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A guide to preparing 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.

SUNDAY / Family

Enjoy lots of compliments when you serve Spicy Marinated Top Round to the family. Accompany it with colorful Carrots And Green Beans With Dill. Add small boiled red potatoes and whole wheat rolls to the meal. Serve with store-bought German chocolate cake.

Plan ahead: Save enough beef, carrots and green beans and cake for Monday.

Spicy Marinated Top Round

Makes 8 servings

Preparation time: 5 minutes

Marinating time: 4 hours to overnight

Cooking time: 15 minutes

Standing time: 5 minutes

2 tablespoons soy sauce

2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice

2 tablespoons balsamic vinegar

2 teaspoons finely chopped, peeled fresh ginger

2 teaspoons light brown sugar

1/2 teaspoon Asian chili paste (see Note)

2 pounds boneless top sirloin (1 1/2 inches thick)

In a large resealable plastic bag, combine soy sauce, lemon juice, vinegar, ginger, sugar and chili paste and mix well. Score (see Note) steak on both sides. Place in bag, turn to coat and refrigerate 4 hours to overnight. Heat broiler. Remove steak and discard marinade. Coat broiling rack with cooking spray. Broil 6 inches from heat 15 minutes for medium rare; turn once. Remove to platter; let stand 5 minutes.

Notes: Look for Asian chili paste in Asian markets or large supermarkets. To score: make shallow cuts about 2 inches apart on the diagonal in a diamond pattern.

Per serving: 167 calories, 26 grams protein, 6 grams fat (34 percent calories from fat), 2.4 grams saturated fat, 1 gram carbohydrate, 75 milligrams cholesterol, 116 milligrams sodium, no fiber.

Carrots With Green Beans and Dill

Makes 6 servings

Preparation time: 15 minutes

Cooking time: less than 15 minutes

Standing time: 5 minutes

12 ounces whole baby carrots

1 1/2 pounds trimmed fresh green beans

1/2 teaspoon salt

1 1/2 teaspoons fresh chopped dill or 1 teaspoon dried

1 cup water

2 teaspoons margarine or butter

2 tablespoons chopped onion

In a medium saucepan over medium heat, cook carrots, beans, salt and dill in water 8 to 10 minutes or until vegetables are softened; drain. Remove from pan; keep warm. Wipe pan, coat with cooking spray and heat over medium. Melt 2 teaspoons margarine or butter and add onion and cook 1 or 2 minutes or until onions are softened. Add reserved vegetables and toss to coat. Reheat if necessary.

Per serving: 68 calories, 2 grams protein, 2 grams fat (21 percent calories from fat), 0.3 grams saturated fat, 12 grams carbohydrate, no cholesterol, 229 milligrams sodium, 5 grams fiber.

MONDAY / Heat and Eat

Make a steak sandwich tonight. Thinly slice leftover steak and place on pumpernickel bread spread with low-fat mayonnaise and a little prepared horseradish. Add Dijon mustard if you like. Top with lettuce and a second slice of bread. Add 1/2 cup crumbled feta cheese, 2 plum tomatoes cut into wedges and some light vinaigrette to the leftover chilled green beans and carrots; toss to coat. Voila, you have a salad! If you have leftover potatoes, cut into bite-size pieces and add to your salad creation. Add salt and pepper to taste. For dessert, how about leftover cake?

TUESDAY / Express

Make it quick tonight with Chili Pita Stacks. Cook 1 15-ounce can low-fat turkey chili and 4 frozen (or fresh) turkey burgers according to directions. Toast 4 whole wheat pitas. To assemble: Place pita in center of dinner plate. Lay cooked patties on pitas. Spoon chili over burger. Top with shredded reduced-fat sharp cheddar cheese and sliced scallions. Add chopped jalapeno peppers if desired. Serve with frozen potato wedges. Coat the potatoes with cooking spray and sprinkle with cayenne pepper for some added flavor. Add a romaine salad. For a refreshing dessert, serve fresh pineapple chunks.

WEDNESDAY/Budget

Saving money warms my heart, and Spaghetti With Clam Sauce will warm your tummy. Serve with a red leaf lettuce salad and garlic bread. Make instant pistachio pudding with skim milk for dessert.

Makes 6 servings

Preparation time: 15 minutes

Cooking time: about 10 minutes plus pasta

12 ounces spaghetti

2 6-ounce cans clams with liquid

2 tablespoons olive oil

4 cloves sliced garlic

18-ounce bottle clam juice

1 tablespoon fresh or 1 teaspoon dried basil

1/2 teaspoon red pepper flakes

1/4 cup fresh lemon juice

1/2 cup chopped parsley

1 teaspoon lemon zest

1/4 teaspoon each salt and freshly ground pepper

2 tablespoons freshly grated Parmesan cheese

Cook spaghetti according to directions. Drain clams; reserve juice. Set aside. Heat oil in a small saucepan over medium heat and cook garlic 2 minutes or until golden (do not burn). Add reserved clam juice, bottled juice, basil and red pepper flakes; bring to boil. Reduce heat to low and simmer, uncovered, 3 minutes. Add clams and lemon juice; cook 3 minutes or until clams are thoroughly heated. In a large serving bowl, combine spaghetti with clam sauce. Add parsley, lemon zest, salt and pepper; toss to coat. Sprinkle with Parmesan and serve immediately.

Per serving: 296 calories, 13 grams protein, 6 grams fat (18 percent calories from fat), 1.1 grams saturated fat, 47 grams carbohydrate, 21milligrams cholesterol, 679 milligrams sodium, 2 grams fiber.

THURSDAY / Meatless

Take a break from meat tonight and prepare Peppered Burgers. In a large nonstick skillet, heat 1 tablespoon olive oil over medium-high heat and cook 1 medium red bell pepper cut into strips and 1 sliced zucchini 5 minutes or until softened. Meanwhile, prepare 4 frozen vegetable burgers according to directions. Toast 4 whole wheat hamburger buns. Top each bun with a burger, some vegetables and slices of goat cheese. Add lettuce if you like. Serve with your own or store-bought three-bean salad. Add orange and grapefruit sections and sugar cookies for dessert.

Plan ahead: Save enough cookies for Friday.

FRIDAY / Kids

The kids won't be able to resist Cheese Tortellini With Peas and Ham. (Look for small portions of chopped ham in the refrigerated meat case.) Serve with mixed greens and bread sticks. for dessert, serve canned tropical fruit and leftover cookies.

Cheese Tortellini With Peas and Ham

Makes 4 servings

Preparation time: 15 minutes

Cooking time: about 5 minutes plus tortellini and peas

10 ounces frozen cheese tortellini

1 10-ounce package frozen tiny green peas

1/3 cup chopped ham

1 tablespoon margarine

2 tablespoons flour

1 cup 1 percent milk

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

pinch of nutmeg

Cook tortellini according to directions without salt or oil. Add peas to the tortellini the last 4 minutes of cooking; drain. Spoon into a large serving bowl and add ham. In a nonstick saucepan, melt margarine; add flour and cook 1 minute, stirring constantly. Add 1 percent milk, broth and nutmeg. Cook 4 minutes or until thickened, stirring constantly. Spoon over pasta and toss to coat.

Per serving: 344 calories, 20 grams protein, 8 grams fat (21 percent calories from fat), 2.9 grams saturated fat, 47 grams carbohydrate, 51 milligrams cholesterol, 472 milligrams sodium, 5 grams fiber.

SATURDAY/ENTERTAINING

Wow your guests with this elegant Chicken With Artichokes and Mustard Sauce. Serve it over spinach fettuccine. Add steamed fresh broccoli spears and squeeze a fresh lemon over the broccoli. You'll want crusty bread. Take it easy and serve store-bought Boston Cream Pie for dessert.

Chicken With Artichokes and Mustard Sauce

Makes 8 servings

Preparation time: 20 minutes

Cooking time: less than 20 minutes (see Note)

8 4- or 5-ounce boneless skinless chicken breast halves

1 tablespoon vegetable oil, divided

1 clove crushed garlic

1 10 3 / 4 -ounce can condensed cream of chicken soup

1 8-ounce container reduced-fat sour cream

1/2 cup shredded reduced-fat or regular Monterrey Jack cheese

1 / 4 cup dry white wine

2 tablespoons Dijon mustard

1 6-ounce jar marinated artichoke hearts, drained and halved

Flatten chicken to an even thickness (about 1/2 inch) between 2 pieces of plastic wrap. Heat 1 1/2 teaspoons oil in a large nonstick skillet over medium-high heat and cook garlic 15 seconds; remove garlic and set aside. Add 4 chicken breasts, reduce heat to medium and cook 5 minutes, turning once. Remove chicken and keep warm. Add remaining oil and remaining chicken and repeat procedure. Meanwhile, in a medium bowl combine soup, sour cream, cheese, wine and mustard. Add to skillet along with reserved garlic and first batch of chicken. Cook, covered for 3 or 4 minutes more, or until chicken is tender. Stir artichokes into sauce. Cook covered, 1 to 2 minutes or until heated through. Serve immediately.

Note: Be sure to have all preparation completed before cooking. Once cooking starts, it goes fast!

Per serving: 250 calories, 30 grams protein, 10 grams fat (36 percent calories from fat), 3.2 grams saturated fat, 8 grams carbohydrate, 82 milligrams cholesterol, 585 milligrams sodium, 1 gram fiber.

Shopping List

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

Sunday

soy sauce

lemons

balsamic vinegar

fresh ginger

light brown sugar

Asian chili paste

boneless top sirloin

cooking spray

whole baby carrots

fresh green beans

salt

fresh or dried dill

margarine or butter

onion

red potatoes

whole wheat rolls

store-bought German chocolate cake

Monday

pumpernickel bread

low-fat mayonnaise

prepared horse radish

Dijon mustard

lettuce

crumbled feta cheese

plum tomatoes

light vinaigrette

salt and pepper

Tuesday

canned low-fat turkey chili

frozen or fresh turkey burgers

whole wheat pitas

shredded reduced-fat sharp cheddar cheese

scallions

jalapeno peppers, if desired

frozen potato wedges

cooking spray

cayenne pepper

romaine

fresh pineapple chunks

Wednesday

spaghetti

canned clams

olive oil

garlic

bottle clam juice

fresh or dried basil

red pepper flakes

lemons

parsley

salt

pepper

Parmesan

red leaf lettuce

garlic bread

instant pistachio pudding

skim milk

Thursday

olive oil

red bell pepper

zucchini

frozen vegetable burgers

whole wheat hamburger buns

goat cheese

lettuce if desired

ingredients for or store-bought three bean salad

orange and grapefruit sections

sugar cookies

Friday

frozen cheese tortellini

frozen tiny green peas

chopped ham

margarine

flour

1 percent milk

fat-free chicken broth

nutmeg

salad greens

bread sticks

canned tropical fruit

Saturday

boneless

skinless chicken breast halves

vegetable oil

garlic

canned condensed reduced-fat cream of chicken soup

reduced-fat sour cream

reduced-fat or regular Monterey Jack cheese

dry white wine

Dijon mustard

jar marinated artichoke hearts

spinach fettuccine

fresh broccoli spears

lemon

crusty bread

store-bought Boston cream pie

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