Feel The Beet

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According to historians, beets have been around since 800 BC (who decides to research this stuff is beyond us, but who are we to judge?). Turns out these interesting vegetables were found in the Hanging Gardens of Babylon which, by the way, are one of the Seven Wonders of the World. So does that make beets extra special? Are they a hanger-on to The Hanging Gardens’ claim to fame?

Who knows, but beets are enjoying their plate popularity these days; and finding their way into all kinds of recipes from salads to soups to smoothies.

Beets do boast loads of nutritional hutzpah, including lowering blood pressure, boosting stamina, and fighting cancer. And they add a great texture and bold color to any dish. They are pretty AND smart.

Epicurean recently served a version of this delicious beet salad at a fundraiser and the live auction went gangbusters! See – that boosting stamina thing is real.

Epicurean’s Feel the Beets Salad

Serves: 4| Prep: 10 mins| Cook: 30 mins

Ingredients:

  • 4 medium beets cleaned and halved
  • 1/2 cup chopped walnuts
  • 3 tablespoons maple syrup
  • 1 (10 ounce) package baby spinach
  • 1/2 cup frozen orange juice concentrate
  • 1/4 cup balsamic vinegar
  • 1/2 cup extra-virgin olive oil
  • 2 ounces goat cheese
  • 2 avocadoes, chopped

Directions:

  • Place beets into a saucepan, and fill with enough water to cover
  • Bring to a boil and cook until tender (approx. 30 minutes)
  • Drain and cool, then cut into cubes
  • While the beets are cooking, place the walnuts in a skillet over medium-low heat
  • Heat until warm and starting to toast, then stir in the maple syrup.
  • Cook and stir until evenly coated
  • Remove from the heat and set aside to cool
  • In a small bowl, whisk together the orange juice concentrate, balsamic vinegar and olive oil
  • Place a small amount of dressing on each plate (this is a good trick, adds flavor at the bottom and keeps greens from sliding off the plate!)
  • Place a large helping of spinach onto each of four salad plates,
  • Divide the candied walnuts equally and sprinkle over the greens.
  • Place equal amounts of beets over the greens, and top with dabs of goat cheese and avocado
  • Drizzle each plate with some dressing
  • Enjoy

 submitted by Stephanie Blackford 

Joan Rivers’ Secret Family Recipe

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I just returned from New York City aka The Big Apple aka The City that Never Sleeps aka The Ultimate Cultural-Culinary Melting Pot, all of which make it one of the great cities of the world. I found that the recent death of Joan Rivers has hit New Yorkers hard, especially Gordon, a middle-aged man who I found weeping into his iPad on a park bench outside my sister’s Murray Hill pad. I felt badly for him.

I felt even worse when I found him on the same park bench the next day. Still crying. He had been her fan since before her first facelift and fondly told me an unsolicited story of seeing her one morning walking her Yorkie (which, given the name, is THE quintessential New York breed). He said good morning, she said good morning and, for him, that was good enough.

While I’ve known for a while that Rivers was, underneath, a warm and gracious woman (with a sharp and biting humor), I had no idea she was quite the gifted cook. (Neither did Gordon, but to him she could do anything and everything, including walk her own dog.) Take a look at one of her famous family recipes below. Let us know via Facebook if you attempt to create this masterpiece in your own kitchen. Remember, take your time and be patient – practice makes perfect.

 

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submitted by stephanie blackford

DIY Wedding Videos? I DO!

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In the “olden days,” like five years ago, not everyone and their 80 year-old grandmother had a smartphone. Oh, how times have changed! You can now unlock your car, pay for dinner, find directions, figure out your heart rate, listen to Katy Perry and break up with a boyfriend all with one little accessory. America! What a country! If the smartphone came equipped with breath spray and built-in sunglasses, we wouldn’t even need the latest Michael Kors bag anymore. Which would make life easier, but much less attractive.

Wedit is the latest accessory for the soon-to-be-married crowd. This genius idea, (started in the olden days of 2008), allows wedding guests to record even the smallest moments of the big day, ship the footage to the folks at Wedit, and either have a video edited by the Wedit pros or receive the tools necessary to edit the footage themselves. At approximately $500, the Wedit video is significantly less expensive than hiring a crew; with the average cost of a wedding videographer hitting the $2200 mark, the savings is a gift in itself.

So – how, exactly, does Wedit work? The Tuesday before the wedding, the bride and groom receive five high-definition iPod touch cameras and designate their most kind, trustworthy, sober friends to record any and all parts of their wedding celebration (except maybe that nasty exchange with a little sister and the inter-workings of a spray tan). The iPod Touch allows for both video with sound and photography, a great option for those couples who are on a tight budget and want to use Wedit for both their video and photo needs.

Once everything has been recorded, the couple sends the cameras back to Wedit (by the Tuesday following their event) and the pros upload all of the footage. Then the couple can either edit the videos themselves or pay an additional fee for Wedit to do it for them.

Wedit then hosts the videos on their site for a year, allowing couples the chance to force friends and family to watch their wedding video an obscene amount of times which is all fair in love and weddings. After a year, Wedit takes the video off of their site, but the couple will have a copy for keeps. One-stop shopping for that once-in-a-lifetime day is fantastic. And the five hundred bucks is just icing on the wedding cake.

Sour Cherries Offer A Sweet Dessert

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I recently made this fantastic Sour Cherry Crisp. At least I think it is fantastic, considering I didn’t eat it. No, no, not because I lack a sweet tooth (by now we all know that is a complete and total falsehood), but because I am gluten-free and was out of almond flour and was therefore very SAD. Sad, I tell you.

But every single person in my house devoured it, so I have proof that it was delicious.

The great thing about this recipe is that it’s simple; all of the ingredients (besides the cherries) are in most kitchens. The other great thing about this recipe is that I actually have a cherry tree in my backyard, so I sent my four little minis out to pick lots and lots of cherries. This kept them busy for hours. Then how SAD was I? Not sad at all, I tell you.

Once the cherries were picked, we washed them and then pitted them, which offers a lot of opportunities for smashing, smushing, and comparing cherries to various body parts. The boys took the lead on this, because in this one instance, boys are better than girls.

Fresh Sour Cherry Crisp

Serves: 10

Prep Time: Depends on if you, too, have a cherry tree in your backyard and in-home child labor – if cherries are store bought, approximately 20 minutes

Bake Time: 45 minutes

Ingredients: 

  • 4 cups pitted sour cherries
  • 5 cups white sugar
  • 4 tablespoons all-purpose flour (if you are gluten-free like I am, and smart enough to have almond-flour in your pantry, not like I am, feel free to use it!)
  • 5 cups all purpose flour
  • 1 cup old-fashioned oats
  • 1 cup brown sugar
  • 1 cup butter

Directions:

  • Preheat oven to 375 degrees
  • In a large bowl combine cherries, white sugar and 4 tablespoons of flour
  • Pour into a 9X13 greased baking dish
  • In a medium bowl (let’s be honest here, folks, I used the same bowl – less dishes) combine 1.5 cups of all-purpose flour, oats and brown sugar
  • Cut in butter until mixture is crumbly and sprinkle over cherries
  • Bake in preheated oven until for 45 minutes or until the top is golden and bubbly
  • Serve with vanilla ice cream or greek yogurt

 Submitted by Stephanie Blackford

No Bake Fourth of July Desserts – Let Freedom (From the Kitchen) Ring!

As you may know, I am a fan of desserts. Like, if I were a teenager, I would have posters of cakes on my wall. It’s that bad.

But I am also a fan of feeding my crew healthy, non-food dyed, non-creepy-chemical eats. And that core belief is part of the Epicurean Group Bill of Rights created by our forefather. Real food for real people. God Bless America.

There are several holiday desserts that fit the – um – bill. Or at least almost fit the bill, with a  little modification. And these treats are simple enough to do quickly, don’t require an oven, and won’t cause that post-dessert guilt. I spend my life feeling guilty about the desserts. But those who can not do, teach. Here we go:

Love this portable dessert!

Directions:

  • Puree strawberries in a  blender with a little bit of agave
  • Place strawberries, organic vanilla or lemon yogurt, and blueberries in a mason jar or drinking glass
  • Chill
  • Serve

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If you want to steer clear of the fake stuff, use 100% real chocolate, organic pretzel rods, and  an all-natural food dye to create red, white, and blue pretzel sticks – and skip the sprinkles (they are a mess anyway).Warm chocolate on the stove, dip pretzel rods, and place rods on wax paper in the refrigerator for an hour.

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Alternate bananas, strawberries and blueberries to create this edible flag! This is a great project for little tykes – keeps them busy for a good 8 minutes!

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These are made with Rice Krispie treats, but you can swap out pineapple for the stars – making this a great breakfast, snack or dessert.

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Weddings: It’s Personal

Personalized weddings? We'll drink to that. Then again, we'll drink to anything.

Personalized weddings? We’ll drink to that. Then again, we’ll drink to anything.

 

If weddings should be anything, they should be personal, right? After all, it’s the one day you are pronounced husband and wife. The only other times you are pronounced something it involves words like ‘guilty’ or ‘dead’  – and that’s not nearly as much fun.

With sites like Etsy and tools like Pinterest (what would life be without you, Pinterest?) and caterers like Epicurean, each and every wedding can – and should – be unique. If you are going to celebrate becoming part of a couple, you might as well splash your new coupled name over everything. This is your one shot to be the center of attention (besides the guilty and dead days mentioned earlier, of course).

I love monograms and nameplates and initial jewelry and business cards and Sharpies that leave a permanent mark on pretty much anything. It may be because my mother called me ‘Amy’ for the first three weeks of life, though my birth certificate and every subsequent document since clearly states ‘Stephanie.’ True story.

There are fancy ways to personalize a wedding, and there are simple ways. So if you can’t swing a skywriter, try these tricks instead:

 

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A personalized send off.

Table numbers with personalized photos.

Table numbers with personalized photos.

Stir sticks from the newly married.

Stir sticks from the newly married.

A new twist on the guest book.

A new twist on the guest book.

Fun place cards!

Fun place cards!

Custom wine labels are savvy (and a sneaky way to serve less expensive wines).

Custom wine labels are savvy (and a sneaky way to serve less expensive wines).

Table runners with the couple's monogram is simple and sweet.

Table runners with the couple’s monogram is simple and sweet.

The traditional matchbook with a non-traditional look makes this keepsake more modern.

The traditional matchbook with a non-traditional look makes this keepsake more modern.

 

Peaches vs. Lima Beans – What’s In Your Margarita?

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Peaches are my favorite fruit. I even named one of my children Georgia. Granted, sometimes she is not all together peachy, but … anyway.

The sad thing about peaches is that they are only in season for a short time, so I spend these few weeks making memories with my beloved peaches. Peach pancakes, peach smoothies, peach cobbler, and peach margaritas, to name a few. The memories after the peach margaritas are a smidge fuzzy, but…anyway.

I am making this recipe tonight, if I can keep my crew of four (and their friends) away from the gorgeous peaches on my counter. Epicurean, as usual, is cooking and creating with seasonal items and our kitchens are chock full of this glorious fruit. The peach tarts I eyed the other day  could have been on the cover of a magazine. That’s the other great thing about peaches – they are pretty! Unlike lima beans which are – um – not. And lima bean margaritas just don’t have the same appeal, do they?

Speaking of magazines, this recipe comes from Real Simple. Enjoy.

Chicken with Grilled Peaches and Arugula 

Serves 4| Hands-On Time: 20m| Total Time: 20m
Ingredients

  • 4 6-ounce boneless, skinless chicken breasts
  • 2 tablespoons plus 1 teaspoon olive oil
  • kosher salt and black pepper
  • 2 medium red onions, sliced into 1/2-inch-thick rounds
  • 3 peaches, cut into wedges
  • 1 bunch arugula, thick stems removed (about 4 cups)
  • 2 tablespoons balsamic vinegar
  • 2 ounces blue cheese, broken into pieces

Directions

  • Heat grill to medium-high.
  • Brush the chicken with 1 teaspoon of the oil and season with ½ teaspoon each salt and pepper.
  • In a bowl, toss the onions, peaches, 1 tablespoon of the oil, and ¼ teaspoon each salt and pepper.
  • Grill the chicken and onions until the chicken is cooked through and the onions are tender, 5 to 6 minutes per side.
  • Grill the peaches until charred, 2 minutes per side.
  • Toss the arugula with the onions, peaches, vinegar, and remaining oil.
  • Top with the cheese.
  • Serve with the chicken.