What I Ate: Tapas at Barcelona Wine Bar

What I Ate’ is a series of posts for so-easy-this-doesn’t-need-a-recipe but I’m sharing with you for the idea or inspiration.

Washington Square was not the same culinary scene when I lived around there. It makes me feel old but when meeting Ms. L for Tapas at Barcelona Wine Bar and we marveled at how many cool restaurants are there now. We decided on Tapas to hear about her trip to Spain. It was crazy hot so we ate inside. The patio is lovely though. Tapas is such a good summer meal to dabble in flavors and textures that appeal at the moment.

tapas_outside

I loved the menu. There were a ton of choices and we did a fantastic job choosing…I have to say. I was glad some were really sizable. I am happy to say we left feeling full without breaking the bank.

Golden Beets with Pistachio Pesto & Orange – This might have been my favorite dish. The beets were so good and the pistachio pesto was fantastic.

tapas_beets

Zucchini and summer squash- these were from a local farm. They were lightly cooked and a good compliment to everything else we had.
tapas_zucchini

Jamon and Chicken Croquettes – these were perfectly crispy with a light aoli underneath. They were perfectly pop-able. If they were any smaller I might have devoured them without enough attention.
tapas_croquettes

Patatas Bravas Salsa Brava, Garlic Aioli – these arrived hot from the kitchen. They were crispy and had great tomato flavor. We weren’t sure if this was going to be too spicy but it was perfect.
tapas_potatoes

Truffled “Bikini“ Grilled Cheese, Jamon Serrano – mini grilled ham & cheese with truffle oil. Yes. Please. These were so good and a great balance with the veggies we had.
tapas_grilledcheese
Brookline has some fantastic restaurants that I love (like Fireplace, Regal Beagle, Orinoco, La Morra, Publick House, Matt Murphy’s and of course Brookline Spa).
And a bunch more new ones I still have to try (like RibelleFairstead Kitchen, The Abbey).

Any other Brookline spots I’m missing out on? It has now been a long time since I worked in Brookline Village and lived in Cleveland Circle area!

July Recap

July was bananas. Between the holiday weekend, telling everyone about the baby, and some landscape projects I feel like summer is in full swing. I cannot express how thankful I am that Mother Nature has been kind to me without too much heat. Seriously. Those 75-degree days were lovely and I appreciated it thoroughly.

People’s reactions to the baby have been so wonderful and I am grateful for the support. I’ll keep ya posted as any crazy food cravings/aversions changes & evolve. I had grilled salmon on salad one night and couldn’t stop calling it the best I’d ever had. Currently I’m hungry all the time. In July, the babe was the size of a large plum, a peach, a lemon, an orange, then an avocado.
baby_announce

July also was sort of life-changing in that we finally got our ice maker fixed. It is amazing. Having an endless supply of ice cubes is so great. Mr. J has become a cold-brewing coffee master, and ice is a vital component to that. The pups are not interested in them, but I pile them into every drink I have now.

I tweaked my normal pizza dough process with the prompting of Mr. J. He suggested we try rolling out the dough a bit to make it thinner. It was awesome and cracker-thin. I made this breakfast pizza that might be my best attempt thus far. I hard-boiled the eggs and chopped them up. It gave it a true eggy-taste without the texture getting wanky.

The Three Bite Rule - Breakfast Flatbread
A true shining moment of food in July was a BLT Burger – This burger was so great. I mixed in some sun-dried tomato pesto into the burger, giving the flavors a serious upgrade.
The Three Bite Rule - BLT Burger
I used this roasted kale pesto to become pasta salad and it was ahhh-mazing. I loved it and want it all the time now. I might have to mass produce the kale pesto to keep stocked.
The Three Bite Rule - Roasted Kale Pesto Pasta Salad

The puff pastry turnovers were so good and such an easy dinner. The creamed spinach and ham were so good. Three ingredients: puff pastry sheets, frozen creamed spinach, chopped ham. Done! They are really adaptable with whatever is on hand. I liked the little deviation from grilled things and I made them in the toaster oven without heating up the whole kitchen! The kale pesto would be good in these buggers too!
The Three Bite Rule - Puff Pastry Turnovers
Mr. J has been toiling away on a landscaping project. He has a great landscaping eye and mapped out a plan for walkway paths from the deck over to the hammock, and to a future firepit area, and to the basement door. After being revived from the landscaping estimates for stone pavers, he planned gravel paths he could do himself…for less than the $10K price tag.

It was tonsss of work and my dad lent some much needed hands-on help. Mr. J rented a sod cutter, dug out the dirt, installed edging, loaded in crushed gravel base, pounded that down, and topped with pea stone. I helped a bit when I was up to it, but really this project took lots of full days of work. I’m thankful the majority is done. It’ll be awesome and I cannot wait to roast marshmallows. It will be done soon!

Let’s check on my goals:
Buy myself flowers more often - The Year of the flower is a hit! this month I nabbed some blue hydrangeas  and then this beautiful mix came from a chef at work.
send more mail – ehh I didn’t quite get there this month.
make some Pinterest pins a reality 
cook with yeast (yikes!)
try a spin class – um nope. I’m not sure I’m adding in any super new exercises at this point. I’m slowly doing a 30-day yoga challenge whenever the mood strikes.
make more cocktails – umm no cocktails for me until January ;) but I did make a fun beverage: Bubbly Blueberry Lemonade

August is always a reminder to make the most of the final days of summer. I’ll have a few beach days at the very end, and I have already mentally prepared people that I need a lot more Maine Black Bear ice cream in my summer.

Kale Pesto Pasta Salad

Last fall Mr. J found a recipe for roasted kale pesto that he served over pork chops and polenta. I loved it and figured the pesto would be great for pasta salad.

The Three Bite Rule - Roasted Kale Pesto Pasta Salad

Ingredients:

1 head of kale
1/4 to 1/2 cup olive oil
1/2 cup walnuts
2 tbs lemon juice
3 tbs Parmesan
1/2 pound pasta

Directions:

Preheat the oven to 400 degrees.
Tear the kale off the stems and spread onto a sheet pan.
Drizzle with olive oil, salt & pepper.
kale_pesto_590_390
Bake for 5 minutes, check and flip being careful not to let it burn. Cook for another 3 minutes.
The Three Bite Rule - Roasted Kale Pesto Pasta Salad
Transfer into a food processor with walnuts, lemon juice, Parmesan, salt, and pepper.
The Three Bite Rule - Roasted Kale Pesto Pasta Salad
Blend until smooth while slowly streaming in the olive oil until you reach your desired thickness.
The Three Bite Rule - Roasted Kale Pesto Pasta Salad
Let cool. Boil salted water for the pasta. Cook until al dente and drain.
Toss with the pesto.
The Three Bite Rule - Roasted Kale Pesto Pasta Salad
Refrigerate over night, or at least 8 hours.
Toss with a drizzle of oil if it is too dry.
The Three Bite Rule - Roasted Kale Pesto Pasta Salad
I loved this. It could easily be a cool meal for some hot-weather. The pesto is unbelievable. I love this pesto but I think it blows regular pasta salad out of the water. That creamy mayo-heavy sweet pasta salad has nothing on this.

I couldn’t believe how much the color changed. The flavor deepens with time.

Something Else is Cookin’

baby_announce
It’s all happening and has been a crazy secret to keep. It was so hard not to spill the beans! My blogging break and abbreviated schedule were really based around being newly pregnant and not feeling well for the first 8 weeks or so. Not feeling “well” was putting it mildly. It was rough.

I’m feeling much better and a weight has been lifted now that people know. I really didn’t want anyone to be guessing before Mr. J and I were ready to share. I’m grateful how genuine everyone’s reactions were…and still are. I think it might have been tough to hear people say “I knew it!” so I’m thankful that wasn’t the case. It was a little bit fun to have it as a secret. I was seriously torn between wanting to shout it from the rooftops versus holding on to our secret for as long as felt right.

I don’t plan on weekly bump updates or anything. I am fascinated by the food interests/cravings versus aversions so I’ll probably share some of that, or whatever else strikes…

I had about a month of steering clear of anything soft & squishy: no hummus; no avocado; no yogurt; no peanut butter; no smoothies, etc. I was often napping after work or trying to cook something to resemble dinner which then I’d not be sure I wanted to still eat it. There were a lot of anything-goes dinner nights.

So far, I think the only legit craving has been for cheetos. It is all very new to suddenly feel passionate about not wanting to eat something or, really wanting something random. Now that I’m not sick all the time I would say I’m hungry all. the. time. I’m kind of prepared for an apocalypse. I started stashing snacks everywhere. It seems dramatic and like I will not make it when I’m hungry and know I don’t have anything on hand. 2 pretzel rods can turn my life around. Maybe this packing of snacks is a life skill that my offspring are training me for, even from the inside.

Also, when you aren’t allowed to eat something it is all you want. Lesson learned. I rarely eat sandwiches but suddenly all I want is forbidden deli-meat.

Chicken Ranchero Pizza

A family favorite from our town “house of pizza” is the Chicken Ranchero. It is almost hard to order anything else from there. After 2.5 years of eating this favorite pizza, I decided to recreate it at home.

The Three Bite Rule - Chicken Ranchero Pizza
Ingredients:
pizza dough
2 chicken breasts or chicken thighs
3 tbs ranch dressing mix
4 strips of bacon
3 tbs ranch dressing
6 oz shredded mozzarella

Directions:
Preheat the oven and a pizza stone, if using one, to 400-degrees.
Pan fry the chicken until cooked through, then remove from the pan and shred. Return to the pan and reduce heat to low. Add ranch dressing mix and a drip of water.
The Three Bite Rule - Chicken Ranchero Pizza
Roll out the pizza dough until 1/4 inch thick. Spread it onto the pizza stone or baking sheet. Poke a few holes with a fork.
Bake for 5 minutes until lightly cooked.
The Three Bite Rule - Chicken Ranchero Pizza
While the dough is cooking, chop each bacon slice into 1/4 inch strips and pan fry until crisp, but until 75% cooked (it crisps more in the oven.
Top the pizza dough with ranch dressing, then cheese, then add the chicken.
The Three Bite Rule - Chicken Ranchero Pizza
Top with bacon, then another sprinkle of ranch mix is optional, lastly a last sprinkle of cheese.
The Three Bite Rule - Chicken Ranchero Pizza
Bake 10 minutes until crust is crisp and cheese melts.
The Three Bite Rule - Chicken Ranchero Pizza
This was a great one. Bacon on any pizza is a winner, but this has some great tried and true flavors that are beautifully uncomplicated. I’m glad I didn’t junk it all up trying to add too many things to it.

I used chicken thighs mostly because it was what I could find in the house, but I think it was a good choice because it didn’t get too dried out. Rotisserie chicken would also stay moist and would speed up the cooking time.

The Three Bite Rule - Chicken Ranchero Pizza

Puff Pastry Dinner Turnovers

I love grilling season, and extending grilling season into the other seasons. I do sometimes think that I need to vary it up. This was a good way to do that without turning the oven on. I popped these guys into the toaster oven!
The Three Bite Rule - Puff Pastry Turnovers

Ingredients:

2 sheets of puff pastry dough (or crescent roll dough)
1 1/2 cups (1 package) of frozen creamed spinach, defrosted and heated through
1 – 1 1/2 cups ham, chopped
1 cup shredded cheddar

Directions:

Preheat oven or toaster oven to 350 degrees.
Pan fry the ham until warmed through and crisp.
Cut each puff pastry sheet into four equal squares.
Spoon some spinach into the center from two opposite corners.
The Three Bite Rule - Puff Pastry Turnovers
Add some ham, then tuck the two opposite corners over one another.
The Three Bite Rule - Puff Pastry Turnovers
Fill four puff pastry squares with spinach & ham, fill other four with ham and shredded cheese.
The Three Bite Rule - Puff Pastry Turnovers
Bake 8-10 minutes until pastry is crisp and lightly tanned. (Bake less if you plan on baking them another time to use later or freeze.)
The Three Bite Rule - Puff Pastry Turnovers
These were so good and so quick. Definitely a good alternative to everyday dinner. I served them with some salad.

They were great as breakfast too. I froze a few we didn’t get to immediately and they just needed a quick defrost before toasting. I’d like them as apps if they were a bit smaller. I would pop them in muffin tins to form their own cups. I had the spinach, ham, and puff pastry in the freezer. These are a great way to use some leftovers.

Suggested adaptations: 
sliced meatballs + marinara + shredded mozzarella + puff pastry = meatball turnovers
turkey deli meat + crumbled bacon + ranch + cheddar + puff pastry = turkey bacon ranch turnovers
creamed spinach + artichoke hearts + roasted red peppers + provolone = spinach & artichoke turnovers
tapanade + feta + diced tomatoes + chopped peppers + puff pastry = Mediterranean turnovers
raspberry jam + brie + puff pastry = cheese plate turnovers
prosciutto + brie + sliced green apples/pears = Italian appetizer turnovers

Freezing

Do you freeze stuff? I freeze every.thing. I mean, every. thing. I can’t tell you how excited Mr. J and I were to get another freezer. It lives in the basement, and makes me earn dinner sometimes when I’m pawing through the regular freezer and going down/up a set of stairs to check the other auxiliary freezer.

The freezer (much like your washer/dryer) is dry-erasable. We try to keep a running list of what’s in there.

The Three Bite Rule

Most common things I freeze:

bread/english muffins/burger rolls/pizza dough/etc – with just 2 of us we never use it fast enough
raw meat/ground chicken/ground beef/chicken pieces/pork chops – I sort of look for sales, but it’s easier to move to the fridge before work.
already frozen goodies for quick dinners/dinner additions - fries, breaded eggplant, tamales, leftovers, tortellini, etc
frozen veggies – edemame, corn, broccoli, cauliflower
sauces – meat sauce, creamed spinach (I use as a sauce)
double batch, or a frozen portion of meals.

Maybe more uncommon things I freeze:

coffee into ice cube trays – helps to not water-down iced coffee
“grossness & guts” – stinky stuff that would make me take the trash out before it is full (fat trimmings, the gross soggy pad underneath chicken, bones, etc). It’s a Ziploc bag that I add to, then open up into the trash when it is going out. That same bag lives a good life for about 6 months before needing to be replaced.
fresh herbs – chopped up frozen with a little water or a little olive oil if I wouldn’t use it before they go bad.

There are pretty good lists out there of what to freeze.

http://dailysavings.allyou.com/2012/03/07/foods-storage/

Blueberry Lemonade

I bought a pretty hefty container of blueberries and decided to make a syrup with some of it. I may have been a bit over eager with the quantity I thought I could eat. I mean, a lot of little berries fit in the big package!
The Three Bite Rule - Blueberry Lemonade

Ingredients:

1 1/2 cup blueberries
1/4 cup sugar
1 tbs honey
1/4 cup water
lemonade
soda water

Directions:

In a small saucepan, cook blueberries, sugar, honey, and water over medium-low heat.
The Three Bite Rule - Blueberry Lemonade
Gently mash the blueberries while stirring occasionally. Bring to a low boil.
Let cool to room temperature.
Strain through a wire sieve into a bowl. Gently press any remaining liquid out of the remaining skin.
The Three Bite Rule - Blueberry Lemonade
Let chill in the refrigerator for an hour until cool.
The Three Bite Rule - Blueberry Lemonade
Fill a glass with ice and fill half way with lemonade.
The Three Bite Rule - Blueberry Lemonade
Add another 1/4 full of soda water, then 2-3 tbs blueberry syrup.
The Three Bite Rule - Blueberry Lemonade
Add in a few blueberries and a straw. Voila!

It was good. The bubble addition isn’t necessary, but it did add some spunk. I used crystal light lemonade which is sweeter than tart. The Three Bite Rule - Blueberry Lemonade
suggested serving adaptations:
over pancakes
into smoothies
in sangria/cocktails
over ice cream
into yogurt
with berries on a cheese plate

Breakfast Flatbread with Everything Bagel Spices

I was still on the quest for a great breakfast pizza. This time, I decided to hard boil the egg and feature the sausage and cheese with the seasoning of an everything bagel. Bagel pizzas would actually be great for this!

The Three Bite Rule - Breakfast Flatbread

I’ve made a few breakfast pizzas, but today’s might be the best. I made this one way back when with eggs dropped on top. I made this one with a hashbrown crust. I made this one with scrambled eggs.

Ingredients:

Pizza Dough
3 tbs cream cheese with chives
8 oz sharp cheddar cheese
6 breakfast sausage links
3 eggs, hardboiled
1/2 tsp poppy seeds
1/2 tsp sesame seeds
1/2 tsp dried onion

Directions:

Preheat the oven (and pizza stone if using one) to 400-degrees.
Pan fry the sausage links until cooked through. Drain, then slice into 3-4 pieces per link.
Roll out pizza dough with a little flour until 1/4 inch thick.
Spread cream cheese on top.
The Three Bite Rule - Breakfast Flatbread
In a dry, flat pan, toast the spices over medium heat for 3-5 minutes.
The Three Bite Rule - Breakfast Flatbread
Top with cheese, sausage, chopped hard boiled eggs, and toasted spices.
The Three Bite Rule - Breakfast Flatbread
Bake for 10-15 minutes until the cheese is melted and the thin crust is crisp.
The Three Bite Rule - Breakfast Flatbread
Top with chopped chives or green onions.

I loved this one. I hadn’t done a crust this thin before but this was thanks to Mr. J to roll it out while I prepped the toppings. It was nice to have the cracker thin crunch to keep it a bit lighter. I used half the dough I normally use. Instead of sauce I used just a touch of cream cheese.

The Three Bite Rule - Breakfast Flatbread

What I Ate: Orange Pomegranate Salsa

‘What I Ate’ is a series of posts for so-easy-this-doesn’t-need-a-recipe but I’m sharing with you for the idea or inspiration.

Were you missing the #whatiate series from Fridays? I have a few I need to do now that I’ve regained momentum so stay tuned for more!

We’ve had some hot days, and I’m so thankful for everyday that isn’t a thousand degrees or humid. Some nights dinner’s theme is “how to cook without turning on the oven”. That’s where this came in. I had an event at work and was lucky enough to take home some of this salsa. The food demo encouraged cooks to use these raw salsas over fish, poultry, and beef. Done!

photo

Ingredients:

Oranges, peeled, chopped
Pomegranate seeds
Onion, chopped
Fennel bulb, chopped
Lime juice
Honey
Salt
Pepper
Parsley (to add at the end)

Directions:

Chop & combine everything except the parsley.
Let sit 30 minutes in the refrigerator.
Add parsley just before serving.

I marinated & grilled some chicken and served it all over brown rice. Dinner is done.
The Three Bite Rule - Salsa

I love the crunch and tartness of the pomegranate seeds with the oranges. This is great as a salsa to dip with or as a sauce. I know I get stuck thinking summer sauces are BBQ or teriyaki but a cool raw one is really fun. I’ll have to mess around with some other salsa ingredients!