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

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

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

#shopsmall everyday

Last Saturday was Small Business Saturday and if you’re like me you received many reminders to #shopsmall.  American Express started Small Business Saturday 10 years ago. It falls the Saturday after Thanksgiving when many people are in full-blown holiday shopping mode.  While it is nice to have reminder to shop from smaller artisans/stores/retailers this time of the year, I think it is important to shop small year-round.  Don’t get me wrong I still order from Amazon, especially when I need a gift for the birthday party my son is attending in a few days or I’m pretty much out of diapers, but I do try to think ahead and order from small businesses and shop at local boutiques.

One of the reasons I shop from smaller artisans is because their product tends to be more unique.  Everyone starts small and when they do they are really passionate about what they are making.  This results in a product that is made with love and attention to every detail.  There is also a lot of pride when you produce something that has your name on it.  I always feel I am getting a quality product when I shop small because an artisan will only sell something that makes them smile.

I saw a statistic last week that small women-owned businesses employ 9.4 million workers and that is just women-owned businesses.  Keeping small business alive is what keeps these jobs. Think about that the next time you shop. I know large businesses employ more workers but the barista at Starbucks is very different from the barista at your local coffee shop.  The local shop probably has a lot more personality and that barista has a much higher chance of moving up the ranks and learning about running a business versus just making coffee. 

The next time you’re walking down the road or looking for a gift online, look a little further than the big shops.  By shopping small I guarantee you’ll get something you truly enjoy.

Happy Friday,

Julile

I’m thankful for…

I hope you all had a wonderful Thanksgiving.  While we all eat a fairly similar menu on Thanksgiving Day( Turkey, Stuffing, Mashed Potatoes, Sweet Potatoes, Cranberry Sauce, Pumpkin Pie). It got me thinking that there are so many amazing foods to be thankful for, I cannot believe we all limit ourselves while we celebrate each year.  Here is an alphabet version of the foods I’m most thankful for.

A – apple

B – banana

C – cream cheese

D – diet coke

E – eggs

F – falafel

G – grapes

H – hamburgers

I – ice cream

J – jam

K –  ketchup

L – lemon

M – meatballs

N – nachos

O – orange juice

P – parlsey

Q – Quince

R – raspberries

S – salmon

T – tomatoes

U – unsalted almonds

V -veal

W – water

X – xigua(watermelon)

Y – yogurt

Z – zucchini

What are some foods you are thankful for?

 

Happy Friday,

Julie

Budget Shopping Made Simple

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Happy Friday,

Julie

 

 

Celebrate Pumpkin Season!

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

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

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

Happy Friday,

Julie

Here’s a Good Excuse to Eat Chocolate Today…

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

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

Happy Friday,

Julie

 

Chocolate Cupcakes with Cream Cheese Filling

Make 20 cupcakes

Ingredients:

1 – 8 oz package cream cheese, softened

1 egg, slightly beaten

1/3 cup sugar

1 cup chocolate chips

1 cup sugar

1 ½ cups flour

¼ cup Rococo Chocolates Drinking Chocolate

1 teaspoon baking soda

1 pinch salt

1 cup water

½ cup vegetable oil

1 tablespoon white vinegar

1 teaspoon vanilla extract

Method:

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

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

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

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

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