Friday, October 31, 2014

Beef Barley and Vegetable Soup

Happy Friday and Halloween!

Since Mother Nature decided this would be the nastiest day of the year, thus far
I thought maybe I would try to counteract her elements outdoors
 with something warm and cozy indoors.

This hearty, comforting Beef Barley and Vegetable Soup started with
2.5# of ground beef browning in the stock pot. 

Added to that was 1 tbsp of seasoning salt
1 small chopped onion and
1 tbsp minced garlic
all cooked until there is no more pink left in the beef. 

While that was browning, chop up some veggies…
3 carrots and 3 stalks of celery were prepped for their turn to join the pot.  

Toss 'em in!

Next add 4 cups of beef broth and 
6 cups of water for the barley to soak up. 

As well as 1 can of diced tomatoessadly tomato season is done around here, 

Once all of the liquid is added, seems like all of the pictures look the same. 
Then, pour 1 cup of barley  into the pot and simmer for an hour.  

If you need to, you can throw this together much quicker.  

As there is also quick cooking barley, which is just as good!
I always have both on hand and choose according to how much time I have. 

Many nights I prep dinner before the kids get home, 
so letting it simmer for an hour is perfect. 

The final additions to the soup are the extra veggies that I have in my fridge waiting to be used up. 

Tonight was spinach and coleslaw.  
Those are two veggies that can be added to many dishes without much notice. 

Frozen mixed veggies would also be a great way to round out this meal.

Of course, my family loves to top their soup with cheese, 
so shredded mozzarella was the choice tonight.

I love how this soup continues to thicken as the barley cooks!  

Beef Barley and Vegetable soup has always been one of my favorites!


2.5# of ground beef
1 tbsp of seasoning salt
1 onion - chopped
1 tbsp minced garlic
3 carrots - chopped
3 stalks of celery - chopped
4 cups of beef broth
6 cups of water
1 can of diced tomatoes
1 cup of barley (quick cooking barley will significantly reduce the cooking time)
2 cups of fresh spinach
1 cup of shredded cabbage
Shredded mozzarella 

  • Brown the beef in the stock pot over medium heat, along with the salt, onion and garlic. 
  • Next in goes the veggies and liquids, order is not really important…as long as the carrots, celery, broth, water and tomatoes make it into the pot, along with the barley. 
  • Simmer for nearly an hour until the barley is tender. 
  • Finally added the quick cooking veggies, like spinach and cabbage, or frozen mixed veggies until they are warm. 
  • Serve and top with mozzarella or the cheese of your choice. 

Tuesday, October 28, 2014

Oreo Balls

Just in time for Halloween, these festive Oreo balls are like a party in your mouth!  

And, they will certainly be welcome after the holiday passes. 

They are quite easy, just 3 required ingredients 
and the most time-consuming part is allowing them to partially freeze between steps.

I first saw these a few years ago in the Kraft Food & Family magazine and
have been enjoying them ever since!

Start with one package of Peanut Butter Oreo cookies,
these things are dangerously good, 
so don't buy to the cookies too far in advance of making the treats

I chopped them up using my trusty, mini-chopper…
works great to make nice uniform crumbs. 

Then one 8 oz package of cream cheese was softened in the microwave
and added to the Oreo crumbs. 

Using a fork, the crumbs and cream cheese were thoroughly combined. 

I have found that it is much, MUCH easier to 
form cold, stiff, partially frozen dough into balls.

So, I pop this into the freezer for about 30 minutes…
(in the mean time, you can get dinner started!)

 When the dough was chilled, 
about 36 Oreo balls were formed.  

I generally err on the side of smaller, bite-size balls. 

They can get big fast,
 especially when coating with melted chocolate. 

Pop the dough balls back into the freezer for about 30 minutes 
so that they are easier to manage
and don't melt apart in the chocolate. 

That is also NO fun…spoken from experience. 

Once the dough was ready for coating, 
4 oz of white chocolate was melted in the microwave according to the instructions. 

I generally opt for a smaller, deep bowl
so that not too much chocolate is wasted on the sides. 

Using a toothpick, the Oreo balls are dipped in the melted white chocolate and
swirled for complete coverage.

Set onto wax paper, 
sprinkled with orange sugar and 
topped with a pretzel stick for the stem.  

Four ounces of chocolate covered about 1 dozen Oreo balls. 

So, then melt and dip accordingly until finished.  

I highly recommend melting about 4 oz of chocolate at a time…

it starts to cool and harden fast and 
I don't recommend the texture of chocolate that has been melted too many times. 

RECIPE:                Makes about 3 dozen Oreo Balls
1 package Peanut Butter Oreo Cookies
8oz Cream cheese - softened
12 oz of white chocolate for baking 
Orange sugar
Pretzel Sticks

Crush Oreos in food processor to achieve consistent crumbs. 
Combine with softened cream cheese. 
Freeze for 30 minutes to harden for ease of handling.
Form into Oreo balls, erring on the smaller side. 
Freeze for 30 minutes to harden for ease of handling. 
Melt white chocolate about 4 oz at a time. 
Using a toothpick, dip and swirl the Oreo balls to cover. 
Place on wax paper, sprinkle with Orange sugar and add the pretzel. 

I generally store in the refrigerator or freezer to keep the texture firm. 

Sunday, October 26, 2014

Buffalo Chicken Tacos with Bleu Cheese Slaw

Welcome to football Sunday! 

I have the perfect recipe for your Sunday Night Football party tonight.  

Just put some chicken in a slow cooker, so you can enjoy this beautiful afternoon and 
just add the fixings for the game tonight.  

Just start with a package of chicken tenders, this was 1.75# in the slow cooker with 
1 cup of chicken broth along with 
1 tbsp minced garlic, 
1 tsp of onion powder and 
fresh ground black pepper. 

Let this cook for 3-5 hours on high. 

And the chicken was cooked. 

From the slow cooker to the plate for shredding. 

Juicy tender meats shred so easily after a few hours in the slow cooker. 

My new go-to starting ground for dinner. 
When in doubt, throw some meat in a slow cooker and I'll figure out the rest later. 

The chicken was placed back in the slow cooker, 
be sure to drain the cooking broth first. 

About 1/2 cup of Hot Sauce and 1/2 stick of butter were added to sauce things up a bit. 

Stirred it all up a bit and kept it on low until we were ready to eat.  

The ultimate topping for these tacos is bleu cheese slaw. 
Perfect combination of familiar flavors and textures.  

All you need to do is stir up 3 simple ingredients...
3 cups of shredded cabbage, 
1 cup of bleu cheese dressing and 
1/2 cup of bleu cheese crumbles.

1.75# of chicken tenders
1 cup of chicken broth
1 tbsp minced garlic
1 tsp of onion powder
Fresh ground black pepper
1/2 cup of Hot Sauce
1/2 stick of butter
Soft taco shells


3 cups of shredded cabbage, 
1 cup of bleu cheese dressing and 
1/2 cup of bleu cheese crumbles
Celery for garnish

Cook the chicken in the slow cooker on high for 3-5 hours or low for 5-7 hours along with the broth, garlic, onion and pepper. 

Shred the chicken, pour out the cooking broth. 
Add the chicken back to the slow cooker, top with hot sauce and butter. 
Leave in slow cooker on low until ready to eat. 

For the slaw, top 3 cups of cabbage with bleu cheese dressing and crumbles. 

Assemble the tacos by placing the chicken in the taco, topping with the slaw and garnishing with celery. 

Wednesday, October 22, 2014

Pumpkin Nutella Oatmeal Muffins

Hope you are enjoying the highlights of fall…
I know we are!
Football, Colorful trees, Bonfires, Apples and, of course, Pumpkins. 

Funny thing though, in my house, when my kids request something…
they never quite get exactly what they are asking for
but are generally pleased with what they get instead.  

In this case, Ryker asked for banana muffins and 
while taking on some of the male traits in my house, 
I selectively heard "muffins".

So, I was more than happy to fulfill his request.  

I'm pretty sure that if these were straight up pumpkin muffins, 
he would have been somewhat disappointed.  

However, the Nutella in the middle, makes these out of this world.  

The creamy, nutty, chocolate-y middle 
was a perfect contrast for the oatmeal and pumpkin muffin. 

But, don't take my word for it…try it for yourself. 

I just started with a basic pumpkin bread recipe and made my own tweaks along the way.  

About 1 cup of pumpkin puree, 1/2 cup of canola oil, 1/2 cup of light brown sugar, 1/4 cup water and 2 eggs were measured into my trusty mixing bowl. 

After mixing, it looked like I went into the baby-food making business.  

Not so much. 

I happen to be a huge fan of oatmeal in my baked goods, 
so instead of adding flour next, 
I added 1 cup of quick oats
I could balance out the flour later once I knew the consistency. 

Then, I only went with 1/2 cup of sugar

Especially when adding embellishments like chocolate or Nutella, 
the baked goods themselves can thrive on less sugar. 

Then, for the minor ingredients, the traditional pumpkin spices were added,
1 tsp cinnamon
1/4 tsp nutmeg
1/4 tsp ginger
along with 2 tsp baking powder and 1/2 tsp salt. 

After mixing that all up, I decided that about 1 cup of flour would yield the desired consistency. 

Yep, looks about right!

Before I get too far ahead of myself, the oven needs to be pre-heated to 350 F. 

Then, a sprayed muffin tin can be filled 3/4 full with the muffin batter. 

Now, about 1 tbsp of Nutella was plopped into each muffin tin. 

Then, just using a knife, the Nutella was gently swirled into the batter. 

Upon completion, there was just a hint of the Nutella visible from the top. 

They were popped into the oven for 20-25 minutes. 

This is what mine looked like after 22 minutes. 

1 cup of pumpkin puree
1/2 cup of canola oil
1/2 cup of light brown sugar
1/4 cup water
2 eggs
1 cup quick oats
1/2 cup sugar
1 tsp cinnamon
1/4 tsp nutmeg
1/4 tsp ginger
2 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp salt
1 cup flour
Cooking spray
3/4 cup Nutella - divided into Tbsp

Preheat oven to 350 F.
Blend together the first 5 wet ingredients. 
Then add the next 8 dry ingredients. 
Pour muffin batter into sprayed muffin tins, filling about 3/4 full. 
Add about 1 tbsp of Nutella to each tin and gently swirl with a knife to incorporate. 
Bake for 20-25 minutes and allow to cool. 

I love having baked goods around. 
My kids were able to enjoy them for breakfast and after school snacks
I was able to share a few with friends!  

Monday, October 20, 2014

Apple Chicken Chili

If you enjoy fall recipes as much as I do...I've got an all time favorite for you!

Of course we all love chili. 
And chicken makes everything healthier.  
Imagine adding the seasonal favorite fruit.

Apple chicken chili...
Nothing short of amazing!  

To keep this dish in that special place,
I only make it once a year. 
We savor it and look forward to next fall for this perfect fall meal.  

This starts with about a pound and a half of chicken tenders,
In a preheated pan with 2-3 tablespoons of canola oil

Season the tenders with 2 tsp of chili powder and 1 tsp cumin.
Brown them up over medium heat until cooked through.  

Then, set the them aside on a cutting board, to free up the pan for the next step.  

Add another 3 tbsp of oil to the pan just before adding 2-3 chopped golden delicious apples.  

We picked our apples up from Hawk's Orchard in Milton.  
They certainly have some of the best apples around! 

Next, one medium, chopped onion was added to sautée with the apples.  

Brown for about 5 minutes over medium heat.

Then add to a bowl, along with the chicken.

Finally, melt a half stick of butter and to it add 1/4 cup of flour.
I used soy flour to stay away from the gluten, but standard wheat flour works just fine too!

Whisk the two together over medium heat for 2 minutes to cook the flour
which will then be our thickening agent. 

Next, add 2 cups of chicken broth to the roux along with 
1/2 cup of milk

Stir it up and bring to a boil. 

Then, add in the chicken, apple and onion mixture back to the vessel.

As well as 2 cans of Great Northern Beans, rinsed.

And, of course, don't forget 2 cups of shredded Monterey Jack cheese!  

Stir it up and let it simmer for about 20 minutes or until you just can't take it any longer!

1.5# chicken tenders
6 tablespoons of canola oil - divided
2 tsp of chili powder
1 tsp cumin
3 golden delicious apples - chopped
1 medium onion - chopped
1/2 stick of butter 
1/4 cup flour
2 cups of chicken broth
1/2 cup of milk
2 cans of Great Northern Beans
2 cups of shredded Monterey Jack cheese

Cook tenders in dutch oven with 3 tbsp canola oil over medium heat, season with chili powder and cumin. 
Remove tenders once done, placed on cutting board for chopping into bite sized pieces. 
Add 3 tbsp of canola oil, the chopped apples and onions.
Allow to sautee for 5-6 minutes until softened, set aside with chicken. 
Melt butter in dutch oven, add flour and whisk constantly over med low heat to form a roux for 2 minutes. 
Add chicken broth and milk and continue stirring. 
Once returned to a boil, add chicken and apples, beans and cheese. 
Simmer for 20 minutes.