Winter Soup: Bean and Barley

January 30, 2010 at 3:25 pm | Posted in Family Meals | 7 Comments
Tags: ,

I stumbled upon this soup last year while searching for something for a ham bone to go into.  It was a happy little discovery, perfect to take the chill off of these cold winter nights.

Bean & Barley Soup (Recipe adapted from the 17 Bean & Barely Mix at Trader Joe’s)


  • 17 Bean & Barely Mix
  • 2 quarts vegetable broth
  • 1 cup onion, chopped
  • 1 cup celery, chopped
  • 1 cup carrot, chopped
  • 1 clove garlic, crushed
  • 2 Tbsp olive oil
  • 1/2 tsp Italian Seasonings
  • 1 can tomatoes with basil
  • ham, 1 cup cubed (if desired)
  • salt and pepper to taste


Soak beans overnight in a large pot of water*, then rinse and drain.  Pour 1 quart vegetable broth into a pot with the beans.  In a separate pan, cook onion, celery, carrot, and garlic in olive oil until soft.  Combine this mixture and remaining ingredients into the bean pot and cover with more broth.  Simmer covered for about 1 hour to desired tenderness.  Be sure to occasionally check liquid level and add more broth if necessary.  Salt and pepper to taste.

*To quick soak dried beans:  In a large stock pan, cover dried beans with triple their volume of cold water.  Bring water to a boil, then lower heat and cook uncovered beans over moderate heat for 2 minutes.  Remove pan from heat and soak beans for 1 hour.

Kid Friendly Shepherds Pie

January 10, 2010 at 3:01 pm | Posted in Family Meals | 7 Comments
Tags: ,

I knew my kids would turn their noses up and fold their arms in out-right defiance to eating this Shepherds Pie.

I also knew that if I remained calm, encouraged them to try, and threatened no dinner, they would eventually take a bite.

I also knew that the biscuit layer was irresistible, so I directed them to the top….and after one bite of that familiar layer they were sold!  My son actually asked for seconds.

Yes, it is true, my son (the reformed white eater) actually ate this and asked for more!

We’ll be having this Shepherds Pie again.  I kept the flavor profiles low so there was nothing unfamiliar here.  But that biscuit layer was the true secret to the success of this dish.  I’ll happily make it again, and I know my kids will happily eat it again.

Shepherds Pie (adapted from this recipe by Paula Deen)


  • 1 small onion
  • 1 1/2 pounds ground turkey
  • 1 15 oz can tomato sauce
  • 1 1/2 cups mixed vegetables
  • Salt and freshly ground black pepper
  • 8 to 10 medium red new potatoes
  • 1 cup milk, nonfat
  • 8 tablespoons butter, divided
  • 1/2 cup shredded cheddar cheese
  • 1/4 cup sour cream
  • 1 cups instant biscuit mix


Ground Turkey Layer: Saute onions in 2 tablespoons butter. Add ground turkey. After turkey is browned, add tomato sauce. Add salt and pepper, to taste.

Potato Layer: Peel and slice potatoes 1/4-inch thick. Cook in boiling water for approximately 15 minutes or until fork-tender. Mash with a potato masher. Add 1/4 cup heated milk, 1/4 cup butter, and sour cream. Salt and pepper, to taste.  Adjust thickness by adding more milk, if desired.

Biscuit Layer: Combine biscuit mix and 1/2 cup milk. The mix should be thinner than normal biscuit mix but not runny.

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.

Spray a 9 by 9 by 2-inch pan, or any similar casserole dish. Layer half way up with the mashed potatoes. Next, spread a layer of mixed vegetables. Then add a layer of the meat.  Sprinkle with 1/2 cup shredded cheddar cheese. Pour biscuit mix over meat. Melt 2 tablespoons of butter and drizzle over top. Bake for approximately 35 to 45 minutes until top is golden brown.  Allow to cool slightly, serve warm.

Blog at
Entries and comments feeds.