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story.lead_photo.caption Eyeball Pizza Courtesy of Gwynn Galvin, SwirlsOfFlavor.com

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

SUNDAY: This Spice-Rubbed Pork Loin Roast sets the stage for a family gathering. Heat oven to 350 degrees. Pat 1 (2-pound) well-trimmed boneless pork loin roast with paper towels. In a jar with a tight-fitting lid, combine 1 tablespoon chile powder, 1 tablespoon cumin, 1 teaspoon cinnamon, 1 teaspoon brown sugar, 1 teaspoon crushed red pepper, ½ teaspoon coarse salt, 2 teaspoons black pepper and 2 teaspoons ground coriander. Mix well. Use 2 to 3 tablespoons of rub to season all surfaces of roast. Place roast in shallow pan and bake 20 minutes per pound or until internal temperature reaches 145 degrees. Remove from oven and let stand 5 minutes before slicing. Serve with baked sweet potatoes and steamed fresh cauliflower sprinkled with chopped fresh parsley. Add dinner rolls. Buy a chocolate meringue pie for dessert.

Plan ahead: Prepare Monday's entree today if time permits. Save enough pie for Tuesday and enough pork for Wednesday.

MONDAY: We added Barley and Black Bean Pilaf (see recipe) to our meatless favorites file. Add a spinach salad and a baguette. Fresh grapes are a simple dessert.

Plan ahead: Save enough pilaf for Wednesday.

TUESDAY: Make a Turkey Cranberry Sandwich on honey-wheat bread. Spread the bread with deli cranberry mustard. Top with deli sliced turkey, sliced Muenster cheese and baby greens. Alongside, add deli vegetable soup. How about a slice of leftover pie for dessert?

WEDNESDAY: Make Pork and Bean Stew tonight. Chop Sunday's leftover cooked pork and add it to the leftover pilaf from Monday, along with some cooked rice; mix well. Heat and eat. On the side, add a mixed green salad and whole-grain rolls. Fresh pineapple spears make a good dessert.

THURSDAY: Kids will welcome Cube Steaks for dinner. Lightly coat the tender steaks with flour and pan-fry in a skillet on medium in a little canola oil until cooked through. Serve gravy on the side, along with mashed potatoes, peas and carrots (from frozen) and soft bread sticks. Let the children help you prepare Peanut Butter and Banana Wraps for dessert: Spread 2 tablespoons creamy peanut butter on each of 4 whole-wheat flour tortillas. Drizzle 1 or 2 teaspoons honey over each tortilla. Top with banana slices and miniature chocolate chips. Roll and secure with toothpicks.

FRIDAY: Use hominy instead of the traditional beans in this Chunky Chicken Chili (see recipe) and you'll like the result. Serve with a lettuce wedge and crumbled blue cheese. Add cornbread. For dessert, plums are light.

SATURDAY: Scare the family with icky Eyeball Pizza (see recipe)! Munch on carrot sticks on the side. Halloween cupcakes are dessert.

THE RECIPES

Barley and Black Bean Pilaf

  • 1 tablespoon canola oil
  • 1 medium onion, chopped
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 4 cups unsalted vegetable broth
  • 1 cup uncooked pearled barley
  • ½ teaspoon turmeric
  • ½ teaspoon cumin
  • ½ teaspoon chipotle chile powder
  • ½ teaspoon coarse salt
  • 2 medium yellow squash, halved lengthwise, then cut crosswise in ½-inch slices
  • 1 large red bell pepper, coarsely chopped
  • 1 (15-ounce) can reduced-sodium black beans (rinsed)
  • 1 cup frozen green peas, thawed

In a large skillet, heat oil on medium. Add onion and garlic; cook 4 minutes, stirring occasionally. Stir in broth, barley, turmeric, cumin, chile powder and salt. Heat to boiling. Reduce heat to low; cover and simmer 40 minutes, stirring occasionally. Stir in squash, bell pepper and beans. Cover; cook 10 to 15 minutes, stirring occasionally, until squash and barley are just tender. Stir in peas. Cover; cook 3 to 5 minutes or until peas are cooked. Let stand 5 minutes, covered, to blend flavors.

Makes 9 cups.

Nutrition information: Each cup contains approximately 172 calories, 6 g protein, 2 g fat, 34 g carbohydrate, no cholesterol, 265 mg sodium and 8 g fiber.

Carbohydrate choices: 2.5.

Chunky Chicken Chili

  • 2 pounds well-trimmed boneless skinless chicken thighs
  • 1 (10-ounce) can no-salt-added diced tomatoes with green chiles (mild to original), with liquid
  • 1 (8-ounce) can no-salt-added tomato sauce
  • 1 (1 ¼-ounce) packet less-sodium chili seasoning
  • 2 (15 ½-ounce) cans hominy, rinsed
  • Sour cream, optional
  • Chopped cilantro, optional

Place chicken in a 4-quart or larger slow cooker.

In a medium bowl, combine tomatoes with green chiles and liquid, tomato sauce and chili seasoning mix. Mix well and pour over chicken. Cover and cook on low 7 to 8 hours or until chicken is no longer pink. Stir to break up chicken. Mix in hominy; cover and cook on low 15 minutes or until heated through. Serve with sour cream and cilantro, optional.

Makes 8 servings.

Nutrition information: Each serving contains approximately 229 calories, 25 g protein, 5 g fat, 23 g carbohydrate, 108 mg cholesterol, 655 mg sodium and 3 g fiber.

Carbohydrate choices: 1.5.

Eyeball Pizza

  • ¾ cup pizza sauce, divided use
  • 1 (14-ounce) prepared pizza crust
  • 1 cup shredded mozzarella
  • 8 bocconcini, halved (small nuggets of mozzarella, usually about 1 inch)
  • 4 pimento-stuffed green olives, drained and cut crosswise into 16 slices total

Heat oven to 450 degrees. Coat pizza pan with cooking spray.

Reserve 1 tablespoon of pizza sauce.

Place crust on prepared pan. Top with remaining sauce, mozzarella and bocconcini halves, flat sides down. Bake 10 minutes. Remove from oven. Place 1 olive slice in middle of each bocconcini to form "eyeballs." Bake 5 to 7 more minutes or until cheese is melted and crust is heated through. Place reserved pizza sauce in small plastic bag. Snip off one corner. Pipe sauce onto bocconcini eyeballs for "bloodshot" effect. (Recipe adapted from www.SwirlsOfFlavor.com.)

Makes 6 servings.

Nutrition information: Each serving contains approximately 273 calories, 16 g protein, 9 g fat, 31 g carbohydrate, 21 mg cholesterol, 735 mg sodium and 2 g fiber.

Carbohydrate choices: 2.

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

susan@7daymenu.com

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