The Strawberry Blondes Famous Pulled Pork | Boston Food Blogger and Her Rescue Pup

It has taken me many years but I think I have finally crafted my perfect recipe for pulled pork. A few years back I made it for our Biochef Competition at the biotechnology company I was working for at the time. It was so popular that entire crockpot filled with pork was gone by the end of lunch. And the best part was that I won first place! I kept the trophy front and center on my desk at work because I was so proud of my award winning pulled pork. :) That was the first time I had made pulled pork and over the years my recipe hasn’t really changed much but I have tweaked it a bit to reach the ultimate deliciousness.

There are a zillion different ways to make pulled pork. My brother Brian and my Dad make it and they each have their own style. I am a fan of BBQ pulled pork and my secret ingredient is Sweet Baby Ray’s Hickory & Brown Sugar sauce. It is the perfect BBQ sauce for executing the most deliciously tangy and sweet pulled pork.

And now for the recipe:

Start with a boneless pork shoulder. Because some of the shoulder will be fatty, you want the shoulder to be at least 4 pounds to be able to yield enough pulled pork once you trim the fat.

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Wash the pork and pat it dry with paper towels. Next take out the ingredients for the dry rub. You need brown sugar, cinnamon, cayenne pepper and nutmeg. Since you want to use about a tablespoon of each spice, I usually separate the spices into these adorable ramekins from my Gram.

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In addition to the spices you will need about 1/4 cup of the brown sugar. Rub all of the ingredients onto the pork covering every surface. I don’t usually combine all the rub ingredients into one bowl so I can monitor how much of each spice is going onto the rub. I usually end up with a little nutmeg left over.

Next grab a big crockpot and fill the bottom with about an inch of liquid. For this particular recipe I used apple cider and maple syrup but if you don’t have cider you can use water and maple syrup.

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Lay the pork into the crockpot and cook on low for about 12 hours. Or cook on high for 7-8 hours. The cooking time really depends on your crockpot and the size of the piece of pork. To test whether it is done stick a fork into the middle and twist it. If the pork falls apart – it is finished!

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Once the pork has slightly cooked pull it out of the crockpot and lay it onto a cutting board. Pull it apart and discard the fatty pieces. Place all the pork into a bowl and dump about 1/2 to 3/4 of a bottle of the Sweet Baby Ray’s Hickory & Brown Sugar. Mix it together and taste test it. The amount of BBQ sauce really depends on how moist you want the pork.

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Another great thing about this recipe is that you can easily double of triple it depending on how much you need to make. Just make sure you have enough BBQ on hand!

Hope you enjoy this recipe as much as we do in our house!

PS if you haven’t checked out the @PoochontheMove on Instagram lately be sure to visit his page. My little famous sidekick in the kitchen has taken over the Insta scene!

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Butternut Squash Everything with The Strawberry Blondes | Boston Food Blogger and Her Rescue Pup

Fall and winter vegetables are among my favorite foods. Every chance I get at a restaurant you will see me ordering butternut squash risotto, turnip purée or roasted sweet potatoes. My fiancé can definitely attest to this. It’s like Christmas morning any time I see butternut squash or pumpkin ravioli on a menu. It’s the little things in life, right? Maybe I am a bit too obsessed but I’m sure there are other people out there who can enjoy these savory comfort foods as much as I do.

Not Your Average Joe’s is a local restaurant chain that is always serving up something seasonally delicious that I cannot resist. A few weeks ago I ordered a homemade pasta dish with a creamy mushroom sage sauce with roasted butternut squash, chicken and spinach. How in the world could I resist this?

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This meal sparked a two week period of me cooking butternut squash everything. I found a delicious recipe for curried butternut squash soup in my Eat Well Eat Happy cookbook. This soup is so hearty and delicious – you have to try it!

The soup calls for about 9 cups of diced and cooked butternut. In addition you will also need:

about a cup of sliced shallots
2 cloves of chopped garlic
1 teaspoon of Thai red curry paste
About 1 can of light coconut milk
1 tablespoon of ginger. I used ground ginger because I didn’t have fresh.
Juice from 1 lime
3-4 cups of chicken broth

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Heat olive oil and cook the shallots. Add ginger and garlic until well combined with the shallots. Next add the butternut and chicken broth and bring to a boil. Cook until the squash is tender then remove from the heat and cool slightly. Once cool, purée the soup.

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Pour the coconut milk into a small bowl and stir in the Thai red curry paste. Stir the coconut milk mixture into the soup and return the soup to the heat. Stir the lime juice in and enjoy!

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Makes a great lunch!

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Another one of my favorite butternut squash dishes is butternut lasagna. Jon’s Mom makes this and it is so delicious but very filling! You need low fat ricotta, lasagna noodles, marinara and mashed butternut.

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For the ricotta mixture in the lasagna, I add dried sage and ground pepper. In between ricotta layers mix in a few layers of mashed butternut squash. Top the lasagna with an extra layer of cheese and bake for about 45-50 minutes on 350.

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Thanks for reading!

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All About Apples | The Strawberry Blondes | Boston Food Blogger and Her Rescue Pup

It’s fall! This is, in my humble opinion, the best food time of the year. Pumpkin everything, apples, squash, soups and comfort food at its best. My Grammy had told me over the phone that she made applesauce and it sounded so delicious I had to try it!

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I peeled, cored, and sliced a big bag of Macintosh apples. I had a few gala apples so I threw those in too. I sliced the apples about as thick as you would for an apple pie (Gram’s recommendation), about a quarter inch thick.

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I put all the apple slices into my Dutch oven, then added about 3/4 cup of apple cider. The apples let off a lot of juices so you don’t need very much juice. I cooked the apples on low for about 20 minutes. Then I sprinkled a bit of nutmeg and about a 1/2 teaspoon of cinnamon. The apples are so delicious that you really don’t need any spice but I added it in anyway.

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The last thing I did was use the hand blender to purée the applesauce. I packaged it up and we ate it as a snack all last week. Yum!!

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Fall is bittersweet because while I love boots, bubble vests and cider, it also means we have to put the boat away for the season. We hauled Destiny a few weeks ago and tucked her in the yard for the winter. Tobes hung around in the yard all day with us eating sticks and leaves and rolling around in the grass.

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Another delicious fall favorite is an apple cider mimosa. Cidosa? Mimosapp? Whatever you want to call it, it’s delicious. Just add apple cider to champagne and you have a festive fall cocktail.

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Happy November!

Bourbon Chicken | The Strawberry Blondes | Boston Food Blogger and Her Rescue Pup

I found this meal on Pinterest from the blog Pinch of Yum and knew I had to try it. Sticky bourbon chicken and delicious white rice? What a great combo. Jon and I are definitely not bourbon drinkers but we had a nip of Jim Beam laying around which was just enough to make dinner. One of the things I liked so much about this dish is that it only requires ingredients right out of the pantry to make.

I adapted the recipe a bit to fit our taste. For the chicken you need 3 or 4 boneless chicken breasts. In a bowl, combine about 3/4 cup low sodium soy sauce, 1/4 cup grape seed oil (or any oil), 1/2 cup rice vinegar, about a nip of bourbon (1/4-1/2 cup depending on your taste buds), a teaspoon of minced garlic, teaspoon of freshly chopped ginger, and 1/4 cup brown sugar. Mix the ingredients in the bowl together and add a little black pepper. Lay the chicken in a baking dish and then pour the mixture over the chicken. Next dice up a couple scallions and sprinkle on the chicken. Cover in plastic wrap and let it marinate for at least 4 hours. I made it the night before.

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Bake the chicken uncovered on 350 for about 45 minutes, basting the chicken with the juices every 10 or 15 minutes. For the last 5 minutes of cooking turn the oven on broil to get the chicken golden brown. Serve over white or jasmine rice with extra chopped scallions on top!

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Hope anyone in the Boston area is staying dry from all of the rain. Tobes is definitely a big grump when it comes to the rain and doesn’t want to get up out of bed.

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Eggplant And Chicken Parm | Boston Food Blogger and Her Rescue Pup Tobesmcgobes in the Kitchen

We are huge fans of any Italian meal in our house. There is nothing like a good tomato sauce baked with chicken, pasta and cheese. In an attempt to switch up my normal chicken parmesan I also made eggplant parmesan and it was really delicious – almost good enough that we didn’t miss the chicken.

Chicken Parm:
I breaded the chicken with egg, flour, breadcrumbs and parmesan cheese. I used plain panko breadcrumbs and mixed them with a little Italian seasoning. For my chicken breasts I actually just used a little parmesan cheese instead of the full breading routine I used for Jon’s because that’s the way I like it. I cooked the chicken in a skillet for a few minutes on each side and then baked in the oven for another 15 minutes until cooked through.

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About 2 minutes before I take the chicken out of the oven I topped it with some mozzarella cheese and turned the oven to broil. This makes the breadcrumbs crispy and the cheese melt. Top with pasta and sauce and you’re all set!

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Eggplant Parm:

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Slice the eggplant and dust the slices with salt on either side. Let the eggplant drain in a colander for about 30 minutes until most of the bitter juices are released. Wipe the eggplant with a paper towel to remove any excess salt because you don’t want it to end up too salty.

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I like to make a panko breadcrumb and parmesan cheese mixture for the breading of the eggplant. First dunk the eggplant into an egg/milk mix and then coat with breadcrumbs and cheese. You can add a little chopped parsley or dried Italian seasoning to the crumbs for extra flavor. Cook the slices on either side for 2-3 in a medium heat skillet until the breadcrumbs are browned. Transfer the eggplant to a paper towel to remove any excess oil then move to a baking dish, cover with a little marinara and top with mozzarella. Bake the eggplant for about 30 minutes.

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Today I am including a few of my favorite puppy pictures from the day we got the peanut. Tomorrow is the 4th anniversary of the day we picked him up from the rescue league. He traveled all the way from Tennessee overnight in a van marked “Pooches On the Move”. When we picked him up he was shaky and nervous but we scooped him up and told him not to worry because his life was about to drastically improve. Little did we know what a truly loveable, hilarious and adorable dog he would become.

Tobes meets his Dad

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First snuggles with his Mom

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First look at Boston

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Riding home in the car

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Meeting his Aunt

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First drink of water at home (only the size of a flip flop!)

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And check out Tobes on Instagram! His alias is Poochonthemove 😄.

Patriotic Cookies | Boston Food Blogger and Her Rescue Pup in the Kitchen

Since today is such an important day of remembrance in US history, I thought I would blog my red, white, and blue, double chocolate chip cookies. I actually made these earlier in the summer but I thought today was an appropriate day to show my pride for our great country and post them on the blog.

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I typically make chocolate chip cookies using the recipe on the back of the Nestle Toll House chocolate chip bag. Not original at all but they are SO good! It is also a great base for a cookie recipe that can be modified easily which I love about it. For my patriotic cookies I used red and blue m&ms and chocolate chips.

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Follow the recipe on the bag but instead of just chocolate chips, add m&ms along with about half a bag of the chocolate chips. Only bake the cookies for about 8 minutes if you want the cookies to be soft and chewy.

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Healthy Summer Breakfast and Lunch | Boston Food Blogger and Her Rescue Pup in the Kitchen

August is rapidly coming to an end but I am determined not to be depressed about it. Jon, Tobes and I have been soaking in the last days of summer. We have been sailing, swimming, paddle boarding, running all while trying not to notice it is getting dark outside earlier every day.

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We have been trying to eat healthy. Within this post I have a few of our favorite lighter breakfast and lunch ideas. The first is a Greek yogurt parfait. I have fallen in love with Fage Greek yogurt. The Fage website has a lot of interesting savory recipes I am dying to try. I eat the yogurt every day and most days mix it with fruit or a little bit of granola. Parfaits are a fun treat because they combine all the ingredients in a pretty bowl. For this parfait I used a fresh peach, mandarin oranges, Fage yogurt, a tablespoon of honey, and vanilla granola.

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I mixed the honey with the yogurt to add a little sweetness to the plain yogurt. Next layer all the ingredients and enjoy for a yummy breakfast!

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Next up, one of Jon and my favorite things. Mojo chicken! One of my Dad’s special cooking secrets is a marinade called Mojo. You can find it at most grocery stores. It is a delicious combination of garlic, onion, citrus fruits and spices.

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I marinate and cook chicken in the Mojo almost every week because it pairs well with a lot of different sides. Mojo chicken also is delicious in an arugula salad. All you have to do is marinate the chicken, saute the chicken in a heated skillet and serve over arugula, fresh cherry tomatoes and a little feta.

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Last but certainly not least is a summer favorite, iced tea. I made a raspberry iced tea and sweetened it with a bit of lemon. It is my Mom who gave me the idea to brew tea bags to make iced tea. I bought decaf so I can enjoy it at any time of the day. Brew the tea bags in boiling water and then add more water to dilute the mixture. Once chilled, add a few slices of fresh lemon and enjoy!

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I hope you are soaking up the last days of summer, wearing your white jeans and enjoying those last late summer sunsets!

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Bridesmaid Cookies! 👰 | Boston Food Blogger and Her Rescue Pup in the Kitchen

I bet there are not too many brides or brides-to-be out there who aren’t completely obsessed with Pinterest. Before I got engaged I barely knew what Pinterest was. But now? Every day I look forward to pulling out the iPad and scrolling through millions of wedding photos trying to find the perfect pair of wedding shoes or the most beautiful center pieces for our wedding. This has made Tobes and I realize that The Strawberry Blondes need a Pinterest page! This is something we have started working on so check Pinterest soon for The Strawberry Blondes latest pics and recipes!

I realized I wanted to bake something for my bridesmaids to formally “ask” all the girls if they would be a part of our wedding day. I began searching bridesmaid cookies on Pinterest. Holy cow there are a lot of options! And besides cookies you can order wine bottles with bridesmaid labels, bridesmaid nail polish, bridesmaid tote bags – the list goes on forever. I wanted to keep the cookies somewhat simple but also make sure the wedding theme came across.

I went to Michael’s and bought a wedding cookie cutter set. I also bought a few tubes of icing and some candy pearls to decorate. Michael’s has everything!

The recipe for the sugar cookies is fairly simply. You will need the following ingredients:

❤️ 1 cup butter
❤️ 2/3 cup sugar
❤️ 1 egg
❤️ 1 tsp vanilla
❤️ 2 1/2 cups sifted flour

Cream the butter and sugar together then beat in the egg. Add vanilla and flour and mix until all blended together. You need to chill this dough for 3-4 hours before rolling out for cookies. Once they have chilled, roll out the dough until it’s 1/4 inch thick and cut with the cute cookie cutters. Bake 8 minutes on 350 degrees on a non-stick cookie sheet.

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For decorating the cookies, I made a super easy icing using just confectioners sugar and milk. Basically put sugar in a bowl and mix in milk until you reach the consistency you want. I learned a great tip from my co-worker to pipe icing around the edges of the cookie and then fill in the middle with thinner icing. It worked really well and I think they came out pretty cute! I made cards for each bridesmaid and attached them to the bags of cookies.

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I hope you enjoy my DIY Pinterest cookies. Check back soon for The Strawberry Blondes on Pinterest!

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The Strawberry Blondes Make Pies | Boston Food Blogger and Her Rescue Pup in the Kitchen

I hope I didn’t fake anyone out with the title of this post but I have not been baking apple pies in the middle of August. I have, however, been creating a few of my favorite things: chicken pot pie and quiche! A household favorite in our apartment is chicken pot pie. I make it probably once a month with whatever veggies I have on hand. Tobes especially loves when I make pies because he knows that I will inevitably spill flour on the floor when I am rolling out the dough. Tobesmcgobes vacuum service is always on hand to clean up!

Here is a perfect example of how he just sits and waits for me to spill.

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I always keep frozen dough in the freezer. No, I don’t mean dough I have made myself. 😃 I am referring to the roll-out store bought kind that tastes almost as good and no one notices the difference (especially not my fiancé who loves my chicken pot pie). It’s such an easy way to make a hearty meal in a short amount of time.

For this pot pie I used chicken breast that I boiled in chicken broth and then shredded. I didn’t have any fresh veggies in the fridge so I took out a bag of frozen corn, green beans and carrots from the freezer. I cooked the veggies in a saute pan with a tiny bit of olive oil to cook them then added them into the pie dish with the chicken.

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Now for the gravy. I melted one tablespoon of butter in a skillet then added about a teaspoon of flour. Next I whisked in chicken broth until all the lumps of flour were incorporated. A few pinches of dried thyme and a little black pepper adds just enough flavor to the gravy. Stir the gravy until it thickens and then pour it into the pie dish.

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I rolled out the crust and covered the pie. It typically takes about 40 minutes on 350 degrees but maybe a little less – keep an eye on the crust so it doesn’t burn.

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Eggs are another staple in our house. We eat a lot of eggs. Fried eggs, egg salad, bacon egg and cheeses, and my personal favorite – quiche! I love quiche. They’re quick, cheap, easy and delicious. All you need to make a quiche is eggs, pie crust, and some kind of filler. This week I made a ricotta, roasted tomato and caramelized onion quiche and it has been a real treat eating it for lunch.

You already know how I feel about dough so it’s the same process. Just roll it out and plop it into the bottom of the dish.

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Take an entire pint of cherry tomatoes and slice them in half. Place on a roasting pan with some fresh rosemary and some black pepper. I sprayed the tomatoes with a tiny bit of olive oil spray too. Roast on 350 degrees for about 20 minutes.

While the tomatoes roast, dice up an entire yellow onion and place in a saute pan with olive oil until translucent. Next add a tablespoon of butter and cook on low heat for about 20-25 minutes until the onions are nice and caramelized.

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I used a tart dish for this quiche so it would be a bit bigger. Crack about 9 eggs and whisk together with half a cup of ricotta cheese. Pour the cheese and eggs into the tart dish.

Once the tomatoes and onions are done take them out of the oven and spread evening into the tart dish. Bake the whole thing on 350 degrees for about 40 minutes or until the eggs are solid.

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Since the ice bucket challenge to raise awareness for ALS has completely taken over the world side web in the last few weeks, I thought I would do a throwback of Toby doing his own version of the ice bucket challenge. Here he is back in June swimming in the ocean before the water went above 60 degrees. WAY too cold for most normal humans to go swimming but that didn’t stop Tobes. He didn’t voluntarily jump in but fell off the dock while trying to lick some algae floating by. Luckily he was attached to his leash so Jon jumped in the row boat to steer him back to shore. Pure comedy. Graceful like his Mom. 😃

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The Summer Adventures of the Strawberry Blondes | Boston Food Blogger and Her Rescue Pup in the Kitchen

It has been a crazy busy summer! I have to admit that wedding venue hunting and Pinterest have been distracting me from blogging. Wedding planning is so much fun! Jon and I have been all over Massachusetts researching and viewing venues. I have been finding time to cook here and there but we have also had a few really amazing meals in Boston over the last few weeks.

We went to a delicious Peruvian and Southern Italian restaurant with Jon’s Grandmother last week called Taranta. It is in the North End of Boston and has a great view of the city skyline. I had a really tasty pan roasted chicken breast stuffed with fontina cheese and spinach with olive compound butter, crispy smooth polenta and roasted tomatoes. I am definitely going to make the olive compound butter – so tasty.

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Macaroni and cheese is one of my all time favorite meals. I definitely made the right decision in ordering the house specialty at the Yard House. This plate of mac and cheese was one of the best I have ever had. The dish was made with campanelle pasta, mushrooms, chicken, bacon, cheddar and parmesan cheese and of course, truffle oil. Wash the meal down with a pint of grey lady brewed by Cisco Brewery on Nantucket and YUM!

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Jon and I also had dinner with one of my bridesmaids and her boyfriend last week at the new restaurant that opened in Charlestown, Legal Oysteria. An Italian seafood inspired menu, the atmosphere, service, food and cocktails were all fabulous. I am so happy to have a new place to eat in our neighborhood. I had steak pizziaola with a delicious and spicy garlic tomato sauce over crispy rosemary potatoes. Mmm makes me hungry just thinking about it.

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It has been a very busy few weeks but The Strawberry Blondes are back in the kitchen and cooking up a storm! Tobes has been sleeping soundly every night because his weekends have been so jam packed with fun. I thought I would share a few hilarious pictures of his snuggles over the last few weeks.

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Check back in later this week for our latest adventures in the kitchen!