Tag Archives: carrots

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.


All I want for Christmas is a #HoneyBakedHoliday #Sponsored

#HoneyBakedHoliday Half Ham Joy Makin Mamas

Since I have my two front teeth already, all I want for Christmas is some HoneyBaked ham. Ok, maybe not ALL. I’d also like about 24 uninterrupted hours to tackle my to do list without anyone under 3 feet tall grabbing my posterior to shout HUG HUG HUG just as I pick up a sharp knife, open the oven door, or start stirring something that will burn if I stop. Because that’s AWESOME. Wait! I CAN HAVE BOTH! Sort of. Thank you to HoneyBaked Ham for sponsoring this post and for creating a perfect, ready to heat and serve holiday menu with no sharp knives or tedious stirrings. (I can’t help you with the oven door, but, as I found out during my visit to their Alexandria, VA store, at least the HoneyBaked sides all cook at the same temperature setting, to make scheduling the oven time easier.)

#HoneyBakedHoliday Green Bean Casserole Joy Makin MamasOnce you have crossed your main dish (look at that beautiful half ham up there! They have quarter hams, too, if you aren’t serving a crowd… or my family, who think there’s no such thing as “too much ham.”) and your sides off the list, you can free yourself to BE PRESENT. Or to wrap presents or to go caroling or cook a meal for the homeless shelter or just sit quietly and knit and catch up on your favorite show. For some reason the last few weeks of the year always come with at least one moment when I think, “this is NEVER going to get done- I’m just going to be rushing FOREVER.” Things always do eventually come together, but if I can simplify things and spend a little more time writing old friends or walking in a winter wonderland or sleeping, then I feel much merrier going into yet another weekend of back to back parties.

#HoneyBakedHoliday Mashed Potatoes Joy Makin Mamas

It’s always a struggle to try and pack in everything we want to do- so many invitations are forthcoming between Thanksgiving and New Year’s. And I never want to miss ANY of them. I want every opportunity to catch up with friends I see too seldom and to make merry with everyone I love- whether they celebrate the same holidays I do or not. So usually what ends up being missing from this season of love and kindness is quiet joy and peaceful reflection. I need those things too. I need to make a commitment to myself to lighten my load where ever I can, so I can make room for them.

#HoneyBakedHoliday Seasonal Pie Joy Makin Mamas

From now until 1/11/15 you can enter to win a $25,000 HoneyBaked Kitchen Makeover when you buy a Ham and Turkey Breast bundle.

Check out this limited time coupon for $8.00 off any Sliced and Glazed Whole Turkey and 4lb Quarter Ham (Or Larger) from HoneyBaked Ham to help you make your holiday dinner easy and delicious! (Offer Valid at Participating Retail Locations: Forestville, Silver Spring, Alexandria, Fairfax, Falls Church, Fields Ertel, Beechmont, Kenwood, Colerain, Florence, Salem, Centerville, Sawmill Road, McNaughten, Louisville, Lexington, Fern Creek, Glendale, Paradise Valley, Superstition, Tucson East, Tucson North, Overland Park, Independence, Barry Road, Norristown, Parma, Willoughby, Rocky River, Strongsville, Maple Heights, Canton, Fairlawn and Chapel Hill.)

If you have any leftover ham, (I know, I’m HILARIOUS!) cut it off the bone, leaving some shreds clinging, and use it to make ham stock! Ham stock makes delicious soups- you’ve probably had it in split pea soup and Hoppin’ John, with a flavor that isn’t like anything else. It’s also great in chili.

Ham Stock
Cuisine: American
Prep time: 
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Serves: 6 cups
delicious, flavorful ham stock to use as a base in a comforting soup.
  • 1 ham bone from 8-10 lb ham
  • ½ onion, sliced
  • 1 teaspoon olive oil
  • 1 clove garlic, pressed
  • 2 large bay leaves or 3-5 small
  • 2 medium carrots, peeled and roughly chopped
  • ½ teaspoon ancho chili powder
  • ½ teaspoon ground mustard
  • ½ teaspoon paprika
  • ½ teaspoon coriander
  • 1 teaspoon peppercorn melange
  • 1 teaspoon coarsely ground sea salt
  1. Put bone in slow cooker. Add spices and water to cover
  2. Cook, on low, 8 hours or overnight.
  3. Allow to cool.
  4. Strain ham stock through wire strainer. Reserve any large shreds of ham from the pickings to add to your soup, and discard bones and spices.
  5. Refrigerate or freeze stock until ready to use.
If you are buying ham bones instead of using the leftovers from your ham, purchase about 1.5 lbs of bones.

Ham Bone Soup Stock keeps your #HoneyBakedHoliday going Joy Makin Mamas #sponsoredI have been compensated for visiting the Alexandria, VA Honeybaked Ham store and for the creation of this post. My sincere and honest opinions are obviously not for sale and may differ from yours… please enjoy your family celebrations in good health!

Skillet Coq au Vin (with Chicken and Vegetarian versions!)

skillet coq au vin recipeOne dish dinners make scheduling a cinch. You won’t need much to go along with this- maybe some rice or a green vegetable. So cleanup will be easy, too. During my vegetarian years, I used vegetable stock and a good seitan in place of the chicken. If you want to prep this and then put it in a slow cooker on low, you can double it. For a family meal, three pounds of chicken pieces and doubling the other ingredients will also work. (I find that without bones, the white meat dries out too much, but boneless thighs would probably do fine.)

This version is not strictly traditional, I’m quite sure. I didn’t research how it ought to be done or sample authentic coq au vin… I just tinkered around and made changes until I had a dish I liked. But it’s got chicken, and it’s got wine, and it’s darn good, so coq au vin I shall call it. I like to serve this as a “company” dish with butter noodles or plain rice, or with a green salad and crusty bread for soaking up the sauce. Because trust me… you’ll want to eat the sauce. As a shortcut, I sometimes use baby carrots, but look for the really small ones. More slender pieces of carrot get a better texture in this recipe than thicker ones.

Skillet Coq au Vin
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Serves: 2
I found the original for this recipe in one of those regional cookbooks you can find in used book stores- the self-published ones that are full of personality and delightful surprises. After significant changes to accommodate my preferences, this became one of my signature dishes.
  • 1 cup chicken stock
  • 1 cup red wine (cheap works. I've tried a number of kinds and thought they were all fine.)
  • 2 skinless, bone-in chicken breasts
  • 1 medium onion, chopped
  • 8 oz mushrooms, sliced
  • 4 carrots, halved or quartered lengthwise depending on thickness
  • 1 T olive oil
  • 1 teaspoon thyme
  • 2 bay leaves
  • 5 cloves garlic, chopped
  • 1 teaspoon black pepper
  • ¼ cup flour
  1. In a large skillet, heat olive oil on medium high heat.
  2. Coat chicken breasts thoroughly with pepper and flour.
  3. Brown chicken breasts in oil on both sides. (About 6-10 minutes.)
  4. Remove chicken to a plate and cover. Add onions and garlic to skillet. Sautee about 1 minute.
  5. Add mushrooms and sautee until tender, about 2 minutes.
  6. Return chicken to skillet. Add remaining ingredients and simmer 1 hour (or more) until done.
Note: It's probably not according to Hoyle, but I prefer baby bella mushrooms in this. I find they are harder to overcook than other kinds of mushrooms. I have used beef stock in a pinch and it came out just fine. Enjoy!


Pasta e Fagioli (aka “Pasta Fazool”) with slow cooker variation

Pasta E Fagioli Recipe with crock pot variationWinter weather always makes me want something hot, hearty, and filling. If I can spend all day savoring the wonderful smell of something delicious, that’s even better. And if it’s chock full of healthy, delicious ingredients? Well, that’s just perfect. This hearty Italian peasant soup is good comfort food, or serve it in your good dishes for a first course at a nice dinner.

You can find a very well written article on cooking with dried beans here, or you can use my no-fuss crock pot method. At about lunch time, put your beans in your crock pot and cover with cold water. Put the lid on but don’t turn it on. Around 9 pm, drain the beans in a wire strainer and rinse them with cold water from the tap. Return them to the crock pot and turn it on low. (Use the “warm” setting if you plan to sleep in.) In the morning, you should have perfectly tender beans. If you want to watch the first batch to make sure you know how fast they cook in your crockpot, reverse this. Put them in the cold water at bed time, and put them on low in the morning. Once they’re cooked, rinse them with cold water again in your strainer, and use them in whatever recipe you like. A 15 oz can of beans can be replaced with about 1.5 cups of your own home-cooked beans. I like to do a large batch and freeze them in about 2 cup bags for later use.

Pasta e Fagioli (aka "Pasta Fazool")
Recipe type: Soup
Cuisine: Italian
Prep time: 
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Serves: 8
Pasta E Fagioli This recipe is delicious. I have reproduced it exactly as I received it, but I will make some recommendations at the end. Make this a day ahead. I was somewhat disappointed with it when we ate it the night I fixed it, but by lunch the next day it was SO good! Also, it's got that magic combination of olive oil, garlic, and tomatoes as well as being a good source of fiber. Serves 8 Cooking Light Magazine 3/98
  • 1 lb. dried navy beans (See instructions)
  • 1 Tbsp. olive oil
  • 1 cup chopped onions
  • ½ cup sliced carrot
  • ½ cup chopped celery
  • 2 garlic cloves, pressed
  • 1 (28-oz.) can crushed tomatoes
  • 9 cups water (or chicken stock)
  • ¼ teaspoon ancho chile powder
  • 1 bay leaf
  • 1 teaspoon dried oregano
  • ½ teaspoon dried thyme
  • ¼ teaspoon dried rosemary (or substitute a full Tablespoon of fresh- MUCH nicer.)
  • 2 garlic cloves, crushed
  • 4 oz uncooked small pasta (elbow mac, mini penne, or small shells are perfect)
  • 1 cup chopped fresh flat-leaf parsley
  • ¼ tsp. black pepper
  • 3 oz fresh Parmesan cheese, grated (use the real stuff. You won't regret it!)
  1. Soak beans overnight and then cook them in a pot of water until they are almost soft. (About 1 hour.) Or substitute four 15 oz cans of beans.
  2. Heat oil in pan over medium heat until hot. Add onion, carrot, and celery, and sauté 5 minutes or until tender.
  3. Add garlic and cook another minute.
  4. Add tomatoes. Once they start to bubble, cover the pot and reduce heat to low.
  5. Simmer for 10 minutes, stirring occasionally.
  6. Add beans, water or stock, Ancho powder, and bay leaf. Simmer for 50 minutes.
  7. Add oregano, thyme, rosemary, and 2 garlic cloves; cover and simmer 25 minutes or until beans are tender. Discard bay leaf.
  8. Puree about 2 cups of the soup and return it to the pot.
  9. Add pasta. Cook about 7 minutes more or until pasta is done.
  10. Stir in parsley and black pepper just before you take the pot off the stove, and garnish with the Parmesan cheese.
If you prefer to cook your soup in the slow cooker, cook it for approximately 4 hours on low. I like to use mixed beans for this recipe, although it's traditional to use only white beans. I occasionally throw in some browned Italian sausage, for variety, but I believe this is also not traditional.


The World’s Easiest Side Dish

World's easiest side dish steamed broccoli and carrots with garlic and gingerThis is so easy and simple I almost feel guilty calling it a recipe. But although nothing compares to fresh vegetables, there’s no denying that it sounds like work to cook fresh veggies from scratch. Particularly since dinner is the busiest time of all in some households. Typically, my eldest needs help with his homework while my little one wants to be held, my husband isn’t home from work yet, and IF there is going to be a last minute thingie that needs to be dealt with, that’s when it will happen. During dinner prep! But this fresh veggie side dish is so quick and simple to put together, and you can do the prep in the morning or even the night before, that it will fit right into your evening.

I love making this to go alongside any crock pot meal. My husband is a broccoli hater, but he has actually been known to have seconds of this! Without further ado, here is the world’s easiest Fresh Broccoli and Carrot side dish with ginger and garlic.

Steamed Broccoli and Carrots with ginger and garlic
Recipe type: side dish
Cuisine: american
Prep time: 
Cook time: 
Total time: 
Serves: 8
nothing could be easier, tastier, or fresher than this side dish!
  • 1 lb fresh broccoli crowns
  • 16 oz bag of baby carrots
  • fresh ginger
  • 1 clove fresh garlic
  • ¼ cup of water
  1. wash the broccoli crowns and shake off any excess water.
  2. Cut the florets off the stalks and place in a 2 quart glass casserole. Reserve the thick stalks for another use.
  3. Empty bag of baby carrots over the top of the broccoli.
  4. grate fresh ginger over the top of the dish. All told, I probably use a teaspoon but this is strictly to taste. (Sorry but dried ginger won't work here.)
  5. Press one clove of garlic into the dish.
  6. Add water, cover and cook in your microwave on high for approximately 8 minutes, until the broccoli is bright green and the carrots are just tender when pricked with a fork.
  7. Serve using a slotted spoon.
You can prep this ahead of time and let it sit in the refrigerator. Just pop it in the microwave at "go" time. Be aware that you may need to adjust the cooking time for your microwave. Nobody likes overcooked veggies, so be cautious!

Don’t forget you can find all our nummy recipes indexed by ingredient on our recipe page. Would you like to submit your recipe for inclusion on the site and in our newsletters? You can do that here! We can’t wait to hear from you.

Chicken Noodle Soup

Chicken Noodle SoupToday I was on the mom side of the “your kid is sick” call from the school for the very first time. It made me remember how the time between when they called your mom and she came to get you was an eternity, no matter how long it actually took. We are fortunate enough to live very near the school, so I actually got to the clinic before his teacher came back with his bookbag so we could go. Naturally I hugged my sick baby while we waited, which prompted all the other sick kids at the clinic to come watch us with huge, sad eyes. I couldn’t gather them all up and mother them, but I hope their own mothers arrived quickly to love on them.

Once home, there is only one thing to do when everyone is feverish and cranky, and that’s to whip up some comfort food. Fortunately, I just finished some chicken stock from my “Still Going” chicken recipe. So I was able to whip up some chicken soup in a flash!

Chicken Noodle Soup
Recipe type: slow cooker
Prep time: 
Cook time: 
Total time: 
Serves: 8
Fresh, home made chicken soup that's quicker than going to the store.
  • 2 quarts chicken stock
  • 4 ounces cooked chicken
  • 1 package egg noodles
  • 2 medium carrots, sliced
  • 4 ribs celery, sliced
  • 1 clove garlic, minced
  • 1 Tablespoon dried onion
  • ¼ teaspoon thyme
  • Parmesan Cheese, grated, for garnish (optional)
  1. In a stockpot over medium heat, add the carrots, celery, garlic, and onion to the stock and simmer until warmed through and the carrots are beginning to look bright and "cooked." (About 10-15 minutes.)
  2. Add remaining ingredients and cook until the noodles are done. (Usually whatever it says on the package directions, but maybe a minute or two longer, depending on how hot your soup is when you add them. Probably 7-10 minutes.)
  3. Serve with crusty bread and grated parmesan cheese.
Want it even faster? Skip the fresh carrots and celery and stir in an 8 ounce package of frozen peas and carrots for the last 5 or 6 minutes of cooking time. You will have fresh soup in approximately the time it takes to boil your noodles.