Stop everything and bake!

chocolate-chip-cookie-recipe

The countdown to Christmas is really on now! If you’re like me you have the shopping mostly done and your menu planned.  All that is left to do is some holiday baking.  Check out our Pinterest Board Cookie Exchange for some fun holiday recipes.  Even though it is fun to whip up a batch of dreidel shaped cookies or maybe even a snowman; when it all comes down to it, what people really like are Chocolate Chip Cookies. Here is the best chocolate chip cookie recipe I’ve found. If you want to make them festive for the holidays, sprinkle some colored sugar on top or mix in some fancy sprinkles like Sweetapolita to make them really feel like the holidays.

Happy Friday,

Julie

Makes approximately 36 cookies

Ingredients

2 ¼ cups all-purpose flour

1 teaspoon baking soda

1 teaspoon salt

½ cup (one stick) butter, softened

½ cup vegetable oil

¾ cup granulated sugar

¾ cup packed brown sugar

1 teaspoon vanilla

2 large eggs

2 cups chocolate chips 

Method

-preheat oven to 375°F

-Combine flour, baking soda & salt in a small bowl and set aside. Beat butter, oil, both sugars and vanilla in a large mixer bowl until creamy.

-Add eggs one at a time, beating well after each addition. Gradually add the flour mixture.

-Stir in the chocolate chips.

-Drop by rounded tablespoon on to ungreased cookie sheet.

-Bake 9-11 minutes or until golden brown.

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.

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   

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!