Menu planner: Bacon and beet hash is an excellent, low-cost dinner

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

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Bacon and beet hash.

Tina Rupp

Bacon and beet hash

Makes 6 servings

Preparation time: 20 minutes

Cooking time: about 35 minutes

4 fresh medium beets, cut into 1/2-inch cubes

1 red onion, cut into 1-inch pieces

1 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil

4 fresh rosemary sprigs, plus more for garnish

1 teaspoon cinnamon

Coarse salt to taste

Freshly ground pepper to taste

8 slices bacon, cut into 1-inch pieces

1 pound lean ground beef

1 cup shredded 50% light cheddar cheese

8 eggs

1/2 cup sliced green onions

Heat oven to 450 degrees. Toss beets and onions in a rimmed baking sheet with oil. Arrange in a single layer. Lay rosemary on top, then sprinkle with cinnamon, salt and pepper. Roast 15 to 20 minutes or until soft enough to pierce with a fork. Remove from oven; discard rosemary. Meanwhile, cook bacon in a large oven-safe skillet on medium, 3 to 4 minutes or until crispy and browned. Drain on plate lined with paper towels. In the same skillet, cook beef 6 minutes or until no longer pink; drain fat. Season beef with salt and pepper. Add roasted vegetables and cooked bacon to skillet and toss to combine. Sprinkle top of hash with cheese. Using a large spoon, make 8 indentions in mixture and carefully crack an egg into each, making sure not to break yolk. Season eggs with salt and pepper; bake about 8 minutes or until whites are set but yolks are runny. Remove from oven; spoon hash onto plates. Garnish with onions and rosemary sprigs.

Per serving: 354 calories, 35 grams protein, 20 grams fat (50% calories from fat), 7.4 grams saturated fat, 10 grams carbohydrate, 311 milligrams cholesterol, 495 milligrams sodium, 3 grams fiber.

Carb count: 0.5.

Cannellini beans with sauteed fennel and blistered tomatoes

Makes 6 servings

Preparation time: 15 minutes

Cooking time: 30 minutes

INGREDIENTS

3 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil, divided

1 pint grape tomatoes

1 teaspoon coarse salt, divided

Freshly ground black pepper

1 (1 1/2-pound) bulb fennel

1 clove garlic, grated

Pinch crushed red pepper

2 (19-ounce) cans reduced-sodium cannellini beans, rinsed

4 tablespoons chopped fresh basil, divided

1/3 cup freshly grated Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese, divided

Heat a medium skillet on medium-high until hot. Add 1 tablespoon oil. Add tomatoes and cook, shaking the pan, 5 minutes or until tomatoes are blistered and beginning to brown. Add 1/2 teaspoon salt and a generous grinding of pepper; set aside. Meanwhile, cut a thin slice from base of fennel. Remove any blemishes. Remove dark green stalks, but reserve enough leafy fronds to make 1/4 cup chopped. Cut the bulb and white part of stalks into 1/4-inch slices, then into 1/4-inch pieces to make about 3 cups. Heat remaining 2 tablespoons oil in a large skillet until hot. Add fennel, chopped fennel fronds, garlic, crushed red pepper and remaining salt. Cook, stirring constantly, on medium for 5 minutes. Cover and cook on low 15 minutes or until fennel is very soft. Add the beans, blistered tomatoes, 2 tablespoons basil and more black pepper. Cook 5 minutes, gently folding to combine, on medium-low heat or until heated through. Add 1/4 cup of the grated cheese. Spoon into serving dish. Top with remaining basil and cheese; serve.

Per serving: 269 calories, 10 grams protein, 9 grams fat (30% calories from fat), 1.7 grams saturated fat, 38 grams carbohydrate, 4 milligrams cholesterol, 808 milligrams sodium, 11 grams fiber.

Carb count: 2.5.

Shrimp piccata

Makes 4 servings

Preparation time: 10 minutes

Cooking time: less than 5 minutes

INGREDIENTS

3 tablespoons flour

1 teaspoon no-salt-added lemon-pepper blend

1 pound medium or large shrimp (tails on), cleaned and deveined

1 tablespoon olive oil

2 cloves minced garlic

1/2 cup dry white wine

1/2 cup unsalted chicken broth

3 tablespoons lemon juice

2 tablespoons capers

2 tablespoons butter

1 tablespoon chopped parsley

Combine flour and pepper blend in a shallow dish. Toss shrimp in mixture until coated. Heat oil in a large, nonstick skillet on medium. Add shrimp and cook 2 or 3 minutes; turn and cook 1 more minute. Remove shrimp to a plate. Add garlic to skillet and cook 30 seconds. Stir in wine, broth, lemon juice and capers. Bring to a simmer. Add shrimp and cook 1 minute or until heated through. Remove from heat; whisk in butter and stir in parsley. Serve immediately.

Per serving: 226 calories, 24 grams protein, 10 grams fat (38% calories from fat), 4.3 grams saturated fat, 6 grams carbohydrate, 198 milligrams cholesterol, 420 milligrams sodium, no fiber.

Carb count: 0.5.

Red beans and rice

In a 4-quart or larger slow cooker, combine 1 pound red kidney beans (rinsed and picked over), 1/2 pound andouille smoked chicken sausage (thinly sliced), 3 chopped celery ribs, 1 chopped green bell pepper, 1 chopped medium onion, 3 minced cloves garlic, 1 tablespoon Creole seasoning and 7 cups hot water. Cover and cook on high 7 hours or until beans are tender. Spoon over brown rice and garnish with sliced green onions.

Summer salad platter

Arrange pickled beets, marinated vegetables and deli potato-and-chicken salad on a platter lined with lettuce. Serve with whole-grain bread. Juicy peaches are a delicious summertime dessert.

Turkey burgers

In a medium bowl, combine 1 1/3 pound ground turkey, 2 chopped green onions, 2 tablespoons white wine and herb chicken marinade, 1/2 teaspoon garlic powder and 1 teaspoon pepper. Divide into 5 (4-inch) patties. Heat a cast-iron skillet on medium-high. Cook patties 5 to 7 minutes per side or until no longer pink in the center. Serve on whole-grain buns with sliced tomatoes, sliced avocados, lettuce and low-fat mayonnaise. Add oven fries (from frozen) and steamed carrots.

Tropical crepes

Combine 3 cups cut-up or sliced assorted fresh fruit (such as mangoes, papayas, kiwis or peaches) with 2 tablespoons apricot or peach preserves and 2 tablespoons orange brandy or almond liqueur. Let stand 30 minutes to several hours. To assemble, spread 1/4 cup of fruit mixture on each of 4 or 5 ready-to-eat crepes; roll. Drizzle chocolate sauce over the crepes; serve immediately.

TIP: Look for the crepes in the produce department.

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