Menu planner: Chicken Parmesan pasta bake adds flavor to your day

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

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Chicken Parmesan pasta bake.

Chicken Parmesan pasta bake.


Chicken Parmesan pasta bake

Makes 6 servings

Preparation time: 15 minutes

Cooking time: 40 minutes, plus pasta


12 ounces orecchiette pasta

2 tablespoons olive oil

1 pound ground chicken

1 chopped onion

4 cloves garlic, minced

1 tablespoon dried Italian seasoning

3/4 teaspoon coarse salt

1 (28-ounce) can diced tomatoes

1 bay leaf

1 cup shredded mozzarella cheese

1/4 cup shredded Parmesan cheese

1/4 cup finely chopped fresh parsley

Cook orecchiette according to package directions. Heat oil in a deep straight-sided skillet on medium. Crumble the chicken; cook 5 minutes or until no longer pink. Add onion, garlic, Italian seasoning and salt. Cook, stirring often, 5 minutes or until softened. Add tomatoes and bay leaf; bring to boil. Simmer, stirring occasionally, 30 minutes or until reduced. Toss the cooked pasta with the tomato mixture. Transfer to a 9-by-13-inch baking dish coated with cooking spray. Toss the mozzarella with the Parmesan and parsley, sprinkle over pasta. Broil 5 minutes or until cheese is melted and lightly browned.

Per serving: 386 calories, 26 grams protein, 8 grams fat (19% calories from fat), 1.7 grams saturated fat, 52 grams carbohydrate, 51 milligrams cholesterol, 574 milligrams sodium, 4 grams fiber.

Carb count: 3.5.

Black beans and rice

Makes 4 servings

Preparation time: 15 minutes

Cooking time: about 50 minutes


1 1/4 cups uncooked brown rice

1 medium onion, chopped

1 medium green bell pepper, chopped

2 medium carrots, chopped

1 cup orange juice

2 teaspoons paprika

1 teaspoon ground coriander

1/4 to 1/2 teaspoon crushed red pepper

2 cloves garlic, minced

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

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

Reduced-fat sour cream for garnish

Lime wedges for garnish

Cook rice according to directions without salt. Meanwhile, in a 2-quart sauce pan, heat onion, bell pepper, carrots, juice, paprika, coriander, crushed red pepper, garlic and tomatoes to a boil. Reduce heat, cover and simmer about 45 minutes or until thickened, stirring occasionally. Remove from heat. Stir in beans. In blender or food processor, blend 1 cup of mixture until smooth. Stir blended mixture into bean mixture in pan. Cook on medium 3 minutes or until hot. Serve over rice; garnish with sour cream. Sprinkle with additional paprika, if desired. Serve with lime wedges.

Note: If you have an immersion blender, use it instead of blender or food processor for easier cleanup.

Per serving: 411 calories, 14 grams protein, 2 grams fat (5% calories from fat), 0.4 gram saturated fat, 86 grams carbohydrate, no cholesterol, 287 milligrams sodium, 11 grams fiber.

Carb count: 5.5.

Fire-roasted tomato shrimp veracruz

Makes 4 servings

Preparation time: 10 minutes, plus cleaning shrimp

Cooking time: about 12 minutes


1 tablespoon olive oil

1 pound uncooked medium shrimp, deveined and tails removed

1/4 cup sliced green onions

1 fresh jalapeno pepper, seeded and finely chopped

1 teaspoon orange zest (orange part only)

1/2 teaspoon dried thyme

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

In a large nonstick skillet, heat oil. Add shrimp; cook 3 minutes or until opaque. Remove to a plate; keep warm. Add onions and jalapeno; cook 2 minutes. Add orange zest and thyme; cook 1 minute. Stir in tomatoes; heat to a boil. Reduce heat to low; simmer uncovered about 4 minutes, stirring occasionally. Add shrimp; cook 2 more minutes or until heated through.

Per serving: 146 calories, 17 grams protein, 5 grams fat (28% calories from fat), 0.6 gram saturated fat, 10 grams carbohydrate, 143 milligrams cholesterol, 510 milligrams sodium, 2 grams fiber.

Carb count: 0.5.

Italian roasted pork tenderloin

Heat oven to 375 degrees. In a small bowl, mash together (with the back of a spoon) 1 teaspoon olive oil, 1/2 teaspoon coarse salt, 1/2 teaspoon crushed fennel seeds, 1/4 teaspoon pepper and 1 clove minced garlic. Rub over 2 pork tenderloins (about 3/4 to 1 pound each). Bake on a rack, coated with cooking spray, placed in a shallow roasting pan. Bake 30 to 35 minutes or until the internal temperature reaches 150 degrees. Remove from oven, tent with foil and let stand 10 minutes. Slice pork and garnish each plate with orange slices if desired.

Pork panninis

Spread 1 tablespoon pesto on each of 8 slices Italian bread. Top 4 slices bread with sliced pork and sliced provolone cheese; top with remaining bread. Coat outer surfaces of bread with cooking spray. Grill on medium-high in nonstick skillet or panini pan until browned on each side.

Meatball sandwiches

Heat canned condensed tomato soup (thin with water, if desired) with 1/4 teaspoon each garlic powder, Italian seasoning and pepper; add a package of precooked meatballs (thaw first if frozen). Divide among hero rolls or other sandwich rolls and top with shredded part-skim mozzarella. Broil until the cheese is melted.

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