Loaded Potato Skins with Extra Seasoning

Woah! A real recipe! I know, I know, contain yourself. I’m back at it…sort of.

For the Superbowl I was wanting to make something that would be do-able with Baby T dictating my schedule. I thought of potato skins and thought they’d be good since they’re sort of football shaped, and I could do most of the prep earlier and just pop them in the oven when it was game-time. I added one not-so-secret ingredient to kick them up a touch and it was great!

Mr. J loooves his sports snacks and I’m really only into the Superbowl for the snacks (and commercials – my fav was the Budweiser Clydesdales and the puppy…I was in tears). We had a spread of these, veggies with ranch, guac & queso with tortilla chips. Perfection!

The Three Bite Rule - Potato Skins

Ingredients:

6 potatoes, baked
4 tbs butter
1 tbs French Onion Soup Mix
6 strips of bacon
1 1/2 cups shredded cheddar

Directions:

Half then hollow out the potatoes leaving some potato around the skin.
Melt the butter. Mix the butter and soup mix together.
The Three Bite Rule - Potato Skins
Preheat the oven to 375-degrees.
Cook the bacon until crisp and drain the excess grease. Chop into small pieces.
Brush the butter/seasoning mix over the potato halves on a baking sheet.
The Three Bite Rule - Potato Skins
Sprinkle with shredded cheese and top with bacon.
The Three Bite Rule - Potato Skins
Bake at 375-degrees for 10 minutes or until the cheese is melted and the potato crisps.
The Three Bite Rule - Potato Skins
Enjoy!

I baked the potatoes earlier in the day. I always forget how long they take to bake. I could have gotten them started in the micro to speed it up. I saved the innards thinking it’d become mashed potatoes for a side dish or lunch. Being home everyday and feeding myself lunch has been interesting…these potato skin leftovers became lunch a few times!

I liked the additional seasoning and think it’d be easy enough to use a spice rub or any seasoning mix you have around. I didn’t salt/pepper them since the seasoning had plenty of salt. Next time I’d be sure to brush it on more evenly…some had more flavor than others. I know pre-packed soup mix isn’t the healthiest but I’m considering making (and blogging) something with a newborn to be a win. #winning

Maternity Leave & Adventures in Mommy-hood

I’m back…sort of. I shared the arrival of my sweet baby boy Thomas in a little January Recap but here he is if you missed just how cute he is: or follow on instagram if you can’t get enough ;)
birth

It is definitely an adjustment. I’m so in awe of him. I can’t get over just how much we love him. He’ll be sleeping and I just miss him or I’ll get up for a 4am feeding and I feel badly that his diaper is wet rather than feeling tired. I realized the other day that he has more eyelashes than a few weeks ago and that surprised me about how much I know about him.

There are other times that I just can’t figure him out. What is he thinking? Why is he upset and why doesn’t anything stop his cries. Breastfeeding is going well sometimes and other times is so incredibly hard. It is such a gamble. I’m grateful to pass the occasional chance to feed him to Mr. J now that I’ve tried pumping a bit. Overall I think we’re doing well. Time is a bit of a blur. I feel like we’re learning more all the time and I expect that to continue.

Baby T is now just about a month old! How did that happen?? I’m relieved the first month is behind us. I hear it is the hardest and we agree there were definitely tough times as we try to figure out what we’re doing. The baby blues are for real, and I don’t think I’ve shed this many tears before in my life.

But this face, who could resist?
Thomas

Likes: being swaddled; eating a bottle from Daddy!; visits from the family & Skype chats with those farther away; how many snow days have had for us all home together; all the ad-orable outfits he’s been gifted & his soothie pacifier.

Dislikes: some of Mommy’s versions of lullabies (since she doesn’t know all the words); how long it took for us to switch him into bigger (size 1) diapers – he was wetting through newborn diapers but we didn’t make the connection for a few days of many outfit changes; and getting dressed after a feeding.

New Surprises: the puppies sniff  hello daily but haven’t goobed/slobbered/licked him too much; how much he seems to be growing all the time!

Now, for the food since this is (and will remain) a food blog. We’ve been working our way through freezer food and I’m shocked how long it has sustained us, though we also had some help by way of a veggie lasagna roll up delivery and the first night home we were treated to a spread of roasted chicken, twice baked potatoes, green beans, and several cookie/pumpkin bread gifts.

I do really want to cook and make some interesting things. I haven’t done much yet since it seems like 5-9pm are the bewitching hours here and I haven’t gotten out of the house much. I’m thinking maybe I should use this maternity leave also as time to cook interesting lunches (or rather meals) that are Emily-friendly…things that Mr. J isn’t into if daytime is an easier cook-time. We’ll see. I’m back, but slowly and possibly sporadically.

Make Yourself vs Buy for Yourself

It is officially time for maternity leave. “I’ll be back”. In the meantime, I have a few goodies to share out here in the blog-o-sphere until I come back. Enjoy!

I was randomly thinking the other day of a few things I don’t consider worth it to make for myself. I definitely think some things are easy enough and taste so much better when you make it yourself but many I think the creators have mastered and I’m no master chef. I probably COULD make some of these myself but many aren’t things I care to whip up myself. I assume everyone has their own list but here’s what I’ve come up with:

Foods I don’t make myself: others have mastered and theirs are better than mine
marshmallows
hummus
tator tots
crackers, especially cheez-its
pizza dough

Foods that are so worth it to make myself: 
chicken broth (though honestly I don’t have enough whole chickens to make my own)
veggie burgers
mac & cheese (though Kraft has its place in my heart & stomach)
lasagna
spinach & artichoke dip

I should be making my own salad dressing sometimes. That’s one of my goals for this year. It’ll happen.

What do you think is so important/better/tastier/healthier/easier to make yourself?

Breakfast Bake with Ham, Eggs, & Cheese

It is officially time for maternity leave. “I’ll be back”. In the meantime, I have a few goodies to share out here in the blog-o-sphere until I come back. Enjoy!

Thanks to my parents’ hens, we always have a good supply of fresh eggs around. They have 4 hens who are dutifully producing about a total of 3 eggs a day, from the expected 1 egg per hen quantity. They often stop laying eggs in the winter but not these ladies. They are named: Henrietta, Helga, Helene and The Old Hag. There’s not really a way to know which is laying (or which hen is which!).

I wanted some variety in my freezer food supply so I figured there should be something breakfast-y. My ham was leftover from a spiral ham at Christmas that I chopped up and froze after we were tired of it. This is recipe is along the lines of a savory baked french toast and has infinite possibilities.

The Three Bite Rule - Breakfast Bake with Ham, Eggs, and Cheese
Ham, Eggs, & Cheese Breakfast Bake (serves 6)
Ingredients:
8 eggs
1 cup milk
1/2 loaf of Italian bread, or ~4 sub rolls
3 slices of spiral cut ham, chopped
1 cup cheddar, shredded
1/4 cup chives chopped

Directions:
Whisk together eggs, milk, salt & pepper.
Chop bread/rolls into 1″ chunks and mix into to the egg mixture.
The Three Bite Rule - Breakfast Bake with Ham, Eggs, and Cheese
Add in cheese, ham, chives (note: my ham pictured was frozen)
The Three Bite Rule - Breakfast Bake with Ham, Eggs, and Cheese
Mix just to combine. The bread will be soft and have absorbed the egg/milk mixture so don’t overmix or the bread will lose shape.
The Three Bite Rule - Breakfast Bake with Ham, Eggs, and Cheese
Spray a baking dish (or individual ramekins or into sprayed muffin tins) with non-stick spray. Preheat the oven if serving immediately, or prep labels to freeze.
Spoon into the dish(s) and bake at 375-degrees for 30-45 minutes until set, or cover & label to freeze.
The Three Bite Rule - Breakfast Bake with Ham, Eggs, and Cheese
I froze mine and baked from frozen for 60 minutes. The edges will lightly brown, it will puff up, and the center will set when fully cooked.
The Three Bite Rule - Breakfast Bake with Ham, Eggs, and Cheese
Serve and enjoy!

I loved this. It is puffy and light but filling. I thought the ham was fantastic but you could easily substitute whatever you like. I went lighter on the cheese since I didn’t want it too heavy and figured we could be spared a few calories while still getting the cheesy flavor and texture.

It was a nice alternative to some of my other freezer foods (butternut squash lasagna, burritos, stuffed shells, pulled pork, etc). I made one that served 4 and a smaller/more shallow one that would serve 2. I froze them for a few weeks but think this would hold up in the freezer for quite awhile…a few months?
The Three Bite Rule - Breakfast Bake with Ham, Eggs, and Cheese
Suggested adaptations: 
Bfast bake – ham + sausage or bacon = Still Meaty Bfast Bake
Bfast bake – cheddar + pecorino/fontina/parmesan/gruyere/swiss = Still Cheesy Bfast Bake
Bfast bake – meat + spinach/peppers/onions/mushrooms = Vegetarian Bfast Bake
Bfast bake – chives + other fresh herbs/scallions = Herbaceous Bfast Bake
Bfast bake – white bread + sourdough/rye/wheat bread – 2 of the eggs + 2 egg whites = Healthier Bfast Bake

A Few of My Favorite Things: Kitchen Tool Edition

It is officially time for maternity leave. “I’ll be back”. In the meantime, I have a few goodies to share out here in the blog-o-sphere until I come back. Enjoy!

The more I cooked the more I realized how many super specialized tools there are out there! Since I’m not a chef, but love to cook, I figured I’d share a few of the tools I love the most. I don’t use too many special things that can only serve one purpose. While blogging a dish it takes long enough to cook, makes notes, and photograph that searching for a very specific tool isn’t likely. I do have a few go-to items I think everyone can use.

Dutch Oven/Cast-Iron Skillet:
This one is a toss up of which you absolutely need. I love both. They get super hot and the stove-top to oven capability is sooo handy to finish dinner or keep something hot, or just to use fewer dishes! They’re heavy and sometimes pricey but worth it. I love the flavor (and iron intake benefit) of the cast iron skillet. I love that barely anything can burn in the dutch oven and the cover.
cassolet_beans_590_390

Meat Thermometer:
I swear by the basic $3 meat thermometer you can get from the grocery store or Bed Bath & Beyond. This takes the question mark out of cooking meat! I think this is a must-have. Especially for pork. I believe those who don’t like pork, only have had it overcooked. I think it’s one that’s hard to tell the done-ness but chicken is a great one too to avoid drying it out and ensuring it is cooked enough through the center. Don’t proceed without one.
kale_pesto_pork_590_390
Blender: 
I splurged on a Ninja for a blender/smoothies. I don’t use it daily, but quite often I use it weekly…at least monthly. I love this one I got. I wasn’t about to dish out $400+ bucks for a Blendtec but the Ninja hasn’t left me with any regrets. I have this blender & single serve attachments. I see it online for $120-ish. I got it at bed bath & beyond with a gift card, 20% off, $5 off, and a store credit. It is totally worth it. I make smoothies regularly so I love when they can be contained in 1 cup to mix, drink, then to go into the dishwasher.
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Devil Oven Grabber:
This thing is awesome, and arguably one of my most used. I love this silly thing. It helps you to pull the oven/toaster oven rack out. I know, I know, you could do it without this. I use it with the toaster oven where I don’t normally need/keep an oven mit. This guy makes an appearance about 5x a week on average. It is made of silicone so he safely lives ontop of the toaster oven.
devil
What do you grab in the kitchen first?

January 2015 Recap

Woah. Happy almost-February. Mr. J and I are PARENTS. Woah! Crazy! Our babe is just the cutest. Seriously, he’s cuter than any other baby than I have ever seen. I’m allowed to say that…I think. I was due January 9th and our beautiful boy was born January 16th. It felt like we waited forever at the end and finally he was here. We’re just soaking up every move he makes and trying to get the hang of this parenting thing. We’ve been enjoying some freezer staples and capitalizing on leftovers. January didn’t involve many new ground-breaking recipes but was good practice to work through the freezer and figure out what’s around and what we have time for.
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Now, the food, before I was a week overdue…
One of the fun things I kicked off the month with was a cornbread waffle that I put leftover chili onto. So fun. I’ll definitely do this again.
The Three Bite Rule - Chili over Cornbread Waffles

The sliders are arguably the most fun menu of January. Part of the fun was the spontaneity but what’s better than sliders, frappes, a fire roaring, and watching the ball drop until dozing off on the couch.
The Three Bite Rule - Burger Sliders
I improved Stuffed Shells with my fav freezer ingredient.
The Three Bite Rule - Better Stuffed Shells
I made up my own Sweedish-ish meatballs. I liked how easy it was to add some flavors I don’t have all the time and would mess around with meatballs again.
The Three Bite Rule - Swedish Meatballs
Maybe Mr. J and I will be coordinated enough to whip up something fun for the Superbowl. We’ll see. I have a hankering for potato skins or mini layered Mexican dips, but it is all up to Baby T.  I’m really just in it for the snacks, but being one of the local teams does make it a bit more interesting.

2015 Goals: these pseudo-resolutions will likely be quite loose while Mr. J and I get our footing as parents.
year of the earring: was a little distraction for a good 15 minutes of by past-my-due-date impatience, purchased via Etsy.

il_570xN.452467536_grt1
make more salad dressings: ehh. making/eating salads might be the first step before thinking I’ll make my own dressing right now.
factor more time into how long every-day tasks/trips will take: this will prob be my goal for the rest of my life
recreate restaurant menu items:something funky on a waffle iron came from a restaurant idea!
be more adventurous with my reading selections: I did get back to my book just the other day but I’m not sure I love it. “All the Light We Cannot See”…reccomendations to stick with it?
use the crockpot more: ehh, not yet, but this seems doable for one-handed cooking/nap-time cooking
#seafoodsunday once a month: not really, but I made some shrimp tacos the other night…does it count if I don’t blog it?

Better Than Usual Stuffed Shells

It is officially time for maternity leave. “I’ll be back”. In the meantime, I have a few goodies to share out here in the blog-o-sphere until I come back. Enjoy!

I made stuffed shells before, but this time I made them better. Plus, I was stocking my freezer for newborn-time and planned to make these. They were great and such a freezer friendly food. They’re so much quicker than lasagna and I used one of my favorite secret ingredients.
The Three Bite Rule - Better Stuffed Shells

Ingredients:

1 pound jumbo shells
2 cups marinara sauce
1 egg
16 oz ricotta cheese
1 cup Parmesan cheese
1 pkg frozen creamed spinach
8 oz shredded mozzarella
1/3 cup fresh mozzarella (optional)

Directions:

Boil salted water for the shells. Cook until al dente as they’ll cook more when it bakes.
Mix together the ricotta, creamed spinach, and egg. Then add in the parmesan.
The Three Bite Rule - Better Stuffed Shells
Spread some marinara onto the bottom of a baking dish, first sprayed with non-stick spray.
Scoop some ricotta filling and spoon into each shell. Repeat to fill all the shells.
The Three Bite Rule - Better Stuffed Shells
Overlap as needed, or bake into multiple pans.
Spoon on some more marinara and chopped fresh mozzarella for each layer.
The Three Bite Rule - Better Stuffed Shells
Sprinkle shredded mozzarella onto the top and freeze (or bake to serve now).
The Three Bite Rule - Better Stuffed Shells
Keeps well in the freezer for 4-6 months. Defrost in the refrigerator overnight, then bake at 375-degrees for 45-60 minutes. If baking from frozen, bake about 80 minutes, or until warmed through.

The Three Bite Rule - Better Stuffed Shells
Needless to say, I loved the spinach in here. It would be a good source for whatever veggies you have to add (fresh chopped spinach, artichoke hearts, chopped sauteed zucchini, tomato chunks, etc) or with a meat sauce (or meatballs on the side, with crumbled Italian sausage sprinkled in, etc).

I made 2 dishes of this and reminded myself the baking instructions to eliminate all brainpower needed.

What I Ate: Turkey Kielbasa and Peppers

It is officially time for maternity leave. “I’ll be back”. In the meantime, I have a few goodies to share out here in the blog-o-sphere until I come back. Enjoy!

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.

This is seriously so easy it is ridiculous but it was just what I was after for a really quick dinner plan, conducive to leftovers, and only needing a few ingredients. Rice, turkey kielbasa, red onion, green peppers, ready-made sauce, brown sugar. Poof! Dinner!

You could always get your own sauce in there and throw in other veggies. Whatever floats your boat.

The Three Bite Rule - Kielbasa & Peppers

Ingredients: (serves 3)

1 link turkey kielbasa (or regular, or brats, or chicken sausage, or you get the gist)
1 green bell pepper
1/2 red onion
1/4 cup teriyaki sauce
1/4 cup brown sugar
brown rice

Directions:

Start cooking the rice according to that you’re using. (I used instant brown rice that needed 10 minutes once the water boiled)
Slice the kielbasa, pepper, and onion into chunks.
Heat a large pan and start cooking the onion & kielbasa over medium heat for about 3-5 minutes, until the onion starts to soften.
Add in the brown sugar and teriyaki sauce mixing well.
The Three Bite Rule - Kielbasa & Peppers
Add in the green pepper and cook for 5 minutes to combine well and for the sugar to melt.
Optional: taste and add in a splash of water if it is too strong flavored.
The Three Bite Rule - Kielbasa & Peppers
Reduce heat to low.
Serve over rice and enjoy!

This is so easy but I think the real trick is not to over cook the peppers while not undercooking the onion. The onion needs to soften and the peppers need to still have a crunch…they don’t cook the same amount of time. The kielbasa has good flavor and is fully cooked, so it really is just absorbing flavor and heating through. Mr. J would choose white rice, but with a sticky, tangy, and sweet sauce on it, he’ll accept brown rice.

The Three Bite Rule - Kielbasa & Peppers

A Few of My Favorite Things: Ingredient Edition

It is officially time for maternity leave. “I’ll be back”. In the meantime, I have a few goodies to share out here in the blog-o-sphere until I come back. Enjoy!

I love trying new ingredients and I’m not always brand-loyal but realized I don’t usually specify those that I love so passionately. They’re not paying me to love ‘em or anything (though after I proclaim my love they’re welcome to send the cash-ola my way…seriously, I’ll be your spokesperson).

Krazy Mixed Up Salt:
I hate the spelling, but love the stuff. I throw it in lots of things and look forward to finding it in my Christmas stocking each year. They also make Krazy Pepper which I use on occasion too. It is like Italian Seasoning of the salt world. My blood pressure is wayyy lower than the average so years ago my Cardiologist has had me upping my salt ratio and this is a great flavor mix to do just that. I use it in place of salt on pizza, popcorn, marinades, sauces, garlic bread, etc. Find it in the spice section of the grocery store. You’ll thank me later.

Pastene Kitchen Ready Tomatoes:
Being introduced to these tomatoes was the only good thing to come out of a pizza class I took once. I love the simplicity of the tomato flavor. It now is almost the only tomato product I use. This is my go-to for pizza sauce, on pasta, in chili, and the list goes on. Sometimes I drop in some basil or garlic, but the blank slate & fresh flavor is why I love it. This makes pizza taste way more traditionally Neapolitan since it tastes purely of tomatoes not sugary like some sauces. This contains: tomatoes, tomato puree, salt, & naturally derived citric acid. That’s it. Find it in near canned vegetables & tomato paste.
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Better Than Bouillion:
I love this broth base better than bouillion cubes, bouillion powder, and prepared broth. I happily make broth whenever I can, but while cooking for 2, I rarely have enough chicken bones to keep myself stocked with broth. This tastes better than the other forms I’ve had and it is way more convenient. It comes in bases of: chicken; beef; vegetable; clam; mushroom; and a million others. Note: the label has some metal detailing on it so don’t microwave the jar to get the very last bit in it. Ka-pow! Learned that the hard way!
BTB_P-03-chicken-base

Frozen Creamed Spinach:
I use this all. the. time. It is so good as an instant sauce or added to pizza, pasta, baked potatoes, turned into dip…the list goes on. There is a bit of sodium in it, but other than that it isn’t the worst thing to be eating. It has 20% of your daily intake of sodium, in HALF the package. It is always more like 4 servings the way I use it, so there’s nothing to sweat about there. These little packages are great to keep around in the freezer for whenever.
The Three Bite Rule - Potato Bar
Grated Parmesan:
Not the sawdust stuff. That has zero flavor and isn’t worth the calories of ingesting it. I think the difference is the anti-caking stuff added to it. Parmesan is supposed to be salty and crumbly and delicious. I could grate it myself, but sometimes the price is comparable to buy it grated(near the other cheeses, not next to boxed pasta & tomato sauce).

Portland Pie Company Pizza Dough:
Hands down, the best dough out there. My apologies to anyone not in New England but dough is ahhh-mazing. I can’t make it better than they do, so I only buy theirs. It comes in plain, beer, basil, or garlic. I thought the grocery store stopped carrying it but phew! I found it near the deli/prepared foods area, versus near the refrigerated pastas where it used to be. I keep about 3 in my freezer at all times, and it defrosts in the fridge while I’m at work.

arugula_pizza_dough_590_390
Any brands or items you 100% standby or are go-tos for you?

Slider Burger Toppings

To kickoff the New Year, Mr. J and I came up with a last minute menu of sliders & frappes. Who would have thought January would be the time I’d post some new burger toppings?! It was a freezing night so we cooked the sliders inside and it was so fun.

We both cook but don’t always cook together. Mr. J did the burger cooking and I helped prep the toppings. I was really happy to settle in with a fire, sliders, and yoga pants…especially at the start of 39-weeks preggers at that point. Seriously, I can’t believe that I’m still pregnant…40 weeks + 6 days. Holy Moly. Anyyyytime now little one – come on out!

Just a little googling for inspiration and we came up with toppings for 3 different sliders.

Chicken Burger Slider with Boursin cheese spread and caramelized onions: 
The Three Bite Rule - Burger Sliders
This one was our fancy-ish one. I loved the spreadable cheese on here and it was definitely handy for Mr. J to do the burgers and for me to let the onions caramelize on their own time. I often am rushing them, or get distracted and they crisp too much. The onions were perfectly sweet with the herbed spread.

Chicken Burger Slider with bacon, cheddar cheese, sour cream & chives: 
The Three Bite Rule - Burger Sliders
This one was the all-American one. We cooked the bacon first, then cooked the burgers in the same pan in some bacon fat. Yes. Delicious. The tang of the sour cream was good with the cheddar and smokey bacon.

Italian Slider with Marinara & mozzarella: 
The Three Bite Rule - Burger Sliders
This one had a schmear of marinara on the roll and then the burger was topped with a slice of fresh mozzarella. My basil had wilted but that would have been good too. I liked the all encompassing cheese on here.

Enjoy!