What I Ate: Pumpkin Muffins

I’m about to rock your socks off. And if you’re not wearing socks because it has been lovely at 63-degrees & sunny here in Boston then I’m going to rock your shoes off. I made the fastest and easiest muffins ever. I’m about to have muffins on hand all the time.

Ready for 2 ingredient muffins? Two. Count ‘em.
Pumpkin Muffin

Ingredients:

1 box Spice cake mix
1 can pumpkin

Directions:

Mix together
Bake

See? Omg. Totally the easiest thing ever. I added cinnamon chips because I love them. These were super easy and gave me some baking courage. I drizzled some maple glaze over the top. Somebody was taunted by my photo staging set up:
Pumpkin MuffinGood thing those chair spindles aren’t any wider apart! Isn’t he just the cutest?! You know what I say to that?

Aww MUFFIN!

Enjoy the weekend! I’m home from Santa Barbara, and from LA, and from NYC! Woohoo! I have lots ‘o blogging to catch up on so stay tuned for some picture heavy posts coming up next week! This doesn’t count towards my fall foods list, but I have a pumpkin post to prep that will count on my list, for sure!

Cheese Danish Squares

So you know that I’m not a great baker, right? I’m trying more often. I recently made lemon squares which came out pretty decent and now I made these Chess Squares or Gooey Butter Cake and it was 50% successful.

If I was only 50% successful then why are you still reading? I’m sure you want to know which half worked Well! Tricky, tricky, I split it into 2 pans and brought one to a weekend with the fam in Maine and left one home. Unfortunately I brought the over-done-one to Maine (not pictured) and Mr. J demolished the successful one at home (pictured below).
The Three Bite Rule - Cheese Danish Squares
It didn’t look like it was going to set so I baked one longer (as in too long) and they weren’t as gooey. I think that’s my baking problem. I deviate from the recipe. I need to follow the instructions exactly. I need to trust the system. They were totally edible though and definitely the easiest baked good ever.

Cheese Danish Squares

(Chess Squares by Kevin and Amanda, Gooey Butter Cake by Paula Deen, & anyone else who makes this)

Ingredients:

1 (18 1/4-ounce) box yellow cake mix
3 eggs
8 tablespoons butter, melted
1 (8-ounce) package cream cheese, softened
1 16-ounce box powdered sugar

Directions:

Preheat oven to 300 and spray a 9×13 dish with cooking spray.
Mix cake mix, melted butter and one egg to a soft dough.
The Three Bite Rule - Cheese Danish Squares
Press into the bottom of the pan.
The Three Bite Rule - Cheese Danish Squares
Mix powdered sugar, softened cream cheese and remaining two eggs until smooth, about 1-2 mins.
The Three Bite Rule - Cheese Danish Squares
Pour on top of crust.
Bake at 300 for 40-50 minutes until top is golden brown.
The Three Bite Rule - Cheese Danish Squares

They reminded me of a cheese danish so I’m throwing one more name into the mix. I like them as a sweet brunch item but call it another name and you’ve got a dessert.
The Three Bite Rule - Cheese Danish Squares

They were suuuuper easy and would be great to throw together last minute…I mean. ehh. you totally planned ahead. and had everything you needed. and looked as organized as Martha Stewart. and didn’t arrive empty handed like Emily Post taught you.

Hash Brown Crust Bfast Pizza

Wayyy back when, I was making breakfast pizza I was also thinking what else I could do with breakfast pizza. There’s nothing cheaper or easier than bfast. I always have eggs and bacon around so poof! It became pizza topped with “fried” egg. I was wondering about scrambled egg too. My mind then went to crispy hash browns. I know, you don’t want to know where my food-brain goes.

What if the hash brown cakes were the CRUST. I’m a genius. Or this might exist somewhere. I’m not sure. All I know is that I’ve never seen it on a menu and I’ve been to quite a few diners and breakfast spots and I’ve never seen this. Come on people!
The Three Bite Rule - Bfast Pizza

Mr. A recreated the egg one and tweeted it to me. Love it! It got my butt in gear to adapt it for another method.
bfast pizza

Ingredients:

½ bag shredded potato hash browns
1/3 can cream of mushroom soup
8 oz shredded cheddar
4 slices of bacon
3 eggs, scrambled

Directions:

Mix shredded potatoes and soup together.
Then spread it out onto a pan and bake for 30 minutes at 400-degrees.
The Three Bite Rule - Bfast Pizza
Cook bacon while crust is crisping.
When the potato has formed a crispy crust, top with cheddar and return to the oven for 5-10 minutes.
The Three Bite Rule - Bfast Pizza
Cook the scrambled egg (in the pan you cooked the bacon in for some extra bacon flavor!)
Cook the crust until the cheese melts into a delicious melty layer.
The Three Bite Rule - Bfast Pizza
Remove and top with scrambled egg and bacon.
The Three Bite Rule - Bfast Pizza

This was definitely a good pizza! I would have liked the crust to crisp a bit more but I really feared I’d burn the edges. I would recommend being mindful of the thickness. I could have spread it out then squished the edges back in to form the edge/barrier. It also might work better to make individual ones! Smaller ones could be pan fried if potatoes, eggs, and bacon isn’t too much for you to manage at the same time.

If you’re cooking for a crowd or for kids it might be fun to make individual ones that people can top as they like. I’ll make it again, and maybe I’ll even pan-fry the potato cakes…oooo!
The Three Bite Rule - Bfast Pizza

It isn’t a dinner that produces leftovers for lunch the next day. That’s usually a considering factor in my meal planning but hash brown cakes with cheese and bacon would still be good even if the eggs don’t reheat well!

A biscuit crust would be good if hash browns aren’t your thing either! I’d love it as potato crust, topped with cheese, and bacon and finished with a poached egg the very last second. Yum!

Which is your idea of a great start to the day?
The Three Bite Rule - Bfast Pizzaeggpizza_baked_290_200

Everything Bagel Cream Cheese Dip

I’m pretty obsessed with Pretzel Crisps right now. I love them…especially the everything ones. They remind me of everything bagels which then brought me to a cream cheese dip for them!

I made it for mother’s day brunch but am just getting around to posting it. Make this. Take my word for it. It’s a fun brunchy item that nobody else will have. It is super addicting too.

Ingredients:

8 oz cream cheese (softened to room temp)
1 tbs crushed garlic
1 tsp Italian seasoning
1 tsp sesame oil
1 tsp sesame seeds
1/2 tsp dried onion
½ tsp salt
½ tsp garlic powder
3 tbs milk/cream
Pretzel thins (everything or sesame or plain)

Directions:

Mix softened cream cheese with garlic, spices, and sesame oil.
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Add milk 1 teaspoon at a time until the mixture is dip-able.
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Refrigerate for 2 hours or overnight before serving.
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I think everyone liked it. I chose flavors I thought we’d like with the pretzels but there are tons of alternatives. Crushed garlic, garlic powder, and chives would be good. Or bacon and scallions (my fav at Breuggers).
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What is your go-to brunch item?

Biscuits and Gravy…it’s not just for Breakfast

Sometimes I’m full of dinner ideas and others I’m racking my brain. I don’t know how I came up with biscuits and gravy but I was feeling especially southern. This is more of a what-I-ate rather than a recipe but I wanted to share my biscuit success!
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Some of my thought was I haaaaad to prove it to myself that I could make a biscuit. I tried to make some that looked simple enough for thanksgiving that were a huge flop.

I made simple bisquick biscuits and they came out great! I used a juice glass to cut them. I brushed the tops with butter after cooking for a few minutes. They were light, fluffy, and absorbent.
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I crumbled 2 sausage links and made a simple creamy gravy. The sausage and gravy topped biscuits.
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I felt like we needed something else so I baked apple slices with some brown sugar, maple syrup, and oatmeal.
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Boston Brunchers Benedict

What seems like forever ago, I went to a brunch hosted by the Boston Brunchers at Landsdowne Pub. I left in a food coma so maybe that’s what’s taken me so long to post this! Hope this brunch is just in time for the weekend.
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I arrived and was warmly welcomed as other attendees showed up. We had already perused the menu but began by ordering drinks. I had a coffee and a liquid caramel coffee that was delectable.
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Their breakfast menu had a good assortment of traditional brunch items…many of which had an Irish twist. The buttermilk pancakes with strawberries and Bailey’s whipped cream caught my eye. I think it was the booze in the whipped cream that had me at hello.
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I went with the crabcake benedict. It was so good and I was really glad I got something I wouldn’t be making at home.
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The crabcake was flavorful with big crab chunks- not completely filler. I might have liked the hollandaise to be more lemony but it was good, and rich. The eggs were cooked perfectly!
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A few folks at the table got the Lansdowne Pie (Irish Ham, eggs, potatoes, spinach onions and cheddar served w/ home fries). It looked even better than it sounded. It was piled high and stayed together. Yum.
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One of the best moments for me, besides the fun conversations, was that when the food arrived everyone at the table started snapping photos. There were no “pardon-while-I-reach-over-your-food-to-take-a-picture” moments. Everyone snapped away. There were even iphones for additional light. It was ahhhhmazing.
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Our server was a gem. Serving a group is never easy, especially since we ordered drinks every time she came back to check on us. What a trooper.

There was live music and they were ready to serve the crowds. I wouldn’t think of Fenway as an area to head to for brunch, but if you’re in that ‘hood, you should!

Full 3 Bite Rule Disclosure: Brunch was completely complimentary but my thoughts, opinions, and words are entirely my own.

Multiple Christmas Dinners

Christmas probably seems like a long time ago for you, but for Mr. J and I, it was a whirlwind and feels like it just happened. We really tried not to wish Christmas away while awaiting our closing date and moving day. Christmas is a multi-day, multi-state, multi-family celebration for Mr. J and me. We coordinate our travel plans to spend time with his family in Maine and with my family in Greater Boston. It’s so fun, quite tiring, and there’s many meals. Here’s my recap of how those days were enjoyed through the meals.

At my family’s holiday, we are all about the traditional foods year after year. Apparently we cannot (or will not) break a few of these food traditions. On Christmas eve the R family has soup (clam chowder)
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My dad madee an amazing antipasto salad. He’s not really the cook in our family so we were impressed!
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My mum made the cutest cheese ball I’ve ever seen.
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On Christmas morning, we have coffee and a cheesecake-like coffee cake while we start gifts. It had apricot jelly and almonds on it.
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During a gift break, we have brunch with this casserole assembled the night before. It has rice, ham, cheese, eggs, and asparagus. It’s creamy and delicious.
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Christmas dinner was a surprise this year. Turducken! I was sooo excited to try it. We weren’t overly impressed and I think their suggested cooking time was way too much.
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We weren’t sure it would feed the 7 adults attending so we had a few heftier sides like this awesome shrimp dish (just shrimp, butter, and ritz).
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We had a Yule Log since it’s Dad’s favorite.
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In Maine Mrs. S recreated my failed apple bacon stuffed French toast. Amazing. It was so thick, sticky, and had plenty of crunchy bacon. I loved it and I knew somebody else could do it right.
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For lunch/dinner we had a cool ramen and cabbage salad. I’ve never had one with grapes and I loved it.
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We had some crockpot dishes that were good for feasting throughout the afternoon. The turkey meatballs we delicious.
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I wish I got a shot of the cake balls. I mean I ate enough of them there really wasn’t an excuse not to get a photo.

Christmas was really fun and we are always so grateful to make it to both families.

Festivus Brunch

I thought you might need some eye candy on this Monday. Feast on this! I went to a brunch hosted by some fun ladies and I have to say, I was totally impressed. Not that I expected anything less from these gals who host some pretty rockin’ parties, but this was one for the lesson books. I think everyone can take some brunch pointers from them. It was so convenient that they had a brunch. At a time of year where there are get-togethers and cocktail parties all the time the brunch was really refreshing and fit into my schedule perfectly. Now, onto the lesson!

Rule 1: Choose quality products.

They had some high quality bread by the toaster rather than the expected bagels.
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The sky is the limit for the hot chocolate bar and they had all the best additions
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This strata had gruyere, mushrooms, and spinach. Wonderful choice of interesting ingredients!
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Rule 2: Know your strengths/Use what you have.

If you make fantastic quiches all the time, why not serve ‘em? This one is tomato, basil, goat cheese and is delectable!
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One of these ladies bakes regularly whipped up bakery-quality muffins and frosted them.
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Call in an expert to make their specialty dish. If you’ve ever had Mrs. P’s coffee cake you’d know what I was talkin’ about.
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Rule 3: Concentrate on a few special (yet do-able) distinctive touches.

Of course there was a butter snowflake
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Their resident baker has the best cake decorations…especially for gingerbread muffins
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They served a pretty memorable jam selection
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Rule 4: Keep ‘em happy with some variety

What a fun treat for a non-breakfast person? Also a beverage option for anyone not wanting to spike their cocoa/coffee.
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I missed photos of the bacon, tator tots, and ham and egg in a crockpot. See what I told ya about their variety!?!

P.S. I brought some ebilskiver with candycane centers!
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Festive Pumpkin Breakfast for Dinner

These pumpkin pancakes were supposed to be festive Halloween dinner since they’re orange. Long story, but they got a bit delayed. They were dinner another night and they were delicious! Cross it off my list!
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Pumpkin pancake batter is definitely more sticky than regular pancake batter. I made pumpkin waffles way back when for a girls night dinner. I recall them sticking A LOT and these lovely girls being sweet pretending it was fine that I had such trouble getting them out of the waffle iron.I made them as ebelskiver because that’s (almost) the only way to eat a pancake! Dropping some of our fillings into a standard pancake would be A-OK too. This is a half recipe which will feed 3-4 people.
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Ingredients:

½ cup flour
1 tsp sugar
1 tsp baking powder
¼ tsp salt
½ tsp pumpkin pie seasoning (or ginger, allspice, and nutmeg)
½ tsp cinnamon
1 egg
½ cup milk
½ can pumpkin (not pumpkin pie filling)
1 tbs vegetable oil

Directions

Mix dry ingredients.
Add wet ingredients mixing only until combined (lumps are OK).
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Cook pancakes.
These pancakes are a bit wetter/looser than regular pancakes which is perfect for ebelskiver. I pour some in each well of the pan. Then the filling goes in, before more batter covers that. One little flip ensures the even cooking.
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I used cinnamon chips as a filling. Have I proclaimed my love for these here? No? Ohh my goodness. These are so great in anything! Cinnamon chips make such a wonderful difference in pumpkin bread too. I grab some whenever I see them in the baking aisle…and by some I mean 3 bags.

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I also did maple sausage and some apple ones too. The apple wasn’t enough on it’s own. I think chopping apples with cinnamon and sugar might have made it sparkle more. It sure was fall feeling though!

The savory fillings get me every time. Yum. So, tell me. Is breakfast for dinner OK in your house?

Quicky Quiche

My mum makes the best quiche so I was thinking I’d make one. It wasn’t quite as good as hers ever is, but overall I was happy with it.
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I used ready-made piecrust which made is super easy. Pie crust isn’t that hard to make, but I wasn’t making a double crusted pie so I made it a bit more simple by using one made for me. It meant making lunch for the week only took about 20 minutes to prep.

Ingredients

2 eggs
2 egg yolks
1 cup whole milk
2 strips of bacon, cooked & crumbled
2 cups spinach, chopped
1 cup mushrooms, sliced
¼ tsp cream of tartar
1 cup shredded cheddar
1/2 cup shredded mozzarella
salt & pepper

 

Directions

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
Chop spinach, mushrooms, and bacon.
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Wisk together eggs, egg yolks, milk, salt, pepper, and cream of tartar.
Layer cheese and fillings into piecrust.
Gently pour egg mixture over filling.
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Bake 35-40 minutes until center is set.
Allow to cool slightly before slicing.
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It was good but I think I put in too much cream of tartar. It’s supposed to provide acid to help stabilize the eggs.

Quiche was a great lunch option this week. Swiss or sharper cheddar might have given this more bite. This definitely was an easy way to use some mushrooms I had and for another serving of spinach.