Make Dinner Happen Friday #2: Slow Cooker Edition PLUS Lentil Barley Stew Recipe

Make Dinner Happen Friday #2 Make Dinner Happen Friday is a new series where I will share with you what I am planning on cooking next week.  So come and join me in making dinner happen!
This week, I wanted to start incorporating more slow cooker (aka crockpot) recipes into our meal plan.  As I mentioned earlier, we started homeschooling a few weeks ago, but we haven’t gotten into a good groove yet.  I thought slow cooker meals might be the ticket to getting it all together.

Recap from Last Week

Last week did not go according to plan at all!  I got to the farmer’s market late, so there was no lettuce or figs to be found!  So, I pulled out some frozen green beans to replace the salad and decided to pair with the Camembert Macaroni and Cheese with hamburgers as a side dish (also, we haven’t had this yet – see the menu for Saturday J).
The Black Bean Jalapeno Griddle Cakes were…interesting.  My 2 year old loved them, but they were just so odd that we probably won’t have them again soon (and when we do, we will try one of the other flavor combinations).
The Garlic Parmesan Cheese Scalloped Potatoes were very good (the best recipe of its type that I have found), as was the Cinnamon Apple Baked French Toast (bonus: it made way more than I thought it would but also made fabulous leftovers) – I highly recommend both.
The Buffalo Tacos were really good, but I heavily modified the recipe – let me know if anyone wants it posted!  I never actually made the corn casserole.  I don’t even want to talk about the Pad Thai…  Now on to next week!


Dinner at Church
We went to a fundraiser dinner at church tonight – I got the night off!


Camembert Macaroni and Cheese and Hamburgers
I have this macaroni and cheese on the menu again this week (it got shifted there from last week), pairing it with hamburgers this time.


Brunch: Sausage and Egg Casserole and Pumpkin Chocolate Chip Muffins
Both of these are family favorites, based off of recipes found in The Betty Crocker Cookbook.
Dinner: Leftovers
That’s right, I plan leftovers right into my meal plan.  We have some of the Buffalo Tacos, and we will almost certainly have leftovers from the other meals as well.


Lentil Barley Soup with Rolls
Slow cooker vegetarian soup with rolls from Artisan Bread in 5 Minutes a Day.  I have no idea where this soup originally came from, but I am including our recipe below for you to enjoy!


Slow Cooker Lasagna with Salad
I don’t usually like lasagna because I think that people put too many onions in it, but I am going to give it a try with my homemade spaghetti sauce.  I also have never made pasta of any kind in the slow cooker, so this should be interesting!  I am basing it off of this recipe from Betty Crocker and making my own ricotta (We did this once before – it is super easy and tastes AMAZING.  It does take a bit of time, though, so I will do it the night before).


Pork Roast with Slow Cooker Rice and Carrots
Did you know that you can cook brown rice in a slow cooker right along with a roast and vegetables?!  I am going to get some kind of pork to roast at the farmer’s market tomorrow (and will lightly season it), then cook it in the slow cooker on top of carrots and rice (using a recipe from an old church ladies cookbook).


Muthokoi (Akamba Corn and Beans) and Chapati
When I was in college, I studied abroad in Kenya for a semester and stayed for a few weeks with a Kamba family.  While I was there, I had this wonderful dish – my favorite of the whole time I was there (except perhaps the samosas, yum!).  I have always wanted to try to recreate it, so I am giving it a go this week!  I am basing it off of this recipe and using hominy (the corn that you can find with the Mexican food in the grocery store), canned red beans, tomatoes, salt, and onion and cooking it in the slow cooker.  Wish me luck!  I am also making chapati (a kind of flat bread found in India and Kenya) – I made it once before and it turned out super delicious!
So there you have it – our meal plan for next week!  So I want to know – what is your favorite slow cooker meal?  Share it on Facebook or Twitter with #makedinnerhappen!

Lentil Barley Stew

Needs Fulfilled: Vegan/Vegetarian, Gluten Free (with variation), Slow Cooker, Freezer Cooking (with variation), Cook Once/Eat Twice
Serve With: Rolls or pretzels from Artisan Bread in 5 Minutes a Day
Prep: 30 minutes   Inactive Cook: 3-8 hours   Active Cook: 0 minutes
Time to Table: 0 minutes
Needed Equipment: Skillet, slow cooker (optional with variation)
Serves: 6


  • Cut vegetables according to directions (you can do this ahead of time and store in separate sealed containers in the refrigerator for up to 3 days; you can also complete step 1 the night before and store in a sealed container in the refrigerator to go straight into the slow cooker in the morning).


  • 2 Tbsp olive oil
  • 2 stalks celery, chopped
  • 1 carrot, peeled and chopped
  • 2 tsp minced garlic (about 2 cloves)
  • 4 cups water
  • ¾ cup lentils
  • ¾ cup barley
  • 32 oz diced tomatoes
  • 1 Tbsp dried minced onion
  • 1 tsp salt
  • ½ tsp rosemary
  • ¼ tsp pepper


  1. Heat the oil in the skillet over medium heat.Add the celery, carrot, and garlic and sauté for about 5 minutes until they start to soften.
  2. Add the celery mixture and all the remaining ingredients to the slow cooker.Cook on high for 3-4 hours or on low for 6-8 hours until the barley and lentils are cooked.


  • This makes great leftovers, so you can make extra and put some in the freezer for later
  • For freezer cooking, do step 1; combine all the ingredients (except the water) in a freezer bag and store.Thaw out the mixture and cook as usual.
  • You can cook this on the stove instead by adding an extra 2 cups of water (6 cups total); bring to a boil in a saucepan (instead of putting into the slow cooker), reduce heat, and simmer for 45-60 minutes until the barley and lentils are cooked.
  • For a gluten-free version, use brown rice instead of the barley

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