6 Ingredient Beef Barley Slow Cooker Soup

 

 

 

Here’s a beef and barley soup that is simple to make and little work in the slow cooker!  It’s only six ingredients!  It’s delicious and very easy to throw together in the morning and have dinner steamy and tasty by evening.

If your I.C. bladder is extremely sensitive, you can definitely make your own beef broth and use safe seasoning.  Maybe for you that might be onion flakes or powder, garlic powder, and parsley.  Edit the recipe to make it safe for you! 🙂

For the ground beef I usually use 85-90% lean.

 

INGREDIENTS:

  • 1 lb. lean ground beef
  • 3 (14 oz.) cans beef broth or homemade (approx. 6 cups of broth)
  • 3/4 cup quick-cooking barley
  • 3 cups sliced carrots
  • 2 cups sliced celery (chop up the celery leaves too!)
  • 2 tsp. beef seasoning

DIRECTIONS:

  1. In skillet, brown ground beef, drain and transfer to 5 quart slow cooker.
  2. Add beef broth, barley, carrots, celery, and beef seasoning.
  3. Cover and cook on low for 6-8 hours depending on your slow cooker’s past performance.  (For myself, it was 6 hours on low).

 

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Simple Shepherd’s Pie

With all my medical woes, I need some backup frozen foods that are remotely healthy, have few ingredients, and are fast.  I tried a frozen shepherd’s pie meal by “Blake’s” frozen foods.  I was blown away that a dish so simple could be so tasty.  All it consisted of was ground beef, corn, spices, and a mashed potato topping.  Blake’s doesn’t use antibiotics, artificial colors or flavorings.  It’s simply good food.  It’s great in a pinch when I don’t feel well or the day is going too fast.

View Blake’s frozen offerings here!

As great as their meals are, I’m a cook at heart.  I want to make it myself.  I also want to avoid too much sodium in my food and even the best frozen meals are chock full of sodium.  So, I had to find an I.C. bladder safe recipe for this shepherd’s pie.  Also, I didn’t want to use lamb and I wanted it only to have a few ingredients.  I’m a tough customer!

To make it I.C. safe I had to be safe by removing the Worcestershire sauce.  I replaced it with parsley and garlic powder.  It tasted just great!

I found this recipe on Simplyrecipes.com.  Wow.  It’s a keeper and it tastes like more than a sum of its ingredients.

This isn’t the time to skimp on the butter!!

I used 85% lean ground beef.  I did a mixture of frozen corn and peas.

I made 1 cup of beef broth and used a 1/2 cup initially, and added more as I needed it, to keep the pan from drying out.

 

INGREDIENTS:

 

  • 1 1/2 to 2 pounds potatoes (about 3 large potatoes), peeled and quartered
  • 8 Tablespoons (1 stick) butter
  • 1 medium onion, chopped (about 1 1/2 cups)
  • 1-2 cups vegetables—diced carrots, corn, peas
  • 1 1/2 lbs ground round beef
  • 1/2 cup beef broth
  • 1 teaspoon Worcestershire sauce*   *I can cheat with an entire dish with only 1 tsp. of this sauce, but you may not be able to.  Omit it, if you know it’ll hurt you.  
  • Salt, pepper, other seasonings of choice

 

DIRECTIONS:

1 Boil the potatoes: Place the peeled and quartered potatoes in medium sized pot. Cover with at least an inch of cold water. Add a teaspoon of salt. Bring to a boil, reduce to a simmer, and cook until tender (about 20 minutes.

2 Sauté vegetables: While the potatoes are cooking, melt 4 tablespoons of the butter in a large sauté pan on medium heat. Add the chopped onions and cook until tender, about 6 to 10 minutes.

If you are including vegetables, add them according to their cooking time. Carrots should be cooked with the onions, because they take as long to cook as the onions do.

If you are including peas or corn, add them toward the end of the cooking of the onions, or after the meat starts to cook, as they take very little cooking time.

3 Add the ground beef, then Worcestershire sauce and broth: Add ground beef to the pan with the onions and vegetables. Cook until no longer pink. Season with salt and pepper.

Add the Worcestershire sauce and beef broth. Bring the broth to a simmer and reduce heat to low. Cook uncovered for 10 minutes, adding more beef broth if necessary to keep the meat from drying out.

 

4 Mash the cooked potatoes: When the potatoes are done cooking (a fork can easily pierce), remove them from the pot and place them in a bowl with the remaining 4 Tbsp of butter. Mash with a fork or potato masher, and season with salt and pepper to taste.

5 Layer the meat mixture and mashed potatoes in a casserole dish: Preheat oven to 400°F. Spread the beef, onions, and vegetables (if using) in an even layer in a large baking dish (8×13 casserole).

 

Spread the mashed potatoes over the top of the ground beef. Rough up the surface of the mashed potatoes with a fork so there are peaks that will get well browned. You can even use a fork to make creative designs in the mashed potatoes.

6 Bake in oven: Place in a 400°F oven and cook until browned and bubbling, about 30 minutes. If necessary, broil for the last few minutes to help the surface of the mashed potatoes brown.

 

Optional / Suggested variations:

Put a layer of creamed corn between the ground beef and the mashed potatoes.

Sprinkle grated cheddar cheese over the top of the mashed potatoes before baking.

Read more: http://www.simplyrecipes.com/recipes/easy_shepherds_pie/#ixzz4gXMKyCuY

 

Read more: http://www.simplyrecipes.com/recipes/easy_shepherds_pie/#ixzz4gXMDsS28

 

 

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Grilled Chicken Parmesan Sandwiches

This recipe was DELICIOUS.  The flavor comes from the cheese and oiled & toasted bread, but mainly from the roasted tomatoes with garlic slivers. It’s divine.  I will definitely make this every few weeks!  Superb!  It cooks up quickly too.
Serves 4.

*This is I.C. safe for me because it uses a small amount of raw tomatoes, not canned, and I omitted red pepper flakes.  It may not be I.C. safe for you.  Adjust if desired.

 

INGREDIENTS:

  • 6 plum tomatoes (make sure they are more on the ripe side)
  • 1 garlic clove
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 1/4 teaspoon red pepper flakes (optional)
  • 1/2 teaspoon oregano
  • Coarse salt
  • Freshly ground pepper
  • 4 split hero rolls (large enough for a filleted chicken breast)
  • 4 chicken cutlets (or filleted boneless skinless chicken breasts like I used)
  • 1/2 cup grated Parmesan cheese
  • 4 oz. thinly sliced mozzarella

DIRECTIONS:

  1. Core and halve the plum tomatoes. Slip some thinly sliced garlic into each half.
  2. Gently toss tomatoes with olive oil, red pepper flakes, oregano, and salt and pepper until well coated.
  3. Brush the split hero rolls with olive oil.  Separately grill rolls until toasted, and tomatoes until tender.
  4. Season 4 chicken cutlets as desired and grill one side, flip, then top with grated Parmesan and mozzarella.
  5. Grill until chicken is cooked through and cheese is melted.
  6. Make sandwiches with rolls, chicken, and tomatoes as pictured.
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Cheddar and Thyme Flaky Biscuits

We really enjoyed these cheddar biscuits.  They were not too much work and you could even use the food processor to make it easier, like I did.  Definitely use butter instead of margarine.  Fresh thyme would be best but dried thyme works too.  Enjoy!

INGREDIENTS:

  • 2 cups flour
  • 4 teaspoons baking powder
  • 3 tablespoons white sugar
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon cream of tartar
  • 1/2 cup butter, softened (not melted!)
  • 3/4 cup milk
  • 1/2 cup shredded cheddar cheese
  • 1 tablespoon fresh thyme, or 1 teaspoon dried thyme

 

DIRECTIONS:

  1. Preheat oven to 425* F.
  2. In a medium bowl, stir together the flour, baking powder, sugar, salt, and cream of tartar.
  3. Cut in butter using a pastry cutter or a fork until dough it is the size of peas.
  4. Make a well in the center of the mixture and measure the milk, shredded cheese, and thyme into the bowl. Gently mix until a soft dough forms.
  5. Roll or pat out on a floured surface to 3/4″ thick.  (Gradually add more flour if dough is too sticky to work with).
  6. Cut into circles with biscuit cutter and place on baking sheet.  (Use parchment paper if you want to go the extra mile).
  7. Bake for 10 minutes in the preheated oven, or until the bottoms of the biscuits are golden brown.

 

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Easy Pressure Cooker Brown Rice

This is a perfectly simple and fast way to cook your brown rice.  The pressure cooker (my Instapot) infuses so much flavor in a short time, it shocks me!

For the first time making it, I halved it with no issues.

 

INGREDIENTS:

  • 4 cups water
  • 2 cups long brown rice
  • 4 chicken bouillon cubes (or, if using bouillon from jar, use 4 tsp.)
  • 3 dashes Mrs. Dash seasoning mix, original**
  • 3 tablespoons butter
  • pepper

**Instead of Mrs. Dash, which has ingredients I can not have, I used a mixture of dried oregano, basil, garlic, and onion (all dried) and it turned out fabulously!

 

DIRECTIONS:

  1. Spray pressure cooker with cooking oil / spray.
  2. Add all ingredients to cooker.
  3. Set pressure cooker to “sealing”, not venting.
  4. I set it on manual for 15 minutes.  Once the correct pressure is achieved, it will countdown from 15 minutes.
  5. I slowly and carefully released the steam vent with a long spoon with a hook at the end.
  6. It wasn’t done, so I put it on “keep warm” and about 5 minutes later, it was perfect!
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Jacques Pépin Criques – Potato Pancakes via the Food Processor!

  

This was a superb Jacques Pepin recipe!  I saw him demonstrate this recipe on More Fast Food My Way on TV.  It’s really simple thanks to the food processor and was fun to make.  I highly suggest using a fish turner like he uses.  Make sure you place the finished pancakes on a raised rack so they do not sit directly on a plate or paper towels and get soggy!  Enjoy!

This makes about 12 potato pancakes!

 

INGREDIENTS:

  • 2 cups potatoes
  • 2 eggs
  • 1/2 cup diced white or yellow onion
  • 2 cloves crushes garlic
  • 2 T. potato starch
  • 1/2 tsp. baking powder
  • few pinches of salt
  • scallion/chives/or green onion
  • Vegetable oil

DIRECTIONS:

  1. Begin by peeling your potatoes, rinse any dirt off with water.  Place them in a bowl with water to cover.
  2. Once all your potatoes are peeled and in water, take one out to chop it and put the chopped potatoes directly in your food processor.  Do NOT rinse the chopped potatoes at this point; you will rinse all the starch away.
  3. Once all the potatoes are chopped and into your food processor, add the 2 eggs, chopped onion, 2 cloves of crushed garlic, potato starch, baking powder, and salt.
  4. Puree until you get an applesauce texture.
  5. Pour batter into a fresh bowl, add chopped green onions.
  6. Heat your oil in your skillet.
  7. Pour about 1/4 cup of the batter into the hot oil, you should be able to get 4 potato pancakes into a 12″ skillet.  It will take about 3 batches.  Flip pancake to cook the other side when you sneak a peek and the bottom is browned. Add more oil as needed and adjust temperature as needed for proper browning, not burning.  
  8. When you remove the cooked pancake, place it on a raised cooling rack.  You do not want to put it directly on paper towels or a plate, it will get soggy!
  9. Serve with sour cream, ketchup, or eat plain.  YUM!

 

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Vegan Cornmeal Raspberry Muffins

 

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This is a tasty raspberry muffin recipe that adds the flavor of cornmeal to the mix!  It’s yummy and has that cornmeal crunch!  I used a mixture of fresh raspberries and frozen, but you could do all fresh or all frozen too!  It’s okay to mash the fresh raspberries a little if you want a more unified flavor.  I sprinkled the tops with Turbinado sugar.  A+!

**Vanilla almond milk works well in this recipe!  

INGREDIENTS:

  • 1 And 1/2 Cups All Purpose Flour
  • 3/4 Cup Cornmeal
  • 3/4 Cup Sugar
  • 3 Teaspoons Baking Powder
  • 1 Teaspoon Baking Soda
  • 1/4 Teaspoon Salt
  • Orange Zest From One Orange
  • 1 Cup fresh raspberries (Can Use Frozen too, but no not thaw them!)
  • 1 And 1/4 Cups Almond Milk
  • 1 Tablespoon Apple Cider Vinegar
  • 1/4 Cup vegetable oil
  • 1 Teaspoon Vanilla Extract
  • Turbinado sugar, or brown sugar to coat the tops before baking
DIRECTIONS:
  1. Preheat oven to 400F for 15 minutes. Grease or line a 12-cup muffin tin with paper liners.
  2. Mix together the almond milk and vinegar; set aside for a couple of minutes until it curdles.
  3. In a large bowl combine together the dry ingredients including the orange zest. Take 2 tablespoons of this mixture and
  4. combine it with the berries, in a separate bowl. This will avoid the berries from sinking to the bottom of the muffins.
  5. In another bowl whisk together the curdled milk mixture, oil and vanilla extract.
  6. Gently fold in the wet ingredients into the dry mixture. Stir in the berries. Do not over mix the batter.
  7. Spoon the batter into the prepared muffin tins, about 2/3rds full. I got only 11 muffins for the above measurement.
  8. Sprinkle some Turbinado or brown sugar on top of the muffins.
  9. Bake for about 15-20 minutes or until a toothpick inserted in the center of the muffin comes out clean.
  10. Transfer to a wire rack and let it cool for at least 5 minutes before removing from the pan.
TASTE:
  1. These muffins had a very nice texture from the cornmeal. The quantity of sugar mentioned in the original recipe is 1/2, which is what I used and felt that it could use some more sugar. That’s why I have increased the quantity to 3/4th cup in the recipe.
NOTES:
  1. If using frozen berries, do not thaw it.
  2. Instead of sprinkling granulated sugar on top of the muffins, using turbinado sugar would give it a much nicer look.

 

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Cookbook Organization -Post-it Notes & Tabs Trick!

So, if you have many awesome cookbooks like me (i.e. too many, but you use them all, so there!), you need to keep things organized.  There’s nothing worse than having the perfect soup recipe for an occasion and not knowing which cookbook it’s in!  And then having to waste your time Googling for 30 minutes…

And yes, to make this work you need to invest in tabs.  For the best prices check Amazon. I know, I buy a plethora of  tabs because I love them and they don’t re-stick that well.
So, I started doing this organizational hack for cookbooks and realized it may help others.

1) “MUST KEEP THIS AND MAKE AGAIN” TABS:  The large top tabs are made of 3×3″ post-it notes cut in half.  I make sure to put them on the right side page of the cookbook so you can see the labeled tabs from the front.

2) “RECIPE TO TRY IMMEDIATELY” TABS:  The tab sticking out at the top right of the cookbook, diagonally, is only for recipes I plan to make very soon.  For instance, I will go to the grocery store, come back, and lose my recipe unless I do this!  It saves time!  You could even Sharpie label this tab with the recipe name, if you had multiple “recipes to try immediately” tabs.

3) “NEED TO TRY LATER” TABS:  The tabs sticking out on the right side are tabs labeling recipes I want to make in the future.

So, if a side tab becomes a “must make again” recipe (because I made the recipe and it is a knockout!), then I take the time to make a labeled TOP tab with the name of the recipe for easy access.

Hopefully this helps someone in internet land who loves to cook…

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“Huck Finn Clone” Chicken Cesar Pita

I’m obsessed with a Huck Finn Donut’s dish called “Chicken Ceasar Pita”.  I’ve spent too much money buying it in the restaurant over and over again.  One of my friends loves it too.  I don’t need the fries or the fruit cup, so it’s not the best deal in the restaurant to order this dish AND it’s kind of simple, so why not make it at home?  It came out shockingly close to the restaurant meal!

I can’t have Caesar dressing as it has lemon in it, so I just used Ken’s Italian with Romano dressing.

The following ingredients are for 2 servings.  
INGREDIENTS:

  • About 1 large boneless skinless chicken breast,  (Make sure it’s filleted so it cooks evenly and quickly)
  • (Pepper, coarse salt, onion powder, garlic powder)
  • Vegetable oil
  • 2 Kronos pitas (not pita pockets)
  • Shredded lettuce
  • Chopped tomato
  • Caesar salad dressing, or Italian dressing
  • 2-3 thick slices of Swiss cheese

DIRECTIONS:

  1. Begin by heating pan with vegetable oil, on medium heat.
  2. Fillet your boneless skinless chicken breast if necessary.  Pat dry.
  3. Season the chicken on both sides with pepper, coarse salt, onion powder, and garlic powder.
  4. Once the oil in pan is heated, add chicken breasts, flip after chicken is browned on one side, and cook thoroughly until at least 165* F.
  5. Remove to a clean plate and let chicken rest 5-10 minutes.
  6. While the chicken is resting, add your 2 pitas to the pan that has residual oil and heat.  Remove pitas to clean plates ready to serve.
  7. Chop chicken into bite-sized pieces.  Add back to pan and cover with desired amount of Swiss cheese slices.  Let cheese melt 2-3 minutes onto chicken.
  8. Add cheese-covered chicken to top of warmed pitas.
  9. Place chopped tomato and shredded lettuce on top of chicken pita.
  10. Drizzle Caesar or Italian dressing to top of veggie-covered chicken pita.
  11. Serve warm.

 

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Delicious Popcorn Balls

We made these popcorn balls coincidentally around Valentine’s Day and it was serendipitous.  They come together fast and are more forgiving than Rice Krispie treats that harden faster than you can stir!  The marshmallow mixture stays pliable for a while.

We made the popcorn in our air popper and had to make two batches.

We used unflavored peanuts – just plain works well here.  No one wants garlic/onion flavored popcorn balls.  If you do, I don’t know you anymore!

You can add toasted slivered almonds as well.

 

INGREDIENTS:

  • Cooking spray
  • 14 heaping cups plain popped popcorn
  • 6 TBSP. unsalted butter
  • One 10.5 oz. package mini marshmallows
  • 2 TBSP. light brown sugar
  • 1 tsp. vanilla extract
  • 1 tsp. salt
  • 3/4 cup chopped salted peanuts or toasted slivered almonds, optional but great
  • Sprinkles!  Red, blue and white for 4th of July?  Red and green for Christmas?  FUN!, optional

 

DIRECTIONS:

  1. Remove any un-popped kernels from the popped popcorn.  Lightly grease a large mixing bowl with cooking spray and add popcorn, set aside.
  2. Melt butter in a large saucepan over medium heat.
  3. Add marshmallows, brown sugar, vanilla, salt, and cook stirring, until marshmallows have melted and mixture is smooth, 4-5 minutes.
  4. Pour marshmallow mixture over popcorn, along with peanuts (or almonds), if desired.
  5. Mix with 2 lightly greased rubber spatulas until popcorn is evenly coated.
  6. Using clean, greased hands, form mixture into 2 1/2 inch balls.
  7. Eat immediately or wrap each ball tightly in plastic and keep up to 5-7 days.
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