One of my favorite things in this world is a soft chewy pretzel. Sadly, most of the pretzels you find commercially these days are just sub-par excuses for what a pretzel should be – doughy twists of sadness. Sure, they’re edible dunked in mustard or cheese sauce, but I’m trying to live my best life y’all. Life is too short to eat shitty pretzels.

I’d made pretzel buns a few years ago, and they were surprisingly easy. Not to mention that they turned out absolutely delicious, and gorgeous. I was worried about the whole boiling process, but it was no big thing  – it’s as easy as cooking pasta.

These pretzel bites use the same process. There isn’t much rising time for the dough, so they can be made in a relatively short timeframe – perfect for snacking/munching/party purposes. They’re addicting, and you can’t help but eat “just one more”.

Then, there’s the sauce. Beer and cheese are awesome together to begin with, but in liquid form – kicked up with a little mustard and Old Bay? Pure heaven in a bowl. Do yourself a favor and pick up a six-pack on your way home one night soon, make these pretzels, and enjoy someone’s company – or Netflix and your couch. No judgement.

Source: adapted from Sally’s Baking Addiction

Did you guys know that March 9th is National Crab Day? It’s true. So, while I’m counting down the days until I’ll be taking the back road to Saxis to buy a bushel of #1’s right off the boat, we’re not quite there yet. Nevertheless,I still wanted to mark the occasion here on the blog by sharing some crab-centric recipe recipe with you guys.

Now, it’s a well known fact that folks here on the Eastern Shore will put Old Bay on just about darned near anything and everything. In fact, I think it’s probably a part of my blood content at this point in my life. My dad had me dipping crabs in vinegar spiked with Old Bay as far back as I can remember, probably even before I started on solid foods. Heh. And, the apple doesn’t fall far from the tree.

Whether it’s a more traditional application of the seasoning – like steamed blue crabs or succulent steamed shrimp. To something a little more unconventional- like sprinkled on top of a creamy potato salad or a Chesapeake Bloody Mary. Or maybe by adding a subtle spicy twist to a batch of your homemade caramel corn…

I happen to adore salty and sweet combos to begin with. But add in a little spicy kick with a few savory notes going on (I’m looking at you celery seed),  and you really have something quite phenomenal going on.

I’m going to be making batches of this all summer long to take out on the boat with us for our fishing trips and beach days. It stays good for a few weeks if kept fresh in an airtight container, not that it will last that long. Handy to have on hand!

Fall has arrived here on the Eastern Shore of Virginia – which means, oyster harvests are in full swing in the waters surrounding our little peninsula. From the salts on the seaside, to the sweeter guys harvested out of the Chesapeake Bay and the rivers on the western shore – we have such an amazing variety of oysters in Virginia.

A couple of weeks ago the Chincoteague Chamber of Commerce hosted it’s 45th Annual Chincoteague Oyster Festival – an event that’s anticipated all year long. Fried oysters, steamed oysters, raw oysters…a true celebration of the briny bivalve.

I was running around taking photos to earn my keep, in exchange for my ticket. But, I managed to tote over my little portable grill and snag a few oysters to throw on it, to get some photos to share of this super easy way to prepare them with you guys.

Oysters on the half, brushed with a simple garlic-herb butter while on the grill. Couldn’t get easier, delicious, or more impressive. If shucking isn’t your thing, you can steam them until they pop open, and then pry off the top shell – the garlic butter will still keep them plump and juicy.

If you’re really lucky, like I was on this particular day, you may find a tiny friend lurking inside your oyster. Pea crabs are considered a delicacy by many around here, tender yet slightly crunchy little crustacean parasites that like to set up shop inside our oysters. We eat them, but if it’s not your thing – by all means, serve them their final eviction notice before enjoying.

A few minutes on the grill is all you need, just until you see the butter start to sizzle. A little squeeze of fresh lemon juice to finish.  Enjoy them hot, and be prepared to reload the grill. You can’t eat just one!

The big game is this weekend! Anyone planning on having a party? Or heading somewhere where you want to bring something to share? I’ve got the perfect munchie to fit the bill, if that’s the case!

Y’all know I love to incorporate seafood into my dishes whenever possible, and for a throw-down like Sunday’s event – it’s always fun to splurge a little bit for your spread…

Since most of my local seafood shacks are closed for the off-season here on the island, I took a road trip “across the bay” to my closest Whole Foods Market – in Hampton Roads, to see what kind of goodness they were offering for the big game!

While I’m usually not a purveyor of pre-made items, their uber-tubs of guacamole have always been a favorite for me (incidentally on sale this week). I’ll usually buy one to snack on with some chips on the way home! So, I decided to use that as a base for my guacamole for both simplicity, and times sake.

For the shrimp salsa, I picked up some of the gorgeous grey shrimp found at their seafood counter. Their fishmongers are always so knowledgeable, and always ready to answer any question you can throw at them! I love that they work with small, local fisheries whenever possible. Knowing that I can still support sustainable fishing practices, while shopping at a large grocer, is very important to me. Just another reason why I love Whole Foods, and everything that they stand for.

So, those shrimp. I roasted them with the shell on (helps to retain moisture and tenderness) with some fresh lemon, oregano, and lots of pepper. Once they were perfectly cooked I let them cool down enough to peel, then give a rough chop. Combined with a little tomato, red onion, jalapeno, lime juice, and a bit of cilantro to brighten it up – the rustic, chunky salsa was the perfect contrast against the smooth, creamy guacamole. And, it was so pretty on the plate!

The perfect addition to your big game day buffet.  

Disclosure: I have a partnership with Whole Foods Market and was compensated for my work, but all words and opinions are my own.