February In Review

How is February over already? Time is kind of zooming past me. Normally I only feel like time-flies when I’m super busy and over-scheduled. February wasn’t exactly like that but work is busy and I love it. I’m ready for Mother Nature to see the other side, but that might mostly have to do with Mr. J being a one-armed bandit after a hockey injury resulting in a dislocated shoulder. #notfun

The Olympics have taken over the last few weeks of February. Sis had a very themed party. I took a terrible assortment of pics resulting in either an awkward portrayal of a great theme or no blog post…I went with the latter. At least from here you can check out the Jenner Juice (throwback Pepsi), some Olympic torches int he background and Olympic rings in the foreground. I got snowboarding and Austria for a medal pool and was a winner! I was pretty close on the USA medal count though! IMG_3910
I snuck in a few spring-inspired dinners to look past the snow:
like caprese stuffed chicken
The Three Bite Rule - Caprese Chicken
and mojito shrimp which might be my fav photo this year
The Three Bite Rule - Mojito Shrimp
I used some leftover fondue to make some pretty rock-star Kale Mac & Cheese
The Three Bite Rule - Kale Mac & Cheese
My last favorite meal of February has to be Prosciutto, Fontina, and Fig Panini

The Three Bite Rule - Fig & Prosciutto Panini
So, what’s next for March? I’ll have a birthday getaway that I’m sure will be filled with delicious goodies.

Goals update:
#yearoftheflower is going strong, thanks to Mr. J for Valentine’s Day
self-imposed cooking challenge: I made a quickie Curry Carrot Soup that was pretty good, and definitely something different for me.
foodie excursion: the best chicken burger I’ve ever had at Grass Fed & a spur of the moment dinner at Sky for a flatbread that totally needs to be recreated at home.

With February coming to a close do you know what that means? On Monday I will feel like the camel from the commercial GUESS WHAT DAY IT IS!? My birthday is riiiight around the corner, and it’s a biggie!

Kale & Portobello Breakfast Strata

Again, I’m on the quest for not-sweet breakfast ideas. I wanted to try to make something that wasn’t all that egg-y. I love eggs but breakfast seems to be either sweet or eggs or fruit. That’s it. I figured I’d try to make something not heavy on the eggs, just for a challenge.

This veggie strata isn’t all that authentic – I went light on the eggs and light on the bread. It is really heavy on the kale and mushrooms to make it filling. I liked it, but wouldn’t eat it weekly. I made a ton and froze a few slices once I got tired of it.

Google helped me come up with a name for this. There’s a fine line between quiche (traditionally has crust, more egg than other ingredients) versus frittata (crustless, often has potatoes)  versus strata (crustless, with bread in it).

The Three Bite Rule - Kale & Portobello Strata

Ingredients:

3 eggs
1 1/2 cups milk
1/2 tsp garlic powder
1 small onion, chopped
3 cups kale, deveined and chopped
1 pt portobello mushrooms, chopped
1/2 cup swiss cheese
3 slices of light wheat bread, cubed
salt & pepper
2 tbs grated Parmesan

Directions:

Preheat oven to 375-degrees.
In a large bowl, add kale and mushrooms.
The Three Bite Rule - Kale & Portobello Strata
Add in the onions, cheese, and bread.
In a separate bowl, whisk together the eggs, milk, garlic powder. Add in salt & pepper to taste.
The Three Bite Rule - Breakfast Strata with Kale & Portobello
Add the egg mixture into the veggie mixture, stir well until evenly coated.
Pour the mixture into a large baking dish, sprayed with non-stick spray in a thin even layer. (mine didn’t all fit so I put the remainder into a smaller ramekin.)
Sprinkle with Parmesan.
Bake for 30-minutes.
Let cool and serve a room temperature or slightly warmed.
The Three Bite Rule - Breakfast Strata with Kale & Portobello
This made about 8 very sizable servings for me. It seemed like a ton. There’s only 3 eggs and 3 slices of bread in the 8 servings. It would be an easy way to use whatever veggies you have around. I’m lucky that work not only provides lunch daily but there’s a salad everyday, but who doesn’t need more veggies daily? I liked that it definitely seems different than quiche or eggs. It was good to start the day with a serious serving of veggies for a savory breakfast.

Mushrooms are a great way to bulk up the quantity of food, without adding anything bad. They’re great fillers to meatballs or to make salad more filling or burritos or anywhere to reduce the meat without feeling hungry afterwards.

What else should I whip up for savory but easy breakfast?

Turkey Meatballs with Garlic Sauce over Faux-Mashed Potatoes

When I meal-planned and started photographing this dinner, I hadn’t thought twice about the cauliflower mashed potatoes. I make these faux-mashed potatoes occasionally but I did realize I hadn’t blogged them in years, since making Balsamic Glazed Chicken. It’s a great way to lighten mashed potatoes or to stretch out the little potato you have. I used the potato as a base topped with turkey meatballs and a super quick sauce.

Cauliflower doesn’t really have all that much flavor so I honestly think people wouldn’t notice anything different about the potatoes. Plus, adding the cauliflower will add a ton more vitamin C, some added calcium, potassium, protein, & other good stuff without affecting the flavor or texture at all. Potatoes really shouldn’t be the enemy but adding some fresh or frozen cauliflower is a no-brainer.

The Three Bite Rule - Garlic Meatballs over Faux Mashed Potatoes
I came up with this idea thinking that frozen turkey meatballs would make for a quick weeknight dinner. The meatballs and garlic sauce were Trader Joe’s ingredients. Trader Joe’s turkey meatballs are hands down, better than any others. I was intrigued by the garlic sauce and ended up adding it to a few different dinners. It doesn’t make/break this dinner though. I included a really easy alternative.

The Three Bite Rule - Garlic Sauce Meatballs

Ingredients:

3 turkey meatballs per person
1/2 cup garlic cooking sauce (or double the broth (below) + 2 tbs diced garlic)
1/2 cup chicken stock
splash of white wine
1 tsp balsamic vinegar
1/2 tsp thyme, dried or fresh rosemary
2 potatoes, pealed or unpealed
2 cups cauliflower
2 tsp cream cheese
1/4 cup milk
1 tsp butter
salt & pepper

Directions:

In a large pot of boiling water, cook potatoes and cauliflower florets until fully cooked through.
In a flat pan over medium heat, add garlic,
Defrost meatballs and add to a flat pan with garlic sauce, stock, wine, balsamic vinegar, thyme, salt, and pepper.
Cook over medium heat for 5 minutes, then reduce heat to low.
Drain cauliflower and potatoes putting them into a big bowl.
Add cream cheese, milk, butter, salt, and pepper.
The Three Bite Rule - Garlic Meatballs over Faux Mashed Potatoes
Blend until smooth, or until texture of your preference. I leave some lumps.
The Three Bite Rule - Garlic Meatballs over Faux Mashed Potatoes
Top potatoes with meatballs spooning some sauce over the top.
The Three Bite Rule - Garlic Meatballs over Faux Mashed Potatoes
I liked this one a lot. It was a nice change from the usual. I guess it is along the lines of Swedish meatballs just without a creamy base. It was a easy use of already-made meatballs but would work well with chicken or pork medallions or beef.

I always forgot how much more mashed potato it seems like from the potatoes you start with. My faux-mashed potatoes are about half potato half cauliflower.

The Three Bite Rule - Garlic Meatballs over Faux Mashed Potatoes

Cauliflower Mashed potatoes would be great for mashed potato pizza. I also like blue cheese mashed potatoes with some blue cheese dressing for a subtle flavor. I guess I don’t make potatoes all that often. Hmmm.

What I Ate: Curry Carrot Soup

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 literally couldn’t be easier. It was a nice change of pace for a quickie dinner. I came home from a class at the gym and either I want something light to not un-do my workout OR I want something filling and rich.

Ingredients:

4 large carrots with the tops cut off
1 cup veggie stock
1 cup water
1 tsp curry powder

Directions:

In a large pot, cook carrots in stock and water over high heat, for 15 minutes.
The Three Bite Rule - Curry Carrot Soup
When carrots are cooked though and soft, blend until smooth, either with an immersion blender or in a stand blender.
Return to the pot and add the curry and some pepper.
The Three Bite Rule - Curry Carrot Soup
Cook another 5 minutes. Add more water if desired.
Enjoy!

The Three Bite Rule - Curry Carrot Soup
I was a little heavy handed with the pepper. hahaha oops. I thought the curry flavor was so good with the sweet carrot flavor.

It freezes well too. Ready. Set. Soup!

Maple Peanut Butter Granola

I cringe every time I see the price of granola at the grocery store. It’s like $4-something per box, and that box is definitely smaller than the Cheerios! I googled around to see if there were any tricks for granola. Turns out, it is just super easy. Wait till you see the price per serving!

I went with peanut butter, maple syrup, salted sunflower seeds, and oats. I was hesitant to use lots of pricey nuts until I figured out cooking times…next time! I loooove all things peanut butter. I got some maple peanut butter for xmas and it wasn’t my favorite brand on it’s own so I thought I’d amp up the maple-ness with it for granola.
The Three Bite Rule - Maple Peanut Butter Granola

I can’t wait to try some other variations. It was the perfect not-too-sweet granola to top coffee greek yogurt!
The Three Bite Rule - Maple Peanut Butter Granola

Ingredients:

1/2 cup peanut butter
1/2 cup maple syrup
1/2 tsp cinnamon
1/2 tsp vanilla extract
2 cups oatmeal (not quick cooking)
1/2 cup sunflower seeds
1/3 cup brown sugar

Directions:

Preheat oven to 325-degrees.
Over medium low heat in a small pot, melt peanut butter and maple syrup together. Stir occasionally.

The Three Bite Rule - Maple Peanut Butter Granola
In a large bowl, mix oats, cinnamon, brown sugar, and sunflower seeds.
The Three Bite Rule - Maple Peanut Butter Granola
Add the vanilla into the maple peanut butter and remove from the heat.

The Three Bite Rule - Maple Peanut Butter Granola
Mix the peanut butter mixture into the dry mixture with a spatula. Combine well.

The Three Bite Rule - Maple Peanut Butter Granola
Spread onto a baking pan lined with a baking mat or lined with parchment paper.
The Three Bite Rule - Maple Peanut Butter Granola
Bake for 15-20 minutes. I did 15 minutes and let it cool. (It wasn’t the crunchiest it could be so, I’d bake for 20 minutes next time.)

The Three Bite Rule - Maple Peanut Butter Granola
Let cool completely and break into crumbled chunks. Store in an airtight container.

I love this. I didn’t make a huge batch because I needed to see how it went. Next time I might double it or increase it a bit. I do like the idea making small batches different each time to test ‘em out. The peanut butter with cafe latte Greek yogurt was great. I loved it with coconut and vanilla Greek yogurt too.

The Three Bite Rule - Maple Peanut Butter Granola
It’s pretty good for a sweet treat in addition to breakfast. I’d love some chocolate chunks or mini chips and more nuts next time!

cost breakdown: 
2 cups of old fashioned oats = $0.53
1/2 cup sunflower seeds = $0.42
1/2 cup peanut butter = $0.40
1/2 cup maple syrup (I don’t buy the real stuff) = $0.50
total = $1.85 for about 6 servings or $0.30 per serving.

that’s insane. THIRTY CENTS per serving. annnnd you know what’s in it. It could go up a lot depending on what goes into it. But I’d love walnuts or almonds and a 1/2 cup of those is not going to put this close to a $1 per serving. I think I’m likely to end up with more like 8-10 servings since it’s just a sprinkle onto of my yogurt. Case closed. I’m making my own from now on.

Greek-Style Kofta over Salad

I like to vary up my dinner planning for the week. I could eat Mediterranean or Mexican everyday so I try to make sure there’s a mix. I do the same with meals to be blogged. It is much faster to cook without moving food to better lighting and snapping photos or making notes.

Cutthroat Kitchen had to make kebabs and one chef ended up being challenged to make his own skewers with vegetables. His were sad carrots but it did get me thinking kebabs are fun. Any food on a stick is fun! I figured we were long overdue for a meal like this. It felt balanced because of the raw veggies and grilled meat. The feta adds the saltiness and the creamy dressing added some tang. Overall is was fresh, and light but filling.

The Three Bite Rule - Greek Kofta

Ingredients:

1/2 pound ground chicken/pork/veal/lamb/beef
1/2 small white onion, chopped
1/2 tsp cinnamon
1/2 tsp coriander
1/2 tsp dried oregano
1 tsp apple cider vinegar
splash of red wine
3 cups lettuce
1 tomato, chopped
1/2 cucumber, chopped
1/2 cup feta
1/4 cup Creamy Caesar/Greek/Italian dressing

Directions:

Preheat a grill, grill pan, or electric indoor grill to medium-high heat.
If using bamboo skewers: soak in cold water for at least 10 minutes.
Mix ground meat, onion, spices, vinegar, red wine, salt, and pepper.

The Three Bite Rule - Greek Kofta
Form into 4 oblong logs onto skewers.
Brush with oil and grill.

The Three Bite Rule - Greek Kofta
Grill 15-20 minutes, rotating to cook through (cooking time will vary depending on the ground meat. I used ground chicken which cooked longer than beef would).
Toss together lettuce, tomato, cucumbers, and feta.

The Three Bite Rule - Greek Kofta
Drizzle with dressing then top with kebabs.

The Three Bite Rule - Greek Kofta
I loved this. The spices are so welcoming and truly make this dinner feel different. The meat is juicy and so flavorful. I love the warmth of the kebabs against the cool salad. Ahhh. So good.

S’mores Bread Pudding

Bread pudding is so foolproof. It also is the perfect dessert to make as a “small batch”. I made some mini ramekins that were a great single serving. I loved these flavors so I’m glad there wasn’t a big batch to sneak bites from. I also kicked it up a notch by using chocolate chunks. Chocolate chips would be fine but I loooove the big hunks. It is such a special touch to me.

Need a Valentine’s Day treat? Make this. Dinner isn’t necessary. Valentine’s Day is a day for chocolate. Done!

Ingredients:

1 cup heavy cream/light cream/milk
2 eggs
1/2 tsp cinnamon
1 tsp vanilla extract
2 soft sub rolls cut into into cubes (or approx. 6 slices of French bread)
1 cup chocolate chunks
1 cup mini marshmallows
1/2 cup crumbled graham crackers (plus another few tbs for topping)

Direction:

Preheat the oven to 350-degrees.
Whisk together cream, eggs, cinnamon, and vanilla.
The Three Bite Rule - S'mores Bread Pudding
Cut bread into 1″ cubes
Mix the bread into the wet mixture and toss to coat.
Add in marshmallows, chocolate chunks, and crumbled graham crackers and stir.

The Three Bite Rule - S'mores Bread Pudding

Spray ramekins or muffin tins, or a baking dish with non-stick spray and spoon into dishes.

The Three Bite Rule - S'mores Bread Pudding
Top with remaining graham cracker crumbles.
Bake 20 minutes. Broil another minute to brown the top.

The Three Bite Rule - S'mores Bread Pudding
Bread pudding is so adaptable. It lends itself to so many flavor combos. I had s’mores on the brain so I went with it. I’ve made black forest bread pudding a few times and love it. It uses pumpernickel bread (which has cocoa in it = dark color) and dark cherries.

I kind of let mine go a minute too long. Seriously. That decision to broil needs to be carefully watched. I had some “crunchy” parts. It was really good nonetheless. I loved the simplicity of this for a quick dessert.

The Three Bite Rule - S'mores Bread Pudding

suggested adaptations: 
bread pudding base + 1 tsp cocoa powder + strawberry slices + chocolate chips = chocolate dipped strawberry bread pudding
bread pudding base + 1 tsp cocoa powder + mini marshmallows = hot cocoa bread pudding
bread pudding base + banana + butterscotch/cinnamon chips = bananas foster bread pudding

Caprese Stuffed Chicken

Do you stuff foods often enough? I know I don’t. This is super easy with perfect flavors. It was a nod towards spring because of the basil. Caprese stuffed chicken would be great grilled. I baked it but plan to replicate when summer comes.

Baking chicken reminded me how thankful I am for a meat thermometer. It isn’t fancy but it helps me ensure these suckers got cooked through. Grab a meat thermometer. You’ll thank me later. They’re about 3-bucks even at the grocery store. Otherwise you really risk overcooking the chicken and ending up with rubber.

Pounding out the chicken and sprinkling with tomato & basil before topping with mozzarella at the end will give the same flavor without having to stuff them. I really only thought about that once they were in the oven. Though, cutting a pocket into the chicken is wayyy easier than butterflying the breast.

One of my trusty sous chefs head pointed to the ground in hopes of snagging anything that drops…
pb_gran_bailee_590_390

Ingredients:

2 large chicken breasts
1/4 cup Italian dressing
3 tbs olive oil
2-3 tomatoes, roma or campari
~6 basil leaves
4 slices fresh mozzarella

Directions:

Trim any fat or skin from the chicken breasts. Slice them in half, then cut a pocket into each piece.
Marinate the chicken pieces in Italian dressing, olive oil, salt, and pepper for 2+ hours.
The Three Bite Rule - Caprese Chicken
Preheat the oven to 375-degrees.
Cut up the tomatoes and scrape out the insides. Dice the tomatoes discarding the insides & seeds.
Roll the basil leaves together and cut chiffonade.
Stuff tomato chunks and basil into each of the chicken pieces.
The Three Bite Rule - Caprese Chicken
Lay the chicken into a baking dish sprayed with non-stick spray.
Sprinkle with salt & pepper.
Bake 20 minutes. Flip each piece over and bake another 10-15 minutes.
Slice fresh mozzarella into 1/4 or 1/8 inch slices.
Check the internal chicken temperature to ensure it is fully cooked.

The Three Bite Rule - Caprese Chicken
Lay the cheese on top of the chicken and return to the oven just to melt.
Sprinkle with any remaining tomatoes and basil to serve.

The Three Bite Rule - Caprese Chicken
I opted not to butterfly cut the chicken since I was using chicken breast halves. The halves were plenty.

suggested adaptations: 
caprese chicken + balsamic reduction + pre-made bruschetta mix + rolled in breadcrumbs = bruschetta chicken
caprese chicken + caramelized onions/roasted garlic = big time caprese
caprese chicken – stuffing it + pulled chicken + on bread = caprese pulled chicken panini

Kale Mac & Cheese

Mac and cheese becomes healthy if there’s a leafy green ingredient. Right? I love mac & cheese. It is one of my favorite wintry comfort foods. We Are Not Martha posted a great adult-flavored mac & cheese a few weeks ago. I figured mac and cheese was a great use for some of my leftover cheese fondue.

The Three Bite Rule - Kale Mac & Cheese
Some of my favorite mac & cheeses:
Fontina Mac & Cheese with potato chip topping
Bacon Ranch Mac & Cheese because these are the best. flavors. anywhere.
Mexican Mac & Cheese with taco seasoning and taco inspiration
Mac & Cheese Taste-off to try 11 different mac & cheeses while stuffing your guests

Ingredients:

1 cup cheese sauce (or leftover cheese fondue)
1 cup chicken or veggie stock
1/2 cup heavy cream
1 cup shredded cheese (I used swiss)
1 egg yolk
1/2 pound pasta (I used mini rigatoni)
1/4 cup butter, melted
1/2 cup of crackers, crumbled
2 tbs grated parmesan
salt & pepper

Directions:

Preheat oven to 350-degrees.
Boil salted water for the pasta.
In a medium saucepan, warm cheese sauce over medium-low heat.
Add the pasta to the boiling water. Cook until al dente, being careful not to overcook.
Add in the broth and heavy cream, mixing well.
Tear the kale off the center stocks by pulling from the base towards the other end. Then chop the leafy parts, discarding the stocks.
Drain the pasta and mix into the cheese sauce.
The Three Bite Rule - Kale Mac & Cheese
Sprinkle in the kale and mix well.
The Three Bite Rule - Kale Mac & Cheese
Spray a baking dish with nonstick spray.
Mix in the egg yolk and shredded cheese to the pasta mixture and transfer to the baking dish.
The Three Bite Rule - Kale Mac & Cheese
Bake for 10 minutes.
While mac and cheese is baking, mix together melted butter, cracker crumbs, and parmesan.
Sprinkle topping onto the mac and cheese and bake for another 15 minutes.
The Three Bite Rule - Kale Mac & Cheese
Enjoy!

I loooved this. It was a great use of some leftover fondue. It’s been such a cold year and this was exactly what I needed. The kale was earthy against the cheesiness. The egg yolk is a secret ingredient that adds a velvet texture like carbonara.
The Three Bite Rule - Kale Mac & Cheese

What I Ate: Fig and Prosciutto Panini

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 panini was more so a pressed sandwich. I realized I had some fig jam leftover from a fig and prosciutto pizza. I love fig jam on toast or in oatmeal but I wanted to use it another way. I hate specialty ingredients that have a one-time use. It has such a unique flavor and I don’t find it so strong that you can’t eat it all the time. I love it with prosciutto for the sweet/salty combo. This time I thought a panini would be a perfect use for it.

The Three Bite Rule - Fig & Prosciutto Panini

This fig & prosciutto panini is kind of a nod to a monte cristo like the raspberry preserves or a Thanksgiving gobbler with cranberry sauce. Paninis are the perfect week-night meal or cooking-for-one or as a use for leftovers.

Ingredients:

2 ciabatta rolls, or 4 slices of crusty bread
4-6 slices of prosciutto
4-6 slices of fontina cheese
3 tablespoons fig spread
handful of arugula (optional)

Directions:

Assemble the sandwich with a drizzle of olive oil onto the bread, then fig spread on one side. Lay arugula and cheese onto the other side.
The Three Bite Rule - Fig & Prosciutto Panini
Preheat a grill pan or panini press or oven to medium-high heat.
Add arugula on top of the cheese.
The Three Bite Rule - Fig & Prosciutto Panini
Close up the sandwich. Optional: brush with olive oil or butter.
The Three Bite Rule - Fig & Prosciutto Panini
Cook for about 5 minutes, melting the cheese.
The Three Bite Rule - Fig & Prosciutto Panini

Ohh wow. So good. There are no words.
The Three Bite Rule - Fig & Prosciutto Panini
This is so good and I think I could eat it weekly. The prosciutto is super salty but delicate and was great with a mild cheese (that melts well, like fontina). The arugula was leftover this week but I wanted the peppery-ness on here. The fig jam is sweet and sticky with such a great dominance on this sandwich. I seriously think this needs crusty and tough bread…nothing wimpy and soft will do for this.

I want this again. right. now.
The Three Bite Rule - Fig & Prosciutto Panini

suggested adaptations: 
fig & prosciutto panini – arugula + spinach/pickled red onions/roasted red peppers = a twist on the veggies
fig & prosciutto panini – half the bread + assembled on crustini toasts = an appetizer format
fig & prosciutto panini – fig jam + roasted figs/dried figs, sliced = similar flavors with different textures
fig & prosciutto panini + pan fried prosciutto – panini cooking = crispy prosciutto sandwich with fig