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STIR CRAZY

Mon - Salad days

Use store-bought sesame ginger salad dressing for easy Asian Beef Salad With Egg Rolls. Load up salad greens with shredded carrots, sliced water chestnuts, crunchy snow peas and bean sprouts. Dress with vinaigrette and layer on rolls of deli roast beef. Serve each salad with halved baked egg rolls.

Tues - Tumble of tomatoes

Provencal Tomato Casserole (recipe below) is from my favorite cookbook of 2008, The Best Casserole Cookbook Ever by Beatrice Ojakangas (Chronicle Books.) Ojakangas is from way-north Minnesota so she knows something about making a soul-warming dish. Serve with a salad for a meatless meal or as an accompaniment for roast beast.

Wed - Rotisserie chicken

Chicken Tacos With Salsa Verde start with shredded rotisserie chicken heated with a jar of green salsa. (Pace makes a tasty version.) Load the chicken into soft or hard shells and garnish with Monterey Jack cheese, avocado slices, sour cream and sliced scallions. Fresh chopped cilantro is optional. Serve with fresh fruit.

Thurs - It's a one pot night

With the end of the week in sight, you'll need something simple to get you to Friday. Kielbasa With Apples and Sauerkraut will do it. In a large skillet with a lid, melt some butter and add several links of kielbasa (the cooked kind, not raw) cut into 3-inch lengths. Brown on each side, then add apple slices and a jar of sauerkraut. Cook until the apple has softened slightly and sauerkraut is heated through. Serve with pumpernickel.

Fri - Outside in

Throw something on the grill - pork chops, steak, chicken - and serve it with a Carrot and Couscous Salad a la food writer Mark Bittman. Cook plain couscous according to package directions, then add 4 shredded carrots, the juice of 1 lemon, a few splashes of OJ, 1/4 cup of olive oil, salt, pepper and a couple of shakes of cumin. Add a handful of raisins. Fluff and serve.

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

* * *

Moderate

Provencal Tomato Casserole

Cooking spray for baking dish

6 medium tomatoes

11/2 cups fresh bread crumbs

1/4 cup freshly chopped green onions (white and green parts)

1/4 cup freshly chopped basil (or 2 tablespoons dried basil)

2 tablespoons freshly chopped parsley

2 tablespoons freshly chopped garlic

1 teaspoon freshly chopped thyme (or 1/2 teaspoon dried thyme)

1 teaspoon coarse kosher salt

2 tablespoons balsamic vinegar

1/2 cup shredded Gruyere cheese

2 to 3 tablespoons olive oil

Preheat oven to 400 degrees.

Coat bottom and sides of a shallow 3-quart casserole with cooking spray.

Cut tomatoes into 4 slices each and overlap slices in casserole to cover bottom of dish.

In a small bowl, combine bread crumbs, green onions, basil, parsley, garlic, thyme and salt and sprinkle mixture evenly over tomatoes. Drizzle with balsamic vinegar and sprinkle with cheese. Drizzle with olive oil. (At this point, casserole can be covered and held at room temperature for up to 2 hours, or refrigerated overnight. If chilled, add 10 minutes to baking time.)

Bake for 15 to 20 minutes, until bread crumbs are crisp. Remove from oven and serve warm.

Serves 6.

Source: The Best Casserole Cookbook Ever by Beatrice Ojakangas (Chronicle Books, 2008)

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