Strawberry Wine Coolers

Well, it’s a beautiful Friday morning here in Charleston. To celebrate the first day of the Charleston Wine & Food Festival, I wanted to share something with you guys from 2 of my favorite chefs and cookbook authors, The Lee Brothers, who just so happen to be from Charleston. Their new cookbook is actually being released this weekend at the festival, and I can’t wait to get my hands on a copy – I treasure their other two so much. They are some of my most used cookbooks in my kitchen!

These strawberry wine coolers are from their second cookbook. I remember the days of “scoring” some wine coolers when I was about 15. And, ugh – they were so horrible. These are nothing like them! Fresh fruit, crisp white wine – how could you not win? I used my strawberry vodka that I infused at home, and I loved the additional punch of strawberry that it brought with it. These are perfect for a party, or just to make a carafe of on a weekend and enjoy by yourself! Love them, and I’m looking forward to trying it with other fruits as they come into season as well!

Easy Steamed ShrimpI’ve said it before, and I’ll say it again – I’m so fortunate to live here on the beautiful Eastern Shore, with the abundance of fresh seafood and wonderful produce available all throughout the year. Whether it’s buying crabs right off the boats in Crisfield in the summer, buying bushels of oysters from the Chincoteague Bay in December, or getting up early to do some rockfishing with Dad in the fall – it’s the environment that I’ve been raised in, and I couldn’t imagine it any other way. I’m so thankful to call this place home, and have the opportunity to raise my family here.

That being said, I’m very excited to announce that tomorrow I’ll (along with Jon) be heading to Charleston, SC to compete as a finalist in the Avalon Great Foods Of America Recipe Challenge at the Charleston Food & Wine Festival. It’s such an incredible honor to represent my great state of Maryland, and I can’t thank Avalon Winery enough for sponsoring it. For this foodie who also happens to be a history buff, visiting Charleston is pretty much a dream come true. I’ve got a couple restaurants lined up that I have to visit, and the old tree on John’s Island is on my list too. Any other must-do’s in that wonderful city? It’s going to be our first time visiting, but I’m fairly certain it won’t be our last!

Ok, so enough about me. Let’s talk about these shrimp! My favorite fish monger closes for a couple months after Christmas, but thankfully – he just reopened on Valentine’s Day! Ray has been a waterman for as long as I can remember.  He’s also had his restaurant, Ray’s Shanty for about as long as I can remember too. It’s the place to go for fresh fish, THE BEST hushpuppies known to man, and gorgeous fresh shrimp. There’s a seafood market on the side of the restaurant too – gorgeous scallops, heads-on shrimp, and various filets of fish; most of which Ray has caught himself on his charter boat. Ray taught my mom his way to cook shrimp over 20 years ago, and it can’t get any easier. While technically, they aren’t steamed – they are always perfect, and you’ll never have an overcooked shrimp again. They’re great to season with lots of Old Bay and eat as is, peel and serve in a martini glass for a fancy shrimp cocktail, or chill down and make shrimp salad with.

Blueberry Doughnut MuffinsWhen I saw these muffins, I was pretty sure they were going to be a hit. I love blueberries, I love doughnuts, and I love muffins – win, win, win. What sets these muffins apart from the standard blueberry variety and into the realm of doughnuthood is that the “muffin top” is dunked in a dreamy glaze.  It made a regular, ordinary muffin a little more special. And, it really helped to seal moisture into the muffin. These guys were just as good on the third day as they were on the first!

We have muffins and yogurt often in our home for a quick breakfast before everyone gets off to work or school for the day. They’re so easy to grab and run out the door with, which is another reason to love them. So, I’m always happy to have another recipe to add to my repertoire. And I’ll definitely be making this one again. Looking forward to trying it with different fruits – I’m sure strawberry would be phenomenal too!

Chocolate Cream Pie

What I’m about to say is a trifle embarrassing, and I’m kind of ashamed to admit it….but, I’m not a pie person. Fruit pies that is. Sure, give me a lemon meringue or a Derby pie – and I’m a happy camper. But, I just don’t care for fruit pies. I’m slowly trying to change that, but it’s been a long row to hoe, and while I’ll enjoy a slice of blueberry pie that I’ve made for my fruit-pie-fiending family – I’m just not quite there yet.

I wanted to make something chocolate for Valentine’s Day. But since our dinner is always relatively low-key in the form of a heart-shaped meatloaf, I didn’t want anything too fancy or extravagant. I’ve been wanting to make chocolate cream pie for ages now, so I decided to go with that. Quickly came together, no rolling of crusts or crimping required. Just a simple Oreo crust, with a chocolate custard poured in, then you let it chill most of the day. Took less than 20 minutes to throw together. The custard filling was wonderful – rich and decadent, and not too sweet. Bittersweet chocolate really is the best in my book! Then it’s topped with some fluffy whipped cream right before slicing and serving!

It was one impressive pie, and I’m also to admit by 11 PM on Valentine’s Evening – it was already half gone. And, everyone else only had 1 slice – so you do the math. It also makes a fabulous breakfast! What I’m getting at is that it didn’t last long. This one was so easy I’ll definitely be turning to it again on those days when you want dessert – but don’t want to spend hours doing so. Which, could be me any day of the week! Have a great weekend, everyone.