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Weekday dinner inspiration: Baked Grits and Greens and more

Mon | Meatless meal

Baked Grits and Greens (recipe below) is a Southern spin on a souffle. It's a casserole that can travel as a potluck dish or be a fine entree for dinner, especially served with a side of meaty sauteed mushrooms. You might even consider it for a Christmas side. The spinach turns it quite green. Ho, ho, ho!

Tues | Fancy bird

Sweet and Savory Stuffed Chicken Breasts is a simple favorite that is definitely open to tinkering. Cut a pocket into boneless, skinless chicken breasts and fill them with a spoonful of peach jam and a slice of super-sharp white cheese (I am a fan of Cracker Barrel). In an oven-proof skillet, brown the chicken — you might need to secure the opening with wooden picks — on both sides, then put the skillet in a 350-degree oven and roast for about 30 minutes. Serve with wild or brown rice and steamed broccoli.

Wed | Rotisserie chicken

Halved red grapes and chopped celery provide the sweet and the crunch in Weeknight Chicken Salad. Dress chicken, grapes and celery with mayonnaise and lemon juice and season with salt and pepper. Eat as a salad over ice-cold Romaine lettuce and lots of veggies or, for an open-face sandwich, pile it on toasted bagel, top with cheese and broil. Serve with slices of cantaloupe.

Thurs | A slice of pie

Tonight, a tube of refrigerated pizza dough is your friend and Leek and Artichoke Pizza will become your BFF. Saute well-washed sliced leeks (all of the white and a little of the green) in a olive oil and set aside. Press the dough into a pizza pan. Spread it with ¼ cup of creamy Caesar dressing that's been mixed with a few tablespoons of grated Parmesan. Top with leeks, marinated artichoke hearts (drained and coarsely chopped), chopped Roma tomatoes and about 1 ½ cups of shredded Fontina or Jack cheese. Bake for 15 to 20 minutes in a 400-degree oven.

Fri | Sandwich a la Cubano

Born in Miami or Ybor City? Who cares, as long as they're melty, tasty and tangy on the inside and crispy on the outside. To make Cuban sandwiches, you'll need sliced roast pork, salami, 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 press. Plantain chips and black beans and yellow rice on the side.

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

>>MODERATE

Baked Grits and Greens

1 cup uncooked grits

2 tablespoons unsalted butter

4 medium scallions, washed, trimmed and thinly sliced

1 (10-ounce) package frozen, chopped spinach, thawed and squeezed dry

½ cup heavy cream

1 ½ cups freshly grated extra-sharp white cheddar or Parmesan, or equal portions of both, divided use

Salt and white pepper

2 large eggs, well beaten

Position a rack in the center of the oven and preheat to 350 degrees. Cook grits in water according to package instructions and set aside.

Heat butter in medium skillet over medium heat. Add scallions and saute until wilted, about 2 minutes. Add the spinach and heat through, about 2 minutes more. Turn off heat.

In a large mixing bowl, stir together the cooked grits and cream. Mix in the greens and 1 cup of the cheese. Taste and add salt, if needed, and a few shakes of the white pepper. Thoroughly mix in the eggs. Lightly butter a 9-inch square or 10-inch round casserole and pour in the grits and greens, leveling the top with a spatula. Sprinkle with the remaining cheese, and bake in the center of the oven, until set and lightly browned, about 35 to 40 minutes.

Serves 6 to 8.

Source: Essentials of Southern Cooking by Damon Lee Fowler (Lyons Press, 2013)

Weekday dinner inspiration: Baked Grits and Greens and more 12/16/13 [Last modified: Monday, December 16, 2013 6:47pm]

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