July Recap

As July comes to a close it makes me feel like the summer is zooming by. July was #hothothot and I wouldn’t mind if that was the hottest we see this summer. It definitely got me thinking of meals not requiring a ton of cooking or the oven.

July seemed to have the right amount of social festivities and downtime to hang at home and do as I please. I got my butt in gear and upped my workouts a bit. I survived just a few bootcamp sessions and I fit in some better workouts. I’m trying to pretend that I don’t hate running.

July unfortunately ended a seizure-free record streak for our pup Windsor. He hadn’t had one since Christmas and then he had a rough couple of days.

This month also involved a sad farewell to the R family pup. Piccadilly lived to 13.5 years old and was a beloved member of the family. I cooked some bacon for him because when you’re 94 in dog years, you should have anything you want.
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My tastes have been quite varied, so hopefully you all enjoyed some different posts this month.

The easiest thing I made this month was cinnamon roll waffles:
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On anything-goes dinner night I whipped up a seemingly random combo of ingredients which ended up as a chilled Shrimp and Couscous Salad that was stellar!
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I made a bevy to beat the heat. It was a pinky Passion Fruit tea and Lemonade. It was delightful.

After sooning over the idea of a trip to Paris and we made it happen! We booked an anniversary trip to Paris & Prague so I announced that with some Bacon & Leek Crepes if you’re feeling Francais.
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The most popular post this month was a quickie Italian Grilled Cheese with 2 cheeses and breaded eggplant. It was delicious and I like to pretend that the many views mean lots of readers made it themselves.
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We’ll see what August has in store. Definitely a sangria recipe I owe you and some ice cream recipes. Maybe something red for the Bachelorette finale. Any suggestions?

June Wrap Up

Can you believe it is time for July? Whattt?! June was fun and relaxing. It didn’t feel as crazy busy as March, April, or May. Which I love. I had some relaxing weekends, got some things done around the house, I had a few dinners out with friends, hosted brunch and enjoyed the spring. I did not once curse the rain since I had bright sunny days for my outdoor event when I needed ‘em. We got furniture for the deck (I owe you pics) and we got a Costco membership. Super exciting!

The challenges this month were replacing our ancient boiler & water heater. It then resulted in a crazy explosion that scared the beejesus out of us. Everyone and everything is a-OK (read more here). We had an emotional weekend honoring Mr. J’s dad.

We went to Bermuda which was definitely relaxing. How amazing is this view? #nofilter
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Father’s Day and Mr. J’s bday was a joint celebration. On his actual bday, I made some special burgers. For the family gathering, we did a ‘Best of the Bermuda trip’ buffet. It was so fun. We made some of their favorite items from the trip.

I made veggie burgers in June. They were so great. Frozen butternut squash, black beans, oatmeal, sunflower seeds. They were rich and crunchy and filling and delicious. Try ‘em.
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I also tweaked my go-to 1-dish pasta to be a BBQ chicken pasta
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I made a really different breakfast than I usually make. Well, I haven’t really made bfast in awhile, but I made waffles with blueberry sauce and brie.
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I got philosophical trying to get you thinking about being strategic in the kitchen. Hmm. What else happened. Well, I got hopelessly addicted to candy crush. Each time I think I’m stuck forever on a level I’ll win and then think the same about the following level. I’m no gamer, but I feel like this is going to be an on going thing. Google Reader is going away, tear. I had it on my list to switch but kept putting it off. I’m now on Feedly and all is well.

The plan for July is to knock off a few things that’ve been on my to-make list. The list is suuuper long right now. I also want to do some creative salad ideas. Any inspirations to get me going? I’m also thinking I haven’t posted sangria or a cocktail in awhile…

Are You Strategic in the Kitchen?

I’ve been thinking about this a lot. I realized sometimes I have a few things cooking or prepping at once so I tried to write my posts in that way. Sometimes recipes or meals can seem really daunting and if I’m not ready for the next step that’s when problems occur. Sauce gets too thick or veggies get overcooked etc. I’ve tried to clarify what can be happening while something else is going on. Does it help? I hope so!

Heres’ the million dollar question of the day: Do you think you’re strategic in the kitchen?

 

I really thought about it while tackling Pastitsio. That one had a meat/tomato sauce, pasta, a bechamel sauce, and then the whole thing was baked. It was amazing. I loved the flavors. I recommend making this on a weekend…and knowing just how many messy dishes and pots there would be.
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Baking is also a time I try to be strategic. I don’t bake often and when I do, I always follow the recipe. That being said, I try to remember to read through the directions first. I don’t want to be thrown off when the next ingredient comes in, and I need to know beforehand if something is supposed to be softened/room temperature/pre-mixed or whatever. Samoa Girl Scout Cookie Bars was one recipe that let me make & bake the base and get the topping going while that first part was cooking. I also picked it because it felt do-able for me.
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Buyer beware: I’m no connoisseur. I still have meals that have me scrambling all over the kitchen or feeling like something needed a minute less while something else ended up cold after I snapped enough photos. Take my tips with a grain of salt. I don’t cook overly complicated meals. I also try to whip up something easy to go along with something more challenging. I now don’t have to think twice about risotto but if that is going to be all encompassing go easy on whatever else you’re serving. Know that I don’t blog every meal I make. I like to space new or blog-worthy meals throughout the week with cheaper/easier/no-thought-required other meals during the week.

Have you seen Rachael Ray pile her ingredients from the fridge & pantry in one trip? It is kind of ridiculous, but there’s a point there. Tip 1: pull out everything you’re going to need. I think it can stress you out if you get knee deep into a recipe to discover you’re out of eggs or tomatoes or breadcrumbs, or something that will really alter the dish. I vary recipes all the time, but if changing your plan or altering the recipe will stress you out, then you’ll want to know the ingredients are ready.

Speaking of getting ingredients ready…Tip 2: take the ingredients one step further and chop/defrost/melt/wash and do any prep the ingredients are going to need later. I think it allows you to feel really ready. Then when your recipe says to add it you’re on it. I don’t do this very much. I moreso prep the next thing while the previous step is happening. I like to keep an eye on the pan while I’m chopping the next addition or whatever.

Tip 3: use what you have and use the right tools. I substitute things all the time. This contradicts #1, but think about what you have and throw it in or leave something you don’t like out. Food is supposed to be how you want it. Reduce the recipe if you don’t want leftovers or throw in that ingredient that’ll go bad in your fridge otherwise. Also by knowing the tools you have you can make better choices. Is your skillet kind of small? Think about what is supposed to go in that. Will you have room? Can you add in that ingredient that’s hanging around? Should you half the recipe to fit the only pan you have? This Smoky Sausage Pasta cooks everything in 1 pan but if you can’t fit it, you should be ready early to half the recipe for the pan you have.
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In terms of tools, my super specialized ones end up sitting in the drawer. I don’t think there’s a ton of those that are overly useful. Some might be, but a knife you’re comfortable with, different sized bowls, and a favorite rubber spatula will probably do it for the most part. I think a HUGELY powerful $3 investment is a meat thermometer. If you think you don’t like pork is probably because it is always overcooked. This simple thermometer will take the guess work out and tell you that meat is cooked enough. It also keeps cooking a bit when you take it off the heat. I have a really basic themometer with a dial and Mr. J and I sing it praises all the time!

Tip 4: learn timing for your foods or beware of your timing. I think it is definitely helpful to plan each dish according to the time needed. Set a timer. Set several timers to take out the guess-work. It gets stressful to keep things hot or keep something from getting bad if too many tasks are left until the the last minute. I like anything that can be done & ready (serving dish & utensil and all). Salad might hang out in the fridge while everything that takes much more thought/coordination on the stove or in the oven gets final touches. I start getting things to the table and out of the kitchen then I know I’m done.

For this dinner, I was searing scallops, making a mustard sauce, roasting broccoli, and frying polenta cakes. This is more involved than most of my dinners. I knew the broccoli would just do it’s thing in the oven. The polenta cakes went first an then hung out in the oven just to keep warm. The mustard sauce and scallops were going on at the same time after the polenta and broccoli were out of the way but kept warm.
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Last but not least, Tip 5: clean as you go. It is a much better way to wrap up dinner if you then aren’t returning to a battle zone. I like to start throwing stuff into the dishwasher when I have a free second or at least rinsing pots. I start stacking ingredients I’m done with next to the fridge to get them put away and out of my way. I repackage unused or leftover stuff and get-it-gone while the main thing is in the oven.

While this eggplant parmesan pizza is baking for 20 minutes I’m closing up the ricotta, getting rid of cheese and dough packaging, freezing remaining eggplant, finding my pizza cutter, etc.
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Phew. That’s a lot. Do you feel strategic? Do you feel one step behind while following a recipe? What helps you?

Father’s Day Recipe Ideas

Since Sunday is Father’s Day, I wanted to share around a few ideas if you’re having a big shebang or a small family dinner. I was thinking about what my Dad likes best. It varies, for sure. He’s always up for a themed family dinner and he loves to know the plan.

He likes a sweet treat to go along with coffee in the morning. These cheese danish squares are amazingly easy. They are a great brunch addition or coffee break treat.
The Three Bite Rule - Cheese Danish Squares
Sometimes a fun theme is to bring back memories of a recent trip. My ‘rents went to Chicago and followed my recommendation for Lou Malnatti’s pizza. Making deepdish is actually easier for some folks by using a cake pan instead of messing with dough on a pizza stone.

A pizza party is a fun idea if you’re feeding a crowd. Here’s one of my favorite deepdish pizza recipes or making a few kinds of pizzas is always fun. Maybe the non-cook in the family can bring the salad?
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Top-your-own-burgers would be fun. I like to put guests/family/friends to work. I make Mr. J a different special burger for his birthday each year. Here are some of our favorite burgers if you want filling/topping ideas.
The Three Bite Rule - Nacho Burger
‘Build-your-own’ bars make a party social and allow everyone to reach all the food served. Most importantly, then everyone can customize their food. I think it gives a fun casual setting and it helps those who are picky or really hungry be able to do their plate their own way. It works well for taco bars, salad barsoatmeal bars, top-your-own chili, etc!
Label your food for a) more fun b) a better executed theme and c) for clarity.
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I’m not sure what’s in store for the weather, but a cheeseburger calzone is a great option if you’re indoors or grill-less!
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Oooo! Brilliant! Have a pot-luck with foods that remind you of your dad and then Dad has to guess who made what! Man, I just love food event themes!

Another theme I think any dad would like is a restaurant recreation of their favorite meal or a Throw-back meal to something he cooked with you or ate with you. Even just naming your menu can help with your theme. My ‘Welcome to Boston’ themed calzones are a prime example of that. I can admit myself that tt wasn’t really a theme without the names.

Dad C would have loved a Father’s Day lasagna (his favorite!)
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or he liked my BBQ Chicken Pizza (with his fav Sticky Finger’s BBQ Sauce)
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Happy pre-Father’s Day to all the Dads out there.

May Recap

Happy we-made-it-through-May! Phew. I’m so happy with my event, and also so happy I’m done. It is such a relief and a learning experience for me. I wanted to see myself do it better than last year, make good changes, and do it for the city I love and with the team I love. I’m so proud to design my route to show the parts of the city that are so special and to make it the weekend of a lifetime. This month is such a doozy and I’m thankful to also move on to have more wiggle room and free time. Just you wait for some fun June posts now that I can breathe again.

Maybe June will be the month I get back on my “year of the: craft”. I seriously fell off that bandwagon and have some catching up to do. cough:since:February:couch. Ms. K and I have thought about all our pinterest crafts coupled with sangria for a really great day. Maybe June will be the winner?

May seriously flew by. I think time is going by faster in my pre-30s. I FINALLY went to the Bacon & Beer Festival. So fun! Armed with a spork and 1 mini beer cup we traversed through the crowds and I loved seeing who had Bacon foods there. I’ve been dreaming of this day.
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I make ‘em a lot, so I figured I’d share Calzone Tips & Tricks. My #1 trick: fill. it. up. Seriously. Fill it more than you think.
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Mr. J helped me out with a guest post of his specialty Huevos Rancheros. His photos are drool-worthy.
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I successfully baked something! These Peanut Butter and Jelly Gramwiches were a shot in the dark but came out great!

Windsor got dog-shamed on the blog…but isn’t he so cute?
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Those are some of my favorite posts/happenings of May. Happy June!

April Recap

Hooooooly crap. It is May. HOW did that happen. I’m stunned  I suddenly have what feels like zero days until my event happens. My entire year’s worth of stress happens all at once…and let me tell ya, I’m not a pretty picture right now. April was a good month with some good dinners. I hope May leaves me still with enough energy to  get a bit more creative.

My favorite post of the month was also my highest viewed post of the month! Cheeseburger Calzone is a must-try if you didn’t already see it.
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I did a smoothie that I fell in love with: Chocolate Cherry Smoothie
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This month also had a guest post about Charleston from my ‘rents and a book review of Anthony Bourdain’s Kitchen Confidential. Sometimes it is just so great to have some help or some quick posts. Did I mention I’m going bananas at work right now? HINT HINT #guestpostswanted

I was thrilled with this Potato, Leek, and Bacon Pizza
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This sandwich with grilled chicken, pear, arugula, and cheddar. Ohh goodness. So delicious.
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I was really happy with this side dish of warm brussels sprouts. I never focus on the side dish.
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Any quickies you’d recommend for a busy May? Want to be a guest blogger for me? email emily@thethreebiterule.com for more details!

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
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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!