End of Summer Foods Bucket List

Let’s chat about all the summer foods & flavors we still need to eat:

I definitely need more corn on the cob, plus cooking it and cutting it off the cob (or freezing it off the cob) are great options too. This Heirloom Tomato & Corn Tart is soooo good.
Tomato & Corn Tart - The Three Bite Rule

Plus, watching this guy with an ear of corn cracks me up:
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Obviously I need more tomatoes: Tomato sandwiches for B, L, D. I loved this ricotta pie with tomato though it seems sacrilegious to cook beautiful tomatoes.
Three Bite Rule - Tomato Ricotta Pie
Lobster is a must, I haven’t had any yet but will ASAP
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I also need to make some summery cocktails. I have a few in mind…possibly featuring ice tea or lemonade. We’ll see.

I got my s’mores fix last weekend, but there’s no such thing as too many s’mores. I’m sure I will keep featuring the bounty of herbs we’re growing too. Mr. J grills pretty much year-round so that’s not necessarily a must-do. Labor day doesn’t quite mark the end of summer for me since the kiddo’s routine is the same all year but I do look forward to fall.

What’s left on your summery food bucket list?

August 2016 Recap

August feels a bit like a blur. It was too hot for me but our beach vacation was fantastic and I really appreciated having a full week off…something I haven’t done in 1.5 years! I didn’t cook much but I was really happy to whip up quick meals meaning easy family evenings without stress. That also means not as much to blog but throwing something onto the grill and adding an easy side seems like a no-brainer. I cooked a bit this weekend to make up for it (get ready for a really fun burger)!

My fav food I made this month was a Shrimp Scampi Flatbread
The Three Bite Rule - Shrimp Scampi Flatbread
I jumped on board the train for overnight oats with a blueberry sauce and I was a fan! I’m sure I’ll make another kind.
The Three Bite Rule - Overnight Oats

For a brunch party I made these biscuit cups with sausage gravy. Adorable and perfectly portioned!
The Three Bite Rule - Sausage Gravy in Biscuit Cups

The Little One:
He loved the beach! It was really fun and just. so. easy. I loooove this tiny town we go to because the beach is huuuuge and being able to walk to the beach allows us to come and go. We pretty much went in the morning, popped back to the cottage for lunch & naps and then back to the beach until dinner. After the little one was asleep, it was time for Olympic viewings and ice cream runs. The best.

He’s been eating up a storm and loving to be outside, especially on the swing set. He loves having his own bowl and spoon. He got his very own ice cream cone on vacation and he ate corn on the cob. So fun! He’s talking even more.  

This Year’s Goals: 
The Year of the: Seasonal Decor: ehh, I missed this month
do something a different way: no, I probably didn’t
drink more water: I need to do better outside of work, at my desk I do well.
make more interesting side dishes: these Prosciutto Wrapped Asparagus were fun
cook more soups & sauces: Does jazzed up gravy fit?
watch more movies: none this month it was all Olympics, all the time.
make working out a higher priority: I ran a 5K! That was HUGE for me.

Goings-on

I didn’t really mean to disappear but ohh well. It happens. I had visions of returning from vacation, making one quick thing the weekend after vacay which I’d blog. It just didn’t happen.
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Then, I did make something to blog the other night but it wasn’t amazing and it “crisped” too much in the oven so it really wasn’t photogenic. There goes the 2nd thing I had planned for the blog this week! It was a roasted tomato/basil/mozzarella/garlic/truffle oil calzone. Tasty, but not so pretty.

In other news, the beach vacay was so wonderful. The Little One was so happy in the sand, being able to walk right into the ocean, and finding hermit crabs. He thought the crabs were turtles (which is our fav word he says) so “turt-tle” they were. The little one got his very own ice cream cone for the first time and ate corn on the cob. We ate nightly ice cream and watched a lot of Olympics…complete with Olympic bingo I found!

I didn’t cook anything during vacation but brought some lunch things like Mexican Street Corn & quesadilla stuff as well as Sesame Peanut Noodles. Both were easy to prep the sauce in advance and bring the rest to just assemble onsite. I like them as leftovers too.

Then, we got back Friday evening and had the whole weekend at home which totally got us back into the normal groove before returning to work/daycare. I’ll say, how much rest do you need when you’re 1.5 years old and returning to days of water-play, snacktimes, naps, and stories?

Saturday morning I ran a 5K. Cra-zy. I wasn’t sure I’d be ready but I did and I’m so proud of myself. It was hot, I was definitely struggling, but I ran the whole time and wasn’t last…my two goals! 10am mid-August is hottt. My ap said 3.6 miles but whatev. Seeing Mr. J and the little one by the end got me there. I have more work to do before attempting another but it was good.

Now I’m on a mission to eat all the summer things before labor day. Go!

July 2016 Recap

All of a sudden it was Independence Day. Now all of a sudden it is August. I’m so ready for the heat to be over but I hate to rush through any season. I truly didn’t cook much.

One of my fav’s this month was this peanut sesame sauce for noodles
The Three Bite Rule - Peanut Sesame Noodles
And the little one would definitely agree. He was slurping them up while we were eating after already having dinner.

Also, summer means fresh sides and this pineapple, cucumber, and mint salad was sooo refreshing.
The Three Bite Rule - Pineapple, Cucumber, Mint Salad
Also, don’t miss the Californian Burger with In-N-Out Sauce, avocado, and lots of herbs.
The Three Bite Rule - Cali Burger
The Little One: 
He is speaking so much more! He has so many thoughts and feelings. He eats sooo much! His favorites are fruit, cheese, and whatever I’m eating. He was really into pulled pork I made and he loooves long spaghetti. In August we’ll have a trip to the beach and he’s going to have a blast.

This Year’s Goals: 
The Year of the: Seasonal Decor: I got an awesome watermelon welcome mat. love it.
do something a different way: 
drink more water: yes, that might be the only good thing about this heat
make more interesting side dishes: yes, I made maple bacon creamed corn which was delectable.
cook more soups & sauces: Ehh. Maybe the condiment for In-N-Out sauce counts?
watch more movies: we watched Room
make working out a higher priority: Running has been going pretty well a few times a week. I’m up to 2 miles.

Edible Gifts for the Summer

I’ve been working on some favors/parting gifts for some of my summer work events with a foodie crowd and was just so jazzed about them that I a) want to be a Pinterest-aficionado in my personal life and b) want to host all the food themed parties! Until either one happens, here are some favorites should you be in the market for a hostess gift, a party favor, or a consumable treat!

Infused sea salts:
I saw so many out there if you’re looking to purchase them already to give: This sampler looks great to tie a Thank You note to & let guests guests choose their own flavor!
Etsy SullivanTeaShop
I also totally want to make my own for personal use. Pinterest seems to think it is super easy…we’ll see how THAT goes. Sea Salt + dried herbs from my garden seems pretty fun to me! Can I dry my own herbs? We shall see! They’re flourishing so I might tackle it!

Grilling Rub: 
I’m giving grill rub out at 2 work events this summer. Because of the quantities, I got fun tiny tins & baggies for packaging of the house rub Chef uses on meat, fish, and vegetables. There are tons of recipes that are super cheap to make yourself (versus buying pre-made rub). Measuring & mixing dried herbs seems pretty foolproof!

Cookies:
My co-worker made these chocolate dipped shortbread cookies for a Bridal Tea Party. Sooo cute! I’m not really a baker, but what a lovely touch if you are baking inclined!
Tea Party
Mr. J’s birthday present included a “year of snacks/treats”. June’s theme was “hot & cold” which translated to ice cream sundae toppings of sea-salt caramel sauce, hot fudge, sprinkles, cherries, whipped cream, etc. July was “shareable” and I made loaded waffle fries that we enjoyed for dinner one night. I looove the gift of food!

Happy eating! Maybe this is the nudge I need to whip up some of my own BBQ rubs & spice mixes.

Independence Day Checklist

I’m so looking forward to this holiday long weekend. If you haven’t already planned a festive meal or two here’s what I 100% recommend:

You need burgers: 
I make lotssss of burgers. My favs are Ranch Chicken Burgers (also serves well over salad if you have a health-conscious crowd), or Parisian Burgers (not as easy for a large crowd).

I love a build-your-own when hosting. Set out a burger bar with lots of fun toppings. I just did this with sliders and posted a few I recommended (a frame with Cowboy Burger = BBQ sauce + cheddar + caramelized onions & a few others).

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You need a side: 
Plan a fun one + a super easy/hands-off/crowd pleaser.
Roasted Beets & Potatoes is a good one that can sit out for quite awhile.
Ramen Salad with Broccoli Slaw is so addicting.
Basil Vinaigrette for Orzo, Tomato, and mozzarella salad is so great with any shape pasta for the idea of caprese.
The Three Bite Rule - Basil Vinaigrette Dressing for Orzo Salad
Most are easy enough to throw together in advance, or can be something deliciously simple like really cold watermelon or baked beans you added a tough of sriracha to or liquid smoke to. Serve in a crockpot to heat & serve all at once.

You need a signature beverage:
Rosemary Hard Lemonade is an easy one to pre-mix in a pitcher OR to serve the alcohol on the side for guests to mix to order for a cocktail versus mocktail. Don’t worry about a whole bar.

The Three Bite Rule - Rosemary Hard Lemonade
Freeze some lemonade ice cubes to go with ice tea for the best Arnold Palmer out there!

You need some snacks: 
A burrata & crostini bar is definitely fun, though maybe too much if you’re then serving a whole meal. Keep it simple!
My 100% crowd pleaser is this suuuuper easy Greek Dip: Hummus + tomato/cuke/pepper tossed with dressing + feta, served with pita chips or wheat thins.
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Also put out some chips. Done.

You need some dessert: 
I’d totally farm this out to one of your guests, but if you are compelled to serve something, vanilla ice cream with strawberries & blueberries (maybe pop open a jar of salted caramel sauce!) seems wayy better than a flag cake you’ve seen 100 times on pinterest.
Or these Peanut butter & Jelly bars are pretty awesome, and fool-proof plus you can make ‘em in advance.
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You’ll have wayyy more fun if you are a happy host. Prep in advance, put the first to arrive to work…then they won’t feel awkward. Have some tunes already on, offer them a drink, then say “sure, you can carry this out to that table”. It puts everyone at ease.

My fav hosting tips:
1) make a list & prioritize your prep. I literally number what has to happen first so I can have things pretty much cleaned up before guests arrive.

2) know what you’re serving in what vessel. I lay the bag of chips into the bowl they’re going in so it is ready, out of the way, and so I’m not standing on a chair reaching for a bowl while trying to chat with somebody. See also: putting your guests to work.

3) get showered & dressed early enough. It is easier to slice your watermelon with guests there than it is to be dripping wet & in a towel when somebody arrives!

4) a sign I’m getting old: wear some good shoes if you’re spending the morning grabbing the cooler from the attic, wiping off the patio furniture, chopping veggies, etc. You then won’t be pooped when it comes time to party!

5) keep it simple enough to actually accomplish. You don’t need to offer 8 sides or accommodate 100 things each guest would like to eat. I like anything I can make in advance, and to be balanced enough that there’s something fun to eat but also that I’m not ready for a nap when the time actually comes. Not hosting an actual meal is pretty great too. I just hosted a happy-hour get together with: a top-your-own crostini station; fruit with yogurt dip; chips & goldfish. I offered sangria & some summer beer. It was so easy.

Bonus) some little details are really worth it. Setting the mood by playing music & offering a drink are so great when people first arrive. Set out sunlotion/bugspray/towels or whatever everyone might need before they need it (ditto on the spare toilet paper). Label your food so people don’t have to ask you what’s what (multi-ingredient foods, or drinks in pitchers- especially when containing alcohol, or if you have lots of offerings). I think themes come together best when mapped out- I print suggested combos & pop them into frames to help. I like things in writing so I can actually talk to people…a note for what is trash/recycling for you, or “more drinks inside” or “come on around, we’re out back” or whatever is helpful.

Happy hosting!

June 2016 Recap

This was such a good month! It was good for food, good for the little one, good for some fun family time, and such beautiful weather. I’m really loving this summer. The babe is such a fun age and he’s so happy to play, and go outside, and see things. It is so lovely not to be stressed about work events. I’ve been so glad to have some fun weekend plans and pool time. Mr. J is on an earlier train home which is ahh-mazing.

Mr. J’s annual birthday burger was a hit! I made a mac & cheese stuffed burger topped with caramelized onions & tomato.
The Three Bite Rule - Mac & Cheese Stuffed Burger
I seemed to be all about the breakfast with these sleepy pigs and blankets.
The Three Bite Rule - Sleepy Pigs in Blankets
And this peanut butter & nutella stuffed french toast.
The Three Bite Rule - PB Nutella French Toast
I don’t always focus on the side dishes but this quick bacon blue cheese pasta salad was a fun one.
The Three Bite Rule - Bacon Blue Cheese Pasta Salad
The little One: 
He’s so into playing outside. I got a lawn mower toy at a yard sale for a $1 and he loooves “mowing” the driveway. More than that, Mr. J assembled such a sweet swing set area for him just the other day. T could play there forever. We’re reading books non-stop. He’ll read about 7 in a row! He has more and more words coming. He starts waterplay at daycare and I know he’ll love it. He’s eating all things (minus eggs). Strawberry picking was a HIT. He ate his weight in strawberries.

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2016 Goals:

The Year of the: Seasonal Decor I got a red/white/blue bucket to be a napkin holder. My town is seriously into flag day so I’ll have to stock up.
do something a different way: I fit in more weeknight activities which helps me feel like I’m making the most of the summer.
drink more water: yes, I got a new water bottle and it has me totally drinking about 20 oz more water than usual each day.
make more interesting side dishes: yes! These corn & zucchini fritters were fun.
cook more soups & sauces: uh-huh! This sundried tomato pesto sauce was really great.
watch more movies: we watched Our Brand is Crisis
make working out a higher priority: I’m trying to not hate running. I’m keeping the runs short and do-able. I’ve spaced them out and am listening to my fav podcasts. So far so good. We’ll see what happens.

How to Meal Plan in 5 steps

I was just hearing from some very intelligent folks that figuring out what to make for dinner is just so hard. I view meal planning like a puzzle. You need to have the pieces and see where they can go. If they aren’t in the right spot, you move it around until it clicks. It can seem daunting but you need to start somewhere.

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1) Know Your Audience:
Think about who likes what, who wants leftovers available, and who will be making what throughout the week. Also who would be likely to eat what. When feeding the little one, I go for something familiar with something new, or variety. Variety is key.

2) Look at Your Schedule/Weather and Write Out Your Plan for the Week:
I literally even schedule in leftovers or “anything goes” or breakfast. Not every day needs to be the. perfect. meal. or something totally new. Write it on a scrap of paper from the recycling, or onto a calendar, or on an app, or whatever works for you. I use a marker board calendar in the kitchen. I move the meals around depending what happens but seeing them in writing helps us.

3) Start with a Few Categories:
To keep some variety, I’ll usually use a few categories to get me going. Salad, Burritos, Pasta, Panini, Omelette, Burger, etc. Picking a few helps me figure out a bit of a starting point. You could do the same with ethnicities: Italian/Greek/Mexican/etc. It’d also be fun to give characteristics like baked/crunchy/raw/grilled/cheesy/etc.

4) Don’t feel like every part has to be the star:
If the main dish needs your attention, give yourself a break on the side dish(s). Couscous cooks in 5 minutes. Raw peppers or cukes to dip into salad dressing or hummus = an instant summer side.

5) Track your favs and keep a list somewhere.
Pintest can be helpful with boards by category or a board of pins to try versus tried & true. I keep a list on my phone of ideas from menus or magazines or cooking shows or whatever. If you pull recipes out of magazines then a binder might be helpful.

Do you plan your meals? What works for you? 

May 2016 Recap

I did NOT cook that much in May. Normally I have a few interesting items here and there but I thoroughly enjoyed slooooowly getting back to real life after my work event. I had some fun restaurant excursions to Stoked for wood-fired pizza and to Tres Gatos for tapas! I’m all about the fast-ish dinners now that it is nice out and it is more fun to take walks through the neighborhood, or play in driveway with T & his yard-sale bubble mower, or whatever. Mr. J has a new train schedule and gets home earlier -woohoo! I love whenever we can all eat at the same time!

Let’s pause for the sous-chefs who have not had a blog appearance until just lately:
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I was really proud of the ramen burgers! I kind of can’t believe the ramen buns stayed together! It was such a fun one to try! I loved the teryiaki & green onions on a burger.
The Three Bite Rule - Ramen Burger
I loved a quickie flatbread pizza with turkey kielbasa, sweet potato, red onion, and a mustard sauce. It was so perfectly fast and some variety to my typical dinner flavors. The babe loooves sweet potato so having some leftover was great.
The Three Bite Rule - Kielbasa & Sweet Potato Pizza
Puff pastry has such an important place in my heart. I always love it. This eggplant parm pockets were so fun and cooking the eggplant the night before made them even easier. This meat-less meal was spot on and perfectly portioned!
The Three Bite Rule - Eggplant Parmesan in Puff Pastry

The Little One: 
He’s so funny right now. I mean, we always think he’s funny. That’s rule 1 of being a parent. He seems like such a little kid rather than a baby now! We just got him crocs and they’re just the cutest. He loves playing outside and his current favorite toys are books (especially this strawberry one & this truck one), mega blocks, and cardboard boxes. He’s not so into the talking & words but I can’t get over how much he knows. He will go retrieve a specific toy or book when we ask for it, he correctly identifies which dog is which, he knows some body parts, and will mimic some words when we say them like go, milk, choo-choo, beep, etc. T is still a rockstar-sleeper and still eating well. Fingers crossed he keeps both up!

This guy rockin’ the bed-head, pre-haircut last week:
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2016 Goals:

The Year of the: Seasonal Decor I’m counting it, I got this watercolor flower print on wood and love it.
do something a different way: I’ve been focused on putting things where they belong, in the moment. Otherwise I find myself straightening up later which seems like more work.
drink more water: yup, going strong especially with no coffee until 10oz of water…at least on weekdays
make more interesting side dishes: nope
cook more soups & sauces: nah
watch more movies: we just laughed our way through Sisters
make working out a higher priority: Mr. J’s train is earlier so I’m been pretty good about getting up and moving before waking the little one. Plus, work is starting a walking challenge going so I’m psyched to see that.

April 2016 Recap

April whizzed past me. I didn’t cook a ton nor did I get to blog much. I kind of spent the month either super busy at work, trying to keep up with everything, plus a sweet little vacay to Florida.

I was sooo into the cherry “cheesecake” yogurt breakfast I made. It was really good and prepping in advance, made for a more lovely breakfast on a weekday!
The Three Bite Rule - Cheery "Cheesecake" Greek Yogurt Parfait
These Baked Monte Cristo pockets felt like the best-fast-dinner-ever. I was so happy with them. They added some fun-ness, variety, and an insta-dinner that I know I needed to get back into the groove. Weeknight dinners with minimal prep are the best!
The Three Bite Rule - Baked Monte Cristo

Next month I’ll totally get back to normal and back into the kitchen once I come up for air at work!
2016 Goals:
The Year of the: Seasonal Decor ehh. nothing in April.
do something a different way: hmm. I’m not sure I did this.
drink more water: yup, I’m on it.
make more interesting side dishes: nope, nothing right now
cook more soups & sauces: I made lasagna soup!
watch more movies: you know, I don’t think we watched any!
make working out a higher priority: yup! I did an kick-boxing on demand & fit in a few morning walks before the alarm!