Better Eggplant Parm Subs

These eggplant parm subs are show-stoppers. They’re better than average – not because I made my own breaded eggplant, ohh no, but because there’s so much flavor and texture here. Arugula adds the freshness and crunch this needs and fresh mozzarella gives some bite and some melty pull you will just love.

The Three Bite Rule - Eggplant Parm Subs

Breading eggplant is tough to get right – I find it frozen at Trader Joe’s and Aldi, sometimes it is prepped in refrigerated areas at Wegman’s, and Costco has had it, but not regularly.

Eggplant Parm Subs
Ingredients:
(for 2 subs)
~4-6 small slices per sub breaded eggplant
2 small sub rolls
~1/2 cup tomato sauce
~4 oz fresh mozzarella
2 cups baby arugula
2 tablespoons Italian dressing

The Three Bite Rule - Eggplant Parm Subs

Directions:
Preheat the oven, toaster oven, or air fryer to 400-degrees. Bake/air fry the eggplant until golden brown and well crisped – about 10 minutes.
Warm the sauce, slice the cheese, and toss the arugula in dressing.
Slice the roll and spread some tomato sauce onto it then layer on the eggplant and fresh mozzarella.
Return to the oven/toaster/air fryer to melt the cheese.

The Three Bite Rule - Eggplant Parm Subs

Then top with greens and enjoy!

I loved this. As takeout, it is always so soggy. The sauce, crispy eggplant and the cheese make it comforting but the fresh crunchy greens with bright dressing bring life to it! Don’t skip the fresh mozzarella – it elevates this really nicely.

The Three Bite Rule - Eggplant Parm Subs

Subs are great to make one or two – all in the toaster oven or air fryer! I wouldn’t make them in advance, but everything but the greens could be frozen.

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

Pizza Beans

December neeeeds easy dinner ideas, right? Pizza beans are such a hit here – we get the flavors of pizza in a warm and comforting dish. This busy time of year seems ideal for dinners that are easy and minimal cooking required. There are lots of ways to customize these which helps be a crowd pleaser – or to use random leftovers with some pantry basics!

The Three Bite Rule - Pizza Beans

White beans and tomato sauce are the base with all the toppings you love! They’d also be a great option for a pizza spread for a gluten-free or custom dietary options.

Pizza Beans
Ingredients: (for 3-4)

2 cans white beans
1-2 cups tomato sauce
1 tablespoons garlic, minced
1 teaspoon dried oregano
1 teaspoon parmesan
1/2 cup shredded mozzarella
pepperoni

Directions:
Cook the beans, tomato sauce, garlic, and oregano over low heat for ~10 minutes until fully warmed through.

The Three Bite Rule - Pizza Beans

Serve and top while hot.

The Three Bite Rule - Pizza Beans

Top with shredded cheese, pepperoni, and any other toppings.
Enjoy!

The Three Bite Rule - Pizza Beans


Toppings we love: crumbled sausage, chicken, roasted peppers, sauteed onions, chopped arugula, fresh mozzarella, dollop of pesto or alfredo, or whatever you like!

I love this. It is a great use for small amounts of cheese and tiny bits of any topping. It reheats well if packing for lunch or eating separately though beans aren’t always the best when frozen. The beans are filling and provide lots of fiber and iron. The kids love it – probably because it has familiar flavors and easy to chew.

This was a side-step from these Tomato Basil Polenta Bowls

The Three Bite Rule - Tomato Basil Polenta Bowls

Grab your beans and give it a Mexican twist with some roasted tomatoes, salsa, queso, roasted corn, etc – give it a Mediterranean twist with warmed beans mixed with caesar dressing, chicken, spinach, feta, etc. Add to your beans with ricotta and mini meatballs and call it a lasagna bowl! Bean bowls are fun – they just don’t have the same ring as some other names.

Bean & Mushroom Meatballs

Meatless meatballs don’t get everyone psyched, but these were so flavorful and filling. Also, if forming into meatballs isn’t your thing, they can easily be patties or pan fried all chopped up to be taco/burrito filling or for faux-Bolognese sauce!

The Three Bite Rule - Mushroom & Bean Meatballs

Mushroom & Bean Meatballs
Ingredients:

1/2 white onion, chopped small
1 pint (~2-3 cups) baby portabella mushrooms
2 tablespoons butter
1 can (15.5 oz) white beans (black beans would be good too & make them darker in color like any other meatball)
2 tablespoons garlic, minced
2/3 cup quick cooking oats
1 tablespoon Italian Seasoning
1 teaspoon dried oregano
1 teaspoon salt & pepper (I used a salt & garlic powder mix)
1 tablespoon Worcestershire sauce (or sub a teaspoon balsamic vinegar)
2 tablespoons parmesan cheese, grated
2 tablespoons panko breadcrumbs
1 egg (optional)

Directions:
Sauté the onions over medium heat until soft and translucent then remove from the heat and sauté the mushrooms in butter in that same pan – about 5 minutes over medium high heat.

The Three Bite Rule - Mushroom & Bean Meatballs

While the mushrooms cook (let them sit to caramelize before gently stirring), drain the white beans (and reserve some of the liquid). Add the beans, garlic, and a little liquid to a food processor blending until smooth.
Chop the mushrooms.
In a large bowl, mix together the bean puree, mushrooms, oats, onions, dried herbs, and worcestershire sauce. Mix well.

The Three Bite Rule - Mushroom & Bean Mea

Add in panko and egg (use the egg if forming into balls to better keep them together). Refrigerate 15+ minutes before forming into balls.
Bake at 375 degrees for 15 minutes & flip and bake for another 15 minutes. Or, air fry for ~15 minutes. They’re a bit soft to pan fry- mine didn’t stay together so I don’t recommend it! Air frying worked well as meatballs and as veggie burgers!

The Three Bite Rule - Mushroom & Bean Meatballs

These were good and super filling – the beans add some nice heft to keep you full and the mushrooms make them juicy. I made some into meatballs and served with sauce and garlic bread and froze a as patties to have as veggie burgers. They are soft so I cooked fully and cooled before freezing. I’m not sure if the meatballs would hold together if cooked in sauce for a long time.

When the pan-fried ones fell apart too much, I drained them all and broke them up further to be like a meat sauce!

Mushrooms aren’t everyone’s fav in my family so these will mostly be for me (I also don’t eat beef so I’d have these and everyone else could have beef meatballs).

Caesar Broccoli

Side dishes are never my strong suit- until this one! This could not be easier – just a few ingredients and a great supporting side dish. It comes together quickly and is quite hands off. The broccoli is roasted and dressed in some caesar dressing and topped with a crunchy breadcrumb topping to remind you of croutons! I even added a few short cuts to the end too!

The kids loved it the first time and didn’t pay much attention the next time – so who knows.

The Three Bite Rule - Caesar Broccoli

Caesar Broccoli
Ingredients (serves ~6):

2-3 broccoli heads
2 tablespoons olive oil
2 tablespoons creamy caesar dressing
2 tablespoons grated parmesan
3 tablespoons panko bread crumbs
1 tablespoon butter

Directions:
Preheat the oven to 400-degrees (or prep an air-fryer).
Chop the broccoli off into florets.
Spread the florets onto a baking sheet and drizzle on the olive oil and a sprinkle of salt & pepper.
Roast the broccoli for ~15 minutes, flipping once, until getting golden brown on each side.
While the broccoli cooks, in a dry skillet add the panko and toast over medium heat for ~1 minute until getting golden brown. Then add in the butter and 1 tablespoon of the grated parmesan. Mix well and remove from the heat.

The Three Bite Rule - Caesar Broccoli

Add the roasted broccoli to a mixing bowl and dressing with 1 tablespoon of the parmesan. Toss well.

The Three Bite Rule - Caesar Broccoli

Add sprinkle half the breadcrumbs to the broccoli and toss well. Then sprinkle the rest on top.
Enjoy!

The Three Bite Rule - Caesar Broccoli

I really loved this and will make it again and again. It is so simple to multi-task while getting something else together. It goes well with anything and is a nice nod to fall/winter with the roasted veggie.

We had it alongside some burgers one night and another time we had it with chicken sausages. It would be good with chicken or dare I say- a side dish for Thanksgiving with turkey?

Want it to be even faster? Use an airfryer for the broccoli. Also, slip the breadcrumb topping and use some croutons chopped a bit. I thought the breadcrumbs were addicting, but the caesar vibe would stay in tact!

Mushroom Risotto

The Three Bite Rule - Mushroom Risotto

I’m all in on mushrooms for this one. I made just 2 servings (both for me!) and loved it. I’m the only mushroom fan in our fam right now so I made it to be lunch 2 days! Mine went into the pressure cooker, but there are stovetop directions below too.

Making risotto is a great home project. It isn’t quite as fussy as it seems to be. It takes some time (on the stove) and some stirring, but it is worth it.

Mushroom Risotto
Ingredients:
~1 cup baby portabello mushrooms
~1 cup crimini mushrooms
1 cup arborio rice
1 cup broth (vegetable or chicken)
1/2 cup Golden Mushroom soup
2 tablespoons sherry
2 tablespoons butter


Directions:
Chop the mushrooms leaving half of each kind as slices, and the other half diced of each kind. Reserve the diced ones. Saute the slices in butter, in a heavy pan (not a nonstick pan, if possible) over medium heat until caramelized.
Saute the arborio rice in a drizzle of olive oil for ~3 minutes until translucent in the pan it will cook in.
If cooking on a stove top, heat the broth and mushroom soup and sherry in a separate pot. If cooking in a pressure cooker, add the broth, soup, and sherry into the pot of arborio rice.
If using a pressure cooker, add in the diced mushrooms, seal it, and set timer according to the cooker- mine was 8 minutes on high then pressure release.
If cooking on the stove, add in the diced mushrooms, then add a ladleful of liquid to the rice and cook over medium heat until absorbed – repeat for all the liquid, about 30-40 minutes.
When fully cooked, top with the cooked slices of mushrooms. Sprinkle with parmesan and enjoy!

I loved this. The golden mushroom soup MAKES it. The ones cooked in the risotto are so good and the caramelized ones are buttery and give an alternate texture.

When you have leftover Golden Mushroom Soup, freeze it, and use it in:
Chicken & Golden Mushroom Sauce in the Crockpot
Sausage Stuffing
– or as mushroom/veggie broth

The Three Bite Rule - Mushroom Risotto

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!

Pesto Risotto Stuffed Tomatoes

Why have I never stuffed a tomato before! I do not love stuffed peppers – the idea is great, but I’m never that into them. Risotto stuffed tomatoes are delightful! I also used grocery store tomatoes and saved great garden ones for raw eating!
The Three Bite Rule - Pesto Risotto Stuffed Tomatoes

Pesto Risotto Stuffed Tomatoes

Ingredients:

1 shallot or 1/4 of an onion
1/2 cup arborio rice
1 cup broth/wine/water (liquid amount should be what the arborio rice dictates + add some salt if not using broth)
2 teaspoons pesto
4 small tomatoes, insides scooped out
1 cup white cheddar, shredded
1 tablespoon parmesan (optional)

Directions:

Prepare the risotto with the shallot/onion, rice, and broth/wine/water combo and add in the tomato centers and juice- I used the pressure cooker, or cook it on on the stove top.
When it is cooked through, stir in the cheese and the pesto.
The Three Bite Rule - Pesto Risotto Stuffed Tomatoes
Sprinkle the hollowed tomatoes with salt and pepper then spoon the risotto into them. Top with a sprinkle of parmesan- or more cheddar.
The Three Bite Rule - Pesto Risotto Stuffed Tomatoes
Put the tops back on and bake for 10-15 minutes- until the tomatoes are cooked through and the outside is soft (like soft enough to tip over!)
The Three Bite Rule - Pesto Risotto Stuffed TomatoesEnjoy!

We had these with grilled Italian sausages and green beans- and we had some additional unstuffed risotto. They were so good and a great change for us! A great big heirloom tomato with lots more risotto would be delicious! Or try it into a half of a zucchini- also with the flesh scooped out and cooked into the risotto.

No pesto? Add in a sprinkle of herbs. Or cook with a few glugs of white wine (1/4 cup). Or a few tablespoons of tomato sauce. Just be sure you add something with flavor. Stuff your fav other favorite grain instead or speed it up with couscous or orzo!

Lettuce-less Salad Series: Cabbage Slaw with Peanut Sauce

This salad is a great side or it eats like a meal too. It miiiight not be the most picturesque but I couldn’t not share it. Think crunchy purple cabbage and carrots with peanut sauce and some shredded chicken- or skip the chicken. Either way, it is great and so fast.
The Three Bite Rule - Cabbage Slaw with Peanut Sauce

Cabbage & Carrot Slaw with Peanut Sauce

Ingredients: (for ~4-5 as sides, or ~2 as a meal)

1/4 cup soy sauce
1/4 cup peanut butter
1/4 inch grated ginger
1 teaspoon rice vinegar
1 teaspoon sesame oil
2 cups shredded purple cabbage
2 large carrots, shredded
~1 cup roasted chicken, shredded (optional)

Directions:

Shake the sauce together in a jar (or whisk together in a bowl) the soy sauce, peanut butter, ginger, rice vinegar, and sesame oil. Refrigerate until serving or make and serve.
Mix the cabbage and the carrot.
Drizzle in the peanut sauce and mix well. Add in the chicken – if using- and stir gently.
The Three Bite Rule - Cabbage Slaw with Peanut SauceEnjoy!

I loved this! Know that brown sauce – like peanut sauce – is not beautiful but so tasty. We had it with sesame noodles and edamame- that’s on the regular rotation here. This slaw was great for a crunch and for the peanut flavor. My 5-year-old pb lover liked it and ate a bunch. My ~2-year-old pb lover only ate a little.

There you have it, my salads without lettuce:
this cabbage and carrot slaw with peanut sauce
Watermelon Mint Salad
Peach, Tomato & Mozzarella Salad

Lettuce-less Salad Series: Peach & Mozzarella Salad

July brings us a lettuce-less salad series! Lettuce is often my least fav part of salad and my kids are not so into lettuce- maybe for the texture? This salad is all summer with peach, fresh mozzarella, tomato, and cucumber with balsamic reduction. When I say peach, I often mean nectarine but you do you. This was a hit for all of us! It may have turned Mr. J onto nectarines!

The Three Bite Rule - Peach & Mozzarella Salad

Peach, Mozzarella & Tomato Salad

Ingredients: (for 4)

1 peach/nectarine
1 8 oz fresh mozzarella ball
1 cup grape tomatoes
2/3 of a cucumber
1 tablespoon balsamic reduction

Directions:

Chop the peach, mozzarella, tomatoes, and cucumbers.
The Three Bite Rule - Peach & Mozzarella Salad
Mix and drizzle with balsamic reduction.
The Three Bite Rule - Peach & Mozzarella SaladEnjoy!

If making it ahead of time, chop only the peach, tomatoes and cucumbers. Then chop the mozzarella and drizzle just before serving. Mini mozzarella balls would work well for this too!

The flavors and textures here are so perfect for summer. We ate it as a side with dinner and all of us loved it- we’re very into nectarines right now! I bought balsamic reduction since we’ll eat it a lot this summer and it just makes life a little easier but it is also so simple to make. Just bring balsamic vinegar to a boil and simmer for ~10 minutes until thickened. Then cool before using. That’s an easier way to have a smaller amount too.

I have a few more lettuce-less salads coming. Stay tuned!