Mon | Meatless meal
Risotto tends to get a bad rap as fussy and time-consuming. But Mushroom Risotto is actually a fairly easy meatless meal, and its earthiness is welcoming when the temperatures start to dip. First, saute a pound of sliced mushrooms, along with a diced small onion, in olive oil in a large skillet. Season with salt and pepper. When done, set aside. You'll need two saucepans. In one, bring 8 cups of veggie stock to a simmer. In the other, lightly brown 2 cups of arborio rice with 2 minced garlic cloves in olive oil. When coated with oil, start to add the hot broth, stirring until absorbed. Repeat until stock is gone. Finish risotto with cup each white wine and shredded Parmesan. Stir in sauteed mushrooms. Done.
Tues | Mix and match
Ramen and Meatballs fuses together a couple of cuisines that will likely be welcomed by the kids. Make three packets of ramen noodles (without the flavor packets) according to package instructions, then mix with thawed and heated frozen Italian meatballs, plus a 14-ounce can of seasoned diced tomatoes. Top with some shaved Parmesan, along with chopped flat-leaf parsley. Try broccoli florets sauteed in olive oil and finished with a squeeze of lemon on the side.
Wed | Rotisserie chicken
How about a dry-run Thanksgiving side dish to go with your chicken tonight? (Close enough to turkey for now.) Get a container of mashed sweet potatoes and thaw. Scoop into a bowl and add 1 teaspoon of cinnamon. Spread into a shallow casserole and top with pecans and a handful of mini marshmallows. Bake at 350 degrees for about 20 minutes.
Thurs | Take-out, done in
Why order Chinese takeout tonight when you can make your own Chicken and Broccoli Stir-Fry (recipe below) just as spicy or mild as you want it? The recipe calls for a jalapeno pepper that you can toss in or not. Don't forgo the fish sauce — buy a small bottle and plan to use it in other Asian dishes. Leave it out and you just might wonder why your stir-fry tastes a bit bland.
Fri | Go grills
Some nights, nothing will do but a piece of red meat. I like grilled New York strip steak, liberally seasoned with kosher salt and freshly ground pepper. Serve with an ice-cold iceberg wedge with blue cheese dressing and crumbles, plus sliced scallions. And red, red wine.
Janet K. Keeler can be reached at email@example.com or (727) 893-8586. Follow @roadeats on Twitter.