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7-DAY MENU PLANNER: Spice up Thanksgiving with cayenne sweet potatoes

by Andrews McMeel Syndication | November 16, 2022 at 4:00 a.m.
Shadow Mountain/Ty Mecham

SUNDAY: Family day

Aromatic and delicious, mustard pork chops with smashed potatoes and peas (see recipe) will be a family favorite. Serve the combination with green beans, mixed greens and whole-grain rolls. For dessert, have some strawberry ice cream.

SHOPPING LIST: red potatoes, frozen green peas, green onions, olive oil, coarse salt, pepper, boneless pork chops, dry white wine or unsalted chicken broth, Dijon mustard, green beans, mixed greens, whole-grain rolls, strawberry ice cream.

MONDAY: Meatless meal

Try this veggie chili (see recipe) for an easy, delicious no-meat dinner. Serve it with a lettuce wedge with blue cheese crumbles and cornbread (from mix). Fresh pineapple spears are a simple dessert.

PLAN AHEAD: Save enough chili for Tuesday.

SHOPPING LIST: canola oil, carrots, onion, packet less-sodium chili seasoning, no-salt-added tomato sauce, no-salt-added V-8, no-salt-added or regular fire-roasted diced tomatoes, reduced-sodium black beans, great Northern beans, zucchini, yellow squash, frozen whole-kernel corn, fresh cilantro, low-fat sour cream, green onions, shredded 50 percent light sharp cheddar cheese, tomatoes, lettuce, blue cheese crumbles, cornbread mix, fresh pineapple.

TUESDAY: Kids favorite

Let the children help you make chili tacos from the leftover chili for a kid-friendly meal. Serve with pinto beans, shredded lettuce and diced avocado to round out the meal. Peaches work for dessert.

SHOPPING LIST: taco shells, pinto beans, lettuce, avocado, peaches.

WEDNESDAY: Budget cooking

For a low-cost dinner, enjoy rotini with caramelized onions and broccoli: Heat 2 tablespoons olive oil in a large nonstick skillet on medium. Add two large onions (cut into 1/2-inch-thick slices); cook 12 minutes or until browned. Add 1 cup water and 2 teaspoons dried tarragon; cook 5-7 minutes or until most of the liquid has evaporated. Meanwhile, cook 12 ounces rotini pasta according to directions; add 5 cups fresh broccoli florets 3 minutes before the end of cooking time. Drain broccoli and pasta and return to pot. Add onion mixture to pot along with two (3/4-ounce) wedges light sun-dried-tomato-and-basil cheese; stir until cheese is melted and well blended. Season with coarse salt and pepper to taste. Drizzle with more oil if desired.

Serve with a romaine salad with egg slices and whole-grain bread. Grapes are your dessert.

SHOPPING LIST: olive oil, onions, dried tarragon, rotini pasta, fresh broccoli, light sun-dried-tomato-and-basil cheese, coarse salt, pepper, romaine, eggs, whole-grain bread, grapes.

THURSDAY: Family day

Celebrate Thanksgiving with the family with the traditional turkey, these spicy maple sweet potatoes with cinnamon pepitas (see recipe), tiny green peas with pearl onions (from frozen) and this home-style cranberry sauce: Mix 1 cup water and 1 cup sugar in medium saucepan; bring to a boil on medium-high heat. Add one (12-ounce) package rinsed and drained fresh cranberries, 1/2 teaspoon cinnamon and 1/2 teaspoon orange zest; return to a boil. Reduce heat to medium-low; simmer, stirring occasionally, 10 minutes or until cranberries burst and sauce begins to thicken. Remove from heat; stir in 1/2 teaspoon pure vanilla extract. Cool to room temperature. Cover; refrigerate until ready to serve.

Add dinner rolls. Finish the feast with a small piece of pumpkin pie topped with light whipped cream.

PLAN AHEAD: Save enough turkey for Friday and enough pie for Saturday.

TIP: Cranberry sauce can be made a week ahead. Refrigerate; stir before serving.

SHOPPING LIST: turkey, pure maple syrup, cinnamon, cayenne pepper, hulled pumpkin seeds (pepitas), olive oil, sweet potatoes, shallot or red onion, coarse salt, unsalted chicken broth, sweet paprika, garlic powder, butter, frozen tiny green peas with pearl onions, sugar, fresh cranberries, cinnamon, orange, pure vanilla extract, dinner rolls, pumpkin pie, light whipped cream.

FRIDAY: Express cooking

Use the leftover turkey in turkey and bacon ranch pizza. Heat oven to 400 degrees. Coat a 10-by-15-inch cookie sheet with cooking spray. Unroll one (11-ounce) can refrigerated pizza dough on cookie sheet; starting at center, press dough into a 10-by-15-inch rectangle. Spread 1/2 cup ranch dressing over dough. Top with 2 cups chopped leftover turkey, four slices crisp cooked bacon (crumbled), 1/4 cup finely chopped onion, one large chopped plum tomato, 1 cup shredded 50 percent light cheddar cheese and 1 cup shredded part-skim mozzarella cheese. Bake 13-16 minutes or until crust is golden and cheese is melted. Cut into eight servings. Serve with carrot sticks. Enjoy plums for dessert.

SHOPPING LIST: cooking spray, refrigerated pizza dough, ranch dressing, bacon, onion, plum tomato, shredded 50% light cheddar cheese, shredded part-skim mozzarella cheese, carrots, plums.

SATURDAY: Heat and eat

For a change of pace, try stuffed baked potatoes tonight. Bake potatoes at 400 degrees until tender. Split and fill with your sauteed fresh spinach and some crumbled goat cheese. Sprinkle with toasted pecans. Serve with deli egg salad on a bed of red-tipped lettuce. Add whole-grain rolls. For dessert, slice the leftover pie.

SHOPPING LIST: potatoes to bake, fresh spinach, goat cheese, pecans, deli egg salad, red-tipped lettuce, whole-grain rolls.

Susan Nicholson is an Atlanta-based cookbook author and registered dietitian. She can be reached by email: [email protected] Follow Susan on Twitter: @7DayMenu. The Menu Planner is also accessible at Read Susan's blog:

And check out Susan's book! "7-Day Menu Planner for Dummies" is on shelves now. Order yours on today!

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Servings: makes 4 servings

Preparation time: 10 minutes

Cooking time: about 15 minutes, plus potatoes

1 pound medium red potatoes, cut into 1-inch pieces

1 (10-ounce) package frozen green peas

2 green onions, thinly sliced

2 tablespoons olive oil, divided

1/2 teaspoon coarse salt

1/4 teaspoon pepper

4 (5- or 6-ounce) boneless pork chops (about 3/4 inches thick)

3/4 cup dry white wine or unsalted chicken broth

2 tablespoons Dijon mustard

Cook potatoes in boiling water about 10-12 minutes. Add peas during the last 2 minutes of cooking. Drain and gently smash with the onions, 1 tablespoon oil, salt and pepper. Meanwhile, heat remaining oil in a large skillet on medium. Cook chops 4-6 minutes per side or until golden brown. Transfer to plates; keep warm. Add the broth or wine to skillet and simmer for 3 minutes, stirring to reduce by half. Whisk in mustard and spoon sauce over pork. Serve with potatoes and peas.

Per serving: 409 calories, 34 grams protein, 15 grams fat (33% calories from fat), 3.5 grams saturated fat, 30 grams carbohydrate, 75 milligrams cholesterol, 564 milligrams sodium, 6 grams fiber. Carb count: 2.


Servings: makes about 7 1/2 1-cup servings

Preparation time: 15 minutes

Cooking time: about 40 minutes

2 teaspoons canola oil

1 large carrot, chopped

1 medium onion, chopped

1 (1.25-ounce) packet less-sodium chili seasoning

1/2 cup no-salt-added tomato sauce

1 1/2 cups no-salt-added V-8

1 (14.5-ounce) can no-salt-added or regular fire-roasted diced tomatoes, with liquid

1 (15-ounce) can reduced-sodium black beans, rinsed

1 (15-ounce) can great Northern beans, rinsed

1 medium zucchini, diced

1 medium yellow squash, diced

1/2 cup frozen whole-kernel corn, thawed

Water as needed

Toppings: chopped fresh cilantro, low-fat sour cream, chopped green onions, shredded 50% light sharp cheddar cheese, chopped tomatoes.

Heat oil in a Dutch oven on medium. Add carrot and onion; cook 7 minutes. Stir in chili seasoning; cook 2 minutes. Stir in tomato sauce, V-8, tomatoes, both beans, both squash and corn. If too thick, add water as desired. Bring to a boil; cover and reduce heat to medium-low. Simmer, stirring occasionally, 30 minutes. Serve with desired toppings.

Per cup: 167 calories, 8 grams protein, 2 grams fat (10% calories from fat), no saturated fat, 30 grams carbohydrate, no cholesterol, 213 milligrams sodium, 6 grams fiber. Carb count: 2.


Servings: makes 8 servings

Preparation time: 20 minutes

Cooking time: Less than 25 minutes


1/4 cup pure maple syrup

1/2 teaspoon cinnamon

1/8 teaspoon cayenne pepper

1/2 cup hulled pumpkin seeds (pepitas)


3 tablespoons olive oil

4 medium sweet potatoes (about 2 1/2 pounds), peeled and cut into 1-inch pieces

1/4 cup finely diced shallot or red onion

1 teaspoon coarse salt

2/3 cup unsalted chicken broth

1/4 teaspoon sweet paprika

1/8 teaspoon cinnamon

1/8 teaspoon cayenne pepper

1/4 teaspoon garlic powder

3 tablespoons pure maple syrup

2 tablespoons butter

For pepitas: Line a baking sheet with parchment; set aside. In a small saucepan, combine syrup, cinnamon and cayenne over medium-high heat. Bring to a boil and add pepitas. Boil, stirring constantly 3-4 minutes or until syrup is almost gone and mixture is thick and getting darker in color. Remove from heat; pour glazed pepitas on prepared baking sheet. Working fast, spread seeds out in single layer using spatula or forks. Let cool completely, then break or chop into small clusters.

For potatoes: In a large nonstick skillet with lid, heat oil on medium-high. Add potatoes, shallot and salt; stir to coat with oil. Reduce heat to medium. Cook potatoes, stirring occasionally, about 5 minutes or until softened. Add broth to skillet; cover. Reduce heat to medium-low; cook 12-14 minutes until potatoes are tender but not falling apart. Meanwhile, combine paprika, cinnamon, cayenne pepper, garlic powder and syrup in bowl. Pour glaze over potatoes and gently stir to coat; cook for 1 minute. Add butter and stir to coat. Remove from heat. Serve potatoes while warm, topped with candied pepitas. (Adapted from "Delicious Gatherings," Tara Teaspoon, Shadow Mountain Publishing.)

Per serving: 280 calories, 5 grams protein, 12 grams fat (37% calories from fat), 3.3 grams saturated fat, 40 grams carbohydrate, 8 milligrams cholesterol, 348 milligrams sodium, 5 grams fiber. Carb count: 2.5.

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