mI was hungry for something thick, meaty and hopefully not too unhealthy today. Beef and barley stew came to mind. I pretty much did this out of my head, so the measurements aren't quite exact. Feel free to change and adapt according to your taste and what you happen to have on hand. It turned out quite delicious and satisfied my craving.
2 pounds of lean beef, cubed (chuck is perfect, trim off as much fat as possible)
2 tbsp. oil
2 cups roughly chopped onion
1 cup chopped celery
2 cups chopped mushrooms
1 cup chopped carrots
1 cup quick cooking pearl barley
2 cans chicken broth (or wine or more water)
4 cups water
1 tsp. soy sauce
seasonings to taste (I used a dash of garlic powder, a dash of paprkia, a dash of red pepper and some Mrs. Dash)
Heat the oil in a dutch oven and when very hot, brown the beef in batches. Place in the beef in a slow cooker as it browns. When the last beef is browned, put the vegetables in the dutch oven and wilt, browning a bit if possible, then place in the slow cooker with the beef. Add the chicken broth, water, soy sauce and seasonings. Cook on high for 4-5 hours or until the meat is very very tender. Add the pearled barley and cook another 30 minutes or so, until the barley is tender and the stew thickened. If stew looks too thick, add more water or chicken broth. Enjoy with a good crusty bread.