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Posted by on Sep 16, 2011 in Try Something New | 0 comments

Farm Flavor

My company recently debuted a new recipe website,, and I’m all about it. It features interesting food facts, Southern favorites, and farm to fork ideas, and it brings you closer to where food comes from. After about 2 minutes on the site, I have a list of recipes I’m excited to try. I also love that you can sort by “themes” like potlucks and picnic friendly and “cooking methods” like cast iron and slow cooker.

Go check it out…

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Posted by on Sep 15, 2011 in Try Something New | 0 comments


I have hated grapes all my life. It’s a texture thing with the skin. I feel the same about blueberries and the like. However, we were served delicious grapes during the breakfast portion of our B&B experience in Atlanta. I’m hooked. I’ve been eating them like crazy to make up for lost time. Grapes are on the Dirty Dozen list for high concentrations of pesticide, and it is recommended that you buy organic.

Note on the title of this post: Mr. J found alternate names from the Internet for foods. We’ve had a fun time the past few days incorporating these new terms. Check out the guide here. 

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Posted by on Sep 13, 2011 in BettyBecca Reviews, Come Together, Mr. J, Try Something New | 2 comments

Amazing Weekend

A couple of weeks ago, Mr. J planned a weekend away for us. It was so lovely, and I’m still smiling looking back on it. I was given Friday night in Chattanooga to plan a surprise. Mr. J had Saturday after the Cirque show in Atlanta to plan as his surprise. He really outdid himself (as always). We really enjoyed planning the surprises and spending time together. I hope we can plan some get-aways like this on a regular basis. They’re so relaxing and fun!
I didn’t take a lot of pictures, but here are the highlights:
  • I scheduled dinner for us at Porter’s Steakhouse in Chattanooga on Friday night. He had 12 oz. Pepperloin and Mashers. I don’t eat steak, and I probably would have traded plates with him. I had salmon, rice, and asparagus for my entree and crab cakes with fresh corn remoulade for appetizer. VERY good meal!
  • We had a terrible night at the Hampton Inn. The air was blowing but didn’t cool, and it was 90 outside. Boo!
  • After a quick breakfast, we struck out for Atlanta. We had lunch at Lenox Square Grill and shopped a little at Lenox Square Mall. Anthropologie and Urban Outfitters were my main stops. Cornbread at the Grill was to die for! I’ll be trying to replicate that soon. My Chef Salad left much to be desired.
Image from
  • Cirque du Soleil – Dralion was wonderful. Loved the silks, juggler, acrobats, trampolines, flippers, and and and. It was a beautiful and amazing show! The comedians were quite good, too.
  • After the show, we checked into our relaxing B&B, Stonehurst Place. It’s very green and very comfy. It was a great surprise to be staying somewhere so nice and cozy!
  • The house has been impeccably renovated. It’s a 19th century Southern mansion, and the decor is neutral and modern and traditional and lovely. There were orchids everywhere, and a beautiful art collection graced the walls. It was an attraction in itself.

For you, Mom Ary

  • We had a newly updated bathroom with beautiful tile work and a neat shower. The bathroom might have been my favorite part. There were cozy bath robes, and the all-natural shampoos and soaps smelled wonderful. The bed was out of this world – 1200 thread count sheets and a custom mattress. We were very pampered.

This is a photo from our room's twin. I wanted to show how beautiful the neutral but glam bedding was.

  • Dinner at Pasta da Pulcinella…I had scallops and risotto with tomatoes, capers, and fresh mozzarella with caprese for appetizer. Mr. J had chicken gnocchi with garlic cream sauce. We both loved our meals, and I would highly recommend this restaurant!
  • We enjoyed wine and chocolate cake from the restaurant on the front porch of the B&B. How divine!
  • Breakfast was delicious…to drink – water with lemon, juice of choice, coffee…to start – blueberry scone and grapes sprinkled with sugar…the main attraction – lightly sweetened souffle with fresh berries and whipped cream. I wish I could make this at home. Rebecca (our innkeeper), can I have the recipe please?
  • After checkout, we went to the World of Coke. It was very fun and happy. It was a great experience. We received complimentary bottles of Coke at the museum.
Image from
  • We had lunch at The Varsity. We’ve seen it on Food Network. They’re celebrating their 80th anniversary this year. I had a chili dog with mustard and onion rings, and Mr. J had a chili burger and fries. He didn’t like it as much as me. I LOVED it!
  • On the way home, we hit the Smoke House in Monteagle. We had fried pies with homemade vanilla ice cream on top. Mr. J had chocolate, and I had peach. I don’t think I need to tell you how delicious that was. We both had a bottle of Dr. Pepper. They had a fun little General Store to look around in, too!
  • It was a wonderful weekend! We made tons of great memories! 😀
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Posted by on Sep 10, 2011 in Store-bought Remix, Try Something New | 0 comments

Carrots Carrots Carrots

Take 5 lbs of carrots.

Wash well, peel, cut off ends, cut in half length-wise, cut top half in half cross-wise.

Steam for 20 minutes.
Remove steamer basket and set aside to cool.
Once cool, process in batches in a food processor to achieve a puree. Add water if necessary to thin. Don’t use the cooking water because it can contain higher levels of nitrates.
Spray ice cube trays with cooking spray, Using a spatula, fill each “cube” with the carrot puree. Scrape along the top to reveal the sections between the cubes. This will make it easier to pop them out. Very GENTLY, tap the tray on the counter to settle any air bubbles. Don’t go crazy or you’ll get carrot everywhere (I speak from experience). Place in the freezer overnight.
 To store, pop out the frozen cubes and keep in a plastic storage bag or container. I still had a little remaining puree that wouldn’t fit, so I got nearly a third tray full with this batch. Label and date the contents of the bag.

A few notes: Yes, this is the same process used to make homemade baby food, but I want it handy to drop into recipes to get a little more undetected veg in our meals. The puree is incredibly tasty, and I think it could go head to head with those little jars any day! I’ll be experimenting with uses. I know that it will pair well with tomato based dishes, and I have a friend that uses purees in her tacos (either carrot, sweet potato, or butternut squash). I’ll pop a few cubes in every now and then and report back to you when I’ve found our favorite uses

Also, the orange color is incredibly concentrated so make sure to clean all of your utensils and work surfaces immediately. My ice cube trays are white, and they are stained a little. I don’t really care about this. The cooking spray helps to minimize the discoloration.

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Posted by on Sep 9, 2011 in Try Something New | 0 comments

Cooking with Wine

This is a new concept for me…cooking with wine. I must say that I really like the depth of flavor it lends to dishes.

Wine + mushrooms = lovers forever

I like red wine in spaghetti sauce. I add 1/3 cup to my recipe.

I like white wine in cream based sauces.

Of course, I like to drink wine, too.

I get this wine for cooking at the grocery store. Can you believe it? (For those of you outside of Tennessee, a.k.a. normal places, we can’t buy wine at the grocery store…only the liquor store. No Two Buck Chuck for us.) I can hardly choose which wine to drink so I’m glad to know I can just get the basics at the store. Is that bad? It’s kind of screw-up proof. You have to show your ID to purchase just like any other alcohol. In my store, it’s on the oil/vinegar/salad dressing aisle.

Do you cook with wine? What are your favorite recipes?




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Posted by on Aug 31, 2011 in Our Favorites, Store-bought Remix, Try Something New | 0 comments

Epic Pasta Evening

Sadly, I didn’t jump at the chance to make pasta at home after learning how in class. Finally, about a month or so ago, I took the plunge, and the results were fantastic. Thanks to the lady on my team that rolled all of her pasta by hand, I successfully did this at home without any special tools.

I made marinara sauce from scratch and homemade meatballs to pair with the fettuccine and a fresh tomato sauce and pesto to pair with the Gorgonzola-filled tortellini.

Basic Pasta Dough

3 large eggs, beaten
1 T olive oil
2 cups AP flour, plus LOTS to roll out dough
1 t kosher salt or 1/2 t fine salt

In food processor, pulse eggs and oil to combine. Mix flour and salt together in a bowl, and add dry mixture through the feed while processor runs until a ball forms. If the dough is too dry, add a few drops of warm water and process briefly. If the dough is too sticky, remove it from processor and knead with additional flour. Depending on where you live and the weather…this process can yield different results. You’ll have to assess the “personality” of your dough each time you make it.

Cover dough with plastic wrap, and let it rest for 20-30 minutes.

Cut the dough into quarters. Remove 1 quarter and keep remaining 3 wrapped tightly. I used about 1/2 of the pasta for fettuccine and 1/2 for tortellini. Make sure your work surface and roller are thoroughly floured. Flatten the piece you are working with and fold into thirds. Flatten again. Repeat folding and flattening 6-8 times. Then roll to a thickness that you can see your hand through. It helps to work on a non-stick surface like a Silpat mat. Let rolled out piece rest for 5 minutes to dry out. For fettuccine, roll up dough and cut along the end to achieve thin strips. Store cut pasta on a baking sheet covered with plastic wrap with a coating of flour. To cook fettuccine, add to a pot of rapidly boiling, salted water. Cook 2-3 minutes. Tip: Remove cooked pasta with a small handheld strainer, tongs, or a slotted spoon and use cooking water for other servings of pasta. For tortellini, see instructions below.

Recipe from Viking Cooking School.

Tortellini Filling

1/2 cup ricotta
1/4 cup + 2 T Gorgonzola cheese
2 T chopped parsley (I used 1 T dried Italian seasoning)
2 cloves of garlic, minced
Pepper (cheese is salty so be careful adding salt)

Mix together and chill until needed. To fill pasta, roll out thinly and cut with a circle cutter. Pipe filling with a Ziplock bag with a corner cut off, a pastry bag, or measure with a 1/2 teaspoon. Wet your fingertip and moisten half of the pasta round’s edge. Fold over and press down the seam. Bring together two folded corners and pinch together. Press back edge opposite of pinch to form the Bishop’s hat. Cover with plastic wrap on a baking sheet coated in flour until ready to cook. Cook in salted, boiling water until all tortellini float to the top. Coat with your sauce of choice. I used a combo of pesto and fresh tomato sauce.


2 cups basil, packed
1/2 cup Parmesan cheese
1/c cup olive oil
1/3 cup pine nuts or walnuts (I used walnuts. They are cheaper and easier to find.)
3 garlic cloves
Salt and pepper

In food processor, add nuts. Pulse. Add basil. Pulse. Add garlic. Pulse.
Slowly add oil with processor on. Scrape down sides as you go. Add cheese and S&P.
Scrape from processor into bowl with air-tight lid. Flatten out the top of the pesto with the back of a spoon. Add a thin coating of olive oil to the top to keep the air away from the basil (it will darken).

Fresh Tomato Sauce (Tomato Concasse)

1 can diced tomatoes, drained
1 t balsamic vinegar
1 t fresh basil, minced
2 t olive oil
Salt and pepper

Combine ingredients, and set aside at room temp for flavors to meld. Sauce is served at room temp (not hot or cold).

Recipe from Viking Cooking School.


8 oz. ground beef
8 oz. Italian sausage
1 egg, beaten
3 T red wine
2 T tomato paste
1/2 cup Italian seasoned bread crumbs
1/2 t salt
1/4 t pepper
1 T parsley
1-2 cloves garlic, minced
1 T Parmesan cheese
1/4 cup finely chopped onions
1 t marjoram
1/2 t basil

Beat egg and add tomato paste and wine. Set aside.

Mix meat and dry ingredients. Use your hands! Add in wet ingredients mixture and mix well. Shape into balls and place on a greased baking sheet.

Notes: I mixed all the ingredients at the same time. It didn’t hurt anything. I also double the recipe (1# of each meat and roughly double seasonings). I use a tablespoon disher to measure out the balls, then roll into a ball with my hands. Just don’t roll them too tightly.

Bake for 20 minutes in a 400 degree oven. Then, flip the balls over and cook for another 10 minutes. Remove from the oven, and place in prepared sauce (I use a triple recipe of sauce for a double batch of meatballs). Cook for at least 30 minutes in sauce. Use a thermometer to ensure than inside temp reads 160 degrees before serving.

Mr. J’s plate – Fettuccine with meatballs

Image at top is my plate: Gorgonzola-filled tortellini with pesto and tomato concasse. Wine is from Mr. J’s trip to San Diego last year.

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