If you’re driving down the “main drag” here on the Eastern Shore of Virginia (aka Route 13), one of the best things you can do for yourself is to turn off the beaten path. All roads lead to the water eventually – seaside or bayside. It doesn’t matter. Chances are you’ll stumble on a seafood shack in your travels. And this time of year, they’re all sure to have fresh soft shell crabs. A delicacy here, as well as around the world.

My favorite spot is Martin’s Crabhouse in Saxis, VA. It’s about a 20 minute drive for me on Chincoteague, but when it comes to crabs – it’s always worth the trip. You’ll usually find two old salts sitting on the front porch of the crab shack, no doubt talking about fish tales. One of the younger guys inside will shuffle over to the peeling tables and fish out a dozen for me – wriggling as they’re pulled out of the water and placed in the box. It really doesn’t get fresher than that.

Up until last week, breading and pan-frying was my go-to prepare a soft shell crab. But, after putting them on the grill…I fear I can never go back. First off, it was easier and way less mess. Always a win! But the flavor. THE FLAVOR. Sweet, tender crab with a heady dose of smokiness from the grill. I brushed with fresh garlic herb butter while cooking, which helped them to not stick to the grill – as well as impart more wonderful flavor. A few minutes on the grill, and they plump up to pure perfection.

I wanted to pair them with pasta, so I made a quick scampi sauce using the usual suspects – butter, garlic, lemon, white wine. And, a few cherry tomatoes and basil for a little extra flair and color. Was just enough to make the pasta moist, and paired perfectly with the crab – just making it’s flavors sing a little louder.

Move over, Shrimp Scampi. There’s a new kid on the block…

Cranberry Orange MuffinsCranberry Orange Muffins are a great way to start out breakfast on Thanksgiving morning. Sweet, citrusy, and a little bit of crunch from the almonds – they’re wonderful for munching on during the parade.

Cranberry RelishAnd, while we’re on the topic of cranberries, a Homemade Cranberry Relish is a must-have on our Thanksgiving table. Cranberries, pecans, and fresh orange are comeI love using fresh cranberries while they are in season!

Roasted TurkeyThe bird. I like to brine mine the night before, then stuff with lots of citrus and herbs, and baste in a mixture of butter and hard cider. Haven’t had a dry bird in years!

Hard Cider GravyThis Hard Cider Gravy is pretty much perfection in a gravy boat. The hard cider adds a great depth of flavor that I don’t think is attained with wine. We love it!

Oyster StuffingOyster Stuffing is another must-have on any Eastern Shore Thanksgiving table. The oysters add a wonderful saltiness, complexity, and moisture to an otherwise bland dish!

Apricot Glazed Green BeansWe strive to have something green on the table, and these Apricot Glazed Green Beans are always my go-to choice. Plus, they include bacon – so what’s not to love?

Buttermilk-Chive Mashed PotatoesThese Buttermilk-Chive Mashed Potatoes are a jazzed-up version of a classic. Creamy and rich, who doesn’t love perfect mashed potatoes?

Sweet Potato BiscuitsSweet Potato Biscuits are another “must-have” item for Thanksgiving here on Virginia’s Eastern Shore. They’re a little bit denser than your traditional buttermilk biscuit, and they pair wonderfully with all the turkey and trimmings on the table! I’ve also got a great traditional dinner roll recipe too.

Pomegranate MargaritasAnd lastly, Pomegranate Margaritas. There’s nothing better than curling up with those you love after dinner, enjoying a cocktail, and watching some football on Thanksgiving evening.

I feel so fortunate to have all these wonderful boys to take care of, and a loving husband and father by my side. Not to mention the big move back to Chincoteague and being so close to family and friends again. Our family definitely has a lot to be thankful for this year!

I hope everyone has a wonderful Turkey Day, and take at least a moment out of your day to think about what we all have to be thankful for. Looking forward to getting the Holiday season kicked off in my kitchen. I have lots of delicious goodies to share with you guys in the coming month!

Yesterday I shared with you the most popular posts from 2013 here on Tide & Thyme. Today I’m here to share my favorite recipes that were posted this year. Drum roll, please….

Ham & Cheese SlidersHot Ham & Cheese Sliders – these are without a doubt the recipe that I’ve made the most often this year. We have them for lunch or dinner at least once every couple weeks, which says alot in our house. They’re too easy to be so good! 

Cheerwine CakeCheerwine Cake – another easy favorite. The cake is moist and sweet, and the frosting – which is somewhere between a frosting and a glaze, is just unbeatable. This is the dessert I always turn to when I want something homemade, but don’t feel like spending a ton of time in the kitchen. Equally delicious when made with cola or root beer!

Chicken Tortilla SoupChicken Tortilla Soup – I find myself thinking about this soup on the regular. And, once I think about it, I have to make it. The flavors sing in perfect harmony with each other. It’s a meal that fills you up, without weighing you down. And as with most other soups, it’s even better the second day around!

Macadamia Key Lime PieMacadamia Key Lime Pie – This year I became a Field Editor for Taste of Home magazine, and this is one of the first recipes I tried from them. It’s dreamy, and it was all I could do not to eat the entire thing myself. In fact, I need to make another one soon – it’s been too long!

LumpiaLumpia – This was a favorite that an old family friend used to make, and I finally gave it a spin on my own this year. Having a family full of boys (with one more on the way!), they love meat – so to stuff a bunch of ground pork into a crispy wrapper and then fry it was sure to be a winner. A great football snack!

Shrimp and GritsShrimp & Grits – We had the opportunity to visit the beautiful city of Charleston, SC this spring. When I got home I couldn’t wait to give this dish a try in my own kitchen. This version is from the Lee Brothers. Shrimp cooked in a delicious tomato gravy, served over creamy grits. It doesn’t get much better than this!

Grapefruit CrushThe Grapefruit Crush – any form of citrus crushes are popular here on our Eastern Shore beaches, but the grapefruit rendition is most definitely my favorite. The ingredients are so simple, but they make for a cocktail that is so refreshing and delicious. They’re especially tasty when made with ruby red grapefruits, which happen to be in season right now!

Strawberry Pretzel SaladStrawberry Pretzel Salad – I’m really proud of myself for taking a classic barbecue staple, and making it even better by replacing the Cool Whip with homemade whipped cream. It still held up just as well, and I feel so much better knowing what’s inside. I’m already looking forward to summer to make this one again!

Chicken ChesapeakeChicken Chesapeake – this was definitely another year chock full of blue crabs for us, and this stuffed chicken breast was one of the favorite things I did with it. Chicken, crab meat, bacon, cheese – what’s not to adore?

Raspberry Truffle BrowniesRaspberry Truffle Brownies – these brownies taste even better than they look, which is really saying something. Rich brownies studded with fresh raspberries, and topped with a chocolate ganache frosting that contains more pureed fresh berries. Beautiful and absolutely delicious!

I can’t wait to see what the next year brings in my kitchen, and I really can’t thank you guys enough for spending the year with me here at Tide & Thyme. I hope that everyone has a very Happy New Year – and here’s to a wonderful 2014. Cheers!

It’s been another great year here at Tide & Thyme. A great year of cooking, and a great year of eating. A big thanks to you guys for making this the best year for the site yet, and I hope to see you back here next year looking for tasty new recipes!

So without further adieu, here are your favorite posts from this year…

Beer-Candied BaconThe beer-candied bacon was by far the most popular post of the year. In fact, it was one of the top pins on Pinterest for the year as well! And, for good reason – it’s easy, delicious, and unforgettable. For something I was debating even taking pictures of and sharing with you guys, I’m so glad I did – because it’s turned out to be one of the most popular recipes of all time here on the site! Thank you internet, for loving beer and bacon as much as I do…

Homemade Enchilada SauceHomemade Enchilada Sauce – This was another big year for DIY-ing in my kitchen, and this enchilada sauce is one of my favorite “store-bought” ingredients to make at home. Takes just a few minutes to bring together, and the flavor is unparalleled to anything you’d find on a shelf in the supermarket.

Indonesian Pork TenderloinIndonesian Pork Tenderloin was another big hit here on the site this year. I love pretty much any flavorful twist on this tender protein choice, but there’s something about the combination of flavors found here that make this recipe a winner I keep coming back for, and evidently you guys do too!

Bacon Stout Chocolate CheesecakeBacon Stout Chocolate Cheesecake – with all those components in one recipe, what’s not to love? This was a recipe I tried to copycat from our local brewpub (word to Dogfish!) that ended up being even better than their version, if I do say so myself.

Oreo Cheesecake BitesOreo Cheesecake Bites – ya’ll clearly love your sweets, and here at Tide & Thyme we aim to please. These guys are perfect little bites of perfection chock full of everyone’s favorite sandwich cookie. No wonder it’s been such a hit!

Bacon and Aspargaus Pasta

Bacon and Asparagus Pasta – this was one I just kind of winged one night, that turned out to be a favorite. It’s quick and filling, and aside from the asparagus – can be made with ingredients most of us usually have on hand.

Lemon Cupcakes with Blackberry ButtercreamLemon Cupcakes with Blackberry Buttercream – citrus and berries are always a winning combination in my book, but when paired with a cupcake? Well then it’s just pretty tough to beat! You guys evidently felt the same.

Chocolate Cream PieChocolate Cream Pie – one of my very favorite desserts, as well as yours. It’s been a classic for ages. This version is rich and delicious, and cuts absolutely beautifully – something that can be tricky when it comes to cream pies. 

Beef Burritos with Poblano QuesoBeef Burritos with Poblano Queso – a quick weeknight dinner that’s something different than your standard tacos. Tender ground beef, corn, and black beans all rolled up in a flour tortilla, then topped with a creamy cheese sauce that’ studded with smoky poblano peppers. Win!

Blackberry MargaritasBlackberry Margaritas – it may be the dead of winter, but we can still dream of our favorite summertime drinks…like, these insanely delicious margaritas. Fresh berries are pureed and added to a homemade margarita mix to make a cocktail that is out of this world delicious!

So, there they are – the reader favorites for 2013. Thanks again for making it such a fantastic year for us, everyone! And, make sure to check back tomorrow for some of my favorites from this year that didn’t make it to the list!