Tag Archives: The Fresh Market

Being Nosey

Good Food & Good Ideas

So the little guy and I took a road trip to Nashville over the weekend for a visit. I love to go home no matter how old I am, that feeling of pulling up in the driveway and walking into the house is one of my favorite feelings in the world.

My other favorite thing to do is nose around my mom’s kitchen. She always has a great new find whether it’s food or decor. I literally open every cabinet and just browse around, so here’s some of my favorite finds in my mom’s kitchen and yes, we’ll get back to cooking tomorrow!

If you don’t love the taste of water these are for you. Hint comes in a slew of flavors without any sugars or calories - genius! You can find them at The Fresh Market and Whole Foods.

Wickles Pickles are made using a 70-year-old family recipe born in the heart of Alabama. Try these and you’ll never go back to another jar of regular pickles.

Ever since a trip to Italy, my mom keeps a bottle of lemoncello in the freezer and offers any guest that comes through a taste of this delicious lemon liqueur.

I love this idea – it’s so pretty and so southern. Southerners always appreciate silver except it stays in a china cabinet or on a shelf until a holiday rolls around. This collection of silver sits next to the coffee pot for everyday use holding sugars and teas.

Cracker Barrel and the under 300 dinner

Vegetable Beef Soup & Cheddar Beer Biscuits

I am not a fan of February. It’s a dreary month, looking out the window to month old snow, flurries won’t quit and freezing temperatures make me want to relocate to a tropical locale. Instead, I find my self making pot after pot of vegetable soup and hoping for an early spring.

Last February I was 9 months big and pregnant, there was record snow fall, my 87-year-old neighbor kept me company and I watched the entire winter olympics. Needless to say, I didn’t leave the house much so I would wait for my husband to come home and beg him to go Cracker Barrel. In the twenty times we went, I ordered the same thing every time - bowl of veggie soup and a big side of those sourdough croutons that are covered in butter.

I know for sure that my Cracker Barrel dinner did not ring in under 300 calories but my version does even with a biscuit!


1 tbsp olive oil

1/2 medium onion, chopped

1/2 to 3/4 lb lean stew meat

2 cups low-sodium beef broth

6 cups water

28 oz can crushed tomatoes

2 large new potatoes, diced with skin on

3 carrots, chopped

1 cup green beans, frozen

1 cup lima beans, frozen

1/2 cup corn, frozen

1/2 cup peas, frozen

1 bay leaf

salt and pepper

Heat oil over medium-high in a large stock or soup pot. Add onion, meat, salt and pepper. Brown meat quickly then add broth and water bringing to a boil. Reduce to a simmer and cook for 45 minutes to 1 hour.

Add carrots, potatoes and crushed tomatoes to pot and continue simmering for 30 more minutes. Meat should be getting more tender and potatoes and carrots will be softening.

Add the rest of the vegetables, bay leaf and season again with salt and pepper. Simmer at least another hour before serving. If more liquid is needed just add water. The longer the soup cooks the better it will taste. Take out the bay leaf before serving.


1 cup all-purpose flour

1/2 cup whole wheat flour

1 1/2 tsp baking powder

1/2 tsp salt

1 tbsp sugar

2 tbsp butter, melted

2/3 cup beer, I used Michelob Ultra

1/2 cup low-fat or 2% cheddar cheese, shredded

Preheat oven to 450 degrees.

Combine all dry ingredients in a mixing bowl and set aside. Melt butter in a small bowl. Combine beer and sugar then add to flour mixture, then add butter and combine. Add cheese and stir well.

This will make a sticky dough. Just drop spoonfuls on an ungreased cookie sheet. Bake for 10-12 minutes.

Makes 8-10 biscuits


Using My Food Diary’s recipe builder, the soup is about 100 calories for a one cup serving and each biscuit is around 100 calories with 3 grams of fat.

One of my favorite places to shop is The Fresh Market, if you have one nearby go take a look. They have these fabulous frozen vegetables including Silver Queen Corn! Yep, Silver Queen Corn frozen and there all year round.

Spaghetti – Oh!

Bolognese with Pappardelle

Last week I was watching Top Chef All Stars and realized how much I love a good plate of spaghetti! They were cooking a traditional Italian meal in the kitchen of Rao’s in New York City. My granny’s kitchen is a long way from Rao’s but I swear her spaghetti and meatballs could go toe to toe with theirs any day.

Each year for my birthday, she would make my favorites, spaghetti and meatballs and a strawberry cake. We would spend hours in the kitchen perfecting those meatballs, letting them slowly simmer in a big pot of sauce and one thing that all good Southern and Italian cooks know is that food cooked with love is just – better food!


1 tbsp olive oil

1/4 cup carrots, finely diced

1/2 cup onions, chopped

2 garlic cloves, minced

1 lb lean ground beef

28 oz can crushed tomatoes

1 cup low-sodium beef broth

1/2 cup milk

2 tsp sugar

1 tbsp half and half

salt and pepper

Heat oil in a large, heavy pan over medium to medium-high heat. Add onions and carrots cooking until tender. About 5 minutes. Add garlic and cook for a minute more. Add ground beef, season generously with salt and pepper and continue cooking until no longer pink.

Add broth, bring to a steady simmer, continue cooking until almost all of broth has cooked away. Stir in milk, simmer and let most of the liquid cook away. Then add crushed tomatoes, sugar and season with more salt and pepper if needed. Let sauce simmer for 30 minutes or so. Just before serving, stir in half and half.

Serve with pappardelle or your favorite pasta and a crisp green salad. Here’s a recipe for a quick creamy herb salad dressing perfect on a simple wedge of iceberg.

Creamy Herb Dressing

1/4 cup Fage 0% greek yogurt

1 tbsp light sour cream

1 tbsp red wine vinegar

1 tsp sugar

1/4 tsp basil, dried

1/8 tsp garlic powder

1/8 tsp oregano

salt and pepper

Whisk all ingredients together and chill before serving.


Bolognese is a hearty meat sauce that is typically cooked for hours. This is a quicker version but the trick is to use good canned tomatoes. I prefer San Marzano tomatoes. I buy mine at The Fresh Market and they can be found in the italian specialty section at the grocery.

A heartier pasta works best with this sauce. I use pappardelle but a tubular pasta like penne or rigatoni would also work well.


Black beans and quarters

Hearty Black Bean Soup with Chipotle Cream

The first time I ever had black bean soup was in Puerto Rico. That set the bar pretty high as far as black beans soups go. It was the most exotic thing I had ever eaten. It had a subtle heat, served with a side of rice and a delicious pineapple salsa.

So while enjoying my new-found love of black beans, my sister was honing her skills as a card shark and gambler. Sister was a marvel at poker and relentless at the blackjack table. She would come running up with buckets of money flaunting her skills.

 As we strolled through the casino one afternoon, she asked me for a quarter and I did what any good sister would do. So the quarter changed hands and into the slot it went. There it was, that secret talent. She won the $500 jackpot then turned to me and flipped the quarter back into my hand  and said ”thanks for letting me borrow that quarter”.


1 tbsp olive oil

1/2 cup onion, chopped

1 celery stalk, chopped

1 carrot, diced

2 cloves garlic, minced

2 15 oz. cans black beans, pureed

2 15 oz. cans black beans, rinsed and drained

1/4 cup salsa, good quality

1/4 tsp cayenne pepper

1 tsp cumin

pepper to taste

32 oz low-sodium chicken broth

Heat oil over medium-high heat in a large soup pot. Saute onions, carrots and celery for 5 minutes or until tender. Add garlic and cook for a minute more.

Reduce heat and add pureed black beans and whole black beans. Stir in spices and combine well with bean mixture. Add in chicken broth, stir well. Simmer for 30 minutes before serving.

Chipotle Cream:

3 tbsp 0% Fage greek yogurt

2 tbsp light sour cream

1 chipotle pepper, in adobo sauce

Put ingredients in a blender or food processor and blend until smooth. Chill before serving.

Serve soup with a scoop of brown rice, a drizzle of chipotle cream and chopped cilanto.


I am picky about salsa. The best jarred salsa I have found is called Texas-Texas and can be found at The Fresh Market.

This soup gets better with age. I usually make it a day ahead, store in fridge and then reheat before serving.