A & S Test Kitchen: Beef Barley Soup

Nothing warms us up like a hardy soup in the fall. Beef Barley Soup is a family favorite. Here is my recipe. 

Beef Barley Soup

1- lbs sirloin tip steak

1 4.6 jar of sliced mushrooms

1/3 yellow onion, diced

2 glove garlic

1 1/2 celery stalk, diced

1 cup diced canned tomatoes

1 cup of water

1 cup frozen peas

1 cup frozen carrots

1/2 cup barley, pearled, raw

6 oz. of merlot wine

2 tbsp. thyme

Salt and pepper to taste

Parmesan cheese for garnish

Put sirloin steak, diced canned tomatoes and water in dutch oven on low. In a skillet saute put in enough olive oil to caramelize the onion then add garlic and mushrooms. Add in salt and pepper to taste and 2 tbsp. thyme. Add to dutch over and continue to cook for 40 minutes. 

Then add merlot and barley for another 40 minutes. After this time add peas and carrots until warmed through. Serve with parmesan cheese sprinkled on top. Can be served with a nice crusty bread like Ciabatta. 

Barley Soup - Nutrition

A & S Test Kitchen: Pulled Pork Tacos

IMG_0624August is a time I do not want to cook so this easy slow cooker meal is just right for me. Hope you try this perfect summer recipe. It is perfect for a summer meal. Low effort to make with high yield in enjoyment.

Pulled Pork Tacos

1 (3 lbs) boneless pork loin. (a butt roast works too and cost much less)

¼ c. of lime juice

1-2 glove minced garlic or to taste

½ tsp. salt (or to taste)

1-2 tsp. Cumin

1 cup fresh chopped cilantro

To make sauce put in a bowl and mix together lime juice, garlic, salt, cumin and chopped cilantro.

Coat interior of slow cooker with cooking spray. No need to add extra liquid it will make enough with the lime juice. Place pork in slow cooker and pour sauce over the top.

Cover. Cook on low for 6 hours or when instant-read meat thermometer inserted into pork reads 145F-150F. Shred and serve with guacamole, salsa, corn, black beans and shredded cheese on corn or flour tortillas. Or both!

Homemade Guacamole

1 large Haas avocado, halved, seeded and peeled

2 teaspoon lime juice

1/4 teaspoon salt

1 teaspoon cumin

½ teaspoon extra hot cayenne

½ medium onion, diced

½ jalapeno pepper, seeded and minced

1 Roma tomatoes, seeded and diced

3 tablespoon cilantro chopped

Mix well and refrigerate. Top homemade tacos with this guacamole and homemade salsa. Yum!

A & S Test Kitchen: Lemon Meringue Pie

First time I have ever made one in six decades! So simple I wonder, “what was I thinking!” Enjoy!

Lemon Meringue Pie

Lemon Meringue Pie



1 cup white sugar

2 tablespoon flour

3 tablespoons cornstarch

¼ teaspoon salt

1 ½ cups water

2 lemons, juiced and zested

2 tablespoons butter

4 egg yolks, beaten

1 (9 inch) pie crust (baked)

4 eggs whites

6 tablespoons white sugar



  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
  2. To make lemon filling: In a medium saucepan, whisk together 1 cup of sugar, flour, cornstarch, and salt. Stir in water, lemon juice and lemon zest. Cook over medium-high heat, stirring frequently, until mixture comes to boil. Stir in butter. Place egg yolks in a small bowl and gradually whisk in ½ cup of hot sugar mixture. Whisk egg yolk mixture back into remaining sugar mixture. Bring to a boil and continue to cook while stirring constantly until thick. Remove from heat. Pour filling into baked pastry shell.
  3. To make meringue: in a large glass or metal bowl, whip egg whites until foamy. Add sugar gradually, and continue to whip until stiff peaks form. Spread meringue over pie, sealing edges of crust.

A & S Test Kitchen: Parmesan – Crusted Pork Chops


This dinner was easy to do. Just what I needed after working in the garden today.


2 large eggs

1 cup dried Italian-style bread crumbs

¾ c grated parmesan

4 (½ to ¾ inch thick) center-cut pork loin chops

Salt and pepper to taste

6 tablespoon olive oil


Whisk eggs in one bowl. Second bowl mix dried Italian-style bread crumbs, parmesan, salt and pepper

Dredge pork chops in eggs. Then coat pork chops with the dry mixture, patting it to adhere.

Heat olive oil in very large skillet over medium heat. Cook until golden brown and the center reaches

150 degrees. The outside should be crispy golden brown.

Served with baked potato with sour cream and artichokes. Enjoy!

A Place Where “Everybody Is Somebody”

Let’s go to Luckenbach, Texas
With Waylon and Willie and the boys
This successful life we’re livin’
Got us feuding like the Hatfields and McCoys
Between Hank Williams’ pain songs and
Newberry’s train songs and Blue Eyes Cryin’ in the Rain
Out in Luckenbach, Texas ain’t nobody feelin’ no pain

Just outside of Austin Texas in the west hill country is the famous spot that songwriters have sung about. This tiny hill hamlet began its humble beginning in 1849 as a Trading Post for both pioneer farmers and Comanche Indians alike. There was where a small community of German immigrants thought of setting up a community. With the unifying of the Engel and Luckenbach families began the dreams of some.

Today it is known for being a spot about thirty minutes southwest of Austin Texas that has monthly dances at their legendary Dance Hall. Where you can get a cold beer and listen to good ole music. Luckenbach hosts wedding, reception, birthday and corporate parties. And for some of us it is just a tourist attraction. When I first moved back to Texas I started looking at places I had never been to in the Hill Country. That is when I realized I had never been to Luckenbach. The Trading Post is now a bar and little store.

U.S. Post Office (Trading Post)

U.S. Post Office (Trading Post)

And so with my tall guy and the dog called Lizzie it was a day to head out there to get a feel of the lay of the land. From Austin you passed through famous Stonewall where President Lyndon B Johnson Ranch is onto a spot on the side of the road. In southeastern Gillespie County you see a sign for Luckenbach. If you are not familiar with it, as I was not, be sure to keep your eyes open because it quite literally is just a spot on the side of the road you can miss.

Dance Hall

Dance Hall

There on the side of the road is the Dance Hall, the U.S. Post Office, which, was once the Trading Post. Some tables under the trees and a huge parking that will be home to many vehicles as folks pour in to have a cold beer, dance and listen to good music. There is a small RV concern as well.

We wandered about, took some pictures and my tall guy drank a soothing cold Lone Star beer. Lizzie the dog being the active dog she is wanted to check it out until we came across a large black chicken who was defending its home territory. As good guests we recognized the need to back away and respect its humble home.

Engel Luckenbach Family tombstones

Engel Luckenbach Family tombstones

Looking around at the Live Oaks and the tombstones of the Luckenbach family at the far endI see the buildings. I can almost hear horses coming pulling wagons, the jingle of the reins as they move. Over on the porch I imagine seeing pioneers and Comanche Indians mixing together while everyone gets their supplies before heading out their separate ways. Truly where “everybody is somebody”.



Road Trip Into South Central Texas

Along the roadside as we leave San Antonio Texas the houses begin to dwindle away. Slowly we move from small town to small town. Readily it becomes apparent that this land that once inhabited a large group of Apache Native American peoples has changed into another life. You can almost feel their ancestors looking up from cooking or other work as we drive by. Off in the desert there on a hill can be imagined a few men watching over their land. Their family, and their way of life.

Back to the present I register oil rigs on the sides of the highway. Each mile brings more oil rigs, more oil industry until here in south central Texas is a whole new community. Small motels, RV parks and other amenities that the oil workers will be able to use. Here they will stay, some maybe separated from family for long periods to work to bring America oil. DSC_0026

As I looked at pumps moving slowly up and down my “big guy” jars me back to notice the small squadron of javelina ranging from 40 to 80 lbs. Thankfully we are happy to be in our vehicle as these poor sighted creatures that are also known as “musk hog” have a strong scent that helps them mark their territory upward to a few hundred acres.

Family of javelina

Family of javelina

Both the oils rigs and the javelina remind me that we are in a part of Texas that takes strong people and animals to endure.

After about an hour or so we move on to another pleasant experience. On to Choke Canyon State Park. While the water is low this time of year the “beware of alligators” sign reminds us that this land locked lake has many natural things to experience.

After wandering through the park my tall guy, the dog called Lizzie and I pull over to get a Google map set up to get us home. Just then we notice a lovely red and black bird we have never seen in Texas.

A Vermillion Flycatcher is sitting in the tree next to us, moving back and forth to show off its red under belly. And as my tall guy tried to get a photo shot this beautiful bird flew toward my open window as if to say, “here I am see how pretty I am”. What a fitting end to a perfect day trip. DSC_0059

We turn to head north toward San Antonio. Soon the skyline comes into few. A beautiful place to be sure. It is a reminder of the many faces of Texas.