November Recap

Holy. Moly. November is over. HOW did that happen. I can’t get over it. October and November are the craziest months at work and I feel like I blinked and the turkey has passed. I’m now 34 weeks preggers…out of 40. Wowza. The last 4-ish months have flown by. I haven’t been cooking quite as much but I have a few favorites from November in case you missed them. This month the blog turned 4 years old!

Butternut Squash & Apple Soup came out great. It was a nice comforting fall meal without being heavy.
The Three Bite Rule - Butternut Squash & Apple Soup
I cooked so much with apples in October & November. I added some apples to refrigerated cinnamon rolls. This was such a great way to amp up a ready-made item. Barely any cooking for an instant treat.
Apple Cinnamon Rolls - The Three Bite Rule
One dish meals are so great to keep in your back pocket, especially at this time of year. I used some prepared sundried-tomato pesto for a chicken pasta dinner to take this simple pasta dish to something more special and a flavor we don’t have all the time.
The Three Bite Rule - Sundried Tomato Pasta with Chicken

Let’s check on my goals:
The Year of the Flower continues! Mr. J got me some yellow ones that have lasted for.ev.er.
send more mail – ehh. I missed this one.
make some Pinterest pins a reality - Not so much, though the baby-room decor ideas are multiplying on a private board.
cook with yeast (yikes!)
try a spin class – um nope. I’m not adding in any super new exercises at this point. I have just been working and relaxing. That’s it.
make more cocktails – umm no cocktails for me until January ;) I had an idea that I didn’t quite get to. Maybe December.

Bump update:
Mr. J has gotten all the room stuff done. All of it! He also was working like crazy to build a shed and clear out lots of room in the garage. We now can get to both sides of both car for future carseat loading and there’s room to dance park a stroller. The room is super cute. Here’s a sneak peek, and there should be a full reveal later. We picked daycare, a pediatrician, and took a birthing class. The babe is now as big as a honeydew!

I’ve had crazy heartburn that comes and goes and I’ve slept ok. I blame some of my restlessness is the biggest work event of the year. Who knows. I feel so full so quickly that I’m not really even craving anything right now. I miss wine though. Next month I’ll probably address the freezer contents and see what I want to prep. Any suggestions?

December will be crazy but I’m excited. I love the holidays but just didn’t want to be rushed though my work event for Thanksgiving. I see peppermint, and cockpot meals, and hot chocolate in my future for December!

Meatball Panini

This week you may need a non-Thanksgiving-y meal and this is a great one to also not contribute to your leftovers.

The Three Bite Rule - Meatball Panini
Ingredients: (for 2 sandwiches)
6-8 meatballs
2 tbs pesto
1 cup arugula, chopped
4 slices of provolone cheese
4 slices of wheat bread

Directions:
Cook or reheat the meatballs and slice.
Spread one side of each sandwich with pesto. Then layer on half the cheese and arugula.
The Three Bite Rule - Meatball Panini
Add on the meatballs. Then top with remaining cheese.
Preheat a panini press, a grill pan, or a large skillet to medium-high heat.
Top the other slice of bread with marinara.
The Three Bite Rule - Meatball Panini
Grill each panini (flip if using a skillet) until crisp on both sides.
Slice & enjoy!
The Three Bite Rule - Meatball Panini
I loved this one. I found some new chicken meatballs that were soooo good. They were such a find. I actually might whip up a bunch of these and freeze them to live in the freezer until I need an insta-dinner.

What I Ate: Apple Cinnamon Rolls

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 “made” these with pears at the pear-picking-party during the pear cook-off and then of course I’m still using the huge supply of apples we picked. It is a great tweak on a pre-made breakfast option. I love it. Also, work is so nuts right now that I can’t even think beyond about 4 ingredients. I’ll re-surface after Thanksgiving. Is it Black Friday yet?

The Three Bite Rule - Apple Cinnamon Rolls

Ingredients: (makes as many rolls as come in the package)

Refrigerated cinnamon rolls with frosting
2 apples chopped
2 tbs brown sugar

Directions:

Preheat the oven to 350-degrees.
Add the chopped apples to a flat pan with brown sugar over medium heat.
Cook 5 minutes until softened, but not mushy.
The Three Bite Rule - Apple Cinnamon Rolls
Pop open the cinnamon roll can and place into a sprayed baking dish.
The Three Bite Rule - Apple Cinnamon Rolls
Spoon the cooked apple over the top.
Using a knife, press some apple chunks into the cinnamon roll layers.
The Three Bite Rule - Apple Cinnamon Rolls
Bake 20 minutes (or according to your cinnamon roll package).
The Three Bite Rule - Apple Cinnamon Rolls
Spread the frosting over the top. (Tip: dab it out of the package then spread when it starts to melt a bit)
Apple Cinnamon Rolls - The Three Bite Rule
Yum. These are fantastic. The apple flavor is so good with the cinnamon in the roll. The frosting is really non-negotiable. Trust me. Don’t skip it. They’re gooey and soft with apple for texture and sticky sweet frosting.
The Three Bite Rule - Apple Cinnamon Rolls
You could always make your own cinnamon rolls, but aren’t you too hungry for that in the morning? I know I am! Cook the apples in advance and you’ll be on your way even faster.

Make it for Thanksgiving with some dried cranberries getting rehydrated with some cider or orange juice with the apples & brown sugar. Or cook up berries and use that instead of apples!

Greek Chicken Pizza

This was one of those oops moments and times that I had to channel my inner Tim Gunn…make it work! I really meant this to be a calzone. Earlier this month we were celebrating sis’s bday with a calzone dinner and this one just could become a calzone. I was having dough challenges and as I started to get frustrated but had to remind myself sometimes it just doesn’t go how you want, but as long as it is still edible, then it can still be a success.

The Three Bite Rule - Greek Chicken Pizza
The challenge was that I was trying to rush the defrosting of the dough. Some things you just can’t rush. That’s kind of my soap-box lesson of the day. I was getting a hole-y dough with frozen lumps that just wasn’t working out. I plopped it onto the pizza stone hoping it would “cook” enough to keep the shape so I could fill it then fold the crust over. No dice. Where it plopped it stayed and pizza it became.

Ingredients:

1 large zucchini
2 tbs fresh oregano
3 cups chopped baby spinach
1-2 tomatoes, chopped
1/2 cup feta
1 (or 1/2) ball of pizza dough
2 small chicken breasts, or 3-4 chicken tenders marinated in Italian dressing.

Directions:

Preheat the oven and pizza stone (if using one) to 400-degrees.
Chop the zucchini and sauté for about 5 minutes over medium heat, until cooked through, before getting squishy. Then add in the fresh oregano at the end.
The Three Bite Rule - Greek Chicken Pizza
Add in the tomatoes, feta, and spinach.
The Three Bite Rule - Greek Chicken Pizza
Cook for another 3 minutes.
Spread out the pizza dough onto the pan and bake for about 5 minutes. Cook just enough to go from doughy to lightly crisped.
Cook or grill the chicken until cooked through. Then slice into chunks when cooled.
Top with marinara, then mozzarella, then with the veggies and chicken.
The Three Bite Rule - Greek Chicken Pizza
Bake for 10-15 minutes until the crust crisps and the cheese melts.

This was a good pizza. It wasn’t drastically different than some of my others but these are fresh, veggie-centric flavors I love. I really wanted it to be a calzone, but I’m also thinking the “filling”/toppings would be good with pasta or in a pita.
The Three Bite Rule - Greek Chicken Pizza

Sundried Tomato Pasta with Chicken

Let’s talk about this one-pot wonder. I hadn’t marinated the chicken and was afraid it wouldn’t have enough flavor. News flash: it was flavorful and juicy and the pre-made sundried tomato pesto kicked the sauce onto a whole other level.

The Three Bite Rule - Sundried Tomato Pasta with Chicken
I don’t blog pasta too often because it is more of a go-to for an unplanned meal for me but this was so good as were the leftovers! The chicken was the perfect reminder that even without any advance prep, dinner can be ready really easily.

Ingredients: (makes 5-6 servings)

6 chicken tenders
2 tbs Italian seasoning
1 1/2 cup tomato sauce
1/2 cup sundried tomato pesto
1 tbs chopped garlic
3/4 cup water
1/2 cup half and half
1/2 box pasta
salt & pepper

Directions:

Season the chicken tenders.
In a large pan, cook the chicken over medium heat for ~10 minutes with a drizzle of olive oil. Flipping regularly to cook through.
The Three Bite Rule - Sundried Tomato Pasta with Chicken
Remove the chicken from the pan, and slice the chicken into small pieces.
Add the tomato sauce, sundried tomato pesto, garlic
The Three Bite Rule - Sundried Tomato Pasta with Chicken
Mix well, add in the water, cream, and the pasta.
The Three Bite Rule - Sundried Tomato Pasta with Chicken
Cover and cook for 10 minutes.
Stir and add the chicken back in.
Cook another 3-5 minutes (or until the pasta is cooked to your liking).

The Three Bite Rule - Sundried Tomato Pasta with Chicken
I liked the tweak on regular tomato pasta for this. The sundried tomato pasta is a fun condiment to have on hand and is easier than chopping sundried tomato pieces. It was toned down a bit with the tomato sauce. It was so good and would be good without the chicken.

Happy Blogaversary

The Three Bite Rule is four years old! F-O-U-R. Cra-zy. Monthly I pretty much don’t know where time has gone.

There were a lot of trips this year: NYC, Cape Cod, NH, Quebec, Prague, & Paris. I changed jobs and am really happy. I was so thankful to have entered into a really great work environment and to not have to go on all the work trips anymore. I love that I get to be around food and conversations about food all the time. Mr. J has done tons to the house this year. I’m now almost 8 months pregnant so year five is definitely going to be different than year four.

The pups are ohh so happy too (just kidding, they’re happy being separate they don’t normally cuddle together).
pups_590_390

Let’s celebrate some superlatives:
My favorite post:
Parisian Burger
The Three Bite Rule - Parisian Burger

Most Pinned Post:
Easy Sesame Noodles
The Three Bite Rule - Sesame Noodles

Most viewed post:
Almond Joy Parfait
The Three Bite Rule - Almond Joy Smoothie
Best Easy Recipe:
Fig Preserve & Prosciutto Panini
The Three Bite Rule - Fig & Prosciutto Panini
So, what are the goals for year 5? I think your guess is as good as mine. I just don’t even know what the next year will look like. I don’t want to be somebody who doesn’t try to do things. I also don’t want to set myself up to not be able to reach any realistic goals. I think I just can’t decide right now what will be ahead. I’m assuming there will be a a baby-hiatus and fewer posts per week.

My goals for the year were something I could think about each month:
The Year of the Flower
make some Pinterest pins a reality
cook with yeast
try a spin class
make more cocktails

I don’t know what next year will be the year of. The year of the flower was one of the best ones I’ve done yet. I might have to go back to the year of the earring. Who knows. Maybe I should transform the grocery store impulse buys into a recipe.

follow me on instagram @emilyran  & catch up on the 3rd, the 2nd, and the 1st blogaversaries.

Breakfast Panini

Breakfast sandwiches are one of my favorite things to eat. Offer me anything and a breakfast sandwich and I’ll always go for the bfast sand. This time I made it as a panini and it was so good. I like to think the panini made it more dinner-ish but that might just be me. Bfast for dinner is so fast and I only used one pan and the panini press to whip all this up!

The Three Bite Rule - Breakfast Panini

Ingredients: (makes 2 paninis)

4 slices of bacon
3 eggs
6 slices of cheddar
1 tomato, sliced
4 slices sourdough bread

Directions:

Chop the bacon and pan fry until crisp. Drain out the grease, spray with nonstick spray.
Whisk the eggs, season with salt & pepper, then pour into the bacon pan.
Cook through and flip once making one flat egg disk.
The Three Bite Rule - Breakfast Panini
Preheat the panini press, grill pan, or a griddle.
Assemble the sandwich with the bread, half the cheese, and tomato slices.
The Three Bite Rule - Breakfast Panini
Then add egg, bacon, and the remaining cheese.
The Three Bite Rule - Breakfast Panini
Brush with olive oil and grill the sandwiches.
The Three Bite Rule - Breakfast Panini
Serve with potatoes or fruit! I went with sweet potato tots…my fav.

The Three Bite Rule - Breakfast Panini
My local bagel joint makes their sandwiches with egg cooked like this…more like an omelet than a fried egg. Cheese on either side of the bread holds everything together, and the egg stays together more than scrambled would. My other favorite breakfast sandwich spot chops the bacon instead of leaving long strips which is genius. You get some in every bite!

Suggested adaptations: 
bfast panini + cheese with the egg = omelette panini
bfast panini – bacon + ham/sausage/or meatless
bfast panini – bacon + ham + sautéed onions = western panini
bfast panini – bread + english muffin (still panini pressed)

Butternut Squash & Apple Soup

I was thinking about what convenience items are worth the spurge. I especially was thinking about it while trying to get the knife through some butternut squashes. Those suckers are definitely tough to cut so it can be your call if you want to save some dollars and halve the squash yourself, orrrr if you want to pay to get it all skinned and chopped. I cut through them but didn’t peal before roasting. It was super easy to scoop it out once they were cooked.

The Three Bite Rule - Butternut Squash & Apple Soup

Ingredients: (makes ~4-6 servings)

2 small butternut squash
2 large apples, pealed & chopped
1/2 yellow onion, chopped
2 tbs butter
1 1/2 cups veggie stock
3 tbs half and half

Directions:

Preheat the oven to 400-degrees.
Cut the squash in half and roast for 45-60 minutes.
The Three Bite Rule - Butternut Squash & Apple Soup
In a large pot, heat to medium high heat and add in the apples and onion with butter. Cook for 10 minutes until the onions are translucent and the apples are soft. The butter will get all bubbly and brown.
The Three Bite Rule - Butternut Squash & Apple Soup
Scoop out the squash seeds and spoon the squash pulp into the pot with the apples and onion.
The Three Bite Rule - Butternut Squash & Apple Soup
Add in the stock and cook for 5 minutes or so.
Transfer into a blender or blend with an immersion blender then return to the pot.
Season with salt and pepper. Add more stock if it is too thick for your liking.
Add in the cream and stir well.

I loved this. It was so good with a touch of sweetness from the apple and I toasted some sourdough for dunking. I froze the rest and will be so glad to pull it out of the freezer some day when I’m not into making dinner. I know, the apples just keep appearing…that’ll be over soon.

The Three Bite Rule - Butternut Squash & Apple Soup
Bailee oversaw the whole operation. She likes to know what is happening in the kitchen if there’s food around and she wanted to say hi.
IMG_4592