Weekly menu planner goes global with huevos rancheros, curry chicken, more

Huevos Rancheros: A meatless breakfast for dinner.
Huevos Rancheros: A meatless breakfast for dinner.

Monday: Meatless

The notion of breakfast for dinner is welcome in many homes, especially mine. Super Fast Huevos Rancheros (see recipe) is a solid weeknight meal recipe that calls for baking the tortillas rather than frying. That’s calorie, time and cleanup savings, for sure. The rest of the dish comes together quickly. Serve with slices of melon splashed with lime juice.

Tuesday: Fresh Mex

We’re continuing the Mexican cuisine theme one more night, with Veracruz-style Fish. Use whatever mild fish fillets you’d like: grouper, halibut, cod or any variety of snapper. In a large skillet, sauté 1 sliced onion and 2 chopped garlic cloves, cooking for about 5 minutes. Add a can of diced tomatoes, plus 1 sliced fresh jalapeño and a cup of white wine, and cook for about 7 minutes, until reduced by at least half. In separate skillet, sauté fish in melted butter. When sauce has reduced, add sliced Spanish olives. Spoon on top of fish with slices of avocado and chopped cilantro if you’d like. Serve with sautéed spinach.

Wednesday: Quick Curry

We are spanning the globe this week and making Chicken Curry in a Hurry from the shredded meat of one bird. To make the curry sauce, sauté a diced onion and minced garlic clove in vegetable oil. Add 2 teaspoons curry powder and cook for a few minutes. Stir in 1/2 cup plain Greek yogurt and 2/3 cup half-and-half. Season with salt and pepper and add 2 chopped Roma tomatoes, heating through. Top cooked rice with chicken and add the curry sauce. Garnish with chopped peanuts or cilantro (or both).

Thursday: On to Italy

From Asia, we travel to Europe, Italy to be specific, for inspiration. Pack up a Caprese Baguette and head to the beach or a park to enjoy the sunset. Cut appropriate lengths of baguette and split open. Layer with fresh mozzarella, sliced tomatoes and fresh basil leaves. Drizzle with olive oil and balsamic vinegar. Best eaten at room temperature. Take along some pasta salad, too.

Friday: Back at home

After our culinary globe-trotting, we’re landing back in the states for a dinner of Meatloaf, Mashed Potatoes and Steamed Broccoli. Now that’s classic American comfort food. Make your favorite meatloaf recipe, but bake it in muffin tins where it will cook in half the time. Mashed potatoes? Consider those found in the refrigerator case. Read the labels first and you'll find some with nothing but potatoes, butter and salt. Almost homemade.

Saturday: Easy Entertaining

Your guests will like the flavor of Dill Halibut with Vegetables, and you’ll like the simplicity. Heat oven to 450 degrees. Coat 4 pieces of (12-by-18-inch) foil with cooking spray. Center several lemon slices on each sheet. Place 4 (4- to 6-ounce) pieces halibut fillets on lemons. Sprinkle halibut with coarse salt and pepper. Combine 1/2 medium zucchini and 1/2 medium yellow squash (both cut into thin strips) with 1 medium carrot and 1 medium onion (both cut into thin strips). Divide vegetables and top each fillet with mixture. Sprinkle each portion with 3/4 teaspoon fresh dill or 1/4 teaspoon dried dill. Bring up foil sides. Double-fold top and ends to seal, leaving room for heat to circulate. Bake 15 to 18 minutes on a cookie sheet. When ready to serve, open packet away from your face to allow steam to escape.

Serve the colorful entree with roasted red potatoes, mixed greens and whole-grain rolls. For dessert, buy a cheesecake.

Sunday: Family Day

Make family day special and prepare Broiled Steak with Cheesy Polenta and Pasta Sauce (see recipe). Serve it with sugar snap peas and Italian bread. Buy a cherry cobbler for dessert.

Super Fast Huevos Rancheros

4 (6- to 8-inch) corn tortillas

1/2 teaspoon ground cumin

1 (16-ounce) can black beans, rinsed and drained

1 chipotle chile in adobo sauce, diced; or 1/2 teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes (optional)

1/2 cup mild salsa

4 large eggs, fried

2/3 cup shredded Monterey Jack cheese

1 ripe avocado, sliced

Chopped cilantro

Heat oven to 425 degrees. Put the tortillas on a baking sheet and place in the oven to crisp, about 5 minutes. (Cover with foil if you don't like crisp tortillas.) Toast the cumin in a small, dry saucepan over medium heat until aromatic, about 3 minutes. Add the beans and chipotle or red pepper (if using).

Remove the tortillas from the oven. Spoon some beans onto each, then top each with some salsa, 1 fried egg and some cheese. Return to oven and bake until the cheese has melted. Serve with the avocado and scatter with chopped cilantro. Serves 4.

Per serving: 166 calories from fat, 18 g fat (6 g saturated fat), 228 mg cholesterol, 29 g carbohydrates, 2 g sugar, 9 g fiber, 502 mg sodium.

Source: Real Simple magazine.

Broiled Steak with Cheesy Polenta and Pasta Sauce

1 2/3 cups water

2/3 cup yellow cornmeal

1/2 teaspoon coarse salt

1/4 cup shredded part-skim mozzarella cheese, divided

1/4 cup freshly grated parmesan cheese, divided

1 cup no-salt-added or regular red pasta sauce

1 teaspoon dried Italian seasoning

1 clove garlic, minced

1/4 teaspoon coarse salt

1/4 teaspoon coarse black pepper

1 boneless beef top-sirloin steak, cut 1-inch thick (about 1 1/2 pounds)

In a 1-quart baking dish, combine water, cornmeal and salt. Cover and microwave on high (100 percent power) 6 to 8 minutes, stirring every 2 minutes. Stir in 2 tablespoons mozzarella and 2 tablespoons parmesan. Sprinkle top with remaining mozzarella and parmesan. Microwave, uncovered, on medium (50 percent power) 1 or 2 minutes or until cheeses are melted. Cover and let stand 5 minutes. Heat pasta sauce on medium 2 minutes or until hot; set aside. Meanwhile, combine Italian seasoning, garlic, salt and pepper; press onto steak. Place steak on rack in broiler pan so surface is 3 to 4 inches from heat. Broil 16 to 21 minutes for medium-rare to medium, turning once. Carve steak. Serve with polenta and sauce. Serves 6.

Per serving: 220 calories, 25 g protein, 6 g fat (26 percent calories from fat), 2.6 g saturated fat, 16 g carbohydrates, 62 mg cholesterol, 400 mg sodium, 1 g fiber. Carb choices: 1.