February 2017 Recap

Feb wasn’t the speediest month to pass. So often I’m caught in time as a whirlwhind but Feb felt like the right speed. We had some snowy days and then some unseasonably hot days. I got to read a bunch and we’re totally caught up on DVR (which feels like a serious accomplishment). Our poor Bailee dog isn’t doing well. She’s been without an appetite, lost a lot of weight, and is severely anemic. We’re not sure what’s up but just hope she feels ok.

Hands down, my fav meal this month was a little Valentine’s Day surprise charcuterie and tips to build a better charcuterie board.
The Three Bite Rule - Build A Better Charcuterie Board
I was loving this healthified peanut butter, banana, and nutella smoothie…just as good as the original!
The Three Bite Rule - Healthified Smoothie
This super quick gnocchi with roasted tomatoes was the ideal, hands-free dinner. Perfect for chasing a toddler…or whatever you might be doing.
The Three Bite Rule - Tomato & Basil Gnocchi


Let’s bring on March! My birthday month!!

The Little One:
His 2-year-old molars came in promptly! He had a rough few days but was just so dang cute saying “cheek huuurts”. He is loving painting & coloring. We’re marveling at what he knows. He coughed and I asked, “where did that cough come from” thinking he hadn’t been sick at all the day before. He answered “mouf”. True story. His fav food right now is jelly. Although rice is a tricky one to eat, he loves the challenge. He is hating coming inside from playing. He watched Mr. J cut his own hair and was mesmerized. Now he likes to make a buzz sound running his hand over people’s heads. The little one is quite concerned about “Bab-ee sick?” so let’s all cross our fingers we all do ok.


Monthly goals:

Year of the seasonal decor: I missed Feb, let’s see what I can come up with for March
do more dinner prep more in advance: Yes! I’ve prepped some doubles and got to pull a frozen one out once a week.
read more (and always carry my book on me): I read The Invention of Wings with bookclub and The Royal We
watch more movies: Snowden left me befuddled. I was impressed by the story for Sully.
cook more fish: struggle-bus
focus on clothes that I really like: I capitalized on some Loft points + $20 off +a 10% off night. I took home a mixed media top, some clearance herringbone dress pants, and a sweater that’s more like a shirt.
monthly grocery store ingredient:

Healthier PB, Nutella, & Banana

I decided to give my most-pinned-smoothie a healthified-twist. This smoothie started with peanut butter, nutella, banana, and yogurt. I put a few tweaks to it and loved it just as much!

The Three Bite Rule - Healthified Smoothie

Ingredients:

2-3 tablespoons flaxseeds or 2-3 tablespoons ground flax seeds
1 cup spinach
1/2 cup milk
1 cup ice cubes
1 banana
2 tablespoons peanut butter
2 tablespoons nutella
5 oz vanilla Greek yogurt

Directions:

In a coffee grinder, grind the flaxseeds into powder.
The Three Bite Rule - Healthified Smoothie
Blend the spinach, milk and then add ice and blend more.
Add in the banana, peanut butter, nutella, yogurt, and flax seeds.
The Three Bite Rule - Healthified Smoothie
Blend again until smooth.
Enjoy!
The Three Bite Rule - Healthified Smoothie
Twists to up the nutritional value:
Greek yogurt versus regular yogurt: Greek yogurt adds more protein, and is an easy change for this smoothie.
Greens: who doesn’t need another serving of veggies? The spinach is so mild that it literally doesn’t add any flavor, just more veggies.
Flaxseed: I got these when I was breastfeeding but they add fiber and omega-3s. I learned they’re best absorbed when ground. Noted.

Or try the original Peanut butter, Banana, and Nutella smoothie.

Lasagna Rolls

I make lasagnas at least once a year, and make enough to have it several times. This time, I made it as roll ups and loved how beautifully portioned it was! I made 1- 9×12 lasagna and 2- 9×9 pans of lasagna rolls. One dish of lasagna rolls got slated to my very awesome friend who is now a mom of infant twins with 2 bigger boys. The fam could prob could use freezer food, right?

The Three Bite Rule - Lasagna Rolls
I made my own pasta this time too! It was so easy since it only takes the rolling on my Kitchenaid, and no cutting. I cleared a ton of room on the kitchen island and spread these out. I rolled the dough on the mixer, cut them a bit, cooked them, and then let them cool enough for the filling. I’ll totally make my own again!

Here are my other lasagnas, if rolls aren’t your thing: Traditional Lasagna or Lasagna Soup or Butternut Squash Lasagna or White Lasagna w/ Chicken & Spinach.

Ingredients:

1 pound lasagna noodles, cooked (not the “no-cook” or “oven-ready” variety this time)
8 oz ricotta
1 egg
1/3 cup chopped Parsley, Oregano, Basil or Arugula
1 cup mozzarella
~1 1/2 cups ground meat (optional)
1 cup tomato sauce (I like Pastene Kitchen Ready Tomatoes + a tablespoon of tomato paste + tablespoon Italian Seasoning)
(additional sprinkle of cheese after it bakes)

Directions:

Prep the meat, cooking through and seasoning with salt & pepper if including meat. Mix together the ricotta, egg, and herbs.
Lay out the pasta and spread the ricotta & herb mixture and top with mozzarella & meat mixture. Be sure to get the filling spread pretty evenly in a thin layer.
The Three Bite Rule - Lasagna Rolls
Add on the cooked ground meat, if using any.
Gently roll up from one end to the other. Aim for each roll to be about 2 inches high, any bigger and it’ll be a massive serving. Then place into a baking dish sprayed with nonstick spray.
The Three Bite Rule - Lasagna Rolls
Top with sauce and freeze (or bake to eat right away).
The Three Bite Rule - Lasagna Rolls
When serving, bake frozen lasagna rolls for 75 minutes at 350, adding additional cheese on the top for the last 5 minutes. Or let lasagna rolls defrost over night, or for 24 hours and then bake for 45 minutes with cheese for the last 5 minutes.
The Three Bite Rule - Lasagna Rolls
The pan I’ll bring to my friend was in a disposable heavy-duty pan. I topped it with sauce and covered it in plastic wrap. It has a plastic cover where I labeled what it is with heating instructions but that flimsy plastic cover isn’t great in the freezer, thus, why I go with plastic wrap. I gave more instructions than necessary, but hey- nobody wants a baked plastic-wrap fiasco when getting dinner ready for the little ones! Here are other food ideas to bring to parents of a newborn.

I seriously love lasagna, so I was very happy with these cheesy lasagna rolls. I’m the biggest lasagna fan in the house, so I was probably more into them than anyone else. Plus, we had just had regular lasagna a few weeks prior. I tried to spread ‘em out, but I also attempt to have at least 1 meal per week that is from a freezer stockpile of batch-cooking. I believe there’s also a chicken pot pie hanging out just waiting on me to call it into the line up!

How to Build a Better Charcuterie Board

There’s zero cooking involved here but I was pretty into with my offerings for a charcuterie & cheese board. The reigning Queen of Cheese Boards is How Sweet Eats but here are my 2-cents. Mr. J and I enjoyed this for Valentine’s Day while the little one slept over with the grandparents. This was our meal, but now I’m itching to make one for a bigger crowd and to go all out.
The Three Bite Rule - Build A Better Charcuterie Board

Tip 1: Start at Trader Joe’s…seriously, the cheeses won’t break the bank, as in, I got 3 totaling about $12. I choose a smoked Gouda, a rosemary Asiago, and a pepper Taleggio. These aren’t widely different in texture, but we loved them. I hear Whole Foods will also cut any cheese wedge for you, so don’t get thrown by the whopping price, or if the size is too much. Maybe shoot for a crumbly, a softer, and a creamy one.  I went with  2 meats, prosciutto & salami, for saltiness, fattiness, and texture.
The Three Bite Rule - Build A Better Charcuterie Board

Tip 2: Variety is important. Multiple crackers/breads keep each bite feeling different. I choose multiple briney items (olives, marinated mushrooms, pickles, pickled fiddleheads) most of which I got in small quantities from the grocery store. Then I wanted different sweet touches (strawberries & jam), courtesy of our own regular fridge. I had nuts hanging around and more crackers than I realized which was perfect for all the toppings.
The Three Bite Rule - Build A Better Charcuterie Board

Tip 3: Crowd the platter. The plethora & bounty of offerings makes an impact. A few small dishes corralled a few elements, but for a bigger group, I’d totally pile everything up and sprinkle around for color.
The Three Bite Rule - Build A Better Charcuterie Board

Pour the wine and crack into it! My kitchen island was born to host a bigger and even better charcuterie and cheese board.

Meatball Sliders with Garlic Butter

I could slurp this garlic butter, but I won’t. I’ll save it for the sliders. It is so perfect with a juicy meatball, gooey cheese, and a sweet Hawaiian roll. Yesssss. We all ate these and love ‘em. I would have liked a bigger meatball to match the size of the roll, but I used frozen meatballs making this 10x faster. The rolls were leftover and hanging out in the freezer from a NYE slider bar.

The Three Bite Rule - Meatball Sliders
I almost made the little one’s without the garlic butter. Then I stopped short, and thought: “Whattt are you doing???? You want the kid to eat all the foods, so give him exactly what the adults are having!” It might be from a running joke Mr. J has with the little one. When they couldn’t find it in the grocery store, they were saying “if you were minced garlic, where would you be?” The little one answers “no gar-ick”. He gobbled up his slider, so it was a good call to keep it the same.

Ingredients:

4 tablespoons butter
1 teaspoon minced garlic
1/2 teaspoon Italian Seasoning
1/4 teaspoon garlic powder
1/4 teaspoon salt
2 tablespoons Parmesan
6 slider rolls
6 meatballs
1 cup tomato sauce
1 cup shredded mozzarella

Directions:

Preheat the oven to 400-degrees.
Melt the butter and mix in the garlic, Italian seasoning, garlic powder, salt, and Parmesan.
Slice the rolls and spoon most of the garlic butter onto the bottom buns and bake for 10 minutes until they crisp a bit.
The Three Bite Rule - Meatball Sliders
Warm the sauce and meatballs. Place one meatball onto each bottom bun. Ladle sauce on top of each and sprinkle with cheese. Bake for 5 minutes to melt the cheese.
The Three Bite Rule - Meatball Sliders
Spread the remaining garlic butter onto the top buns and warm them in the oven too. Place the tops on and enjoy!
The Three Bite Rule - Meatball Sliders
I think the rolls & the garlic butter made these sliders. The rolls soaked the butter but then crisped so the sauce didn’t make them soggy. I’m so grateful that the 2-year-old eats everything and the garlic butter was a reminder for me to keep that going. Plus, he looooves meatballs so it wasn’t a hard sell.

Quick Tomato Basil Gnocchi

Gnocchi is a fav to have stashed in the freezer for speedy dinners, such as this! I made a really quick sauce and really focused on this dinner being meatless and flavorful!
The Three Bite Rule - Tomato & Basil Gnocchi

Ingredients:

1 cup grape or cherry tomatoes
17 oz frozen gnocchi
2 tablespoons butter
1 teaspoon garlic
1 tablespoon cream cheese
1/4 cup chicken or veggie stock
1 tablespoon basil, chopped
Parmesan

Directions:

Drizzle the tomatoes with olive oil and sprinkle with salt and pepper then roast in a 400-degree oven for 15 minutes, until they blister and pop.
The Three Bite Rule - Tomato & Basil Gnocchi

Boil salted water and add in the gnocchi. Cook until they float.
In a large skillet, melt butter and add garlic, and cream cheese to a medium heat. Bring to a simmer and add in the tomatoes and the gnocchi when cooked.
The Three Bite Rule - Tomato & Basil Gnocchi
Simmer and stir in the basil. Cook for about 5 minutes to thicken and reduce a little.
The Three Bite Rule - Tomato & Basil Gnocchi
Serve with a sprinkle of parmesan.
The Three Bite Rule - Tomato & Basil Gnocchi
I loved the slight creaminess from the cream cheese but the lightness from the broth. I think this is a good trick to keep up my sleeve!

Tip 1: use a slotted spoon to scoop the gnocchi out, then there’s no colander to clean. Tip 2: I had a bit too much sauce so I used the slotted spoon to dish the pasta so the excess sauce stayed in the pan.

Taco Spiced Deviled Eggs

I’m really only watching a superbowl for the snacks. Rooting for my home team is a perk, but the snacks, commercials, and half-time show are my focus…I mean really, I washed some dishes while they played. The little one learned to say “Go Patriots” which was really stinking cute. It was just us at home but we had festive sports snacks for dinner and I made just a few of these taco-spiced deviled eggs. I love that this is an app you can make as much or as little as you want!
The Three Bite Rule - Taco Spiced Deviled Eggs
I topped ‘em with some roasted corn and tomato. The filling has my homemade taco seasoning but any would work just fine.

Ingredients:

4 hard-boiled eggs, cooled
2 tablespoons mayo
1 heaping teaspoon taco seasoning
1/2 teaspoon lime juice

Directions:

Slice the eggs in half lengthwise. Pop out the yolks into a bowl (for a hand mixer) or into a food processor. Add in the mayo, taco seasoning, and lime juice. Then blend until no lumps remain. Add more taco seasoning to taste.
The Three Bite Rule - Taco Spiced Deviled Eggs
Spoon into a ziplock bag into one of the bottom corners. Snip the very end and pipe into the egg whites.
The Three Bite Rule - Taco Spiced Deviled Eggs
Fill each yolk divot then go back and top off each egg. Then you know how much you have to work with.
The Three Bite Rule - Taco Spiced Deviled Eggs
Top each one with a few pieces of roasted corn and a tiny piece of tomato. (A little avocado would look good!)
The Three Bite Rule - Taco Spiced Deviled Eggs
Enjoy! Or refrigerate until serving!

I liked the flavor. I think I’m done with the variations for awhile. I made Sour Cream & Onion Devil Eggs then I made Bacon Ranch Deviled Eggs. This was the last variation I had in mind for now.

Sweet & Smokey Chili

Tis the season for all the cold-weather food. I wanted to re-do chili with a sweeter approach using some maple and sweet potato. Seriously, your next batch of chili neeeeds sweet potato. Even spicy chili benefits from a touch of sweetness and variety from the beans.

The Three Bite Rule - Sweet & Smokey Chili
I topped it with shredded cheddar and corn chips. It was great, and ensures plenty of leftovers! I prepped and cooked it a bit one night, then cooked again when serving it. The little one was into it! He loves beans but isn’t always loving foods all cooked together. Anything served with chips is a win with him!

Ingredients: (for ~6 servings)

1 lbs ground chicken/pork/turkey (I used ground pork this time)
1 large onion, diced
1, 28 oz can ground tomato
1, 4 oz can green chilis
1, 15.5 oz can kidney beans (with liquid, I used low sodium)
1, 15.5 oz can black beans (with liquid, I used low sodium)
1 clove of garlic, diced
2 tbs cumin powder
2 tbs chili powder
2 tbs onion powder
2 tbs black pepper
1 tbs salt
1 cup water
2 tsp liquid smoke
1/4 cup maple syrup

Directions:

Brown the ground meat then drain off the grease in a large pot.
In the same pan, saute the onion until caramelized and golden brown.
Then return the meat into the pot over medium-low heat, and add in the ground tomatoes, beans, garlic, cumin, chili powder, onion powder, pepper, salt, water, and liquid smoke.
The Three Bite Rule - Sweet & Smokey Chili
Stir well.
Cook the sweet potato, then chop and add into the chili.
The Three Bite Rule - Sweet & Smokey Chili
Simmer over low for 30-60 minutes. (I cooked it for 30 minutes, then refrigerated, and cooked again when serving it.)
The Three Bite Rule - Sweet & Smokey Chili
I loved the flavors without the heat. The sweet potato makes it filling, chunky, and flavorful. It freezes well too!

January 2017 Recap

January was a delightfully busy one in the kitchen! The little one turned 2! I have a 2 year old!?!? I loved all the long weekends/holidays. I had one full week. That is the way to do it! I had a serious flop for a bundt cake and will try again. Many of my weeknight meals have been quick, but I’m loving them. Can we talk about grain bowls again? Love them. I made a falafel one and an Italian one and I have so many more twists…Get. Ready.

Also, Happy new camera to me! Mr. J totally surprised me with a new one for Christmas. I wasn’t expecting it and I’m learning more and more all the time. I’m now using a Canon Rebel SL1.

I baked! Red Velvet Crinkle Cookies
The Three Bite Rule - Red Velvet Crinkle Cookies
I’m bowl obsessed! Italian Grain Bowl
The Three Bite Rule - Italian Grain Bowl
I tried a new way to cook meatballs! Crockpot Meatballs
The Three Bite Rule - Crockpot Meatballs
I went out to a new-to-us French Restaurant, which was awesome! Sis and I capitalized on a weekday outing without the little ones for Shake Shack lunch & seeing the movie Hidden Figures – so good.

The Little One: 
He turned 2! We had a family party with homemade pasta, meatballs, and cake-cake! He is such a happy guy. He is still sleeping like a champ and he continually makes us laugh. Lately he’s been saying his last name, and is suuuper into coloring. When he doesn’t want to, or can’t do something, he says it is somebody else’s “turn”. He is obsessed with avocado, he was into taco night, and loves anything he can dip: salsa for quesadillas, hummus for crackers, maple syrup for waffles, yogurt for cereal….the list goes on.

Monthly goals:
Year of the seasonal decor: I got this love wall decor and made a bow for an indoor wreath.
do more dinner prep more in advance: I have done this a bit, but I could keep it in mind.
read more (and always carry my book on me): I flew through Here’s to Us
cook more fish: ehh. Does a tuna melt count?
focus on clothes that I really like: I ordered a bunch of deals and then returned them. I guess that counts for not keeping clothes I don’t looooove.
monthly grocery store ingredient: I forgot. I’ll get on it.

Coq au Vin

We had a date night to a super delicious French restaurant the other night. I believe duck on a menu cannot be bypassed. I saw coq au vin on the specials and while I didn’t order it, it reminded me to make it. I also wanted to simplify it. It is a traditional and a peasant dish for the French. Any meat cooked until really tender in wine is the perfect comfort for a cool or rainy day.
The Three Bite Rule - Coq Au Vin
I made it in the pressure cooker (in 10 minutes), but it’d be good on the stove if you have a little more time (~40 minutes).

Ingredients:

4 slices of bacon, chopped
4 boneless, skinless, chicken thighs, cut into 6 pieces
3 carrots, pealed & chopped
2 cups pearl onions
1 tablespoon minced garlic
1 cup chicken broth
1 1/2 red wine
1 pint of portabella mushrooms (& tablespoon of butter)
2/3 cup marsala wine or cooking sherry
2 tablespoons butter
2 tablespoons flour

Directions:

Pan fry the bacon in a large skillet or dutch oven until crisp. Then spoon onto a paper towel and leave the bacon drippings in the pan.
Then brown the chicken on each side.
The Three Bite Rule - Coq Au Vin
Then add the chicken, bacon, carrots, onions, garlic, thyme, chicken broth, and wine into a pressure cooker (or crockpot, or into the dutch oven).
The Three Bite Rule - Coq Au Vin
In a pressure cooker, cook on high for 10 minutes.
In a crockpot, cook for 2 hours on high.
In a dutch oven, cover and simmer for 40 minutes.
While the chicken cooks, saute the mushrooms in a little butter to brown.
The Three Bite Rule - Coq Au Vin
Then add in the marsala/sherry to deglaze, scraping off the brown bits at the bottom.
Mash together the 2 tablespoons of butter with the 2 tablespoons of flour & add to the mushrooms. Mix well and cook for about 5 minutes.
The Three Bite Rule - Coq Au Vin
Add the chicken/onion/carrot mixture into the mushrooms and a few spoonfuls of the wine/broth. Cook for 5 minutes over a low simmer.
Serve over mashed potatoes or egg noodles.
The Three Bite Rule - Coq Au Vin
I loved it. The chicken got purple-y from the wine. I don’t know how the pros avoid that, but there was so much flavor in this, I was happy to look past it. My mom makes it with white wine, which is delicious too.

Make this…just don’t use chicken breast. Don’t do it. If you do, you’ll be sad when the chicken is stringy and isn’t juicy. This is also a great use if you have old-ish wine open, or a wine you don’t love. The sauce is delightfully flavored and I liked the mushrooms to thicken the sauce just a tiny bit. Voila!