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.

Cuban Rice Bowls

Have you missed the grain bowls?! It has been awhile and I love love this format. We had these Cuban Rice bowls with inspiration from a cuban pressed sandwich – Pork, cheese, mustard, pickles. I didn’t have any ham but that would be traditional. These were fun for something different and have lots of ways to customize them.

The Three Bite Rule - Cuban Rice Bowls

Cuban Inspired Rice Bowls
Ingredients: (serves ~4-5)

1 1/2 cups rice
water/broth/bullion for the rice as dictated to prepare
1 1/2 cups pulled pork (or slices of cooked pork tenderloin)
2-3 pickle spears
1/4 cup white cheddar or swiss cheese
2 tablespoons yellow mustard
1 teaspoon honey
1/2 cup fried onions

Directions:
Cook the rice – mine was 5 minutes in the pressure cooker and uses 2 1/4 cups water + bullion.
Warm the pork in a pan until heated through.
Chop the pickles & the cheese.
Whisk or shake together the mustard and honey.
Warm the fried onions in a dry pan for 1-2 minutes.

The Three Bite Rule - Cuban Rice Bowls

Assemble the bowls with rice, cheese, pork, pickles, and the crispy onions.

The Three Bite Rule - Cuban Rice Bowls

Then drizzle with honey mustard mixture and enjoy!

The Three Bite Rule - Cuban Rice Bowls

I loved these! Add in some chopped ham! Swap for the cheese you like! Use any kind of pickles you like- I like dill and the rest of the fam likes bread & butter pickles! Go for any grain or rice you’re into! I added the honey to the yellow mustard to mellow it out a bit but you could skip that too. The inspiration is a Cuban sandwich but I’d be open to more veggies or the mustard mixed into the rice too!

These were fun and a great deviation from other ways we enjoy pulled pork. I put a pork shoulder into the crock pot for 6 hours and this was one meal and we have ~4 more portions in the freezer for BBQ pulled pork or tacos or quesadillas or on pizza…the list goes on.

Pineapple Coconut Rice Bowls

This is like a vacation! Coconut rice and pineapple are delightful on their own, then adding pork and a honey teriyaki drizzle makes magic. We loved this. The first time I made it with chicken but the pork was even better.

The Three Bite Rule - Pineapple Coconut Rice Bowls

Pineapple Coconut Rice Bowls:
Ingredients: (serves 4-5)

1 1/2 cups white rice
1 cup coconut milk
1 1/4 cup water or broth
1 cup pineapple, chopped
1 1/2 cup shredded pork
2 green onions
2 tablespoons honey
2 teaspoons teriyaki sauce
2 tablespoons BBQ sauce

Directions:
Cook the rice using the coconut milk and water/broth for the liquid (I used a pressure cooker- about 4 min for white rice!).
Warm the pork in a skillet over high heat to crisp up bits and add a tablespoon or so of the honey/teriyaki/bbq sauce for the last few minutes.
Add the pineapple to the rice when it has cooked completely and mix.

The Three Bite Rule - Pineapple Coconut Rice Bowls

Assemble the bowls with rice on the bottom, the pork, and chopped green onion on top.

The Three Bite Rule - Pineapple Coconut Rice Bowls

Drizzle bowls with the remaining sauce. Enjoy!

The Three Bite Rule - Pineapple Coconut Rice Bowls

These were so good and a great use for pork. I love rice in the pressure cooker and it is so fast. The coconut and pineapple flavors are bright and easy to have anytime.

The pork shoulder in the crockpot for 8 hours became this, some went on pizza, and lots froze to be separate meals other times. We’ll use some for BBQ pulled pork sandwiches and some smaller portions will go in quesadillas or nachos or something.

Copycat Cracker Barrel Meatloaf

While I’m not a connoisseur of Cracker Barrel’s meatloaf at the restaurant, the copycat recipes have circulated for years and I like so many aspects there: the cheddar in the meatloaf, the butter crackers, and the jazzed up ketchup on top make this a winner. I put my spin on it, most notably using pork but go for meatloaf mix or pork as you like. Raw meat isn’t the most photogenic, but this is very worth it.

The Three Bite Rule - Cracker Barrel Meatloaf Copycat
The ketchup topping probably makes this even more kid-friendly. We all like this at our house!

Copycat Cracker Barrel Meatloaf

Ingredients:

1/2 onion
1 sleeve of club crackers (~30ish), crushed
2 eggs
2/3 cup milk
~1 1/2 pounds ground pork (or meatloaf mix)
1 cup shredded cheddar
1 teaspoon worcestershire sauce
1 tablespoon minced garlic
1 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon pepper
1/2 cup ketchup
1/4 cup brown sugar
1/2 teaspoon yellow mustard

Directions:

Sautee the onion in olive oil/butter until cooked through.
Preheat the oven to 375 degrees.
Mix the crackers, eggs and milk, then add that to a big bowl with the ground pork, cheddar, sauteed onion, worcestershire sauce, garlic, salt, and pepper. Then mix well until totally incorporated.
The Three Bite Rule - Cracker Barrel Meatloaf Copycat
Spoon the mixture into a loaf pan sprayed with non-stick spray.
Bake for 40 minutes.
Mix together the ketchup, brown sugar, and mustard.
The Three Bite Rule - Cracker Barrel Meatloaf Copycat
Spoon half over the meatloaf and cook for another 15 minutes.
Remove from the oven and spoon remaining ketchup mixture over the top and let rest for 5 minutes.
The Three Bite Rule - Cracker Barrel Meatloaf Copycat
Enjoy!
The Three Bite Rule - Cracker Barrel Meatloaf Copycat
This is really juicy and flavorful. I served it with some roasted butternut squash (that could have roasted a bit more) and some peas or arugula salad choice. I’m not into peas, and the kids aren’t into arugula, and J could go either way, so everyone got something green! I should really do 2 veggie sides more often! This came after my birthday celebration of a bagel brunch and cake so we probably all appreciated some colors and more varied foods that day!

It reheats very well too so enjoy the leftovers. If making in advance, I’d skip the ketchup topping until the day you’re eating it!
The Three Bite Rule - Cracker Barrel Meatloaf Copycat

Pulled Pork with Balsamic Fig Dressing on Ciabatta

A pork shoulder in the crockpot is like the gift that keeps on giving. I’d say definitively that pulled pork is the best of any leftovers, hands down. I make it once in the crockpot and have about 6 servings. We had some as tacos and then I wanted to give it another spin with a bottle of fig and balsamic dressing from a Trader Joe’s haul. A little fig jam + a little balsamic vinegar would reach the same flavors without that exact dressing too!

The Three Bite Rule - Pork on Ciabatta with Fig & Balsamic Dressing
I like the sweet but vinegary yet smoky pork on crusty ciabatta but any roll will do! My preschooler got a slider bun since that’s sometimes a better size for him and he’d be more likely to eat all the bread skipping the pork unless sized well. I made some sweet potato tots and called it dinner. Here’s the Balsamic & Fig dressing I used but I’m including a quick fix for just a single use without buying it!

The Three Bite Rule - Trader Joe's Favs into Meals

Balsamic + Fig Pork Sandwiches

Ingredients (for ~4)

1 1/2 – 2 cups pulled pork (~8oz, cooked)
1/2 cup Balsamic & Fig Dressing (or 1/4 cup balsamic vinegar, 1/4 cup olive oil, 2 tablespoons fig jam whisked together)
4 rolls
2 cups arugula
1-2 teaspoons olive oil

Directions:

Preheat the oven to 300-degrees.
Mix the pork and some of the balsamic & fig dressing together gently. Taste and add more if needed.
The Three Bite Rule - Pork on Ciabatta with Fig & Balsamic Dressing
Warm the pork either in the microwave, or in a skillet.
Toast the rolls in the oven for about 5 minutes, until warmed through and just lightly toasted.
Toss the arugula in the olive oil until dressed and lay onto the bottom buns.
Top with pork and a drizzle of dressing more.
Enjoy!
The Three Bite Rule - Pork on Ciabatta with Fig & Balsamic Dressing
I liked this for a different twist on pork! If you buy fig jam, it is fantastic with a salty cheese (thus why it is sometimes sold near the cheeses) but it is also great for a Fig & Prosciutto Panini, or on pizza!

Thai Coconut Rice Bowls with Pork

After cooking a pork shoulder in the slow cooker I love having a bunch more servings of pork to “pull” out and become a speedy dinner. This time, I made a Thai-inspired rice bowl instead of my usual BBQ or Mexican twists on the leftovers. Earlier the same week we had pulled pork on sandwiches with BBQ sauce. This bowl is an ideal use for any leftover pork or beef, shredded or ground meat.
Thai Peanut Coconut Rice Bowl - The Three Bite Rule

I made the rice in my pressure cooker using white rice for a change, and coconut milk as the liquid. It turned out great- a gentle coconut flavor that isn’t too sweet! I mixed up the sauce in the blender a full day before this dinner which meant we had the speediest dinner ever! I came home to already prepared pork, rice I made that morning, and a sauce from the day before. Assembly time! Sauces often taste even better when made in advance and given a chance to sit before serving!

Thai Coconut Rice Bowls with Pork

Ingredients: (for 4)

1 cup white rice
2 cups coconut milk (unsweetened)
~1 cup shredded pork (or steak or ground meat)
1/4 inch fresh ginger, grated or minced
1 clove/teaspoon garlic, minced
1/2 teaspoon sriracha
2 tablespoons honey
2 tablespoons lime juice
2 tablespoons soy sauce
2 tablespoons rice vinegar (or apple cider vinegar)
3 tablespoons peanut butter
2 tablespoons olive oil
1/4 cup fresh cilantro
1/2 cucumber
1 cup shredded carrots
more fresh cilantro to garnish

Directions:

Cook the rice with the coconut milk. (My pressure cooker ratio is 1 cup rice to 1 1/2 cups liquid so I used that ratio but usually rice is 1 rice:2 liquid).
While the rice cooks, blend together the peanut sauce with: ginger, garlic, sriracha, honey, lime, soy sauce, vinegar, peanut butter, cilantro, and stream in the olive oil. (Can be made ahead of time)
Thai Peanut Coconut Rice Bowl - The Three Bite Rule
Warm the pork over medium heat in a medium skillet. When starting to warm, drizzle in ~3 tablespoons of the peanut sauce and cook for another 2 minutes.
Thai Peanut Coconut Rice Bowl - The Three Bite Rule
Slice the cucumbers into thin sticks.
Serve the rice on the bottom topped with pork, carrots, cucumber, a drizzle of peanut sauce and more cilantro.
Thai Peanut Coconut Rice Bowl - The Three Bite Rule
Enjoy!

The little one liked the elements of this, but really loved the coconut rice. He hadn’t been into rice lately so that was nice to get back to it, also since coconut rice was something new to us.

Thai Peanut Coconut Rice Bowl - The Three Bite Rule
The sauce was a bit spicy for Mr. J so I’d say I loved this most (I added in more sriracha at first so go with my quantities above!). The raw veggies make it fun with almost sweet rice and warm pork with a few crispy bits. I had leftovers for lunch the next day and loved it all over again! Raw veggies are the pre-schooler’s preference but tricky for the babe who only has 2 little chicklet teeth poking through. I’ll have to balance that a bit more as she “eats dinner” with us.

Substitute any grain cooked as the coconut base and whatever veggies you like. Need more grain bowl inspiration? I’ve got you covered. 😉

Ham & Cheddar Pizza with Mustard Drizzle

Fastest pizza/flatbread ever! I thought about a panini but then wanted it to be a pizza. Wheat naan make the fastest pizza crust ever and I love the individual servings. The really good quality cheddar cheese makes this, and of course the caramelized onions don’t hurt either.

The Three Bite Rule - Ham & Cheddar Pizza with Mustard Drizzle

Ham & Cheddar Pizza with a Mustard Drizzle

Ingredients: (for 4)

4 naan
1 small white onion, cut into slices
2 tablespoons cream cheese
1 tablespoon dijon mustard
~2 cups shredded sharp white cheddar
2 slices spiral cut ham, diced
4 tablespoons honey mustard dressing

Directions:

Preheat the oven (and pizza stone if using one) to 400 degrees.
In a small pan, cook the onion in butter or olive oil over low heat for about 20 minutes, or until gently caramelized.
Mix together the “sauce” of cream cheese and dijon.
The Three Bite Rule - Ham & Cheddar Pizza with Mustard Drizzle
Spread it onto the naan.
Sprinkle cheese on top, then add the ham and onions.
The Three Bite Rule - Ham & Cheddar Pizza with Mustard Drizzle
Bake for 15-20 minutes, until the cheese melts and the naan starts to crisp. The naan stays mostly soft but the edges crisp a little.
The Three Bite Rule - Ham & Cheddar Pizza with Mustard Drizzle
Let cool for about 2 minutes out of the oven, then drizzle with honey mustard dressing.
The Three Bite Rule - Ham & Cheddar Pizza with Mustard Drizzle
I loved this! Outside the box pizza toppings are some of my favorites and this was the ideal leftover for some holiday ham slices that made their way into our freezer. Our pre-schooler is obsessed with honey mustard so it was my nod to him too. He ate about 1/3 of one, which I thought was a pretty solid quantity since he often likes his foods separate and meat isn’t always his go-to! It was a reminder too that 2 slices of ham went a very far way when chopped up to become 4 individualized pizzas!

This could be a fun brunch one too since topping it with a fried egg also sounds delicious!

Breakfast Pizza with Sausage Gravy and Eggs

Breakfast and pizza- the best of both worlds! The sausage gravy serves as the sauce on English muffins and then it gets topped with white cheddar, tomato slices, and scrambled eggs. So good.

The Three Bite Rule - Breakfast Pizza

Breakfast Pizza with Sausage Gravy and Scrambled Eggs (for 2)

Ingredients:

2 breakfast sausage links
1 tablespoon butter
1 tablespoon flour
1/4 cup + 3 tablespoons milk
2 tablespoons brewed coffee
2 English muffins
1/4 cup white cheddar
2 eggs
salt & pepper

Directions:

Remove the sausage from the casing and pan fry the sausage until cooked through, about 5 minutes, breaking the sausage into very small pieces. Remove the sausage and leave the drippings in the pan. Add in the butter to melt over low heat. Sprinkle in the flour and cook for 1-2 minutes. Add in the 1/4 cup milk and coffee. Whisk until smooth. Sprinkle in salt and pepper then return the sausage into the pan.
The Three Bite Rule - Breakfast Pizza
Toast the English muffins and spoon the gravy over the English muffins. Top with cheese and return to the toaster oven or oven to melt the cheese.
The Three Bite Rule - Breakfast Pizza
While the cheese is melting, scramble and cook the eggs just until cooked and remove from the heat. Season with salt & pepper.
Slice the tomato and add on top of the cheese, then spoon the eggs onto the top.
The Three Bite Rule - Breakfast Pizza
Enjoy!

I loved the sausage gravy on these breakfast pizzas. It amps them up big time and takes so little to do so! The bigger chunks of sausage were trickier to layer on but the gravy only uses 2 sausage links, for 2 people! For a vegetarian version, mushroom gravy would be delicious! Use good quality white cheddar here, it is so worth it. I found the tomato freshness and acidity necessary.

Cuban Sliders

Cuban sliders were the perfect answer to some leftover pulled pork! This was leftover from the new Blue Ribbon BBQ location near our house for my birthday! It was so good with BBQ sauce but for leftover pork, transforming it is the best. Pork is just too easy to do that with! Some went into quesadillas, some have become tacos in the past, on pizza, in a panini, and the list goes on.
The Three Bite Rule - Cuban Sliders

Cuban Sliders

Ingredients:

~1 cup pulled pork
2 slider rolls
1/2 cup shredded swiss cheese
~6-8 pickle chips
3 tablespoons yellow mustard (I mixed yellow mustard and & sweet golden mustard BBQ sauce)
(sliced ham would make this a true cuban)

Directions:

Preheat the oven to 375-degrees. Warm the pork through.
Slice the buns, spread mustard onto the top and bottom. Layer the pickles then the pork onto the rolls.
The Three Bite Rule - Cuban Sliders
Sprinkle the cheese on and pop them into the oven for ~5 minutes until the cheese melts.
The Three Bite Rule - Cuban Sliders
Serve and enjoy!
The Three Bite Rule - Cuban Sliders
These were so good! The mustard and pickles took it from barbecue to a Cuban sandwich. These would be fun cut into smaller pieces if using bigger, oblong rolls as an appetizer.

Sausage Burger on a Pretzel Bun

This quickie burger blew. my. mind. The pretzel bun + mustard + sausage shaped-like-a-burger was just so amazing. I whipped it up for lunch one day when I realized we had one, lone pretzel bun in the freezer annnnnd a half of a green pepper hanging out in the fridge. The stars aligned because we always have sausage links in the freezer and onions are usually a staple too. Ta-da!
The Three Bite Rule - Sausage Pretzel Burger

I made this inside on the stove in about 10 minutes, but will absolutely repeat for the grill. Also, I’ll repeat since this wasn’t a family dinner with the 1 pretzel roll we had…sorry Mr. J! It was amazing! Don’t be like me – make a bunch! Share with others!

Sausage Burgers on Pretzel Buns with Peppers & Onions (for 2)

Ingredients:

2 Italian sausage links, casing removed
2 pretzel buns
1/2 green bell pepper
1/4 onion
2 tablespoons mustard
2 slices provolone cheese (optional)

Directions:

Slice the pepper and onion into the same size pieces…so slice the pepper and then slice in half again. Saute the onions for 2 minutes in a drizzle of oil, then add in the peppers and cook for another 5 minutes. Remove from heat.
Form the sausage link into a circle shaped patty and pan fry in the same pan as the peppers/onions. (No real culinary reason other than to not have 2 pans to wash!)
Flip to cook through and add the peppers & onions in to keep warm until serving.
The Three Bite Rule - Sausage Pretzel Burger
While the sausage cooks, toast the pretzel bun until warmed through. Spread on the mustard.
Add the provolone to the burger, if using.
Serve the burgers topped with peppers and onions.
The Three Bite Rule - Sausage Pretzel Burger
Enjoy!

I really loved this. Maybe it was the simplicity. Maybe it was a 10 minute meal that was so good and just came together at the right time. That pretzel bun with the mustard was just at traditional match. 1 sausage link formed into a circle is quite thin so it cooked really quickly. Yay! I didn’t have any provolone around but thought the stretch of some mild cheese would be amazing.
The Three Bite Rule - Sausage Pretzel Burger

Toasting it was necessary. Both sides can have soapboxes for whether all burger buns need to be toasted, but pretzel buns need to be treated like soft pretzels.
The. End.
The Three Bite Rule - Sausage Pretzel Burger