December In Review

December is over and 2014 approaches. In case you’ve been too busy for The Three Bite Rule, here’s some highlights of what’s been happening lately.

I was thrilled to see snow, but didn’t love my commute home. It seemed appropriate for December and a weeknight snowfall didn’t affect any holiday gatherings for me. Mr. J was psyched to use his snow blower. In December we cut down our Christmas tree, celebrated with each family, and I hosted a little holiday girls gathering one afternoon.

The puppies were just so happy to pose for a holiday card. Seriously. They love it. Windsor & Bailee are happy to have attention of any kind, also when earning a biscuit afterwards. Poor Windsor had a rough few weeks of seizures around Thanksgiving and then again on Christmas Eve. I told him people were going to think he didn’t like holidays.
The Three Bite Rule - Happy Holidays
For most of December I was obsessed with quick & easy meals. One of my favorites was Cheeseburger Soup that is easy on a weeknight or well suited to be kept warm in a crockpot.
The Three Bite Rule - Cheeseburger Soup
I tweaked how I suggest adaptations, which has been well received: As seen at the end here for Sausage Stuffing
The Three Bite Rule - Sausage Stuffing
I figured everyone could use some tips to make better pizza
The Three Bite Rule - Margherita Pizza
And after all of that, who doesn’t need a lighter salad inspired by winter
The Three Bite Rule - Wintry Salad

It’s a light few days here on 3 Bite Rule and in the blogosphere. I have a fancy new laptop (eeeeek!!!) for January posts and some ideas for blog-related New Year’s Resolutions. Stay tuned!

Creamy Tomato Basil Pasta

The in-between of Christmas and New Years is kind of a weird time. Kiddos are off from school, travel wraps up, house guests leave, there’s still a holiday coming up, and there’s some more work in between. I also think there’s so much pressure for New Year’s Eve and resolutions. It is just a weird time.

I was on a quick-dinner-kick before the holidays and have just one more that I wanted to share for a keep-in-your-back pocket pantry. It also works for a great #meatlessmonday and a break from extravagant or elaborate holiday dinners.
The Three Bite Rule - Creamy Tomato Basil Pasta

Ingredients:

2 cups Pastene Kitchen Ready Tomatoes
2 tbs cream cheese
2 tbs fresh basil
8 oz (1/2 box) bow tie pasta

Directions:

Boil salted water for pasta.
Heat a flat pan to medium-low heat, adding tomatoes to the pan.
Boil pasta until undercooked and almost al dente.
Reduce the temperature to low and add the cream cheese
The Three Bite Rule - Creamy Tomato Basil Pasta
Add in the partially cooked pasta, letting it cook for a few more minutes in the sauce, adding the basil.
The Three Bite Rule - Creamy Tomato Basil Pasta
Sprinkle with Parmesan and more basil to serve!
The Three Bite Rule - Creamy Tomato Basil Pasta
It is super easy and delightfully comforting. This pasta is just so fast yet it still seems like not the same-old same-old.

Any resolutions coming up? I tend to make them on my blogaversary but I’m thinking I might set a year-of challenge for myself. I have a few ideas brewing so stay tuned!

Happy Holidays!

Happy holidays from The Three Bite Rule!

Mr. J did such a fantastic job with our holiday card featuring our furry cuties so I just had to share. I’ll be back after Christmas! Eat well!

The Three Bite Rule - Happy Holidays

What I Ate: Wintry Salad

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.

This is the season of intense foods, holiday parties, hot chocolate based cocktails, and seasonal candy. I figured a few meals should off-set those delicious things. I threw this salad together calling it a Wintry Salad on our meal planning calendar and Mr. J found it comical. What’s winter about salad he asks? I say white beans, pears, and blue cheese dressing make a subtle nod to winter. Either way, we should eat more salads for dinner. This one is hearty and filling while still getting lots of veggies to you.
The Three Bite Rule - Wintry Salad
I had 3 chicken tenders I lightly breaded and cooked, but didn’t use and then froze them. I forget what they had been for, but that was the perfect amount of chicken for some protein without being a ton. I made enough salad for 2 of us for dinner and one for Mr. J to take for lunch. That equates to 1 chicken tender per serving. Plus 2 strips of bacon crumbled, into 3 servings. Basically, I just want to remind you that the amount of protein on salad can be wayyy less than you’d serve otherwise.

The Three Bite Rule - Wintry Salad

Wintry Salad Ingredients (add or swap as you desire!)
mixed greens
tomatoes
cucumbers
1 pear
3 chicken tenders
2 strips of bacon
1 cup white beans
blue cheese dressing

I tossed it with a tiny bit of Italian dressing. That helps reduce how much creamy dressing anyone will “need”.

suggested adaptations:
wintry salad + feta – blue cheese dressing = Greek-ish salad
wintry salad – chicken – bacon + artichokes = vegetarian friendly
wintry salad – chicken – bacon + leftover holiday ham + roasted carrots = lightened up leftovers
wintry salad + balsamic onions + warm bacon salad dressing = winter wonderland

Chicken Parmesan Calzone

I love the ease of calzones and this one is ideal to feed your hungry house guests or to keep your weeknights productive with simplicity or to be a hefty appetizer or a potluck star. I mean, I don’t know about you, but I haven’t finished wrapping Christmas presents and there are about a bejillion holiday movies on tv right now. Keeping wiggle room on weeknights is definitely what I need.

This is not a far cry from my Chicken Parmesan Pizza, but I want to save you from a lackluster Chicken Parm calzone if you were thinking of chicken and mozzarella. That’s not enough, but of course you weren’t thinking that. ;) That’s almost enough for topping a Chicken Parmesan pizza but in a calzone it will be underwhelming and seem empty. Don’t forget to fill, fill, fill the calzone. It seems like wayyy less when you bake & slice it up.

Ingredients:

pizza dough
1 1/2 cups tomato sauce (Pastene Kitchen Ready Tomatoes)
5 chicken tenders breaded and cooked through, and cut into chunks
1 1/2 cups ricotta cheese
1 cup mozzarella, shredded
1 cup Parmesan

Directions:

Preheat the oven, and pizza stone if using one, to 400 degrees.
Spread the pizza dough onto the pizza stone or pizza pan, off center so the filling can be on the “bottom” and the “top” can fold over. When the dough goes onto a hot pan it cooks a bit to hold the form.
Layer chicken chunks, mozzarella, ricotta spoonfuls, Parmesan, and tomato drizzles.
The Three Bite Rule - Chicken Parm Calzone
Keep layering and making sure there’s filling all the way to the edges. Fill more than it seems like it needs.
The Three Bite Rule - Chicken Parm Calzone
Keep filling, and filling, and filling.
Fold the top over and pinch the edges together.
Gently “squish” the fillings to the edges to pat it down a bit.
Slice some vents into the top, spacing them out and keeping any unplanned vents.
The Three Bite Rule - Chicken Parm Calzone
Bake 30 minutes. Optional: Brush with olive oil or eggwash for a shiny top midway through.
Remove from the oven and let sit for 5 minutes before slicing.
The Three Bite Rule - Chicken Parm Calzone
This is an easy one that is ohh so comforting. It is very simple but hits some flavors everyone likes, plus calzones are great as leftovers. I put tomato sauce into this calzone, but I normally just serve it on the side. I also would love slices of fresh mozzarella in here but I was trying to keep it pretty simple.

I made a few pizzas and a few calzones for guests. This one was a good crowd-pleaser amongst some other flavors. The chicken parmesan calzone helped the menu since I could prep it and partially cook it in advance. I paired this guy with a bruschetta pizza, a BBQ chicken pizza, and a pepperoni pizza for the kiddies. Something for everyone!

Sausage Stuffing

My mom makes some seriously awesome stuffing. It works like a side dish but I figured holding strong on 2 food groups meant I’d make it the main dish! I love this and would eat it far too often if it were at all good for me. It’s a fantastic wintry food and makes a great dinner or side dish. There’s a secret ingredient that is the trick.

My sous chef wanted to help #kitchendogs #fluffybailee

The Three Bite Rule - Sausage Stuffing

Ingredients:

4-6 sausage links, removed from the casing (I used turkey sausage this time)
1 loaf of sourdough bread or something crusty
1 can golden mushroom soup (even mushroom-haters will not notice this is in here)
1/2 cup white wine
1/3 cup water
1 tbs Worcestershire sauce
1 tbs garlic, minced
1 yellow onion, chopped
salt and pepper

Directions:

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.
Heat a large skillet to medium heat while you chop the onion and remove the casing from the sausage links.
Brown the sausage, breaking it into smaller chunks with the back of a wooden spoon.
In a medium pot, warm the soup, wine, water, Worcestershire sauce, and garlic over medium heat.
The Three Bite Rule - Sausage Stuffing
Cut the bread into chunks.
When the sausage is mostly cooked through, drain any excess grease and add the onions into the pan with the sausage. Cook a few minutes until the onion gets soft and a bit translucent, about 5 minutes.
In a large bowl, toss the cooked sausage and onions and bread together.
The Three Bite Rule - Sausage Stuffing
Pour the liquid mixture into the bowl and mix well.
Empty the whole bowl into a large baking dish, sprayed with non-stick spray.
The Three Bite Rule - Sausage Stuffing
Bake uncovered for 40 minutes. Broil the last 3 minutes if the top hasn’t crisped enough
The Three Bite Rule - Sausage Stuffing
Yum. I love this one. The golden mushroom soup is so flavorful – just don’t confuse it with cream of mushroom soup.

I served this with some roasted asparagus for a quick dinner. The leftovers are great and it is just an inviting unfussy meal.
The Three Bite Rule - Sausage Stuffing
I found a loaf of artisan bread with garlic in it. It was pricey but I only used 4 sausage links and the bread. Other ingredients were super cheap and this was about 5 servings for us.

Shhhh. I nibbled on some leftovers for breakfast one morning when all I wanted was a non-sweet breakfast. What? A touch of maple and this is the ideal salty breakfast…just call it savory bread pudding and nobody will think twice.

some suggested adaptations:
this recipe + celery/kale/portobello/peppers = more veggie-ful stuffing
this recipe – golden mushroom soup + low sodium chicken broth = less salty/lower sodium meal (or reduce the soup to half a can and increase the water to 3/4 cups
this recipe + muffin tins = easily servable stuffing cups
this recipe – turkey sausage + soy sausage crumbles = vegetarian stuffing
this recipe + dried cranberries + sage = super seasonal flavors

What I Ate: Apple Cider Oatmeal

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 what could make my oatmeal better. I wanted to amp up the flavor big time. I opened up the fridge and what to my wander eyes did appear, but some apple cider! Normally I stir in some pumpkin butter from a never. ending. jar. This time I figured a different liquid could add some spice to my oatmeal.

Then I’m enjoying my apple cidery oatmeal and browsing through some blogs when I have a total deja vu moment! That very same morning I see that How Sweet It Is wrote about Baked Eggnog Oatmeal. No way! Yes way! It looked amazing. It made me want to put on jammies crawling back into bed to lounge and watch SVU marathons all morning.

Anywho, back to the oatmeal. I literally just replaced the water with apple cider. It would be even better with some chopped up apples, almonds, Craisins or whatever floats your boat.
The Three Bite Rule - Apple Cider Oatmeal
I loved it. I know apple cider is almost out of season, but if they’re still sellin’ it then I’m still buyin’ it, even though it is December.

The Three Bite Rule - Apple Cider Oatmeal
I made a ton and couldn’t finish it. I forgot how filling and how much oatmeal expands. Maybe next time I’ll start with less oatmeal. The flavor was big time, especially for the morning, but you could definitely do 75% cider and 25% water if it was too strong.

Make this for a quick weekend breakfast before you do lots of holiday things. I’m seeing the POPS at Symphony Hall tonight and can’t wait! It might snow a little bit again so that would make for an ideal gift-wrapping-day on Sunday after a holiday party and volunteering on Saturday.

Quick Meals for a Busy Season

I’ve been thinking about meals that are speedy yet delicious. Mr. J has been rushing around to get our holiday card photo done (gonna be AHHH-MAZING) and I’ve been trying to finish up some shopping (thanks to Amazon prime!) and I’ve been decorating so my focus has been on some meals that we’ll enjoy but that aren’t as elaborate as they sometimes can get.

Enjoy these ideas, and leave a comment with your own suggestions!

Chicken and waffles makes a quick meal. I made the waffles with some cornmeal and hot sauce in this post but if you find some in your freezer you’ll be halfway to dinner! From Away blogged about some to-die-for chicken and waffle nachos with maple and sriracha.
chick_waff_plate_590_390
I absolutely love this spinach and artichoke pasta. The trick is creamed spinach from the freezer section. It takes longer for the pasta water to boil than anything else!
spin_art_plate_590_390
Maybe your grill is covered in snow, but grilling some chicken inside, or getting already cooked chicken would make Chicken Caesar Salad Wraps super quick.
chick_caesar_filling_590_390
Lastly, when all else fails, breakfast for dinner. Mr. J makes a mean huevos rancheros. All you need is: tortillas, eggs, salsa, and cheese.
guest_huevos_rancheros_plate_590_390
What’s for dinner in your kitchen when you’re busy busy busy?

Quick Cheeseburger Soup

I cannot even put into words how amazing this soup was. One of my favorite things I’ve cooked in awhile. Gahhh. It is so amazing and I want to make it again immediately. It is the perfect non-grilling-weather way to taste a cheeseburger. The tomato flavor and garlic and onions seemed spot on flavors to make me think of a burger.

The Three Bite Rule - Cheeseburger Soup

I tweaked a recipe I saw on Family Fresh Meals. That one uses a crockpot and I was making this on speed. I also didn’t include the bacon that this recipe did. I know! I know! Blasphemy. I was attempting to lighten this soup up just a bit while maintaing the flavors. I skipped the potatoes, used less cream cheese, nixed the milk/flour slurry, and swapped beef for ground chicken. But then I served it in mini breadbowls so maybe lightening it up didn’t really do much. Next time I might even skip the shredded cheese and just sprinkle some on to serve it. Gasp!

I skipped the crockpot since I didn’t think there were that many more flavors to develop here. Some things (read: chili, pork shoulder, etc) develop more and better flavors the longer they cook. This one wasn’t likely to do that, but don’t get me wrong, crockpots are great to keep food hot for a crowd.

Cheeseburger Soup

adapted from Family Fresh Meals

Ingredients:

1 lbs ground chicken (or ground pork)
3 large carrots
2 celery stocks
1 medium white onion
16 oz can crushed tomatoes (I swear by Pastene Kitchen Ready tomatoes)
1 1/2 cups chicken broth
1 tsp worcestershire sauce
1 tbs dijon, or whole grain mustard
1 tsp garlic powder
salt & pepper
4 oz (1/2 brick) of cream cheese
4-6 oz shredded cheddar cheese
green onions for topping

Directions:

Heat a large heavy pot (to become the soup pot) over medium-high heat and heat a large skillet (for the ground chicken) over medium heat.
Peal the carrots, and chop carrots, celery, and onion.
In a large skillet, brown the ground chicken until cooked most of the way through. Break into crumbles with the back of a spoon.
In the soup pot, add in 1 tbs olive oil, chopped carrots, chopped celery, and chopped onion cooking for about 10 minutes.
The Three Bite Rule - Cheeseburger Soup
Drain the meat discarding any excess fat/grease and add to the soup pot.
Add in the crushed tomatoes.
The Three Bite Rule - Cheeseburger Soup
Add in chicken broth, worcestershire sauce, mustard, salt, pepper, and garlic powder, stirring well.
The Three Bite Rule - Cheeseburger Soup
Cook for another 10-15 minutes covered. It was at a low boil which helped it thicken up a bit (without needing a milk/flour slurry).
Uncover and reduce heat to low.
Add in the cream cheese, stirring well as it melts.
The Three Bite Rule - Cheeseburger Soup
Finally, add in the shredded cheese. Stir to melt.
The Three Bite Rule - Cheeseburger Soup
Serve topped with green onions in mini-bread bowls!
The Three Bite Rule - Cheeseburger Soup
This is a serious crowd pleaser. I loved it and would totally make it again! I was a bit heavy handed with the green onions, don’t do that. This was pretty quick but is a recipe where you could do some prep in advance. You could make pretty much the whole thing in advance and refrigerate or freeze it until needed – I’d leave off the cream cheese until just before serving.

I split a ball of pizza dough into 3-4 balls to bake into bread bowls. Just bake, let cool, slice off the tops, and hollow out the middle.

This would be a perfect recipe to whip up for some family or for a potluck. It could surely be a time savor (and leftover source) during this very busy time of year.

adaptations/suggestions
this recipe + some beans + cooked longer + cumin = cheeseburger chili!
this recipe + some chunks of soft onion rolls with butter for bun croutons
this recipe – cream cheese + a very little dash of cream = lightened cheeseburger soup
this recipe – cream cheese + 5-8 hours in a crockpot + cream cheese at the end = less fuss cheeseburger soup
this recipe + a whole bar of burger toppings (bacon, blue cheese, dollop of mustard, green onions, shredded cheddar, etc)

What I Ate: Pumpkin Smoothie

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 almost wanted to call this pumpkin pie smoothie, but it is seriously much healthier for you. It only tastes like dessert. It is perfect for fall flavors. I freeze the bananas for smoothies to make it frostier and thicker, but a regular banana would be fine, just not a chilly.
The Three Bite Rule - Pumpkin Smoothie

Ingredients:

1 banana (preferably frozen)
6 oz vanilla Greek yogurt
1 cup pumpkin puree (not pumpkin pie filling)
2 tbs pumpkin butter (optional)
1 tsp pumpkin pie spice (or make your own: cinnamon, nutmeg, ginger, and allspice)

Directions:

Add banana, yogurt, pumpkin, pumpkin butter, and pumpkin pie spice in a blender.
The Three Bite Rule - Pumpkin Smoothie
Blend and enjoy!
The Three Bite Rule - Pumpkin Smoothie
This is so good and tastes like dessert. The pumpkin butter amped up the pumpkin flavor even more, but could definitely be omitted. I use it in oatmeal, on toast, or mixed into yogurt during all-things-pumpkin season.
The Three Bite Rule - Pumpkin Smoothie

  • this recipe – yogurt + ice cream = dessert
  • this recipe + blend with ice + dark rum + rim the glass with graham cracker = cocktail

Does pumpkin-season end after Thanksgiving? What do you think?