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Crockpot Barley & Chickpea Risotto

The hubs and I met on a blind-date, set up at the last minute (5 minutes before closing time) by my co-worker (now FIL). It may sound cliche, but that one night was all it took for us to know it was love. We literally talked all night long that night, the first of many to come over the next few months, closing down a restaurant and then sitting in the parking lot until the wee horus of the morning. One of the first things we discussed was religion. It was important to both of us, and we discovered that while we were both Christians we represented very different denominations. The hubs is Catholic, and I’m southern Baptist. Our families’ were pretty skeptical, especially if we decided to have children. They said it couldn’t be done, but we managed to do it anyway.

Part of us making it work is understanding and supporting the others beliefs and practices, even if under other circumstance we wouldn’t share them. We’re in the season of Lent and my husband cannot eat meat on Fridays. Therefore, our family cannot eat meat on Fridays. While this may be an easy sacrifice, for the sons it’s still kinda scary. They imagine without meat that  they will waste away in the night.  Despite their worries, meatless meals don’t have to equate to rabbit food, as I’m determined to prove to them.  A good risotto can take your mind off of any problem. A secret for all my risotto-lovin’ freinds… risotto cooking methods will work on just about any grain. I’ll give you a minute to digest that information.

Whether you’re looking for meatless meal options, like us, for Lent, or you just want to change up your regular menu and experiment, or even if you’re vegetarian, packed with protein and quite satisfyingly filling, this meatless meal doesn’t disappoint.

Crockpot Barley & Chickpea Risotto

4 Son 'R' Us: Crockpot Barley Risotto

recipe adapted from Foxes Love Lemons

1-1/2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
3 carrots, peeled and chopped
garlic cloves, minced
1/2 head cauliflower, cut into small florets
1/2 small yellow onion, minced
1 tsp dried thyme
1-1/4 cups pearl barley, rinsed
1 can (15.5 ouncesgarbanzo beans, rinsed and drained
2-1/2 cups less-sodium chicken or vegetable broth
1-1/4 cups water
1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
1/4 teaspoon ground black pepper
1-1/2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
1/3 cup grated Parmesan cheese
3 tablespoons chopped fresh parsley, for garnish (optional)


1. Heat oil in large saucepan over medium-high heat. Add carrots, garlic, cauliflower and onion. Cook until vegetables being to soften, about 5 minutes, stirring occasionally.
2. Stir in thyme and barley; cook 2 minutes, stirring frequently.
3. Transfer mixture to slow-cooker bowl. Stir in garbanzo beans, broth, water, salt and pepper. Cook on high 2 to 2-1/2 hours or until barley is tender and most liquid is absorbed.
4. Stir in lemon juice. Serve in warm bowls garnished with cheese and parsley.


Cheesy Crockpot Risotto

A bowl of piping hot, creamy risotto is a heaping helping of comfort. It warms my soul. Sadly, for me, Risotto is known for taking a lot of time and attention to make. Both things I’m typically a little short on. When I found this recipe it was a game changer! Risotto… in my crockpot?! Where have you been all my life! I just about died and went to cheesy-risotto heaven. If you’re like me and craving a good homemade risotto, but that pesky thing called life keeps getting in the way, you’re going to love this.

Cheesy Crockpot Risotto

4 Sons 'R' Us: Easy, Cheesy Crockpot Risotto

recipe originally from Love From The Oven

1 1/4 cups Arborio Rice
1/4 cup olive oil
1/4 cup white whine
2 cups chicken broth
1 3/4 cups water
1 tsp minced garlic
1 to 1 1/2 cups shredded/grated cheese of your choice*, I used 1 cup cheddar and 1/2 colby jack


1. Pour olive oil into your slow cooker and turn it on high. Pour Simply Balanced Arborio Rice into slow cooker, and stir well to coat in olive oil. Allow to start cooking for a a few minutes while you gather up the remaining ingredients.
2. Pour white wine, chicken broth and water into slow cooker. Add in minced garlic and stir well. Let cook for 90 minutes.
3. At the 90 minute mark, open slow cooker, stir and see if any additional liquid is needed. If so, add a small amount of water (about 1/4 cup).
4. From this point forward, watch risotto closely, checking every ten minutes or so to see if it’s done. As soon as it is tender and soaked up most of the liquid, it is ready. Add cheese to slow cooker and stir gently to combine (putting the lid back on the slow cooker for a minute or two will help it melt if needed). Serve immediately.

*Feeding picky eaters? For kids replace the white wine with water, and stick with kid friendly cheeses like cheddar or even American. Mix and matches cheeses to fit your tastes. Also, full fat cheeses will melt and combine more easily than reduced fat varieties.

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