Asian Salad with Peanut Butter Chicken

This salad is sooo easy and only took a few special touches to make it something special. This Asian-inspired salad is the perfect meal to make dinner seem different. If you cook and shred the chicken in advance, this would be a 10 minute meal! I also might skip the chicken on the salad and grill some sesame garlic wing to go with this.

The Three Bite Rule - Asian Salad with Peanut Butter Chicken

Ingredients:

3 chicken tenders, each cut in half
8 oz Broccoli slaw
2-3 tbs sesame soy vinaigrette (bottled or 1 tsp sesame oil, 1 tbs rice vinegar, 1 tsp soy sauce whisked together)
1/4 peanut butter
2 tbs soy sauce
1/2 cup edemame, shelled and cooked
orange segments (or packaged Mandarin oranges with no sugar added)
1/2 cup cashews
1/4 cup crispy wonton strips (found in the produce area, or make your own)

Directions:

Bring a pot of water to a low boil. Then add the chicken. Cook for about ten minutes. Check that it is cooked through, if not keep cooking.
Toss broccoli slaw with dressing in a large bowl.
The Three Bite Rule - Asian Salad with Peanut Butter Chicken
When cool enough to handle, shred the chicken.
In a small pot add the peanut butter on low, stirring occasionally until melted.
Stir in the soy sauce, and remove from the heat.
The Three Bite Rule - Asian Salad with Peanut Butter Chicken
Toss the shredded chicken into the peanut sauce to coat well.
The Three Bite Rule - Asian Salad with Peanut Butter Chicken
Top the salad with orange segments, edemame, cashews, crispy wonton strips, and chicken.
The Three Bite Rule - Asian Salad with Peanut Butter Chicken
I loved this. I could eat this regularly. The chicken feels kind of heavy and thick from the peanut butter, but the sharpness of the broccoli slaw dressing balances it. The sweet oranges are bright with lots of crisp texture from the nuts and wonton strips. The broccoli slaw was a welcome change from other greens. I love it.

This is such a cheap one, especially since it uses very little chicken.

Cost breakdown of Asian Salad with Peanut Butter Chicken:

(cost per quantity that was used)
broccoli slaw: $2.00
chicken tenders: $2.50
edemame: $0.25
packaged oranges: $1.00
cashews: $1.50
wonton strips: $1.00
total = $8.25 for 3 servings, or $2.75 per person

You might be able to grab the edemame from the salad bar, which would make it super cheap without any leftovers. The wonton strips aren’t totally necessary with the nuts so you could skip one or the other if you wanted to simplify a bit.

I’ll totally make this again.

Quick Cinco de Mayo Menu Ideas

It is already Cinco de Mayo. Here are a few ideas you can throw together in a jiffy IF you want to be all themey today and hadn’t already thought about it. My themey-ness is limited because my brain is about maxed out in preparedness for a huge work event on Thursday. Ease and auto-pilot are the names of the game this week. I do love how quick tacos can be though…

Here’s what I wish I were serving 😉

Flautas filled with beef, chicken, pork, veggies, etc: They’re super quick and easy to prep. They’re a great appetizer or main dish. I love the crunch + cheese in one cute little roll-up. Mix up some ranch + taco seasoning for a creamy drizzle with a kick!

The Three Bite Rule - Pork Flauta
Grilled Pineapple Salsa: this is so easy, you could also grill some pineapple and just add that + black beans to your regular ole jar-o’salsa. Serve it with chips or on top of some chicken. Your call.
pineapple_salsa_mixed_590_390

If you’re celebrating a bit later, you neeeed to mix up this bean dish. They’re sweet & tart and I hesitate to call it bean salad because that isn’t quite what it is, but bean dip isn’t quite right either. It needs to marinate for a few hours, or overnight. I make this often, as a side dish or to add onto tacos, or with chips. It keeps a few days and is great on a salad. Try it, you’ll convert everyone.
bean_ready_590_390
Go beyond your average tacos by using pulled pork
The Three Bite Rule - BBQ Pulled Pork Tacos
Or if tortillas + cheese + eggs are all you can will yourself to grab for a fiesta then Huevos Rancheros it is!
guest_huevos_rancheros_plate_590_390
I love taco pizzas like this or taco pizzas like this
or taco inspired burgers are great

adios!

What I Ate: His & Hers Caesar Salad

What I Ate’ is a series of posts for so-easy-this-doesn’t-need-a-recipe but I’m sharing with you for the idea or inspiration.

I love caesar salad for the fresh greens, the salty Parmesan, and crunchy croutons, and garlicky dressing. It isn’t the healthiest salad, but it is ohh-so-good. It made for such a quick dinner to welcome spring. The simplicity is the charm.

I topped mine with grilled shrimp. I squirted the shrimp with a touch of lemon, salt, and pepper. They only needed to grill for a few minutes for the charred flavor.

The Three Bite Rule - Caesar Salad with Grilled Shrimp
Mr. J had his topped with steak. The steak marinated all day in a teriyaki marinade.

The Three Bite Rule - Caesar Salad with Grilled Steak
I toasted a few slices of wheat bread, tossed with olive oil, Italian seasoning, and salt. Instant croutons! While the steak & shrimp was grilling, I whipped up a quick caesar dressing I’ve made before.

Sometimes the easiest meals are exactly what I want. Other times I want lots of complicated components juggling more than is necessary for a random week night. It was awesome to blend the dressing, toss the salad together, and get the grill going. I had everything made, cleaned up, and plated by the time the steak & shrimp was off the grill. #winning

April Recap

Happy spring! I’m loving these warm and sunny days. I don’t hate the cool days. They’re like one last chance to wear a sweater or to eat cold-weather-food.

April has been good to me. Work is pretty busy with a big event right around the corner. I’m so thankful that I’m not crazy and at my wit’s end, like I have been for years at this point before my May events. It is so great to have this job. Although it is busy, I still have energy for getting to the gym, and making meals…so some of the meals are focused on quick and springy ideas.

Parisian Burger was hands down the best recipe I’ve made in a loooong time. Rosemary, garlic, mustard, truffle mayo, an egg, and arugula were unbelievable for this burger.
The Three Bite Rule - Parisian Burger

I hadn’t made breakfast in awhile so I came up with Chunky Monkey Pancakes with chocolate chunks, banana, and walnuts.
The Three Bite Rule - Chunky Monkey Pancakes
It had been wayyy too long since I shared a book for foodies. I didn’t looove this one, but I thought it was interesting. It got me drinking more water…well, the book or my fitbit person icon.
The Three Bite Rule - Book: French Women Don't Get Fat
I also made a Chicken Bacon Ranch Pasta that was full of flavor.
The Three Bite Rule - Chicken Bacon Ranch Pasta
I whipped up a few calzones, but the sausage and pepper calzone was the better of the two. I’m glad I used some different cheeses. It’s a good reminder how to tweak or make some changes to keep a calzone feeling fresh and different.
The Three Bite Rule - Sausage & Peppers Calzone
April was definitely a busy month of work, a weekend to Maine, and some yard work. There are some bulbs popping up and my chives are already thriving. We have some grand plans for the yard. Mr. J is making a compost bin and I’m psyched. We definitely need better soil and I’m glad to put those coffee grounds to better use. Just you wait to see the pics of it….very impressive.

In terms of my goals: 
Buy myself flowers more often – The Year of having-more-flowers featured daffodils for April and some in the ground are sprouting! #totallycounts
send more mail – one card came back in the mail, but 3 birthday cards made it to their destinations this month!
make some Pinterest pins a reality 
cook with yeast (yikes!)
try a spin class
make more cocktails – I made one for bfast with white hot chocolate, some reduced coffee syrup, and Bailey’s but it wasn’t feeling photo worthy…should I post it? Then, not quite a cocktail, but I did buy some blood orange Italian soda this month and it has been an ahhh-mazing change from water We also inherited a cra-zy amount of milk at Easter so the focus has been milk, milk, milk! I enjoyed a blood orange margarita so I guess that counts, even if I didn’t make it myself.

follow me on insta @emilyran to see how often I post puppies, food, and flowers. See ya in May!

Bruschetta Burgers

I really shouldn’t exhaust all my burger toppings before Mr. J’s bday in June. I always make a special never-before-had burger and I just made this Parisian Burger which was unbelievable. Now a rockstar bruschetta topped burger? How am I gonna top this one too? Seriously. I’m asking. How am I gonna come up with a special one in June?

The Three Bite Rule - Bruschetta Burger

Ingredients:

1/2 pound ground beef, chicken, turkey
2 burger buns
sea salt & black pepper
1/2 tsp garlic, chopped
6-8 fresh basil leaves, rolled up and chopped chiffonade
tomato, chopped
1 tsp Italian Dressing
2 slices fresh mozzarella
3 tbs mayo
1 tsp balsamic vinegar

Directions:

Heat the grill, or grill pan.
Mix the ground meat with a teaspoon of the chopped basil, garlic, salt and pepper.

The Three Bite Rule - Bruschetta Burger
Form into two patties.
Grill the burgers.
While burgers are cooking, mix together the tomato, basil, and salad dressing.

The Three Bite Rule - Bruschetta Burger
Mix together the mayo and balsamic.
Top the burgers on the grill with the mozzarella until melted.
Assemble the burgers with bruschetta topping and spread balsamic mayo onto the bun.

The Three Bite Rule - Bruschetta Burger
I loved this burger. I used ground chicken which cooked perfectly. It was juicy and the tomato and basil are a perfect match. The mozzarella stretched as far as a bite could take it, and the mayo had this fantastic tang. It was such an easy burger theme for anytime.

Leftover basil? Use it for creamy tomato basil pasta, or white bean and basil dip/spread, or strawberry basil sangria, or caprese stuffed chicken.

Any burger topping ideas I haven’t tried yet?

What I Ate: Taco Pizza

What I Ate’ is a series of posts for so-easy-this-doesn’t-need-a-recipe but I’m sharing with you for the idea or inspiration.

Add one to the successful pizza-dough alternatives! Making pizza on a tortilla is super easy and is like instant pizza. This is suuuuch a fast pizza and was a great use for a few small leftovers. I had a very small amount of ground chicken in the freezer and a few tortillas hanging around. It had tacos written all over it, but then I figured open faced tacos are taco pizza! This could adapt pretty easily to quesadilla pizza as a stacked tortilla: cheese: tortilla: cheese: toppings. I went lighter (and easier).

The Three Bite Rule - Taco Pizza

It was a hit and definitely didn’t seem like the burrito ingredients that had been dinner before.

Ingredients:

1/4 pound ground chicken/pork/turkey/beef
1 tbs taco seasoning (or a mix of dried garlic, chili powder, cumin & black pepper)
1 cup refried beans
8 oz shredded cheddar cheese
2-3 8″ tortillas
1 tomato
1-2 sprigs of green onion
salsa

Directions:

Preheat the oven to 375-degrees.
Heat a flat pan to medium heat.
Brown the ground meat, drain, and add taco seasoning.
The Three Bite Rule - Taco Pizza
While the meat is cooking, bake the tortillas on a baking sheet for 2 minutes on each side just to get a tiny bit crunchy so the toppings don’t make it soggy.
Then spread on the refried beans and a sprinkle of taco seasoning.
The Three Bite Rule - Taco Pizza
Add the cheese, ground meat, chopped tomatoes.
The Three Bite Rule - Taco Pizza
Bake for 10 minutes, until the cheese melts and the tortilla gets crunchy.
Sprinkle with green onions and salsa. Slice, and enjoy!
The Three Bite Rule - Taco Pizza
The beans on here absolutely take it from basic quesadilla to the next level. This taco pizza is a super quick dinner and uses such a small amount of ground meat. This is leftover central at it’s finest. The remaining refried beans can easily freeze until the next burrito/taco pizza time. The crispy tortilla is great and it fulfilled my “need” for Mexican.

You could top this with any cheese you had around (Monterey Jack, Pepper Jack, mozzarella, a mixture) , any veggies you have around (like corn, green peppers, green chili, etc), and top with any taco fillers you choose (like sour cream, black beans, avocado, guacamole, etc). The possibilities are endless and are an easy build-your-own.

This is dinner in 30 minutes, without running around like Rachael Ray.

I have made taco pizza as a regular pizza which was awesome, but this was a bit easier.
taco_crust_slice_590_390

Other dough-less pizzas I’ve made:
Bacon & Pear Flatbreads on Pita Bread
French Bread Pizza
Bubble Up BBQ Pizza
Bruschetta Pizza on Naan

Calzone with Cabbage and flavors of a Reuben

One of my favorite pizza places is Portland Pie Company. I love seeing what their seasonal menu offers. I spotted a reuben inspired sandwich and thought I could vegetarian-ize it to skip the corned beef. I made it into a calzone and it was totally different than any others I’ve made. It has cabbage, peppers, swiss cheese, caramelized onions, and 1000-island dressing.

The Three Bite Rule - Reuban Inspired Veggie Calzone

Ingredients:

pizza dough
1/2 cabbage
2 tbs red wine vinegar
1 tsp whole grain mustard
1/4 red onion
1/2 bell pepper (green, yellow, orange)
8 oz swiss cheese
1/4 cup mayo
2 tbs ketchup
2 tbs relish
2 tbs onion, finely diced
salt & black pepper

Directions:

Preheat oven (and pizza stone, if using one) to 400-degrees. Chop the cabbage into thin slivers. Heat a large skillet to medium heat. Add the mustard and the vinegar, stirring to combine. Add in the cabbage, tossing to combine. The Three Bite Rule - Reuban Inspired Veggie Calzone
Cook for 5 minutes until softened, then remove from the heat. In a small skillet, caramelize the onions over medium heat. When the onions get tan-colored and caramelized, add the green onion chunks. Cook for 3-5 minutes. In a small jar, add mayo, ketchup, relish, onion, salt, and black pepper. The Three Bite Rule - Reuban Inspired Veggie Calzone
Shake up the 1000 island jar and taste. The Three Bite Rule - Reuban Inspired Veggie Calzone
Stretch the pizza dough out into a flat and even circle. Lay the dough onto a pan or pizza stone so the part of the dough that will become the bottom. Layer the cabbage, the onions and peppers, swiss cheese, and some teaspoons of 1000 island dressing. The Three Bite Rule - Reuban Inspired Veggie Calzone
Keep layering all the fillings to fill (and what feels like over-filling) the calzone. Fold the top over and pinch to close. Cut a few slits in the top to vent. Bake 30-minutes. The Three Bite Rule - Reuban Inspired Veggie Calzone
Let rest 5 minutes before slicing. The Three Bite Rule - Reuban Inspired Veggie Calzone
This was good. Maybe not amazing, but really good. I loved the acid of the vinegar, the light mustard flavor, and the creamy sweet 1000 island dressing. The veggies were crunchy and I liked that the swiss got to shine. I don’t eat corned beef but I can definitely see people liking that.

suggested adaptations: 
Reuben calzone + corned beef = a true reuben calzone
reuben calzone – pizza dough + wonton wrappers = reuben eggrolls

I like the idea of sandwiches as calzones, or pizzas for that matter. I’ve done a cheeseburger calzone that is sandwich inspired, and a sausage and peppers calzone that is sort of like a sandwich. Hmmm. Maybe my next calzone will be along the lines of a sandwich.

Chicken Bacon Ranch Pasta

Today is a weird day. Our heartstrings are tight here today for the 118th Boston Marathon. Last year’s events don’t feel that long ago. I still can’t believe it and Boston is so small that it all felt like my back yard. The event production in me cringes that these terrible events forever change this race. The foodie in me feels badly that there were several restaurants nearby with servers and bartenders who are still dealing with it. Every time I listen to the first hand accounts I cannot keep the tears back.  I can’t believe how many people have suffered hearing disabilities. There are so many who are still recovering, and I feel sorry for those who will not recover.

I’m thankful to have today off, for the first time ever. Mom and I are letting the pups run in the yard, whipping up something fun for lunch, and we’re casually watching the marathon. It seems right to settle in, enjoy the little things, and be together. In honor of the Boston Marathon, I figured on this day I should post pasta. It seems marathon-y. Not that this pasta is appropriate pre-marathon but it is a treat. It is true comfort to share today.

The Three Bite Rule - Chicken Bacon Ranch Pasta

Ingredients:

2 slices bacon, chopped
2 chicken breasts, chopped and marinated in Italian dressing
3 tbs ranch dressing mix
3/4 pound of spaghetti or fettuccine
2 tsp butter
2 tsp flour
1 1/2 cup milk
2 cups arugula, diced

Directions:

Pan fry bacon until crisp. Remove and drain the bacon leaving the bacon grease in the pan.
The Three Bite Rule - Chicken Bacon Ranch Pasta
Add chicken to the bacon pan, and cook through stirring occasionally.
The Three Bite Rule - Chicken Bacon Ranch Pasta
Add in a tsp of ranch mix to the chicken.
Bring salted water to a boil for the pasta.
In a large saucepan over medium heat, melt the butter. Add in the flour and combine to a paste. Cook for 2-3 more minutes, then whisk in the milk.
Add the rest of the ranch mix, reserving 1 tsp separately. Reduce the heat to medium low.
The Three Bite Rule - Chicken Bacon Ranch Pasta
Cook the pasta until al dente.
Add the pasta to the chicken skillet, with the sauce (if large enough) over medium heat.
Add in the chicken, bacon, arugula, and remaining ranch mix, tossing well to combine. Cook for 2-5 more minutes until the sauce reduces a bit.
The Three Bite Rule - Chicken Bacon Ranch Pasta

This was so good. I loved this. The flavors were strong. I liked the peppery arugula and just enough bacon but lots of bacon flavor with the chicken. The ranch is really undeniable. It was so good. This is so good with strong elements so I was glad I didn’t muck it up with too many flavors…like cheese.

suggested adaptations:
premade sauce + a grocery store roasted chicken = an easier chicken bacon ranch pasta
chicken bacon ranch pasta – arugula + spinach + chopped tomato – half the ranch mix = lighter flavored chicken bacon ranch pasta

Easter Brunch Ideas

Spring is in the air and Easter is on the calendar. Here’s a quickie round-up of make-and-take brunch ideas or ideas if you are hosting your own Easter festivities.

The first rule of brunch, is not to make everything more complicated than it needs to be. Each thing you serve cannot be the most special thing ever. It is hard to make eggs, and waffles, and hashbrowns, and toast…unless you are in a diner. If you’re making something eggy, or pancake-y then do something easy with it like fruit you’ve prepped in advance, or muffins that are already made, or bagels with spreads that are ready to serve.

Quiche is a great brunch item that you’ll make in advance. Voila! Brunch is served! I made quiche lorraine recently and loved it. bacon + swiss cheese = delicious. Ms. L makes a killer tomato, basil, goat cheese quiche.
The Three Bite Rule - Quiche Lorraine
Going somewhere? Make your own granola and serve it with yogurt. I loved this maple peanut butter granola over coffee Greek yogurt, or vanilla, or coconut. It is very pack-able.
The Three Bite Rule - Maple Peanut Butter Granola

Make-your-own
this is the easiest way to serve a crowd and everyone will get what they want. It makes it fun and easily customizable for all ages.

build your own BLT bar:
bacon vs. canadian bacon? 2 lettuces, tomatoes, different breads, different spreads, avaocados, sprouts? you name it. It’s the perfect between breakfast & lunch. Maybe there are fried eggs to lean towards breakfast? Maybe there are cheeses? you. name. it.
Avocado BLT
Build your own yogurt parfait bar: 
granola, toasted coconut, strawberries, bananas, dried cranberries, walnuts, brown sugar, + whatever else you have.
Yogurt Parfait Bar
Salad bar: 
this takes the every-day side to a whole new level. Warm up a honey-baked ham, grab some good rolls, and spread out a salad bar and you’re done! Edemame, chickpeas, hardboiled eggs, cheese, and lots of veggies make it fresh and a meal in its own. Plan a salad bar as part of your meal or for those get the evening munchies hours after brunch.
The 3 Bite Rule - Salad Bar
Build your own grilled cheese:
give some bread options, a few cheeses, and then a few other add-ins will please all palates. I love a good grilled cheese. American cheese and cheddar have me easily won over on a grilled cheese. Prep some bacon, tomato slices, mustards, caramelized onions, ham, or whatever you love. You need a grill pan ready or a panini press.
grilled cheese with balsamic onions
pizza grilled cheese
bacon grilled cheese with peach compote

Build your own breakfast sandwich would be like my dream come true:
bagels, croissants, biscuits with cheese options, and a panful of eggs sounds like my idea of a good time. My fav bagel place does breakfast sandwiches with slices of egg and cheese omelets. That’s an easy way to make a bunch for a crowd. Offer bacon, sausage, ham, arugula, and tomato slices. Add some tortillas, black beans, and salsa for breakfast burritos.

Whip up a blender-ful of creamsicle smoothies. This is my favorite smoothie and I think everyone would love it. Add some champagne for a twist on a mimosa, or a splash of vanilla vodka for a spiked brunch bevvie
The Three Bite Rule - Creamsicle Smoothie
Lastly, the hands-down easiest festive breakfast is a cereal bar. Some milks and everyone brings a cereal and you have an instant cereal party. It is a fun pot-luck with no-cooking required.

Chunky Monkey Pancakes

Bananas are so deceiving. I mean the skin can be such a faker. Sometimes it loooooks like it is getting squishy and then you peel it and find a pretty fresh banana. I had bananas that looked like they weren’t going to make it another day so I planned to add them to some weekend pancakes. The skin was all speckled with brown spots. I peel the banana to find that it is pretty hard. What a fake-out!

Well, I decided to see what would happen if I warmed them up a bit with a few seconds in the microwave. Voila! Instantly overripe bananas. Problem solved.

Ingredients:

1-2 bananas
1/4 cup chopped walnuts
1/4 cup chocolate chunks (or chips)
pancake mix
ground cinnamon
vanilla extract

Directions:

If the banana isn’t somewhat soft and overripe, microwave for 30 seconds.
The Three Bite Rule - Chunky Monkey Pancakes
Mix up the pancake batter. Add a touch of vanilla extract and a pinch of cinnamon.
The Three Bite Rule - Chunky Monkey Pancakes
Preheat a grill pan or flat skillet to medium heat. Spray with non-stick spray.
Prep or chop the nuts, bananas, and chocolate.
The Three Bite Rule - Chunky Monkey Pancakes
Ladle pancake batter onto the hot pan and evenly sprinkle banana, walnut, and chocolate chunks onto the pancakes. Wait for them to bubble and then flip.
The Three Bite Rule - Chunky Monkey Pancakes
Flip once.
The Three Bite Rule - Chunky Monkey Pancakes
Sprinkle with remaining nuts & banana chunks. Enjoy!
The Three Bite Rule - Chunky Monkey Pancakes
These were great. The nuts were definitely the best touch. I think the crunch was what made these so good. I added the nuts, chocolate, and bananas in after it was on the griddle because I wanted them to be evenly distributed. I figured in the batter it might come out uneven. The chocolate gets messy when it melts, but wiping the spatula solved that.

This would be great as waffles too. I add the cinnamon and vanilla to ensure the boxed mix tastes like the opposite of a box.

P.S. Is it amusing that the CHUNKY monkey pancakes are following a book about French women not getting FAT?