I can’t even handle this right now… Cute overload!
Family weekend with my Grandma and Aunt in town was a success, but went WAY too fast.
Saturday morning we attempted to take on the Farmers’ Market, but it started drizzling the second we arrived so we piled back in the car and headed to the movie theater to catch a matinee showing of Argo.
Other than the incessant crinkling of a plastic shopping bag courtesy of the man sitting next to my Mom and I for the entire duration of the flick, we all really enjoyed it! The movie wasn’t as action-filled as I thought it was going to be, rather it was more dramatic, and incredibly suspenseful. 2 thumbs up.
Today we all reconvened at my parents house for brunch before my Grandma and Aunt had to head home. My niece, Evie, was dressed in her most adorable outfit for the occasion. She had this little black cardigan on top, but it was getting a tad hot with everyone at the house!
Great-Grandma and great-granddaughter bonded, then we all dined on an awesome crock-pot breakfast casserole my Mom whipped up. It had layers of hash browns, eggs, sausage, then more hash browns, and was ready in just 4 hours. I think we all had 10 helpings each!
I failed to take any pictures (fail,) but I think I’ll post it on the blog sometime soon anyways. It was so good, and easy too.
Whee! (Please check out how my little brother (who lives in Denver) managed to photo bomb the family pic from 700 miles away. Bahaha! Totally unplanned, btw.)
While the kids left a short time later to nap, and my Mom and Dad drove my Grandma and Aunt to the airport, Ben and I hung back to watch Felix Baumgartner sky dive from 24 miles in the air.
Please tell me you watched this?! That is pure craziness, right there. Ben almost barfed!
Afterwards we ran some errands and I got continuously paparazzi’d, as Ben discovered Instagram today and cannot be stopped…
One of his latest snapshots is of me making tonight’s dinner of Beef & Barley Stew – an annual favorite in our household!
Ben starts requesting this thick and hearty, yet extremely healthful, stew every time the temps start to drop, and I am always more than happy to fix it.
Lean stew meat is simmered low and slow in chicken broth with carrots, mushrooms, peas, and barley. It was a chilly and blustery afternoon, and this soup takes some chopping and simmering, so while the wind howled, I cooked then enjoyed a big bowl wrapped in a blanket…on the floor, as Ben is hogging the couch.
Anyways! Start the Beef & Barley soup by seasoning 1-1/2lbs lean stew meat with salt & pepper, then tossing with flour to coat. Brown the meat in a large Dutch oven or soup pot in non-stick spray until brown, about 5 minutes.
Next add 1/2 medium chopped onion (I cut mine HUGE so Ben can pick the pieces out) and cook for a couple minutes, then add 1 cup sliced carrots, and 2 minced garlic cloves. Cook for another 5 minutes until everything’s softened up a bit.
Now add in 1 teaspoon dried parsley flakes and 1/2 teaspoon dried thyme, then pour in 5 cups chicken broth, and 1 cup water.
Bring the stew to a boil while scraping up all the yummy bits at the bottom of the pot with a wooden spoon.
Next, plop a lid on top, turn the heat down to medium-low, then let the stew simmer for 45 minutes. Perfect time to do some laundry, or catch up on a book!
K! After 45 minutes, add 4 cups peeled & chopped potatoes, 8oz sliced mushrooms (sliced big so I can pick them out!)
1 cup chopped Roma tomatoes, and 1/2 cup medium barley (not quick-cooking barley.)
Barley is SO awesome to add to soups and stews, btw. It’s an extremely heart-healthy grain that plumps up while it cooks, getting really nice and chewy.
Place the lid back on the soup pot, and cook for 45 more minutes (this is definitely a weekend soup!) until the barley is cooked.
Finally, stir in 1 cup frozen peas, and you are set to slurp.
Beef & Barley Stew
Slightly adapted from Heart Healthy Online
1-1/2lbs stew meat, trimmed of excess fat then cut into bite-sized pieces
salt & pepper
3 Tablespoons flour
1 medium onion, chopped
1 cup sliced carrots (~2 carrots)
2 garlic cloves, minced
1 teaspoon dried parsley flakes
1/2 teaspoon dried thyme
5 cups chicken broth
1 cup water
4 cups peeled & chopped potatoes (about 3 large baking potatoes)
8oz mushrooms, sliced
1 cup chopped roma tomatoes (~3 roma tomatoes)
1/2 cup medium barley (not instant)
1 cup frozen peas
- Heat a large Dutch oven or soup pot over medium heat. Season stew meat with salt and pepper then toss with flour to evenly coat. Spray Dutch oven generously with nonstick spray then add stew meat and cook until browned (does not need to be cooked all the way through.)
- Add onion and cook for 2 minutes, then add carrots and garlic and cook for another 5 minutes, or until softened. Add dried parsley flakes, dried thyme, chicken broth, and water, then turn up heat and bring to a boil, scraping bottom of pot with a wooden spoon. Place lid on top then reduce heat to medium-low and cook for 45 minutes.
- Turn heat back to high then add potatoes, mushrooms, roma tomatoes, and barley, season with more salt and pepper, then bring to a boil. Place a lid on top then reduce heat again to medium-low and cook for 30-45 more minutes, or until potatoes are tender, and barley is cooked. Add peas then stir for 1-2 minutes until heated through.
The barley in this stew is the undeniable star, but damnit do I love me some beef & potatoes, too. I used grass-fed beef, and it was like buttah.
This soup gets better and better as it sits, and makes enough to feed an army, so freeze any leftovers or enjoy ‘em all week for lunch.
Hope you had a great weekend, and even better Monday!