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A clip-and-save guide to a week's worth of meals; This week's menus

THE BALTIMORE SUN

Each day of the week offers a menu aimed at a different aspect of meal planning. There's a family meal, a kids' meal aimed at youngsters tastes, a heat-and-eat meal that recycles leftovers, a budget meal that employs a cost-cutting strategy, a meatless or "less meat" dish for people who may not be strict vegetarians but are trying to cut down on meat, an express meal that requires little or no preparation, and an entertaining menu that's quick.

Sunday/Family

Prepare your own juicy roast chicken today. Choose a 4- or 5-pound hen and serve with your own or store-bought gravy. Garlic Mashed Potatoes are a natural with the chicken (see recipe). Serve green peas and carrots tossed with fresh dill and a little Dijon mustard alongside. Add dinner rolls. Apricot sundaes are a family-favorite dessert. Make the sundaes with fat-free vanilla ice cream topped with melted apricot preserves.

Plan ahead: Skin and chop 2 cups of leftover chicken and save enough ice cream for Monday.

Monday/Leftovers

Tonight's Chicken, Orange and Romaine Salad takes advantage of leftover chicken for a colorful main dish. In a large bowl, combine 2 cups chopped chicken, 8 cups Romaine lettuce, 1 cup orange sections and 1 medium red onion (sliced). Toss with 1/4 cup reduced-fat vinaigrette. Sprinkle with toasted pecans. Heartier eaters might want a bowl of canned soup and some crackers to start their meal. Dessert is fat-free pound cake with leftover ice cream.

Plan ahead: Cook brown rice and save enough cake for Tuesday.

Tuesday/Budget

Practice alliteration and economy with Brown and Black Burritos (see recipe). Serve with a crunchy lettuce wedge topped with your favorite low-fat dressing. For dessert, top leftover cake with sliced peaches.

Wednesday/Express

Tonight's favorite, meatballs with spaghetti, is faster than a speeding bullet. Step out of the phone booth and into the grocery store to buy some frozen meatballs, a container of marinara sauce and some spaghetti. Follow package directions and top spaghetti with sauce and meatballs. Grate Parmesan cheese over all. Serve with a packaged Italian salad and crusty bread. Fresh fruit finishes the meal.

Thursday/Meatless

Who'll miss meat when there's Baked Ziti With Peppers (see recipe)? Serve with a mixed green salad and garlic bread. Make fat-free butterscotch pudding with skim milk and top with fat-free whipped cream for dessert.

Friday/Kids

The kids can help you prepare a Tortilla Stack (see recipe). Serve with a chopped-lettuce salad and pear halves. For dessert, fat-free rocky road ice cream is a bumpy but delicious ride.

Saturday/Entertaining

Invite your guests for your own leg of lamb tonight. Serve it with Curried Rice (see recipe). Add asparagus spears and sourdough rolls. For dessert, serve lemon sherbet in hollowed-out lemon halves garnished with fresh mint leaves.

Sunday

roasting hen

gravy or ingredients to make your own

baking potatoes

2 percent milk

margarine or butter

garlic powder

salt

green

peas

carrots

fresh dill

Dijon mustard

dinner rolls

fat-free vanilla ice cream

apricot preserves

Monday

Romaine lettuce

orange sections

red onion

reduced-fat vinaigrette

pecans

canned soup

crackers

fat-free pound cake

Tuesday

vegetable oil

onion

garlic

chili powder

cumin

brown rice

canned black beans

canned corn with peppers

fat-free tortillas

reduced-fat shredded sharp Cheddar cheese

scallions

low-fat yogurt

salsa

lettuce

low-fat salad dressing

peaches

Wednesday

frozen meatballs

marinara sauce

spaghetti

Parmesan cheese

packaged Italian salad crusty bread

fresh fruit

Thursday

cooking spray

ziti pasta

red and/or green bell peppers

reduced-fat shredded sharp Cheddar cheese

shredded Monterey Jack cheese

canned tomatoes

salt

black pepper

fat-free half-and-half or evaporated skim milk

seasoned bread crumbs

salad greens

garlic bread

fat-free butterscotch pudding

skim milk

fat-free whipped cream

Friday

cooking spray

fat-free flour tortillas

fat-free refried beans

shredded Monterey Jack cheese

salsa

canned chicken breast

fat-free sour cream

lettuce

pears

fat-free rocky road ice cream

Saturday

leg of lamb

dry sherry

golden raisins

fat-free chicken broth

1 percent milk

ketchup

salt

curry powder

long-grain rice

slivered almonds

asparagus

sourdough rolls

lemon sherbet

lemons

fresh mint

Recipes

Garlic Mashed Potatoes (Sunday)

Makes 6 servings

Preparation time: 10 minutes

Cooking time: 25 minutes

2 pounds baking potatoes, quartered

3/4 cups hot 2 percent milk

1 tablespoon margarine or butter

1 1/2 teaspoons garlic powder

1/2 teaspoon salt

Boil potatoes in a large saucepan about 25 minutes or until tender. Drain, reserving 1/2 cup cooking liquid. Return potatoes to saucepan or place in a mixing bowl. Add reserved cooking liquid, milk, margarine or butter, garlic powder and salt. Beat on medium speed with an electric mixer until smooth.

Per serving: 154 calories, 4 grams protein, 3 grams fat (15 percent calories from fat), 0.7 grams saturated fat, 29 grams carbohydrate, 2 milligrams cholesterol, 240 milligrams sodium, 3 grams fiber.

Brown and Black Burritos (Tuesday)

Makes 6 burritos

Preparation time: less than 10 minutes

Cooking time: less than 10 minutes

1 teaspoon vegetable oil

1 medium onion, chopped

2 cloves garlic, minced

1 teaspoon chili powder

1/2 teaspoon cumin

3 cups cooked brown rice (1 cup uncooked)

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

1 (11-ounce) can corn with peppers, rinsed and drained

6 (8-inch) fat-free tortillas

1/2 cup reduced-fat shredded sharp Cheddar cheese

2 scallions, thinly sliced

1/4 cup plain low-fat yogurt

6 tablespoons prepared salsa

Heat oil in a large, nonstick skillet over medium-high heat. Add onion, garlic, chili powder and cumin. Cook 3 to 5 minutes or until onion is softened. Add rice, beans and corn; cook, stirring 2 to 3 minutes or until mixture is thoroughly heated. Remove from heat. Divide mixture evenly and spoon down center of each tortilla. Divide cheese, scallions and yogurt evenly among tortillas. Roll up, then top each tortilla with 1 tablespoon salsa.

Per burrito: 360 calories, 13 grams protein, 4 grams fat (11 percent calories from fat), 1.6 grams saturated fat, 68 grams carbohydrate, 6 milligrams cholesterol, 826 milligrams sodium, 7 grams fiber.

Baked Ziti With Peppers (Thursday)

Makes 8 servings

Preparation time: 10 minutes

Cooking time: 45 to 55 minutes plus time to cook the pasta

cooking spray

12 ounces cooked ziti pasta, rinsed

3 cups sliced red, green (or mixture of each) bell peppers

4 ounces reduced-fat shredded sharp Cheddar cheese

4 ounces shredded Monterey Jack cheese

1 (28-ounce) can chopped tomatoes (reserve half the juice)

1 teaspoon each: salt and pepper

1 cup fat-free half-and-half or evaporated skim milk

1/2 cup seasoned bread crumbs

Heat oven to 350 degrees. Coat a 9-by-13-inch baking dish with cooking spray. In a large bowl, combine ziti, bell peppers, cheeses, tomatoes, reserved tomato juice and salt and pepper. Gently toss to combine. Spoon into baking dish; pour in half-and-half or milk. Cover and bake 25 minutes. Uncover and top with crumbs. Bake 20 to 30 minutes or until crusty and bubbly.

Per serving: 326 calories, 17 grams protein, 8 grams fat (22 percent calories from fat), 4.7 grams saturated fat, 47 grams carbohydrate, 20 milligrams cholesterol, 821 milligrams sodium, 3 grams fiber.

Tortilla Stack (Friday)

Makes 6 wedges

Preparation time: 10 minutes

Cooking time: about 5 minutes

cooking spray

3 (10-inch) fat-free flour tortillas

1 1/2 cups refried beans

1/2 cup shredded Monterey Jack cheese

1/2 cup salsa

1 (5-ounce) can chicken breast (drained)

fat-free sour cream for garnish

Heat broiler. Coat a 10-inch pie plate with cooking spray. Place tortilla in pie plate. Spread tortillas with 3/4 cup beans, 1/4 cup cheese, 1/4 cup salsa and half the chicken. Top with another tortilla and repeat layers. Top with third tortilla. Cover with wax paper and microwave on high (100 per cent power) 5 minutes or until heated through. Broil 30 seconds in oven to crisp top. Divide into 6 wedges. Serve with fat-free sour cream.

Per wedge: 209 calories, 13 grams protein, 6 grams fat (25 percent calories from fat), 2.6 grams saturated fat, 26 grams carbohydrate, 28 milligrams cholesterol, 664 milligrams sodium, 4 grams fiber.

Curried Rice (Saturday)

Makes 8 servings

Preparation time: less than 10 minutes

Cooking time: about 25 minutes

1/4 cup dry sherry

1/3 cup golden raisins

1 (14 1/2 -ounce) can fat-free chicken broth

3/4 cup 1 percent milk

1/3 cup ketchup

1/2 teaspoon salt

2 teaspoons curry powder

1 cup long-grain rice

2 tablespoons toasted slivered almonds (see note below)

In a small saucepan, heat sherry over medium heat until hot. Add raisins; remove from heat and let stand 15 minutes. Meanwhile, in a large, nonstick skillet, combine broth, milk, ketchup, salt and curry powder and bring to a boil. Add rice, cover, reduce heat and simmer 20 minutes or until rice is tender. Stir in sherry-raisin mixture and almonds; serve immediately.

Note: To toast almonds, place on glass pie plate and microwave on high (100 percent power) 20 to 30 seconds or until light golden.

Per serving: 150 calories, 4 grams protein, 2 grams fat (10 percent calories from fat), 0.3 grams saturated fat, 29 grams carbohydrate, 1 milligram cholesterol, 383 milligrams sodium, 1 gram fiber.

Susan Nicholson is an Atlanta-based cookbook author and registered dietitian. She can be reached by e-mail: menuplanner@mindspring.com.

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