Bean & Barley Soup

One of the meals I made during week one was a Bean and Barley Soup recipe I found in my Eating Well magazine. The picture in the magazine looked amazing and the title was healthy in a hurry. Instantly drew me in!


Bean & Barley Soup (originally from Eating Well – slightly adapted)

4 teaspoons extra-virgin olive oil
1 yellow onion
5 cloves garlic, minced
1 teaspoon dried basil
1 teaspoon fennel seed
2 15 oz cans white beans
2 14 oz can diced tomatoes
6 cups low-sodium chicken broth
3/4 cups barley
3-4 big handfuls baby spinach
1/4 cup Parmesan cheese (grated or shredded)
Salt and Pepper to taste

Directions: Heat oil in a Dutch oven over medium-high heat. Add onion, garlic, fennel seed and basil. Cook, stirring frequently, until onions are just beginning to brown. About 8 minutes. Mash half of the beans in a bowl. Stir the mashed and whole beans, tomatoes, broth and barley into the pot. Bring to a boil. Reduce heat to medium, cover and simmer, stirring occasionally, until the barley is tender. About 40-45 minutes. Stir in cheese and spinach and cook until spinach is wilted, approximately 2 minutes. Add salt and pepper to taste.

Changes: I added an extra can of beans and tomatoes, used regular diced tomatoes instead of fire-roasted, left out the fennel as I didn’t have any and forgot to buy it, added fennel seed, used regular barley instead of quick-cook as I couldn’t find it, used chicken broth instead of vegetable as that is what I had on hand 🙂

Despite changing the recipe, I think it was a total success. We had tons of leftovers which was great for lunch. I even froze some to save for later as there was so much!


Meal Planning: January 27th – February 2nd

Back with another list of meals I plan to make this week. Overall, I did pretty well last week. On Thursday I started not feeling well and both of us worked late so we decided to go out instead of cook something at home (will have to make the Tortellini Sausage Soup another time). We went to our favorite local pizza place called Queen Margarita. Highly recommend it to anyone wanting a spot in the Magnolia Village area. We split a pizza and a salad. Was perfect for the two of us!

First, the weekend. This past weekend was a crazy one. Friday evening we rushed to Costco after work to pick up food for the appetizer spread I was putting together for a surprise birthday party we were helping host on Saturday (in Vancouver, WA) for my mother-in-law. Friday night, a few friends came over for pizza (yes, twice in a week we had pizza) and games. Sadly I was feeling horrible so after dinner I had to excuse myself and go to bed. Couldn’t make it past 8:30 😦 Saturday, while the Mr. was at an alumni breakfast, I loaded the car and prepped the appetizers. At 11am we hit the road for a 26 hour trip to Vancouver. Saturday afternoon was full of prepping for the surprise birthday party. After the party with the extended family, a smaller group (in-laws, hubby and sister-in-law) headed to dinner at a restaurant in Vancouver called Lapellah. Sunday morning I felt horrible so I hung out at the in-laws house while the Mr. and his parents went to church. Then the minute they got back we loaded the car and headed back to Seattle. Was a short trip but was a very nice one! We had to rush back on Sunday as we had a 4pm appointment to buy our new car!!! We got a black 2013 Honda Pilot. LOVE 🙂 After that we crashed!

Still not feeling well. This cold is a killer! On day 4 and I am struggling! Here is this weeks meal plan:

Sunday: Cheese & Meat Plate (use up some of the leftover stuff from the appetizers I put together for my mother-in-laws surprise 60th birthday)

Monday: Chicken Cashew Stir-Fry with quinoa or quinoa/rice mixture

Tuesday: Smoked Salmon Quinoa Cakes w/ Poached Eggs

Wednesday: Out / Leftovers (I am on my own as the hubby has his Wednesday night out with the guys)

Thursday: Smoked Salmon Quesadillas

Friday & Saturday: Out

From my weekly meals can you tell I have some smoked salmon in the house? 🙂 Hope you are all doing well! I know I owe some actual food posts. Soon I promise. Plenty backed up…just need to make the time to load the pictures for the posts!!!

Week 3 “On Fire”

Man, how come weekends come and go so quickly? Sad to see another one fly by! Here is a quick recap of what the Mr. and I did this weekend:

Friday – the Mr. picked me up from work, we made a quick stop at Costco to pick up a few items (Friday evenings are our favorite…very few people there!) and then went to the country club for dinner (I had crab cakes and the hubby had the prime rib – yum).

Saturday – I had the annual HOA meeting at the condo which I had to lead. Saturday afternoon we celebrated a friends son’s 2nd birthday at Gymboree. Then a few of us went to dinner at the Mountlake Ale House. After, the hubby and I went to the UW Men’s basketball game (sadly they lost). We finished the night off by stopping by a few friends joint birthday party in lower Queen Anne at Solo Bar.

Sunday: We met Chris and Morgan for brunch at Franks Oyster House and Champagne Bar. Then we decided to spend the afternoon car shopping. No purchase yet, but we narrowed down what type of car we are looking for. Hopefully soon we will have a new car 🙂 After car shopping, we went to church then I made a delicious/easy soup (mentioned below). Took a little time but man it was good. Finished the night off by watching two episodes of Parenthood!

Now to weekly meal planning. I have to say I am “on fire” 🙂 I can’t believe I am starting my third week of meal planning! So far, I love it. It makes grocery shopping quick and easy. Love that I don’t even have to think about what I am going to make when I get home from a long day at work. And, I really like that I am using up a ton of stuff we already have on hand! And overall, I have to say I have been successful at finding at least one or two recipes each week from cookbooks!

The goal for meals this week are QUICK and EASY! Work is likely to be very busy so the last thing I am going to want to do is spend a ton of time making dinner when I am likely to not get home until 7pm or so.

Week 3: January 20th – January 26th

Sunday: Chicken, Quinoa and Green-Olive Stew

Monday: Whole-Wheat Spaghetti with Spinach & Caramelized Onions and Roasted Brussels Sprouts

Tuesday: Turkey Lettuce Cups

Wednesday: Taco Salad

Thursday: Tortellini Sausage Soup

Friday: Eat Out / Leftovers

Saturday: Eat Out / Leftovers

Hope you are all having a great Monday! Can’t believe it is already 5pm!!!

Week 2 Meal Planning

So sad the weekend is over! Always tough starting off a new week. The Mr. and I had a great weekend. Friday I followed through and made the Shrimp Fried Rice I planned on. It was awesome. Can’t wait to share the recipe with you. Soon I promise…you will want to try it. Then we watched a movie. The Mr. was so nice to me and we watched Pitch Perfect…loved! So cheesy but so good!


Saturday we had a lazy morning…yes, lazy coffee and the hubby made us green shakes. Followed this with taking Leo to the dog park. We recently discovered the Magnolia dog park and Leo loves it! After we threw on some snow gear and went snowshoeing. It was such a fun time! We both got to test out our new snowshoes and it really felt like winter! Once we got back from the mountains we quickly changed and went to a friend’s house for football, chilli and corn bread.

Sunday we had a few people over for breakfast and the Seahawks game, then we worked in the garage. Slowly but surely we are making progress on cleaning it out. Sunday evening we went to church, I made us Orecchiette with Sausage & Crispy Broccoli (as planned in week 2 below) and we watched the Bourne Legacy.

Sad it’s Monday!

Anyhow, as my previous post mentioned, week 1 of meal planning was a big success. I can see why people do it. 🙂 So here we go again….here is what I have planned for week 2.

Week 2 – January 13th – January 19th:

Sunday: Orecchiette with Sausage & Crispy Broccoli

Monday: Salmon Salad

Tuesday: Thai Chicken Noodle Soup

Wednesday: Leftovers / Whatever I come up with as I am on my own and am getting a massage 🙂

Thursday: Soy-Maple Salmon

Friday: Eat Out / Leftovers

Saturday: Eat Out / Leftovers

Hope you all have a good Monday!

2013 Goal: Learn to Grocery Shop Better And Smarter

One thing I have to say I am really, really, really bad at (yes it deserves 3) is grocery shopping. I am not afraid to admit it, but I do have to say that it does always surprise me. For someone who loves to cook and enjoys grocery shopping I am horribleSorry mom, but I think I got my badness from you 🙂 I can manage to go to the store, buy plenty, but then have nothing to make…or I have the same staples every time so I am only able able to make the same things over and over which absolutely bores me!

In order to train myself, I have set a goal for 2013. My goal is to LEARN TO GROCERY SHOP BETTER & SMARTER. In order to meet this goal, I have decided that I need to meal plan. This is something I have never done. Not only will this help me shop better, but this will also help me hopefully spend less (not buy things we don’t need) and eat healthier as I will think out our meals ahead of time. A good friend of mine (yes you Jessica) has been doing it for a while now and based on her blogging, it really seems to be working for her and what she is trying to achieve, so I am totally encouraged now to try it!

I do worry about my ability to succeed at this goal as we have a very busy schedule. However, as we are really good at keeping our calendars up to date, I think it will be OK as this will allow me to properly plan. Also, I know unexpected things will come up (like Tuesday night I ended up being at work until 7:30pm so my plan for that night got postponed and the hubby made chicken tacos for us) but overall I really think it will be good and will work!

Additionally, the Mr. has challenged me to actually use my cookbooks 🙂 Yes, this is something else I am bad at. I LOVE cookbooks. Like I am obsessed with them. I love to look at them, and mark recipes I want to try, however, when it comes time to needing a recipe, I rarely look to them as it is so much easier to search online or look on Pinterest! So, in 2013, I have been challenged to make a meal from a recipe in one of my cookbook or magazines (yes I get a lot of those too) each week.

So for this week (1/6 – 1/12), here is what the plan is/has been:

Sunday: Veggie and Tofu Stir-Fry (from Cooking Light)

Monday: Salmon Florentine with Quinoa Pilaf (from Self Magazine)

Tuesday: Chicken Tacos (made by the hubby)

Wednesday: Bean & Barley Soup (from Eating Well Magazine)

Thursday: I had book club so the hubby was on his own…I am guessing he had PB&J?

Friday: Shrimp Fried Rice (from Eating Well Magazine)

Saturday: Leftovers or eat out

As we go, I will definitely plan to share recipes with you all! I probably won’t provide links until I actually write about them that way they are easier to reference.

I was a little behind getting this post done but for week 1 as it is now Friday, I think it worked really well. It was really nice to go home and know what my plan was for the evening instead of getting home and blankly staring at the fridge to figure something out! Week 1 done (assuming I follow through and cook tonight), now to come up with Week 2’s menu 🙂

Hope you are all having a great day! Although it is freezing out it is absolutely gorgeous out! My view is AMAZING today. Clear view of the Olympics. Have a great weekend! Will be back with at least one of the recipes I made this week hopefully soon.

Starting 2013 Off Right: Black-Eyed Peas Benedict

Happy New Year! Hard to believe 2012 has come to an end. But man was it a good year! Of course the biggest thing was that the Mr. and I tied the knot. What a great day that was! 🙂 Can’t believe it has already been 7 months! Lets see, what else – we went to Greece for two weeks for our honeymoon, celebrated a couple of family weddings, met lots of friends new babies, went to New York and San Fran to see friends, saw Neil Diamond in concert (funny I know, but man, I love me some Neil :-)), took a glass blowing class, started this blog (after years of saying I would), golfed (the hubby did way more than me), tried lots of new restaurants, rented out my condo, celebrated the hubby’s 30th birthday, lots of dinners/events with friends, bought a new car…wait…I just keep dreaming we will do that (hahaha), got blinds on a few windows in the townhouse which was HUGE in my mind (we will finish in 2013)…and the list goes on 🙂

I am SO excited to see what 2013 has in store for us. I know we already have several trips to look forward to (Whistler at the end of January, Vegas in March, Hawaii in May, and possibly Chicago or Europe in September) but I can’t wait to see what else will happen!

For as long as I can remember, on New Year’s Day, my family always eats black-eyed  peas. My grandpa started this for the family and we have carried the tradition on! Apparently, in the Southern United States, eating black-eyed peas on New Year’s Day is thought to bring prosperity in the new year. As a kid I remember HATING them. In order to get them down, my sister and I used to drench them in ketchup 🙂 Now I don’t mind it. In fact, I actually like black-eyed peas! In the past I have either just heated them up or made Cowboy Caviar (a salsa like dish) but this year I wanted to come up with something new. After searching on Pinterest (my go to recipe site) I came across a very interesting looking recipe. It was Black-Eyed Peas “Benedict”. After looking at the ingredients I knew I had to make it as I already had everything in the fridge and I sure do love a good Benedict dish!


Black-Eyed Peas Benedict (slightly altered, originally from Paula Dean)

1 can (~15 oz.) black-eyed peas, rinsed and drained
1 1/2 cups ham, cooked and diced
1/3 cup green onion, chopped
1 tablespoon stone ground mustard
2 tablespoons flour
1 tablespoon butter
1 tablespoon vegetable oil
1 14 oz jar roasted red peppers
4 eggs, poached or fried
4+ cups spinach

Directions: In a medium bowl, mash beans with a fork (or potato masher), adding ham, green onion and mustard. Add just enough flour to mixture to help bind it. Add salt and pepper to taste. Shape mixture into 4-5 cakes approximately 4 inches or so in diameter. Melt butter and oil together in a large skillet over medium heat. Add cakes and brown on both sides until crispy (6-8 minutes). Keep warm while poaching the eggs. For Roasted Red Pepper Sauce, drain peppers (I got mine from Trader Joes) and place in food processor or blender. Mix until peppers are a saucy consistency (should be slightly lumpy). Set aside.

For the eggs, I used a poaching pan: fill the pan with enough water to just touch the removable tray. Coat each egg cup with cooking spray. Crack an egg in each egg cup. Plan lid on pan and bring water to a boil. The steam and heat from the water will cook the eggs (takes approximately 3 minutes). While eggs are poaching, wilt spinach in a fry pan. I typically just throw it all in the pan and cover with a lid. Will probably cook down in 2 minutes or so.

To Assemble:  Place cooked spinach in the middle of a plate and spread out to a circle just larger than the black-eyed pea cake. Top with a few spoonful’s of the roasted red pepper sauce. Place warm black-eyed pea cake on top of the sauce circle and top with a hot poached egg.

(Per original instructions, here is the recommended directions if you don’t have a poaching pan: fill a 10” skillet with 3 inches of water. Add vinegar and bring to a low boil. Break eggs into the water (note: you can break the eggs into a cup first and slide into the water). Remove with a slotted spoon just when the whites are cooked through and yolks are still loose. Approximately 2-3 min.)

This recipe turned out amazing! At one point the hubby commented that my breakfast would sell for probably $15 in a restaurant 🙂 Isn’t he sweet?