Crockpot Bean & Barley Soup

soup

So, for those of you awesome GTBTC fans who actually follow me on Instagram, you probably already know about my fear of using my Crockpot.  I totally understand that it’s not very powerful, and that no one’s house burns down because of it, and that like… everyone else uses it and leaves their house and their house doesn’t burn to the ground… but it’s scary!  What if that happens to me?!

One of the things I want to do this winter season is to start using the crock more… without anxiety.  I can do that, I think!

With the new job, I have to work one day a week as a “late” day, where I come into work at 11:45am and work until 8:15pm.  It’s not the most ideal schedule but it’s great for using the crock.  I’ve done it a few times now, and it’s awesome.

In the morning, I do all the prep, stick my food in the crock, and then have it ready for Dave and I to eat once I get home late.  It’s so much better than starting to cook at 9pm.

This recipe is fabulous, and I can’t wait to make it again.  I even have enough leftover of all of the ingredients to make it a second time without shopping again!  Perfect!  This vegetarian-friendly soup is so delicious and filling, and I even let myself use the Porcini Mushrooms despite Dave’s hatred for them.  I just had him pick them out, and everything was right in the world.

Enjoy this “Meatless Monday” recipe on a Wednesday 🙂

Crockpot Bean & Barley Soup

Ingredients:

1 cup Dried Multi-Bean Mix, picked through and rinsed
1/2 cup Barley
3 Cloves Garlic, smashed/chopped
2 Medium Carrots, roughly chopped
2 Ribs Celery, roughly chopped
1/2 Onion, roughly chopped
1 Bay Leaf
Kosher salt, Black Pepper
2 teaspoons Dried Italian Herb Blend
1/2 ounce Dried Porcini Mushrooms, crumbled if large*
One 24-oz can Whole Tomatoes, with juice
1 package Frozen Chopped Spinach
1/4 cup Grated Parmesan
Balsamic vinegar, for drizzling
Extra-virgin olive oil, for drizzling

Directions:
1. Put 6 cups water, the beans, barley, garlic, carrots, celery, onions, bay leaf, 1 1/2 Tablespoons salt, herb blend, some pepper and the porcini mushrooms (if using) in a slow cooker.
2. Chop the tomatoes, keeping the juice and put the tomatoes into the crockpot with all the juices.
3. Cover and cook on high until the soup is thick, about 8 hours.
4. Add the spinach and cheese, and stir until the spinach wilts, about 5 minutes.
5. Remove the bay leaf and season with salt and pepper.
6. Ladle into bowls and drizzle each serving with Balsamic Vinegar and Olive Oil.  ENJOY!

Recipe adapted from:  Food Network Kitchen

*I bought the Porcini Mushrooms at Wegmans, but you can probably find them anywhere!  They were in a section near the produce in it’s own little area with other dried mushrooms*

All of the ingredients ready to go

All of the ingredients ready to go

Before the water goes in

Before the water goes in

Finished product!

Finished product!

Drizzle of balsamic and EVOO does the trick.  So good.

Drizzle of balsamic and EVOO does the trick. So good.

I shared this soup with a few friends from work, and we all loved it.  It’s thick and creamy and rich, without sacrificing the positive qualities of all of the good stuff in there.  It’s so healthy!

I found this recipe to make about 6 pretty big servings.  Don’t skimp on the Balsamic and EVOO- I added just a little bit to two tiny tupperwares when I brought this for lunch, and I’m glad I did!  The Balsamic gives the soup such an awesome interesting flavor, and it is a great contrast to the richness in the soup.

What crock recipes have you been making this winter?  Feel free to share!

Enchilada Stuffed Peppers

stuffedpeppers

As it turns out, getting a new job, getting married, planning and going on an 18 day honeymoon in Hawaii all while trying to maintain a social life is JUST ENOUGH to prohibit me from blogging like I used to!  Sheesh!  Imagine that.

I’m more than happy to be back to share the first of many awesome recipes I’ve been busy with in my kitchen for you today.  This recipe is my first attempt at Stuffed Peppers- something Dave and I first tried on our trip to Israel  and that I have promised to make for him since.  It’s only taken 3.5 years.  No big deal.

I will be the first to admit that bell peppers are not my favorite ingredient.  I know they’re so basic and in everything, I just am not their biggest fan, so I guess I wasn’t super excited to try these out.  I think it was my trust in one of my favorite bloggers, Nikki from Chef in Training that gave me the courage to try this new recipe out (she’s fabulous, check out her blog!).  Her recipe for Enchilada Stuffed Bell Peppers caught my attention, especially because I already had most of the ingredients in my pantry.  Score!

Enchilada Stuffed Peppers
Recipe slighly adapted from: Chef in Training

Ingredients:

6 Red Bell Peppers  

1lb Ground Turkey, lean

2 Zucchinis, chopped small

1 – 15oz can Black Beans, drained and rinsed

1 cup Corn

1 cup Shredded Cheddar Cheese (plus a little extra for topping)

10oz can Enchilada Sauce

1 teaspoon Cumin

1 teaspoon Salt & 1 teaspoon Pepper

Fat Free Sour Cream for topping (optional)

Directions:

1.  Cut just the tops off the bell peppers and hollow out the insides.  Place in a large baking pan or pyrex dish and set aside.  

2.   In a large skillet, brown and chop ground turkey and the zucchini until cooked through and juices run clear and the zucchini is starting to soften.  

3.  Place turkey/zucc mixture in a large mixing bowl and add the black beans, corn, cheese, enchilada sauce, cumin and salt and stir until everything is combined.  

4.  Stuff each bell pepper to the top.  Cover the pan with foil.

5.  Bake in the oven at 350 for 1 hour.  Remove pan and foil and sprinkle a little extra cheese on the top and bake uncovered for another 5 minutes or so until the cheese is melted.  ENJOY!

 

Peppers ready to be stuffed

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The original recipe calls for a little more ground turkey, which I didn’t have handy, so I used the chopped zucchini, which worked just fabulously.  You could really use whatever vegetables you wanted!  If you chop them into nice, small pieces, it will work perfectly.

My new job requires me to work one “late day” each week, so this stuffed pepper recipe was perfect for that type of day.  I did all the cooking in the morning, which didn’t take long… then I stuffed the peppers and prepared them in the dish and stuck them in the fridge.  When I left work for my 45 min commute home, Dave popped them in the oven and dinner was ready when I got home!  It was perfect.

We ate the peppers for lunches the rest of the week- they are absolutely delicious.  The enchilada sauce makes the dish so flavorful and spicy, and I just love hot lunches in the wintertime.  I can’t wait to try new versions of this!  Who knows, maybe this will be the start of me finally liking bell peppers?

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White Bean & Pomegranate Salad : BA Cleanse 2014

Anyone following on Instagram knows about “the cleanse”. (and if you aren’t … go follow now!)

At the time of the last post I wrote, Dave and I were starting a little new year challenge to follow Bon Appetit’s “Food Lover’s Cleanse“.  Now that we’re almost done, I will have some time to tell you all about it!  I cannot wait to share some of the new recipes I’ve learned with you.  It’s been a week and a half full of prepping and cooking but it was worth it.  Both of us have really enjoyed the cleanse, and after the first two days and the re-discovery of clementines, we really never felt hungry.

The first cleanse recipe I want to tell you about is for an amazing side that was made by DAVE!  He has been such a big help during the cleanse since it involves so many recipes and a ton of time in the kitchen.  I had to share this side dish with you, I was SO impressed!

This bean salad is very easy to make- it’s light and fresh with the parsley and crunch of the pomegranate arils but hearty and full of fiber!

I never get a chance to make interesting sides, so this one has to get some special recognition!

White Bean & Pomegranate Salad

Ingredients:

1 (15oz) can Cannellini Beans, rinsed

1/3 cup Pomegranate Seeds*

1 Tablespoon Fresh Lemon Juice

1 Tablespoon Olive Oil

1/4 cup Scallions (thinly sliced whites and pale green parts only.  Cut on a diagonal)

2 Tablespoons fresh Flat-Leaf Parsley, chopped

1/2 teaspoon Kosher Salt

1/4 teaspoon Ground Black Pepper

Directions:

Toss beans, pomegranate seeds, lemon juice, oil, scallions, parsley, and ½ tsp. salt together in a medium bowl; season with salt and pepper. (Doesn’t get much easier than that, does it?!)

*Here’s some help on how to de-seed your pom!

Recipe from:  Bon Appetit

This side would be great with really anything, but we ate it on our cleanse along with some pan-roasted chicken topped with a Red Pepper-Walnut Relish- the recipes for those are found below!  I was super psyched about the chicken- the recipe called for some pan frying on the stove and for the chicken to be finished off in the oven… this meant I was able to use one of our new pans!  YAY!

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Red Pepper Walnut Relish:  Recipe Here

Pan-Roasted Chicken:  Recipe Here

Seared Scallops w/ Warm Tuscan Beans

I have literally been sitting here every day this week staring at this recipe trying to think of something creative to talk about.  There’s just  nothing up there.  I blame insurance.

For those of you who don’t know yet- I started a new career this summer.  I am now an insurance agent!  It’s going really well so far- I am so much happier than I used to be at my old job, I’m making money, helping people, on my own schedule working from home… it’s all good.  Except I’m losing my mind… well at least my creativity.

the cutest health insurance image out there

the cutest health insurance image out there

Don’t worry, I’m still eating and cooking up lots of good food.  I just don’t have the time or creativity to sit down and write about it for you!  BOO!  So anyway, forgive me.  Now take a minute to read about this really fabulous recipe that deserves a more interesting blog post than me telling you about my job.  It really does deserve more.  Sorry bout that scallops!

Seared Scallops w/ Warm Tuscan Beans

Ingredients:

  • 2 tablespoons Olive Oil, divided
  • 3/4 lb Sea Scallops
  • 1/4 teaspoon Salt
  • 1/2 cup Onion, chopped
  • 1/8 teaspoon Crushed Red Pepper
  • 2 Garlic Cloves, minced
  • 1/4 cup Dry White Wine
  • 1 cup Chicken Broth- fat free/low sodium
  • 1  can Cannellini Beans or other white beans, rinsed and drained
  • 1 (6oz) package Baby Spinach
  • 2 tablespoons Fresh Basil, chopped

Directions:

  1. Heat 1 tablespoon  of olive oil in a large skillet over medium-high heat.  Rinse scallops and pat dry with a paper towel.  Sprinkle scallops evenly with salt. Add scallops to pan; cook 2 minutes on each side or until done.  Remove scallops from pan placing on a plate and cover with foil to keep warm.
  2. Add remaining 1 tablespoon oil and onion to pan; sauté 2 minutes. Add pepper and garlic; cook 20 seconds, stirring constantly. Stir in wine; cook 1 minute or until most of liquid evaporates. Stir in broth and beans; cook 2 minutes. Add spinach; cook 1 minute or until spinach wilts. Remove from heat; stir in basil.
  3. The original recipe suggests dipping grilled garlic bread into the brothy beans.  (I garlic-ified leftover hamburger buns for us!)  Here is their recipe:  Heat a grill pan over medium heat. Brush 1 tablespoon olive oil evenly over 4 (1-ounce) slices French bread. Add bread to pan; cook 2 minutes on each side or until lightly browned. Rub one side of each bread slice with cut sides of a halved garlic clove.

Recipe slightly adapted from:  Cooking Light

Pat the scallops dry then season with sea salt

Pat the scallops dry then season with sea salt

Sear the scallops in a hot pan with just a little bit of olive oil.  Don't touch them until you are ready to flip.  You'll get a nice crust like these have.

Sear the scallops in a hot pan with just a little bit of olive oil. Don’t touch them until you are ready to flip. You’ll get a nice crust like these have.

Beans, spinach... nice and brothy... yum!

Beans, spinach… nice and brothy… yum!

The finished product.  Don't forget some crusty garlic bread to dip!

The finished product. Don’t forget some crusty garlic bread to dip!

Scallops are such a treat for me- I absolutely love them.  This recipe was different from how I normally cook my scallops and both Dave and I really enjoyed the change.

Now- who needs health or life insurance?!  Maybe some extra business will help with my creativity 😉

Check out some of these other seafood recipes…

Crabcake Mac & Cheese

Crabcake Mac & Cheese

Clams w/ Israeli Couscous

Clams w/ Israeli Couscous

Seared Scallops & Shrimp w/ Creamy Linguine

Seared Scallops & Shrimp w/ Creamy Linguine

 

 

Sriracha White Bean Dip

SRIRACHA and pretty much anything with hot sauce, hot peppers, or spice is the specialty of our house.  Sriracha and Crushed Red Pepper can be found with the Salt, Pepper, and Olive Oil next to my stovetop.  We even buy Frank’s Hot Sauce by the gallon (not kidding).

Needless to say, my boyfriend Dave and I LOVE spicy food.  

About a month ago while on my neverending hunt for recipes to save through pages and pages of other food blogs, I came across a new Sriracha recipe that I knew I had to jot down.

This Bean Dip could fake you out into thinking it’s Hummus.  It looks just like it.  But it’s NOT!  No sesame, no Tahini to be found here.  Just some white beans, some seriously bold flavors, and our very favorite condiment- Sriracha.

Sriracha White Bean Dip

Serves: 2-4 

Ingredients:

1 can Cannellini Beans, rinsed and drained

1 Tablespoon Grapeseed Oil (or olive oil)

1/2 teaspoon Hot Sesame Oil

2 Tablespoons Low Sodium Soy Sauce

2 Tablespoons Sriracha Hot Sauce + some more for good luck

1 Clove Garlic or 1 teaspoon Minced Garlic

1/2 teaspoon Curry Powder

1/8-1/4 cup Water (More or less for texture purposes.  You can always save some of the liquid from the can of beans for this step instead)

1 Tablespoon Lime Juice

Serve w/: Baby Carrots, Celery, Bell Peppers, Pita Bread, Crackers, etc.

Directions:  

Put everything in a blender and process until smooth.  Enjoy!

Recipe adapted from:  White on Rice Couple’s Spicy White Bean Dip

Nutrition Facts (4 Servings)

Calories: 121

Sugar: 2g

Fat: 4g

Protein: 6g

Fiber: 7g

Carbs: 19g

So, I’m going to challenge you to only eat 1/4 of this recipe.  It’s going to be hard.  It’s really yummy and addictive because it’s spicy.  Although it’s healthy, just like hummus, you have to be careful with your portions and not eat too much.

I made this in five minutes total after dinner the other day and split it up right away into two tupperwares for Dave and I to enjoy with carrots at work this week.

Serve at a party or just put into small tupperwares for snacks at work!

Serve at a party or just put into small tupperwares for snacks at work!

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This dip will definitely please anyone who likes spicy food… give it a try instead of hummus!

Check out these other Dips too!

Jalapeno Popper Dip

Jalapeno Popper Dip

Italian Hoagie Dip

Italian Hoagie Dip

Pumpkin Hummus

Pumpkin Hummus

The latest most adorable picture of Miss Stella May

The latest most adorable picture of Miss Stella May

Corn & Bean Salad

One of Dave’s favorite recipes and certainly the most requested by him is a Corn & Bean Salad that one of my co-workers, Valerie, shared with me a few years ago.  Val likes to make this salad in the summer but Dave and I can never seem to hold out all winter!
The most fun thing about this salad is that you can do a lot of different add-ins or spices to change things up!

Corn & Bean Salad

 Ingredients:
1 can No Salt Added Whole Kernel Corn, drained
1 can Dark Red Kidney Beans, drained & rinsed
1 large Jalapeno, seeded & diced
2 Tablespoons Olive Oil Mayo (reduced fat)
2 Tablespoons Apple Cider Vinegar
Seasonings: Garlic Powder, Sea Salt, Black Pepper, Cayenne Pepper
 Directions:
Combine all ingredients into a small bowl.  Stir and season to taste. Let sit for an hour or overnight & the flavors will intensify. 
 
Here are some ways I’ve spiced this recipe up in the past:
Add: Rotel, Diced Water Chesnuts, Chopped Celery, Chopped Onion
Switch Beans:  Black Beans, Small Red Beans, White Beans
Change flavors with different spices:  More Cayenne, Cumin, Smoked Paprika, Dill, Cilantro
… the options are endless!
 
If you divide the salad up into four separate tupperwares, each serving of this yummy side salad will only cost you about 160 calories!  I definitely recommend splitting it up or you might eat it all in one sitting!
I always think it's so pretty :)

I always think it’s so pretty 🙂

YUM!  This would be awesome in a taco... but we just eat it on it's own as a side!

YUM! This would be awesome in a taco… but we just eat it on it’s own as a side!

 
Corn & Bean Salad Nutrition
Makes Four Servings:
163 Calories
3 grams Fat
8 grams Protein
10 grams Fiber
30 grams Carbs 
(4 Points Plus per Serving)

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B+W Bean Quesadillas w/ Avocado Ranch Dip

Hi friends!  On Fridays around here… I always like to say “Happy Friday” to everyone at work, the blog, and well… anyone I talk to!  What am I supposed to say on Mondays… “sorry it’s Monday” or “I know how much today sucks for you too”?  UGH!  Mondays are the WORST around here!

Just about the only thing I’ve been liking Mondays for lately has been sharing fun & new meatless recipes with all of you!  I have been enjoying jumping on this blogging bandwagon of Meatless Mondays… it typically saves me some moolah & lightens up my meal for that day.  Are you in on Meatless Mondays yet?

Today’s meatless recipe was so much fun to make.  I felt really fancy making HOMEMADE ranch dipping sauce.  The best part of it all is that this meal was so simple to make, that I only needed to buy an avocado for it.  I had everything else already at home.  Love it!  I barely adapted this recipe from one of my favorite bloggers, Jessica from How Sweet It Is.  She not only makes some delicious food, but she takes gorgeous photos too!  This recipe was a great find from her blog.

Black & White Bean Quesadillas w/ Avocado Ranch Dip

Serves: 2 for dinner, 4 for lunch or snack

Ingredients:
(for the Quesadillas)
1 cup Black Beans, drained and rinsed
1 cup Cannellini Beans, drained and rinsed
1/4 cup Sharp Cheddar Cheese, shredded
2 Slices Pepper Jack Cheese (or you can use shredded)
8 small Corn Tortillas
Olive Oil for the pan
Hot Sauce Optional for topping
(for the Avocado Ranch Dip)
1 ripe Avocado
1/3 cup Sour Cream
1/4 cup Olive Oil (reduced fat) Mayo
2 Tablespoons Parsley (I use freeze dried, you can use fresh or 1T dried)
1 Tablespoon Dried Dill (or 2T if you have fresh)
1 Tablespoon Minced Garlic
1 teaspoon Worcestershire Sauce
1/2 teaspoon Apple Cider Vinegar (orig. calls for white but I was all out!)
1/2 teaspoon Hot Hungarian Paprika (use Smoked if you don’t have this)
1/4 teaspoon Onion Powder
1/4 teaspoon Sea Salt
1/4 teaspoon Ground Black Pepper

Directions:
1. In a bowl, mash together Black Beans & Cannellini beans with a fork.
2. Heat a large pan, skillet, or flat griddle over medium heat. Add a Tablespoon or so of Olive Oil (just to coat). Once the oil is hot (a minute or so), depending on the size of your pan, place 2 or 4 corn tortillas down on the oil. Cover each with a sprinkling of cheddar cheese. Add a heaping Tablespoon-1/4 cup full of the bean mixture and top with 1/2 slice of Pepperjack Cheese. Take another corn tortilla and place ontop, gently pressing down to smush the bean mixture evenly. (Repeat with other tortillas) Cook until the bottom tortilla is golden brown, then gently flip and cook the other side for 2-4 more minutes until that side is also browning.
3. For the Avocado Ranch Dipping Sauce: Combine all ingredients in a food processor or blender until creamy, scraping down the sides several times as needed. Taste and season more if needed. You can store this dipping sauce in a sealed container for an extra day or two for other recipes if you’d like!

Recipe adapted from Jessica @ How Sweet It Is

So, while the ingredient list here is a little on the long side- don’t get intimidated.  Like, seriously.  It’s mostly stuff you have in your pantry or spice cabinet.  You could also of course, just skip the sauce all together and just use store bought ranch… but that wouldn’t be as rewarding and impressive as making your own.  Try it!

I have a few comments about this one- besides telling you how fabulously amazing these were. (THESE WERE FABULOUSLY AMAZING!!)

1.  Keep in mind that I have been trying to be healthy and lose weight.  While this recipe isn’t the top of any dieting how-to, you should remember this when looking at my recipes.  I cut down on cheese.  I use whole wheat, whole grain, low fat, etc. versions of everything.  I’m sure this recipe would be seriously more fabulously amazing with some extra cheese.   Try it if you’d like!

2.  I typically try to modify recipes not only to make them healthier when possible, but to try to use ingredients I already have in my house.  For this recipe, the small corn tortillas were fine… but if you have large wraps or burrito wraps in your house- go ahead, use them!

3.  I remember from school that you should always have at least three points when you are making lists or numbering… so it only felt right to do that here.  I really only have those two things to say.  🙂

4.  Okay, maybe I should also tell you that you have to try this for your own Meatless Monday and ENJOY!

B&W... not to be confused with the milkshake!

B&W… not to be confused with the milkshake!

This is all I needed for the dip... I had it all at home already.  (Don't you LOVE my moo-cow salt and pepper shakers?? My Mommom bought them for me :) )

This is all I needed for the dip… I had it all at home already. (Don’t you LOVE my moo-cow salt and pepper shakers?? My Mommom bought them for me 🙂 )

Everything into the food processor to be whipped up into your homemade dip

Everything into the food processor to be whipped up into your homemade dip

Nom nom nom!  Delicious quesadillas.

Nom nom nom! Delicious quesadillas.

quesadilla

 

Dave bought me these gorgeous purple flowers from TJ's this week :)

Dave bought me these gorgeous purple flowers from TJ’s this week 🙂

They make my kitchen look so pretty!!

They make my kitchen look so pretty!!

 

Or…. try one of these other Meatless Monday Recipes!

Butternut Squash Tacos

Butternut Squash Tacos

Portobello Mushroom Burgers w/ Balsamic Glaze

Portobello Mushroom Burgers w/ Balsamic Glaze

Chickpea & Vegetable Curry (Crockpot!)

Chickpea & Vegetable Curry (Crockpot!)