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

MENU PLANNER

May 06, 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

Fire up the grill for your own chicken breasts for family day. Serve with Roasted Potatoes With Garlic Lemon and Oregano. It's the season for fresh asparagus, so take advantage of the springtime treat. Add crusty bread. Buy a coconut layer cake for dessert.

Plan ahead: Prepare 2 extra chicken breasts and save enough cake for Monday.

Roasted Potatoes With Garlic Lemon and Oregano

Makes 8 servings

Preparation time: 15 minutes

Cooking time: about 40 minutes

3 pounds peeled baking potatoes, cut into 1 1/2 -inch cubes

2 tablespoons olive oil

4 minced cloves garlic

1 1/2 teaspoons dried oregano

1 teaspoon salt

freshly ground black pepper

1/2 cup fat-free chicken broth

1/3 cup fresh lemon juice

2 to 3 tablespoons chopped fresh oregano

Heat oven to 400 degrees. Place potatoes in a single layer in a 9-by-13-inch baking dish and pour oil over them. Add garlic, dried oregano, salt and pepper to taste and toss to coat with oil. Bake 15 minutes. Add broth, toss and bake 10 more minutes. Add lemon juice, toss and bake 10 to 15 minutes or until the potatoes are cooked through. If desired, heat broiler and brown 2 to 3 minutes or until golden brown. Sprinkle with fresh oregano and serve immediately. Adapted from "The Foods of the Greek Islands" by Aglaia Kremezi (Houghton Mifflin, $35, 2000).

Per serving: 172 calories, 4 grams protein, 4 grams fat (18 percent calories from fat), 0.5 grams saturated fat, 32 grams carbohydrate, no cholesterol, 329 milligrams sodium, 3 grams fiber

MONDAY / HEAT & EAT

Orzo and Mushroom Risotto With Chicken is hearty and creamy like the traditional risotto, even though you're using orzo pasta instead of arborio rice. Serve with a spinach salad and Italian bread.

Slice the leftover cake for dessert.

Plan ahead: If time permits, prepare soup and brown rice for Tuesday.

Orzo and Mushroom Risotto With Chicken

Makes 4 servings

Preparation time: about 25 minutes

Cooking time: about 20 minutes

two 14 1/2 -ounce cans seasoned chicken broth with Italian herbs (like Swanson)

1 1/2 cups water

1 tablespoon olive oil

8 ounces each sliced shiitake mushrooms, sliced white mushrooms and orzo pasta

two 4 or 5 ounce chopped (leftover) cooked chicken breasts

1 / 4 cup freshly grated Parmesan cheese

In a large saucepan, combine broth and water and bring to a simmer over medium-high heat. Heat oil in a large nonstick skillet over medium-high. Add both mushrooms to skillet; cover and cook 2 minutes or until softened. Add orzo and cook 1 minute or until lightly toasted. Set aside 1 cup hot broth mixture. Gradually add remaining broth to orzo, 1 cup at a time, every 2 to 3 minutes, stirring occasionally. (Mixture will be soupy, but don't worry.) Add chicken and reserved cup broth and cook 2 to 4 minutes or until thickened. Stir in Parmesan and serve.

Per serving: 418 calories, 32 grams protein, 10 grams fat (23 percent calories from fat), 2.9 grams saturated fat, 48 grams carbohydrate, 53 milligrams cholesterol, 1073 milligrams sodium, 3 grams fiber

TUESDAY / Budget

Tighten your purse strings with Black Bean Soup With Chorizo. The spiciness level depends on the chorizo you use. Spoon over brown rice. Serve with deli coleslaw and whole-wheat rolls. How about cupcakes for dessert?

Plan ahead: Prepare enough brown rice, label and freeze for Friday.

Black Bean Soup With Chorizo

Makes 10 cups

Preparation time: 10 minutes

Cooking time: 4 to 5 hours

8 ounces chorizo (discard skin)

2 small chopped onions

2 cloves minced garlic

2 large chopped green bell peppers

1 / 4 cup dry sherry

1 tablespoon cumin

2 bay leaves

2 15-ounce cans black beans with juice

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

juice of 2 limes

2 tablespoons chopped cilantro

1/2 teaspoon each salt and pepper

1/2 cup chopped roasted red peppers (or 1 drained 7-ounce jar)

Heat a large nonstick skillet over medium-high heat and cook chorizo 2 minutes. Add onions, garlic and bell peppers and cook 5 minutes. Spoon into slow cooker. Add sherry, cumin, bay leaves, beans and juice, and broth. Cover and cook on low 4 to 5 hours. Remove lid. Scoop out 1 cup beans and mash with a fork. Return to cooker. Add lime juice, cilantro, salt and pepper, and red peppers. Mix well, increase heat to high and cook 5 minutes. Stir and serve.

Per serving: 214 calories, 12 grams protein, 10 grams fat (41 percent calories from fat), 3.3 grams saturated fat, 19 grams carbohydrate, 20 milligrams cholesterol , 863 milligrams sodium, 6 grams fiber

WEDNESDAY / Express

Make it quick tonight with Ham Steak With Sweet and Tart Salsa.

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