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October Book Club: The Silent Wife

2014 October 2

My favorite month of the year has finally arrived and all I can think about is crisp weather, oversized sweaters, pumpkin spice chai tea, and curling up with a good book. In honor of October, I’ve selected a thriller for this month’s Freutcake Book Club read and I have a feeling it’s going to get us all in the Halloween spirit. The Silent Wife October Book Club: The Silent Wife by A.S.A. Harrison is being called the next Gone Girl October Book Club: The Silent Wife, and many critics are saying it’s even better! Those who have read the book say they could not put it down and after reading the first chapter I can see why.

The Silent Wife 2 October Book Club: The Silent Wife

This suspenseful novel tells the story of Jodi and Todd, a couple experiencing marital problems. Todd is described as a committed cheater and Jodi, a woman with nothing left to lose which eventually leads to her murdering her husband. With the story told in alternating voices between the two main characters, readers have access to their inner most thoughts, motivations, and delusions. Figuring out what is going to happen next adds to the suspense and a twisted sense of pleasure.

The Silent Wife October Book Club: The Silent Wife

photos by Leah Bergman

Personally, I can’t wait to throw myself into the dark depths of this psychological thriller and I encourage you to do the same. Mid-month, we’ll suggest a way to incorporate the novel into your own book club meeting and then present questions for discussion as October comes to close. So get your hands on a copy now and join Freutcake Book Club as we read The Silent Wife!

Get the book: The Silent Wife by A.S.A Harrison October Book Club: The Silent Wife

 Paperback October Book Club: The Silent Wife / Kindle / iTunes

Fall Dining Room Re-do (After)

2014 September 29

Opa! Grab the Ouzo because it’s time for the big reveal of my updated dining room. If you missed last week’s post (you can read it here) I teamed up with Valspar to use their new premium paint Valspar® Reserve™ to paint a bold accent wall in our little apartment dining room. It was high time I brought some color into the space and Fall felt like the perfect season to do so.

Fall Dining Room Re do AFTER Fall Dining Room Re do (After)

 I chose a bold Mediterranean or “Greek” blue called Valspar Azure Jazz. Thanks to the help of my friend Alisa, it took one short afternoon to prep, tape, paint, and style my dining room.  Let me tell you, it’s always more fun to paint when you have a good friend to help you out!

Dining Room Re do Azure Jazz Fall Dining Room Re do (After)

Fall Dining Room Re Do Paint Fall Dining Room Re do (After)

I’ve painted dark colors onto white walls in the past and never managed to succeed without at least two, sometimes three, coats of paint. Thankfully, Valspar® Reserve™ is a paint + primer in one and went on quite easily with lovely coverage in just one coat. Plus it’s perfect for a dining room as the paint is completely washable. Thank goodness for easy cleaning!

Fall Dining Room Re do Painting 1 Fall Dining Room Re do (After)

This gave us plenty of time to finish the entire project and sit down for a glass of wine to celebrate and enjoy the new space all in one afternoon.  But enough with my rambling on! See for yourself how we transformed my blank white dining room into a now colorful space.

Fall Dining Room Re Do After final Fall Dining Room Re do (After)

 

To get the look you will need:
Valspar® Reserve™ in Azure Jazz
Paint roller
Paint tray
Edge brush
Painter’s tape- I recommend FrogTape as it gives the cleanest edge!
Drop cloth
Rags for clean up

Steps:
1.   Clear the room of all furniture.
2.   Carefully tape off the edges of the wall you are preparing to paint pressing the tape down securely.

Fall Dining Room Re do Taping Fall Dining Room Re do (After)

3.   Working in a “W” shaped pattern, paint the wall leaving a small un-painted border.
4.   Using an edge brush, paint the boarders. If needed follow again with the roller to smooth out the transition.

Fall Dining Room Re Do steps Fall Dining Room Re do (After)

5.   Allow paint to dry completely and remove tape.
6.   Style your room, re-hang artwork and enjoy!

Fall Dining Room Re Do After Fall Dining Room Re do (After)

Styling elements for fall:

Woven area rug- Cost Plus World Market
Small lamp- Target
Natural accents- horns and white pumpkins
Abstract painting- “Hearth” by Ashley Hizer
Decanters- vintage

Fall Dining Room Re Do styling Fall Dining Room Re do (After)

Fall Dining Room Re Do Final 2 Fall Dining Room Re do (After)

photos by Joanne Pio / video by Mark Samuels 

Disclosure: This post is sponsored by Valspar. All opinions expressed here are my own. Thank you for supporting the sponsors who allow me to continue creating new and colorful content for Freutcake! With Valspar® Reserve™, now the colors you love stay the colors you love. Available exclusively at Lowe’s, find a retailer here.

 

ValsparReservelogo 100x65 Fall Dining Room Re do (After)Exclusively at Lowes logo 100x71 Fall Dining Room Re do (After)

Bitter Eastern Sour Cocktail

2014 September 26

Today’s cocktail is about transition, because on the one hand, we’ve got the transition from Summer to Fall (or at least we’re supposed to-here in Los Angeles temperatures reached highs in the 100’s! In September!), and on the other hand, we’ve got Leah shifting from Western to Eastern style as she crosses the Pacific for her trip to China. This cocktail tries to embody both of these ideas. So let’s close our eyes and contemplate our seasonal transitions while we sip on a Bitter Eastern Sour.

 bitter eastern sour Bitter Eastern Sour Cocktail

A pop of red immediately sets this cocktail apart visually from its more mature parent drink, the Eastern Sour. The classic is a fruit forward blend of citrus and sweet almond, but with whiskey as its robust base. To me, those flavors are less summery, and more sweater weather. Using a touch of Campari gives this cocktail a slightly bitter edge that cuts through the sweet and makes it more of a Fall drink.

bitter eastern sour pour1 Bitter Eastern Sour Cocktail 

Plus, watching the red burst of color from the Campari float through the drink is a nice reminder of changing leaves, and, with that, the much cooler temps to come!

bitter eastern sour pour2 Bitter Eastern Sour Cocktail 

Are you guys ready for cooler temps and warming cocktails? Let us know what your go-to Fall drink is in the comments below!

bitter eastern sour overhead Bitter Eastern Sour Cocktail

photos by Elana Lepkowski

 

bitter eastern sour recipe card Bitter Eastern Sour Cocktail
Bitter Eastern Sour
bitter eastern sour recipe card Bitter Eastern Sour Cocktail
Serves 1
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Ingredients
  1. 2 ounces freshly squeezed orange juice
  2. ½ ounce freshly squeezed lime juice
  3. ½ ounce orgeat syrup
  4. 2 ounces Bourbon
  5. ¼ ounce Campari
  6. lime wedge for garnish
Instructions
  1. In a shaker ⅔ filled with ice, add orange juice, lime juice, orgeat and bourbon.
  2. Shake well for 20 seconds and strain into a large saucer or rocks glass filled with crushed ice. Pour Campari over ice.
  3. Garnish with a lime wedge.
freutcake http://www.freutcake.com/

Let’s Discuss: The Language of Flowers

2014 September 25

The power of the flower is strong, indeed! In an interview included at the end of the novel, author Vanessa Diffenbaugh relates the findings from a Rutgers University study that proves flowers increase feelings of enjoyment and satisfaction. Research from Harvard found that people feel less anxious and more compassionate when surrounded by flowers. I don’t think any of these findings are particularly surprising, but my question is, did you find enjoyment and satisfaction from reading about these lovely flowers and the magic they hold within their petals? I know I did.  The Language of Flowers has been one of my favorite reads in a long time and I most definitely have a new appreciation for all that grows in my garden. What was your experience like? What discoveries and realizations did you make while reading the novel? Below are some questions to spark a discussion…so leave your thoughts in the comment section below!

The Language of Flowers Freutcake Bookclub Discussion Questions Lets Discuss: The Language of Flowers

photo by Leah Bergman

1.   How did you feel about Victoria as a character? Did her resistance to love and happiness frustrate you or did you feel like you understood her complexity?
2.   The book alternates between chapters that are set in the past and the present. How do you feel about this type of structure?
3.   Some of the novel’s themes include love, family, forgiveness, and second chances. Which stood out as being key to you? What lessons were you able to gather from it?
4.   Immense challenges and overwhelming emotions arise when Victoria has her baby. How does becoming a mother ultimately change Victoria?
5.   Did the novel open your eyes to some of the realities of the foster care system? How?
Note: Check out Vanessa Diffenbaugh’s non-profit organization, Camellia Network, that supports young people transitioning out of the foster care system. It’s quite compelling and such a beautiful cause.
6.   Did you investigate the meanings of some of your favorite flowers? Were you disappointed to find out the negative definitions of some of the most lovely? If you created a bouquet, what would it “say” and to whom would you give it?

You still have time to finish up the novel before the next one is announced next week! So enjoy these last warm days of early fall and prepare to cozy up with our thrilling pick for October.

Pumpkin Spice Monkey Bread

2014 September 23

All hail the first day of fall! I may loose a few friends by saying this, but summer is so overrated. Yes, the popsicles are fun and the occasional beach day is nice, but nothing compares to Fall. It took every ounce of self control to refrain from so much as whispering the word pumpkin until todaysomehow I manage.

Pumpkin Spice Monkey Bread Pumpkin Spice Monkey Bread

Pumpkin Spice Monkey Bread is just about as easy and delicious as pumpkin bread gets! Pull apart pieces of doughy-soft bread encrusted in pumpkin pie spice and brown sugar and oozing with caramelized pumpkin sauce. You should have seen Jason’s face when this baby came out of the oven.

Pumpkin Spice Monkey Bread 2 Pumpkin Spice Monkey Bread

Invert the baked bread onto a serving platter and watch all of the caramelized goodness drip down the sides. This recipe creates it’s own “frosting” of sorts and makes for the most beautiful presentation. Serve hot and bubbling out of the oven with a large carafe of coffee and lots of napkins, this monkey bread needs little more. Of course you could top each serving with a dollop of whiskey whipped cream if you were feeling extra indulgent. Enjoy!

Pumpkin Spice Monkey Bread 1 Pumpkin Spice Monkey Bread

photos by Leah Bergman

Pumpkin Spice Monkey Bread REcipe Card Pumpkin Spice Monkey Bread
Pumpkin Spice Monkey Bread
Pumpkin Spice Monkey Bread REcipe Card Pumpkin Spice Monkey Bread
Serves 12
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Ingredients
  1. 2 sticks (1 cup) butter
  2. 2 1/2 cups packed light-brown sugar
  3. 3 teaspoon pumpkin pie spice
  4. 1 25oz bag Parkerhouse Style Frozen Rolls (dough), thawed
  5. 3/4 cup pure pumpkin puree
  6. non-stick cooking spray
Instructions
  1. Let rolls thaw in a warm place free of drafts or covered in the refrigerator overnight.
  2. Preheat the oven to 350˚F. Spray a bundt pan with not-stick spray and set aside.
  3. Put 1/2 cup brown sugar and 2 tsp pumpkin pie spice in a resealable plastic bag; shake and knead the sugar mixture in the bag until combined.
  4. A few at a time, place thawed dough balls in the bag with the spiced sugar and shake until coated; brush off any excess sugar and arrange in the prepared pan. Repeat with remaining dough balls.
  5. Allow dough to rise until doubled in size in a warm place.
  6. In a sauce pan combine 2 sticks butter, pumpkin puree and remaining 2 cups brown sugar. Bring to a boil over medium heat, stirring and/or whisking occasionally. Stir in remaining 1 tsp pie spice and remove from heat.
  7. Pour sauce over the dough balls in the Bundt pan.
  8. Bake the monkey bread until puffed and deep golden, 30-35 minutes. Remove from oven and invert carefully onto a serving plate. Serve hot!
Adapted from Sticky Toffee Monkey Bread
freutcake http://www.freutcake.com/

Fall Dining Room Re-do (Before)

2014 September 22

There are certain things about living in an old apartment that you simply can’t avoid like dreaded “popcorn” ceiling or a ceiling fan straight out of the 1970’s. Unfortunately, I speak from personal experience. There are other things however that you can personalize even if the architectural details are slim to none, like a good coat of paint or an accent wall. So, I’m partnering with Valspar to paint an accent wall in my dining room using their new premium Valspar® Reserve™ paint.

Fall Dining Room Re do prep Fall Dining Room Re do (Before)

 

Fall Dining Room Re do before1 Fall Dining Room Re do (Before)

In a room that gets a lot of traffic, and the occasional cocktail or food splatter, it’s a good idea to use a paint that is washable and stain + scrub resistant, don’t you agree? Plus I am all for a paint that goes on in one coat with no need for primer. Shouldn’t all paint be paint + primer in one? Just saying. 

Fall Dining Room Re do Before Fall Dining Room Re do (Before)

Now back to the room! After moving into our small apartment almost one year ago, I quickly painted the entire living room/dining room area bright white. It was an immediate update to the space and elevated our little apartment from its original outdated apartment-cream color to a clean and dare-I-say almost new appearance. But let’s face it, while white is bright and beautiful it can also feel cold, bare, and a little unfinished. 

Fall Dining Room Re do bar cart Fall Dining Room Re do (Before)

So with fall on its way, I’m ready to add a bit more color and warmth to our dining room space. Valspar has such a huge selection of colors, over 3,000 to be exact (I asked), but I decided on a bold “Greek” blue called Azure Jazz

Mediterranean Blue Inspiration Fall Dining Room Re do (Before)

As Elle Décor calls the color “The blue of the Mediterranean, and the tops of the churches in Santorini,” yes, I can live with that! The combination of crisp white and rich Mediterranean blue feels modern yet inviting and who knows, it might just inspire a bit more wine drinking and Mediterranean style dining around here.

Fall Dining Room Re do swatches Fall Dining Room Re do (Before)

So with the color picked, I asked my friend Alisa to come help me paint. Next week I’m unveiling the finished room and a fun little video of our painting process. And yes, we certainly celebrated our hard work with a glass of wine. So stay tuned for that! Until then, what do you think of Mediterranean blue? Have you ever painted a bold, bold color in your home?

Fall Dining Room Re do paint Fall Dining Room Re do (Before)

photos by Joanne Pio

Disclosure: This post is sponsored by Valspar. All opinions expressed here are my own. Thank you for supporting the sponsors who allow me to continue creating new and colorful content for Freutcake! With Valspar® Reserve™, now the colors you love stay the colors you love. Available exclusively at Lowe’s, find a retailer here.

ValsparReservelogo 100x65 Fall Dining Room Re do (Before)Exclusively at Lowes logo 100x71 Fall Dining Room Re do (Before)

 

 

 

Asian Pear & Ginger Sparkler

2014 September 19

Is it just me or has this week flown by? Tomorrow we leave for Hong Kong, a trip that quite honestly I am feeling completely unprepared for. Let’s just say, I haven’t even packed! (Oy vey.) But in other news, I finished a couple of exciting new projects this week, painting my dining room (more on that later), and managed to make a fun cocktail that I’m sharing over on Style Me Pretty Living today, so I don’t feel like a complete failure.

Asian Pear Ginger Sparkler Asian Pear & Ginger Sparkler

Yes, this Asian Pear & Ginger Sparkler is my ode to China and all of the amazing food I plan to eat this next week. If you haven’t tried Asian Pear you simply must! It’s crisp and sweet with a subtle pear flavor and best eaten ice cold. Sort of the like a crisp green apple and a pear were combined to make one perfect fruit. Of course you could always substitute a nice ripe Bosc pear in it’s place if you can’t find Asian Pears in your grocery store or Asian market.

Asian Pear and Ginger Sparkler 1 Asian Pear & Ginger Sparkler

Have a great weekend, friends! The next time I post it will be from China. Cheer, Leah

Asian Pear and Ginger Sparklers 2 Asian Pear & Ginger Sparkler

photos by Leah Bergman for Style Me Pretty Living

Asian Pear Recipe Card Asian Pear & Ginger Sparkler
Asian Pear & Ginger Sparkler
Asian Pear Recipe Card Asian Pear & Ginger Sparkler
Yields 2
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Ingredients
  1. 4 oz. Vodka or Pear flavored vodka
  2. 1 oz. Fresh lemon juice
  3. 1 Asian Pear, chopped and cored plus slices for garnish
  4. Ginger ale, to top
  5. Ginger Syrup (recipe follows)
  6. mint for garnish
Ginger Syrup
  1. ¼ cup sliced, peeled ginger
  2. 1 cup sugar
  3. 1 cup water
Make the ginger syrup
  1. In a small sauce pan combine sliced ginger, sugar, and water. Bring to a boil over medium-high heat. Remove from heat and allow to cool to room temperature. Strain out ginger and discard, reserving syrup in an airtight container until you are ready to use.
Assemble the cocktail
  1. Divide 1/2 chopped pear between two glasses and add the rest to a cocktail shaker. Muddle well with vodka, lemon juice and ginger syrup allowing pear to release it's flavors.
  2. Fill with ice and shake until well chilled.
  3. Strain into prepared glasses, top with Ginger ale and garnish with a slice of pear and a sprig of mint. Serve.
freutcake http://www.freutcake.com/

A Meaningful Bouquet

2014 September 18

Reading The Language of Flowers by Vanessa Diffenbaugh for this month’s Freutcake Book Club has me obsessed over the meaning of every little plant, herb, and bloom I see. I find myself searching for the symbolism of flowers while in the past I would simply pick the prettiest bunch. I’m always happy when one of my favorite flowers turns out to have a happy meaning like Ranunculus (you are radiant with charms) and sad when they don’t, Peonies (anger). Not that I am ever angry when my house is filled with Peonies! But the language or meaning behind flowers does give pause to the way I think about them. In the book, the main character Victoria uses flowers in an almost magical way to convey messages personally and for her clients. There is so much that can be said with a meaningful bouquet whether the recipient is a friend or loved one.

If you are hosting a book club with this month’s read, try setting the table with a variety of vases filled with different cut flowers. Allow book club members to create their own meaningful bouquets to take home. Just be sure you look up the definitions before choosing your blooms. You wouldn’t want to set the table with Sunflower (false riches) or Anemone (Forsaken)!

Gratitude Bouquet A Meaningful Bouquet

Gratitude: Green and white with bits of purple, this is a lovely bouquet. This combination would be perfect for someone who needs a bit of luck in his or her life, a friend who has invited you to dinner, or a family member who has recently helped you in some way. This would also make a fabulous house warming bouquet! Who wouldn’t want a little comfort, prosperity, and luck in their home?

Gratitude Bouquet Recipe A Meaningful Bouquet

Recipe for Gratitude:
Lisianthus- appreciation
Clover – ease, comfort and prosperity
Bells of Ireland – good luck

Romantic Love Bouquet A Meaningful Bouquet

Romantic Love: Not to be confused with the love you have for a friend or relative, this bouquet is on fire with romance! Give this bouquet of affection to someone you are passionate about and your love will not be soon to fade.

Romantic Love Bouquet Recipe A Meaningful Bouquet

Recipe for Romantic Love:

Amaranthus- unwilting, not soon to fade
Aster- patience
Celosia- burning, on fire, affection
Dahlia- dignity

Friendship Bouquet A Meaningful Bouquet

Friendship: This bouquet is radiant with the cheerful-lightness of a good friendship with just a hint of friendly love. This bouquet would bright the day of any good friend old or new.

Friendship Bouquet Recipe A Meaningful Bouquet

Styling by Amy Dempsey / Photography by Leah Bergman

While Amy and I had fun interpretating our own recipes for Love, Friendship and Gratitude, the language of flowers is definitely open to interpretation! So, make it your own. Fill your house with Juniper (protection) and send someone you love a nosgay of Jonqui (desire) letting the flowers speak for you.

And if your book club decides to make meaningful bouquets at their next meeting, be sure to share your pictures on Instagram #freutcakebookclub! Amy and I would love to see the “recipes” you come up with.

Banana Split Popsicles

2014 September 17

While most of the United States is breaking out the light weight sweaters and enjoying the crispness that comes with the approach of Fall, us Southern Californians are cranking up the AC and making popsicles. Yes, after a week of 103 degree days, my brain can barely cope with anything that’s not ice cold and preferably frozen.

Banana Split Popsicles Banana Split Popsicles

Mother Nature is either playing a mean, mean trick on us or having her last blazing hot summer hurrah! Either way, I’ve decided to go on heat wave strike and make Banana Split Popsicles. Those of you who are also on the West Coast…you are welcome.

Banana Split Popsicles Ingredients Banana Split Popsicles

I’m sort of ashamed to call this a “recipe” but considering it takes assembly and freezing time, I’ll take the liberties. Stay cool friends and enjoy a popsicle or two! I promise, these babies will go faster than you can say “ice cream sundae.” 

Banana Split Popsicles Prep Banana Split Popsicles

Banana Split Popsicles 1 Banana Split Popsicles

photos by Leah Bergman

Banana Split Popsicles 1 Banana Split Popsicles
Banana Split Popsicles
Banana Split Popsicles 1 Banana Split Popsicles
Yields 10
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Ingredients
  1. 2 cups vanilla ice cream, melted
  2. chocolate fudge
  3. 10-maraschino cherries
  4. 1/2 cup salted peanuts, chopped
  5. 2 bananas, cut into 2" slices
  6. 10 popsicle sticks
Layer the following ingredients
  1. Maraschino Cherry, one per popsicle.
  2. vanilla ice cream
  3. thin layer of fudge (too much and popsicles will be difficult to remove)
  4. chopped nuts
  5. slice of banana
  6. Insert a popsicle stick through the banana and freeze until firm.
  7. Run under cool water before removing from mold. Serve immediately.
freutcake http://www.freutcake.com/

Chicken Milanese with Snap Pea Slaw

2014 September 16

It’s easy to get stuck in a chicken rut. This month, while the weather’s still delightful and there’s still lots of fresh summer produce, give this super-simple recipe a try. Chicken Milanese is just a fancy way of saying breaded and pan-fried chicken cutlets serves with a squeeze of lemon juice. Every culture has a version: German schnitzel, chicken parm subs in NYC, even chicken katsu from Japan—and, let’s be honest, who doesn’t love a chicken cutlet?

Chicken Milanese with Snap Pea Slaw Chicken Milanese with Snap Pea Slaw

For this recipe, I love to make use of the thin-cut or thin-sliced cutlets from the grocery store. They’re prepped for you! And bonus: They cook really fast. If your grocery store doesn’t sell ‘em, just get regular cutlets, put them between two sheets parchment paper and gently flatten them using the bottom of a heavy kitchen skillet. Problem solved.

Chicken Milanese Snap Pea Slaw Ingredients Chicken Milanese with Snap Pea Slaw

My favorite thing about this recipe is how the fresh, crunchy slaw pairs with the warm breaded cutlets. The meal is satisfying and light at the same time, which is a balance I’m always striving to perfect. If you want to make this into fall (when snap peas aren’t readily available), you can swap in snow peas and baby arugula from the boxed-lettuce section of the produce aisle.

Chicken Milanese Steps Chicken Milanese with Snap Pea Slaw

photos by Erin Phraner

 

Ooh! One more thing. If you’re willing to splurge on one extra ingredient, this dinner is even better topped with a few generous shavings for good-quality Parmesan cheese. I mean, what isn’t better with a parm-garnish, right!? Hope you enjoy it! Definitely let us know what you think.

Chicken Milanese recipe card 1 Chicken Milanese with Snap Pea Slaw
Chicken Milanese with Snap Pea Slaw
Chicken Milanese recipe card 1 Chicken Milanese with Snap Pea Slaw
Serves 4
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Ingredients
  1. 1 pound boneless, skinless thin-cut chicken cutlets
  2. 1 large egg
  3. 1 cup Italian-style breadcrumbs
  4. 8 ounce snap peas
  5. 2 lemons
  6. PANTRY STAPLES: Kosher salt, freshly ground and extra-virgin olive oil
Instructions
  1. Season chicken with salt and pepper. Heat up some olive oil in a large skillet over medium-high heat.
  2. Lightly beat the egg in a shallow bowl. In another shallow bowl, sprinkle the breadcrumbs. Dip the chicken in the egg, then press in the breadcrumbs to coat, shaking off any excess. Transfer to pan and cook until golden brown and cooked through, 2 to 3 minutes per side.
  3. As the chicken cooks, thinly slice the snap peas on the bias; transfer to a medium bowl. Drizzle with olive oil and the juice of 1 lemon; sprinkle with salt and toss to coat.
  4. Serve the chicken topped with the snap pea slaw. Top with fresh Parmesan cheese, if desired.
freutcake http://www.freutcake.com/
pixel Chicken Milanese with Snap Pea Slaw