Easy Oven Baked Whole Potatoes

“Not everyone can be a truffle. Most of us are potatoes. And a potato is a very good thing to be.” 
~ Massimo Bottura

I love baked potatoes. They go well as a side dish for barbeques and salads, but you can also load them up with toppings and have them as a meal on their own.

The potatoes are quick to prepare but need around an hour to cook. It’s well worth it. The end result is a chewy crispy crust and a fluffy steaming interior, ready for a dab of butter and some chopped herbs or whatever else is your pleasure.

They’re also delicious cold and chopped into a salad.

Ingredients:

  • 1 large potato per person
  • olive oil
  • salt

Method:

  1. Preheat the oven to hot – about 200 degrees celcius or 400 degrees fahrenheit
  2. Line a baking tray with foil.
  3. Cut out any blemishes from the potatoes, wash with water and pat dry with a cloth or paper towel.
  4. Prick the potatoes several times with a fork or skewer. This helps steam escape.
  5. Rub the potatoes all over with olive oil. Place on the tray and sprinkle with salt.
  6. Place in the oven and cook an hour minutes, turning once or twice during that time. Check doneness with a fork or skewer. It should be tender inside. Bigger potatoes may take longer to cook through.
  7. Eat with gusto!

Great toppings for your baked potatoes:

Tip: If you use cheese as a topping consider popping filled potatoes under a hot grill or back into the oven for a few minutes to melt the cheese!

  • Sour cream, butter or yoghurt and some chopped fresh herbs
  • Guacamole and salsa
  • Cooked bacon, cheese and chives
  • Baked beans, a fried egg and some cheddar cheese
  • Pizza sauce, pepperoni and mozzarella cheese
  • Basil, fetta cheese, red onion and sliced black olives
  • Leftovers smothered in cheese
  • Ham, tomato and cheese
  • Bean salad and dressing
  • Hummus, sliced red onion and some rocket (arugula)
  • Baba ganoush, a dollop of yoghurt and some fresh mint

Easy Stuffed Capsicum Bell Pepper Recipe

“The most remarkable thing about my mother is that for thirty years she served the family nothing but leftovers. The original meal has never been found.” 
~ Calvin Trillin

I’m crazy for leftovers. There is something completely satisfying about cooking a large batch of something and then being able to make easy meals for days. One of our favourite easy meals is leftovers stuffed into capsicum (bell peppers) and baked, with cheese added near the end for some satisfying melty goodness. When you bake red capsicums they end up so sweet and tender. Yum!

Whenever I cook up a pot of Chilli Con Carne or make Spaghetti Bolognese sauce or my Cheesy Bean Pie I’ll make a double batch and freeze portions for emergency meals or to give to friends and family who need extra love and care. I also keep some in the fridge to use during the week when I’m tired and need something fast to prepare and good to eat. In fact almost everything I cook is a big enough serve to have leftovers for breakfast or lunch the next day. It saves on cooking and washing up and helps stretch ingredients further.

Ingredients:

  • cold leftover meat or bean dish
  • cheese that melts well
  • red capsicum/ bell peppers
  • fresh herbs as a garnish if you could be bothered or a little sprinkle of smoked paprika or cracked black pepper
  • a tossed salad or fresh bread or toast or corn chips as a side

You can use any left-over meat or bean dish. Feel free to mix cooked cold rice, vegetables or pasta in too. I’ve also used diced cold roast meat and vegetables, leftover cold mashed potato and peas with sausages, even cold curry and rice will do.

No leftovers? Try a tin of beans, tofu or tempeh with some salsa and chopped onion. Grated fresh vegetables with cheese also works a treat. So does my Easy Baked Egg Recipe.

Method:

Preheat your oven to moderate (170 degree celcius fan-forced or 180 degree oven – 350 degrees fahrenheit).

Cut the capsicum in half lengthways or if you have a good shape that sits nicely on its bottom chop off the stalk end. Remove any stalk and the seeds and white pith with your fingers or a small sharp knife.

Stuff the capsicums and place them in a greased dish with high sides. Place in the oven for about twenty minutes if you chopped them in half longways. You’ll need forty minutes if your capsicums are whole ones. The longer you leave them the softer and sweeter the capsicum will become. (It’s fine to turn the oven right down too and hold them until you’re ready to eat them. I left these ones in the oven over an hour before cheesing them because we had to chase a calf that had snuck into my vegetable garden!) Add your cheese to the top of the capsicums and return to oven at moderate temperature for another ten to fifteen minutes or until cheese is melted nicely.

Remove from oven and cool slightly. Transfer to serving plates. Sprinkle with a little smoked paprika, cracked pepper or fresh diced herbs if you’re feeling fancy. Enjoy!

Roasted Brussels Sprouts and Sweet Potato Salad with Lime and Garlic Dressing #Vegan

“It is more fun to talk with someone who doesn’t use long, difficult words but rather short, easy words like “What about lunch?” 
~ A. A. Milne

It’s a known fact that historically Ben won’t eat two things – Brussels Sprouts and Cottage Pie (which he calls Poo Pie!) after bad experiences at boarding school back in the day.

I have managed to win him over to a good Cottage Pie (which we are only allowed to call Savoury Mince Thing with Mashed Potato on Top) but have not been able to convince him of the deliciousness of Brussels Sprouts, until I invented this Salad.

This warm salad was born from the need for me to whip up something healthy and yummy for lunch but EASY because I am still unwell and lacking stamina so I wanted something nurturing that I could chuck together with minimum fuss. You can eat this as a main meal and proportions given will serve two, or four people as a tasty side.

Baking the Brussels Sprouts gives them a nutty flavour – super yum. Don’t be afraid – they really are delicious. The addition of apple gives a sweet note that contrasts well with the fresh tangy dressing. Enjoy!

Ingredients:

  • two cups of cubed sweet potato
  • one green apple cut into cubes
  • two cups of Brussels Sprouts cut in half lengthways
  • a tablespoon of olive oil
  • cumin and smoked paprika to sprinkle on your roasting vegetables (or leave it off if you don’t have these spices at home)
  • 2 to 4 cups of fresh green spinach leaves
  • 1/4 cup of walnut halves
  • 1/2 an avocado cubed
  • Dressing: 3 tablespoons fresh lime juice, 3 tablespoons olive oil, 1 to 2 cloves of garlic minced (use to your own taste – I love garlic!), 1 teaspoon of honey, 1 teaspoon of coconut aminos or Braggs or soy sauce or tamari sauce or a pinch of salt (use what you have to hand)

Directions:

  1. Place cubed sweet potato, Brussels Sprouts and cubed apple onto baking tray and toss with one tablespoon of oil. Sprinkle some cumin and smoked paprika over and then roast in a moderate oven ( 180 degree oven – 350 degrees fahrenheit ) for 30 minutes or until cooked and golden.
  2. Scatter spinach over the bottom of your serving bowl or plate.
  3. Make dressing by putting all ingredients in a jar and shaking well so that they emulsify and blend together. Taste dressing and adjust to your liking by adding
  4. Add baked vegetables to top of spinach. Scatter the avocado and walnuts over and then pour on the dressing.
  5. Serve on its own or as a side dish.

Five Dishes to Cook for a Fabulous Easter Feast

Cooking is at once child’s play and adult joy. And cooking done with care is an act of love. ” 
~
Craig Claiborne

If you’re looking for inspiration for a tasty and easy meal to share with your family this Easter I have some simple suggestions for you.

There’s a creamy Celery Soup for starters, followed by Slow Cooked Leg of Lamb with a Ruby Grapefruit and Asparagus Salad and Hasselback Potatoes, and Hot Cross Bun Bread and Butter Pudding for dessert.

If you’re vegetarian or vegan I’ve added some tips and twists in for you too.

Then all you need are a few drinks, some family or friends, some music and some relaxation time. Easy!

Just click on the link to access each recipe.

Soup: Cream of Celery Soup Recipe This is a super-healthy and totally delicious soup that is also useful for boosting your immune system and warding off colds and flu bugs. It makes a lovely first course and is gluten-free and can easily be made as a vegan dish.

Note: If you couldn’t be bothered with a big meal or you’ve eaten too many Easter Eggs why not have some cheese, crackers and fruit as your first or last course and pair that with this soup. Make sure you have some good bread to go with the soup – you’ll find it tasty and satisfying.

Salad: Ruby Grapefruit and Asparagus Salad

This is a scrumptious and very pretty salad and the acidity of the grapefruit goes well with the richness of the lamb roast.

Vegetarian? Throw in some extra avocado and feta cheese, double the size of the salad and forget about the lamb roast. Make sure you have some yummy bread as an accompaniment. A good rye bread or grainy sourdough is a great choice for this salad.

Vegan? See tips for vegetarians and omit the feta cheese.

Carb:Hasselback Potatoes? Opera House Potatoes? Best Ever Baked Potato Recipe!

This potato recipe is a favourite in our household and I will often make them for special occasions or when friends come to visit (which is often for us because we are blessed with good friends and good neighbours). They are crunchy on the outside, soft in the middle, and you won’t be able to stop at just one!

Main: Slow Roasted Leg of Lamb with Garlic, Herbs and Red Wine

Easter and Lamb Roasts go hand in hand. This is a simple recipe – it takes little effort and the results are always a show-stopper. It’s a moist, flavour-filled, melt-in-your-mouth dish that is easy for beginner cooks. It’s almost impossible to stuff up. But you do need five hours of cooking time, and fifteen minutes prep, as well as fifteen minutes to rest the roast after it has cooked. Totally worth the wait though!!!

Note: Sorry, vegetarians and vegans. If meat is not your thing I have no substitute for this one.

Dessert: Hot Cross Bun Bread And Butter Pudding

This pudding is made several times over the Easter period in our house, as it’s so simple and easy for feeding guests and we don’t seem to tire of it either! It’s a silky smooth bread pudding with a lightly spiced sweet custard – heavenly!

If you manage to have any as left-overs it is great eating cold as well. (We have been known to eat the leftovers with a big mug of tea or freshly brewed coffee as breakfast when we have had a late night at Bluesfest.)

Note: Choose gluten-free buns or bread it needed. You can also use your favourite type of non-dairy milk, a butter substitute, and if you need to be egg-free replace the eggs with one cup of applesauce.

I encourage you to give these recipes a try.  Hopefully some of them will become an Easter Tradition in your household too.

Much love to you, ♥ Nicole xx

Easy Sweet Potato and Apple Bake – Savoury

“I’m eating’ it quick… but I’ll remember it a long time.” 
~  Marjorie Kinnan Rawlings

 

I would love to say that I had a picture of this awesomely delicious little bake intact and looking as amazing as it did when it was still in one piece. But I don’t because we gobbled it up for Sunday lunch with friends, and it was only after the initial feasting frenzy died down that I remembered I hadn’t taken a photo when it was fresh from the oven. Still, this image will suffice. You can see the apple, the onion, the sweet potato and the spices. You can see how tasty it was. In fact I’m glad I took a picture when I did because even though we all declared ourselves groaningly full ten minutes later this bowl had been picked clean!

This bake will go well with any kind of roasted or barbequed meat or seafood or would make a great vegan main course. The layers of red onion, apple and sweet potato meld together into total deliciousness. We teamed ours with lamb chops and a fig and roasted tomato salad.

This bake would also make a lovely Thanksgiving or Christmas Dinner addition.

Ingredients:

Choose enough ingredients to fill the sized bowl you’re going to bake in. Truly!

Sweet potato, apple (I used Pink Lady apples), red onion, butter or butter substitute, salt and pepper, nutmeg, one cup of stock, bone broth or a stock cube with water (I used some homemade chicken stock but use whatever you have to hand!

The ratio of sweet potato to apple is 2:1.

Method:

Peel the sweet potato and cut into slices no more than 1cm thick.

No need to peel the apple but cut into slices (not the core!).

Thinly slice one red onion.

Lightly butter your dish and then arrange layers of sweet potato, onion and apple to the top of your baking dish. Add a few extra dollops of butter to the top. Sprinkle salt and pepper and add some freshly grated nutmeg. Carefully pour in the stock.

Bake in a moderate oven (180 degrees c) for one to one and a half hours or until well done – soft vegetables and browned on top. Cooking time will be less for a dish with only a few layers of vegetable, and more for a dish with deeper layers. You’ll figure it out. Enjoy! If you ever get leftovers of this it is also delicious served cold.

 

Easy Kale and Orange Salad with Miso Dressing

“Let food be thy medicine and medicine be thy food.”
~ Hippocrates

 

This is a super-scrummy salad that is easy to prepare and chock full of goodness.

It’s satisfying enough that you could eat a bowl on its own, but it’s also a great side for roasts and barbeques.

I use kale leaves as a base and then add whatever other raw vegetables are in the fridge to make up four cups. Needless to say it tastes a little different every time I make it!

The dressing is also stupidly easy.

This salad will feed your gut microbes, adding in friendlies from the miso paste, and using the acid in the orange juice to make everything more digestible. The umeboshi plum has a myriad health benefits, and your gut will love it!

The salad will only keep for 24 hours once you add the dressing, so it is best made close to serving, and any leftovers eaten the next day. Want to make a higher protein meal in a bowl? Add some white beans, grilled or cold cooked chicken, pork or seafood.

The dressing can also be used as a glaze (don’t make it quite as thin) for baking/grilling salmon.

Enjoy!

 

Ingredients:

2 cups of shredded kale leaves (not the rib!) and a selection of the following to make up another two cups of shredded vegetables: carrots, zucchini, beetroot, apple, red or green cabbage. Plus one small red salad onion, an orange and a couple of tablespoons of your favourite seed and nut mix. I sometimes use a trail mix that also has dried cranberries and sultanas for some OMG yumness.

For the dressing you’ll need two heaped teaspoons of white miso paste, juice of half an orange (give or take) and if you like, add a 1/4 teaspoon of umeboshi plum paste to give a salty tartness to the dressing (and for the awesome health benefits of this condiment).

Method:

Shred or finely cut your kale, cabbage, carrots, and other vegetables of choice to make 4 cups. Add to a large bowl. I like the act of slicing and chopping. I use it like a mindfulness meditation, especially at the end of a long day of psychic work. It gives me decompression time. But if you are in a hurry or would rather decompress in front of Netflix using a mandolin or a food processor will have this job done in no time! Ridiculously time poor? Buy a bag of salad to add to your onion and orange combo. Finely dice the red onion, peel the orange and cut into small cubes, removing any seeds.

Chuck the onion, orange and seed and nut mix into the bowl of vegetables.

Dressing: Add the miso to a cup, and the umeboshi if you are using it. Umeboshi is strong flavoured, while white miso and orange are sweet and mild so be cautious about adding too much at first. Then add a small amount of orange juice and mix. Keep adding juice until it is thinned to a good consistency but still creamy. Taste and adjust juice or miso flavours if necessary. Pour over salad and mix well.

It doesn’t take much juice to go from thick to creamy. This pic below is with a tablespoon of juice. A bit more of a stir and it would be great as a glaze. But for dressing we’ll need to add more juice.

Pour over the dressing just before serving. Yum!

Ruby Grapefruit and Asparagus Salad

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‘Are you casting asparagus on my cooking?’
~ Curly Howard

 

This is such a simple salad, and it’s easy to throw together, but it tastes like a celebration!

It might seem like a little work to segment the grapefruit, but it makes for a pretty result, and no chewy pith or seeds!

Serve this salad on its own or as a tasty side with your next barbeque, fish fry or roast dinner.

 

 

Salad Ingredients:

Four handfuls of rocket and spinach (arugula) or your favourite salad green leaves, one small red onion, one ruby grapefruit, two bunches of fresh asparagus, 1/2 cup of fetta cheese, 1/2 cup of roasted cashews, olive oil

*If you’re cow’s milk intolerant, use a good sheep or goat fetta.

*If you’re dairy-free, substitute some chunks of avocado.

Dressing:

1/4 cup balsamic vinegar, 1/2 cup extra-virgin olive oil, 1 clove of garlic – crushed and pressed or diced finely, 1 teaspoon honey, pinch of salt, grind of black pepper

Place all ingredients in a jar and shake well. The mixture will become thick and creamy. USe what you need on your salad and store the rest in the fridge for up to one week.

 

 

Method:

Layer the leaves in the bottom of a large serving bowl.

Halve the onion and cut into thin slices. Separate the rings with your fingers.

Slice the ends of the grapefruit and then remove the rest of the peel. Using a sharp knife, cut between each membrane to remove the segments of flesh. Set aside.

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Cut the fetta into bite-size pieces.

Add a dash of olive oil to your frypan. Snap or trim the ends off the bottom of the asparagus spears. Toss over a medium flame for two to three minutes or until cooked but still crunchy.

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*Warning: Be careful not to eat too much asparagus before it gets to the salad dish!

Lay the asparagus, grapefruit, onion, fetta and cashews over the top of the leaves.

Drizzle with dressing. Toss and serve.

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Mango Salsa Recipe

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“All in all, it was a never-to-be-forgotten summer — one of those summers which come seldom into any life, but leave a rich heritage of beautiful memories in their going — one of those summers which, in a fortunate combination of delightful weather, delightful friends and delightful doing, come as near to perfection as anything can come in this world.”
~ L.M. Montgomery, Anne’s House of Dreams

It’s a long hot summer, here in Australia. But that’s okay because… mangoes!

This salsa recipe is sweet and savoury, with a little heat. It’s one of my favourite summer salads.

You can eat it this salsa on its own, with corn chips, in rice paper rolls, with rice and beans, piled high on nachos or tacos, wrapped into burritos, and it even goes well with barbecued and roasted meats.

Any left-overs will keep for up to a week, refrigerated, if it lasts that long.

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Ingredients

2 large ripe mangoes, 1 small bunch fresh coriander (cilantro) , 1/2 small red onion, 1/2 cup of finely chopped spring onion/green onion, 1 fresh sweet (not hot) red chilli (or use extra capsicum), 1/2 large red capsicum (bell pepper), 1 lime, salt, Mexican chilli powder or your favourite chilli flakes or seasoning

*Note -if coriander is not your thing substitute parsley or green onion/spring onion

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Method

Slide a knife down the mangoes to remove the cheeks from the seeds. Use a sharp knife to cut into the cheeks in narrow rows lengthways and then widthways, carefully cutting all the way down to the skin. Use a spoon to remove the flesh and place it in a large bowl.

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Sprinkle the mango flesh with a little salt and a dusting of your favorite chilli seasoning or flakes. If you don’t like chilli don’t use any!

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Finely dice the capsicum, red chilli and onion. Then finely chop your green onion and coriander.

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Juice the lime and pour over. Taste and adjust seasonings if necessary. Mix well and leave to stand for ten to fifteen minutes for the flavours to develop. Devour!

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Hasselback Potatoes? Opera House Potatoes? Best Ever Baked Potato Recipe!

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“Zen does not confuse spirituality with thinking about God while one is peeling potatoes. Zen spirituality is just to peel the potatoes.”
~ Alan Watts

 

When I was little my grandmother used to cook these potatoes when we visited for Sunday Roast, only she didn’t call them Hasselback potatoes. Marga called them Opera House Potatoes, because according to her they looked like miniature Sydney Opera Houses. But hey, it was the seventies, and we were a culturally proud nation! It wasn’t until my mid thirties that I found out these potatoes were also known by another name…

I love these easy baked potatoes. They have a delightfully crispy outside, but the inside of the potato is soft and creamy. On Christmas Day I thought I had cooked enough for an army, and we only ended up with two as leftovers for Boxing Day. That’s how good they are!

Here’s what you need to do to make them yourself:

Ingredients:

  • Potatoes suitable for roasting (check here for good roasting varieties) I like washed varieties that I can leave the skin on, because it’s easier and tastier. Favourites include Desiree, Nicola and Golden Delight, or Pink Eye when I can get them.
  • Olive Oil (or your fat of choice)
  • Salt

How do you work out how many potatoes to cook? I would decide on an amount per person, and then bake extra. Seriously. The worst that can happen is that you’ll have leftovers, and that’s actually a happy situation as they are delicious cold too.

Method:

Preheat your oven to moderate (170 degree celcius fan-forced or 180 degree oven – 350 degrees fahrenheit).

Wash your potatoes and pat dry. Peel if they need peeling.

Cut the potatoes in half lengthways. Place cut side on a paper towel or clean kitchen towel to absorb any moisture.

Using a sharp knife cut a series of slits in the potato, being careful not to cut all the way through. Leave about an uncut centimetre at the bottom of every potato to hold the potato together.

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Rub each potato well with olive oil and place onto a baking tray. I like to use a piece of baking paper to line my trays because it makes cleaning up easier.

Sprinkle with a little salt.

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Bake for one hour or until crispy on the outside and soft and well-cooked on the inside.

Serve with just about anything!

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Variations: You can happily sprinkle cheese, herbs or bacon on top of these spuds before baking, or when serving.

Here’s the finished product.

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Easy Green Sauce for Potatoes, Pasta or Meats

 

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“She pulls on her heavy boots and carries the water bucket past the rose bushes, past the herb garden, and back to the barn behind the house. Her steps kick up the scents of herbs: thyme, mint, and lemon balm. The plants send up new stems each year from the roots that survived the winter and grew up again along the path. The perfumed walk is a mystical part of her world. Walking here is her favorite part of mornings. Sometimes, this is the highlight of her day.”
~ J.J. Brown, Brindle 24

 

One of the pleasures of being home at my farm is going for a wander through the vegetable garden and picking something fresh for dinner.

Yesterday I bought some fabulous fresh Nicola potatoes at the Mullumbimby Farmers Markets, which I boiled up to accompany a simple roast lamb and salad for our dinner.

Our garden beds are bursting with herbs right now, and this quick little sauce gives potatoes a zesty tang. Plus it is brimful of green goodness.

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Ingredients:

1 large clove of garlic, juice of half a lemon, 2 handfuls (about 2 loose cups) of mixed fresh herbs – I used basil, parsley and dill but please use whatever you have to hand, 1/4 cup of olive oil, 1 tablespoon of butter, pinch of salt. Note: if you want to keep this as a vegan sauce omit butter and add an extra tablespoon of olive or coconut oil. A little extra oil if needed.

Optional extras: If you feel inclined, add a teaspoon of spirulina powder or a spoonful of your favourite green powder blend to make a total green power sauce!

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Method:

Place the garlic, herbs (make sure they are washed and that you have removed any woody stalks), lemon juice, olive oil, salt and butter in a blender or food processor. Process until combined.

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If you don’t have a food processor chop all ingredients finely, melt butter and oil gently until just warm, and then add in herbs and lemon juice and stir well.

The sauce will be bright green, and very aromatic. Add little extra oil if sauce is too thick.

To serve, pour sauce over freshly boiled potatoes.

 

It also goes well with steamed or grilled vegetables, pasta, fish and most meats.

Eat and enjoy!

(If you look closely at the picture below you’ll see Bert pressed between me and the counter, waiting for a tasty treat to tumble to the floor.)

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I also sprinkled pumpkin and sunflower seeds over the potatoes for a little extra texture, and because they are yum. 🙂

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Dinner was delicious!

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