{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
 
Ingredients
  • 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
Instructions
  1. Combine all ingredients in a large crockpot and cook on high for 8 hours. Easy!

 

Beef-n-Noodles

These noodles were my favorite meal growing up.  My mom would serve them with mashed potatoes and green beans with shelley beans and I couldn’t have been happier.  Now, my trio enjoys them.  And the best part — they are super easy to make thanks to a secret ingredient from the freezer section that makes them “semi-homemade.”

The secret ingredient is Reese’s frozen noodles.  Instead of slaving over homemade noodles, I just grab a package of these and cut the prep-time significantly.

Apparently, beef-n-noodles is a “southern” thing — not the true south — but a Southern Illinois thing at least.  After I married Mike (he’s from the suburbs of Chicago) and made noodles as part of the meal for the first Thanksgiving I hosted — I quickly learned that these noodles aren’t “normal” in families from North of I-80.

No matter if you’ve had beef-n-noodles before or you’ve never tried them — give this recipe a try.  They are a delicious comfort food and I’ve yet to meet a kid who doesn’t love them.

Beef-n-Noodles
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Serves: 8
 
Ingredients
  • 4 cups beef stock
  • 1 cup cooked beef chunks (I use leftover roast beef)
  • 2 beef bullion cubes
  • water
  • 1 bag Reese's Frozen Noodles
  • pepper
  • salt
Instructions
  1. In a large pot (I use a stew pot) combine the beef stock, beef chunks, and beef bullion cubes. Add water until the pot is ¾ full. Heat until boiling. Add the noodles and reduce heat. Cook on low for several hours, adding water as needed. The longer they cook, the better they taste! Add generous amounts of pepper and salt before serving. Great with mashed potatoes.

 

Laura’s Coca-Cola Cake

*****The Weitl clan is on vacation so this post was graciously written by the infamous Laura.  Special thanks to one of my BFFs for contributing!!******

I love Coca-Cola. I love chocolate. I love cake. What I didn’t realize until recently is that I could put all of those things together and come up with delicious yumminess.

I love the get togethers we have with the Weitls. I was supposed to bring a dessert for one of our family dinners and decided to make Chocolate Coca-Cola Cake. I had made it once before and shared a few pieces with Jamie and she really liked it so I decided to make it again. No one was disappointed.

Before this recipe, I had never made a cake from scratch. I didn’t see the point since opening a box was so easy. After this, though, a box cake just isn’t quite good enough. The ingredients are easy to find. In fact, I had all of them in my house when I decided to make it the first time except for one… buttermilk. That was easy to remedy though. Just put ½ Tbsp. of white vinegar into a ½  cup measuring cup and then fill the cup with milk. Let it stand for 5 minutes and you have buttermilk substitute. Clean up is easy as well. There aren’t a lot of dishes to deal with. The hardest part is waiting for the cake to cool a bit before pouring on the frosting.


Coca-Cola Cake
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Serves: 12
 
Ingredients
  • Cake Ingredients:
  • 2 cups flour
  • 2 cups sugar
  • ½ tsp baking soda
  • ½ tsp cinnamon
  • 2 sticks softened butter
  • ¼ c. unsweetened cocoa powder
  • 1 c. Coca-Cola
  • ½ c. buttermilk
  • 2 eggs
  • 1 tsp vanilla (I used Jamie’s Homemade Vanilla)
  • Frosting Ingredients:
  • ½ c. butter
  • ¼ c. unsweetened cocoa powder
  • ½ c. Coca-Cola
  • 4 cups powdered sugar
Instructions
  1. Cake Directions: Preheat oven to 350degrees. In a large bowl, combine flour, sugar, baking soda, and cinnamon. Set aside. Put butter, cocoa powder, Coca-Cola, and buttermilk in a saucepan over medium heat. Stir until it comes to a boil. Remove from heat and pour it into the flour mix. Stir until combined. Add 2 eggs and 1 tsp vanilla. Mix. Pour into greased 9x13. Bake for approximately 30 minutes. I like to take it out a little early so it is nice and moist.
  2. Frosting Directions: Combine butter, cocoa powder, and remaining Coca-Cola in a saucepan (I use the same one I used for the cake) over medium heat until it comes to a boil. Remove from heat. Slowly whisk in powered sugar until smooth. Pour frosting over warm cake.

 

 

This cake receives 10 Wooden Spoons — a very high honor!  5 from the Weitl clan and 5 from the Kilmartin clan.  We all loved it and devoured it — as you can tell from Cade’s chocolatey face above!

Mexican Lasagna

I originally made this recipe about 4 years ago and Mike wasn’t a fan.  I made it again last week and he thought it was great.  Someone’s palate is expanding.  Thank the Lord!

This recipe is a great alternative to the traditional “taco night” – basically it’s a combo of enchiladas and tacos in lasagna form.  It tastes great and reheats very well for leftovers.  I ate it for breakfast the next morning.  I actually ate this four times — two dinners, once for lunch, and once for breakfast.  It’s delicious.  We served it with Mike’s infamous BLT guacamole.

Definitely a winner — and a recipe that I’ll be adding to our regular rotation.

Mexican Lasagna
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Serves: 8
 
Ingredients
  • 1 lb hamburger
  • 10-15 corn tortillas
  • 1 large can enchilada sauce
  • 1 can fat free refried beans
  • ½ cup chopped onion
  • ½ cup chopped green pepper
  • 1 bag shredded Mexican blend cheese
  • diced tomatoes
  • lettuce shreds
  • sour cream
Instructions
  1. Preheat oven to 350. In a skillet, brown hamburger, onion, and green pepper. Drain. Add enchilada sauce and refried beans and cook until bubbly. Spray a casserole dish with Pam and place tortillas in the bottom (I broke some of them in pieces to mostly cover the bottom. Pour ⅓ of the hamburger mixture over the top of the tortillas and then ⅓ of the bag of shredded cheese. Repeat layers 2 more times. Bake for 20-25 minutes until bubbly. Top with diced tomatoes, lettuce, and sour cream.

 

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
 
Ingredients
  • 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
Instructions
  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.

 

POM Pork Stir Fry

Last week, I thawed a few pork chops and instead of our regular BBQ chops, I decided to mix it up a bit and make stir fry. I started with four pork chops and marinated them for several hours in a large bowl filled with POM juice and a teaspoon of onion powder and garlic powder.

When it was time to make dinner, I threw the rice in the rice cooker (my splurge when I found out I received my new job) and cubed the pork.  I added a bag of stir fry veggies and then topped it with the sauce outlined below.  It all came together very quickly and was quite tasty.  Definitely a recipe I’ll be making again.

POM Pork Stir Fry
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Serves: 4
 
Ingredients
  • 4 lean pork chops
  • 1 bottle POM juice
  • 1 tsp onion powder
  • 1 tsp garlic powder
  • 2 Tbsp olive oil
  • 2 Tbsp soy sauce
  • 1 Tbsp cornstarch
  • 2 Tbsp rice vinegar
  • 1 tsp sesame oil
  • 1 tsp minced garlic
  • 3 Tbsp POM juice
  • 1 - 16 oz bag frozen stir fry vegetables
  • rice, prepared
Instructions
  1. -5 hours before cooking (or overnight), place the pork chops in a large bowl or Ziplock back and cover with POM juice, onion powder, and garlic powder. Be sure to reserve at least 3 Tbsp. of the POM juice for the sauce. Return the pork to the fridge.
  2. To prepare, remove the pork from the marinade and cube. Heat 2 Tbsp. olive oil over medium heat and sear the pork. When the pork is seared, add the frozen vegetables. While the vegetables and pork are cooking, prepare the sauce. In a small bowl combine soy sauce, cornstarch, rice vinegar, sesame oil, minced garlic, and POM juice. When your meat is cooked through and the vegetables are almost at your desired consistency pour the sauce over the top and allow to thicken slightly. Serve over rice.

The trio isn’t a big fan of stir fry, so served their meal components separately — I picked out pieces of pork, which they all liked. And they ate the rice plain.  Anna is my only veggie eater, and she enjoyed the broccoli as well.

 

Chicken Tortilla Soup {Crockpot}

Yesterday, we we went for a family walk after our Thanksgiving dinner and it was beautiful outside.  The temperature was nearly 60 and just gorgeous.  Today, winter has set in with temperatures in the low 30’s and wind chills in the teens here in the Midwest.  I can’t say I’m thrilled (I told Mike today I wanted to live in Florida) but at least I can have warm soup for dinner while curled up by the fire (if I can convince Mike to light one…) 🙂

Continuing with our Mexican kick, I threw together (literally) chicken tortilla soup.  I’ve made several versions, but this quick and easy crockpot recipe wins out often because it is so painless.  It makes a lot, freezes well, and is good for leftover lunches.  I’m not sure where the base recipe originated from but it’s probably somewhere in cyberspace.

I threw this soup together while the trio was eating breakfast and it was ready to go by lunchtime with thawed chicken breasts.  I’ve also made it using frozen chicken breasts, which I’d recommend if you plan to make it in the morning and serve for dinner.  This soup pairs well with BLT Guacamole and chips.

If you have some leftover turkey that you’d like to throw in instead of chicken, I think it would be just as good.  I’d reduce the cook time to 2 to 3 hours since the turkey is already cooked.  I don’t see anything wrong with adding a bit of Mexican flair to your Thanksgiving leftovers!

Chicken Tortilla Soup {Crockpot}
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Serves: 10
 
Ingredients
  • 4 boneless chicken breasts (can be frozen)
  • 1 - 4 oz can green chilies, drained
  • 2 tsp. minced garlic
  • 1 yellow onion, diced
  • 2 - 15 ounce cans of Rotel tomatoes with green chilies
  • 1 cup chicken broth
  • 1 tsp cumin
  • salt and pepper
  • 4 corn tortillas, sliced into ¼ inch stripes
  • 2 Tbsp. cilantro
  • ½ cup shredded Monterey jack cheese
  • lime juice
  • avocado (optional)
Instructions
  1. Place chicken in crockpot and toss in the chilies, garlic, onion, Rotel, broth, cumin, and salt and pepper on top. Stir occasionally while cooking to shred chicken as it cooks. For frozen chicken cook on high for 8-9 hours. For thawed chicken, cook on low for 4-5 hours. Just before serving, add tortillas and cilantro. Serve by topping each bowl with shredded cheese, diced avocado, and a squeeze of lime.