Make the day special and serve ginger soy steak with cilantro. Coat a stovetop grill pan with cooking spray; heat on medium-high. Season both sides of a 1 1/4 -pound sirloin steak with a little coarse salt and freshly ground pepper. Place steak on hot pan; cook 5 minutes per side for medium-rare to medium. Remove from pan; let stand 5 to 8 minutes. Slice across grain into 1/2 -inch slices.
Meanwhile, whisk together 1/4 cup reduced-sodium soy sauce, 1 teaspoon Dijon mustard, 1/2 teaspoon grated fresh ginger and 2 tablespoons chopped fresh cilantro. Drizzle sauce on top of steak and serve. (Adapted from "Robin Takes 5," Robin Miller; Andrews McMeel Publishing, $29.99.)
Serve the juicy steak with brown rice tossed with toasted slivered almonds, snow peas and bread sticks. Enjoy coconut pudding for dessert.
Tip: Buy vanilla pudding and stir some grated coconut into it.
Plan ahead: Save enough beef and make enough pudding for Monday.
Shopping list: Cooking spray, sirloin steak, coarse salt, pepper, reduced-sodium soy sauce, Dijon mustard, fresh ginger, fresh cilantro, brown rice, slivered almonds, snow peas, bread sticks, coconut pudding.
Heat and eat Monday
Make it quick tonight with beef salad. Slice the leftover beef into bite-size pieces and toss with a packaged green salad, diced avocado, toasted walnuts and crumbled blue cheese. Add your favorite dressing. Alongside, add flatbread. Start the meal with tomato broth. Serve leftover pudding for dessert.
Tip: For tomato broth, stir tomato sauce into lower-sodium beef broth to taste and heat.
Shopping list: Packaged green salad, avocado, walnuts, crumbled blue cheese, favorite salad dressing, flatbread, tomato broth.
Skip meat and try grilled Gruyere and olive tapenade sandwiches (see recipe). Serve them with a lettuce wedge. Fresh pineapple chunks are good for dessert.
Shopping list: Jar oil-packed sun-dried tomatoes, kalamata olives, garlic, multigrain bread, Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese, tomatoes, Gruyere cheese, lettuce, fresh pineapple.
For a delicious budget meal, sausage Bolognese with linguine (see recipe) is simple to make. Serve it with a romaine salad. For dessert, you can have peaches.
Plan ahead: Save enough sausage Bolognese for Friday.
Shopping list: Carrots, celery, onion, canola oil, sweet Italian turkey sausage, dry white wine, canned whole tomatoes, 1 percent milk, linguine, Parmesan cheese, romaine, peaches.
Kids and grown-ups alike will go for barbecue chicken pizza with melted provolone. Heat oven to 400 degrees. Roll a 16-ounce package of refrigerated pizza dough into a large circle until 1/4 inch thick. Transfer dough to pizza pan. Spread 1/2 cup (any) barbecue sauce over the crust to within 1/2 inch of the edges. Top with 2 cups shredded cooked chicken, 1 cup shredded provolone cheese and 1/4 cup sliced mushrooms. Bake 15 minutes or until the crust is golden brown and the cheese is bubbly. (Adapted from "Robin Takes 5.")
Add carrot sticks on the side. For dessert, chocolate rockets (see recipe) will be a blast!
Tip: Use rotisserie chicken if desired.
Shopping list: Refrigerated pizza dough, barbecue sauce, cooked chicken, provolone cheese, sliced mushrooms, carrot sticks, bananas, Popsicle sticks, semisweet chocolate chips, canola oil, unsalted peanuts, ice cream sprinkles.
Heat the leftover sausage Bolognese for a quick meal. Serve with a packaged Italian salad and garlic bread. Buy a chocolate cake for dessert.
Plan ahead: Save enough cake for Saturday.
Shopping list: Packaged Italian salad, garlic bread, chocolate cake.
Easy entertaining Saturday
Invite guests for simple and delicious garlic herb shrimp. In a large nonstick skillet, heat 2 tablespoons olive oil on medium. Add 1 pound large uncooked peeled and deveined shrimp; cook and stir 4 minutes or just until shrimp turn pink. Stir in 1 tablespoon garlic herb seasoning blend (such as McCormick or another brand) and 2 tablespoons dry white wine, until shrimp are well-coated. Spoon over rice. Add a Boston lettuce salad and baguettes. Leftover cake served with raspberry sorbet makes a perfect dessert.
Shopping list: Olive oil, large uncooked shrimp, garlic herb seasoning blend (such as McCormick or another brand), dry white wine, rice, Boston lettuce, baguettes, raspberry sorbet.
** ** **
GRILLED GRUYERE AND OLIVE TAPENADE SANDWICHES (Tuesday)
Makes 4 servings
Preparation time: 15 minutes
Cooking time: Less than 5 minutes
1 (18.5-ounce) jar oil-packed sun-dried tomatoes
12 pitted kalamata olives
2 cloves garlic
8 (1-ounce) slices multigrain bread
1/4 cup grated Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese
8 ( 1/4 -inch-thick) slices large tomato
2 ounces shaved Gruyere cheese
Remove 4 tomatoes and 2 tablespoons oil from jar; drain tomatoes on paper towels. (Reserve remaining tomatoes and oil for another use.) Set 1 tablespoon oil aside. Combine tomatoes, 1 tablespoon oil, olives and garlic in a mini food processor; process until mostly smooth, scraping sides of bowl once. Brush one side of each bread slice with remaining oil. Spread 1 1/2 tablespoons olive mixture on each of 4 bread slices, oil side down. Top each bread slice with 1 tablespoon cheese, 2 tomato slices and 1/2 ounce Gruyere. Top each with remaining 4 bread slices, oil side up. Heat skillet on medium-high. Add sandwiches to pan. Place heavy skillet on top of sandwiches; press gently to flatten. Leave skillet on sandwiches while they cook. Cook 2 minutes on each side or until cheese melts and bread is toasted. (Adapted from Cooking Light magazine.)
Per serving: 342 calories, 13g protein, 18g fat (47 percent calories from fat), 5g saturated fat, 33g carbohydrate, 20mg cholesterol, 585mg sodium, 4g fiber.
** ** **
SAUSAGE BOLOGNESE WITH LINGUINE (Wednesday)
Makes 8 servings
Preparation time: 15 minutes
Cooking time: About 1 hour, plus pasta
3 medium coarsely chopped carrots
2 ribs coarsely chopped celery
1 large coarsely chopped onion
1 tablespoon canola oil
1 (20-ounce) package sweet Italian turkey sausage, casings removed
3/4 cup dry white wine
1 (28-ounce) can undrained whole tomatoes
3/4 cup 1 percent milk
1 (13.25-ounce) box linguine
Grated Parmesan cheese for garnish
Pulse carrots, celery and onion in a food processor until finely chopped. Heat oil in a large nonstick skillet on medium. Add vegetable mixture and cook, stirring, 6 minutes. Rinse food processor bowl; set aside. Crumble sausage into skillet and cook 3 minutes. Add wine to skillet; bring to simmer for 10 minutes. Drain tomatoes; save liquid. Add tomatoes to food processor bowl; pulse until finely chopped. Add tomatoes and liquid to skillet; bring to simmer. Reduce heat to low; cook 30 minutes or until most of liquid has been absorbed. Stir in milk; cook 8 more minutes.
Meanwhile, cook pasta according to directions. Serve pasta with sauce; top each serving with some Parmesan. (Adapted from "Family Circle Healthy Family Dinners," Regina Ragone, food director; Wiley Publishing, $19.99.)
Per serving: 359 calories, 18g protein, 9g fat (25 percent calories from fat), 2.4g saturated fat, 45g carbohydrate, 61mg cholesterol, 724mg sodium, 3g fiber.
** ** **
CHOCOLATE ROCKETS (Thursday)
Makes: 6 rockets
Preparation time: 10 minutes
3 large bananas
6 Popsicle sticks
1 cup semisweet chocolate chips
1 tablespoon canola oil
1/4 cup unsalted peanuts, chopped
1/4 cup ice cream sprinkles
Peel bananas and cut in half (crosswise). Insert a wood stick into cut ends of bananas. Place on baking sheet lined with waxed paper. Freeze about 30 minutes.
Meanwhile, microwave chocolate chips and oil on high 1 minute; stir. Continue microwaving until melted, stopping every 30 seconds and stirring. Hold frozen banana over bowl of melted chocolate; spoon the melted chocolate over banana to lightly cover. Quickly sprinkle with peanuts and sprinkles. Return to baking sheet. Repeat with remaining frozen bananas. Freeze 15 minutes to 1 hour before serving. (Adapted from "SpongeBob's Kitchen Mission Cookbook," Raina Moore, senior editor; Wiley and Nickelodeon, $16.99.)
Per rocket: 288 calories, 3g protein, 16g fat (45 percent calories from fat), 5.6g saturated fat, 41g carbohydrate, no cholesterol, 4mg sodium, 4g fiber.