Saturday’s Beef Sirloin Kebabs is served with Roasted Red Pepper Dipping Sauce. Contributed by Cattlemen’s Beef Board

Seven-Day Menu Planner

12/2

Family Sunday

Chicken, Bell Peppers and Polenta (see recipe) is a great meal for family time. Add spinach salad and flatbread to round out the meal. For dessert, buy a carrot cake.

Plan ahead: Save enough chicken and vegetables for Monday and enough cake for Tuesday.

12/3

Heat-and-Eat Monday

For a quick meal, heat and chop the leftover chicken and vegetables, add a little plain yogurt and chopped cucumber, and stuff into whole-wheat pitas for Chicken-Stuffed Pitas. Serve with corn-on-the-cob and deli carrot salad. Try plums for dessert.

12/4

Meatless Tuesday

It’s full of flavor and an easy no-meat dinner, which makes Ravioli Florentine a great meal. Cook 1 (20- to 24-ounce) package frozen cheese or mushroom ravioli according to directions. Meanwhile, heat 2 teaspoons olive oil in a large nonstick skillet on medium. Add 4 cloves minced garlic and cook 30 seconds or until fragrant. Add 1/4 teaspoon coarse salt, 1/4 teaspoon crushed red pepper, 1 (16-ounce) bag frozen chopped spinach and 1/2 cup water. Cook 5 to 7 minutes or until the spinach is thawed, most moisture is evaporated and mixture is heated through. Divide among 4 bowls; top with ravioli and drizzle 1 teaspoon oil over each portion. Serve immediately with a sprinkle of freshly grated Parmesan cheese. Add a lettuce wedge and garlic bread. Slice the leftover cake for dessert.

12/5

Wild Card Wednesday

For a treat and plenty of leftovers, use your microwave to make Pulled Pork (see recipe) for dinner. Spoon it onto whole-grain buns and serve with baked beans and coleslaw. Pears are just the right dessert.

Plan ahead: Save enough pork and beans for Thursday.

12/6

Kids Thursday

The leftover barbecue will be even better the day after, so heat some of it and make Barbecue Wraps using warm corn tortillas and the leftover beans. On the side, add celery sticks with dip, a favorite for the kids. For dessert, make instant banana pudding with 1 percent milk and stir in sliced bananas for extra flavor.

12/7

Express Friday

Healthy Choice figured out a long time ago what a microwave does best: steam! Tonight, try the Cafe Steamers or another brand of frozen steam-cooked dinners. Stir in your own steamed sliced zucchini or steamed broccoli florets after cooking the bowls. Add a packaged green salad and whole-grain rolls. For dessert, top strawberry ice cream with fresh strawberries.

12/8

Easy Entertaining Saturday

Serve guests Beef Sirloin Kebabs With Roasted Red Pepper Dipping Sauce (see recipe).

Add roasted cauliflower: Heat oven to 450 degrees. Place 8 cups (about 1 head or 2 pounds) bite-size sliced cauliflower florets in a large bowl with 2 tablespoons olive oil and salt and pepper to taste. Toss to coat. Spread on a nonstick foil-lined baking sheet. Roast 25 to 30 minutes, stirring once, until browned in spots.

Round out the meal with a romaine salad and a baguette.

Make peach shortcakes for dessert: Halve and toast 2 biscuits. Place biscuit half, cut side up, on each of 4 plates. In a bowl, toss 1 cup sliced peaches with 1/2 cup all-fruit peach preserves. Top each biscuit half with 1/4 cup peach mixture. Top with vanilla ice cream and light whipped cream.

** ** **

THE RECIPES

Chicken, Bell Peppers and Polenta (Sunday)

1 tablespoon olive oil

10 boneless skinless chicken thighs

2 1/4 cups no-salt-added tomato sauce

1 (16-ounce) package frozen sliced bell peppers and onions

1/2 cup chopped black olives

1/2 cup water

1 (14- to 17-ounce) tube refrigerated polenta (see Note)

Heat oil in a large deep skillet on medium-high. Add chicken and cook 5 minutes and turn; cook 5 more minutes or until brown. Add tomato sauce, peppers and onions, olives and water. Bring to a simmer; reduce heat to low. Cover and cook 15 to 18 minutes or until internal temperature of chicken reaches 165 degrees. Meanwhile, slice the polenta into 1/2-inch-thick rounds. Heat a large nonstick skillet or griddle to medium. Place polenta slices on it; cook 7 minutes on each side or until browned. To serve, place polenta slices on serving dish. Top with chicken; spoon sauce on top. Makes 5 servings.

Note: Look for polenta in the produce aisle or near the refrigerated pasta.

Per serving: 315 calories (percent calories from fat, 29), 30 grams protein, 25 grams carbohydrate, 4 grams fiber, 10 grams fat (2 grams saturated fat), 131 milligrams cholesterol, 445 milligrams sodium.

** ** **

Pulled Pork (Wednesday)

2 to 2 1/2 pounds boneless pork loin

1/2 medium sliced onion

1 tablespoons paprika

1 teaspoon pepper

2 teaspoons coarse salt

1 cup barbecue sauce

2 cloves garlic, minced

1/2 cup water

Trim excess fat from pork. Add all ingredients to a 4-quart or larger slow cooker. Cook on low 7 to 8 hours. Shred pork before serving with additional sauce. Makes 18 servings.

Per serving: 208 calories (percent calories from fat, 38), 25 grams protein, 5 grams carbohydrate, no fiber, 9 grams fat (3.1 grams saturated fat), 71 milligrams cholesterol, 339 milligrams sodium.

** ** **

Beef Sirloin Kebabs With Roasted Red Pepper Dipping Sauce (Saturday)

Dipping sauce:

1 tablespoon olive oil

1 medium onion, finely chopped

1 tablespoon minced garlic

2 (7-ounce) jars roasted red peppers, rinsed, drained and finely chopped

1/2 cup dry white wine

2 tablespoons tomato paste

3/4 teaspoon dried thyme leaves, crushed, or 2 teaspoons fresh, minced

1 cup unsalted beef broth

2 teaspoons cornstarch

Kebabs:

1 boneless beef top sirloin steak, about 1 1/2 pounds, cut 1 inch thick

2 teaspoons coarsely ground black pepper

3/4 teaspoon coarse salt

3/4 teaspoon ground sweet paprika

2 teaspoons minced garlic

Heat oil in large skillet on medium. Add onion and 1 tablespoon garlic; cook and stir 2 to 3 minutes or until onion is tender. Add red peppers, wine, tomato paste and thyme, stirring until tomato paste is blended. Combine broth and cornstarch in small bowl, mixing until smooth. Stir into pepper mixture; bring to a boil. Reduce heat to medium-low; simmer 10 to 12 minutes or until slightly thickened, stirring occasionally. Keep warm.

Meanwhile, cut beef into 1 1/4- by 1 1/4- by 1-inch pieces. Combine black pepper, salt, paprika and 2 teaspoons garlic in large bowl. Add beef; toss to coat. Thread beef pieces evenly onto 6 (12-inch) metal skewers, leaving small space between pieces. Place kebabs on grid over medium, ash-covered coals. Grill, covered, 5 to 7 minutes for medium-rare to medium doneness, turning occasionally (7 to 9 minutes over medium heat on preheated gas grill). Serve with dipping sauce. Maks 6 servings.

Per serving: 208 calories (percent calories from fat, 30), 23 grams protein, 10 grams carbohydrate, 1 gram fiber, 7 grams fat (2 grams saturated fat), 59 milligrams cholesterol, 433 milligrams sodium.

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