Menu planner: Cajun sausage and rice is filling and delicious

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

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Cajun sausage and rice.

Cajun sausage and rice.

Shadow Mountain/Christy Denney

Cajun sausage and rice

Makes 4 servings

Preparation time: 15 minutes

Cooking time: about 20 to 25 minutes

INGREDIENTS

1 tablespoon olive oil

14 ounces andouille sausage, cut into 1/4-inch slices

1 green bell pepper, sliced

1/2 cup chopped onion

4 cloves garlic, minced

2 1/2 cups unsalted chicken broth

5 tablespoons tomato paste

1 cup long-grain white rice

1 teaspoon paprika

1/2 teaspoon dried oregano

1/2 teaspoon coarse salt

Ground black pepper to taste

Chopped fresh parsley for garnish

In a large, nonstick skillet, heat oil over medium-high. Add sausage and cook until browned on both sides. Add bell pepper and onion. Cook 2 to 4 minutes or until vegetables are softened. Add garlic and cook another minute. Stir in broth, paste, rice, paprika, oregano, salt and pepper. Cover; bring to a boil. Reduced heat to medium-low; simmer 15 to 20 minutes, stirring occasionally, until rice is tender and liquid has been absorbed. Garnish with parsley and serve.

Per serving: 523 calories, 17 grams protein, 30 grams fat (52% calories from fat), 9.4 grams saturated fat, 46 grams carbohydrate, 62 milligrams cholesterol, 1,254 milligrams sodium, 3 grams fiber.

Carb count: 3.

Chicken potatoes with pearl onions and carrots

Makes 8 servings

Preparation time: 10 minutes

Cooking time: 6 to 7 hours

INGREDIENTS

6 bone-in skinless chicken breasts

1 tablespoon herbes de Provence

1/2 teaspoon garlic powder

Freshly ground pepper to taste

2 pounds small red potatoes

3/4 cup frozen pearl onions, thawed

2 cups baby carrots

8 ounces cremini mushrooms

1 cup reduced-sodium chicken broth

Place chicken in a 4-quart or larger slow cooker. Sprinkle with herbs de Provence, garlic powder and pepper. Add potatoes, onions, carrots and mushrooms. Pour broth over all. Cover and cook on low 6 to 7 hours or until chicken is cooked through and vegetables are tender. Remove bones and serve.

Per serving: 220 calories, 24 grams protein, 3 grams fat (12% calories from fat), 0.6 gram saturated fat, 24 gram carbohydrate, 65 milligrams cholesterol, 185 milligrams sodium, 3 grams fiber.

Carb count: 1.5.

Pork roast with apples and sage

Makes 10 servings

Preparation time: 10 minutes

Cooking time: 5 to 7 hours

INGREDIENTS

4 teaspoons chopped fresh sage

1 tablespoon minced garlic

1 teaspoon coarse salt

1/2 teaspoon freshly ground pepper

1 (2 3/4- to 3-pound) boneless pork loin roast, well-trimmed

1 (12-ounce) jar pork gravy or au jus

4 medium gala apples, divided

Mix sage, garlic, salt and pepper in a small bowl. Spread over top of pork. Place gravy in a 4-quart or larger slow cooker. Core 2 apples and coarsely chop; add to gravy. Place pork on top. Cover and cook on low 5 to 7 hours. Core and cut remaining apples into 8 wedges each; add to cooker the last hour of cooking. Remove pork and apple wedges to a tray; tent with foil. Let stand. Remove chopped apples with slotted spoon to food processor; puree. Add 1 cup cooking liquid to apple puree; heat. Slice pork; serve with apple wedges and apple gravy.

Per serving: 247 calories, 28 grams protein, 9 grams fat (35% calories from fat), 3.8 grams saturated fat, 12 grams carbohydrate, 74 milligrams cholesterol, 464 milligrams sodium, 2 grams fiber.

Carb count: 1.

Chili dogs

Spoon some chili over the kids’ favorite hot dogs (lowest-sodium lowest-fat dogs) on a whole-grain bun. Crunch on celery sticks alongside.

S’mores puffs

Heat oven to 350 degrees. Place 12 round buttery crackers on a baking sheet. Top each with 1 milk chocolate kiss (of 12 total) and half of 1 large marshmallow (6 marshmallows total). Bake 8 minutes or until marshmallows just begin to melt. Let cool on a wire rack 5 minutes before eating.

Tuna salad sandwiches

Buy some deli tuna salad. Before you spread it on whole-grain bread, stir in some halved grapes. Add a lettuce leaf to the sandwich, too. Serve with bean soup. Add plums for dessert.

Mediterranean bulgur with chickpeas

In a large serving bowl, combine 1 cup bulgur (cracked wheat), 2 diced plum tomatoes, 1 small diced zucchini and 3 tablespoons chopped fresh parsley. Pour 1 1/2 cups boiling water over all; cover with foil. Let stand 12 to 15 minutes or until liquid is absorbed and bulgur is tender. Stir in 1 (15.5-ounce) can rinsed chickpeas, 2 cups cooked broccoli florets, 3/4 cup reduced-fat crumbled feta cheese, 1 teaspoon grated lemon zest, 2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice and 2 tablespoons olive oil; mix well and serve.

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