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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Roasted Vegetable Quiche

This summer was insanely hectic. I feel like it passed it a blur of beaching, boating, and warm summer nights. I wasn’t in the kitchen making new things to share with you as much as I’d like, but now that the days are becoming cooler – it’s my favorite time of year to be in the kitchen. Not to mention it’s the best time of year to work with the bounty that your garden, or local farmers in your area have produced.

I’ve always been passionate about gardening, and particularly varietal history and seed saving. So when the good folks at Thomas Jefferson’s Monticello reached out and asked me to share the details on their 10th Annual Heritage Harvest Festival happening this weekend, I was delighted to do so!

Thomas Jefferson championed vegetable cuisine, plant experimentation, and sustainable agriculture. In today’s modern world,  they are continuing that tradition at Monticello – and have been doing so, for many years. They were kind enough to send me a beautiful box of garden goodness fresh from the fields.

monticello

I mean – what an honor. Talk about tasting history! Eggplants (Listadia di Gandia and Black Beauty), Peppers (Marconi and Fish Hots – a variety that was used in seafood houses in my region for hundreds of years), a Green Nutmeg Melon, fresh sesame, and some of their locally made Hickory Syrup and Peach Butter available from their online shop. I can’t thank them enough for sending that box of loveliness my way, it was a real treat!

I ended up tossing the eggplants Marconi peppers with a little olive oil and salt, and added a tomato and some garlic from my dad’s garden for good measure – then roasted. That’s a great way to get out excess moisture, that can lead to soggy situations in whatever dish you’re preparing. Plus, it really intensifies all of the flavor.

Used my favorite pie crust recipe to line my tart pan, and blind bake. Then piled in the roasted vegetable goodness and a rich egg-custard to fill in all the nooks & crannies. And a little goat cheese for good measure. A local farmer has been selling his goat cheese at the farmer’s market here on Chincoteague, and it’s insanely wonderful. Have been enjoying it every chance I can get!

A quick bake for about half an hour, and you’re good to go. Paired with a simple green salad, it’s the perfect meal for this time of year. Could also be made in a pie plate without the crust!

And, if you’re in the vicinity and looking for something to do tomorrow – make sure you check out the Heritage Harvest Festival at Monticello. The’ve got a great lineup of speakers, activities for kids, gardening info, seed saving, good eats….they’ll have it all! A great day to get outside and live, breathe, and taste history.

 

Iced Coffee Tonic

The dog days of summer haven’t hit us yet, but I wanted to be prepared when they do. My friend and coffee roaster Kristen, down at Eastern Shore Coastal Roasting Company, had made us these refreshing concotions after a long day on the road – literally all over the Eastern Shore. It was for a farm tour hosted by the good people at the Chincoteague Bay Field Station. Last year they had their first Serving Up The Shore event, and it was a great success. Local farmers and producers donate an array of items, and local chefs donate their time. Last year I attended, and have anxiously been awaiting this year…

Imagine my surprise when the folks at the Field Station asked me to come and prepare the salad course! I’m excited, and a little nervous – but I think we’ll have great fun! It’s really an honor to be in the kitchen with the chefs and farmers/producers they have lined up…go buy your tickets!

Anywho, I’ve long been a fan of ESCR and their coffees. So to get to know Kristen and Jamie, and to have them take the time to show us a roast from start to finish – was just such a treat! And then, to end it all with an amazing treat like this iced coffee tonic – well, that was just the icing on the cake for the day! If you’re local, look for their coffees at Poseidon’s Pantry as well as Wine, Cheese & More (downtown) here on the island,

Kristen used their Marsh Mud cold-brew blend, which is phenom. But whatever your favorite method or brand for cold brew is will be fine. Look for a post on that here soon! So, about 3/4 parts cold brew to 1/4 cup tonic or seltzer. I kind of liked the slight “twang” that the tonic water lent, but have since made it with seltzer and it was equally delightful.

A little sugar or simple syrup. And maybe a splash of half & half, if that’s your thing. I’ve also added a splash of coconut milk, and it was absolute perfection! Garnish with some sort of herbacious sprig – we used rosemary, and really enjoyed that little herbal note lingering in the background.

The perfect summer sipper to put a little pep in your step during these warmer months!

Source: I get by with a little help from my friends at ESCR. Thanks, guys!

Homemade Sloppy Joes

Raising three little boys, quick economical meals are something that are a constant around here. We love tacos, and my version of a homemade Hamburger Helper is always a hit, and who could forget spaghetti? But on this particular evening that I’d taken out some ground beef, I wasn’t feeling any of those options.

I decided to whip up a from-scratch version of the classic Manwich sauce in a can, and made homemade Sloppy Joes. They took just a few minutes to throw together, out of ingredients that I usually always have on hand. A little bit of tang and a little bit of sweetness to the sauce hits all the right spots on the flavor scale, everyone really enjoyed them!

I think this would be a great option for a cookout instead of burgers. The beef could easily be mixed up and kept warm in a slow cooker for serving. I kept it simple and served with some potato chips and my favorite coleslaw.  In fact, I put a spot of coleslaw on my sandwich. Don’t knock it till you try it!

Source: adapted from Allrecipes