Childhood favorites

Every once in a while, I crave food from my childhood. It doesn’t happen terribly often, since I feel like my palate has really evolved since I was a kid. Although, I often wasn’t really interested in the types of things my mom prepared anyway. She always thought I was a picky eater, but we just didn’t have the same tastes. Truthfully, I am a bit of a picky eater–I don’t like fish or sausage–but I’m pretty easy to please with basic foods. She tended to cook casserole or skillet concoctions, often with a Mexican flavor. For instance, she’d start out by cooking chicken or ground beef, and then add a can of beans, a handful of frozen corn, a cup of salsa, cheese, and Doritos. I think she tried different recipes quite often, but they were really all the same with slight variations. This one called for chili powder and a chopped onion, that one didn’t have any beans, this one was assembled like a lasagna. They taste okay, but the idea of eating Doritos in my dinner just really gets under my skin. But, some of the things my mom used to make still resonate with me. I’m sure that, even though they are tasty, they seem even more delicious because they are so familiar. One of my favorites, the one I go to when I crave familiar comfort food from my childhood, is a simple skillet dish with chicken, carrots, and barley. I love the chewy, nuttiness of the barley, and the flavors are so simple but complement each other really well. My mom doesn’t make it anymore because, well, she can’t eat it–barley is not gluten free. I was just glad she still had the recipe even though she can’t make it. When I called her several months back to get it, it didn’t take too long for her to find the recipe. Her recipes, though all very similar, are organized, I have to give her that.

chicken barley skillet

Chicken Barley Skillet Meal

serves 4-5

2 tablespoons butter

1 large chicken breast, cubed

1 large onion, chopped

1 cup pearled barley

3 cups chicken broth (If using reduced sodium, consider adding salt to taste)

1 cup chopped carrots

pinch of pepper

melt the butter in a 12 inch skillet over medium heat. Saute the chicken, onions, and barley until the chicken is cooked. Add the broth and a pinch of pepper and cover. Cook for 25 minutes. Add the carrots and cook, covered, for an additional 20 minutes until the barley and carrots are tender.

Garnish with chopped green onions, if desired.

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