Mandel Bread

ūüéĄ My Grandma’s Christmas cookie.¬†ūüéĄ

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My grandmother’s favorite cookie to make for Christmas is traditionally a cookie that is made for passover, but she loved them and every year she would make a big batch at Christmas time¬†to share with us all.

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She loved this cookie so much, she actually typed the recipe up. How cute was she!!!! I just love this piece of paper , so I framed it and keep it stored with my Christmas decorations to display on my kitchen counter each year.

Here is what you will need:

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  • 4 cups sifted flour
  • 4 eggs
  • 1¬ľ cup sugar
  • ¬ĺ cup of veggie oil
  • 1¬ľ teaspoon baking powder
  • 2 tablespoons almond extract
  • 1 cup chocolate chips
  • 1 cup chopped walnuts

Here is what you need to do:

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Mix eggs, sugar, oil and almond extract until nicely blended.

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Slowly mix in flour and baking powder.

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By hand mix in chocolate chips and walnuts and make sure that all ingredients are mixed in evenly. The batter will be sticky, so you will need to oil your hands to form into a loaf.

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This recipe makes three loaves. Two will fit nicely on a parchment lined baking sheet. Bake at 350 degrees for 45 -50 minutes. You want the loaves to be golden brown.

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Let them cool completely and then slice into 1 inch cookies.

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Time to decorate. :)

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My grandmother would use a tub of store-bought icing to frost the cookies, but I like to drizzle  them in melted chocolate and then top with fun Christmas sprinkles.

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This is a terrible picture, but look how cute Jaxie is in the back just wishing a cookie would fall. ¬†ūüėČ

A great thing about this recipe is that you can change-up the add ins with whatever you like. Almonds, cranberries and dark chocolate might be in my next batch. :)

Hope you like them.

 

xoxo

Jill ♥

Thanksgiving Leftovers Pot Pie

Now, let’s see what I have left to use.

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In my house the day after Thanksgiving is officially called “Leftovers Pot Pie Day”. ¬†Every year I just take whatever is left from our Thanksgiving dinner and bake it into a yummy personal pot pie. The ingredients aren’t always the same, but somehow they always turn out great and my kids look forward to digging into one.

Here is what I am using this year :

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  • leftover turkey
  • leftover string bean casserole
  • leftover potato gratin
  • leftover brussels sprouts
  • 4 cups milk
  • 4 tablespoons butter
  • 4 tablespoons flour
  • 2 packages of pie crust
  • 1 egg
  • salt & pepper

Here is what you need to do :

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Chop up your leftovers into bite size pieces.

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Next, melt the 4 tablespoons of butter and then stir in flour. Cook for a few minutes and then add in milk. Season with salt & pepper and make sure to give a good stir once in a while. Cook until thickened. Stir in chopped up leftovers and cook on low for a few minutes.

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Line your baking dish with half of a pie crust and fill up with filling. Cover with other half of crust making sure to crimp the edges. Cut three slits in the center and give the top a brushing of egg wash. Sprinkle with salt & pepper. Bake at 350 degrees until golden brown and bubbly.

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I have made pot pies with a store-bought rotisserie chicken and a bag of frozen mixed veggies and they still turn out great. So have fun and get creative and most of all….

Enjoy :)

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Happy Thanksgiving

 

xoxo

Jill ♥

Turkey Sugar Cream Cheese Cookies

KK’s in the kitchen. :)

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One of my most favorite things about holiday baking is that when its time to make cookies, my daughter Kailey ( a.k.a. KK ) is always happy to help out.  I just adore being around her and her fantastic self, so if it takes making a batch of her favorite sugar cream cheese cookies to get her with me, Then So Be It!!! I even get to use one of my fun springerle molds, which is how I learned about this recipe.

Here is what you will need:

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  • 2 cups of flour
  • ¬ľ teaspoon salt
  • ¬ĺ cup butter – softened
  • ¬ĺ cup sugar
  • 1 egg yolk
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla
  • 2 ounces cream cheese – softened

Here is what you need to do:

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Sift together the flour and salt. ¬†Cream butter and cream cheese together and gradually add in sugar until it’s all mixed. Add egg yolk and vanilla and then slowly add in the flour/salt mixture.

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Give the sides of the bowl a good scrapping and then give the cookie dough a good mix by hand.

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Wrap the finished dough up in plastic wrap and refrigerate for at least 4 hours. I usually make  the dough the night before and roll out and bake the cookies in the morning.

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This dough works great with any cookie cutter, but what I love is that it holds its shape so well that I get to use my turkey mold that I bought online at http://www.springerle.com .

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Roll out your dough evenly to about¬†¬ľ inch thickness, making sure all your tools and surfaces are thoroughly floured.

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Place cut out cookies on a parchment lined baking sheet and bake at 350 degrees for 10 minutes. They will be light in color and slightly browned on the bottom.

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#favoritegirlieintheworldrighthere

:)

 

xoxo

Jill ♥

 

 

Yukon Gold Potato Gratin

Thanksgiving is not a time for counting calories and this gratin is so worth every one. ¬†ūüėČ

 

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There is just something about cheese and potatoes that makes me a happy girl. :) ¬†That’s why I only make this dish about twice a year, because I just can’t stop taking one more spoonful. ¬†Let’s just say¬†”¬†IT’S ON ” ¬†when this comes to the table.

Here is what you will need:

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The measurements will depend on how big of a gratin you are making

  • Yukon gold potatoes – cleaned and sliced
  • heavy cream
  • butter – cubed
  • shredded mozzarella – you are going to have to use the supermarket kind for this. Fresh mozzarella will make the gratin too watery.
  • salt

Here is what you need to do:

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Slice your potatoes about a ¬†¬ľ inch thick.

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Layer the potatoes in your baking dish, making sure that they are overlapping. Sprinkle with a little salt.

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Spread around pieces of the cubed butter and lightly pour heavy cream over each row.

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Top with cheese and then get working on the next layer and repeat these steps. I like to only have two layers, so it’s not too thick and cooks evenly. Finish off top with a nice layer of cheese and cover with foil. ¬†Bake at 350 degrees for 30 minutes, then remove foil and continue baking for an additional 20 -30 minutes. You want the top golden and potatoes fork tender. Let it sit for a bit when it’s done so it will all set up.

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I got this recipe from my mother in law, but I believe she uses two different types of cheese in her version.  Might be fun to add in some of your favorites.

Hope you like it. :)

Next up:

My favorite girlie will help me make

Turkey Sugar Cream Cheese Cookies.

 

xoxo

Jill ♥

 

Individual Sweet Potato Casserole

There just has to be a sweet potato casserole at my Thanksgiving table!!!

 

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Unfortunately my family doesn’t feel the same way. ¬†For me there is just something about the mixture of a sweet potato with all these trimmings that bring a smile to my face and let me know that the holiday season is officially here. ¬†So instead of making a whole casserole that hardly gets touched, ¬†I make¬†an¬†easy individual sweet potato casserole for fans like me.

Here is what you will need:

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  • sweet potatoes – nice sized and scrubbed clean
  • butter
  • brown sugar
  • mini marshmallows
  • pecans – chopped
  • salt & pepper

Here is what you need to do:

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Rub your sweet potatoes with a little oil and sprinkle with salt & pepper. ¬†Wrap them up tightly ¬†in foil and place in a slow cooker. Add about a¬†¬Ĺ cup of water to the base of the slow cooker. ¬†It’s ok to stack the potatoes if you are making a bunch. ¬†I like to use the slow cooker with this dish. This way I can set it all up and forget about them until it’s time to finish them under the broiler.

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Cook on high for 4 hours.

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When they are ready, slice open and break up the inside with a fork. Sprinkle with brown sugar, salt & pepper. Cube up butter and add a few pieces to the mix.  Top with mini marshmallows and chopped pecans and put under broiler until marshmallows are nicely toasted.

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And there you have it. :)

Yukon Gold Potato Gratin up next.

 

xoxo

Jill  ♥

Roasted Brussels Sprouts with Bacon and Shallots

Raise Your Hand If You Love Brussels Sprouts.¬†‚úč

 

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I grew up HATING brussels sprouts. They were these boiled blobs that we were forced to eat and I swore to myself that a brussels sprout would never be on my kitchen table!!!

Well that all changed when I saw an episode of Barefoot Contessa and she changed my life forever. :)  Roasted brussels sprouts are delicious and they have turned into a main side dish in my house.  I usually just roast them with a little olive oil and salt & pepper, but for Thanksgiving I like to add a little extra to make sure they turn out to be special and yummy for everyone to enjoy.

Here is what you will need:

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  • bunch of brussels sprouts – ¬†clean, cut off stems and then cut in half.
  • 4 slices of bacon
  • 1 shallot – sliced
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • salt & pepper

Here is what you need to do:

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Partially cook your bacon and reserve the bacon grease. Don’t let it get to crispy, it will crisp up in the oven.

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Give the bacon a good chop.

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When the bacon is ready, add the brussels sprouts, chopped bacon and sliced shallots to a sheet pan. Coat with bacon grease, olive oil, salt & pepper. ¬†As Ina would say ” a chef’s best tool are clean hands “. ¬†So just give it all a good toss until everything is mixed and coated. ¬†Roast in the oven at 400 degrees for 20-25 minutes, giving a good toss once in a while.

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This dish is so easy to make and will turn any Brussels Sprout hater into a lover every time.

Now what should be next ?¬†ūüėč

 

 

xoxo

Jill ♥

Crispy Parmesan Cauliflower

The first of my Thanksgiving side dishes

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Thanksgiving is my husbands favorite holiday and he happily takes charge of preparing the turkey, stuffing and gravy.

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He does such an awesome job every year, which puts the pressure on me to whip up some tasty side dishes. I am usually a big fan of roasting vegetables, but its Thanksgiving and time to indulge and worry about calories another day. ūüėČ ¬†So for my next few blogs I’m going to share my favorite side dishes that I make every year.

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First up: Cauliflower

I believe this side dish came from my father’s side of the family, but did not include the parmesan cheese. I love the¬†taste the cheese¬†gives to the cauliflower and is even more delicious when you use a piece to soak up some gravy.

Here is what you will need:

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  • head of cauliflower
  • 3-4 eggs
  • 2 cups flour
  • 3/4 cup grated parmesan cheese
  • salt & pepper
  • Vegetable oil

Here is what you need to do:

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Cut the head of cauliflower into good size pieces and steam for about 5 minutes.

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While the cauliflower pieces are steaming and getting slightly tender, combine the flour, cheese and large pinch of salt and pepper in a large zip lock bag. Give a good shake and get to beating your eggs.

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Time to get yourself set up for some dipping and a shaking. Just dip the cauliflower in the egg and then place it in the bag and shake till coated. I throw a couple of pieces in at a time and start frying while I continue on with coating the rest of the cauliflower. Remember to shake off the excess flour when removing the coated cauliflower from the bag.

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Your oil needs to be hot before you start frying up the cauliflower. You want them to get golden brown on each side, so keep turning until they are all done.

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Lay your golden brown pieces out on paper towels and give a good sprinkling of kosher salt. Continue on with frying up the rest.

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They really are yummy and you won’t be able to resist eating a few while you are finishing up. ¬†I place them in an oven proof¬†shallow dish, so they don’t get mushy and then keep them in my warming draw until dinner time.

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Thanksgiving 2014

I think my favorite way to prepare Brussel Sprouts  will be next, so make sure to check back in. :)

 

xoxo

Jill ♥

Trip to Trader Joe’s

My Trader Joe’s Must Haves :)

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Trader Joe’s is one of my favorite stores to go to. It is full of fun, tasty good for you products that are so different from what you find in a regular supermarket. ¬†I’m always on the hunt to try out something new, but there a bunch of must haves for my family that I pick up every time I go.

Coffee:

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I love to try out different blends of coffee and Trader Joe’s has a really nice selection. ¬†My cutie of a Colombian husband picked this out, so we headed off to their awesome grinder to get the beans ready for some brewing.

Cheese:

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There are so many different types of cheese to choose from, but my two favorites are Gruyère and Brie. If you want to make a pretty cheeseboard for the holidays, definitely go check out their cheese selection.

Sliced Cured Meats:

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All you need is this and a crunchy french baguette and all will be right in the world. ūüėČ

Frozen:

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We are huge fans of indian food and this frozen meal is so good that my kids will come home from school and choose it over sweets anytime. I am always sure to buy a bunch to store in my freezer.

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My daughter will heat this up and eat it for a meal. It’s more of a tasty,¬†quick and easy side dish for me to use on a busy night.

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These are my go to burgers when I am on a strict diet. They are low in calories and so good with roasted veggies or even on a toasted bun with avocado, lettuce and tomato.

Bread:

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Big favorite of mine. I usually just cut them in half and toast them up. Perfect in the morning with a little butter and jelly or even for your eggs Benedict.  A bag of these never last long in my house.

Chips & Crackers:

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Love Love these!!!

Olive oil:

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They really have great prices when it comes to olive oil and this is my favorite to use for salad dressing and sautéing vegetables.

Sweets:

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You just can’t go wrong with chocolate and nuts.

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I love french macarons and what’s even better is that they come out with different flavors for each season. I can’t wait to try the four spice caramel :)

We left Trader Joe’s with a big cart full, so hopefully I’ll have some new favorites for you real soon.

xoxo

Jill ♥

 

 

 

 

Pizza Dough Fun

Making pizza dough is like a fun science experiment you get to eat. :)

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I adore pizza and get a true kick out of making my own dough. I just love how you can take simple ingredients and make them into something that can be used for a meal that can be savory or sweet. Pizza is always a big hit in my house, so I’m going to share with you how I make my dough that works out every time.

Here is what you will need:

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  • 1 packet of yeast
  • 1 teaspoon of sugar
  • 1 1/2 cups of hot tap water
  • 4 cups of bread flour ( maybe a little more if dough is sticky)
  • 1 teaspoon of kosher salt
  • 1/3 cup of olive oil
  • 1 tablespoon honey

Here is what you need to do:

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First, mix 1 1/2 cups of hot tap water and a  teaspoon of sugar. Give a good stir and them mix in your packet of yeast and set aside to proof.

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While the yeast is getting all bubbly, mix the flour, salt and olive oil.

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Pour in the yeast mixture and then the honey and mix until the dough forms into a nice smooth ball.

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If you see it sticking to the sides of the bowl, just add more flour until it is all formed and the sides of the bowl are clean. It will probably take about 10 minutes.

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Coat a large bowl with olive oil and place dough inside.

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Cover with a damp cloth and set aside in a warm spot for 2-3 hours.

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and…. ¬†Voila!!!

So Fun ūüėČ

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Cut your huge dough ball into 4 pieces. I am just making lunch for the baby and me, so I packed up the rest for the freezer.

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I rolled out my dough ball to fit my favorite cast iron pizza pan, which I always preheat and brush with olive oil before laying my dough on it. Then I brush the top of the dough with olive oil and sprinkle with a little salt and pepper. If I was making something sweet with my dough I would brush it with a little melted butter and add a light sprinkle of sugar. I like my dough crunchy, so I bake it at 500 degrees for a couple of minutes before adding any toppings.

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I like to get the¬†most out of my pizza pie, so I divided it into thirds and made a fun lunch for ¬†us to…..

Enjoy

 

xoxo

Jill ♥

Time-Out Turkey Lettuce Wraps

Curse you Fun-Size Snickers!!

Halloween came and I completely lost my mind. ¬†I don’t think I passed that bowl once without shoving two pieces of candy in my mouth. Oh well, time to get back on track ( until Thanksgiving of course ūüėČ ) and prepare something a little healthier.

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This is such a great lettuce wrap that¬†is not only easy to make, it’s so¬†tasty and good for you.

Here is what you will need:

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  • head of iceberg lettuce
  • 1/2 cup low sodium chicken broth
  • 1/4 cup low sodium soy sauce
  • 2 tablespoons light brown sugar
  • 1 tablespoon corn starch
  • 2 tablespoons of vegetable oil
  • 1 1/2 lbs of ground turkey
  • 1 yellow pepper – diced
  • 1 carrot – diced
  • 2 garlic cloves – minced
  • 1 tablespoon fresh ginger – grated
  • 1/2 cup water chestnuts – diced
  • 1/4 cup thinly sliced scallions
  • Chopped cilantro and siracha for toppings (optional)

Here is what you need to do:

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Separate and clean your lettuce and store in the refrigerator. Chop up your pepper, carrot, water chestnuts, garlic, scallions and grate your ginger.

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Next, cook ground turkey in the two tablespoons of vegetable oil until no longer pink and broken up into small pieces.

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Add pepper, carrot, garlic and ginger and give a good stir. Cook for a few minutes.

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While veggies are cooking, whisk together chicken broth, soy sauce, brown sugar and corn starch. Add to turkey mixture along with water chestnuts. Give a good stir and cook on low heat until liquid is absorbed and evaporated.

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Add scallions and mix it all up. Now your ready to plate :)

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Lay out your lettuce leaf and fill it up with the yummy turkey veggie mix. I top mine with some fresh cilantro leaves and a few dabs of siracha.

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Roll it up and dig in!!

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I was lucky to have my favorite girlie in the whole world home with me today and she was happy to get her healthy grub on with me.

Hope you like it :)

 

xoxo

Jill ♥

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