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Scare up some devilishly delicious red velvet vampire cupcakes next week.
Tickle the family's taste buds with your own roast beef. Serve your masterpiece with goat cheese mashed potatoes.
Cook 3 pounds potatoes (cut into chunks) in boiling water 15 to 20 minutes, or until tender. Drain well. Mash with 1 cup hot skim milk, 6 ounces softened goat cheese and 2 tablespoons butter until smooth.
Season with coarse salt and pepper to taste.
Serve with chickpea and cucumber salad. In a medium bowl, toss 1 (15-ounce) can rinsed chickpeas, thinly sliced English cucumber,
For dessert, top angel food cake slices with fat-free chocolate ice cream.
Plan ahead: Save enough beef, potatoes and cake for Monday.
Save enough ice cream for Thursday and Saturday.
Shopping list: Beef to roast, potatoes to mash, skim milk, goat cheese, butter, coarse salt, pepper, canned chickpeas, English cucumber, fresh basil, shallot, olive oil, red wine vinegar, dinner rolls, angel food cake, fat-free chocolate ice cream.
MONDAY (Heat and Eat)
Slice the leftover beef and make open-face hot roast beef sandwiches (on dense white bread) with gravy (from a jar) for an easy meal. On the side, add leftover potatoes and mixed greens.
Spoon strawberry sauce over the leftover cake for dessert.
Shopping list: Dense white bread for sandwiches, jarred gravy, salad greens, strawberry sauce.
For a low-cost, good-tasting meal, try penne with sausage and peppers (see recipe).
Serve it with a spinach salad and Italian bread.
Tropical fruit is your dessert.
Shopping list: Penne pasta, mild or hot Italian turkey sausage, olive oil, green bell peppers, onion, garlic, canned crushed tomatoes with basil, coarse salt, black pepper, fresh spinach, Italian bread, tropical fruit.
Make it a spooky Halloween dinner with ugly intestines topped with icky blood sauce (your spaghetti and red pasta sauce). Add chopped lettuce.
Finish with ghoulish red velvet vampire cupcakes. Prepare 1 (18-ounce) package red velvet cake mix according to directions for cupcakes; cool. Divide 1 (16-ounce) container cream cheese frosting in half.
Use half to spread a thin layer on cupcakes. Tint remaining frosting black with teaspoon black food coloring.
Spoon black frosting into small plastic resealable bag. Snip a small corner from bag. Pipe frosting in shape of widow's peak for vampire's head. Pipe a line of frosting for mouth.
Use jelly beans for eyes and gummy candies (cut into triangles) for the fangs. Boo!
Shopping list: Spaghetti, red pasta sauce, lettuce, red velvet cake mix, cream cheese frosting, black food coloring, jelly beans, gummy candies.
For a quick meal, chicken and succotash chowder works just fine. In a medium saucepan, mix 2 (10-ounce) cans condensed less-sodium, lower-fat cream of mushroom soup, 2 soup cans skim milk, 1 cup frozen baby lima beans (thawed), cup sliced green onions and 1 cups cooked shredded chicken.
Simmer on medium until lima beans are tender. (Adapted from Woman's Day magazine.) Serve with a packaged Caesar salad and cheese toast.
Spoon marshmallow topping over leftover ice cream for dessert.
Plan ahead: Cook Friday's brown rice today if time permits.
Tip: Use canned chicken breast, if desired.
Shopping list: Canned condensed less-sodium, lower-fat cream of mushroom soup, skim milk, frozen baby lima beans, green onions, cooked chicken, packaged Caesar salad, cheese, bread, marshmallow topping.
Enjoy a no-meat dinner of Caribbean beans and rice (see recipe). Serve it with a romaine salad and crusty bread.
Dessert is simply fresh pineapple.
Shopping list: Olive oil, onion, red and yellow bell peppers, garlic, Cajun or jerk seasoning mix, dried oregano, canned reduced-sodium black beans, vegetable broth, lime, coarse salt, brown rice, romaine, crusty bread, fresh pineapple.
SATURDAY (Easy Entertaining)
Invite friends for aromatic Tandoori chicken (see recipe). Serve the flavorful chicken with basmati rice and fresh green beans.
Add a Boston lettuce salad and flatbread.
Present triple chocolate threat for dessert: Top brownies with leftover ice cream and drizzle with chocolate sauce.
Shopping list: Plain fat-free yogurt, coarse salt, black pepper, ground cloves, fresh ginger, garlic, paprika, cumin, cinnamon, coriander, cooking spray, bone-in skinless chicken thighs, basmati rice, fresh green beans, Boston lettuce, flatbread, brownies, chocolate sauce.
Susan Nicholson, a graduate of Mary Washington College, is an Atlanta-based cookbook author and registered dietitian. She can be reached by email:
PENNE WITH SAUSAGE AND PEPPERS
Prep time: 20 minutes
1 pound penne pasta
CARIBBEAN BEANS AND RICE
Prep time: 15 minutes
2 tablespoons olive oil
Prep time: 10 minutes
1 (8-ounce) container plain