Recipe For Success: Rachelle Lucas, a.k.a. @TravelBlggr, a freelance writer, videographer and spokesperson with a focus on travel, food and social media who believes the best way to learn about a destination is through its flavors.

MLRT: What’s on your bucket list?
Rachelle: I have so many things on my bucket list!  It seems when I cross one off, I add two more.  Professionally, I want to publish a cookbook of all my favorite travel recipes.  As for conquering fears … learning to SCUBA is on the list (I’m a bit claustrophobic).  And for travel, my list is a mile long.  But my top three bucket list destinations are Thailand, Ice Hotel in Sweden, and Machu Picchu in Peru.

MLRT: Best Travel Tip
Rachelle: As much as you might plan, there are so many things that are unpredictable in travel that I’d say the best tip is to be flexible and enjoy the journey.

MLRT: Your favorite recipe?
Rachelle: My all time favorite recipe from my travels is a simple one: Limoncello.   It’s crisp, refreshing, reminds me of Italy, and makes a great gift.  Plus, it’s so easy to make!  As for my personal recipes, it would have to be champagne and wild mushroom risotto.  Mmm.  I should invite y’all over for Italian night at my house.  Here’s the the menu … (I’d serve with panko crusted chicken breast or grilled halibut) … The recipe came from a kitchen towel I found at the open air market in Sorrento.


1 liter water
1 liter alcohol (Vodka is best)
4  cups sugar
8 lemons

Peel lemons and place peels in hermetically sealed container with alcohol to infuse with flavor for a minimum of 4 days.After 4 days, make a syrup by bringing 1 liter of water to a boil and adding the 4 cups of sugar.  Once syrup has cooled, blend the alcohol infusion with the syrup.Mix and then let it sit for 10 to 20 minutes.Pour limoncello through filter or sieve into a glass bottle and chill. Serve very cold.

Champagne Risotto with Wild Mushrooms

2 cups chicken stock
3 cups champagne8 oz brie (without the rind)
2 oz dried wild mushrooms (black trumpet pictured above)
3 tablespoons olive oil
1 medium white onion, diced
2 cloves garlic
2 tablespoons Italian seasoning
1 tablespoon truffle salt
2 tablespoons butter
2 cups short grain rice (Arborio is best)
1) Add champagne to a medium saucepan.  In a deep skillet, add chicken stock, brie and dried mushrooms.  Let simmer at medium heat until the brie is completely melted.  Allow the mushrooms to reconstitute (about 15 to 20 minutes) then remove mushrooms and set aside.
2) Heat 1 tablespoon of olive oil in a non-stick skillet and add garlic, onions, spices, and a pinch of truffle salt.  Saute until onions are clear and starting to brown. Remove from pan and set aside in a separate bowl.  Add remaining 2 tablespoons of olive oil to skillet and then add the rice.  Toast the rice until it is well coated in oil appears almost clear in color.
3) With a ladle or measuring cup, add one cup of warm chicken stock mixture, pour into rice and stir until absorbed.  Then, using a cup or ladle add one cup warm champagne to rice and stir until absorbed.  Make sure the rice has absorbed all liquid before adding more.  Repeat this process of adding liquid and stirring until all of chicken stock is gone. This slow cooking process keeps the grains from splitting so the rice is creamy, not mushy.
4) Transfer the mushrooms and onions to the rice mixture and stir together.  Sprinkle on remaining truffle salt.Serve fresh grated Parmesan or Pecorino Romano cheese on the side.  For a meal, I suggest serving with panko encrusted chicken breast or halibut and broccoli.

MLRT: Best vacation you ever had?
Rachelle: The best vacation I ever had was 8 days in Costa Rica.  I stayed at an eco resort in the rain forest on the eastern side just south of Limon.  There were no computers, no cell phones, just the sound of the jungle and a hammock for perpetual napping.  It was a complete digital detox and have never left a vacation more relaxed.

MLRT: If you could meet anyone, past or present, who would it be?
Rachelle: Tough question!  Right now, after seeing an interview on Sunday Morning, Betty White.  She has an infectious smile, a great outlook on life and is still happy and active at age 89.  Plus, she gave some hilarious travel advice with her quote, “Oh, I don’t need sleep.  I just went to my hotel and had a cold hot dog and vodka on the rocks.:

MLRT: Best use of social media for Travel
Rachelle:Definitely finding recommendations from locals.  Where ever I travel to, I always ask for advice on Twitter for the best restaurants and places to stay.  Locals know best.  Just hashtag the city name and you’re sure to get some responses.


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