Well, we got snow! 13 inches here on Chincoteague Island to be exact. I know that may not sound like much to many of you, but for our coastal area – it’s quite a bit. Have spent time outside playing in the snow with the boys, making batches of vanilla snow cream, and of course – baking!

These cherry streusel bars are a twist on one of my favorite go-to recipes. My favorite lunch spot here on the island, Sea Star Cafe, serves a very similar bar – usually in the raspberry or apricot variety. I can never resist adding one to my order when I see them in the case…So, with all this snow on the ground…I was really craving one with a cup of my Earl Grey. Sea Star is closed until the spring (as with most things around here). So, it’s not so easy to get my fix. What else is a girl to do, but get into the kitchen and make them for herself?

I must have been thinking ahead, because when I came across a jar of sour cherry jam – during my last pilgrimage to my nearest Whole Foods (“across the Bay”), I couldn’t resist putting it in my cart. I knew it would be just perfect for these bars!

And guys, I was totes right. The sweet-tart cherry jam, blanketing a layer of shortbread crust – and topped with a crunchy, nut-filled, buttery streusel topping. Heaven.

It’s going to be all you can do not to consume the whole pan, trust me…

Source: adapted from Barefoot Contessa Foolproof by Ina Garten

Christmas and  most of the Holiday have now past for the year, reserving one massive New Year’s Eve throwdown tomorrow night. One thing that I am always sad to see leave my stores for another year is cranberries…and I know I can’t be alone.

I did a twist on one of my favorite summertime loaf cakes (Lemon Blueberry) to come up with this divine winter version. A tender moist cake flecked with fresh orange zest and studded with ripe red cranberries. Once it’s baked, another punch of orange flavor is added in the form of a simple orange glaze that’s poured on while the loaf is still hot…allowing it to soak up all that goodness, and add to the moisture factor.

The sweet cake paired with the occasional tart bite from a cranberry is sheer perfection for breakfast with a cup of tea. This recipe is for one loaf cake, but I regularly double it – and freeze one for later!

And make sure to check back tomorrow – *somebody* may have a cranberry cocktail to share with y’all for the New Year’s Eve shenanigans goin’ down tomorrow night…stay tuned!

 

Roasted Vegetable Quiche

This summer was insanely hectic. I feel like it passed it a blur of beaching, boating, and warm summer nights. I wasn’t in the kitchen making new things to share with you as much as I’d like, but now that the days are becoming cooler – it’s my favorite time of year to be in the kitchen. Not to mention it’s the best time of year to work with the bounty that your garden, or local farmers in your area have produced.

I’ve always been passionate about gardening, and particularly varietal history and seed saving. So when the good folks at Thomas Jefferson’s Monticello reached out and asked me to share the details on their 10th Annual Heritage Harvest Festival happening this weekend, I was delighted to do so!

Thomas Jefferson championed vegetable cuisine, plant experimentation, and sustainable agriculture. In today’s modern world,  they are continuing that tradition at Monticello – and have been doing so, for many years. They were kind enough to send me a beautiful box of garden goodness fresh from the fields.

monticello

I mean – what an honor. Talk about tasting history! Eggplants (Listadia di Gandia and Black Beauty), Peppers (Marconi and Fish Hots – a variety that was used in seafood houses in my region for hundreds of years), a Green Nutmeg Melon, fresh sesame, and some of their locally made Hickory Syrup and Peach Butter available from their online shop. I can’t thank them enough for sending that box of loveliness my way, it was a real treat!

I ended up tossing the eggplants Marconi peppers with a little olive oil and salt, and added a tomato and some garlic from my dad’s garden for good measure – then roasted. That’s a great way to get out excess moisture, that can lead to soggy situations in whatever dish you’re preparing. Plus, it really intensifies all of the flavor.

Used my favorite pie crust recipe to line my tart pan, and blind bake. Then piled in the roasted vegetable goodness and a rich egg-custard to fill in all the nooks & crannies. And a little goat cheese for good measure. A local farmer has been selling his goat cheese at the farmer’s market here on Chincoteague, and it’s insanely wonderful. Have been enjoying it every chance I can get!

A quick bake for about half an hour, and you’re good to go. Paired with a simple green salad, it’s the perfect meal for this time of year. Could also be made in a pie plate without the crust!

And, if you’re in the vicinity and looking for something to do tomorrow – make sure you check out the Heritage Harvest Festival at Monticello. The’ve got a great lineup of speakers, activities for kids, gardening info, seed saving, good eats….they’ll have it all! A great day to get outside and live, breathe, and taste history.

 

Orange Crush Cupcakes

The Orange Crush, in cocktail form  (not to be confused with the cloyingly sweet soda variety), is synonymous with our beaches here on the Eastern Shore. A few simple ingredients are shaken up to create one of the freshest and fruitiest drinks you’ll find.  They’ve long been one of my favorites in the summertime. So, I got to thinking – why not in cupcake form?

I used my favorite vanilla cake recipe as my base – with a fruity twist from fresh orange juice and zest. And I gave the buttercream frosting a nice boozy kick with a splash of Triple Sec and vodka, as well as some orange zest for a little brightness. The flecks of orange were pretty in the frosting as well.

You guys, they TOTALLY tasted like the cocktail. But cake. I took one over to one of my early morning beach walks for breakfast, and I couldn’t resist a little photo sesh…Cake By The Ocean

Cake by the ocean, baby! If there ever was a cake deemed worthy of being consumed by the ocean – it’s most certainly these. Make them soon to welcome the warm weather! No regrets.