Pictured Recipe: Caldo Tlalpeño

5 easy recipes for a week of fast and healthy dinners.

As a big fan of seasonal eating, I find February rather challenging. Sure, winter's a season, but by this point, I need fresh recipes to inject some excitement into our dinners and rouse my brain from hibernation. The five recipes in this dinner plan teach me about new foods and different ways to use familiar ingredients for healthier results. Taking a new recipe for a spin gives me something to look forward to. On Monday, it's a recipe that turns food in my pantry into black bean croquettes-I wouldn't have thought of that. On Tuesday, you can learn how to cut 22 grams of fat (compared with a typical version) with our take on Chicken Piccata. Then on Wednesday, get familiar with Caldo Tlalpeño, a garlicky Mexican soup often served across the border in El Paso, Texas, but easy to replicate in just 40 minutes wherever your kitchen may be. On Friday night, discover how spicy chorizo makes mild cod sing.

-Wendy Ruopp, Managing Editor

Monday: Black Bean Croquettes with Fresh Salsa

With just a couple pantry items and a few fresh vegetables you can whip up these easy vegetarian croquettes with fresh salsa on the side. If tomatoes are out of season they can often be expensive and flavorless. A good rule of thumb:?if it doesn't smell like a tomato, it won't taste like one either. In that case, you can make the salsa with drained canned diced tomatoes. Serve with warm corn tortillas, coleslaw and lime wedges.

Tuesday: Chicken Piccata with Pasta & Mushrooms

Lemony Italian piccata sauce is often made with a stick (or more) of butter. Our chicken piccata, served over whole-wheat pasta, has a rich lemon-caper sauce that's made with extra-virgin olive oil and only a touch of butter for flavor. If you like, you can use a mild fish like tilapia or even shrimp instead of chicken breast.

Pictured Recipe: Caldo Tlalpeño

Wednesday: Caldo Tlalpeño

Although there are many variations of this classic Mexican chicken soup, spicy chipotle chile peppers are always part of the broth. Spice is nice on a chilly night, but you can always tone it down if spicy's not your thing. Garlic, cooked in broth and then pureed, gives the soup complex flavor and creaminess for almost zero calories.

Thursday: Pear & Blue Cheese Flatbread

The classic combination of pears, walnuts and blue cheese isn't just for salad. Toss the same ingredients onto purchased whole-wheat pizza dough and make your own gourmet flatbread at home. Any type of ripe, firm pear will work-red pears look great. Round out the meal with an arugula salad tossed with walnut oil vinaigrette.

Friday: Baked Cod with Chorizo & White Beans

This recipe follows the Spanish and Portuguese tradition of pairing mild white fish with full-flavored cured sausage-just a bit gives the whole dish a rich, smoky flavor. For this recipe we use fully cooked Spanish-style chorizo-spicy pork sausage seasoned with smoked paprika and chile. Find it near other cured sausages in well-stocked supermarkets or specialty food stores. Enjoy the baked cod with steamed green beans and roasted potatoes tossed with thyme and coarse salt.