What to Eat Before Thanksgiving Dinner

Happy Thanksgiving eve! I have a few ideas that are just so simple that you can contribute regardless who is making your meal. If you’re not hosting and wanting to contribute be sure to check with your host. I like to make something for most meals, but this is my crazy time at work so this holiday will be low-key relaxing and I think I’ll provide the wine. I also might wear yoga pants and play with puppies all day. Forget the football games. I’m in for the parade though.

Maybe you need a bfast to start your day with something good-for-you. I suggest a smoothie!
Coconut Milk Mango Smoothie
coconut_smoothie_590_390
Maybe you need a bfast for whenever-people-are-ready to eat. I suggest the easiest pumpkin muffins ever.
2 ingredient pumpkin muffins
Pumpkin Muffin
Maybe you need that snack-before-the-meal. I suggest a light pumpkin dip with graham or apple dippers.
Fluffy Pumpkin Dip
pump_dip_done_390_590
Maybe you need a fresh-snacky-item for everyone to nosh on. I suggest this super easy chopped veggies, feta, and salad dressing over hummus with wheat thins. This is a crowd pleaser for sure.
Greek Salad Dip over hummus
greek_dip_plate_590_390

Maybe you need the cocktail-everyone-will-like. I suggest something chilled. This is easy to serve in a pitcher.
Apple Cider Sangria
Apple Cider Sangria
Another favorite cocktail is the creamsicle. I suggest finding some good orange soda and you’re good to go.
Or Creamsicle Cocktail

creamcicle_cocktail_390_390
I’m excited to have Black Friday off. Work is bananas before the holiday and the long weekend makes me even more thankful than the day alone.

Stuffed Acorn Squash

A while ago I was at the grocery store and I asked a guy working the produce area if they had any tomatillos. He pointed me towards squash and said the “weird vegetables” are over there. By weird he pointed me to acorn and spaghetti squash. Not weird at all to me, but I decided to take his answer as “I don’t know”.

Anywho, I’ve been thinking about acorn squash lately and thought it would actually make a super simple weeknight dinner. It has some really great flavors and was so easy. I didn’t know if it would seem like too much of one thing but we liked it. It was like hitting all the food groups in one meal.
The Three Bite Rule - Stuffed Acorn Squash

Ingredients (for 2 people):

1 acorn squash
2 sausage links
1 cup brown rice
1/4 cup onion, chopped
2 tbs garlic, chopped
1/4 cup red wine
1/4 cup wheat germ/breadcrumbs
1/3 cup dried cranberries or dried cherries

Directions:

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.
Cut squash in half and scoop out the middle (I saved the seeds).
acorn_stuffed_empty_590_390
Roast face down in a baking dish for 20-30 minutes (or until tender when pricked with a fork).
While squash is roasting, remove the sausage from the casing and brown over medium heat with the onions.
Spoon out any grease/fat.
After 5 minutes or when the sausage is almost fully cooked, add in the rice, garlic, salt, pepper, and wheatgerm/breadcrumbs.
acorn_stuffed_filling_590_390
When fully cooked, add in the dried cranberries and stir well to incorporate the cranberries.
Remove the squash from the oven and flip the squash halves onto their skin. Spoon the filling into them.
The Three Bite Rule - Stuffed Acorn Squash
Return to the oven for 10 minutes.
Optional: while squash are cooking rinse any seeds you saved away from the stringy part and toast in the oven.
Serve squash halves with some toasted seeds on top.
The Three Bite Rule - Stuffed Acorn Squash

I loved this. It is so easy and quick. It felt very fall to me. The cranberries honestly make it. I think it needs the sweet/tart to contrast the savory sausage and the soft squash. I used a cup of single-serve brown rice that just needed to be microwaved. This would also be a good use for any leftover rice you wanted to use up.

What I Ate: Almond Joy Yogurt Parfait

What I Ate’ is a series of posts for so-easy-this-doesn’t-need-a-recipe but I’m sharing with you for the idea or inspiration.

I was thinking about how much I love coconut and wondering how to make a smoothie out of it. Then I decided I’d just dump stuff on my yogurt. When I dump more than one topping onto yogurt it makes it a parfait. “Dump stuff” is so classy, but hey, parfait is suuuuper classy. It makes breakfast fancy! Right? Right!

The Three Bite Rule - Almond Joy Smoothie

Coconut yogurt is the best. I shared my love for it here during a smoothie coconut almond milk. More and more brands are adding coconut to their Greek yogurt repertoire. Love it.

Ingredients:

coconut yogurt (or vanilla)
1/3 cup coconut
1/4 cup almonds (not salted, slivers are good too)
(optional: mini chocolate chips)

Directions:

Put a small skillet on over medium-low heat.
Tranfer the yogurt into a bowl (you need more room than a yogurt cup).
The Three Bite Rule - Almond Joy Smoothie
Add coconut to the dry skillet. Stir regularly as it lightly browns. Watch it to ensure it doesn’t burn.
The Three Bite Rule - Almond Joy Smoothie
Chop the almonds (and toast if desired)
Add the toasted coconut to the yogurt over the top and add the almonds around the edge.
almondjoy_bowl_590_390
It is so good. Toasted coconut makes me want a samoa girl scout cookie. I didn’t roast the almonds but that would be so amazing here. I seriously made this on a weekday for bfast. Toasting the coconut takes 5 minutes and is absolutely worth it. Some chocolate chips would make this legit Almond Joy but it was bfast so I decided not to go crazy.

Aren’t these guys so cute? They’re regular supporters and they felt like their cute mugs should be on the blog more often. Say hi to Windsor!
IMG_3238
Miss Bailee says hello too.
IMG_3237

Pizza with Eggplant Spread and Zucchini

I was thinking about pizza with tapenade but happened upon a Mediterranean eggplant spread.  I thought it would be a great spread on pizza or as a sauce. Pre-made jarred sauces are great pizza toppings.

The Three Bite Rule - Eggplant & Zucchini Pizza

Ingredients:

1 ball pizza dough
1 cup eggplant and garlic spread (or tapanade, or roasted red pepper spread)
8 oz shredded mozzarella
1/2 cup ricotta cheese
1 small zucchini
1 tbs garlic, chopped

Directions:

Preheat oven and pizza stone (if using one) to 400 degrees.
Spread pizza dough out onto a pan/stone poking a few holes with a fork.
Bake for 10 minutes until lightly browned and not fully cooked.
eggplant_sauce_dough_590_390
Spread eggplant spread onto the dough.
The Three Bite Rule - Eggplant & Zucchini Pizza
In a large skillet, saute zucchini and garlic over medium heat. Cook for about 5 minutes and then remove from the heat.
Sprinkle pizza crust with mozzarella, and spoonfuls of ricotta.

eggplant_sauce_toppings_590_390
Spoon zucchini onto the pizza as well.

The Three Bite Rule - Eggplant & Zucchini Pizza
Bake for 10-15 more minutes until cheese is melted and zucchini still has some texture.

The Three Bite Rule - Eggplant & Zucchini Pizza
Let it sit for 5 minutes before slicing.

The Three Bite Rule - Eggplant & Zucchini Pizza
It was really good and had some different flavors. I loooove ricotta on pizza or in calzones. It’s such a light cheese with some creaminess.

Tapenade, or pesto, blended roasted red peppers, or spreads are great for pizzas. I used some zucchini but eggplant or butternut squash would be good too. If pizza dough isn’t your thing then make this on naan, pitas, or flatbread.

What else would be a good fall pizza?

Kale Pesto over Pork Chops and Polenta

I know, right? How amazing does that sound?!? Mr. J was in charge of dinner and that is seriously what he came up with. I loved it! It was really good and actually surprisingly easy. I assisted as his sous-chef so I snapped some photos as he cooked.

This is super easy feels totally special and is such a wow meal.

kale_pesto_plate_590_390

He found the pork chops with roasted kale and walnut pesto on the food network site. It was so good and definitely one to jot down. If you think you aren’t into pork chops then get a meat thermometer. If you’ve had hard-as-rock pork it isn’t pretty. The thermometer will save the day.

The pesto takes 10 minutes. Polenta takes about 5 minutes. The pork cookes quickly too.

Roasted Kale Pesto

from Food Network
Ingredients:

1 head of kale
olive oil
1/2 cup walnuts
2 tbs lemon juice

Directions:

Preheat the oven to 400 degrees.
Tear the kale off the stems and spread onto a sheet pan.
kale_pesto_590_390
Drizzle with olive oil, salt & pepper.
Roast for about 5 minutes (be careful not to let it burn)
Transfer into a food processor with walnuts, lemon juice, salt, and pepper.
kale_pesto_process_590_390
Blend until smooth while slowly streaming in the olive oil until you reach your desired thickness (add more olive oil if using with pasta, add less for topping on meat).
kale_pesto_mixed_590_390
It stores well and we froze half for a “rainy day”. This pesto would be amazing for a vegetarian dish. It is so flavorful, unique, and not overpowering at all.

For the pork chops we used were boneless but bone-in would be fine as well. Season generously with salt, pepper, and dried rosemary, on both sides.

In a pan large enough to fit all the chops, preheat it to medium-high heat.
Add the pork chops to sear on one side for about 5 minutes, then flip and cook until the center reaches 140-150 degrees on a thermometer.
kale_pesto_pork_590_390
We made some polenta too. I haven’t had polenta in awhile but I forgot how quick it is. As in, 5 minutes quick. It makes dinner feel really different.
kale_pesto_plate_590_390
Have leftover pesto? Spread it into a panini and dip the grilled cheese into marinara for an Italian grilled cheese. Or use it on pizza or pasta. Leftover polenta? Form into patties and fry like I did here with scallops. Polenta works well with anything spicy like chorizo or with anything earthy like duck.

Cranberry Soda Cocktail

I love the fall-finds at Trader Joe’s I grabbed this cranberry soda without a plan for it but it sounded good and had serious potential. Sometimes special cocktails don’t need  a reason. They make a random night’s dinner prep that much more exciting!

The Three Bite Rule - Cranberry Soda Cocktail

Ingredients:

1 1/2 cups cranberry soda (or cranberry juice + club soda)
1/2 shot cranberry vodka
1/2 shot whipped vodka
splash lime juice

Directions:

Mix vodkas and soda over ice.
Add a splash of lime juice.
The Three Bite Rule - Cranberry Soda Cocktail
It was so good. I think the whipped vodka was key to this. It kept it from being overly bitter with a hint of a creamy flavor. It is so pretty too. #winning

The Three Bite Rule - Cranberry Soda Cocktail
Ginger ale with a splash of cranberry juice would be good flavors in this. Orange zest and cointreau would be good flavors. How great would the orange flavors be for brunch?!

Brussels Sprouts with Apples and Mustard Dressing

I love brussels sprouts. I was wanted a really fall-inspired side dish. This was a really quick side dish that actually has tons of room for customization. I used Israeli couscous because it is really fast and versatile especially for a his & hers night. I don’t eat red meat and Mr. J isn’t into fish so we share side dishes. Mr. J had some venison tenderloin and I made some shrimp.

The brussels sprouts dish was sweet from the honey mustard and has really crisp apples. It is really comforting and took less than 15-minutes to whip up.
brussels_cous_bowl_590_390

Ingredients:

2-3 cups brussels sprouts, halved or quartered
1 cup Israeli couscous
1 cup vegetable broth
1 cup water
1 medium apple, chopped
3 tbs dijon mustard
3 tbs honey

Directions:

Heat a medium stock pot to medium heat.
Add couscous and 1 tbs olive oil, stirring to toast couscous.
brussels_cous_couscous_590_390
In a large flat pan over medium heat, add brussels sprouts, and 1 tbs butter or oil.
brussels_cous_bruss_590_390
Add 1 cup of vegetable broth and 1 cup of water to the couscous, stirring well and reducing heat to medium-low.
Cook the couscous through, about 4 minutes.
Mix up the mustard and honey.
brussels_cous_honeymust_590_390
Add the couscous and honey mustard dressing to the brussels sprouts.
Stir well, turn off heat, and add the apples.
brussels_cous_pan_590_390
Gently stir again and serve.
brussels_cous_bowl_590_390
Couscous is a pasta so there’s literally zero health benefit from it. I like the soft nutty flavor from couscous but this brussels sprout side dish would be good with brown rice, or barley, or quinoa, or beans. There’s a lot of nutritious alternatives. Nuts would be good in here for crunch. I love the honey mustard with the apples but you could swap the apples for dried cranberries.

Blogaversary: The Three Bite Rule Turns 3

Can you believe it? I’m amazed that The Three Bite Rule turns 3 today!! What?? How is that possible? I’m amazed. I’m thrilled so many of you have been loyal readers and I’m glad to welcome any occasional visitors. Whether you’ve read from the beginning with tiny dark photos or you know me of recent. Thank you. Enjoy and I hope you continue to join me (also there’s a giveaway if you make it to the end)!

I started blogging about food because I really like trying to figure out how to make things. I also really like recommending restaurants and I definitely think food is a serious part of any vacation. I wanted a sustainable blog name, and schedule. I took a 1-session intro to blogging class and quickly realized I already knew that keeping up with your writing schedule was important. I also knew social media. Also, it made sense the suggestion not to pick a name that wouldn’t always fit (like something with Bostonian or about my age, or whatever. I figured I was a step ahead of some folks who had blogging topics that couldn’t work for a whole year to talk about 2 vacations taken that year. I’d love to see the blogs from that program.

So far, The Three Bite Rule has had:
450 posts
2,118 photos
38 categories
786 twitter followers
317 Pinterest followers
90 FB followers

Let’s reflect on last year’s goals:

    • more giveaways: ehhh. I didn’t quite deliver on this one (there’s one at the end of this post, if you make it through)
    • more tips & techniques for some of the stuff I do best: I think I got better at writing in a systematic approach for instruction
    • more comments (that means you!): I’d always like a few more, but I love ‘em all! Comment below!
    • more foodie crafts & reading: I posted a few more books for foodies, which are surprisingly well received by readers. I’ll likely keep ‘em going.
    • better photos & more time spent to get nice shots: I think I did better to take more, to give myself more options. This is always something I can work on.

Time for some annual superlatives, shall we?

“Early-Bird” Bfast Favorite
Mocha Nut Smoothie
mocha_nut_smoothie_590_390

Party Animal:
Hosting Brunch Tips
brunch_yogparfait_590_390

Most Photogenic:
Greek Veggie Pizza
greek_pizza_slice_590_390

Best One-Pot Wunder:
Chinese-Style Pork from the Crockpot
chinese_pork_mixed_590_390

Favorite Recipe of the YEAR:
Pulled Pork Pizza with Mustard Beer Sauce
pork_pizza_plate_590_390

Party Animal:
Strawberry Basil Sangria
straw_basil_pot_590_390

Biggest Sweet Tooth:
Peanut Butter and Jelly Bars
gramwich_cut_590_390
Viewer’s Choice Awards:
Turkey Cranberry & Brie Panini
Breakfast for Dinner: Italian French Toast
Grilled Bruschetta Pizza
Breakfast Inspired Burgers

 

Giveaway Time!! Tell me what was your favorite post/recipe/item this year?
You get to share some love for all times my dinner takes twice as long as I move things around for photos, food gets cold, or while others have to wait for me to get over their plate. In exchange my friends at Tuttorosso are gifting you a wooden spoon gift package!

a Rafflecopter giveaway

spoon2_590_390

spoon1_590_390Comment away! and follow, tweet, etc! I hope you enjoy. The spoon is actually AHHH-MAZING. It is way better than the wooden tools I have, and I thought I had good ones. Seriously, enjoy this one yourself or stick it in somebody’s stocking. It’s that good. What a lovely reminder at your hand! Thanks!!!

Meals for a Week

Good morning. Happy Saturday! I wanted to share a very special cause with you. This is important to me and I hope I can adequately convey how amazing this is.

How many meals could you eat on $25? Probably not your Thanksgiving dinner. You likely couldn’t eat all that many meals for that price. Did you go out to lunch this week? Lunch at a restaurant, or even a few pumpkin spice lattes this week would get you pretty close to $25.

love-cover-facecook
Community Servings can feed a person for a WEEK on $25. A week of meals. Could you do that? I definitely spend more than that even without any crazy ingredients. A week of meals for $25. They also deliver them. Stop and think about that.

Now that you’ve thought about how amazing it is that Community Servings can make real, culturally sensitive, and homemade food for $25 for a person for a week. Let’s talk about Thanksgiving pie. I’m not a big baker. If you’re a regular reader then you know this. Pie in the Sky is the perfect solution for me. For $25 you pay for a week of meals to be delivered to a critically ill and homebound person in Massachusetts and then you get to pick up a pie.

17,000 pies are donated from bakeries/restaurants/caterers/and hotels who care….DONATED. That is amazing how much they want to help. 75 pick up sites are staffed by volunteers from those locations who stay late and work to hand out the pies out of goodwill the day before Thanksgiving when they could be home getting a jump-start on holiday travel, prep, or relaxing. What will you do?

pieSquaregraphic
I hope you’re still here so now I want to share why it matters. I tear up thinking about it. I have never wondered where my meal was coming from. I grew up knowing that food was never a question. I learned that meals were family time and food was valued.

When my family was caring for our own critically ill patient, we were not at risk of lacking food. Can you imagine? This is what people here…in Massachusetts, deal with on a regular basis. I did not have to wonder what would become of my family while our patient received chemo at MGH. My parents didn’t risk loosing custody of their children because they weren’t able to work and feed them while undergoing intense treatments. I felt like it wasn’t fair and it was hard to see the future, but what would it have been like if meals were also a question?

I can’t even get over that our amazing medical institutions can only do their best, but when the patient is weak, possibly having lost their jobs to be able to receive care, is then expected to shop, prepare, and eat it seems like quite the feat. Community Servings hopes that meals can keep some of these people out of hospitals, that these meals can keep families together, and that these people know somebody cares about how they’re doing.

ecard_haveyourpie_email
That’s what your $25 can do. I don’t care where you live. I don’t care where you’re going for Thanksgiving or who normally bakes your pie. Buy a pie here. Or donate a pie to a Community Servings client. Or make an outright donation.

It isn’t really about the pie. And what else can you really do with $25? You must care about food, especially if you’ve read this huuugely long post. Pay $25 to show that everyone, especially the critically ill, should get to eat.

I‘ve given you think aboutttt 6 times now. What are you waiting for? Do it now.

What I Ate: Sweet Pumpkin Dip

What I Ate’ is a series of posts for so-easy-this-doesn’t-need-a-recipe but I’m sharing with you for the idea or inspiration.

It is Pumpkin Week here. Check out my Pumpkin French Toast and my Pumpkin Risotto. This is too easy to share, but it is just such a fall delight and very addictive.

I’m not a big baker so this sweet dip hit the spot. It also isn’t the worst sweet treat to eat. I whipped this up, refrigerated it until I was ready, and then packed it for an Octoberfest party. Now that’s easy.

The Three Bite Rule - Pumpkin Dip

Ingredients:

1, 15-oz can pumpkin
1, 15-oz container non-dairy whipped cream
1 box vanilla pudding mix (regular, cook to serve)
1 tsp pumpkin pie spice

Directions:

Whip everything together.
The Three Bite Rule - Pumpkin Dip
Refrigerate for at least 30 minutes.
The Three Bite Rule - Pumpkin Dip
Serve with graham crackers for dipping.
The Three Bite Rule - Pumpkin Dip
I like this dip. The flavors and ease are definitely the high points. It is delightfully light and fluffy. I didn’t even think about dipping apples until now, but how great would that be?! I spread this onto toast one morning and couldn’t get over my genius moment. Whip this up for Thanksgiving when everyone needs something to munch on.

This is basically a quickie pumpkin mousse. Sprinkle some graham cracker crumbles on the bottom and top with a dollop of whipped cream and you’ve got dessert.

Should we keep talking about pumpkin? One more day! Tomorrow is something out of the ordinary for The Three Bite Rule and I want you to see it.