Panzanella

This panzanella is the salad that can be dinner on its own, or for me, it was just part of a crazy salad night for dinner. I liked the crouton-ish part of this salad, and sometimes any salad without greens if a more-fun one for me. I don’t know that I’d make it all that often, but on a hot night panzanella hits the spot. Now, I just need the bigger tomatoes in the garden to ripen up. We’ve gotten some cherry tomatoes but the bigger ones are still green so I bought the tomatoes for this salad.

The Three Bite Rule - Panzanella

Ingredients:

2 cups cubed & dried bread
2 large tomatoes
1/2 large cucumber
1 yellow/orange bell pepper
1/4 red onion
1/2 tsp garlic, minced
1/2 tsp dijon mustard
1/4 cup olive oil
3 tbs red wine vinegar
splash of lemon juice
salt & pepper

Directions:

Chop up the tomatoes, cucumbers, bell peppers, and red onion. Let the onion soak for about 5 minutes in some cold water so they mellow out a bit.
The Three Bite Rule - Panzanella
Heat a large skillet to medium-low heat with about 2 tbs of olive oil.
Drop the bread in and toss it around to coat. Cook for about 5 minutes until it gets just a little golden and a little crusty.
In a glass jar, add in the garlic, mustard, olive oil, vinegar, lemon juice, salt & pepper. Shake it up!
The Three Bite Rule - Panzanella
Toss the veggies, bread, and some dressing together.
The Three Bite Rule - Panzanella
Let it sit for at least 15 minutes, then add more dressing if needed. Enjoy!

If the tomatoes or cukes are really juicy you might not need any more dressing. I used just enough to get it all tossed – maybe half? Then another little splash before serving. I liked the bread getting a little crisp first and then soaking a bit of the dressing. I didn’t want it completed soaked and falling apart. The dressing takes 2 seconds and is an easy one to use again on any salad or adding some herbs to make it a marinade.

The Three Bite Rule - Panzanella
I don’t know that I’d make this all the time, but it was a great use for some leftover really good bread. I served it on a night of two unusual salads (the other being watermelon, feta & arugula) with grilled sausage. It probably didn’t really get to shine because I was sooo into the watermelon/feta/arugula salad.

The Three Bite Rule - Watermelon & Feta Salad
Have you ever soaked onions? It is great for a raw use so they don’t overpower everything else. They maintain the crunch and some flavor but they won’t be the only taste in there.

Risotto with Grilled Asparagus

For my restaurant recreation this month, I was inspired by a lobster & asparagus risotto dish at Davio’s but I wanted to make it at home. It also served as a reminder that risotto doesn’t only have to be winter food. With Mr. J’s new grill, this still allowed him to fill his grilling quota with the asparagus. Seriously, he wants to grill bfast/lunch/din.

I made this as a his/hers dinner that he had with steak and I had with lobster. The lobster wasn’t real so it was perfect to use in a cooked dish. I think I’ll use the remainder into some lobster mac & cheese.

The Three Bite Rule - Grilled Asparagus Risotto

Ingredients:

1/2 white onion, chopped
1 cup arborio rice
1 cup water
1 cup broth
1 cup white wine
1 tsp dijon mustard
3 tbs grated Parmesan
1 bunch asparagus
lobster or steak

Directions:

In a large saucepan, saute the onion in some olive oil over medium heat until they are translucent, about 5 minutes.
Add in the rice and stir regularly for a few minutes to toast it, then reduce heat to medium low.
In a medium saucepan, heat the water, broth, wine, and mustard to low heat.
Add a ladle of liquid to the rice until absorbed. Continue adding, stirring, and simmering until absorbed. Then adding the next ladle-ful in.
The Three Bite Rule - Grilled Asparagus Risotto
Grill the asparagus.
The Three Bite Rule - Grilled Asparagus Risotto
Chop into 1-inch sections.
Cook the lobster in butter and/or grill the steak.
Gently fold in the asparagus and Parmesan into the risotto.
The Three Bite Rule - Grilled Asparagus Risotto
Gently fold in the lobster meat.
The Three Bite Rule - Grilled Asparagus Risotto
Serve and enjoy!

Mr. J’s was asparagus topped with some grilled steak.
The Three Bite Rule - Grilled Asparagus Risotto
I liked the charred bits of the asparagus and I was careful to not overmix the asparagus. I didn’t want the pieces to be decimated or to lose all the grill marks into a blackened risotto!

The risotto was creamy and perfect. I think cooking it over medium-low heat is the ticket. If it is at a higher temp it really gets sticky versus creamy. It takes just a bit of patience, and about 25 min of cook time, but if somebody wants to keep an eye on it while the asparagus is grilling, it works out just fine. Or grill the asparagus first and let it hang out while cooking the risotto.

I could substitute grilled shrimp, or even salmon flaked apart, or grilled sausage…endless possibilities without even turning on the oven!

Basil Vinaigrette for Orzo Salad

We’re growing some basil and I wanted to use it for something other than pesto…that requires a heck-ton of basil. I decided it would be good as dressing for a twist on caprese salad. Tomato, mozzarella, and basil dressing were calling out to some orzo and voila! Side dish/salad/veg success!

The Three Bite Rule - Basil Vinaigrette Dressing for Orzo Salad
What makes this Basil Vinaigrette versus pesto? Glad you asked!
Basil Vinaigrette = liquid-y, light, with a vinegar tang
Basil Pesto = nutty, cheesey, thicker

Ingredients:

1 cup basil leaves, packed
1/2 cup olive oil
1 tbs garlic, chopped
1 tbs red wine vinegar
1 tbs lime juice
sprinkle of sugar
1 cup orzo
2 large tomatoes
1 ball of fresh mozzarella

Directions:

In a food processor, combine basil, a little of the oil, vinegar, lime juice, salt & pepper, and sugar. Blend while streaming in the rest of the oil.
The Three Bite Rule - Basil Vinaigrette Dressing for Orzo Salad
Taste & adjust as you like it and refrigerate until use.
The Three Bite Rule - Basil Vinaigrette Dressing for Orzo Salad
Meanwhile, boil salted water for the orzo. Cook according to the package, being careful not to over cook.
Then cool for at least 30 minutes.
The Three Bite Rule - Basil Vinaigrette Dressing for Orzo Salad
Chop the tomatoes and mozzarella. Add them to the orzo with the basil dressing.
The Three Bite Rule - Basil Vinaigrette Dressing for Orzo Salad
Mix and refrigerate until serving.
The Three Bite Rule - Basil Vinaigrette Dressing for Orzo SaladEnjoy!

I liked this one. I think the vinegar and the lime add a good little tang to the basil. Like: wake up!  It would be an easy one to switch up for other pasta shapes, lentils, white beans, farro, quinoa, or whatever.

We had this as a side dish with some grilled chicken, but it could be it’s own meal. I tried to go heavier on the tomato than on the cheese, since we definitely need more veggies than cheese on the menu. It was good and it did well as leftovers too.

Eggplant Parmesan Sandwiches

I love a meat-less meal into my weekly meal planning for ease, since they tend to be faster meals, and for cost, since they tend to be cheaper meals too. Breaded eggplant is one of my favorite Trader Joe’s freezer items. I popped a few into the toaster oven while I got the rest of this quick sandwhiches ready for the taste of a slow cooked eggplant parmesan dinner.

The Three Bite Rule - Eggplant Parm Sandwiches

Ingredients:

breaded eggplant (about 2-3 slices of eggplant per sandwich)
1 cup tomato sauce
4 oz fresh mozzarella cheese
1/4 cup ricotta cheese
sprinkle of Parmesan cheese
4 rolls or slices of focaccia

Directions:

Bake the eggplant at 400-degrees until crisp and warmed through.
Spread the ricotta onto the bottom roll halfs, then top with eggplant.
The Three Bite Rule - Eggplant Parm Sandwiches
Top the eggplant with slices of mozzarella and bake for 5 minutes to melt the cheese.

The Three Bite Rule - Eggplant Parm Sandwiches
Spread tomato sauce onto the top rolls and sprinkle with parmesan. Close up the sandwiches and bake for 5 minutes at 400-degrees to warm everything.
The Three Bite Rule - Eggplant Parm Sandwiches
Enjoy!

I have a serious love affair with ricotta and I think that’s what helps this sandwich really feel like a long baked eggplant parm dinner. The focaccia rolls were so good for this. I have a few more in the freezer and will have to think about their next use.
The Three Bite Rule - Eggplant Parm Sandwiches
I paired these quickie sandwiches with some salad and had a great dinner ready in no time. These sandwiches would be a good use for any leftover fresh mozzarella or ricotta you have. Or asiago or provolone would be great too.
The Three Bite Rule - Eggplant Parm Sandwiches

Beet & Sweet Potato Flatbread

With spring in full bloom I wanted to make a flatbread to highlight veggies for a lighter/meatless meal. I also am crazed at work getting ready for my big event this week. This insta-dinner taking only a few minutes to throw together was ideal. With the babe at daycare and both Mr. J and I back to work, we’re getting into the new routine.

The Three Bite Rule - Beet & Sweet Potato Flatbread

I love roasted beets but they take awhile and it involves the oven cranking away and you have to be careful not to stain anything with the juice. And and and. Apparently I’m full of excuses as to why I don’t make them all the time. I spotted packaged beets at the grocery store. That is one prepared item I can totally get behind. The convenience of these is much appreciated. The foil-wrapped potatoes is a whole different story. Who can’t do that on their own?!

Have you seen these? I found these cooked beets in the produce area near coleslaw mixes. Totally worth it. I forget what I paid, but I’d do it again. Maybe $4ish for 3 large beets. Or, if the grocery store has a good salad bar you might even find beets there too for even cheaper. That’s a great source when you don’t need much of something for a recipe.
The Three Bite Rule - Beet & Sweet Potato Flatbread

Ingredients: (for 2 entree servings, or ~5 appetizer servings)

2 naan breads
2-3 beets, roasted
1/2 sweet potato, pealed
1/2 cup feta

Directions:

Preheat the oven to 400-degrees. Lay the naan on a baking sheet.
Slice the beets into thick slices and the sweet potato into thin slices.
Drizzle the naan with olive oil then top with slices of raw sweet potato and slices of the beets.
The Three Bite Rule - Beet & Sweet Potato Flatbread
Crumble the feta onto the top.
The Three Bite Rule - Beet & Sweet Potato Flatbread
Bake for about 10-15 minutes until the naan crisps a bit and the toppings warm through.
The Three Bite Rule - Beet & Sweet Potato Flatbread
Slice & enjoy!

I loved these. I loved how little time it took for something different. The feta was so good with the beets and since I most often use feta cool, it was about time to put it in something cooked! I was lucky the sweet potato was so thin or it’d never have cooked in time with everything else. Using prepared flatbreads takes this from a more involved meal to a real quickie. Pita breads would work well too.

10 minute cooktime is PER-FECT for a weeknight. You can’t even decide on takeout pizza toppings in that amount of time!

What I Ate: Quick Greek Quinoa Bowls

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.

In an effort to mix up my lunch while still keeping it easy (and one-handed with the babe) I tossed together these quinoa bowls. I wanted something salad-y without lettuce. I was seeking farro or barley but came up short while grocery shopping. Really, I just wanted a different grain than I usually have but my grocery store is obsessed with moving everything around and I couldn’t find either one. It was a speedy shop while the little one napped in my cart and I figured I wouldn’t press my luck when he was happily napping. I made 2 servings and was glad to grab the other the following day.

The Three Bite Rule - Greek Quinoa Bowls

Ingredients:

Quinoa
tomatoes
English cucumbers
feta
Greek salad vinaigrette: 1/4 cup red wine vinegar; 1/4 cup olive oil; 1/2 tsp dried oregano; 1/2 tsp dried basil; 1 tsp lemon juice

Directions:

Cook the quinoa according to the package and spoon into bowls. I used about 1 cup prepared for each bowl.
The Three Bite Rule - Greek Quinoa Bowls
Chop and mix together the veggies and cheese
The Three Bite Rule - Greek Quinoa Bowls
Shake the dressing ingredients together in a jar.
Add in a little dressing and toss. Spoon veggies on top of the quinoa.
The Three Bite Rule - Greek Quinoa Bowls
Enjoy!

I ate one serving immediately and loved the warm-ish quinoa and the cool veggies. The tang from the vinegar dressing was perfect with the veggies and to season the quinoa a bit. The next day it was still good and I didn’t need more dressing. It might not be great a 3rd day as the sliced tomatoes could be a bit mealy by then. Prepping the quinoa and mixing the veggies the day you’re eating it would still make for an easy lunch too, or using whole cherry/grape tomatoes would give it a bit longer of a fridge-life.

The Three Bite Rule - Greek Quinoa Bowls

Veggie Pizza with White Bean Sauce

I have made a lot of pizzas so I always wonder at what point I’ll run out of toppings, but then I realized I can always mess with the sauce and have totally different pizza options. I wanted to make a tomato-less sauce which would make a veggie pizza more exciting (and nutritious) by adding some beans. Beans are also a breastfeeding superfood so you may see a trend establishing here.

The Three Bite Rule - Veggie Pizza with White Bean Sauce

Ingredients:

1 can white beans, undrained
2 tbs garlic
1 tbs parmesan cheese
1 tsp vinegar (apple cider, red wine, champagne, etc)
1-2 tbs olive oil
pizza dough
1 1/2 cups shredded mozzarella
2 small tomatoes, sliced
1 cup broccoli florets

Directions:

Preheat the oven (and pizza stone, if using one) to 400-degrees.
In a blender or food processor, blend beans, garlic, vinegar, parmesan, and salt & pepper until smooth.
The Three Bite Rule - Veggie Pizza with White Bean Sauce

Prebake the pizza dough for 10 minutes until lightly cooked and beginning to brown.
While the dough cooks, roast the broccoli in some olive oil until beginning to brown (about 10 minutes, it’ll cook a bit more on the pizza too).
Spread the white bean sauce onto the dough, then top with cheese, sliced tomato, and broccoli.
The Three Bite Rule - Veggie Pizza with White Bean Sauce
Bake for 10-15 minutes, until the cheese melts and the crust crisps.
The Three Bite Rule - Veggie Pizza with White Bean Sauce
Drizzle with some truffle oil if you like. Enjoy!

I loved the creamy white bean sauce/spread on here. It added a nice subtle touch on this one.
The Three Bite Rule - Veggie Pizza with White Bean Sauce

This veggie pizza was a nice change of pace. The sliced tomato was great and not something I’d top a pizza with if it also had tomato sauce. I think this one would be a great addition to a bunch of pizzas and would keep vegetarians happy that they weren’t left only with a margarita pizza or a cheese option. You could vary it with any veggies you had on hand, and the white bean sauce will definitely have leftovers…perfect for dipping veggies & pita chips or for a sandwich spread.

Tomato Basil Tortellini Soup

HAAAPPY New Year! New Year’s Eve isn’t really my thing. I loooved an annual party Mr. J and I could walk to back in our city days, but other festivities never interested me. The holiday seemed like amateur hour where people who don’t normally go out feel like they have to go somewhere. The bars were always overstuffed and there was so much pressure for it to be a perfect night at a bar with a crazy cover charge. I used to make bank babysitting…$100 for a few hours circa 2002. I wonder what the going rate is now?!

I figured soup was appropriate for New Year’s Day for something easy, comforting, and pretty healthy while you hang around, make resolutions, or nurse a hangover.

The Three Bite Rule - Tomato Tortellini Soup

Ingredients:

1-28 oz can of Pastene Kitchen Ready Tomatoes (or chopped San Marzano tomatoes)
1 cup vegetable broth (or chicken broth)
2 tbs chopped garlic
1/2 cup red wine
8-10 basil leaves, chopped
Salt & Pepper
12 oz frozen cheese tortellini
splash of cream or dollop of cream cheese (optional)

Directions:

In a large heavy pot, heat tomatoes over medium low heat.
Add in broth and garlic.
The Three Bite Rule - Tomato Tortellini Soup
Add in basil, salt, and pepper.
The Three Bite Rule - Tomato Tortellini Soup
Next add in the wine and tortellini. Then cover and cook for 5 minutes over a low simmer.
The Three Bite Rule - Tomato Tortellini Soup
Reduce heat to low for another 5 minutes of cook-time.
Then add a splash of cream or 1 tsp creamed cheese, if desired. Add more broth or water to thin the soup, if desired.
Enjoy!
(if prepping ahead of time, don’t put the tortellini in too early or they’ll be mush when you go to eat it)

I like this one for the simplicity. It is so easy and is almost like a very saucy pasta dish. Maybe that’s why I like it. It has such pure tomato and basil flavors with tender tortellini bites. I add the tiniest bit of cream to cut the acidity a bit, but not enough to make it a creamy soup.
The Three Bite Rule - Tomato Tortellini Soup
So, any New Year’s Resolutions out there? I feel like folks love to jump on crazy healthy post-holiday diet/exercise plans. I don’t know that those really stick, but I love Cooking Light’s 12 Healthy Habits. There’s a different one each month and they’re a bit more do-able, like: eat more fruits/veggies; ease up on the salt; get moving; etc. Plus you get a new one each month so there’s no falling off the bandwagon.

I’ve thought of a few goals for 2015: 
year of the: _earring?__  (still TBD, here are some past “year of the ___” & some ideas I’m still tossing around)
make more salad dressings
factor more time into how long every-day tasks/trips will take
recreate restaurant menu items
be more adventurous with my reading selections
use the crockpot more
#seafoodsunday once a month

Here were my goals for 2014: 
year of: having more fresh flowers
send more mail
make Pinterest pins a reality
cook with yeast
try a spin class
make more cocktails

Zucchini Risotto Boats

This isn’t going to be my signature dish. Really. I’m not being modest. This wasn’t great and I’m not sure where it went wrong. That can be where you come in…Thoughts? Suggestions?

I saw this on the menu of Local 149 (and it is still on their menu) so people must like it, right?

The Three Bite Rule - Zucchini Boats

Ingredients:

2 zucchinis
1 cup arborio rice
1 cup broth (chicken or veggie)
1 cup white wine
1/2 cup grated Parmesan
1/3 cup chopped fresh parsley
shredded mozzarella or Parmesan to sprinkle over the top

Directions:

Prepare the risotto: toast the rice; warm the broth with the wine together; incrementally add the liquid to the rice until absorbed and continue adding until the rice is fully cooked.
While the risotto cooks, preheat the oven to 375-degrees, half the zucchinis, and place skin-side down on a baking sheet.
Bake the zucchini for 15 minutes.
Add in Parmesan, chopped parsley, salt and pepper to the risotto and remove from the heat.
The Three Bite Rule - Zucchini Boats
Remove the zucchini from the oven and scrape out the inside fleshy part of the zucchini to form the boats.
The Three Bite Rule - Zucchini Boats
Chop up the inner fleshy parts and add to the risotto.
Spoon the risotto into the boats.
The Three Bite Rule - Zucchini Boats
Bake for 10 minutes, then top with shredded Parmesan or mozzarella.
Return to the oven until the cheese melts.
The Three Bite Rule - Zucchini Boats
I thought this would be so good! It was OK. It wasn’t great. I served it alongside some chicken sausage and dinner just seemed lackluster. I like the risotto. I didn’t really care that cutting the zucchini meant the risotto sort of fell out. The zucchini seemed like a good texture. The risotto wasn’t the creamiest I’ve ever made, but it tasted good.

It wasn’t like I had an amazing dish I’m comparing to from a great chef. What gives? Am I just being nitpicky? They just don’t always turn out the way you plan. I cut my losses and tossed the leftovers when I accepted that we wouldn’t choose them amongst treasures in the fridge. I’ve been all about the bass desserts lately and I’ve been taking in the plethora of Christmas movies on TV so my spirits stayed merry & bright despite a dinner disappointment.

Brussels Sprouts Pizza

Seriously, I may never run out of random pizza toppings. I was trying to come up with something fall-ish and vegetarian. I remembered drooling over How Sweet It Is’ short ribs pizza and decided I could Emily-ify it…aka, beef-less. Scheduling in a few meat-less meals helps highlight the veggies annnnd it is gentle on the grocery budget.

The Three Bite Rule - Brussels Sprouts Pizza
I love butter and mustard flavors with brussels sprouts so voila! That became the sauce.

Brussels Sprouts and Caramelized Shallot Pizza

(adapted from How Sweet it is)

Ingredients:

1/2 ball of pizza dough
2-3 shallots, sliced thin
2 cups brussels sprouts, trimmed and sliced thin
3 tbs cider vinegar (or red wine vinegar)
3 tbs butter
2 tbs dijon mustard
1 tsp chopped garlic
2 cups shredded mozzarella

Directions:

Preheat the oven and pizza stone (if using one) to 400-degrees.
Roll out or form the dough into a very thin circle and bake for about 8 minutes (until lightly cooked and starting to brown.
The Three Bite Rule - Brussels Sprouts Pizza
In a medium-high skillet, caramelize the shallots with a tablespoon of olive oil for about 5-10 minutes.
When the shallots are golden brown, remove them from the pan and add in the brussels sprouts.
Deglaze the pan with the cider vinegar, cooking for another 3 minutes.
Melt the butter, garlic, and mustard and whisk together. When the dough is cooked, spread on the dijon butter sauce.
The Three Bite Rule - Brussels Sprouts Pizza
Top with cheese, then shallots.
The Three Bite Rule - Brussels Sprouts Pizza
Then add on the brussels sprouts.
The Three Bite Rule - Brussels Sprouts Pizza
Bake for 15 minutes until the dough crisps and the cheese melts.
The Three Bite Rule - Brussels Sprouts Pizza
Let sit for 5 minutes before slicing. Enjoy!

The Three Bite Rule - Brussels Sprouts Pizza
The stretchy cheese with the touch of acid in the brussels sprouts and the buttery mustard flavors is perfect. I loved this one and can’t believe I’ve never put brussels sprouts onto a pizza before! This would also be a good use for leftover brussels sprouts.