What I Ate: At a Wedding Cocktail Hour

Wedding cocktail hour is my favorite. I love the vows, and the dancing (especially since Mr. J is a rockin’ dancer), but then I love the cocktail hour. Contrary to the name I like it for the food. I don’t worry about the drinks…it is all about the snacks. I love passed aps, Mrs. K had baked brie that I’m still raving about (3+ years later), Mrs. M had an amazing cheese selection. Serious love for the aps.

I don’t review many weddings but I went to one with the best cocktail hour ever. Ever. I know, I go to my share of weddings every year. I snapped a few pics with my phone but when I heard the next morning that the bride didn’t have any of the amazing aps I knew I HAD to blog ‘em. She writes Flying on Jess Fuel (stop by her blog, say hello, wish her congrats, and check out her recipes).

The chef was Chef Roland. I loved their cocktail hour. I cannot get over how many aps there were. I was so impressed that the hot ones were actually hot! The chilled ones were actually cool! The servers all knew what they were offering to us. It was amazing. Here are my favorites:

Shrimp ceviche with mango salsa on an edible spoon.
The Three Bite Rule - Wedding Aps  Yes, that’s right. There’s a crisp bite of spoon with each bite. Delicious!

Dill scone topped with lobster salad. It was lightly dressed and so fresh. I mayyy have stalked the servers whenever I saw these!
The Three Bite Rule - Wedding Aps

Lamb and quinoa cakes. The bride loves quinoa so these seemed even more perfect.
The Three Bite Rule - Wedding Aps

There were some mean lookin’ pistachio crusted lamb lollipops but I figured the lamb cake bite was probably my red-meat maximum for the day. I popped the lobster mac & cheese bite before I got a photo. Yum!

We had some bruschetta, coconut shrimp, spanakopita, cajan shrimp & kielbasa…I don’t even remember what else. There were so many. I had to chose wisely. There were just so many.

Ohh then we had dinner. It started with a salad of greens, beets, peaches, and candied walnuts. Seriously amazing.
The Three Bite Rule - Wedding Aps
Dinner options were beef, fish, or vegetarian. I got the fish. It turned out to be sole stuffed with spinach, mushrooms, and lobster. You had me at lobster.

Mr. J and I are off for the weekend to celebrate our 1st wedding anniversary! Can you believe it has been a year?!? I’ll be sure to let you know how that year old piece ‘o cake fared this past year!

Nail Polish Colored Potluck

In honor of Ms. K’s last day we had a tearful potluck to say goodbye and good luck to our nail polish loving coworker. It was along the lines of our Rainbow Potluck but this time we chose our colors based on a nail polish to each give her as a parting gift. I’m always so impressed with what everyone comes up with to bring! It’s tricky! We only have a fridge, microwave, and toaster oven to use but once again, it was a good one!

There was an awesome chilled watermelon soup. The watermelon color was Pretty in Punk.
The Three Bite Rule - Nail Polish Potluck

There were delicious (and healthy!) Granola-ish balls. They were like cookie dough but full of great ingredients like flaxseeds, peanut butter, and oats. The oatmeal color was Sand Tropez.
The Three Bite Rule - Nail Polish Potluck

We loved this avocado black eyed pea salad. It was fresh and creamy and delicious. The black eyed pea color was I Don’t Drink Cheap Wine.
The Three Bite Rule - Nail Polish Potluck
Our office can eat nachos and guacamole like we’ve never had it before! The guac green was Go Overboard.
The Three Bite Rule - Nail Polish Potluck

We had a re-creation from the sandwich shop downstairs with everything bagels, cream cheese, tomato and avocado. It was the right mix of filling and freshness. The tomato red was Forever Yummy.
The Three Bite Rule - Nail Polish Potluck
I made puff pastry bites with brie and blackberry sauce. More on them later. The nail polish was Henna Things Possible.
The Three Bite Rule - Nail Polish Potluck

Playing Chopped at Home

Do you watch chopped? I love it. As I’ve said before, it is like the old school Ready Set Cook! for the modern day…and with real chefs. My sis and I play occasionally. It’s actually a super easy way to host without going crazy.

Playing Chopped at Home:

Invite 1-4 people to join you
ask them to bring your specified quantity of basket items (I usually do 3 per person)
stock your pantry if you don’t have some basic staples (i.e. rice, pasta, condiments, breadcrumbs, spices, milk, etc)
Then, come up with your meal together with the ingredients!

I don’t do basket items by course, but you could definitely do that. Or you could break your group by course if you have too many cooks in the kitchen.

There were only 2 of us so we went with just a few ingredients each. Here they are!
The Three Bite Rule - Play Chopped
me:
marinated chicken breasts
onion dip mix
all my pantry items

sis:
pepperoni
ah-so chinese sauce
limes

We made a dip/relish with tomato, corn, red onion, ah-so Chinese barbecue sauce (basket ingredient) and lime juice (basket ingredient). This was seriously tangy and neon pink but surprisingly tasty. We served this with tortilla chips as a starter.
The Three Bite Rule - Play Chopped

Then we chopped potatoes and mixed them with the onion dip (basket ingredient) and some olive oil then baked them to be crispy. While this wasn’t super inventive, it mayyy have been on the back of the package, it was a good use. I liked the extra salty flavor instead of just roasting potatoes with random herbs & spices. Leftovers also made great hasbrowns the next morning ;)
The Three Bite Rule - Play Chopped

For the chicken we decided to stuff it with pepperoni and needed something else. I had some goat cheese so we went fully decadent. I thought the tartness of the goat cheese and the fatty pepperoni was great to liven up some otherwise basic chicken.
The Three Bite Rule - Play Chopped

Go ahead and try it. It is so fun and a great way to not overthink dinner (then send me a pic with what you came up with emily@thethreebiterule.com!

Olympics Potluck

The closing ceremony is almost here. So sad. I don’t know about you but I’m exhausted. It is so much work to keep up! Gymnastics and beach volleyball have been my favorites. Of course I got sucked into some swimming, diving, and track as well.

To celebrate, it was time for some office olympics…not a la Jim & Pam’s Office Olympics but  in our way of celebrating, as a potluck!

The Three Bite Rule Olympic Potluck
Let the games begin!

We had greek salad
The Three Bite Rule Olympic Potluck
I made Greek lettuce wraps
The Three Bite Rule Olympic Potluck
And some summery bruschetta with a nod to Italian athletes
The Three Bite Rule Olympic Potluck
and a full out cheer to the Italian team
The Three Bite Rule Olympic Potluck
There was a great representation of the rings!
The Three Bite Rule Olympic Potluck
These rings too!
The Three Bite Rule Olympic Potluck
There was some red, white & blue patriotism
The Three Bite Rule Olympic Potluck
Wishing both the French & USA bon chance with some trifle!
The Three Bite Rule Olympic Potluck
Local & Farmer’s market picks suggest that the USA will sweep in medals! The Three Bite Rule Olympic Potluck

 

Birthday Party Theme: Apps & Zerts

This year may have been my best birthday theme ever. My life in event planning is Parks & Rec…to a tee. It is perfectly accurate in case you were wondering. I’m reasonably sure most of the jurisdictions I work with have assistants who are bribed not to let calls go through. They’ve referenced the piles of paper they have to get through and regularly do me a favor, by doing their jobs. Work hasn’t made me bitter, but I see the disparity in customer service all the time. I have a special place in my heart for park folks around the country who take their jobs as seriously as Leslie Knope.

Mr. J took all the photos so I could enjoy myself. It was wonderful and delicious. My friends are really talented. Somehow I thought there’d be a more manageable quantity of food compared to last year’s birthday food theme, but (K)nope, there was more!
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Without further ado, here they are!

Here’s the app winner: Not Swanson’s Zucchini Goat cheese Rolls (the winner won Ron Swanson paper dolls)
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This is the zert winner: S’more Cups (this winner got Leslie Knope paper dolls)
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These had LOTS of votes so it won a runner up award aka, a sketch of Tom Haverford
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This runner up got a sketch of Ben Wyatt since the flavors were so complex
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This runner up got the Chris Trager health award

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This runner up got a sketch of Donna since I thought Donna would find this Benz-worthy
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There was so much food! This one was mine!
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this was mine too!

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Love Mini Foods & Mini Spinach and Artichoke Dip

My office has THE BEST potluck themes. We recently did a theme for foods you can make in a muffin tin. There were no other restrictions and it might have been one of our best. We figured we love mini-food and thought it’d be a good theme for Valentine’s Day. I’m super delayed but happy to share these guys finally. My favorite techie has updated my whole computer so I was computer hopping and had files all over.

This theme would be really fun for a party or potluck because everything is really self-serve-able and because it is pretty self-contained, not everything needed silverware!
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Mini cheesecakes! 
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Mini spinach & cheese bites
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Mini strawberry shortbreads
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Mini Mac & Cheese
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Chocolate Peanut Butter Cupcakes
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Lemon Poppyseed Ebelskiver
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Mint Frosted Brownies
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Mini Lasagna Cups
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Banana Chocolate Chip Muffins
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Mini Spinach & Artichoke Dip Cups (these were mine, the recipe is below)
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Everything was so good!
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Spinach & Artichoke Dip Cups

Ingredients:

1 cup spinach, chopped
1 cup artichokes, chopped
1/2 cup Alfredo Sauce
1/2 package cream cheese
1 tsp garlic, chopped
1 cup shredded white cheddar cheese
wonton wrappers

Directions:

Assemble dip ingredients
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Mix ingredients
If serving as dip, spray and transfer to a baking dish making a thin (aka dip-able) layer.
If serving as cups, spray a muffin tin and layer dip on top of wonton wrappers.
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I think the alfredo made the mix really dip-able and not too thick. I freeze leftover spinach whenever I know I won’t get to all of it. I also threw in some frozen kale and I thought it was great. I put some basil in too. It gave a freshness and light taste.

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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Fallish Potluck

Although Mother Nature seems mildly confused this fall in New England (it snowed before Halloween and was over 60-degrees in mid-November) and now we’re finally feeling some fall.  I’ve been sooo ready for fall food for awhile.

My office loves a good potluck (as seen here and here and here) and we chose fall foods just in time for Thanksgiving! I’m not sure what the difference between fall and Thanksgiving foods are though. It was really delicious. We had a FEAST and we were all ready for a nap afterwards.

I made a sweet potato puree with strusel on top. I was DYING to try it but thought the spoonful missing would be too obvious. It was very easy and would be a great addition to any meal, especially as a dish to make ahead of time or for anyone bringing a side. That recipe will follow soon!

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Wicked good Pumpkin Mac & Cheese with brussels sprouts and apple. Yes, you read that right. Genius move adding the brussels sprouts & apple!

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Orzo salad with spinach, tomatoes, and feta. This was fresh, and cool, and crisp…such great juxtaposition to everything else.
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Pumpkin Scones with Cinnamon Chips. I swoon over cinnamon chips. The scones absorbed the glaze and then we absorbed the scones.
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Cornbread Stuffing
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Apple Pie
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Cookie Ice Cream Sandwiches. Even the cookies were baked on site.
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It was all delicious and we may or may not have eaten and come back for seconds in true Thanksgiving style ;)

 

 

Rehearsal Dinner Feast

I’m back from my honeymoon with Mr. J. We loved Spain & Italy and had a completely perfect time. I can’t believe it is already over! I have lots to blog about so you’ll hear about it…all in good time.The rehearsal dinner got the wedding weekend really started. I didn’t really need practice eating dinner. I’ve pretty much got that down but it was so nice to relax all together after a stressful start to the rehearsal getting everyone there! We went to Sky which was right next to our hotel. Mr. Js parents hosted a really lovely evening for everyone.

Look at our chocolate puppy Mrs. S made! He looks just like Windsor! Loved it!
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We had a 3 course meal choice in a great size room to ourselves. The table was one huge table for the bridal party, parents, grandparents, significant others, and of course one bride-to-be, and one groom-to-be.

To start we had the choice of a Cesar salad or a wedge. I went with the wedge but forgot to get a shot of the Cesar…oops! The wedge had crumbled bacon, beefsteak tomatoes, and crisp onions. I thought it was great.
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Next I chose lobster mac & cheese. Ohh. My. Goodness. So sweet and buttery with consistently sizeable chunks of lobster. Yum.
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Mr. J had the NY Strip steak with beautiful grill marks. It came with roasted yukon potatoes and asparagus.
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The third choice was a Parmesan encrusted chicken with risotto and green beans.
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The chocolate dog wasn’t the only treat there…for dessert I had the vanilla creme brule and thought it was the perfect sweet treat to end the meal. I love creme brulee and know it isn’t something I could make at home.
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Mr. J had the Boston cream pie which was a modern construction. It was almost biscuit-like.

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Everything was great and we loved it. It was nice to be able to stroll back to the hotel before the big day!

Mediterranean Bliss

Is there anyone out there who doesn’t love Mediterranean food? It’s definitely my favorite. I never get sick of it. I love all the dip-able things….and all the olive oil…and all the feta…and all the marinades. I just can’t get enough. I recently enjoyed a Mediterranean meal with some of the most wonderful ladies in my life during my bachelorette weekend.

We went to an amazing winery earlier in the day, more on that later, but our dinner was at Temple in Providence, RI! We started with a few cocktails, in our own room within the restaurant with a less-than-enthused waiter, and the appetizer sampler to share. The Temple Mezze Platter was delicious and perfect for sharing. It had tzatziki, baba ghanoush (the best I’ve ever had, btw), hummus, dolmas, spanakopita, moroccan carrots & warm pita. Loved it! We ordered 2 platters to serve 4 each. It was plenty with some leftover.

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I got a mango lime cocktail. It was sweet but tart and I loved it. temple_drink_200_290
They brought out an assorted bread basket and roasted garlic. So good! temple_garlic_290_200

The menu seemed to have plenty of options for everyone. We ordered from every section of the menu! I got the Maine Lobster Flatbread. It had leeks and St. Andre cheese…also a fav. I’ve loved this buttery cheese but I’ve never melted it. Duh! I’m embarassed to say that I didn’t take a photo of my meal. Gasp!  It was really good but I was full quickly. I ended up eating the lobster off the remaining pieces once I just couldn’t eat anymore. I’d never let lobster go to waste. One Ms. L got the lobster flatbread too but I didn’t bug her to get a photo since I had the same.

Ms. L got Spring Vegetable Fusilli. It was full of all different veggies. The server didn’t think she’d put too much of a dent in it…there just was so much!

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This Mrs. E got Greek Style Chicken in a lemon, garlic, & oregano marinade. Ms. M got this as well.
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Check. Out. This. Flatbread. How amazing does that look?! One Mrs. E and one Ms. L got this sausage and argula flatbread and liked it. Ms. L wasn’t overly into the argula on top. temple_sausage_290_200
Another Ms. L got the Temple Burger. It’s lamb with black olive tapenade and tzatziki. I was eyeing that one. temple_burg_200_290
Ms. A got Greek Salad and Portuguese-Style Caldo Verde. It was leek and potato soup with chorizo. temple_soup_290_200
I loved everything about this weekend and everything about this meal. I was so pleasantly stuffed. Then, just when I thought the meal was over, they bring out these guys: temple_cupcakes_290_200 These are the best cupcakes I’ve ever had. The cake part was so good! Normally I’m just into the frosting on cupcakes from bakeries but these were different. We also amused ourselves trying to identify them. I ate the one that looks like s’mores (bottom left). They were specially delivered by Ms. L’s sis from Nancy’s Fancies. Seriously unlike any other bakery cupcake. What a nice touch to finish the meal with?! I have the greatest friends ever.