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!

Summer Escape

Summer has a whole new meaning when you are a kid compared with when you are a ‘grown-up’. As a child, summer is a break from the norm of the school year, a chance to play more and work less.  As an adult or grown-up summer is pretty much the same… while the attire at the office may be more casual, and if you are lucky, you get to leave early on Fridays, there is still work to be done at the office and around the house.  This summer at my house was no different than past summers… my two older boys had too much fun at camp, my husband went off to work sweating in his suits on the subway platforms and Julie’s Beet continued to grow and evolve.  My husband works in an industry with a mandated 2-week vacation.  Clearly this isn’t any food related industry😊His vacation from work has always provided us with the opportunity to take some time away from the city and really enjoy summer as a family.

This week I have been in Ulster County New York with my family. We recently grew from a family of 5 to a family of 6 so didn’t want to venture too far from home. We are far enough from Manhattan that it really does feel like an escape from the city.  We debated going away at all this summer but I really felt like it would be good for all of us to take a real break from our everyday lives before the kids head back to school and business is back to normal.  We rented a house with a pool and a big yard so we really don’t have to go too far to find entertainment.  What I have found is that there are a lot of really cool things about New York State that I have never experienced until this vacation.

I see a lot of farm names in the supermarket and when I am placing my Fresh Direct order.  Driving down the road the other day I spotted 2 different farms that I recognized.  We really are immersed in the farms of New York and it is great to put a face with a name, so to speak.  On that note there is plenty of fresh produce to find along the side of the road and at local farm stands.  We picked out some local tomatoes and raspberries at the local farmers market which were superb. I am not sure what it is  but everything tastes better when you know where it came from.  There are also a lot of local vineyards, breweries and distilleries. So along with locally grown food products, there is also a lot to drink!

Tomorrow morning, we’ll load up the car and head back to the city.  I hope we’ll return feeling a bit refreshed from the week away. I can assure you we have taken in more sunshine and fresh air than we do on a normal week in NYC.  We’ve gotten used to being a bigger family and working together to make that successful for all of us.  I hope you’re off enjoying the last un-official weekend of summer. I’m not sure about you but I am definitely counting down the days until school starts, just 4 more days until my oldest starts kindergarten!

Happy Friday!

Julie 

 

Savory Waffles with Cheese , Yes Please!

Waffles are one of those foods that everyone loves.  They are so versatile, you are sure to find a way that you love them whether that be topped with blueberries or ice cream and chocolate sauce or smoked salmon, crème fraiche and chives.  In honor of National Waffle Day tomorrow I’d like to share this amazing recipe for Zucchini Parmesan Waffles.  These waffles are the perfect way to sneak vegetables into your child’s diet but are also really delicious topped with a fried egg and served for breakfast for a grown-up. You could even use them like a pizza crust and top with Due Cellucci Tomato Sauce and mozzarella cheese and place under the broiler for a few minutes.

Happy Friday,

Julie

Zucchini Parmesan Waffles

Makes 4-6 waffles(depending on the size of your waffle iron)

Ingredients

2 cups shredded zucchini

1 egg

¼ cup whole milk

½ cup grated Parmesan Cheese, plus more for garnish

½ cup All-Purpose Flour

Non stick cooking spray

Salt & Pepper to taste

Method

-Place zucchini in a colander and spring with ¼ teaspoon salt.  Let site for 20 – 30 minutes and then rinse well with cold water.  Press out as much of the water as possible and blot dry on paper towels.

-Preheat the waffle iron to medium setting and have your oven on at its lowest setting.

-In a large bowl, mix together the egg, milk and 1/2 cup of the Parmesan Cheese.  Gradually add the flour to the wet ingredients and season with salt and pepper. Then add the zucchini and toss until well-combined.

-Spray the waffle iron with non-stick cooking spray.  Place rounded tablespoons of the batter onto the waffle iron, leaving room for the batter to spread when the machine is closed.  Close the waffle iron and cook for 3-5 minutes or until golden brown.  Place the waffles in the oven to stay warm while you continue to cook the remaining batter.

-Sprinkle with more Parmesan Cheese before serving.

Eating for Energy

Feeding a family of 5 takes real work. I have to be organized enough to have food in the house that everyone likes and plan meals according to those likes and dislikes.  When will all the kids just eat what we are eating?!?! Sunday night is family night at our dinner table and I try my hardest to cook something that will please everyone. Some nights are more successful than others.

Feeding a family of 6 is something I have just begun to contemplate… at the moment I am really working out how to eat properly to be able to have enough nutrients for myself and the baby.

 Here are some tricks I remember from the last time I was taking care of a newborn.

Have Food Ready to Eat: While cutting a few pieces of cheese to go with some sliced apple sounds simple enough to put together for your afternoon snack; it is tricky to do that with a baby in your arms.  Cut up the cheese ahead of time and that snack is much easier to grab.    

Snacks are just as Important as Meals: Being able to grab a handful of almonds is  great way to get some energy through that afternoon slump without having too much sugar. Even better, mix those almonds with some chocolate chips and raisins for a trail mix of sorts. I also buy the snack size bags of my kids’ favorites and keep them in a big tub in the pantry.  They can help themselves and I know they aren’t eating too much with the smaller packages. Getting too hungry is a recipe for disaster for you and the kids.   

Water: Staying hydrated is super important but even more so when your body is creating milk for someone else. If you don’t love the taste add a little something to the water like sliced watermelon, fresh lemon, herbs or cucumber.  It will make the water a little more exciting and keep you going.

Protein:  This a big piece of staying focused and energized when taking care of a little one and a larger family.  I have hard boiled eggs ready to go in the refrigerator along with other high protein items like hummus and sliced deli meat.  A handle full of protein will go a long way.

I hope these tips will keep you going whether you’re taking care of a family of 6 or just yourself.  Let me know if you have any other tips to keep me going through the transition!

Happy Friday,

Julie

 

Tomato Time is Here!

It is tomato season and I am loving it! This time of the year I could eat tomatoes for breakfast, lunch and dinner.  Their flavor is sweet and delicious. There is nothing more juicy and refreshing than a fresh tomato in July or August. I guess that is why prime tomato season is in the summer. While I am very content to simply sprinkle the tomato with some Jacobsen Salt Co Flake Salt, tomatoes are also delicious in recipes. Try this one for a Summertime Frittata with Tomatoes and Goat Cheese. Feel free to add other vegetables you have in your refrigerator but the tomatoes are definitely the stars here.  You could even serve it with a tomato salad on the side!

Happy Friday,

Julie

Summertime Frittata

Makes 2-4 servings

Ingredients:

8 large eggs, cracked and beaten

8 oz baby spinach

½ pint cherry tomatoes, halved

2 oz herbed goat cheese, crumbled

Salt and Pepper to taste

Method:

-Preheat oven to 375°F.

-Heat a medium non-stick pan over high heat.  Add a splash of olive oil to the pan and sauté the spinach. Drain off the excess water.

-Reduce heat to medium and add the eggs. Let the eggs cook slowly, running a rubber spatula around the edge of the pan to prevent the egg from sticking. Cook for 4-5 minutes.  Top with crumbled goat cheese and tomatoes and place in preheated oven.

-Bake for 5-7 minutes, until the egg is cooking through.  Remove from pan and slice into pie shaped pieces to serve.

 

Grab a cone and some Ice Cream

Ice Cream Selection

We do a lot of celebrating at my house… between birthdays, milestone days at school and the occasional ‘food’ holiday we’re always making a party out of it.  We recently celebrated National Ice Cream Day with an ice cream treat and for half-birthday celebrations in our family we also get ice cream. Since it is summer and lots of you are probably having ice cream as treat, here is a list of some of our favorite places to cool off with a creamy treat. Some are more appropriate for the kids while others are clearly skewed towards the grown-ups in our family.  With the sunshine out this weekend and the weather back in the 80’s we’ll likely find ourselves out for another sweet treat very soon.

Milk Bar: We frequent Milk Bar for their coffee, cookies and their ice cream.  The Cereal Milk Soft Serve is always available, and they have a rotating second flavor.  Currently in NYC  it is Compost Cookie which has all of the flavors of their cookie with the same name… coffee, pretzels, potato chips, oats & butterscotch.  Locations in NYC, LA and in between.

Van Leeuwen:  This Brooklyn ice cream shop expanded to my neighborhood a little over a year ago and has been a hit ever since.  They specialize in vegan flavors so if that is something that entices you, this is the place to go.  Van Leeuwen has some very creative flavors like Brown Sugar Snickerdoodle and Vegan Toasted Coconut Blondie and they also have classics like mint chocolate chip and plain old vanilla. They have locations and trucks all over NYC and LA.

Mister Softee Ice Cream Truck: The local ice cream truck is great for a quick fix if you like chocolate and/or vanilla ice. They’ll even top it with sprinkles if you ask.  Trucks are typically in and around New York City.

Screme Gelato: We ended up at this local kosher neighborhood gelato place for National Ice Cream Day.  They make their own gelato using the best ingredients around.  Their presentation is great with heaps of gelato topped with some of the ingredients. We had cookies n screme which was topped with lots and lots of oreos!

Shake Shack: My kids love their milk shakes and my go-to is a root beer float.  The frozen custard at Shake Shack is as good, if not better, than their burgers. Try one of their concretes which is sort of like a Dairy Queen Blizzard but much better.  Locations across the country and around the world.

Where do you like to go for ice cream on a warm summer day?

Happy Friday,

Julie

No Big Dill!

July is very appropriately National Pickle Month.  Who doesn’t want a dill spear on the side of their sandwich or a bread and butter slice on top of their burger or a pile of relish on top of their grilled hot dog? With these summer staples, pickles are the perfect accompaniment as they are crisp, fresh, light and add a lot of flavor.  Pickling began as a way of preserving foods for out-of-season use and also to keep foods fresh for long journeys.  With refrigeration, we don’t have to worry so much about keeping foods fresh for long journeys, but pickling is still used for keeping out-of-season foods fresh for the off-season. I have memories of making five-gallon buckets of pickled ramps in the spring when working at db Bistro Moderne.  They were served with a duck pate and we had to have enough to last until the following spring. It was not easy feat but somehow, we made it work.

We can’t talk about National Pickle Month without talking about Rick’s Picks.  Their Phat Beets are my favorite… I love beets for obvious reasons, and these are made with just the right amount of rosemary and garlic and are just delicious.  Their recipe for Phat Beets Happy Appy makes lots of appearances when I entertain. While Ricks PIcks Classic Sours are delicious, you cannot go wrong with adding some Mean Beans or Hotties to your Bloody Mary.  Homemade pickles are a great way to use up that load of vegetables you got from  your CSA and can’t possibly eat before they go bad, but pickling isn’t just for cucumbers and vegetables anymore.

Pickle juice has become as popular as the pickles that are inside it.  A few years ago the pickle back, a shot of pickle juice, paired with a shot of whisky became extremely popular. And this recipe for pickle-brine chicken is so delicious and flavorful.  Pickling liquid could also be used as part of a vinaigrette on a salad.  I’ve also read that a few sips of pickle juice could relieve heartburn or make that hang-over go away. The good news is that pickles aren’t going anywhere so let’s celebrate them in all of their glory this month and beyond!  We’re offering 10% off our collection of Rick’s Picks Pickles through the end of the month with code PICKLEMONTH10

Happy Friday,

Julie