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.

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