Kosher Shrimp & Grits

Written by chanie on July 19th, 2017

Before you go ahead and close your browser, no you did not make your way onto a treif blog, everything on here is still kosher! I can’t get over how real those shrimp look, can you?

So to be honest, I’m not really one for kosherizing treif dishes. Like I don’t do cheeseburgers with fake cheese or buttermilk fried chicken with soy milk. It’s just not my thing. But when I saw a package of grits at Shoprite last week, I just had to buy it. I’m a big fan of farina (the wheat version of grits, which are made from corn) and I love all things corn, so I was intrigued. I also mistakenly bought a package of mock shrimp instead of mock crab (we are obsessed with this kani salad in this house) so that’s how this kosher version of shrimp and grits came to be.

Now shrimp and grits is real Southern comfort food, and definitely more of a winter dish than a summer one – so I incorporated some fresh corn and a basil pistou to cut through the heaviness and lighten things up. A squeeze of lime in the creamy cheddar grits also goes a long way.

So, for an anti-tofu, real-food person, I have to be honest and say that the shrimp tasted amazing, but was definitely on the rubbery side. When I made this in my Instagram story, many readers suggested butterflying the shrimp by cutting it in half lengthwise, so I’ve made that suggestion below. But honestly, when I make this again, I’m just going to use kani (mock crab) since we are huge fans of that in this house (and ironically one of my readers messaged me that her dad, who is not religious, ate kani at her house and said it tasted just like shrimp!).

I’m stoked that I managed to plate this up all pretty for a blog post for you guys, its been great having a break, but I’ve missed posting!

 

Other Fish Dishes:

kani salad
spicy tuna melt twice baked potatoes
tuna pasta salad
fish tacos

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Asian Lettuce Wraps

Written by chanie on June 29th, 2017

Summer has officially begun! Last week, we made the 3  hour trek to the Catskills in Upstate New York where we spend our summer. I’m more of a city gal myself, but the city heat is unbearable, so I welcome the cool mountain air, rolling hills, grass and trees (something we majorly lack in Brooklyn)! The ten weeks we spend here fill my kids with vitality like a tank fills with gas. The long summer days spent carefree in the the outdoors are life’s best medicine, and I’m so thankful I get to give it to them.

As for me, some of my best memories are the ones I spent in the bungalow colony as a child. I love waking up to the smell of the mountains, and when I sit outside sipping my coffee and listening to the birds sing their song, it’s like pure heaven. But I can do without the endless laundry (they change like four times a day!), constant meals (all the swimming and biking makes them ravenous), and not seeing my husband the whole week (someone’s got to pay for all the food and laundry detergent we go through lol!).

I’m not really sure how much I’ll be able to keep up my blogging from here. I didn’t bring any props with me and I’m keeping things simple in the kitchen. But I did bring my camera and I loved the challenge of putting together a summer recipe without all of my fancy ingredients and food styling stuff. It’s also a learning experience working with different natural light, so I was happy to prepare these simple summer wraps and blog about them. Otherwise, I’ll be keeping things light around here, and probably blogging a lot less than usual. But I hope you’ll all be taking a break too!

Wishing you a light, healthy and refreshing summer!


Related Recipes:

quinoa pad thai
curried chicken lettuce wraps

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Tahini Frappuccino

Written by chanie on June 15th, 2017

Living in New York, I feel like we spend all winter counting down the weeks till summer. The bone-chilling days seem to stretch on way past their intended season, and by the time the spring comes, we’re ready to rid our closets of all those layers. Except when spring comes, it’s not quite warm enough to do that. So we spend the season wearing our summer clothes, shivering in the chilly mornings, and then again in the almost-winter-again evenings. By the time summer comes, we’re so happy to let the hot sun warm our bones – for a day. Or two. And then we’re kvetching again, wishing winter would come cool us off!

OK maybe it’s not all New Yorkers, but it’s definitely ME. I cannot tolerate the heat. This week of 90+ degrees has been torture for me – I thought I’d melt onto the sidewalk! My only reprieve from the torturous weather is a giant cup of iced coffee. Iced coffee literally saves my sanity all summer long and it’s not even about the caffeine – I only drink decaf!

My biggest obstacle in my iced coffee making is the sweetener (and the fact that I suck at making coffee, but that’s another story!). I obviously don’t want to sweeten it with real sugar, ‘cuz calories :) And I don’t like using Splenda, because, chemicals. I’m not a fan of the natural stuff like Stevia, and I recently gave Monk fruit sugar a try, but also, gross. So what’s left?

When I did my Whole30 a while back (actually it was three rounds so make that Whole90), I used to sweeten my coffee with a single medjool date. I’d add coffee ice cubes, so they wouldn’t water my coffee down, and creamy full fat coconut milk because the cleanse is dairy-free (otherwise I’m all for half and half!). It was some of the best coffee I’ve ever had and it was Paleo approved.

My date-sweetened coffee got me thinking of how I could turn my favorite summer drink into a healthy frappuccino and of course I went in the tahini direction. I love using tahini in sweet applications – with the addition of silan, cinnamon and vanilla, it tastes like halva without all the added sugar. The result is a smooth and creamy coffee shake that’s refreshing and oh. so. delicious. Perfect for every season – but especially summer.

Stay cool out there!

Related Recipes:

tahini date smoothie
banana date milk & honey smoothie

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Mongolian Beef

Written by chanie on June 8th, 2017

It’s been hard getting back into the blogging groove lately. I surprised myself when I kept things going so consistently ever since baby #5 came last July, but those days of sleeping babies are long gone, and my little rascal is crawling around putting every last tiny speck and crumb into her mouth.


I also lost my cleaning help (of 6 years!)  recently, which any mom knows is the single most important thing to help us keep our sanity. I mean, who do you think did the dishes after every cookfest I had in the kitchen? I mean, I love to cook, but I don’t love to clean up after myself. ;) Yes, my friends. That is my dirty little secret.

People always ask me, “How do you do what you do?” and the truth is, I’d never be able to do it without help! I always say – somethings got to give. Having five kids is a full time job in and of itself, so how I manage recipe testing, blogging, cooking classes and photography work boils down to this – I can’t do it all. I’m not very active in the gazillion whatsapp groups I belong to. I went off Facebook. I cut down on volunteer work (and send a donation instead!) and I have, ahem – had, cleaning help.

Luckily, this recipe was photographed and tested months ago, and I love saving things like these in the archives for those stressful times when I don’t have time to work on new recipes. I had made it for dinner one night and it came together super fast with little fuss. Who doesn’t love recipes like that?!

With summer coming and school coming to an end, we all need those quick and easy stir fries that we can throw together at the last minute. I hope you all enjoy this one as much as we did!

Related Recipes:

pepper steak with plum sauce
soy and ginger glazed sugar snap peas

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Unicorn Cheesecake Mousse

Written by chanie on May 25th, 2017

CAN’T STOP, WON’T STOP. That’s my motto this holiday season! When the internet went gaga over Starbuck’s unicorn frappuccino recently, I knew I had to get in on the unicorn fun – and here. it. is. Feast your eyes on this strawberry cheesecake mousse with a swirl of sour icing – so much yassssss!

To be honest, I haven’t actually tried the unicorn frap, but I watched as my fellow foodies and blogger friends scrambled to get to their nearest Starbucks for a taste. Most of them found the drink underwhelming – but the general consensus was that the elements of sweet and sour were a cool combo for a shake. And I couldn’t agree more!

Figuring out what to use for the sour element in these was the biggest challenge. At first, I wanted to keep things natural, so I tried fresh blueberries and sour cream – too watery and not sour enough. Plus the blueberries were purple and not blue. Then I headed to Target for some freeze dried blueberries, but that worked out purple too. I finally decided to nix the healthy aspect, since this is an indulgent cheesecake mousse after all (and a little blue food coloring won’t kill anyone either) and went the route of white chocolate (a la the original Starbucks version, which was a white chocolate mocha sauce). But that was a mess. G-d was that a mess.

So, many tries later, I finally hit the nail on the head using my friend Shushy’s suggestion  (check her out @cookinginheelss!) of a thick icing made with powdered sugar. It was the perfect consistency for my sour swirl – made using citric acid, aka sour salt, that gives the icing that special pucker.

I’m super proud of these cuties and I think you will be too if you choose to serve them for dessert this Shavuos holiday! Just hush hush on the secret sour sauce and let your guests be surprised when they take their first bite. Serve with a side of fresh berries for a light and healthy(er than cheesecake) dessert!

Related Recipes:

rosewater cheesecake mousse parfaits
easy no-bake cheesecake
Torah cannoli

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Lasagna Roll-Up Blintzes

Written by chanie on May 18th, 2017

I don’t know about you, but the only thing that keeps me from making blintzes on Shavuot is the crepe-making. The rest of the process is fairly easy, and I don’t even mind the light frying. But those crepes, man they are hard to nail down.

My mom so hates the crepe-making process that she’s been ordering her crepes ready-made from a caterer for years. Instead, she puts her attention on delicious homemade fillings – creamy potato with deeply caramelized onions and sweet cheese with an apricot sauce for dipping. I’m getting hungry just thinking about it!


I’m all for finding the easier way around dishes and this lasagna roll-up blintz hack is no exception! I love me some savory lasagna roll-ups, filled with spinach-flecked creamy ricotta and oozing with cheesy mozzarella, so why not go sweet, amIright? Dredging the sweet-filled pasta sheets in Corn Flake crumbs and frying them really takes it over the top, and I’m one happy crepe-free Momma.

What I really love about these decadent Shavuot treats is that they truly resemble blintzes, and if you want to stay away from the fryer, just go ahead and serve them up without the breading. You can add some chopped nuts for texture, and of course the requisite sour cream and strawberry sauce. Cuz blintzes without sour cream are a sad, sad thing.

Those of you that have been following my diet journey over on Instagram know that I’ve been staying away from delicious carby treats like these for the past couple of weeks, so I had to send them straight out of the house as soon as I was done making them. I don’t have the willpower to say no to a piping hot plate of sweet, crunchy, cheesy pasta rolls, do you? If your answer is yes, please tell me your secret ‘cuz I’m gonna need it come the cheesecake holiday.

We’re pretty low key when it comes to dairy in my house – I only serve it once a week, and it’s usually pizza, mac ‘n cheese or baked ziti. But Shavuot? Shavuot is the time for cheesy French onion soup, 4-cheese lasagna, a cheese board of your dreams, and of course plenty of cheesecake and blintzes. And lets not forget the dairy ice cream either. G-d help me survive this decadent holiday!

I’m thinking I’ll have to have some healthy options at the table too. Like these cheesy stuffed mini peppers, this three-cheese rollatini rose pie, the most amazing kid-friendly broccoli poppers, plus these cutesy roasted eggplant parmesan starters.

Now if we’re talking the decadent part of the meal, obv we have these insane roll-ups, which will be an amazing side to my caramelized peach and gouda quesadillas and 3-cheese broccoli pull-apart buns for the kids.  I’m thinking goat cheese ice cream for dessert, and definitely my Torah cannoli, ‘cuz that’s what the holiday is all about – stuffing our face with cheese and the giving of the Torah.

I’m pretty stoked to be hosting my mom for the first time this year – she’s usually the one who hosts, so I better get my menu planned. Stay tuned, I’ll share it with you soon. In the meantime, have a look at the Index for some inspiration!

Lets get rollin’!

Related Recipes:

spinach lasagna roll-ups
how to build a crepe bar
parmesan lasagna chips with pizza hummus
quick and easy lasagna

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Portobello Tuna Melts

Written by chanie on May 8th, 2017


Bedtime. Every mom knows hows loaded that word can be. Especially when I’ve got five kids under ten to tuck in at night. Why won’t kids just go to bed? Aren’t they tired?

It was 10:00 last night and the house was quiet. I sat on the couch and took a deep breath. Finally, some peace. I could put my feet up and relax. So I did what any mommy blogger would do…I went live on Instagram. 2 minutes in, and only 30 minutes after finally falling asleep, my baby wakes up. Because I’m a mom. And that’s just how life works. So I struggle though this “show” of sorts, taking 1 minute commercial breaks to calm my kid and get her latched without showing 6000 people more than they came for. That’s mommy blogger life right there.

Did I mention my husband was away since Friday and I’ve been holding down the fort through the longest Shabbos on planet earth all on my own? Yes. Life with kids and a CEO husband is hard. So when said husband encouraged me to go on a health and wellness retreat last week, I frantically packed my bags before he could change his mind and ran out the door (OK that’s not true, I argued with him about the what, when, where for each kid and the logistics of leaving a 9 month old who’s nursing around the clock and a 9 year old who’s out of school for weeks because her teachers are on a strike that seems like it will never end. And then I sorted and arranged three days worth of clothes for each kid, prepared a menu for the week, filled the house with all the essentials, restocked prescriptions for everyone who needed and bought enough bottles and pacifiers and sippy cups to last us for months. Then I broke down and cried about leaving my kids. And then I picked myself up and walked out the door).

I went live last night to discuss this wellness retreat because I got so many messages while I was away asking me about it. But Instagram Live is just that – live – and there is so much going on, so many comments and questions happening while my baby is kvetching and I just don’t know if I got the whole picture across. So I decided to write about it. That’s the good thing about having a blog.

The health and wellness retreat was put together by Beth Warren, a local Brooklyn nutritionist and author of “Living a Real Life with Real Food” with a focus on eating healthy, exercise and practicing self-care. Just what I needed. There were about 15 of us in total and we carpooled to our destination in Lenox, MA, also known as The Berkshires. We arrived at Brook Farm Inn, a Victorian home in a historic town with lush trees and quaint shops. We carried our luggage to our rooms (no elevator in this vintage Inn!) and gathered for lunch of a make-your-own-salad bar. Then we went off for a tour of Ventfort Hall – a historic mansion that was built by Sarah Morgan, daughter of J.P. Morgan, the famous banker. Next up was a circuit training workout at Lenox Fit, a snack of crudites with homemade hummus, and finally, a much-needed 15-minute massage back at the inn. Still in our exercise gear, we stretched and centered ourselves with a yoga class and then showered for dinner in pajamas (my fave!). Dinner was a light and healthy baked salmon with black rice, green beans and vegetable soup. We finished off the day with a talk on self-care and a quick demo on stuffed dates for an after-dinner snack. Lights out!

The next day, we woke up early, donned our exercise gear and headed to Kripalu, a yoga school and center for health, just a few minutes away from the Inn. The place was huge, with 4 floors and lush grounds in a beautiful mountain setting. Kripalu is a serious yoga retreat with ongoing classes, hiking trails, a spa and more. With our daily passes, we were free to explore the programs of our choice (I chose a deep-tissue massage ‘cuz G-d knows I’m no yogi!) and then meet up mid-day for lunch and a hike. Salads of black bean burgers were prepped for us , so we lunched on the patio with breathtaking views and then geared up for a hike around the property. After we headed back, we had a bit more time at Kripalu, but I went to explore Tanglewood, a popular Berkshires attraction, with some of the ladies. Tanglewood is a summer hot-spot with music festivals and shopping, so we walked around the mostly-empty town, exploring some of the fun shops around. After making a few purchases (we’re ladies after all!), we headed back to the Inn for a post-hike yoga class and dinner of chicken breast, roasted vegetables and sweet potato fries. Beth gave us an inspiring nutrition talk during dinner and we finished off the long day with a healthy baking class and an essential oil workshop. Lights out!

Wednesday morning we wrapped up with another yoga class and a breakfast parfait bar filled with oatmeal, chia seed pudding, yogurt, fruit and toppings. We packed up some leftovers for lunch and we were off. Two jam-packed days behind us, and lots of fuel to get back to the daily grind of mommyhood.

I, for one, needed that fuel. I spent the early morning hours whispering into the phone as my son back home was having an asthma attack. I was helpless and worried and felt so. far. away. I had my mom go to the house to take care of the kids while my husband rushed to the hospital in an ambulance. It was every mother’s worst nightmare, being away during such an emergency, but my husband reassured me over and over that everything was ok, and skyped me from the hospital so I could see for myself. My three-year-old spent the next two days in the pediatric ICU and I was so thankful that I had taken that break so I could be there for him, my family, and myself, fully and healthy.

Going away was hard (I had to pump every four hours on the road!) but it’s something I didn’t even know I needed. Taking a break from the daily grind allows you to regroup, center yourself and feed your soul. It reminded me that being a mom doesn’t just mean taking care of others, it means taking care of myself – and that neglecting that need doesn’t make me a martyr, it makes me resentful and unhappy. I needed that wake-up call because every day is a nonstop marathon of giving and feeding and caring for others and it’s hard. G-d is it hard. And every night as I go to bed, I pray that tomorrow will be easier – but it’s not. Because being a mom is a full time job that will never end. Going away inspired me to learn to take time for myself – to nourish my body with healthy food and exercise and nourish my soul with a good book and a relaxing massage. I’m making an effort to do something for me, and it’s ok.

The retreat really gave me the kickstart I needed to start eating healthy again. It’s been a while. I’ve put on a whopping 20 lbs. since I had my baby, 9 months ago (I always put on weight when I nurse!) and it’s finally time to lose it the healthy way – with diet and exercise. I whipped up these delicious low-carb portobello tuna melts last week, and I’m super excited to share the recipe with you! Eating healthy doesn’t have to be about deprivation, especially when you get creative and think outside the box.

This one is for all the Mom’s out there. I salute you.


This post was sponsored by Natural & Kosher Cheese. Follow them on FacebookTwitter, Pinterest, Instagram, YouTube, Google+, or via their Blog

Related Recipes:

spicy tuna melt twice baked potatoes
baked portobello shakshuka
portobello pizza

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Refried Bean Tacos

Written by chanie on April 27th, 2017

I hope you all had an amazing Passover, it feels like a lifetime ago! We spent the holiday in New Hampshire at the Arlington Hotel Passover Program. It was a wonderful experience filled with new friends, great food and beautiful scenery. I had never been to New Hampshire before and the small towns filled with old barns, antiques and mountainous terrain were a feast for the eyes. It was truly a magical holiday.


What was not truly magical was the number on the scale I saw when I got back! With three (sometimes four!) heavy meals a day and a 24 hour tea-room, Passover programs are not exactly figure friendly. Add matzo to that and you’ve got a recipe for weight gain [see what I did there? ;)].

Even more than the weight though, I just felt heavy and gross from eating so much animal protein. When you have Chateaubriand for dinner one night, rack of veal for the next, and brisket the next, it definitely catches up with you! So I decided to take a little break from all that and go vegetarian – if only for one week. It’s not really sustainable longer because with five little mouths to feed, I definitely need to be able to serve chicken and meat.

Our week of vegetarian fare has almost come to an end. I cooked up some of these amazing refried bean tacos, Moroccan salmon, Asian lettuce cups made from soy beef crumbles, lentil bolognese, spinach spaghetti lasagna and tonight we’re having falafel. I have to admit that all these legume-based recipes are still quite heavy and I can honestly say ready for a good steak! So it’s back to regular programming next week!

In the meantime, these refried bean tacos were definitely our favorite from our vegetarian week, I hope you enjoy them as much as we did!

Related Recipes:

fish tacos
taco skillet
chicken fajita tacos
plantain tacos

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Fruit Salad with Basil Honey Lime Dressing

Written by chanie on April 6th, 2017

To me, Passover, or Pesach, is all about tradition. I’ve never actually hosted the holiday in my own home, but I imagine that when I do, I’ll be making the same foods that my mother always made.

I have fond memories of my mom’s Passover ratatouille, mock chopped liver, beet salad and cucumber salad all neatly arranged in mason jars on the door of the fridge. She always had big jars of simple syrup on the counter, which she used to sweeten everything from chicken to fish, meat and nuts. Towards the second days, when everyone had enough of the heavy meals, she always diced up a huge fruit salad in our giant glass Pyrex. And she doused it in simple syrup too.

The simple syrup didn’t bother me, especially as a kid, because the fruit tasted like candy. But the bananas – they just threw the whole thing off. There were never really rules to what went into the fruit salad – it was whatever was leftover around the house – but it almost always had melon, kiwi, sliced bananas, walnuts, and oranges.

There was always someone in the house who was walking around scratching their throat from one of the fruits – probably the kiwi, and I think it was usually my sister. But we still ate it – bananas, oranges and all – and we sipped up all those sweet drippings from the bottom of the bowl like they were liquid gold. Ah, Passover memories.

While everyone is busy preparing trays of Passover brownies, whipping up macaroons and fancy pavlovas – I’m here to say that it’s really just about the tradition. Fruit salad may be simple, but it’s what my Momma always made, and it’s what I plan to make when I host Passover in my home in the coming years.

For this recipe, I’ve done away with all the fruits that I picked out of my Mom’s fruit salad – the awful mushy bananas, pithy oranges, and throat-scratching kiwi’s. Instead, I used melons, mangos, plums and nectarines, and fancied it up with a basil honey lime dressing (a lot healthier and more flavorful than the simple syrup of my youth!). Feel free to adjust this salad to your liking – adding more lime juice for extra tartness, or more honey for extra sweetness. And you can also switch up the herbs with some fresh mint instead of basil, if you so desire. Don’t forget to top it off with some coconut whipped cream and chopped nuts to really take it over the top!

Wishing you and your loved ones a very fruitful and happy Passover!

Other Passover Desserts:

marzipan apple crisp
nutella banana ice cream
chocolate ganache tart with macaroon crust
raspberry sorbet

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Perfect for Pesach Giveaway

Written by chanie on March 30th, 2017

It’s different when you see a new cookbook on the shelf that you’ve never heard of before, and when you’ve actually watch that baby grow from the very beginning. You see, Naomi Nachman is a good friend, and with her friendly and outgoing personality, anyone that meets her (or follows her on social media @naominachman!) feels the same. Naomi has been open about her cookbook journey from the very beginning, and I was lucky enough to spend a day getting a behind-the-scenes look at some of the recipe development and food photography for this book. I even tested some of the recipes in the book for Naomi so it’s hard to be biased! Instead, I’m just going to share about the book, rather than reviewing it, because honestly, do you all really need my critique here?

Perfect for Pesach is exactly what it sounds like – perfect. for. Pesach. Except the recipes really work for all year round – especially for those of us who eat mostly gluten free, and those who honor strict Pesach customs that don’t allow us to use any store bought processed ingredients. I love that the book has a range of healthy and indulgent recipes, from how to make zoodles and cauliflower fried rice, to pastrami meatballs (recipe below) and fudgy chocolate bundt cake. Looking at the beautiful photography (thanks to the talented Miriam Pascal of overtimecook) it’s hard to believe that these recipes are truly kosher for Passover (hello lemon curd trifles)!

If you’re going to want to buy a Pesach cookbook, it should probably be from someone who spent two decades catering Pesach meals for clients with individual needs and requirements. Naomi shares make-ahead tips and well as freezer suggestions that are super helpful as well as cooks tip and year-round notes on most of the recipes. The cookbook has a really nice range of flavors – from Syrian inspired cauliflower crust lachmagine (you know I’m making that!) to Hawaiian poke (recipe below) and tequila lime chicken to herb crusted lamb shops. Of course you’ll also find traditional favorites like matbucha, salad nicoise, gravlax, Pesach cholent, chocolate mousse and so much more.

As for me, I’ve got the quinoa hummus, chimichurri coleslaw, maple glazed rack of ribs and frozen red wine strawberry mousse bookmarked.

Of course I’m giving away a copy of Perfect for Passover, so see the details below to enter!

As part of this Pesach giveaway, I’m also giving away a copy of Duby’s Pesach Lists which includes:

• Tips on making Pesach for the first time
• Cleaning checklists
• Shopping Lists
• Budgeting Tips
• Menu and calendar templates
• Last minute reminders
• Printable labels for your Passover cabinets
• Games / Activities / Discussion ideas to make your Seder more fun

You can read more about it on dubyspesachlists.com.

GIVEAWAY DETAILS:

To enter the giveaway to win a copy of Perfect for Pesach + a copy of Dobys Pesach Lists:

1. Leave a comment below letting me know your favorite Pesach dish.
2. For an extra entry, leave a comment on the giveaway post on Facebook or Instagram sharing what you love most about Pesach.

Giveaway is open to U.S. residents (for international entries, prize can only be shipped in the U.S.). Winner will be chosen at random at 10:00 AM EST on Monday, April 3rd, 2017.

SAMPLE RECIPES:

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