It’s that time of year here on Chincoteague. When a friend or neighbor will knock on your door, and present you with a Ziploc bag full of freshly caught scallops, soft shell crabs, drum fish, shrimp…whatever happens to be good on the docks or our little roadside seafood markets that day. It’s pretty much my favorite time of year on our little island, aside from Pony Penning…

So when my BFF stopped by last week with these gorgeous scallops, it made me feel one step closer to full-blown summer. I’d also happened to restock my supply of Geechie Boy grits last week too. While shrimp & grits is a regular on our menu this time of year, I thought – why not scallops instead?

Seasoned them simply with some of my homemade seasoning salt and pepper, gave them a quick sear. Happened to some fresh spinach on hand that needed to be used, so I sauteed that with a little bit of garlic and champagne vinegar – which did a great job of deglazing the pan and bringing all that awesome flavor into the dish. I think kale or chard would also be wonderful in place of the spinach!

The grits are a perfect accompaniment, because they kind of take care of themselves on the stove while you get the scallops squared away. Also, grits are so versatile when it comes to different flavors. I wanted something with a little bit of a coastal twist – so I stirred in some Old Bay right before serving. Life changing, ya’ll…

Served with a lovely local Rosé and a salad, it was the perfect way to break-in dinners on the back porch season for us! 

Margaritas just happen to be my favorite cocktail. Fresh citrus, tequila, and triple sec – they sing in a perfect symphony. A symphony that adapts well to a newcomer in the mix. Like, ripe juicy mango for instance…

Gotta throw up props for this margaritas simplicity. While I usually have to make a fruit-based simple syrup for many of my fruit margs, which is little bit more time consuming – this one involves dumping in a bag of frozen mango chunks, some margarita mix, a little mango nectar, and your booze. Blend. Drink. Repeat.

Now, I’m a margarita on the rocks kinda gal, not usually into this frozen hulabaloo. However, I consider this a game changer. It was like drinking a fresh mango – it has that thicker mouth feel that mango lends. Even the husband, who isn’t into tequila, enjoyed it. I know ya’ll will too!

This recipe makes about 4 big margaritas, perfect for summer entertaining or a girls night get-together.

Shoutout to the good folks at Drizly for sponsoring this post. Did you guys know you can have pretty much any spirit you’ve ever desired delivered right to your door these days? Wonders of technology. They’ve got all kinds of great recipes too. Be sure to check them out!

Disclaimer: This post is sponsored by the good folks at Drizly. As always, all thoughts and opinions are my own.

Lavender. I’ve always been a fan. Sure, it’s always been around in the bath salts and body lotions. And, you’d have to be living under a rock if you haven’t heard about it’s aromatherapy benefits. But lately I’ve noticed it popping in all kinds of culinary applications – of both sweet and savory varieties. This wickedly good lavender lemonade has been a favorite for a while now, but  have found myself wanting more…

I’ve been adding dried lavender to my tea ball that’s filled with my favorite Earl Grey blend, which creates an awesome cup of tea for afternoon sipping on the front porch. Naturally, since I’m always thinking about food,  I found myself daydreaming about a light tea cookie that mimicked the flavors in my cup.

And I got to thinking about shortbreads. A personal favorite of mine because they’re so easy. The dough is easy to bring together, it’s easy to make ahead and come back to later – as it requires a bit of chilling time, and it’s easy to have fun and play with the flavor combinations. So, I went with that. And, it was a winner!

To this batch I added a dose of local honey and dried lavender flowers. They baked up beautifully, with just enough lavender flavor. It’s easy to go overboard with it, trust me! The specks of lavender were visible in the cookies once baked, which I really loved. And the aroma…just heavenly. Next time around I might try adding a touch of lemon zest for a little zing!

Source: adapted from The Baker Upstairs

So, this sous-vide thing…have you heard of it? Yes? No? Maybe? When asked to describe it, I tell people that I like to think of it as a really bad ass Crockpot. Basically, you season your cut of beef and then vaccum seal it – it’s then plopped in a water bath held at a precise temperature by the doohickey called the immersion circulator. So, the item comes to just the perfect temperature for whatever it is…then, is held there until you’re ready to serve it.

I first learned of this method of preparation years ago, back in my religious watching of Top Chef days. Back then, this method of “cooking” was reserved for fancy chefs in fancy kitchens…as the apparatus required was super expensive.

Well, times they are a changin’ – and you can get a pretty decent model for $100 on Amazon, if you keep your eyes peeled for a sale. They’re about the size of a large curling iron, so are convenient for storage sakes. And then for the water bath, all you need is a large stockpot. It clips right to the side – bada bing!

And time isn’t an issue. In fact, tough cuts like this eye of round benefit from a long cook cycle. I did this one for 24 hours. The connective tissue has time to break down, creating a roast that can be cut with a fork…but the roast still stays rare. It’s really quite mind-blowing.

After it’s soaked for the appropriate amount of time, a quick sear in a raging hot cast iron skillet is in order. I’ve also turned to my trusty kitchen torch, which is always handy in the kitchen. The grill is also an option – but again, just make sure it’s REALLY hot. Just a couple of minutes on each side, to give  it a little color.

I like doing large roasts, like this entire eye of the round – or a pork loin. We’ll enjoy it for dinner one night…then reinvent the leftovers all week in different dishes. Perfect for this time of year when we’re scooting out the door to baseball practice or some other obligation that fills the schedule up every week!

So, if you’re on the fence about one – I say do it! I got mine a couple of Christmases ago, and have just really gotten into using it in the past couple of months. It really is so versatile. I don’t even want to tell you what it can do for a poached egg. Life changing.