Tag Archives: Valentine’s Day

Romantic meals and treats for Valentine’s Day from This Mama Cooks! and Foodie.com

Romantic meals and treats for Valentine’s Day from This Mama Cooks! On a Diet - thismamacooks.com

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Healthy Peanut Butter Caramel Popcorn

Peanut Butter Caramel Popcorn at This Mama Cooks! On a Diet - thismamacooks.com

In its infinite wisdom, my daughter’s school scheduled the Daddy Daughter Dance on Valentine’s Day. So Paul and I won’t be going out on Thursday, but may take in a dinner and a movie at The National in Athens, Georgia if the movie at The Ciné is something I actually want to see. (All the movies I do want to see are done after the 14th, darn it!)

However for many of us, going out to eat for Valentine’s Day is a total pain. First of all, this year it’s on a Thursday and who can stay out late when you have to get kids ready for school and head out to work early in the morning? Second, depending on where you like to eat, you may have to make reservations weeks in advance. Third, between babysitters, drinks and a nice meal, and a Valentine's Day present for your sweetie, it’s expensive!

Why not stay home and fix a nice Valentine's Day meal instead? Afterwards, put the kids to bed – early if possible. Then start a romantic movie on Netflix, open a bottle of sparkling wine, and have a delicious but healthy snack that won’t spoil your diet too badly, like Peanut Butter Caramel Corn from Cooking Light's The New Way to Cook Light: Fresh Food & Bold Flavors for Today's Home Cook. Leftovers will make a nice after school snack the next day, too!

I bet this would be good with almond butter, as well. If you have nut allergies or sensitivities, try sunflower seed butter (Trader Joe's brand is awesome!) instead of peanut butter and pine nuts (which are seeds) for the sliced almonds. You could also substitute your favorite vegan buttery spread instead of using butter, too.

Peanut Butter Caramel Popcorn at This Mama Cooks! On a Diet - thismamacooks.com

Healthy Peanut Butter Caramel Popcorn

Ingredients

  • Cooking spray
  • 2 tablespoons canola oil
  • 1/2 cup unpopped popcorn kernels
  • 1/2 cup sliced almonds
  • 2/3 cup packed brown sugar
  • 2/3 cup light-colored corn syrup
  • 2 tablespoons butter
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 cup creamy peanut butter
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract

Directions

  1. Preheat oven to 250 degrees F.
  2. Line a jelly-roll pan with parchment paper; coat paper with cooking spray.
  3. Heat oil in a large Dutch oven over medium-high heat. Add popcorn; cover and cook 4 minutes, shaking pan frequently. When popping slows, remove pan from heat. Let stand until popping stops. Uncover; add almonds.
  4. Combine sugar, syrup, butter, and salt in a medium saucepan; bring to a boil. Cook 3 minutes, stirring occasionally. Remove from heat.
  5. Add peanut butter and vanilla, and stir until smooth. Drizzle over popcorn; toss well.
  6. Spread mixture into prepared pan.
  7. Bake at 250 degrees F for 1 hour, stirring every 15 minutes. Cool completely.
Prep Time: 20 Minutes
Cook Time: 1 Hour
Total Time: 1 Hour 20 Minutes
Servings: Serves 20
  • Serving size: About 3/4 cup
  • Calories: 155
  • Total Fat: 7.4 g
  • Saturated fat: 1.8 g
  • Unsaturated fat: mono 3.5 g, poly 1.6 g
  • Sodium: 108 mg
  • Total Carbohydrates: 21.3 g
  • Fiber: 1.4 g
  • Protein: 2.6 g
  • Cholesterol: 4 mg

Recipe and photo used with permission of Cooking Light.

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Disclosure: Amazon links are affiliate links. A commission may be earned from a referred sale to their website.

Fig, Caramelized Onion, Prosciutto & Goat Cheese Pizza

Fig, Caramelized Onion, Prosciutto & Goat Cheese Pizza at This Mama Cooks! On a Diet - thismamacooks.comMy son, Nathan, came home from school the other day asking me if I had a goat cheese and fig pizza recipe on my blog. Seems he has a teacher who grows figs in her yard and she needed some ideas. Nathan told her about the goat cheese and fig pizza made with Udi’s Gluten Free pizza crusts I'd made for dinner a few times, and thought I'd a posted recipe for it. However, while I had recipes for Goat Cheese Pizza with Caramelized Onions, Baby Greens and Balsamic Reduction and Caramelized Onion & Fig Mini Pizzas, I didn’t have one that combined the two. That is until now, thanks to my friend, Holly Clegg.

I love figs and can usually find fresh ones here in Georgia when they’re in season or dried ones when they’re not. However, if you’re having a tough time finding any sort of figs, you can substitute dates or even dried plums.

Find more of Holly’s trim& TERRIFIC® recipes at hollyclegg.com and The Healthy Cooking Blog. Don’t forget to check out Holly’s new cookbook, KITCHEN 101: Secrets to Cooking Confidence, too!

Gourmet Aphrodisiacs this Valentine’s Day

If you are looking for just the right subtly sweet and savory dish with gourmet appeal yet quick and easy – then look no further than my delightful Fig, Caramelized Onion, Prosciutto & Goat Cheese Pizza. Did you know that figs are considered a symbol of fertility and revered as an aphrodisiac? From the “Food for the Mood” chapter in Holly Clegg's trim&TERRIFIC Too Hot in the Kitchen: Secrets to Sizzle at Any Age, this is the go-to cookbook for a fun-filled Valentine’s Day gift! Filled with recipes for romance, aphrodisiac ingredients, and enticing words like, “A good marriage is like a good wine, it gets better with age.”

Turn up the heat this Valentine’s Day and you’ll definitely sizzle in your kitchen!

Fig, Caramelized Onion, Prosciutto & Goat Cheese Pizza at This Mama Cooks! On a Diet - thismamacooks.com

Fig, Caramelized Onion, Prosciutto & Goat Cheese Pizza

Figs, considered a symbol of fertility and revered as an aphrodisiac, turn pizza into an alluring palate pleasing masterpiece.

Ingredients

  • 1 teaspoon plus 1 tablespoon olive oil, divided
  • 1 small onion, thinly sliced
  • Pinch sugar
  • 1 (12-ounce) thin pizza crust
  • 2 tablespoons orange marmalade
  • 4 ounces figs, sliced in thirds
  • 2 ounces prosciutto, cut into pieces
  • 1/2 cup crumbled goat cheese
  • 1/4 cup shredded part-skim mozzarella cheese
  • 1 teaspoon dried rosemary leaves, optional

Directions

  1. In small nonstick skillet, heat 1 teaspoon olive oil and sauté onion, stirring occasionally, about 10 minutes until start to turn golden. Add sugar and continue cooking until caramel color. Set aside to cool.
  2. Preheat oven 450°F. On pizza crust, spread remaining 1 tablespoon olive oil and cover with orange marmalade. Arrange cooled onions, figs, prosciutto, goat cheese and mozzarella on crust.
  3. Sprinkle with rosemary, if desired. Bake 10-15 minutes or until cheese is melted and crust crisp.
Prep Time: 15 Minutes
Cook Time: 45 Minutes
Total Time: 1 Hour
Servings: Makes 8 servings
  • Serving size: 1 slice
  • Calories: 281
  • Calories from Fat: 96 (34%)
  • Total Fat: 10g
  • Saturated fat: 4g
  • Unsaturated fat: 6g
  • Sodium: 279mg
  • Total Carbohydrates: 38g
  • Sugar: 12g
  • Fiber: 4g
  • Protein: 6g
  • Cholesterol: 16mg

Dietary Exchanges: 2 starch, 1/2 fruit, 1/2 lean meat, 1 1/2 fat

Recipe and photo used with permission of the author.

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Disclosure: Amazon links are affiliate links. A commission may be earned from a referred sale to their website.

Flourless Chocolate Torte with Crème Anglaise

Gluten Free Flourless Chocolate Torte with Crème Anglaise from This Mama Cooks! On a Diet - thismamacooks.com Just because you eat gluten free, doesn’t mean you can’t enjoy a Valentine’s Day dessert. This decadent treat comes from the cookbook, Straight from the Heart, by Taos chef and owner of Graham’s Grille, Lesley B. Fay. Her 224-page cookbook includes recipes for appetizers, soups, salads and dressings, sandwiches, entrees and desserts, butters and spices and resources, shortcuts and tips.

Lesley’s flourless cake stands out due to its unique combination of espresso and merlot wine. Make sure to double check that ingredients like baking powder and vanilla are gluten free. The cake is best if it’s made the day before.

Since it makes 16 small cakes, you may want to halve the recipe. Or you can put a few aside for midnight munchies after the fun on Valentine’s Day (hint, hint) or for the kids the next day.

Gluten Free Flourless Chocolate Torte with Crème Anglaise from This Mama Cooks! On a Diet - thismamacooks.com

Flourless Chocolate Torte with Crème Anglaise

Ingredients

For the cake:

  • 2 cups semisweet chocolate, chopped
  • 3/4 pound butter, softened and divided in half
  • 1 tablespoon vanilla
  • 1/2 cup espresso or strong coffee
  • 1/2 cup merlot wine
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 1 cup cocoa powder
  • 1 cup cornstarch
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1/2 tablespoon xanthan gum
  • pinch salt
  • 3 eggs
  • 1 cup semisweet chocolate chips (or coarsely chopped bar) sugar and cocoa powder for sprinkling

For the crème anglaise:

  • 5 egg yolks
  • 1/4 cup sugar
  • 1 tablespoon cornstarch
  • pinch nutmeg
  • 1 1/2 cup milk
  • 1/2 cup heavy cream
  • 2 teaspoons vanilla extract

Directions

For the cake:

  1. Preheat oven to 350°F.
  2. Melt the semisweet chocolate with half the butter, and mix in the vanilla, espresso and merlot. In a separate bowl, cream the rest of butter until fluffy. Add sugar and beat until light yellow and smooth (about 5 minutes on high speed).
  3. Mix together the cocoa, cornstarch, baking powder, xanthan gum and salt. Add these dry ingredients and the chocolate mixture to butter and sugar, alternating, and mixing well after each addition.
  4. Add eggs one at a time, beating well after each egg, about 1 minute. Add semisweet chocolate chips. Pour into buttered cupcake tins or paper holders that have been sprinkled with sugar and cocoa powder.
  5. Place a large open container of bowling water on the bottom rack of the oven. The stream helps cook the cakes and keeps them moist. Bake cakes on rack above the boiling water for 15 minutes. Turn off heat, open oven door and let rest for another 8 to 10 minutes. They should rise and be medium-soft to the touch. The trick here is to cook them long enough so they don’t fall, but not so long that they are dry.
  6. Serve each cake in a puddle of Crème Anglaise. Garnish with fresh raspberries or a ribbon of lime (optional).

For the crème anglaise:

  1. In a heat-resistant mixing bowl, stir together the egg yolks, sugar, cornstarch and nutmeg with a wooden spoon until well combined. The sugar should be somewhat dissolved in the yolks. Combine the milk and cream in a medium saucepan over medium heat and warm the milk just below the boiling point (the milk will start to form bubbles on the edges of the pan and it will become steamy just before it boils).
  2. Remove the pan from the heat and stir just a couple of tablespoons of the hot milk into the eggs and sugar, mixing well the whole time. Gradually add the rest of the milk, stirring constantly. Return the mixture to the saucepan over low to medium heat. Heat the sauce until it thickens, but do not boil or the yolks will curdle. The sauce is done when it stays on the wooden spoon without dripping (this takes about five minutes but will depend on your pan and your burner). As soon as the sauce is thickened, immediately remove it from the heat.
  3. Pour the sauce into a heat-resistant bowl (you can pour the sauce through a strainer to remove any lumps).
  4. Stir the vanilla extract and cover the sauce with plastic wrap, pressing the wrap down on top of the sauce, and refrigerate until ready to serve.
Prep Time: 45 Minutes
Cook Time: 45 Minutes
Total Time: 1 Hour 30 Minutes
Servings: Makes 16 individual cakes and 2 cups crème anglaise.
  • Serving size: 1 cake

Picture and recipe courtesy of Lesley B. Fay.

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Disclosure: Amazon links are affiliate links. A commission may be earned from a referred sale to their website.

Sugar Free Dairy Free Chocolate Mousse

Sugar Free Dairy Free Chocolate Mousse at This Mama Cooks! On a Diet - thismamacooks.com The frustrating thing about my food sensitivities has been the lack of ready made desserts. I have a sweet tooth and love a piece of chocolate after a meal. Unfortunately, almost all commercially made chocolate bars are made with sugar or cane sugar, which is on my “avoid this” list. There are a few companies making agave sweetened chocolates, but they’re prohibitively expensive. One brand I found at my local Whole Foods was $1/ounce. Another brand, Innocent Raw Chocolate, is even more expensive, especially if you figure in shipping costs.

The Melville Candy Company makes stevia sweetened dark chocolate, but at $32 per pound (plus shipping) I thought I’d want to experiment using agave, stevia and unsweetened chocolate on my own first.

In search of allergy free chocolate mousse

Julia Child’s recipe for Chocolate Mousse has been my favorite since I was a child. I “healthed it up” a bit when I made it last Christmas by using a vegan  buttery spread instead of butter and dark chocolate instead of milk chocolate. However, I was stumped on what to substitute for the whipping cream.

I’ve read that you can take a can of coconut cream (not the light version or coconut milk) put it in the refrigerator overnight, then skim off the coconut cream from the coconut water. Supposedly, you can whip this cream with some success. Still, I wasn’t convinced that it would work in a mousse. 

Then I received a copy of Clean Start: Inspiring You to Eat Clean and Live Well and found my answer – firm tofu.

This Mama’s tips

  • Use organic tofu whenever you can. I buy it at my local grocery store and surprisingly it’s cheaper than the non-organic tofu.
  • Terry uses orange extract, which is hard to find. Since I already had Triple Sec, an orange flavored liquor, I used it instead.
  • Terry uses maple syrup in her recipe. Due to my food sensitivity to it, I used Madhava Amber Agave Nectar instead.
  • I tried using powdered stevia to sweeten the melted chocolate, but ended up with a bitter mess.
  • I alternatively used Kraft’s unsweetened Baker’s Chocolate and Scharffen Berger’s Unsweetened Dark Baking Chocolate the two times I made this. Both chocolates worked very well.
  • Terry garnishes her mousse with slivered almonds and orange zest. To me, that’s like gilding the lily. The mousse is amazing enough on its own.
  • If you’re looking for a vegan or dairy free chocolate cheesecake, this recipe may be just about perfect. Double the recipe and make as above. Then pour into a vegan/sugar free/gluten free (or whatever your needs are) “graham cracker” pie crust. (Here’s a list of vegan, gluten-free or sugar-free pie crust recipes from About.com.) Refrigerate for several hours or even overnight.
  • I find this recipe really filling and have actually ate half at lunch and the other half at dinner. You may want to split into eight portions or serve in shot glasses to lower calories and Weight Watcher POINTS. You should find a small portion just as satisfying due to the amount of protein and fiber in this recipe.
Sugar Free Dairy Free Chocolate Mousse at This Mama Cooks! On a Diet - thismamacooks.com

Sugar Free Dairy Free Chocolate Mousse

Based on Terry Walter’s recipe from Clean Start: Inspiring You to Eat Clean and Live Well

Ingredients

  • 14 ounces extra-firm silken organic tofu
  • 1 teaspoon Triple Sec
  • 3 ounces dark agave nectar
  • 4 1/2 ounces unsweetened chocolate
  • 1/4 cup dark agave nectar

Directions

  1. Cut a slit in the tofu container and carefully pour out the water.
  2. Remove the block of tofu and carefully place it on a pile of plain paper towels – about 4 or 5 sheets. (You can also do this with a clean kitchen towel or plain washcloth.) Gently press the tofu into the paper towels to remove the excess water. You may want to turn the tofu block and “blot” it on the paper towels to remove the water. Do this until your paper towel pile is completely damp. If you want, create a new pile of paper towels and repeat. The more moisture you remove, the thicker your mousse.
  3. Place tofu in food processor and whip until smooth, scraping down sides of the bowl as needed.
  4. Add the Triple Sec and 3 ounces of dark agave nectar and pulse to combine.
  5. Melt chocolate and 1/4 cup of dark agave nectar in a double boiler or in a small sauce pan or pot over very low heat. You’ll find that the chocolate and agave, once completely melted, will “set up” and be the consistency of chocolate frosting.
  6. Remove the chocolate from the heat and add it to the tofu mixture. Process until blended and smooth. You’ll need to scrape down the bowl to make sure there are no white tofu streaks in your mousse.
  7. Transfer mousse to parfait or sherbet glasses and serve immediately. The mousse will be about room temperature and fluffy. (This recipe takes about 15 minutes to make. This will give your kids or spouse just enough time to clean up the dinner dishes while you whip up a batch.)
  8. Or you can refrigerate to cool. However, mousse will “set up” and be the almost consistency of cheesecake. Still delicious, but it a bit dense for some. (I love it either way.)
Prep Time: 15 Minutes
Cook Time: 15 Minutes
Total Time: 30 Minutes
Servings: Serves 4
  • Serving size: 1/4 of recipe
  • Calories: 385
  • Calories from Fat: 202
  • Total Fat: 22.5g
  • Saturated fat: 10.9g
  • Unsaturated fat: 11.6g
  • Sodium: 142mg
  • Total Carbohydrates: 45.9g
  • Sugar: 1.8g
  • Fiber: 5.7g
  • Protein: 13.9g
  • Cholesterol: 0mg

Weight Watchers POINTS = 9 (Try a very satisfying half portion for 4.5 POINTS!)

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Disclosure: I received a review copy of Clean Start: Inspiring You to Eat Clean and Live Well. Amazon links are affiliate links. A commission may be earned from a referred sale to their website.

Soft Tofu on Foodista

Pomegranate Salsa

Pomegranate Salsa with Chips at This Mama Cooks! On a Diet - thismamacooks.com Continue reading

Salmon Marsala

Holly Clegg's Salmon Marsala from This Mama Cooks! On a Diet - thismamacooks.com In today’s guest post, Holly Clegg shares a romantic and healthy Valentine’s Day meal for you and your sweetie featuring salmon with marsala cooking wine and mushrooms. You can find more of Holly’s recipes on The Healthy Cooking Blog.

A Valentine’s Day dish for the heart

Valentine’s Day is around the corner and love is in the air. Want a sultry dish that will have your sweetheart swooning? If you’ve never cooked salmon before, this quick and easy Salmon Marsala is a mouth-watering dish that is not only delicious, but good for you, too. Salmon is chocked full of heart healthy omega 3 fatty acids so you can love your honey’s heart inside and out!

This Mama’s tips

  • If you have a food sensitivity to corn products, like cornstarch, use tapioca or potato starch instead. Both work just as well as cornstarch.
  • You can also use a buttery spread like I Can’t Believe It’s Not Butter instead of olive oil.

Ingredients

  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 1 onion, thinly sliced
  • 1 teaspoon minced garlic
  • 1/2 pound sliced mushrooms
  • 4 (4-ounce) skinless salmon fillets
  • 1/3 cup Holland House Marsala cooking wine
  • 3/4 cup fat-free chicken broth
  • 3 teaspoons cornstarch

Directions

  1. In large nonstick skillet, heat oil and sauté onion, garlic, and mushrooms until tender.
  2. Add salmon to skillet, cooking 4 minutes, turn onto other side. Meanwhile, in small bowl, mix together wine, broth and cornstarch.
  3. When salmon is almost done, add wine mixture to the salmon. Stir gently, as mixture thickens quickly.
Prep Time: 10 Minutes
Cook Time: 25 Minutes
Total Time: 35 Minutes
Servings: Serves 4
  • Serving size: 1 salmon filet
  • Calories: 241
  • Calories from Fat: 72 (30%)
  • Total Fat: 8g
  • Saturated fat: 1g
  • Unsaturated fat: 7g
  • Sodium: 162mg
  • Total Carbohydrates: 10g
  • Sugar: 5g
  • Fiber: 2g
  • Protein: 27g
  • Cholesterol: 65mg

Dietary Exchanges: 1/2 other carbohydrate, 3 lean meat

Weight Watchers POINTS = 5

Recipe and picture supplied by Holly Clegg and used with her permission.

Julia Child’s chocolate mousse

Julie Child's Chocolate Mousse at This Mama Cooks! On a Diet - thismamacooks.com Was junior high fun for you? For me, not so much. Sure I had good friends like Suzanne who I’d walk with back and forth to school. Or Lauren who loved the Beatles as much as I did. Yet there were the days that I was mercilessly teased about my not-so-cool Levi’s corduroys. Or maybe one of the older boys called me Big Nose Barnett once again. (So original those older boys.)

While it wasn’t quite Lord of the Flies, to have good day meant being stealthy enough to fly underneath the seventh grade radar, usually by hiding in the school library during recess.

I looked forward to the three o’clock bell and returning home to the quiet support of my family. After being greeted by Mom at the front door, I’d put away my jacket, and stow my books in my room. Then it was off to the kitchen for an afternoon snack.

Usually, I started my search for the perfect treat by staring into the pantry and opening drawer and cupboards. Did my sister eat the rest of the Chips Ahoys in the cookie drawer? Was there any Ovaltine left?

I opened the refrigerator door figuring I could have a Dannon coffee yogurt. Then I gazed upon a large glass serving bowl covered in Saran Wrap. Immediately, the small hurts and anxieties of the day vanished. While I was at school, Mom cracked open her worn copy of Mastering the Art of French Cooking and graced our family with something special - Julia Child's chocolate mousse.

That cheap, faux crystal bowl contained a luxurious concoction of scrumptious contradiction – heavy but fluffy, bitter but sweet, rich but light as air. It was dark chocolate, sugar, butter, eggs and cream – plus maybe a little rum – whipped up into a frothy, edible pillow of afterschool comfort.

Who cared if my nose was a smidge too big or I needed to pay closer attention to my wardrobe? Every delicious spoonful eliminated the bitterness of the day and showed me that the world could be a sweeter place, at least for a little while.

This Mama’s tips

  • You can use sweet or semi-sweet high quality chocolate chips instead of the baking chocolate. They’re much easier to measure and melt.
  • If you are concerned about raw eggs, use pasteurized egg whites. Look on the container to make sure they are suitable for whipping.
  • You may wish to serve the mousse with dollops of whipped cream. But why challenge perfection?
  • On a healthy note, I recently cooked up the recipe using I Can't Believe It's Not Butter instead of real butter, stevia instead of sugar, and Scharffen Berger bittersweet chocolate since it's higher in cocoa and lower in sugar. It turned out GREAT! But don't tell Julia as she's probably rolling in her grave about the lack of real butter and sugar.
Julie Child's Chocolate Mousse at This Mama Cooks! On a Diet - thismamacooks.com

Julia Child's Chocolate Mousse

With apologies to my healthy and weight loss readers, here’s Julia’s recipe as my mom made it. It’s worth every decadent calorie.

Ingredients

  • 8 ounces sweet or semi-sweet, high quality baking chocolate
  • 1/4 cup strong coffee
  • 6 tablespoons unsalted butter
  • 3 egg yolks
  • 1 cup heavy cream
  • 2 tablespoons rum or an orange, coffee or vanilla-flavored liquor
  • 3 egg whites
  • 1/4 cup instant (finely ground) sugar
  • whipped cream (optional)

Directions

  1. In a double boiler, slowly melt the chocolate with the strong coffee over barely simmering water.
  2. Gently beat the butter into the melted chocolate. Then one by one, beat in the egg yolks.
  3. Remove from the saucepan from the heat.
  4. In a chilled bowl with chilled beaters, beat the cream (and optional liquor) until it leaves light traces on the surface.
  5. In another bowl, beat the egg whites until they form soft peaks.
  6. While beating the egg whites, sprinkle in the sugar by the spoonful. Continue beating until stiff shining peaks are formed.
  7. Scrape the chocolate mixture down the side of the egg-white bowl, and delicately fold in the whipped cream. Do not over fold the mouse or it will lose volume.
  8. Transfer the mousse into attractive serving bowls or one large serving bowl.
  9. Cover and chill several hours until firm.
Prep Time: 3 Hours 30 Minutes
Cook Time: 30 Minutes
Total Time: 4 Hours
Servings: Serves 8
  • Serving size: 1/8 of recipe

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Disclosure: Amazon links are affiliate links. A commission may be earned from a referred sale to their website.