7 Day Menu Planner

Editor’s note: Chili night continues through the week of Feb 4.

1/ 28

Family Sunday

The flavor of Braised Chicken With Fennel and White Beans (see recipe) is hard to beat for family day. Add a red-tipped lettuce salad and dinner rolls. Buy a deep-dish apple pie for dessert.

Plan ahead: Save enough chicken and pie for Monday.

1/ 29

Heat-and-Eat Monday

Use the chicken leftovers for Pasta With Chicken and Marinara Sauce. Shred some of the leftover chicken and add it to any marinara sauce. Spoon it over rotini pasta and garnish with freshly grated Parmesan cheese. Keep it simple with a mixed green salad and whole-grain rolls. Warm the leftover pie for dessert.

1/ 30

Budget Tuesday

We’re crazy about a bowl of Beef and Vegetable Soup on a cold winter night. In a 4-quart or larger slow cooker, place 3 medium Yukon gold potatoes, peeled and cut into 1/2-inch cubes, 2 chopped medium onions, 3 large carrots, sliced to 1/4 inch, and 3 sliced medium ribs of celery. Place 1 pound well-trimmed 1/2-inch beef cubes on top of vegetables. Add 3 cups water, 1 (14 1/2-ounce) can undrained no-salt-added diced tomatoes, 3 crushed beef bouillon cubes, 1/3 cup ketchup, 1 bay leaf and 1/3 cup pearl barley, stirring to combine. Cover and cook on low 7 to 8 hours or on high 4 to 5 hours. Remove bay leaf; stir and serve. Add a spinach salad and Wheat Thins. Keep dessert light with sliced peaches.

Tip: For better flavor, brown the beef before adding to the slow cooker.

1/ 31

Meatless Wednesday

Lemon and Tomato Risotto (see recipe) will become one of your favorites. Serve with a lettuce wedge and Italian bread. For dessert, munch on peanut butter cookies.

2/ 1

Kids Thursday

The kids will give you a big hug when you serve Skillet Lasagna for dinner. Cook 1 pound lean ground beef, 1/4 cup chopped onion and 1/2 cup chopped carrots in a Dutch oven on medium-high about 6 minutes or until beef is no longer pink. Drain. Stir in 1 1/2 cups mafalda (mini lasagna noodles), 1 1/2 cups water, 1/2 teaspoon Italian seasoning, 2 cups red pasta sauce and 8 ounces sliced fresh mushrooms. Heat to boiling, stirring occasionally. Reduce heat to low; simmer, uncovered, 10 minutes or until pasta is tender. Sprinkle with 1/3 cup shredded low-fat mozzarella. Add a chopped lettuce salad. Red and green grapes are an easy dessert.

Tip: To substitute for mafalda pasta, use pieces of broken lasagna noodles.

2/ 2

Express Friday

Tonight’s Ravioli Casserole is quick to put together. Crumble 1 pound lean ground beef into a 2-quart casserole. Add 1/4 cup chopped onion. Cover and microwave on high (100 percent power) 5 to 6 minutes, stirring after 3 minutes, or until beef is no longer pink; drain. Stir in 2 (15-ounce) cans beef ravioli. Cover and microwave on high 5 to 7 minutes or until hot. Stir once. Sprinkle with 1 cup shredded 50 percent light cheddar cheese. Cover and let stand until cheese melts. Serve with Italian bread and a packaged green salad. For dessert, deli brownies are welcome.

2/ 3

Easy Entertaining Saturday

Invite guests for delicious Lamb Chili With Sweet Potatoes, Black Beans and Poblanos (see recipe). Serve it with a leafy lettuce salad and sourdough bread.

For dessert, triple berry granola crisp is delicious. Heat oven to 375 degrees. In an ungreased 8-by-8-inch baking dish, mix 1 (10-ounce) bag each of frozen blueberries, strawberries and raspberries, 1/4 cup sugar and 2 tablespoons flour until berries are coated. Bake 20 minutes. Stir; sprinkle with 1 1/2 cups oats-and-honey granola. Bake 15 minutes longer or until light golden and bubbly. Let stand 5 to 10 minutes before serving with vanilla ice cream.

** ** **


Braised Chicken With Fennel and White Beans (Sunday)

2 tablespoons olive oil

1 1/2 pounds skinless bone-in chicken thighs

1 1/2 pounds skinless bone-in chicken breasts

1/8 teaspoon black pepper

1 small onion, cut into thin wedges

2 large cloves garlic, minced

1 fennel bulb, quartered, cored and thinly sliced

1 medium yellow bell pepper, cut into bite-size strips

1 (28-ounce) can diced fire-roasted tomatoes (such as Muir Glen or another brand), undrained

1/2 cup dry white wine

1 tablespoon chopped fresh rosemary

1 (15- to 19-ounce) can reduced-sodium cannellini beans, rinsed

Chopped flatleaf parsley for garnish

Heat oil in a large, deep skillet on medium-high. Sprinkle chicken with black pepper. Add chicken to skillet and cook 6 minutes, turning occasionally until lightly browned. Remove chicken from pan. To skillet, add onion, garlic, fennel and bell pepper. Cook 3 minutes, stirring constantly, until vegetables are softened. Add chicken, tomatoes, wine and rosemary. Heat to boiling. Reduce heat; cover and simmer 20 to 25 minutes or until chicken is tender, turning chicken once. Uncover; mix in beans. Cook, uncovered, about 5 minutes more or until sauce is slightly thickened and juices run clear. Serve in shallow bowls; garnish with parsley. Serves 8.

Per serving: 292 calories (percent calories from fat, 29), 30 grams protein, 20 grams carbohydrate, 5 grams fiber, 9 grams fat (2 grams saturated fat), 104 milligrams cholesterol, 438 milligrams sodium.

** ** **

Lemon and Tomato Risotto (Wednesday)

4 cups unsalted vegetable broth

1/2 teaspoon coarse salt

1 tablespoon olive oil

3 shallots, finely chopped

1 cup arborio rice, uncooked

1 cup grape tomatoes, halved

2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice

1/2 teaspoon lemon zest (yellow part only)

Heat broth in a 2-quart saucepan over medium until it begins to simmer. Add salt; reduce heat to low and keep warm. Meanwhile, heat oil in a large saucepan over medium. Add shallots; cook 3 minutes or until soft. Add rice; cook and stir 2 or 3 minutes. Increase heat to medium-high; stir in 1 cup broth. Cook uncovered, stirring frequently, until broth is absorbed. Continue stirring and adding remaining broth, 1 cup at a time, allowing each cup to be absorbed before adding another. Cook until rice is tender and mixture has a creamy consistency, about 25 to 30 minutes. Stir in tomatoes, lemon juice and lemon zest. Serve immediately. Serves 4.

Per serving: 235 calories (percent calories from fat, 14), 4 grams protein, 47 grams carbohydrate, 2 grams fiber, 4 grams fat (0.5 gram saturated fat), no cholesterol, 445 milligrams sodium.

** ** **

Lamb Chili With Sweet Potatoes, Black Beans and Poblanos (Saturday)

2 teaspoons olive oil

1 pound ground American lamb

1 medium onion, chopped

2 poblano peppers, seeded and chopped

2 cloves garlic, minced

2 tablespoons chili powder

2 1/2 cups lamb stock or low-sodium beef broth

2 (14.5-ounce) cans no-salt-added diced tomatoes, undrained

1 teaspoon coarse salt

1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper

1 (12-ounce) sweet potato, peeled and cut into 1/3-inch cubes

3 cups cooked or canned reduced-sodium black beans

Garnishes: chopped cilantro, lime wedges, diced avocado, sour cream, shredded cheddar cheese and broken tortilla chips as desired.

Heat oil in large pot on medium-high. Add lamb; break into chunks. Stir in onion, poblano peppers and garlic and cook 15 to 20 minutes or until excess water evaporates, lamb is browned and vegetables are softened. Stir in chili powder; cook 30 seconds. Stir in stock, tomatoes, salt and black pepper; bring to boil. Reduce heat to medium-low, partially cover and cook 30 minutes at a gentle simmer. Uncover; stir in potato and beans. Continue simmering 30 minutes or until potatoes are tender and flavors blend. For thicker chili, leave pot uncovered until desired consistency. Garnish as desired and serve. Makes about 9 1/2 cups.

Per cup: 211 calories (percent calories from fat, 17), 16 grams protein, 28 grams carbohydrate, 7 grams fiber, 4 grams fat (1.1 grams saturated fat), 27 milligrams cholesterol, 291 milligrams sodium.

Susan Nicholson is an Atlanta-based cookbook author and registered dietitian. She can be reached by email: susan@7daymenu.com. Follow Susan on Twitter: @7DayMenu. The Menu Planner is also accessible at 7daymenuplanner.com. “7-Day Menu Planner: Spring,” “7-Day Menu Planner: Mid-Winter Repasts” and “7-Day Menu Planner: The Holiday Season” are available at online retailers. And “7-Day Menu Planner for Dummies” is on shelves now.

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