Pineapple, Cucumber & Mint Salad

This salad served to clients at work made me want to make it ASAP. I love fresh pineapple and since the little one will always eat cucumbers, it means we always have some around. My mint plants are going gang-busters so poof! This salad was born. I planned to make pulled pork int he crockpot so this was perfect alongside it! I also would definitely chop it up more and use it as a relish. Yum!
The Three Bite Rule - Pineapple, Cucumber, Mint Salad

Ingredients:

1/2 cucumber, mostly pealed
1 cup fresh pineapple
1/2 shallot
8-10 mint leaves
1 tablespoon lime juice
1 teaspoon olive oil

Directions:

Chop the cucumber & seed, if necessary. Chop pineapple, shallot, and mint. Add it all to a bowl.
The Three Bite Rule - Pineapple, Cucumber, Mint Salad
Add in the lime juice & olive oil. Toss well.
The Three Bite Rule - Pineapple, Cucumber, Mint Salad
Refrigerate until serving, or serve immediately.
Enjoy!
The Three Bite Rule - Pineapple, Cucumber, Mint Salad
I thought this was perfect with the pork. I was so glad to have something zippy and fresh. This salad was so fast to throw together. The pork cooked all day in the crockpot and it was the fastest dinner to get together. Uhh it was just. so. ideal on a hot hot hot night. The leftover pork will be frozen and probably will go inside tacos. I’d really love this cuke & pineapple all diced up as a relish on a taco or sandwich.

Seriously, make this for your next BBQ and everyone will appreciate this cool, sweet, light, refreshing salad.

Margarita Pasta Salad

I road tested this pasta salad out and turned it into a meal by making it a vehicle for taco salads. It features flavors of a margarita, lime, with a touch of salt. I heard a tip of tossing the pasta in vinegar while it cools so I wanted to try it out. I think it works a bit, I don’t know that is changes the pasta salad to out of this world, but it totally has more flavor than many run-of-the-mill pasta salads.
The Three Bite Rule - Margarita Pasta Salad
Ingredients:
1/2 pound rotini pasta
3 tablespoons apple cider vinegar
1/2 cup mayonnaise
1/4 cup sour cream
1/3 cup margarita mix
1/4 teaspoon chili powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 tomato chopped
1 cup roasted corn
1/2 cucumber
Green onions, chopped
fresh lime squeezed & zested (optional)

Directions:
Boil the pasta and drain then toss with the apple cider vinegar. Refrigerate at least 30 minutes before dressing it.
Whisk together the mayo, sour cream, margarita mix, chili powder, and salt.
The Three Bite Rule - Margarita Pasta Salad
If the pasta hasn’t completely chilled, then cover the dressing and mix later. If the pasta has already been chilled, then toss in the dressing.
Add in the veggies and herbs.
The Three Bite Rule - Margarita Pasta Salad
Enjoy!

I think this would be great at a BBQ. I think it could have had more lime-ness. Next time I’ll juice a lime and zest it up. We topped them with taco-salad toppings like taco meat, avocado, and salsa. It was great for a bit of change from the usual taco salad. I used up some taco meat from the freezer and it involved very minimal cooking…many birds, one stone!
The Three Bite Rule - Margarita Pasta Salad

California Burger

I know. Long time no see. I honestly haven’t cooked anything worth blogging. I’ve been capitalizing on the fast-cooking, low-oven use dinners that can be on the table fast and easy. There are always a few burgers on my list and I threw this one together to feature avocado, lots of herbs, and a zippy sauce like In-N-Out. Let’s preface with the fact that I’ve never been to In-N-Out but apparently the sauce is pretty fab and there are 1,000 versions so I whipped one up.

The Three Bite Rule - Cali Burger
Our herb garden is going hard-core so I chopped up a whole bunch for these to keep the burgers feeling fresh. The sterotypical choice would be avocado, red onion, and sprouts but I’m not so into sprouts and I really wanted to pickle some red onions, but not enough to make a trip to the grocery store just for those.

Ingredients:

1/4 cup mayo
1 tablespoon sour cream
2 tablespoons ketchup
1 teaspoon yellow mustard
1 teaspoon relish
1 teaspoon white vinegar
1 teaspoon worcestershire sauce
1/2 teaspoon lemon juice
sprinkle salt
sprinkle salt
2 burger rolls
~1/2 pound ground meat (I used pork, Mr. J used beef)
1/2 white onion
1 tablespoon fresh herbs chopped each (I used chives, lemon thyme, oregano, & par-cel)
2 slices white cheddar
lettuce
avocado

Directions:

Mix together the sauce: mayo, sour cream, yellow mustard, relish, vinegar, wocestershire sauce, lemon juice, salt & pepper. Then let it hang in the fridge until serving.
The Three Bite Rule - Cali Burger
Chop the onion & herbs and add to the meat with some salt & pepper.
The Three Bite Rule - Cali Burger
Form into patties and preheat the grill or grill pan.
The Three Bite Rule - Cali Burger
Serve the burgers with lettuce, avocado, and plenty of sauce!

These were great. They were totally herby and the sharp cheddar was a good contrast to the sweet almost-thousand-island-dressing. I liked how much flavor the burgers had and I love the slight crunch onion still has while cooking mixed into the burger.

The Three Bite Rule - Cali Burger

Edible Gifts for the Summer

I’ve been working on some favors/parting gifts for some of my summer work events with a foodie crowd and was just so jazzed about them that I a) want to be a Pinterest-aficionado in my personal life and b) want to host all the food themed parties! Until either one happens, here are some favorites should you be in the market for a hostess gift, a party favor, or a consumable treat!

Infused sea salts:
I saw so many out there if you’re looking to purchase them already to give: This sampler looks great to tie a Thank You note to & let guests guests choose their own flavor!
Etsy SullivanTeaShop
I also totally want to make my own for personal use. Pinterest seems to think it is super easy…we’ll see how THAT goes. Sea Salt + dried herbs from my garden seems pretty fun to me! Can I dry my own herbs? We shall see! They’re flourishing so I might tackle it!

Grilling Rub: 
I’m giving grill rub out at 2 work events this summer. Because of the quantities, I got fun tiny tins & baggies for packaging of the house rub Chef uses on meat, fish, and vegetables. There are tons of recipes that are super cheap to make yourself (versus buying pre-made rub). Measuring & mixing dried herbs seems pretty foolproof!

Cookies:
My co-worker made these chocolate dipped shortbread cookies for a Bridal Tea Party. Sooo cute! I’m not really a baker, but what a lovely touch if you are baking inclined!
Tea Party
Mr. J’s birthday present included a “year of snacks/treats”. June’s theme was “hot & cold” which translated to ice cream sundae toppings of sea-salt caramel sauce, hot fudge, sprinkles, cherries, whipped cream, etc. July was “shareable” and I made loaded waffle fries that we enjoyed for dinner one night. I looove the gift of food!

Happy eating! Maybe this is the nudge I need to whip up some of my own BBQ rubs & spice mixes.

Chicken Bacon Ranch Calzone

Theeeese a a few of my favorite things…

I found some frozen roasted chicken in the freezer and decided it would fare best if cooked and would be perfect in a calzone. Add my fav flavors, and thus, a meal is born. I used roasted chicken, crispy bacon, chopped tomato, alfredo sauce, ranch seasoning, and mozzarella. I felt like a rockstar to prep this 75% of the way the night before and just finish it before serving. Boo-yah.

The Three Bite Rule - Chicken Bacon Ranch Calzone

Ingredients:

pizza dough
2 cups roasted chicken
3 strips of bacon
1 1/2 cups mozzarella (mine was a mix of fresh & shredded)
3 tbs dried ranch seasoning
1 cup alfredo sauce
1 small tomato, diced

Directions:

Preheat the oven & pizza stone (if using one) to 400-degrees.
Pan fry the bacon until crispy.
Warm the chicken in a medium pan over low heat and add 1 tablespoon of the ranch seasoning.
Lay the dough onto the pan or pizza stone, off center, for the filling to go on the bottom and for the rest to fold over.
Add chicken, tomatoes, cheese, alfredo, and ranch seasoning.
The Three Bite Rule - Chicken Bacon Ranch Calzone
Then repeat the layers making sure to get the filling all the way to the ends & edges.
The Three Bite Rule - Chicken Bacon Ranch Calzone
Fold the rest of the dough over the filling and pinch to close. Press down slightly to push the filling throughout the inside. Cut a few slits into the top to vent.
Bake 30 minutes until browned and crisped.
The Three Bite Rule - Chicken Bacon Ranch Calzone
Serve and enjoy!
The Three Bite Rule - Chicken Bacon Ranch Calzone
I knew we’d love this. What’s not to love? It was a perfect use for some leftover roasted chicken from the freezer (also the dough and bacon came from the freezer too). It was equally perfect that I prepped it the night before when I didn’t have to rush. I cooked it for about 20 minutes that night and just 15 minutes to serve. Dinner time is such a race against the clock and it was really nice to have this pretty ready. #winning
The Three Bite Rule - Chicken Bacon Ranch Calzone

What I Ate: Peanut Sesame Noodles

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.

I totally didn’t make this up by any means but there are lots of recipes out there. This is great warm or cold and for a very “pantry” dinner it is per-fect for those too-hot-to-be-creative or meals on a budget or what-the-heck-is-for-dinner meals. I wasn’t going to blog it, because hello, I’m sure you’ve seen this before or can find it 1,000 places. Every time I make something new and decide not to blog it I regret it. So, here’s a blogged the minute before taking a bite:

The Three Bite Rule - Peanut Sesame Noodles
I mixed it right in the bowl I served it in. This is real life. Whisk together the sauce and mess with the ratios to your taste. I used this recipe to start with. I had to share it because it was tasty and we ate every last noodle and the little guy, who was finishing dinner gobbled up a bunch of this!

Ingredients:
Spaghetti
Peanut butter
Soy sauce
Sesame Oil
rice vinegar
minced ginger
minced garlic
tiny bit of sriracha
sesame seeds & green onion to garnish

Directions:
Boil salted water for the pasta.
Whisk together peanut butter, soy sauce, sesame oil, rice vinegar, ginger, garlic, and sriracha.
Cook the pasta to al dente.
Mix most of the sauce into the pasta. Toss and add remaining sauce.
Enjoy!

The Three Bite Rule - Peanut Sesame Noodles

It was mild but additive. Interesting but comforting. Silky but with a small crunch. So good. I used black sesame seeds I recently re-descovered from sis’ trip to Japan a while back. I’d have loved sliced cucumber, chopped peanuts, and edemame on the side. Tonight it was just this and that was lovely.

I will absolutely make this again to munch with Mr. J while we watch the little one slurp long noodles beaming with pride when the whole thing makes it into his mouth.

Maple Bacon Creamed Corn

I was totally inspired by this lunch-lady-dude on Next Food Network Star when he made maple bacon creamed corn to top with a crab cake. I wish it were time for local fresh corn, but we’re not quite there yet. Instead, this is the snazziest freezer-side-dish ever.

Maple Bacon Creamed Corn - The Three Bite Rule
We grilled some chicken to serve over this sweet and smokey creamed corn. I couldn’t believe it…the little one gobbled almost a whole chicken thigh! He tends to choose the fruits/veggies/carbs over chicken but we just keep serving it. He had some regular corn and some of this maple bacon creamed corn.

The creamed corn took the same amount of time to cook as the chicken. Perfect!

Ingredients:

2 slices of bacon
1/2 yellow onion
2 tablespoons butter
2 1/2 cups corn
3 tablesoons of water
1/3 cup milk or cream
2 tbs maple syrup

Directions:

Pan fry the bacon.
While the bacon is cooking, chop the onion and add the onion pieces and butter to a heavy pan over medium-high heat. Let the onions cook until soft & translucent ~8 minutes.
Add in the corn (mine was frozen), the water, syrup, and the milk.
Maple Bacon Creamed Corn - The Three Bite Rule
Bring to a simmer and cook for about 5-10 minutes.
If using frozen corn, remove about 1/3 – 1/2 and blend or food process it a little bit. Break it down a bit without totally obliterating it. Fresh corn will likely break down a bit on is own.
Maple Bacon Creamed Corn - The Three Bite Rule
Add that back in, stir, and then add in the crispy bacon.
Maple Bacon Creamed Corn - The Three Bite Rule
Stir while cooking another minute or two. Serve and enjoy!
Maple Bacon Creamed Corn - The Three Bite Rule
I loved the sweet maple-y bacon flavors with spiced grilled chicken. It was a quick & unusual side dish for us with some pretty easy grilled chicken thighs. I like a new thing to go with something hands-off/no-stress/straightforward other foods. It would have been ideal to have a sharp & peppery arugula salad with this, but this was what we could make happen. This family dinner outside was glorious.

Independence Day Checklist

I’m so looking forward to this holiday long weekend. If you haven’t already planned a festive meal or two here’s what I 100% recommend:

You need burgers: 
I make lotssss of burgers. My favs are Ranch Chicken Burgers (also serves well over salad if you have a health-conscious crowd), or Parisian Burgers (not as easy for a large crowd).

I love a build-your-own when hosting. Set out a burger bar with lots of fun toppings. I just did this with sliders and posted a few I recommended (a frame with Cowboy Burger = BBQ sauce + cheddar + caramelized onions & a few others).

vermont_burg_590_390
You need a side: 
Plan a fun one + a super easy/hands-off/crowd pleaser.
Roasted Beets & Potatoes is a good one that can sit out for quite awhile.
Ramen Salad with Broccoli Slaw is so addicting.
Basil Vinaigrette for Orzo, Tomato, and mozzarella salad is so great with any shape pasta for the idea of caprese.
The Three Bite Rule - Basil Vinaigrette Dressing for Orzo Salad
Most are easy enough to throw together in advance, or can be something deliciously simple like really cold watermelon or baked beans you added a tough of sriracha to or liquid smoke to. Serve in a crockpot to heat & serve all at once.

You need a signature beverage:
Rosemary Hard Lemonade is an easy one to pre-mix in a pitcher OR to serve the alcohol on the side for guests to mix to order for a cocktail versus mocktail. Don’t worry about a whole bar.

The Three Bite Rule - Rosemary Hard Lemonade
Freeze some lemonade ice cubes to go with ice tea for the best Arnold Palmer out there!

You need some snacks: 
A burrata & crostini bar is definitely fun, though maybe too much if you’re then serving a whole meal. Keep it simple!
My 100% crowd pleaser is this suuuuper easy Greek Dip: Hummus + tomato/cuke/pepper tossed with dressing + feta, served with pita chips or wheat thins.
greek_dip_plate_590_390
Also put out some chips. Done.

You need some dessert: 
I’d totally farm this out to one of your guests, but if you are compelled to serve something, vanilla ice cream with strawberries & blueberries (maybe pop open a jar of salted caramel sauce!) seems wayy better than a flag cake you’ve seen 100 times on pinterest.
Or these Peanut butter & Jelly bars are pretty awesome, and fool-proof plus you can make ‘em in advance.
gramwich_cut_590_390
You’ll have wayyy more fun if you are a happy host. Prep in advance, put the first to arrive to work…then they won’t feel awkward. Have some tunes already on, offer them a drink, then say “sure, you can carry this out to that table”. It puts everyone at ease.

My fav hosting tips:
1) make a list & prioritize your prep. I literally number what has to happen first so I can have things pretty much cleaned up before guests arrive.

2) know what you’re serving in what vessel. I lay the bag of chips into the bowl they’re going in so it is ready, out of the way, and so I’m not standing on a chair reaching for a bowl while trying to chat with somebody. See also: putting your guests to work.

3) get showered & dressed early enough. It is easier to slice your watermelon with guests there than it is to be dripping wet & in a towel when somebody arrives!

4) a sign I’m getting old: wear some good shoes if you’re spending the morning grabbing the cooler from the attic, wiping off the patio furniture, chopping veggies, etc. You then won’t be pooped when it comes time to party!

5) keep it simple enough to actually accomplish. You don’t need to offer 8 sides or accommodate 100 things each guest would like to eat. I like anything I can make in advance, and to be balanced enough that there’s something fun to eat but also that I’m not ready for a nap when the time actually comes. Not hosting an actual meal is pretty great too. I just hosted a happy-hour get together with: a top-your-own crostini station; fruit with yogurt dip; chips & goldfish. I offered sangria & some summer beer. It was so easy.

Bonus) some little details are really worth it. Setting the mood by playing music & offering a drink are so great when people first arrive. Set out sunlotion/bugspray/towels or whatever everyone might need before they need it (ditto on the spare toilet paper). Label your food so people don’t have to ask you what’s what (multi-ingredient foods, or drinks in pitchers- especially when containing alcohol, or if you have lots of offerings). I think themes come together best when mapped out- I print suggested combos & pop them into frames to help. I like things in writing so I can actually talk to people…a note for what is trash/recycling for you, or “more drinks inside” or “come on around, we’re out back” or whatever is helpful.

Happy hosting!

June 2016 Recap

This was such a good month! It was good for food, good for the little one, good for some fun family time, and such beautiful weather. I’m really loving this summer. The babe is such a fun age and he’s so happy to play, and go outside, and see things. It is so lovely not to be stressed about work events. I’ve been so glad to have some fun weekend plans and pool time. Mr. J is on an earlier train home which is ahh-mazing.

Mr. J’s annual birthday burger was a hit! I made a mac & cheese stuffed burger topped with caramelized onions & tomato.
The Three Bite Rule - Mac & Cheese Stuffed Burger
I seemed to be all about the breakfast with these sleepy pigs and blankets.
The Three Bite Rule - Sleepy Pigs in Blankets
And this peanut butter & nutella stuffed french toast.
The Three Bite Rule - PB Nutella French Toast
I don’t always focus on the side dishes but this quick bacon blue cheese pasta salad was a fun one.
The Three Bite Rule - Bacon Blue Cheese Pasta Salad
The little One: 
He’s so into playing outside. I got a lawn mower toy at a yard sale for a $1 and he loooves “mowing” the driveway. More than that, Mr. J assembled such a sweet swing set area for him just the other day. T could play there forever. We’re reading books non-stop. He’ll read about 7 in a row! He has more and more words coming. He starts waterplay at daycare and I know he’ll love it. He’s eating all things (minus eggs). Strawberry picking was a HIT. He ate his weight in strawberries.

13442449_639918647538_7083215395831425909_o
2016 Goals:

The Year of the: Seasonal Decor I got a red/white/blue bucket to be a napkin holder. My town is seriously into flag day so I’ll have to stock up.
do something a different way: I fit in more weeknight activities which helps me feel like I’m making the most of the summer.
drink more water: yes, I got a new water bottle and it has me totally drinking about 20 oz more water than usual each day.
make more interesting side dishes: yes! These corn & zucchini fritters were fun.
cook more soups & sauces: uh-huh! This sundried tomato pesto sauce was really great.
watch more movies: we watched Our Brand is Crisis
make working out a higher priority: I’m trying to not hate running. I’m keeping the runs short and do-able. I’ve spaced them out and am listening to my fav podcasts. So far so good. We’ll see what happens.

Root Beer Barbecue Sauce

I made this root beer barbecue sauce and made it very heavy on the root beer. Seriously root-beer-y. I think it jazzed up a weeknight, and definitely woke up these pork chops.
The Three Bite Rule - Root Beer BBQ Sauce

Ingredients:

1 yellow onion, finely diced
2 tablespoons minced garlic
1 1/2 cup ketchup
2 teaspoons dijon mustard
1/4 cup molasses
1/2 cup brown sugar
1 tablespoon liquid smoke
1 teaspoon Worcestershire sauce
2 tablespoons cider vinegar
salt & pepper
2 cups root beer, and 1/2 cup reserved

Directions:

In a heavy pot, saute onion in a little olive oil over medium heat. Cook for about 5-minutes, until softened and translucent.
The Three Bite Rule - Root Beer BBQ Sauce
Add in garlic, ketchup, mustard, molasses, mustard, brown sugar, liquid smoke, Worcestershire sauce, and vinegar.
The Three Bite Rule - Root Beer BBQ Sauce
Add in pepper, salt, and root beer. Stir well and simmer for 45 minutes.
The Three Bite Rule - Root Beer BBQ Sauce
Add in the last of the root beer and remove from the heat.
Allow to cool, and enjoy!

I loved this! I think it had the root beer flavor, especially the sauce that we added after the cooking. We served it with our fav raw broccoli salad with raisins. I’m not so into cream soda, but I can see that being a hit in this too with a few tweaks.

The Three Bite Rule - Root Beer BBQ Sauce