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7 Day Menu Planner: Lemon pepper chicken thighs perfect family dinner

by Andrews McMeel Syndication | June 7, 2023 at 4:00 a.m.
Gwynn Galvin,

SUNDAY (Family) -- Prepare lemon pepper chicken thighs for family day (see recipe). Accompany the juicy chicken with mashed potatoes and roasted brussels sprouts garnished with crumbled bacon. Add dinner rolls. For dessert, coconut macaroons and orange sherbet are a perfect combination.

PLAN AHEAD: Cook extra chicken for Monday and save enough sherbet for Friday.

SHOPPING LIST: lemon, butter, lemon pepper seasoning, skinless bone-in chicken thighs, potatoes to mash, Brussels sprouts, bacon, dinner rolls, coconut macaroons, orange sherbet.

MONDAY (Heat and Eat) -- Cheesy chicken enchiladas makes good use of leftovers. Heat oven to 350 degrees. In a large bowl, combine 2 to 2½ cups shredded leftover chicken, 8 ounces shredded reduced-fat Mexican-blend cheese, 1⅔ cups plain low-fat yogurt, ¼ cup melted butter, ¼ cup chopped onion, 1 teaspoon minced garlic, ¼ teaspoon freshly ground black pepper, 1 (10¾-ounce) can condensed reduced-fat cream of chicken soup and 1 (4-ounce) can chopped green chiles (drained). Reserve 1 cup chicken mixture. Place about ½ cup remaining mixture in each of 8 whole-grain flour tortillas; roll. Place seam side down in a 9-by-13-inch baking dish coated with cooking spray. Spread reserved 1 cup chicken mixture over top. Cover; bake 20 minutes. Uncover; sprinkle with ½ cup shredded 50 percent light sharp cheddar cheese and ¼ cup sliced green onions. Bake 5 more minutes or until cheese melts.

Serve the creamy dish with a lettuce wedge. Enjoy blueberries for dessert.

SHOPPING LIST: shredded reduced-fat Mexican-blend cheese, plain low-fat yogurt, butter, onion, garlic, black pepper, condensed reduced-fat cream of chicken soup, chopped green chiles, whole-grain flour tortillas, cooking spray, shredded 50 percent light sharp cheddar cheese, green onions, lettuce, blueberries.

TUESDAY (Meatless) -- Cannellini beans with sauteed fennel and tomatoes (see recipe) is a delicious no-meat dish. Serve with tomato basil soup. Add crusty bread on the side. How about mango chunks for dessert?

SHOPPING LIST: extra-virgin olive oil, grape tomatoes, coarse salt, black pepper, fennel bulb, garlic, crushed red pepper, reduced-sodium cannellini beans, fresh basil, Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese, tomato basil soup, crusty bread, mangoes.

WEDNESDAY (Budget) -- Red beans and rice keeps the food budget in line. In a 4-quart or larger slow cooker, combine 1 pound dried red kidney beans (picked over), ½ pound andouille smoked chicken sausage (thinly sliced), 3 sliced celery ribs, 1 chopped green bell pepper, 1 chopped medium onion, 3 minced cloves garlic, 1 tablespoon Creole seasoning and 7 cups hot water. Cover and cook on high 7 hours or until beans are tender. Spoon over brown rice and garnish with sliced green onions.

Serve with coleslaw and a baguette. For dessert, banana pudding (from mix) made with 1 percent milk will taste good.

SHOPPING LIST: dried red kidney beans, andouille smoked chicken sausage, celery, green bell pepper, onion, garlic, Creole seasoning, brown rice, green onions, coleslaw, baguette, banana pudding mix, 1 percent milk.

THURSDAY (Express) -- This is a hot time of year for a cool summer salad platter. Arrange pickled beets, marinated vegetables, deli potato-and-chicken salad on a platter lined with lettuce. Serve with whole-grain bread. Juicy peaches are a delicious summertime dessert.

SHOPPING LIST: pickled beets, marinated vegetables, deli potato-and-chicken salad, lettuce, whole-grain bread, fresh peaches.

FRIDAY (Kids) -- Treat the kids (and the adults!) with these turkey burgers. In a medium bowl, combine 1⅓ pounds ground turkey, 2 chopped green onions, 2 tablespoons white wine and herb chicken marinade, ½ teaspoon garlic powder, 1 teaspoon pepper. Divide into 5 (4-inch) patties. Heat a cast-iron skillet on medium-high. Cook patties 5-7 minutes per side or until no longer pink in the center.

Serve on whole-grain buns with sliced tomatoes, sliced avocados, lettuce and low-fat mayonnaise. Add oven fries (from frozen) and steamed carrots. Scoop the leftover sherbet for dessert.

SHOPPING LIST: ground turkey, green onions, white wine and herb chicken marinade, garlic powder, pepper, whole-grain buns, tomatoes, avocados, lettuce, low-fat mayonnaise, frozen oven fries, carrots.

SATURDAY (Easy Entertaining) -- Invite friends for shrimp piccata (see recipe). Serve it over rice. Add sugar snap peas, a red-tipped lettuce salad and sourdough bread.

Easy and elegant, tropical crepes are an impressive dessert. Combine 3 cups sliced assorted fresh fruit (such as mangoes, papayas, kiwis and peaches) with 2 tablespoons apricot or peach preserves and 2 tablespoons orange brandy or almond liqueur. Let stand 30 minutes to several hours. To assemble, spread ¼ cup of fruit mixture on each of several ready-to-eat crepes; roll. Spoon chocolate sauce over the crepes. Serve immediately.

TIP: Look for the crepes in the produce department. Instead of brandy, you can use 2 teaspoons brandy extract mixed with 2 tablespoons water.

SHOPPING LIST: flour, no-salt-added lemon-pepper blend, cleaned and deveined uncooked medium or large shrimp (tails on), olive oil, garlic, dry white wine, unsalted chicken broth, lemons, capers, butter, parsley, rice, sugar snap peas, red-tipped lettuce, sourdough bread, assorted fresh fruit (such as mangoes, papayas, kiwis, peaches), apricot or peach preserves, orange brandy or almond liqueur or brandy extract, ready-to-eat crepes, chocolate sauce.


Lemon pepper chicken thighs (Sunday)

Servings: makes 4 servings

Preparation time: 15 minutes

Cooking time: 30 minutes


1 lemon

4 tablespoons butter at room temperature

1 tablespoon lemon pepper seasoning

4 bone-in skinless chicken thighs

Preheat oven to 425 degrees. Cut the lemon in half crosswise. Cut one half of the lemon into 4 slices; place the slices on the bottom of a 2-quart baking dish. Cut the other half of the lemon into 4 wedges and set aside. In a small bowl, combine the butter and lemon pepper seasoning; stir until blended. Spread the butter mixture on both sides of the chicken thighs and arrange the chicken in a single layer on top of the lemon slices. Roast for 30 minutes or until internal temperature reaches 165 degrees, basting occasionally with the buttery sauce that forms on the bottom of the baking dish. Remove from oven and let chicken rest for about 5 minutes. Season with salt, if desired, and serve with the reserved lemon wedges. (Adapted from

Per serving: 282 calories, 29 grams protein, 18 grams fat (57 percent calories from fat), 8.9 grams saturated fat, no carbohydrate, 171 milligrams cholesterol, 233 milligrams sodium, no fiber.

Carb count: 0.

Cannellini beans with sauteed fennel and tomoatoes (Tuesday)

Servings: makes 4 servings

Preparation time: 20 minutes

Cooking time: 30 minutes


3 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil, divided

1 pint grape tomatoes

Coarse salt to taste

Freshly ground black pepper to taste

1 (1½-pound) fennel bulb

1 clove garlic, grated

Pinch crushed red pepper

2 (16-ounce) cans reduced-sodium cannellini beans, rinsed

4 tablespoons chopped fresh basil, divided

½ cup freshly grated Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese, divided

Heat a medium skillet on medium-high. Add 1 tablespoon oil and tomatoes; cook 5 minutes, shaking the pan, until tomatoes are blistered and beginning to brown. Add salt and a generous grinding of pepper; set aside. Meanwhile, cut a thin slice from base of fennel. Remove any blemishes. Remove dark green stalks, but reserve enough fernlike tops to make ¼ cup chopped. Cut the bulb and white part of stalks into ¼-inch slices, then into ¼-inch pieces (about 3 cups). Heat remaining 2 tablespoons oil in a large skillet on medium. Add fennel, chopped fennel fronds, garlic and crushed red pepper. Cook, stirring constantly, for 5 minutes. Cover and continue cooking on low 15 minutes or until fennel is very soft. Add the beans, blistered tomatoes, 2 tablespoons basil and more black pepper. Cook, gently folding to combine, on medium-low heat for 5 minutes or until heated through. Add ¼ cup of the grated cheese. Spoon into serving dish; top with remaining basil and cheese.

Per serving: 384 calories, 15 grams protein, 15 grams fat (33 percent calories from fat), 3.1 grams saturated fat, 51 grams carbohydrate, 9 milligrams cholesterol, 952 milligrams sodium, 15 grams fiber.

Carb count: 3.5.

Shrimp picatta (Saturday)

Servings: makes 4 servings

Preparation time: 15 minutes

Cooking time: fewer than 10 minutes


3 tablespoons flour

1 teaspoon no-salt-added lemon-pepper blend

1 pound cleaned and deveined uncooked medium or large shrimp (tails on)

1 tablespoon olive oil

2 cloves garlic, minced

½ cup dry white wine

½ cup unsalted chicken broth

3 tablespoons lemon juice

2 tablespoons capers

2 tablespoons butter

1 tablespoon chopped parsley

Combine flour and pepper blend in a shallow dish. Toss shrimp in mixture until coated. Heat oil in a large nonstick skillet on medium. Add shrimp and cook 2-3 minutes; turn and cook 1 more minute. Remove shrimp to a plate. Add garlic to skillet and cook 30 seconds. Stir in wine, broth, lemon juice and capers. Bring to a simmer. Add shrimp and cook 1 minute or until heated through. Remove from heat; whisk in butter and stir in parsley. Serve immediately.

Per serving: 226 calories, 24 grams protein, 10 grams fat (38 percent calories from fat), 4.3 grams saturated fat, 6 grams carbohydrate, 198 milligrams cholesterol, 318 milligrams sodium, no fiber.

Carb count: 0.5.

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.

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