Archive for Main course

Bean and Barley Soup

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One of my favorite soups of late is this Chicken and Barley Soup, and I CAN’T BELIEVE I HAVEN’T BLOGGED ABOUT IT! I have made this soup several times, and I love it. Note to self: Make that soup again soon!

Anyway, that soup was the first time I had ever had barley, and I instantly became obsessed. So when I came across this Bean and Barley Soup from One Dad’s Kitchen, it instantly caught my eye. Barley? Check. Meatless? Always a bonus. Delicious? As it turns out, YES!

This soup is so good and so filling. It’s the perfect soup for cold fall or winter days. I love that it’s inexpensive, too. It makes about 6 servings, and there is at least half a bag of beans left to use for another time.

Bean and Barley Soup
1 cup dried multi-bean mix, rinsed
1/2 cup pearl barley
3 cloves garlic, minced
2 medium carrots, roughly chopped
2 ribs celery, roughly chopped
1/2 medium onion, roughly chopped
1 bay leaf
1 1/2 tsp. Kosher salt
2 tsp. Italian seasoning
black pepper, to taste
14 oz. can diced tomatoes, undrained

3 cups spinach leaves, chopped
1/4 cup grated Parmesan cheese

Directions:
Place the beans, barley, garlic, carrots, celery, onions, bay leaf, kosher salt, Italian seasoning, pepper, and tomatoes into your crockpot. Add 6 cups of water and stir well.  Cook on low until the beans are tender and the soup is thick, about 8 hours.

At end of cook time, add the spinach and Parmesan cheese, and stir. Continue to cook on low until the spinach wilts, about 5 minutes. Remove the bay leaf and enjoy!

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Tomato Basil Parmesan Soup

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Is anyone still out there? I hope so, because I’m back! I know, I know, it’s been awhile. I do have a good excuse, though, if you’re at all interested. I had a baby! Our little boy was born at the end of February. He surprised us by coming two months earlier than expected, but he is doing very well and is a strong and healthy boy. Words cannot express how thankful I am.

It’s been a long time since I’ve really cooked anything, but now I’m trying my best to get back in the kitchen. I do miss cooking, but it’s been hard for me to get back into a routine. Hopefully the decision to revive my blog will give me the encouragement to get cooking!

Luckily for me, fall is coming up, and that means soup weather! There’s nothing I love more than snuggling at home all day while yummy soup simmers in the crockpot. In my opinion, that’s one of the few good things about fall and winter!

Here is our first soup of the fall and our first recipe after a long hiatus. Luckily, it’s a good one! I found this on Pinterest awhile back and, unfortunately, just now got around to making it. As it turns out, this recipe is delicious! Creamy tomato soup with chunky veggies and warm french bread for dipping … mmm, my mouth is watering again just thinking about it. This meatless meal is perfect for cold winter days, and is also budget-friendly. It gets 5 stars from us!

Tomato Basil Parmesan Soup
2 cans diced tomatoes, undrained
1 cup finely diced celery
1 cup finely diced carrots
1 cup finely diced onions
1 tsp. dried oregano
1 tbsp. dried basil
4 cups chicken broth
½ bay leaf
½ cup flour
1 cup Parmesan cheese, grated
½ cup butter
1 1/2 cups half and half
1 tsp. salt
¼ tsp. black pepper

Directions:
Add tomatoes, celery, carrots, chicken broth, onions, oregano, basil, and bay leaf into your crockpot (I used a 3.5 quart crockpot, but any smaller would have been too small). Cook on low for 5-7 hours.

About 30 minutes before serving, prepare a roux. Melt butter over low heat in a saucepan and add flour. Stir constantly with a whisk for 5-7 minutes. Slowly stir in 1 cup hot soup. Add another 3 cups and stir until smooth. Then, add this mixture back into the crockpot. Stir and add the Parmesan cheese, half and half, salt, and pepper. Cook on low for another 30 minutes or so until ready to serve.

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Pork Ragu

Source: Mother Thyme

I almost always have some pork roasts in the freezer. They are mostly used for bbq pulled pork sandwiches, and occasionally for pulled pork tacos. But, I wanted to try something different this time, so I was excited when I came across this recipe for Pork Ragu. I had all the ingredients on hand (plus, it sounded delicious!) so it was perfect.

This was a very good meal, but Rick and I both had one small complaint. It was SALTY! I have noticed that I am pretty sensitive to salt, and probably undersalt most of my food, so it’s possible that if you made this at home, you wouldn’t notice anything out of the ordinary. However, for me, I’ll omit adding the extra salt next time. Apparently the pork is salty enough! Aside from that one small issue, though, this was a great dish — it was easy, it made a ton of leftovers, and it used pantry staples. Those are pretty much my three favorite things in a recipe!

Pork Ragu
2.5 pounds pork tenderloin
28 oz. can crushed tomatoes
3/4 cup chicken broth
1/2 cup chopped onion
1/3 cup grated carrots
1 tbsp. tomato paste
1/2 tsp. minced garlic
1/2 tsp. salt
1/4 tsp. black pepper
1/4 tsp. rosemary
1/8 tsp. thyme
1 bay leaf
splash of red wine

Directions:
Place the pork inside your crockpot. Add all other ingredients to the crockpot, stirring as best you can. Cook on low for 8 hours or high for 4-5.

At end of cook time, remove bay leaf. Shred the meat, and stir it back into the tomato sauce. Continue cooking on low for another 30 minutes.

Serve over your favorite pasta. Enjoy!

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Chicken and Wild Rice

Source: Stephanie Cooks

I’ve had this recipe saved for a long time. I knew it would be good from the moment I saw it, and after finally getting around to making it, I’m even more disappointed that it took me so long. This was delicious! And with such an easy ingredient list that is also just “toss in and go,” it’s definitely a keeper!

Chicken and Wild Rice
4 cups chicken broth
1 can cream of mushroom soup
6 oz. box Uncle Ben’s Wild Rice and seasoning packet
1 cup baby carrots, diced small
1 cup shredded chicken

Directions:
Combine the rice, seasoning packet, broth, soup, and carrots in your crockpot, stirring well. Cook on low for 5 hours.

At end of cook time, stir in the shredded chicken. Cook on low for an additional 30 minutes, or until heated through. Enjoy!

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Cuban Ropa Vieja

Even though Rick could never remember what this dish was called, he loved it anyway. He even asked me to put it on the menu again soon. Seriously. Let’s take a minute and realize the rarity of this statement. Ok … I think it’s sunk in now. Rick likes almost every meal that I make, but he very rarely requests something specific (well, aside from Taco Night, but that’s not a special recipe or anything). I had to say, it made me feel pretty good. 🙂

Oh yeah … and I liked it, too. Give it a try!

Cuban Ropa Vieja
Adapted from Running Mama Cooks

2 lb. chuck roast
1 cup beef broth
8 oz. tomato sauce
1 small onion, sliced
1 bell pepper, sliced
4 cloves garlic, chopped
6 oz. tomato paste
1 tbsp. cumin
1 tsp. dried cilantro
1 tbsp. olive oil
1 tbsp. white vinegar

Directions:
Place the chuck roast in your crockpot. Pour in the beef broth and the tomato sauce.

In a small bowl, combine the onion, pepper, garlic, tomato paste, cumin, cilantro, olive oil, and vinegar. Add this mixture to your crockpot, stirring until everything is well blended.

Cook on low for 8-10 hours. At end of cook time, shred meat and serve over cilantro lime rice and black beans. Enjoy!

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Foil-Packet Parmesan Tilapia

Ok, so here’s my thought process on this one:

I noticed that I had a package of frozen tilapia in my freezer, and I decided it was time to get rid of it. The only other time I had cooked with frozen tilapia, I baked it and turned it into a filling for tacos. That was a great meal, but I didn’t want to do that this time. (That may or may not have anything to do with Rick’s frustration with my many variations of tacos.)

So anyway, I decided to look and see what other tilapia recipes I could find, and believe it or not, I was NOT specifically looking for a crockpot recipe. These things just fall in my hands, I tell you! But given that the Crockpot Lady is the reason why I fell in love with my crockpot (and therefore my love of cooking), I couldn’t turn this recipe down.

So that’s how I wound up making this recipe. I was worried that Rick would think I was weird and/or gross for cooking tilapia in the crockpot, so I kind of didn’t tell him until the meal was almost done cooking. He didn’t seem concerned, though. This is one of those recipes where you’re basically just using your crockpot as an oven without having to heat up the whole kitchen.

When I took the foil packets out of the crockpot and (CAREFULLY– I have had a steam burn before and they are not pretty) opened them, the smell was just amazing. And trust me, they tasted great, too. I liked these filets much better than when I baked them, so I think I’ll use this foil-packet method from now on.

Foil-Packet Parmesan Tilapia
4 tilapia filets, thawed
1/4 cup mayonnaise
1/2 cup shredded cheese (the Crockpot Lady recommends shredded Parmesan, so that’s what I went with. She has also used cheddar)
juice of 2 lemons
4 cloves of garlic, chopped
pinch of salt and pepper

Directions:
In a small bowl, mix together all ingredients except for the fish.

Lay out four equal sized pieces of foil and spray them a bit with cooking spray. Place a piece of fish on each slice of foil, and rub the sauce mixture over both sides of each piece of fish.

Fold the foil together so that it forms a little packet. Put all the packets into the crockpot. Cook on high for 2 hours, then check the fish to see if it’s done. The fish should flake easily with a fork. (Mine was perfect after 2 hours.)

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Beef Stroganoff

So Rick and I recently discovered something amazing. Our local movie theater has a special every Tuesday, where all tickets are only $5. $5! How did we not know this before? We don’t see movies in the theater all that often, but we might just have to change that. Tuesday night date night, anyone?

In order for us to get to a movie (and therefore get home) at a decent hour, I decided to make sure I had a crockpot dinner ready and waiting for us after work. This Beef Stroganoff was perfect for that, and delicious, too. The sauce was just a bit too runny for my taste, but next time I make this I might play around with that, perhaps by adding a little more flour, or by draining some of the liquid from the crockpot before adding in the sour cream mixture.

Beef Stroganoff
2 lb. beef stew meat, cut into 1-inch cubes
10 oz. fresh mushrooms, sliced
1 onion, chopped
1 clove garlic, minced
1 cup beef broth
2 tsp. paprika
1 tsp. salt
1 cup sour cream
2 tbsp. flour
1 tbsp. dijon mustard

Directions:
Place beef, mushrooms, onions, and garlic in crockpot. Add the broth, salt, and paprika. Cook on low for 7-8 hours, or high for 5 hours.

At end of cook time, mix the sour cream, flour, and mustard together in a small bowl. Stir this mixture into the ingredients in your crockpot until everything is well blended. Cook on low for about 15 minutes until everything is heated through. Serve over egg noodles and top with parsley, if desired.

Makes about 7-8 servings.

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