Pasta Carbonara

I love pasta but try to limit it to quickie dinners or really good mac & cheese…otherwise I might want it nightly. I figured it was time to make some legit pasta. Carbonara is an easy one to whip up needing only eggs, cream, and bacon. Ohh, and lots of Parmesan. Don’t forget the Parmesan.

It is delightfully creamy but has a lightness to it. There are so few ingredients which is also awesome.

The Three Bite Rule - Pasta Carbonara

I used refrigerated pasta that makes a great impression for this dinner. I always can tell the difference but really, I don’t discriminate. Fresh obviously costs a bit more but when pricing out this dinner, you’ll see it was so cheap it didn’t really matter.

Ingredients:

9 oz package fresh fettucchini
4 slices of thick cut bacon
1/4 cup white onion, chopped finely
4 cloves of fresh garlic, minced
3 eggs
1/4 cup half and half (increase if making a pound of pasta)
1/4 cup grated Parmesan
1 tsp garlic powder
salt & pepper

Directions:

Bring plenty of salted water to a boil.
In a medium flat pan, fry the bacon until crisp. Then remove and drain on paper towels.
Leave 1 tsp of bacon fat in the pan to fry the onion. Add garlic after 2 minutes.
The Three Bite Rule - Pasta Carbonara
Add eggs, cream, Parmesan, garlic powder, and a sprinkle of salt & pepper to a large bowl.
The Three Bite Rule - Pasta Carbonara
Boil the pasta according to the directions (fresh pasta = about 3 minutes; dried pasta = about 12 minutes)
The Three Bite Rule - Pasta Carbonara
Whisk together the sauce mixture.
The Three Bite Rule - Pasta Carbonara
Put a bowl underneath a colander, or ladle out a few cups of the starchy water.
Drain the pasta shaking it well, but do not run water over it. Then start tossing with the creamy egg mixture.
Spoon in the onions, garlic, and bacon.
The Three Bite Rule - Pasta Carbonara
Toss well and let sit for 5 minutes to absorb the sauce. If it is too thick, spoon in a little of the reserved starchy water.

I like the simplicity of this dish. The fresh pasta is a huuuuge addition in this dish. The creamy sauce is light, the bacon is crisp, the Parmesan is salty. It is such a perfect combination. I love pasta carbonara and it doesn’t have to just be reserved for restaurants.
The Three Bite Rule - Pasta Carbonara
I didn’t add peas, because I don’t like ‘em. I had some flatleaf parsley for freshness but I forgot it. This is the perfect reminder that some of the best meals are really very easy. I really loved this in any way it sat before me.

Cost: 
fresh pasta: $3.29 (mine was 9oz, not a pound)
4 slices of bacon: approx. $2.66
3 eggs: approx. $0.70
half & half: $0.50
Parmesan: $0.80
total cost = $7.95 for 3 servings or just $2.63 per person

What I Ate: Bacon & Pear Flatbread

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 pizza-ish flatbread was inspired by a spur-of-the-moment trip to Sky to share some flatbreads. This is proof that pizza isn’t rocket science and you can make it yourself easily. I know dough can be a pain for some people so I’ve been making sure some of my pizzas use an alternative base. These were really quick and I rarely use other cheeses but the cheddar was a fun flavor for this one.

I used pita pocket-y things. They’re puffier than Mediterranean pitas and are a great quick pizza option. They are easier than dough annnnnd it is perfectly portion controlled.
The Three Bite Rule - Bacon & Pear Flatbread

Ingredients:

2 flatbread pita pockets
1 pear
2 slices of bacon
1 cup cheddar, shredded

Directions:

Preheat the oven to 400-degrees.
Pan fry the bacon until crisp.
Top the pitas with cheese, chopped pear, and bacon.
The Three Bite Rule - Bacon & Pear Flatbread

Bake 10-15 minutes, until cheese melts and pita gets gently toasted.
Top with chopped green onions.
The Three Bite Rule - Bacon & Pear Flatbread
These were great. They are how to make dinner quickly…like 30-minutes quick. The cheddar with the pear, with the bacon is so great.

Some of my other pizza-dough alternatives are:
French Bread Pizza
Bubble Up BBQ Pizza
Bruschetta Pizza on Naan

Potato Soup with Loaded Potato Toppings

New England is in that in-between winter and spring time so I have (at least) one more truly wintery meals…don’t hold me to it. The warm days remind me that spring is coming and the cold days give one last chance to wear a favorite sweater one more time, or to make one more hearty meal. I wanted to do a potato soup and figured I’d mix it up with the “loaded” potato ingredients being toppings. This soup relies on some pureed potato to thicken it. I also thought some sweet potato in there would be fun.

The Three Bite Rule - Potato Soup with Loaded Toppings

Ingredients:

1 yellow onion, diced fine
4 potatoes, pealed and cooked
1 sweet potato, pealed and cooked
1 tsp garlic, minced
1 1/2 cup chicken or veggie stock
1/2 cup half & half or cream
1/2 cup white wine (optional)
4 slices of bacon
2 green onions
1/2 cup cheddar cheese, shredded
1/2 tsp dried thyme
1/2 tsp garlic powder
salt & pepper

Directions:

Boil or bake the potatoes until cooked through.
In a heavy pot or dutch oven, cook the onions for about 5 minutes in a little olive oil over medium heat. Cook the onions until translucent and soft.
The Three Bite Rule - Potato Soup with Loaded Toppings
Add the chicken/veggie stock. Be sure so scrape the bottom to mix throughly.
Add in the cream and wine, reducing the heat to medium low.
When the potatoes are fully cooked, chop them into bite-sized chunks. Add half the potato & half the sweet potato into the pot.
Add garlic and cook for another 5 minutes.
Meanwhile, fry the bacon until crisp in a flat pan. Add a teaspoon of the bacon drippings into the soup pot, discarding the rest.
Chop the green onions and grate the cheddar.
Carefully ladle most of the soup into a blender and blend until smooth. Or, use an immersion blender.
The Three Bite Rule - Potato Soup with Loaded Toppings
Return to the pot, adding the rest of the potatoes & sweet potatoes.
Add in garlic powder, thyme, salt, and pepper.
Cook for another 5 minutes or so. Add more broth if it is too thick.
The Three Bite Rule - Potato Soup with Loaded Toppings
Top with shredded cheddar, green onions, and bacon!
The Three Bite Rule - Potato Soup with Loaded Toppings

This was really good. Toppings make everything more exciting to have the cheese, bacon, and onions for toppings instead of cooked within the soup. I didn’t blend it all the way but I loved it thickened with the potato, rather than a ton more cream, butter, or anything else. By blending it then adding in more chunks on purpose, you get the best of both worlds!

I don’t make soup all the time but this seemed so appropriate on a Sunday night with a pretzel roll to dunk.

Superbowl Snacks: Chicken Bacon Ranch Spring Rolls

These are the PERFECT appetizer. There’s crunch! There’s bacon! There’s freshness in the greens! There’s warmth with cool ranch! Soooo good! Chicken Bacon Ranch Spring Rolls are not “spring rolls” in any traditional sense, but are such a fun treat that I’m sure everyone would like. They’d be easy to prep and cook partially and then warm in the oven when the big game starts.

The Three Bite Rule - Chicken Bacon Ranch Spring Rolls

Ingredients:

2 cups shredded cooked chicken
1 oz dry ranch mix (1 packet)
2 cups arugula
4 green onions
3 slices of bacon
1 1/2 cups shredded cheddar
Wonton wrappers

Directions:

Preheat oven to 400-degrees.
In a large pan, fry the bacon until crisp, then remove to paper towels to drain. Leave the bacon drippings in the pan over low heat.
Warm the chicken in the bacon dripping pan.
Add in 3/4 of the dry ranch mix to the chicken, mix well, and then remove from the heat.
The Three Bite Rule - Chicken Bacon Ranch Spring Rolls
Chop the arugula, green onions, and bacon.
The Three Bite Rule - Chicken Bacon Ranch Spring Rolls
Mix in the chicken once it has cooled a bit also adding the cheese to the arugula and bacon. (if the mixture is too hot, the cheese will melt and get all stringy)
The Three Bite Rule - Chicken Bacon Ranch Spring Rolls
Sprinkle in the rest of the dry ranch mix, then stir well.
Lay out the wonton wrappers. Spoon about 3-4 tablespoons of filling onto the wrappers, across the middle at an angle.
The Three Bite Rule - Chicken Bacon Ranch Spring Rolls
Roll them up, folding the bottom point up across the filling. Fold the sides in towards the middle. Roll towards the far point, tucking the edges in as you roll away from you.
The Three Bite Rule - Chicken Bacon Ranch Spring Rolls
Lay the rolls on a sheet pan with the point facing the pan. Spray, drizzle, or brush with olive oil.
The Three Bite Rule - Chicken Bacon Ranch Spring Rolls
Then bake for 10 minutes.
Flip over and bake another 10 minutes to ensure all sides get crisped. Pan frying in oil is an alternative.
The Three Bite Rule - Chicken Bacon Ranch Spring Rolls
Serve with ranch dip or dressing.
The Three Bite Rule - Chicken Bacon Ranch Spring Rolls
I used some of a roasted chicken for this, which really made this app really easy to whip together. I grabbed a deli roasted chicken and used half for a chicken pot pie. Then I took the rest of the chicken off the bone and froze it, to bring it to life for this! I used the bones to make broth for the chicken pot pie with some leftover too.  For this spring rolls I used all the filling and most of the wonton wrappers I had. I figured any we didn’t eat could easily freeze or reheat in the oven.

This uses a surprisingly small amount of bacon so I warmed the chicken in the bacon drippings for some more bacon flavor and to get some moisture into the chicken. The chicken was already cooked but I wanted to warm it to better incorporate the ranch flavor.

suggested adaptations: 
Chicken Bacon Ranch Spring Rolls – wontons + croissant dough or puff pastry = Chicken Bacon Ranch Rolls with less crunch but more doughiness
Chicken Bacon Ranch Spring Rolls – ranch + smokey dry rub + BBQ Sauce for dipping = Chicken Bacon BBQ Spring Rolls
Chicken Bacon Ranch Spring Rolls – arugula + spinach/cabbage/sprouts = Chicken Bacon Ranch Spring Rolls with more mild fresh flavor

Quiche Lorraine

Let’s chat about breakfast. I loooove weekend brunch but it seems like all quick breakfast items are sweet (yogurt, oatmeal, cereal, muffins), or really doughy (bagels, muffins, toast). I’d be happy with a bagel regularly (#everythingbagelchivecreamcheese), if it were at all nutritionally balanced. My January self-imposed cooking challenge would be savory breakfast.

The Three Bite Rule - Quiche Lorraine

Quiche is super easy to make and I can eat from it for awhile. I figured whipping this up on a weekend would carry me through the week. I dare say I could throw this together in the morning while jumping in the shower when it bakes. It also wouldn’t be crazy to make at night.

It makes a good lunch or dinner item too. This week and last week were busy with work events at night and it is great to come home to a light bite.

Ingredients:

pie dough, defrosted
3 slices of bacon
3 eggs
2 egg yolks
1 cup light cream
1 tsp dijon mustard
1/4 tsp cream of tartar
salt & pepper
10 oz swiss cheese, shredded

Directions:

Preheat oven to 350-degrees.
Fry the bacon until crisp then drain on paper towel and chop.
Whisk together the eggs, egg yolks, cream, mustard, cream of tartar, salt, and pepper.
The Three Bite Rule - Quiche Lorraine
Spray a tart pan, or springform pan, or pie pan with nonstick spray.
Lay the pie dough into the pan pinching together any cracks.
The Three Bite Rule - Quiche Lorraine
Sprinkle in the cheese and bacon onto the crust.
The Three Bite Rule - Quiche Lorraine
Pour in egg mixture.
The Three Bite Rule - Quiche Lorraine
Bake 30-40 minutes at 350-degrees.
Let cool 5-minutes before slicing.
The Three Bite Rule - Quiche Lorraine
It puffs up a little but sets solidly. I really love how simple it is. The bacon flavor and swiss are perfect together. I appreciate the flavors and the subtly of the bacon with the swiss with the mustard. Yum. I used a surprisingly small amount of bacon. It was a good practice of restraint not adding tons of bacon, and just enough to taste it. I think frozen crust rolled up seems significantly better than the pie crust that comes in a tin.

The Three Bite Rule - Quiche Lorraine
I last made quiche a few years ago with a bacon, spinach, and mushroom quiche. Think quiche isn’t your thing? I made Tomato Ricotta Pie that is along the same lines. I like the lightness of quiche and need to make it more often. It doesn’t take any longer than other breakfasts because of the advance prep, I just needed an idea.

Quiche makes for some variety since a usual breakfast for me is yogurt, a smoothie, or an English muffin.

suggested adaptations: 
quiche lorraine + spinach/arugula + tomatoes/onions/mushrooms – bacon = vegetarian quiche
quiche lorraine + smaller pan = deep-dish quiche

Hmmm. I wonder what my next “year of the self-imposed-cooking challenge” should be.

Warm Bacon Vinaigrette Dressing

In an attempt to throw together an easier dinner, I let this salad get out of control. I just kept adding and adding and adding ingredients.

The salad started with some basics, then I kept adding things to heft it up. That’s when I added a hard boiled egg. Then I figured white beans would be good. I had some carrots that just needed to be roasted.  Then some bread from the freezer became cheesy garlic bread. There was a lot happening on this salad.
The Three Bite Rule - Warm Bacon Vinaigrette
The dressing was a bit underwhelming. I loved the bacon flavor added to the salad. I don’t know if I’d make it again.

Ingredients:

2 slices of bacon
3 tbs red wine vinegar
3 tbs olive oil

Directions:

Fry the bacon until crisp. Cut into small pieces.
The Three Bite Rule - Warm Bacon Vinaigrette
Drain most of the fat and discard.
In the same pan, over low heat, whisk in the vinegar and olive oil.
The Three Bite Rule - Warm Bacon Vinaigrette

Cook for about 2 minutes, and remove from the heat.
The Three Bite Rule - Warm Bacon Vinaigrette

Add in the bacon pieces and pour over salad.
The Three Bite Rule - Warm Bacon Vinaigrette
The salad was good. It was just a lot going on. Between roasting the carrots, toasting up some garlic bread, boiling the egg, and then chopping all the ingredients. I need salad for dinner more often. Maybe I should have skipped the egg and tomato, just to simplify it.

Do you make dressing? Any tips for me?

Recreating French White Bean Cassoulet at Home

Let’s start with the best thing: THE SOX WON THE WORLD SERIES. So happy. I’m glad they did it in 6, instead of 7 because I wanted Halloween to just be Halloween. I thought there also would be lots ‘o parents trying to decide what to do if the Sox needed one more to win it. It’s a good time to be in Boston.

In completely unrelated news, sometimes the best tasting dishes are not the most photogenic. After indulging and falling in love with cassoulet in Paris I knew I had to make it at home, but it isn’t the prettiest food I have ever made. I loved it in Paris and couldn’t even come close to finishing it.
The Three Bite Rule - Paris Dinner Like a Local

I made it myself and skipped the duck but used white beans, bacon, and sausage serving it with some bread for dunking. The beans are really filling and it can almost be done in one pot!

Ingredients:

28 oz can white beans
1 1/2 cup vegetable broth
4 strips of bacon
3-4 chicken sausage links, cut in half.
1 tsp thyme
1 tsp tomato paste
1 -2 cups water (depending on how much broth you want)

Directions:

Drain  and lightly rinse the beans, adding them to a heavy pot with veggie broth over medium-low heat. Cook for 10 minutes.
The Three Bite Rule - White Bean Cassoulet
Pan fry the bacon until cooked through and crisp.
Add sausage links, bacon, and thyme to the large pot.
The Three Bite Rule - White Bean Cassoulet
Cook for 10 minutes and then finally add tomato paste. Add some water and cooking for another 10 minutes.
The Three Bite Rule - White Bean Cassoulet
Serve with some French bread for dunking.
The Three Bite Rule - White Bean Cassoulet
I love this. Cassoulet is maybe my new favorite comfort food! It’s super salty so I didn’t add any additional salt. I think the broth, tomato paste, and beans provide plenty of salt. I added the tomato paste and thyme so salt and pork wouldn’t be the only flavors.

The chicken sausage I used is already cooked so it just had to heat, but using a raw pork product would need to cook through completely.

Next week is PUMPKIN WEEK here on The Three Bite Rule. Have a happy weekend and see ya on Monday for some pumpkin favorites, after the Red Sox victory parade, of course!!

Loaded Potato Pizza

I’m redoing an old post for you. This potato pizza is so good and deserved a face lift from some old tiny pictures I took a few years ago. The potato slices are really thin and cook quickly.

Potatoes, cheese, bacon, and some buttery garlic spread is EXACTLY what you need tonight for dinner.
potato_pizza_plate_590_390

This pizza is so good. The simplicity is just spot on. Use any pizza dough you like for this easy pizza.

Ingredients:

pizza dough
2 tbs butter
2 tsp garlic, minced
2 medium potatoes
8 oz shredded cheddar
2 slices of bacon
chives or green onions

Directions:

Preheat oven to 400 degrees (also preheat pizza stone if using one)
Spread dough onto a pizza stone or pan poking a few holes with a fork.
Bake for 10 minutes until somewhat cooked.
potato_pizza_dough_590_390
While dough precooks, cook butter and garlic over low heat until melted and warmed through. Slice potatoes into thin slices using a mandolin or a sharp knife.
Remove crust from the oven and spread garlic butter over the top.
potato_pizza_sauce_590_390
Spread cheese onto pizza dough and gently lay potato slices slightly overlapping.
potato_pizza_toppings_590_390
Continue laying slices in circles around the pizza.
potato_pizza_topped_590_390
Top with salt & pepper.
Return to the oven for another 10 minutes (turn down to 350 if the potato slices aren’t cooking enough.
While the pizza cooks, pan fry the bacon and top the pizza with the bacon and chives.
potato_pizza_baked_590_390
Slice & serve!

We drizzled some ranch if you want a bit more moisture. My crust got a bit dark while the potato cooked. I should have turned it down a bit to 350 or 375 degrees.

potato_pizza_plate_590_390

Bacon & Cheese Panini with Peach Compote

This panini was soo good. I mean, seriously, how can you go wrong with bacon, cheese, and something sweet? It was a really quick dinner but now that I think about it, this would be a good brunchy kind of dish because of the bacon.

The Three Bite Rule - Bacon & Peach Compote Panini

The peach compote has a sweet juicy flavor with a tiny zip to it…it isn’t spicy by any means. It could totally handle some jalepenos if you wanted spice. The peaches cook down considerably so even with just 2 peaches, there wasn’t much left over after making 2 sandwiches. It would be good on a cheese plate or on a crostini too.

Ingredients:

2 white peaches (or nectarines), diced
1 small onion, diced
2 tbs brown sugar
sprinkle of red pepper flakes
6 slices of bacon
4 slices of bread (I used seedless rye)
4 slices of gouda cheese (or fontina)
(optional: tomato, arugula, mustard)

Directions:

Add peaches, onions,and 3 tbs of water to a small pot over medium heat.
The Three Bite Rule - Bacon & Peach Compote Panini
Pan fry bacon until crisp.
Stir peaches and add red pepper flakes and brown sugar. It will be soft and will have reduced a bit. The onions & peaches will have broken down by now.
Peach compote cooks for about 10 minutes, but can be kept warm while everything else gets prepped.
The Three Bite Rule - Bacon & Peach Compote Panini
Assemble sandwiches with cheese, bacon, and spread peach compote onto one side of the bread.
The Three Bite Rule - Bacon & Peach Compote Panini
Pan fry or press sandwiches until cheese melts and bread crisps. (keep warm in the oven if making them in batches).
The Three Bite Rule - Bacon & Peach Compote Panini

I loved this. I kept it simple so there wouldn’t be too many competing flavors but I usually think “the more the merrier” when it comes to a sandwich. I would like some tomato slices or greens in this. Ham, prosciutto, or pancetta would all be good substitutions for the bacon. It would be great as a regular sandwich without toasting it, or having it on ciabatta.

Paninis are such simple dinners. The peach compote would hold up a few days in the fridge if making it in advance. I think this turned my sandwich into something special. I would be a grilled cheese with bacon if I hadn’t added it in there. Peach compote would be a good use if any of your peaches or nectarines get a bit squishy.

Want more panini ideas? This Italian Grilled Cheese is a super easy dinner. This Turkey, Cranberry, & Brie Panini is great if you’re inching towards fall. Top-your-own Chicken & Biscuits is a fun dinner sandwich too.

Scallop BLT Pizza

I made this scallop BLT pizza because I love just about anything on pizza. I mean, have you seen all the pizza toppings I’ve fallen in love with? This combo of scallops, bacon, and alfredo provides the luscious and decadent part while the tomatoes and arugula balance it out with freshness. We had a great scallop pizza last year in Maine for our anniversary.
scallop_blt_topped_590_390

I love topping pizzas with raw greens (like this Greek one, or this BLT one, or Big Mac pizza, or this prosciutto fontina arugula one) but if that’s not your thing either spinach or arugula would be great chopped up and cooked on the pizza.

Ingredients:

pizza dough
2 slices of bacon
3-4 sea scallops
1 tbs butter
1 tbs olive oil
3 tbs flour/wheat flour
salt & pepper
1 cup light alfredo sauce
1 tomato, sliced into chunks
8 oz shredded mozzarella
2 cups arugula (or spinach)

Directions:

Preheat the oven (and pizza stone if using one) to 400 degrees.
Pan fry the bacon until crisp. Remove from heat to drain and chop up.
Rinse scallops and remove the connective tissue on each one, if there is any. Pat dry.
scallop_blt_scallops_590_390
Mix flour, salt, and pepper in a small bowl.
Spread pizza dough onto the pizza stone or pan and bake for 5-10 minutes. The point is to get it pre cooking so when the pizza is topped, it doesn’t have to cook much longer.
Heat a heavy skillet to medium and add butter & oil.
Toss the scallops in the four mix and pan sear each one for about 2-3 minutes on each side, flipping once (they’ll go into the oven again too so don’t overcook).
scallop_blt_scalfry_590_390
When the pizza dough is pre-cooked a bit, remove from the oven. Reduce temperature to 300 degrees. Top the crust with alfredo sauce, cheese, bacon, and tomato.
scallop_blt_cheese_590_390
Cut scallops in half horizontally, or into quarter chunks if you prefer.
Add cut scallops to the pizza, with the seared side facing up.
Return to the oven for 5 minutes or until cheese is melted.
scallop_blt_done_590_390
Toss arugula with a very little drizzle of olive oil and add onto of the pizza.
scallop_blt_plate_590_390
Slice & enjoy!

I added a little sprinkle of Parmesan and chives before the arugula, mostly because I had some. I liked everything that was going on for this pizza. It was reminiscent of bacon wrapped scallops.
scallop_blt_topped_590_390

This is seriously a cheap way to serve scallops. I bought 3 scallops for 2 of us. I did slice them in half but there were lots of pieces to spread over the pizza! Bay scallops aren’t the same but maybe I should branch out for meals like this. I also only used 2 slices of bacon. It seems like plenty when spread around. I would always like more, but this amount is the smart choice. I pre-portion bacon and freeze it. Otherwise a pound can disappear verrrry quickly.