January 2017 Recap

January was a delightfully busy one in the kitchen! The little one turned 2! I have a 2 year old!?!? I loved all the long weekends/holidays. I had one full week. That is the way to do it! I had a serious flop for a bundt cake and will try again. Many of my weeknight meals have been quick, but I’m loving them. Can we talk about grain bowls again? Love them. I made a falafel one and an Italian one and I have so many more twists…Get. Ready.

Also, Happy new camera to me! Mr. J totally surprised me with a new one for Christmas. I wasn’t expecting it and I’m learning more and more all the time. I’m now using a Canon Rebel SL1.

I baked! Red Velvet Crinkle Cookies
The Three Bite Rule - Red Velvet Crinkle Cookies
I’m bowl obsessed! Italian Grain Bowl
The Three Bite Rule - Italian Grain Bowl
I tried a new way to cook meatballs! Crockpot Meatballs
The Three Bite Rule - Crockpot Meatballs
I went out to a new-to-us French Restaurant, which was awesome! Sis and I capitalized on a weekday outing without the little ones for Shake Shack lunch & seeing the movie Hidden Figures – so good.

The Little One: 
He turned 2! We had a family party with homemade pasta, meatballs, and cake-cake! He is such a happy guy. He is still sleeping like a champ and he continually makes us laugh. Lately he’s been saying his last name, and is suuuper into coloring. When he doesn’t want to, or can’t do something, he says it is somebody else’s “turn”. He is obsessed with avocado, he was into taco night, and loves anything he can dip: salsa for quesadillas, hummus for crackers, maple syrup for waffles, yogurt for cereal….the list goes on.

Monthly goals:
Year of the seasonal decor: I got this love wall decor and made a bow for an indoor wreath.
do more dinner prep more in advance: I have done this a bit, but I could keep it in mind.
read more (and always carry my book on me): I flew through Here’s to Us
cook more fish: ehh. Does a tuna melt count?
focus on clothes that I really like: I ordered a bunch of deals and then returned them. I guess that counts for not keeping clothes I don’t looooove.
monthly grocery store ingredient: I forgot. I’ll get on it.

Coq au Vin

We had a date night to a super delicious French restaurant the other night. I believe duck on a menu cannot be bypassed. I saw coq au vin on the specials and while I didn’t order it, it reminded me to make it. I also wanted to simplify it. It is a traditional and a peasant dish for the French. Any meat cooked until really tender in wine is the perfect comfort for a cool or rainy day.
The Three Bite Rule - Coq Au Vin
I made it in the pressure cooker (in 10 minutes), but it’d be good on the stove if you have a little more time (~40 minutes).

Ingredients:

4 slices of bacon, chopped
4 boneless, skinless, chicken thighs, cut into 6 pieces
3 carrots, pealed & chopped
2 cups pearl onions
1 tablespoon minced garlic
1 cup chicken broth
1 1/2 red wine
1 pint of portabella mushrooms (& tablespoon of butter)
2/3 cup marsala wine or cooking sherry
2 tablespoons butter
2 tablespoons flour

Directions:

Pan fry the bacon in a large skillet or dutch oven until crisp. Then spoon onto a paper towel and leave the bacon drippings in the pan.
Then brown the chicken on each side.
The Three Bite Rule - Coq Au Vin
Then add the chicken, bacon, carrots, onions, garlic, thyme, chicken broth, and wine into a pressure cooker (or crockpot, or into the dutch oven).
The Three Bite Rule - Coq Au Vin
In a pressure cooker, cook on high for 10 minutes.
In a crockpot, cook for 2 hours on high.
In a dutch oven, cover and simmer for 40 minutes.
While the chicken cooks, saute the mushrooms in a little butter to brown.
The Three Bite Rule - Coq Au Vin
Then add in the marsala/sherry to deglaze, scraping off the brown bits at the bottom.
Mash together the 2 tablespoons of butter with the 2 tablespoons of flour & add to the mushrooms. Mix well and cook for about 5 minutes.
The Three Bite Rule - Coq Au Vin
Add the chicken/onion/carrot mixture into the mushrooms and a few spoonfuls of the wine/broth. Cook for 5 minutes over a low simmer.
Serve over mashed potatoes or egg noodles.
The Three Bite Rule - Coq Au Vin
I loved it. The chicken got purple-y from the wine. I don’t know how the pros avoid that, but there was so much flavor in this, I was happy to look past it. My mom makes it with white wine, which is delicious too.

Make this…just don’t use chicken breast. Don’t do it. If you do, you’ll be sad when the chicken is stringy and isn’t juicy. This is also a great use if you have old-ish wine open, or a wine you don’t love. The sauce is delightfully flavored and I liked the mushrooms to thicken the sauce just a tiny bit. Voila!

Make Your Own Taco Seasoning

Doesn’t everyone need more tacos in our lives? I sure do. I’m not at all offended if you skip right over this and continue to buy taco seasoning. I see both sides. The major benefits to making your own is to use however much you want/need at a time- without the constraints of a packet and b) to get the flavor without so much sodium or preservatives.

The Three Bite Rule - Taco Seasoning
In our house, we will make tacos for 2 so we don’t need a whole packet of seasoning. Then I’ll save the rest and use it maybe 2 more times. The 3rd use of the packet might mean not-quite-enough seasoning. I also seem to have quite the stash of dried spices, sooooo I didn’t have to buy any to make this. You decide.

Ingredients: (about 3 servings, roughly 2x a packet)

2 tablespoons chili powder
1 teaspoon garlic powder
1 teaspoon onion powder
1/2 teaspoon oregano
2 teaspoons cumin
1/4 teaspoon crushed red chili flakes (chopped)
1/2 teaspoon salt

Directions:

Measure the spices out.
The Three Bite Rule - Taco Seasoning
Mix it up.
The Three Bite Rule - Taco Seasoning
Taste it and adjust to your preferences. It stores well for 6 months in an air-tight container.
The Three Bite Rule - Taco Seasoning
I go low-spice, which is also why I chop the even small amount of red pepper flakes. You can totally adjust as you like, or triple the recipe and be all set for the year!

Sausage & White Bean Pizza

I made an Alfredo-sauced pizza with sausage and white beans when I was thinking about something wintry and different. I chopped herbs for some peppery-freshness. It was great! What are your thoughts on white pizza? Let’s dish. I’m for it…maybe not every time, but yes, sign me up for something different every now and then.

The Three Bite Rule - Sausage & White Bean Pizza
Ingredients:
pizza dough (I used 3/4 of a refrigerated ball from the grocery store)
1 cup alfredo sauce
1 1/2 cup shredded mozzarella
2 sweet Italian sausage links
3/4 cup white cannellini beans
1 teaspoon Italian seasoning
1 cup arugula, chopped

Directions:
Preheat oven (and pizza stone if using one) to 400-degrees.
Roll out the dough and spread out onto a pizza stone or baking sheet. Poke some holes into the dough using a fork. Then bake for 10 minutes, until lightly browned and starting to crisp.
Remove the sausage from the casing and pan fry the sausage in a skillet over medium heat until cooked through. Then drain from the oil.
Layer the cooked dough with alfredo and cheese.
The Three Bite Rule - Sausage & White Bean Pizza
Then sprinkle with sausage, white beans, and Italian seasoning.
The Three Bite Rule - Sausage & White Bean Pizza
Bake for 10-15 minutes, until crust fully crisps and cheese melts. While pizza cooks, chop the arugula.
Remove from the oven, sprinkle arugula, and let set for 5 minutes before slicing.
The Three Bite Rule - Sausage & White Bean Pizza
Slice and enjoy!
The Three Bite Rule - Sausage & White Bean Pizza
I liked this one for something different. It’d pair nicely with another more traditional pizza if making a few pizzas or flatbreads. I love arugula treated as an herb. It has wayyy more flavor to me than parsley, though if you had oregano kicking around that’d be nice too!

Crockpot Meatballs

My little one is 2 years old! How did that happen so quickly?! For his birthday dinner we made his favorites: pasta, meatballs, and cake! I made meatballs to cook in the sauce which was a first for me. I mixed them, balled ‘em up, and dropped them into the sauce to cook on their own. They were great!!

The Three Bite Rule - Crockpot Meatballs
I normally like the crispy exterior of cooking meatballs, and I thought I might miss that. These turned out very juicy from cooking in the sauce. I was relieved they stayed together and would totally make them this way again. These meatballs being pork meant that there wasn’t excess oil that I’d expect if they were beef.

Ingredients:

1 pound ground pork
3 links Sweet Italian Sausage
1 cup breadcrumbs
2/3 cup milk
2 tablespoons garlic
1/4 cup Parmesan cheese
1 1/2 cup baby Arugula, chopped
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon garlic powder
3 cups tomato sauce

Directions:

Mix together the breadcrumbs and the milk, then add all the ingredients into a bowl.
The Three Bite Rule - Crockpot Meatballs
Using your hands, mix everything together until well incorporated.
Roll into balls about 1.5 inches wide. Add into a crockpot with tomato sauce.
The Three Bite Rule - Crockpot Meatballs
Cook on high for 2.5 hours. Stir occasionally.
Enjoy!

The Three Bite Rule - Crockpot Meatballs
Meatballs are always a hit here. We all liked them and I’m glad to have some leftovers. These could cook on the stovetop too, rather than the crockpot. The size of the crockpot was great for 1 even layer of cooking though.

Italian Grain Bowls

My new fav dinner are these grain bowls! I made Falafel Bowls and was chomping at the bit to make another! I am obsessed with the toppings, how filling they are, and having a bite of this, with a bite of that! Roasted veggies with raw veggies with cheese and meatballs. Yes. Yes. Yes.
The Three Bite Rule - Italian Grain Bowl
My base was cracked wheat, but risotto/rice/orzo would all be good. I topped them with roasted asparagus, chopped tomato, fresh mozzarella, and meatballs with a drizzle of pesto. Seriously, I could eat this weekly. The little guy loved it too!

Ingredients:

1 cup cracked wheat
1 1/2 cup water/broth
1 bunch asparagus or a large zucchini
1/2 teaspoon Italian seasoning
6 meatballs
tomato
fresh mozzarella
2 teaspoons Parmesan
3 tablespoons pesto or marinara

Directions:

Preheat the oven to 375-degrees.
In a medium pot, bring cracked wheat & broth to a boil, then reduce to a simmer and cover. Cook for about 15 minutes. Fluff with a fork.
Trim the asparagus and drizzle with olive oil and a sprinkle of salt, pepper, and Italian seasoning. Roast for about 15 minutes.
The Three Bite Rule - Italian Grain Bowl
Heat the meatballs (mine were frozen turkey meatballs).
Slice the tomato and asparagus.
Assemble the bowls with cracked wheat, tomatoes, mozzarella, meatballs, and asparagus. Sprinkle with parmesan.
The Three Bite Rule - Italian Grain Bowl
Drizzle with pesto and enjoy!
The Three Bite Rule - Italian Grain Bowl
This is suchhh a fast and hands-off dinner. It’d be a great use for leftovers. Add in whatever you like: roasted peppers; olives; zucchini; eggplant; mushrooms; etc. You could swap the pesto for alfredo or marinara.

Stir It Up Holiday Mixology Challenge

We had family was here for New Year’s Eve which seemed the perfect opportunity to whip up some holiday cocktails! Stirrings offered some mixers and rimmers. Cheers! I used Peach Bellini Mix with sparkling wine and then swapped it out with ginger ale to be the mocktail version. I loved this and would totally make these again.

I hope your “resolution” was to spend more time with friends, or treat yo’ self, or eat more brunch, or host more often. This cocktail totally fits into all of these! I think a pitcher would be perfect next time!

Holiday Cocktail Challenge - Bellini
I love Peach Bellinis and I wanted to bring them into the evening…they seem to always be stuck at brunch! I rimmed the glass in lemon drop sugar and featured Peach Bellini mix, a splash of pomegranate juice, and sparking wine. It was so good! I made 2 drinks and this was definitely the winner!

Holiday Cocktail Challenge - Bellini

Ingredients:

lemon drop sugar
2 oz Peach Bellini Mix
1 oz Pomegranate Juice
6-8 oz Sparkling Wine or Champagne

Directions:

Wet the glass with simple syrup or a sliced lemon and then rim it with the lemon drop sugar mix.
Mix together the Peach Bellini Mix and the juice and pour in to the glass.
Top with the sparkling wine.
Enjoy!

I loved the peach and pomegranate together. Both flavors got to shine. I liked the not-super-sweet wine with some bubbles, but go as sweet or dry as you like. There are also a ton of variations on this:
Peach Bellini mix + cranberry juice + sparkling wine
Peach Bellini mix + pomegranate juice + club soda
Peach Bellini mix + peach puree + ginger beer or ginger ale
Peach Bellini mix + Polar’s Pomegranate Dry Soda

Holiday Cocktail Challenge - Bellini
Mixers totally elevate the cocktail from my norm concoction from the liquor cabinet! I didn’t go all out with garnishes but drop a slice of peach or frozen peach in, and maybe a drink umbrella. You deserve it! I have another one I was into, but was a bit too boozy for the others. I’ll share that one another time too!

Follow Stirrings on Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, or Pinterest for fun recipe ideas. Did you MA folks know Stirrings was founded in Nantucket? Find them at liquor stores & grocery stores like: Roche Brothers, Hannaford’s, Kappys, Yankee Spirits, Wines & More, Total Wines & More, Lukes!

Full 3 Bite Rule Disclosure: Stirrings offered me 2 mixers & 2 rimmers to enter a cocktail challenge for a monetary prize. My thoughts, opinions, words, and love for a fun cocktail are entirely my own. Fingers crossed!

Red Velvet Crinkle Cookies

I baked! Hazzzah! One of our family get togethers included Christmas, New Year’s Eve, and a birthday! Mr. J made a pistachio cake but since I didn’t plan any other desserts I decided to sneak a cookie into the schedule. These were such a winner. I was nervous the whole time but they worked! Using cake mix made it so easy.
The Three Bite Rule - Red Velvet Crinkle Cookies

Ingredients:

1 box red velvet cake mix
2 tablespoons flour
2 large eggs
1/2 cup vegetable oil
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1/4 powdered sugar

Directions:

Mix together the cake mix, flour, eggs, oil, and vanilla with a mixer.
The Three Bite Rule - Red Velvet Crinkle Cookies
Preheat the oven to 350-degrees.
Roll the dough into balls and toss in a bowl of the powdered sugar.
The Three Bite Rule - Red Velvet Crinkle Cookies
Place the cookies onto a baking sheet and cook for about 10 minutes. (They won’t look crinkled until they puff and then set.)
The Three Bite Rule - Red Velvet Crinkle Cookies
I loved these! They were super cute, so good, and perfectly cooked. Now I want to try other cake mixes! Lemon seems Easter-y. Funfetti would be festive anytime! I’ll totally make these again. Making red velvet from scratch costs a fortune for how much red dye. Cake mix makes these cookies so easy. Success!

Hashbrown Bake

This weekend was another family holiday get together and the food was endless. I mixed up these hashbrowns so I could prep ‘em in advance, and pop ‘em it into the oven when we got breakfast going. These are ideal before hosting breakfast or brunch! It was perfect to be out of the way while Mr. J whipped up eggs for our party of 5 adults and 3 kiddos.
The Three Bite Rule - Hashbrown Bake
I made one in a 12″ circular pan and another 9×9 for the freezer. A 9×13 would work too!

Ingredients:

1 pound of hashbrowns (defrosted only for a few minutes, able to be broken apart a bit)
1 small white onion, diced
1 can cheese soup
8 oz sour cream
1/2 cup melted butter
1 1/2 cups shredded white cheddar cheese
1 1/2 cups cornflakes

Directions:

Preheat the oven to 375-degrees (if serving immediately).
Saute onions in a little olive oil until translucent and cooked through.
Stir together the soup, sour cream, and 1/4 cup of the butter.
Add in the hashbrowns, cheddar, and onions. Then stir well.
The Three Bite Rule - Hashbrown Bake
Pour into a baking dish sprayed with non-stick spray. Press down a little to make it even.
The Three Bite Rule - Hashbrown Bake

(If not serving right away, cover and refrigerate. To serve, add the topping and bake in the next few days, or cover and freeze.)

If baking and serving right away: melt the other 1/4 cup of butter, and mix in the cornflakes. Stir and spread over the top of the potatoes.
Bake for 40 minutes.
The Three Bite Rule - Hashbrown Bake
I liked this for the cheesy factor and the crunchy topping. I’m glad there’s one stashed away! This 12″ dish was more than enough for the 5 adults. This would be fun in a bunch of individual ramekins for each person.

December 2016 Recap

Happy almost 2017! December went by quickly. I think I did well to enjoy it. November is so busy that I always want to slow down and appreciate the season. I didn’t cook as much as usual, but I made a few fun things. Mr. J’s treat of the month was chocolate dipped potato chips. So fun!

One of my favs this month were these Bacon Ranch Deviled Eggs for a party. I loved them and they were gone so quickly! I’m making them again for this weekend’s family festivities.
The Three Bite Rule - Bacon Ranch Deviled Eggs
I focused on easy & fast dinners last week during a busy time:
Chicken sausage + roasted red peppers + pasta with ricotta as the sauce
The Three Bite Rule - Ricotta Pasta
And falafel bowls over a bed of couscous
The Three Bite Rule - Falafel Bowl

The Little One:
He loved our Christmas trees, lights on lots of houses, and Santa! He loved cookies, and has been really into avocados lately. He doesn’t love foods all cooked together…like chicken pot pie. Christmas was really fun. He definitely understood opening presents. He got so much that we held on to a few things from us to now be birthday gifts in January. His favorites were: the cheapest matchbox firetruck you can ever imagine from visiting Santa; a felt eye mask that came with his super hero cape; a stuffed Elmo; and dinosaurs.

Monthly goals:

Year of the Pajamas! I’m going to stay with the year of the seasonal decor again. I got a few items for Christmas and I’ll go to snowmen/white for January. Bring on the snowmen!
do more dinner prep more in advance: I prepped for sausage stuffing and for Jess’ chicken & brussels sprouts pasta.
read more: I read Maine and Secrets of a Charmed Life
cook more fish: ehh. I’m struggling with this one.
focus on clothes that I really like: I grabbed this peplum top for $15 and loved that it was a bit more cranberry-red than pink. I want more dresses but they’re always hard to find.
monthly grocery store ingredient: a rotisserie chicken was the answer to a what’s-for-dinner.

Now I’m getting ready for family Christmas #2. We’re hosting and are looking forward to ringing in the new year with the fam of 8! I have a cocktail recipe to come & I hope to share this year’s rendition of my NYE tradition. Catch ya in 2017!