Thursday, October 19, 2017

A Good Roast Beef

With Gravy


With the holidays ‘a coming we all want to do something hearty and protein rich with which to warm friends and family . Unfortunately, with employment opportunities in the dumpster for anyone born after 1980, buying a roast beef can seem like a BIG expense for something you’re only going to enjoy once.

But it doesn’t have to be that way.

A roast can be a great investment if you’re frugal and willing to learn how to stretch it. With a few clever tricks, you can use a roast for over 3 meals instead of just the big one. I’m ready and willing to show you how.

But first, you need to learn how to make a roast beef.

The trick a moist, tasty roast is patience and a good gravy.


Here’s How You Do It

Difficulty Level: Medium -Easy
Prep  time: 15 Minutes
RoastingTime: 60 to 90 minutes or more depending on the size of your roast

Serves 4 to 12 depending on the size of the roast you get and the number of side dishes you serve with it


Ingredients

1 Rib Roast of Beef - I’m not specifying a size here because I’m going to give guidelines that you can tweak based on how big a roast you get. A three and a half pound beef roast will serve 4 people. Add a half pound for every meat eater you’ll be serving to estimate the size you’ll need. To save even more money, buy when it’s on sale and freeze. It will keep in the freezer for up to three months and you can thaw it out in the fridge three  or four days before you need to cook it.

Salt and Pepper OR Montreal Steak Spice – I prefer the latter as it has more dimension in flavor, but salt and pepper is easier to come by.

Vegetable Oil

GRAVY
Yields about 2 ½ Cups of Gravy

2 Cups Beef Broth

1 Cup Red Wine

1 Teaspoon of Worcestshire Sauce

1 Tablespoon of Soy Sauce

1 Teaspoon of Red Wine or Balsamic Vinegar

½ Teaspoon of Dijon Mustard

1 Tablespoon of Canned Cranberry Sauce (Optional) – It adds wonderful sweetness and depth, but it’s not necessary

Salt – To Taste

1 Tablespoon of Softened Butter Mashed Together with 1 ½ Tablespoons of All Purpose Flour

Equipment

Measuring Cups and Spoons

1 Whisk

1 Frying Pan

1 Baking Dish

1 Pair of Tongs

1 Small Mixing Bowl

1 Large Cutting Board

Kitchen scale – You can get one of these for as little as 10 bucks.

1 Serrated Knife

ROAST

Weigh your roast as its weight will determine the roasting time.

Preheat the oven to 350 oF.

In the small mixing bowl, combine the vegetable oil and salt and pepper.

Rub it all over the meat.

Heat your flying pan on high and brown the roast on all sides, turning it once one side is brown using your trusty tongs.

Put the roast in your baking pan and pop it in the oven. Set the frying pan aside but don’t wash it yet. You’ll need it to make your gravy.

For a Rare roast beef, roast it 15 minutes for every pound of meat you have. For Medium Rare, 20 minutes per pound. For Medium, 25 minutes, per pound, and if you like it well done, 30 minutes per pound.

Once your roast is done, take it out of the oven put it on a cutting board to rest for 15 minutes. DO NOT CUT INTO IT! Cutting the meat before it has rested will dry it out!

Instead, use the time to make your gravy.

Dump the beef stock and wine in your baking pan and whisk it, making sure to scrap all the brown bits that came off the meat from the bottom of the pan.

Pour everything into the frying pan you used earlier and put the heat on medium-high.

Add the Soy Sauce, Worcestershire Sauce, Vinegar, Cranberry Sauce (if using) and Dijon mustard and whisk to break up the cranberry (it’s a bit gelatinous and needs some work) and evenly combine everything.

Bring to a boil and simmer until the liquid has reduced by a third (about 10 or 15 minutes).

Whisk in the butter and flour mixture, a little at a time until the gravy is thick enough for you.

Salt the gravy to your taste and pour into your desired serving vessel – a coffee mug and a spoon will work fine for this if you don’t have a gravy boat.

When the meat has rested long enough, carve it against the grain of the meat using a serrated knife and serve!

Wrap up the bones and any leftovers  and put them in the fridge. Stay tuned for next time when I’ll show you how to transform them into amazing meals!

 Enjoy!


-Samantha R. Gold

Questions? Comments? Requests?

Bring it on!

I can be reached at:  for.the.culinarily.challenged@gmail.com

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Tuesday, September 26, 2017

Whole Wheat Pasta with Spinach, Garlic, and Bacon



A Slightly Healthier Way to Eat Bacon


Bacon is an ingredient that's all the rage right now and it’s easy to see why. It’s smokey, salty, and fatty and as a result, it tastes of sin. Not only is it forbidden in two of the three Abrahamic religions and vegetarianism and veganism, but as we all know, bacon is chock-full of cholesterol and salt and is therefore a health hazard. However, there is a way to enjoy bacon without putting yourself at risk.

The trick is to use only a little bacon and surround with healthier ingredients. 

This pasta dish does EXACTLY that, smothering the bacon with spinach, garlic, and cherry tomatoes and tossing it with whole wheat noodles for a nice dose of fiber. The bacon is strong enough to hold its own against the other ingredients, and the result is something delicious you don’t have to feel bad about!

(Of course, if you can’t eat bacon, feel free to omit it and use olive oil and butter as your cooking fats. It will taste just fine 😉 )

Here’s How You Do It

Difficulty Level: Medium-Easy
Prep time: 10 Minutes
Cook time: 15-20 minutes
Serves 2 

Ingredients

3 Strips of Low Sodium Bacon, thinly chopped

1 ¼ Cups Frozen Chopped Spinach, thawed – about half of a 300g pack

1 Cup of Chopped Cherry or Grape Tomatoes

2 Scallions aka Green Onions, finely chopped

2 Cloves of Garlic, peeled and finely chopped

Pinch of Hot Pepper flakes, Optional

1 Tablespoon of prepared Pesto

Salt and Pepper to taste

½ of a 375g box of Whole Wheat Pasta

Equipment

1 Knife and Cutting Board

Measuring Cups and Spoons

1 Pot

1 Frying Pan

1 Wooden Spoon

1 Pair of Tongs

1 Strainer

Fill a pot with water and get your pasta started, boiling and stirring occasionally with your tongs until it’s your level of doneness. When it’s ready, drain off most but not all of the water.

While the pasta is boiling, in a pan on medium high heat, dump the bacon and a cup of water.

Stir the bacon occasionally with a wooden spoon until the water has evaporated, the meat has released its wonderful fat, and is crisp around the edges.

Scoop the bacon into a regular bowl and set aside.

Pour off half the fat in the pan and discard or put in an airtight container for future use.

Raise the heat to high and add the spinach, stirring it around until heated slightly.

Add the tomatoes and green onions and stir for another three minutes.

Add the garlic and hot pepper flakes (if using) and stir all together until you smell the cooked garlic.

Add the pesto and stir again.

Add the bacon back into the pan and stir again.

Taste and adjust for salt if needed. Season generously with fresh pepper.

Add the pasta to your pan and toss everything together with your trusty tongs until well combined.

Serve with a little parmesan cheese and enjoy!

-Samantha R. Gold

Questions? Comments? Requests?

Bring it on!

I can be reached at:  for.the.culinarily.challenged@gmail.com

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Tuesday, September 12, 2017

No-Bake Chocolate Peanut Butter Crunch Cookies



No-Bake cookies were all the rage in the 70s as more women freed themselves from the shackles of their domestic prisons and entered the workforce. Tighter schedules meant less time to bake goodies for screaming children, so clever cooks came up with more no bake treats that went beyond the classic rice krispie square.

This recipe is a riff on one I found in a 1970s copy of Better Homes and Gardens Cookies and Bars cookbook. The original recipe used butterscotch chips instead of chocolate, but having tried the former, I can tell you the flavor was so artificial and sweet it gave me a bit of a headache. In an attempt to make this work, I did a little tweaking and was so happy with the result that I HAD to share it with you.

Like the original recipe, I use peanut butter and cereal, but I use bittersweet chocolate chips instead of butterscotch and add a hit of sea salt to cut the sugar a bit. The result is something so crunchy and melty-good you’ll have trouble sharing them!

Here’s How You Do It

Difficulty Level: Easy
Total Prep time: 15 Minutes
Fridge Time: 1 Hour

Yields about 2 dozen cookies, depending on how you big you make them

Ingredients

3 Cups of Frosted Flakes Cereal – Generic brand is just fine – buy what’s on sale.

1 Cup of Bittersweet Chocolate Chips

½ Cup of Smooth Peanut Butter

½ Teaspoon of Sea Salt

Equipment

1 Metal Mixing Bowl

1 Medium Size Pot

1 Wooden Spoon or Rubber Spatula

Measuring Cups and Spoons

Oven Mitts

Parchment Paper – Available in dollar stores and major grocery stores with the plastic wrap and aluminum foil

2 Baking Pans

1 Regular Spoon

Line your baking sheets with parchment paper and set aside for now.

Fill your pot 3/4 of the way with hot water and put it on the stove on low heat.

Dump the peanut butter and chocolate chips in the metal mixing bowl and rest it atop the pot of water.

Stir occasionally with a wooden spoon or rubber spatula, holding the bowl steady with an oven mitted hand until the chips are completely melted and combined with the peanut butter.

Turn off the heat and rest the bowl on a trivet on the counter.

Stir in the sea salt.

Add the cereal and stir until it’s evenly coated with the chocolate and peanut butter mixture.

Using your trusty spoon, drop blobs of the cereal mixture onto the lined baking sheets, smoothing with the back of your spoon to form a round cookie.

Repeat the process, spacing them about half an inch apart. They won’t be perfect, and they don’t have to be.

Make some room in the fridge and put the cookie covered baking sheets in the fridge to set. It will take about an hour.

Once they’re set, you can put them in a plastic container.

They’ll keep in the fridge for at least 2 weeks…

But they won’t last that long!

Enjoy!

-Samantha R. Gold

Questions? Comments? Requests?

Bring it on!

I can be reached at:  for.the.culinarily.challenged@gmail.com

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Wednesday, September 6, 2017

Lazy Eggplant Parmesan


Nothing says comfort food quite like something baked with tomato sauce, cheese, and breadcrumbs, and no dish embodies it quite like eggplant parmesan. A deliciously layered dish of thinly sliced eggplant, tomato sauce and bubbling hot mozzarella, it’s a dish that will make anyone happy to eat their veggies. Sadly, there is a problem with traditional eggplant parm…

…It’s a pain in the butt to make.

Traditional Eggplant Parmesan requires that you thinly and laboriously slice some eggplant, dip each slice in flour, egg, and breadcrumbs, fry it all until it’s brown, AND THEN layer on the sauce and cheese before baking in the oven. People call it a labor of love, but the reason they say that is because you REALLY have to love the dish or the person you’re making it for in order to do it the old fashioned way.

Fortunately, I did some tinkering and figured out how to achieve a similar flavor and texture with a fraction of the work and time. The result is something that looks more like a casserole when sliced, but tastes just like Eggplant Parmesan!

Here’s How You Do It

Difficulty Level: Medium -Easy
Prep  time: 15 Minutes
Cook Time: 60 Minutes

Serves  2 to 4 Depending on Appetites


Ingredients

1 Large Eggplant, stem removed and flesh cut into even medium-small chunks

3 Cups of your favorite Tomato or Meat Sauce – Homemade is ideal but store-bought is fine

2 ½ Cups Grated Mozzarella Cheese

1 Cup Italian Style Breadcrumbs – These are breadcrumbs that have dried cheese and seasonings added to them.

2 Tablespoons of Grated Parmesan Cheese

2 Tablespoons of Olive Oil

Salt and Pepper, to taste

Chili flakes - Optional

Equipment

1 Medium baking dish – you want something with some depth to it

1 Knife and Cutting Board

Measuring Cups and Spoons

1 Box Grater

1 Regular Bowl

1 Frying Pan

1 Spatula

Preheat your oven to 350 o F.

Season the eggplant pieces with salt, pepper and chili flakes (if using).

Heat the Olive Oil in your frying pan on medium high heat.

Add the eggplant to your pan and cook, moving it around with your spatula until the eggplant has shrunk in size by about a third.

Carefully add your sauce of choice and stir everything around, continuing to cook for another five minutes so the eggplant has softened a little more and the sauce is heated through and fully combined.

Dump half the eggplant in the baking dish and cover with half the grated mozzarella, half the parmesan cheese, and half the breadcrumbs, in that order.

Turn off the stove and take the pan with the remaining eggplant off the heat, cover it, and set it aside for now.

Pop the baking dish in the oven and walk away for 20 minutes. This will allow the breadcrumbs to brown and crisp a bit.

Take the pan out of the oven and dump in the remaining eggplant.

Cover with the remaining mozzarella, parmesan, and breadcrumbs.

Put the dish back in the oven, set a timer for 40 minutes and walk away.

The result will be something bubbly and delicious!

Let it cool on the counter for 10 minutes so it’s not napalm-hot and serve!

Enjoy!

-Samantha R. Gold

Questions? Comments? Requests?

Bring it on!

I can be reached at:  for.the.culinarily.challenged@gmail.com

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Sunday, August 27, 2017

Cod with Lemon and Dill Pesto and Wine Roasted Tomatoes

When it comes to white fish, most people think of something breaded or battered and deep fried. As it’s usually inexpensive, it’s not considered a kind of fish for haute cuisine, but I say that if you’re clever, you can turn even the simplest ingredient into something that will wow your guests.

Take this dish.

I take the Canadian classic, Cod, and combine it with tomatoes, fresh herbs, and white wine. The result is a dish that tastes as good as anything you’d get in a fancy restaurant for a fraction of the price and without the pretentious ambiance. Though I do use dill for this recipe, basil would be great too and any leftover pesto is a great addition to tuna or egg salad, or even salad dressing!

Here’s How You Do It

Difficulty Level: Medium -Easy
Prep  time: 5-10 Minutes

Cook Time: 35 Minutes

Ingredients

1 Large White Fish Fillet or 3 Small Ones – I used cod, but use what’s easy to get

1 ½ Cups Chopped Tomatoes

2 Cloves of Garlic, peeled and finely chopped

1 ½ Cups White Wine

1 Green Onion, thinly sliced

2 Cups Fresh Dill, cleaned and cut in half

Zest of 1 Lemon

1 Lemon, thinly sliced – You can use the same lemon you got the zest from.

1 Teaspoon Salt

½ Cup + 1 Tablespoon of Olive Oil, divided

1 Tablespoon of Butter

Fresh Pepper

Equipment

1 Food Processor – this is one of the rare occasions where you DO need a food processor. If you can’t afford one, ask around. You may have a relative or friend who’ll let you use theirs in exchange for a little of the pesto.

1 Baking Pan

Measuring Cups and Spoons

One Fine Mesh Grater or Lemon Zester – Available in dollar stores

1 Regular Spatula

1 Rubber Spatula

1 Knife and Cutting Board


Preheat the oven to 350 0F.

In a baking pan, add the tomatoes, green onion, and 1 Tablespoon of Olive Oil.

Pop the pan in the oven and walk away for 20 minutes.

Pour the wine into the pan and walk away for another 10 minutes – this will allow the wine to reduce a bit and marry with the tomatoes.

Add half the minced garlic and the butter and pop it back in the oven while you get your fish ready.

Put the remaining garlic in your food processor with the lemon zest, dill, and salt and pulse until finely chopped.

With the food processor running on low, slowly add the half cup of Olive Oil through the feeder spout until a loose pesto forms. You may need to pause the food processor halfway through and scrape the inside of the bowl with a rubber spatula to ensure even mixing.

Pat your fish filet(s) dry to remove any excess moisture and smother it on both sides with your pesto. Season with a little fresh pepper.

Take the pan out of the oven and push the tomatoes to the sides.

Put your pesto smothered fish in the middle and top with the lemon slices.

Bake for 15 minutes or until the juices of the fish have turned a milky colour.

Serve with rice or potatoes and your veg of choice.

Enjoy!

-Samantha R. Gold

Questions? Comments? Requests?

Bring it on!

I can be reached at:  for.the.culinarily.challenged@gmail.com

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Monday, August 14, 2017

Asian Style Pulled Pork



Pulled pork is one of the more popular dishes out there. Every food blog and cooking show has their own version and everyone claims theirs is the best. I attribute this dish’s popularity in part to the various food networks’ shows about barbecue and the fact that it’s an inexpensive and tasty way to feed a crowd.

The secret to a good pulled pork dish is 3 things: A tough cut of pork like shoulder or butt, a whole lot of time and patience, and an amazing sauce. Tougher cuts of meat require more time to cook, but they’re way tastier and cheaper than pricey cuts like loin and filet and the fat gives them extra moisture.

When it comes to pulled pork sauces, everyone seems to go the Southwestern route so I’m trying something different. This version combines the sweet, sour, salty, spicy flavors of Asia, and like most modern pulled pork recipes, I’m doing mine in a slow cooker, not the barbecue. The advantage to the former is that you can walk away and live your life while the cooker is gently cooking and tenderising your meat! No slow cooker? No problem! I’ve included instructions for making this in the oven too.

Try it! It’s heaven in a sandwich or on a bed of rice or noodles and a side of stir fried veggies!

Ingredients

PORK

2 Pounds Bone-in Pork Shoulder with fat and skin removed – you can do this yourself or get the butcher to do it

1 Cup of Water

RUB

1 Teaspoon of Garlic Powder

2 Tablespoons Brown Sugar

1 Teaspoon of Salt

1 Teaspoon of Chinese Five Spice Powder – Available in the spice section of your grocery store

1 Tablespoon of Korean Chili Powder or Regular Chili Powder – The former is spicier and can be found in Asian markets, but use what’s easiest to find

2 Tablespoons of Vegetable Oil

SAUCE

¼ Cup Soy Sauce

½ Cup Hoisin Sauce

½ Cup of Ketchup

2 Tablespoons of Honey

2 Cloves of Grated or Crushed Garlic

1 Teaspoon of Peeled and Grated Ginger

½ Teaspoon of Sesame Oil

1 Tablespoon of Vinegar

¼ Cup Sriracha (Thai Chili Sauce) – This may seem like a lot, but the other ingredients will dull its potency quite a bit. If you can’t handle ANY heat, leave it out.

½ Teaspoon of Wasabi paste or powder (Optional)

Equipment

Tongs

1 Frying Pan

1 Sauce Pan

1 Whisk

2 Small Mixing Bowls

1 Slow Cooker or Deep Pot with lid

1 Ladle

Mix the vegetable Oil and other rub ingredients together and rub all over the pork.

Heat your frying pan on high and sear on all sides until the very outside layer of the pork is brown.

Put in your slow cooker or pot with lid.

Add a cup of water.

IF USING A SLOW COOKER, turn it on low, put the lid on, and walk away for 6 to 8 hours or until the meat falls off the bone.

IF USING A POT, put the lid on, and stick it in the oven on the lowest temperature possible. Walk away for at least 4 hours or until the meat falls apart when you try and pick it. DO NOT LEAVE THE HOUSE. You don’t want to burn it down. This is a good time to do all the at home chores you’ve been neglecting.

When the meat is ready, turn off the heat and using your trusty ladle, scoop any accumulated liquid into a small saucepan.

Add all the sauce ingredients and bring it to a boil, simmering and occasionally whisking until at least a third of the liquid has evaporated and the sauce has thickened.

Using a couple of forks, shred the meat, making sure to remove the bone and any cartilage.

Pour the sauce in with the meat and stir everything to combine.

Put the pot back on medium heat for 5 minutes so meat and sauce have a chance to really come together.

Serve and Enjoy!

-Samantha R. Gold

Questions? Comments? Requests?

Bring it on!

I can be reached at:  for.the.culinarily.challenged@gmail.com

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Sunday, August 6, 2017

Beef Stroganoff


The weather is hinting that summer is on its way out, and with it comes cooler winds and a craving for heavier, heartier food.

Beef stroganoff is one of the best and heartiest comfort foods there is. Sadly it has fallen off our menus, and I blame processed foods’ lame TV dinner versions and the modern obsession with food porn for this. A comforting dish of savory beef, mushrooms, and onions in a rich creamy sauce, it’s not the prettiest dish on earth, but it’s heaven on hot buttered noodles.

Try it.

It may become a new favorite!

Here’s How You Do It

Difficulty Level: Medium -Easy
Prep  time: 15-20 Minutes
Cook Time: 60 Minutes

Serves 4 to 6 Depending on Appetites

Ingredients

1 Pound of Stewing Beef, Thinly Sliced

2 Cups Button Mushrooms, thinly sliced – these are the regular thin mushrooms you typically find in blue or orange tubs in the grocery store – they’re also the cheapest mushrooms you can buy

2 Cups of Coarsely Chopped Onions – 2 medium onions should do it

½ Teaspoon of Paprika

Salt and Pepper To Taste

2 Cups Beef or Chicken Stock – Fresh, Instant, Canned or from a carton is just fine. Use what’s easiest for you

2 Tablespoons Worcestershire Sauce

1 Teaspoon of Soy Sauce

1 Tablespoon of Butter

1 Tablespoon of Olive Oil

1 Cup of Red Wine

1 ½ Cups Plain Greek Yogurt – Sour Cream is traditional for this dish, but I prefer Greek Yogurt because it’s a bit more tart, allowing you to cut back on the salt

¼ Cup All Purpose Flour, sifted – Sifting it will keep the flour from forming lumps when it hits the list.

Equipment

1 Large Pot with Lid

1 Mixing Spoon

Measuring Cups and Spoon

1 Knife and Cutting Board

1 Fine mesh sieve – For the flour


In a pot on medium high heat, melt the butter and olive oil together.

Add the onions and mushrooms and sauté until soft; about 10 minutes.

Season the beef with the paprika, salt, and pepper, and add it to the pot.

Stir everything together until the meat is no longer pink.

Add broth, Worcestershire sauce, soy sauce, broth, and wine.

Bring to a boil.

Lower the heat and simmer for 45 minutes, stirring every once in a while to let the liquids reduce a little and keep the bottom from burning.

Stir in the flour, breaking up any lumps.

Continue simmering until the dish has thickened a bit.

Stir in the Greek Yogurt until you can’t tell it apart from the rest of the dish.

Simmer for another 5 minutes.

Serve and Enjoy!


-Samantha R. Gold

Questions? Comments? Requests?

Bring it on!

I can be reached at:  for.the.culinarily.challenged@gmail.com

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Sunday, July 30, 2017

Fluffy Garlic Basil Goat Cheese with Summer Tomatoes


Summer is in full swing and its bounty of fruits and vegetables are local, sweet, and usually on sale. I got some beautiful local tomatoes at a pop up market - a common occurrence during the warmer months in Montreal - and wanted to make something to complement their sweet and tender meatiness.

I love goat cheese and the tart creaminess of it goes beautifully with the tomatoes’ gentle acidity. Because any idiot can serve tomatoes with plain goat cheese, I decided to spruce the cheese up a bit with the fresh sweet basil from my mother’s garden and the robustness of fresh garlic. Whipped into a flavorful spread, this dish is match made in heaven.

Though you can make this with a knife, cutting board, and whisk, if you have a food processor USE IT as it’s WAY less labour intensive and makes the goat cheese extra fluffy.

Here’s How You Do It

Difficulty Level: Easy
Prep time: 10 Minutes

Serves 2 to 4 as an appetizer or snack

Ingredients

1 – 130 g log of Soft Goat Cheese

4 Tablespoons of Olive Oil + 1 more Tablespoon for drizzling on the Tomatoes

1 Clove of Garlic, peeled

2 Cups of Fresh Basil

2 Large Summer Tomatoes, thinly sliced

Salt and Fresh Black Pepper

Equipment

Food Processor

1 Knife and Cutting Board

Measuring Spoons

1 Rubber Spatula

Dump the Basil and Garlic in your food processor.

Pulse the ingredients once or twice to coarse chop the basil and garlic.

With a rubber spatula, scrape the insides of the food processor so everything stays in range of the blade.

Add the Olive oil and process on high speed for 10-20 seconds until everything becomes more paste – like.

Add the goat cheese and process until fluffy.

I find the tang of the goat cheese is strong enough for this to not need any salt, but taste, and if you feel it needs, add and process for ten seconds to combine.

Arrange the tomato slices on a plate and drizzle on some Olive Oil.

Season with a little salt and pepper and serve with the basil/goat cheese mixture.

Enjoy!

-Samantha R. Gold


Questions? Comments? Requests?

Bring it on!

I can be reached at:  for.the.culinarily.challenged@gmail.com

Trolls will be unceremoniously deleted and dismissed.