It’s no secret that I have a penchant for anything Italian. However, there are only so many lasagnas and risottos one can eat before they yearn for something new to try. The idea for this recipe sparked years ago, when I spotted a recipe for pork chops with vinegar peppers in The Sopranos Family Cookbook. However, the recipe called for spicy pickled peppers, which diddn’t really appeal to me . I thought bell peppers would bring more flavor to the “party”, as well as look more attractive.

I’ve always been a huge fan of balsamic pan sauces when it came to any pan-seared meat, so decided on that for  my deglazing agent to get all those yummy bits from the bottom of the pan. Plus, balsamic vinegar is pretty mild on the acidity scale. That’s just what I was looking for to pair with pork, which is on the milder side.

I used boneless pork chops this time around, because it was all that was available to me at the store last week. I usually like to get a thin cut bone-in chop if I can, because I  think they have better flavor and retain more moisture. But, the boneless was great. Just make sure you don’t overcook them, as they can dry out so quickly! Alternatively, I’m sure the dish would be wonderful with chicken breasts or thighs.

Shrimp scampi is one of my all-time favorite dishes. Unfortunately, I could never seem to get it quite right at home. My main qualm seemed to be that it was always too dry. My natural inclination was to add more butter. But, I needed more flavor than butter alone could lend. So, I tried adding more lemon juice. Too sour. While I love lemony pastas – they should never make you pucker. Many recipes I’d seen used white wine in the sauce, which was a welcome idea. Additionally, one of my favorite local restaurants adds tomatoes and fresh basil to their rendition of shrimp scampi, which I thought was wonderful. I  knew that I wanted to incorporate that as well. I figured with the addition of white wine, and tomato…hopefully, that would amp up the sauce factor.

This recipe is definitely a keeper! Plenty of kick from the garlic. Bright flavor from the lemon. A kiss of warmth from the red pepper flakes. And, the white wine just wraps it’s arms around everything and brings it all together. This is another meal that goes from stove to plate in a matter of minutes. I usually start sautéing the shrimp immediately after I begin cooking the pasta to get everything on the table at the same time.

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!

Back at the end of July, Chincoteague Island had their Annual Blueberry Festival. In addition to a wide array of arts and crafts, and delicious food offerings, they sell flats of blueberries for a great price. We ordered a flat, and brought it home. We immediately froze and bagged most of them, to be used through out the year in various recipes. My home brewing husband, Jon, brewed a blueberry cream ale a few weeks ago. It’s getting ready to be kegged next week, and should be pouring shortly thereafter. Neither of us can wait to try it! That, however, is another post…

I’d been wanting to make these beautiful cupcakes for some time now, back when Annie posted them in the spring. They looked so deliciously light, and airy. And lemon/blueberry is just about one of my favorite combinations on the planet. This one is definitely a winner! A  fresh change of pace from a traditional run-of-the-mill standard cupcakes (not that there’s anything wrong with that!). I love that the cream cheese frosting has a hint of lemon too, just puts it over the edge. Try these!