Barley and Feta Salad…..

My latest food obsession these days is barley.    I love t0 taste many different layers of flavors especially in salads.  The barley in this salad offers  a lovely chewy texture.  The feta and tomato give it a nice tang, and the basil, parsley, and cucumber balance out the acidic components of the salad.    It can be made ahead and served cold or at room temperature.  For a light supper, enjoy with a nice piece of grilled salmon or chicken breast.  It keeps very well in the refrigerator.  Enjoy for quick and healthy lunches throughout the week.   Top with a little canned tuna or leftover chicken breast, yummy!

Greek Barley Salad

 For the salad:

 2-3 cups cooked barley (about 1 ¼ cup dry pearled)
1 cup chopped green pepper
1 cup seeded and chopped cucumber, include skin
1 cup chopped parsley
½ cup finely chopped red onion
3 plum tomatoes, seeded and diced
½ cup chopped fresh basil
½ cup crumbled feta cheese

 For the dressing:

¼ cup olive oil
2 tablespoons red wine vinegar
2 tablespoons water
2 teaspoons dried oregano
1 teaspoon granulated garlic powder
½ teaspoon kosher salt or 1/4 teaspoon table salt
¼ teaspoon pepper

1)  If you’re using pearled barley (not the quick cooking kind) place in a colander and rinse well under running water in the sink.  This will prevent the barley from becoming too gummy.  Cook with salt according to package directions, cool completely. 

2)  Whisk the dressing ingredients together in a small bowl.

3)  Prepare all of the salad ingredients and place in a large mixing bowl.  Pour dressing over and toss well to coat.  Season to taste.  Refrigerate unused salad.  Makes about eight one cup servings.

Happy eating!


Beet, Barley, and Toasted Walnut Salad with Honey Balsamic Dressing…

Calling all overworked, exhausted, over scheduled, and busy Moms and Dads.  Do you ever make something special for your lunch???  I’ll bet not!  I make many, many salads that would be absolutely perfect to make for yourself to enjoy for lunch throughout the week.  Loaded with fiber, protein, and most of all, flavor, this salad fits the bill.  You get the chewy texture of the barley, crunchy walnuts, sweetness from the beets, a tang from the feta, and to pull all of the flavors together, a honey balsamic dressing….YUMMERS!  I do not use the quick cooking barley, feel free to do so if you like.  There is quite a difference in cooking time.
Here we go….

First ingredient, the star of the show…pearled barley…

Regular barley is quite starchy so it’ll need a good rinse…

Rinse the barley for several minutes under running water.  This will remove the excess starch and prevent the cooked barley from becoming gummy.
Add the water and salt to the pan.  Bring to a bubble over medium-high heat, then lower heat to medium-low.  Simmer uncovered for 45 minutes.  While the barley is cooking prep the rest of the salad ingredients.

You will need chopped onions, chopped parsley, crumbled feta cheese and toasted walnuts.

To toast the walnuts, spread onto a cookie sheet and bake in a 300′ oven for 12 minutes. 
Finely chop the walnuts, set aside.
For the dressing, whisk the olive oil, balsamic vinegar, honey, salt, pepper, and granulated garlic powder.
Add the seasonings to the liquid ingredients….

Whisk until well blended.

Into a large mixing bowl, add cooled barley, parsley, feta, chopped walnuts, chopped onions, and rinsed and drained beets.  Pour the dressing over the salad and gently mix until well blended.  Refrigerate unused salad. 

Beet and Barley Salad with Balsamic Dressing and Toasted Walnuts

For the barley:
1 cup barley, rinsed and drained
2 ½ cups water
¼ teaspoon salt

For the salad:
½ cup parsley
½ cup toasted walnuts (300’ for 10 minutes, then finely chop)
½ cup crumbled feta cheese
½ cup onion, finely chopped
1 can sliced beets, drained and rinsed

For the dressing:
2 tablespoons each balsamic vinegar, honey, and olive oil
¼ teaspoon salt
¼ teaspoon granulated garlic powder
1/8 teaspoon pepper

1) Rinse barley under running water for a few minutes. Place in medium pot and add water and salt. Bring to a simmer over medium-high heat. Lower heat to medium-low and cook uncovered for 45 minutes. Barley should be chewy. Cool in a large mixing bowl.
2) While the barley is cooking, toast and chop the walnuts, chop the onion and parsley, and crumble the feta.  Whisk the dressing ingredients together in a small bowl, set aside.  Drain and rinse the beets in a strainer.
3) Once the barley is cool, add parsley, walnuts, feta, onion, and beets to the barley bowl. Add dressing to the bowl and gently mix until well blended. Makes about six half cup servings.


Have a healthy weekend!

Oatmeal Raisin Cookies….

I  love a good, old fashioned, chewy oatmeal raisin cookie.  It took my a very long time to perfect this recipe.  The measurements may be a little unusual, but believe me, they’re right on.  The key is to carefully measure the dry ingredients.  For the flour, gently spoon into the measuring cup and level off with a knife.  Most recipes call for large eggs, be sure to use them here.  Make this cookie dough a good base for most any kind of cookie you like.  Add chocolate chips, craisins, dried cherries, or any kind of chopped nuts.  For a really different twist, add chocolate covered raisins, now there’s an idea!
Oatmeal Raisin Cookies

1 ½ sticks softened butter
¾ cup firmly packed light brown sugar
½ cup + 1 tablespoon sugar
½ cup finely chopped walnuts, optional
2 large eggs
1 teaspoon vanilla
2 ¼ cups +2 tablespoons all purpose flour
1 ½ cups + 2 tablespoons old fashioned oatmeal, uncooked
1 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon cinnamon
½ cup raisins, soaked in warm water for 30 minutes, drain well

1) Preheat oven to 375’. Parchment line a cookie sheet, set aside.
2) In a large mixing bowl, beat butter. Add brown sugar and white sugar, beat until fluffy. Add eggs and vanilla, beat well. Add walnuts and give a quick mix.
3) In a medium mixing bowl, combine flour, oats, cinnamon, salt, and baking soda.
4) Add half of the flour mixture to the butter mixture, beat until incorporated. Add remaining flour and beat
until well blended. Add drained raisins and mix by hand with a large heavy spoon.

5) Drop by tablespoons onto prepared cookie sheet. I find a medium size cookie scoop the easiest for evenly shaped professional looking cookies. Space 2” apart. Bake for 11-12 minutes. Makes about 3 dozen. For smaller cookies, reduce baking time.

Quick Spanish Brown Rice….

This is an excellent side dish for just about any meat dish or can be used to stuff inside a burrito.  Healthy brown rice in a snap!

Quick Spanish Brown Rice

2 cups cooked brown rice, thawed
2 tablespoons ketchup (Hunts sells a corn syrup free ketchup)
1 teaspoon chili powder
½ teaspoon onion powder
½ teaspoon garlic powder
½ teaspoon salt
¼ teaspoon pepper

Mix all ingredients together and mix well.   Microwave in one minute increments and stir between until piping hot.

Red Quinoa Salad….

Have you ever tried quinoa?  It is pronounced (keen-wah).  It is a delicous highly nutritious grain, high in protein, iron, and magnesium and is gluten free.  This ancient grain cooks in only 15 minutes, much quicker than brown rice and is packed with fiber.  You can find Organic Red Quinoa at Trader Joe’s for $3.99. 

This is the perfect salad for busy moms!  Make ahead and enjoy at lunch time for a nutritious and well deserved healthy lunch!  Enjoy sitting down, I don’t know about you,  but I’m getting in the bad habbit of eating at the kitchen counter!  Let’s care for ourselves as we do our families.  Sit down.  Relax, and enjoy your food.

Red Quinoa Salad with Lemon Vinaigrette

2 cups uncooked quinoa, cook according to package instructions-2/1 water ratio
2 cups petite frozen peas, thawed
1 cup fresh flat parsley, chopped
1 medium green pepper, seeded and diced
½ red onion, diced
3 green onions, thinly sliced
2 plum tomatoes, seeded and diced
3 tablespoons fresh or bottled lemon juice
3 tablespoons olive oil
2 teaspoons honey
½ teaspoon granulated garlic powder
½ teaspoons salt
½ teaspoon pepper

1) Cook quinoa according to package instructions and cool in a large bowl.
2) Add peas through tomatoes. Whisk remaining ingredients in a small bowl. Pour over salad, mix well. Refrigerate. 


Vegetable Fried Brown Rice….

Fried Vegetable Brown Rice

1 tablespoon canola oil
2 eggs, beaten
2 cups cold cooked brown rice
2 green onions, thinly sliced
2-3 tablespoons low sodium soy sauce
2 teaspoons toasted sesame oil
1 cup frozen mixed vegetables or petite peas, thawed
½ cup bean sprouts, rinsed and drained
1 teaspoon toasted sesame seeds (optional)

1) Heat a large non stick skillet over high heat. Add oil. Add eggs, all at once, stir constantly and break into small pieces. Add rice and green onions. Drizzle soy sauce and sesame oil over rice. Heat through, stirring often to prevent scorching. Add mixed vegetables and bean sprouts. Taste. Season with more soy sauce if necessary. Top with sesame seeds.

Remember, be creative, add whatever vegetables you like!

To make this a quick dinner entree, add some leftover pieces of rotisserie chicken or thinly sliced leftover grilled steak or pork!  Simply stir fry in the pan at the very beginning, remove from pan before adding eggs, then add back to pan after adding the rice.



Lemon Whole Wheat Couscous, Greek Salad…..

This simple side pairs well with fish or chicken.  It is versitile and extremely quick.

1 small onion, finely chopped
1 tablespoon olive oil
1 cup water
Lemon juice and zest from one lemon
1 cup whole wheat couscous
Zest of one lemon
2 tablespoons fresh parsley, chopped

1) Using a micro-plane, zest entire lemon, removing all bright yellow rind. Set aside. Juice the lemon and add to 2 cup liquid measure. Add water to measure 1 ¼ cup. Set aside.
2) In medium sized sauce pan over medium heat, add olive oil and onion, cook about 5 minutes. Add water and juice mixture. Bring to a boil. Add couscous, remove from heat, and cover. Let stand for 5 minutes. Fluff with fork. Add parsley. Serve.

Greek Salad

Red onion
Kalamata olives, pitted
Feta cheese, crumbled


1/4 cup red wine vinegar
2 tablespoons water
1 teaspoon granulated garlic
1 teaspoon dried oregano
1 teaspoon sugar
1 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon pepper
1/2 cup olive oil

Put all dressing ingredients together in an air tight plastic container and shake well.  Pour sparingly over salad to lightly coat.  Taste.  You may have to season with additional salt and pepper.

Vanilla Yogurt Whole Grain Pancakes

Don’t you just LOVE breakfast?   This is very, very simple and has a wholesome ingredient list.  You could mix all dry ingredients the night before and simply add the wet in the morning if that’s easier for you.  For leftover batter, refrigerate and use within a few days, or,  make the rest of the pancakes and freeze for another morning.  I would freeze them in single serving portions for easy microwave heating, defrost for 3 minutes then on high for a minute or two.  The yogurt in this recipe gives it a very light & fluffy texture.  I use a cast iron griddle but you could use any non stick pan, just be sure it’s heated and oiled before you start.  Enjoy with fresh berries or bananas and real maple syrup…..need I say more?

2 ½ cups all purpose flour
1 ½ cups whole wheat flour
¼ cup sugar
3 tablespoons wheat germ
2 teaspoons baking powder
1 teaspoon baking soda
½ teaspoon salt

Wet ingredients:

3 cups milk
1 6 oz. container Dannon all natural vanilla yogurt
¼ cup canola oil
2 beaten eggs
1 teaspoon vanilla

1) In large mixing bowl, blend all dry ingredients.
2) In medium mixing bowl, whisk all wet ingredients together.
3) Make a well in dry ingredients and add all wet ingredients at once. Mix just until dry ingredients are incorporated. Over mixing will give you a tough result.
4) Pour about 1/3 cup batter onto hot, lightly oiled griddle. Carefully flip when you start to see bubbles. You can check to see if pancake has browned with a spatula before flipping.

Makes about 15 six inch pancakes

Simplest Tomato Garlic Spaghetti

This is a wonderful side dish to serve with parmesan encrusted chicken, oven fried chicken, or oven roasted whole chicken.  This versitle pasta dish can be served on its own, as a meatless entree.  Serve with a delicious salad and you’re set.   You can also add just about any other ingredients you like, spincah, arugula, shredded roasted chicken, the possiblites are endless!   It is super simple,  as easy as any processed pasta or rice dish.  This recipe goes together in 10-15 minutes.   If you use the Barilla whole grain spaghetti you get 6 ounces of fiber per serving, it’s a very easy way to sneak fiber into the pickiest eater’s diet!

1 pound whole wheat spaghetti (I like barilla whole grain)
3 tablespoons olive oil
4 large cloves garlic, finely chopped
1 teaspoon dried oregano
¼ cup tomato paste
2 cups pasta water
½ teaspoon salt
¼ cup Parmesan cheese
1) Undercook pasta by 2 minutes according to package instructions. (if cook time is 6 minutes cook for 4) Reserve 2 cups of cooking liquid before draining.
2) While pasta is in colander draining, put pasta pot back on the stove over medium heat and add olive oil, garlic, and oregano. Cook 1 minute and add tomato paste, stir well to incorporate paste into oil and garlic mixture. Add water and salt, simmer for 3 minutes.
3) Add undercooked pasta to tomato/garlic mixture over medium heat, cook for about 2 minutes. Add parmesan cheese. Serve with additional cheese if desired. Makes about 8 one cup servings.