Dinner Recipes

Farro 3 Ways – Easy Weeknight Meals


As most of you can probably relate, my crazy schedule sends me looking for easy, healthy, weeknight meal ideas. I recently gave farro a couple makeovers so I could enjoy it three times in one week as simple, vegetarian entrées. I present: Farro 3 Ways – Easy Weeknight Meals.

Farro 3 Ways - Easy Weeknight Meals

Do any of these meals look intimidating? If you don’t cook often, they could. But trust me, they were so easy! If you can make rice pilaf, you can make the main farro dish that kicks off all of the other easy meals.

Farro 3 Ways - Easy Weeknight Meals

#1 – Black Eyed Peas with Farro

My easy eats began with a trip to the farmers market. I’d had a long day at work and had left a little late. I love going to the market after work because I find it a relaxing place where I can get delicious, local ingredients. The market is full of good energy, so I like to soak that up and start to un-wind after work sometimes. I picked up some radishes, sweet potatoes, kale, onions, and apples without knowing what I’d do with it.

By the time I was finally headed home, I didn’t want to stop at even one more place. I decided to make something for dinner out of the pantry and found some Trader Joe’s 10 minute farro and a can of black eyed peas. I did a play on my Rosemary Garlic Farro with Chickpeas recipe, except I didn’t even bother to chop up some garlic. The 10 minute farro helped speed up the total cooking time. I roasted the sweet potatoes, which didn’t take too long since I cut them pretty small. I kept the flavors simple and roasted the sweet potatoes with olive oil, salt, and pepper. I learned a tip from the vendor who sold me the radishes. She said I could sauté the radish bottoms and greens (adding these near the end of the cooking) with butter. She was right. It was good!

The whole meal was pretty straightforward in cooking methods and flavors, but I really enjoyed it. I also thought this was slightly easier for cooking for one, since hubby was having dinner out.

Farro 3 Ways - Easy Weeknight Meals

#2 – Sautéed Garlic-y Black Eyed Peas with Farro

I’m not a fan of microwaves, so I decided to sauté the leftover black eyed peas with farro from the night before with a little oil and garlic. I heated the oil in a pan and cooked the garlic till it was fragrant, just under a minute. I added a nice portion of the leftover farro and sautéed the whole thing till it was warmed through. I also roasted another sweet potato and steamed up some kale. We usually put butter and a sprinkle of salt over our steamed vegetables, but I like my kale drizzled with just a little soy sauce instead sometimes.

Farro 3 Ways - Easy Weeknight Meals

3 – Tofu Farro Stir-Fry

On the third day, I still had leftover farro, so I decided to change the flavor profile by making a quick stir-fry. I swung by the grocery store on the way home from teaching Zumba to get another time-saver item – cubed tofu. No pressing and cutting tofu for me! I started this dinner by sautéing the tofu in a pan with a little oil and soy sauce. I added the farro and cooked everything until the farro was heated through, adding a little more soy sauce, to taste. Meanwhile, I steamed up some cabbage and kale, which I served with a drizzle of soy sauce. This may have been my laziest preparation of the black eyed peas with farro, but I think it was my favorite.


Though I prefer eating different things every night, I appreciated how simple and healthy these weeknight meals were. They were a huge relief after a long day of work and teaching my Zumba class. And they were so good too!

Thanks for stopping by!

Vegetarian Barley Black Eyed Pea Soup Recipe


Go ahead and book this one for your post-Easter meal – a Vegetarian Barley Blacked Eyed Pea Soup recipe. After indulging in the traditions – ham, mac and cheese, mashed potatoes, and what not – you’re going to want something a little on the lighter side afterwards.

But this Vegetarian Barley Black Eyed Pea Soup recipe isn’t just great for a post-feast recovery meal. You can use it for a light entrée any time. In fact, I made a big batch of this one Sunday and saved off individual servings to store in the freezer for later. I’ve had them after post-work workouts and just-plain lazy days, and they’ve been a relief to have on hand. Served with saltines or (my preference) toasted whole grain bread with a light smear of butter, this is easy eats perfection.

Vegetarian Barley Black Eyed Pea Soup Recipe

If you’ve been reading The Chic Life for long, you know I’m a big fan of homemade soup.

Vegetarian Barley Black Eyed Pea Soup Recipe

There aren’t many things I think re-heat better, and I’m so over canned soup. I haven’t had any in years since the canned versions usually have so many extra, unnecessary ingredients and entirely too much salt. With each passing year, I’m turning more and more into that stubborn old woman who knows exactly what she wants and demands nothing less, and I’m okay with that.

Vegetarian Barley Black Eyed Pea Soup Recipe

Did I mention there’s kale in this Vegetarian Barley Black Eyed Pea Soup recipe? Yep. As you know, I’m a fan of this dark green superfood. And hey, it’s one of the most hipster foods, apparently.

Vegetarian Barley Black Eyed Pea Soup Recipe

Guess I’d better stock up on craft beer and PBR to make this a complete meal.

Vegetarian Barley Black Eyed Pea Soup Recipe

Vegetarian Barley Black Eyed Pea Soup Recipe
Prep time
Cook time
Total time
Vegetarian Barley Black Eyed Pea Soup Recipe makes for a great, light meal for lunch or dinner or even a nice, cozy snack. Enjoy with toasted whole grain bread or saltines.
*Vegetarian, vegan*
Serves: 8
  • 1 tablespoon extra virgin olive oil
  • 1 medium onion, chopped
  • 4 medium-large carrots, peeled and chopped
  • 2 32-ounce boxes broth of choice
  • 2 cans black eyed peas, rinsed and drained
  • 1 package (8.8 ounces) 10 minute barley from Trader Joe’s, rinsed (or sub any type of barley, but adjust cooking time, as needed)
  • 1 teaspoon dried sage
  • ½ teaspoon dried rosemary
  • ½ teaspoon dried thyme
  • ½ salt, plus more to taste
  • ¼ teaspoon fresh ground black pepper, plus more to taste
  • 6 sprays Bragg’s Amino Acids, optional
  • fresh parsley, chopped, optional
  1. Pre-heat oil in a large pot over medium heat.
  2. Add onions and carrots and cook until onions are translucent, about 5-6 minutes.
  3. Add broth, black eyed peas, barley, sage, rosemary, thyme, salt, and pepper. Bring to a boil, reduce heat to simmer and cook until barley is done, 12-15 minutes (or until cooked according to package directions if you’re using another type of barley). Add more water if you want the soup more brothy.
  4. If using, spray in Bragg’s Amino Acids. Taste test and season with additional salt and/or pepper (or Bragg’s), as needed.
  5. Serve. Garnish with fresh parsley, if using, and enjoy.
Note: I used 10 minute barley from Trader Joe’s, which I recently discovered. This saves a lot of cooking time since most barley cooks for more like 45-50 minutes, but you can use any type of barley you wish. Just be sure to cook the soup long enough so the barley is the texture you want.

Note: If you store the leftovers for later, you may notice the barley soaks up more of the liquid. When you go to re-heat it, you may wish to add some more broth or water to make it more liquidy.

Ingredient Note: I really like the canned black eyed peas from Eden Organic. Not only are the beans organic, the can is BPA free. The ingredients are simply organic black eyed peas, water, and kombu seaweed. Eden Organic uses the kombu instead of salt when cooking their beans since it offers many benefits, including adding flavor and working as a tenderizer for dried beans.



Happy cooking!

Jang Su Jang {Duluth, GA}


Sis and I are taking a weekend road trip to Atlanta, GA, and we found a great stop on the way in Duluth, GA. We were up for a food adventure and decided to try Jang Su Jang, a Korean BBQ restaurant.

Jang Su Jang - Duluth, GA

Neither of us have had Korean food before, but we’ve heard such good things. We were both very excited to try it out. I wasn’t sure if it would be an Americanized or traditional type of restaurant. Happily, it turned out to be the latter.



For drinks we were given the option of water or tea. Sis and I opted for the tea, which was delicious and served sans sugar. It reminded me a bit of how the tea is served straight up at dim sum restaurants, too.


We lucked out and had a very friendly waiter named Calvin who helped us make our dinner selections. We decided to start with some steamed dumplings (Mul Mandoo) and to try a combo with the tofu soup and bulgogi.


I let sis pick which soup to try, and she opted for the Beef Soon Tofu.


Very shortly after ordering, our table was quickly filled with an assortment of Korean side dishes. We weren’t sure what to do with them. Did we start eating them or wait for the rest of the food came out? Do you eat the side dishes straight up or mixed with stuff. Anyone know?



(Not sure what this one is – does anyone know?)





We even got two kinds of kim chi. Calvin also mentioned there’s another kind of kim chi made with (I think it was) beets or radishes that comes with the bossam.


The dumplings were a big hit with us. We’re big dumpling fans, in general, but these were really tasty, and we liked the dipping sauce, too.



{bulgogi – shredded beef BBQ}


The tofu soup was something the restaurant specializes in. It had pieces of soft tofu and beef. The funny part was the egg. I read online you’re supposed to crack the egg into the soup while it bubbles (it comes out boiling hot). So, once the soup came out, we cracked the egg into the soup, and I started stirring it around. This was before confirming this was correct with Calvin. He came out to check on us shortly after this, and I asked him, “So…I cracked the egg into the soup. Was that right?” He confirmed that was correct to our relief as Sis laughed at me.



And here’s dessert – a small, chilled yogurt drink.


Overall, we had a great experience trying Korean food for the first time. I can see why everyone loves it so much. The soup and dumplings were our stand out favorites, but we enjoyed everything quite a bit.

If you’re ever in the Atlanta area or just passing through, Jang Su Jang would be a great stop. It’s even close to the highway if you’re just looking for delicious food on your next road trip.

Insta-Chic {11/9/2013} – Bailey, Vegetables, and Nan and Byron’s


Hope everyone is having a great weekend so far! Just wanted to pop in with some recent Instagram photos and updates from me…


Bailey’s been a little sick, but he’s on new medicine and feeling much better. Woohoo!


I made a new Green Monster flavor the other day – a fall-themed flavor! Hope to share it soon!

Sorry for the delay in posting my last recipe for the cinnamon spelt doughnuts. I had it drafted up and ready to publish early last week, and then we lost our internet connection for two days. Bah! Not that anyone is waiting with bated breath for my next post, but I’ve been hoping to post more frequently, and my schedule has working against me on this, much to my frustration. But, hey, a girl’s gotta pay the bills, right?


I’ve been working on my vegetable consumption, and I’ve also tried to do better about supporting my local farmer’s market. Is it just me or does life seem to get in the way allowing convenience to take precedent? I’ve been doing pretty good about visiting the market at least once a week recently. I have a new vegetable addiction (if such a thing is even possible): vitamin greens! Have you heard of them? They are greens that are high in many vitamins and have a similar texture to bok choy. For my vegetable consumption, I’ve been focusing on eating more leafy greens, and these have been wonderful.


I’ve been getting one bunch per week from a local vendor at Atherton Mills Market in Southend, and I even brought home the last beautiful bunch they had today. I’m thinking they’ll make a pretty fantastic side with dinner tonight.


While I was at the market, I swung by Not Just Coffee. Their coffees are so delicious. I’ve really been enjoying their mocha. Yum!


Also near Atherton Mills Market is the Savory Spice Shop. I swung by there the other day to stock up on baking ingredients. I’m so ready for some holiday baking – cookies, cakes, pies. Yesss!


Anyone looking for a good way to re-heat roasted brussels sprouts? Put them in a sauté pan with a little oil. The taste and texture is so much better than what you’d get if you used a microwave.


For eats lately, here’s a lovely lunch from this past week by Roots Farm Food. I had a pulled pork sandwich with kale apple slaw on a warmed pita with a side of ginger carrot salad. It was delicious, locally-sourced, and so enjoyable to eat.


And I finally escaped my usual lunch-at-my-work-desk to have lunch with co-workers at Bentley’s. It was my first time eating there, and the view is so nice from that high. It was great getting away from the office, and the food did not disappoint. I had the grilled mahi mahi and nearly licked my plate clean I liked it so much.


And I rounded out my week of fantastic eats with a trip to Nan and Byron’s on their grand opening night with my Epic Eater friends. As a fan of 5 Church and chef Jamie, I had no doubt the meal would be spectacular. We started with the Train Wreck fries and Peppedew Poppers. I’m not normally a fan of pepper poppers, but I would absolutely order those again here. The fries were rich and perfect for the cold day. For my entree, I had the beet slider with mojito fries. The combination of ingredients on the burger was unique and a great mix of flavors and textures. The fries were just-right crispy and seasoned perfectly. I’m not sure if I’d order this again next time only because I had my eye on several other things on the menu that I can’t wait to try! But, it was really good, so I guess I’ll just have to see what mood I’m in when I’m back.

Thanks for stopping by!

Julia’s German Stammtisch {Columbia, SC}


I have a problem when I go on road trips. Although I don’t mind eating at chain restaurants, I’d much rather support a small, locally owned restaurant instead. One day, there will be a web site and phone app you can use to find this information…and I’m going to build it. Well, at least the web site part. More on this another time, but I’ve already started researching…

This past weekend, we went out of town for a short excursion. Since I was the passenger, I decided to use some of the downtime in the car to find a local spot on the road trip.


I found Julia’s German Stammtisch in Columbia, SC, and it was only one mile from the highway (77).


Located in a small shopping center, we actually passed this place originally and had to turn around to get to it.


One of the best things was that they let us bring Bailey to hang out on the porch. Everyone was very welcoming to us and Bailey – they showed him lots of attention!


I haven’t eaten a lot of German food before, so we requested suggestions. One of the first ones was the Jagerschnitzel – (from the menu) – “Our traditional pork schnitzel lightly breaded and topped with a rich mushroom gravy.” I read online that the portions were big, plus hubby wasn’t that hungry, so we got a couple salads and split this dish. We wanted to try the soup, but those are colder-weather items for the restaurant, so they’ll start offering them in a couple weeks.


A salad was included with the entrée, and we added an extra small salad. The plate was full of pickled deliciousness – beets, green beans with onions, cabbage, and some fresh tomato and lettuce. I’ve been really into pickled foods lately, so I really enjoyed this. I liked how there was a nice mix of different types of salads in the single plate.


We also ordered an extra roll and butter.


And the entrée didn’t disappoint. There was more than enough food for hubby and I to share (pictured above is the full dish pre-splitting). We opted for the spatzel, which is like German pasta, for the side. It sort of reminded me of small pieces of gnocchi in the texture because it was so soft. Everything was delicious, but that pork was killer! The pork was pounded very thin and then breaded. The breading was so nice and crispy…like super-duper crispy. I loved the ratio of breading and crispiness to pork. The mushroom gravy added great flavor and was even poured over the spatzel. There weren’t a whole lot of mushrooms in the gravy, but that was fine by me because I enjoy the flavor of mushrooms much more than the mushrooms, themselves. This isn’t your lightest dish, but it is tasty and worth trying.


I read online that dessert at Julia’s is a must, so we got a slice of tangerine cake “to go.” What a joke that was to order it “to go” because we ended up eating it right on the table. Yum!

Not only was the food wonderful, but the service was great, too. A couple members of the staff stopped by to chat with us, and we even got to meet Julia herself! It was so nice chatting with the person whose creations we’d been enjoying all night. Try finding that at a chain!

TIP: Bring cash – they don’t take checks or credit cards.

Check Julia’s out online: http://julias.vpweb.com


Next time on TCL – photos from Kiawah Island!

Charlotte Food Blogger Tasting at Red Ginger


You know those restaurants where they create giant fireballs on the flattop grills right in front of you? Where they make onion volcanos and throw shrimp into the mouths of the strangers dining with you? I love those places. Hibachi restaurants were a treat for us when I was growing up, and they’ll always have a special place in my heart. So, I was very excited to hear that a new sushi and hibachi restaurant opened up in town.


I was even more happy when Red Ginger offered to do a blogger tasting event for some of us local food bloggers.


Red Ginger is located uptown (aka downtown) in Charlotte, NC next to The Green. Since the weather was so pretty, I decided to snap a few shots in The Green before heading over. It’s so nice to have this colorful, little spot in the middle of the gray and silver of the corporate buildings towering above.





Red Ginger offered up a variety of their best dishes for us to sample.


I loved their calamari – firm bites with a crispy-crunchy outside. It’s silly, I guess, but I liked how the calamari were shaped in rings. I don’t normally order calamari at restaurants, but I’d be willing to share a plate of these with hubby, who really enjoys them.


The Crispy Duck Roll was probably my least favorite of the night, mostly because I’m just not a duck fan. There were slivers of duck on the inside, a soft wrapper on the outside, and a dollop of a sweet brown sauce on top. I thought the outside would be a little more crisp because of the name, but the dish was still a winner with the other food bloggers in attendance.


In contrast, I love shrimp. Besides chicken and steak, it’s one of my favorite non-veg proteins, and it’s definitely my favorite seafood. These Rock Shrimp were crunchy on the outside and tossed in some sort of sweet, almost creamy sauce. I must admit, I’m not sure I would have ever ordered this before since I usually stick to my favorites, but now that I’ve sampled it, I absolutely would. This was actually probably my favorite appetizer of the night.


Food blogger in action!


Here’s the tempura appetizer – a mix of shrimp and vegetables. I sampled the onion, which was great – nice and classic tempura.


Pictured above is the coconut shrimp. These guys looked delicious, but I didn’t sample this one this time around. Coconut shrimp is something I’d normally order off of almost any menu, so I’ll just have to get one next time.


With that, we moved on to the sushi! This is the sashimi bowl. Isn’t it beautiful? The presentation at Red Ginger is gorgeous on all plates, but this one stole the show. I’ve never seen sashimi presented like this before.


Next, the sushi rolls showed up. Here’s the Leap Roll: Spicy salmon, white tuna, yellow tail, crunchy masago (salmon egg), special sauce. Yum!


This is why a food blogger should always take multiple photos of a plate. I goofed and took only one, and of course, it was blurry. Oops! I wanted to share the photo anyways because this was my favorite of the sushi rolls – Cherry blossom: Soy paper (pink), Spicy tuna, Avocado, Shrimp tempura. I look forward to ordering this one again in the future! This roll tasted as good as it looked, and I liked the playful presentation.


The last roll was closest to the type of sushi roll I’d normally order, so I definitely enjoyed this one – Pink Floyd: Spicy crab, Shrimp tempura, Soy paper, Avocado on top, Crunchy masago, Tobiko (fish egg).


And we got to enjoy one last appetizer sample – a classic for me – potstickers! Always a favorite in my family.


I was impressed to learn they make their ginger dressing in house. I love this stuff!


And another favorite of mine was offered for dessert – mochi! Love love love this stuff, and we got to sample three flavors. I went for the red bean (bottom right of the above photo).


{Fabulous food bloggers and our new friend, Don}

Overall, I had a great experience at the tasting event and had a blast meeting some new, local food bloggers. I was impressed by the quality of Red Ginger’s food and attention to detail. They do have hibachi options that you can order from regular tables or the classic flat top, family-style tables at both lunch and dinner. If you want to go on a romantic date or girls’ night out, you could have a great night uptown, starting with dinner at Red Ginger. They even do free valet after 6pm (according to their web site). And here’s some more info…

Weekly specials:








Thank you Mary for coordinating this fun and tasty event, and thank you Red Ginger for having us!


Disclaimer: Yes, the food and drinks were provided for the sampling event free of charge, but they also told us bloggers to be honest in our post, which I was going to be already. ;) The thoughts and opinions expressed in this post are my own.

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