30 Minutes to Dinner

By the end of the day I am tired, not just tired but exhausted.  I spend my days keeping up with my four boys… making sure everyone gets to where they need to go and that they have all of the supplies they need once they get there. I also manage all aspects of Julie’s Beet and work behind-the-scenes on a few other websites.  My husband also works very hard all day.  When it is time to prepare dinner, we’re at the breaking point of tired and hungry.  Growing up I loved watching Rachael Ray’s show 30 Minute Meals on the Food Network.  She would pull together a delicious meal in the 30 minutes it took to watch the show.  I often start cooking dinner at 8pm, so making something in a the shortest amount of time is a must!  I recently found myself turning back to a Rachael Ray cookbook titled, 365:No Repeats.  A book full of 30 minute meals to last for the entire year.

Here is an adaptation on one of the recipes from the book.  It is a one-pot wonder and a great weeknight meal on a cold winter day.

Send me your quick dinner prep recipes! I am always looking for new ideas.

Happy Friday

Julie

Chicken Cacciatore Soup

Makes 4 servings

Ingredients:

3 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil

3 boneless-skinless chicken breasts, diced

2 tablespoons Jacobsen Salt Co Kosher Salt

2 large white potatoes, diced

8 cremini mushrooms, chopped

4 celery ribs, chopped

1 yellow onion, sliced thin

1 red bell pepper, cored, seeded and thinly sliced

4 garlic cloves, minced

½ cup dry white wine

1 15-oz can diced tomatoes

1 28-oz can crushed tomatoes

2 cups chicken stock

Crusty Bread for the side

Method:

Heat a soup pot over medium-high heat.  Add 2 tablespoons of Olive Oil, then add the chicken. Season with salt & pepper.  Cook until evenly and lightly browned, 3-4 minutes

Remove the cooked chicken to a plate and reserve.  Add the remaining tablespoon of Olive oil to the pan.  Add the mushrooms, celery and onions and cook for 3-4 minutes.  Add the pepper and garlic and cook for 1-2 more minutes.  Add the wine to deglaze the pan.  Add the tomatoes and stock and stir to combine.  Cover and cook for 8-10 minutes.

Turn off the soup and ladle into four bowls.  Garnish with grated cheese or fresh spinach or sautéed arugula. Serve with crusty bread, perfect for mopping up the delicious soup/stew.

Hot Cocoa My Way

Winter is really settling in here in New York with cold temperatures, lots of wind and the occasional snow.  One of my favorite ways to warm up from the cold is a nice, rich cup of hot chocolate. I use Rococo Chocolates Organic Drinking Chocolate when I am feeling very decadent but there are so many variations that make a plain old cup of Swiss Miss Hot Cocoa taste really great too!  Today, January 31st, just so happens to be National Hot Chocolate Day. In celebration of this wonderful day, here are some of my favorite ways to enjoy a cup of hot chocolate.

Peppermint Hot Chocolate – simply stir your mix your hot chocolate with a peppermint candy cane

Mocha Hot Chocolate – Instead of using water to make your hot chocolate, use coffee.  This is one of is a go-to when I am feeling really tired!

Hot Chocolate Affogato – This is more of a dessert than a hot chocolate… put 2 scoops of your favorite ice cream in a mug and pour the hot chocolate right over the top.  I recommend vanilla if you are a purist but if you’re not try something fun like Ben & Jerry’s Phish Food!

Elvis Presley Hot Chocolate – One of the king’s favorite sandwiches was Peanut Butter & Banana.  Add these flavors to your hot chocolate by making a ‘smoothie’  In a blender combine 1 banana, ¼ cup peanut butter and 1 ½ cups hot chocolate. Be careful when blending hot liquids as there is the possibility for explosion.

Nutty Hot Chocolate – Instead of making your hot chocolate with regular milk or water, use almond milk.  The flavor is rich and the taste is delicious.

What is your favorite variation on a classic hot chocolate?

Happy Friday,

Julie

Holiday Menu Ahead

It is hard to believe we’re already in the middle of December and in the thick of holiday shopping season. I’ve started thinking ahead to what we’ll be eating on Christmas Day.  We’ve invited a couple of friends over for an early dinner(normal time if you have children 5 and under😊). I want to be able to spend time with my company so I need a dish I can prepare ahead.  It is Christmas and while I don’t formally celebrate the holiday, I realize we need something a little special for our meal.  Here is the final menu… I’ve linked some of the recipes so you can enjoy them for your holiday meal.

Happy Friday,

Julie

Hor’s D’ouvres

Chocolate Olive Tapenade with baguette              

Vegetable Crudite with Farmhouse Labs Berry Olive Dressing

Main Meal

Red Wine Braised Short Ribs

Roasted Cauliflower Farro with Pomegranates and Pistachios

Green Salad with Anchovy-Mustard Vinaigrette

Dessert

Milk Bar Peppermint Bar Cake

Chocolate Dipped Peanut Butter Pretzels

Dreaming of Thanksgiving…

This fall has been especially busy for me… turns out adding another person to the mix is a lot of work. I’ve been keeping up with the kids’ classes, this blog, the marketplace and feeding everyone. I somehow didn’t realize Thanksgiving is next week.  I am very lucky to be attending two Thanksgiving feasts and don’t have to cook for either of them.  That has left me with plenty of time to scour Instagram, Pinterest and the rest of the internet for the best Thanksgiving Recipes.  Let me present to you my Thanksgiving Dream Menu! If you’re in a pinch these recipes may be just what you need to get the most magnificent meal on the table.

Happy Friday,

Juliie

Appetizers

White Cheddar and Cranberry Dip from Little Broken

Pumpkin Shaped Cheese Ball from The Country Cook

The Main Meal

Perfect Roast Turkey from Ina Garten

Rachael Ray’s No-Fail Turkey Gravy

Cranberry Sauce from Julie’s Eats and Treats

Creamy Mashed Potatoes from Mad About Food

Simple Spiced Stuffing

Roasted Delicata Squash with Meyer Lemon Vinaigrette from Feed Me Dearly

Butternut Squash Pasta

Cacio e Pepe Brussels Sprouts from How Sweet Eats

Thanksgiving Kale Salad with Cranberry Cinnamon Vinaigrette from How Sweet Eats

Dessert

Pumpkin Pie Cheesecake Dip from A Night Owl

Pumpkin S’mores Cupcakes from How Sweet Eats

Apple Pie with Spiced Whole Wheat Crust and Gus & Grey Perfection Jam

The Leftovers

Turkey Chilli

Chilly Day… Warm Soup!

My dad and stepmother are visiting New York this weekend. They are now retired and spend most of their time in a warm climate.  New York decided to give them a taste of the winter weather they’ve been missing as winter came really early this year!  While the purpose of their trip is to spend time with their grandchildren, a visit to New York City wouldn’t be complete without a visit to Times Square and more specifically a Broadway show! I became a little nostalgic thinking about my days working at db Bistro Moderne in the theater district.  Those pre-theater rushes were no joke! One of my favorite recipes from my days in the kitchen there is Butternut Squash Soup.  Here is the recipe so you can make it this weekend and warm your body from the inside out!

Happy Friday,

Julie

Butternut Squash Soup

Makes 4 servings

Ingredients:

1 large butternut squash, peeled, cubed and seeds removed

3 tablespoons olive oil

Jacobsen Salt Co Kosher Salt

Freshly Ground black pepper

1 tablespoon butter

1 yellow onion, chopped

1 celery stalk, sliced thin

1 large carrot, chopped

1 quart vegetable stock

Method:

-Preheat oven to 400°F.  Toss the butternut squash with 2 tablespoons olive oil and season with salt and pepper.  Arrange butternut squash in an even layer on a large sheet pan. Roast in oven for 20-25 minutes.

-Meanwhile in a large pot over medium heat, melt the butter and add the remaining tablespoon of olive oil.  Add the onion, celery and carrot and cook 7-9 minutes, until tender.  Season generously with salt and pepper.

-Add roasted squash to the vegetable mixture and cover with vegetable stock. Simmer for 10-15 minutes.

-Blend carefully in small batches until the soup is smooth and creamy.

-Serve garnished with fresh thyme, your favorite croutons or a drizzle of crème fraiche.

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

 

 

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.

Apple Pie Season is here!

My son went on an apple picking trip a few weeks ago with his kindergarten class. He had a great time and brought home lots of apples.  You can only eat so many apples so I’ve also been busy cooking with the rest of them.  Apple sauce has been made and I’ve started researching the best candy apple recipes so the caramel doesn’t get stuck in your teeth.  This recipe for Caramel Apples with Lucy’s Granola Toffee Crumbles and Chocolate Shavings is a winner.  I have also been testing some apple pie recipes.  There are only so many hours in the day so I resorted to pre-made crust that I just had to roll out into the pan.  My favorite recipe from the exercise is below.

Happy Friday,

Julie

Old Fashioned Apple Pie

Makes 1 8-9 inch pie

Ingredients

1 package pre-made pie crust

5 gala apples, peeled, cored and sliced

3 teaspoons lemon juice

2 tablespoons lemon zest

1/3 cup sugar

1/3 cup brown sugar

1/3 cup flour

1 teaspoon cinnamon

2 tablespoons butter

1 egg + 2 tablespoons(egg wash)

Method:

-Preheat oven to 425°F. 

-Roll out one pie crust and gently press into greased pie pan.  Allow excess dough to hang over the edge.  Cover with plastic wrap and stick in the refrigerator to chill.

-In a large bowl, toss apples with lemon juice and lemon zest.  Add the sugars, flour and spices and mix to combine.  Allow mixture to sit for 5-10 minutes to let the apples release more juices.

-Pour into prepared pie shell.  Cut butter into small pieces and sprinkle over the apples.

-Roll out remaining pie crust.  Cut into ½ inch strips.  Place one layer of strips across the pie over the apples, about 1 inch apart… do not press edges down.  Place another layer of strips perpendicular to the first layer.  Weave the strips over and under the first layer of strips to create a lattice affect. Press down the edges of the pie crust to seal the layers together.

-Whisk together the egg and water to make the egg wash. Brush across the top of the pie crust.

-Bake pie for 30-35 minutes or unti top is golden brown and juices are bubbly.

-Cool on wire rack for at least 30 minutes before serving.  Serve with a healthy scoop of vanilla ice cream.

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