Chilly Day… Warm Soup!

My dad and stepmother are visiting New York this weekend. They are now retired and spend most of their time in a warm climate.  New York decided to give them a taste of the winter weather they’ve been missing as winter came really early this year!  While the purpose of their trip is to spend time with their grandchildren, a visit to New York City wouldn’t be complete without a visit to Times Square and more specifically a Broadway show! I became a little nostalgic thinking about my days working at db Bistro Moderne in the theater district.  Those pre-theater rushes were no joke! One of my favorite recipes from my days in the kitchen there is Butternut Squash Soup.  Here is the recipe so you can make it this weekend and warm your body from the inside out!

Happy Friday,

Julie

Butternut Squash Soup

Makes 4 servings

Ingredients:

1 large butternut squash, peeled, cubed and seeds removed

3 tablespoons olive oil

Jacobsen Salt Co Kosher Salt

Freshly Ground black pepper

1 tablespoon butter

1 yellow onion, chopped

1 celery stalk, sliced thin

1 large carrot, chopped

1 quart vegetable stock

Method:

-Preheat oven to 400°F.  Toss the butternut squash with 2 tablespoons olive oil and season with salt and pepper.  Arrange butternut squash in an even layer on a large sheet pan. Roast in oven for 20-25 minutes.

-Meanwhile in a large pot over medium heat, melt the butter and add the remaining tablespoon of olive oil.  Add the onion, celery and carrot and cook 7-9 minutes, until tender.  Season generously with salt and pepper.

-Add roasted squash to the vegetable mixture and cover with vegetable stock. Simmer for 10-15 minutes.

-Blend carefully in small batches until the soup is smooth and creamy.

-Serve garnished with fresh thyme, your favorite croutons or a drizzle of crème fraiche.

Budget Shopping Made Simple

Walking down the street earlier this week I stumbled upon a sample sale. This one was for high-end pajamas, undies and robes. As I walked past, I started thinking about who I need to buy gifts for this holiday season and circled back to the sale.  I purchased some super soft hoodies for my nieces and thought about what I was going to get everyone else on my list.  My husband is from a big family and there are 11 cousins we give gifts to. They range in age from 4 to 26! I always try to be the cool aunt but also want to give something that I would like my children to receive. We have a budget for the gifts so everyone is gifting at the same level. 

I won’t bore you with the rest of the gifts I’ll be purchasing for the remaining cousins but the whole experience got me thinking about this type of gifting.  Often in offices or among groups of friends, you are in a situation where you are getting a gift for someone but have a spending limit for the gift.  You want to get something thoughtful but that is sometimes difficult with the limitations set.  The marketplace at Julie’s Beet has some great buys for the budget conscious. Here are some of my favorites in each category.  Let’s be honest, a $10 bar of chocolate is so much better than a $10 bottle of wine so focus you’re efforts here! 

Under $10 : Lucy’s Granola Toffee Crumbles… so sweet and delicious, the bag will be finished in one sitting but the recipient will be thanking you for days.

From $10 – $25 : P & T Tea … These boxes of tea are a work of art on the outside and filled with 15 tea bags to keep the recipient warm all winter long.

From $26 – $50: Pasta Tonight Gift Set … This set includes Due Cellucci Tomato Sauce, Semolina Artisanal Pasta & FIVE Extra Virgin Olive Oil.  Giving the gift of a good meal cannot be beat!

From $51-75: La Boîte Spice Blend Gift Set… what is better than one spice blend from La Boite? 4 of course. 

From $75-100: FIVE Oil & Vinegar Set… A bottle of FIVE Estate Balsamic Vinegar and FIVE Extra Virgin Olive Oil are a statement on any table.  Together this duo makes a great salad dressing or dipping sauce for bread.

It is never too early to start your holiday shopping.  We’ll include a handwritten not with every order and can even hold the order to ship closer to the holidays if that is your preference.

Happy Friday,

Julie

 

 

Celebrate Pumpkin Season!

Pumpkin spice has been in season for a while now but it is finally PUMPKIN season!  I ordered two cans of pumpkin this week with my groceries. That way I’ll have some on hand when the pumpkin baking begins.  They always seem to run out close to Thanksgiving when everyone is making pumpkin pie, so now I am prepared for once.  I actually don’t have any plans to make pumpkin pie but I will be making pumpkin muffins and pumpkin cookies. I’ll be sure to post the results on Instagram with the recipes too. 

This weekend we’ll head out to Secor Farms for their hayrides, animal farm, pumpkin patch, corn maze and probably some apple cider and apple cider donuts. Maybe we’ll even have some hot chocolate if we’re feeling very decadent.  That gives us just a few days to decide how we are going to decorate those pumpkins before Halloween. If all goes as planned one will turn into a proper jack-o-lantern with an electric candle and the other will be decorated with paint or markets. The pumpkins will become a part of our decor through the fall and into the winter(until the Hanukkah decorations come out!).   

Head over to our Pinterest Board The Great Pumpkin for more pumpkin inspiration.  What is your favorite part of pumpkin season?

Happy Friday,

Julie

Here’s a Good Excuse to Eat Chocolate Today…

Today is going to be a great day… it is Friday, hopefully the sun is shining where you are and it is National Chocolate Cupcake Day!  I believe cupcakes are the perfect sweet morsel.  They are just as delicious as a cake but you can eat them with your hands and have all of the deliciousness of the cake in one or a few bites, depending on the size. When thinking about the perfect chocolate cupcake the one that comes to mind are cupcakes I often had during my childhood.  These cupcakes were a moist chocolate cake and had a dollop of cream cheese chocolate chip filling baked right on top.  It was like they were frosted without the added mess of the frosting.  Here is an upgraded, adult version of that recipe from my childhood. 

Be sure to have a chocolate cupcake or two today to celebrate!

Happy Friday,

Julie

 

Chocolate Cupcakes with Cream Cheese Filling

Make 20 cupcakes

Ingredients:

1 – 8 oz package cream cheese, softened

1 egg, slightly beaten

1/3 cup sugar

1 cup chocolate chips

1 cup sugar

1 ½ cups flour

¼ cup Rococo Chocolates Drinking Chocolate

1 teaspoon baking soda

1 pinch salt

1 cup water

½ cup vegetable oil

1 tablespoon white vinegar

1 teaspoon vanilla extract

Method:

-Preheat oven to 350°F.  Line cupcake pans with paper cups and set aside.

-In a small bowl mix together the cream cheese, egg and sugar for the filling.  Once combined fold in the chocolate chips. Set aside

-In another bowl, combine the sugar, flour, Rococo Chocolates Drinking Chocolate, baking soda & salt.  Gradually add the water, vegetable oil, white vinegar and vanilla.  Mix to combine, stirring well for 2-3 minutes.

-Pour cupcake batter into prepared muffin cups just filling ½ way.  Drop a large spoonful of cream cheese filling on top the muffin batter.

-Bake in preheated oven for 20-25 minutes.   A toothpick inserted into the cupcake should come out clean.

Apple Pie Season is here!

My son went on an apple picking trip a few weeks ago with his kindergarten class. He had a great time and brought home lots of apples.  You can only eat so many apples so I’ve also been busy cooking with the rest of them.  Apple sauce has been made and I’ve started researching the best candy apple recipes so the caramel doesn’t get stuck in your teeth.  This recipe for Caramel Apples with Lucy’s Granola Toffee Crumbles and Chocolate Shavings is a winner.  I have also been testing some apple pie recipes.  There are only so many hours in the day so I resorted to pre-made crust that I just had to roll out into the pan.  My favorite recipe from the exercise is below.

Happy Friday,

Julie

Old Fashioned Apple Pie

Makes 1 8-9 inch pie

Ingredients

1 package pre-made pie crust

5 gala apples, peeled, cored and sliced

3 teaspoons lemon juice

2 tablespoons lemon zest

1/3 cup sugar

1/3 cup brown sugar

1/3 cup flour

1 teaspoon cinnamon

2 tablespoons butter

1 egg + 2 tablespoons(egg wash)

Method:

-Preheat oven to 425°F. 

-Roll out one pie crust and gently press into greased pie pan.  Allow excess dough to hang over the edge.  Cover with plastic wrap and stick in the refrigerator to chill.

-In a large bowl, toss apples with lemon juice and lemon zest.  Add the sugars, flour and spices and mix to combine.  Allow mixture to sit for 5-10 minutes to let the apples release more juices.

-Pour into prepared pie shell.  Cut butter into small pieces and sprinkle over the apples.

-Roll out remaining pie crust.  Cut into ½ inch strips.  Place one layer of strips across the pie over the apples, about 1 inch apart… do not press edges down.  Place another layer of strips perpendicular to the first layer.  Weave the strips over and under the first layer of strips to create a lattice affect. Press down the edges of the pie crust to seal the layers together.

-Whisk together the egg and water to make the egg wash. Brush across the top of the pie crust.

-Bake pie for 30-35 minutes or unti top is golden brown and juices are bubbly.

-Cool on wire rack for at least 30 minutes before serving.  Serve with a healthy scoop of vanilla ice cream.

Tacos for Everyone

If you have ever read the book Dragons Love Tacos by Adam Rubin, you know that dragons love tacos but they hate spicy salsa.  I am very similar to dragons in that I also love tacos but do not care for too much spice with them. That doesn’t stop me from finding great tacos and when a taco is too spicy a dip of guacamole or a sip of a margarita will usually do the trick. In honor of National Taco Day today, here is a round up of some of my favorite taco spots in New York City.

Tacombi – The authentic Mexican tacos at this casual eatery are all delicious. One stand out is the Mayan Fish Tacos.  Have them prepared tikin xic-style for a real treat.  The fish is marinated in achiote, chiles and spices and served without sauce in a fresh tortilla. The corn here is also excellent.

Playa Betty’s – A ‘California-Style’ restaurant which has an extensive taco selection.  The best on the menu are the avocado taco and the fried fish taco.  Both are battered and fried to crisp perfection, paired with a fresh salsa and are best finished with a squeeze of lime.

Cosme – An upscale Mexican restaurant where you’ll find the best Duck Carnitas Tacos around.  The duck is pretty tasty on its own but put it into a fresh made tortilla with some fresh radishes & cilantro and you have a taco to remember.

Whether you are a purist and like you’re your tacos in a flour tortilla letting the ingredients speak themselves or like the more American version with cheese, lettuce & tomato, you just cannot go wrong with a taco or two.

Comment below with your favorite taco flavor combination.

Happy Friday,

Julie

Best Breakfast EVER!!!

The experts always say breakfast is the most important meal of the day. I couldn’t agree more.  After a busy night of not eating I am always ready for something delicious to start the day off right.  I know after a good breakfast I’ll have more energy to greet the day and manage the many activities I’ll be taking myself or my children to.  Some days my breakfast is eaten on the go and may consist of a granola bar or  a couple of hard boiled eggs.  My go-to weekday breakfast is yogurt topped with fresh fruit and something crunchy like Lucy’s Granola.  On the rare occasion that we all sit down to breakfast together it is nice to have something warm and filling for everyone to enjoy.  Breakfast Casseroles were a weekend staple of my childhood(I grew up in the Midwest!) and are the perfect breakfast when I have time for something more substantial with my family.  In honor of National Better Breakfast Day yesterday, I am going to share one of my favorite breakfast recipes with you.  You can substitute your favorite veggies to make it more your own and you can never have too much cheese!

Happy Friday,

Julie   

Spinach, Mushroom & Cheese Breakfast Casserole

Makes 8-10 servings

Ingredients:

8 cups rustic bread, cubed

4 cups sliced mushrooms

5 ounces fresh spinach

1 ½ cups shredded Gruyere Cheese, using the large holes on your grater

1/3 cup Grated Parmesan Cheese

8 eggs

2 ½ cup Whole Milk

Method:

-Preheat oven to 350°F.

-Grease a 9  x 13 inch casserole dish and set aside

-Toss bread with 2 tablespoons olive oil and season with salt and pepper.  Pour onto a baking sheet, making one layer.  Place in the preheated oven for 10-15 minutes, until golden brown.

-While the bread is toasting, in a sauté pan heat 2 tablespoons olive oil over medium-high heat and add the mushrooms.  Cook until browned on one side and then stir and cook for 2-3 more minutes. Add the spinach to the pan and continue to stir until the spinach is wilted.  Season with salt and pepper.  Remove from heat.

–Place the bread into the prepared casserole dish, add the spinach & mushrooms and stir to combine.  Mix in the cheese.    

-In a large bowl, whisk together the eggs and the milk. Season with salt and pepper.  Pour into the prepared casserole dish over the other mixture. 

-Cover casserole with plastic wrap and place in the refrigerator for 6 hours or overnight. 

-When ready to bake, preheat oven to 350°F. Place casserole on the counter for 30 minutes prior to baking.  Bake for 50-55 minutes until the custard is set and the top of the casserole is golden brown.

-Cool for at least 15 minutes before serving or bake the day ahead and serve at room temperature.

Pour some Syrup on…

Nothing goes better with pancakes than maple syrup.  If you’re looking for a great pancake recipe check out this one for Blueberry Cornmeal Pancakes.  Maple syrup comes from the sap of a maple tree. Maple trees grow in cool climates so are found in abundance in places like the northeast, specifically Vermont and up the coast into Canada. Maple trees are tapped for this sap and then it is refined into concentrated syrup.

 I have been looking for the perfect maple syrup to add to our marketplace. While I have been checking out different syrups, I’ve done some research into what makes maple syrup special. Maple syrup is graded according to different scales in the US, Canada and Vermont.  All scales base their ratings on the density and translucency of the syrup.  The restrictions for something to be called maple are stricter in the US and even more so in Vermont.  The highest rating  is Grade A which means the syrup either has a golden color and delicate taste, an amber color and rich taste, a dark color and robust taste or a very dark color and strong taste.  To be classified as Grade A a syrup must also have a consistent color, no off-flavor and be free from sediment. Darker syrups have a stronger flavor and are often used in cooking where as the lighter color syrups are used for pancakes as I described above. 

I am looking for a Grade A Maple Syrup made by a small producer which also tastes just right on pancakes.  Luckily, you don’t have to go far from New York City to try a wide variety of syrups.  I’ve tasted syrups from glass bottles and syrups aged in barrels. I’ve tasted light syrups and dark syrups.  It has been difficult but I think I’m narrowing in on the ONE!  Stay tuned from more information on the latest sweet addition to our line up. There will be a big announcement here and also across our social media accounts. Be sure to follow us on Facebook, Instagram & Pinterest so you don’t miss out.

Happy Friday,

 

Julie   

Kicking Off Football Season

As football season kicked off last weekend for Colleges across the country and the NFL, my mind naturally turns to tailgating.  For me that is the best part of attending a football game.  In fact, some of my fondest memories from college are of tailgates with my family and friends. The Google definition of tailgating is to host or attend a social gathering at which an informal meal is served from the back of a parked vehicle, typically in the parking lot of a sports stadium.  At Purdue University, my alma mater, tailgating before a football game was an event.  I was an expert at this before I even got to college as my family has been long time Purdue supporters and tailgaters.  The parking lot behind Ross-Ade Stadium was where we would eat peanuts mixed with candy corn, cold fried chicken and sometimes hot chili.  My grandfather would walk the aisles trying to sell or buy tickets to the game depending on our family’s attendance that week. 

While my family certainly has our own tailgating traditions, here are some of the best from college football stadiums across the country:

Texas A & M – In College Park, Texas the tradition is to arrive well before the game, the night before in fact.  At midnight before a home football game Kyle Field is filled with 40,000 plus fans for the midnight yell.  A cheer practice of sorts before the big game!

University of South Carolina – Before a Gamecocks Game in Columbia, SC you can rent out railroad cars less than 50 yards from the stadium for your tailgate.  Each car is decked out with a flat-screen television and full kitchen.  This is where tailgating dreams come true!

University of California Berkeley- Just east of California Memorial Stadium is a small hill where fans for football climb for a free view of the game.  Climbing charter hill has become a standing game day tradition and a great way to enjoy tailgate snacks throughout the game.

Of course food and drink are a big part of tailgating and what is served varies from region to region.  Check out our recipe box for some great tailgating foods like Chicken Wings with La Boite Ayala Spiced Aioli or Ricks Picks Phat Beets Happy Appy.

What are your favorite tailgating traditions and eats?

Happy Friday,

Julie

Apple Season is coming!

With the start of school this week, my thoughts start to change from summer vegetables to the bounty of fall. I’m not one to rush the seasons. In fact, I have had a tomato salad almost every day this week.  And the tomato plants in my garden have more flowers now than they’ve had all summer. But I do love the flavors of fall.  I have started experimenting in the kitchen this week with heartier recipes to share with you all. Think roasted vegetables, soups, stews and some really amazing pasta dishes.  I’ll be ready to share those with you soon enough. With Rosh Hashanah less than a month away, here is one of my favorite apple recipes. It is one of my favorites because you can make it ahead of time and it transports easily for your to bring along with when you celebrate with family and friends. 

Happy Friday,

Julie

Apple Honey Bread

Makes 1 loaf

Ingredients:

Ingredients:

2 eggs

1 cup granulated sugar

½ cup vegetable oil

1 teaspoon vanilla extract

1 tablespoon Bee Local Honey

2 cups apples, peeled & diced

2 cups all-purpose flour

1 ½ teaspoons salt

1 teaspoon baking powder

½ teaspoon cinnamon

Method:

-Preheat oven to 350°F. Grease a loaf pan. 

-Beat eggs, sugar, oil, vanilla & Bee Local Honey in a bowl.  Add the apples.

-Mix flour, salt, baking powder and cinnamon in a separate bowl.  Add to apple mixture and stir until just combined into a thick batter.  Pour batter into prepared loaf pan.

-Bake in preheated oven for 45 minutes.  Cover loaf with aluminum foil and continue to bake for about 15 minutes (or until a toothpick inserted into the center of the loaf comes out clean).

-Cool loaf in pan for 10 minutes before removing and placing on a wire rack to cool completely.

-Enjoy!