I’m have been in a bit of a cooking rut. I went a week without cooking anything interesting. Nathan is juice fasting again so I am cooking for just Little and me. We are eating a lot of sweet potatoes, zucchini and sausage. Well, I should say I am. Little will eat the sausage and zucchini.
There are two main reasons I have been stuck in this rut. First I have gone to all cash spending for our everyday expenses, including groceries. I am trying to cut my day to day spending and man has it worked. It was incredible how much money I was spending on food. I’m buying much more simply these days and cooking from my pantry and freezer as much as possible. I have not been reading as many recipes because I don’t want to be tempted to blow my budget. I’m starting to get the hang of minimal spending so have no fear, I am finding more and more room in my budget these days. Exciting cooking will continue I promise.
Secondly, Little is getting picky. I try my hardest to get fruits and veggies in him everyday but I hate spending an hour making dinner for us only to have him throw it on the floor. He is quite happy to just eat zucchini or avocado or pear or anything equally simple. I eat a lot of leftovers.
One way the monotony around here gets broken is when I have company over for dinner. Sunday, Monday and Tuesday we always have people over. Sundays my brother in law and sister are over. Monday it is just my sister and Tuesdays it a “y’all come” for pizza. I was so sick of eating the same thing over and over again so I promised my sister, Tiffany, that I would make something interesting AND healthy this past Monday. Mercifully my Rachael Ray magazine had just arrived. It took me all of 30 seconds to spot this recipe. The best part? I had all the ingredients except for the beef stock and pearl barley on hand. Something interesting, healthy, and doesn’t ruin my budget?!? Win!
As if all that weren’t enough to make this recipe perfect it comes together in a flash. It is kind of a throw things in a pot sort of situation then wait an hour and then chow down. Oh, and it is even better the next day. I bet it would freeze beautifully.
Beef Barley Stew (makes 6+ servings)
adapted from Everyday with Rachael Ray
1 pound lean ground beef
1 onion, finely chopped
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 14 1/2 ounce can diced tomatoes
1 teaspoon oregano
4 cups beef broth
2-4 cups of water
3 carrots, peeled and cut into 1/2-inch rounds
3 ribs celery, sliced
1/2 cup pearl barley
1 can green beans drained
1/2 cup chopped flat-leaf parsley
Salt and pepper
In a large saucepan, cook the ground beef over medium-high heat, breaking it up with a wooden spoon as it starts to brown. Stir in the onion and garlic, lower the heat to medium and cook, stirring occasionally, until the beef is well browned, 12 to 15 minutes. Stir in the tomatoes and oregano and bring to a simmer over high heat. Stir in the broth, water, carrots, celery and barley and return to a simmer. Lower the heat and cook until the barley is very tender, about 1 hour. About 15 minutes before the soup is finished add the green beans. Stir in the parsley; season with salt and pepper.