Happy New Years Eve! In light of the holiday,  I thought it only appropriate to share a festive cocktail this evening. And, I’m still working on using up those cranberries leftover from Christmas…

Fruit crushes are kind of synonymous with the Eastern Shore, we’ll take any fruit – muddle it with vodka – add a little seltzer – and call it a day. While they’re very popular in the summertime months, I really feel like the best time for them is in the winter – when citrus is at it’s peak.

I made a cranberry syrup by simmering some frozen cranberries, some sugar, and water on the stove. The cranberries will burst open and soften to a lovely consistency form a lovely chunky syrup. Syrup can be refrigerated for up to a week, which is handy.

he syrup is then combined with vodka (word to Tito’s, my go-to favorite), a splash of Triple Sec , a squeeze of fresh orange juice, and a splash of seltzer. And served over ice. A great way to keep the sparkle of the holidays burning a little longer while you have those cranberries to use up!

I hope everyone has a safe and Happy New Year! Best wishes to all in the coming year.

Christmas and  most of the Holiday have now past for the year, reserving one massive New Year’s Eve throwdown tomorrow night. One thing that I am always sad to see leave my stores for another year is cranberries…and I know I can’t be alone.

I did a twist on one of my favorite summertime loaf cakes (Lemon Blueberry) to come up with this divine winter version. A tender moist cake flecked with fresh orange zest and studded with ripe red cranberries. Once it’s baked, another punch of orange flavor is added in the form of a simple orange glaze that’s poured on while the loaf is still hot…allowing it to soak up all that goodness, and add to the moisture factor.

The sweet cake paired with the occasional tart bite from a cranberry is sheer perfection for breakfast with a cup of tea. This recipe is for one loaf cake, but I regularly double it – and freeze one for later!

And make sure to check back tomorrow – *somebody* may have a cranberry cocktail to share with y’all for the New Year’s Eve shenanigans goin’ down tomorrow night…stay tuned!

 

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!

pepperonistuffedshells

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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