Tuesday, April 23, 2013

Baked salmon filet with mayo, parm, and breadcrumbs (recipe).

Salmon is our go-to fish for dinner for many reasons. Matt doesn't like most other types of fish, it's low mercury (pregnancy safe), it's easy to make, and with all those omega-3s it's very healthy. I almost always bake my salmon the same way, with a simple dusting of salt & pepper, and a squeeze of lemon when it comes out of the oven. The other day I felt like doing something a little more exciting with it though, and this is what I came up with. It was so easy and tasty! This just might become my new standard way of cooking salmon.

Sunday, April 21, 2013

Flowers, stars, and candles (birthday cards).

I have three fun new birthday cards to share with you! The problem with showing off the cards I make is that I have to wait until after they've been received to blog about them, and it's always so hard to wait. Anyways, these birthdays have passed, so now I can share these cards (I have more cards to share soon, but you'll have to wait a little longer before I can post those).

I did these cards a little bit differently than ones I've made in the past with the Silhouette; I printed the words onto the cards, then cut out paper shapes to decorate the cards. I like the way the mixed mediums look, and it was much faster to make the cards this way too. I'm still using a gluestick to attach the decorations to the cards, but I'd like to find a better way. The glue gets sort of messy on the more intricate designs, and it stays a little bit tacky even after it's dried.

This simple card was made with the candles design that came with Silhouette Studio. I used light blue for the candle stick, green for the candle stripes, and yellow for the flames. The words are printed onto the card.

Tuesday, April 16, 2013

Lemon coconut layer cake (recipe).

I have to be honest, baking cakes from scratch always seems like too much work for me. Box cakes are so much easier, and the results are always reliable. That being said, I do love to dress up the box cakes that I make, and I never use store bought frosting. This lemon and coconut cake was a big hit at the Easter party that we went to, and it was easy to put together.

I made this lemon cream filling as an experiment one day. I was craving something something sweet, but didn't have any dessert in the house. I raided the cupboards and found an extra can of sweetened condensed milk. I decided to experiment by squeezing a lemon into the condensed milk. When I first started mixing it together I wasn't sure what would happen, and it looked a little strange. I kept mixing though, and suddenly it came together into a lovely, creamy, velvety sauce. This mix is delicious over pancakes or waffles too, but I especially love it with coconut in this cake.

Saturday, April 13, 2013

Potatoes au gratin (recipe).

 Potatoes are my favorite comfort food. I love them in any form: baked, fried, mashed, roasted, sliced, boiled, etc. There aren't many foods that work so well for every meal, and even snacks. I would be happy to eat potatoes every time I sit down to dine. Breakfast? Hashbrowns. Lunch? Potato salad. Snack time? Potato chips, obviously. Dinner? Well, the choices are endless, but I'm going with potatoes au gratin this time. Dessert? Okay, you might have to get creative to have regular potatoes for dessert, but sweet potatoes make a tasty pie.

This potatoes au gratin recipe is delicious, and pretty easy to put together. The most important part is making sure you give the potatoes enough time to fully cook and get nice and soft. If you need it to cook a little quicker, cut the potatoes up smaller. No one wants a crunchy half raw potato in their au gratin. I based this recipe off of The Pioneer Woman's Perfect Potatoes au Gratin, and I've made it a few times now making my own adjustments.

This dish makes a lot (about 10 servings), and it's great for feeding a crowd. Of course, you can halve the recipe if you don't want as much, but it also makes great leftovers, so I recommend making a full batch. Last time I made this, I actually made a double batch. One pan I cooked up immediately for my friend's Easter dinner dish-to-pass, and the other pan went into the fridge for a few days to be baked later in the week when family was here visiting. I love that this can be prepared ahead of time, and popped into the oven when needed.

Monday, April 1, 2013

March instagrams (photography).

April is here, and it's time for another Instagram round-up. I think I say this every month, but I can't believe how fast time is flying by! March was another great month, and I'm excited that Spring is officially here; longer days, warmer temps, and more sunshine make me a happy lady. We had a great time with Matt's brother & sister-in-law, Matt enjoyed his spring break (he worked most of the time, but we enjoyed having a full weekend off together - a true rarity), and we ended the month with a wonderful Easter party yesterday hosted by our friends Adriane and Rhys. As always, you can follow along on Instagram @MdoubleMcrafts.

Spring is here in full bloom; there are fresh flowers and tender new green leaves everywhere. I'm loving the extra sunshine, and I can't wait until it's warm enough to swim again.

Tuesday, March 26, 2013

Happy birthday cards (silhouette craft).

Unfortunately, I think I mis-addressed this card, resulting in it never being received. Shucks.
I made a few more birthday cards, and a Valentine's day card last month using the Silhouette. I'm getting more comfortable using it, and there's less error in my trial and error process now. These 3 designs are all pretty simple, so I'll just give you a quick rundown of how I made them. I have a box of blank 4.25" by 5.5" cards and envelopes, so I use those as the base when I am making cards to mail.

For the first card (above), I simply chose a font I liked, and laid it out with the balloons. I put a rounded rectangle that was slightly smaller than my card around the design, and then I cut it out. I glued the design to the front of the card, then colored in the balloons with colored pencils. Easy and cute.

Sunday, March 24, 2013

Liebster award time (blogging news).

I must apologize for being so quiet on the blog this past week. For some reason I have felt rather uninspired to write. I have a few posts in drafts, but I haven't been able to muster the motivation to finish them. We've been rather busy in real life, with a trip to LA, and then having family stay with us for a few days. Additionally, I've been having exhausting dreams about going on epic adventures, and I wake up feeling like I've been running around all night (although, in a way, I enjoy them, as they are like watching exciting adventure movies). The next few weeks will also be quite busy, but I will try to stay more up-to-date on blogging (although I'm not making any promises).

Last week I was nominated for a Liebster award by the lovely Shandy from Aprons 'n Pearls! Liebster is German for sweetheart, darling, and beloved (and boyfriend, but I'm going to go out on a limb and say that that's not what the award means). This is a fun way to get to know new bloggers, and to share a little bit about yourself. Here are the rules (I copied these verbatim from Shandy):

Tuesday, March 19, 2013

Wanderlust (treasury Tuesday).

There's just one treasury to share this time, but it's a beautiful one! This travel inspired collection is full of amazing maps used in many creative ways. Enjoy!


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Sunday, March 17, 2013

Crockpot Mexican lasagna (recipe).

This is an adaptation of a recipe that my mom used to make when I was younger (actually, I think she still makes it, I just haven't had the chance to eat her version in many years). Of course, since she's a vegetarian, her version doesn't have meat in it, and she makes it in the oven instead of the crock pot, but the idea is the same. I made this last week when I was trying to figure out what to do with all of the corn tortillas and beans that I had bought on my last shopping trip. At the time, I couldn't remember what my mom called the dish, so I couldn't find a recipe online. I decided to make one up as I went along. I'm happy to say that it came out delicious.

This is a very hearty dish, and this recipe makes a lot. It makes delicious leftovers, and I was happy to eat this for lunch for several days after making it. It's also quite versatile, I used steak, but you could easily substitute pork, chicken, ground beef, ground turkey, or even leave the meat out. You could also throw more veggies in (I think corn would be a great addition). Use whatever size tortillas you have on hand (you would even use flour tortillas), just make sure there's a complete layer each time. Think of this recipe as a basic outline for you to add your own twist to!

Thursday, March 14, 2013

My childhood neighborhood (writer's workshop).

When I read the prompts for the writer's workshop last weekend, I immediately knew I would do number 1) What do you miss most about your childhood neighborhood? I grew up way out in the country in upstate New York; we were way out in the sticks, the backwoods, the middle of nowhere (but it wasn't Podunk, that was a few towns over). As a kid, especially a teenager, I longed to live in a city, but now that I look back on it I miss being in the country.

I spent my childhood running through the forests, splashing in creaks, playing with bugs, climbing trees, swimming in ponds, rolling in the grass, and so on. I spent my childhood outside, in nature. Whenever I go back home, I am stunned by how beautiful the Fingerlakes area is (of course I only go back in the summer). I love living in a city now, and there are many conveniences that I would have a hard time giving up, but I still miss the wild things.

This little cabin is where I lived for the first few years of my life. It still stands on my father's land, but no one has lived there for at least 10 years now. It's rustic (very rustic), but it's so cute too. When we lived there, the land around it was cleared, but these saplings have grown up over the years.

Tuesday, March 12, 2013

Coconut orange pineapple smoothie (recipe).

I've been making and drinking so many smoothies lately. One of my main pregnancy cravings has been smoothies, and it's a craving that I am happy to indulge in (especially since I got a new blender for Christmas!). I've been experimenting with flavors, and I recently started throwing a handful of coconut in with the fruit. It provides a fantastic tropical burst of flavor to the drink.

This recipe makes a fairly thin smoothie; simply use less juice if you want it to be thicker. I always use frozen fruit because it thickens the smoothie without having to add ice (plus it's so convenient). If you are using unfrozen pineapple, you should add a few ice cubes to the mix. This tropical smoothie brings a little bit of summer in anytime of the year.

Sunday, March 10, 2013

Saint Patrick's Day roundup (recipe and printables).

Time is flying by this year, and holidays keep sneaking up on me! I have done absolutely nothing to prepare for St. Pat's this year (unless making potatoes au gratin last night counts...). If I'm lucky, I'll remember to wear green on the 17th, so that no one pinches me. Here are a few of my earlier Irish themed posts:

Slainte means cheers. You can find this printable here.
Another Irish blessing; you can find this printable here.
Finally, one of my favorite potato recipes. This is an upstate NY dish that was invented by the Irish salt miners. The recipe is here.
 Someday I will become organized enough to have holiday crafts and recipes done far enough ahead of time to share with you (well, maybe). For now, I hope you enjoy these goodies from the past year.


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Friday, March 8, 2013

Cheddar chive biscuits (recipe).

I love biscuits; flaky, buttery, and they work with every meal! I made these to go with soup for dinner, and we had a few leftover to enjoy with breakfast the next morning. This recipe is adapted from Ina Garten's Barefood Contessa Family Style cookbook. I don't use my cookbooks enough, but the few things I have made from this cookbook have been fabulous (and the pictures are drool worthy).

The original recipe didn't involve cheese, but I've been on a cheese kick lately (who am I kidding, I'm on a permanent cheese kick). Ina Garten's biscuits are rolled out and cut into rounds, but drop biscuits are much easier and faster. I made these in the food processor, so the dough came together in just a few minutes. You could also make these with a mixer, or even by hand. The only thing I would change is to make a double batch next time so that we would have twice as many to enjoy.

Monday, March 4, 2013

Green, and blue, and pink for spring (treasury Tuesday).

Lots of treasuries to share this week. I did something a little different this time, instead of putting the link to the treasury in the title underneath, I made the pictures into links. Let me know how you like it.

Sunday, March 3, 2013

Cheese coin crackers (recipe).

This is another recipe from Cook's Country magazine (they've never steered me wrong). I first made these over the holidays to bring to a Christmas party (a few people thought they were sugar cookies at first, I'd recommend labeling them to avoid a strange taste bud surprise). They were a huge hit, and I ended up not having any left to take pictures of. When my mom was here earlier this month, I talked her into making up a batch for the baby shower, and this time I made sure to snap some photos before they were all gone.

This recipe makes about 5 dozen cheese coins (perfect for a party), but if you want to make fewer you can freeze the extra dough (for up to one month). The original recipe calls for cheddar cheese, but we substituted pepper jack which gave them a lovely little kick of spice. The dough is mixed entirely in the food processor, so this comes together very quickly.

Friday, March 1, 2013

February instagrams (photography).

February was a busy month for us. My mom and step-dad were out to visit, we had our baby shower, we found out the gender of the baby (on Valentine's day!), and we both had birthdays. Whew! That's a lot to pack into a short month. Next month Matt's brother and sister-in-law will be in SoCal, and we are looking forward to seeing them! You can follow me on Instagram at MdoubleMcrafts

Even though the weather was a little grey and cool (compared to what we're used to), it was much warmer and sunnier than upstate NY at this time of year, so my mom and step-dad wanted to spend as much time as possible outside. We took a wonderful afternoon hike at Torey Pines through the trails, and then down to the beach.

On Saturday, our friends Adriane and Rhys threw a small baby shower for us (it was early for a shower, but we wanted to do it while my parents were out here). One of the activities involved tying all of our wrists together with a long piece of string; then we cut the string between our wrists, so that everyone has a small string bracelet that they keep on. Whenever anyone notices the bracelet, they send positive thoughts to the baby.

Matt's mom stayed in San Diego after the baby shower, and the next day we all went to the San Diego Zoo Safari Park. The cool weather meant the animals were all quite active. It did start raining at the very end of our visit, but we were all ready to head home at that point anyways. There was a sweet little baby elephant who kept nuzzling in underneath his mom.

On Valentine's Day we finally got to see our baby on the ultrasound. I can't think of a better way to spend Valentine's! We are expecting a precious little baby boy on July 19th. That evening we went out for a delicious dinner, and I talked Matt into ordering the lobster so that I could sneak a few bites of it. I got him to wear the bib too, so that he could be sure to get the full experience.

Later in the month we had some beautiful warm (almost hot) weather and blue skies. I have to get at least one picture of the beach in every month. These stunning white flowers are blooming on trees all over the city. After a quick google search, I believe it is an evergreen pear.

Matt brought me these beautiful tulips to surprise me one day. Tulips are such cheerful harbingers of spring.

This sweet puppy belongs to the family I nanny for; he is an 18 month old weimaraner who thinks he's another one of the kids. The seagulls were staring us down while we had a little picnic by the ocean. I love the way the sun halos the adult one.

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Wednesday, February 27, 2013

Balloon birthday card (DIY).

I've been playing around with my Silhouette Cameo, and I am slowly learning how to do new things with it. I mainly use it to create stencils for the glass etching that I do for my Etsy shop, but I know it can be used for so much more than that. This is the first birthday card that I made with it, and I did this mostly through trial and error (I thought I knew what I was doing, and didn't need directions, so I ended up wasting a few pieces of paper...). I have a few more cards to show you soon, but I want to wait until after they've been received.

The balloons are a design that came free with the Silhouette. I separated them and cut each balloon individually instead of as a bunch. The bow was part of the same design (there were strings too, but I opted to draw strings on instead). The rest of the design is simply text cut out of an oval (I hand trimmed the edges of the oval after gluing it to the card), with pink paper underneath. I'm having fun learning how to create cards with the Silhouette, and I'm hoping to get back into making handmade birthday cards for everyone. The design process is still slow for me, but luckily there are thousands of fantastic pre-made designs in the Silhouette store (and they give everyone a new free design every week).
I added another bunch of balloons on the inside of the card.
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Sunday, February 24, 2013

Lemon cream pie (recipe).

Earlier this month, my mom and step-dad came out from NY to visit, enjoy the SoCal weather, and celebrate the coming baby. We had recently been up to LA to see Matt's father, and he sent us home with several dozen lemons from his tree. When my mom saw the giant bowl of lemons, she knew just what to make with them: lemon cream pie. This was so good, we actually made it twice while they were out here! She got this recipe from my aunt, who adapted it from a recipe she saw in a magazine (my mom had no idea what magazine).

This recipe is really easy, and the flavor is amazing. This pie would be heavenly topped with whipped cream, but it doesn't need it. The sweetened condensed milk adds a nice creaminess that balances the tangy lemon. I will definitely be making it again soon.

Thursday, February 21, 2013

The End of The Night Song (Nay O).

Sometimes when we're being silly, the hubby and I like to make up new lyrics for songs. I don't remember how we got started with this one, but last weekend we turned The Banana Boat Song (Day O) into a clubbers lament. This is in honor of the distaste for clubbing that Matt and his best friend share (and honestly, so do I).

Nay O, nay O
Nightlife come and me wan' go home
Nay, me say nay, me say nay, me say nay
Me say nay, me say nay O
Nightlife come and me wan' go home

Stand in line 'til quarter of one
Nightlife come and me wan' go home
I pay too much for a drink of rum
Nightlife come and me wan' go home

Hey Mister DJ man, I'll be standing outside
Nightlife come and me wan' go home
Hey tipsy lady don't you see my pretty bride
Nightlife come and me wan' go home

Pay 5 buck, 8 buck, 10 buck cover
Nightlife come and me wan' go home
5 buck, 8 buck, 10 buck cover
Nightlife come and me wan' go home

Nay, me say nay O
Nightlife come and me wan' go home
Nay, me say nay, me say nay
Me say nay, me say nay, me say nay
Nightlife come and me wan' go home

A drunken bunch of underage ladies
Night life come and me wan' go home
Bouncers and doorman acting shady
Night life come and me wan' go home

Pay 5 buck, 8 buck, 10 buck cover
Nightlife come and me wan' go home
5 buck, 8 buck, 10 buck cover
Nightlife come and me wan' go home

Nay, me say nay O
Nightlife come and me wan' go home
Nay, me say nay, me say nay
Me say nay, me say nay, me say nay
Nightlife come and me wan' go home

Come Mister Barman, tally up me tab now
Nightlife come and me wan' go home
Come Mister Barman, tally up me tab now
Nightlife come and me wan' go home

Nay O, nay O
Nightlife come and me wan' go home
Nay, me say nay, me say nay, me say nay
Me say nay, me say nay O
Nightlife come and me wan' go home

Here's the original for you:

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Tuesday, February 19, 2013

Spring is in the air (treasury Tuesday).

I can't believe how fast this year is going by already! Spring begins in just one month, but it feels like 2013 just began. These two treasuries are helping me get in the mood for spring however. Enjoy!

Éirinn go Brách by Monica Morelli

Feel the Spring by Emily Liu

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Sunday, February 17, 2013

Shredded beef from the crock pot (recipe).

This is another simple and easy recipe for meat in the crockpot. I love throwing beef or chicken into the slow cooker in the morning even if I have no idea what I'm going to make with it later on. It's versatile, and it makes putting dinner together so easy. We ate this shredded beef on sandwiches the first night, the second night I used some in a breakfast casserole, and the third night I added a little extra spice & put it in tacos. It was delicious all three ways, and it was so convenient to have this already prepared to use each night.

Thursday, February 14, 2013

Happy Valentine's Day (writer's workshop).

Aren't these bags adorable?! I won them from The Mandatory Mooch.

Happy Valentine's Day! Whether you are celebrating with friends, a new fling, a long time love, family, or even treating yourself to a quiet night alone, I hope you are enjoying yourself and treating yourself well. This year I'm sharing with you the highs and lows of my Valentine's experiences over the years.

Tuesday, February 12, 2013

Peperoncini refrigerator pickles (testing Pinterest).

I apologize for my lack of posts last week. My mom and step-dad came out to visit from NY and we were far too busy to spend much time on our computers. However, I do have a few awesome recipes that I can't wait to share with y'all from when they were here (lemon cream pie, and cheesy coins). First, though, I want to show you this super simple tip that I came across on Pinterest. The original pin called for adding onion and vinegar too, but I wanted to see if I could make it even simpler (although I bet the pickled onions come out delicious too).

I love peperoncinis, but I always hate throwing out the jar of pickling liquid at the end. It's so full of flavor, I just knew there had to be something yummy that I could do with it. I wanted something quick and easy (there are some amazing looking beef crock pot recipes out there that use pepperoncini juice too, and I will have to try them sometime). When I came across the idea of simply slicing cucumbers and putting them into the jar to make refrigerator pickles I was delighted. Three days later, when took my first taste, I was over the moon. I really had to restrain myself from eating the whole jar right then and there. They are crispy and tender, and the flavor has that perfect spicy and vinegary balance of a peperoncini, but a little bit milder. I'll never throw my peperoncini juice away again!

Peperoncini Refrigerator Pickles

1 jar of peperoncini juice (mine was about half full after the peppers were gone)
1 cucumber

1) Slice the cucumber into thin rounds.

2) Put the rounds into the jar; fill the jar almost completely with cucumber, but leave a little space so they can move.

3) Let marinate in the fridge for several days, shaking occasionally.

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Tuesday, February 5, 2013

Sweet music (treasury Tuesday).

In honor of Valentine's day coming up next week, I wanted to share these sweet heart themed treasuries that I've been featured in recently. Enjoy!

Play that Funky Music, Valentine by Holly Tamales

So Sweet by Jacquie Summer

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Saturday, February 2, 2013

Quick beef & broccoli (recipe).

This is a super simple recipe that can be made in a hurry. I love that it incorporates vegetables, meat, and starch in one dish, so you don't need to worry about side dishes. This also tastes great using chicken or pork instead of beef.

Quick Beef and Broccoli

10 to 12 ounces broccoli (fresh or frozen)
10 to 12 ounces thin cut beef rump round (or chicken, or pork)
1/2 cup ponzu
2 tbs Sri Racha
1/4 cup teriyaki sauce

1) Combine the ponzu, Sri Racha, and teriyaki. Marinate the meat in this mixture (I like to start marinating the meat in the morning if I remember, but even a 30 minute marinade will do the trick).

2) Lightly steam the broccoli.

3) Remove the meat from the marinade, and saute over medium high heat for one minute. Add the remaining marinade and cook for an additional minute.

4) Stir the broccoli and meat together. Serve over rice.

Serves 2 to 3 people

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Thursday, January 31, 2013

January instagrams (photography).

Overall, January was a beautiful month here. We had some rain, but we also had many gorgeous warm sunny days. Despite getting sick (twice! ugh) I still made it out a few times to get some pics of our fantastic city.

We had lots of blue skies. My friend from back home jokes that in San Diego "partly cloudy" means there's one or two small fluffy clouds floating around in the distance; today the weather on my phone said it was "partly sunny," and I didn't see a single cloud all day. We're spoiled here (you should see the fuss - and traffic - that a few drops of rain creates!).

Wednesday, January 23, 2013

My tiny kitchen (writer's workshop).

I'm back for another week of the writer's workshop. This week I'm choosing Kat's third prompt: Show us your kitchen! Don't get me wrong, I'm not choosing this prompt because I think I have a beautiful kitchen. On the contrary, I want to show you that you don't need a huge fancy kitchen to cook your heart out (although I do dream of double ovens, six burner stove tops, and islands full of storage; heck, even a few feet more counter space or a window would be amazing, but I digress).

We've been in our place for three and a half years by now, so I have the kitchen set up just how I want it, and I am comfortable in it. One nice thing about having a small kitchen is that everything is always within a few feet of you (never mind that sometimes that means a few feet above my head causing me to climb to reach it... these are the perils of being vertically challenged). Anyways, the moral is that you make do with what you have. I've even made Thanksgiving dinner for 8 people in this kitchen. It took some planning, good timing, and a lot of stacking, but I made it work, and you can to.

Okay, enough talking, now I have to go clean the kitchen so that I can take some pictures to share with you (at least since there's no window I don't have to worry about taking pics during the daytime!).

 Here's the overview shot; you can see that I wasn't kidding when I called it small. It's long(ish) and narrow, so there's not much space for more than one person in there at a time. Matt and I are always sidestepping each other trying to get to the fridge or microwave.

Tuesday, January 22, 2013

Pastry wrapped pears (get your chef on).

I love participating in the Get Your Chef On challenges. So far I've competed in the lemon, coconut, and apple challenges; it's always fun to be challenged to use an ingredient in a new or unusual way, but what I really enjoy is seeing what everyone else comes up with. When I saw that this rounds theme was pears I had no idea what I would make. Honestly, I don't know if I had ever cooked with pears before (I don't know why - they are delicious poached, in tarts, and even in jams). I turned to Pinterest for inspiration, and I was not disappointed!

This dish was inspired by the beautiful picture in the recipe for Pera in Crusta. The only problem, is that the recipe is in Italian. With the help of Google translate, I was able to get an idea of what it said. I adjusted the recipe (the original calls for brandy, and what's the point of cooking with alcohol if you can't have a few sips while you're doing it?!), gave it a try, and was delighted with the results. This is an impressive looking recipe that is actually very easy to put together (15 minutes of prep work, tops), and can even be put together ahead of time. The only changes I will make next time are 1) add a little cinnamon to the honey and butter mixture, 2) cut the pie crust into thinner strips so that it wraps around more times, and 3) not flare the edges before putting it into the oven (I think they will flare on their own while baking).