Each day of the week offers a menu aimed at a different...

MENU PLANNER

March 25, 2001|By Susan Nicholson | Susan Nicholson,Universal Press Syndicate

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

Serve colorful Three-Pepper Beef Kebabs to the family today. Make packaged long-grain and wild rice to accompany it. Steam fresh baby carrots and add crusty rolls to the meal. Slice fat-free pound cake and top with fat-free strawberry ice cream for dessert.

Plan ahead: Save the two kebabs without vegetables and enough cake for Monday. Save enough ice cream for Tuesday.

Three-Pepper Beef Kebabs

Makes 6 kebabs (4 with vegetables; 2 without)

Preparation time: 15 minutes; Marinating time: 1 hour

Cooking time: 9 to 12 minutes

1 1/2 pounds well-trimmed sirloin steak, cut 1 inch thick

2 tablespoons vegetable oil

2 tablespoons each fresh lemon juice and water

1 tablespoon Dijon mustard

1 1/2 teaspoons honey

3 / 4 teaspoon dried oregano

1/2 teaspoon black pepper

1 each large green, red and yellow bell pepper, cut into 1 inch pieces

8 large whole fresh mushrooms

Cut beef into 1-inch pieces. In a large bowl, whisk together, oil, lemon juice, water, mustard, honey, oregano and black pepper; add beef, bell peppers and mushrooms, stirring to coat. Cover and refrigerate 1 hour, stirring occasionally. Remove beef and discard marinade. Alternately thread 1 pound of the beef pieces, all the bell peppers and all the mushrooms on each of four 12-inch skewers, reserving 1/2 pound beef. (No vegetables should remain.) Thread remaining beef on 2 skewers. Place all kebabs on rack in broiler pan 3 to 4 inches from heat. Broil 9 to 12 minutes for rare to medium, turning occasionally. Serve the vegetable-beef kebabs; reserve the others.

Per serving (kebabs with vegetables): 211 calories, 27 grams protein, 7 grams fat (30 percent calories from fat), 1.9 grams saturated fat, 11 grams carbohydrate, 69 milligrams cholesterol, 93 milligrams sodium, 3 grams fiber.

MONDAY / Heat & Eat

Use the two leftover kebabs and make Sirloin Citrus Salad. For citrus vinaigrette: in a 1-cup measure, combine 2 tablespoons each fresh orange juice and red-wine vinegar, 1 tablespoon olive oil, 2 teaspoons honey and 1 1 / 4 teaspoons Dijon mustard; mix well. For the salad: Cut leftover kebabs into thin slices. In a large bowl, toss sliced beef with 6 cups torn romaine lettuce and 3 oranges, peeled and separated into segments. Sprinkle with 1 / 4 cup toasted walnuts. Drizzle with citrus vinaigrette. Serve with canned minestrone soup and sesame bread sticks. Leftover cake is dessert.

TUESDAY / Kids

The kids can help prepare Turkey Chili-Cincinnati Style. Heat store-bought low-fat turkey chili and spoon over spaghetti. Top with shredded reduced-fat cheddar cheese. Serve with carrot and celery sticks and crackers. Scoop leftover ice cream for dessert.

Plan ahead: Cook enough spaghetti for Thursday.

WEDNESDAY / Meatless

Tonight's Steamed Cabbage With Tomato Sauce is easy cooked in the microwave. Serve with quick brown rice. Add crusty bread. End your meal with chunky applesauce and gingersnaps.

Steamed Cabbage with Tomato Sauce

Makes 4 servings

Preparation time: about 20 minutes

Cooking time: stove top, 19 minutes; microwave, 14 to 16 minutes

1 tablespoon olive oil

2 medium carrots,

chopped

2 medium celery ribs, sliced

1 medium chopped red bell pepper

3 garlic cloves, crushed in a garlic press

2 thinly sliced scallions

1 tablespoon peeled, minced fresh ginger

1 14 1/2 -ounce can Italian-style tomatoes and juice, chopped

2 tablespoons each soy sauce and rice vinegar

1 tablespoon packed light brown sugar

1 small head (about 1 1/2 pounds) cabbage cut into 4 wedges

1 / 4 cup water

Heat oil in a large nonstick skillet on medium-high until hot. Add carrots, celery and bell pepper and cook 12 minutes or until vegetables are softened. Add garlic, scallions and ginger and cook 2 minutes, stirring. Add tomatoes and juice, soy sauce, vinegar and sugar; heat to boiling. Reduce heat to low and simmer 5 minutes, stirring occasionally. Meanwhile, microwave cabbage and water on high (100 percent power) 12 to 14 minutes in covered 3-quart casserole; drain. Spoon vegetable tomato mixture over cabbage; cover and microwave 2 more minutes. Serve immediately.

Per serving: 144 calories, 5 grams protein, 4 grams fat (24 percent calories from fat), 0.5 grams saturated fat, 24 grams carbohydrate, no cholesterol, 661 milligrams sodium, 7 grams fiber.

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