Zucchini Fritters

Years ago, I did a post of these fritters using summer squash. They were due for a re-do, this time they’re back to classic zucchini. I love them as a side dish and haven’t made them in a really long time. I made enough for dinner and lunch with just 1 zucchini.

The Three Bite Rule - Zucchini Fritters

Ingredients:

1 large zucchini
1/4 cup white onion, chopped
1 tbs garlic, chopped
1 egg
1/4 cup breadcrumbs or panko
1 tsp flour
1/4 cup parmesan cheese or feta
salt & pepper

Directions:

Grate the zucchini then press excess liquid out either through a mesh strainer or towels.
Add zucchini, onion, garlic, egg, breadcrumbs, flour, cheese, salt and pepper to a large bowl.
The Three Bite Rule - Zucchini Fritters
Mix together. It should be sticky. If too wet, try adding more breadcrumbs/flour/cheese.
The Three Bite Rule - Zucchini Fritters
Heat a large pan with vegetable oil to medium heat. (or preheat an oven to 375 degrees to bake. Bake 20-30 minutes until golden brown)
Test the oil temp by dropping just a shred of zucchini in to see it sizzle.
Spoon 2-3 tbs of the mixture into the oil to fry. Let it cook on the first side for about 5 minutes.
The Three Bite Rule - Zucchini Fritters

Flip to cook on the other side for about 4 minutes.
The Three Bite Rule - Zucchini Fritters
Remove from the heat and let rest on a paper towel for any excess oil.
Enjoy!

I love these as a side. They go with anything. We grilled some pork chops and had these on the side. Othertimes I’ve had them alongside a salad for a filling meatless meal.
The Three Bite Rule - Zucchini Fritters

Suggested adaptations:

zucchini fritters – Parmesan + feta + artichoke hearts = Greek zucchini fritters
zucchini fritters + chopped tomatoes/sundried tomatoes + basil = summery zucchini fritters
zucchini fritters + shredded potato = lighter potato cake fritter

German Burgers & Parmesan Truffle Fries

I was worried I wouldn’t come up with a birthday burger theme for Mr. J. It is now a tradition and I’ve made a bunch of burgers in between, so I wasn’t sure what this year would be. Ms. L is to thank for this one. The German burger all starts with the pretzel rolls.

The Three Bite Rule - German Burgers

In 2013 it was a Vermont Burger
In 2012 it was a Bacon Wrapped Burger
In 2011 it was a Stuffed Burger

German Burger

Ingredients:

1/2 pound ground beef/chicken/pork
1 -2 tsp prepared horseradish
salt & pepper
1/4 of a white onion, cut into slices
2 pretzel rolls
2 slices swiss cheese
2 tbs ground mustard
2 sliced pickles, or pickle chips

Directions:

Mix together the ground meat, horseradish, salt and pepper. Then form into patties.
Heat up the grill, or a grill pan.
In  a small pan, caramelize some onions over medium-low heat.
Grill the burgers until cooked to your liking adding the cheese at the end.
Top the pretzel rolls and burgers with mustard, caramelized onions, and some thin sliced pickles.
The Three Bite Rule - German Burgers
This burger was really good. The pickles and the horseradish gave it a little kick, the creamy mustard and the caramelized onions added a touch of sweetness. It was a good one! I wasn’t sure how strong the horseradish would seem after being cooked, so I went easy on it. You could always add it as a topping too!
The Three Bite Rule - German Burgers

Next came the side. I realized parmesan truffle fries were just so easy and I couldn’t believe I hadn’t ever made them before! I kept it easy using frozen fries and they were tossed together in just a few minutes.

Parmesan Truffle Fries

Ingredients:

2 “handfulls” of fries
2 tbs grated Parmesan
1 tbs truffle oil
salt & pepper

Directions:

Bake the fries according to the package.
Remove from the oven and toss with salt and pepper.
Then add parmesan & truffle oil.
The Three Bite Rule - German BurgersToss gently to coat.

This is how to eat fries. I love truffle oil and the parmesan is a great salty balance. I chopped up a tiny bit of chives for a little fresh/oniony flavor.

Tortellini Salad with Spinach & Tomatoes

This tortellini salad could easily be a side dish but this ended up as the whole meal one warm night. It is addictive and packs a fresh and flavorful bite after bite after bite.

The Three Bite Rule - Tortellini Salad

Ingredients:

9 oz cheese tortellini
1/4 cup Italian dressing
1 cup grape or cherry tomatoes, halved
2 cups baby spinach leaves, chiffonade
1/4 cup cheddar
1 tbs creamy Caesar dressing

Directions:

Boil salted water and cook the tortellini according to the package.
Let cool, and toss with Italian dressing. Refrigerate at least 2 hours, or overnight. I did this much before work.
The Three Bite Rule - Tortellini Salad
Stir in tomatoes, spinach, cheddar, and creamy dressing.
Salt & pepper to taste.
The Three Bite Rule - Tortellini Salad

I loved the juicy tomatoes adding a bit more moisture to this. The spinach acted like an herb while providing the benefit of vitamin A & vitamin C. The cheese was subtle but a great bite behind the freshness of everything else.

This was a great one-bowl-wonder dinner. It hit a few food groups and was suuuuper easy.

The Three Bite Rule - Tortellini Salad

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.
brussels_cous_bowl_590_390

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.
brussels_cous_couscous_590_390
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.
brussels_cous_bowl_590_390
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.
pump_risotto_broth_590_390
Stir the rice as it toasts and begins to get lightly tanned. Reduce heat to medium low.
pump_risotto_rice_590_390
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.
pump_risotto_cooking_590_390
Continue cooking, stirring, and adding liquid until all the liquid gets absorbed. When the rice is cooked add in the nutmeg and Parmesan.
pump_risotto_bowl_590_390
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.
brussels_mustardsauce_590_390
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.
polenta_cake_bowl_590_390
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.