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.

Caprese Mac & Cheese

This will be a light week here on The Three Bite Rule until after labor day. I feel like everyone really has the mentality that there’s only a short time to make the most of the end of summer. Summer food isn’t over but September is fast approaching!

I have been looooving the 70-degree days we’ve been having here in New England. I like being able to turn the oven on occasionally. I made some Caprese Mac & Cheese with the plethora of cherry tomatoes from the garden.

The Three Bite Rule - Caprese Mac & Cheese

Ingredients:

1/2 pound penne rigate
4 tbs butter, and another 2 tbs for topping
1/2 cup flour
1/2 cup low-fat milk
1/2 cup heavy cream
1 cup gruyere cheese
1 1/2 cup cheddar cheese
1 1/2 – 2 cups cherry tomatoes
1/2 tsp garlic powder
1 tsp dijon mustard (optional)
salt & pepper
1 cup seasoned bread crumbs
1/2 tsp dried basil
2 tbs parmesan cheese (optional)

Directions:

Preheat the oven to 350-degrees.
Bring a large pot of salted water to boil and cook the pasta to al dente.
In a medium sauce pan melt 4 tbs butter over medium heat, then add the flour and whisk together cooking for about 5 minutes.
Add in the milk and cream and stir well over medium low heat until combined.
Drop the tomatoes onto a sheet pan and drizzle with olive oil and a sprinkle of sea salt. Up the oven temp to a broil and cook them for 5 minutes being careful not to let them burn.
The Three Bite Rule - Caprese Mac & Cheese
Slowly add in 3/4 of the cheese and stir.
The Three Bite Rule - Caprese Mac & Cheese
Add salt, pepper, garlic powder, and mustard.
Mix in the pasta to the cheese sauce.
The Three Bite Rule - Caprese Mac & Cheese
Spray a baking dish with nonstick spray and spoon in 1/2 the mac & cheese.
Sprinkle 1/2 the basil and 1/2 the tomatoes and 1/2 the remaining cheese.
The Three Bite Rule - Caprese Mac & Cheese
Repeat another layer on top of pasta, basil, tomatoes, and cheese.
The Three Bite Rule - Caprese Mac & Cheese
Melt the remaining 2 tbs of butter and mix with breadcrumbs, parmesan, and dried basil.
Sprinkle on top and bake for 40 minutes.
The Three Bite Rule - Caprese Mac & Cheese
I liked the light flavored cheeses allowing the tomatoes and basil to pop. It felt summery even if mac & cheese isn’t truly a summer dish. I also was proud that the tomatoes and basil were home-grown.
The Three Bite Rule - Caprese Mac & Cheese

Greek Pita Pizza Redo

This Greek Pita pizza is one of the easiest dinners ever. I figured this uber old post circa 2011 deserved a re-do. I love the tapanade, spinach, and feta flavors. Making the pizza on pita bread means less than 15-minutes of cooking time. I added zucchini to it as well in case your farmer’s market finds or garden zuccs are out of control. This is a very veggie-centric meal  if you, like me, ate your weight in fun vacation-foods like pizza, and duck over mushroom risotto, and lobster mac & cheese, and blueberry ice cream…more on that later, now it is time for some veggies.

The Three Bite Rule - Greek Pita Pizza

Ingredients:

4 wheat pita breads
1 cup prepared tapanade
2 cups zucchini, sliced or chopped
2 cups fresh spinach
1 cup shredded mozzarella
1 cup feta

Directions:

In a large skillet, cook the zucchini over medium-low heat with a drizzle of olive oil, for about 3-4 minutes.
Add chopped spinach and cook for another 2 minutes until the spinach begins to wilt, but doesn’t get over cooked.
The Three Bite Rule - Greek Pita Pizza
Preheat the oven to 400-degrees.
Spread the tapanade over the crusts.
The Three Bite Rule - Greek Pita Pizza
Then add mozzarella, and the spinach & zucchini mixture to the top. Sprinkle with dried oregano.
The Three Bite Rule - Greek Pita Pizza
Add feta on top and bake for 10-15 minutes. Cook for ~15 if eating it right away. If reheating another time for a different lunch or dinner, cook 10 minutes.
The Three Bite Rule - Greek Pita Pizza
I love this one. The flavors are all really good and there aren’t many ingredients. One of the keys is the tapanade. I used a red pepper & artichoke tapanade, but any you find would work. I don’t like olives so I use this one or sundried tomato pesto for this pizza.
The Three Bite Rule - Greek Pita Pizza
I don’t always add the zucchini so that can be optional. Fresh spinach is good or frozen spinach with all the water squeezed out. This one can be whipped up with mostly freezer/pantry ingredients!

Steakhouse Flatbread Pizzas

I was wanting to make his & hers pizzas. I don’t eat beef and Mr. J isn’t into mushrooms so this was the perfect time for individual pizzas. I was really into the idea of buttery mushrooms with a really good cheese. Being pregnant means only pasteurized cheeses and I had envisioned fontina but couldn’t find one labeled as such. I figure they are, but I’m not taking any chances. I found some asiago (labeled as pasteurized) and thought that would be good.

Steakhouse Flatbread Pizza - The Three Bite Rule
I had some naan pieces from Trader Joe’s which made really great individual pizzas.

Ingredients:

Pizza dough/flatbread/pita bread
1/4 red onion, chopped
3 tbs cream cheese
2 tbs milk
1 tbs garlic
1/2 tsp garlic powder
1/4 cup Parmesan cheese, grated
3 oz shiitake or portabella mushrooms, sliced
1 cup mozzarella
1 cup asiago

Directions:

Saute chopped onions in olive oil over medium heat for 5-10 minutes until soft and lightly browned.
Steakhouse Flatbread Pizza - The Three Bite Rule
Mix up the cream cheese, milk, garlic, garlic powder, Parmesan, salt and pepper.
Steakhouse Flatbread Pizza - The Three Bite Rule
In a large skillet, melt butter over medium heat until it starts to foam. Add in the mushrooms and cook for 5 minutes.
Steakhouse Flatbread Pizza - The Three Bite Rule
Spread the flatbreads with the cream cheese sauce, then mozzarella and asiago.
Add onions and mushrooms on top.
Steakhouse Flatbread Pizza - The Three Bite Rule
Sprinkle remaining asiago on top.
Bake 5-10 minutes at 350-degrees until toasted and the cheese melts.
Steakhouse Flatbread Pizza - The Three Bite Rule
Enjoy!

I loved this one. The mushrooms were buttery and paired perfectly with the asiago.
Steakhouse Flatbread Pizza - The Three Bite Rule
Mr. J grilled some marinated steak tips and sliced it for the pizza. His started with the same flatbread, cream cheese sauce, mozzarella and asiago cheese mixture, onions, then topped with sliced steak.
Steakhouse Flatbread Pizza - The Three Bite Rule
These individual pizzas were topped with what we each like. These are a great to really customize for separate preferences but would also be a great way to use small amounts of leftovers.

Roasted Beets and Potatoes

I like beets but I really never make them. I think I like them when somebody makes them for me ;)

I mean, the grocery store sells so many ridiculously prepared things yet not roasted beets. It isn’t rocket science to roast them, but trying not to stain my hands, clothes, cutting boards while also not bringing the kitchen temperature to 1000 degrees.

I hadn’t decided what I wanted to do with some beets from the farmer’s market. Off to pinterest! I found The Heritage Cook’s beets and potatoes and thought it was a great combo. I thought it was a great starting point for me. I added the mustard and lemon juice to wake up the flavors and keep it fresh tasting.

Roasted Beets & Potatoes - The Three Bite Rule

Ingredients:

3 beets
2 potatoes
1 sweet potato
3 tbs melted butter
1 tbs lemon juice
1 tsp dijon mustard
1 tbs chopped garlic
1/2 tsp dried rosemary
salt & pepper
1/2 tsp chopped chives
1/4 tsp chopped fresh rosemary

Directions:

Preheat the oven to 350-degrees.
Trim the beet greens off the beet and rinse well.
Rub with olive oil and loosely wrap in aluminum foil. Roast for 40 minutes. Poke with a fork to check if they are cooked through. Let cool to room temperature.

Roasted Beets & Potatoes - The Three Bite Rule
Quarter the potatoes, then boil the potatoes until cooked most of the way through.
When the beets are cool enough to handle, use a paper towel to rub the skin off. Then chop into quarters.
Roasted Beets & Potatoes - The Three Bite Rule
Heat a large heavy skillet to medium high heat.
Whisk together melted butter, lemon juice, mustard, garlic, dried rosemary, salt, & pepper.
Roasted Beets & Potatoes - The Three Bite Rule
Add the potatoes to the hot pan and the whisked dressing. Cook for 5 minutes to crisp the potatoes.
Roasted Beets & Potatoes - The Three Bite Rule
Remove the potatoes from the heat, into a large bowl. Add the beets. Pour the remaining liquid over the bowl and toss once. (Tossing too much will make everything beet-colored pink.)
Sprinkle in the fresh herbs.
Roasted Beets & Potatoes - The Three Bite Rule
This was good and paired well with a grilled pork chop. I didn’t want it to be too fall-feeling. Originally I was going to grill the potatoes, but I usually cook them a bit first. I cooked them a bit too much to then grill. I didn’t want them to fall apart, so I added them all to the skillet.

The sweet potato with the beets with the potato all complimented each other.
Roasted Beets & Potatoes - The Three Bite Rule

Kale Pesto Pasta Salad

Last fall Mr. J found a recipe for roasted kale pesto that he served over pork chops and polenta. I loved it and figured the pesto would be great for pasta salad.

The Three Bite Rule - Roasted Kale Pesto Pasta Salad

Ingredients:

1 head of kale
1/4 to 1/2 cup olive oil
1/2 cup walnuts
2 tbs lemon juice
3 tbs Parmesan
1/2 pound pasta

Directions:

Preheat the oven to 400 degrees.
Tear the kale off the stems and spread onto a sheet pan.
Drizzle with olive oil, salt & pepper.
kale_pesto_590_390
Bake for 5 minutes, check and flip being careful not to let it burn. Cook for another 3 minutes.
The Three Bite Rule - Roasted Kale Pesto Pasta Salad
Transfer into a food processor with walnuts, lemon juice, Parmesan, salt, and pepper.
The Three Bite Rule - Roasted Kale Pesto Pasta Salad
Blend until smooth while slowly streaming in the olive oil until you reach your desired thickness.
The Three Bite Rule - Roasted Kale Pesto Pasta Salad
Let cool. Boil salted water for the pasta. Cook until al dente and drain.
Toss with the pesto.
The Three Bite Rule - Roasted Kale Pesto Pasta Salad
Refrigerate over night, or at least 8 hours.
Toss with a drizzle of oil if it is too dry.
The Three Bite Rule - Roasted Kale Pesto Pasta Salad
I loved this. It could easily be a cool meal for some hot-weather. The pesto is unbelievable. I love this pesto but I think it blows regular pasta salad out of the water. That creamy mayo-heavy sweet pasta salad has nothing on this.

I couldn’t believe how much the color changed. The flavor deepens with time.