Entertaining Made Easier

Entertaining can fun but also overwhelming, especially when you have kids.  For example, this weekend I’m hosting a brunch for my family which happens to be 20 people. Over the years I’ve discovered a few tricks that allow me to actually enjoy the celebration instead of feeling like I am slaving away in the kitchen or as the clean up crew.

Divide and conquer: This means get some help. At my house, I typically take care of the food while my husband takes care of the beverages. That means everything from selecting the wine to stocking the bar with ice, cups and garnishes, and ensuring the champagne saber is handy(usually just for New Year’s Eve).

For brunch on Sunday, my husband is in charge of picking up at the coffee at Dunkin Donuts and also responsible for picking up the bagels and smoked fish the day before. It isn’t a big drinking crowd so he should be able to handle both!

DO NOT try to make everything from scratch: I’ve learned that having 1 or 2 homemade items mixed in with some open and serve items creates the impression that you’ve done a lot of work and your guests will be really impressed.

For the brunch, I’m making my favorite Sour Cream Coffee Cake and an egg casserole.  We’re serving those along side bagels & lox with all of the fixings and a fruit tray.  My two amazing dishes show I put some effort into the meal but I wasn’t cooking for days to have it ready.

Preparation is key! I learned this when I was working in restaurants. You never know what you are going to walk into at the beginning of your shift so the more you can prepare ahead of time the better.  I also select menu items that require little hands on attention. For our New Years Eve Party we serve a large selection of cheese and I always make a brie en croute.  The brie looks really impressive and all I have to do is pop it in the oven and serve.

This weekend the casserole is the only item that needs to bake the day of. Everything else will be ready and waiting the night before.

Paper and Plastic are okay. This one really came into effect when my second son was born and since my third son was born it is the rule, not the exception. I just don’t have time anymore to wash all of those dishes.  Of course if I am serving a fancy sit down dinner for 6 or 8, I’ll pull out the fine china and silver but when it is a party with kids present, disposable is the way to go!

Luckily, I live down the block from Party City. We’ve already purchased our Thomas the Tank Engine Plates, disposable tablecloths and everything else we’ll need for the party.

I hope you’ll put my tips to good use next time you are entertaining. Please let me know if you have tips you’d like to add.

Happy Friday,


Giving Back

At Julie’s Beet we love supporting small artisans by introducing you to their amazing work. We also love giving back to our community and helping others. Did you know a portion of the proceeds from every jar of Due Cellucci Tomato Sauce goes to the Leukemia and Lymphoma Society. Read Stephanie’s touching story for why she got into the sauce business HERE.

We donate our time and occasionally our products to help causes from education to Suicide Prevention.  There are some great people out there doing great things and we are just happy to be contributing to their success. Here are some upcoming events we’re supporting.

A League of Our Own DREAM Chocolate and Wine Event – This event celebrates the power and potential of girls and women.  It is a night filled with chocolate and wine and also the opportunity to give back.  You can find out more about DREAM here.

Center for Women & Enterprise Auction & Gala Celebration – This organization is dedicated to helping young men and women increase their professional success and gain financial independence.  Find out more about their mission here.

The Samaritans – The Samaritans of New York operates the only community-based organization in the NYC-Metropolitan area solely devoted to preventing suicide and helping people in crisis. Join them and support their efforts at their Midtown Mardi Gras Event on Wednesday April 11th.  Read more about their important work here.

As you can see there is a lot of work being done behind the scenes so to speak.  It always feels good to give to others, especially when we are supporting the amazing work of groups such as these.

Happy Friday,


Happy 2nd Birthday!

Today is a very special day at my house, it is my son’s 2nd birthday. I was feeling very nostalgic this week and took a trip back to when he was a baby. Looking at pictures of him just a year ago, it is amazing to see how far he has come.  On his first birthday he wasn’t even walking… now’s he is running, climbing, and jumping! He’s starting to use lots of words and showing us just how smart he really is.

The growing pains of starting a business are very similar to those young children experience.  While Julie’s Beet isn’t learning to walk or talk, I am still discovering a lot about the business world.  Like a one-year-old, I am learning about likes and dislikes.  Instead of learning what I like and dislike, I am learning about what you all (my customers) like and dislike.  I am working to build a marketplace to support other new businesses but need to stock it full of products you like to make it successful. I am working to streamline the offering to make your shopping experience even better.  I do feel like we are gaining our balance and running legs as we continue to master our customer service and marketing plans.  We also continue to learn how to engage our following through recipes, promotions, and contests.

While it is great to see that changes that have happened with my son over the past year it is also amazing to see that he still has the same cheerful disposition and outgoing personality.  He is going to be the life of the party wherever he goes and I’m glad he brings that excitement to his everyday life. Julie’s Beet continues to be a marketplace supporting smaller artisans and following our goal of expanding the audience of these specialty products.  I’m not sure what he is going to wish for when he blows out the candles on his Elmo cake tonight, but if I could wish for him, it would be that he continues to enjoy a happy and healthy life.

Happy Friday,



Salty Caramels – Yes Please!

No one knows salt better then the folks at Jacobsen Salt Co.  They have been mining salt in Netarts Bay, Oregon since 2011.  Their salts are used by famous chefs like Thomas Keller and also in my home kitchen!  In addition to carrying their flake salt for finishing and Kosher salt for cooking, we recently added their Salty Caramels to our marketplace.

These Salty Caramels are just what you would expect from a salt company.  The caramel itself is rich and creamy, with just the right amount of sticky so it doesn’t get caught in your teeth but you get to chew on it for a while.  The bright briny flavor of the flake salt is the PERFECT compliment to the sweetness and richness of the caramel.  Of course these are perfect eaten straight from the box but we’ve also added one to cup of hot chocolate(YUM!). I am sure they would be pretty amazing paired with a soft pretzel or baked into your favorite oatmeal cookie.

We’re having a contest this week to give away a gift set curated by our friend Jamie, at Adventures of A.P.E.). The gift set contains these caramels along with a collection of other amazing sweets from our marketplace.  Head to our Julies-Beet-Instagram-page for full details and be sure to enter before Sunday 2/18 at midnight.

Happy Friday,



Gus & Grey has been a featured artisan in our marketplace since Julie’s Beet launched in 2015.  We’ve just acquired a new jam from their collection, appropriately titled Spellbound.  Made with fresh blueberries and just the right amount of lavender you will think you’re under a magic spell from the time you open the jar.

I used this amazing jam to make this Sour Cream Coffee Cake taste even better. I hope you’ll enjoy this recipe as much as I do. It is great with a cup of coffee or tea in the morning but fancy enough to double as a birthday cake.

Happy Friday,



2 cups all-purpose flour

1 tablespoon baking powder

1/4 teaspoon salt

2 cups granulated sugar

2 sticks (1 cup) unsalted butter, softened

2 eggs, beaten lightly

1 cup sour cream

1 tablespoon vanilla extract

1 jar Gus & Grey Spellbound -Blueberry Lavender Jam, stirred well


-Pre-heat oven to 350 degrees F.

-Butter a 10-inch bundt pan and lightly dust the inside with flour.

-Sift together and set aside the flour, baking powder and salt.

-In a mixer, or by hand, cream sugar and butter until light and fluffy.

Add eggs, blending well, and then add sour cream and vanilla. Mix until combined.

-Gradually fold in flour, baking powder, and salt into creamed mixture until just blended.

-Reserve 1/2 cup of batter and mix with 3/4 of the jar of blueberry jam.

-Pour 3/4 remaining batter into the prepared pan, smoothing to the edges and creating a slight “trough” with a spatula.

-Gently spoon the blueberry mix into the batter trough, being careful not to touch the side of the pan. Spread the remaining batter over the jam and smooth the top.

-Set pan on middle rack in the oven and bake for about 60 minutes, or until the sides of the cake pull away from the pan and a cake tester (or toothpick) inserted in the center comes out clean.

-Cool on a wire rack for at least 30 minutes. Turn onto a plate, sprinkle with confectioner’s sugar, drizzle with remaining jam and enjoy!


What’s New Upper West Side?!?!

February 02 2018

As we come to the end of January, I find it hard to believe that we’ve moved so fast into 2018.  The good news is there are lots of good events coming and more new things to get excited about.

Yesterday, I received two very exciting emails.  One was from my husband letting me know that Van Leeuwen Ice Cream Shop is going to be opening two blocks from Julie’s Beet. Hopefully the shop opens quickly, and I’ll be able to stop in all summer to get my fill of hand crafted ice cream.  The second email came from my brother-in-law, letting me know that Make My Cake, a popular Harlem Bakery, is making the move to the Upper West Side a mere six blocks from my apartment.  I’ll be able to get my fill of cupcakes and cookies not too far from home.  It is a good thing that I like to exercise, so I can eat what I want!

The good news from these emails is that even with a lot of businesses closing there are still many artisan businesses that are thriving. As a small business owner, I make a point to support other small businesses whether is be the local ice cream shop or a friend who sells stationary.  I know it might cost slightly more but the impact is far greater on the small business than it is on the big business.  I’ve made a goal this year to collaborate with more small businesses to provide you all with some unique experiences.  We’ll be launching our first one just ahead of Valentine’s Day so stay tuned.

Happy Friday,


Bee Local Hot Honey

This Hot Honey from Bee Local is the perfect addition to your table.  Find some of our favorite uses for this sweet and spicy honey below. Happy cooking!

Hot Toddy

Serves 1


2 oz whiskey

1 tbsp Bee Local Hot Honey

½ lemon, juiced, plus 1 lemon wheel for garnish

6 oz boiling water, let to sit off heat for 5 minutes before adding

1 cinnamon stick


– bring water to a boil

– add whiskey, Bee Local Hot Honey and lemon juice to an 8oz mug

– add hot water and stir

– garnish with lemon wheel and cinnamon stick


Baked Chicken Fingers with Hot Honey Mustard Dipping Sauce

Serves 4


6 boneless, skinless chicken breasts, cut into 2-inch strips

1 c buttermilk

1 tsp garlic powder

1 tsp onion powder

1 tsp hot sauce

1 egg

1 c unbleached, all-purpose flour

1 c seasoned bread crumbs

1 tsp salt

½ tsp cayenne pepper

Freshly ground black pepper to taste


whisk together buttermilk, garlic powder, onion powder, and hot sauce in a medium sized mixing bowl

– place chicken breast strips into a large zip-top bag, pour buttermilk mixture over top, seal the bag and allow to marinate for up to 4 hours — remove from refrigerator 1 hour before use

-preheat oven to 400 degrees set on convection bake

– meanwhile, set up the breading station: combine bread crumbs, salt, cayenne pepper, and black pepper together and place in a shallow dish

– place flour in a shallow dish

– whisk egg with 1 tbsp water in a shallow dish

– lightly oil a baking sheet

– to bread, take 1 chicken strip from buttermilk mixture, coat in flour shaking off the excess, then dip in egg wash, and then finally coat in breadcrumb mixture and place on baking sheet — repeat this step until all of the chicken is breaded

– bake 15 to 20 minutes, or until golden brown and the juices from the chicken run clear.


Hot Honey Mustard Dipping Sauce


¼ c Bee Local Hot Honey

¼ c mayonnaise

¼ c dijon mustard

1 tbsp apple cider vinegar


– add Bee Local Hot Honey, mayonnaise, dijon mustard, and apple cider vinegar into a bowl, whisk together.


Arugula Pizza with Bee Local Hot Honey Drizzle

Serves 4


1 pound pizza dough, homemade or store bought, at room temperature

Unbleached all-purpose flour, for dusting

Semolina flour, for dusting

¼ c extra virgin olive oil

3 cloves roasted garlic, smashed with fork into a paste

Sea salt and black pepper to taste

½ c ricotta cheese

1 c shredded mozzarella cheese

4 c baby arugula

1 shallot, thinly sliced

½ lemon, juiced

3 oz thinly sliced prosciutto


– place pizza stone, cast iron skillet, or upside-down baking sheet in oven and preheat to 450 set on convection bake

– on a floured sheet of parchment paper, press out the dough, working from the outer perimeter inward, until a 12-in circle is achieved

– transfer dough to a semonia dusted upside-down baking sheet or a semonia dusted pizza peel (if using a large 12 inch cast iron skillet, remove skillet from oven, oil generously, dust with semolina, and then carefully drape in pizza dough into hot skillet)

– brush with 2 tbsp extra virgin olive oil, roasted garlic, and then add salt and pepper to taste

– transfer dough onto the hot pizza stone or upside-down baking sheet (if using cast iron skillet, just return to the oven with the pizza dough)

– par-bake crust for 5 minutes

– top crust with ricotta cheese and shredded mozzarella cheese and bake until cheese is golden and bubbled — about 8 minutes

– meanwhile, toss arugula with remaining 2 tbsp extra virgin olive oil and lemon juice

– remove pizza from oven, top with arugula salad, shallots, shaved parmesan, prosciutto, and of course, a generous drizzle of Bee Local Hot Honey

Spicy Black Bean Stew

I’m sure there is no need to point out the obvious, but it is cold outside. Blisteringly cold. Oh, the joys of a New York winter. I, as I’m sure many of you are, am feeling pretty heavy and lethargic after the Holidays — and the cold weather outside isn’t helping matters. But if you are trying to start your New Year on a lighter note, this Spicy Vegan Black Bean Stew is my warming midwinter comfort food go to — try saying that three times in a row 🙂 Simple. Warm. Light, yet filling. Delicious! Serve over cilantro brown rice, or with a chunk of crusty sourdough bread. Enjoy! And stay warm.

Spicy Black Bean Stew
Serves 6

1.5 cups dried black beans, rinsed, soaked overnight or 2 (15 oz) cans black beans
1 tsp salt
1 tbs + ¼ tsp cumin, divided
1 bay leaf
1 tbs olive oil
1 medium red onion, finely diced
3 medium carrots, washed, peeled, cut into thin slices
3 stalks celery, washed, cut into thin slices
3 cloves garlic, minced
1 tsp chili powder
½ tsp cayenne pepper
1 28oz can crushed tomatoes
1 cup filtered water
salt and pepper to taste
1 bundle fresh cilantro (chop only what is needed right before serving)
avocado slices (for garnish, optional, although pairs nicely with spiciness of stew)

1) Rinse soaked beans, combine with enough water to cover by 3 inches, then add salt, ¼ tsp of the cumin, and bay leaf in 1-gallon pot, bring to a boil, simmer for 35 minutes (beans should still have a slight bite at this point, as they will continue cooking in the stew). Drain beans, set aside
2) Heat olive oil in a 1-gallon pot, once shimmering, add onions, carrots, and celery and sweat until onions are translucent (approx. 5 minutes). Add garlic, remaining 1tbs cumin, chili powder, cayenne and continue to cook (approx. 3 minutes)
3) Add tomatoes, water, and beans to the pot, bring to a boil, and reduce to simmer. Simmer for 45 minutes, or until vegetables are tender
4) Season with salt and pepper to taste
5) Garnish with chopped cilantro and sliced avocado

Eating Goals in 2018

Happy 2018!

As we move into the second week of the year, I am still thinking about my goals for the upcoming 12 months.  One of them is to be more ‘in the know’ about what is going on around me. This includes everything from what the President is writing about on Twitter to where I should eat in New York City and Beyond.  Every night I do ask my husband ‘Did anything exciting happen in the world today?’ He always has something to tell me although it might not be totally relevant.  Unfortunately, he can only keep up with so much so I had to turn to the internet to find out where I should eat.

Here is my list so far for 2018, let me know if you there are any other places you think I should add.

Satsuki: An old-style omakase is served at this sushi bar as part of the larger Suzuki Restaurant and Three Pillars bar next door. I had the opportunity to start the year off right with a delicious meal prepared by Chef Toshio Suzuki.

Nur: My friends have been raving about this amazing place in the Flatiron District.  Tagged as Modern Middle Eastern Cuisine, the menu ranges from Honey Garlic Challah to Andalusian Tuna and there is even a dessert called Hills of Jerusalem, complete with Jerusalem Artichokes.  This place is small so I’m going to make sure I reserve well in advance.

Union Square Café: This was one of the first restaurants I went when I first moved to New York City.  The restaurant has moved  but I understand they are still serving the same high quality simple food. I’m looking forward to a comforting meal on a chilly winter night. We’ve had plenty of those to start the year!

The Aviary: I was head over heals in love with my first meal at Alinea in Chicago and couldn’t be more excited to be able to find a taste of that in New York City.  The Aviary is an interactive guest experience where small plates and cocktails come together.

Empire Diner: Diner food is comfort food but is made even better when chefs use creative ingredients to recreate them in an ‘upscale’ environment. Perhaps this is the one restaurant on this list where I’ll take my kids. Although they might not appreciate the better version of their chicken fingers and French fries.

Happy Dining and Happy Friday,