Harvest Crockpot Beef & Barley Stew

Harvest Crockpot Beef & Barley Stew- let the crockpot do the work for you!

This is me blindly closing my Southern Californian eyes and embracing “fall” vicariously through food. Never mind that 80 degree weather outside. Never mind that I’m looking at thriving tropical flowers as I write this. Never mind that turning on my oven makes kitchen into a sauna.

I close my eyes, take a bite, and all the coziness of the holiday season sinks in. It’s savory and comforting and perfect for chilly (or not so chilly…) nights.

Christmas, is that you?!

Harvest Crockpot Beef & Barley Stew- let the crockpot do the work for you!

One of my favorite things about this recipe is that you essentially just throw your ingredients into a crockpot, turn it on, and let it do all the work for you. It slow cooks the meat so it falls apart in your mouth and all the flavors cook together. You can set your timer to cook things on high for 5-6 hours or on low for 9 hours, then break open your pot, stir in the barley and corn to cook for about 20 minutes, then ladle yourself a big steamy bowl. It’s heaven and so easy!

One batch serves about 6-8 BIG bowls, so you’ll probably have leftovers for a few days! Huzzah!

Harvest Crockpot Beef & Barley Stew- let the crockpot do the work for you!

Harvest Crockpot Beef & Barley Stew
 
Author:
Serves: 8 large bowls
Ingredients
  • 3 lb beef roast, cubed
  • 1 onion, chopped
  • 3 carrots chopped
  • 1 cup chopped celery
  • 1 potato, cubed
  • 1 28oz can chopped tomatoes
  • 1 tbsp sugar
  • 5 cups water
  • 4 beef bouillon cubes
  • 1 bay leaf
  • 1 tsp garlic powder
  • ½ cup dried barley
  • 1 can sweet corn
Instructions
  1. Add all the ingredients except for the dried barley and sweet corn. Season with salt and pepper. Stir together and cook for 6 hours on high or 9 hours on low.
  2. In the last 20 minutes, add in the barley and corn. Continue to cook until barley is done. Season with salt and pepper to taste and enjoy!

 

October Favorites

I know, I know. A monthly “favorites” recap should be posted on the first of the next month, but ya girl doesn’t have it all together when it comes to blogging lately ;) . I haven’t made a habit of writing a post summarizing my favorites from each previous month, but want to start since it seems like a great way to collect my thoughts together in one coherent (if not all over the place) post.

Here are some things I loved in October!

Halloween Costume Planning

For the past 4 years, Kyle and I have been pretty bad when it comes to our costume game. Our first two years at UCSB, Halloween was crazy. The streets were packed with out-of-towners who heard about how huge halloween was at our school, we had riots, police on horseback, and tear gas sprayed. Yikes yikes yikes. The school cracked down on everything and did an impressive job in calming things down and creating an anti-outsiders environment. The madness + having heavy course loads and not having much time to figure out costumes left Kyle and I either not dressing up, or putting on a flannel and cowboy hat and calling it a day. This year, I had more free time to plan and put more effort into making/planning or costumes.

We dressed up as a fireman + dalmatian :).

Dalmatian Fireman Halloween Costume Dalmatian Fireman Halloween Costume

Along with our costumes, I stumbled upon a little ghost headband at the store, took one look at their go-lucky, blindly happy expressions and knew I had to get them for Tucker. While he wouldn’t stand them on his head, we tucked the headband on to his collar and he went the whole day not even noticing they were there. I LOVE THIS DOG.

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Let’s Catch Up

Why hello there! It’s been a while since we chatted more about my life rather than focusing on food. While I’m all about keepin’ my food game strong, I honestly miss checking in with you guys about what’s happening behind the scenes. As some of you might know, these last few months have been a crazy transition period. I graduated college and, for the first time since I was 5, I’m no longer in the education system. Even typing that out sounds crazy. A whole big era. Done. Just like that.

One of the biggest reasons for my personal-blogging hiatus has just been due to being busy. The summer through October is wedding season and finding a balance between blogging and my “official” job has been tricky. I’ve been blogging for much longer than I’ve been doing professional photography for and, to be honest, the novelty of blogging wears off after a while. I didn’t want blogging to become something that felt like purely a job, so I knew I had to step away from it. As soon as I start to push myself to pump out content left and right when I’m already worn down and tired, it’s no longer fun. But with October winding down and with a relatively calm November, I’m ready to come back with full force.

In the meantime, here are a few general life updates!

I’m working full-time now as a photographer + blogger and am seriously loving every single minute.

Life is so good right now and I can’t remember ever being this happy and certain about where I am. School was an anxious time for me (as it is with a ton of people). There’s endless amounts of room for self-doubt about the future. I used to worry –and still do on occasion– that I would look back when I’m older and feel like I squandered my youth. I was so afraid that I would be unhappy with my career choices and that I would have all this regret about wasted time. Wedding photography has me constantly exploring new places, meeting the best new people, and expanding my creativity while learning more about myself every step of the way. It’s exhausting and exhilarating and I’m having the time of my life. I love love love my job and being my own boss and just being so dang passionate about what I’m doing. I feel content and more confident in myself than I ever have before. I’m right where I want to be and that’s pretty cool :).

I moved from Santa Barbara back to my hometown and am kicking it with the parents for the time being. 

To follow that big paragraph above, there are plenty of negatives that come with having graduated. I miss my friends. I miss being able to wake up, climb down from my loft bed, and see all the girls I lived with. I miss walking outside and instantly being greeted by a social environment. It gets lonely and there’s a certain culture shock that comes with leaving all of that college goodness behind. While I still think I’m adjusting well, being back home couldn’t be more of a flip flop. It’s hard to go back to having to share space with my parents and sister as a young adult. I feel like college gives you a taste of freedom and that suddenly, you move back home and things feel cramped and you crave having more of your own space. You feel like you’re more of a visitor and it can be tricky adjusting back to being surrounded by family 24/7, especially when you work from home for most days of the week. One thing that I’ve been struggling with is being able to spend time with Kyle. He’s been working long hours and it’s been hard having to coordinate whose house we meet up with, what times work for both our schedules, and to only really see him for a few hours. Since I’m working most weekends with shoots and he works on the weekdays, coordinating becomes tiring and I can’t help but think that living together would simplify things to a big extent. Kyle and I have started to planning process for getting our own place and I’m excited to start a new chapter of our lives together. That all being said, I appreciate my parents letting me stay at home while we figure out our lives ;). Thanks, mom and dad!

Kyle got hired by his dream job!

After a pretty rigorous internship, Kyle is now a full-time SpaceX employe and working man!

We went on a job honeymoon trip to San Diego

His managers told him that he should take some time off while the paperwork got processed, so Kyle and I went on an impromptu mini-trip to San Diego to make use of his free time. We did the normal tourist things like visiting the zoo, wandering around Balboa Park, checking out the natural science museum, eating good food, and getting massages. It was great!

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Harvest Cheese Board

Harvest Cheese Board

And just like that, we’re halfway through October! It’s crazy how fast the months pass once you get older. It feels like just a month ago when I was graduating from college and embracing adulthood (kinda) with open arms. Then I closed my eyes and opened them to find that warm summer months have come to a close and the fall atmosphere is back in swing!

And you know what that means! COMFORT FOOD! Like this here b-e-a-utiful cheeseboard. It’s the best of both worlds because you get plenty of Castello cheesy goodness packed with extra goodies and spreads like a homemade fig jam, assorted crackers, apples drizzled with honey and pecans, and whatever else makes your tastebuds dance AS WELL as being able to taste a little bit of everything while still keeping dinner light. It’s perfect for people who aren’t ready to dive in to heavy comfort foods but also want all the flavors of fall. I’m the kind of eater that likes to try a little bit of everything (Kyle and I purposefully order different things at restaurants so we can swap midway through eating haha), so upping my cheeseboard game not only makes me feel extra fancy, but satisfies my cravings!

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The main player of my cheeseboard is Castello Cheese! I chose to feature a tangy blue cheese as well as a creamy Havarti for that perfect sweet and salty floor combination. The blue cheese worked perfectly with Lesley Stowe Raincoast crisp crackers and veggie flats and the Havarti was perfect with tart apple slices with honey and dried pecans and raisins. Top everything off with a glass or two of Folie a Deux wine and you have me sold for the perfect dinner!

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Want more great ideas for your cheeseboard? Check out the video below and follow this link to find the written recipe!

This post is sponsored by Honest Cooking. All opinions are my own.

Skinny Vanilla Pumpkin Muffins

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Hands up if you’re all about that pumpkin life!

I’m guessing if you’re reading this blog post, you’re revving up for #allthepumpkin and are looking to add a few new recipes to your collection. And if you are also trying to keep things on the still-delicious-but-lightened-up side, these Skinny Vanilla Pumpkin Muffins are for you!

I’m the kind of person who really can’t be talked to early in the morning before my cup of coffee. Seriously, if you try to engage me in any sort of conversation, all you’re going to get from me is a very unladylike grunt and maybe a little mumbling. It takes a homemade latte with an extra shot of espresso and a half hour of waking up before I’m ready to take on a conversation. Lately, I’ve been getting more into the cozy weather spirit by dressing up my normally plain morning cup of coffee with a little extra flavor by ways of International Delight’s Simply Pure creamers. Made with just FIVE simple ingredients, I can help make my morning cup taste amazing while still supporting the healthy lifestyle I work to lead!

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After a few mornings of vanilla lattes, I knew I wanted to spend some quality time in the kitchen and decided to bake up some muffins. I grabbed a can of pureed pumpkin from the cupboard and whipped together a healthier batch of muffins. While they are delicious on their own, the perfect final touch to bring them to the next level involved a 2-ingredient vanilla glaze made with a little powdered sugar and vanilla Simply Pure! A small drizzle later and I was in H-E-A-V-E-N!

My house smells like fall and I couldn’t be more happy about it.

Want to try International Delight’s Simply Pure? Download Cartwheel and get the 20% off Cartwheel offer on the creamers from 9/25/2016 – 10/22/2016. Find Simply Pure at your local Target!

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This is a sponsored conversation written by me on behalf of WhiteWave Foods. The opinions and text are all mine.

Skinny Vanilla Pumpkin Muffins
 
Author:
Serves: 15 muffins
Ingredients
  • 1 15 oz can pureed pumpkin
  • 1 egg
  • 1 egg white
  • ¼ cup maple syrup
  • ½ cup sugar
  • ¼ cup milk
  • 2 tbsp olive oil
  • 1 tbsp vanilla extract
  • 1 cup white flour
  • 1 cup whole wheat flour
  • 2 tsp baking powder
  • ¼ tsp baking soda
  • ½ tsp salt
Instructions
  1. Preheat oven to 350.
  2. Whisk together the pumpkin, egg, egg white, maple syrup, sugar, milk, olive oil, and vanilla extract.
  3. In a separate bowl, sift together white flour, whole wheat flour, baking powder, baking soda, and salt. Combine the wet and dry ingredients together.
  4. Grease a muffin tin and add batter about ¾ of the way full to each one. Bake for 20-25 minutes or until a toothpick inserted comes out clean. Let cool.
  5. While the muffins are cooling, whisk together 1 tbsp of International Delight's Simply Pure Vanilla Coffee Creamer and ½ cup of powdered sugar. Drizzle the glaze on to the muffins and enjoy!