Tomato Basil Polenta Bowls

I hadn’t anticipated what a hit these would be for the little one. He ate so much that he ate what would have been my leftovers for lunch the next day! The base is canned tomatoes, white beans, spinach, and basil topped with a polenta cake and melted cheese. It was an easy meal to prep in advance for a quick #meatlessmonday !
The Three Bite Rule - Tomato Basil Polenta Bowls
I liked the warm & comforting nature of this dinner, especially for a cold night. I imagine it would have reheated nicely, but some three-year-old I know ate about 4 servings-worth. Seriously, what am I going to do when he’s a teenager?

Ok, onto my soap box: go get some Pastene Kitchen Ready Tomatoes. Not sponsored- they have no idea who I am. These are the best for pizza sauce and as an everyday tomato sauce. I looooove that there isn’t any sugar, check out your go-to tomato sauce. It likely has tons of sugar, and prob a surprising amount of sodium. Jazz it up however you like but I promise you’ll love it!

Tomato Basil Polenta Bowls


~2 cups Pastene Kitchen Ready Tomatoes, or tomato sauce
1, 15 oz can of white beans, drained & rinsed
2 cups spinach, chopped
6-8 basil leaves, chopped chiffonade
1 cup instant polenta prepared, or 1- 18 oz tube sliced into disks
1/4 cup shredded mozzarella
salt & pepper


If using dry, instant polenta, prepare according to directions and pour into a baking dish. (I used instant and prepared it the morning before serving. I covered and refrigerated until dinner time.)
Add Kitchen Ready Tomatoes, white beans, chopped spinach, salt & pepper to a large pan over low heat. Cook for ~10 minutes to warm through, stirring occasionally. Add in basil at the end.
The Three Bite Rule - Tomato Basil Polenta Bowls
In a small skillet, pan fry disks of polenta in a drizzle of olive oil, just until crisped and warm. (I used instant polenta that I cut out with a biscuit cutter- or maybe it was a slider ring, who knows.)
The Three Bite Rule - Tomato Basil Polenta Bowls
Flip and top with shredded cheese. Pop under a broiler for just a minute to melt.
The Three Bite Rule - Tomato Basil Polenta Bowls
Serve polenta cake on top of the bean mixture. Enjoy!
The Three Bite Rule - Tomato Basil Polenta Bowls

Turtle Hot Chocolate

I can’t stop! Hot chocolate with all the flavorings and toppings are like the acceptable version of a sundae anytime of the day! This hot chocolate is caramel, chocolate, and pecans- just like the candy turtle!
The Three Bite Rule - Turtle Hot Chocolate

I used some salted caramel hot chocolate mix (half that, half regular) but a generous spoonful of caramel sauce into the hot chocolate works great too! I stole my pecans out of trail mix but walnuts taste great if you have them instead.

Turtle Hot Chocolate, for 2


hot water & cocoa mix, quantities according to package (6-8oz per mug)
1-2 teaspoons salted caramel sauce
1/2 teaspoon almond extract (or spike it with almond liquor! I didn’t even think of that at the time!!)
1 teaspoon chocolate hazelnut spread
whipped cream
5-6 pecans, chopped


Prepare the hot chocolate according to the instructions. (I used half salted caramel hot chocolate & half regular.)
The Three Bite Rule - Turtle Hot Chocolate
Mix hazelnut spread, almond extract, and caramel sauce into the hot chocolate. (I skipped the caramel sauce in the hot chocolate since my mix was flavored).
Top with whipped cream, a drizzle of caramel sauce, and pecans.

This is such a great treat. I wanted a real nutty flavor to come through and I tasted it. I’d totally make this as dessert, or some of those flavors would be good in coffee too! I have another junked up hot chocolate idea…stay tuned! In the meantime there are a few dinners in store.
The Three Bite Rule - Turtle Hot Chocolate

January 2018 Recap

January brought the new year and I feel ready for 2018! More importantly, January meant our little man turned 3! I can’t believe it! We had a fun birthday party with a waffle bar! I meant to blog it and really wanted to, but being in the moment, not rushing to prep before the fam arrived, and paying attention to the birthday boy were all more important.
I’m totally into jazzed up hot chocolate. I made a Hot Chocolate with Raspberry and White Chocolate. So good. It started when NYE was just too cold for our traditional milkshakes so we went for hot chocolate with toppings. I have more ideas ahead, stay tuned!
The Three Bite Rule - Hot Chocolate w/ Raspberry & White Chocolate
#MeatlessMondays are a thing here for the last few months so I did a meatless Monday round up.

I was really excited to make this Cheeseburger Layer Dip, especially in time for the superbowl!
The Three Bite Rule - Cheeseburger Dip

The Little One:

He’s so big! He was proud to show his new age with his fingers. He was pretty amped up during his family party and after his nap he was so much calmer and focused. We’ve been playing a lot of trains and play doh. I was glad we could capitalize on any days that weren’t too cold. Getting outside is so important. Food-wise, he was into tacos and a dinner of white bean/tomato/spinach with polenta.

This year’s goals: 

Year of the candle: Yup, mint chocolate candle for this chilly month. 
Cook more appetizers/snacks:
Yes! I made 2! I made caesar deviled eggs and cheeseburger layer dip!  
Taking time to blog thoughtfully: 
Journal the cute moments of my little one: Yes, I’ve noted a few amusing comments- often a “did you know that” or “I didn’t know that”
What I’m reading: 
 I read Necessary Lies and zoomed through it. I’m pretty far into my next one. 
What I’m watching: 
This is Us, the Superbowl (for the snacks), and The Amazing Race. We watched a few movies: Stronger & Battle of the Sexes.

Mealtime for our Family & Preschooler

Our little one is an eater. He’s seriously into food and has quite the appetite. I can’t get over how much food he can put away! I’m no expert, this isn’t a how-to, all kiddos are different but here is what’s happening in our kitchen/at our table at this season of our lives. Let’s start with the fact that he’s into food and doesn’t question different textures- that’s him as a person. I’m coming at mealtime from my own perspective, not a one-size-fits-all with a hungry kid who likes to eat and as a Momma who values food, cooking, and meals. This guy forgave us after the first 5 weeks of life when he really would have benefited from a supplement of formula sooner, and has been eating non-stop ever since. Fed is best, but that’s another story.

Timing of Eating & Milk:

On weekends, he eats breakfast soon after waking- often 8ish. His bfast of choice is waffles/dry cereal/toast and fruit. Mid morning milk. Lunch is mid-day. He’ll always pick peanut butter & jelly, if available, with tomatoes/cukes/apples etc. After lunch he has a little digestion time and then a 2-ish hour nap. Milk after the nap. Dinner tends to be somewhere between 5:30-6:15 with milk before bed, and he’s in bed @ 7:30ish. We don’t offer snacks so he doesn’t really ask for them – milk is pretty much fulfilling this. Sometimes we’ll offer a snack if he’s up earlier from the nap, also if we’re going to go out for an errand or something.

Weekdays he’s up earlier and daycare does a mid-morning snack and an after-nap snack usually. I wonder if since we’ve packing lunch at daycare his whole life, that has been part of him knowing he can only eat what’s served- no substitutions.


We’ve worked hard to give him what we eat, without substitutions. The motto at our table is “you don’t have to eat it”. He doesn’t have to finish anything but there’s no substitutions. We caught ourselves when he was smaller sometimes adding to his dinner if he wasn’t eating much. He also noticed and we nipped that. I do think we’re mindful of there being a few things on his plate, and we know what he’ll definitely like- like a random raw veggie I’m assured he’ll eat. We point out what each thing is so he’ll have the vocabulary of food and to have a second to see & understand what the meal is. I’ve tried to be in the habit of saying “you’re not hungry for eggs right now? maybe next time.” versus “you don’t like it?”.

Most days we all sit for breakfast together- each eating whatever our breakfast of choice is. Most nights we all eat together. If possible, I give him a head start since it takes him longer. I’ve been working hard to prep most dinners in advance so there’s less to start on weeknights at 5:45pm and so he can start, and Daddy and I join in and eat the same thing when he’s home off the train. One weeknight per week we do “anything goes” so we might eat different dinners – leftovers/eggs/something quick. Friday nights are takeout & DVR for the grown ups so he’ll eat first and we eat when he goes to bed. We cherish this ritual- as much as cooking and eating together.

For us, parents decide what’s for dinner, and when dinner is. Our kid can decide which things he wants to eat, and how much. He can have 2nds, 3rds of anything but not anything different than the dinner. Holidays/parties/etc all bets are off. I notice he eats less at a bigger family meal, but that’s fine.

In the kitchen:

He likes to be on a stool at the counter. Sometimes he can “help”, like putting the chopped veggie from the cutting board onto a pan to roast. I show him foods as they’re cooking. It is important to me that he sees what something looks like raw, or the stem, etc. Just the other day I gave him an avocado pit to touch- he thought it was hysterical. To get into the mindset of the meal being ready, often we’ll have him pick his plate/bowl which he can reach. He doesn’t get to decide what’s for dinner, but he can choose a plate. Here he is “taking a picture”….wonder where he got that idea ;)

At the table:

He’s in his highchair pulled up to the table. He needs the reminder to use his fork/spoon. I’d estimate he eats 80% of foods with silverware. Most meals he needs reminders not to play with any food, and to keep his legs down and stay pushed in. For now, he doesn’t mind at all to wear a bib. Because of our dogs, we strive for all food to be eaten at the table, still sometimes the lab needs to be separated from eating crumbs off the toddler’s lap the entire meal!


Pasta, avocado, beans, peanut butter & jelly sandwiches, waffles, rice, yogurt, feta cheese, all fruits, tomatoes, cucumbers, carrots, sweet pickles, muffins, mustard, applesauce, quesadillas, and the list goes on. He’s less interested in meat at the moment. Eggs are hit or miss. He finds lettuce hard to chew. Below he forsake the fork for his Christmas dessert of cheesecake with cherries.

On variety:

I shoot for variety for us all, but for him especially. I want him to see that foods he likes can look different. Cheeses, pasta shapes, rice/grains etc don’t just look one way, and we don’t only eat them with one flavor. It was messier, but I gave him tiny soft tacos the other night and he did great holding and biting them. I wondered what he’s think about a white bean/tomato/spinach thing with polenta and he ate soooo much of it. As much as I want him seeing and experiencing new food, he still surprises us with what he’s into sometimes.

Here’s this week’s menu:

Sunday: was the Patriots playoff game so we had “sports snacks” Cheeseburger Layer Dip & raw veggies with dressing.
Monday: White beans with tomato sauce & spinach and polenta cakes – he went to town and ended up eating what would have been my leftovers for lunch!
Tuesday: Tacos (mine = ground pork, T & Daddy = ground beef) with avocado, tomatoes, cheese, salsa inside, and some Mexican Street Corn on the side.
Wednesday: Rigatoni with creamy tomato sauce
Thursday: Chicken wraps with sweet potato fries
Friday: takeout for us parents and something easy- maybe a quesadilla or mac & cheese for T.

Cheeseburger Layer Dip

“The Big Game” is fast approaching! I’m a bit more focused on the snacks, halftime show, and commercials with a lesser priority being the actual game. Can I say that in New England? It is the truth. I’m really just here for the snacks. Playoff games have been especially helpful for that! Just the other night I whipped up this cheeseburger layer dip as dinner during the game. Maybe it was good luck?
The Three Bite Rule - Cheeseburger Dip

Bacon Cheeseburger Layer Dip


3/4 pound ground meat (I used ground chicken, or use beef/pork)
2-3 strips of bacon
1 teaspoon liquid smoke (optional)
1/2 teaspoon minced onion
1/2 teaspoon ground mustard
1/2 teaspoon mixed seasoning (I used Todd’s Dirt, or use hamburger seasoning or Mrs. Dash)
special sauce: 1 tablespoon each: ketchup; mayo; mustard; 1 teaspoon worcestershire sauce
1 cup shredded cheddar
1/2 tomato
6 pickle chips
sturdy crackers (wheat thins or pita) or bread for dipping


Saute the ground meat in a large pan, and add in the liquid smoke, minced onion, ground mustard, and seasoning for the last minute of cooking.
Chop the bacon into a hot pan and fry until crisp. Drain on paper towel.
Spray a baking dish with non-stick spray and put the ground meat on the bottom and the crisp bacon on top.
The Three Bite Rule - Cheeseburger Dip
Add on a drizzle of special sauce. Then sprinkle the cheese on top and bake for 10 minutes to melt.
The Three Bite Rule - Cheeseburger Dip
While the dip is in the oven, chop the toppings. Take the dip out of the oven for ~5 minutes before adding toppings. It should be warm, but not hot to wilt all the toppings.
Sprinkle on the lettuce, tomato, pickles, and sesame seeds.
The Three Bite Rule - Cheeseburger Dip
Serve with crackers, chips, or bread to dip.

This was so fun! It was our dinner of “sports snacks”. The little one totally go it, but asked for a spoon and seemed to enjoy in a bowl rather than dipped. Add this to your menu, especially if you already have spinach and artichoke dip and nachos. I love the cool toppings with warm and cheesy dip. Perfect!

The Three Bite Rule - Cheeseburger Dip
What are you serving for the game?

Guest Post: Portobello Mushroom Burgers

I’m so psyched to share this guest post with you today! I’d totally order this if I saw it on a menu too! This is such great timing because winter calls for flavor and decadence. These photos have me drooling. Sign me up. About the author: Ben is a former semi-pro cyclist and big eater. Now he is just a big eater. He writes about food and drink for lazy chefs at The Online Grill. Here you go!

I’m an easy meal obsessive. Some people interpret that as ‘lazy’, and they might be right, but I prefer to say that I’m just more efficient. I like my recipes quick and simple, and today’s recipe is no exception.

Lately I’ve been going through a stage of trying to reimagine popular recipes for vegetarians. From breakfast egg pizzas to spicy quorn avocado wraps, I’ve been adamant to prove that meat-free options are in no way inferior to their non-vegetarian counterparts. Perhaps this recipe today is the best example of that: Portobello mushroom burgers.
The Three Bite Rule - Guest Post Portobello & Halloumi Burgers

I tried these at a restaurant in London last week, and at the time the only reason I chose it is because it looked like the only thing on the menu that wouldn’t give me a heart attack. I was right, and having survived I knew that I wanted to recreate this recipe as soon as possible.

It’s been a week and I’ve already made it twice. I’m completely hooked. This recipe is my favourite thing to cook at the moment, and pretty soon it will be yours too.
So what makes this so good? Its beautiful blend of spice, herbs and honey makes it a tangy and sweet blend of pure awesomeness. Plus it packs in haloumi – my favourite meal cheese.
The Three Bite Rule - Guest Post Portobello & Halloumi Burgers

I’m really excited to share this recipe with you guys, so do please let me know what you think! I’d love to know if any of you have made any variations of it, and I’m keen to find out if any of you don’t like haloumi… because I don’t think that such a person exists.
The Three Bite Rule - Guest Post Portobello & Halloumi Burgers

Portobello & Haloumi Burgers

Serves 4

You will need…

1 large avocado
1 lemon
2 tablespoons olive oil
4 portobello mushrooms, stalks trimmed
1 garlic clove, minced
4 thyme sprigs, leaves picked
1 long red chilli, seeds removed, finely chopped
1 tablespoon honey
2 tablespoons apple cider vinegar
4 thick slices of haloumi
4 burger buns, cut open
Wild rocket leaves, to serve
Mayonnaise, to serve

The Three Bite Rule - Guest Post Portobello & Halloumi Burgers

Let’s Make This Thing!

Heat up the oil in a frying pan on a medium heat. While it’s heating up, mash the avocado in a bowl with a fork or (my personal favourite) a potato masher. Once it reaches a good consistency, drizzle it with half the lemon juice and set aside or in your fridge.
Add the mushrooms to the frying pan. Cook for about 5 minutes, turning halfway through, or until slightly softened.
Add a little more oil to the pan (still with the mushrooms in) and add the thyme, garlic, chilli, lemon zest and remaining lemon juice. Cook for a couple of minutes, coating the mushrooms in the ingredients.
The Three Bite Rule - Guest Post Portobello & Halloumi Burgers
Add the honey, vinegar and ½ tsp salt and cook for a further minute, ensuring the mushrooms are as coated as possible. Then remove the pan from heat and set to one side, heat up a second frying pan to a medium-high heat and add the haloumi. Turn frequently and cook for between 2-4 minutes, until golden.
Lightly toast the buns either in a toaster or under the grill. Add the avocado between the bun bases, and top with a mushroom each, as well as the haloumi, rocket, mayo and bun tops.

The Three Bite Rule - Guest Post Portobello & Halloumi Burgers

Yum. Now, do you want to be a guest blogger? I’d be glad to have you! Feel free to reach out at  

Hot Chocolate with Raspberry & White Chocolate

New England’s frigid temps lately have been ohh so freezing and inspiring all the cozy. I feel accomplished that the little one knows after playing in the snow, the next activity is to: get cozy on the couch…blankets, books, and snuggles. While today might feel like spring here in New England, 50s! Woah! I know there’s some more chilly temps ahead. Thus, where my hot chocolate with raspberry & white chocolate comes in! None for the little one, but I know this’ll be dessert on the couch, some night in the near future again!
The Three Bite Rule - Hot Chocolate w/ Raspberry & White Chocolate

This recipe has a few specialty ingredients…which I know I don’t love when I see them in recipes- the white hot chocolate & the raspberry syrup. I’m including a few work-around below if an an alternative is helpful.

Hot Chocolate with Raspberry & White Chocolate


2-3 tablespoons hot chocolate mix (check product for ratios)
1 tablespoon white hot chocolate mix (I used this one, or my grocery store has individual serving packets, 2/$1)
8 oz water/milk
1/4 cup raspberries (I used frozen, plucked from a frozen mixed berry bag)
whipped cream
2 teaspoons raspberry syrup (sold near maple syrups)


Heat water to warm but not boiling & mix in hot chocolate and white hot chocolate. Stir well.
The Three Bite Rule - Hot Chocolate w/ Raspberry & White Chocolate
Gently press the raspberries with a spoon to break them down a bit and mix the raspberries & 1 teaspoon of syrup into the hot chocolate.
Spoon out any raspberry solids (if desired – I skimmed a few out)
Add whipped cream & 1 teaspoon of raspberry syrup.

substitution ideas:

white hot chocolate mix: I used this – partly because we had it. It is a delight in coffee (hot & iced), but peek at the grocery store, or amazon has millions. It feels like it lasts forever. Stir in a few white chocolate chips if that feels easier!
raspberry syrup: I used this – because we also have it for pancakes/waffles. Another idea would be to boil some raspberries with a splash of water & then strain.

The Three Bite Rule - Hot Chocolate w/ Raspberry & White Chocolate
LOVED the subtle white chocolate in there. Go full white hot chocolate if that’s your thing. I thought it might be too sweet for me, but it sure would be pretty!

Now that you have your hands wrapped around a cozy drink, is your couch getting as much cozy time as mine?


I quietly instituted Meatless Mondays at our house. I sort of regularly planned or scheduled a meatless meal during our week but back in November I consciously planned them for Mondays and tried to keep them varied. I mean, pasta seems like the easiest & fastest dinner without meat and is a favorite food of mine so I might have been happy to eat pasta every Monday night! There were still a bunch of pastas on my Mondays but everything has felt different so far! Summer definitely seems like an easier season but it is a good habit I hope to keep up.

The verdict? So far so good! They don’t have to be Mondays necessarily, but I did totally find it helpful for speedier meals to start the week! I’ll keep at it and maybe it’ll stretch me to be more creative. We could definitely eat more veggies.

Here have been some of my favs:

Fall Fettuccine with Roasted Squash, Sage, & Alfredo
The Three Bite Rule - Fall Fettuccine
Baked Falafel Bowls
The Three Bite Rule - Falafel Bowl
Bean & Cheese Quesadillas/Burritos – I froze a few burritos with beans, 2 cheeses, brown rice, and corn for lunches too!

Kale Pesto over Gnocchi
The Three Bite Rule - Kale Pesto

Spaghetti w/ Tomato Sauce- I was solo parenting and had strep- the worsttttt. A 2-ingredient dinner was perfect- using my fav Kitchen Ready Tomatoes of course.

Grilled cheese & Tomato Soup – this may have been the first time the little one ate soup. He was into it!

Bfast for Dinner: eggs & hashbrowns

Veggie Calzone with Fire-Roasted Tomatoes
The Three Bite Rule - Fire Roasted Veggie Calzone


Fish tacos with Pear Pomegranate Salsa
The Three Bite Rule - Pomegranate Pear Salsa

Sesame Noodles & Edamame
The Three Bite Rule - Sesame Noodles
I think that’s been most of them so far. It was also refreshing for a busy season to rely on many tried and true favs and not focus on new concepts and blogging all of them.

A bunch of my lunches tend to be vegetarian- quiche, soup, crostini, jazzy grilled cheeses, etc but it was good to be mindful to focus dinners around the theme.

A few other ideas that’ll hit next are some pizzas/flatbreads, Mexican things, more soups, and eggplant. I’m just not craving salads while it is 10-degrees around these parts. Any other cold-weather meatless meal ideas for me? Fish & mushrooms aren’t always favorites for all of us at our house.

Pomegranate Pear Salsa over Crispy Fish

At the first Pear Party/Iron Chef Pear, there was this pear, pomegranate pearl salsa that I loved, yet hadn’t made in years. It is so addicting with tortilla chips- multigrain scoops are definitely the best for it. I added some avocado and served mine on top of some beer battered fish filets for lunch and used the rest on pork tacos the following night. This is wintry and fresh with such great textures.

The Three Bite Rule - Pomegranate Pear Salsa

Pomegranate & Pear Salsa


2 pears
1/4 cup cilantro
1/4 red onion
2 tablespoons lime juice
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/1-1 avocado


Chop the pear, cilantro, and red onion. Mix together with the pomegranate pearls, lime juice & salt.
The Three Bite Rule - Pomegranate Pear Salsa
Gently mix in the avocado.
Serve & enjoy! (If not serving immediately, reserve the pomegranate pearls until serving- they leave a reddish hue on the pears & reserve the avocado- it’ll turn brown.)

So easy! You know what’s even easier? I discovered the grocery store sells the pomegranate pearls already popped out of the pomegranate! That was my hang up to make this until now. This lunch as everything: warm crispy fish, the pop/crunch of the pomegranate pearl, the juicy pear, the creamy avocado. What’s not to love?

The red & green felt super cute and seasonal here. The avocado was a game-time decision. When they’re ripe that window to use it or lose it is brief! Plus, my frozen fish filets seemed tiny. I’ve used them in fish tacos but for size reference, this is a salad plate so I thought the avocado would bulk it up a touch. It did!
The Three Bite Rule - Pomegranate Pear Salsa

Caesar Deviled Eggs

I love caesar dressing which lead me to a caesar twist on deviled eggs. I made just a few for a mid-day Christmas appetizer. They were perfect for a few bites with the zing of caesar and a salty bit of Parmesan on top. I also like that they’re quick and easy to make a few or a bunch. I like them as an appetizer in contrast to dips, cheese, crackers, etc.
The Three Bite Rule - Caesar Deviled Eggs
I jazzed up some creamy caesar dressing but it is also pretty easy to make it homemade. They definitely taste caesar-y. The anchovy paste is necessary in the dressing. Necessary. It adds that hard-to-explain, not-fishy, but zing of good caesar flavor. I doubt these would really taste like caesar without it.

Caesar Deviled Eggs


8 hard boiled eggs
2 tablespoons yellow mustard
4 tablespoons creamy caesar dressing + cracked pepper + anchovy paste
1 teaspoon shaved parmesan


Hard boil the eggs, then immediately place into a ice bath.
When cooled, peal the eggs and slice in half. Pop out the egg yolks into a bowl and add in the mustard and creamy caesar.
The Three Bite Rule - Caesar Deviled Eggs
Whip together with a hand mixer or in a food processor until totally smooth.
Spoon into a ziplock bag. Then pipe the filling into each egg half.
Sprinkle with parmesan cheese. Enjoy!
The Three Bite Rule - Caesar Deviled Eggs

I was making these on-the-go bringing ingredients to our Christmas celebration, but a tiny piece of romaine lettuce would be fun for crunch or some crumbled croutons all over the top would be good too!