SUNDAY (family) -- Our family thought grilled monterey chicken (see recipe) was super-delicious. Serve it with potato salad, coleslaw and crusty rolls for a wonderful summer meal. Buy a Boston cream pie for dessert.
Plan ahead: Save enough chicken breast, coleslaw and pie for Monday.
Shopping list: Dijon mustard, honey, coarse salt, pepper, boneless skinless chicken breasts, bacon, pepper jack cheese, red onion, limes, potato salad, coleslaw, crusty rolls, Boston cream pie.
MONDAY (Heat and eat) -- 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.
TUESDAY (Meatless) -- 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. Add 2 cloves sliced garlic and 1/2 cup roughly chopped walnuts; 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.
Add a spinach salad and italian bread. Strawberry ice cream is dessert.
Shopping list: Fresh or frozen cheese ravioli, olive oil, garlic, walnuts, asparagus, Parmesan cheese, fresh spinach, Italian bread, strawberry ice cream.
WEDNESDAY (Express) -- Stay cool with a quick meal of tuna stuffed avocados. Buy tuna salad from the deli and spoon into ripe halved avocados (see tip). Add a bowl of gazpacho along with sesame bread sticks. Enjoy fresh tropical fruit for dessert.
Tip: Sprinkle avocados with lemon juice to prevent darkening.
SHOPPING LIST: Deli tuna salad, avocados, lemon, gazpacho, sesame bread sticks, tropical fruit.
THURSDAY (Budget) -- 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, carrots, garlic, unsalted chicken broth, canned no-salt-added tomato sauce, Italian seasoning, ditalini pasta, canned reduced-sodium cannellini beans, diced ham, coarse salt, pepper, Parmesan cheese, lettuce, whole-grain bread, fresh blueberries.
FRIDAY (Kids) -- 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 (or similar) cereal. Spoon 2 cups rinsed reduced-sodium pinto beans (from 19-ounce can) over cereal. Sprinkle with 1 cup shredded 50 percent light cheddar cheese. 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 (or similar) cereal, canned reduced-sodium pinto beans, 50 percent light cheddar cheese, mild salsa, reduced-fat sour cream, guacamole, lettuce, peaches.
SATURDAY (Easy entertaining) -- 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, coarse salt, pepper, allspice, cooking spray, Parmesan cheese, fresh parsley (if desired), green beans, romaine, crusty rolls, fruit tarts.
Grilled monterey chicken
Servings: Makes 5 servings
Preparation time: 25 minutes; chilling time: 30 to 60 minutes
Cooking time: About 10-13 minutes; standing time: 5-10 minutes
1/2 cup Dijon mustard
1/4 cup honey
1/2 teaspoon coarse salt
1/2 teaspoon pepper
5 (6- to 8-ounce) boneless skinless chicken breasts, trimmed
4 slices bacon, cut into 1/2-inch pieces
6 ounces (1 1/2 cups) shredded pepper jack cheese
4 slices red onion (1/2 inch thick)
In a medium bowl, whisk together the mustard, honey, salt and pepper. Reserve 1/4 cup mixture for basting. Transfer remaining honey mustard mixture to large resealable plastic bag. Working with one breast at a time, starting on thick side, cut chicken in half horizontally, stopping 1/2 inch from edge so halves remain attached. Open breast like a book, creating single flat piece. Place chicken in bag with honey mustard mixture, toss to coat and refrigerate 30-60 minutes. Meanwhile, cook bacon on medium 5-7 minutes. Using slotted spoon, transfer bacon to paper-towel-lined plate. Reserve bacon fat. Once cool, toss bacon with pepper jack. Remove chicken, discard marinade. Grill chicken on hotter side of grill 5-6 minutes per side or until meat thermometer inserted into thickest part registers 165 degrees. Push toothpick through onion; brush lightly with bacon fat. Grill 5 minutes or until tender. Brush chicken with reserved honey mustard. Remove onions from grill; remove toothpicks. Divide onion rings over 4 breasts. Divide bacon-cheese mixture over onions. Cover and cook until cheese is melted. Transfer to platter; tent with foil for 5-10 minutes. Serve with lime wedges. (Adapted from "The Chicken Bible," America's Test Kitchen.)
Per servings: 392 calories, 49 grams protein, 18 grams fat (41 percent calories from fat), 7.9 grams saturated fat, 8 grams carbohydrate, 162 milligrams cholesterol, 637 milligrams sodium, 1 gram fiber.
Servings: Makes 9 cups
Preparation time: 10 minutes
Cooking time: About 15 minutes
1 tablespoon olive oil
1 cup sliced carrots
2 cups plus 2 tablespoons water, divided
3 cloves garlic, minced
2 1/2 cups unsalted chicken broth
1 (8-ounce) can no-salt-added tomato sauce
1 teaspoon Italian seasoning
8 ounces uncooked ditalini pasta
2 (15-ounce) cans rinsed reduced-sodium cannellini beans
4 ounces diced ham
1/8 teaspoon coarse salt
1/4 teaspoon pepper
Freshly grated Parmesan cheese for garnish
Heat oil in a Dutch oven on medium high. Microwave carrots with 2 tablespoons water for 3 minutes on high (100 percent power); drain and set aside. Add garlic to Dutch oven; cook 1 minute. Stir in broth, 2 cups water, tomato sauce and Italian seasoning. Bring to a boil. Add pasta and carrots; simmer 10 minutes, stirring occasionally. Stir in beans, ham, salt and pepper. Heat through. Garnish with cheese and serve. (Adapted from Family Circle magazine.)
Per cup: 218 calories, 10 grams protein, 3 grams fat (13 percent calories from fat), 0.5 gram saturated fat, 36 grams carbohydrate, 7 milligrams cholesterol, 408 milligrams sodium, 5 grams fiber.
Sweet onion casserole
Servings: 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 coarse salt
1/4 teaspoon freshly ground pepper
1/8 teaspoon allspice
1/3 cup freshly grated Parmesan cheese
2 tablespoons chopped fresh parsley, if desired
Heat oven to 325 degrees. Heat oil in a large nonstick skillet on medium. Add onions; 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.
Per serving: 153 calories, 7 grams protein, 6 grams fat (33 percent calories from fat), 2.1 grams saturated fat, 18 grams carbohydrate, 10 milligrams cholesterol, 145 milligrams sodium, 2 grams fiber.
Susan Nicholson is an Atlanta-based cookbook author and registered dietitian. She can be reached by email: [email protected]