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

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' menu aimed at younger 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.

Shopping List

What you'll need for this week's menus (consult recipes for exact amounts)

Sunday

boneless chuck roast

dehydrated onion-mushroom soup mix

dried thyme

potatoes

carrots

salad greens

dinner rolls

jelly roll

Monday

beef broth

pearl barley

frozen mixed vegetables

deli coleslaw or ingredients to make your own

crackers

Tuesday

vegetable oil

cumin seeds

fresh ginger

curry powder

canned chickpeas

canned chopped tomatoes

honey

salt

pepper

couscous

cilantro

acorn squash

brown sugar

salad greens

pita bread

cookies

Wednesday

cooked roast chicken

frozen broccoli casserole

packaged salad greens

fresh fruit

Thursday

French bread loaf dough

pizza sauce

packaged pepperoni slices

green bell pepper

shredded reduced-fat mozzarella

carrot and celery sticks

fat-free vanilla ice cream

butterscotch sauce

Friday

vegetable oil

ground turkey breast

onion

garlic

fresh tomatoes

canned pinto beans

taco sauce

chili powder

pepper

ground cumin

salt

taco shells

lettuce

shredded reduced-fat Cheddar cheese

rice

instant vanilla pudding

skim milk

Saturday

fresh tuna

orzo

fresh herbs (any kind)

Parmesan cheese

olive oil

garlic

red pepper flakes

portobello mushrooms

salt

red bell pepper

fresh parsley

fresh thyme

pepper

crusty bread

bananas

cooking spray

Sunday/Family

A Sunday dinner of Beef Pot Roast and Vegetables (see recipe) always reminds me of my mother (it was one of her standards). Add a mixed green salad and dinner rolls. A store-bought jelly roll makes a good dessert.

Plan ahead: Chop 2 cups cooked roast and save enough jelly roll for Monday. If you have leftover vegetables, save them for Monday, too.

Monday/Heat and Eat

Beef, Barley and Vegetable Soup will warm you on a cool fall day. In a Dutch oven, bring 5 cups beef broth and 1 cup water to boil. Add 1/2 cup pearl barley and 4 cups frozen mixed vegetables. Reduce heat and simmer 20 minutes. Add 2 cups leftover chopped roast and any vegetables left over from Monday; simmer 10 minutes until barley and vegetables are tender. Serve with homemade or deli coleslaw and crackers. Dessert is leftover jelly roll.

Tuesday/Meatless

Gingered Couscous With Chickpeas spells fall (see recipe), es- pecially served with acorn squash. For the squash: Pierce two 1 1/2 -pound acorn squash with fork or sharp knife all the way to center and place in microwave on paper towels. Microwave on high (100 percent power) 12 to 16 minutes (turn over after 8 minutes); let stand 5 minutes. Cut in half and scrape out seeds and membranes. Sprinkle with a little brown sugar. Finish your meal with a green salad and pita bread. If you're still hungry, add a cookie for dessert.

Wednesday/Express

Stop by the market tonight for a cooked roast chicken. Pair it with a broccoli casserole from the market's freezer. I bought a package of creamy broccoli, chicken and cheese with rice. It was $2.99 in my market for a 28-ounce package. Serve it with a packaged green salad and fresh fruit.

Thursday/Budget

While you're secretly saving money on tonight's meal, the family is begging for more of it. That's what happens when you serve Pan Pizza Casserole (see recipe). Add carrot and celery sticks. For dessert, serve fat-free vanilla ice cream with butterscotch sauce.

Plan ahead: Save enough butterscotch sauce for Friday and Saturday and enough ice cream for Saturday.

Friday/Kids

No self-respecting kid could turn down Turkey Tacos (see recipe). Serve them with rice. The children can make instant vanilla pudding with skim milk. For fun, they'll like to swirl leftover butterscotch sauce through the pudding.

Tip: To fill tacos, invert a muffin pan and stand the shells between the cups. Spoon filling into shells. (A 10-year-old gave me this tip.)

Saturday/Entertaining

Invite me over when you prepare your own grilled tuna. I'll arrive early if you add orzo tossed with fresh herbs and freshly grated Parmesan cheese. Be prepared when you add Stuffed Portobello Caps to the menu (see recipe); the whole neighborhood will show up. Add crusty bread.

For dessert, butterscotch banana splits will make everyone linger at the table. Heat broiler. Place 6 peeled bananas, halved lengthwise, on baking sheet coated with cooking spray. Brush with butterscotch sauce; broil 3 to 4 minutes. Serve with leftover frozen fat-free vanilla ice cream and additional butterscotch sauce.

Beef Pot Roast and Vegetables (Sunday)

Makes 8 servings

Preparation time: 10 minutes

Cooking time: about 3 1/2 hours

1 boneless chuck roast (about 4 pounds)

1 cup water

1 packet dehydrated onion-mushroom soup mix

1/2 teaspoon dried thyme

1 1/2 pounds potatoes, quartered

1 pound fresh carrots, cut into thirds

Heat oven to 325 degrees. In a large pan place roast on a rack and add water, soup mix and thyme. Cover and bake 2 1/2 hours. Add potatoes and carrots. Cover and cook 1 hour or until meat is tender. Remove roast; cover and let stand 10 minutes. (Separate fat from drippings and discard. Make your own gravy using the remaining liquid.) Remove visible fat from roast and slice meat and serve. (Chop 2 cups cooked meat for Monday's meal; refrigerate.)

Per serving: 388 calories, 36 grams protein, 16 grams fat (37 percent calories from fat), 6.1 grams saturated fat, 24 grams carbohydrate, 114 milligrams cholesterol, 538 milligrams sodium, 4 grams fiber.

Pan Pizza Casserole (Thursday)

Makes 12 squares

Preparation time: 10 minutes

Cooking time: 20 minutes

1 (11-ounce) package French bread loaf dough

1 (8-ounce) jar pizza sauce

1 (8-ounce) package sliced pepperoni

1 green bell pepper, chopped

2 cups shredded reduced-fat mozzarella cheese

Heat oven to 400 degrees. Unroll bread dough into a 9x13-inch baking dish; spread dough and cover bottom of dish. Spoon pizza sauce over bottom. (Use as much sauce as you prefer; you can use less than entire jar.) Arrange pepperoni over sauce. Scatter peppers over pepperoni. Cover with cheese. Bake, uncovered, 20 minutes or until cheese is melted and lightly browned. (Adapted from "Simply Casseroles" by Kim Lila, Surrey Books, 1998.)

Per square: 211 calories, 11 grams protein, 12 grams fat (54 percent calories from fat), 5.4 grams saturated fat, 13 grams carbohydrate, 26 milligrams cholesterol, 699 milligrams sodium, 1 gram fiber.

Turkey Tacos (Friday)

Makes 16 tacos

Preparation time: 10 minutes

Cooking time: about 10 minutes

1 tablespoon vegetable oil

1 pound ground turkey breast

1 small onion, chopped

2 cloves garlic, pressed

1 medium tomato, chopped

1 (15-ounce) can pinto beans, rinsed and drained

3 tablespoons taco sauce

1 teaspoon chili powder

1/2 teaspoon each: pepper and cumin

1/4 teaspoon salt

16 taco shells

garnishes: shredded lettuce, chopped tomato, shredded reduced-fat Cheddar cheese and taco sauce

In a large, nonstick skillet, heat oil over medium heat and cook turkey, onion and garlic 5 minutes or until turkey is no longer pink; drain well. Stir in tomato, beans, taco sauce, chili powder, pepper, cumin and salt and cook 5 minutes or until thoroughly heated. Spoon turkey mixture into taco shells and serve with garnishes.

Per taco: 118 calories, 9 grams protein, 5 grams fat (36 percent calories from fat), 0.7 grams saturated fat, 10 grams carbohydrate, 19 milligrams cholesterol, 148 milligrams sodium, 2 grams fiber.

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

Stuffed Portobello Caps (Saturday)

Makes 6 caps

Preparation time: 15 minutes

Cooking time: 10 to 15 minutes

2 tablespoons olive oil

1/2 teaspoon minced garlic

1/4 teaspoon crumbled red pepper flakes

6 portobello mushrooms (about 4 inches in diameter)

1 teaspoon salt, divided

1/2 cup finely diced red bell pepper

1 tablespoon finely chopped fresh parsley

1 teaspoon chopped fresh thyme leaves

1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper

parsley sprigs for garnish

In a small skillet over low heat, cook oil and garlic 2 to 4 minutes or until soft and aromatic, not browned. Add red pepper flakes and remove from heat. Clean mushrooms with soft brush. Remove stems flush with cap; reserve stems. Paint the caps sparingly with about half the oil mixture, outside, then inside. Set gill-side up on baking sheet; sprinkle with 1/2 teaspoon salt.

Peel reserved stems, cut into fine dice and place in small bowl. Stir in red pepper, parsley and thyme. Add remaining oil mixture, remaining 1/2 teaspoon salt and pepper. Let stand until somewhat juicy, about 1 hour, tossing occasionally.

Place oven rack in upper third of oven and heat oven to 450 degrees. Divide stuffing among caps, spreading evenly. Bake until tender, 10 to 15 minutes. Transfer to warm platter and garnish with parsley. Serve hot.

Per mushroom: 59 calories, 1 gram protein, 5 grams fat (68 percent calories from fat), 0.6 grams saturated fat, 4 grams carbohydrate, no cholesterol, 391 milligrams sodium, 1 gram fiber.

Gingered Couscous With Chickpeas (Tuesday)

Makes 6 servings

Preparation time: 10 minutes

Cooking time: less than 10 minutes

1 tablespoon vegetable oil

1 teaspoon cumin seeds

1 tablespoon chopped fresh ginger

1 teaspoon curry powder

1 (15-ounce) can chickpeas, rinsed and drained

1 (14-ounce) can chopped tomatoes with juice

1 tablespoon honey

1/4 teaspoon each: salt and freshly ground pepper

1 3/4 cups water

1 1/2 cup couscous

1/3 cup cilantro

In a large saucepan, heat oil over medium-high heat. Add cumin seeds and stir until the seeds begin to pop, about 1 minute. Add ginger and stir until fragrant, about 30 seconds. Add curry powder and stir until it is toasted, about 30 seconds. Add chickpeas, tomatoes, honey, salt, pepper and water; bring to boil. Stir in couscous, remove from heat and cover. Let stand until liquid has been absorbed, about 5 minutes. Fluff with fork and stir in cilantro.

Per serving: 299 calories, 10 grams protein, 4 grams fat (13 percent calories from fat), 0.3 grams saturated fat, 56 grams carbohydrate, no cholesterol, 313 milligrams sodium, 5 grams fiber.

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