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story.lead_photo.caption Walnut Rice With Cream Cheese, Mushrooms and Spinach (Courtesy of USA Rice)

A week's worth of quick, healthful meals for budget-minded families

SUNDAY: Prepare your own flank steak for family day. Serve the thinly sliced beef alongside Walnut Rice With Cream Cheese, Mushrooms and Spinach (see recipe). Steam fresh broccoli and offer sourdough bread on the side. For dessert, strawberry ice cream is good.

Plan ahead: Save enough beef and rice for Monday; save enough ice cream for Thursday.

MONDAY: Beef Rolls-Ups are easy. Cut the leftover beef into strips, heat and place on a warmed whole-grain flour tortilla. Top with deli coleslaw and roll. Serve the roll-ups with the leftover rice dish. Pineapple chunks are good for dessert.

TUESDAY: Try these no-meat Fennel-Stuffed Potatoes (see recipe) for dinner tonight. Green beans add more color to the plate. A spinach salad with egg wedges and whole-grain rolls round out the meal. How about instant chocolate pudding and a dollop of whipped cream for dessert?

WEDNESDAY: Linguine With Tomatoes and Artichokes (see recipe) is a money-stretcher. Serve it with a mixed green salad and garlic bread. Plums are dessert.

THURSDAY: Kids are usually in the mood for Chicken Fingers. Heat oven to 400 degrees. Pour ½ cup low-fat buttermilk into a medium bowl. Add 1 pound chicken tenders. Cover and refrigerate 15 minutes. In a resealable plastic bag, place ½ cup crushed corn flakes, ¼ cup Italian seasoned breadcrumbs, ½ teaspoon garlic powder, ½ teaspoon dried oregano and ¼ teaspoon black pepper. Drain chicken (discarding buttermilk); add to bag and shake to coat. On a rimmed baking sheet coated with cooking spray, arrange chicken. Coat chicken with spray. Bake 4 minutes on each side or until cooked through (165 degrees). Serve with honey mustard sauce. On the side, munch on carrot sticks. Leftover ice cream makes a good dessert.

FRIDAY: Take it easy tonight and enjoy deli egg salad on a bed of mixed greens. Sprinkle with chopped fresh dill. Enjoy tomato basil soup and bread sticks on the side. For dessert, peanut butter cookies add a sweet touch.

SATURDAY: Treat your guests to Tuna With Pesto. Heat 1 teaspoon olive oil in a large skillet over medium. Add 2 medium sliced green onions; cook 2 to 3 minutes or until softened. Stir in ½ cup pesto and 2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice. Top with 1 pound (¾-inch thick) fresh tuna, cut into 4 pieces. Allow skillet to heat back up, then reduce heat to low. Cover and cook 5 to 7 minutes or until desired doneness. Serve with angel hair pasta tossed with olive oil and freshly grated parmesan cheese. Add a Boston lettuce salad and crusty rolls. For dessert, Baked Pears will wow any guest: Heat oven to 350 degrees. Drain 1 (28-ounce) can pear halves; pat dry with paper towels. Place pears, cut side down, in a pie plate coated with cooking spray. Drizzle ¼ cup caramel topping over pears. Bake 8 to 10 minutes or until warm. Transfer pears to serving dishes; spoon warm topping over pears and sprinkle with cinnamon. Add a little vanilla ice cream to each dish to take it up a notch.


Walnut Rice With Cream Cheese, Mushrooms and Spinach

2 tablespoons butter

2 cups sliced cremini mushrooms

3 ounces reduced-fat cream cheese, cubed

3 cups cooked rice

2 cups torn fresh spinach

½ cup grated parmesan cheese

½ cup chopped walnuts

¼ teaspoon coarse salt

¼ teaspoon pepper

Melt butter in a large skillet on medium heat. Add mushrooms; cook 4 minutes or until softened. Add cream cheese; stir until melted. Reduce heat to medium-low. Add rice; stir 4 minutes or until well-blended and heated through. In a large bowl, combine rice mixture, spinach, parmesan, walnuts, salt and pepper; toss well to mix. Serve.

Makes 6 servings.

Nutrition information: Each serving contains approximately 273 calories, 9 g protein, 16 g fat, 25 g carbohydrate, 26 mg cholesterol, 287 mg sodium and 1 g fiber.

Carbohydrate choices: 1.5.

Stuffed Potatoes With Fennel and Pine Nuts

2 large baking potatoes, about 1 ½ pounds total

1 tablespoon olive oil, plus more for brushing potatoes

1 ½ cups chopped fennel (½-inch pieces)

½ cup chopped onion

1 clove garlic, minced

½ cup chopped zucchini (¼-inch pieces)

2 tablespoons chopped pine nuts

1 tablespoon chopped fresh basil

Coarse salt to taste

¼ cup unsalted vegetable broth

2 teaspoons chopped fennel fronds (greens)

¼ teaspoon ground black pepper

5 tablespoons shredded Swiss cheese, divided use

Heat oven to 400 degrees. Scrub potatoes; pierce skin in several places. Bake them about 1 hour; cool.

Meanwhile, in a medium skillet, heat oil on medium-high. Add fennel, onion and garlic; cook, stirring, 2 minutes or until softened. Add the zucchini and cook, stirring, 1 minute longer. Stir in the chopped pine nuts and basil. Remove from heat; set aside.

When the potatoes are cool, cut in half lengthwise. Scoop out the potato pulp, leaving ¼ inch of flesh on the skin. Brush the insides of the potato shells lightly with olive oil and season with salt, if desired; set aside.

In a medium bowl, place 1 cup potato pulp. Add broth, fennel fronds and pepper. Mash until almost smooth. Stir in reserved vegetables and 3 tablespoons cheese.

Divide the filling mixture into the 4 prepared potato shells. Heat in the oven 20 more minutes or until heated through. Remove from oven and sprinkle with remaining cheese.

Makes 4 servings.

Nutrition information: Each serving contains approximately 237 calories, 8 g protein, 8 g fat, 37 g carbohydrate, 3 mg cholesterol, 53 mg sodium and 4 g fiber.

Carbohydrate choices: 2.5.

Linguine With Tomatoes and Artichokes

8 ounces linguine

1 teaspoon olive oil

1 ½ teaspoons minced garlic

1 (14 ½-ounce) can chopped Italian-style tomatoes, lightly drained

1 (12-ounce) jar marinated quartered artichokes

Crumbled Greek feta cheese for garnish

Cook linguine according to package directions; drain.

Meanwhile, heat oil in large skillet over medium. Add garlic; cook about 1 minute. Stir in tomatoes; cook 5 minutes, stirring occasionally. Drain artichokes; reserve ¼ cup marinade. Add artichokes to tomato mixture; cook 2 minutes. Stir in ¼ cup water and reserved marinade. Reduce heat to low; cover and simmer 5 minutes or until mixture is hot and bubbly. Spoon linguine into a warmed serving bowl. Add tomato-artichoke mixture; toss to coat. Garnish with cheese. Serve immediately.

Makes 4 servings.

Nutrition information: Each serving contains approximately 304 calories, 8 g protein, 8 g fat, 53 g carbohydrate, no cholesterol, 425 mg sodium and 5 g fiber.

Carbohydrate choices: 3.5.

Susan Nicholson is an Atlanta-based cookbook author and registered dietitian. She can be reached by email:

[email protected]

Food on 01/08/2020

Print Headline: 7-day menu planner

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