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Posted by on Mar 17, 2014 in eat/make/do | 0 comments

Toddler version #keepinitreal

This is the BettyBecca version of the link round-ups you’re seeing everywhere these days. These are things caught my eye or new things I’m trying out.

I can’t stop thinking about this epic snack (hello, meat chips).

This is a lot like my life in the kitchen especially the poltergeist cabinets (except when I get REAL in the kitchen, I clean as I go.).

I need a ticket to Hoboken. 

I’ll be keeping track of this frosting guide for handy reference. 

Homemade tortillas need to happen asap.

Aarti (Food Network Star Winner, Season 6) is back on the scene, and it’s been great hearing from her. Show her some love! (I freaking love this: What the buck?)

Mr. J’s epic birthday cake got featured on The Red Headed Stepchild. Check out Sarah’s awesome version of this cake for her husband’s birthday.

I’ve been sharing the toddler’s version of meals on Instagram (pictured above), and I’ve been getting great feedback. I hope to keep it up so follow me @Betty_Becca for more!

Eggs of Instagram

Posted by on Mar 14, 2014 in On the Basics | 1 comment

Barely slowing down for a picture #yum

I’ve noticed a trend: I like to take Instagram photos of my weekend breakfasts, and they almost always include eggs. My favorite way to eat them is whatever gets me to a nice golden runny yolk…either fried or poached.

I haven’t followed up on my egg poaching resolution just yet, but I have mastered the fried egg lately. I’ll take that small win for now. If you’re working on your egg skills like I am, check out these tutorials from some of my favorite food bloggers:

Here’s the one for poached eggs from Smitten Kitchen, and the one for fried eggs from Pioneer Woman (that I’ve talked about before). This combo is a cool approach from A Cook at Heart. I’m going to try that soon.

French toast is next up on the Favorites list. I’ve been making it dairy free with almond milk, throwing in a dash of cinnamon, and cooking up some fruit to go on top in the same pan once I flip the toast over. It’s a big hit with the toddler set, too.

Apparently, I’m not the only one with an affinity for posting my eggs on the ‘gram. Check this out, and add your own pics with #eggsofinstagram:

Sunday in the Kitchen: Enchiladas from Scratch

Posted by on Mar 10, 2014 in Everyone Will Eat It | 0 comments

Tonight, I made enchiladas from scratch, and they turned out to be really yum. Mr. J asked me to jot everything down so we can have them again soon. Below you’ll find the spice mix, sauce method, enchilada recipe, and a bonus side idea.

I really like to do a big batch of something on Sundays. It serves two purposes – it gives us time to enjoy a meal together as a family before the craziness of the week starts, and it gets me started off right with either toddler lunches or one less meal to worry about through the week.

It was great to be back in the kitchen…workin’ on something from scratch. Just like the good ole days. At our house, an important part of this meal was toddler wranglin’ by Mr. J while I got everything prepared. Getting dinner on the table isn’t as easy as it used to be, people! (Which explains the lack of picture…sorry!)

Enchilada Sauce Spice Mix

4 tsp chili powder
3 tsp paprika + 1 tsp smoked paprika (or 4 tsp regular, if you don’t have smoked)
4 teaspoons cornstarch
3 teaspoons salt
2 teaspoons sugar
2 teaspoons ground cumin
1 teaspoon oregano (or Italian seasoning)
1 teaspoon ground coriander
1/4 – 1/2 teaspoon cayenne (based on your taste preferences and how hot your particular bottle of cayenne is)

Add all ingredients to an air-tight container. Shake or stir to combine completely.

To finish the sauce, you’ll need
1 – 28 oz. can of crushed tomatoes + scant amount of water

In a small saucepan on low heat, add this entire dry mixture to 1 – 28 oz. can of crushed tomatoes or tomato sauce. Rinse out the can with a small amount of water to get the last little bit of tomato out and thin the sauce. Whisk the mixture until well incorporated. Keep on low heat until needed.

Notes: This makes a lot of sauce that is thicker than traditional enchilada sauce. That’s how we like it at Chez Ary. We keep it saucy.
Based on this recipe. You can double (or multiply to your heart’s desire) this recipe easily to always have dried mix on hand stored in an air-tight container.

To complete enchiladas, you’ll also need
1 package of 8″ flour tortillas (usually 10 count)
1 lb. ground beef
1 15 oz. can refried beans
To garnish: Cheddar cheese, lettuce, tomatoes, sour cream, cilantro, etc.

Brown 1 lb of ground beef, drain, and add 1 cup of sauce.

Add a little less than 1 cup of sauce to a 9 x 13 in baking pan sprayed with cooking spray.

To assemble: Spread a large spoonful of refried beans in a line on the center of an 8″ tortilla, and put meat on top. Roll up and place in pan. Continue on until pan is full and fillings are used. Add remainder of sauce on top, cheese (if using), and cover with aluminum foil. Place in 350* oven for 20-25 minutes until heated through and cheese is melted. To make this dish dairy-free, I baked without cheese and added it at the plating stage (popped in the microwave to melt before serving).

These beef and bean enchiladas taste great with Spanish rice on the side.

Happy Holidays from Chez Ary!

Posted by on Dec 30, 2013 in Around Chez Ary | 1 comment

Family, Friends, Loved Ones, and Strangers,

Happy Holidays (well, Happy New Year now)!!!

We’re a little late on this year’s card and letter, but I was holding out hope that we’d get a Santa picture. E had a major freak out when Santa visited for his Santa Party last week at school, so we’ll be sitting out on Santa this year. This will have to serve as the holiday photo for 2013:

This picture captures “right-now” E perfectly. Busy, busy, busy…into everything and always babbling. He’s probably saying “dis” (this) because he knows he’s not supposed to take ornaments off of the tree. Both of our trees were only decorated at the top with a few plastic ornaments at the bottom. We definitely have a toddler in the house!

2013 has been a full and wonderful. Please read on for a full recap of this year’s events…

January Baby

E is the center of our universe these days, and we are fully embracing this fun new age. In the course of the last twelve months, he has changed a ton. From crawling to walking and budding communication skills, we’re having a ball with our little guy. He’s had a healthy year with minimal sickness and great check ups. He enjoys musical toys and pushing cars all over. He loves to interact with the dogs and say “arf arf.” He attends a great school, and he is constantly learning.

First haircut

Since this is a neglected food blog, I should mention that he’s a great eater. He did great with a combo puree / Baby Led Weaning approach, and now, he’s eating any and everything as long as it’s dairy free. His favorite foods are grapes and frozen blueberries, and he loves spice and flavor (scrambled eggs with dill and curry!?). I hope to blog more about our food journey soon.

We had a lovely party celebrating his first birthday in September. After being in our new house for a few weeks, we hosted a small gathering with family and friends with a colorful dachshund theme. He totally dug his cake…it was hilarious! It was a nice day and a great time for us to reflect on his birth story and first year.

Celebrating my birthday

Not long after in November, I turned 28. It was a low key celebration with my two guys. We ate Mexican food, and I got lots of my favorite goodies as gifts. Mom and I had our annual meet up in Clarksville to celebrate and kick off the Christmas shopping season.

I had a major life change this year…Google Reader went away. After much kvetching, I made the switch to Feedly, and I hate to say I like it better (*gasp*). I am still addicted to Instagram and Facebook. I also like Google+ (for photo storage), Slice (for online shopping package tracking), MightyText (for desktop texting), Pandora (for music), and Paperless Post (for greetings and invitations).

I am OB. SESSED. with Italian subs. My favorites are Sammy’s in Martin and Newk’s or Jersey Mike’s around here. Also, I sorta learned how to parallel park (HT, KP)…probably 12 years late, and please don’t test me.

My team at work celebrating our hero-themed United Way campaign.

I celebrated 2 years with Journal Communications in July. I absolutely love it, and I work with the best people! After a few years of turmoil, I truly feel like I have found my professional home. I work in the midst of our creative department helping out with workload, workflow, timing, and cross-department communication.

I am lucky to be involved with a fun project at work…prop styling and sourcing for our food shoots. We shoot food photography for 4 of our quarterly agribusiness projects plus any cookbook or web projects we have going on. We’ve made great strides to make our food shoots go more smoothly and successfully, and I think it’s paying off.

JCI Quality Awards – Mad Men theme

I was part of a photo shoot for one of our middle Tennessee projects (I’m in the background on 48-49). I had two guest posts on Farm Flavor and a feature in this post. I also coordinated our Quality Awards in April (awards for JCI’s creative works) and had a blast. I can’t wait to see what the next year will hold with my wild and crazy team!

Celebrating my first Mothers’ Day

The past year hasn’t been all work for me. I coordinated a wedding in March. It was great to be back in the game for a bit. One of my best friends wrote a book to help couples prepare their marriage for baby. I helped her with a few marketing sessions, and it has been a blast. I also taught a few wreath, bow, and wrapping workshops leading up to the holiday season. I’ve been experimenting with chalk art since E’s birthday party. Of course, cake baking and flower arranging continue as favorite pastimes of mine. We have a great discount section in the floral department of my local grocery store. I delight in bringing home a cheap bunch every week and making beautiful combinations to brighten the countertop.

Due to some unfortunate sickness, we stayed home over Thanksgiving, and I was able to cook my first traditional spread. I was really bummed to miss out on family time, but I had a blast putting it all together. We had crockpot turkey breast, herbed sausage stuffing, gravy with egg, sweet potatoes with pecan crumble (DF and regular), mashed potatoes (DF and regular), corn, mac & cheese, rolls, and roasted Brussels sprouts with balsamic reduction. So much fun and so yum!

I have really enjoyed being a part of the mama community this year…paying forward all of the support and knowledge I’ve gained over the past couple of years. It’s so important to surround yourself with like-minded friends on this journey, and I am so thankful for my circle.

We had a few getaways this year. To celebrate our 5 year anniversary, we took a trip down to Destin. We spent part of the week with Mr. J’s folks and part was just the 3 of us. Highlights include a wonderful meal and some pampering at the Hilton for our anniversary, shopping, beaching, lots of eating, fishing, and mini golfing.

We took a weekend trip to the Chattanooga Aquarium. E enjoyed looking at all of the animals, and it was a nice escape for our little family!

We ventured to South Carolina for my brother’s graduation from basic training in September. It was a wonderful experience, and I am so proud of him! He’s currently stationed at Marine Corp Base Hawaii. We are so excited to have him home for Christmas!

At the end of August, we closed on our dream home in Thompson’s Station. We fell in love with it the second we saw the listing, and the feeling got stronger when we got to see it in person. We had a quick sell of our first home and a crazy few weeks of logistics and details, but it all worked out. We are settling in nicely. There will be lots of projects in the future, but we were lucky to get everything on our wishlist. My favorite part is the kitchen, which is good because I spend most of my time there.

 As for me (J), it’s been quite the year. Nothing has become more special to me than spending time with E. The older he gets, the more his personality develops and shines (not to mention temper…must get that from mom!), and I’m loving every minute.

As for work, I’ve once again set out on a adventure with a new company and new faces. As much as I enjoyed and will miss the knowledgeable team I’ve been building emergency notification systems with the past few years, I was sought out this summer for my specialization in rule engines by a healthcare company called Medhost offering terms I couldn’t refuse.

With healthcare being as large as it is in Nashville, I decided it would be worthwhile to spend some time in the niche and see what good I could do. I’ve only been with them for a few weeks now, but so far, I’m really enjoying it. There are some amazing systems they have in mind to develop in the following years.

Speaking of my work obsession with rules at the end of last winter, I was approached by a publishing company to author a book about the specific rule engine system that I work with. I decided it was worth a go, even if it turned out to sell just a few copies, because who doesn’t want to see their name on the front of a book, amirite?!

Not to mention that if it was possible to help just a few people get started in a space where there’s little documentation to be found (been there, done that), then, it’s worthwhile to me. However, it’s turned out better than expected to say the least. To date, I’ve sold over 375 copies, which is about 350 more than I ever expected.

If you know anything about me, then you know that when I’m not working and enjoying time with my family, then I’m obsessing about whatever happens to be my latest selection of hobbies. This year, I think I’ve found one or two to hang on to (maybe!).

Disc Golf has gotten me outside spending more time with friends and exercising that I usually manage on my own. Add in the challenge of continually improving my game and I’m hooked…the cold weather is driving me crazy, and I can’t wait to get back out banging chains in the spring.

When weather or scheduling prevents heading outdoors, then I’ve fallen back on my other hobby du jour ‘13, PC gaming! Battlefield 4 is probably the first FPS game I’ve picked up since playing Tribes 2 on LAN ‘til all hours of the night in the dorms, and I have to say, I’m thoroughly enjoying getting back into a competitive space. 

The game itself, despite the bugs that have surfaced and growing pains that have come along with launching such a cutting-edge title, is simply amazing. I can’t believe how far gaming systems (and technology in general) have come in my lifetime. It’ll be even more fulfilling to see where it goes in coming years. To wrap up, I highly encourage watching this clip of Louis C.K. giving his take on technology – the visual quality is lacking, but the sentiment is spot on – it’s a great time to be a geek! Happy Holidays!

Is it really going to be 2014? It’s my 10-year high school reunion this year. Oy!

Here are some things I hope to accomplish:

  • Make bread for my new bread board
  • Make homemade tortillas
  • Master the poached eggs (without cheating with the pods)
  • Add a few more herbs to the garden
  • Get back in a farmers’ market habit
  • Blog more here (maybe add a few more categories???) and elsewhere

On behalf of all of us at Chez Ary, I hope that everyone in your household is happy and well. Best of wishes for a wonderful holiday season!

Love,

Betty Becca, Mr. J, & E

Blast from the past: Holiday update from 2011 and 2012

 

Cheddar Bay Sausage Balls

Posted by on Dec 18, 2013 in Come Together | 0 comments

Yeah, you read that right. Merry Christmas from me to you!
So I was looking for a unicorn of a sausage ball recipe. I searched and searched…
Screen Shot 2013-12-18 at 8.17.04 PM
1) Sausage ball recipe that doesn’t use Bisquick (I don’t have it in my pantry)
2) Sausage ball recipe that uses cooked sausage (Who wants to touch raw pork?)
3) Sausage ball recipe that contains cream cheese (Hell yeah, extra moisture)
At first, I pieced together a couple of recipes I found, and that batch was good enough. But it was missing something. It was missing that delectable richness of the little treat hailing from Red Lobster…Cheddar Bay Biscuits and Sausage balls are getting hitched, ya’ll. June nuptials are planned.
1 lb breakfast sausage (mild or hot, your preference…my preference is hot)

2-4 cloves of garlic, chopped

4 oz. cream cheese (1/2 package)
2 cups AP flour
2 tsp baking powder
1 tsp salt
1 tsp dried parsley
1 tsp dried thyme
1/2 cup milk
2 cups sharp cheddar cheese
Brown sausage with garlic in a skillet on med-high (don’t drain drippings). Add in cream cheese, stirring constantly until melted. Transfer sausage mixture to a mixing bowl, and stir in remaining ingredients. Mix well.
Scoop sausage balls on a baking sheet (tip: use a liner like parchment paper, aluminum foil, or a Silpat for easy cleanup). Lightly roll in your hands to shape. Balls can be placed close together, but it’s best to leave a small amount of breathing room around each one.
Bake at 350* for 20-30 minutes until edges are browned.

Go ahead and double the recipe to use the whole package of cream cheese. These guys go fast!

A Dollop of Pumpkin Pie

Posted by on Oct 2, 2013 in Dairy Free | 0 comments

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Ok…October is here, and it’s time to start eating pumpkin. Let’s get to it!

Mix this up, and stick it in the fridge for when your tummy is grumbling for something that tastes like fall.

1 15 oz. can of pure pumpkin

2 tablespoons sugar (or up to 1/4 cup, if you like it sweeter)

1/4 tsp cinnamon

1/8 tsp allspice

1/8 tsp nutmeg

(or instead of the three spices above, use 1/2 tsp of pumpkin pie spice)

**Live dangerously and double the spice. This that “to taste” part I love to hate.

Eat it 3 ways:

1.) Put a bit in your coffee cup and fill with hot coffee. Add sugar and creamer as you normally would. PSL at home! And there will be a pumpkin treat at the bottom of your cup.

2.) Warm up a little in the micro (30 seconds or so), and spread the love on graham crackers – so yum.

3.) Mix a dollop with about a tablespoon of cream cheese (warm it up for easy mixin’) and eat with sliced apples or pears for a delicious fall snack.

Enjoy! Store mixture in the fridge for about a week.

I’m off to find a pumpkin muffin recipe. 🙂