What I Ate: Salad Bar

Well, we’ve made it to Friday! Somehow it always seems like an accomplishment. A wise gal, Ms. D, told me “I like to call it big Friday. Thursday is like little Friday.” I like that.

I’ve been really into salads for dinner so I wanted to throw this idea your way. We like salad bar dinner to each customize and because it’s all the fun stuff at the salad bar that make it fun food. Toppings to a sundae.
3 Bite Rule - Salad Bar
There’s nothing super crazy in this bar, but it’s a good use for leftovers!

What I Ate: Antipasto

The Italian salad ‘antipasto’ itself means before the meal. Well, this was THE meal. I chose some meats, cheeses, and paired them with veggies. I made my own croutons and drizzled a balsamic reduction.
Antipasto Salad
This was a perfect dinner on a hot night. I’m trying to be conscious about adding some easier, less strenuous meals. Sometimes I burn myself out by trying to one-up my own meals

every.
single.
day.

This is really where this What I Ate series came from. Easy things that aren’t worth blogging are good too. I always have a soft spot for an easy meal that can just highlight quality ingredients. I feel like Joey eating Rachel’s trifle/shepard’s pie. Fresh mozzarella? good! gouda? good! english cucumbers? good! pepperoni? good!
Rachel’s Dessert

This is also a great belated tribute to my Dad’s bday. He can’t cook much but his antipasti are out of this world!

Corn, Avocado, and Cuke Salad

I have a brief (but delicious) one for you today. I just got back from San Fran and have a lot of catching up to do. I made this side salad for Father’s day since my dad is all about the avocados recently. It is a bit delayed but couldn’t be more perfect for the crazy heat we’re having here on the East Coast (San Fran, not so much). I liked it as an easy alternative for a veggie side.

Ingredients:

2 cups corn
1 large cucumber (I used an English cuke so I didn’t have to peal it and there would be some dark green)
1 avocado
2 tbs chives (or green onions)
2 tbs Italian salad dressing
dash of salt

Directions:

Cook corn and roast corn slightly (roasting = optional).
corn roasting for corn/avocado/cuke salad
Chop cucumber, avocado, and chives.
Combine dressing with all the chopped ingredients and serve immediately.
corn avocado cuke salad thethreebiterule.com
Tip: leave out the avocado until serving but the rest can be prepped earlier that day
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I like the color and textures in this one. I would have been tempted to throw in some tomatoes if I had any around. The chives came from my garden and yes, they are the only edible thing growing right now. I’m crossing my fingers for my tomato plant that seems to be rockin’ some green future-tomatoes.

I think it also lends itself well to a Mexican meal or if you have an abundance of fresh corn this summer! It is light and cool so serve it at your next bbq and throw any leftovers into a quesadilla or onto your salad or dip into it with chips.

What I Ate: Couscous

To continue this What I Ate series, I have a fun side for you.

This was a perfect summer meal. Marinated grilled chicken and couscous packed with veggies. I loved the flavor and was really jazzed about the couscous as a side. It might not look extra special but it was just right.
what I ate : couscous
I cooked the couscous as I normally would but I roasted tomatoes while the couscous was cous-ing. I added the roasted tomatoes, and spinach I chopped up as if it were an herb. Worked like a charm to use a somewhat small amount of leftover spinach and “hide” it in a way. I added a touch of butter and Dijon. Perfect!

Ingredients:
Israeli couscous
10 grape tomatoes
1-2 cups spinach, cut chiffonade
1 tbs butter (or 2 if you’re being real)
1 tbs dijon mustard

Hail Caesar

My sis was coming over for dinner and I was trying to think what would be a good idea for her first meal from my new kitchen. I thought of her love of chicken Caesar salad and decided to tweak it a bit. I made it into a pizza!
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It didn’t come out perfectly but I’m still getting acclimated to my new oven. It went from not done to quite crispy in just a minute. I made the Caesar dressing earlier in the day and marinated chicken breast pieces in some dressing.

Caesar Dressing:

Ingredients:
4 garlic cloves
2 tbs mustard
1 tbs white vinegar
2 tbs mayo
2/3 cup olive oil
1 tbs lemon juice
¼ tsp ground black pepper
1 tbs Parmesan cheese

Directions:

Combine garlic, mustard, vinegar, and mayo in a blender.
Slowly stream in olive oil and lemon juice until blended completely.
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Transfer to a jar and mix in pepper and cheese by hand.
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Refrigerate at least 2 hours before serving.

Caesar Pizza

Ingredients:
1 pizza dough ball
¼ cup pesto
1 cup mozzarella shredded
1-2 hearts of romaine
2 chicken breast (marinated in Caesar dressing), grilled and sliced
¼ cup Parmesan cheese
1 cup croutons (optional)

Directions:

Preheat oven to 400 degrees.
Stretch pizza dough out onto a greased and floured baking pan or pizza stone and top with pesto (I used sundried tomato pesto).
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Add mozzarella and grilled chicken slices.
Bake for 15 minutes, or until golden brown (not torched like mine)
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While pizza is baking, chop romaine and toss with dressing.
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Allow pizza to cool for a minute or two and top each slice with lettuce mix.
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I drizzled some dressing over the pizza since mine was overdone (and pretty dried out) before adding the lettuce.

I made some croutons just for fun by just toasting some bread cubes with olive oil and some seasonings.
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Overall, it was good and I’d probably make it again. I have since tried an alternative pizza technique to ensure I get the crust crispy without massacring everything else. Stay tuned for that one and just wait till you see what our office Valentine’s Day Potluck was!

60-degree “Winter” in New England Food

It’s been so warm here and then quickly got cold. I wasn’t about to be thankful for global warming or join the bandwagon of ladies I hear in the gym locker room who are thankful they aren’t shoveling. Do they know they live in New England? It snows here. Here we are, mid December and it’s just now getting cold. It’s been too hot for real winter food! Anywho, moving on…

I rarely make interesting salads so you wouldn’t have seen them. Lettuce is my least favorite part of a salad. Give me the fun stuff! At age 7 my sis horrified my aunt by saying she only liked salad for the dressing. It’s the heavy stuff at the salad bar that makes it good. Sorry for my poor choice of plate color!
winter_salad_plate_590_390
Well, I have an interesting salad for you! I love chopped salads because then you get some fun stuff in each bite. I saw this salad on Pinterest, obviously ;) It was on a blog called Espresso and Cream but I’ve seen variations all over the place.Autumn Chopped salad (single serving)

Ingredients:

1 head of Romaine lettuce
½ English cucumber
1 cup grape tomatoes
¼ red onion
½ cup crumbled feta
2 strips of bacon (or omit making this vegetarian)
½ pear
¼ cup balsamic vinager
½ cup extra virgin olive oil
½ tsp spicy brown mustard

Directions:

While bacon is cooking, chop all the veggies.
winter_salad_cuke_590_390
Whisk vinegar, oil, and mustard (or shake in a jar).
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Toss well and enjoy!
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Seriously, I know you don’t need instructions. I think sometimes it’s easier to make your shopping list for this one if it’s written down!

The original has dried cranberries but I was thinking I wanted more savory and the pear was my sweet bit. Goat cheese could easily replace feta but I prefer feta. I didn’t put chicken in but some recipes do.
winter_salad_bowl_590_390
Chopping everything takes the longest when prepping this but it is worth it. I chose English cucumber because you can eat the peel without the bitterness and the have fewer seeds so it doesn’t make salad as soggy as regular cukes. I also always chose grape tomatoes because I like their sweetness and they stay fresher longer. They also are never as disappointingly mealy.

break it down now:

Autumn Chopped Salad

(serves 4 as sides/starter or 2 for an entree)
1 head of romaine: $1.50
½ cucumber: $0.94
8 oz. grape tomatoes: $1.49
¼ of a red onion: $0.32
4 oz. feta: $2.24
2 strips of bacon: $0.32
½ of a pear: $0.29
total = $7.10/4 servings = $1.77 per serving as 4 side/starter salads or $3.55 for 2 lighter main entree salads (neither includes dressing costs)

Lunching Couscous

Lunch ideas can be hard to come by for me and sandwiches were never really my thing. I love them with interesting condiments on bakery bread, but making one at 7am and bringing it to work never appeals to me.

I try to mix it up when it comes to lunch. Often it’s leftovers but I used to be so good about picking something, making a regular sized batch, and eating it all week for lunch. It was even more convenient when I’d bring it all on Monday and not have to think about it the rest of the week.  Lately, I’ve gotten off course.

Recently I made couscous for a couple of lunches and it was soooo good. I ate it as a cold salad and was all about it. Tomatoes were my inspiration.
couscous_tomato_290_200
Grape. Heirloom. Tomatoes.

Ingredients

1 pint grape tomatoes, sliced in halves
1 cup dried Israeli couscous
2 cups vegetable stock
11/2 cups baby spinach
2 slices of bacon, cooked to a crisp
¼ cup shredded Parmesan
¼ cup ranch dressing
drizzle of olive oil

Directions

Toast couscous over medium-low heat until lightly browned
couscous_toasted_290_200

Add in veggie stock and cover for 7 minutes
Slice cherry tomatoes in halves, chop the spinach chiffonade, and crumble the bacon.
Fluff couscous to separate and allow to cool.
Add spinach, bacon, Parmesan and dressing.
Refrigerate overnight and drizle with olive oil before eating to rehydrate.
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I’ll admit. Ranch might seem a bit weird, but I had it and wanted something creamy. Parmesan peppercorn dressing would be more appropriate. My spinach had lived a good life but wouldn’t have been amazing the next day, which is why I chose to throw it in…like an herb rather than like a salad. Nobody was going to overshadow these tomatoes. No, siree!This was an easily packable and flavorful lunch. It also is super cheap. If I were like whats-her-face on the foodnetwork who makes $10 dinners I’d probably have an impressive lunch cost since this served as 2 lunches for me…and my mum may have bought the tomatoes for me when we were at the farm stand. I’d much rather pack a lunch and afford a fantastic meal in Italy or Spain. In just over 4 weeks time I will be! So excited I can’t even stand it!

This would be a good side dish. Adding basil and fresh mozzarella would be good with Italian dressing. Bring couscous to your next BBQ this summer and be the star next to all the cole slaws and potato salads.
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What are some other lunchable ideas & inspirations?

Ranch Burgers and Apple Slaw Apartment Style

You could pour ranch dressing on an Old Navy $5 pair of flip flops and it would make them taste good. I took a tastier approach and was so excited about my creation. I made Ranch Chicken Burgers and Zesty (mayo-less) Apple Slaw in my own kitchen…no party required!
ranch_burg_plate_290_200

Ingredients:

¾ pound ground chicken
½ packet dried ranch dressing/dip mix
3 tbs ranch dressing
2 bulky rolls

Directions:

Mix ground chicken, ranch mix, and dressing
ranch_burger_290_200
BBQ or cook on a grill pan flipping once.
ranch_burg_cooking_290_200
Serve on toasted rolls with ranch dressing on top.
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Ground chicken and ground turkey are more likely to fall apart so don’t overflip! I took a tip from my pal Guy on Diners Drive-ins & Dives: I flipped them but feared they weren’t going to be fully cooked so I covered them and added a touch of water for some steam.

They were cooked perfectly! That is tricky without my trusty meat thermometer but I was so proud of myself. They were juicy and I definitely tasted the ranch.

I paired it with some slaw. This was awesome and is a nice alternative to creamy slaws. I put in some apple I planned to use otherwise but had on hand.

Ingredients:

3 cups shredded cabbage/slaw mix
½ gala apple, chopped into matchsticks
2 tbs olive oil
2 tbs veggie oil
¼  cup cidar vinegar
¼ cup sugar
1 tbs dijon mustard
dash red pepper flakes

Directions:

Heat oils, vinegar, sugar, mustard, and red pepper over medium heat just until warmed through.
slaw_dressing_290_200
Remove from heat and allow to cool.
Toss with cabbage and apples.
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Refrigerate several hours and pour off excess liquid.
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I liked how light it was with a zesty crunch. This would be a great picnic or bbq item. I only made enough for 2 or 3 servings which was perfect.

Green or red onion would be a great add in and broccoli slaw would be great too. Shortly after making the burgers I made them again and Mr. J cooked them on a BBQ. Aside from our poor puppy not having a yard, not being able to use a grill is our biggest issue with this apartment and something we greatly look forward to enjoying in a house someday.

These made me super jazzed about other burgers inside. I can’t eat red meat so I miss out on fun ones at restaurants like stuffed burgers since they rarely come in turkey or chicken burgers. I’ll just have to make it happen! I have a feeling Mr. J would love a blue cheese stuffed one. I was thinking cheddar or spinach and feta stuffed. Stay tuned!

Marinate Those Mushrooms

I love marinated mushrooms and once I figured out the secret to making them I whip them up regularly. They’re so good on salad, antipasto, or on their own. Also, it’s easy to make marinated mushrooms in any quantity! That’s a perk for me who is the only fan of mushrooms around.
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I used balsamic vinegar to change it up but I normally go with cider vinegar or red wine vinegar. Once they marinate over night I usually drain out the excess marinade but I keep them in the same jar.

Ingredients:

6 large mushrooms, cut into quarters
¼ cup olive oil
¼ cup vinegar (any variation)
1 tsp garlic
salt & pepper
dried spices that will compliment the vinegar choice
1 tsp sugar
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Directions:

Drop mushrooms into boiling water for 2 minutes and drain.
Mix oil, vinegar, garlic, sugar, and spices in a glass jar. Shake vigorously.
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Add mushrooms and refrigerate at least 2 hours.

I often use white button mushrooms but I had a few big ones that I just cut up and put onto my salad lunches this week. Lettuce is my least favorite part of the salad so I often just put a few veggies together and call it salad but I had some quinoa and some spinach and thought marinated mushrooms would be a great addition!

Do you know quinoa? I got red quinoa and have enjoyed it all week. My friend Ms. J LOVES quinoa and makes it all the time!
mar.mush_quin_290_200

My Anthem

Anthem Kitchen and BarAfter work I had plans to meet up with my friend Miss L for a drink and a bite at Anthem. I tried SO hard to get there ontime (seeing how I work practically next door). I was about 5 minutes late.
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We sat at the bar and soaked in the ambiance while sipping our beers. I loved finding and trying out this new spot.

I had my eye on a few different appetizers. I ended up settling on a flatbread with prosciutto, poached figs, tomato slices, and arugula. I loved it. The figs made it feel really special and I love arugula on pizza so I was sold. The prosciutto was dropped on after it was grilled, keeping it soft and salty!
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Miss L went with the award winning chowder. Anthem won chowderfest 2010! She also got a roasted beet salad with goat cheese.
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I was throughly impressed with the menu. “Twist on American cuisine” is something I see and hear all the time but there were fish tacos, cuban sliders, mac and cheese, and roasted chicken. It sounds eclectic but it works! Everything goes!

I think the prices were right on target. My flatbread was $13 and that seemed appropriate.

I should have peeked upstairs since we sat at the bar but I loved it and I know I’ll go back again.

Hope everyone has an enjoyable Easter! I’ll be coming up with an appetizer and reporting back!