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  1. Cooking

Weekday dinner inspiration: Vegan Red Bean Gumbo and more

Mon | Meatless meal

Vegan Red Bean Gumbo (recipe below) calls for a bit of file powder, which is dried and ground sassafras leaves. File powder is a thickening agent and you can substitute a teaspoon of cornstarch. Make a slurry by mixing it with some of the hot liquid and then pouring back into the soup.

Tues | A sophisticated sandwich

There are many variations on the grilled cheese sandwich theme but tonight try Sauteed Wild Mushroom and Gruyere Melts. Saute sliced wild mushrooms with minced shallots in an olive oil and butter mixture. Go easy on both so the sandwich doesn't get greasy. You can use whatever thick slices of bread that suit you, but I like hearty rye. Butter bread, and top with mushroom mixture and cheese, then make like you would a standard grilled cheese. Serve with a green salad spiked with diced Granny Smith apples and walnuts, dressed with a mustard vinaigrette.

Wed | Rotisserie chicken

Easy Sweet Potato Casserole is made by doctoring store-bought mashed sweet potatoes and mixing in a diced fresh pear. Spread the mixture in a shallow baking dish, dot with butter and sprinkle pecans and cinnamon on top. Bake at 350 degrees for about 20 minutes. Serve with carved roasted chicken and steamed broccoli.

Thurs | Dinner, simplified

Broiled Salmon With Asian Vegetables may sound complicated but it's a quick and easy weeknight meal. Season 1-inch-thick fillets with salt and pepper and broil for about 5 minutes. Stir-fry a frozen bag of Asian veggies with soy sauce and a bit of honey, plus some minced garlic.

Fri | Beer and subs

Crack open a favorite brew, it's Friday after all, and make a batch of Meatball Subs. Heat frozen meatballs, layer in toasted rolls and top with red sauce and a slice of provolone. Broil until cheese is bubbly. Serve with a green salad loaded with veggies.

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

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