Spicy Garlic Prawn & Avocado Fettuccine

Spicy Garlic Prawn & Avocado Fettuccine

Hello Everyone! So once again, I’ve been feeling a little under the weather since towards the end of last week. I think it’s because I got rained (drizzled) on and just been feeling cold ever since. Started with an itchy throat, then a runny nose. I had a mild fever just two days ago but thank goodness I’m starting to feel a little better! Apologies in advance if this post contains a lot of typos or obvious grammatical errors – my brain is not fully functional at the moment.

But that aside, a new month can only mean one thing right? It’s time to experiment and play around with a new fruit on the blog! For the month of July, I’ll be featuring one of my favourite (well to be honest, almost everything is a favourite of mine *cheeky grin*) fruits of all time – Avocado! The last time I featured a month of avocado recipes was back in 2017 if not mistaken. You can click here to see what I got up to with avocados back then.

Avocados can be such an unpredictable b*tch at times – you can never win with them! If I knew I was going to cook/use the avocados on the same day I bought them, I would ask the lady who sells them if the ones I’ve picked are ripe and ready for that day. I still pick those that are slightly firm when gently squeezed. I never ever pick the soft ones! If I knew I was going to only use them the next day, she’d pick the ones that are a little less ripe for me – those that are still green, slightly browned. Here are some tips from Love One Today on how to check for the ripeness of avocados.

How to Differentiate the Ripeness of an Avocado

Besides being super unpredictable, avocados are known for several proven health benefits:

Avocados are Incredibly Nutritious

They contain a wide variety of nutrients, including 20 different vitamins and minerals. Here is a list of some of the most abundant nutrients found in a single 100-gram serving:

  • Vitamin K: 26% of the daily value
  • Folate: 20% of the daily value
  • Vitamin C: 17% of the daily value
  • Potassium: 14% of the daily value
  • Vitamin B5: 14% of the daily value
  • Vitamin B6: 13% of the daily value
  • Vitamin E: 10% of the daily value
  • Avocados also contain small amounts of magnesium, manganese, copper, iron, zinc, phosphorous, and vitamins A, B1 (thiamine), B2 (riboflavin), and B3 (niacin).
  • Although avocados contain carbs, 78% of those are fibre. So basically only 22% are actually carbs, making this a low-carb friendly plant food.
  • Avocados do not contain any cholesterol or sodium and are low in saturated fat.

Fat Content in Avocados may help you Absorb Nutrients from Plant Foods

When it comes to nutrients, your intake is not the only thing that matters. What’s also important is that you need to be able to absorb these nutrients into your body, where they can be used. Some nutrients are fat-soluble, meaning that they need to be combined with fat in order to be utilised.

So, not only are avocados highly nutritious, they can dramatically increase the nutrient value of other plant foods that you eat. This is all the more a very good reason to always include a healthy fat source, such as the avocado (or avocado oil), when you eat your veggies. Without it, a lot of the beneficial plant nutrients will go to waste.

Avocados are Loaded with Powerful Antioxidants that can Protect your Eyes

Not only do avocados increase antioxidant absorption from other foods, they are also high in antioxidants themselves, two of which, namely carotenoids lutein and zeaxanthin, as incredibly important for our long term eye health.

Spicy Garlic Prawn & Avocado Fettuccine

Eating Avocados may help you Lose Weight

Avocados are weight-loss friendly. They keep you full longer and may help you naturally eat fewer calories, making it easier for you to stick to healthy eating habits. As stated before, avocados are also high in fibre and very low in carbs, two attributes that should help promote healthy weight loss – if considering the context of a healthy, real-food-based diet.

And lastly for the #avocadohaters *cheeky grin*

Avocados are Delicious and Easy to Incorporate into your Diet!

Not only are they beneficial to our health, they’re also super delicious and go with many types of food. They have a creamy, rich, and fatty texture. You can easily add them to salads or pasta, spread them on toast, use as a dip for chips, or simply scoop them out with a spoon and eat them plain!

If you want to read up more on the many health benefits that avocados have to offer, you can head on over to Healthline.

But before you head on over to the recipe below, please check out the original recipe for Shrimp & Avocado Pasta by Kevin & Amanda.

Spicy Garlic Prawn & Avocado Fettuccine Ingredients

PREP TIME 10 MINS | COOKING TIME 10-12 MINS | SERVES 4

INGREDIENTS

For the avocado and Parmesan ‘sauce’

  • 1 medium-sized ripe avocado
  • 2 tbsp extra-virgin olive oil
  • 2 tbsp grated Parmesan cheese
  • 1 tbsp freshly squeezed lemon juice
  • Sea salt and freshly ground black pepper, to taste

For the spicy garlic prawns

  • 250g large tiger prawns, heads removed, deshelled, and deveined*
  • 30g unsalted butter
  • 5 garlic cloves, minced
  • 2 stalks scallions, chopped
  • 1 tbsp extra-virgin olive oil
  • 1 tsp ground chilli, or more if you want it spicier
  • Sea salt and freshly ground black pepper, to taste
  • 250g fettuccine pasta, uncooked**
  • 1/4 cup sun-dried tomatoes, sliced
  • 1 small ripe avocado, diced
  • Parmesan cheese, for serving (optional)

*A quarter kilo gave us 4 large tiger prawns, plus 1 extra because the lady who sells them was nice enough to add one in when my Mom asked for it *cheeky grin*. Save the heads and shells to use as a base for soups, broths, or sauces. If not using immediately, place in a zip-lock bag and pop it into the freezer. Keeps frozen for up to 3 months.

**Or you can use any type of pasta – whatever you have readily available in your pantry!

METHOD

  1. Avocado ‘Sauce’: Cut the medium-sized avocado in half, lengthwise. Remove the pit and discard – or if you have a green thumb, you’ll know what to do with it. Using a spoon, scoop out the flesh from both halves of the avocado from its skin, and place in a medium-sized mixing bowl.
  2. Add the Parmesan cheese, lemon juice, and olive oil. Smash and mix together until well combined. Season with sea salt and freshly ground black pepper, to taste. Set aside.
  3. Meanwhile, bring a large pot of water with a teaspoon of sea salt to a boil. Add the fettuccine pasta and cook according to package directions until al dente.

Tip: In cases like these, I like to undercook my pasta by 2 to 3 minutes. The reason being is that I will then add the cooked pasta to the frying pan of garlic prawns, which will continue to cook the pasta. If I had pushed it to the max when boiling, I’ll end up with super soft pasta.

  1. Spicy Garlic Prawns: While the pasta is cooking away, add the butter and olive oil to a medium-sized frying pan over medium heat. Add the minced garlic and sauté for about 30 seconds until golden brown and fragrant.
  2. Add the prawns and cook until they turn pink, about 2 minutes per side, then add the chopped scallions and ground chilli. Mix to combine.
  3. Quickly add the pasta from the pot of boiling water, to the garlic prawns, followed by the avocado sauce. Give it a good mix and then throw in the sliced sun-dried tomatoes.
  4. Turn the heat off and let it cook for a further minute before plating up.
  5. Sprinkle more Parmesan cheese on top and garnish with the diced avocados. Serve hot and enjoy!

Spicy Garlic Prawn & Avocado Fettuccine

Tip: The nutrients in avocado can oxidise and turn brown soon after cutting into it and exposing its flesh. The trick to slowing down the oxidation process and preventing them from browning quickly is to add a squeeze of lemon or lime juice.

Now, this may not be one of the prettiest dishes I’ve plated up for the year – I don’t know, I just don’t like how the colour of the diced avocados blended in with the colour of the pasta. The green didn’t quite pop out as much as I would’ve liked it to. Besides the prawns, everything else looked a bit monotonous in my opinion. Nonetheless, despite its look, it was a great tasting dish! I mean, you honestly can’t go wrong with the classic taste of garlicky and lemony prawns can you? What more when it’s paired with pasta and a creamy avocado and parmesan sauce? And that added kick of spice? BOOM!

Spicy Garlic Prawn & Avocado Fettuccine

BON APPÉTIT

– Ally xx

myTaste.com

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Quinoa Minestone Soup with Kale Pesto

Quinoa Minestone Soup with Kale Pesto

Hello Everyone! Week 2 of cooking with quinoa is here and I’ve got a classic recipe with a twist. For those of you who don’t know, minestrone soup is a thick soup of Italian origin made with vegetables that range from, but are not limited to, beans, onions, celery, carrots, and tomatoes. Often, rice or pasta is added to the soup to bulk it up with some carbs. There is no set recipe for minestrone, since it is usually made out of whatever vegetables are in season. It can be vegetarian, contain meat, or contain a meat-based broth.

I’ve made this soup a couple of times before in the past, and is featured in the Mediterranean section of my blog – but today, I’m going to add a little twist to a traditional minestrone soup. I’m switching out the pasta that I would normally add to my soup, with quinoa. Using quinoa in place of pasta adds extra protein and makes this soup gluten free! In addition to using quinoa for this soup, I’m topping it off with some kale pesto as well to give the dish a touch of freshness – and of course, if you have any extra leftover, you can totally whip up another dish just by mixing it through some freshly cooked pasta! Top it of with some grilled chicken or seared tiger prawns for a complete lunch or dinner. The original recipe for this dish can be found over on Taste Australia.

Quinoa Minestone Soup with Kale Pesto Ingredients

PREP TIME 10 MINS | COOKING TIME 20 MINS | SERVES 4

INGREDIENTS

For the soup

  • 1 can (400g) cannellini beans, drained and rinsed
  • 1 can (410g) Italian chopped tomatoes
  • 150g bacon, diced
  • 4 cups chicken stock
  • 1/3 cup tri-coloured quinoa, rinsed
  • 3-4 garlic cloves, minced
  • 1 celery stick, sliced
  • 1 dried bay leaf
  • 1 large brown onion, coarsely chopped
  • 1 medium-sized carrot, peeled and cut into small chunks
  • 1 medium-sized zucchini, cut into small chunks

For the kale pesto

  • 2 & 1/2 cups kale leaves, shredded
  • 1/4 cup grated parmesan
  • 1 small garlic clove, halved
  • 1 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
  • 1 tbsp lemon juice
  • 1 tbsp water

METHOD

  1. For the Soup: Heat the extra virgin olive oil in a large pot over medium-low heat. Add the bacon bits and cook, stirring, for 3-4 minutes or until browned. Remove from the pot and set aside.
  2. Turn the heat up to high and then add in the garlic. Sauté until golden brown and fragrant, about a minute or so. Then add in the onions and cooking, stirring, until soft, about 2 minutes.
  3. Add in the carrot and celery, together with the bay leaf, and cook, covered, stirring occasionally, for about 4 minutes or until soft.
  4. Next, add in the chicken stock and canned chopped tomatoes to the pot. Bring to the boil.
  5. Once boiling, reduce the heat down to medium-low and then stir in the quinoa. Simmer, stirring occasionally, for 5 minutes.
  6. Stir in zucchini. Cook, stirring occasionally, for 5 minutes, and then add in the cannellini beans. Cook, stirring occasionally, for 2 minutes or until the quinoa and zucchini are tender. Season with a touch of ground salt and pepper.
  7. For the Kale Pesto: Add the kale leaves, parmesan cheese, and garlic into a food processor and process until finely chopped. Combine the juice, oil, and water in a jug, and slowly stream the juice mixture into the kale mixture until well combined. Season.
  8. Divide soup among four equal bowls and top with the kale pesto and extra parmesan if you wish.
  9. Serve and enjoy!

Quinoa Minestone Soup with Kale Pesto

Quinoa Minestone Soup with Kale Pesto

BON APPÉTIT

– Ally xx

myTaste.com

Risoni al Ratatouille

Risoni al Ratatouille

Risoni al Ratatouille

Hello Everyone! Today is the last day of Pasta Month; sad to be ending as I actually have a whole lot more pasta dishes that I want to try out, but also happy to move onto a new theme for next month! Just a heads up though – the likelihood of a theme not happening is quite possible. I did have a theme in mind, and I’ve already prepared and cooked two dishes for it in advanced, the only problem is getting two more made for next month’s theme is quite unlikely. I say this because I am heading off to the Philippines on Saturday for about a month! Because of that, I probably won’t have time to cook. I also will not be sure if I will have Internet connection during my stay there so the likelihood of me uploading content for the month of July might not happen as well. So I guess I’ll just see how it goes – if posting on my blog is a problem, then you can follow me over on Instagram @amcarmenskitchen to follow my food journey while I am in the Philippines – I’ll make sure to keep that up to speed 🙂

Anyway, so okay, the dish is not quite a Ratatouille (I just thought naming it for this post would make it sounds fancier than it looks, hehe) – more like it’s inspired by some of the vegetables used to make a ratatouille *cheeky grin* but nonetheless, it still tastes pretty good for something that I just “whipped up” with the ingredients lying in the fridge and the pantry. You can bulk this dish up by adding meat or seafood if you wish, but I decided to keep this dish vegetarian.

Risoni al Ratatouille Ingredients

PREP TIME 10 MINS | COOKING TIME 15 MINS | SERVES 6

INGREDIENTS

  • 500g risoni, or other shaped pasta
  • 3-4 garlic cloves, minced
  • 2-3 red bird’s eye chilies, sliced
  • 2 medium-szied Lebanese eggplants, sliced into 1-inch thick chunks and then quartered
  • 1 medium-sized zucchini, sliced into 1-inch thick chunks and then quartered
  • 1 onion, diced
  • 1 punnet (125g) cherry tomato medley, sliced
  • 1/2 bunch asparagus, woody ends snapped off and cut into thirds
  • 1 tbsp baby capers, washed and drained
  • Freshly squeezed lemon juice from 1 lemon
  • Ground sea salt and black pepper, to taste
  • Handful of grated parmesan cheese
  • Olive oil

METHOD

  1. Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil. Once boiling, add in the risoni pasta and cook according to packet instructions or until al dente (mine was about 11 minutes).
  2. While your pasta is cooking away, heat some olive oil in a large frying pan. Sauté the garlic and chilies until golden brown and fragrant, about a minute, and then add in the onions, cooking until soft for another minute or two.
  3. Add in the asparagus, together with the zucchini and eggplant, cooking until soft for about 6-7 minutes. Season with a bit of ground salt and black pepper. Add in the cherry tomatoes and leave to cook for a further 4-5 minutes. Lastly, add in the capers and then turn the heat off.
  4. Once the risoni is done, drain, and then return to the pot. Add in the stir-fried veggies to the pot with the risoni and then give it a good mix.
  5. Divide the risoni equally into 6 portions and then top with a generous handful of  grate parmesan cheese and some ground black pepper. Serve immediately and enjoy!

Risoni al Ratatouille

BON APPÉTIT

– Ally xx

myTaste.com

Kangaroo Bolognese

Kangaroo Bolognese

Hello Everyone! So today’s recipe was inspired by a meal that I had while travelling the outback a few weeks ago. It was our first night of the tour and our tour guide Dan was showing us the way to Ewing’s Lookout to have champagne, wine, and crackers while watching the sun set over Ayers Rock and Kata Tjuta. I remember him saying that while we were enjoying the sunset, he’ll be back at the campsite and have “tea” ready for us. Then someone called out “what about dinner?” Dan didn’t hear her though because he was getting out of the 4WD as she said it. I then remember a couple of guys discussing about how they came to book the tour, and I remember him specifically saying “it said that dinner would be provided”. I then chimed in and told them that when Dan said “tea” he meant dinner, to which he responded “that’s so weird, in England tea is just tea, like would you like a cup of tea. But here it’s would you like a cup of dinner?” He was hilarious. But nonetheless, I assured the others that dinner will be served. “Tea” is apparently an Aussie slang for a light late afternoon meal or main meal in the evening.

Kangaroo Bolognese Ingredients

Anyway, tea aside, Dan made Kangaroo Bolognese for dinner that night. I’ve ever only had kangaroo once before during my first year in Sydney. It was my 20th birthday party and one of my friends brought kangaroo patties to throw on the barbie. I’ll be honest and say that I cringed a little bit when I found out that he was cooking kangaroo. Even though I was reluctant to, he made me try a bit. I don’t even remember  what it tasted like; I just knew that I neither loved nor hated it. But ever since then until now, it never crossed my mind to actually purchase kangaroo and consume it. I’ll admit that I was even reluctant to eat it while camping – but i had no choice because I didn’t want to starve during the night and wait for breakfast. After giving kangaroo a second chance, I still had the same feelings of neither loving it nor hating it, but I can safely say that I was leaning more towards liking it.

After returning from the trip, I decided that I would give Kangaroo Bolognese a go and last week Monday was the day I tried out the recipe for myself. I basically just cooked it the way I would normally cook a bolognese with minced beef. It turned out to be pretty good! But I think I got sick of eating it after the 3rd day – I made enough to last me 4 meals, and to those who know me, I actually cannot eat the same meal more than twice in a row otherwise I’d get sick and tired of eating it. I still have half a kilo left in my freezer and I am unsure what to make next. I immediately thought of kangaroo lasagna, but I’ve had various suggestions such as kangaroo pie, Aussie kangaroo burger and even a Roorito (kangaroo burrito). I might give the last one a go just because I like the name of it!

Kangaroo Bolognese Ingredients

PREP TIME 10 MINS | COOKING TIME 30 MINS | SERVES 4

INGREDIENTS

  • 500g kangaroo mince
  • 250g linguine (or any other pasta)
  • 1 can (400g) Italian diced tomatoes
  • 1 sachet (2 tbsp) tomato paste
  • 4-5 dried bay leaves
  • 3 baby carrots, cut into small chunks
  • 3 celery sticks, sliced
  • 3 garlic cloves, crushed then minced
  • 1 medium-sized brown onion, diced
  • 1 red birds-eye chilli, sliced (optional for that added kick of spice)
  • 1 cube vegetable stock dissolved in 1 cup boiling water
  • 2 tsp dried oregano
  • Grated parmesan cheese
  • Ground sea salt and black pepper to taste
  • Parsley

METHOD

  1. Heat about a tablespoon of oil in a large frying pan over medium-high. Sauté the garlic until golden and fragrant, then add the chillies and onions. Sauté until the onions are soft and then add in the kangaroo mince. Season with salt, pepper, and oregano. Cook, stirring, until the meat is no longer pink (about 5-7 minutes).
  2. Add the dried bay leaves, diced tomatoes, tomato paste, and vegetable stock. Give it a good mix and then turn the heat down to low, cover and let it simmer for about 15 minutes to allow the flavours to blend. Finally, add in the carrots and celery, and cook for a further 8-10 minutes.
  3. Meanwhile, cook the linguine according to packet instructions.
  4. Remove the sauce from the heat and serve over the hot pasta. Top with a handful of grated parmesan cheese and fresh parsley.

Kangaroo Bolognese

Fun fact: Australia is the only nation to eat its Coat of Arms – not quite!

I was told that Australia is the only nation to eat kangaroos and emus, both of which are national symbols on the Australian Coat of Arms. After doing some research, it’s not quite true and turns out that there are 20 (or maybe even more) other nations that eat their national symbol. Kangaroo has been historically a staple source of protein for indigenous Australians. Kangaroo meat is high in protein, low in fat (about 2%), and has been attributed with a wide range of health benefits.

BON APPÉTIT

– Ally xx

myTaste.com

Chorizo & Leek Orecchiette

Chorizo & Leek Orecchiette

Hello Everyone! Here is another recipe from my ‘1000 Italian Recipes’ cookbook. I am actually surprised at the fact that most of the featured recipes in this cookbook require no more than 8 ingredients to create such a lip-smacking dish – which is a good thing because it means less preparation, easy, quick, and simple, and obviously less expenses. You know what they say, less is definitely more.

Orecchiette is basically a type of pasta shaped roughly like small ears, hence the name (orecchio, ear, OR orecchiette, little ears). They are slightly domed with their centres are thinner than their rims. This particular shape gives them an interestingly variable texture; soft in the middle and somewhat more chewy on the outside.

Chorizo & Leek Orecchiette Ingredients

PREP TIME 5 MINS | COOKING TIME 10 MINS SERVES 4

INGREDIENTS

  • 2 cups orecchiette pasta (or other shaped pasta)
  • 2 chorizo sausages, sliced
  • 1 leek, sliced thinly
  • 1/2 red onion, finely chopped
  • 1 clove garlic, finely chopped
  • 1 tbsp rosemary leaves, finely chopped
  • 2 tbsp garlic-infused extra virgin olive oil
  • Fresh red chillies, optional
  • Shaved parmesan cheese

METHOD

  1. Cook the pasta in boiling, salted water according to the packet instructions. Drain and set aside reserving about 2-3 tbsp of the cooking water.
  2. Meanwhile, heat the oil over high heat in a medium-sized pan and fry the chorizo sausages until golden. Remove from the pan and set aside.
  3. Sweat the garlic and onions without colouring. Then add the rosemary leaves and leeks. Reduce the heat and cook until soft, about 3-5 minutes.
  4. Return the chorizo sausages to the pan and add the reserved cooking water. Turn the heat off and toss together with the pasta. Season with a touch of pepper and fresh chillies if desired, and shaved parmesan cheese.

Chorizo & Leek Orecchiette

BON APPÉTIT

– Ally xx

myTaste.com

Neapolitan Casareccia Salad

Neapolitan Casareccia Salad

Hello Everyone! It’s been a whole week since I last uploaded, sorry for that! I haven’t been cooking anything new the past week – just things I’ve already covered in this blog, or quick, easy meals because I didn’t feel like cooking. I’ve also been eating out a bit, catching up with both old and new friends over the holidays, and also saying farewell to my other Dutch housemate Sam. It’s getting lonely in the kitchen now without you! No one to creep up on me (be it in the kitchen or bathroom) and unintentionally spook me, no one to fight with over for our favourite shower room, no one talk to while cooking, and no one to eat with. No one to share my desserts with! And most importantly, no one will ever understand me when I say, “you’ve never heard of Medina?!” Please come back! Please don’t leave!

Anyway, today I got back into my cooking and decided to pull out a recipe from a cookbook that I bought months ago. A little story first about this cookbook. It was a public holiday I think (it was that long ago that I cannot remember), that I decided to go to a place called Basement Books at Railway Square – well, it was more that I recommended my friends to go there after a trip to Dymocks. I told them that books were generally much cheaper there. So while they were looking at novels, I was of course looking through the cookbook section. I found this cookbook, ‘1000 Italian Recipes’ split into three categories, starters and sides, mains, and dessert. Publisher’s price was at $16.99, and Basement price was at $9.99. I thought, what a bargain! Then I saw the exact cookbook behind it on the shelf and it said $12.99. Confused, I asked the sales lady what the actual price was, and she told me she would check at the counter. “It’s actually $6.99!” she said, and once again I thought, what a greater bargain! 1000 recipes for only $6.99!

So, why is it that I’ve only come around to try out a recipe from this book? Well, I don’t exactly know why. I’ve gone through the book numerous times and even bookmarked my favourites. I guess the main reason why I haven’t cooked from it yet was that I was probably not feeling very inspired, even though the recipes were fairly simple. I used to cook pasta at least once a week since I started cooking. No-cream Bacon Carbonara was my go-to dish whenever I wanted something quick and simple, but even so, I’ve not made that dish for a while because it made me feel sick and nauseous after a while – and I’m not quite sure if it’s the raw egg in it or the heap load of cheese. Anyway, I should get onto the recipe and stop blabbering about!

First off, casareccia is basically pappardelle pasta, rolled vertically and twisted into half, and works well with chunky sauces. The original recipe is meat-free and doesn’t call for the addition of chilli flakes. But you can get creative and bulk it up with bacon, ham, salami, etc. I kept it vegetarian, until I realised I had a pack of Hungarian salami in the fridge. Next time!

Neapolitan Casareccia Salad Ingredients

PREP TIME 10 MINS | COOKING TIME 1 HOUR SERVES 4

INGREDIENTS

  • 2 cups casareccia pasta (or other shaped pasta)
  • 1 punnet (200g) cherry tomatoes, halved
  • 75g black olives, pitted and chopped
  • 3 tbsp baby capers, drained
  • 2 tbsp garlic-infused extra virgin olive oil
  • 1 tbsp fresh basil leaves
  • Dash of dried chilli flakes
  • Shaved parmesan cheese

METHOD

  1. In a small pan, heat up the olive oil. Once heated through, add to a large stainless steel bowl together with the tomatoes, olives, and capers, and chilli flakes. Toss and then set aside to macerate (to soften or become softened by soaking in a liquid). I like to leave it to macerate for at least 5 hours for the flavours to further soak into the olive oil, but 1 hour should do the trick.
  2. Cook the pasta in boiling, salted water according to the packet instructions. Drain and add to the macerated vegetables, with the basil leaves. Toss to combine and add more oil and seasoning if necessary.
  3. Garnish with basil leaves and shaved parmesan cheese. Serve warm.

Neapolitan Casareccia Salad

BON APPÉTIT

– Ally xx

myTaste.com