~5 Faves Friday: A tribute to my Plus Size Cysters~

I think it’s time I reveal one of my new favorites…Hilda the Plus Size Pinup! Let’s face it, society has decreed that being plus size is a crime. In fact the worst crime ever committed. You all can gather that I’m not a small woman, look at my birthday pictures from a year ago(my birthday post). I don’t deny that there is more of me to love, but neither do I like being ridiculed for something that is partially out of my hands to control.
Nope, not making excuses just stating a fact. When you live with an endocrine disorder and a hypothyroid you tend to get the short end of the stick 90% of the time. I have exercised to the point where I;.’ve injured myself more times than I can remember. I do my level best to eat the right foods, to minimize my carb consumption, and stay as active as I possibly can. I know when my body has had enough, and some days it doesn’t take much to slay me.

With all that said…Hilda is an inspiration to me and many of my other plus size gal pals. Certainly there is beauty all around us in all shapes and sizes. It is widely accepted that if you’re a particular size then you are inherently beautiful! However, when a woman is packing on more jelly rolls than what comes in a Little Debbie box, then we must ridicule her until she loses the weight. Hilda breaks the mold and her little sassy hot mess self pretty much makes people stop in their tracks and giggle! Her misadventures are truly epic! She does know how to bring a smile to ones face ๐Ÿ˜‰

1) HILDA

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My favorite is the one where she is in the hammock and has the fishing line tied to her toe ๐Ÿ˜€ And even better she’s enjoying a good book, is there anything else better in life?! Nah!!!

2) My Big Fat Fabulous Life star Whitney Thore.

big fat fab life There are many reasons why I love this show, though I would love it more without the language, but here’s a PCOS Cyster doing the very thing the rest of us wish we could do(ok, maybe only part of us…I’m too introverted to be on tv)…spreading the word about PCOS!! And not just on social media and in our own hometowns, but on TV!! Where millions of people tune in and actually learn something about why most women are fat. I will say this, she is definitely more limber than me and her positive outlook is infectious! A lady at my church came over to me and asked if I had watched the show and of course I have. She confessed she actually learned something new and was seeing me in a new way. I give a hearty thanks to Whitney Thore and others who are able to reach out to the masses. Join me and others in theย  #NoBodyShameCampaign. This is for all sizes, no one is excluded!

3)Pinterest board, Plus Size Modest.

It’s a personal preference for me to dress modestly. I’m not a fan for wearing things above my ankles, but I do enjoy seeing what’s out there. Below are a few faves from that board…

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IMHO(In My Humble Opinion), the only thing missing from the second picture is a light cotton cardigan, but this gives you an idea of what I like in the way of fashion. Long and flowing, in fact I’m going to go out on a limb and share a personal picture. This is not easy for me and by sharing this I will be inviting criticism. *drum roll*

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It’s not the greatest photo, but I felt the most comfortable the day it was taken. I never dress to impress people, I dress for personal comfort. Fashion has never been a big thing for me. If it’s clean, modest and I can button it, then I’m gonna wear it! Simple. I’m a no fuss kind of gal, if an outfit has too much going on with it then I’m gonna opt for cozy knit pj’s and slippers. Wear what you love and makes you feel comfortable!

4)Be Kind. Always.

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I’ve shared this one a couple of times on social media sites.
And it’s so very true!
You will never know what someone is
going through until you are going/have gone
through it yourself.
This holds true not just for overweight
folks, but for those with
incurable diseases, cancers, life struggles,
losses,etc. There is
already so much hatred in this world, and it will
continue to
get worse unfortunately, but when you body shame someone
you are
only making yourself look bad. Making everyone
aware of your own
insecurities and intolerance. If you
really want to help someone, just
be kind.
Be thoughtful. Be considerate. Be genuine. Be loving.

5)Focus on the Healthy

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To be fat and healthy just doesn’t seem to go
together. It is possible to eat right, exercise
daily, do everything that is humanly possible
and never lose all the weight.
To never be the size that society says is acceptable.
AND THAT’S OK!! Look, with PCOS there’s more
to this health issue than just the weight. Yes,
the weight is a big concern, but there are hormones,
insulin, and a bunch of other little nasty issues that
we have to put up with on a daily basis. So there’s
absolutely no reason to push yourself to the point where
you are injured at the end of the day, or where you become
too depressed because you aren’t reaching the impossible
standards. Embrace the healthy life, eat the right kind
of foods for your Nutritional Type(a Dr. Mercola reference)
and do what you can when you can. Give up the overly
processed foods, seriously those aren’t good for anyone.
If you feel led to detox then do it, if you want to cut out
the carbs then do it, if you want to enjoy the healthy fats
then do it…do whatever it takes to be a healthier YOU!
Just don’t shoot yourself for not doing what everyone else
is doing. There are more important things in life than worrying
about a number on a scale. It’s a nice thing to check on
from time to time, but do not let it rule your life!

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We all are!
Have a blessed day<3

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Chicken–n–Pork Jambalaya

I very rarely alter recipes that receive 5 star ratings. Mostly because when I read the ingredients list everything sounds so good that I can’t wait to make it as is. When I do alter a recipe it’s due to a personal preference or what I know my family will like. For instance, I’ve run across Mexican recipes that exclude onion and garlic. In my book, it’s not a Mexican meal without those two ingredients! The same goes for potato chowders, we always have to have bacon, cheese and sour cream ready and available.

Last night I’m looking through recipes and deciding what to make for dinner when I came across a recipe I’ve had for a while but hadn’t tried. The reviews had me sold on trying it and the fact that I was making it on an NCIS:New Orleans night was even better! Just one teensy adjustment to the recipe…there wasn’t ANY cajun seasoning in the recipe. I mean none. Nothing the least bit spicy, every jambalaya I’ve made in the past has always called for it. So I did take a little liberty and added that to the pot. I’ll share the link below but also give you my version(which by the way there isn’t any left…yes, that good).

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(Sorry it’s so yellow, I just LOVE the lighting in my kitchen*insert massive sarcasm*)

Chicken–n–Pork Jambalaya

(Based on the recipe from Taste of Home)

1 pound smoked kielbasa, chopped
1 1/2 cups smoked ham, chopped
1 1/2 cups cooked chicken, cubed
1 medium onion, chopped
1 green bell pepper, chopped
1 handful small sweet peppers(red, yellow, orange…about 6-7 total)
1 tsp dried minced garlic or 4 garlic cloves minced
2 Tblsp peanut oil
1 can diced tomatoes
1 can chicken broth
1/2 cup water
1 1/2 cups parboiled rice
1 Tblsp dried parsley
1 tsp salt(or less)
1 Tblsp cajun seasoning
1/4 tsp thyme powder or 1/2 to 3/4 dried thyme

Chop up the meats and set aside.
Into a dutch oven pot, add peanut oil, chopped onions, bell pepper, sweet peppers, and garlic. Cook until tender.
Add meats, tomatoes, chicken broth, water, parsley, salt, cajun seasoning, thyme and rice. Stir to combine making sure rice is submerged. Cover with lid and cook until rice is cooked through.
Serve with favorite bread, (creole)salad, or grilled shrimp.

I would definitely give this recipe a 5 star rating! Both my Dad and nephew loved it enough to have seconds ๐Ÿ™‚ This gets the stamp of approval of tried, true and keeper! I added extra rice since I’m feeding extra mouths but you can certainly leave that extra 1/2 cup(along with the 1/2 cup of water) out of the recipe.
There is definitely a spiciness to this that will hit the back of your throat, if you want less heat you can cut the amount of cajun seasoning down in half or omit it all together.

Hope you all enjoy and have a blessed day!!

~Homemade Tang~

Afternoon everyone, hope you’re all doing well. My thoughts and prayers go out to those up in the New England area. Praying you all have enough supplies and stay warm.

Here in my neck of the woods we’ve been inundated with illness. A lot of my friends and their families have been sick with stomach bugs, the flu and the cold. We, ourselves, have the cold going around in our house at this time. Dad purchased a bag of clementines(Halos) and instead of letting them go to waste, I decided to make a vitamin C boost drink to help our immune systems.

With homemade tang? What??!!

Yes, it may sound strange but Clementines(aka Halos, Cuties, pick a name) are 60% Vitamin C. That’s pretty good for a little fruit, and coupled with lemons which are 51% Vitamin C you have a super boosting mix that is sure to shock what remaining cold virus is left in your system! I have run into some conflicting information concerning concentrated lemon juice. While fresh lemons contain 51% Vitamin C, it is said that ReaLemon Juice from Concentrate(which is a brand we prefer) contains 60.5% Vitamin C. I’m not going to get into a debate about fresh or concentrated juices, but I found it odd that one would have more than the other. Could be that ReaLemon Juice is more concentrated than fresh and therefore would contain more Vitamin C. Purists however may opt for freshly squeezed lemons in the end. Whichever you prefer to useย  I leave that up to you, I won’t judge you one way other another.

JJ was leery at first of my concoction, I’m not a beverage making gal. He was raised on the powdered tang, powdered gatorade, and powdered lemonade. We’ve gotten away from all those chemical laden powdered drinks since G–Man came along, but on occasion I get to hear how much so and so misses tang and various other flavored drinks. I braced myself for some harsh criticism…

 

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(It’s so pretty! just love the color of it!!)

Homemade Tang

1 cup ReaLemon Juice from Concentrate(or 5–6 freshly squeezed lemons)

7 clementines, squeezed

1 1/2 cup Stevia in the Raw(less if you want it more tart)**

6 cups water

In a 2 quart pitcher, add lemon juice, clementine juice, and Stevia. Whisk to combine and add water. Continue whisking until all the Stevia is completely mixed in and enjoy over ice.

NOK Tips

**Stevia in the Raw– Why not sugar or some other sweetener? It’s a personal preference in my book, feel free to use sugar or other sweeteners that you may prefer. I’ve read the pros and cons about Stevia in the Raw, I’ve also used Pure Stevia powder in the past. To me, the powder was more bitter and difficult to use. However, using Stevia in the Raw takes all the guess work out of how much to use since it measures cup for cup like sugar. Stevia in and of itself is a very alkaline all natural sweetener that is actually good for our bodies. Unlike aspartame, which is synthetic and causes many health issues, Stevia comes from a plant.ย 
Again, I leave the sweetener up to you. I just find that using alkaline foods when sick actually help to knock out the virus or bacteria more quickly. Viruses and bacteria need an acidic environment to thrive in, neutralizing the body will make it less habitable for the cold and flu survive.

JJ was in love with this homemade tang and is wanting me to make it again!! He said it tastes better than the powdered stuff. That is high praise coming from the powdered drink king ๐Ÿ˜‰
This recipe can be altered to make a Lemon–Limeade. Instead of Clementines, squeeze 5–7 limes and add the remaining ingredients as listed.
For an all out citrus blast, squeeze fresh lemons, fresh limes, and clementines for a NOK Citrus Beverage. Freeze concentrated lemon, lime, and orange juices into ice cubes(adding a little water or another fruit juice to aid in freezing), add fresh slices of each fruit into the pitcher, and serve over ice. Pomegranate ice cubes would look amazing in this drink, just add the juice to an ice tray and freeze. It’s a yummy treat on a hot summer day!

Have a blessed day!!

Ugh, it finally caught up with the Joneses

It’s finally claimed one us. Either the cold or flu…I’m down for the count. Went to bed and while reading, the inside of my nose began to burn(an indication to me that I’m coming down with something), throat instantly became sore, and then there was sneezing galore.

You see, without fail, from the time my son was 8 months old we have been getting sick every year. Always in January. Cold or flu. We can pretty much expect it towards the end of December into January.

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The above picture is never a good sign. Obviously. I am the first casualty and have chosen to isolate myself from the rest of the family. It was too much to hope for that we would be able to avoid it this year. *sighs* At least I can rest and read some more.

That’s all I have for now, recipes are on hold until I’m well enough to venture downstairs. Thank you all for visiting my blog, for taking time to read the posts and for liking them. I pray I’m not down for too long, but I know everyone understands. Have a blessed weekend, stay warm, and stay healthy.

Frosted Chewy Sugar Cookies

Afternoon all,

Hope everyone is staying warm! Woke up today to sleet, a nice sight considering we haven’t had much of anything this winter other than rain. I would have preferred actual sticking snow, but sleet was just as nice to see ๐Ÿ™‚ It’s on days like this I just want to hunker down under a warm blanket, cup of coffee nearby, a little heater aimed at my feet, and get lost in a book. It’s a day to not do anything! However, it’s also a day fire up the oven and warm up the house with some baked goodies!ย 

Each year G–Man and I set out to decorate holiday cookies and last month I think we REALLY discovered something yummy! I didn’t grow up decorating holiday cookies, Mom and I did that once and never again because of how messy it was. True, it can be very messy and now you all know where I get it ๐Ÿ˜‰ It’s hard for me let my son in the kitchen to help with cooking and baking because the mess seems to grow. But determined to create our own holiday memories, I put aside my angst against messes and let G–Man have at it. Rolling out the dough, cutting out the shapes, sprinkling on the colored sugar. My hand in it is the making of said dough, putting in and pulling out the pans from the oven, and applying the frosting. We always have a lot of fun and actually enjoy ourselves! There is hope for me yet!

Last year I discovered a very tasty cut out sugar recipe. I wanted something that was going to soft, chewy, and yet sturdy enough to hold up to the frosting. And then I wanted a frosting that wasn’t overly sweet, that would have a delicious vanilla flavor and set up in no time. Boy did I get lucky with the recipes and I am so happy to be able to share them with you today! The recipe for the cut out cookies is over at Sally’s Baking Addiction. The only thing I didn’t have for the recipe was almond extract, no bigs I just replaced it with more of our homemade vanilla extract which was a great idea!

Frosted Chewy Sugar Cookies

We decided to keep them simple this year, stars, gingerbread men, and Christmas trees. The year before last we used a store bought icing tubes(red, white, green) and while that did make our first time decorating cookies I wasn’t too impressed with the outcome. So this year I made the commitment to making the frosting from scratch. But first let me brag about Sally’s cookie recipe. Chewy. Soft. Flavorful. Not too sweet. Everything I ever want in a cookie and more! It was an easy enough recipe to make and here’s a trick when cutting them out. Instead of rolling out on a surface and then transferring them to a cookie sheet, I turned a baking sheet pan upside down, applied a scant amount of Crisco to the pan and laid a piece of parchment paper to it. The Crisco helps to keep the parchment paper in place when rolling out the dough. I only rolled out the dough twice before discarding.
reposition the cut out pieces on the pan and bake according to directions. They came out perfect! Once cooled G–Man would move them from the pan to a cooling wrack and we would continue on to the next batch. So fun!

And now for the frosting, I based mine off of the one I found over at allrecipes. But like always, I chose to change it up slightly. See, I don’t like adding milk and vanilla extract to my frosting recipes. It’s too much liquid and the vanilla flavor is never right. I know I’ve shared this many times before, but I like to use flavored coffee creamer in lieu of milk and vanilla extract. That shouldn’t shock anyone but I’m sorry if it does. I am especially fond of the French Vanilla coffee creamer(yes, the liquid stuff). So, here’s the link to the original recipe, but below is how I changed it. Try both and decide which one you like best!

4 cups confectioners sugar
1/2 cup shortening
5 TBLSP + 1 tsp French Vanilla Coffee Creamer
food coloring, optional

Directions

  1. In a large bowl, cream together the confectioners’ sugar and shortening until smooth. Gradually mix in the coffee creamer with an electric mixer until smooth and stiff, about 5 minutes. Color with food coloring if desired.

And that’s it! My youngest nephew was impressed and because he liked them so much I sent the rest home with him ๐Ÿ™‚ Of course you don’t have to use French Vanilla coffee creamer, you can use Hazelnut, Irish Cream, Amaretto, Caramel…really the possibilities are endless! Especially around the holidays when there’s white chocolate, peppermint, and eggnog.

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And that’s how this Night Owl does Frosted Chewy Sugar Cookies. I had G–Man keep the decoration simple, just red and green colored sugar. Explaining to him that I wanted the flavor and texture to be “center stage” rather than piling on numerous candies, sprinkles, and layers of frosting.

With Valentine’s Day just around the corner, this cookie and frosting recipe is perfect! Now all I need to get are some heart shaped cutters and red frosting gel to make Valentine cookies for G–Man to give at his Patch Club Valentine’s Day party.

I hope you all have enjoyed this little post and try out these recipes. Hopefully they will become your go–to recipes as they have become ours! Have a blessed day!!!

Cheesy Sausage & Sweet Pepper Soup

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I rarely go out of my way to make something for lunch. Most of the time Mom, JJ, and G–Man do their own thing and I tend to skip lunch all together. Last week with all the blistering cold single digit weather we had(yes, hard to imagine, but it did get down to 6 or 7 degrees last week inย  Alabama) I was in the mood to make something hot that would warm us all up! It was a recipe that I concocted in my head, something I wasn’t sure if it would turn out good or if anyone else would be willing to try. But once I told my Mom what was in it she said “oh that sounds good!” Yep, that boosted my confidence and away I ran with it! Now, G–Man is the pickiest eater and wouldn’t touch this soup. He said it smelled good but he refused to try it. Mom, JJ and I on the other hand absolutely enjoyed it!

It’s a soup that will definitely stick to your ribs and fill you up! You can certainly use low–fat options for the ingredients if you prefer, I’m not going to judge ya. But this is one of those dishes where you need crusty thick bread to sop up the cheesy liquid. The consistency of this soup could almost pass as a fondu!

Cheesy Sausage & Sweet Pepper Soup

1 pound sausage(bulk mild, sweet, or spicy)

half bag sweet mini peppers, remove the seeds and sliced

1 small red onion, chopped

2 garlic cloves, minced

2 cups cheddar cheese

1 brick cream cheese or Neufchatel cheese, cubed

1 cup heavy cream

salt and pepper to taste

In a small dutch oven, brown sausage with onion, add in peppers and garlic. Cook until meat is no longer pink, onions are transparent and peppers are tender. Stir in cubed cream cheese until it is completely incorporated. Pour in heavy cream and stir in cheddar cheese. Turn temp to low/medium to allow the cheese to fully melt. If mixture is too thick add a little extra cream or if it is too thin add extra cheese. Season with a pinch of salt and pepper to your liking. Serve with crusty bread(day old is good too) and enjoy!

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NOK’s Cooking Notes

  • I personally liked this soup even more the next day, after it had sat in the fridge and used it as a cold dip for a snack with Clubhouse crackers. A delicious little treat with a cup of hot tea and a good kindle book.
  • As I stated before you can use lower fat ingredients, instead of heavy cream you can use half n half or milk. Turkey sausage can be used but make sure it hasn’t been previously cooked, raw meat is better so that it can be crumbled as it’s cooking.
  • You can certainly serve this soup with a salad, something light like a caesar.
  • You can definitely make with as many peppers as you wish(green included), I just used what I had.
  • It has been brought to my attention that I will next time have to double or triple this recipe simply because “it’s that good!”–JJ.
  • I think the next time I make this I will use both mild and spicy bulk sausage and a seriously sharp cheddar cheese along with regular cheddar.

If you are confused about the difference between cream cheese and Neufchatel, click HERE to read more! I have never used Neufchatel cheese but I think it would work just as well in this recipe as the cream cheese does…just with less fat!

Happy eating!!!

It’s Almost the Middle of the Month Already?!

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Have. Mercy. Cannot believe that this month is nearly half over. It feels like it was just yesterday that we rang in the new year. I have missed writing and sharing with you all, and I’m sorry it’s been over a month since I’ve added anything new. I was busier than I anticipated and put all my time and energy into the holidays, which left no time to take gobs of pictures or have enough mental juices left to concoct a blog post.

 

 

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How I felt every night after spending hours in the kitchen prepping, baking and cooking during December…I may have drooled a couple of times ๐Ÿ˜‰ But I have no proof!

If I had been working in a restaurant I would have clocked 12 hours a day with a two hour break in between that I spent in the kitchen for a week and half before Christmas. I was SO ready for an actual vacation! You’d think that a three week vacation that was planned would have been enough, but alas it wasn’t. After Christmas was said and done, I was destined to have one more week of time off before our new school year was to begin. Thankfully, and honestly I cannot thank my Mom enough for this, my Mom told me to take an extra week for myself! I was beyond grateful! December 29th came and I declared that for that week I would do little to no cooking. At that point I was sick of being in the kitchen, tired of making food, and wanted nothing more than to just sit with my feet up. I almost held true to my words, there were a couple of times I got in there to help my Mom cook dinner ๐Ÿ™‚

January 5th rolled around and thus began my week of leisure. Sunday evening, on the 4th, I started a trilogy by my favorite author and by Tuesday morning I had finished said trilogy. Immediately after finishing her trilogy I started reading her fourth book and by Saturday morning around 5am I was finishing up her 5th book. I have waited an entire year to read her books and FINALLY was able to get through them all within a week! I loved them all, each one taking me to different places(Victorian England, Medieval England, and my own Home Town) all from the comfy of my own bed. Now I did get back into the kitchen to cook dinner every night, but spending all day and late into the night reading her monster length novels was truly the escape that I needed. I saw very little of my family here, G–Man would come up every night to my room and hang out with me, bring in his legos and talk my ear off for a bit and I would listen intently to him relaying to me how his day went. Don’t judge me now, I rarely do anything for myself. I can count on my hand the times I’ve done anything remotely relaxing or enjoyable. Which amounts to two other times!
I’m not a mom who goes out and gets mani/pedi’s every month, neither do I go out with my girls every month, or send my child off to the grandparents because we live with the grandparents! And I’m in no way passing any judgment on those who are able to do the above mentioned. We all need those times when we can steal away for ourselves an hour, two hours, a whole weekend…or a week! It’s glorious when it happens and I confess even when I get two hours of time alone I never know what to do with myself. I’m so used to doing things around the house, doing stuff with G–Man or prepping up something that just to sit and do nothing…I have no words for it. It was a time I surely will never forget, a time well spent and coveted for the rest of my life!

And now we are in our post holiday school year, today was our first day back. The classroom was a balmy 47 degrees when we came up here, though the heater is on at the moment my fingers are still frozen. Tis’ the season! So what will this new year bring for the Night Owl Kitchen Blog? Hopefully tasty delights, healthy recipes, fun crafts, more 5 favorites, and as blessed a year as 2014 was! Truly there was so much to be thankful for last year and already I’m beyond thankful that our family hasn’t been stricken with the cold or flu *knock on wood*.ย 

I will however share one thing that I’m currently doing and it’s the 2015 Reading Challenge. I’m not going in order of the list of categories, but with 5 books already marked off(one being a trilogy) I’d say I’m doing pretty good!

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Anyone else willing to take this challenge with me? There’s still time to get in on it! I personally love this reading challenge because I can pick and choose which books I want to read within the categories listed. I don’t personally like having to read previously chosen titles of books that I would never in my life read. It reminds me too much of the AR program(Accelerated Reading program) in public school. But the above list allows the reader to choose books within a set category thus branching out from genres that we may necessarily not venture into. Personally, I’m not a huge fan of Pulitzer Prize-Winning books, but I am carefully considering a couple and will make a final decision soon.
Currently I am reading a book my Mom loves, and this was hard for her to even decide on because she loves so many! But she did finally choose one from her collection and it’s titled Katherine(c.1954). I started reading it last night and will spend this week reading it when I can, but since I’m 5 weeks ahead of the reading challenge I could take some extra time enjoying it ๐Ÿ™‚

And that’s all I got for today, I do have some recipes lined up to share and hopefully I haven’t lost any of you with my month long silence. Come back when you can, the kitchen is always open!!

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