From My Carolina Home

Quilting, cooking, reading books, gardening, crafting, sewing, photography and more


September in the Garden

The garden is winding down, and the hurricane has helped to move things along.  A few critters did their share too. DH modified the bird feeder so that less seed would spill into the tray, which made it a bit more difficult for the larger birds like the cardinals to eat. So, feeling sorry for them, he purchased a second feeder, and mounted it below the first one.  The little birds like the goldfinches began using the new one pretty quickly. The cardinals continued to go to the big one.

September in the Garden at From My Carolina Home

Then later, success, they figured it out.  He later added a larger perch to this one to make it easier for them to land.

September in the Garden at From My Carolina Home

The red heirlooms ripened beautifully.

September in the Garden at From My Carolina Home

Another Cherokee Purple is getting close to ripe.

September in the Garden at From My Carolina Home

Caprese salad was even more delicious with Cherokee Purple tomatoes and fresh basil from my own garden.

September in the Garden at From My Carolina Home

There are still more tomatoes yet to come.

September in the Garden at From My Carolina Home

Some of the larger tomatoes were harvested before the hurricane so they wouldn’t be lost. These are now sitting on my kitchen windowsill to ripen. Well, OK, I ate the red one.

September in the Garden at From My Carolina Home

A few of the potted plants are giving me a fall show, like this red one.

September in the Garden at From My Carolina Home

A few more calibrachoa, these were blooming right up to this week, before the rain and wind came.

September in the Garden at From My Carolina Home

A flock of female turkeys visited last weekend. I stepped outside carefully and began talking to them, and tossing bits of bread to them. They weren’t real interested in the bread, but they didn’t run away when they saw me. So, progress with my turkey pets, LOL!!

September in the Garden at From My Carolina Home

A couple of them did finally eat the offered bread. Then, of course, the others wanted the same bite, LOL!

September in the Garden at From My Carolina Home

There was this skink sunning himself some days ago, I haven’t seen them since it began raining.

September in the Garden at From My Carolina Home

More tomatoes harvested all at once became my first attempt at tomato pie.  I wasn’t happy with the result, the crust came out soggy and there wasn’t enough creaminess in the filling.  So, I’ll keep trying until I get it the way I want it.

September in the Garden at From My Carolina Home

OK, I ate one of these too before it made it into the pie. It was too tempting on a bed of fresh spinach.

September in the Garden at From My Carolina Home

I found this sweet cutie pie in the garden a couple of weeks ago.

September in the Garden at From My Carolina Home

Then the next day my petunias were nibbled down to the nubs. Oh well, at least he didn’t eat my tomato or basil plants. I just want to pick him up and cuddle him, but I don’t think he would like it.

September in the Garden at From My Carolina Home

Just this past weekend, I finally was able to have the camera in hand when the hummingbird came by for a visit to the still blooming torenias.

September in the Garden at From My Carolina Home

The torenias are almost done, some parts are starting to die off, but the tops are still blooming. This hummingbird stayed quite a while, visiting all four hanging baskets for all the nectar available.

September in the Garden at From My Carolina Home

Irma’s winds reached a peak on Monday night, really howling through the coves and woke me up. Luckily, there wasn’t any real damage to the flowers on the veranda.  The begonias must love the cooler temperatures, as all of them are blooming more than ever.

September Flowers at From My Carolina Home

Even the pink ones, although this isn’t really a fall color.  Still, the blooms are welcome.

September Flowers at From My Carolina Home

The yellow torenias are also putting on a show for the cooler weather, and seem to be just a vigorous as before, unlike their purple cousins in the hanging baskets.

September Flowers at From My Carolina Home

My parsley and yellow calabrachoa were beat down by the wind and rain, but I expect them to recover shortly.

September Flowers at From My Carolina Home

I put the Thanksgiving cactus out on the veranda over the summer so it could get more sunlight.  It seems to be perking up well now, maybe it likes cooler weather too.  I’ll bring it inside in about a month, and it should bloom in November.

September Flowers at From My Carolina Home

One more flower to show you. DH went to the store for me, and came home with a beautiful bouquet of white roses, one of my favorite cut flowers. Gorgeous aren’t they? Their fragrance is so sweet.  He’s a keeper.

White Roses at From My Carolina Home

Volunteer day at the book sale was last week, and I did pretty well.  Note that large binder on the bottom left, that is a Master Gardener manual! Specific advice for North Carolina, also in another North Carolina Gardening Month by Month book (on top of the Cooks Country Best Lost Suppers book), will hopefully help my efforts to plant more native plants and more perennials for my area.  Cookbooks, novels, audio books, and a DVD of Gosford Park completed that day’s haul.

September Thrifting and Shopping at From My Carolina Home

Last Friday, I worked the book sale, and of course came home with an additional score, books on hiking in our area, plus another gardening book for the Carolinas. We do plan to do more hiking in the fall and next spring.  I’ll be going through my cookbooks and other books to cull some out for the garage sale this weekend at my friends home.  If you are local, look for us on Dawnwood in the Haywood Knolls Neighborhood garage sale on Saturday only.  I’m taking dishes, quilting and cooking books, fabrics, notions, stamping sets and lots more.

Hiking Books and Gardening Books

Hope you are doing OK after the hurricanes, both Harvey and Irma. We were lucky that the path turned west, and the storm weakened. The fair closed on Monday for the first time in many years as the winds were too high for safety. But it is open again, and the cooking competitions will go on this week as planned. More on that later.

September in the Garden at From My Carolina Home

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Early April in the Garden

It is getting warmer now, and the garden seems to be coming to life again. All around the flowers are not as prolific this year due to a late freeze that did some damage to the buds. Still, the light pink azalea is producing blooms and the bumble bees are having a great time.

Early April in the Garden at From My Carolina Home

As was the case last year, the white shows the most damage in the discoloration of the blooms. But I still love the white flowers.

Early April in the Garden at From My Carolina Home

Covering the tulips helped, and the pink ones are in full flower.

Early April in the Garden at From My Carolina Home

Dawn on a quiet morning, sunlight makes an interesting pattern on the ground from the leafless trees. This time of day is so peaceful.  Crisp mountain air, hot coffee, breathe.  Soon the trees will leaf out, and the mountain views to the east will be obscured until fall.

Early April in the Garden at From My Carolina Home

The azaleas in the circle are sparse, but the ones that are blooming are pretty. Several others haven’t started yet, and the dogwood is still dormant.

Early April in the Garden at From My Carolina Home

A view down the drive from our home, more azaleas are coming out. It doesn’t seem like we will see the profusion of blooms all down the side of the meadow this year.

Early April in the Garden at From My Carolina Home

We have new visitors to the meadows and the back yard. This Eastern Towhee was scratching for food.

Early April in the Garden at From My Carolina Home

His mate was nearby. She seemed to be more interested in bits of twigs and grass, and I am hoping that means she is building her nest nearby.

Early April in the Garden at From My Carolina Home

It seemed like this female cardinal might also have a nest in mind.  I hope so.  Her mate was in the rhododendron but I couldn’t get a good picture of him.

Early April in the Garden at From My Carolina Home

We had a visit from a Northern Flicker as well.

Early April in the Garden at From My Carolina Home

Another dawn, and a foggy morning over the valley. Looking out over the hushed silence of the morning, there was time to appreciate the beauty of our world.

Early April in the Garden at From My Carolina Home

Goldfinches wearing their brighter color jostled for position on the feeder.

Early April in the Garden at From My Carolina Home

The hostas are coming up strong, and soon will completely cover the bare ground around the tree.  My one little red tulip gallantly blooms all by itself.

Early April in the Garden at From My Carolina Home

The redbud is blooming, hosting a number of bees and butterflies.  I am hoping that the new growth coming from the bottom will fill in the bare spots.  DH has pruned it a bit severely to get the branches off the driveway.

Early April in the Garden at From My Carolina Home

Closer to the small blooms, the pink color is intense, and lots of buds have yet to open.

Early April in the Garden at From My Carolina Home

Another new visitor, I am not sure who this is. I don’t think it is Bert or Ernie as he acts differently. He puffs a lot and gobbles loudly, happy for a handout of whole grain bread. But he has been in a scuffle or two as his bedraggled tail attests.  But, how would I know?  He might just be acting differently because it is spring.  In any case, he is fun to watch.  And he seems to like the bread treat.

Early April in the Garden at From My Carolina Home

It is surely spring when the robins appear.

Early April in the Garden at From My Carolina Home

Small violas cover the mountainside behind the house, and sporadically in front.

Early April in the Garden at From My Carolina Home

The white and purple one I planted in the garden came back this year.

Early April in the Garden at From My Carolina Home

In the small clearing behind the garage, ajugas are blooming profusely, covering a large section. The pollinators like them too.

Early April in the Garden at From My Carolina Home

I’ve taken so many more pictures, but this is enough for now. I love sitting on the veranda and enjoying the quiet solitude of our place, the mountain views ever changing, nature ever evolving.  We still have a week to go before the last frost date, but I think it is safe now to do some gardening.  The forecast is for temps in the 70s all week, with lows in the 40s.  Time to begin hardening off the seedings in the basement.  Some are still alive, but some died for no good reason that I can tell.  Oh well, will see what happens when I get them replanted.

What’s going on in your garden?


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Saturday Sparks


Sloppy Toms with Cranberry Barbecue Sauce

Just over a week past Thanksgiving, and DH is complaining that he is tired of turkey. Truth be told, so am I. I took homemade turkey noodle soup to the office and had it two times there, then again at home. But I still have turkey left. Thank goodness I put half of the breast in the freezer on Thanksgiving day to have another time. So, time for a completely different taste for that last bit of turkey.  These are my version of Sloppy Toms.

Sloppy Toms at From My Carolina Home

Here’s what you need – leftover turkey, barbecue sauce, leftover cranberry sauce, and green onion.

Sloppy Toms at From My Carolina Home

Chop some green onion.

Sloppy Toms at From My Carolina Home

Add it to the chopped turkey in a saucepan.

Sloppy Toms at From My Carolina Home

Add your leftover cranberry sauce.

Sloppy Toms at From My Carolina Home

Add some barbecue sauce.

Sloppy Toms at From My Carolina Home

Heat and stir until the cranberry sauce is melted and the mixture is well heated.

Sloppy Toms at From My Carolina Home

You can serve open faced on toast.

Sloppy Toms at From My Carolina Home

Or in a sandwich.

Sloppy Toms at From My Carolina Home

You can use as much or as little of each ingredient as you like, a bit more or less cranberry sauce won’t make a difference. I used the jellied, but the cooked style with whole cranberries would be equally as good. If you would like more ideas, see the recipes page for my leftover pork recipes, any would do well with turkey substituted for the pork. And leftover pork would do well in this dish too.  Or see my post from last year, Cornucopia of Leftover Turkey Ideas.

Sloppy Toms with Cranberry Barbecue Sauce

2 cups chopped turkey
1/4 cup jellied cranberry sauce (more or less to taste)
1/4 cup barbecue sauce, any brand any flavor (more or less to taste)
2 tablespoons chopped green onion.

Combine all ingredients in a saucepan. Heat through until cranberry sauce melts and all ingredients are incorporated.  If the mixture is too dry, add more barbecue sauce, more cranberry sauce if you have it, or a little water.  You can adjust the amounts of each ingredient as you like.  Serve open faced on toast, in a sandwich, on hamburger buns, French bread sub rolls, kaiser rolls or onion buns.

Sloppy Toms at From My Carolina Home


What are you doing with your leftovers?



Pieced Pastimes Saturday Sparks



Happy Thanksgiving!

This is my favorite holiday, watching the Macy’s parade in my jammies with a hot cup of coffee, turkey baking all afternoon, and football games!  Inevitably there is something that goes awry on a holiday, and those stories end up being the best and most memorable of all.  I told several of my family stories last year on my post Thanksgiving 101.  There is some fun reading there along with the comments on the post with more stories.  The holiday story that comes to mind this year wasn’t Thanksgiving, but it did involve a turkey.

Turkeys 2015 - 5

My husband and I were celebrating out first holiday season after we got married, and my mother and grandmother made the six hour drive to visit us for a few days.  My mother, who was always up for something new, wanted to cook the turkey with a 24 hour method at a low temperature.  So, why not?  I went to work, leaving my poor husband home to entertain the ladies all day, and mom in charge of the turkey.  Well, about four hours after she put the bird in, the oven in that old apartment burnt through the element shooting the oven temp up over 500 degrees.  Luckily, someone noticed that, although to this day I still don’t know exactly what happened.  A call to the apartment office, and the manager (who thankfully was still there) happened to have an empty apartment where they could use the oven.  Unfortunately, when DH grabbed the turkey out of our burned up oven, a tidal wave of turkey juice and grease crested over the top of the roaster and down the front of his shirt.   Soaking wet with hot broth, he managed to get the turkey over to the other place, and cleaned up both the kitchen and himself before I got home.   I was grateful that I didn’t know about this while it was happening!!  And the turkey was still delicious the next day as it was supposed to be.

Brining Turkey - 17

So on this day, set a pretty table and bake a delicious turkey, using your favorite method.

Thanksgiving Tablescape 9

Count your blessings.  I am most grateful for family and friends, and for internet friends and followers, including you, dear reader.

Thanksgiving Decor 6

These guys are thankful to still be here.  I am thankful to have such wonderful wildlife walking past our windows on a regular basis.

November Turkeys 2015 - 7

Just for fun, see my Thanksgiving post from last year about the Macy’s parade, and my Pinterest board Thanksgiving Parade! with loads of photos from previous parades including a lot of historic photos.

Have a wonderful Thanksgiving day, and weekend.  Do you have a holiday story to share?


How to Brine and Bake a Moist Succulent Turkey

Now I know what you are thinking, and I used to say the same thing – I don’t have the space to do this.  But, you do.  It is easier than you think.  I have to say, this is absolutely the best turkey you will ever eat.  The true test of how moist and juicy the turkey can be is not the day you cook it, but the day after.  Most every turkey will be wonderful right out of the oven, but it is the next day when a truly dry turkey shows itself.  Brining the turkey adds moisture to the meat, and contrary to popular belief, it doesn’t make the turkey salty. I wanted you to have enough time to get your turkey defrosted and a bucket at the store so you can begin this recipe on Wednesday evening.  Updated again 2016 – I learn more ever year and have made some additional adjustments.

Brining Turkey - 18

Before we start, I want to tell you that you don’t need a fresh turkey for this recipe, in fact, I always use a frozen turkey that I have defrosted.  It is great for the store brand, frozen ones that go on sale the week before Thanksgiving, this year it was 57¢ a pound.   I allow four days in the refrigerator to defrost up to a 20 pound turkey. It is OK if the very center is still partly frozen when it goes into the brine. This brine is a much lower salt-to-water ratio than others you’ll find, so it takes into account the saline that many turkey producers put in their frozen birds. You can add anything else you like – citrus peels, herbs, onion, garlic, whatever makes you happy. The primary purpose of this method is to add moisture, so I just do the salt water.

Brining Turkey - 17

Start by rinsing the turkey and removing the giblets bags from both the body cavity and the neck area.  Oh, and just so you know, the pictures are from last year’s holiday.  I saved the them to share now.  My turkey has just gone from the freezer to the frig today so it will be defrosted by Wednesday.

Brining Turkey - 2

Now, prepare a bucket large enough to hold your turkey.  I found a 5 gallon paint bucket from the hardware store was ideal for up to a 20 pound turkey. I wash the bucket, then line the bucket with a browning bag, which is all those bags are good for. Years ago, I used them to cook the turkey, but realized that the meat was so dry the next day a mountain of mayonnaise or gravy wouldn’t help it.  I saw Rachel Ray’s show earlier this week on turkeys, and the one in the browning bag got to 193 degrees on the breast in just two hours!  Talk about overcooked and dry!  So just put the bag in the bucket.

Brining Turkey - 5

Mix salt and cold water, pour into the bucket.  I use less salt than others, just 1/4 cup for 4+ gallons of water. Add the turkey.  Fill up the bucket around the turkey with cold water, swishing it around with your hand to mix the salt-water in.

Brining Turkey - 1

Tie the bag closed, using the tab in the box.

Brining Turkey - 4

Put the lid on the bucket.  This is how you get your shelf space back. Remove one of the shelves in the frig, and place the bucket in the space. There is enough space to fit the pie for the next day’s dinner on top of the bucket.  Let it sit overnight.

Brining Turkey - 6

Later, I stuffed in more pre-prepped dishes and a couple dozen eggs, remember, it is only one night and you’ll get that space back the next day. The turkey can stay in the brine overnight and through the next morning. I typically leave it for about 16 hours.

Brining Turkey - 7

Drain the water. The salt water will add moisture and flavor to the meat, while any remaining blood gets washed away. Rinse the turkey inside and out to remove any excess salt water. Don’t forget to sanitize your countertop and sink afterward – I use a disinfecting spray and paper towels so I don’t transfer bacteria on a sponge.

Brining Turkey - 9

Place the turkey on a baking rack sprayed with cooking spray in your roaster.  If the bird has one of those pop-up timer thingys, remove it.  They never work.

Brining Turkey - 10

Season as you like, I used garlic, lemon-pepper, sage and oregano this time. Stuff the cavity with onion, garlic, leeks, rosemary, bay leaves, or whatever other aromatics you like. Don’t stuff the turkey with your dressing, it takes too long to get the internal temperature of the stuffing safe at 165 degrees, and in the meantime your breast meat will dry out and overcook.

Brining Turkey - 11

Now, cover the breast meat with foil for the first hour 30 minutes of cooking.  This will give the dark meat a head start, so the entire turkey comes out at the right temperature at the same time.  Many other recipes say to cover the breast after it gets brown, but by then it is too late.  The breast continues to cook under the foil to overdone and dry, and the skin sticks to the foil.

Brining Turkey - 12

Bake one-half hour at 350 degrees.

Brining Turkey - 13

Remove the foil after half an hour, return to the oven, lower the temp to 325 degrees and bake for a total of 10 minutes per pound.  Check it with a meat thermometer about half an hour before time in case it is done a bit early, with different ovens this can happen. [I found in 2016 that 10 minutes per pound brought the white meat to the perfect temperature, and the dark meat was perfect too. The temperature will rise while resting to a higher temperature, so next year I am going to take it out with 5 degrees to go. The turkey meat, both dark and light, was moist and juicy for days.  In previous years I did 15 minutes per pound and it came out overcooked with the temperature around 180 in the breast and 195 in the thigh, but still juicy.  This time, at 10 minutes per pound, it was perfect. I checked the temperature every 30 minutes to get the perfect timing this year so I could tell you.]

Brining Turkey - 14

Check the temperature with a meat thermometer, I use a digital one.  The breast meat should be 165 degrees, while dark meat needs 180 degrees to be more tender and be sure it is done all the way to the bone.   Let it rest at least 20 minutes before carving.  It will stay warm tented with foil. [In 2016, I let it rest one hour and it was still warm at dinnertime, and even more juicy than before.]  This allows the proteins to relax and reabsorb the moisture into the meat.  Wonderful!  One caution, if you use some of the turkey juices to punch up your gravy, only use a couple of large spoonfuls, and don’t add any salt to the gravy.  If you accidentally get the gravy salty, put a peeled potato in it and let it cook for a while.  The potato will remove some of the salt.  Just taste and when you think it is good, serve.

Brining Turkey - 15

Perfect turkey, dark meat done and white meat tender and juicy.

Brining Turkey - 16

Days later, the breast meat will still be juicy and flavorful! Perfect for sandwiches.

Brining Turkey - 17

Enjoy!  Happy Thanksgiving!  Have you ever brined a turkey? Do you plan to try it?



Roasted Garlic Turkey Breast

Roasted Turkey Breast is a frequent meal around my house. Those half-breasts are often on sale at the local grocery store, and feed two nicely with some sandwich slices left over for taking to work for lunch the next day.  It needs to have some stronger seasoning so it doesn’t taste the same as the Thanksgiving meal.  One way I do that is with  Roasted Garlic.

Roasted Garlic Butter Turkey 4

For this meal, put 2 tablespoons of real, unsalted butter and 1 tablespoon roasted garlic in a small bowl.  You can use a little more or less to taste.

Roasted Garlic Butter 1

Mix well and set aside.

Roasted Garlic Butter 2

I like to brine the turkey breast for about an hour.  It put moisture in the meat and draws out any blood that might be left.  Start with a large bowl and about a tablespoon of salt.

Brine Turkey Breast - 1

Add cold water and mix a bit to dissolve the salt. Then add the turkey breast and more cold water to cover the breast.

Brine Turkey Breast - 2

Cover with wax paper or plastic wrap, and let sit for about an hour.  It is safe for an hour on the countertop, any longer should be done in the refrigerator.

Brine Turkey Breast - 4

Take the turkey out of the brine, pat dry. Then, spread the roasted garlic butter over the raw turkey breast in an even layer, tucking some under the skin.

Roasted Garlic Butter Turkey 1

Sprinkle with lemon pepper seasoning.

Roasted Garlic Butter Turkey 2

Bake at 350 degrees until done, about 15 minutes per pound, or until a thermometer registers 160 degrees in the thickest part of the breast.

Roasted Garlic Butter Turkey 3

Let it rest, covered with aluminum foil, for at least 10 minutes to reabsorb the juices into the meat. The temperature will continue to rise to 165-170.

Roasted Garlic Butter Turkey 5

Serve lovely thick slices of moist, juicy, tender turkey with a wonderfully light touch of garlic. Heavenly!

Roasted Garlic Butter Turkey 6

Yum! I’ll serve a fresh stacked tomato salad with goat cheese and balsamic vinaigrette with the turkey, and Parsley New Potatoes – recipe coming soon!

Roasted Garlic Butter Turkey 4

Anybody hungry?

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Panko Crusted Deviled Turkey Breast

One of my favorite things to do is to cook for guys.  It is fun to prepare something hearty and flavorful, and watch it disappear with second helpings.  Recently, I had one of my husband’s friends over for dinner while his wife was out of town visiting her family.  DH and best car buddy had been tinkering with the LBC (little British car) pretty much all day.  So, it was only fitting to ask him to come over for a meal.


I had a turkey breast defrosted, and I wanted to do something special that the guys would ‘gobble’ up (yes, I know, but I couldn’t resist that one!)  I had put a similar topping on chicken before, so I took my basic recipe and added a bit of devilish heat.


I started with these ingredients. Oh, and please use real cheese, not the powdered stuff in the jar with the green lid – that stuff is only good for wallpaper paste or kindergarten art projects.

Panko Crusted Deviled Turkey 2

I like to brine the breast for an hour in salted water. It puts moisture in the meat and any blood will be removed.

Panko Crusted Deviled Turkey 1

Dry off the breast so the topping will adhere to the meat.

Panko Crusted Deviled Turkey 3

I mixed mayonnaise with Grey Poupon mustard, added some spices and real Parmesan cheese.

Panko Crusted Deviled Turkey 6

Spread it over the top of the turkey breast.

Panko Crusted Deviled Turkey 8

Sprinkle with seasoned panko bread crumbs.  Spray lightly with cooking spray.

Panko Crusted Deviled Turkey 9

Bake at 350 degrees for one hour, or until the temperature reaches 165 degrees.


Setting the table was simple, just make it guy friendly.  I used the half square triangle quilt as a tablecloth, with placemats on top. Some green plants in planters for the centerpiece to the side so the food would take center stage.  Not too much frufru, just a good meal. My big, brown, 20-inch square napkins were perfect.

Guy thing tablescape 5

The turkey was served with baked potatoes, garlic bread and a huge salad, full of lovely tidbits like avocado, fresh spinach, dried cranberries, tomatoes, Parmesan cheese and sunflower seeds. They dug in pretty quick, I had to snap a shot before it was all gone.

Guy thing tablescape 6

Moist and juicy with a crispy topping, this won’t last long at your house either.


 Panko Crusted Deviled Turkey Breast

1 3-4 pound split turkey breast
1/2 cup mayonnaise
1 tablespoon Grey Poupon mustard
1 teaspoon lemon-pepper seasoning
1 teaspoon garlic salt
1 teaspoon parsley flakes
1 teaspoon oregano leaves
1/4 cup (or about 4 oz) fresh grated Parmesan cheese
1/4 cup seasoned Panko bread crumbs
no-stick spray

Wash turkey breast and place in a baking dish sprayed with no-stick spray. Combine mayonnaise and next six ingredients in a bowl, then spread mixture over the turkey breast. Top with Panko bread crumbs, and lightly spray with cooking spray. Bake one hour at 350 degrees, or until a thermometer reads 165 degrees. Let rest 5 minutes before carving. That is if the guys can stand it that long!

PankoTurkey 11

It would do well in smaller amounts on chicken breasts too, for a single serving, or for two.



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