Playing Chopped at Home

Do you watch chopped? I love it. As I’ve said before, it is like the old school Ready Set Cook! for the modern day…and with real chefs. My sis and I play occasionally. It’s actually a super easy way to host without going crazy.

Playing Chopped at Home:

Invite 1-4 people to join you
ask them to bring your specified quantity of basket items (I usually do 3 per person)
stock your pantry if you don’t have some basic staples (i.e. rice, pasta, condiments, breadcrumbs, spices, milk, etc)
Then, come up with your meal together with the ingredients!

I don’t do basket items by course, but you could definitely do that. Or you could break your group by course if you have too many cooks in the kitchen.

There were only 2 of us so we went with just a few ingredients each. Here they are!
The Three Bite Rule - Play Chopped
me:
marinated chicken breasts
onion dip mix
all my pantry items

sis:
pepperoni
ah-so chinese sauce
limes

We made a dip/relish with tomato, corn, red onion, ah-so Chinese barbecue sauce (basket ingredient) and lime juice (basket ingredient). This was seriously tangy and neon pink but surprisingly tasty. We served this with tortilla chips as a starter.
The Three Bite Rule - Play Chopped

Then we chopped potatoes and mixed them with the onion dip (basket ingredient) and some olive oil then baked them to be crispy. While this wasn’t super inventive, it mayyy have been on the back of the package, it was a good use. I liked the extra salty flavor instead of just roasting potatoes with random herbs & spices. Leftovers also made great hasbrowns the next morning ;)
The Three Bite Rule - Play Chopped

For the chicken we decided to stuff it with pepperoni and needed something else. I had some goat cheese so we went fully decadent. I thought the tartness of the goat cheese and the fatty pepperoni was great to liven up some otherwise basic chicken.
The Three Bite Rule - Play Chopped

Go ahead and try it. It is so fun and a great way to not overthink dinner (then send me a pic with what you came up with emily@thethreebiterule.com!

Olympics Potluck

The closing ceremony is almost here. So sad. I don’t know about you but I’m exhausted. It is so much work to keep up! Gymnastics and beach volleyball have been my favorites. Of course I got sucked into some swimming, diving, and track as well.

To celebrate, it was time for some office olympics…not a la Jim & Pam’s Office Olympics but  in our way of celebrating, as a potluck!

The Three Bite Rule Olympic Potluck
Let the games begin!

We had greek salad
The Three Bite Rule Olympic Potluck
I made Greek lettuce wraps
The Three Bite Rule Olympic Potluck
And some summery bruschetta with a nod to Italian athletes
The Three Bite Rule Olympic Potluck
and a full out cheer to the Italian team
The Three Bite Rule Olympic Potluck
There was a great representation of the rings!
The Three Bite Rule Olympic Potluck
These rings too!
The Three Bite Rule Olympic Potluck
There was some red, white & blue patriotism
The Three Bite Rule Olympic Potluck
Wishing both the French & USA bon chance with some trifle!
The Three Bite Rule Olympic Potluck
Local & Farmer’s market picks suggest that the USA will sweep in medals! The Three Bite Rule Olympic Potluck

 

Birthday Party Theme: Apps & Zerts

This year may have been my best birthday theme ever. My life in event planning is Parks & Rec…to a tee. It is perfectly accurate in case you were wondering. I’m reasonably sure most of the jurisdictions I work with have assistants who are bribed not to let calls go through. They’ve referenced the piles of paper they have to get through and regularly do me a favor, by doing their jobs. Work hasn’t made me bitter, but I see the disparity in customer service all the time. I have a special place in my heart for park folks around the country who take their jobs as seriously as Leslie Knope.

Mr. J took all the photos so I could enjoy myself. It was wonderful and delicious. My friends are really talented. Somehow I thought there’d be a more manageable quantity of food compared to last year’s birthday food theme, but (K)nope, there was more!
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Without further ado, here they are!

Here’s the app winner: Not Swanson’s Zucchini Goat cheese Rolls (the winner won Ron Swanson paper dolls)
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This is the zert winner: S’more Cups (this winner got Leslie Knope paper dolls)
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These had LOTS of votes so it won a runner up award aka, a sketch of Tom Haverford
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This runner up got a sketch of Ben Wyatt since the flavors were so complex
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This runner up got the Chris Trager health award

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This runner up got a sketch of Donna since I thought Donna would find this Benz-worthy
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There was so much food! This one was mine!
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this was mine too!

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Love Mini Foods & Mini Spinach and Artichoke Dip

My office has THE BEST potluck themes. We recently did a theme for foods you can make in a muffin tin. There were no other restrictions and it might have been one of our best. We figured we love mini-food and thought it’d be a good theme for Valentine’s Day. I’m super delayed but happy to share these guys finally. My favorite techie has updated my whole computer so I was computer hopping and had files all over.

This theme would be really fun for a party or potluck because everything is really self-serve-able and because it is pretty self-contained, not everything needed silverware!
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Mini cheesecakes! 
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Mini spinach & cheese bites
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Mini strawberry shortbreads
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Mini Mac & Cheese
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Chocolate Peanut Butter Cupcakes
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Lemon Poppyseed Ebelskiver
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Mint Frosted Brownies
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Mini Lasagna Cups
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Banana Chocolate Chip Muffins
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Mini Spinach & Artichoke Dip Cups (these were mine, the recipe is below)
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Everything was so good!
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Spinach & Artichoke Dip Cups

Ingredients:

1 cup spinach, chopped
1 cup artichokes, chopped
1/2 cup Alfredo Sauce
1/2 package cream cheese
1 tsp garlic, chopped
1 cup shredded white cheddar cheese
wonton wrappers

Directions:

Assemble dip ingredients
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Mix ingredients
If serving as dip, spray and transfer to a baking dish making a thin (aka dip-able) layer.
If serving as cups, spray a muffin tin and layer dip on top of wonton wrappers.
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I think the alfredo made the mix really dip-able and not too thick. I freeze leftover spinach whenever I know I won’t get to all of it. I also threw in some frozen kale and I thought it was great. I put some basil in too. It gave a freshness and light taste.

Festivus Brunch

I thought you might need some eye candy on this Monday. Feast on this! I went to a brunch hosted by some fun ladies and I have to say, I was totally impressed. Not that I expected anything less from these gals who host some pretty rockin’ parties, but this was one for the lesson books. I think everyone can take some brunch pointers from them. It was so convenient that they had a brunch. At a time of year where there are get-togethers and cocktail parties all the time the brunch was really refreshing and fit into my schedule perfectly. Now, onto the lesson!

Rule 1: Choose quality products.

They had some high quality bread by the toaster rather than the expected bagels.
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The sky is the limit for the hot chocolate bar and they had all the best additions
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This strata had gruyere, mushrooms, and spinach. Wonderful choice of interesting ingredients!
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Rule 2: Know your strengths/Use what you have.

If you make fantastic quiches all the time, why not serve ‘em? This one is tomato, basil, goat cheese and is delectable!
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One of these ladies bakes regularly whipped up bakery-quality muffins and frosted them.
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Call in an expert to make their specialty dish. If you’ve ever had Mrs. P’s coffee cake you’d know what I was talkin’ about.
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Rule 3: Concentrate on a few special (yet do-able) distinctive touches.

Of course there was a butter snowflake
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Their resident baker has the best cake decorations…especially for gingerbread muffins
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They served a pretty memorable jam selection
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Rule 4: Keep ‘em happy with some variety

What a fun treat for a non-breakfast person? Also a beverage option for anyone not wanting to spike their cocoa/coffee.
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I missed photos of the bacon, tator tots, and ham and egg in a crockpot. See what I told ya about their variety!?!

P.S. I brought some ebilskiver with candycane centers!
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Fallish Potluck

Although Mother Nature seems mildly confused this fall in New England (it snowed before Halloween and was over 60-degrees in mid-November) and now we’re finally feeling some fall.  I’ve been sooo ready for fall food for awhile.

My office loves a good potluck (as seen here and here and here) and we chose fall foods just in time for Thanksgiving! I’m not sure what the difference between fall and Thanksgiving foods are though. It was really delicious. We had a FEAST and we were all ready for a nap afterwards.

I made a sweet potato puree with strusel on top. I was DYING to try it but thought the spoonful missing would be too obvious. It was very easy and would be a great addition to any meal, especially as a dish to make ahead of time or for anyone bringing a side. That recipe will follow soon!

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Wicked good Pumpkin Mac & Cheese with brussels sprouts and apple. Yes, you read that right. Genius move adding the brussels sprouts & apple!

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Orzo salad with spinach, tomatoes, and feta. This was fresh, and cool, and crisp…such great juxtaposition to everything else.
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Pumpkin Scones with Cinnamon Chips. I swoon over cinnamon chips. The scones absorbed the glaze and then we absorbed the scones.
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Cornbread Stuffing
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Apple Pie
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Cookie Ice Cream Sandwiches. Even the cookies were baked on site.
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It was all delicious and we may or may not have eaten and come back for seconds in true Thanksgiving style ;)

 

 

Rehearsal Dinner Feast

I’m back from my honeymoon with Mr. J. We loved Spain & Italy and had a completely perfect time. I can’t believe it is already over! I have lots to blog about so you’ll hear about it…all in good time.The rehearsal dinner got the wedding weekend really started. I didn’t really need practice eating dinner. I’ve pretty much got that down but it was so nice to relax all together after a stressful start to the rehearsal getting everyone there! We went to Sky which was right next to our hotel. Mr. Js parents hosted a really lovely evening for everyone.

Look at our chocolate puppy Mrs. S made! He looks just like Windsor! Loved it!
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We had a 3 course meal choice in a great size room to ourselves. The table was one huge table for the bridal party, parents, grandparents, significant others, and of course one bride-to-be, and one groom-to-be.

To start we had the choice of a Cesar salad or a wedge. I went with the wedge but forgot to get a shot of the Cesar…oops! The wedge had crumbled bacon, beefsteak tomatoes, and crisp onions. I thought it was great.
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Next I chose lobster mac & cheese. Ohh. My. Goodness. So sweet and buttery with consistently sizeable chunks of lobster. Yum.
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Mr. J had the NY Strip steak with beautiful grill marks. It came with roasted yukon potatoes and asparagus.
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The third choice was a Parmesan encrusted chicken with risotto and green beans.
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The chocolate dog wasn’t the only treat there…for dessert I had the vanilla creme brule and thought it was the perfect sweet treat to end the meal. I love creme brulee and know it isn’t something I could make at home.
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Mr. J had the Boston cream pie which was a modern construction. It was almost biscuit-like.

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Everything was great and we loved it. It was nice to be able to stroll back to the hotel before the big day!

Double Rainbow

The most recent theme for our office potluck was RAINBOW! We each picked a color and brought something in with that color. It was such a fun one. I have to admit I wasn’t daring enough to choose certain colors…ahem:blue:cough:purple.I chose RED and made Strawberry Bruschetta. Toasted French bread + cream cheese + strawberries + balsamic reduction topped off with a little basil. Yum. I highly recommend bringing this one to your next bbq or summer party. I hadn’t ever made a balsamic reduction but it was so easy and worked really well. I loved this. The idea came from Mrs. C. She did a balsamic and honey drizzle and used goat cheese.

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Orange was out sick that day.

YELLOW was Lemon Squares! They were gooey with a fantastic shortbread crust.
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GREEN was guacamole! Ms. C learned how to pit an avocado while making it too!
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BLUE was blue corn tortilla chips and even a special blue dip! The veggie dip had a touch of blue food coloring. What would you bring for blue? Seriously a tough one but we’ve had at least one dip at every potluck. ever.
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PURPLE was Thai Lettuce Wraps in Radicchio! Some were vegetarian with tofu and some had ground turkey. I love bean sprouts so these were really fun finished off with a sprinkle of peanuts. Purple also had a blackberry fizzy drink too.

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BROWN was chocolate from a friend dropping by. We stressed she didn’t need to bring anything but this was a creative little something.

Hope the rainbow has you inspired for something new or different. Another blog I love recently posted about a Grilled Appetizer Party which is a fantastic theme! The photos will have your mouth watering but don’t let that stop you if you’re trying to come up with a fun theme! What’s the next office potluck theme? Ohh just you wait…

Take Out Olympics

Sometimes I’m sure I have the most fun meals ever. Don’t be jealous, make this party happen!

Take Out Olympics are like a take-out potluck. Each guest spends the agreed upon amount on take out and everyone shares! It’s a fun way to get to know food in a new neighborhood, to try something new in the area, or for the host not to spend forever cooking! To make it Olympics you can add the requirement that it be international cuisine and vote on winners for categories of your choosing. You know how much I love to vote on food!

We did a relaxed version for lunch at the office. SO FUN! You can consider it olympic pre-trials if you wish. There was so much great food from all different places! We went with $10 for any cuisine you wanted.

I went to Boston Kebab House and went to the Meze Bar and got some fried zucchini fritters and some tortellini salad. There were so many great ones to choose and I spent $9.13. It came with my choice of wheat or plain pita. Now that it’s nicer out I’ll definitely stop here for lunch items.

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Ms. J got Mmmac & Cheese in Faneuil Hall. We sampled traditional and a beef one.

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Ms. M got chips and guac from Andale which I wasn’t aware is Zolcalo on the go! Unfortch the guacamole didn’t compete with somebody else’s guacamole. Our next Ms. K provided chips and quac from Boloco. Theirs won out because it was richer and they didn’t stretch the avocados too thin.

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Ms. K got us cheese quesidillas with chips and salsa from somewhere nearby, but we didn’t catch the name. Maybe they should remain nameless since they put the salsa onto the chips making them soggy.

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Mr. K went to Thai’s Bistro to get drunken noodles. They were deliciously spicy which I loved and now I know a good spot nearby.

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Not-my-Mr. J went to one of my local favorites, Sultan’s Kitchen. He got a chicken and rice dish with tomatoes.

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Mrs. A had a brilliant thought and got grilled cheeses from CheeseBoy! We had the classic and a tomato basil. Both were as good as I imagined though it seems tough to justify walking 15 minutes to get grilled cheese but I guess the cheapskate in me is OK with it since they’re less than $4.

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Ms. S spent her $10 the most creatively. She went to McDonald’s and got 10 $1 fry packets.

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Ms. C got us dessert at Bailey & Sage. She got strawberry fozen yogurt with oreos and coffee yogurt with heath bars. Amazeballs as she would say.

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It was really fun and actually an ideal amount of food. We were rudely interrupted by a fire alarm but it was wicked fun and a great introduction to some alternative restaurants right around us.

Picnic (Sans Ants)

Sis and I LOVE a good theme party. We were trying to think of something special for Mother’s Day this year. We thought for a half second about a picnic in the Arnold Aboretum for Lilac Sunday. This is apparently the only time a year you can picnic there. Sitting on the ground to eat there just because we can’t normally didn’t quite fit. Also, with the rain on Saturday, we weren’t convinced Mother Nature would play nice.

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That seems like a baby-stroller activity and nobody in our fam is quite there yet. It also kind of seems like something to take a mom to do if her children aren’t around.

We had a picnic at our parents’ house! The picnic theme was super fun and delicious.

We took inspiration from Bobby Flay since in his throwdowns he always tries to make the everyday a bit better or more special.

We served:
BLTs with pesto mayo and thick cut bacon
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Roast Beef Sandwiches with horseraddish dijon spread
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Tabouli since Mum doesn’t love macaroni salad as much as the average person.
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And pickles, fruit, and Cape Cod chips. I got some delectable treats from Lyndell’s Bakery since I didn’t acquire all the baking skill my mum has (and since I worked about 9 hours on Saturday).

I made a drink too:
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Ingredients:

4 cups lemonade (I used crystal light yellow)
4 cups zero calorie lime seltzer
1 lime sliced

Directions:

Prepare the lemonade as instructed. (I planned to use raspberry lemonade but was short on pitcher space since yellow was already made)
Mix chilled soda
Serve with lime slices (freezing lime bits into the ice would be very cute too)

Just add some cheap-o red baskets & napkins and you’ve got yourself an indoor picnic!

Wish me luck! By the time you see this I’ll be UBER close to the end of the production week and the start of my event. Watch out world, I become a whole new person after I rejoin society!