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7-Day Menu Planner

by Susan Nicholson | April 14, 2021 at 1:57 a.m.
Clafoutis of Cherries Amandine (HMH/Tom Hopkins)

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

SUNDAY: These Dijon Steak Kebabs make a delicious meal for family day. In a small bowl, combine 2 tablespoons water, 2 tablespoons red wine vinegar, 2 tablespoons coarse-grain Dijon mustard, 2 cloves minced garlic, 2 teaspoons canola oil and ½ teaspoon coarsely ground black pepper. Place the marinade and 1 pound boneless beef round tip steak (1 inch thick, cut into 1 ½-inch pieces) in a resealable plastic bag. Turn to coat. Refrigerate 6 to 24 hours. Remove beef, discard marinade and pat beef dry. Thread beef on 4 metal skewers; grill 8 to 10 minutes for medium-rare to medium doneness. Serve the kebabs over packaged long grain and wild rice. Steam some fresh broccoli, and add a mixed green salad and whole-grain rolls to your meal. Clafoutis of Cherries Amandine for dessert (see recipe) is extra-special and absolutely delicious.

MONDAY: Chicken, Tomato and Barley Stew (see recipe) is just right for a low-cost, flavorful meal. Serve with a lettuce wedge and whole-grain bread. For dessert, try fresh pineapple chunks.

Plan ahead: Save enough of the chicken stew for Tuesday.

TUESDAY: Use Monday's leftovers for Stuffed Peppers. Core, cover and microwave any color bell peppers upside down in a baking dish, 1 minute on high for each pepper. Heat the leftover chicken stew and stuff the peppers. Top with crumbled Greek feta cheese. Serve with buttered noodles, green beans and crusty rolls. Apple slices are your dessert.

WEDNESDAY: Skip meat tonight for Vegetable Curry (see recipe). Serve it with basmati rice, a spinach salad and bread sticks. For an easy dessert, enjoy red and green grapes.

THURSDAY: Chicken Taco Pie is just right for the kids tonight. Heat oven to 400 degrees. Coat a 10-inch glass pie plate with cooking spray. Combine 2 cups cooked diced chicken, ½ cup finely chopped onion and 2 tablespoons taco seasoning mix (from packet). Scatter in pie plate. Mix together 1 cup baking mix (such as Bisquick), 1 cup milk and 2 eggs with a fork until blended. Pour into pie plate. Bake 30 to 35 minutes or until knife inserted in center comes out clean. Sprinkle with 1 cup shredded cheddar cheese; bake 1 to 2 minutes longer or until cheese melts. Garnish with chopped lettuce, diced tomatoes and sour cream. Serve with steamed carrots. Plums are your dessert.

FRIDAY: Tuscan Tomato Soup hits the spot for a quick meal. In a food processor or blender, combine 1 (24- to 26-ounce) jar marinara sauce, 1 (15- to 19-ounce) can cannellini beans (rinsed), 1 (7-ounce) jar drained roasted red peppers, 2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil and 1 clove garlic; process until smooth. Pour into a medium saucepan; add 1 ¾ cups unsalted chicken broth. Bring to a simmer. Remove from heat; stir in ¼ cup fresh basil leaves (cut into strips) and serve. Add a deli egg salad sandwich on whole-grain bread with lettuce. Munch on oatmeal cookies for dessert.

SATURDAY: Your family will enjoy Coriander-Crusted Pork Tenderloin. Heat oven to 425 degrees. Spread Dijon mustard over a (1- to 1 ¼-pound) pork tenderloin. Sprinkle with 1 tablespoon crushed coriander seeds, 1 teaspoon crushed black peppercorns and ½ teaspoon coarse salt, pressing into the mustard. Bake 20 minutes in a foil-lined roasting pan or until internal temperature reaches 150 degrees. Remove from oven; tent with foil and let stand 5 minutes before slicing. Serve with brown rice tossed with toasted walnuts and golden raisins, fresh asparagus, a Boston lettuce salad and sourdough bread. A slice of chocolate layer cake is a fine finish.

THE RECIPES

Clafoutis of Cherries Amandine

  • 1 (20-ounce) bag frozen pitted cherries (or about 1 ½ pounds fresh, pitted)
  • 2/3 cup cherry preserves
  • 1 cup unskinned almonds
  • ½ cup granulated sugar
  • 1 tablespoon cornstarch
  • 2 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted
  • 2 eggs
  • 2 tablespoons dark rum
  • Confectioners' sugar for dusting

Heat oven to 375 degrees. Place the cherries in a gratin dish (about 1 ½ inches deep and 10 inches in diameter). Add the preserves, mix and set aside.

For the frangipane (pastry): Place almonds, sugar and cornstarch in a food processor and process to a powder. Add melted butter, eggs and rum; process for a few seconds until well mixed.

Pour the frangipane mixture over the cherries; mix gently. Place dish on a cookie sheet and bake 40 minutes or until top is browned and custard is cooked through. Allow to cool to lukewarm. Dust with confectioners' sugar and serve. (Adapted from "Jacques Pepin Quick & Simple")

Makes 8 servings.

Nutrition information: Each serving contains approximately 311 calories, 6 g protein, 14 g fat, 42 g carbohydrate, 54 mg cholesterol, 23 mg sodium and 3 g fiber.

Carbohydrate choices: 3.

■ ■ ■

Chicken, Tomato and Barley Stew

  • 1 (26-ounce) jar marinara sauce
  • 2 tablespoons red wine vinegar
  • 1 teaspoon cumin
  • ½ teaspoon cinnamon
  • 2 pounds bone-in skinless chicken thighs, well trimmed
  • ¾ cup quick-cooking barley
  • 2 cups unsalted chicken broth
  • 2/3 cup finely chopped onion
  • ½ cup raisins
  • 2 medium fresh zucchini, diced

In a 4-quart or larger slow cooker, stir marinara sauce, vinegar, cumin and cinnamon together. Mix in chicken, barley, broth, onion and raisins. Cover and cook on low 4 to 5 hours. Stir in zucchini, turn cooker to high and cook 30 minutes or until zucchini is tender.

Makes 6 servings.

Nutrition information: Each serving contains approximately 333 calories, 26 g protein, 10 g fat, 36 g carbohydrate, 77 mg cholesterol, 191 mg sodium and 4 g fiber.

Carbohydrate choices: 2.5.

■ ■ ■

Vegetable Curry

  • 1 (14-ounce) can light coconut milk
  • ¼ cup all-purpose flour
  • 3/4 to 1 ½ tablespoons red curry paste (see note)
  • 1 medium onion, chopped
  • 8 ounces Yukon gold potatoes, cut into 1-inch pieces
  • 4 cups butternut squash, cut into 1- to 1 ½-inch chunks
  • 4 cups cauliflower florets
  • 1 (15-ounce) can chickpeas, rinsed
  • 1 red bell pepper, cut into 1-inch pieces
  • 1 cup frozen green peas, thawed
  • Chopped fresh cilantro for garnish

In a small bowl, whisk together coconut milk, flour, ½ cup water and curry paste; set aside. In a 4-quart or larger slow cooker, add all ingredients except green peas and cilantro; mix well. Pour coconut milk mixture over all. Cover and cook 4 to 5 hours on low or until vegetables are tender. Stir in peas and cilantro and cook 2 more minutes. Serve warm.

Makes 6 servings.

Note: For tender mouths, use less curry paste.

Nutrition information: Each serving (prepared with reduced-sodium chickpeas) contains approximately 235 calories, 8 g protein, 5 g fat, 43 g carbohydrate, no cholesterol, 297 mg sodium and 8 g fiber.

Carbohydrate choices: 3.

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

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