> Family Sunday
Enjoy lots of praise from the family for spinach-stuffed chicken breasts (see recipe). Serve the chicken with roasted red potatoes, asparagus and mixed greens. Buy bread pudding for dessert.
Plan ahead: Save enough bread pudding for Wednesday.
Shopping list: Olive oil, garlic, fresh mushrooms, dry red wine, baby spinach, Italian seasoning, kalamata olives, boneless skinless chicken breasts, reduced-fat Colby Jack Snacks (such as Sargento), black pepper, lemon, red potatoes, asparagus, salad greens, bread pudding.
> Meatless Monday
Keep it simple tonight with grilled tomato-and-brie sandwiches. Brush one side of 8 slices whole-grain bread ( 1/4 inch thick) with olive oil; rub cut side of a halved garlic clove over oil. Spread 1/2 teaspoon country-style Dijon mustard on each of 4 bread slices, oil side down. Top each slice with 1 ounce thinly sliced brie cheese, 1/3 cup arugula and 2 tomato slices. Then, top each sandwich with remaining 4 bread slices, oil side up. Place sandwiches on grill coated with cooking spray; grill 2 minutes per side or until lightly toasted and cheese melts. (Adapted from Cooking Light magazine.) Serve with any bean soup. Enjoy pears for dessert.
Shopping list: Whole-grain bread, olive oil, garlic, country-style Dijon mustard, brie cheese, arugula, tomatoes, cooking spray, bean soup, pears.
> Kids Tuesday
The kids will love having their own special mini meatloaves tonight. Heat oven to 425 degrees. In small bowl, stir together 1/2 cup ketchup and 2 tablespoons brown sugar until mixed; reserve 1/4 cup mixture for topping. In large bowl, stir together 1 1/2 pounds 93 to 95 percent lean ground beef, 1/2 cup biscuit mix, 1/4 teaspoon pepper, 1/4 cup minced onion, 1 slightly beaten egg and the remaining ketchup mixture. Coat a 9-by-13-inch baking pan with cooking spray.
Place meat mixture in pan; shape into a 4-by-12-inch rectangle. Cut lengthwise down center and then crosswise into sixths to form 12 loaves. Separate loaves, using a spatula, so no edges are touching. Brush loaves with reserved 1/4 cup ketchup/brown sugar mixture. Bake 18 to 20 minutes or until internal temperature is 160 degrees. Serve the mini loaves with mashed potatoes and steamed baby carrots. Sliced peaches are an easy dessert.
Shopping list: Ketchup, brown sugar, 93 to 95 percent lean ground beef, biscuit mix, pepper, onion, egg, cooking spray, potatoes to mash, baby carrots, peaches.
> Express Wednesday
You'll have dinner in no time with quick paella (see recipe). Serve with packaged greens. Leftover bread pudding is a welcome dessert.
Shopping list: Buttery spread (such as Smart Balance), quick-cooking rice, onion, green bell pepper, garlic, canned no-salt-added tomato sauce, canned minced clams, frozen cooked salad shrimp, saffron or ground turmeric, fresh parsley, packaged green salad.
> Budget Thursday
It's hard to beat low-cost Brunswick stew with smoked paprika (see recipe) for a tasty meal. Serve it with a lettuce wedge with crumbled gorgonzola cheese and biscuits. Scoop fat-free chocolate ice cream for dessert.
Plan ahead: Save enough stew for Friday and enough ice cream for Saturday.
Shopping list: Yukon gold potatoes, onion, frozen corn, frozen baby lima beans, no-salt-added tomato sauce, fat-free chicken broth, bacon, cooked chicken breast, smoked paprika, coarse salt, cayenne pepper, lettuce, crumbled gorgonzola cheese, biscuits, fat-free chocolate ice cream.
> Heat and eat Friday
Enjoy the fruits of your earlier labors with the already prepared and ready-to-heat Brunswick stew. Thin it with broth for soup or leave it as is. Round out your simple meal with a Caesar salad and crackers. For dessert, how about deli brownies?
Plan ahead: Save enough brownies for Saturday.
Shopping list: Broth, Caesar salad, crackers, deli brownies.
> Easy entertaining Saturday
Invite friends for grilled salmon. Serve it with chipotle mashed potatoes. Cover 3 medium potatoes (cut into 1-inch pieces) with water. Boil on medium-high about 10 minutes or until tender. Drain, shake potatoes over low heat 1 minute to dry. Mash with a potato masher or fork. Mix in 1/3 cup 1 percent milk, 1/3 cup shredded Monterey Jack cheese, 1 teaspoon minced canned chipotle peppers in adobo sauce, 1 teaspoon ground cumin and 2 tablespoons chopped fresh cilantro. Season with coarse salt and pepper to taste.
Add green beans, a bibb lettuce salad and whole-grain rolls. Make triple chocolate sundaes for dessert. Warm leftover brownies, top with leftover chocolate ice cream and drizzle with fat-free chocolate syrup. Add a dollop of light whipped cream to close the deal.
Shopping list: Salmon to grill, potatoes to mash, 1 percent milk, Monterey Jack cheese, canned chipotle peppers in adobo sauce, cumin, fresh cilantro, coarse salt, pepper, green beans, bibb lettuce, whole-grain rolls, fat-free chocolate syrup, light whipped cream.
SPINACH-STUFFED CHICKEN BREASTS (Sunday)
Makes 4 servings
Preparation time: 25 minutes
Cooking time: 40 to 45 minutes; standing time: 5 minutes
5 teaspoons olive oil, divided
2 cloves minced garlic
1 cup fresh mushrooms, finely chopped
1/4 cup dry red wine
2 cups baby spinach, finely chopped
1 1/2 teaspoons Italian seasoning, divided
4 teaspoons minced kalamata olives
3 boneless skinless chicken breasts (about 1 1/2 pounds)
2 reduced-fat Colby Jack Snacks, cut into cubes (such as Sargento)
1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
4 lemon wedges for garnish
Heat oven to 350 degrees. Heat 2 teaspoons oil in a large ovenproof skillet on medium. Add garlic and mushrooms; cook 4 to 5 minutes or until mushrooms release moisture and pan is almost dry. Add wine; cook until most evaporates. Add spinach and 1/4 teaspoon Italian seasoning; cook 3 minutes or until moisture releases. Stir in olives; remove vegetables to a plate. Wipe skillet clean. Using a sharp boning knife, cut a pocket into the thickest part of each chicken breast. Cut as far as possible -- not all the way through! -- leaving at least 1/4 inch from edges. Spoon 2 heaping teaspoons of the vegetable mixture into pockets, then push cheese into breasts using your fingers. Secure with wooden picks to keep stuffing secure. Sprinkle chicken with the remaining seasoning and pepper.
Heat 3 teaspoons oil in the same skillet on medium-high; add chicken. Cook 4 to 6 minutes or until browned; turn and put skillet in oven. Bake 30 minutes or until internal temperature is 165 degrees. Remove skillet from oven and place chicken on cutting board. Let stand 5 minutes. Cut chicken diagonally; fan out on plate. Drizzle pan juices over chicken and serve with lemon wedges.
Per serving: 311 calories, 41g protein, 14g fat (41 percent calories from fat), 3.7g saturated fat, 3g carbohydrate, 117mg cholesterol, 388mg sodium, 1g fiber.
QUICK PAELLA (Wednesday)
Makes 4 servings
Preparation time: 10 minutes
Cooking time: About 10 minutes
2 tablespoons buttery spread (such as Smart Balance)
1 1/3 cups quick-cooking rice
1 small finely chopped onion
1 small finely chopped green bell pepper
2 cloves minced garlic
1 1/2 cups water
2 (8-ounce) cans no-salt-added tomato sauce
1 (6 1/2 -ounce) can drained minced clams
4 ounces frozen cooked salad shrimp, thawed
Pinch of saffron or ground turmeric
Chopped parsley for garnish
Melt spread in a large nonstick skillet on medium. Cook rice, onion, bell pepper and garlic in spread, stirring occasionally, until rice is light brown.
Stir in remaining ingredients. Heat to boiling; reduce heat. Simmer, uncovered, about 5 minutes or until rice is tender. Garnish with parsley.
Per serving: 281 calories, 16g protein, 6g fat (18 percent calories from fat), 1.3g saturated fat, 41g carbohydrate, 36mg cholesterol, 355mg sodium, 3g fiber.
BRUNSWICK STEW WITH SMOKED PAPRIKA (Thursday)
Makes 6 servings
Preparation time: 15 minutes
Cooking time: About 45 minutes
2 cups Yukon gold potatoes, cut into 3/4 -inch cubes
2 cups thinly sliced onion
2 cups frozen corn, thawed
1 cup frozen baby lima beans, thawed
1/2 cup no-salt-added tomato sauce
2 (14-ounce) cans fat-free chicken broth
2 slices bacon, cut crosswise into 1/2 -inch pieces
3 cups shredded cooked chicken breast
1/2 teaspoon smoked paprika
1/2 teaspoon coarse salt
1/4 teaspoon cayenne pepper
In a Dutch oven on medium-high, combine potatoes, onion, corn, lima beans, tomato sauce, broth and bacon; bring to boil. Reduce heat to low; simmer 30 minutes or until potatoes are tender, stirring occasionally. Stir in chicken, paprika, salt and pepper; simmer 15 minutes. (Adapted from Cooking Light magazine.)
Per serving: 316 calories, 29g protein, 7g fat (21 percent calories from fat), 2.2g saturated fat, 34g carbohydrate, 65mg cholesterol, 556mg sodium, 6g fiber.