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Hunkering down with good meals

During this stressful time of stay-at-home from this deadly virus, I have you some tasteful but easy recipes this week to make your meal planning easier and I hope better for your already embattled budget.

LENTIL SOUP

• 2 cups lentils

• 1 chicken bouillon cube

• 3 slices bacon, cut into 2-inch pieces

• 1 clove garlic, finely chopped

• 2 Tbsp. snipped parsley

• 1 medium onion, sliced

• Salt and pepper to taste

• 1 large carrot, sliced

• 1 bay leaf

• 1 large stalk celery, sliced

• 1/4 to 1/2 tsp. thyme

• 4 cups water

• 1 can (28-ounces) whole tomatoes

Measure lentils into a large saucepan or soup pan or Dutch oven; cover with water. Heat to boiling; boil uncovered for 2 minutes. Remove from heat; cover and let stand 1 hour. Fry bacon until limp; remove and drain bacon. Add the garlic, onion, carrot and celery to bacon fat remaining in skillet; cook and stir over medium-low heat until celery is tender and light brown, about 5 minutes. Stir into the lentils. Stir in bacon and remaining ingredients except tomatoes. Heat to boiling. Reduce heat; cover and simmer 1 hour (soup will thicken). Stir in tomatoes (with liquid)  and simmer uncovered 15 minutes. Remove bay leaf from soup before serving. Serves 8 easy.

HAM ‘N CHEESE ROLL

• 2 cups buttermilk baking mix

• 1/2 cup water

• 1 can (4-ounces) mushroom stems and pieces,

drained

• 1 package (3-ounces) wafer-thin sliced cooked ham

• 1 cup shredded pasteurized process cheese

spread for loaf

• 1/3 cup chopped onion

• Melted butter

Heat oven to 400 degrees. Stir baking mix and water until a soft dough forms. Smooth dough gently on floured cloth-covered board into a ball. Knead 5 times. Roll dough into rectangle, 12×8 inches. Layer ham on rectangle; sprinkle with cheese, mushrooms and onion. Roll up, beginning at narrow end. Cut into 1-inch slices. Fit slices into the greased baking pan, 8x8x2 inches. Brush with margarine or butter. Bake until golden brown, about 23 minutes. Serves 8.

SIMPLE GARDEN SALAD

• 4 cups finely shredded or chopped cabbage

(about 1/2 medium)

• 1 Tbsp. sliced green onion

• 1/4 cup coarsely chopped green pepper

• 1/4 cup coarsely chopped celery

• 1/4 cup coarsely chopped turnip

• 1/4 cup sliced radishes

• 1/2 cup unflavored yogurt

• 2 Tbsp. vinegar

• 1 Tbsp. sugar

• Salt and pepper to taste

Measure vegetables into bowl; cover and refrigerate. Mix yogurt, vinegar, sugar, and salt and pepper; cover and refrigerate. At serving time, toss the dressing with the vegetables. Makes 8 servings.

FRUIT FREEZE

• 2 cups miniature marshmallows

• 1 envelope (about 2-ounces) dessert topping or

1 cup whipped topping

• 1 cup orange or grape juice

• 2 Tbsp. lemon juice

Heat marshmallows, juice and lemon juice over medium heat, stirring constantly, until marshmallows are all melted and the mixture is thick and syrupy, about 6-7 minutes. Cool. Prepare the topping mix or the whipped topping. Pour into a refrigerator tray or a freezer safe flat dish. Freeze until firm about 6 hours. Makes 8 servings.

HINT OF THE WEEK: Get your protein at penny prices. Count on dry beans, peas, or lentils to come to the rescue as good, low-cost meat substitutes. If paired with a food of animal origin (such as eggs, cheese or milk, or even a tiny amount of meat), the protein value of these substitutes actually increases. Quite a nutritional equation! Think about that.

Patti Howerton is a retired accountant and caterer and can be reached at phowerton@ gmail.com