Calzone with Cabbage and flavors of a Reuben

One of my favorite pizza places is Portland Pie Company. I love seeing what their seasonal menu offers. I spotted a reuben inspired sandwich and thought I could vegetarian-ize it to skip the corned beef. I made it into a calzone and it was totally different than any others I’ve made. It has cabbage, peppers, swiss cheese, caramelized onions, and 1000-island dressing.

The Three Bite Rule - Reuban Inspired Veggie Calzone

Ingredients:

pizza dough
1/2 cabbage
2 tbs red wine vinegar
1 tsp whole grain mustard
1/4 red onion
1/2 bell pepper (green, yellow, orange)
8 oz swiss cheese
1/4 cup mayo
2 tbs ketchup
2 tbs relish
2 tbs onion, finely diced
salt & black pepper

Directions:

Preheat oven (and pizza stone, if using one) to 400-degrees. Chop the cabbage into thin slivers. Heat a large skillet to medium heat. Add the mustard and the vinegar, stirring to combine. Add in the cabbage, tossing to combine. The Three Bite Rule - Reuban Inspired Veggie Calzone
Cook for 5 minutes until softened, then remove from the heat. In a small skillet, caramelize the onions over medium heat. When the onions get tan-colored and caramelized, add the green onion chunks. Cook for 3-5 minutes. In a small jar, add mayo, ketchup, relish, onion, salt, and black pepper. The Three Bite Rule - Reuban Inspired Veggie Calzone
Shake up the 1000 island jar and taste. The Three Bite Rule - Reuban Inspired Veggie Calzone
Stretch the pizza dough out into a flat and even circle. Lay the dough onto a pan or pizza stone so the part of the dough that will become the bottom. Layer the cabbage, the onions and peppers, swiss cheese, and some teaspoons of 1000 island dressing. The Three Bite Rule - Reuban Inspired Veggie Calzone
Keep layering all the fillings to fill (and what feels like over-filling) the calzone. Fold the top over and pinch to close. Cut a few slits in the top to vent. Bake 30-minutes. The Three Bite Rule - Reuban Inspired Veggie Calzone
Let rest 5 minutes before slicing. The Three Bite Rule - Reuban Inspired Veggie Calzone
This was good. Maybe not amazing, but really good. I loved the acid of the vinegar, the light mustard flavor, and the creamy sweet 1000 island dressing. The veggies were crunchy and I liked that the swiss got to shine. I don’t eat corned beef but I can definitely see people liking that.

suggested adaptations: 
Reuben calzone + corned beef = a true reuben calzone
reuben calzone – pizza dough + wonton wrappers = reuben eggrolls

I like the idea of sandwiches as calzones, or pizzas for that matter. I’ve done a cheeseburger calzone that is sandwich inspired, and a sausage and peppers calzone that is sort of like a sandwich. Hmmm. Maybe my next calzone will be along the lines of a sandwich.

Chicken Bacon Ranch Pasta

Today is a weird day. Our heartstrings are tight here today for the 118th Boston Marathon. Last year’s events don’t feel that long ago. I still can’t believe it and Boston is so small that it all felt like my back yard. The event production in me cringes that these terrible events forever change this race. The foodie in me feels badly that there were several restaurants nearby with servers and bartenders who are still dealing with it. Every time I listen to the first hand accounts I cannot keep the tears back.  I can’t believe how many people have suffered hearing disabilities. There are so many who are still recovering, and I feel sorry for those who will not recover.

I’m thankful to have today off, for the first time ever. Mom and I are letting the pups run in the yard, whipping up something fun for lunch, and we’re casually watching the marathon. It seems right to settle in, enjoy the little things, and be together. In honor of the Boston Marathon, I figured on this day I should post pasta. It seems marathon-y. Not that this pasta is appropriate pre-marathon but it is a treat. It is true comfort to share today.

The Three Bite Rule - Chicken Bacon Ranch Pasta

Ingredients:

2 slices bacon, chopped
2 chicken breasts, chopped and marinated in Italian dressing
3 tbs ranch dressing mix
3/4 pound of spaghetti or fettuccine
2 tsp butter
2 tsp flour
1 1/2 cup milk
2 cups arugula, diced

Directions:

Pan fry bacon until crisp. Remove and drain the bacon leaving the bacon grease in the pan.
The Three Bite Rule - Chicken Bacon Ranch Pasta
Add chicken to the bacon pan, and cook through stirring occasionally.
The Three Bite Rule - Chicken Bacon Ranch Pasta
Add in a tsp of ranch mix to the chicken.
Bring salted water to a boil for the pasta.
In a large saucepan over medium heat, melt the butter. Add in the flour and combine to a paste. Cook for 2-3 more minutes, then whisk in the milk.
Add the rest of the ranch mix, reserving 1 tsp separately. Reduce the heat to medium low.
The Three Bite Rule - Chicken Bacon Ranch Pasta
Cook the pasta until al dente.
Add the pasta to the chicken skillet, with the sauce (if large enough) over medium heat.
Add in the chicken, bacon, arugula, and remaining ranch mix, tossing well to combine. Cook for 2-5 more minutes until the sauce reduces a bit.
The Three Bite Rule - Chicken Bacon Ranch Pasta

This was so good. I loved this. The flavors were strong. I liked the peppery arugula and just enough bacon but lots of bacon flavor with the chicken. The ranch is really undeniable. It was so good. This is so good with strong elements so I was glad I didn’t muck it up with too many flavors…like cheese.

suggested adaptations:
premade sauce + a grocery store roasted chicken = an easier chicken bacon ranch pasta
chicken bacon ranch pasta – arugula + spinach + chopped tomato – half the ranch mix = lighter flavored chicken bacon ranch pasta

Easter Brunch Ideas

Spring is in the air and Easter is on the calendar. Here’s a quickie round-up of make-and-take brunch ideas or ideas if you are hosting your own Easter festivities.

The first rule of brunch, is not to make everything more complicated than it needs to be. Each thing you serve cannot be the most special thing ever. It is hard to make eggs, and waffles, and hashbrowns, and toast…unless you are in a diner. If you’re making something eggy, or pancake-y then do something easy with it like fruit you’ve prepped in advance, or muffins that are already made, or bagels with spreads that are ready to serve.

Quiche is a great brunch item that you’ll make in advance. Voila! Brunch is served! I made quiche lorraine recently and loved it. bacon + swiss cheese = delicious. Ms. L makes a killer tomato, basil, goat cheese quiche.
The Three Bite Rule - Quiche Lorraine
Going somewhere? Make your own granola and serve it with yogurt. I loved this maple peanut butter granola over coffee Greek yogurt, or vanilla, or coconut. It is very pack-able.
The Three Bite Rule - Maple Peanut Butter Granola

Make-your-own
this is the easiest way to serve a crowd and everyone will get what they want. It makes it fun and easily customizable for all ages.

build your own BLT bar:
bacon vs. canadian bacon? 2 lettuces, tomatoes, different breads, different spreads, avaocados, sprouts? you name it. It’s the perfect between breakfast & lunch. Maybe there are fried eggs to lean towards breakfast? Maybe there are cheeses? you. name. it.
Avocado BLT
Build your own yogurt parfait bar: 
granola, toasted coconut, strawberries, bananas, dried cranberries, walnuts, brown sugar, + whatever else you have.
Yogurt Parfait Bar
Salad bar: 
this takes the every-day side to a whole new level. Warm up a honey-baked ham, grab some good rolls, and spread out a salad bar and you’re done! Edemame, chickpeas, hardboiled eggs, cheese, and lots of veggies make it fresh and a meal in its own. Plan a salad bar as part of your meal or for those get the evening munchies hours after brunch.
The 3 Bite Rule - Salad Bar
Build your own grilled cheese:
give some bread options, a few cheeses, and then a few other add-ins will please all palates. I love a good grilled cheese. American cheese and cheddar have me easily won over on a grilled cheese. Prep some bacon, tomato slices, mustards, caramelized onions, ham, or whatever you love. You need a grill pan ready or a panini press.
grilled cheese with balsamic onions
pizza grilled cheese
bacon grilled cheese with peach compote

Build your own breakfast sandwich would be like my dream come true:
bagels, croissants, biscuits with cheese options, and a panful of eggs sounds like my idea of a good time. My fav bagel place does breakfast sandwiches with slices of egg and cheese omelets. That’s an easy way to make a bunch for a crowd. Offer bacon, sausage, ham, arugula, and tomato slices. Add some tortillas, black beans, and salsa for breakfast burritos.

Whip up a blender-ful of creamsicle smoothies. This is my favorite smoothie and I think everyone would love it. Add some champagne for a twist on a mimosa, or a splash of vanilla vodka for a spiked brunch bevvie
The Three Bite Rule - Creamsicle Smoothie
Lastly, the hands-down easiest festive breakfast is a cereal bar. Some milks and everyone brings a cereal and you have an instant cereal party. It is a fun pot-luck with no-cooking required.

Chunky Monkey Pancakes

Bananas are so deceiving. I mean the skin can be such a faker. Sometimes it loooooks like it is getting squishy and then you peel it and find a pretty fresh banana. I had bananas that looked like they weren’t going to make it another day so I planned to add them to some weekend pancakes. The skin was all speckled with brown spots. I peel the banana to find that it is pretty hard. What a fake-out!

Well, I decided to see what would happen if I warmed them up a bit with a few seconds in the microwave. Voila! Instantly overripe bananas. Problem solved.

Ingredients:

1-2 bananas
1/4 cup chopped walnuts
1/4 cup chocolate chunks (or chips)
pancake mix
ground cinnamon
vanilla extract

Directions:

If the banana isn’t somewhat soft and overripe, microwave for 30 seconds.
The Three Bite Rule - Chunky Monkey Pancakes
Mix up the pancake batter. Add a touch of vanilla extract and a pinch of cinnamon.
The Three Bite Rule - Chunky Monkey Pancakes
Preheat a grill pan or flat skillet to medium heat. Spray with non-stick spray.
Prep or chop the nuts, bananas, and chocolate.
The Three Bite Rule - Chunky Monkey Pancakes
Ladle pancake batter onto the hot pan and evenly sprinkle banana, walnut, and chocolate chunks onto the pancakes. Wait for them to bubble and then flip.
The Three Bite Rule - Chunky Monkey Pancakes
Flip once.
The Three Bite Rule - Chunky Monkey Pancakes
Sprinkle with remaining nuts & banana chunks. Enjoy!
The Three Bite Rule - Chunky Monkey Pancakes
These were great. The nuts were definitely the best touch. I think the crunch was what made these so good. I added the nuts, chocolate, and bananas in after it was on the griddle because I wanted them to be evenly distributed. I figured in the batter it might come out uneven. The chocolate gets messy when it melts, but wiping the spatula solved that.

This would be great as waffles too. I add the cinnamon and vanilla to ensure the boxed mix tastes like the opposite of a box.

P.S. Is it amusing that the CHUNKY monkey pancakes are following a book about French women not getting FAT?

French Women Don’t Get Fat by Mireille Guiliano

I was intrigued by the title. I know not to judge a book by it’s cover but this one was too cute to pass by.

The Three Bite Rule - Book: French Women Don't Get Fat

I honestly thought this book was going to be a bit more about culture and eating while being less about not-eating and recipes. I guess it was more about food and lifestyle but the recipes didn’t interest me at all and I skimmed past them. I was shocked that she reccomends some crazy-sounding detox of Magic Leek Soup. Apparently French ladies swear by it, but it sounds just like what she’s trying to go against: fad diets.

The author is French, but mainly lives in NYC now, so her credibility is intact of growing up in France but definitely knowing what Americans eat. It starts with tales of her upbringing, her foreign exchange to Massachusetts, and returning to France overweight and then getting more overweight when she moved away to Paris for college. This was when she learned to consider food, exercise, and habits.

The Three Bite Rule - Book: French Women Don't Get Fat

Her suggestions are common sense based (minus the detox of leek soup). She suggests writing down everything you eat for 3 weeks. Lots of diets suggest this. There are apps galore and it definitely sounds like it would be helpful to some people skipping snacks to avoid having to write it down. She wants the dieter to be able to focus on when you’re eating and what you’re eating. She then goes all-in on this 48-hour diuretic of leek soup. I cannot get behind the 2-day detoxing of eating one thing. I am doubtful any dietician would suggest this either.

I do think it makes a ton of sense that she breaks the new ways of thinking about food into 3-month periods. That seems like a justifiable time to change, adopt new habits, and makes it not a crash diet. Her tips are normal, like decreasing some “demons” so that you aren’t cutting them out completely and being more focused on eating more different foods, appropriate portions, eating more fruits/veggies, focusing on seasonal foods, moving more, and drinking more water. All these things make sense, and none would shock anyone wanting to be healthier.

The water is a big one. She writes a ton about water. I’ll pause to sip my water because this really resonated with me.

gulp.

I don’t normally have any water when I wake up, especially before coffee. I also don’t tend to drink much after dinner. I think I drink a lot during the rest of the day, but these were easy times to drink more.

I looove her suggestions about not cutting out the things you love. She adores dessert and french pastries. I think cutting anything out completely is going to make many people reallllly crave it. Her point is very clear for French women with chocolate and wine. They tend to love chocolate and eat it regularly, but eat high quality and small amounts. That makes it seem really do-able. They also keep in check by making up for one day on the next. Again, seems do-able.

It was interesting, easy to read, and a quick read. I don’t think it is life changing, but I’ll keep in mind the water tips and the focus on eating more different things rather than bigger portions of fewer things.

I’ll leave you with this video. I doubt any Paleo-dieters read my blog but this archeologist explains why the fad diet is really all made up, by people who don’t know about what people in the Paleolithic period ate, let alone how diets would have differed by area of the globe. It’s fascinating. Yes whole foods, and real foods are better for you. Nobody fights you on that. I just tire of people thinking that the’s a magic new approach to food.

some other books for foodies I recommend: Kitchen Confidential; Heat; French Kids Eat Everything; The American Way of Eating

any foodie inspired books you suggest for me?

Blueberry Pie Smoothie

I’ve been on a savory breakfast kick for awhile with quiche lorraine, and veggie strata, and quesadilla quevos rancheros but I figured it is time for seasonal smoothies again. I tried something different and added graham cracker to mimic the pie crust. Ohh wow. Such a fun addition.

Ingredients:

1/2 cup blueberries
5 oz blueberry Greek yogurt
1/2 apple or banana, frozen & chopped
1 graham cracker, crumbled

Directions:

Add blueberries, yogurt, frozen fruit, and graham cracker to a blender.
The Three Bite Rule - Blueberry Pie Smoothie
Blend and enjoy! Add a splash of milk if it is too thick.
The Three Bite Rule - Blueberry Pie Smoothie
The graham cracker in there was a new one for me. I loved how much it changed the smoothie. It totally reminded me of pie. I’ve seen smoothies with oatmeal. Maybe I’d try that next?

I used frozen green apple. Whenever I have fruit nearing it’s end or if I won’t get to it in time, I chop it up and freeze it for smoothies. I just add it to the same smoothie fruit container. The flavors don’t really mix that much and I usually use multiple fruits in my smoothies anyway.

Fruits that freeze well: apples, all berries, bananas, pears, grapes, cantaloupe. I wouldn’t freeze them and then defrost them, but they work well for smoothies.

Sausage and Pepper Calzone

Like most calzones, this could easily be a pizza but I was feelin’ a calzone. I also wanted to play around with using different cheeses so I went with Monterey Jack. Pepper Jack, cheddar, mozzarella, or a mix would work well with these flavors. This calzone feels very ballpark-ish which is appropriate right about now. A million years ago I made a sausage and pepper calzone but I didn’t really blog it. It was time to highlight the good stuff.

I went really heavy on the Italian Seasoning but would tone it down a bit for anyone who doesn’t like bold flavor. I used the color peppers that were on sale but really any would be good. I also think it’s an easy time to lighten up the calorie count with some chicken sausage or turkey smoked sausage. This is a crowd-pleaser that could easily be prepped in advance and baked for only 10 minutes. Then it can be refrigerated or frozen and baked for another 20-30 when it is time to eat.
The Three Bite Rule - Sausage & Peppers Calzone

Ingredients:

1 ball pizza dough
3 sausage links, scored with a few shallow slices
1/2 yellow pepper
1/2 red pepper
1/2 onion
1 tsp Italian Seasoning
a few drips of liquid smoke (optional)
8 oz Monterey Jack cheese

Directions:

Preheat the oven to 400-degrees (and pizza stone if using one).
In a medium skillet, over medium heat, cook the sausage until crisped and cooked through. Or grill them!
The Three Bite Rule - Sausage & Peppers Calzone
Slice the peppers and onion into strips and then into chunks.
In a large pan, over medium heat, cook the onions in 1 tsp olive oil. After 3-4 minutes, add the peppers, garlic, salt, pepper, and Italian seasoning. Cook for another 2-3 minutes, adding liquid smoke if desired.
The Three Bite Rule - Sausage & Peppers Calzone
Spread the pizza dough out, stretching it out evenly.
Spread it out onto the pizza stone/pan off center, so the filling gets added to what will become the bottom. The top will cover it and meet the bottom without having to move the calzone.
Layer cheese, sausage slices, peppers, and repeat. Spread all the filling out to the edges. Layer, layer, layer…it seems like less when it bakes.
The Three Bite Rule - Sausage & Peppers Calzone
Pull the top over and pinch it to close the seam.
Cut a few slices in the top of the calzone. Brush the top with eggwash or olive oil (optional).
Bake 30 minutes.
Let sit 5 minutes before slicing.
The Three Bite Rule - Sausage & Peppers Calzone
The calzone is a great way to reduce the meat and up the veggies. With just 3 links of sausage I had 4 servings of calzone. The ratio is off here, being heavy on the peppers and light on the sausage which I love. I think there was plenty of sausage (2 links might have been just fine) and I’d rather us filling it up with peppers and onions.

Pasta Carbonara

I love pasta but try to limit it to quickie dinners or really good mac & cheese…otherwise I might want it nightly. I figured it was time to make some legit pasta. Carbonara is an easy one to whip up needing only eggs, cream, and bacon. Ohh, and lots of Parmesan. Don’t forget the Parmesan.

It is delightfully creamy but has a lightness to it. There are so few ingredients which is also awesome.

The Three Bite Rule - Pasta Carbonara

I used refrigerated pasta that makes a great impression for this dinner. I always can tell the difference but really, I don’t discriminate. Fresh obviously costs a bit more but when pricing out this dinner, you’ll see it was so cheap it didn’t really matter.

Ingredients:

9 oz package fresh fettucchini
4 slices of thick cut bacon
1/4 cup white onion, chopped finely
4 cloves of fresh garlic, minced
3 eggs
1/4 cup half and half (increase if making a pound of pasta)
1/4 cup grated Parmesan
1 tsp garlic powder
salt & pepper

Directions:

Bring plenty of salted water to a boil.
In a medium flat pan, fry the bacon until crisp. Then remove and drain on paper towels.
Leave 1 tsp of bacon fat in the pan to fry the onion. Add garlic after 2 minutes.
The Three Bite Rule - Pasta Carbonara
Add eggs, cream, Parmesan, garlic powder, and a sprinkle of salt & pepper to a large bowl.
The Three Bite Rule - Pasta Carbonara
Boil the pasta according to the directions (fresh pasta = about 3 minutes; dried pasta = about 12 minutes)
The Three Bite Rule - Pasta Carbonara
Whisk together the sauce mixture.
The Three Bite Rule - Pasta Carbonara
Put a bowl underneath a colander, or ladle out a few cups of the starchy water.
Drain the pasta shaking it well, but do not run water over it. Then start tossing with the creamy egg mixture.
Spoon in the onions, garlic, and bacon.
The Three Bite Rule - Pasta Carbonara
Toss well and let sit for 5 minutes to absorb the sauce. If it is too thick, spoon in a little of the reserved starchy water.

I like the simplicity of this dish. The fresh pasta is a huuuuge addition in this dish. The creamy sauce is light, the bacon is crisp, the Parmesan is salty. It is such a perfect combination. I love pasta carbonara and it doesn’t have to just be reserved for restaurants.
The Three Bite Rule - Pasta Carbonara
I didn’t add peas, because I don’t like ‘em. I had some flatleaf parsley for freshness but I forgot it. This is the perfect reminder that some of the best meals are really very easy. I really loved this in any way it sat before me.

Cost: 
fresh pasta: $3.29 (mine was 9oz, not a pound)
4 slices of bacon: approx. $2.66
3 eggs: approx. $0.70
half & half: $0.50
Parmesan: $0.80
total cost = $7.95 for 3 servings or just $2.63 per person

What I Ate: Bacon & Pear Flatbread

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.

This pizza-ish flatbread was inspired by a spur-of-the-moment trip to Sky to share some flatbreads. This is proof that pizza isn’t rocket science and you can make it yourself easily. I know dough can be a pain for some people so I’ve been making sure some of my pizzas use an alternative base. These were really quick and I rarely use other cheeses but the cheddar was a fun flavor for this one.

I used pita pocket-y things. They’re puffier than Mediterranean pitas and are a great quick pizza option. They are easier than dough annnnnd it is perfectly portion controlled.
The Three Bite Rule - Bacon & Pear Flatbread

Ingredients:

2 flatbread pita pockets
1 pear
2 slices of bacon
1 cup cheddar, shredded

Directions:

Preheat the oven to 400-degrees.
Pan fry the bacon until crisp.
Top the pitas with cheese, chopped pear, and bacon.
The Three Bite Rule - Bacon & Pear Flatbread

Bake 10-15 minutes, until cheese melts and pita gets gently toasted.
Top with chopped green onions.
The Three Bite Rule - Bacon & Pear Flatbread
These were great. They are how to make dinner quickly…like 30-minutes quick. The cheddar with the pear, with the bacon is so great.

Some of my other pizza-dough alternatives are:
French Bread Pizza
Bubble Up BBQ Pizza
Bruschetta Pizza on Naan

Parisian Burger

Ohh my goodness. This might have been one of my best burgers yet. Seriously. Mr. J agreed. This burger itself packs some seriously sophisticated flavor with dijon and rosemary, and then the toppings just perfect it with truffle mayo & egg yolk. I love the menu at Met Burger Bar so I adapted one of their burgers from the international section. I humbly think mine may rival theirs…or top it.

The Three Bite Rule - Parisian Burger

Ingredients (for 2 burgers):

3/4 pound ground beef/chicken
1 tsp fresh rosemary, chopped
1 tsp minced garlic
1 tsp dijon mustard
2 slices of swiss
2 rolls
2 eggs
2 tbs mayo
1/2 tsp truffle oil/truffle butter

Directions:

Preheat grill, or grill pan if cooking inside.
Mix together ground meat (I did chicken, Mr. J did beef), rosemary, garlic, and mustard.
The Three Bite Rule - Parisian Burger
Gently form into patties sprinkling with salt & pepper on each side.
The Three Bite Rule - Parisian Burger
Grill until chicken is cooked through, or beef is cooked to your liking. Top with cheese.
Mix together mayo, truffle oil, salt & pepper.
Heat a flat pan to medium high heat when the burgers are almost cooked.
Reduce pan to medium heat, and fry 2 eggs.
Cover the eggs with small pot lids to cook the white through, keeping the yolk intact, cooking for about 4 minutes.
Lay arugula onto the bottom bun, top with the burger, then add the fried egg, and spread truffle mayo onto the top bun.
The Three Bite Rule - Parisian Burger
Ooo la la. This was so good. The garlic and rosemary in the burger makes it really flavorful. I loooove peppery arugula. The yolk acts like a condiment. I almost did truffle ketchup which would also be good for some acidity. The decadence of this burger was not lost on us. Every flavor is rich, powerful, and spot-on.

My chicken burger was cooked per-fect-ly. That’s tough to do. One more minute and it would have been dry. It probably needs about 5-6 minutes per side. It really depends on the grill temperature, flame, etc. A meat thermometer is a good idea. Mr. J finds them to stick, since there isn’t as much fat as beef to keep it off the grill. The recent method has been spraying heavy duty aluminum foil to help it from crumbling.

This is one for the record books and one I’ll make again, for sure.
The Three Bite Rule - Parisian Burger

Some of my other favs include:
Nacho Burger
The Three Bite Rule - Nacho Burger
and the Rodeo Burger
rodeo_burg_plate_590_390
and of course stuffed burgers like the Greek Stuffed Burgers
stuffed_burg_greek_590_390