Grilled chicken with white barbecue sauce (see recipe) is super delicious. Serve it with potato salad, coleslaw and whole-grain bread for a wonderful summer meal. Buy a Boston cream pie for dessert.
Plan ahead: Save enough chicken, coleslaw and pie for Monday.
Shopping list: Dried thyme, dried oregano, cumin, paprika, onion powder, salt, coarse ground pepper, boneless skinless chicken thighs, low-fat mayonnaise, white wine vinegar, garlic, spicy brown mustard, prepared horseradish, potato salad, coleslaw, whole-grain bread, Boston cream pie.
>Heat and eat Monday
Make chicken sandwiches with brie on ciabatta bread using the leftover chicken. Serve with leftover coleslaw. Leftover pie is your dessert.
Shopping list: Brie, ciabatta bread.
You'll be happy to skip meat for ravioli with asparagus and walnuts. Cook 1 (14- to 16-ounce) package cheese ravioli (fresh or frozen) according to directions. Meanwhile, heat 2 tablespoons olive oil in a medium nonstick skillet on medium. Add 2 cloves sliced garlic and 1/2 cup roughly chopped walnuts and cook 4 to 5 minutes, stirring often, or until nuts are lightly toasted and fragrant. Add 1 pound asparagus, trimmed and thinly sliced on the diagonal. Cook 2 minutes or until just tender. Serve over ravioli and sprinkle with freshly grated Parmesan cheese. (Adapted from Woman's Day magazine.) Add a spinach salad and Italian bread. Fat-free strawberry ice cream is a cool dessert.
Shopping list: Fresh or frozen cheese ravioli, olive oil, garlic, walnuts, asparagus, Parmesan cheese, fresh spinach, Italian bread, fat-free strawberry ice cream.
Stay cool with a quick meal of tuna-stuffed avocados. Buy tuna salad from the deli and spoon into ripe halved avocados. Add a bowl of gazpacho along with sesame bread sticks. Enjoy fresh tropical fruit for dessert. (Sprinkle avocados with lemon juice to prevent darkening.)
Shopping list: Deli tuna salad, avocados, gazpacho, sesame bread sticks, fresh tropical fruit.
Pasta fagioli (see recipe) is easy on the budget and full of flavor. Serve it with a lettuce wedge and whole-grain bread. Fresh blueberries make a good dessert.
Shopping list: Olive oil, sliced carrots, garlic, fat-free chicken broth, canned no-salt-added tomato sauce, Italian seasoning, ditalini pasta, canned cannellini beans, diced ham, salt, black pepper, Parmesan cheese, lettuce, whole-grain bread, fresh blueberries.
No kid will be able to resist layered Mexican casserole. Heat oven to 350 degrees. In an ungreased 8-inch square baking dish, spread 2 1/2 cups of Corn Chex cereal; spoon 2 cups rinsed pinto beans (from a 19-ounce can) over Corn Chex. Sprinkle 1 cup shredded 50 percent reduced-fat cheddar cheese over all. Spoon 1 1/2 cups mild salsa over cheese. Sprinkle with 2 more cups cereal and 1 more cup cheese. Bake 20 to 25 minutes or until hot and cheese is melted. Serve with reduced-fat sour cream. Add guacamole on shredded lettuce. How about fresh peaches for dessert?
Shopping list: Corn Chex cereal, canned pinto beans, 50 percent reduced-fat cheddar cheese, mild salsa, reduced-fat sour cream, guacamole, lettuce, peaches.
>Easy entertaining Saturday
Show off your cooking skills and invite guests for grilled steaks. Serve them with sweet onion casserole (see recipe), green beans, a romaine salad and crusty rolls. Fruit tarts are a perfect dessert.
Shopping list: Steaks to grill, canola oil, sweet onions (such as Vidalia), white rice, part-skim Jarlsberg or Gruyere cheese, salt, black pepper, allspice, cooking spray, Parmesan cheese, parsley, green beans, romaine, crusty rolls, fruit tarts.
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>GRILLED CHICKEN WITH WHITE BARBECUE SAUCE (Sunday)
Makes 5 servings
Preparation time: 20 minutes; refrigeration time: 4 hours
Cooking time: About 10 minutes
1 tablespoon each dried thyme, dried oregano, cumin and paprika
1 teaspoon onion powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon coarse ground pepper
10 well-trimmed boneless skinless chicken thighs (or other chicken parts)
White Barbecue Sauce:
3/4 cup low-fat mayonnaise
2 tablespoons white wine vinegar
1 small clove minced garlic
1 1/2 teaspoons coarse ground pepper
1 1/2 teaspoons spicy brown mustard
1/4 teaspoon salt
2 teaspoons prepared horseradish
Combine thyme, oregano, cumin, paprika, onion powder, salt and pepper. Pat chicken dry with paper towels; rub mixture evenly over chicken. Place chicken in resealable plastic bag. Refrigerate 4 hours. Remove chicken; discard bag. Grill 5 to 6 minutes per side or until meat thermometer inserted into thickest part of thigh registers 165 degrees.
For the sauce: Combine all ingredients; refrigerate until ready to serve. Serve sauce with chicken. (Adapted from "1,001 Ways to Cook Southern," Susan Hernandez Ray, editor; Oxmoor House, $34.95.)
Per serving: 247 calories, 28g protein, 8g fat (31 percent calories from fat), 1.4g saturated fat, 14g carbohydrate, 115mg cholesterol, 829mg sodium, 2g fiber.
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>PASTA FAGIOLI (Thursday)
Makes 9 cups
Preparation time: 10 minutes
Cooking time: About 15 minutes
1 tablespoon olive oil
1 cup sliced carrots
3 cloves minced garlic
2 1/2 cups fat-free chicken broth
2 cups water
1 (8-ounce) can no-salt-added tomato sauce
1 teaspoon Italian seasoning
8 ounces ditalini pasta (or small pasta)
2 (15-ounce) cans rinsed cannellini beans
4 ounces diced ham
1/8 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon black pepper
Freshly grated Parmesan cheese for garnish
Heat oil in a Dutch oven on medium-high. Microwave carrots with 2 tablespoons water 3 minutes on high (100 percent power); drain and set aside. Add garlic to Dutch oven; cook 1 minute. Stir in broth, water, tomato sauce and Italian seasoning. Bring to boil. Add pasta and carrots; simmer 10 minutes, stirring occasionally. Stir in beans, ham, salt and pepper. Heat through. Garnish with cheese. (Adapted from Family Circle magazine.)
Per cup: 248 calories, 12g protein, 4g fat (13 percent calories from fat), 0.6g saturated fat, 41 g carbohydrate, 8mg cholesterol, 548mg sodium, 6g fiber.
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>SWEET ONION CASSEROLE (Saturday)
Makes 6 servings
Preparation time: 20 minutes
Cooking time: 55 minutes
1 tablespoon canola oil
4 cups (about 1 3/4 pounds) chopped sweet onions (such as Vidalia)
1 cup cooked white rice
2/3 cup shredded part-skim Jarlsberg or Gruyere cheese
1/8 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
1/8 teaspoon allspice
1/3 cup freshly grated Parmesan cheese
2 tablespoons chopped parsley, if desired
Heat oven to 325 degrees. Heat oil in a large nonstick skillet. Add onion; cook 10 minutes or until softened. Place in a large bowl. Stir rice, cheese, salt, pepper and allspice into onions. Spoon mixture into an 8-by-8-inch baking dish coated with cooking spray. Sprinkle evenly with Parmesan. Cover and bake 40 minutes. Uncover; bake 5 more minutes. Top with parsley if desired. (Adapted from Cooking Light magazine.)
Per serving: 243 calories, 10g protein, 6g fat (23 percent calories from fat), 2.3g saturated fat, 38g carbohydrate, 10mg cholesterol, 142mg sodium, 2g fiber.