Green Smoothie

I did it. I mean, in my defense, what kind of food blogger would I be if I didn’t give a green smoothie a shot and get on that bandwagon finally?
The Three Bite Rule - Green Smoothie

I’ve snuck some spinach into a smoothie before, but I did it with blueberries which hide the green-ness. I think this is more about the color and texture than about the flavor. Let’s be real: raw spinach blended doesn’t give off any huge aggressive flavor. It seems about time to blog about a green smoothie, with spinach, and avocado.

Ingredients:

1 green apple
2 cups fresh spinach
1 small avocado (or ½ of a regular avocado)
1/2 banana, frozen
6 oz greek yogurt
1 tbs honey
⅓ cup milk

Directions:

Blend all the ingredients.
Enjoy!

The Three Bite Rule - Green Smoothie

I liked this green smoothie a lot. It wasn’t as sludge seeming as I’ve heard the green juiced drinks are. I didn’t include any parsley or lemon which bottled green ones often have.

I didn’t feel like I was doing a cleanse detoxing. That scares the beejesus out of me. Do you know people who’ve done it? Bahhh. Yikes. Eeeek. I can’t imagine. I like the idea of detoxing off overly processed foods or striving for as many raw/whole/real foods. I’d rather try to eat more veggies or really, anything other than all liquids.

This smoothie isn’t exactly going to detox you, but the yogurt makes it come together and the milk & honey make it slightly sweet and drink-able. The apple & banana are both sweet and the spinach and avocado are kind of neutral to me. It is for sure a good way to get some more veggies into your day. That’s a plus for everyone.
The Three Bite Rule - Green Smoothie

Avocado – good for fiber & good fat
Spinach – barely any calories, more vitamin A than your usual bfast
Apple – upps your vitamin C & fiber
Banana – Potassium is ideal after an intense workout, or after an evening of drinks.
Greek yogurt – Greek yogurt has about 2x – 3x the protein of regular yogurt and wayyy more protein than just milk would give you, making this smoothie be filling enough for a meal. It’ll help get to your calcium daily suggested amount.

All that being said, I’d do it again. Do I want to juice green things? No thanks.

Tomato Ricotta Pie

Summer is the best for being up-to-your-eyeballs in fresh tomatoes. All our tomato plants are doing really well this year. Hallelujah. The cherry tomatoes seem to produce a handful per day and the larger tomatoes thankfully ripen just a few at a time. My rents have a bumper crop of cukes and tomatoes which we’ve “helped” to consume.

Sometimes on an ‘anything goes’ night our mystery ingredient is…surprise, tomatoes. I had a few large ones at the same time so I wanted to plan something that would really highlight tomatoes. I adapted a Cooking Light Tomato Ricotta Pie which was more about the shredded cheese and Martha Stewart’s Tomato Ricotta Tart which uses breadcrumbs for the base/crust.

Three Bite Rule - Tomato Ricotta Pie

Ingredients:

1 pie crust, thawed (or made from scratch)
3 tomatoes, sliced
1 cup whole-milk ricotta
2 eggs
½ cup grated parmesan
¼ cup light alfredo sauce (optional)
1 tsp chopped garlic
salt & pepper

Directions:

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
Gently unroll pie crust into a pie dish sprayed with non-stick spray, poking a few holes into the crust with a fork.
Bake for 10 minutes.
While crust is pre-baking, whisk together ricotta, eggs, parmesan, alfredo sauce, garlic, salt and pepper.
Three Bite Rule - Tomato Ricotta Pie
Remove crust from oven and pour the cheese mix.
Lay the tomatoes over the top slightly overlapping.
Three Bite Rule - Tomato Ricotta Pie
Sprinkle with extra sea salt or fleur de sel.
Bake for 30 minutes.
Three Bite Rule - Tomato Ricotta Pie
Optional: broil for the last 3 minutes to give the tomatoes more color.
Let sit for at least 5 minutes before slicing.
Three Bite Rule - Tomato Ricotta Pie

I liked that this was light but filling. It was kind of along the lines of quiche, but less eggy. I am pretty obsessed with ricotta so I enjoyed this. It could easily pretend to be brunch food too. I liked the leftovers too.

I didn’t happen to have any fresh basil but a little bit of that would be good. I absolutely don’t think this would have been the same with grocery store tomatoes. Quick! Find a farmer’s market near you!

Maybe I’ll try the breadcrumb as crust idea for a zucchini pie next.

Cost Breakdown:
crust: $1.84
tomatoes: free! (or about $2 at a farmer’s market)
ricotta: $2.19
eggs: $0.32
alfredo sauce: (half of a jar) $1.34
parmesan cheese: $1.19
total: $6.69 (serves 4 as a meal ($1.67 per person), or 6 as a meal/brunch accompaniment ($1.11 per person)

Can’t beat that price per person!

Falafel Burgers & Basil White Bean Spread

I’ve been all about the meatless meals lately. Summer seems like such a perfect time for that. I saw Jess Fuel make a white bean and basil spread and I thought it would be really good as a hummus alternative. I make baked falafel regularly so this was a perfect time to make a spread. It would be a good dip as well, but I used mine on a falafel “burger” as a condiment.

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Ingredients:

1 can white beans
2 cups basil
1 tbs garlic, chopped
½ tsp garlic powder
2 tbs olive oil
salt & pepper

Directions:

In a blender or food processor, add all the ingredients.
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Blend well, taste, and season with added salt and pepper accordingly.
Enjoy!
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This is so simple. The beans make it thick and hearty and the basil adds the freshness. I don’t know that it would be my go-to dip or anything, but I liked the flavors and love how easy it was. It was a great way to use fresh basil since it only has a few days of shelf life. It would be easy to customize with roasted red peppers, sundried tomatoes, lemon + mint, or adding cuke chunks and feta. I have to remember this when needing to make something cheap or easy.

For the falafel, I baked them like usual, but I made us each a big patty rather than a bunch of small falafel balls. I served them like a burger but with the bean spread, lettuce, and cucumber slices. These were good, but probably won’t be my go-to for falafel night. I think I still like them in a pita or wrap with feta and hummus. They make great little sliders for an appetizer too!
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Have more basil? Use it for Strawberry Basil Sangria or Grilled Bruschetta Pizza or on a made-at-home sub!

Zucchini Pasta with Burrata

Last year about this time I was working an event in Cali, and I wasn’t psyched to be “on-event” again. In the fall, I tend to travel to Cali 2-3 times in just a few weeks. But then, one staff dinner I was introduced to burrata cheese. I hadn’t ever had it before and it was amazing. It made me so happy and all was right with the world.

We went to Pitfire Pizza and were served family style. One of the pizzas was the Burrata Pie: tomato sauce, burrata cheese, wild arugula, caramelized onion, hazelnuts, and pesto drizzle. Thankfully a few of my colleagues thought it was a bit weird. All the more for me. I have no recollection as to what else was served.
Three Bite Rule - Zucchini Pasta with Ricotta

I couldn’t get enough of the burrata. It was mystical. It is too good to be sold at grocery stores. #truestory. We may have given thousands? hundreds? of bicycle riders the weekend of a lifetime. I mostly remember the burrata.

I happened upon some at the farmer’s market and didn’t have to think twice. I figured with such a decadent cheese I would do a somewhat lighter pasta. I made way too much pasta with such a large zucchini. Half the pasta unless you want to be eating/serving 6 servings like me.
Three Bite Rule - Zucchini Pasta with Ricotta

Ingredients:

1 lbs angel hair/linguine/other thin pasta
1 large zucchini
16 oz Pastene kitchen ready tomato
1 cup basil leaves
2 tbs garlic, chopped
salt & pepper
1 medium/large burrata

Directions:

Boil generously salted water in a large pot for the pasta.
Using a box grater or mandolin, cut zucchini the long direction.
Three Bite Rule - Zucchini Pasta with Ricotta
Drop pasta into the boiling water and cook according to the packaging.
Heat tomato sauce over medium heat in a very large skillet (big enough to fit the pasta once it cooks).
Add garlic, half the basil, and zucchini to the tomato sauce when the pasta is almost cooked (for the last 2 minutes of pasta cooking).
When pasta is cooked but still al dente, remove and put directly into the tomato sauce skillet (do not drain).
Cook while mixing for just a minute or two while gently tossing in the sauce.
Three Bite Rule - Zucchini Pasta with Ricotta
Serve the pasta with the remaining basil, and a touch of salt and pepper (I used some rosemary fleur de sel). Finally top with burrata.
Three Bite Rule - Zucchini Pasta with Ricotta
Cut the burrata when ready to eat.
Three Bite Rule - Zucchini Pasta with Ricotta

This was lovely. I was so happy when the pure tomato sauce became pink with burrata cream. The flavors were perfect. The zucchini adapted to its role as pasta easily.

If you haven’t had burrata then you have to try it. It is like mozzarella to the extreme. The center is filled with cream that just tastes like cheese. Burrata is delicious so it would be great on salad and hunks of good bread.

Grilled Bruschetta Pizza

People always tell me that pizza dough is hard to work with. I swear by my pizza stone, but I also wanted to be sure to make some pizzas with alternative crust options. I’ve made french bread pizza and Greek Pita Pizza too if pizza dough isn’t your thing.

I grabbed some ready-made crusts and think they’re a fool-proof option. I did one grilled flatbread and some naans as crust for lunch ones.
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Ingredients:

1 flatbread (or 2 naan)
1 cup tomato sauce (or my fav Kitchen Ready Pastene)
8 oz shredded mozzarella
1-2 medium tomatoes
4 oz fresh mozzarella
4 leaves fresh basil (don’t substitute)
salt & pepper

Directions:

Grill flatbread on hot grill for just a few minutes, flipping once
Top with tomato sauce, shredded mozzarella and chopped tomato.
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Gently lay slices of fresh mozzarella on top and sprinkle with salt and pepper.
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Grill for just a few minutes, until the cheese has melted.
Remove from the grill and immediately top with fresh basil.
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Let sit for about 3 minutes before cutting.
Enjoy!

This pizza is ready in just a few minutes. It seriously takes less time than pre-heating the grill (or oven). I made the flatbread on the grill and made the naan in the oven to be lunch the next day.

The flatbread was chewy and got a touch crisp from the grill. The naan was thinner and I liked the slight sweetness of the wheat dough. This bruschetta pizza requires so few ingredients I strongly urge you not to skip the fresh mozzarella and the fresh basil. These two ingredients make the pizza flavorful.
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This is such an easy way to whip up pizza. The naan was perfect for individual servings and I loved something different off the grill! Who’s excited for the Bachelorette finale? I totally called last week’s action and I’m curious what this next one will be. I can’t imagine a 2 hour finale to have her pick nobody. It can’t take 2 hours to break up with 2 guys. We’ll see what shakes out with this last rose and if they announce the next Bachelor. I don’t think it’ll be Brooks. He can’t express himself. Mr. J hears it in passing and a) wants nothing to do with it and b) thinks this guy will be the next one. All this being said, I’m reading a 700-something page book right now so that my head doesn’t turn to mush with this trash & RHONJ. #guiltypleasure

Bruschetta Pizza Cost Breakdown
This breakdown is for either the flatbread or the naan. There would be enough sauce, cheeses, and basil to make both!
crust: $3.30
tomato: $0.50
shredded mozzarella: $2.50
fresh mozzarella: $2.00
fresh basil: $1.00
total = $9, serves 2 for $4.50 each

Italian Grilled Cheese

This summer has been pretty hot. I don’t like temperatures that start with a ‘9’, and three-digitis? #forgetaboutit

I’ve been trying to limit my oven use for dinner planning when it gets that hot. I’ve also been OBSESSED with using stuff up. Pantry items and freezer finds alike have been gracing my plates. I had some breaded eggplant hanging around (circa Eggplant Parm Pizza) and thought tucking those buggers into grilled cheese could be fun.
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Italian Inspired Grilled Cheese (for 2)

Ingredients:

4 slices of bread
3 tbs pesto (or marinara or tapanade or alfredo)
2-3 slices American cheese
½ cup shredded mozzarella
6 pieces of breaded eggplant (substitutions below)
olive oil

Directions:

Preheat the oven to 400-degrees.
Bake the eggplant in a flat layer for about 10-minutes or until heated through, flipping once (or pan fry or pop in a toaster oven)
Reduce heat to 250-degrees if both sandwiches don’t fit in the skillet at the same time.
Heat a large skillet or grill pan over medium heat.
Spread pesto onto one slice of bread for each sandwich (or both pieces of both sandwich if you LOVE pesto).
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Layer American cheese, then eggplant, then mozzarella onto each sandwich.
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Drizzle olive oil into the pan and put sandwiches in.
Cook a few minutes, until the crispness of your preference, before gently flipping over.
Cook on the 2nd side a few minutes and serve immediately (or keep 1st sandwich warm in the oven until the 2nd sandwich is ready.

I loved this. Mr. J did too. I didn’t want the pesto to overtake all the flavors, but I could have upped it to both sides. I loved the marinara for dipping. The eggplant had a perfect crispness even surrounded by cheese.

Now, for the cheese. Don’t judge the American cheese in there. Other cheeses (more fancy, more authentic, more worldly cheeses) will not melt as perfectly as American cheese. I may have snuck a little sprinkle of Parmesan in there too. Maybe.
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The eggplant is an easy thing I grab at Trader Joe’s and keep in the freezer. It makes for a super easy & quick Eggplant Parmesan or sub, or pizza. No eggplant? No problem! Another veggie would be good too, or bread your own! I like the breaded eggplant for the crunch, so the sandwich doesn’t get too soggy, but maybe grilled zucchini/eggplant/summer squash is right for you! Chop up some artichokes or roasted red peppers or whatever you have!

This is kind of like lazy-man’s pizza or pizza-leftovers in a hurry. The possibilities are ENDLESS!

Black Bean and Squash Veggie Burgers

My event is over, I’m back from vacation, work isn’t stressful anymore, and there are no more excuses. Time to eat real food and better food. Time to cut the crap…so to speak. Last night Mr. J was wanting dessert. I was glad he didn’t end up suggesting a trip to our fav local ice cream place. I might not have had the will power to say go without me. I need to get back on track.

What a perfect segway to veggie burgers! I love them and don’t make them nearly enough. Homemade ones are sooo much better than store bought ones.
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I get it that folks dismiss them. I’m not vegetarian, but I can’t eat beef so I kind of have to like them. People who are lucky enough to eat beef without a problem don’t really understand and can mock them all they want. I love all the flavors, condiments, and options for burgers. I usually make chicken burgers and some restaurants offer turkey burgers and they are pretty good substitutes. It is just such a quintessential summer food I miss out on.

These are so simple, filling, hot-of-the-grill, and hearty. Veggie burgers are filling but not stuffed-can’t-think-about-food-again kind of burgers. I’ve made them with eggplant which I like but the nuttiness of the oatmeal and the crunch from the sunflower seeds is so great. My friend Flying on Jessfuel made Sweet Potato & Pecan burgers a million years ago before we had blogs. The butternut squash in these brought me back to that million-degree apartment in Boston way back when.

Black Bean & Squash Burgers

Ingredients:

1 can black beans
1 cup butternut squash cooked (I used frozen, mostly defrosted)
1/4 cup chopped onion
2 tsp garlic, chopped
1 cup oatmeal
1/2 cup sunflower seeds
2 tbs olive oil or 1 egg
1/4 cup cheddar cheese, shredded/chopped/grated
1 tsp onion powder
salt & pepper

Directions:

Rinse and drain black beans.
Add black beans, butternut squash (mine was still a touch frozen/frosty), onion, and garlic to a food processor.
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Pulse for a few seconds until mixed leaving some black bean chunks.
Mix black bean mixture with oatmeal, sunflower seeds, egg, cheese, onion powder, and some salt & pepper.
Form into patties

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Grill until crisp on the outside. Flip once, gently.
Serve on a bun with all the traditional burger ‘fixings or on salad or in a pita or bunless.
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I topped mine with avocado, ketchup, and some whole grain mustard we’re obsessed with on the bottom. It was so good. I froze the other 3 burgers separated by parchment. They’re ready and waiting for the next burger night!

Mr. J saw me whipping these together (he formed his own beef burger) and saw something orange go in from the freezer. Mango? Hahaha, nope! That frozen butternut squash wasn’t our fav and it hung around so long he didn’t even think of it. He magically grilled this bad boy to perfection while I feared it would fall apart. He’s the grill-master for sure.

(p.s. wish him a happy birthday tomorrow!)

What I Ate: Baked Falafel

Falafel is one of those sneaky take out items that seems so healthy but…

they’re fried. Womp. Womp.

I make it at home somewhat regularly and bake them. It is so much easier, less messy, and healthier.
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I’ve made them from scratch and honestly don’t really think it is worth it. I use a mix, bake them on a cookie sheet for 10 minutes at 375 degree and flip once. Leave the frying to your fav Falafel King/Palace/House-Of…you won’t even miss the fried crunchy outside.

The mixes taste good and are simple. Simple as in just-add-water. In the time it takes to get these buggers toasty and cooked through your salad can be ready and waiting. Toss feta, cukes, tomatoes, and greens with some Italian/Caesar/Oil & Vinegar.
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I love this as a perfect meatless dinner or I’ve served it as an app with little pita pockets. It is an easy meal to bring somewhere since you’ll just need refrigeration and maybe the falafel can get nuked or popped in the toaster oven. This time I served it on wheat naan but tortilla wraps, pita pockets are great too.
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Try it and I won’t even have to say told-ya-so.

Eggplant Parmesan Pizza

My pizza today isn’t really Memorial Day themed, but it is a winner. New England’s weather hasn’t really been Memorial Day themed either. I’m not complaining though. I got the good weather when I needed it. My freezer was getting a bit out of control and I was wanting to use some ingredients. I dug around and found some frozen bredded eggplant, courtesy of Trader Joe’s. I thought I’d introduce Mr. J to it via pizza. It was delicious.
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This is so good. The eggplant is delightfully crispy while the ricotta is creamy and the mozzarella is stretchy. There are such good flavors and textures while being a Love.

Ingredients:

6 slices of bredded eggplant
pizza dough
1 1/2 cups marinara
2 tbs basil, chopped
8 oz shredded mozzarella
2 tbs Italian seasoning
1/2 cup ricotta cheese
2 tbs Parmesan cheese

Directions:

Bake eggplant slices for about 10 minutes, flipping once.
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Prebake pizza crust for 10 minutes until it starts to harden on the outside slightly.
Top with marinara and basil.
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Shake on some Italian Seasoning after topping with shredded mozzarella.
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Top with eggplant, and dollops of ricotta.
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Return to the oven and bake for 5-7 more minutes until all the cheese melts. Sprinkle with Parmesan before serving and let sit 3-5 minutes before slicing.
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I loved this one. Ricotta on pizza is to die for. It is perfectly melty and adds some soft texture. I thought it was a nice in-between of kind of a topping and kind of the base.

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Fontina Mac & Cheese with a Warm Brussels Sprouts Salad

I know, I know. There are too many decadent not-springy dishes, but I’ve been a bit backlogged. This is worth it. Maybe we all will keep needing a little comfort here in Boston. The recent Boston Marathon events have shaken me. I work in large scale athletic fundraising events (not as large as the marathon) and it all hits close to home. I’m guiltily reminded that I said a few weeks ago that “this is almost the worst thing that could happen” when one of my sites bumped me for another event. No, that is not the worst thing that could ever happen. I’m mixed between whining that it isn’t fair, that this is a time honored tradition, it is inspiring/impressive/astounding and feeling so badly for people doing a really positive thing. The logistics in me feels for the BAA who will forever be changed.

Mr. J works just blocks away, on the same street, and I was just paralyzed by ‘what could be.’  I was so thankful to get home, together, and just process. It was scary to wonder if it was better to stay put or to go to a huge train station. Knowing the cell towers were off made it more nerve wracking. Social media luckily allowed me to see the runners I knew were safe and the event staff I know made it home ok.

Now onto the food. When everything else is uncertain dinner is exactly what I need. I planned to make some really good mac and cheese but I was thinking of topping it with Lay’s new Cheesy Garlic Bread flavored chips, but the grocery store was totally sold out for several weeks. (Yes, this crossed my mind a few times so I gave in trying to make it happen.) Unsurprisingly, there were plenty of chicken & waffle flavored chips? I thought those were too weird, even for me, so I ended up with some interesting looking Feta & Rosemary flavored Cape Cod chips instead.

While I was exploring the chip aisle, I knew something healthy but interesting should go with this. Like something green. Enter: brussels sprouts!
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Warm Brussels Sprouts Salad

Ingredients:

3 cups raw brussels sprouts
2 tbs creamy stone ground mustard
1 tsp garlic, chopped
1 tbs red wine vinegar (or cidar vinegar)
2 tbs butter
Salt & pepper

Directions:

Trim brussels sprouts at end and tear of petals, discarding the very center
In a flat pan, over medium low heat, melt butter, mustard, garlic, and vinegar for 1-2 minutes.
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Bring pan to medium and add in the brussels sprout petals.
Stir and cook for another 2-3 minutes.
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Sprinkle with salt and pepper before serving.
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The warm brussels sprout salad has some creaminess from the butter and some tang from the mustard. I think the flavors are light and delightful. This would go with anything. The centers of the brussels sprout is the bitter part so this dish comes out mild and fresh.

I think this sauce would be really good on roasted broccoli or carrots too.

Fontina Mac & Cheese topped with Potato Chips

Ingredients:

1/4 cup butter
1/4 cup flour
3/4 lbs pipette pasta
8 oz fontina, chopped/shredded
8 oz sharp cheddar, chopped/shredded
2 tbs Parmesan, grated
1 egg yolk
1 cup low fat milk
3/4 cup half and half
salt & pepper
1 cup crushed potato chips (or breadcrumbs)

Directions:

Over medium low heat, add butter and flour to a medium saucepan.
While butter and flour form a roux, let it turn from bright butter-yellow to summer-tan-sandish color to cook the flour taste out.
Boil water for the pasta.
Add milk and cream, stirring to smooth out.
Cook pasta to al dente being careful not to overcook.
Add cheeses, reserving 1/4 cup of each for later.
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Stir/whisk until creamy and smooth.
Preheat oven to 375 degrees.
Add drained pasta to the cheese sauce saucepan stirring to incorporate.
Add egg yolk and remaining cheese (this is where you get some stringy/gooey parts).
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Pour into a greased baking dish.
Top with breadcrumbs or crushed chips on the top.
Bake for 20 minutes.
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The mac and cheese was so good. The egg yolk and dynamic cheeses make this creamy and decadent. Sometimes I add a squirt of dijon mustard but I didn’t want it to seem too matchy-matchy to my brussels sprout salad.

I love mixing cheeses. Fontina is mild and nutty. Parmesan adds a subtle saltiness but isn’t the best melting cheese. The chips had a great herby flavor without being quite as fake flavored as it could be.

Let’s just let it go that Lay’s decided to make Chicken and Waffle flavored chips. Some things will never be forgotten, but yeah, I think we should all forget that these chips happened. mmmk?