January 2015 Recap

Woah. Happy almost-February. Mr. J and I are PARENTS. Woah! Crazy! Our babe is just the cutest. Seriously, he’s cuter than any other baby than I have ever seen. I’m allowed to say that…I think. I was due January 9th and our beautiful boy was born January 16th. It felt like we waited forever at the end and finally he was here. We’re just soaking up every move he makes and trying to get the hang of this parenting thing. We’ve been enjoying some freezer staples and capitalizing on leftovers. January didn’t involve many new ground-breaking recipes but was good practice to work through the freezer and figure out what’s around and what we have time for.
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Now, the food, before I was a week overdue…
One of the fun things I kicked off the month with was a cornbread waffle that I put leftover chili onto. So fun. I’ll definitely do this again.
The Three Bite Rule - Chili over Cornbread Waffles

The sliders are arguably the most fun menu of January. Part of the fun was the spontaneity but what’s better than sliders, frappes, a fire roaring, and watching the ball drop until dozing off on the couch.
The Three Bite Rule - Burger Sliders
I improved Stuffed Shells with my fav freezer ingredient.
The Three Bite Rule - Better Stuffed Shells
I made up my own Sweedish-ish meatballs. I liked how easy it was to add some flavors I don’t have all the time and would mess around with meatballs again.
The Three Bite Rule - Swedish Meatballs
Maybe Mr. J and I will be coordinated enough to whip up something fun for the Superbowl. We’ll see. I have a hankering for potato skins or mini layered Mexican dips, but it is all up to Baby T.  I’m really just in it for the snacks, but being one of the local teams does make it a bit more interesting.

2015 Goals: these pseudo-resolutions will likely be quite loose while Mr. J and I get our footing as parents.
year of the earring: was a little distraction for a good 15 minutes of by past-my-due-date impatience, purchased via Etsy.

il_570xN.452467536_grt1
make more salad dressings: ehh. making/eating salads might be the first step before thinking I’ll make my own dressing right now.
factor more time into how long every-day tasks/trips will take: this will prob be my goal for the rest of my life
recreate restaurant menu items:something funky on a waffle iron came from a restaurant idea!
be more adventurous with my reading selections: I did get back to my book just the other day but I’m not sure I love it. “All the Light We Cannot See”…reccomendations to stick with it?
use the crockpot more: ehh, not yet, but this seems doable for one-handed cooking/nap-time cooking
#seafoodsunday once a month: not really, but I made some shrimp tacos the other night…does it count if I don’t blog it?

Better Than Usual Stuffed Shells

It is officially time for maternity leave. “I’ll be back”. In the meantime, I have a few goodies to share out here in the blog-o-sphere until I come back. Enjoy!

I made stuffed shells before, but this time I made them better. Plus, I was stocking my freezer for newborn-time and planned to make these. They were great and such a freezer friendly food. They’re so much quicker than lasagna and I used one of my favorite secret ingredients.
The Three Bite Rule - Better Stuffed Shells

Ingredients:

1 pound jumbo shells
2 cups marinara sauce
1 egg
16 oz ricotta cheese
1 cup Parmesan cheese
1 pkg frozen creamed spinach
8 oz shredded mozzarella
1/3 cup fresh mozzarella (optional)

Directions:

Boil salted water for the shells. Cook until al dente as they’ll cook more when it bakes.
Mix together the ricotta, creamed spinach, and egg. Then add in the parmesan.
The Three Bite Rule - Better Stuffed Shells
Spread some marinara onto the bottom of a baking dish, first sprayed with non-stick spray.
Scoop some ricotta filling and spoon into each shell. Repeat to fill all the shells.
The Three Bite Rule - Better Stuffed Shells
Overlap as needed, or bake into multiple pans.
Spoon on some more marinara and chopped fresh mozzarella for each layer.
The Three Bite Rule - Better Stuffed Shells
Sprinkle shredded mozzarella onto the top and freeze (or bake to serve now).
The Three Bite Rule - Better Stuffed Shells
Keeps well in the freezer for 4-6 months. Defrost in the refrigerator overnight, then bake at 375-degrees for 45-60 minutes. If baking from frozen, bake about 80 minutes, or until warmed through.

The Three Bite Rule - Better Stuffed Shells
Needless to say, I loved the spinach in here. It would be a good source for whatever veggies you have to add (fresh chopped spinach, artichoke hearts, chopped sauteed zucchini, tomato chunks, etc) or with a meat sauce (or meatballs on the side, with crumbled Italian sausage sprinkled in, etc).

I made 2 dishes of this and reminded myself the baking instructions to eliminate all brainpower needed.

What I Ate: Turkey Kielbasa and Peppers

It is officially time for maternity leave. “I’ll be back”. In the meantime, I have a few goodies to share out here in the blog-o-sphere until I come back. Enjoy!

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 seriously so easy it is ridiculous but it was just what I was after for a really quick dinner plan, conducive to leftovers, and only needing a few ingredients. Rice, turkey kielbasa, red onion, green peppers, ready-made sauce, brown sugar. Poof! Dinner!

You could always get your own sauce in there and throw in other veggies. Whatever floats your boat.

The Three Bite Rule - Kielbasa & Peppers

Ingredients: (serves 3)

1 link turkey kielbasa (or regular, or brats, or chicken sausage, or you get the gist)
1 green bell pepper
1/2 red onion
1/4 cup teriyaki sauce
1/4 cup brown sugar
brown rice

Directions:

Start cooking the rice according to that you’re using. (I used instant brown rice that needed 10 minutes once the water boiled)
Slice the kielbasa, pepper, and onion into chunks.
Heat a large pan and start cooking the onion & kielbasa over medium heat for about 3-5 minutes, until the onion starts to soften.
Add in the brown sugar and teriyaki sauce mixing well.
The Three Bite Rule - Kielbasa & Peppers
Add in the green pepper and cook for 5 minutes to combine well and for the sugar to melt.
Optional: taste and add in a splash of water if it is too strong flavored.
The Three Bite Rule - Kielbasa & Peppers
Reduce heat to low.
Serve over rice and enjoy!

This is so easy but I think the real trick is not to over cook the peppers while not undercooking the onion. The onion needs to soften and the peppers need to still have a crunch…they don’t cook the same amount of time. The kielbasa has good flavor and is fully cooked, so it really is just absorbing flavor and heating through. Mr. J would choose white rice, but with a sticky, tangy, and sweet sauce on it, he’ll accept brown rice.

The Three Bite Rule - Kielbasa & Peppers

A Few of My Favorite Things: Ingredient Edition

It is officially time for maternity leave. “I’ll be back”. In the meantime, I have a few goodies to share out here in the blog-o-sphere until I come back. Enjoy!

I love trying new ingredients and I’m not always brand-loyal but realized I don’t usually specify those that I love so passionately. They’re not paying me to love ‘em or anything (though after I proclaim my love they’re welcome to send the cash-ola my way…seriously, I’ll be your spokesperson).

Krazy Mixed Up Salt:
I hate the spelling, but love the stuff. I throw it in lots of things and look forward to finding it in my Christmas stocking each year. They also make Krazy Pepper which I use on occasion too. It is like Italian Seasoning of the salt world. My blood pressure is wayyy lower than the average so years ago my Cardiologist has had me upping my salt ratio and this is a great flavor mix to do just that. I use it in place of salt on pizza, popcorn, marinades, sauces, garlic bread, etc. Find it in the spice section of the grocery store. You’ll thank me later.

Pastene Kitchen Ready Tomatoes:
Being introduced to these tomatoes was the only good thing to come out of a pizza class I took once. I love the simplicity of the tomato flavor. It now is almost the only tomato product I use. This is my go-to for pizza sauce, on pasta, in chili, and the list goes on. Sometimes I drop in some basil or garlic, but the blank slate & fresh flavor is why I love it. This makes pizza taste way more traditionally Neapolitan since it tastes purely of tomatoes not sugary like some sauces. This contains: tomatoes, tomato puree, salt, & naturally derived citric acid. That’s it. Find it in near canned vegetables & tomato paste.
neopolitan_pizza_ingred_590_390

Better Than Bouillion:
I love this broth base better than bouillion cubes, bouillion powder, and prepared broth. I happily make broth whenever I can, but while cooking for 2, I rarely have enough chicken bones to keep myself stocked with broth. This tastes better than the other forms I’ve had and it is way more convenient. It comes in bases of: chicken; beef; vegetable; clam; mushroom; and a million others. Note: the label has some metal detailing on it so don’t microwave the jar to get the very last bit in it. Ka-pow! Learned that the hard way!
BTB_P-03-chicken-base

Frozen Creamed Spinach:
I use this all. the. time. It is so good as an instant sauce or added to pizza, pasta, baked potatoes, turned into dip…the list goes on. There is a bit of sodium in it, but other than that it isn’t the worst thing to be eating. It has 20% of your daily intake of sodium, in HALF the package. It is always more like 4 servings the way I use it, so there’s nothing to sweat about there. These little packages are great to keep around in the freezer for whenever.
The Three Bite Rule - Potato Bar
Grated Parmesan:
Not the sawdust stuff. That has zero flavor and isn’t worth the calories of ingesting it. I think the difference is the anti-caking stuff added to it. Parmesan is supposed to be salty and crumbly and delicious. I could grate it myself, but sometimes the price is comparable to buy it grated(near the other cheeses, not next to boxed pasta & tomato sauce).

Portland Pie Company Pizza Dough:
Hands down, the best dough out there. My apologies to anyone not in New England but dough is ahhh-mazing. I can’t make it better than they do, so I only buy theirs. It comes in plain, beer, basil, or garlic. I thought the grocery store stopped carrying it but phew! I found it near the deli/prepared foods area, versus near the refrigerated pastas where it used to be. I keep about 3 in my freezer at all times, and it defrosts in the fridge while I’m at work.

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Any brands or items you 100% standby or are go-tos for you?

Slider Burger Toppings

To kickoff the New Year, Mr. J and I came up with a last minute menu of sliders & frappes. Who would have thought January would be the time I’d post some new burger toppings?! It was a freezing night so we cooked the sliders inside and it was so fun.

We both cook but don’t always cook together. Mr. J did the burger cooking and I helped prep the toppings. I was really happy to settle in with a fire, sliders, and yoga pants…especially at the start of 39-weeks preggers at that point. Seriously, I can’t believe that I’m still pregnant…40 weeks + 6 days. Holy Moly. Anyyyytime now little one – come on out!

Just a little googling for inspiration and we came up with toppings for 3 different sliders.

Chicken Burger Slider with Boursin cheese spread and caramelized onions: 
The Three Bite Rule - Burger Sliders
This one was our fancy-ish one. I loved the spreadable cheese on here and it was definitely handy for Mr. J to do the burgers and for me to let the onions caramelize on their own time. I often am rushing them, or get distracted and they crisp too much. The onions were perfectly sweet with the herbed spread.

Chicken Burger Slider with bacon, cheddar cheese, sour cream & chives: 
The Three Bite Rule - Burger Sliders
This one was the all-American one. We cooked the bacon first, then cooked the burgers in the same pan in some bacon fat. Yes. Delicious. The tang of the sour cream was good with the cheddar and smokey bacon.

Italian Slider with Marinara & mozzarella: 
The Three Bite Rule - Burger Sliders
This one had a schmear of marinara on the roll and then the burger was topped with a slice of fresh mozzarella. My basil had wilted but that would have been good too. I liked the all encompassing cheese on here.

Enjoy!

Swedish Meatballs

I’ve been all about the meals that I can whip up a) without tons of work/ingredients and b) that are wintry and comforting. Ahhem: tomato basil tortellini soup: calzone with ready made filling of creamed spinach & meatballs: ham & cheese rolled rosetti: and the list goes on… I’m also pretty obsessed with the Al Fresco chicken meatballs so this dinner of my take on Swedish meatballs perfectly fit the bill. Also, of note, I’m not Swedish and I don’t know that I’ve ever had Swedish meatballs so I’m really just winging it after googling to figure out what they key flavors are.

The Three Bite Rule - Swedish Meatballs

Ingredients:

~4 meatballs per person (I made 3 servings)
1 1/2 cups chicken broth
1 tsp minced garlic
1 tbs dijon mustard
1 tbs cream cheese
1 tsp Worcestershire sauce
1 tsp corn starch & 2 tsp water, incorporated together
1/4 cup water
2 tbs butter
egg noodles

Directions:

Make your own meatballs, or put the frozen (fully cooked) meatballs into a large skillet with the broth and garlic over medium heat. Cook for 5 minutes.
The Three Bite Rule - Swedish Meatballs
Add in mustard, creamed cheese, Worcestershire sauce, and water. Whisk to combine. (It may look a bit chunky and not creamy yet, that’s OK!)
Make a cornstarch slurry or flour & butter roux and whisk in. Keep whisking as you bring the sauce to a low boil.
The Three Bite Rule - Swedish Meatballs
Cook for 5 minutes, then add salt, pepper, and butter after reducing heat to low.
Mix well to ensure the sauce is smooth.
Serve over egg noodles.
Enjoy!
The Three Bite Rule - Swedish Meatballs

I added the water to this for you. Mine was quite salty so I’m reducing the broth and adding some water. Taste as you go and see what you think. I liked this as something different, something easy, and a great use for a ready-made ingredient.

Have I told you lately how I love these meatballs? They’re in my grocery store by the meat/sausages as refrigerated meatballs in smaller packs annnnd they’re in the freezer section for larger re-closeable bags of meatballs. These were caramelized onion meatballs, thus why I didn’t add more onion. You could easily use your own meatballs, beef meatballs, beef broth, etc. Go wild!

What I Ate: Chili over Cheddar Cornbread Waffles

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.

Awhile back I was wanting to make something crazy in the waffle iron. There’s a restaurant I heard about in Syracuse, New York, called Funk ‘n Waffles, that puts all sorts of cra-zy things onto waffle irons. I loved the crispification it sounded like would come from cooking on a waffle iron. I literally had “cook something weird as a waffle” on my ideas of foods to blog. I used a cornbread mix with cheddar as the base topped with chili.
The Three Bite Rule - Chili over Cornbread Waffles

I tried a bacon hashbrown thing that failed miserably. It stuck and never crisped so I ended up tossing it into a frying pan to salvage it. I didn’t end up blogging it because I felt defeated, and tired, and pregnantly-hungry, and I blame my waffle iron. My waffle iron is really some plates that insert into my panini press/griddle. I loooove that they aren’t all separate appliances (since I make waffles mayyybe once a year) but it means that the nooks are pretty shallow…1/3 the depth of a Belgian waffle iron. That’s probably the ticket to more surface area for cooking crazy things. This time I stuck closer to waffle batter and made cheddar cornbread waffles for some nooks the leftover chili could rest it. Such a winner.

Ingredients:

cornbread batter prepared
some extra milk/water to loosen the batter (~1/2 cup)
1 1/2 cups shredded cheddar cheese
2 green onions, chopped (optional)
2 cups chili

Directions:

Prepare cornbread according to the mix or according to the cornmeal, then add the cheese & green onions if using them.
The Three Bite Rule - Chili over Cornbread Waffles
Add in a little extra milk or water to loosen it enough that it drips off the whisk like pancake/waffle batter.
Ladle onto the waffle iron and cook until crisp. (mine takes about 4-6 minutes)
The Three Bite Rule - Chili over Cornbread Waffles
Serve waffles topped with chili and some extra cheese.
The Three Bite Rule - Chili over Cornbread Waffles
Enjoy!

I liked this platform. The chili was leftover and would have seemed like a bit less if we just ate it straight up. I probably had a size-able serving for 1 of chili but with the waffles, this fed two of us for dinner. Bam! Leftover magic! It was great to just have to prep the waffles while defrosting & warming the chili.

If you’re a big waffle person you could definitely prep the waffles and freeze them when batching up leftover chili. Then they’d just go in the toaster or oven when it was time to serve!

It is January, Now What

I’m about ready to pop, this little babe is almost fully cooked. I have a few maternity leave posts prepped while I’m away from the blog, though I have no idea when I’ll be back at it. We’ll see!

I’ve felt really lucky throughout my pregnancy. I honestly was looking forward to seeing what kind of crazy food cravings I’d have but there really weren’t many. I wasn’t interested in certain soft things, like yogurt/avocado/oatmeal/etc that I normally eat all the time. I definitely craved cheetos. The beginning was rough with some sickness, thus, my hiatus. The end has been wearing on me. Ever since I hit 37-weeks, I’ve been excited and not wanting to rush nature, but ready to be onto the next phase. I’m uncomfortable, suffering lots of intense back-pain, and I’m not sleeping well. It definitely could be worse, but everything just seems hard to do. It feels like an aerobic feat to snooze my alarm or to put on socks and it is definitely weird that pregnancy becomes people’s open invitation to comment on my body.

Here’s what I’ve been loving lately:

Tis the season for desserts. I’ve happily been fully stocked with cookies, leftover cakes, a peanut butter cheesecake cookie pizza, slices of yule log, and leftover chocolate fondue turned into instant bark with heath & walnut bits.

These crackers are so good. They’re kind of having an identity crisis of being a pita chip & also trying being the most crisp cracker ever. Plus they cost wayyy less than a regular package of pita chips. They began their life with me as a dipper for spinach and artichoke dip for one Christmas celebration and have lived on nakedly because they’re just so good.
Wheat-Thins-Toasted-Pita

While keeping my caffeine intake in check, I’ve been having warm cider all fall to fool my brain into thinking it’s a warm bevvie like coffee. I didn’t realize it is available in the produce section this long!

Lot’s o’ flavored drinks. I think they’re helping me drink more fluids and distract me from the 1,000 bathroom breaks I make per day. I randomly wanted Diet Cranberry Sierra Mist. I don’t know that I’ve ever had regular Sierra Mist and I don’t love bubbles as much as the average person so this definitely came out of nowhere. Mr. J smartly bought me 2 bottles.
SierraMist_Cran_Diet_12oz

Clementines have been a race against the clock. I love them and can’t have just one at a time. I’m on crate #2 even though the acid is killing me by way of heartburn. I’m officially not a fan of the angry kid commercials whose parents aren’t keeping an adequate supply of clementines for them…what brats. #didIsaythat

Fun Finds online: 
If you love Friends, then you’ll love these best food Friends clips.
If you’ve been a server, then you should read & share this great op-ed piece for restaurant workers.
If you need a crowd-pleaser dip, Mr. J made a twist on this chicken ranch dip for one of the Christmases.
If you agree that we all need hot chocolate until spring, here are some spiced up hot chocolate ideas.

Tomato Basil Tortellini Soup

HAAAPPY New Year! New Year’s Eve isn’t really my thing. I loooved an annual party Mr. J and I could walk to back in our city days, but other festivities never interested me. The holiday seemed like amateur hour where people who don’t normally go out feel like they have to go somewhere. The bars were always overstuffed and there was so much pressure for it to be a perfect night at a bar with a crazy cover charge. I used to make bank babysitting…$100 for a few hours circa 2002. I wonder what the going rate is now?!

I figured soup was appropriate for New Year’s Day for something easy, comforting, and pretty healthy while you hang around, make resolutions, or nurse a hangover.

The Three Bite Rule - Tomato Tortellini Soup

Ingredients:

1-28 oz can of Pastene Kitchen Ready Tomatoes (or chopped San Marzano tomatoes)
1 cup vegetable broth (or chicken broth)
2 tbs chopped garlic
1/2 cup red wine
8-10 basil leaves, chopped
Salt & Pepper
12 oz frozen cheese tortellini
splash of cream or dollop of cream cheese (optional)

Directions:

In a large heavy pot, heat tomatoes over medium low heat.
Add in broth and garlic.
The Three Bite Rule - Tomato Tortellini Soup
Add in basil, salt, and pepper.
The Three Bite Rule - Tomato Tortellini Soup
Next add in the wine and tortellini. Then cover and cook for 5 minutes over a low simmer.
The Three Bite Rule - Tomato Tortellini Soup
Reduce heat to low for another 5 minutes of cook-time.
Then add a splash of cream or 1 tsp creamed cheese, if desired. Add more broth or water to thin the soup, if desired.
Enjoy!
(if prepping ahead of time, don’t put the tortellini in too early or they’ll be mush when you go to eat it)

I like this one for the simplicity. It is so easy and is almost like a very saucy pasta dish. Maybe that’s why I like it. It has such pure tomato and basil flavors with tender tortellini bites. I add the tiniest bit of cream to cut the acidity a bit, but not enough to make it a creamy soup.
The Three Bite Rule - Tomato Tortellini Soup
So, any New Year’s Resolutions out there? I feel like folks love to jump on crazy healthy post-holiday diet/exercise plans. I don’t know that those really stick, but I love Cooking Light’s 12 Healthy Habits. There’s a different one each month and they’re a bit more do-able, like: eat more fruits/veggies; ease up on the salt; get moving; etc. Plus you get a new one each month so there’s no falling off the bandwagon.

I’ve thought of a few goals for 2015: 
year of the: _earring?__  (still TBD, here are some past “year of the ___” & some ideas I’m still tossing around)
make more salad dressings
factor more time into how long every-day tasks/trips will take
recreate restaurant menu items
be more adventurous with my reading selections
use the crockpot more
#seafoodsunday once a month

Here were my goals for 2014: 
year of: having more fresh flowers
send more mail
make Pinterest pins a reality
cook with yeast
try a spin class
make more cocktails