{Crockpot} Beef and Barley Soup

Beef Barley Soup.jpg

Since it has still been snowy and cold here (seriously, I’m over it…), I made a large batch of beef and barley soup in the crockpot this week.  This recipe makes a full crockpot so I had plenty leftover to freeze.  The best part, it’s healthy — what many would consider “clean eating” and it’s super easy to throw together in the morning, forget about, and have a nice warm dinner ready and waiting in the evening.

I served mine with homemade green bread (recipe coming soon) in honor of St. Patrick’s Day.  I tried to convince the trio that it was Leprechaun Stew but they weren’t fans.  Bo ate two bites, Clara and Anna ate one.  Personally, I thought it was delicious.

{Crockpot} Beef and Barley Soup
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Serves: 12
  • 1.5 lbs. beef stew meat
  • 1 large red onion, chopped
  • 8 carrots, peeled and sliced
  • 4 stalks celery, sliced
  • 1.5 cups frozen corn
  • 1 tsp parsley flakes
  • 1 tsp black pepper
  • 3 beef bullion cubes
  • 2 tsp. minced garlic
  • 14.5 oz. can tomato sauce
  • ¾ cup pearled barley
  • 5 cups water
  1. Combine all ingredients in a large crockpot and cook on high for 8 hours. Easy!


Bolognese Sauce


On Christmas Eve, Mike made bolognese sauce.  This recipe is originally from Mike’s dad, Jim, but has become one of Mike’s speciality recipes when he has a hankering to cook. We had this for lunch on Christmas Eve and everyone enjoyed it.  Bo has deemed it the best sauce ever.  I think it helped that Daddy made it!

If you’re looking for a special pasta sauce with lots of flavor, this one is perfect.  I served it with Pioneer Woman’s Garlic Cheese Bread Sticks.  Bo and I enjoy watching Pioneer Woman’s show on Food Network and she made these in one of the episodes we watched the day before.  They were a great accompaniment!

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Serves: 6
  • ½ lb. ground beef
  • 3 Tbsp. butter
  • 3 Tbsp. olive oil
  • 1 medium white onion, pureed
  • 1 stalk of celery, pureed
  • 1 large carrot, pureed
  • ⅛ tsp. minced garlic
  • ½ cup pancetta, diced
  • ¼ lb. mild Italian sausage
  • ½ cup dry white wine
  • ½ cup whole milk
  • 28 oz. can Italian tomatoes
  • ¼ tsp. black pepper
  • dash of cloves
  • ½ cup heavy cream
  • 8 oz tomato sauce
  • salt to taste
  1. Saute ground beef in a heavy skillet or dutch oven until color is no longer red. Remove meat, set aside, and drain fat. Saute the onion, celery, and carrot in butter and olive oil until softened (if you prefer to have minimal chunks in your sauce like my family, then puree these ingredients -- if you don't mind chunks, finely chopped is fine). Add Italian sausage, pancetta, and garlic and cook until color of the meat is no longer red. Be sure to chop up the meat as it cooks.
  2. Return beef to the pan and add white wine. Turn up the heat to high and cook until wine is cooked off. Add whole milk and continue cooking. Add chopped tomatoes, dash of cloves, black pepper, and tomatoes sauce. Slow simmer for a minimum of 2 hours.
  3. Just before serving, add heavy cream. Add salt if needed.
  4. Serve over freshly cooked pasta.


Taco Salad Dip

Happy 4th of July! (And Happy Birthday to me…) Are you looking for a recipe to take with you to a pool party or pre-firework’s bash?  This one is a great pick!  And super easy!

Last week, Mike was motivated to make this yummy taco salad dip.  Life has been a bit chaotic – we had a large garage sale and all of the setup and house cleanup that comes with it – combined with three small children and a full-time job (plus a few side jobs) mean that I haven’t had much time in the kitchen recently.

On Saturday, while I was outside working the garage sale, Mike took the kids to the grocery store and bought the ingredients for this dip which he made on Sunday.  It’s tasty!  We ended up eating it for dinner but it would be a great dish to bring for a picnic or potluck — or even just to serve as an appetizer.

I took the leftovers in a small container on a picnic with the trio on Tuesday.  The kids wouldn’t touch the stuff — but that just meant more for me!

Kudos to Mike for this yummy dip.  And from rescuing us from another meal of foraging through the pantry. 🙂

Taco Salad Dip
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Serves: 8
  • ½ lb. hamburger, browned
  • 1 - 15 oz can refried beans
  • 8 oz tomato paste
  • 1 package taco seasoning
  • ¼ cup chopped white onion
  • 2-3 drops tabasco sauce
  • ½ tsp. garlic salt
  • ½ cup sour cream
  • ¼ tsp. chili powder
  • 1 cup shredded Mexican blend cheese
  • 1-2 cups shredded lettuce
  • 1 small tomato, diced
  1. Brown hamburger and drain. Add refried beans, tomato sauce, taco seasoning, chopped onion, tabasco, and garlic sauce. Simmer until heated through and bubbly. Spread into a 9x13 pan. In a small bowl combine the sour cream and chili powder. Spread over the meat mixture. Top with cheese, lettuce, and diced tomato. Good served hot or cold with tortilla chips or corn chips.


Jack Daniel’s Sauce

When I was in high school and college, one of my favorite places to go out to eat was TGIFriday’s.  I loved the Jack Daniel’s sauce — especially the appetizer with chicken tenders and the grilled chicken and salmon.  Last week, I was craving it, and without a TGIFriday’s in our area, I set out to recreate the dish at home.

I threw this sauce together on a weeknight and it made for a very tasty dinner.  I baked the salmon for about 12 minutes and made the rice and vegetables in the rice cleaner so overall it was fairly painless.  This sauce packs all the flavor and must be very close to TGIFriday’s recipe.  Since only Mike and I ate the salmon, I saved the rest of the sauce glaze chicken from the grill over the weekend.  Also a hit!  Both Mike and I approve — and we didn’t offer any to the children… 😉

Jack Daniel's Sauce
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Serves: 6
  • 1 whole finely chopped red onion
  • ½ tsp. minced garlic
  • 1 cup brown sugar
  • ½ cup teriyaki sauce
  • ¼ cup soy sauce
  • ⅓ cup white grape juice
  • ½ cup bourbon
  • ½ tsp. Tabasco
  1. In a large saucepan, saute the onion and garlic. Add all ingredients and bring to a slow boil. Lower heat and let simmer for 20 minutes or until it begins to thicken and becomes more sauce like. Great served with grilled chicken, salmon, or steak.