Menu Planner: Keep it simple and inexpensive with fruit and nut burgers

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

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Fruit and nut burgers.

Fruit and nut burgers.

Courtesy Cattlemen’s Beef Board

Fruit and nut burgers

Makes 4 servings

Preparation time: 20 minutes

Cooking time: 7 to 9 minutes


1 pound ground beef (93% lean or leaner)

2 tablespoons chopped walnuts

1/4 teaspoon coarse salt

1/4 teaspoon pepper

1 Granny Smith apple, cored and cut into 8 rounds

4 whole-grain artisanal rolls

4 tablespoons brie cheese, softened

4 teaspoons marionberry or blackberry preserves

Combine ground beef, walnuts, salt and pepper in a medium bowl; mix lightly but thoroughly. Lightly shape into four 1/2-inch-thick patties. Place patties on grill over medium, ash-covered coals. Grill, covered, 8 to 10 minutes (7 to 9 minutes on preheated gas grill, covered, on medium heat) or until internal temperature reaches 160 degrees, turning occasionally. Place two apple rounds on bottom of each roll; top with burger. Evenly spread cheese and preserves over burgers. Close sandwiches and serve.

TIP: Cooking times are for fresh or thoroughly thawed ground beef. Color is not a reliable indicator of ground beef doneness.

Per serving: 407 calories, 35 grams protein, 14 grams fat (30% calories from fat), 4.1 grams saturated fat, 38 grams carbohydrate, 70 milligrams cholesterol, 616 milligrams sodium, 6 grams fiber.

Carb count: 2.5.

Bleu cheese vegetable soup

Makes 6 cups

Preparation time: 15 minutes

Cooking time: about 15 minutes


1 pound fresh or frozen Brussels sprouts

3 cups skim milk, divided

3 tablespoons flour

1 tablespoon butter

1/2 cup crumbled bleu cheese

1/4 to 1/2 teaspoon freshly ground pepper

Wash and trim ends of fresh Brussels sprouts; cut in half. Cover and microwave on high 5 minutes; let stand 5 minutes and drain. (If frozen, cook according to package directions; drain.) Place sprouts and 1 cup milk in blender and process until smooth or chunky according to your preference. In a 2-quart pan, mix the flour and remaining 2 cups milk. Bring milk to a simmer on medium heat; reduce heat to low and simmer 5 minutes; stirring constantly until thickened. Add butter; stir to melt. Add blended sprouts, bleu cheese and pepper; mix well. Heat and stir until the cheese is melted. If too thick, thin with water to equal 6 cups.

Per cup: 155 calories, 10 grams protein, 7 grams fat (37% calories from fat), 4.1 grams saturated fat, 16 grams carbohydrate, 20 milligrams cholesterol, 217 milligrams sodium, 3 grams fiber.

Carb count: 1.

Glazed lamb chops with horseradish sauce

Makes 4 servings

Preparation time: less than 15 minutes; chilling time: 8 hours

Cooking time: 10 to 14 minutes; standing time: 5 minutes


For the lamb:

1/3 cup maple syrup

1/4 cup Dijon mustard

2 tablespoons balsamic vinegar

2 tablespoons olive oil

1 shallot, minced

1/4 teaspoon crushed red pepper

8 lamb loin chops (1/2 inch thick)

1/2 teaspoon coarse salt

1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper

For the sauce:

1/2 cup reduced-fat sour cream

2 tablespoons prepared horseradish

2 tablespoons coarsely chopped mint leaves

In a resealable plastic bag, combine syrup, mustard, vinegar, oil, shallot and red pepper; mix well. Add lamb. Refrigerate up to 8 hours, turning occasionally. Remove lamb and discard marinade. Sprinkle chops with salt and pepper; place on rack of broiler pan coated with cooking spray. Broil chops 3 inches from heat 5 to 7 minutes per side or to desired degree of doneness. Remove from broiler, cover with foil and let stand 5 minutes. Meanwhile, combine sour cream, horseradish and mint leaves. Cover and chill until ready to serve with lamb.

Per serving: 263 calories, 29 grams protein, 14 grams fat (49% calories from fat), 5.4 grams saturated fat, 4 grams carbohydrate, 101 milligrams cholesterol, 456 milligrams sodium, no fiber.

Carb count: 1.

Baked ham

Prepare a 2- to 3-pound fully cooked baked ham for family day. Place ham in a shallow dish and heat at 350 degrees, uncovered, 15 to 18 minutes per pound or until internal temperature reaches 140 degrees. Serve it with mashed sweet potatoes (from refrigerated), peas and carrots (from frozen), a romaine salad and cornbread muffins (from mix).

South-of-the-border tamale pie

In a medium saucepan, combine 1 (8-ounce) can no-salt-added tomato sauce and 1/2 cup chunky salsa. Stir in 2 cups cubed leftover ham; heat through. Heat oven to 350 degrees. Coat a 2-quart rectangular baking dish with cooking spray. Cut 1 (16-ounce) tube refrigerated polenta into 8 slices and arrange in baking dish. Spoon salsa mixture over polenta. Bake, uncovered, for 25 minutes or until heated through. Sprinkle with 1 cup shredded pepper jack cheese. Bake five minutes more or until cheese is melted. S

Mini chicken pot pies

Heat oven to 375 degrees. Coat 8 regular muffin cups with cooking spray. Separate 1 (16.3-ounce) can large refrigerated biscuits (such as Pillsbury Grands) into 8 biscuits. Separate each biscuit into 2 layers. Place 8 biscuit halves in coated muffin cups, pressing to cover bottom and sides. Drain 1 (19-ounce) can chicken noodle soup (reserve broth for some later use, if desired). Spoon drained soup evenly into biscuit-lined cups. Place remaining biscuit halves over soup; gently seal each biscuit. Coat biscuit tops with cooking spray. Sprinkle the 8 pot pies with 1 teaspoon Italian seasoning and 1/2 teaspoon garlic powder. Top each with 1/2 tablespoon shredded mozzarella cheese. Bake 15 to 18 minutes or until edges are golden. Serve with mixed vegetables (from frozen) and a chopped lettuce salad.

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