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7-DAY MEAL PLANNER: Grilled Monterrey chicken

by By Susan Nicholson Andrews McMeel Syndication | August 3, 2022 at 4:00 a.m.
Courtesy of America’s Test Kitchen

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)

Lime wedges

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.

Pasta fagioli

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]

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