Bacon Caramel Corn

Last time I made caramel corn I was really impressed, this time it was a bit off. The idea was on, but I’ve included some tweaks and will give it another go. I used a bit too little caramel for so much popcorn so I’ve upped the liquid quantities below.

Ingredients:

3 cups popped popcorn
1/2 cup salted cashews
4 slices of thick cut bacon cooked, and chopped
3 tablespoons butter
1/3 cup brown sugar
1/3 cup honey
3 tbs maple syrup
1 teaspoon vanilla
1/2 teaspoon baking soda

Directions:

Preheat oven to 275 degrees. Line a baking sheet with a silicone mat.
In a large bowl mix the popped popcorn, nuts, and bacon.
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Over medium heat stir the butter, brown sugar, and honey until butter melts. Stir in syrup. Bring to boiling over medium heat. Boil at a moderate, steady rate for a couple of minutes. Remove from heat. Stir in vanilla and baking soda (mixture will foam up).
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Pour the liquid mixture over the popcorn mixture in bowl; stir to coat well.
Transfer to a large baking sheet and bake for 10 minutes, stirring every few minutes.
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Remove from the oven and let it cool. If you want clusters leave it; if you want bite sized pieces then spread it out to cool.

The maple + caramel + smokey bacon was great. I liked the flavors but think too little caramel left too many pieces barely covered so it was a bit too sticky and soggy.
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Biz Cards

Back during my 1st blogaversary, I said mapped out my goals. One of them was to get business cards. The day has come.

drum roll please!
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Aren’t they awesome? That’s the front and back. So snazzy. I’m really excited.

Also, the day has come to drop down to 2 posts a week until my event at work is over. This is my busiest time of year and it’s all I can do to be a real person (like do laundry, go to the gym, walk the dog, and eat real food) and to do what I need to do to stay sane when I’m not working (like lounge, sleep, read, watch dumb tv). Every year is like this so I knew it was coming. In June I’ll be back to 3 posts per week.

In the meantime, send me a guest post (emily@thethreebiterule) or wish me luck!

Guest Post: A Special Meal For The Birthday Girl

Here’s the special guest post I mentioned earlier from Justin:

While I do not share the same enthusiasm for my birthday, I know that birthday celebrations are one of the most important times of the year for my wife. I knew I wanted to cook a special meal for her, and I wanted something without a complex list of ingredients. I also wanted something I had cooked before, to save myself the pressure of testing new things. I went with Columbus’ Pork Chops, and substituted the suggested side of salad and crusty bread for wilted spinach. This recipe is from one of our go-to cookbooks, Rachel Ray’s 365: No Repeats (http://www.amazon.com/Rachael-Ray-365-Repeats-Deliciously/dp/1400082544). When I first started reading through the directions, I was thinking it was too simple for a guest blog post, but once I started preparing and taking photos, I felt like there was enough substance for the many readers of The Three Bite Rule.

Columbus’ Pork Chops

Ingredients:

4 boneless, thick-cut pork chops
Salt and freshly ground black pepper
1 pint strawberries, sliced
1 cup basil leaves, chopped
1/4 balsamic vinegar
2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil (EVOO)

Directions:

Preheat the oven to 375. Season the chops with salt and pepper and let them come to room temperature, about 20 minutes.
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In a medium bowl, toss the strawberries with the basil and vinegar and let stand for 15 to 20 minutes.

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Heat an ovenproof skillet over medium-high heat. Add the EVOO to the skillet and sear and caramelize the meat for 2 to 3 minutes on each side.
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Transfer the skillet to the oven and roast for 10 to 12 minutes, until the juices run clear and the meat is firm but not hard (I always use our meat thermometer and it never fails to produce perfectly cooked meat!). Let the meat rest for 5 minutes.
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Mound the macerated berries on top of the chops and serve.
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I was really impressed with how it turned out, and even more impressed with my plating. I am confident it would have been enough to win over the toughest Chopped judges! It was a pretty straightforward, yet elegant presentation, and Emily was really happy with it.

I also wanted to add in a special dessert, and decided that I could gamble on baking something new after the success of the main course. I grabbed a box of Betty Crocker Decadent Supreme Molten Lava Cakes, and to my surprise they turned out perfectly!
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Birthday Party Theme: Apps & Zerts

This year may have been my best birthday theme ever. My life in event planning is Parks & Rec…to a tee. It is perfectly accurate in case you were wondering. I’m reasonably sure most of the jurisdictions I work with have assistants who are bribed not to let calls go through. They’ve referenced the piles of paper they have to get through and regularly do me a favor, by doing their jobs. Work hasn’t made me bitter, but I see the disparity in customer service all the time. I have a special place in my heart for park folks around the country who take their jobs as seriously as Leslie Knope.

Mr. J took all the photos so I could enjoy myself. It was wonderful and delicious. My friends are really talented. Somehow I thought there’d be a more manageable quantity of food compared to last year’s birthday food theme, but (K)nope, there was more!
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Without further ado, here they are!

Here’s the app winner: Not Swanson’s Zucchini Goat cheese Rolls (the winner won Ron Swanson paper dolls)
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This is the zert winner: S’more Cups (this winner got Leslie Knope paper dolls)
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These had LOTS of votes so it won a runner up award aka, a sketch of Tom Haverford
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This runner up got a sketch of Ben Wyatt since the flavors were so complex
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This runner up got the Chris Trager health award

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This runner up got a sketch of Donna since I thought Donna would find this Benz-worthy
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There was so much food! This one was mine!
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this was mine too!

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apps_zerts_brownies_590_390 Are you hungry now?

Greek Meatball Wraps

On one of those beautiful pre-spring days I wanted to put something together for dinner that was filling but lighter. This hit the spot. These Greek meatball wraps were warm, cool, crispy, meaty, and crunchy. I was really happy with these and will definitely make these again.
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Ingredients:

16 oz ground chicken
1 tsp ground garlic
1 ½ tsp dried oregano
½ tsp cinnamon
1 egg
½ cup breadcrumbs
¼ cup oatmeal
1 shallot, chopped

Directions:

Mix meatball mix together and let sit for 5 minutes before baking.
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Preheat oven to 375 degrees.
Roll into balls and bake for 30 minutes.
greek_meatball_formed_590_390I use a cooling rack ontop of a baking sheet. It helps keep the meatballs crispy and not soggy from the grease (there’s not much grease since I used ground chicken rather than beef).
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I served them on wheat naan wraps with tzatziki, veggies, hummus, and feta. Check out whose nose was a bit too close for comfort!
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These were really good. The meatballs were crispy on the outside and juicy on the inside. I don’t fry my meatballs since a) I hate frying for the mess & the oil and b) it’s much easier and healthier in the oven.

I liked the wraps. The naan was perfect. Since it’s more pricy, leftovers were in wheat pitas. The pitas worked fine. I liked how doughy the naan was.
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Multiple Birthdays

My birthdays are the best. I pluralize it since I usually try to ensure that it is several days/meals long.

I had to work on my birthday. I know, bummer. I knew it was coming so at least I could mentally prepare. To work’s defense, my birthday did fall on a Saturday this year. I’m just a baby and consider my birthday to be a national holiday. (It is a holiday in Japan! Doll Day!)
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I came home from work and Mr. J’s presents began! He designed my business cards! Woohoo! Wait till you see ‘em…they’re amazing. He also planned, shopped, and was ready to blog dinner. AND THEN he made dessert. All before we left on our date! He’s the best. For dinner we had pork with a balsamic strawberry topping over wilted spinach. Ohh so good. Then he made molten lava cakes! What a keeper. Stay tuned for his post.

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The next night I had my family birthday at my parents house with my parents, Sis, Gram, and Mr. J. Usually I request Coq au Vin, but since I got Mum’s recipe I have to make it myself.

We had pork stuffed with boursin and apricots. It was funny they each thought of pork for me. Love those pigs. Unfortunately the pictures are MIA :-(

At work, Ms. K made me a pirate themed ice cream cake. Yay! I had a pirate hat and everyone else had eye patches. I’m pretty psycho at work right now so there wasn’t much time to celebrate but the cake was delicious. She remembered that a) I love pirates and b) that ice cream cake is my fav!

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In an effort to extend my birthday celebrations (and to be reasonable in not trying to host after working all day) I celebrated my birthday again the next weekend. If last year was any indication there are a lot of photos so hold tight. Just you wait for the theme.


Crockpot Sesame Chicken

My crock-pot really doesn’t get as much action as I’d like. I really want it to get out more.

Most slowcooker meals need to cook 4-6 hours. There’s an occasional 8 hours but when I’m gone about 11 hours it just seems like if it has to “keep warm” so long after the cook time that it won’t be that great. I decided to do something with chicken on a Sunday since I’d be able to cook it just the required 4 or 5 hours. I’d be home for the wonderful smells in those hours too!
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It wasn’t fantastic. I guess you can judge this one on your own. Mr. J wasn’t crazy about it, but he’s just really crazy about sesame chicken at his hometown restaurant and it couldn’t compete with that. This is a good one to switch things up if you’re eating the same things over and over again.
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Slowcooker Sesame Chicken

(adapted from Keeping Up With the Joneses)

Ingredients:

3 chicken breasts
1 bag of baby carrots
1 cup chicken broth
¼ cup honey
2 tbs garlic, minced
2 tbs ginger, minced
2 tbs soy sauce
2 tbs sesame oil (optional)
4 tbs cornstarch (with 3 tsp water)
2 tbs sesame seeds

Directions:

Cut chicken into cube chunks and add to the slow cooker with carrots.
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Mix chicken broth, honey, garlic, giner, soy sauce, sesame oil and add to the slow cooker.
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Cook on high for 4-5 hours.
Remove chicken and keep warm while mixing the rest of the sauce in the slow cooker itself or in a pot on the stove.
Mix the cornstarch and water and whisk into the sauce.
Let it cook on medium high for about 5 minutes as it thickens.
Serve it all together and top with sesame seeds.
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We had this over rice (his = white, hers = brown). I liked that it had some different flavors than we’d had recently, but it really couldn’t beat the deep fried version of Mr. J’s favorite Chinese restaurant.

The leftovers were pretty good the next day for lunch too! I just felt like it didn’t add anything for this to cook that long. I think I could have pretty easily made the same thing, if not better, by adapting the recipe and cooking it to serve, rather than in the crock-pot.

Salmon Burger

I’m posting out of sequence so it might look like I’m eating bugers non-stop. Mr. J had some venison so I bought myself some fish. Salmon was on sale so that sealed the deal. If I’d been coordinated, I’d have made a pie for pi day so, happy 3.14!

I’m talking $2.68 for a POUND of salmon. That’s several servings. Whoa!
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I was doing to cook it in the oven with butter, lemon, & dill but then I had this strange hankering for a salmon burger. It came out of nowhere. I’ve never even EATEN a salmon burger before, but this was wicked good.

Ingredients:

½ cup panko breadcrumbs
¾ cup breadcrumbs
1 pound salmon
1 tsp dried dill
1 tsp lemon juice
1 egg½ tsp garlic

Directions:

Cut salmon off the skin
Add breadcrumbs, salmon, dill, and lemon juice to a food processor and pulse a few times until combined. (I was out of breadcrumbs so these are some homemade croutons becoming breadcrumbs).
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Mix in an egg and garlic by hand.
Form into patties & grill
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I served these with spinach, some tzatziki, and mustard on a grilled wheat roll. I liked the creamy component and thought the cukes, garlic, and dill of the tzatziki were really good with the salmon.
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I made 3 burgers out of it and really enjoyed this as something different. The other 2 are frozen and I’m sure will be a great surprise some night when I feel like there’s nothing for dinner.

It stayed together much better than I expected, but I did arm Mr. J with some super duty aluminum foil for the burger on the grill.

I wouldn’t ever order a salmon burger at a restaurant so I think this was a fun/easy one to make at home. I think if a restaurant is cooking my fish I’ll have them taking the tougher method.

Cost Breakdown:

1 pound of salmon: $2.68
breadcrumbs: ~$0.55
lemon for juice: $0.89
roll: $1.59
tzatziki: $0.41
total:  $6.12 (for 3 burgers) or $2.04 each!

Making Crab Rangoons at Home

Even non-fish eaters like crab rangoons and all the guest bloggers I’ve had recently got me inspired to use some wontons.

These were a fun app to make at home, and I liked that I had more control of them…which meant that there was wayyy more crab in them than in those of take-out Chinese restaurants.

Ingredients:

8 oz crabmeat (or imitation crab)
4 oz cream cheese
2 tbs mayo
3 green onions, chopped
splash soy sauce
spash of sesame oil
wonton wrappers

Directions:

Mix crab, cream cheese, mayo, green onions, and sauces together and let sit for 10 minutes.
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Preheat oven to 375 degrees
Stuff each wonton by putting about ½ tsp of filling into the center of the wonton and bringing the corners to meet in the middle. This forms a purse shape. Or put the filling in the center and bring 1 set of opposite corners to meet, forming a triangle.
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Spray lightly with nonstick spray and bake for 10 minutes.

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My triangles oozed a bit, but were much crispier. The purses were really cute and ensured evenly filled bites, but didn’t bake up as crispy. That triangular ooze of crisped crab was amazing. Not that I’d ever taste for the sake of presentation.
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Mr. J LOVES sweet and sour sauce so I bought probably the world’s largest jar at the grocery store (think 40 oz for $2.99). It isn’t quite like take-out Chinese sweet and sour, but I like it better. Want to know the first ingredient? Of course you do!

It is apricots!
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Wow. I never would have guessed. This actually has distinguishable chunks.  I lucked out with the real crab on sale. I bet imitation isn’t bad since that’s probably what the restaurants are using anyway.

Crab Rangoon Cost:

8 oz crabmeat: $6.75 (it was on sale and wasn’t imitation crabmeat)
4 oz cream cheese: $0.75
2 oz mayo: $0.30
green onions: free! (I did this, but note it really only worked once, after that the color was a lot lighter and the flavor was pretty weak)
wontons: $1.25
total: $9.05 for about 24 crab rangoons or about $0.37 per piece.

This beats my local take-out option which sells about 8 for $8.75, though, they do bring it to my door so that has to count for something.

 

Greek Stuffed Burgers

Way back when I made stuffed burgers. These were themed for Mr. J (blue cheese & bacon) but I had all sorts of plans for other fillings.
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It’s been quite awhile, but I made them again! This time I made a Greek inspired one and grilled it. Ohh my burger goodness. I filled them with feta and topped them with spinach, red onions, and cucumber. These burgers are delicious and great for something different.
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Hmmm. Sky’s the limit for burger toppings/stuffings. Maybe a cowboy caramelized onions/bbq sauce/cheddar stuffed burger will be next. Or maybe a Southwestern with Pepperjack cheese and salsa.