Birthday Burger – Bacon Jam & Parmesan Peppercorn

Happy Birthday Mr J! The birthday burger was belated and became doubled up with Father’s Day – our guy is such a trooper. We were all about the toppings this year – bacon jam and parmesan peppercorn dressing! These beauties had lots of melty cheese and brioche rolls.

The Three Bite Rule - Birthday Burger with Bacon Jam & Parmesan Peppercorn

Bacon jam is delicious and definitely worth it. In a pinch, 3 parts crumbled bacon finely chopped + 1 part apple cider vinegar + 1 part maple syrup is a great quick fix.

Burgers with Bacon Jam & Parmesan Peppercorn Dressing
Ingredients: (for 4 burgers)

1 pound ground meat
4 tablespoons bacon jam (that’s ~1/3 of what the batch above makes)
2 tablespoons mayo
1 tablespoon sour cream
1-2 teaspoons milk
2 teaspoons grated Parmesan cheese
1/2 teaspoon black pepper
sprinkle of salt
sprinkle of garlic powder
4-6 slices of cheese
4 brioche buns
arugula

Directions:
Make the bacon jam ahead of time.
Form the burger patties and preheat the grill.
For the dressing, mix together the mayo, sour cream, some of the milk (adding more if needed later), parmesan cheese, pepper, salt, and garlic powder. Add remaining milk if you find it too thick (think: spreadable not quite like dressing).
Cook the burgers to your preference – we did some ground beef, some ground pork.
Top with lots of cheese and let that melt.
Assemble the burgers with a smear of parmesan peppercorn dressing on each bun half, arugula, the burger and top with bacon jam.

The Three Bite Rule - Birthday Burger with Bacon Jam & Parmesan Peppercorn

Enjoy!

I loved this combo. The bacon jam is complex – sweet and a tiny tang and the coffee and red wine adds some serious depth. The parm peppercorn dressing is so much better than the jar. I liked making a small amount – and will do so again another time – it would be delightful on a turkey sandwich!

The Three Bite Rule - Birthday Burger with Bacon Jam & Parmesan Peppercorn

The Historical Timeline of the Birthday Burgers:
2021 it was a Waffle Breakfast Burger with ground sausage in the patty, maple aoli, and melted gouda.
2020 it was a BLT burger with ground bacon IN the burger and tomato jam
2019 it was a Manchego Burger with manchego, quince jam, and arugula
2018 it was a Garlic Lovers Burger with garlic butter, chips, garlic aoli and white cheddar.
2017 it was an Ultimate Mexican Burger with queso, guac, and beans.
2016 it was a Mac & Cheese Stuffed Burger topped with bacon, onions, and tomato.
2015 it was a Picnic Burger with slaw & potato sticks
2014 it was a German Burger with horseradish, caramelized onions, pickles and a pretzel roll
2013 it was a Vermont Burger with maple mayo, cheddar, bacon, and spinach
2012 it was a Bacon Wrapped Burger – enough said
2011 it was a Stuffed Burger stuffed with bacon & cheddar or bacon & blue cheese

Pickle de Gallo

Pickle lovers unite! This idea is by Grillo’s Pickles, but I never see it sold in my stores so I made my own. Eat it like a dip, put it on a burger/dog and you’ll love it on a taco.

The Three Bite Rule - Pickle de Gallo

Pickle de Gallo
Ingredients: (as dip for ~4)

~3/4 cup dill pickles (~4-5 spears)
~3/4 cup sweet pickles (mine were bread & butter chips)
1/2 cup tomatoes
1/4 white onion
2 cups baby arugula (or a bunch of cilantro or parsley)
3 tablespoons vegetable oil
1/2 cup pickle juice (some dill & some sweet)

Directions:
Chop the pickles, tomatoes, onion, and greens/herbs.

The Three Bite Rule - Pickle de Gallo

Add it all to a bowl and stir in the oil and pickle juices. Stir well and refrigerate at least an hour.

The Three Bite Rule - Pickle de Gallo

Serve as dip or as a topping. Enjoy!

The Three Bite Rule - Pickle de Gallo

We put this on pulled pork tacos the first time and ate the rest with tortilla chips. I became obsessed and made it again serving it with crackers and another time with potato chips. It is so addicting. I love having bringing an offering that is vegetarian/dairy-free/gluten free (depending on your dipper) and fresh!

The mix of pickles is the key – it would be so strong with only dill pickles so definitely try it with both. I used greens for freshness (and once because cilantro is polarizing and I wasn’t sure if the group is into that). We all need more veggies, right?

It is flavorful and crunchy – make some and tell all the pickle puns. 😉



Peanut Sesame Noodles

{originally published in 2016 and updated in 2022}

Our fam will always eat pasta and this one is a crowd pleaser – and I love it for variety so pasta doesn’t always look one way. There are lots of recipes out there and I’m happy with the ratios now that I’ve made it 1,000 times. This is great warm or cold and for a very “pantry” dinner it is per-fect for those too-hot-to-be-creative or meals on a budget or what-the-heck-is-for-dinner meals. 

The Three Bite Rule - Peanut Sesame Noodles

Peanut Sesame Noodles:
Ingredients: (for 4)

1 pound spaghetti/fettuccine
3 tablespoons peanut butter
3 tablespoons soy sauce
2 tablespoons sesame oil
2 tablespoons honey
1 teaspoon rice vinegar
1 teaspoon minced ginger
1 teaspoon minced garlic
1 teaspoon sriracha
sesame seeds & green onion to garnish

Directions:
Boil salted water for the pasta.
Whisk together (or shake in a jar) peanut butter, soy sauce, sesame oil, honey, rice vinegar, ginger, garlic, and sriracha.

The Three Bite Rule - Peanut Sesame Noodles

Cook the pasta to al dente.
Mix most of the sauce into the pasta. Toss and add remaining sauce.
Top with green onions, sesame seeds and enjoy!

The Three Bite Rule - Peanut Sesame Noodles

It was mild but additive. Interesting but comforting. Silky but with a small crunch. Sometimes we have it with Trader Joe’s Potstickers or with edamame. I remember loving to see our little guy as a toddler slurping these and beaming with pride when the whole thing makes it into his mouth.

Salmon Cakes with Lemon Risotto

We love salmon but I had some not-great salmon from the grocery store that I really needed to use. The salmon from Costco is 100x better so this sub-par stuff seemed best suited to become a crispy cake with some powerful flavors like lemon and dijon.

The Three Bite Rule - Salmon Cake & Lemon Risotto

Swap the rice for any grain you like, just don’t forget the lemon. Swap the salmon for any flaky fish, crab, shrimp, or canned salmon/tuna. Add a drizzle of tahini, or dijon + mayo, or cracked peppercorn salad dressing.

Salmon Cakes and Lemon Risotto:
Ingredients: (for 2 dinner/3 lunch portions)

1/4 white or yellow onion
1 garlic clove, chopped
1 cup arborio rice
1 cup chicken broth
1/2 cup white wine
1/2 lemon
~6 oz salmon, chopped or forked apart
1 egg, whisked
1/3 cup panko breadcrumbs, toasted
2 tablespoons dijon
1 teaspoon garlic, minced
1/2 teaspoon seasoning (I used Zatar or TJ’s Mushroom Umami or Todd’s Dirt or Italian Seasoning)
3 tablespoons olive oil
1 tablespoon butter

Directions:
Prepare the risotto (in a pot for ~30 minutes, or I used the pressure cooker cooking for 6 minutes). Sauté the onion and garlic in butter and olive oil. Then add in the rice and broth/wine mix.

The Three Bite Rule - Salmon Cake & Lemon Risotto

Mix up the salmon, egg, panko, spices, salt and pepper.

The Three Bite Rule - Salmon Cake & Lemon Risotto

Stir well and preheat a pan with olive oil and butter.

The Three Bite Rule - Salmon Cake & Lemon Risotto

Form into patties and pan sear for ~4 minutes on each side, flipping just once. (I used silicone egg molds to keep them together while the first side cooked.) Once seared on each side, remove from oil onto paper towels.
When the risotto is cooked, remove from the heat, and juice half a lemon into it. Stir and spoon into 2 bowls.
Top each bowl with a salmon cake.

The Three Bite Rule - Salmon Cake & Lemon Risotto

I drizzled with a little lemon/dijon/mayo/peppercorn aoli and some chives.
Enjoy!

This is such a great meal. I would definitely order this kind of thing at a restaurant but having at home is so special but still easy. This absolutely is NOT a pack-for-work lunch, no fish is a work lunch. I froze a portion for another time. I have visions of getting home some night after baseball and getting the kids to bed and having something delicious to unearth from the freezer when cheez-its aren’t going to cut it.

The Three Bite Rule - Salmon Cake & Lemon Risotto

I wouldn’t put it past me to lightly dress some arugula and toss it on top, or some green beans, or some tomatoes to make this a fully balanced meal. 😉 I loved it.

May 2022 Recap

May has been a very full month. Lots of outside time, swimming, work events, birthday parties for kids, baseball games, and already pool time! World news is breaking my heart and it has also been a month of transition as daycare kept closing preschool and sent us looking for alternatives – guess how fun that is…

In the kitchen, we’re onto springy foods and faster meals.

My fav was this Mexican-inspired side dish with black beans, avocados, tomatoes, cheese, and a cilantro lime dressing. Loved it. This helped amp up taco night with a side that was a bit more special than just black beans, or just avocado.

The Three Bite Rule - Black Bean & Avocado Salad

For one of our apps-for-dinner nights I made some Lemon & Herb Deviled Eggs. They’re fresh tasting and filling and they hit the spot for variety amongst apps.

The Three Bite Rule - Lemon Herb Deviled Eggs

My passion for rice bowls runs deep- all the good bites with decadence (cheese & drizzles) with some fresh elements (greens! tomatoes!) and the filling aspects (veggie burger & brown rice). This burger rice bowl was a great lunch, it would pack well, and feels like a complete meal, all in a bowl!

The Three Bite Rule - Burger Bowl

June has me very excited for a weekend away, Mr. J’s birthday burger, and I have some strawberry and lemon aspirations.

The Little Girl:
She started a new preschool! I love how easy-going she is amongst changes in schedules. It is exciting for her. She is going to have a great swimming summer! Even in just 2 early pool times we’ve already seen how big she is, the confidence, and her willingness to try more than last year. It is very fun to see. I feel like she’s eating a bit more consistently and is loving cottage cheese and Ritz-Bits right now.

The Big Guy:
He’s having fun at baseball and overcame his hesitation for new environments for birthday parties this month – I’m really proud to see it. He is thrilled for shorts season. We’re glad he got some grandparent sleepovers and this season becomes being outside for all waking hours.

Goals:
Year of nail polish! I got a few Olive & June ones at once and this month was a coral one for April (this one)
More international food inspiration: Umm. Maybe not.
More soups/salads: this black bean & avocado salad!
More apps: Yes! Brie & Cranberry Cups!
More fun drinks: Not really, but tis the season for sangria and cocktails
Updating photos: Nope, not this month
What I’m reading: I’ve had a bit of a reading rut. I read Olga Dies Dreaming and looooved it. Then I read Beautiful Little Fools and was more into it than the OG Great Gatsby. I muscled through No One is Talking About This and I didn’t get it, do not recommend.
What I’m watching: Stanley Tucci’s Searching for Italy is back!!
What I’m listening to: ‘Sounds Like a Cult’ is my new fav podcast

Black Bean & Avocado Salad

This salad is perfectly served alongside tacos! It is flavorful, cool, and so so easy. I’m including a bunch of alternatives. We often have black beans or avocado on the side and this time was just a touch more special as a salad with dressing.

The Three Bite Rule - Black Bean & Avocado Salad

I loved it. I ended up scooping the remnants up with tortilla chips.

Black Bean & Avocado Salad
Ingredients: (side for ~4)

1 can black beans
1/2 avocado
1/4 cup cheese (cotija or feta)
2 tablespoons olive oil
1 teaspoon cilantro (chopped or from a tube or frozen cube)
1 teaspoon honey
lime juice from half a lime
salt & pepper

Directions:
Drain the black beans and add to a bowl with chopped avocado, chopped tomato, and cheese.

The Three Bite Rule - Black Bean & Avocado Salad

Then mix up the dressing – add olive oil, cilantro, honey, lime juice, salt and pepper and shake in a jar or whisk together in a bowl.

The Three Bite Rule - Black Bean & Avocado Salad

Add the dressing to the beans/avo/tomato and stir gently (too much stirring will mash up the avocado!).
Enjoy!

The Three Bite Rule - Black Bean & Avocado Salad

I loved this. Chopping everything smaller would make a good dip – or my littlest one put it inside her tortilla and ate it like a taco. Our bigger kid ate the avocado and tomatoes out of it but was more into the tacos.

Substitute the tomatoes for corn, or red onion, or bell peppers, or whatever you like! Skip the cheese if you need it dairy-free. The avocado means it can’t quite be made in advance but everything else could be ready and add the avocado before serving.

Lemon Herb Deviled Eggs

It has been a minute since I made some deviled eggs! These beauties are so springy with lemon and herbs.

The Three Bite Rule - Lemon Herb Deviled Eggs

Lemon & Herb Deviled Eggs
Ingredients: (for ~6 servings)

6 eggs
2 tablespoons mayo
1 tablespoon yellow mustard
2 teaspoons lemon juice (half a lemon)
~4 chives
1/2 teaspoon dried oregano
salt & pepper

Directions:
Hard boil and cool the eggs, then peal them.
Slice them in half and pop the yolks into a bowl.
Chop the chives.
Add in the mayo, mustard, lemon juice, chives, oregano, salt and pepper.

The Three Bite Rule - Lemon Herb Deviled Eggs

Mash and mix well, beat with a hand mixer or stir and blend in a food processor.
Set up a zip-top bag to sand upright into a heavy drinking glass. Then spoon the filling into the bag.
Plate the egg halves, snip a bottom corner off the bag and pipe the filling into each one – fill each just to the top of each well, then go back and add a swirl to the top to ensure each has enough filling.
Sprinkle remaining chives and grate some lemon zest over the top. (I lost one half in the pealing process – RIP, it couldn’t be saved).

The Three Bite Rule - Lemon Herb Deviled Eggs

Enjoy!

The Three Bite Rule - Lemon Herb Deviled Eggs

I loved these! They were definitely lemony (only too much according to the 7-year-old but don’t trust his palate, he loves sour candies so I’m not sure what he’s talking about). He ate one half quickly and had thoughts about another one. The little girl dipped her cheese and crackers into the filling of her deviled egg a few times then ate the egg white.

I’ll definitely repeat. I’m envisioning the summer when we have herbs growing in the garden out of control! I had chives but the other fresh herbs that are ready was sage & mint – either of those would be weird. I don’t care about parsley but go for it. Fresh oregano and thyme would be my other picks!

We had these with an appetizer dinner and I love that they’re easy to just make a few and have no leftovers. Leftovers are fine for these but if I did have leftovers, I’d chop them and serve it on toast for a savory breakfast or into a pita for lunch!

Burger Rice Bowls

A burger in a quick & packable form! I made these rice bowls as an easy meal and froze another portion to grab for lunch or to eat quickly on a busy night on the baseball sidelines.

Think of a burger on a bed of bacon rice topped with cheese, pickles, greens, tomatoes, and a final drizzle of special sauce and ketchup. It is perfectly scoop-able, filling, and nutritious.

The Three Bite Rule - Burger Bowl

Burger Rice Bowls
Ingredients: (for 2 servings)

1 1/2 cup brown rice prepared
2 tablespoons bacon bits
2 veggie burgers (or any patty)
2 slices white cheddar cheese
1 cup cherry or grape tomatoes
1-2 cups baby arugula
2 teaspoons mayo
4 teaspoons ketchup
dash of garlic powder
pepper

Directions:
Cook the rice and stir in the bacon bits.
Pan fry (or grill) the burgers and top with cheese.
While the burgers are cooking, chop the tomatoes, arugula, and pickles.

The Three Bite Rule - Burger Bowl

Let the rice and burgers cool a few minutes.
Mix up the special sauce: 2 teaspoons ketchup with the mayo, garlic powder, and pepper.
Assemble with rice on the bottom, topped with burgers, cheese, greens, tomatoes, and pickles.

The Three Bite Rule - Burger Bowl

Drizzle with special sauce and ketchup and sesame seeds.
Enjoy!

I loved these! It gives you all the flavors you want from a burger – just with a fork. I love a bun but serving this on rice is actually easier to pack and eat in a hurry than as a burger. It wouldn’t replace a traditional burger for me, but I also wouldn’t pack a burger to be a work lunch.

The Three Bite Rule - Burger Bowl

The bacon brown rice is delicious. I used a veggie burger topped with white cheddar (but could be any burger or portabella cap) and the bowl gets all the burger toppings I had on hand. It was great. For me it is much more filling than as a salad, but you-do-you!

I scooped another serving of rice and chopped another veggie burger and froze it for a later date. One morning I’ll be so grateful to pull it out of the freezer, throw on some greens, veggies, pickles and some ketchup/mustard/mayo dressing on the side. When it is time to eat, I flip the non-cooked parts onto the lid, then I warm the rice & burger and pile on the raw veggies and a drizzle. It is just what I need mid-day – something delicious, nutritious, and appealing.

April 2022 Recap

April is going out with a bang – this last stretch of the month is so busy and full. The little guy just had a fun school vacation with a visit from the teen nephews, playing with the grandparents, and also some time home while we worked. Double duty is tiring. He’s starting baseball too. Work has so many things coming up – virtual and in-person events and then the timing of hitting deadlines and a lot to happen in prep for May & June ending Q4.

My favorite favorite food from the kitchen this month was these better-than-average Eggplant Parm Subs with fresh mozz and dressed arugula. So good.

The Three Bite Rule - Eggplant Parm Subs

I started an occasional apps for dinner theme, kicked off with cranberry & brie phyllo cups They couldn’t be easier and I included a whole bunch of alternatives and uses for leftovers. We did apps-as-dinner again on Easter after hosting brunch. It is also a great excuse to have lots of great cheese around.

The Three Bite Rule - Cranberry Brie Cups

Lastly I “made” some Mocha Cinnamon Rolls for a fun but ohh so easy breakfast.

The Three Bite Rule - Mocha Cinnamon Rolls

May will definitely have some quick meals between baseball practices and nights we’d rather have after-work-playground time. Early spring flavors make me think of lemon and warm-and-cool.

The Little Girl:
She is happy for bike rides and is looking forward to baseball spectating. Daily she envisions the beach trip. She’s definitely having her 3-year-old moments of resisting and digging her heels in. She never wants to take a bathroom break. She was a bit scarred from an Easter Egg event when it rained, then hailed, then was sunny, then rain, then hail. We raced to the car for the second round and she was not impressed. Meals have been a bit smoother.

The Big Guy:
He was thrilled to play nerf with the teen cousins. His fav home lunch is always always always peanut butter and nutella. He still loves hardboiled eggs. I love seeing him being so strong and confident on his bike. He had chosen his scooter over the bike for awhile but he’s got his confidence and I’m proud to see it.

Goals:
Year of nail polish! I got a few Olive & June ones at once but opened up a purpley one for April (this one)
More international food inspiration: Umm. Maybe not.
More soups/salads: not really
More apps: Yes! Brie & Cranberry Cups!
More fun drinks: I’m obsessed with this lemon loaf tea
Updating photos: Nope, not this month
What I’m reading: I read Taste: My Life Through Food by Stanley Tucci, and Greenwich Park which was a little mystery, then I listened to An Ugly Truth: Inside Facebook’s Battle for Domination, and I read The Maid which seemed like a caricature for neurodivergence and was a bit obvious.
What I’m watching: I’m months behind but catching up on a Million Little Things.
What I’m listening to: 

Mocha Cinnamon Rolls

Breakfast upgrade with very minimal effort. I don’t mess with dough – especially first thing in the morning and a few touches made for a fun breakfast.

The Three Bite Rule - Mocha Cinnamon Rolls

Mocha Cinnamon Rolls:
Ingredients:

1 roll cinnamon rolls (with frosting)
1/4 cup chocolate chips
1 espresso shot (or 1-2 oz very strong instant coffee) cooled

Directions:
Separate out the cinnamon rolls into a baking pan sprayed with non-stick spray. Push the chocolate chips into the cinnamon coiled parts.

The Three Bite Rule - Mocha Cinnamon Rolls

Bake according to the package.
While the rolls are baking, Mix the espresso into the frosting.
Spread the frosting onto the baked rolls.

The Three Bite Rule - Mocha Cinnamon Rolls

Enjoy!

These were fun. I mixed up a double-y strong few tablespoons of instant coffee. It worked so well. Also, next time I’d go for full frosting- instead of the glaze that comes with it. That would be even better!