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Weekday dinner inspiration: Slow-Cooker Cajun Stew and more

Mon | Sweet on potatoes

Add Curried Sweet Potato Soup to your meatless Monday repertoire. To prepare, cook 1 pound peeled, diced and cubed sweet potatoes in 4 cups water. Bring to a boil, then simmer until tender. Meanwhile, saute 2 cups chopped yellow onions in 1 tablespoon butter until golden. Puree drained potatoes with onions plus 3/4 teaspoon curry powder, 1 cup skim milk and 1/2 teaspoon salt. Return to pan; add another cup skim milk and 1 tablespoon butter. Heat through but do not boil. Serve with a dash of cayenne and sour cream. Serve with heated pita bread or Indian naan.

Tues | Ragin' Cajun

Slow-Cooker Cajun Stew (recipe below) is the kind of dish that makes you thrilled to step through the door after a long day at work. The house smells delicious. Once home, toss shrimp into the cooker and prepare a pot of rice to cradle the spicy melange.

Wed | Rotisserie chicken

Slice up the breast meat of your store-bought bird for Chicken Avocado Club Sandwiches. On toasted whole wheat bread smeared with mayo, layer chicken, bacon, tomato, lettuce and avocado. Serve with salad of spinach, sliced strawberries, sliced almonds and raspberry vinaigrette.

Thurs | Bowlful of yum

Penne With Broccoli and Hot Sausage is a fine weeknight meal that appeals to kids and adults. While the pasta is cooking, brown 1 pound of hot bulk sausage. When the pasta is halfway done, toss in 2 cups of broccoli florets. Drain pasta and broccoli, saving 1 cup of the water to use if the finished dish is too dry. Add cooked sausage to mixture, plus 2 cloves of finely minced fresh garlic, the juice and zest from 1 lemon and salt and pepper. Serve with grated Parmesan cheese.

Fri | Fusion food

Make BBQ Empanadas and serve with seasoned rice and fresh fruit salad. To make the empanadas, cut refrigerated pastry pie dough into 6-inch circles. Put about 1/4 cup prepared barbecued beef or pork on one side, leaving a 1/2-inch rim. Top with dill pickle slices. Brush inside rim with beaten egg, fold and crimp, then brush outside with more egg wash. Bake at 350 degrees for about 10 minutes, or until golden brown.

Janet K. Keeler can be reached at jkeeler@tampabay.com or (727) 893-8586.

>>EASY

Slow-Cooker Cajun Stew

pound andouille or kielbasa, sliced into ½-inch-thick rounds

1 red onion, sliced into wedges

2 garlic cloves, minced

2 celery stalks, coarsely chopped

1 red or green bell pepper, coarsely chopped

2 tablespoons all-purpose flour

1 can (28 ounces) diced tomatoes

1/2 cup water

¼ teaspoon cayenne pepper

Coarse salt

½ pound large shrimp, peeled and deveined

2 cups frozen sliced okra, thawed

Cooked rice for serving

In a 5- to 6-quart slow cooker, place sausage, onion, garlic, celery and bell pepper. Sprinkle with flour and toss to coat. Add tomatoes and their liquid, ½ cup water and cayenne; season with salt.

Cover and cook until vegetables are tender, 3 ½ hours on high or 7 hours on low. Add shrimp and okra, then cover and cook until shrimp are opaque throughout, 30 minutes on high or 1 hour on low.

To serve, scoop spoonful of rice into individual serving bowls and place stew on top.

Serves 4.

Nutritional information per serving without rice: 225 calories, 11g fat (5g saturated), 19g protein, 15g carbohydrates and 2g fiber.

Source: Everyday Food, March 2012

Weekday dinner inspiration: Slow-Cooker Cajun Stew and more 02/21/12 [Last modified: Tuesday, February 21, 2012 3:30am]

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