April 20, 2016

Ready, Set, Passover with Simply Beautiful Eating


I’m going to be honest with you. I’m not a big fan of Passover foods and that’s mainly because matzah really does a number on me. It takes a few twists and turns to get me to fall in love with a recipe that incorporates this unleavened product. BUT……

This folks is one of them.

Well? Why not? A piece of cardboard covered in toffee, chocolate, dried fruit and nuts is going to sell me on eating matzah, that’s for darn sure. I know many of you who love matzah. I’m not sure why. I prefer the texture of the box as opposed to the matzah. Each year, I try to devise ways to hide it. I will crumble, crush, soak, fry, bake and man handle that freekin’ matzah until those 8 days have PASSED over.


BUT LOOK…..just take a second glance and behold the beauty of this crunch below↓

It makes me almost want to say ……



This is one recipe that is tried and true. Back a few weeks ago, I made a very similar treat (with the same base of ingredients) for Easter. The only difference was there was no matzah in sight. The first layer was made with graham crackers and it was absolutely addictive.

This crunch, or crack as some call it, is the same. TOTALLY and UTTERLY insanely addictive. Once you break off one piece, the rest seems to make its way into your mouth until it’s ALL GONE.


But how do you spell Matzah? Well, I just spelled it M.A. T.Z. A. H.

But on occasion I spell it M.A.T.Z.O.

Or even M.A.T.Z.O.H.

Or when there are lots of them around you use the plural matzot or matzos.

Anyway you spell it, it’s still the same cracker just like there are sixteen ways to spell H.A.N.U.K.K.A.H:




















So here’s the thing. If you are making this crunch/crack/whatever and bringing it to a home that is strictly kosher you will need to make it dairy free or what we refer to as PAREVE. What that means is this. NO BUTTER ALLOWED. I think you know what I’m going to say next.

Margarine is your only option for the non-dairy thing. I can’t even believe I’m saying the word M.A.R.G.A.R.I.N.E. because technically that tub of yellow plastic goop really isn’t a real food substance. It’s a chemical mixture of this and that.  Now, having said that, I’m sure if you are not opposed to using it to bake with, go right ahead. What I haven’t investigated yet is trying this recipe with a vegan butter substitute. Oh. And coconut oil isn’t going to work. It will give this crunch a completely different flavour and texture. Don’t even go there or you will end up with a greasy, soggy matzah mess.


If anyone has time to experiment with other fat based options, please let me know if you have any success. In the meantime, I’m sticking with good ol’ butter.

You can get really creative with this matzah crunch. What I did last night was raid my pantry and came up with a bunch of nuts and dried fruit to sprinkle over this crunch. And you can make this with any type of chocolate (I prefer dark or semi-sweet).

Add other toppings, such as sprinkles and candies, to light up the kids lives (or yours if you like loads of sugar). Just keep in mind that if you are making this Kosher for Passover it needs to be rubber stamped with approval and you will be paying triple the price for ALL THE INGREDIENTS.  Such is life.


Oops ! I almost forgot to tell you this. On Wednesday April 20 I will be taking over The Feed Feed’s Snapchat to bring all of you a live step by step tutorial on this sweet deliciousness. Don’t forget to follow along at THEFEEDFEED. See ya there!

3 – 4 pieces of plain matzah
1 cup unsalted butter (2 sticks cut in chunks)
1 cup dark brown sugar, firmly packed
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
Pinch of sea salt
1 cup chocolate chips, I used mini semi sweet and threw in about ¼ cup extra
Assorted dried fruit and nuts, I used sliced almonds, crushed pistachios, dried cranberries, dried apricots.
Optional – White chocolate drizzle – ¼ cup melting chocolates (microwave in small bowl for 30 second increments until melted, stir at 30 seconds and then stir at a minute.



1. Line a 11 x 17 baking sheet with foil and top with a piece of parchment paper.
2. Place matzah pieces on the sheet, using smaller pieces to fill in gaps.
3. Preheat oven to 350F.
4. In a small saucepan, melt the butter and brown sugar over medium heat until boiling. Stir constantly until the mixture is bubbly and thickens. About 3 minutes. Keep an eye on it so that it doesn’t scorch.


5. Remove from heat and add vanilla and salt.
6. Immediately, pour hot toffee mixture over the matzah. Place in oven for 15 minutes watching that it doesn’t burn. I checked it at 10 minutes and needed to turn the temperature down to 325F.


7. Once the matzah is nice and bubbly remove from oven and pour the chocolate chips over. Let it sit for 5 minutes and then spread the melted chocolate with an offset spatula to cover right to the edges.
8. Sprinkle with desired toppings and let cool completely. Once cool, you can drizzle melted white or any flavour chocolate for a nice touch. Let it set in fridge for 30 minutes.
9. Once it’s hardened, break into pieces and serve or store in an airtight container for up to a week (that will never happen though)





Happy Passover & see ya next week!

Simply Beautiful Eating


xx, Debi
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April 19, 2016

Classic Margarita’s with a Chipotle-Salt Rim


All joking aside, my absolute favorite thing to drink is a margarita, and my favorite thing to eat is guacamole and chips.  Give me that combo and I am the happiest person alive.

My friend Jenny and I studied abroad together in London, and made it an adventure to find the best Mexican restaurants while we were over there.  England isn’t exactly known for it’s Mexican cuisine, so anytime we found one that we liked, we would get way too excited about it. Now, anytime she visits me in NYC or I her in Boston, it is our tradition to go get Mexican.


When we were roommates in college, my friend Stephanie and I would often make a huge batch of guac, turn on a movie, and sit and eat the whole thing for dinner.  Was this a healthy dinner choice? Not at all. But it was so damn good that we didn’t care.

And that’s only two guac/ margarita stories out of the many that I have. Do you see how much I love Mexican food?


Stephanie has since shared her delicious guacamole recipe with me, and now every time I make it, it is met with enthusiasm and appreciation. And now, I will share it with you.  Along with my favorite margarita recipe, with a nice, zesty, chipotle-salt rim.

You ready? Here we go!

Stephanie’s Guacamole

-4 avocados
-1 tomato (I like to use beefsteak or roma)
-1/4 white onion
-1/4 red onion
-1 clove garlic
-1 lime
-1 jalepeño
-1 tsp. cumin
-a few springs of cilantro
-salt & pepper to taste


Here’s what to do:

1) Cut your avocados in half, remove pit and scoop out into bowl.  Mash up halves until smooth and creamy, leaving a few chunks.
2) Dice your tomato and add as much as you’d like to the bowl with avocado.  I typically like to add 1/2, but add more if you like it tomato-ey!
3) Finely chop your white and red onions, and garlic and add to bowl with avocado and tomato.
4) Cut lime in half.  Squeeze the juice of one of the halves into your bowl with other ingredients.
5) Cut a few slices of your jalapeño.  Remove seeds from inside and dice the outer round of the jalapeño.  Add as much jalapeño as you’d like, depending on how spicy you’d like it.
6) Add tsp of cumin, and large pinch each of salt and pepper and stir.
7) Dice 6-10 cilantro leaves and add to mixture.  Mix again. Add salt and pepper to taste.



Ok, now onto the margaritas.  I used to be a frozen margarita kind of gal, but now with more experience in drinking and also the fading of my sweet tooth, I am all about the classic, on the rocks, with a salted rim.  I also love some spice, so i decided to try making this with a chipotle-salt rim.  I tried this while out on one of my many Mexican food adventures and fell in LOVE.

Here’s what you need:

-tequila (I prefer Patron silver)
-5 limes
-simple syrup
-cocktail shaker
-chipotle salt


Here’s what to do:
1) Take your limes and fresh squeeze 2 oz of juice. Add to your cocktail shaker. Also add ice to shaker.
2) Measure out 2 oz. of cointreau and 4 oz. of tequila into your shaker.
3) Add 1/2 oz. of simple syrup to shaker.  Shake up all ingredients.
4) Take a lime wedge to the rim of each of your glasses to wet them.  Pour a layer of your chipotle salt onto a flat plate.  Place your wetted rims on the plate of chipotle salt and turn, to rim your glass.


5) Garnish each glass with a lime wedge and fill with a few cubes of ice.
6) Pour mixture from cocktail shaker into each glass, dividing evenly between then two.





Feel free to add more simple syrup or tequila, depending on how strong or sweet you would like your drink.  Pair this margarita with the guacamole and you’ve got yourself a spicy and festive situation.



Cheers! See ya next week.

xx, Abby
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April 15, 2016

Ready, Set, Weekend with Simply Beautiful Eating

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Let’s just get this out of the way. The last time I made macaroons they ALL attached in the oven. ALL OF THEM. I ended up with one large, flat, mess of coconut. I have no idea what happened and I’m not even going to try to figure it out. For the past few years, my niece has been crowned the “Macaroon Queen” and has made absolutely perfect round spheres to bring to our Passover dinner. She displays some on a tray and others she wraps as individual “goodie” bags for guests to take home. These perfect treats are laden with coconut, vanilla bean and dipped in chocolate. Totally divine.

I needed to try my hand at making these macaroons again, just to see if they would not meld into one giant coconut disaster again.

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So, I did some research, called my niece and then took advice from 2 of my favourite people on earth – Martha Stewart & Deb Perelman from smitten kitchen. Along with my niece’s secret ingredient, the guts of a vanilla bean, I was ready to tackle the elusive MACAROON.

Oh. And don’t confuse a macaroon with a macaron. Two totally different cookies. The confusion between these two sweet treats – macarons (pronounced mah-kah-ROHN) and macaroons (pronounced mah-kah-ROON) happens all the time. Is it just the difference between the spelling and pronunciation? Nope.


They are the most elegant sandwich cookie you will ever lay eyes on, a delicate meringue that comes in a variety of creative flavors with decadent fillings like high quality chocolate ganache, preserves and buttercream. I will be attending a macaron making workshop later this month at a local bakery – Le Dolci. Honestly? I can’t wait because there is no way on earth I would attempt these in my own kitchen unless I was under strict supervision.


These babies are homemade, chewy, and coconutty. A delightfully sweet confection that is known for its’ golden crisp outside and chewy soft inside. You make them with egg whites, shredded coconut, and sugar. The recipe could not be simpler (except if you’re me and end up with a very large coconut pancake). They take about ten minutes to prepare and you don’t need a pastry course to achieve the beautiful end result. They are considered to be a “friendly” cookie and you can dip them in chocolate, and get creative with additional ingredients to make them your own signature style.

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That is exactly what I was after here.

I wanted a twist on the traditional recipe and threw in some fresh blackberries to punch up the colour as well as offset the sweetness of the coconut and sugar with a zazzle of tartness.

Once I made the coconut batter in my food processor, yes, food processor – a tip from smitten kitchen, who aptly refers to “reducing the cough-inducing shreds to a thick paste that bakes into a delicately textured cookie”. You know what? She’s right. I can’t even count how many times I have bitten into a macaroon and ended up with one shred stuck in my throat. TOTALLY BRILLIANT DEB PERELMAN……but then again, I have trusted you before and you’ve never failed me.

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Now. Why did I decide to use a trilogy of recipes for this cookie? Easy. Martha’s used a bit less sugar and a different oven temperature. My niece added in the vanilla bean instead of an extract. And finally, smitten kitchen used a berry in the mix, which to me was a concept of creating a macaroon that was off the charts.

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Here’s what the taste testers in my office had to say about these (and yes, I conducted a door to door interview with a fake microphone):

“These were the best macaroons I have ever tried”.

“I usually don’t like coconut, but these macaroons were quite tasty”.

“Moist delicious coconutty and oh my god”.

“A mouthful of happiness”.

Keep in mind that I work with over 18 women on my floor, and that was just a snippet of the comments I received on these macaroons.

And now, it’s time for true confessions. I made a huge dumbo mistake when I dipped them into the melted chocolate. Wanna know what? Here, I’ll tell ya.

Instead of placing the cookies on parchment paper, I put them on the cooling rack to drip off the excess chocolate. You know what happened next? Yes, that’s right. EVERY SINGLE STUPID MACAROON stuck to the cooling rack. It was a real DUH moment for me and once again I have no idea why I did this. If I would have placed them on the parchment to let the chocolate set up, I would have ended up with gloriously dunked cookies, but instead, I had to practically chisel them off the rack with a spatula. DOUBLE DUH.

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The bottom line? Make them. Even if you don’t love coconut, you will love these.


(inspired by Martha Stewart, Smitten Kitchen, Mandy & simply beautiful eating)

-14 oz. sweetened flaked coconut
-⅔ cup granulated sugar
-1 vanilla bean pod, seeds scraped out
-¼ tsp. flaked sea salt
-1¼ cups fresh blackberries, washed and dried well (do not use frozen)
-3 large egg whites
-6 oz. good quality chocolate, (I used 60% Ghirardelli), melted

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1) Preheat oven to 325F.
2) Line a cookie sheet with parchment paper.
3) In the bowl of a food processor, add the coconut and run processor for 1 minute. Add the sugar, and process for another minute. Add the vanilla bean seeds, salt, and egg whites and process for 1 minute.

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4) Add blackberries and pulse 15 times or until berries have broken down into very small chunks.

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5) Use a 1½ tbsp. cookie scoop and scoop mounds onto prepared baking sheet. You can put them close together because these cookies don’t spread much (which is a miracle in itself)

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6) Bake for 28-32 minutes or until tops start to become golden brown. Don’t overbake.
7) Remove from oven and let sit on cookie sheet for 10 minutes. Then slide onto a cooling rack.
8) Line your baking sheet with a fresh piece of parchment paper and set aside.
9) Once cookies are completely cool, at least 1 hour later, begin melting your chocolate in a double boiler over simmering water or in the microwave in 15 second increments. I have done both methods and to be honest, the stove top one can’t be beat.

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10) Dip cookie bottoms into chocolate and then set back on parchment paper. Repeat until all cookies are dipped. Using a spoon or a small sandwich bag with a tiny hole cut out, drizzle remaining chocolate over the cookies. Let sit until chocolate is completely set up.

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11) Store in an airtight container for up 1 week. Do not refrigerate.
12) If you want to freeze, don’t dip into chocolate. Freeze after they cool and then dip them after defrosting. Makes 25 -30 cookies

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See ya next week!

debi, @simplybeautifuleating

xx, Debi
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April 8, 2016

Ready, Set, Weekend with Simply Beautiful Eating

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Remember National Pie Day? How could you forget. It’s a day to celebrate eating all kinds of PIE! I found myself debating which kind of pie to make to commemorate such a wonderful holiday and fell upon an old recipe that my mother-in-law made quite frequently.

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Now, I normally would make this from scratch, BUT her recipe was a short cut version using boxed lemon pie filling. But hang on….the pie crust is homemade so technically it’s partially scratch! I didn’t want to steer away too much from the original recipe, so I added some zing (because I love tart things) and threw some fresh Meyer lemon juice directly into the mix.

I also have the best husband on earth, who came home with these striped, pink lemons that were too cute for words, so of course I had to add them in as well.

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And what about this meringue? Well, let’s just say I always have my issues and qualms about making a perfect meringue. Although I have gotten over my fear of meringues, I always hold my breath until I see the end result.

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This time around, I doubled the egg whites because my goal was to have the most obnoxious amount of height on the pie ever. I think it worked, don’t you?

Now comes the truth about this meringue, and I know you will appreciate this because come on…….most of you are not pastry chefs, right?

I made the first batch and it was absolutely magnificent. Then of course, my patience factor went from zero to nothing in under 2 seconds and I put the pie filling into a crust that was still TOO warm. Don’t say anything yet. I’m not finished. Wait.

After I proceeded to mess up that step, I plunked on the meringue and attempted to make swirls. Attempted is the operative word here.

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It wasn’t that it turned out ugly, but when I placed it into the oven to brown, my swirls didn’t look all that great to me anymore.

I let the pie cool, then started taking photos of my “creation”.

Once I saw the photos, I knew I was in trouble. My peaks were, how shall I say, more like plunks.

Is it just me, or is everyone this finicky? Here’s what I did. I whipped up another batch of meringue, topped the meringue with meringue and unleashed my trusty brûlée torch (which I love, by the way) and lit this pie on fire!

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I ended up with a stupid amount of meringue and a very leaky pie because I can’t seem to wait for anything lately.

End result? Although it was a little wet, it was still delicious and I know you have learned a lesson today from all of this.

Patience is a virtue (that I don’t have).

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-2½ cups all-purpose flour, divided
-2 tablespoons sugar
-1 teaspoon kosher salt
-2½ sticks unsalted butter, cut into ¼-inch pieces (MAKE SURE THEY ARE VERY COLD)
-about 6 tablespoons ice-cold water (I use water with ice cubes floating around in it then measure out the 6 tablespoons)

-1 package of Lemon Pie Filling – cooked according to directions
-2 lemons, juiced *see notes below

-6 egg whites, room temperature
-½ teaspoon cream of tartar
-12 tablespoons sugar
-½ teaspoon vanilla


1) Combine about ⅔rd’s of the flour, all the sugar, and salt in the bowl of a food processor. Pulse a couple of times just to incorporate dry ingredients. Spread your cold butter chunks evenly over dry ingredients. Pulse until no dry flour remains and dough just begins to collect in clumps. Use a rubber spatula to spread the dough evenly around the bowl of the food processor. Sprinkle with remaining flour and pulse until dough is just barely broken up, about 5 or 6 more pulses.
2) Add in ice water slowly and pulse until a ball of dough forms.
3) Transfer dough onto floured board and knead a bit.
4) Divide ball in half. Form each half into a 4-inch disk. Wrap tightly in plastic and refrigerate for at least 2 hours before rolling and baking.


1) Prepare your lemon pie boxed filling according to package directions. Here’s what I did to make it tastier. When you measure the water, fill the cup with the juice of 2 lemons (I used one Meyer and one pink, then continue filling the measuring cup with the amount of water required to make your filling.
2) Preheat oven to 400F.
3) Roll dough to fit a 9 inch pie dish, prick with fork and place a piece of parchment paper on top of the dough. Use pie weights to make sure the crust doesn’t puff up. Bake shell for 10 minutes and reduce oven temperature to 375F and bake another 15 minutes. (LET COOL COMPLETELY BEFORE FILLING, NOT LIKE WHAT I DID).

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4) Place filling into cooled crust and make your meringue next.

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1) In medium bowl or stand mixer, beat egg whites and cream of tartar on high speed until foamy.
2) Beat in sugar, 1 tablespoon at a time; continue beating until stiff and glossy.

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3) Beat in vanilla. Spoon onto hot pie filling. Spread over filling, carefully sealing meringue to edge of crust to prevent shrinking or weeping. You can either bake your pie to brown it for 8-10 minutes in a 400F oven or use a brûlée torch to brown the meringue peaks.

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See ya next week!

debi @simplybeautifuleating

xx, Debi
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April 1, 2016

Ready, Set, Weekend with Simply Beautiful Eating

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It’s DK Publishing book review time again! I have an amazing new healthy cookbook to share with you today called COOK HEALTHY AND QUICK.  It’s a collaboration of yummy recipes that you can make in under 30 minutes. Yes, a half hour and you have yourself a meal.

This is right up my alley! I know you will love this as much as I did. Oh, and I bookmarked over 30 recipes from this gem. I managed to make 4 of them on the weekend that I will be sharing with you over the next few days.

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Let’s start with this Freekeh. First of all. How do you pronounce it and what the Freekeh is it?

FREEKEH (pronounced ‘free-kah’) is a green-ish cereal made from wheat. It looks like bulgar wheat and has a greenish tinge to it.

I have made tons of different grains lately and this one has a distinct smokey flavour that is unique and delicious as a side dish or a salad.

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I’m loving the addition of dried cherries and pistachios in this recipe. Now, truth be told, I didn’t have dried cherries on hand so I subbed in dried blueberries. You know what? They look exactly the same. And what about the pistachio nuts? It seemed that I could only find the ones in their shells last week.

Hulled would have been easier to use but I made an evening out of this project and just did it myself (with the exception of 5 which just wouldn’t open for me – STEVE!! HELP!!)

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One thing I love about doing these reviews. Not only is it an opportunity to try new recipes (especially healthy ones), but it’s also a challenge for me to recreate the actual look of the dish.

Take a gander….I mean hello……..this turned out pretty much like the pic in the book!

And it was FREEKEN good.

Cherry & Pistachio Freekeh Pilaf

-1 cup uncooked freekeh
-8 cardamom pods
-8 whole cloves
-1 tablespoon oil
-1 onion, finely chopped
-1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
-pinch of salt
-⅔ cup dried cherries, coarsely chopped (I used dried blueberries – also delish)
-¾ cup pistachios, coarsely chopped

For the Dressing
-3 tablespoons olive oil
-2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
-pinch of salt

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1) Place the Freekeh in a large saucepan, cover with 1 quart of water, and place over medium heat. Add the cardamom and cloves and simmer for 20 minutes or until all the water has been absorbed. Drain any remaining water and remove and discard the cardamom and cloves. Set aside.

2) Meanwhile, heat oil in a large frying pan over medium heat. Add the onions and cook for 5 – 10 minutes, stirring occasionally, until softened and translucent. Then add the cinnamon and cook for another 2 minutes.

3) For the dressing, place all the ingredients in a small bowl and mix to combine. Add the freekeh to the onion mixture, season with the salt and stir to mix. Then add the cherries and pistachios and stir until evenly distributed. Remove from the heat. Serve hot with the dressing drizzled over the dish. *Note from me – this was so good I’ve been eating it all week and I don’t want it to END.

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See ya next week!

debi @simplybeautifuleating

xx, Debi
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  1. Party Props Online

    Very nice blog. I will definitely try this.

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