Parmesan Pesto Tilapia

Mr. J isn’t into fish and I don’t do red meat so sometimes we do his-and-hers with shared sides. I went grocery shopping thinking maybe I’d get salmon, but the tilapia was a steal so I got some which ended up being 2 servings. I popped half in the freezer for another time. We shared some mashed potato/cauliflower and roasted asparagus.

I don’t cook fish that often and I was so happy and surprised by this. I threw it together and think the sauce would be great on other white fish, or chicken, or pork. Seriously, buying pesto pre-made is really handy for a lot of uses.
The Three Bite Rule - Parmesan Pesto Tilapia

Ingredients:

1 tilapia fillet
1 tbs pesto
2 tbs lemon juice
1 tsp mayo/olive oil
1 tsp parmesan grated
salt & pepper

Directions:

Preheat the oven to 350-degrees.
Sprinkle each side of the tilapia with salt & pepper.
The Three Bite Rule - Parmesan Pesto Tilapia
In a small bowl, whisk together the pesto, lemon juice, mayo, and parmesan together.
The Three Bite Rule - Parmesan Pesto Tilapia
Spray a baking dish with non-stick spray and spoon a few tablespoons of sauce onto the bottom the baking dish. Lay the fillet on-top, spooning the rest of the sauce over the top.
The Three Bite Rule - Parmesan Pesto Tilapia
Bake 20 minutes. Then flip the fish and bake another 10 minutes.

I absolutely loved this. I thought the sauce was bright and powerful enough to flavor the fish. The lemon seemed appropriate for the fish but the pesto was the shining star on this one. This super simple sauce will reappear again, I’m sure.

The Three Bite Rule - Parmesan Pesto Tilapia
Leftover pesto? Use pesto in grilled cheese. Use pesto on potato pizza. Use pesto in your lasagna. Use pesto aoli on a panini. Use pesto in your tomato soup or wherever you might use basil.

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.
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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.
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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).
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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.
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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.
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Toss arugula with a very little drizzle of olive oil and add onto of the pizza.
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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.
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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.

Shrimp and Couscous Salad

Sometimes it is just too hot to really cook. I don’t like when it is this hot out. I don’t know how people like the 90s. Yuck. It was too hot to cook, we had just been away for the weekend, I hadn’t planned anything so I was digging around to see what I could whip up. I came up with this salad-y dish that was perfect!

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Ingredients:

5 medium-large shrimp, pealed, deveined, and cooked (I used frozen)
½ cup Israeli couscous
¾ cup chicken/veggie stock/water/white wine (liquid of your choosing)
2 tbs whole grain mustard
1 tsp butter
1 cup edemame (I used unshelled, if they’re in the pods cook and pop them out earlier)
½ cup bell pepper, chopped
salt & pepper

Directions:

Add couscous to a medium pan over medium heat to toast for about 3 minutes.
Shake them around until they start getting a little tan colored.
Add in the liquid (I used chicken stock) and cover for 5 minutes.
Cook edemame (mine was frozen and deshelled and just needed to boil for 5 min).
Chop pepper and cut shrimp into 3rds or leave whole, depending on your preference while couscous is cooking
Remove from heat and add in butter and mustard.
Drop in edemame, peppers, and shrimp.
Stir until combined and sprinkle in cracked pepper and kosher salt.

This was so easy and I was using what I had. I didn’t have anything citrus based, but that would be really fresh and perfect for shrimp. I liked the butter and mustard flavors. The peppers are raw but warm up a bit from the heat of everything else. They add a good crunch. I loved this one dish meal. I’ve made couscous before sort of like this but this time, it got to be the whole meal!

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This could easily have a bunch of substitutions. Salad dressing would be a good substitute for the mustard if that isn’t your thing. It would nix a lot of calories to use water instead of chicken stock in the couscous, and to omit the butter, but I figured it was under 400 calories anyway so I’d live it up. I would have chopped spinach if I had some or cherry tomatoes would be great. My cucumber was questionable but I thought that would be a good crunch. This could use any veggies you had around.

I loved the colors and felt so summery eating outside on the deck!

Pan Seared Scallops

Today I have a quick restaurant-style dinner. Pan seared scallops are such an easy preparation. They require so few ingredients and cook perfectly. I upped the ante with a really easy sauce too.

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Ingredients:
3-4 sea scallops per person
3/4 cup wheat flour
1/2 tsp garlic powder
salt & pepper
2 tbs whole grain mustard
1 tsp butter
splash milk
1 tsp cream cheese

Directions:
Heat a heavy pan over medium heat and drizzle with olive oil and butter when warmed.
Mix flour, garlic powder, and salt/pepper.
Toss scallops into seasoned flour and sear in the pan for 2 minutes per side.
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While the scallops are cooking, heat mustard, butter, milk, and cream cheese over low heat.
Serve scallops with creamy mustard sauce.

The scallops are slightly sweet with a slight crunch on the outside. The butter flavor they are cooked in plays off the mustardy sauce for a subtle flavor.

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I love scallops prepared this way. They’re easy (as in less than 10-minutes of cooking) and are full of flavor. I served them with roasted broccoli and polenta cakes. It felt special for such a simple dinner.

Bacon Wrapped Scallops

There aren’t enough foods wrapped in bacon. I can sense when scallops wrapped in bacon are a passed appetizer near me. It is like radar. I work the cocktail hour scouting what waiter has them near by.
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I decided I should make some myself. I think the challenge was really to get the bacon crisp and not to overcook the scallops.

Ingredients:

3-4 sea scallops per person
½ strip of bacon per scallop
toothpicks
1 tbs butter
1 tbs olive oil

Directions:

Rinse scallops and trim any connective tissue.
Pat dry. Again, pat any excess water off.
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Wrap each half strip of bacon around each scallop and secure with a toothpick, through the center. Or try using 2 to make an X to get it going. Generously salt and pepper both sides.
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Melt butter and oil in a hot skillet.
Place scallops in, bacon side down.
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Don’t overcrowd the pan so you can rotate the scallops, crisping the bacon on each side.
At the 4th rotation, pan fry both top and bottom.

These were tricky. I made sure to (account for and) pull out each before serving. The bacon held well. If anything, they weren’t quite as crisp as I would have liked. I think the scallop maintained its integrity.
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Four scallops per person was too much. They were huge! I served them with some roasted broccoli and parmesan risotto.

I have lots of meals and a whole vacation recap ahead. I’ve been under the weather and I’m trying to vacay detox while still getting prepped for the holidays. Bear with me! I’m shooting for Monday ;)

Portland Pie Pizza

The vacation of eating continues! Seriously, Portland ME is a foodie mecca (donuts & duckfat fries). I really hoped we’d make it to Portland Pie and it was everything I dreamed of. I buy their refrigerated pizza dough at the grocery store and love it. It is the best, hands down. It worked out to be a great dinner option for the last night we were in town.
The Three Bite Rule - Portland Pie

I was really torn as to what I was in the mood for. Their fall specials looked amazing. I might need to recreate one of their fall dishes. There was a mustard/sauerkraut/bratwurst/pumpkin ale pizza that sounded amazing. I also was intrigued by a maple balsamic dressing for salad.

We got an app (even though Mr. J was all about the pumpkin cheesecake for dessert). I knew after all our eating we could not eat an app, pizza, and dessert. Way. too. much.

We chose the sweet potato smoked cheddar dip with rosemary biscotti.
The Three Bite Rule - Portland Pie

They were working the kinks out on this one. We actually sent it back to be reheated. The breadbowl it was in was nicely warmed, the cheddar on top of the dip was melted, but the dip was cold. It wasn’t just “not piping hot” but it was cold. We neverrr send stuff back but this was meant to be warm. It then took forever. Other tables got their salads, drink refills, salads cleared and pizza served while we waited.

The kitchen wasn’t sure the best way to reheat it while maintaining the dip. I wanted to cancel it but our server was a bit MIA. She returned telling us it would be ready when the pizza was and the kitchen made a new app. I really would have just cancelled it or they could have offered to take it off the bill. Instead they offered us dessert. That made Mr. J one happy guy.

Our server thought it would be ready when the pizza was so we asked for whatever was ready to come out. I didn’t want the pizza sitting to stay warm. I’m not sure it was worth all the hype for all of this process, but it was good. Smoked gouda would have been better.

We ordered 2 pizzas so there’d be some leftovers to take home for the next day. We got one Bar Harbor which was super exciting now that Mr. J eats scallops! Woohoo! It was scallops, bacon, mozzarella with alfredo sauce. It was amazing. The scallops were cooked nicely and every bite was flavorful. The topping to crust ratio was spot on.
The Three Bite Rule - Portland Pie

The other pizza we got was called Dead River. It was red sauce and had spinach, red peppers, ricotta, and we swapped out hamburger for sausage. It is finished with garlic and crushed red pepper. Some bites definitely have a kick to them. I liked this one a lot and it was a great contrast to the sweet & smokey scallop pizza.
The Three Bite Rule - Portland Pie

One of my favorite things that happened was just too funny. For some reason our server didn’t seem sure that we were together. She packed the dessert to go as separate containers and asked if we each wanted some of each pizza packed up. I was so amused since we were celebrating our 1st wedding anniversary weekend!

I love their menu. I wish there was a Portland Pie near me! I’d be happy to drink the delicious local-to-Maine brews and dine on their expansive menu if they wanted to come further south!
The Three Bite Rule - Portland Pie

Lobster Walk n’ Roll

Google+ gave some spots away for a Lobster Walk n’ Roll event a few weeks ago in Harvard Square and I was lucky enough to get one. Liz from Eating Places joined me and we happily munched the lobster slider and cocktail tastes they offered up along with some photo tips while meeting other Google+ reviewers.

We began at Upstairs on the Square. I was psyched since I hadn’t been inside there. We were in a super cool pink zebra room. It was a bit pink for photos so bear with me.
The Three Bite Rule - Lobster Roll

We got a small lobster roll and a glass of Sauvignon Blanc. This was a great way to start the afternoon.
The Three Bite Rule - Lobster Roll
The lobster roll was really simple and filled a buttery roll. I was so happy to see the big chunks of lobster meat with very little dressing.
The Three Bite Rule - Lobster Roll

Next we made our way to Russell House Tavern for a slider and choice of cocktail.
The Three Bite Rule - Lobster Roll

This slider reflected their mission to keep food from being pretentious. They kindly provided some fries as well, which were addicting to say the least.
The Three Bite Rule - Lobster Roll
These sliders were my favorite of the day. I again LOVED that they were lightly dressed but had a touch of a kick.
The Three Bite Rule - Lobster Roll
Gobs of mayo and miniscule chunks of lobster give lobster rolls a bad name…that isn’t how they’re supposed to be.
The Three Bite Rule - Lobster Roll

I got their house St. Germain cocktail with sparkling wine and soda water. It was flowery and bubbly making it an ideal pairing with a very filled lobster slider.
The Three Bite Rule - Lobster Roll

I’ve never been there for brunch but would love to. I need to get on that. Their breakfast sandwich is the stuff my dreams are made of. I might need accompaniment to get the bfast pizza or biscuits and gravy so I can try those too. I don’t know their restaurant Park , but I love Grafton Street.

Next we made our way to The First Printer. I hadn’t been here before (I hear it had been Herrell’s Ice Cream). The interior is homey and charming.
The Three Bite Rule - Lobster Roll
We cozied up in booths with platters of lobster rolls.
The Three Bite Rule - Lobster Roll
They offered us 3 custom cocktails but everyone went with the same one! The crispy cuke stuck into it was show stopping.
The Three Bite Rule - Lobster Roll

I have to say that their lobster rolls were my least favorite. The lobster meat was deliciously tender and I was pleasantly surprised by the orange zest. Their rolls were dry and stale. I think after having 2 other/different rolls these seemed lackluster. That didn’t stop me from eating the insides of other sliders though.

Their ice cubes are crazy perfect squares. We were impressed and I mentioned it to the waitress who thought a) I was nuts, and b) that I was asking where ice comes from. It was awkward and couldn’t have been over fast enough.

It was so nice of these restaurants to host us for this lovely summer Sunday funday.

Full 3 Bite Rule Disclosure: The Lobster Walk n’ Roll was completely complementary but my thoughts, opinions, and words are entirely my own.

Salmon Burger

I’m posting out of sequence so it might look like I’m eating bugers non-stop. Mr. J had some venison so I bought myself some fish. Salmon was on sale so that sealed the deal. If I’d been coordinated, I’d have made a pie for pi day so, happy 3.14!

I’m talking $2.68 for a POUND of salmon. That’s several servings. Whoa!
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I was doing to cook it in the oven with butter, lemon, & dill but then I had this strange hankering for a salmon burger. It came out of nowhere. I’ve never even EATEN a salmon burger before, but this was wicked good.

Ingredients:

½ cup panko breadcrumbs
¾ cup breadcrumbs
1 pound salmon
1 tsp dried dill
1 tsp lemon juice
1 egg½ tsp garlic

Directions:

Cut salmon off the skin
Add breadcrumbs, salmon, dill, and lemon juice to a food processor and pulse a few times until combined. (I was out of breadcrumbs so these are some homemade croutons becoming breadcrumbs).
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Mix in an egg and garlic by hand.
Form into patties & grill
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I served these with spinach, some tzatziki, and mustard on a grilled wheat roll. I liked the creamy component and thought the cukes, garlic, and dill of the tzatziki were really good with the salmon.
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I made 3 burgers out of it and really enjoyed this as something different. The other 2 are frozen and I’m sure will be a great surprise some night when I feel like there’s nothing for dinner.

It stayed together much better than I expected, but I did arm Mr. J with some super duty aluminum foil for the burger on the grill.

I wouldn’t ever order a salmon burger at a restaurant so I think this was a fun/easy one to make at home. I think if a restaurant is cooking my fish I’ll have them taking the tougher method.

Cost Breakdown:

1 pound of salmon: $2.68
breadcrumbs: ~$0.55
lemon for juice: $0.89
roll: $1.59
tzatziki: $0.41
total:  $6.12 (for 3 burgers) or $2.04 each!

Making Crab Rangoons at Home

Even non-fish eaters like crab rangoons and all the guest bloggers I’ve had recently got me inspired to use some wontons.

These were a fun app to make at home, and I liked that I had more control of them…which meant that there was wayyy more crab in them than in those of take-out Chinese restaurants.

Ingredients:

8 oz crabmeat (or imitation crab)
4 oz cream cheese
2 tbs mayo
3 green onions, chopped
splash soy sauce
spash of sesame oil
wonton wrappers

Directions:

Mix crab, cream cheese, mayo, green onions, and sauces together and let sit for 10 minutes.
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Preheat oven to 375 degrees
Stuff each wonton by putting about ½ tsp of filling into the center of the wonton and bringing the corners to meet in the middle. This forms a purse shape. Or put the filling in the center and bring 1 set of opposite corners to meet, forming a triangle.
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Spray lightly with nonstick spray and bake for 10 minutes.

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My triangles oozed a bit, but were much crispier. The purses were really cute and ensured evenly filled bites, but didn’t bake up as crispy. That triangular ooze of crisped crab was amazing. Not that I’d ever taste for the sake of presentation.
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Mr. J LOVES sweet and sour sauce so I bought probably the world’s largest jar at the grocery store (think 40 oz for $2.99). It isn’t quite like take-out Chinese sweet and sour, but I like it better. Want to know the first ingredient? Of course you do!

It is apricots!
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Wow. I never would have guessed. This actually has distinguishable chunks.  I lucked out with the real crab on sale. I bet imitation isn’t bad since that’s probably what the restaurants are using anyway.

Crab Rangoon Cost:

8 oz crabmeat: $6.75 (it was on sale and wasn’t imitation crabmeat)
4 oz cream cheese: $0.75
2 oz mayo: $0.30
green onions: free! (I did this, but note it really only worked once, after that the color was a lot lighter and the flavor was pretty weak)
wontons: $1.25
total: $9.05 for about 24 crab rangoons or about $0.37 per piece.

This beats my local take-out option which sells about 8 for $8.75, though, they do bring it to my door so that has to count for something.

 

Coconutty Shrimp

I spent the better part of one evening going back and forth to the fridge to see if anything for dinner had magically appeared. I was just trying to find something for myself and had no ideas.

Then I finally switched things up and checked out the freezer. When, what to my wondering eyes should appear, but a bag of frozen jumbo shrimp. Too early for Christmas quotes? No? Great!

I recalled adding coconut shrimp to my list. Baked Coconut Shrimp it was and there’s no time like the present!
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Ingredients:

6 jumbo shrimp, peeled & deveined
3 tbs cornstarch
1 eggwhite, wisked
¼ cup shredded coconut
¼ cup panko breadcrumbs

Directions:

Preheat oven to 375 degrees.
Dredge the shrimp in cornstarch
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Then into the egg white (whisking it makes it more dip-able since egg white stays goopy and stuck to itself.)cocoshrimp_egg_590_390

And finally into the coconut & panko (plain coconut will burn without some breadcrumbs in there)
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Lay on baking sheet. Does mine look small? I put these guys into my toaster oven and set it to bake!
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Bake for 8 minutes, flip, then bake for another 8 minutes.
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Voila!

I wanted something sweet and spicy to dip them in so I again checked the fridge. I did notice a crate of clementines I’ve been eating up the ying yang to keep up with them. Perfect!

I peeled a clementine and added it to a pot. I put in some apple cider, apple jelly, lemon juice, and red pepper flakes. I brought it to a boil and mashed it up a bit then turned the temperature down until the shrimp were ready.
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These were so good and super easy. I figured I could whip them up anytime so I only made enough for myself to eat right then. They’d be great to prep in advance and just bake for guests. I hate frying things because of the mess, the grease, and the timing so baking them was much better. It also makes these a lot lighter.

My sauce needs some perfecting. I think I was on the right track but probably needed to refine the quantities.
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I’ll definitely make these again. My Mum would love them!