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.

Ingredients

  • 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

Instructions

  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.
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Mushroom Barley Risotto

I had some leftover pearl barley and wanted to make something with it. I found a Mushroom Risotto recipe from the YouTuber, The Domestic Geek, that looked easy and perfect.

In general, it was very delicious and filling but I ended up cooking it for about 15 more minutes than the recipe called for. (I was waiting for more of the liquid to absorb) I also used vegetable broth because I could not find mushroom broth, but I bet the mushroom broth tastes better.

I pasted the recipe below for convenience.

Ingredients

  • 2 cups mushrooms, chopped
  • 2 cups leeks, chopped
  • 2 garlic cloves, minced
  • 2 tsp thyme
  • 1 cup pearl barley
  • 1/2 cup white wine (optional)
  • 4 cups mushroom or vegetable broth
  • 1/2 cup grated parmesan
  • 2 tbsp parsley
  • Oil
  • Salt & pepper

Instructions

  1. In a large saucepan, heat oil over medium-high heat.
  2. Add leeks and mushrooms. Cook until leeks have softened and the mushrooms begin to brown.
  3. Add garlic, thyme and barley. Cook for about 1 minute, until fragrant.
  4. Add white wine to deglaze the pan. (Skip if not using)
  5. Add broth and stir.
  6. Cover saucepan and simmer for 30-45 minutes, or until barley is cooked through and most of the liquid is absorbed.
  7. Add parmesan and parsley and mix well. Season with salt and pepper to taste.

Frangipane Tart

My husband and I watched a lot of the Great British Bake-off when it was put on Netflix and it inspired me to try out some of the recipes! One dessert that looked really delicious was the frangipane tart, which is a French tart with almond filling (called frangipane) that typically includes pieces of fruit. The best part is that you can choose whatever fruit you like or whatever is seasonal without modifying the base recipe. The finished dessert also looks gorgeous!

The tart was actually easier than I expected but there are many different steps and took a long time to make overall. I chose to put blackberries in my tart, but any sort of berry or sliced stone fruit (like peaches or apricots) would work really well.

I followed this recipe from Food 52, since it had a lot of great pictures to guide me. I pasted the recipe below for convenience. The recipe also explains how to make several small tarts but I made one big tart.

 

Ingredients (Crust)

  • 1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1/3 cup confectioner’s sugar
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 9 tbsp cold unsalted butter, cut into cubes
  • 1 egg yolk
  • 2 tbsp cold water

Instructions (Crust)

  1. In a food processor, add flour, sugar and salt. Pulse to combine.
  2. Add butter and pulse until butter is the size of small peas.
  3. Add yolk and pulse until evenly distributed.
  4. Add cold water and pulse until the dough starts to form.
  5. Lightly butter your tart pan. Gently press dough into the pan, making sure to evenly coat the bottom and sides. (You may have some leftover; use this to patch cracks in the crust later)
  6. Freeze the tart shell for 30 minutes.
  7. Preheat your oven too 375 degrees F.
  8. Bake the tart shell until lightly golden brown. This took about 10-12 minutes for me. If the shell puffs up while baking, just use a spatula to gently push it down.
  9. Cool the shell while you prepare the filling.

Ingredients (Filling)

  • 6 tbsp unsalted butter, soft
  • 1/2 cup sugar
  • 3/4 cup ground almonds (blanched or unblanched)
  • 1 egg, plus 1 egg white
  • 2 tsp flour
  • 1 tsp cornstarch
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract
  • 1 pinch salt
  • Your choice of fruit
  • Confectioner’s sugar, to finish

Instructions (Filling)

  1. In a food processor, add butter and sugar. Pulse until smooth.
  2. Add almonds and pulse until well combined.
  3. Add flour and cornstarch and pulse.
  4. Add egg and egg white and pulse.
  5. Add vanilla extract and salt. Pulse until just combined.
  6. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.
  7. Spread the frangipane filling into the cool tart shell so it comes up just below the edge. (You may have leftover)
  8. Arrange your fruit how you like on top of the filling. (Make it pretty!)
  9. Place the tart on a baking sheet and bake until crust and frangipane are golden, about 45-50 minutes.
  10. Cool on a wire rack.
  11. Dust with confectioner’s sugar right before serving.

 

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.

Ingredients

  • 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

Instructions

  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.

Honey Garlic Chicken and Veggies

I am now the owner of a slow cooker! I’m really excited to try out all of the delicious and easy slow cooker recipes everyone raves about. To start with, I found this chicken recipe from Damn Delicious that has lots of tasty ingredients and is somewhat healthy, too. I was nervous since I had never used a slow cooker before but it turned out great!

My fiance accidentally bought chicken drumsticks instead of thighs (like the recipe says), but it still turned out well. I decided to cook on low for 7-8 hours but there is a faster option, too. I think the broiling step adds a nice touch at the end, too.

I’ve posted the recipe below for convenience.

Ingredients

  • 8 bone-in, skin-on chicken thighs
  • 1 lb baby red potatoes, halved
  • 1 lb green beans, trimmed
  • 16 oz baby carrots
  • 1/2 cup reduced sodium soy sauce
  • 1/2 cup honey
  • 1/4 cup ketchup
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 tsp dried basil
  • 1/2 tsp dried oregano
  • 1/4 tsp crushed red pepper flakes
  • 1/4 tsp ground black pepper
  • 2 tbsp fresh parsley, chopped (optional)

Instructions

  1. In a bowl, combine soy sauce, honey, ketchup, garlic, basil, oregano, red pepper flakes and black pepper.
  2. Put the chicken thighs, potatoes, carrots and soy sauce mixture into your slow cooker.
  3. Cover and cook on low heat for 7-8 hours or on high heat for 3-4 hours.
  4. Baste once every hour.
  5. During the last 30 minutes of cooking, add the green beans.
  6. Preheat oven to broil. Put chicken legs onto a baking sheet (skin side up) and broil until crisp, about 3-4 minutes.
  7. Serve chicken and vegetables with parsley on top.

Three Cheese Zucchini Stuffed Lasagna Rolls

I’ll admit, my fiance and I have done a lot of eating out lately, which is not the healthiest choice. We wanted to get back to cooking at home and I’ve been getting lots of healthy inspiration from Skinnytaste. Particularly, we wanted to try this amazing lasagna roll recipe which allows you to still enjoy cheese and pasta without that many calories. It’s also pretty similar to another Skinnytaste recipe we loved, Stuffed Chicken Rollatini. I’m a big zucchini fan, so I love how lots of healthy recipes use it!

The lasagna was a big hit and it was also incredibly filling! The leftovers refrigerated well, so we were able to enjoy it for many days after. I’ve posted the recipe below for convenience but I highly recommend checking out the Skinnytaste blog for more recipes.

Ingredients

  • 8 lasagna noodles (I used Barilla)
  • 1 tsp olive oil
  • 3 cloves garlic, minced
  • 2 medium zucchini, grated & squeezed dry
  • 1 cup + 2 tbsp part skim riccotta cheese
  • 1/2 cup grated parmesan cheese
  • 1 large egg, beaten
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • Pepper
  • 1 3/4 cups marinara sauce (I used Classico)
  • 1/2 cup shredded part-skim mozzarella cheese
  • Fresh basil (optional)

Instructions

  1. Preheat your oven to 350 degrees F.
  2. Cook the lasagna noodles according to box instructions.
  3. Ladle 1 cup of marinara sauce into your baking dish and spread evenly.
  4. In a medium nonstick skillet, saute the garlic and olive oil over medium heat for 1 minute.
  5. Add zucchini and salt and pepper (to taste) and saute for 4-5 minutes or until soft.
  6. In a medium bowl, combined the cooked zucchini, riccotta cheese, parmesan cheese, egg, salt and pepper.
  7. Dry the lasagna noodles and lay each one flat.
  8. Take 1/3 cup of the zucchini and cheese mixture and spread evenly over each noodle.
  9. Roll up each lasagna and place in the baking dish, seam side down.
  10. Ladle the remaining sauce over the lasagna rolls. Top each roll with 1 tbsp of mozzarella cheese.
  11. Put foil over baking dish and bake for 40 minutes.
  12. Top with fresh basil and serve.

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.

Ingredients

  • 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

Instructions

  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.