Behind the Food Trucks

Do you watch the Great Food Truck Race? I’m obsessed. I love it. They were in BOSTON and I didn’t even know it! I googled to see when it was actually filmed but now I know where they parked. The finale is Sunday night. I’ll be glued to the food network. Anywho, there are a bunch of food trucks that park right near my office and I’ve never shyed away from food truck events.

Last fall I went to this food truck festival and had some fightin’ words.
I happened upon the make-up event for the Greenway’s Food Trucks.
I featured a guest post of a food truck festival.

They do make me wonder about the logistics since that’s my area. Permits in Boston are redonkulous. Trust me, I get permits for parks, parades, food service, fire safety etc and they are no small feat. I also wonder about where they park at night, how they track their sales, hiring, and how they got the truck outfitted to begin with.

Boston’s probably ONLY helpful page of the city’s website is about food trucks. There’s a schedule of who will be parked where that is searchable. It also has tips to get a business started. Now, maybe you’re not trying to start a business (I know I’m not!) but I got this guest post and thought it was really interesting.

America's Food Truck Infographic
Full 3 Bite Rule Disclosure: This guest post was sent to me as a complimentary guest post to use carinsurance.org’s image if I chose to. My thoughts, opinions, and words are entirely my own. I was not compensated; I just thought it was interesting.

What I Ate: Foodie Vacation Souvenir

Wayyy back, just about a year ago, Mr. J and I went on our honeymoon to Spain & Italy. We actually didn’t buy many souvenirs since we were racing around like maniacs to see the sights! Although I wasn’t impressed with the sights of Naples, I still chose a treat to bring home. We got some lemon risotto.
WIA lem_risotto_390_590This very same treat provided a halt at security in the US after flying for 8 hours. Not funny. Serves me right for claiming it to a customs dude who had noooo idea that risotto wasn’t a vegetable. Sad.

I remembered the freeze dried pack in the cabinet and thought it was as good a time as any. I hadn’t been saving it but I buy arborio rice in containers so this flat pack slipped my mind. It wasn’t amazing, but it was good and a nice reminder of our time in Italy.

WIA lem_risotto_bowl_590_390
Get excited! I finally got around to editing the photos from our delicious anniversary getaway. Seriously, this tasty destination means so many meals to share next week. Just maybe I’ll get around to sharing some final shots of the completed bedroom renovation/redecorating project.

Bacon Jam Becomes BLT Pizza

I had all this bacon jam and didn’t know what to do with it.
The Three Bite Rule - Bacon Jam

Well, that’s a lie. I could eat it out of the jar.

I just wanted to highlight its amazingness. So I created this BLT pizza. I won’t win any photographic awards with this one, but man, this was great pizza.

Ingredients:

pizza dough
8 oz shredded mozzarella
4 oz fresh mozzarella, sliced
1 medium – large tomato, sliced
¼ cup bacon jam (recipe found here)
2 cups spinach or greens of your choice
1- 2 tbs ranch dressing (or dressing of choice)

Directions:

Spread pizza dough out onto a pizza stone or baking sheet. Bake for 10-20 minutes at 400-degrees to get it preliminarily crispy.
Top with shredded mozzarella then tomato slices, then fresh mozzarella. Add dollops of bacon jam.
The Three Bite Rule - BLT Pizza
Bake for 20 minutes at 400-degrees.
Let the pizza rest for 5 minutes (cheese needs to solidify before you cut).The Three Bite Rule - BLT Pizza
Mix the greens with some salad dressing of choice.
The Three Bite Rule - BLT Pizza
Top slices with lettuce and dressing.

I only had a little basil so I threw that on. If lettuce on your pizza isn’t your thing, throw on more fresh basil.

This was so cheesy. The bacon jam has a sticky brown sugary flavor so I thought the tang of the dressing was perfect. I used spinach but any greens would do, and spinach could have easily been cooked onto the pizza. I like the warm vs. cool and alternating textures.
The Three Bite Rule - BLT Pizza

It was a great use of the bacon jam. That stuff is just. so. good.

I have one more use to drag out my love for bacon jam. Stay tuned!

Meal Planning Tips, Part 2

I’ve been working in Santa Barbara for the last few days so on this long day of travel home, I have some more meal planning and organizational tips for you. Check out part 1 here! I get started by planning meals. I shoot for some diversity, balanced meals, and I try to be realistic on how long it might take. We like to pack up leftovers for lunch so I typically plan on a meal to serve 4 so the hubbie an I can have it twice.

After thinking about what is going on, what we’re in the mood for I peruse the pantry, fridge and freezer and then make a list.

Step two: grocery list
I keep a running grocery list as I use things up on an app for my phone called grocery IQ. It is one of my favorite apps since we can share the grocery list on both of our phones and I always have my phone when grocery shopping. This ap lets me scan barcodes but usually I’m not so specific as to which brand or size. It categorizes food automatically so you’ll see any produce items you added all together and not be crossing the store a million times. (Nope, Grocery IQ has no idea I exist and did not compensate me to endorse this ap. I just love it after trying a few others.)
The Three Bite Rule - Grocery List

I go through my meal plans and the pantry/fridge to see what I need each night for dinner and what might already be in stock. That helps me defrost since I loooove freezing things too. Maybe my freezing tips will be the next tip post!

Step three: implementing dinner plans
Not all plans always go as scheduled. Sometimes the meal is a bust or there’s not enough leftover for lunch. We often pack tomorrow’s lunch right when tonight’s dinner is over to grab and go in the morning. Salads are another typical lunch but get packed in the morning so that means fewer snoozes on the alarm. On an occasional act of preparation, I will get something going in the morning. It usually just means I had a few extra minutes.

Why it works for us:
It wasn’t fair that the dinner plans were always in my head. I’m happy to share them with Mr. J. It also means we’re not running to the store before even getting dinner going. It makes me more conscious about what I’m making and serving at any given time. He’s not asking what we’re having since he can see the week himself. Mr. J knows if he’s in charge of the meal or if I’m having him BBQ something etc. It also helps us figure out the timing if one of us is running and errand after work etc. There’s also something homey feeling to me that the week’s plan isn’t electronic.

When doesn’t it work:
Sometimes we’re still staring into the cabinets trying to think of something to eat that’s quick/easy. Usually we end up with pasta or breakfast item when that’s the case. It doesn’t mean that food is on the table awaiting our arrival. We rely on a commuter train so during a busy time at work, I don’t know when I’ll get home. None of my method is foolproof. I like when something spontaneous comes up since that just means I have the ingredients for a whole other night! I never want to say “no” to a fun plan because there’s chicken defrosting in my fridge.

I don’t usually plan out the weekend meals. Friday tends to be an unofficial take-out & DVR/movie night. I’m most often the shopper because my gym is in the same shopping plaza…what a suburbanite I am now!

I might jazz up the weekly schedule board itself. Our fridge isn’t magnetic so the menu board is also the home to reminders, coupons, save the dates, etc.
3 Bite Rule meal planning
I think dinner would seem like a way more daunting task if I didn’t plan ahead and already have the ingredients. Grocery shopping at 7pm while being hungry is a recipe for disaster.

What works for you? Are you a planner? Do you dine spontaneously? Do you make something and eat it for a week? 

Book Review: French Kids Eat Everything

I saw French Kids Eat Everything on A Cup of Jo and knew I had to get my hands on it.

Karen Le Billon relays her experience moving her family from Canada to France, where her husband grew up. She had two picky children and recounts their experiences. They learn what lunch is like in French school, how to shop at French markets (the non-supermarkets), and what they wanted to expect from their own children (and themselves).
French Kids Eat Everything
It fascinated me. Before you tell me “it is different when I have kids of my own”, I beg you to hold that thought. I don’t agree. My biggest fear is having children who don’t eat real food.

This family in the memoir finally had to seccum to the French method of exploring food, the parents deciding what was for dinner, and standing firm to “you don’t have to like it, but you do have to try it”. Ahhh! Eureka!

I care about food and I care that my some-day-children learn these lessons. The French are pretty brilliant when it comes to food, and it is quite no-nonsense which I like too. The Le Billon family had to overcome years of feeding whatever the kids dictated to avoid meltdowns.

Her story feels real and emotionally charged. They were in a new country, her husband’s family had different views of their ways of eating (initially), she wasn’t a confident cook, and it was a learning curve for all of them. She was torn between feeling like a dictator and allowing choices to her children.

Here is Le Billon’s interpretation of the French ways of eating (the rules)

1) Parents are in charge of food education.
2) Food is not a reward, punishment or bribe.
3) Parents schedule meals. Kids eat what adults eat.
4) Eat family meals together–and make them feel special.
5) Eat your veggies. Key: Think variety.
6) You don’t have to like it, but you do have to taste it.
7) No snacking. It’s OK to feel hungry between meals.
8) Slow food is happy food. As in, eat slowly.
9) eat real food – treats are ok for special occasions
10) eating is joyful and a time to relax.
French Kids Eat Everything

I have a leg to stand on here because I was brought up with a few of these in place from the start. There were no happy-meals for dinner (1). We ate what my parents ate (3). We didn’t have to finish everything but dinner time was a chance to chat. There wasn’t permission to escape from the table. The thing is, we didn’t mind sitting and talking (10).

We snacked but we also weren’t eating fruit roll-ups (9). At Christmas my sis and I each got a grocery-store present which was a highly coveted item we wouldn’t normally have (like pop-tarts, sugary cereal, Little Debbies). Grandma would buy us Cheetos or Fruit Loops but cereal consisted of Cheerios/Chex/Corn flakes/Rice Krispies (9).

I don’t recall getting these lessons drilled into us. It was just what we did. Dinner was together, at the table, without TV/games/phones/etc but with placemats and real napkins (4). Sandwiches had tomatoes on them and weekend breakfast was accompanied by fruit (5). Dinner often included salad first (5). There was always fruit around. Our bread was always wheat/rye/pumpernickel.

My sis and I each had veggies we didn’t like (her: mushrooms, me: peas) but we were allowed to not like something (6). I don’t think we were force fed things or made to stay at the table. I’m not sure when it started but there were expectations about food. Bursting into tears and bawling about not wanting that for dinner would not have been ok. There weren’t tantrums at the checkout line because we could ask for something (though we wouldn’t have questioned a “no”) and sometimes we got to leave with a ring pop, which also kept them special.

I loved that a family I babysat had “babysitter food” which was a treat for the normally real-food-fed-boys (I got to give them mac & cheese and chicken fingers). They had the three bite rule before they could not like something (the 1st to try it, the 2nd to decide, and the 3rd bite to be sure). They definitely knew the grown-up was in charge of the meal.

Wow, I guess when it comes down to it, the R family appears quite French in terms of food. I love that Mr. J and I sit down for meals together. No matter what we’re eating, it is still a chance to chat and eat off a real plate.

French Kids Eat Everything also included their transition back to Canada after their time in France. I don’t judge this family who had to adapt when returning. Hello, North American schools don’t serve a 4 course lunch! Commerce doesn’t stop so everyone can slowly eat lunch with somebody else! North America isn’t like France so I doubt this is something everyone can replicate. The book was really captivating. I was interested that the “rules” weren’t specific to their family or region with research stats to prove it.

I thought this book was really interesting and I hope I’ll follow these someday. I saw the same sort of thing on Cooking Light. I got to see a lot of families food standards and practices after babysitting for, jeez, probably more than 15 families. I just followed whatever their way was, I never once thought my opinion should factor in there.

I was out to dinner at a fun pizza place and was shocked to see the kiddo behind us had pizza without cheese. Hmm. Maybe that is dietary? Then another table had 1 kid at it who got grilled cheese. At a pizza place? I was surprised. I thought what kid doesn’t like pizza? Or melted mozzarella? It was interesting.

Tell me, what do you think? Do you think these French Rules would help youth nutrition in general? Do you think these “rules” would work for you/somebody you know? Is eating “like a child” a nature versus nurture? Do you think youth eating behavior is an age thing that he/she will grow out of? Is this the least of your worries for your children? Should kids HAVE to eat what they’re given?

(P.S.  Some other foodie books I love: The American Way of Eating; Fortune Cookie Chronicles; Waiter Rant, & The Dirty Life)

Cheese Danish Squares

So you know that I’m not a great baker, right? I’m trying more often. I recently made lemon squares which came out pretty decent and now I made these Chess Squares or Gooey Butter Cake and it was 50% successful.

If I was only 50% successful then why are you still reading? I’m sure you want to know which half worked Well! Tricky, tricky, I split it into 2 pans and brought one to a weekend with the fam in Maine and left one home. Unfortunately I brought the over-done-one to Maine (not pictured) and Mr. J demolished the successful one at home (pictured below).
The Three Bite Rule - Cheese Danish Squares
It didn’t look like it was going to set so I baked one longer (as in too long) and they weren’t as gooey. I think that’s my baking problem. I deviate from the recipe. I need to follow the instructions exactly. I need to trust the system. They were totally edible though and definitely the easiest baked good ever.

Cheese Danish Squares

(Chess Squares by Kevin and Amanda, Gooey Butter Cake by Paula Deen, & anyone else who makes this)

Ingredients:

1 (18 1/4-ounce) box yellow cake mix
3 eggs
8 tablespoons butter, melted
1 (8-ounce) package cream cheese, softened
1 16-ounce box powdered sugar

Directions:

Preheat oven to 300 and spray a 9×13 dish with cooking spray.
Mix cake mix, melted butter and one egg to a soft dough.
The Three Bite Rule - Cheese Danish Squares
Press into the bottom of the pan.
The Three Bite Rule - Cheese Danish Squares
Mix powdered sugar, softened cream cheese and remaining two eggs until smooth, about 1-2 mins.
The Three Bite Rule - Cheese Danish Squares
Pour on top of crust.
Bake at 300 for 40-50 minutes until top is golden brown.
The Three Bite Rule - Cheese Danish Squares

They reminded me of a cheese danish so I’m throwing one more name into the mix. I like them as a sweet brunch item but call it another name and you’ve got a dessert.
The Three Bite Rule - Cheese Danish Squares

They were suuuuper easy and would be great to throw together last minute…I mean. ehh. you totally planned ahead. and had everything you needed. and looked as organized as Martha Stewart. and didn’t arrive empty handed like Emily Post taught you.

Chocolate Buffet

I have a lot of catching up to do. I just got back from a wonderful anniversary weekend away and I have quite the backlog of posts for you. Here’s one from a few weeks ago, but not to worry. You can still catch it.

I was lucky to join Ms. L for the Langham Hotel‘s chocolate bar at Cafe Fleuri. It was delicious and I’ll let the pictures do most of the talking. There were so many amazing treats. Everything I had was great and I was sure to choose wisely since there was sooo much to chose from.

The Three Bite Rule - Chocolate Bar
The Three Bite Rule - Chocolate Bar

The Three Bite Rule - Chocolate BarThese macaroons were amazing…one of my favorite items of the day.

The Three Bite Rule - Chocolate Bar
The Three Bite Rule - Chocolate Bar
The Three Bite Rule - Chocolate Bar
The Three Bite Rule - Chocolate BarThis was hands down my favorite item. There was something about Peanut Butter Bomb in the name. The tan part was soft peanut butter dough with a peanut butter center on some dark chocolate with a milk chocolate mousse.
The Three Bite Rule - Chocolate Bar
Thankfully they had some salty treats to keep us going. They make their own potato chips!
The Three Bite Rule - Chocolate Bar
I felt a bit wasteful since anything I deemed unworthy I didn’t go beyond the initial bite. There were too many good things to eat! We did a good job and left full without being sick, but  it was overwhelming. I loved it for the price tag (free!) but I would be hesitant to pay $40 for one sitting of chocolate. The desserts were really great, and there was an impressive spread of choices, but I’d only spend $40 on a box of chocolates I could enjoy until empty. I worked a gourmet candy store in high school and college so it isn’t lost on me, but free was fantastic.

Full 3 Bite Rule Disclosure: Our invitation from Google+ Local to the chocolate bar was completely complimentary but my thoughts, opinions, and words are entirely my own.

What I Ate: At a Wedding Cocktail Hour

Wedding cocktail hour is my favorite. I love the vows, and the dancing (especially since Mr. J is a rockin’ dancer), but then I love the cocktail hour. Contrary to the name I like it for the food. I don’t worry about the drinks…it is all about the snacks. I love passed aps, Mrs. K had baked brie that I’m still raving about (3+ years later), Mrs. M had an amazing cheese selection. Serious love for the aps.

I don’t review many weddings but I went to one with the best cocktail hour ever. Ever. I know, I go to my share of weddings every year. I snapped a few pics with my phone but when I heard the next morning that the bride didn’t have any of the amazing aps I knew I HAD to blog ‘em. She writes Flying on Jess Fuel (stop by her blog, say hello, wish her congrats, and check out her recipes).

The chef was Chef Roland. I loved their cocktail hour. I cannot get over how many aps there were. I was so impressed that the hot ones were actually hot! The chilled ones were actually cool! The servers all knew what they were offering to us. It was amazing. Here are my favorites:

Shrimp ceviche with mango salsa on an edible spoon.
The Three Bite Rule - Wedding Aps  Yes, that’s right. There’s a crisp bite of spoon with each bite. Delicious!

Dill scone topped with lobster salad. It was lightly dressed and so fresh. I mayyy have stalked the servers whenever I saw these!
The Three Bite Rule - Wedding Aps

Lamb and quinoa cakes. The bride loves quinoa so these seemed even more perfect.
The Three Bite Rule - Wedding Aps

There were some mean lookin’ pistachio crusted lamb lollipops but I figured the lamb cake bite was probably my red-meat maximum for the day. I popped the lobster mac & cheese bite before I got a photo. Yum!

We had some bruschetta, coconut shrimp, spanakopita, cajan shrimp & kielbasa…I don’t even remember what else. There were so many. I had to chose wisely. There were just so many.

Ohh then we had dinner. It started with a salad of greens, beets, peaches, and candied walnuts. Seriously amazing.
The Three Bite Rule - Wedding Aps
Dinner options were beef, fish, or vegetarian. I got the fish. It turned out to be sole stuffed with spinach, mushrooms, and lobster. You had me at lobster.

Mr. J and I are off for the weekend to celebrate our 1st wedding anniversary! Can you believe it has been a year?!? I’ll be sure to let you know how that year old piece ‘o cake fared this past year!

Flautas with Ground Pork and Spinach

I’m expanding my non-authentic Mexican food repertoire. I made flautas. I first googled to find out what the difference was between flauta and a taquito. Again, from non-authentic sources, it seems like flautas are flour tortillas and taquitos are corn tortillas.
The Three Bite Rule - Pork Flautas

I prepped some of it in the morning before work, which always makes me feel like a rockstar. The pup was very into these. When I say he’s under my feet in the kitchen, I mean it. See? He’s just to sweet to totally kick out of the kitchen. It makes me feel loved since I come in second to Mr. J in his eyes (unless I’m cooking).
The Three Bite Rule - Pork Flauta

Ingredients:

½ pound ground turkey/pork/chicken/beef (I used pork)
3 tbs taco seasoning
12 small flour tortillas
2 cups baby spinach
6 oz shredded monterey jack cheese
oil for frying

Directions:

Cook the ground meat with taco seasoning until cooked through and mix with spinach after removing the meat from the heat.
The Three Bite Rule - Pork Flauta
Heat about ¾ of an inch of oil to fry the flautas when they’re assembled.
Lay tortillas out and top with 2 tbs each shredded cheese, and the ground meat and spinach mixture.
The Three Bite Rule - Pork Flauta
roll up the filled tortillas into skinny cigars and secure with a toothpick
gently drop into the oil for a few minutes, rotating them to crisp evenly.
The Three Bite Rule - Pork Flauta
When they’re evenly golden, remove and let hang on paper towels. Don’t forget to pull out those toothpicks!

They stayed together nicely and I served them with a little chipotle ranch dressing (also known as: ranch with a touch of BBQ sauce for smokiness, a dash of hot sauce, and taco seasoning). They were really good. I loved how different they felt from burritos or enchiladas.
The Three Bite Rule - Pork Flauta

Frying anything stresses me out. I only did a few at a time and kept the others warm in the oven at 200 degrees.

These are a great use for leftovers :ahem:spinach:ahem. I would have thrown in any other veggie I had around. Think: corn! onions! zucchini! mushrooms! They also didn’t require a ton of ground meat. I end up with weird amounts of leftover ground pork or chicken and almost always use it for a Mexican meal.

Serve these with my favorite Mexican bean salad for a quick & easy fiesta! They also are great reheated in the toaster oven for lunch the next day at work!
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