October 2021 Recap

October has been a whirlwind! Work has been super busy- pandemic alumni weekend and family weekend events are no joke- and our weekends have some more other things keeping us a bit busier than recent times as we do all the things outside! I’m grateful for some normalcy for tiny things like daycare painted pumpkins and leaf pile play. October was good in the kitchen too – just some of those days of: hmm. I planned soup but it is almost 80-degrees…

We made this super fun hot dog pizza that not all followers said they would try, but we thought was good and probably once-a-year fun:

The Three Bite Rule - Hot Dog Pizza

Then I did a chicken, bacon, ranch burrito that is just perfect. It feels filling from the brown rice and chicken then melty cheddar makes it burrito-y and of course there is ranch dressing and bacon for that perfect pairing, and some greens for freshness. So good. I froze some and already wish there were more stashed away. Make some now and you’ll thank me later on a busy weeknight. I defrost in the micro and toast in the toaster oven to finish for a much better packed lunch.

The Three Bite Rule - Chicken Bacon Ranch Burrito

Then I gave the Parisian Burger some photo updates from the original one in 2014. I had made it a bunch to practice the cooking competition timing and wasn’t interested in making it again anytime soon – and perhaps I was bitter that I didn’t take home the big prize.

The Three Bite Rule - Parisian Burger

Next month I have a side dish that was a winner once and neither of the kids cared the second time – so take that for what it is worth. Then I’ll blog a fun dinner that the kids gobble up and my blogaversary where I’ll set some new goals and declare some superlatives from the year.

The Little Girl
Her imagination is coming alive and I love the reasoning behind her made up play- from what dolls are doing to what she pretends in the leaf pile, it is too cute. She’s totally protested eating dinner a few times which I think it just the authority of being 3 years old. She loves pasta and can eat her weight in pizza. I was surprised that she was into sesame oil/rice vinegar cucumber salad one night. She’s excited for halloween but doesn’t remember trick or treating. That will make it even more exciting! Last year we didn’t go and the kids wore costumes and found candy hidden around the basement – a la easter egg hunt. Before that she was 1 1/2 so trick or treating was more of a spectator sport in the stroller for her.

The Big Guy:
Soccer is going well and he’s quite happy going to school and being home in the afternoons or whatever. He’s gotten better at communicating what he wants (or doesn’t want) his little sister to do. He looooves the leaf pile. His very fav fig bars were back at Costco which makes breakfast decisions so much faster. He lost his 2 front teeth! It is so so cute. He saved some dollars and picked out a few new hotwheels cars. Pokemon card trading is big time with the first graders at his school.

Goals:
Year of the fun mail! I thought of a card to get out just at the end of Oct!
More breakfasts: nope
Lunches coordinated or prepped in advance: I made a quiche and some burritos for the freezer which was helpful.
I’d like to get the house a bit neater: I’ve been clearing some surfaces, nothing major.
Bullet journal – yup, keeping a meals list.
What I’m reading: I read Know My Name for bookclub and looooved it – let’s get Chanel Miller famous for her writing instead of Brock Turner who got off easy for being a white male. I read Meet Me in Bombay and really flew through the story. I was “ehhh” on Things We Lost to Water.
What I’m Watching: Instead of MLB playoffs, I watched a CNN docuseries on Diana. I also devoured LulaRich and was fascinated! That one is a must-watch.

Parisian Burger

{originally published in 2014 and updated in 2021}

Ohh my goodness. This might have been one of my best burgers yet. Seriously. This burger itself packs some seriously sophisticated flavor with dijon and rosemary, and then the toppings just perfect it with truffle mayo & egg yolk. Peek down to the bottom for the award winning-ness of it. We ate it a bunch while I practiced and finally got around to updating the post.

The Three Bite Rule - Parisian Burger

Parisian Burgers with Truffle Mayo & Topped with an egg
Ingredients: (for 4 burgers)
1 pound ground pork
1 tsp fresh rosemary, chopped
1-2 tsp minced garlic
1 tsp dijon mustard
4 slices of swiss
4 rolls
4 eggs
3 tbs mayo
1 tsp truffle oil/truffle butter

Directions:
Preheat grill.
Mix together ground pork, rosemary, garlic, and mustard.

The Three Bite Rule - Parisian Burger

Gently form into patties sprinkling with salt & pepper on each side.

Grill until chicken is cooked through- at least 160 degrees. Top with cheese to melt.
Mix together mayo, truffle oil, salt & pepper.
Heat a skillet to medium high heat when the burgers are almost cooked.
Reduce pan to medium heat, and fry the eggs.
Cover the eggs with small pot lids to cook the white through, keeping the yolk intact, cooking for about 4 minutes.
Lay arugula onto the bottom bun, top with the burger, then add the fried egg, and spread truffle mayo onto the top bun.

Ooo la la. This was so good. The garlic and rosemary in the burger makes it really flavorful. I loooove peppery arugula. The yolk acts like a condiment. I almost did truffle ketchup which would also be good for some acidity. The decadence of this burger was not lost on us. Every flavor is rich, powerful, and spot-on.

The Three Bite Rule - Parisian Burger

This is one for the record books- speaking of….

I entered it into a burger competition – and won the regional division! It was hosted by a wine label to pair your burger with a wine. I thought maybe I could get some wine out of it.

The Three Bite Rule - Insta


That brought me to Napa Valley for the national final round: I didn’t win the $25K prize, but it was so fun and included a great wine pairing dinner the day before and the trip was awesome.

The Three Bite Rule - Build a Better Burger Finals

Chicken, Bacon & Ranch Burrito

What happens when you cross a wrap with a burrito? You get the flavors of a sandwich mixed with the textures you love from a burrito. There’s freshness from the greens, some decadence with the ranch and bacon and warm rice and cheese inside turns it into a burrito, plus the whole thing gets griddled. These freeze well and are ideal for lunch or a dinner on the go.

The Three Bite Rule - Chicken Bacon Ranch Burrito

Chicken, Bacon & Ranch Burrito
Ingredients (for 2)

1 chicken thigh or breast or 2 tenders grilled or ~1 cup shredded rotisserie chicken
1 cup brown rice, cooked according to package (mine was leftover but originally in the pressure cooker with chicken broth).
1/4 cup crumbled bacon (~3 strips)
1/2 cup shredded cheddar
4 tablespoons ranch dressing
1/2 teaspoon ranch dressing powder mix
2 cups greens (baby arugula or spinach)
2 tortillas

Directions:
Chop the chicken and bacon and lightly warm the torillas for better flexibility.

The Three Bite Rule - Chicken Bacon Ranch Burrito

Lay the tortillas down and spread ~1 tablespoon of ranch dressing onto each one. Then layer onto each one with the rice, cheese, bacon, sprinkle on the dry dressing mix, chicken, greens, and remaining dressing.

The Three Bite Rule - Chicken Bacon Ranch Burrito

Warm a skillet to medium heat and roll up the burritos. (I fold the sides in, then keep those inward with my pinkys while using the rest of each hand to roll the whole thing away from me, tucking the sides in as I go.)

If freezing: individually wrap in plastic, label and freeze. Defrost in the fridge overnight or defrost in the microwave over low heat and pan fry or finish in a toaster oven to crisp the outside a bit.

Toothpick them closed before pan frying them if you wish! Put them in seam side down and use a cover or tongs to keep them from unrolling while pan frying them to get golden, crisp, and melting the cheese inside. Turn to warm each side.
Enjoy!

The Three Bite Rule - Chicken Bacon Ranch Burrito

I loved these! It not only has some of my fav flavors but the rice in there really gives a good twist and makes it wayyy better than an everyday sandwich. It also uses up just a bit of leftover rice & chicken.

I rarely remember to defrost over night but our home microwave has the best defrost I’ve ever used so I’d do that – or maybe work lunch hangs out in your bag before heating? A whole bunch could go into the oven if feeding a crowd.

Skip the bacon and swap ranch for creamy caesar for a caesar salad burrito. Or go spicy for a buffalo chicken burrito! Basically the rice + any cheese + chicken + any dressing will change the vibe and I’m here for it.

Hot Diggity Dog Pizza

Get ready for this. We put hot dogs onto pizza, swirled it with ketchup and mustard, and it was SO FUN!

The Three Bite Rule - Hot Dog Pizza

This is in the “special” pizza category – we make pizzas often and have 2 or 3 pizzas at a time so this was fun AND we had some more traditional ones because: balance.

Hot Diggity Pizza
Ingredients: (for 1 small, 14″ pizza)

1/2 pizza dough (to room temperature)
1/4 cup tomato sauce (or crushed tomatoes)
3/4 cup shredded cheddar cheese
1-2 hot dogs, sliced into thin coins
2 tablespoons ketchup
2 tablespoons mustard

Directions:
Preheat a pizza oven or pizza stone.
Spread or roll out dough and top with tomato sauce, cheese, and hot dogs.

The Three Bite Rule - Hot Dog Pizza

Bake/broil until crust browns and hot dogs crisp (in our pizza oven that’s ~90 seconds, in a kitchen oven it would be ~20 minutes).
Drizzle with ketchup and mustard and enjoy!

The Three Bite Rule - Hot Dog Pizza

This was really fun. I probably wouldn’t make it all the time but it feels enjoyable on occasion, amongst a bunch of pizzas, and for that pesky hotdog package doesn’t match roll quantity conundrum.

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.

Goals:
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

Directions:
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.
Enjoy!

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)

Directions:
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.
Enjoy!

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
arugula

Directions:
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.
Enjoy!

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!

August 2021 Recap

Howwwww is summer ending? Wayy back in the late spring, we cobbled together a mix of summer camps for when Kindergarten let out and got a schedule together of grandparent care for the little one. Now we’re getting ready for back to school! We did all the summer things – as I post from our beach vacay.

Summer was hard with changes at work, some good camps – another not-so-good. The pup has consistently not been 100% and I just ordered more masks because somehow we’re still going through this. August was a good month in the kitchen though!

I made these lemonade pancakes with strawberry and LOVED them! Blueberry would be good too!

The Three Bite Rule - Lemonade Pancakes

Then we made a Crab Rangoon Pizza that was fantastic but was hit or miss with you all! Crab filling, a cream cheese sauce, crispy wontons and duck sauce! What’s not to love?

The Three Bite Rule - Crab Rangoon Pizza

For a super quick dinner we made crispy chicken sandwiches with peach topping. The chicken tender makes it decadant and a crowd pleaser, the fresh arugula is quite optional, and the peach topping? relish? compote? whatever you want to call it, is delicious. It is only a tiny bit sweet from the peach – the oil/vinegar, the tomatoes, and the onions keep it really on the savory side. The kiddos ate it just like this too.

The Three Bite Rule - Crispy Chicken Sandwich with Peach

I’m not sure what September has in store – our refrigerator is at a questionably working state. We’re awaiting a part because we don’t love the replacement options. It is annoying.

The Little Girl
She started back to daycare a few days a week and loves it! We are so proud of how grown up she is getting! She loves corn on the cob and ice cream. We are seriously impressed by her coloring. Her birthday was fun! We swam, had a cake decorated like crayons, and grilled. She loved it!

The Big Guy:
He is really into the Magic Treehouse Books and will listen endlessly. It is so fun to see what he chooses at the library- a lot of Lego ones, all the super heros, and non-fiction. I’m so glad to be done with camps – the last one wasn’t a fit and it is heartbreaking to feel unsure how it is going. He doesn’t complain which doesn’t make it better – we don’t get much from him so it is hard to support him. We think he must be growing! We are psyched for first grade though it is a new school, the bus, and a new routine.

Goals:
Year of the fun mail! I think I missed it in Aug.
More breakfasts: Lemonade Pancakes!
Lunches coordinated or prepped in advance: I need to get back on it.
I’d like to get the house a bit neater: 
Bullet journal – still keeping a meals list.
What I’m reading: I read the Firekeeper’s Daughter thought it was page turning and so well crafted then I read Crying in H Mart which was an interesting perspective I don’t know relate to and then I read People We Meet on Vacation which wasn’t great for me – another title I’ve read of hers was much more my vibe and Delicious! was a fun one – especially as a work of fiction from a usual restaurant critic.
What I’m Watching: Back to a few after Olympics took over our lives.

Crispy Chicken Sandwich with Peach Topping

Sandwiches are the easiest dinner and was a hit for all of us! The kids were into it and I never expect everyone to like everything all the time. These were a good example of putting elements together the kids already know into a new combo. I thought they might dismantle and eat separately but they ate it as is- just less arugula!

The Three Bite Rule - Crispy Chicken Sandwich with Peach

Crispy Chicken Sandwich with Peach Topping
Ingredients: (for 4)

1 peach or nectarine
1 slice onion
1/2 tomato
1 green onion
1/2 teaspoon apple cider vinegar
1/2 teaspoon olive oil
~6 breaded chicken fingers
4 sub rolls
1 cup arugula
4 tablespoons honey mustard dressing

Directions:
Chop the peach, onion, tomato, green onion, vinegar, and oil. Stir well and refrigerate until serving.

The Three Bite Rule - Crispy Chicken Sandwich with Peach

Bake or air fry the chicken pieces until cooked through.
Assemble the sandwiches by lightly toasting the rolls, spreading honey mustard on, then adding the arugula, chicken and lastly the peach topping.
Enjoy!

The Three Bite Rule - Crispy Chicken Sandwich with Peach

I loved this! It was so fun and a great use for rolls we had from a sausage & peppers night and there’s always chicken kicking around here.

Add some avocado to the topping (mine weren’t ripe!) cheese would be good too!

The peach topping is so good- it is sweet and tart. Put it on a burger with smoked gouda! Put it on some fish tacos! Add it to a grain salad with avocado and pistachios! Use it to upgrade your turkey sandwich!