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Vegetarian Lentil Meatballs via Relishing It

The calendar says that Spring is on the way, though the snowstorm that rolled through the Midwest over the last four days had my family looking for more warming comfort food.  I obliged, by making these meatless “meatballs.”  Yes, I realize calling something that has no meat in it a meatball is a bit ridiculous, but it sounds more generally appealling that “lentilballs.”  And to be honest, it gives you a better idea of what to expect.  I kid you not, these lentil meatballs have the same taste, texture, and appearance of traditional meatballs.

Brown Lentils via Relishing It

Lentil Meatball Ingredients via Relishing It

Not to belabor the point of how much this version tastes like a traditional meatball, but my husband– a complete carnivore and self-described ‘bean-hater’– devours them.  They’re made much like a traditional meatball, except for the addition of ricotta cheese.  It really helps bind the ingredients together and provides a rich texture.  I loaded these ones up with garlic, onion, parmesan, and parsley, but another nice thing about this dish is that it can be easily modified to evoke other ethnic food flavors.  Add a little curry powder, cilantro, and ginger; or to make a Greek version, add mint and oregano, and serve it with feta and tzatziki.  We enjoyed this latest batch with my homemade canned tomato sauce from last summer for an Italian vibe.  The point is, these little numbers are versatile enough to allow you to follow your imagination.

Vegetarian Lentil Meatballs via Relishing It

Homemade Tomato Sauce via Relishing It

In our family, we generally live by the “eat meat, though not all the time” mantra. These lentil meatballs are a great alternative, whether you’re like us or eat strictly vegetarian, and you still want that meaty texture and flavor.  The fact that brown lentils are also budget-friendly is a nice bonus.  Now if you’re interested in more traditional meatballs, I’ve got those for you too.  Take a look here and here for a few of my other favorite recipes.  And these are an interesting take that makes a nearly-perfect soup.  Heck, give them all a try and let me know what you think.  Enjoy!

Vegetarian Lentil Meatballs via Relishing It

Vegetarian Lentil Meatballs via Relishing It

The Recipe:  Vegetarian Lentil Meatball

(makes 40 small meatballs)

2 cups dried brown lentils

1 bay leaf

3 teaspoons kosher salt, divided

6 garlic cloves, chopped

1/2 cup whole wheat breadcrumbs, lightly toasted

2 eggs, lightly beaten

1/2 cup chopped onion

1/3 cup chopped parsley

3/4 cup ricotta cheese (mine was part-skim)

3/4 cup grated parmesan or grana padano cheese

freshly cracked pepper

To prepare the lentils:  Rinse the lentils and put into a large saucepan with 2 cups water, bay leaf, and 1 teaspoon of kosher salt.  Bring to a boil, then reduce to a medium-low and simmer covered for about 25 minutes, or until all of the water has been absorbed into the lentils.  Turn off the burner and let the lentils sit for about 10-15 more minutes covered.  The lentils will be tender when done, but still hold their shape.  Remove the bay leaf, and place the lentils in a food processor and process for about 1 minute, or until they are broken up.  The appearance will look like that of cooked ground beef.

Preheat the oven to 400°F.  Line the largest baking sheet you have with parchment paper.  Set aside.

To make the meatballs:  In a large bowl, combine the puréed lentils, garlic, breadcrumbs, eggs, onion, parsley, ricotta, parmesan, black pepper and 2 teaspoons of salt by mixing together with your hands.  Be careful not to over mix, as with all meatball recipes. Form smallish balls using your hands or a scoop– you should yield about 40.  Place on the prepared baking sheet and bake for about 18 minutes.  They will be a nice golden brown on the top and bottom when they are finished baking.  Serve right away.  Enjoy!

Thanks so much for stopping by Relishing It today!

xo

Laurie

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Asian-Inspired Meatballs via Relishing It

Now we come to it.  The day when snacks and appetizers take center stage alongside over-hyped commercials and two football teams that I can’t– for the life of me– name.  That’s right, Superbowl Sunday is just a few days away!  Now my husband will tell you that the ‘Big Game’ on Sunday is actually Liverpool against Manchester City, but then again, he’s a soccer nut.  Even so, we’ll be hunkered down on the couch on Sunday night eating a variety of tasty appetizers.  If you haven’t planned out your Superbowl menu, I have a few ideas for you.  First, take a look at this incredible dip.  If you make it once, you’ll make it every year.  I promise.  And these pickled eggs are the perfect snack for beers with friends.  If you make them today, they just might be ready in time for the game.  This chili will please a crowd, and so will this one.

Asian Meatball Ingredients

But if you’re in the mood for something a little more exotic, give these fantastic Asian-inspired Meatballs a try.  I found this recipe on Ali Ebright’s blog, Gimme Some Oven.  While you’re waiting for the next commercial break on Sunday night, go on-line and check out her site.  It’s lovely.  I tweaked this particular recipe to suit my taste.

Asian-Inspired Meatballs via Relishing It

We generally eat these meatballs as a meal alongside brown rice or quinoa, served with a salad, but they would make a fantastic appetizer, as well!  The meatballs are packed with fresh, bright flavors from the garlic, ginger, and scallions.  But the real show-stopper is the Asian sauce.  It is amazing!  It’s slightly sweet, but also has a nice tang to it.  Fresh ginger makes everything better, right?  Hope you enjoy them as much as we have.  And whatever you decide to eat this weekend– have a great time surrounded by fun people.

Asian-Inspired Meatballs via Relishing It

The Recipe:  Asian-Inspired Meatballs

(makes 35-37 small)

For the Meatballs:

2 pounds ground beef or pork

2 teaspoons sesame oil

1 heaping tablespoon finely grated fresh ginger

2 eggs, lightly beaten

4 garlic cloves, minced

1 teaspoon kosher salt

1/2 cup breadcrumbs (preferably Panko)

1/2 cup finely chopped scallions (about 3 large)

For the Asian Sauce:

2/3 cup hoisin sauce

1/4 cup rice vinegar

2 garlic cloves, minced

2 tablespoons soy sauce

1 teaspoon sesame oil

1 teaspoon finely grated fresh ginger

Garnish with extra sliced scallions, sesame seeds, and sriracha sauce

Preheat the oven to 400°F.  Line a large 12 x 17 baking sheet with parchment paper.  Set aside.

In a large bowl, lightly combine all of the ingredients for the meatballs together using your hands.  Be careful not to over mix, as that will lead to tough meatballs.   Use a 1 1/2 tablespoon scoop (or you can eyeball it) to form the balls.  Place them on the prepared pan and bake for about 17-19 minutes, they will turn a nice golden brown color  along the edges when done.

Meanwhile, in a small bowl, combine all of the ingredients for the asian sauce.  When the meatballs are done, you can either serve them alongside the sauce as a dip, or you can gently coat the meatballs in the sauce and serve them that way.  I like to warm the sauce up beforehand.  Serve the meatballs with sliced scallions, sesame seeds, and a bit of sriracha for an extra kick.  Enjoy!

Source:  Adapted from Ali at Gimme Some Oven

Thanks for stopping by today!  Hope you all have a great weekend.  xo

Laurie

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For the record, healthy eating is NOT the theme on Relishing It this week.  Don’t worry, I’ll return with several wonderful recipes next week loaded with seasonal produce.  But not this week.  For now, let’s just enjoy these fantastic sticky buns  from earlier, and today’s ridiculously good mini-burgers.  I am a bit of a burger connoisseur.  I know, I know.  I say that about a lot of things.  But the fact is, if there’s a dish I like, I try as many versions of it as I can.  It’s almost as if I need to approach it from every angle.  For burgers, I have my favorite combinations.  I enjoy the fancy ones with melted brie cheese just as much as I enjoy the not-so-classic with swiss and sauerkraut (which is incredible, by the way).  And the classic thick piece of raw onion on a plain burger with ketchup and mustard is heavenly.  I could go on and on.

These mini-burgers (I have a hard time calling them ‘sliders’, because it just reminds me of White Castle) with red wine shallot butter are one of my favorite glammed-up ways to eat a burger.  They are, quite simply, amazing.  More like, over-the-top amazing.  I could eat them everyday, but my clothes would not fit within a few weeks.  They’re perfect if you’re looking for a show-stopper for a Summer party.  You can make everything ahead of time, and once the guests arrive, just pop them on the grill.

One of the biggest flavors– and certainly the biggest time consumer– is making the incredible red wine shallot butter.  You reduce an entire bottle of red wine with one cup of shallots, for about an hour.  Once it’s reduced, you mix this into the whipped butter and chill it.  This butter is the key to the whole dish, and it’s so intense that you only need a little pat on your burger.  You’ll see in the photos that I tend to add a thicker slice, because I just can’t get enough of the flavor.  When you make the red wine shallot butter, you’ll end up having some left-over.  This is good, because it keeps well in the freezer and can be used later…perhaps on a steak for the weekend?

I flavored the grass-fed beef with onions and a fair amount of fresh thyme.  The thyme adds a wonderful earthiness and pairs perfectly with the red wine and shallots.  And yes, if you’ve looked ahead to the recipe, you’ll see there’s also butter mixed in with the ground beef.  It works here, because the grass-fed beef is so lean.  Trust me on this, it’s phenomenal.  Personally, I like these burgers in mini-form.  I made the sourdough buns in the photos, as well.  They ended up being a perfect fit.  Find whatever small bun you can, or make your own.  Just gather some friends and make these burgers, everyone will be happy.

The Recipe:  Grass-Fed Mini Burgers with Red Wine Shallot Butter

For the Burgers:

2 pounds grass-fed ground beef

1 stick unsalted butter

1 medium white onion, minced

1 3/4 tablespoons chopped fresh thyme

1 1/2 teaspoons freshly cracked pepper

1 egg, lightly beaten

1 1/2 tablespoons kosher salt

Freshly chopped parsley

Red Wine Shallot Butter

1/2 cup minced shallots

2 tablespoons granulated sugar

1 bottle of red wine (Merlot or Cabernet work great)

1/2 pound unsalted butter, whipped

To make the red wine shallot butter:  In a large saucepan, combine the shallots, red wine, and sugar.  Bring to a boil, then reduce heat to a medium simmer.  Continue to reduce for about an hour  until the mixture it is somewhat “syrupy”, but almost dry.  See photos.  Remove from heat and let cool to room temperature.  Mix into the whipped butter until homogenous.  Use parchment paper or plastic wrap to roll into logs and chill until firm.

To make the burgers:  Remove ground beef from the refrigerator for about 1/2 hour before mixing.  It’ll need to warm a bit to properly mix with the butter.  In a medium skillet over medium-high heat, add about 2 tablespoons of the butter and the onion.   Sweat them until they are translucent.  Remove from heat and cool to room temperature.  In a large bowl, add the thyme, pepper, egg,  salt, and onions.  Whip the remaining butter until smooth.  Add the butter and ground beef to the bowl and mix until just combined, being careful not to over mix (which can lead to a tough burger).  Form into patties and place on waxed paper and chill in the refrigerator for at least an hour.  Grill or fry the burgers and top with a slice of the red wine shallot butter and a sprinkle of parsley!

Source:  Adapted from Bar Lurcat, in Minneapolis, MN

Thanks for stopping by Relishing It!  Hope you all have a safe and fun holiday weekend!

Laurie

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Today’s dish is one of the most-satisfying, healthy salads around.  It combines several healthy food pyramid components– protein, vegetables, and grains, so in a sense it’s a ‘one-plate meal’.  It has the added benefit of being convenient and delicious, not to mention looking gorgeous, too.  The centerpiece of this salad is the salmon.  In this dish, it’s simply prepared.

Now it’s time for a little story.  Radd and I have had an ‘on again/off again’ relationship with salmon over the last few years.  Have you ever eaten one particular food so often that its no longer appealing?  That’s what happened to us.  You see, during both of my pregnancies we ate a ton of wild salmon.  It’s loaded with omega 3’s, which are important for a baby’s developing brain.  So…we went overboard.  I’m sure my memory is tricking me now, but I swear we ate salmon three to four times a week.  It got to the point where it was almost torturous to sit down to a nice grilled meal.  After Aria was born we swore off salmon for awhile.  That ‘awhile’ turned into nearly two years, so our kids never really got to try it.  Well, we finally came around, gave it a try, and remembered all those things that we love about the fish.  And as luck would have it, turns out our kids love it too.

Along with the salmon, this salad has those wonderful Spring fava beans and radishes.  The beans add a nice ‘pop!’ of color along with their firm texture, while the radishes give the dish a healthy crunch.  Another ingredient is black rice.  Not familiar?  You can read about it here.  Aside from looking pretty cool, it’s loaded with fiber and iron.  It’s also an anti-inflammatory and great source for antioxidants.  I used ‘forbidden’ black rice in this dish.  The texture is the same as a firm white rice, but the flavor is a bit more ‘nutty’– kind of like wild rice.  If you can’t find black rice, you can use wild rice, quinoa, or wheat berries.  All will work well here.

The final ingredient is a mustard tarragon vinaigrette, which brings all of the flavors together.  It’s worth experimenting with tarragon vinegar, if you can find it– it’s so interesting.  Tarragon has a strong anise-like flavor, so make sure it suits your palate before you add it to the vinaigrette.  And if you don’t have it, a nice white wine or champagne vinegar will work just fine.  Enjoy!

The Recipe:  Wild Salmon with Black Rice, Fava Beans, and Spring Radishes

(Serves 4)

1 pound wild salmon

1 cup forbidden black rice, rinsed

1 bunch Spring radishes, sliced

1 head boston, bibb, or romaine lettuce, torn

1/2 – 1 cup shelled fava beans

olive oil, for drizzling

Mustard Tarragon Vinaigrette:

1 clove garlic

1 tablespoon shallot, chopped

1/4 cup tarragon vinegar, or white wine vinegar

2 teaspoons Dijon mustard, more if you like it more potent

1/2 cup extra-virgin olive oil

sprinkle of red pepper flakes

kosher salt and cracked pepper, to taste

To begin:  Place the rinsed black rice in a medium sauce pan with a scant 1 3/4 cup of water.  Bring to a boil uncovered.  Then cover and reduce heat to low and cook for about 35 minutes, or until the rice is tender and the water has been absorbed.  If the rice is tender, yet a bit of water remains, just drain it off.  Fluff with a fork and set aside.

Meanwhile, preheat an oven to 375°F.  Line a large baking sheet with aluminum foil.  Place the salmon on it along with a drizzle of olive oil and salt and pepper.  Bake for about 15-20 minutes, or until it just barely flakes when you twist a fork into it.  Keep in mind that it will continue to bake after you remove it from the oven from the residual heat, so be careful not to over-bake.  Remove from oven and break apart into chunks, when cool.

Prepare the fava beans by placing the shelled beans into a small saucepan of boiling water.  Boil for about 2 minutes.  Drain water and place beans in a bowl of ice water.  Remove the light green peel.  Set beans aside.

To make the vinaigrette:  place the garlic, shallot, Dijon, vinegar, salt, pepper, and hot pepper flakes into a bowl.  Slowly whisk in the extra-virgin olive oil.  Taste.  Adjust seasonings, if necessary.

On a large platter, place the torn lettuce, black rice, salmon, radishes, and fava beans.  Pour the mustard tarragon vinaigrette over the salad and gently toss.  Ricotta salata cheese also works very well with this meal.  Enjoy!

I hope you all have a fantastic weekend!  See you next week!

Laurie

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I seems like I’ve been preaching the ‘Spring vegetable gospel’ for the last few weeks.  I can’t help it.  That’s how excited I get about them.  For this dish, I decided to incorporate one of those Spring gems– fava beans.  They aren’t available for very long, so I grab them when I can.  Preparing fava beans is a little out-of-the-ordinary.  They need to first be shelled, then peeled.  Once you’ve removed the shells, boil for a few minutes and place them in an ice bath.  The light green peel then comes off easily.  It’s a bit of a process, but it’s worth it.  Fava beans are soft and delicious, and again, they’re versatile.  They’re perfect mixed into sauces, tossed into salads, or mashed into a fantastic bruschetta topping.

Fava beans are a great addition to the typical meat sauce like this one.  Here, they add an interesting texture, and pair wonderfully with the sweet Italian sausage and tomatoes.  I buy a local sausage that has plenty of seasoning, so I didn’t add much.  In fact, I didn’t use one grain of salt– the sausage and grana padano cheese added enough.  Test your sauce as you go, add seasonings and salt as you see fit.  I also didn’t have white wine on hand, but would have added a glug or two if I did.  Even my freezer wine stock was empty.  As an aside, you can freeze leftover wine in ice cube trays and add them to sauces as you need them.  Slick, huh?  For the pasta, you can use dry pappardelle, or if you want that silkiness of fresh pasta, use this recipe.  It’ll be more time-consuming, but the texture is amazing.  If you make it fresh, note that you’ll need to cut the pasta a bit wider than shown in the recipe.  Hope you give this pasta with fava beans a whirl.

The Recipe:  Pappardelle with Italian Sausage and Fava Beans

(serves 4)

1 pound fresh or dried pappardelle pasta (you can use this recipe for fresh pasta)

1 pound sweet Italian sausage

1 1/2 cups shelled fava beans

1/2 medium white onion, chopped (about 3/4 scant cup)

3 garlic cloves, finely chopped

1 teaspoon dried oregano

1 1/2 cups crushed canned tomatoes

2 tablespoons tomato paste

cracked black pepper

grated grana padano or parmesean-reggiano, for garnish

To begin, bring a small saucepan of water to a boil.  Once it is boiling, add the fava beans that have been shelled.  Boil for 1 1/2  to  2 minutes.  Remove from heat, drain, and immerse the beans into an ice bath (a bowl of cold water with ice in it).  Let cool in the water for a couple of minutes.  Next, remove the light green “peel” from the beans using your hands.  The fava beans will be dark green in color.  Set aside.

Bring a large pot of water to a boil for the pasta.  Meanwhile, begin making the sauce.  Heat a large skillet and add the Italian sausage to it.  When it is cooked, drain and discard any grease.  Add the onion and garlic to the pan of Italian sausage and continue to cook for a few minutes over medium-high heat until the onions start to become somewhat tender.  Add the tomatoes, tomato paste, oregano, and cracked black pepper.  Cook for a few minutes until the flavors have combined a bit and the sauce has thickened.  Add the fava beans and cook a few more minutes.  Taste the sauce and adjust the seasonings.

Add the pasta to the pot of boiling water when the sauce is nearly done.  Cook pasta until al dente.  Reserve a bit of the pasta water, in case you need to loosen your sauce with it.  Drain pasta and combine with the sauce.  Serve sprinkled with generous amounts of grana padano cheese!  Enjoy!

I hope you all have a wonderful weekend — do you have any big plans?  I’m looking forward to having some fun with my family and hopefully getting a chance to do some relaxing and a little cooking/baking.  See you next week!

Laurie

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As a blogger, I try not to write about dishes that other bloggers have recently covered.  Obviously, many of us are cooking with seasonal produce, so there’s going to be some ingredient overlap.  For other, more random foods that can be made everyday, I try to avoid imitation.  But every once in awhile, I come across something like these amazing tacos.  I first encountered these beauties on Pinterest, and knew I had to make them right away.  Aaand…they were incredible.  Really, really incredible.  So good that I figured I had to share them with you.

One of the strange paradoxes of Spring and Summer is that as the days get longer, our amount of free time for preparing meals gets shorter.  More time spent driving kids from one practice to the other.  More time trying to squeeze every last minute of fun out of warmer days.  These tacos are a nice solution to that time crunch.  You can put the meat in the crockpot in the morning or the night before.  As an aside, I find it odd that so many people think the crockpot is for winter cooking.  Who wants to turn on the oven in the middle of the summer heat?  I use mine as much, if not more, during the warm months.  And again, if you don’t own a crockpot, throw all the ingredients into a Dutch oven and braise.

These Asian-inspired tacos taste amazing. The ginger and garlic mixed in with the subtle, sweet flavors pair perfectly with the beef.  I made these mildly spicy  for my kids, but feel free to add extra sriracha sauce for more of a punch.  I love the pickled cucumbers and red onions.  It’s a quick extra step that shouldn’t be avoided.  The pickled flavors are the final perfect touch to this  meal.  Hope you enjoy!

The Recipe: Asian-Inspired Beef Tacos with Pickled Vegetables

2 – 2  1/2 pounds of grass-fed beef chuck roast

1/2 cup water

3  1-inch knobs of ginger, finely chopped

4 – 6 cloves of garlic, rough chopped

3 tablespoons soy sauce

3 tablespoons rice vinegar

1 tablespoon sesame oil

1 tablespoon sriracha sauce

1/4 cup dark brown sugar

2 tablespoons fresh orange juice

For the Garnishes:

1 English cucumber, thinly sliced

1/2 red onion, thinly sliced

cilantro or green onions

lime wedges

about 1/2 cup white vinegar

To make the tacos:  In a small bowl, combine the water, ginger, garlic, soy sauce, rice vinegar, sesame oil, sriracha sauce, brown sugar, and orange juice.  Place the chuck roast in a crock pot and pour the mixture over it.  Set the crockpot to low and leave on overnight.

In the morning, remove the chuck roast,  place on a plate, and wrap in aluminum foil.  If time allows,  place the liquid from the crockpot into the refrigerator or freezer for about a half hour.   The fat will harden and be easy to remove.  Otherwise, spoon out as much fat as you can.  Place liquid (don’t strain) into a small sauce pan and simmer until it has reduced a bit.  Re-season, if necessary.

Meanwhile,  place the sliced cucumbers and red onion into a small bowl.  Pour enough white vinegar over them so they are covered and let them sit for a bit to “pickle”.  After a while,  use two forks and shred the chuck roast.  Pour the reduced sauce over the meat.  Serve with tacos shells,  pickled cucumbers and red onions, cilantro, and limes.  Enjoy!

Source:  Adapted from Confections of a Foodie Bride

Thanks for stopping by Relishing It today!  See you soon.

Laurie

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This is one of my family’s favorite weeknight meals.  It’s quick, easy, pretty healthy, and best of all it tastes fantastic.  The pea and mint combination is so refreshing– it’s perfect for this time of the year and will remind you of Spring.  Ideally, I like to use fresh peas in this dish, but frozen ones make an exceptional alternative.  And the little salty bites of crisp, smoky bacon are a nice contrast to the fresh flavors.

Now I love a good, rich carbonara– really, I do.  But this dish is not thick and creamy.  This is a much lighter version that contains very little cream and only one egg.  Despite this, it works remarkably well.   I reserve the heavy version for an evening when I feel like being a bit more indulgent,  but for our everyday meals, I cut back significantly.  The key to this recipe is to remember that it’s really just an outline.  Use as much bacon, mint, peas, and parmesan cheese as you like- it’s a matter of personal taste.  My family loves peas, so we use an entire package.  You can certainly add more parmesan, as well.  Just remember to loosen the pasta with reserved pasta water to get the level of creaminess that you want.  And most importantly, be ready to eat this dish immediately.  The creaminess will not last long, so it’s best served right away.

One last thing:  be sure to enter my cookbook giveaway I’m having to celebrate Relishing It’s First Anniversary– enter here!

The Recipe: Whole Wheat Pasta Carbonara with Bacon, Peas, and Mint

(Makes 4 servings)

1  pound of whole wheat spaghetti or linguine

1 10 ounce package of organic sweet peas

6-8 slices bacon, or more to taste

handful of grated parmesan or grana padano cheese (about 1/2 cup)

about 1/4 cup chopped fresh mint

1 large organic egg lightly beaten with 1/4 cup organic heavy cream

a few grates of fresh nutmeg

Cook the bacon in a large skillet until crisp.  Remove from pan and wipe pan clean with a paper towel.  Chop the bacon and set aside.   In a small bowl lightly beat the egg, cream, and nutmeg together.  Set aside.  Meanwhile, cook the pasta according to directions on package.  Add the peas into the hot water when the pasta is one minute from being “al dente”.  Reserve one cup of the pasta water.  Drain pasta and peas and pour into the skillet the bacon was cooked into.  Pour the egg/cream/nutmeg mixture over the hot pasta and toss with thongs.  The hot pasta will cook the egg.  Add a bit of the reserved pasta water to loosen the pasta more, if you desire.  Sprinkle the parmesan over the pasta.  Top with the chopped bacon and chopped mint.  Eat immediately!  Enjoy.

Source:  Adapted from Jamie Oliver’s Jamie’s Dinners

Thanks for stopping by!

Laurie

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