Recipes: Daily menu planner helps you make easy, delicious dinners

Shake it, bake it: Try it once, and you’ll be able to tinker with the recipe in myriad ways.
Shake it, bake it: Try it once, and you’ll be able to tinker with the recipe in myriad ways.

Monday: Meatless

Skillet spinach with a fried egg can take on all sorts of personalities.

In my version, I sauté sliced leeks with garlic in olive oil, add baby spinach leaves and season with salt and pepper.

When the spinach is sufficiently wilted, crack eggs on the top (one or two per serving). Put on the lid and let the egg set. Scoop out portions and kick things up with Sriracha sauce. Serve multigrain toast on the side.

Tuesday: Shake it out

Shake-and-Bake Chicken (see recipe) is so easy that after you make it once, you’ll be improvising in the future. It is tinker-friendly.

Pair it with a salad and orzo.

Wednesday: Chicken penne

Mediterranean chicken couscous salad is good for dinner and then to pack up for lunch the next day.

Cook plain couscous and add sliced kalamata olives, diced red onion, rinsed and drained canned garbanzo beans, chopped rotisserie chicken, raisins and feta cheese crumbles. Stir in fresh lemon juice and chopped fresh parsley.

Thursday: Burrito supreme

Set out burrito fixings in bowls, including hot refried beans, ground beef or shredded chicken (or both), cooked rice, shredded cheese, diced tomatoes and scallions, hot sauce/salsa, guacamole, sour cream and chopped fresh cilantro, plus warm flour tortillas.

Diners can make traditional burritos or a burrito bowl sans tortilla. Offer slices of fresh melon on the side.

Friday: Steak a claim

It’s steak-night splurge.

Throw a couple on the grill along with some asparagus spears that have been lightly coated with olive oil. Serve alongside an ice-cold Caesar salad. Easy, classic and rare.

SATURDAY: Easy Entertaining

Serve your guests Asian-glazed salmon. For the glaze, combine 1/3 cup packed light brown sugar, 2 tablespoons low-sodium soy sauce and 1 tablespoon Dijon mustard; reserve 2 tablespoons. Set aside.

Place 4 (5-ounce) skinless salmon fillets on unheated rack of broiler pan coated with cooking spray. Broil 4 inches from heat 8 to 12 minutes or until fish is opaque throughout; carefully turn halfway through cooking time. Brush with glaze during last 2 to 3 minutes of broiling. For sauce, combine reserved glaze with 3 tablespoons rice vinegar; serve sauce with salmon.

Alongside, red potatoes and buttered sliced carrots with parsley are colorful and tasty. Add a red-tip lettuce salad and crusty bread. For dessert, rum-raisin banana sauce over ice cream (see recipe) will be a welcome finish.

Sunday: Family Day

This mushroom and beef skillet stew (see recipe) is just right for a fall family meal. Serve it with rice and a mixed-greens salad. Add baguettes.

Make the world’s easiest chocolate cake for dessert. Heat oven to 350 degrees. Coat bottom of a 9-by-13-inch baking pan with cooking spray. In a large bowl, mix together 1 egg white, 1 (12-ounce) can diet cola and 1 (2-layer size) package chocolate cake mix until moistened. Pour mixture into pan; bake 30 minutes or until toothpick inserted in center of cake comes out clean. Garnish with light whipped cream.

Main dish

Shake-and-Bake Chicken

2 cups panko bread crumbs

1 tablespoon sweet paprika

1 teaspoon kosher salt

1/2 teaspoon dried thyme

1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper

1/8 teaspoon cayenne pepper

3 pounds bone-in chicken breasts or legs, or 1 1/2 pounds boneless, skinless chicken breasts

Heat oven to 375 degrees. Line a rimmed baking sheet with parchment paper. In a gallon-sized zip-top plastic bag, combine the panko, paprika, salt, thyme, black pepper and cayenne pepper. Working in batches, place a few pieces of chicken in the bag and shake until well coated. Place on the prepared baking sheet, leaving space between the pieces. Discard any leftover panko mixture.

Bake until the chicken's internal temperature reaches 165 degrees, about 1 hour for bone-in breasts or legs or 45 minutes for boneless breasts. Serves 4.

Source: “Good Cheap Eats” by Jessica Fisher ($17, Harvard Common Press).

Main dish

Mushroom and Beef Skillet Stew

1 pound flank steak

Coarse salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste

1 tablespoon olive oil, divided

1 pound small white mushrooms or medium white mushrooms, cut in half (about 6 cups)

1 large yellow, orange or red bell pepper, cut in 1-inch squares

1 medium zucchini, halved lengthwise, sliced 1-inch thick

2 cloves garlic, thinly sliced

1 (14 1/2-ounce) can no-salt-added diced tomatoes with basil, garlic and oregano, lightly drained

Season steak on both sides with salt and pepper. In a large, heavy skillet, heat 1 1/2 teaspoons oil over medium-high. Add steak; cook 3 to 5 minutes per side or until well-browned on both sides and internal temperature is 145 degrees. Remove to cutting board; let stand 3 minutes.

Meanwhile, heat remaining oil in same skillet. Add mushrooms, bell pepper, zucchini and garlic; cook and stir 3 minutes or until mushrooms begin to release their juices. Stir in tomatoes and cook 5 minutes or until mushrooms are tender. On cutting board, slice steak thinly across grain and then in half; stir into vegetable mixture along with juices from board. Serve immediately. Makes 4 servings.

Per serving: 288 calories, 13 g fat (40 percent calories from fat), 4.4 g saturated fat, 13 g carbohydrate, 30 g protein, 53 mg cholesterol, 95 mg sodium, 3 g fiber. Carb choices: 1.


Rum-Raisin Banana Sauce Over Ice Cream

1/2 cup packed light brown sugar

3 tablespoons water

1 tablespoon rum or 1/2 teaspoon rum extract

1/4 cup golden raisins

1 teaspoon butter

4 small, firm-ripe bananas, halved crosswise, then lengthwise

2 cups fat-free vanilla ice cream

In a large nonstick skillet, combine brown sugar, water and rum or extract. Cook, stirring, over medium-high heat for 2 minutes until mixture comes to a boil. Stir in raisins; reduce heat to medium. Stir in butter; simmer 1 minute. Remove from heat. Add bananas. Baste bananas until evenly coated. Serve warm in a stemmed dessert dish with ice cream. Makes 4 servings.

Per serving: 336 calories, 1 g fat (3 percent calories from fat), 0.7 g saturated fat, 78 g carbohydrate, 5 g protein, 3 mg cholesterol, 84 mg sodium, 4 g fiber. Carb choices: 5.