July 2022 Recap

June was confusing but July was exciting! I got and started my new job! I was grateful to be so so so far in the process when my role was eliminated. I was in weird limbo and unsure what would be next so I was glad to move right into this one! I’m glad to work through this and be in a routine before school starts. 

This month I made the most summery dessert snack: s’mores cheeseball! The kids didn’t care that much about this one either way but maybe that’s because they’d be happy to roast a marshmallow in any weather.

The Three Bite Rule - S'mores Dip

Strawberry Lemonade & Basil Cocktail was such a highlight. Cocktails (or mocktails) are such a fun way to liven up any regular day. I tested these babies and tweaked it before blogging them to have lots of strawberry!

Strawberry Lemonade & Basil Cocktail - The Three Bite Rule

Turmeric Couscous Salad was nice to give a side dish some love. I tend to go more basic on the sides but a little splash of orange juice was a great dressing for this one and it is great the next day too. The little girl and I ate leftovers by the pool!

The Three Bite Rule - Turmeric Couscous Salad

August blog posts will be some more summery things – a burger, some prime-time produce (peaches- I’m looking at you!), another cocktail, and maybe some no-cook dinner ideas in case it is just so hot. We’ll celebrate a 4th birthday and have time at the beach. 

The Little Girl:
She’s very very into swimming now and it is so fun to see. She keeps discovering things that she can do now that she’s “big”. She told her teachers she didn’t have goggles “when she was a little girl” and now she has some. Like always, she could eat her weight in cheese.

The Big Guy:
He’s loved camps this summer. We found much better ones this year and he loves swimming and archery at one and was into the classes the teachers have at another camp held at school. His motion sickness has been off the charts, and being physically tired and hot doesn’t help.

Goals:
Year of nail polish! I got this aqua one in the very end of June but didn’t use it until July but I didn’t love it.
More international food inspiration: nope.
More soups/salads: we had caesar a few times, does that count?
More apps: nope.
More fun drinks: Yes! Strawberry Lemonade Cocktail with Basil, and I had (iced) tea time most days while I was home.
Updating photos: not this month
What I’m reading: Sure did! I read Counterfeit which was very fun and fast paced. Bookclub read The Underground Railroad and I loved it – so creative. I read a YA book, The Henna Wars, that I didn’t love, but maybe the YAs would?
What I’m watching: Great Food Truck Race
What I’m listening to: I blew through Land of the Giants and have listened to most seasons – the food delivery season was the best.

S’mores Cheeseball

Heat like this calls for no-cook treats- plus all the AC/pool trips/popsicles you can find. This cheeseball dip is all the flavors of s’mores that you love, without sitting by a hot fire while it is 90-something degrees around here.

The Three Bite Rule - S'mores Dip

S’mores Dip
Ingredients:

8 oz cream cheese, softened
1/4 cup confectioners sugar
1 tsp vanilla extract
5 graham crackers crushed into crumbs + ~8-10 graham crackers broken into quarters
1 1/3 cup mini chocolate chips
1 cup mini marshmallow bits

Directions:
When cream cheese is softened, add in confectioners sugar, vanilla, most of the graham cracker crumbs, and 1/3 of the mini chocolate chips.

The Three Bite Rule - S'mores Dip

Mix well together with a spatula or hand mixer. Spoon onto plastic wrap and wrap it up to chill for at least 2 hours or overnight.
Before serving, cover the outside in the remaining graham cracker crumbles, remaining mini chips, and the marshmallows.

The Three Bite Rule - S'mores Dip

Use a spoon to pack the “crust” around the cheeseball.
Serve with graham crackers to dip. Enjoy!

The Three Bite Rule - S'mores Dip

This was fun – and addicting. The dip is soft and creamy with a tang of the cream cheese but with the sweet and crunch. Mix it up and bring out a cool dessert that appeals to all ages.

These mini freeze-dried marshmallows are perfect here, BUT, skip the marshmallows and swap the cream cheese with ricotta and poof! You’ve got cannoli dip! We used the mini marshmallows in hot chocolate bombs and in some trail mix and in Hot Chocolate Muddy Buddies.

Strawberry Lemonade & Basil Cocktail

Cheers! Starting with lemonade, these cocktails get some muddled strawberries and basil and a splash of lemon vodka. They’re sweet and fresh. Make one or these would be great as a pitcher batch to spike as desired.

Strawberry Lemonade & Basil Cocktail - The Three Bite Rule

I love love love the herbs in a cocktail. I’ve been adding our boatloads of mint to my water and to iced tea so the basil flavor was a welcome change.

Strawberry Lemonade & Basil Cocktails:
Ingredients (for 2):

~6 strawberries, halved or quartered
1 teaspoon of sugar (or simple syrup)
3-4 basil leaves
2 cups lemonade
1-2 oz lemon vodka

Directions:
Split the strawberries into 2 glasses and add a sprinkle of sugar (or simple syrup) and muddle a few times to crush them. Use a cocktail muddle or the handle of a spoon.
Then add in the basil and gently muddle once or twice.

Strawberry Lemonade & Basil Cocktail - The Three Bite Rule

Pour in the lemonade and the vodka and stir well. Top off with ice and another strawberry or basil leaf to garnish. Add in ice and stir again.
Cheers!

Strawberry Lemonade & Basil Cocktail - The Three Bite Rule

I loved this. I made it first and was too aggressive muddling the basil (thus, why they’re best done separately) and I wanted more strawberry. We had just gone strawberry picking so these were the best of the best BUT muddling would really bring even grocery store ones to life!

Turmeric Couscous Salad

This couscous has chewy cranberries, fresh mint, and a citrus dressing. Side dishes are tricky to have energy for or coordination for, but this has just a few ingredients and is great made ahead of time – who doesn’t need a dinner head start?!

The Three Bite Rule - Turmeric Couscous Salad

Turmeric Couscous Salad
Ingredients (for 4):

1 cup Israeli couscous
1/2 cup dried cranberries
3/4 cup orange juice (mine was orange tangerine)
2 tablespoons olive oil
1 tablespoon turmeric
fresh mint

Directions:
Cook the couscous and allow it to cool.

The Three Bite Rule - Turmeric Couscous Salad

Mix in the juice, olive oil, cranberries, turmeric, and fresh mint. Add a sprinkle of salt and pepper to taste.
Chill until serving.

The Three Bite Rule - Turmeric Couscous Salad

Add another splash of juice before serving, if needed.

We have so so much mint so I could have added even more. The orange juice dressing and the fresh mint are really the dominant flavors here.

This was nice for variety since the kids will eat any form of pasta anytime but the turmeric added a pop of color we don’t see all the time. One kid ate tons, one ate some without strong feelings either way but overall I’d say it’s a winner and something I’d make again. The sweetness goes well with sausages or grilled chicken or falafel, or would definitely be of interest at your next BBQ!

June 2022 Recap

June is a blur, let’s focus on the food.

The Birthday Burger was such a winner. The bacon jam + homemade parmesan peppercorn dressing was a great combo. The jam is sweet and smokey and the parm peppercorn dressing is salty and creamy. Perfection I tell you.

The Three Bite Rule - Birthday Burger with Bacon Jam & Parmesan Peppercorn

Pickle de gallo wasn’t my idea, but it isn’t ever in my stores so I made my own and loved it with dill pickles with sweet pickles! Serve it with potato chips or tortilla chips or crackers, or on a taco! Your next BBQ definitely needs this dip.

The Three Bite Rule - Pickle de Gallo

Peanut Sesame Noodles were a re-do for one of our beloved dinners. It is so fast and adds great variety to pasta night! We eat them warm or cold and they are handy to have around for a quick meal.

The Three Bite Rule - Peanut Sesame Noodles

Salmon Cakes over Lemon Risotto was my use for frozen not-the-best-salmon. These would work well for any fish, crab, or shrimp too.

The Three Bite Rule - Salmon Cake & Lemon Risotto

The Little Girl:
She’s coloring obsessed once again and happy for all the outside time. She can down a whole popsicle now and loved some couscous I made. July will mean the start of a dance class and we’re all excited for her to try it! She is into a toddler bed and truly mastered night time potty training.

The Big Guy:
He’s done with 1st grade! The end of the year was a whirlwind. We had a last-day of school party that was so so fun. ~17 kids and ~13 parents came over for pizza, popsicles, and a bounce house. I cannot get over how much they learn in first grade. He loved reading, PE, recess, and library. Writing was his least fav. He’s enjoying some free time before summer day camps start in July. Food obsessions for him include hard boiled eggs, applesauce, ritz bits, and bubble gum.

I have no idea what July has in store for me. I have a couscous salad to share and then, who knows. Maybe a cocktail? Maybe tons of posts, maybe fewer. Stay tuned.

Goals:
Year of nail polish! I got one in the very end of June but didn’t use it yet- maybe it’ll be the July one!
More international food inspiration: I don’t think do.
More soups/salads: we had salad bar – does that count?
More apps: Yes! Pickle de Gallo and some phyllo cups with brie on an apps for dinner night.
More fun drinks: nope
Updating photos: Yes! Peanut Sesame Noodles got some updated pics!
What I’m reading: Lots! I read & loved Black Cake – one of the best books of the year. Last Summer at the Golden Hotel was a fun summery read that isn’t a beach romance. I read Taste Makers: Seven Immigrant Women who Revolutionized Food in America which was pretty good, maybe better as audio? I read Beautiful World Where Are You and didn’t get the hype like others but it has such a following that others definitely love it.
What I’m watching: Battle on the Beach for ocean rentals has been good
What I’m listening to: I shake my fist at the patriarchy with Be There in Five podcast.

Birthday Burger – Bacon Jam & Parmesan Peppercorn

Happy Birthday Mr J! The birthday burger was belated and became doubled up with Father’s Day – our guy is such a trooper. We were all about the toppings this year – bacon jam and parmesan peppercorn dressing! These beauties had lots of melty cheese and brioche rolls.

The Three Bite Rule - Birthday Burger with Bacon Jam & Parmesan Peppercorn

Bacon jam is delicious and definitely worth it. In a pinch, 3 parts crumbled bacon finely chopped + 1 part apple cider vinegar + 1 part maple syrup is a great quick fix.

Burgers with Bacon Jam & Parmesan Peppercorn Dressing
Ingredients: (for 4 burgers)

1 pound ground meat
4 tablespoons bacon jam (that’s ~1/3 of what the batch above makes)
2 tablespoons mayo
1 tablespoon sour cream
1-2 teaspoons milk
2 teaspoons grated Parmesan cheese
1/2 teaspoon black pepper
sprinkle of salt
sprinkle of garlic powder
4-6 slices of cheese
4 brioche buns
arugula

Directions:
Make the bacon jam ahead of time.
Form the burger patties and preheat the grill.
For the dressing, mix together the mayo, sour cream, some of the milk (adding more if needed later), parmesan cheese, pepper, salt, and garlic powder. Add remaining milk if you find it too thick (think: spreadable not quite like dressing).
Cook the burgers to your preference – we did some ground beef, some ground pork.
Top with lots of cheese and let that melt.
Assemble the burgers with a smear of parmesan peppercorn dressing on each bun half, arugula, the burger and top with bacon jam.

The Three Bite Rule - Birthday Burger with Bacon Jam & Parmesan Peppercorn

Enjoy!

I loved this combo. The bacon jam is complex – sweet and a tiny tang and the coffee and red wine adds some serious depth. The parm peppercorn dressing is so much better than the jar. I liked making a small amount – and will do so again another time – it would be delightful on a turkey sandwich!

The Three Bite Rule - Birthday Burger with Bacon Jam & Parmesan Peppercorn

The Historical Timeline of the Birthday Burgers:
2021 it was a Waffle Breakfast Burger with ground sausage in the patty, maple aoli, and melted gouda.
2020 it was a BLT burger with ground bacon IN the burger and tomato jam
2019 it was a Manchego Burger with manchego, quince jam, and arugula
2018 it was a Garlic Lovers Burger with garlic butter, chips, garlic aoli and white cheddar.
2017 it was an Ultimate Mexican Burger with queso, guac, and beans.
2016 it was a Mac & Cheese Stuffed Burger topped with bacon, onions, and tomato.
2015 it was a Picnic Burger with slaw & potato sticks
2014 it was a German Burger with horseradish, caramelized onions, pickles and a pretzel roll
2013 it was a Vermont Burger with maple mayo, cheddar, bacon, and spinach
2012 it was a Bacon Wrapped Burger – enough said
2011 it was a Stuffed Burger stuffed with bacon & cheddar or bacon & blue cheese

Pickle de Gallo

Pickle lovers unite! This idea is by Grillo’s Pickles, but I never see it sold in my stores so I made my own. Eat it like a dip, put it on a burger/dog and you’ll love it on a taco.

The Three Bite Rule - Pickle de Gallo

Pickle de Gallo
Ingredients: (as dip for ~4)

~3/4 cup dill pickles (~4-5 spears)
~3/4 cup sweet pickles (mine were bread & butter chips)
1/2 cup tomatoes
1/4 white onion
2 cups baby arugula (or a bunch of cilantro or parsley)
3 tablespoons vegetable oil
1/2 cup pickle juice (some dill & some sweet)

Directions:
Chop the pickles, tomatoes, onion, and greens/herbs.

The Three Bite Rule - Pickle de Gallo

Add it all to a bowl and stir in the oil and pickle juices. Stir well and refrigerate at least an hour.

The Three Bite Rule - Pickle de Gallo

Serve as dip or as a topping. Enjoy!

The Three Bite Rule - Pickle de Gallo

We put this on pulled pork tacos the first time and ate the rest with tortilla chips. I became obsessed and made it again serving it with crackers and another time with potato chips. It is so addicting. I love having bringing an offering that is vegetarian/dairy-free/gluten free (depending on your dipper) and fresh!

The mix of pickles is the key – it would be so strong with only dill pickles so definitely try it with both. I used greens for freshness (and once because cilantro is polarizing and I wasn’t sure if the group is into that). We all need more veggies, right?

It is flavorful and crunchy – make some and tell all the pickle puns. 😉



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.

Salmon Cakes with Lemon Risotto

We love salmon but I had some not-great salmon from the grocery store that I really needed to use. The salmon from Costco is 100x better so this sub-par stuff seemed best suited to become a crispy cake with some powerful flavors like lemon and dijon.

The Three Bite Rule - Salmon Cake & Lemon Risotto

Swap the rice for any grain you like, just don’t forget the lemon. Swap the salmon for any flaky fish, crab, shrimp, or canned salmon/tuna. Add a drizzle of tahini, or dijon + mayo, or cracked peppercorn salad dressing.

Salmon Cakes and Lemon Risotto:
Ingredients: (for 2 dinner/3 lunch portions)

1/4 white or yellow onion
1 garlic clove, chopped
1 cup arborio rice
1 cup chicken broth
1/2 cup white wine
1/2 lemon
~6 oz salmon, chopped or forked apart
1 egg, whisked
1/3 cup panko breadcrumbs, toasted
2 tablespoons dijon
1 teaspoon garlic, minced
1/2 teaspoon seasoning (I used Zatar or TJ’s Mushroom Umami or Todd’s Dirt or Italian Seasoning)
3 tablespoons olive oil
1 tablespoon butter

Directions:
Prepare the risotto (in a pot for ~30 minutes, or I used the pressure cooker cooking for 6 minutes). Sauté the onion and garlic in butter and olive oil. Then add in the rice and broth/wine mix.

The Three Bite Rule - Salmon Cake & Lemon Risotto

Mix up the salmon, egg, panko, spices, salt and pepper.

The Three Bite Rule - Salmon Cake & Lemon Risotto

Stir well and preheat a pan with olive oil and butter.

The Three Bite Rule - Salmon Cake & Lemon Risotto

Form into patties and pan sear for ~4 minutes on each side, flipping just once. (I used silicone egg molds to keep them together while the first side cooked.) Once seared on each side, remove from oil onto paper towels.
When the risotto is cooked, remove from the heat, and juice half a lemon into it. Stir and spoon into 2 bowls.
Top each bowl with a salmon cake.

The Three Bite Rule - Salmon Cake & Lemon Risotto

I drizzled with a little lemon/dijon/mayo/peppercorn aoli and some chives.
Enjoy!

This is such a great meal. I would definitely order this kind of thing at a restaurant but having at home is so special but still easy. This absolutely is NOT a pack-for-work lunch, no fish is a work lunch. I froze a portion for another time. I have visions of getting home some night after baseball and getting the kids to bed and having something delicious to unearth from the freezer when cheez-its aren’t going to cut it.

The Three Bite Rule - Salmon Cake & Lemon Risotto

I wouldn’t put it past me to lightly dress some arugula and toss it on top, or some green beans, or some tomatoes to make this a fully balanced meal. 😉 I loved it.

May 2022 Recap

May has been a very full month. Lots of outside time, swimming, work events, birthday parties for kids, baseball games, and already pool time! World news is breaking my heart and it has also been a month of transition as daycare kept closing preschool and sent us looking for alternatives – guess how fun that is…

In the kitchen, we’re onto springy foods and faster meals.

My fav was this Mexican-inspired side dish with black beans, avocados, tomatoes, cheese, and a cilantro lime dressing. Loved it. This helped amp up taco night with a side that was a bit more special than just black beans, or just avocado.

The Three Bite Rule - Black Bean & Avocado Salad

For one of our apps-for-dinner nights I made some Lemon & Herb Deviled Eggs. They’re fresh tasting and filling and they hit the spot for variety amongst apps.

The Three Bite Rule - Lemon Herb Deviled Eggs

My passion for rice bowls runs deep- all the good bites with decadence (cheese & drizzles) with some fresh elements (greens! tomatoes!) and the filling aspects (veggie burger & brown rice). This burger rice bowl was a great lunch, it would pack well, and feels like a complete meal, all in a bowl!

The Three Bite Rule - Burger Bowl

June has me very excited for a weekend away, Mr. J’s birthday burger, and I have some strawberry and lemon aspirations.

The Little Girl:
She started a new preschool! I love how easy-going she is amongst changes in schedules. It is exciting for her. She is going to have a great swimming summer! Even in just 2 early pool times we’ve already seen how big she is, the confidence, and her willingness to try more than last year. It is very fun to see. I feel like she’s eating a bit more consistently and is loving cottage cheese and Ritz-Bits right now.

The Big Guy:
He’s having fun at baseball and overcame his hesitation for new environments for birthday parties this month – I’m really proud to see it. He is thrilled for shorts season. We’re glad he got some grandparent sleepovers and this season becomes being outside for all waking hours.

Goals:
Year of nail polish! I got a few Olive & June ones at once and this month was a coral one for April (this one)
More international food inspiration: Umm. Maybe not.
More soups/salads: this black bean & avocado salad!
More apps: Yes! Brie & Cranberry Cups!
More fun drinks: Not really, but tis the season for sangria and cocktails
Updating photos: Nope, not this month
What I’m reading: I’ve had a bit of a reading rut. I read Olga Dies Dreaming and looooved it. Then I read Beautiful Little Fools and was more into it than the OG Great Gatsby. I muscled through No One is Talking About This and I didn’t get it, do not recommend.
What I’m watching: Stanley Tucci’s Searching for Italy is back!!
What I’m listening to: ‘Sounds Like a Cult’ is my new fav podcast