March Recap

How is it April already? March is over? I’m not ready for April. Then it will be May and I’m certainly not ready for May. March is a month that is scary that it is over, but man, I don’t want to do it again. I had a doozy at work. The worst thing that could have happened, happened. As we say while working in events “it wasn’t my fault, but it is still my problem.” Ugg. I’m tired just thinking back. I think we’re on the up-and-up. I think I fixed it. This just wasn’t supposed to be the site and vendor I had to worry about. Guess ya never know.

March was a good month. My birthday was delicious and left me feeling really special. It was definitely a happy one. This cake could make anything happy, but you know what I mean
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I blogged about a lot of smoothies this month. Peanut Butter & jelly smoothie was a hit on pinterest. I made an amazing Mocha Nut Smoothie with nutella and coffee #ohhmygoodness. Here are some Smoothie Tips and a Citrus Smoothie. The best smoothie I made was a Creamsicle Smoothie

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I reviewed a cookbook, which I haven’t done in awhile. Breakfast for Dinner is a keeper, and according to my analytics, this was a fan favorite too!
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I felt like I was due for some pizza. I made a Greek Veggie Pizza that was outstanding. It was such a great meatless fresh pizza. It reminded me that spring was coming and the freshness is worth the craziness at work.
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This 1-dish-wonder Smokey Pasta with Kielbasa was one I was really happy with. I don’t make many pastas but this was spot-on. It didn’t quite get the attention I think it deserved. It also re-heated well for which I was very grateful.
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This work challenge definitely means that I’ve had muuuuch more work. Expect to see some fast & easy ones and whatever crosses my mind. I’m proud that I’m keeping up because I need the constants in my life that keep me sane. It’s all happening!

April will be a whirlwind. I don’t want to blink and miss the spring. I have to hurry up and get some wintry foods done that have been kickin’ around before it is too late!

Have any springy inspired ideas for me??

Birthday Roundup

I looooove birthdays! This was the first time in forever I didn’t have a big themed party. It did make me sad, but I just had to put on my big-girl-pants and deal. It just wasn’t in the cards this year. Next year will be a big one so hopefully that’ll work out. Mr. J made me feel special and loved and my family celebration was just perfect. This round up of my birthday wonderfulness is hot of the press. My birthday was just yesterday!

Work is crazyyy right now but the office took time out on a busy Friday, while prepping for an event, to throw an afternoon snack for me. Just wait for the theme. Are you ready? Boston gangster: Whitey Bulger. I’m fascinated by Boston gangster and mobster history and super curious about the trial (which should have been today).
bday_office_creampuff_590_390It was such a fun theme and I loved it. Well done ladies.

Mr. J had such an awesome birthday extravaganza day for me on my birthday-eve. I prefer to celebrate for days on end. We went to dinner at the it-spot in our town, Isabella. This place is so renowned that when we went the first time on a weeknight, there was a 2 hour wait. We had a gift certificate and a groupon so we went. to. town. I started with crab cakes. Mr. J started with steak and cheese eggrolls. Then I had duck breast, on duck confit, on pumpkin ravioli with some cherries. Wow is right. Mr. J had the pork chop with sweet potato puree and apple/sausage stuffed zucchini. It was amazing, but not photo-quality light. It was the best meal I’ve had in a very long time, maybe ever.
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Then we went to the movies and saw Identity Theft (jk, Thief. I messed that up all weekend so I wanted to keep it going for Mr. J). It was very funny and going to a late-night movie felt very special.

On the morning of my actual birthday, there were flowers and a card just waiting for me even after our late night out. That is love.
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We went to brunch with a very beloved couple. I love brunch and I was just so touched that they wanted to make a plan happen even when my party plans hadn’t worked out. I love seeing my old roommates so much and I’m thankful that the spouses know how connected we’ll be forever.

The fam dinner party was great. Mum made a really amazing dinner. Crepes! I loved them and am obsessed with planning a trip to Paris…stay tuned. We had chicken and spinach crepes in an decadent creamy sauce with just a few delightfully crisp edges. There were stuffed mushrooms, carrots and fruit.
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Of course we had the cake. THE cake. Chocolate ring of coconut fudge. This is no other cake for our family birthdays. It was the gooey-est that it has ever been. YUM.
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February In Review

Happy end-of-February (and also, almost-my-birthday)

I don’t know why I haven’t given you a little “favorites of the moment” recaps except for on my blogaversary. Here you go!

annnnnd you’re welcome.

February has been a snowy & busy month. Mr. J and I (along with all New England residents) got about 2o” of snow in one sitting. We’ve been back and forth to Maine a few times to see the C family. I hosted our February R family dinner.

Work is bananas in February. As in, it is so frenzied that I have the “I feel like I came to class without my homework” feeling. Did that feeling paralyze you? I’ve had the pleasure of dealing with some incredible difficult personalities within my local bureaucratic permitting agencies. #EventLifeIsntSmoothSailing #CitiesHateNonprofitEvents

What else happened this month? I got hopelessly addicted to Downton Abbey. I’ve completed season 1 and I can’t wait for more. Thanks to all who haven’t ruined season 2 & 3 for me. We “adopted”/brought home/took custody of the C family dog, who got her Three Bite Rule debut here.
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Anywho, moving on, and into the kitchen…

I made foolproof French Bread Pizza
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I got the sweetest gift ever…literally.
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I had fun checking out a new-ish local chocolate shop with some fellow bloggers. And I enjoyed cooking up a storm during the Blizzard of 2013.

Success! I attempted a Chinese dish in the crock-pot that was awesome!
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I baked. I rarely do, so savor it!
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I whipped up a few smoothies so be sure to check them out and recommend other smoothie ideas for me!

I stuffed meatballs too. The fam enjoyed them at our Red Themed February Dinner.
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This weekend is my birthday so buckle up. I LOVE birthdays and will have lots to share. Happy almost March!

2nd Blogaversary

Can you believe The Three Bite Rule is TWO YEARS OLD now?!?!?! Craziness! How do you like my fancy redesign? My Mr. J is so talented and put in tons of work to get it ready. I’m thrilled and I love it!

I’ve felt greatly improved this year and I hope you felt that too. I’ve had another busy year and this blog has been a consistent part of my regular routine. My blog has made me more well rounded and I’ve met (in person and via the blogosphere) and I have had some really cool experiences thanks to the blog.

304 posts since I started 2 years ago
1514 photos since I started 2 years ago

Reflecting on last year’s goals:
1) website techie stuff: CHECK! I wanted better indexing, a pinterest link, double tweets. visit: www.thethreebiterule.com if you’re viewing via email or via reader. My redesign is AMAZING!
2) photos improved: CHECK! like thiscompared to this
3) more guest posts: CHECK! I had 6 this year, and I did 2 for other bloggers
4) prepping posts in advance. I did this, and it is hugely helpful for my sanity. I went to 2 posts (instead of the usual 3 when I was busiest but I’m glad I could keep it as part of my routine.
5) giveaways: CHECK! I only had 1, I’d like to greatly increase this for year 3
6) more unusual stuff: CHECK! restaurant recreations, crafts
7) move to a new house w/ a better kitchen: CHECK! love my new kitchen!
8) preview of coming attractions Nope, I only did this once
9) host more: ehh. sort of. I’d still like to host more.
10) be more creative: a few dishes I was really proud of coming up with, but I’ll keep at it.

Superlatives:

most traveled: Portland’s Holy Donuts
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so good I could drink it up: Apple Cider Sangria
Apple Cider Sangria

most views & most comments: Thanksgiving Side & Giveaway
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party animal: party theme favs were a tie apps & zerts and muffin tin challenge
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most likely to succeed: Bacon Jam
The Three Bite Rule - Bacon Jam

class pet: Floutas with chipotle ranch
The Three Bite Rule - Pork Flauta
What do you want to see in year 3? My goals are:

    • more giveaways
    • more tips & techniques for some of the stuff I do best
    • more comments (that means you!)
    • more foodie crafts & reading
    • better photos & more time spent to get nice shots

Take a peek around. Enjoy the redesign. I’m glad to have a great index now and if you don’t already, follow on facebook/twitter/pinterest so you don’t miss a thing!

Roundup for the Weekend

Did you enter my giveaway yet?

Today is a little something extra. I have a round-up of some favs my sis would like. HAPPY BIRTHDAY TO MY LIZZIE SISTER! Any delicious suggestions for the sis and I to try while celebrating her bday in Atlanta this weekend??

She like basic food done really well like Chicken Cordon Bleu Calzone 

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She likes local food at funky restaurants while traveling
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She likes Theme parties
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She likes Greek (and all Mediterranean) foodgreek_meatball_plate_590_390
She’s a great guest blogger
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Happy bday!

Fall Listing

I’m back in California (for the 4th time this year…) so I wanted to put this out to you to comment one while I’m gone. I fear my fall is getting gobbled up (get it? haha!) life is just always crazy busy, isn’t it? I have a few fall favorites I hope to make before winter when I’ll probably come up with a new list. I’m considering my fall/self imposed deadline to be pre-Thanksgiving. I made a list last fall but want to complete one this time!

This fall I’ll be whipping up:

1) Pumpkin coffee cake or pumpkin pull apart bread, or pumpkin granola etc. Regular pumpkin bread or muffins doesn’t count. <check it out here!>

2) Something fun in the crock pot. By fun, I mean we’ll eat it at least 4 times so we’d better like it! <check it out here!>

3) A cranberry bevvie (I put this on last year’s fall list and overlooked it) <check it out here!>

4) Soup of some sort.

5) A pasta dish that isn’t our “we-don’t-have-anything-for-dinner” option. <check it out here!>

 

Any suggestions to help me complete any of these bad boys?

Meal Planning Tips, Part 2

I’ve been working in Santa Barbara for the last few days so on this long day of travel home, I have some more meal planning and organizational tips for you. Check out part 1 here! I get started by planning meals. I shoot for some diversity, balanced meals, and I try to be realistic on how long it might take. We like to pack up leftovers for lunch so I typically plan on a meal to serve 4 so the hubbie an I can have it twice.

After thinking about what is going on, what we’re in the mood for I peruse the pantry, fridge and freezer and then make a list.

Step two: grocery list
I keep a running grocery list as I use things up on an app for my phone called grocery IQ. It is one of my favorite apps since we can share the grocery list on both of our phones and I always have my phone when grocery shopping. This ap lets me scan barcodes but usually I’m not so specific as to which brand or size. It categorizes food automatically so you’ll see any produce items you added all together and not be crossing the store a million times. (Nope, Grocery IQ has no idea I exist and did not compensate me to endorse this ap. I just love it after trying a few others.)
The Three Bite Rule - Grocery List

I go through my meal plans and the pantry/fridge to see what I need each night for dinner and what might already be in stock. That helps me defrost since I loooove freezing things too. Maybe my freezing tips will be the next tip post!

Step three: implementing dinner plans
Not all plans always go as scheduled. Sometimes the meal is a bust or there’s not enough leftover for lunch. We often pack tomorrow’s lunch right when tonight’s dinner is over to grab and go in the morning. Salads are another typical lunch but get packed in the morning so that means fewer snoozes on the alarm. On an occasional act of preparation, I will get something going in the morning. It usually just means I had a few extra minutes.

Why it works for us:
It wasn’t fair that the dinner plans were always in my head. I’m happy to share them with Mr. J. It also means we’re not running to the store before even getting dinner going. It makes me more conscious about what I’m making and serving at any given time. He’s not asking what we’re having since he can see the week himself. Mr. J knows if he’s in charge of the meal or if I’m having him BBQ something etc. It also helps us figure out the timing if one of us is running and errand after work etc. There’s also something homey feeling to me that the week’s plan isn’t electronic.

When doesn’t it work:
Sometimes we’re still staring into the cabinets trying to think of something to eat that’s quick/easy. Usually we end up with pasta or breakfast item when that’s the case. It doesn’t mean that food is on the table awaiting our arrival. We rely on a commuter train so during a busy time at work, I don’t know when I’ll get home. None of my method is foolproof. I like when something spontaneous comes up since that just means I have the ingredients for a whole other night! I never want to say “no” to a fun plan because there’s chicken defrosting in my fridge.

I don’t usually plan out the weekend meals. Friday tends to be an unofficial take-out & DVR/movie night. I’m most often the shopper because my gym is in the same shopping plaza…what a suburbanite I am now!

I might jazz up the weekly schedule board itself. Our fridge isn’t magnetic so the menu board is also the home to reminders, coupons, save the dates, etc.
3 Bite Rule meal planning
I think dinner would seem like a way more daunting task if I didn’t plan ahead and already have the ingredients. Grocery shopping at 7pm while being hungry is a recipe for disaster.

What works for you? Are you a planner? Do you dine spontaneously? Do you make something and eat it for a week? 

Meal Planning Tips & Techniques

I’ve seen some pretty impressive meal planning posts lately

like this
or this
or this

there are tons of ideas out there…just search “meal planning” on pinterest and you’ll find endless hours of creativity and organization. Mine is pretty basic but I’m taking the food approach rather than the crafty approach. Maybe I’ll get on that later ;)

Since I’m only meal planning for two of us, my set up is pretty basic. We have relatively busy lives but we know what is coming up for the week. I used to just have in my head what I wanted to make and when that would be. I had elaborate plans for leftovers but that was just living in my head too. It made me feel like I was the dictator, like Mr. J’s tastes were at my whim, and like I was running the show.

Now that we’re homeowners, I’m being a grown up and mapping out the week for all to see. It is helpful for us because it gets us both on the same page, saves money, eliminates extra grocery store trips, and helps for lunch-packing-planning. Mr. J has taken to bringing lunch everyday so having a plan we both know.
3 Bite Rule meal planning

Step one: figuring out what to make
I usually meal plan on Saturday or Sunday mornings. I see what is going on (i.e. Mr. J playing hockey, me working late, one or both of us going out, etc). I think of a few things I’ve been itching to make and fill in the gaps with easy throw together meals (think salads or burgers or eggs). Not every dinner is special or blog-worthy: thus why I created the What I Ate series). I usually have a list of ideas to try. I get a bunch of food magazines, I subscribe to a lot of blogs, I scour restaurant menus all the time, and Pinterest is always a great source too. I tap into these sources while watching food network or combing through my lists/ideas. I sort of attempt to vary the categories or foods so that we don’t have pizza 3 times in one week or burritos/tacos/enchiladas all in a row.

ex: If I have a pizza topping idea up my sleeve that might be Monday, and Thursdays are usually quicker/lighter meals before Mr. J plays hockey so falafel wraps might be that night. Now I need something for Tues & Wed. Maybe burgers sound good because it’ll be hot on Tuesday with my fav oil/vinegar coleslaw. We haven’t had anything Mexican in awhile so maybe that’s a good use for leftover ground meat after making Wed’s burgers. Now that becomes Tuesday’s plan. Mon & Wed have leftover capabilities for lunches the following days so I’ll add salad or sandwich stuff to the list for the days after a dinner without leftovers (i.e. I’m never gonna eat a burger I cooked the night before for lunch).
3 Bite Rule Meal Planning

I have some more planning tips I share later. How do you plan meals?

Roundup: Birthday Boy’s Favs

Today is Mr. J’s birthday. I looove birthdays (as seen here and here). He isn’t as into birthdays as I am, but luckily he humors me. I’m super jazzed about the dinner I thought of for tonight (stay tuned). Hopefully it works!

In honor of his birthday I’m giving you a little collection or list of some of his favs! Happy birthday Mr. J!

He liked this Thanksgiving Sandwich I made recently (yes, no timely connection or anything)

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And he surprisingly fell for broccoli & cheddar soup in breadbowls
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and he was into these Greek Meatball Wraps
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and the guy loves his Chinese food
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He embraced Neapolitan pizza when we were in Italy on our honeymoon. We’ve recreated since then and I perfected it…I dare say.
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He loved this Balsamic Citrus Chicken though the photos don’t do it justice.
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I hope he has a fantastic birthday. He’s amazing beyond words and deserves it. He has suffered through some of my mishaps and willingly eats pretty much anything I make. He patiently waits for me to photograph his meal before taking a bite and is my biggest supporter…blog and live-wise. The pup and I have lots of fun surprises for him!

Check out his amazingness here on his guest blog.  Better yet, check out his blog here! Go ahead, leave him a comment for his birthday!