Wednesday, September 30, 2009

Great Sting Ray Bloody Mary Mixer Seafood Recipes

I was at Harris Teeter this summer and they had diver bay scallops and shrimp from Virginia on sale so I thought I would make some new recipes with Blue Crab Bay Sting Ray Bloody Mary Mixer. I made Scallops Italian and Bloody Mary Shrimp and Pasta. They have become two of my favorite seafood dishes.

What is Blue Crab Bay STING RAY Spicy Bloody Mary Mixer? It is a thick and rich blend of clam and tomato juices spiced with Blue Crab Bay's Chesapeake Bay Style Seafood Seasoning and freshly grated horseradish. Great alone, as a mixer, or a cooking sauce. A true combination of the flavors of the Chesapeake region! The Virginia Marketplace sells the 25 fl. oz. bottles, which has a fishnet-imprinted seal. We also have it in many gift baskets.

Here are the recipes:
1 lb. fresh shrimp, peeled and deveined,3 cloves garlic, crushed1/4 cup olive oil,1 lb. fettuccine or other pasta,1-1/2 cups Sting Ray Bloody Mary Mixer,2 Tbs. fresh chopped parsley, and Parmesan cheese.
Cook pasta according to directions, drain and keep warm. Sauté shrimp with garlic in olive oil until the flesh is opaque, usually 3-5 minutes. Add to pasta and toss with Sting Ray Bloody Mary Mixer. Garnish with fresh chopped parsley and grated Parmesan. Serve with a fresh garden salad and bread. Have a little extra Sting Ray Mixer in a small creamer available for guests who enjoy extra zing!

¼ cup olive oil,1 onion, diced,1 green pepper, diced1 garlic clove, minced1 can tomatoes (16 oz), chopped and drained,3-4 Tbs. Sting Ray Bloody Mary Mixer,1 lb. Bay scallops,1 Tbs. butter,¼ cup dry white wine,1 Tbs. lemon juice, and Italian Bread Crumbs. Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Sauté onion, green pepper, and garlic in olive oil until soft. Add tomatoes and Sting Ray Bloody Mary Mixer. Simmer 15 minutes, stirring occasionally. Meanwhile sauté scallops for 2-3 minutes in butter. Add wine and lemon juice and simmer 5 minutes. Combine all ingredients in lightly greased baking dish. Sprinkle Breadcrumbs on top and bake 5-10 minutes until lightly browned. For variation: Sprinkle with crumbled feta cheese or grated parmesan. I used parmesan and served it with Jasmine rice.

Here is some additional information about Blue Crab Bay:
In 1985, Blue Crab Bay founder Pamela Barefoot had an inspired vision of what a business could be. From her seaside farmhouse kitchen she imagined a company that would put the tastes of the Chesapeake region on the map, be a protector of the environment and provide stimulating and fun employment for citizens of her rural community. Surrounding herself with foods from the Chesapeake, a functioning stove, a list of contacts and boatloads of imagination and determination, Barefoot got to work. Sales exploded, awards rained plentiful, and the number of employees mounted. Barefoot began distribution of other products, including foods and gift items.Her first brand, Blue Crab Bay Co., featured original products like seasonings for crab dip and gift packs wrapped in weathered fishnet with seashells. In the late 1980's, on the strength of the addictive "Clam Dip Blend", the customer base escalated geographically and her small company began exhibiting at national trade shows. Blue Crab Bay offers an extensive product line of specialty foods and gifts, internationally recognized for their signature blue labeling, handsome packaging and unrivaled taste. The handsome packaging even gained the attention of Hollywood set directors. Kitchen cabinets were stocked full in an opening shot of Julia Roberts' film "Sleeping with the Enemy."

When she found her company in financial trouble, Barefoot did not give up. She went into her kitchen and developed her dream product. She spent the early months of 1994 mixing tomato paste, clam juice, horseradish and seafood spices to create Sting Ray Bloody Mary Mixer. Their best selling Sting Ray® Bloody Mary Mixer won top honors in Outstanding Beverage a prestigious award competition at the International Fancy Food Show in New York. Blue Crab Bay Co. has been featured in many national publications, including INC., Coastal Living and Nation's Business. The company was selected as a 1998 Blue Chip Enterprise and in 1999 Barefoot was honored as the Small Business Administration's Small Business Person of the Year for the State of Virginia. In 2003, she received the SBA's Outstanding Woman Entrepreneur Award in Washington, DC.

In the shadows of all this success, Blue Crab Bay Co.'s corporate culture continues to demonstrate a strong commitment to the environment and its rural Eastern Shore community. Each year, employees energetically plan and execute charity events. Since 1998, the Blue Crabbers Relay for Life Team has raised over $50,000 to benefit the American Cancer Society. The company supports various organizations including the Chesapeake Bay Foundation, Citizens for a Better Eastern Shore, The Nature Conservancy, and the United Way of United Way of Virginia’s Eastern Shore.

We also sell Blue Crab Bay’s delicious seafood soups and seafood dip kits. These products can all be found in gift boxes and gift baskets. I’ll talk about these products in other blogs.

Sunday, September 27, 2009

Great Weather Year for Virginia Apples

The size and colors of the apples grown in Virginia are an indication that summer has ended and fall is here. Orchards in Central Virginia began picking apples in late July and early August and will continue to have apples until November. A lack of hail and the right amount of rain has made this year’s apple crop more plentiful than last year’s. Apples are Virginia’s eighth largest agricultural crop.

One of the big contributing factors of the good quality and size of the apples of this year’s crop was a wet spring followed by a dry spell in August. The dry spell made early apples sweet, red apples redder than ever and the golden apples are more golden than ever.

A hurricane or a premature freeze could change all that and harm the fruit. If Hurricane Ike had taken a turn and worked its way up the East Coast earlier this month, local apple trees could have been in trouble. Hurricanes with 80 mph winds could blow apples off a tree and uproot it.

At the Virginia Marketplace we love apples and have chosen to sell these unique products that are made from Virginia apples: La Provencale Cellars Apple Grilling Glaze and Le Mousseux Sparkling Apple Cider as well as Graves Mountain Apple Butter.

Friday, September 25, 2009

Peanut Butter is Good For You!

This recent article in USA Weekend inpired this blog.
Good news about peanut butter: You might want to think twice before putting down that spoonful of peanut butter. It turns out the lunchtime staple is good for you. Government guidelines recommend limiting daily fat consumption to between 20% and 35% of calories, and saturated fats should be less than 10%, according to the departments of Agriculture and Health and Human Services. So moderation is key when eating foods high in calories such as peanut butter, says Harvard nutritionist Walter C. Willett. One serving (about 2 tablespoons) of regular creamy peanut butter has 3.3 grams of saturated fat (chunky style has 2.6 grams), but it also contains nutrients such as potassium and niacin. And one serving contains 12.3 grams of unsaturated fat, which can lower cholesterol and decrease the risk of heart disease. But if you are watching your blood pressure, look for unsalted versions with only 5 mg of sodium per serving.

Here are some interesting facts about peanuts and peanut butter:
Did you know that Americans eat an average of about 6 pounds of peanuts per person, per year, according to the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA). Almost half of the U.S. peanut crop is used to make peanut butter. It takes nearly 850 peanuts to make a jar of peanut butter. Peanut butter must be at least 90 percent peanuts with no artificial sweeteners, colors or preservatives to officially be labeled peanut butter.

Who invented peanut butter? Some speculate that peanut butter was first introduced in the United States in 1890, when a St. Louis physician invented peanut butter to provide his patients with an easy-to-digest, high protein food. Others still believe it to be the ‘father of the peanut industry’, George Washington Carver who invented more than 300 uses for peanuts.

Dates of importance:
National Peanut Butter Day is January 22nd.
National Peanut Month is March.
National Peanut Butter and Jelly Day is April 2nd.
Sept 13 was National Peanut Day!

The Virginia Marketplace has chosen The Peanut Shop of Williamsburg Peanut Butter to sell. Here is what they say about it: “A favorite for years, our all natural Virginia Peanut Butter has become famous. Our peanut butter is just that - peanuts, and maybe a pinch of salt. No added sugars.” It is available in smooth, salt free smooth, crunchy, or a sampler of all three. We also sell peanut straws, peanut butter pie, peanut butter brownie pie, peanut butter cheesecake truffles and peanut butter petit fours.

Tuesday, September 22, 2009

Autumn is For Apples

Since today is the first day of autumn I'm thinking about two of our great apple products from La Provencale Cellars.

We found out about La Provencale Cellars at a wine festival. It was a very hot day. We had been tasting wine and came upon this sparkling apple cider company. What a refreshing delight. You may have had sparkling apple cider in the past and say all cider is the same. That is not true. This sparkling apple cider is a blend of seven different apple varieties to create an elegant, dry, sophisticated cider reminiscent of those in western France. The blend includes Granny Smith for crisp freshness, Macintosh for its distinctive apple aromatic and taste components, Jonathan for the cinnamon and nutmeg overtones, Fuji for its juicy sweetness, along with others to round out the blend. Carbonation is the final addition to create a fresh fruity beverage that is at home in a champagne flute on its own or with dinner. The sparking cider was named Le Mousseux, French for the bubbles or the effervescence, and became an instant hit as an alternative beverage to serve in a wine glass or flute with dinner. Sparkling apple cider is also perfect for family occasions, for kids or those wanting a non-alcoholic beverage choice. The Virginia Marketplace sell Le Mousseux by itself and in gift baskets. (UPDATE: Le Mousseux is no longer produced)

We have also enjoyed their Apple Grilling Glaze as well on pork and chicken. It is appleious. The Apple Grilling Glaze is not too sweet or too vinegarized. There are so many ways they recommend using it. It is perfect as a plate dressing in a simply prepared dinner, such as a covering for sautéed chicken breast. Youngsters can top their chicken nuggets with Grilling Glaze. You can mix it with breadcrumbs and whole cranberries for a stuffing or paint a fresh ham before baking. It makes baby back ribs delicious and is superb on a pork sandwich. They recommend adding it to meat on the grill during the last few minutes (almost no fat content in the Glaze - you don't want scorching), or painting it on a casserole creation at the beginning of baking. It is also a great bread spread for a meat sandwich. The Virginia Marketplace sells apple grilling glaze by itself and in gift baskets.

Here is some information on La Provencale Cellars..
Tom Rodriguez was convinced that Virginia apples could produce sparkling apple ciders as fruity and complex as the ones he enjoyed in Brittany and Normandy. After retirement from an international champagne, wine and spirits house, he designed a business to market the effervescent apple cider he remembered. During twenty years of corporate division management and marketing, he traveled regularly throughout the middle Atlantic region tracing many miles through the apple orchards of northwestern Virginia. His background expertise in champagne and sparkling wine led him to consider high acid level of eastern apple production - the same level of acidity being one of the factors that make good sparkling wines. His proprietary cuvee of several orchard varietals was infused with bubbles to create Le Mousseux, a gourmet sparkling apple cider - a non-alcoholic festive favorite.Apple spreads, based on memories of his grandmother's cooking were a natural extension of the product line. His West Virginia grandmother's handwritten recipes and notes in the margin of her cookbook were the source of his fruit combinations. The huge cook pots over an outside fire are gone, but the home-cooked flavors are wonderful.

Wednesday, September 16, 2009

Virginia is for Apple Lovers!

You may know Virginia is known for its peanuts but we are also known for our apples. The Virginia Marketplace has a variety of apple products like apple butter, apple grilling glaze and Sparkling Apple Cider. This blog will be about apples and apple butter. There will be more about grilling glaze and cider in another blog.

There are many apple festivals in Virginia in October. Carter Mountain’s Apple Harvest Festival is October 3 and 4 and October 10 and 11. Join Carter’s Mountain for music, crafts, food, hayrides, apple butter, apple cider, apple donuts, apple pie, and all things apple! Graves Mountain’s Apple Festival is October 10-11 and October 17-18. Enjoy fun filled days complete with good food and entertainment including bluegrass music, cloggers, arts and crafts, hayrides and horseback rides. Experience the days of yesteryear watching apple butter being cooked in kettles over an open fire. Orchards are open for apple picking or you may select your own from the apple bins. You can get Graves Mountain’s delicious preserves, apple butter and green pepper jelly at The Virginia Marketplace. Don’t miss trying their incredibly creamy and perfectly spiced apple butter. We enjoy using Graves Mountain apple butter on pancakes and French toast. Their Orange Marmalade with pieces of oranges and lemons tastes like “sunshine in a jar” on a croissant.

History of Apple Butter -Apple butter was a popular way of using apples in colonial America and well into the 19th century. Making apple butter was a family event and prepared in large kettles. Family members took turns using paddles to stir the apple butter while it cooked. Apple Butter is created by slow-cooking apples until the sugar caramelizes and the apples take on the consistenc of butter. There is no dairy or butter involved in the product; the term “butter” refers nly to the thick, soft consistency, and apple butter’s use as a spread for breads. Typically seasoned with cinnamon, cloves and other spices, apple butter may be spread on buttered toast, used as a side dish, an ingredient in baked goods, or as a condiment.

Here is an interesting story about apple butter that I found. Traditionally, the preparation of apple butter was a weekend long community event. It all started early in the morning when the men would harvest several bushels of apples. The boys would gather firewood to heat copper kettles. The mothers peeled and sliced the apples. They used knives not peelers. The mothers were secretly checking out the letters made by the peels to see who they should have actually married. Then the cut apples were thrown into the heated copper kettles while the girls took turns stirring with large wooden paddles and gossiping. It was important that the apples be stirred constantly or else they would burn and the whole town would take the girl in charge and put her in a stock and throw cream pies at her face. The women would then spice the mixture with cinnamon, nutmeg and cloves. Since making the apple butter required the apples to be stewed all day, the aroma filled the town air with sweet incense comforting the souls. When the sky was overcome by the colors of the setting sun, the apple butter was done and all the men got off their hammocks to come down to the copper pot for the first taste. In October, many “historic” towns around the U.S. have apple butter festivals where they roll out the copper kettles and throw a party. Come to Carter’s Mountain or Graves Mountain Apple Harvest festivals to enjoy one of these apple festivals.

Sunday, September 13, 2009

Jellystone Park, oops, I meant Shenandoah Park

I had my first bear sighting in a long time outside the Shenandoah Park. Over Labor Day on the way into the Swift Run Gap entrance of the Shenandoah Park we saw a bear in a tree. It was thrashing in the tree eating wild grapes. It was so close and seemed so tame that it made us think we were looking at a mechanical bear. It even parted the tree limbs to look at us. It was as if it was playing peek a boo. It started a bear traffic jam and people were jumping out of their cars to get as close as they could to the bear. When we moved up to pay we told the ranger there was a bear in the tree. She didn’t believe us at first. We think she either thought we were joking with her or that we asked if we would see a bear in the park. She looked at us like we had some nerve and said, “What do you people think this is, Jellystone Park?” Once we got her to understand there really was a bear, her expression changed to panic. She thanked us and went off to deal with the people by the tree. She probably had to remind everyone that even though the bear seemed tame, this was a wild bear and they needed to get back in their cars before someone got hurt. For a short moment in time, the Shenandoah Park became Jellystone Park.

Monday, September 7, 2009

Chillin' at The Brew Ridge Trail Music Festival

Microbrew beers are becoming big in Central Virginia. First the wineries came, then the Monticello Wine Trail. Then the breweries came and now we have the Brew Ridge Beer Trail. The Charlottesville-area beer trail is believed to be the first trail in Virginia that focuses primarily on locally brewed beer.

In Nelson County there recently was the first Brew Ridge Trail Music Festival at The Devil’s Backbone Brewing Company. The beer and music festival was held on Aug. 22 from 12-8. The breweries in attendance were Starr Hill Brewery, South Street Brewery, Blue Mountain Brewery, and Devil’s Backbone Brewery. There was also Hard Cider from Albemarle CiderWorks. There were many bands: Earl Knox, William Walter & Tucker Rogers, Robbing Mary, Jesse Harper, The Infamous Stringdusters, and Sons of Bill. It rained, no pored most of the day. It was chilly because of the rain like it has been so many weekends this spring and summer. Many people stood out in the rain with their coats and umbrellas and listened to the music when the rain was light enough to be able to hear it. Others huddled under the beer tent and kept drinking or hung out in the restaurant or in the covered entrance to the restaurant rocking in the rocking chairs straining to hear the music. When it was raining lighter the kids ignored the rain and played with their hula-hoops. It was as if they were chanting away the rain. The bands played on even when no one could hear them. We all cheered when the sun came out and the day warmed up. The crowd grew and the day went by fast. It was a great day despite the rain. Hopefully we can enjoy the sun more next year.

Thursday, September 3, 2009

A Visit to The Peanut Shop of Williamsburg

On the way to Virginia Beach there was a traffic accident so we decided to get off I64. We stopped at The Peanut Shop of Williamsburg. I always love to go there and sample everything, especially new products. I sure have a sweet tooth. I enjoyed the chocolate peanuts and chocolate covered peanut brittle and chocolate covered almonds as well as the Peanut Squares. The Sweet Georgia Pecans and Chocolate Cashews are to die for.

We also fell in love with the Crab Town Nuts and had to get some to take with us to the beach. They have Chesapeake Bay seasoning on them. Chesapeake Bay seasoning has been an important part of going to the beach since I was a child. My dad’s famous shrimp and beer dish has it in it. Saturday’s dinner at the beach was always shrimp, with fresh corn in season (canned when not) and Jasmine rice. We don’t go down to the beach as often now, but we still have our favorite Chesapeake Bay shrimp dish when we do. The Virginia Marketplace is going to feature Crab Town Nuts in some of our gift baskets and peanut assortments. Soon you will find it in our Crab Lover’s Ocean Bounty gift basket, as well as a Peanut Lover’s red, white and blue picnic basket, and in assortments with New Orleans and Hot! Southern, and another with Salted Peanuts and Chocolate Covered Peanut Brittle.

Here is some information about The Peanut Shop of Williamsburg: Located in the heart of Colonial Williamsburg is The Peanut Shop of Williamsburg, the place where our own "founding fathers" began. It was in that tiny shop where their small batch, hand-cooked roasting techniques were developed and perfected. Although there have been many changes since The Peanut Shop of Williamsburg first opened its doors, what hasn't changed is that they still achieve their legendary flavor and crunchiness as a result of time honored cooking practices. They begin with only premium quality, super extra large Virginia peanuts, hand selected for their size. These peanuts are first water blanched, which gives them their fresh and unique crunchiness, and then small batch roasted in 100% peanut oil under the direct supervision of their Roastmaster. The Virginia Marketplace offers a vast variety of Virginia Peanuts, Specialty Nuts, and Gift Baskets and Gift Sets from The Peanut Shop of Williamsburg. We also feature The Peanut Shop peanuts in our Virginia Marketplace Gift Baskets.