The mixes are simple to assemble, and very economical. And who doesn’t like being thrifty AND clever, especially during the holidays? Before we get on with it, I have a note about the chicken bouillion granules. You can leave that out and use the modified directions for making the final soup. I like to make it without, for a couple of reasons. First, your recipient might be a vegetarian, and secondly, it’s hard to find bouillion without MSG in it, and that gives me migraines. So I hesitate to include it, if it’s not MSG free.
Anyway, enough babbling. I put the seasoning in a snack size ziptop bag and put the 2 cups of lentils in a quart size freezer bag. Then the two fit perfectly in a takeout box container, or a cute lunch-size gift bag. You could even squeeze them into a pint size Mason jar. I’d probably cut the lentils to 1-3/4 cups, to make room for the seasoning.
LENTIL SOUP MIX
- 2 cups dried lentils
- 1 tablespoon chicken bouillon granules
- 1 tablespoon onion powder
- 1 teaspoon ground cumin
- 1 teaspoon celery salt
- 3/4 teaspoon salt
- 1/2 teaspoon garlic powder
- ½ teaspoon dried thyme leaves
- 1/2 teaspoon ground black pepper
- 1/4 teaspoon dried lemon peel
- 1 bay leaf
Place lentils in a resealable plastic bag.
In a small bowl, combine chicken bouillon, onion powder, cumin, celery salt, salt, garlic powder, thyme, pepper, lemon peel, and bay leaf. Transfer seasoning mixture to a small cellophane bag. Give with serving instructions. Yield: about 3 tablespoons seasoning mix
To serve: Rinse lentils. In a Dutch oven, cover lentils with 2 quarts water. Bring to a boil over medium-high heat. Reduce heat to medium low. Stirring occasionally, cover and simmer 15 minutes or until lentils are barely tender. Stir in seasoning mix. Cover and simmer 30 minutes longer or until lentils are tender. Serve warm. Yield: about 7 cups soup
Optional: Saute 1 chopped onion, 1/2 cup chopped celery, 1 cup diced carrots, and/or 1 diced red bell pepper in 1 Tbsp olive oil in Dutch oven before adding lentils and water.
BEER BREAD MIX
- 2 1/2 cups self-rising flour
- 1/2 cup all-purpose flour
- 1/4 cup brown sugar
- 1 teaspoon baking powder
- 1/2 teaspoon salt
- 1/2 teaspoon onion powder (optional)
- 3/4 teaspoon Italian seasoning(optional)
In a bowl, mix the self-rising flour, all-purpose flour, brown sugar, baking powder, salt, onion powder, and Italian seasoning. Place in ziptop or cellophane bag. Give with baking directions.
Preparation Directions: Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Place bread mix in a large bowl. Add 12 oz beer (or seltzer water) and mix just until moistened. Transfer to a greased loaf pan. Top with the 3 Tbsp melted butter. Bake 45 to 55 minutes in the preheated oven, until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean. Cool on a wire rack.
And here’s the week’s menu:
- Monday: Lentil Soup with Beer Bread (made with hard cider)
- Tuesday: Stuffed Peppers (from Costco), Steamed Mixed Vegetables, and Waldorf Salad
- Wednesday: Teriyaki Chicken and Rice with Cucumbers sprinkled with Soy Sauce and Sesame Seeds
- Thursday: Simple Lasagna (from the freezer) and Chopped Vegetable Salad
- Friday: Chicken and Butternut Squash Tagine with Quinoa and Fresh Veggies with Yogurt Dip
For the Teriyaki Chicken, I just put some chicken breasts and a package of frozen peppers and onions in the crockpot, add a homemade teriyaki sauce, and cook it all day.