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.

Pumpkin Mac & Cheese with Gouda & Brown Butter Sauce

I wanted to spread out the pumpkin goodies. Sometimes it gets overdone when November is jam-packed with only pumpkin baked goods, drinks, and goodies. I also wanted some great cheese in there.

The Three Bite Rule - Pumpkin Mac & Cheese

Ingredients:

1/2 stick of butter
1/2 cup flour
3/4 cup milk
1/2 pound pasta (I used penne)
1 cup shredded gouda
1 1/2 cup pumpkin
1/2 tsp pumpkin pie spice (or a mix of cinnamon, ginger, nutmeg)
1 cup shredded Monterey jack
1/2 stick of butter
2/3 cup of breadcrumbs
1/4 cup Parmesan cheese

Directions:

Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil.
In a large saucepan, melt butter over medium heat until it foams, and then starts to brown.
Add in the flour and stir well as it forms a paste. Then add in the milk and cook for another 2 minutes.
The Three Bite Rule - Pumpkin Mac & Cheese
Cook the pasta until al dente.
Preheat the oven to 350-degrees.
Add in the grated gouda and pumpkin.
Drain the pasta and mix together with the sauce, and jack cheese.
The Three Bite Rule - Pumpkin Mac & Cheese
Spray a baking dish with non-stick spray and spoon in the pumpkin mac and cheese.
The Three Bite Rule - Pumpkin Mac & Cheese
Melt butter and mix in the breadcrumbs and parmesan cheese.
Top with the crumb topping and bake for 20 minutes. Broil the last 2 minutes if it hasn’t browned enough.
The Three Bite Rule - Pumpkin Mac & Cheese
This was subtly pumpkin but had great fall flavors that were far enough away from everyday mac & cheese to feel fun. The brown butter sauce added a nuttiness and the parmesan on top was a good salt component.

I had more sauce than the quantities above so I froze the rest. Someday it’ll be insta-pumpkin-mac. It was pretty thick and I may add some chicken stock to thin it out a bit. That helps mac & cheese have real flavor without being milky without highlighting the cheese.

The Three Bite Rule - Pumpkin Mac & Cheese

Greek Chicken Pizza

This was one of those oops moments and times that I had to channel my inner Tim Gunn…make it work! I really meant this to be a calzone. Earlier this month we were celebrating sis’s bday with a calzone dinner and this one just could become a calzone. I was having dough challenges and as I started to get frustrated but had to remind myself sometimes it just doesn’t go how you want, but as long as it is still edible, then it can still be a success.

The Three Bite Rule - Greek Chicken Pizza
The challenge was that I was trying to rush the defrosting of the dough. Some things you just can’t rush. That’s kind of my soap-box lesson of the day. I was getting a hole-y dough with frozen lumps that just wasn’t working out. I plopped it onto the pizza stone hoping it would “cook” enough to keep the shape so I could fill it then fold the crust over. No dice. Where it plopped it stayed and pizza it became.

Ingredients:

1 large zucchini
2 tbs fresh oregano
3 cups chopped baby spinach
1-2 tomatoes, chopped
1/2 cup feta
1 (or 1/2) ball of pizza dough
2 small chicken breasts, or 3-4 chicken tenders marinated in Italian dressing.

Directions:

Preheat the oven and pizza stone (if using one) to 400-degrees.
Chop the zucchini and sauté for about 5 minutes over medium heat, until cooked through, before getting squishy. Then add in the fresh oregano at the end.
The Three Bite Rule - Greek Chicken Pizza
Add in the tomatoes, feta, and spinach.
The Three Bite Rule - Greek Chicken Pizza
Cook for another 3 minutes.
Spread out the pizza dough onto the pan and bake for about 5 minutes. Cook just enough to go from doughy to lightly crisped.
Cook or grill the chicken until cooked through. Then slice into chunks when cooled.
Top with marinara, then mozzarella, then with the veggies and chicken.
The Three Bite Rule - Greek Chicken Pizza
Bake for 10-15 minutes until the crust crisps and the cheese melts.

This was a good pizza. It wasn’t drastically different than some of my others but these are fresh, veggie-centric flavors I love. I really wanted it to be a calzone, but I’m also thinking the “filling”/toppings would be good with pasta or in a pita.
The Three Bite Rule - Greek Chicken Pizza

Butternut Squash & Apple Soup

I was thinking about what convenience items are worth the spurge. I especially was thinking about it while trying to get the knife through some butternut squashes. Those suckers are definitely tough to cut so it can be your call if you want to save some dollars and halve the squash yourself, orrrr if you want to pay to get it all skinned and chopped. I cut through them but didn’t peal before roasting. It was super easy to scoop it out once they were cooked.

The Three Bite Rule - Butternut Squash & Apple Soup

Ingredients: (makes ~4-6 servings)

2 small butternut squash
2 large apples, pealed & chopped
1/2 yellow onion, chopped
2 tbs butter
1 1/2 cups veggie stock
3 tbs half and half

Directions:

Preheat the oven to 400-degrees.
Cut the squash in half and roast for 45-60 minutes.
The Three Bite Rule - Butternut Squash & Apple Soup
In a large pot, heat to medium high heat and add in the apples and onion with butter. Cook for 10 minutes until the onions are translucent and the apples are soft. The butter will get all bubbly and brown.
The Three Bite Rule - Butternut Squash & Apple Soup
Scoop out the squash seeds and spoon the squash pulp into the pot with the apples and onion.
The Three Bite Rule - Butternut Squash & Apple Soup
Add in the stock and cook for 5 minutes or so.
Transfer into a blender or blend with an immersion blender then return to the pot.
Season with salt and pepper. Add more stock if it is too thick for your liking.
Add in the cream and stir well.

I loved this. It was so good with a touch of sweetness from the apple and I toasted some sourdough for dunking. I froze the rest and will be so glad to pull it out of the freezer some day when I’m not into making dinner. I know, the apples just keep appearing…that’ll be over soon.

The Three Bite Rule - Butternut Squash & Apple Soup
Bailee oversaw the whole operation. She likes to know what is happening in the kitchen if there’s food around and she wanted to say hi.
IMG_4592

Roasted Red Pepper Romanesco Sauce

The last time we ordered pizza our specialty pie had roasted red peppers on it. It made me think, woah, that’s an ingredient I guess I assumed Mr. J wasn’t into, annnnnd it is a veggie I don’t use often. That was all about to change.

I was aided when I scored 3 red peppers in the clearance produce for $0.68. Insane! The peppers were fine if used in about 5-7 days. They weren’t squishy or shriveled at all.

The Three Bite Rule - Romanesco Sauce

Ingredients:

(sauce yields 4+ servings)
3 red bell peppers (or double the jarred roasted red peppers)
2 medium tomatoes
1/2 jar roasted red peppers
2 tbs minced garlic
1/3 cup toasted pine nuts or toasted walnuts
1/4 cup Parmesan cheese
1 tbs lemon juice
3-4 tbs olive oil
2 tsp heavy cream (optional)
pasta

Directions:

Preheat the oven to 400-degrees.
Half the tomatoes and fresh red peppers. Brush or drizzle with olive oil and bake for 20 minutes.
Flip once and bake another 10 minutes.
Remove and put into a plastic bag, or cover with plastic wrap for 5 minutes then release the steam and pull off the skin.
In a food processor, blend all the red peppers, tomatoes, garlic, parmesan cheese, nuts, lemon juice, and olive oil.
The Three Bite Rule - Romanesco Sauce
Blend 30 seconds to a minute.
The Three Bite Rule - Romanesco Sauce
Bring salted water to boil for the pasta.
Scoop out the sauce in a large skillet over medium low heat. Add cream, or some starchy pasta water.
The Three Bite Rule - Romanesco Sauce
Toss the pasta with the sauce.
The Three Bite Rule - Romanesco Sauce
I liked this a lot. It had a great flavor to make dinner feel a bit different. The sauce was thick and a bit textured (from the nuts). I love sauce so it was great to me, or you can blend more for a more silky sauce that would stick to the pasta a bit less.

I think the sauce has great potential for a ton of uses. It would be good on a sandwich, panini, or wrap. I’d like it on pizza too. It would definitely be a fun twist on bruschetta.

Tomato and Corn Tart

Before I get all apple & pumpkin obsessed I needed a few more farmer’s market treasures to get their highlights. That’s the beauty of this exact point in the season. The weather is blissful and rejuvenating. Produce is still at the peak with even more delights to come. I saw some really beautiful heirloom tomatoes that I knew wouldn’t be around even one week longer.

Tomato & Corn Tart - The Three Bite Rule

I used the tomatoes and some sweet corn with just a touch of seriously sharp cheddar. The soft puff pastry for the tart made this really easy but decadent.

Ingredients:

1 sheet puff pastry
2 heirloom tomatoes
1 ear of corn
3 slices of cheddar cheese

Directions:

Shuck and boil the corn cob until cooked through.
Slice the tomatoes and lay on paper towel for about 10 minutes.
Tomato & Corn Tart - The Three Bite Rule
Lay the puff pastry onto a baking sheet either sprayed with non-stick spray or ontop of a silicone mat or parchment paper.
Layer most of the cheddar on top of the pastry.
Then top with slices of tomato.
Tomato & Corn Tart - The Three Bite Rule
Top with corn.
Then layer with the rest of the tomato and rest of the corn.
Tomato & Corn Tart - The Three Bite Rule
Sprinkle on salt and pepper and remaining cheese.
Fold the edges around just over onto the filling. Pinch the crust together.
Tomato & Corn Tart - The Three Bite Rule
Bake 20-30 minutes at 350-degrees until the crust bakes through and browns.
Tomato & Corn Tart - The Three Bite Rule
I loved this. The puff pastry is so buttery that I thought it was perfect, though pie crust would work too. I didn’t want to overdo it on the cheese. It was such a fresh and comforting meal.
Tomato & Corn Tart - The Three Bite Rule
This would be fun as little cups in a muffin pan. Other veggies would be good: asparagus & corn; zucchini & tomato; tomato & basil.