My husband asked me to write down the beef barley soup I concocted yesterday, since he said it was "restaurant quality," so here goes (read it all the way through before preparing):
Brown 1lb chunks of stew meat in bacon fat, stir in chopped onion, celery, and carrots, about a cup of each.
After a few minutes, add 4 cups beef stock and 4 cups chicken stock, a half pound more of stew meat (not browned), 2 bay leaves, 1 T Worcestershire sauce, 1 T tamari (or soy sauce), 1 T Trader Joe's umami paste (optional - can use tomato paste), 1/2 t seasoning salt, 1/2 t garlic salt, 1 t chicken bouillon concentrate (because the cartons of stock from Trader Joe's aren't as flavorful, though healthier), and top with a cup of sliced mushrooms.
I did all this in my instant pot. Turn it to the slow cook setting on normal for two hours. Turn it up to high for another hour. Add Trader Joe's quick cooking barley for the last 20 minutes.
In an effort to cut back on carbs - especially refined grains - I am trying to find tasty, workable substitutes for crackers, chips, basically anything crunchy or doughy (just typing that gives me cravings). Arriving home from homeschool park day around 3pm, my snack brain turned on and I started thinking out of the (bread) box as I contemplated my options, not wanting to repeat anything I had already eaten today, which meant no eggs, cheese, nuts, or fruit.
When I went to the pantry to get a bottle of apple cider vinegar (for mixing with garlic olive oil to dip carrots), I noticed a can of skipjack tuna from Trader Joe's. I always buy the wild albacore tuna from Costco, but something about that name just made me want to try it, even though it's chunk light. I knew that I still wanted protein, and near the can of tuna was a jar of sliced dill pickles (also from TJ's) - the kind I usually chop and put in tuna salad.
It occurred to me that the pickles were the right shape for rolling, and then I realized that other tuna salad mix-ins could also work, like pickled jalapeno peppers and pepperoncini. So I mixed the tuna with a little mayo (just enough to moisten it), and voila, inside out tuna rolls! I did add a little chopped onion after the first taste, because you know, onions and pickles...
The only one not pictured is the artichoke heart. It was okay, but it needed something, so I dropped it in the leftover vinaigrette dip from my carrot snack and let it marinate for a few minutes. Then when I topped it with the tuna, it was delightful. My favorite, though, was the stuffed pepperoncini.
I didn't use celery because I had already had that earlier in the day with cream cheese and lox - if you add capers, it's a grown-up version of ants on a log...or you could do dill for termites :)
Another low-carb way I sometimes eat canned tuna is mixed with cottage cheese and salsa. Next time, I'm going to try it with Sriracha mayo on a cucumber slice...mmm...
I go grocery shopping every two weeks (going just twice a month helps me stick to our $500 food budget): once at Costco and once at Trader Joe's. TJs is always my favorite. Towards the end of the previous millenium, I worked at the first Trader Joe's in Northern California. It was across the street from my high school, so I answered the call when they came to my hometown (San Rafael), because the idea of being a "cheese girl" sounded glorious. Nor was I disappointed when I landed that position - cutting, wrapping, slicing, tasting, and giving out samples of cheeses from all over the world - that was just over 20 years ago, and if it weren't for the physical aspect (I mean that two ways: mopping floors and putting on pounds), I probably could have done that for forever, but it was actually the rigors of my junior year that forced me into an early retirement from my dream job - turns out working until 10pm isn't such a good fit with learning chemistry, advanced algebra, etc.
Alas, the cheese shop is no more, but thankfully the cheese hasn't moved, so every month is is a trip down memory lane...or should I say aisle (better yet, Ile, as in Ile de France). This past week's excursion was especially exciting because it's the start of the holiday season. Which means more selection of two of my favorite things: cheese and chocolate. My husband is reading Sugar Nation, which I reserved for him at the library after he started reading a copy of the much older Sugar Blues that we found at a thrift shop. I'm kinda wishing we had held off on the sugar research until after Christmas, because it's kind of a downer, what with all the seasonal coffees and baked goods closing in on us. On the other hand (can you hear the music from Fiddler on the Roof?), maybe it will help us to be a little more restrained. What was I talking about? Oh yeah, chocolate and cheese. So I passed on the former and went a little nuts with the latter...so without further ado, here are the new (or new to me) items I tried and have, of course, already tasted, and now will unsuccessfully attempt to make them last throughout the month (especially the cheese):
Tintern Creamy Cheddar with Chives & Shallots ($8.99/lb)
Creamy Toscano Cheese Soaked in Syrah ($7.99/lb)
Port Salut Semi-Soft Cheese ($9.49/lb)
Decaf Candy Cane Green Tea ($1.99)
Dark Morello Cherries from Germany ($2.29)
I made my own "Cherry Garcia" with these sour cherries + other TJs ingredients: Midnight Moo (chocolate syrup), chocolate chips, vanilla ice cream and a splash of brandy (optional).