Ham & Maple Melts

Today’s panini was a fun quick dinner. I was inspired by Blunch who has a panini called “The Piglet” with black forest ham, smoked bacon, maple aioil, sliced tomato on multi grain. I went for the ham & maple aoli theme and panini-ified some soft rolls. Paninis are the best for dinner since they’re fast and can still be special. We had these with some tomato/cuke/feta salad.

The Three Bite Rule - Ham & Maple Melts

Ingredients:

1/4 cup mayonnaise
2 tablespoons maple syrup
1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
2 soft rolls
4-5 slices of ham
1 cup shredded gruyere
2 cups arugula

Directions:

Mix together the mayo, maple, and cinnamon.
The Three Bite Rule - Ham & Maple Melts
Heat a panini press or grill pan to medium heat.
Assemble the sandwiches by spreading the maple aoli onto the bread generously, then layering the ham, cheese, and arugula.
The Three Bite Rule - Ham & Maple Melts
Press or grill the sandwiches until the outside is crisp and the cheese melts.
Slice & enjoy!
The Three Bite Rule - Ham & Maple Melts
The maple aoli is light but so good. I thought the cinnamon was key! The arugula is ideal because it is so peppery and holds up well to the sandwich getting cooked.

Food Traditions

I saw that Dinner: A Love Story came out with a new book about How to Celebrate Everything which is such a fun concept. It got me thinking about food traditions and I was feeling like by not really hosting the big family holidays at my house that I don’t have that many food traditions and then it hit me: Friday-Takeout-DVR is totally a food tradition for my little family!

For years now…at least 5 years, possibly longer, on Friday nights Mr. J and I order take-out and catch up on some DVR. It started back when there was a chance of us going out but instead we chose to stay in, ordered delivery to our 3rd flood apartment, and watched some DVR from the week. Fast-forward to now where we plan, and more specifically, look forward to this tradition. The little one will think we’re dinosaurs when we describe that back in the day we sometimes would go pick up burritos, then pick out a movie at a movie place called Blockbuster. Ancient concept I tell ya. We schedule meals Monday – Thursday and Friday is our standing tradition.

::in my head I’m singing Tra-dition! Tradition!! a la Fiddler on the roof::

I think the combo of time for just the two of us together + the treat + the convenience of somebody arriving at our home with a sack of some deliciousness all wrapped up + DVR = now time-honored and just so special to us. The little guy goes to bed anywhere from 7:30-8 and falls asleep quickly so by then we’ve sat with him for his dinner, maybe played outside a little bit, got him into jammies and ordered food all timed so it’ll arrive once he’s in bed. I looooove family dinners when we either all eat together but this one night a week, adult dinners are set on the coffee table with the remote between. It is so fun for us home-bodies.

My fav parts:
1) the take-out selection:
A complex algorithm Sometimes this involves figuring who ate what for lunch so we don’t order the same category for dinner. Sometimes we narrow down by a few ideas texted with emojis. Sometimes we look towards the weekend to determine if we want leftovers for Saturday lunch. There’s only one place I can get a good Buffalo Chicken Wrap, so, there’s that.

2) the anticipation of food’s arrival
We peek out the windows, rationalize that it has to come soon, and judge the slow cars as possibilities. One person signs for it and this also includes somebody playing defense to keep the doggies away from door so they/Bailee doesn’t bark her head-off waking the little one.

3) Barely-any clean up. Enough said.

4) Amazing Race/Cutthroat Kitchen/Treehouse Masters/etc on DVR. Mutually agree-ed upon shows…no Bachelorette or River Monsters. It is a mindless few hours before seeing if I can stay awake for Dateline…also known as, the only show we ever watch-live.

I love the evolution of this. It started when we were young, was much appreciated while I was pregnant, and is equally cherished after putting the little guy to bed. What’s not to love?

I have a few food traditions in mind:
Father’s Day: the little one to picks out a fancy dessert for Father’s Day + a card/homemade card, in lieu of gifts
Mother’s Day: is it approved that I should ask for a breakfast sandwich + card/homemade card, in lieu of gifts?
First Day of School: sugary cereal that isn’t normally an option
Birthdays: Individually selected personal-treat-stash isn’t normally an option
Summer surprise night of going out for ice cream sundaes for dinner when it is just. too. hot.

Hmm. I might need a doughnut birthday cake for the weekend-day closest to my birthday. You know, I live for birthdays.

 

Food Inspiration

I haven’t blogged or cooked interesting things lately, BUT I’m getting back on track now that I’m tiptoeing out of the post-event craziness. 800 guests bidding on 62 complex auction packages then having dinner at 80 locations does not clean itself up. I’m tying up some hypothetical bows and have wrapped up a lot this week.

This week doesn’t count as amazing food, but I’ve been flying solo for a few days and had an evening meeting cancelled so this week has been all over the place. I’ve eaten a few food groups and the baby has eaten varied things. Hey, we’re clean, I have exercised, and we all feel rested, and I emptied the dishwasher…so bonus points to us.

Here’s what I hope is in my future for food & drinks:

I looooved Saloniki #newGreek a few weeks ago. I want to play with making some of the sauces at home…like the eggplant one!
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‘Tis the season for rose! I want to sip this rose sangria, or something like it on the deck.

I love this blueberry topped pizza idea and would probably tweak the cheeses. It reminds me of this blueberry & brie stuffed waffle I made awhile ago.  The little one would LOVE this since his obsession with blueberries runs deep.
blueberry-feta-and-honey-caramelized-onion-naan-pizza-wwwkitchenconfidantecom-dsc_0065
I’m obsessed with trying to make a ramen burger. I love ramen, especially from my low blood pressure days when the cardiologist was trying to up my sodium intake! Best 17-cent dinner money can buy.

I might test out all the onion cutting hacks and report back what actually works for me.

You have guac to be kidding me

Sometimes I just need taco night with the good chips AND the good guacamole! For some reason this week has been a doozy already. I’m just too pooped to whole-heartedly share a post I had planned on. Stay tuned! I’ve been munching for bfast, the little one eats it for lunch, but mom makes it as an appetizer. I’m postponing in exchange for this evening’s stroll with the little one and the pup followed by tacos wrapped up with this week’s OJ Trial episode.

Isn’t this print adorable? So fun!

il_570xN.875495798_9ugl

Spice Up Your Life

The Spice Girls may have formed 20 years ago, not to make you feel old, but today I’m talking about spices. I got some spice mixes from Healthy Solutions to try and I loved them. You can love them too by entering my giveaway below! I tried the Encrusted Haddock and the Ultimate Burger. Both were so good.

I tried the Encrusted Haddock mix too. I used this on a tilapia filet I had and it was wonderful.
The Three Bite Rule - Spice Mixes
I put the fish in a little packet with a little panko and Mr. J grilled it on a his/hers night.
The Three Bite Rule - Spice Mixes
The Encrusted Haddock mix had some garlic and onion flavors with a sweet touch. I served it over a couscous, tomato, and chopped arugula with a touch of mustard.

The Three Bite Rule - Spice Mixes

For the Ultimate Burger I mixed some into my chicken burger and into Mr. J’s beef burger. It absolutely amped up an everyday burger into something really special.
The Three Bite Rule - Spice Mixes
I loved the onion, garlic, and pepper flavors. Every burger needs a kicker to come alive. Grill it up and you won’t want your ground meat to be naked again.
seasoning_burg_590_390

Now, enter to win your choice of 3 mixes shipped right to you! Enter before Wednesday!
a Rafflecopter giveaway

Full 3 Bite Rule Disclosure: Healthy Solutions Spice Blends were completely complimentary but my thoughts, opinions, and words are entirely my own.

What I Ate: NH Getaway

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.

Mr. J’s bday present was a little getaway to New Hampshire. I’m so thankful not to travel for work anymore and I’m loving being home all summer. It is amazing. Being home has actually involved a few trips to Maine, a few days to Cape Cod, and possibly one more jaunt. I wasn’t sure NH was going to fit in. I bought it for Mr. J’s bday in June then didn’t schedule it for-ev-er. We explored nature and ate lots of good stuff.

We stayed in Jackson, NH which is a little town near North Conway, but without the insane traffic. The inn was cute and had a phenomenal porch.
Inn at Thorn Hill
On our way up to New Hampsire we figured we stop somewhere for lunch and it just so happened we’d pass one of the many locations of Portland Pie Company. My favorite pizza! Though, their service is pretty terrible, all the time the pizza was really good. We got one of their seasonal pies: chicken caesar salad pizza!
nh_pizza
After checking in and poking around the inn, we explored the town and the area.
nh_river
We got dinner at the Red Fox Pub. We were really tired by then and were very hungry. I got lobster mac & cheese. There was an impressive amount of lobster and I couldn’t come close to finishing it! Mr. J had wood grilled meatloaf so he was as happy as can be. That was only Friday!
nh_lobstermac
Saturday we enjoyed breakfast on the porch of the inn and then checked out a tented art show, then we did a mini hike to some falls. It was breathtaking…also getting back up to the parking left me winded, so literally breathtaking. Mr. J adventured to some insane spots all in the name of photography. Luckily he didn’t end up in the drink!
nh_falls
We also popped into the LL Bean Outlet there where we found upright adirondack chairs. On sale. With an extra 30% off. Also using several LL Bean credits from our credit card. Scoooooore! We got two for less than the price of 1 normally. It was so meant to be! We didn’t have the pups so we got our new chairs into the car all assembled and never looked back. Just wait till I show you our beautiful yard projects with these snazzy new chairs by the firepit.

Dinner was part of our package to each have 3 courses at the inn. I started with clam chowder since it was 60-something degrees that day! For my entree, I chose duck over mushroom risotto with a chambord glaze. The duck and sauce were so good. The glaze was pretty sweet to it paired nicely with the salty risotto.
nh_duck
I didn’t exactly have room for dessert, but when on vacay! I had a chocolate hazelnut tart that was just amazing.
nh_dessert
Sunday morning we decided to venture out for bagels. We had passed a little bagel joint the day before with a sign boasting home of the boissant croissant/bagel hybrid. Hands down, best breakfast sandwich I’ve ever had. I wish I brought boissants home. I was thinking it would be more like a bagel or more like a croissant, but I love both so I figured I’d bet set. It was such a wonderful mix of the two.
nh_broissant
It was a nice little getaway. We wished it was warm enough to swim since the pool at the inn was cute but I’m still thankful for cool days. They were nice for walking around a lot. I hadn’t known if there’d be a lot for us to see/do but we had a great time wandering and not being at full pace.

Some Good Stuff

Aka, a collection of ramblings and links to share. Also drool-worthy photos other bloggers are rockin’.

This is just too funny: The Nutella Debate. I’m on team-nutella, minus the fact I always want to spell it incorrectly differently. Please do not disagree…especially if you are somebody who pretends to not like chocolate. Be gone with you. Nutella goes with every.thing. Make my grilled nutella, pb & pear sandwich. You can thank me later.

nutella_sand_plate_590_390

Non-Chinese foods that (hopefully) we already know aren’t authentically Chinese…still are top choices regardless. Was somebody thinking these were authentic?

Boston(ish) foodie collaborative & shared rental spaces popping up all over.

How cool is NYC? They did a French Restaurant Week just before Bastille Day. Love it. Regular restaurant week is so tired, and they dumb down their menus, and their staff hate it. I’d love a super specialized restaurant week here and there….now that restaurant week happens all the time. Ok. I’m off my soapbox.

Hmmm. I want some really good polenta…like this amazing looking one by Half Baked Harvest. I should mess around with polenta more often. There was a good one at work but it was just too spicy for me.
Balsamic Fig Glazed Pork w-Blistered Cherry Tomatoes and Creamy Gorgonzola Polenta | halfbakedharvest.com @hbharvest
A House in the Hills made some honeydew basil spritzers which sounds lovely while there’s still some summer left. I’ll have to skip the wine in there, but I should make that happen, pronto.

I’ve been inspired by using weird methods for usual things…like hashbrowns I made the other night on the waffle iron. I was wayyyy too heavy handed with the cheese and they stuck miserably. I’ll try again, but by that point I just wanted to eat so it wasn’t blogged.

What else looks good out there?

Something Else is Cookin’

baby_announce
It’s all happening and has been a crazy secret to keep. It was so hard not to spill the beans! My blogging break and abbreviated schedule were really based around being newly pregnant and not feeling well for the first 8 weeks or so. Not feeling “well” was putting it mildly. It was rough.

I’m feeling much better and a weight has been lifted now that people know. I really didn’t want anyone to be guessing before Mr. J and I were ready to share. I’m grateful how genuine everyone’s reactions were…and still are. I think it might have been tough to hear people say “I knew it!” so I’m thankful that wasn’t the case. It was a little bit fun to have it as a secret. I was seriously torn between wanting to shout it from the rooftops versus holding on to our secret for as long as felt right.

I don’t plan on weekly bump updates or anything. I am fascinated by the food interests/cravings versus aversions so I’ll probably share some of that, or whatever else strikes…

I had about a month of steering clear of anything soft & squishy: no hummus; no avocado; no yogurt; no peanut butter; no smoothies, etc. I was often napping after work or trying to cook something to resemble dinner which then I’d not be sure I wanted to still eat it. There were a lot of anything-goes dinner nights.

So far, I think the only legit craving has been for cheetos. It is all very new to suddenly feel passionate about not wanting to eat something or, really wanting something random. Now that I’m not sick all the time I would say I’m hungry all. the. time. I’m kind of prepared for an apocalypse. I started stashing snacks everywhere. It seems dramatic and like I will not make it when I’m hungry and know I don’t have anything on hand. 2 pretzel rods can turn my life around. Maybe this packing of snacks is a life skill that my offspring are training me for, even from the inside.

Also, when you aren’t allowed to eat something it is all you want. Lesson learned. I rarely eat sandwiches but suddenly all I want is forbidden deli-meat.

Freezing

Do you freeze stuff? I freeze every.thing. I mean, every. thing. I can’t tell you how excited Mr. J and I were to get another freezer. It lives in the basement, and makes me earn dinner sometimes when I’m pawing through the regular freezer and going down/up a set of stairs to check the other auxiliary freezer.

The freezer (much like your washer/dryer) is dry-erasable. We try to keep a running list of what’s in there.

The Three Bite Rule

Most common things I freeze:

bread/english muffins/burger rolls/pizza dough/etc – with just 2 of us we never use it fast enough
raw meat/ground chicken/ground beef/chicken pieces/pork chops – I sort of look for sales, but it’s easier to move to the fridge before work.
already frozen goodies for quick dinners/dinner additions - fries, breaded eggplant, tamales, leftovers, tortellini, etc
frozen veggies – edemame, corn, broccoli, cauliflower
sauces – meat sauce, creamed spinach (I use as a sauce)
double batch, or a frozen portion of meals.

Maybe more uncommon things I freeze:

coffee into ice cube trays – helps to not water-down iced coffee
“grossness & guts” – stinky stuff that would make me take the trash out before it is full (fat trimmings, the gross soggy pad underneath chicken, bones, etc). It’s a Ziploc bag that I add to, then open up into the trash when it is going out. That same bag lives a good life for about 6 months before needing to be replaced.
fresh herbs – chopped up frozen with a little water or a little olive oil if I wouldn’t use it before they go bad.

There are pretty good lists out there of what to freeze.

http://dailysavings.allyou.com/2012/03/07/foods-storage/

Whereabouts

I’m here, I’m here. I’m giving my noggin’ a break. I have some posts to work on but I wasn’t feelin’ it so I figured I’d take a little hiatus and come back jazzed and ready to go.

Maybe next week.

I just had a big event at work, a few weekends away from home, and an all-weekend volunteer commitment. I’ve been a bit un-enthused about what I’ve cooked and meal planning has gone by the wayside a bit. I was feeling at a level 5 for the posts I haven’t done yet, and figured I can call the shots and come on back when I’m feeling it for 100%.

I didn’t want to just get posts up for the heck of it. I usually am protective of my schedule of 3 per week, even when I’m away traveling or work is nutty. I think I just want to enjoy the spring and get revitalized.

A few topics you can look forward to….

  • I’m fitbit obsessed. I’ll prob share about it
  • a veggie-centric pasta
  • a oldie, but goodie that deserved a re-do
  • some summer bucket list foods
  • Mr. J made an impressive compost bin so I’ll keep you posted how that’s going
  • a fun adventure this weekend!
  • we have tomatoes, cukes, and herbs planted, ohh my!
  • and more ;)

Any requests?