What's Cooking This Week? French Onion Soup, Roast Beef Sandwiches and Stuffed Shells

Think this French onion soup looks good? Just wait 'until you see what we do with the leftovers.
Think this French onion soup looks good? Just wait 'until you see what we do with the leftovers.
Photo by Mr. T in DC

I love cooking for my fiancé and planning meals for us, but cooking for two often proves to be difficult. If I don't make a plan, I end up running around in circles at the grocery store and wasting half the ingredients I've bought (and I hate wasting food). Enter What's Cooking This Week - my meal plan and grocery guide. This way, I can make the most of my ingredients and my leftovers.

Last week, roasted sweet potatoes were served alongside Dijon Pork Chops and reused in a Sweet Potato Bisque. This week, a mixture of cream cheese and spinach gets stuffed into both Baked Shells and a Crispy Chicken Roulade.

Here's the rest of the plan:

  • Grilled Chicken Parm Subs
  • Spinach & Cream Cheese Stuffed Shells
  • French Onion Soup
  • Panko-Crusted Chicken Roulade
  • Weeknight French Dips

    Pantry Items

  • Oil (olive, extra virgin, canola, peanut)
  • Balsamic vinegar
  • Cooking spray
  • Butter
  • Flour
  • Sugar
  • Eggs
  • Cream cheese
  • Panko breadcrumbs
  • Parmesan cheese
  • Beef stock
  • Bay leaves
  • Crushed red pepper
  • Oregano
  • Paprika
  • Kosher salt
  • Pepper
  • Dry sherry (or dry red or white wine)

    Grocery List based on servings for 2 with leftovers

  • 3 large boneless skinless chicken breasts
  • 1/2 lb good-quality deli roast beef
  • 1/4 lb provolone
  • 2 large onions
  • 1 head garlic
  • 1 lemon
  • 1 tomato
  • 1 shallot
  • 1 package baby spinach leaves
  • 1 package mixed leafy greens
  • 1 package croutons
  • 15 oz can crushed tomatoes
  • 1 package large shells
  • 4 good-quality hero rolls  
    A dip in onion soup makes these roast beef sandwiches extra messy.
    A dip in onion soup makes these roast beef sandwiches extra messy.
    Photo by stu_spivack

    Day 1 - Grilled Chicken Parm Subs *Makes leftover Tomato Sauce for Stuffed Shells

    Make a quick marinara sauce by heating a saucepan over medium-high heat and coating lightly with olive oil. Add 1/2 chopped yellow onion and cook until softened. Add 2-3 cloves minced garlic and cook for another minute. Stir in crushed tomatoes and a pinch of sugar and oregano. Season with salt and crushed red pepper to taste and simmer for 15 minutes. *Reserve half for use in day 2.

    Meanwhile, slice 1 chicken breast in half widthwise. Season with salt, pepper, and oregano on both sides. Drizzle with oil and cook on a pre-heated grill pan or skillet coated with cooking spray. Cook, turning once, until golden-brown and cooked through.

    Slice open two rolls and add chicken. Brush each with a bit of marinara, a sprinkle of parmesan, and a slice of provolone. Broil until cheese is bubbling.

    Meanwhile, toss 1/2 package of mixed greens and 1 wedged tomato with minced shallot, balsamic vinegar, extra virgin olive oil, salt and pepper.

    Top with more tomato sauce and serve with side salad.

    Day 2 - Spinach & Cream Cheese Stuffed Shells *Uses leftover Tomato Sauce and makes leftover Cream Cheese Stuffing for Chicken Roulade

    Preheat oven to 375 degrees.

    Heat a skillet over medium-high heat and coat lightly with oil. Toss in baby spinach leaves and 2-3 cloves minced garlic and cook until spinach is wilted. Season with a salt, paprika, and freshly ground black pepper. Set aside. Once cooled, squeeze out excess moisture using a kitchen towel or mesh strainer.

    In a small bowl, mix together 2/3 cup cream cheese, 1 clove minced garlic, drained spinach, and 1 tbsp parmesan cheese. *Reserve half for use in day 4.

    Let cool, then mix the remaining half with 1 egg.

    Meanwhile, cook two servings of pasta shells in boiling, salted water until al dente. Stuff the shells with the cream cheese mixture and place in a small baking dish covered in tomato sauce (reserve some sauce for serving). Drizzle lightly with oil and sprinkle with Parmesan. Bake until bubbling, about 35-45 minutes.

    Serve topped with marinara.

    Day 3 - French Onion Soup *Makes leftover Onion Sauce for French Dips

    Melt 1 tbsp butter and a drizzle of olive oil in a deep pot over medium-high heat. Add 1½ thinly sliced yellow onions. Season with salt, pepper and a teaspoon of fresh thyme. Reduce heat to low and cook, stirring, until onions have softened and begin to caramelize, about 15-20 minutes. Add in 1 bay leaf and sprinkle onions with about 1-2 tbsp flour. Cook, stirring, for another minute. Add in 1/2 cup dry sherry or wine and scrape any bits from the bottom of the pan. Once reduced by half, add 4 cups of beef stock and bring mixture to a gentle bubble. Reduce heat to low and simmer until ready to serve. Taste and season as needed. *Reserve 1 cup for use in day 5.

    Ladle soup into crocks or oven-safe soup bowls and stuff a handful of croutons into each. Top with a sliced provolone and place on a baking sheet. Sprinkle with fresh thyme and broil until cheese is golden brown and bubbling.

    Serve hot and sprinkle with freshly ground black pepper.

    Day 4 - Panko-Crusted Chicken Roulade *Uses leftover Cream Cheese Stuffing

    Butterfly two chicken breasts and place them between two layers of plastic wrap. Use a mallet or the back of a pan to pound to even thickness (about 1/4-inch).

    Divide the leftover cream cheese mixture between the two breasts, making a log of stuffing across the widest part of each breast. Fold the ends over and roll up tightly, using toothpicks to secure.

    Set up a breading station with flour, beaten egg, and seasoned panko breadcrumbs. Lightly dust each chicken roll with flour, then dip in egg and finish by coating in breadcrumbs.

    Heat an oven-safe skillet over medium-high heat and add about 2 tbsp olive oil. Add chicken and sear until golden brown and crisp on all sides, about 3-4 minutes per side. Transfer skillet to oven and bake until juices run clear, about 10 minutes.

    Remove toothpicks and slice each roll into about 4 or 5 pieces. Serve over a bed of mixed greens tossed with lemon juice, olive oil, salt and pepper.

    Day 5 - Weeknight French Dips *Uses leftover Onion Sauce

    In a small pot, bring leftover soup mixture to a boil, then reduce heat to low and allow to thicken. Dip roast beef slices into pot and pile onto split sandwich rolls. Top with a slice of provolone cheese and broil until cheese is golden and bubbling.

    Ladle the thickened broth into small bowls.

    Slice sandwiches and serve with bowls of dipping sauce.

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