Monday, February 27
A new week means a new menu! Here we go!
– Sausage Potato Soup
– Greek Salad with Grilled Chicken
– Eat out night
– Omelets and fruit
Thank you all in advance for sharing your own dinner plans in the comments. They are a huge inspiration week after week!
Thursday, February 23
From Jane: I am super excited today because I get to introduce you to This Week for Dinner’s first-ever regular contributor (who isn’t me!). Everyone meet Cora Wallin! Cora is my sister-in-law who has been making good food for our family since the day we all met her. She’s an excellent cook who is behind some of my favorite recipes here on the blog (I’m looking at you taco meat, sour cream banana bread and sweet potato burritos with the yummiest black beans ever). Last summer when Cora and I were hanging out at my parent’s house, she was telling me about a few of her recent favorite recipes. I was thinking about how I needed to make them and photograph them so I could share these recipes on the blog, and then I had a genius idea. Cora is both a fabulous writer AND photographer, so, um, that means she can just write these blog posts for me, right? Somehow I got her to agree and now we are all benefitting! (Okay, maybe Cora isn’t benefitting so much, but whatever. She just loves me THAT MUCH.) Cora is kicking things off with a delicious and beautiful post that explains how to do charcuterie at home. Thank you Cora!
We had an official #adulting moment last month. We were invited to dinner as a family (including husband Christian, 7-year-old Maddox, 5-year-old Sophie and 8-month-old Phoebe) by one of Maddox’s classmates. Obviously, I’m not a stellar member of the PTA (excuse me, PTO) for this to be our first family-dinner-at-a-classmate’s rodeo. It felt significant. It felt a bit nerve-racking. Would it be an evening of polite and benign conversation while the smelly seven-year-olds made fart jokes at the end of the table or would this be the beginning of family friends?
About 30 minutes before show time, I sent the husband out to buy flowers and wine. Which meant we were almost late to a dinner only two blocks away. We arrived dew-kissed (read: sweaty) and slightly winded from the horror of getting three children in and out of coats, hats and shoes. The older kids ran off to destroy our hosts’ home while Christian and I joined the grown-ups on the sofa by the fire. I plopped down onto said sofa with Phoebe clinging to me and became even “dewier” thanks to the romantic, blazing hearth. Then my eyes fell to the coffee table where there upon the altar of friendship was laid mana. Life reviving sustenance. BEHOLD, a cheese board with the all the dressings and trappings of a Pinterest fantasy. Then I knew, I really knew, we would all be fast friends.
That’s the power of the charcuterie. It brings fancy salamis and smelly cheeses together on little edible carb-loaded plates and turns everyone into heart-eyed smiling emoji faces. It’s pure magic. It’s how we can heal this world. So let’s break it down Jeopardy style…behold the keys to world peace.
Charcuterie is just a snooty french word that means a collection of cured meats. Now, I’ve unsuccessfully attempted charcuteries in the past, but what my new best friends showed me was the key to friendship and charcuterie glory is an assortment. Before I would grab 3 different kinds of meats and it always felt like a bit of a let down when I made the spread. Go for a variety, not quantity. Try rosemary ham, 3 different salamis and a pate or teewurst. Have a mix of sweet, spicy, peppery meats as well as melt-in-your-mouth prosciutto. It’s much better to do a little bit of a lot of things than a lot of just a few.
But meat alone won’t do the trick, otherwise my southern cousins’ pepperoni logs and Slim Jims would be the height of social entertaining. The lactose-y wonder of cheese is what makes all those delectable meats sing. Again, it’s all about the the different textures and flavors. Pick up a creamy brie, crumbly blue, smoky gouda and zippy manchego. Each bite should feel like a choose-your-own-adventure book for your mouth.
What are…edible plates?
Serve that wonderful meat and cheese on delicious edible plates. And don’t forget, variety, variety, variety! (Are you sick of that theme yet?) Don’t just serve water crackers. Slice up a fresh baguette. Grab some fig and olive crackers at Trader Joe’s. Toss in thin and crunchy breadsticks. The more the merrier.
What are…all the extras?
The extras are what will really set your charcuterie and cheese board apart. There are SO many amazing options but here are just a few: marinated olives (pitted always feels less awkward), nuts, caper berries, pepperoncinis, roasted peppers, juicy grapes, thin-sliced Granny Smith apples, french dijon mustard, fig preserves, quince or guava paste, fresh honey…the list is endless. A great place for ideas can be your local wine shop. Many of them have cheese departments where you can get suggestions for wonderful pairings.
Lastly, don’t forget to make it pretty. Put cheese on little squares of parchment. Add fragrant sprigs of fresh herbs. Roll soft cured meats and fan out chorizo slices. Intermix your groups of meats, cheeses, crackers and extras.
Remember this is about coming together. It’s about building bridges of hope and love. Let the cheese show you the way.
Monday, February 20
We had fun exploring Joshua Tree and Idyllwild this weekend (I love long weekends!), so I’m just now sitting down to plan the weekly menu. Here we go!
– Asian Chicken Pasta Salad
– Pesto Chicken Salad Sandwiches
– Fruit and carrots
– Rigatoni with Bolognese Sauce
– Caprese Paninis
– Eat out night
– Waffles and Smoothies
You know the drill! Please leave your own meal plans in the comments! Thank you!
I’ve tried making bolognese sauce a few times in my life and was never impressed. I blamed the bolognese. But what I should have been blaming were the recipes I was trying. Today I have a recipe that is divine and completely changes how I feel about homemade bolognese sauce. This past Christmas I found myself with a half a pound of ground veal left over from making Swedish meatballs. I searched around the web for recipes to use up the veal and happened upon this recipe for veal bolognese from Food & Wine. I didn’t follow the recipe exactly but used it as a guide and oh my GOODNESS the resulting sauce was so, so good and flavorful and wonderful and, well, I am finally impressed by homemade bolognese sauce.
I think one of the reasons the sauce was so good was because I used half veal, half regular ground beef. But I’m quite certain the sauce will still be uber delicious with straight ground beef, as the veggies and spices are what really make this sauce shine. If you want to use veal, by all means do. But ground beef alone is a-okay.
Click here for the original recipe, which also includes butternut squash, which I am sure is delicious! Below is my version of homemade bolognese sauce, with some modifications from the original recipe.
Oh, one more note! I used a rigatoni-like pasta instead of spaghetti and really liked that shape of pasta with this sauce. Use whatever pasta you like, but the rigatoni is quite delicious.Homemade Bolognese SauceAdapted from a Food & Wine recipe.Author: Jane MaynardIngredients
- 1 pound ground beef or veal (or half pound of each)
- 2 slices of bacon, minced
- 2 tablespoons olive oil
- ½ cup minced carrot
- ½ cup minced celery
- ½ cup minced onion
- 2 garlic cloves, minced or pushed through a garlic press
- Kosher salt
- ½ teaspoon ground sage
- ½ teaspoon dried parsley
- 1 bay leaf
- 2 teaspoons dried oregano
- 1 teaspoon dried basil OR 1 tablespoon fresh basil (chiffonade)
- 1 cup dry red wine
- 2 15-ounce cans petite diced tomatoes
- 1 cup chicken broth
- ¾ cup cream
- In a large cast-iron casserole (or pot), cook minced bacon in the olive oil over medium heat, for about 5 minutes until bacon is well cooked, stirring occasionally.
- Add the carrots, celery, and onion. Sprinkle evenly with a pinch of salt and cook over medium heat about 5 minutes. Add the fresh garlic and stir.
- Add the ground meat along with the sage, parsley, bay leaf and oregano. If using dried basil, add that now as well. Season evenly with a few pinches of salt. Cook until meat is cooked through and no longer pink, stirring regularly.
- Add the wine and cook until the wine has reduced significantly, about 3-5 minutes. Add UNdrained tomatoes and cook until liquid is reduced by about half, around 5 minutes.
- Add the chicken stock and bring to a simmer over medium-high heat. Reduce heat to medium-low and simmer gently for about 10 minutes.
- Remove the bay leaf. Add the cream and, if using fresh basil, the basil. Stir and add salt to taste if needed. Finish off with a few shakes of pepper.
Monday, February 13
Happy Monday! Just sitting down now to get my menu down on paper. You know, I am really happy that (so far) I’m sticking with my 2017 resolution of cooking dinner more often…it’s awesome for so many reasons. HOWEVER…I have to come up with a whole new menu each week. There is definitely more thinking involved and I’m not sure I approve. 😉
– Asian Chicken Pasta Salad
– Chicken Soup with Rice
– Homemade Hamburgers (click here for a tip)
– Carrot sticks and chips
– Loaded Nachos and Hummus Guacamole Dip
– Eat out night
– Roasted Vegetable Scrambles + Smoothies
You know the drill! If you feel so obliged, please leave your own meal plans for the week in the comments! Thank you!
Monday, February 6
Happy Monday! We got a little tied up with our Super Bowl watching and eating yesterday so I didn’t do my usual Sunday weekly menu planning. But that doesn’t mean it’s not happening…here we go!
I have a couple carry-over items from last week because things shifted, as they do…
– Bean and Cheese Burritos with Sautéed Peppers & Onions
– Breakfast for Dinner: Roasted Vegetable Scrambles + Smoothies
– Eat out night
Your turn! Share those menus!