Slow Cooker Sunday!-Beef Barley Soup

Holiday season is over. Valentine’s is over. Football is over……Wake me up in April. Seriously, I’ve added enough insulation to get me through until then.  Wait!!!  Fat Tuesday is coming.  Let me add another layer of gumbo and hurricanes.  Then hibernation begins!!  If I could I totally would. I’m kidding of course. Sort of.

How was everyone’s Valentine’s day?  I spent the day with the kids. I made pink pancakes for breakfast.  The ol’ man went to a movie with a friend who lost his wife a few years ago. We’ll hit the movies next weekend, when they aren’t so crowded; and you know how I feel about restaurants on Valentine’s.  I made mini chicken and waffles for all of us.  Doesn’t that scream romance!  I made something without vegetables in it.  The kids think that’s love. Win for Mom!

Mini Chicken and waffles!  No real recipe here.  I mean, you totally could make homemade waffles, and bread the chicken yourself.  I make this when we are running from work to soccer to the grocery store, ‘Oh shit it’s 7:30pm already’ what am I going to make for dinner?  Eggo mini waffles, and chicken strips.  Bake the chicken strips according to the directions on the package, pop the mini waffles in the toaster. I cut the strips in half, make a little sandwich, spear with a tooth pick to hold them together, drizzle with maple syrup.

minichickwaf

 

So parenting challenge #14,864?  The 16yo wants to read 50 Shades of Grey. Some of you are thinking, where’s the parenting challenge? The answer is no. She’s 16, are you out of your mind? The ol’ man did say no.  But I’m not entirely against it.  I know I’m not going to make a lot of friends with my opinion of 50 Shades, so I’m going to just touch on it a little. She has friends who have read it.  She reads books from the “romance” section already. I mean she is 16,  I’ve played Cards Against Humanity with her, so I know not a whole lot in the series is going to be shocking to her. Ok, so there may be a little shock. I’m impressed that she even asked at all.  Easily, she could have purchased it to her tablet, and we would never know.  She didn’t ask permission to smoke her first cigarette, or do shots of cake batter vodka. Proof that she’s unsure why it’s wrong. I’m not entirely sure I disagree with her. I lived that lifestyle for a few years before I met the ol’ man, who is very vanilla. So I feel like if she reads it, we know she’s reading it, when she has questions she can ask, and we {I} can answer them. Real answers. If she reads it behind our back, she will ask her friends questions and goodness knows what the hell they will answer with. Part of me feels like 50 Shades is romanticizing S&M; just like Pretty Woman did for prostitution.  The reality of the lifestyles just isn’t as black and white has Hollywood and fiction makes it out to be. Probably one of the best things about fiction. Bottom line, I told her if I got written permission from her mom that it’s alright for her to read them, then she can borrow the books. She can duke it out with her father.

On to things that will get me in less trouble! Slow Cooker Sunday!  Today, in our -25°F, snowy weather, nothing sounds better than Beef and Barley Soup!  Straight from Betty Crocker 🙂 The kids liked it, although 2 of the 3 thought there was too many vegetables, and not enough beef.  Damn carnivores!

Slow Cooker Beef and Barley Soup

  • 2 Tbsp Olive oil
  • 1 Medium onion, chopped (about 1/2 C)
  • 2 tsp finely chopped garlic
  • 2 lbs Beef boneless chuck, cut into 1″ pieces
  • 1 tsp Salt
  • 1/8 tsp Pepper
  • 2 Medium carrots, cut lengthwise in half, then cut into 1/4″ slices
  • 1 C Pearl barley, uncooked
  • 8 C Beef broth
  • 1.5 C frozen sweet peas
  • 1 C frozen corn
  1. Heat oil in large skillet over medium heat. Cook onion, garlic, beef, salt and pepper in oil until beef is brown, about 10 minutes, stirring occasionally.
  2. Spoon beef mixture into 6-quart slow cooker.  Stir in carrots, barley and broth.
  3. Cover and cook on low heat for 8-9 hours.
  4. Increase heat to high. Stir in frozen peas and corn. Cover and cook 8-10 minutes or until peas and corn are hot.

beefbarleysoup

 

 

 

Valentine’s Day Treat for Kids!

Valentine’s is for kids too!!

As a kid, my parents never did anything for us for Valentine’s Day. Not a card or chocolate. My friends got little gifts or a card. It’s probably why I don’t get overly crazy about Valentine’s Day for my significant other. (Sorry ol’ man!) As a mother though, I have always given Ms. Autumn a small token. Nothing extravagant; but a little something as a reminder of how much I love her. A lot of times, we go on a date to the movies. Conveniently for her, SpongeBob is out.

Does anyone else go on a one-on-one date with their kids? Not just on Valentine’s Day, but throughout the year?  The ol’ man and I have a date jar that I made for him last year. All I did was paint craft sticks. After they dried, I wrote a date idea on each one stick. When we are stuck for a date idea, (not that we have a whole lot of time to date these days), we pull one from the jar. The jar? Just a Mason jar that I made pretty with ribbon.  If you want to differentiate a winter date, from a summer, you could paint the tip white.  So the whole point of telling you that I’m lame and can’t think of date ideas off the top of my head, is that you could do it for the kids too.  They don’t have to be expensive, it’s just so you can have alone time with your little one; just like your adult relationship.

  • Cook a meal together, have them help plan a healthy menu
  • Zoo, museum or aquarium
  • Go out to breakfast
  • Have movie night at home with popcorn. In the living room. ( in my house, that in itself is a treat)
  • Go sledding or build a snowman, and then treat yourselves to hot cocoa
  • Surprise them by taking the day off work, spend the day at the beach, or park with a picnic
  • Feed the ducks
  • Go to the local ice cream shoppe for frozen yogurt or milkshake
  • Mani/Pedi’s at home or out at the spa
  • Lunch at a restaurant of their choice
  • Take a class at the gym together
  • Go to a college sporting event or the high school play
  • Farmer’s Market!!
  • Try a new restaurant, pretend you guys are food critics
  • Game night, with actual board games. Yes, just like Santa and M&M’s, they do exist
  • Go to the local coffee shop or bakery, share a treat
  • Slumber party in the living room
  • Snuggle on the couch and watch a favorite TV show or a series on NetFlix

One of Autumn and my favorite things to do is to go to dinner at Wegmans (strange right?!) and get a small container of their soup from the soup bar and share a bagel. We sit in the Cafe and chat.  With three kids in the house, work, school, cooking, cleaning, homework, blogging..everything is always so hectic, sometimes is nice to reconnect with just her.

Enough of parenting 101.  Especially since I have no idea what I’m talking about.  Let’s get to the good stuff!  This recipe is from Ree Drummond. It looks daunting, but it really isn’t.  I think because it has a lot of ingredients, it seems more complicated than it is.  And the reason I’m putting this in the “Valentine’s” category? Chocolate.  The bottom of these granola bars are dipped in chocolate. Makes it a little bit naughty, it a good way, not like a 50 Shades sort of way. Depending on your 50 Shades opinion, of course. Either way, it’s a delicious, healthyish, treat for Valentine’s Day!!  A little side note, I omitted the pecans, and added extra almonds. I used generic rice crispies, a little extra vanilla and used the release foil so I didn’t have to do extra greasing 😉

Granola Bars

  • 6 C Rolled oats (not Quick oats)
  • 4 Tbsp Butter, melted, plus some for greasing
  • 1/4 C Vegetable or canola oil
  • 1 tsp Salt
  • 1 C Brown sugar
  • 1/2 C Honey
  • 1/4 C Apple juice
  • 1/4 C Molasses
  • 3 tsp Vanilla extract
  • 1.5 C Rice Krispies
  • 1 C Wheat Germ
  • 1/2 C Finely chopped pecans
  • 1/4 C Roughly chopped Almonds
  • 8 oz. Milk Chocolate  or chocolate almond bark, melted (I used semi-sweet chocolate chips)
  1. Preheat oven to 350°F
  2. In a large bowl, toss the oats with the canola oil, melted butter and salt.  Spread the mixture out on 2 baking sheets and toast in the oven for 15-20 minutes, shaking the pan twice and making sure they don’t burn. (Mental note, they will burn, and it stinks, so keep close eye on them).  Remove from oven and set aside.
  3. Reduce heat to 325°F
  4. In a medium saucepan, combine the brown sugar, honey, apple juice, and molasses.  Heat the mixture slowly, stirring until combined. Stir in the vanilla.
  5. Toss together the toasted oats, rice cereal, wheat germ, pecans and almonds in a large bowl. Pour in the sugar mixture, stirring as you pour. Toss to combine; it’s sticky.
  6. Press into 1 baking sheet, thoroughly greased with butter, or line pan with foil and grease foil) and bake until golden, about 20-25 minutes. Remove from oven and let cool completely.  Cut pieces with a sharp knife and remove from pan.
  7. Dip the cooled granola bars straight in the melted chocolate so the top is plain and the bottom is chocolate-covered. Set on parchment until set or sticking in the fridge to hurry the process.
  8. Perfect for date night 😉  Kids or adults!

granolabars