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

THE BALTIMORE SUN

This week's menus

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.

Sunday/Express

Take it easy and present a deli buffet to the family today, including sliced roast beef, sliced ham, German potato salad, coleslaw, pickled beets, a variety of mustards, low-fat mayonnaise, pickles, and a basket of kaiser rolls and rye bread. Finish with fresh fruit for dessert.

Plan ahead: Purchase enough ham for Monday. Dice to save time.

Tip: Trim visible fat from meat to cut fat and calories.

Monday/Budget

You'll be in a cost-cutting mode with Creamy Chowder (see recipe). Serve with spinach salad and multigrain rolls. Cookies are a low-cost dessert.

Tuesday/Meatless

Creamy and delicious, Cheesy Baked Ziti also is rich in vitamins A and C, calcium and fiber (see recipe). Serve it with mixed greens and garlic bread. Fresh fruit provides a happy ending to a nutritious story.

Wednesday/Kids

Teach your angels patience and bring out the slow cooker for Tortilla Soup (see recipe). When the soup is almost ready, help the children prepare grilled cheese sandwiches. Teach them to use reduced-fat cheese slices, and cooking spray on the grill side of the bread rather than margarine or butter. Add a green salad. When the kids finish preparing their sandwiches, help them make instant butterscotch pudding with skim milk.

Plan ahead: If time permits, prepare Cranberry Relish for Thursday and refrigerate.

Thursday/Family

Who wants to cause a riot by changing the traditional Thanksgiving dinner menu of turkey, dressing, gravy, potatoes and a favorite holiday green vegetable? Not me. But this year we're adding Spicy Cranberry Relish for a teensy-weensy change.

In a food processor, combine 1 (12-ounce) package fresh cranberries, 3/4 cup sugar, 1 medium jalapeno pepper (quartered), 1 scallion, 1 teaspoon dried cilantro and 1/4 teaspoon cumin. Process until mixture is coarsely chopped. Refrigerate for 4 hours to allow flavors to blend. Garnish with fresh cilantro if desired.

Dinner rolls are a must. We'll also be having a store-bought pumpkin pie with light whipped cream at our feast. Come on down!

Plan ahead: Save all those valuable leftovers for future meals.

Friday/Heat and Eat

No one will recognize leftovers in Turkey Stir-Fry (see recipe). Serve the colorful combination over rice. Add leftover cranberry relish and crusty bread. Surely you saved some leftover pumpkin pie for dessert.

Saturday/Entertaining

For a complete change of pace from turkey, serve Beef Kebabs au Poivre to your remaining holiday guests (see recipe). Serve with baked potatoes and Green Beans With Shallots. Cook 1 3/4 pounds fresh green beans in boiling water 10 minutes or until crisp-tender (or prepare two 10-ounce packages frozen beans according to directions); drain. In a medium saucepan, heat 2 teaspoons olive oil until hot; add 2 minced shallots and saute 3 minutes or until tender. Add green beans, 1 tablespoon water, 1/2 teaspoon salt and / teaspoon pepper; cook, stirring, 3 minutes or until thoroughly heated. Add sourdough bread and complete the meal with light sorbet.

Shopping List

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

Sunday

sliced roast beef

ham (to slice and to dice)

German potato salad

coleslaw

jar of pickled beets

a variety of mustards

low-fat mayonnaise

pickles

kaiser rolls

rye bread

fresh fruit

Monday

vegetable oil

garlic

dried thyme

canned cream-style corn

potato

fat-free chicken broth

jar of roasted red peppers

scallions

plain low-fat yogurt

cornstarch

fresh spinach

multigrain rolls

cookies

Tuesday

cooking spray

ziti pasta

onion

garlic

canned diced tomatoes

low-fat ricotta cheese

reduced-fat shredded mozzarella cheese

Parmesan cheese

skim milk

Italian parsley

fresh or dried basil

pepper

salt

salad greens

garlic bread

fresh fruit

Wednesday

boneless, skinless chicken breast halves

frozen corn

onion

garlic

fat-free chicken broth

canned tomato puree

canned diced tomatoes and green chilies

salt

chili powder

cumin

cayenne and black pepper

bay leaf

corn tortillas

cilantro (optional)

reduced-fat cheese slices

cooking spray

bread

salad greens

instant butterscotch pudding

skim milk

Thursday

turkey

ingredients for dressing and gravy

potatoes

green vegetable

fresh cranberries

sugar

jalapeno pepper

scallion

dried cilantro

cumin

fresh cilantro (optional)

dinner rolls

pumpkin pie

light whipped cream

Friday

soy sauce

ketchup

white-wine vinegar

sugar

fat-free chicken broth

cornstarch

vegetable oil

red onion

sweet potato

fresh broccoli

red bell pepper

rice

crusty bread

Saturday

well-trimmed, boneless sirloin steak

dry red wine

olive oil

coarse-grain mustard

red-wine vinegar

garlic

sugar

peppercorns

baking potatoes

fresh or frozen green beans

olive oil

shallots

salt

pepper

sourdough bread

sorbet

Creamy Chowder (Monday)

Makes 4 servings

Preparation time: 10 minutes

Cooking time: less than 15 minutes

1 teaspoon vegetable oil

3 cloves garlic, minced

1 1/2 teaspoons dried thyme

1 (15-ounce) can cream-style corn

1 medium potato, diced

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

1 (7-ounce) jar roasted red peppers, drained and chopped

1 1/4 cups diced ham (leftover from Sunday)

3 thinly sliced scallions

2 cups plain low-fat yogurt, divided

2 tablespoons cornstarch

Heat oil in large saucepan over medium heat. Add garlic and thyme and cook 1 minute or until fragrant. Add corn, potato and broth. Partially cover and simmer about 8 minutes or until vegetables are tender. Add red peppers and cook 2 minutes. Add ham and scallions; remove from heat. In medium bowl, whisk 1/4 cup yogurt with cornstarch until blended; whisk in remaining yogurt. Slowly add to liquid in saucepan, stirring. When blended, place over low heat and stir until slightly thickened. Ladle into bowls and serve.

Cheesy Baked Ziti (Tuesday)

Makes 6 servings

Preparation time: 15 minutes

Cooking time: less than 30 minutes, plus time to cook the pasta

cooking spray

12 ounces ziti pasta

1 medium onion, chopped

2 cloves garlic, minced

1 (14 1/2 -ounce) can diced tomatoes, drained

1 (15-ounce) container low-fat ricotta cheese

1 1/2 cups reduced-fat shredded mozzarella cheese, divided use

1/4 cup grated Parmesan cheese, divided use

1/2 cup skim milk

1/3 cup chopped Italian parsley

1/3 cup chopped fresh basil or 1 tablespoon dried

1/2 teaspoon pepper

1/4 teaspoon salt

Heat oven to 400 degrees. Coat a 9-by-13-inch baking dish with cooking spray; set aside. Cook pasta according to directions without salt or oil; drain. Heat a large, nonstick skillet coated with cooking spray over medium heat. Add onion and cook 5 minutes or until softened. Add garlic and cook 1 more minute. Remove from heat. Stir in tomatoes.

In a food processor or blender, spoon ricotta cheese, 1 cup of mozzarella cheese, 2 tablespoons of Parmesan cheese and milk; process until smooth. Place cooked pasta in a large bowl; add tomato and cheese mixtures, parsley, basil, pepper and salt. Toss to combine. Spoon mixture into baking dish. Sprinkle with remaining mozzarella and Parmesan. Bake 20 minutes or until lightly browned.

Tortilla Soup (Wednesday)

Makes 10 cups

Preparation time: about 10 minutes

Cooking time: about 6 hours (slow cooker) plus about 10 minutes to bake tortillas

2 (4- or 5-ounce) boneless, skinless chicken breast halves, cubed

2 cups frozen corn, thawed

1 large onion, chopped

2 cloves garlic, pressed

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

1 (10 3/4 -ounce) can tomato puree

1 (10-ounce) can diced tomatoes with green chilies

1 teaspoon each: salt and chili powder

2 teaspoons cumin

/ teaspoon each: cayenne pepper and black pepper

1 bay leaf

4 (5 1/2 -inch) corn tortillas

chopped fresh cilantro for garnish (optional)

In a 4-quart slow cooker, combine all ingredients except tortillas. Cover and cook on high for 6 hours. Discard bay leaf.

Fifteen minutes before the soup is done, heat oven to 375 degrees. Cut tortillas into 1/4 -inch strips; bake on baking sheet 5 minutes. Stir and bake 5 more minutes or until crisp. Serve with soup; garnish with cilantro if desired.

Turkey Stir-Fry (Friday)

Makes 6 servings

Preparation time: less than 20 minutes

Marinating time: 30 minutes

Cooking time: about 15 minutes

1/4 cup soy sauce

2 tablespoons each: ketchup, white-wine vinegar and sugar

1/2 cup fat-free chicken broth

2 tablespoons cornstarch

2 cups cooked turkey (leftover from Thursday's meal), cut into strips

1 tablespoon vegetable oil

1 small red onion, sliced

1 medium sweet potato, peeled, halved and cut into 1/4 -inch slices

2 cups broccoli florets

1 large red bell pepper, cut into 1-inch pieces

1/2 cup water

For the sauce: In a small bowl, combine soy sauce, ketchup, vinegar, sugar, broth and cornstarch. In another small bowl, combine 2 tablespoons sauce and turkey and marinate at room temperature 30 minutes. In a large, nonstick skillet, heat oil on medium-high. Add onion; stir-fry 2 minutes. Add sweet potato, broccoli and pepper; stir-fry 2 minutes. Add 1/2 cup water; cover. Cook 6 to 8 minutes or until potato is tender. Stir remaining sauce. Add sauce along with turkey to skillet; cook, stirring 3 minutes or until mixture is thickened. (Adapted from Woman's Day magazine.)

Beef Kebabs au Poivre (Saturday)

Makes 4 servings

Preparation time: 10 minutes

Marinating time: 30 minutes

Cooking time: 10 to 13 minutes

1 pound well-trimmed, boneless sirloin steak, cut into 1-inch-square cubes

1/2 cup dry red wine

1 tablespoon each: olive oil, coarse-grain mustard and red-wine vinegar

1 clove garlic, minced

1/2 teaspoon sugar

1 teaspoon cracked peppercorns

In a large, resealable plastic bag, place steak. In a small bowl, combine wine, oil, mustard, vinegar, garlic and sugar; mix well. Pour over steak to coat. Marinate at room temperature 30 minutes. Remove meat; discard marinade. Sprinkle peppercorns over beef cubes, pressing gently into surface of meat. Heat broiler. Thread an equal number of cubes on four 9-inch skewers. Place kebabs on rack in broiler pan with meat 3 to 4 inches from heat. Broil 10 to 13 minutes according to desired doneness (rare to medium), turning occasionally.

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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