Outside the Lunch Box: Veggie & Hummus Sandwich

The lunch series continues with a very veggie sandwich. Nothing about this one is rocket science BUT we all need more veggies, right? We had some illness go through our house and the winter months seems like a time to hunker down with a bowl of pasta. I embrace that but why not load up the veggies for other meals?!
The Three Bite Rule - Hummus & Veggie Sandwich
My all-time fav hummus is Cedar’s Balsamic & Caramelized Onion flavor. Color and texture are both emphasized here. Also, some really good sharp white cheddar is good here on a quality roll. This should definitely be in the weekly rotation!

Hummus & Veggie Sandwich (for 2)

Ingredients:

2 Onion rolls
4 tablespoons hummus
1 cup baby bella mushrooms
1/2 carrot
1/2 tomato
2 cups arugula
3-4 inches of a cucumber
3 tablespoons salad dressing (Parmesan Peppercorn, Creamy Caesar, Tzatziki, etc)

Directions:

Saute the mushrooms in butter with salt and pepper and remove from the heat.
Slice the tomato, cucumber, cheese, and grate the carrot.
The Three Bite Rule - Hummus & Veggie Sandwich
Layer the roll with hummus, arugula, mushrooms, tomato, cheese, cucumber, and carrot.
The Three Bite Rule - Hummus & Veggie Sandwich
Drizzle with dressing.
Enjoy!
The Three Bite Rule - Hummus & Veggie Sandwich
To pack this up for lunch, as mine always are: some assembly required. I brought this to work unassembled. It makes all the difference. In one container I had the veggies and separately I packed the roll, hummus, cheese, and dressing.

This was so good. I love all the flavors and crunch. The possibilities are endless: avocado, or pickled onions, or beets, or sprouts, or whatever you love!

I hope you got some new lunch ideas whether you pack it up for an office or for your mid-day meal wherever you are!

Outside the Lunch Box: Breakfast Burritos

Packing lunches takes a bit of preparation and when crowd-sourcing some ideas a while back, I was awe-inspired by breakfast foods! Duh! Yes, please! I whipped up a few breakfast burritos to see how I’d like them come lunch time. Spoiler:: they’re just what noontime wants. I should keep a few in the freezer for bfasts too. I often make burritos to freeze with leftover taco elements but I’ve been sleeping on the breakfast burrito game! These are perfect to customize. I used my fav Gardein meatless sausages {not sponsored} but the filling opportunities are endless – see the end for ideas!
The Three Bite Rule - Bfast Burritos for Lunch

Breakfast Burritos w/ Sausage, Egg & Cheese

Ingredients: (for 2)

3 sausage patties (I used meatless)
4 eggs
2 burrito sized tortillas (flour are most durable for folding/freezing/microwaving but use what you like)
~1 cup shredded white cheddar
1 tablespoon everything Bagel seasoning (optional)

Directions:

Pan fry the sausage until cooked through, or as the package indicates.
While sausage is cooking, whisk together the eggs and cook gently in a pan over medium-low heat until set, about 5 minutes. Season with salt and pepper. (Note: I normally cook eggs with a splash of milk and really soft scramble them. For burritos, I didn’t want the eggs to be at all watery so I skipped the milk and cooked until a bit firmer than I normally do.) Let the eggs cool for a few minutes off the heat.
Lay out the tortillas and shred the cheese on top.
Cut the sausages into bite-size pieces and let cool a bit.
Add the eggs and sausage on top of the cheese. Then sprinkle with everything bagel seasoning, if using.
The Three Bite Rule - Bfast Burritos for Lunch
Fold the sides of the burritos inward about 1-2 inches, then roll from the bottom towards the top tucking the sides in as you roll. (Here’s a video of the same way I do it)
Wrap in plastic and refrigerate until serving. Microwave about 30 seconds to a minute, depending on that work microwave power! Then pop into a toaster oven if possible!
Enjoy!
The Three Bite Rule - Bfast Burritos for Lunch

Variations:
bacon, eggs, cheese
eggs, cheese, spinach & mushrooms
eggs, cheese, salsa, beans
eggs, cheese, homefries

These freeze well so make a bunch and spread them out to add more variety to your week! They are prob the easiest “batch” cooking ever and they don’t take up much freezer space. I love breakfast food and I never cook eggs on weekdays so these are a great idea for me! I appreciated a warm option come lunchtime. I’d lighten them up a bit for breakfast- 1 egg and 1 sausage patty is prob enough for the morning.

These are insanely cheap to make and have wayyyy fewer ingredients than the frozen ones sold. Wheat tortillas don’t seem to hold up as well but that’s a great substitution if you have some you like. Try include plant-based proteins. They’ve come a long way since 2008 when they were more available. I swear by Gardein {pulls out her soapbox}. Our whole fam love the meatless crumbles in tacos, the Szechuan beefless strips, the meatless meatballs, the turkey cutlets, and we have others to try. A fam of 4 skipping red meat one meal is as good for the planet as taking a car off the road for 3 months. That’s insane! Don’t get me started on how little recycling actually gets recycled so this is a really tangible way to have an impact on the environment, and these are truly flavorful replacements for meals you’re already familiar with.

I’d love love love to hear what you think!

Outside the Lunchbox: Lemon Poppyseed Tuna

Let’s talk lunch! I began packing my own lunch since maybe 3rd grade. It is no easy feat so I wanted to share some special ideas. Lemon Poppyseed tunafish is delicious but also requires a PSA: do not bring tuna to work for lunch unless you have your own space where nobody will smell it, or bring it if you’ll eat outside! This is a fun lunch for the weekend too.

The freshness takes this up a serious notch.
The Three Bite Rule - Lemon Poppyseed Tuna

Lemon Poppyseed Tuna (for 2)

Ingredients:

1 can chunk white tuna in water
2 tablespoons mayo
1 teaspoon Italian dressing (or olive oil)
1 teaspoon relish
1/2 lemon
1/2 teaspoon poppyseeds
salt and pepper
arugula
bread

Directions:

Drain the tuna and mix in mayo, dressing, relish, juice from the lemon, zest from the lemon, poppyseeds, and salt and pepper.
The Three Bite Rule - Lemon Poppyseed Tuna
Mix with a fork and store until serving.
The Three Bite Rule - Lemon Poppyseed Tuna
Serve on toast with greens.
Enjoy!
The Three Bite Rule - Lemon Poppyseed Tuna
I loved the lemon in here! I often go for dill relish, but the sweetness was perfect with the tart lemon. Sandwiches can be ho-hum but assembling when eating is the key!

Next up, I have a more out of the box idea to pack for lunch!

January 2020 Recap

My little boy is 5! January is a fun month for us to start the year off fresh, and celebrations continue at our house! We took a family group excursion to a local, division 3, hockey game + pizza/cake/gifts back at home. This month was a chance to get back into routines. Mr. J and I had the greatest date night- we went to a new local winery for a tasting, then we got dinner. January was ideal for a Winter Comfort series!

I made Chicken Pot Pie
The Three Bite Rule - Chicken Pot Pie
and Easy Homemade Ramen
The Three Bite Rule - Easy Ramen

and I made Chicken Parm Stuffed Shells
The Three Bite Rule - Chicken Parm Stuffed Shells
Next month, I’ll make some sports snacks for the superbowl but I’m not a real fan so I’m mostly in it for the snacks & commercials! I have a new series coming up and I’m feeling like I have enough bandwidth right now to help make all the things happen!

The Preschooler Guy

His birthday was fun and I’m loving this age right now. He comes home from PreK and knows so many things! He is SO SO into music! He still loves The Beatles, but also is into Queen & The Beach Boys. It is so fun. This month he was nottt into Chicken Pot Pie but came back for seconds when we had chili. You just never know with these little humans!

The Toddler Girl:

I love this age right now too! Words are coming along. Her favs are saying “shoes” and “go go” and “coat”…can you tell she loves to get outside or go somewhere? She tucks dolls to sleep all the time and is very into magnatile stacking and the water-filled brush “painting”! Tubs are her favorite thing and it cracks me up that she wildly kicks her legs if she hears it go on after dinner. She eats everything and is getting better at taking bites instead of shoving whole things into her mouth.

This Year’s Goals:

Year of beauty/selfcare! I got 2 pairs of blue-light blocking glasses- for home and work. My eye dr recommended I try them (and drops) since my eyes look tired, bloodshot, and my vision hasn’t changed. I’m into them- mostly at work, but also for the last social scrolling before bed!
Prep intentional sides and veggies: Having the remnants of a veggie tray was handy for cooked vs raw veggies around!
Eat more fish: Neither was interested in shrimp this time. I’ll have to plan something else in the mix.
Blog some series: Winter Comfort dishes was fun for me! I have a new one planned for Feb. Stay tuned!
Focus decluttering/organizing to an area: I “rehomed” an unused stuffed animal on the free group and scheduled a pick up for some stuff we aren’t using. It feels good!
Share more books on instagram: I did a few.
Prioritize workouts: I’m into the 90s of my 100 Morning Meltdown workouts! I’m not sure what’ll be next.
What I’m reading: Bookclub read Everything Here is Beautiful by Mira T. Lee and I thought it was such an insightful way to to see mental illness and I read I’m Still Here: Black Dignity in a World Made for Whiteness by Austin Channing Brown and found the daily microaggressions mapped out & time stamped was the most powerful lesson for me. 
What I’m listening to:
I found Bad on Paper and love it.
What I’m watching: Project Runway & This is Us & A Million Little Things! We watched the movie Bombshell and my heart hurt afterwards for women in too many workplaces.

Winter Comfort: Easy Homemade Ramen

I have all the short cuts & cheats to make ramen! It is a little spicy and perfect for a slow lunch or to clear out a stuffy head from those dang winter colds that just won’t quit. While it is pretty quick to make, this was a nice slow food. This isn’t a Saturday lunch I eat over the cutting board while instructing my cherubs to focus before naptime. This ramen is a spoon and fork bowl to linger over.
The Three Bite Rule - Easy Ramen

Easy Homemade Ramen

Ingredients: (serves 2)

4 chicken tenders (or 2 chicken breasts, or ~1 cup rotisserie chicken, shredded)
1/2 Thai flavor seasoning (I used this or substitute with 3 cups vegetable/mushroom/chicken broth with a dash of soy sauce)
1 cup baby bella mushrooms
2 eggs
3 green onions
1 package of instant ramen, seasoning discarded)
2 eggs
1/2 teaspoon sesame oil
black sesame seeds (or substitute by toasting white sesame seeds)

Directions:

Bring 1 cup of of broth (I used ~1/4 of the seasoning cube + 1 cup water) to a simmer and lightly poach the chicken for ~8-10 minutes until cooked through.
While the chicken cooks, saute the mushrooms for ~3 minutes in a skillet over medium high heat with a drizzle of olive oil.
Remove the chicken and let cool, then shred with 2 forks.
Add the rest of the Thai seasoning cube with 3 cups of water (or add in the broth + soy sauce) and cook over low heat.
The Three Bite Rule - Easy Ramen
Add in the chicken, mushrooms, 2/3 of the green onions, and sesame oil to cook for 5 minutes.
Bring a separate small pot of water to a boil. Reduce to medium-high and cook the eggs, covered, for 6 minutes.
Add in the noodles to the large pot with the chicken, mushrooms, green onions and broth for 2 minutes.
Remove the eggs from the water and immediately put into a bowl of ice water for 1 minute. Then carefully peal under running water.
Scoop the noodles, chicken, and mushrooms into bowls. Add an egg into each bowl.
The Three Bite Rule - Easy Ramen
Pour broth into each bowl, top with sesame seeds and remaining green onions.
The Three Bite Rule - Easy RamenEnjoy!

The flavors were so great. I found it a bit spicy (I’m reducing the seasoning for the recipe above) so I added in a little chicken broth. The spice cubes were in the spice section at my grocery store but might also be near the bullion/broth. It is on Amazon too. Ramen – straight out of the pack- is my guilty pleasure but this was such a fun heightened version! I probably make regular ramen ~6 times a year but this being real food, makes me want it more.

Winter Comfort: Chicken Parm Stuffed Shells

This week weather may have been upper 50s & into the 60s in New England, but stuffed shells are a faster-than-lasagna winter comfort dinner. These got a slight twist with flavor of chicken parm we love. Plus, I love ricotta more than the average person, so this hit the spot. Make one big pan or 2 smaller ones with one to freeze!

The Three Bite Rule - Chicken Parm Stuffed Shells

Chicken Parmesan Stuffed Shells

Ingredients:

1/2 box jumbo shells
~4 breaded chicken tenders (or ~1 cup popcorn chicken)
15 oz ricotta
1 tablespoon Italian Seasoning
1 1/2 cup mozzarella
1 1/2 cup tomato sauce (I use Pastene canned Kitchen Ready Tomatoes)

Directions:

Bake the chicken until cooked through and crisp, according to the package. Then chop into bite-sized pieces. Lower oven heat to 350-degrees.
Boil salted water for the jumbo shells and cook until al dente.
Mix the ricotta with 1/2 cup mozzarella, Italian seasoning, and salt.
The Three Bite Rule - Chicken Parm Stuffed Shells
Fill a ziplock bag with the ricotta. Use a tall drinking glass to hold the bag while spooning the ricotta into the bag.
The Three Bite Rule - Chicken Parm Stuffed Shells
Spray a baking dish with non-stick spray. (I made 2- 9×9 pans or this would fit one 9×13). Spoon about 1/4 cup of tomato sauce onto the bottom.
Snip the bottom corner off the ziplock bag to pipe the ricotta into the shells and place the shells into the baking dish.
Add chicken on top of the ricotta.
The Three Bite Rule - Chicken Parm Stuffed Shells
Spoon tomato sauce on top.
Cover and bake for 30 minutes. Then uncover, top with remaining mozzarella, and return to the oven for 15 minutes.
The Three Bite Rule - Chicken Parm Stuffed Shells
Enjoy!

I loved this. Leftovers packed up really well to be lunch the next day! I love these flavors and was reminded just how easy it was to pop this together. Another fun twist is to skip the chicken, and stir in creamed spinach into the ricotta mixture for my Better Than Usual Stuffed Shells.
The Three Bite Rule - Chicken Parm Stuffed Shells

Winter Comfort: Chicken Pot Pie

I believe everyone needs some crowd-pleasers or make-ahead meals in their arsenal! This chicken pot pie would fit the bill for each of those categories! Here’s the first of some winter comfort food staples!
The Three Bite Rule - Chicken Pot Pie

…unless you ask a certain pre-schooler. Kids’ tastes are so weird. He ate all of the Winter Veggie Grain Bowl on another night with farro, roasted veggies and dried cranberries- he even had more of the roasted butternut squash – prob not be every kid’s preference. He was hesitant to try the chicken pot pie, and then pretty indifferent after having a few bites of each component. While he likes all these things separately, he’s not super into foods all cooked together, but he needs to encounter foods that way. He doesn’t get an alternative so he ate some tomatoes on the side and then just a few bites and was confident in his decision that it was all he would have for the night. To each their own, right? Our toddler loved the chicken pot pie though!

Chicken Pot Pie (serves ~5)

Ingredients:

~2 cups of roasted chicken (I used ~1/3 of a Costco roasted chicken)
2 potatoes
2 carrots
1 cup frozen corn (or substitute peas)
1 cup chicken broth
2/3 can cream of chicken soup
salt & pepper
1 pie crust (frozen, rolled up)

Directions:

Cut the roasted chicken off the bones and chop into ~1″ pieces. If possible, simmer the bones & skin with ~2 cups of water for 15 minutes to make broth.
Cook the potatoes and carrots and add with the chicken to a pie plate sprayed with non-stick spray.
The Three Bite Rule - Chicken Pot Pie
Mix the broth with the cream of chicken soup. Gently stir that liquid mixture into the chicken, potatoes, carrots, and corn.
The Three Bite Rule - Chicken Pot Pie
Unroll the pie crust and cut some slits into it to vent.
Bake for 30-40 minutes at 350-degrees. Rest for 5 minutes before serving. (Or bake for 20 minutes, cool and freeze. Defrost in the refrigerator over night and bake for 20-30 minutes before serving.)
The Three Bite Rule - Chicken Pot Pie
Enjoy!

It freezes well, or could be prepped and cooked in advance and warmed when eating. I made 1 big one, but it also easily doubles or could become mini individual ones! If you’re passionate about crust make your own but using a pre-roasted chicken and frozen crust brought this together so quickly!
The Three Bite Rule - Chicken Pot Pie

Days later both kids had mul-ti-ple servings of lasagna so- life lesson: don’t count ‘em out, kids can always surprise you and eat something all cooked together!

December 2019 Recap

Woo-eee! December was bus-y! We loved it all. Dinners were more minimal to keep us up with social commitments and shopping and doing all the things. We listened to Christmas music non-stop until just the other day. Santa came while we were sleeping and the kids got to see their new things then we went to my side of the family for the day. On the 26th we headed to Maine and had a few days with the family there. It was all really special and fun. Getting home, I was ready for some more careful food portions, fewer treats, and more workouts & movement.

I don’t have a post-holiday down feelings. I love to move onto winter decor and wrap up a fun Christmas. I’m in the process of un-decorating from Christmas and finding a home for everything. Mr. J and I are gearing up for our traditional sliders, shakes, and champagne for NYE!

This season neeeeds a Winter Veggie Grain Bowl – customized as you wish! Mine had farro, butternut squash, zucchini, mushrooms, cheddar, dried cranberries, and a drizzle of honey mustard. It is hearty but not heavy. Trust me, this is a perfect fit to your January.
The Three Bite Rule - Winter Veggie Grain Bowl
Santa (and the office cookie swap!) got Hot Chocolate Cookies!
The Three Bite Rule - Hot Chocolate Cookies
I finally posted about the finals for the burger competition.

January will have some fun foods. I have a series coming up and I’m prepped ahead which feels good. I over-indulged a bit over the holidays and didn’t sleep as well as usual. I’m glad have some slower days and be back to my routine before heading back to work.

The Preschooler Guy:

The holiday season is magical at age 4! Visiting Santa was so fun and he was excited and brave! He got a Captain America costume, mask, and shield from Santa. He barely took it off since he got it. His other favorite items were dinos, his sister’s musical instruments, and headphones. Food-wise, he’s still into pasta but rice is out of fashion.

The Toddler Girl:

The little girl was a bit nervous to meet Santa but she held it together! She got a baby stroller for her doll. She loves it! Her other favorite items were a penguin winter hat, music instruments, and doll bottles. Food-wise, she loves dipping and eats almost everything we give her.

This year’s Goals:

Year of beauty! I got reusable make up remover pads!
Prep intentional sides and veggies: I’ll keep at it.
Eat more fish: The kids are loving salmon with everything bagel seasoning.
Blog some series: Dec didn’t feel like the time to launch one. Hang on for Jan!
Focus decluttering/organizing to an area: Baby toys are on their ways to new homes!
Share more books on instagram: We hit the library a few times but I didn’t share much.
Prioritize workouts: I’m 65/100 through 100 morning meltdown.
What I’m reading: I loved Meet Me in Monoco for a lighter and sweet but interesting story. 
What I’m listening to:
Bachelor Party podcast has been counting down the most dramatic seasons. It is so funny to think back to some such a long time ago.
What I’m watching: all the Christmas movies!

Hot Chocolate Cookies

I baked! It happens so rarely that I feel like it requires skywriting with “I did a thing”! In full disclosure, I did not make this recipe up but I’m not 100% sure of the origins. Ms. L gets all the credit as these are a staple in her arsenal of skills. I tweaked ever-so-slightly. They were great!
The Three Bite Rule - Hot Chocolate Cookies

Hot Chocolate Cookies

Ingredients: (makes 4 dozen)

1 cup sugar
2/3 cup brown sugar
2 sticks room temperature butter
2 eggs
1 teaspoon vanilla
3 1/4 cups flour
4 packages Hot Chocolate Mix (not sugar free)
1 teaspoon salt
1 1/4 teaspoon baking soda
1 cup white chocolate chips
1 cup semi-sweet chocolate chips
2 cups mini marshmallows

Directions:

Preheat oven to 350-degrees.
Cream together sugars and butter until fluffy. Add eggs & vanilla.
In another bowl, whisk together dry ingredients. Slowly add dry ingredients to the butter mixture.
Add chocolate chips.
Roll into 1 inch balls and place on a baking sheet lined with parchment or a silpat. Bake for ~7 minutes.
Lightly press a few marshmallows in the top of each ball. Bake for another 4 minutes. Let cool for 1 minute on the tray, then on a cooling rack.
Enjoy!

The Three Bite Rule - Hot Chocolate Cookies
These were so good! I loved them and will definitely make them again. It seemed too mentally taxing for me to have 2 timers going for 2 rounds each so I just cooked 1 tray at a time. Had it been daytime, maybe I could have handled more than that.

They were perfectly cooked, and super cute amongst their cookie friends at a swap. I made 3 dozen for the swap and froze the rest to bake for Santa!

Build a Better Burger Final Competition

Wayyy back when, in mid-October, I had the final round of the Build a Better Burger Competition. Spoiler: I didn’t win, but it was really fun.
The Three Bite Rule - Build a Better Burger Finals
We flew home on a red-eye so I could be at a 9am meeting at work for a big event. Phew. It was such a whirlwind trip but I’m so grateful Mr. J and I got a getaway! I last went to wine country circa 2007 maybe? Mr. J hadn’t been and is now more into wine! Yay!

After wining the regional one in Boston, they didn’t immediately share a date for the finals (which I thought they mustttt have since it ended up being just 6 weeks later). I was really hoping it wouldn’t conflict with a big work event weekend. I ended up getting the flights & hotel stay, early and we left early, to get me back in time. The regional one was structured differently than the finals so I was always trying to nail-down details. Thankfully stars aligned for grandparents to babysit, availability at the kennel and time off work to get us to Napa!

Tuesday: Mr. J and I arrived in SF and drive out to our super cute hotel in St. Helena: Wydown Hotel. St. Helena is adorable! We popped over to Sterling Vineyard for a self-guided tastings and an aerial tram. It was fun but not the best intro to vineyards. It was a good chance to taste a few wines and to walk around at our own pace and see their vineyards from a gondola- after a day of flying and then a 2 hour car drive. We had dinner in Napa to stay up and adjust ourselves to the time difference.

Wednesday: We got up (early for wine country standards) and went out to see the redwoods about an hour away. It was awe-astounding and great to hike around for a few hours. Back in wine country and we grabbed lunch at Gotts Roadside and then we did a tasting at V. Sattui Winery. It was fantastic to have choices in what we wanted to try! I had a meeting with the other contestants to proof our ingredients and before a welcome dinner for the contestants and guests at the winery. The food was to-die for and it was so wonderful to really get to know the others in the competition.

Thursday: Competition day! I was all nerves. I took a walk and tried to just be ready. The 5 contestants had staggered start times alphabetically by last name. I was 4th! I had to present each of the six judges with half a burger in 60 minutes. Mr. J really tried to keep me calm. I was so nervous!

The Three Bite Rule - Build a Better Burger Finals
There was so much time- kind of too much time since the fried egg really had to be last. This round, they had to be sliced which was my biggest stressor. I was physically shaking for the last 10 minutes. Presenting to the judges was much easier than the final few minutes of cook time! The judges seemed to have really positive reactions for me. Their suggestions included toasting my burger buns and another suggested using a really Parisian stinky cheese. I’ll definitely take the note to toast the bun- I’m not into stinky cheese so I’ll stick with the swiss- or boursin would be good too!

The Three Bite Rule - Build a Better Burger Finals
We cooked for the judges, and the culinary staff made our burgers for the attendees. Here was mine! Mr. J got to taste all the burgers.
The Three Bite Rule - Build a Better Burger Finals
The woman who won was ecstatic. She was lovely and I’m sure she was genuinely thrilled. Originally we thought we’d hear 3rd place, 2nd place, and the winner but they just announced the winner. It was tough because with so few, we each felt like we could have won. I know it is subjective and what chefs/culinary professionals choose might not be what the average person wants. I was disappointed not to win and exhausted. I guess we can each assume we were each almost the winner. The Three Bite Rule - Build a Better Burger Finals

Then we headed to the airport and flew home on our first red-eye! Phew!

I did love doing it (though I’m tough on events that aren’t seamless – I’m lookin’ at you regional round! I wanted dates! I wanted details!) but I wouldn’t enter the contest circuit all the time. The stress and anxiety is real! The prize absolutely made it worth it and Mr. J and I would absolutely not have had a trip away without the competition. I literally entered hoping to maybe get some free wine out of the deal so I’d say I came out on top! I feel proud of what I did- each round I definitely made the best version of my burger I could and pushing myself to do something new.

Enter! Put yourself out there! You never know when you’ll get a trip to wine country when you were hoping for a just some free wine!