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

 

 

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!

Hostess Gift Ideas

The holiday season is in full swing, and I’m sure you, like many, are frantically searching for the best gifts to give to those in your life. Finding the perfect gift can be challenging, as it should be thoughtful, personal, and enjoyable. Admittedly, I am not the best gift-giver, never have been, and may in fact never be, but I always try my hardest to be thoughtful of the individual receiving the gift. This year at Julie’s Beet, we’re highlighting experiences paired with delicious culinary gems from our marketplace as gifts to give to the treasured people in your life, but that’s for another post. This post will be focused on giving something sweet and thoughtful to the host of your holiday party…. and if in fact that individual happens to be you, more the reason to treat yourself for a job well done this holiday season.

A host or hostess gift can be large or small, simple or elaborate, and acts as a symbol of thankfulness and gratitude to that individual for hosting you in his or her home or space. It can be something as simple as a bottle of wine, or something more elaborate like a wine decanter, candles, a decorative vase, or dinnerware. Whatever the gift may be, it’s always a nice touch to show the host or hostess that you thought of him or her.

Since we’re all about food, we think the best host or hostess gift should be comprised of something edible or food related. Below, you’ll find some of our favorite products paired together to create the perfect gift for the host or hostess. If you chose to purchase the products together, or instead purchase a single item, we can assure you that the recipient of the gift will be delighted!

First, who doesn’t love chocolate? Barely anyone. Chocolate is a great gift because it is adored, treasured, and craved by many. It also pairs nicely with wine… and no one is ever disappointed with a gift of wine. This year, shower your host or hostess with an assortment of Rococo Chocolates Artisan bars, which are crafted from the finest quality ingredients, are wrapped in beautifully designed packaging, and are a luxury British chocolate. Pair the assortment of bars with Rococo Chocolates Organic Drinking Chocolate and Paul and Pippa Cocoa Chip Biscuits for a host or hostess gift fit for a God or Goddess… (Get it? Because chocolate is said to be the food of the Gods.) This gift of chocolate is sure to please!

Maybe the individual hosting your holiday party is an avid home cook, and if so, help him or her stock their pantry with the essentials. Five Extra Virgin Olive Oil, Five Balsamic Vinegar, Jacobsen Salt Co. Kosher Sea Salt and Oregon Flake Sea Salt are an amazing addition to any cupboard or pantry, and any home cook would be more than delighted to receive them as a gift. Five Olive Oil was created by World Excellence Products in Greece, and they hold their product to a very high standard — which is apparent after first taste, as the taste of Five Olive Oil is unparalleled. Founded in 2011, Jacobsen Salt Co. was the first company to harvest salt in the Pacific Northwest since Lewis & Clark built their salt works in 1805, and is now recognized as America’s leading salt maker. Jacobsen Salt Co. salt boasts a pure taste and beautiful presentation and is treasured by chefs and home cooks alike. If you really love and treasure the host or hostess, add in some beautifully crafted spice blends from La Boîte which are meticulously studied and crafted. These pantry essentials will act as the perfect gift for the chef or aspiring chef in your life.

Next, on to our wine and cheese loving host or hostess. A bottle of wine by itself makes for an amazing host or hostess gift, but pair it with a box of The Matzo Project Matzo Crackers, a jar of Gus and Grey Jam, a bottle of Bee Local Hot Honey, and maybe an assortment of cheeses, and you’ve got yourself a gift that keeps on giving. This is the perfect gift that can be enjoyed as a relaxing ‘treat-your-self’ snack as a means to relax and regroup after hosting a holiday party.

Lastly, why not give the host or hostess of your holiday party the option for a quick and easy breakfast? Cue Lucy’s Granola, a box of Paper and Tea Tea, a jar of Gus and Grey Jam, and loaf of sour dough bread. This gift will bring bring an amazing post-holiday breakfast together in no time flat. This too is a gift that keeps on giving.

This holiday season, in midst of shopping for the perfect gift for those on your  list, be sure to include something special for the individuals hosting your holiday gatherings. As mentioned above, the gift can be small and sweet, or slightly more elaborate, as it’s the gesture and thought that counts — but with the help of our suggestions above, we hope that the thought and gesture is well received and greatly appreciated.

Happy Holidays!

Payton