Barley Chicken & Mushroom Casserole

A glass of beer, a loaf of bread, a bowl of cereal, a standard of measurement, a form of currency, a medication – they all began with barley – an ancient grain, possibly even older than rice. Barley’s once exalted status has been redefined. No longer does it serve as a unit of monetary exchange or a unit of measurement. No physician thinks of prescribing it for an ailing patient. Now, barley is largely relegated to being a food or a key ingredient in the making of beer.

We owe much to the desert nomads and the camel caravans who endured sandstorms and unrelenting heat to trade their sacks of barley with distant neighbors, who then traded with other distant neighbors. Our steaming bowl of mushroom barley soup is a hand-me-down recipe with roots that take us back to prehistoric man. In 2005 barley ranked fourth for cereal production. There are many types of barley, many different uses for it and a long history of its importance to mankind.

Barley has a unique family-friendly quality. You can make a batch ahead on a Sunday, and it keeps well for at least three days in the fridge, and up to three months in the freezer. Monday, you can use it as breakfast and Tuesday, put a cup or two in your salad, and on Wednesday, you can add a barley casserole to your meal.

Four ways to cook barley. For each cup of barley, add 2 1/4 cups of water.

-Stove top: bring barley to a boil, reduce heat and simmer for 30 to 50 minutes.

-Rice cooker: barley will cook in the same amount of time as brown rice — approximately one cycle in a rice cooker.

-Oven: place barley and liquid in a covered casserole dish and cook it in the oven.

-Slow cooker: cook barley in a slow cooker for 3 to 4 hours on low heat.

Barley Chicken & Mushroom Casserole is such a wholesome and comforting meal.

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Barley Chicken & Mushroom Casserole
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Instructions
Chicken Thighs
  1. Preheat oven to 400° F. Line a rimmed baking sheet with foil or parchment paper. Set aside.
  2. In a small bowl, whisk together the seasonings until well combined. Pat the chicken thighs dry with paper towels and place them in the baking dish.
  3. Rub both sides of the chicken with olive oil. Sprinkle the seasoning mixture over the chicken, rubbing it on both sides of the chicken thighs.
  4. Bake in the preheated oven, without moving or turning, until the internal temperature of the thickest part of the chicken reaches at least 165° F. This will take about 30-40 minutes, depending on the size of your chicken thighs. During the last 15 minutes, place the cherry tomatoes on baking tray & roast. Remove chicken thighs & tomatoes from oven. Slice thighs in 1/4-inch thick slices. Keep chicken & roasted tomatoes warm.
Barley
  1. In a saucepan, place the water & vegetable broth powder, stir to dissolve. Add barley & bring to a boil. Reduce heat to a simmer & cook barley until tender. Cooking time for pearl barley is around 35 minutes. Turn off the heat, stir the barley, cover the saucepan and let it stand for another 5 to 10 minutes.
Vegetables
  1. In a saucepan, sauté vegetables in 1 Tbsp oil until tender then season to taste. Combine with cooked barley.
Serving
  1. In a casserole serving dish, place the veg/barley mixture. Top with sliced chicken thighs & roasted tomatoes. Garnish with sliced green onion & serve.
Recipe Notes
  • If you find the barley & vegetables seem a bit dry add a bit more vegetable broth.

Pulled Pork w/ Roasted Rhubarb Sauce

Slow cooked meat is definitely not a new thing. Truly authentic pulled pork is actually a barbecue dish, cooked for hours over a charcoal pit until it falls apart, ready to be easily shredded or ‘pulled’ apart to serve.

I’m sure most of us have attended a classic Hawaiian Luau at one time or another in our lives. The main course of this Hawaiian feast is always the ‘kalua’ roast pork. Kalua is a traditional Hawaiian cooking method that utilizes an ‘Imu’, a type of underground steam oven.

My experience, was that it was definitely pull-apart tender but far too greasy for my liking. It has taken a lot of years for me to want to make even a North American version of this pulled pork idea. To my surprise, it didn’t turn out greasy and was pretty tasty.

The idea that it has to be roasted in an outdoor pit is really not true. It can be made easily in a standard domestic oven. Of course the seasonings, temperatures and serving methods are all open to debate.

Pork shoulder is ideal for pulling purposes, either bone-in or boneless. It has an optimum fat content that yields to create tender, ‘melty‘ meat, but its essential to cook it slowly to allow the protein to break down properly. Using a dry rub will also help create tenderness and flavor.

There are numerous ways you can serve pulled pork such as on some fresh brioche buns, with cornbread or in tacos. We are going to have ours in corn tortillas with some kohlrabi coleslaw and roasted rhubarb sauce.

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Pulled Pork w/ Roasted Rhubarb Sauce
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Instructions
Pork Shoulder
  1. Drizzle pork with 2 Tbsp of oil; sprinkle with spices & orange zest & rub into meat. Place in a plastic zip-lock bag & refrigerate overnight (about 24 hours).
  2. Bring meat to room temperature. Preheat oven to 275 F. Place meat in a roasting pan & bake until thickest part registers 170 F. on a meat thermometer. Basically, roast until it's falling apart. Remove roast from oven & transfer to a large platter. Allow the meat to rest for about 10 minutes. While still warm, take 2 forks & 'pull' the meat to form shreds. Keep warm until ready to assemble tortillas.
Roasted Rhubarb Sauce
  1. Prepare sauce on the day you START to marinate meat.
  2. Preheat oven to 425 F. Line a baking sheet with foil & spray generously with non-stick cooking spray.
  3. Place chopped rhubarb & garlic cloves on the prepared baking sheet. Roast for 15-20 minutes, or until rhubarb is soft.
  4. Transfer the rhubarb & garlic to a food processor or blender. Puree with one cup of water until smooth.
  5. Pour the puree into a medium saucepan. Add remaining ingredients & mix well. Add additional water, as needed, until sauce is desired consistency.
  6. Bring to a simmer over medium-low heat. Simmer for 10-15 minutes. Cool before pouring into a small glass pitcher. Refrigerate any leftovers when meal is finished.
Kohlrabi Coleslaw
  1. Prepare dressing in a screw-top jar; combine vinegar, oil, sugar, salt & pepper. Cover & shake well. In a bowl, combine kohlrabi & carrots; drizzle with dressing.
Assembly
  1. During the roasting time of the meat, prepare kohlrabi coleslaw. When everything is ready, lay out warm tortillas, top with coleslaw & pulled pork shreds. Drizzle with prepared rhubarb sauce. Fold or roll tortilla & enjoy!
Recipe Notes
  • Instead of drizzling the rhubarb sauce, you can put your shredded pork in a bowl with some rhubarb sauce & combine. I find that distributes the sauce more evenly ... just a personal preference.

Shrimp Quiche Casserole

Quiche has always been an incomparable, one dish meal in my opinion. It’s kind of a whole food with protein, vegetables, dairy and carbohydrates. Quiche’s convenience wins hands down. After mixing the basics … eggs, milk or cream … any ingredients will work from leftovers to freshly cooked. You can use just about anything that you have in the refrigerator.

While some recipes are crust-free, most quiches have some kind of foundation. Potatoes, rice, cauliflower all make nice ‘crust’ options. Quiche makes a great choice for breakfast, lunch or dinner. To keep it interesting, I’m always trying to find ways to tweak the ingredients to make it taste just a bit different each time.

Two of Brion’s favorite foods are broccoli and rice. I decided to make a rice/cheese crust, which I pre-baked so it would get a little crispy. Then, when it bakes with the filling, it holds together quite nicely. The seasoning plays a crucial part in the quiche.

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Shrimp Quiche Casserole
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Course Lunch, Main Dish
Cuisine American, French
Servings
Votes: 1
Rating: 5
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Instructions
Rice Crust
  1. Preheat oven to 350 F. Blend crust ingredients. Using the back of a large spoon, press into a greased 8-inch round baking dish & bake for 15-20 minutes.
Filling
  1. In a skillet, melt 1 Tbsp butter; saute garlic & mushrooms, stirring for about 5 minutes. Stir in onions, cook for another 2 minutes. Transfer to a large bowl.
  2. Pour 2 cups water into skillet & bring to a simmer. Cook shrimp for about 1 minute or JUST until pink. Reserving 1 cup of the liquid, rinse shrimp under cold running water. Shell & devein shrimp; arrange over rice in baking dish.
  3. Preheat oven to 325 F. (If you have turned it off after pre-baking crust). In a heavy saucepan, melt remaining butter & stir in flour. Cook, stirring, for about 2 minutes, without browning; gradually whisk in reserved liquid & milk. Cook, stirring, for about 20 minutes or until thickened.
  4. Remove from heat; stir in 1/2 cup of the cheese, lemon zest & spices until cheese is melted. Stir into vegetable mixture & pour over shrimp in rice crust.
  5. In a small bowl, stir together remaining 1/4 cup cheese & bread crumbs. Sprinkle evenly over 'quiche'. Bake for about 40 minutes or until quiche is 'set'. Cut into wedges & serve.

Roasted Parmesan Shrimp with Jicama Fries

Years ago, shrimp was low on my personal priority list among seafood. Breaded oysters would never fail to get my attention but somehow tastes change. Brion, on the other hand, loves shrimp and it seems to have rubbed off on me. Strangely enough, deep fried food doesn’t appeal to me and never has. I put it down to the fact that I spent many years in the commercial food atmosphere so that deep frying smell just doesn’t work for me. Now when it comes to oven baked ‘frying’ that’s another story.

Cooking shrimp in the oven preserves the natural flavors. Frying and grilling will cause flavor and moisture loss, which can make the shrimp turn out rubbery after it cooks. In this recipe the shrimp is prepared with a parmesan/garlic coating which bakes up nice and crispy. As a side, I’m making some  jicama fries. If you have never tasted this vegetable, it is very unique. A perfect description would be like a ‘savory apple’. A root vegetable, native to Mexico, sometimes referred to as a Mexican turnip or potato. Then to add a little pizzaz to the meal, I’ve made a garlic avocado ranch dip for both the shrimp and fries.

The classic Ranch dressing has been around since the 1950’s. While very popular in Canada and the United States, it is virtually unknown in other parts of the world. Typically made with buttermilk, onion, garlic, herbs and spices all combined into a mayo based sauce. This low-fat version of  garlic avocado ranch is perfect for this oven fried meal.


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Roasted Parmesan Shrimp with Jicama Fries

Votes: 1
Rating: 5
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Course Lunch, Main Dish
Cuisine American, Mexican

Servings

Course Lunch, Main Dish
Cuisine American, Mexican

Servings

Votes: 1
Rating: 5
You:
Rate this recipe!


Instructions
Garlic Avocado Ranch Dip
  1. Peel, core & mash avocado. In a food processor, add avocado, yogurt, garlic, herbs, onion powder & lime juice. Pulse a few seconds until well blended. Refrigerate in an airtight container until ready to serve.

Jicama Fries
  1. Peel jicama & cut into french fry pieces. In a saucepot of boiling water, sprinkle 1/2 tsp salt; add jicama fries & boil for 10 minutes. Drain well. In a large bowl, combine fries with oil, 1/4 tsp salt, garlic powder, cumin & smoked paprika. Coat well, blending spices. Preheat oven to 400 F. Spread fries onto a lightly oiled baking pan & bake for about 30 minutes, turning halfway through baking time, until fries are crisp.

Parmesan Shrimp
  1. Preheat oven to 400 F. In a bowl, combine oil, garlic, oregano, basil, parmesan, salt & pepper. Add shrimp & toss gently & thread on wooden skewers. Line a baking pan with foil & lightly oil. Place shrimp in oven & roast JUST until pink, firm & cooked through, about 6-8 minutes. Serve immediately with lemon wedges. jicama fries & dip.

Boston Clam Chowder

There is something very special about having an older sibling. For me, I just wanted to be with her and do everything and anything she could think of. For her, it was probably not quite as much fun having this ‘brat’ tagging along all the time asking questions. As Loretta and I look back over those times now, the memories are precious and endless.One such memory was that of the ‘clam race’ we invented.

About 6 kilometers or so from our farm, the Willow Creek ran through the farmlands. Starting up at the Chain Lakes in the foothills of the Rocky Mountains, it snaked it’s way through southern Alberta eventually emptying into the Old Man river. On occasion, during summer vacation, Loretta and I would either walk or ride our bike down to the creek. This was fun because we could roll up our pant legs and walk in the water when it was so hot. We come to realize that there were some ‘clam beds’ as we explored different areas of the creek. Just for fun one day we decided to line up some of the clams across the width of the creek. On our next trip we would check to see how far they had gone.

Life in the fifties had a such a gentle rhythm to it …. what a pleasure it was to be a part of it all.

Although fresh water clams are not good for eating it seemed like a good day to post this recipe (being kind of cool and rainy). Over the years that I spent working in the commercial food industry, Boston Clam Chowder was always a favorite with customers. I would like to share with you a quick, easy version using canned whole butter clams and nectar, making it cost effective as well as tasty.

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Boston Clam Chowder
A very filling, creamy soup made even better when served in bread bowls.
Votes: 1
Rating: 5
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Prep Time 15 minutes
Cook Time 20-25 minutes
Servings
cups
Ingredients
Prep Time 15 minutes
Cook Time 20-25 minutes
Servings
cups
Ingredients
Votes: 1
Rating: 5
You:
Rate this recipe!
Instructions
  1. In a large saucepan, combine the first 10 ingredients; bring to a boil. Reduce heat and simmer for about 10 minutes until vegetables are tender.
  2. Combine flour with cream and blend until smooth. Add to vegetable mixture along with clams. Cook over medium heat until thickened. Serve.
Recipe Notes
  • The addition of 3 strips of crisply fried and crumbled bacon makes the chowder even better.