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Friday Recipe Exchange: Spices and Sauces

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I’m heading out for a much needed girls’ day out with LFern. But I didn’t want to leave you without a recipe exchange. I thought it would be fun to focus on one of JeffreyW’s specialties, he likes to make his own spice mixes and hot sauces. Tonight’s recipe exchange was inspired by his great post this week, Chinese Five Spice.

I was a believer in making my own spice mixes when I put together his Fajita Spice (recipe here), which is better than anything pre-made in the store.

He also loves to make hot sauces, recipes and photos here and here.

One of the most requested sauce recipes is a guest recipe from Down Under, Piri Piri (recipe here).

Not technically a spice, but JeffreyW made his own Garlic Breadcrumbs this week, (click here).

What’s on your plate for the weekend? I’ll going to a few open houses and taking Bixby out to enjoy the predicted spring weather. Do you make any of your own spices mixes or sauces? Give us your favorite recipe.

I knew what tonight’s featured recipe would be as soon as I saw JefferyW’s beautiful photographs (top and below).

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Chinese Five Spice from his post:

I was browsing among various recipes for green beans and noticed a call for Chinese five spice in one of them and wondered if I had the ingredients to make my own.  Yes!  –  or at least close enough for my purposes.  I looked over several recipes and they all had the same ingredients with a few variations:  Star anise, fennel seeds, cinnamon, cloves, and peppercorns.  Some used Szechuan peppercorns and others called for the more familiar black peppercorns, one recipe used cassia bark in lieu of the cinnamon, there were differences in the ratios so I just eyeballed mine as I loaded them into my little spice grinder.  I ended up with about a quarter cup of some great smelling stuff.

Those are the Szechuan peppercorns between the cinnamon sticks.  They have an interesting effect in the mouth, some heat and a numbing sensation on the lips.  Another name for them is prickly ash seed.

After all of that, I used about a teaspoon of the spice powder in the soy sauce marinade of the chicken for the green bean dish pictured above.  That was a simple enough recipe, the most prep went into the sauce: 1/2 cup soy sauce, 1/2 cup chicken stock, a tablespoon of sesame oil, a tablespoon of ginger garlic paste, a tablespoon of honey, and a tablespoon of rice vinegar with a little corn starch to thicken it in the pan.  I steamed the beans for five minutes while the chicken was cooking then added them to the pan with the chicken and then poured in the sauce and cooked until it thickened, a few more minutes.

That’s if for this week. No Bixby update, but he’s doing great, each day he surprises me by what he learns and understands. My little black kitty, Missy has to have surgery next week, so good thoughts would be appreciated. Thanks and have a great weekend – TaMara

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Friday Recipe Exchange: A Little Irish In It

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March is winging by and bringing spring with it. We had a relatively mild winter, so I won’t complain, but still glad to see warm days, birds returning and crocus popping up. I’m hoping house hunting will also pick up. You know it’s slim pickings when your real estate agent calls to apologize there’s not more to offer.

Despite still having to cook in the postage stamp kitchen, I decided to try something new. I did some research on Irish Soda Bread. I never tried any before, because it always looks dry and then there are those pesky raisins. Raisins only belong in bread if there is a large helping of cinnamon/sugar swirl joining them. At least in my kitchen. But when I went looking for recipes, turns out that the raisin/caraway seed concoction is a strictly American invention.

I did find one that seemed to be more authentic and that’s what I went to bake. Before we get to the recipe, let me say this, I’m not sure this is one I would make again. I think I would rather just bake a nice batch of biscuits.  But if you need something to get you through a long, cold winter night, I guess I can see the appeal. Cheap enough to make, heavy enough to fend off starvation. Or as a friend quipped, “Heavy enough to be a weapon if you throw it.”

So why include it tonight? Because you should be unafraid in the kitchen. If a recipe fails or isn’t to your liking, all you’ve done is waste a few ingredients. But if you never try anything new, how will you ever discover that new family favorite? And besides, someone might like this one, even though I didn’t.

I think failure is just part of cooking. I’ve burnt the main course with guests waiting, forgot to add leavening to one cake, added too much leavening to another and my first attempt at corned beef turned out more like beef jerky. One time a friend and I almost set her house on fire trying to grill chicken. How about you, what’s your biggest kitchen disaster? Besides potentially drying out the corned beef, what’s on the menu for the weekend?

For tonight, how about I start out with some recipes that did work:

A bunch of different ways to make Corned Beef and Cabbage can be found here.

JeffreyW makes Guinness Irish Stew (pictured above), photos and recipe here.

Really good Biscuits to go with that stew can be found here.

For the pet lovers, I have three fun things for you: JeffreyW introduces us to the newest nursing home resident (scroll down), Zander poses pretty for me and finally a Bixby update where we tackle the troublesome teens (his look in the top photo is really all you need to know).

Tradional Irish Soda Bread

The featured recipe tonight is a more traditional Irish Soda Bread. This is a rustic loaf and can be baked in a loaf pan or as a rounded loaf in a cast iron skillet. The key is not to handle the dough a lot, once it forms into a ball, place it in the pan, cut a 1-inch deep X in the top (I did several) and bake. The more it’s handled, the tougher it becomes.

Irish Soda Bread

  • 1-3/4 cups all purpose flour
  • 1-3/4 cups whole wheat flour
  • 4 tbsp toasted wheat germ
  • 3 tbsp old-fashioned oats
  • 2 tbsp (packed) dark brown sugar
  • 1 tsp baking soda
  • 3/4 tsp salt
  • 8 tbsp buttermilk powder*
  • 2 tbsp chilled butter, cut into pieces
  • 2 cups water (add 1/2 cup at a time, using only what is needed)

loaf pan (I used mini pans), well buttered

Preheat oven to 425 degrees F

Whisk together the first 8 ingredients. Add butter and crumble together by hand until all the butter is incorporated. Add water in a bit at a time until it forms a soft dough that holds together. Mine took the full 2 cups. You can smooth it and then add to the loaf pan. I left mine a bit more rustic because I was afraid of over-handling it.

Cut 1-inch deep Xs in the top. This makes sure the dense dough cooks through.  Bake for about 35 to 40 minutes until a wooden skewer comes out clean.

This is a very moist, if heavy, loaf because of the buttermilk. You can do an all “white” loaf if desired, just substitute all-purpose flour for the whole wheat. I’d leave in the oats and wheat germ for added flavor.

*why buttermilk powder instead of buttermilk? – because you can keep it on hand and it doesn’t go bad (keep in the refrigerator). You can also make your own buttermilk by adding 1 tsp vinegar or lemon juice to a cup of milk.

That’s it for this week. Probably try for something very spring-like next week. Until then – TaMara

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Friday Recipe Exchange: A Little Bit of Everything

Oven potato chips

I debated about a recipe exchange this week, it’s been a busy, snowy week and I was contemplating curling up with a good book until spring. But then I made these great oven baked chips and thought, I must share.

There was lots of cooking this week, for a change, so the recipe exchange will be, as JefferyW often posts, be made up of tidbits.

Starting with a new chocolaty Nutella Brownie, recipe here, that also happens to be gluten-free.

JeffreyW made some great looking Buffalo Chicken, photos and recipe here.

Chuck roasts were on sale, so I made a Slow-Cooker Pot Roast, full dinner menu and recipes here.

And for the pet lovers, a really quick Bixby Update is here. To say he is trying my patience would be kind. Puppies.

What’s on your plate this weekend? We’re digging out from about 20 inches of snow, but the sun is shining, so that’s a plus. How about you?

Tonight’s featured recipe happened because I was at the store and grabbing a bag of frozen french fries (don’t judge) and saw they had bags of oven potato chips. I thought that sounded good and easy to make, so I passed the bag by and instead made my own.

They are similar to my Potato Wedges, but because they are sliced thinner, they are really crispy on the outside with a creamy center. I will be making them again. I used russets because that’s what I had on hand and it was snowing, so that’s what I used. I think they worked great for these.

Garlic and cayenne are optional, but don’t skimp on the salt and pepper. You can also use alternate spices or herbs, like rosemary, thyme, marjoram or parsley flakes. Maybe some chopped chives just before you take them out of the oven.

Oven Potato Chips

  • 2 to 4 large potatoes
  • light olive or vegetable oil
  • salt and pepper
  • garlic powder
  • cayenne pepper

baking sheet, mandoline or grater

Wash and scrub potatoes and slice into thick slices. Mix oil with salt, pepper, garlic powder and dash of cayenne pepper. Toss with potato slices and arrange on well oiled baking sheet.

Bake at 450 degrees, turn at about the 10 minute mark, or when browned on the bottom and continue to bake until nicely browned on the other side, approximately another 10 minutes. Watch carefully and remove any slices that are thinner and brown more quickly.

You can brush with more oil if needed as they bake. Serve piping hot.

I served these with my Cheese Stuffed Burgers and a side salad for a nice dinner.

That’s it for this week. Have a great weekend, hope everyone is dug out – TaMara

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Nutella Brownies

Nutella browniesSerendipity was afoot last week. I had read a recipe for Nutella flourless brownies and promptly went to the store to buy a jar and make them. Turns out, on that same day, the creator of Nutella died at 89.

The brownies are pretty good and one of those recipes that taste much better the next day. The process is very similar to my Chocolate Flourless Cake, recipe here.

I prefer the chocolate cake, but the Nutella brownies were a good second. If I make them again, I will add toasted hazelnut pieces (they should be chopped fine so they don’t all sink to the bottom of the batter).

Both recipes are super easy and a make for a very moist chocolate treat. And gluten-free as an added bonus.

Nutella Brownies

  • 4 large Eggs
  • 1-1/2 cups Nutella
  • Powdered Sugar for dusting

8×8 baking dish or springform pan, oiled and lined on the bottom with parchment cut to fit

Preheat oven to 350 degrees

Beat eggs on high for 5 to 7 minutes until they have tripled in size. Beat in Nutella on low until fully incorporated*. Pour into the baking dish. Tap the dish on the counter firmly to remove any bubbles and then bake for 30-35 minutes, until a wooden skewer inserted into the middle comes out with a just few crumbs, no batter. Mine actually took about 40 minutes, but I forgot to preheat.

Cool completely before dusting with powdered sugar, cutting and serving. I found it tasted best the next day. Also it freezes very well.

*some recipes call for you to microwave the nutella, but since the jar specifically says, DO NOT MICROWAVE, I just used a spatula to scoop out most of a 13 oz jar.

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Friday Recipe Exchange: Not Just For Mardi Gras

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We are prepping for the big storm (ok, not New England BIG, but looking at 8-16 inches of big wet flakes) and I almost forgot it was Friday. Since it was Fat Tuesday/Mardi Gras this week, that always puts me in the mood for some Louisiana-style recipes and a trip to Lucille’s restaurant for their beans and rice (and boy am I going to miss living within walking distance when I finally move – and I am so tired of house hunting).

When I can’t get there, I make my own Washday Beans and Rice, recipe and full dinner menu here.

A trip to New Orleans a few years ago gave me my first taste of authentic Beignets at Cafe Du Monde and Po’boys at Johnny’s, I liked the sandwiches so much, I hunted down some recipes, (click here).

Looking for something fancier? How about Trout Amandine with Creole Meuniere Sauce (recipe here).

What’s on your menu for the weekend? I’ll be scanning travel sites looking for somewhere warm to vacation!

Tonight’s featured recipe (pictured above) is from JeffreyW:

Shrimp and Andouille in a Creole Mustard Sauce

  • 1 pound uncooked peeled deveined large shrimp
  • 1 tablespoon Creole or Cajun seasoning (recipe below)
  • 2 tablespoons vegetable oil, divided
  • 1 pound andouille sausage, cut crosswise on diagonal into 3/4-inch-thick pieces
  • 1 large onion, halved, thinly sliced
  • 1 large red bell pepper, cut into 1/3-inch-wide strips
  • 1 tablespoon chopped fresh thyme
  • 1 cup low-salt chicken broth
  • 5 tablespoons Creole mustard
  • 2 teaspoons red wine vinegar
  • Salt and pepper to taste

Toss shrimp with Creole seasoning in medium bowl to coat. Heat 1 tablespoon oil in heavy large skillet over high heat. Add sausage pieces, cut side down. Cook until browned on both sides, about 5 minutes. Transfer sausage to bowl. Add shrimp to skillet; cook until browned and just opaque in center, about 3 minutes. Transfer to bowl with sausage. Add remaining 1 tablespoon oil, onion, bell pepper, and thyme to skillet. Sauté until vegetables are beginning to soften, about 5 minutes. Add broth, mustard, and vinegar. Stir until sauce thickens, about 2 minutes. Return sausage and shrimp to skillet. Simmer until heated through, stirring occasionally, about 1 minute. Season with salt and pepper.

Creole Seasoning

  • 1/3 Cup Paprika
  • 1/4 Cup Granulated Garlic
  • 4 Tbsp Onion Powder
  • 1/3 Cup Freshly Ground Black Pepper
  • 3 Tbsp White Pepper
  • 2 Tbsp Cayenne Pepper
  • 2 Tbsp Dried Thyme
  • 2 Tbsp Dried Basil
  • 1 Tbsp Dried Oregano

Combine all ingredients and place in an airtight container.

Makes about 10 oz.

Bixby hit 115 lbs this week and I’m thinking that raising a Great Dane puppy should be considered an Olympic sport. He exhausts me and then is so damn cute, I’m ready for another day of puppyhood. I’ll see if I can get him to do a diary update later this weekend. That’s it for this week.  Stay warm – TaMara

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Blueberry Coffee Cake

Blueberry Coffee CakeDid a little cleaning and cooking today. Recipe is here.

Should have a Bixby update today or tomorrow.

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Friday Recipe Exchange: Valentine’s Sweets

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I am not anti-Valentine’s Day, just don’t like all the expectations around it. In my mind, the best thing you can do is spend time in the kitchen together, followed by a movie or favorite show marathon. I’ve been wooed with the whole restaurant (crowded, rushed staff), flowers (overpriced), and chocolates (oh, who am I kidding, chocolate is never bad) and it was never as much fun as staying home and cooking something delicious.

Now don’t get me wrong – take me out for a hot air balloon ride, helicopter over the beach, or an impromptu night away, and I’m not going to complain and say, hey, let’s stay home instead. But most of the time, I’m good with some chocolate covered strawberries and a good grilled steak.

With that in mind, I’ve picked out some favorite sweet treats you can make and share:

JeffreyW and Mrs. J made an awesome batch of Chocolate Éclairs (pictured above), complete with slideshow (here) and video (here).

I love a good Molten Chocolate Cake, recipe here.

Quick, easy and cute, Peanut Butter Kiss Cookies are always a hit, recipe here.

I have a complete Valentine’s Dinner here, if you need ideas.

What’s on your plate for the weekend? How about Valentine’s Day, it’s a week off, but got any plans?

Tonight’s featured recipe is a foolproof and yummy cake that’s quick and easy – the perfect way to end a nice Valentine’s dinner:

Mocha Cake

This is a pudding cake – which is basically an extra-large lava cake.  And to make it even tastier, I substitute coffee for the boiling water.   It doesn’t get any simpler than this.

  • 1 cup flour
  • ¾ cup sugar
  • ¼ cup unsweetened cocoa
  • 2 tsp baking powder
  • ¼ tsp salt
  • ½ cup milk
  • 3 tbsp oil
  • 1 tsp vanilla

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  • 1/3 cup sugar
  • 2 tbsp unsweetened cocoa
  • 1 cup very hot coffee**
  • 8×8 inch baking dish, lightly oiled

Preheat oven to 350°

This is a pudding style cake, so you don’t want to over bake it. You’ll serve it warm and directly from the pan. When you cut into it, a thick, gooey chocolate center will be revealed.

From the top list: combine flour, sugar, cocoa, baking powder & salt. Combine milk, oil, & vanilla, mix well and add to flour mixture. Stir well. Pour batter into baking dish.

From the bottom list: combine sugar & cocoa and sprinkle over batter. Pour hot coffee over batter – DO NOT stir. Bake for 30 minutes or until center springs back when touched, do not over bake.

** for a stronger coffee flavor, double the ground coffee to water ratio when brewing, or use espresso.

That’s it for this week. I won’t be around next weekend, so no recipe exchange, so have a Happy Valentine’s Day. I’ll try and get a Bixby update over the weekend, he’s a little pill, really coming into his own strong personality. Did I mention, strong?  – TaMara

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Friday Recipe Exchange: Super Bowl Sunday Snacks

JeffreyW's Awesome Nachos

JeffreyW’s Awesome Nachos

I am still fighting this cold, I’m chasing after a 105 lb willful puppy,  I’m buried by mortgage paperwork, and suddenly it’s time for the Super Bowl and the recipe exchange. So I had no choice but to pull out a classic recipe exchange, my favorite snacks, tortilla pinwheels. From 2012:

It’s that time again.  Super Bowl Sunday, when you sit down to stuff your face with favorite snack foods, drink beer and watch the Super Bowl Commercials.  I think there is some football in there somewhere.

You can’t go wrong with nachos – easy and easy to pile high with your favorites ingredients.

Here’s rather healthy (?) version: Black Bean and Corn Nachos, recipe here.

JeffreyW gets a little more creative with his pizzas, here , herehere  and if you want to see them all, here (the man does love a good pizza).

And I think Chili is always a crowd-pleaser, so a variety can be found here.

And for the animal lovers, Bixby puts down his tug ball long enough to update on his life to date.

I’ll never turn down nachos, or pizza for that matter, but when I was thinking about favorite party foods, tortilla pinwheels came up pretty quickly.  So many things you can do with them. Four variations follow.

Now it’s your turn, what are you planning on making this Sunday and more importantly what beer are you serving?  Who has the best recipe for hot wings, a football must have food?

Tonight’s featured recipes, a variety of flavors, but don’t let that limit you:

Basic Tortilla Pinwheels

  • 1 (8 ounce) package whipped cream cheese
  • 10 (10 inch) flour tortillas
  • 1/2 cup green onions, chopped
  • 1/4 cup black olives, chopped (optional)
  • 3/4 cup chopped ham slices

You spread the ingredients on the tortillas, roll them up and slice them into 1 inch pinwheels. Couldn’t get much easier.

So how do we add some dazzle? Flavored tortillas and a variety of fillings.

Here are some ideas I had:

Jalapeño & Cilantro Tortillas and Black Bean Tortillas

  • Cream Cheese
  • Pickled jalapenos
  • Sliced green chilies
  • Turkey
  • Salsa
  • Black olives
  • Shredded cheddar cheese

Roasted Red Pepper Tortillas and Sun-dried Tomato & Basil Tortillas

  • Cream cheese mixed with crushed roasted garlic
  • Spinach
  • Pepperoni
  • Grated parmesan

Plain Tortillas and Whole Wheat Tortillas

  • Cream cheese
  • All-fruit style strawberry preserves
  • Crushed red pepper flakes

The list is endless, limited only by your creativity.

That’s it for this week. Next week I’ll try and put something together for Valentine’s Day. – TaMara

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Friday Recipe Exchange: Feed a Cold

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I have been fighting a cold this week and all I want is orange juice and homemade soup. So, of course, that’s the theme for tonight’s recipe exchange. Soups. And there are plenty on the blog, because both JeffreyW and I love soup. Just search on soups and you’ll come up with almost 300 entries.

Here are few selections:

Cream of Chicken Soup, click here.

From Joshua D (Yutsano), Cauliflower Beer Cheese Soup, click here.

From JeffreyW, three soups:

     Vegetable Beef Soup, picture above and recipe here

     Moroccan Spicy Lamb Soup, recipe here

     Parmesan Potato Soup, with Bacon, click here

What’s cookin’ in your kitchen this weekend? What must have recipe gets you through cold season?

Hands

Tonight’s featured recipe takes very little effort, so you can have quick and easy homemade soup for a weeknight dinner or when feeling under the weather.

Tortellini Soup

  • 2 cups water
  • 3 cups chicken broth
  • 8 oz sliced carrots
  • 14 oz can diced tomatoes (or equivalent fresh)
  • 2 stalks celery, chopped
  • ½ onion, chopped
  • 1 tsp oregano, crushed
  • 1 tsp basil, crushed
  • 1 tsp crushed garlic
  • salt & pepper to taste
  • 1 cup fresh baby spinach, rough chopped
  • 20 oz pkg frozen tortellini
  • 4 oz grated Parmesan

large saucepan

Add all ingredients to saucepan, except spinach, tortellini & Parmesan. Bring to a boil, reduce heat & let simmer for 15 minutes. Add tortellini and bring to boil again, reduce heat, let simmer 10 minutes, add spinach and let simmer additional 5 minutes, until tortellini is tender. Serve with Parmesan garnish.

That’s it for this week. I’ll try and have a Bixby update later…he’s been sleeping a lot the last two days, so I’m thinking, growth spurt.  – TaMara

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Friday Recipe Exchange: California Dreamin’

Mmm, Dinner Final

I was on the run all week, so I didn’t even have time to make you hot cocoa, which was my original plan for the recipe exchange.  Instead, I went looking through the archives and found my LA diary and thought, perfect for this dreary day.

This time last year I was planning my March trip to Los Angeles, dreaming of driving up the coast and getting ready to cook up a storm.

Zuma

Since I’ve been wishing all month that I was making the trip again, I thought the least I could do was repeat the recipes from a night of cooking I did while I was out there. Nothing new here, but favorite, easy recipes – all at the request of my hosts. The menu for that evening was:

Chicken Piccata (recipe below).

Buttered Potato Pie (recipe here)

Sides and dessert

Tossed Salad with Cranberry Gorgonzola Dressing

Chocolate Walnut Flourless Cookies (one of my most requested desserts, recipe here)

Gluten Free cookies

This was the view for the evening:

LA SKYLINE 2

Dinner was basically a cooking lesson in an awesome, if underused kitchen. It fun helping others find their innner chef. What’s going on in your kitchen this weekend? Besides California Dreamin’, what are you planning to help get through the mid-winter blues?

Tonight’s featured recipe:

Chicken Piccata prep

Chicken Piccata with Herb Noodles:

Chicken Piccata

  • 1 cup Italian breadcrumbs
  • 1 tsp basil, crushed
  • 1 tbsp lemon zest
  • 1/8 tsp pepper
  • 1 tsp crushed garlic
  • ½ tbsp olive oil
  • 4 boneless chicken breasts, pounded flat
  • 1 tbsp butter
  • 1 tbsp olive oil
  • 1 lemon, sliced into very thin slices*
  • ½ cup water
  • 2 tbsp fresh snipped parsley
  • 3 tbsp lemon juice

bowl, skillet

Combine breadcrumbs, basil, zest, and pepper in bowl. Mix ½ tbsp oil and garlic together. Coat both sides of chicken with oil/garlic and dredge in breadcrumbs. Over medium-high heat 1 tbsp ea. of butter and oil in skillet, add chicken and cook 4-5 minutes on each side. Remove chicken – keep warm – add lemon slices to pan, sauté 30 seconds, add water, parsley and juice, boil for 1 minute, spoon over chicken.

*Scrub well before slicing.

Herb Noodles

  • 12 oz egg noodles
  • 2 tbsp butter
  • ½ tsp salt
  • ¼ tsp pepper
  • ½ tsp basil, crushed
  • ½ tsp oregano, crushed
  • ½ tsp rosemary, finely crushed
  • ¼ tsp crushed garlic
  • Sesame seeds, opt

saucepan, serving dish

Cook noodles according to package directions. Drain well. Melt butter in saucepan, add spices, mixing well. Toss with noodles. For an extra touch you can add 1 tbsp of sesame seeds.

That’s it for this week. I’ll try and get a Bixby update up tomorrow. He’s 7 months old and weighs 101 lbs now, as you can imagine any spare time I have is devoted to training and entertaining him. See you next week – TaMara

Zuma 2

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