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What's for Dinner? New parents appreciate quick, healthy meals

By Beverly Glaze

CHARLESTON, W.Va. -- Last week, I became a grandmommy for the first time. I had somewhat forgotten how much time a newborn takes once they are home. Mom and Dad are a little overwhelmed and need to be able to cook affordable, easy and quick meals.

This week, three dinners can be made from a family pack of chicken breasts, and all meals can be prepared and ready to eat in about an hour. Salmon and an Italian casserole complete a week's worth of healthy eating for a busy family.

20-Minute Chicken Parmesan

Makes 4 servings. Source: www.cdkitchen.com.

4 boneless, skinless, chicken breast halves

1 large egg, lightly beaten

1/2 cup Italian seasoned bread crumbs

2 tablespoons butter or margarine, melted

1 3/4 cups spaghetti sauce

1/2 cup shredded mozzarella cheese

1 tablespoon Parmesan cheese

1/4 cup chopped fresh parsley (optional)

PLACE chicken between two sheets of heavy-duty plastic wrap; flatten to 1/4-inch thickness using a rolling pin. Dip chicken in egg, and dredge in bread crumbs. Cook chicken in butter in a large skillet over medium heat until browned on both sides.

SPOON spaghetti sauce over chicken; bring to a boil. Cover, reduce heat and simmer 10 minutes. Sprinkle with cheeses and parsley (if desired), cover and simmer five additional minutes or until cheeses melt.

SERVE with green salad and warm garlic bread.

Nutrition information: Calories 479, total fat 18 grams, saturated fat 8 grams, cholesterol 175 milligrams, total carbohydrate 29 grams, dietary fiber 2 grams, protein 49 grams, sodium 3,180 milligrams.

Chicken Breasts Stuffed with Pimento Cheese

Source: www.eatingwell.com.

1/2 cup shredded gouda cheese

2 tablespoons chopped green onion

1 tablespoon sliced pimentos, chopped

1 teaspoon paprika, divided

4 small boneless, skinless chicken breasts

1/2 teaspoon salt, divided

1/2 teaspoon freshly ground pepper

1 tablespoon olive oil

HEAT oven to 400°.

COMBINE gouda, green onion, pimentos and 1/2 teaspoon paprika in a small bowl. Cut a horizontal slit along the thin, long edge of each chicken breast, nearly through to the opposite side, and open like a book. Sprinkle breasts with 1/4 teaspoon salt and pepper. Divide the cheese filling among the chicken breasts, placing in the center of each. Close the breast over the filling, pressing the edges firmly together to seal.

SPRINKLE the breasts with the remaining 1/2 teaspoon paprika and 1/4 teaspoon salt and pepper. Heat oil in a large ovenproof skillet over medium-high heat. Add the chicken and cook until browned on one side, about 2 minutes. Turn the chicken over and transfer the skillet to the oven.

BAKE until the chicken registers 165° on a meat thermometer.

Nutrition information: Calories 200, total fat 10 grams, saturated fat 5 grams, cholesterol 76 milligrams, total carbohydrate 1 gram, protein 26 grams, dietary fiber 0 grams, sodium 232 milligrams.

Chicken Breasts Romano

Makes 6 servings. Source: ww.cdkitchen.com.

6 boneless, skinless chicken breast halves

1 medium onion, chopped

2 tablespoons vinegar

1 teaspoon garlic

1 teaspoon basil

2 tablespoons parsley

4 tablespoons olive oil

2 cups tomato juice

1/2 pound mushrooms, sliced and sautéed

1 teaspoon oregano

1 cup Romano cheese, grated

Flour

SAUTÉ sliced mushrooms in 1 tablespoon of oil. Just before they're done, add garlic to pan to sizzle. Remove and set aside.

DREDGE chicken breasts in flour, fold edges under to plump breasts and brown with folded edges down to seal and keep shape. Brown smooth side in remaining oil and then arrange smooth side up. Pour tomato juice over all.

SPRINKLE with vinegar, sugar and herbs. Spread onion and mushroom/garlic over chicken. Sprinkle with 4 tablespoons Romano and top with chopped parsley if desired.

COVER and simmer 45 minutes. Remove to serving platter and top with remaining Romano.

SERVE with steamed broccoli and carrots.

Nutrition information: Calories 458, total fat 24 grams, saturated fat 8 grams, cholesterol 137 milligrams, total carbohydrate 12 grams, dietary fiber 1 gram, protein 50 grams, sodium 1,109 milligrams.

Salmon with Pepita-Lime Butter

Makes 4 servings. Source: www.eatingwell.com.

2 tablespoons unsalted, toasted pepitas

1 tablespoon butter

1/2 teaspoon freshly grated lime zest

2 tablespoons lime juice

1/4 teaspoon chili powder

1 pound salmon fillet, skin removed

1/2 teaspoon salt

1/4 teaspoon freshly ground pepper

PLACE toasted pepitas in a small bowl with butter, lime zest, lime juice and chili powder. Generously coat a large nonstick skillet with cooking spray and place over medium heat.

SPRINKLE salmon with salt and pepper, add to the pan and cook until browned and just cooked through the center, 2 to 4 minutes per side. Remove the pan from heat.

TRANSFER salmon to a plate. Add the butter-lime mixture to the hot pan, stir until the butter is melted. Serve the salmon topped with the sauce.

SERVE with couscous and steamed sugar snap peas.

Nutrition information: Calories 259, total fat 17 grams, saturated fat 5 grams, cholesterol 74 milligrams, total carbohydrate 2 grams, protein 24 grams, dietary fiber 0 grams, sodium 360 milligrams.

Easy Italian Casserole

Makes 6 servings. Source: www.cdkitchen.com.

1 pound ground beef

1/2 cup chopped onion

1 clove garlic, crushed

1 15-ounce can tomato sauce

1 4-ounce can mushroom stems and pieces

1 teaspoon sugar

1/2 teaspoon each oregano and basil

1/4 teaspoon each salt and pepper

2 cups Bisquick-type baking mix

1/2 cup milk

1 egg

8 slices American cheese

1/4 cup grated Parmesan cheese

COOK and stir the ground beef, onion and garlic in a 10-inch skillet over medium heat until the beef is brown. drain. Stir in tomato sauce, mushrooms, sugar, oregano, basil, salt and pepper. Heat to boiling, stirring constantly; reduce heat. Simmer, uncovered stirring occasionally, 10 minutes.

HEAT oven to 400°. Grease 9- by 9- by 2-inch pan. Mix baking mix, milk and egg. Spread half of the mixture in the pan. Top with 4 slices of cheese. Spoon beef mixture over cheese. Top with remaining cheese slices and sprinkle with Parmesan cheese.

DROP remaining dough by spoonfuls onto cheese. Sprinkle with paprika if desired. Bake uncovered until light brown, about 20 minutes.

SERVE with a salad and whole-wheat French bread.

Nutrition information: Calories 443, total fat 20 grams, saturated fat 8 grams, cholesterol 124 milligrams, total carbohydrate 2 grams, dietary fiber 1 gram, protein 34 grams, sodium 1,068 milligrams.

Shopping list

Parsley, fresh

Green onion

Onion

Pimentos

Lime

Mushrooms

Pepitas

Chicken breast halves

Salmon fillet

Ground beef

Italian seasoned bread crumbs

Tomato sauce

Canned mushrooms

Spaghetti sauce

Tomato juice

Baking mix

Mozzarella cheese, shredded

Parmesan cheese

Romano cheese

Gouda cheese

American cheese

Pantry staples: egg, butter, margarine, paprika, olive oil, vinegar, garlic, basil, parsley, oregano, chili powder, sugar, milk

Programs and activities offered by the West Virginia University Extension Service are available to all persons without regard to race, color, sex, disability, religion, age, veteran status, political beliefs, sexual orientation, national origin, and marital or family status. This material was funded, in part, by the USDA's Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program. The Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program provides nutrition assistance to people with limited income. To find out more, contact your local Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program.

Beverly Glaze has a master's degree in human nutrition and food science and is a WVU Extension specialist in the FNP adult program. Reach her at Beverly.Glaze@mail.wvu.edu or 304-634-8449.


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