Tuesday, March 9, 2021

Hearty Beef Barley Soup

It is still very cold in these parts, and snowed again a little bit yesterday.  When it's cold outside I hibernate inside where it's warm and cozy.  So on that note, it was a great day to make a pot of soup and I got to work in my kitchen.  My kitchen is my favorite place to be, it's my fun, creative play space! 
I had all of the ingredients for my soup in my pantry, I keep everything stocked up at home.  There is one thing that bothers me most when I'm cooking, if I need an ingredient, I don't have it, and I have to stop what I'm doing and run to the store and get it.  Puts a damper on cooking.
I do have to say my soup did turn out fabulous! I served it up with a crusty sourdough bread. The hubby was in love all over again and enjoyed every last spoonful of my tasty winter meal.
Recipe Below.

A few simple ingredients for a wonderful hearty soup.
I dusted my beef with a little flour to thicken the soup a bit.
Brown the meat in olive oil.
Looking good.
Beef broth in along with my veggies.
Thyme, bay leaf, salt and pepper gives a special flavor to my soup.
Medium grain barley. 
No pre-cook on the barley, just drop it in the soup and let it cook in there.
And there it is, the tastiest bowl of winter soup I have had in a long time.  It's filling, warms you and the belly and is also good for you, what more could you ask for.  ENJOY!

Hearty Beef Barley Soup
2 tablespoons olive oil
1 1/2 lbs beef cubes, cut into small pieces
1/3 cup flour
1 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon black pepper
1 teaspoon garlic powder
2 32 oz. containers beef broth, can also use stock, I use low salt
2 large carrots, diced
2 large stalks celery, diced
1/2 large onion, diced
1 small can sliced mushrooms, drained, can use fresh if you like
3 large cloves garlic, minced
2 teaspoons thyme
3 large bay leaves
2/3 cup barley

Heat oil over medium high heat in a large Dutch oven.  In a resealable bag add the beef, flour, salt, pepper and garlic powder.  Shake the bag until all the meat is coated.  Add meat to the heated oil in the Dutch oven.  Brown the meat until all sides are seared.  Add the beef broth, carrots, celery, onion, mushrooms, garlic, thyme and bay leaves.  Cover and simmer on medium heat, stirring occasionally, for 45 minutes. Stir in the barley and cook for another 30 minutes until the barley is tender.  Serve with a crusty bread. 


Monday, March 8, 2021

Spinach Apple Cranberry Salad for 2

I made myself a list of dinners to make to keep our meals less boring around here.  I get tired of the same old dinners all the time and thought why not do things a little different, break up the monotony.  This past year with the quarantine going on, social distancing, locked in and restaurants being closed, we eat all of our meals at home now and don't have the variety that restaurants have to offer.  I use to enjoy taking a night off of cooking dinner and going out to eat with the hubby on a Friday or Saturday night.  That doesn't happen now, but hopefully we can get back to that soon.

  Cooking all your meals at home takes a lot of creativity so it doesn't get boring.  I have never been the cook that has to have a pasta meal on Sunday, just because it's Sunday.  I like variety, it is the spice of life in my world.  I let my taste buds guide me to what I will make for dinner when I get up in the morning.  I go to my freezer pull out what I want and plan what sides, if any, I'll prepare to go with my meal. I'm lucky in the sense that my hubby will eat anything I put in front of him, he's good that way, hahahaha! Once, we had breakfast for dinner, he thought that was exotic.

Last night I made this Spinach Salad with Apples, Cranberries, Grilled Chicken and Bacon for dinner.  It was easy, and what I thought would be good in it I had in the fridge or pantry.  I put it together in just a few minutes and it was not only filling it was very tasty.
Recipe Below.
I started layering all my ingredients in a bowl.  I tossed in a little spring mix with my spinach, I'm crazy that way.
Cranberries, candied walnuts and a fresh Gala apple.
I used this Chicken as a shortcut, just heated it up in a frying pan.
One bag was good for two nice sized salads.
Add the chicken and feta cheese, because feta is always good.
And bacon, because that too always makes everything better.  I crisp this up in the microwave for added crunch.
Add the chicken.
And I used this gem of a dressing I found at Shady Maple an Amish grocery store.  You could probably make your own, although I don't have the amounts of the ingredients, you would have to use your taste as your judgement.  The ingredients are - apple cider vinegar, sugar, water, crushed red pepper, apple sauce, cinnamon, salt and apple juice.  Shake in a bottle or whisk it all together, season to your taste. Feel free to use any of your favorite dressings, a honey mustard or balsamic vinaigrette is good with it too.  
My salad topped with dressing and plain crispy wontons.  It was delicious!

Spinach Apple Cranberry Salad for 2 
1 9 oz. bag Perdue short cuts chicken strips
1 small bag fresh spinach
1 small box spring mix greens
1 large Gala apple
2 teaspoons lemon juice
3/4 cup dried cranberries
1/2 cup glazed walnuts - or nut of your choice
1 cup feta cheese
1/4 cup bacon crumbles- crisp up in the microwave
Salad Dressing of your choice
1 cup crispy tortilla strips

In a frying pan over medium heat, warm up the chicken strips and break them into smaller pieces as they heat. Set aside.

Divide the spinach between two large bowls.  Toss some spring mix with the spinach in each bowl.  Cut the apple in half and core it, cut into chunks and toss with the lemon juice.  Divide the apple, cranberries, walnuts, chicken, feta cheese and bacon between the two bowls.  Pour on the dressing and top with the crispy tortillas. Enjoy!