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Glorious Brussels

Posted by on Jan 9, 2012 in Try Something New | 0 comments

Brussels sprouts are one of those foods with a bad rap. Broccoli, too. Personally, I love them. A while back I picked up a bag of frozen Brussels sprouts from Publix, and they’ve been hanging out in the freezer waiting for some inspiration. I decided tonight that I wanted to bust them out with a balsamic glaze. The results were amazing.

I cooked the sprouts according to the package directions to get them thawed and softened. The end results from this method might be a little mushy for some tastes, but I liked it just fine. Once they were done cooking, I spread them out on a baking sheet to cool just a bit. From there, I cut them in half lengthwise with a dinner knife. In a cast iron skillet, I added 1 T of olive oil and set the stove to medium-high. I added the cut up Brussels, and let them hang out. This is the hard part…leaving them alone. Getting the beautiful brown…almost caramelization…is key. You don’t want them to burn, of course. Once the Brussels start to brown, mix them once or twice to let another side brown.

At this point, it was time to get going on the glaze. It’s really complicated…wait for it…I measured out 1/3 cup of balsamic vinegar and added it to a small saucepan on medium-high. Then I let it do it’s thing, bubbling away, until the liquid was reduced by half. That’s it!

To the Brussels, I added 2 T of unsalted butter, 1 t salt, and 1/2 t black pepper for seasoning. When the vinegar is reduced, add it to the Brussels, and stir to combine.

Enjoy! They’re so good!!!

It would also be good to cook a little bacon in the pan before throwing in the Brussels sprouts, and a few chopped walnuts or pecans would really take it over the edge. I’ll just have to experiment and report back!

Oh, and I was surprised to find out what Brussels sprouts look like when they’re grown. I saw them on the “vine” at the Farmers’ Market one day, and it totally freaked me out. I couldn’t believe it.

Spicy Collard Green Bites

Posted by on Jan 1, 2012 in Try Something New | 0 comments

Image source

Greens are another New Year’s food. Here’s a little background from

Cooked greens, including cabbage, collards, kale, and chard, are consumed at New Year’s in different countries for a simple reason — their green leaves look like folded money, and are thus symbolic of economic fortune. The Danish eat stewed kale sprinkled with sugar and cinnamon, the Germans consume sauerkraut (cabbage) while in the southern United States, collards are the green of choice. It’s widely believed that the more greens one eats the larger one’s fortune next year.

I received a Paula Deen calendar from my in-laws, D & T. Each month features a yummy recipe. For March, she makes Collard Green Wontons (similar to these). I thought they sounded delicious, but I didn’t want to fry them. So…I’m remixing them in puff pastry. I also wanted to make them vegetarian so I omitted the bacon.


3 T olive oil
2 – 16 ounce bags of collard greens, leaves cut into small pieces
1  T hot sauce/Tabasco
1/2 t red pepper flakes
1/2 t salt
2 cloves of garlic, minced
2 T unsalted butter
1 – 8 ounce package onion and chive cream cheese + 2 ounces regular cream cheese, softened
2 packages puff pastry, cut into square pieces (about 15 pieces per sheet, roll out if necessary on a floured surface)

In a large saute pan over medium-high heat, add the olive oil and chopped greens. Add hot sauce, red pepper flakes, garlic, and salt to the pan. Saute collards just until beginning to wilt (about 20 minutes). Stir in butter and cream cheese. Remove from heat and check seasonings.

Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Prepare a small bowl with water. With the tip of your finger dipped in water, moisten the edge of the square of puff pastry, and place a scant teaspoonful of the collard mixture into the center. Fold over to form a triangle and seal the edges with a fork. Bake for 15-20 minutes or until tops of pastry are golden brown.


I’ll be bringing these guys to a party later on tonight. I love a New Year’s Day party…so much different (and more my speed) than NYE. Happy 2012, folks!

Simple (but Tasty) Black Eyed Peas

Posted by on Dec 31, 2011 in Try Something New | 0 comments

This time of year, I love to cook the traditional New Year’s foods, which are usually dishes said to bring good luck. Black eyed peas are one of those things that I just have to eat this time of year. According to Wikipedia, eating these black-eyed beauties is said to bring prosperity. I was going to go for frozen, but I found fresh black eyed peas at Publix today for a great price. See? Prosperity!

Last year, my preparation was to roast them until the peas were crunchy (like this recipe). They were well-seasoned and fun to eat…almost like a peanut. The previous year I made Hoppin’ John (Check out this recipe from Emeril). It wasn’t my favorite, but it was fun to make.

Since I found them fresh, I wanted to go with a simple preparation that still packed a good flavor, and I really liked how this came out. The first bite I put in my mouth made me long for Rosy Relish, a sweet church bazaar favorite my grandmother and mom always served with black eyed peas. I’ve made a note to make it for the past couple of summers, but this year will be the year I will follow through. Do you want to make it too? See the recipe at the bottom. Now for the main attraction…the pea recipe:

2 T olive oil (divided)
2 pieces bacon
4 cups water
24 ounces fresh black eyed peas
1/2 t cumin
1/2 t Tabasco/hot sauce
1 t salt
1/2 t pepper
1 T red wine vinegar
1 small onion, finely diced to garnish


Add 1 T oil and bacon to saucepan over medium heat, and cook until bacon is crispy. Add water (carefully) and bring to a boil on high. Add black eyed peas and reduce temp to medium. Cook until tender approximately 15-20 minutes. Drain most of the cooking liquid. Return to low heat and add seasonings and 1 T of olive oil. Stir well to incorporate. Serve with onion on top. Great served over cornbread, too!


Rosy RelishRecipe from Mary McDaniel in the First United Methodist Church of Rutherford, Tennessee Cook Book (1979).

4 cups chopped tomatoes
4 cups chopped apples
2 cups chopped onions
2 cups chopped green peppers
2 cups chopped celery
3 cups vinegar
2 T red pepper (optional)
5 1/2 cups sugar
2 t salt
2 sticks cinnamon
4 T mustard seed
16 whole cloves

Tie spices in a bag. Combine vinegar, sugar, salt, and spices. Bring to a rapid boil. Add the rest of the ingredients, and simmer until mixture is rather thick, about 30-45 minutes. Pour into hot sterile jars and seal.

Now, this is all the detail that Ms. Mary gave us in the original recipe. I promise to give some more details when I make it in a few months.

Happy New Year!

Happy New Year!

Posted by on Dec 31, 2011 in Around Chez Ary | 0 comments

Happy New Year to you and yours! I hope you’re enjoying some time off work and doing some reflection on the past year and planning for the one to come!

I promise regular posting will resume soon! I’ve got some great things planned, and I’m so excited to be on the new domain.

Love to all,

Happy Holidays from Chez Ary!

Posted by on Dec 20, 2011 in Around Chez Ary | 0 comments


Family, Friends, Loved Ones, and Strangers,

Happy Holidays!!!

If you’ve landed on the blog for the first time from our card, welcome! This is meant to be a spin on the traditional “annual family update” that finds its way into Christmas greetings across the land. I hope you’ll like getting a glimpse into our world. I know I’ll be glad to have this to look back on next year!

I started Betty Becca back in January, and I feel like I can call myself a blogger now that I’ve done it rather consistently all year. I attended a Food Blog Forum in October, and it was an honor to experience presentations by some pretty big names in the food blog world. I also met lots of my peers who passed along insight and inspiration. It was an amazing weekend, and I got to know some great people who love to do the same thing that I do…experiment in the kitchen, take a few photos, and record it all for others to enjoy. Over the past month, Mr. J helped me pack up the site over at and move them over to, another step that makes me feel “grown up” in the blogging world.

Now, on to the year in review!

The year started off in 2011 with some wonderful classes I received as Christmas gifts from Mr. J. At Sweetwise near Opryland, I attended a cake decorating class and left with a 6” decorated cake and lots of new skills. I loved this one! At the Viking Cooking School in Franklin, I attended a knife skills class and also learned pasta making. I had a great instructor and team, and the meal we prepared was beyond delicious. Experience gifts are the best!

Mr. J is a professional hobbyist. I like to kid him about his hobby du jour because he likes to mix it up. A few of his current hobbies are

Mr. J and I celebrated our 10 year dating anniversary in June. It was also our 3rd wedding anniversary. Since we’re both in new jobs, we really didn’t take a big vacation this year, but that doesn’t mean we didn’t squeeze in a few adventures. In June, we took a day trip on the motorcycle to Fall Creek Falls with another couple. It was a fun drive with a beautiful hike through nature. In the fall, we had an awesome weekend away in Atlanta. We each planned portions of the trip to be a surprise for the other, which made for a great little get away. You can read all about it here.


+ Steeplechase

Friend from the Internet (Hi, Marie)

Guest post and feature by a major brand

Acting debut

Epic layer cake

I turned 26 in November. I had two great family dinners and lots of birthday “happies” that made the occasion very special. Looking back on this year, a few things I’m proud of include decorating for a friend’s wedding reception, coordinating weddings at church, creating a digital update system for my sorority’s alumnae association, putting together fresh flower arrangements, and starting a monthly meet up with a group of remarkable women.

New favorites
Wine: Cab sav
Shoes: Riding boots
Books: The Hunger Games
Grain: Quinoa

Mr. J and I both have new work homes, so we’re getting settled in. I’m working for a custom content / publishing company in a digital media and technology ambassador role. I love the company, my co-workers, and the job I do day-to-day and I look forward to growing there. Mr. J recently took a position as a senior software developer for an emergency notification company. He’s helping develop a new platform which will cover a variety of situations internationally ranging from natural disaster broadcasting to amber alerts to fire brigade and nuclear disaster responder notification. Working to improve systems that already save lives has been a nice breath of fresh air coming out of the finance world. He’s enjoying working with new technologies and having a say in the design from the ground up.  Work isn’t everything for us, but it is nice to enjoy what you do for a living!

Becca’s New Year’s Resolutions
+ Send cards to mark special occasions and give thoughtful gifts
Live on purpose – eat good food, be present, cherish each moment, give, spend time with interesting people, etc.
Plan meals by the month and try freezer cooking
Experiment with new cheeses by purchasing a new kind each time I grocery shop

We marked the second year in our house in July. We painted the third room of the house this weekend…well, fourth if you count the garage as a room. Both the office and the garage have been made gray which is quite the stark contrast to our vibrant green living room and golden amber kitchen. We’re thinking about tackling the bathrooms next after we get a desk, couch, and curtain update in the office.

Favorite Recipes
Entree – Lasagna rolls
Side – Dilled Carrots
Dessert – Chocolate Crinkle Cookies

Waiting for Santa

Tucker and Oscar are doing great! The boys switched over to grain-free food over the past few months, and we’ve noticed some subtle improvements in their skin, coat and eating habits. They’ve been good boys this year, as long as there isn’t a “chewie” (aka rawhide) to fight over! Santa has lots of great goodies to bring to them. They’re going to love it!

Well, there you have it, hope you’ve enjoyed our reflection on all of the happenings! 2011 has been a great year at Chez Ary! Wishing you and yours a healthy and prosperous 2012!

Betty Becca and Mr. J


Multiple Measurers: A series!

Posted by on Dec 10, 2011 in Kitchen Tools, On the Basics | 2 comments

I remember learning all about measuring in Foods class in high school. I had no idea that there was actually a method to all of this measuring madness. The lessons stuck with me, and I wanted to share some helpful measuring tips with you.

I have three sets of measuring cups and spoons. I use all three sets of measuring spoons separated from their rings corralled in a plastic dish in my utensil drawer. I keep two sets of dry measuring cups (nested together to save space, naturally) in my kitchen drawer closest to the stove, and I have another set for household measuring (more on that later). I have a couple of stacks of wet measuring cups and a kitchen scale. All of these items come in handy, and they’re some of my most used kitchen tools.

Stay tuned for more tips on measuring spoons, dry and wet measuring, and using a scale.


(Photo Credit)