Menu planner: You can’t go wrong with creamy Parmesan shrimp

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

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Entertain your friends with creamy Parmesan shrimp.

Treat your friends and family to some creamy Parmesan shrimp.

Shadow Mountain

Here’s a shrimp dish that’s easy to make for lunch or dinner:

Creamy Parmesan shrimp

Makes 4 servings

Preparation time: 15 minutes

Cooking time: about 5 minutes

INGREDIENTS:

  • 2 tablespoons unsalted butter
  • 1 1/2 pounds shrimp, peeled and deveined
  • 1/2 teaspoon coarse salt, plus more to taste
  • 1 tablespoon minced garlic
  • 1/2 cup heavy cream
  • 1/2 cup grated Parmesan cheese
  • Pepper to taste
  • Chopped parsley for garnish

DIRECTIONS:

In a large skillet, melt butter on medium-high. Season shrimp with salt; add to skillet. Cook for 3 or 4 minutes or until shrimp are opaque. Transfer shrimp to a plate and cover. Add garlic to skillet. Cook 30 seconds. Add cream. Bring to a simmer. Cook about 1 minute. Add shrimp back to skillet. Stir in Parmesan and add salt and pepper to taste. Sprinkle with parsley and serve immediately.

Per serving: 309 calories, 25 grams protein, 21 grams fat (62% calories from fat), 12.2 grams saturated fat, 4 grams carbohydrate, 254 milligrams cholesterol, 779 milligrams sodium, no fiber.

Braised steak with peppers and onions

Makes 6 servings

Preparation time: 15 minutes

Cooking time: 7 to 8 hours on low

INGREDIENTS

1 onion, cut into 10 wedges

1 red bell pepper, cut into 1/2-inch slices

2 (14-ounce) cans no-salt-added or regular fire-roasted diced tomatoes, drained

2 teaspoons chili powder

1/2 teaspoon cinnamon

1/2 teaspoon coarse salt

1/4 teaspoon black pepper

1 1/2 pounds top round or flank steak, cut into 6 pieces (see NOTE)

Chopped fresh cilantro for garnish

In a 5-quart or larger slow cooker, combine onion, bell pepper, tomatoes, chili powder, cinnamon, salt and black pepper; mix well. Nestle the beef among the vegetables and cover. Cook 7 to 8 hours on low. Remove beef and shred, if desired; return to slow cooker. Mix well. Sprinkle with cilantro as you serve.

NOTE: I used top round steak because it was less expensive.

Per serving: 184 calories, 27 grams protein, 3 grams fat (16% calories from fat), 1.2 grams saturated fat, 10 grams carbohydrate, 57 milligrams cholesterol, 268 milligrams sodium, 2 grams fiber.

Carb count: 0.5.

Chipotle chayote twice-baked potatoes

Makes 4 servings

Preparation time: 15 minutes

Cooking time: about 25 minutes, plus potatoes

INGREDIENTS

2 teaspoons light butter-flavored spread

1 cup chopped onion

1/4 cup canned reduced-sodium black beans, rinsed

1/4 cup frozen corn

1/4 cup chopped fresh chayote or zucchini

4 (5- to 6-ounce) baking potatoes

1/2 cup fat-free plain yogurt

1/2 teaspoon garlic powder

1/4 teaspoon coarse salt

Freshly ground pepper to taste

1/2 cup shredded reduced-fat Mexican-blend cheese

1/3 cup chipotle or other salsa

Sliced avocado for garnish

Heat oven to 425 degrees. Melt spread in a medium nonstick skillet. Add onion, beans, corn and chayote. Cook 10 minutes or until onion is softened. Meanwhile, pierce and microwave potatoes 6 minutes per pound on high (100% power). Remove from microwave, wrap in terry towel and let rest 3 minutes. Remove from towel; let cool slightly. Cut in half lengthwise; carefully scoop out potato pulp, leaving 1/4-inch shell. Mash potato pulp; stir in cooked vegetables, yogurt, garlic powder, salt, pepper, cheese and salsa. Place potato skins on rimmed baking sheet. Spoon potato mixture into shells. Bake 20 minutes or until lightly browned. Garnish with avocado and serve.

Per serving: 232 calories, 10 grams protein, 5 grams fat (18% calories from fat), 2.2 grams saturated fat, 39 grams carbohydrate, 9 milligrams cholesterol, 428 milligrams sodium, 4 grams fiber.

Carb count: 2.5.

Baked eggs with spinach

Heat oven to 350 degrees. Coat an 8-by-8-inch baking dish with cooking spray. In a medium bowl, combine 2 (10-ounce) packages frozen chopped spinach (squeezed dry) and 8 ounces less-fat cream cheese until thoroughly mixed. Spread evenly in dish. Using a serving spoon, make 6 indentations in spinach mixture. Break one egg into each indentation. In a small bowl, combine 1/4 cup freshly grated Parmesan and 1/2 cup panko crumbs. Sprinkle all over top, making sure to cover the eggs. Bake 20 to 25 minutes or until eggs are desired doneness. Serve each egg with spinach mixture.

Crispy chicken bites

Heat oven to 425 degrees. In a medium bowl, combine 1/3 cup low-fat buttermilk or other milk, 1/4 teaspoon coarse salt and 1/4 teaspoon pepper. Place 1 1/2 cups crushed unsweetened whole-grain cereal flakes in a separate shallow container. Cut 1 pound boneless skinless chicken breast into bite-size pieces and dip into milk mixture (drain off excess), then into cereal. Place chicken on foil-lined rimmed baking pan. Bake 10 to 12 minutes or until golden.

Steak tacos

Shred beef and heat along with the peppers and sauce. Spoon into taco shells and top with shredded romaine, reduced-fat sour cream and chopped cilantro. Add reduced-sodium pinto beans on the side.

Pasta with pesto, tuna and roasted red peppers

Toss any drained, cooked pasta with some pesto, water-packed canned albacore tuna (drained and flaked) and some chopped roasted red peppers (from jar). Serve with freshly grated Parmesan, a mixed green salad and garlic bread.

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