Ultimate BLT Panini

There are only so many variations on a BLT that I can share (like this Avocado BLT, or this BLT Burger, or this BLT Scallop Pizza, or this BLT Pasta Salad, or Bacon Jam BLT Pizza) but I panini-ified my BLT and splurged on good ingredients to make it a dinner. I went all out on thickcut, pepper-crusted bacon. Think expensive bacon. I mean, it was dinner, so the pricey stuff was worth it.

The Three Bite Rule - BLT Panini

Ingredients:

thick cut bacon, 3 slices per sandwich
oatmeal or sourdough bread
arugula
tomato
colby jack or sharp cheddar cheese
aoli/mayo (I used this!)/parmesan peppercorn dressing/honey mustard

Directions:

Bake the bacon slices in a 400-degree oven for 20-30 minutes on a cooling rack ontop of a baking sheet.
While the bacon is baking, spread the bread with mayo. Top the bread with the bacon. Load it up, this is a dinner sandwich.
The Three Bite Rule - BLT Panini
Layer the sandwiches with arugula, and tomato.
The Three Bite Rule - BLT Panini
Top with cheese and 2nd slice of bread. Preheat the panini press, a grill pan, or a griddle.
The Three Bite Rule - BLT Panini
Brush the bread/griddle/press with olive oil and grill the sandwiches until crisp and melted.
The Three Bite Rule - BLT Panini
I liked this one a lot. I think the arugula and the peppery bacon were great touches to elevate this to a more special sandwich.  The greens need to be one that can stand getting warmed, like arugula or spinach. Regular lettuces would just get wilty. I liked this sandwich grilled. Toasty bread is my favorite and those grill lines are the best but melting the cheese and warming everything through took it from a toasted sandwich to a panini.

Do you ever bake your bacon? It keeps it flat, you don’t have spatters of bacon grease, and you don’t have to flip & babysit it. I don’t always bake it, but it is such a great method. Anytime I’m going to chop the bacon I do that before cooking it and then I can push it around the pan and just scoop with a slotted spoon instead of trying to keep it from curling up and cooking unevenly.

Loaded Potato Skins with Extra Seasoning

Woah! A real recipe! I know, I know, contain yourself. I’m back at it…sort of.

For the Superbowl I was wanting to make something that would be do-able with Baby T dictating my schedule. I thought of potato skins and thought they’d be good since they’re sort of football shaped, and I could do most of the prep earlier and just pop them in the oven when it was game-time. I added one not-so-secret ingredient to kick them up a touch and it was great!

Mr. J loooves his sports snacks and I’m really only into the Superbowl for the snacks (and commercials – my fav was the Budweiser Clydesdales and the puppy…I was in tears). We had a spread of these, veggies with ranch, guac & queso with tortilla chips. Perfection!

The Three Bite Rule - Potato Skins

Ingredients:

6 potatoes, baked
4 tbs butter
1 tbs French Onion Soup Mix
6 strips of bacon
1 1/2 cups shredded cheddar

Directions:

Half then hollow out the potatoes leaving some potato around the skin.
Melt the butter. Mix the butter and soup mix together.
The Three Bite Rule - Potato Skins
Preheat the oven to 375-degrees.
Cook the bacon until crisp and drain the excess grease. Chop into small pieces.
Brush the butter/seasoning mix over the potato halves on a baking sheet.
The Three Bite Rule - Potato Skins
Sprinkle with shredded cheese and top with bacon.
The Three Bite Rule - Potato Skins
Bake at 375-degrees for 10 minutes or until the cheese is melted and the potato crisps.
The Three Bite Rule - Potato Skins
Enjoy!

I baked the potatoes earlier in the day. I always forget how long they take to bake. I could have gotten them started in the micro to speed it up. I saved the innards thinking it’d become mashed potatoes for a side dish or lunch. Being home everyday and feeding myself lunch has been interesting…these potato skin leftovers became lunch a few times!

I liked the additional seasoning and think it’d be easy enough to use a spice rub or any seasoning mix you have around. I didn’t salt/pepper them since the seasoning had plenty of salt. Next time I’d be sure to brush it on more evenly…some had more flavor than others. I know pre-packed soup mix isn’t the healthiest but I’m considering making (and blogging) something with a newborn to be a win. #winning

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)

Apple, Bacon & Manchego Quesadilla

Happy almost Halloween! I don’t have a spooky-themed dinner, but this would be easy to whip up before taking little ones trick or treating, or would be quick to throw together between handing out Reeces. I get about 3 trick or treaters but I make sure to have good candy or the ones I get will never come back! And, just like hosting a party, you should serve what you’re happy to have leftover for yourself.

I tell ya. The apples are never ending. These past few weeks I’ve been trying to add them anywhere that made sense. Here they got to provide the crunch and were perfect with the melty cheese. This dinner is quick and easy. It would be great as a panini too.
The Three Bite Rule - Apple, Bacon & Manchego Quesadilla

Ingredients: (for 2 quesadillas)

3 slices of bacon
4 flour tortillas
1 large apple, sliced
6 oz manchego cheese

Directions:

Pan fry the bacon until crisp, then drain and chop.
Heat a griddle or large pan to medium and spray with non-stick spray.
Lay the tortilla and top with sliced cheese.
The Three Bite Rule - Apple, Bacon & Manchego Quesadilla
Add sliced apple, and chopped bacon.
The Three Bite Rule - Apple, Bacon & Manchego Quesadilla
Top with the 2nd tortillas, lightly spray with non-stick spray and flip once. (this helps it to brown evenly)

Serve with some honey mustard for dipping!
The Three Bite Rule - Apple, Bacon & Manchego Quesadilla
The cheese was more of a splurge but for this very few ingredient dinner, it was worth it. Mixing manchego with cheddar might have enabled these to be cheesier.

Suggested Adaptations: 
Apple, Bacon & Manchego Quesadilla – Manchego + cheddar/brie/gouda/cheese of your choosing
Apple, Bacon & Manchego Quesadilla – apple + pear/roasted sweet potato/other fruit or veggie of your choosing
Apple, Bacon & Manchego Quesadilla – bacon + proscuitto/ham/turkey/other protein of your choosing
Apple, Bacon & Manchego Quesadilla – bacon = vegetarian option

The Three Bite Rule - Apple, Bacon & Manchego Quesadilla

Chicken Ranchero Pizza

A family favorite from our town “house of pizza” is the Chicken Ranchero. It is almost hard to order anything else from there. After 2.5 years of eating this favorite pizza, I decided to recreate it at home.

The Three Bite Rule - Chicken Ranchero Pizza
Ingredients:
pizza dough
2 chicken breasts or chicken thighs
3 tbs ranch dressing mix
4 strips of bacon
3 tbs ranch dressing
6 oz shredded mozzarella

Directions:
Preheat the oven and a pizza stone, if using one, to 400-degrees.
Pan fry the chicken until cooked through, then remove from the pan and shred. Return to the pan and reduce heat to low. Add ranch dressing mix and a drip of water.
The Three Bite Rule - Chicken Ranchero Pizza
Roll out the pizza dough until 1/4 inch thick. Spread it onto the pizza stone or baking sheet. Poke a few holes with a fork.
Bake for 5 minutes until lightly cooked.
The Three Bite Rule - Chicken Ranchero Pizza
While the dough is cooking, chop each bacon slice into 1/4 inch strips and pan fry until crisp, but until 75% cooked (it crisps more in the oven.
Top the pizza dough with ranch dressing, then cheese, then add the chicken.
The Three Bite Rule - Chicken Ranchero Pizza
Top with bacon, then another sprinkle of ranch mix is optional, lastly a last sprinkle of cheese.
The Three Bite Rule - Chicken Ranchero Pizza
Bake 10 minutes until crust is crisp and cheese melts.
The Three Bite Rule - Chicken Ranchero Pizza
This was a great one. Bacon on any pizza is a winner, but this has some great tried and true flavors that are beautifully uncomplicated. I’m glad I didn’t junk it all up trying to add too many things to it.

I used chicken thighs mostly because it was what I could find in the house, but I think it was a good choice because it didn’t get too dried out. Rotisserie chicken would also stay moist and would speed up the cooking time.

The Three Bite Rule - Chicken Ranchero Pizza

BLT Burger

This burger became something more special than I thought it was going to be. It’s nice how dinners can still surprise me.

The Three Bite Rule - BLT Burger

Ingredients:

1/4 pound ground beef/chicken/turkey
2-3 tbs sundried tomato pesto
2 tbs minced garlic
2 slices of bacon per burger
sliced cheddar
sliced tomato
lettuce
brioche rolls

Directions:

Mix together the ground meat, sundried tomato pesto, garlic, salt & pepper. (I had ground chicken, Mr. J had ground beef)
The Three Bite Rule - BLT Burger
Form into patties and grill until cooked to your liking.
Meanwhile, pan fry the bacon until crisp.
Optional: mix up some garlic aoli with mayo, garlic powder, minced garlic, salt & pepper
Assemble the burgers with sliced cheddar, bacon, tomato & lettuce.
The Three Bite Rule - BLT Burger
I loved this one! The sundried tomato pesto MADE this burger. It wouldn’t have been as delicious without it. I had in the fridge and can’t remember what I had used it for. The expiration date said it was good-to-go so in it went!
The Three Bite Rule - BLT Burger

Suggested adaptations: 

BLT Burger – burger patty + chicken breast marinated with tomato pesto = chicken BLT
BLT Burger + chopped bacon into the burger + tomato pesto as a spread on the roll = tweak on the BLT burger

Chicken Bacon Ranch Pasta

Today is a weird day. Our heartstrings are tight here today for the 118th Boston Marathon. Last year’s events don’t feel that long ago. I still can’t believe it and Boston is so small that it all felt like my back yard. The event production in me cringes that these terrible events forever change this race. The foodie in me feels badly that there were several restaurants nearby with servers and bartenders who are still dealing with it. Every time I listen to the first hand accounts I cannot keep the tears back.  I can’t believe how many people have suffered hearing disabilities. There are so many who are still recovering, and I feel sorry for those who will not recover.

I’m thankful to have today off, for the first time ever. Mom and I are letting the pups run in the yard, whipping up something fun for lunch, and we’re casually watching the marathon. It seems right to settle in, enjoy the little things, and be together. In honor of the Boston Marathon, I figured on this day I should post pasta. It seems marathon-y. Not that this pasta is appropriate pre-marathon but it is a treat. It is true comfort to share today.

The Three Bite Rule - Chicken Bacon Ranch Pasta

Ingredients:

2 slices bacon, chopped
2 chicken breasts, chopped and marinated in Italian dressing
3 tbs ranch dressing mix
3/4 pound of spaghetti or fettuccine
2 tsp butter
2 tsp flour
1 1/2 cup milk
2 cups arugula, diced

Directions:

Pan fry bacon until crisp. Remove and drain the bacon leaving the bacon grease in the pan.
The Three Bite Rule - Chicken Bacon Ranch Pasta
Add chicken to the bacon pan, and cook through stirring occasionally.
The Three Bite Rule - Chicken Bacon Ranch Pasta
Add in a tsp of ranch mix to the chicken.
Bring salted water to a boil for the pasta.
In a large saucepan over medium heat, melt the butter. Add in the flour and combine to a paste. Cook for 2-3 more minutes, then whisk in the milk.
Add the rest of the ranch mix, reserving 1 tsp separately. Reduce the heat to medium low.
The Three Bite Rule - Chicken Bacon Ranch Pasta
Cook the pasta until al dente.
Add the pasta to the chicken skillet, with the sauce (if large enough) over medium heat.
Add in the chicken, bacon, arugula, and remaining ranch mix, tossing well to combine. Cook for 2-5 more minutes until the sauce reduces a bit.
The Three Bite Rule - Chicken Bacon Ranch Pasta

This was so good. I loved this. The flavors were strong. I liked the peppery arugula and just enough bacon but lots of bacon flavor with the chicken. The ranch is really undeniable. It was so good. This is so good with strong elements so I was glad I didn’t muck it up with too many flavors…like cheese.

suggested adaptations:
premade sauce + a grocery store roasted chicken = an easier chicken bacon ranch pasta
chicken bacon ranch pasta – arugula + spinach + chopped tomato – half the ranch mix = lighter flavored chicken bacon ranch pasta

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.