7 Day Menu Planner: Heart-shaped brownies perfect for Valentine’s Day

Gwynn Galvin, SwirlsOfFlavor.com
Gwynn Galvin, SwirlsOfFlavor.com

SUNDAY (Family) -- There's hardly anything easier to prepare than a baked turkey breast. Serve it with your macaroni and cheese, stirring in a drained can of diced tomatoes with green chiles to perk up the flavor. Alongside, add a spinach salad and whole-grain rolls. For dessert, buy a boston cream pie.

PLAN AHEAD: Save enough turkey and Boston cream pie for Monday.

SHOPPING LIST: turkey breast to bake, ingredients for macaroni and cheese, canned diced tomatoes with green chiles, fresh spinach, whole-grain rolls, Boston cream pie.

MONDAY (Heat and Eat) -- Use the leftover turkey for turkey melts: Place four slices toasted whole-grain bread on a baking sheet. Divide 8 teaspoons grainy mustard and spread on bread. Top each bread slice with two slices turkey; divide slices from one apple and 1 cup shredded cheddar cheese among sandwiches. Broil 6 inches from heat source until cheese melts. Serve with brown rice and a romaine salad. Slice the leftover Boston cream pie for dessert.

SHOPPING LIST: whole-grain bread, grainy mustard, apple, shredded cheddar cheese, brown rice, romaine.

TUESDAY (Kids) -- Use a packet of seasoning mix and ground beef to make sloppy Joes; serve the mixture over whole-grain hamburger buns. Add oven fries (from frozen) and carrot and celery sticks. Peaches make a good dessert.

SHOPPING LIST: sloppy Joe seasoning mix, ground beef, whole-grain hamburger buns, frozen oven fries, carrots, celery, peaches.

WEDNESDAY (Easy Entertaining) -- Expect a new tiara when your cupcake swoons over maple-mustard pork tenderloin and pears: Cut one (1-pound) pork tenderloin into 8 medallions. In a small bowl, mix together 2 tablespoons honey mustard, 2 teaspoons lemon juice and 2 tablespoons maple syrup. Heat 2 teaspoons canola oil in a large nonstick skillet on medium-high. Add pork; cook 4-5 minutes, turning once. Add maple-mustard sauce and two firm pears (cored and cut into 8 wedges each). Cook 2 more minutes or until pears are tender.

Spoon medallions, pears and sauce over mashed sweet potaotes. Add tiny green peas (from frozen), a bibb lettuce salad and dinner rolls. For a sweet finish, heart-shaped brownies (see recipe) are perfect.

SHOPPING LIST: pork tenderloin, honey mustard, lemon, maple syrup, canola oil, pears, mashed sweet potatoes, frozen tiny green peas, Bibb lettuce, dinner rolls, cooking spray, butter, sugar, unsweetened cocoa powder, eggs, vanilla extract, flour, salt.

PLAN AHEAD: Save enough brownies for Friday.

THURSDAY (Meatless) -- Tonight's grilled three-cheese sandwiches are easy and full of flavor: Coat one side of dense white bread with cooking spray and place coated side down on a heated skillet or grill. Sprinkle with coarsely shredded Asiago, sliced part-skim mozzarella and sliced fontina cheeses. Top with another slice of bread and coat top with cooking spray. Grill, pressing down with spatula, until bread is golden and cheese is melted, turning once. Repeat for each sandwich.

Serve with any creamy lower-sodium tomato soup and a spinach salad. For a light dessert, try chunky applesauce.

SHOPPING LIST: dense white bread, cooking spray, Asiago cheese, part-skim mozzarella cheese, fontina cheese, any creamy lower-sodium tomato soup, fresh spinach, chunky applesauce.

FRIDAY (Budget) -- For a low-cost meal, this southwest chicken skillet (see recipe) is just right. Serve it with a lettuce wedge and extra tortillas. For dessert, enjoy orange sections.

SHOPPING LIST: canola oil, chicken tenders, frozen broccoli, red bell pepper, onion and mushrooms or similar vegetable combination, canned reduced-sodium black beans, chunky salsa, flour tortillas, shredded 50 percent light cheddar cheese, reduced-fat sour cream, lettuce, oranges.

SATURDAY (Easy Entertaining) -- Invite guests for a special meal of scampi with fettuccine (see recipe). Add a mixed green salad and garlic bread. For dessert, serve raspberry sorbet with butter cookies.

SHOPPING LIST: fettuccine, olive oil, uncooked medium shelled and deveined shrimp, green onions, garlic, fresh basil, parsley, lemon, coarse salt, mixed greens, garlic bread, raspberry sorbet, butter cookies.


The recipes

Heart-shaped brownies


Servings: makes 15 heart-shaped brownies

Preparation time: 20 minutes

Cooking time: 25 minutes; cooling time 10 minutes


12 tablespoons butter

1¼ cups sugar

¾ cup unsweetened cocoa powder

3 large eggs

2 teaspoons vanilla extract

⅔ cup flour

½ teaspoon salt

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Line a 7-by-11-inch baking pan with foil, leaving a 2-inch foil overhang; spray with cooking spray. In a microwave-safe bowl, melt butter. Stir in sugar and cocoa powder until blended. Add eggs and vanilla; stir until combined. Stir in flour and salt until a brownie batter forms. Spread batter in prepared pan and bake 25 minutes or until toothpick inserted in center comes out with moist crumbs. Cool 10 minutes in pan. Using foil overhang, lift brownies out of pan and cool completely on wire rack. Using a 2-inch heart-shaped cookie cutter, cut out brownie hearts. Turn heart cutter upside down every other heart to get the most brownie heart cut-outs. (Recipe by Gwynn Galvin, SwirlsOfFlavor.com.)

Per brownie: 200 calories, 3 grams protein, 11 grams fat (47 percent calories from fat), 6.2 grams saturated fat, 24 grams carbohydrate, 62 milligrams cholesterol, 165 milligrams sodium, 1 gram fiber.

Carb count: 1.5.


Southwest chicken skillet (Friday)

Servings: makes 5 servings

Preparation time: less than 15 minutes

Cooking time: less than 15 minutes


1 tablespoon canola oil

1 pound chicken tenders, cut into 1-inch pieces

1 (16-ounce) package frozen broccoli, red pepper, onion and mushrooms, or similar combination

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

1 cup chunky salsa

1 (8-inch) flour tortilla, cut into 2-by-1-inch strips (see note)

1 cup shredded 50 percent light cheddar cheese

Reduced-fat sour cream for garnish

Heat oil in a large nonstick skillet on medium-high. Cook chicken 3-4 minutes or until no longer pink. Stir in vegetables, beans and salsa; reduce heat to medium. Cover and cook 6-8 minutes, stirring occasionally, or until vegetables are softened. Sprinkle with tortilla strips and cheese. Cover and cook 2 minutes or until cheese is melted. Serve and garnish with sour cream.

Note: For crispy tortillas strips, bake at 425 degrees for 4 to 7 minutes or until crisp.

Per serving: 317 calories, 33 grams protein, 10 grams fat (28 percent calories from fat), 3.1 grams saturated fat, 21 grams carbohydrate, 78 milligrams cholesterol, 623 milligrams sodium, 6 grams fiber.

Carb count: 1.5.


Scampi with fettuccine (Saturday)

Servings: makes 4 servings

Preparation time: 15 minutes

Cooking time: about 5 minutes plus pasta


8 ounces fettuccine

2 tablespoons olive oil

1½ pounds uncooked medium shrimp, shelled, deveined and tails removed

2 medium green onions, thinly sliced

2 cloves garlic, minced

2 tablespoons chopped fresh basil

1 tablespoon chopped fresh parsley

2 tablespoons lemon juice

¼ teaspoon coarse salt

Cook and drain fettuccine according to directions. Meanwhile, in a large nonstick skillet, heat oil on medium. Cook remaining ingredients in oil 2-3 minutes, stirring frequently until shrimp are pink. Remove from heat; toss fettuccine and shrimp together in skillet. Serve warm.

Per serving: 424 calories, 42 grams protein, 9 grams fat (18 percent calories from fat), 1.2 grams saturated fat, 45 grams carbohydrate, 274 milligrams cholesterol, 330 milligrams sodium, 2 grams fiber.

Carb count: 3.

Susan Nicholson is an Atlanta-based cookbook author and registered dietitian. She can be reached by email: [email protected]. The Menu Planner is also accessible at 7daymenuplanner.com.