littleSpoon {Charlotte, NC} Hip Hop Brunch

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Where can you go for great brunch eats and 90′s/00′s hip hop? Try littleSpoon {Charlotte, NC} for a delicious hip hop brunch.

Little Spoon {Charlotte, NC} Hip Hop Brunch

I can’t say I’ve been anywhere else in town where you can get this experience, potentially making this my new favorite, local brunch spot. Well-crafted food + locally sourced ingredients + some of my favorite tunes = a winning combination.

Hubby actually suggested checking out this restaurant a couple weekends ago, and I happily agreed. littleSpoon is located off of Selwyn Avenue where FABO used to be, in the same shopping center as Mellow Mushroom. The space is a little on the smaller side, but it’s well decorated and comfortable. I’m not sure if they take reservations, but it may be worth making them, if possible.

I’d had a lot of coffee that morning, so I decided to try something different to drink. Fresh-made lemonade hit the spot. It was a little bubbly and lightly sweet, just how I like my lemonade.

Little Spoon {Charlotte, NC} Hip Hop Brunch

We considered starting with the doughnuts, but when we heard there was a blueberry, homemade “pop tart” special, we were sold. The starter was great – so much better than a boxed pop-tart. littleSpoon’s version was made with fresh blueberries and a hint of citrus in a golden pie crust.

Little Spoon {Charlotte, NC} Hip Hop Brunch

We decided to share a couple main dishes. Hubby ordered the homemade “hot pocket” with egg whites, turkey sausage, and jalapeƱo. I tried a bite and really enjoyed it, though it was a little spicy for me. I’m a weeny when it comes to spicy food, though. The flavors were great together, and I enjoyed the dough, which reminded me a little bit of pizza/calzone dough.

Little Spoon {Charlotte, NC} Hip Hop Brunch

But, the hash stole the show for me. Not only was it beautiful, but it was the perfect combination of ingredients. I believe it contained purple potatoes, bell peppers, onions, sausage, micro greens, and a sunny-side up egg on top. I love these types of dishes – the ones where you try to gather a little bit of every tasty component in a single bite to enjoy the flavors together.

The weather was warm when we visited littleSpoon so we sat outside. We took in the sunny day whilst enjoying our brunch eats and songs by Dr. Dre, 50 Cent, and Tupac. It’s not every day you can enjoy this combination, but hubby and I are already looking forward heading back to littleSpoon for another tasty hip hop brunch soon.

Dim Sum Yum & Vintage Fiestaware Finds

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So the last couple times hubby and I have been to Durham, something has been missing.

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I haven’t been getting my occasional dim sum fix! And you guys know how I feel about dim sum. ;) So, this weekend I managed to talk hubby’s family into visiting my Durham-fave – Hong Kong Chinese Restaurant.

Have you guys ever tried dim sum? I’m thinking of writing a pocket-guide or how-to for dim-sum-newbies. It is a bit intimidating if you don’t know the ropes. But, I’d be happy to help you navigate your first experience with confidence.

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I always get hot tea with my dim sum. But if you can’t drink hot tea without sugar, you may want to skip it. Hot tea here is served sans sugar.

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We normally go to the restaurant right at opening, but hubby and his brother were watching the new X-Men at 10:30am. So, we met at the restaurant at 1pm.

Normally, I have to wait for one of my faves – roast pork bun, but today, since we were there later, we got it first!

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And though I normally get Chinese broccoli, we decided to try something new for our veg – baby bok choy. Aren’t they cute?

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Yes…cute…and tasty!

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Another fave of mine – har gow (shrimp dumpling).

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And with a couple more orders, our lazy Susan was really filling up.

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Sticky rice (I usually either get this or the lotus leaf version).

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And hubby’s brother requested this tofu, which was really tasty (never seen this one before!).

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At this point, I was pretty much done. lol But we still ordered a couple more things for hubby and his fam…

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Fried shrimp/crab balls.

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Spring rolls (I never eat these at dim sum since they’re so readily available at every.single.Chinese restaurant – why waste the stomach space when you can try something new?), but hubby loves them, so he got them.

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And another hubby fave – calamari. I must admit, they have a wonderful calamari here, though I still only end up eating a couple small bites.

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And for dessert, I split these sesame balls for dessert with hubby’s mom.

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I’m totally eying this for next time – hot/cold soybean milk! I wonder if they make it themselves here? That would be cool!

This little Durham dim sum restaurant is turning into a favorite. The food is always wonderful and the servers are so helpful and nice. :)

***

After lunch, I went with hubby’s mom to a consignment shop. As we started browsing the goods outside, they stepped out to tell us they weren’t open, but they were still working and to let us know if we saw anything. Since there were a couple baskets of plateware, I had to take a look.

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And wouldn’t you know my eye was drawn right to a brilliant, TCL-blue plate at the bottom of a heap of (beat-up) glassware.

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Turns out it was a cup and saucer of vintage fiestaware! And upon inquiry of the price, I found out there were 2 more sets, plus 4 plates! Shibby! :)

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I also scored a small pink Depression bowl.

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Yes, only I would manage to purchase stuff from a closed consignment shop. lol. Actually, hubby’s mom bought the plate-goodies for me. Thanks!

***

Hubby and I came home, packed up and headed home. We had grand plans to grill out, but we got rained out instead by a giant storm with lots of scary lightning. We’re planning to raincheck the meal for Monday night. Instead of BBQ, we had pizza.

***

Do you like to shop at thrift/consignment shops? What do you look for there?

Dim Sum Tradition Grown Up

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If you’re just catching up, I spent the weekend in Atlanta! You can check out the first post here, an amazing Atlanta dining experience here, the whole reason for the trip here, and an amazing holistic cold remedy thanks to my Filipino roots here.

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As I mentioned earlier, I’ve grown up visiting my family in Atlanta. I don’t know where the tradition started, but since I can remember, almost every single time we go to Atlanta, we have a very important restaurant we must visit.

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We’d always go with our cousins to the Oriental Pearl in Chinatown for Sunday brunch aka dim sum.

For the first time ever, Sis and I (now all grown up and stuff) went by ourselves! We usually go with cousins and our fam and roll in with a big group of 8 or 9, but today it was just the two of us.

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Don’t get there early enough and you’re bound to wait. We decided on a lazy morning with our fam, so a wait was a guarantee, but it was so worth it!

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Lucky #15!

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The scene inside.

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Inside, things were busy as ever.

We actually went to the Oriental Pearl couple years ago, and they had converted the place to a Chinese buffet! We were SO disappointed. Dim Sum is not served buffet style. Part of the greatness of dim sum is the whole experience – the food being rolled around on carts.

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Sis and I quickly grabbed some food from one of the first carts around.

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Plus we had hot tea! This is where I learned to drink hot tea sans sweetener. There isn’t even sugar on the table!

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First up – sticky rice (the one served in a glass bowl)

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And from the first cart of steamed foods, we picked…

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shrimp and vegetable dumplings.

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Quickly followed by sticky rice in a Lotus leaf.

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Nom!

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Then, we saw something we’ve never seen before – a large wooden container with tofu inside!

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After talking to the waitress, we found out it was hot tofu with a sweet ginger sauce – a tofu dessert!

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Although we weren’t ready for dessert, at dim sum, you have to jump when the food comes around or risk that they may run out. Since we had already gotten there later than normal, we decided to try it. It was really tasty! I’m going to have to try to remake this one. It seems easy enough.

Dozens of carts passed by but Sis and I were trying to be selective so we didn’t fill up before getting the items we really wanted.

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From one of the next steamed carts, we got one of my personal faves -

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Har Gow – aka Steamed dumplings. I accidentally ordered this one in Chinese. I can only imagine what my terrible accent actually sounded like to the poor lady pushing the cart. lol Anywho, this is actually the only dim sum dish I know in Chinese, but I’d really like to learn all of them. It’s so much easier to order them in Chinese. Otherwise, you may not know what you’re asking for.

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For example, I tried to ask our friendly waiter for 1. roast pork buns and 2. Chinese broccoli. He scribbled this (above) down and took off for the kitchen. Sis and I guessed what we had actually ordered. A pork and broccoli stir fry? Or worse? Something completely wrong like octopus? We had to play the waiting game to see.

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Meanwhile, Sis got her fave – steamed pork buns.

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Happy eater!

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And I finally had one of my faves roll around – the roast pork buns I’d been looking for! Rather than wait for the waiter, I went ahead and got an order of these…especially since my mom had asked us to bring some home, I had to go for it!

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Nom encore!

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And what did the waiter this we ordered? We’re not sure 100%, but he definitely though we wanted this roast pork. Sis and I were way too stuffed to eat it and started to tell him it wasn’t what we ordered. The poor guy looked so sad and tried to tell us the pork was good (in broken English). So, we decided to take it to go and give it to the fam back home. I tasted a bite and he was right – it did taste good!

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Sis really wanted sponge cake, but they sold out before we could get some, so we got these steamed red bean cakes. I love red bean based Chinese desserts, but it seems like a lot of places like to use yellow beans instead. The red is so much better!

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The view from our table.

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And a coin for this statue for good luck on our way out.

After our filling and delicious brunch, it was time to hit the road!

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Did you know Jackson County means business? Neither did I until I passed this water tower.

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Back home, we found our the fam had all had HUGE lunches and were too full for dinner! Doh! Sis and I were hoping to do a big Sunday dinner for Mother’s Day but in true mom-style (or at least style for our mom), she just wanted to spend time with us. Flashy things and fancy gifts mean so much less to my mom than quality time. I only wish I could have taken that Monday off like I wanted to spend it with her. Guess I’ll have to do that on another time. It doesn’t have to be on Mother’s Day, right?! :)

I had frozen and re-heated Chicken Cacciatore for dinner…

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…with some of aunt’s bread toasted with real butter.

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Plus sweet rice for dessert!

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And a couple days late because I’m catching up on blog posts, but Happy Mother’s Day to the most kind, loving, and wonderful mom ever! I love you!

Do you have any places (restaurant or otherwise) that you just have to visit every time you go to a particular city?

Regaining my Garden + Considering a CSA

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Saturday started off a bit groggily thanks to only 2 hours of slumber from the super fun royal wedding celebration day.

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But, it also started off with total deliciousness thanks to brunch at the Flying Biscuit.

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Hubby and I decided to try the brie appetizer.

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It wasn’t exactly what I expected. I’ve had brie wrapped in puff pastry and baked before, but this one was doused with a sweet, creamy sauce and topped with raspberry sauce and peaches. It was pretty good, but I like my pastry flaky and dry. It’s a texture thing. ;)

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Hubby and I also split the High Flyer breakfast. Can you believe this photo shows a half portion!?

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After brunch, hubby and I swung by the farmers market. We decided to not get any veggies since I’m going out of town this coming week, but I did pick up one thing – a sweet banana pepper seedling!

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We have one square left in our square foot garden, and this banana pepper will fit perfectly.

We also took a moment to talk to our vendor about possibly signing up for a CSA. I’ve never done a CSA before, but I have done the home-delivery of organic produce. We did ok with the delivery, but it was sometimes challenging cooking with the veggies we were less familiar with or cooking them at all during our busiest weeks. Of course, I also actually liked the challenge of cooking with unfamiliar ingredients and having a reason to eat in. :) So, we’re still thinking about the CSA.

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I planted the seedling as soon as I got home.

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And while I was in the garden, I plucked some swiss chard leaves for lunch.

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We don’t have much in the fridge right now, so I just pan-fried some Canadian bacon, re-baked a rye bagel, and sauteed the swiss chard.

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Have you ever had garden-fresh swiss chard? It’s unbelievable! Try it!

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After running some errands in house, it was time to get ready for a couple special events!

Reader question: What do you think about CSAs? Any tips or words of advice?

Royal Brunch

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Ok, so we didn’t have a royal-themed brunch after our very-royal slumber party, but we did continue the festivities (and enjoying our day off) with a lovely brunch al fresco.

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We hit up Cafe Monte, a local French restaurant. I know, I know…what’s up with me and the French stuff when we’re celebrating the royal wedding, but it’s just where we felt like going. ;)

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The weather was perfect for outdoor eating.

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We started with a cheese platter. This is actually the first time I’ve ordered a cheese platter at a restaurant. I never order these because as a general guideline when eating at restaurants, I try to order things that I can’t make at home. I feel like anyone can cut a few slices of cheese and stick it on a plate. But, today, with hardly any plans for the rest of the day, we felt like snacking and taking our time. And cheese, especially at a French restaurant, sounded good.

I was glad we did end up ordering that cheese platter.

The plate had:

  • French baguette
  • grapes
  • candied walnuts
  • gouda
  • brie
  • a sweet walnut cheese
  • and another creamy cheese – not sure what it was

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Everything was delicious. And what I learned was…although you can make a cheese platter at home, sometimes it’s worth ordering something so simple to learn about new cheeses you like or even just to enjoy the flavors with friends at a special brunch.

I also learned that the best way to eat the walnut cheese was to place some of the cheese on a piece of baguette and top it with a piece of candied walnut. Yum!

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Since we were at a French restaurant, I decided to order the French onion soup.

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As expected, it was really tasty.

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And Erica and I split the French dip. I loved the real roasted beef (not deli meat) and the gooey cheese on top. The pommes frite were pretty tasty, too.

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My dessert – a cafe au lait. Perfection in the form of frothed milk. It was so nice sitting back, enjoying the weather and the company, and just relaxing.

And before I move on, I must mention that the service at Cafe Monte was impeccable. Definitely go there if you want to be taken care of well.

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After brunch, Erica and I went shopping! I found some super cute stuff, including a very fun hat that I can’t wait to rock out.

And we found a really fab hair piece that was too expensive to buy on an impulse…but I may go back to pick up one day. ;)

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And to cap off the royal day, we did Zumba in royal themed accessories. ;) lol

What did you think of all the crazy hats at the royal wedding? Do you think the trend will catch on where you live?

Easter + Amaranth Experimenting

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I hope you all had a wonderful Easter weekend.

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Our Easter bunny came Saturday night while we were all sleeping.

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There were lots of goodies waiting for us at brunch.

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Post-brunch, we took Bailey on a walk.

I took a bunch of photos of flowers around the neighborhood.

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Spider!!!! EEK!

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Later on, we had Easter lunch instead of dinner, since hubby and I had to head home later in the day.

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Hubby’s mom put together a feast including roast turkey breast, fennel, mashed potatoes, cauliflower, stuffing bites, and salad.

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She even got me a little Easter present.

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I thought it looked better on Bailey, though. Can you hear him complaining, “Mo-oooooom! What are you doing to me? Don’t make me wear the ears!”

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What a cutie pie!

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Hubby and I spent the car ride home talking about food for dinner and the week ahead. I’ve fallen off the wagon as far as preparing foods on Sunday (Sunday Prep Day anyone?), but I want to get things back in order. I’m really sandwiched-out, so my new pan is to make a big soup no Sunday and eat on it during the work week. Soup and a nice piece of heart, whole grain toast is one of my favorite meals. It’s easy, affordable, and filling.

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I’ve been pretty disappointed by the soups offered during lunch hours at restaurants nearby, so the solution…make my own! I can make way better soups than they can, plus I can tailor them to my taste buds.

On this Sunday, I made a giant batch of vegetable lentil soup. I originally wanted to just make a vegetable soup – a class fave of mine. But, I added lentils to make the soup more filling, since I’ll be eating it as an entree. I need to write up a recipe, because this one is a definite winner! Full of tons of veggies, with a light flavor, and satisfying thanks to those French green lentils. Mmm…

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Remember that Amaranth flour I got a couple days ago? I’ve been really excited about using it in a kitchen project, so I decided to test out some new cookies with my new whole grain flour.

Upon opening the flour, I noticed an interesting smell. The flour smelled kind of like…grass! Yes, like the kind of grass that grows outside. Very odd! I thought maybe the scent would disappear after I mixed the flour with other ingredients and baked it off. Nope…the resulting cookies even tasted kind of like grass…or at least…they tasted like how grass smells.

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I love amaranth flour for its whole grain qualities and nutritional benefits, but the taste on its own is something I think would take getting used to. I thought I may be able to use it solo like I do with my fave – SPELT! But, my new plan of action with the amaranth flour is to use it with other whole grain flours to create multigrain goodness.

I’m thinking of putting amaranth into:

  • breads
  • cookies
  • pancakes
  • cobblers
  • anything you bake with four!

But next time, I’ll use amaranth flour as maybe 25-33% of the total flour. ;)

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PS: I tried out this cookie recipe with a couple slight variations, and wouldn’t you know…they look just like dough balls! The texture was sort of dough ball-esque, too, but nothing beats the original!

Have you ever tried Amaranth (in any form – flour, seed, etc.)? What did you think?

What’s your favorite flour?

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