Delicious Soft and Chewy Peanut Butter Cookies

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Warning: If you’re a fan of peanut butter, these cookies could be very addicting.

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A trip with some friends to a cabin on a lake warranted yet another new cookie recipe to try out!

I’ve been trying to find that perfect peanut butter cookie recipe before I posted one on this blog. I’ve found many that produce soft cookies, but none that lend that wonderful chewiness to the texture. All of the peanut butter cookie recipes I’ve tried are also made with butter, which is my favorite fat to bake with. However, while the butter produces cookies with great flavor, it also seems to give them an almost chalky, shortbread like texture, but still retaining the softness. They aren’t dry, but they’re not moist either.

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 Since I was very pleased with how the oatmeal raisin cookies from Sally’s Baking Addiction turned out, I decided to give her peanut butter cookie recipe a go! This recipe appeared to have very similar ingredients in it as most of the peanut butter cookie recipes I had tried, but Sally suggests chilling the prepared dough for at least 3 hours before forming the cookies and baking them.

After tasting these cookies shortly after they had finished baking, and then a day later, two days later, and so on, I noticed that not only did they have an incredible peanut butter, caramelized flavor, but they were also soft AND chewy and stay like that for quite a while!

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As I was trying to figure out how chilling the dough would make a difference in that textural element I mentioned before, I guessed that perhaps that chilling the dough gave the melted butter and peanut butter a chance to firm up and set before being heated and transformed into cookies. Chilling also deepens the flavor of the overall product and reduces out-of-control spreading. I think another key factor in this recipe to attain that really nice texture is to underbake these a little. The edges should be just lightly brown and the middles should still look un-set and a little gooey. They will set as they sit on the baking sheets for a few minutes once removed from the oven.

Enjoy! 

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 Soft and Chewy Peanut Butter Cookies 

Yield: 32 cookies

 Ingredients:

  • 1/2 cup (1 stick) unsalted butter, room temperature
  • 1/2 cup (200g) granulated sugar
  • a little over a 1/3 cup (75g) packed light brown sugar
  • 1 large egg, room temperature
  • 1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
  • 1/2 cup creamy peanut butter (natural, oily style peanut butters are not recommended, use brands like Skippy or Jiff, chunky is fine too) 
  • 1 1/2 cups + 1 Tablespoon (195.5 g) unbleached all-purpose flour
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1/4 teaspoon table salt

Directions:

1. In a large bowl, using an electric beater, stand mixer with paddle attachment, or large fork (if you don’t have either of the first two), cream the butter and both sugars on medium speed until smooth. Add the egg and mix on high until combined, about 1 minute. Scrape down sides of bowl as needed. Add vanilla and peanut butter, mixing on high until combined. 

2. In a separate medium bowl, mix the flour, baking soda, baking powder, and salt. Add this mixture to the wet ingredients and mix on low until combined. Dough will be thick and very sticky. Cover the bowl tightly with plastic wrap and chill for at least 3 hours (and up to 2 days) in the fridge. 

3. Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Line two large baking sheets with parchment paper or silicone baking mats. Scoop dough generously with a TBP dough scooper, rolling into balls with your hands until smooth after scooping. Place about 1 1/2 inches apart on cookie sheets. Press fork half way down each dough ball to create the criss-cross pattern. Bake for 9 minutes, rotating half way, until very lightly browned on the sides, but with the centers still looking soft and undone. Remove from oven and let cool on baking sheets for 2-3 minutes. Then transfer to wire rack to cool completely. (Cookies might be puffed when taken out of the oven, but should deflate while setting on baking sheets after removed from oven). 

Cover cookies and store at room temperature for up to 1 week. Baked cookies and rolled cookie dough freeze well, up to 3 months. 

Adapted from Sally’s Baking Addiction blog 

The Best Oatmeal Raisin Cookies

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I’ve made many oatmeal raisin cookie recipes, but this one tops them all! This is pretty much your regular oatmeal raisin cookie recipe, but with a secret ingredient, molasses, bringing this old-fashioned cookie to new depths. I’m no food scientist, but it seems that the molasses not only deepens the caramelized flavor of these cookies, but also contributes more moisture to them, making them stay soft and chewy for much longer than your average cookies.

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This recipe also suggests to soak the raisins for ten minutes in warm water and then blot them dry. This technique produces raisins that are plump and almost juicy inside when you bite into one. I was a little worried that the extra water (after drying) from soaking the raisins would make the cookies soggy, but this didn’t happen. As long as there’s no water falling off the raisins, they should be fine, if they feel a little damp (as mine did), that is okay.

The other key to soft and chewy cookies (besides the ingredients), is underbaking them just a tad, so that the edges are a light brown and the middles are still a little whitish and look underdone. They will solidify as they cool a few minutes on the hot baking sheets.

Thank you to Sally’s Baking Addiction blog for this recipe!

Enjoy!

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The Best Oatmeal Raisin Cookies

Yield: about 55 cookies using a generous tablespoon and a half cookie scoop (forgot to count actually, so this is a rough estimate)

Ingredients: 

  • 1 cup (2 sticks) unsalted butter, room temperature
  • scant 1 cup light or dark brown sugar (I used mostly light and a bit of dark)
  • scant 1/4 cup (50g) granulated sugar
  • 2 large eggs, room temperature
  • 1 Tablespoon pure vanilla extract
  • 1 Tablespoon molasses
  • 1 1/2 cups (190g) unbleached all-purpose flour
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1 and 1/2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
  • scant 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 3 cups (240g) old-fashioned rolled oats
  • 3/4- 1 cup raisins, soaked in warm water for 10 minutes and then blotted as dry as possible
  • 1/2 cup chopped toasted walnuts (optional), I chose not to use nuts this time

Directions: 

1. Take butter and eggs out to warm to room temperature about 30 to 45 minutes before baking depending on the temperature of your kitchen. Prepare raisins as stated above.

2. Mix together dry ingredients in medium bowl: flour, baking soda, cinnamon, and salt.

3. With an electric mixer, beat together the butter and sugars on medium speed in a large bowl until smooth. Add the eggs and mix on high until combined. Next, add the vanilla and molasses beating on high until fully incorporated.

4. Add the dry ingredients to the wet ingredients and beat on low until combined. Then beat in the oats, raisins, and walnuts if using on low speed. Dough will be thick and sticky. Chill the dough for 30-60 minutes (do full hour if you’re concerned dough will spread). You can also chill the dough for up to 2 days. If chilling for longer than 60 minutes, let sit for 30 minutes at room temperature to soften a bit before scooping into cookies.

5. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Line baking sheets with parchment paper or silicon baking mats.

6. Scoop dough with 1 1/2 TBP cookie scoop onto prepared pans, giving cookies enough space to spread. Bake for about 8-10 minutes depending on your oven and dough ball size, until very lightly browned on edges and still white and underbaked in the middle. Also rotate cookie sheets half way through, switching baking racks as well, to ensure even baking.

7. Let cookies cool for 2 minutes on sheet pans and then remove and place on wire rack to cool completely.

Cover cookies and store at room temperature for up to 1 week. Baked cookies and rolled cookie dough freeze well, up to 3 months.

Adapted from Sally’s Baking Addiction blog 

Peach Ginger Muffins

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The other day, I was at my local farmer’s market. As I was passing the gelato stand, I glanced at the flavors on the board and spotted peach ginger! Upon sampling it, I couldn’t resist treating myself to a small container. The peach and ginger flavors complemented each other perfectly and I thought why not try making peach ginger muffins?

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So I tweaked one of my peach muffin recipes to come up with this one! I made a few substitutions, like replacing the oil with butter and reducing the amount by a bit, adding fresh ginger, and reducing the sugar, which all worked out nicely! These muffins are moist, soft, and impart the flavor of fresh sweet peaches as well as the slight bite of the ginger, and the warmth of the cinnamon. Enjoy while peaches are in season!

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Peach Ginger Muffins 

Yield: 18 muffins

Ingredients:
2 cups (9.25 oz) unbleached all-purpose flour
3/4 tsp baking powder
1 tsp baking soda
scant 1/2 tsp table salt
heaping 1/2 tsp ground cinnamon
heaping 1/2 cup granulated sugar
1 cup buttermilk (any fat content is fine)
4 TBP (1/4 cup) unsalted butter
1 extra-large or large egg
1 tsp pure vanilla extract
1 1/2 cups peeled, diced (1/4-1/2 inch cubes) fresh peaches (about 2 large peaches)
1 1/2 tsp fresh ginger, grated or minced

*If you’d like to add some blueberries in addition to the peach, substitute 1/2 cup of fresh blueberries for the 1/2 cup of peaches

Directions:
1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees and line 18 muffin cups with paper muffin liners.
2. In a large bowl, mix together the dry ingredients: flour, baking powder, baking soda, salt, cinnamon, and sugar.
3. In another smaller bowl or measuring cup, whisk together the wet ingredients: buttermilk, melted butter, egg, and vanilla until well combined. (This mixture will likely produce clumps; this is a chemical reaction from mixing the melted butter with the buttermilk. This is normal though).
4. Pour the wet ingredients into the dry ingredients; mix just until combined, a few streaks of flour remaining. Gently fold in the peaches and ginger with a rubber spatula until evenly incorporated. Be careful not to overmix or muffins might be tough.
5. Divide batter into muffin cups evenly, should be about 2/3 way full. Bake for 18-25 minutes or until muffins are lightly browned and toothpick comes out with some dry crumbs. Muffins should also spring back when centers are lightly pushed down.
6. Remove from pans and cool on wire rack.

*These muffins will only keep a couple of days at room temperature because of the moisture of the peaches, but place them in the fridge and they will keep for a good week, and then freeze any extras (if they last that long)!

Adapted from the Cooking Channel

Coffee Ice Cream

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Have you ever made your own ice cream? If you have an ice cream maker, it’s very simple and well worth the day’s wait. Ice cream was a dessert I had never made before, but I’ve always wanted to try it! So when Melissa Clark’s recipe appeared in the New York Times dining section, I cut it out and promised myself I would make it by the end of the month.

It just so happened that I had made a coconut layer cake that used 6 egg whites, so I had 6 egg yolks I needed to use. While searching for possible recipes I could make, I came across Thomas Keller’s pasta recipe, but then I remembered ice cream. And when I looked back at Melissa Clark’s recipe, it just so happened that it required 6 egg yolks! Perfect! (this never happens).

There was the base recipe for ice cream, but then there were variations on the base recipe to create different flavors. So many to choose from…and so many that looked delicious. I decided to go with coffee. It seemed pretty simple; I didn’t want to attempt one of the more difficult variations since I’d never made ice cream before.

There were definitely a couple nuisances I encountered along the way…nothing disastrous or even bad, just unexpected.

So since I already went through it, I can warn you and give you recommendations ahead of time, or you can just make the basic recipe, which is probably what I should of done first. But that just sounded too boring if I was going to go through making ice cream!

1. When you dissolve the sugar in the milk mixture, the coffee grounds make it tricky to tell when all the sugar is dissolved and you can proceed to the next step. My suggestion would be just to go by the amount of time in the recipe– about 5 minutes of stirring on low-heat. Also, the coffee grounds seem to float on top, so if you can try to feel the sugar underneath the top of the milk mixture, that should tell you whether it’s clumpy or smooth, thick or thin.

2. When you’re at the step where you strain the liquid into a bowl, it takes a lot of time for the liquid to go through the strainer because the coffee grounds are blocking the liquid. To make this faster and easier, I removed some of the coffee grounds and let the mixture strain, then added them back in to strain any extra liquid.

Besides these two minor issues, the process is quite easy. Put the liquid in the fridge overnight. Take it out the next day, churn it in the ice cream machine for about 15 minutes, eat like it is, or place in freezer to harden more.

Everyone who tasted this ice cream said it was absolutely to die for, better than any coffee ice cream they’d had! Rich, silky, creamy, and filled with coffee flavor! So I’d say, give it a try! And if it’s a success, experiment with all the different flavors!

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Ice Cream Base

Yield: 1 1/2 qts.

Ingredients: 

2 cups heavy cream

1 cup whole milk

2/3 cup sugar

1/8 tsp fine sea salt

6 large egg yolks

Your choice of flavoring

Directions:

1. In a small pot, simmer cream, milk, sugar, and salt until sugar completely dissolves, about 5 minutes. Remove pot from heat. In a separate bowl, whisk egg yolks. Whisk constantly as you slowly whisk in about 1/3 of the hot cream mixture into the yolks, then whisk the yolk mixture back into the pot with the cream. Return pot to medium-low heat and cook mixture until thick enough to coat the back of a wooden spoon (about 170 degrees on an instead-read thermometer).

2. Strain through a fine-mesh sieve into a bowl. Cool mixture to room temperature (this will take several hours). Cover and chill in fridge at least 4 hours or overnight.

3. Churn in an ice cream machine according to manufacturer’s instructions. It should take about 15 minutes. Serve directly from the machine for soft serve, or store in freezer until needed.

Coffee Ice Cream:

Grind 1/2 cup whole coffee beans (caf or decaf) until coarsely ground in a coffee grinder or food processor. Place coffee grounds in cold milk mixture in step 1. Follow step 1 in main recipe accordingly. Then, instead of straining immediately, let the custard steep off the heat for about 1/2 hour before straining. Then go through with main recipe steps.

*For a couple tips about coffee ice cream, read commentary above.

From Melissa Clark’s column in Dining section of New York Times 

For more variations, see http://www.nytimes.com/interactive/2014/07/01/dining/the-master-ice-cream-recipe.html

 

 

 

Tofu and Squash Panang Curry

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If you like Thai food, you’re going to love this dish! Not only does it taste like something right out of a Thai restaurant’s kitchen, but it’s also a lighter, healthier version! I find that restaurants frequently add way too much salt, butter, and cream, resulting in feeling overly full after a meal and sensing that greasy aftertaste on your lips. This curry includes lots of fresh ingredients and a light sauce, which still embodies full flavors that leave you satisfied after a meal.

I was a little hesitant at first to try this recipe from Cooking Light because when I glanced down the list of ingredients, they seemed like an odd combination when mixed altogether. But I was fortunately wrong. It is exactly all these ingredients that make this dish so delicious!

To be completely honest, this dish takes a bit more preparation because of all the ingredients, but trust me, it’s well worth it. And after the ingredients are prepped, this dish comes together in no time at all. It is also recommended that you drain the tofu, leaving it to rest for 30 minutes to get as much liquid out of it as possible. Thirty minutes would be ideal, but 10-15 minutes is fine too; this step definitely helps enhance the texture of the tofu in the final product though, imparting the tofu with a spongy texture that almost seems like it could have been lightly fried!

I think this dish would also be very adaptable. You could easily add other vegetables like broccoli, zucchini, snap peas, etc, just make sure you adjust the sauce depending on the amount of veggies you use. Feel free to substitute veggies too, using broccoli in place of the bell pepper for example.

Enjoy!

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Tofu and Squash Panang Curry 

Yield: 6 servings, about 1 cup curry and 2/3 cup rice per person

Ingredients:

Rice:

1 3/4 cups water

1 cup uncooked brown jasmine or basmati rice

1 tsp minced peeled fresh ginger

1/4 tsp kosher salt (1/8 tsp table salt)

cilantro (optional)

 

Curry:

1 (14 oz) block extra-firm tofu, drained and cut into 1 inch cubes

3 tsp (1 TBP) olive oil- divided

2 TBP creamy peanut butter

1 1/2 TBP Thai red curry paste (can be found in International section of grocery store)

1 tsp ground cumin

1 tsp ground coriander

1 (14 oz) can light coconut milk (also can be found in international section of store)

3 TBP lower-sodium soy sauce

1 TBP brown sugar

3 cups cubed peeled butternut or kabocha squash (if you buy this pre-cut, it saves a lot of time)

1 cup red bell pepper, chopped

1/3 cup sliced shallots or onion

1 1/2 tsp grated lime rind

2 TBP fresh lime juice

fresh basil leaves to garnish

Directions:

For rice: Combine first 4 ingredients in a saucepan. Bring to a boil, cover, reduce heat and simmer 35 minutes or until water is absorbed. Let stand 10 minutes. Add cilantro, fluff rice.

1. Place tofu on several layers of paper towels. Cover with additional paper towels. Let stand for 15 to 30 minutes, pressing down occasionally.

2. While tofu is draining, combine peanut butter, curry paste, cumin, and coriander. Combine coconut milk, soy sauce and sugar in separate dish. Then chop pepper and shallots, prepare squash and lime rind, and squeeze out lime juice.

3. When tofu is ready, heat a wok or large skillet over medium-high heat. Add 1/2 TBP of oil to pan, swirl to coat pan. Add tofu, saute 8 minutes until golden brown, stirring off and on. (You can also return to the preparations in step 2 while the tofu is cooking, just make sure you remember to stir it.) Remove tofu from pan and put a dinner plate over dish to keep warm.

4. Return pan to medium heat and add 1/2 TBP more of olive oil, swirling to coat. Add peanut butter mixture from above, cooking 15 seconds. Then add coconut mixture stirring until smooth. Add squash, pepper and shallots. Bring to a boil, reduce heat, and simmer 15 minutes or until squash is tender. Gently stir in tofu, rind, and lime juice. Cook 1 minute. Sprinkle individual portions with torn basil leaves and serve over rice.

Adapted from Cooking Light 

 

 

 

 

Toasted Coconut Chocolate Chip Cookies

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If you’re a coconut fan, these cookies are a must! Not only are they soft, chewy, and flavorful, they are also much healthier than your average cookie. But without knowing this secret, you would never guess these cookies have half the amount of butter you’d usually be consuming when indulging in a cookie.

Toasting the coconut before mixing it into the batter contributes a nutty flavor to the cookies and gives them a wonderful chewiness. A handful of semi-sweet chocolate chips compliment the coconut without overtaking the cookie.

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Although you could probably substitute unsweetened coconut for the sweetened coconut, I wouldn’t recommend this because it could dry out the cookie. The flaked sweetened coconut adds a lot of moisture, enhancing the texture of these cookies. However, I haven’t tried this before, so if you make these with unsweetened coconut, please let me know how they turn out!

Try giving one of these cookies to a family member or friend and seeing if they notice their hidden healthiness!

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Toasted Coconut Chocolate Chip Cookies 

Yield: 25 cookies

Ingredients: 

1 cup flaked sweetened coconut

4.5 oz (about 1 cup) all-purpose flour

1/2 tsp baking powder

1/4 tsp baking soda

1/8 tsp salt

scant 3/4 cup packed light brown sugar

1/4 cup (1/2 stick) unsalted butter, softened

1 tsp vanilla

1 large egg

2 oz semi-sweet chocolate chips (can use mini too)

Directions:

1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

2. Spread coconut out on a small baking pan and bake for 3-7 minutes, watching carefully so it doesn’t burn. Rotate pan and toss coconut with a spatula half way through to ensure even toasting. Coconut should be a very light brown color. Set this aside to cool.

3. Combine flour, baking powder, baking soda, and salt in a medium bowl. Whisk until blended. Beat sugar and butter in a large bowl at medium speed until well blended. Beat in vanilla and egg. Add flour mixture, beating at low speed until incorporated. Stir in toasted coconut and chocolate chips.

4. Drop by tablespoons 2 inches apart on cookie sheets covered with parchment paper. Bake at 350 for 8.5-9 minutes, rotating half way through baking time. Cookies should be lightly browned around the edges and look whiter and underdone in the middle. They will set more as they cool. Remove from oven and cool on baking sheets for 1-2 minutes, then transfer them to a wire rack to finish cooling.

Cal per cookie: 88

Adapted from Cooking Light Magazine 

 

 

Scrambled Eggs with Cream Cheese

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For those of you who know me, you most likely have heard me rave about scrambled eggs with cream cheese and if you’re lucky, I’ve made you try it! Most people have been skeptical of this combination of ingredients, but if they’re adventurous enough to try it, they change their minds and agree cream cheese was essentially made for eggs. Like ketchup and french fries! After you try this out, I predict you might have a hard time returning to plain scrambled eggs and need to have a constant supply of cream cheese in your fridge.

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You might ask, how does cream cheese make eggs so much better? Well, the cream cheese lends a slight tangy flavor to your eggs, making them more flavorful, with a creamier texture. Aside from the proportions (listed below), the key to perfect eggs is also how you cook them. As you will read below, the trick to creamy, cooked through eggs (without being overcooked) is cooking on a very low light and stirring pretty much constantly with a kind of folding motion. Make sure you spread out the cream cheese so it is evenly incorporated throughout and there are no small chunks. Sometimes it’s hard to distinguish the cream cheese from the egg white. If you notice any light brown spots, the eggs are overcooked. So as soon as the eggs achieve that creamy, homogenous, light yellow appearance without being watery, immediately remove them from the pan to the plate. Even when you turn the burner off, the eggs will keep cooking due to the heat of the pan.

Another ingredient I also love to put in my eggs to switch things up a bit is ricotta cheese. Particularly the kind you find at your local farmer’s market or farm stand. Ricotta also enhances the flavor and creaminess of your eggs, but makes the eggs a bit lighter and fluffier than cream cheese does. I use the same proportion of ricotta as I do cream cheese.

I highly recommend you try this recipe if you like eggs. Of course everyone is different in their preferences, so please experiment with proportions and cooking style to achieve your perfect flavor and texture! And as always, I’d love to hear how your creations turn out and any questions or comments you might have!

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Scrambled Eggs with Cream Cheese 

*I am listing the ingredients for 1 egg but you can double/triple/quadruple this recipe

Ingredients:

1 extra-large or large egg

3 small pinches of table salt

fresh ground pepper to taste

splash of milk or water (approximately 1/2 – 1 tsp)

1/2 TBP cream cheese (I like using the whipped kind- it’s easier to stir in), (or ricotta cheese)

butter for pan

Directions:

1. Crack egg(s) into a cup. Add salt, pepper, and milk or water. Scramble lightly with a fork.

2. Place a pinch of butter (doesn’t take much) into a small non-stick frying pan and turn on heat to low.

3. Spread out butter with heat-proof spatula so that it is evenly coated on pan.

4. Pour egg(s) into pan; then add cream cheese in little chunks, stirring quickly to spread throughout eggs. Cream cheese will melt fairly quickly. Continue stirring eggs, using a folding motion. When you see that eggs are no longer liquidy and almost cooked through, turn off the heat and immediately transfer to a plate. If you see any brown spots, this means eggs are probably overcooked. Although cooking over a very low light takes a bit longer, it helps prevent the eggs becoming overcooked and also helps even cooking and creaminess. This process should not take long, only a few minutes, depending on your stove. My stove gets hot quickly, so from the time I pour the eggs in to the time I remove them, it’s probably about 2 minutes or less.

5. Eat with your favorite breakfast accompaniment! Mine is a toasted homemade muffin or slice of quick bread that I’ve posted on this blog :)

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