September 2021 Recap

I love September though this one was a bit of a rollercoaster! There were some real highs: our 10th wedding anniversary! T started 1st grade! The lows were all the Covid cases in first grade and quarantining…2x and going remote and postponing other fun things. We’re wrapping up the month quarantined – again. This time the entire class was sent home. Are we done yet???! I’m psyched for October and Halloween!

This month was a good one in the kitchen! I love love loved this French Onion Soup Burger. All that melty cheese in the middle and on top!

The Three Bite Rule - French Onion Soup Burger

I am also ready for fall so I whipped up a pasta with some fall flavors into a pasta – it has sausage, butternut squash, smoked gouda, sage, and a light brothy sauce.

The Three Bite Rule - Sausage & Squash Fall Pasta

I took flavors we love: pesto chicken, tomato, fresh mozzarella and turned them into a sandwich. This was delicious – especially since the kids love pesto on pasta so I like them seeing it in other ways.

The Three Bite Rule - Pulled Pesto Chicken Sandwiches

Oct will have some fun ones. Wait till you see this pizza coming up! I have an old post to give a face-lift and some fun ones. Work is full force – especially for September and October.

The Little Girl
She loves being back to daycare and having grandparent days! Her favorite things to do are playing outside and playing games that her big brother makes up for them! Her fav foods are pb and cheese. I get a kick out of giving her something, like an egg, when she resists, then eats it and says “Ohh I loooove eggs”. She likes tasting all the ingredients.

The Big Guy:
School started well and he loved the bus. I wish we heard more from him. It is hard to tell how he feels about anything. I try not to pepper questions and lately have had some luck with: what surprised you today? what do you wish didn’t happen today? what made you laugh today? what was delicious today? what felt hard today? etc. only asking a few. He’s playing soccer and despite having to miss some, so far so good! He loves school lunch, hard boiled eggs, and all the pasta.

Year of the fun mail! I thanked the teacher & principal for a little preview we got from the playground to ease the first day.
More breakfasts: ehh. not really
Lunches coordinated or prepped in advance: Having the standby of turkey/cheese/arugula is helpful!
I’d like to get the house a bit neater:
Bullet journal – yup, keeping a meals list.
What I’m reading: I read Malibu Rising and worried since it was so hyped but I loved it (though the author’s Seven Husbands of Evelyn Hugo is still the best)! For bookclub, we read This is How it Always is and it might be the best one I read all year. Next was Dear White Peacemakers and really appreciated it. Then I read Share Your Stuff, I’ll Go First – it was ok.
What I’m Watching: I got all caught up on Million Little Things awaiting the return. We watched a few movies with the kids: Toy Story 2 & Rio 2 & Jungle Book.

Sausage and Butternut Squash Fall Pasta

This was perfectly fall flavored! I loved the lightness of it – it has a light broth in place as a sauce but more sauce might be a hit too. The pasta drinks some up so it was juicy but not saucy. I used thick elbow pasta, roasted butternut squash, sausage, sage, and smoked gouda.

The Three Bite Rule - Sausage & Squash Fall Pasta

Sausage & Butternut Squash Fall Pasta
Ingredients: (serves 5-6)

1 pound pasta (big shells, rigatoni, penne, or other short pasta)
3 links sweet Italian sausage
1/2 butternut squash, diced
2 cups chicken or veggie broth
2 tablespoons tomato paste (or 1 cup crushed tomatoes & 1/2 cup half and half for more sauce)
2 tablespoons butter
1/2 teaspoon cracked pepper
4 oz smoked gouda, grated or chopped
~4 sage leaves

Air-fry or roast the butternut squash at 400-degrees for ~20 minutes.
Boil salted water for the pasta.
Remove the sausage from the casing and pan fry it in chunks until cooked through. Drain and discard excess oil, and move cooked sausage onto paper towels.
Cook the pasta to al dente.
Add broth, tomato, butter, and pepper into the sausage pan to deglaze and bring to a boil for a few minutes.
For less sauce: Let it lightly boil to reduce it for ~5 minutes.
For more sauce: reduce temperature and add in the crushed tomatoes and half and half.
Add in the pasta, sausage, and cheese and toss well to coat. Then add in the squash, and sage and very gently mix.

The Three Bite Rule - Sausage & Squash Fall Pasta

I was into it! I loved the gouda melting alongside the sausage and sweet squash and just a tiny bit of sage was nice for fall and not too heavy since we’re still having feels-like-summer moments!

We have sage growing like crazy but for me, a little goes a long way so I went light on that. Spinach would be great in there too. The butternut squash could swap for zucchini or summer squash instead if those are on hand.

Pulled Pesto Chicken & Caprese Sandwiches

These started with lots of our favorite flavors and ingredients – basil pesto! mozzarella! tomatoes! We are into a new groove with more in-person routines and special sandwiches make fast dinners – especially in September with some summer temps and some feelings of fall. Most of this can prep in advance and to make as sliders or full-sized sandwiches.

The Three Bite Rule - Pulled Pesto Chicken Sandwiches

I loved these! Admittedly – the kids weren’t wow-ed. They ate all the elements but didn’t care about them being together. Not every meal will be everyone’s favorite so I feel like they were still a winner if the kiddos were reminded that their beloved pesto doesn’t only show up on pasta.

Pulled Pesto Chicken & Caprese Sandwiches
Ingredients: (for 4 sandwiches or 8 sliders)

2 chicken thighs or breasts or rotisserie chicken
2 tablespoons basil pesto
4 rolls or 8 slider rolls
1/2 tomato
1/2 ball of fresh mozzarella
3 tablespoons creamy caesar dressing or garlic aoli or balsamic reduction drizzle (optional)

Cook the chicken and when fully cooked through, pull it apart with 2 forks and mix in the pesto.
Toast the rolls (optional).
Slice the tomato and mozzarella.

The Three Bite Rule - Pulled Pesto Chicken Sandwiches

Spread the rolls with dressing or spread if using it.
Assemble the sandwiches with tomato, chicken, and mozzarella.

The Three Bite Rule - Pulled Pesto Chicken Sandwiches

I had some sourdough rolls and some slider rolls and we had it with caesar salad which the first grader loves to “make”.

These flavors work so well together and I appreciate that a smaller amount of chicken goes further for sandwiches like this, versus serving whole cuts of chicken per person.

I’d eat these as little appetizer crostini or as wraps or grilled into a panini too! I threw some of the leftover pesto pulled chicken on top of some pasta to pack for lunch or it would be fine to freeze too!

French Onion Soup Burger

We got our new fridge and no longer have to live out of a dorm-sized fridge so the sky’s the limit for meals! I made this French Onion Soup Burger just in time for Labor Day weekend. Caramelized onions and really good cheese made these special but quite easy.

The Three Bite Rule - French Onion Soup Burger

French Onion Soup Burgers
Ingredients: (for 4)

1/2 onion
1 tablespoon butter
~1 1/2 pounds ground pork
1/2 packet Onion Soup mix (uses for leftovers at the end!)
sprinkle of salt & pepper
gruyere or fontina or other melting cheese
onion rolls

Caramelize the onions by slicing and sautéing over low heat with butter and a drizzle of olive oil for ~20-30 minutes until golden brown and soft. (I did a whole onion and froze the rest for another time. This can be done in advance up to a week in the fridge or 6+ months in the freezer)
Preheat the grill.
Mix together the ground pork with the soup mix, salt, and pepper. Slice the cheese and the rolls.

The Three Bite Rule - French Onion Soup Burger

Form the meat into patties and stuff with some cheese. Either divide each patty with half on the bottom some cheese and the remaining to cover the cheese OR ball the meat to form a well in the middle to add the cheese, then press the meat around it to cover the cheese.
Grill the burgers until cooked through (pork needs to get to 160-degrees on a meat thermometer). Add more cheese on top at the end to melt.
Assemble the burgers with onions on top of the burger and cheese, and arugula.

The Three Bite Rule - French Onion Soup Burger

These were great! The patties were so flavorful and cheesy. The kids split a burger – one asked if there were any without onions, but ate it anyway. Next time I might even put more caramelized onions into the burgers too!

Leftover caramelized onions freeze well and I’m sure these will go into a quiche or onto a pizza or into a panini. They will also liven up even a turkey melt so I never bother to make just a tiny bit.

Leftover onion soup mix is great in any burger or meatloaf. Some sprinkled onto the outside of the patty would amp up the flavor even more. Use it into any other soup, like white bean, sausage & kale soup, or French Onion Deviled Eggs are so fun and only uses a bit too!