Saturday, October 31, 2009

Men's Dip

Whenever I bring this layered Mexican-style dip to a party, I inevitably find a group of men hovering around it. I'll admit that I eat my fair share of it as well. I like to serve it with Fritos (the "scoop" kind). The picture above is a version without sour cream, 'cause hubby doesn't like it. He does love this dip, though, and has been known to eat it as a meal.

To make it, you'll need an 9x2-inch round or 8x2-inch square dish. The first layer is a can of Fritos bean dip. Spread this evenly over the bottom of the dish. Next, spread about 3/4 cup of a smooth guacamole, followed by 1/2 cup sour cream. Drain a can of Rotel tomatoes and chiles and spread these over the sour cream. A small can of chopped olives is the next layer. Finely grate enough colby-jack cheese to cover the top of the dip. (Some people also like to sprinkle sliced scallions on top.)
Dig in with your Fritos Scoops and enjoy!

Tuesday, October 27, 2009

Star Washcloth

I was browsing around on Ravelry and I came across this sweet star-shaped washcloth. I had all of the supplies on hand and knew I had to make one right away. If you want to make one too, you can find the pattern here. I have a feeling I won't be stopping at one of these. They are easy and fun to make, not to mention that they are super cute!

This particular wash cloth is going to be part of a gift for a sweet, little bambina. I found this organic, all-natural baby wash at Target. It cost a bit more than I would usually spend on such a product, but it smelled so good and heck, it's for a gift, so I decided to splurge a little. I hope the wee one will be happy with her present.

Tuesday, October 6, 2009

Slow-Cooker Beef and Barley Soup

It has finally started feeling like Autumn, sunny but with a crisp chill in the air. I have been wanting to try out some new soup recipes and it is now time to do just that. This recipe is from The America's Test Kitchen Family Cookbook, the tome I turn to most often when I want to make something tasty. I was glad that I made this recipe because it turned out to be very tasty indeed! It has a beef stew-type flavor but is not quite as heavy. Simply delicious!

I had to go out and purchase a new slow-cooker for this recipe because the 5-quart size I received as a wedding gift 13+ years ago wasn't big enough. I found a 7-quart Rival Crock Pot at Kmart for $30 (plus there is a $5 rebate!). It isn't one of those fancy-dancy programmable pots that you can find nowadays, but I figure that the less it has going on, the less likely it is to break. It made an excellent pot of soup and that's good enough for me!

To make the soup, first trim and cut up a 3-pound chuck roast into 1/2-inch pieces. Dry the meat with paper towels and salt and pepper it generously. Brown the beef in two or three batches using 2 teaspoons of oil per batch in a hot skillet. Put the beef into the slow-cooker. Heat up 2 more teaspoons of oil and cook 2 onions and 2 carrots that have been chopped medium, along with 1/4 teaspoon salt. Cook them about 5 minutes or until they are soft. Stir in 1/2 cup of a dry red wine and let it simmer for about a minute. Put the onions and carrots into the cooker along with a 28-ounce can of diced tomatoes, 4 cups of low-sodium chicken broth, 4 cups of low-sodium beef broth, 1 teaspoon dried thyme and 2/3 cup pearled barley. Cook for 6 to 7 hours on low or 4 to 5 hours on high, until the meat is tender. Stir in 1/4 cup chopped fresh parsley and salt and pepper to taste.