What's Cooking This Week?

Last week's date night went well and I think I've eaten enough quiche to feed an entire bridal shower. On to the next week. Although it's still 90-something degrees, I want to believe it's cooler - so next week's menu plan is gearing me up for fall. Stuffed roast chicken and a delicious Bolognese await.

On the menu:

  • Spaghetti Bolognese
  • Stuffed Chicken Breast w/ Roast Vegetables
  • French Bread Pizza
  • Chicken Caesar Salad w/ Homemade Croutons
  • Caesar Salmon with Mixed Greens

    Pantry Items

    • Cooking oil (I prefer regular olive oil)
    • Cooking spray
    • Extra virgin olive oil
    • Butter
    • Dijon mustard
    • Mayonnaise
    • Beef stock
    • Chicken stock
    • Worcestershire sauce
    • Kosher salt
    • Pepper
    • Crushed red pepper
    • Bay leaves
    • Oregano
    • Dried basil
    • White cooking wine

    Grocery List - Amounts based on servings for 2 people

    • 3 chicken breasts, bone-in skin on
    • 1 lb ground sirloin
    • 1 loaf French bread
    • Parmigiano-Reggiano
    • 8oz fresh mozzerella
    • 1 package herbed cream cheese or boursin.
    • 1 head Romaine lettuce
    • 1 package mixed greens
    • 1 plum tomato
    • 2-3 heads garlic
    • 2 carrots
    • 3 ribs celery
    • 3 large yellow onions
    • 2 lemons
    • 1 large or 2 small russet potatoes
    • 1 bunch fresh thyme
    • 1 bunch parsley
    • 1 package whole grain spaghetti
    • 1 tube anchovy paste (optional for Caesar dressing)
    • 1 can tomato paste (6 oz)
    • 1 bottle good red wine

    Day 1 - Spaghetti Bolognese

    This recipe tastes better the longer it cooks, so it's best prepared on a weekend and frozen or on a day you plan on spending in. If you don't have the time, try this weeknight Bolognese instead.

    Heat a large pan over medium heat and coat with olive oil.

    Roughly chop 1 medium onion, 2 carrots, and 3 ribs of celery. Puree onion, carrots, celery, and with garlic (as much as you like - I like a LOT) in a food processor. Add to pan and add salt and crushed red pepper for heat. Bring to medium high heat and allow mixture to brown, about 15-20 minutes. Add the ground beef, season generously with salt and allow to brown another 15-20 minutes. Add 6 oz canned tomato paste and incorporate into mixture, cook another 5 before adding 1 cup red wine. Scrape the bottom of the pan and allow wine to reduce by half. Pour water into pan to cover meat mixture. Add 2-3 bay leaves and thyme bundle. Bring to a boil then reduce hit to low. Allow to simmer and add more water as needed to make the sauce.

    Allow to simmer for a few hours; the longer it sits, the more flavor that develops. (I usually make this on a Sunday, start it in the morning and let it simmer on low throughout the day. That way I can freeze it for use during the busy work week).

    Once the flavor has fully developed, reserve some sauce on the side.

    Cook pasta to al dente and toss with parmagiana cheese and sauce remaining in the pan. Add starchy cooking water to the pasta if needed.

    Top with extra cheese and serve with your favorite glass of rich red wine.

    Day 2 - Stuffed Chicken Breast with Roast Vegetables

    Preheat oven to 375 degrees.

    Heat a cast iron skillet or oven safe pan over medium high heat and coat with olive oil.

    Pat chicken breasts dry and season with salt and pepper on both sides. Put one breast aside and for two of the pieces, create a pocket in the skin and stuff with herbed cream cheese, securing skin with toothpicks if needed. Add all pieces to pan skin side down and cook until skin is browned and crisp, about 10 minutes. Add sliced onions, carrots, and chunks of potato to pan, mixing to cook on all sides. Turn chicken over and brown other side, about 8-10 minutes. Add a splash or two of white cooking wine and ¼ cup chicken broth.

    Place entire skillet in oven and cook until chicken is cooked through, 20-25 minutes depending on size of breast.

    Remove chicken and vegetables from pan and discard excess oil. Add 2 tbsp white cooking wine and scrape bits off bottom of skillet. Whisk in 1 tbsp butter and a few squeezes of fresh lemon juice.

    Save 1 piece of chicken for use later in the week. Serve remaining 2 pieces of chicken topped with pan sauce along side roasted vegetables and mixed greens tossed with plum tomatoes, olive oil, balsamic vinegar, salt, and pepper.

    Day 3 - French Bread Pizza

    Preheat oven to 400 degrees.

    Slice French bread in half lengthwise and spread on leftover Bolognese. Top with sliced fresh mozzarella and bake until bread is golden brown and cheese is crisp and bubbly. Top with a chiffonade of basil and freshly grated parmagianna-reggiano.

    Save leftover bread for homemade croutons.

    Day 4 - Chicken Caesar Salad with Homemade Croutons

    Preheat oven to 400 degrees.

    Cut leftover French bread into 1 inch cubes and toss with olive oil, salt, black pepper, and crushed red pepper.

    Spread onto baking sheet and bake for 15 minutes until golden brown.

    Meanwhile, in a food processor, add ½ cup grated parm, juice of 1 lemon, 1 tsp lemon zest, 1 small garlic clove, 2 tsp Worcestershire sauce, 4 tbsp mayonnaise, 2 tbsp anchovy paste (optional) and freshly ground black pepper and mix until blended. Add 3-4 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil and blend until desired smooth and creamy. Save ½ dressing for use later in the week.

    Shred chicken from roast chicken breast cooked earlier in the week. Serve over chopped romaine topped mixed with creamy Caesar dressing and homemade croutons. Top with thin shavings of Parmigiano-Reggiano

    Day 5 - Caesar Salmon with Mixed Greens

    Use leftover croutons and Caesar dressing to make Caesar Salmon.

    Meanwhile, in a large bowl, whisk together the juice of 1 lemon, ¼ cup good extra virgin olive oil, and salt & pepper to taste. Toss in mixed greens and serve with prepared salmon.

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