Road Trip with Toyota and Lexus * Camp Gathering-Vermont * Sweet Ride 2015

Over the river and through the woods we all went on a road trip to Vermont. This past April a few food and travel bloggers gathered in Stowe, Vermont for Camp Gathering- Vermont. Paul Lowe of Sweet Paul Magazine, James Anthony of the Phoenician Flea, Brandy of The Nutmeg Nanny, Gina Matsoukas of Running to the Kitchen, Sha' Atwater and myself, April Atwater from Sweet & Simple Magazine had the chance to drive some sweet 2015 Lexus and Toyota vehicles. The Toyota and Lexus brands are some of my favorite and these beauties keep up with the quality and luxury we've come to expect.

{photo from Sweet Paul Magazine Instagram} 

Paul and James drove the 2015 Lexus RX 350 up to Stowe, Vermont from Brooklyn, New York 

"James and I were so happy with our Lexus, made the long drive such a pleasure.

We actually said it was like driving on butter, it was so smooth"

Paul Lowe
Sweet Paul Magazine

A few of the luxury extras we love for the road trip includes the beautiful wood detailing interior option.
Little luxuries go a long way on a road trip. In April the weather in New England can go from hot to cold at a moments notice. Having heated and cooled seats on both the drive and passengers side makes it extra comfortable. The remote touch interface even makes listening to your favorite tunes or planning your navigation a luxurious experience.  

Lots of room for your travel gear in it's versatile cargo area. This crossover is the top of the premium brands in our book. As Paul said "It's like driving on butter!"

Brandy and Gina drove up to Vermont from Poughkeepsie is the 2015 Toyota Highlander.

"I loved using the Toyota Highlander because it was roomy, had awesome features and was super comfortable for our road trip. I was so sad when I had to give it back because I loved driving it so much. In fact a few weeks later I even made my husband go test drive a Highlander because I'm in the market for a new car!"
Brandy O'Neill
The Nutmeg Nanny

"Loved so many features of the Toyota Highlander, specifically the Bluetooth integration and smart dash display. It drove like a car, not an SUV and made the winding roads of Vermont fun to drive!"
Gina Matsoukas
Running to the Kitchen

There is sky for miles and a great view of the beautiful Green Mountains of Vermont when road tripping in the 2015 Toyota Highlander with a full panoramic sunroof.
With seating for up to 8, quite interior and rear-seat entertainment system getting friends together for a road trip is fun all around.

The climate control, turn by turn navigation, blue tooth and multi-talented tech features make you feel at easy when you are driving the the winding roads of upstate New York and Vermont. They are perfect for driving around town too.

If you are looking for comfort and great has millage the 2015 Toyota Avalon Hybrid is for you. Not only does it offer great back seat foot space the seats are comfortable.

The gas mileage is 40/39. You can get some serious road tripping done with this kind of fuel efficiency. We only stopped to get gas once the entire week we drove the Avalon and covered most of Northern Vermont in that week.

The multi information display just past the steering wheel in the gauge cluster let us know many mile we had left on our tank of gas, what our average fuel economy was on the trip and if we where in eco or sports mode. This information is important when driving the back roads on Vermont when you don't know when your next gas station will be coming up.
I also like the blue light. It's easy on the eyes when driving at night.

If you're like me you have at least two drinks with you on the road. I keep an ice water and often a real sugar Dr. Pepper or a coffee on hand. I love the space in the doors for my water bottle and center drink holders for both the driver and passenger.
I always use a center arm rest when driving long distances. It one of the first things I noticed once I start driving. The Avalon has a nicely placed adjustable center arm rest.

The exterior detailing of smarter aerodynamics of the Avalon is designed for minimum wind noise and a smoother ride. We loved driving the 2015 Toyota Avalon. It's on my list of favorite 2015 vehicles.

Pear Galette Recipe * Food & Drink

The first time I made a galette was in my high school foreign foods class. Galettes are close to pie more rustic and slightly easier to make. The free form crust is a bit thicker but still as flaky and good as a pie crust. Our Pear Galette has a surprise ingredient that brings out the flavor or the pears. It's orange! We included fresh orange juice and orange zest in the crust as well as in the filling. It's a bright fresh flavor perfect for a summer evening dessert. If you are lucky enough to have a outdoor brick oven this galette is a great dessert to bake in it. Serve it topped with creme fraiche and a tall glass of iced coffee or milk. I might have also had it for breakfast the next morning.

Pear Galette Recipe


  • 1 1/3 cups unbleached flour
  • 1/2 teaspoon of sea salt
  • 1/2 cup of fresh cream butter
  • 1 large egg
  • 1 tablespoon of heavy cream
  • juice of 1 orange
  • zest of 1 orange

In a food processor combine ingredients on the pulse setting. Once the mixture forms small pea sized balls pulse mix just until the dough comes all together. Do not over mix. 
Form into a disk, cover with parchment paper and place in the fridge for 2 hours or in the freezer for 30 minutes. 

  • 3 cups of sliced pears
  • 1/2 cup of sugar
  • 2 tablespoons of corn starch
  • 1/ teaspoon of sea salt
  • 1/ teaspoon of ginger powder
  • juice of 1 orange
  • zest of 1 orange

In a medium mixing bowl add all ingredients. Toss together until pears are covered. Set aside in fridge. 

Toss some flour on counter and roll out crust dough into a large circle. Place a sheet of parchment paper on baking sheet. Place dough on parchment paper. In the center of the dough add filling. Fold up sides. Pour remaining juices on top of filling.  Sprinkle sugar to the top of the crust.
Bake at 400 degrees for about 35-40 minutes until crust is golden.

Don't worry if some of your juices spill out of your galette. It will still turn out perfectly baked and delicious. 

Serve warm or cold. Top with creme fraiche.

National Ice Cream Day * Homemade Chocolate Syrup Recipe * Food & Drink

Have you ever tried making homemade chocolate syrup for your chocolate milk, chocolate milkshakes or ice cream sundaes? Is a super easy recipe. You only need five ingredients to make it. You most likely have these five ingredients already in your pantry. I like that I know what is in the syrup. It's better than Hershey's. Enjoy!

Homemade Chocolate Syrup 

  • 1 Cup Cocoa Powder
  • 1 1/2 Cup Water
  • 1 1/2 Cup Sugar
  • 1 Teaspoon Pure Vanilla Extract
  • 1/4 Teaspoon Sea Salt
In a  heavy bottom saucepan combine all ingredients. Using a whisk mix together. Continue to mix until sugar is dissolved. Bring to a simmer then remove from heat. 

Serve warm or cool if desired. Store in an airtight container in the fridge for up to 1 week. 

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