Monday, April 30, 2012

Engagement Anniversary

engagement pictures taken by Something Beautiful Images
Today marks the one year anniversary of Joshua and my engagement.  1 year ago he got down on one knee and asked me if I wanted to spend the rest of my life with him.  To which I'm pretty sure I was crying and so surprised, I barely squeaked out a yes.  

So much has happened in the past year, but I still get just as excited when I think about the fact that I get to spend the rest of my life with my best friend.  It feels like just yesterday we were calling all of our family and friends, and by the end of the night I had no voice left.  Since that day, I've moved (twice), I've started grad school, Joshua got a different job and moved (twice), and we've made countless trips home to see all of our family and friends that are much farther away from us.  Now we are less than a month away from the biggest day of our lives and we are ready to begin our life together.  
I love thinking back to our engagement and reliving that day, so I thought I would share with you how he did it.  If you don't like mushy things, I'm sorry.  Because to me, this was magic.  It was low key and perfect.  

So without further ado, here you go.  Joshua had come up to Madison to spend the weekend with me (we were living 2 hours apart at this point in time).  When he got there on Friday night I was so sick.  I had come down with a terrible cold that morning and all I wanted to do was lay around on the couch and do nothing.  I was supposed to run the Crazylegs 8k race that Saturday morning with my friend BJ, and I was really upset that I was not feeling well.  We spent Friday night in, watching movies and resting so that I would hopefully feel better.  (I found out later that he had wanted to take me out to one of our favorite spots in Madison and pop the question there on Friday but I had shattered that plan, whoops!)

Saturday morning I woke up and still felt terrible.  I put on my running clothes and went outside to see if I thought I could manage running.  I made it 1 block and couldn't breathe.  I was so bummed.  I really wanted to run that race!  I came back inside feeling so defeated.  I took off my running clothes and crawled back into bed for a little bit.  Then Josh came in and suggested that I get up and get ready and we could go take a drive and a little walk.   That getting out and about might make me feel better.  It looked so nice out, so I agreed.

We drove through the arboretum, found a parking spot, and took a little walk.  We were just chatting away, and I'll admit that I did start to feel better.  After we had walked for a ways, we got to the top of a hill and there was this single bench with a beautiful cherry blossom tree behind it that had just started to blossom.  It was the only tree with flowers in the whole place.  We sat on the bench and talked and talked.  It was so beautiful and peaceful.  Nobody else was around.
Then Joshua got out his camera (should have been clue number 1 to me that something was up - he never has his camera with him).  He said we should take some pictures together because we didn't have that many.  He set his camera on a tree a ways away and set a timer on it while I was sitting on the bench.  He pushed the button and ran towards me to get in the shot.  We took 1 picture and he went to check it to see how it turned out.  He adjusted it a little bit, clicked the button, and walked slowly towards me.  I started yelling at him that something was wrong with it.  It wasn't flashing like it should with the timer.  It was just sitting there.  I told him he needed to try again.  He told me it was fine and just kept walking slowly to me on the bench.

He got to where I was sitting, got down on one knee, and I knew.  I started laughing and crying at the same time (and sniffling because my nose was so runny).  He told me that he loved me and I cried harder. He told me long before that that he would not tell me he loved me until he meant it, love to him is forever love.  I told him I loved him too.  He pulled the ring out of his pocket and then he asked if I would marry him.  And I squeaked, "Yes."  We hugged and kissed, laughed and cried, and then he started walking back towards the camera.  He had gotten the whole thing on tape!
Little sneaky, mcsneakster.  He switched the camera to video before he started walking towards me.  That's why it was blinking funny.  So the whole thing (including me yelling at him that it wasn't working, blowing my leaky faucet of a nose, and everything else) was on tape!  We took a few more pictures and then went and called our families and closest friends to tell them the news.

Later that night we hung out with friends and celebrated with them.  It was a truly magical day.  One that I will remember for the rest of my life.
right after I said yes
Note: all pictures are copyright Something Beautiful Images.  If you are in the Madison area and looking for a photographer, you should check Sarah out.  She's fantastic!

Sunday, April 29, 2012

Almond Poppyseed Protein Pancakes

Say goodbye to boring pancakes.  These little gems are packed with protein, probiotics, and whole grains.  They are so easy to make that you could even make them for a weekday breakfast.  I can't get over how moist and fluffy they are, especially considering the very short ingredient list.

They are made with almond greek yogurt, but if you can't find that flavor, you could easily use plain greek yogurt and add 1/4 t almond extract.  If you can find that flavor, it's divine.  I was a bit skeptical at first but I found myself trying to scrape every last bit from the inside of the yogurt cup after I had made these.
Anderson Erickson, you are geniuses.
Also, if you can't find poppy seeds at your grocery store, try the customer service counter.  I know weird.  I searched and searched in the spice aisle.  I went to the health food section.  Nothing.  Finally I just asked someone and they directed me to customer service.  I asked for the poppy seeds and the lady there took out a small container for me from a locked drawer, and I paid her the 69 cents.  Apparently they had a serious issue with people stealing them?  Strange.  Maybe I'm just naive, but I can't for the life of me understand why someone would want to steal poppy seeds.

Back to pancakes.  Make these.  You won't regret it.

Almond Poppyseed Protein Pancakes
(serves 2)

Ingredients - 
  • 1 6 oz container greek yogurt (almond flavored, or plain with 1/4 t almond extract)
  • 1 c old fashioned oats
  • 1 T chia seeds
  • 3/4 c milk (I used vanilla unsweetened almond milk but whatever you have will work)
  • 6 drops stevia extract (or 1 T sugar)
  • 1/2 T poppy seeds
Directions - 
-Heat skillet over medium heat
-Add yogurt, oats, chia seeds, milk, stevia to blender
-Blend until well combined
-Stir in poppy seeds
-Pour onto hot skillet that's been sprayed with cooking spray
-Cook 3-4 minutes on each side, until golden brown

-Serve with a pat of butter, maple syrup and chopped strawberries (or whatever you like on your pancakes)


Saturday, April 28, 2012

Sourdough baguettes

First things first, you can now follow me on Bloglovin'.  I just thought I'd make things a little easier on you guys and give you a way to get access to all of my posts without filling up your inbox.

Follow my blog with Bloglovin

Okay, now that that's taken care of, I promised you that I would share the sourdough baguette recipe that I made with my manly beef stew last night.  I've been working on growing my own sourdough starter for the past few weeks and I finally had enough to bake some bread.  In this time, I've learned that I'm better at growing bacteria in a jar than I am tomatoes outside.  I even almost killed my starter on day 5, but with a little life support (water) I brought it back from the dead.  It's now alive and kicking!  And ready to bake with.
I followed Mama Pea's sourdough bread recipe exactly and it turned out great!  I can't wait to make more of these loaves (they were so simple!) and make other things with my starter.  If you don't have a starter of your own, you can buy one online, or according to Mama Pea you might even be able to get some from your local bakery.
I'm not going to share the whole recipe with you because it belongs to Mama, but I will show you my process and how things looked along the way.  For the full recipe, click here.
add ingredients to mixer with dough hook attachment
knead until it clears the sides of the bowl
place in oiled bowl, cover, let rise
form into loaf shape
slice and serve
This bread was so easy and delicious!  I loved that the stand mixer and sourdough starter did pretty much all of the work for me.  The honey offset the sour taste a little and provided a nice depth to the flavor.  We loved it!

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Man Friendly Recipes: Beef Stew

One of my friends recently suggested that I try to make some food that had some "manly" flavor to it to appease her husband.  At first I was a bit confused by what this meant, I thought my recipes were things that everyone would like.  Then I realized that perhaps the abundance of veggie burgers, quinoa, and sweet potatoes that I have on here may not appeal to all the fellas out there.

Josh is willing to try pretty much anything that I make him, and usually likes it.  I don't have to make meat and potatoes every night to make him happy, which makes me happy too.  One time, a few months after we started dating, I asked him what he would like to eat for his birthday dinner.  What was his favorite food from growing up?  To which he replied, "beef stew".

Ughhhh, beef stew.  I'm pretty sure I had some bad experiences with day care center government subsided meat as a child, and beef stew was one of the things that made my stomach uneasy.   But, being the good girlfriend that I was, I obliged, and made him beef stew for his birthday.  (Side note - I slaved over that stew all day, and he ended up being too sick that day to eat it.  Fail)

So anyhow, as I was thinking about "manly" recipes to make, beef stew came to mind.  Being that I never enjoyed beef stew growing up, I didn't even know what to do to make my own.  So I went to the source.  The woman who knows everything.  Ree.  This recipe is made with beer, so I knew it would be good :).  I followed the recipe as written, except I cut the amount of meat in half, and doubled the potatoes.  2 lbs of beef seemed a little excessive to me personally.

I served this with a side of my new homemade sourdough baguettes (post coming tomorrow!) and what do you know, it was delicious!  Josh got his favorite  meal, and I was happy too.  I'm not going to copy the recipe here, that would just me mean, but head on over to the Pioneer Woman and she'll show you how to do it.

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Friday, April 27, 2012

Overnight oats

I finally did it.  I finally set my alarm clock across the room so I physically have to get out of bed to shut it off.  For the past 3 weeks straight I've been rolling over and turning it off in my sleep and waking up 20 minutes later.  Whoops.  This little predicament was definitely not helping my breakfast situation.

So I took charge.  Alarm across the room.  And what do you know, it worked.  Yesterday I got up at 6, not 6:20.  I had time to do my hair, makeup, and eat breakfast.  Not in the car.

The last part is thanks to overnight oats.  There's lots of versions of these floating around the blogosphere, but this is my favorite.  I prefer my oats be chewy, with a little texture, not runny.  If you don't know what ON Oats are, you are in for a treat.  They are oats that you mix up the night before, put in the fridge, and eat cold the next morning.  There is no stove top or cooking involved.  

The secret behind this magic, chia seeds!  You could try to make these without the chia, but I don't think the texture will be the same.  The chia is the ingredient that breaks down the oats and creates a wonderfully creamy texture.  

If you're scared of cold oats, don't be.  Especially in the summer, cold oats are wonderful.  It's almost, almost, like eating ice cream.  

Overnight Oats

(makes 2 servings)

Ingredients - 
  • 1 c old fashioned oats
  • 1 container vanilla greek yogurt
  • 1 T chia seeds
  • 1/2 c milk (I used vanilla almond milk)
  • 1 t honey
  • pinch of cinnamon (optional)
Directions - 
-Mix everything up in bowl
-Cover with plastic wrap and place in fridge overnight
-In the morning, remove oats, stir in additional milk if desired
nice and chewy, just how I like it!
-Eat up!

I layered mine in a pretty little dish with sliced banana, peanut butter and cinnamon.  It was delicious.  I love that I can enjoy one of my favorite breakfasts on a weekday with pretty much no effort.

You could easily change up the flavor of this by using flavored greek yogurt, stirring in some cocoa powder, or adding different toppings.  

As much as I love eating toast in the car, this is much better.  After all, breakfast is the most important meal of the day.

Question of the day - 

Have you tried overnight oats?


Thursday, April 26, 2012

Holy Guacamole

Friends, this is a beautiful thing.  I'm thoroughly convinced that avocados are nature's way of telling us that eating healthy fats is a good thing.  Avocados sometimes get a bad rap because of their high fat content.  I'm not going to get in to all of the nitty gritty details, but suffice it to say that avocados contain monounsaturated fats (good fats) that can help lower cholesterol and lower your risk for heart disease.  They also help you get beautiful shiny hair.  Bonus!  They contain tons of vitamins and minerals too, like potassium - yum!!!!  (if you are curious, here is more great information about avocados)

One of my favorite ways to enjoy avocados is in the form of guacamole.  I feel like ever since I learned how easy this stuff is to make, I've become sort of a guacamole snob.  The best guacamole is made with just a few simple ingredients.  There is no mayonnaise involved.  No chemicals.  That "guacamole dip" that you can buy in the grocery stores, gross.  How in the world can they make that stuff stay bright green forever?  I don't want to know.  What I do know is that the home made stuff is tasty.  With chips, in tacos, on a salad...  And here's how you do it!


Ingredients -

  • 2 ripe avocados (for information about how to tell if your avocados are ripe check this page out)
  • 3 cloves garlic (minced)
  • 1 T lemon juice (lime works great too)
  • 1/2 diced jalapeƱo
  • 2 T diced tomatoes
  • 1/2 t salt
  • 1/3 c chopped fresh cilantro
Directions - 
- Cut open avocados, remove pits with a spoon, scoop fruit out into bowl
- Mash the avocados with a fork, or potato masher (the latter works a little bit better in my opinion)
-Once you have the consistency you desire (I like mine slightly chunky), add the rest of your ingredients and stir

We ate ours on top of tacos that I made with shredded chicken, corn, and white beans.
(I may have also consumed a whole bunch more with chips after the tacos - What?  I like shiny hair :) )

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Wednesday, April 25, 2012

lists and honey glazed salmon

Things have been more than a little hectic in these parts lately.  The semester is finishing up in the next few weeks which mean finals are approaching.  #yikesbikes  Also, if you haven't noticed, I'm planning a wedding.  A wedding that is taking place in a month!  OHMYGOSH!  I am loving all of these last minute little details.  I think it's the little things that make your big day special and memorable.
With the forever growing list of things to do, I've started organizing my lists a little differently.  I learned this technique a few years ago and it really is a great way to go from a super long daunting list to something mor manageable.  Lists can be scary, and sometimes it's hard to even know where to start.  This type of list takes a little more time to write up front, but saves lots of time and headaches in the end. 

First, make your big long scary list of things to do.

Next, go through each item and assign it to one of the following categories:

-Urgent, important: These are things that need to get done as soon as possible, and that are very important to complete.  e.g. Finish my final paper that is due tomorrow for my class
-Urgent, not important: These are things that you need to get done right away, but are not as critically important.  This category is a little hairy, but use your best judgement. e.g. Take a shower, this is something that should probably be done sooner rather than later, but I'm not going to die if I don't do it.  Nothing a little dry shampoo and lotion can't fix. (kidding, kind of)
-Not urgent, important: These are things that don't need to happen immediately, but it is important that they get done at some point.  e.g. find songs to play during dinner at the wedding, we have some time on this one, but it needs to get done eventually
-Not urgent, not important: These are things that you do not need to do right away, and that you really don't need to do.  Think of this as more of the "want" category, or "it would be nice if..."  e.g find a new travel coffee mug, the one I have now is fine, it just doesn't keep my coffee hot for very long...

Now that you've separated everything into categories you have a better organized list of things to do.  Start with urgent, important items and work your way down to the not urgent, not important things.  The whole process forces you to stop and think about each "to do" a little bit and decide how essential it is to get it done. 

Another tip, if you have small "urgent, importants" I like to do those before the larger things.  It feels good to get things crossed off the list and makes me feel like I'm getting things accomplished.

Enough boring talk... time for a recipe. I made this salmon Sunday night for dinner and it was killer.  I followed Jessica's recipe exactly and served it aside some whole wheat cous cous and steamed broccoli and zucchini to round out the meal.  Head on over to How Sweet Eats to get the recipe!
Question of the day -

What's your best tip for staying organized?

Tuesday, April 24, 2012

as of late

Yesterday I found out some great news.  The wonderful Katja from Katja's Kitchen nominated my little blog for the Versatile Blogger award.
I feel so incredibly honored that Katja, along with all of you, have enjoyed reading my blog so much.  I have been reading blogs regularly for the past 2-3 years and a few months ago finally got the courage up to put myself out there and share my own ideas.  I'm amazed just how open and friendly every one in the blogging community is and how much I have been welcomed with open arms.  I get really excited brainstorming ideas for recipes.  Most of them have come to me while either lying in bed at night, taking a shower, going for a run, or commuting to school.  (Notice I said, commuting to school.  Not, while in class ;) ).  

So the rules of this award are just that I have to pass this on to 15 other bloggers who I have recently discovered or follow regularly.  This is really hard since I have so many favorites.  Some of these are really well established blogs, and some are new, but here are a few that I can't get enough of.
  • Love the Grows  - This is a really cute blog filled with tons of wonderful recipes, sweet stories, and beautiful recipe cards that you can download.
  • This That and the Other Thang - Wendi is possibly the sweetest girl ever.  Her blog is fun, bright, and always brings a smile to my face.
  • Oishii Treats - Neshanne's blog is full of tasty vegetarian dishes, and some kick butt cupcakes.
  • Eat Live Run - Jenna's blog is one of the first ones I started reading, and I'm pretty sure I've read it every day since.  All of her posts are full of gorgeous pictures and tasty recipes.
  • Oh She Glows - This is the first blog that I ever read.  Angela is truly an inspiration.  I'm fairly positive I read every single one of her posts in 3 night span.  She is also the genius behind green monsters, and the person who introduced me to ch-ch-chia seeds.
  • PB Fingers - Julie is seriously the cutest person ever.  Her blog is so fun to read.  She has great fitness, fashion and food posts.  Must read.
  • Clean Eating Chelsey - Chelsey's blog is full of mouth watering vegetarian recipes and funny stories.  
  • How Sweet Eats - The best way to start my day, every day.  Jessica is hilarious and her recipes make me drool all over my computer.
  • Peas and Thank You - Mama Pea is a pure genius.  She has a way with words that makes me grin from ear to ear.  It doesn't hurt that her recipes are amazing and she's got the two cutest little girls in the world.
  • Life of Blyss - I love her workouts and fun personality.  
  • Tina Reale - This woman is so sweet and encouraging.  Her posts are full of truth, love, and kick booty workouts.
  • Fitting It All In - Clare is such a real, honest person.  I love how much she shares about her workout experiences, and her daily fashion posts.
  • It's Not Just About The Recipe - Stephanie is one of those people who reached out to me right away when I started my blog.  She is so sweet and encourages me more than she knows with her comments.  I'm pretty sure we are mind twins, we tend to post the same types of foods at the same time!
  • Green Wedding Shoes - When I'm not thinking about school, cooking, baking, or working out, I'm planning a wedding.  This blog has some of the best ideas that I've pulled a lot of inspiration for.
  • The Small Things Blog - Kate is a gorgeous woman who shares her hair, beauty and fashion advice.  Her tutorial videos are great too!
And there we have it.  Just a few people that I have in my reader and follow daily.  Some old, some new, but all equally great.  
For the second part of this I have to share 7 things about myself.
1.  I might have a small addiction to watching trashy tv shows (Dance Moms, Real Housewives, Toddlers and Tiaras, and My Big Fat Gypsy Wedding to name a few).  Some times I just need some mindless entertainment.  Sorry, not sorry.
2.  My wedding planning is currently taking over my living room.  There are half done craft projects everywhere.
3.  I'm addicted to Etsy.  The people on here are so talented and I could look at all of the little shops for hours on end.  I'm currently debating buying these.    
4.  I am studying to be an audiologist.  For as long as I can remember I have loved ears.  No, that's not weird.  I love my grad program, and being in clinic all the time.  (please wear ear plugs, thank you)
5. We are attempting our own little vegetable garden this year.  I don't have the best green thumb, but Josh is pretty good so maybe we have a little hope.
6.  My favorite breakfast in undergrad was going to the cafeteria and making homemade waffles that were Wisconsin Badger themed.  I would cover them in peanut butter and drench them in maple syrup.  Those were the days.
7.  I have on sister who lives very far away from me and who I miss more than life itself.  I can't wait to see her in a few short weeks for the wedding!
circa 1995 - check out those outfits

Sunday, April 22, 2012

No Yeast Banana Cinnamon Rolls

This morning when I woke up I knew that I wanted cinnamon rolls.  I'm often pretty indecisive when it comes to meals, but not today.  Unfortunately for me, I did not have time to knead the dough, wait for it to rise, punch it down, wait again, roll it out, bake it...  We would be having cinnamon rolls for dinner at that rate.

Lucky for me, I found this recipe last week and decided it would be the perfect opportunity to give the technique a try.  I didn't want to follow the recipe exactly because I also had a craving for bananas (side note - running makes me crave bananas, extra potassium...)  So I adapted the recipe to include bananas, crossed my fingers, and it worked!

They turned out perfect.  Doughy, full of cinnamon and brown sugar, with just a little hint of banana.  I may never bake them with yeast again!

No Yeast Banana Cinnamon Rolls
(adapted from Krissy's Creations) makes 8 cinnamon rolls

Ingredients - 

  • 2 2/3 c all purpose flour
  • 2 T sugar
  • 1 1/4 t baking powder
  • 1/2 t baking soda
  • 1/4 t sea salt
  • 4 T melted butter
  • 1 1/2 mashed bananas (a little over a cup)
  • 1 c milk
  • 3 T brown sugar
  • 1 T cinnamon
  • 2 T melted butter
(for the glaze)
  • 1 1/4 c powdered sugar
  • 1/3 c brown sugar
  • 3 T softened butter
  • 1 1/2 T milk
  • 1 t vanilla
Directions - 
-Preheat oven to 425 degrees
-Mix together dry ingredients (through salt) in bowl of stand mixer
-Switch to dough hook attachment, add bananas, milk and 4 T melted butter
-Mix on low for 2-3 minutes until a ball of dough has formed and it is clearing the sides of the mixer
-If it is too wet, add additional flour 1 T at a time until you get the right consistency 
it should look something like this
-Sprinkle flour on a clean counter and roll your dough out into a rectangle, 1/4" thick
-Spread 2 T melted butter over dough
-Sprinkle with cinnamon and brown sugar
-Starting on one of the short ends, roll the dough up tightly
-Use a sharp knife to slice the log into 8 rolls, you want to use a sawing motion and cut gently so you don't smoosh it down
-Place on a parchment lined cookie sheet
-Bake 10-12 minutes until they just start to get golden on the outside
-While you're waiting you can either a. clean up your mess
or b. make some coffee  (B wins, duh!)
-After rolls are done, take them out from the oven 
-Combine all glaze ingredients in a bowl using a fork or knife - nothing fancy here
-Drizzle over cinnamon rolls when they are almost all the way cooled (otherwise it will just melt right off)
Breakfast is served.  Perfect cinnamon rolls in under an hour.  And nobody will be able to tell the difference!!!!
And if you're anything like me, you save your middle for last.  It's the best part!

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Saturday, April 21, 2012

Chickpea Shawarma Salad

I made you some shawarma.  Every time I think that word I say it really slow in my head, "sha-war-ma".  It sounds so silly.  But it sure is delicious.  I really wanted to make this curry-filled chicken dish this week, there was just 1 problem.  No chicken.

Chicken is a special thing in our house.  I tend to eat a mostly vegetarian diet for health reasons, ethical reasons, and money reasons.  When I do buy meat, I buy good organic, free range, hormone free stuff.  I have no desire to fill my body with chemicals if I have the choice.  This week, "happy chicken" was definitely not on sale.  In fact, it was $10 a pound!  That's crazy talk.

Fortunately for me, the canned beans are located close to the meat department.  And it was in that aisle that this dinner was born.  I promise you we did not miss the chicken one bit.  Plus, chickpeas were on sale for $0.89 a can!  That's a savings of $9.11!!!!  Winner winner chickpea dinner.

Chickpea Shawarma Salad

Ingredients -

(for the shawarma)

  • 1 can chickpeas, rinsed and drained
  • 1 t yellow curry powder
  • 2 t evoo
  • 3/4 t salt
  • 2 T lemon juice
  • 1/2 t garlic powder
  • 2 t minced garlic
(for the cucumber sauce)

  • 1 container plain greek yogurt
  • 3 cloves garlic
  • 1/3 cucumber
  • 1/4 t salt
(other ingredients)

  • fresh spinach
  • cherry tomatoes
  • cucumber
  • feta cheese
  • pita bread
  • fresh cilantro (optional)
Directions - 
-Pour shawarma ingredients into a medium sized bowl
-Let sit 20 minutes-1 hour marinading
-Put ingredients for cucumber sauce into a blender or food processor
-Blend on high until everything is combined
-Spray a large skillet with cooking spray over medium-high heat
-Add marinaded chickpeas and sauce to skillet
-Cook 10 minutes, stirring often
-Lower heat to low, cover, cook 5 more minutes until sauce is somewhat thickened
-Toast your pitas, and cut into triangles
-Assemble the salad with your spinach, tomatoes, and cucumbers (bite sized pieces)
-Pour chickpeas over salad, then spoon cucumber sauce over top
-Sprinkle with feta cheese and cilantro
-Serve with pita triangles
This dinner was so good that I'm pretty sure even the biggest meat eaters would love it.  The flavors are incredible, it's easy, cheap and healthy.  This is definitely getting added to the "make again asap" list!

Question of the day -

What are your opinions on meatless dinners?  Is there anything in particular you would like for me to try to make on here?

What's Annie Making?: April 2012

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