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Weekday dinner inspiration: Southwestern Chicken and Rice and more

Mon | Meatless meal

Consider a big bowl of Roasted Veggies With Rice for your Meatless Monday offering. Roast a pan of assorted vegetables for 20 minutes at 400 degrees. I like a mix of winter squash, onions and Brussels sprouts. Cut them in similar sizes so they cook evenly and then toss in olive oil and season with salt and pepper. Serve over rice (brown for more nutrition). Whatever kind you make, prepare an extra 4 cups of rice for Wednesday's casserole.

Tues | Warm and cozy

Spicy Sausage and White Bean Soup with warm biscuits just might take the chill out of a Florida fall evening. (Chill? I like the way that sounded.) In a big soup pot, saute a chopped onion in olive oil until soft, about 5 minutes; add a minced garlic clove in the last 30 seconds. Stir in 1 pound of spicy, bulk sausage and brown. Drain off fat. Add chopped carrots and celery and a lot of chicken broth (about 2 boxes). Let simmer for about 15 minutes, then add a couple of cans of drained and rinsed Northern beans. Season with salt and pepper and serve.

Wed | Rotisserie chicken

Use the extra rice you cooked on Monday for Southwestern Chicken and Rice (recipe) tonight. This is one of those dishes that kids love and you can tinker with endlessly. It calls for cheese, and what kind is up to you. Monterey Jack is the most obvious but I like hot-pepper cheese for additional zing. Make a green salad loaded with veggies and dressed with a light vinaigrette.

Thurs | Tacos of the sea

Have you tried this yet? Use frozen fish sticks, popcorn shrimp or breaded fish nuggets as the basis for Seafood Tacos. Prepare them according to package instructions. Load into small heated flour or corn tortillas with crunchy coleslaw, lime wedges and fresh, chopped cilantro. (You know my trick with store-bought coleslaw: Add fresh, shredded cabbage to dilute the dressing.) Slices of melon sprinkled with a bit of cayenne go nicely as an accompaniment.

Fri | Southern comfort

Even though I am not technically a member of the GRITS (Girls Raised in the South), I still think of Pork Chops With Cheesy Grits as comfort food. Soak chops in buttermilk for about 30 minutes, then dredge through fine bread crumbs seasoned with paprika, lemon pepper, dried basil and garlic salt. Place chops on greased baking dish and bake for 20 to 25 minutes at 425 degrees, flipping halfway through. Make cheesy grits according to package instructions. Sauteed spinach on the side.

Janet K. Keeler can be reached at jkeeler@tampabay.com or (727) 893-8586. Follow her on Twitter at @roadeats.

>>EASY

Southwestern Chicken and Rice

4 cups cooked rice

2 to 3 cups diced rotisserie chicken breast

1 (10.5-ounce) can cream of chicken soup

1 cup sour cream

1 onion, chopped

1 teaspoon chili powder

Salt and pepper

1 cup shredded cheese

1 (15-ounce) can diced tomatoes

1 (14-ounce) can Rotel original diced tomatoes and green chiles, mild or hot

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Layer rice in the bottom of a greased 9- by 13-inch baking dish. Spread chicken over rice.

In a medium bowl, mix soup, sour cream, onion, chili powder and salt and pepper, then pour over chicken. Layer shredded cheese over soup mixture, and top with tomatoes. Bake for 30 minutes.

Serves 4.

Source: Adapted from Martha Pullen's Southern Family Cookbook by Martha Campbell Pullen and Suzanne Crocker (Adams Media, 2012)

Weekday dinner inspiration: Southwestern Chicken and Rice and more 11/06/12 [Last modified: Tuesday, November 6, 2012 3:30am]

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