Thursday, September 30, 2010

Hamburger with Barley Soup!

First off, let's acknowledge the obvious.

1) This is my first post! But..... I've already make a major mistake, which leads me to
2) I forgot to take a picture.

I know, I know, I blew it. Still, this soup is so good (and easy!), that I'm going to share it anyway.

HAMBURGER with BARLEY SOUP Serves 8 (or my 14 year-old son and 2 others)

1 lb. lean ground beef
1/4 C chopped onion
1 C chopped carrots
1 C chopped celery
1 C chopped cabbage
1 28 oz. can chopped tomatoes
28 oz water
1/3 C uncooked barley
4 tsp beef bouillon base (I used 4 cubes instead)
1/2 tsp basil
1/2 tsp thyme
Salt and pepper to taste
1 T brown sugar
2 T vinegar

In large pot, brown beef. Add everything else, except the brown sugar and vinegar. That's IT! Just simmer for an hour, add the flavor-boosting sugar and vinegar, and you're finished. (Niki finds the idea of sugar and vinegar in soup repulsive, but I say try it! I bet you change your mind.)

My family doesn't exactly do a happy dance when they find soup on the dinner table, but they loved this. Dan remembered me making it when the kids were little, and (uncharacteristically) mentioned how much he liked it after dinner and again this morning.

This soup is very forgiving. I have made it as written, or with adjustments. This time I put in a whole onion, and extra broth, as I only had half the tomatoes called for. No problem!

I served it with sourdough bread (buttered and browned in the broiler), then gave them a pumpkin-chocolate chip muffin for dessert. I love Fall!

Sunday, September 26, 2010

Dueling Beef Soup Recipes

My mom sent me this AMAZING recipe from a Penzey's Spices magazine. She and I each altered the recipe slightly, and our version is the one below called "Beefy Mushroom Barley Soup". Then, I stumbled upon a similar sounding recipe in the Everyday Food magazine and decided to try it. It was equally delicious, though it had a different more roast-y flavor. Yes, on this blog "roast-y" is a word. I couldn't decide which recipe I should submit for the blog, so I'm including BOTH. Lucky you! The Everyday Food one is altered to include my preferences, and it's called "Roasted Beef, Mushroom and Barley Soup".

Beefy Mushroom Barley Soup

1 lb. lean beef, cut into 1-inch cubes
2 tbsp. olive oil
1 medium onion, coarsely chopped
10 oz. fresh mushrooms, sliced
3 large carrots, sliced
1 cup pearl barley
7 cups of beef broth
1 cup dry red wine (can be omitted and one additional cup of beef broth substituted)
2 tsp. salt
1/2 tsp. pepper
1 cup frozen peas (I omitted these nasty things)
2 tsp. fresh lemon juice

1. Heat the olive oil in a stock pot over medium-high heat. Add the beef and saute until brown. Transfer the meat to another dish.

2. Add the onions and the mushroom to the pan drippings and cook until the onions are golden. Return the beef to the pot.

3. Stir in the carrots, barley, broth, wine, salt, and pepper and bring to a boil. Reduce the heat to medium-low and simmer, partially covered, until the beef and barley are tender, about 45 minutes.

4. Stir in the peas and cook, uncovered, until tender, about 5 minutes.

5. Remove from the heat, stir in the lemon juice, tast and add more salt if desired.


Roasted Beef, Mushroom, and Barley Soup

1 lb. sirloin steak, cut into 1/2" pieces
1/2 lb. sliced mushrooms
2 shallots, coarsely chopped
2 tbsp. extra-virgin olive oil
salt and pepper to taste
4 cups low-sodium chicken broth
1/2 cup quick-cooking barley

1. Preheat oven to 425 degrees.

2. In a bowl, toss together the steak, mushrooms, shallots, and olive oil. Spread them in a single layer on a rimmed baking sheet and season with salt and pepper. Roast in the oven until the beef and mushrooms are browned, about 25-30 minutes.

3. Scrape into a medium pot (including the brown stuff on the bottom of the pan) and add the broth and barley.

4. Bring the mixture to a boild over medium-high, then reduce heat and simmer until barley is soft, about 12-15 minutes. Season with salt and pepper if desired.

Saturday, September 25, 2010

Macaroni & Cheese That Will Make Joslyne Shudder with Revulsion

I made this after buying some of the Kraft-brand processed cheese stuff (like the Velveeta cheese) that I bought in a vain attempt to figure out a way to get Charlotte (my 2.5-year old) to eat mac & cheese with healthier pasta than comes with the boxed stuff. This recipe was inside the box, so I gave it a whirl. Joslyne doesn't believe that processed cheese is an actual food, so I'm posting this just to make her skin crawl. You're welcome, sweetie! I altered the directions a little after realizing places they were a little unclear


1/4 cup (1/2 stick) butter or margarine, divided
1/4 cup flour
1 cup milk
8 oz. Kraft Deluxe Pasteurized Processed American Cheese, cut up
2 cups elbow macaroni, COOKED AND DRAINED*
1/2 cup shredded cheddar cheese**
1/4 cup crushed Ritz crackers***

1. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.

2. Crush the crackers. Melt 1 tbsp. butter and stir it in with the crackers. Set this aside.

3. Boil the pasta until it is al dente and drain it. Dump it into a large bowl. (Do this before the next step because everything starts happening really fast and you don't have time to monitor and drain the pasta.)

4. Melt 3 tbsp. of the butter/margarine in a medium saucepan on medium low heat. Add the flour and mix well. Cook 2 minutes or until bubbly, stirring occasionally. Gradually add the milk, whisking until well-blended. Cook on medium heat until mixture boils and thickens, stirring CONSTANTLY. Add the processed cheese chunks; cook until melted, stirring frequently.

5. Dump the cheesy sauce onto the macaroni and mix until all of the pasta is covered. Spoon into a 2-quart casserole dish. Sprinkle with the cheddar cheese and then the buttery cracker crumbs.

6. Bake at 350 degrees for 20 minutes or until heated through. Makes 5 servings according to the original recipe, but I think this only applies if you have the superhuman portion-control discipline of my tiny mother-in-law or have some really kick-butt side dishes to go along with it (other than the canned green beans I served).

* I used Ronzoni Smart Taste rotini instead of the elbow macaroni, and it was very fun.

** I used shredded "Mexican Blend" cheese instead of the cheddar because that's all we had. It was yummy.

*** I used saltines because I didn't have any Ritz, and it tasted pretty darn good to us.

The recipe turned out really good, but unfortunately Charlotte had eaten her afternoon snack a little too close to dinner and didn't eat very much. CURSES. Foiled again. Maybe next time. Peter, my 9-month-old, loved it, so I declared him the favorite child that evening. Just kidding. He was declared the favorite child of the year.

Tuesday, September 21, 2010

Eggs in a Tomato

Holy moly, people-- this dish is SO good.... I adapted it from a recipe I found in Martha Stewart's Everyday Food magazine (thank you, Niki, for the subscription!). But it has one tiny flaw, at least when I make it: it's a bit watery. Andrew and I have discussed several ways to sop up some of the liquid (put some tiny croutons or uncooked rice in with the corn?), and I'm interested to see if those will work, so I'm going to try them in the future. What other ideas can we come up with on this blog to make the guts of the recipe less watery?


4 large, firm tomatoes
Kosher salt
Ground pepper
1/3 cup niblets canned corn
4 eggs
1 1/2 teaspoons minced fresh chives
1/2 cup grated Parmesan or pecorino cheese

1) Preheat the oven to 350 degrees and line a 9 inch square baking dish (or a pie plate) with parchment paper.

2) Slice off the top 1/2 inch of each tomato with a sharp knife (a serrated knife works well). Use either a spoon, a melon baller, or one of those grapefruit spoons to scoop and carve out the inner ribs and seeds of the tomatoes, creating the tomato version of a bread bowl. Don't break through the outside of the tomato unless you want the egg mixture to leak everywhere! Place tomatoes on the parchment paper in the dish/plate and season well with the Kosher salt and ground pepper.

3) Put 1/4 of the corn in each tomato.

4) Whisk together the eggs and chives, then divide them among the tomatoes. Top each egg mixture with 1/4 of the cheese.

5) Bake until the egg mixture is set (about 45-50 minutes).


So, there you have it-- a really, really yummy dinner for two people (serve with rice, orzo, or toasted bread), or breakfast for 3 or 4 people. Let me know your ideas to solve the watery-ness problem. Maybe when you make it, it won't turn out watery.... Maybe I'm not scooping out enough of the insides of the tomato? Help! It just goes to show you how yummy this recipe is if I keep making it despite the watery issue.

And here's a gratuitous shot of my bestest little buddy, my daughter:

Sonia already loves scrambled eggs and cheese, so I'm going to see if she likes this next time I make it!

Sunday, September 19, 2010


My husband took one bite of dinner and then turned around to spit it out directly into the trash can. There may have also been slight gagging.


See if I ever reheat soggy two-day-old enchiladas (that kind of sucked in the first place) for him again. So there!

Apple Cake with Cream Cheese Frosting

Apple Cake

  • 1 cup sifted all-purpose flour
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/2 cup plain yogurt
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1/4 cup butter or margarine, melted
  • 1/2 cup packed brown sugar
  • 1/4 cup white sugar
  • 1 egg
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 2 cups chopped apple
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon

  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Grease a 9x9 inch pan. In a small bowl stir together flour, baking soda, salt, and 1/4 teaspoon of cinnamon.
  2. In a large bowl, mix together melted butter, brown sugar, white sugar, and yogurt with a wooden spoon until smooth. Stir in the egg and vanilla. Add the splash of apple juice.
  3. Blend in the flour mixture, then stir in the apples. Spread the mixture evenly into the pan.
  4. Bake for 25 to 30 minutes in preheated oven. When done the cake should spring back when lightly poked.

Cream Cheese Topping
3 ounces cream cheese, softened
3 tablespoons butter, softened
1 1/2 cups confectioners sugar
1/2 teaspoon vanilla

Mix all ingredients and then beat until smooth. Gently frost the cooled cake and then refrigerate.

Friday, September 17, 2010

Pasta Pomodoro

I got this AWESOME pasta recipe from Runner's World magazine. It's easy, way better than canned sauce, and soooo goooood. Even Zoey liked it. Also great for freezing and using later.

Pomodoro Sauce

1/4 cup olive oil
3 garlic cloves, crushed
3 16 ounce cans of peeled, whole Italian plum tomatoes
1 teaspoon Italian seasoning
1 Teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
red pepper flakes (to taste)

Heat oil in saucepan over medium. Add garlic and saute until golden brown. While garlic browns, put tomatoes in a bowl -- squeeze with your hands to break them up*. Add tomatoes and juice to the saucepan. Add all seasoning/spices. Simmer for 45 minutes. Sauce should be bright red throughout all cooking. If it turns brick red it is too thick. Just add water.

Pomodoro Pasta

Boil your choice of pasta in salted water. Two minutes before it's cooked, drain and add to simmering Pomodoro sauce. Cook until tender; allow pasta to absorb sauce. Drizzle with olive oil and sprinkle with your choice of cheese.

* Zoey LOVED doing this part

Monday, September 6, 2010

Butter Chicken

A friend of mine, who can cook, gave me this recipe for a yummy south Asian chicken dish. The bonus with this recipe is that I have left out major ingredients, like cream, and it still turned out tasty. The real cook makes it slightly differently every time, so don't worry if you fudge the ingredients or measurements just a little.

1 onion chopped
1 tsp ground cumin
1 tbsp ground coriander
1 tsp curry powder
1 tsp chile powder
4 cloves fresh garlic or 2 tsp garlic paste
1 tsp ginger powder
1/2 cup light cream
1 cup tomato sauce (thin)
1 tsp butter
olive oil
2 pounds boneless chicken (cut into bite sized pieces) - - I buy chicken breasts and cut them up
fresh cilantro (if you are feeling fancy)
basmati rice

helpful hint born of hectic cooking experience: Combine all the spices in a little bowl before you start cooking and dump them into the dish at the opportune moment.

2nd helpful hint born of hectic cooking experience: Rinse, pat dry, and chop chicken before you start cooking.

1. Fry onions in oil until onions turn light brown.
2. Add garlic and fry. Then add spices.
3. Add chicken. Stir well.
4. When chicken is light brown, add tomato sauce and 1/2 cup water.
5. Cook on low-medium, covered, for 25 minutes, stir occasionally.
6. Add cream and let simmer for 10-15 minutes. (also good without cream)
7. Add butter.
8. Garnish with fresh cilantro and serve with basmati rice.

Friday, September 3, 2010

Chicken and Broccoli Pasta Bake

My first ever post on a here goes!!

Serves 4 adults

4 chicken breasts
3 cups of broccoli florets
1 onion
2 cloves of garlic
splash of white wine (optional)
8oz of whole grain pasta (any type will do)
2 tbsp butter
2tbsp flour
2 cups milk
1 tbsp wholegrain mustard
juice of half a lemon
1 cup of parmesan cheese

1. Pre-heat oven to 400F

2. Finely chop the onion and cook on a medium heat for 5-6 in 1 tbsp olive oil until translucent. Add crushed garlic and cook for a further 2 minutes.

3. Add chopped chicken breasts (about 1 inch pieces) and stir until colored (2-3 minutes).

4. Add splash of white wine (if using) and raw broccoli florets and cook for a further 5 minutes or until the chicken is just cooked through.

5. Meanwhile, cook the pasta according to the instructions less 1 minute.

6. Whilst pasta is cooking, make the white sauce. Melt the butter in a saucepan and once melted, add the flour. Stir and let the flour absorb all of the butter and cook for 1-2 minutes, stirring all the time. Whisk in the milk bit by bit, waiting for the liquid to be completely absorbed before adding any more. If you don't be patient at this stage, you'll get lumps. Stir continuously until the sauce begins to thicken (this will only take 2-3 minutes on a medium heat). If you let the sauce go too far, just add a little more milk.

7. Add the mustard and lemon juice and stir well.

8. Add the cooked pasta and chicken/broccoli mix to the white sauce and then pour into a casserole dish. Grate the parmesan cheese over the top and put in the oven for 30 minutes or until the sauce is bubbling and the cheese has turned golden brown.

A different twist on this recipe is to use 4 pieces of haddock (about 6-8oz each) and 10oz spinach instead of the chicken and broccoli. Cook the onions and garlic as above, add the spinach and wilt for 2-3 minutes and then add to the white sauce and pasta. Mix and then add cubes of the raw fish and cook in the oven as above until the fish is cooked through (about 20-25 minutes) and the sauce is bubbling.

I served with a crunchy green salad with some sun dried tomatoes. Easy-peasy and very delicious!!