Heirloom Tomato Salad with Red-Eye Vinaigrette

I’d mentioned earlier this summer that I was helping out with the Chincoteague Bay Field Station’s Serving Up The Shore event this year. I created the salad course, which was a simple green salad topped with big hunks of heirloom tomatoes and crispy ham – with, get this…a red-eye vinaigrette. It was pretty amazing, and well received!

For me, the coolest part was getting to know so many of our local farmers and producers. The folks that are out there, fighting the good fight for sustainable and ethical farming and production procedures – right in my own backyard!Lettuces @ Terrapin Farms (Berlin, MD)Big shout out to Johnny at Terrapin Farms, who donated the gorgeous hydroponically grown greens. They’ve got an awesome operation at their farm in Berlin, MD. Was such a treat to visit and see everything in action!Perennial Roots FarmNatalie & Stewart at Perennial Roots Farm, for the absolutely perfect ham for the job (I’m sold on Mulefoot, ya’ll) and the epitome of summer in the form of those tomatoes. They’re a wonderful couple who are so passionate about sustainable and biodynamic agriculture, just a wealth of knowledge! We are so fortunate to have them here on the Shore. Be sure to follow them on Instagram too. Their feed is full of wonderful goodness from the farm, that makes me smile on a daily basis.Eastern Shore Coastal Roasting CompanyKristen & Jamie at Eastern Shore Coastal Roasting Company. You guys seriously rock my world. The Fogcutter was just  perfect for the vinaigrette. Loved having that bold coffee flavor shine through! Guys, their coffee is ahhhmazing…and, now available for purchase online. Go buy some!Assawoman Bay Brewing CompanyThe good people at Assawoman Bay Brewing Company, for keeping us in good beer all evening long. Keep on doing what you’re doing guys, looking forward to visiting the brewpub this fall.

And finally, to everyone who came out! It was such fun, and I’m already looking forward to seeing what next year will bring.

I wanted to incorporate as much local flare as I possibly could in my dish. Red-eye gravy is something that’s more common in the deep south, but it’s always been a favorite for me. It’s usually served in the form of a ham steak, that’s been browned in a skillet. Then, the pan deglazed with coffee. Served for breakfast, lunch, or dinner – it’s a classic that’s stood the test of time.

I kept this same theme, but diced up the ham so it got super crispy. Think – meat croutons! Deglazed the pan with the coffee, then added in traditional things you’d find in salad dressing…red wine vinegar, dijon, olive oil. Paired with the simple fresh greens and big hunks of heirloom tomatoes, it translated so perfectly to a summer salad. But, I’m fixin’ to use the same dressing over a roasted vegetable salad this fall. The flavors would definitely mingle very well there, too. Will report back!


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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Citrus Pork Tenderloin

Just when I think I can’t possibly come up with another preparation for a pork tenderloin, I’ll find a new twist that I love. I’d originally made a version of this tenderloin while out on the boat this year. I’d put it together in the morning, then grilled it on the boat. The orange, lime, honey, and garlic meld together to give wonderful flavor to the pork. And the sugars in the orange juice and honey give the create a beautiful, deep carmelization. Just served it with something simple like sesame noodles or potato salad. Everyone always loved it!

As it was such a big hit over the summer, I figured it would be something that would translate nicely to a one-dish meal, now that the weather has turned cold. So instead of grilling, I seared it off in a cast iron skillet, ten added some sweet potato wedges, Brussels sprouts, and fresh cranberries. The whole thing is placed into the oven to finish off cooking. In about 30 minutes, you’ve got a delicious (and complete!) meal.

I’d never roasted cranberries before, but now that I have – it certainly won’t be the last time! The flavor concentrates, and their sweetness really comes out. Not to mention that they were so gorgeous and festive dotted in-between the roasted veggies. For a meal that’s so easy, it’s really impressive. Something a little different than ham or crown roast of pork – also much more economical. I know I’m trying to pinch a few pennies between now and Christmas! Everyone will love this one.

Apple, Bacon, & Goat Cheese Salad

Nothing beats a really good salad in the summertime. Whether it’s a simple Greek salad with grilled chicken – or something a little fancier like this apple, bacon, and goat cheese salad…they always go over well with our family after spending a day outside in the hot summer sun!

Crispy smokey bacon, crunchy apples, tangy goat cheese, candied walnuts – and the pièce de résistance, a delicious apple butter vinaigrette. I think it may be my new favorite salad dressing!

Musselman's Apple Butter

First off, it acted as an awesome emulsifier – it truly was the perfect consistency for a dressing. It also added wonderful flavor. The sweet and spicy notes in the apple butter really worked well with the salad, and combined with apple cider vinegar – there was definitely a ton of apple flavor going on.

I think the recipe for the dressing would also be an amazing marinade for chicken or pork. Looking forward to trying that soon, will report back! In the meantime, enjoy this wonderful salad.

Disclaimer: This post is sponsored by the good folks at Musselman’s Apple Butter. As always, all thoughts and opinions are my own.