The family is in for a treat with spicy skillet chicken (see recipe). Serve with rice, mixed greens and biscuits. Make peach shortcake for dessert. Top angel food cake with sliced fresh peaches and light whipped cream. Plan ahead: Save 2 chicken breasts and any leftover bean/tomato mixture and enough cake for Monday.
MONDAY (Heat and Eat)
Chop 2 leftover chicken breasts and add leftover tomato mixture; stir into marinara sauce and serve with spaghetti. Now you have a simple meal of spaghetti marinara with some extra protein. Garnish with freshly grated parmesan cheese. Add salad greens and garlic bread. For dessert, make a chocolate parfait. In a tall glass, layer leftover cubed angel food cake with instant chocolate pudding made with 1 percent milk. Top with chopped peanuts.
Use all those abundant plum tomatoes in a tomato pesto tart (see recipe) for a mouth-watering meal. Serve with a lettuce wedge with hard-cooked egg slices on the side. Add whole-grain bread. Nectarines are dessert.
Back to school nights and kids go together like grilled ham and cheese sandwiches. Serve with deli vegetable soup and celery sticks. Top vanilla yogurt with fresh blueberries for dessert.
You won't need to heat the oven tonight for this easy no-bake tuna noodle casserole. Cook 8 ounces wagon wheel or medium shell macaroni according to directions. Drain and return to pan. To the pasta, add 1/4 cup 1 percent milk and 1 (6 1/2-ounce) container refrigerated light semisoft cheese with garlic and herbs (such as Alouette or another brand). Cook and stir over medium-low heat until cheese is melted and pasta is coated. Add additional milk as needed to make a creamy consistency. Gently fold in 1 (12-ounce) can water-packed, drained albacore tuna, broken into chunks; heat through and serve immediately. Serve with tiny green peas (frozen), a spinach salad and whole-grain bread. Slice cantaloupe for dessert.
This pesto focaccia sandwich will be ready to eat in no time. Heat oven to 450 degrees. Cut 1 large focaccia or ciabatta loaf in half horizontally, using a serrated knife. Spread 1 (3.5-ounce) jar prepared pesto evenly over cut sides. Layer 1/2 pound thinly sliced deli ham, 1/2 pound thinly sliced deli turkey breast and 6 light provolone cheese slices over bottom half. Top with remaining bread half. Wrap in foil; bake 10 minutes. Cut into 6 or 8 wedges. Serve with oven fries (frozen) and a packaged Caesar salad. Pop a few fresh cherries in your mouth for dessert.
SATURDAY (Easy Entertaining)
Invite friends for simple but delicious warm steak and potato salad (see recipe). Start the meal with your own gazpacho and add crusty bread on the side. For dessert, buy a key lime pie.
Susan Nicholson is an Atlanta-based cookbook author and registered dietitian. She can be reached by email: firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow Susan on Twitter: @7DayMenu. The Menu Planner is also accessible at www.7daymenuplanner.com. Read Susan’s blog: http:www.makingthemenu.com.
Spicy Skillet Chicken
Yield: 6 servings
1 1/2 teaspoons chili powder
3/4 teaspoon coarse salt
1/2 teaspoon pepper
6 boneless skinless chicken breasts (about 1 1/2 pounds)
4 slices bacon
2 (15-ounce) cans reduced-sodium black beans, rinsed
1 (7-ounce) can no-salt-added whole kernel corn, rinsed
1 (10-ounce) can no-salt-added diced tomatoes with green chilies (such as Rotel) or chunky-style salsa, undrained
Diced avocado and chopped cilantro for garnish
In a small bowl, mix chili powder, salt and pepper. Rub onto both sides of chicken breasts; set aside. In a large nonstick skillet on low, cook bacon 5 minutes or until crisp; remove bacon to paper towels and crumble. Discard all but 1 1/2 tablespoons bacon grease from skillet. Increase heat to medium-high. Add chicken; cook 8 minutes, turning once, until internal temperature registers 165 degrees. Stir in bacon, beans, corn and diced tomatoes with chilies. Cover and simmer 3 to 5 minutes or until vegetables are hot. Serve over rice and garnish with avocado and cilantro, if desired. (Adapted from “Betty Crocker: The Big Book of Chicken,” Cindy Kitchel, editorial director; Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, 2015.)
Per serving: 337 calories, 35 g protein, 9 g fat (23 percent calories from fat), 2.7 g saturated fat, 32 g carbohydrate, 82 mg cholesterol, 810 mg sodium (to reduce the sodium, reduce the salt and/or bacon), 10 g fiber.
Tomato Pesto Tart
Yield: 8 slices
1 crust from a 15-ounce package refrigerated pie crusts
1 1/2 cups shredded part-skim mozzarella cheese, divided
5 sliced plum tomatoes, drained
1/4 cup freshly grated parmesan cheese
1/2 cup low-fat mayonnaise
2 tablespoons basil pesto
1/2 teaspoon freshly ground pepper
3 tablespoons chopped fresh basil
Remove 1 pie crust from package (reserve second one for another time); let stand 15 minutes at room temperature. Heat oven to 400 degrees. Lay crust on a lightly floured flat surface; press out folds. Roll crust into a 12-inch circle on baking sheet. Brush outer 1 inch of crust with water. Fold edges over and crimp; prick bottom. Bake 10 to 12 minutes; remove from oven. Lower oven temperature to 375 degrees. Sprinkle hot crust with 1/2 cup mozzarella; cool 15 minutes. Arrange tomatoes over cheese. In a medium bowl, stir together remaining mozzarella, parmesan cheese, mayonnaise, pesto and pepper; spread over tomatoes. Bake 20 to 25 minutes more or until tart is bubbly. Sprinkle with basil and serve.
Per slice: 240 calories, 8 g protein, 15 g fat (56 percent calories from fat), 6.4 g saturated fat, 18 g carbohydrate, 18 mg cholesterol, 511 mg sodium, 1 g fiber.
Warm Steak and Potato Salad
Yield: 4 servings
1 pound small red potatoes
3 slices bacon
1 small red onion, chopped
1 pound boneless sirloin steak, cut into thin strips
1/4 teaspoon coarse salt
5 tablespoons honey
5 tablespoons cider vinegar
1/2 teaspoon cornstarch mixed with 1/2 teaspoon cold water
1 (5- or 6-ounce) package baby spinach
1 cup grape tomatoes, halved
In a medium pot, cover potatoes with cold water. Bring to boil; simmer 15 minutes or until tender. Meanwhile, cook bacon in a large nonstick skillet until crisp. Drain on paper towels. To drippings in skillet, add onion and cook 3 minutes. Add sliced steak and salt. Cook 2 more minutes or until steak is no longer pink. Remove steak and onions to a plate and keep warm. Add honey and vinegar to skillet; cook on medium 2 minutes. Shake and then add cornstarch mixture; cook 30 seconds. Remove from heat. Drain potatoes; rinse with cold water. Cut into quarters and place in bowl along with crumbled bacon and steak-onion mixture. Add spinach, warm honey-cider vinegar dressing and tomatoes. Toss gently and serve.
Per serving: 408 calories, 28 g protein, 13 g fat (28 percent calories from fat), 4.4 g saturated fat, 47 g carbohydrate, 70 mg cholesterol, 359 mg sodium, 4 g fiber.