Garlic Paprika Chicken Legs

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Since I’m quickly approaching the last month of pregnancy, you get to hear all the wonderful excitement that’s flooding through our house! I cannot believe May 9th is so close. With all the excitement of nearing the end of my pregnancy comes exhaustion and down right laziness…especially when it comes to cooking. I go through phases where I love cooking and enjoy it so much and have an abundance (well maybe not abundance) of energy. Then there are days when we decide to go out and skip the prep, cooking, and cleaning of dinner. This recipe is great! It has minimal clean up and prep work. I love a recipe that I can start when I walk in from work and then leave it to bake. Low maintenance is KEY! Steam up some broccoli, put a pot of rice on, or reheat leftover sweet potatoes from the night before and you’ve got your side covered!
I went though a phase where I was buying chicken legs once a week. I loved the tender chicken that would nearly melt in your mouth after baking in the oven. I’ve always been a fan of chicken wings, but yet again, would often run into an issue after eating them. The heavy sauce, deep fried grease, and low quality chicken made me feel gross after eating. These garlic paprika chicken legs are much healthier without compromising taste. I hope you’ll enjoy this EASY week night dinner as much as I do!
Ingredients:
6 chicken legs
1/4 cup olive oil
4 cloves garlic, minced
1 tbsp. smoked paprika (you can use other paprika…I just love the smoked)
1/2 lemon juiced
salt and pepper to taste
Directions:
1. Preheat oven to 425 degrees.
2. In a small sauce pan, add oil and minced garlic. Cook on medium heat for 1-2 minutes or until the garlic is fragrant. Turn off heat and stir in smoked paprika. Let cool slightly.
3. Generously sprinkle salt and pepper all over chicken legs and place in a 9×13 pan.
4. Add oil mixture to the chicken legs, being sure the mixture coats all the parts of the chicken.
5. Bake in preheated oven for 40 minutes. After 20 minutes, turn chicken and spoon sauce over chicken.
6. Broil on high for 5 minutes.
7. Add lemon juice over the chicken legs before serving.
Serve with rice or vegetables.

Carrot Bread

Hi friends! We are almost done with the longest, least favorite, month of the year…MARCH! I always dread this month because its the pit of the winter when all we want to do is pull out our spring clothes and dance in the sun. This year, I really can’t complain about this month. We were hit with a monumental winter storm that gave us two consecutive snow days. We’ve been putting more work into the baby’s nursery and preparing for his arrival. I’m going to be blessed by the presence of dear friends this week that I haven’t seen in a while and surrounded by family for my baby shower. All-in-all, this month has been pretty great. Finding the bright side in this cold, winter month hasn’t been too difficult since I’ve had some pretty amazing blessings this month!

I’ve stumbled across many recipes for carrot cake but I’ve never actually made one. I don’t really have a good excuse, it just got lost in the recipes-to-make world. I decided to give this carrot bread a whirl. I’ve been C R A V I N G sweets like nobody’s business so I’m trying to combat that and still eat healthy. This recipe is sweetened with raw honey . I found an amazing raw honey at my local grocery store that I’m so in love with I’ve been tempted to eat it right from the jar. I told you—such a sweet tooth these days…it’s awful! Since carrots offer a natural sweetness, I’m totally satisfied with the taste, texture, and desire for something sweet.

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Ingredients:
2 cups almond flour (meal)
3 tsp coconut flour
1/2 grated carrots
3 eggs
1/3 cup coconut oil (melted)
3 tbsp raw honey
1 tsp vanilla extract
1/4 tsp salt
1/2 tsp cinnamon
1 tsp baking soda
1 tsp baking powder
1/3 cup chopped walnuts

Directions:
1. Preheat oven to 350.
2. In a large mixing bowl combine the dry ingredients: almond flour, coconut flour, salt, cinnamon, baking soda and baking powder.
3. In a separate bowl, mix the wet ingredients: eggs, raw honey, vanilla extract, and coconut oil.
4. Slowly incorporate the wet and dry ingredients. Gently fold in the carrots and walnuts.
5. In a greased loaf pan, place the batter in and cook for 25-20 minutes.

Enjoy:)

Kale Salad with Cod

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I know this isn’t a very wintery recipe, but I crave fresh light meals once in a while! Don’t get me wrong, I do love my hearty comfort foods, but this is a nice change. I tweaked this a few times until I liked the combo of vegetables and the tangy-ness of the dressing. I do want to advise you to use wild caught and American fish. Fish is one of those things that sound healthy, but often will have sneaky additives that you don’t want in your body. I’ve been reading horror stories about tilapia and other commonly farm raised fish. If you are lucky enough to reside near the coast, I not only envy you for obvious reasons, but you have the advantage of enjoying fresh fish. As an upstate resident, don’t take it for granted!

Switch up your winter routine with a fresh twist on dinner tonight. Oh and did I mention this is FAST and EASY?? I guarantee it will be on your table within a half hour. Plus it will be such a great leftover lunch if you happen to have any leftovers!

Ingredients:
1 lb. fresh cod or salmon
1 lemon
salt and pepper
4-5 cups baby kale
1 tbsp. olive oil
2 tbsp. balsamic vinegar
1 tbsp. honey
1 tbsp. dijon mustard
1 apple, chopped
1 tomato, chopped
1 cucumber, chopped
1 sweet potato, roasted (or poked with a fork and microwave on high for 3-4 minutes)
1 avocado, chopped

Directions:
1. Juice 1/2 the lemon and add to the cod or salmon. Sprinkle the cod or salmon with salt and pepper. Broil the cod or salmon in the oven for 5-7 minutes or until the fish is cooked through.
2. In a small bowl, prepare the dressing by combining the olive oil, balsamic vinegar, honey and dijon mustard. Set aside.
3. Prepare the salad by mixing the baby kale, apple, tomato, cucumber, sweet potato, and avocado. Add the dressing to the salad.
4. Once the fish is done, top the salad with the fish-serve and enjoy!

Sheet Pan Rosemary Balsamic Chicken and Veggies

March has certainly lived up to its reputation of coming in like a lion. We have had warm weather, snow weather, and frigid weather. No matter what the weather, time is trucking along and I can rest easy knowing spring is right around the corner. And who doesn’t get comforted by the idea that spring is coming?!
There are some recipes that I just really enjoy making. I don’t love cooking every time I’m in the kitchen but I do enjoy this recipe. It is easy to clean-up and the smell is so aromatic you’ll be counting down the seconds until the oven timer goes off.
I’ve seen many sheet pan meals online but haven’t quite liked them enough to make them. I discovered a recipe similar to this one and thought to myself how much I loved every ingredient listed. This led me to this deliciousness. There is something so satisfying about putting everything onto a sheet pan and calling it a day! Not to mention…the satisfaction of knowing you’re getting protein, vegetables, and bacon all dressed with balsamic dressing. As much as I love balsamic, it can be quite overpowering. This recipe is a great balance of flavor (from the balsamic) and texture (from the apples, brussel sprouts, and onion) that it will please any crowd. I’ve also been cautious with sheet pans because I don’t like eating food that all tastes the same. This does not do that! I can’t explain it but it goes together so nicely without blending too much and loosing the uniqueness of each character. This is great alone or you can make a pot of rice or quinoa to accompany the dish!

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Ingredients:
1.5 lb. chicken breast or thighs, cut into bite size pieces
12 oz. brussel sprouts, halved
6 slices bacon or turkey bacon, chopped
1 small red onion, chopped
2 granny smith apples, cored and chopped
1/2 cup olive oil
1/4 cup balsamic vinegar
3 cloves of garlic
juice of 1/2 lemon
3-4 springs of fresh rosemary, chopped

Directions:
1. Prepare the marinade by combing the olive oil, balsamic vinegar, garlic, lemon and 2 springs of the rosemary in a blender. Combine until smooth.
2. Place the chicken along with most of the marinade in a large bowl to marinade. You can marinade the chicken for 15 minutes or a full 24 hours if you have the time.
3. Place the brussel sprouts, bacon, red onion,apple, and chicken onto a large sheet pan. Drizzle any remaining dressing over the pan.
4. Bake in a preheated oven of 375 degrees and cook for 25 minutes. Increase the temperature to 425 for 10 minutes to brown and crisp everything up!
5. Top with remaining rosemary serve and enjoy:)

Paleo New England Clam Chowder

We went to Chowderfest in Saratoga a few weeks ago and I’ve had a hankering for chowder ever since. I have to admit, I did indulge a bit while I was there, all for inspiration of course;) I’d love to say everything went great and I felt fabulous afterwords but that wasn’t the case. I would get excited when I saw a vegan or gluten free chowder, but knew the likelihood of it being free of everything I try to avoid was slim to none. I’ve been so disappointed lately of the restaurants not having JUST what I’m looking for. Oh well I guess I’ll just have to open up my own:)

Okay so now for the happy ending…my newest creation that is LIFE CHANGING. Okay not life changing, but it’s opening me up to a whole new world that I can thank a nut for. I’ve always been intimidated to make my own “cashew cream” and often steered clear of recipes that used them. I decided to take a risk and make this paleo chowder and give it a whirl. I not only loved how the chowder turned out but want to put cashew cream in EVERYTHING. Don’t be intimated like I was and neglect to step out of the box for so long. I’ve got a few tips for you to make sure yours turns out just as good as mine did. I dare you to invite over your friends and family and see if they can tell a difference. Trust me, I’ve tasted a lot of chowder lately! Being pregnant, I have definitely indulged much more than I have in the past few years, but I always end up paying for it. It was such a relief to make something so delicious and savory and healthy! …and for it to be a comfort food perfect for these cold winter days. This is such a fun recipe to make and it will have your chowder on the table in an hour tops.
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Serves: 4-6 people
Ingredients:

1 cup raw cashews
1 1/4 cup water divided
3-6.5 ounces chopped clams and their juice ( be careful of hidden ingredients and buy just clams in their juices)
3 cups seafood stock ( again…be careful of what else may be lurking in this! I found a great one at Whole Foods by the brand Imagine)
3 stalks of celery, diced
2 medium carrots, peeled and diced
1 medium onion, finely diced
1 lb red potatoes, peeled and diced
2 tablespoons tapioca starch
2 bay leaves
2 tablespoons coconut oil
salt and pepper to taste

Directions:
1. Boil 3/4 cup of water. In a small bowl, place cashews and boiling water to soak. Set aside for later.
2. In a large sauce pan, place prepared celery, carrots, and onion along with 2 tablespoons of coconut oil. Cook on medium heat for 5-7 minutes to soften. Add salt and pepper.
3. Add the juice from the clams, seafood stock, and potatoes and bring to a boil. Reduce to a simmer for 10-12 minutes.
4. Meanwhile, prepare the cashew cream. Drain cashews and place in a blender with 1/2 cup of fresh water. Blend for 1-2 minutes or until the cashews are completely creamy.
5. In a small bowl, place tapioca starch. Add 1 cup of the chowder broth to the bowl. Mix completely until smooth (I did this in the blender to be sure there was no clumps at all).
6. Add the cashew cream, tapioca combined with broth, and clams into the saucepan. Remove bay leaves. Simmer until warm throughout, about 3-4 minutes. Add additional salt and pepper as desired. Top with fresh parsley or crispy bacon. Enjoy:)

Peanut Butter Heart-Shaped Cookies

With Valentines Day right around the corner, it’s hard not to be bombard with “love”. By “love” I mean, the artificial, buy a large stuffed animal, eat expensive food and be stressed to plan the perfect night kind of “love” that truly couldn’t be further from how love is meant to be expressed. Not trying to sound like such a cynic, but we are surrounded by such false ideas of love that I cannot help but long for true love, which I’ve found only to be built on a foundation with the true God. So although I don’t see anything wrong with celebrating the ones you love, don’t get caught up in the artificial nature of it all with its fleeting nature and empty rewards. We get so caught up with our busy lives, it is nice to take some time and enjoy the people who bring us the most happiness.

I know I post many peanut butter desserts…but I enjoy them so. And peanut butter is just the greatest consistency when it comes to gluten free cooking. This is a marriage of two recipes, one of my own peanut butter cookies and one inspired from a vegan recipe. I’ve modified my original recipe slightly but the ingredients are the same. I don’t usually cook with this much sugar in a recipe…but I wanted the consistency to be good for molding the hearts. I had so much fun making these cookies and they are just so cute when they are done! You will likely have all these ingredients in your pantry or fridge so really…go get baking:)

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Ingredients:
1 cup of creamy peanut butter ( I used almond butter and peanut butter 1/2 cup of each)
1 cup brown sugar
1 large egg
1 teaspoon vanilla
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 cup baking chocolate (I used Enjoy Life chips)

Directions:

  • Preheat oven to 350. Line two baking sheets with parchment paper.
  • In a large mixing bowl, mix peanut butter, brown sugar, egg, vanilla, and baking soda until completely combined.
  • Roll two tablespoon-sized balls and combine them together to make a heart (this was a trial and error for me-in the end, you  just need to make small heart shaped cookies so whatever method you find best–do:)
  • With a fork, press down on both sides of the heart.
  • Bake for 8-10 minutes.
  • Once the cookies are cool, make the chocolate. With a double broiler, melt the baking chocolate until smooth.
  • Dip the cookies in the chocolate covering half of the heart.
  • Cool and enjoy!

Makes about 10-12 cookies

Lemon Chicken Thighs with Risotto

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After an e x t r e m e l y long month of January (it was beginning to feel 3 months long) I was skipping into February with a smile on my face. It’s been a hard balance to not wish away the months of pregnancy and preparation for baby when all I want is to hold this precious miracle. And now we are nearly ten days into February and baby boy will be here in just three months, pending if he wants to arrive on his due date or not!!!

My food journey throughout this pregnancy has been an interesting one to say the least. I always thought being pregnant would give me drive to be healthy unlike ever before, but boy was a wrong. You won’t ever hear me judging you if you need to wake up at 2 in the morning to eat a cheese stick and cereal. My love for comfort foods has blossomed into a need for some old staples with a new twist. Which brings us to this recipe. Get ready…

I can’t remember the last time I made a recipe, ate it, then went straight to the computer to write it down. This recipe should inspire you to walk, no run, to your nearest grocery store to purchase these ingredients so you can enjoy this for dinner tonight. This risotto is so full of flavor and richness, you won’t believe its dairy free. I think this may be the best risotto I’ve ever tasted, and I just want everyone I know and love to try it. Chicken thighs are the chicken rejects that should be given more attention than they do. I think choosing chicken thighs with bone and skin is a must for this recipe. The skin just traps the moisture into the chicken and it becomes so tender and full of flavor. Letting the skin crisp up in the oven for a final broil makes for a delicious crust.
This recipe takes a little bit of love and time, but it will taste like you’ve been slaving away all day, when really it only takes an hour or so. I suggest prepping everything first before you start cooking since it all moves pretty quickly in the beginning to ensure everything comes out.
Promise me you’ll let me know if you make it! And invite a friend over so you can enjoy a good meal with friends, the best way to dine!

Chicken
1 1/2-2 lbs. chicken thighs (bone in, skin on)
1 tablespoon lemon zest
1 teaspoon pepper
1 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon dried basil
2 tablespoons coconut oil

Risotto
2 tablespoons coconut oil
4 gloves garlic, minced
1 onion finely chopped
1 1/2 cup arborio rice
1/2 cup dry white wine
1 cup milk ( I used unsweetened coconut milk)
4 cups chicken broth
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon pepper

Additional: fresh lemon juice, fresh chopped parsley, lemon zest

Directions:
1. Prepare the chicken by mixing the lemon zest, pepper, salt, and dried basil into a small bowl.
2. Rub the seasoning all over the chicken with your fingers. Be sure to get under the skin.
3. In a large dutch oven or oven safe pan, heat 2 tablespoons coconut oil on high heat. Let the dutch oven heat up for 1-2 minutes. Reduce the heat to medium high. Add the chicken to the dutch oven skin side down. Cover and cook for 3 minutes. Flip chicken and continue cooking for another 2 minutes. Flip a final time and cook for 2 minutes.
4. Remove chicken from dutch oven. Wipe out dutch oven to remove any excess oil.
5. Add coconut oil to the dutch oven over medium-high heat. Add garlic and onion and cook until translucent, about 3 minutes.
6. Add arborio rice to the dutch oven and stir constantly for 2 minutes or until the rice turns translucent.
7. Add the wine, stirring constantly until the wine is mostly evaporated.
8. Add milk, chicken broth, salt and pepper. Bring to a simmer (about 2-3 minutes) stirring once at the beginning.
9. Return the chicken back to the dutch oven and cover. Cook over low heat for 20 minutes. Preheat oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit.
10. After 20 minutes, Place covered dutch oven into the oven and bake for 10 minutes. Remove cover and cook for additional 5 minutes. Broil on high for 5 minutes.
11. Plate each serving with fresh parsley, a squeeze of a lemon, and lemon zest. Serve and enjoy!

Seared Scallops and Risotto

I’ve fallen IN LOVE with risotto. I don’t know if its the richness of the rice or the high flavor, but I’m completely won over and can’t get enough. Many risottos I’ve tried contain heavy cream and cheese, which can be a bit much. I have perfected this recipe that is just as delicious without the heaviness of a ‘typical’ risotto. It is the perfect comfort food and pairs beautifully with scallops. My scallops are extremely basic but I think they have so much flavor on their own that you don’t need many other ingredients. And who doesn’t love a simple recipe?
This recipe is wonderful since it looks amazing but its really not complicated. The timing for prep is important since you want to serve the scallops fresh. I tried to give you my best detailed instructions to ensure your dinner will be just as delicious as mine was. Indulge a little bit and enjoy something so delicious! Spoil yourself and feel like you’ve made a restaurant quality meal in the comfort of your own home:)

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Ingredients:

Scallops
1/2 lb of scallops (you can do scallop pieces or bay scallops but I love the whole)
1 tablespoon olive oil or coconut oil
salt and pepper to taste

Risotto
1 cup uncooked risotto (aborio rice)
1/2 cup dry white wine
1 cup chicken or vegetable broth
1/2 cup water
1/2 teaspoon salt

Wilted Greens
3 large handfuls of spinach or kale
1-2 tablespoons olive oil

Honey Glazed Carrots
1 bag baby carrots
2 tablespoons olive oil
1 tablespoon honey

Directions:
1. Preheat oven to 400 degrees Fahrenheit. In a small bowl, mix olive oil and honey until combined. On a large baking sheet, sprinkle carrots out evenly. Drizzle the oil and honey mixture over the carrots, massaging the carrots to coat completely. Bake in the oven for 15 minutes, flip, then continue baking for another 15 or until tender.

2. Cook the risotto in a saucepan with the liquids and salt until boiling. Cover and simmer on low heat for 20 minutes.
3. In a large skillet, saute raw spinach with olive oil, covered until completely wilted. Set aside.
4. Once the risotto and spinach are cooked, prepare a cast iron skillet for the scallops. Let the skillet heat up for 3-4 minutes on high heat. Once the skillet is hot, Add 1 tablespoon of olive oil or coconut oil. Sear scallops on one side and cover. Cook for 2 minutes. Flip scallops and cook for another 2 minutes. If you prefer a mildly raw center, remove from heat. If you prefer a more cooked center, turn off heat and let scallops cook for another 1-2 minutes.
5. To assemble, place risotto in the center of your place (I did about 1/2 cup cooked risotto per person). Next, place wilted greens onto of the risotto followed by the baby carrots. Top with scallops. Finish with fresh lemon juice, a drizzle of olive oil, parsley and sea salt.

Crepes

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Having a week off of grad school, work, and everything else I put on hold for Christmas vacation means more time for breakfast! These crepes were incredible and I cannot wait to make them again! If you are as big of a crepe fan as I am, you know that these basic crepes can be filled with anything your heart desires. I sometimes go online and browse menus to see what creative crepes are out there. Since I wanted something sweet, I went for mixed berries and topped with pecans and a dusting of confectionery sugar.
I’ve had quite the sweet tooth these days *cough* blaming it on the babe *cough* and am trying to control it slightly, but being on vacation makes it ever so difficult as I often give myself a break to indulge a bit.

Yields 5 crepes

Ingredients:
1/2 cup water
4 eggs
2 tablespoons coconut flour
1 tablespoon coconut oil (room temperature NOT melted)
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract

Directions:
1. Place all ingredients in a blender and blend until smooth.
2. Cook crepes in a thin layer in a non-stick skillet. Flip once when sides begin to lift from pan.

Tips…
The thinner the crepes, the better! Swirl your skillet around to thin out batter. If your skillet has ANY chance of batter sticking, add a coconut oil to each round of crepes. Don’t over cook them! You want them soft. Depending on your stove top and how hot you keep the temperature at, they should only take 3-4 minutes to cook. These crepes keep well in the refrigerator so make a double batch and enjoy all week!

Fill with your favorites!
*Mixed berries
*Orange slices
*Top with nuts and syrup
*Warm almond butter
*Sauteed veggies and scrambled eggs

Hot Cocoa and Gingerbread Cookies

There is just four days until Christmas and I can honestly say I am more at ease and organized than ever before. I have really been trying to savor moments, which means taking time for myself, taking time for my family, and simplifying my life as much as possible. All of this is mostly done in order for more couch time and cookies:) In all seriousness, this pregnancy has made me more at peace and relaxed than I have ever been in my life. I am so blessed to be able to say that! Is it perspective? Hormones? All I can solidly say is that I am grateful for every second of this pregnancy journey. I’d like to imagine this is one of multiple pregnancies, but as I have been reminded numerous times, I am not the one in control!

Now for the goodies! I’ve been experimenting with some delicious Christmas cookies this year. With my super sensitive noise and growing appetite, I feel like I can’t get my hands on enough! These are gingerbread cookies are chewy (not crunchy) and so full of flavor. My hot cocoa recipe is adapted from a dear friend so I cannot claim all the credit here. I do have to warn you–this hot cocoa is not sweet like most! It’s like drinking a warm decedent dark chocolate liquid brownie. Uh…I’m at a loss for describing this because that description doesn’t sound like it should! You’ll have to try it for yourself. All this talking about it makes me want to make some and snuggle up by the tree.

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You’ll have to pardon to low quality cookie picture…Cannon was dead and Iphone was the best I could manage.

Hot Cocoa

Yields 2 mugs of hot cocoa

Ingredients:

2 cups of milk (I used coconut milk)
3 tablespoons unsweetened cocoa
1 tablespoon semi-sweet chocolate chips (I used Enjoy Life dairy free chips)
1 teaspoon vanilla extract

Directions

  1. In a medium saucepan, cook the milk until just boiling (about 3-4 minutes).
  2. Stir in unsweetened cocoa and whisk until smooth.
  3. Add semi-sweet chocolate chips until combined and smooth.
  4. Stir in vanilla extract.
  5. Ladle into mugs and enjoy!

Notes:

This is not sweet! Add honey, coconut sugar, or maple syrup to sweeten. Add a peppermint stick to make your hot cocoa have a minty, festive kick!

Gingerbread Cookies

Ingredients:

1 cup almond flour
1 tablespoon brown sugar
1 teaspoon cinnamon
1 teaspoon ground giner
½ teaspoon baking soda
½ teaspoon baking powder
¼ teaspoon salt
3 tablespoons melted coconut oil
1 tablespoon molasses
1 tablespoon maple syrup
1 teaspoon vanilla extract

Directions:

  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Spray a cookie sheet with non-stick spray or parchment paper.
  2. In a large bowl, mix together the almond flour, sugar, cinnamon, ginger, baking soda, baking powder, and salt. Set aside.
  3. Whisk together the melted coconut oil, molasses, maple syrup, and vanilla extract.
  4. Incorporate the wet and dry ingredients until dough forms.
  5. Using a cooking scoop, drop onto cookie sheet (about 1 tablespoon of dough). Press down slightly on top.
  6. Bake in preheated oven for 8 minutes. Cool and enjoy!

 

 

Merry Christmas from our growing family to yours:)

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