Menu planner: Lemon chicken and orzo a tasty treat that doesn’t take much time

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

SHARE Menu planner: Lemon chicken and orzo a tasty treat that doesn’t take much time
Try this lemon chicken and orzo for your next meal.

Try this lemon chicken and orzo for your next meal.

Courtesy of Perdue

Lemon chicken and orzo

Makes 6 servings

Preparation time: 15 minutes

Cooking time: about 25 to 35 minutes


2 tablespoons olive oil

2 1/2 pounds boneless skinless chicken thighs, trimmed

1 3/4 cups unsalted chicken broth

2 cups carrots or zucchini, sliced 1/4 inch thick

2/3 cup orzo pasta

1/2 cup pitted Kalamata olives, drained

1 lemon, cut into wedges

1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice

2 teaspoons dried oregano

1/4 teaspoon pepper

Heat oven to 400 degrees. In ovenproof skillet, heat oil on medium-high. Cook chicken 6 to 8 minutes or until browned on both sides. Add broth, carrots or zucchini, orzo, olives, lemon wedges, lemon juice, oregano and pepper. Bring to a boil, then reduce heat to simmer. Cover with a lid; bake 20 to 25 minutes or until the orzo is done and internal temperature of chicken is 165 degrees. Remove pan from oven. Fluff the orzo and vegetables. Serve right from the skillet.

Per serving: 400 calories, 35 grams protein, 19 grams fat (44% calories from fat), 4 grams saturated fat, 20 grams carbohydrate, 176 milligrams cholesterol, 371 milligrams sodium, 2 grams fiber.

Carb choices: 1.5.

Southwestern pie

Makes 4 servings

Preparation time: less than 15 minutes

Cooking time: 35 to 40 minutes; cooling time: 5 minutes


1 1/2 cups frozen corn, thawed

8 green onions, sliced

1 (15-ounce) can reduced-sodium pinto beans, rinsed

1/3 cup shredded 50% light cheddar cheese

1/2 cup reduced-fat baking mix (such as Bisquick Heart Smart)

1/2 cup whole milk

1/2 cup chunky salsa, plus more for garnish

2 eggs

Heat oven to 400 degrees. Coat a 9-inch pie plate with cooking spray. Layer corn, onions and beans in pie plate. Sprinkle with cheese. In a small bowl, stir together baking mix, milk, 1/2 cup salsa and the eggs until blended. Pour into pie plate. Bake 35 to 40 minutes or until knife inserted in center comes out clean. Cool 5 minutes. Slice into wedges and garnish with extra salsa.

Per serving: 278 calories, 15 grams protein, 6 grams fat (20% calories from fat), 2.7 grams saturated fat, 44 grams carbohydrate, 102 milligrams cholesterol, 593 milligrams sodium, 9 grams fiber.

Carb choices: 3.

Garden lasagna

Makes 8 servings

Preparation time: 20 minutes

Cooking time: 45 minutes; standing time: 15 minutes


1 (15-ounce) can-rinsed reduced-sodium black beans

1 (24- to 26-ounce) jar reduced-sodium or regular red pasta sauce

2 medium carrots, grated

1 medium zucchini, grated

1 cup water

1 egg, lightly beaten

16 ounces fat-free or reduced-fat ricotta cheese

1/4 cup freshly grated parmesan cheese

8 lasagna noodles, uncooked

3/4 cup shredded part-skim mozzarella cheese

Heat oven to 350 degrees. Coat a 9-by-13-inch baking dish with cooking spray. In a large bowl, mix together beans, pasta sauce, carrots, zucchini and water. Set aside. In another bowl, combine the egg, ricotta and parmesan. Cover bottom of baking dish with 1 cup pasta sauce mix; top with 4 noodles. Spread the ricotta mixture over all; top with 1 cup sauce and remaining noodles. Pour remaining sauce over all; sprinkle with mozzarella. Cover tightly with foil and bake 45 minutes. Uncover and let stand 15 minutes before serving.

Per serving: 275 calories, 19 grams protein, 4 grams fat (14% calories from fat), 1.8 grams saturated fat, 40 grams carbohydrate, 37 milligrams cholesterol, 362 milligrams sodium, 5 grams fiber.

Carb choices: 2.5.

Double berry crisp

Heat oven to 350 degrees. Stir 1 (2-layer size) package yellow cake mix and 1/2 cup melted butter in a large bowl until crumbly; set aside. Spoon 1 (21-ounce) can cherry pie filling (light or regular) and 1 (21-ounce) can blueberry pie filling (light or regular) randomly into a 9-by-13-inch baking dish coated with cooking spray. (Do not mix the two flavors.) Sprinkle 1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice over fillings; then spread cake mix evenly over pie fillings. Bake 35 to 45 minutes or until golden-brown.

TIP: If you have only one oven, bake the dessert before the entree or the day before.

Chili-bean burritos

For each burrito, spoon canned chili beans with sauce down center of flour tortilla; sprinkle with shredded 50% light cheddar cheese; roll. Place seam-side down in baking dish. Spoon additional chili beans with sauce over tortillas; sprinkle with more cheese. Cover and microwave on high (100% power) 3 minutes (for 4 burritos) or until cheese is melted and burritos are hot. Serve with mild salsa and reduced-fat sour cream.

Fruit smoothie

In a blender, combine 2 cups frozen raspberries or strawberries, 1 ripe banana (cut in chunks) and 1 cup vanilla yogurt. Blend until smooth.

Spaghetti and meatballs

Stir together 1 (26-ounce) jar tomato-basil pasta sauce, 1 teaspoon dried basil and 24 frozen cooked meatballs (thawed); simmer 10 minutes or until hot. Serve over cooked spaghetti and sprinkle with freshly grated parmesan cheese.

Banana cream pie in a bowl

Prepare 1 (3.4-ounce) package instant banana pudding mix according to directions, using 1% milk. Layer 1/2 cup (of 1 cup total) vanilla wafer cookie crumbs, half of the pudding and 1 1/2 (of 3 total) sliced ripe medium bananas in a 2-quart serving bowl. Repeat layers. Cover and refrigerate 30 minutes to 4 hours. Top with light whipped cream.

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