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!

Root Beer Barbecue Sauce

I made this root beer barbecue sauce and made it very heavy on the root beer. Seriously root-beer-y. I think it jazzed up a weeknight, and definitely woke up these pork chops.
The Three Bite Rule - Root Beer BBQ Sauce

Ingredients:

1 yellow onion, finely diced
2 tablespoons minced garlic
1 1/2 cup ketchup
2 teaspoons dijon mustard
1/4 cup molasses
1/2 cup brown sugar
1 tablespoon liquid smoke
1 teaspoon Worcestershire sauce
2 tablespoons cider vinegar
salt & pepper
2 cups root beer, and 1/2 cup reserved

Directions:

In a heavy pot, saute onion in a little olive oil over medium heat. Cook for about 5-minutes, until softened and translucent.
The Three Bite Rule - Root Beer BBQ Sauce
Add in garlic, ketchup, mustard, molasses, mustard, brown sugar, liquid smoke, Worcestershire sauce, and vinegar.
The Three Bite Rule - Root Beer BBQ Sauce
Add in pepper, salt, and root beer. Stir well and simmer for 45 minutes.
The Three Bite Rule - Root Beer BBQ Sauce
Add in the last of the root beer and remove from the heat.
Allow to cool, and enjoy!

I loved this! I think it had the root beer flavor, especially the sauce that we added after the cooking. We served it with our fav raw broccoli salad with raisins. I’m not so into cream soda, but I can see that being a hit in this too with a few tweaks.

The Three Bite Rule - Root Beer BBQ Sauce

Sundried Tomato Pesto Sauce for Pork Chops

I head to the grocery store with my meal plans in mind. “Plans” might sound intense, but one of those could include a sandwich or something easy though one of my last trips still had a hole needing another meal. I saw these nifty packages in the meat department of pork cutlets with capers, sundried tomatoes, and some sort of finishing sauce. I almost grabbed it and then I cheap-ed out. The price definitely included the convenience so I decided I could replicate on my own, for wayyy cheaper.
The Three Bite Rule - Sundried Tomato Sauce for Pork

I grabbed some thin-cut boneless pork chops and remembered a jar of sundried tomato pesto in the fridge. I skipped the capers. Couscous cooks in 5 minutes + some salad. Yay for dinner!

Ingredients:

4-6 boneless thin cut pork chops
1 cup flour
1 tablespoons garlic powder
salt & pepper
1/2 cup chicken broth
2 tablespoons of sundried tomato pesto, or diced sundried tomatoes
2 tablespoons minced garlic
1/4 cup red wine
2 tablespoons fresh oregano (optional)

Directions:

Preheat a large skillet to medium heat with a few generous glugs of olive oil…about 1/4 cup.
Season the flour with garlic powder, salt, and pepper then dredge the pork into the flour and add to the pan.
Cook about 4 minutes before flipping to cook another 4 minutes. Remove from the heat and finish searing all the pork.
The Three Bite Rule - Sundried Tomato Sauce for Pork
Drain the oil and discard.
Deglaze with the chicken broth scraping the brown bits off the bottom of the pan then add in the garlic, sundried tomato pesto, salt, pepper, and a glug or two of red wine, and chopped oregano. Cook for two minutes on medium heat.
The Three Bite Rule - Sundried Tomato Sauce for Pork
Then add the pork back into the pan. Flip each one to cover in sauce. Reduce heat and cook for 5 minutes.
Then add the pork back into the pan.
Serve over couscous, rice, beans, pasta, or however you choose. Enjoy!
The Three Bite Rule - Sundried Tomato Sauce for Pork

I liked jazzing up some ready-made sauce to make it a bit more interesting. I don’t use sundried tomatoes all the time so it was nice to have flavors we don’t eat weekly. The sauce is a little bit oily but tasty. The pork cooks quickly and using the same pan is totally the savior for this!

While I was searing the pork, our new & nifty Nest smoke alarms were notifying us on our phones that there was smoke accumulating. I hadn’t noticed my phone but Mr. J was able to quiet it from his phone, while tub-side with the little one. Phew! The last thing we needed during the bewitching hours was Mr. J having to get T out of the tub all soapy, while dinner burned, while I got the dogs to ease their panic. I guess these things are worth it!

Arugula Salad with Grilled Shrimp & Chimichurri Sauce

I love the idea of a raw sauce to top meat and fish. Mine was grilled shrimp and Mr. J had steak tips. The arugula salad had avocado, cucumbers, and tomatoes. I’ll have to keep the idea of chimichurri around the next time I have handfuls of fresh herbs leftover from something!

The Three Bite Rule - Grilled Shrimp w/ Chimichurri Sauce

Ingredients:

1 cup flat parsley
1/2 cup cilantro
1/4 cup red wine vinegar
1 tsp garlic, minced
pinch crushed red pepper
1/2 tsp cumin
1/2 olive oil
shrimp/steak
2 cups arugula
1 cup mixed greens
1 avocado
1 tomato, chopped
1/2 cucumber, chopped

Directions:

Preheat the grill.
In a blender or food processor, combine the parsley, cilantro, red wine vinegar, crushed red pepper, cumin, salt, pepper, and stream in the olive oil. Taste and add in more oil/vinegar as needed. Keep at room temperature until ready to serve.
The Three Bite Rule - Grilled Shrimp w/ Chimichurri Sauce
Grill the steak/shrimp.
Toss together the arugula, avocado, tomato, and cucumber.
The Three Bite Rule - Grilled Shrimp w/ Chimichurri Sauce
Toss with some salad dressing. Add the grilled steak/shrimp and spoon some chimichurri sauce over the top.
The Three Bite Rule - Grilled Shrimp w/ Chimichurri Sauce
I liked the fresh-herby flavor of the chimichurri. I found it a strong so I made sure there was some on each shrimp, but I wasn’t trying to dress the salad with it. I used some creamy caesar dressing for the salad. I thought a more fatty-peppery dressing was good to contrast the chimichurri sauce.

Mexican BLT with Taco Spiced Mayo

The cutest & tastiest taco joint just opened near my work. The owners are so lovely and the tacos are getting RAVE reviews. I’ve had shrimp tacos, chicken tamales, and a pork torta. All have been fantastic…I dream of the torta. I saw their special for a Mexican-inspired BLT and totally copied the idea. Theirs also had an egg and avocado, which would be great, but I was on a mission for a fast dinner. Thanks Chilicates!

Mexican BLTs for 2

Ingredients:

bread or rolls
2 tbs mayonnaise
1 tsp taco seasoning
~4 tbs refried beans
3-4 slices of bacon, halved
1 large tomato
butter lettuce or greens

Directions:

Preheat the oven to 400-degrees.
Bake the bacon on a sheet pan, with a (non-stick sprayed) wire rack on top of it. Bake 15 minutes, or until crispy.
While bacon is cooking, slice tomatoes, lettuce, and toast the bread. Then mix together mayo with taco seasoning.
Spread one slice of toast with refried beans and other side with Mexican mayo.
The Three Bite Rule - Mexican BLTs
Assemble the BLTs.
The Three Bite Rule - Mexican BLTs
Enjoy!

I loved the slight tweak on this BLT. Do you bake your bacon? It makes cooking it sooo much easier, plus it cooks totally flat! The bacon grease is well contained and you don’t even have to flip it. This is definitely my preferred method. I love not needing to babysit the bacon.

The Three Bite Rule - Mexican BLTs

Green Goddess Dressing

I don’t know why Green Goddess may have been a thing of the 70s. I made it with some leftover herbs and it was such a hit. The secret ingredient is totally what separates good homemade dressing from the ehhh-home-made dressing. The next time you buy some herbs for something, plan to whip up some Green Goddess dressing. Diversify your veggie tray for a gathering or make dip for 2, like I did!

The Three Bite Rule - Green Goddess Dressing

Ingredients:

1/4 cup mayonnaise
1/4 cup sour cream
1/4 cup parsley
1/4 cup chives
3 tbs tarragon
1 tsp chopped garlic
1 tsp lemon juice
1 tsp anchovy paste
salt & pepper

Directions:

Blend everything together.
The Three Bite Rule - Green Goddess DressingServe or chill then enjoy!

The anchovy paste is such a secret ingredient. Seriously. Everyone loves my mom’s Caesar dressing and that is absolutely what makes these dressings taste better but it is a flavor you just can’t quite put your finger on. I wasn’t feeling the salad so I served this as a dip alongside dinner. It was so much more fun than salad!

The Three Bite Rule - Green Goddess Dressing
Happy Holidays! I’ll be back after Christmas with a perfect use for some leftovers. I can’t wait for our 2nd family Christmas and then Christmas morning at home. I’m still working on the menu for Christmas day. Enjoy!

Apple Cider Salad Dressing

I’ve been thinking about what this month’s salad dressing would be and I wanted to make a vinaigrette with apple cider. I looked online and saw that everyone uses apple cider vinegar, but I didn’t find one with apple cider. Could it be?

My salad was full of fall flavor: butter lettuce; cucumbers; dried cranberries; feta; pumpkin spiced pumpkin seeds and the dressing had a sweetness from the cider and a little tang from the cider vinegar.

The Three Bite Rule - Apple Cider Salad Dressing

Ingredients:

1/8 cup olive oil
3 tbs apple cider vinegar
2 tsp dijon mustard
1/8-1/4 cup apple cider

Directions:

Put oil, vinegar, mustard, salt, and pepper into a jar.
The Three Bite Rule - Apple Cider Salad Dressing
Add in the apple cider.
The Three Bite Rule - Apple Cider Salad Dressing
Shake shake shake.
Enjoy!

The Three Bite Rule - Apple Cider Salad Dressing
I meant to use some pecorino or shaved parmesan but I forgot to grab some at the store. I seem to always have feta around so in it went for some saltiness. The pumpkin seeds are crunchy and the dried cranberries are tart and chewy.
The Three Bite Rule - Apple Cider Salad Dressing

Spinach Salad with Strawberries and Poppyseed Dressing

This is so good and feels festive despite the fact that the salad has 2 ingredients. one (spinach). two (strawberries). Well, that’s two more colors than a box ‘o mac & cheese has. Dinner time isn’t all rainbows and unicorns here. This fell on a night that I had the chance to whip up the dressing while the little dude napped for a few moments. When it was time to eat this adorable salad…that was during the betwitching hours and is a whole different picture than this restaurant-worthy salad. I was being stubborn and convinced I could do it all. Make this salad. You’ll feel like $1000 bucks.

The Three Bite Rule - Strawberry & Spinach Salad with Poppy Seed Dressing

Poppyseed Dressing Ingredients:

adapted from The Kitchn
1/2 shallot
4 tbs white vinegar
4 tbs sugar
1 tbs poppy seeds
1/2 tsp dijon mustard
1 tsp mayo
splash lemon juice
1/4 cup olive oil
sprinkle of salt

Directions:

Grate the shallot with the smallest grater on a box grater, or blend in a food processor, or dice really finely.
Add the vinegar & sugar to the jar and shake.
Mix everything else together in a jar. Shake shake shake.
The Three Bite Rule - Strawberry & Spinach Salad with Poppy Seed Dressing
Enjoy!

The Three Bite Rule - Strawberry & Spinach Salad with Poppy Seed Dressing

The dressing was great. A touch sweet and a touch tart. The poppy seeds are cute. I think it is a great one to make a small amount and have it in the rotation. It would be good on a pasta salad too!

Not enough in your salad? Feta cheese would be good. Some nuts seem right.

Lobster Cakes

I made some lobster cakes as a play on a crab cake. They were so good and though I plopped mine onto a salad, they would be great as an appetizer too!

The Three Bite Rule - Lobster Cakes

Ingredients:

1 cup lobster meat, chopped
2 tbs mayo
1 tbs grainy mustard
1 tsp minced garlic
4 chive sprigs minced
1 green onion, chopped
1/2 cup panko breadcrumbs
1/2 cup seasoned breadcrumbs

Directions:

Mix together the lobster meat, mayo, mustard, and garlic gently to not pulverize the lobster.
The Three Bite Rule - Lobster Cakes
Add in the chives and green onion stirring gently.
The Three Bite Rule - Lobster Cakes
Heat a large skillet with vegetable oil to medium heat.
Form the mixture into 2-3 patties and roll them in the mixed breadcrumbs.
The Three Bite Rule - Lobster Cakes
To check the oil temperature, drop a few breadcrumbs into the oil and see if they sizzle immediately. If they do, then add the patties in to cook for about 3-5 minutes on each side. Try to let them really crisp on the bottom before flipping so you only have to flip it once.
The Three Bite Rule - Lobster Cakes
Remove from the oil and let them drain on paper towel to get rid of the excess oil.
The Three Bite Rule - Lobster Cakes
Serve on their own or on top of salad! Enjoy!
The Three Bite Rule - Lobster Cakes
This is the best lazy-man’s lobster. It gets crunchy on the outside but is all lobster on the inside. There really isn’t much filler in these bad boys. I ended up adding a 2nd to my plate. I couldn’t resist!

Can you believe I fried them? I never fry things! They’d be good in the oven, if it isn’t too hot to have your oven on. ;)

I served it with honey mustard dressing that is just so easy and worth making yourself:
2 tbs honey
2 tbs dijon mustard
tiniest dab of butter (tiny as in 1/2 teaspoon – this makes all the difference)
shake it up and enjoy!

The Three Bite Rule - Lobster Cakes
Make your own honey mustard dressing. It is perfect to make a tiny bit for one or two servings or double/triple/quadruple this and have enough for a while.

Panzanella

This panzanella is the salad that can be dinner on its own, or for me, it was just part of a crazy salad night for dinner. I liked the crouton-ish part of this salad, and sometimes any salad without greens if a more-fun one for me. I don’t know that I’d make it all that often, but on a hot night panzanella hits the spot. Now, I just need the bigger tomatoes in the garden to ripen up. We’ve gotten some cherry tomatoes but the bigger ones are still green so I bought the tomatoes for this salad.

The Three Bite Rule - Panzanella

Ingredients:

2 cups cubed & dried bread
2 large tomatoes
1/2 large cucumber
1 yellow/orange bell pepper
1/4 red onion
1/2 tsp garlic, minced
1/2 tsp dijon mustard
1/4 cup olive oil
3 tbs red wine vinegar
splash of lemon juice
salt & pepper

Directions:

Chop up the tomatoes, cucumbers, bell peppers, and red onion. Let the onion soak for about 5 minutes in some cold water so they mellow out a bit.
The Three Bite Rule - Panzanella
Heat a large skillet to medium-low heat with about 2 tbs of olive oil.
Drop the bread in and toss it around to coat. Cook for about 5 minutes until it gets just a little golden and a little crusty.
In a glass jar, add in the garlic, mustard, olive oil, vinegar, lemon juice, salt & pepper. Shake it up!
The Three Bite Rule - Panzanella
Toss the veggies, bread, and some dressing together.
The Three Bite Rule - Panzanella
Let it sit for at least 15 minutes, then add more dressing if needed. Enjoy!

If the tomatoes or cukes are really juicy you might not need any more dressing. I used just enough to get it all tossed – maybe half? Then another little splash before serving. I liked the bread getting a little crisp first and then soaking a bit of the dressing. I didn’t want it completed soaked and falling apart. The dressing takes 2 seconds and is an easy one to use again on any salad or adding some herbs to make it a marinade.

The Three Bite Rule - Panzanella
I don’t know that I’d make this all the time, but it was a great use for some leftover really good bread. I served it on a night of two unusual salads (the other being watermelon, feta & arugula) with grilled sausage. It probably didn’t really get to shine because I was sooo into the watermelon/feta/arugula salad.

The Three Bite Rule - Watermelon & Feta Salad
Have you ever soaked onions? It is great for a raw use so they don’t overpower everything else. They maintain the crunch and some flavor but they won’t be the only taste in there.