A week's worth of quick, healthful meals for budget-minded families
SUNDAY: Our family is putting Pork Medallions With Cinnamon Couscous and Mango Chutney (see recipe) on our favorites list. Serve it with steamed fresh zucchini, a mixed green salad and crusty rolls. Buy or make banana pudding for dessert.
MONDAY: Stop by the deli for the always-popular barbecued rotisserie chicken. While you're there, add deli macaroni salad and coleslaw to your menu. Make cornbread and slice watermelon for dessert.
Plan ahead: Save enough coleslaw and watermelon for Tuesday.
TUESDAY: Keep it simple tonight and make Pinto Bean Chili. Heat 2 tablespoons olive oil in a Dutch oven on medium. Add 1 finely chopped onion; cook 7 minutes or until softened. Add 3 cloves minced garlic; cook 1 minute. Stir in 2 tablespoons chile powder, ¼ teaspoon chipotle chile powder and ¾ teaspoon cumin. Stir in 3 tablespoons tomato paste. Add 3 ½ cups unsalted vegetable broth, 8 ounces frozen white-kernel corn and 1 (8-ounce) can no-salt-added tomato sauce. Stir in 4 (15-ounce) cans pinto beans (rinsed). Cover; bring to a boil. Reduce heat to medium-low and simmer about 30 minutes. Stir in a handful of chopped fresh cilantro and serve with grated sharp cheddar cheese, finely chopped red onion, sour cream and corn chips for garnish. Add leftover coleslaw and your own fresh guacamole. Leftover watermelon is a sweet summer dessert.
WEDNESDAY: Here come the kids for Chicken Calzones! Heat oven to 400 degrees. Coat a baking sheet with cooking spray. On a lightly floured surface, roll 16 ounces of refrigerated pizza dough to form a 9-by-14-inch rectangle (¼-inch thick). Transfer to baking sheet. Spread ½ cup pizza sauce, 1 cup shredded part-skim mozzarella cheese, 1 cup cooked shredded carrots and 1 (6-ounce) can (drained) chicken breast over half the dough. Fold other half of dough over filling. Seal edges by pressing with the tines of a fork. Prick top with fork and coat with cooking spray. Bake 20 to 25 minutes or until crust is lightly browned. Cool 5 minutes, then cut and serve. Add celery sticks to munch on. For dessert, make a Sunshine Lemon Smoothie. In a blender, combine 2 cups milk, 2 cups lemon yogurt, ½ cup ice and 3 tablespoons powdered lemonade mix. Blend until mixture is smooth and creamy. Pour and drink.
THURSDAY: The family is always at the table on time when these Beef Stuffed Peppers (see recipe) are on the menu. Serve this updated family favorite with baked potatoes. We always have fresh green beans from the garden on the side. For dessert, peaches are all we want.
Plan ahead: Stuff and bake 2 extra peppers for Friday.
FRIDAY: Chop the leftover stuffed peppers and fill corn taco shells for Pepper Tacos tonight. Garnish them with shredded cheddar cheese and sour cream. Alongside, you'll want pinto beans. Fresh plums make a dandy dessert.
SATURDAY: Showcase your grilling skills to the family with your grilled salmon. Top it with this Cucumber Dill Sauce: In a small bowl, combine 5 tablespoons sour cream, ¼ cup seeded and diced cucumber, 1 tablespoon chopped fresh dill, ½ teaspoon light brown sugar, ¼ teaspoon coarse salt, ½ teaspoon hot pepper sauce and ¼ teaspoon white or black pepper. Serve the delicious combo with roasted red potatoes and steamed fresh asparagus. Add a baguette. For a special treat, slice Million-Dollar Pound Cake (see recipe) for dessert and top it with fresh strawberries.
Pork Medallions With Cinnamon Couscous and Mango Chutney
¼ teaspoon coarse salt
1 ¼ teaspoons ground black pepper
2 teaspoons cumin
2 teaspoons chile powder
1-pound pork tenderloin, well-trimmed and cut into ¾-inch-thick medallions
1 teaspoon cinnamon
1 teaspoon butter
1 ½ cups couscous
Mango or peach chutney for garnish
Combine salt, pepper, cumin and chile powder; rub mixture over all surfaces of medallions.
Broil tenderloin for 6 to 8 minutes or until internal temperature reaches 145 degrees; turn once.
Meanwhile, in a large saucepan, bring 2 ½ cups water, cinnamon and butter to a boil; stir in couscous. Cover, remove from heat and let stand 5 minutes. Serve medallions with couscous and chutney.
Makes 4 servings.
Nutrition information: Each serving contains approximately 380 calories, 30 g protein, 5 g fat, 52 g carbohydrate, 62 mg cholesterol, 210 mg sodium and 4 g fiber.
Carbohydrate choices: 3.5.
Beef Stuffed Peppers
4 medium red, green, yellow or orange bell peppers
1 pound (93% lean) ground beef
½ cup minced onion
2 teaspoons minced garlic
1 (14 ½-ounce) can diced tomatoes with green peppers and onions, drained
½ cup cooked brown or white rice
3 tablespoons tomato paste
1 tablespoon minced parsley, plus more for garnish
½ teaspoon coarse salt
¼ teaspoon black pepper
Cut tops from peppers (reserve); carefully remove seeds and membranes from peppers and discard. Arrange peppers, cut side down, in a large baking dish. Place tops in dish. Microwave on high 1 to 1 ½ minutes per pepper; drain, turn right side up in dish and set aside.
Heat oven to 450 degrees.
Meanwhile, heat a large nonstick skillet on medium until hot. Add ground beef, onion and garlic; cook 3 to 4 minutes, breaking beef apart; stir occasionally. Stir in tomatoes, rice, tomato paste, parsley, salt and black pepper; cook 3 to 4 minutes or until heated through, stirring occasionally. Divide mixture evenly among peppers; replace tops. Bake 17 to 22 minutes or until thermometer inserted into center of beef mixture reaches 160 degrees. Garnish with additional parsley.
Makes 4 servings.
Nutrition information: Each serving contains approximately 374 calories, 27 g protein, 13 g fat, 37 g carbohydrate, 65 mg cholesterol, 698 mg sodium and 7 g fiber.
Carbohydrate choices: 2.5.
Million-Dollar Pound Cake
1 pound butter, softened
3 cups sugar
4 cups all-purpose flour
¾ cup whole milk
1 teaspoon almond extract
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
Heat oven to 300 degrees. Grease and flour a 10-inch tube pan.
In an electric mixer, beat butter on medium until creamy and lighter-yellow color. Gradually add sugar, beating on medium, until a fluffy white. Add eggs, one at a time, beating just until yolk disappears. Add flour to creamed mixture, alternating with milk; begin and end with flour. Beat at low speed until just blended after each addition. (Batter should be smooth, and flour should be well-incorporated. If batter has lumps, stir gently with a rubber spatula.) Stir in almond extract and vanilla extract. Pour batter into prepared pan.
Bake 1 hour and 40 minutes or until a long wooden pick inserted in center of cake comes out clean. Cool in pan on wire rack 10 to 15 minutes. Remove from pan; cool completely on wire rack. (Adapted from Southern Living magazine.)
Cut into 16 slices.
Nutrition information: Each slice contains approximately 500 calories, 6 g protein, 26 g fat, 62 g carbohydrate, 132 mg cholesterol, 235 mg sodium and 1 g fiber.
Carbohydrate choices: 4.
Susan Nicholson is an Atlanta-based cookbook author and registered dietitian. She can be reached by email: