Sunday (Family) — Impress the family with your roasted chicken. Serve the chicken with scalloped potatoes, roasted red onions with basil and dinner rolls. For dessert, chocolate meringue pie is a family favorite.
Plan ahead: Save enough chicken and pie for Monday.
Shopping list: roasting chicken, scalloped potatoes, red onions, olive oil, fennel seeds, coarse salt, balsamic vinegar, fresh basil, dinner rolls, chocolate meringue pie.
Monday (heat and eat) —Transform the leftover chicken into chicken jambalaya. Follow the directions for any 8-ounce packaged jambalaya mix and add 4 ounces diced ham. Stir in 1 (10-ounce) package frozen (and thawed) sliced okra and simmer 10 more minutes. Add 2 cups leftover cooked and diced chicken; mix well. Remove from heat and let stand, covered, 5 minutes. Serve with a mixed green salad and baguettes. Slice the leftover pie for dessert.
Shopping list: packaged jambalaya mix, diced ham, frozen sliced okra, salad greens, baguettes.
Tuesday — Buy frozen black bean burgers (or another flavor) for kids’ night. Serve on toasted whole-grain buns and top with their favorites, such as shredded lettuce, salsa and Mexican-blend shredded cheese. Serve with oven fries (frozen). For dessert, red and green grapes are fun.
Shopping list: frozen black bean burgers, whole-grain hamburger buns, shredded lettuce, salsa, Mexican-blend shredded cheese, frozen oven fries, red and green grapes.
Wednesday (express) — We lapped up this super-easy shepherd’s pie. Serve it with a lettuce wedge and whole grain bread. For dessert, try your favorite ice cream sandwiches.
Shopping list: lean ground beef, frozen peas and carrots, frozen chopped onions, canned mushroom gravy, cooking spray, any frozen mashed potatoes, lettuce, whole-grain bread, ice cream sandwiches.
Thursday (Budget) — Keep the slow cooker busy today with sausage and sauerkraut with potatoes. In a 4-quart or larger slow cooker, place 1 (12- to 14-ounce) package reduced-fat kielbasa (cut into chunks), 1 (2-pound) package refrigerated sauerkraut (rinsed and drained), 1 teaspoon caraway seeds, 4 medium halved red potatoes, 1 medium sliced onion and 2/3 cup water. Stir, cover and cook on low for 7 to 8 hours. Alongside, add pickled beets and pumpernickel bread. Chunky applesauce is dessert.
Shopping list: reduced-fat kielbasa, packaged refrigerated sauerkraut, caraway seeds, red potatoes, onion, pickled beets, pumpernickel bread, chunky applesauce.
Friday (Meatless) — Forget meat tonight and enjoy fettuccine with blue cheese. Cook 12 ounces fettuccine according to directions; add 1 (10-ounce) package frozen green peas the last 3 minutes of cooking; drain. To pot, add 1/4 cup half-and-half, 1 cup 1 percent milk, 2 tablespoons chopped green onions and coarse salt and pepper to taste. Simmer 1 minute. Return fettuccine and peas to pot. Sprinkle with 1/4 cup crumbled blue cheese; toss to coat. Serve immediately. Add a romaine salad and garlic bread. Enjoy peach sorbet for dessert.
Plan ahead: Save enough sorbet for Saturday.
Shopping list: fettuccine, frozen green peas, half-and-half, 1 percent milk, green onions, coarse salt, pepper, crumbled blue cheese, romaine, garlic bread, peach sorbet.
Saturday (Easy Entertaining) — Entertain your guests with Italian pork roast with roasted potato wedges on the menu. Heat oven to 350 degrees. Rub 3 tablespoons Italian seasoning over 1 (2-pound) boneless pork loin roast. Place roast in a shallow pan and roast 25 minutes. Meanwhile, place 4 medium unpeeled potatoes (cut into wedges) and 1/4 cup bottled Italian dressing in a resealable plastic bag and toss to coat. Discard marinade; arrange potatoes around pork and roast 20 to 30 minutes more or until internal temperature of pork reaches 145 degrees and potatoes are tender. Remove from oven and let pork stand 3 to 5 minutes before slicing.
Serve with green beans and tomatoes. Add crusty bread.
For dessert, leftover peach sorbet with butter cookies is light.
Shopping list: Italian seasoning, boneless pork loin roast, potatoes, bottled Italian dressing, frozen cut green beans, cooking spray, onions, garlic, sugar, coarse salt, balsamic vinegar, dried basil, canned diced tomatoes with basil, garlic and oregano, parmesan cheese, crusty bread, butter cookies.
ROAST RED ONIONS WITH BASIL (Sunday)
Makes 8 servings
Preparation time: 15 minutes
Cooking time: 1 hour; standing time: about 1 hour
2 1/4 pounds red onions (preferably small), quartered, then peeled
1/2 cup olive oil
1 teaspoon fennel seeds
1/2 teaspoon coarse salt
1 to 3 teaspoons balsamic vinegar (according to taste)
4 cups fresh packed basil
Heat oven to 400 degrees. Place the onions in a roasting pan and pour oil over all; scatter with fennel seeds, tossing the onions in the pan to coat thoroughly. Roast 1 hour or until onions are soft and cooked through. Remove from oven, sprinkle with salt and drizzle with vinegar; toss gently and let stand 1 hour or to room temperature. At serving time, add basil leaves; toss again (see NOTE). (Adapted from “Nigellissima,” Nigella Lawson, Clarkson Potter, 2013.)
NOTE: This is a lot of basil, but consider the basil as a salad leaf, not decoration.
Per serving: 177 calories, 2 grams protein, 14 grams fat (68 percent calories from fat), 1.9 grams saturated fat, 13 grams carbohydrate, no cholesterol, 127 milligrams sodium, 3 grams fiber.
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SHEPHERD’S PIE (Wednesday)
Makes 4 servings
Preparation time: 10 minutes
Cooking time: about 45 minutes
1 pound 95 percent lean ground beef
1 (16-ounce) package frozen peas and carrots
1 cup onion, chopped and frozen
2 tablespoons water
1 (10 1/2-ounce) can mushroom gravy
1 (8-ounce) package any frozen mashed potatoes, thawed
Heat oven to 350 degrees. In a large nonstick skillet, cook beef 6 minutes or until no longer pink. Meanwhile, microwave peas and carrots, onions and water 10 minutes on high (100 percent power); drain. Add gravy and cooked beef; mix well and microwave 3 minutes on high. Spoon into a 2 1/2-quart baking dish coated with cooking spray. Spread potatoes evenly over mixture. Bake 20 to 25 minutes or until potatoes are browned and mixture is bubbly.
Per serving: 322 calories, 29 grams protein, 9 grams fat (25 percent calories from fat), 3.3 grams saturated fat, 32 grams carbohydrate, 68 milligrams cholesterol, 665 milligrams sodium, 5 grams fiber.
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GREEN BEANS AND TOMATOES (Saturday)
Makes 8 servings
Preparation time: 15 minutes
Cooking time: less than 40 minutes, plus green beans
2 (16-ounce) packages frozen cut green beans
3 medium onions, thinly sliced (about 3 cups)
1 clove garlic, minced
2 teaspoons sugar
1 teaspoon coarse salt
2 tablespoons balsamic vinegar
1 teaspoon dried basil
1 (28-ounce) can drained diced tomatoes with basil, garlic and oregano
1/4 cup grated fresh parmesan cheese
Heat oven to 400 degrees. Microwave beans 12 minutes on high (100 percent power); rinse under cold water and drain well. Meanwhile, heat a nonstick skillet coated with cooking spray over medium-high. Add onion, garlic, sugar and salt. Cook 8 minutes or until onions are lightly browned, stirring frequently. Stir in vinegar and basil; cook 2 minutes. Remove from heat. Arrange beans in an 8-by-12-inch baking dish coated with cooking spray. Top with onion mixture. Arrange tomatoes evenly on top of onion mixture and sprinkle with cheese. Bake 25 minutes or until the cheese is lightly browned and vegetables are hot.
Per serving: 91 calories, 4 grams protein, 1 gram fat (8 percent calories from fat), 0.4 gram saturated fat, 17 grams carbohydrate, 2 milligrams cholesterol, 762 milligrams sodium, 4 grams fiber.