's what's for dinner

I have been uninspired by most of my recipes lately as  my son who has a  scary food allergy (nuts), was diagnosed with some super annoying new ones. We're trying some experimental diets (that include things that he has (justifiably) said taste like air. My plan is to add things back one by one to find his major triggers. Among the many things he "shouldn't" have are wheat. (any good gluten, flour, sugar, milk, cheese, sugar, grapes, banana, soy, garlic, chocolate free recipes are welcome--by the way)

Barley, like what contains gluten so this would be a no-no..we're trying it anyway though. Barley is a cereal grain with a pasta like consistency. It's a good source of fiber and it's good in soups and stews. This recipe looks delicious.
Basil Beef and Barley Soup


  • 1  lb.  boneless sirloin steak
  • 1/4  cup  all-purpose flour
  • 1  Tbsp.  dried basil, crushed
  • 1  Tbsp.  vegetable oil
  • 1  cup  quick-cooking barley
  • 1  14.5-oz. can  diced tomatoes with basil, garlic, and oregano
  • 1  cup  packaged peeled fresh baby carrots, bias sliced
  • 1  cup  lower-sodium beef broth
  •     Small fresh basil leaves (optional)


1. Cut steak into 1/2-inch pieces. In shallow dish combine flour, basil, 1/2 tsp. salt and 1 tsp. black pepper; add meat and toss to coat.
2. In 4-to 5-quart Dutch oven, heat oil over medium-high heat. Add meat; cook until browned on all sides. Stir in any remaining flour mixture. Stir in barley, tomatoes (do not drain), carrots, beef broth and 3 cups water. Bring to a boiling; reduce heat. Cover and simmer 10 minutes.
3. Ladle into bowls and top with fresh basil. Makes 4 servings.

Storing Barley:

Hulled Barley- should be kept away from light, heat, and moisture, it will stay fresh for several months. It should be stored, refrigerated, in an airtight container. 

Pearled barley- can be kept at room temperature for a longer time since most of the oils which could go rancid have already been removed. 

Barley should be tightly sealed, either in a tightly covered jar or in a sealable plastic bag. If you purchase in bulk, transfer the barley to a tightly sealed storage container when you get home. If you purchased pre-packaged barley, transfer after you first open the package. 

In warm weather, store barley in the refrigerator; freeze for longer storage. 

Storing info found here.

Yummy Pasta Carbonara

This is easy and delicious. My kids LOVE this dish.

Pasta Carbonara (adapted from Nordstrom Cookbook)

1 T. Kosher salt, plus salt to taste
1 pound of Pasta ( I use farfalle)
1/2 pound high-quality, thick-cut bacon, coarsely chopped
1 yellow onion chopped
1/2 pound button mushrooms, stems trimmed and sliced 1/4 inch thick (I have ommitted these no big deal)
2 cups heavy (whipping) cream
1/4 cup (1 ounce) crumbled blue cheese
3/4 cup (3 ounces) freshly grated Parmesan cheese, preferably parmigiano-reggiano
1 cup frozen peas, thawed
2 large egg yolks
Freshly ground black pepper

Cook your pasta (al dente)and while it's cooking
Sautee bacon, until most of the fat has been rendered and the bacon is crisp (6-8 minutes)
Drain all but 3 tablespoons of the bacon fat
Add the onion and mushrooms and cook stirring constantly until the onion is soft (about 4 minutes)
Add the cream, bring to a simmer, and cook until the sauce begins to thicken (about 4 minutes)
Add the blue cheese and half of the parmesan cheese and stir to combine
Add the peas, stir, and then remove from the heat.
Place egg yolks in the center of the sauce and stir in rapidly, not allowing the egg yolk to cook before combining with the sauce

Toss sauce with pasta and season with salt and pepper to taste...add remaining cheese to individual plates as garnish. 

This is seriously delicious. Enjoy!

Valentine's Day Ideas

There are some great Valentines ideas out in blogland..allow me to round some up for you.

Kids Classroom Valentines Ideas (Last year we (copied of course) bought big bright bouncy balls and put them in clear cellophane.. i printed cards that said have a Ball this Valentine's day. I cut them the same width as the bag and stapled them on (as in the idea below) They were a hit!)

This idea and more found here

Valentines Craft Ideas

The two above are my favorites..Courtesy of this lovely blog.
Valentine's Recipes
What a sweet idea for Valentine's breakfast. Go here for details.

Maybe the prettiest Valentine's Cookies I've ever seen. Check them out here.

Stay tuned for a fabulous Valentine's dinner recipe. And while you're at it---write little love notes each day to the ones you love starting today.