Bacon Ranch Mac & Cheese

The ingredients say it all. Bacon, check. Ranch, check. Mac & cheese, check. Ohh my deliciousness. This mac and cheese was awesome. It is orange and amazing. Whip it up and enjoy between trick or treaters!

The Three Bite Rule - Bacon Ranch Mac & Cheese

Ingredients:

6 strips of thick cut bacon
1 box jumbo shells
¼ cup butter
⅔ cup flour
1 cup heavy cream
8 oz shredded cheddar melting blend
1 packet ranch dressing mix

Directions:

Boil pasta according to box.
Fry bacon until crisp, then chop into pieces.
Melt butter over medium and add the flour to the melted butter.
The Three Bite Rule - Bacon Ranch Mac & Cheese
Stir butter-flour paste mix for about 5 minutes. The roux needs to cook through so there isn’t any flour flavor.
Slowly add the cream while whisking to get any lumps out.
Slowly add the cheese until melted before adding the ranch mix.
The Three Bite Rule - Bacon Ranch Mac & Cheese
Mix cheese sauce and pasta.
The Three Bite Rule - Bacon Ranch Mac & CheeseAdd the bacon last before into ramekins or baking dish so it doesn’t get too broken up.
The Three Bite Rule - Bacon Ranch Mac & Cheese
Top with shredded cheese and bake for 10 minutes at 375-degrees.

This was amazing. I loved the flavor. I used ¾ of a pound of pasta and I think it was too little. There was plenty of cheese sauce and tons of ranch flavor. It was almost too much.
The Three Bite Rule - Bacon Ranch Mac & Cheese
I’ll definitely make this again. I wanted a fall pasta dish that wasn’t just thrown together when I didn’t know what else would be for dinner. I think this fit the bill. It isn’t light by any means. It was heavy, warm, and comforting. I thought it was good for a crisp October night!

Boston Food Truck Throw Down Versus New York

A few weeks ago I popped over to the Food Truck Throwdown. Boston food trucks versus New York City food trucks. We voted with quarters and the winning city’s food bank gets the money. I was psyched! Check out Mr. J’s recap post too! (P.S. His photos are better)
The Three Bite Rule - Food Trucks
I went to a food truck event on the Greenway last May and thought it was the best food truck gathering I’d been to. This is one of my favorite spots in Boston and it was a beautiful fall day. Mrs. C was pumped to join Mr. J and me after we followed the Great Food Truck Race religiously.

Luckily we went early! It got pretty crazy busy when we left later.
The Three Bite Rule - Food Trucks
Mrs. C was most excited to see Roxy’s
The Three Bite Rule - Food Trucks
We shared a fall melt: sweet potato/grannysmith apple/cheddar/brown butter; a muenster melt: muenster cheese, quacamole, bacon; and some rosemary truffle fries.
The Three Bite Rule - Food Trucks
We also were pretty psyched about these waffles from Wafels & Dinges. Wow. I wish they were in Boston! Bacon in a waffle? Yes Please!
The Three Bite Rule - Food Trucks
It was great to split everything. We each munched these pork and chive dumplings from Big D’s Grub Truck. They were awesome. I loved that we could get smaller bites.
The Three Bite Rule - Food Trucks
The empanadas at Nuchas was another one of my favorite stops. Mine was portobello/spinach/mozzarella and was awesome. These were small and packed with flavor without being overwhelming.
The Three Bite Rule - Food Trucks I was impressed with their truck (and their website).
The Three Bite Rule - Food Trucks
We ran into two Ms. Ls and Ms. J and they recommended another Boston truck: Mei Mei. We got some beer mac & cheese which was fine, not overly cheesy. The beer flavor came through though.
The Three Bite Rule - Food Trucks
Mr. J got beef and bleu dumplings. He thought they were ok.
The Three Bite Rule - Food TrucksThe menu there is impressive. I love how focused they are on local foods.
The Three Bite Rule - Food Trucks
I got the ginger macaron and thought it was overpriced and kind of a letdown. I wish you could see how itty bitty it was.
The Three Bite Rule - Food Trucks
I didn’t stop by Bon Me, but will sometime since they’re often parked by my office. Obviously I skipped past Lobsta Love since I’ve had rough experiences with them in the past.

We grapped some cookies to go and that wrapped up our day. Literally. We didn’t eat anything again for the rest of the day. It was delicious and Boston won!! Of course! ;)

What I Ate: Pumpkin Muffins

I’m about to rock your socks off. And if you’re not wearing socks because it has been lovely at 63-degrees & sunny here in Boston then I’m going to rock your shoes off. I made the fastest and easiest muffins ever. I’m about to have muffins on hand all the time.

Ready for 2 ingredient muffins? Two. Count ‘em.
Pumpkin Muffin

Ingredients:

1 box Spice cake mix
1 can pumpkin

Directions:

Mix together
Bake

See? Omg. Totally the easiest thing ever. I added cinnamon chips because I love them. These were super easy and gave me some baking courage. I drizzled some maple glaze over the top. Somebody was taunted by my photo staging set up:
Pumpkin MuffinGood thing those chair spindles aren’t any wider apart! Isn’t he just the cutest?! You know what I say to that?

Aww MUFFIN!

Enjoy the weekend! I’m home from Santa Barbara, and from LA, and from NYC! Woohoo! I have lots ‘o blogging to catch up on so stay tuned for some picture heavy posts coming up next week! This doesn’t count towards my fall foods list, but I have a pumpkin post to prep that will count on my list, for sure!

Apple Cider Sangria

I made some hot caramel apple cider recently and expected to be floored. It was good, but not ground breaking (apple cider, caramel sauce, & cinnamon). Then, I turned the leftovers into sangria and it was the best sangria I’ve ever made. Ever. Seriously. Write this down.
Apple Cider Sangria

I saw the idea for apple cider sangria and adapted it to what I like/had around.

Ingredients:

½ gallon apple cider
2 tbs caramel sauce (optional)
1 tsp cinnamon
½ cup simple syrup (1/2 cup water + ½ cup sugar dissolved)
1 cup cranberry vodka
1 -2 cups red wine
craisins and chopped apple

Directions:

Mix cider, caramel & cinnamon (optional), simple syrup, and vodka together.
Add craisins and apple and keep refrigerated for 24 hours before serving. Drink this as a cocktail or continue on for sangria.
Apple Cider Sangria
Add wine and serve.

Can I gush about how great this was? Ok, great! ;)

It was fall, and crisp, and sweet, and had a serious boozy kick to it. I loved it. The apple cider and cranberry flavors were great together. I liked how sweet and cool it was. Craisins absorb the liquid and plump up.
Apple Cider Sangria

Mr. J was introduced to sangria in Barcelona and and he actually loved it! He liked this one too. It was kind of a hybrid between a cocktail and sangria anyway. It packed a serious punch. I finished my glass and was bopping around totally feeling the wine and alcohol in there!

I want to make more. Already. It was fun to just have sangria around. I’m afraid I “save” thoughts and recipe ideas for special occasions. I think this was a good reminder that anything can become a special occasion.

Crock Pot White Chicken Chili

I hosted a mini family dinner and was trying to come up with something easy that I could assemble and not spend the whole visit in the kitchen. All praise the crock pot! I decided I’d try my hand at white chicken chili.
The Three Bite Rule - White Chicken Chili

I took a looksey at Flying on Jess Fuel’s chicken chili since her recipes are always healthier than other folks. (Seriously, check out her collection of fall foods!)

Hers was thickened by mashing up some of the beans which is genius  I opted for a slightly easier approach. I wasn’t kidding when I said I wanted to dump stuff into the crock pot and walk away!

Ingredients:

3 large chicken breasts, pre-cooked & shredded)
29-oz can white beans
2 cans green chilies
1 ½ cup corn
2 cups chicken broth
1 jar light alfredo sauce
1 tbs cumin
1 tbs garlic
1 large head of kale, chopped
1 large onion chopped
1 medium tomato

Directions:

Boil and shred the chicken
Put everything into the crock pot.
The Three Bite Rule - White Chicken Chili
Cook on low, stirring occasionally, for 3-4 hours.

So easy! This cooked away while we hung and chatted. I made some cornbread muffins the night before. I made them in my whoopie pie pan and they were the perfect size…smaller than my muffin top pan.

When it was time to eat I set up a bar of toppings and let everyone have at it! I had some salsa verde, black olives, sour cream, tortilla strips and the corn muffins.
The Three Bite Rule - White Chicken Chili

I liked the consistency. I was soupy and only a bit creamy. It was so chock full of pieces of chicken, kale, corn, beans, etc that I think if it was thicker it would have been too much. I loved it, but thought I should have sweated out the onions a bit to soften them before dropping them in.

The Three Bite Rule - White Chicken Chili
I have a 6 quart crockpot and it was full to the brim. Five of us ate it that night and I have about 4 more servings for lunches. I also think this counts towards my fall foods list. Check!

What I Ate: Nacho Burger

I feel like a genius. I created an amazing burger out of nowhere. I made burgers out of ground pork, taco seasoning,  and some salsa con queso.

The Three Bite Rule - Nacho Burger

Ingredients:
1/2 pound ground pork
1 tbs taco seasoning
2 tbs salsa con queso

Directions:
Mix the ground pork (or beef/chicken/turkey) with taco seasoning and salsa con queso.
The Three Bite Rule - Nacho Burger
Form into patties and grill
The Three Bite Rule - Nacho Burger
Top with sliced pepper jack cheese and some more salsa con queso!
The Three Bite Rule - Nacho Burger

This had some great spice and perfect cheesiness. I think the cheese sauce was a perfect way to keep the meat juicy. I served it with a vinegar based bean salad. We loved this one!

Oreo Dip

Awhile back I made a dip that was sooo easy it made me think kids would have fun making it. The original source on Pinterest was a blog that seems MIA or maybe they’re just under construction.
The Three Bite Rule - Oreo Dip

Ingredients:

1 box white chocolate pudding (I used instant)
2 cups milk
8 oz cool whip (aka frozen non-dairy whipped topping)
½ package Oreos (or about 25 oreos)
1 box chocolate graham crackers

Directions:

Mix pudding and milk until thickened (about 2 minutes)
The Three Bite Rule - Oreo DipAdd cool whip and crushed oreos mixing well.
The Three Bite Rule - Oreo Dip
Refrigerate for at least and hour before serving.
The Three Bite Rule - Oreo Dip

I liked this for a twist on a regular dip. It was an easy one that didn’t require any baking. Serve it with chocolate graham crackers.

Mr. J thought this was great. It made a ton so I took half to a small meeting and we enjoyed the other half at home. The photo above is half of what I made! This stayed good for a few days, after that, the oreos were a bit soggy. I thought it was a bit loose or soupy but the original post included mini marshmallows too so that would change the consistency.

I was thinking these would be great as chocolate graham cracker “ice cream” sandwiches. Maybe next time I’ll whip in some cream cheese to thicken it and I’ll freeze graham sandwiches filled with it.

Cost Breakdown:

1 pkg chocolate sandwich cookie: $2.75
1 pkg white chocolate pudding mix:  $1.00
1 pkg cool whip: $2.49
1 pkg chocolate graham crackers:  $3.49
total: $9.73/10 servings = $0.97 per person (with graham crackers and oreos leftover!)

I skimped on the cookies and bought the cheapest ones I could find, and went “high end” on the dippers but this whole thing could be made for even less.

Pop Up Restaurant

I was invited to a pop up restaurant and just couldn’t pass on the opportunity. I hadn’t ever really heard of one up close and was psyched.

It wasn’t what I expected but it was a great night. I had fun meeting some new folks and I was so glad Ms. M came with me. She’s such a good sport and we were both happy to be fed.

The chef Wheeler del Torro hosts a few of these occasionally. This was all I knew before joining, Wheeler’s email said: “I am hosting an intimate group of invited guests for a sneak peek at Pharmacie’s new fall menu celebrating classic Southern dishes with an Asian flair. Pharmacie is my latest food venture: an experimental fusion test kitchen to explore flavors, textures, and sensations.”

I left to meet Ms. M with a warning from Mr. J not to enter if this was in some guy’s basement. I was thinking the whole time what happens when you mix Asian and Southern? General Tzo’s Chicken & Waffles?

The pop up was held in an ice cream shoppe in my old ‘hood. The name of the hosting venue would have been helpful. We showed up for the third sitting and they were running late. We squeezed in and were served promptly. Introductions got us going at communal tables as we began munching.

The first dish was watermelon with blue cheese. I was expecting feta and honestly thought the freshness of the watermelon didn’t pair well with the moldy cheese.
The Three Bite Rule - Pop Up Restaurant
We had a salad too.
The Three Bite Rule - Pop Up Restaurant
Next was a tomato bruschetta. I loved the tomatoes but wasn’t into the caviar.
The Three Bite Rule - Pop Up Restaurant
Our next dish was pumpkin ravioli with tomato sauce. Again, I think the flavors didn’t mix. I would have liked brown butter, or really good olive oil, or a light cream. The tomato sauce was super acidic to me.
The Three Bite Rule - Pop Up RestaurantThe Three Bite Rule - Pop Up Restaurant
Then they served lasagna. I couldn’t eat it because it was beef. I was asked dietary restrictions before the meal (where I emailed) then I was asked again before we sat down. They were super sweet to offer me a sundae instead of the ice cream cup served afterwards, but I declined. It kind of annoyed me. Don’t ask if you’re not going to do anything. I felt like an imposition. I might have passed on the dinner if I knew what I’d be eating. I would have been happy with a double serving of raviolis instead.

We got a cup of ice cream which was good, but the meal was so long that I had one foot out of the door.
The Three Bite Rule - Pop Up Restaurant
The food was fine and I’m sure some people enjoyed it more than me. I thought it should wow me. I thought I should be shouting from the rooftops. I thought this meal would rock my world and make me their unofficial spokesperson when a restaurant opened. I was underwhelmed.

I wasn’t impressed with the how the event was run since I showed an email chain to get us in, they didn’t include the venue name, there wasn’t any explanation about what they were serving, and the dietary restrictions info wasn’t passed along. I also think they should have done 2 sittings if the food was going to be reheated and if they weren’t going to be able to accommodate the overlapping crowd three times that day.

Did you notice this has absolutely nothing to reference Asian or Southern? Yeah, me too.

Sometimes I’m brutally honest and I feel badly, but I owe you the good, the bad, and the ugly. This was a disappointing dinner. Maybe I was too hyped about it. It makes me glad we hadn’t bought a ticket to it. My invitation with a guest was complimentary but if I liked it I would have raved about it so it only seemed appropriate to be so harshly honest.

Full 3 Bite Rule Disclosure: My invitation for myself and a guest  was completely complimentary but my thoughts, opinions, and words are entirely my own. 

Chicken Francese Anniversary Dinner

I’m going out with a bang this week. Normally Fridays are my What I Ate series but I’ve been traveling, and I’m super backlogged. I have a super exciting weekend of food coming up and I’ll kick it off with a big time Friday post! It is a bit delayed but without further ado, I give you my 1st wedding anniversary dinner! Ta-da!

We went to Portland for the weekend and ate, walked around, shopped, checked out some lighthouses, and swam in the hotel pool (check out how adorable it is!). When we got home I decided to make our wedding meal for dinner! Of course we had to eat our frozen slice of wedding cake too!

I made chicken francese, blue cheese mashed potatoes, and green beans. It turned out great!
The Three Bite Rule - Chicken Francaise

I drew the line at making squash veggie rings like the wedding venue had.

 

Chicken Francese

(adapted from Epicurious) 

Ingredients:

4 large skinless boneless chicken breast halves
1/2 cup vegetable oil
1 cup all-purpose flour
3/4 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon black pepper
3 large eggs, whisked
1/2 stick (1/4 cup) unsalted butter
1/2 cup dry white wine
1/2 cup low-sodium chicken broth
4 tablespoons fresh lemon juice (plus sliced lemon for garnish)
1/2 cup chopped fresh flat-leaf parsley

Directions:

Place chicken breasts between 2 sheets of plastic wrap and gently pound chicken with flat side of a meat pounder (or with a rolling pin, canned goods, or cast iron skillet) until 1/4 inch thick.
Heat oil in a 12-inch heavy skillet over moderate heat until hot but not smoking.
While oil is heating, stir together flour, 1/2 teaspoon salt, and 1/4 teaspoon pepper in a shallow bowl.
Dredge chicken, in flour mixture, shaking off excess
The Three Bite Rule - Chicken Francese
then dredge in the eggs in another shallow bowl
The Three Bite Rule - Chicken Francese
When oil is hot, fry, turning over once, until golden brown and just cooked through, about 4 minutes total.
The Three Bite Rule - Chicken Francese
Transfer to a plate lined with paper towels and keep warm in the oven (at 200-degrees). Fry remaining chicken in same manner.
Pour off and discard oil, then wipe skillet clean and heat butter over low until foam subsides. Add wine, broth, and lemon juice and boil, uncovered, stirring occasionally, until sauce is reduced to about 1/2 cup, about 6 minutes. (Do you know the trick of squeezing lemons upside down so you don’t drop any seeds in?)
The Three Bite Rule - Chicken Francese
Stir in parsley and remaining 1/4 teaspoon salt and 1/4 teaspoon pepper. Spoon sauce over chicken and top with lemon slices.

It was good. I added some more lemon juice before serving because it got too sweet for me. I also had way too much parsley so I chopped it all and froze the leftovers in ice cube trays with a splash of water. Next time I need parsley I have small servings in the freezer! I also zested some lemon into the sauce too.
The Three Bite Rule - Chicken Francese

I had every intention of doing half mashed potatoes/half cauliflower but I was zipping around to get everything done at the same time and I totally forgot.  I mixed in some butter, milk, and blue cheese dressing. The blue cheese flavor was light but great. I think the salad dressing was a good use when I didn’t have other plans for blue cheese before jetting away on a work trip.
The Three Bite Rule - Chicken Francese

Now, the cake. Our frozen slice ‘o cake wasn’t nearly as gross as I thought it would be. I never eat wedding cake at weddings, but we haaaad to have one. I actually loved our wedding cake (when I ate it the next day). The frozen one moved with us and everything. We each ate a bite or two and then somebody, whose name starts with J, ate the rest of the piece of cake later too.
The Three Bite Rule - Chicken Francese
It was a great celebration and we have lots to celebrate. Good thing I have a year to come up with the next themed anniversary dinner!
The Three Bite Rule - Chicken Francese

Portland Pie Pizza

The vacation of eating continues! Seriously, Portland ME is a foodie mecca (donuts & duckfat fries). I really hoped we’d make it to Portland Pie and it was everything I dreamed of. I buy their refrigerated pizza dough at the grocery store and love it. It is the best, hands down. It worked out to be a great dinner option for the last night we were in town.
The Three Bite Rule - Portland Pie

I was really torn as to what I was in the mood for. Their fall specials looked amazing. I might need to recreate one of their fall dishes. There was a mustard/sauerkraut/bratwurst/pumpkin ale pizza that sounded amazing. I also was intrigued by a maple balsamic dressing for salad.

We got an app (even though Mr. J was all about the pumpkin cheesecake for dessert). I knew after all our eating we could not eat an app, pizza, and dessert. Way. too. much.

We chose the sweet potato smoked cheddar dip with rosemary biscotti.
The Three Bite Rule - Portland Pie

They were working the kinks out on this one. We actually sent it back to be reheated. The breadbowl it was in was nicely warmed, the cheddar on top of the dip was melted, but the dip was cold. It wasn’t just “not piping hot” but it was cold. We neverrr send stuff back but this was meant to be warm. It then took forever. Other tables got their salads, drink refills, salads cleared and pizza served while we waited.

The kitchen wasn’t sure the best way to reheat it while maintaining the dip. I wanted to cancel it but our server was a bit MIA. She returned telling us it would be ready when the pizza was and the kitchen made a new app. I really would have just cancelled it or they could have offered to take it off the bill. Instead they offered us dessert. That made Mr. J one happy guy.

Our server thought it would be ready when the pizza was so we asked for whatever was ready to come out. I didn’t want the pizza sitting to stay warm. I’m not sure it was worth all the hype for all of this process, but it was good. Smoked gouda would have been better.

We ordered 2 pizzas so there’d be some leftovers to take home for the next day. We got one Bar Harbor which was super exciting now that Mr. J eats scallops! Woohoo! It was scallops, bacon, mozzarella with alfredo sauce. It was amazing. The scallops were cooked nicely and every bite was flavorful. The topping to crust ratio was spot on.
The Three Bite Rule - Portland Pie

The other pizza we got was called Dead River. It was red sauce and had spinach, red peppers, ricotta, and we swapped out hamburger for sausage. It is finished with garlic and crushed red pepper. Some bites definitely have a kick to them. I liked this one a lot and it was a great contrast to the sweet & smokey scallop pizza.
The Three Bite Rule - Portland Pie

One of my favorite things that happened was just too funny. For some reason our server didn’t seem sure that we were together. She packed the dessert to go as separate containers and asked if we each wanted some of each pizza packed up. I was so amused since we were celebrating our 1st wedding anniversary weekend!

I love their menu. I wish there was a Portland Pie near me! I’d be happy to drink the delicious local-to-Maine brews and dine on their expansive menu if they wanted to come further south!
The Three Bite Rule - Portland Pie