Cruisin’ to Bahamas

On the cruise to the Bahamas, sis and I had some some tasty meals!

I started with chipotle shrimp with tempura zucchini strings. The shrimp had a good smoky flavor. I would have liked it as my whole meal!
cruise_shrimp_290_200
Sis started with the onion soup. She thought it was OK but the fried onions on the top lost their crunch.
cruise_onionsoup_290_200
She had salad for the next course and I had a weird one. I had spicy pineapple salad. It had fresh pineapple, red pepper, and tomatoes.
cruise_pineapple_290_200
Next for the main course, I had a pork chop with sweet potato and apple. Sound familiar? It was good, but huge! There were about four green beans hidden underneath.
cruise_pork_290_200Sis got the chef’s special roasted chicken. It makes me want to roast a chicken as a right of passage in the kitchen. This one wasn’t a photogenic as it looked in person.
cruise_chicken_290_200
We both got a chocolate moose dessert. The couple next to us described it as a chocolate peep. It wasn’t good. It was a waste of calories. Didn’t it look good though?
cruise_dessert_290_200

bermuda BAHAMA come on pretty mama

Ohh thank you Beach Boys for such a catchy tune for my vacay. Sis and I returned from our trip in the Bahamas after having a great time. It was beautiful and we loved the cruise and island stay combo.

I usually felt delayed by the slow pace but at meals it was perfect! We wandered towards the shopping and restaurants after spending the day between the pools and beach. After checking out the local fare, we ended up on the porch at After Deck.
afterdeck_sign_290_200
Our waitress was adorable! She brought some warm, local, potato bread and butter to us. It may not look like anything fancy but it had great flavor!
afterdeck_bread_290_200
We shared eggplant fritters to start. They were good, but I think the eggplant was a bit too thick. As eggplant can be, they were a bit bitter. The garlic yogurt on them was amazing and counteracted the bitterness. I’ve always shredded the eggplant for fritters so it was a nice change.
afterdeck_fritters_290_200
I got stuffed red snapper with fries. It felt like the perfect beachy meal. It was stuffed with crab and shrimp. I loved it. I ate all of the fish.
afterdeck_stuffish_290_200
Sis got the fisherman’s platter. She asked for no shrimp and to double up on anything else. It included fried conch, conch fritters, and a few other items. The conch is a very popular fish for them so she wanted to try it. I found it a bit chewy when left in big pieces like calamari can be but it was pretty comparable to a tougher scallop.
afterdeck_fried_290_200
I really loved my meal and want to cook more fish at home.
afterdeck_fish_290_200

Traveling Drinks

While traveling, we like to try some of the local everday beverages. Somewhere in Greece a few years ago I purchased a canned beverage but didn’t drink it right away. It was called Hello Boss and I thought it was just a funny name. I didn’t drink it until Albania, a few countries later, because I was tired of toting it around.

On my trip to the Bahamas with my Sis, we saw a guy drinking an interesting can of something while he sold us our terrible kayaking trip. It’s not his fault we are AWFUL kayakers. I saw his Goombay Punch and assumed it was alcoholic…not sure why. Turns out, it’s not.
bahamas_cans_200_290
We got ourselves Goombay Punch and Fruit Champagne and drink them while watching a wedding reception being set up at our hotel. I wasn’t a fan of either. Both were sickening sweet.
bahamas_drinks_290_200
I thought the Goombay Punch was OK but the Fruit Champagne tasted like strong Red Bull. I love champagne but I think just the name came about because it was bubbly.

Check it out, you can order it online!

 

Now it’s just about time for a long holiday weekend. Enjoy some festive beverages! I’m toying with bringing some sangria to the lake in Maine…

Eggy Toast

Mr. J has a new signature dish! He has perfected this bfast dish and all I can say is keep ‘em coming! Eggs and toast make this a great go-to meal. We’ve had it for dinner when it seemed like there was nothing.
eggtoast_plate_290_200

Ingredients:

4 slices of wheat bread, buttered
4 eggs

Directions:

Grill buttered bread lightly on both sides
Using a biscuit cutter or jar top cut out holes in the center of the bread
eggtoast_ring_290_200
Return the bread to the pan and crack an egg into each hole
eggtoast_sunnyside_290_200
Cook the egg until set and flip
eggtoast_flipped_290_200

The eggs were perfectly cooked through with a runny yolk and the toast was crispy. Also, the gently toasted toast circles popped out of the toast make for a great bite while waiting for the real thing.
eggtoast_plate_290_200

Mr. J thought toasting the bread in the pan before popping out the center made for a crispier edge. He served a little potato red pepper hash on the side. Yum!

Now, for the serious stuff. What do YOU call this? What SHOULD we call this? Let me know!

Guest Blog: Beantown’s Italian North End from a First Time Visitor

Readers, please meet Mr. B. He was visiting Boston and wanted to share a guest post with you!

Growing up in Chicago was amazing.  The only problem was that I was spoiled by all of the amazing food Chicago has to offer.  Chief among these delectable offerings is Italian food.  I live in Houston now, and unfortunately, I cannot get really exceptional Italian food in the Lone Star State.

I started my day by going on a Freedom Trail Tour learning about the early days of the American Revolution.  At the conclusion of the tour, the guide asked if we had any questions.  I told him that I had a very serious question: where could I get the best Italian food in the North End?  He directed me to a small restaurant off of Hanover Street called Trattoria Il Panino. I sat in the “giardino” or garden room at Trattoria Il Panino.

Normally I order Fettuccine Alfredo or Chicken Parmesan at Italian restaurants, but Boston is known for its seafood, so I decided to try a special called lobster fettuccine with chopped scallops in a “Fra Diavolo” sauce.  The waiter described the dish as being a lobster-infused fettuccine with a spicy tomato-based sauce.  He further explained that “Fra Diavolo” literally means “with the devil.”
guest_northend_pasta_290_200
The dish arrived, and I was surprised at the size of it.  In parts of Chicago, you get an overflowing helping of pasta.  At Trattoria Il Panino, the portion seemed small.  Halfway through the dish, it seemed like I had not made a dent in it.  When I finished the dish, I thought I had eaten all of the pasta in Boston!  The dish was very colorful and appealing.  The chef included chunks of lobster along with the chopped scallops.  He also included jalapeno peppers.  The waiter said that this was nontraditional, but the chef wanted to make sure the dish was spicy enough to do the devil justice.
guest_northend_plate_290_200
The bread was amazing as well.  That’s one of the things I really miss about Chicago Italian food.  In my opinion, the bread makes the meal, and Trattoria Il Panino offered excellent bread.  I overheard the wait staff speaking to one another in Italian, which added to the ambience.  All in all, I recommend Trattoria Il Panino for its wonderful bread, authentic ambience, and creative dishes.

While I was walking from Faneuil Hall to Trattoria Il Panino, I asked for suggestions on twitter for a place to eat in the North End.  One of my friends tweeted that I should try Regina’s Pizzeria.  I made my way there after first lunch.  For second lunch, I had a delicious slice of pepperoni pizza.  The pizza was a large slice of thin-crust pizza.  The pizza was dripping with pepperoni, cheese, and grease.  Although it wasn’t the healthiest choice, it sure was delicious. Predictably, the entire restaurant was packed with to-go orders coming in frequently and hungry patrons waiting outside for a table to open up.
guest_northend_sign
Another of my friends wrote on facebook that I should go to Mike’s Pastry for dessert.  I had no idea what I was getting myself into.  Mike’s Pastry has two long large display cases with just about any type of pastry you could possibly want including cannolis, cupcakes, and Boston cream puffs.  They were super busy.  They had at least six employees taking and filling orders and couldn’t keep up with demand.
guest_northend_200_290
I decided to go with a Boston cream puff…since I was in Boston!  The puff was very large with a Boston cream filling and a dark chocolate shell with white icing.  The amount of cream was overwhelming.  I think the puff should have been served with a spoon, so you could eat enough of the cream to make the proportion of puff and dark chocolate to cream a little more manageable.  I was able to make a complete mess of the situation with cream all over the place!

Finally, I made my way to Gigi Gelateria for some gelato.  What’s a trip to an Italian neighborhood without some gelato?  I chose a small cup of mint chocolate because it’s my favorite.  The gelato was overwhelmingly minty.  It was even a little too minty for me, and that’s saying a lot.  Other than the mintiness, the gelato was very smooth and creamy.  The small cup was also a very healthy serving.  I was unable to finish the small cup.  The furnishings were very contemporary and did not fit into the mold of an old Italian neighborhood.  When I was inside, I could have been anywhere in the country that sells gelato, but not specifically Boston’s North End.  I think my next trip to Boston will include a search for better gelato in the North End.
guest_northend_290_200
Overall, I have to say my experience in Boston’s North End was a success.  Hearing people speaking Italian as I walked through the neighborhood reminded me of some of the little Italian neighborhoods in Chicago.  The food was authentic and excellent.  I give Trattoria Il Panino, Regina’s Pizzeria, and Mike’s Pastry A pluses for their outstanding cuisine and neighborhood charm.  I give Gigi Gelateria a B- for the overpowering flavor and lack of neighborhood charm.  I am anxiously awaiting my next trip to Beantown!

Thanks Mr. B! Would you be interested in being a guest blogger? Email emily@thethreebiterule.com

Stuffed Burgers

For Mr. J’s bday we had a multi-day celebration. Since his birthday was a weekday AND a Bruin’s playoff game, I knew it should be fun, quick, and something to psych him up for the game (as if he needed help getting excited)!
stuffed_burger_donej_290_200
I made stuffed burgers after having such success with the burgers on the grill pan inside. I see them on menus but of course they never seem to offer them as turkey or chicken so I can’t usually partake.

I made Mr. J a beef burger stuffed with blue cheese and bacon. I made myself a turkey burger stuffed with Monterey Jack and bacon.  SO good! They were also very easy.

Ingredients:

1/3 pound ground beef/turkey for each burger
2 slices of bacon, cooked & crumbled
2 tbs chopped, shredded, or crumbled cheese
2 rolls

Directions:

Form the patty with most of the meat for the burger. Reserve the last bit for the top.
stuffed_burger_myinside_290_200stuffed_burger_jinside_290_200
Add cheese and bacon.
Apply the reserve to the top of the filling while forming the sides to meet the top.
Grill on each side, covering if needed to cook through
stuffed_burger_cooks_290_200

He was happy to have ground beef at home for a change since I do everything in turkey or chicken. We both thought these were fun and want to try again too! I was thinking going Greek with feta and spinach would be great as well.

stuffed_burger_doneme_290_200stuffed_burger_donej_290_200

Memory Meal

In honor of a very special man Mr. J’s family lost I wanted to remember him at home since the  memorial service wasn’t for a while. I asked Mr. J’s Gram what Gramp would pick if he could have anything to eat. She said: pork chops, apple sauce, and sweet potatoes.

I took a spin off these and went with it. I made Sweet Potato Anna and Rye-Stuffed Pork Chops with Apple Thyme Pan sauce. It was good. Definitely not a light summery meal but it was a cool and rainy day which went perfectly!
stufpork_290_200
Rye Stuffed Pork Chops with Apple Thyme Pan Sauce
I found this recipe on a blog called A Sweet Chef check it out. This recipe looked amazing on there! I have nothing against apple sauce but thought adding apple into the pork would be more my style.

Ingredients:

For the stuffing
2 tbsp. unsalted butter, separated
1 cup rye bread, diced small (about 2 slices)
1/4 cup onion, diced
1/4 cup celery, diced
1/4 cup dried apples, diced
1 tsp. minced fresh thyme leaves (I went with dried)
1/4 cup chicken broth
1 tbsp. apple cider vinegar
kosher salt, to taste
freshly ground black pepper, to taste
For the chops
2 boneless center-cut pork chops (about 5 oz each)
1 tbsp. olive oil
kosher salt, to taste
freshly ground black pepper, to taste
For the sauce
1 tbsp. unsalted butter
2 tbsp. shallots, minced (I used onion instead)
1 tsp. all-purpose flour
1/4 cup apple cider or apple juice
1/4 cup dry white wine
1 tsp. apple cider vinegar
chopped fresh thyme leaves (again, I used dried)
kosher salt, to taste
freshly ground black pepper, to taste
(I added in a smidge of maple syrup for sweetness)

Directions:

Preheat oven to 400 degrees.

Toast bread in 1 tbsp. butter in an oven-proof skillet over medium high heat until crisp and then transfer to a bowl.  Return pan to heat.
stuf_pork_stuffing290_200
Saute onion, celery and apples in 1 tbsp. butter over medium heat until soft.  Stir in thyme.  Add vegetables to bread cubes.  Toss mixture with broth, vinegar and seasonings until liquid is absorbed.  Wipe out the skillet.
stuf_pork_apple_290_200
Prepare chops.  Fill pockets with bread mixture.  They will be full, but you’ll probably have some left-over stuffing.  Saute chops in oil over medium-high heat until brown on one side, about 3 minutes.  Carefully turn the chops over and add any extra stuffing to the pan at this point.  Transfer pan to the oven.  Roast about 8 minutes, then remove the chops and stuffing from the pan and set aside.  Tent with foil to keep warm.
stufpork_pan_290_200
Saute shallots (onions) for the sauce in 1 tbsp. of butter in same skillet over medium heat.  Add flour and cook for 1 minute.  Deglaze the pan with cider, wine and vinegar.  Simmer until sauce is slightly thickened, about 2-3 minutes.  Finish sauce with thyme, salt and pepper.
stufpork_sauce_290_200
Enjoy!

Sweet Potato Anna

Ingredients

1 large sweet potato peeled & sliced thin
3 tbs melted butter
1 tbs dijon mustard

Directions

Slice the peeled sweet potato into thin slices (I used a mandolin)
Melt butter and mix mustard in
layer potato slices and drizzle butter on each layer adding salt & pepper too
sweetpot_anna_layered_200_290
Bake 425 for 30 minutes until the edges are brown& crispy!
sweetpot_anna_plate

Father’s Day

I have such a wonderful father and I hope he is having a terrific day even though his daughters are off on vacation right now. Sis and I are off to the bahamas but I wanted to take a minute to celebrate my Dad. He’s so caring, strong, and such a great support to me. I’m very lucky to have him.

dads_day_290_200

photo photo courtesy of Sideral via Creative Commons


He’s not where I learned any cooking tips from though…dill and parmesan cheese are his favorite additions to everything! He makes great Mac & Cheese from a box and AMAZING omelettes. If you’re ever lucky enough to have my dad offer you an omelette, you take it.

Here’s to you Dad!

Calzone Queen

I was racking my brain for what to make for my Boston visitors. There were 6 of us and I wanted something everyone would like and that wouldn’t be too tricky to pull off while still getting to see everyone. I decided on calzones and now, it’s official: they are my signature dish.

I figured for 6 people I could made them ahead of time and warm when folks arrived. It turned out I was too distracted by wedding invitation stuffing to make everything in advance, but I busted out a few  tasty new ones alongside a previous favorite.

I made turkey meatball, spinach, and mozzarella as I’ve made before. I called it the “North End’er” for my guests visiting Boston.

We also had a sausage, red & yellow pepper calzone called “Fenway Favorite” which was a big hit.
calzone_fenway_290_200
A new one was broccolini & cheddar I called “Cambridge Common”
calzone_cambridge_290_200
and a BBQ chicken and caramelized onion “Houston Misses You” calzone. Does BBQ chicken relate to any area of Boston? I was stumped on connecting that one.
calzone_houston_290_200

BBQ Chicken & Onion Calzone

Ingredients

2 chicken breasts
1 cup bbq sauce of your choosing
1 onion
2 cups Monterrey Jack cheese
1 dough ball

Directions

Marinate the chicken in BBQ sauce before grilling it. I made some BBQ sauce before hand but any kind you like would be fine
Fork apart the grilled chicken and slather with BBQ sauce
Chop the onion and caramelize in a skillet
Sprinkle chicken and sauce, the onions, and cheese onto half of the dough ball
Repeat until it seems like WAY too much (trust me on this)
Close the calzone and make some air slits on the top.
Brush with eggwash and bake at 425 for 20 minutes

I liked it a lot. Probably because I knew I had made the sauce. It was so easy! I also added in a few bottled sauces with too little left to use productively. Liquid Smoke was new to me but adding some in made a nice touch. I wasn’t as meticulous as usual about getting filling all the way to the edges because I was chatting. I’m shocked that I got all 4 into the oven at the same time (2 on one pan)!

Guess what I’ve been eating for lunch this week!

I’ve Got An Ap For That…

While I sadly do not yet have an iPhone I may have just made the best restaurant APpetizer at home!

In honor of my Mac & Cheese-loving-Mrs. Z, I made some fried mac & cheese bites when she was visiting Boston with her husband (who planned a guest blog post for me!). Mrs. A & Mr. D joined us for a mini staff (and husbands) dinner party.
fried_mac_plate
They were amazing. Albeit not perfect, they were still delectable and I’m onto a good thing. I think the technique was really important. I stole a tip from a blog, Dinner With Julie. She recommended making the mac & cheese then refrigerating it so it can easily be cut. Definitely a good tip. Check it out on her blog!

 

You may have seen me make mac & cheese before here or proclaim my love for it here. I wasn’t sure how this would go so I just whipped up some basic mac & cheese with small shells and cheddar.

Ingredients

mac & cheese (boxed or prepared as you like it)
2 cups vegetable oil for frying
2 eggs whipped
1 cup panko

Directions

Prepare mac & cheese
Refrigerate several hours in square dish 1” thick
Remove from dish in 1 piece and cut into cubes while oil is heating on medium heat in large skillet.
fried_Mac_cubes_290_200
Dredge the mac & cheese cubes in egg and panko before dropping into oil. Turn halfway until evenly golden brown.
fried_mac_frying_290_200

My oil wasn’t quite hot enough at first so the first round wasn’t as crisp but they were still good. Next time, as I’m sure there will be a next time, I would mix in some shredded cheese after preparing the mac & cheese so the bites would be more cheesy. I rarely fry anything because I think it’s such a bother and I don’t like the sputtering oil. Mr. J and I had JUST started a wedding registry and joked when we saw the a deep fryer…as if anyone needs that at home. Dangerous!

They were fun and more unusual than I go for aps. I was really happy with them but plan to only break them out on special occasions. I’m glad I attempted them. I now wonder if they could be made ahead of time and broiled briefly before serving to stay warm? We’ll see…