Weekday dinner inspiration: Slow Cooker Chicken and Dumplings and more

Mon | Going meatless

White Bean, Spinach and Fennel Soup is hearty and nourishing, plus delish served with big hunks of bread. To make it, saute 1 diced onion and 1 small sliced fennel bulb in oil until tender. Add 5 cups vegetable broth, 1 (14-ounce) can each drained cannellini beans and diced tomatoes, 1 teaspoon dried thyme, pepper to taste and bay leaf; bring to a boil. Reduce heat; cover and simmer for 20 minutes or until fennel is tender. Discard bay leaf. Add 3 cups spinach and cook until wilted.

Tues | Easy does it

Slow Cooker Chicken and Dumplings (recipe below) is a recipe that's perfect for cheatin' cooks, of which I am one on busy nights. It's all about convenience and simplicity. Look for low-sodium canned soup and make sure to toss together a veggie-loaded green salad.

Wed | Rotisserie chicken

Chipotle Chicken Tostadas are a delicious hump-day meal. Shred your rotisserie bird and mix with drained pinto beans and at least 1 chopped chipotle in adobo sauce. Heat the mixture on the stove or in the microwave and then pile on crisp tortillas. Top with chopped tomatoes and cabbage and shredded Jack cheese. Serve with lime wedges. Honeydew melon sprinkled with cayenne pepper is a worthy accompaniment.

Thurs | Wrap it up

Make life simple tonight with Ham, Swiss and Apple Wraps, using whole wheat wraps or tortillas. Make a spread of plain yogurt and honey mustard mixed with a few shakes of dill (or some chopped fresh dill) and salt and pepper. Slather generously on wraps and then layer with ham, Swiss cheese and thinly sliced Granny Smith apples. If you want more ice-cold crunch, add romaine leaves. Pasta salad on the side.

Fri | Side trip

Dressing up vegetables can be a challenging chore but a New Jersey housewife has a good suggestion for green beans. Tonight, grill something (steaks, salmon, chicken) and serve it with Balsamic Green Beans from Teresa Giudice's Fabulicious Fast & Fit (Running Press). First, heat 2 tablespoons each extra-virgin olive oil and balsamic vinegar, 2 finely chopped garlic cloves and salt and pepper in a small saucepan until the garlic is fragrant, about 3 minutes. Do not boil. Remove from heat and let stand while you cook green beans. Transfer cooked beans to a serving bowl and drizzle with the balsamic vinegar mixture. Toss and serve.

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

>>EASY

Slow Cooker Chicken and Dumplings

4 boneless, skinless chicken breasts

2 tablespoons butter

1 (10.75-ounce) can cream of chicken soup

1 (10.75-ounce) can cream of celery soup

31/2 cups chicken broth

1 onion, finely diced

1 cup celery, diced

1 cup carrots, diced

2 chicken bouillon cubes

1 (10-ounce) can refrigerated biscuits

Excluding the biscuits, put all ingredients in the slow cooker. Cover and cook on low for 8 hours. About an hour before serving, remove chicken and pull into pieces; return to the soup mixture. Place the torn biscuit dough into the slow cooker and cook until dough is no longer raw in the center.

Serves 5.

Source: The Crockin' Girls Slow Cookin' Companion by Nicole Sparks and Jenna Marwitz (the Five Star Institute, 2012)

Weekday dinner inspiration: Slow Cooker Chicken and Dumplings and more 06/12/12 [Last modified: Tuesday, June 12, 2012 5:30am]

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