Wednesday, March 28, 2012

Apricot Barley Casserole

I love mushroom barley from a local chicken establishment near us called Zorns. I really do. It's my favorite side.

And I also love mushroom barley soup! it's one of my favorites that I oddly picked up in sleepaway camp of all places, while growing up.

But, I had never made barley myself. So when my husband and I were in the grocery store picking out rice that was on sale, I happened to see the barley was 99 cents and we decided to buy it and give it a whirl.

I found this recipe on my favorite recipe website, It seemed easy to make. I didn't change much except leaving out the nuts (only out of sheer laziness) and I halved the recipe. Half of this recipe still made PLENTY for my husband and I.

Oh, and the other change was using regular white onions instead of green onions (scallions) because our scallions had wilted and I didn't feel like going to buy more. (What? I am 9 months pregnant with a baby who doesn't want to come out, sue me!) The regular onions worked just fine with the dried fruit.

It took about 15 minutes to dice the apricots and onion, and then just about 10-15 minutes to do the stove top work. Letting it bake in the oven was obviously the longest part, but at least I was able to go do other things. This is definitely a delicious and easy dish to prepare on a weekend and eat during the week.

My husband and I both ended up loving the taste of this side dish and I will definitely make it again!

Ingredients: (this is the full recipe)

2/3 cup pine nuts or slivered almonds (I omitted)
1/4 cup butter, divided
2 cups pearl barley
1 cup sliced green onions (I used white onions)
7 cups chicken broth
2/3 cup diced dried apricots
1/2 cup golden raisins (I actually used regular raisins)


In a large skillet, saute nuts in 2 tablespoons butter until lightly browned; remove and set aside. (Since I omitted the nuts, I immediately started with the butter, onions and barley).

In the same skillet, saute the barley and onions in remaining butter until onions are tender.

Add broth; bring to a boil. Stir in the apricots, raisins and reserved nuts.

Pour into a greased 13-in. x 9-in. x 2-in. baking dish.

Bake, uncovered, at 325 degrees F for 1-1/4 hours or until barley is tender.

Serve hot and enjoy!

Tuesday, March 27, 2012

Eggplant, Tomato & Parmesan Slices!

The other week I was at a farmer's market type grocery store and they had some great looking eggplants on sale for 99 cents a pound. I decided spur of the moment to pick a small one up for my husband and I to have for dinner that night.

I had no idea what I wanted to do with it and then I remembered I still had half a can of diced tomatoes left from another recipe I made a few days prior. An idea started to form.

I sliced up the eggplant into rounds and lightly salted it. Then I put the diced tomatoes in a bowl and mixed in some garlic, crushed red pepper and Italian seasoning.

Then I lightly grilled the eggplant to soften the slices and began to construct my slices with cheese and tomato.

The result was delicious! It was very eggplant Parmesan-like but not quite. My husband and I really enjoyed this quick and easy dinner. My only regret was that I didn't make enough to freeze for after the baby comes.

Oh well, it was easy enough to make that I think we can get by!

This was my own "recipe" so I don't have exact measurements for the recipe below. Use ingredients to taste.


Diced tomatoes
garlic powder
crushed red pepper
Italian seasoning
Parmesan cheese
Mozzarella cheese


Slice eggplant into round circles and lightly salt each slice. Let sit for about 5-10 minutes.

Meanwhile, mixed diced tomatoes in a bowl with the garlic, crushed red pepper and Italian seasoning. Set aside.

Fire up a grill pan on the stovetop and pour a tablespoon of olive oil on it. Lightly grill the eggplant slices until slightly tender.

Top each eggplant slice with shaved Parmesan cheese, tomato mixture and a few strands of mozzarella cheese.

Bake for about 10-15 minutes (or until cheese is melted and slightly golden) at 350 degrees F.

Serve hot and enjoy!!

Monday, March 26, 2012

Turkey Pasta Casserole!

I am really behind on recipes. Well, not really. I have 3 I haven't posted, but otherwise I haven't been cooking much. I've been getting ready for this baby, who, is due today but is deciding to just not show up. So I figured I would post some recipes finally.

A few weeks ago I made a turkey pasta casserole. This is actually one of the dishes I made for my husband and I to eat after the baby shows up - we currently have a large batch of it in the freezer. It was a brand new recipe, so risky to make a large batch before tasting, but I made a small batch along with it that we ate that week and luckily, we really enjoyed it.

It's pretty simple to make! I made it one night after work. 9I also forgot to take a picture of the finished product, so the picture is the little bit of leftover we had that I brought for lunch one day! ha!)

I actually don't think I made any changes to the recipe. If I did, it was using a mix of tomato sauce and ketchup instead of just straight ketchup. I can also see making this dish with using tomato sauce and mozzarella to make it more Italian.

It came out well. The recipe is below. Enjoy!


1 pound spaghetti
1 pound ground turkey
1 large onion, chopped
1 large green bell pepper, chopped
2 cloves garlic, minced
2 tomatoes, chopped
2 cups ketchup
1 cup shredded reduced-fat Cheddar cheese


Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.

Bring a large pot of lightly salted water to a boil. Add pasta and cook for 8 to 10 minutes or until al dente; drain and set aside.

In a large skillet, brown turkey over medium heat. Remove turkey from skillet to a large bowl; do not drain any grease left in skillet.

Add onion and bell pepper to skillet; saute until softened.

Add garlic to saute for 2 minutes and add tomatoes; mix well and remove from heat.

Add vegetable mixture to turkey and stir in ketchup to coat; mix well.

In a 9x13 inch baking dish, spread mixture and top with spaghetti and cheese.

Bake in preheated oven for about 30 minutes or until heated through and cheese is melted; serve warm.

Monday, March 12, 2012

Baked Potato Puree - an Original recipe!

So, tonight I was finally creative with cooking again. I've been cooking a lot, just nothing "new" because I have been busy cooking and freezing old favorites to pull out and eat once the Lil Man decides to grace us with his presence.

But today, I did something new, and it was my own original recipe.

See, we had a jicama in the house that I was planning on making a puree with. But I pulled it out of the fridge today and there was mold on it! Darn! I also learned after googling that jicama's are good for 3 weeks, but have to be kept in a cool, DRY place. Oops. Lesson learned.

So, we had one potato left from the same shopping trip and I didn't want THAT to go bad too so I decided to make a puree with that. First I started to try and find recipes but realized I could probably pull something off by myself. And I did. I made a baked potato puree.

It turned out great! My husband loved it, and it is something different to do with potatoes. The whole process took me about 30-40 minutes with peeling the potato, boiling it, and then pureeing it with some other ingredients in the blender. But I was very proud of it!

So here is the recipe!

Ingredients: (sorry, no exact measures, I was playing around)

1 potato, peeled and boiled
sour cream - about 1.5 TBSP
shredded cheddar - about 2 TBSP worth, maybe a dash more
scallions - chopped (to taste)
margarine or butter (melted about 2 TBSP)
bacon bits (i used imitation, to taste)


First, peel and boil your potato. Put some salt in the water as it boils to give the potato some taste.

After 20 minutes, take the potato out of the water and carefully cut it into smaller chunks. Place that in the blender along with the rest of the ingredients.

Puree until smooth.

Enjoy hot!

Simple and easy... and delicious!