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8. Return to the campground, where just a short stroll up the hill will land you at one of the best restaurants in this area. Papa J’s has all of the standard fare you might be looking for on your trip to the Maine Coast—whole lobster, lobster rolls, and a long list of seafood options. However, this place also offers so much more. The steaks are perfectly seasoned and cooked, and we could eat the scallops appetizer every day for the rest of our lives. Our waitress told us that the lobster pizza is a runaway favorite. We will have to return to try it. An added bonus is that all campers get a 5% discount. Thank you very much.

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9. Take an evening walk on the beach and watch the moon rise over the bay.

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10. Pile on the layers for stories around the campfire. S’mores will work just fine, too.

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