Italian Sausage Soup

Much of the East Coast is getting bogged down with rain today. And, I’m feeling it. I made and photographed this recipe a couple of weeks ago – and meant to share it last week. However, I lost a very close friend last week kind of suddenly. I say “I” – but I really mean our whole community – as everyone is mourning the loss of our dear Laura. I haven’t really felt like doing much of anything the past few days, besides moping around the house, with the occasional uncontrollable sobbing. I’m getting there. Grief just sucks, ya’ll.

Needless to say, a couple of rainy days to stay in my pajamas is just what the doctor ordered. Figured I could at least take a few minutes to share this recent recipe find with you guys! And, what better meal is there to enjoy on days like this, than a warm bowl of filling soup?

I came across this recipe in the Loaves & Fishes cookbook by Anna Pump, another favorite which was lurking in the “lost pile”. All of her cookbooks are phenomenal. She was a close friend of our Majesty The Queen (Ina Garten) and collaborated at Barefoot Contessa in the Hamptons with Ina for years, as well as running her own successful shop and bed & breakfast. She too passed rather suddenly back in 2015, and I will always treasure the books and recipes she left behind. But, I digress… As I’d mentioned, I made this substantial soup a couple of weeks ago now – and haven’t been able to stop thinking about it since!

It came together really quickly, with simple ingredients that are easy to find – or you may even have on hand already. It was also really quick to cook too. Most soups take ALL DAY to have a really deep flavor. But the addition of two kinds of sausage, both ground and link, really pack a punch in that department – yielding a soup that tastes like its simmered for hours, in less than one.

I served it along side some warm crusty rolls and a simple fresh green salad to round out the meal. Everyone really enjoyed it, and it will definitely be one I make again soon! Might try adding cannellini beans the next go-round.

Source: The Loaves and Fishes Cookbook – Anna Pump

Hey y’all! It was a whirlwind summer spending most of our time out on the boat, which led into a whirlwind fall with school starting, and soccer, and Scouts. We certainly made the most of it, but now that the weather has finally turned to fallish behavior, I’m excited to be in the kitchen more often.

I’ve had this one hanging around in draft posts for months now. Figured I should take the opportunity to share this recipe from over the summer that we really enjoyed, before I delve into the heavier cold weather stuff…

I’ve long been a fan of things prepared in a foil packet, we’ll make them quite a bit when out on the boat or camping. They’re easy, tasty, and offer an easy cleanup – a trifecta of awesomeness when it comes to diining in the open outdoors. But this one. This one really takes it to a whole new level on the flavor front, guys.

Composed of ingredients that are plentiful here in my neck of the woods, but also readily available elsewhere – tender littleneck clams, shrimp, sweet corn on the cob, baby red potatoes, smoked sausage, and a few lemon slices. Sealed up in a piece of aluminum foil and tossed on a hot grill, the juices that are released as the items cook are sealed in, creating a perfectly prepared packet.

A pretty heavy clambake, with minimal effort and time.

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!

If you’re driving down the “main drag” here on the Eastern Shore of Virginia (aka Route 13), one of the best things you can do for yourself is to turn off the beaten path. All roads lead to the water eventually – seaside or bayside. It doesn’t matter. Chances are you’ll stumble on a seafood shack in your travels. And this time of year, they’re all sure to have fresh soft shell crabs. A delicacy here, as well as around the world.

My favorite spot is Martin’s Crabhouse in Saxis, VA. It’s about a 20 minute drive for me on Chincoteague, but when it comes to crabs – it’s always worth the trip. You’ll usually find two old salts sitting on the front porch of the crab shack, no doubt talking about fish tales. One of the younger guys inside will shuffle over to the peeling tables and fish out a dozen for me – wriggling as they’re pulled out of the water and placed in the box. It really doesn’t get fresher than that.

Up until last week, breading and pan-frying was my go-to prepare a soft shell crab. But, after putting them on the grill…I fear I can never go back. First off, it was easier and way less mess. Always a win! But the flavor. THE FLAVOR. Sweet, tender crab with a heady dose of smokiness from the grill. I brushed with fresh garlic herb butter while cooking, which helped them to not stick to the grill – as well as impart more wonderful flavor. A few minutes on the grill, and they plump up to pure perfection.

I wanted to pair them with pasta, so I made a quick scampi sauce using the usual suspects – butter, garlic, lemon, white wine. And, a few cherry tomatoes and basil for a little extra flair and color. Was just enough to make the pasta moist, and paired perfectly with the crab – just making it’s flavors sing a little louder.

Move over, Shrimp Scampi. There’s a new kid on the block…