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.

Pasta with Shrimp & Blistered Tomatoes

Pasta is a weekly must-have at our house and most often we rotate between a few basics like tomato sauce, pesto, alfredo, meatballs and we change up noodles, tortellini, or the occasional lasagna. This was a bit different and I did a shrimp or chicken topping option (I’m the only one who likes shrimp at the moment).

The Three Bite Rule - Shrimp Pasta with Blistered Tomatoes

The tomatoes burst and provide some sauce and the touch of cream and olive oil made it quick and light! Swap the protein for scallops or bacon or sausage or whatever you like!

Pasta with Blistered Tomatoes & Shrimp or Chicken
Ingredients: (for 5-6 servings)

1 pound linguine pasta
1 pint cherry or grape tomatoes
1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
3 tablespoons heavy cream
2 tablespoons butter
shrimp (pealed, deveined large shrimp) and/or roasted chicken (pealed, chopped)
1 tablespoon mixed herb seasoning (Todd’s Dirt is our fav, or Italian Seasoning, or Oregano + Garlic Powder)

The Three Bite Rule - Shrimp Pasta with Blistered Tomatoes

Directions:
Bring salted water to boil and cook the pasta.
In a skillet over medium heat, cook the tomatoes in a drizzle of olive oil and salt. Give them a shake every few minutes – it will take ~5 minutes to pop and release some juice.
When the pasta is mostly cooked (~2 minutes less than the package instructs), drain it reserving a little pasta water and return the pasta to the pot. Add the butter, and cream in, plus a splash of pasta water (start with a few tablespoons) and toss together, then add the tomatoes in and continue to cook over low heat. Add more pasta water if needed.

The Three Bite Rule - Shrimp Pasta with Blistered Tomatoes

In the skillet used for the tomatoes, add another drizzle of olive oil in and bring to medium-low heat. Add the shrimp in the pan and sprinkle with herbs. Cook for just a minute or two on each side to turn pink but remain a C shape not an O shape. Remove from the heat promptly to avoid overcooking. (I did some chicken and some shrimp.)
Serve the pasta with chicken or shrimp on top and one last drizzle of olive oil.
Enjoy!

The Three Bite Rule - Shrimp Pasta with Blistered Tomatoes

I always need a bit more sauce than I think so keep that pasta water or a splash of broth or more cream. The kids wouldn’t necessarily request this one, but everyone ate enough and I got to have shrimp so, win-win!

French Onion Manicotti

French onion soup meets stuffed manicotti! It would have been stuffed shells but they were MIA at the grocery store. These were fun! I caramelized onions, added french onion soup mix to the ricotta filling, and topped it with an onion sauce with optional mushrooms. I’m the mushroom fan, and the rest of the family had without.

The Three Bite Rule - French Onion Manicotti

French Onion Manicotti (or stuffed shells)
Ingredients (for ~5 servings)

1 onion
2 tablespoons butter
1 package manicotti (or jumbo shells)
16 oz ricotta cheese
1 packet of french onion soup mix
1 pint of mushrooms
1 cup veggie broth or golden mushroom soup
2 tablespoons worcestershire sauce
1/2 cup milk or half and half
1 cup shredded mozzarella

Directions:
Slice the onion and cook in a large skillet over medium-low heat with olive oil and butter, stir often and reduce heat once the onions are translucent. Cook for ~30 minutes until caramelized, soft, and brown.
Boil a large pot of salted water for the pasta. Cook until al dente and drain.
Mix half the onion soup mix into the ricotta.

The Three Bite Rule - French Onion Manicotti

Slice the mushrooms. Cook in a hot pan with olive oil and butter – not stirring, let them brown on one side and flip once.
Preheat the oven to 350-degrees and spray a baking dish with non-stick spray.
Warm veggie broth, worcestershire sauce, and remaining onion soup mix over low heat. Cook for ~10 minutes to cook the soup mix. Then and add in the milk/cream and cook for another 5 minutes.
Spoon the ricotta into a zip-top bag (tip: put around a tall drinking glass with one bottom corner pointed down). Then snip the bottom corner and pipe into each end of the manicotti to fill. Place into the baking dish.
Top with caramelized onions and mushrooms.

The Three Bite Rule - French Onion Manicotti

Spoon 1/2 to 1 cup of sauce over the top. Sprinkle with shredded cheese.
Bake for 40 minutes until warmed through and the cheese melts.
Enjoy!

The Three Bite Rule - French Onion Manicotti

I liked this one! I wouldn’t make it alllll the time, but it had good flavor and was fun for variety. I rarely make manicotti but they’re so good and piping in from a bag was great – I’d be pulling my hair out if spooning it in!

If mushrooms/onions aren’t your thing:
Make with pesto & sausage (here)!
Make like chicken parm (here)!
Make with butternut squash & alfredo (here)!
Make with spinach & cheese (here)!

The Three Bite Rule - French Onion Manicotti

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.

Buffalo Chicken Pasta Salad

Such a fun way to have buffalo chicken and there’s lots of ways to customize yourself! I went mild on the spicy scale and below are lots of swaps to up the veggies.

The Three Bite Rule - Buffalo Chicken Pasta Salad

Buffalo Chicken Pasta Salad
Ingredients: (for 2 meals, or 4 sides)

2 cups pasta
2 breaded chicken tenders
2 cups arugula
1 tablespoon hot sauce
3 tablespoons blue cheese or ranch dressing

Directions:
Cook the pasta and the chicken and let cool to room temperature.
Chop the arugula.
Whisk together the dressing and hot sauce.

The Three Bite Rule - Buffalo Chicken Pasta Salad

Mix together the pasta, arugula and dressing. Then add in the chopped chicken just before serving.
Enjoy!

The Three Bite Rule - Buffalo Chicken Pasta Salad

Go as spicy as you like! I like minimal but you could really go for it by tossing the chicken in buffalo sauce AND making the buffalo dressing! To go super mild, the hot sauce could be totally separate and sprinkled on per serving.

To make in advance, keep the chicken separate but the rest could be mixed ahead of time. Greens get a little wilty but a few hours lead time would work, or mix the pasta & the dressing and add in the chicken and veggies before serving.

While I was into the simplicity of it but more veggies would be great. Cucumbers and bell peppers would be awesome. I detest celery but that’s a natural fit and maybe chunks of carrots.

Ravioli with Brown Butter, Corn & Sage

Fall coziness brought to you by way of 4-5 ingredients! I loved that this one not being too heavy since we’ve had some 70-80 degree days lately plus, fall flavors don’t have to mean pumpkin!

The Three Bite Rule - Ravioli with Brown Butter, Sage & Corn

This comes together soooo fast – the longest part is waiting for the water to boil!

Ravioli with Brown Butter, Corn & Sage
Ingredients: (for 4 servings)

6 tablespoons butter (real butter, not margarine/substitute)
24 oz package cheese ravioli, frozen
1 cup corn
4-5 sage leaves, fresh
grated parmesan

Directions:
Bring a big pot of salted water to a boil.
In a large skillet or pan, melt the butter over medium low heat.
Add the ravioli into the water and cook for about 5-minutes, or as the package instructs.
When the butter bubbles and foams up, carefully keep stirring. The butter browns quickly and gives off a nutty flavor. (Don’t let it burn! Try a le creuset/pan with white inside or a white/light colored spatula to stir)
Add in the sage to the butter and be sure to remove the pan from the heat once it starts to brown. Toss the corn in too to warm.
When the ravioli begin to float, they are cooked. Scoop from the water directly into the brown butter sauce, give a sprinkle of salt and pepper and toss well.
Sprinkle with some grated parmesan.
Enjoy!

The Three Bite Rule - Ravioli with Brown Butter, Sage & Corn

I loved this. The brown butter has so much flavor without looking like much. The kids liked it but for whatever reason, the kindergartener wasn’t interested in the corn. We cut from the ear and froze it back in peak farmer’s market corn season. It was about 50% thawed when I threw it in. We all like pasta and I always want the little ones to experience all the shapes pasta can take, all the sauce types, etc.

The sage leaves were whole because a little sage can be a lot to me so they were easy to pick out or whatever. Adding them to the brown butter brings some good flavor without a punch in the face. Our sage plants are flourishing so in it went.

This would be an easy one to make for a big crowd- do people see big crowds these days? It also would be great halved for a meal for 1!

Winter Comfort: Chicken Parm Stuffed Shells

This week weather may have been upper 50s & into the 60s in New England, but stuffed shells are a faster-than-lasagna winter comfort dinner. These got a slight twist with flavor of chicken parm we love. Plus, I love ricotta more than the average person, so this hit the spot. Make one big pan or 2 smaller ones with one to freeze!

The Three Bite Rule - Chicken Parm Stuffed Shells

Chicken Parmesan Stuffed Shells

Ingredients:

1/2 box jumbo shells
~4 breaded chicken tenders (or ~1 cup popcorn chicken)
15 oz ricotta
1 tablespoon Italian Seasoning
1 1/2 cup mozzarella
1 1/2 cup tomato sauce (I use Pastene canned Kitchen Ready Tomatoes)

Directions:

Bake the chicken until cooked through and crisp, according to the package. Then chop into bite-sized pieces. Lower oven heat to 350-degrees.
Boil salted water for the jumbo shells and cook until al dente.
Mix the ricotta with 1/2 cup mozzarella, Italian seasoning, and salt.
The Three Bite Rule - Chicken Parm Stuffed Shells
Fill a ziplock bag with the ricotta. Use a tall drinking glass to hold the bag while spooning the ricotta into the bag.
The Three Bite Rule - Chicken Parm Stuffed Shells
Spray a baking dish with non-stick spray. (I made 2- 9×9 pans or this would fit one 9×13). Spoon about 1/4 cup of tomato sauce onto the bottom.
Snip the bottom corner off the ziplock bag to pipe the ricotta into the shells and place the shells into the baking dish.
Add chicken on top of the ricotta.
The Three Bite Rule - Chicken Parm Stuffed Shells
Spoon tomato sauce on top.
Cover and bake for 30 minutes. Then uncover, top with remaining mozzarella, and return to the oven for 15 minutes.
The Three Bite Rule - Chicken Parm Stuffed Shells
Enjoy!

I loved this. Leftovers packed up really well to be lunch the next day! I love these flavors and was reminded just how easy it was to pop this together. Another fun twist is to skip the chicken, and stir in creamed spinach into the ricotta mixture for my Better Than Usual Stuffed Shells.
The Three Bite Rule - Chicken Parm Stuffed Shells

Roasted Kale Pesto

I’m not 100% on the raw kale bandwagon. I feel like my age & blog means I’m supposed to like it, but I do not enjoy it raw. I think it is a texture thing – and maybe the amount of chewing required for something that doesn’t taste like, I don’t know, bacon. I’ll finely dice and cook it into soups or whatever.

It is a great choice for a woodsy tasting pesto! It won’t make you think you’re eating peak-of-summer-basil, but it is good, and you can feeeeel good about it. I first mixed it into gnocchi then I added some with penne to pack for a work lunch.
The Three Bite Rule - Kale Pesto

Roasted Kale Pesto

Ingredients:

1 bunch kale
olive oil
1 tablespoon minced garlic
2 tablespoons grated Parmesan
2 tablespoons ricotta
1/4 cup toasted nuts
salt and pepper

Directions:

Roast the kale in a drizzle of olive oil, salt, and pepper.
Add the kale into the food processor, with the garlic, parmesan, ricotta, nuts, salt & pepper.
The Three Bite Rule - Kale Pesto
Blend while streaming in olive oil.
Refrigerate until serving.
The Three Bite Rule - Kale PestoEnjoy!

Toss with hot pasta or add a dollop onto chicken or pork chops, or spread onto a panini! Yum! It doesn’t get perfectly smooth like basil pesto does, but it is really good. Throw in any fresh spinach you have or arugula.
The Three Bite Rule - Kale Pesto