Friday, January 20, 2012

Mmm. That Sounds Good. I'll Have That.

I was recently invited to participate in a recipe swapping club by Tara over at An Unconventional June. Basically, a bunch of people (I think there's five of us right now) all contribute five recipes, and then Tara maps out the whole month with grocery lists and calendars and directions for everything. I sometimes get stuck in such a rut when it comes to menu planning - I have days when I feel totally inspired to try to new things, and others where I'm basically scrounging my cupboards and serving my family random leftovers and cans of things I want to use up before they go bad. This way, I have it all right there in front of me and it is so, so easy.

This month has been a little crazy, though. I went to Virginia to visit my friend Amy (more on that in a later post) so I was out of the dinner-making game for almost a week. And with the loss of our dog, everyone in the Arends house has been a little down in the dumps. (Side note here: our other dog, Jasper, has probably been taking it the hardest. Not really eating, not wanting to go outside, sleeping a lot. Lola was basically the doggy equivalent to his wife, so we're spoiling him with extra walks and dinner scraps. Poor guy.)

Anyways, to combat the colder temperatures we're having and our grumpy moods, I thought I'd deviate from the menu planning tonight and cook a big pot of one of our favorite soups. It's a little more time consuming than something I'd usually make during the week, but the results are warm and comforting - just what we need.

(Also, I wanted an excuse to use this video from "Dumb and Dumber" in my post. Delicious soup and Jim Carrey in one day? Sounds good to me.)

Beef and Barley Soup

What you need:
2 tbsp. EVOO
1 lb. London broil, cut into 3/4-inch cubes
salt & pepper
1 large onion, chopped
1 medium carrot, chopped (I sometimes throw in a little extra - I love carrots!)
8 oz. cremini mushrooms, thinly sliced (I use white mushrooms if I can't find creminis)
2 tbsp. minced garlic (from 4 cloves)
2 tbsp. tomato paste
3/4 cup dry red wine
4 cups chicken stock
2 cups water
3/4 cup pearl barley

What you do:
1. Heat 1 tbsp. plus 1 tsp. oil in a Dutch oven over medium-high heat. Season beef with 1 tsp. salt and 1/4 tsp. pepper, and brown on all sides, 5 to 7 minutes. Transfer to a plate using a slotted spoon.

I just noticed that renegade piece of meat that was trying to make a break for it. Not so fast, buddy.

2. Reduce heat to medium. Add remaining 2 tsp. oil, and cook onion, carrot, and mushrooms until golden, stirring occasionally, 12 to 15 minutes. Season with 1/2 tsp. salt.

3. Add garlic and tomato paste, and cook, stirring until caramelized, about 2 minutes. Remove from heat, add wine. Return to heat, bring to a boil, scraping up brown bits using a wooden spoon. Cook until reduced by half (5 minutes or so).

4. Return beef to pot, and add stock and water. Bring to a boil. Reduce heat to low, and simmer, covered, stirring occasionally for 1 hour.

5. Add barley, and cook, covered, for 10 minutes. Uncover and cook until beef and barley are tender, 20 to 25 minutes more. Stir in parsley and garnish with horseradish and serve with crusty bread for dipping!


I might be making this for dessert, because, really, how could I not?

The original soup recipe is from Martha Stewart Living - you can find it here.

Happy Friday!

Do you have any menu planning tips or tricks? How do you keep motivated to cook?


  1. Yum yum yummy!! I want some!

    And I would kill or die for some of that popcorn...and a movie. A grown-up movie that doesn't involve cartoon pigs, birds or fairies.

    1. I think maybe we need to plan a Mom's Movie Night Out in the near future. And I'll bring the popcorn!

      P.S. I can reply to comments! Woo hoo!!

  2. Oh my! That looks lovely! I think I will buy some barley when I go to the store today. I think I have everything else for it. By the way, loved the little kitchen you made too. She will cherish it always.

    1. Thank you - and thanks for stopping by! The kitchen was so fun to make. I hope she does cherish it least I will! ; )