What's Cooking This Week? Sweet Potato Bisque and Dijon Pork Chops, Plus Candied Bacon

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 weekly meal plan and grocery guide. This way, I can make the most of my ingredients and my leftovers.

Last week, boneless chicken thighs made the filling for both Enchiladas with Pumpkin Sauce and a Chicken Tortilla Soup. This week, roasted sweet potatoes are served alongside Dijon Pork Chops and reused in a Sweet Potato Bisque.

Here's the rest of the plan:

  • Spaghetti Carbonara w/ Brussels Sprouts
  • Pork Chops & Roasted Sweet Potatoes w/ Dijon Pan Sauce
  • Fried Shrimp w/ Apple & Sprouts Salad
  • Sweet Potato Bisque w/ Spicy Shrimp & Candied Bacon
  • Dijon Pork Chops w/ Sweet Potato Mash

    Pantry Items

  • Oil (olive, extra virgin, canola, peanut)
  • Cider vinegar
  • Cooking spray
  • Butter
  • Eggs
  • Light cream
  • Dijon mustard
  • Flour
  • Panko breadcrumbs
  • Brown sugar
  • Parmesan cheese
  • Chicken stock
  • Honey
  • Nutmeg
  • Bay leaves
  • Cayenne pepper
  • Kosher salt
  • Pepper

    Grocery List based on servings for 2 w/ leftovers

  • 2 1-inch thick boneless pork chops
  • 1 package center-cut bacon
  • 12-14 large shrimp (frozen), peeled and de-veined
  • 3 oz extra-sharp cheddar cheese
  • 2 oz pecorino cheese
  • 2 green apples
  • 3 large sweet potatoes
  • 1 shallot
  • 1 head garlic
  • 1 small yellow onion
  • 8 oz Brussels sprouts
  • 1 loaf ciabatta or sourdough bread
  • 1 package whole grain spaghetti
  • Apple juice or apple cider

    Day 1 - Spaghetti Carbonara w/ Brussels Sprouts

    Cook 2 servings of spaghetti in a pot of boiling salted water to al dente. Drain, and reserve some of the cooking liquid.

    Meanwhile, heat a large deep skillet over medium-high heat. Coat with cooking spray and cook two slices of chopped bacon until crisp. Remove from pan and set aside. Cut a handful of Brussels sprouts in quarters and add to same pan. Cook, turning, until browned and caramelized on all sides. During the final minute or so, mix in 1-2 cloves minced garlic. Season lightly with salt and freshly ground black pepper. Return bacon to the skillet.

    In a small bowl, whisk together 2 eggs, 2 tbsp Parmesan cheese, 1 oz grated pecorino cheese, and freshly ground black pepper.

    Add cooked pasta to the skillet and remove from heat. Pour in egg mixture and use tongs to toss (you do not want the eggs to cook; they should instead make a thick, creamy sauce that coats the pasta). If mixture is too thick, add a bit of the reserved pasta water.

    Top with freshly ground black pepper and more cheese, as desired.

    Day 2 - Pork Chops & Roasted Sweet Potatoes w/ Dijon Pan Sauce *Makes leftover Roasted Sweet Potatoes

    Preheat oven to 450 degrees.

    Peel sweet potatoes and cut in half lengthwise. Chop into 2-inch pieces. Toss with olive oil and season with salt and freshly ground black pepper. Add to baking sheet and cook, turning once, until potatoes are golden brown and tender, about 15-20 minutes. *Reserve 1/2 for use in day 4.

    Meanwhile, season pork chops with salt and freshly ground black pepper. Dust lightly with flour.

    Melt 1/2 tbsp butter and a bit of olive oil in a large cast iron skillet. Add chops and cook until golden brown and barely pink in the center, about 5-6 minutes per side. Remove from pan and set aside.

    Drain some of the excess grease from the skillet, leaving the brown bits -- they are full of flavor. Add 1/2 cup apple cider, scrape up the bits, and bring mixture to a simmer over medium-low heat. Once reduced by half, whisk in 1/2 tbsp Dijon mustard. Cook for 1-2 minutes to reduce. Whisk in 1/2 tbsp butter and salt and pepper to finish.

    Spoon sauce over pork chops and serve with a side of roasted sweet potatoes.

    Day 3 - Fried Shrimp w/ Apple & Sprouts Salad

    Defrost shrimp.

    In a small bowl, whisk together 1 tbsp cider vinegar, 1 tbsp honey, and 1 minced shallot. Slowly mix in 2 tbsp olive oil and season with salt and pepper to taste.

    Peel apple and cut into long, thin matchsticks. Slice Brussels sprouts in half, then cut halves in thin slices. Add to a large bowl and mix with cider vinaigrette. Top with freshly grated pecorino cheese and season with salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste. Toss to mix. Taste and season as needed.

    Meanwhile, heat about 1/2 inch of vegetable or peanut oil in a large, heavy-bottomed skillet set over medium-high heat.

    Season 8-10 shrimp with salt and set up a breading station with flour, a beaten egg, and panko breadcrumbs. Dredge shrimp in flour, then transfer to the egg mixture and turn to coat in egg. Finally, add to panko breadcrumbs, pressing to coat. Add shrimp in a single layer and cook, turning once, until golden brown and crisp on both sides, about 1-2 minutes per side. Drain on paper towels.

    Serve cooked shrimp over Brussels sprouts salad.

    Day 4 - Sweet Potato Bisque w/ Spicy Shrimp & Candied Bacon *Uses leftover Roasted Sweet Potatoes

    Heat a large, heavy-bottomed pot to medium-heat; drizzle lightly with olive oil. Add in 1 chopped yellow onion and cook until softened, about 5-10 minutes. Stir in 1-2 cloves minced garlic and 1 tbsp flour. Cook for another minute before adding in leftover sweet potatoes and enough chicken stock to cover, about 2 cups, plus more water if needed. Season with a pinch of cayenne, a pinch of nutmeg, 1 bay leaf, and salt and pepper to taste. Reduce heat to low and cook until warmed through, about 10-15 minutes. Remove bay leaf and transfer mixture to a blender (or use an immersion blender). Blend until mixture is smooth and creamy.

    Return to pot to keep warm while preparing toppings.

    For the bacon, sprinkle 1-2 strips with brown sugar (light or dark, whatever you have on hand) and pan-fry or bake until crisp. Chop into bite-sized chunks.

    For the crostini, slice a few pieces of ciabatta. Drizzle lightly with oil and toast until crisp. Rub with a clove of garlic.

    For the shrimp, defrost 2-3 shrimp per person and pat dry. Heat a grill pan to medium-high and coat with cooking spray. Drizzle shrimp with olive oil (or a little of the leftover bacon grease) and season with salt, freshly ground black pepper, and cayenne. Cook, turning once, until charred and just pink, about 1-2 minutes per side.

    Ladle soup into bowls, drizzle with cream, and serve topped with shrimp, crumbled bacon, and garlic crostini.

    Day 5 - Apple, Bacon, & Cheddar Panini

    Cook 4 slices of bacon until crisp. Thinly slice 1 apple and cut cheddar cheese into strips.

    In a small bowl, mix together equal parts Dijon mustard and honey. Season with salt and pepper.

    Slice 4 thick slices of bread from loaf. Spread two slices with mustard mixture and layer on bacon, apple slices, and cheddar cheese. Top with remaining slices of bread to form two sandwiches. Lightly spread the tops with butter and add, buttered side down, to a preheated grill pan or panini press. Grill, pressing down, until golden brown and crisp on both sides. Spread the tops with butter before flipping.

    Slice and serve hot.

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