Is today Bad Luck?

Today is March 13th and it is Friday, making it the first Friday the 13th of 2020.  Many view this day as bad luck and are careful with their actions but for others it is just another day. This all got me thinking about superstitions, where they come from and why we believe in them.  Here is what I found.

Friday the 13th This superstition is thought to originate with the Last Supper.  It was attended by 13 people, Jesus Christ and his 12 disciples, the night before his crucifixion on Good Friday.  Or you could trace this superstition back to Friday October 13th, 1307 when King Philip IV of France arrested hundreds of Knights Templar.  They were charged with moral and financial corruption to which many pleaded guilty under torture.  These events ensured every Friday the 13th would bring bad luck to all.

Don’t Walk Under a Ladder: This one is said to have started over 5000 years ago in Egypt.  An open ladder or a ladder leaning against the wall is the shape of a triangle.  The triangle is a sacred shape to Egyptians.  They are the shape of the Pyramids, the trinity of the G-ds and to pass through them was desecrate to them.  Now it seems common sense that you don’t want a ladder to fall on you. Either way it is a good idea to avoid them.

Don’t Break a Mirror : The superstition says that breaking a mirror will bring you seven years of back luck.  This lies in the belief that a mirror is not just your reflection but holds bits of your soul.

Don’t Open your Umbrella Inside: This superstition is not a bad one as it keeps you from doing something that could hurt someone else.  You don’t want to poke someone in the eye with your umbrella.  Anyway, legend has it that a Roman woman many years ago opened her umbrella inside moments before her house collapsed. 

Knock on Wood: Knocking on wood for good luck or to prevent disappointment is one of the most common superstitions in the US.  This is thought to come from knocking loudly to scare away evil spirits. It seems like a silly thing to do but I find myself knocking on wood more than I would think.

There you have it, some common superstitions debunked.  Perhaps this will help you enjoy Friday the 13th without feeling like there will be bad luck. 

Happy Friday the 13th,

Julie

Women supporting Women

As a woman, I enjoy supporting other women owned businesses. While I do seek out products made by small businesses, I think it is more organic that I happen to find so many amazing products made by women.  There are plenty of stereotypes on which foods men prefer and which foods women prefer; but I just think women understand women better than men understand women.  Whether it is the packaging, the flavor profile or  the name of a product, more often than not, I am drawn to a product created by a woman.  With International Women’s Day coming up on Sunday, I started thinking about the many amazing women artisans we support in our marketplace.  Here are a few reasons why each of these women are amazing. 

Stefanie Bhalla, found of Due Cellucci Tomato Sauces:  Stefanie created her line of tomato sauces to honor her brother who wasn’t able to fulfill his dream.  A portion of the proceeds from every jar sold goes to support the Leukemia & Lymphoma Society.  You can enjoy some amazing sauce and feel good about eating it too.

Tara Grey, Owner Gus & Grey: Tara started making jam in her New York City apartment to honor her grandmother’s recipe.  But it wasn’t until Tara moved back home to Detroit, Michigan that jam making became her full time gig.  Tara has witty names for all of her flavors and one of my personal favorites is Spellbound(blueberry lavender jam).

Leah Ferrazzani, Semolina Artisanal : Leah was devoted to making sure her children ate the best possible meals.  When she couldn’t find organic pasta made with ingredients grown on American soil, she decided to make her own.  These pastas are the next best thing to fresh.

I hope you’ll continue to support me and these amazing women, on our journeys.

Happy Friday,

Julie

30 Minutes to Dinner

By the end of the day I am tired, not just tired but exhausted.  I spend my days keeping up with my four boys… making sure everyone gets to where they need to go and that they have all of the supplies they need once they get there. I also manage all aspects of Julie’s Beet and work behind-the-scenes on a few other websites.  My husband also works very hard all day.  When it is time to prepare dinner, we’re at the breaking point of tired and hungry.  Growing up I loved watching Rachael Ray’s show 30 Minute Meals on the Food Network.  She would pull together a delicious meal in the 30 minutes it took to watch the show.  I often start cooking dinner at 8pm, so making something in a the shortest amount of time is a must!  I recently found myself turning back to a Rachael Ray cookbook titled, 365:No Repeats.  A book full of 30 minute meals to last for the entire year.

Here is an adaptation on one of the recipes from the book.  It is a one-pot wonder and a great weeknight meal on a cold winter day.

Send me your quick dinner prep recipes! I am always looking for new ideas.

Happy Friday

Julie

Chicken Cacciatore Soup

Makes 4 servings

Ingredients:

3 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil

3 boneless-skinless chicken breasts, diced

2 tablespoons Jacobsen Salt Co Kosher Salt

2 large white potatoes, diced

8 cremini mushrooms, chopped

4 celery ribs, chopped

1 yellow onion, sliced thin

1 red bell pepper, cored, seeded and thinly sliced

4 garlic cloves, minced

½ cup dry white wine

1 15-oz can diced tomatoes

1 28-oz can crushed tomatoes

2 cups chicken stock

Crusty Bread for the side

Method:

Heat a soup pot over medium-high heat.  Add 2 tablespoons of Olive Oil, then add the chicken. Season with salt & pepper.  Cook until evenly and lightly browned, 3-4 minutes

Remove the cooked chicken to a plate and reserve.  Add the remaining tablespoon of Olive oil to the pan.  Add the mushrooms, celery and onions and cook for 3-4 minutes.  Add the pepper and garlic and cook for 1-2 more minutes.  Add the wine to deglaze the pan.  Add the tomatoes and stock and stir to combine.  Cover and cook for 8-10 minutes.

Turn off the soup and ladle into four bowls.  Garnish with grated cheese or fresh spinach or sautéed arugula. Serve with crusty bread, perfect for mopping up the delicious soup/stew.

How to host a 4th birthday party

In a few days my son will turn 4 years old! I have no idea where the last four years have gone. The good news is he has grown into a very charismatic boy but still loves his cuddles!  His birthday typically falls around President’s Day which means we are on school vacation. We hosted his birthday party yesterday at our apartment. I try to be a good DIYer and create an amazing party at home, but the truth is you need some help too.  Here is how I managed a 4-year-old’s birthday party while staying (mostly) sane and keeping my apartment from getting destroyed!

By the time your child turns four they have a lot of opinions about everything, especially their birthday.  Once we decided on where to have the party (at home), we started working on the guest list.  As I mentioned previously, my son is pretty fun. His teachers last year described him as a charismatic playmate. I wasn’t surprised that his guest list was long.  Knowing it was a school vacation made it a bit more reasonable as a lot of families travel during the break.  But I knew if I was going to keep everything in order, I was going to need some outside ‘entertainment’.  I wanted to do something different and when I found the Karma Kids Yoga website it seemed like the perfect activity.  Shari came to our home with all of the yoga mats and supplies to keep the kids busy for about an hour.  Did I mention the party was a Sea Creature/Beach theme with snow (because it is the middle of winter)? Shari did a great job incorporating our theme and keeping the kids’ attention.

Next up was lunch and while I typically prefer to cook, I knew that it wasn’t realistic to be in the kitchen and be able to enjoy the party.  We ordered pizza, mozzarella sticks, pasta and salad.  To make it a bit home-made I created a Shark Watermelon Bowl (thank you Pinterest)! Keeping with the theme we also had sand buckets filled with pretzels and crackers set out for the kids to snack on.  Everyone enjoyed their meal and the leftovers went to the office with my husband where his team enjoyed a nice afternoon snack!  Dessert was ice cream cone cupcakes.  I find cupcakes are much easier for a kid’s party since there isn’t any waiting for the cake to be cut. While it might seem fun to have different flavors to satisfy different tastes, it is actually better to keep them all the same.  Then no one gets upset that they didn’t get the flavor/color/icing that they wanted.  We had a 4 shaped candle and my son had a huge smile on his face.

After cupcakes, it was time for everyone to go home.  I find if you put some thought into the goody bags for just a few more $$ you can get something useful.  Our goody bags were shark shaped and had a beach towel rolled up inside.  Clean up isn’t always fun but we used disposable everything so a few garbage bags later the apartment looked pretty good. A quick run of the vacuum and the place looked pretty much as it does every afternoon. 

To sum it all up, to make the most of your child’s birthday party be sure to have some help but put a little home-made love into it by creating a few of your own pieces.  If the birthday boy or girl is happy, you’ll be happy too.  Now I’m off to make the real birthday cake we’ll have on his birthday. I’ll be sure to share it on Instagram so follow us there.

Happy Friday,

Julie

Romantic Dinner for 2… at HOME!

The day of LOVE is finally upon us. As you may have expected, I always cook dinner for my husband on Valentine’s Day.  Restaurants do a great job of creating amazing tasting menus for two but I find it all a bit fussy. Also, I might be one of the only people you know who doesn’t care for truffles and doesn’t eat shellfish. All of the fancy stuff is just lost on me.  Anyway, if you’re looking to put together a simple but elegant meal for two follow these recipes below. 

Happy Valentine’s Day,

Julie

Rick’s Picks Phat Beets Happy Appy

Recipe from Rick’s Picks

Makes 2 servings

Ingredients

2 oz. Fresh Goat Cheese, softened

Crostini or Crackers (To make your own, slice a day-old baguette into ¾” rounds. Brush both sides lightly with olive oil. Bake in a 400°F oven for 7-10 minutes or until golden brown. Cool completely)

Rick’s Picks Phat Beets cut in to 1” pieces

 Method

-Spread a teaspoon of goat cheese onto crostini or cracker.

-Top with Rick’s Picks Phat Beet

Pasta Putanesca with Due Cellucci Traditional Tomato Sauce and Hellenic Farms Kalamata Olives

Makes 2 servings

Ingredients:

½ bag Semolina Artisanal Pasta Strozzapreti

4 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil

4 anchovy fillets, finely chopped

1 large pinch red pepper flakes(optional)

¼ cup capers, drained and chopped

¼ cup Hellenic Farms Kalamata Olives, chopped

2 cups Due Cellucci Traditional Tomato Sauce

1 tablespoon chopped fresh parsley

¼ cup grated Parmesan Cheese

Method:

-Cook Semolina Artisanal Pasta Strozzapreti  according to package directions.

-In a large saute pan, heat olive oil.  Add anchovies,  red pepper flakes, capers and Hellenic Farms Kalamata Olives. Cook for 2-3 minutes while stirring to combine.    Add Due Cellucci Traditional Tomato Sauce  and bring to a simmer.

-Add cooked pasta to the sauce, tossing to coat.  Stir in parsley and Parmesan Cheese. Season with salt and pepper before serving.

 

Red Raspberries filled with Chocolate Champagne Ganache

Makes 2 servings

Ingredients:

100g Rococo Chocolates Sea Salt Dark Chocolate(about 1 ½ Artisan Bars)

45 mL Champagne or Prosecco

½ teaspoon honey

50 mL Crème Fraiche

10-12 Large Red Raspberries

Method:

-Melt the chocolate slowly in a microwave safe bowl.  Microwave 30 seconds at a time at about half power.  Stirring after each time in the microwave. 

-Place the champagne in a small heavy-based saucepan, ad the honey and gently heat until boiling. Remove from heat.

-Gently stir in 1/3 of the mixture into the melted chocolate with a rubber spatula.  As the mixture starts to thicken, stir in the next third of the champagne mixture.  By the addition of the last of the champagned you will have a smooth and glossy ganache.  Beat the crème fraiche into the mixture using a stick blender until it is fully incorporated.

-Allow the mixture to cool and thicken slightly.  Pour into a piping bag.

-Pipe chocolate ganache into the center of the clean, dry raspberries.

-Let cool completely. As the ganache cools in will become the consistency of butter.  Raspberries can be wrapped with plastic wrap and kept in the refrigerator for one day prior to serving.  Allow raspberries to come to room temperature before serving.

 

 

Fashion & Food

Fashion Week hit NYC by storm this week. If you missed it just head over to Instagram and search #NYFW and you’ll see what I’m talking about.  While the models and the clothes, accessories, etc. are the stars of Fashion Week, food is becoming much more fashioned then before. Thanks to the ease of taking a photo on our smart phones and then posting these photos to social media, food has become something that is shared often. I have no idea how many food-based accounts are out there just on Instagram alone; there is definitely something for everyone. 

I tend to follow accounts for one of these reasons:

  1. To stay up to date on what is happening with a product/artisan
  2. To get new recipe Ideas
  3. Restaurant Reviews
  4. Networking Opportunity

My feed is a lot of food, food, food and I love it that way. I am constantly inspired by beautiful plates posted by others and respect the amount of work it takes to get them looking that way.  I save recipes to make later and drool over those meals everyone is having. I find it interesting how each account has a unique take on the food they are posting. I hope you are looking on Instagram Stories at the meals I’m preparing at home.  I’m still learning how to get the best images but really enjoy sharing the love the comes out when I make a meal for my family. I always struggle with how much of just food to post and how much of the account should be focused on our products. I hope you like the balance I’ve found but am always open to suggestions on how to improve.

Why do you choose to follow certain accounts on Instagram?  What are your favorite foodie accounts?

Happy Friday,

Julie

Hot Cocoa My Way

Winter is really settling in here in New York with cold temperatures, lots of wind and the occasional snow.  One of my favorite ways to warm up from the cold is a nice, rich cup of hot chocolate. I use Rococo Chocolates Organic Drinking Chocolate when I am feeling very decadent but there are so many variations that make a plain old cup of Swiss Miss Hot Cocoa taste really great too!  Today, January 31st, just so happens to be National Hot Chocolate Day. In celebration of this wonderful day, here are some of my favorite ways to enjoy a cup of hot chocolate.

Peppermint Hot Chocolate – simply stir your mix your hot chocolate with a peppermint candy cane

Mocha Hot Chocolate – Instead of using water to make your hot chocolate, use coffee.  This is one of is a go-to when I am feeling really tired!

Hot Chocolate Affogato – This is more of a dessert than a hot chocolate… put 2 scoops of your favorite ice cream in a mug and pour the hot chocolate right over the top.  I recommend vanilla if you are a purist but if you’re not try something fun like Ben & Jerry’s Phish Food!

Elvis Presley Hot Chocolate – One of the king’s favorite sandwiches was Peanut Butter & Banana.  Add these flavors to your hot chocolate by making a ‘smoothie’  In a blender combine 1 banana, ¼ cup peanut butter and 1 ½ cups hot chocolate. Be careful when blending hot liquids as there is the possibility for explosion.

Nutty Hot Chocolate – Instead of making your hot chocolate with regular milk or water, use almond milk.  The flavor is rich and the taste is delicious.

What is your favorite variation on a classic hot chocolate?

Happy Friday,

Julie

New Year, slightly delayed

Happy New Year! As the first few days of 2020 come to a close, I cannot help but look back on what 2019 had to offer. It was definitely a year of ups and downs for me both professionally and personally.  And the truth is, I started this blog post 3 weeks ago and 2020 did not get started the way I had planned.  I apologize for the delay and lack of engagement.  I am ready to get the year started off right!

In 2017, one of my New Year’s Resolutions was to hire someone to work with me at Julie’s Beet. I made that happen in 2017 but in early 2019, it became clear that that relationship was ending.  It was a wonderful having someone to bounce ideas off of and help out with the workload, but it just didn’t make sense anymore.  We parted ways amicably and I started to look for someone new. It isn’t always easy to find the perfect person especially in a small business like mine.  Thus, the search continues… On the flip side, working by myself has forced me to be more efficient in my actions and more purposeful as well. It has forced me to become more of a planner and less of a last minute person.  I look at this as a positive.  On a positive note for 2019, my family grew by one.  We welcomed a healthy baby boy in August and he has become my partner in crime over the past 5 months.  While he doesn’t have so much to say, he is a very good listener and is always there to lend a smile when needed.  Pretty soon, he will also be able to taste the products and will become a much better helper!

Looking ahead to 2020, I have made some resolutions or goals for my business.  I’m going to share them with you so you can hold me accountable.

  1. Update the IT system – While there’s not too much tech work at Julie’s Beet there is some. I need to give the whole ‘system’ an update starting with a new laptop computer, having something with more storage and power will allow me to be more efficient at task at hand. I also plan on updating parts of the website, making it more user friendly.
  2. Find the Right Help – I mentioned above that I have been working solo for most of the last year. In the past I  created a position that combined many skills from customer service to marketing to packing and shipping. The truth is, it is pretty difficult to find someone who excels in all of the these areas. I plan to divide and conquer, which may mean hiring a marketing specialist in addition to someone to help out around the shop.  At the end of the day finding the right person for the specific task is most important.
  3. Stay Fresh – I love all of the products in the marketplace(they wouldn’t be there if I didn’t) but I also feel it is important to keep the products relevant. If something is amazing but just isn’t what you all want, then it is time to find something else. I get it, just because I love something doesn’t mean you will too!  My plan is to continue looking for new and innovative artisans that follow our goals and bring those artisans and their products to you!

And with this list I plan to go out and give my all in 2020!

Happy Friday,

Julie

Stop everything and bake!

chocolate-chip-cookie-recipe

The countdown to Christmas is really on now! If you’re like me you have the shopping mostly done and your menu planned.  All that is left to do is some holiday baking.  Check out our Pinterest Board Cookie Exchange for some fun holiday recipes.  Even though it is fun to whip up a batch of dreidel shaped cookies or maybe even a snowman; when it all comes down to it, what people really like are Chocolate Chip Cookies. Here is the best chocolate chip cookie recipe I’ve found. If you want to make them festive for the holidays, sprinkle some colored sugar on top or mix in some fancy sprinkles like Sweetapolita to make them really feel like the holidays.

Happy Friday,

Julie

Makes approximately 36 cookies

Ingredients

2 ¼ cups all-purpose flour

1 teaspoon baking soda

1 teaspoon salt

½ cup (one stick) butter, softened

½ cup vegetable oil

¾ cup granulated sugar

¾ cup packed brown sugar

1 teaspoon vanilla

2 large eggs

2 cups chocolate chips 

Method

-preheat oven to 375°F

-Combine flour, baking soda & salt in a small bowl and set aside. Beat butter, oil, both sugars and vanilla in a large mixer bowl until creamy.

-Add eggs one at a time, beating well after each addition. Gradually add the flour mixture.

-Stir in the chocolate chips.

-Drop by rounded tablespoon on to ungreased cookie sheet.

-Bake 9-11 minutes or until golden brown.

Holiday Menu Ahead

It is hard to believe we’re already in the middle of December and in the thick of holiday shopping season. I’ve started thinking ahead to what we’ll be eating on Christmas Day.  We’ve invited a couple of friends over for an early dinner(normal time if you have children 5 and under😊). I want to be able to spend time with my company so I need a dish I can prepare ahead.  It is Christmas and while I don’t formally celebrate the holiday, I realize we need something a little special for our meal.  Here is the final menu… I’ve linked some of the recipes so you can enjoy them for your holiday meal.

Happy Friday,

Julie

Hor’s D’ouvres

Chocolate Olive Tapenade with baguette              

Vegetable Crudite with Farmhouse Labs Berry Olive Dressing

Main Meal

Red Wine Braised Short Ribs

Roasted Cauliflower Farro with Pomegranates and Pistachios

Green Salad with Anchovy-Mustard Vinaigrette

Dessert

Milk Bar Peppermint Bar Cake

Chocolate Dipped Peanut Butter Pretzels