Tonight's menu featured...

I am thinking of making cooking a big dinner a weekly event. I do not cook at all during the week. With working full-time and going to school nearly full-time, there just isn't enough left in me to go about it.

However, I made a lovely dinner last week and couldn't resist the opportunity to take another whack at it this week.

The menu: Freshly baked bread (love it!, Lentil, Barley and Sausage Soup (little recipe to follow) and Warm Cinnamon Bread for dessert.

We invited a couple of our neighbors over since I always seem to end up with a ton more than I started out making. I used to have dinner parties fairly regularly when I lived in Alaska and I have missed that, so this was great fun!

Lentil, Barley and Sausage Soup (modified from what was on the barley package)

You will need:
Onion - I used a full one
lentils - 1 cup
barley - 1 cup
Celery - I chopped up 3 of the stalks we had
can of diced tomatoes - flavor is up to you, I used onion and garlic seasoned
garlic - about 2 cloves worth
1 can beer - I used a lager, but whatever you would prefer is up to you
Sausage - your choice again, but I have found that a denser one works best. I used a kielbasa and turkey sausage this time, but have used polish sausage or whatever is kicking around
Chicken stock - about 2 cups
Water - 3-4 cups or whatever you want to add to make the it the consistency you would like
Oil - olive or vegetable for browning the onions and sausage. In a nonstick pan, you do not need much. Otherwise the original recipe called for 1/4 cupc
Italian seasoning - about 2 tbsp worth
Salt and pepper to taste


I am modifying the preparation slightly since I think it will work out better this way:

Start to heat your frying pan and add the oil. Dice the onions or roughly chop them (sorry, I am not so precise when I cook, just when baking) whichever consistency you like. I prefer rough chunks myself. Add the onions and garlic to the oil and start to brown them. As you start to get some color on the onions (a little carmelly goodness) add the sausage (cut into bite size pieces) and continue browning the mix. I had my pan on about med - high around 7 or 8. Once you have some nice color on the sausage add the beer and cook it until it's all cooked down and there is little to no liguid left (this probably works best in a non stick pan). This took about 15 minutes when I did it today.

Once you have all the sausage mix all browned and tasty. Dump it all in the crockpot with the rest of your ingredients and slow cook for several hours or until the lentils and barley are all nice and soft. I think mine was done after about 3, but we waited a bit longer to eat.

I served mine with a little green salad the neighbor brought and freshly baked bread.

It really was great fun. I think next week I am tackling a French Onion Soup made with beer that my mom had once at a friend's house. It probably won't be exactly the same as her friend's mom, but I am sure the lovely internet can help me out. Gotta love google!

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