Dunk and Dip

We’re about a quarter of our way into the first weekend of March Madness and I’m looking forward to seeing how the brackets unfold.  I grew up in a household where we supported Purdue University and remember going to lots of Purdue Basketball games at Mackey Arena. I was a season ticket hold through my 4 years of college. Today, I’m embarrassed to say that I cannot name one player on the Boilermaker team but that doesn’t keep me from cheering for them in this whirlwind of basketball madness.  They are the #3 seed and played Old Dominion last night in the first round. I have yet to check to see who won… the game started at 9:45pm and there was no way I was going to stay up until the end.  Purdue should have won but they always manage to mess up in this tournament.

Hopefully I’ll be able to sit back and watch some more basketball this weekend and in the coming weeks as we look to see who will be number one.  While it is fun to watch my Boilermakers play, I am not too particular on who the 2 teams are.  What I am particular about is what I’ll be snacking on while I’m watching.  In honor of March Madness and National Chip and Dip Day tomorrow please find below two of my favorite chip and dip recipes. One is so simple and the other not quite so, but I guarantee both are crowd-pleasers and pair great with just about any kind of chip out there.

Happy Friday,

Julie

Sour Cream and Onion Dip

Ingredients:

16oz sour cream

1 packet onion soup mix, such as Liptons

Method:

-Mix sour cream and onion soup mix together until combined.  Serve with your favorite chips.

Spinach & Artichoke Dip

Ingredients:

8 oz cream cheese

2/3 cup sour cream

1/3 cup mayonnaise

1 ½ cups grated mozzarella cheese

½ cup shredded parmesan cheese

½ cup grated Gruyere Cheese

10 oz frozen spinach, defrosted and squeezed dry

1 can artichoke hearts, chopped

Method:

-Preheat oven to 375°F. 

-In a large bowl combine cream cheese, sour cream and mayonnaise. Mix with a hand mixer until light and fluffy.

-Stir in Parmesan Cheese, 1 cup Mozzarella Cheese, Gruyere Cheese, spinach and artichokes.

-Place in a 9 inch square baking pan and top with the remaining Mozzarella Cheese.

-Bake 25-30 minutes or until mixture is browned and bubbling.

-Serve with our favorite chips!

Recipe vs. No Recipe

I’ve always loved to cook. I grew up in a family that cooked. I have very fond memories of working together with my grandmother, mother and sisters to put together a Hanukkah celebration at the St. Louis Botanical Garden.  I have fond memories of making pies late on Christmas eve with my dad and sisters.   Most of my cooking memories when I was younger involved family and the holidays. My sisters and I also used have what we called ‘gourmet lunch’ on occasion. Looking back I realize this was a way for our babysitter to get us to prepare lunch but we loved it.  Everyone drew a course and went to work making something for the group with whatever was available in the kitchen.  It was a Food Network Chopped before that came around.  Some of the dishes worked and some of the more creative ones weren’t quite as delicious or edible!  As I got older(high school age) and could cook by myself, my mom often asked me to help with dinner. I loved that being in the kitchen but what I didn’t love was following a recipe. I wanted to be creative, not measuring and following directions.

I love cookbooks for their delicious stories about food and the ideas they provide for mixing new ingredients together. Check out our Pinterest Board for some of our favorite cookbooks. Unless I am baking, I typically use recipes as a guideline for flavors and quantities but allow myself to stray.  I learned a great lesson from my son’s teacher last year… Once you have done something the right way (i.e. followed the recipe or built the Lego kit the way it is intended to be built) you can do it in a new way.  This is a great lesson for a three-year-old and for grown-ups. Then I came across this great article in the New York Times by Sam Sifton, You Don’t Need a Recipe.  In the article Mr. Sifton describes guidelines for cooking a certain dish but not a strict recipe.  He points out that it takes practice to have the confidence to execute a dish without following a recipe but we can all get there if we try. I got some great ideas from the flavor profiles he outlined and signed up to receive the What to Cook Newsletter and get no-recipe ‘recipes’ sent to my inbox each week.

I cook dinner 6-7 nights a week at my house so I am always looking for inspiration on what to bring to the table.  Some of the dishes will be winners with my family and some won’t; that is all part of the process. Follow our Instagram account(@juliesbeet) and check out our stories to see what I am cooking most nights of the week. When a dish works out, I often publish a recipe in the form of an Instagram post or place it in the Recipe Box on the Julie’s Beet Website.  I hope you’ll follow along! 

Happy Friday,

Julie

On top of Spaghetti…

all covered with cheese, I lost my poor meatball when somebody sneezed!

In honor of National Meatball Day tomorrow, I did some research on the origin of the meatball.  As with most culinary successes the origin is a bit unclear.  While meatballs can often be found in spaghetti and meatballs in the United States, when served in true Italian style they are smaller and typically come without pasta or sauce.  Many believe the true origin of the meatball is from Kofta,  a dish of ground meat mixed with lentils or rice.  Kofta is said to have started as a Persian dish and then was passed along to the Arabs.  The popularity of the meatball perhaps spread north through Europe along with the spice trade.

While the origin of the meatball can be debated, one thing is certain, meatballs are popular in cuisines across the globe.  From Spanish Albondigas to Swedish Meatballs, Kofte from India to Morocco and Polpette in Italy; meatballs are everywhere.  Perhaps this is because of the ease of making a meatball. It is a great way to use of up leftover meat and vegetables and meatballs are easily flavored with a blend of spices.  Not only are they easy to make they are easy to make in large quantities and serve to a crowd… probably why most of us think they are an Italian dish.  Whether you prefer beef in your meatballs or take a more vegetarian approach, I hope you’ll enjoy these recipes and have fun celebrating National Meatball Day!

Happy Friday,

Julie

Traditional Meatballs

Makes 6 servings

Ingredients:

2 lbs. Ground Beef

1 small zucchini

3 medium sized carrots, peeled

1 small onion, peeled

3 tablespoons olive oil

salt and pepper to taste

2 cups Due Cellucci Tradtional Tomato Sauce

Method:

-Grate Zucchini, Carrots and Onion

-Over medium heat, heat olive oil in large saute pan.  Add the grated vegetables and cook for about 5 minutes(until vegetables are soft) stirring occasionally.  Allow to cool.

-Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.

-In the 9×13 inch baking pan, mix together the ground beef, vegetables, salt and pepper.  Form into ping-ping size balls and line up in the pan.  Once all of the mixture has been formed into the meatballs top with Tomato Sauce.  Cover entire pan with aluminum foil.

-Baked in preheated oven for 30 minutes.  The sauce will be bubbling and the meatballs cooked through.

-Serve immediately or see my tip above and chill for the next day.

-To reheat simply place in 350 degree F oven for 15-20 minutes.

-Enjoy with more sauce over pasta or choose spaghetti squash if you are into the low-carb thing!

Lentil ‘Meatballs’

Makes 4 servings

Ingredients:

¾ cup green lentils, uncooked

¼ cup red quinoa, uncooked

1 tbsp ground flaxseed

3 tbsp water

¼ cup sunflower seeds, ground to a fine powder

½ cup minced yellow onion

½ cup old fashioned rolled oats

½ tsp garlic powder

2 tsp Italian seasoning

¼ cup fresh basil, finely chopped

¼ cup fresh flat leaf parsley, chopped

1 tsp kosher salt

Pepper to taste

Method:

-Cook lentils and quinoa, separately, according to package instructions, then let cool

-Combine ground flaxseed with water

-Preheat oven to 375 degrees and line baking sheet with parchment paper

-Add cooked lentils, cooked quinoa, oats, ground sunflower seeds, onion, basil, parsley, Italian seasoning, and salt and pepper into the bowl of a food processor and pulse to combine. Add in flaxseed and water mixture and pulse to incorporate

-Using a 2 tablespoon scoop, scoop mixture and roll between palms into uniform balls. Place on baking sheet  

-Bake for 15 to 20 minutes, flipping halfway through, or until golden brown

-Enjoy with Semolina Artisanal Strozzapreti Pasta and Due Cellucci Spicy Arrabbiata Sauce

This is 40!

Today I am celebrating a milestone birthday… forty years!  It is amazing to look back on the journey that got me to where I am today.

In my 20’s I graduated from college and headed off to culinary school.  Originally, I thought I would be a chef on a cruise ship. That dream quickly changed after having an instructor that had worked on a cruise ship.  She and I didn’t get along and that made me question the whole cruise thing.  Last year I went on my first (and maybe last) cruise and I have to say I am glad I didn’t pick that route.  Then I set my goals higher, I was going to be the head chef of a catering company by the time I was 30.  I moved to New York City at the age of 25 to learn from the best chefs in the world and with that came a bit of a reality check. I worked at some great restaurants, db Bistro Moderne and Eleven Madison Park were the big two.  I did some catering work on the side and quickly realized maybe the kitchen, or the catering business weren’t for me.

When I turned 30, I was a manager at Bouchon Bakery and Café in the Time Warner Center. Basically, I was doing everything there but cooking. The hours spent at the bakery gave me a lot of exposure to what happens behind the scenes in a food business.  I learned a lot and after a few years I was eager to get something of my own started. I was used to working really hard and thought who better to work really hard for than myself.  That is when the seeds of Julie’s Beet were started.  The concept originally had a prepared meal delivery aspect to it along with all the wonderful artisanal food.  Everything changed when my soon-to-be-husband got transferred to London.  (I met my husband at 29 and we got engaged when I was 31 and married at 32).  We moved to London together less than a month after we were married and stayed there for about two years.  I put Julie’s Beet on hold for the time being and explored some opportunities in London.  I landed at Rococo Chocolates in the fall of 2012 as their Events Manager. I over saw the chocolate school where I taught chocolate lovers of all ages about making and enjoying chocolate.  If that hadn’t happened, I probably would not be working with Rococo Chocolates today.  When I returned to New York, I knew my business had to have Rococo Chocolates as part of it. 

The rest of my thirties were a bit of a blur.  Our family grew from two to five in under four years. But somewhere in there I knew I needed to get Julie’s Beet up and running. I wanted to keep my mind sharp and have something else to talk about outside of poopy diapers and the newest stroller on the block.  I officially launched Julie’s Beet at the age of 36. I was finally my own boss.  The business is more than I could have imagined. I love working with the amazing artisans we have in our market place. I love telling you all about the wonderful products and working with them in my home kitchen.  I also the love the feeling of accomplishment every time an order comes in and is shipped out successfully. We’re a few weeks shy of our fourth anniversary and that makes me smile a lot!

As I look ahead to my forties, it is hard to predict what the future will bring. On a personal level, I hope my boys continue to make me proud in and out of school.  On a professional level, I hope that Julie’s Beet continues to grow and mold into an amazing business.  I want to continue spreading the stories of amazing artisans and delivering quality gifts to you and your loved ones. 

Happy Friday,

Julie

Small, Charming & Snowy

There is nothing like a week at home with three kids to get you craving a vacation.  We survived(and enjoyed) President’s Week with a bit of a stay-cation.  We went to a few museums and had dates with friends.  I put just the right amount of activity on the calendar to keep the kids busy enough that they wanted to go to sleep every night!  Last week I wrote about getting away to somewhere warm.  When I started to think about it, I realized some of my best vacations have been in places where it is cold and there is lots of snow on the ground. 

I didn’t learn how to ski until I was in my 20’s. Shortly after that I moved to Denver, Colorado to go to Johnson and Wales for Culinary School. I learned a lot at school but also learned that I love the mountains and specifically skiing!  I don’t actually have the genetic make up of a good skier… I get cold really easily and I also get altitude sickness.  Once I figured out a few tricks to get over those obstacles, I really started to LOVE skiing. I would take trips up to the mountains and ski for the morning before heading into work for the dinner shift.  It was a great! My first trip with my husband was to Vail, Colorado; making it very fitting that part of our honeymoon would be spent on the slopes in Jackson Hole, Wyoming. 

To this day, one of my all-time favorite vacations was to a little town in northern Italy called Selva Val Gardena.  My husband and I were living in London at that time and knew we wanted to go skiing in the Dolomites in Italy.  I found Hotel Laurin through some online reviews and our trip was set.  We would fly into Venice, Italy and then drive up to the mountains for a few days.  We would end our trip walking and boating through Venice. It all sounded very romantic and it was, once we finally arrived at the hotel.  We hit some snow on the way up, to Selva Val Gardena; which was awesome in the context of skiing but not awesome in the context of driving a tiny car up a mountain.  Long story short, we were installing chains on our tires in the dark on a Saturday night in some small town in Italy.  The good news is we finally made it up and over the mountain and arrived at the hotel safe and sound.

The rest of the trip was amazing.  The Hotel Laurin was just what it advertised, small and charming.  The owners were very hands on taking care of our needs from espresso in the morning to cocktails before dinner and a night cap before bed.  You could book the hotel with dinners included but being the foodies that we are we decided not to do that as we wanted to explore other options.  It turns out that was a mistake, the food at the Hotel Laurin was amazing and plentiful and the only other dining options in the town are other hotels. When your hotel has an amazing restaurant you don’t want to venture out too much.  The next year when we returned we took all of our dinners at the hotel.  The food was a mix of Italian, Swiss and German.  It wasn’t fancy but it was just what you needed after a day on the snow.  I still remember an evening where we had fondue… meat fondue.  They specially prepared a broth for us which we used to cook different meats. It was amazing.  The trip was so great we returned the following winter to the same hotel.  I hope someday to return to Hotel Laurin with all of our children in tow but it will be a few years before they are all able to ski.

Winter holidays in the snow are just as fun as those in the sun.  Food plays a big part in any vacation I take and the food on the mountains in Selva Val Gardena, and most mountains in Europe, surpasses the expectations set by the cafeteria style eateries you find on the mountains in the states.  I’ll probably fall asleep tonight dreaming of the mountains, skiing and fondue.  I’ll wake up to reality here in NYC and maybe with some snow on the ground.

Happy Friday,

Julie

Escape from the Cold

This time of the year I start to long for an escape from the winter in New York City; especially with the mixed bag of weather we have been having.  Should it really go from 20 degrees to 50 degrees in less than 24 hours and then right back down again? And how about that snow/sleet/rain we had this week?  That is enough to make anyone want to catch the next flight out of town (that is once the airports are back on schedule).  My first instinct is to head somewhere warm and sunny but I also think about going somewhere with lots of white snow (more on that next week). 

One of my favorite warm weather destinations this time of the year is Florida.  I know it doesn’t sound exotic but it is called the sunshine state for a reason.  Florida is actually very big from top to bottom so you really have your choice of environments when you visit.  Back in my grade school days, my dad loved taking us to a destination and then piling everyone in the car and exploring what it had to offer.  I remember taking a trip to Florida one spring break.  We must have started in Orlando because I remember spending a few days enjoying Mickey Mouse and all that the parks had to offer.  Then we piled in the car and headed south.  We stopped in the Everglades leaving me with memories of the great outdoors. I vividly remember staying in some sort of cabin with lots of Mosquitos outside and the urgency to close the screen door quickly so they would remain outside.  From there we continued south to the Florida Keys.  We all got outfitted with snorkeling gear and used it to look at fish and shipwrecks in the ocean as well as the bottom of the pool.  Swimming is one of those activities that can be entertaining forever, huh?  I still love to hang out in a pool for hours on end.  We finished our trip with a visit to Key West. It isn’t the same when you’re under 21 but still pretty cool. Frozen drinks are fun at any age even without the alcohol. Then we had a long drive back up to Orlando before heading back to the cold in Indiana.

Another one of my favorite memories of Florida is visiting my grandparents at their condo in Naples.  My sisters and I would fly down without our parents and spend a long weekend just with our grandparents. Talk about getting spoiled. Beyond all of the excitement in their retirement community of golf, swimming pools and tennis we would venture to the beach and of course go on shopping trip.  I remember eating at a place called The Dock and Michelbob’s was the place for ribs either before or after mini golf.  The best part about Naples is that my dad now has a condo there.  I hope my children will get to create the same memories with their grandparents that I was able to.

So whether you are off to a sunny destination this holiday weekend or already live in one(Lucky You), soak up some sunshine for me. I’ll be here in NYC enjoying whatever mother nature throws our way.

Happy Friday,

Julie

For the Love of Cooking

I love cooking and my favorite part of cooking is watching someone enjoy what I made for them.  I think that is why I had such a difficult time working in restaurant kitchens.  I was cooking plenty of food for the guests to enjoy but unfortunately wasn’t getting to see the smiles on their faces when they enjoyed it.  Granted I never worked in an open kitchen but I think that would have come with it’s own set of challenges.  One of my favorite jobs was working at Rococo Chocolates and running their chocolate school. I got to interact with people, teaching them how to make chocolate and other recipes with chocolate in them. I also got to see them enjoy the chocolates! 

My husband’s birthday was last week and we have Valentine’s Day coming up next week.  I typically cook him a special meal for his birthday and then again on Valentine’s Day.  It can be tough to figure out two amazing meals to cook just weeks apart as I try to make them completely different but still filled with the foods he loves.  One of his favorites is when I make pasta from scratch, I’m talking the actual noodles here.  Tonight we’ll be celebrating his birthday with a belated birthday dinner and I’ve decided to make some pasta.  I use the recipe from Thomas Keller’s French Laundry Cookbook.  It comes highly recommended from two chef friends of mine and always turns out perfect.

I found some recipe inspiration from Instagram on the feed @howsweeteats  I’ll be making the Cozy Lemon Pasta.  You can find the recipe here, And I’ll put the pasta recipe for you down below.  I cannot wait to see the joy on my husband’s face when he digs into this delicious meal.  A dream come true!

Happy Friday,

Julie

Pasta Dough

From Thomas Keller’s The French Laundry Cookbook

Ingredients:

1 ¾ cups all purpose flour

6 large egg yolks

1 large egg

1 ½ teaspoons olive oil

1 tablespoon milk

Method:

-Mound the flour on a board or other surface and create a well in the center, pushing the flour to all sides to make a ring with the sides about 1 inch wide.  Make sure that the well is wide enough to hold all  the eggs without spilling.

-Pour the egg yolks, egg, oil and milk into the well.  Use your fingers to break the eggs up.  Still using your fingers, begin turning the eggs in a circular motion, keeping them within the well and not allowing them to spill over the sides.  This circular motion allows the eggs to gradually pull in flour from the sides of the well.  It is important that the flour not be incorporated too rapidly or your dough will be lumpy.  Keep moving the eggs while slowly incorporating the flour.  Using a pastry scraper, occasionally push the flour toward the eggs; the flour should be moved only enough to maintain the gradual incorporation of the flour, and the eggs should continue to be contained within the well.  The mixture will thicken and eventually get too tight to keep turning with your fingers.

-When the dough begins thickening and starts lifting itself from the board, begin incorporating the remaining flour with the pastry scraper by lifting the flour up and over the dough that’s beginning to form and cutting it into the dough.  When the remaining flour from the sides of the well has been cut into the dough, the dough will still look shaggy.  Bring the dough together with the palms of your hands and form it into a ball.  It will look flaky but will hold together.

-Knead the dough by pressing it, bit by bit, in a forward motion with the heels of your hands rather than folding it over on itself s you would with the bread dough.  Re-form the dough into a ball and repeat the process several times.  The dough should feel moist but not sticky. Let the dough rest for a few minutes while you clean the work surface.

-Dust the clean work surface with a little flour. Knead the dough by pushing against it in a forward motion with the heels of your hands.  Form the dough into a ball again and knead it again.  Keep kneading in this forward motion until the dough becomes silky smooth.  The dough is ready when you can pull your finger through it and the dough wants to snap back into place.  The kneading process can take anywhere from 10 to 15 minutes.  Even if you think you are finished kneading, knead it for an extra 10 minutes; you cannot over knead this dough.  It is important to work the dough enough to pass the pull test; otherwise, when it rests, it will collapse.

-Double-wrap the dough in plastic wrap to ensure it does not dry out.  Let the dough rest for at least 30 minutes and up to one hour before rolling it through the pasta machine.  The dough can be made a day ahead, wrapped and refrigerated; bring to room temperature before proceeding.

The Perfect Chocolate Pairings for You and Your Valentine

Valentine’s Day is fast approaching, and what better way to show your person that you love him or her than gifting chocolate; food of the Gods, a tried and true symbol of romance. Luckily, we and Rococo Chocolates have got you covered, because nothing quite says ‘I love you’ like artisan chocolate paired perfectly with wine, spirits, and food. This year, in addition to a lovely home cooked dinner, a meal at a nice restaurant, a dozen roses, a bottle of wine, or a combination of the previous, make sure to add a bar or two of high quality artisan chocolate to elevate the occasion to the next level and show your special person the true depth of your love. We’ll supply the chocolate, you supply the love.

Rococo Chocolates was founded in 1983 by Chantal Coady who strived to change the way fine chocolate was perceived, and is now known as a luxury British chocolate company. Crafted using only the finest ingredients, Rococo Chocolates Artisan Bars boast an exquisite taste, indulging consumers in a rich tapestry of flavors and balance. Not only is each bar meticulously crafted to ensure pristine quality and flavor, the wrapping  for each bar is also artfully designed to highlight the bars majesty. Luckily for you and your Valentine, our showroom selves are overflowing with Rococo Chocolates Artisan Bars, and using the pairings guide below, you’ll have the tools necessary to create a magical experience this Valentine’s Day.

When pairing chocolate, it’s important to play in harmony, pairing the flavor notes of the bar with complimentary flavor notes of the wine, spirit, or food with which you are pairing; flavors that enhance one another rather than overpower. Going beyond simply taste and rather turning to molecular structure, the best pairings happen when the dominant aromatic molecules of the chocolate are the same dominant aromatic molecules of the paired wine, spirit, or food. For example, when pairing chocolate with herbal teas, one should pair fruity teas with fruity bars, spiced teas with spiced bars, minty teas with mint flavored bars, so on and so forth. Along similar lines, if pairing with beer or wine, it’s lovely to pair sweet with sweet and tart with tart, as long as the beverage is sweeter than the chocolate. When pairing with wine, opt for similar style and weight, matching more elegant, lighter flavored chocolate with lighter-bodied wine, and stronger, more pronounced chocolate with a full-bodied wine, pairings that can be further honed based on the flavor notes of each.

Below, we’ve complied a list of complimentary pairings with Rococo Chocolates Artisan Bars. We hope this list proves helpful in creating a magical experience for you and your Valentine.

Shop the collection today to receive your Rococo Chocolate in time for Valentine’s Day.

Rococo Chocolates

Cheers to chocolate!

Happy Friday,

Payton

White Chocolate  Cardamom: Tokaji Dessert Wine

White Chocolate Cardamom Crackle: Terra Botanical Gin

Milk Chocolate Sea Salt: Caña Brava Reserva Añeja or similar aged rum

Milk Chocolate  Honeycomb Crunch : Aged Tawny Port

Milk Chocolate Christmas Pudding: IPA or Stout

Dark Chocolate  Sea Salt: Smokey Whiskey

Dark Chocolate  Chili Pepper: Crisp, Sweet Reisling

Dark Chocolate  Basil & Persian Lime: Pinot Noir

Dark Chocolate Gold Frankincense and Myrrh: Blue Moon Beer

Dark Chocolate  Earl Grey: Black Tea like Earl Grey

Dark Chocolate  Violet: Chamomile Tea

Dark Chocolate  Mint: Bobby Burns Whiskey Cocktail

Milk Chocolate  Rose : Pinot Grigio

Milk Chocolate Almond, Rosemary and Sea Salt: Kentucky Bourbon Whiskey

Dark Chocolate  Rose: White Tea

Milk Chocolate  Gingerbread: Egg nog, of course

Milk Chocolate Orange Blossom Neroli: Light and smokey Mezcal like Los Amantes Mezcal Joven

Winter Wellness

The dead of the winter has finally hit NYC, encasing the city in sub-zero temperatures. Thankfully, January is nearly over and this is the first of extremely low temperatures that we’ve experienced this winter, so I can’t complain… after all it is January in New York City. This weather however, and I assume as we continue on through winter, makes it seemingly harder and harder to maintain healthy eating and exercise habits. The gym, which a few weeks ago was filled to the brim with people, is becoming increasingly less crowded as we delve deeper into the winter months. It’s important, however, to maintain a healthy eating and exercise regimen this time of year. So, what are you doing to stay active, healthy, and happy this winter?

Greens. First and foremost, do not forego eating greens. Even though we tend to crave heartier, carbohydrate-dense food in the winter, it is very important to get your daily dose of greens as well, which are rich in vitamins A, C, E, and K, are loaded with antioxidants, and boast high levels of fiber, magnesium, potassium, and calcium. These phytochemicals are essential for keeping our bodies nourished, as well as regulated during the winter months. Thankfully, we now carry Farmhouse Lab dressings, which makes consuming your greens even easier and so very delicious! If you’re not in the salad mood, try adding raw greens like spinach and kale to a smoothie, or sauté heartier greens with lemon juice, garlic, chili pepper, and olive oil to accompany roasted chicken or fish. It may sound silly, but getting your daily dose of greens is really so important to keeping you not only healthy, but happy this winter.

Balance. Not only are greens important, but it’s also important to make sure that the food you’re consuming is balanced. Each time you sit down for a meal, your plate should contain protein, fat, complex carbohydrates, as well as greens. Creating a balanced plate will help keep you fuller longer, will create satiety, and will also help you from over-eating, which is so easy to do in the winter time, as heavier foods feel warming and comforting. Balance should also include finding time for meaningful play, and balancing that play with your hectic work life. The winter blues are no joke, and one way to combat them and stay mentally healthy, besides consuming the proper nutrition, is making time for play. Whether it’s meeting friends for drinks, going to the movies or a play, or perhaps going bowling, it is so important to make time for laughter and enjoyment. Your body will thank you!

Stay active. Finding time for exercise is necessary to stay healthy this winter. Whether it be going to the gym, lifting weights, taking a yoga or spin class, or going for a run outside if the weather permits, making time for exercise will aid in staying healthy and happy this winter. It doesn’t have to be everyday of the week, but one should shoot for at least two or three active days per week. It’s tricky at times, especially when it’s blistering cold outside, but speaking for myself, I always feel so much brighter and happier after completing a workout. The endorphins that are released during exercise trigger positive feelings in the body, in addition to other brain-boosting chemicals, which all aid in improving cognitive function and mood elevation. I also find that keeping an exercise regime helps me make healthier food choices, as I feel more in-tuned with my body and what it needs for nourishment and sustenance.

All-in-all, the coldest part of winter has just seemed to set in, and being that it’s nearly February, hopefully we don’t have too many more months of winter left. But in the meantime, it’s important to find happiness, peace, and enjoyment amongst the cold and barren landscape. I hope that the tips above help you, as they have helped me, find health and happiness this winter.

Happy Friday, all!

Payton

Calling all Football(Food) Fans!

We’re just two weeks shy of Super Bowl Sunday and I’m already thinking about game day.  I’m not particular if the Patriots, Saints, Chiefs or Rams make it to the big game, but I am particular about what is on the menu!  There are lots of statistics about how much guacamole is served up on Super Bowl Sunday and I’m sure there are quite a few chicken wings and hot dogs gobbled up during the game as well.  Here is a super easy menu for your Super Bowl Gathering. As you know when I entertain, my goal is always to make one or two  really good homemade dishes and fill in the rest with some quality purchased items.  The cake in the picture is from Super Bowl XLVIII when the Seattle Seahawks played the Denver Broncos. The game was on Ground Hog’s Day which is also my husband’s birthday, so we celebrated all 3 events with one cake! If you’re not hosting just put together one of these dishes to take to your friend’s place or bring some of this amazing Champagne bottle sized Miller High Life!

SUPER BOWL SUNDAY MENU

French Onion Dip with Potato Chips – Mix a packet of Onion Soup Mix with and 8 oz Tub of Sour Cream and serve with your favorite chips

Baby Carrots, Sliced Cucumber & Grape Tomatoes with Hummus

Popcorn – I use Tiny But Mighty Butter Flavor Microwave Popcorn and it is ready in 2 minutes

Pigs in a Blanket – Buy the pre-made frozen ones, simply reheat and serve with fancy mustard

Chicken Wings with La Boite Ayala Spiced Aioli – Recipe HERE

Cupcakes with Frosting coordinating to the teams playing

Chocolate Chip Cookies – Find the recipe HERE

Miller High Life

Wine – Selected by my husband

Whether you watch The Super Bowl for the football, the commercials or to see Maroon 5 at Half Time this menu will come together quickly and keep your crew smiling.

Happy Friday,

Julie