What to Munch for Lunch

I was lacking on groceries (as well as energy, time, and creativity) but I really wanted to relax and whip up something for lunch for a few days. I found a zucchini that was nearing the end of it’s life in the fridge. I let that be my muse since I also wanted to put my new mandolin to use!
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Ingredients

1 sheet puff pastry
4 tbs pesto
1 cup grated gruyere
1 zucchini, sliced thin

Directions

Lay puff pastry out on a cookie sheet.
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Spread pesto to cover entire pastry sheet
Sprinkle cheese to cover entire pastry sheet
Carefully lay zucchini slices, overlapping slightly
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Bake 15-20 minutes at 350

This was just what I wanted. It was easy, had some great flavors, and packed well for lunch! I was meticulous about the rows of zucchini but I should have pushed the rows closer together. Budget for the puff factor.

I cooked it for about 15 minutes, knowing that I would put it in the toaster oven at work so I aired on the under-cooked side.

Although I haven’t made interesting just-for-lunch recipes lately this reminded me how just a few high quality ingredients make for a tasty dish. Any cheese would have worked well. Even other prepared sauces would work too.

What else should be some quick lunch fixes?

Southern Sweet Treat

In case the Easter Bunny didn’t leave you enough treats, I wanted to share this little bite with you. While I was in Houston working an event, I got a special little treat from Starbucks.

Have you seen the Starbucks Petites? They are so darn cute. There are bite (or 3 bite) sized treats. We had the pops. They are cake and icing rolled into pops on a stick.
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Rocky Road Cake Pops had chocolate cake, chocolate icing, almonds and mini marshmallows. Tiramisu Cake Pops was vanilla cake, Starbucks coffee, and vanilla icing and a chocolate covered coffee bean.
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Realistically, there’s nothing about this that warrents the pop stick. It’s definitely for the cuteness factor but that’s ok. That’s the basis of the appeal. 

Photos courtesy of of one Mrs. C and treats courtesy of another Mrs. C!

My Anthem

Anthem Kitchen and BarAfter work I had plans to meet up with my friend Miss L for a drink and a bite at Anthem. I tried SO hard to get there ontime (seeing how I work practically next door). I was about 5 minutes late.
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We sat at the bar and soaked in the ambiance while sipping our beers. I loved finding and trying out this new spot.

I had my eye on a few different appetizers. I ended up settling on a flatbread with prosciutto, poached figs, tomato slices, and arugula. I loved it. The figs made it feel really special and I love arugula on pizza so I was sold. The prosciutto was dropped on after it was grilled, keeping it soft and salty!
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Miss L went with the award winning chowder. Anthem won chowderfest 2010! She also got a roasted beet salad with goat cheese.
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I was throughly impressed with the menu. “Twist on American cuisine” is something I see and hear all the time but there were fish tacos, cuban sliders, mac and cheese, and roasted chicken. It sounds eclectic but it works! Everything goes!

I think the prices were right on target. My flatbread was $13 and that seemed appropriate.

I should have peeked upstairs since we sat at the bar but I loved it and I know I’ll go back again.

Hope everyone has an enjoyable Easter! I’ll be coming up with an appetizer and reporting back!

A Little Sweet & A Little Sour

I know after making my own turkey meatballs I said I should be making them instead of buying them, but I’m crazy at work for another 25 days. I can’t wait to rejoin life afterwards!
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Anywho, I made Sweet and Sour Meatballs using turkey meatballs from Trader Joe’s. I’ve made this before but it has been awhile.

Ingredients

1 can pineapple chunks
¼ cup brown sugar
3 tbs soy sauce
¼ tsp red pepper flakes
6 meatballs
½ green pepper, chopped
½ orange pepper, chopped
1 cup rice

Directions:

Bring pineapple chunks, some liquid, brown sugar, and soy sauce to a rolling boil for 2 minutes.
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Add red pepper flakes and meatballs before lowering heat to medium low.
Prepare rice.
Add peppers to meatballs and sauce for the last 2 minutes of cooking.
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How easy?! I didn’t have any egg noodles but it turns out Mr. J thought he’d like it better over rice. I also didn’t have any rice but I did have aborio. Risotto with sweet and sour meatballs turned out to be a success!

I had “natural” pineapple chunks and I liked it much better than regular canned pineapple. It’s definitely as close to fresh as you can get.

3 Bite Slurp

I wanted to introduce you to a little bite…something I discover and enjoy but isn’t quite a recipe or review…

The other day as I was running errands near work I stopped to peruse the books on sale outside Boarders bookstore. What did I come upon? A cafe barista/server (is it only Starbucks who calls them baristas?) giving out free samples.

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I don’t mind if I do! How darn cute is it?! I had to include my awkward hand so you can see the size.

Yak & Yeti: I probably couldn’t correctly identify either one

My favorite eaters of Indian food no longer work with me so I’m left on my own for Indian food since Mr. J doesn’t go for it. The one perk of working in Central Square Cambridge used to be all the Indian restaurants! I miss running to the buffet or smelling all their delicious dishes when somebody else got it. I’ll have to work that out…This post is super delayed so let’s start with some background, shall we? It was a FRIGID day for a work event outside. I wore the hood of my sweatshirt tied under my chin like a 3-year-old all day with lots of layers, and mittens. That’s right, from 7:30 AM until I got home around 3:30 PM I was cold. Layered and layered, but cold.

I was tired and it’s safe to say I was grumpy when I got home since I didn’t have lunch either. I tried to be a grown up and held off dinner until a early-bird special time of 5 PM instead of 3:30.

I ordered from Yak & Yeti around the corner from me and hoped for the best. With a name like that how could it not brighten my spirits?! (It sure did).
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Their menu can take a while to poke through with both Indian and Nepali sections. I got Chicken Palak for $11.95. It came with Basmati rice and chutney. I also ordered garlic naan and was SO glad I did! I had plenty for 2 meals.

The Chicken Palak is cooked in chopped spinach and curry sauce. It was so good. I liked the spice and the spinach without any flavor overpowering another. The garlic Naan was amazing. There was a ton of garlic and it was lightly cooked leaving the garlic with that zing it gets before it mellows when roasting.
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I’m not sure what the crispy and spicey one was that came with the meal. I was shocked how spicy it was…like a less eggy dosa. 5 points to anyone who can tell me what it’s called.  The chutney was ehhh. Ok, nothing remarkable. I thought there was a bit too much onion. I really love mint chutney.
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I’ll definitely go back and I’m glad to have it around the corner from home. Next time I’ll have to try Nepali cuisine. I am interested in some of the fish curries too! I read some yelp reviews about the spice level but I’m game as long as I have some naan to sink into and forget my chills of the day.

Guest Blog: Summer Winter

Since I’m in Houston this week, I’d like to introduce the first ever GUEST BLOG POST for The Three Bite Rule!Miss Liz writes:

To celebrate my friend’s brithday we decided it would be fun to go out to a new restaurant and one that was a bit fancier for the occasion. Because we are not city people, we choose Summer Winter in Burlington, MA. We liked the idea that they used local products and even had their own on site green house.  We had a full view of the green house from our table which was fun!

So how was our night? Fun, but the meal was overall rather bland.

I started with a Bibb lettuce salad with almonds and manchego cheese topped with tomato cumin vinaigrette. This was actually quite good all thanks to the vinaigrette which was the right amount of tangy and creamy.

My friend, Mrs E had the “Summer Winter Salad” with greens from the green house, local apple, Belgian endive, and cider vinaigrette, which she liked.
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Her husband, Mr. C opted for the split pea soup, but he though Mrs. E makes a better soup.
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For our main course, Mrs. E went with one of the specials. She had an Asian chicken dish which was the best dinner of the three. She got 5 pieces of fried chicken, fried rice and broccoli and a soy sauce dressing.
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Mr. C had the 16oz bone in rib eye with mash potatoes. Now, this part was fun: for each “grilled main” dish, you get to pick your our sauce! They have 6 choices, but our server recommended Mom’s sauce which is a balsamic base. Mr. C liked the meal, but didn’t think it was anything special.
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I felt the same way about my dinner. Everything was cooked ok, just nothing great. I had the roasted half chicken with lemon garlic and rosemary and for my starch I choose Mom’s corn custard.
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Well, it turns our the corn custard is really code for corn bread. This was also bland and I added some salt to give it a bit more flavor. I was actually really disappointed with the chicken. The skin was not crispy…it was basically limp and I decided to removed it.

That left me with very plan chicken, since all of the flavoring had gone with the chicken skin. So thank goodness for Mom’s sauce to rescue my bland meal.

Now, because this was a birthday dinner we all had dessert. The birthday girl opted for the chocolate caramel tart with chocolate marshmallow ice cream. She thought the tart was too rich and was only able to eat a few bites.
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I had the warm sticky toffee pudding. It was good, but not what I thought it would be. It was expecting something gooey. It was more of a toffee muffin with caramel sauce, but the best dessert of the night, so the three of us ended up splitting it since it was also better than Mr. C’s pineapple upside down cake.
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Would I go back to Summer Winter? No. But I had a great night because it was fun to celebrate a friends birthday and we all dressed up for the dinner which made it more special.Each meal with starter and dessert probably ran around $50 which was why we tried Summer Winter on a special occasion. A few other groups in the restaurant seemed to be doing the same thing.

Special thanks for the guest blog post. If YOU would like to be a guest blogger, email emily@thethreebiterule.com!

Hola Empanada

Tacos make dinner feel like a party! I couldn’t remember making tacos since living in this apartment (about a year and a half). Mr. J swears we have but I don’t think so. We’ve definitely had burritos and even a tortilla pie, but I don’t think I’ve made hard tacos in years! I wanted something a bit more than a few tacos for the meal so I thought of empanadas….or my version.
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My favorite Mexian would cringe but I LOVE them with puff pastry, rather than pie dough. Since I’m not the slightest bit Mexican, I don’t care. Puff pastry is so flaky and buttery that I can’t switch to pie dough no matter how much of an impostor it makes these.I had a craving for tacos and was loving the fact that these weren’t going to require too many ingredients other than what I had on hand.Again, work is nutty right now and will be for about 40-something more days so tacos were a fun & quick weeknight meal.Remember when I became a genius and started getting up an hour earlier each morning? I chopped my veggies for the empanadas and defrosted some of the other ingredients so I was a step ahead when I got home.

Ingredients

frozen puff pastry sheets, defrosted
1 zucchini, chopped
1 onion, chopped
1 tbs grilling rub, taco seasoning, or chili powder

Directions

Chop zucchini and onion and toss with spices of choice
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Saute until slightly soft
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Unfold puff pastry sheet and cut into 9-3 inch squares
Add zucchini and onion mixture into the center and fold into triangles to close
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Bake 20 minutes at 375 until golden brown
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These are so easy and a great side. Anything goes in empanadas but I think they make for the perfect warm side or appetizer and since I was serving them with tacos, I figured a veggie filling would be best. Puff pastry is flaky and puffs just how the name suggests so mine never seem to stay closed and I’m A-OK with that. This time I pinched the opposite corners together (making them less and less authentic all the time).

My tacos featured ground chicken, refried beans, lettuce, corn, cheese, and salsa in hard taco shells. I used some leftover ground chicken from my lasagna meat mix.

Life Savor Fundraiser Event Meal

The other night I had the pleasure of attending a benefit for one of my favorite organizations: Community Servings. I got to know them because they are a beneficiary of the fundraising my organization works so hard to raise.

Community Servings provides THOUSANDS of meals to patients, their caregivers, and dependants battling critical illnesses. I’ve volunteered in their amazing kitchen and I’ve had their delectable catering. Their annual Life Savor event raised $445,000 this year!

A group of my colleagues and I went and had the greatest time. The event starts with a cocktail party generously sponsored by the Langham Hotel. I’ve been to events at this hotel so amidst the crowds, I brought the gang to the “promise land” as Mrs. A called it: the Grey Goose Martini bar. Yum. We munched and drank while checking out the silent auction items before dinner.

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Dinner is at one of 80 different restaurants providing a special three course meal. Do you see the speckles? It snowed! We are taken on trolleys to a meal I’ll remember forever at West Side Lounge in Cambridge.

We started our meal with an aperitif with house-made, organic, citrus vodka muddled with blueberries. It was so delicious and a great way to welcome us which GM Leo Crowley continued by sending out an amuse bouche of a Chatham Oyster with a dollop of avocado creme fraiche paired with lightly fruity & Loire Valley white wine. From here we perused our special menus.

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As a food blogger, I loved that the GM introduced himself AND took our order. He talked us through the meal as well as the wine pairings. I could tell he pulled out all the stops on this meal. That’s precisely the reason I don’t always love restaurant week with it’s dumbed down menus and annoyed staff. I love that I have a newly discovered nearby restaurant!
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Our first course was a choice of Asparagus Creme Soup or Baby Spinach Salad with strawberries and toasted walnuts. I got the salad and was impressed that the strawberries were perfectly ripe despite this time of year. I didn’t taste the champagne vinaigrette but thought the dressing was good. Chardonnay provided a cool and refreshing pairing.

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Our second course was a pasta course. GM Leo told us that they tried making their own pasta and just couldn’t compete with Dave’s Fresh Pasta in my own Davis Square! This pasta course was Tomato, basil, and ricotta ravioli or lobster ravioli. I never turn down lobster so that’s what I went with. These have huge chunks of lobster inside and you can tell Dave’s Fresh Pasta didn’t skimp on the lobster here. Pinot Noir is my favorite red wine so this was one of my favorite glass.

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The main course was a choice of Parmesan Cod from Gloucester with basil mashed, asparagus and a tomato white wine sauce or Lamb Lollies with whipped potatoes and pea tendrils. I can only eat very small quantities of very specific red meat varieites but I went with the lamb. This was a great cut of lamb cooked perfectly pink. I don’t come across pea tendrils often, but I’m not convinced they were really part of the simple salad…the leaves seemed to big to be pea tendrils but I’m no connoisseur so maybe I’m mistaken. This meal was paired with another red wine but I was more focused on the food so I left with wine alone.

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More…yes, there’s more food and wine to come.

Our last (count ‘em, 4 courses) was dessert. Somehow we chatted about figs on the way to dinner and they showed up! Warm chocolate and fig bread pudding or flourless chocolate cake. Thank you West Side Lounge for providing true desserts (each with chocolate). We were busting at the seams so we all shared bites of each one instead of ordering our own. Unfortunately there was so much wine with each pairing, I could barely enjoy the riesling.

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I can’t thank West Side Lounge enough for participating in this very special fundraiser. I loved the meal, I loved the staff, and I will love to go back.

Intense Garlic & Balsamic Vinegar Chicken

I’d categorize Mr. J as a sauce person whereas my sauces don’t always come out perfectly. I think they are coming along. I made a lot of sauce even when making chicken-for-two. This was a FLAVORFUL meal.
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This was a pretty quick meal to put together and I loved the vinegar flavor. It felt different and made me want to use balsamic vinegar more often.

Ingredients

2 chicken thighs
1 tbsp olive oil
1 tbsp flour
1 tbsp butter, softened
3 cloves garlic, minced
3 tbs balsamic vinegar
1 cup of chicken broth

Directions

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.
Season chicken thighs with salt and pepper.
Heat the olive oil and cook chicken thighs until a medium golden brown, about 5 minutes.
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Flip the chicken over and cook for about 3 minutes.
Put chicken into the oven and bake for 10 minutes.
Add garlic to the chicken pan (careful: don’t let it burn).
Stir in balsamic vinegar and chicken broth over a low boil.

Whisk in mixed flour and butter to thicken sauce, cooking for about 2 more minutes over low.
Add in chicken and coat in sauce and cook for 5 minutes.
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I liked the balsamic flavor but also think I put in too much (I used about ⅓ cup) so I’d recommend a quantity of a few tablespoons.I eat a solid amount of chicken but I don’t use chicken thighs very often. They were a great change. A little dark meat here and there never hurts.
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I served this with mashed potatoes (with a touch of sour cream) and steamed green beans. It was a really comforting meal.