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Quick Meals For Busy Spring Days

Although we don't need a calendar to tell us so, spring is almost here. Daylight Savings Time, in fact, begins on Sunday. Those who haven't been working in their yards or gardens yet soon will be.

Gardening or yard work is a good way to work up an appetite. Unfortunately, spring activities don't leave much time for cooking.

Today's recipes, ready in 30 minutes or less, help transition into spring: Nacho Casserole, Saucy Honey-Dijon Chicken, Chutney Chicken Nectarine, Black Bean-Sweet Potato Chili, Company Shrimp with Tricolor Peppers.

NACHO CASSEROLE

1 can Cheddar cheese soup, 1/2 c. low fat milk, 16-oz. jar salsa (hot or mild), 7 oz. baked tortilla chips, 16-oz. fat free refried beans, 1 c. Cheddar cheese, 1 or 2 jalapenos, sliced thin

Preheat oven to 400 degrees. In 13 x 9-in. ceramic baking dish stir undiluted soup with milk; spread evenly. Top with half of salsa and half of chips. Top with remaining chips and salsa. Sprinkle with chilies and Cheddar. Bake 20 minutes or until hot. Serves 6.

SAUCY HONEY-DIJON CHICKEN

1 T. olive oil, 1 T. flour, 1/4 tsp. black pepper, 1 lb. chicken breast, cubed, 1 med. onion, chopped, 1/4 c. honey Dijon mustard, 14-oz. chicken broth

In 12-in. skillet heat oil over medium high heat. In medium bowl combine flour and pepper; add chicken and toss to coat. Place chicken in skillet and cook 4 to 6 minutes or until it just loses its pink color throughout, stirring frequently. Transfer chicken to plate. Reduce heat to medium. Add onion to skillet and cook 3 to 4 minutes or until browned. Transfer to plate with chicken. Increase heat to high. Add broth to skillet; cook 6 to 8 minutes or until sauce thickens slightly. With whisk stir in mustard. Return chicken and onion to skillet; heat through. Serves 4.

CHUTNEY CHICKEN NECTARINE

1 lemon, 1 lb. boneless, skinless, 1/4 c. mango chutney, chicken breast halves, 1 tsp. Dijon mustard, 1/4 tsp. salt, 1/4 tsp. crushed red pepper, 5 oz. baby spinach, 3 nectarines, sliced thin, 3 radishes, sliced thin, 1/2 tsp. curry powder

From lemon squeeze 2 T. juice. Place lemon halves in 10-in. skillet with 1 inch of water; cover and heat to boiling over high heat. Add chicken and cook 10 minutes or until it just loses its pink color throughout. Drain; cool slightly. Meanwhile, in blender, puree lemon juice, chutney, mustard, curry, salt, crushed red pepper, and 2 T. warm water. Slice chicken lengthwise into thin strips. Divide spinach among 4 dinner plates; top with nectarines and radish slices, then chicken. Drizzle with chutney dressing. Serves 4.

BLACK BEAN-SWEET POTATO CHILI

1 T. olive oil, 1 med onion, chopped, 2 garlic cloves, chopped, 2 med. sweet potatoes, peeled and diced, 1 T. chili powder, 16-oz. mild salsa, 2 16-oz. cans black beans, 1/2 c. low fat sour cream, 1/4 c. fresh cilantro, chopped

Cook rice as label directs. In nonstick 12-in. skillet heat oil over medium heat until hot. Add onion, celery, and garlic and cook 7 to 8 minutes or until vegetables are tender and lightly browned, stirring occasionally. Stir in beans with their liquid, ham, thyme, and pepper; heat to boiling over medium high heat. Reduce heat to low; simmer 10 minutes or until mixture thickens slightly. To serve, spoon rice into deep platter; top with bean mixture. Serves 4.

COMPANY SHRIMP WITH TRICOLOR PEPPERS

16 oz. penne pasta, 3 T. olive oil, 4 (total) red, yellow, orange peppers, sliced thin, 12 oz. cooked shrimp, 2 garlic cloves, sliced thin, 1/2 tsp. salt, 1/4 tsp. pepper, 1/2 c. fresh basil, sliced, 1/2 c. grated Parmesan, 1/4 c. heavy cream

Heat large covered saucepot of salted water to boiling. Add pasta and cook as label directs. In 12-in. skillet heat oil. Add peppers and cook, covered, about 10 minutes until very soft and lightly browned, stirring occasionally. Stir in shrimp, garlic, salt, and black pepper; cook 1 minute. Drain pasta, reserving 1/4 c. cooking water. In large serving bowl, toss pasta with pepper mixture and reserved cooking water and heavy cream; top with basil and Parmesan. Toss to serve. Serves 6.