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SUNDAY: Family Easter

Gather the family for an Easter celebration with roast leg of lamb on the menu. Heat oven to 425 degrees. Mix together 1/4 cup white vinegar, 11/2 teaspoons coarse salt, 1 teaspoon pepper and 1 teaspoon dry mustard. Rub all over one (4- to 5-pound) well-trimmed, bone-in leg of lamb. Place in a shallow roasting pan on a rack. Bake 45 minutes; reduce temperature to 375 degrees and bake 20 minutes or until thermometer inserted in thickest part registers 155 degrees. Remove from oven; let stand 20 minutes before slicing.

Serve the lamb with rosemary roasted potatoes, onions and baby carrots, a romaine salad and dinner rolls. For dessert, no-bake raspberry lemon thyme tartlets (see recipe) couldn't be easier.

PLAN AHEAD: Save enough lamb and tartlets and prepare extra vegetables for Monday.

TIP: For the vegetables, heat oven to 425 degrees; spread cut-up potatoes, onions and baby carrots on a baking sheet covered with nonstick foil. Sprinkle with fresh chopped rosemary, salt and pepper to taste, and drizzle with olive oil. Bake 30 minutes or until vegetables are tender.

SHOPPING LIST: white vinegar, coarse salt, pepper, dry mustard, bone-in leg of lamb, fresh rosemary, potatoes, onions and baby carrots to roast, olive oil, romaine, dinner rolls, seedless raspberry jam, fresh thyme, packaged mini phyllo shells, lemon pie filling or lemon curd, fresh raspberries.

MONDAY: Heat and eat

Make lamb sandwiches with Sunday's leftovers. Spread goat cheese on whole-grain bread and layer lamb slices and drained roasted red peppers over it. Top with second slice of bread. Alongside, heat the leftover rosemary vegetables. Leftover tartlets make an easy dessert.

SHOPPING LIST: goat cheese, whole-grain bread, roasted red peppers.

TUESDAY: Express cooking

We had tortellini soup on the table in no time: Bring 8 cups chicken broth to a boil. Add 2 teaspoons canola oil to broth and about 1 pound frozen cheese tortellini; boil 10-12 minutes. Add 1-11/2 cups cooked chopped chicken breast (or canned chicken breast) and 10 ounces fresh baby spinach. Heat through and serve.

Add a packaged green salad and bread sticks. Try sliced kiwis for dessert.

SHOPPING LIST: chicken broth, canola oil, frozen cheese tortellini, cooked chopped or canned chicken breast, fresh baby spinach, packaged green salad, bread sticks, kiwis.

WEDNESDAY: Kids favorite

Watch the children lap up grilled chicken "pizza." Coat both sides of 10 (8-inch) tortillas with cooking spray; place on a baking sheet. Broil until slightly toasted; turn and toast other side. Heat oven to 350 degrees. In a medium bowl, combine one (10-ounce) can drained mild no-salt-added diced tomatoes and green chilies and one (16-ounce) can vegetarian refried beans. On each of five tortillas, spread 1/4 cup tomato-bean mixture. Top with 2 tablespoons (1 cup total) cooked chopped chicken breast and 1/4 cup (21/2 cups total) shredded 50 percent light cheddar cheese, then another tortilla. Repeat layering, ending with cheese. Bake 20 minutes or until heated through. Top with lettuce and chopped red bell pepper.

For dessert, top vanilla ice cream with warmed butterscotch sauce.

SHOPPING LIST: tortillas, cooking spray, canned mild no-salt-added diced tomatoes and green chilies, canned vegetarian refried beans, cooked chicken breast, shredded 50 percent light cheddar cheese, lettuce, red bell pepper, vanilla ice cream, butterscotch sauce.

THURSDAY: Budget dining

We all love low-cost and delicious food, and brown rice with Canadian bacon and apples is a good example. In a medium saucepan, combine 1 cup apple juice, 11/4 cups water, one cored, peeled and diced Golden Delicious apple, 1/4 cup raisins, 1 tablespoon butter, 1/4 teaspoon coarse salt and 1/4 teaspoon pepper. Bring to a boil; add 1 cup uncooked brown rice and sliced white part of four green onions, reserving green parts. Return to boiling. Reduce heat, cover and simmer 30-45 minutes or until rice is tender and liquid is absorbed. Remove from heat; stir in 6 ounces chopped Canadian bacon and sliced green part of green onions. Cover and let stand 5 minutes.

Add a spinach salad and rye bread. Plums are dessert.

TIP: Soak and cook beans for Friday, if time permits.

SHOPPING LIST: apple juice, Golden Delicious apple, raisins, butter, coarse salt, pepper, brown rice, green onions, Canadian bacon, fresh spinach, rye bread, plums.

FRIDAY: Meatless meal

How about slow-cooker black bean and corn soup (see recipe) for a no-meat dinner? Serve it with a lettuce and tomato salad and whole-grain rolls. For dessert, chunky applesauce is easy.

SHOPPING LIST: dry black beans, frozen whole-kernel corn, onion, garlic, cumin, coarse salt, ground coriander, hot pepper sauce, canned stewed tomatoes, medium salsa, lettuce, tomatoes, whole-grain rolls, chunky applesauce.

SATURDAY: Family entertaining

A French friend gave me this recipe for chicken Provencal (see recipe), and it's a keeper.

Serve it with baked mashed potatoes: Heat oven to 425 degrees. Prepare mashed potatoes using 1 percent milk and reduced-fat sour cream for the liquid. Spoon into a baking dish and top with shredded 50 percent light cheddar cheese. Bake 5 minutes or until cheese is melted.

Add tiny green peas (from frozen) with fresh sliced mushrooms and a mixed green salad. For dessert, serve orange sections with Grand Marnier. (Toss peeled, sectioned oranges with a little orange-flavored liqueur. Serve topped with shaved semisweet chocolate.)

TIPS: Make the potatoes a day ahead and reheat in the microwave on high (100 percent power), 1 minute per cup of potatoes. Add the cheese and broil until cheese melts. Make the chicken a day ahead for flavors to blend.

SHOPPING LIST: olive oil, coarse salt, whole black peppercorns, dry red wine, fresh rosemary, bone-in skinless chicken legs and thighs, garlic, light brown sugar, tomato paste, potatoes to mash, 1 percent milk, reduced-fat sour cream, 50 percent light cheddar cheese, frozen tiny green peas, fresh mushrooms, mixed greens, oranges, Grand Marnier or other orange-flavored liqueur, semisweet chocolate.

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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Makes: 15 mini tartlets

Preparation time: about 10 minutes

3 tablespoons seedless raspberry jam

1/4 teaspoon minced fresh thyme leaves

1 (1.9-ounce) package mini phyllo shells

1/2 cup lemon pie filling or lemon curd

15 fresh raspberries

Additional fresh thyme leaves for garnish

In a small bowl, combine jam and thyme leaves. Arrange phyllo shells on serving platter. Divide jam evenly among shells. Top with pie filling or lemon curd and a raspberry. Garnish with thyme leaves. Refrigerate until serving time.

Per serving: 40 calories, no protein, 1 gram fat (24 percent calories from fat), no saturated fat, 8 grams carbohydrate, no cholesterol, 23 milligrams sodium, no fiber. Carb count: 0.5.


Makes: 8 servings

Preparation time: 10 minutes

Cooking time: beans: 10 minutes, standing time: 1 hour; soup: 8-10 hours on low, 4-5 hours on high

1 pound dry black beans

1 (10-ounce) package frozen whole-kernel corn

1 large onion, chopped

4 cloves garlic, minced

1 tablespoon cumin

1 teaspoon coarse salt

1 teaspoon ground coriander

1/4 to 1/2 teaspoon hot pepper sauce

4 cups boiling water

1 (14 1/2-ounce) can stewed tomatoes, with liquid

2 cups medium salsa

Rinse beans; place in large saucepan. Add enough water to cover by 2 inches. Bring to a boil; reduce heat. Simmer, uncovered, 10 minutes. Remove from heat. Cover; let stand 1 hour. Drain and rinse beans. In a 4-quart or larger slow cooker, combine the beans, corn, onion, garlic, cumin, salt, coriander and hot pepper sauce. Pour boiling water over all. Cover and cook on low for 8-10 hours or on high 4-5 hours. To serve, mash beans slightly to thicken. Stir in tomatoes with liquid. Serve with salsa on the side.

Per serving: 271 calories, 13 grams protein, 1 gram fat (2 percent calories from fat), no saturated fat, 52 grams carbohydrate, no cholesterol, 868 milligrams sodium, 7 grams fiber. Carb count: 3.5.


Makes: 8 servings

Preparation time: 10 minutes

Cooking time: about 1 hour; standing time: 30 minutes

3 tablespoons olive oil

1 teaspoon coarse salt

2 teaspoons whole black peppercorns

1 (25-ounce) bottle dry red wine, divided

6 sprigs fresh rosemary

6 bone-in skinless chicken legs

6 bone-in skinless chicken thighs, trimmed

8 to 10 whole cloves garlic

2 to 3 tablespoons light brown sugar

3 tablespoons tomato paste

Heat oil in Dutch oven on low for 2 minutes or until warm. Sprinkle with salt, peppercorns, 1 cup wine and the rosemary. Place chicken in pan; increase heat to medium and cook 5 minutes. Turn and cook 5 more minutes. Add garlic and remaining wine. Bring to a simmer and cook 45-50 minutes, partially covered. Meanwhile, in a small bowl, combine brown sugar and tomato paste; mix well. Stir into pan and bring to a boil; remove from heat and cover. Let stand 30 minutes to develop flavors. Serve immediately (with pan sauce) or refrigerate until the next day.

Per serving: 508 calories, 57 grams protein, 24 grams fat (44 percent calories from fat), 5.8 grams saturated fat, 5 grams carbohydrate, 309 milligrams cholesterol, 481 milligrams sodium, no fiber. Carb count: 0.5.

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