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Weekday dinner inspirations: Hamburger Pie and more

Mon | Mac the Nice

Baked Mac and Cheese is a thing of beauty that can be bent to your own tastes. Cook a pound of pasta (shells, corkscrews, penne). While pasta is cooking, melt 4 tablespoons of butter, then add 1/4 cup flour. Stir constantly until mixture thickens. Add 4 cups of liquid (whole or low-fat milk, heavy cream, chicken broth or a combination), bring to simmer and keep stirring. Add 4 cups grated cheese (any combination but I like sharp white cheddar and Parmesan). Sprinkle in a few shakes of hot sauce or cayenne pepper. When cheese melts, drain pasta and stir into sauce. Pour into baking dish and cover with bread crumbs and thinly sliced tomatoes if you like. Bake for about 20 minutes, until brown and bubbly.

Tues | Crazy for casseroles

Put your teens into service today since they are out of school. Hamburger Pie (recipe below) will take them about 30 minutes to put together and 30 minutes to bake. The basic skills they'll need, besides knowing how to use a can opener, are chopping, sauteing, baking and mashing potatoes. A tip for cheaters: Use the ready-made mashed potatoes to make the process even easier. A green salad is all they'll need to prepare to complete the deal.

Wed | Rotisserie chicken

A super-fast dinner is the goal tonight. Carve up the bird and make Mideast-inspired Couscous Salad from Martha Stewart to serve alongside. Follow the directions on a box of instant couscous and make enough for 4 servings. Add a handful of golden raisins to couscous as it cooks. In a bowl, mix 1/3 cup lemon juice with 1/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil. Add 1 can drained and rinsed garbanzo beans, 1 diced cucumber, some red onion, the couscous and raisins and chopped fresh parsley. Refrigerate until needed. Great for lunch the next day, too.

Thurs | Mango tango

Spicy Mango Salsa pairs nicely with grilled salmon or shrimp skewers. It's even a good accompaniment for pork chops. To make salsa, mix together diced mango, cucumber, red onion and jalapeno. Squeeze lime juice over all and stir in chopped fresh cilantro. Adjust proportions to your tastes. Rice and steamed broccoli on the side.

Fri | Veggie delight

Grilled Vegetable Tacos are healthy and simple. Brush zucchini spears, portobello mushroom and onion slices with olive oil mixed with minced garlic. Grill until veggies soften and color. Spoon into corn tortillas that have been heated on the grill. Add shredded cheese and salsa of your choice. Serve big triangles of juicy watermelon on the side.

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

>>easy

Hamburger Pie

1 tablespoon vegetable oil

1 medium-sized onion, chopped

1 pound ground beef

Salt and pepper to taste

1 large can (2 1/2 cups) or 1/2 pound cooked green beans

1 can condensed tomato soup

5 medium-sized potatoes, peeled and cooked

1/2 cup warm milk

1 beaten egg

Heat oil in large skillet and add onions. Cook over medium heat until browned. Add ground beef and salt and pepper and brown until meat is cooked through. Add drained beans and soup; pour into a greased casserole dish. Set aside.

Mash potatoes; add milk and egg, plus salt and pepper to taste. Spoon in mounds over meat. Bake in 350-degree oven for 30 minutes.

Serves 6.

Source: Epicurious.com

Weekday dinner inspirations: Hamburger Pie and more 06/16/09 [Last modified: Tuesday, June 16, 2009 5:30am]
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