Make family day special with spiced pork loin. Heat oven to 350 degrees. Place 1 (2-pound) boneless pork loin roast on a rack in a shallow pan. Bake 20 minutes per pound or until internal temperature reaches 145 degrees. Meanwhile, mix together 1 tablespoon reduced-sodium soy sauce, 1 teaspoon minced garlic, 2 teaspoons grated fresh ginger, 1 1/2 teaspoons dark (toasted) sesame oil, 1 teaspoon five-spice powder and 1/4 teaspoon cayenne pepper. Spread spice mixture on top of roast the last 15 minutes of baking. Remove from oven, tent with foil, and let stand 5 minutes before slicing. Serve with rice tossed with chopped peanuts and chopped fresh cilantro. Add snow peas and whole-grain rolls. Buy a berry cobbler for dessert. Plan ahead: Save enough pork, rice and cobbler for Monday.
MONDAY (Heat and Eat)
Use the leftover pork for pork ‘n’ slaw-stuffed pitas. Chop cooked (leftover) pork; combine with leftover rice and add bagged coleslaw. Moisten with plain yogurt. Spoon into warmed pitas. Serve with couscous. Heat the leftover cobbler for dessert.
What kid can resist baked penne pasta with mozzarella? Heat oven to 350 degrees. Cook 12 ounces penne pasta according to directions. Meanwhile, in a large nonstick skillet, cook 1 pound lean ground beef, 1 small chopped onion and 1/2 cup shredded carrots for 8 minutes or until beef is no longer pink and vegetables are softened; drain. Add 1 (14.5-ounce) can diced tomatoes with basil, garlic and oregano, 1 (6-ounce) can no-salt-added tomato paste and 1/2 cup water; mix well. Coat a 9-by-13-inch baking dish with cooking spray. Drain pasta and combine with meat/tomato mixture and 1 1/2 cups (of 2 total) shredded part-skim mozzarella cheese. Spoon into baking dish. Top with remaining cheese. Bake, uncovered, 20 to 25 minutes, or until heated through and cheese is melted. Serve with green peas (frozen) and soft bread sticks. For dessert, peaches are easy.
Skip meat and go for cacio e pepe (cheese and pepper) pasta (see recipe). Serve the ultra-simple pasta with a romaine salad and garlic bread. For dessert, top instant vanilla pudding (made with 1 percent milk) with mini chocolate chips.
Combine a few store-bought ingredients for oven beef stew with mashed potatoes. Heat oven to 400 degrees. Microwave 1 (17-ounce) package refrigerated beef tips with gravy according to directions. Mix with 1 (16-ounce) package frozen broccoli, corn and red peppers (thawed and drained) in a 1 1/2-quart shallow baking dish. Cover tightly with nonstick foil. Bake 15 minutes; stir. Meanwhile, heat (according to directions) 1 (16-ounce) package refrigerated mashed potatoes in microwave. Spoon potatoes evenly over meat/vegetable mixture. Bake uncovered 15 minutes or until bubbly. Serve with packaged salad greens and crusty rolls. Chunky applesauce is dessert.
You could call it just “easy,” but easiest lasagna (see recipe) makes for a delicious penny-pinching dinner. Add an Italian salad and garlic bread. Enjoy strawberry ice cream for dessert.
SATURDAY (Easy Entertaining)
We understood why our guests cleaned their plates when we served this chicken cacciatore with polenta (see recipe). It’s that good. Serve with a spinach salad and whole-grain rolls. Buy a coconut layer cake for dessert.
Cacio E Pepe (cheese And Pepper)
1 (16-ounce) package spaghetti
1/4 cup olive oil
2 teaspoons coarse ground black pepper
1 1/2 cups shredded Pecorino Romano cheese
Chopped fresh parsley for garnish
Cook spaghetti according to directions, reserving 1 cup cooking water, then drain. In a Dutch oven, heat oil on medium. Add pepper; cook and stir 1 minute to toast pepper. Add 3/4 cup reserved water and heat until simmering. Add pasta; sprinkle pasta with cheese. Toss with tongs to combine until mixture clings to pasta. If too dry, add remaining water. (This pasta dish will not be saucy.) Sprinkle with parsley. Serve with additional cheese if desired. (Adapted from “Betty Crocker: The Big Book of Pasta,” Betty Crocker Kitchens; Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, 2016.)
Per serving: 412 calories, 14 grams protein, 13 grams fat (30 percent calories from fat), 3.4 grams saturated fat, 57 grams carbohydrate, 10 milligrams cholesterol, 186 milligrams sodium, 2 grams fiber.
Yield: makes 8 servings
1 pound extra-lean ground beef or ground round
1 (24- to 28-ounce) jar red pasta sauce
1 (4-ounce) can sliced mushrooms, drained
1 (16-ounce) container low-fat cottage cheese
2 tablespoons freshly grated parmesan cheese
8 ounces precooked lasagna noodles
4 ounces freshly grated 50 percent light cheddar cheese
Heat oven to 350 degrees. Coat a 9-by-13-inch baking dish with cooking spray. In a large nonstick skillet on medium-high, cook beef for 5 minutes or until no longer pink; drain and return meat to skillet. Add sauce; bring to boil. Reduce heat and simmer 5 minutes; stir in mushrooms. Separately, combine cottage and parmesan cheeses; set aside. Spread 1/2 cup meat mixture in baking dish. Arrange 1/3 noodles over meat; top with half of cottage cheese mixture, 1 cup meat mixture and 1/3 cup cheddar cheese. Repeat layers, ending with noodles. Spread remaining meat mixture over noodles. Cover and bake 30 minutes. Uncover; sprinkle with remaining cheddar cheese and bake 5 more minutes or until cheese melts. Let stand 10 minutes before slicing.
Per serving: 278 calories, 26 grams protein, 7 grams fat (24 percent calories from fat), 3 grams saturated fat, 27 grams carbohydrate, 38 milligrams cholesterol, 624 milligrams sodium, 2 grams fiber.
Yield: makes 9 servings
Chicken Cacciatore With Polenta
6 skinless, bone-in chicken thighs (about 1 1/2 pounds)
1/8 teaspoon coarse salt
1/8 teaspoon pepper
1 tablespoon canola oil
1 large onion, chopped
1 teaspoon minced garlic
1 (14 1/2-ounce) can fire-roasted crushed tomatoes
1/2 cup pitted kalamata olives, halved
For the polenta: 2 1/2 cups water
1/2 teaspoon coarse salt
3/4 cup cornmeal
1/2 cup freshly grated parmesan cheese
Chopped fresh parsley for garnish
Season chicken with salt and pepper. In a large nonstick skillet, heat oil on medium-high. Add chicken; cover and cook 7 to 8 minutes or until golden and almost cooked through; turn once. Remove chicken; cover to keep warm. Add onion to skillet; cook 5 minutes or until golden. Add garlic; cook 30 seconds until fragrant. Add tomatoes, olives and chicken and any accumulated liquid, stirring to scrape brown bits on bottom of skillet. Cover and cook 5 minutes or until chicken is done. Meanwhile, combine the water and salt; whisk in cornmeal, cover and microwave on high (100 percent power) for 4 minutes; stir. Cover again and cook on high 4 to 5 minutes or until polenta starts to thicken. Stir in cheese. Spoon polenta onto plates. Top with chicken and sauce; sprinkle with parsley.
Per serving: 294 calories, 21 grams protein, 13 grams fat (39 percent calories from fat), 3.3 grams saturated fat, 24 grams carbohydrate, 94 milligrams cholesterol, 724 milligrams sodium, 3 grams fiber.
Yield: makes 6 servings