Chicken Caesar Pasta

I needed a win in the kitchen, and this was it! I was SO HAPPY with this chicken caesar pasta! I made a few things recently that I just wasn’t thrilled with. One was a sandwich which was pretty good and I prob will still blog it. The other. Ugg. It just wasn’t great and I plan to remake it for you. It just had such porky potential!
The Three Bite Rule - Chicken Caesar Pasta

This Chicken Caesar Pasta was perfect! I love watching the little one eat spaghetti and he was very into the chicken. It was freezing, otherwise we might have grilled the chicken. It was quick (or could largely be made in advance) and is a crowd pleaser for sure. Win. Win. Win! Caesar begs for anchovy paste…don’t knock it till you’ve tried it. That is absolutely what gives that Caesar flavor…plus the pepper and Parmesan don’t hurt either.

Chicken Caesar Pasta (serves 4)

Ingredients:

~3 chicken thighs/tenders/breasts (I used thighs, of course)
1/4 cup salad dressing for marinade (I used creamy Caesar)
1 clove garlic
1 1/2 cup heavy cream
2 cups Parmesan
cracked black pepper
tiny dab (1/8 of a teaspoon, 1/4 inch squirt from the tube) Anchovy Paste
2 cups greens (I used a spinach/baby kale mix that go into my smoothies)
1/2 pound spaghetti

Directions:

Heat all the things: a large pot of salted water to a boil (for the pasta), preheat the oven to 350 (to keep the chicken warm), heat a large pan to medium heat with a tablespoon of olive oil (for the chicken).
In a medium pot, add in the heavy cream and grate or mince the clove of garlic. Heat over medium for about 10 minutes.
While the cream and garlic are cooking together, use the large pan with oil to pan sear the chicken.  Brown it on each side, then pop into the oven to keep it warm or finish cooking it.
Add the pasta into the boiling water.
Slice the chicken into bite-sized pieces.
The Three Bite Rule - Chicken Caesar Pasta
Add the cheese, pepper, and anchovy paste to the cream sauce stirring well. Cook for about 5-10 minutes.
Chop the greens.
The Three Bite Rule - Chicken Caesar Pasta
Drain the pasta and return it to the large pot. Add in the greens & cream sauce (ladle the sauce in and stir so you can add what you like).
The Three Bite Rule - Chicken Caesar Pasta
Add in the chicken and toss to coat everything.
The Three Bite Rule - Chicken Caesar Pasta
Enjoy!

The sauce was a trick from Sunny Anderson’s Instagram: 123 sauce – 1 garlic clove, 2 cups heavy cream, 3 cups cheese. I took a little liberty on the ratios since I knew I didn’t need too much. Love it.
The Three Bite Rule - Chicken Caesar Pasta

In a hurry? Use leftover grilled chicken and doctor up a jar of alfredo with the Parm & anchovy paste. Add in any greens you have (spinach will cook enough from the hot pasta, or saute any you have on hand). Boom. Dinner = done. Next time I might top it with some toasted panko/parmesan/drizzle of caesar & butter for a super crunchy topping!

Potato Bar

I was inspired to make dinner out of potatoes after seeing lots of potato skin-football food and after making candied sweet potatoes for tacos. A few years ago mashed potato bars were all the rage at weddings costing a fortune for such basic ingredients. I figured with a few toppings it could easily be dinner.

Baked potatoes are so much faster than I really thought they’d take. I spread out a few toppings and it was such a fun dinner. This would be great for guests. Everyone getting to customize their own keeps everyone happy.
The Three Bite Rule - Potato Bar

Ingredients:

2 potatoes
frozen creamed spinach
1 cup shredded cheddar
4 strips bacon, chopped
sour cream

Directions:

Microwave potatoes for 4 minutes then bake potatoes for 20 minutes at 400-degrees.
Pan fry the bacon until crisp.
Heat the creamed spinach until warmed through.
Rub the potatoes in olive oil and a sprinkle of salt.
Lay out the toppings and enjoy!

The potatoes were filling but not super heavy. The creamed spinach was a perfect sauce and took no effort.

The Three Bite Rule - Potato Bar
The Three Bite Rule - Potato Bar

Top Your Own Pasta Bar

For Dad’s bday we did a top-your-own pasta bar. It was really fun and I loooove customizing dinner with a group. Mom made everything and the rest of us just reaped the benefits.

We started with an antipasto which is actually Dad’s signature dish.
Antipasto - The Three Bite Rule
The pasta bar started with cheese tortellini in a light cream sauce. Then the toppings were all separate and allowed perfect customization.
The Three Bite Rule - Pasta Bar
We had grilled chicken tenders.
The Three Bite Rule - Pasta Bar
We had carrots, zucchini, and some tomatoes, onions, with a little pesto.
The Three Bite Rule - Pasta Bar
We also had peapods, artichokes, and capers.
The Three Bite Rule - Pasta Bar
It was really good. I had mine with zucchini, chicken, and onions with tomatoes. Topped with Parmesan.
The Three Bite Rule - Pasta Bar
The man of honor, had chicken, artichokes, capers, and some lemon.
The Three Bite Rule - Pasta Bar
We wrapped up with blueberry pie which was gone before I remembered to snap a pic.

Happy Birthday DAD!!

Easter Brunch Ideas

Spring is in the air and Easter is on the calendar. Here’s a quickie round-up of make-and-take brunch ideas or ideas if you are hosting your own Easter festivities.

The first rule of brunch, is not to make everything more complicated than it needs to be. Each thing you serve cannot be the most special thing ever. It is hard to make eggs, and waffles, and hashbrowns, and toast…unless you are in a diner. If you’re making something eggy, or pancake-y then do something easy with it like fruit you’ve prepped in advance, or muffins that are already made, or bagels with spreads that are ready to serve.

Quiche is a great brunch item that you’ll make in advance. Voila! Brunch is served! I made quiche lorraine recently and loved it. bacon + swiss cheese = delicious. Ms. L makes a killer tomato, basil, goat cheese quiche.
The Three Bite Rule - Quiche Lorraine
Going somewhere? Make your own granola and serve it with yogurt. I loved this maple peanut butter granola over coffee Greek yogurt, or vanilla, or coconut. It is very pack-able.
The Three Bite Rule - Maple Peanut Butter Granola

Make-your-own
this is the easiest way to serve a crowd and everyone will get what they want. It makes it fun and easily customizable for all ages.

build your own BLT bar:
bacon vs. canadian bacon? 2 lettuces, tomatoes, different breads, different spreads, avaocados, sprouts? you name it. It’s the perfect between breakfast & lunch. Maybe there are fried eggs to lean towards breakfast? Maybe there are cheeses? you. name. it.
Avocado BLT
Build your own yogurt parfait bar: 
granola, toasted coconut, strawberries, bananas, dried cranberries, walnuts, brown sugar, + whatever else you have.
Yogurt Parfait Bar
Salad bar: 
this takes the every-day side to a whole new level. Warm up a honey-baked ham, grab some good rolls, and spread out a salad bar and you’re done! Edemame, chickpeas, hardboiled eggs, cheese, and lots of veggies make it fresh and a meal in its own. Plan a salad bar as part of your meal or for those get the evening munchies hours after brunch.
The 3 Bite Rule - Salad Bar
Build your own grilled cheese:
give some bread options, a few cheeses, and then a few other add-ins will please all palates. I love a good grilled cheese. American cheese and cheddar have me easily won over on a grilled cheese. Prep some bacon, tomato slices, mustards, caramelized onions, ham, or whatever you love. You need a grill pan ready or a panini press.
grilled cheese with balsamic onions
pizza grilled cheese
bacon grilled cheese with peach compote

Build your own breakfast sandwich would be like my dream come true:
bagels, croissants, biscuits with cheese options, and a panful of eggs sounds like my idea of a good time. My fav bagel place does breakfast sandwiches with slices of egg and cheese omelets. That’s an easy way to make a bunch for a crowd. Offer bacon, sausage, ham, arugula, and tomato slices. Add some tortillas, black beans, and salsa for breakfast burritos.

Whip up a blender-ful of creamsicle smoothies. This is my favorite smoothie and I think everyone would love it. Add some champagne for a twist on a mimosa, or a splash of vanilla vodka for a spiked brunch bevvie
The Three Bite Rule - Creamsicle Smoothie
Lastly, the hands-down easiest festive breakfast is a cereal bar. Some milks and everyone brings a cereal and you have an instant cereal party. It is a fun pot-luck with no-cooking required.

Cheese Fondue Party

Cheese fondue is just as delicious as it sounds. I hosted a winter sunday girls gathering featuring an afternoon of chit-chat, fondue, and crafts. Not many were interested in the crafts so maybe cookie decorating would be more popular :-) It was nice to get a few ladies together especially during a busy time of year. I figured late afternoon snacks on a Sunday would fit into busy schedules. Some shared fondue ended up being so addictive that we ate more than I thought our smaller group would!
The Three Bite Rule - Cheese Fondue

Mr. J and I got a fondue set last year and actually hadn’t tested it out until now. It was awesome for the “party” and I repeated it again for New Year’s Eve. It is an electric induction cooktop. We used another one that was gas lit and was wayyy more dangerous. I’d suggest either a baby candle lit one for chocolate fondue or some sort of electric one. A crockpot would work well too.

The Three Bite Rule - Cheese Fondue
I googled some cheese fondue tips. Turns out cheese fondue really is a mix of multiple cheeses and thinned out with another liquid.

Ingredients:

~3/4 pound jarlesburg cheese
~3/4 pound gruyere cheese
1 tsp cornstarch
1 1/2 cup chicken broth
1 cup white wine
2 tbs garlic, minced
2 tbs dijon mustard
salt & pepper

Directions:

In a large pot heat broth, wine, garlic, and mustard over medium-low heat.
The Three Bite Rule - Cheese Fondue
Shred cheeses and toss with cornstarch.
The Three Bite Rule - Cheese Fondue
Slowly add cheese into the hot liquid in small batches, stirring continuously.
Keep adding until totally incorporated and melted.
Sprinkle with salt and pepper.
Transfer into fondue pot or crockpot over low heat.
The Three Bite Rule - Cheese Fondue
Dip, dip, and dip!
The Three Bite Rule - Cheese Fondue
This was so addicting and we loved it. It started out seeming kind of runny but was thicker as it cooled. It still remained totally dip-able. I feared it might be one big hunk of cheese.

Dippers:
crusty bread, cut into cubes (I used ciabatta)
broccoli, lightly steamed
mushrooms
salami slices or grilled chicken sausage
green apples

The Three Bite Rule - Cheese Fondue
Like most parties, I got swept up and forgot to grab any photos until lots was already gone (minus restocking the broccoli). The broccoli and apples were perfect dippers in my mind being a bit lighter, but the bread was ohh so delicious.

The Three Bite Rule - Cheese Fondue
We also did a chocolate fondue (melted semi-sweet and whipping cream) with pretzels, sea salt blondies, and crispy vanilla cookies. I couldn’t find strawberries even close to being fresh but that would be in my dreams.

I’m not sure if I’d make a hot-pot broth to cook meat in, but I’ll definitely do cheese fondue again. It was the EASIEST party food I’ve ever done. I mean, honestly, it was largely uncooked foods. I am sure I wouldn’t mess with one lit with gas again. Let’s all just be thankful that I didn’t burn the house down.

Just you WAIT to see what I did with some leftovers!

Back To School Potluck

The office hasn’t had a potluck for awhile. The last one was kind of sad. It wasn’t our best. I think the timing was off and our theme was possibly a bit too vague. It was for St. Patrick’s Day at a super busy time in the office and after a crazy weekend for the city. This one got us back on track! We did a back to school, but grown up, as our theme.

We had some paleo chicken nuggets.
The Three Bite Rule - Back To School Potluck

We had some school-lunch-pizza. They were on sandwich thins with veggie pepperoni.
The Three Bite Rule - Back To School Potluck

We had some pb & j on banana bread. This one was mine. I tried the whipped peanut butter and used strawberry jam. I made my own banana bread.
The Three Bite Rule - Back To School Potluck

We had come cafeteria-style ‘mush’. It was cauliflower, broccoli, and sweet potato.
The Three Bite Rule - Back To School Potluck

School lunch isn’t complete without snacks and dessert.

We had trailmix.
The Three Bite Rule - Back To School Potluck

We had ants on a log with almond butter and craisins.
The Three Bite Rule - Back To School Potluck

We had ice cream cups with little wooden spoons.
The Three Bite Rule - Back To School Potluck

We had oreos, made with protein powdered cream.
The Three Bite Rule - Back To School Potluck
I don’t think we’ve settled on our next one. We thought about ‘on a stick’ or mini vs. giant foods. Any potluck theme recommendations for us? Some of our best include: nail polish colored, or Olympics theme, or made-in-a-muffin-tin.

Hosting Brunch Tips & Breakfast Pizza

I LOVE to host. I think that’s why I like working events. I love feeling like I’ve thought of the details because that’s what makes an event feel special. Hosting at my house also means that I won’t have people complaining to me about a tee shirt. Seriously, this is my life.

I hosted a few of my fav couples for brunch. I tried not to go crazy with the menu but I was psyched to put a few new serving pieces into action. I did as much prep the night before as I could and it made for a pretty easy morning. There were 6 of us and 4 puppies and 1 toddler. It was a beautiful day and I was so thankful some of this group together for brunch before everyone had to head in different directions.

Menu:

breakfast pizza
ebilskiver pancake balls: dark chocolate mint, banana butterscotch, and sausage
fruit salad
yogurt parfait bar
tator tots
mini bagels
mimosas
hot & iced coffee

I’ve made a few breakfasts pizzas in the past. I made one bfast pizza with hashbrown crust which was better in theory than in execution. I’ve also have done one bfast pizza with egg cracked on top.  This time I went more scrambled but still don’t think I hit 100%. I topped a crust with cheese, bacon, and tomato. I baked it a bit more and then topped it with scrambled eggs, more bacon, and fresh chives. The crust needed a bit more time to get crisp. The timing was the challenge here. I had a few other items in the oven, I was getting stuff together, and I was scrambling the eggs. It was good, but not amazing. It has such potential though. The crust needed more time to get crisp and the eggs should have gone on only for a minute or two, then it should be served right away.
brunch_pizza_590_390
I cold brewed coffee for ice coffee. I also froze some coffee into cubes (but forgot to serve them!). Cold brewing is interesting. It definitely makes better iced coffee. We had some leftover and I’ve been enjoying it to no end. Mr. J said we need an iced coffee drip in the fridge!

brunch_coldbrew_590_390
I love brunch and think the choices need to vary sweet and savory. I was thinking about a smoothie station but thought maybe it was too much work for people to do themselves. Then I had it! Yogurt Parfait Bar. Yes! Top-your-own is the best. Everyone can customize! I served vanilla Greek yogurt with granola, cinnamon chips, walnuts, brown sugar, toasted coconut, dried cranberries, and chocolate crunchies. I put out some disposable wine cups for serving and we were good-to-go. It was an easy/low prep dish. Annnd maybe I also wanted to use this 6-dish server.
brunch_yogparfait_590_390
I got cool silverware holders for my birthday from my sis. These are so great!
brunch_silverwear_590_390
Finally, I think food labeling is one of the easiest things a host can do. The holders were a fun antique gift. They’re supposed to be placecard holders but I don’t do sit-downs and Momma R thought they’d be perfect for my dish labels. I like people to know what it is without having to either ask, or skip it not knowing what it is.
brunch_signage_390_590

Father’s Day Recipe Ideas

Since Sunday is Father’s Day, I wanted to share around a few ideas if you’re having a big shebang or a small family dinner. I was thinking about what my Dad likes best. It varies, for sure. He’s always up for a themed family dinner and he loves to know the plan.

He likes a sweet treat to go along with coffee in the morning. These cheese danish squares are amazingly easy. They are a great brunch addition or coffee break treat.
The Three Bite Rule - Cheese Danish Squares
Sometimes a fun theme is to bring back memories of a recent trip. My ‘rents went to Chicago and followed my recommendation for Lou Malnatti’s pizza. Making deepdish is actually easier for some folks by using a cake pan instead of messing with dough on a pizza stone.

A pizza party is a fun idea if you’re feeding a crowd. Here’s one of my favorite deepdish pizza recipes or making a few kinds of pizzas is always fun. Maybe the non-cook in the family can bring the salad?
deepdish_baked_590_390
Top-your-own-burgers would be fun. I like to put guests/family/friends to work. I make Mr. J a different special burger for his birthday each year. Here are some of our favorite burgers if you want filling/topping ideas.
The Three Bite Rule - Nacho Burger
‘Build-your-own’ bars make a party social and allow everyone to reach all the food served. Most importantly, then everyone can customize their food. I think it gives a fun casual setting and it helps those who are picky or really hungry be able to do their plate their own way. It works well for taco bars, salad barsoatmeal bars, top-your-own chili, etc!
Label your food for a) more fun b) a better executed theme and c) for clarity.
mac&cheese_290_200
I’m not sure what’s in store for the weather, but a cheeseburger calzone is a great option if you’re indoors or grill-less!
cheeseburg_calzone_cut_590_390
Oooo! Brilliant! Have a pot-luck with foods that remind you of your dad and then Dad has to guess who made what! Man, I just love food event themes!

Another theme I think any dad would like is a restaurant recreation of their favorite meal or a Throw-back meal to something he cooked with you or ate with you. Even just naming your menu can help with your theme. My ‘Welcome to Boston’ themed calzones are a prime example of that. I can admit myself that tt wasn’t really a theme without the names.

Dad C would have loved a Father’s Day lasagna (his favorite!)
white_lasagna_baked_590_390
or he liked my BBQ Chicken Pizza (with his fav Sticky Finger’s BBQ Sauce)
bbq_pizza_baked_590_390
Happy pre-Father’s Day to all the Dads out there.

What I Ate: At a Wedding Cocktail Hour

Wedding cocktail hour is my favorite. I love the vows, and the dancing (especially since Mr. J is a rockin’ dancer), but then I love the cocktail hour. Contrary to the name I like it for the food. I don’t worry about the drinks…it is all about the snacks. I love passed aps, Mrs. K had baked brie that I’m still raving about (3+ years later), Mrs. M had an amazing cheese selection. Serious love for the aps.

I don’t review many weddings but I went to one with the best cocktail hour ever. Ever. I know, I go to my share of weddings every year. I snapped a few pics with my phone but when I heard the next morning that the bride didn’t have any of the amazing aps I knew I HAD to blog ‘em. She writes Flying on Jess Fuel (stop by her blog, say hello, wish her congrats, and check out her recipes).

The chef was Chef Roland. I loved their cocktail hour. I cannot get over how many aps there were. I was so impressed that the hot ones were actually hot! The chilled ones were actually cool! The servers all knew what they were offering to us. It was amazing. Here are my favorites:

Shrimp ceviche with mango salsa on an edible spoon.
The Three Bite Rule - Wedding Aps  Yes, that’s right. There’s a crisp bite of spoon with each bite. Delicious!

Dill scone topped with lobster salad. It was lightly dressed and so fresh. I mayyy have stalked the servers whenever I saw these!
The Three Bite Rule - Wedding Aps

Lamb and quinoa cakes. The bride loves quinoa so these seemed even more perfect.
The Three Bite Rule - Wedding Aps

There were some mean lookin’ pistachio crusted lamb lollipops but I figured the lamb cake bite was probably my red-meat maximum for the day. I popped the lobster mac & cheese bite before I got a photo. Yum!

We had some bruschetta, coconut shrimp, spanakopita, cajan shrimp & kielbasa…I don’t even remember what else. There were so many. I had to chose wisely. There were just so many.

Ohh then we had dinner. It started with a salad of greens, beets, peaches, and candied walnuts. Seriously amazing.
The Three Bite Rule - Wedding Aps
Dinner options were beef, fish, or vegetarian. I got the fish. It turned out to be sole stuffed with spinach, mushrooms, and lobster. You had me at lobster.

Mr. J and I are off for the weekend to celebrate our 1st wedding anniversary! Can you believe it has been a year?!? I’ll be sure to let you know how that year old piece ‘o cake fared this past year!

Nail Polish Colored Potluck

In honor of Ms. K’s last day we had a tearful potluck to say goodbye and good luck to our nail polish loving coworker. It was along the lines of our Rainbow Potluck but this time we chose our colors based on a nail polish to each give her as a parting gift. I’m always so impressed with what everyone comes up with to bring! It’s tricky! We only have a fridge, microwave, and toaster oven to use but once again, it was a good one!

There was an awesome chilled watermelon soup. The watermelon color was Pretty in Punk.
The Three Bite Rule - Nail Polish Potluck

There were delicious (and healthy!) Granola-ish balls. They were like cookie dough but full of great ingredients like flaxseeds, peanut butter, and oats. The oatmeal color was Sand Tropez.
The Three Bite Rule - Nail Polish Potluck

We loved this avocado black eyed pea salad. It was fresh and creamy and delicious. The black eyed pea color was I Don’t Drink Cheap Wine.
The Three Bite Rule - Nail Polish Potluck
Our office can eat nachos and guacamole like we’ve never had it before! The guac green was Go Overboard.
The Three Bite Rule - Nail Polish Potluck

We had a re-creation from the sandwich shop downstairs with everything bagels, cream cheese, tomato and avocado. It was the right mix of filling and freshness. The tomato red was Forever Yummy.
The Three Bite Rule - Nail Polish Potluck
I made puff pastry bites with brie and blackberry sauce. More on them later. The nail polish was Henna Things Possible.
The Three Bite Rule - Nail Polish Potluck