Sausage, Broccoli Rabe, & Orecchiette Pasta

When the temp starts heating up I automatically think about grilling foods though, anything that doesn’t use the oven works for this season. I always see this pasta dish on restaurant menus and figured it would be nice even on a warm night since the sauce is pretty light.

The Three Bite Rule - Orecchiette, Broccoli Rabe & Sausage Pasta

I don’t cook broccoli rabe often. I find it somewhat bitter but it was a good contrast in this one and anything that makes for a different dinner is nice.

Ingredients:

1/2 pound of orecchiette pasta
3 sausage links, casting removed (sweet Italian or spicy)
1 bunch broccoli rabe, outer leaves discarded
1/2 cup chicken or vegetable broth
1/4 cup Parmesan cheese

Directions:

Bring salted water to a boil for the pasta.
In a large pan over medium high heat, cook the sausage all the way through, breaking it into smaller pieces with the back of a wooden spoon.
Chop the broccoli rabe into chunks, discarding the ends.
Remove the sausage with a slotted spoon to drain on a paper towel.
Add the pasta to the water and cook according to the package.
In the same pan as the sausage, in the oil, saute the broccoli rabe for about 10 minutes, until mostly cooked through.
The Three Bite Rule - Orecchiette, Broccoli Rabe & Sausage Pasta
Add in the broth and sausage and cook for about 3 minutes on medium high heat, then reduce to low heat.
The Three Bite Rule - Orecchiette, Broccoli Rabe & Sausage Pasta
Ladle out a cup of the starchy pasta water and set aside. Drain the rest of the pasta and add the pasta into the pan with the sausage, broccoli rabe, and broth. Stir well and sprinkle in some parmesan and ground black pepper. (Taste before adding any salt since the broth, cheese, and sausage might be salty enough.) Add in a splash of pasta water if it is too dry.
The Three Bite Rule - Orecchiette, Broccoli Rabe & Sausage Pasta
Sprinkle with more parmesan and enjoy!

This shape pasta is so cute. I liked the really light touch of a sauce on here full of sausage flavor and some broth.
The Three Bite Rule - Orecchiette, Broccoli Rabe & Sausage Pasta

Chicken Meatball Alfredo with Cranberries

About a month ago, Mr. J and I left the little one at home with the most qualified babysitters (his grandparents) and we went on a date! It was our first time out without him and boy were we rusty on date planning. I had been eyeing a pub-ish restaurant with fun burgers and a great beer menu. Turns out, it is closed. womp. womp. We then went through 2 more options and set out for a 3rd spot. On a whim, we checked in at Isabella Restaurant (which was our 4th restaurant idea, where the wait can be an hour on a TUESDAY) and they just had a table for two open up. Perfect!

It is sooo dark in there so there’s never a chance for a photo but the menu is always creative, pretty seasonal, the portions are substantial, and everything they make is excellent. I wish it were a bit more affordable, but this splurge was fun to celebrate our first date out. I got Turducken Meatballs that were turkey/chicken/duck meatballs with dried cranberries, spinach and red onions in a parmesan cream sauce. The meatballs were ah-mazing and I knew I wanted to recreate it at home, but I simplified it. Don’t get scared off by the cranberries. They’re such a great addition and this pasta dish wouldn’t be the same without them. Ditto for the red onion.

The Three Bite Rule - Chicken Alfredo Meatballs
I used frozen chicken meatballs and ready-made alfredo sauce to turn my #restaurantrecreation into a speedy weeknight dinner. Everything cooks quickly so I had to move fast and keep an eye on it to not overcook anything. The meatballs I used were fully cooked and I didn’t want to obliterate the kale, onions, or cranberries so they were very lightly cooked.

Ingredients:

chicken/turkey meatballs (about 2-3 per person, I used frozen caramelized onion chicken meatballs)
1 15-oz jar alfredo sauce
refrigerated pasta (I used a 9 oz pkg of linguine)
1 tbs chopped garlic
2 cups chopped kale
1/4 cup red onion, sliced fine
1/4 cup dried cranberries

Directions:

Bring salted water to a boil for the pasta.
While the water heats, defrost the meatballs (if frozen) and chop the kale and onion.
Add the alfredo sauce to a large pan and add in the meatballs, garlic, onions, and kale over medium low heat. Cook for about 3-5 minutes, to warm everything and to cook the kale a bit.
The Three Bite Rule - Chicken Alfredo Meatballs
Stir, and add in the cranberries to cook for another 2 minutes.
The Three Bite Rule - Chicken Alfredo Meatballs
Cook the pasta according to the package. My fresh pasta only needed about 2 minutes. When al dente, add it to the pan with the sauce to cook just another minute or two.
The Three Bite Rule - Chicken Alfredo Meatballs
Serve immediately and enjoy!

The fresh pasta makes a huuuge difference and is a great touch for a special treat. I like that the onions add a bite with the cranberries providing a tang and touch of sweetness. Spinach or arugula would be good in here too instead of the kale. If I were going all out, I’d make the sauce (and meatballs) myself but throwing this together was just so easy but became different flavors for us. I doubt I’d think to use red onion.

Fun fact: if red onion is too strong or overwhelming, or if you’re using it raw, you can soak it in cold water for 3-5 minutes. It’ll tone it down a bit while still giving some flavor.

The Three Bite Rule - Chicken Alfredo Meatballs

BLT Pasta

After making the BLT Panini, I had some really good bacon leftover so I wanted to make something else fun with it. I have no trouble finding uses for it but I thought about adding it into a pasta and then decided to let it have the spotlight. Sundried tomatoes and spinach rounded out the BLT-ness of this and the sauce was really minimal. The minimal is good in this scenario since the 1980s are probably trying to reach me and take the sundried tomatoes back.

BLT Pasta - The Three Bite Rule

Ingredients:

6 slices of thick cut bacon
1/2 cup sundried tomatoes, sliced
3 cups baby spinach
1/2 pound pasta
2 tbs butter
1 tbs creamed cheese
1/4 cup milk
1/4 cup parmesan cheese

Directions:

Bring salted water to a boil for the pasta.
Pan fry the bacon until crisp in a large skillet, then remove and drain on paper towels. Remove from the heat and discard half the bacon grease (keeping half in the pan).
BLT Pasta - The Three Bite Rule
Cook the pasta to al dente according to the package.
Chop the sundried tomato and spinach to the size of your liking. I chopped the spinach just a bit and chopped the sundried tomatoes a lot.
BLT Pasta - The Three Bite Rule
Drain the pasta when cooked reserving a bit of the starchy water.
In the skillet with the bacon drippings, add in the butter and the cream cheese, melting over medium low heat. Add in the milk, pasta, sundried tomatoes, parmesan, spinach, salt & pepper.
BLT Pasta - The Three Bite Rule
Raise heat to medium and toss well to coat for 1-2 minutes. If it seems too dry, add in a splash of the cooking water.
BLT Pasta - The Three Bite Rule
Serve promptly & enjoy!

I liked the simplicity of this dinner. I didn’t want the spinach to disintegrate completely, just to warm a touch. I’m all about sundried tomatoes lately. Sometimes you just need to revisit something to remember what a fun tough it brings. Roasted cherry tomatoes would be good too.
BLT Pasta - The Three Bite Rule
In case you aren’t up on every. single. line. of Friends episodes…
Friends episode with sun dried tomatoes

Better Than Usual Stuffed Shells

It is officially time for maternity leave. “I’ll be back”. In the meantime, I have a few goodies to share out here in the blog-o-sphere until I come back. Enjoy!

I made stuffed shells before, but this time I made them better. Plus, I was stocking my freezer for newborn-time and planned to make these. They were great and such a freezer friendly food. They’re so much quicker than lasagna and I used one of my favorite secret ingredients.
The Three Bite Rule - Better Stuffed Shells

Ingredients:

1 pound jumbo shells
2 cups marinara sauce
1 egg
16 oz ricotta cheese
1 cup Parmesan cheese
1 pkg frozen creamed spinach
8 oz shredded mozzarella
1/3 cup fresh mozzarella (optional)

Directions:

Boil salted water for the shells. Cook until al dente as they’ll cook more when it bakes.
Mix together the ricotta, creamed spinach, and egg. Then add in the parmesan.
The Three Bite Rule - Better Stuffed Shells
Spread some marinara onto the bottom of a baking dish, first sprayed with non-stick spray.
Scoop some ricotta filling and spoon into each shell. Repeat to fill all the shells.
The Three Bite Rule - Better Stuffed Shells
Overlap as needed, or bake into multiple pans.
Spoon on some more marinara and chopped fresh mozzarella for each layer.
The Three Bite Rule - Better Stuffed Shells
Sprinkle shredded mozzarella onto the top and freeze (or bake to serve now).
The Three Bite Rule - Better Stuffed Shells
Keeps well in the freezer for 4-6 months. Defrost in the refrigerator overnight, then bake at 375-degrees for 45-60 minutes. If baking from frozen, bake about 80 minutes, or until warmed through.

The Three Bite Rule - Better Stuffed Shells
Needless to say, I loved the spinach in here. It would be a good source for whatever veggies you have to add (fresh chopped spinach, artichoke hearts, chopped sauteed zucchini, tomato chunks, etc) or with a meat sauce (or meatballs on the side, with crumbled Italian sausage sprinkled in, etc).

I made 2 dishes of this and reminded myself the baking instructions to eliminate all brainpower needed.

Ham and Cheese Rolled Rosetti

Now is when I should be sharing the deliciousness from my lovely baby shower. Somehow I didn’t take a single photo. I brought my camera and didn’t get photos of people OR of food. #amature It was really wonderful. I loved every minute. It was so nice to be surrounded, and supported by everyone. My mom made my favorites: punch; her caesar dressing; 2 quiches with eggs from their hens; pasta with optional baked shrimp (not optional for me!); brownies from scratch; real cheesecake with 2 topping options; butterscotch cookies shaped into ducks to take home. Yum. Loved it. Loved every minute and felt so loved. I can’t believe I didn’t take any photos with people!

Instead I do have a fun dinner to share. I saw these “rosetti” rolled lasagna on a Diners Drive-Ins, and Dives episode and thought it sounded so fun! Now, would be a good spot for the link but I can’t find it online. Pasta looking like roses? How cool is that?!?! I liked that it wasn’t traditional lasagna fillings either. It seemed like a good weeknight meal. Spoiler alert: it took a little bit longer to assemble than I planned. Easy and do-able but give yourself more wiggle room than I did!

Rosetti Ham & Cheese Rolls - The Three Bite Rule

Ingredients:

1/2 pound of curly lasagna noodles
1 1/2 cup tomato sauce
1 1/2 cup alfredo sauce
1/4 pound ham
1/4 pound fontina cheese

Directions:

Bring salted water to a boil for the pasta.
Warm the tomato and alfredo sauce together over low heat.
Preheat the oven to 375 degrees.
Cook the pasta according to the package, being careful not to overcook.
Chop the ham and cheese.
Lay out the pasta and top with ham and cheese.
Rosetti Ham & Cheese Rolls - The Three Bite Rule
Roll up each piece.
Rosetti Ham & Cheese Rolls - The Three Bite Rule
Spray a baking dish with non-stick spray.
Slice each roll in half.
Rosetti Ham & Cheese Rolls - The Three Bite Rule
Stand up each piece with the flat edge down into the dish.
Rosetti Ham & Cheese Rolls - The Three Bite Rule
Spoon sauce over the top.
Rosetti Ham & Cheese Rolls - The Three Bite Rule
Bake for 15 minutes.
Then broil for 5 minutes.
Rosetti Ham & Cheese Rolls - The Three Bite Rule
Reduce heat to 350 and top with the rest of the cheese. Bake until the cheese melts.
Rosetti Ham & Cheese Rolls - The Three Bite Rule
I loved this. It was cheesy and lightly tomato-y. I’ve made lasagna rolls which felt like a pain with no benefit. These were fun and really easy. I liked that the flavors were different and it didn’t take hours to make. The assembly didn’t really take too long but I didn’t have everything chopped and ready for when the pasta was ready. Don’t be like me…it isn’t that much to chop.

Pumpkin Mac & Cheese with Gouda & Brown Butter Sauce

I wanted to spread out the pumpkin goodies. Sometimes it gets overdone when November is jam-packed with only pumpkin baked goods, drinks, and goodies. I also wanted some great cheese in there.

The Three Bite Rule - Pumpkin Mac & Cheese

Ingredients:

1/2 stick of butter
1/2 cup flour
3/4 cup milk
1/2 pound pasta (I used penne)
1 cup shredded gouda
1 1/2 cup pumpkin
1/2 tsp pumpkin pie spice (or a mix of cinnamon, ginger, nutmeg)
1 cup shredded Monterey jack
1/2 stick of butter
2/3 cup of breadcrumbs
1/4 cup Parmesan cheese

Directions:

Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil.
In a large saucepan, melt butter over medium heat until it foams, and then starts to brown.
Add in the flour and stir well as it forms a paste. Then add in the milk and cook for another 2 minutes.
The Three Bite Rule - Pumpkin Mac & Cheese
Cook the pasta until al dente.
Preheat the oven to 350-degrees.
Add in the grated gouda and pumpkin.
Drain the pasta and mix together with the sauce, and jack cheese.
The Three Bite Rule - Pumpkin Mac & Cheese
Spray a baking dish with non-stick spray and spoon in the pumpkin mac and cheese.
The Three Bite Rule - Pumpkin Mac & Cheese
Melt butter and mix in the breadcrumbs and parmesan cheese.
Top with the crumb topping and bake for 20 minutes. Broil the last 2 minutes if it hasn’t browned enough.
The Three Bite Rule - Pumpkin Mac & Cheese
This was subtly pumpkin but had great fall flavors that were far enough away from everyday mac & cheese to feel fun. The brown butter sauce added a nuttiness and the parmesan on top was a good salt component.

I had more sauce than the quantities above so I froze the rest. Someday it’ll be insta-pumpkin-mac. It was pretty thick and I may add some chicken stock to thin it out a bit. That helps mac & cheese have real flavor without being milky without highlighting the cheese.

The Three Bite Rule - Pumpkin Mac & Cheese

Sundried Tomato Pasta with Chicken

Let’s talk about this one-pot wonder. I hadn’t marinated the chicken and was afraid it wouldn’t have enough flavor. News flash: it was flavorful and juicy and the pre-made sundried tomato pesto kicked the sauce onto a whole other level.

The Three Bite Rule - Sundried Tomato Pasta with Chicken
I don’t blog pasta too often because it is more of a go-to for an unplanned meal for me but this was so good as were the leftovers! The chicken was the perfect reminder that even without any advance prep, dinner can be ready really easily.

Ingredients: (makes 5-6 servings)

6 chicken tenders
2 tbs Italian seasoning
1 1/2 cup tomato sauce
1/2 cup sundried tomato pesto
1 tbs chopped garlic
3/4 cup water
1/2 cup half and half
1/2 box pasta
salt & pepper

Directions:

Season the chicken tenders.
In a large pan, cook the chicken over medium heat for ~10 minutes with a drizzle of olive oil. Flipping regularly to cook through.
The Three Bite Rule - Sundried Tomato Pasta with Chicken
Remove the chicken from the pan, and slice the chicken into small pieces.
Add the tomato sauce, sundried tomato pesto, garlic
The Three Bite Rule - Sundried Tomato Pasta with Chicken
Mix well, add in the water, cream, and the pasta.
The Three Bite Rule - Sundried Tomato Pasta with Chicken
Cover and cook for 10 minutes.
Stir and add the chicken back in.
Cook another 3-5 minutes (or until the pasta is cooked to your liking).

The Three Bite Rule - Sundried Tomato Pasta with Chicken
I liked the tweak on regular tomato pasta for this. The sundried tomato pasta is a fun condiment to have on hand and is easier than chopping sundried tomato pieces. It was toned down a bit with the tomato sauce. It was so good and would be good without the chicken.

Roasted Red Pepper Romanesco Sauce

The last time we ordered pizza our specialty pie had roasted red peppers on it. It made me think, woah, that’s an ingredient I guess I assumed Mr. J wasn’t into, annnnnd it is a veggie I don’t use often. That was all about to change.

I was aided when I scored 3 red peppers in the clearance produce for $0.68. Insane! The peppers were fine if used in about 5-7 days. They weren’t squishy or shriveled at all.

The Three Bite Rule - Romanesco Sauce

Ingredients:

(sauce yields 4+ servings)
3 red bell peppers (or double the jarred roasted red peppers)
2 medium tomatoes
1/2 jar roasted red peppers
2 tbs minced garlic
1/3 cup toasted pine nuts or toasted walnuts
1/4 cup Parmesan cheese
1 tbs lemon juice
3-4 tbs olive oil
2 tsp heavy cream (optional)
pasta

Directions:

Preheat the oven to 400-degrees.
Half the tomatoes and fresh red peppers. Brush or drizzle with olive oil and bake for 20 minutes.
Flip once and bake another 10 minutes.
Remove and put into a plastic bag, or cover with plastic wrap for 5 minutes then release the steam and pull off the skin.
In a food processor, blend all the red peppers, tomatoes, garlic, parmesan cheese, nuts, lemon juice, and olive oil.
The Three Bite Rule - Romanesco Sauce
Blend 30 seconds to a minute.
The Three Bite Rule - Romanesco Sauce
Bring salted water to boil for the pasta.
Scoop out the sauce in a large skillet over medium low heat. Add cream, or some starchy pasta water.
The Three Bite Rule - Romanesco Sauce
Toss the pasta with the sauce.
The Three Bite Rule - Romanesco Sauce
I liked this a lot. It had a great flavor to make dinner feel a bit different. The sauce was thick and a bit textured (from the nuts). I love sauce so it was great to me, or you can blend more for a more silky sauce that would stick to the pasta a bit less.

I think the sauce has great potential for a ton of uses. It would be good on a sandwich, panini, or wrap. I’d like it on pizza too. It would definitely be a fun twist on bruschetta.

Caprese Mac & Cheese

This will be a light week here on The Three Bite Rule until after labor day. I feel like everyone really has the mentality that there’s only a short time to make the most of the end of summer. Summer food isn’t over but September is fast approaching!

I have been looooving the 70-degree days we’ve been having here in New England. I like being able to turn the oven on occasionally. I made some Caprese Mac & Cheese with the plethora of cherry tomatoes from the garden.

The Three Bite Rule - Caprese Mac & Cheese

Ingredients:

1/2 pound penne rigate
4 tbs butter, and another 2 tbs for topping
1/2 cup flour
1/2 cup low-fat milk
1/2 cup heavy cream
1 cup gruyere cheese
1 1/2 cup cheddar cheese
1 1/2 – 2 cups cherry tomatoes
1/2 tsp garlic powder
1 tsp dijon mustard (optional)
salt & pepper
1 cup seasoned bread crumbs
1/2 tsp dried basil
2 tbs parmesan cheese (optional)

Directions:

Preheat the oven to 350-degrees.
Bring a large pot of salted water to boil and cook the pasta to al dente.
In a medium sauce pan melt 4 tbs butter over medium heat, then add the flour and whisk together cooking for about 5 minutes.
Add in the milk and cream and stir well over medium low heat until combined.
Drop the tomatoes onto a sheet pan and drizzle with olive oil and a sprinkle of sea salt. Up the oven temp to a broil and cook them for 5 minutes being careful not to let them burn.
The Three Bite Rule - Caprese Mac & Cheese
Slowly add in 3/4 of the cheese and stir.
The Three Bite Rule - Caprese Mac & Cheese
Add salt, pepper, garlic powder, and mustard.
Mix in the pasta to the cheese sauce.
The Three Bite Rule - Caprese Mac & Cheese
Spray a baking dish with nonstick spray and spoon in 1/2 the mac & cheese.
Sprinkle 1/2 the basil and 1/2 the tomatoes and 1/2 the remaining cheese.
The Three Bite Rule - Caprese Mac & Cheese
Repeat another layer on top of pasta, basil, tomatoes, and cheese.
The Three Bite Rule - Caprese Mac & Cheese
Melt the remaining 2 tbs of butter and mix with breadcrumbs, parmesan, and dried basil.
Sprinkle on top and bake for 40 minutes.
The Three Bite Rule - Caprese Mac & Cheese
I liked the light flavored cheeses allowing the tomatoes and basil to pop. It felt summery even if mac & cheese isn’t truly a summer dish. I also was proud that the tomatoes and basil were home-grown.
The Three Bite Rule - Caprese Mac & Cheese

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!!