Messy Jessy

enjoying the beautiful mess that is life

Someone’s in the Kitchen with Grandma April 21, 2012

Filed under: family,messy jessy cooks — Jess @ 10:59 pm
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This past weekend, JT’s dad and grandma came to visit. We LOVE her and treasure spending time with her. When you think of the quintessential grandmother that loves unconditionally, cooks amazing meals, and spoils you — yep, this is  Grandma!

We had such a fun time just hanging out and well of course cooking and eating together!

No Grandma visit would be complete without her making biscuits from scratch and her famous chocolate gravy.

We drove around downtown Concord Saturday evening so she could see all of the gorgeous historic homes on Union Street.

Sunday night we relaxed and wrapped up the weekend with grilling out for dinner. After dinner, we decided to break out the ladderball game I’d gotten JT for Christmas. Grandma got the best score out of all of us and her surprised look says it all.

We cooked several wonderful meals together and spent lots of time in the kitchen – she’d have it no other way! I’m truly thankful to be a part of her family and have her in my life. She’s one of the most caring and loving people I’ve ever known, but at the same time isn’t afraid to be a little silly or take life too serious.

Here’s one of her recipes for these really yummy and buttery cookies. They’re not too sweet and are perfect with coffee. After 5 sticks of butter, I stopped counting how many we used for the weekend.

French Buttercream Cookies

Ingredients –
  • 1 1/2 c. powdered sugar
  • 1 tsp. soda
  • 1 tsp. cream of tartar
  • 1/4 tsp. salt
  • 1 c. softened butter
  • 1 egg
  • 1 tsp. vanilla
  • 2 1/4 c. all-purpose flour

In large bowl, combine all ingredients, except flour, on low speed of mixer about 1 minute. Blend well. Gradually add the flour. Blend at low speed of mixer. Chill dough 15 to 30 minutes. Shape dough into 3/4 inch balls, place on greased cookie sheet about 2 inches apart. Flatten balls with fork; sprinkle with colored sugar. Bake at 350 degrees for 5 to 8 minutes until set, not brown. Let cookies stand on cookie sheet about 1 minute. Cool on racks. Makes 4 dozen cookies.

She’s beautiful inside and out!


Messy Jessy Cooks : “The World’s Best Lasagna” April 1, 2012

Filed under: family,messy jessy cooks — Jess @ 1:05 pm

I know what you’re thinking — that title is a little presumptuous. Let me explain. I didn’t give this lasagna – it’s title, I just agree with it.

When we were in Texas this past week-after-Christmas to hang out with our Texas family, my friend Kim made this to.die.for.lasagna. I was in love.

This past Sunday I decided to make a big pot of sauce because my father in law was coming in town and he loves a good lasagna more than Garfield. I went ahead and tripled the recipe (I need a bigger pot next time!). I was going to keep a pan for us and give away two pans to friends that just had a baby and friends that just moved!

The recipe does require a little bit of effort and quite a few ingredients, but it is OH SO worth it.


  • 1 pound sweet Italian turkey sausage
  • 3/4 pound lean ground beef
  • 1/2 cup minced onion
  • 2 cloves garlic, crushed
  • 1 (28 ounce) can crushed tomatoes
  • 2 (6 ounce) cans tomato paste
  • 2 (6.5 ounce) cans canned tomato sauce
  • 1/2 cup water
  • 2 tablespoons white sugar
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons dried basil leaves
  • 1/2 teaspoon fennel seeds
  • 1 teaspoon Italian seasoning
  • 1 tablespoon salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground black pepper
  • 4 tablespoons chopped fresh parsley
  • 12 lasagna noodles
  • 16 ounces ricotta cheese
  • 1 egg
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • package of sliced Mozzarella cheese (12 slices)
  • 3/4 cup grated Parmesan cheese
  1. In a Dutch oven, cook sausage, ground beef, onion, and garlic over medium heat until well browned. Stir in crushed tomatoes, tomato paste, tomato sauce, and water. Season with sugar, basil, fennel seeds, Italian seasoning, 1 tablespoon salt, pepper, and 2 tablespoons parsley. Simmer, covered, for about 1 1/2 hours, stirring occasionally.
  2. Bring a large pot of lightly salted water to a boil. Cook lasagna noodles in boiling water for 8 to 10 minutes. Drain noodles, and rinse with cold water. In a mixing bowl, combine ricotta cheese with egg, remaining parsley, and 1/2 teaspoon salt.
  3. Preheat oven to 375 degrees F (190 degrees C).
  4. To assemble, spread 1 1/2 cups of meat sauce in the bottom of a 9×13 inch baking dish. Arrange 6 noodles lengthwise over meat sauce. Spread with one half of the ricotta cheese mixture. Top with a third of mozzarella cheese slices. Spoon 1 1/2 cups meat sauce over mozzarella, and sprinkle with 1/4 cup Parmesan cheese. Repeat layers, and top with remaining mozzarella and Parmesan cheese. Cover with foil: to prevent sticking, either spray foil with cooking spray, or make sure the foil does not touch the cheese.
  5. Bake in preheated oven for 25 minutes. Remove foil, and bake an additional 25 minutes. Cool for 15 minutes before serving.

Tonight February 12, 2012

Filed under: life,messy jessy cooks — Jess @ 10:24 pm

Trying a new drink recipe


Making the World’s Best Lasagna to enjoy on Tuesday night with my Valentine


watching the Grammy’s


the perfect Sunday evening


Messy Jessy Cooks: Brenda’s Crock Pot Turkey November 23, 2011

Filed under: family,messy jessy cooks — Jess @ 3:00 pm
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Looking for a yummy, no-fuss way to cook your Thanksgiving turkey? I think the rest of the world outside of the deep-south has caught on to the gem of deep-fried turkey! But let’s face it that takes special equipment (deep fryer, lots of oil) and can be slightly dangerous if not fried by a Pro.  If you haven’t already seen William Shatner’s Eat, Fry, Love commercials (sponsored by State Farm – none the less!) check them out — pretty funny and definitely a warning.

So I have just the cure – Thanksgiving Turkey in a Crock-Pot. I’m pretty sure it’s not the Martha Stewart way to go but no brining or constant basting is required! This is the easiest thing you’ll prepare for Thanksgiving and is fail-proof – promise!

On Thanksgiving morning while everyone else in America is fretting over the turkey being done or too dry, just sit on your coach with a cup of coffee and watch the Macy’s Day Parade — that’s what I’ll be doing!

Brenda’s Turkey 

  • 3/4 cup Dijon Mustard (use 1 cup if cooking a whole turkey)
  • 2 1/2 Tablespoons of lemon juice
  • 1/2 cup light soy sauce
  • 2 cloves of garlic
  • 2 sprigs of rosemary and/or thyme
  • 1 cup of olive oil
  • Salt & Pepper to Taste

Wisk all of the ingredients together. Place the turkey breast in the crock pot and pour the “gravy” over the turkey.

Cook for 4 hours on High in the Crock Pot.

When the turkey is done, you can wisk (a hand mixer workers great) to make a gravy. You can either pout it over the sliced turkey or serve on the side.

Thanks Brenda (she’s our Kentucky “Mama”!) for fixing and sharing this recipe with me years ago! I always think of you when I fix this.

Brenda & Me (and the rock — inside joke!)


What Did You Do This Weekend? November 21, 2011

That’s the common question of office small talk on Monday mornings. Since you probably weren’t at work with me today to ask around the proverbial water cooler, I’ll tell you!

  • CLEANED!! I did a lot of cleaning. That’s the only drawback to a bigger house — more to clean! All of those random, “company’s coming” cleaning tasks that you NEVER do — you know, like putting Old English to make your kitchen cabinets shine kind of stuff!
  • Baked – I love making these pumpkin cake bars (see recipe below) It’s like pumpkin pie — but oh so much better!
  • Had a Girls’ Night Out! on Saturday. One of my friends is about to have a baby girl any day now, so we went out for one last hoorah before baby girl gets here. Nothing too wild and crazy! We ate dinner at On The Border and came back to my house for dessert and watched Bridesmaids. It was great to have some “girl time” and get to know a few other ladies in Charlotte a little better.
  • Woke up Sunday morning with a massive migraine which had ABSOLUTELY nothing to do with the previous Girls’ Night! I woke up at 5 am and took meds, back up at 11 am and took more meds. Sunday definitely started out rough and took it easy most of the rest of the day. I procrastinated Thanksgiving shopping, but luckily today I secured “Hank” and he was not “the last turkey in America”.
  • Oh! Did I mention I applied to Grad School? I think I’ve decided on the Master’s of Organizational Leadership at Eastern, but will probably apply to Eastern and Trevecca. I was waiting on my transcript from Asbury to apply because I couldn’t remember my exact GPA and decided it probably wasn’t best to “guess” on my application. Reviewing all of my old courses (and grades) brought back memories from what sometimes seems like a whisper from another lifetime ago. Now, I’ve got to work on my essays and get a few reference letters.  Things are looking good and I’m still excited! Trying to envision what my life will look like as a grad student and working full-time — lots of reading, papers, and less TV!
Here’s my favorite pumpkin cake bars recipe. Skip the pie this year and make these. Seriously!

Pumpkin Cake Bars —


  • 1  package yellow butter cake mix
  • 1 egg
  • 8 tablespoons butter, melted
  • 1 (15-ounce) can pumpkin
  • 8 oz cream cheese — softened
  • 3 eggs
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 8 tablespoons butter, melted
  • 1 (16-ounce) box powdered sugar
  • 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 1 teaspoon grated nutmeg


  •  Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.
  •  Combine the cake mix, egg and butter and mix well with an electric mixer. Press into the bottom of a greased 9×13 pan.
  •  In a large bowl, beat the cream cheese and pumpkin until smooth with an electric mixer.
  • Beat in eggs, vanilla and butter. Add the powdered sugar, cinnamon, nutmeg, and mix well.
  • Pour pumpkin filling mix over the cake bottom.
  • Bake for about 50 minutes. Make sure not to over bake as the center should be a little gooey.

Happy Hanksgiving! November 17, 2011

I’m so excited about Thanksgiving being just a few days away (a week from today!). Ever since we’ve been married, Thanksgiving’s with JT have taken on a new meaning – adventure! In case you missed my special posts last year recounting the “Ghosts of Thanksgiving Past” and of course all of the adventure that last year brought in our first Thanksgiving spent with JT’s family in Kentucky.

This year will not disappoint I’m sure! It will be our first of many holidays spent in our new house. JT’s dad will be here and our Charlotte friends, Rick and Melissa’s (she’s 9 months pregnant!) are coming over too! After watching this week’s Thanksgiving episode of “New Girl” – I have promised Melissa that I’m not like
“Just Jess” in my cooking skills in the kitchen. I did forget one Thanksgiving to defrost the turkey, but promise NEVER to use a clothes dryer as a cooking method!


My parents are coming up late Thanksgiving evening and spending the rest of the weekend. My Aunt and Uncle are coming down (and bringing the last of my stuff that we’ve been storing at their farm) at some point during the weekend. This Thanksgiving will be spent with lots of food, family, and friends — I think that sounds like a great plan!

If you haven’t seen William Shatner’s precautionary tale about deep-frying turkey —


Messy Jessy Cooks: The Perfect and Simple Fall Meal! November 15, 2011

Filed under: messy jessy cooks — Jess @ 7:18 pm
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Perfectly Simple and Simply Perfect Fall Meal!

Trader Joe’s Tomato and Roasted Red Pepper Soup is incredibly yummy — the roasted red peppers are a perfect complement to the classic tomato soup.  I’m embarrassed and proud all in the same moment that my first creation on my cast iron skillet (inset on the gas range) was a grilled cheese sandwich. Sure I could have grilled a filet of steak or an exotic piece of fish, but I think a grilled cheese will do just fine!


Messy Jessy Cooks: I Need Help! November 2, 2010

Filed under: messy jessy cooks — Jess @ 11:21 pm
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I’m on the hunt for some: healthy, whole food, easy to prepare, calorie conscience, not fake/artificial food and/or sweeteners, low carb/Glycemic Index recipe blog sites or even cookbooks.

Is that too much to ask??!!

If you have any recommendations please let me know!

I’d love some new recipes to try!!


Messy Jessy Cooks: Peanut Butter Muffins September 20, 2010

Filed under: messy jessy cooks — Jess @ 9:47 pm
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Here’s a great recipe I found while recipe-surfing. I just tried a test batch and they’re awesome. A good snack/dessert/breakfast – whatever you want it to be! Amazing that there’s no sugar or flour!


  • 1/2 cup egg white
  • 1/4 cup ground flax seed
  • 1/4 cup ground almonds
  • 1/4 cup Splenda granular, sugar substitute
  • 1/2 cup natural-style peanut butter
  • 1/4 cup ricotta cheese
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda


  1. Preheat oven to 350°F.
  2. Melt peanut butter in microwave for 1 minute or until smooth.
  3. Mix all ingredients together.
  4. Pour into mini muffin cups (24 cup tray), and bake 15 minutes.

My camera phone pic is a little blurry – sorry!


messy jessy cooks: Mema’s Sour Cream Pound Cake September 10, 2010

Filed under: messy jessy cooks — Jess @ 12:45 am
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Today my co-workers and I were trying to throw together some last-minute plans for another co-worker’s 50th Birthday. Someone mentioned that she like pound cake and then someone asked if any one made pound cake. There were “crickets” until someone said they could bring a Sarah Lee pound cake. I shuddered. Sarah Lee pound cake?? Those words don’t belong together. I’m not sure if that’s a downgrade or upgrade from your favorite grocery store’s bakery “pound cake” in your favorite flavor with glazed icing on top. But when I think of pound cake, I can’t help but think of the buttery yummy dense cake my Mema lovingly made countless times. Fresh peaches or homemade peach ice cream on top of  pound cake was a summertime family get together favorite.

The aroma of a fresh-baked cake is filling my house and I thought I’d share the recipe with you. It wasn’t until I started cooking the cake myself that I realized the name of pound cake comes from a “pound” of each ingredient. I think the real meaning behind the name is because of the pounds it add to your mid-section. : ) I’ll let you decide for yourself.

Sour Cream Pound Cake

2 sticks butter (could use 1 margarine & 1 butter)
3 cups sugar
6 eggs
8 oz. Sour Cream
3 cups of sifted plain (all-purpose) flour – Lilly White flour if you can find it
¼ tsp. baking soda
½ tsp. salt
1 tsp. vanilla

Cream soft butter and sugar together.

Add eggs one at a time, and beat well after each.

Combine together salt, soda and flour in separate bowl.

Add flour mixture and sour cream alternately, beginning and ending with dry.

Once batter is smooth, add vanilla.

Bake in a greased and floured tube pan for 1 ½ hours at 325 F.


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