Ruby Red Grapefruit and Fennel Salad

This salad, while light and bright, and refreshing, is completely seasonal, which is a great reminder that winter eating doesn’t have to be heavy and ooey and gooey and traditional-comfort-foody. Coming off of the holidays and New Years is, for so many, an exercise in reining it in food-wise. This salad will support that effort while still satisfying you and keeping your attention. This in-season grapefruit adds flavor, punch, and color equally. And the fennel is crunch and tone. This is not your average salad, which is why it’ll help you stay on track! Here you go.

WHAT YOU NEED
* 1 large ruby red grapefruit
* 2T olive oil
* 2T apple cider vinegar
* 1t sugar
* 1 fennel bulb, sliced super thin
* 1 bunch fresh flat-leaf parsley, rough chopped
* 1/3 cup sliced pitted Sicilian (green) olives
* 1/4 small red onion, sliced super thin

WHAT TO DO
Zest the grapefruit into a small bowl. Add the olive oil, vinegar, and sugar and mix to combine. Taste and add sugar, a tiny bit at a time, if needed for balance. Set aside.

Separate the grapefruit into segments. Peel each segment and break down into small chunks and place into a large serving bowl. Add the rest of the salad ingredients, then stir in the dressing and mix carefully.

Serve and enjoy.

* Adapted from a recipe in Quick. Easy. Healthy. by Callum Hann and Themis Chryssidis.

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Perfectly Simple and Simply Perfect Italian Meatballs

My Tiny Sous Chef has been getting more involved in meal planning lately and has asked to choose one meal per week. This week she asked for “meatballs made with meat (meat = beef) and salad.” Since she asked for it in such a straightforward way, I thought we’d go basic and straightforward without frills on the meatballs.

A few years ago Food Network Magazine did a special feature on meatballs. It had all kinds of variations and how to prepare them if you want to bake them vs fry them vs broil them, etc. the basic foundations recipe for each style included in the feature have become the basics for all of my meatball creations. This recipe is adapted from the Italian meatball basic recipe in that feature. It’s simple, easy, and fool-proof perfection. It will not fail you. Here you go.

WHAT YOU NEED
makes about 24 1.5-in meatballs
* 1 1/2-1 3/4lbs lean ground beef
* 3/4C grated Parmesan cheese
* 3/8C Italian seasoned breadcrumbs
* 3/8C milk
* 3/8C fresh parsley, chopped
* 3t minced garlic
* 1 1/2t kosher salt
* 2 eggs

WHAT TO DO
Preheat the oven to 425F. Lightly spray a large baking sheet with nonstick spray.

Mix all of the ingredients in a large bowl by hand until combined. Form the mixture into balls, about 1.5-2 inches each. Place the meatballs on the prepared baking sheet and bake for 15 minutes.

Remove the pan from the oven and transfer to a large pot. Add your favorite store bought or homemade tomato sauce and simmer on low for about 10 minutes until the sauce is warmed through. Serve over pasta or rice or your favorite veggie noodles, in a sub roll, over a salad, or just as-is.

Meatless Monday: Hearty White Bean Chili

When starting off a new year with painfully cold temps, the only way to deal is to bake and cook up a big pot of something warm and hearty and cozy to fill your belly and heat your whole body from the toes up. This chili is so simple, but so layered with flavor and warmth. Four types of beans, sweet corn, spices, and a creamy surprise ingredient elevate this from a basic to a really special bowl of hearty chili perfect for welcoming in a new year (or otherwise driving out the chill). Here you go.

WHAT YOU NEED
* 1 large yellow or orange bell pepper, chopped
* 1 sweet onion, chopped
* 3t minced garlic
* 32oz vegetable broth
* 4 15.5oz cans of white beans, any type, and a combination is great. Possibilities: garbanzo, cannelini, Northern white, navy, butter, etc.
* 4oz can mild green chilis
* 1T chili powder
* 2 1/2t cumin
* 1t dried oregano
* 1t paprika
* 1/2t salt
* 1/4t ground black pepper
* 1/4t cayenne pepper (optional)
* 1C frozen sweet corn
* 3/4C tahini
* fresh chopped cilantro for garnish
* fresh lemon wedges for serving

WHAT TO DO
Heat a large pot over medium hear. Add a few tablespoons of water, and when its just shimmering, add the peppers, onion, and garlic and cook for 5 minutes, stirring occasionally, to begin softening the vegetables and release the aromatics.

Add everything else but the frozen corn and tahini, and bring the pot to a boil. Reduce the heat to low, cover, and cook for 40 minutes.

Add the frozen corn and the tahini. Raise the heat back up to medium and cook until heated through, just a few minutes.

Serve with a sprinkle of fresh chopped cilantro and a squeeze of fresh lemon juice.

Baked Risotto with Chicken and Mushrooms

You know I love a shortcut. Cooking and presenting good *and* beautiful food is important to me. But it’s rare that I have lots of time to slowly work my way through a complex recipe on a normal night. So any shortcuts that allow me to still put beautiful healthy food on my family’s plates and I are instantly best friends.

Risotto is one of those dishes that you can get really wrong if you don’t get it right. Traditional risotto requires slow cooking with constant stirring, which also therefore requires really organized prep. I’ve seen all kinds of recipes that claim to get you a thick, creamy risotto without constant stirring, and I’ve tried a few, and most of them don’t deliver. But I’ve recently seen a few baked risotto recipes that looked promising, so I decided to give it a try myself. And you know what? It delivered! Traditionalists and trained chefs will raise their eyebrows and judge, but I promise you this is legit. Give it a shot and let me know if you agree. Here you go.

WHAT YOU NEED
* 1 1/2C arborio rice
* 4C chicken broth
* 1 sweet onion, minced
* 1 pint mushrooms, quartered (I used both white button mushrooms and baby portobellas, 50/50)
* 2t minced garlic
* 1 cup hot water
* 3/4C freshly grated Parmesan cheese
* 4T butter
* 1t salt
* Freshly ground black pepper, to taste
* Zest of 1 lemon
* Precooked rotisserie chicken from the store, broken down and cut into chunks
* Large handful fresh parsley, chopped

WHAT TO DO
Preheat the oven to 350F.

To a large, oven-safe pot, add the rice, broth, onion, mushrooms, and garlic. stir to combine.

Put the pan, uncovered, into the oven. Cook for about 35 to 40 minutes. After 20 minutes, if the rice has absorbed more than half the liquid, cover the pot.

Remove the pot from the oven and then add the hot water, Parmesan cheese, and butter. Stir to combine.

Season with salt and pepper, and then add the lemon zest and the chicken. Stir in the parsley and serve immediately.