Our Camping Trip At Sampson State Park

Seneca Lake at Sampson State Park

A pink glamper

Last weekend hubby and I finally went camping.  This was the very first time we have camped as a couple. We have talked about doing this for a long time  but we just never got around to it.  Sometimes it’s hard to disconnect from the busy world we live in and just let go.  I think it’s easy to convince ourselves that we either don’t have enough time or money.

Booking our trip was easy because the state parks use Reserve America, an on-line booking agent for campgrounds, marinas, and parks throughout the US.

We chose Sampson State Park for our first camping adventure and it was a great choice.  State parks are relatively inexpensive and we literally had  Seneca Lake in our very own backyard.

Seneca Lake at Sampson State Park

Sampson is located in Romulus, NY, which is in the heart of the Finger Lakes –  not too far from home for us.  While there are lot’s of things to do at the park, and in the area, we kept our activity level to a minimum this trip.  We were looking for  rest and relaxation and that’s exactly what we got.

A lot of our trip centered around consuming delicious home cooked meals. The day before our trip my husband  prepared many of our meals in advance.  He loves to cook just as I love to bake.  His menu consisted of many of our favorites – pulled pork, chicken quesadillas, homemade salad’s, spaghetti and meatballs, and of course daily cast iron skillet breakfasts.  We ate better camping than we do at home – seriously!  The key to exceptional camping food is advanced preparation and a great cook.

Homemade Pulled Pork

In between all of our  R&R and eating we found time visit to the Sampson Military Museum which is located right at the park.  This is a must do if you are a local history buff, or enjoy anything to do with maritime, aircrafts, or military history.

Sampson Military Museum

During WWII, and prior to becoming a state park,  the property housed the Sampson Navel Base from 1942-1946.  From 1950-1956, the site was converted into the Sampson Air Force Training Base.

An interesting fact; Sampson Naval Base once housed the largest naval hospital on the east coast.

The history of Sampson fascinates me.  I can’t even imagine the hustle and bustle that once existed in this rural area.

Samspon Military Museum

Aside from visiting the museum, along with many other folks, we took some time to visit the Tin Can Tourist Rally that was going on Saturday in Loop 2 of the campground.  Who can pass up gawking at vintage campers?  Not me!

As for the park itself, the sites were well kept and the restrooms literally sparkled.  Not only did they look clean, they smelled clean.  And thank goodness for the large dishwashing sinks in both the women’s and men’s restrooms because shortly after setting up camp our water pump decided to go on the fritz.

We liked the distance that we had between our neighbors.  In other words, we weren’t camping on top of each other.  The built-in fire ring was nice and we got to enjoy a great campfire on a bright starry night.  And one last reminder, this campground is pet friendly so expect to hear a few barking dog on occasion.  Hence, the reason we didn’t take our dog along.

This was a GREAT first camping trip.  I am already thinking about our next adventure.  My husband just asked me, “where next?” That my friends is a good question.  So many state parks; so many choices.


The Happy Campers!

Chocolate Chip Cookie Bars For Glamping

Homemade Cookie Bars Recipe

It won’t be long and hubby and I will be off camping, or glamping (glamorous camping) as I prefer to call it.

We’ll be living it up in our pink and white camper decorated with throw rugs and a real (small) mattress covered with lots of comfy blankets and pillows.  Other amenities include a private and very cute cedar bathroom, a mini fridge/freezer that will be packed full of home-cooked food and wine, and a single serve coffee brewer that produces coffee quick on demand.  True glamping necessities!

Cute vintage camper remodel








Glamper Bathroom










Of course there is rain in the forecast which comes as absolutely no surprise to me.  Did I ever tell you about my camping trips as a Girl Scout?  There was actually one trip where I thought we might need to build an ark in order to survive!

In preparation for this trip hubby and I have made a list of things to bring, and things to do.  This list plays on both our strengths and weaknesses.  For example, cooking appears on his list, while baking appears on mine.  Just as making sure the lights are working properly on the camper is on his, while making sure the bed is made nice and cozy is on mine.

Most of my baking has been done in advance and it’s now stored in the freezer.  We are hoping to make this as trip as easy and effortless as possible – I’ll let you know how that works out.

In the meantime, here is one of the recipes I prepared for our adventure.  These bars are loaded with mini-chocolate chips.  They taste great with a cup of coffee, a cold glass of milk, or under a scoop of vanilla ice cream.  Your choice!

Homemade Cookie Bars Recipe








Chocolate Chip Cookie Bars

Serves 12
Prep time 15 minutes
Cook time 25 minutes
Total time 40 minutes
Allergy Egg, Wheat
Meal type Dessert, Snack
Occasion Barbecue, Casual Party
These chocolate chip cookie bars are easy to make and make a great snack or dessert for camping or gatherings.


  • 2 Small eggs
  • 1/2 cup butter (melted)
  • 1/2 cup brown sugar
  • 1/2 cup granulated sugar
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 2 tsp teaspoons vanilla
  • 2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 cup mini-chocolate chips


Step 1
Preheat oven to 325 degrees. Lightly grease 9x11 baking pan with non-stick cooking spray and then line pan with parchment paper. Lightly spray parchment paper with non-stick cooking spray.
Step 2
In large mixing bowl, mix together melted butter, eggs, sugars, baking soda, salt, and vanilla.
Step 3
Beat in flour until thoroughly mixed. Fold in chocolate chips.
Step 4
Pour batter into prepared pan and bake about 25 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted into the center comes out clean.
Step 5
Cool before cutting. Store in airtight container.

Mini chocolate chips make these bars tasty








A recipe from The Joy of Caking











You know you can always use different flavors of chips in these too!

So, tell me, have you ever camped?  Was it fun or a disaster?



Edging Toward Fall

Zinnias and beautiful fall flowers









Can you believe that we are into September already?  Yes, we are edging toward fall!  Are you ready?  I may be a little ready for it, but I’m certainly not prepared for what comes after.

I  think purchasing some of the first apples of the season is a sign that you might be a little ready for the fall.  I did this last weekend and I’ve got to tell you that they are delicious this year; a huge contrast from last years crop.  Yay!  That means lots of applesauceCrockpot apple crisp, and mini apple pies.  I took it with my cell phone and shared on my Instagram.

!st Apples of the Season








Speaking of baking, I  admit that I have been feeling a tad bit guilty this week because I haven’t baked anything to share in some time.  I have really wanted to make a pie but that hasn’t happened.   I’m promising you as soon as we get cooler temperatures I’ll make one and share the recipe.  I am hoping to make a grape pie or (two) this year.  I love this recipe for Concord Grape Tart shared by Anne the blog My Sweet Heart. It looks delicious too!

I also found a candle (Sonoma) at Kohl’s which smells so good.  I bought two of them, one for our glamper, and the other for our home.  I dare say this is my new favorite fall fragrance – it’s called Pumpkin Harvest. (Not a sponsored post or link) Just pure love!

Fall Fragranace 2015









And while I am edging toward the fall, I am not quite ready to let summer go without a trip to the Great NYS Fair which is in full swing until September 7th.

I am eager to share the highlights of our camping trip – so stayed tuned for more on that too.  Our last hurrah this summer!

Are you ready for fall?  Or are you digging your heals in the summer sand and protesting the change in seasons?

The Tin Can Tourists Are Coming to the Finger Lakes Region – September 2015

The 8th annual Northeast Tin Can Tourists Rally is coming to Sampson State Park in Seneca County, New York, from September 10th through the 13th.

On Saturday, the 12th, between (approximately) 11AM and 3PM the owners of these vintage campers will open their doors so the public can ooh and ah over them.

If you like vintage as much as I do, you’ll probably love this event!  An entire loop of the campground is reserved for members of the Tin Can Tourists but you’ll likely see vintage campers in the other loops too.

I went to this fun event in 2012 and 2013 and shared the highlights of both occasions here on my blog.  Be sure to check out my first post here, and my second post here.  I took loads of pictures that I shared in both posts.  If you find a particular photo that you like then please feel free to share it on one or all of your social media venues.

Tin Can Tourists Rally 2013 Sampson State Park

2012 Tin Can Tourist Rally - Sampson State Park

This is a great way to step back in time for a day and enjoy the beginning of autumn here in the Finger Lakes!

Country Favorite Molasses Cookies

Black Strap Molasses Cookie

Three molasses cookie recipes later.  Could this really be “the one”?

Black Strap Molasses Cookie







Yes!!  This is the one.

I’ve posted three other molasses cookie recipes here at The Joy of Caking and each of the cookies are all very good.  Each cookie has a distinct texture, and all are equally tasty, but this new recipe is (currently) my all-time favorite.

Check out these recipes and photo’s to see which cookie get’s your undivided attention.

Old-Fashioned Molasses Cookies

Through Thick and Thin – A Molasses Cookie Recipe

Fresh Baked Molasses Cookies

I’ve never denied being fickle where cookie recipes are concerned  – just in case you’re wondering.

Country Favorite Molasses Cookies

Serves 24
Prep time 15 minutes
Cook time 8 minutes
Total time 23 minutes
Allergy Egg, Wheat
Meal type Dessert, Snack
Misc Freezable
A soft and deliciously flavored molasses cookie. Great for a snack, dessert, or cookie exchange.


  • 3/4 cups granulated sugar
  • 1/4 cup brown sugar
  • 1/2 cup butter (softened)
  • 1 Large egg (beaten)
  • 1/2 cup black strap molasses
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 2 teaspoons baking soda
  • 1 teaspoon cinnamon
  • 1/2 teaspoon ginger
  • 3 cups flour
  • 1/2 cup granulated sugar (set aside)


Step 1
Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Line two large cookie sheets with parchment paper.
Step 2
In a large bowl, cream together sugars, butter, eggs, and molasses.
Step 3
Add salt, baking soda, cinnamon and ginger. Mix in flour 1 cup at a time.
Step 4
Grease hands with non-stick cooking spray and shape dough into 1 inch balls and roll in granulated sugar. Place on prepared cookie sheets. Bake for about 8 minutes until cookies are light golden brown and slightly firm to the touch.
Step 5
Cool slightly and move to baking rack. Store in airtight container


Let me know which recipe looks like it would be your favorite!

create & share

The Best Zucchini Bread – EVER!

Zucchini bread topped with cinnamon & sugar and light in texture

I’ve been busy this week stretching my time between work, more work, hoeing out for a yard sale, and planning our FIRST EVER CAMPING TRIP with the PINK PARADISE.

It won’t be long and we’ll officially be christening the camper that we’ve worked so hard to rehabilitate.   Our reservations are booked!  There really is such a fun energy that comes with planning a trip.  Especially one that is long overdue!

The Best Ever Zucchini Bread

In my not so spare time, I baked something special to share with all of you too. If you like zucchini bread then I can almost promise you that you’re going to love this recipe!  And if you don’t like zucchini bread, then I can almost promise you that you’re going to love this recipe!  This is a moist bread but the texture is lighter than most recipes.  The cinnamon & sugar topping makes it extra special too.  However, the only way you’re going to know that for sure is to make some for yourselves.

I have made up my mind that this will be my “go to zucchini bread recipe” from this day forward.

Zucchini Bread, The Best Ever!

Serves 2
Prep time 20 minutes
Cook time 50 minutes
Total time 1 hours, 10 minutes
Allergy Egg
Meal type Bread, Breakfast, Dessert, Side Dish, Snack
Misc Freezable
A light textured zucchini bread that's topped off with a great tasting cinnamon & sugar mixture.


  • 3 Large eggs
  • 2/3 cups olive oil
  • 1 cup brown sugar
  • 1 cup granulated sugar
  • 2 2/3 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/4 teaspoon baking powder
  • 3 teaspoons cinnamon
  • 3 teaspoons vanilla extract
  • 2 cups zucchini (peeled & grated)


Step 1
Preheat oven to 325 degrees. Grease and flour two 5x7 pans.
Step 2
In a large bowl, beat eggs, sugars, and oil.
Step 3
Add salt, baking soda, baking powder, cinnamon, vanilla, and flour; mix thoroughly. Fold in zucchini.
Step 4
Pour into prepared pans. Bake for about 45-50 minutes, or until a toothpick comes out clean when inserted into the center of each loaf.
Step 5
While warm, sprinkle tops of loaves with prepared cinnamon & sugar mixture. Cool before removing from pans.

Did you know that you can grate zucchini and freeze it?  If you have a recipe that you know calls for a specific amount of grated zucchini like this one does, just package accordingly to make thawing and use easier.

Delicious Zucchini Bread

create & share

Summer Fruit Medley Sorbet

Low fat frozen fruit sorbet

Peaches and Blueberries
















Here in the Finger Lakes Region we have had some beautiful weather the last couple weeks and it has actually felt like summer should.

Every summer I promise myself that I’ll spend more time soaking up the sun and enjoying dinner on our deck,  sit under the open sky roasting marshmallows over an evening campfire, make impromptu trips to one of the two nearby lakes, scour more yards sales than I did the summer before (and have my own yard sale), complete projects around the house, keep my flowerbeds weeded better,  take the Pink Paradise camping, and pick loads of fresh fruit and make jam to carry us through the winter months.

So far, I’ve done pretty good at keeping my promises to myself but I have to admit I haven’t weeded my flowers because for whatever reason, they’ve become snake infested – yuk!!  If anyone knows how to peacefully get rid of snakes PLEASE let me know.   The other thing I haven’t done is camp in the Pink Paradise.  And that my friends is another story for another day.  It involves heavy spring rains and a serious and unexpected leak.

Have you kept the summertime promises you’ve made to yourselves?

One more housekeeping detail before I share this great low-fat, low-calorie recipe. Many of you have asked for a way to print my recipes without a lot of aggravation.  Well, I have finally found a recipe plugin that I’m giving a try.  I’m still working out the kinks so  I ask for your patience and understanding while I get acquainted with this new plugin called  GetMeCooking.   Please let me know what you think.  As you know, I love feedback!

Low fat frozen fruit sorbet









Today’s recipe was inspired by two things; warm summer temperatures and ripe fruit.  If you have ripe fruit sitting around and you aren’t sure what to do with it – think sorbet.

Summer Fruit Medley Sorbet

Serves 6
Prep time 2 hours, 15 minutes
Dietary Gluten Free, Vegan, Vegetarian
Meal type Dessert, Snack, Starter
Misc Freezable, Pre-preparable, Serve Cold
A summer fruit medley sorbet made with ripe peaches and blueberries with a touch of cherry and lemon juice. A perfect frozen low-calorie dessert.


  • 1/2 cup water
  • 3 tablespoons granulated sugar
  • 2 tablespoons lemon juice
  • 2 tablespoons maraschino cherry juice
  • 2 Large ripe peaches (peeled and sliced)
  • 1 cup blueberries


Step 1
In a large saucepan add water, sugar, and juices. Heat until sugar is completely dissolved.
Step 2
Remove from heat and cool slightly.
Step 3
Puree fruit in blender or food processor and add to simple sugar mixture.
Step 4
Place in your ice cream maker and follow manufacturers instructions.
Step 5
Freeze until firm before serving.

Now tell me, could you pass up a refreshing dish of this sorbet?

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Purple, white and yellow flowers










Raw Swiss Chard Salad With Raspberry Vinaigrette Dressing

Raw Swiss Chard Salad

Raw Swiss Chard Salad Swiss Chard Salad

This  year hubby and I did not plant a garden like we’ve been doing for the last umpteen years.  Our attempts at gardening over the past few years have proved rather fruitless.  Or should I say vegetable-less…

It has gone something like this; too much sun, too much rain, too many bugs, too many weeds, too much blight, and not enough veggies!  Why bother?

And with all that said, I have a confession.  I MISS OUR GARDEN!

So, you can imagine how happy I was when a new acquaintance of ours offered us an armful of Swiss chard from her beautiful raised vegetable beds.  Pure delight!

To be honest, when I accepted this bounty of fresh leafy greens I didn’t even know if I liked chard, but I figured that hubby and I have enough cooking creativity between the two of us that we could make good use out of this beautiful, rich in vitamin A, C, and K vegetable.

My new acquaintance suggested cooking the chard in a little olive oil and garlic, but once we tasted it, we decided that we’d go raw with our first dish and we were both happy we did.

As hubby went outside to grill a pork tenderloin he left me in charge of the salad making.  Trusting guy isn’t he!

I have to admit that I did not measure a single thing when I made this salad.   I just threw in a little of this and that.  That’s what makes cooking fun!

Chard and Iceberg Lettuce Salad

If your ready to make this healthy and super tasty salad here’s what you’ll need.

Swiss chard, iceberg lettuce, dried cherries, toasted pecans, roasted sunflower seeds, mild blue cheese, and raspberry vinaigrette salad dressing.

Chop the chard and iceberg lettuce up and put it in a large salad bowl.  Sprinkle some dried cherries, toasted pecans, and roasted sunflower seeds on the greens.  Grate some mild blue cheese into the salad. (I used, and absolutely love, Castello Noble Blue) and toss in your favorite raspberry vinaigrette dressing.  This is not a sponsored post for Castello.  It’s just another love of mine.

This salad is awesome!  It’s light and flavorful and it will leave you wanting just one more bite.  The iceberg is a little sweeter than the Swiss chard so they compliment each other well.  We ate every last morsel in the bowl and I can’t wait to make another salad.

At this rate, I’m not sure we will get around to preparing the Swiss chard any other way, but if we do, I’ll be sure to share that recipe with you too.

Raw Swiss chard salad

A perfect salad with grilled meat

With tasty salads like these who needs dessert?

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The Easiest Blueberry Crisp Recipe on Earth

blueberry crisp collage

Blueberries, Blueberry Crisp, Recipe, Baking

This weekend, on somewhat of a whim, I decided I’d like to pick some fresh blueberries.  I love picking fruit because it settles my busy mind.  Maybe it’s because you’re breathing fresh country air when you pick fruit, you’re under wide open blue skies and sunshine (if you’re lucky), and when you’re all done, you see progress.   I’ve always warned you I’m a simple girl. Black and White Photo, Blueberries, Blueberries in a Bowl

As it turned out, we picked berries at Luce Blueberry Farm on Hall Road in Ovid, NY.  I was super impressed with the simplicity of their berry picking operation, how welcomed the Mrs. Luce (I suspect) made us feel, how well maintained the field with all the blueberry bushes was kept, the fact that they had a porta potti should the need arise, and the spectacular view of Seneca Lake.  The only thing that was missing was a picnic lunch which I should have had with wits about me to pack but didn’t.

The funny thing about picking berries is that when you’ve picked your lot, and you’re headed out to pay,  it’s nearly impossible to leave.  You are continually tempted by one more juicy plump berry that you missed the first time around.  And so, you pick your way back to the beginning and your bucket gets fuller by the minute.  I had to practically drag my husband out of the field because he was clearly addicted at that point.   I had a similar experience a few years ago picking apples with my father in-law, and when you’re paying by the pound,  apples weigh a lot more than blueberries.  YIKES!

Colorful Blueberries, Blue

I had originally thought I would make a blueberry pie with my stash of fresh picked berries.  It’s been eons since I’ve made a pie!  However, when I got home I realized that my vegetable shorting had gone bad.  See, I told you eons.

So instead of making a pie I decided a nice blueberry crisp would suffice.  And boy did it!

This recipe is for the Easiest Blueberry Crisp Recipe on Earth.  I found it in The Blueberry Cookbook which was compiled by area residents of the Michigan Blueberry Growers Association and the North American Blueberry Council.  The only thing I did to this recipe was change the title of the recipe which was simply Blueberry Crisp.

Here is what you’ll need, and the instructions.

Serves 6

4 c. fresh blueberries

1/3 c. granulated sugar

2 tsp. lemon juice

4 tbsp. butter

1/3 c. brown sugar

1/3 c. all-purpose flour (sifted if you prefer – I didn’t)

3/4 c. quick cooking oats ( I used old-fashioned oats)

Place blueberries in a 1 1/2 quart baking dish.  Sprinkle the white sugar and lemon juice over the berries.  In a separate bowl, mix butter and brown sugar together.  Blend in flour and oats.  Spread topping over blueberries.  Bake in 375 degree oven for about 40 minutes.

Fresh Blueberries with sugar on top

Now this blueberry crisp might be the easiest on earth, but the taste is out of this world!

Homemade Blueberry Crisp made with fresh picked berries

Oh, and don’t forget the vanilla ice cream…

The Country Cook Weekend

One Rise Cinnamon Roll Recipe – Perfect for Sunday Breakfast

Frosted Cinnamon Rolls








Nothing is more inviting than fresh baked cinnamon rolls for breakfast on a Sunday morning.

Anything that involves something other than a half of bagel, a yogurt, or a bowl of oatmeal qualifies as a special breakfast treat to me, and these are definitely a treat!

This recipe produces delicious soft rolls that only require one rise.  Meaning, that you will probably able to produce them in a little over an hour if you get busy and have limited distractions.

Frosted Cinnamon Rolls







And what’s better, these rolls can be mixed up by hand and the dough is easy to handle.

One Rise Cinnamon Rolls (adapted from Gimme Me Some Oven)

Spray a 7″x9″ rectangle baking dish with non-stick cooking spray.


1 c. milk (I used skim)

3 tbsp. butter, plus 3 tbsp. softened butter set aside

2 tbsp. granulated sugar

2 1/4 tsp. yeast

1/2 tsp. salt

1 egg, beaten

3 1/2 cups all-purpose flour, set 1/2 c. aside

Cinnamon & Sugar Mixture

1/2 c. granulated sugar

1 tsp. cinnamon

Mix together and set aside.

Frosting (can be made while the rolls are baking)

Confectioners sugar

Half & half cream

1 tsp. vanilla extract

3 tbsp. butter, softened

To make the dough, melt 3 tbsp. butter in a small sauce pan; add milk and heat on low until just luke warm.  Pour into a large mixing bowl: add sugar, salt, and yeast.  Mix in egg and flour.  Stir until completely mixed and dough doesn’t stick to the sides of the bowl.

Knead dough on a lightly floured surface using the 1/2 c. of remaining flour.  Roll dough into a large rectangle about 1/4 inch thick.  Brush softened butter on top of the dough. Sprinkle prepared cinnamon & sugar mixture over top.

Starting with the shortest side of the dough roll into a log.  Using a sharp knife cut rolls about 1 1/4″ thick.  Place in prepared pan and cover with dish towel. Let rolls rise for about 30 minutes.  Preheat oven to 350 degrees while rolls are rising.   Bake for about 15-17 minutes.  Remove from the oven and cool.

Prepare the frosting.   I never measure the sugar or cream.  Put the softened butter and vanilla in a bowl and start alternating and mixing the sugar and cream  until the frosting is the consistency you are looking for.  In the case of these rolls, I wanted the frosting to be a little thicker so I could slather it on them.

Cinnamon Rolls - Just Frosted







Can you think of a better treat for Sunday mornings?

The Country Cook Weekend Potluck