Design, Food, Pets, Health, Technology... Life Untangled Fri, 22 Jul 2016 13:18:09 +0000 en-US hourly 1 Best Vegetarian Cookout Dishes Fri, 22 Jul 2016 13:09:41 +0000
How Do You Like Your Wiener?
It can be tough being a vegetarian, especially during summertime cookouts and BBQ's. And that's precisely why I'm sharing my favorite meat-free dishes that will make your next backyard gathering a treat for your veggie-loving friends.]]>
Sometimes being a vegetarian ain’t easy. In particular, summertime can be difficult with all that fresh meat on the grill. It kind of seems like a moth to the, well, flame. I’ve been a vegetarian for more decades than I would ever admit online. But I will tell you that I’ve been traumatized more than once by this strange summer ritual that carnivores call the cookout. Plus, I always leave hungry and end up stopping for a slice of pizza on the way home. But I’ve solved that problem with the best vegetarian cookout dishes around.

Barbecue By Any Other Name, Is NOT A Barbecue!

My most recent trauma occurred fairly soon after I moved to North Carolina. I was invited to a gathering by a local business owner. It was a nice gig with about ten tables of desserts made by adorable church ladies and an absolutely ginormous smoker filled with meat of various animals that Gordon Ramsey could most definitely identify by smell alone, but alas, I am not him. My point? During a light conversation with a group of folks, I said something along the lines of never having been to a cookout like this before. And that was the last time I ever made the mistake of calling a barbecue a cookout. Vice-versa gets you in trouble just the same, BTW.

How Do You Like Your Wiener?

My first traumatic cookout memory goes back to my youth. Not only was I a vegetarian at an early age, but I have also been dorky since way back when. Shocking, I know. My parents dragged me to a family friend’s house. At some point, I must have been aimlessly wandering around the backyard looking as hungry as I felt. Let’s cut straight to the punchline, shall we? An adult I had never met before peeked out from behind the grill and asked me, “How do you like your wiener?” I think I died for a minute. And as impossible as it may seem, I was utterly speechless. I didn’t know what I was supposed to think or say. Was I in trouble? What the heck was happening here? Finally, after what felt like 34 years but was probably 5 seconds, he yelled, “Would you like a hot dog?” I muttered, “No, thank you,” as I quickly ran away. And with that, this geeky and sometimes gourmet vegetarian brings you the…

Top 7 Vegetarian Dishes to Bring to a Cookout or BBQ

(Alternate Title: How to make sure your token vegetarian friend isn’t stuck eating potato chips and slices of American cheese all afternoon at your place.)

1. Grilled Peach Caprese Salad by Jerry James Stone

Grilled Peach Caprese Salad - Something on the grill for Vegetarians!

2. Grilled Corn & Zucchini Summer Salad by a SALAD for all SEASONS

Vegetarian Cookout Food! Grilled Corn & Zucchini Summer Salad

3. Vegetarian Baked Beans From Scratch from Chef De Home

The Best Vegetarian Cookout Dishes Include Vegetarian Baked Bean Recipe

4. Black Bean Quinoa Veggie Burgers from Emilie EATS

Black Bean Quinoa Burgers - Perfect for Vegetarians!

5. Grilled Vegetable Pesto Pizza by Leslie Durso

Grilled Vegetable Pesto Pizza Recipe

6. Garlic Parmesan Broccoli And Potatoes In Foil from DAMN delicious

Garlic Parmesan Broccoli and Potatoes in Foil

7. Don’t forget the dessert! Grilled Fruit Kebabs with White Chocolate Drizzle from The Cookie Rookie

Grilled Fruit Kebabs with Chocolate Drizzle

Beyond The Best Vegetarian Cookout Dishes

As an added bonus, and if I may toot my own horn, please check out my delicious Basil, Feta, Olive, and Tomato Pasta recipe. Also, follow our Outdoor Eating board on Pinterest for more recipe ideas. Yes, there are even lots of tasty recipes for carnivores!

Finally, please let me know about the best vegetarian cookout dishes you’ve ever tried.

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Pennzoil Platinum Savings #DotComDIY Tue, 14 Jun 2016 04:57:27 +0000
#DotComDIY has sizzling Rollback savings that make shopping for all of my day-to-day needs, such as Pennzoil motor oil, quick, easy, and cheap. My online savings afforded me a road trip to a gorgeous South Carolina state park where I spotted beautiful birds and alligators.]]>
This shop has been compensated by Collective Bias, Inc. and its advertiser. All opinions are mine alone. #DotComDIY #CollectiveBias

#DotComDIY with Pennzoil

As a tech geek, I enjoy anything I can do on my computer. Online shopping saves me valuable time and money, especially during the summer months. If you are anything like me, you look forward to summer all year long. With temps on the rise and daylight stretching into night, there are almost too many must-do activities jammed into this fleeting season. I want to be able to hit the road and experience one adventure after another. What I don’t want to do is stand in crowded lines or miss any special online-only deals that are not available in the store. Luckily, has sizzling Pennzoil Platinum savings that make shopping for all of my motor oil needs quick, easy, and cheap!

#DotComDIY with Pennzoil and Walmart - Pennzoil Platinum Savings

Not only can you order Pennzoil motor oil online from, but you can either pick up your order at your nearby Walmart or have it delivered right to your home. For a limited time, is offering many Pennzoil products on Rollback. Now is a great time to rack up the Pennzoil platinum savings while you get your car ready for your next summer outing. Your vehicle is going to get you where you want to go this summer, so treat it right with Pennzoil products. They provide complete protection, perform better, and allow me to really go the distance. Have some on hand so you can perform a DIY oil change or top off your oil before your next excursion. Recently, I took a road trip to a lovely South Carolina state park and beach where I spotted beautiful birds

Huntington Beach State Park Bird

and alligators in the wild.

Alligator at Huntington Beach State Park

Add Up the Pennzoil Platinum Savings

I really love the convenience of shopping online at because it affords me extra time and money to spend on my favorite summertime activities. It’s my go-to website for all my day-to-day needs. The time-saving convenience of shopping online means I get to sit back and relax. Now, that’s my idea of a summer vacation well spent!

Jake at HBSP

Don’t Let the Sun Set on Pennzoil Motor Oil Rollback Pricing at

Sunset on the Intracoastal

How are you going to spend the time and money you save this summer by shopping online at

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A Sweet End to My Cookie Quest Thu, 09 Jun 2016 15:58:01 +0000
C is for Chocolate Chip Cookies Untangled
Finding the best chocolate chip cookie recipe took a lot longer than I expected. Almost all of them are delicious in their own way. What's a chocolate chip cookie lover to do? Luckily, there is a sweet ending to my quest for the perfect chocolate chip cookie recipe.]]>
Finding the perfect chocolate chip cookie recipe took a lot longer than I expected. Sure, I got a new job and moved in the middle of all of this, but the bigger challenge was in narrowing down the pool. There are SO many chocolate chip cookie recipes out there! Some deviate very little from the original. Some vary the amount of sugar, the state of the butter (room temperature, melted, or browned), or the temperature of the dough. Some are thin and crisp. Some are thick and chewy. Almost all of them are delicious in their own way. Fear not, there finally is a sweet ending to my quest for the best chocolate chip cookie recipe.

Best Chocoloate Chip Cookie Recipe Roundup

I decided early on that I would hold two things constant. First, I would use Nestle semi-sweet chocolate chips in all of my recipes so that the chocolate was the same. Many recipes call for semi-sweet chocolate chopped into bits. Though I plan to experiment more with chopped chocolate in my baking, I did not want to add that variable in this test. Second, I did not include nuts in any of my cookies. There are some recipes that benefit from nuts, but I do not believe that the chocolate chip cookie is one of them. In my journey I tested many more than the recipes included on MyUntangled Life. (You can see more of them on my Chocolate Chip Cookie Pinterest board.) The following six recipes were my favorites:

The original, Toll House Chocolate Chip Cookies

Nestle Toll House Cookies Recipe

The Neiman Marcus cookie

The Neiman Marcus Cookie Recipe

The Perfect Chocolate Chip Cookie by Cook’s Illustrated

Cooks Illustrated Perfect Chocolate Chip Cookie #recipes

The Essential Chewy Chocolate Chip Cookies by King Arthur Flour

King Arthur Flour Essential Chocolate Chip Cookie Recipe

The Best Chocolate Chip Cookie inspired by Serious Eats

Serious Eats Inspired - Chocolate Chip Cookie #recipe

Salted Chocolate Chip Cookies by Smitten Kitchen

Smitten Kitchen Salted Chocolate Chip Cookies

Each one had something different to offer. It is hard to go too far wrong with a recipe classic like the original. The Neiman Marcus cookie had a slightly dense texture from the oats it used. Both the Essential Chewy Chocolate Chip Cookies and the Best Chocolate Chip Cookie were wonderfully chewy. The Best Chocolate Chip Cookie and the Salted Chocolate Chip Cookies balanced the sweetness of the cookie with a sprinkling of sea salt.

Now Let’s Get to the Best Chocolate Chip Cookie Recipe

As great as all of these were, the cookie I keep holding up as the ideal is the aptly named Perfect Chocolate Chip Cookie.

Best Chocolate Chip Cookie Recipe Winner - Cook's Illustrated Perfect Chocolate Chip Cookie

So, what makes this the best chocolate chip cookie recipe? Well, I should have known right away that this was the winner when these were the first cookies I wanted to bake when we moved into our new home. To me they are the perfect balance of caramel and chocolate flavors. The texture is ideal–chewy with crisp edges. While the browned butter adds a bit of time to the baking process, it is well worth the effort for the flavor it imparts. What I also like is that this recipe does not require the resting and chilling time that I get impatient with, but so many recipes require. (If I am making cookie dough, I want cookies soon!) When I made my last batch of this recipe to give as gifts to my brother and dad (who have been eager testers when there have been cookies to share), I sprinkled some salt on the tops of the ones for my brother. I think they are great with or without, but the sea salt is the only change I would consider making to this perfect recipe. Thanks, Cooks Illustrated!

Despite my extensive search for the best chocolate chip cookie recipe, I am still not tired of chocolate chip cookies. However, I am eager to share some new things with you soon. Happy baking!


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Postcard from Florida Keys Flavors Thu, 26 May 2016 16:03:45 +0000
Visit the Florida Keys
The Florida Keys is home to five districts, each with their own personality and attractions which makes exploring the flavors of the Florida Keys one tasty adventure!]]>
Partner Post: The Florida Keys is home to five districts, each with their own personality and attractions that make visitors feel like they are a world away.


Exploring Florida Keys Flavors of Marathon

Stretching only ten miles, the islands of Marathon are right in the middle of the chain of the Keys islands. Traditionally a home to fishing and marine activities and beachside restaurants, the city loves its stone crab, lobster, and other fresh seafood that come straight from its waters. Local chef John Mirabella has become one with the local seafood and community, immersing himself completely, so I asked him to take us on an edible tour of Marathon. Get ready for some delightful Florida Keys flavors!

Growing up aboard a sailboat in Titusville, Florida, he is quite familiar with the sea. He spent his childhood sailboat racing and traveling, all the while catching dinner in the fresh waters below. While he has cooked his whole life, before becoming a chef, John spent more time on the sea by working for the US Navy. Today, the locals know this Marathon chef and his wife Arlene by name and enjoy eating at his island restaurant, Castaway.


The waterside restaurant is known for its impeccable seafood, including fresh daily sushi rolls, but ask the restaurateur what his favorite hobby is and it’s actually one step before cooking, spearfishing, 200 feet below the surface. Not only is John’s activity adventurous, but it brings some amazingly fresh seafood straight into his restaurant. One of his favorite catches to serve is the invasive lionfish, which is perfect for ceviche. Chef John admits that the connection between the fishing and culinary communities is strong, something that can be seen on his menu as he tries to take the invasive species out of the sea to prevent them from further harming the environment.

If you’re headed to Marathon for the first time, we suggest you get a taste for the sea for yourself. Follow in Chef John’s lead and do some fishing for a hands­-on experience in the local waters. Because of its special location, Marathon offers backwater fishing, flats fishing, bottom fishing on the reef, and offshore trolling as well as deep dropping from 600 to 1200 feet. John charters a boat right out of his own restaurant so you can grab a guide and go! He also has great connections to favorite guides and other charters for the best Marathon fishing experience possible. Once you nab a great catch, it’s time to cook!

Exploring Florida Keys Flavors at Barracuda Grill

John says, “When you catch fish locally, you can also have it prepared in restaurants like mine and this is a pretty big deal around here. We have many many people come through our door every day carrying bags of fresh fish that they caught and we prepare them in many different ways.” Of course John and the locals recommended his very own Castaway as a spot to eat, which is also the oldest restaurant on the island and he is proud to say the eatery has been open since 1951. Today, the menu covers a wide range of Floridian seafood as well as craft beers and wines to match the dishes. Another one of John’s favorite spots is Brutus Seafood, a market and restaurant owned by a family of fishermen who serve up one of his favorite lunches in Marathon. If you’re looking for a fancier, but still relaxed, beachy atmosphere, John recommends Barracuda Grill. The local restaurant offers a variety of fresh seafood and steak dishes that are sure to impress.


Besides eating and fishing, plan a visit to the Dolphin Research Center where you can see how dolphins in the surrounding waters are helped and even take a swim with the impressive mammals. For another educational adventure, take a trip to Marathon’s Turtle Hospital and see how the endangered sea turtle is rehabilitated. To round out your aquatic vacation, stop by the new Aquarium Encounters. Not only does the aquarium offer an up-close look at interesting underwater creatures, but also a chance to get right in the tank.

When we travel, we always seek out and try a common dish to the area. According to John, Marathon’s specialty dish is often something made with Florida’s favorite Hogfish or the locally loved lionfish. Chef John’s restaurant was the first in the state of Florida to serve the lionfish and received recognition for cooking the endangered species. Thankfully, the invasive fish is buttery, tender, and delicious for cooking. In order to spear the fish, one must dive very deep. The lionfish live about 1,000 feet down and come up between 200 and 400 feet. To make matters even more challenging, the spines of lionfish contain venom and can cause extreme pain if one is pricked. John still calls this kind of difficult fishing a sport, but admits that one must be careful.

Enjoying Florida Keys Flavors at Home

If that sounds a bit too wild for your vacation, no worries! Chef John has shared on of his favorite lionfish recipes to try at home or the next time you are in Marathon.


Castaway’s Wreck Diver­style Lionfish
Cuisine: Seafood
  • 42 ounces lionfish fillets, patted dry
  • flour (for coating)
  • 5 cloves garlic, diced
  • 2½ cups chopped tomatoes
  • 5 tsp. capers
  • ½ cup white wine
  • ¼ cup lemon juice, freshly squeezed
  • 2 T. chopped fresh basil
  • parsley or kale for garnish
  • lemon wedge for garnish
  1. Dredge fillets in flour to lightly dust.
  2. Place in sauté pan with small amount of hot butter over medium heat.
  3. Cook first side, careful not to burn.
  4. Turn over fish when golden, and reduce heat while adding garlic, tomatoes, capers, white wine and lemon juice.
  5. Cover to hold steam in and cook until fish is fork­ tender.
  6. Add basil and serve immediately.
  7. Garnish with sprig of parsley or kale and lemon wedge.


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Yard Sale Success Tips Fri, 13 May 2016 20:28:42 +0000
Yard Sales Untangled
With just these helpful yard sale success tips, you can be sure to sell more, make money, and have a successful yard sale or garage sale this summer.]]>
Spring is in the air! And you know what that means…spring cleaning! What are you going to do with everything you cleared out? YARD SALE, of course! But maybe you are feeling a little overwhelmed at the thought? No sweat! With these helpful yard sale success tips, you can be sure to have yourself a rewarding and profitable yard sale or garage sale this summer.

Yard Sale Tips for Success - Get ready for your yard sale this summer with MyUntangled Life.

Get Organized and Stay Organized

The key to any yard sale is being organized from the start.

  • Start with making piles of the items you want to sell. This is also one of the important steps to an organized closet, and it’s one of my simple eBay organization tips.
  • Then separate those piles into categories such as toys, clothing, decorations, kitchen items, etc. This will make it easier for you to price your wares.
  • Keep like items together and sort by price.
  • Display larger items on tables instead of bins to keep it easier for people to see.
  • If possible, hang the clothing up and arrange by size. It will be easier for people to look though if they can go right to the size they want.
  • If you have a lot of small items, such as small toys or miscellaneous office supplies, try grouping them together and sell for one price.
  • This pricing guide is a helpful tool when you are pricing out your items.

Advertise Your Garage Sale

You don’t want to forget to tell everyone about your sale!

  • Hang colorful, durable, easy-to-read signs in your neighborhood about 3-4 days in advance.
  • Advertise on social media outlets like Craigslist and Facebook groups or websites like If you have some big items, post pictures to draw people in.
  • Is there a college near by? Put up fliers near it. College students love a bargain!
  • Put up fliers on bulletin boards of local shops.
  • Get neighbors involved – the more the merrier! Multi-family sales will draw more people to the area.

Other Helpful Yard Sale Success Tips

  • Have a few plastic bags on hand for people to place their items in and newspapers to wrap fragile items in.
  • Don’t forget to have change. Make sure you take a trip to the bank beforehand and have a few rolls of coins and small bills.
  • Play music to get people in a good mood; they will want to stay and shop!
  • Offer water for those hot days.
  • Be open to negotiation. The whole point is to earn extra cash while you move your items along to a new home!

Do you have any garage or yard sale success tips? Check out my Pinterest board for more Frugal Living ideas!

Follow Michelle D’Auteuil’s board Frugal living on Pinterest.

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Fauxmosa Recipe #NewWayToSparkle Mon, 25 Apr 2016 10:02:14 +0000
Fauxmosa Mis-en-Place
If you are looking for a #NewWayToSparkle, you will surely enjoy this fauxmosa recipe! Dasani Sparkling flavors are a healthier, flavorful option that help you make every moment sparkle. ]]>
This shop has been compensated by Collective Bias, Inc. and its advertiser. All opinions are mine alone. #NewWayToSparkle #CollectiveBias

The Dasani Sparkle Tropical Fauxmosa #NewWayToSparkle

I have been trying to stay hydrated as part of my recently adopted healthier lifestyle. The thing is, plain old water is boring when you drink it all day, everyday. My taste buds have begun to wonder: What did we ever do to deserve this monotony? It’s a fair question. Given my weight, which will remain undisclosed, I need to drink 100 ounces of water daily. Weekend brunches have been especially challenging, since I love mimosas so much. I have been searching for a healthier yet flavorful beverage to help me rise, shine, and sparkle. I have found the cure for my watered-down blues in Dasani Sparkling!

Dasani Sparkle at Target #NewWayToSparkle

I purchased the NEW Dasani Sparkling at my nearby Target. You can, too. Dasani is relaunching everyone’s favorite flavors along with two new flavors of Dasani Sparkling: Tropical Pineapple and Raspberry Lemonade! I must mention that there is a fantastic promotional intro Target price of 3 for $9 (and a 5% cartwheel offer) 4/10/16-5/1/16. It’s just another great reason that you can make any moment sparkle with the new sleek Dasani Sparkling cans.

Tropical Fauxmosa Recipe

Step 1: Gather all your ingredients, grab a cutting board and a knife.

Fauxmosa Ingredients #NewWayToSparkle

Step 2: Crush up some ice for your glass and add freshly squeezed juice topped with Dasani Sparkle.

Fauxmosa Recipe #NewWayToSparkle

Step 3: Garnish! Make that mint and lemon look as pretty as they are delicious.

Tropical Fauxmosa Garnish #NewWayToSparkle

Step 4: Grab a straw and drink!

Tropical Fauxmosa Recipe #NewWayToSparkle

Please enjoy my Tropical Fauxmosa Recipe anytime you want to celebrate the small and big moments in life. Cheers!

Fauxmosa Recipe #NewWayToSparkle
Recipe type: Mocktail
Prep time: 
Total time: 
Serves: 1
This guilt-free tropical fauxmosa recipe made with fresh fruit and Dasani Sparkling gives me a #NewWaytoSparkle.
  • Crushed Ice
  • 1 12 ounce can Tropical Pineapple Dasani Sparkle
  • 1 orange, freshly squeezed
  • 1 lime, freshly squeezed
  • 1 lemon slice for garnish
  • 1 mint sprig for garnish
  1. Fill ¼ of a highball glass with crushed ice
  2. Add freshly squeezed juice from the orange
  3. Add freshly squeezed juice from the lime
  4. Add Tropical Pineapple Dasani Sparkle
  5. Garnish with lemon and mint

Looking for Another #NewWayToSparkle?

Find more easy-to-make recipes that are refreshing and fun to make with Dasani Sparkling Water by visiting this link: NewWayToSparkle.

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Smitten with Salted Chocolate Chip Cookies Thu, 07 Apr 2016 15:42:40 +0000
Salted Chocolate Chip Cookie Recipe
My quest for the perfect chocolate chip cookie is nearing its end, but not before sneaking in this delicious recipe for salted chocolate chip cookies. ]]>
At long last my quest for the perfect chocolate chip cookie is coming to a close. Over the last year I have been preoccupied by getting a condo ready to sell, finding a community in which we wanted to live, buying and selling homes, and finally moving into a new house. Throughout all of this my baking time has been more limited than I would have liked, but one constant comfort has been chocolate chip cookies. My next post on the subject will be the final…

Smitten Kitchen Salted Chocolate Chip Cookies

Until then, I have one more great recipe to share. When I read this recipe on Smitten Kitchen, one of my favorite food blogs of all time, I was just about sure that I had already decided which of the recipes I had tested so far would be the winner. Then I saw her recipe for Salted Chocolate Chunk Cookies. Generally speaking, when Deb posts something on Smitten Kitchen, I am assured of liking it. This recipe looked to be no exception. One of the things that appealed to me most about this recipe was its no nonsense approach. You don’t brown butter or rest the dough or use special flour. That made this recipe an easy one to test right away.

I cannot say that I was disappointed in these cookies in any way. The cookies are thicker than some, with a crispy exterior, and a soft interior. The flavor is well balanced. In fact, I suspect one of the reasons for this is the sprinkling of sea salt on the tops of the cookie. When my brother first told me about a chocolate chip cookie with sea salt that he loved from his local farmer’s market, I was skeptical (and jealous that this baker had stolen my place in his cookie jar). I have to say, he was right to be in love. The salty-sweet combination makes this cookie special. Does it make it my new favorite? Check back soon!

Smitten with Salted Chocolate Chip Cookies
Recipe type: Cookies
The flavor of these soft cookies with a crunchy edge is set off perfectly with sea salt. You'll love the balance of flavor and how easily the cookies come together.
  • ½ cup unsalted butter, at room temperature
  • 2 tablespoons granulated sugar
  • 2 tablespoons turbinado sugar or Sugar in the Raw
  • ¾ cup plus 2 tablespoons packed dark brown sugar
  • 1 extra-large egg
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • ¾ teaspoon baking soda
  • Heaped ¼ teaspoon fine sea salt
  • 1¾ cups all-purpose flour
  • 1½ cups chocolate chips
  • Flaky sea salt
  1. Preheat oven to 360°F. Line baking sheets with parchment paper or silicon baking mats.
  2. Whisk together salt, baking soda, and flour.
  3. Cream the butter and sugars together until light and fluffy, about 5 minutes.
  4. Add egg and vanilla, beating until incorporated, and scraping down the bowl as needed.
  5. Beat dry ingredients on a low speed until just combined. The dough will be a bit crumbly.
  6. Mix in chocolate chips by hand.
  7. Scoop cookies into 1½ tablespoon balls, spacing them apart on the prepared baking sheet.
  8. Sprinkle each with a few flakes of sea salt.
  9. Bake for 10-12 minutes, until just golden on the outside
  10. Let rest on baking sheet for 5 minutes. Transfer to cooling rack.
If you don’t have turbinado sugar, you can substitute brown sugar instead.
The original recipe called for ½ pound semi- or bittersweet chocolate, cut into chunks, but I used Nestle chocolate chips because I wanted to keep the chocolate chips consistent in all the recipes I tested. I suspect that these would be even better with the chocolate chunks, however.
Adapted ever so slightly from Smitten Kitchen's Salted Chocolate Chip Cookies.

Salted Chocolate Chip Cookies and So Much More

See more ideas and amazing cookie recipes on my Pinterest Board all about the Chocolate Chip Cookie!

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