Best Fries of My Life

Want to hear all about my vacay? Ok, great!

I feel like I’ve been traveling non-stop for work. Luckily, I get to go to pretty great places (love Chicago, and San Fran x2) but it definitely makes me focused on maintaining my everyday life when I am home (seeing my people, going to the gym, cooking real food, blogging, etc).

As much as I was tiring of living out of my suitcase every other week, I stayed after one of my trips and Mr. J came to meet me. I was really tempted to opt for a more relaxed getaway but I do truly love San Fran and I was psyched to share it with Mr. J for the first time.

You might think that spending time in a city I’ve been to about 5x might be relaxing, but he and I are like sightseers on speed. We literally race around a city to see all the sites, learn the history, do as the locals do, all while capturing the best photography light (for him) and eating fun local finds (for me- as seen here) . This is precisely why our honeymoon cruise through Europe was so appealing to mix up the relaxing I-don’t-have-to-think (as in I’ll just show up for dinner after lounging by the pool) with how-to-see-Rome-in-a-day.

I have a few meals to share with you from this trip. They are actually both restaurants I’ve been to before. I know that might not seem exciting, but I’m telling you. After running up & down hills for about 7 hours a day without stopping for lunch meant that by dinner time we were starved and trying to regroup after a busy day. Even I don’t want to browse reviews and price ranges at that point. Our hotel did have homemade cookies all the time and that’s quite the treat when choosing a dinner location ;)

With that long winded recap, I give you Jasper’s Corner Tap & Kitchen!
Jasper's
I ate here after working a 24-hour event. We work for a million hours through the night, sleep for a few hours then everyone is up and ready for food. A group of us ended up here and I thought it was just so charming. They have this crazy-good side of brussels sprouts pedals with bacon and filberts…sooo good and definitely I want to attempt to recreate. This time I brought Mr. J back and he loved it too.

I was sad that they don’t have a veggie, turkey, or chicken burger since I can’t eat red meat, but I do get that chefs are sometimes quite against fake-burgers. It’s not really a burger-joint per se, but that’s what I had in mind. I did 100% get on board with a grilled cheese with pork belly.
Jaspers Pork Belly Grilled Cheese
Seriously best grilled cheese I’ve ever had. It was perfectly grilled on some quality bread. This was a substantial sandwich served piping hot. There’s not much worse than a limp, tepid grilled cheese. I liked the tomato and onion relish on a few bites too.

Mr. J got the “J Burger” how appropriate?! It had blue cheese, bacon onion marmalade…after that topping, need I say more? I’m sure it tasted better than my fuzzy-low-light photo makes it look!
Jasper's burger
Now, one of the best parts: the fries. This restaurant has a French. Fry. menu. The fries are seriously good enough to deserve their own menu. We splurged and got a side of fries to share in addition to the fries that came with his burger.
Jasper's fries
We had the regular thin fries and thick cut truffle parmesan. I was so impressed that Jasper’s really knows what they are doing with the fries and does it really well. These suckers are seriously addicting. I couldn’t stop reaching for more.

Needless to say we were wayyy too stuffed for any dessert. I learned a lot about their desserts from an obnoxiously loud table nearby who our sweet server humored and unfortunately the owner seemed to dote on. Chocolate cake with toffee ice cream dipped in chocolate does sound delicious now though.

Our server was from MA too and was so full of personality. She was great and I was FLOORED that she remembered the work group when I mentioned I’d been there a month ago. She remembered where we had been sitting. This gal was so great, attentive, and made us feel at home. Speaking of feeling at home, the fries didn’t hurt either.

What I Ate: Antipasto

The Italian salad ‘antipasto’ itself means before the meal. Well, this was THE meal. I chose some meats, cheeses, and paired them with veggies. I made my own croutons and drizzled a balsamic reduction.
Antipasto Salad
This was a perfect dinner on a hot night. I’m trying to be conscious about adding some easier, less strenuous meals. Sometimes I burn myself out by trying to one-up my own meals

every.
single.
day.

This is really where this What I Ate series came from. Easy things that aren’t worth blogging are good too. I always have a soft spot for an easy meal that can just highlight quality ingredients. I feel like Joey eating Rachel’s trifle/shepard’s pie. Fresh mozzarella? good! gouda? good! english cucumbers? good! pepperoni? good!
Rachel’s Dessert

This is also a great belated tribute to my Dad’s bday. He can’t cook much but his antipasti are out of this world!

Cookies and Cream Popcorn

I love making funky popcorns. I have actually made one since this bacon caramel corn
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and this Cranberry Pecan Caramel Corn
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but it wasn’t quite up to snuff so I didn’t blog it. It was birthday popcorn and it needs a bit of tweaking. I thought of cookies n’ cream popcorn for Ms. L’s bday. It was super easy (and turned out super sweet).

Ingredients:

2 cups air popped popcorn
1 cup white chocolate chips
12 oreos
2 tbs butter

Directions:

Pop the popcorn and crush the oreos (they don’t have to be uniformly crushed)
oreo popcorn
In a double boiler, melt the chips and butter. Stirring regularly.
oreo_popcorn_wet_590_390
Preheat oven to 300 degrees.
Mix popcorn and crushed oreos together.
oreo popcorn
Add melted white chocolate mixture together with the popcorn and oreos.
oreo popcorn close up
Spread onto parchment paper or silicone lined baking sheet.
Bake for 10 minutes.
oreo popcorn baked

It was super sweet. Maybe too sweet? I’m not a white chocolate person so that could have something to do with it as well. Next up is some-sort of savory popcorn. Hmmm. I’ll have to get on that one ;)

Restaurant Recreation: Chicken Cordon Bleu Calzone

In my world, there’s nothing better than take-out and DVR Friday nights. I’m old at heart and this is my ideal way to end the week. It feels so right to be lazy and loungy and doesn’t make me feel guilty at all. Saturday & Sunday mornings are a different story. I feel the need to get stuff done…immediately. Plus, in this heat do you really want to be crazy like me and crank your oven?

I don’t usually plan dinners for Friday night and Mr. J gives me a sly grin saying “how ‘bout we order something?”. I am the cheap one so often I’m the one who would eat something weird that I can come up with from the depths of the freezer or pantry rather than going out. Since we moved to the burbs our take-out delivery is slightly more limited. We tend to go with pizza or Chinese.

I got a chicken cordon bleu calzone from a local pizza joint and was stoked. Enough for lunch leftovers over the weekend! Woohoo! It was amazing and I wanted to recreate it.
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I made regular chicken cordon bleu and loved it but this calzone was definitely the easy way out.
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Ingredients:

4 breaded chicken tenders
8 oz shredded Swiss cheese
4 slices deli ham
Pizza dough
2 cups arugula
1 egg + 1 tbs water = eggwash

Directions:

Cook chicken according to directions (or bread and bake your own!)
Spread pizza dough onto a baking sheet.
Chop chicken, ham, and arugula.
Layer the chicken, cheese, ham, and arugula over the pizza dough.
Remember to include fillings almost to the edge and keep layering eventhough it will look like too much filling.
Close pizza dough over to seal shut.
Cut a few slits into the top and brush with eggwash (optional)
Bake 30-40 minutes until golden brown.
Let sit 5 minutes before slicing (or you’ll have an oozer)

Since I can’t pretend I made this idea up, I’m not tooting my own horn saying this was soooo good. I loved the swiss in there. That’s different than most of my calzones. I threw the arugula in since I had it and figured a little green never hurt anyone!
cordon_bleu_calzonecut_590_390
The pre-made chicken tenders made it super simple. Those suckers are dirt cheap. Maybe that’s why there are so many kids who don’t know chicken in another form. Whatever. I’m not an 8-year-old but having these in the freezer reduced this recipe to purely an assembly project.

I’ve said it before, and I’ll say it again. The calzone will look like it’s wayyy over stuffed but not enough filling is definitely a rookie mistake.

Cost:

4 breaded chicken tenders $1.14
8 oz shredded Swiss: $2.75
4 slices of ham: $0.75
Refrigerated pizza dough: $1.99
2 cups Arugula: $1.33
Total: $7.96 serves 4 for $1.99 per person
Total at my local pizza joint: small for $9.69 serves 2 for $4.84 per person

It is kind of crazy that I know I can make it for $1.99 per person and as frugal as I am I’ll still pay $4.84 per person for somebody to make it and bring it to me.  Whatever, don’t judge ;)

Sandwich Meal Board

Need a good summer sandwich idea? Ms. A shared her sandwich with me…well, not the actual sandwich but what her sandwich was!

sourdough bread, toasted
sundried tomato pesto
tomato
avocado
swiss cheese

Sandwich IdeaYum!

What are your makings of a good sandwich?

What I Ate: BBQ Ranch

Yup, I’m still trying to rock this what I ate series. Today I’m sharing a quick and easy sandwich with my bounty of the farmer’s market. Tis the season!

I couldn’t NOT buy these English muffins (as in they even brought out a double-negative from me). They were better than any I’d ever had and made good olde Thomas pale in comparison. These were fluffy and doughy and crisped nicely when toasted but still held their shape.
what i ate muffin
Add some grilled chicken, tomatoes, ahhhrugula, and bbq ranch sauce and you’ve got this sandwich!
what I ate sandwich
The BBQ ranch sauce = 2 parts bbq sauce to 1 parts ranch dressing & shake. I put this on both English muffin pieces and even may have spread a bit on the chicken too.
whatiate_bbq_ranch_590_390
These were really good on a hot night!

Manhandling Manicotti

Manicotti is totally not seasonally appropriate but I don’t care. I love pasta in all forms and figured I’d try out manicotti one night when it wasn’t too hot to have the oven on. I can’t say this is my favorite. I really love lasagna  and stuffed shells come in a close second, but my manicotti was good. They’re just tougher to assemble than stuffed shells. It was a labor of patience.

I should give Amy’s manicotti a try  she learned to make it with Monterey jack slices instead of ricotta from her mom. That sounds easier and maybe cheesier!

Look who photo bombed my picture! Windsor is often underfoot in the kitchen so I figured I wouldn’t crop him out of this one. It’s a tough one to capture since he’s black against cherry cabinets so nevermind how over exposed it is, just look for the red collar!
The three Bite Rule puppy photobomb

Ingredients:

1 box Manicotti shells
2 cups tomato sauce
32 oz. ricotta
1 egg
1 cup baby spinach (optional)
1 tbs chopped garlic
2 tbs Italian seasoning
1 cup shredded mozzarella

Directions:

Boil manicotti until about 50% cooked, be sure not to overcook them then drain
Mix ricotta, egg, chopped spinach, garlic, Italian seasoning, and ¾ cup mozzarella until combined.
manicotti_ricotta_590_390
Preheat the oven to 375 degrees and prep a baking dish with nonstick spray and ½ cup tomato sauce
Carefully spoon ricotta mixture into the manicotti shells. (I used a teaspoon and filled using both ends (and gravity).
Spread sauce over the top, cover with foil, and bake for 35 minutes.
The Three Bite Rule manicotti
Remove the cover, sprinkle with remaining mozzarella and bake for another 5 minutes until golden and melty.
The Three Bite Rule manicotti

I added the spinach because I often have some leftover and it is an easy/healthy way to sneak a veggie into this. When I have leftovers I toss it into a plastic container in the freezer if I can’t use it right away. The ability to cook it or eat spinach raw makes it my favorite green.

This is a good one to make & freeze if you aren’t into eating it meal after meal! It would be a good one to give my cousins-in-law who are now new parents (if they weren’t 2,000+ miles away)!

If I just scared you off….

Check out my baked ziti for easier assembly 
baked_ziti_scoop_590_390
or check out Martha’s Butternut Squash Lasagna I made and fell in love with if you are wishing fall upon us
squash_lasag_plate_590_390

Corn, Avocado, and Cuke Salad

I have a brief (but delicious) one for you today. I just got back from San Fran and have a lot of catching up to do. I made this side salad for Father’s day since my dad is all about the avocados recently. It is a bit delayed but couldn’t be more perfect for the crazy heat we’re having here on the East Coast (San Fran, not so much). I liked it as an easy alternative for a veggie side.

Ingredients:

2 cups corn
1 large cucumber (I used an English cuke so I didn’t have to peal it and there would be some dark green)
1 avocado
2 tbs chives (or green onions)
2 tbs Italian salad dressing
dash of salt

Directions:

Cook corn and roast corn slightly (roasting = optional).
corn roasting for corn/avocado/cuke salad
Chop cucumber, avocado, and chives.
Combine dressing with all the chopped ingredients and serve immediately.
corn avocado cuke salad thethreebiterule.com
Tip: leave out the avocado until serving but the rest can be prepped earlier that day
corn_salad_mixed_590_390

I like the color and textures in this one. I would have been tempted to throw in some tomatoes if I had any around. The chives came from my garden and yes, they are the only edible thing growing right now. I’m crossing my fingers for my tomato plant that seems to be rockin’ some green future-tomatoes.

I think it also lends itself well to a Mexican meal or if you have an abundance of fresh corn this summer! It is light and cool so serve it at your next bbq and throw any leftovers into a quesadilla or onto your salad or dip into it with chips.

What I Ate: Couscous

To continue this What I Ate series, I have a fun side for you.

This was a perfect summer meal. Marinated grilled chicken and couscous packed with veggies. I loved the flavor and was really jazzed about the couscous as a side. It might not look extra special but it was just right.
what I ate : couscous
I cooked the couscous as I normally would but I roasted tomatoes while the couscous was cous-ing. I added the roasted tomatoes, and spinach I chopped up as if it were an herb. Worked like a charm to use a somewhat small amount of leftover spinach and “hide” it in a way. I added a touch of butter and Dijon. Perfect!

Ingredients:
Israeli couscous
10 grape tomatoes
1-2 cups spinach, cut chiffonade
1 tbs butter (or 2 if you’re being real)
1 tbs dijon mustard

Grilled Pineapple Salsa

I was thinking I wanted to make salsa once my work event was over I was thinking not just any salsa. Something crazy! I haven’t made salsa before but I winged it and it came out good. I wish it was spicier but I wasn’t sure that would appeal to the crowd.

I also can’t say I actually knew how spicy it was going to be anyway.
pineapple_salsa_mixed_590_390

Ingredients:

5 tomatoes, chopped
1 jalapeno, diced (seeds and
1 onion
2 garlic clove minced
1 lime, juiced & zested
½ pineapple, grilled
¼ tsp red pepper flakes
¼ tsp hot sauce
¼ tsp salt

Directions:

Blend 4 tomatoes, onion, garlic, and jalapeno.
pineapple_salsa_mush_590_390
Add the jalapeno, then the last tomato, lime juice, lime zest, red pepper flakes, hot sauce, and salt.
Grill pineapple 2-3 minutes per side until lightly charred.
pineapple_salsa_grilled_590_390
Chop the pineapple and add to the salsa.
Let it sit at least 2 hours before serving.
pineapple_salsa_close_590_390

Salsa was totally easy. I was worried after I blended the tomatoes. It seemed too pink but it was a good amount of liquid to add the chunks to. I like it super chunky so I left the pineapple really big chunks.
pineapple_salsa_mixed_590_390
Any salsa tips for me next time? It was good, but maybe the next one can be great!