There is nothing that says “comfort food” more than a pot of beans bubbling on the stove. I got this recipe a couple of years ago from my friend and part-time neighbor Nancy, I’ve mentioned them before. We met at this bloggers event hosted by Maryland Tourism, and it turned out they have a vacation house next door here on Chincoteague, literally. It’s a small world after all.

Nancy’s husband Len and their daughter Kelsey own and operate Louthan Distilling in Baltimore, who offer amazing locally distilled whiskey and bourbon. Needless to say, we became fast friends, and usually will get together for a potluck type situation when they are down. I always ask that Nancy bring these beans when we do…

Pintos, tomatoes, onions, garlic and spices are simmered in a beer broth for a couple of hours, to make for a flavorful and tender bean – that lends itself great for burritos, or tacos, or on top of cornbread. Also great mashed up and served refried. If you don’t have the time to spare, you can make them in under an hour (from dried state) in the Instant Pot – you’ll find directions for that included with the regular recipe below.

A hefty dose of cilantro stirred in at the end, and a pint of beer on the side – and you’re good to go. Speaking of beer and locally crafted goodness, have you guys heard that we now have a brewery here on Chincoteague Island? The first on the the Eastern Shore of Virginia. W00t!  I know, I know – so exciting!

Black Narrows Brewing Company opened their doors at the end of December, and we couldn’t be happier that they’re here. It’s run by a wonderful family, they use local ingredients, and their beer is epic. If you’re visiting the island make sure to stop by and see them on Chicken City Road – right behind the Brant.

Enjoy a pint, and get a yourself growler (or three!) to bring home. The Louthans are heading into town this weekend actually, and I can’t wait to get up there with them and enjoy a pint. Have a great weekend, everyone!

Instant Pot Macaroni & Cheese

Pressure cookers are definitely the hot “it” appliance right now. I’ve had an old stainless model for years, that I use for canning – but at 16 quarts too big to use for general use in my kitchen. So this fall I hopped on the old bandwagon and purchased an 8-quart Instant Pot, and haven’t looked back since!

I’m hesitant about unitaskers in my kitchen, and I was skeptical how much I’d actually use the thing on a regular basis. Turned out I was pleasantly surprised, using it at least two times a week in my kitchen. To be able to make a quick chicken or vegetable stock in under an hour blows my mind.

Not to mention other tasks like potatoes cooked to perfection in a few minutes, dried beans that taste they’ve been simmering all day long in an hour, or this easy macaroni and cheese – which goes from pot to table in two shakes of a lamb’s tail (just a little over 10 minutes).

You could take it to the next level by pouring the finished mac into a baking dish and topping with more cheese (or breadcrumbs, if that’s your thing) and popping into the oven for a few minutes to melt. But, we usually don’t get that far. I’ve also been known to throw in a cup of diced ham and a chopped head of broccoli to bulk it up and make it a one-dish meal that everyone always loves.

Do you have an electric pressure cooker? What are some of your favorite recipes to make in it? Share in comments!


Stuffed shells are one of my favorite comfort meals. Pasta encasing a bunch of fluffy ricotta and gooey, cheesy goodness? You just can’t go wrong. Not to mention the variations and combinations that you can use to “mix up” your filling is endless.

So, when Sugardale Foods reached out to me about creating a recipe using their delicious pepperoni – my mind immediately began brainstorming. And, led me right to the thought of  a pepperoni-studded stuffed shell (say that 3x fast!). All of your favorite flavors in a pizza, but in pasta form. Genius!

Pepperoni is something that I always have on hand in the fridge, it’s a great way to add a little bit of meaty flavor to recipes. I’ll often add it to skillet pastas, or baked pasta dishes…as well as just for snacking purposes. Love having it around for a quick anti-pasta platter when unexpected guests drop in. A few slices of cheese, some pepperoni, maybe a few olives? Bam! Awesome easy appetizer.

But, finding a good-quality pepperoni can be a little bit daunting – to say the least. So many are full of so much fat, by the time you cook it…there’s nothing left. Not the case with Sugardale’s pepperoni.

Sugardale Foods is a family-owned company that’s been in business since 1920. Right here in the good, old US of A too! That’s a feat that seems to be harder and harder to come by these days. You can find their products  (ham, pepperoni, bacon) at many retailers nationwide, in various size packaging. With 3 little boys, I can blow through one of their 1-lb bags in no time. It’s a brand I know I can always turn to for quality! Make sure you stop by their recipe page for a bunch of great recipe ideas.

I kept the filling simple: Ricotta, chunks of mozzarella, a little oregano. Placed the whole pepperoni slices into the shells, then stuffed with the ricotta mixture. Baked with my favorite quick marinara sauce and a little extra mozzarella on top. Perfection, I tell ya!

It’s the time of year where we find ourselves turning to comfort foods, and this one is definitely a new favorite in our home. Add it to your menu soon, you won’t regret it!

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Homemade Sloppy Joes

Raising three little boys, quick economical meals are something that are a constant around here. We love tacos, and my version of a homemade Hamburger Helper is always a hit, and who could forget spaghetti? But on this particular evening that I’d taken out some ground beef, I wasn’t feeling any of those options.

I decided to whip up a from-scratch version of the classic Manwich sauce in a can, and made homemade Sloppy Joes. They took just a few minutes to throw together, out of ingredients that I usually always have on hand. A little bit of tang and a little bit of sweetness to the sauce hits all the right spots on the flavor scale, everyone really enjoyed them!

I think this would be a great option for a cookout instead of burgers. The beef could easily be mixed up and kept warm in a slow cooker for serving. I kept it simple and served with some potato chips and my favorite coleslaw.  In fact, I put a spot of coleslaw on my sandwich. Don’t knock it till you try it!

Source: adapted from Allrecipes