Tag Archives: Beans

Barley Chili


Now that the days have been cooler, I’ve been craving chili. But I wanted to try something different, so I played around with several recipes and came up with this unusual but delicious vegetarian version.  My inspiration was barley soup, so I thought, why not try barley in chili?  The result was both warming and tasty.  This chili is full of anti-oxidant rich, heart healthy vegetables, and is low in calories, so if you want a second serving, go for it!  

Diff:  Easy  Prep:  45 min  Cook:  25 min  Serves  8


¾ c. barley

2 cups boiling water

1 large green pepper, finely chopped

1 large onion, chopped

4 green onions, chopped

2  T. olive oil

1 can (16 oz) black beans, rinsed and drained

1 can (16 oz) Grilling beans – beans in seasoned tomato sauce

1 can (14.5 oz) diced tomatoes, undrained

1 can (15 oz) tomato sauce

1 can green chili peppers, mild

2 Thai hot red chili peppers, seeds removed, chopped

2 garlic cloves, minced

½ ground cumin

¾ c. shredded cheddar cheese (can use reduced fat)

*can add chopped roasted chicken (1-2 cups)



Place barley in a large bowl, pour in boiling water.  Cover and let stand for 30 minutes.  Drain water and squeeze dry.


In a large saucepan or stockpot, sauté green peppers and onion in oil until tender.


Stir in the drained barley.


Then stir in tomato juice, beans, tomatoes, tomato sauce, water, Thai hot red chili peppers, green chili peppers, garlic and cumin.  Bring to a boil.  Reduce heat; cover and simmer for 25 minutes. Sprinkle with cheese if desired.






Hope this warms you up on chilly days!

Until next week, wishing you all of God’s Blessings, good health and happy eating!

Smiles, Maria 

Coffee and Small Things: To Be Shared with Friends


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There are few things in life that have rival the pleasure of that first cup of coffee each morning. Each bleary a.m. I count on coffee to get me jump-started for another day of work. How I always savor that first, delicious sip!

There are several different stories about how coffee was discovered. One legend has it that the stimulating properties of the coffee bean were discovered when Kaldi, an Ethiopian shepherd boy, noticed how frisky his sheep were after they ate the beans. 

Another story claims it was a man named Sheik Omar, who healed the sick through prayer. Exiled from his hometown of Mocha, he wandered the desert searching for food. All he could find were coffee berries, which proved too bitter so he roasted the seeds, then soaked them in boiling water, which created a dark liquid: coffee. The happy ending was that Omar was accepted back into the city for his discovery and made a saint.

It grew to be a very popular drink among the Muslim people. Merchants on the Silk Road travelled through the Middle East, were exposed to coffee and introduced this beverage to Europe. Traded through Venice, coffee became sought-after by the wealthy and educated. Slowly, a small coffeehouse culture emerged. Up to this point, Europeans drank tea, which was both cheaper and easier to produce. But it wasn’t until the American Revolution that coffee really came into its own.

DSC02620Okay, enough history already! Today I want to introduce you to a wonderful, home based coffee roasting business called Small Things that I discovered at the Rochester Hills Farmer’s Market this year. New to the Farmer’s Market, they offer bags of select fair trade, organic coffee beans for purchase at their booth each Saturday morning. I recently purchased a bag of their Sumatra French Roasted beans. They smelled so good, I could hardly wait to get home. When I did, I ground up a small amount and made one of the most delectable cups of coffee I’ve had in a long time!

DSC02621Small Things is a local, home-grown business based in Oakland Township, Michigan. Matt, the personable owner of the business, and his children staff the booth each Saturday morning and give each customer smiles and wonderful service. The full company name is Small Things: to be shared among friends.

Which is something coffee is famous for: to be shared. We go out for a cup of coffee with friends; we put on a pot of coffee when people come over. Friendship and coffee just naturally go hand in hand. We go to chain coffeehouses such as Starbucks, Caribou Coffee, the Coffee Beanery, and other independents in droves each day for a fresh cup of joe, or a fancy espresso based drink. And we love to brew our coffee at home too. Just check out the myriad of coffee makers available today; everything from french presses, drip coffee makers to Keurig’s single serving K-cups, and more.

So, next time you’re in the market for some fresh coffee, think local and think small; pick up a bag of delicious Small Things coffee at the Rochester Farmer’s Market! You’ll be helping the environment, micro business’s in other countries, a local small business, the local economy and yourself, all at the same time!  

Until next week, wishing you God’s blessings, Good Health, Good Eating and Happy Coffee Drinking!

Smiles, Maria

Easy Peasy Mile High Tortilla Pie


What to make for dinner? What to make for dinner?  What do I have in my pantry so I don’t have to run to the grocery store? This is often my litany when confronted with preparing yet another meal. For me, add “What do I make for the blog this week?” too.  Since my hubby and I are going on vacation in a few days, I’ve trying to use up everything in the refrigerator. Because I made wraps last week, I’ve been noodling around ways to use them up, and finally came up with the perfect recipe. This is also one of my favorite go-to recipes when I’m tired and want something easy.

I created this dish when I was a starving student in grad school; working three jobs and believing $5 was a fortune. Mexican food was  inexpensive, so I put together a combination of salsa, tortillas, ground beef (if I could afford it), cheese and beans. Layering them together made a tasy and impressive looking “pie” that lasted for days. I would often call it my “Humble Pie” because of my then more meager life circumstances.

Moms: This is a good, simple recipe to teach your kids before they go off to college; (so you’ll know they won’t go hungry). One of the beauties of this is you can make it either on the stove, in a frying pan or in the oven. 

The other neat thing about this is that you can mix it up; add or delete ingredients, or make an Italian version, substituting Italian cheeses, spicy sausage or pepperoni and tomato sauce instead of salsa.

Diff: Easy   Prep: 15 min   Cook: 30 min


1+ jar (16-20 oz.) medium salsa  

8 oz. sharp cheddar cheese (or cheese of your choice), grated

1 # ground beef, cooked and drained

1 can beans, drained (I like chili beans but any kind will do)

1 cup chopped onion

4-6 10 inch flour tortillas

1 T Extra Virgin Olive Oil (optional)



  • Preheat oven to 350 F or put frying pan on medium heat.

  • Cook ground beef, drain and set aside (reserve 2 T beef juice if desired).


  • Cook onion in either 1 T extra virgin olive oil or 2 T of the beef juice until soft.


  • Mix drained beef, onions and beans together in medium bowl.


  • Put a thin layer of salsa on botton of frying pan, pan or casserole dish.


  • Top with flour tortilla(s) until covered. (May need to tear tortillas in pieces to cover).  Put on another thin layer of salsa.


  • Top with beef, onion and bean mixture.


  • Layer with cheese (I love cheese so I use lots!).  Top with another tortilla. (Forgot to take pix of this, sorry!)

  • Continue in this manner until done or container is too full to hold anymore.  (If using frying pan, you might only get one or two layers.)

  • Top with cheese and put in oven for 30 minutes.  If using frying pan, keep on medium heat for 15-20 minutes.



Isn’t this just a gorgeous dish? I always want to dive in as soon as it comes out of the oven!


I hope you try and enjoy this week’s Humble-pie offering; perhaps it will become one of your go-to recipes too!

Wishing you all of God’s blessing, good health and happy eating!

Smiles, Maria