March 2015 Recap

That saying about March in like a lion and out like a lamb seemed somewhat true this year. I was so happy to have some warm days. Getting out with the little one was a serious game changer. I don’t really care how long it takes for the rest of the snow to melt now that the sidewalks are clear. I was happiest this month being able to strap Baby T into the baby bjorn and take to the streets. I ventured out daily with him strapped to me or in the stroller and it was huge after being confined until he had his shots at 2 months. It was so great to get moving and to get all inspired for some springy foods.

My favorite meal this month was taco salad with avocado lime dressing (though I made a killer chicken meatloaf that of course I didn’t blog thinking it wasn’t earth shattering or photogenic – that might have been the real winner this month).
The Three Bite Rule - Taco Salad with Avocado Lime Dressing
March has definitely been the month where I capitalized on lunch since I’m home during the day. I made this buffalo chicken pizza as a quickie-individual pizza. Seriously, try these pocket thins for a crisp but doughy single serve pizza.
The Three Bite Rule - Buffalo Chicken Pizza

Chicken & Wild Rice soup was another lunch-time fav this month. I baked the chicken when I had the oven on for dinner one night and used wild rice to season the soup. Poof. Soup wasn’t far away. I made it again a few weeks later for my fav new mommy.
The Three Bite Rule - Chicken & Wild Rice Soup
Panini-ify a BLT and you can thank me later
The Three Bite Rule - BLT Panini

The little one:
thomas_2month
likes – smiling! rides in the car & stroller, seeing pages turn in books, “playing” with cousin Nate, and going out in public now that he’s all vaccinated!
dislikes – shirts going over his head, and waiting too long for food, but that’s about it.

We’re doing so much better. He wasn’t eating enough and nursing was disastrous when he was just a few weeks old. Now I’m pumping and he’s eating via bottles with some formula to supplement, making for a happy (and full) baby which then makes for happy parents. Weeks 2-5 of his life were rough before we switched things up. I think it took that long to feel like it was OK to admit nursing wasn’t working out for any of us. Baby T would stop eating and be screaming, I’d feel terrible for him and like I was failing so then I’d be crying, Mr. J would be consoling & comforting both of us. Yikes. I’m glad to say we turned the corner.

He’s so fun. He smiles when he sees us and is fascinated when he finds his hands several times a day. Seeing the world through his eyes is just amazing. He’s eating well and sleeping through the night…ahh-mazing! The pups like him. He has a new cousin! Baby N is 3 weeks old now and just beautiful. They’re close in age and it is so exciting.

I can’t believe I’m headed back to work. Wish me luck!! I think I made the most of my time home with him and I love my job/colleagues/our mission so it’ll be ok to go back. I’m sure it’ll be tough to leave my little one, but Mr. J is taking the last of his time off so they’ll have 2 weeks together before starting daycare.

Progress on this year’s goals: 
The Year of the Earring: yes! This month’s earrings came by way of my birthday because who doesn’t need some good fortune?

make more salad dressings: YES! I did it! I made avocado lime dressing for taco salad

factor more time into how long every-day tasks/trips will take: 
Yup. I’m getting better at planning timing and prepping in advance before heading out.

recreate restaurant menu items:
Sure did! I made Cereal Crusted French Toast from Zoe’s in Cambridge.  Theirs is cereal & nuts and such but mine was the perfect use for not-so-great cereal.

be more adventurous with my reading selections:
I read The Interestings and Major Pettigrew’s Last Stand. Neither was a far cry from previous choices but I liked these and am obsessed with getting books for my kindle from the library. Obsessed. 

use the crockpot more:
Nothing this month. Maybe next month when I’m back at work and needing more dinner help. 

seafood once a month:
ehh, nothing super interesting. I made salmon for a his/hers night. I nabbed a bit of his bernaise sauce. Yum. 

Food & Meals to Bring a New Parent

When I was thinking of what nobody/no books told me about being a first time parent, I learned a lot about what foods I’d recommend. I never really knew what to bring new parents but now I have better ideas. On the first night home, my parents gave us a roast chicken, twice baked potatoes, green bean casserole (a fav of mine!) and cookies. It was ahh-mazing to have a real meal and to have leftovers to eat the next day. Some of the other foods they gave were equally appreciated (specifically grapes, salad stuff, and eggs).

Suggested new parent meals/foods:

  • food for their freezer: things they can pull out to defrost or that can go right into the oven. Maybe you don’t know what they’ll have or when they’ll need a meal. Here are some freezer-friendly foods I like. Include reheating instructions & ingredients, just in case.
    The Three Bite Rule - Traditional Lasagna
  • snacks/sides: munchies they can turn into a lunch or for whenever the hunger strikes. My first trip out of the house was for this stuff. Healthy and fresh foods are greatly appreciated after freezer meals. Suggestions: hummus, veggies & pita chips; guacamole and chips; crackers & presliced cheese; salads, fruit, etc. Seasonal items would be fun too. Lemonade & popsicles in the summer or hot chocolate mix and some cookies for the winter, etc.
  • single serve foods: I made some of these and found them helpful when just one of us was hungry, or as lunch, etc. Individual burritos, sandwiches ready to become a panini, or individual muffin-tin servings of food work great.
    muff_tin_spinach_590_390
  • ready made foods are great too. You don’t even have to cook, just buy stuff that goes together to be a themed gift: a “pasta pack” of fun shaped noodles with a jar of pesto, frozen garlic bread; or “bfast bag” with yogurts, granola, orange juice, & some fruit; or a “lunch box” with chicken salad, pita pockets, apples, and chips; or “snack time” with pudding cups, fancy trail mix, goldfish, and a bottle of lemonade. You get the idea. Dress it up with a stick-on bow. Tell them what it is, and then put it away for them if anything needs to be refrigerated/frozen.
  • treats: it doesn’t have to be a meal. A crate of clementines or some cider donuts or whatever is seasonal would be great. Ice cream bars? Yes, please. Something the new parent doesn’t neeeed but would like is fun to have. Trader Joe’s has fun sodas or a neighborhood bakery might have great treats.
    The Three Bite Rule - Cranberry Soda Cocktail

My other suggestions:

  • don’t give them a dish you need back unless you’re family and will be there often. It is easy to give my mom’s dishes back because she can take them on her next visit. From anyone else it’d be annoying to wash, to remember, to store, to coordinate returning it. This is prime time for disposable cookware. Or you could buy them a cheap rubbermaid container & note on it that it is theirs to keep. I’ve heard some people buy Dollar Store plates to give food away on or stuff at yard sales that they don’t need to get back.
  • tell them “no thank you needed” whatever you bring them, tell them a thank you would be for them to cuddle their cute baby or to sleep an extra 5 minutes. You don’t want them scribbling a thank you card (since likely they thanked you for a shower gift & sent a birth announcement, and they’re exhausted). I wish those who I hadn’t ever even met but who were so generous to give a gift said this to me. Students in one of my mom’s classes were so sweet to give gifts, but I didn’t even know their last names. It was hard to come up with a thoughtful thank you note for those folks. I decided my bff wouldn’t mind a thank you text message the night we ate the meal she brought us, instead of mailing a card.
  • arrive the time they tell you and don’t stay more than an hour. The new parents are trying to get the swing of things and don’t need you hanging out all afternoon. Maybe the baby is super happy, well, that might mean they enjoy an hour with you sharing the new babe but the next hour might be naptime, or feeding time, or just the 20 minutes they need to themselves. Unless you are being put to work loading the dishwasher or you’re rocking the baby while they lug laundry upstairs, you should assume it is better to come several times for shorter visits. I have loved visits to have some interactions with people who can converse with me. I’ve capitalized on my parents visiting as time to shower/make lunch/anything that needs 2 hands.
  • tell them they look good/they’re doing a good job/the baby is adorable. Whether any combo of these are true or not, they need to hear these things. on repeat.

February 2015 Roundup

Bring on March. I’m ready. I love my birthday month…hint hint! I’m feeling a bit more settled with the baby and being on maternity leave. I also am ready for the news to no-longer drone on and on about the snowiest February ever. Yes, we can see that, moving on.

February flew by, despite the fact that I didn’t leave the house much. Baby T hadn’t had his 1-month shots (not to mention leaving the premises with a newborn is a production) so I didn’t go many places. It is a good time of year to be home-bound and snuggly. I spent much of February in yoga pants or pjs to breastfeed, nap, or figure out mommy-hood. There were good days, and some of the toughest I’ve had in awhile. What a mix!

Here’s what you may have missed during the food of February:
I highly recommend this quick and easy breakfast bake that is pretty much a savory bread pudding or savory french toast. Do it. Customize it. You’ll love it. This was something I prepped for the freezer and was really happy with it. It puffed up for a fluffy breakfast-for-dinner meal straight from the freezer.
The Three Bite Rule - Breakfast Bake with Ham, Eggs, and Cheese
For the superbowl, I jazzed up some potato skins. They were good, though I could have done a better job making it more evenly seasoned.

I’m so happy how this pulled pork eggs benedict came out. I looove leftovers getting to shine in other ways. This pulled pork has 9 lives. I didn’t see any out so I stalked a guy in the meat area and he got one for me. It was huge, and being priced by the pound meant it cost a small fortune. Even with my cheap-skate tendencies I didn’t mind at all since I knew it’d freeze well and I’d be using it a few ways. Wait till I get the next batch out of the freezer!
The Three Bite Rule - Pulled Pork Eggs Benedict
Hands down, the best dish of February was this salmon with creamy dill dressing. I went from being happy with the most decadent breakfast in the world, to posting a salad topped with fish! It also knocked off 2 of my monthly goals (more seafood & making salad dressing). Yes!!
The Three Bite Rule - Salmon with Creamy Dill & Cucumber Dressing

Progress on this year’s goals: 
The Year of the Earring: you betcha. Here’s this month’s selection 
make more salad dressings:
YES! I did it! I made a Creamy Dill & Cucumber dressing for my salad with salmon.
factor more time into how long every-day tasks/trips will take: I didn’t quite succeed in this when heading out with the babe. I’ll keep it in mind though.
recreate restaurant menu items: ehh. nope. Not this month. Maybe by not going to restaurants I’ll have to recreate what they’re offering.
be more adventurous with my reading selections: I gave up on “All the Light We Cannot See”. I found it depressing and I was battling postpartum hormones so I switched to It Was Me All Along by Andie Mitchell of the blog Can You Stay For Dinner. I loved it, though the beginning was bumming me out a bit. She is enchanting and has a tremendous and moving story to tell of her life-long relationship with food. I highly recommend. Now I’m onto some next options. I borrowed a few from the library for my kindle and will see what I get into. 
use the crockpot more: I made one I really liked! I didn’t blog it since there aren’t many steps/techniques/tips for crockpot food, plus, I didn’t tweak the recipe at all. It was chicken cordon bleu topped with stuffing. It was good, and made for a million servings Mr. J took to work and I ate between feedings for the little one. I cut the chicken into chunks and used some diced spiral ham I had in the freezer from Christmas. 
#seafoodsunday once a month: So it wasn’t a Sunday, but make this salmon asap. You can thank me later. Plus, the seasoned butter was fun to squish.

Maternity Leave & Adventures in Mommy-hood

I’m back…sort of. I shared the arrival of my sweet baby boy Thomas in a little January Recap but here he is if you missed just how cute he is: or follow on instagram if you can’t get enough ;)
birth

It is definitely an adjustment. I’m so in awe of him. I can’t get over just how much we love him. He’ll be sleeping and I just miss him or I’ll get up for a 4am feeding and I feel badly that his diaper is wet rather than feeling tired. I realized the other day that he has more eyelashes than a few weeks ago and that surprised me about how much I know about him.

There are other times that I just can’t figure him out. What is he thinking? Why is he upset and why doesn’t anything stop his cries. Breastfeeding is going well sometimes and other times is so incredibly hard. It is such a gamble. I’m grateful to pass the occasional chance to feed him to Mr. J now that I’ve tried pumping a bit. Overall I think we’re doing well. Time is a bit of a blur. I feel like we’re learning more all the time and I expect that to continue.

Baby T is now just about a month old! How did that happen?? I’m relieved the first month is behind us. I hear it is the hardest and we agree there were definitely tough times as we try to figure out what we’re doing. The baby blues are for real, and I don’t think I’ve shed this many tears before in my life.

But this face, who could resist?
Thomas

Likes: being swaddled; eating a bottle from Daddy!; visits from the family & Skype chats with those farther away; how many snow days have had for us all home together; all the ad-orable outfits he’s been gifted & his soothie pacifier.

Dislikes: some of Mommy’s versions of lullabies (since she doesn’t know all the words); how long it took for us to switch him into bigger (size 1) diapers – he was wetting through newborn diapers but we didn’t make the connection for a few days of many outfit changes; and getting dressed after a feeding.

New Surprises: the puppies sniff  hello daily but haven’t goobed/slobbered/licked him too much; how much he seems to be growing all the time!

Now, for the food since this is (and will remain) a food blog. We’ve been working our way through freezer food and I’m shocked how long it has sustained us, though we also had some help by way of a veggie lasagna roll up delivery and the first night home we were treated to a spread of roasted chicken, twice baked potatoes, green beans, and several cookie/pumpkin bread gifts.

I do really want to cook and make some interesting things. I haven’t done much yet since it seems like 5-9pm are the bewitching hours here and I haven’t gotten out of the house much. I’m thinking maybe I should use this maternity leave also as time to cook interesting lunches (or rather meals) that are Emily-friendly…things that Mr. J isn’t into if daytime is an easier cook-time. We’ll see. I’m back, but slowly and possibly sporadically.

Make Yourself vs Buy for Yourself

It is officially time for maternity leave. “I’ll be back”. In the meantime, I have a few goodies to share out here in the blog-o-sphere until I come back. Enjoy!

I was randomly thinking the other day of a few things I don’t consider worth it to make for myself. I definitely think some things are easy enough and taste so much better when you make it yourself but many I think the creators have mastered and I’m no master chef. I probably COULD make some of these myself but many aren’t things I care to whip up myself. I assume everyone has their own list but here’s what I’ve come up with:

Foods I don’t make myself: others have mastered and theirs are better than mine
marshmallows
hummus
tator tots
crackers, especially cheez-its
pizza dough

Foods that are so worth it to make myself: 
chicken broth (though honestly I don’t have enough whole chickens to make my own)
veggie burgers
mac & cheese (though Kraft has its place in my heart & stomach)
lasagna
spinach & artichoke dip

I should be making my own salad dressing sometimes. That’s one of my goals for this year. It’ll happen.

What do you think is so important/better/tastier/healthier/easier to make yourself?

A Few of My Favorite Things: Kitchen Tool Edition

It is officially time for maternity leave. “I’ll be back”. In the meantime, I have a few goodies to share out here in the blog-o-sphere until I come back. Enjoy!

The more I cooked the more I realized how many super specialized tools there are out there! Since I’m not a chef, but love to cook, I figured I’d share a few of the tools I love the most. I don’t use too many special things that can only serve one purpose. While blogging a dish it takes long enough to cook, makes notes, and photograph that searching for a very specific tool isn’t likely. I do have a few go-to items I think everyone can use.

Dutch Oven/Cast-Iron Skillet:
This one is a toss up of which you absolutely need. I love both. They get super hot and the stove-top to oven capability is sooo handy to finish dinner or keep something hot, or just to use fewer dishes! They’re heavy and sometimes pricey but worth it. I love the flavor (and iron intake benefit) of the cast iron skillet. I love that barely anything can burn in the dutch oven and the cover.
cassolet_beans_590_390

Meat Thermometer:
I swear by the basic $3 meat thermometer you can get from the grocery store or Bed Bath & Beyond. This takes the question mark out of cooking meat! I think this is a must-have. Especially for pork. I believe those who don’t like pork, only have had it overcooked. I think it’s one that’s hard to tell the done-ness but chicken is a great one too to avoid drying it out and ensuring it is cooked enough through the center. Don’t proceed without one.
kale_pesto_pork_590_390
Blender: 
I splurged on a Ninja for a blender/smoothies. I don’t use it daily, but quite often I use it weekly…at least monthly. I love this one I got. I wasn’t about to dish out $400+ bucks for a Blendtec but the Ninja hasn’t left me with any regrets. I have this blender & single serve attachments. I see it online for $120-ish. I got it at bed bath & beyond with a gift card, 20% off, $5 off, and a store credit. It is totally worth it. I make smoothies regularly so I love when they can be contained in 1 cup to mix, drink, then to go into the dishwasher.
creamcicle_smoothie_blend_590_390
Devil Oven Grabber:
This thing is awesome, and arguably one of my most used. I love this silly thing. It helps you to pull the oven/toaster oven rack out. I know, I know, you could do it without this. I use it with the toaster oven where I don’t normally need/keep an oven mit. This guy makes an appearance about 5x a week on average. It is made of silicone so he safely lives ontop of the toaster oven.
devil
What do you grab in the kitchen first?

January 2015 Recap

Woah. Happy almost-February. Mr. J and I are PARENTS. Woah! Crazy! Our babe is just the cutest. Seriously, he’s cuter than any other baby than I have ever seen. I’m allowed to say that…I think. I was due January 9th and our beautiful boy was born January 16th. It felt like we waited forever at the end and finally he was here. We’re just soaking up every move he makes and trying to get the hang of this parenting thing. We’ve been enjoying some freezer staples and capitalizing on leftovers. January didn’t involve many new ground-breaking recipes but was good practice to work through the freezer and figure out what’s around and what we have time for.
10945637_602462435088_299184052308469576_n

Now, the food, before I was a week overdue…
One of the fun things I kicked off the month with was a cornbread waffle that I put leftover chili onto. So fun. I’ll definitely do this again.
The Three Bite Rule - Chili over Cornbread Waffles

The sliders are arguably the most fun menu of January. Part of the fun was the spontaneity but what’s better than sliders, frappes, a fire roaring, and watching the ball drop until dozing off on the couch.
The Three Bite Rule - Burger Sliders
I improved Stuffed Shells with my fav freezer ingredient.
The Three Bite Rule - Better Stuffed Shells
I made up my own Sweedish-ish meatballs. I liked how easy it was to add some flavors I don’t have all the time and would mess around with meatballs again.
The Three Bite Rule - Swedish Meatballs
Maybe Mr. J and I will be coordinated enough to whip up something fun for the Superbowl. We’ll see. I have a hankering for potato skins or mini layered Mexican dips, but it is all up to Baby T.  I’m really just in it for the snacks, but being one of the local teams does make it a bit more interesting.

2015 Goals: these pseudo-resolutions will likely be quite loose while Mr. J and I get our footing as parents.
year of the earring: was a little distraction for a good 15 minutes of by past-my-due-date impatience, purchased via Etsy.

il_570xN.452467536_grt1
make more salad dressings: ehh. making/eating salads might be the first step before thinking I’ll make my own dressing right now.
factor more time into how long every-day tasks/trips will take: this will prob be my goal for the rest of my life
recreate restaurant menu items:something funky on a waffle iron came from a restaurant idea!
be more adventurous with my reading selections: I did get back to my book just the other day but I’m not sure I love it. “All the Light We Cannot See”…reccomendations to stick with it?
use the crockpot more: ehh, not yet, but this seems doable for one-handed cooking/nap-time cooking
#seafoodsunday once a month: not really, but I made some shrimp tacos the other night…does it count if I don’t blog it?

A Few of My Favorite Things: Ingredient Edition

It is officially time for maternity leave. “I’ll be back”. In the meantime, I have a few goodies to share out here in the blog-o-sphere until I come back. Enjoy!

I love trying new ingredients and I’m not always brand-loyal but realized I don’t usually specify those that I love so passionately. They’re not paying me to love ‘em or anything (though after I proclaim my love they’re welcome to send the cash-ola my way…seriously, I’ll be your spokesperson).

Krazy Mixed Up Salt:
I hate the spelling, but love the stuff. I throw it in lots of things and look forward to finding it in my Christmas stocking each year. They also make Krazy Pepper which I use on occasion too. It is like Italian Seasoning of the salt world. My blood pressure is wayyy lower than the average so years ago my Cardiologist has had me upping my salt ratio and this is a great flavor mix to do just that. I use it in place of salt on pizza, popcorn, marinades, sauces, garlic bread, etc. Find it in the spice section of the grocery store. You’ll thank me later.

Pastene Kitchen Ready Tomatoes:
Being introduced to these tomatoes was the only good thing to come out of a pizza class I took once. I love the simplicity of the tomato flavor. It now is almost the only tomato product I use. This is my go-to for pizza sauce, on pasta, in chili, and the list goes on. Sometimes I drop in some basil or garlic, but the blank slate & fresh flavor is why I love it. This makes pizza taste way more traditionally Neapolitan since it tastes purely of tomatoes not sugary like some sauces. This contains: tomatoes, tomato puree, salt, & naturally derived citric acid. That’s it. Find it in near canned vegetables & tomato paste.
neopolitan_pizza_ingred_590_390

Better Than Bouillion:
I love this broth base better than bouillion cubes, bouillion powder, and prepared broth. I happily make broth whenever I can, but while cooking for 2, I rarely have enough chicken bones to keep myself stocked with broth. This tastes better than the other forms I’ve had and it is way more convenient. It comes in bases of: chicken; beef; vegetable; clam; mushroom; and a million others. Note: the label has some metal detailing on it so don’t microwave the jar to get the very last bit in it. Ka-pow! Learned that the hard way!
BTB_P-03-chicken-base

Frozen Creamed Spinach:
I use this all. the. time. It is so good as an instant sauce or added to pizza, pasta, baked potatoes, turned into dip…the list goes on. There is a bit of sodium in it, but other than that it isn’t the worst thing to be eating. It has 20% of your daily intake of sodium, in HALF the package. It is always more like 4 servings the way I use it, so there’s nothing to sweat about there. These little packages are great to keep around in the freezer for whenever.
The Three Bite Rule - Potato Bar
Grated Parmesan:
Not the sawdust stuff. That has zero flavor and isn’t worth the calories of ingesting it. I think the difference is the anti-caking stuff added to it. Parmesan is supposed to be salty and crumbly and delicious. I could grate it myself, but sometimes the price is comparable to buy it grated(near the other cheeses, not next to boxed pasta & tomato sauce).

Portland Pie Company Pizza Dough:
Hands down, the best dough out there. My apologies to anyone not in New England but dough is ahhh-mazing. I can’t make it better than they do, so I only buy theirs. It comes in plain, beer, basil, or garlic. I thought the grocery store stopped carrying it but phew! I found it near the deli/prepared foods area, versus near the refrigerated pastas where it used to be. I keep about 3 in my freezer at all times, and it defrosts in the fridge while I’m at work.

arugula_pizza_dough_590_390
Any brands or items you 100% standby or are go-tos for you?

It is January, Now What

I’m about ready to pop, this little babe is almost fully cooked. I have a few maternity leave posts prepped while I’m away from the blog, though I have no idea when I’ll be back at it. We’ll see!

I’ve felt really lucky throughout my pregnancy. I honestly was looking forward to seeing what kind of crazy food cravings I’d have but there really weren’t many. I wasn’t interested in certain soft things, like yogurt/avocado/oatmeal/etc that I normally eat all the time. I definitely craved cheetos. The beginning was rough with some sickness, thus, my hiatus. The end has been wearing on me. Ever since I hit 37-weeks, I’ve been excited and not wanting to rush nature, but ready to be onto the next phase. I’m uncomfortable, suffering lots of intense back-pain, and I’m not sleeping well. It definitely could be worse, but everything just seems hard to do. It feels like an aerobic feat to snooze my alarm or to put on socks and it is definitely weird that pregnancy becomes people’s open invitation to comment on my body.

Here’s what I’ve been loving lately:

Tis the season for desserts. I’ve happily been fully stocked with cookies, leftover cakes, a peanut butter cheesecake cookie pizza, slices of yule log, and leftover chocolate fondue turned into instant bark with heath & walnut bits.

These crackers are so good. They’re kind of having an identity crisis of being a pita chip & also trying being the most crisp cracker ever. Plus they cost wayyy less than a regular package of pita chips. They began their life with me as a dipper for spinach and artichoke dip for one Christmas celebration and have lived on nakedly because they’re just so good.
Wheat-Thins-Toasted-Pita

While keeping my caffeine intake in check, I’ve been having warm cider all fall to fool my brain into thinking it’s a warm bevvie like coffee. I didn’t realize it is available in the produce section this long!

Lot’s o’ flavored drinks. I think they’re helping me drink more fluids and distract me from the 1,000 bathroom breaks I make per day. I randomly wanted Diet Cranberry Sierra Mist. I don’t know that I’ve ever had regular Sierra Mist and I don’t love bubbles as much as the average person so this definitely came out of nowhere. Mr. J smartly bought me 2 bottles.
SierraMist_Cran_Diet_12oz

Clementines have been a race against the clock. I love them and can’t have just one at a time. I’m on crate #2 even though the acid is killing me by way of heartburn. I’m officially not a fan of the angry kid commercials whose parents aren’t keeping an adequate supply of clementines for them…what brats. #didIsaythat

Fun Finds online: 
If you love Friends, then you’ll love these best food Friends clips.
If you’ve been a server, then you should read & share this great op-ed piece for restaurant workers.
If you need a crowd-pleaser dip, Mr. J made a twist on this chicken ranch dip for one of the Christmases.
If you agree that we all need hot chocolate until spring, here are some spiced up hot chocolate ideas.

December 2014 Recap

It is almost 2015 and the holidays have kept me busy and actually cooking less. This is the time of year many people cook and host more than usual. I’ve been working hard at not over complicating everything. I was wanting to try some new fun recipes but hosting isn’t the time for that, and I really enjoyed a slower paced holiday season.

I refused to let Pumpkin be relegated to November, so I kicked off December with Pumpkin Mac & Cheese with Gouda Brown Butter Sauce. I thankfully have some leftover sauce to relive this tasty dinner.
The Three Bite Rule - Pumpkin Mac & Cheese
The biggest bust of the month was Zucchini Risotto Boats. They were just blah.

My favorite quickie dinner this month was calzone with chicken meatballs, creamed spinach, tomatoes, and cheese.
The Three Bite Rule - Meatball and Creamy Spinach Calzone

I messed around with a ham and fontina rolled up pasta idea I saw on an episode of Diners, Drive-ins & Dives, though I can’t find it and give credit where credit is due. They were fun and so darn cute.
Rosetti Ham & Cheese Rolls - The Three Bite Rule

In an effort to not push my boundaries too far, I whipped out a few freezer favs & quick meals this month like: BBQ Chicken Bubble Up Pizza; aranchini to pair with some pasta one night; broccoli & cheddar soup; bfast for dinner, grilled cheese w/ tomato soup; etc. 

Here are my goals which also wrap up for the year right now:
The Year of the Flower lived on! Mr. J got me poinsettias that are fun for festiveness to have a plant, though I guess our Christmas tree should count too. I also had a cheery mix from my baby shower.  Follow me on instagram for the latest and greatest. I neeeeeed to decide what next year will be the year-of-the-________, other than year of the baby!
send more mail – yes, I sent out all my baby shower thank you notes. No holiday cards this year, since January will include a baby announcement.
make some Pinterest pins a reality - Yup, I made this pin of nutella hot chocolate
try a spin class – um nope. I’m not adding in any super new exercises at this point. I have been trying not to over-do it. I’m watching my fitbit steps to be moving around a bit, but I waddle everywhere and I’m quite tired.
make more cocktails – umm no cocktails for me until January ;) but this nutella hot chocolate was just in the St. Nick of time.
The Three Bite Rule - Nutella Hot Chocolate

Bump update:
It is almost time! I can’t believe it. I’m now 38 weeks out of 40-ish. I feel really good, but also kind of feel like a hippo. The final stretch has come out of nowhere! I’m glad I was super busy in October & November for work and then December was busy with the most perfect baby shower and holiday celebrations with both families. I loved celebrating Christmas with the C family at our house and then the R family. They were really lovely holidays that brought me to tears. It’ll never be the same. Now it is onward to baby-time!

I’ve had a ton of backpain and I’m trying to really hydrate. We wrapped up the supplies and I’ve read a few books. I think we’re as prepared as we can be. I’ve been very interested in desserts, which is quite fitting for this time of year. I’m kind of continuously hungry but don’t want to be packing on the unnecessary weight.

The next few weeks will be crazy but I’m excited. I need to finish getting a few little things ready. I have a crafty-wall art piece planned too! As much as I looooove holiday decor, I’m ready to switch over to full-out baby set up. I haven’t stocked up the freezer yet but I have a list and some ideas. It could be anytime so we’ll see what happens over the next few weeks. When I suddenly go MIA, you’ll know why!

Enjoy NYE! It has never been my holiday but I’ll live vicariously through your champagne!