Celebrate Labor Day with Cedar Plank Salmon. Contributed by McCormick & Co.
Photo: 7-Day Menu Planner
Photo: 7-Day Menu Planner

7 Day Menu Planner

9/ 3

Family Sunday

Enjoy the island flavors of Warm Caribbean Chicken and Rice Salad With Almonds (see recipe). Serve the filling salad with lemon poppy seed muffins.

Make blueberry pie for dessert. Bake a frozen pie shell according to directions; cool. Combine 1 (16-ounce) jar blueberry jam or spread and 1/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon; microwave on high for 1 minute or until mixture liquefies. Stir in 2 cups fresh blueberries. Spoon mixture into shell. Chill; slice and garnish with light whipped cream and serve.

Plan ahead: Make an extra pie for Monday (Labor Day).

9/ 4

Easy Entertaining Monday

Celebrate Labor Day with Cedar Plank Salmon (see recipe).

Serve with It’s Purple! Potato Salad. In a medium saucepan, add 2 pounds purple (or mixture of red, gold and purple) potatoes to cold, salted water; bring to boil and cook about 15 minutes or until fork-tender, but not mushy. Drain, rinse in cold water and cut into bite-size pieces. Place warm potatoes in a large bowl; toss with 1 medium diced red onion, 2 chopped celery ribs, 1/4 cup chopped fresh dill and 1/4 cup chopped parsley. In another bowl, stir together 1/2 cup low-fat mayonnaise, 2 tablespoons Dijon mustard, 1 teaspoon celery seed, 1/8 teaspoon cayenne pepper, 1 1/2 teaspoons white vinegar and juice of 1 lemon. Add coarse salt and pepper to taste. Toss gently to mix. (Adapted from Food Network star Tyler Florence.)

Add coleslaw. Dessert is leftover pie.

Plan ahead: Save enough salmon and potato salad for Tuesday and enough coleslaw for Thursday.

9/ 5

Heat-and-Eat Tuesday

No one will mind eating leftover Cold Salmon Over Salad Greens tonight. Toss with a dill dressing and add the leftover potato salad on the side. Top fresh peaches with vanilla ice cream for dessert.

Plan ahead: Save enough peaches for Wednesday.

9/6

Kids Wednesday

The kids can help prepare your Spaghetti and Meat Sauce for dinner. Add a chopped lettuce salad and soft rolls. Enjoy the leftover peaches for dessert.

9/ 7

Express Thursday

With the speed of Wonder Woman, you’ll have Reuben Wraps on the table. Spread burrito-size tortillas with reduced-fat or regular Russian dressing. Top with leftover coleslaw, thinly sliced deli corned beef and Swiss cheese. Roll, halve and eat.

Serve with mixed salad greens. Chilled watermelon is dessert.

9/ 8

Meatless Friday

Enjoy wonderful summer tomatoes and serve No-Cook Tomato Sauce over Lentil Pasta (or other vegetable pasta). In a large bowl, coarsely chop 6 of the best medium-size fresh tomatoes you can find. Add 2 large cloves minced garlic, 1/4 cup ribbon cut basil leaves, 1/3 cup extra-virgin olive oil, 1 tablespoon chopped chives and 1 tablespoon balsamic vinegar. Mix to coat tomatoes in oil. Cover; marinate at room temperature for 4 hours. Serve over cooked lentil pasta. Garnish with more basil and Parmesan if desired.

Deviled eggs add some extra protein, and sliced cucumbers add some crunch. Crusty bread is for sopping up the great juice from the sauce. Keep it fresh with figs for dessert.

9/ 9

Easy Entertaing Saturday

This Baked Grouper (see recipe) was a hit with our guests. Serve it with corn-on-the-cob and a Caprese salad. On a large platter, arrange tomato and fresh mozzarella slices and fresh basil leaves, alternating and overlapping them. Drizzle with extra-virgin olive oil and balsamic vinegar. Season with coarse salt and pepper. Add sourdough bread.

For dessert, prepare refreshing fresh fruit parfait with prosecco. Cut 1 cantaloupe in half and remove seeds. With a melon baller, scoop melon into small balls and place in a bowl. Add 1 cup each blueberries, raspberries and blackberries and toss gently. To serve, spoon fruit into stemmed dessert dishes. Pour prosecco over fruit. Garnish with mint sprigs; serve immediately.

** ** **

THE RECIPES

Warm Caribbean Chicken and Rice Salad With Almonds (Sunday)

1/2 cup slivered almonds

1 1/2 teaspoons olive oil, divided

12 ounces chicken breast tenders, cut into bite-size pieces

1 (8-ounce) package yellow rice

1/2 cup chopped cilantro leaves, divided

1/2 cup finely chopped Vidalia or other sweet onion

1 jalapeno pepper, seeded and finely chopped

1 teaspoon jerk seasoning

1 1/4 cups fresh orange juice, divided

1 teaspoon arrowroot (see Note)

1/4 teaspoon coarse salt

1/2 teaspoon orange zest (orange part only)

1 cup fresh orange sections

4 cups fresh baby spinach leaves

Heat a large skillet on medium-high. Add almonds and cook, stirring, until golden; set aside. In same skillet, heat half the oil and cook chicken 4 minutes, stirring, or until almost cooked through. Remove to a warm plate; cover.

Meanwhile, cook the rice according to directions. Toss hot rice with 1/4 cup chopped cilantro; set aside to keep warm.

For the dressing: Heat the remaining oil in a pan. Add onion, jalapeno pepper and jerk seasoning, and cook 5 minutes or until onions are wilted. Pour in 1 cup of orange juice and boil 5 minutes to reduce. Combine the arrowroot and remaining 1/4 cup orange juice and stir into sauce to thicken. Add the salt and orange zest.

Toss the cooked chicken, orange sections, half the almonds, remaining 1/4 cup cilantro and spinach together. Add the hot rice and the dressing and toss again to mix thoroughly. Top with remaining almonds and serve. Makes 6 servings.

Note: Arrowroot doesn’t have a chalky taste when undercooked like cornstarch can.

Per serving: 305 calories (percent calories from fat, 21), 19 grams protein, 43 grams carbohydrate, 3 grams fiber, 7 grams fat (0.9 gram saturated fat), 36 milligrams cholesterol, 656 milligrams sodium.

** ** **

Cedar Plank Salmon (Monday)

1 cedar grilling plank

1/4 cup packed brown sugar

1 tablespoon chili powder

1 (2-pound) salmon fillet, skin on

1 tablespoon canola oil

Soak plank according to manufacturer’s directions. Drain and pat dry. Heat grill to medium-high for 15 minutes. Reduce heat to medium-low.

Meanwhile, mix brown sugar and chili powder in small bowl. Brush salmon with oil. Rub seasoning mixture on flesh side of salmon. Place salmon, skin-side down, on plank and place plank on grill. Cover; grill 30 to 40 minutes or until fish is opaque throughout. Serve. Makes 8 servings.

Per serving: 192 calories (percent calories from fat, 34), 24 grams protein, 7 grams carbohydrate, no fiber, 7 grams fat (1.1 grams saturated fat), 53 milligrams cholesterol, 105 milligrams sodium.

** ** **

Baked Grouper (Saturday)

2 tablespoons olive oil

2 small onions, cut into 6 wedges

1 green bell pepper, cut into strips

3/4 cup fresh or canned crushed tomatoes

5 tablespoons no-salt-added tomato paste

Water (if needed)

Coarse salt and pepper to taste

1 1/2 pounds skinless grouper fillet, cut into 3-inch pieces

1 teaspoon lemon pepper

2 to 3 pinches cayenne pepper

Heat oven to 350 degrees. Heat oil in a large nonstick skillet on medium. Add onions and bell pepper; cook and stir 10 minutes or until softened. Stir in crushed tomatoes and tomato paste; cover, reduce heat to low and simmer 10 minutes, stirring often or until onions are very soft. (If mixture becomes too thick, thin with some water.) Season with salt and pepper to taste.

Put fillets in a 9-by-13-inch baking dish, folding under thin ends. Season with lemon pepper, cayenne pepper and salt to taste. Add tomato sauce and bake 20 to 25 minutes or until fish is opaque throughout. Serve. Makes 6 servings.

Per serving: 177 calories (percent calories from fat, 30), 23 grams protein, 8 grams carbohydrate, 2 grams fiber, 6 grams fat (0.9 gram saturated fat), 42 milligrams cholesterol, 171 milligrams sodium.

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