Menu planner: Grilled chicken and vegetables are always welcome

Thinking ahead to your next few meals? Here are some main dishes and sides to try.

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Grilled chicken and vegetables.

Grilled chicken and vegetables.

Perdue

Grilled chicken and vegetables

In a large measuring cup, whisk together 1/3 cup red wine vinegar, 2 teaspoons dried oregano, 1 teaspoon Dijon mustard, 1 teaspoon sugar, 1/2 teaspoon coarse salt and 1/4 teaspoon black pepper.

Continue whisking and slowly drizzle in 2/3 cup olive oil until well combined.

Heat grill with a grill basket to medium-high.

Spoon 4 tablespoons of vinaigrette over 1 1/4 pounds chicken breast strips and marinate while grilling vegetables: 8 asparagus spears cut into 2-inch pieces, 1 pint cherry tomatoes, 2 medium zucchini (halved lengthwise and sliced into 1/2-inch-thick rounds), 1 medium Vidalia onion sliced into rings and 1 red bell pepper sliced into thick strips.

Toss vegetables with 1/4 cup of vinaigrette and place in grill basket. Grill vegetables 6 to 8 minutes. Transfer to platter; keep warm.

Place chicken into basket; grill 5 to 7 minutes or until 170 degrees. Transfer to vegetable platter. Drizzle remaining vinaigrette over chicken and vegetables. Sprinkle with 1/2 cup crumbled Greek feta cheese and 2 tablespoons fresh basil.

Cinnamon broiled chicken with raita

Makes 4 servings

Preparation time: 10 minutes

Cooking time: less than 10 minutes

INGREDIENTS

For Chicken:

3/4 teaspoon coarse salt

1/4 teaspoon pepper

1/4 teaspoon cinnamon

4 (4-ounce) boneless skinless chicken cutlets (about 1/2 inch thick)

For Raita:

1 medium cucumber (peeled, seeded and chopped)

1/4 cup plain yogurt

1/4 cup reduced-fat sour cream

2 tablespoons chopped cilantro (or flatleaf parsley)

1/4 teaspoon coarse salt

1/4 teaspoon pepper

1/4 teaspoon cumin

Heat broiler. In a small bowl, mix salt, pepper and cinnamon. Sprinkle on both sides of chicken. Coat rack of broiler pan with cooking spray; broil cutlets 6 inches from heat for 3 minutes. Turn and broil 2 to 3 more minutes or until internal temperature reaches 165 degrees.

In a small bowl, stir together cucumber, yogurt, sour cream, cilantro (or parsley), coarse salt, pepper and cumin. Serve chicken with raita on the side.

Per serving: 170 calories, 26 grams protein, 5 grams fat (27% calories from fat), 1.9 grams saturated fat, 4 grams carbohydrate, 81 milligrams cholesterol, 635 milligrams sodium, 1 gram fiber.

Carb choices: 0.

Beefy peanutty wraps

Makes 4 wraps

Preparation time: 15 minutes

Cooking time: less than 15 minutes

INGREDIENTS

1 pound lean ground beef

1/2 cup chopped red bell pepper

1/2 teaspoon black pepper, plus more to taste

1/2 cup sliced green onions

2 1/2 tablespoons chunky or smooth peanut butter

1 tablespoon grape jelly

2 tablespoons lower-sodium soy sauce

4 (8- to 10-inch) flour tortillas, warmed

Reduced-fat sour cream for garnish

In a large nonstick skillet on medium heat, cook beef 5 minutes; drain. Add bell pepper; cook 3 to 5 minutes or until beef is no longer pink; drain again. Season with 1/2 teaspoon black pepper. Stir in onions, peanut butter, jelly and soy sauce; cook and stir 2 to 3 minutes or until peanut butter and jelly are melted. Spoon beef onto tortillas; roll. Add additional pepper and sour cream if desired.

Per wrap: 357 calories, 32 grams protein, 11 grams fat (28 percent calories from fat), 3.3 grams saturated fat, 33 grams carbohydrate, 62 milligrams cholesterol, 673 milligrams sodium, 4 grams fiber.

Carb choices: 2.

Turkey picadillo

Servings: makes 4 servings

Preparation time: 10 minutes

Cooking time: less than 15 minutes

INGREDIENTS

1 pound ground turkey breast or lean ground beef (or mixture of both)

1/4 cup golden raisins

1/4 teaspoon dried oregano

1/8 teaspoon cumin

1/2 cup water

1 tablespoon cider vinegar

1 teaspoon capers, drained

1 teaspoon olive oil

3/4 cup sofrito (see NOTE)

1 tablespoon chopped fresh flatleaf parsley

In a large nonstick skillet, cook turkey or beef on medium-high for 5 minutes or until no longer pink. Stir in raisins, oregano and cumin; cook 3 minutes, stirring frequently. Stir in water, vinegar, capers, olive oil and sofrito; cook 5 minutes or until slightly thick. Remove from heat. Stir in parsley and serve.

NOTE: Sofrito is a sauce made from a variety of cooked ingredients, such as oil, chopped onions, tomatoes, green bell peppers, garlic and various herbs. It is used as flavoring.

Per serving: 163 calories, 28 grams protein, 3 grams fat (12% calories from fat), 0.2 gram saturated fat, 17 grams carbohydrate, 45 milligrams cholesterol, 492 milligrams sodium, 1 gram fiber.

Carb choices: 1.

Chicken and rice soup

Chop the leftover chicken; add it and the leftover rice to regular chicken broth. If you have any leftover broccoli, chop that and add along with frozen peas and carrots. Heat; add coarse salt and pepper to taste.

Sweet-sour-cabbage and apples

Melt 2 tablespoons butter in a large nonstick skillet on medium-high. Add 2 medium Granny Smith apples (cored, unpeeled and cut into 1/2-inch slices). Cook 1 minute, stirring occasionally. Add 3 tablespoons packed brown sugar and 1/2 teaspoon cinnamon; cook 2 more minutes. Add 1 (16-ounce) jar drained sweet-and-sour cabbage. Cook 2 minutes or until hot.

Add rye bread on the side. Spicy mustard is a must.

Grilled vegetable sandwiches

In a large bowl, mix together 1/4 cup light soy sauce, 1/4 cup fresh lemon juice, 1 tablespoon honey and 1/2 teaspoon cayenne pepper. Add 2 medium zucchini (cut into 1/2-inch-thick, diagonal pieces), 1 medium red onion (cut into 1/4-inch slices) and 2 red bell peppers (cut into 1-inch-wide strips); toss to coat. Let stand at room temperature 15 minutes to 1 hour. Coat grill rack with cooking spray; place rack on medium grill. Grill vegetables, uncovered, 6 to 8 minutes on each side. Meanwhile, toast 8 slices focaccia on grill; coat slices with goat cheese. Cover bottom halves with vegetables; top with other halves of focaccia. Cut sandwiches in half and serve immediately.

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