Taste Test: Weekday dinner inspirations: King Ranch Chicken Salad and more

Mon | Dinner a la Cubano

Grab a loaf of Cuban bread and make Cuban sandwiches tonight. You'll need sliced roasted pork, boiled ham, Swiss cheese, yellow mustard and thinly sliced dill pickles. If you don't have a panini press, use a large skillet and place a (clean!) pot on top of the sandwiches to get that patented Ybor City press. Plantain chips and black beans and yellow rice on the side.

Tues | Fast sketti

Even if you don't have an Italian Mama's red sauce recipe, you can whip up Spaghetti and Meatballs. Pick out a favorite sauce (we like ours chunky and garlicky) and buy some frozen meatballs. Heat sauce and dump in thawed meatballs. Serve over pasta with lots of freshly grated Parmesan. (It may be convenient but avoid the green cardboard shaker; grate your own.) Big slices of hot Italian bread and green salad.

Wed | Rotisserie Chicken

King Ranch Chicken Salad (recipe below) isn't exactly what we think of when we think of salad. This is a hot dish, made bubbly good with cheeses, chilies and olives. King Ranch is a good take-along dish and is excellent for when the kids have friends over for dinner.

Thur | Kit and caboodle

Write "Asian food kit" on your shopping list and the next time you're at the store, peruse the Thai Kitchen brand of curries or pad Thai mixes. The instructions are right on the packaging. Get what's directed (probably chicken or shellfish, some veggies and maybe coconut milk) and prepare it tonight. Make sure you've got rice or noodles in the pantry.

Fri | Make it cheap

Stuffed baked potatoes are easy on the wallet and very filling. Some suggestions: black beans and salsa; chili and shredded cheese; broccoli and cheese; or chicken, canned green chilies and sour cream.

Read Stir Crazy online at www.blogs.tampabay.com/food. Submit your ideas for quick weeknight meals to jkeeler@sptimes.com.

Upcoming in Taste

Dec. 3: The seventh annual Christmas Cookie Issue, and because you've been good, there are two extra recipes!

>>easy

King Ranch Chicken Salad

Meat from 2 rotisserie chickens, shredded

1 medium onion,

chopped

1 can (4 ounces)

chopped green chilies, drained

1 can (4 1/2 ounces)

chopped black olives, drained

1 cup mayonnaise

1 cup dairy sour cream

2 cups crushed tortilla

chips, divided

1 cup grated Monterey

Jack cheese

1 cup grated sharp Colby

or cheddar cheese

In a large mixing bowl, combine chicken, onion, chilies, olives, mayonnaise and sour cream. Add 1 cup tortilla chips; mix well.

Spread half the chicken mixture in a greased 9- by 13-inch baking pan. Sprinkle Monterey Jack cheese over mixture in pan. Spread remaining mixture over cheese. Cover with Colby cheese. Top with remaining 1 cup tortilla chips. Bake in a preheated 400-degree oven 10 minutes or until hot and bubbly.

Serves 6 to 8 as a main dish.

Source: Salads: Food Writers' Favorites, edited by Barbara Gibbs Ostmann and Jane Baker (Dial Publishing, 1991)

Taste Test: Weekday dinner inspirations: King Ranch Chicken Salad and more 11/18/08 [Last modified: Tuesday, November 18, 2008 3:30am]

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