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Menu planner: Crunchy butterscotch haystacks are guaranteed to delight

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

Crunchy butterscotch haystacks.
Crunchy butterscotch haystacks.
America’s Test Kitchen

Crunchy butterscotch haystacks

Makes about 20 haystacks

Preparation time: 25 minutes

Cooking time: 2 to 4 minutes; chilling time: 15 minutes

INGREDIENTS

1 cup (6 ounces) butterscotch chips, see NOTE

2 teaspoons vegetable oil

3 ounces (1 1/2 cups) chow mein noodles

1/2 cup dry-roasted salted peanuts

Line baking sheet with parchment paper. Microwave butterscotch chips in bowl at 50% power, stirring occasionally, 2 to 4 minutes or until melted and smooth. Stir in oil until combined. Using rubber spatula, gently fold in noodles and peanuts until evenly coated (avoid breaking noodles). Drop heaping 1-tablespoon portions of mixture onto prepared baking sheet in high mounds. Refrigerate until set, about 15 minutes; serve.

NOTE: Substitute chocolate or white chocolate chips, if desired.

One (1) haystack: 94 calories, 2 grams protein, 6 grams fat (53% calories from fat), 2.7 grams saturated fat, 9 grams carbohydrate, no cholesterol, 57 milligrams sodium, 1 gram fiber.

Carb count: 0.5.

Oven-fried chile chicken

Makes 4 servings

Preparation time: 10 minutes

Cooking time: 50 to 55 minutes

INGREDIENTS

3/4 cup bran flake crumbs

1 to 2 teaspoons chipotle chile powder

1/2 teaspoon cumin

1/4 teaspoon garlic powder

1/2 cup 1% milk

4 boneless skinless chicken breasts (about 6 ounces each)

Heat oven to 375 degrees. Line a rimmed baking sheet with nonstick foil. In a pie plate, mix together the cereal crumbs, chile powder, cumin and garlic powder. Pour milk into a second pie plate. Dip chicken into milk; shake off excess. Completely coat in crumb mixture; shake off excess. Place on baking sheet. Bake 50 to 55 minutes or until golden and crispy and internal temperature is 165 degrees. Serve warm or at room temperature.

Per serving: 246 calories, 40 grams protein, 5 grams fat (18% calories from fat), 1.1 grams saturated fat, 14 grams carbohydrate, 125 milligrams cholesterol, 158 milligrams sodium, 7 grams fiber.

Carb count: 1.

Moroccan-flavored cod

Makes 4 servings

Preparation time: 10 minutes

Cooking time: about 25 minutes

INGREDIENTS

4 (4- to 5-ounce) cod or halibut fillets, thawed if frozen, see NOTE

4 teaspoons olive oil, divided

1/4 teaspoon pepper

1 medium onion, chopped

2 teaspoons minced garlic

1/2 teaspoon cumin

1/4 teaspoon cinnamon

1 (14.5-ounce) can diced tomatoes, with liquid

1/4 cup pitted Kalamata olives

Heat oven to 425 degrees. Line a rimmed baking sheet with nonstick foil. Place fish on sheet; drizzle with half the oil and sprinkle with pepper. Bake 5 to 8 minutes or until fish is opaque throughout. Meanwhile, in a medium saucepan, heat remaining oil on medium. Add onion; cover and cook 8 minutes, stirring occasionally. Add garlic, cumin and cinnamon; cook 1 minute. Stir in tomatoes and olives; bring to a simmer. Simmer 10 minutes to reduce slightly. Serve sauce with fish.

NOTE: For testing purposes, I used frozen cod.

Per serving: 196 calories, 21 grams protein, 8 grams fat (36% calories from fat), 0.8 gram saturated fat, 9 grams carbohydrate, 49 milligrams cholesterol, 440 milligrams sodium, 2 grams fiber.

Carb count: 0.5.

Ancho roast pork tenderloin

Heat oven to 425 degrees. In a small bowl, mix together 3/4 teaspoon ancho chile powder, 1/4 teaspoon coarse salt, 1/4 teaspoon sugar, 1/4 teaspoon cumin and 1/8 teaspoon ground allspice. Rub all over 1 (1- to 1 1/4-pound) pork tenderloin and place in pan. Combine 2 tablespoons jalapeno pepper jelly and 1 teaspoon lime juice; set aside. Roast pork 20 minutes or until internal temperature reaches 145 degrees. Spread jelly mixture on pork the last 10 minutes of roasting. Remove from oven; tent with foil and let stand 5 minutes before slicing.

Orzo pilaf with feta

In a Dutch oven, heat 2 tablespoons olive oil on medium. Add 1 large chopped onion. Cook 8 minutes or until softened. Stir in 2 (15-ounce) cans rinsed small white beans, 1 1/2 cups orzo pasta and 3 cups water. Season with coarse salt and pepper to taste. Cover, cook 10 to 12 minutes or until orzo is tender and all water is absorbed. Garnish each serving with crumbled Greek feta cheese.