Bake chocolate shortbread bars for date night

Sweet treat: Chocolate shortbread bars are a good recipe to break out for Valentine’s Day.
Sweet treat: Chocolate shortbread bars are a good recipe to break out for Valentine’s Day. Almond Board of California

Monday: Meatless

There’s some talk that cauliflower will be the It Vegetable of 2015, so it’s fitting that cruciferous florets mingle with yesteryear’s hot veggie in Kale and Cauliflower Alfredo (see recipe). Puréed cooked cauliflower is what gives the sauce its creaminess.

Tuesday: Flavor boost

To make goat cheese and shrimp quesadillas, sauté 1 onion and 1 minced garlic clove in 2 tablespoons olive oil for about 3 minutes. Add peeled, uncooked medium shrimp, and cook until pink. (You'll need about 1/3 pound for each serving.) Remove from skillet.

Layer cooked shrimp on a medium-sized flour tortilla with knobs of goat cheese and some shredded Jack cheese. Top with another tortilla and place in skillet; cook about 2 minutes on each side over medium heat, until cheese melts. Top with slices of ripe avocado.

Wednesday: Pizza night

Make your own pizza dough or buy it store-bought for barbecued chicken pizza. Roll out the dough to a rectangular shape and fit into a baking pan coated lightly with nonstick spray. Top with cooked shredded chicken that’s been mixed with barbecue sauce. Layer on shredded cheddar cheese plus sliced scallions and pickled jalapeno slices. Bake in 350-degree oven until golden, 15 to 20 minutes.

Thursday: Shell game

Mussels with braised greens is chunky enough to eat over pasta and soupy enough to serve alongside hunks of bread to soak up the broth. In a large pot, heat 1/4 cup of olive oil. Add 4 small cloves of minced garlic to soften but not brown. Stir in 4 dozen mussels and add 2 cups dry white wine such as sauvignon blanc. Cover and cook until mussels open, about 5 minutes. Remove mussels and add 1 jar of roasted red peppers, chopped. Stir in 1 pound of roughly chopped greens; let wilt. Return mussels to pan and toss with 2 teaspoons lemon zest and a few pinches of red pepper flakes.

Friday: Cuban-style

Marinate chicken thighs in mojo marinade for at least 6 hours for tonight’s grilled Cuban thighs with yellow rice and beans. Fire up the grill to medium-high heat and cook chicken for about 25 minutes, flipping halfway through. It will take less time if you grill boneless thighs. (Meat should reach 185 degrees on an internal thermometer.) Cook a package of yellow rice and heat a can of seasoned black beans.

Saturday: Easy Entertaining

Party of two? Make simple baked raspberry-mustard chicken breasts. Place 2 (6- to 8-ounce) bone-in skinless chicken breasts on a rack coated with cooking spray. Broil 7 to 9 inches from heat for 25 to 30 minutes or until chicken registers 165 degrees. Meanwhile, combine 2 tablespoons raspberry preserves with 2 tablespoons Dijon mustard and brush on chicken the last few minutes of broiling. Serve with stuffed baked potatoes and peas and onions. Add a Boston lettuce salad and dinner rolls. For dessert, swoon over Chocolate Shortbread Bars (see recipe).

Sunday: Family Day

Enjoy a simple family meal with this Chunky Turkey and Vegetable Chili (see recipe). Buy a deli vegetable platter with dips to munch on. Make cornbread, and serve a plate of brownies for dessert.


2 pounds ground turkey

1 (1.48-ounce) packet less-sodium chili seasoning mix

1 cup water

1 cup finely chopped carrots

2 medium zucchini squash, chopped

1 medium onion, chopped

2 (15-ounce) cans pinto beans, in sauce

2 (14 1/2-ounce) cans no-salt-added diced tomatoes, undrained

Shredded 50 percent reduced-fat cheddar cheese for garnish

Chopped red onion for garnish

In a Dutch oven coated with cooking spray, cook ground turkey 8 minutes or until no longer pink; drain. Stir in chili seasoning packet and water until seasoning is well-blended. Add carrots, squash, onion, beans and tomatoes. Bring to boil, reduce heat and simmer, uncovered, 30 minutes or until vegetables are softened; stir often. Ladle into bowls. Garnish each serving with cheese and red onion. Makes 8 servings.

Per serving: 302 calories, 30 g protein, 8 g fat (25 percent calories from fat), 2 g saturated fat, 27 g carbohydrates, 65 mg cholesterol, 435 mg sodium, 8 g fiber. Carb choices: 2.


1 cup softened butter

1 cup light brown sugar, lightly packed

1 egg yolk

1 teaspoon vanilla extract

1/2 teaspoon orange zest

1/4 teaspoon almond extract

2 cups flour

1 cup chopped toasted almonds, divided

1 (12-ounce) package semisweet chocolate chips

Heat oven to 350 degrees. In a large bowl, cream together butter and brown sugar until light and fluffy, using an electric mixer. Beat in egg yolk thoroughly. Add vanilla extract, orange zest and almond extract and beat 2 to 3 minutes, scraping sides of the bowl to ensure thorough mixing. Add flour and 1/2 cup almonds and mix on low until just combined. Spread dough into a 9-by-13-inch baking pan coated with cooking spray. Bake 25 minutes or until golden brown. Remove from oven; sprinkle top with chocolate chips. Return to oven for 30 seconds. Remove from oven; spread melted chocolate evenly over surface. Sprinkle with remaining 1/2 cup almonds. Cool before serving. Makes 24 bars.

Per bar: 241 calories, 3 g protein, 14 g fat (51 percent calories from fat), 7.6 g saturated fat, 27 g carbohydrates, 28 mg cholesterol, 71 mg sodium, 2 g fiber. Carb choices: 2.

Kale and Cauliflower Alfredo

This pasta dish is lightened with a cauliflower “cream.” For a more filling dish, stir in 2 cups of small, steamed cauliflower florets before serving. Makes 4 servings.

3 cups small cauliflower florets

1 cup 1-percent milk

2 tablespoons chopped shallot

2 tablespoons plain non-fat Greek yogurt

8 ounces linguine

1 tablespoon butter

10 ounces baby kale with three of the leaves chopped and reserved

1 cup (3 ounces) grated parmesan cheese, divided use

1 tablespoon grated lemon zest

1/4 teaspoon ground nutmeg

Bring cauliflower florets, milk and shallot to a simmer in large saucepan. Reduce heat to low. Cover pan and cook 15 to 17 minutes, or until cauliflower is soft. Transfer contents of pan to blender. Blend until silky smooth, adding 1 or 2 more tablespoons milk if necessary. Transfer purée to small bowl, and whisk in yogurt. Season with salt and pepper, if desired.

Meanwhile, cook linguine in large pot of boiling salted water 10 to 11 minutes, or until al dente. Drain pasta, reserving 1 cup pasta water.

Melt butter in same pot over medium heat. Add whole kale leaves and toss 2 minutes, or until wilted but still bright green. Add pasta, 1 1/4 cups cauliflower purée, 2/3 cup parmesan, lemon zest and nutmeg. Toss until sauce coats pasta, adding reserved pasta water by 1/4 cupfuls if mixture is dry. Season with salt and pepper if desired. Serve sprinkled with reserved chopped kale and remaining 1/3 cup parmesan.

Per serving: 396 calories, 23 g protein, 11 g fat, 6 g saturated fat, 58 g carbohydrates, 28 mg cholesterol, 485 mg sodium, 6 g fiber.

Source: Vegetarian Times.