Tag Archives: quick weeknight meals

Weekly Menus with Bonus Tapas Recipe: Week of 11/10/2013

Gentle Readers, what a long strange week it has been. Just finished up with a very large project that involved time spent cooking in a kitchen (not my own). What did I discover? I love asparagus and pancake mix is infinitely better when you doctor it. Not earth shattering, perhaps, but it’ll do for this week.

One of the best tapas from Barcelona's famed Cervezeria y Catalana, Asparagus and Mushrooms. We ordered two.

One of the best tapas from Barcelona’s famed Cervezeria y Catalana, Asparagus and Mushrooms. We ordered two.

Having recently returned from Barcelona, I find myself missing the concept of small plates. Though so much of the traditional tapas fair is meat or seafood focused, my heart was won over by the simplest of dishes, roasted mushrooms and asparagus. This was not fancy, just some good salt and olive oil, fresh ingredients, and a practiced hand.

My version of asparagus and mushrooms at home!

My version of asparagus and mushrooms at home!

Since then, it’s created a small obsession. I reenacted at home, to much fanfare (the small bit left over made for a killer lunch omelet the next day). Again, I discovered that asparagus is often the answer for me. I love the combo, too, either standing alone as tapas, or in an omelet, pasta, risotto, etc.

Asparagus from the Bull and Bear at The Waldorf Astoria in New York. My favorite thing on the menu.

Asparagus from the Bull and Bear at The Waldorf Astoria in New York. My favorite thing on the menu.

Tapas Recipe: Roasted Mushrooms and Asparagus

Heat the oven to 400 degrees F. Brush the dirt of some baby bella (or white button) mushrooms. Drizzle with good Spanish olive oil and a bit of coarse salt. Roast until tender but not dry, about 10 minutes, stirring regularly. Pair with asparagus, soaked in water to remove grit and rinsed and patted dry, woody ends snapped off. You can oven or pan-roast the asparagus, same technique. Enjoy. Ole.

Sometimes I struggle to stop cooking once I start: 3 side dishes for Sunday dinner? Sure. (Green Bean Casserole, Roasted Brussels Sprouts, Acorn Squash with Maple Syrup)

Sometimes I struggle to stop cooking once I start: 3 side dishes for Sunday dinner? Sure. (Green Bean Casserole, Roasted Brussels Sprouts, Acorn Squash with Maple Syrup)

But back to this week’s weekly menus. I can’t stay out of the kitchen right now–I want to practice all the things I’ve learned and eaten, which means:

Weekly Menus: 11/10/2013

Weekly Menus: 11/10/2013

The Four-Square Grocery list is pretty simple:

The Four Square Grocery List: 11/10/2013

The Four Square Grocery List: 11/10/2013

Which all translates into:

Sunday: Pork, Brussels Sprouts, and Acorn Squash, with Green Bean Casserole
I really do love casseroles, and apparently it’s genetic. TPCs Jr ate their weight in the Trader Joe’s rendition. Not gonna lie, I heart their Portabella Mushroom Soup and Fried Onions. The addition of extra sauteed mushrooms makes this nothing but win for team TPC. (Sidenote: the deli already cooked pork loin was a crime against pigs. Please do not cook your pork to sawdust. Thanks, the mgmnt)

Trader Joe's Portabella Mushroom Soup

Trader Joe’s Portabella Mushroom Soup

Monday: Burgers and Fries
The Jrs decided they wanted to honor veterans, and shy of MREs, this is what we came up with. This All-American meal, we may have it on English Muffins. Don’t judge. Thank you for your service.

Tuesday: Mexican
Favorite quote from the grocery aisle today: what’s the “International Food” aisle? I explain, the Jrs respond, oh, you mean dinner. I still find the denotation odd and amusing, but straight from the International aisle to you, we’re serving up leftover pork soft tacos. Or Fauxnitas.

Korean Pork Tacos

Korean Pork Tacos

Wednesday: Breakfast for Dinner
Mainly an excuse to eat grits and biscuits, truth be told. I will throw sauteed spinach and heirloom tomatoes on the eggs to fancy it up, but there will be molasses involved. It’s fall, and one must battle anemia where one may.

The Practical Cook Loves Molasses

The Practical Cook Loves Molasses

Thursday: Spanikopita and Salad
We’re trying a slightly crustless spanikopita thing from the frozen aisle of Trader Joe’s. We shall see how this goes. I think the salad will be fruit to provide balance in the force. Perhaps some sliced apples with Maple Butter. Seriously fall, I have a crush on you right now. Even if you have a pumpkin aftertaste.

Friday: Tuna Noodle Casserole
I don’t joke about casserole love. Clearly I was born in the wrong decade, or have fallen under the spell of my latest kitchen wall hanging. Oh, this is a classic.

My latest kitchen acquisition: calorie counter from days gone by.

My latest kitchen acquisition: calorie counter from days gone by.

Saturday: Dine Out
I feel a run to China Wok or some other exotic location is in order. Bahn Mi? I say oui.

Pulled Pork Bahn Mi from Num Pang. It's like Cambodia meets the South plus Sriracha.

Pulled Pork Bahn Mi from Num Pang. It’s like Cambodia meets the South plus Sriracha.

Thanks for sticking around. I’m planning to limit the blog to once a week for a while so that I have time to cook and keep up with TPCs Jrs’ active lifestyles. I’m still doing recipe and menu prep, and will break out the blogs accordingly as time and ingredients permit. What challenges can I solve for you? I take requests. Post a comment below. I don’t bite unless you’re shaped like a lamb-burger.

Send your casserole dishes, mulling spices, and strokes of genius to practical cook at gmail dot com. Connect on Facebook: The Practical Cook Blog. (Thanks in advance for spreading The Practical Cook Blog word. Press “like” on Facebook today! Also, follow the food pictures on Instagram @amylewi.)

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Coming up Sunday: Weekly Menus with Bonus Thanksgiving Tips and Recipes!

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Weekly Menus: It’s Finally Fall Edition, Week of 10/20/2013

Gentle Readers, wow, what a week. I managed to sit down to eat 3 or 4 actual meals in the span of a week–the rest were food grabbed on the run. Not to downplay the awesome that is Barcelona, but work travel is not the same as leisure travel. Being immersed in a different food culture always makes one think about their own.

Ham and cheese with a side of cafe con leche from Tapa Tapa in Barcelona.

Ham and cheese with a side of cafe con leche from Tapa Tapa in Barcelona.

Barcelona is driven by local, fresh, and reasonable portions. It’s a great concept, and one to which I subscribe. One of the best things I ate all week was this humble croqueta, which was akin to a mildly cheesy chicken pot pie in croquette form. We found it by turning down a side street in a non-touristy neighborhood famed for its cakes. (Guess what in that sentence prompted me to hop off the tour bus.)

My favorite from the week: a chicken, vegetable, and cheese croqueta from El Canalla.

My favorite from the week: a chicken, vegetable, and cheese croqueta from El Canalla.

In a random chance, I also had a rather interesting conversation about sustainable food with someone high up in one of the major international food corporations. We talked about Michael Pollan and the tension between profit and sustainable, especially as pertains to meat. I don’t envy him his job.

Fresh ingredients fill the markets in Barcelona.

Fresh ingredients fill the markets in Barcelona.

But I digress. Look for inspiration from Barcelona appearing in posts for the next few weeks. I respect a culture that is not fussed about diet crazes and every new trend. Barcelona has strong foodways that are built to be flexible and incorporate new traditions. I love that. Visiting always makes me want to go back again.

Eggplant fries with honey and lime from El Canalla. OMG good.

Eggplant fries with honey and lime from El Canalla. OMG good.

Which means my menus for the week are:

Sunday: Leftover surprise
I’ll be eating whatever TPC’s Mom left in my fridge. Surprise! Sometimes, even oatmeal or cereal is enough after traveling.

Monday: Tapas!
Figs and cheese? Tomato bread? Prosciutto and melon? I’m not sure what I’ll combine, but it will be small bites of whatever is in the store.

Fig filled with marscopone and jamon from Cervezeria Catalana.

Fig filled with marscopone and jamon from Cervezeria Catalana.

Tuesday: Spinach Quesadillas and Beans
Simple and direct, one of our favorite easy meals. We’ve got a lot going on this day.

Wednesday: Bratwurst and Pierogie
Just add Brussels sprouts.

Thursday: Pumpkin Ravioli with Sage in Brown Butter Sauce
One of my favorite easy meals courtesy of Trader Joe’s. Served with a green salad, and you’ve got a multi-colored delight for dinner. It’s worth browning some sage in butter–it’s just fun.

Friday: Nachos!
Using up the last of our leftover veggie chili, I’m pouring it over chips, topping it with cheese, and serving it up with a side of guacamole.

Saturday: Deep Fried Everything
This might be our N.C. State Fair Day, and we have a long list of things to eat. Apple fritters, corn, fried okra, and whatever the “it” thing is in deep-fried. We are so ready.

Ironically, I never saw this brand of water in Barcelona, but saw it promptly in NYC upon landing.

Ironically, I never saw this brand of water in Barcelona, but saw it promptly in NYC upon landing.

Have you been to your state fair already? What should we find and consume? No deep-fried goodness too strange. We’ll try it on video even. Post your challenge below!

Farewell Barcelona, see you next time.

Farewell Barcelona, see you next time.

Send your winter squashes, your mad carving skills, and your airline miles to practical cook at gmail dot com. Connect on Facebook: The Practical Cook Blog. (Thanks in advance for spreading The Practical Cook Blog word. Press “like” on Facebook today! Also, follow the food pictures on Instagram @amylewi.)

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Weekly Menus: Labor Day Edition, Week of 9/1/2013

Gentle Readers, never has a holiday been more confusingly named or welcomed with more open arms. Hello, Labor Day, we need you. A bit of a break after the bustle of school starting, recovery from travel season for me, it’s time to roll up sleeves and cook again. How to do so without too much labor? Invite yourself to someone else’s cookout.

Tea wth the Ladies Who Lunch: China Edition

Tea wth the Ladies Who Lunch: China Edition

I’m bringing a dessert, or a salad, or both. But I digress. The weather is getting cooler, and more cooking ahead is possible. Seize the day, or at least the weekend, between naps.

Turmeric Tea from Samovar: Gold, Spicy, Amazing

Turmeric Tea from Samovar: Gold, Spicy, Amazing

For this week, the weekly menus are:

Weekly Menus: 9/1/2013

Weekly Menus: 9/1/2013

And the Four-Square Grocery List is:

The Four-Square Grocery List: 9/1/2013

The Four-Square Grocery List: 9/1/2013

Which all means:

Sunday: Rotisserie Chicken
It’s been too long. Great for eating and reusing in salads, plus stock from the bones. Will serve with Brussels sprouts and glazed carrots, or mac-n-cheese if I run low on time.

Speedy Salad: Strawberries, rotisserie chicken, almonds, goat cheese, greens.

Speedy Salad: Strawberries, rotisserie chicken, almonds, goat cheese, greens.

Monday: Not Dogs?
Since we’re heading to a cookout, we may do one lighter meal on this Labor Day. There are great options for vegetarians and for anyone looking to balance their caloric consumption.

Hot Dog from The Pig with Ketchup, Mustard, and Relish

Hot Dog from The Pig with Ketchup, Mustard, and Relish

Tuesday: Veggie Chili
Breaking out the Red, Gold, and Green Veggie Chili here, in honor of the fall that finally feels like it’s on the way. Perfect to make ahead and eat for a while in different forms.

Veggie Chili Simmering

Veggie Chili Simmering

Wednesday: Salmon and Couscous
Light and simple, I think I’ll pan-roast this and serve with confetti veggie couscous (aka, use the last bits of diced veggie up from previous meals, shhh, don’t tell).

Orange Salmon, Broiled Asparagus, Accidental Butternut Bulgar

Orange Salmon, Broiled Asparagus, Accidental Butternut Bulgar

Thursday: Egg Sammies
If we’re short on time, the eggs will be scrambled or fried. More time = egg salad sammies. This was a favorite summer meal in my youth, and it’s fun to recapture a little of that feeling as we start the school year.

Eggs on their way to becoming egg salad.

Eggs on their way to becoming egg salad.

Friday: Leftover Delight
The Eldest asked what this was, and I told her it was marketing. She got that. Friday is a clean-up hitter today. Prep for Saturday practice, recover from a week of early rising, gather around the table and enjoy.

Saturday: Dine Out!
We’re on the hunt for a new country to visit. All suggestions welcome!

What’s on your grill this season? Send ideas this way, post a comment or send a Tweet!

Send extra hot dogs, hours of sleep, and brownies to practical cook at gmail dot com. Connect on Facebook: The Practical Cook Blog. (Thanks in advance for spreading The Practical Cook Blog word. Press “like” on Facebook today! Also, follow the food pictures on Instagram @amylewi.)

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Coming up Wednesday: Road Salad, A How-To Survive Guide.

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Weekly Menus: Week of 4/7/2013 (with actual meal plans!)

Gentle Readers, what a long strange trip it has been. By that, I mean business and vacation were back to back in the last couple of weeks, and I’ve eaten my way along both coasts of these United States. Strangely, I now have intense cravings for Malaysian food, perhaps because BestieForce has been in both places. Yes, those are unicorn chopsticks.

BestieForce! Just add unicorn chopsticks.

BestieForce! Just add unicorn chopsticks.

And yes, I woke up in the middle of the night, jetlagged and craving this, Roti. Reviews of the two Malaysian restaurants are pending, and rumor has it I may learn to cook the sticky dessert rice I kept eating as well. Stay tuned.

Roti from Banana Leaf in San Jose, CA

Roti from Banana Leaf in San Jose, CA

But back in realityville, I came home to a reasonably clean kitchen and a fairly blank slate. You can see I’m not done globetrotting from the menus though. There’s an international festival at school this week, but we tend to eat that way all the time.

Sticky Rice with Mango from Banana Leaf

Sticky Rice with Mango from Banana Leaf

Without further delay, here are our weekly menus:

Weekly Menus: 4/7/2013

Weekly Menus: 4/7/2013

The Four-Square Grocery List:

The Four-Square Grocery List: 4/7/2013

The Four-Square Grocery List: 4/7/2013

Which all means:

Sunday: Salad!
I’ve been craving this for days. Though I managed a few of them over the last couple of weeks, it was not as often as it should have been.

Monday: Indian
I have some cauliflower that needs roasting, and I may try my hand at the sauce that goes with the roti pictured above. Plus chickpeas. Though my recent trip to Roti Boti has spoiled me on this front. Sigh, food memories . . .

The largest, fluffiest naan I've ever seen. You can ignore the adage to not fill up on bread at Roti Boti.

The largest, fluffiest naan I’ve ever seen. You can ignore the adage to not fill up on bread at Roti Boti.

Tuesday: Stir fry OR Breakfast for dinner
Depending on time and leftover supplies, I’ll make the call. I feel certain I know which the Jrs will choose. I have a half gallon of milk that needs to be consumed quickly, and eggs too. I’m thinking it’s time to make Waffles in bulk. Perhaps to be served with chicken?

36 Waffles

36 Waffles

Wednesday: Dine Out (Germany!)
We’re celebrating someone cranky’s birthday (cough cough Wadorf), and the Jrs have decided to go German on this one. Our tradition is to visit a new “country” (via food) and then ask a lot of trivia questions about that country during dinner. It’s great fun, give it a try.

Spinach Quesadilla and Ranchero Beans

Spinach Quesadilla and Ranchero Beans

Thursday: Mexican
It’s been too long since we have had our simple and traditional spinach quesadillas at home. Perhaps I’ll make sopapillas to go with. Mmmm. Dessert.

Carbonara from NYC!

Carbonara from NYC!

Friday: Pasta and Salad
Clean up hitter for the week. I may attempt carbonara again to polish off the last of the eggs. The Jrs are big fans, especially now that they are eating bacon again.

Saturday: Dine Out!
Looking forward to this one.

Questions, comments, topics? Email me at practical cook at gmail dot com. Connect on Facebook: The Practical Cook Blog. (Thanks in advance for spreading The Practical Cook Blog word. Press “like” on Facebook today! Also, follow the food pictures on Instagram @amylewi.)

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Next on Wednesday, Reader Questions and Feedback! (Submit Yours Today!)

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Weekly Menus: Travel Edition, Week of 2/24/2013

Gentle Readers, sometimes it is time to throw in the towel. Such is the case with today’s weekly menu post and format. For one, late last week, the Practical Cooks Junior undeclared themselves vegetarians. It was bacon that did it. They are my offspring after all.

The bacon that broke the vegetarian streak.

The bacon that broke the vegetarian streak.

We had a good discussion about eating as low and humanely on the food chain as we could as omnivores. You’ll still see plenty of meatlessness around here, but I will be able to use up the CSA pork warehouse that is my freezer.

Plus, I’m traveling again, and TPC’s Mom will be at the helm. I have found that she listens to me and my meal plans precisely as often as I listened to her tell me to get off the phone as a teen. Read: Never. Therefore, I violated yet one more rule and shopped without a list. Here’s everything I bought in preparation for next week:

My grocery list, in picture form.

My grocery list, in picture form.

Once you’ve broken a rule, make it worth your time. I look forward to hearing what is on the menu for next week. I’m sure it will be delicious. Clearly I’m Southern, I bought the “snow and ice trinity”–that’s milk, bread, and eggs for those who don’t know–and I’m my mother’s daughter, because there’s something green.

Simple yet delicious, The Practical Cook's House Salad.

Simple yet delicious, The Practical Cook’s House Salad.

Don’t feel too bad for the home team, my pantry and freezer stay stocked with enough food to feed a football team for a week. It is how I was raised. For fun, here’s a list of all the things I could make with the above items, without even hitting the pantry:

  • French toast
  • Egg and cheese sandwiches
  • Cheese toast
  • Fruit salad
  • Green salad with fruit
  • Fruit and cheese plate
Hot buttery cast iron skillet is key to great French Toast!

Hot buttery cast iron skillet is key to great French Toast!

What’s on your meal plan this week? Post a comment in the box below, just to see if it’s still working. 🙂

Send your kitchen panics, questions, and well wishes to practical cook at gmail dot com. Connect on Facebook: The Practical Cook Blog. (Thanks in advance for spreading The Practical Cook Blog word. Press “like” on Facebook today! Also, follow the food pictures on Instagram @amylewi.)

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Coming up Wednesday: Fried Chicken and Waffles vs Sriracha Potato Chips, On Video!

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Weekly Menus: Week of 2/10/2013 (Recovery Edition)

Gentle Readers, the past couple of weeks have been something of a whirl. To say I’ve been on the run would be literal, 5 miles of literal. Yesterday, for the first time ever, I ran in the Krispy Kreme Challenge with The Cloudcast team. What could be better than combining my love of the double K with running?

The Team mascot, doughnut man, enjoys a glazed treat.

The Team mascot, doughnut man, enjoys a glazed treat.

A few missteps: what I thought was a 5K was actually a 5 mile race. This data point came out mid-race. Also, eating doughnuts at speed and in bulk? Very very difficult. I managed 3 or 4, and full disclosure, had to walk a good portion of the last 2.5 miles of the race.

Add New Post ‹ The Practical Cook — WordPress

Add New Post ‹ The Practical Cook — WordPress

Full marks to my teammates Brian Gracely and Aaron Delp, who ate all the doughnuts and ran the whole way (uphill both ways!). Major bonus point for being the #1 team fund raiser for the NC Children’s Hospital. Way to go guys!

Top Team Fundraiser at the Krispy Kreme Challenge: Thanks to our sponsors!!

Top Team Fundraiser at the Krispy Kreme Challenge: Thanks to our sponsors!!

Which leads us to this week’s menus, full of additional social obligations and salad.

Weekly Menus: 2/10/2013

Weekly Menus: 2/10/2013

The Four-Square Grocery Shopping List:

The Four-Square Grocery List: 2/10/2013

The Four-Square Grocery List: 2/10/2013

Which translates to:

Sunday: Salad
Somehow, someway, this will be the featured item. After some doughnuts.

Monday: Dine Out/Leftovers
Currently planning to attend a business dinner, but will supplement with some plant-based leftovers. Notice a theme?

Tuesday: Flying Mayans
Going to make use of the tortillas and cooked sweet potato I found in my fridge upon my return.

Wednesday: Dine Out/Pasta
More social plans, and if they don’t work, it’s pasta time. With salad of course!

Thursday: Rustic Tart
It’s been cold, and this seems like the perfect match. I plan on roasting whatever root veggies we have around and putting them in a crust with a bit of salty cheese and balsamic. Hungry now.

Friday: Stir Fry
Another vegetable classic, just add egg. I love that you can use up leftovers, alter the sauce, and never have the same thing twice.

Saturday: Dine Out
The Juniors will vote on the destination, they’ve earned it with their time in the kitchen and prepping school lunches. More on that next time.

In a colossal planning oversight, I’m due to get my cholesterol checked soon. I think I’ll delay that slightly. How many doughnuts can you eat at one sitting? Post a comment, send a well wish, or just say hi: comments box is right there.

Send your salads, queries, and lucrative offers to practical cook at gmail dot com. Connect on Facebook: The Practical Cook Blog. (Thanks in advance for spreading The Practical Cook Blog word. Press “like” on Facebook today! Also, follow the food pictures on Instagram @amylewi.)

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Coming up Wednesday: School Lunch Reprise

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Weekly Menus: Week of 1/20/2013

Gentle Readers, strap in because this week is a wild one. Though our meals seem to grow ever more simple and ad hoc, with the help of my able assistants, The Practical Cooks Jr, we are getting more stuff done than ever before. Breakfasts are laid out, snacks are prepared for guests, tables are set, all as if by house elves. (TPCs Jr are VERY fond of Harry Potter, for anyone who missed that reference.)

Afterschool snack requested by the Juniors: goat cheese with pepper jelly and wine jelly.

Afterschool snack requested by the Juniors: goat cheese with pepper jelly and wine jelly.

So food at our house is being greatly influenced by what we can accomplish together. We continue to eat down the stocks of what we have, bringing new things in to try. We’ll be talking cheese in the next blog, as we work to expand our knowledge. Plus there’s a sale at the local cheese shop.

But I digress. Amidst a whirl of personal and school activity, here are this week’s weekly menus:

Weekly Menus: 1/20/2013

Weekly Menus: 1/20/2013

And the very light Four-Square Shopping List:

The Four-Square Grocery Shopping List: 1/20/2013

The Four-Square Grocery Shopping List: 1/20/2013

Which all translates into:

Sunday: Pizza and Salad
Tried and true, nothing says “holiday weekend” like this combination.

Monday: Quinoa and Greens
Once more, the devilish food marketing skills of Trader Joe’s are at work. Though I’m perfectly capable of making this myself from scratch, a recent sample won the heart of the notoriously picky Youngest. So to the frozen section we go. Look for a review soon.

Tuesday: Leftover Surprise
This has often been where new salads are born, of necessity when the goat cheese has inadvertently grown a furry coat in the back of the fridge. Surprise!

Wednesday: Fish and Chips
I like to say it, and I like to make it. From a recent junk food night, we have tater tots that need to be paired with something. If the fish doesn’t fly, not dogs it is.

Thursday: Black Bean and Butternut Squash Stew
I’m fond of these two ingredients in a tortilla, I’m going to try a soupier version of the combo.

Friday: Dine Out!
Field research with my shortest field researcher who is not a Junior, NYC style.

Saturday: Dine Out!
Fine, I like food, and I’m heading back to NYC to eat my way through the boroughs.

We need inspiration! What are you cooking these days? Shoot us some ideas in the comment box. The crickets won’t mind.

Submit your questions today for an upcoming blog post! Email me at practical cook at gmail dot com. Connect on Facebook: The Practical Cook Blog. (Thanks in advance for spreading The Practical Cook Blog word. Press “like” on Facebook today! Also, follow the food pictures on Instagram @amylewi.)

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Next up on Wednesday, For the Love of Cheese and Jelly!

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