Baked mushroom barley

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I have always enjoyed side dishes that are low maintenance so I can put my time into other things. This dish is filling enough to also be a vegetarian main dish.

3 tablespoons butter

1 onion, diced

2 cloves garlic, minced

1 pound sliced mushrooms

1 cup pearled barley

2 3/4 cups chicken broth

1/2 teaspoon dried thyme

salt and pepper to taste

 

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.

In a dutch oven, over medium heat, melt the butter. Sauté the onion, garlic, and mushrooms for 5 minutes. Add the barley and cook 2 minutes. Add the chicken broth and thyme. Bring to a boil. Cover and place the dutch oven into the preheated oven. Cook 60-70 minutes without peeking or stirring.


When you first open the dutch oven all of the mushrooms will be on top. Stir and top with parsley.

 

Cranberry sauce

Cranberries fresh

I grew up eating canned cranberries. Nothing compares to the fresh sauce. It really is easy to make. I use the recipe on the bag of the Ocean Spray cranberries. The only difference is that I add the juice of one lemon at the end after straining the berries. You do not have to strain. This recipe works perfectly either way. I personally prefer a smooth sauce to a lumpy sauce.

 

1 cup water

1 cup granulated sugar

3 cups fresh cranberries

1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice

 

Place the sugar and water in a large pot on the stove. Cook until boiling.

 

Now add the cranberries. Here is the fun part for kiddos. They will pop just like popcorn. I recommend a fry screen over the pot to keep the hot sugar from splashing little faces. Here is a photo after one popped.

 

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Boil this on low, stirring often. Add lemon juice at the end.

Here is the labor intensive part (if you do not want skins). Strain the mixture though a mesh collander or food mill. Here is a photo of my setup. Super fancy, right?

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I gently mash the craberries through the strainer with a spoon and collect the at the bottom. The sauce keeps in the refrigerator for 14 days and also freezes well.

cranberry sauce

Light and spicy broccoli cheese casserole

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OMG! Tis the season for comfort food. I made this up last night. It might be the best broccoli cheese casserole I have ever made. Again…. there is no cream sauce in a can or milk. Just a little butter and cheese.

1.5 cups cooked white rice

1 pound fresh broccoli – steam and chop

4 tablespoons butter

1/2 of a roasted poblano

2 cloves of garlic

5 tablespoons of flour

1/2 teaspoon onion powder

2 cups chicken broth

1 teaspoon white pepper

2 cups shredded sharp cheddar cheese

1 cup grated parmesan… not powdered

1 cup of French’s new jalapeno crisps

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After I steamed the broccoli and made the rice, I let them cool and worked on the sauce. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Melt the butter in a saucepan over medium heat. Add the garlic and chopped roasted poblano pepper. Cook about 3-5 minutes. Add in the flour. Slowly…. very slowly…. add the chicken broth stirring constantly so it does not clump. It needs to be added a few tablespoons at a time. Continue stirring constantly until thickened. Add in the onion powder and cheddar cheese. Stir until melted and thickened. Remove from heat. Salt to taste. I added 1 teaspoon. Add in the rice and chopped broccoli. Pour into prepared 8×12 casserole pan. Top with parmesan and then crispy jalapeños. Bake uncovered for 30 minutes.

This was so yummy. I enjoy casserole type foods but I really do not like feeling like I ate a stick of butter or drank a cup of heavy cream. This really satisfied my every need. We served it with simple grilled chicken.

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