September 2020 Recap

I don’t even know what end is up. September is just bananas. I cooked some fun things but we are treading water to adjust to our new schedule. Virtual kindergarten is going great but working full time, monitoring remote school, keeping the 2 yr old occupied/away and juggling these short time blocks has our brains spinning. I’ve felt more stress these last few weeks than this whole quarantine time- if I’m on top of work, then I’m lacking for the kids/home/friends and vice versa.

This month Mr. J and I celebrated our 9th wedding anniversary so that was our bright spot! We went to dinner and I had the best meal I’ve had in for-ev-er. We ate outside at Il Massimo and I had scallops over corn risotto with brussels sprouts.

For dishes from my kitchen, I made these pesto risotto stuffed tomatoes and loved them- they’re also great for grocery store tomatoes as we exit the prime garden tomato season! 
The Three Bite Rule - Pesto Risotto Stuffed Tomatoes
These Chicken BLT Grain Bowls are so ideal for a quick and balanced lunch or dinner. Plus if the grain is prepped ahead of time it saves so much time. I went with quinoa but normally choose brown rice or farro.
The Three Bite Rule - Chicken BLT Grain Bowl
Our littlest one needs a bit more dense nutrition- so I made some pb&j energy bites as a little but powerful snack. They were a great use of some freeze dried raspberries nobody was interested in!
The Three Bite Rule - PBJ Energy Bites
This cape codder themed burger with dried cranberries and lime aoli!
The Three Bite Rule - Cape Codder Burgers

The Little Girl:

Her newest words are “yup” and “nope” which just sounds funny. She’s so itty bitty so we are focused on upping her calorie intake and retesting some of her lab work next month. She’s doing pretty well with pediasure and needs to bulk up a bit to hit the chart. Her fav foods are cheese of any kind, pb&f, and anything she can dip. She’s playing a ton in the play kitchen and with the trains. She zooms down the driveway on her bike. This gal is fearless. She did fantastic wearing her mask for her whole physical and for labwork.

The Big Guy:

IMG_7952He loves virtual kindergarten! His teacher is fantastic and he impressed us day 1 mastering the computer mouse and the mute/unmute rules. I’m so thankful he’s good at playing for his his breaks and getting right back to it when his next session is starting. The in-person hybrid schedule should start soon so we’re looking forward to him going 2 days a week. He’s still loving pizza and pasta. His favorite lunch is PB&F or “snacky lunch” of salami/string cheese/etc. We transitioned to quiet time with a stack of books on the couch or his bed instead of naps and he looks forward to it!

This Year’s Goals:

Year of beauty/self-care: not really
Prep intentional sides and veggies: nope, not really
Eat more fish: Lobsters!
Blog some series: nope, but Oct is going to be comfort foods!
Focus decluttering/organizing to an area: not at the moment.
Share more books on instagram: ehh.
Prioritize workouts: I loved a lifting workout program and looooved it. Now I’m doing a month mash-up incorporating 4 different programs it is has been great for the ultimate in variety.
What I’m reading: I read The Yellow House since it is the summer reading at work for students and the community. It is about New Orleans and the city dynamics pre and post hurricane Katrina. I loved it, though at first I was overwhelmed by the number of people’s names without a family tree chart. Then I blew through Catch and Kill: Lies, Spies, and the Conspiracies to Protect Predators which is a forever reminder how critical the free press is. 
What I’m listening to: 
a podcast on occasion.
What I’m watching: America’s Got Talent wrapped up and I’m thrilled the spoken poet won- it literally restored some hope for America voting. We found a series called Manhunt about the unabomber and one season about the Atlanta Olympics bomber. It is very well done!

Fish Tacos with Mango Sauce

I loooove fish tacos but they’re a dish best served in the moment- they’re not as great as takeout. Making them at home actually works surprisingly well! These scream SUMMER! A little mango cream drizzle was amazing for these! I used frozen breaded fish or grill or sear or bread your own! I tucked some broccoli slaw underneath for a fresh crunch. They were crave-able. I like fish tacos for variety- since I’d be happy to eat tacos weekly and these are easy to make just what you need – for 1 person or we have 4 of us eating them!
The Three Bite Rule - Fish Tacos with Mango Sauce

Fish Tacos with Mango Sauce

Ingredients: (for 4)

1 cup mango (I used defrosted frozen mango chunks)
2 tablespoons sour cream
2 tablespoons mayo
1/2 lime juice & zest
8 fish fillets (I used frozen breaded fish)
1 cup slaw
8 tortillas
8 pieces of fish

Directions:

Blend together the mango, sour cream, mayo, zest, lime juice and some pepper in a food processor or blender. Add a splash of water if needed to get it smooth and well mixed.
The Three Bite Rule - Fish Tacos with Mango Sauce
Chill until serving – can be made ahead of time.
The Three Bite Rule - Fish Tacos with Mango Sauce
For the tacos, bake or pan fry the fish.
Mix up the slaw and spoon on top of the tortillas. Add the fish on top.
The Three Bite Rule - Fish Tacos with Mango SauceDrizzle with mango sauce and an extra squeeze of lime. Enjoy!

I loved these! The mango sauce was nicely sweet from the mango and enough tartness from the lime to balance it out. Our 5-yr-old ate the slaw separately and dipped into the mango sauce on the side too. The 2-yr-old man-handled her tacos but ate a ton. Fish sticks work well for smaller tacos.
The Three Bite Rule - Fish Tacos with Mango Sauce
Frozen breaded fish is ideal for me since I hate frying things and it just pops into the toaster oven without much effort! The mango sauce would be great on any fish or on shrimp or on chicken. Avocado would be good on these or they’d be great in a bowl!

Picky eaters? Or is cooking fish daunting? Try these – the crunch makes them approachable and baking them makes it less intimidating. Having them as one filling option on taco night can be fun – or surf and turf with each one getting 1 fish taco and 1 meat taco.

Leftover fish/as in more fish hanging in your freezer? Great! I love these fish tacos with lemonade slaw or you know my love for a bowl runs deep and crispy fish is fun as a bowl or pomegranate pear salsa over crispy fish is a great elevated but easy one!

Lettuce-less Salad Series: Cabbage Slaw with Peanut Sauce

This salad is a great side or it eats like a meal too. It miiiight not be the most picturesque but I couldn’t not share it. Think crunchy purple cabbage and carrots with peanut sauce and some shredded chicken- or skip the chicken. Either way, it is great and so fast.
The Three Bite Rule - Cabbage Slaw with Peanut Sauce

Cabbage & Carrot Slaw with Peanut Sauce

Ingredients: (for ~4-5 as sides, or ~2 as a meal)

1/4 cup soy sauce
1/4 cup peanut butter
1/4 inch grated ginger
1 teaspoon rice vinegar
1 teaspoon sesame oil
2 cups shredded purple cabbage
2 large carrots, shredded
~1 cup roasted chicken, shredded (optional)

Directions:

Shake the sauce together in a jar (or whisk together in a bowl) the soy sauce, peanut butter, ginger, rice vinegar, and sesame oil. Refrigerate until serving or make and serve.
Mix the cabbage and the carrot.
Drizzle in the peanut sauce and mix well. Add in the chicken – if using- and stir gently.
The Three Bite Rule - Cabbage Slaw with Peanut SauceEnjoy!

I loved this! Know that brown sauce – like peanut sauce – is not beautiful but so tasty. We had it with sesame noodles and edamame- that’s on the regular rotation here. This slaw was great for a crunch and for the peanut flavor. My 5-year-old pb lover liked it and ate a bunch. My ~2-year-old pb lover only ate a little.

There you have it, my salads without lettuce:
this cabbage and carrot slaw with peanut sauce
Watermelon Mint Salad
Peach, Tomato & Mozzarella Salad

Chicken, Bacon, Cheddar and Ranch Risotto

These flavors are great on their own, but better together. That’s like all of us, right? These weird times we’re all navigating need meals to connect over. I don’t pretend all meals are perfect though at our house, most of us loved this. T was mostly into the bacon and didn’t go for the chicken. C ate some of all of it, but LOVED the chicken.
The Three Bite Rule - Chicken, Bacon, Cheddar & Ranch Risotto
Chicken was hard to come by on some of our digital grocery orders at one point. I had a few frozen chicken thighs and some panko breaded chicken tenders that were also formal residents of our freezer. However you like/whatever you can get! Risotto or any rice or whatever grain is kicking around your pantry. Any rice, or farro, or couscous, or quinoa, or lentils, or even beans would be good! Adding ranch flavor and cheddar and bacon will make the world seem better- or at least it’ll make dinner seem better!

Chicken, Bacon, Cheddar and Ranch Risotto

Ingredients: (serves 4)

1 cup arborio rice
1 1/2 chicken broth (or liquid ratio according to the method)
2 teaspoons dried Ranch powder mix
1 cup shredded cheddar
4 strips of bacon
4 chicken thighs grilled or pan seared or ~6 chicken tenders breaded and fried or baked
4 tablespoons ranch dressing (optional)

Directions:

Prepare the risotto according to the package (or method – I used the pressure cooker so I use the liquid ratio for that 1 cup arborio to 1 1/2 cups liquid) with the dried ranch mix.
While the risotto is cooking, chop the bacon and pan fry it until crisp, then remove from the grease but save a tablespoon or two.
Add in the tablespoon or two of bacon grease into the risotto when it is fully cooked, and mix in the cheddar cheese and bacon.
Bake or grill or sear the chicken.
Spoon some risotto into bowls or plates, slice chicken on top, and lastly add a drizzle of ranch dressing.
Enjoy!
The Three Bite Rule - Chicken, Bacon, Cheddar & Ranch Risotto

The first time I made this I roasted some grape tomatoes for this too. Stirring in some fresh spinach would be good for a complete bowl meal. I tossed some salad stuff together on the side. Or green beans would go nicely with this too!

December 2019 Recap

Woo-eee! December was bus-y! We loved it all. Dinners were more minimal to keep us up with social commitments and shopping and doing all the things. We listened to Christmas music non-stop until just the other day. Santa came while we were sleeping and the kids got to see their new things then we went to my side of the family for the day. On the 26th we headed to Maine and had a few days with the family there. It was all really special and fun. Getting home, I was ready for some more careful food portions, fewer treats, and more workouts & movement.

I don’t have a post-holiday down feelings. I love to move onto winter decor and wrap up a fun Christmas. I’m in the process of un-decorating from Christmas and finding a home for everything. Mr. J and I are gearing up for our traditional sliders, shakes, and champagne for NYE!

This season neeeeds a Winter Veggie Grain Bowl – customized as you wish! Mine had farro, butternut squash, zucchini, mushrooms, cheddar, dried cranberries, and a drizzle of honey mustard. It is hearty but not heavy. Trust me, this is a perfect fit to your January.
The Three Bite Rule - Winter Veggie Grain Bowl
Santa (and the office cookie swap!) got Hot Chocolate Cookies!
The Three Bite Rule - Hot Chocolate Cookies
I finally posted about the finals for the burger competition.

January will have some fun foods. I have a series coming up and I’m prepped ahead which feels good. I over-indulged a bit over the holidays and didn’t sleep as well as usual. I’m glad have some slower days and be back to my routine before heading back to work.

The Preschooler Guy:

The holiday season is magical at age 4! Visiting Santa was so fun and he was excited and brave! He got a Captain America costume, mask, and shield from Santa. He barely took it off since he got it. His other favorite items were dinos, his sister’s musical instruments, and headphones. Food-wise, he’s still into pasta but rice is out of fashion.

The Toddler Girl:

The little girl was a bit nervous to meet Santa but she held it together! She got a baby stroller for her doll. She loves it! Her other favorite items were a penguin winter hat, music instruments, and doll bottles. Food-wise, she loves dipping and eats almost everything we give her.

This year’s Goals:

Year of beauty! I got reusable make up remover pads!
Prep intentional sides and veggies: I’ll keep at it.
Eat more fish: The kids are loving salmon with everything bagel seasoning.
Blog some series: Dec didn’t feel like the time to launch one. Hang on for Jan!
Focus decluttering/organizing to an area: Baby toys are on their ways to new homes!
Share more books on instagram: We hit the library a few times but I didn’t share much.
Prioritize workouts: I’m 65/100 through 100 morning meltdown.
What I’m reading: I loved Meet Me in Monoco for a lighter and sweet but interesting story. 
What I’m listening to:
Bachelor Party podcast has been counting down the most dramatic seasons. It is so funny to think back to some such a long time ago.
What I’m watching: all the Christmas movies!

Farro & Arugula Salad with Blueberries & Watermelon

This salad lunch has all. the. things. After the buffalo chicken nachos, we were due for something healthier and summery, right? Balance is the name of the game.

It has a grain to be really filling and some greens for freshness and fruit for a pop of summer. I’m not enthused about meal-salads with just a bunch of greens. An hour later I’d be hungry.  I made a batch of farro to also use in a dinner and it could easily swap with brown rice, cracked wheat, lentils, quinoa, or whatever you like/have leftover! Swap the greens for your favorite too, the arugula just holds up so well.

This salad works great as a meal – mine was lunch, or it’d be a great side or even a snack for those times you’re starving and know you’d like to make a good choice.

The Three Bite Rule - Farro & Blueberry Salad

Farro & Arugula Salad with Summer Fruits

Ingredients: (for 1 meal or 2 sides)

3/4 cup prepared farro (or grain of your choosing)
1/2 cup blueberries
2 cups arugula (or greens of your choosing)
~2-3 slices of watermelon
2-3 tablespoons vinaigrette dressing (I used my fav Italian Dressing)

Directions:

Chop the watermelon into bite size pieces and the arugula just once through.
The Three Bite Rule - Farro & Blueberry Salad
Mix the farro, arugula, blueberries, and dressing to coat, then lightly toss in the watermelon.
The Three Bite Rule - Farro & Blueberry Salad
Enjoy!

This has great balance. I used allllll the arugula I had or I would have loaded in more. This was so fresh and actually filling. With so few ingredients this one is a winner to me. I’d pack this for lunch at work, keeping the watermelon & dressing separate until actually eating.  I really wanted radishes in here but I didn’t find any at the grocery store and my farmer’s market is just opening. That super crunch would be great! I purposely went meatless but I can’t help but think grilled chicken would go well too!
The Three Bite Rule - Farro & Blueberry Salad

 

Ok, 2019- We’re onto you!

Happy New Year! As much as the clean slate and encouragement to do all the right things feels exciting it can also feel overwhelming. Suddenly we’re supposed to switch from Christmas cookies to all the kale salads? My plans for the upcoming year usually start in November, with my blogaversary but after some post-holiday clean up, I was feeling jazzed and inspired to help for those whose resolutions include the kitchen! By now we’re definitely into January but the number date doesn’t have to dictate when to get started on good habits!

I’m interested by the idea of a word for the year and I’m loving the lists of “more XYZ; less ABC” as a way to set some intentions versus specific goals. I asked on instagram what some food/kitchen related resolutions were which led me here!

If you’re trying to be more intentional with meal planning:

weekly-meal-plan-1000x600

  • Capsule Meal Planning: gives yourself some structure & starting points to plan a week of meals
  • meal planning in 5 steps
  • also, write it down! It helps you plan, shop, visually see what’s ahead (so you can prep ahead somewhat) and anyone else who is eating can see it!
  • my fav grocery app (Anylist) is now on apple & andriod! Hallelujah! We tried so many when we weren’t both on iphones. You can share the list with family members annnnd save a photo with an item- if you’re super particular about say, pita bread, like me! You can even connect recipes so you shop for all the groceries. I keep lists for groceries, Costco, Trader Joe’s and Target.

If you’re wanting some smart breakfast ideas:

Pumpkin Muffin

If packing your lunch needs some attention:

The Three Bite Rule - Cranberry Walnut Chicken Salad

If you have a new appliance to play with:

The Three Bite Rule - PB & J Smoothie Healthified

If you’re wanting to do more meal prep in advance

(like me!) I’ll be sharing some of those tips on instagram.

Don’t feel the January pressure to do all the things. Take something that you WANT to do and just stick to that. Or pick a new resolution or intention for each month!
My goals:
Year of organizing/decluttering
Feeding Littles
Advanced food prep

 

Capsule Meal Planning

Capsule wardrobes are definitely a thing so why isn’t capsule meal planning a thing? I’m doing it! Capsule wardrobes are a smaller selection to mix and match to make choosing easier. Meal planning needs some of those same principles! Starting a meal plan for the week can feel daunting but having a plan, getting the ingredients, maybe doing some prep in advance, and sharing the plan with those eating it are all keys to success. I always meal plan factoring in weather, speed/ease of prep, and what we have going on but why not add in a few more guidelines?
The Three Bite Rule - Coconut Shrimp Tacos with Mango Salsa

I came up with a bunch of themes and categories and definitely think it has made planning and executing meals easier! I decided to choose a few as the starting point to then plan with our favorites. I’m focusing on weeknights since those are for sure the craziest around here. What are your weeknight go-tos? I need to know! 

Here’s my running list of weeknight dinner themes:

night of bfast
night of meatless (here are some of mine, and more of mine)
night of international: Mexican/Mediterranean/Italian/Thai/Indian
night of pizza/pasta/calzone
night of panini/soup/salad
night of grilling
night of a grain bowl dinner (some of our favs are here)
night of anything goes (that means fast, not creating leftovers but maybe even using a leftover item, maybe not everyone eats the same thing: often eggs/quesadillas/grilled cheese/pasta)
night of takeout (that’s what we do on Fridays)

Kielbasa Grain Bowl - The Three Bite Rule

Last week, here’s what we did:
Mon = night of calzone: sausages & onions
Tues = night of crockpot: BBQ pulled pork & roasted butternut squash
Wed = night of pasta: tortellini w/ alfredo
Thurs = night of Mexican: pork tacos & fiesta bean salad
Fri = night of takeout
The Three Bite Rule - Sausage & Peppers Calzone
The prior week, here’s what we did:
Mon = night of salads: build your own salad bar
Tues = night of anything goes
Wed = night of grilling: hot dogs & broccoli salad
Thurs = naan pizzas
Fri = night of takeout

This week, here’s what we did/are having:
Mon = night of pasta: spaghetti & tomato sauce and salad
Tues = night of a blogged dinner (coming soon! it is very fall inspired!)
Wed = night of a freezer food recreated (loaded waffle fries with pulled pork, beans, corn, queso, & avocado)
Thurs = night of anything goes (my bookclub night this week!)
Fri = night of takeout

The Three Bite Rule - Pesto Flatbread
I tried it out a few weeks. I can honestly say it makes creating a meal plan so much easier. I haven’t quite set our themes we’ll do every week, but I’d guess during this busy season of our lives, I’ll keep: pasta/anything goes/takeout and that leaves 2 other weeknights to get creative or do whatever we’re in the mood for. Tacos/Mexican seems like a likely theme we may have most weeks too. Even 3 weeknights covered with a starting point seems helpful!

What are your go-tos for weeknight dinners?? 

September 2018 Recap

September went by in a blur. The babe is 6 weeks old and we’re getting our footing a bit. A bit. I cooked a few things but my priority was hitting all the food groups for everyone and not worrying if meals weren’t my most exciting or inventive. I’m giving myself some grace and always striving for some advanced dinner prep while I’m home for maternity leave, especially since dinner time got wayyy crazier with a baby who hates 4pm-9pm and a toddler who is ready to play.

Some of my go-tos lately have been: sesame noodles & edamame; grain bowls (farro/sausage/zucchini); meatball sliders; eggs/breakfast; and salad bar. I’m 100% still obsessed with a pb&j smoothie I made non-stop while pregnant. I owe you the healthier reboot I took on this smoothie but it is saved on my insta-stories highlights for now. I have a new smoothie to share next month as well as the cutest seasonal appetizer ever.

I made this protein-packed salad as a twist on the Italian tuna and white bean salad.
The Three Bite Rule - Tuna & White Bean Protein Salad

Because they’re so easy and ohh-so-good, I made these chicken, bacon, cheddar, and ranch turnovers with crescent rolls. After these, the little guy and I made pizza ones with sauce, mozzarella, and pepperoni but we didn’t blog it.
The Three Bite Rule - Chicken Bacon Ranch Turnovers
Lastly, dessert is necessary in life and this cheesecake mousse parfait is perfectly packable to bring somewhere or was great mixed to order as you need a little sweet treat.
The Three Bite Rule - Cheesecake Mousse Parfaits

The Little Guy

I’m thanking our lucky stars that we’ve squeaked out this long (3.5 years and counting) of him in a crib. With the new baby I’m ever so thankful he’s happy in his bed/crib for now. I have a feeling the toddler bed in is in our future but I’m hoping he can hang on until baby sister sleeps through the night. One thing at a time, right? He is such a good big brother. He loves the baby and doesn’t mind that sometimes we divide and conquer. He has confirmed the only deli meat he’s into is salami. All grains are good- this month he really loved farro which I haven’t made in awhile. We’re all still popping cherry tomatoes from our plants as often as we can. He has especially loved pineapple and raw bell peppers this month.

The Baby Girl

1month
She’s about 6 weeks old now. Just like her big brother did, she struggles in the early evening. Around 4ish she can’t sleep and by 6 she wants nothing to do with anything. Nothing helps soothe her until 8 or 9pm when she’ll eat and then sleep. Apparently this is a thing- like sundowning. Our pediatrician says most work themselves out of it at 6 weeks-12 weeks. Here’s hoping it is any day now! It is emotionally draining, very tiring, and so sad. We’re also trying to give the little guy attention and love (as well as dinner & a bath) after his day at preschool so her screaming makes this timeframe even more exciting. Daytime she’s so happy and starting to smile! She eats every 3 hours and I cannot wait until I don’t have to wake her to eat. Ditto for evenings, we’re waking her every 4-5 hours to eat. Since she wasn’t gaining weight we’re not really at liberty to dismiss her doctor’s advice for eating.

This Year’s Goals:

Year of the candle: I got this pumpkin/vanilla-ish one 
Cook more appetizers/snacks: 
nope 
Taking time to blog thoughtfully: 
ehh. blogging at all is an accomplishment in my book.
Journal the cute moments of my little one: I slacked this month. 
What I’m reading: 
 I read The Vacationers; The Goldfinch; & The Last Mrs. Parrish 
What I’m watching: 
I’m into The Crown which is fun for some substance

#Meatless Monday Recap #2

Back in January I instituted #MeatlessMondays into our weekly menu plan, though it isn’t always on Mondays. Since the last update, the name of the game is speed and ease. The little one is more into grains, veggies, pasta, and cheese than he is into meat at the moment so meatless is never a challenge for him.

Some of my favs have been the no-brainers, because that’s helpful for speed now that I’m verrrrry pregnant. I followed a few recipes that were great! I made a Roasted Veggie Lasagna from What’s Gaby Cooking with a cream sauce and I roasted butternut squash, zucchini, and grape tomatoes as the veggies.  Another recipe we loved was Peanut Rice Noodle Bowls with Curried Peanut Sauce from Eats Well With Others.

I made Tomato Basil Polenta Bowls with White Beans and it was so good!
The Three Bite Rule - Tomato Basil Polenta Bowls

We had a white french bread pizza and risotto and ravioli which are all fan favorites here.

This Tart with Potatoes, Gruyere, and Caramelized Onions was a hit for me, less so for everyone else.
The Three Bite Rule - Potato Tart
I put chopped veggie burgers into tacos with a little taco seasoning and voila, veggie & filling taco!

We had a few soups: Broccoli & Cheddar Soup  and grilled cheese with tomato soup.

One of the most fun meatless meals I made was waffle fry nachos with queso, avocado, shredded cheddar, peppers & onions, and salsa. So fun!

I’m fully willing to admit that my meatless meals are also serving us as the no-brainers I really appreciate to keep it easy. I’m 34 weeks pregnant and through my entire pregnancy I’m not “glowing” or whatever people say who enjoy this. I’m glad to get meals together quickly so we can all eat together, and keep it varied. They might not all be my most creative moments, but it is a good way to keep us varied.