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!


It’s that time of year here on Chincoteague. When a friend or neighbor will knock on your door, and present you with a Ziploc bag full of freshly caught scallops, soft shell crabs, drum fish, shrimp…whatever happens to be good on the docks or our little roadside seafood markets that day. It’s pretty much my favorite time of year on our little island, aside from Pony Penning…

So when my BFF stopped by last week with these gorgeous scallops, it made me feel one step closer to full-blown summer. I’d also happened to restock my supply of Geechie Boy grits last week too. While shrimp & grits is a regular on our menu this time of year, I thought – why not scallops instead?

Seasoned them simply with some of my homemade seasoning salt and pepper, gave them a quick sear. Happened to some fresh spinach on hand that needed to be used, so I sauteed that with a little bit of garlic and champagne vinegar – which did a great job of deglazing the pan and bringing all that awesome flavor into the dish. I think kale or chard would also be wonderful in place of the spinach!

The grits are a perfect accompaniment, because they kind of take care of themselves on the stove while you get the scallops squared away. Also, grits are so versatile when it comes to different flavors. I wanted something with a little bit of a coastal twist – so I stirred in some Old Bay right before serving. Life changing, ya’ll…

Served with a lovely local Rosé and a salad, it was the perfect way to break-in dinners on the back porch season for us! 

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!