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.

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!!