Marinated Cucumber Salad

Normally I throw English cukes into everything. For this salad, it was all about regular cukes. This is the easiest side dish ever. I threw it together while some pork ribs were slowly doing their thing in the oven, before hitting the grill. This cucumber salad is fresh, crisp, and crunchy.

The Three Bite Rule - Marinated Cucumber Salad

Ingredients:

1 large cucumber, pealed
1/2 cup vegetable oil
1/4 cup red wine vinegar (or apple cider vinegar)
1/2 tsp dill
1-2 tsp sugar

Directions:

In a jar, shake together the oil, vinegar, dill, and sugar.
The Three Bite Rule - Marinated Cucumber Salad
Add the cucumber slices, and mix well.
The Three Bite Rule - Marinated Cucumber Salad
Refrigerate at least 30 minutes.
Serve & enjoy!
The Three Bite Rule - Marinated Cucumber Salad
My mom used to make simple cucumber salads and simple tomato salads. They are such a great fresh side during BBQ season. They go with anything and are exactly what you need with a burger, something grilled, or something saucy.

Broccoli and Wild Rice Casserole

I tend to not spend a lot of time on side dishes. This one could be a meal-in-one. I’ve seen a lot of broccoli and wild rice dishes but I did mine with a few slightly- healthier touches. There’s no canned soup here, and no heavy cream, no cheese, and  so little butter. There is some serious flavor (and sodium) from the broth so season accordingly or swap out low sodium broth if you’d like.

The Three Bite Rule - Broccoli and Wild Rice Casserole

Ingredients:

1 1/2 cups wild rice
2 cups water
1 cup vegetable broth (or chicken broth)
1/2 tsp Krazy salt  (or a mix of salt, italian seasoning, garlic powder)
2 large carrots, diced
2 celery stocks, diced
1 small yellow onion, diced
1 tbs garlic, diced
3 tbs wheat flour
1 1/2 cup vegetable broth
3/4 cup white wine
1/2 tsp dried thyme
salt & pepper
2 cups broccoli florets, trimmed
2 tablespoons butter
2 tablespoons olive oil
1 1/2 cup wheat panko

Directions:

Cook the wild rice in water and vegetable broth until fully cooked through.
Mix in sprinkle of Krazy salt and spread into a baking dish sprayed with non-stick spray.
The Three Bite Rule - Broccoli and Wild Rice Casserole
In a dutch oven, cook carrots, onions, and celery in 1-2 tbs olive oil for 5-7 minutes over medium heat.
Add in garlic and wheat flour, stirring well.
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Pour in vegetable stock, wine, thyme, salt, and pepper.
Increase heat to medium high, cover, and let look for 8 minutes at a boil, then reduce the heat to low.
Preheat the oven to 375-degrees.
In a separate pot, boil broccoli florets for about 4-6 minutes. They should be cooked through but slightly crisp.
Pour the broccoli on top of the rice layer.
The Three Bite Rule - Broccoli and Wild Rice Casserole
The carrot/celery mixture will have thickened up. Pour on top of the broccoli layer.
The Three Bite Rule - Broccoli and Wild Rice Casserole
Melt butter and mix in olive oil and panko.
Sprinkle over the top and bake for 20-30 minutes.
The Three Bite Rule - Broccoli and Wild Rice Casserole
I liked this, but phew! It seemed like a lot of work for just a side. I love the velvety sauce over the broccoli. I would probably leave it at that next time. The rice wasn’t really necessary. The highlight is the illusion of creaminess with the broccoli and the toasty crumbs on top.
The Three Bite Rule - Broccoli and Wild Rice Casserole
It made a ton and I felt like we ate it a million times. I’d half this or freeze half next time. I also would question the rice. This would be good for a crowd, or as a side with just about anything else…fish, pork, chicken, steak, sausages, turkey, etc. I think it could be a good one for Thanksgiving or a potluck. It definitely has a winter vibe so I wouldn’t be whipping this one up for spring.

Not to worry, I’m done with the heavy winter foods. I have a breakfast what I ate up next, then a lightened up snacky treat, and maybe a cocktail (if I get my act together).

Sausage Stuffing

My mom makes some seriously awesome stuffing. It works like a side dish but I figured holding strong on 2 food groups meant I’d make it the main dish! I love this and would eat it far too often if it were at all good for me. It’s a fantastic wintry food and makes a great dinner or side dish. There’s a secret ingredient that is the trick.

My sous chef wanted to help #kitchendogs #fluffybailee

The Three Bite Rule - Sausage Stuffing

Ingredients:

4-6 sausage links, removed from the casing (I used turkey sausage this time)
1 loaf of sourdough bread or something crusty
1 can golden mushroom soup (even mushroom-haters will not notice this is in here)
1/2 cup white wine
1/3 cup water
1 tbs Worcestershire sauce
1 tbs garlic, minced
1 yellow onion, chopped
salt and pepper

Directions:

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.
Heat a large skillet to medium heat while you chop the onion and remove the casing from the sausage links.
Brown the sausage, breaking it into smaller chunks with the back of a wooden spoon.
In a medium pot, warm the soup, wine, water, Worcestershire sauce, and garlic over medium heat.
The Three Bite Rule - Sausage Stuffing
Cut the bread into chunks.
When the sausage is mostly cooked through, drain any excess grease and add the onions into the pan with the sausage. Cook a few minutes until the onion gets soft and a bit translucent, about 5 minutes.
In a large bowl, toss the cooked sausage and onions and bread together.
The Three Bite Rule - Sausage Stuffing
Pour the liquid mixture into the bowl and mix well.
Empty the whole bowl into a large baking dish, sprayed with non-stick spray.
The Three Bite Rule - Sausage Stuffing
Bake uncovered for 40 minutes. Broil the last 3 minutes if the top hasn’t crisped enough
The Three Bite Rule - Sausage Stuffing
Yum. I love this one. The golden mushroom soup is so flavorful – just don’t confuse it with cream of mushroom soup.

I served this with some roasted asparagus for a quick dinner. The leftovers are great and it is just an inviting unfussy meal.
The Three Bite Rule - Sausage Stuffing
I found a loaf of artisan bread with garlic in it. It was pricey but I only used 4 sausage links and the bread. Other ingredients were super cheap and this was about 5 servings for us.

Shhhh. I nibbled on some leftovers for breakfast one morning when all I wanted was a non-sweet breakfast. What? A touch of maple and this is the ideal salty breakfast…just call it savory bread pudding and nobody will think twice.

some suggested adaptations:
this recipe + celery/kale/portobello/peppers = more veggie-ful stuffing
this recipe – golden mushroom soup + low sodium chicken broth = less salty/lower sodium meal (or reduce the soup to half a can and increase the water to 3/4 cups
this recipe + muffin tins = easily servable stuffing cups
this recipe – turkey sausage + soy sausage crumbles = vegetarian stuffing
this recipe + dried cranberries + sage = super seasonal flavors

Brussels Sprouts with Apples and Mustard Dressing

I love brussels sprouts. I was wanted a really fall-inspired side dish. This was a really quick side dish that actually has tons of room for customization. I used Israeli couscous because it is really fast and versatile especially for a his & hers night. I don’t eat red meat and Mr. J isn’t into fish so we share side dishes. Mr. J had some venison tenderloin and I made some shrimp.

The brussels sprouts dish was sweet from the honey mustard and has really crisp apples. It is really comforting and took less than 15-minutes to whip up.
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Ingredients:

2-3 cups brussels sprouts, halved or quartered
1 cup Israeli couscous
1 cup vegetable broth
1 cup water
1 medium apple, chopped
3 tbs dijon mustard
3 tbs honey

Directions:

Heat a medium stock pot to medium heat.
Add couscous and 1 tbs olive oil, stirring to toast couscous.
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In a large flat pan over medium heat, add brussels sprouts, and 1 tbs butter or oil.
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Add 1 cup of vegetable broth and 1 cup of water to the couscous, stirring well and reducing heat to medium-low.
Cook the couscous through, about 4 minutes.
Mix up the mustard and honey.
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Add the couscous and honey mustard dressing to the brussels sprouts.
Stir well, turn off heat, and add the apples.
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Gently stir again and serve.
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Couscous is a pasta so there’s literally zero health benefit from it. I like the soft nutty flavor from couscous but this brussels sprout side dish would be good with brown rice, or barley, or quinoa, or beans. There’s a lot of nutritious alternatives. Nuts would be good in here for crunch. I love the honey mustard with the apples but you could swap the apples for dried cranberries.

Pumpkin Risotto

I haven’t made risotto for awhile, but figured it was perfect for pumpkin week! I wanted a savory pumpkin dish since the first thought with pumpkin is pie.

The Three Bite Rule - Pumpkin Risotto
One of my favorite risottos is tomato and zucchini risotto using tomato juice for even more flavor. Risotto gets bad wrap for being difficult. I think it is just a dish that requires some attention. This risotto gets pure pumpkin cooked in with the liquid. It makes it more like a flavor boost than an addition (like butternut squash chunks would be). I like to stir. I come from a family of folks who like to stir. This is the perfect dish for that!

Ingredients:

1 cup arborio rice
2 cups vegetable broth
1 cup pumpkin
1/2 cup water
1/2 tsp nutmeg
2/3 cup Parmesan cheese

Directions:

Heat rice and 2 tbs olive oil in large pot, over medium heat to toast the rice a bit (about 3-5 minutes).
In another pot over low heat, warm the broth, pumpkin, and water.
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Stir the rice as it toasts and begins to get lightly tanned. Reduce heat to medium low.
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Add a cup of the pumpkin liquid to the rice and stir.
Continue adding liquid in 1 cup increments adding more once the last liquid gets absorbed.
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Continue cooking, stirring, and adding liquid until all the liquid gets absorbed. When the rice is cooked add in the nutmeg and Parmesan.
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I love the flavors in this. It is so easy and goes with anything. Sage would be good with this but I find it a bit intense and it is hard to justify a $4 herb that I only want one leaf from. The risotto takes about 20-25 minutes. It isn’t that much work with other easy-ish dishes going on. I think I grilled some chicken sausages and tossed a salad that night.

I used this as a side dish but it could serve as a whole meal. Spinach or arugula would be good for some color. Mushrooms would make it more meal-centric.

We even fried up some leftover risotto into cakes from the leftovers. Nothing else added, just risotto crisp-a-fied. So good, and wayyy easier than aranchini. I don’t have photos of that because it basically was a no-fuss dinner one night. I feel so productive, grown up, and accomplished when leftovers get created into something amazing.

Need more pumpkin dinner ideas? I’ve made a pumpkin pasta that is so easy and a great variation. I owe you a pumpkin black bean soup I repeatedly fall in love each fall.

What do you like for savory pumpkin dishes?

Fontina Mac & Cheese with a Warm Brussels Sprouts Salad

I know, I know. There are too many decadent not-springy dishes, but I’ve been a bit backlogged. This is worth it. Maybe we all will keep needing a little comfort here in Boston. The recent Boston Marathon events have shaken me. I work in large scale athletic fundraising events (not as large as the marathon) and it all hits close to home. I’m guiltily reminded that I said a few weeks ago that “this is almost the worst thing that could happen” when one of my sites bumped me for another event. No, that is not the worst thing that could ever happen. I’m mixed between whining that it isn’t fair, that this is a time honored tradition, it is inspiring/impressive/astounding and feeling so badly for people doing a really positive thing. The logistics in me feels for the BAA who will forever be changed.

Mr. J works just blocks away, on the same street, and I was just paralyzed by ‘what could be.’  I was so thankful to get home, together, and just process. It was scary to wonder if it was better to stay put or to go to a huge train station. Knowing the cell towers were off made it more nerve wracking. Social media luckily allowed me to see the runners I knew were safe and the event staff I know made it home ok.

Now onto the food. When everything else is uncertain dinner is exactly what I need. I planned to make some really good mac and cheese but I was thinking of topping it with Lay’s new Cheesy Garlic Bread flavored chips, but the grocery store was totally sold out for several weeks. (Yes, this crossed my mind a few times so I gave in trying to make it happen.) Unsurprisingly, there were plenty of chicken & waffle flavored chips? I thought those were too weird, even for me, so I ended up with some interesting looking Feta & Rosemary flavored Cape Cod chips instead.

While I was exploring the chip aisle, I knew something healthy but interesting should go with this. Like something green. Enter: brussels sprouts!
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Warm Brussels Sprouts Salad

Ingredients:

3 cups raw brussels sprouts
2 tbs creamy stone ground mustard
1 tsp garlic, chopped
1 tbs red wine vinegar (or cidar vinegar)
2 tbs butter
Salt & pepper

Directions:

Trim brussels sprouts at end and tear of petals, discarding the very center
In a flat pan, over medium low heat, melt butter, mustard, garlic, and vinegar for 1-2 minutes.
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Bring pan to medium and add in the brussels sprout petals.
Stir and cook for another 2-3 minutes.
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Sprinkle with salt and pepper before serving.
brussels_saladbowl_590_390

The warm brussels sprout salad has some creaminess from the butter and some tang from the mustard. I think the flavors are light and delightful. This would go with anything. The centers of the brussels sprout is the bitter part so this dish comes out mild and fresh.

I think this sauce would be really good on roasted broccoli or carrots too.

Fontina Mac & Cheese topped with Potato Chips

Ingredients:

1/4 cup butter
1/4 cup flour
3/4 lbs pipette pasta
8 oz fontina, chopped/shredded
8 oz sharp cheddar, chopped/shredded
2 tbs Parmesan, grated
1 egg yolk
1 cup low fat milk
3/4 cup half and half
salt & pepper
1 cup crushed potato chips (or breadcrumbs)

Directions:

Over medium low heat, add butter and flour to a medium saucepan.
While butter and flour form a roux, let it turn from bright butter-yellow to summer-tan-sandish color to cook the flour taste out.
Boil water for the pasta.
Add milk and cream, stirring to smooth out.
Cook pasta to al dente being careful not to overcook.
Add cheeses, reserving 1/4 cup of each for later.
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Stir/whisk until creamy and smooth.
Preheat oven to 375 degrees.
Add drained pasta to the cheese sauce saucepan stirring to incorporate.
Add egg yolk and remaining cheese (this is where you get some stringy/gooey parts).
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Pour into a greased baking dish.
Top with breadcrumbs or crushed chips on the top.
Bake for 20 minutes.
brussels_plate_590_390

The mac and cheese was so good. The egg yolk and dynamic cheeses make this creamy and decadent. Sometimes I add a squirt of dijon mustard but I didn’t want it to seem too matchy-matchy to my brussels sprout salad.

I love mixing cheeses. Fontina is mild and nutty. Parmesan adds a subtle saltiness but isn’t the best melting cheese. The chips had a great herby flavor without being quite as fake flavored as it could be.

Let’s just let it go that Lay’s decided to make Chicken and Waffle flavored chips. Some things will never be forgotten, but yeah, I think we should all forget that these chips happened. mmmk?

Polenta Cakes, Leftover Remix

I told you just how much polenta I had leftover when I made Chorizo and Polenta. If you missed it, there was a LOT of polenta. I decided to flavor up the leftovers and make them into cakes.

I feel so accomplished using leftovers. This post is a bit delayed, but better late than never, right?
chorizo_polenta_polenta_590_390

Ingredients:

2 cups prepared polenta
¼ cup white wine
3 tbs butter
2 tbs grated Parmesan
2 tsp chopped basil
2 tsp chopped garlic
salt & pepper
⅔ cup Panko breadcrumbs
½ cup seasoned breadcrumbs

Directions:

I warmed it slightly (since it had become one with the shape of the container since I made it a few days prior).
Mix in wine, butter, Parmesan, basil and garlic.
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Heat a heavy skillet with ¼ inch of vegetable oil, over medium low heat
Mix breadcrumbs, Panko, salt and pepper in a shallow bowl/plate.
Raise oil temperature to medium.
Form polenta into patties and cover with breadcrumbs.
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Drop a pinch of polenta mix into the oil to be sure it bubbled immediately.
Pan fry each cake until golden brown.
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Cover or keep warm in the oven until serving.
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Let’s recap. I made 2 cups of polenta which ended up being 6 servings when I made Chorizo & Polenta. Now I made about 4 more servings of polenta into cakes. That is exactly how much polenta you get using 2 cups of dried polenta.

Thanksgiving Sides & a GIVEAWAY

Thank you to Country Crock for sponsoring this post. Visit and tell us your favorite Thanksgiving veggie for extra entries into this giveaway. I was selected for this opportunity as a member of Clever Girls Collective.

Today I have a very special GIVEAWAY but first we’ll chat Thanksgiving.

Halloween is over, on to the next foodie holiday!I haven’t hosted Thanksgiving yet but I’m always happy to provide a side to whichever family is graced with my presence. I tested out a veggie side using Country Crock and it was awesome! I tried my hand at a few Thanksgiving-y dinner items.

Smokey Maple Brussels Sprouts

Ingredients:

1 pound fresh brussels sprouts, trimmed and quartered
3 tbs Country Crock
4 slices of bacon
1/4 cup maple syrup
a few drips of liquid smoke (optional)
1/3 cup dried cranberries (optional)

Directions:

Steam brussels sprouts until just starting to soften (they’ll cook more in the pan)
Melt Country Crock in a saute pan.
Add brussels sprouts to Country Crock and cook for about 5-7 minutes on medium high heat, stirring occasionally.
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Once sprouts have begun browning, add in maple syrup, liquid smoke, bacon and cranberries.
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Cook another 2-3 minutes, stirring well, then remove from heat.
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This was great. Bacon makes everything better so don’t forget that one. I added some liquid smoke to give it a touch of earthiness. The bacon adds that too, but I think liquid smoke is a great addition to anything with bacon. I put it in chili too. The Country Crock adds the perfect golden creaminess without too many calories or trans fat.

I somehow forgot that I was going to put the dried cranberries in. It would have added a nice red (and tart!) punch.

I also made  stuffing cups so my Thanksgiving side wouldn’t be lonely. This wasn’t really a recipe, I just added and threw it all together. I gently cooked onions in a few tablespoons of Country Crock.

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I added in two different kinds of bread, chopped with chopped apple, thyme, and a splash of white wine.

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I baked it for 20 minutes in muffin cups so it would be single serve-able.
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They didn’t stay together too well. Ohh well! I liked how perfect the textures played together. The apples and onions totally helped make this better than out-of-the-box. Can you believe how few ingredients it takes?!

I served these two winning sides along with some turkey meatloaf muffins I saw. Nothing like some stellar sides to accompany a frozen quickie dinner.
country crock_meatloaf_590_390

What Thanksgiving sides do you graviate towards? Check out some of these other sides (spoiler: I have my eyes on that spoonable cornbread!)

Now, for the GIVEAWAY. Ta Da!

what you’ll win:

Check out these awesome Williams Sonoma candle holders here

Check out this Sur la Table baking dish with wire basket here

****This giveaway has ended. The winner is # 9, Kim F! Thank you for your support and I hope you enjoyed the Thanksgiving side!****

when to enter: now until Sunday November 4 at midnight EST.
how to enter: leave a comment telling us your favorite Thanksgiving side!
extra entries: follow The Three Bite Rule on facebook then leave another comment letting me know you follow
extra entries: follow @threebiterule on twitter then leave another comment letting me know you follow
extra entries: check out Country Crock’s other ideas and leave a comment there, and back here letting me know you did.

Thank you to Country Crock for being a sponsor. I was selected for this opportunity as a member of Clever Girls Collective. All opinions expressed here are my own.

What I Ate: Ramen Coleslaw

I was trying to think of an easy side I could literally throw together. I was lacking motivation recently and somehow this came out of nowhere. I’ve made it a few times, but not once this summer yet. My twist is using broccoli slaw instead of cabbage or slaw mix.

This is so easy and takes 5 minutes to prep and goes with everything. It isn’t vegetarian but it is delicious! It is probably the cheapest side-dish ever. I dare you, find a cheaper one.

The Three Bite Rule - Ramen Slaw

Ingredients:

1 bag broccoli slaw
1 pack ramen noodles, chicken flavor
3/4 cup oil
4 tbsp apple cider vinegar
4 tbsp sugar
sprinkle of pepper
1 of the chicken pack flavorings in ramen noodle package

Directions:

The Three Bite Rule - Ramen Slaw
Boil the ramen noodles for about 5 minutes then drain.
Whisk or shake in a jar the oil, vinegar, sugar, pepper, and ramen flavor pack.
The Three Bite Rule - Ramen Slaw
Mix noodles, slaw, and dressing.
The Three Bite Rule - Ramen Slaw
Refrigerate at least 30 minutes before serving. I should have thrown in sunflower seeds. That crunch on top is delicious. I like how oil-vinegary this is. There is so much flavor from the ramen. My Mum and mother-in-law both make it with grapes & nuts. I like this salad when you keep the noodles raw too. They’re super crunchy.

Let’s break it down:

1 pkg chicken ramen: $0.24 (12 pack @ $2.99)
1 pkg broccoli slaw: $2.99
very little oil & vinegar
total = $3.23 and serves about 6, or $0.53 per serving.

Can you believe that pricing? It’s a crowd pleaser that won’t break the bank.

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.