Every day, I thank the sweet Heavens for this place I call home. Within a 20 minute drive I can procure some of the freshest seafood imaginable. Shrimp, crabs, fish, oysters, clams – even lobsters. And, I don’t go to some fancy supermarket to get them. Most of places I go to buy my seafood are little run-down shacks, ran by the waterman themselves.

Seaside Lobsters in Atlantic, VA is one of those places. They’re only open a few afternoons a week, but there’s nothing like having Jon stop on his way home from work to pick up a couple of big lobsters to have for dinner, for around $25. They run about $8 a pound, which is unbelievably reasonable. They also often have “culls” or one-clawed lobsters for even less, around $6 a pound. Which are great for recipes that just include meat – lobster rolls, anyone?

Needless to say, I love to support my local waterman. Those guys are out there working in the blistering cold and heat – all year long, to put food on our tables. The Eastern Shore wouldn’t be what it is today without them, as so much of our local economy relies on the seafood industry – and has for hundreds of years.

Steamed lobster couldn’t be easier, or more special. It’s a perfect decadent dinner for a special evening like Christmas or New Year’s. And, it takes only 20 minutes to cook. Paired with simple sides like a baked potato and salad – a meal like this gives you more time to spend with the family around the Christmas tree, and not in the kitchen slaving over a stove.

I love to take leftovers from one night’s meal, and make something the next night that’s completely different. Leftover taco meat is great for these kind of applications. To date, my favorite use had been these stuffed peppers. But, after finally getting this recipe right where I wanted it, I think they may have to move over!

The first time I had a taco pizza it was at this little local pizzeria that is now closed. She made great “pies” there, big bubbly chewy crusts – a true New York pizza, which is hard to come by here in our rural area. She often had a “special” pizza on the board, which featured something fun and different. One day at lunch we threw caution to the wind and tried the taco pizza. I was hooked!

So, here’s my version. A base of taco sauce, which adds a little spice to start things off. Then topped with mozzarella and cheddar cheeses, seasoned beef, thinly-sliced red onion, chopped fresh tomato, and black olives. If you like things a little spicier, add some sliced pickled jalapenos to give it an extra dose of heat. If you’re tired of traditional pizza toppings, give this a whirl – I know you’ll love it!

With all the heavy-duty baked goods going through my kitchen this time of year, sometimes something light and refreshing is welcomed. I love using fresh cranberries while I can, since they aren’t around long.

I made this sorbet to have for a late night treat when we returned home on Thanksgiving evening, after a long day on the road. It was sweet and tart, with a hint of booziness from the addition of Grand Marnier. It would be a lovely palette cleanser in between courses for a special dinner like Christmas or New Year’s Eve.

And the color, cranberry anything is always gorgeous! While we’re on that train of thought, I think a cranberry-inspired cocktail is on my agenda this evening . So make sure to check back next week. Have a great weekend, everyone!

I don’t know that there is a more classic Christmas cookie than Peanut Butter Blossoms. I made them every Christmas in the kitchen with my mom for as long as I can remember. We’d often have cookie making parties where my Aunt Rose would come over, along with her brood of boys – and we’d all make cookies. Those are some of my favorite Christmas memories!

Hershey’s contacted me a couple of weeks ago, and offered to send me a Holiday baking pack. Free chocolate? How could I resist? It arrived last week, filled with lots of goodies. I couldn’t wait to start my Christmas baking! Monday night was our small town’s Christmas parade, so my mom came up and we baked these cookies with the boys before the parade started. They had so much fun helping to roll the balls of dough in the sugar before baking. And, what joy to carry that tradition along to our own little family unit!