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January 31, 2013

Chocolate Chip Bran Muffins

Muffins have always been a favorite of mine. I like baking them and there are no funny piping/icing decorations involved.  Well, I suppose there could be, depending on the baker's taste!

I felt like making a sweet treat but which were kind of on the healthier side as well, ...add bran !  Usually the Bran Muffins which you buy at the stores are dry and taste like cardboard, so I have come up with this recipe. 

I kept a few of these muffins in a sealed container, at room temperature, and it was even more delicious the next day.

Of course I had to put a spin of Valentine's Day on it - but it is only the sprinkles and edible glitter.

Chocolate Chip Bran Muffins

{makes 12 Muffins}

1/2 cup Oil {Canola is a good choice}
1 Extra-Large Egg
1/2 cup Brown Sugar
1 cup Self-Raising Flour
1 TB Bicarbonate of Soda
Pinch of Salt
1 cup Bran
200g Plain Yoghurt
1/2 cup Chocolate Chips

1 cup Icing Sugar
4 t Water
1/2 cup Dark Chocolate
Sprinkles/Glitter, to decorate {optional}

1.) Pre-heat the oven to 180 deg C (350 deg F) - Spray a 12 hole muffin pan with Spray 'N Cook {line the holes if you wish to}
2.) Beat together the Oil, Egg and Brown Sugar until well combined.
3.) Add the Self-Raising Flour, Bicarbonate of Soda and Salt - stir through.
4.) Stir in the Bran followed by the Yoghurt - stir until just combined {do not over-mix} - lastly stir in the Chocolate Chips.
5.) Scoop the mixture into the muffin pan - bake 15 - 20 minutes.
6.) Prepare the Chocolate Topping 3 - 5 minutes before the muffins have finished baking - Mix the Icing Sugar with the Water and stir until smooth - melt the Dark Chocolate - immediately stir in the Icing Sugar mixture to the melted hot Dark Chocolate.
7.) Remove the muffins from the oven and immediately pour the Topping over.

The Topping sets quite quickly... if you want to add decorations, do that immediately.

Store any leftovers at room temperature in a sealed container.

Hope you enjoy !

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January 30, 2013

Ground Beef Nachos

I used to make this quite often, but for some reason, haven't for a while.  We eat this as a main meal on it's own. The pic shows a full portion for one person.

Roy and Dimitri always share an appetizer plate when we eat at one of our chain restaurants and they absolutely love it. The appetizer at the restaurant is similar to mine, but since I make it as a main meal I added meat.

Ground Beef Nachos

{4 large servings}

600g Lean Ground Beef {Mince}
1 packet Taco or Burrito seasoning
2 TB Oil   {I like to use Avocado Oil}
3 TB Water
1 Can Refried Beans or similar
1 large packet Doritos chips  {I use the cheese flavored}
2 cups Gouda Cheese, grated  {+ extra to top with}
4 Handfuls Lettuce, shredded
2 Tomatoes, chopped
1 Onion, diced
250g Cottage Cheese, plain, chunky
2 Avocados, mashed and seasoned with Salt & Black Pepper, to taste

1.) Heat the Oil in a pan - add the meat and cook until halfway done, add the Taco or Burrito seasoning and the Water, cook until done - add the Beans and heat through.
2.) Arrange the Doritos on 4 plates - scoop some of the meat mixture over, followed by the Cheese, Lettuce, Tomato, Onion, Cottage Cheese and Avocado - in this order.
3.) Top with more grated Cheese.

Serve immediately.

Hope you enjoy this quick dish, which should not take you more than 30 minutes, from start to serving.

Ciao for now,

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January 29, 2013

Valentines Wall Display

Valentines Wall Display Box

This is actually my Wall Plant Box in my bedroom which has now turned into a Valentines Day Display.  It is on a small strip of wall next to one of the windows, but it is also the first wall one looks at when walking down the passage or entering my bedroom.

You can read about that project, as well as see the plans/sizes {step-by-step} on how to build this easy shabby-beachy box HERE, and yes, the plants {succulents, which I thought would take a lot to kill} are all dead... amazing, I only need to look at a plant - even plastic ones - and they quit on me!  It might have to do with the fact that one really need to give the poor guys a bit of water now and then, succulents or not ...

We had to stop, midway, with the make-over of our bedroom {beach themed} last year, September, due to more security which we had to add to the house first.

Valentines Wall Display Box

1.) I started with the felt hearts in red and white, cut into 2 different sizes {4 of each}
2.) The smaller heart was glued to it's opposite color larger heart {more or less in the center}
3.) I added tiny silk roses using Berry pins

Punched holes into the larger hearts and threaded through a thin silver chain which I used to hang as a small garland on the bottom piece of the plant box.

Valentines Wall Display Box

Some close-ups of what I added 

- The small heart/chain garland
- Top left: another felt heart with a LOVE charm, kept in place with 2 Berry Pins
- Top right: The 2 resin hearts were already on the box and I added a medium silk rose to the tops
- Bottom left: a new plant {Maiden Hair, I think it's called}in a pot which I bought a few of for next to nothing last year
- Bottom right: A Beachy style bench frame with a photo of Roy, myself and the kids - this is usually displayed on our entertainment cabinet in the bedroom

Let me know what you think !  {I am still busy with a small table Valentines vignette, but suddenly crafter's block struck me since the beginning of 2013 - amazed myself by doing this one shared today!}

January 28, 2013

Onion Chutney

Quick Homemade Caramelized Onions ~ perfect served with steaks, sandwiches, hotdogs and burgers

Oh, this is a good one !  You can whip up the Onion Chutney in minutes and serve it with so many dishes.

January 27, 2013

Message Chocolate Hearts

Easy to make Chocolate Hearts with a Hidden Message for your Valentine !

A Small chocolate heart on a caramel chocolate heart platform !  And yes, they are hollow with a little note inside ~ Message Chocolate Hearts

Candied Peanut & Sea Salt Chocolate

Candies Peanut & Sea Salt Chocolate

This was supposed to have a mixture of Fruit and Nuts as a topping, but typically me,.. I found these delicious Candy coated Peanuts, so back on the rack with the Fruit and Nuts and here we are with the Candied Peanut and Sea Salt Chocolate.

Super easy - no mold, yes, my heart shaped cookie cutters again!  As some of us in our household like our chocolate with a bit of Sea Salt and others don't, I made half with the Salt and the other half without.

Candies Peanut & Sea Salt Chocolate

You will need:

A good quality Chocolate, melted
Candied/Sugared Peanuts
Different size Heart cookie cutters  {or just one size}
Sea Salt {optional}
Sprinkles - I used "lips"  {optional}

Candies Peanut & Sea Salt Chocolate

Place your chosen cookie cutters on a piece of aluminum foil {flat plate underneath}
Pour the melted Chocolate into the cutters {to your thickness preference}
Place in the freezer compartment until half set (about 1 - 2 minutes, depending on the thickness}

Candies Peanut & Sea Salt Chocolate

Top with the Candied Peanuts whilst still half set - add the Sea Salt and Sprinkles {if using} now as well.
Place back in the freezer compartment for another 2 - 3 minutes until fully set.

Candies Peanut & Sea Salt Chocolate

Gently break off the excess chocolate which has seeped through {see arrows}.
Tap out your chocolate heart from the cookie cutter {I found to push it a little upwards first and then out downwards works best}

Perfect as a teacher or friend gift. Use paper lunch bags with a nice Valentine's ribbon as packaging.

January 26, 2013

Facebook Link Up Party-Updated

My apologies everyone ! It seems the linky did not show up for you guys although I could see some link-ups.

I would appreciate it if you will go HERE and link your Facebook page and maybe follow some new friends.

Thanks again for your patience,

Loaded Cowboy Food

This is a large dish, my ordinary pans were too small and I used my electric wok, which is a nice size for this loaded and very filling recipe.

It was also an extremely difficult dish to take photos of, fortunately I took some pics while it was still in the wok, as the ones I took dished up in a plate, looked very messy.

But, all that aside, this is so filling, it only needed a dinner roll or two served with it. {Although I had a salad on the side as well}

I found this recipe in the cookbook One-Two-Three On The Table and made a few small changes.

Loaded Cowboy Food

{6 large servings}

2 TB Avocado Oil
1 Onion, finely chopped
1 Green Bell Pepper, chopped
3 t Garlic, crushed
1 Red Chilli, finely chopped    {you can add more if you like}
1/2 cup Carrots, grated finely
250g Bacon Bits
500g Lean Ground Beef {Mince}
Salt & Freshly ground Black Pepper
1/4 cup Coriander leaves, chopped
1 tin (60g) Tomato Paste
1 tin (410g) Chopped Tomatoes
1 TB Sugar
2 TB Chutney
1 TB Worcestershire Sauce
1 tin (410g) Beans in Tomato Sauce
1 tin (410g) Corn Kernels  {not the creamy Sweetcorn}
6 Extra-Large Eggs
1 cup Cheddar, grated

1.) Heat the Oil in a large pan and saute the Onion, Green Bell Pepper, Garlic, Red Chilli and Carrots until just soft - add the Bacon and stir-fry until the Bacon is cooked.
2.) Add the Ground Beef {Mince} to the pan, season with Salt & Black Pepper to taste, and cook over medium heat {stir regularly} until the meat is cooked through.
3.) Stir in the Coriander leaves, Tomato Paste, Chopped Tomatoes, Sugar, Chutney and Worcestershire Sauce - simmer 15 - 20 minutes.
4.) Add the Beans in Tomato Sauce and the Corn Kernels -- bring back to the boil.
5.) Make 6 hollows in the meat and break an Egg into each hollow - add a little Salt & Black Pepper to the top of the Eggs.
6.) Cook until the Eggs are done to your liking - sprinkle the Cheddar Cheese over.

Serve immediately - Enjoy!

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FACEBOOK Link Up Party !

January 25, 2013

Quick Homemade Marshmallow

This is actually a recipe I make as a topping to cupcakes see HERE and for sweet treats, see HERE. I always have a little left over and came up with this idea.

Make your cupcakes/sweet treats and use this recipe as a topping, or make a batch and do the following:

Quick Homemade Marshmallow

{Quantity below will be enough for 6 HIGH toppings or at least 40 small marshmallows as in the pic above}

1/4 cup Cold Water
1 TB Powdered Gelatin, Plain
1/4 cup Boiling Water
1/2 t Caramel Essence {you can use any flavor you like}
1 cup Caster Sugar
Few drops Food Coloring - optional
Sprinkles/Sugar Sprinkles/Chocolate - whatever you like to decorate - optional
Icing Sugar, optional **

1.) Place the Cold Water in a medium mixing bowl - sprinkle the Gelatin over - wait until it gets spongy - microwave on HIGH for 20 seconds until clear and dissolved.
2.) Add the Boiling Water and Essence of your choice and mix {if using coloring - add this now and keep mixing}.
3.) Whilst beating, add the Caster Sugar gradually, beat until a thick meringue consistency has formed {5 - 8 minutes} - as soon as stiff peaks form and it gets sticky it is ready.
4.) Scoop mixture into a piping bag and use as you wish - the shape will stay the way you pipe it.

Sprinkle any decorations over as soon as possible, especially in very cold weather, as the outside of the marshmallow dries fairly quickly.
Chill at least two hours.
**If making shapes only - make sure to pipe the marshmallow out on a well powdered {Icing Sugar} piece of aluminium foil - makes lifting easier and "seals" the bottom at the same time.

Have fun and remember the shapes, colors and flavors are endless !


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January 24, 2013

Baked Mashed Potatoes

Bake mashed potatoes in a muffin pan and see how surprised your family will be!  It looks just like a muffin, but it is really only the outside which has been baked to hold it together. The inside is soft mash.

I like Parmesan on top whereas the most of my family prefer Cheddar - it is really up to you which one to use. {left is a muffin topped with Cheddar and on the right with Parmesan}.

As with normal mashed potatoes I serve them with a sauce which could be a gravy or a store-bought packet of cheese sauce.  {which is what I used - Cheddar Cheese Sauce with Black Peppercorns and extra Cheddar stirred through until melted}

Baked Mashed Potatoes

{makes 12 muffin size servings}

{adapted by me from the recipe book Spyskaarte vir Elke Seisoen}

5 Large Potatoes, peeled and cut into cubes
3 t Garlic, crushed
4 TB Butter
1/2 t Nutmeg
Salt & Black Pepper, to taste
2 Extra-Large Eggs, separated
Cheddar or Parmesan to top, grated

1.) Pre-heat the oven to 180 deg C (350 deg F) - Spray a 12 hole muffin pan with Spray'N Cook.
2.) Boil the Potatoes and Garlic in lightly salted water until just soft enough to mash - drain, using a colander, and transfer to a mixing bowl - mash the potatoes with the tiny bits of Garlic.
3.) Add the Butter, stir through, and add the Nutmeg together with the Salt & Pepper - add the Egg Yolks and quickly stir into the potato mixture.
4.) In a separate bowl, beat the Egg Whites until stiff, but not dry - fold this into the potatoes.
5.) Fill the muffin pan holes with the Potato mixture - sprinkle Cheddar or Parmesan Cheese over - bake 25 - 30 minutes until just starting to brown.
6.) Remove from the oven - wait a minute or two and then lift out using a large table spoon.

Serve immediately with a sauce of your choice or extra Butter.

Bye-bye now,

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January 23, 2013

Hot White Chocolate Sauce & Frozen Berries

Have you ever totally forgotten about a post ?  Especially after you had already done the editing of the photo, filed it in the "ready to post" file .. I did !

I made this as a dessert a few weeks ago already, and if I did not page through my hundreds lists, of to make, to post, for later ... you get the idea, how many lists I have floating around, I would have forgotten about this recipe - AND IT WAS SO GOOODDD !! How did I forget...

Anyhow, this is a delicious chocolate sauce which can be served with any number of desserts - I chose frozen strawberries {wanted frozen mixed berries, but could not find any :-(  }. I bought fresh strawberries and froze them myself - cut the strawberries into smaller pieces, place a single layer on aluminium foil and place in the freezer compartment for an hour or two until frozen.

Hot White Chocolate Sauce & Frozen Berries

{makes approx. 700ml}
source: adapted from the Springbok Kitchen 

400g White Chocolate, good quality
2 cups Fresh Cream {whipping cream/double cream}
3 TB Sweetened Condensed Milk

1.) Melt the White Chocolate {microwave or in a heatproof bowl over boiling water}.
2.) Add the Fresh Cream and Condensed Milk, mix well, place in the microwave for 30 - 60 seconds to heat.

** For a thicker sauce, use only 1 1/2 cups Fresh Cream**

Serve immediately over frozen berries.

Hope you enjoy!

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Get Your Site's Pin Count

The other day someone wanted to know whether there is a way to get your Pinterest Pin Count. Now, I have been checking mine for a few months using the link below.

I know one can usually see your pin count on the little gadget installed on your post, but some prefer not to have the count meter showing. It is also not reliable, as many pinners {I confess, I am one of them} use their bookmarklet in the toolbar to pin - that would not show on the counter.

Do remember though, that the count you will get from using the Pinterest Count link, will not include any re-pins that has been made.  I do hope Pinterest will get onto that, as it will be most interesting to see exactly how many of our posts are floating around, don't you think?

But, for now, use THIS link to check the pin counts made directly from your site.  You will have to type in the full link to a specific post to get the correct results. - not your blog's general URL.

Hope this will be of any help to you !

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January 22, 2013

Our Hearts Are Tied Together

Our Hearts Are Tied Together

Two hearts tied together with a ribbon ... and it's CHOCOLATE !  No mold needed, only a basic kitchen baking tool....

This was unbelievably easy to make. Let me show you how:

Our Hearts Are Tied Together

I know, I know - as soon as you had seen the two heart shaped cookie cutters, you have put it together, right? Well, for me, it was a first!  

Our Hearts Are Tied Together

Place the two cookie cutters on a piece of aluminum foil as shown in the above pic - melt chocolate and carefully pour in between the two cutters {as this was my first go at it, I made it a little thick and I did not want to break the hearts when removing them} - Chill for 2 - 3 minutes in the freezer compartment.

Our Hearts Are Tied Together

1.) Remove the outer cookie cutter carefully
2.) See the cutter had come away clean from the chocolate
3.) Whilst the inner cutter is still in place - break off the excess chocolate which has seeped through - then remove the cutter.

Our Hearts Are Tied Together

I made big hearts and smaller ones as well.
To finish I drizzled Caramel Chocolate over and tied a Valentine ribbon around two of the hearts.

Feta & Broccoli Polony Muffins

Great for a light dinner, lunch and especially for the lunch box. This muffin has it all.

The Polony, also called Bologna, can be substituted for pure Chicken Polony or you can use any leftover cooked meat.

This surely beats a boring Polony and Cheese sandwich. We enjoyed this so much, that I will definitely make it very soon again.

Feta & Broccoli Polony Muffins

{makes 8 large muffins}

1 Onion, chopped finely
1 Green Bell Pepper, chopped
1 cup Broccoli, broken into smaller pieces
2 TB Oil {I used Avocado Oil}
250g Polony {Bologna},cut into small cubes   
1 round {80g} Feta Cheese, small cubes
1/2 cup Cheddar Cheese, grated
6 Extra-Large Eggs
1/2 cup Oil  {I used Sunflower Oil}
1 1/4 cups Flour
1 TB Baking Powder
2 t Dried Mixed Herbs

1.) Pre-heat the oven to 200 deg C (400 deg F) - Spray a muffin pan with Spray 'N Cook and/or line with muffin liners.
2.) Saute the Onion, Green Bell Pepper and Broccoli in the Avocado {or other} Oil until soft - the Broccoli must still be crispy.
3.) Place the Broccoli mixture in a medium mixing bowl - add the Polony, Feta and Cheddar Cheese - mix together.
4.) In a separate bowl, beat the Eggs and add the Oil, mix another 10 - 15 seconds.
5.) Sift together the Flour, Baking Powder and Herbs - add to the Egg mixture, stir to mix - add the Broccoli mixture, stirring until combined.
6.) Fill the muffin holes or liners and bake 15 - 20 minutes until done.

Remove muffins from the pan and allow to cool slightly.

Serve warm with butter!  {they are just as delicious cold..}

Hope you enjoy!

Bye-bye now,

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January 21, 2013

Creamy Green Beans

My lazy day Creamy Green Beans - quick, delicious side dish

We all have our favorite {and sometimes plain boring} side dishes. Usually I will make a bundle of Green Beans wrapped in bacon, but when I am lazy I will make these Creamy Green Beans as a side dish.

January 20, 2013

Choc Cup, Caramel Center & Mallow Frosting

Caramel in a Chocolate Cup topped with homemade Marshmallow ~ step-by-step directions

A Chocolate cup filled with Caramel and topped with Marshmallow! When it comes to sweets, there are not a lot more I would ask for, and here we have it all in one.

Long Boy Burgers

Baked burgers done all at once in the oven - this is a different type of burger and time saving. Definitely worth a shot when you have a crowd to feed - and delicious, it received all thumbs up in our house.

I have pinned this recipe months ago, made it a few times, but somehow never shared it {this is happening a lot these days..}.

Well, here we go:

Long Boy Burgers

{adapted by me from the original source which you can find HERE }

6 Long Bread Rolls, split lengthwise
1 1/4 cup Corn Flakes, crushed
1/2 Onion, chopped finely
1/2 cup Milk
6 TB Tomato Sauce
1 TB Worcestershire Sauce
2 t Garlic, crushed
1 Extra-Large Egg, beaten
1.2kg Lean Ground Beef {Mince}
Salt & Freshly Ground Black Pepper, to taste

Tomato Sauce, to spread {I use approximately 1 TB per burger}
2 cups Cheddar Cheese, grated
Green Bell Pepper strips, sauteed, to serve  {optional}

1.) Place the halved Bread Rolls on two lined baking sheets - toast under the grill in the oven until just starting to color.
2.) Pre-heat the oven to 220 deg C (450 deg F) - keep the toasted rolls on the lined baking sheets.
3.) In a large bowl, mix the following, Corn Flakes, Onion, Milk, 6 TB Tomato Sauce, Worcestershire Sauce, Garlic and the Egg until well combined - add the Ground Meat {Mince} and mix it all up - hands work best - season to taste with Salt and Black Pepper.
4.) Top each half of toasted Bread Roll with the meat mixture, making sure the bread tops are totally covered {it should be about 2cm - just less than 1 inch thick} - spread tops of the meat with Tomato Sauce.
5.) Bake 25 - 30 minutes until the meat is cooked through.
6.) Remove from oven - sprinkle with Cheddar Cheese and bake another 3 - 5 minutes until the cheese is melted.

Remove from oven, let rest for 5 minutes and serve with Green Bell Pepper, fries and a salad or two. {I have also served the burgers before with sliced Avocados instead of the Green bell Pepper}

Hope you enjoy this quick and almost effortless dish!


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January 19, 2013

A South-African Weekend with the Animals

Today's post is something totally different than what you are used to from my blog ! Dimitri and Stephanie spent a weekend at a wildlife conservation resort, just about an hour or two away from home. This post is full of pictures and not a lot of chatting - our country's Animals know how to talk to you by just looking at their beautiful photos!  

January 18, 2013

Coconut Milk and Raspberry Jello Hearts

I have been neglecting my much beloved Coconut lately and then remembered back in August last year I promised to make a richer and sweeter version of my Coconut Jellos, which you can read about HERE.

January 17, 2013

Lacey Hearts Tree

Here is a simple, easy Valentine's decoration.  I think this would be perfect for a corner in a girls room.

- Paint a small branch with Pearl Paint - I used "Rose"
- First cut out heart shapes from a piece of Lace - cut Cardboard hearts slightly larger than the Lace hearts - punch a hole through both the Lace and Cardboard hearts {I did not glue the two hearts together, I found it looks better when a little apart}
- Hang these, together, on the small twigs
- Add one or two darker pink or red bows and end off with a string of pearls

The Acrylic paint I have used on the small branch

A Closer look at the Lace/Cardboard heart, the bows and the string of pearls

A Felt wrapped can with a small garland of hearts and some raffia finishes off this quick craft.


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January 16, 2013

Pasta with Meatballs in Tomato Sauce

Pasta and Meatballs baked in the oven !  Great, all the juices from the sauce and the meat runs down into the pasta and you get a very flavorsome dish at the end.

Much better than dishing up first, the pasta, some meatballs and ending with a sauce.

I was not really in the mood for baking/cooking this week and therefore I turned to magazines and recipe books to sort of "tell" me what to do.

***Also I would like to thank all my friends and family for their e-mails and messages on Facebook when I was a little down - you know who you are - thanks everyone, we will always miss Rex, the pain is still very raw, but it has helped to know you are out there thinking about us***

Right, let's get this recipe on the go:

Pasta with Meatballs in Tomato Sauce

{6 large servings}

300g Pasta {large shells or similar}

600g Ground Beef {Mince}
1 TB Butter
1 Large Onion, chopped finely
2 slices Bread, crusts remove
1/4 cup Beef Stock
1 t Garlic, crushed
1 t Dried Basil
1 Egg, beaten
3 TB Tomato Paste
Salt & Freshly Ground Black Pepper

2 cans (410g each) Tomatoes with Basil, Oregano & Garlic

Mozzarella Cheese, grated {optional}

1.) Pre-heat the oven to 180 deg C (350 deg F) - Spray a large oven dish with Spray 'N Cook.
2.) Boil the Pasta in lightly salted water as per the instructions on the packet, drain and place on the bottom of the prepared oven dish.
3.) Place the Ground Beef in a large mixing bowl - melt the Butter and saute the Onion until soft and light golden - add to the meat in the bowl.
4.) Pour the Beef stock over the Bread {on a plate} - squeeze out any excess liquid - add the Bread, Garlic, Basil, Egg and Tomato Paste to the meat - mix to combine - season to taste with Salt & Pepper.
5.) Form small meatballs {size of a tennis table ball} - place on top of the Pasta in the oven dish - pour both cans of Tomatoes over - cover with aluminium foil - bake for 35 minutes.
6.) Remove the aluminium foil after 35 minutes and continue to bake another 10 minutes.

Serve with grated Mozzarella Cheese {optional} and a crispy green salad or vegetables.

Comfort food at it's best!

Bye-bye now,

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