Beef, Black Bean & Barley Soup

It snowed today. First snow of the season.
This means it is soup season!

beef barly (3)

2 Tablespoons Olive Oil
1 pound Beef Cubes (for Stew) or left over Roast
1 whole Large Onion, Medium Diced
2 cloves Minced Garlic
2 whole Carrots, Smaller Ends Cut Into Rounds, Larger Ends Diced
2 whole Potatoes, Large Dice
1-½ teaspoon Seasoning Salt
1 teaspoon Sea Salt (or To Taste)
Ground Black Pepper To Taste
6 cups Beef Stock
2 cups Water Or As Needed
½ cups Pearl Barley
½ teaspoons Thyme
1 whole Bay Leaf
1 can (14.5 Oz. Size) Diced Tomatoes
1 can black beans, drained and rinsed

Heat a large stock pot over medium high heat. Add the olive oil.

Brown the beef cubes* for three minutes in the oil, then add the onions and garlic. Lower the heat to medium low and cook until the onions are cooked and just start to caramelize. Stir as needed to keep onions and garlic from burning. Lower heat if necessary; drizzle a little more olive oil if needed to keep food from sticking.
(*If using leftover roast, sauté the onions and garlic first… then add the beef)

Add everything** except the tomatoes and beans to the pot and stir well. Increase the heat and bring the soup to a boil, then turn heat to low, cover pot, and simmer for two hours, stirring occasionally. Adjust heat as necessary to keep soup at a slow simmer. If the soup thickens too much, add a little more water or broth.

(**if using quick barley… reduce the simmer time to 1 hour)

Taste to correct seasonings, then add tomatoes and rinsed beans and simmer for another hour. Remove bay leaf before serving.

adapted from THIS recipe

Homemade 5 Minute Mac N Cheese

Picky Palate is one of my favorite GO-TO sites for finding great recipes.
This one quickly became a family favorite… replacing even the irreplaceable Kraft Mac N Cheese!
I’m thinking it would be easy to bundle up the cooked pasta, premeasured  milk and cheese then mix and make fresh at the office for lunch.


1/2 pound cooked pasta of choice
2 cups shredded cheddar cheese
1 cup whole milk
3/4 teaspoon kosher salt
1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper

Place pasta, cheese, milk, salt and pepper into a microwave safe bowl. Stir to mix. Cover lightly with plastic wrap and microwave for 3 minutes. Stir and microwave for an additional 2 minutes. Stir until creamy and smooth. Serve immediately.

Makes 4 servings


I found this recipe and photo HERE

Baked Chicken Flautas

(Adapted from THIS recipe)

3 ounces cream cheese, softened
1/4 cup salsa
1 Tbsp fresh lime juice (juice from half a lime)
1/2 tsp ground cumin
1 tsp chili powder
1/2 tsp onion powder
1/4 tsp garlic powder
3 Tbsp chopped cilantro
2 cups shredded cooked chicken
1 cup shredded Mexican flavored cheese
flour tortillas
kosher salt
cooking spray

Preheat your oven to 425 degrees F. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper.

In a large bowl, mix the cream cheese, salsa, lime juice, ground cumin, chili powder, onion powder and garlic powder. Once combined, stir in the cilantro and add the chicken and cheese; mix thoroughly.

(This can be prepared in advance and stored in the refrigerator until ready to assemble.)

Working with a few tortillas at a time, heat them in the microwave between two paper towels until they are soft enough to roll (about 20 – 30 seconds). *** I used fresh tortilla dough and cooked them up fresh on my griddle… they rolled up perfectly!!

Spoon 2-3 Tablespoons of the chicken mixture onto the lower third of a tortilla. Roll the tortilla as tightly as you can.

Place the rolled tortilla seam side down on the baking sheet. Repeat with remaining tortillas until the mixture is gone. Make sure the flautas are not touching each other. Spray the tops lightly with cooking spray and sprinkle with kosher salt.

Bake for 15 – 20 minutes or until crisp and golden.

**To freeze: Before baking, freeze the flautas in a single layer on a baking sheet for about 20 minutes, then place in a labeled freezer bag and store up to 3 months. To bake a frozen flautas (no need to thaw first): Preheat oven to 425 degrees F and bake for 15-20 minutes.

Margarita Pizza

pizza crust dough
pizza sauce
medium ball of  fresh mozzarella cheese
2-3 roma tomatoes
fresh basil
salt and fresh ground pepper

Prepare you favorite pizza dough recipe. When is is ready, roll it out to your desired size and thickness. (I think this pizza is best with thin crust)

Slice the tomatoes and cheese into 1/8 inch slices. Chop the fresh basil.

Poke your prepared dough with a fork several times (to prevent bubbles) and pre-bake in a 375° for 5-10 minutes. Remove from the oven and top with pizza sauce, tomatoes and cheese. Sprinkle with salt and fresh ground pepper and bake for an additional 10-15 minutes.

Remove from oven, top with fresh basil, and ENJOY!

Greek Yogurt + Crystal Light

I have not tried this yet, but I am intrigued. The idea comes from HERE.

Adding Crystal Light drink powder to plain Greek Yogurt.  Brilliant!  Not only is the plain version more than twice the protein (23 grams per serving), adding the powder gives you so many flavor options while adding very few calories.

It takes time, but it is hands down, the best pie I've ever eaten.

Black Bottom Rum Pie
Clint's Family Recipie

Prep time is about an Hour.

3/4 Cup Sugar (or Splenda)
2T Cornstartch
1 Envelope Knox Unflavored Gelatin
2 1/2 Cups Milk (Skim)
3 Large Eggs
2 1oz Squares Semi-Sweet Baking Chocolate
2T Imitation Rum, (1 whole 1oz bottle)
1T Vanilla
1 Pint Whipping Cream
1 Regular Chocolate Bar (for Grating on Top)

Make your own Crust, or I use a store bought Chocolate Graham. Lightly brush it with melted butter to hold together better.

Equipment list:
Electric hand mixer
Pyrex measuring cup
Double boiler- 2 pots
Small fry pan
Hand grater
Wire whisk
Rubber scraper
Measuring cups
Measuring spoons
Large glass bowl
2 Small glass bowls
Butter brush
1 roll paper towels

While water is boiling on bottom,
MIX- Sugar, Cornstarch and Gelatin in a small bowl FIRST. Then pour into top of double boiler. Gradually stir in cold milk. Heat, stirring constantly, until mixture is steaming.

Meanwhile, seperate eggs, saving the whites for beating later. Lightly beat the yolks. Spoon (into the yolks) some of the steaming mixture. This is so you don't cook the eggs. When the yolk mixture is heated up, then you can pour it all into the top pot. Cook this mixture 3-5 minuites untill smooth, then pour out 1 1/2 cups into a Pyrex measuring cup. Remove the rest from heat.

MELT- Semi-sweet Chocolate over the boiling water, then stir it into the 1 1/2 cups of mixture.Add Vanilla.
Now pour into the crust. This needs to cool for about 1/2 hour in fridge.
When the remaining mixture cools, add in the rum.

BEAT- egg whites, adding sugar gradually until soft peaks form. FOLD into rum mixture. AFTER chocolate layer cools, pour on top, then chill until firm.

WHIP- Cream by adding sugar gradually untill soft peaks form. Add to top of cooled pie.

GRATE- Real Chocolate Bar in top. Pretty.

Mom’s Orange Rolls

1 package active dry yeast
1/4 Cup water
1 Cup milk, scalded
1/2 Cup shortening
1/3 Cup sugar
1 teaspoon salt
2 eggs - well beaten
1/4 Cup orange juice
2 Tablespoons orange peel – grated
5 Cup flour
Soften yeast in warm water. Combine scalded milk, shortening, sugar, salt. cool to lukewarm. Add to  softened yeast mixture. Add eggs, orange juice and orange peel. beat well. Gradually stir in flour to form soft dough. Cover. Let stand 10 minutes. Knead dough 5-10 minutes on lightly floured surface. When dough is satin smooth and pliable, place in a greased bowl, turning once to grease the surface. Cover with damp cloth and let rise until double (about 2 hours). Punch down, let stand for about 15 minutes. Roll dough in rectangle 10x16 and 1/2 thick. Cut into strips and tie into knot. Arrange on greased baking sheet. Cover and rise until doubled. Bake 400°, 12 min.  Cool for 10-15 minutes the cover with Icing.
Icing: 2 Tablespoons orange juice, 1 teaspoon grated orange peel, 1 cup powdered sugar.

Japanese Chicken Salad

Another request.
2 Cups Cooked chicken
3 Tablespoons slivered almonds
1/2  head cabbage – chopped (or a bag of pre-cut coleslaw)
2 green onions—diced
1 package chicken raman noodles

1 Tablespoon sugar
1 teaspoon salt
1/2  teaspoon pepper
1 package raman seasoning (from the noodle pkg)
1/2 Cup vegetable oil
3 Tablespoons vinegar
Mix together first series of ingredients. Mix together 2nd series of ingredients for dressing. Stir together.