Crockpot Bean & Barley 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


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

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!

Foxfire Restaurant at the Stone Barn

I am hating Thursdays lately.  Since Dave broke his ankle, I have to pick him up from his hockey coaching gig in the city.  I have been able to have a small crappy workout, shower at the gym, then head down into Philly to grab him at 7.  It’s a seriously unproductive day and I’m exhausted and all-drived-out once it’s all said and done.

I do get to see some pretty gorgeous sunsets from the view of the Ice Rink at Penn. 🙂

With all of this being said, one would guess I wasn’t the happiest camper when Dave wanted to take me out to a surprise dinner last Thursday night, an hour away.  My initial irritations were completely invalidated when we arrived at Foxfire at the Stone Barn.  The surprise restaurant is located, like I said, an hour away in Kennett Square PA (the mushroom capital!).  We were racing the clock to get there before 8 when they stop seating for dinner.  I had no idea what was in store for me- winding our way (with my gas on E… oye) through the last twenty minutes of farmland, we finally arrived at the Stone Barn.  Did Dave really discover this place?  In the middle of nowhere?

Immediately, I was soooo excited… Is the restaurant on this farm?  Is it like… farm to table!?  Dave laughed at me, but yes, the hidden gem on the farm indeed is a farm to table style restaurant.  Love.

Foxfire Restaurant at the Stone Barn is a BYO (yesssssssssssss) that is open for dinner Thursday-Sunday.  They typically do a 5-Course meal for $32– which is an AWESOME deal… but for their 2 year anniversary, the 5-Course meal is only $25/pp in Sept and Oct… INCLUDING a complimentary glass of wine 🙂 How did he find out about this place?!  This is normally my job… you know… doing some research online and on Yelp and finding the most perfect restaurant… not Dave’s!  Well the one good thing about Dave going out with the boys after breaking his leg playing hockey is this:  his teammate Chuck told him about the restaurant where he works: Foxfire.  Here we are.  Thank you Dave and thank you Chuck.

Our meal started off with an Amuse Bouche.  Am I judging an episode of Top Chef here?  What’s going on?  Thankfully, I do pay attention when I’m watching my shows, and know that an Amuse Bouche is a single bite-sized starter from the chef.  Ours was a flavorful explosion of Fig, Balsamic, and Blue Cheese.  MMMM!  It was presented to us in an eggshell.  How cute.

How cute is the little plate it came in?


For our starters, I ordered Chef Ray’s famous Kennett Square Exotic Mushroom Soup, topped with Jarlsberg.  It. Was. Heavenly.  OMG. He is famous for his soup and I totally get why.  You have to try it.  It’s super creamy and flavorful, full of mushrooms too.  Like, every bite had some in there.  Dave picked the Foxfire Salad of Romaine Heart which was drizzled with Black Pepper Parm Dressing, Roasted Tomatoes, and a Grilled Garlic Flat Bread.  Besides being beautifully presented, the salad was delicious and sooo fresh and crunchy.

A HUGE portion of Mushroom Soup

As if we weren’t excited enough about our entrees, Chuck brought over two just-made Popovers with Raspberry Butter.  Whaaaaaaaaaaaat?  Popovers?  We get to eat this… as apart of our meal!?  YUMMMMMM!  They were sooo amazing!  You can see how light and flaky they were, and the Raspberry Butter was different and it was perfect after our savory starters.  I loved this part!

Steamy hot! Almost couldn’t wait to tear open this thing and dip it in the Raspberry Butter.

MMM Popoverrrrrr

Next was a small scoopful of Berry Sorbet with Mint before our entrees arrived.  Now you get to drool over our entrees… and I know you will.  Let’s start off with Dave’s order:  the Jumbo Lump Crab Cake.  Sidebar:  Okay so I can’t tell you how many times I’ve asked a server about Crabcakes… they say that their Crabcake has “no filler”, and then it comes out and totally does.  I am so turned off of ordering Crabcakes for this very reason.  Well when Chuck told us this about Chef Ray’s Crabcakes, he was NOT lying.  Like, this dish is Gluten Free.  They get to that that, because it literally has NO filler.  None.  It was more like a humongous pile of seasoned crab meat.  Uhhhhh droooooollling!  The Crab Cake is actually put together with Scallop Mousse (is Chef Ray going to be on Top Chef?  Seriously.  Mousse.) and served with Roasted Potatoes, Haricot Verts (explained to Dahv that they are just green beans), and a Citrus Beurre Blanc Sauce.  I need to relax- I want to eat this again NOW!  What an amazing dish.

I want this now… hungryyyy!

Dave was saving his last bite! He didn’t want it to end…


Moving on.  My pick:  Maine Lobster (I should just stop there, right?) Risotto:  tossed with Lancaster County Sweet Corn and Saffron Risotto.  Ahhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhh.  Ah-May-Zing.  Everything. Is. Just. So. Creamy!!!!!  Delicious!  Oh, and how adorable is the presentation?  It looked like a Lobster 🙂 I’m pretty sure I smiled every single bite I took.  Whoa.

Lobster Risotto

Just take a look at that bite. OMGGG


We loved, loved, LOVED, it all.  I think we ate extra slow because we didn’t want it to end!  Dave was even saving his last bite until I was finished so he wouldn’t get jealous.  It was just an unbelievable meal.  But wait, there’s dessert.  We got the Creme Brulee and the Chocolate Lava Cake (which is made by their special pastry chef… to order.).  Do I mind waiting for the Lava Cake?  Nope!  Ahhhh drooooolinggggg againnnnnnnn!  This cake is a girl’s dream.

Creme Brulee


MMMMM Lavaaaaa


So, if you didn’t get it the first hundred times I’ve said it, let me just reinforce the fact that I LOVED THIS PLACE!!  I have already suggested we go back, and I would say we most likely will be before the $25 deal is over… and probably after that too.  If you’re in the area, you have to go check it out.  Go with your family, go with your friends, go on a date… whatever you do just go.  Foxfire has ridiculously fresh and delicious food, a warm, cozy, but adorable rustic atmosphere, and top-notch service.  Besides having Chuck as our server (who told us the entire history of the farm, the restaurant, and Chef Ray… the only thing we didn’t know is the name of the Lobster I ate!) the rest of the staff was polite and attentive- our water was full the entire meal.  SO- go here, ask for Chuck, and send your regards to Chef Ray because he’s THE MAN!  Oh, and take me with you.  I want to go back, like, now.

(we had just downloaded the upgrade for the Iphone which lets you take Panoramas… I tried it out!)

Portobello Burger w/ Balsamic Glaze

So, today I’ll finally give you the recipe for that Portobello “Burger” photo that’s been making you drool for the past week.

I feel like this could be called a sandwich, but doesn’t it just sound so much better when you put the word “Burger” on there?  MMM!

I made these juicy “burgers” while my mushroom-hating boyfriend was on vacation with his family.  My Mom and I always take the opportunity to make lots of mushrooms on nights he’s not around!

These were so easy to make, and I even was able to whip them up on a night after I worked out pretty late.  You can even buy pre-Roasted Red Peppers, pre-shaved/sliced Asiago Cheese, and make the balsamic glaze in advance to make this recipe even easier.

Portobello Burger w/ Balsamic Glaze

Recipe inspired by:  How Sweet It Is


4 large portobello mushrooms (rinsed and patted dry)

3 tablespoons olive oil (I used Sunflower Seed Oil, from Trader Joe’s)

1/4 teaspoon smoked paprika

1/4 teaspoon garlic powder

1/4 teaspoon salt

1/4 teaspoon black pepper

8 Strips Roasted Red Peppers (I used Trader Joe’s)

4 slices or 16 shavings of Asiago Cheese

4 multigrain English muffins (Trader Joe’s again… love it there)

1/2 cup balsamic vinegar


1.  Put the vinegar in a small saucepan and bring to a boil.  Reduce to low heat, simmering for 10-15 minutes.  You can stir occasionally.  The liquid should reduce to about half its’ size and be thicker.  Remove from heat and pour into a glass or bowl.  Set aside to cool. (Or you can pre-make this!)

2.  Mix 2 Tablespoons of oil, smoked paprika and garlic powder in a small bowl.  Heat a large skillet on medium high heat.  Add the remaining 1 Tablespoon of oil in the skillet.  Brush the mushroom tops with some of the oil/seasoning mixture.  Sprinkle with salt and pepper.  Put the mushrooms top-side-down onto the heated skillet.  Brush the bottoms of the mushrooms with the oil mixture and sprinkle w/ salt and pepper.

3.  Cook the mushrooms top-down for 5-6 minutes.  Flip them.  Add the cheese slices and cook for another 5-6 minutes.  They will be juicy and the cheese should be a little bit melty.

4.  Meanwhile, toast the English muffins.  Once the mushrooms are nice and juicy, place one in each muffin, cover with two roasted red pepper strips each, and drizzle the whole thing with the balsamic glaze.

The portobellos I got were from Wegmans and they were huge!

I sliced up my own Asiago- I didn’t want it to be too cheesy so I didn’t go with the slices. Trader Joe’s sells a. Hunk of Asiago b. Shaved Asiago c. Sliced Asiago. It’s a good stop to make!

I made a little side-salad to go with the burgers.

It was so juicy and delicious! The glaze was a great touch, I definitely recommend trying it out.

I loved these, and I was pretty surprised about it.  I am not your typical “meatless monday” kinda girl, and was worried I’d be hungry after eating a “burger” with no meat!  I’m happy to say I definitely wasn’t and I think this opened up a whole new window using Portobello Mushrooms!  YUMMY!

Portobello Omelette

Eggs are my FAVORITE.

In case you couldn’t tell… check out this amazing Hash Brown recipe, or this protein-packed Poached Egg with Quinoa recipe, or even this fun Breakfast Baked Potato I cooked up back in March!

Dave always makes fun of me because in an ideal world, I would eat eggs every breakfast and every dinner.

While Dave was away last week, my Mom and I got into a package of Portobello Mushrooms.  This has been our tradition; when Dave isn’t around… we eat mushrooms.  It’s one of the only foods he won’t touch, and we love ’em!  I had bought a family-pack of Port’s at Wegmans to make Mushroom Burgers and we had one leftover.  What to do with it?  Make it with eggs!

Portobello Mushroom Burger recipe coming soon!! Here’s a little preview for you 🙂

This turned out to be my absolute best Omelette I’ve ever made.  It was a great combination of flavors and textures, and I’ve finally learned to be patient and not burn the crap out of the bottom.  It’s sooo worth the wait.

Portobello Omelette (with Onion, Broccoli, and Avocado)

a Recipe by:  It’s Good to be the Cook


1 teaspoon Light Butter

1/2 Portobello Mushroom, washed, patted dry, and chopped

1/4 Onion, sliced thin

1 Egg

2 Egg Whites

1/2 cup Broccoli, chopped

1/2 Avocado, cubed

1/4 cup Shredded Reduced Fat Sharp Cheddar Cheese

Sea Salt, Black Pepper


1.  Heat light butter in a medium-sized pan.  Add mushrooms and onion.  Saute over medium heat until the onions are translucent (I did it for about 4-5 minutes or so).

2.  Scramble the egg and 2 egg whites in a bowl.  Add a Tablespoon of water.  Using water instead of milk will keep the eggs nice and fluffy.  Pour the scrambled eggs over the mushrooms and onions.  Add the broccoli.

3.  Keep on medium heat and let cook until the bottom has solidified.  Add a sprinkle of salt and pepper.  You can also swirl the pan around to re-arrange the uncooked egg more evenly.  Put a lid on the pan.  

4.  After about 3 or 4 minutes, lift up the lid.  If the top layer is solidified, flip the egg if you can.  If not, don’t worry about it.  Add the cheese evenly and avocado piece by piece to evenly distribute.  Fold the omelette with a large, flat spatula and cover again for 2-3 minutes.  

5.  Enjoy!!

Here’s what the egg looked like right before I flipped it. Keeping the head on medium will prevent the eggs from burning. It takes longer but it’s worth it.

Added some shredded cheddar and avocado

Finished product… OMG! Amazing. Avocado in eggs = heaven.