> Family Sunday
Make family time special and serve lamb kebabs with bacon and cilantro (see recipe). Serve the kebabs with orzo, a mixed green salad and whole-grain rolls. For dessert, buy a coconut layer cake.
Plan ahead: Save 2 kebabs and leftover cake and prepare enough orzo for Monday.
Shopping list: Fresh cilantro, cumin, paprika, black pepper, garlic, olive oil, fat-free chicken broth, lamb chops, whole white mushrooms, thick bacon, onions, green, red or yellow bell peppers, orzo, salad greens, whole-grain rolls, coconut layer cake.
> Heat and eat Monday
Make lamb pitas tonight. Line whole-grain pitas with lettuce leaves. Dice and heat the leftover kebabs and mix with 3 cups leftover hot orzo and a little fat-free chicken broth; stuff pitas with mixture. Serve with grated carrots and chopped dried apricots moistened with fat-free vanilla yogurt. Leftover cake works for dessert.
Shopping list: Whole-grain pitas, lettuce, fat-free chicken broth, grated carrots, dried apricots, fat-free vanilla yogurt.
> Express Tuesday
Look for one of the many frozen noodle bowls. They're a quick fix for dinner, but could be a little spicy for kids. If available, add extra cooked vegetables to the bowls. Serve the bowls with a packaged green salad and whole-grain rolls. Crunch on peanut butter cookies for dessert.
Plan ahead: Save enough cookies for Thursday.
Shopping list: Any frozen noodle bowls, packaged salad greens, whole-grain rolls, peanut butter cookies.
> Kids Wednesday
Make baked tacos (see recipe) for kids' night and serve with brown rice. Let the kids help prepare and layer instant chocolate and vanilla puddings (made with 1 percent milk) in a pretty, tall dessert dish and call it "black and white parfait." Expect a mess, but the kids will have fun, and so should you. (Use iced-tea spoons to fill the parfait glasses.)
Shopping list: Olive oil, ground turkey breast, canned reduced-sodium pinto beans, mild salsa, less-sodium taco seasoning mix, fat-free whole-grain tortillas, cooking spray, lettuce, tomatoes, reduced-fat sour cream, reduced-fat shredded Monterey Jack cheese, brown rice, instant chocolate and vanilla puddings, 1 percent milk.
> Meatless Thursday
Soup always tastes good on cool nights, as will this Tuscan pasta and chickpea soup. In a Dutch oven, heat 1 tablespoon olive oil on medium-low. Add 1 1/2 teaspoons dried marjoram, 1/2 teaspoon crushed dried rosemary and 1 clove minced garlic and heat 2 minutes or until fragrant. (Do not let garlic brown.) Stir in 2 (15-ounce) cans rinsed chickpeas, 3 1/2 cups vegetable broth, 1 (14.5-ounce) can no-salt-added diced tomatoes and 1 1/2 cups water. Bring to boil on medium-high. Reduce heat to low; simmer 20 minutes.
Meanwhile, cook 1 cup ditalini or other small pasta according to directions; rinse pasta under cold water. With an immersion/handheld blender (or conventional blender), blend soup until almost smooth. Stir cooked pasta and 1 (5- or 6-ounce) bag baby spinach into soup. Cover and cook 1 or 2 minutes on medium until spinach is wilted, stirring occasionally. Drizzle a little olive oil over each serving if desired.
Add a mixed green salad. For dessert, leftover cookies can go with fresh pineapple chunks.
Shopping list: Olive oil, dried marjoram, crushed dried rosemary, garlic, canned chickpeas, fat-free vegetable broth, canned no-salt-added diced tomatoes, ditalini or other small pasta, packaged baby spinach, salad greens, fresh pineapple chunks.
> Budget Friday
Pinch a few pennies tonight and serve spaghetti with tuna. Cook 12 ounces spaghetti according to directions; drain. In a large nonstick skillet, heat 1 tablespoon olive oil on medium. Cook 2 cups sliced onion, 4 minced garlic cloves and 1/2 teaspoon crushed red pepper for 5 minutes or until onions are softened. Add 1 (14.5-ounce) can diced tomatoes and cook 5 more minutes. Gradually add 5 cups chopped fresh spinach. Cook 5 minutes or until spinach is tender. Add 1 (6-ounce) can drained and flaked light tuna. Season with coarse salt and black pepper to taste. Toss mixture with spaghetti and serve with freshly grated Parmesan cheese, if desired. Add a green salad and garlic bread. Serve lemon sherbet for dessert.
Plan ahead: Save enough sherbet for Saturday.
Shopping list: Spaghetti, olive oil, onions, garlic, crushed red pepper, canned diced tomatoes, fresh spinach, canned light tuna, coarse salt, black pepper, Parmesan cheese, salad greens, garlic bread, lemon sherbet.
> Easy entertaining Saturday
It's OK to show off tonight with this turkey scaloppine with lemon sauce (see recipe). Alongside, offer savory rice. Melt 1 tablespoon buttery spread in a large nonstick skillet over medium heat. Add 1 clove minced garlic and cook 2 or 3 minutes. Add 3 cups cooked rice and cook until thoroughly heated (if chilled). Stir in 2 tablespoons each finely chopped green onions and chopped parsley and 1/4 cup freshly grated Parmesan cheese; mix well.
Serve with a Boston lettuce salad. Spoon Blue Heaven dressing over the salad. In a small bowl, combine 1/2 cup buttermilk; 1/4 cup each low-fat mayonnaise, fat-free sour cream and crumbled blue cheese; 1 tablespoon each minced garlic and minced green onions; and 1/8 teaspoon cayenne pepper; mix well. Chill 1 to 4 hours.
Add dinner rolls. For dessert, take it easy with leftover sherbet and butter cookies.
Shopping list: turkey breast cutlets, flour, coarse salt, pepper, buttery spread, olive oil, dry white wine or fat-free chicken broth, lemons, parsley, garlic, capers, rice, green onions, Parmesan cheese, Boston lettuce, buttermilk, low-fat mayonnaise, fat-free sour cream, crumbled blue cheese, cayenne pepper, dinner rolls, butter cookies.
LAMB KEBABS WITH BACON AND CILANTRO (Sunday)
Makes 6 kebabs
Preparation time: 15 minutes
Cooking time: 6 to 8 minutes; standing time: 5 minutes
2 tablespoons chopped fresh cilantro
1 1/2 teaspoons each cumin, paprika and black pepper
3 large crushed garlic cloves
2 tablespoons each olive oil and fat-free chicken broth
1 1/2 pounds well-trimmed lamb chops, cut in 1-inch cubes
12 whole white mushrooms
6 slices thick bacon, cut in 1-inch pieces
3 medium quartered onions
4 green, red or yellow bell peppers (any combination), cut in 1-inch pieces
Heat grill. In a small bowl, combine cilantro, cumin, paprika, black pepper, garlic, oil and broth to make a paste. Rub paste on all sides of lamb. Start (and end) 6 skewers with mushrooms. Alternately thread the lamb, bacon, onions and bell peppers on skewers. Grill 6 to 8 minutes for medium-rare to medium. Let kebabs stand 5 minutes before serving.
Per kebab: 282 calories, 26g protein, 15g fat (47 percent calories from fat), 4.1g saturated fat, 12g carbohydrate, 73mg cholesterol, 251mg sodium, 4g fiber.
BAKED TACOS (Wednesday)
Makes 8 tacos
Preparation time: 15 minutes
Cooking time: About 20 minutes
1 teaspoon olive oil
12 ounces ground turkey breast
1 (15-ounce) can rinsed reduced-sodium pinto beans
1 cup mild salsa
4 teaspoons less-sodium taco seasoning mix
8 (6- or 7-inch) fat-free whole-grain tortillas
Shredded lettuce, diced tomatoes, reduced-fat sour cream, reduced-fat shredded Monterey Jack cheese for garnishes
Heat oven to 450 degrees. Cover a rimmed baking sheet with nonstick foil. Heat oil in a large nonstick skillet on medium. Add turkey and cook 4 or 5 minutes or until no longer pink; drain. Add beans, salsa and taco seasoning to turkey. Bring to boil, reduce heat to low, and simmer uncovered 5 or 6 minutes, stirring and mashing some of the beans as you stir, until thickened. Spoon turkey mixture into center of each tortilla. Fold in half. Press down gently and place on baking sheet. Coat tortillas with cooking spray. Bake 8 to 10 minutes or until lightly browned. Garnish with lettuce, tomatoes, sour cream and cheese as desired.
Per taco: 185 calories, 15g protein, 1g fat (4 percent calories from fat), 0.2g saturated fat, 29g carbohydrate, 26mg cholesterol, 562mg sodium, 4g fiber.
TURKEY SCALOPPINE WITH LEMON SAUCE (Saturday)
Makes 4 servings
Preparation time: 15 minutes
Cooking time: About 15 minutes
1 1/4 pounds turkey breast cutlets
1/3 cup flour
1/2 teaspoon coarse salt
1/4 teaspoon pepper
2 tablespoons buttery spread, divided
1 tablespoon olive oil
1/2 cup dry white wine or fat-free chicken broth
3 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
2 tablespoons chopped fresh parsley
1 large crushed clove garlic
2 tablespoons rinsed and drained capers
Fresh parsley sprigs and thinly sliced lemons for garnish
Flatten turkey cutlets to 1/4 inch between 2 pieces of plastic wrap, using a meat mallet or rolling pin. In a pie plate, combine flour, salt and pepper. Coat both sides of cutlets with flour mixture; shake off extra flour. In a large nonstick skillet over medium-high heat, melt 1 tablespoon buttery spread with oil; add cutlets in batches and cook 3 minutes on each side or until golden. Remove cutlets from skillet and keep warm. Add remaining spread, wine and juice and stir to deglaze pan. Cook until thoroughly heated. Stir in parsley, garlic and capers. Arrange cutlets on serving platter; spoon sauce over cutlets. Garnish with parsley and lemon. Serve immediately.
Per serving: 292 calories, 36g protein, 9g fat (28 percent calories from fat), 2g saturated fat, 10g carbohydrate, 88mg cholesterol, 475mg sodium, 1g fiber.