Tag Archives: barley

Give a humble onion a star makeover and push it to the center of the plate.

Stuffed Onion Recipe process shot onions and cutting board Joy Makin' MamasI have, somewhere in my notebook of personal recipes that I love, one I used to make often for¬†stuffed tomatoes. I LOVE that recipe, and it’s easy to make, and someday I probably will share it with you… but I haven’t made it in a LONG time because the Joy Makin’ Mister does NOT like tomatoes. At all. So I needed to stuff a different vegetable and I thought…well, what about an onion? They’re big… juicy… flavorful… and they handle being roasted well. I haven’t ever tried stuffing zucchini for the simple reason that I think zucchini does best with just enough cooking, and stuffing it and then trying to make sure the stuffing is hot and the zucchini isn’t overdone sounds like something that would make me a candidate for Pinterest Fails. I’ll leave it to the pros. (Unless you have a hot tip for me? Let me know.) The answer is YES, you can stuff an onion. And it’s not as hard as you might think.

Stuffed Onion Process Shot hollow onion Joy Makin' Mamas
Tip: You can put the chopped up onion that comes out of the insides straight into a freezer bag and save it to use later. Just measure about 1 cup chopped onion per medium onion in your recipe.

After I sliced off a small piece from the bottom to give it a flat base, and a bigger piece from the top to be the opening, I hollowed out my onion. I used a sharp-tipped paring knife and cut around the outside edge in a circle, about one onion ring in from the edge. Then I made cuts out from the center like the spokes of a wheel, and then I worked out from the center in a series of diagonal cuts until all the onion inside was removed, and I had a hollow, flat bottomed onion ready to take the stuffing. If I were in a hurry, I would have made a straight cut almost all the way across the bottom like a flap, and then cut down the part of the onion I was going to stuff on one side only, so I could extract the contents and then pushed everything back together… but I might have had to wrap them in foil afterwards to keep them from coming to pieces in the oven, and I decided not to get involved. Maybe next time I make these I’ll be in the mood for a surprise and I’ll give it a try… or maybe not.

Stuffed Onion Recipe Process Shot ready for the oven Joy Makin' Mamas

The cute little casserole I found at the thrift store coincidentally is a perfect fit… but you can stand your onions in any baking dish or even on a cookie sheet. Depending on the size of your onions, the stuffing recipe may yield more than you need. You can bake any extra stuffing right in a casserole dish alongside the onions.

Stuffed Onion recipe horizontal Joy Makin' Mamas

The finished onions look beautiful and fancy when you serve them, and no one will guess that they were basically no trouble at all to make.

Stuffed Onions
Prep time: 
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Serves: 6 servings
This recipe doubles well. Make one batch for now, and one for the freezer. You can freeze the onions pre-stuffed, or freeze the stuffing and then thaw it and stuff your onions before baking. Both ways work! Just separate the layers of stuffed onions with parchment paper before freezing and you can take them straight from the freezer to a baking dish.
  • 6 large onions (hollowed, reserve 1 cup chopped onion for stuffing and save the rest for another use.)
  • 1 cup pearl barley
  • 2 cups chicken broth
  • 1 Tablespoon olive oil
  • 3 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 pound ground chicken
  • 1 4 oz can mushrooms, chopped
  • 8 ounces reduced fat feta cheese, crumbled
  • ½ of a 10.75 oz can condensed tomato soup
  • ½ teaspoon ancho chili powder
  • ½ teaspoon sea salt
  • `1/2 teaspoon black pepper
  • ½ cup matchstick carrots
  • ¼ cup parsley flakes
  1. Combine broth and barley and bring to a boil. Reduce heat to low and cook 45 minutes or until tender but still holding their shape. Drain any excess broth and set barley aside.
  2. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F and spray your baking dish with non stick spray or olive oil mister.
  3. In a large skillet or wok, heat the olive oil over medium high heat. Brown the garlic and reserved onion until the onion is translucent. This takes about 3-5 minutes. Add chicken and brown thoroughly. Drain.
  4. Combine barley, chicken, mushrooms, feta, soup, chili powder, carrots, salt, pepper, and parsley flakes in a large mixing bowl.
  5. Arrange onions on baking dish and fill, mounding stuffing slightly above tops of the onions.
  6. Bake at 350 degrees for 30 minutes or until the tops are browned and they are sizzling.


Sorry, honey, I’m busy exploding dinner.

Have you read this Consumer Reports article about Pyrex dishes? To sum up: Newer glass cookware is made from a different (cheaper) type of glass that doesn’t withstand thermal shock as well as Grandma’s Pyrex dishes did. Also? Using damaged glass dishes, (meaning scratched or chipped) increases the danger of failure. (And by failure, they mean KERBLOOEY.)

I had never been told (or had completely forgotten) that you should never, ever, ever use Pyrex that is scratched or chipped to cook with. (I’m not sure what else one would use it for… paint palette? Paperweight? It’s not recyclable, so I guess someone is going to have to come up with a brilliant idea. Is it you? Please share.)

Look at what I’ve been using to cook dinner for my family for about… oh, the entire time I’ve had a family.Damaged glass baking dishes are not safe Joy Makin Mamas

I know. This (or worse) could totally have happened to me:

exploding pyrex Flickr Shane Ede
Let’s order pizza. And buy a new oven.

So when KitchenAid sent me these ceramic casseroles (the Streamline Ceramic 1.9 quart, and the Nesting Ceramic 4 piece set) to test out in exchange for my honest and explosion-free feedback, I breathed a sigh of relief. Because one recommendation for avoiding the danger of glass failure is to use ceramic casseroles instead. So they are safer, number one. Number two: they are so pretty! And- guess what? These five dishes take up less room than my three old ones in my cabinets. Since I have a small, mid-century kitchen and two very destructive boys, shelf space is at a premium- especially up high for breakables. I know, we’re only a little way into this and I’ve already detailed at least two precautions I’ve taken against my children being injured by shattered cookery. The world is a dangerous place.Kitchenaid ceramic casserole dishes review Joy Makin Mamas
Since I’ve seen first hand how long-lived KitchenAid products are, I expect that these will outstrip their five year warranty by a lot. After all, the KitchenAid stand mixer that my mother bought when I was a kid- and which inspired the purchase of my own, beloved stand mixer- is still chugging along without a single hiccup. And considering how much my mother uses it, I’ve basically just told you that it will never die. I really like that the handle with the recessed bottom makes it easy to hang onto these casseroles. I have (soon will have to say, “used to have”) a set of ceramic casseroles that have two sizes with no handles and one size with very small, smooth handles. I am constantly afraid I will drop them on the way out of the oven. It’s just awkward to lift them when they are full of heavy food, and the last thing I want to do after I’ve prepared a delicious dish for my family is drop it and splatter it all over the kitchen. If I just want to get takeout, I don’t have to work that hard.

Now. You know I cannot just show you some pretty casserole dishes and call it a day. That would be like returning a borrowed plate without any cookies on it. (I’m not a complete barbarian. I may cut corners on party planning, but there are certain things that just don’t call for compromises.)

I was a vegetarian for over eight years, and I still have close family members who are vegetarian. All our family dinners go both ways- with vegetarian options and omnivorous ones. One of my biggest frustrations as a vegetarian cook is the fact that once you take Canned Cream of Something soup out of the equation, your easy, one dish, comfort meal options disappear. I personally like to create vegetarian casseroles that do well as the center dish or that coordinate with traditional holiday dishes, and this Cranberry Barley Casserole (with a vegan variation for my dairy free friends) would be delicious alongside your Thanksgiving feast.

barley casserole recipe Joy Makin Mamas

Cranberry Barley Vegetarian Casserole
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Serves: 8
This vegetarian casserole with vegan variations can be the star of the show next to a green vegetable or salad, or join a buffet of options for every dietary preference. The tart cranberries make a nice contrast to the other flavors, and the barley and lentils give plenty of texture. (No mushy casseroles for us!)
  • 2 shallots sliced thinly
  • 1 tbsp fennel seeds
  • 2 tbsp sesame seeds
  • ½ teaspoon paprika
  • 3 cloves garlic minced
  • 1 cup pearl barley
  • ½ cup lentils rinsed and picked over
  • 2½ cups vegetable stock
  • ½ cup unsweetened or low sugar dried cranberries
  • ½ cup cheddar cheese
  1. Preheat the oven to 350 and grease the inside of a 1.9 quart casserole dish with lid.
  2. Melt the butter in a large skillet over medium heat.
  3. Add the shallots, fennel, sesame seeds, paprika, and garlic to the pan and sautee until the shallots are translucent. This only takes a couple of minutes.
  4. Add the barley and lentils. Stir until the contents are well mixed.
  5. Add the vegetable stock and bring to a low boil.
  6. Stir in cranberries and transfer to the casserole.
  7. Bake covered for 30 mintues.
  8. Remove cover, top with cheese, and bake for 15 more minutes.
To make this dish vegan, use canola oil and a pinch of salt in place of the butter. Instead of cheddar cheese, pulse ⅓ cup raw sunflower seeds and ¼ cup nutritional yeast together in your food processor until the texture looks like coarse crumbs, and use as a topping.

Cranberry Barley Casserole Recipe Joy Makin Mamas