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Archive for the ‘Stews and Soups’ Category

Thank you for everyone’s support and prayers for my baby great nephew! His surgery was successful! He is still in the hospital, in recovery, but his sweet mom finally got to hold him a couple of days after the surgery and he has an amazing team of nurses, doctors, and specialists looking after him.

Beef and Barley Stew
Beef and Barley Stew

I am going to discuss a practice this week that I rarely take part in: Freezer Meals. Even when I had a busier schedule, I only made freezer meals a couple times a year. But for many families, they are very helpful, and on occasion I find myself wishing I froze more meals in advance, for days when I’m too tired or sick to deal with the prep work of a meal, or days when our schedule is just plain hectic. I love having a freezer meal option on days when we tackle big house projects, like painting. All the energy spent on home improvement zaps any desire to stand in the kitchen and cook!

This past Saturday, I spent the entire day in the kitchen on a sudden whim to prep as much as possible for the week’s upcoming meals. In one day I made or prepped:

  • Beef & Barley Stew (can be frozen, but I left mine in the refrigerator for Sunday’s dinner)
  • Chimichurri marinade for salmon steaks
  • Two Chicken & Spinach Pasta Casseroles
  • Chicken Tikka Masala (chicken boiled & cut, but meal assembled the next day for lunch)
  • Sour Cream Chicken Enchiladas
  • Green Chili Pork Stew (chopped meat & veggies, all frozen in separate freezer bags, then stored in one larger freezer bag, prepped and ready to be thrown in the slow cooker another day)
  • 8 cups of chicken broth, divided into portions.

That’s seven meals ready to go, plus a full 8 cups of chicken broth to have on hand for soups, stews, casseroles, and so on. I also restocked the cheeses in my freezer. I buy shredded cheeses in bulk for a lower unit cost, divide them into 1-cup portions, and freeze them. I always keep monterey jack, colby jack, cheddar, and mozzarella on hand for casseroles, enchiladas, tacos, quesadillas, lasagna, etc.

Beef and Barley Stew

BEEF AND BARLEY STEW
Serves 4; Stew can be doubled so half can be served immediately and half can be frozen
Downloadable PDF of Beef and Barley Stew

  • This stew can be frozen in individual portions and reheated in a microwave safe bowl or on the stovetop
  • Use frozen stew within 2-3 months
  • Options for freezing and reheating:
    • Freeze portions in individual freezer & microwave safe dishes, topped with foil, then tight-fitting lid. To reheat in the microwave straight from freezer, remove foil, vent lid, and thaw using the microwave’s defrost setting. Once stew and container have gently defrosted enough, microwave at 50% power for 2 – 4 minutes, stir stew, then microwave at full power an additional 1 – 2 minutes until thoroughly hot. Let sit for a minute, stir, then serve.
    • Freeze portions in individual sized freezer plastic bags. To reheat in the microwave, tear the bag away from the frozen stew, place frozen stew in microwave safe dish and follow above instructions. To thaw on the stovetop, tear bag away from frozen stew, place frozen stew in a saucepan, and heat over medium low heat until thawed. Increase heat to medium and simmer for about 5 minutes until stew is heated through and steaming hot.
    • Freeze one batch of stew in a large freezer safe container. To reheat, place container in refrigerator 24 hours before you want to serve the stew (the night before serving). Pour thawed stew into stock pot and reheat over medium heat, simmering at least 5 minutes, until heated through and steaming hot.
    • When putting a dish straight from the freezer to the microwave, I ALWAYS use the microwave’s defrost setting to thaw the dish and food gently. Many dishes will crack or even explode if exposed to extreme temperature changes so ALWAYS be careful.
  • In a large stock pot, heat 2 Tablespoons olive oil over medium heat
  • To the hot oil, add: 3/4 pound beef stew meat, cut in bite size pieces
  • Sprinkle stew meat with salt and black pepper to season while browning
  • While meat browns, dice 4 large carrots
  • Add diced carrots to browned meat and saute 4-5 minutes
  • To the carrots and meat, pour in 32 ounces low sodium beef broth
  • Add 1/2 cup barley to the soup
  • Stir in 12 ounces cream of mushroom soup (I use Pacific Organic brand, which has a wonderful, rich flavor)
  • Bring soup to a boil, cover and reduce heat to low
  • Simmer for 30 minutes or so
  • Serve immediately, or cool to freeze
  • Cool soup thoroughly in refrigerator before freezing
  • Divide into desired freezer-safe containers, label with date, name of meal, and reheating instructions, and freeze.

Beef and Barley Stew

This is one of my all time favorite stews for fall and winter. It’s so rich and hearty with very few ingredients. It freezes and reheats well, so it’s easy to double a batch and freeze half for later. I have been known to freeze portions of stews in individual microwave safe containers, take them to work, and heat them for lunch. They make an easy and filling homemade lunch at the office.

Remember to always, always ensure your dishes are microwave and freezer safe, and never subject them to sudden, extreme temperature changes for your safety. Exploding dishes are very dangerous. Also be sure to reheat food thoroughly, to steaming hot, to avoid food-bourn illnesses. Never freeze partially cooked meat. Freeze it raw, or fully cooked, never partially cooked. When in doubt, consult the United States Department of Agriculture Food Safety and Inspection Service’s website on Freezing and Food Safety.

Downloadable PDF of Beef and Barley Stew

~Ingredients to nourish the body put together in ways to nourish the soul to share with family and friends to nourish the heart~

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Saturday night was soup and pie night at our house. My dad, stepmom, and father-in-law came over for dinner and a little World Series watching. I can’t wait to repeat this meal next month with my hubby’s brother and his family. It’s definitely a meal worth sharing.

Soup Night
Bowls are ready and soup is simmering

Getting ready to boil the chicken
Ready to boil the chicken

Chicken and Noodle soup
Chicken and Noodle Soup

Fresh Vegetable Tray
Sugar snap peas and carrot sticks with buttermilk ranch

Covered Pecan Pie
Dessert

Pecan Pie
Pecan Pie

Pecan Pie Slice
Slice of the best pecan pie

I had been looking forward to making this soup for a while. It’s one my mom’s family makes every Thanksgiving. I can’t remember a Thanksgiving in Missouri without chicken and noodles. I don’t know who started making it, but it was my favorite dish at Thanksgiving when I was a kid. I don’t have the recipe, so I made my own version and it turned out excellent. Followed by the best pecan pie, and my hankering for my Thanksgiving favorites was satisfied. For now, anyway. The soup is really easy, and perfect to make on a lazy Sunday afternoon when you have time to let the chicken simmer for a long time. It makes your house smell amazing. Paired with a pecan pie baking in the oven, and you’ll be in aromatic heaven.

OLD FASHIONED CHICKEN AND NOODLES
Serves 8
Downloadable PDF of Old Fashioned Chicken and Noodles

  • Place in a 6-quart stock pot:
    • 2 bone-in split chicken breasts
    • 4 bone-in chicken thighs
    • 1 teaspoon salt
    • 30 cranks black pepper from a mill
    • 1 onion, peeled and quartered
    • 1 carrot, peeled and quartered
    • 2 extra-large (or 4 medium-large) garlic cloves, peeled and halved
    • 3 bay leaves
    • 1 handful fresh oregano, still on stem
    • 1 8-ounce container chicken stock
    • Water to cover everything by 2-3 inches, nearly filling the pot
  • Bring to a boil, then cover and reduce heat to low, and allow to simmer for 1 1/2 hours
  • Turn off heat and remove chicken breasts and thighs (carefully so the pieces stay in tact), place on a cutting board and set aside
  • Place a large strainer in a bowl large enough to hold all the cooking liquid
  • Pour cooking liquid through strainer into bowl to strain out all the vegetables and herbs
  • Discard the vegetables and herbs
  • Return cooking liquid to the pot
  • To the cooking liquid, add 2 teaspoons salt, or to taste, and another 8-ounce container chicken stock
  • Bring liquid to a rapid boil
  • Add 1 12-ounce package Reames brand frozen egg noodles
  • Boil for 20 minutes, stirring occasionally to separate noodles
  • While noodles are boiling, carefully remove and discard skin and bones from chicken pieces (the meat should simply fall from the bone after simmering for so long, but will be very hot to the touch near the bone)
  • Shred the chicken meat either with two forks or your hands (it’s so tender, it falls apart in my hands and takes only a few minutes to shred)
  • Set shredded meat aside
  • In a liquid measuring cup, whisk together:
    • 2 Tablespoons cornstarch
    • 1/2 cup water
  • Once the noodles have boiled 20 minutes, add the cornstarch slurry and continue to boil, stirring until soup thickens slightly
  • Add the shredded chicken, reduce heat to low, cover, and simmer to heat through
  • Serve immediately, or continue to simmer covered until ready to serve.

This soup is SOOO good. We served it with fresh sugar snap peas and carrot sticks on the side with buttermilk ranch for dipping, rosemary bread, and Hawaiian sweet rolls. I went for seconds of the soup and found an empty pot in the sink!

FOR THE PECAN PIE, I used this recipe by Eddy Van Damme that doesn’t use any corn syrup. And it is the best pecan pie recipe. Optional is adding brandy or rum. I don’t keep much alcohol in the house, so add 1/4 teaspoon rum extract instead. It adds the perfect depth of flavor to enhance the pecans. I ran out of brown sugar, so used 1/2 cup brown sugar, and 1 1/4 cups regular sugar with 2 Tablespoons molasses, which turned the custard portion a luscious, deep, dark brown. Baked in a fresh whole wheat pastry crust, and it was absolutely divine.

WHOLE WHEAT PASTRY CRUST
Downloadable PDF of Whole Wheat Pastry Crust

  • In a food processor, or large bowl, add:
    • 3/4 cup unbleached all-purpose flour
    • 1/2 cup whole wheat pastry flour
    • 1 teaspoon sugar
    • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • Cut 1 stick cold butter into small pieces, and to the flour mixture
  • Pulse processor until the butter creates coarse, peas-sized crumbs (if not using a food processor, use a pastry cutter, two forks, or your hands to cut the butter into the flour)
  • Add ice cold water, 1 Tablespoon at a time, and pulse/mix just until dough comes together
  • Flatten dough into a disc shape and place on plastic wrap
  • Dust with flour and roll out to a circle 2 inches larger than your pie dish
  • Lift plastic wrap from countertop, and turn over to gently position pastry in pie dish, gently pressing crust to the sides of the dish
  • Pull plastic from the sides only and gently cut away excess pastry from the top edge of the pie dish
  • Gently flute the top of the remaining crust, then gently return plastic wrap against sides of pastry and over the edge and refrigerate until ready to fill
  • If desired, roll out excess pastry remnants and free-hand cut 5 leaves and set on a plate, cover with wrap, and refrigerate to place in the center of the pie before baking. I use a toothpick to carve the veins of the leaves.

Pecan Pie Slice

What are your favorite Thanksgiving dishes?

Does your family have a special Thanksgiving dish?

~Ingredients to nourish the body put together in ways to nourish the soul to share with family and friends to nourish the heart~

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Posole

Fall weather and soup go hand in hand, which means I try to make a soup once a week now that we’re finally getting some fall-like weather. One of my hubby’s favorites is posole. My stepaunt makes the best, and I can’t come close to what she makes, but hubby and the kids love this version too.

I used this recipe, but halved it. I don’t like having tons of leftovers that I have to store or freeze. If I wasn’t home to cook dinner every evening, I’d be all about leftovers. But since I’m home, I like making something different every night. I also did not brown the meat before adding it to the slow cooker. I know many folks would say I’m losing flavor without browning it first, but it was still full of flavor and oh-so-tender without browning it.

SLOW COOKER POSOLE
Recipe from allrecipes.com
(we got 5 servings from the below modifications)
Downloadable PDF of Slow Cooker Posole

  • Chop 1/2 medium onion
  • Saute chopped onion in a dash of olive oil, or whatever oil you prefer, in a hot skillet
  • While onions are sauteing, cut pork
  • Cut 1 pound pork loin roast into cubes, 1-inch or smaller (I like mine smaller)
  • Place cubed loin roast into a 4-quart slow cooker
  • Top cubed meat with sauteed onion
  • Add:
    • 1 14.5-ounce can red enchilada sauce (I use La Victoria brand, mild)
    • 1 15.5-ounce can white hominy, drained
    • Using the empty enchilada sauce can, add 2 cans’ worth of water to the slow cooker
    • 1 4-ounce can diced green chilies
    • 2 cloves garlic, minced
    • 1/4 teaspoon cayenne pepper
    • 1 teaspoon dried oregano
  • Cook on low 6-7 hours, or until meat is tender
  • Add:
    • 2 Tablespoons dried cilantro
    • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • Cook on low an additional 30 minutes
  • While the soup finishes cooking, prepare home baked chips:
    • Preheat oven to 350 degrees
    • Cut 5 corn tortillas into strips
    • Cut the strips into pieces, so you have mostly squares of tortilla
    • Cover a baking sheet with foil
    • Very lightly spray the foil with olive oil or cooking spray
    • Arrange the cut tortillas onto the baking sheet – mine covered the entire sheet
    • Lightly spray with olive oil or cooking spray the tops of the tortilla pieces
    • Sprinkle lightly with salt
    • Bake at 350 degrees for 8-10 minutes or so, until lightly browned and crispy.
    • Remove from baking sheet and set aside to sprinkle onto bowls of soup
  • Serve soup topped with:
    • Splash of lime juice
    • Chopped avocado
    • Home baked tortilla chips
    • Sour cream

Posole

Yum! This soup is so easy, so tasty, and a perfect slow cooker meal for days when I’m too swamped to make dinner. This was the perfect amount to feed our family of four, and have just enough left over for hubby’s lunch the next day. (I have green smoothies for lunch every day, so I try to have something more substantial on hand for him.)

What’s your favorite soup?

Do you like making soups in the slow cooker?

Downloadable PDF of Slow Cooker Posole

~Ingredients to nourish the body put together in ways to nourish the soul to share with family and friends to nourish the heart~

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Green Chili Pulled Pork Stew

On Labor Day, hubby and I went out to lunch with my parents, aunt, and uncle in Marble Falls at a restaurant on the lake. One of the first items on the menu was a green chili pulled pork stew, and the description had hubby and me drooling. We didn’t actually order the stew, but the idea of roasted Hatch chilis, carrots, and potatoes slowly cooked all day with pulled pork was intoxicating. Intoxicating enough to attempt my own version at home.

I have no idea if this tastes like the stew at that restaurant we visited since we didn’t actually order the stew. But this version is incredibly delicious and satisfied our craving. It also passed the final test – both girls loved it! I was a bit surprised, thinking it may be too spicy for them, but B had seconds and E thought it was one of the best stews or soups she’s had recently. I will definitely be making this once the weather turns a bit colder in Central Texas. B has already planned to cuddle up in a blanket and sit on the porch in the chilly air with a hot bowl of green chili pulled pork stew. Sometimes, she says things that I would normally say, and I nearly forgot she’s not actually of my blood.

Pork Shoulder Boston Butt Roast
Seasoning the pork shoulder roast

Slow Cooked Pork Roast with Veggies
Slow cooked pork roast with veggies

Green Chili Pulled Pork Stew
Green chili pulled pork stew

GREEN CHILI PULLED PORK STEW
8-9 hours cooking time in a slow cooker; makes about 10 1-cup servings, give or take a bit
Downloadable PDF of Green Chili Pulled Pork Stew

  • In a 6-quart slow cooker, add:
    • 2 cups chicken broth
    • 1 3.5-pound pork shoulder roast, bone-in
    • 3 cloves garlic, slightly crushed but still whole
    • 3 large shallots, peeled
    • 3 large carrots, finely chopped
    • 1 large Yukon Gold potato, chopped, peel on, finely chopped
    • 1 teaspoon dried oregano
    • 1 teaspoon ground cumin
    • 1/2 teaspoon salt
    • Ground black pepper, about 20 cranks from a pepper mill
    • 2 bay leaves
  • Cook on low 7 hours
  • Remove shallots and garlic cloves and discard
  • Using tongs, pull roast out of slow cooker and place on cutting board
  • Using the tongs and a fork, begin pulling the pork apart, shredding it
  • Once it cools enough to handle with your hands, it’s easier to pull the meat apart with your hands
  • Discard excess fat and the bone
  • Return shredded meat to the slow cooker
  • To the slow cooker, add:
    • 2 4-ounce cans fire roasted diced mild Hatch green chilis* (see below for instructions to roast fresh peppers, if you prefer to use fresh instead of canned)
    • 1 teaspoon salt
    • 2 teaspoons dried cilantro
    • 1 teaspoon chili powder
    • 1/2 – 1 cup water, if needed
  • Continue cooking on low for 1 more hour or longer. I cooked mine an additional 2 hours since that’s when we were ready for dinner.
  • Remove bay leaves before serving
  • Serve over rice, if desired, or with warm flour tortillas for dipping, or with a Tablespoon of sour cream stirred in a cup of the stew.

ROASTED HATCH GREEN CHILIS, if using fresh instead of canned:

  • Preheat oven to 500 degrees
  • Line chilis in a baking dish and bake in oven until skin turns black (8-12 minutes or so)
  • Turn chilis and bake until other side of skin turns black
  • Immediately place chilis in a bowl and cover tightly with plastic wrap
  • Let sit for at least 15 minutes – I let mine sit all day until I was ready to use them
  • Peel the charred, steamed skins off the peppers
  • Remove stem and seeds
  • Finely chop flesh of pepper
  • The heat can irritate the skin on your hands so you may want to wear gloves
  • Remember not to touch your eyes after handling the peppers if you don’t wear gloves!

Green Chili Pulled Pork Stew

Mine and the girls’ favorite way to eat this is with a dollop of sour cream mixed in to add a little tang. I used my homemade chicken broth that I keep in the freezer in 2-cup portions. I just placed it in the bottom of the slow cooker frozen, and the meat on top of that and it thawed in no time. If using store-bought chicken broth, I recommend using low sodium.

I made a chicken soup in the slow cooker using a recipe from a popular woman’s magazine this past weekend, and the girls both told me that they liked the pulled pork stew better 😉

*Edited January 2012 to denote amount to use if using canned green chilis instead of fresh, to make the recipe easier.

What is your favorite stew or soup? I’d have to say this green chili pulled pork stew is a new family favorite. My favorite soup is the low sodium roasted red pepper and tomato by Pacific Organic – one of my standard lunches with a sandwich.

Downloadable PDF of Green Chili Pulled Pork Stew

~Ingredients to nourish the body put together in ways to nourish the soul to share with family and friends to nourish the heart~

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Wow – 2 weeks since my last post! That’s a sign that I’ve hit my busiest time at work. I’m an event manager for a literary and photography archive and exhibition gallery for a state university, coordinating scheduling of over 100 classes, tours, and events, managing all the minute details for each. The state university is 60 miles from where I live. I spend 3 hours a day driving to and from work, on top of the full day of work. Sometimes that full day is up to 12 – 13 hours of work when we have evening events. Our two major events were 10 days apart during these last two weeks, with other events scattered between. Yep, I’ve been busy. Tired. Exhausted, really. With allergies on top of it all. That equals no posts for the last two weeks.

But, that will all change this summer. I gave my notice at work. It’s official. My last day will be June 30. I’m nervous, worried, and happy all at the same time. This blog that started as a hobby is now allowing me to start a chapter of life working from home. I still can’t believe how awesome that is. I also plan on volunteering with the local farmers markets! I’m excited for the changes, but sad to leave those who’ve been my work family the last nearly 5 years. They’re the best co-workers anyone could ask for.

Chicken Noodle Soup

Tonight’s dinner was a soup good for those with a cold (that would be my hubby), with seasonings that also help digestive health (which always makes me happy). The basic recipe came from a friend of a friend, but as always, I tweaked it to fit my cooking style. Namely, where it calls for canned or boxed chicken stock, I used my homemade stock. Where it called for browning the chicken, I boiled my chicken to make that yummy chicken stock my family and I love so much. The seasonings, however, is where I stayed true to the written word.

CHICKEN NOODLE SOUP

  • Place 2 medium frozen chicken breast halves in a 6-quart stock pot.
  • Sprinkle with 1 teaspoon salt and about 1/4 or so teaspoon fresh ground black pepper.
  • Toss in 1/3 of a yellow onion, 2 cloves garlic cut in half, about 5 6-inch sprigs of oregano, 1 bay leaf, and the inner most celery ribs with the leaves (about 3 or 4 of the smallest).
  • Fill stock pot with water until the top 3 inches of the pot (so it doesn’t boil over).
  • Bring to a boil, boiling until the chicken is cooked through (about 10 – 20 minutes).
  • While the chicken boils, finely chop 3 medium carrots, 4 medium ribs of celery, and 1/2 yellow onion.
  • In a smaller stock pot, heat 2 teaspoons olive oil.
  • Add onion to hot oil and cook a few minutes until translucent.
  • Add carrot and cook a few more minutes.
  • Add celery and cook a few more minutes.
  • Once vegetables start to stick to the pot, add 1/4 cup sherry or dry white wine and stir.
  • Add 5 small cloves minced garlic and stir.
  • Cook vegetables until liquid evaporates.
  • Remove cooked chicken from broth to cutting board and cut into bite-sized pieces.
  • Use a large slotted spoon to remove and discard the onion, oregano sprigs, bay leaf, and halved garlic from the broth.
  • Pour the cooked vegetables into the broth and bring to a simmer.
  • Add 3/4 teaspoon ground ginger, 1 teaspoon ground turmeric, and 1/2 teaspoon thyme.
  • Add salt and pepper to taste.
  • Add 1 1/2 cups petite frozen peas.
  • At this point, I ladled enough for my serving into the smaller stockpot, and added a handful of No Yolks brand egg noodles.
  • I added the rest of the noodles to the larger stock pot, along with the diced chicken and heated through – about 12 minutes to cook the noodles.

For the kids and hubby, I served this soup with turkey club sandwiches on wheat, with super sweet Roma tomato slices, crisp romaine, and Morning Star brand bacon. For myself, I had my sandwich with Ezekiel bread, an extra slice of the Morning Star bacon instead of the turkey, with the tomato and romaine.

Turkey Club Sandwich

E loved the sandwich. B loved the soup. She had seconds of the soup at dinner. Then, after a walk to the park, she had another huge bowl of soup. I think that means it was a hit. Hubby even had another full bowl a few hours after dinner too. It was really yummy! The turmeric and ginger really make the soup, and both are beneficial spices. Turmeric is an antioxidant that reduces inflammation and protects the liver. Ginger is good for relieving colds and calming upset stomachs.

Soup and Sandwich Dinner

This meal was perfect for a hubby whose allergies turned into a full-blown spring cold. Poor hubby  😦

~Ingredients to nourish the body put together in ways to nourish the soul to share with family and friends to nourish the heart~

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Faux Pho

Many pho traditionalists will detest my super quick, super non-traditional, thrown together faux pho.  However, I’m a busy woman, with a demanding career 60 miles from where I live, with a schedule that is non-stop from the time I get up at 4:45 a.m. until I get home at 6:30 p.m., and sometimes not even stopping then, who spends 15 hours per week in the car getting to work and back home, who has a hubby, a house full of pets, and sweet stepdaughters, one of whose birthday party is this weekend, so my preparations are in full swing.  Thus, thrown together, non-traditional, really quick faux pho is the easiest thing for me to make for our dinner.

Rice noodles with vegetables.

Rice Noodles with Vegetables

Pour in some of the beef broth.

Add Beef Broth

Stir in sauces.

Add ins

Relax with dinner.  We ate ALL of this soup in one dinner!  It was a perfect quick, light soup for a Thursday evening.  And it left me time to begin prep for E’s birthday party.  I made the fluffy cinnamon frosting for the cupcakes, and I boiled the chicken breasts for the shredded chicken taco filling I’ll make.  I’ll post these recipes, and all the others I’ll be making for the party over the next couple of days.  The shredded chicken taco filling is very involved, but oh so worth it.  At least, it was when I ate chicken!  It’s a special treat for the birthday party guests!  More prep the next two nights, and then it’s birthday time!  Trust me, the chicken will last until Sunday.  It really, really will.

However, I won’t if I don’t hurry myself off to bed.  4:45 a.m. comes awfully quick.

FAUX PHO:

In a large pot, pour two 32-ounce cartons of beef broth.
Add 1 package of frozen stir fry vegetables, or mixed vegetables of your choice.
Bring to a boil.
Add 1 package of King Soba Thai rice noodles and 1 decaffeinated chai tea bag.
Reduce heat and simmer for 3 – 5 minutes.
Remove the tea bag.
Scoop noodles and vegetables into a bowl, pour beef broth over, and add sauces of your choice, such as Sriracha Chili Sauce and Hoisin Sauce.
Mix to combine and enjoy.

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100% chance of rain, tornado warnings, high winds.  There’s a tropical storm hitting Central Texas at the moment.  Actually, it started in the early hours of the morning.  After packing a salad, dressing and croutons for lunch, with a banana, pear, and soy yogurt for snacks,

Lunch and Snacks

I drove 57 miles to work in pouring rain, worked 9.5 hours, then drove 75 miles home (the toll road is a longer route, but takes less time since there’s less traffic).  Five miles from home, I was caught in a torrential downpour that let up an hour later, but is back in full swing.

Hubby rocked the work-from-home role by having the lights down low and my barley stew warming on the stove when I got home.  I immediately changed into cozy pj’s while he fixed our bowls and put on a movie.

Barley Stew

Mmmm…mmmm….mmmmm.  Perfect for a Fall-like stormy night.

These are the stars of the stew:

Stew Ingredients

(NOTE: That’s right – it’s beef broth.  I am a pescatarian due to inability to digest heavy meats, not an aversion to eating cows, chickens, or pigs – though that does develop over time.  The longer I go without, the more I can’t stand the thought of going back.  I do not exclude beef or chicken broth from my cooking, however.  If you wanted, you could use vegetable broth with excellent results.)

The supporting characters are one bay leaf, and one pound chopped carrots.

Carrots

What better than 5 simple ingredients put together to make a hearty, filling, warming, stew?

Barley Stew

  • Dice one pound carrots
  • Heat 1 Tbsp canola oil in a deep saucepan.
  • Add carrots and cook about 5 minutes on medium-high heat.
  • Once some start browning, add one 14.1-ounce can of Amy’s brand Cream of Mushroom Soup, 32 ounces broth/stock of your choice (beef, chicken, vegetarian), 1/2 cup barley, and 1 bay leaf.
  • Stir to mix, and bring to a rolling boil.
  • Cover, reduce heat, and simmer for 50 minutes or until barley is tender.
  • Remove bay leaf before serving stew.

I made this last night just before we all went to bed, knowing the tropical storm was going to hit and I would not feel like cooking after driving in torrential rains.  The stew had time to thicken as it sat in the refrigerator overnight, which made it even better than when I tasted it right after it was done cooking.  Like most stews, this one is definitely better if allowed to sit for a day before serving so the flavors can fully develop.

While the winds wailed and the rain pounded, we curled up on the couch with our bowls and watched From Paris With Love.

What is your favorite thing to do when it’s really stormy outside?

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