This great little BBQ joint opened on Chincoteague a couple of years ago. They have numerous  wonderful specialty sandwiches, but if I was hard pressed I would have to say my favorite was “The Clipper”. It’s pulled pork, with a fresh fried boneless chicken breast on top, smothered in (get this), bacon jam. It was love at first bite. The sandwich is so large, it feeds you for about 3 days. Sadly, the place is seasonal, so you aren’t able to get this wonderous sandwich in the fall and winter months. I’d been thinking about recreating the bacon jam at home for over a year now. Well last week I finally broke down and took a swing at it, and it turned out wonderfully!

Seemed like the general consensus of the internet pointed to Not Quite Nigella’s recipe. It seemed like a winner to me. I knew the version I had at Woody’s contained bacon, brown sugar, and lots of caramelized onions. The coffee seemed like an interesting addition. Coffee is one of the main ingredients in Red Eye Gravy, which I love. Just like with chocolate, adding coffee doesn’t make it taste like coffee. It just  melds with and intensifies the porkiness. I was a little skeptical of the addition of  maple syrup, but went ahead and went with it anyways.

It is kind of time consuming. It took around 2 hours to cook down to the consistency I wanted. But, once I tasted it, I knew it was well worth the effort. The finished product is not greasy at all. I had expected a ton of fat to settle at the top when I had refrigerated it, but in the morning I was pleasantly surprised to find there was none! Draining most of the bacon grease before cooking the onions takes care of that issue. Since it’s cooked down so much, then pulsed in the food processor, it spreads on toast like a dream. With an over easy or poached egg, and a glass of orange juice it’s an ideal breakfast for the bacon lover without all the mess of frying bacon. It’s also wonderful spread on a crostinis for a quick appetizer.

Did you know that September is National Mushroom Month? I didn’t. It seems as if every day of every month is a different National Food  Holiday.  I figured with the slight chill of Fall in the air… what is a better way to welcome it than a delicious soup?

There is this fabulous little carryout place here called Sea Star Cafe. The owners are there, everyday, churning out wonderful sandwiches and homemade soups. They are very small, but take a ton of pride in what they offer. Most items are cold sandwiches. There’s usually one “special” that is a hot sandwich, their Cuban is to die for! And, there is usually 2 or 3 soups that rotate on a daily basis. One of my favorite soups is mushroom-brie bisque. I’m not a huge fan of mushroom (love the flavor, hate the texture), so I stayed away from it for years. One day my girlfriend had gotten it with her lunch, and I stole a bite. I was hooked!

I was also pregnant at the time, so as luck would have it, I developed a craving for this soup. Sea Star closes for a few months in the off-season, and I had to come up with a version I could make at home. I’ve played around with a couple of batches since last fall and think I’ve finally got it!

This soup is rich, silky, and delicious. It’s also a breeze to make. I made it for a lunch date with a girlfriend. Even with an infant and a toddler to look after, I didn’t break a sweat getting everything ready. So easy! I  think the wedge of brie, as opposed to the small wheel, is better for this application. It seemed to melt down better. Next time around I might try a Camembert cheese, switch things up a bit! I hope everyone is as ready for Fall as I am. Enjoy!

I’ve always been a firm believer in pork cuts in a tomato sauce. It adds an unbelievable richness and depth of flavor that cannot be attained with simply beef. But, to make a proper “gravy”, it’s an all day process. Browning the sausage, beef, and pork. Sauteing the onions and tomato paste, reducing down the sauce for-ever. Delicious, but time consuming.

My mom always made spaghetti sauce to use up leftover ham. Apparently, her mother opted to use ham in her sauce as well. It’s delicious, easy, and a change of pace from your run-of-the-mill spaghetti sauce using ground beef. Since I’ve got a house full of boys, I opt to add ham as well as ground beef. But, feel free to make the recipe using exclusively ham. Great way to use up those Easter leftovers!

I confess, I used to be a boxed macaroni and cheese person. As a teenager, I worked front desk at a local hotel. An older lady there made the best baked macaroni and cheese. While at the time I diddn’t have my heart set on re-creating the dish, it managed to stick with me for a decade. My mom always made homemade macaroni and cheese, but it wasn’t a cheese sauce. It was elbows, butter, and lots of cheddar cheese layered and baked. Still delicious, but there’s something about a gooey, cheesy sauce that really captured my heart.

Fast forward 10 years, I decided to try to find a recipe that I would consider “a keeper” for baked macaroni and cheese. I tried several recipes I’d found on the internet that looked good, but none really resonated with me. Then, I decided to give the recipe off the side of the elbow macaroni box a shot. Low and behold, I fell in love. I’ve changed it some over the years, but I’m glad I gave that “side of the box” recipe a shot. You never know! Feel free to top with a seasoned breadcrumb if you like, but I think that’s more of a “Yankee” thing, and just not the way I was raised. I like my macaroni and cheese soft and creamy. But, I have done it that way before…and it was delicious. Enjoy!