Food Trends from the Fancy Food Show

Last week I had the opportunity to attend the Summer Fancy Food Show here in New York City. The show can be overwhelming as it covers most of the Jacob Javitz Center with literally 1000’s of booths.  With the right game plan, I was able to see what I wanted to in just a couple of very productive hours. One of my strategies is to visit the show on Tuesday, which is the final day.  The number of visitors is far fewer making it easier to breeze up and down the aisles.  On the flip side, the vendors have been talking and talking for two days already and some are just plain tired!   At the end of the day, the Fancy Food Show is a great opportunity to connect with some of our current artisans and also to look for new products for our marketplace.  On top of all of that I also enjoy poking around to see what the current trends are in the gourmet food world. 

Here are the trends I found most prominent at this year’s Summer Fancy Food Show:

Plant Based Everything: From oat milk to almond milk to cauliflower pizza crust and even some ‘meat’ products, there was a BIG emphasis on eating from foods we can grow.  While we know this type of diet has many health benefits including reduced risk of some cancers, I am a purist is most areas. I want my milk to come from a cow and my beef too for that matter. I do try to keep a low-carb diet so am on board with things like cauliflower pizza crust and pasta made from chickpeas. It is good to know these products are available for those who choose this lifestyle and also opens a lot of options for people with allergies to certain foods.

Allergy-Free Items:  To my last point, there is an increased awareness to allergies and more products are available to benefit allergy sufferers.  It doesn’t surprise me that these products are often created by parents who are looking for something delicious to feed their child who has a gluten/nut/dairy/soy allergy.  While my children, luckily, don’t have any food allergies I find these products have a place in our home because schools are super sensitive to allergies and a lot of packaged items are not allowed due to the allergens they contain.

Cold Brew Coffee:  I remember it like it was yesterday… making batches of cold brew coffee at Bouchon Bakery almost 10 years ago.  We had to let the coffee sit in the water overnight to brew to the proper strength.  It was not an easy feat.  Clearly times have changed as cold brew is becoming very main stream and in a good way.  A great bottle of cold brew in your refrigerator means fewer trips to the local coffee shop and for those who don’t live near a coffee shop, you can still have your gourmet coffee.

While most of these trends don’t align with the philosophy around the products selected for our marketplace, it was great to see how the food scene is changing.  I did find some wonderful products from smaller producers t that I hope to bring to our marketplace in the fall. I look forward to telling you more about the products and the stories behind them soon!

Happy Friday,

Julie

The Perfect Chocolate Pairings for You and Your Valentine

Valentine’s Day is fast approaching, and what better way to show your person that you love him or her than gifting chocolate; food of the Gods, a tried and true symbol of romance. Luckily, we and Rococo Chocolates have got you covered, because nothing quite says ‘I love you’ like artisan chocolate paired perfectly with wine, spirits, and food. This year, in addition to a lovely home cooked dinner, a meal at a nice restaurant, a dozen roses, a bottle of wine, or a combination of the previous, make sure to add a bar or two of high quality artisan chocolate to elevate the occasion to the next level and show your special person the true depth of your love. We’ll supply the chocolate, you supply the love.

Rococo Chocolates was founded in 1983 by Chantal Coady who strived to change the way fine chocolate was perceived, and is now known as a luxury British chocolate company. Crafted using only the finest ingredients, Rococo Chocolates Artisan Bars boast an exquisite taste, indulging consumers in a rich tapestry of flavors and balance. Not only is each bar meticulously crafted to ensure pristine quality and flavor, the wrapping  for each bar is also artfully designed to highlight the bars majesty. Luckily for you and your Valentine, our showroom selves are overflowing with Rococo Chocolates Artisan Bars, and using the pairings guide below, you’ll have the tools necessary to create a magical experience this Valentine’s Day.

When pairing chocolate, it’s important to play in harmony, pairing the flavor notes of the bar with complimentary flavor notes of the wine, spirit, or food with which you are pairing; flavors that enhance one another rather than overpower. Going beyond simply taste and rather turning to molecular structure, the best pairings happen when the dominant aromatic molecules of the chocolate are the same dominant aromatic molecules of the paired wine, spirit, or food. For example, when pairing chocolate with herbal teas, one should pair fruity teas with fruity bars, spiced teas with spiced bars, minty teas with mint flavored bars, so on and so forth. Along similar lines, if pairing with beer or wine, it’s lovely to pair sweet with sweet and tart with tart, as long as the beverage is sweeter than the chocolate. When pairing with wine, opt for similar style and weight, matching more elegant, lighter flavored chocolate with lighter-bodied wine, and stronger, more pronounced chocolate with a full-bodied wine, pairings that can be further honed based on the flavor notes of each.

Below, we’ve complied a list of complimentary pairings with Rococo Chocolates Artisan Bars. We hope this list proves helpful in creating a magical experience for you and your Valentine.

Shop the collection today to receive your Rococo Chocolate in time for Valentine’s Day.

Rococo Chocolates

Cheers to chocolate!

Happy Friday,

Payton

White Chocolate  Cardamom: Tokaji Dessert Wine

White Chocolate Cardamom Crackle: Terra Botanical Gin

Milk Chocolate Sea Salt: Caña Brava Reserva Añeja or similar aged rum

Milk Chocolate  Honeycomb Crunch : Aged Tawny Port

Milk Chocolate Christmas Pudding: IPA or Stout

Dark Chocolate  Sea Salt: Smokey Whiskey

Dark Chocolate  Chili Pepper: Crisp, Sweet Reisling

Dark Chocolate  Basil & Persian Lime: Pinot Noir

Dark Chocolate Gold Frankincense and Myrrh: Blue Moon Beer

Dark Chocolate  Earl Grey: Black Tea like Earl Grey

Dark Chocolate  Violet: Chamomile Tea

Dark Chocolate  Mint: Bobby Burns Whiskey Cocktail

Milk Chocolate  Rose : Pinot Grigio

Milk Chocolate Almond, Rosemary and Sea Salt: Kentucky Bourbon Whiskey

Dark Chocolate  Rose: White Tea

Milk Chocolate  Gingerbread: Egg nog, of course

Milk Chocolate Orange Blossom Neroli: Light and smokey Mezcal like Los Amantes Mezcal Joven

Winter Wellness

The dead of the winter has finally hit NYC, encasing the city in sub-zero temperatures. Thankfully, January is nearly over and this is the first of extremely low temperatures that we’ve experienced this winter, so I can’t complain… after all it is January in New York City. This weather however, and I assume as we continue on through winter, makes it seemingly harder and harder to maintain healthy eating and exercise habits. The gym, which a few weeks ago was filled to the brim with people, is becoming increasingly less crowded as we delve deeper into the winter months. It’s important, however, to maintain a healthy eating and exercise regimen this time of year. So, what are you doing to stay active, healthy, and happy this winter?

Greens. First and foremost, do not forego eating greens. Even though we tend to crave heartier, carbohydrate-dense food in the winter, it is very important to get your daily dose of greens as well, which are rich in vitamins A, C, E, and K, are loaded with antioxidants, and boast high levels of fiber, magnesium, potassium, and calcium. These phytochemicals are essential for keeping our bodies nourished, as well as regulated during the winter months. Thankfully, we now carry Farmhouse Lab dressings, which makes consuming your greens even easier and so very delicious! If you’re not in the salad mood, try adding raw greens like spinach and kale to a smoothie, or sauté heartier greens with lemon juice, garlic, chili pepper, and olive oil to accompany roasted chicken or fish. It may sound silly, but getting your daily dose of greens is really so important to keeping you not only healthy, but happy this winter.

Balance. Not only are greens important, but it’s also important to make sure that the food you’re consuming is balanced. Each time you sit down for a meal, your plate should contain protein, fat, complex carbohydrates, as well as greens. Creating a balanced plate will help keep you fuller longer, will create satiety, and will also help you from over-eating, which is so easy to do in the winter time, as heavier foods feel warming and comforting. Balance should also include finding time for meaningful play, and balancing that play with your hectic work life. The winter blues are no joke, and one way to combat them and stay mentally healthy, besides consuming the proper nutrition, is making time for play. Whether it’s meeting friends for drinks, going to the movies or a play, or perhaps going bowling, it is so important to make time for laughter and enjoyment. Your body will thank you!

Stay active. Finding time for exercise is necessary to stay healthy this winter. Whether it be going to the gym, lifting weights, taking a yoga or spin class, or going for a run outside if the weather permits, making time for exercise will aid in staying healthy and happy this winter. It doesn’t have to be everyday of the week, but one should shoot for at least two or three active days per week. It’s tricky at times, especially when it’s blistering cold outside, but speaking for myself, I always feel so much brighter and happier after completing a workout. The endorphins that are released during exercise trigger positive feelings in the body, in addition to other brain-boosting chemicals, which all aid in improving cognitive function and mood elevation. I also find that keeping an exercise regime helps me make healthier food choices, as I feel more in-tuned with my body and what it needs for nourishment and sustenance.

All-in-all, the coldest part of winter has just seemed to set in, and being that it’s nearly February, hopefully we don’t have too many more months of winter left. But in the meantime, it’s important to find happiness, peace, and enjoyment amongst the cold and barren landscape. I hope that the tips above help you, as they have helped me, find health and happiness this winter.

Happy Friday, all!

Payton

Classic Meatloaf, Amplified

Growing up in the Midwest, meatloaf was a staple comfort food during the long and cold winter months. The combination of ground beef, sweet onions, bread or crackers, salt, pepper, and a sweet and tangy ketchup glaze seems to make every midwesterner that I know very happy during the winter time. I feel that it is almost customary that every midwestern mother has her own meatloaf recipe, or at least her own unique addition or adaptation of one. In my house, my grandma Carolyn’s meatloaf recipe reigned supreme, and no matter how hard my dad and I tried, regardless of the step-by-step handwritten instructions given to us by my grandma, our meatloaf never seemed to taste as good as hers… she just has the magic touch in the kitchen, where muscle memory and eye measurements outperform numerical metrics.

Whether served hot right out of the oven, or cold between two slices of buttered bread, a basic meatloaf comes together in minutes and provides the hearty and stick-to-your-ribs satisfaction that most individuals crave during the winter months. I no longer eat meat, and I haven’t for years, but I vividly remember the delicious comfort that meatloaf provides, a comfort that is both filling and warming, as well as nurturing.

In hopes to provide you with the best possible meatloaf recipe, I called my grandma this afternoon to request verbal instructions of her exact procedure. Of course, as mentioned above, she reiterated that she relies only on sight rather than measurement, but she was able to provide me with a quantifiable recipe that is similar to hers. Thankfully, it’s quite easy, as any meatloaf recipe should be, containing only a handful of simple ingredients. Of course, because I can never leave well enough alone, I’m going to swap out saltine crackers for The Matzo Project Salted Matzo Crackers and Heinz Ketchup for D.a.T. Ketchup which I think will provide a more unique and complex flavor, as D.aT. Ketchup boasts a few additional spices that Heinz Ketchup doesn’t contain. I’m leaving everything else alone, so please rest assured that this meatloaf will be nearly as good as my grandmas.

First things first, it’s all about the beef. Not all ground beef is created equal as it can contain various amounts of fat, so when choosing ground beef for your meatloaf, choose something with a higher fat content to insure that your meatloaf doesn’t get too dry during the cooking process. 70/30, which is the ratio of lean meat to fat, is a good choice, as the higher fat content will keep your meatloaf moist as well as add additional flavor and richness. Second, a ketchup glaze is key. A tangy and sweet glaze is not only delicious, but is also needed to cut through the fatty richness of the meatloaf rounding out the flavor to make it even more palatable. Lastly, chose your additions wisely, as simplicity lends to the best final result.

I hope you all have had a wonderful start to the new year! Cheers to lots of love, laughter, hugs, happiness, and of course, delicious food this 2019!

Happy Friday, everyone!

Classic Meatloaf, Amplified

Ingredients:

1 lb 70/30 ground beef

1 c crushed Matzo Project Salted Matzo Crackers

1 c minced white onion

1/2 c whole milk

1 large egg, whisked

1 tsp kosher salt

1/4 tsp ground black pepper

1/8 tsp ground nutmeg

2 tbsp D.a.T. Ketchup

Glaze:

1/4 c D.a.T. Ketchup

2 tbsp packed brown sugar

1 tbsp white vinegar

Method:

-preheat oven to 350 degrees

-to a large mixing bowl, add ground beef, crushed crackers, onion, milk, egg, 2 tbsp ketchup, and seasonings. Mix until just combined, being careful not to overwork the meat

-gently compress meat mixture into a 9”x5” loaf pan

-meanwhile, combine 1/4 c ketchup with brown sugar and vinegar and then spread on top of meat mixture

-bake for 1 hour, uncovered, and then remove from oven and allow to rest for at least 15 minutes before slicing

Enjoy!

Minnesota Christmas

Christmas time has always been my favorite time of year. From all of the lights, to the snow frosted trees, to the dancing notes of cinnamon, nutmeg, clove, and baked apples, to the love and warmth of being surrounded and sharing in holiday joy with friends and family, the holiday season is unlike any other time of year. The spirit of the season is seemingly alive, finding shelter in nearly all of those whom you come into contact with, which can only be described as an all-encompassing blissful wonderment.

As young children, and even into our late teens and early twenties, my siblings and I would wake up at nearly 3am on Christmas morning and rush downstairs to see what Santa had left for us, carefully tiptoeing past our parents room as to not wake up our mom. As we sat surrounded by stacks of gifts and overflowing stockings, my siblings and I would rifle through the loot in our stockings before trying to guess what each of our wrapped packages contained. My dad, who is the only person that I know who starts his day at 4am, would soon find us downstairs eating candy and eagerly waiting to open our gifts. My dad would put on a movie or TV show for us and we would each find a spot on the couch, and if excitement allowed us, we’d fall back asleep until our mom was awake and ready to document each of us opening up our gifts. I treasure these memories dearly, and I hope to one day create the same magical experiences with my own children.

As per tradition, each Christmas morning before gifts were opened, my mom or I would make cinnamon rolls, pancakes, and scrambled eggs, which, due to anticipation for gift opening, hardly got eaten. Each of my siblings and I would take turns opening gifts, taking turns sitting on a chair positioned in front of the Christmas tree so that my mom could photograph each gift being opened, as my dad sat on the corner of the couch videotaping the madness. This is something we still do to this day, however, as each of my siblings and I get older, the less focused we are on receiving gifts, but we rather appreciate the time spent together so much more. This year, instead of asking for a plethora of material gifts we asked for an experience, so my parents are taking us to the Dominican Republic for a week of fun in the sun!

The older I get, the more and more I love just being present and sharing in love, joy, and laughter with my friends and family, and it’s now my favorite part about Christmas. I love cooking together, sharing in laughter together, eating together, celebrating together, more over, just being together, all encased in the warmth and love of the season. I cherish this time of year dearly.

I hope you all have the chance to experience the magic of the holiday season!

Happy holidays and happy Friday!

Payton

Holiday Treats… an ode to National Cookie and National Brownie Days

I’m sure that it’s no surprise to any, but I love baking. At times, I find myself dreaming about sugar and sweet creations. Seemingly infatuated by the all-encompassing world of pastry, I find the combination of sugar, flour, fat, salt, heat, and other flavor components to be something of a magical science. As a child, instead of watching Saturday morning cartoons, I found myself enchanted by the cooking shows on the Food Network, and nurtured by a family of wonderful cooks and bakers, I find much comfort and joy in creating in the kitchen. The realm of pastry is vast and endless, and I quite love exploring it.

During the holiday season in general, more over as soon as the weather begins to cool, my urge to bake begins to intensify. Cold weather plus the joy of the holiday season creates the perfect baking environment, as being surrounded by friends, family and warmth makes the experience all the better. Sugar cookies are by far one of my favorite things to bake for the holidays, with gingerbread cookies following in close second. My grandma makes the best cut-out sugar cookies, which are thin and crisp, yet they surprisingly still melt in your mouth, that she decorates with vibrant holiday colors — which I attribute to the reason why I love to bake them. I recently purchased a rolling pin embossed with a holiday scene that I’m so excited to try out on this years cookie creations.

Every Christmas morning, I find myself baking cinnamon rolls for my family and myself. On occasion, they come from the Pillsbury can, other times they are scratch made. I made cinnamon rolls the last time I was home in Minnesota which I plan to recreate this Christmas. This time, however, I plan to add more of a pecan pie element to the rolls — I’ll let you know at a later date how they turn out. I also recently made lemon scented Belgium Waffles which were quite fluffy and airy due to the addition of a high quality Italian lemon soda that I can’t wait to make for my family!

Since the holidays are soon approaching, and since both National Cookie Day and National Brownie day were celebrated this week, I wanted to share with you two amazing recipes that you can wow your friends and family with! The fi-rst recipe is my take on a traditional peanut butter blossom cookie — which my grandma always makes for Christmas as well — in which I subbed Jacobsen Salt Co. Salty Caramels  for Hershey Kisses. These cookies are so moist and pack a serious peanut butter punch! The second recipe is for fudge brownies featuring Rococo Chocolates Organic Drinking Chocolate and a Gus and Grey Spellbound infused cheesecake swirl. The combination of rich chocolate and blueberry and lavender cheesecake is truly irresistible!

If you’re anything like me, you love baking with friends and family for the holidays. My wish for you is that you’re able to find some time in the kitchen surrounded by those you love and together create your favorite holiday treats. The recipes below are a great place to start! I wish you all a safe and happy holidays!

And most importantly, happy baking!

Payton

Classic Peanut Butter Blossoms with Jacobsen Salt Co. Salty Caramels

Yields 2 dozen cookies

Ingredients:

1/2 c granulated sugar, plus extra for dusting

1/2 c firmly packed dark brown sugar

1/2 c creamy peanut butter, I prefer natural

1 stick unsalted butter, softened

1 large egg

1 tsp vanilla extract

1.5 c unbleached all-purpose flour

1 tsp baking soda

1/2 tsp baking powder

1 box Jacobsen Salt Co. Salty Caramels, unwrapped and cut in half

Method:

-preheat oven to 350 degrees

-cream butter, granulated sugar, brown sugar and peanut butter in a stand mixer until light and fluffy, roughly 3 minutes. Add in the egg and vanilla extract and mix until well incorporated

-Meanwhile, whisk flour, baking soda, baking powder and salt in a small bowl. Add to the wet ingredients, stirring just to combine. Be careful not to over mix

-Using a 1 tablespoon scoop, scoop the dough, roll into a ball, roll in granulated sugar, then place the dough onto a parchment lined sheet tray approximately 2 inches apart

-Bake for 8 to 10 minutes, or until lightly golden and set. Immediately place a Jacobsen Salt Co. Salty Caramel in the center of each cookie and then transfer to a wire rack to cool completely.

 

Fudge Brownies with Rococo Chocolates Organic Drinking Chocolate and Gus and Grey Spellbound Infused Cream Cheese Swirl

Yields 1 8×8 pan of brownies

Brownie Ingredients:

1 stick unsalted butter, melted

1 c granulated sugar

2 large eggs

1 tsp vanilla extract

1 tsp ground cinnamon

1/3 c Rococo Chocolates Organic Drinking Chocolate, plus additional for dusting

1/2 c all-purpose flour

1/4 tsp salt

1/2 tsp baking powder

Cream Cheese Swirl Ingredients:

8 ounces cream cheese, softened

1/4 c granulated sugar

1 large egg

1/2 c Gus and Grey Spellbound Jam

Method:

-Preheat oven to 350 degrees

-Butter an 8×8 inch cake pan, then lightly dust with drinking chocolate, making sure to tap out any excess

-Combine melted butter, which has been allowed to cool slightly, with sugar, eggs, vanilla extract, cinnamon powder, drinking chocolate, and salt, whisking to combine. Gently fold in flour and baking powder until just combine, be careful not to over mix, then pour into prepared baking pan

-Meanwhile, make cheesecake swirl by combining cream cheese, sugar, egg, and Gus and Grey Jam, whisking to combine. Dot the surface of the browning batter with the cheesecake mixture, then using a wooden skewer, swirl the cheesecake mixture and brownie batter together

-Bake for 30 minutes, or until slightly set

Enjoy!

A dreamy trip to California

As many of you know, I worked at Bouchon Bakery in The Time Warner Building in New York City for over three years. It wasn’t always easy working for Thomas Keller but I did learn a lot about food, service and hospitality.  Chef Keller is obviously very talented with food and also in the industry of making the guest’s needs come first.  To this day, when I am cleaning I often think if he would approve of the appearance of my shop.  Some days, I would love for him to walk in and see what I am doing and on other days, I might hide behind the table stacked high with boxes of chocolate.  The Thomas Keller ‘Empire’ is based in Yountville, California and during my three years at Bouchon Bakery I tried and tried to get sent out to California to work, but to my disappointment, never got on that plane out west.

This past weekend, my husband surprised me with an early birthday present… a trip to Napa Valley with three friends.  This was my opportunity to recharge, drink some wine and eat some amazing food.  There was definitely talk of going to The French Laundry for dinner but I decided that is a once in a lifetime meal and I want to experience it with my husband.  We did have an amazing meal at Single Thread Farms but I’ll save that for another time.  We made a reservation for Sunday Brunch at Ad Hoc.  Ad Hoc is likely the most casual of Thomas Keller’s restaurants, serving a single meal, family style for weekend brunch and nightly dinners.  I started brunch with a Bloody Mary(a true sign of a vacation without kids!) and it only got better from there.  Our meal consisted of a simple spinach salad filled with pickled red onions & grapes and topped with a creamy avocado dressing.  The main course was Chicken Fried Steak topped with gravy along with roasted potatoes.  We added a Spanglish Sandwich which was the best combination of  a fried egg, toasted bread, cheese, tomato and lettuce I’ve had in a long time.    Feeling very satisfied, we were presented with a Red Velvet Cupcake with Cream Cheese Frosting for dessert.  It was rich, tangy and sinfully sweet.

After brunch I wanted to explore the rest of Yountville and check out the rest of Thomas Keller’s restaurants.   A walk down Washington Street took us past Bouchon Bakery with a line winding down the block for their fresh baked goods and coffee.  Next was Bouchon  the bistro famous for classic French dishes and finally we stumbled into the garden at The French Laundry.  I’m not sure we went in the proper entrance to the property as I never saw the famed Blue Door but the garden was amazing.  We passed diners in a small dining room which opened out into the garden and the beautiful fall afternoon.  The setting was magical and I look forward to returning one day to experience it for myself.  We meandered back down the street to where we started our walk and got in the car to drive back to the airport.

The trip to California was exactly what I needed. It was a chance to catch up with old friends, catch up on my sleep and catch up with dreams of the past. I am so glad I was able to play ‘hooky’ from my life for a few days. I have returned refreshed and ready to take on the busy season ahead.

Happy Friday,

Julie

Our Shared Table, the Countdown to Thanksgiving

The warm hug of radiating love. The gentle melody of dancing laughter. The glimmer of magic manifested from being surround by those whom you love. These are just a few of the reasons why I love Thanksgiving, moreover the holiday season as a collective. Coming from a large family, the holiday season has always been a magical time for me, as there is something so special about gathering with your family and friends. From the smell of burning wood, cinnamon, and baked apples, to the outward pouring of love and joy, and not to mention the immense spread of food, it’s hard to articulate the exact feeling that the holiday season induces, other than bliss. My wish, now more than ever, is that every being on the planet is able to experience the joy, love, and light of their respective holiday.

My family always seems to go all out when it comes to holiday feasts, as the bounty is truly never ending. Thanksgiving is the one holiday that all of my relatives on my father’s side spend together — roughly 100 of us give or take — all sharing a meal together. From Turkey, ham, meatballs, candied carrots, stuffing and mashed potatoes, to lefsa, rommegrot, krumkake, pumpkin pie, pecan pie and scotcheroos, our thanksgiving table is one of indulgence to say the least, a beautiful holiday spread that everyone not only shares in eating, but also shares in creating. Despite the cold temperatures outside, my family’s Thanksgiving is one of the warmest places you could be, the physical embodiment of love, laughter and joy. Housed at the local legion due to the staggering number of us, our Thanksgiving is a time of reconnection and shared joy, a warmth that I wish everyone had the privilege of experiencing.

In years past, after celebrating with my dad’s side of the family, my immediate family and I always went to my mom’s parent’s farm to spend the afternoon and evening, and of course we’d indulge in more food, only after taking naps by the fire, however. Already stuffed from dinner, we’d all make a cozy bed on either the sofa, recliner, or floor, and rest by the glow of a warm fire for hours, only to awaken and eat more food, usually, but not limited to, pumpkin pie, turkey, snicker bar salad and my grandma’s incredible home made bread, which no one could ever get enough of. I am so thankful for these memories and I will treasure them always.

This year, try spicing up your holiday spread with some incredible products from our marketplace. Take your pumpkin pie to the next level by making the crust with Paul & Pippa Cocoa Biscuits or Lady Carrot Cake Biscuits, either of which would lend a modern twist to the classic favorite. As mentioned in posts past, honey is an amazing addition and compliment to both sweet and savory dishes, so this Thanksgiving, make sure to find a place for Bee Local Honey on your holiday table by using it in a glaze for your holiday ham, a sweetener for your cranberry sauce, a candy coating for your pecans, or as an infusion for your butter to then be used to spread on warm bread and dinner rolls — all of which will definitely pack a delicious holiday punch. If looking for even more invention, try adding some Gus and Grey Pearfection Jam to your your stuffing recipe, as sweet always compliments savory and vice versa, and the flavor of pear and cinnamon are the perfect addition to your holiday feast. Semolina Artisanal Pasta could be a fun addition if you’re looking for something a little less traditional, in which case you could mix cooked pasta with roasted vegetables, cheese, and herbs and toss with a simple lemon and Bee Local Hot Honey vinaigrette for an easy yet sophisticated pasta salad.

The options for holiday food is truly endless, so please check out our recipe box for season inspired recipes and ideas, as well as our Pinterest board. Find the link for both pages below.

We would also love to spread joy and compassion this holiday season, as we are well aware that not everyone is as fortunate as we are, so we’ll be donating a portion of our holiday sales to a New York City based food charity this holiday season. Whether you have a little or a lot to give, please find someway to help those around you this holiday season by either donating food to your local food bank, or volunteering to make meals for those less fortunate, as together, we can help try to make the holiday season a magical time for everyone.

Happy Friday.
-Payton

Recipe box: https://www.juliesbeet.com/pages/recipe-box

Pinterest: https://www.pinterest.com/juliesbeet/thanksgiving-inspiration/

Apple Season

Apple season, as I’ve mentioned numerous times before, is my favorite fall produce season. I dream year round of the moment when the morning air becomes crisp and steam dances from between my lips as I enter the world dressed in my fall layers. I love nothing more than starting my day before the sun rises during the fall, outdoors with a hot coffee in hand, just to admire the enchanting beauty. Apples are the perfect companion to fall weather — Mother Nature obviously knows what she’s doing — as they pair so wonderfully with warming spices like cinnamon, nutmeg, and clove, which make them the best addition to a chilly Autumn morning. Regardless of the season we’re in, I eat an apple nearly everyday, but that number always multiplies during the fall months, not only due to their delicious flavor and the vast variety of apples grown in New York state, but also because of their versatility.

Of course, it’s no secret that I have the wildest sweet-tooth, so my favorite way to enjoy apples during the fall months is in baked goods… especially apple pie. Growing up in rural Minnesota, I had the sweetest elderly neighbor named Margie who would always bring my family baked goods, and when fall rolled around, Margie would bring us an apple pie at least once per week. Her apple pies were famous in my small hometown of 1,300 people, as Margie had the best apple blend, which of course she kept a secret, that made for the most amazing apple pie — which is not too sweet, not too tart, not too firm, nor too soft, blanketed in a rich, buttery, flaky crust, painted with an egg wash and dusted with demerara sugar… oh, and the filling also had a shot or two of rum which only added to the magic. I have never once baked a pie as good as Margie’s, nor do I know if I ever will, but each fall I make it my mission to create something as similar to her pie as I possibly can.

I am also a sucker for simplicity, so I adore a caramel apple. There is the cutest family run farm-stand along Highway 52, minutes outside of La Crescent, Minnesota, which is home to some of Minnesota’s best apple orchards. This farm stand sells well over a dozen varieties of apples, bagged for your convenience, as well as squash, pumpkins, gourds, and a lot of other fall produce. The best thing at the farm-stand, though, has to be their caramel apples. You can choose from a classic caramel apple, to a chopped nut coated caramel apple, to a candy speckled caramel apple, to a chocolate drizzled caramel apple… my favorite of which being the chopped peanut coated caramel apple. I used to beg my mom everyday during the fall to pick me up a caramel apple — or two — on her commute home from work. A few weeks back, I shared a delicious caramel recipe that will perfectly coat your favorite apple of choice, plus provided a few ideas for amazing toppings. Making caramel apples is a great activity to do with your kids, especially if you picked the apples yourself!

When it comes to savory dishes, apples can provide an amazing burst of sweetness without adding processed sugar to your meal. An apple inspired coleslaw pairs perfectly with grilled bratwursts, adding a kick of sweetness to create a rounder, more complex flavor profile, taking your bratwurst to the next level. For your next tailgate party, be sure to have apple coleslaw as one of your condiments… you certainly won’t be disappointed. Try adding shredded apples to a saute pan with onions, salt, and pepper, and caramelize low and slow to develop all of the natural sugars in the onions and the apple. Traditional caramelized onions are amazing on their own, but they are even more incredible when an apple is introduced into the mix, adding even more sweetness. Try this onion mixture on your burger to kick the flavor profile up a notch — or three — or in a smoked honey ham and cheese panini. Apples are also a great addition to your meat and cheese board, perfect for a holiday party or get-together. You could also impress your dinner guests by adding a layer of sliced apple and sliced fennel underneath and on top of bone-in chicken breasts with a mustard focused marinade before roasting. Really, you could try adding apples to any of your savory dishes to round out the flavor by adding a touch of natural sweetness.

There is really nothing I enjoy more on a cold Autumn evening than apple cider, especially if it’s heavily spiced with cinnamon, clove, nutmeg, and star anise, with a touch of citrus, and a shot or two of dark rum, whiskey, or brandy — the most amazing hot cocktail if the colder temperatures have you feeling ill… or if you’re simply wanting a yummy nightcap before bed. You can opt for store bought cider, or make your own by sauteing a mixture of gala apples, braeburn apples, honey crisp apples, and granny smith apples in a large stock pot with cinnamon sticks, cloves, star anise, and nutmeg, then add filtered water, bring to a boil, reduce to a simmer, and cook for at least an hour — the longer you cook, to more developed the flavor becomes. Then, remove the whole spices, blend in batches or with an immersion blender, strain, and enjoy! I love how apple cider showcases the magic of the fall months, as it’s sweet, warming, and so very cozy!

Lastly, apple picking is so much fun, and is easily enjoyed by people of all ages! I love going to family run apple orchards in the fall, surrounded by cascading leaves of crimson, scarlet, and gold, and being gently caressed by Autumn’s cool breeze. There are some incredible orchards not far from NYC, teeming with fall inspired activities like corn mazes and pumpkin patches, but more importantly, bake stands, which 9 times out of 10 will sell apple cider donuts — which may be one of the greatest types of donuts ever created! Please find time to visit an apple orchard this fall as it’s one of the best ways to spend a fall day.

Happy fall!

Payton

Meal Prep for the Win!

The 2018-2019 school year is freshly underway, and although I’m not a parent, I know the chaos that a new school year brings. Growing up in rural Minnesota in a town, moreover village, with a population of 1,300 people, a lot falls on the eldest sibling  — which is me — when it comes to helping out with the younger siblings. Having two working career parents who often traveled for work didn’t help lessen the workload, either. From the age of 12 or 13, I was responsible for not only getting myself up and ready for school in the morning, but I was also responsible for getting my younger brother and sister up and ready, too. It wasn’t always easy either, as I liked to be to school by 8am so that I had time to socialize with my friends before class, but my brother and sister prefered sleep much more, so I rarely hit my 8am target. I was an alarm clock, wardrobe stylist, hair stylist, personal chef, and chaperone on the walk to school — which granted was no more than a block away from our home — so believe me when I tell you that even though I’m not a parent, I know the chaos that a fresh school year brings.

On duty before school, as well as after school, I was responsible for finding my brother and sister after school and getting them to their numerous evening programs and sport practices, usually with the addition of my younger cousins, too; only to be amplified once I got my drivers license. This may sound like a lot of work, especially for a young kid who was also juggling school work, but I would be lying if I said that I didn’t miss those days, as I really do miss them. Although I haven’t had these responsibilities in a number of years, this new school year is hitting me harder than most, as my youngest sibling just started her senior year, and being the sappy, sentimental, and overly emotional person that I am, I can’t help but feel sad when thinking back on the younger days. But alas, change is inevitable, and the excitement and awe of witnessing my sister blossom into a beautiful young woman far outweighs the sadness brought about by change.

While on duty as an older brother made live-in nanny, I learned the invaluable lesson of being organized and overly prepared. I’ve always enjoyed cooking, and being the overachiever and natural nurturer that I’ve always been, I found much joy in batch cooking and meal prep, which alleviated a lot of unnecessary stress when trying to feed my siblings before and after school, or when trying to pack them a lunch on days when they didn’t like the lunch option. If you’re struggling with a lack of time when trying to get your kids up, ready, and fed before school in the morning, meal and snack prep could really help you keep your mornings and days on track and running smoothly. Start with basics like vegetable packets — maybe carrots, celery, and blanched broccoli — and your favorite veggie dip, fresh fruit packets — including berries, melon, and grapes — and trail mix packets. If possible, please try to use reusable bags or BPA free tupperware containers. For breakfast, which was rarely eaten at home but rather while running out the door  — I would prepare large batches of baked breakfast sandwiches, which usually included eggs, cheese, and breakfast meats, sandwiched in between two english muffin halves — that is until I discovered how to create syrup infused pancake muffins — that I would wrap in parchment paper, label, then place in a sealable container and freeze. Because I’m a sugar junkie, I would also prepare large batches of pancakes, french toast, and waffles that I would freeze and then place in the toaster oven for quick reheating making for a simple yet delicious breakfast in a pinch. Having a few snack and breakfast options on hand really does make a world of difference.

My mom always kept our refrigerator and pantry stocked to the brim, so on days when my brother or sister requested a packed lunch, throwing together a simple and filling lunch was quite easy. If I were to pack them a lunch today, however, I think I would forgo the deli-meat sandwich with a side of chips and instead send them with a hummus and veggie wrap with the addition of roasted chicken and a side of fresh fruit, or something slightly more healthy and nutrient dense than a sandwich. You could also batch cook a few different types of burritos, wrap them in parchment and then again in foil, and freeze — that is if a microwave is provided at the school for reheating purposes. A simple veggie lasagna with whole wheat pasta noodles would be lovely as well, and requires very little time to prepare ahead of time and it also freezes nicely.

The favorite of my creations, hands down, had to be my homemade chocolate chip cookies. I would make triple batches of these cookies once per month — they were a favorite of everyone in my family and the most coveted snack, more like treat, to bring with you to school. The secret, which I’m sure I picked up while watching the Food Network, was a mixture of white chocolate chips, semi sweet chocolate chips, and milk chocolate chips, as well as a heaping scoop of peanut butter, and last, but most definitely not least, a packet of white chocolate pudding mix — I know, quite odd, but let me tell you, these cookies are magical! The white chocolate pudding was the star of the show, not only adding another level of chocolate flavor, but it also created the best chewy texture. I will write and share the recipe for these cookies on the Recipe Box page of our website in the coming days.

Conclusion. The school-year does not have to be chaotic, and can actually be quite fun and enjoyable if well prepared. Try planning a weekly or monthly menu with your family, and after you have a menu set, give batch cooking and meal prepping a go to give yourself more time during the week. Simple, make ahead meal and snack options will save you so much time in the long run. Cheers to reducing chaos this school year!

Happy Friday!

Payton