Saturday, September 1, 2012

Italian Bean and Barley Soup

Italian Bean and Barley Soup

3 Tbsp. extra virgin olive oil
1 large onion, diced
3 garlic cloves, minced
2 celery ribs, chopped
2 carrots, sliced
1 green pepper, diced
3/4 cup pearl barley, rinsed
5 cups vegetable stock
1 (14.5 oz.) can diced tomatoes, undrained (I use tomatoes from the garden)
1 (8-ounce) can tomateo sauce
2 Tbsp. chopped fresh parsley
1 Tbsp. Italian seasoning
1 Bay leaf
1 (10-ounce) package frozen spinach, thawed and drained
2/3 c. Parmesan cheese, grated
salt and pepper

Heat the oil in a large skillet over medium-high heat.  Add onion, garlic, celery, carrots and green pepper and cook, stirring frequently until onion is translucent, about 3 minutes.  Scrape the mixture into the slow cooker.

Add barley, stock, beans, tomatoes, tomato sauce, parsley, Italian seasoning, and bay leaf into the slow cooker, stir well.

Cook soup on low for 6-8 hours or on high for 3-4 hours, until vegetables are tender.  Turn cooker to high, stir in spinach and parmesan cheese, cook for another 30 minutes or so.  Season with salt and pepper, and discard bay leaf.

Serves 6.

Menu Planning - The Rough Draft Edition

I usually menu plan - loosely - but I think I may need to start being a little bit more rigid about it.  We've had too many "staring at the fridge at 5:00 with no idea what to make for dinner" nights, and it is causing me to stress out.  The days I have it all worked out, I feel really competent, like I am on top of things, and it actually gives me MORE time to do other things, because I don't have to spend that half and hour or so frantically searching for something to feed my family.  Menu planning will also ensure that I don't have odd stuff in the cupboard that I bought on sale, with no idea what I am actually going to do with it.

So, here is my plan -

Breakfast - cereal and milk (kids are out with Grandma this morning, so it is just the baby and me)
Lunch - Leftovers for kids, Spinach salad (with chicken) for me.
Dinner - Italian Bean and Barley soup, homemade French bread

Breakfast - Eggs, bacon, & toast with fruit of some sort (we eat this every Sunday.)
Lunch - Leftovers and sandwiches for the kids who don't want what is offered.
Dinner - Potato Pizza Pie, Carrots and peas, tomato salad (for me)

Monday: Labor Day
Breakfast - Oatmeal with fruit & yogurt mixed in
Lunch - Curried Cauliflower soup with pita bread & hummus
Dinner - At my sister-in-law's house, I'll bring Cottage Cheese and Vegetable salad.

Breakfast - Pancakes with syrup and fruit
Lunch - Pita Bread sandwiches, veggies and yogurt
Dinner - Red Beans and Rice, Fruit

Breakfast - Breakfast Sandwiches
Lunch - Cheese Quesadillas, veggies, Black Bean soup
Dinner - Greek Pasta salad, Honey Wheat rolls

Breakfast - Blueberry Applesauce muffins with yogurt and fruit
Lunch - Leftovers and sandwiches, fruit & veggies
Dinner - Salmon, Dill Rice, Carrots and green beans

Breakfast - Scrambled eggs and toast
Lunch - Grilled Cheese sandwiches and Tomato soup
Dinner - My book club night.  I'll make sure that there are pizzas in the freezer for the hubby and the kids.  They'll appreciate it!

Aaaaand back to
Breakfast: Waffles with syrup and toast
Lunch: Leftovers, salad and sandwiches
Dinner: Split Pea Soup with Ham, homemade French bread

Curried Cauliflower Soup

Curried Cauliflower Soup
From the Volumetrics cookbook.

Makes 4 (1 1/2 cup servings)

1 T. Extra-virgin oil
1 1/2 c. halved and sliced onions
1 tsp. curry powder
2 c. vegetable broth
4 c. chopped cauliflowerettes
1/2 tsp. salt
2 c. shredded zucchini, (about 2 small)

Heat the oil in a 4- to 5-quart saucepan over medium heat.  Add the onions and curry powder; cover and cook 4 minutes, stirring occasionally.  Add the broth, cauliflower, salt and 2 cups water to the pot.  Simmer 15 minutes, stirring occasionally. 

Puree the soup in a blender (or use a wand blender), return to pot.  Reserve 2 Tbsp. of the zucchini.  Add the rest of the zucchini to the pot.  Heat the soup.  Ladle the soup into bowls, and garnish with reserved zucchini.