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story.lead_photo.caption Balsamic Marinated Flank Steak (Courtesy of Cattlemen’s Beef Board)

A week's worth of quick, healthful meals for budget-minded families

SUNDAY: Family day is special when you serve Chicken Cutlets With Dijon-Tarragon Sauce (see recipe). Serve the flavorful recipe over rice and have fresh broccoli. Add a baguette on the side. For dessert, buy a cherry cobbler and top it with chocolate ice cream.

Plan ahead: Save enough cobbler for Tuesday; save enough ice cream for Friday.

MONDAY: Keep your budget in line with Winter-Spiced Beef and Apple Stew (see recipe). Serve with deli coleslaw and biscuits. Plums are a light dessert.

Plan ahead: Save enough stew for Tuesday.

TUESDAY: Enjoy the leftover stew tonight, which will be even better now that the flavors have blended. Add a romaine salad and whole-grain rolls. Warm the leftover cobbler and top it with light whipped cream for dessert.

WEDNESDAY: Caprese Avocado "Cheeseburgers" are a perfect no-meat dinner. Toast 4 halved whole-grain English muffins. Transfer to a plate, cut side up. Immediately sprinkle each top half with 2 tablespoons shredded mozzarella cheese. On each bottom half, arrange 1 sliced avocado quarter, 4 fresh basil leaves and thinly sliced red onion to taste. Toss 2 cups arugula with 4 teaspoons olive oil and 2 teaspoons balsamic vinegar; set aside. Brush rounded side of 4 large portobello mushroom caps with 2 more teaspoons olive oil; sprinkle gill side with coarse salt and pepper. Heat a large nonstick skillet on medium-high. Cover and cook mushrooms, gill-side up, 3 minutes. Reduce heat to medium; turn, cover and cook mushrooms 3 more minutes or until cooked through. Place gill-side up on bottom muffin halves. Top with sliced tomatoes and the dressed arugula. Add muffin top and serve. (Adapted from "The With or Without Meat Cookbook" by Jackie Newgent, American Diabetes Association, 2014) Add deli carrot salad on the side. Buy vanilla pudding and top with strawberries for dessert.

THURSDAY: Celebrate New Year's Eve and enjoy delicious Balsamic Marinated Flank Steak (see recipe). Serve with roasted red potatoes, carrots and onions (toss with olive oil, add coarse salt and pepper to taste and roast in a 425-degree oven on a flat baking sheet covered with nonstick foil, 30 to 35 minutes). Add a bibb lettuce salad and dinner rolls. For dessert, check your favorite pastry shop for Peach Melba. Happy New Year!

FRIDAY: It wouldn't be a proper New Year's Day without Black-Eyed Peas With Ham. Combine 2 ham hocks (about 1 ¼ to 1 ½ pounds total) with enough water to cover. Bring to a boil; reduce heat and simmer 1 hour. Meanwhile, rinse and pick over 1 pound dry black-eyed peas; place peas in 4-quart or larger slow cooker. Top with ham hocks, 4 cups of the ham hock water, 1 teaspoon minced garlic, 2 medium onions (cut into thin wedges), 1 (14.5-ounce) can diced tomatoes with jalapeno peppers (with liquid), and coarse salt and pepper to taste. Cook on low 5 to 7 hours or until peas are soft, but not mushy. (I cooked mine for 5 hours, and they were perfect, but it depends on your cooker.) Remove ham hocks and discard the fat. Add meat from hocks back to the peas; mix well. Serve with collard greens and cornbread. For dessert, leftover ice cream is simple.

SATURDAY: Try any frozen shrimp entree for an easy meal. Accompany it with any pasta tossed with pesto sauce, a packaged green salad and garlic bread. Keep dessert simple and enjoy some pears.

THE RECIPES

Chicken Cutlets With Dijon-Tarragon Sauce

  • 4 (4- or 5-ounce) chicken cutlets
  • Coarse salt and ground black pepper to taste
  • 1 tablespoon canola oil
  • 2 shallots, peeled and sliced
  • ¼ cup dry white wine or unsalted chicken broth
  • 2 tablespoons Dijon mustard
  • ¼ teaspoon dried tarragon
  • 1 cup half-and-half

Season chicken on both sides with salt and pepper to taste; set aside.

In a large skillet, heat oil on medium-high. Add chicken and cook 2 to 3 minutes or until browned, turning once. Transfer chicken to a plate and cover to keep warm. Add shallots to skillet and cook 2 minutes or just until browned. Add wine or broth; deglaze pan (loosen browned bits on skillet), bring to a boil and simmer to reduce liquid by half. Add mustard, tarragon and half-and-half, stirring gently until ingredients are well-mixed. Add chicken and any accumulated juices back to skillet; bring to a simmer and cook 5 minutes. Serve.

Makes 4 servings.

Nutrition information: Each serving contains approximately 260 calories, 27 g protein, 14 g fat, 5 g carbohydrate, 95 mg cholesterol, 311 mg sodium and no fiber.

Carbohydrate choices: 0.5.

■ ■ ■

Winter-Spiced Beef and Apple Stew

  • 4 teaspoons cumin seeds
  • 1 ½ pounds lean beef stew meat, cut into 1-inch pieces
  • 2 tablespoons all-purpose flour
  • 1 (14-ounce) can unsalted beef broth
  • 3 ounces frozen apple juice concentrate, undiluted
  • 1 ½ teaspoons dried thyme
  • ½ teaspoon allspice
  • ½ teaspoon ground black pepper
  • ½ teaspoon coarse salt
  • 3 medium sweet potatoes, peeled and cut into 1-inch pieces
  • 2 medium Granny Smith apples, peeled, cored and cut into 1 ½-inch pieces

Heat a small nonstick skillet on medium. Add cumin seeds, stirring constantly; cook for 1 minute or until aromatic. Remove from pan; set aside. Add beef to 4-quart or larger slow cooker; sprinkle with flour. Toss to coat. Add cumin seeds, broth, apple juice concentrate, thyme, allspice, pepper, salt, potatoes and apples. Stir to combine. Cook on low 7 to 8 hours or on high 3 ½ to 4 hours.

Makes 8 servings.

Nutrition information: Each serving contains approximately 229 calories, 18 g protein, 6 g fat, 25 g carbohydrate, 53 mg cholesterol, 219 mg sodium and 3 g fiber.

Carbohydrate choices: 1.5.

■ ■ ■

Balsamic Marinated Flank Steak

  • ¼ cup balsamic vinegar
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1 tablespoon chopped fresh basil leaves
  • 1 ½ teaspoons Dijon-style mustard
  • 1 teaspoon minced garlic
  • ½ teaspoon sugar
  • 1 beef flank steak (about 1 to 1 ½ pounds)
  • Coarse salt and ground black pepper to taste

Combine vinegar, oil, basil, mustard, garlic and sugar in small bowl. Place steak and marinade in resealable plastic bag; close securely and turn steak to coat. Marinate in refrigerator 6 hours or overnight, turning occasionally. Remove steak; discard marinade. Place steak on grill over medium, ash-covered coals. Grill, covered, 11 to 16 minutes (or 16 to 21 minutes over medium heat on heated gas grill) for medium-rare to medium doneness, turning occasionally. Season steak with salt and pepper to taste. Carve steak crosswise into thin slices and serve.

Makes 4 servings.

Nutrition information: Each serving contains approximately 160 calories, 23 g protein, 7 g fat, no carbohydrate, 65 mg cholesterol, 84 mg sodium and no fiber.

Carbohydrate choices: 0

Susan Nicholson is an Atlanta-based cookbook author and registered dietitian. She can be reached by email: susan@7daymenu.com

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