Editor’s note: This week, the Menu Planner is making some fun and seasonal changes. From this week through Super Bowl Sunday (Feb. 4), you’ll find a different chili every week to complement the colder weather. The chili can appear any night. This week, the Chili night is Wednesday; there’s no Kid night.
Make Flank Steak With Corn Relish for the family today. Trim a 1 1/2-pound flank steak and place in a resealable plastic bag. Mix together 1/2 cup dry red wine, 1/3 cup chopped sweet onion (such as Vidalia), 1 tablespoon low-sodium soy sauce and 2 cloves minced garlic. Add to bag, seal and refrigerate 30 minutes to overnight. Heat grill to medium. Remove steak from bag and discard marinade. Sprinkle both sides of steak with coarse salt and pepper. Grill, covered, 11 to 16 minutes (on preheated gas grill, 16 to 21 minutes) for medium-rare (145 degrees) to medium (160 degrees) doneness, turning occasionally. Carve steak across grain into thin slices.
For the relish: Combine 1 (11-ounce) can drained corn with peppers and onions, 1 tablespoon fresh lime juice, 1 teaspoon olive oil and 1 teaspoon sugar, and mix well. Serve with steak.
Add oven-baked potato wedges, steamed fresh snow peas and sourdough bread. For dessert, strawberry ice cream is a sweet treat.
Plan ahead: Save enough steak for Monday; save enough ice cream for Tuesday.
Add some extra pennies to your purse and serve Stuffed Baked Potatoes with beef and gravy tonight. Chop the leftover beef and add to brown gravy. Heat and top split baked potatoes with the mixture. Serve with mixed vegetables (from frozen) and whole-grain rolls. Orange sections make an easy dessert.
Tuna Salad Sandwiches make a quick meal. Spread deli tuna salad on whole-grain toast and add lettuce and sliced tomatoes. Serve with chicken noodle soup. Leftover ice cream is a fine dessert.
This Chickpea and Swiss Chard Chili (see recipe) will take your taste buds in a new direction. Add celery sticks with hummus and crusty rolls. Gingersnaps and sliced apples are a crunchy dessert.
It’s beautiful, vegetarian and delicious, so Stuffed Spaghetti Squash With Pecans, Kale and Dried Cranberries (see recipe) will please everyone. Serve it with black beans, mixed greens and bran muffins. Make butterscotch pudding with 1 percent milk for dessert.
Plan ahead: Prepare enough pudding for Friday.
Savory Beet and Goat Cheese Tart (see recipe) will please everyone. Serve it with a spinach salad with hard-boiled egg slices. Add leftover butterscotch pudding for dessert.
Easy Entertaining Saturday
Expect rave reviews when you serve your guests Fish Fillets With Lemon Caper Sauce. Heat 1 tablespoon olive oil in a large nonstick skillet on medium. Sprinkle 6-ounce tilapia (or sole or flounder) fillets with coarse salt and pepper to taste. Place fish in pan; cook 3 minutes on each side or until fish is opaque throughout. Remove fish from pan and cover to keep warm. Melt 1 teaspoon butter in pan. Add 1 clove minced garlic; cook 1 minute or until lightly browned. Add 3/4 cup unsalted chicken broth, scraping pan to loosen browned bits. Bring to boil; cook until reduced to 1/4 cup (about 6 minutes). Stir in 2 tablespoons capers and 1 tablespoon lemon juice; cook 3 minutes or until sauce is slightly thickened. Remove from heat; stir in 1 tablespoon minced flatleaf parsley. Spoon sauce over fish and serve immediately.
Add quinoa pilaf, fresh broccoli, a Boston lettuce salad and baguette. Cheesecake with blueberries is a perfect dessert.
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Chickpea and Swiss Chard Chili (Wednesday)
6 slices bacon, chopped
1 large onion, chopped
1/2 cup baby carrots, halved
2 cloves garlic, thinly sliced
Coarse salt to taste
Pepper to taste
1 (28-ounce) can crushed tomatoes
2 cups unsalted chicken stock or broth
2 (15-ounce) cans reduced-sodium chickpeas, rinsed
1 pound Swiss chard, leaves and stems chopped
3 chipotles in adobo sauce, minced
Shredded Monterey jack cheese for garnish
In a Dutch oven on medium-high, cook bacon 7 minutes, stirring occasionally, until the fat is rendered. Add onion, carrots, garlic, salt and pepper and cook 8 to 10 minutes. Add tomatoes, stock, chickpeas, chard and chipotles; bring to boil. Simmer on medium-low 10 minutes or until chili is thickened and chard is wilted and just tender. Garnish with cheese. (Adapted from Food and Wine magazine.) Serves 6.
Per serving: 250 calories (percent calories from fat, 12), 14 grams protein, 42 grams carbohydrate, 13 grams fiber, 3 grams fat (0.9 gram saturated fat), 7 milligrams cholesterol, 853 milligrams sodium.
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Stuffed Spaghetti Squash With Pecans, Kale and Dried Cranberries (Thursday)
1 spaghetti squash (2 to 2 1/2 pounds), cut in half horizontally
1 tablespoon olive oil
1/2 medium onion, chopped
3 cloves garlic, coarsely chopped
2 heaping handfuls chopped kale or spinach
1/4 cup pecan halves
1/4 cup dried cranberries
4 to 5 fresh sage leaves, torn (optional)
1/4 teaspoon coarse salt, plus additional to taste
1/4 teaspoon pepper, plus additional to taste
2 teaspoons balsamic vinegar
2 teaspoons maple syrup, plus additional to taste
Cut squash in half; scoop out seeds. Slice each bottom to create a flat surface. Microwave 6 minutes per pound, cut side down in baking dish; let stand 3 minutes; drain.
Meanwhile, heat oil in a large nonstick skillet on medium-high and add onion. Cook 2 to 3 minutes. Lower heat to medium. Add garlic; cook 2 to 3 minutes, until fragrant and golden. Add kale, pecans and dried cranberries; continue stirring, lowering heat if necessary, until kale is wilted. Stir in sage, salt and pepper. Add vinegar and syrup. Turn heat off.
Unravel and fluff the squash strands with a fork. Sprinkle each half with a generous pinch of salt and pepper, a drizzle of oil and syrup (about a teaspoon each), and toss the strands well with fork.
Divide the filling between the two shells; using a fork, gently mix it with the strands and mound it up high. Taste, adjust salt and syrup, and serve. Serves 2.
Note: Double the ingredients for 4 servings.
Per serving: 315 calories (percent calories from fat, 46), 5 grams protein, 41 grams carbohydrate, 6 grams fiber, 17 grams fat (2 grams saturated fat), no cholesterol, 291 milligrams sodium.
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Savory Beet and Goat Cheese Tart (Friday)
1 tablespoon olive oil
1 large onion, thinly sliced (about 2 cups)
1 refrigerated pie crust (from a 15-ounce package)
1 (16-ounce) jar sliced pickled beets, well-drained
1 (8-ounce) package herb-and-garlic goat cheese
1 teaspoon dried thyme (or 2 tablespoons fresh, chopped)
Heat oven to 450 degrees. In a large nonstick skillet, heat oil on medium-high. Add onion; cook and stir 15 minutes or until golden brown. Remove from heat. Unroll crust and place on ungreased baking sheet. Spread onion evenly over crust, leaving a 1-inch border. Arrange beets over onions and dot with goat cheese. Sprinkle with thyme. Fold about 2 inches of pastry edge over beets, crimping edges to fit. (Center will be uncovered.) Bake 20 minutes or until crust is golden. Slice into wedges and serve. Serves 8.
Per serving: 230 calories (percent calories from fat, 50), 4 grams protein, 26 grams carbohydrate, 2 grams fiber, 13 grams fat (6.2 grams saturated fat), 23 milligrams cholesterol, 337 milligrams sodium.
Susan Nicholson is an Atlanta-based cookbook author and registered dietitian. She can be reached by email: firstname.lastname@example.org. The Menu Planner is also accessible at 7daymenuplanner.com. “7-Day Menu Planner for Dummies” is on shelves now.