7-DAY MENU PLANNER: Spicy Portuguese beef kebabs

Courtesy/Cattlemens Beef Board Spicy Portuguese beef kebabs

SUNDAY (Family) -- Gather the family for spicy Portuguese beef kebabs on family day. Cut beef top sirloin steak (1¼ inch thick) into 1¼-inch pieces. In a medium bowl, combine 2 tablespoons chopped fresh cilantro, 2 tablespoons olive oil, 2 teaspoons hot pepper sauce, 1 teaspoon minced garlic and ¼ to ½ teaspoon crushed red pepper (optional). Add beef; toss. Cut 1 large red bell pepper into 1-inch square pieces. Alternately thread beef and bell pepper pieces onto 6 10-inch skewers. Place kebabs on grill over medium ash-covered coals. Grill, covered, 8-10 minutes (9-11 minutes over medium heat on preheated gas grill) for medium-rare to medium doneness, turning once. Season with coarse salt to taste.

Serve over brown rice. Add steamed fresh green beans along with dinner rolls. Buy a carrot cake for dessert.

PLAN AHEAD: Buy enough beef for Monday and save enough cake for Tuesday.

SHOPPING LIST: beef top sirloin steak, cilantro, olive oil, hot pepper sauce, garlic, crushed red pepper, red bell pepper, coarse salt, brown rice, fresh green beans, dinner rolls, carrot cake.

MONDAY (Heat and Eat) -- Use the beef leftovers for hefty Italian beef sandwiches: Place four split hoagie buns on a cookie sheet and brush lightly with Italian salad dressing. Broil 1-2 minutes. In a small skillet over medium heat, pour 3 tablespoons of the salad dressing over 8 ounces thinly sliced beef and brush to coat; heat two minutes. Divide meat mixture among bottoms of buns. Add roasted red pepper strips, sliced artichoke hearts and sliced part-skim mozzarella cheese. Broil 2-3 minutes or until cheese is melted. Add tops and cut sandwiches in half.

Serve with a mixed green salad. Pears are dessert.

SHOPPING LIST: hoagie buns, Italian salad dressing, roasted red peppers, artichoke hearts, sliced part-skim mozzarella cheese, mixed greens, pears.

TUESDAY (Meatless) -- For a meatless meal, try flavor- and fiber-packed Moroccan vegetable stew with couscous (see recipe). Serve with sliced cucumbers in plain yogurt. Add flatbread. Leftover cake is waiting for dessert.

SHOPPING LIST: canola oil, zucchini, onion, carrots, garlic, unsalted vegetable broth, ground ginger, cumin, coriander, coarse salt, cinnamon, pepper, canned reduced-sodium chickpeas, canned stewed tomatoes, couscous, cucumbers, plain yogurt, flatbread.

WEDNESDAY (Express) -- Make it quick tonight with chili-cheese pierogies. In a 9-by-9-inch baking dish, combine any flavor (16.9-ounce) package frozen pierogies and ½ cup water. Cover and microwave on high (100 percent power) 5 minutes; mix well and drain. Spoon 1 (15-ounce) can turkey chili over pierogies. Cover and microwave on high 5 minutes or until hot. Sprinkle with shredded 50 percent reduced-fat cheddar cheese and let stand, covered, 3 minutes. Sprinkle with sliced green onions and serve.

Add a packaged rreen salad and crusty bread. Enjoy some crunchy apple slices for dessert.

PLAN AHEAD: To save time, assemble Thursday's baked spaghetti tonight.

SHOPPING LIST: frozen pierogies, canned turkey chili, shredded 50 percent reduced-fat cheddar cheese, green onions, packaged green salad, crusty bread, apples.

THURSDAY (Kids) -- Baked spaghetti's (see recipe) mild flavor is totally kid-friendly. Serve with a chopped lettuce salad and add garlic toast. Orange sections are dessert.

TIP: Adults might want to sprinkle crushed red pepper over their spaghetti.

SHOPPING LIST: spaghetti, butter, cooking spray, reduced-fat cottage cheese, Parmesan cheese, red pasta sauce with meat, shredded part-skim mozzarella cheese, lettuce, garlic toast, oranges.

FRIDAY (Budget) -- Chicken and vegetable udon soup (see recipe) is easy on the budget. Serve with sesame breadsticks. Add Asian pears for dessert.

SHOPPING LIST: Japanese-style udon noodles, canola oil, garlic, fresh ginger, chicken strips, unsalted chicken stock, carrots, less-sodium soy sauce, coarse salt, fresh snow peas, sliced fresh mushrooms, green onions, sesame breadsticks, Asian pears.

SATURDAY (Easy Entertaining) -- Everyone enjoyed this easy flounder with pesto entree. Heat oven to 400 degrees. Place 4 flounder fillets (4-6 ounces each), skin side down, on waxed paper. Divide 4 teaspoons basil pesto and spread on each fillet; sprinkle with ¼ teaspoon coarse salt. Starting at narrow end, roll fillets jelly-roll style. Place roll-ups seam side down in an 8-by-8-inch glass baking dish. Pour ¼ cup dry white wine (or unsalted chicken broth) over fillets and top with 4 chopped, seeded plum tomatoes. Cover and bake 18-20 minutes or until fish is opaque throughout. Sprinkle with chopped fresh parsley and serve with orzo tossed with additional pesto.

Add steamed carrots, a Boston lettuce salad and sourdough bread. Dessert is easy when you serve sorbet and butter cookies.

SHOPPING LIST: flounder fillets, pesto, coarse salt, dry white wine or unsalted chicken broth, plum tomatoes, fresh parsley, orzo, carrots, Boston lettuce, sourdough bread, sorbet, butter cookies.


Moroccan vegetable stew with couscous (Tuesday)

Servings: makes 6 servings

Preparation time: 20 minutes

Cooking time: about 15 minutes plus couscous


1 tablespoon canola oil

2 medium zucchini, coarsely chopped

1 medium onion, chopped

1 large carrot, chopped

1 tablespoon minced garlic

1 cup unsalted vegetable broth

1½ teaspoons ground ginger

1½ teaspoons cumin

¾ teaspoon ground coriander

½ teaspoon coarse salt

¼ teaspoon cinnamon

¼ teaspoon pepper

2 (15-ounce) cans reduced-sodium chickpeas, rinsed

1 (14½-ounce) can stewed tomatoes, with liquid

1½ cups water or additional unsalted vegetable broth

1 cup couscous

Heat oil in a large nonstick skillet on medium-high. Add zucchini, onion, carrot and garlic; cook 5 minutes. Stir in broth, ginger, cumin, coriander, salt, cinnamon, pepper, chickpeas and tomatoes with liquid; bring to a boil. Cover, reduce heat to low and simmer, stirring occasionally, 8 minutes or until vegetables are softened. Meanwhile, bring water (or broth) to a boil in medium pot. Remove from heat; add couscous. Cover and let stand 5 minutes. Fluff with fork. Serve stew over couscous.

Per serving: 293 calories, 12 grams protein, 5 grams fat (14 percent calories from fat), 0.3 gram saturated fat, 51 grams carbohydrate, no cholesterol, 707 milligrams sodium, 9 grams fiber.

Carb count: 3.5.


Baked spaghetti (Thursday)

Servings: makes 8 servings

Preparation time: 20 minutes

Cooking time: about 45 minutes, plus spaghetti; standing time: 10 minutes


8 ounces spaghetti

1 tablespoon butter

1 (24-ounce) carton reduced-fat cottage cheese

¾ cup freshly grated Parmesan cheese, divided

3 cups red pasta sauce with meat

4 ounces shredded part-skim mozzarella cheese (1 cup)

Heat oven to 400 degrees. Cook spaghetti according to directions; drain and mix with butter to coat. Meanwhile, coat a 9-by-13-inch baking dish with cooking spray. Arrange spaghetti in an even layer in dish. Spread cottage cheese over spaghetti. Sprinkle with ¼ cup Parmesan cheese. Heat pasta sauce until bubbly. Spoon sauce over cheeses. Top with mozzarella cheese and remaining Parmesan cheese. Cover with nonstick foil. Bake 30 minutes. Remove cover and bake 15 more minutes or until cheese is lightly browned. Let stand 10 minutes before serving.

Per serving: 307 calories, 20 grams protein, 10 grams fat (30 percent calories from fat), 4.6 grams saturated fat, 34 grams carbohydrate, 30 milligrams cholesterol, 851 milligrams sodium, 2 grams fiber.

Carb count: 2.5.


Chicken and vegetable udon soup (Friday)

Servings: makes 6 servings

Preparation time: 15 minutes

Cooking time: about 15 minutes


7 ounces Japanese-style udon noodles

1 tablespoon canola oil

1 teaspoon minced garlic

1 teaspoon minced fresh ginger

8 ounces chicken strips, cut into bite-size pieces

4 cups unsalted chicken stock or broth

1 cup diced carrots

2 tablespoons less-sodium soy sauce

¼ teaspoon coarse salt

1½ cups julienned fresh snow peas

½ cup sliced fresh mushrooms

2 tablespoons thinly sliced green onions

Cook noodles as directed on package. Drain well. Meanwhile, heat oil in large saucepan on medium-high heat. Add garlic and ginger; cook for 1 minute or until fragrant. Add chicken; cook 3 to 5 minutes or until chicken is no longer pink. Add stock, carrots, soy sauce and salt. Bring to a boil. Reduce heat and simmer for 5 minutes or until carrots are tender-crisp. Stir in snow peas and mushrooms; cook for 2 minutes or until snow peas are tender-crisp. Divide noodles into 6 soup bowls. Ladle soup into each bowl and garnish with green onions.

Per serving: 218 calories, 15 grams protein, 4 grams fat (19 percent calories from fat), 0.4 gram saturated fat, 28 grams carbohydrate, 28 grams cholesterol, 710 milligrams sodium, 3 grams fiber.

Carb count: 2.

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 7daymenuplanner.com. Read Susan's blog: makingthemenu.com. And check out Susan's book! "7-Day Menu Planner for Dummies" is on shelves now.