Enjoy a bountiful brunch of Bacon and Hash Brown Egg Bake before the big meal later in the day. CONTRIBUTED BY Houghton Mifflin Harcourt
Photo: 7-Day Menu Planner
Photo: 7-Day Menu Planner

7 Day Menu

12/ 25

Family Sunday / Christmas

Enjoy a bountiful brunch of Bacon and Hash Brown Egg Bake (see recipe) before the big meal later in the day. Serve the savory dish with orange and greapefruit sections sprinkled with fresh mint. Start the meal with spicy tomato juice.

Plan ahead: Prepare the Egg Bake the day before. Save enough of it for Monday.

12/ 26

Heat-and-Eat Monday

Heat the leftover Bacon and Hash Brown Egg Bake for an easy meal. Serve it with a lettuce wedge. For dessert, munch on delicious Christmas cookies.

12/ 27

Kids Tuesday

The kids will like this slightly sweet Barbecue Meatloaf with no icky onions and green peppers. Heat oven to 350 degrees. In a large bowl, combine 1/3 cup barbecue sauce, 1 tablespoon Worcestershire sauce, 1 teaspoon coarse salt, 1 1/2 teaspoons onion powder, 1/4 teaspoon garlic powder, 1 egg, 1 tablespoon milk and 1/4 teaspoon ground black pepper; mix together until well-blended. Stir in 1 1/2 cups bran flakes cereal and let stand 5 minutes. Add 1 1/2 pounds lean ground beef; mix well. Shape into a 9-by-5-inch loaf. Place on rack in baking dish lined with foil. Bake 1 hour 15 minutes or until meatloaf reaches an internal temperature of 165 degrees. Brush with additional barbecue sauce; bake 10 more minutes. Let stand 5 minutes; slice and serve.

Add mashed potatoes, frozen green peas and bread sticks. How about chocolate ice cream for a dessert the kids will love?

Plan ahead: Save enough ice cream for Friday.

12/ 28

Express Wednesday

Change the dinner tune tonight with a Curried Egg Salad Platter. Season deli egg salad with some curry powder. Serve it on lettuce and surround it with grapes and celery sticks. Add whole-grain bread in case anyone wants to make sandwiches. Enjoy fresh pineapple for dessert.

12/ 29

Meatless Thursday

Top refrigerated or frozen Cheese Ravioli with any marinara sauce for a no-meat dinner. Garnish it with freshly grated Parmesan cheese. Add a spinach salad and garlic bread. Mandarin orange sections are dessert.

12/ 30

Budget Friday

It’s a good time to hold the food budget in check, and White Bean Soup with Peppers and Bacon (see recipe) won’t stretch it too far. Serve the soup with mixed greens and crusty bread. Leftover ice cream is an easy dessert.

12/ 31

Easy Entertaining Saturday

We recommend Shrimp Paella (see recipe) for your favorite friends and your “yummy” recipe file. All you need alongside is bibb lettuce and sourdough bread. Keep dessert light with a citrus sorbet and butter cookies.

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Bacon and Hash Brown Egg Bake (Sunday)

1 pound bacon, cut into 1-inch pieces

1 medium red bell pepper, chopped

1 medium onion, chopped

1 (8-ounce) package sliced fresh mushrooms

2 tablespoons Dijon mustard

1/2 teaspoon coarse salt

1/2 teaspoon pepper

3/4 cup 1 percent milk

12 eggs

1 (32-ounce) package frozen hash-browned potatoes, thawed

2 cups shredded Swiss, cheddar, Monterey Jack or Colby cheese, divided

In a large nonstick skillet, cook bacon until crisp. Remove from skillet to small bowl lined with paper towels. Cover; refrigerate. Drain skillet, reserving 1 tablespoon drippings. In same skillet, cook bell pepper, onion and mushrooms in drippings on medium for 4 minutes. Stir occasionally. Stir in mustard, salt and pepper; set aside. In a large bowl, beat milk and eggs with whisk; set aside.

Coat a 9-by-13-inch glass baking dish with cooking spray. Spread half the potatoes in dish. Spread pepper and onion mixture over top. Sprinkle with 1 cup of the cheese. Spread remaining potatoes over top. Pour egg mixture over all. Cover and refrigerate 8 to 24 hours.

Heat oven to 325 degrees. Uncover dish and bake 50 to 60 minutes or until thermometer inserted in center reads 160 degrees. Sprinkle with remaining cheese and the bacon. Bake 3 to 5 minutes longer or until knife inserted in center comes out clean, top is puffed and cheese is melted. Let stand 5 minutes before serving. Cut into squares and enjoy. (Adapted from “Betty Crocker: Fresh From the Freezer,” Grace Wells and Cathy Swanson, senior editors; Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, 2016.) Serves 12.

Per serving: 296 calories (percent calories from fat, 50), 19 grams protein, 18 grams carbohydrate, 2 grams fiber, 17 grams fat (6.9 grams saturated fat), 218 milligrams cholesterol, 476 milligrams sodium.

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White Bean Soup with Peppers and Bacon (Friday)

1 1/2 cups dried white beans

5 slices bacon

2 medium red bell peppers, chopped

2 medium onions, chopped

1 cup chopped carrot

1 teaspoon sugar

1 teaspoon onion powder

1 teaspoon garlic powder

1/4 teaspoon black pepper

1/8 teaspoon cayenne pepper

4 cloves garlic, minced

6 cups unsalted chicken broth

1/2 cup chopped fresh parsley

Sort and wash beans; place in a large pot. Cover with 2 inches water above beans; bring to a boil and cook 2 minutes. Remove from heat and let stand 1 hour; drain. Remove beans from pot and set aside.

Cook the bacon in the same pot on medium until crisp. Remove bacon; crumble and set aside. In same pot, add bell peppers, onions, carrot, sugar, onion powder, garlic powder, black pepper, cayenne pepper and garlic to bacon drippings; cook 10 minutes or until browned. Stir in broth, scraping pan to loosen browned bits. Add beans. Bring to boil; cover, reduce heat and simmer 1 hour or until beans are tender. Blend some of mixture until smooth (use an immersion blender if available). After blending, return pureed mixture to pan. Stir in crumbled bacon and parsley and serve. (Soup may be thick; if necessary, thin soup with water to make 8 cups.) Makes 8 cups.

Per cup: 245 calories (percent calories from fat, 33), 9 grams protein, 31 grams carbohydrate, 2 grams fiber, 9 grams fat (3 grams saturated fat), 10 milligrams cholesterol, 207 milligrams sodium.

** ** **

Shrimp Paella (Saturday)

3 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil

2 medium sweet onions (such as Vidalia), chopped

4 cloves garlic, chopped

1 medium red bell pepper, chopped

1 1/2 cups rice

4 cups unsalted chicken broth, divided

1/2 cup dry white wine

1/2 teaspoon black pepper

1/2 teaspoon crumbled saffron or turmeric

2 pounds uncooked shrimp, peeled and deveined

1 cup frozen peas

Coarse salt and pepper to taste

Fresh chopped parsley

Lemon wedges

Heat olive oil in a large Dutch oven on medium-high. Add onions, garlic and bell pepper; cook and stir 5 minutes or until onions begin to brown. Add rice; cook and stir 5 minutes until rice begins to look translucent and has a slightly nutty aroma. Stir in 3 1/2 cups broth, wine, pepper and saffron. Bring to boil; stir. Cover and reduce heat to low. Simmer 20 minutes or until rice has absorbed most of the liquid. Stir in shrimp, peas and remaining broth. Cover and cook on medium for 5 minutes or until shrimp turn pink and broth is absorbed, stirring occasionally. Stir before serving. Salt and pepper to taste. Garnish each serving with fresh chopped parsley and a lemon wedge. Serves 8.

Per serving: 309 calories (percent calories from fat, 17), 26 grams protein, 34 grams carbohydrate, 2 grams fiber, 6 grams fat (0.8 gram saturated fat), 183 milligrams cholesterol, 218 milligrams sodium.

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