Thursday, June 28, 2012

Simply Pulled Pork Sandwiches

Honey Barbecue Pulled Pork

I can't think of a better thing to eat at a cook out on a hot sunny afternoon with friends than this sensationally simply pulled pork sandwich. Darrick came up with this great recipe and its been a huge hit with all of our friends.

Here's What you will need -
Makes 8 Sandwiches

 4 good size Pork Chops
18 oz Barbecue Sauce
3 tbsp Grape Jelly
3 tbsp Honey
1 tsp of minced garlic

Step 1 - Preheat the oven to 325 degrees. Place the pork chops in a covered dish in the oven, with half of the BBQ sauce.  Cook the meat until warmed to 180 degrees for safe handling, about 60 minutes.

Step 2 - Make the sauce by combining the remainder of the BBQ sauce, grape jelly, honey and garlic in a medium saucepan.  Stir on low heat until warmed through to make sure the flavor is combined.

Step 3 - Shred the meat into a large bowl, add the warm sauce and stir.  We served ours on a hamburger bun with a slice of American cheese and some crispy potato chips.

Share your Barbecue recipe with us !

Wednesday, June 27, 2012

Simply Skin Care !

Rodan & Fields

Having good skin is simple if you have the right product, let me tell you about an absolutely terrific product line that I have fallen in love with. It’s by the dermatologists, Rodan & Fields, who created “Proactiv”. They use a mixture of science and nature to create a great line of regiment based care. They have several lines, but I am using the Anti-Age line and it is terrific. Everyone says it has really changed the look of my skin.
If I had to recommend one product that everyone should have it would be the Essentials Daily Body Moisturizer. If you would like to know more about this product fell free to contact me at:

Website -

Simply Spaghetti Carbonara

Lydia’s Spaghetti Carbonara
(pasta with white sauce & bacon in man-speak)
  • 1 pound of angel hair pasta (for more manly bites try fettucine)
  • 1/2 cup heavy cream
  • 2 eggs, whisked
  • 7 strips cooked bacon, diced
  • 3/4 cup finely grated Parmesan cheese
  • 1/4 cup black pepper (you will thank me later)
  • 2 tsp salt for the sauce and another 3 T for the pasta water
  • 6 cups boiling water plus splash of olive oil in a large pot with lid.
  1. Start the water boiling briskly while you get the other ingredients prepped.  Dice the bacon, whisk the eggs and cream together in a small saucepan BEFORE putting it on the burner.
  2. Whisk in the black pepper to the cream mixture until well blended.
  3. Place the saucepan on low heat and add your pasta to the water.
  4. Stirring the sauce frequently so that it does not burn to the bottom, bring it to a boil while the pasta is cooking.
  5. Sauce will begin to thicken as it boils.  Gradually add in the cheese and bacon, whisking until blended.  Remove sauce from heat and set aside.
  6. Drain the pasta (al dente, or “to the bite” is when the pasta is firm in the mouth, but still pliable and doesn’t crunch)
  7. Pour the white sauce over the top, and serve immediately.
Nope you didn't miss it!  I didn't forget the salt!  Serve it in the shaker, as this dish is packed with naturally sourced sodium and you may not even need it!

Makes about 6 1 cup servings, and because it is man night, forget the calories and cholesterol.  This is testoterone approved Italian at its best!

Bachelorette Night - Oh Boy, I have to make dinner?!

Today should be an interesting evening at our house.  I am leaving in a few hours to attend my gorgeous cousin Ruth’s bachelorette party in Sackets.
The Bride, Ruth W. (Brown)

Yep she is pretty damn gorgeous all right.

Which means while I am out finding those Cosmpolitans with the girls, my men will be foraging alone.

In our house the standby man staple is pasta.  Pasta with olive oil and parsley flakes, or drowned in red sauce with a bag of frozen vegetables thrown in for color.  And the cheese drawer gets hit hard when the boys are cooking unsupervised.  But hey, I give them credit for knowing the difference between the uses for my Gruyere and the mozzarella I keep on hand for shredding.  So no complaint there.

Even the most adamantly “I hate cooking” fellow you know can do a mean pasta dish. So I am sharing one of my favorites that the boys love when I put together in the hopes that they will learn it too and add it into their pasta tricks.  Enjoy!~~Lydia Dittrich, COO The Main Event

Follow Lydia's culinary adventures elsewhere at and on Facebook at!

Tuesday, June 26, 2012

Simply Contribute !

We've had our first contributor my good friend Lydia, if you would like to contribute to Simply TN, email us at and we will be happy to add your post, post often and we will make you an guest author !

So share your recipes and traditions today and get back to the basics with Simply Tennessee!

Simply Yours - Jason Hutton

Simple Home Made Bread

                   Our Simple Daily Bread by Lydia Dittrich

John Burdick's True Confections Bread Recipe
  • 3 and 1/3 cups warmed water (no more than 130 degrees)
  • 2-3 T Rapid Rise Yeast (we use Fleischmann's Bread Machine Yeast)
  • 1 T canola oil, plus a little extra
  • 1/2 tsp salt (seasalt is better for low sodium households)
  • 1/2 cup grain of choice (cornmeal, oatmeal, bulgur wheat, mashed potatos work well too)
  • 6 cups flour, plus extra for kneading
  • 1/4 cup sweetener of choice (never sugar!  go for the honey, agave nectar, molasses or maple syrup)
  • 1/2 tsp sugar (it will make sense in a second)

This does not require a stand mixer or bread machine.  
To make this bread you will need (2) 9 inch loaf pans, a large (60"circumference) bowl, a rubber spatula and a pre heated to 350 degree oven.

1)  In the bowl, combine the yeast, the sugar and enough of the water to make a paste.  Let sit for a few minutes until your yeast begins to "burp" or bubble.
2) Add the canola oil, the grain, and the sweetener.  Using the spatula, blend the ingredients well until you have a thick but liquid paste.
3) Gradually mix in the flour and water, alternating until you have a wet, sticky dough that is holding its shape.  Scrape the excess flour from around the rim of the bowl onto the sides and top with the spatula.
4) Sprinkle the salt over the dough last.  Adding this ingredient too early kills your yeast.
5) Wet both sides of your hands with water and dredge them in flour.  Sprinkle more flour over the top of your dough, and knead for 10-15 mins or until the dough is supple, smooth and silky.  May still be wet in patches~~that is okay.
6) Rinse your hands clean and cover the bowl with a clean kitchen towel.  Let it sit in a warm sunny window to rise for about 10 mins.
7) While your dough is rising, oil the pans lightly with the extra canola oil.
8) Remove the towel, and using a sharp chef's knife, divide the ball in half.  GENTLY form each half into 2 loaves, without overhandling it.
9) Put the loaves into the greased pans and using the knife, lightly score the tops of the bread to allow for expansion.
10) Bake your loaves at 350 degrees for 30-35 mins or until the loaves fall easily out of the pans, and sound hollow when rapped on the bottoms with 2 knuckles.

There is no better cure for a blah rainy afternoon than the smell of fresh bread rising in your kitchen and the oven pumping heat into the air.  These are the sensory memories of my childhood in Sackets Harbor NY.  We moved back when I was 4, and my parents, John and Beth Burdick opened a small bakery on Main Street.

When we moved back, Sackets was not the picturesque little postcard it is now.  Main Street was bombed out buildings and broken glass, Bachner's Tavern (now a high end Mexican joint) and a weatherbeaten marina covered in seagull droppings and clogged with seaweed.  My father having an avid interest in history, got involved with the Historical Society and the Urban Cultural Park development committee, serving as its president for several years.  Mom got involved with the local library, and still serves on the board to this day.

Mornings were early (bakers hours start at 3 a.m.) but wonderful.  I remember being bundled into snow gear, and standing like a puffed ruby red marshmellow while Dad warmed up the 1974 Dodge Dart.  Seth, my brother, and I would be buckled onto the frozen green gnaugahyde seats and strapped in.  The defroster would have just made the dent on the windows when we arrived.  Parking in what is now the Ontario Place Hotel lot, we would troop in through the storeroom and meet Mom.  She and Dad rotated kid and bread duty, but they each had their specialties.  Mom is a master cake decorator (she may not have the certificates, but she makes works of art) and Dad was happiest with his hands in a bowl of dough.

While I make cakes that taste like my mother's, they don't look as beautiful.  And bread?  Bread has been passed down in my family from Dad to me with much more visually appealing success.  So every time I knead the dough in my own kitchen, surrounded by 4 little helpers and a starving husband, I smile and remember a slice of childhood evoked by the scent of dough.  Something so simple, yet so nourishing and satisfying.

I hope you enjoy this recipe, and feel free to take it and make it your own.  All that my parents asked of me was that if it was shared, to give them credit.  So, Mom, Dad--this loaf is for you :-)

Best served warm, but will keep for up to 3 days at room temperature.  It never lasts that long at our place !

P.S.~~If you find the recipe on my page you may notice it's slightly different!  I have done this so much I make it from memory and it's hard to write those recipes down, but the basics are the same!  Feel free to play with the ingredients and additives to make it your own!  Dad's favorite was dill and chives with a cornmeal/honey base!

For more of my recipes and childhood musings, check out my own blog at!  I also blog about weddings, special events and fashion at  Thanks for letting me into your kitchens for a while, and enjoy the bread.  Your family will treasure the care you put into the food you create for them each day~~
Lydia Dittrich, COO The Main Event

Simply Cheeseburgers

Simply the Best Cheeseburgers

Its hard to improve on a summer favorite but here is our recipe for what our friends describe as the best, juiciest, and most flavorful burger they have ever had !

Here's what you will need 
Makes 6 Burgers

2 Eggs
1 1/2 lb Ground beef
1/3  of a pack of crackers
3 tbps Worcestershire sauce
3 tbsp Soy sauce

Step 1 - Combine in a bowl, the ground beef, eggs, crackers

Step 2 - Form the patties and add butter to the center

Step 3 - Cook on the grill and Enjoy!

Share your favorite burger recipe with us today .....

Sunday, June 24, 2012

Simply Cheeseburger Macaroni

Get ready for the 4th of July with Simply Cheeseburger Macaroni!

Fourth of July is just around the corner, and we have a few of our favorite simple recipes to share. The key to our recipe is the flavor of the ground beef, with just a few simple ingredients and spices. This would be the hit of your next cookout even as a side item!

What you will need:

1lb ground beef
3 cups elbow macaroni
1 medium size onion
1 tbsp black pepper
2 1/2 cups of milk
5 tbsp of flour
3/4 cup Velveeta
Soy sauce
Worcestershire sauce

Step 1 - Prepare the meat by cooking the ground beef in a sauce pan, place half Worcestershire sauce and half soy sauce in the bottom of the pan, just enough to coat the bottom. Add in the chopped onion and the black pepper. Cook until the meat is thoroughly browned.

Step 2 - Cook the elbow macaroni until soft. (Can be done while working on Step 1)

Step 3 - Make the cheese sauce by heating the milk on medium heat until hot, you do not want the milk to boil. Then add the Velveeta (Make sure you continuously whisk until the cheese is melted). Add in the flour one tbsp at a time while continuing to whisk so the flour doesn't clump, until the sauce begins to thicken.  (Add more flour for a thicker sauce)


Step 4 - Combine the macaroni, cooked meat and the cheese sauce. Mix together.

Please feel free to share your favorite fourth of July recipes with us!

Friday, June 22, 2012

Keep Your Garden Blooming All Year !

  Year Round Color with Perennials !

I am often complimented on the look of my flower beds, and I will admit it can take a lot of work to get it just right. One of the biggest challenges is to plant flowers that will bloom all year long keeping your beds full of beautiful flowers. Here are a few examples of easy to care for perennials to keep your beds blooming all year. Share your simple garden tips with us.

Spring - Daffodils, Iris, Crocus

Summer - Bee Balm, Day Lilies, Hydrangeas

Fall - Mums, Sedum

Wednesday, June 20, 2012

Getting Started - Gardening

Everyone loves fresh vegetables straight from their garden. Growing up, gardening was a family tradition from my grandmother's two acre garden to my mom's back yard garden. Gardens are great not just for providing fresh produce but also as a great activity to do together as a family and you get a great since of pride cooking with something you planted and grew yourself. I have been in my house for six years and this year I have finally started to continue the family tradition. When coming up with a place to garden, Darrick mentioned that we should put the garden around a cement slab in my yard to hide it. We started with a small garden and are enjoying watching it grow and cant wait to have
fresh tomato's and peppers to can and cook with.

Simple Steps to Gardening

Pick your area - choose a spot that gets lots of sun and near a water spigot.
Prepare your soil - remove all grass and use compost and fertilizer.
Start small - don't get to ambitious you can always expand your garden next year.

 Share your gardening stories with us!

Saturday, June 16, 2012

Simply Fresh Herbs

Cooking with fresh herbs -

We love growing and cooking herbs, a lot of herbs are perennials and have beautiful flowers. One of my favorite examples is sage. It comes in many varieties, and I have three different varieties in my garden. They have red, purple and blue flowers. Because they are not only used in cooking but are beautiful, I plant them in my flower beds. Many herbs can be purchased at your local nursery for 2-3$ and if they are perennials they will provide you with years of enjoyment and fresh flavor to your foods. Please share with us your favorite herbs!

Rule of thumb when converting fresh to dried herbs

1 tsp of dried for each tbsp of fresh

Thursday, June 14, 2012

Multi Colored Hydrangeas

Multi Colored Hydrangeas

I often get asked how I get my multi colored hydrangeas and the answer is so simple! I use tea bags. The tannic acid in tea bags changes the soils pH. Place 3-4 tea bags randomly around the base of the plant.  The tea bags last all year, so I only add new bags once a year in the spring. What do you do for hydrangeas? Please Share!

Sunday, June 10, 2012

Simply Cream Cheese Chicken Rolls

Tonight for dinner - Cream Cheese Chicken Rolls, Cream Corn and Garlic Mashed Potato's, we made these little stuffed rolls a few weeks ago and they have become one of our favorite quick foods to make.

Here's what you will need:

Cream Cheese Chicken Rolls
(recipe makes 8 rolls)

4-6oz cream cheese
Minced garlic
2 chicken breasts
Crescent Rolls
Black pepper
Poultry seasoning
Soy sauce
Worcestershire sauce

  • Cube the chicken, put in a hot pan Worcestershire and soy sauce (we added enough to cover the bottom of the pan) and add poultry seasoning, black pepper and sage to taste.

  •   While the chicken is cooking mix up the cream cheese with minced garlic to taste, we like garlic so add about 3-4 cloves of minced garlic


  • Roll out the crescent rolls (we used extra buttery). Place a large spoonful of the cream cheese mixture and spread out on the roll and then add a small amount of chicken to the center and roll it up.
  • Place in an oven at 350 for about 15-18 minutes.

Saturday, June 9, 2012

Simply Strawberry Jam

Bowl of Strawberries
I have always found that the simplest recipes are the best. I use the recipe on the pectin container for most of my jams. Contrary to popular belief, canning is not difficult at all, nor does it take all day. This recipe took about 45 minutes from start to finish. While we were at the store picking up jars and strawberries, we got our usual comment of " you're a very ambitious young man. " It makes me smile cause, I know how simple it is to do. I also enjoy it because it keeps me in touch with family traditions.

Recipe - click on the link for the full recipe, the link has a neat calculator you can use to make more or less jam.

Cut Strawberries
For every one pint of jam use (1 1/3 cups of strawberries, 3 tsp of lemon juice, 1 1/2 Tbs of Pectin, 1 2/3 cups of granulated sugar)

  1. Wash the strawberries to make sure they are free from dirt.
  2. Cut off the tops and divide the berries into 4 pieces.
  3. Place half of the fruit pieces into a blender and puree.
  4. Combine all the fruit into a pot with the lemon juice and bring to a boil. Also, go ahead and get your jars sterilizing at the same time since they will need to boil for 10-15 minutes.
    When the fruit comes to a boil, stir in the sugar and add the pectin. We also added 1 TB of vanilla extract for a twist.
  6. Remove any foam from the top, then place the jam into the warm sterilized jars.
  7. Clean the rim of the jar to ensure a good seal, place on the lid and tighten.
  8.  Place back into the hot water bath for another 10-15 minutes.
  9. Remove the jars from the hot water bath and allow them to cool, you should hear the jars pop as they cool, letting you know they are sealed.

Boiling Strawberries for Jam

Wednesday, June 6, 2012

Host Plants For Your Garden

Host Plants For Your Garden

I love seeing butterflies in my garden, one of the things many people don't consider is having host plants for the caterpillars to eat.  Last year, I planted parsley ($2.50 at a local garden center) as a host plant for black swallowtail butterflies.  A single plant was plenty for me to cook with and for the caterpillars to eat.  I had three very large and plump caterpillars for a few weeks on my parsley and enjoyed watching them grow.

check out the link bellow to see what plants you can add to your garden to attract butterflies.  

Welcome to Simply Tennessee

Simply Tennessee is about Gardening, Cooking and getting back to the basics.  Join us for canning, cooking recipes, tips and tricks for your flower/vegetable gardening and other enjoyments in life.  Feel free to comment and share your "back to the basics" story with us!

Get Our E-Subscription To Your Inbox Here!