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

MENU PLANNER

September 16, 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, a heat-and-eat meal that recycles leftovers, a budget meal, a meatless or "less meat" dish, an express meal, and an entertaining menu.

TUESDAY / Kids

Loren Jordan of Nashville, Tenn., won a prize in the Pillsbury Kids' Bake-Off for her Mexican Tortilla Bake. (I lightened the recipe slightly.) Serve Loren's winner with canned black beans and carrot sticks. Let your own future prizewinner make instant fat-free chocolate pudding (with skim milk) for dessert.

Loren Jordan's Mexican Tortilla Bake

Makes 12 tacos

Preparation time: less than 15 minutes

Cooking time: 15 to 20 minutes

Cooling time: 1 minute

1 pound ground chicken or turkey

1 16-ounce jar thick salsa

8 ounces shredded reduced-fat cheddar cheese (2 cups), divided

1/2 cup raisins

1/2 cup pimento-stuffed olives

1 12-count package 98 percent fat-free flour tortillas (10.5 ounces)

3 / 4 cup reduced-fat sour cream

Heat oven to 375. In a large nonstick skillet, cook chicken or turkey 6 to 8 minutes or until no longer pink, stirring frequently; drain. Add salsa, 1 1 / 4 cups of the cheese, raisins and olives; mix well. Cook 1 or 2 minutes or until thoroughly heated, stirring constantly. Spoon 1/3 cup chicken mixture down center of each tortilla. Fold over; secure edge with toothpick. Place on cookie sheet. Bake 8 to 10 minutes or until edges of tortilla are golden brown. Cool 1 minute; remove from cookie sheet and discard toothpicks; top each taco with 1 tablespoon cheese and 1 tablespoon sour cream. Serve immediately.

Per taco: 215 calories, 17 grams protein, 6 grams fat (28 percent calories from fat), 3.7 grams saturated fat, 20 grams carbohydrate, 40 milligrams cholesterol, 599 milligrams sodium, 2 grams fiber.

WEDNESDAY / Meatless

Put your slow cooker to work and prepare vegetable stew (see recipe). Serve it over spaghetti. Add spinach salad and garlic bread. Warm the leftover baked apples and top with a little extra cinnamon and fat-free vanilla ice cream.

Plan ahead: Save enough stew and any leftover spinach for Thursday. Save enough ice cream for Saturday.

Slow Cooker Vegetable Stew

Makes 10 cups

Preparation time: 15 minutes

Cooking time: 4 to 6 hours

8 ounces trimmed fresh green beans, halved

1 1/2 cups sliced onions

2 teaspoons minced garlic

1 small eggplant, cut into 1-inch chunks

1 pound yellow or zucchini squash, cut into 1-inch chunks

2 medium julienned green bell peppers

one 8-ounce peeled baking potato, cut into 1/2 -inch chunks

1 1/2 cups tomato sauce

3 tablespoons olive oil

1/2 teaspoon salt

Add green beans, onions and garlic to 4-quart slow cooker. Mix eggplant, squash, bell peppers, potato, tomato sauce, olive oil and salt in a bowl. Add to slow cooker. Cover and cook on high 4 hours or on low 6 hours or until tender.

Per cup: 103 calories, 3 grams protein, 4 grams fat (35 percent calories from fat), 0.6 grams saturated fat, 15 grams carbohydrate, no cholesterol, 336 milligrams sodium, 4 grams fiber.

THURSDAY / Budget

Eggs are great money stretchers, so make your own omelet and top with leftover vegetable stew tonight. If you have any leftover spinach, chop and add to your omelet. Follow the package directions and serve slices of polenta with the omelets. Add toasted English muffins. For dessert, pears are perfect.

Tip: Substitute scrambled eggs if your omelet skills are lacking.

FRIDAY / Express

Stir up sausage and lentil soup for a quick supper. Add 1 1/2 cups sliced low-fat sausage and a 10-ounce package frozen (and thawed) mixed vegetables to canned lentil soup. For thinner soup, add a can of chicken broth to the mixture. Cook until hot. Sprinkle with freshly grated Parmesan cheese. Serve with a packaged green salad and crackers.

For dessert, munch on red and green grapes.

SATURDAY / Easy Entertaining

Invite friends for casual dining on Steak, Pasta and Artichokes. Serve with tomato wedges and drizzle with olive oil. Add multigrain rolls. For dessert, serve hot-fudge sundaes -- fat-free hot-fudge sauce over vanilla ice cream.

Steak, Pasta and Artichokes

Makes 4 servings

Preparation time: 20 minutes

Cooking time: 16 to 21 minutes

Standing time: 10 minutes

Chilling time: 2 hours to overnight.

1 pound boneless sirloin steak (1 inch thick)

2 cups tri-colored rotini (spiral-shaped) pasta

1 14-ounce can drained water-packed artichoke hearts, quartered

1 large julienned red bell pepper

1/2 cup small pitted black olives

2 tablespoons thinly sliced fresh basil

1/3 cup reduced-fat red wine vinegar vinaigrette

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