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!

Mexican Mac & Cheese

These Mexican-inspired flavors into mac & cheese are sooo good. I made it wayyy back in 2011 but I thought since I love it so, it deserved a photo re-do. I use cheddar, corn, salsa, taco meat, and top it with tortilla chips. Sometimes I throw in tomatoes, green chilis, and black beans.

mex_mac_tobake_590_390

Ingredients:

1/2 pound ground beef, chicken, or turkey
4 tbs taco seasoning
1/2 pound elbow pasta
1 cup corn
8 oz shredded cheddar
3 tbs flour
3 tbs butter
1 1/2 cup milk
2 cups tomatoes, chopped
1/4 cup salsa
1 cup tortilla chips, crumbled

Directions:

Bring plenty of salted water to boil for the pasta.
In a large pan, cook the ground meat until cooked through. Drain, and add taco seasoning, a splash of water, and reduce heat to low.
Add the pasta to the boiling water, and cook according to the package. Be careful not to overcook.
In a medium pot, melt the butter over medium heat. Add the flour and stir as the roux becomes a paste. Cook for about 3 minutes until it changes from yellow to light tan.
Whisk in the milk and until smooth. Add in 3/4 of the cheese, stirring until smooth. Add the last 2 tbs of taco seasoning.
When the pasta is mostly cooked, add in the corn for the last 2 minutes of cooking.
Remove from the heat, and stir in the taco meat and tomatoes.
The Three Bite Rule - Mexican Mac & Cheese
Preheat the oven to 375-degrees.
Drain the pasta and the corn. Then add to the cheese sauce mix.
The Three Bite Rule - Mexican Mac & Cheese
Gently add the pasta in and mix. Then spread into a baking dish sprayed with non-stick spray, dotting with salsa and sprinkling in the last of the shredded cheese.
The Three Bite Rule - Mexican Mac & Cheese
Top with crumbled tortilla chips.
Cover and bake 15 minutes.
Uncover, and bake another 10 minutes.
The Three Bite Rule - Mexican Mac & Cheese
Serve with salsa and enjoy!

I really love the taco seasoning flavors and some of the taco-inspired-additions. The baking time gives it a chance to really come together, and is perfect timing to get everything else washed and away by the time it comes out. I don’t make it very spicy but you can amp it up a notch if you like!
The Three Bite Rule - Mexican Mac & Cheese

BLT Burger

This burger became something more special than I thought it was going to be. It’s nice how dinners can still surprise me.

The Three Bite Rule - BLT Burger

Ingredients:

1/4 pound ground beef/chicken/turkey
2-3 tbs sundried tomato pesto
2 tbs minced garlic
2 slices of bacon per burger
sliced cheddar
sliced tomato
lettuce
brioche rolls

Directions:

Mix together the ground meat, sundried tomato pesto, garlic, salt & pepper. (I had ground chicken, Mr. J had ground beef)
The Three Bite Rule - BLT Burger
Form into patties and grill until cooked to your liking.
Meanwhile, pan fry the bacon until crisp.
Optional: mix up some garlic aoli with mayo, garlic powder, minced garlic, salt & pepper
Assemble the burgers with sliced cheddar, bacon, tomato & lettuce.
The Three Bite Rule - BLT Burger
I loved this one! The sundried tomato pesto MADE this burger. It wouldn’t have been as delicious without it. I had in the fridge and can’t remember what I had used it for. The expiration date said it was good-to-go so in it went!
The Three Bite Rule - BLT Burger

Suggested adaptations: 

BLT Burger – burger patty + chicken breast marinated with tomato pesto = chicken BLT
BLT Burger + chopped bacon into the burger + tomato pesto as a spread on the roll = tweak on the BLT burger

4th of July Cookout Ideas

I wanted to throw out some ideas for your holiday weekend. I’m excited for some swimming at my parents’ pool and my hometown fireworks and then a trip to the lake in Maine. Windsor doesn’t even know he’s going to get to swim!!! He’ll be so excited!

Whether you’re hosting and doing the whole menu or just need to bring something, here are my favs.

For a salad:
Corn, Avocado, & Cucumber salad takes 10 minutes to prep but will outshine the run-of-the-mill potato salads, or just provide a fun alternative.
corn_salad_mixed_590_390
or I love this Ramen Broccoli Slaw, which also takes 10 minutes. I like it with broccoli slaw but shredded cabbage works too.
The Three Bite Rule - Ramen Slaw
or Greek Pasta Salad with cukes, tomatoes, and feta.

For a burger: 

Ranch Chicken Burgers are always a hit (and deserve a redo)
Onion Dip Burgers are so fun with dried onion soup to mix in, and some french onion dip on top!
The Three Bite Rule - Onion Burger
or check out some of my other fav burgers. A burger bar with all different toppings and a few “specialty” burger ideas on a menu.


For a drink: 

Instant Sangria doesn’t need to sit all day, so if you forget you can whip this up without a lot of lead time.
or creamsicle cocktails
creamcicle_cup_590_390
For dessert: 
S’mores Bread Pudding has 4th of July written all over it, and you can make it in advance and warm it up.
The Three Bite Rule - S'mores Bread Pudding
or PB & J bars
gramwich_cut_590_390
Happy Independence Day!

June Recap

June has been lovely, and slower paced which I’m loving. I’ve abbreviated my quantity of posts but hopefully you’re still enjoying them. June was pretty meat-less now that I look back.

I did have some really delicious food outings. I went to The Painted Burro and had an amazing duck taco. I had a weeknight date to Figs Boston for some pizza. I went to a food truck festival and almost passed out, so I didn’t take any photos after I finally securing some water. I’m thankful for how many not-too-hot days we’ve had. I spent one Sunday by the pool after hitting of my fav local doughnut joint.

I really loved this super simple Veggie Pasta with Brown Butter Sauce
The Three Bite Rule - Brown Butter Pasta
This Marinated Cucumber Salad and this Spinach & Tomato Tortellini Salad seemed like good summer staples.

I figured we were due for a re-do of zucchini fritters
The Three Bite Rule - Zucchini Fritters

Sis and I took Mom to tea for a belated Mother’s Day outing. It was awesome. I loved it! Let’s have tea and scones every afternoon.
The Three Bite Rule - Afternoon Tea
Mr. J’s birthday burger was a great one! I was worried I wouldn’t come up with a new theme for the traditional burger but this one was great. It was a German burger: pretzel rolls, caramelized onions, mustard, swiss cheese, and a touch of horseradish. I also tossed together some truffle parmesan fries. Can’t beat that!
The Three Bite Rule - German Burgers

 

Let’s check on my goals: 
Buy myself flowers more often - The Year of the flower is going strong, this month was a home ground peony and then this month also had some lupine from the highway in Maine.
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 did a zumba class…not quite the same.
make more cocktails – totally forgot. Stay tuned. I issued a mojito “cross country challenge” to @jessfuel