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.

Tacos for Everyone

If you have ever read the book Dragons Love Tacos by Adam Rubin, you know that dragons love tacos but they hate spicy salsa.  I am very similar to dragons in that I also love tacos but do not care for too much spice with them. That doesn’t stop me from finding great tacos and when a taco is too spicy a dip of guacamole or a sip of a margarita will usually do the trick. In honor of National Taco Day today, here is a round up of some of my favorite taco spots in New York City.

Tacombi – The authentic Mexican tacos at this casual eatery are all delicious. One stand out is the Mayan Fish Tacos.  Have them prepared tikin xic-style for a real treat.  The fish is marinated in achiote, chiles and spices and served without sauce in a fresh tortilla. The corn here is also excellent.

Playa Betty’s – A ‘California-Style’ restaurant which has an extensive taco selection.  The best on the menu are the avocado taco and the fried fish taco.  Both are battered and fried to crisp perfection, paired with a fresh salsa and are best finished with a squeeze of lime.

Cosme – An upscale Mexican restaurant where you’ll find the best Duck Carnitas Tacos around.  The duck is pretty tasty on its own but put it into a fresh made tortilla with some fresh radishes & cilantro and you have a taco to remember.

Whether you are a purist and like you’re your tacos in a flour tortilla letting the ingredients speak themselves or like the more American version with cheese, lettuce & tomato, you just cannot go wrong with a taco or two.

Comment below with your favorite taco flavor combination.

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

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 

 

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