Weekly Menu – 12/29/09

Since I posted earlier today about weekly menus, here’s the weekly menu that I drew up for this week:

Monday – Red Beans & Rice
Served with fresh French bread.

We had ham for Christmas and pretty much if we have a ham, that means Sean requests red beans and rice for the following week. This time, we tried Cooks Illustrated’s recipe (Jan/Feb 2010 issue). Since this is a staple Cajun dish, I have my family recipe, but I’m always willing to check a different version out.

Tuesday – Chicken Dinner Salad
Sean and I are big salad fans. This is pretty much a staple in our menu. Almost every week, we have some sort of dinner salad. We usually choose between chicken breast, salmon, shrimp, tuna or flank steak for the protein and then toss in whatever veggies we feel like. Add salad dressing and you have dinner in usually under 15 minutes (the meat does have to cook, unless you pick up a roasted chicken from the store on your way home).

Wednesday – Paninis
Yet another staple in our weekly menu (sorry, my creativity was gone when coming up with my menu this week). The best part about this meal is that you don’t need a panini press to make paninis. All you need is two cast iron pans and you’re good (if one of them is a cast iron griddle, you can even get the grill lines on your sandwich).

For bread, we usually use the artisan sourdough bread from the grocery. Mainly, though, you’re just looking for a firm, large piece of bread. We usually stick with a couple types of meat, one type of cheese and then a couple of veggie fillings to round out the flavor. For meats, we go with ham, salami, prosciutto or any other Italian meat that we’re fancying when we get to the deli. For cheese, we normally go with provolone because it melts really nicely but has a small bite to it. For veggie fillings, we’ll use anything from olive salad to roasted red peppers or artichoke hearts.

Preheat one of the cast iron pans (this should be the griddle if you have one) over medium heat. It shouldn’t be smoking, but it should be pretty warm. Take two slices of bread, brush one side of each slice with a little bit of olive oil. Place one of these slices on the cast iron, olive oil side down. Put whatever fillings you want in your sandwich onto the bread. I would recommend starting and ending with cheese, as this will hold the sandwich together really well. Place the second slice of bread on the sandwich, olive oil side up and put the second cast iron on top, weighing the sandwich down. Flip the sandwich when the first side is golden brown. Take off the pan once both sides are nice and golden brown. Let sit for a minute and then slice in half. Serve with a small side salad or just chips for something quick.

Thursday – New Year’s Eve Dinner!
Three-Ingredient Prime Rib Roast (Food & Wine, December 2009)
Butternut Squash Gratin – This is a recipe from Sean’s aunt Patty that is great as a side or works well as a main dish (which is great since two of the people we’re having over for dinner are vegetarians)
Green Beans – nice and simple saute with garlic
Roasted Parsnips – olive oil, salt and pepper and roast them in the oven with the rib roast (also works well to do this with potatoes)

Dessert: Hot Chocolate & Fresh Chocolate Chip Cookies
To keep the dessert easy, I’ll make up the cookies the day before and then prep the hot chocolate so that all I have to do is combine the dry ingredients with the milk.

Friday – Black-eyed Pea Stew with Sausage (Food & Wine, January 2010)
I’ll serve this up with another small side salad to keep it nice and simple for a good start to the new year.

Saturday – Leftovers
Whenever I do stews and soups during the week, we usually have lots of leftovers at the end of the week (even with us taking in leftovers for lunch). This means that I’ve got time to do chores on this day and still provide a good dinner at night.

Sunday – Cacio e Pepe (Cooks Illustrated, Jan/Feb 2010)
This is way simpler than it sounds. It’s essentially pasta with cheese and pepper. Should be a nice meal to start off the next week with and provide some tasty leftovers for lunch.

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