Beef and Barley Soup

My husband loves soups, especially ones that are thick and hearty. We had some leftover barley and I found a super easy recipe from one of my favorite YouTube chefs, The Domestic Geek. She unfortunately didn’t write a blog post about the recipe, so here is the YouTube video:

The recipe was super easy to put together before you just let it cook for ~40 minutes. I thought it tasted great but my husband absolutely loved it and ate two bowls. Overall, it’s not a quick meal but is perfect to save for a cold weekend.

I ended up using a bit more carrots and celery than she suggested and it turned out even more hearty and thick. I used a dutch oven like she did but I’m sure you could use a big pot instead. I also probably didn’t cut my steak cubes small enough; make sure they are bite sized!

I’ve pasted the recipe below for convenience.


  • 1 lb sirloin steak, cut into 1/2 inch cubes
  • 1 onion, diced
  • 3 carrots, peeled and diced
  • 1 celery stalks, chopped
  • 4 garlic cloves, minced
  • 9 cups beef broth
  • 1 tsp thyme
  • 1 bay leaf
  • 1 tsp Worcestershire sauce
  • 1 cup pearl barley
  • 1 tbsp parsley, chopped
  • oil
  • salt and pepper


  1. Season beef well with salt and pepper.
  2. In a Dutch oven, heat a drizzle of oil on high heat.
  3. Add beef and brown on all sides. Transfer beef to a bowl and set aside, leaving behind all the juices and browned bits.
  4. Reduce heat to medium-high and add onions, celery and carrots. Cook 2-3 minutes.
  5. Add garlic and cook until fragrant.
  6. Add Worcestershire sauce, thyme, bay leaf and barley. Cook for 30 seconds.
  7. Add broth. Bring to a boil and reduce to simmer.
  8. Cover with a lid and simmer for 35-40 minutes, or until barley is cooked through.
  9. Remove bay leaf. Stir in parsley and serve.

Polish Stuffed Cabbage (Gołąbki)

I grew up in a Polish family and one dish my mom always made was gołąbki (pronounced like goWUMPkee), or stuffed cabbages. They are a huge comfort food for me, but they are both labor and time intensive. (At least 2-3 hours to prepare and cook) My mom would surprisingly make them for weekday dinners! However, I save them for the weekend and make a big batch. (Plus, they reheat great as leftovers)

My mom made them with minced meat and rice filling and a tomato sauce on top, but there are other variations. For example, for Wigilia (Polish Christmas Eve), my aunt makes a vegetarian variation with mushroom and rice filling. However, I much prefer the tomato and meat version!

See the recipe below. My recipe is mostly from my mother, but I’ve also taken inspiration from other Polish recipes I’ve found. You can also cook these in a deep pan if you want but I find it comes out best in the oven.


  • 1 head of cabbage
  • 1/2 lb ground beef & pork mix (like meatball mix or just ground beef)
  • 1 onion, diced
  • 1 egg
  • 3 cups cooked white rice (from 1 cup dry rice)
  • 1 can tomato sauce
  • Salt & pepper


  1. Preheat your oven to 400 degrees F.
  2. Boil the cabbage in a large pot of water until it is soft, about 5-10 minutes. Take out and allow it to cool.
  3. In a frying pan, heat up a small drizzle of oil or a small pat of butter. Fry the ground meat and onion until browned.
  4. In a bowl, mix the cooked rice, ground meat, onion, egg and salt and pepper. Feel free to add more seasoning if you want to taste.
  5. After the cabbage has cooled, peel off the cabbage leaves.
  6. Grease a baking dish and cover the bottom with the outermost leaves.
  7. Put a small amount of meat and rice mixture into the center of each cabbage leaf. Fold two opposite sides toward the center and roll up from the bottom to create a small cabbage roll.
  8. Put each cabbage roll into the baking dish, creating tight rows of side-by-side rolls.
  9. Pour the tomato sauce over the rolls. You want the liquid to fill about halfway up the dish. Add some vegetable broth or water if you need more liquid
  10. Cover the dish with foil and bake in the oven for about 1 hour 30 minutes.
  11. Serve each roll with a bit of tomato sauce on top.

Italian Meatloaf with Sun-dried Tomatoes and Green Beans

This was another Hello Fresh recipe that I enjoyed and it was easy and quick to put together. The recipe also included mash potatoes but you can prepare them however you like. My husband and I enjoyed it, even though I don’t usually like meatloaf. I think the sun-dried tomatoes made it taste different enough that I liked it.

I don’t think there is an online version of the recipe so I’ve pasted it below for convenience. This recipe is meant for 2 people, but you can adjust it for the size of your family.


  • 1 shallot, minced
  • 1 clove garlic, minced
  • 1/2 tsp rosemary, finely chopped
  • 1 1/2 oz sun-dried tomatoes, finely chopped
  • 1 slice of white bread
  • 1/4 cup chicken stock
  • 8-10 oz ground beef
  • 6 oz green beans
  • olive oil
  • salt and pepper


  1. In a medium bowl, soak break in chicken stock, then break up the bread with your hands.
  2. Add beef, sun-dried tomatoes, shallot, garlic, rosemary and a large pinch of salt and pepper to the bowl. Mix with hands until combined.
  3. Form two oval loaves from the meat and place onto a lightly oiled baking sheet. Bake for 20-25 minutes, until cooked through.
  4. Mix a drizzle of olive oil, salt and pepper with the green beans.
  5. With 15 minutes left of cooking, add the green beans to the baking sheet around the meatloaves.

Beef Stroganoff

Growing up, I always loved dishes filled with meat and either potatoes or noodles, so Beef Stroganoff is a perfect dish for me. It’s originally from Russia, but this recipe I found from Simply Recipes has more of an American flair. It ended up being really delicious and really easy to make, plus the egg noodles make it very filling.

The recipe itself calls for sour cream, but says you can substitute it for yogurt if you want to make it slightly healthier. Since my fiance and I have been watching our diets, we opted for the yogurt substitute (full fat plain Greek yogurt, to be exact) and I’m glad to say it turned out well. It’s probably a bit more tangy than if you used sour cream, but we liked it! I also used No Yolks Egg Noodles, which are supposed to be a lower cholesterol version of egg noodles, and added some minced garlic. You can also use ground beef instead of sirloin or tenderloin, if you want. Egg noodles can be replaced by potatoes or any other starch.

I’ve copied the recipe below for convenience.


  • 5 tbsp butter
  • 1 lb top sirloin or tenderloin, cut into thin strips
  • 1/3 cup shallots, chopped (or onions)
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1/2 lb mushrooms, sliced
  • Salt & pepper
  • 1/8 tsp nutmeg
  • 1/2 tsp dry tarragon (or 2 tsp fresh tarragon)
  • 1 cup sour cream or full fat plain yogurt, at room temperature
  • 1 package egg noodles (about 8oz)


  1. Prepare egg noodles according to package. Drain and set aside.
  2. Melt 3 tbsp of butter in a large skillet over medium heat.
  3. Turn heat to medium high and add beef. Cook until brown, adding salt and pepper. Remove beef from pan and set aside.
  4. In the same pan, reduce heat to medium and add shallots and garlic. Cook for 1-2 minutes, until shallots soak up the meat drippings. Remove them from the pan and set aside with the beef.
  5. In the same pan, add the remaining 2 tbsp butter and melt.
  6. Increase heat to medium high and add mushrooms. Cook, stirring occasionally, for about 4-5 minutes. Sprinkle tarragon and nutmeg while cooking.
  7. Reduce heat to low and add sour cream. If you’re using yogurt, remove the pan from heat before adding. Mix it thoroughly with the mushrooms without letting it simmer or boil.
  8. Stir in the beef, shallots and garlic that was set aside. Add more salt and pepper to taste.
  9. Serve immediately over the cooked egg noodles.

Bolognese Sauce

I’m a big fan of pasta and when I’m craving a tomato based sauce, I usually make my simple meat sauce. On my most recent trip to Europe, I ate a few dishes that used bolognese sauce, which I mistakenly thought was very similar to my meat sauce. However, in addition to meat and tomatoes, bolognese sauce also contains carrots, celery and onions, as well as a few other things. These are all things that I like, so I wanted to give it a try.

I’ve mentioned Hilah before, who is a popular YouTube chef. She recently posted this video describing how to make pretty simple bolognese sauce:

I wanted to try her recipe because not only was it simple, but it also left out the usual cream ingredient in favor of putting more cheese on at the end. (It also recommended substituting the red wine with stock if you don’t like cooking with wine. For some reason, I’ve never really been into cooking with wine.) It does take about 2 hours to make, so you need a bit of time. (Not your quick weekday meal) However, it does make a huge amount of sauce that you can reheat very nicely. I used my food processor to chop up the onion, carrot and celery, which not only saved a lot of time but also made them the perfect consistency for the sauce.

I’m happy to say that it turned out really delicious! My boyfriend gave it two enthusiastic thumbs up. Since it takes a bit of effort, I’ll probably save it for weekend pasta meals and leave my meat sauce for the mid-week madness.

I’d recommend watching the YouTube video and her website has a recipe card you can print out. I’ve also pasted the recipe below for convenience, including some of the things I changed.


  • 1 box of your favorite pasta (I used linguine)
  • 1 oz bacon, minced
  • 1 tbsp olive oil
  • 1 large onion, minced
  • 2 carrots, minced
  • 2 celery stalks, minced
  • 1 tbsp garlic, minced
  • 1 lb ground beef (or half beef, half pork)
  • 1 cup red wine or beef stock
  • 4 cups tomato puree
  • 2 tsp dried oregano
  • 1 tsp dried basil
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1/2 tsp pepper


  1. Cook bacon in olive oil in a heavy bottomed pan over medium heat until well cooked.
  2. Add onions, carrots and celery. Cook about 10-15 minutes, until browned.
  3. Add garlic and cook for about a minute.
  4. Add meat and crumble. Cook for 10 minutes, stirring frequently, until browned.
  5. Add wine or stock and cook until the liquid is reduced by half.
  6. Add tomato puree, oregano, basil, salt and pepper.
  7. Cover and simmer for 1 hour. Make sure to stir occasionally (about every 15 minutes).
  8. Prepare pasta according to box. Drain and serve with sauce.

Beef Stew

Since my last recipe from Pioneer Woman was so successful, I decided to try out another one of her recipes: Sunday Night Stew. It’s essentially a beef stew served with mashed potatoes. (I even cooked it on a Sunday, too) It’s one of those dishes that takes a long time (about 3 hours) but it’s very delicious and filling. Plus, it reheated wonderfully to become Monday Night Stew. My boyfriend says it’s now one of his favorites.

This was actually my first time cooking with turnips and I was surprised by how hard they were to dice up. Fun story, the workers at my local supermarket didn’t even know what turnips were and when we eventually found them among the produce, they were mixed in with parsnips. Needless to say, they don’t have the best produce department …

I highly recommend taking a look at the actual blog post because there are a lot of great pictures and extra instructions. However, I’ve pasted the recipe here for convenience, minus the mashed potatoes part. (I used my own mashed potatoes recipe)


  • 3 tbsp olive oil
  • 1 tbsp butter
  • 2 lb beef stew meat
  • Salt & pepper
  • 1 medium onion, diced
  • 3-4 cloves of garlic, minced
  • 4 oz tomato paste
  • 4 cups low sodium beef stock or broth (I used broth)
  • A few dashes of worcestershire sauce
  • 1/2 tsp sugar
  • 4 carrots, peeled and diced
  • 2 turnips, peeled and diced
  • 2 tbsp fresh parsley, minced


  1. Add salt and pepper to your stew meat.
  2. Heat up the olive oil in a large pot. Add butter and melt.
  3. Brown half of the stew meat in the pot, about 2 minutes. Remove it from the pot and set aside, leaving the oils behind. Then brown the other half of the meat. Also remove it and set it aside, still leaving the oils behind.
  4. Add the onion and garlic to the pot. Stir and cook for 2 minutes.
  5. Add the tomato paste. Stir and cook for another 2 minutes.
  6. Add the beef stock/broth while stirring. Add the worcestershire sauce and sugar.
  7. Add beef, cover and bring to a simmer. Reduce heat. Simmer for 1 1/2 to 2 hours.
  8. Add the turnips and carrots. Stir and let simmer covered for another 30 minutes. If too thick, add some more stock/broth.
  9. Stir in parsley. Add more salt and pepper if needed.
  10. Serve with mashed potatoes. Sprinkle with more parsley when serving.

Beef and Bean Chili

Growing up, my mom never really made homemade chili and we usually just ate the canned kind. Now that I have this homemade recipe, I’ll never go back! I actually got this recipe from Hilah Johnson‘s book, Learn to Cook (which is a great reference for beginning cooks and has some good recipes, too), and it’s really delicious. It does take some time to make (up to 2 hours if you include the prep) so I usually save it for weekends, but it also makes a lot. (And reheats well!) You can make it as spicy as you want by adjusting how many jalapenos to add. I like to eat it with either bread, potatoes, tortilla chips or rice.

I copied the recipe here, with my modifications, for convenience.


  • 1 lb ground beef
  • 28oz can of diced tomatoes
  • 16oz can of tomato sauce
  • 1 onion
  • 6 gloves garlic, minced
  • 2-5 jalapenos, chopped
  • 1 tbsp ground cumin
  • 3 tbsp chili powder
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 15oz can of kidney beans


  1. Heat up a heavy bottomed pan with either cooking spray or a little bit of cooking oil.
  2. Add beef and break up into small chunks. Turn to medium-high heat and brown part way.
  3. Add everything else except the kidney beans and bring to a boil over medium heat.
  4. Reduce heat, cover and simmer for 1 hour.
  5. Add kidney beans. Add more salt or chili powder if you want. Simmer for another 30 minutes.