I’m a half-way decent cook but a bad grocery shopper.  I also start thinking about dinner 10 minutes after my body has activated the low fuel alert so last minute grocery runs are almost always a non-starter.

As a result, I spend a lot of my kitchen time trying to make something fast out of ingredients that were purchased with no master plan.  I call it Chopped: The Home Game.

I have not been good up to this point of writing any of these creations down which means I have to reinvent them every time.  This series is an attempt to remedy that.

Original Recipe

My photos will not be anywhere close to this fancy

Sometimes I start from scratch, but more often I have a recipe from the internet that serves as starting point.  This evenings starting place was Barley Burger Stew.

There is no way I’m going to retype the recipe for you.  I did google it though.

Barley Burger Stew at Taste of Home

Usual Substitutions

This is one of the rare times I actually made note of the changes I made to the recipe on the actual recipe so I’ve replicated the results on more than one occasion.

  • 1 lb ground beef instead of 1/2 lb ground beef
    Does anyone buy meat in 1/2 lb packages? No way I’m doing extra work for less meat.
  • 1 bag mirepoix instead of chopped onion and celery
    Chopping things up is second only to washing dishes on the list of reasons I don’t cook every night.  Knives that don’t suck helped with that but not as much as bagged frozen vegetables I can dump in the pan.
  • 1 large can tomato juice instead of 2 1/4 cups tomato juice and water
    Same deal as the meat. If I could buy tomato juice in 2 1/4 cup cans I might follow the recipe.  Maybe.
  • 1 cup barley instead of 1/4 cup
    Makes up for the extra liquid
  • Smoked Paprika
    Doesn’t replace anything.  That stuff is just super delicious.

Can I make this without going to the store Substitutions

These are the extra substitutions I made tonight based on what I had on hand.

  • Top Sirloin Cap Steak instead of Ground Beef.
    In my defense, I had ground beef I just thought the sirloin would be yummy.
  • Cajun style mirepoix instead of standard mirepoix
    Cajun style replaces the carrot with green pepper.  Still has onion and celery.
  • 2 cups of water &15 oz can of tomato sauce instead of tomato juice
  • 14.5 oz can of tomatoes
    Extra vegetable attack of opportunity. I noticed too late I ended up with a brand with high fructose corn syrup so who knows if I did us any favors.
  • Quick Cook Barley instead of the standard kind
    I prefer the regular barley but I can’t always find it.  Plus it take a hella long time to cook.

I followed the basic cooking instructions except it only needed to cook for 15-20 min thanks to the quick cook barley.

Results

A little less water or a little more time to reduce and it would have been perfect
A little less water or a little more time to reduce and it would have been perfect

It turned out pretty tasty.  I liked the extra tomatoes and sirloin instead of ground beef a lot. The green peppers also worked better than the carrots.

I guessed wrong on the water so it was more of a soup than stew.  Next time I’d cut the water by a cup or so.

Posted by:Maureen Carruthers

Smart. Kind. Funny. At least that's the goal. I care about encouraging girls to consider STEM careers, helping nonprofits be the best they can be, cats, and German-style boardgames.

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