Cauliflower Salad

Cauliflower Salad

Cauliflower Salad

I saw a wonderful Romanesco Summer Salad in Delicious Living Magazine, that I pick up at my local health food store.  Problem is that Romanesco Cauliflower is not readily available at my grocery store.  Honestly I think I might have seen it there once since we moved here 8 years ago!  That certainly doesn’t make it an ingredient I think of when I cook!  I tend to be one who likes easily and abundantly available ingredients…some might call that laziness but I call it “make it work with what you have”!

This is my version of this delicious salad.  It is fresh, easy to make and loaded with vitamins!  It is a great side for grilled chicken, fish, grilled steaks, burgers, etc…. I think the addition of capers makes this salad perfect!

Look at those gorgeous colors!

Look at those gorgeous colors!

Ingredients:

1 head cauliflower, cut into bite-size pieces

Zest and juice 1 lemon

2 teaspoons Dijon mustard

4 tablespoons olive oil

1 red bell pepper, chopped

1/2 cup red onion, thinly chopped

1/3 cup fresh basil, roughly chopped

3 tablespoons fresh chives, roughly chopped

4 tablespoons rinsed and drained capers, coarsely chopped

Salt and Pepper to taste

How to:

In a large pot, bring water to a boil over high heat.  Add cauliflower, cover, reduce heat to medium, and cook for 2–3 minutes, until crisp-tender.  Using a slotted spoon, transfer cauliflower to a rimmed baking sheet or clean kitchen towel, spreading it in a single layer, to cool.

In a small bowl, whisk together mustard, lemon zest, lemon juice, and about 1/4 teaspoon each salt & pepper.  Slowly add oil, whisking constantly to emulsify.

simple yet delicious dressing

simple yet delicious dressing

Put cauliflower in a serving bowl.  Add bell pepper, onion, basil, chives, capers, and vinaigrette; toss gently to combine.  Taste and adjust seasoning.  Cover and refrigerate until ready to serve.  It will keep well for several hours, you may want to toss again prior to serving.

all in!  Ready for the dressing!

all in! Ready for the dressing!

some sort of action shot for you guys ;)

some sort of action shot for you guys ;)

ready to chill for a little bit

ready to chill for a little bit

Note: if you have a steamer you may use it to cook your cauliflower.

oh my goodness this is simply amazingly scrumptious!

oh my goodness this is simply amazingly scrumptious!

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Peace and I like Abundant,

Isabelle

 

 

 

Feeling The Sun

Back from Florida….1 week already.  Where does time go?

I miss it all….already.

One of  my favorite pictures of the whole trip?  One I didn’t even take or knew was being taken:

photo credits go to my lovely husband :)  what a great day it was to run!

photo credits go to my lovely husband :) what a great day it was to run!

The picture has so much that I love: my sister-in-law Dee (who makes my heart sing, loves my little bro to no end and made two perfect boys I wish I could see everyday), running ( ‘nuf said ) and the Florida SUN!!!!  ;)

Have a fantastic Friday my sweet friends,

Peace and Love,

Isabelle

Sour Chocolate Cake

Sour Chocolate Cake

Sour Chocolate Cake

I found this recipe a while back in my Saveur magazine.  I guess I held on to it so I could find a good reason to make it.

Reason #1.  We were on vacation.

Reason #2.  It was HOT outside and I was in heaven.

Reason #3.  I sat by a pool all day with nothing to do but sit.

Extra reason: I made dinner for everyone as a thank you for having us spend Spring Break with them….which meant my horrible lovely brother and my BFF Janine’s terrible wonderful husband Dan could torture me all night.  AND I FED THOSE TWO BAD BOYS!

Saying things like: “it’s more of a door stopper than a cake!”  “knocking on the table…what’s that?  Isabelle’s cake”  “remember when we were kids eating peanut butter and soda crackers having a whistling contest?  This cake would work as well”  “moisture, where are you?”  “I know what it’s like to eat sand now”  and on and on….

;)  I do love them both immensely but they thrive on torturing me!

this is what was left after they teased me about the cake....!

this is what was left after they teased me about the cake….!

Ingredients:

For the cake:
½ cup milk
1½ tsp. white vinegar
¾ cup shortening, plus more for greasing
2 cups flour
2 cups sugar
2 tsp. ground cinnamon
1 tsp. baking soda
½ cup cocoa powder
8 tbsp. unsalted butter
3 eggs, lightly beaten

For the icing:
2 cups confectioners’ sugar
3 tbsp. cocoa powder
¼ cup milk
5 tbsp. unsalted butter

How to:

For the cake:

Mix milk and vinegar in bowl; let sit until slightly curdled, about 10 minutes.

Heat oven to 350 degrees F.  Grease a 9″x13″ baking dish with shortening. Set aside.

Whisk flour, sugar, cinnamon, and baking soda, in a bowl; make a well in the center.  Bring shortening, cocoa powder, butter, and 1/2 cup water to a boil in a 1-qt. saucepan.  Cook, whisking constantly, until smooth, 5-7 minutes; let cool slightly.  Whisk in milk mixture and eggs.  Stir wet ingredients into dry ingredients until a smooth batter form.  Pour batter into greased pan and smooth top.  Bake until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean, 25-30 minutes; let cool.

the start

the start

baked

baked

For the icing:

Whisk confectioners’ sugar and cocoa powder in a bowl.  Simmer milk and butter in a 2-qt. saucepan over medium heat until butter is melted, 3-4 minutes.  Whisk in sugar mixture until smooth.  Pour icing over cake; let set completely, about 30 minutes.

and the icing on top :)

and the icing on top :)

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 pretty good cake if you ask me...OK OK I will admit a dollop of vanilla ice cream would have been heavenly!

pretty good cake if you ask me…OK OK I will admit a dollop of vanilla ice cream would have been heavenly!

Peace and I have my reasons,

Isabelle

Southside Cocktail

Southside Cocktail

Southside Cocktail

When in Florida….

Make drinks for your hosts!

This is one of my new FAVORITE drinks!  It is refreshing, easy and tastes like the best night of your life!

OK…I made that last part up.

I saw Geoffrey Zakarian make this drink one day on the show The Kitchen on the Food Network , my only concern is that he made it with Gin.  Gin and I don’t get along to well.  So I wondered if I switched to Vodka would the drink still work.  Vodka and I get along really really really well!  Turns out vodka or gin make this drink worthy of sharing with you my friends or sister in law ;)

Cheers (please ignore my crazy hair and the fact that Dee is looking at Matt)

Cheers (please ignore my crazy hair and the fact that Dee is looking at Matt)

Ingredients:

2 ounces gin (gin for the hubby, vodka for the crazy…ummm me!)

1 ounce lime juice

3/4 ounce  simple syrup

1 sprig mint (optional…turns out both Dee and I don’t like mint)

How to:

Combine the gin (or vodka), lime juice, simple syrup and mint sprig in a shaker.  Add some ice cubes and shake vigorously.  Strain into a chilled martini glass.

Garnish with one mint leaf, smacked to release the oils, floating on top of the cocktail.

Simple syrup:

1 cup sugar

1 cup water

How to:

In a small saucepan bring your water and sugar to a boil.  Boil until sugar is dissolved.  Let cool completely.  Use as indicated in recipe.

so fresh, tart, and slightly sweet = perfect cocktail!

so fresh, tart, and slightly sweet = perfect cocktail!

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Have a wonderful weekend from us to you ;)

Have a wonderful weekend from us to you ;)

Peace and Florida,

Isabelle

Oats and Chocolate Chip Scones

Oats and Chocolate Chip Scones

Oats and Chocolate Chip Scones

I have been making this recipe for quite some time.  I don’t even know why I haven’t shared it with you guys.  It is so delicious.  Kids love it and you can truly make the whole thing in no time.  It is not too sweet.  It is a quick breakfast on a busy morning and it is absolutely amazing with a hot cup of tea.

I think that it would probably be easy to swipe the chocolate chips with blueberries or peanut butter chips or butterscotch chips…I say this but in all honesty I haven’t tried it simply because the hormonal wonderful teens that always hang at our house are somewhat obsessed in love with chocolate!

look at that gorgeous color and the amazing crust!  YUM!

look at that gorgeous color and the amazing crust! YUM!

Ingredients:

1 3/4 cups all purpose flour

1/2 cup rolled oats (old fashion NOT quick oats)

1/3 cup packed light brown sugar

2 teaspoons baking powder

1/4 teaspoon baking soda

1/4 teaspoon salt

6 tablespoons butter, cut into small pieces and kept very cold

1 cup semi-sweet chocolate chips

1/2 cup cold buttermilk

1 egg

1 teaspoon vanilla

1 egg, whisked (for topping)

Raw/Torbinado sugar  (for topping)

How to:

Preheat your oven to 400 degrees F.  Line a baking sheet with parchment paper or silicone mat.  Set aside.

In a large bowl combine your flour, oats, brown sugar, baking powder, baking soda and salt.  Add your cold butter.  Using a pastry cutter or your finger combine your butter to your flour mixture until you have a coarse mixture.  You shouldn’t have pieces any larger than a pea.

I do love my pastry cutter!

I do love my pastry cutter!

Add your chocolate chips, buttermilk, 1 egg and vanilla.  Using a wooden spoon combine until all liquid is absorbed.  Your dough will be extremely sticky.  Dump everything on a well floured surface (wooden cutting board is best in my opinion).  Using your hands (best tools known to man!) knead your dough gently until your have a soft texture (do not over knead).  Form into an 8 or 9-inch circle about 1- 1 1/2-inch thick.  Cut into 8 pieces.  Put all 8 scones on your prepared baking sheet.  Brush with your whisked egg and sprinkle with your raw sugar.  (amount suggestive to taste, about 1/2 teaspoon per scones I guess)

make sure it is not too thin

make sure it is not too thin

8 "almost even" pieces ;)

8 “almost even” pieces ;)

ready to go!

ready to go!

Put in your preheated oven and bake for 17-18 minutes.

doesn't that look so scrumptious?

doesn’t that look so scrumptious?

take a closer look...don't you just want to take a bite?!

take a closer look…don’t you just want to take a bite?!

Let cool and enjoy.

perfect afternoon snack!

perfect afternoon snack!

Note: I like to cut my butter into small pieces and put it back in the fridge for a few minutes while I get everything else ready.  I find that by the time I cut my butter into the small pieces it has already started to warm/melt just from the heat of my hands….just a thought maybe your hands don’t melt butter!  ;)

my basket for the teens' breakfast

my basket for the teens’ breakfast

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Peace and I am probably more hormonal than they are,

Isabelle

Butternut Squash Cake

Butternut Squash Cake

Butternut Squash Cake

Is it weird when someone sends you a recipe and says: “this is a different kind of cake, it uses butternut squash, which might sound weird but it’s delicious and butternut is my favorite”.  To which my first thought was: “nope not weird, in fact I have a butternut squash just sitting in my fridge, ready for action”.

Because my reality is that I buy butternut squash pretty much every week, just because…I really don’t know why but I buy it all the times even though I never put in on my planned menu…now THAT is weird!  I always think I can manage to incorporate it somehow in one of our meals.  Maybe I should check with my people if this is appropriate or not.

Here’s another delicious recipe from Danielle my uncle’s girlfriend.  She gave me her recipe for: Spanish Cookies/Bars

Note: I had to make a few adjustments along the way because sometimes life dictates how things will fly around here.  I will note my changes along the way ;)

look at that gorgeous cake!

look at that gorgeous cake!

Ingredients:

1/4 cup golden raisin ***I dislike raisins…sorry…I used dried cranberries

2/3 cup all-purpose flour

1/3 cup whole-wheat pastry flour ***I couldn’t find the pastry kind so I used regular whole-wheat flour

1/2 teaspoon baking powder

1/4 teaspoon baking soda

1/2 teaspoon cinnamon

1/2 teaspoon ginger

1/4 teaspoon salt

1/8 teaspoon all-spice

1/8 teaspoon ground cloves

3/4 cup butternut squash puree (see below for instructions)

1/2 cup sugar

1/4 cup honey

1/4 cup canola oil

1 egg

1 egg white

How to:

Preheat your oven to 350 degree F.  Grease or spray a loaf pan (9X5).  Set aside.

Put your raisins in a small microwave safe bowl and add water (I did 1/4 cup water).  Put in your microwave for about 30-40 seconds to soften your raisins.  Drain and set aside.

In a medium bowl combine your flours, baking powder, baking soda, cinnamon, ginger, salt, all-spice and ground cloves.  Set aside.

In your mixer combine your pureed squash, sugar, honey and oil.  Mix well.  Add your egg and egg white.  Scraping the side of your bowl at least once and combining well.  Add your flour mixture slowly.

Using a spatula or wooden spoon fold your raisins into your mixture.  Pour mixture into your prepared pan and bake in your preheated oven for 45-50 minutes until lightly brown and a toothpick inserted in the middle comes out clean.  Cool in pan for 10 minutes, then turn out onto a wire rack and let cool for 30 minutes more.

this batter smells amazing!  And the color is out of this world!

this batter smells amazing! And the color is out of this world!

time to cool things off

time to cool things off

a little more cooling and then we dig in

a little more cooling and then we dig in

Serve!

Squash Puree

Ingredients:

1 Butternut Squash

How to:

Preheat your oven to 375 degrees F.  Grease a baking sheet.  Set aside.

Cut squash in half and scoop out the loose flash and the seeds.  Place cut side face down on your prepared baking sheet.  Bake in your preheated oven for 50-60 minutes.  Cool completely before scrapping out the flesh with a fork.

Note: you could use frozen (thawed) or canned puree but it is definitely better to use fresh squash.

take one last good look at this little marvel!

take one last good look at this little marvel!

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Peace and Being Weird Is Cool These Days,

Isabelle

What to do with the leftovers butternut squash?  Here’s a couple of suggestions:

Sausage and Butternut Squash Ravioli

One of my absolute favorite sauce: brown butter...so simple yet so perfect

One of my absolute favorite sauce: brown butter…so simple yet so perfect

Roasted Butternut Squash Pasta

mouthwatering and gorgeous

mouthwatering and gorgeous!

Don’t Run With Scissors!

HA……don’t run with scissors!  It shouldn’t be legal for me to operate scissors!

Last week I poked myself in the eye with scissors.

Yup….I can’t even make that stuff up!

Suffice to say I am a giant moron!

Long story Long (HA!) I decided it would be a swell idea to cut my own hair (I know….I know….problem #1) I was “carefully” trying to simply trim my hair.  Everything was going along fine (it’s all in how you see it I guess) and then I thought (other problem…I shouldn’t be allowed to think) I should put my head upside down (WHAT THE HECK!) and start trimming this way.  Trim a little here, trim a little there and wham bam thank you ma’am stab myself right into my left eye.  LUCKILY I didn’t do any permanent damage.  But it brought me to my knees and I almost vomited (sorry TMI).  The shock of the pain was so sudden and excruciating.  I got light-headed and wanted to scream for my life.

After a few tears….only from my right eye (hahaha), I was able to gather my thoughts and stand up.  Guess what I decided would be an awesome idea?

Keep on trimming my hair….

If you need me, I might at this point check myself into a mental ward.

On another note….remember my New Year’s Resolution to sew more: Reconnecting

yup I made that dress!!!!! So proud of myself!

yup I made that dress!!!!! So proud of myself!

Note: please be kind…I am not a model and this was painful!  This dress is made with 4 old tees!!!! Isn’t that cool?

Here’s where I found the idea (I didn’t follow her plans exactly but you’ll understand): Colorblock dress from old tees

Have a Fantastic Friday!

Peace out!

Isabelle

Danielle’s Spanish Cookies/Bars

Spanish Cookies/Bars

Spanish Cookies/Bars

My uncle’s girlfriend Danielle loves to cook and bake.  She also loves to do crafts and projects.  I can totally relate to that.  She graciously sent me a dessert recipe from her childhood: Biscuits Espagnols.  Interestingly enough she mentions that she has no clue why they are called Spanish Cookies (Biscuits Espagnols) but simply that her mom would make these cookies for them as children and they loved them.  That’s enough of a selling point for me.  She also mentioned that when she made the cookies for my folks, my dad said: “finally a super sweet dessert!”

Hmmmmm like father like daughter.  Sweets make the world go round don’t you know ;)

BEWARE: this is sweet….and by sweet I mean super duper heart racing sweet….but oh so good!!!!!

Also…I feel this is more of a bar than a cookie, but then again I am quite the cookie fanatic so I might be just a tad opinionated when it comes to naming something a cookie!

Sweets sweetie sweetness....that should be the name ;)

Sweet sweetie sweetness….that should be the name ;)

Ingredients:

First layer:

1 cup brown sugar

1 cup flour

1 egg

1 teaspoon baking powder

1/4 teaspoon milk

3/4 cup chopped walnuts

Second layer:

15 marshmallows cut in half

Third layer:

1/2 cup butter

1 cup brown sugar

1/4 cup milk

2 cups confectioner sugar

How to:

First layer:

Preheat your oven to 325 degrees F.  Line an 8X8 baking pan with parchment paper, making sure the paper overlaps on all side at least 1-inch.  This will help remove the cookies/bars from the pan.

In a large bowl mix all your ingredients well.  Spread your mixture into your prepared pan.  Bake in your preheated oven for 10-12 minutes.  Remove and place on an heat safe surface.

Layer #1

Layer #1

Second layer:

Lay your cut marshmallows cut face down (just easier I found out).  Set aside.

Layer #deux

Layer #deux

Third layer:

In a medium pan melt your butter.  Add your brown sugar and milk.  Bring to a boil for 2 minutes.  Remove from heat and add your powdered sugar.  Using a whisk combine everything well.  Gently pour over your marshmallows.  Spread the mixture evenly oven the marshmallows, it might get a bit messy but it’s all in the taste, no worries about the look!

the hot sweet mixture!

hot sweet mixture!

the pour...always exciting!

the pour…always exciting!

and finally layer #tres

and finally layer #tres

Let cool completely and cut into squares….have a big glass of milk ready to balance all this sugary sweetness!

Note: I researched Spanish Cookies on the internet and frankly nothing comes close to this version.  Who knows, maybe a Spanish lady gave the recipe to her mom and hence the name….or maybe not.  Bottom line is: these cookies are delicious.  At the end of the day your belly and taste bubs won’t care what the name is just that is was fabulous!

deliciously sweet and decadent!

deliciously sweet and decadent!

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Peace and Sweets Stuff,

Isabelle

Biscoff No Bake Cookies

Biscoff No Bake Cookies

Biscoff No Bake Cookies

I haven’t talked about Biscoff in a while.  I have talked (too much) and made (too many) cookies, but nothing lately with the ever so delicious Biscoff.

in case you have never heard of Biscoff/Speculoos/Cookie Spread....GASP.....

in case you have never heard of Biscoff/Speculoos/Cookie Spread….GASP…..

Today I decided to make my own version of Biscoff No Bake Cookies.  First of all I am highly addicted to this stuff.  It is amazing.  Secondly, my husband came home and caught me walking around our home with a spoonful of Biscoff.  I tried to reason with him that since I didn’t have any homemade cookies in the house, it made perfect sense to eat this cookie spread in lieu of an actual cookie.  He didn’t seem to buy this logic.

Bottom line, I have serious issues and I don’t even think years of meticulous therapy could fix any of this!  So….I make cookies.

a lot of cookies!

a lot of cookies!

Ingredients:

3 cups quick oats (not regular oats)

1/4 teaspoon cinnamon

1 stick unsalted butter (1/2 cup)

3/4 cup light brown sugar

3/4 cup sugar

1/2 cup milk

1/4 teaspoon salt

1 teaspoon vanilla

3/4 cup Biscoff (crunchy or regular, I went with crunchy…because that’s what I was eating by the spoonful when I got caught!)

How to:

Line two baking sheets with wax paper or parchment paper, set aside.  Note: you can use wax paper since these cookies are NOT going into the oven.  It is simply so you have easy clean up and no sticking to the pan.

In a large bowl combine your quick oats with your cinnamon.  Set aside.

In a medium pan combine your butter, sugars, salt and milk.  Bring to a boil and let this cook for about 2 minutes.  Remove from the heat and add you vanilla, stir well.  Add your Biscoff and whisk until well combined.  Gently pour your hot mixture over your oats and using a spatula or wooden spoon stir until all combine.

perfect color, smells amazing...too hot to taste!

perfect color, smells amazing…too hot to taste!

the final approach....pouring it all in!

the final approach….pouring it all in!

action shot taken by my little Bear!

action shot taken by my little Bear!

ready!

ready!

Using a medium size scoop or spoon drop your cookies onto your prepared baking sheets.  Let them set for about 1 hour.  Enjoy!

work of art if you ask me ;)

work of art if you ask me ;)

Note: if you want larger cookies go for it, just keep in mind they may take a bit longer to set.

an hour is a long time to wait on delicious cookies!!!

an hour is a long time to wait on delicious cookies!!!

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Other AMAZING Biscoff creations:

Biscoff Chocolate Cookies

chewy, chocolaty and completely addictive!

oh my sweet heaven, these cookies are so so so crazy good!

Nutella Brownies with Biscoff Swirl

oh my word!  OH MY WORD!

gluttony….perhaps BUT SO WORTH IT!

Also another super duper recipe for no-bake cookies:

Julie’s Oatmeal Chocolate Frogs

My kids make these all the times, always a hit! YUMMY!

My kids make these all the times, always a hit! YUMMY!

Peace and Meticulous is out of my reach,

Isabelle

Aunt Sara’s Creamy Roasted Chicken Noodle Soup

Creamy Chicken Noodle Soup

Creamy Chicken Noodle Soup

As much as I love soups, evident with my: Soups Round Up, I had never made my Aunt Sara’s Creamy Roasted Chicken Noodle Soup.  She makes it every year for our Christmas Family Party.  We keep it simple for everyone with 3 large Crockpots filled with yummy food: one with her soup, one with my classic chili (which I have yet to share with you…hint: BEER is my secret ingredient) and one with Grandma Georgia’ Seafood Chowder (a recipe I am not privy to).  We also have platters of lunch meats and a crazy amount of breads to choose from.  Easy and practical for the big day!

Since I’ve had somewhat of a sore throat the past few days I thought it would be yummy and delicious to make her soup.  Isn’t chicken noodle soup the cure-all?

Ingredients:

2 tablespoons olive oil

1 medium onion, chopped

1 cup diced carrots

1 cup diced celery (not in original recipe but Aunt Sara said to add what ever veggies I wanted!)

1 tablespoon dry oregano

6 cups chicken broth (low-sodium is best, 49-ounce can)

1, 12-ounce can evaporated milk

4 medium potatoes, peeled and diced (about 1-inch cubes)

1 whole roasted chicken, shredded (store-bought or homemade, I had about 6 cups of shredded chicken)

1 cup frozen peas, thawed (I think I was closer to 1 1/2 cups)

2 cups egg noodles (I prefer the extra-wide & I did use the no-yoke kind)

Salt and Pepper to taste (about 1 teaspoon each should work)

How to:

In a large soup kettle or dutch oven heat your oil.  Add your onion, carrots and celery.  Saute for 5 minutes until soft and fragrant.  Add your oregano, salt, pepper, chicken broth, evaporated milk and potatoes.  Bring to a boil.  Reduce and simmer for about 30-40 minutes until potatoes are tender.  Taste and adjust seasoning.

from start

from start

to finish...nicely reduced after 35 or so minutes

to finish…nicely reduced after 35 or so minutes

Add your roasted chicken, peas and egg noodles.  Cook until noodles are done, approximately 8 minutes.

the home stretch! All aboard!

the home stretch! All aboard!

done! Looking gorgeous and delicious!

done! Looking gorgeous and delicious!

oh my goodness....and NO cream...yet all this creaminess!

oh my goodness….NO cream…yet all this creaminess!

Serve.

***You may want to add another cup or so of chicken broth if you feel your soup is getting too thick, especially if you have leftovers.  Totally up to you, some people like their soup to be thin and lively (!) others (like me) like them thick and robust!  ;)

Note: I am always hesitant to give salt and pepper amounts.  It is such a personal preference.  We don’t like it too salty at my house, some people hate the taste of pepper in food, some people actually think pepper is spicy; they wouldn’t survive here….we LOVE it really spicy, Tabasco seems closer to ketchup for us!  So you can imagine when I make spicy stuff it can really take it to a new level!  Therefore salt and pepper so your taste buds are happy happy!

now that's a happy happy soup!

now that’s a happy happy soup!

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Peace and I had to look up the word privy to make sure I was using it correctly,

Isabelle