Chicken & Wild Rice Soup

I don’t make soup often enough and this was one I made in stages. It was really good practice to cook in shifts of however long the little one was napping. I baked the chicken when I had the oven on for dinner one night and I made the rice the next morning when I had a few minutes. This soup was so easy and one I’ll definitely make again.

The Three Bite Rule - Chicken & Wild Rice Soup

Ingredients: (makes ~4 servings)

4 chicken thighs
wild rice
1 1/2 cups chicken broth
1/2 cup water
5 carrots (approx. 2 cups)
1/2 cup milk or cream (I used 1% milk)
1/2 tsp dried thyme

Directions:

Bake chicken until cooked through. (I used a few boneless, skinless thighs and a few drumsticks and then made some broth from the drumstick bones). Cut the chicken into spoon-sized chunks. Prepare rice according to the package directions. (I used Near East Long Grain & Wild Rice Mix which definitely added to the soup flavor).
In a large pot, add the chicken, rice, and broth over low heat.
The Three Bite Rule - Chicken & Wild Rice Soup
Cut up the carrots into coins (steam/boil/cook first if eating the soup upon completion, or let raw carrot pieces cook in the soup if you’ll let it simmer longer).
Add the carrots, thyme, & water to the pot.
The Three Bite Rule - Chicken & Wild Rice Soup
Cook for 20 minutes then add the milk/cream. (Cook longer if the carrots are raw).
The Three Bite Rule - Chicken & Wild Rice Soup
Taste and season with salt & pepper as needed. I didn’t add any salt because the rice mix had a flavor packet that seemed like plenty.

I loved this. I went heavy on the carrots but you could add celery, onions, or whatever veggies you have. The thyme is what makes me think warm, comfort food like stuffing or pot pie.

Add more water when warming any leftovers.
The Three Bite Rule - Chicken & Wild Rice Soup

February 2015 Roundup

Bring on March. I’m ready. I love my birthday month…hint hint! I’m feeling a bit more settled with the baby and being on maternity leave. I also am ready for the news to no-longer drone on and on about the snowiest February ever. Yes, we can see that, moving on.

February flew by, despite the fact that I didn’t leave the house much. Baby T hadn’t had his 1-month shots (not to mention leaving the premises with a newborn is a production) so I didn’t go many places. It is a good time of year to be home-bound and snuggly. I spent much of February in yoga pants or pjs to breastfeed, nap, or figure out mommy-hood. There were good days, and some of the toughest I’ve had in awhile. What a mix!

Here’s what you may have missed during the food of February:
I highly recommend this quick and easy breakfast bake that is pretty much a savory bread pudding or savory french toast. Do it. Customize it. You’ll love it. This was something I prepped for the freezer and was really happy with it. It puffed up for a fluffy breakfast-for-dinner meal straight from the freezer.
The Three Bite Rule - Breakfast Bake with Ham, Eggs, and Cheese
For the superbowl, I jazzed up some potato skins. They were good, though I could have done a better job making it more evenly seasoned.

I’m so happy how this pulled pork eggs benedict came out. I looove leftovers getting to shine in other ways. This pulled pork has 9 lives. I didn’t see any out so I stalked a guy in the meat area and he got one for me. It was huge, and being priced by the pound meant it cost a small fortune. Even with my cheap-skate tendencies I didn’t mind at all since I knew it’d freeze well and I’d be using it a few ways. Wait till I get the next batch out of the freezer!
The Three Bite Rule - Pulled Pork Eggs Benedict
Hands down, the best dish of February was this salmon with creamy dill dressing. I went from being happy with the most decadent breakfast in the world, to posting a salad topped with fish! It also knocked off 2 of my monthly goals (more seafood & making salad dressing). Yes!!
The Three Bite Rule - Salmon with Creamy Dill & Cucumber Dressing

Progress on this year’s goals: 
The Year of the Earring: you betcha. Here’s this month’s selection 
make more salad dressings:
YES! I did it! I made a Creamy Dill & Cucumber dressing for my salad with salmon.
factor more time into how long every-day tasks/trips will take: I didn’t quite succeed in this when heading out with the babe. I’ll keep it in mind though.
recreate restaurant menu items: ehh. nope. Not this month. Maybe by not going to restaurants I’ll have to recreate what they’re offering.
be more adventurous with my reading selections: I gave up on “All the Light We Cannot See”. I found it depressing and I was battling postpartum hormones so I switched to It Was Me All Along by Andie Mitchell of the blog Can You Stay For Dinner. I loved it, though the beginning was bumming me out a bit. She is enchanting and has a tremendous and moving story to tell of her life-long relationship with food. I highly recommend. Now I’m onto some next options. I borrowed a few from the library for my kindle and will see what I get into. 
use the crockpot more: I made one I really liked! I didn’t blog it since there aren’t many steps/techniques/tips for crockpot food, plus, I didn’t tweak the recipe at all. It was chicken cordon bleu topped with stuffing. It was good, and made for a million servings Mr. J took to work and I ate between feedings for the little one. I cut the chicken into chunks and used some diced spiral ham I had in the freezer from Christmas. 
#seafoodsunday once a month: So it wasn’t a Sunday, but make this salmon asap. You can thank me later. Plus, the seasoned butter was fun to squish.

Salmon with Creamy Dill & Cucumber Dressing

I’m sooo psyched to share this one! I was excited to make it, even more thrilled when I ate it, and just couldn’t wait to share it with you! I came upon the salmon, courtesy of my parents buying a big piece and giving me some. They deserve all the credit for making this month’s fish adventure happen, and making my own salad dressing made this a double whammy. Spell-check deserves the credit to helping me correctly spell whammy.

The Three Bite Rule - Salmon with Creamy Dill & Cucumber Dressing
Mr. J doesn’t do fish so this was lunch for one and was quick & easy to make a single serving. There. Nothing stopping you. A reminder we can all use. In the time it took for the fish to cook, I mixed the dressing & prepped the salad.

Ingredients:

1 piece of salmon
2 tbs butter
1 tsp fresh or dried herbs or spice blend
3 tbs sour cream
3 tbs mayo
1 tbs garlic, minced
1 tbs cider vinegar
1 tsp dill
1/4 cup English cucumber
leafy greens & tomatoes for salad

Directions:

Preheat the oven to 400-degrees.
Cut butter into pieces onto a piece of plastic wrap. Top with herb mix, salt, & pepper.
The Three Bite Rule - Salmon with Creamy Dill & Cucumber Dressing
Twist up the plastic wrap and mash the butter together to incorporate the spices.
Put the salmon onto a piece of foil and dot with the herbed butter. Fold up the foil to form a packet.
The Three Bite Rule - Salmon with Creamy Dill & Cucumber Dressing
Bake for 20 minutes until cooked through.
The Three Bite Rule - Salmon with Creamy Dill & Cucumber Dressing
While salmon is cooking, add the sour cream, mayo, cider vinegar, garlic, dill, salt, and pepper. Mix well and refrigerate until serving.
The Three Bite Rule - Salmon with Creamy Dill & Cucumber Dressing
Chop & plate salad ingredients. Optional: toss lightly with oil/vinegar. Place the salmon on top.
Add chopped cucumber to the dressing just before serving.
The Three Bite Rule - Salmon with Creamy Dill & Cucumber Dressing
Spoon some dressing over the plate & enjoy!
The Three Bite Rule - Salmon with Creamy Dill & Cucumber Dressing
Ohh wow. So good. I loooved the herb & buttered salmon. It was flaky and the dressing was perfect. I liked the crunch of the cucumber in the dressing rather than in the salad. This was a delightful reminder that the butter makes it feel decadent while a small amount of dressing kept it fresh yet flavorful. My parents lightly dress salad with a healthier dressing so a creamy one can just be for some touch of flavor.

Clearly I enjoyed it:
The Three Bite Rule - Salmon with Creamy Dill & Cucumber Dressing

Pulled Pork Eggs Benedict

Ohh gosh. I hope you’re wearing yoga pants when you make/eat this. You’ll need the room in your belt (and also, I’m mainly wearing yoga pants on maternity leave and don’t want to be the only one). This eggs benedict with pulled pork, hollandaise, and a fried egg makes for a hugely decadent breakfast and is so full of flavor. There’s nothing light about this and that’s what makes it ahhh-mazing. Have this as brunch…if anything is going to count for two meals, this is the dish to do it with.

The Three Bite Rule - Pulled Pork Eggs Benedict
I’m lucky to have lots of eggs on hand from my parents hens. Fresh egg yolks are unparalleled so this was a great way to highlight them. Speaking of my parents, Mom reminded me she makes her hollandaise in a blender…that sounds easier. I wish I remembered that.

Ingredients:

BBQ pulled pork (see my recipe here)
1/2 English muffin per person
1 fried egg per person
3 egg yolks
1 tbs lemon juice
1/2 stick butter (not butter substitute)

Directions:

Mix egg yolks & lemon juice together using a hand mixer or blender for about 2 minutes or until doubled in size. (Note I started with 2 yolks but added a 3rd once it was just too little to mix well).
The Three Bite Rule - Pulled Pork Eggs Benedict
Over a double boiler of very low simmering water, slowly pour in the melted butter while whisking or beating with a hand mixer for 2 minutes. Be careful not to scramble the eggs by cooking them.
Remove from the heat and add salt, pepper, and a dribble of hot sauce. Then stir the sauce. Keep the simmering water handy in case the sauce gets too thick when assembling (see below).
The Three Bite Rule - Pulled Pork Eggs Benedict
Toast the English muffins and warm the pork.
Heat a frying pan to medium heat to fry the eggs.
Layer the muffin with the pork while the egg cooks.
The Three Bite Rule - Pulled Pork Eggs Benedict
Lay the egg on top with some salt & pepper on it.
The Three Bite Rule - Pulled Pork Eggs Benedict
Pour hollandaise sauce over the top. Add in a little warm water at a time if the sauce gets too thick (mine was pretty thick).
The Three Bite Rule - Pulled Pork Eggs BenedictEnjoy!

Ohh so good. Plus you probably won’t want your next meal for quite a while after eating this. I ended up actually splitting it between 2 English muffin pieces. One egg seemed like plenty since the sauce is so rich, it was a better quantity. You could serve this on biscuits or cornbread. You could poach the eggs (I loooove poached eggs) but they’re considerably harder than a fried egg and all the components seemed like enough to handle.

My pulled pork recipe for the crockpot will serve a ton. First I made this as BBQ pulled pork, then I froze the rest in batches and used it a few ways after we ate it a few times. This eggs benedict was just one way. My future batches will likely be a panini I have on my list and maybe as a baked dish with a cornbread-y topping.

Here are some other ideas for the pork leftovers: 
Pulled pork into tacos (as seen here, or here)
Pulled pork into a quesadilla
Pulled pork on pizza with mustard beer sauce
Pulled pork on nachos
Pulled pork as sliders

This totally made me feel like I was back to blogging for real. I made this while the little one napped which made me feel like a success/champion/rockstar. I struggle a bit feeling productive on days that all I’ve done is keep my little human alive. Plus, it seemed like a good use of time for 2 meals in one!

Loaded Potato Skins with Extra Seasoning

Woah! A real recipe! I know, I know, contain yourself. I’m back at it…sort of.

For the Superbowl I was wanting to make something that would be do-able with Baby T dictating my schedule. I thought of potato skins and thought they’d be good since they’re sort of football shaped, and I could do most of the prep earlier and just pop them in the oven when it was game-time. I added one not-so-secret ingredient to kick them up a touch and it was great!

Mr. J loooves his sports snacks and I’m really only into the Superbowl for the snacks (and commercials – my fav was the Budweiser Clydesdales and the puppy…I was in tears). We had a spread of these, veggies with ranch, guac & queso with tortilla chips. Perfection!

The Three Bite Rule - Potato Skins

Ingredients:

6 potatoes, baked
4 tbs butter
1 tbs French Onion Soup Mix
6 strips of bacon
1 1/2 cups shredded cheddar

Directions:

Half then hollow out the potatoes leaving some potato around the skin.
Melt the butter. Mix the butter and soup mix together.
The Three Bite Rule - Potato Skins
Preheat the oven to 375-degrees.
Cook the bacon until crisp and drain the excess grease. Chop into small pieces.
Brush the butter/seasoning mix over the potato halves on a baking sheet.
The Three Bite Rule - Potato Skins
Sprinkle with shredded cheese and top with bacon.
The Three Bite Rule - Potato Skins
Bake at 375-degrees for 10 minutes or until the cheese is melted and the potato crisps.
The Three Bite Rule - Potato Skins
Enjoy!

I baked the potatoes earlier in the day. I always forget how long they take to bake. I could have gotten them started in the micro to speed it up. I saved the innards thinking it’d become mashed potatoes for a side dish or lunch. Being home everyday and feeding myself lunch has been interesting…these potato skin leftovers became lunch a few times!

I liked the additional seasoning and think it’d be easy enough to use a spice rub or any seasoning mix you have around. I didn’t salt/pepper them since the seasoning had plenty of salt. Next time I’d be sure to brush it on more evenly…some had more flavor than others. I know pre-packed soup mix isn’t the healthiest but I’m considering making (and blogging) something with a newborn to be a win. #winning

Maternity Leave & Adventures in Mommy-hood

I’m back…sort of. I shared the arrival of my sweet baby boy Thomas in a little January Recap but here he is if you missed just how cute he is: or follow on instagram if you can’t get enough ;)
birth

It is definitely an adjustment. I’m so in awe of him. I can’t get over just how much we love him. He’ll be sleeping and I just miss him or I’ll get up for a 4am feeding and I feel badly that his diaper is wet rather than feeling tired. I realized the other day that he has more eyelashes than a few weeks ago and that surprised me about how much I know about him.

There are other times that I just can’t figure him out. What is he thinking? Why is he upset and why doesn’t anything stop his cries. Breastfeeding is going well sometimes and other times is so incredibly hard. It is such a gamble. I’m grateful to pass the occasional chance to feed him to Mr. J now that I’ve tried pumping a bit. Overall I think we’re doing well. Time is a bit of a blur. I feel like we’re learning more all the time and I expect that to continue.

Baby T is now just about a month old! How did that happen?? I’m relieved the first month is behind us. I hear it is the hardest and we agree there were definitely tough times as we try to figure out what we’re doing. The baby blues are for real, and I don’t think I’ve shed this many tears before in my life.

But this face, who could resist?
Thomas

Likes: being swaddled; eating a bottle from Daddy!; visits from the family & Skype chats with those farther away; how many snow days have had for us all home together; all the ad-orable outfits he’s been gifted & his soothie pacifier.

Dislikes: some of Mommy’s versions of lullabies (since she doesn’t know all the words); how long it took for us to switch him into bigger (size 1) diapers – he was wetting through newborn diapers but we didn’t make the connection for a few days of many outfit changes; and getting dressed after a feeding.

New Surprises: the puppies sniff  hello daily but haven’t goobed/slobbered/licked him too much; how much he seems to be growing all the time!

Now, for the food since this is (and will remain) a food blog. We’ve been working our way through freezer food and I’m shocked how long it has sustained us, though we also had some help by way of a veggie lasagna roll up delivery and the first night home we were treated to a spread of roasted chicken, twice baked potatoes, green beans, and several cookie/pumpkin bread gifts.

I do really want to cook and make some interesting things. I haven’t done much yet since it seems like 5-9pm are the bewitching hours here and I haven’t gotten out of the house much. I’m thinking maybe I should use this maternity leave also as time to cook interesting lunches (or rather meals) that are Emily-friendly…things that Mr. J isn’t into if daytime is an easier cook-time. We’ll see. I’m back, but slowly and possibly sporadically.

Make Yourself vs Buy for Yourself

It is officially time for maternity leave. “I’ll be back”. In the meantime, I have a few goodies to share out here in the blog-o-sphere until I come back. Enjoy!

I was randomly thinking the other day of a few things I don’t consider worth it to make for myself. I definitely think some things are easy enough and taste so much better when you make it yourself but many I think the creators have mastered and I’m no master chef. I probably COULD make some of these myself but many aren’t things I care to whip up myself. I assume everyone has their own list but here’s what I’ve come up with:

Foods I don’t make myself: others have mastered and theirs are better than mine
marshmallows
hummus
tator tots
crackers, especially cheez-its
pizza dough

Foods that are so worth it to make myself: 
chicken broth (though honestly I don’t have enough whole chickens to make my own)
veggie burgers
mac & cheese (though Kraft has its place in my heart & stomach)
lasagna
spinach & artichoke dip

I should be making my own salad dressing sometimes. That’s one of my goals for this year. It’ll happen.

What do you think is so important/better/tastier/healthier/easier to make yourself?

Breakfast Bake with Ham, Eggs, & Cheese

It is officially time for maternity leave. “I’ll be back”. In the meantime, I have a few goodies to share out here in the blog-o-sphere until I come back. Enjoy!

Thanks to my parents’ hens, we always have a good supply of fresh eggs around. They have 4 hens who are dutifully producing about a total of 3 eggs a day, from the expected 1 egg per hen quantity. They often stop laying eggs in the winter but not these ladies. They are named: Henrietta, Helga, Helene and The Old Hag. There’s not really a way to know which is laying (or which hen is which!).

I wanted some variety in my freezer food supply so I figured there should be something breakfast-y. My ham was leftover from a spiral ham at Christmas that I chopped up and froze after we were tired of it. This is recipe is along the lines of a savory baked french toast and has infinite possibilities.

The Three Bite Rule - Breakfast Bake with Ham, Eggs, and Cheese
Ham, Eggs, & Cheese Breakfast Bake (serves 6)
Ingredients:
8 eggs
1 cup milk
1/2 loaf of Italian bread, or ~4 sub rolls
3 slices of spiral cut ham, chopped
1 cup cheddar, shredded
1/4 cup chives chopped

Directions:
Whisk together eggs, milk, salt & pepper.
Chop bread/rolls into 1″ chunks and mix into to the egg mixture.
The Three Bite Rule - Breakfast Bake with Ham, Eggs, and Cheese
Add in cheese, ham, chives (note: my ham pictured was frozen)
The Three Bite Rule - Breakfast Bake with Ham, Eggs, and Cheese
Mix just to combine. The bread will be soft and have absorbed the egg/milk mixture so don’t overmix or the bread will lose shape.
The Three Bite Rule - Breakfast Bake with Ham, Eggs, and Cheese
Spray a baking dish (or individual ramekins or into sprayed muffin tins) with non-stick spray. Preheat the oven if serving immediately, or prep labels to freeze.
Spoon into the dish(s) and bake at 375-degrees for 30-45 minutes until set, or cover & label to freeze.
The Three Bite Rule - Breakfast Bake with Ham, Eggs, and Cheese
I froze mine and baked from frozen for 60 minutes. The edges will lightly brown, it will puff up, and the center will set when fully cooked.
The Three Bite Rule - Breakfast Bake with Ham, Eggs, and Cheese
Serve and enjoy!

I loved this. It is puffy and light but filling. I thought the ham was fantastic but you could easily substitute whatever you like. I went lighter on the cheese since I didn’t want it too heavy and figured we could be spared a few calories while still getting the cheesy flavor and texture.

It was a nice alternative to some of my other freezer foods (butternut squash lasagna, burritos, stuffed shells, pulled pork, etc). I made one that served 4 and a smaller/more shallow one that would serve 2. I froze them for a few weeks but think this would hold up in the freezer for quite awhile…a few months?
The Three Bite Rule - Breakfast Bake with Ham, Eggs, and Cheese
Suggested adaptations: 
Bfast bake – ham + sausage or bacon = Still Meaty Bfast Bake
Bfast bake – cheddar + pecorino/fontina/parmesan/gruyere/swiss = Still Cheesy Bfast Bake
Bfast bake – meat + spinach/peppers/onions/mushrooms = Vegetarian Bfast Bake
Bfast bake – chives + other fresh herbs/scallions = Herbaceous Bfast Bake
Bfast bake – white bread + sourdough/rye/wheat bread – 2 of the eggs + 2 egg whites = Healthier Bfast Bake

A Few of My Favorite Things: Kitchen Tool Edition

It is officially time for maternity leave. “I’ll be back”. In the meantime, I have a few goodies to share out here in the blog-o-sphere until I come back. Enjoy!

The more I cooked the more I realized how many super specialized tools there are out there! Since I’m not a chef, but love to cook, I figured I’d share a few of the tools I love the most. I don’t use too many special things that can only serve one purpose. While blogging a dish it takes long enough to cook, makes notes, and photograph that searching for a very specific tool isn’t likely. I do have a few go-to items I think everyone can use.

Dutch Oven/Cast-Iron Skillet:
This one is a toss up of which you absolutely need. I love both. They get super hot and the stove-top to oven capability is sooo handy to finish dinner or keep something hot, or just to use fewer dishes! They’re heavy and sometimes pricey but worth it. I love the flavor (and iron intake benefit) of the cast iron skillet. I love that barely anything can burn in the dutch oven and the cover.
cassolet_beans_590_390

Meat Thermometer:
I swear by the basic $3 meat thermometer you can get from the grocery store or Bed Bath & Beyond. This takes the question mark out of cooking meat! I think this is a must-have. Especially for pork. I believe those who don’t like pork, only have had it overcooked. I think it’s one that’s hard to tell the done-ness but chicken is a great one too to avoid drying it out and ensuring it is cooked enough through the center. Don’t proceed without one.
kale_pesto_pork_590_390
Blender: 
I splurged on a Ninja for a blender/smoothies. I don’t use it daily, but quite often I use it weekly…at least monthly. I love this one I got. I wasn’t about to dish out $400+ bucks for a Blendtec but the Ninja hasn’t left me with any regrets. I have this blender & single serve attachments. I see it online for $120-ish. I got it at bed bath & beyond with a gift card, 20% off, $5 off, and a store credit. It is totally worth it. I make smoothies regularly so I love when they can be contained in 1 cup to mix, drink, then to go into the dishwasher.
creamcicle_smoothie_blend_590_390
Devil Oven Grabber:
This thing is awesome, and arguably one of my most used. I love this silly thing. It helps you to pull the oven/toaster oven rack out. I know, I know, you could do it without this. I use it with the toaster oven where I don’t normally need/keep an oven mit. This guy makes an appearance about 5x a week on average. It is made of silicone so he safely lives ontop of the toaster oven.
devil
What do you grab in the kitchen first?

January 2015 Recap

Woah. Happy almost-February. Mr. J and I are PARENTS. Woah! Crazy! Our babe is just the cutest. Seriously, he’s cuter than any other baby than I have ever seen. I’m allowed to say that…I think. I was due January 9th and our beautiful boy was born January 16th. It felt like we waited forever at the end and finally he was here. We’re just soaking up every move he makes and trying to get the hang of this parenting thing. We’ve been enjoying some freezer staples and capitalizing on leftovers. January didn’t involve many new ground-breaking recipes but was good practice to work through the freezer and figure out what’s around and what we have time for.
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Now, the food, before I was a week overdue…
One of the fun things I kicked off the month with was a cornbread waffle that I put leftover chili onto. So fun. I’ll definitely do this again.
The Three Bite Rule - Chili over Cornbread Waffles

The sliders are arguably the most fun menu of January. Part of the fun was the spontaneity but what’s better than sliders, frappes, a fire roaring, and watching the ball drop until dozing off on the couch.
The Three Bite Rule - Burger Sliders
I improved Stuffed Shells with my fav freezer ingredient.
The Three Bite Rule - Better Stuffed Shells
I made up my own Sweedish-ish meatballs. I liked how easy it was to add some flavors I don’t have all the time and would mess around with meatballs again.
The Three Bite Rule - Swedish Meatballs
Maybe Mr. J and I will be coordinated enough to whip up something fun for the Superbowl. We’ll see. I have a hankering for potato skins or mini layered Mexican dips, but it is all up to Baby T.  I’m really just in it for the snacks, but being one of the local teams does make it a bit more interesting.

2015 Goals: these pseudo-resolutions will likely be quite loose while Mr. J and I get our footing as parents.
year of the earring: was a little distraction for a good 15 minutes of by past-my-due-date impatience, purchased via Etsy.

il_570xN.452467536_grt1
make more salad dressings: ehh. making/eating salads might be the first step before thinking I’ll make my own dressing right now.
factor more time into how long every-day tasks/trips will take: this will prob be my goal for the rest of my life
recreate restaurant menu items:something funky on a waffle iron came from a restaurant idea!
be more adventurous with my reading selections: I did get back to my book just the other day but I’m not sure I love it. “All the Light We Cannot See”…reccomendations to stick with it?
use the crockpot more: ehh, not yet, but this seems doable for one-handed cooking/nap-time cooking
#seafoodsunday once a month: not really, but I made some shrimp tacos the other night…does it count if I don’t blog it?