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story.lead_photo.caption Courtesy of American Pecans

SUNDAY: Family night

The wonderful aromas of apple and spice pork loin roast (see recipe) will draw the family to the table in no time.

A perfect side dish is roasted sweet potatoes: Heat oven to 400 degrees. Scrub and halve sweet potatoes lengthwise; place in baking dish, cut side up. Drizzle with extra-virgin olive oil, chopped fresh thyme, coarse salt and pepper to taste. Bake 35-45 minutes or until golden-brown and tender.

Add frozen green peas and dinner rolls alongside. For dessert, top gingerbread with molasses cream. Mix 1 cup any frozen whipped topping (thawed) with 2 tablespoons molasses and spoon over the gingerbread.

PLAN AHEAD: Save enough pork and gingerbread for Monday.

SHOPPING LIST: unsweetened applesauce, brown sugar, cider vinegar, prepared mustard, ground cloves, flour, coarse salt, sugar, garlic powder, pepper, boneless pork loin roast, sweet potatoes to roast, extra-virgin olive oil, fresh thyme, frozen green peas, dinner rolls, gingerbread, frozen whipped topping, molasses.

MONDAY: Heat and eat

Use the Sunday leftovers for baked pork and sauerkraut. Heat oven to 350 degrees. Rinse and drain 2 pounds refrigerated sauerkraut and spoon into a 2-quart baking dish coated with cooking spray. Stir in 1 teaspoon caraway seeds. Top with sliced cooked (leftover) pork. Cover tightly with foil. Bake 25 minutes or until hot. Serve with mashed potatoes, deli carrot salad and rye bread. Dessert is leftover gingerbread.

PLAN AHEAD: Buy enough carrot salad for Wednesday.

SHOPPING LIST: refrigerated sauerkraut, cooking spray, caraway seeds, potatoes to mash, deli carrot salad, rye bread.

TUESDAY: Meatless meal

Make dinner a light one tonight with penne with spinach and olives (see recipe). Add a lettuce wedge and garlic bread. Peaches are a simple dessert.

SHOPPING LIST: penne or other tube-shaped pasta, extra-virgin olive oil, balsamic vinegar, garlic, fresh spinach, kalamata olives, capers, Greek feta cheese with tomato and basil (or plain), lettuce, garlic bread, peaches.

WEDNESDAY: Express cooking

Look for any packaged frozen Philly cheesesteaks and follow the directions. Add O'Brien potatoes (from frozen) and leftover carrot salad. Try plums for dessert.

SHOPPING LIST: packaged frozen Philly cheesesteaks, frozen O'Brien potatoes, plums.

THURSDAY: Thanksgiving

Enjoy all the family favorites, including turkey, dressing, gravy, mashed potatoes, green beans and cranberry sauce, as you gather for Thanksgiving. For dessert, pecan pie is classic and is always welcome (see recipe), especially when topped with light whipped cream.

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

SHOPPING LIST: ingredients for your turkey, dressing, gravy, mashed potatoes, green beans, cranberry sauce, refrigerated pie crust, unsalted butter, light corn syrup, light brown sugar, pure vanilla extract, eggs, granulated salt, pecan halves, light whipped cream.

FRIDAY: Budget cooking

Use some of the Thanksgiving leftovers for cranberry-ancho turkey sandwiches. For one sandwich: Toast two slices sourdough bread. Spread 2 tablespoons reduced-fat cream cheese on the toast. Spread both sides with 1/4 cup leftover cranberry sauce. Top one slice with sliced (leftover) turkey; sprinkle with ancho chili powder and add romaine. Cover with other toast slice and cut on diagonal.

Serve with baked chips and celery sticks. For dessert, lighten up with fresh pineapple chunks.

SHOPPING LIST: sourdough bread, reduced-fat cream cheese, ancho chili powder, romaine, baked chips, celery sticks, fresh pineapple.

SATURDAY: Entertain the family

Entertain the family with grilled burgers and onions for a change of pace from the holiday eat-a-thons. Grill the (lean ground beef) burgers 13-15 minutes for medium. Grill thick (1/2-inch) slices of Vidalia onions (or other sweet onions) 10-12 minutes or until tender. Before grilling, brush onions with canola oil and season burgers and onions with coarse salt and pepper.

Serve the burgers and onions on grilled whole-grain buns along with sliced tomatoes and lettuce and roasted red potatoes on the side. For dessert, leftover pie is as easy as it gets.

SHOPPING LIST: lean ground beef, Vidalia or other sweet onions, canola oil, coarse salt, pepper, whole-grain buns, tomatoes, lettuce, red potatoes.

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. Order yours on Amazon.com today!

Apple and spice pork loin roast (Sunday)

Makes: 12 servings (using a 3-pound roast)

Preparation time: 15 minutes

Cooking time: about 50-55 minutes; standing time: 5 minutes

1 cup unsweetened applesauce

1/3 cup packed brown sugar

2 teaspoons cider vinegar

1 teaspoon prepared mustard

1/4 teaspoon ground cloves

1 tablespoon flour

1/2 teaspoon coarse salt

1/4 teaspoon sugar

1/8 teaspoon garlic powder

1/8 teaspoon pepper

1 (3- to 4-pound) well-trimmed boneless pork loin roast

Heat oven to 350 degrees. Mix together applesauce, brown sugar, vinegar, mustard and cloves; refrigerate half of mixture and set aside the remainder. In a small bowl, combine flour, salt, sugar, garlic powder and pepper. Rub flour mixture evenly over entire surface of pork. Place pork on rack in shallow roasting pan. Roast 40 minutes, uncovered, or until internal temperature is 135 degrees. Spoon reserved applesauce mixture over pork. Continue roasting until internal temperature reaches 145 degrees (8-12 minutes). Transfer roast to cutting board; cover with foil and let stand for five minutes before slicing. In a small pan, heat refrigerated applesauce mixture to a boil; boil one minute. Spoon heated applesauce mixture over pork slices and serve.

Per serving: 201 calories, 23 grams protein, 8 grams fat (35 percent calories from fat), 2.8 grams saturated fat, 9 grams carbohydrate, 64 milligrams cholesterol, 133 milligrams sodium, no fiber. Carb choices: 0.5.

Penne with spinach and olives (Tuesday)

Makes: 6 servings

Preparation time: 10 minutes

Cooking time: for the pasta

12 ounces penne or other tube-shaped pasta

2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil

1 tablespoon balsamic vinegar

3 cloves garlic, crushed

2 cups chopped fresh spinach

1/4 cup kalamata olives (pitted, chopped)

2 tablespoons rinsed capers

1 (3.5-ounce) package (about 3/4 cup) crumbled Greek feta cheese with tomatoes and basil (or plain)

Cook pasta according to directions. Meanwhile, in a large bowl, combine oil, vinegar and garlic; mix and let stand while pasta cooks. Add cooked pasta, spinach, olives, capers and feta; toss and serve.

Per serving: 309 calories, 11 grams protein, 9 grams fat (27 percent calories from fat), 2.2 grams saturated fat, 45 grams carbohydrate, 5 milligrams cholesterol, 415 milligrams sodium, 2 grams fiber. Carb choices: 3.

Pecan pie (Thursday)

Makes: 10 servings

Preparation time: 20 minutes

Cooking time: 60-70 minutes

1 (9-inch) refrigerated pie crust

6 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted and cooled

1 cup light corn syrup

1 cup light brown sugar

2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract

3 eggs, lightly beaten

1/2 teaspoon granulated salt

2 1/2 cups pecan halves

Place baking sheet in oven. Heat oven to 350 degrees. Arrange crust in pie pan according to directions; set aside. In a large bowl, whisk together butter, corn syrup, brown sugar and vanilla. Add eggs and salt; whisk until mixture is even. Fold in pecan halves. Pour mixture into pie crust and spread evenly with spatula. Gently cover edges of crust with aluminum foil. Place pie pan on preheated baking sheet and bake 60-70 minutes or until pie is set in center. Remove foil for browning 10 minutes before pie is done. Remove pie; allow to cool completely before serving.

Per serving: 526 calories, 5 grams protein, 32 grams fat (52 percent calories from fat), 8.7 grams saturated fat, 62 grams carbohydrate, 77 milligrams cholesterol, 277 milligrams sodium, 2 grams fiber. Carb choices: 4.

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