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!

Crockpot Coconut Curry – SRC July

Crockpot Coconut Curry w/ Eggplant & Zucchini – for the SRC July

curry.jpg

I know that typically people whip out their good ol’ slow cookers in the dead of winter, but I am super happy I decided to try this out despite the fact that it’s (OMG… already?!?) July!  There’s absolutely something to be said about a recipe that takes zero effort to prepare and no time standing over a hot grill, oven, or stovetop.  And I just love having a “Meatless Monday” to start my week of right.

What I love so much about cooking -and blogging- is that I can find so many different recipes from different places.  This recipe happened because of a really awesome blogging club that I participate in, called The Secret Recipe Club.  Forget what my Secret Recipe Club is?  Every month, we are assigned a new blogger.  We get to pick ANY recipe that blogger has written about and cook it up ourselves.  We can make adjustments according to our tastes too.  All of the bloggers post their results on the same day and we all get to see who had who and more importantly, what delicious dishes were made!

Secret Recipe Club

This month, I was paired with the adorable vegetarian blogger, Amanda and her blog Dancing Veggies.  Despite being the opposite of a vegetarian, I totally fell in foodie-love with Amanda’s blog.  Her veggie dishes are super flavorful and complex, it was so hard to pick just one.  Amanda loves spicy food, like us, so this Crockpot Coconut Curry won out.  It was amazing!

Crockpot Coconut Curry – Eggplant & Zucchini

Ingredients:

  • 1/2 Sweet Onion, large
  • 1 Red Bell Pepper, seeded and quartered
  • 2 Thai Chilies, minced
  • 4 Garlic Cloves
  • 1 6oz can Tomato Paste
  • 1 can (14.5 oz) Light Coconut Milk
  • 1 teaspoon Kosher Salt
  • 1 Tablespoon Madras Curry Powder
  • 1 Tablespoon Garam Marsala
  • 1lb Zucchini, cubed
  • 1lb Eggplant, cubed
  • 1/2 cup Fat Free Plain Greek Yogurt
  • Fresh Parsley, chopped

Directions:

  1. Place the onion, bell pepper, and thai chilies into a food processor.  Pulse until finely chopped.  Add garlic, tomato paste, coconut milk and spices and process until smooth. 
  2. Place the veggies and sauce into the slow cooker.  Cook on LOW for 4 hours.  Serve over rice with delicious naan bread.  Top with a dollop of yogurt and some fresh parsley if desired.

Recipe slightly adapted from:  Slow Cooker Coconut Curry

Ready to whirl!

Ready to whirl!

Sauce is complete and ready to go.

Sauce is complete and ready to go.

Veggies chopped... so good!

Veggies chopped… so good!

The finished product!  yummy vegetarian curry over brown basmati rice

The finished product! yummy vegetarian curry over brown basmati rice

Dave and I were just dying over this curry!  The veggies become completely melt-in-your-mouth delicious, and the curry sauce is thick and packed with spice and flavor.  I served the curry over some brown basmati rice from Trader Joe’s and skipped the Naan this time.  This healthy dish should definitely make it into your weeknight repertoire!  ENJOY, and don’t forget to check out the other posts written below by the fabulous bloggers in the SRC!

Lamb Chili

This week called for a crockpot meal.  I have been exhausted with everything going on right now, and HELLO… has anyone been outside in the last two months?!  This kind of miserable cold, snowy, icy, rainy weather practically begs for a nice hearty chili that smells up the whole house… mmmmmmmm.

Dave and I went to the market this weekend with Chili in mind.  Dave walked up to the meat area and turned around with something in his hand and a huge smile on his face.  “What if we make our chili… but with LAMB?!??”  I shrugged my shoulders and said “Why not?!”.  As we walked away with two pounds of Organic Ground Lamb, we couldn’t help but laugh that Dave’s comment was 100% something our friend Donny would say (or probably has said before).

Although there are probably some pretty awesome lamb chili recipes out there, we really were just in the mood for “our” chili, so we didn’t change the flavor too much, except we did add some extra cumin.  And as always (and as in most of the recipes I cook) you can change the ingredients and spices to fit your own preferences.  Do whatever you want… but I will tell you… this chili is bangin!

Lamb Chili

Ingredients:

10 Servings

2lb (2 pkg) Organic Ground Lamb (we found ours at Wegmans, but whole foods should have it)

1 medium Sweet Onion, diced

3 cloves Garlic, minced

4 large Carrots, peeled and sliced

1 Green Bell Pepper- diced

2 Fresh Jalapenos, diced- remove seeds to lower heat

1 can Dark Red Kidney Beans, drained

28oz Tomato Sauce (can)

2 cans Diced Tomatoes, undrained

1 can Stewed Tomatoes

¼ cup Dark (or light) Brown Sugar

1 packet Chili Spice (hot)

1 Tablespoon Cumin

1 Tablespoon Teriyaki Sauce

2 Tablespoons Worcestershire Sauce

Extra Seasoning:  Garlic Powder, Cayenne Pepper, Ground Mustard, Chili Powder, Crushed Jalapeño Chili (whole foods carries it… omg. It’s like crushed red pepper but from jalapeños.  WOW)

Directions:

1.  Cook the lamb over medium-high heat in a large pan, chopping into small pieces.  When the lamb is cooked through- drain and place in the bowl of a crockpot, leaving about a Tablespoon of grease in the pan.  Cook the onion, garlic, carrots, and peppers for about 10 minutes, stirring occasionally, until the veggies are soft.  Add to the crock.

2.  Add the rest of the ingredients into the crock.  The extra seasonings are what I suggest to add, but you can really do whatever you’d like!  Cook on low for 6-8 hours.  mmmm!

Do yourself a favor and serve with this cornbread.  So. Good.

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Some of our other favorite crockpot meals…

Chickpea & Veggie Curry

Chickpea & Veggie Curry

Asian Beef

Asian Beef

Sweet & Sour Brisket

Sweet & Sour Brisket

Slow Cooker Chicken Tikka Masala

Slow Cooker Chicken Tikka Masala