“Autumn is a second spring when every leaf is a flower.” ~ Albert Camus

Greetings everyone! With temperatures dipping into the 30s and 40s at night in Northeastern Pennsylvania, one thing is abundantly clear: autumn is here. This means it is time for me to start cooking and blogging again.

I love autumn for so many reasons. Apple picking. Roasted Butternut Squash. Hooded Sweatshirts. Tailgating. Hot chocolates. Halloween Candy. Chili cook offs. Campfires. Pumpkin Soup. I can go on … but obviously, the majority of this list includes food. There’s no better way to transition into the colder weather than with a hearty, healthy bowl of soup (and a pair of Uggs!)

Here is a recipe for a beef barley soup I like to make. Barley is a whole grain that dates back to the Stone Age and is used in cereals, breads, soups and stews. This recipe calls for pearl barley, which is a grain that has had the bran removed and has been steamed and polished. It comes in three different sizes: coarse, medium and fine. You can buy it in bulk or in a box. I like to use the Quaker box of medium pearl barley.

Traditional beef barley soup is made with mushrooms. I didn’t have any and I like some spice, so I substituted a green pepper instead. I also didn’t have any beef stock on hand, so I used water and added boilloun cubes. You can play around with this recipe. Other than the chopping of the vegetables, it’s pretty easy and non-irritating to make. Hope you enjoy!

Fairytale Beef Barley Soup

Serves 6

1 lb grass feed stew beef
4 medium chopped carrots, diced
4 stalks celery, diced
1 green pepper, diced
1 white onion, diced
1/2 teaspoon chopped fresh rosemary
1/2 teaspoon chopped fresh thyme
1/2 teaspoon oregano
5-6 cloves of chopped garlic
6 cups water
3 beef bouillion cubes
1 cup strained tomatoes
1 cup of medium pearl barley
1/2 teaspoon salt
2 bay leaves

1) Spray a large Dutch oven with non-stick cooking spray. Add onion and beef. Cook for 10 minutes until browned.

2) Add carrots, celery, and green pepper. Season with herbs. Cook for 5 minutes. Add garlic and stir.

3) Add the remaining ingredients to the pot and bring to a boil. Cover and reduce heat. Simmer for an hour, until all the vegetables are tender and the barley is cooked. Discard the bay leaves.

Nutritional Information: 308 calories, 7 grams of fat, 36 g carbs, 7 g protein, 5 g sugar.


I also would like to note that one thing that will be missing this autumn is the Bloomsburg Fair, which I wrote about last year. For the first time in 157 years, the fair has been cancelled due to the devastating floods we’ve experienced here in Pennsylvania. My thoughts are with all those people who have been affected by the floods of 2011. My heart and prayers go out to you. I know the Bloomsburg Fair and Pennsylvania will be back bigger and better than ever. 🙂

As summer becomes a distant memory and the abundance of melons and summer squash come to an end, there is one salad and restaurant I am going to be dreaming about all winter. The watermelon and feta salad from the Pier House in Cape May, NJ. This restaurant claimed a spot in my heart as my favorite place at the Jersey Shore.

Pier House Watermelon and Feta Salad.
The watermelon and feta salad was by far the essence of summer. It combines all of the freshest flavors of season summer ingredients into one dish. This huge tower was like a dream of refreshing, watery goodness: watermelon, creamy feta, cherry tomatoes, grapes, cucumbers, arugula, walnuts and mint in a honey dressing. And if this tower is too much for you to handle and you want to share it, the restaurant will happily serve you a smaller portion.

Everything else at the Pier House was equally as good and it was an absolute pleasure to dine there. The service was, by far, the best I’ve experienced at the shore. The staff is patient, kind and attentive. The restaurant is even family friendly, with kids receiving perks such as fresh popped popcorn. 
The inside of the restaurant is clean and modern, but warm. The outdoor patio offers the perfect beachy atmosphere, with the ocean just a street away. They even have portable heaters and bug spray upon request, if needed!
Most importantly, the food at the Pier House was just out of this world and blew me away. The Pier House offers a lengthy menu of Mediterranean inspired dishes and reasonably priced in comparison to some other upscale restaurants in Cape May. Below are some photos from our visits to the Pier House
Pier House Bread Basket with house made Kalamata Olive Hummus.
Pier House Chicken Avgolemono Soup

Pier House Lumb Crab & Avocado Mangotini

Pier House grilled Octopus with lemon, oregano and olive oil.

Pier House Macho Tuna:
spicy seared tuna over a crisp wonton with wasabi crema, seasame vinaigrette, micro greens and tomato relish.
Mahi Mahi Plaki (greek soul food)
Lemon, xvoo oregano potatoes, 3 onion garlic tomato simmer, greek olives, baby arugula and a lemon.

Swordfish “Skaras”
Swordfish steak, lump crab meat, caper tomato avgolemono, asparagus and yukon gold mashed potatoes.

Sea Bass
Sea Bass steak with “diner” style stewed tomatoes, sauteed spinach, yukon gold crab mashed potatoes, sauce buerre blanc and a shrimp skewer crunch.

Slow Braised Lamb Shank “Kleftiko”
Four hour braise, mavrodaphne wine glaze, lemon xvoo oregano potatoes.

Chocolate Mousse Cake.
Key Lime Pie.
The Pier House is located on 1327 Beach Avenue in Cape May, NJ, at the La Mar Hotel. Breakfast, lunch and dinner are served and the restaurant is open year round.