Archive for the 'Food and Recipes' Category

Mother’s Day Tea

May. 11th 2014


 “All that I am or ever hope to be, I owe to my angel mother.”   ―     Abraham Lincoln

The modern American holiday of Mother’s Day was first celebrated in 1908, when Anna Jarvis held a memorial for her mother in Grafton, West Virginia. Her campaign to make “Mother’s Day” a recognized holiday in the United States began in 1905, the year her beloved mother, Ann Reeves Jarvis, died. Anna’s mission was to honor her own mother by continuing work she had started and to set aside a day to honor mothers, “the person who has done more for you than anyone in the world.” Anna’s mother, Ann Jarvis, was a peace activist who had cared for wounded soldiers on both sides of the Civil War and created Mother’s Day Work Clubs to address public health issues.


Anna Jarvis

Due to the campaign efforts of Anna Jarvis, several states officially recognized Mother’s Day, the first in 1910 being West Virginia, Jarvis’ home state. In 1914 Woodrow Wilson signed the proclamation creating Mother’s Day, the second Sunday in May, as a national holiday to honor mothers. In a thank-you note to Wilson Jarvis wrote of a “great Home Day of our country for sons and daughters to honor their mothers and fathers and homes in a way that will perpetuate family ties and give emphasis to true home life.”

Today at Belle Grove Plantation, we celebrated Mother’s Day with an Afternoon Tea for some wonderful ladies and their family and friends.







Today we served

Avocado-Cilantro Chicken Salad on Crusty Croissants

Lemon-Line Salmon Cups

Asparagus-Virginia Ham Dijon Crescent Roll-ups

Wild Blueberry Mini Scones

Orange-Cranberry Mini Scones



Italian Orange Cream Puff Pastries

Cream Puffs

Mini Sugar Cookies with Icing

Vanilla Madeleines shaped into a Clam and Pearl


We would like to take the time to wish each mother a very special day tomorrow.

Thank you to all mothers, who love, kindness and endless patience has shaped the world we have lived in and the world that will be follow us.


Posted by Michelle Darnell | in Darnell History, Food and Recipes | 2 Comments »

Peachy Keen

Mar. 29th 2014

This morning we had a new recipe that we wanted to share with you!


Cinnamon and Sugar Grilled Peaches with Granola and Warmed Honey

This recipe is very simple!


Peaches – one half per person



Honey – about 2 tablespoons per person


Frozen Vanilla Yogurt


1. Half ripe peaches and pit

2. Place peaches on a sheet pan with skin side down. Sprinkle with sugar and cinnamon.


3. Broil for 5 to 10 minutes until sugar caramelizes.

4. While the peaches are cooking, warm honey in a small sauce pan on low.


5. Remove and place peaches on plate with a scoop of frozen yogurt.

6. Slowly pour warm honey over the peaches and frozen yogurt.


7. Sprinkle with your favorite granola. We used honey granola.

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Serve Warm!

Posted by Michelle Darnell | in Food and Recipes | 2 Comments »

Virginia Center for Architecture

Jan. 23rd 2014

We are so proud to have been recognized by the Virginia Center for Architecture as one of the top 100 architecturally significant structures in Virginia. We will be apart of a year long exhibition that will open on April 10, 2014 at the Virginia Center for Architecture in Richmond, Virginia.

After being so honored, I of course wanted to know more about the Center. So on an off day, I traveled from the plantation to Richmond for a day of adventure. My first stop was for lunch with my dear friend, Terri at one of our favorite spots, Can Can Brasserie on Cary Street. Cary Street is a wonderful place full of shops and restaurants. I have eaten at the Can Can before and really looked forward to enjoying this visit.

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The last time we ate there, the sun was out and the temperature was warm with a nice breeze. So we chose the option of eating outside on the sidewalk cafe under the shade of the umbrellas. This visit, we weren’t so lucky. Rain had been coming down most of the morning and the air was crisp with winter’s breath. So when I arrived, I grabbed a small cafe table at the front inside so we could enjoy the view from the picture windows. Just outside was a flower vendor, near where we ate before. With the French Cafe interior and the flower vendor just outside, I could have sworn I just flew into Paris.

Our lunch was wonderful! I had just made my new dish, Sweet Potato and Brussels Sprout Hash with Poached Eggs and Thyme Hollandaise Sauce at the plantation the weekend before. So when I saw the Crispy Ham Crepe filled with Butternut Squash and Brussels Sprouts on top of Butternut Squash Puree, I knew what I was having. Terri followed suit and ordered the Chicken Crepe. Oh how delicious it was! Of course you know I tried to get the recipe, with no luck. But in my mind I was already forming my recipe to try at home. We just may have to make it this weekend!

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Crispy Ham Crepe

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Chicken Crepe

After I said my good-byes to Terri, I programmed my GPS to take me to the Virginia Historic Society. I wanted to just see if there was something I might have missed when I “cleaned” them out before. Well, wouldn’t you know it, there was. I went in a different direction, looking for the portraits of three of the Bernard Family. I found out who donated the images and found that this family had also donated some paperwork. So I requested that they pull these papers. How I was rewarded!

I found out that the portraits of William Bernard and his wife Sarah Bernard were in fact large family portraits. And that these portraits were with a certain line of the family. So now I have a lead to chase to see if I can find the original portraits. I know these portraits are family heirlooms, but wouldn’t it be wonderful just to find them! I know from the family history that they once hung here at Belle Grove Plantation. I would give anything to see them return to hang here again.

William Bernard II

Sarah Dykes Bernard

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After I finished and as if I wasn’t already excited beyond belief, I head over to the Virginia Center for Architecture. I had never seen it before so I didn’t know what to expect. The homes in the area were older Victorian homes and were just beautiful. But when I arrived at the Center . . . well words just couldn’t describe it.

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The Center is housed in an English Tudor Manor Home called the Branch House. The house was designed in 1916 by the firm of John Russell Pope as a private residence of financier John Kerr Branch and his wife Beulah Gould Branch. It was added to the National Register of Historic Places in 1967 and became a National Historic Landmark in 1997. One of the Branch family heirs gifted the home to a local charity in the 1950s and was later purchased in 2003 by the Virginia Center for Architecture Foundation. The Center opened in 2005 as headquarters of the Virginia Center for Architecture, offices for the Virginia Society of the American Institute of Architects and its publication, Informmagazine and as architectural museum.

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Walking into this magnificent home was just overwhelming. Fortune for me, one of the staff members were on hand to give me a personal tour through the house.

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After viewing this beautiful place, I just can’t believe that Belle Grove Plantation will be in an exhibition here! We are so honored! Of course I couldn’t get them to reveal the rankings. That will come on opening night of the exhibition on April 10th. But no matter where we fell in the rankings, we just feel so privileged to be apart of its history.

Don’t forget to vote for us!

The Virginia Living Magazine is holding their annual
Best of Virginia 2013 poll
and we need your help!

Help us by voting for us!

It’s easy! Just following the steps below!

DEADLINE IS January 24th at 11:59pm EST

1. Before you vote – Please share this photo with your friends and family on Facebook to help us get the word out.

2. Go to this link –

3. You will want to click on the “Eastern” region at the bottom of the page.

4. Scroll down to the bottom of the first page and enter your email address. This is not to add you to an email list but to make sure you don’t vote twice. After you enter your email address, click “Next”

5. You can vote for any of the catagories, but we as that you vote for us for these catagories:

#9 – Best Special Event Venue – Enter Belle Grove Plantation Bed and Breakfast, King George

#11 – Best Bed and Breakfast – Enter Belle Grove Plantation Bed and Breakfast, King George

#12 – Best “Do Not Miss” Attraction for Tourist – Enter Belle Grove Plantation Bed and Breakfast, King George

#16 – Best Historic Site – Enter Belle Grove Plantation Bed and Breakfast, King George

6. Answer the last questions and “Submit”!

Thank you for your help!

Don’t forget to share this with everyone! Don’t forget to comment here that you voted too!!

We truly appreciate your help!!

Posted by Michelle Darnell | in Belle Grove History, Darnell History, Food and Recipes, General History | Comments Off on Virginia Center for Architecture

First Christmas Dinner at Belle Grove Plantation

Dec. 27th 2013

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Down in Belle Grove-ville

Liked Christmas Dinner a lot…

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Yummy morsels

Tidbits, nibbles and dollops

Were greatly sought!

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 When those, young and old, sat down to the feast.

And they feasted! And they feasted!

And they Feasted, feasted and Feasted.

They started with ham, a spiraled brown sugar glazed beast

And followed with Horseradish Mash Potatoes to say the least!

And Then

They passed the Harvest Vegetables and Sweet Potatoes Mashed

And the Butternut Squash with Cranraisin and Spinach was even passed.

There was Chutney made of Orange and Cranberry

A sweet and tart delight that is red as a cherry.

And crescent rolls that were lost to those that tarry.

Lastly upon the plate sat deviled eggs by the dozen

Enjoyed by all down to the last one.

The last was saved for the chef as reward for a job well done.

And what happened then…?

Well…in Belle Grove-ville they say

That each small stomach

Grew three sizes that day!

And the minute their pants didn’t feel quite so tight,

They whizzed around the Mansion Tour until the last light.

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And as the last left Belle Grove-ville

And drove out of sight,

The Darnell Family called after

“Merry Christmas to all and to all a Good Night!”

Posted by Michelle Darnell | in Belle Grove History, Darnell History, Food and Recipes | Comments Off on First Christmas Dinner at Belle Grove Plantation

Tea for Two . . . Days!

Dec. 26th 2013

This past weekend, Belle Grove Plantation hosted not one but two Holiday Afternoon Teas!

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On Saturday was our Holiday Afternoon Tea that was open to the public.

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On Sunday, we hosted a Holiday Afternoon Tea for a private party.

On the menu for our tea:

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Cranberry with Pecan Scones and Apricot with White Chocolate Scones

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Ham and Cheese Mini Quiches

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Salmon with Roasted Red Pepper Tea Sandwiches

Roast Beef with Roasted Red Pepper and Blue Cheese Tea Sandwiches (Saturday’s Tea)

Roast Beef with Roasted Red Pepper and Horseradish Tea Sandwiches (Sunday’s Tea)

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Red Velvet Cupcakes with Cream Cheese Frosting

Holiday Tea 4

Italian Puff Pastry Shell with Orange Cream

Coconut Bonbons

We served a choice of two flavors of tea:

Classical Earl Grey

Spiced Apple Cider

Saturday’s Tea gave us another first for us!


We had our first young ladies attend Afternoon Tea with us! They were so wonderful!

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Sunday’s Tea also brought us another young lady! She was just so sweet!

Sunday’s Afternoon Tea had also requested a special guest!


The Official Plantation Dog

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They brought him treats and lots of hugs!

It was an elegant weekend filled with wonderful ladies!

Thank you to all the ladies who attended our First Holiday Tea on Saturday!

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Thank you to the OXOX Ladies who attended our Holiday Tea on Sunday!

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Posted by Michelle Darnell | in Darnell History, Food and Recipes | Comments Off on Tea for Two . . . Days!

Our First Thanksgiving

Nov. 30th 2013

This Thanksgiving was our first at Belle Grove Plantation. We decided early on that we wanted to share the elegant mansion as a backdrop for such a festive holiday. So we opened the doors and prepared dinner for many old and new friends.

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When we decided to prepare dinner, we put a limit of 30 guests for our tables. Low and behold, we ended up with 45 guests!


We prepared four Turkeys with Gravy, Homemade Mash Potatoes, Green Beans Almondine, Stuffing and Rolls. We were also blessed with our dearest friend, Karen making her famous Sweet Potato Soufflé and Deviled Eggs. We followed this dinner with a choice of Pumpkin or Pecan Pies.

Brett started the dinner with a reading of a Presidential Proclamation by President George Washington. It was been requested by Congress on October 3, 1789.


Whereas it is the duty of all nations to acknowledge the providence of Almighty God, to obey His will, to be grateful for His benefits, and humbly to implore His protection and favor; and—Whereas both Houses of Congress have, by their joint committee, requested me “to recommend to the people of the United States a day of public thanksgiving and prayer, to be observed by acknowledging with grateful hearts the many and signal favors of Almighty God, especially by affording them an opportunity peaceably to establish a form of government for their safety and happiness:”

Now, therefore, I do recommend and assign Thursday, the 26th day of November next, to be devoted by the people of these States to the service of that great and glorious Being who is the beneficent author of all the good that was, that is, or that will be; that we may then all unite in rendering unto Him our sincere and humble thanks for His kind care and protection of the people of this country previous to their becoming a nation; for the signal and manifold mercies and the favor, able interpositions of His providence in the course and conclusion of the late war; for the great degree of tranquillity, union, and plenty which we have since enjoyed; for the peaceable and rational manner in which we have been enabled to establish constitutions of government for our safety and happiness, and particularly the national one now lately instituted; for the civil and religious liberty with which we are blessed, and the means we have of acquiring and diffusing useful knowledge; and, in general, for all the great and various favors which He has been pleased to confer upon us.

And also that we may then unite in most humbly offering our prayers and supplications to the great Lord and Ruler of Nations, and beseech Him to pardon our national and other trangressions; to enable us all, whether in public or private stations, to perform our several and relative duties properly and punctually; to render our National Government a blessing to all the people by constantly being a Government of wise, just, and constitutional laws, discreetly and faithfully executed and obeyed; to protect and guide all sovereigns and nations (especially such as have shown kindness to us), and to bless them with good governments, peace, and concord; to promote the knowledge and practice of true religion and virtue, and the increase of science among them and us; and, generally, to grant unto all mankind such a degree of temporal prosperity as He alone knows to be best.

Given under my hand at the City of New York the third day of October in the year of our Lord 1789.

Go. Washington”

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After offering a prayer of thanksgiving, our guests made their way into the Formal and Small Dining Rooms for their meal. Everyone seemed to have a wonderful time and shared their meals not only with their family and friends, but new friends that sat with them at their tables.

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Brett and I would like to thank each of our guests for coming and sharing in our First Thanksgiving. You made it more special than we could have ever hoped for. We look forward to having many; many more special gatherings at Belle Grove Plantation, but this one will also hold a special place in our hearts as the first.

Look Who Stopped By The Plantation!

Nov. 17th 2013

Modern Molasses Cookies the Official Cookie of Belle Grove Plantation Bed and Breakfast birthplace of James Madison in King George Virginia at Port Conway

As many of you that have been following us over the last year or two know, we had an Official Cookie Contest last March. It was a wonderful contest and we had some really wonderful cookie recipes offered!

After a very close race and the public vote on Facebook, it ended with a delicious cookie called “Modern Molasses Cookies” submitted by Alyssa D’Alconzo. Since we have opened, we have been placing these yummy cookies on a silver tray on each bed during turn-down service. They are wonderful and everyone really enjoys the added “midnight snack”.

Modern Molasses Cookies the Official Cookie of Belle Grove Plantation Bed and Breakfast birthplace of James Madison in King George Virginia at Port Conway

Alyssa and Michelle – November 2013

This weekend we were excited to host Alyssa and her family for a couple days at the plantation! How wonderful to finally meet someone that we have been chatting with on our blog for so long. Alyssa isn’t the first from the blog to come by, but it was extra special to have her here to sample our “Modern Molasses Cookies”.

I think we passed the test!

But we would like to share the recipe with all those who are new or those who would like to know how to make them. Here at the plantation, I did make a copy of changes to the recipe. I don’t serve them with chocolate because there are those who may be allergic. I also make a batch and freeze the raw dough balls. Then in the afternoon, I pull out what I need and cook them so they are fresh and warm when our guests return from dinner. By freezing them, it helps give them a puffy center too. (A trick I learned from Mrs. Field’s cookies)

You can check out Alyssa’s blog and read about her adventures visiting us at

So make a warm batch and enjoy!

Modern Molasses Cookies – Alyssa D’Alconzo

Ingredients (4 dozen cookies)

2 1/2 cups flour
1/4 teaspoon salt
2 teaspoons baking soda
2 1/2 teaspoons allspice
1/2 teaspoon cardamom
3/4 cup shortening
1 cup packed dark brown sugar
1 egg
1/2 cup molasses
1 teaspoon vanilla
2 1/2 ounces dark chocolate
1/2 teaspoon coconut oil or shortening


In a medium bowl, combine first 5 ingredients; set aside.
In the bowl of a stand mixer, cream together shortening and dark brown sugar. Beat in egg, molasses, and vanilla. Mix well.

Fold in dry ingredients and stir by hand.
Cover and chill at least 1 hour.

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Lightly grease cookie sheets.
Shape teaspoonful of dough into balls; roll in sugar.
Place balls onto cookie sheets, about 2 inches apart.

Bake 8-10 minutes until set. Cool for one minute on cookie sheet and remove to wire rack to cool completely.
In a small bowl, break up chocolate into small pieces, add coconut oil or shortening, and microwave on medium heat until melted.

Using a fork, drizzle chocolate over cookies.

Allow chocolate to set and store in an airtight container.

The Finer Things In Life

Nov. 13th 2013

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On Saturday, November 9th, Belle Grove Plantation hosted the Victorian Ladies Society for an afternoon of tea and tours.

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What a sight they were to see in their finest as they approached the grand mansion!

I could almost see days gone by as ladies during the Turner Family period would have hosted such gatherings.

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Our Afternoon Tea was served in the Formal Dining Room on plates and cups that many of you have seen as we have collected them over the last year or two. Our menu included four flavors of scones. Pumpkin, White Chocolate Raspberry, Apple Cinnamon and Blueberry were served with traditional sides of Lemon Curd, Clotted Cream and Strawberry Preserves. Our tea sandwiches were a two layer, opened face Cucumber Sandwich, a two layer Olive and Pecan Spread on Wheat, Chicken Salad in a Puff Pastry and Asparagus with Virginia Ham and Dijon Mustard rolled in a crescent. For our pastries we served a Lavender Shortbread, Chocolate Rugula and a Puff Pastry Shell with Italian Orange Cream. Our tea select was Classic Earl Gray and Youth Berry with Wild Orange Blossom.

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The ladies enjoyed their tea and conversations for the first hour. The second was spent touring the mansion and hearing the history of Belle Grove Plantation from the beginning in 1670 to the present. Our tour ended on the Riverside Balcony where the ladies enjoyed a moment of warmth as the sun shone down over the river.

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Peering out the Turner Master Suite window where the Carrie Turner etching is located

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We are so excited to announce that the Victorian Ladies Society will be returning in April, 2014 for a very special event with Belle Grove Plantation!

The Victorian Ladies Society and Belle Grove Plantation will be hosting our first Titanic Tea!

Be on the watch for the announcement and ticket sales!

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Thank you to the Victorian Ladies for visiting with us at Belle Grove Plantation!

If you are interested in an Private Afternoon Tea at Belle Grove Plantation, please email us at  We are sorry, but we do not serve tea to the general public at this time.

Posted by Michelle Darnell | in Darnell History, Food and Recipes | Comments Off on The Finer Things In Life

Don’t Pass the Turkey

Nov. 7th 2013


Have you gotten your Belle Grove Plantation Thanksgiving Dinner Tickets yet?
We have already sold half of the seats at the table!!
Don’t miss out on this awesome chance to be apart of the history of Belle Grove Plantation at Port Conway, Birthplace of James Madison!
Visit our online store link below to get your ticket today!
We will be having all the traditional Southern Thanksgiving dishes!
Turkey with Stuffing and Gravy
Mashed Potatoes
Sweet Potato Souffle
Green Beans Amandine
Deviled Eggs
Cranberry Sauce
For Dessert – Pecan and Pumpkin Pie
Purchase deadline will be Sunday, November 17, 2013

Posted by Michelle Darnell | in Darnell History, Food and Recipes | 6 Comments »

New Breakfast Dishes

Oct. 19th 2013

If you have been following us on Facebook, Instagram and Twitter, you have already seen these dishes.

But I wanted to share them with everyone else!

We have added two new dishes to our Breakfast Menu!

Raspberry Parfait with Greek Yogurt and Graham Cracker at Belle Grove Plantation Bed and Breakfast

Raspberry Parfait

Greek Yogurt, Graham Cracker, Raspberry Preserves and Fresh Raspberries

Belle Grove Plantation Eggs Benedict withCream Cheese Scrambled Eggs and Virignia Ham in Puff Pastry on Roasted Asparagus with Fresh Hollandaise Sauce at Belle Grove Plantation Bed and Breakfast

Belle Grove Plantation Eggs Benedict

This is an twist to the traditional Eggs Benedict. It is Cream Cheese and Scallion Scrambled Eggs and Virginia Ham in a Puff Pastry Shell seated on Roasted Asparagus and topped with Fresh Hollandaise Sauce.

To see more of the dishes we prepare, you can check out our Breakfast Menu on our website.

If you would like to see up to the minute dishes, follow us on Facebook, Instagram and Twitter!

Posted by Michelle Darnell | in Darnell History, Food and Recipes | Comments Off on New Breakfast Dishes