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Why Not Wednesday – Flank Steak on Ciabatta with Red Peppers

Sometimes appetizers can make the best meals for dinner, particularly on a weeknight when you may have run out of ideas of what to make, just want something quick and easy or are trying to make use of some leftovers so that you can clear the fridge, make a quick meal and get something tasty. This recipe from New York Times Cooking can do all of those things depending on the ingredients you choose to use. The original recipe is for a grilled flank steak on ciabatta bread with red peppers. I did modify my version slightly, using some leftover steak that we had from one meal and instead of the chopped red peppers I substituted some jarred roasted red peppers I had in the fridge. I think it came out just as well as the original recipe sounds, but I will post the original recipe here for you to use.

Grilled Flank Steak on Ciabatta with Red Peppers

1 1 3/4 to 2-pound flank steak

6 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil

2 teaspoons smoked paprika

Salt and freshly ground black pepper

2 tablespoons black olive tapenade

1/3 cup finely chopped flat-leaf parsley

1 red onion, coarsely chopped

4 garlic cloves, slivered

2 large red bell peppers, cored and coarsely chopped

1/2 cup dry red wine

1 large loaf of ciabatta bread, halved horizontally

Smear the flank steak with 2 tablespoons of the extra-virgin olive oil and massage the smoked paprika into the steak. Season the steak with salt and pepper and set the steak aside. Combine 1 1/2 tablespoons of the black olive tapenade with the chopped parsley and 2 tablespoons of the olive oil and set it aside.

Heat the remaining olive oil in a large skillet. Add the red onion and saute the onion over medium heat until it is soft, about 4 to 5 minutes. Add the garlic and saute briefly, then add the red peppers. Reduce the heat to low and saute the vegetables gently until they are very tender, about 30 minutes. Stir the mixture occasionally. Stir in the red wine and the remaining black olive tapenade then remove the mixture from the heat.

Heat a gas grill to hot, or alternatively heat a grill pan over medium-high heat. When the pepper mixture is done, place the steak on the grill or the grill pan and sear the steak, about 2 to 3 minutes per side for medium-rare. The timing may differ depending on the thickness of the steak that you use, so you can make a diagonal cut at one end of the steak to check the doneness.

Transfer the steak to a cutting board and place the ciabatta halves, cut side down, on the grill to toast. Alternatively, you can place the ciabatta halves on a baking sheet under the broiler. Watch the bread closely to avoid burning and heat for about 2 minutes on the grill or 3 to 4 minutes under the broiler. Smear the toasted ciabatta with the reserved tapenade and parsley mixture. Slice the steak thin on the bias and arrange the steak slices atop the toasted ciabatta. Reheat the pepper mixture and spoon it on top of the steak. Cut each ciabatta half in six pieces, arrange on a platter and serve.

This is a pretty quick meal to put together if you take some shortcuts. As I said, I had some leftover steak from an earlier meal that I sliced thinly and quickly heated in a grill pan. I used roasted red peppers and some baby yellow peppers I had on hand along with the red onion and instead of using tapenade (which Michelle doesn’t like and I didn’t have on hand), I used some sliced black olives and sliced Kalamata olives in its place and it worked out quite nicely. We had this for dinner along with some rice and vegetables, but this could also be a great item for an appetizer or even for a buffet table if you are having a party. You can put it all together pretty easily and have a nice spread. I really liked the taste of the steak mixed with the olives, onions and peppers and put that all on top of some crunchy ciabatta and it was pretty awesome.

That’s all I have for today. Check back next time for another recipe. Until then, enjoy the rest of your day and enjoy your meal!


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Posted by on October 1, 2014 in Appetizers, Beef, Cooking, Dinner, Grilling, Leftovers


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A Chicken Dinner Thanks to Bobby Flay – Pan-Roasted Chicken with Mint Sauce

Trying to find new things to do with chicken can get tricky after a while. I am always on the lookout for new ways to try making poultry with new sauces and flavors. because we eat so much chicken, you really have to try to vary things now and then so everyone does not get bored with just he same old meal. I found this recipe from Bobby Flay listed on the New York Times Cooking site (which is a great site and resource for recipes and articles by the way) and not only did it seem really simple but looked to use some different flavors to change things up for your chicken dinner. It is a very simple recipe for pan roasted chicken with a mint sauce. Bobby Flay uses bone-in chicken breasts for the recipe, but I used a combination of breasts and thighs and it worked out just as well I think.

Bobby Flay’s Pan-Roasted Chicken with Mint Sauce

For the Chicken:

4 bone-in, skin on chicken breasts

Kosher salt

2 tablespoons paprika

2 teaspoons ground cumin

2 teaspoons ground mustard

2 teaspoons ground fennel seed

1 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper

3 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil

For the Mint Sauce:

1 cup fresh mint leaves

1/2 cup fresh parsley leaves

4 cloves garlic, peeled and roughly chopped

1 Serrano chile, seeds removed and roughly chopped

1 tablespoon honey

1 tablespoon Dijon mustard

1/2 cup extra-virgin olive oil

Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper

Preheat the oven to 425 degrees. Rinse the chicken well, then dry it with paper towels. Season the chicken generously with kosher salt. Combine the paprika, cumin, ground mustard, ground fennel seed and black pepper in a small bowl and rub the mixture all over the skin of the chicken.

Heat the olive oil in a large, oven-safe saute pan or skillet set over medium heat. When the oil is shimmering, put the chicken breasts into the pan skin side down and cook, unattended, until the skin is golden brown, about 6 to 8 minutes. Using tongs. turn the chicken breasts over and then place the pan in the preheated oven. Roast the chicken until it is golden brown all over and the meat is cooked entirely through, about 12 to 15 minutes. Remove the chicken to a warmed platter and allow it to rest.

Meanwhile, place the mint, parsley, garlic and Serrano chile into a food processor and pulse the mixture into a paste. Add the honey and the Dijon mustard and pulse the mixture again until it is combined. With the motor running, slowly add the olive oil until the mixture has become emulsified. Transfer the mixture to a bowl, and if necessary, whisk in a few tablespoons of water to thin the sauce. Season the sauce with salt and pepper to taste.

Spoon some of the sauce over each of the chicken breasts and serve, with the remaining sauce on the side.

The chicken turns out perfectly browned and crispy and the mint sauce is an excellent addition. It does have a little heat to it from the Serrano chile, so be aware of that if you are making it for anyone who doesn’t like a lot of heat. You could just as easily leave it out of the sauce. I served this with roasted potatoes and some roasted asparagus and it made for a perfect meal without a lot of fuss or work.

That’s all I have for today. Check back next time for another recipe. Until then, enjoy the rest of your day and enjoy your meal!


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Posted by on July 8, 2014 in Cooking, Dinner, Poultry, Sauce


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Simple and Sweet – Skillet Chicken with Rhubarb

When most people hear rhubarb their thoughts immediately turn to strawberry rhubarb pie (which I love by the way). You probably see a lot of rhubarb around the produce departments of markets this time of year since strawberries are in season now, but there are lots of other things you can do with rhubarb besides making great desserts like sorbet, compote or pie. I came across this recipe in the New York Times recently for a simple way to jazz up a chicken dinner with some rhubarb, scallions and honey for a bit of a different flavor. While this recipe uses a whole chicken cut into pieces, I made just chicken thighs instead but you could use any chicken pieces you like for this recipe.

Skillet Chicken with Rhubarb

1 (5 1/2-pound) whole chicken, cut into eight pieces, or various chicken parts (thighs, breasts, drumsticks)

1 tablespoon plus 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt, more as needed

1 teaspoon black pepper, more as needed

5 sprigs thyme

2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil

1 bunch spring onions or scallions, white and light green stalks thinly sliced (slice and reserve greens for garnish)

2 garlic cloves, minced

1/2 cup dry white wine, chicken broth or water

3/4 pound fresh rhubarb, cut into 1/2-inch dice (about 3 cups)

1 tablespoon honey, or to taste

2 tablespoons butter, cut into pieces

Pat the chicken dry with paper towels and season the chicken with 1 tablespoon of the kosher salt and 1 teaspoon of the black pepper. Place the chicken in a bowl with the thyme sprigs and cover it with plastic wrap. Refrigerate the chicken for at least 1 hour and up to overnight.

Heat the olive oil in a large skillet over medium-high heat. Remove the thyme from the bowl with the chicken and reserve the thyme sprigs. Add the chicken pieces to the skillet and sear, turning them occasionally, until the chicken is golden brown all over, about 10 minutes. Transfer the chicken pieces to a platter and set them aside.

Reduce the heat of the skillet to medium. Stir in the scallions (the white and light green parts) and cook until the scallions have softened, about 5 minutes. Add the garlic and the reserved thyme sprigs. and cook until fragrant, about 1 minute more. Stir in the wine and bring the mixture to a simmer, scraping up any browned bits in the bottom of the pan. Add the rhubarb, honey, 1/2 teaspoon of kosher salt and a few grinds of black pepper.

Return the chicken pieces to the skillet in a single layer. Cover the skillet and reduce the heat to medium-low. Simmer until the chicken is cooked through, about 15 to 20 minutes for breasts and 20 to 25 minutes for the thighs and drumsticks. Transfer the  chicken pieces to a platter as they finish cooking so they can rest.

Whisk the butter into the rhubarb sauce. Taste the sauce and adjust the seasoning if needed or desired. Spoon the rhubarb sauce over the chicken pieces and garnish the dish with the sliced scallion greens and serve.

It is a very simple dish that is perfect for a weeknight or a weekend meal. The rhubarb tastes great with the chicken and we all loved the sauce. It was ideal to spoon over the chicken and also with the rice that I had served with the meal, but it would also be great with mashed potatoes or other grains as well. I apologize for the picture as it didn’t turn out that great since there was still steam coming up off the dish when I took it, but trust me it tastes great and looks good too!

That’s all I have for today. Check back next time for another recipe. Until then, enjoy the rest of your day and enjoy your meal!


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Posted by on June 30, 2014 in Cooking, Dinner, Poultry, Sauce


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Pick This Pickleback Slaw as a Side Dish for Summer

There are so many different variations of coleslaw that it seems you can try it in just about any manner with any kind of ingredient. As long as it has some form of cabbage in it, slaw seems to be fair game today. For me, I love to have a slaw that is crispy and wet and soggy and full of mayonnaise. Don’t get me wrong – I like a  coleslaw that uses mayo but I don’t want the vegetables swimming in it. It takes away from the flavors of the cabbage and other vegetables and it isn’t very practical as a summer side dish if you use a lot of mayo and can’t leave the dish out for a bit on a table. This particular recipe I picked up from the New York Times and Sam Sifton and it makes use of an item that you probably throw away most of the time – pickle juice.

Pickleback Slaw

1 small head green cabbage

1 small head red cabbage

2 carrots, peeled and grated

2 apples, such as Granny Smith, peeled and cut into matchsticks

1/2 cup mayonnaise

3 tablespoons juice from a pickle jar or pickle relish jar

1 tablespoon Dijon mustard

1 tablespoon cider vinegar

2 teaspoons hot sauce

Kosher salt

Ground black pepper

Cut the green and red cabbages in half and remove the core from each of the sides. Cut each half of cabbage in half again and slice each quarter of cabbage into very thin ribbons. Mix the red and green cabbages with the grated carrots and sliced apples in a large, non-reactive bowl.

In a separate bowl, whisk together the mayonnaise, pickle juice,Dijon mustard, cider vinegar,hot sauce, kosher salt and black pepper until well blended.

Pour the dressing over the cabbage mixture and toss the cabbage well to coat it. Season the slaw with salt and pepper to taste. The coleslaw may be covered with plastic wrap and refrigerated until you are ready to serve it. Toss the coleslaw again before serving.

Alternatively to slicing the heads of cabbage and grating the carrots yourself you could just as easily use a bag of coleslaw mix that already has all of this done for you. Choose some apples that have good flavor to them and you get even a little bit more taste into the slaw. This slaw has just the right bite to it from the pickle juice and the hot sauce and I loved the way it all mixed with the cabbages and apples. It only seemed to get better after a day or two in the fridge as well, making a great side dish for all kinds of burgers, hot dogs, ribs, sandwiches and more. of all of the coleslaw dishes I have made recently, this one seems to be one of the best choices and I have made it a couple of times since I tried the original.

That’s all I have for today. Check back again next time for another recipe. Until then, enjoy the rest of your day and enjoy your meal!


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Posted by on June 19, 2014 in Cooking, Dinner, Lunch, Salad, Side Dishes, Vegetables


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A Classic Steakhouse Meal – Steak with Maitre D’Hotel Butter and Mock Frites

I would love to have a great steakhouse meal now and then, but the steakhouses in New York City (which is about 45 miles away from us) are just too expensive and there just are not very many quality steakhouses in the area that we live that are affordable to the average family anymore. Sure, it’s a treat to go out and have a nice dinner once in a while, but it is also great if you make something similar to that experience all on your own at home and without the benefit of having a gas or charcoal grill to use. Even with a good grill, you never are really going to get the same type of steak you get at a good steakhouse unless you are spending a fortune for some quality aged beef and have a professional-grade oven that can get the heat cranked up to 800 degrees to get that great sear you need. So for the rest of us, there are still options to get a great meal for yourself. The New York Times recently had an article in their dining section regarding making a good steak at home and it can be a lot easier than you think with this recipe. It just takes some time and paying attention and you can make your own great steak and potato meal.

Steak with Maitre D’Hotel Butter and Mock Frites

For the Potatoes:

Kosher salt

8-12 new or baby potatoes

3 tablespoons canola oil

For the Maitre D’Hotel Butter:

6 tablespoons butter

2 teaspoons fresh thyme leaves, minced

1 small shallot, peeled and minced

1 teaspoon freshly squeezed lemon juice

Splash of Champagne or white wine vinegar

For the Steak:

2 pounds beef steak, such as boneless rib-eye, approximately 1-inch thick

Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper

1 tablespoon canola oil

Preheat the oven to 450 degrees. Set a large pot filled with salted water on the stove. Add the potatoes, turn the heat to high and cook, gently boiling, until the potatoes are softened, about 12 to 15 minutes. Drain the potatoes and dry them well.

Oil a sheet pan with half of the canola oil and put the potatoes in the pan in a single layer. Using a potato masher or the bottom of a heavy glass, gently smash each potato, pressing it down to a thickness of less than 1 inch. Drizzle the rest of the canola oil over the smashed potatoes and place the sheet pan on the top rack in the oven and allow them to roast until the exteriors are golden and crunchy, about 20 to 25 minutes. Add salt to taste.

For the butter, place the butter on a cutting board and, using a fork, cut the thyme, shallot, lemon juice and vinegar into the butter until the butter is creamy and smooth. Scrape the butter together with a chef’s knife and form it into a rough log. Roll the butter tightly into a sheet of plastic wrap and refrigerate until you are ready to use it.

As the potatoes finish crisping, make the steaks. Set a heavy-bottomed skillet (or 2 if your steaks are very large) over high heat and let the skillet sit for a few minutes until it gets very hot.Pat the steaks dry with paper towels to absorb any exterior moisture. Shower the steaks aggressively with salt and pepper on both sides. Add the canola oil to the pan and shake the pan to distribute the oil evenly. The oil should almost immediately begin to smoke to let you know the pan is ready. Place the steaks in the skillet and allow them to sear, unattended, for 4 minutes, until they have developed a good crust on one side. Turn the steaks over and cook for an additional 3 to 6 minutes for medium-rare. Remove the steaks to a warm platter to rest. Top each steak with a tablespoon of the compound butter.

Remove the potatoes from the oven and season them with salt and pepper to taste. Place 2 or 3 potatoes on each plate alongside a steak. Top each steak with pats of the butter and serve.

You really need to make sure your pan is very hot before you put the steaks in to make sure you can get a good crust. You also want to make sure you have gotten rid of any surface moisture from the steaks so they are not just steaming in the skillet but cooking to get a good sear. The steaks came out perfectly (of course you can always cook them longer to your particular liking, just keep a close eye on them so they don’t overcook) and the potatoes were perfect, crisp and crunchy just the way I like them. I used New York strip steaks since that is what was on sale when I got steaks and they worked out well. You can serve this with any traditional steakhouse recipe, like creamed spinach or asparagus, and having some nice bread to go along with it or some dinner rolls can really round it out for you. I made some corn on the cob and sautéed some mushrooms and onions to go along with the meal and used some of the steakhouse bread I had in the freezer. The butter is great not just on the steaks but on everything else you might serve as well.

That’s all I have for today. Check back next time for another recipe. Until then, enjoy the rest of your day and enjoy your meal!

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Posted by on May 27, 2014 in Beef, Breads, Cooking, Dinner, Potatoes, Side Dishes


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A Breakfast Treat – Homemade Whole-Wheat English Muffins

English muffins has always been one of those things that you love to have but never even consider making at home on your own. it just seems like they would be complicated and difficult to make and they probably would not taste as good if you made them yourself. When I saw this recipe in the New York Times a few weeks back, I could not believe how simplistic it seemed and it almost seemed like there was no way these were going to be anywhere close to the English muffins you get so used to having at diners or buying in the store. The fact is that they are really is to make, only take a few ingredients and not a lot of time or effort and you can have you own English muffins whenever you want them.

Homemade Whole-Wheat English Muffins

2 teaspoons active dry yeast

4 tablespoons butter

1/2 cup plain yogurt

1/2 cup warm milk

1/2 tablespoon honey

1 teaspoon salt

1 cup whole wheat flour

1 cup all-purpose flour

1/2 teaspoon baking soda

Cornmeal, as needed

In a small bowl, combine the yeast and 1/3 cup of warm water (registering 105 to 115 degrees) and let it rest until the yeast has dissolved, about 5 minutes.

Melt 2 tablespoons of the butter and put it in a large bowl. Whisk in the plain yogurt, milk, honey, salt and the yeast mixture. Add the whole wheat flour and all-purpose flour and the baking soda to the bowl and beat the mixture thoroughly with a spoon or rubber spatula until it is well combined. Cover the bowl with a damp towel and allow it to rest in a warm spot for 1 to 1 1/2 hours, or until the dough has doubled in size.

Heat the oven to 350 degrees. Lightly dust a small baking sheet with some of the cornmeal.

Place a large skillet over medium heat and melt 1 tablespoon of the butter. Using a large ice cream scoop or a 1/2 measuring cup, drop the batter into the skillet to form round muffins about 4 inches in diameter, mounding the batter in the center. you may have to use your fingers to help get the dough out of the scoop or cup, so be careful around the hot pan and don’t worry if they do not come out perfectly circular (English muffins aren’t perfect circles most of the time). Repeat the process until you have three muffins in the skillet, leaving the rest of the batter for a second batch. Reduce the heat to low. Cover the skillet with a lid or a baking sheet and cook the muffins for 3 to 5 minutes, until the bottoms are a golden brown. Watch them carefully to make sure they do not burn.

Uncover the skillet and flip the muffins using a spatula. Cover the skillet again and cook the muffins for 2 to 4 minutes longer or until the other sides are also golden brown. Place the muffins on the prepared baking sheet. Repeat the process using the remaining batter and another tablespoon of the butter.

Bake the muffins in the oven for 6 to 9 minutes, or until the muffins are puffed and cooked through. Split the muffins with a fork and toast before eating.

As I said, I was skeptical at first but these English muffins come out great. They are so easy to make and taste fantastic you can easily find yourself saying you will never have to buy English muffins again. You get a much better tasting muffin than what you get in the package. It is certainly fresher, comes out crisper and has a nice yeast taste to it. I am going to experiment and try making them just with all-purpose flour next time to see how they come out, but the whole wheat ones are phenomenal and it really takes no effort at all to make them. With the cost of a package of 6 English muffins between two and three dollars a pack, I made eight of my own for a fraction of that and used ingredients I have around the house. It is definitely worth making and trying these on your own.

That’s all I I have for today. Check back next time for another recipe. until then, enjoy the rest of your day and enjoy your meal!




Posted by on May 12, 2014 in Breads, Breakfast, Cooking


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Try a Classic Pizza Recipe – Roberta’s Pizza Dough and Pizza Margherita

Pizza is always a great option for dinner and to me it tastes even better when you can make your own at home. I have tried a lot of pizza recipes and started making my own dough about a year ago. Once I saw how easy it actually was and how much money I could save by making my own pizzas instead of ordering out from one of the local pizza places, I decided to do it almost all the time. Sure, like anyone else there are times when you are too tired to cook or just feel like having a slice of pizza from your favorite pizzeria, but if you are planning ahead, you can make some great pies on your own. Recently the New York Times posted recipes for pizza dough and pizza Margherita from Roberta’s, a well-known pizzeria located in Brooklyn. The pizza looked very good so I thought I would give it a try and see how it came out.

Roberta’s Pizza Dough

153 grams 00 Italian pizza flour (1 cup plus 1 tablespoon)
153 grams all-purpose flour (1 cup plus 1 tablespoon and 2 teaspoons)
8 grams fine salt (1 teaspoon)
2 grams active dry yeast (3/4 teaspoon)
4 grams extra-virgin olive oil (1 teaspoon)

In a large mixing bowl, combine both flours and  the salt. In a small mixing bowl, stir together 200 grams (about 1 cup) lukewarm tap water, the yeast and the olive oil, then pour it into the flour mixture. Knead the dough with your hands until it is well combined, approximately 3 minutes, then let the mixture rest for 15 minutes.
Knead the rested dough for 3 minutes. Cut the dough into 2 equal pieces and shape each into a ball. Place the dough on a heavily floured surface, cover the dough balls with a dampened cloth, and let them rest and rise for 3 to 4 hours at room temperature or for 8 to 24 hours in the refrigerator. (If you refrigerate the dough, remove it 30 to 45 minutes before you begin to shape it for pizza.)
To make pizza, place each dough ball on a heavily floured surface and use your fingers to stretch it, then your hands to shape it into rounds or squares. Top and bake as you like.
Just as a note, the measurements for the dry ingredients are given by weight for greater accuracy. If you have a scale that you use for baking you will get the most accuracy. The equivalent measurements that are provided are by volume and are approximate. The dough was very easy to make and to work with and had some great flavor, making it perfect for the Margherita pizza recipe also from Roberta’s that was supplied by the New York Times.
Margherita Pizza
1 12-inch round of pizza dough, stretched (see recipe)
3 tablespoons tomato sauce 
Extra-virgin olive oil
2 3/4 ounces fresh mozzarella
4 to 5 basil leaves, roughly torn
Place a pizza stone or tiles on the middle rack of your oven and turn the heat to its highest setting. Let the oven heat for at least an hour.
Put the tomato sauce in the center of the stretched dough and use the back of a spoon to spread it evenly across the surface, stopping approximately a 1/2 inch from the edges.
Drizzle a little olive oil over the pie. Break the cheese into large pieces and place these gently on the sauce. Scatter basil leaves over the top.
Using a pizza peel, pick up the pie and slide it onto the heated stone or tiles in the oven. Bake the pizza until the crust is golden brown and the cheese is bubbling, approximately 4 to 8 minutes.

If you want to make a quick homemade tomato sauce that is perfect for the pizza, in a food processor, whiz together whole, drained canned tomatoes, a splash of olive oil and a sprinkle of salt and you are good to go. I actually put a couple of slices of tomato on mine as well just to round it out and I used a little more cheese than the recipe called for. The pizza has a nice thin crust and great flavor with just the simple ingredients so you can make this easily at any time.

That’s all I have for today. Check back next time for another recipe. until then, enjoy the rest of your day and enjoy your meal!
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Posted by on April 24, 2014 in Cooking, Dinner, Pizza


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Jennifer Probst

a little bit naughty a little bit nice

Laissez Faire

Letting Life Lead

simple cooking recipes

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