Loving Lately

Eckkk. We’ve all been sick in the C house for what feels like forever. Everytime I think we’re doing better another symptom creeps up. I’m 100% looking forward to a long weekend with no plans but to recuperate. I’m not gone, just a busy time and blogging has taken a backseat. Here are my recent items holding a spot in my heart.

We’re growing lots more herbs this year! Wait till you see what I did with some basil. Hint: it wasn’t pesto. Wait till you see what I want to make pesto out of! Hint: it isn’t basil. Tricky tricky!

Recently a few of my favorite ladies joined me for a quickie dinner at Cinquecento Roman Trattoria. Guys, they have these Neighborhood Nights on Sundays & Mondays. $20 for a choice of salad, choice of pasta, and a glass of wine. Plus free parking. Love it. It was so fun, such a steal, and it worked out so perfectly. We went sort of early-bird timing but I was home in time to see the little one go to bed. I had a polenta gnocchi which was so fun.
neighbor nights

I made this baked oatmeal but swapped raspberries for blueberries and looooved it. I added flaxseeds & brewers yeast to give this a powerful morning punch. Yes, cold: I’m trying to knock you right outta my head.

I had two work events with cocktail party food. I had nothing to do with either food display but it is an important life lesson:
1st one: had 2 cheeses with some grapes and 2 kinds of crackers. So lovely and really simple. Crowd pleasing with 1 crumbly cheese and 1 softish cheese.
2nd one: had a premade tray: cubed cheese, pepperoni, and a sleeve of crackers, all of which had been refrigerated, resulting in sweaty pepperoni & soggy crackers. #fail I’m sure this cost only a tiny bit less than the 1st one.
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Happy holiday weekend!!

What I Ate: Pulled Pork Panini with Slaw

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 had one colossal pork shoulder that I cooked in the crockpot months ago. The rest of it got frozen in about 4 batches for another 2-4 meals per batch. So. Huge. I didn’t want all of it to be the same so I was eyeing some of it to become paninis. How Sweet It Is made some pulled pork & beer cheese sandwiches and it made me think: I don’t put cheese with pulled pork nearly enough. I thought about boursin since that elevates a grilled cheese like woah, but I when it came around, I wasn’t feeling that texture. I wanted stretchy cheese!

The Three Bite Rule - Pork Panini with Slaw
I threw the slaw on these as a last minute for a crunch. People in the south are OK with slaw on their pork so I figured it was fine, or “authentic” for my paninis. Though, spell-check is NOT ok with the plural of panini.

Ingredients:

1 1/2 cups pulled pork
1/4 cup bbq sauce
sliced colby jack cheese
3/4 cup coleslaw
4 slices of bread

Directions:

Heat a panini press or grill pan to medium-high heat, brushed with olive oil.
Toss the pork into the bbq sauce. Then lay cheese onto the bread, topping with pork.
The Three Bite Rule - Pork Panini with Slaw
Put the first half onto the panini press or grill pan so the bread can start toasting and the cheese begins melting. Cook for about 3-5 minutes.
Top with slaw and 2nd piece of bread.
The Three Bite Rule - Pork Panini with Slaw
Grill for 2 more minutes just to toast the top slice of bread.
Slice & enjoy!
The Three Bite Rule - Pork Panini with Slaw
The tang of the bbq sauce with the sharp cheese and the cool slaw is perfect. Just perfect. It has everything I want in a sandwich. I think the panini bread crunch is wayyy better than just any old roll.

Teriyaki Chicken Wing Pizza

Seriously. I won’t run out of pizza toppings anytime soon. This pizza was inspired by teriyaki chicken wings. It was sweet and tangy from the teriyaki sauce and I mixed up the cheese using some cheddar. I loved it. I’ll put anything on a pizza! Hopefully by the end of this post I will have successfully learned to spell teriyaki correctly…not something my brain does naturally.

The Three Bite Rule - Teriyaki Chicken Wing Pizza

Ingredients:

2-3 chicken thighs, boneless & skinless
1 cup of teriyaki marinade
1/2 pizza dough ball
1 1/2 cups combined shredded mozzarella & cheddar cheese
2 green onions
1 cup bean sprouts

Directions:

Preheat the oven and pizza stone, if using one, to 400-degrees.
Dice the chicken into bite size pieces and saute over medium heat with 1/2 cup of teriyaki marinade until cooked through.
Work the dough into a thin circle and spread the dough onto the pizza stone, or roll it out with a bit of flour until the desired size. Poke a few holes in it with a fork and bake for 10 minutes, until the edges start to crisp.
Brush a few tablespoons of teriyaki marinade onto the slightly cooked pizza dough.
The Three Bite Rule - Teriyaki Chicken Wing Pizza
Top with cheeses and chicken. Then bake for 10 minutes, until the cheese melts and the crust gets brown & crispy.
The Three Bite Rule - Teriyaki Chicken Wing Pizza
Remove from the oven and top with bean sprouts & green onions. Let cool a few minutes before slicing.
The Three Bite Rule - Teriyaki Chicken Wing Pizza
The bean sprouts add a nice cool crunch, as do the green onions with a pop of color. I can’t picture this pizza without either one. The chicken thighs cooked in the marinade and then it functioning as the sauce adds some real flavor, moreso than just a drizzle over the top. The thighs have such a stronger chicken flavor than a chicken breast would, and they’re more like a wing than a breast would be too.

Ain’t no thing like a chicken wing!

The Three Bite Rule - Teriyaki Chicken Wing Pizza

Sausage, Broccoli Rabe, & Orecchiette Pasta

When the temp starts heating up I automatically think about grilling foods though, anything that doesn’t use the oven works for this season. I always see this pasta dish on restaurant menus and figured it would be nice even on a warm night since the sauce is pretty light.

The Three Bite Rule - Orecchiette, Broccoli Rabe & Sausage Pasta

I don’t cook broccoli rabe often. I find it somewhat bitter but it was a good contrast in this one and anything that makes for a different dinner is nice.

Ingredients:

1/2 pound of orecchiette pasta
3 sausage links, casting removed (sweet Italian or spicy)
1 bunch broccoli rabe, outer leaves discarded
1/2 cup chicken or vegetable broth
1/4 cup Parmesan cheese

Directions:

Bring salted water to a boil for the pasta.
In a large pan over medium high heat, cook the sausage all the way through, breaking it into smaller pieces with the back of a wooden spoon.
Chop the broccoli rabe into chunks, discarding the ends.
Remove the sausage with a slotted spoon to drain on a paper towel.
Add the pasta to the water and cook according to the package.
In the same pan as the sausage, in the oil, saute the broccoli rabe for about 10 minutes, until mostly cooked through.
The Three Bite Rule - Orecchiette, Broccoli Rabe & Sausage Pasta
Add in the broth and sausage and cook for about 3 minutes on medium high heat, then reduce to low heat.
The Three Bite Rule - Orecchiette, Broccoli Rabe & Sausage Pasta
Ladle out a cup of the starchy pasta water and set aside. Drain the rest of the pasta and add the pasta into the pan with the sausage, broccoli rabe, and broth. Stir well and sprinkle in some parmesan and ground black pepper. (Taste before adding any salt since the broth, cheese, and sausage might be salty enough.) Add in a splash of pasta water if it is too dry.
The Three Bite Rule - Orecchiette, Broccoli Rabe & Sausage Pasta
Sprinkle with more parmesan and enjoy!

This shape pasta is so cute. I liked the really light touch of a sauce on here full of sausage flavor and some broth.
The Three Bite Rule - Orecchiette, Broccoli Rabe & Sausage Pasta

Mother’s Day Lessons

My mom taught me about beauty, though that might not be the first thing she’d think of. She didn’t teach me about makeup or shopping, since she isn’t into either of those. She taught me the beauty of the arts – like live theater productions from an early age or all the musicals we could borrow from the library on VHS instead of Disney movies. She taught me the beauty of words – from books to cleverly written to-do lists written sometimes in Latin, to a clue on a Christmas gift so she’d remember what she wrapped. She taught me the beauty of homemade gifts and treats – like quilts and desserts from scratch. She taught me the beauty of real food – like quiche, lobster, and garden tomatoes. She taught me the beauty of nature – with trips to National Parks and for being green before that was a thing. She taught me the beauty of what love looks like – from loving my own baby to always celebrating the love I share with Mr. J.

Mother’s Day has a whole new meaning now but I’m so thankful for many lessons but I owe her all the credit of learning to cook. Some of her signature dishes nobody can make like she can, but I love trying, learning her tips and inspiring eachother.

Her quiche is unrivaled. Mine isn’t quite there, but it is getting better. My recent best one was Bacon, Cheddar & Caramelized Onion Quiche
The Three Bite Rule - Quiche Lorraine
She and I both love shrimp and scallops. I learned to make pan-seared scallops by seeing her make it look easy!scallop_plate_590_390

Freezing leftovers or additional ingredients is something Mr. J and I both picked up from our mothers. They can each go into the freezer, root around, and come out with exactly what they were looking for. Amazing.

I leave the clam chowder to her, but corn chowder is another good one.  She also agrees that bacon makes everything better.
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Zucchini or Eggplant fritters are a dish I credit to her.
The Three Bite Rule - Zucchini Fritters
Thanks Mom!

Eggplant Parmesan Sandwiches

I love a meat-less meal into my weekly meal planning for ease, since they tend to be faster meals, and for cost, since they tend to be cheaper meals too. Breaded eggplant is one of my favorite Trader Joe’s freezer items. I popped a few into the toaster oven while I got the rest of this quick sandwhiches ready for the taste of a slow cooked eggplant parmesan dinner.

The Three Bite Rule - Eggplant Parm Sandwiches

Ingredients:

breaded eggplant (about 2-3 slices of eggplant per sandwich)
1 cup tomato sauce
4 oz fresh mozzarella cheese
1/4 cup ricotta cheese
sprinkle of Parmesan cheese
4 rolls or slices of focaccia

Directions:

Bake the eggplant at 400-degrees until crisp and warmed through.
Spread the ricotta onto the bottom roll halfs, then top with eggplant.
The Three Bite Rule - Eggplant Parm Sandwiches
Top the eggplant with slices of mozzarella and bake for 5 minutes to melt the cheese.

The Three Bite Rule - Eggplant Parm Sandwiches
Spread tomato sauce onto the top rolls and sprinkle with parmesan. Close up the sandwiches and bake for 5 minutes at 400-degrees to warm everything.
The Three Bite Rule - Eggplant Parm Sandwiches
Enjoy!

I have a serious love affair with ricotta and I think that’s what helps this sandwich really feel like a long baked eggplant parm dinner. The focaccia rolls were so good for this. I have a few more in the freezer and will have to think about their next use.
The Three Bite Rule - Eggplant Parm Sandwiches
I paired these quickie sandwiches with some salad and had a great dinner ready in no time. These sandwiches would be a good use for any leftover fresh mozzarella or ricotta you have. Or asiago or provolone would be great too.
The Three Bite Rule - Eggplant Parm Sandwiches

April 2015 Recap

I’m so happy it is spring! Sunshine! Flowers! Gahhh! I just want to be outside all the time!!! April was a fast and furious month with my return to work just in time to kick my event planning into full gear. I was so thankful to have a week of half days for the initial return so I could practice using my brain and wearing pants that button. Mr. J was home with the little one for 2 weeks and I really loved seeing them really bond while I went back to work.

I think the twice a week blogging is here to say. It seems to be a better schedule for me to have the chance to cook some good stuff but also not feel pressured to have every meal blog-worthy. Repeating meals or cooking without photos is nice, ya know?

My salad dressing this month was early but I was so happy with my Tuna Nicoise salad. It was the winner this month as my favorite. It also was my only seafood post this month. Oops. I’ll get on that.
The Three Bite Rule - Tuna Nicoise Salad with Dijon Vinaigrette
This month I was also really proud of my bacon, cheddar, & caramelized onion quiche. Best one I’ve ever made. Plus I have more caramelized onions in the freezer just waiting for a chance to hop into a panini or ontop of a pizza!
Bacon Cheddar & Caramelized Onion Quiche - The Three Bite Rule
I really loved this chicken meatball, cranberry, kale, and onion alfredo pasta dish. So good. This was my restaurant recreation that I just adored. It was oddly fulfilling to challenge myself to take the elements of a truly special dinner and recreate it as a quick weeknight meal.
The Three Bite Rule - Chicken Alfredo Meatballs
The “smokehouse” burger with smokey aoli, havarti, caramelized onions, and pretzel rolls!

The Little One:
3 months

We’re so in love. He’s just a joy. That doesn’t mean every day, or every minute is rainbows & unicorns, but Baby T is happy and that spreads to us. He is smiley and coos a lot. Baby T’s hair is cracking me up. There’s so much on the back and not much on the sides right now. He’s growing so quickly! Sometimes I look at him and think he’s like a wiggly little boy rather than my baby! I imagine I’ll do that for the rest of his life, am I right?! The other day I took the babe in the stroller and brought one of the dogs on a walk. I felt like a million bucks getting the 2 out at once! Windsor is such a good dog and I was really proud of him. To show my appreciation, I was realllly careful not to bump him with the stroller.

Likes: daycare! Phew! It was an easier adjustment returning to work and starting him at daycare than I thought. They’re really sweet and he seems happy. We all did well with the transition. He loooves daddy! This month especially Baby T’s face lights up and he cracks a huge smile when he spots his Dad. It is really sweet to see. He likes grabbing at toys hanging above him and holding toys.

Dislikes: sometimes the early evening nap/snooze isn’t on the agenda for more than 15 minutes. He had a few nights where he was vocal about not getting back to this nap.

Progress on this year’s goals: 

The Year of the Earring: ehh. I got several pairs for my birthday so I still had a few to be “new” this month.  

make more salad dressings: YES! I did it! I made dijon vinaigrette for my tuna nicoise salad. Seriously so easy.

factor more time into how long every-day tasks/trips will take: 
the daycare late fee is an incredible motivator/stressor to make this happen ;)

recreate restaurant menu items: 
I recreated a much faster version of the turducken meatball alfredo pasta I had from Isabella’s. Forget pinterest…restaurant inspiration is where it’s at.

be more adventurous with my reading selections: 
I didn’t read a ton, but I read The Children Act, which wasn’t amazing. Now I’m part way through Running the Books: The Adventures of an Accidental Prison Librarian. That one is more adventurous. I was all jazzed to read a Laura Ingalls Wilder Autobiography until I realized it was annotated. Yeah. It weighed about 5 pounds and had a zillion footnotes. You can’t just read that. 

use the crockpot more: 
Nothing this month. 

seafood once a month: 
I think tuna on my salad is going to have to count. I’ll do a better job in May, also since it is grilling season.  

 

Beet & Sweet Potato Flatbread

With spring in full bloom I wanted to make a flatbread to highlight veggies for a lighter/meatless meal. I also am crazed at work getting ready for my big event this week. This insta-dinner taking only a few minutes to throw together was ideal. With the babe at daycare and both Mr. J and I back to work, we’re getting into the new routine.

The Three Bite Rule - Beet & Sweet Potato Flatbread

I love roasted beets but they take awhile and it involves the oven cranking away and you have to be careful not to stain anything with the juice. And and and. Apparently I’m full of excuses as to why I don’t make them all the time. I spotted packaged beets at the grocery store. That is one prepared item I can totally get behind. The convenience of these is much appreciated. The foil-wrapped potatoes is a whole different story. Who can’t do that on their own?!

Have you seen these? I found these cooked beets in the produce area near coleslaw mixes. Totally worth it. I forget what I paid, but I’d do it again. Maybe $4ish for 3 large beets. Or, if the grocery store has a good salad bar you might even find beets there too for even cheaper. That’s a great source when you don’t need much of something for a recipe.
The Three Bite Rule - Beet & Sweet Potato Flatbread

Ingredients: (for 2 entree servings, or ~5 appetizer servings)

2 naan breads
2-3 beets, roasted
1/2 sweet potato, pealed
1/2 cup feta

Directions:

Preheat the oven to 400-degrees. Lay the naan on a baking sheet.
Slice the beets into thick slices and the sweet potato into thin slices.
Drizzle the naan with olive oil then top with slices of raw sweet potato and slices of the beets.
The Three Bite Rule - Beet & Sweet Potato Flatbread
Crumble the feta onto the top.
The Three Bite Rule - Beet & Sweet Potato Flatbread
Bake for about 10-15 minutes until the naan crisps a bit and the toppings warm through.
The Three Bite Rule - Beet & Sweet Potato Flatbread
Slice & enjoy!

I loved these. I loved how little time it took for something different. The feta was so good with the beets and since I most often use feta cool, it was about time to put it in something cooked! I was lucky the sweet potato was so thin or it’d never have cooked in time with everything else. Using prepared flatbreads takes this from a more involved meal to a real quickie. Pita breads would work well too.

10 minute cooktime is PER-FECT for a weeknight. You can’t even decide on takeout pizza toppings in that amount of time!

Chicken Meatball Alfredo with Cranberries

About a month ago, Mr. J and I left the little one at home with the most qualified babysitters (his grandparents) and we went on a date! It was our first time out without him and boy were we rusty on date planning. I had been eyeing a pub-ish restaurant with fun burgers and a great beer menu. Turns out, it is closed. womp. womp. We then went through 2 more options and set out for a 3rd spot. On a whim, we checked in at Isabella Restaurant (which was our 4th restaurant idea, where the wait can be an hour on a TUESDAY) and they just had a table for two open up. Perfect!

It is sooo dark in there so there’s never a chance for a photo but the menu is always creative, pretty seasonal, the portions are substantial, and everything they make is excellent. I wish it were a bit more affordable, but this splurge was fun to celebrate our first date out. I got Turducken Meatballs that were turkey/chicken/duck meatballs with dried cranberries, spinach and red onions in a parmesan cream sauce. The meatballs were ah-mazing and I knew I wanted to recreate it at home, but I simplified it. Don’t get scared off by the cranberries. They’re such a great addition and this pasta dish wouldn’t be the same without them. Ditto for the red onion.

The Three Bite Rule - Chicken Alfredo Meatballs
I used frozen chicken meatballs and ready-made alfredo sauce to turn my #restaurantrecreation into a speedy weeknight dinner. Everything cooks quickly so I had to move fast and keep an eye on it to not overcook anything. The meatballs I used were fully cooked and I didn’t want to obliterate the kale, onions, or cranberries so they were very lightly cooked.

Ingredients:

chicken/turkey meatballs (about 2-3 per person, I used frozen caramelized onion chicken meatballs)
1 15-oz jar alfredo sauce
refrigerated pasta (I used a 9 oz pkg of linguine)
1 tbs chopped garlic
2 cups chopped kale
1/4 cup red onion, sliced fine
1/4 cup dried cranberries

Directions:

Bring salted water to a boil for the pasta.
While the water heats, defrost the meatballs (if frozen) and chop the kale and onion.
Add the alfredo sauce to a large pan and add in the meatballs, garlic, onions, and kale over medium low heat. Cook for about 3-5 minutes, to warm everything and to cook the kale a bit.
The Three Bite Rule - Chicken Alfredo Meatballs
Stir, and add in the cranberries to cook for another 2 minutes.
The Three Bite Rule - Chicken Alfredo Meatballs
Cook the pasta according to the package. My fresh pasta only needed about 2 minutes. When al dente, add it to the pan with the sauce to cook just another minute or two.
The Three Bite Rule - Chicken Alfredo Meatballs
Serve immediately and enjoy!

The fresh pasta makes a huuuge difference and is a great touch for a special treat. I like that the onions add a bite with the cranberries providing a tang and touch of sweetness. Spinach or arugula would be good in here too instead of the kale. If I were going all out, I’d make the sauce (and meatballs) myself but throwing this together was just so easy but became different flavors for us. I doubt I’d think to use red onion.

Fun fact: if red onion is too strong or overwhelming, or if you’re using it raw, you can soak it in cold water for 3-5 minutes. It’ll tone it down a bit while still giving some flavor.

The Three Bite Rule - Chicken Alfredo Meatballs

What I Ate: Quick Greek Quinoa Bowls

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.

In an effort to mix up my lunch while still keeping it easy (and one-handed with the babe) I tossed together these quinoa bowls. I wanted something salad-y without lettuce. I was seeking farro or barley but came up short while grocery shopping. Really, I just wanted a different grain than I usually have but my grocery store is obsessed with moving everything around and I couldn’t find either one. It was a speedy shop while the little one napped in my cart and I figured I wouldn’t press my luck when he was happily napping. I made 2 servings and was glad to grab the other the following day.

The Three Bite Rule - Greek Quinoa Bowls

Ingredients:

Quinoa
tomatoes
English cucumbers
feta
Greek salad vinaigrette: 1/4 cup red wine vinegar; 1/4 cup olive oil; 1/2 tsp dried oregano; 1/2 tsp dried basil; 1 tsp lemon juice

Directions:

Cook the quinoa according to the package and spoon into bowls. I used about 1 cup prepared for each bowl.
The Three Bite Rule - Greek Quinoa Bowls
Chop and mix together the veggies and cheese
The Three Bite Rule - Greek Quinoa Bowls
Shake the dressing ingredients together in a jar.
Add in a little dressing and toss. Spoon veggies on top of the quinoa.
The Three Bite Rule - Greek Quinoa Bowls
Enjoy!

I ate one serving immediately and loved the warm-ish quinoa and the cool veggies. The tang from the vinegar dressing was perfect with the veggies and to season the quinoa a bit. The next day it was still good and I didn’t need more dressing. It might not be great a 3rd day as the sliced tomatoes could be a bit mealy by then. Prepping the quinoa and mixing the veggies the day you’re eating it would still make for an easy lunch too, or using whole cherry/grape tomatoes would give it a bit longer of a fridge-life.

The Three Bite Rule - Greek Quinoa Bowls