Tag Archives: dinner

Mini Lasagna

 

I am a sucker for all things mini.  You know..like things I can just pop in my mouth and devour instantly. 🙂  When I first found these cute, compact mini lasagna bites,(here) I knew my life would never be the same. But it took me awhile to actually make them.  It’s been so warm until recently that the thought of cooking in the oven didn’t appeal to me.  However..cooler weather has arrived and these, my friends, were first on my list of things to make.

I don’t know about you, but sometimes when I think about making lasagna overwhelms me.  All the layers, the long process..it’s just too much.  What I love about these is how simple they are to make. Let’s get started, shall we?

The Ingredients:

12 oz raw ground turkey (I used ground lean hamburger.)
¼ tsp salt, divided
¼ tsp pepper
1 cup chopped onion
½ cup chopped mushrooms (we aren’t mushroom people so didn’t use these.)
14.5 oz can crushed tomatoes, or tomato sauce
2 cloves garlic, minced
3 tsp dried oregano, divided
½ tsp dried basil
1 ½ cups part skim ricotta cheese
24 small square wonton wrappers (found near the tofu in the refrigerated section of the produce dept)
1 1/2 cups shredded mozzarella cheese

The How-To:

*Preheat oven to 375ºF.
* Heat a large skillet over medium heat.
*Add the turkey (or hamburger), onions, mushrooms, salt, and pepper. Crumble the meat and saute the mixture  until it is cooked through.
*Add the garlic and stir constantly for 30 seconds.
*Add the crushed tomatoes and 2 tsp of oregano.
*Bring the pan to a gentle boil.
*Reduce the heat to low and simmer for 10 minutes.
*Remove from heat and set aside.

*In a separate large bowl, combine the ricotta, a pinch of salt and pepper, the remaining teaspoon of oregano, and the basil. Stir to mix well. Set aside.

*Coat a 12-cup muffin tin with nonstick cooking spray. Place 1 wonton wrapper into each of the 12 cups, pressing firmly in the bottom of the cup and up the sides. (The wonton wrappers are a bit tricky to separate, but using only ONE per layer is the way to go.  Trust me. :D)

*Using half of the ricotta mixture, divide it among the 12 muffin cups.
*Spoon half of the meat/tomato sauce, spoon it evenly over each of the ricotta filled cups. Sprinkle with 2 tsp of mozzarella.
*Gently press another wonton wrapper on top of the mozzarella layer. (again..only ONE)
*Repeat the process by distributing the remaining ricotta, then the remaining meat/tomato sauce, and finally the rest of the shredded mozzarella.

*Bake for 10 minutes, or until the cheese has melted and wonton wrappers are crispy.
*When the cups have cooled, it’s time to devour. 😀

One of the best things about these, is that you can use them for dinner, lunch, an appetizer or a side.  Which, to me, means you can eat them all day long. 😀

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Easier then easy Chicken Kababs

**NOTE** Yes. You are looking at the kabab uncooked.  Sadly, we ate them all before I could get a ‘cooked’ picture. What? They were too good. Couldn’t help it. 🙂

Summer means BBQ. BBQ means Kabab.  Kabab means yum!! Not that long ago I was having a little summer get together with the Bunco group I’m in.  I had no idea what to serve for these lovely ladies. I needed something that was easy, that would feed a lot (there was 12 of us), and that would taste fantastic.  Inspiration hit and Kababs found itself on the menu.  So glad that it did, too! These were delicious! Made with just a few ingredients and a bit of patience, these babies came together quickly and easily. That’s my kind of meal.

The Ingredients:

Chicken, cubed ( I used 1 bag of chicken tenderloins. You can adjust it to fit your family size or gathering)
1 can coconut milk (I used the ‘lite’ version)
1/3 cup soy sauce
2 (of each) red, orange and yellow pepper. Cut in big chunks
2 cans pineapple chunks, juice drained and reserved
1 package skewer sticks
1 onion, cut into chunk pieces

The How-to:

*place skewer sticks in water for at least an hour to help prevent burning while on the BBQ
*open the canned pineapple, drain the juice into a large bowl for marinating, place the pineapple chunks into a separate bowl.
*add the coconut milk, soy sauce to the reserved pineapple juice.  Set aside.
*cut up chicken into chunks, about 1 inch thick. Place them in the coconut milk mixture to marinate.  (over night is best, but if you don’t have that much time, at least 3 hours.)
*cut up peppers (1 1/2 inch size cubes) and place in another large bowl
*cut up onion and place in another bowl
(so basically, you have 1 huge bowl that the marinade and chicken are in. 1 bowl for the pineapple chunks, 1 bowl for the peppers and 1 bowl for the onions.  For me, it just makes it easier to have things in separate bowls, but if you want to combine the veggies, go right ahead.)

When you’re ready to assemble:
*taking one skewer stick at a time, thread the chicken, pineapple, onion and peppers in an alternating pattern until the stick is full.  (Make sure to leave about 1/2 inch between each bit of food and 1 inch on both ends of the stick.)
*place them over a baking dish or cookie sheet as the marinade will drip off the kababs

*turn your BBQ to medium high
*when it is hot enough, lower the heat to medium low
*place each kabab on the grill
*cook 3-5 minutes on each side
*after 20 minutes, check chicken to make sure it’s cooked all the way through. If so..you’re done. If not, keep it on the grill an additional few minutes until it is fully cooked.

Wa-lah!!  This chicken kabab is super tender from marinating it overnight.  The flavor is a subtle sweetness from the coconut milk and the pineapple juice.  Mixed with the soy sauce..you have a delicious combination of flavors in your mouth.  The peppers and onion add a nice crunch to finish it off.

The only thing that takes time is threading the chicken and veggies on the skewer stick.  I have to admit, I am not a fan of doing this. However, it’s worth it. I promise. 🙂

Oh…and next time, I’ll be sure to get a ‘after’ picture…if we can wait that long before scarfing these down. 😀

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Hawaiian BBQ Sandwich

It’s Summer!!!! And Summer means yummy, delicious food that you cook on the grill. No need to get your house all hot and …well..suffocating..when you can easily go outside (where it’s equally suffocating and hot ;D), and make dinner on the good ‘ol BBQ.  (me secret new BFF, just in case you’re wondering..)

This recipe was brought to my attention a few years ago.  I don’t even remember where it came from, so I can’t give credit where credit is due. I will however, let you know that despite what my little  man believes, I didn’t invent this recipe.  (I know..my picky eater LOVES this meal..that’s saying volumes! Volumes, people!!)

Basically, it’s chicken marinated in a sweet/tangy orange sauce, then grilled to perfection.  Topped with tomatoes, red onions and grilled pineapple..yeah..it’s amazing. 

Ingredients:
Chicken (1 breast or 2  tenderloin for each sandwich)
1/2 cup orange juice
1 can pineapple ringe, drained, juice reserved
Reserved pineapple juice (from above)
4 Tablespoons soy sauce
Thin sandwich buns (I use Sandwich thins. Yum!!)
Lettuce
Tomato, sliced thin
Red onion, sliced thin
BBQ sauce, ketchup, mustard, mayo..optional

The How-To:

*In a large zip-lock bag, place the chicken pieces, orange juice, soy sauce, and pineapple juice.  Let marinade at least 4 hours..overnight is best, though.

When ready to grill:
*Heat grill to medium heat.  Place chicken on grill and cook until no longer pink..about 5 minutes on each side. (For the tenderloins, it might be a shorter time, for thicker chicken breast pieces, it will be longer.)
*While chicken is on the grill, start slicing the tomatos, and onions.
*When chicken is finished cooking, arrange lettuce on a thin bread bun.
*Add chicken, tomatoes, and onion.
*Finish off with a slice of pineapple (grilled if desired.)
*Place the top of the bun on and enjoy!

See how easy? Nohing to it.  And for reals..this is a taste of freshness and fruit, mixed with the heartiness of chicken.  Ohh-la-la, I love it!!

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Filed under chicken, dinnertime, lunch, sandwich, sandwich

Back to Basics..Garden Salad

Summer is here!!!  Let’s give a shout out to Mr. Sun and deep blue skies, shall we? We shall!!  I’m so excited to see the sky. For reals. It’s been a loooong winter here, and summer is just what I needed to boost my attitude and feeling like I’m living in a snow cave.  But, we won’t talk about that.  Instead, we’ll talk about a simple, basic food that is always one of my favorites. (besides chocolate and anything dipped in sugar. :D) 

Enter: Garden Salad.

A garden salad is just that..foods that come from a garden.  Lettuce, cucumbers, carrots, tomatoes, onions..you get the picture, right?  When I’m hungry, in a rush, but want something that’s good for me, I usually turn to the trusty garden salad.  Loaded with fresh veggies..you just know you’re doing something good for yourself.

 

The best thing about this salad is that you can put virtually anything in it.  I tend to stay on the calmer side and just use the basics.  Tomatoes and cucumbers with little chunks of chicken. They are my friend.  I want to marry them.

But if you’re feeling a little wild, add boiled egg slices, maybe a few sunflower seeds or even some bacon bits.  But for me..I like it plain and simple, and oh so good for you. 🙂

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Taco..Pizza…

It’s taco..and pizza combined.  That is genius.  Who thought of this idea? I’d like to shake their hand and give them the key to my..fridge. 🙂  I don’t know about you, but sometimes coming up with a dinner idea that everyone will like (not even love..just like) is hard.  So when the mention of a taco pizza fluttered into my mind, I knew it was something we needed to try.  Sure enough, it was a pleaser.  The boys in the family liked it because it was a pizza.  The girls liked it because it was a taco salad sitting nice and proper on top of a mouth-watering crust.   It was a win/win for everyone. 

For the crust, I used this recipe. (My favorite recipe for pizza crust found here)

For Pizza Crust
Ingredients:

1 1/4 cups warm water
2 teaspoons instant yeast
2 tablespoons sugar
1 tablespoon honey
1 tablespoon olive oil
2 teaspoons salt
1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
1 1/2 cups whole wheat flour
1/4 teaspoon garlic powder

The How-To:
* In a large mixing bowl (or in the bowl of a stand mixer), mix the water, yeast, sugar, honey and oil. (If using active dry yeast, increase the amount of yeast to 2 3/4 teaspoons and proof the yeast in the water until foamy before mixing in the sugar, honey and oil.) 

*Mix in 1 cup flour and the salt. Continue mixing in all the remaining flour until you get a nice, soft dough. Knead until dough is soft and smooth, about 10 minutes by hand or 5 minutes with a stand mixer.

*Shape the dough into a ball and place in a lightly greased bowl cover with damp cloth.  (I usually turn my oven on the lowest temperature while I’m making the dough, then turn it off when I’m finished with the dough.  Then, I cover the dough, while still in the mixing bowl, with a damp cloth and place it in the warm oven.  It rises beautifully.)

*Let rise for an hour.  Punch down and roll out (into the size and shape your pizza) onto a floured surface.  Transfer to a pizza stone or cookie sheet

*Bake at 450* for 20 minutes or until golden brown and crispy to your liking. (I like my crust crisp with a hint of softness, so I usually cook it a bit longer..)

*Take crust out of the oven and set aside

The Toppings:

This is where it gets really fun.  You can top your pizza with anything! 😀 I give you full permission to be crazy here and pile it high with things like:
Ground hamburger or turkey, browned/drained
Chopped tomatoes
Diced onions
Green peppers (diced)
Shredded Cheddar Cheese
Black olives, sliced
Shredded lettuce
Sour cream
Guacamole
The possibilities are endless and you can’t go wrong.  Anything that sounds good on a taco..add it. Go ahead. You can do it. 🙂

The How-to: (toppings)
*Brown hamburger or turkey meat. Drain and set aside
*Add 1 packet taco seasoning mix (or your own homemade version of taco spice mix) to the hamburger or turkey. Mix well. (For more punch, add more spice..we like subtle flavors so one packet works well for us.)
*Layer the meat on top of the pizza crust
*Top with the rest of your toppings

No need to place back in the oven, unless you really want to.  (If you do want to bake it a bit, don’t add lettuce, sour cream, guacamole or tomatoes until you remove it.  The lettuce will wilt, sour cream will turn runny…just don’t do it. Wait until after you remove it from the oven to add all the goodness.) 

And there you have it. Taco Pizza.  Two great meals combined to make one fantastic crowd pleaser.

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Garlic Dinner Rolls

This happened on accident.  Should I even admit that? 

I was making some pizza dough the other night for dinner (that blog post is soon to come. :D), and had some leftover dough. “Hmmm..what to do with this?”  I thought.  Well, how about make some garlic bread rolls?!  Brilliant!  I’ve always seen these rolls, the kind that have three cute little ‘puffs’ that some how come together while baking and just look..amazing. Yeah, that’s what I was going for.  These might not look like that, but boy..do they deliver in flavor! 😀

(This recipe is for pizza dough that I found here, which I also used for these rolls. Fantastic, favorite site that I just can’t stay away from. :D)

Ingredients:

1 1/4 cups warm water
2 teaspoons instant yeast
2 tablespoons sugar
1 tablespoon honey
1 tablespoon olive oil
2 teaspoons salt
1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
1 1/2 cups whole wheat flour
1/4 teaspoon garlic powder

The How-To:
* In a large mixing bowl (or in the bowl of a stand mixer), mix the water, yeast, sugar, honey and oil. (If using active dry yeast, increase the amount of yeast to 2 3/4 teaspoons and proof the yeast in the water until foamy before mixing in the sugar, honey and oil.) 

*Mix in 1 cup flour and the salt. Continue mixing in all the remaining flour until you get a nice, soft dough. Knead until dough is soft and smooth, about 10 minutes by hand or 5 minutes with a stand mixer.

*Shape the dough into a ball and place in a lightly greased bowl and cover tightly (with a lid or plastic wrap).

***this is where I switch from making pizza dough, to garlic rolls**

*Let rise for about an hour

*Punch down dough.  Taking ‘pinch’ sized pieces (I just kind of tore a piece of dough and rolled it into a 1/2 tablespoon sized ball…if that makes sense.), and roll them into small balls.

*Place 3 balls in each well-greased muffin tin.

*Let rise for 30 minutes so they get nice and puffy looking. (think..marshmellow. Yes. Absolutely think that.) 

*Bake for 15-20 minutes at 350* or until golden brown.

*Rub the tops of the rolls with a little butter

*After baking, top with parmesan cheese for a little extra flavor. (And I know you like flavor. :D)

Wah-lah! Garlic dinner rolls. Perfect paired up with soup, salad, pizza, lasagna, anything, really.  You can omit the garlic or..if you’re an animal..use cinnamon and sugar! I dare you! 😀 Rawr!

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Bacon and Broccoli Alfredo

Isn’t there something comforting about a yummy plate of creamy, noodle-y deliciousness? Especially when bacon is involved. Yes, I think so too. The other day I was wondering what I could make for dinner. I knew time was short, we were going to have a busy night and spending a lot of time in the kitchen just wasn’t going to work. However, I wanted something other than toast. SO..I went on a search to find something quick, tasty, and pleasing to all members in my family.  Enter: Bacon and Broccoli Alfredo.  And, you guessed it, I found it here on one of my ‘go-to’ sites.  (If you haven’t checked out her blog..DO. The pictures will have you drooling in no time.  Her recipe is below..)

Ingredients:

  • 1 pound penne pasta
  • 2 cups chopped broccoli (about 2 heads)
  • 5 slices bacon, diced
  • 1/2 cup (1 stick) butter
  • 1 cup heavy cream
  • 1 1/2 cups grated Parmesan cheese (not the powdery kind!)
  • 1/2 teaspoon garlic powder
  • salt and pepper, to taste
  • grilled chicken (optional)

The How-To:

*Bring a large stock pot of water to a rolling boil. Boil pasta according to package directions.

*While the pasta is boiling, fry the diced bacon until crisp. Add in the broccoli florets and cook, stirring occasionally, for about 5 minutes or until they are tender-crisp.

*Meanwhile, in a small sauce pan, add the butter and heavy cream until heated through and butter is melted. Add in the Parmesan cheese, garlic powder, salt, and pepper. Stir until the cheese is thoroughly melted and sauce is a smooth, creamy consistency.

*Drain pasta when done and add to a large serving bowl. Pour in the bacon and broccoli and toss it in with the penne. Pour the Alfredo sauce over top of the penne and stir until well combined.

*Serve topped with sliced grilled chicken, if desired.

I’m thinking that if you’re not a fan of broccoli..green peas, maybe even corn, would work perfectly. Or..if you’re really wild and crazy, throw in some asparagus! 😀  The bacon gives it a nice smokey taste, the noodles are soft and perfect, while the alfredo sauce adds the creamy spunk.  All combined, this meal is Amazing! (Yes, a giant  “A” was in order..) If you prefer this as a side dish..I think that would be ok, too. 🙂  (Is there ever a time when I’ll turn down a side dish that involves bacon? I think not. )

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Coconut Chicken with Apricot Sauce

I am not a fan of coconut. But I couldn’t resist trying this recipe.  Maybe it’s because the looooong winter weather has overstayed it’s welcome and the call of coconut made me think of someplace tropic. Whatever the reason, I wanted to try it and I am SO glad I did. Fantasticly moist chicken with a crunchy coconut topping that you dip into a zesty apricot sauce. Oh my, I’m having a hard time finishing this post instead of running into the kitchen to whip this up again. 😀  I found this recipe here, at Pennies on a Platter. (Fun website and fantastic photos. Makes me want to eat the screen. No joke.)

Now, we dipped the chicken in the sauce, other’s might want to drizzle the sauce over the chicken. Either way, I’m betting it will taste out-of-this-world amazing. 😀

Ingredients:
1 egg
1 cup sweetened coconut flakes
1/2 cup flour
1/2 teaspoon garlic powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon black pepper
4 boneless chicken breasts
1/2 cup unsalted butter, melted
1/4 cup apricot preserves
2 tablespoons Dijon mustard

The How-To:
*Preheat the oven to 400˚F.  Line a baking sheet with parchment paper.
*Lightly beat the egg in a medium bowl; set aside.  Mix the coconut, flour, garlic powder, salt and pepper in a shallow bowl. 
*Working with one chicken breast at a time, dip the chicken in the bowl with the beaten egg and then coat with the coconut mixture. 
*Place on the baking sheet. 
* Once all chicken breasts are coated and on the baking sheet, evenly drizzle with the melted butter.  Bake for 30 to 40 minutes, flipping once halfway.

The Apricot Sauce:
* mix the apricot preserves and the Dijon mustard in a small bowl.  Chill in the refrigerator until ready to serve. (note..I didn’t have any Dijon mustard, so I 1/4 teaspoon Catalina salad dressing. Ohh la la..I’m in love with this sauce!)

Freezer Friendly:  After baking the chicken, let cool completely then freeze in a freezer bag for up to 1 month.  To reheat, bake in a preheated oven at 400˚F for 20 minutes.

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Pizza..in a boat.

Now, that’s what I’m talkin’ about!  All the flavor from a pizza, crammed into a healthy zucchini. I’ll take seven, please. 😀  We just tried this meal for the first time over the weekend. I was in a hurry and we were starving, realized I had everything for this recipe and Boom! Pizza in a boat.  What’s not to love? By scooping out the insides of a zucchini, then mixing those same insides with spaghetti sauce, a bit cheese and Italian Seasoning spice..you’ve got yourself one healthy, tasty alternative to crusty pizza.  The best part? You can add any toppings you want. Olives, onions, peppers, even some pepperoni or ground turkey.  Either way..it’s one yummy treat.  I first spotted this delicious recipe here. She has great step-by-step photos to show you exactly how  to put these bad boys together.  (Her recipe is below)

Ingredients:
Zucchini (each zucchini will make 2 pizzas)
1 can of spaghetti sauce, or homemade spaghetti sauce
1/4 cup. Parmesean cheese, shredded
1 tsp. Italian Seasoning spice blend
2 cup. Mozzerella cheese, shredded
Optional: olives, peppers, onions, any pizza topping your heart desires

The How-To:
*Pre-heat oven to 425*
*Wash zucchini well to get any dirt off
*Slice each zucchini lengthwise
*Using a spoon, scoop out the flesh, or inside, of the zucchini. 
*Set aside the scooped out zucchini flesh
*Place the scooped out zucchini halves on a baking sheet
*Dump the reserved zucchini flesh out onto a cutting board and chop it into smaller pieces
* Return the chopped pieces to the bowl and stir in the tomato sauce, parmesan cheese and Italian seasoning.
* Refill the zucchini halves with the prepared mixture.
*Top with mozzarella cheese (and any additional pizza toppings).
*Place in the oven and bake for approximately 20 minutes or until the cheese has melted and is slightly browned. The longer the zucchini are in the oven, the softer they’ll be so if you like firmer zucchini, bake for a shorter amount of time. 

Ours were baked for about 15 minutes and came out perfect.  Even the kids liked them, which in my book, means a winner recipe. 😀  So quick and easy to put together, they not only make a dinner meal, but a fantastic lunch as well.

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Homemade Yeast Rolls

Yeast. Such a scary word. I admit..I wanted to run and hide in the closet instead of making something with the ‘Y’ word.  It’s intimidating. It has to be perfect or it won’t work. Ahhh..I have since learned the secret to making anything with yeast, especially rolls.  And I’ll tell you that, in a minute.  (unless, of course, you want to bribe me with chocolate..) This is my favorite, favorite recipe for homemade rolls.  So soft and light, full of fresh-baked bread flavor.  I found this recipe here, at Mel’s Kitchen Cafe. (yep..you know..one of my favorite food sites. Go check it out, you’ll love it.) First, the ingredients..

Ingredients:
*Makes about one dozen rolls

1 1/2 cups warm water
3/4 tablespoon instant yeast (or 1 tablespoon active dry yeast)
2 tablespoons granulated sugar
2 tablespoons canola oil
1 teaspoon salt
4 cups all-purpose flour, give or take a few tablespoons (my dough usually only takes about 3  1/2 cups)

The How-To:

In the bowl of a stand mixer or in a large bowl by hand, combine the warm water, yeast, sugar, oil, salt and 2 cups of the flour (if you are using active dry yeast instead of instant yeast, let the yeast proof in the warm water and sugar for about 3-5 minutes until it is foamy and bubbly before adding the oil, salt and flour). Begin mixing and continue to add the rest of the flour gradually until the dough has pulled away from the sides of the bowl. Judge the dough not by the amount of flour called for in the recipe but in how the dough feels. (LOVE this little tip from Mel. 😀)  The dough should be soft and smooth but still slightly tacky to the touch.

Knead the dough in the stand mixer or by hand until it is very smooth and elastic, about 5 minutes in a stand mixer or 8-10 minutes by hand. Lightly spray a large bowl with cooking spray and place the dough in the bowl. Cover the bowl with lightly greased plastic wrap. Let the dough rise until it has doubled (this usually takes about an hour).

Lightly punch down the dough and turn it out onto a lightly greased countertop. Divide the dough into 12 equal pieces and form the dough into round balls. Place the rolls on a lightly greased or silpat-lined baking sheet about an inch or two apart. Cover the rolls with lightly greased plastic wrap taking care not to pin the plastic wrap under the baking sheet or else the rolls will flatten while rising. Let the plastic wrap gently hang over the sides of the pan to fully cover the rolls but not press them down. Let the rolls rise until doubled, about 45 minutes.

Preheat the oven to 400 degrees. Bake for 12-14 minutes until lightly browned and cooked through.

Ok, now..here’s the secret that I use when I bake any kind of bread that uses yeast. The temperature of the water that you use.  I know. How could something so simple matter. My oh my..it matters. BIG TIME.  If it’s too hot..it kills the yeast.  If it’s not hot enough, the yeast can’t be..activated? (I know that’s not the right word, but…you know what I mean.)  A friend of mine told me the way to tell if the water is the right temperature is to run your hands through it before you put it in the mixer.  If it is ‘almost uncomfortable’..then it’s the perfect temperature.  Too hot on your hands..too hot for the yeast.  Too cold for your hands..too cold for the yeast.  But if it’s ‘almost too hot, almost uncomfortable..it’s perfect.’  And you know what? She was absolutely right. 🙂 (thanks, Velvet! :D)

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