Chesapeake Bloody Mary

Happy Birthday to me! Today I turn 32, so I thought it would be appropriate to share a cocktail with you guys in celebration. Especially one that incorporates so many of the things I love!

I’d never been a fan of Bloody Marys for the most part. Probably because they’d always been made with pre-fabricated mixes that just aren’t very good to start with. But once I mixed my own at home, I understood how awesome they could be.

Simple ingredients – tomato juice, fresh lemon, vodka or gin. But the garnishes, that’s where you can go crazy and have fun! A celery stalk is essential, and also some sort of pickled vegetable – I went with dilly beans. But, where I really go overboard is by topping with a handful of jumbo lump crab meat.

Some might find it strange, but certainly not here on the Shore. The sweet crab meat sits perfectly perched on top of the savory Bloody Mary. It can be enjoyed before the cocktail, or let to steep in the tomato juice and absorb the delicious tomato flavor. With the addition of the crab, it’s really almost a meal as well.

This would be perfect for an evening (or morning!) in the hectic Holiday future – Christmas or New Years Eve, perhaps? Something decadent and really special to celebrate this special time of year. Totes worth the splurge on the crab meat!

Sweet Potato Pie

Have you guys ever had sweet potato pie? It’s pumpkin pie’s “Black Sheep” cousin. It sounds kind of weird in theroy, but upon first bite you discover it’s absolute deliciousness. A little bit lighter and less filling than pumpkin pie, but still just as festive for Fall.

We grow lots of sweet potatoes here on Virginia’s Eastern Shore – most notable, a white-fleshed sweet potato variety called Haymans. You rarely find them off of the Eastern Shore because they’re in such high demand with the locals. I still haven’t been able to get my hands on any this year…I’m hoping to track some down before next week for Thanksgiving, so keep your fingers crossed for me!

If you’re worried it might take more time and effort than a pumpkin pie, don’t be – it’s just as easy, with an even shorter ingredient list. It’s one of those recipes that the little ones like to help make too! Plenty of stirring and whisking involved. It may seem strange that there’s no brown sugar or nutmeg – but just go with the lemon extract. It adds such a bright note to the sweet potato, and really makes it sing.

So, if you’re looking for a new dessert that’s still traditional – you’ve found it. The perfect addition to your holiday Thanksgiving table that everyone is sure to enjoy! Have a great weekend, everyone.

Source: Mrs. JoSue

Sweet Potato Biscuits

Did you guys know that such a wonderful thing even existed? They do indeed, and they’re as wonderful as you’d imagine. They are pretty much a food group here on Virginia’s Eastern Shore, and it is where I was first introduced to them. After years of enjoying them, I thought it was high time I passed the recipe along to you guys!

It’s your basic biscuit dough with the usual suspects – flour, buttermilk, flour. But then you invite some pureed, roasted sweet potatoes to the party. It adds great flavor and color, and also some additional moisture. Which is always welcome in a biscuit!

They aren’t quite as fluffy as your standard buttermilk biscuit, just because the addition of the sweet potato adds some density too… but, what they lack for in fluffiness they more than make up for in deliciousness.

I like to serve them with a bowl of soup, or just plain with some jam or pumpkin butter. But, our favorite way to enjoy them is sandwiching a few pieces of ham. Very thinly sliced country ham is a treat, but more often than not it’s just plain deli ham. It makes for one delicious and easy meal – for breakfast, lunch, or dinner!

Source: adapted from The Lee Bros Southern Cookbook and Food & Wine, Nov 2013

Oyster Stuffing

Oyster stuffing. I don’t know that you’ll find a dish more unanimously found on Thanksgiving tables here on the Eastern Shore. After a quick web search, it turns out it’s common in many other parts of the country as well – but especially down south around the Gulf, and up north around New England.

It’s basically a homemade stuffing – composed of dry bread cubes, sauteed onions and herbs, chicken stock, and fresh oysters. Some people used canned or smoked oysters – but, I can’t justify using those. Ever. Ain’t nobody got time for that! The oysters plump up in the stuffing, and release their delicious briny juices – adding a ton of flavor to the stuffing, and the bread just soaks it all right up! I loved the addition of nutmeg and clove too, it really made it taste like Thanksgiving.

This was actually my first time making this dish (hey, I am a “come here” after all!) and as I mixed it up before putting it in the casserole dish, I thought it wasn’t going to be something I enjoyed…as it wasn’t much to look at. But when it came out of the oven, and the top was nice and brown – I couldn’t wait to dig in! If you’re looking for something special to add to your Thanksgiving Day table, which is a cut above the standard cornbread stuffing (or my favorite, even though I’m ashamed to admit it – Stove Top!) get yourself a pint of oysters from the seafood market and make this stuffing. Maybe it will become a tradition for your family, as it has for so many others here on the Eastern Shore and elsewhere, on Turkey Day!