Slow Cooked Beef, Barley and Vegetable Soup


Nanny’s Soup

There are few greater feelings for a mother than having dinner on at 9.30am – knowing that you won’t have to pull a rabbit out of a hat later on when everyone is tired and cranky. Better still, is when dinner is this magical healing soup.
It’s based on the delicious soup my mum made us every winter to fill our bellies and ward away the coughs and colds. Which we all have here at the moment – terrible coughs, aches, fevers and chills. It’s rough taking care of sick kids when you’re delirious with fever yourself…
Anyway, hopefully this soup will help return us to good health. (And hurry up Spring!)
It’s cheap, it’s easy and utterly delicious. I make a huge batch so that I can freeze half.
Nanny adds a packet of chicken noodle soup to hers at the end for a bit of extra flavour but as we like to avoid additives I add half a cup of risoni, some mixed dried herbs and a good pinch of sea salt instead.

Here’s How:

In a slow cooker (or large stock pot if making in the stove top)


At least 500 g of a cheap cut of beef – I used 4 pieces of Osso bucco this time as I like to get all those healing minerals from the bones and marrow but I’ve also used gravy beef, casserole/chuck steak etc…
1.5 cup soup mix (Barley, split peas etc…)
1 diced onion
2-3 minced/finely chopped garlic cloves
2 carrots diced, chopped or grated
2 celery sticks, chopped
Optional (1 grated parsnip)
2 litres stock
Top up with 1 litre of water
Good pinch of salt and cracked pepper
2 teaspoons dried mixed herbs
1/2 cup risoni

Cook on low for 8 hours
After 4 hours, remove meat and cut into bite size pieces, return bones and all to the pot.
Add risoni 1 hour before serving.



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Really awesome things to do with leftover bread – Part 1


*If you are not into grains or carbs, this post is not for you I’m afraid…

Mind you, we don’t eat a lot of bread here. Well, C does actually. He drives a truck for work and he needs food that can be managed easily so sandwiches or wraps tend to be a daily staple for him. J5 loves a toasted sanga, but while R2 will munch on some toast, he won’t eat sandwiches at all. I love bread, I just don’t think the love is mutual…
Anyway, we often end up with half a loaf of uneaten bread. I’m not one for wasting food, to me it’s just like throwing money in the bin, so I thought I’d share a series of posts about what we do with our left over or day old bread. This is part one…



These are essentially little tarts made from bread and leftovers. You can fill them with anything – bolognaise, savoury mince, tuna mornay, casseroles, baked beans, bacon and eggs etc… This time, I used the rest of last night’s bacon, zucchini and tomato risotto. (made with brown rice though, not aborio)

Step 1
Cut a diagonal slit from the centre to one corner of a piece of bread.
Cut one crust off and fold the bread in to form a triangle cup.
Squish the bread together to seal and line a muffin tin with 12 pieces.


Step 2
Fill triangle cups with leftovers.
*I drizzled a little olive oil over the empty bread baskets too but it’s not really necessary.


Step 3
Top with grated cheese and bake @ 180 C for approx 30 minutes.


Step 4
Such a perfect weekend lunch or quick midweek meal Enjoy ๐Ÿ™‚


Bread Posts Still To Come…

Part 2 – “Savouries”
Part 3 – “French toast, family style”

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Easy Cheesy Pizza (with 2ingredient yoghurt dough)

Cooking with kids is one of the greatest ways to get them to eat their meals. I’ve been somewhat surprised to discover that it’s actually really enjoyable too! The process can be a bit slow and a little messy but they love it and it’s a nice way to engage with them on a rainy day.
More than that though, as a woman who cooks every meal, every night, I feel really good about equipping them with a basic life skill so that one day their future wives might get a night or two off in the kitchen! Hey, maybe they’ll even be cooking for me soon… One can only hope ๐Ÿ™‚

2 Ingredient Yoghurt Dough
This dough is so versatile and easy to make. I have a Bellini (Target’s version of a thermomix) and you can make it in there in a flash but to be honest, it’s so easy, I still use a bowl and my hands.
Plus, I’m a fairly tactile person. I used to teach high school art and ceramics and I like working the dough with my hands so I can feel if it’s the right consistency.

note: This makes 2 medium/large pizzas. (You can halve the recipe if you like)

2 cups Greek Yoghurt
3 cups plain flour (pretty much any flour will work, – spelt, gluten free etc…)

Preheat oven to 200C (390F)
In a large bowl, add first two cups of flour to the yoghurt and roughly combine.
Gradually add the third cup of flour until you reach a workable consistency that’s no longer sticky.
Divide dough into two (or four)
Roll out on a floured surface.

You can add whatever you like.
We kept things pretty simple – basically a margarita with bacon:
Tomato Passata
Dried Italian herbs like oregano and basil.
Crushed garlic
Spring onions
Free range, organic bacon
Mozzarella cheese

*Cook on a pizza tray or lined baking tray for approximately 30 minutes or until cheese melted and edges browned and crispy.
*Cut in half and check that the dough is golden and cooked in the centre. If not, give it another 5-10 minutes.

My whole family loves this dough (making it and eating it!)


It’s great for making things like cheese and ham scrolls as well.

Note: I use self raising flour for scrolls, halve the recipe and bake at 180C. (350F)

Warm from the oven…

Perfect for lunch boxes!

Enjoy ๐Ÿ™‚

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Well slow cooker season is well and truly here. Today, some sun has managed to briefly peek through the clouds but generally the mornings have been icy and the days, wet, windy and dreary. On the plus side, spending more time indoors does inspire some delicious meals and baked goods.
The slow cooker is back as a permanent fixture on my kitchen bench. It’s just so satisfying to turn a cheap cut of meat like gravy beef into a tender, mouthwatering meal with so little effort.
As well as that, slow cookers make it so easy to cook in bulk and freeze half for later. I can’t believe that it’s taken me three years to figure out that using the slow cooker is also the best way to defrost and reheat those meals. You just dump the frozen sauce, soup, casserole etc… Into the slow cooker and about 6 hours on high should do the trick! Why did I waste all those hours defrosting things in the fridge or on the bench?
Once it’s hot, you can even add your rice or pasta into the pot with no need for extra dirty dishes. I add some extra water, about 1/2 – 1 cup so it doesn’t suck too much of the liquid out of the meal.
You can easily halve this recipe by the way if you prefer but I like to cook a lot and freeze half for a rainy day.
Anyway, let’s get down to business…

Slow Cooked Hearty Beef
1 kg gravy beef, diced
2 small or 1 large red or brown onion cut into rustic chunks.
4-6 garlic cloves, roughly chopped
1 large sweet potato cut into large even cubes
4 small potatoes quartered
3 carrots sliced
1 tin tomatoes
Salt, pepper
1 tbsp dried herbs (I used sage and thyme)
3-4 tbsp flour (you can use arrow root, plain, spelt, cornflour – anything that will help it thicken)
1.5 – 2 litres beef stock

*You can throw everything in together, turn it on and walk away and you will get a great result.
But I like to do a few steps first to add a real depth of flavour.


1. Season and brown beef in batches and add to slow cooker with carrots and potatoes.
2. Gently fry the onion and garlic in the same pan used for the beef.
3. Add flour and a pinch of salt, stir to coat and fry for a couple of minutes.
4. Gradually add about 1/2-1 cup of water to the onions to create a gravy.
5. Add onion gravy to the pot along with herbs, tomatoes and stock.
6. Cook on high for 6 hours or on low for 8-9 hours.
7. Serve with cooked rice, crusty bread or simply as it is.

* Optional: add some leafy greens like spinach or silver beet to the surface of the casserole and let it gently steam under the lid for about 20 minutes before serving.

Enjoy the goodness ๐Ÿ™‚

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Slow Cooked Porridge – with apple, cinnamon and honey


The Best Winter Breakfast. EVER!
This morning we woke to the most delicious aroma of cinnamon and apple wafting through the house. If you ever needed a reason to get out of bed on a chilly morning, this is it!
J5 declared “yummy!” And R2 took one look at his bowl and said, “don’t like porridge.” Which is typical, but I managed to dot a small amount on the bottom of his lip from the spoon and watched his scowl turn into a smile declaring, “I do like porridge!”
Bowls were licked clean and with basically no effort at all, little bellies were sent off to kinder warm and content.

*Note: as this this breakfast cooks itself over night, it will only work if you’re a bit of a night owl like me as it will be ready in 6-7 hours. I put it on before bed at 11.30pm and it is ready to eat when we get up at 6.30am.

SLOW COOKED PORRIDGE with apple, cinnamon and honey
Serves 4

1. 2 cups of rolled oats
2. 2 chopped apples – I used red delicious as that’s what I had but any variety will work fine.
3. 2 tablespoons honey
4. 1 teaspoon cinnamon
5. 4 cups of water

Combine in your slow cooker/crock pot and cook on low for 6-7 hours.
Dish into bowls and let stand for a couple of minutes while it cools and thickens a little.
Serve as is or with milk, extra honey, chopped almonds, fresh grated apple… Etc
Enjoy the goodness ๐Ÿ™‚

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Lentil Pot Pie

Before I moved in with and married my husband, I ate very little meat. I suppose I was a student then and couldn’t afford a lot of it. I also lived in lots of share houses over the years with vegetarians, and with communal cooking, it was generally just easier to cook vego. Canned tuna and chicken were probably my main meat source, maybe a lamb kebab after a big night out… although I did waitress at a few cafes and probably had a beef salad here or there and a good weekend fry-up with bacon.
These days, we eat a fair amount of meat. I was seriously anaemic earlier this year and it really knocked me around so I have been more conscious of the amount of iron I’m getting in. That, and I live with 3 meat loving males.
I still aim for about two, sometimes three, meat free dinners per week. Always ‘Meat Free Monday’ and generally an omelette, a frittata or something bean or vegetable based else where. The reality is, organic or good quality, grass fed meat is more expensive but ethically, it is all that I’m willing to buy. I like to think the animals we eat have had a good life and have been treated well. Factory farming is an absolute disgrace and it is pleasing to see the beginnings of a move away from that sort of food production in this country.
Anyway, as I said, my men love their meat so I tend to entice them into their vegetarian meals by making them hearty and with simple flavours. This one is a real people pleaser… Especially if it’s a little chilly where you are!


Lentil Pot Pie (Serves 4)

4 large potatoes (or sweet potatoes) peeled and chopped.
* I used red potatoes tonight as they were on special and for a bit of a treat. We eat very few potatoes, usually opting instead for the sweet potato for its low GI (slow release energy) properties.
1/2 an onion, diced
1 garlic clove, finely diced
1.5 cups diced vegetables (I use frozen peas, corn and carrots in this, as they are kid friendly, quick and easy)
1 tin organic tomatoes or 4-6 diced fresh tomatoes
1 tin organic brown lentils, drained and rinsed. (look for BPA free tinned goods. I use the Global Organics brand)
1 tablespoon organic BBQ sauce. (I use the Macro brand)
Cracked sea salt and pepper (use pink Himalayan, Celtic sea salt, or Murray river salt – hasn’t been stripped of all it’s nutrition!)
Optional: butter, milk, olive oil, grated cheese etc… for mashed potatoes.

Here’s How

Boil your potatoes in a large pot.

Gently sautรฉ onion and garlic.

* if using fresh diced veggies instead of frozen, add now and sautรฉ.

Add tomatoes, salt and pepper and bring to a boil then reduce heat.

Add frozen veggies, lentils and BBQ sauce and simmer for about 10 minutes.


Fill individual ramekins (or one large oven proof dish) dividing the mixture as you see fit. I put a little less in the kids ones.

Mash potatoes to your liking – I add grass fed butter, salt and pepper and a splash of full cream, organic milk.

Top each dish with potato and if using, a sprinkle of grated cheese.

Place under a grill or in a hot oven to melt the cheese.


Enjoy ๐Ÿ™‚

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Garlic and Rosemary Infused Olive Oil


Smash four, fat garlic cloves and combine in a clean jar with 4 teaspoons of dried rosemary (or 1 or 2 sprigs of fresh) and approximately 2 cups of good quality extra virgin olive oil to fill the jar.

Place lid on tightly and leave for flavour to infuse at least overnight.

Store in a dark pantry or for small portions, if you prefer, transfer to ice cube trays to store in fridge or freezer.

To be honest, I’m not sure how long it will keep for as I’ve always used mine from the pantry within a few weeks but I should think at least 6 months. If in doubt, halve recipe and use a smaller jar.

This is delicious for roasting vegetables, lamb or beef, using in pasta sauce and risotto, or sautรฉing vegetables such as mushrooms and tomatoes.

Why not make a lovely gift tag and give someone a jar for Christmas?

Enjoy ๐Ÿ™‚

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