Menu planner: Try sausage and apples for a cold winter’s delight

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

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Sausage and apples.

Gibbs Smith/Helene Dujardin

Sausage and apples

Fry 1 pound sausage links in a large skillet until cooked through, with no pink remaining. Meanwhile, core and slice 2 gala apples or other cooking apples into 1/2-inch wedges. Add to skillet and cook until apples are brown, soft and caramelized, but not mushy. Drain apples on a plate lined with paper towels, if necessary. Serve sausage and apples while hot.

NOTE: Prick skins before adding sausages to a cold pan, turn up heat and cook until deep brown; turn and repeat until brown all over. If more than 1/2 inch in diameter, add a bit of water to pan after initial browning to keep links from burning before sausage is cooked through. Cover if necessary to ensure sausages are thoroughly cooked.

Pot roast soup

Servings: 6

Preparation time: 15 minutes

Cooking time: 5 1/2 to 6 1/2 hours on high; 8 1/2 to 9 1/2 hours on low; standing time: 5 minutes

INGREDIENTS

1 (2- to 2 1/2-pound) boneless beef shoulder roast

2 cups onions, chopped

1 (14 1/2-ounce) can diced tomatoes with green peppers and onions, with liquid

1 cup frozen hash-browned potatoes

1 cup lower-sodium beef broth

1 tablespoon minced garlic

1 teaspoon dried thyme

1/4 teaspoon coarse salt

1/4 teaspoon black pepper

2 cups broccoli slaw

1/2 cup frozen peas

Cut beef roast into 12 equal pieces. Place in 4 1/2- to 5 1/2-quart slow cooker. Add onions, tomatoes, potatoes, broth, garlic, thyme, salt and black pepper. Cover and cook on high 5 to 6 hours, or on low 8 to 9 hours, until beef is fork-tender. Stir in broccoli slaw; continue cooking, covered, 30 minutes or until broccoli slaw is crisp-tender. Turn off slow cooker. Stir in peas; let stand, covered, 5 minutes before serving.

Per serving: 277 calories, 36 grams protein, 6 grams fat, (20 percent calories from fat), 2.5 grams saturated fat, 20 grams carbohydrate, 98 milligrams cholesterol, 512 milligrams sodium, 4 grams fiber. Carb count: 1.5.

Spicy baked potatoes

Servings: 4

Preparation time: 15 minutes

Cooking time: about 10 minutes, plus potatoes; standing time for potatoes: 5 minutes

INGREDIENTS

4 (8-ounce) baking potatoes

1 teaspoon canola oil

1 medium onion, coarsely chopped

1 large green or red bell pepper, coarsely chopped

1 teaspoon minced garlic

1 (15- to 16-ounce) can chili beans in spicy sauce, with liquid

1 tablespoon Worcestershire sauce

1/2 teaspoon minced pickled jalapeno pepper, if desired

1 cup shredded Monterey Jack cheese

Reduced-fat sour cream for garnish

Scrub potatoes and pierce with a fork. Place on triple-folded white paper towels and microwave on high for 6 minutes per pound. Wrap in fresh paper towels, then a terry towel and let stand 5 minutes. Meanwhile, heat oil on medium in a large nonstick skillet. Add onion, bell pepper and garlic; cook 5 minutes or until softened. Stir occasionally. Add beans with liquid, Worcestershire sauce and jalapeno pepper (if desired). Reduce heat to low. Cover and simmer 5 minutes or until heated through. Split potatoes and top with bean mixture. Sprinkle with cheese and garnish with sour cream.

NOTE: Use paper towels to absorb moisture; wrap the potatoes in paper towels after baking for the same reason. The terry towel holds in the heat.

Per serving: 412 calories, 16 grams protein, 10 grams fat, (22 percent calories from fat), 5.6 grams saturated fat, 64 grams carbohydrate, 25 milligrams cholesterol, 647 milligrams sodium, 9 grams fiber. Carb count: 4.

Tilapia fillets with capers and almonds

Servings: 4

Preparation time: 10 minutes

Cooking time: less than 10 minutes

INGREDIENTS

3/4 cup flour

Coarse salt to taste

Freshly ground pepper to taste

1 1/2 pounds tilapia (or flounder) fillets

2 tablespoons butter, divided

2 teaspoons olive oil, divided

1/4 cup slivered almonds

1/4 cup capers, drained

1 lemon, sliced paper-thin

Put the flour, salt and pepper in a pie plate; mix well. Coat fish in flour mixture, shaking off the excess; transfer to a plate. In a large nonstick skillet, melt 1 1/2 teaspoons butter in 1 teaspoon of the oil. Add half the fillets and cook over medium heat 3 to 4 minutes or until golden and crisp; turn once. Transfer to a plate and cover with foil to keep warm. Repeat with another 1 1/2 teaspoons butter, remaining oil and remaining fish. Add remaining 1 tablespoon butter and the almonds to skillet. Cook 2 minutes or until golden. Add capers and lemon and cook 1 minute or until heated through. Pour sauce over fish and serve immediately.

Per serving: 334 calories, 38 grams protein, 15 grams fat, (39 percent calories from fat), 5.3 grams saturated fat, 15 grams carbohydrate, 100 milligrams cholesterol, 395 milligrams sodium, 2 grams fiber. Carb count: 1.

Pear-almond couscous

In a medium saucepan, combine 1 (14-ounce) can unsalted chicken broth, 1/4 cup golden raisins, 1/4 teaspoon coarse salt, 1/4 teaspoon cumin and 1/4 teaspoon pepper. Bring to a boil. Remove from heat and stir in 1 (16-ounce) can drained pear halves (chopped), 1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice, 1 cup couscous, 1/3 cup sliced almonds, 2 tablespoons chopped fresh cilantro and 1 teaspoon butter. Cover; let stand 10 minutes before serving.

Toasty tomatoes and turkey

Heat oven to 375 degrees. In a large bowl, combine 1 cup shredded cooked turkey, 2 (14 1/2-ounce) cans diced undrained tomatoes with chilis, 1 small chopped onion, 2 1/2 cups fresh bread cubes and 1/2 teaspoon coarse salt. Spoon mixture into a 7-by-11-inch baking dish coated with cooking spray. Dot with 1 tablespoon butter. Bake 20 minutes. Sprinkle with 1/2 cup freshly grated parmesan cheese and bake 10 more minutes or until cheese begins to brown.

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