Mango-Jalapeno Salsa from The Daniel Plan Cookbook

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Now that the weather is warming up, I’ve been eating more fruit–there’s something about the warmer weather that makes me crave it more! I love all kinds of fruit and that’s what I like about this Mango-Jalapeno Salsa–there’s a nice variety of fruit–mango, pineapple, and apple–mixed in with some diced tomato and red bell pepper. It’s a little on the spicy side, so use half the amount of jalapeno and ginger if you want a milder salsa. Overall, I think this is a great, healthy mix of naturally sweet and savory flavors!

517gSVWkM3L._SX258_BO1,204,203,200_Speaking of healthy, this recipe is from a new cookbook out last month, The Daniel Plan Cookbook, by Pastor Rick Warren, Dr. Daniel Amen, and Dr. Mark Hyman. It’s a companion book to the New York Times Bestseller, The Daniel Plan: 40 Days to a Healthier Life and has 100 easy recipes (with full-color photos) to help you eat healthy for life. “Food truly is medicine,” says one of the authors, Dr. Hyman. Eating real, whole foods can help reverse chronic disease, aid in weight loss, and even optimize brain health. In developing the book, the authors thought about what most people like to eat, then created healthy versions of popular dishes to show that healthy eating is possible in the “real world.” So there are recipes for Blueberry French Toast, BBQ Chicken Pizza, Spinach and Artichoke Dip, Classic Meatloaf, and Chocolate Coconut pudding, to name a few…that just goes to show you don’t need to feel deprived when you’re eating healthy!

I received a sampler of recipes from the book and decided to try the Mango-Jalapeno Salsa. This tropical-style salsa goes well with Mexican recipes using fish or chicken, like the Grilled Spicy Fish Tacos, another delicious-sounding recipe in the book. I really like it with those blue corn tortilla chips, too.

MANGO-JALAPENO SALSA from The Daniel Plan Cookbook

  • 1 mango, peeled and diced
  • 1/2 cup diced pineapple
  • 1 Granny Smith apple, peeled and diced
  • 1/4 cup seeded and diced tomato
  • 1/4 cup diced red bell pepper
  • 4 Tablespoons lime juice
  • 2 Tablespoons minced fresh ginger
  • 2 Tablespoons minced seeded jalapeno (use half the amount of jalapeno and ginger for a milder salsa)
  • 1/2 cup chopped fresh cilantro

Place salsa ingredients in a bowl. Mix together well. Chill in refrigerator. (Keeps up to 1 week refrigerated).

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This makes about 3 1/2 cups of salsa. It’s really easy to make and so good! Have you tried making a fruity salsa before?

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Black Bean Hummus

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When I was at the grocery store the other day, I saw some Black Bean Hummus. I hadn’t noticed that flavor before and it  sounded great ! Instead of buying some, I decided to make my own.

You use black beans instead of garbanzo beans (or chickpeas) in this hummus, but it still has many of the same ingredients you would use in your typical hummus recipe…like olive oil, garlic, and tahini. It also has a little cayenne pepper in it, which adds some spiciness–but if you prefer a milder flavor, leave it out.

This is a smooth and creamy hummus, and I love the flavor combination of the black beans with all the other spices. If you like hummus and black beans, keep this recipe in mind!

BLACK BEAN HUMMUS by NancyCreative

Makes about 1 1/2 cups

  • 1 (15-ounce) can black beans, rinsed and drained
  • 1 clove garlic, minced
  • 2 Tablespoons lime juice
  • 2 Tablespoons olive oil
  • 3 Tablespoons tahini (roasted sesame seed paste)
  • 1 teaspoon ground cumin
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon paprika
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground cayenne pepper (optional)
  • Optional garnishes: 10 to 12 Kalamata olives, 1 1/2 Tablespoons chopped fresh cilantro

Place all ingredients, except for the garnish ingredients (olives and cilantro), in a food processor or high-power blender; process until smooth and creamy. Spoon into a bowl and garnish with olives and fresh cilantro. Serve with pita bread, fresh veggies, or tortilla chips.

I’m enjoying trying out and creating different hummus recipes! I’ve also made these other hummus recipes: basic HummusSun-Dried Tomato Hummus, and Pumpkin Hummus.   Do you have a favorite hummus flavor?

Linked to Inspire Me Monday.

Sun-Dried Tomato Hummus

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I’ve mentioned before how much I love hummus, and this time I tried making Sundried Tomato Hummus! I just love sundried tomatoes and I had found a recipe at AllRecipes that sounded good. It’s made with oil-packed sun-dried tomatoes. I halved most of the recipe, because I didn’t need to make 4 cups of hummus, and used more sun-dried tomatoes in it for a stronger, more tomato-y taste. I also needed to use more lemon juice and olive oil in this hummus because the original recipe was really thick. It’s a little thicker and chunkier than other hummus recipes I’ve made because of the sun-dried tomatoes in it, but it is so good-and I love the fresh basil in it, too!

SUN-DRIED TOMATO HUMMUS by NancyCreative, adapted from AllRecipes

Makes about 2 cups

  • 2 cloves garlic
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1/4 cup tahini paste
  • 1/3 cup plus 1 Tablespoon lemon juice
  • 1 (15.5-ounce) can garbanzo beans (also called chickpeas), drained
  • 1/3 cup olive oil
  • 1/2 cup oil-packed sun-dried tomatoes, drained (I used the Julienne Cut, for easier blending)
  • 1/3 cup finely shredded fresh basil
  • Optional garnish: 1 Tablespoon olive oil, 1/8 teaspoon paprika

Place garlic, salt, tahini, and lemon juice in a food processor and process until smooth. Add the garbanzo beans and olive oil, blending again until smooth, scraping the sides of the processor occasionally. If mixture is too thick, add a little more olive oil, lemon juice, or water. Then add the sun-dried tomatoes and pulse until they’ve been chopped into very small pieces and incorporated evenly into the hummus. Add the basil and pulse a few times until it is mixed in.

Spread hummus into a shallow serving dish and serve.

If desired, you can make a few decorative grooves on top, refrigerate for 1 hour, then drizzle with 1 Tablespoon of olive oil and sprinkle with paprika before serving. Serve with veggies, crackers, or pita bread.

I think I could eat hummus every day without getting tired of it! So I’m really glad it’s healthy! Are you a big hummus fan too?

Pumpkin Spice Cream Cheese Spread or Dip

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After I made my Pumpkin Hummus, I had half of a can of pumpkin left over. What to do with it? I thought some of it might be good in a cream cheese spread. I was inspired by this recipe from Better Homes and Gardens. I wanted to sweeten the spread with honey instead of sugar (although you could use brown sugar instead if you want to have a thicker spread) and made some other changes, and this is what I ended up with!

It’s a lightly sweet and spicy spread with a very creamy texture that’s great on bagels or pumpkin bread for breakfast. Or, use as an appetizer spread on crackers or as a dip for fruit. It’s very soft and creamy when you mix it up so it does need to be refrigerated for at least an hour or two after mixing. Even after it’s refrigerated, it’s more creamy than other cream cheese spreads I’ve made–so if you want a thicker spread, use brown sugar instead of honey and omit the vanilla. If you don’t have all the spices I used in this, you can use 1 1/4 teaspoons of pumpkin pie spice.

PUMPKIN SPICE CREAM  CHEESE SPREAD by NancyCreative, adapted from Better Homes and Gardens

Makes 1 1/2 cups

  • 1 (8-ounce) package cream cheese or light cream cheese, softened
  • 1/2 cup canned pumpkin (not pumpkin pie filling)
  • 3 Tablespoons honey (or substitute brown sugar for a thicker spread)
  • 1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
  • 1/4 teaspoon nutmeg
  • 1/4 teaspoon ginger
  • 1/4 teaspoon cloves
  • 1/2 teaspoon vanilla

In medium bowl, blend all ingredients together until smooth (if using an electric mixer, blend on medium speed). Pour mixture into a small serving bowl, then cover and refrigerate for at least 1 hour or overnight. Makes about 1 1/2 cups of spread. Serve on bagels or pumpkin bread for breakfast. Or, serve as an appetizer with crackers or apple and pear slices.

If you like pumpkin-flavored things, you’ll need to try this out! What other ways do you like to use leftover canned pumpkin?

10 Great-Tasting Party Snacks for the New Year

Can you believe this year is almost over? I think it has been the fastest one ever! Has it flown by for you, too? If you are planning on making some snacks for New Year’s Eve or New Year’s Day, here are some yummy ideas for your celebration!

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Cheesy Stuffed Sourdough Loaf–a great-tasting loaf that’s a meal or a snack!

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Cheesy Hot Artichoke Dips–I love the Cheesy Spinach and Artichoke Dip posted here and I’ve also included some other variations: Baked Artichoke Dip, Hot Artichoke Dip, Microwave or Oven-Baked Artichoke Dip, Chile-’Choke Dip, and Artichoke Party Dip.

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Bacon Double Cheeseburger Dip–you can’t go wrong with bacon and cheese! :)

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Chexicago Party Mix–a tasty snack inspired by the sweet and salty caramel-and-cheese popcorn combination that’s popular in Chicago!

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Five-Layer Greek Dip–with hummus, feta cheese, tomatoes, cucumbers, and olives…healthy and really good!

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Bacon-Cheese Pull Aparts–a hard-to-resist panful of cheesy-bacon-onion yumminess!

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Bacon-Green Onion Cream Cheese Spread–if you need a spread for crackers or crusty bread, try this out!

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Easy, Cheesy Garlic Bread–who doesn’t love garlic bread? Serve it with thick, chunky pasta sauce for dipping it in!

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5-Layer Mexican Dip–always a crowd-pleaser!

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Salsa Roll-Ups–a quick and easy snack and can easily be made ahead of time.

What yummy snacks are you planning on making? Enjoy your New Year celebrations, and have a safe and happy one!

Pumpkin Hummus

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I started eating hummus about 10 years ago. A coworker and friend of mine made the best hummus, and he’d bring me some every so often. And I have been a big hummus fan ever since! I usually make this hummus recipe, but I thought I’d try making some hummus with pumpkin in it for the holidays. I liked most of the ingredients in this Pumpkin Hummus recipe and this one, so I used them as a starting point. I really like this Pumpkin Hummus! It’s a great healthy dip–really smooth and creamy, with a light pumpkin, savory taste. Perfect for balancing out all those holiday sweets! If you’re making this for a party or large group, you may want to double the recipe.

PUMPKIN HUMMUS by NancyCreative

Makes about 4 to 6 servings

  • 1 (15-ounce) can garbanzo beans (also called chickpeas), drained
  • 1 cup canned pumpkin puree (not pumpkin pie filling)
  • 1/4 cup tahini (sesame paste)
  • 3 Tablespoons lemon juice
  • 3 Tablespoons olive oil
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 teaspoon paprika
  • 1/2 teaspoon cumin
  • 1/2 teaspoon sea salt (or a little more, to taste)

Add all ingredients in a food processor, starting with the garbanzo beans, and process until smooth.

To serve, spoon out on a platter or in a small bowl. Sometimes I garnish it with a little paprika. Serve with veggies, crackers, or pita bread.

It’s nice when a dip that tastes good is healthy, too! What are some of your healthy holiday snack recipes?

5-Layer Mexican Dip

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Since rooting for your favorite sports team can work up an appetite (or is that just an excuse to snack? :) ), I thought I’d share this yummy dip recipe I found on the Kraft Foods website. I love recipes like this that are so easy to make! And because it has refried black beans, olives, green onions, and chopped tomato in it, it’s a little healthy, right? You could make it even healthier by using light sour cream instead of regular sour cream. Or, if you like plain Greek yogurt, you could even substitute that for the sour cream. And if you use low-fat shredded cheddar cheese, you have a lower-calorie dip that’s still really tasty!

I made a few small changes to the recipe and included suggestions for making it lighter. This makes about 4 cups of dip or 32 (2 Tbsp.) servings. You can also make this into a 6-or 7-layer dip by adding a layer of guacamole and/or salsa–either one or both would be good, and I’ve noted that in the recipe…

5-LAYER MEXICAN DIP slightly adapted from Kraft Foods

  • 1 (15-1/2 oz.) can refried black beans
  • 1 Tbsp. chili powder
  • 1/2 tsp. ground cumin
  • 1 cup light or regular sour cream, or plain Greek yogurt
  • optional ingredients: 1 cup guacamole and/or 1 cup salsa (as additions to, or in place of, the sour cream)
  • 1 cup shredded sharp cheddar cheese (or low-fat shredded cheddar cheese)
  • 3 green onions, sliced (you can slice up the entire green onion, or just the stems)
  • 1 (2.25-ounce) can sliced olives (about 1/2 cup)
  • 1 large tomato, chopped
  • optional garnish: 1/8 to 1/4 cup sour cream, or Greek yogurt
  • optional garnish: 1 sliced green onion stem

Mix the refried black beans, chili powder, and cumin together, blending well. Spread onto the bottom of a 9-inch pie plate.

Spread sour cream over the bean mixture. If using guacamole and/or salsa, spread 1 cup of each over the sour cream, spreading the guacamole first. Then top with a layer each of shredded cheddar cheese, green onions, sliced black olives, and chopped tomato. Garnish with additional sour cream and sliced green onions, if desired.

Refrigerate several hours or until chilled; serve with tortilla chips (blue corn tortilla chips are good with this, and I’ve read that they are healthier than the white corn tortilla chips).

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Then dig into the dip and enjoy the game!

Linked to Carole’s Chatter.

Bacon Double Cheeseburger Dip

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If you’re looking for a yummy dip to make for a party or get-together, you may want to try this one out! It’s not what you would call healthy, but there are some ways you can make it a little lighter, like using lean ground beef, or even substituting “veggie” ground beef (like Morning Star Farms® Grillers Recipe Crumbles). I found the recipe at Closet Cooking and made a few tiny changes, adding just a little more garlic and onion, which I’ve noted in the recipe. Just the name of this dip makes me hungry! :) You can serve it with tortilla chips (I like Tostitos Multigrain Scoops) or toasted or warmed baguette slices. You can also top the dip with fresh diced tomatoes, lettuce, and extra crumbled bacon if you want. This recipe makes 4-5 servings; if you’re making this for a larger group you should definitely double the recipe and make it in a 9×13″ pan!

BACON DOUBLE CHEESEBURGER DIP slightly adapted from Closet Cooking

Bake in a 9″ pie plate or square baking dish; double the recipe for a 9×13″ pan

  • 1/2 pound lean ground beef 
  • 6 slices bacon, cut into 1-inch pieces (I used turkey bacon)
  • 1 small to medium onion, diced (I used a medium-sized onion, since I like onion!)
  • 1 to 2 cloves garlic, minced (I used 2 cloves)
  • 4 ounces (light or regular) cream cheese, softened
  • 1/2 cup (light or regular) sour cream
  • 1/4 cup (light or regular) mayonnaise
  • 1/2 cup shredded mozzarella cheese
  • 1/2 cup shredded sharp cheddar cheese
  • 1 Tablespoon Worcestershire sauce
  • 2 Tablespoons ketchup
  • Tortilla chips or scoops, or a sliced baguette
  • Optional garnishes: shredded lettuce, diced fresh tomatoes, chopped dill pickles, cooked and crumbled bacon

Preheat oven to 350˚F.

Cook the ground beef in a pan over medium heat; drain grease and remove ground beef from pan.

Next, cook the bacon in the pan until crispy, about 6 to 10 minutes. Drain all but 1 Tablespoon of the grease from the pan. Add the diced onion to this pan and saute in the Tablespoon of grease until tender, about 5 to 7 minutes. Add the minced garlic and saute until fragrant, about 1 minute.

In a large bowl (or in your pan, if it’s big enough) mix together the ground beef, bacon, onion, and garlic. Then add in the softened cream cheese, sour cream, mayonnaise, shredded mozzarella and cheddar cheeses, Worcestershire sauce, and ketchup, mixing everything together.

Pour into a pie plate or baking dish and bake at 350˚F for 20 to 25 minutes, or until the top starts turning light golden brown and sides are bubbling.

Garnish top of dip with shredded lettuce, diced fresh tomatoes, chopped dill pickles, and/or cooked and crumbled bacon.

Serve with toasted or heated baguette slices or tortilla chips or scoops.

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If you eat this dip on baguette slices, it’s kind of like having a bite-size cheeseburger! :)

I don’t have much willpower when it comes to these warm, cheesy dips! Do you have a favorite cheesy dip recipe?

Sun-Dried Tomato Spread or Dip

I never seem to get tired of eating sun-dried tomatoes, and lately I’ve been craving bagels and cream cheese. So I thought I’d try making a Sun-Dried Tomato Spread. It turned out to be a very savory cream cheese spread with chives, basil, garlic, and some finely shredded Parmesan cheese sprinkled in…yum! It’s a nice, thick spread for bagels and you can also use it as a veggie dip–if you want the consistency to be thinner for the dip, just add a little more plain yogurt to the recipe.

SUN-DRIED TOMATO SPREAD OR DIP by NancyCreative

  • 1 (8-ounce) block of cream cheese, regular, light, or fat-free
  • 1/4 cup mayonnaise, regular or light
  • 1/2 cup plain Greek yogurt (use 3/4 to 1 cup if you want to make a thinner dip)
  • 3/4 cup oil-packed sun-dried tomatoes, drained and chopped
  • 1/2 cup finely shredded Parmesan cheese
  • 2 Tablespoons finely chopped fresh chives (or substitute green onion stems)
  • 2 Tablespoons finely chopped fresh basil
  • 1 clove garlic, minced
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon pepper
  • additional finely chopped chives or green onions for garnish, optional

In a medium bowl, blend softened cream cheese with mayonnaise and plain Greek yogurt. Add the chopped sun-dried tomatoes and Parmesan cheese, blending well. Then add in the chives, basil, garlic, salt, and pepper, blending all ingredients well.

Scoop mixture into a serving bowl and garnish with chopped chives or green onions. Spread on bagels or serve with fresh veggies and/or crackers.

Other optional add-ins or substitutions: 2 Tablespoons finely chopped green or black olives; 2 Tablespoons finely chopped fresh parsley; 2 Tablespoons finely chopped red onion; 2 Tablespoons finely chopped walnuts or pecans.

This spread tastes great on Asiago cheese bagels, and it’s also really good on Everything bagels.

Are you a sun-dried tomato fan? What’s your favorite way to eat them?

Red Plum Freezer Jam

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I’ve never made freezer jam before (or any kind of jam for that matter). My friend Ann gave me some plum jam she had made with red plums from a tree in her backyard. She had so many plums, she had enough to give me a bunch to make my own plum jam, too!

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Ann found the recipe she used over at The Prepared Pantry. This plum jam is really yummy–sweet with a little tartness, and much, much better than store-bought! It’s opaque in color and has a thick, creamy consistency, so it’s a little different from your typical jam. It was easier to make than I thought, so I’ll definitely be making more homemade jam in the future! If you love plums, I think you’ll really like this jam. Even if you’ve never made jam before, you should give this a try. Since it’s freezer jam, you don’t need to bother with sterilizing jars or doing the other steps involved in traditional canning.

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You don’t even need to have special canning jars–for the batch I made, I used clean glass jars I had saved from other foods like peanut butter, ice cream topping, pasta sauce…any jar with a tight-fitting lid will do. If you don’t have jars, you can also use plastic containers.

The original recipe doesn’t say how long you can store the jam, but according to the National Center for Home Food Preservation

  • Freezer/refrigerator jams and jellies are a distinct category of products that have to be stored in the refrigerator (usually up to 3 weeks) or frozen for up to a year.
  • Freezer jams also have to be stored in the refrigerator after thawing and will only retain good quality for 3 to 4 weeks after opening. They are subject to more syneresis (“weeping” or separation of liquid from the gel) than cooked jams and jellies.

So it sounds like the jars of jam will keep in the freezer up to a year unopened, but once you open them, use them within 3 to 4 weeks. This particular jam can be used straight from the freezer, so I keep even my opened jars in the freezer–the consistency is still smooth and spreadable right from the freezer.

Here’s the recipe if you want to try making your own jam!

RED PLUM FREEZER JAM from The Prepared Pantry, with additional tips added

Makes enough to fill 5 pint-sized jam jars

  • 3 cups chopped and cooked plums, unpeeled (you’ll need about 8 cups of chopped, uncooked plums–this may give you a little more than 3 cups cooked, but it’s better to have too much than not enough; you can always save the extra cooked plums for something else–like adding to a smoothie or making a fruit topping!)
  • 1/2 cup lemon juice
  • 1 package pectin (Ann and I used Sure-Jell)
  • 4 1/2 cups granulated sugar
  • 1 cup light corn syrup

Wash and dry the five pint-sized jam jars (or use bigger jars and fewer) or plastic containers. Make sure the lids fit tightly.

Remove the stones from the unpeeled plums and chop into fine pieces (you’ll need 7 to 8 cups of chopped plums). Cook the plums until bubbly and soft, stirring mixture constantly as it cooks. I cooked my plums on low to medium low, switching between the 2 and 3 setting on my electric range stove top for about 30 minutes, and then cooked another 5 minutes on the 4 setting. The consistency will be kind of like chunky tomato sauce–here’s what mine looked like

Measure the cooked plums to make sure you have 3 cups (if you have extra, save the rest for another use). Place the 3 cups of cooked plums in the bowl of your stand mixer. Add the lemon juice.

Using the paddle attachment, stir in the pectin thoroughly. Turn the mixer to the lowest setting and let the mixer run for 10 minutes (there will be some spattering of the mixture during this mixing time, so make sure your mixer is set on the lowest setting). Then let mixture sit for 20 minutes.

Add the corn syrup into the fruit mixture  (the corn syrup reduces the likelihood of sugar crystallization). Add the sugar and stir with the mixer until it is completely dissolved and no longer grainy, about 5 minutes.

Immediately pour jam into your prepared containers leaving 1/2-inch clearance at the top to allow for expansion of mixture while freezing. Let the jars stand on the counter for 24 hours to allow the pectin to set, then freeze.

This is great on toast and English muffins! You can even spread it on pancakes and waffles if you want!

Notes:
–Using the paddle attachment of your stand mixer incorporates air into the jam. If you don’t have a paddle attachment, use the regular beaters.

–Once the pectin begins to set, thickening the jam, do not stir. Continuing to stir will break down the pectin and make the jam more syrupy (which is OK if you decide you want to use it as a syrup or topping for pancakes, waffles, or even ice cream!)

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What a nice way to start the day! Enjoy your plum jam!