Menu Planner: Loaded baked cauliflower casserole is a fulfilling meal for your holiday season

By Chicago 6 Min Read

Loaded baked cauliflower casserole

Makes 6 servings

Preparation time: 20 minutes

Cooking time: 55 minutes


1 head (about 1 1/2 pounds) cauliflower, trimmed and cut into small florets (about 6 cups)

2 tablespoons olive oil

1/2 teaspoon garlic powder

1/2 teaspoon coarse salt

1/4 teaspoon pepper

2 cups shredded cheddar cheese, divided

1 cup low-fat sour cream

4 ounces reduced-fat cream cheese, at room temperature

2 slices crisp bacon, chopped

4 green onions, sliced on diagonal

Heat oven to 425 degrees. Coat a 2-quart casserole dish with cooking spray. Toss cauliflower, oil, garlic powder, salt and pepper until evenly coated and bake, covered, 30 minutes until tender-crisp. Meanwhile, in a small bowl, combine 1 1/2 cups shredded cheddar cheese, sour cream and cream cheese until blended. Reduce oven temperature to 375 degrees. Remove casserole dish from oven and carefully uncover. Stir in cheese mixture until cauliflower is evenly coated. Top with remaining 1/2 cup shredded cheddar cheese. Bake, uncovered, an additional 25 minutes or until tender, hot and bubbly. Top with bacon and green onions.

Per serving: 338 calories, 14 grams protein, 26 grams fat (67% calories from fat), 12.1 grams saturated fat, 13 grams carbohydrate, 63 milligrams cholesterol, 584 milligrams sodium, 3 grams fiber.

Carb count: 1

Pork chops with fruited couscous

Makes 4 servings

Preparation time: 10 minutes

Cooking time: less than 10 minutes, plus couscous


3/4 teaspoon each cumin and ground coriander

1/8 teaspoon each cinnamon and cayenne pepper

4 boneless pork chops, 3/4 inch thick (1 to 1 1/4 pounds)

1 teaspoon olive oil

3 cups water

1 3/4 cups couscous

1/4 cup each raisins and chopped dried apricots

2 tablespoons pine nuts

In a small bowl, combine cumin, coriander, cinnamon and cayenne; rub onto both sides of chops. Heat oil in a large, nonstick skillet on medium-high; cook chops, turning once, about 7 to 8 minutes. Meanwhile, boil water and prepare couscous according to directions, adding raisins, apricots and pine nuts to the water. Serve chops on top of couscous.

Per serving: 490 calories, 30 grams protein, 9 grams fat (16% calories from fat), 2 grams saturated fat, 73 grams carbohydrate, 57 milligrams cholesterol, 54 milligrams sodium, 5 grams fiber.

Carb count: 5

Manicotti with spinach and ricotta

Makes 6 servings

Preparation time: 20 minutes

Cooking time: 30 minutes, plus manicotti


8 manicotti shells

1 (10-ounce) package chopped frozen spinach (thawed and squeezed dry)

1 (15-ounce) container reduced-fat ricotta cheese

1 egg

1/2 cup freshly grated Parmesan cheese

1/2 teaspoon garlic powder

1 (14-ounce) can diced fire-roasted tomatoes with roasted garlic, undrained (such as Muir Glen or another brand)

1 (6-ounce) can tomato paste with Italian herbs

1 teaspoon dried basil

1 cup water

1 cup shredded part-skim mozzarella cheese

Cook shells according to directions; drain. Heat oven to 350 degrees. In a medium bowl, microwave spinach 1 minute on high (100 percent power) or until it is thawed; squeeze dry. In a separate bowl, combine spinach, ricotta cheese, egg, Parmesan cheese and garlic powder. Spoon into cooked shells; place in a 7-by-11-inch baking dish coated with cooking spray. Combine tomatoes, tomato paste, basil and water; mix well. Pour over shells. Sprinkle with mozzarella cheese. Bake 30 minutes or until heated through.

Per serving: 310 calories, 20 grams protein, 10 grams fat (29% calories from fat), 5 grams saturated fat, 34 grams carbohydrate, 66 milligrams cholesterol, 761 milligrams sodium, 4 grams fiber.

Carb count: 2.5

Mediterranean tuna salad

Combine 2 (8-ounce) packages Mediterranean salad greens (or another lettuce mix) in a large bowl. Add 2 small cucumbers (peeled, halved, seeded and sliced), 1 cup cooked green beans, 1 pint halved grape tomatoes, 1 (12-ounce) can drained water-packed light tuna, 1/4 cup Greek salad dressing, some crumbled basil and tomato feta cheese, and 10 sliced kalamata olives. Toss to mix and coat. Serve with any vegetable soup and breadsticks.

Hamburger soup

Heat a Dutch oven on medium; add 1 pound lean ground beef, 1 medium chopped onion and 2 cloves diced garlic. Cook 6 minutes or until beef is no longer pink and onions are softened; drain. Add 2 medium peeled and diced Yukon gold potatoes, 3 1/2 cups unsalted beef broth, 1 (28-ounce) can no-salt-added diced tomatoes with juice, 1 (8-ounce) can no-salt-added tomato sauce, 1 tablespoon Worcestershire sauce, 2 teaspoons Italian seasoning, 1 bay leaf and coarse salt and pepper to taste. Simmer, covered, 10 minutes. Add 3 cups fresh or frozen mixed vegetables and any other leftover vegetables on hand. Simmer 15 more minutes or until potatoes are tender. Serve with mixed greens and whole-grain crackers.

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