Veggie-Loaded Baked Pasta

I was wanting something beyond pasta with sauce and was thinking I’d make some tweaks to up the veggie quotient. I used wheat pasta. Gasp! I never do that. Never. This was a good spot to do so. You can’t even tell here – otherwise, I really wouldn’t have.
The Three Bite Rule - Veggie Baked Pasta

Veggie-Loaded Baked Pasta

Ingredients (for 5-6 servings):

28 oz can Kitchen Ready tomatoes
1 tablespoon Italian seasoning
2 teaspoons minced garlic
1/4 sweet potato (fully cooked)
1 large zucchini, diced
1/2 pound wheat pasta (penne, ziti, rigatoni)
2 cups fresh spinach
2 cups shredded mozzarella
1/4 cup ricotta

Directions:

Preheat the oven to 400-degrees.
In a large pot, add in the canned tomatoes, Italian seasoning, garlic, and mashed sweet potato. Bring to a simmer, then reduce the heat to low.
Chop then roast the zucchini in a single layer on a sheet pan, drizzled with olive oil for 20-30 minutes – until golden. Stir a few times & leave the oven on.
Bring salted water to a boil for the pasta. Then cook to al dente, according to the package. When cooked, mix about a cup of the tomato sauce into the pasta.
Spray a baking dish with non-stick spray. Spoon a cup of sauce onto the bottom, add a 1/3 of the pasta, then sprinkle with spinach and zucchini.
The Three Bite Rule - Veggie Baked Pasta
Sprinkle with 1/3 of the mozzarella and a few spoonfuls of ricotta.
The Three Bite Rule - Veggie Baked Pasta
Spoon half of the remaining pasta on top, then add remaining spinach, remaining zucchini, half of the shredded mozzarella, and remaining ricotta.
Top with remaining pasta and some more sauce (reserve the remaining mozzarella for the last few minutes of baking).
The Three Bite Rule - Veggie Baked Pasta
Bake 40 minutes, covered.
Remove the cover, top with remaining cheese, and bake about 5 more minutes, until melted.
The Three Bite Rule - Veggie Baked Pasta
Let sit for 5-10 minutes before serving. Enjoy!

I loved this! Count ‘em: sweet potato; spinach; zucchini. Plus wheat pasta. It is delightfully cheesy and flavorful without seeming veggie focused. The sweet potato thickened the sauce and added a bit of sweetness. It was leftover from the little one and I popped it into the freezer awhile back…not even sure what I was going to do with it!
The Three Bite Rule - Veggie Baked Pasta

Lasagna Rolls

I make lasagnas at least once a year, and make enough to have it several times. This time, I made it as roll ups and loved how beautifully portioned it was! I made 1- 9×12 lasagna and 2- 9×9 pans of lasagna rolls. One dish of lasagna rolls got slated to my very awesome friend who is now a mom of infant twins with 2 bigger boys. The fam could prob could use freezer food, right?

The Three Bite Rule - Lasagna Rolls
I made my own pasta this time too! It was so easy since it only takes the rolling on my Kitchenaid, and no cutting. I cleared a ton of room on the kitchen island and spread these out. I rolled the dough on the mixer, cut them a bit, cooked them, and then let them cool enough for the filling. I’ll totally make my own again!

Here are my other lasagnas, if rolls aren’t your thing: Traditional Lasagna or Lasagna Soup or Butternut Squash Lasagna or White Lasagna w/ Chicken & Spinach.

Ingredients:

1 pound lasagna noodles, cooked (not the “no-cook” or “oven-ready” variety this time)
8 oz ricotta
1 egg
1/3 cup chopped Parsley, Oregano, Basil or Arugula
1 cup mozzarella
~1 1/2 cups ground meat (optional)
1 cup tomato sauce (I like Pastene Kitchen Ready Tomatoes + a tablespoon of tomato paste + tablespoon Italian Seasoning)
(additional sprinkle of cheese after it bakes)

Directions:

Prep the meat, cooking through and seasoning with salt & pepper if including meat. Mix together the ricotta, egg, and herbs.
Lay out the pasta and spread the ricotta & herb mixture and top with mozzarella & meat mixture. Be sure to get the filling spread pretty evenly in a thin layer.
The Three Bite Rule - Lasagna Rolls
Add on the cooked ground meat, if using any.
Gently roll up from one end to the other. Aim for each roll to be about 2 inches high, any bigger and it’ll be a massive serving. Then place into a baking dish sprayed with nonstick spray.
The Three Bite Rule - Lasagna Rolls
Top with sauce and freeze (or bake to eat right away).
The Three Bite Rule - Lasagna Rolls
When serving, bake frozen lasagna rolls for 75 minutes at 350, adding additional cheese on the top for the last 5 minutes. Or let lasagna rolls defrost over night, or for 24 hours and then bake for 45 minutes with cheese for the last 5 minutes.
The Three Bite Rule - Lasagna Rolls
The pan I’ll bring to my friend was in a disposable heavy-duty pan. I topped it with sauce and covered it in plastic wrap. It has a plastic cover where I labeled what it is with heating instructions but that flimsy plastic cover isn’t great in the freezer, thus, why I go with plastic wrap. I gave more instructions than necessary, but hey- nobody wants a baked plastic-wrap fiasco when getting dinner ready for the little ones! Here are other food ideas to bring to parents of a newborn.

I seriously love lasagna, so I was very happy with these cheesy lasagna rolls. I’m the biggest lasagna fan in the house, so I was probably more into them than anyone else. Plus, we had just had regular lasagna a few weeks prior. I tried to spread ‘em out, but I also attempt to have at least 1 meal per week that is from a freezer stockpile of batch-cooking. I believe there’s also a chicken pot pie hanging out just waiting on me to call it into the line up!

Quick Tomato Basil Gnocchi

Gnocchi is a fav to have stashed in the freezer for speedy dinners, such as this! I made a really quick sauce and really focused on this dinner being meatless and flavorful!
The Three Bite Rule - Tomato & Basil Gnocchi

Ingredients:

1 cup grape or cherry tomatoes
17 oz frozen gnocchi
2 tablespoons butter
1 teaspoon garlic
1 tablespoon cream cheese
1/4 cup chicken or veggie stock
1 tablespoon basil, chopped
Parmesan

Directions:

Drizzle the tomatoes with olive oil and sprinkle with salt and pepper then roast in a 400-degree oven for 15 minutes, until they blister and pop.
The Three Bite Rule - Tomato & Basil Gnocchi

Boil salted water and add in the gnocchi. Cook until they float.
In a large skillet, melt butter and add garlic, and cream cheese to a medium heat. Bring to a simmer and add in the tomatoes and the gnocchi when cooked.
The Three Bite Rule - Tomato & Basil Gnocchi
Simmer and stir in the basil. Cook for about 5 minutes to thicken and reduce a little.
The Three Bite Rule - Tomato & Basil Gnocchi
Serve with a sprinkle of parmesan.
The Three Bite Rule - Tomato & Basil Gnocchi
I loved the slight creaminess from the cream cheese but the lightness from the broth. I think this is a good trick to keep up my sleeve!

Tip 1: use a slotted spoon to scoop the gnocchi out, then there’s no colander to clean. Tip 2: I had a bit too much sauce so I used the slotted spoon to dish the pasta so the excess sauce stayed in the pan.

Crockpot Meatballs

My little one is 2 years old! How did that happen so quickly?! For his birthday dinner we made his favorites: pasta, meatballs, and cake! I made meatballs to cook in the sauce which was a first for me. I mixed them, balled ‘em up, and dropped them into the sauce to cook on their own. They were great!!

The Three Bite Rule - Crockpot Meatballs
I normally like the crispy exterior of cooking meatballs, and I thought I might miss that. These turned out very juicy from cooking in the sauce. I was relieved they stayed together and would totally make them this way again. These meatballs being pork meant that there wasn’t excess oil that I’d expect if they were beef.

Ingredients:

1 pound ground pork
3 links Sweet Italian Sausage
1 cup breadcrumbs
2/3 cup milk
2 tablespoons garlic
1/4 cup Parmesan cheese
1 1/2 cup baby Arugula, chopped
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon garlic powder
3 cups tomato sauce

Directions:

Mix together the breadcrumbs and the milk, then add all the ingredients into a bowl.
The Three Bite Rule - Crockpot Meatballs
Using your hands, mix everything together until well incorporated.
Roll into balls about 1.5 inches wide. Add into a crockpot with tomato sauce.
The Three Bite Rule - Crockpot Meatballs
Cook on high for 2.5 hours. Stir occasionally.
Enjoy!

The Three Bite Rule - Crockpot Meatballs
Meatballs are always a hit here. We all liked them and I’m glad to have some leftovers. These could cook on the stovetop too, rather than the crockpot. The size of the crockpot was great for 1 even layer of cooking though.

Speedy Dinner: Pasta with Chicken Sausage in Ricotta

‘Tis the season to totally need speedy dinners! This pasta dish involved so few ingredients. I often want leftovers for the little one, or for Mr. J to take for lunch, or for the night of the week that is “anything goes” on our menu- other times I know we just won’t get to it so I’d rather not have any left!
The Three Bite Rule - Ricotta Pasta
Need a bigger serving? Add in another sausage and some more pasta.

Ingredients: (for ~4 servings)

1/3 pound of pasta
3 chicken sausages
1 cup roasted red peppers, sliced
1 cup ricotta

Directions:

Boil salted water for the pasta.
In a large skillet, pan fry the chicken sausages (either whole, or sliced) to golden brown (about 5 minutes, flipping. Most chicken sausages come fully cooked so check your packaging and cook through if using a raw product).
The Three Bite Rule - Ricotta Pasta
Add in the roasted red peppers just to warm through.
Drain the pasta when cooked al dente and add into the skillet or into a large bowl with the sausage and red peppers. Stir in the ricotta until coated and warmed.
The Three Bite Rule - Ricotta Pasta
Enjoy!

The Three Bite Rule - Ricotta Pasta

I loved the ricotta serving as a cheesy sauce without many ingredients. There are tons of ways to customize this so have at it!
+ pesto
+ other roasted veggies/olives/etc
- chicken sausage and use roasted chicken or go meatless!
- cook in brown butter and serve with a dollop of ricotta instead of serving it mixed in!

Garlic Parmesan Mac & Cheese

This Garlic Parmesan Mac & Cheese is not joking about the garlic. I loooove homemade mac and cheese and the garlic flavor was so great! The little one hasn’t been interested in boxed Mac & Cheese but he loved this! He has good taste!

The Three Bite Rule - Garlic Parmesan Mac & Cheese

Ingredients:

4 tablespoons butter +2 tablespoons for topping
3-4 tablespoons flour
1/2 cup chicken/vegetable broth
1 cup heavy cream
1 cup milk
1 teaspoon fresh garlic
1/2 pound pasta (elbows, shells, spirals, penne)
1 cup shredded white cheddar cheese (+2 tablespoons for baking)
1 cup shredded gruyere (or fontina/provolone/gouda)
1/2 cup grated Parmesan (+2 tablespoons for topping)
1 cup Panko breadcrumbs (mine were seasoned)
1 cup fried onions, broken up
1/2 teaspoon garlic powder

Directions:

In a medium pot, melt the butter and stir in the flour. Cook for 3-4 minutes stirring the roux paste regularly.
Bring a large pot of salted water to boil.
Pour in the chicken broth to the roux and stir well to combine. Then add the cream, milk, and garlic, bringing to a low boil.
Add in the cheddar, gruyere, Parmesan, salt, and pepper.
The Three Bite Rule - Garlic Parmesan Mac & Cheese
Cook the pasta until al dente & drain – return the pasta to the large empty pot.
Stir well as the cheese melts.
The Three Bite Rule - Garlic Parmesan Mac & Cheese
Add cheese sauce into the pasta, stirring to assess how much more is needed (I had some sauce leftover that I froze).
The Three Bite Rule - Garlic Parmesan Mac & Cheese
Spray a baking dish with non-stick spray and pre-heat the oven to 375-degrees.
Spoon half the pasta into the dish. Sprinkle the cheddar in the middle, then pour the remaining pasta on top.
The Three Bite Rule - Garlic Parmesan Mac & Cheese
Bake for 15 minutes while prepping the topping.
Melt the 2 tablespoons of remaining butter and mix in the panko, the fried onions, remaining parmesan, and garlic powder.
The Three Bite Rule - Garlic Parmesan Mac & Cheese
Sprinkle the topping onto the mac & cheese and return to the oven for another 15 minutes.
The Three Bite Rule - Garlic Parmesan Mac & Cheese
Let sit for 5 minutes before serving. Enjoy!

I loved this. It has been awhile since I made some homemade mac & cheese. The topping was awesome and was kind of an afterthought. I happened upon the Frenches Fried Onions near the panko and thought it’d be perfect. They were!
The Three Bite Rule - Garlic Parmesan Mac & Cheese

Pad Thai with Chicken or Shrimp

I’m so glad I made this and that I tried! It seemed like something I should leave to the pros, but DO IT! It was so easy and I’ll totally make it again. Mr. J has recently gotten into pad thai and that’s precisely what inspired me to make it at home. That, and some shrimp in the freezer who gave me a little nudge. Also these noodles cook so quickly – everything I need for a weeknight meal! Who doesn’t looove a meal that gets all. the. toppings.

Shrimp Pad Thai - The Three Bite Rule

Ingredients:

6 shrimp & 2 chicken tenders
1 package (9 oz) Refrigerated Asian-Style Noodles (that’s what they’re actually called – in the produce area – mine were soba but “Chinese Style” were sold out)
1 red pepper, chopped into match sticks
1 egg
1/4 cup brown sugar
1/4 cup soy sauce
3 tablespoons rice vinegar
1 1/2 tablespoons lime juice
2 tablespoons fish sauce
1 tablespoon minced garlic
1-2 cups bean sprouts
chopped cilantro, to taste
chopped peanuts, to taste
wedge of lime

Directions:

Boil salted water for the noodles.
Pan saute the chicken with salt and pepper over medium heat until cooked through in a large pan. Remove from the heat and quickly cook the chicken. Remove from the heat and set aside.
Mix together the sauce: brown sugar; soy sauce; rice vinegar; lime juice; fish sauce; and garlic. Whisk and set aside.
Saute the red pepper and when partway cooked, move to the outside and scramble the egg in the middle.
Shrimp Pad Thai - The Three Bite Rule
When the egg cooks, add in the bean spouts and cooked noodles – straight from the water once they’re done – save washing a colander!
Shrimp Pad Thai - The Three Bite Rule
Bring to medium heat and add in the sauce. Cook for about 3 minutes tossing to coat well.
Shrimp Pad Thai - The Three Bite Rule
Shred the chicken and mix in. Add the shrimp in and toss well (or serve the protein on the top).
Serve with chopped peanuts, cilantro, and lime. Enjoy!
Shrimp Pad Thai - The Three Bite Rule
Omg. So good! My noodles were too thick (think soba, not uber thin). The sauce was sooo delightful. It was perfect. I was afraid it might be drippy or something. It was spot-on.

SPOT-ON!

We’ll totally have this again. Mr. J was pretty pumped! The babe loves slurping long noodles and we love seeing that! I realized while writing this that ‘poon was coming out in my head…toddler talk is real. Anywho, The peanuts, cilantro, and lime maaaaaade this. I love toppings! I don’t pretend to know what authentic pad thai is like, but this beats take-out!

Herb & Yogurt Marinated Chicken over Orzo

Tomatoes were sort of a bust this year…we had a culprit nabbing them and the latest ones aren’t getting ripe. Herbs on the other hand…are going like GANG-BUSTERS. I wanted to highlight a few so they became part of my marinade. We grilled the chicken and I served it over some pretty basic orzo…like butter/tomatoes/basil/salt & pepper. The babe loved both the “chick-ken” and was thrilled to have his own bowl of orzo. It kind of was all over him, but Orzo-man was worth it.

Herb Marinated Chicken over Orzo - The Three Bite Rule

I kept the yogurt-ness going with a tzatiki-like sauce to go with it. I don’t have any dill and I wasn’t about to buy more fresh herbs right now so I improvised with mint & oregano. Yay for all. the. herbs. Let’s count ‘em: basil, oregano, mint, & lemon thyme.

Ingredients:

6 oz plain Greek yogurt
2 tablespoons Greek or Italian Dressing
2 tablespoons milk
2 tablespoons each: oregano & thyme
5-6 boneless, skinless chicken thighs
1 tablespoon each: mint & basil
1 teaspoon lemon juice
1 teaspoon garlic
1/4 cucumber, with the seeds removed, diced or shredded
1/2 pound of orzo
1 tomato, chopped
1 teaspoon butter

Directions:

Mix together the 3/4 of the yogurt, milk, oregano, thyme, and add the chicken to marinade for at least 30 minutes. Mine marinated for ~2.5 hours.
Herb_marinated_chick_590_390
Meanwhile, mix together the cucumber, yogurt, mint, oregano, lemon juice, and garlic. Then refrigerate until serving.
herb_marinated_tzaiki_390_390
Grill the chicken until cooked through.
While the chicken is cooking, boil water for the orzo and cook according to the package (probably 8-10 minutes).
Toss together the orzo, butter, tomato and once it cools a bit, add the basil.
Herb Marinated Chicken over Orzo - The Three Bite Rule
Serve the chicken over a bed of orzo, topped with the cucumber yogurt sauce.
Enjoy!
Herb Marinated Chicken over Orzo - The Three Bite Rule

Margarita Pasta Salad

I road tested this pasta salad out and turned it into a meal by making it a vehicle for taco salads. It features flavors of a margarita, lime, with a touch of salt. I heard a tip of tossing the pasta in vinegar while it cools so I wanted to try it out. I think it works a bit, I don’t know that is changes the pasta salad to out of this world, but it totally has more flavor than many run-of-the-mill pasta salads.
The Three Bite Rule - Margarita Pasta Salad
Ingredients:
1/2 pound rotini pasta
3 tablespoons apple cider vinegar
1/2 cup mayonnaise
1/4 cup sour cream
1/3 cup margarita mix
1/4 teaspoon chili powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 tomato chopped
1 cup roasted corn
1/2 cucumber
Green onions, chopped
fresh lime squeezed & zested (optional)

Directions:
Boil the pasta and drain then toss with the apple cider vinegar. Refrigerate at least 30 minutes before dressing it.
Whisk together the mayo, sour cream, margarita mix, chili powder, and salt.
The Three Bite Rule - Margarita Pasta Salad
If the pasta hasn’t completely chilled, then cover the dressing and mix later. If the pasta has already been chilled, then toss in the dressing.
Add in the veggies and herbs.
The Three Bite Rule - Margarita Pasta Salad
Enjoy!

I think this would be great at a BBQ. I think it could have had more lime-ness. Next time I’ll juice a lime and zest it up. We topped them with taco-salad toppings like taco meat, avocado, and salsa. It was great for a bit of change from the usual taco salad. I used up some taco meat from the freezer and it involved very minimal cooking…many birds, one stone!
The Three Bite Rule - Margarita Pasta Salad

What I Ate: Peanut Sesame Noodles

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.

I totally didn’t make this up by any means but there are lots of recipes out there. This is great warm or cold and for a very “pantry” dinner it is per-fect for those too-hot-to-be-creative or meals on a budget or what-the-heck-is-for-dinner meals. I wasn’t going to blog it, because hello, I’m sure you’ve seen this before or can find it 1,000 places. Every time I make something new and decide not to blog it I regret it. So, here’s a blogged the minute before taking a bite:

The Three Bite Rule - Peanut Sesame Noodles
I mixed it right in the bowl I served it in. This is real life. Whisk together the sauce and mess with the ratios to your taste. I used this recipe to start with. I had to share it because it was tasty and we ate every last noodle and the little guy, who was finishing dinner gobbled up a bunch of this!

Ingredients:
Spaghetti
Peanut butter
Soy sauce
Sesame Oil
rice vinegar
minced ginger
minced garlic
tiny bit of sriracha
sesame seeds & green onion to garnish

Directions:
Boil salted water for the pasta.
Whisk together peanut butter, soy sauce, sesame oil, rice vinegar, ginger, garlic, and sriracha.
Cook the pasta to al dente.
Mix most of the sauce into the pasta. Toss and add remaining sauce.
Enjoy!

The Three Bite Rule - Peanut Sesame Noodles

It was mild but additive. Interesting but comforting. Silky but with a small crunch. So good. I used black sesame seeds I recently re-descovered from sis’ trip to Japan a while back. I’d have loved sliced cucumber, chopped peanuts, and edemame on the side. Tonight it was just this and that was lovely.

I will absolutely make this again to munch with Mr. J while we watch the little one slurp long noodles beaming with pride when the whole thing makes it into his mouth.