Prepare a large (5- to 6-pound) baked chicken for the family and serve with garlic pepper mashed potatoes. Cover 2 1/4 pounds baking potatoes with cold water. Bring to boil; reduce heat to low; cover and simmer 10 to 15 minutes or until potatoes are fork tender. Drain and return to pan. Sprinkle with 1 teaspoon garlic powder, 1 teaspoon coarse salt and 1/4 teaspoon pepper. Mash with potato masher, gradually adding 1/2 cup 2 percent milk and 1/2 cup reduced-fat sour cream. Add fresh broccoli florets, a lettuce wedge and dinner rolls. Cool off with lime sherbet for dessert. Plan ahead: Save enough chicken and mashed potatoes for Monday; save enough sherbet for Friday.
MONDAY (Heat and Eat)
Pesto chicken and rice salad with tuscan relish is simple and delicious (see recipe). Add leftover potatoes, mixed greens and whole-grain bread. Fresh cherries are a summertime treat.
Make meatball tacos for kid fare tonight. Cook frozen meatballs according to directions. Dice and heat them in canned taco sauce. Spoon into heated taco shells. Top with reduced-fat sour cream and 50 percent light shredded cheddar cheese. Serve with buttered noodles (no-yolk) and green beans. Banana pudding (instant banana pudding made with 2 percent milk and sliced bananas) is a tasty kids’ dessert.
Buy deli tuna salad and make a tuna platter on leaf lettuce with tomato wedges, hard-cooked egg slices and pickled beets surrounding the tuna. Sprinkle all with paprika. Serve with Italian dressing. Add baked potato chips and whole-wheat pita bread. Strawberry ice cream is a good dessert.
Catfish is economical and takes to bold seasonings such as in this oven-fried catfish (see recipe). Serve with O’Brien potatoes (frozen), deli coleslaw and cornbread (from a mix). You’ll love nectarines for dessert.
Buy a frozen no-meat lasagna for dinner. Serve with an antipasto salad. Arrange marinated artichoke hearts, roasted red peppers, olives, sliced celery and cherry tomatoes on lettuce. Serve with Italian dressing. Add garlic bread. Scoop leftover sherbet for dessert.
SATURDAY (Easy Entertaining)
Invite guests for delicious Cajun pecan pork chops (see recipe). Serve with roasted sweet potato wedges, fresh snow peas, a spinach salad and sourdough bread. Buy a cheesecake and top with fresh berries (any kind) for dessert.
Pesto Chicken And Rice Salad With Tuscan Relish
Yield: 6 servings
12 sun-dried tomatoes
2 cups hot water
3 cups cooked brown or long-grain white rice
3 cups cooked leftover shredded chicken (in 2-inch pieces)
1/2 cup basil pesto
1 cup provolone cheese, cut into 1/4-inch pieces
1/4 cup balsamic vinaigrette dressing
Coarse salt and pepper to taste
Place tomatoes in a 2-quart saucepan. Pour hot water over tomatoes; let stand 10 minutes or until softened. Drain and coarsely chop. Set aside. In a large bowl, combine rice, chicken and pesto. In a medium bowl, combine tomatoes, cheese and vinaigrette; add to rice mixture. Toss well. Season to taste with salt and pepper.
Per serving: 451 calories, 32 grams protein, 23 grams fat (46 percent calories from fat), 6.1 grams saturated fat, 29 grams carbohydrate, 78 milligrams cholesterol, 497 milligrams sodium, 3 grams fiber.
Yield: 4 servings
1/2 cup light or nonalcoholic beer
1/2 cup hot sauce
4 (6-ounce) catfish fillets
1/2 cup yellow cornmeal
2 tablespoons cornstarch
1/8 teaspoon coarse salt
1/8 teaspoon pepper
Combine the beer, hot sauce and catfish in a large resealable plastic bag; turn to coat. Marinate in the refrigerator for 30 minutes. Remove fish and discard marinade. Heat oven to 450 degrees. In a shallow dish, combine cornmeal, cornstarch, salt and pepper. Coat fish in cornmeal mixture. Lightly coat catfish with cooking spray. Place fillets on baking sheet lined with nonstick foil; bake 15 minutes or until fish is opaque throughout.
Per serving: 229 calories, 29 grams protein, 5 grams fat (20 percent calories from fat), 1.3 grams saturated fat, 16 grams carbohydrate, 99 milligrams cholesterol, 132 milligrams sodium, 1 gram fiber. Carb count: 1.
Cajun Pecan Pork Chops
Yield: 6 servings
1/2 cup pecan halves, toasted
1/2 cup plain dry bread crumbs
1/4 teaspoon coarse salt
1/2 teaspoon paprika
1/4 teaspoon dried oregano
1/4 teaspoon cayenne pepper
1/4 cup flour
1/2 cup buttermilk
6 (5- to 6-ounce) lean boneless pork loin chops
Heat oven to 425 degrees. Process pecans, bread crumbs, salt, paprika, oregano and cayenne pepper in a blender until pecans are finely chopped. Place flour, buttermilk and pecan mixture into three separate shallow containers. Coat pork chops in flour, dip in buttermilk, then coat in pecan mixture. Chill 1 hour. Arrange pork on a rack coated with cooking spray. Place rack in a 9-by-13-inch baking dish. Coat pork evenly with cooking spray. Bake 10 minutes. Turn; coat pork with cooking spray. Bake 5 more minutes or until chops reach 145 degrees; let stand 4 minutes and serve.
Per serving: 307 calories, 31 grams protein, 15 grams fat (46 percent calories from fat), 4.1 grams saturated fat, 10 grams carbohydrate, 81 milligrams cholesterol, 206 milligrams sodium, 1 gram fiber.