October in Review

Happy halloween eve! I’m hoping to get more trick or treaters than last year. We’ll see how that goes.

October was BIG in my life. I left the old job and started a new one! It was a pretttty big day on the blog when I announced it, probably thanks to facebook.

Did you get a chance to read about Paris here, here, or here
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and Prague here or here

The Three Bite Rule - Prague Dinner
I made a really good pizza with grilled chicken and veggies. It was topped with fontina, grilled chicken, asparagus, tomatoes, and drizzled with a balsamic reduction.
The Three Bite Rule - Balsamic Chicken Pizza
This pizza and then this salad were both last ditch effort to make the best of still fresh local produce. I had a cuke from the ‘rents so I shipped up a Chopped Greek Salad
The Three Bite Rule - Chopped Greek Salad
I made a really amazing grilled cheese with balsamic onions. I realize you don’t need a recipe for it, but it was sooo good and perfectly fall.
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November will be busy at my new job. I’m getting ready for PUMPKIN week next week. Get ready for 3 posts of pumpkin foods! I have a post to feature a really cool fall program I want to share.

Loaded Potato Pizza

I’m redoing an old post for you. This potato pizza is so good and deserved a face lift from some old tiny pictures I took a few years ago. The potato slices are really thin and cook quickly.

Potatoes, cheese, bacon, and some buttery garlic spread is EXACTLY what you need tonight for dinner.
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This pizza is so good. The simplicity is just spot on. Use any pizza dough you like for this easy pizza.

Ingredients:

pizza dough
2 tbs butter
2 tsp garlic, minced
2 medium potatoes
8 oz shredded cheddar
2 slices of bacon
chives or green onions

Directions:

Preheat oven to 400 degrees (also preheat pizza stone if using one)
Spread dough onto a pizza stone or pan poking a few holes with a fork.
Bake for 10 minutes until somewhat cooked.
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While dough precooks, cook butter and garlic over low heat until melted and warmed through. Slice potatoes into thin slices using a mandolin or a sharp knife.
Remove crust from the oven and spread garlic butter over the top.
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Spread cheese onto pizza dough and gently lay potato slices slightly overlapping.
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Continue laying slices in circles around the pizza.
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Top with salt & pepper.
Return to the oven for another 10 minutes (turn down to 350 if the potato slices aren’t cooking enough.
While the pizza cooks, pan fry the bacon and top the pizza with the bacon and chives.
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Slice & serve!

We drizzled some ranch if you want a bit more moisture. My crust got a bit dark while the potato cooked. I should have turned it down a bit to 350 or 375 degrees.

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A Day In The Life of My Food

I realized there are so many food moments I really care about don’t normally document. Now’s the time! Today’s post shares a bit about my daily food that isn’t blog-worthy but I’m sharing “the normal”. This line-up is before I got my new job but I was just too excited to post vacay posts so this post was just hanging out. Maybe today’s post won’t be life-altering, but here ya go. I’ll do another with my new job-life.

Let’s start out with some cuties, just so this post can be worth it, and I just haven’t posted them in a while. I’m basically making them cuddle though that’s not really how they roll. The little one is in charge and the big one is just very sweet and accommodating.
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I love that Windsor (lab) is getting wise under his chin. He’s much more mature than the puppy I met 5 years ago. I also always smile at Bailee’s (cocker spaniel) brown eyebrows. Aren’t they so cute? Anywho, onward to the food.

Bfast is always at home. Regardless of the fact that I would walk through an intersection with Dunks, Brueggers, and S-bucks. This day it was banana, warmed peanut butter, and some granola. Often it revolves around Greek yogurt.
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My day would start, like really start, once I had breezed through Bruegger’s with my bottomless coffee card. It felt like such a splurge to buy the card for the year, but I LOOOVED starting my day this way. Sadly, I no longer am near any Bruegger’s so I’ve gifted my card to a friend who is office-less, so I gave her coffee and a place to work. Win!

This is my fav park of the city. It used to be a parking lot which is now below ground. So now it is the opposite of paved paradise and put up a parking lot. Isn’t the fountain picturesque?
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Before I left the job I had to be sure to get my fav lunch. I was pretty good about packing lunch, but Boston Kebab House is soooo good. And cheap, though the mezze bar is by weight so it can get away from you.
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The falafel is really good, I love marinated mushrooms and the couscous with tomato, onion, and cranberries is unbelievable. I went with baba ganoush and free wheat or white pita comes with it. This is about $6….can’t beat it.

Dinner was his & hers meatloaf cups, cauliflower mashed potatoes, and some roasted broccoli. Nothing crazy or super exciting. His = beef, hers = ground chicken. The sauce was ketchup, sriracha, and some brown sugar.
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That’s it. That’s what a blogless day of food looked like just a few weeks ago. Now I have a new job, which provides lunch, so everything is different! Plus, I get out at 5pM which is unbelievably life changing!

I’m getting into a new routine. I’ll post my new-normal one of these days.

Grilled Cheese with Balsamic Onions

I try to plan a few easy/easier/not-always-blogworthy/leftover dinners each week. Every night is not photo worthy here at casa-the three bite rule, especially since my new job us suuuuper busy. Tonight is my first event there! Wish me luck!

Since it is feeling like fall with lovely 60-degree days, I wanted something seasonal. Grilled cheese and tomato soup seemed appropriate since I kept seeing interesting grilled cheese passing right under my eyes.

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A Cup of Jo posted a grown up grilled cheese from Just a Taste that looked so good. It was packed with cheddar, kale, and caramelized onions. That was my inspiration for the balsamic onions I added to my sandwich.

I also saw From Away posting an amazing canned tomato soup with a BLT twist with grilled cheese croutons.

My dinner was a souped-up grilled cheese (haha, get it?) and a can of creamy tomato soup. Done and done. I liked the little touch to make it more exciting but really the beauty of this meal was how simple and perfectly paired this meal was.

I didn’t really caramelize the onions. I cheated.
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I cooked the onions through, just past becoming translucent. Then I drizzled some balsamic vinegar and cooked them for another minute or two.
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This is onions done in 10 minutes, tops. No 40 minutes of onion-caramelizing for me that night.

The soup was just a heated can of tomato bisque from Campbell’s. I mean, I know there’s a lot of sodium in there, but it isn’t crazy-bad-for-you if the rest of the meal is reasonable. I don’t use any butter for the grilled cheese either – just some nonstick spray and a little olive oil.

The grilled cheese had some sharp cheddar and some swiss on sourdough. The onions were sweetly tangy. Mr. J doesn’t really do soup, but he was a good sport about it.

Mr. A bookmarked these note-worthy grilled cheeses until he can get his life back from work. I also recommend my bacon, cheddar, and peach compote panini, or my Italian grilled cheese with breaded eggplant, or the Pioneer Woman’s hot ham & cheese with poppyseed sauce, or it is perfect season for a grilled turkey, cranberry, and brie panini.

What grilled cheese ideas do YOU have? 

Quick Spinach and Artichoke Pasta

I was craving spinach and artichoke dip and remembered thinking it could pretty easily be a pasta dish. Last year I made a 1-dish pasta that cooked in it’s own liquid. This time I tweaked the original thought and went with creamed spinach which is totally decadent and such a perfect secret ingredient . Shhh! I once used it in deep dish pizza and it was the best I ever made! I figured the beauty of this dinner is the speed!

Ingredients:

8 oz frozen artichokes
8 oz frozen creamed spinach
8 oz dried pasta
2 chicken sausage links, sliced
1 tsp garlic, minced
6 oz swiss cheese

Directions:

Boil water for pasta.
Defrost creamed spinach and artichokes in a large pan over medium-low heat.
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Cook pasta until aldante.
Drain and reserve some of the cooking water (about a cup).
Add the pasta, sausage, garlic, salt, and pepper to the spinach and artichoke.
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Cook over medium heat for 5 minutes, adding a splash of cooking water and stir well. Add more cooking water to loosen depending on your preference. Sprinkle with a little cheese and toss before serving.

I liked this one. It was so fast and really easy.
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This could be tweaked. Add cream cheese to make it thicker. Add fresh spinach for more texture. Add mushrooms, chicken, or onions. Add a roux and some cream for a truly thick sauce. Swap out the creamed spinach and make your own if the prepared part isn’t your thing.

I was going for speed and ease, but you get to make that call. I also avoid oily artichoke hearts but again, go for what you like!

Other spinach and artichoke hankerings? I made spinach and artichoke pockets in puff pastry. I made spinach and artchoke nachos. I made spinach and artichoke calzones.

Cost Breakdown: 
8 oz frozen creamed spinach: $2.19
frozen artichokes: $1.45
2 chicken sausage links: $2.00
1/2 box pasta: $0.75
Total = $6.39 or about $2.13 per person for 3 servings

Anniversary Dinner in Prague

Our last night in Prague was our 2nd wedding anniversary and the dinner couldn’t have been more perfect. We went to School Restaurant on a recommendation from a friend who raved about it. It was so great and exactly the right way to celebrate and end the trip.

While we settled into the menus and tried to decide on a wine that would be good for both entrees, we got some herbed butter and bread. I neglected to take any photos of the outside or interior, but the purple and lime decor on the table is my only example of how fresh and current this place looked!
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I got the duck breast with polenta and red cabbage. I know, it seems like when I’m in Europe, I only eat duck. I just couldn’t pass on it since it is not as prevalent in the US. The duck was tender with crispy skin. The polenta was addicting and I actually loved the cabbage…never thought I’d even glimpse at cabbage with everything else on the plate but I liked the crunch. I did however, ignore the pan jus. To me, it didn’t add anything.
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There was a salmon dish that looked amazing and a pork dish I would have liked, but I just wanted to do it up! Mr. J was on the fence too. We kind of decided that everything on the menu would be amazing.

Mr. J went with the veal cheeks. They were tender, doused in a red wine thyme sauce, and held within a mashed potato cup. He loved it.
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Our adorable server led us away from a wine he thought would be too sweet. The one we ended up with was per-fect. He compared it to pinot noir and now Mr. J is seriously hooked. He has seen the light!

We figured dessert was totally necessary on our anniversary. Then as we tried to decide, the wine + Mr. J convinced me that maybe 2 desserts were in order; it was our last night and our anniversary, after all. I do always say ‘you can do whatever you want when you’re on vacation!’

We got strawberry dumplings. The Czech have dumplings for appetizers, side dishes, and desserts. Ours had whipped cream, strawberries, and strawberry creme fraiche.
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The other was an apple strudel that came with pumpkin ice cream.
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Ohh my goodness. I can’t believe we got 2 desserts that were fruit based. It was such an amazing night. We meandered back to the metro with stars in our eyes and smiles on our faces.

Chopped Greek Salad

I have one more (possibly the best meal) from vacay to share, but I wanted to space ‘em out with some regular posts too. Coming back from vacation and work travel, I wanted greens! I needed more veggies! I had one last cucumber from the rents’ garden so I thought, let’s go Greek!

This is suuuuper easy and nothing out of the ordinary, but I think chopped salads are a great way to make salad feel more special for dinner.

Ingredients:

2-3 cups lettuce or greens of your choosing
1 tomato, chopped
1 cucumber, chopped
1 cup chickpeas
1/2 cup feta crumbled
1/4 cup Greek, caesar, or creamy Caesar dressing
3 chicken tenders, marinated & grilled, then chopped
1 cup croutons

Directions:

Wash & chop lettuce putting into a big bowl. (I didn’t chop the lettuce all that much, but chop to your preference)
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Add tomatoes, cucumbers, chickpeas, and feta.
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Toss with dressing & top with chicken and croutons.
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I loooove Greek salad and think this was a good one for dinner. The chicken and chickpeas make it filling. The garden cucumber and garden tomato are good reminders how good these veggies are when they’re local and in season. We’re nearing the end but I’ll enjoy them while they last.

Lunching in Prague

Happy Columbus day! I’m happy for good ‘ole Chris, whether or not he actually discovered America. It means a holiday at my new job. It isn’t like I’m overwhelmed or overworked, but I won’t be getting any time off for the initial hire time period anyway so a long weekend is always fun.

Ok, last city of my trip, and 2nd to last vacay food post. You still with me from Paris here & here? Prague felt seriously different from Paris. Paris in one word is majestic. Prague in one word is charming…or Russian-esque…or old-world. That’s more than one word. It totally felt like what I imagine Germany, or Poland or Russia to be like. It was grittier and less perfect than Paris, but it has serious charm. It was Hitler-occupied early on in WWII so there was very little destruction.

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The food and drink is suuuper affordable. Affordable as in, beer is cheaper than a glass of water at restaurants. The food feels really German or Austrian influenced. There is a lot of schnitzels in pork, veal, chicken. There are lots of potatoes, dumplings, and beer.

One of our favorite lunches was at a cute restaurant near the Lennon Wall and Charles Bridge. It is a popular tourist area but nothing was all that crowded. There was some patio seating (complete with blankets!) but inside seemed appealing to escape the chilly day.

Mr. J got a grilled bratwurst with horseradish.
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It looked amazing!

I got one of their apps. It was a deep fried cheese they compare to French camembert. I saw it on menus daily so I figured it would be a good lunch. It was served with a sweet & tart cranberry sauce.
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I loved it. The cranberry sauce was perfect. I needed the tart flavor to balance the decadent cheese.

Just you wait for the best meal of all. Our anniversary dinner was possibly the best meal of the whole trip!

Balsamic Chicken Pizza

It is Friday! That means pizza night!! Well, I think it does for some people. That wasn’t really a thing growing up at my house, but I wouldn’t be sad to have pizza weekly. Friday normally means takeout & DVR which is pretty awesome to me.

This pizza started with some leftover grilled chicken. I figured we’d use it on salad or it could become burrito filling or whatever. It alllmost became my regular BBQ chicken pizza, but I’ve made several BBQ pizza variations before as a doughy BBQ pizza and as a bubble up BBQ one. The chicken would also have been good as this pizza with pesto, ricotta, and red peppers.

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Ingredients:

pizza dough
3/4 cup marinara sauce
6 oz mozzarella cheese, shredded
2 marinated grilled chicken breasts
1 large tomato, sliced
6 oz fontina cheese, cut into chunks
10 sprigs of asparagus, cut into 3rds or 4ths
balsamic reduction (optional)

Directions:

Preheat oven and pizza stone (if using one) to 400 degrees.
Spread pizza dough onto pizza stone, poke a few holes with a fork, and bake for 10 minutes.
Remove from the oven and top with marinara, mozzarella, tomato slices, chicken, and chunks of fontina.
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Return to the oven for another 10-15 minutes.
Remove from the oven and top with asparagus.
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Let sit for 5 minutes.
Drizzle balsamic reduction on top.
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Slice and enjoy!
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I didn’t listen to my own advice to let it sit for 5 minutes. Cheese tries to jump ship if you don’t give it a second to let it sit. Look how oozy that cheese is!

The pizza has a fresh feeling from the tomatoes and super thin asparagus yet decadent from the abundance of cheeses and chicken. The balsamic reduction is just what this pizza needs. It is sweet but tangy and it ties all the toppings together.

The leftover chicken made the assembly pretty quick. If the asparagus had been thicker I might have roasted it while the dough was pre-cooking. I wanted to shave it, but it was seriously so thin. I reduce balsamic vinegar occasionally. It lasts awhile and becomes delightfully thick and sweet.

Dinner in Paris to Feel Like a Local

Dining in Paris is priiiicy. I know we’d only be in Paris this time, but I still wouldn’t really enjoy a meal that would affect my ability to grocery shop and eat future meals. Maybe that is dramatic, but seriously, I didn’t want to break the bank. Twenty dollar dinners make adding wine and dessert gentler on the wallet. (Check out our first dinner there! and this is a fast-forward a few days later.)

It was kind of cold and rainy so I wanted something cozy and warm that included French wine. We found a super cute neighborhoody kind of place that felt like we were locals.

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I got the cassoulet and loooved it. Dunking baguette hunks into the salty broth while sipping some wine was just what I envisioned. It was meaty and salty and perfect with the red wine.
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The bacon was salty and the beans were the perfect consistency. There was pork sausage annnnd a duck leg. This is serious comfort food. It was also HUGE. Check out the dish compared to the fork. There was so much in there.

Mr. J got beef with roquefort sauce. He loves blue cheeses and definitely loves sauces. He thought the beef was good and the potatoes were an interesting in-between a chip and a potato slice. The beef was supposed to be medium rare. I don’t know that medium should have been in there…it was rare, for sure. I nabbed some green beans from his plate since I my dish was bean & meat focused.
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We were super full. My meal was quite salty and something sweet seemed like the perfect end to the meal. The menu had us at creme brulee.
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We love creme brulee and had it on the menu for a rehearsal dinner dessert option so it seemed quite fitting on our anniversary trip. Also, it is definitely not something we can make at home. It was creamy and the perfect sharing size.

Now, onward to Prague (with some recipes coming along too).