Happy Sunday, everyone, hope you had a nice weekend! (Please acknowledge Ben’s pained smile, btw. He LOVES posing, can’t you tell? )
Bahahaha. J/K. We’ve had a good mix of fun and relaxation these past couple of days. Saturday I slept in ’til the unGodly hour of 9am, then got some work done before Ben and I went to lunch at a place his family used to frequent a lot time growing up. It was not quite what he remembered, nor what I expected, but hey, at least they serve fresh, free potato chips with every meal.
These were cut ever-so-slightly thick, fried fresh (oxymoron?) and were a yummy, Saturday afternoon treat!
Afterwards we hopped over to the mall to get some Christmas shopping done amongst the bustling crowds. I snapped pics of the beautiful holiday decor that Von Maur department stores are known for around this time of year, while Ben got a glimpse into his future.
Our final stop of the day was my parent’s house for a visit, where we found my Mom putting up all the Christmas decorations. Cozy!
Ben and I hung out for awhile “helping”, aka eating their food and pointing out empty spots on the tree, before retiring for the evening to the cozy recesses of our couch to watch two movies On Demand – Father of Invention and Son of No One.
I’m faaaairly certain they had both gone straight to DVD, but it was kind of fun to giggle at how bad they were!
All the Christmas decor must have tipped Mother Nature off, because this morning we woke up to a winter wonderland outside! I felt like I was in a movie as I hopped out of bed, pulled back the curtains, and saw the snow gently falling.
At this point it’s too pretty to get mad at, but give me a day or two…!
This afternoon we had a big family lunch back over at my parent’s house. Since Ben and I will be in DC for Christmas this year, this was the last time we could all get together before we left!
Fresh salmon was on the menu!
My Mom bought fresh, wild-caught salmon from the store the other day, which my brother sauteed then topped with my fresh artichoke salsa. A side of roasted asparagus, and baked sweet potato fries rounded out the meal. YUM.
My sister-in-law brought over dairy, egg, and gluten-free cookie bars (my nephew has bad food allergies) for dessert. They were DELICIOUS!
Made with almond flour, coconut butter, and zero dairy, egg, or gluten – we were all amazed at how much they tasted like a standard chocolate chip cookie bar. I’ll let you know if she blogs about it!
I didn’t think I could eat another drop after such a big lunch but, inspired by the cold and snowy day, I’d put a big batch of Crock Pot Potato, Barley, and Canadian Bacon Soup on before we left. Somehow I managed to free up some room in my stomach for a small bowl at dinner time!
This soup takes about 10 minutes of prep work in the form of chopping veggies, but other than that it is a cinch to make. Plus it’s super healthy, too – full of vitamin-rich veggies, and heart-healthy barley!
Simply combine 1 large chopped potato with 1 large chopped carrot in a large crock pot.
Next add 1 chopped rib celery, and 1/2 chopped onion (I usually leave onions large in recipes since Ben and onions don’t play well together!)
Chop up 6oz Canadian Bacon and add that on top.
Followed by 3 cloves minced garlic and 4 cups chicken broth.
1/2 cup barley goes in next (regular, not quick-cooking.)
Followed by some spices: 1/4 teaspoon dried thyme, 1 bay leaf, and salt & pepper.
Cook the soup on low for 5-6 hours, or until the barley is tender, and potatoes are creamy.
Finally, stream in 1 cup fat-free evaporated milk, then cook for 30 more minutes on high with the lid cracked.
Scoop out, and dig in!
Crock Pot Potato, Barley & Canadian Bacon Soup
Slightly adapted from Laa Loosh
1 large potato, peeled and diced
1 large carrot, chopped
1 celery rib, chopped
1/2 onion, chopped
6oz Canadian Bacon, chopped
3 cloves garlic, minced
4 cups chicken broth
1/2 cup barley (not quick-cooking)
1/4 teaspoon thyme
salt & pepper
1 bay leaf
1 cup fat-free evaporated milk
- Combine all ingredients except evaporated milk into a crock pot. Cook on low for 5-6 hours, or until barley is cooked and potatoes are creamy. Add evaporated milk then cook for 30 more minutes on high with the lid cracked.
Super hearty, but SO healthy tasting! The Canadian Bacon was really smokey, and made the soup taste a lot more decadent than it actually is.
Served with a sliced Honeycrisp on the side. I forget to get apples at the store last week (Ben and I are apple hoarders) and we’ve been slowly shriveling away without them. Mmmmm, that’s much better!
A Peppermint Cheesecake sample from The Cheesecake Factory is on tap for dessert. Ben went out shopping on his own this afternoon and came back empty handed, save for this free sample they were handing out at the mall. I’ll take it!
Have a great night, everyone!
What was the highlight of your weekend?