Thursday, June 30, 2011

Pan seared tilapia with jalapeno lime butter

If you have been following then you might remember the grilled sweet corn with roasted jalapeno butter I made for Father's day....this is a bit different.  Grilling the pepper, as well as de-seeding and removing the skin, makes it very mild.  Not cooking the pepper makes it keep it's crunch, as well as it's flavor which is why I liked this so very much. 

I got this recipe from a blog I follow called Ommy Noms ( and tweaked it a little bit for my liking.  I have been on a fresh minced garlic kick since I got my handheld garlic mincer thingamajig and have realized you just can't beat freshly minced garlic....the smell alone is amazing, on top of the flavor it brings to anything. So that was my addition to the recipe and I think it turned out PERFECT!

2 tilapia filets
salt and pepper

Pam up your skillet and put it on medium heat.  Season the fish with salt and pepper (I thought this would be bland but it was the perfect amount of taste for this white fish).  Cook about 3-4 minutes per side, until it flakes easily with a fork.

Now for the butta!

2 T light butter, at room temp so it's softened
1 T lime juice
1/2 jalapeno pepper, finely diced
1 whole garlic clove, minced

Combine, and dallop onto fish when it's done.  As I mentioned, I thought this would be a little bland but this was my favorite meal in the last couple of weeks.  I don't know if I was just hungry or what, but I scarfed that piece of fish down and wanted another one!  You could throw this on some rice if you wanted, but I'm calorie counting right now and am trying to watch carbs in the evenings so I skipped it. 

My mouth is watering just looking at it again...and it really only took 10 minutes to prepare dinner, cant beat that with a stick!

Calories: 150 (93 for tilapia, 50 for 1 T light butter)
Fat: 6 grams
Protein: 21 grams

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Five spice grilled chicken thighs with blackberry glaze

Justin's not a big fan of sweet plus meat...which means he doesn't like sweet marinades or sauces, he doesn't even really like BBQ sauce unless it's spicy, he's a meat lover and doesn't like to ruin the meat taste.  Soooo, I wasn't sure if he would like this chicken or not and left one thigh without the glaze just in case.  He ate two and finished the one with the glaze first.  The boy never ceases to amaze me.  I think the blackberries give it a bitterness in addition to the sweetness that makes it work...but that's just a theory.  Either way, I'm glad he liked it because I thouroughly enjoyed it....chicken can get SO boring sometimes so it's nice to find new ways to prepare it.

1 T five spice powder
1/2 t salt
1/4 t fresh ground black pepper

8 chicken thighs (I only had 4 so I had extra glaze leftover)

3/4 cup sugar free seedless blackberry jam
3 T cider vinegar
1 T water
3/4 t grated peeled fresh ginger (I skipped that part but you can give it a shot if you like)
fresh blackberries (optional...I skipped this as well)

Start the grill.  Combine the first group of ingredients in a small dish....

Combine well and then rub all over the chicken thighs before throwing them on the grill on medium heat....

While chicken grills, combine jam and that group of ingredients in a small nonstick skillet.  Simmer over medium-low heat for 8 minutes or until glaze is reduced to 1/2 cup.

Drizzle glaze evenly over chicken and garnish with blackberries if desired.  Serve immediately, the glaze does tend to coagulate a bit if left sitting for too long so it can cool.  This was a perfect flavor for dark meat chicken and I will be keeping my peepers open for more fruit inspired glazes and marinades now that I know Justin will give them a shot!

Fat stats
Calories: 285
Fat: 13 g
Protein: 30.6 g
Carbs: 17.3 g
112 mg

P.S. Serving size is 2 chicken thighs with 2 T of glaze so I cut these stats in half by only having one thigh and loading down with veggies for my side!

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Roasted garlic cauliflower

Simple, simple, SIMPLE!  Oh, and GARLICKY!  But that won't bother you if you're anything like me...I crave garlic.  I used to get garlic bagels with garlic cream cheese from Breugers...until I realized that was all the calories I shouldve been consuming in one day, let alone one meal.  Probably not a good thing to munch on a garlic clove first thing in the morning either.  It might be my favorite spice ever...right up there with crushed red pepper, I use both of them as much as possible. 

Anyway, this is a quick one:

2 T minced garlic
3 T olive oil
1 head of cauliflower
Dash italian seasoning
salt and pepper to taste
1/3 cup grated parmesan cheese (I used reduced fat)

Preheat oven to 425 degrees, and throw some Pam in the bottom of a casserole dish...disposable like mine if you don't want clean-up duties after dinner :)

Combine garlic, oil, and cauliflower in a ziploc bag, shake to cover the veggies....and make sure your bag is closed or your cauliflower will fly all over the place...not that I know from personal experience or anything. 

Pour into casserole dish and sprinkle with italian seasoning, salt, pepper, and parmesan cheese.

Cover with tin foil.  Bake for 30 minutes, stirring halfway through.  And then, you have super duper garlic lover's heaven right at your fingertips! 

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Tuesday, June 28, 2011

"Gardening is a way of showing that you believe in tomorrow."

My herb planter on the deck contains dill (don't ask me why, I need to find something to do with it), basil (probably my favorite fresh herb to have on hand), and cilantro (fresh cilantro is a must for fresh salsa).  It really is a great feeling to walk out onto the deck, pick something from my plants, wash it and add it to a dish...such an accomplishment to make a living thing.  "A garden is a friend you can visit anytime..."

The zucchinis are really coming up...I'm so excited for these this year since my only plant got blown out of the ground last year.  I only got a couple to eat so this year I have 5 plants...let me know if you want extras! "You can bury a lot of troubles digging in the dirt."

I planted super late so I used plants from the nursery for most of my veggies....but the green beans I actually did from seed and they are coming up quite nicely!  "In all things of nature there is something of the marvelous." --Aristotle

The habaneros are getting far too much rain, it needs to heat up so I can make some flaming salsa!!  But they're still kicking..."Cares melt when you kneel in your garden."

The maters need some heat too, hopefully they take off soon!  I tilled after this and picked up all the rocks in there too so it looks a lot nicer now, in case you were wondering.  "In the spring, at the end of the day, you should smell like dirt."

The jalapenos and cucumbers I planted from seed are not up yet, so I don't have much hope for them.  I did see 3 peekers of bright green lettuce that I'm excited for so that should start shooting soon too!  I also have chives and onions that were transplanted from last year...

Here are a couple of my indoor plants as well...Im not sure what this one is as it was given to me in March when Amanda moved from Chicago to Texas.  It looks nice in my little corner in the kitchen though...and I'm pretty pleased it's still alive as it was very dry when I got it.  Roo loves to eat this one and then vom the leaves up on my carpet...awesome.

This one I am particularly proud of as I grew it by myself from a branch of one of mom's plants.  I think it's a habiscus? EDIT: Mama K corrected me, it's a Dieffenbachia plant. It's poisonous to cats but Roo stays away from this one for some chica.  It started out as a buried root about 3 years ago and now has quite a few huge leaves on gets bigger and bigger each year.


I think I spelled it right this time, didn't I?  I can never remember which letters to double....

Well, I went there for my second time on Friday with the girls and a couple of guys, and again it was amazing.  I actually tried something besides the duck, which is a cardinal sin, but it was a wonderful meal anyway!  I've posted this before, but the duck is to die for there.  I think it's amazing, which is why I wanted to try something else....there has to be more amazing stuff on the menu, doesn't there?  In hindsight, I shouldve gotten the duck as I ate some of Bea's instead of finishing my meal...but I think I will try one more thing there next time I go, before I head straight back to the duck and never get anything else.  Christina will never order anything else but the duck so here is a picture of hers...Pan roasted Fox Hollow Farms duck breast/ duck confit/ shitake & tart cherry risotto/ duck demiglaze!

I tried the spicy duck wings for my appetizer and would highly recommend those as well.  I've had the scallops appetizer there and it's hard to beat but it's also pretty pricey at $13 for 2 scallops!  So I wanted to try something different and was glad I did...I actually had the waiter pick my appetizer for me and it turned out he brought me the one I wouldve ordered from the 3 I had him choose from.

For my meal, I had the skate wing, which is described as Sauteed skate wing/ seafood polenta/ saffron nage...and it was very, very good!  Skate wing is a stingray, and it was a little fishier than I had expected but the seafood polenta was amazing.  Not a great picture but here it is...I would probably not order it again but am glad I tried it, not everyone has had a chance to eat stingray!

Tony actually picked really well that night too, and he got something I wouldve considered boring normally.  He got the Pasta carbonara/ linguine/ sherry cream sauce/ peas/ crisp bacon....can I tell you that Ive never seen bacon this thick.  It was a very, very rich and bacon-y dish so if you don't like bacon, don't touch it but man, was it delish!!  It had peas in it, which I despise, and I still couldnt stop stealing bites!  We were in a dark basement...great for ambiance, not so great for food excuse the darkness of the photos.

And last but not least, we come to Brandy Sue.  She would highly recommend the candied walnut salad, as she doesn't really get off on food like the rest of us do and doesn't like to pay an arm and a leg for a meal that she doesn't love...she would probably pay more for spinach artichoke dip from Wallaby's than any duck, steak, or fish in the world!  But that's why we love her :)

I should mention that we also finished off 3 bottles of wine with dinner (and the boys were mostly drinking beer), which I wouldn't recommend.  They do have some decent deals on wine though, considering how expensive the food is there.  Nights like these are so fun to me...great food and wine, great friends, a nice long dinner to chit chat and hang out....can't really beat that in my book!

Creamy taco mac

I'll be the first to tell you that this is not a fancy dish...tastes a lot like hamburger helper.  This means it would be great for kids (Justin and Curt liked it, haha) and is easy to throw together....but it's made with ground turkey so its better for you than hamburger helper would be!

I got this off of a blog that a friend sent to me called Babies and Broccoli (, she's got some great recipes on there and I've used quite a few of them. 

1 lb ground turkey
8 oz dry pasta (I just used elbow macaroni since I had it in the cupboard)
1 small onion
1 clove garlic minced (I used 2)
1 (14 oz) can diced tomatoes (I used Rotel with diced chiles in it)
package of taco seasoning
1/2 an 8 oz container of cream cheese (I used fat free)
1/2 cup sour cream (I used fat free)
shredded cheddar cheese (optional, I used a little bit of 2% mexican cheese)
salt and pepper to taste

Here's a little lesson on ground turkey that I had to learn.  The normal ground turkey is not much better for you than hamburger is, especially if you get the lean hamburger.  It's more expensive so there's really no reason to splurge for it.  You have to be sure that you are getting white meat ground turkey, so its 98% fat free and a lot lower in calorie.  The problem with this is it's very expensive, I've paid between $3.50 and $5 per pound before.  I still really like to eat pasta with lower calorie count so I go with the turkey most of the time...but that choice is up to you. 

Sooooo, here we go.  Bring a large pot of water to boil.  Cook the pasta according to the package instructions and drain, reserving a 1/2 cup of the pasta water for later.

Meanwhile, in a large skillet, cook the ground turkey over medium-high heat.  A few minutes before the turkey is cooked through, add the chopped onion to the skillet.  Once it's all cooked, add the minced garlic and cook until fragrant, about 30 seconds.  You shouldnt have to drain turkey if you're using white meat, there usually isn't any grease to drain.  Mix in the diced tomatoes and taco seasoning and let simmer over medium heat for 5 minutes. 

Stir in the cooked pasta, cream cheese, sour cream, and reserved water.  Continue stirring until the cheeses are melted and blended.  Season with salt and pepper, and top with cheese if desired.

I would probably add a jalapeno next time to spice it up a little more but crushed red peppers worked well for that too. This is a very simple weekday recipe...

Someone on my facebook asked for nutrition information and although none was provided, here are my estimations: ‎30 cals for cream cheese, 25 for sour cream, 211 for ground turkey, 160 for pasta, 20 for taco seasoning, 15 for tomatoes=461 calories and I always round up.  That is under 500 calories per serving when splitting this into 4 servings (which is plenty). 

Monday, June 27, 2011

Sweet and Sour Chicken

Another recipe from Mrs. Mohr is being added to the list!  When we went over for a girl's dinner last week, she made this for us and it was a hit...Brandy Sue even went up for seconds (that's an accomplishment for anyone making dinner)!  I admit, I didn't think I was a fan of sweet and sour anything...I worked in a Chinese restaurant when I was in high school and I never liked the looks of any of the sweet and sour dishes.  I sure am glad I gave this a try though...its a great substitute to the calorie packed takeout version as she healthified this recipe right up.

She took this pic of the ingredients for me since she knew I would be blogging this and I wasn't there when she started the preparation...what good friends I have! :)

Here is what you will need:
3-4 boneless skinless chicken breasts  (chopped into cubes)
2 bell peppers, diced (any color you prefer)
2 cups of pineapple
2 containers La Choy sweet and sour sauce
steamed rice prepared with the box directions
1 onion diced (she didn't add this because we have a certain Christina who doesn't like onions)
salt and pepper to taste

Start by spraying your skillet with nonstick fat free Pam and adding the chicken to medium heat, seasoned with salt and pepper.  When the chicken is done, add the veggies and pineapple and saute together for 5 minutes while stirring sporadically. 

Add the sauce and simmer for 5-10 minutes so the flavors can meld.  Add 1 T of cornstarch mixed with a bit of water to thicken the sauce up. 

Serve over a bed of white rice and don't worry about going back for seconds like Brandy will devour this! 

P.S.  If I relayed any of this incorrectly, let me know, Michelle!! Thanks for another great meal :)

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Friday, June 24, 2011

Strawberry sour cream ice cream

If you haven't noticed that the dessert section is a little light, you're probably like me and don't even check that section.  I would much rather eat more for dinner than worry about dessert but sometimes I do get the urge to throw something together for a special occasion.  My go-to dessert is mini-cheesecakes that I will probably get on here in a couple weeks when I make them for our 4th of July party...those are yummy and fat free!

I don't know what happened to me the other day at the grocery store but I got a hankering to buy this ice cream machine that I've seen there a couple of times before that.  I think it was a combo of wanting to use my new food processor, wanting to make Gary homemade ice cream for father's day since Justin has told me he used to make it for them as kids, and me seeing this recipe on a new blog I am following called "Dainty Chef" ( and wanting to try it. 

Little did I know that I bought the world's smallest ice cream maker...but that's ok.  It's the perfect size for J and I, this recipe just made me about 3 batches in that ice cream maker. 

1 lb fresh strawberries, rinsed and sliced
3/4 cup sugar
1 T of vodka

Add those 3 ingredients together and set them aside at room temp for an hour...I didn't know what difference this would make but here is a before and after photo so you can see the strawberry infused sugary sauce it makes when letting it sit....


 When this step is done, you add the mixture to your food processor, and add these ingredients as well...

1 cup sour cream
1 cup heavy cream
1 t lemon juice

I was totally confused about vodka and sour cream being added to ice cream but I thought it was worth a shot.  Pulse briefly until almost smooth but still slightly chunky. 

This is when you follow the directions of your ice cream maker.  Mine has 2 frozen bowls that attach to the churning top, so I grabbed one out of the freezer, filled it up to the line with my strawberry mixture, and let it go at it for about 15 minutes.  It came out perfectly softserved like you would get at a frozen yogurt store...but I had to make another bowl so I threw that one in the freezer and used the other frozen bowl to make the second batch. 

I can't tell you how glad I am that I bought this thing...although my pants probably aren't going to be thanking me.  I think it's a perfect portion size for Justin and I (it serves about a pint per frozen bowl) to share if we have a craving, and I'm excited to try all new kinds and maybe even some fro-yos.  Anyway, these little desserts turned out just like I wanted, I added some graham cracker crumbs and a piece of milk chocolate to dress these up and serve. 

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Thursday, June 23, 2011

Strawberry poppyseed salad

This is another recipe I got from my friend Maggie, who got it from someone at her wedding shower.  Some of those recipes (like this one) are included in my repeat list, so thanks to whoever added this one!  I never used to be a "fruit in the salad" type of person but this just works perfectly as a fresh side dish, and if I add chicken or turkey to it, we've even done this as a full meal.

Romaine (Use whatever lettuce you want but I love romaine, I also added arugula to this one since I had some leftover in the fridge)
quartered strawberries
reduced fat feta cheese
seasoned almonds
Kraft creamy poppyseed dressing

The best part is that there are no amounts so you can mix it how you would like, I just throw what I've got in there until it looks good.  I also mixed everything ahead of time, threw it in the fridge, and waited till just before serving to add the dressing and toss it evenly. 

This was one of the sides I served for our big Father's day meal.....but go ahead and add some chicken to it if you want some protein to make it a full meal!

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Wednesday, June 22, 2011

Asiago roasted potatoes

I'm always looking for a new way to do potatoes as I just love them but feel like I serve them the same way all the time.  I've always been a meat and potatoes girl rather than a dessert anytime I see something intriguing I usually give it a try.  I had some asiago cheese leftover from the asiago crusted pork chops so thought I would give this a shot....I found it on a new blog I'm now following called "Ommy Noms" (, there are so many people who have great blogs, I could read about new recipes all day long!!

7 medium sized potatoes (I used red)
3 T olive oil
salt and pepper to taste (so LOTS for me!)
3 garlic cloves, minced
3/4 cup shredded asiago cheese
pinch herbes de provence (this was one spice that I didn't have in my kitchen, GASP, so I used rosemary which really brings out the great taste in potatoes...if you've never had rosemary potatoes, you're not livin life the way it should be lived!)

Preaheat the oven to 450 degrees.  Cut the potatoes into one inch cubes and place in a medium sized pot.  Add water to cover potatoes, add salt to taste and bring to a boil.  Cook for 4 minutes once boiling.

Remove potatoes from heat, drain and pat dry.

Pour the potatoes into a large ziplock bag.  Add the olive oil, salt and pepper, and garlic cloves to the bag and shake until the potatoes are covered evenly.  Pour the mixture onto a nonstick cookie sheet like so....

Roast potatoes 30-45 minutes until tender and brown, stirring every 15 minutes. Transfer to a serving dish and sprinkle on asiago cheese and your rosemary or herbes de provence.  These potatoes were very good and seemed fancier than just normal grilled taters....

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Grilled corn on the cob with roasted jalapeno butter

This was very simple and had some good flavor to it, but not an overpowering jalapeno flavor by any means.  Some people get scared off when they hear the word jalapeno and aren't into hot stuff...I will tell you that I thought this would be hotter than what it was so I was a bit disappointed at first.  But the way you cook them will determine the taste you get from them, and roasting will always take the heat out of a pepper.  I did learn some things doing this recipe though....

The corn part is easy...just shuck it and throw it on the grill.  Turn every so often when you get the grill marks on it, and it should be done in less than 10 minutes for sure.  I made the jalapeno butter ahead of time though.  Here's what you need:

1 jalapeno pepper
7 t unsalted butter, softened
2 t honey
1 t salt

That is enough butter for 6 ears of corn so if you're doing more than that, double it.  Preheat the grill to medium high heat and throw the jalapeno on the grill rack.  Grill until blackened or charred, turning every so often to cook evenly. 

I almost skipped this step but am glad I didn't.  I didn't have a paper bag which is what it calls for...."Place jalapeno in a small paper bag, and fold tightly to seal. Let stand for 5 minutes."  I just used a piece of white computer paper and made a little paper bag instead.  I discovered the reason behind this is that the paper absorbs the oil or moisture from the skin of the pepper and the skin pulls apart from the flesh of the pepper making it ridiculously easy to skin the pepper.  You learn something new every day I guess...

So you discard the stem, seeds, skin, and membrane and dice up the pepper as small as possible.  Combine the chopped pepper with the ingredients listed above and stir well.  I served this with a brush and left it room temp so it was easy to apply to the ears of corn. 

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Tuesday, June 21, 2011

Cajun smoked beer butt chicken

I'm going to tell you exactly what to do to make the best chicken you've ever had.  I'm not kidding here, we've tried every mop, marinade, rub, baste, and injection you could think of and have perfected the art of a whole chicken on the smoker....the best ones we've found are on and these are the best of those.  You want to make sure you do all 3 things: inject, rub, and baste.  Okkkkkk, GO!

Here's what you put in the beer cans:

3 cloves of garlic
a few pieces of chopped onion
half the beer that was in the can to begin with (open the top of the beer can as far as you can without cutting yourself on the edges)

Here's what you put in your chicken (inject it with a meat syringe in all the meatiest places, 2 birds should take on all the following liquid and hold it):

1/2 cup melted butter
3 T of Tony Chachere's creole seasoning
1 T garlic powder
1/2 cup vinegar

Here's what you rub the chickens with:

olive oil
Tony chachere's creole seasoning (very liberally)

Here's what you baste the chickens with every hour for the 4 hours they cook:

1.5 cups butter (melted)
1/4 cup vinegar
4 minced garlic cloves
1 T fresh cracked black pepper
2 t lime juice
1 T red pepper flakes
1 t oregano
1 t cumin

DISCLAIMER:  No promises on how healthy this is...there's a lotta butta and olive oil in these rubs and bastes.  I will promise you that it will be the best chicken you've ever had though...totally worth the time to throw it on the smoker for an afternoon.  We did 2 chickens for fathers day dinner (between 3-4 lbs a piece) and it took about 4 hours on 180 degrees in the electric smoker.  I can't put into words how much I liked this chicken so you'll just have to try it yourself if you want to know.  I thought about making chicken salad with the leftover for J's lunches but there's no way I'm going to ruin that flavor with mayo and all that jazz...leftovers tonight!

I really think injecting is the way to go with the smoker, I always feel like the smoker dries things out but this chicken was (gulp) so MOIST!! I absolutely despise that word, some of you know that....but there's no other way to describe this! 

Monday, June 20, 2011

Grilled stuffed swordfish

I think swordfish is quickly becoming my favorite seafood to make at home.  For some reason the first bite always tastes real fishy to me when it's grilled but after that it's perfecto!  This was a great way to do it and although it doesnt seem like it, it was super easy.  I've always been afraid of sauces and am quickly becoming more accustomed to reducing things and all that jazz.  It really does't take long to make a sweet (sweet meaning awesome, not sweet meaning taste, haha) sauce.  Now that I've said all that I should tell you I ruined this one by reducing it too far and doing it too soon so it separated by the time I wanted to use it but that's neither here nor really is easy, I promise...I'm just easily distracted (read: I was talking on the phone when cooking). 

Anyway, as I was saying...swordfish has a permanent place in my freezer now, I am finding all sorts of good recipes for it and I just love how meaty of a fish it is.  You're eating healthy but you feel like you just ate a slab of beef, it's very filling.  Another thing I did wrong with this recipe was substitute jalopeno raisin cooking wine (pictured below) for the dry white wine in the marinade.  Thought it would add some added something alright.  Not the best taste to pair with fish....although that stuff is awesome in pasta sauces and italian recipes, fyi!

Recipe for the marinade (you want to soak your swordfish in this overnight):

1/4 cup dry white wine
1/4 cup coy sauce
1 T prepared Dijon-style mustard
1 t grated fresh ginger root (I skipped this as I didn't want to run to the store again)
1 t sesame oil
3 T olive oil
1/4 cup fresh lemon juice

When you're ready to cook, remove the swordfish from the marinade and reserve the liquid that's left...DO NOT throw it away like I almost did!  Use a sharp knife to cut slits, or pockets, into the sides of the swordfish. 

In a large bowl, toss together these ingredients:

4 cups coursely chopped arugula
3 T olive oil
3 T lemon juice
1 cup fresh chopped tomato
salt and pepper

Should look like this....

Stuff the swordfish with the arugula mixture and seal with toothpicks.  I could've done 4 swordfish steaks with that amount of stuffing but we ate the extra stuffing as a side, as I only made 2 of the filets. 

Place marinade in a small saucepan and cook over high heat until reduced by half.  This is where I lost track of time and let it go waaaaay too long.  It still had good taste but was very concentrated...

Heat the grill to high heat and grill the swordfish for 5 minutes on each side.  Spoon the reduced marinade over swordfish and Voila!  Usually when you stuff chicken or fish it ends up being with cheese or something heavy and fatty so I really liked that this was stuffed with arugula and tasted really light.  None of the mistakes I made ruined this meal so I was happy with that...but it will be so much better the next time I make it!  I just did a skewar of bell peppers and onions on the grill with no sauce as our side that night....

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