11/26/10

Hanging out watching football today? Bacon Wrapped Jalapeno Poppers

I dearly love jalapeno poppers, but I like the breaded kind stuffed with cream cheese. The stuffed and breaded style are a pain to make and also quite messy so admittedly I'd rather purchase them in the frozen food sections than make those by hand. I also love bacon - so these unbreaded jalapeno poppers are a yummy appetizer when I want to make something quick and easy that is almost-but-not-quite as awesome as the time-intensive breaded version! Ha.

Enjoy...

Bacon Wrapped Jalapeno Poppers

20 jalapeno peppers, halved and seeded
1-2 boxes cream cheese, softened
1-2 packages premium bacon, cut into halves

Make sure jalapenos are halved and seeded. May need to wear rubber gloves when doing this to prevent the oil soaking into your fingertips and burning your eyes or lips when you accidentally touch them later!

Stuff each half with cream cheese and wrap with a half piece of bacon. Cook in pre-heated oven at 350 degrees until bacon in done. I like to broil them under the broiler for about 3 minutes to crisp the bacon.

You can adjust this recipe to make as many or as little as you need.
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11/24/10

Preping for Thanksgiving! Make Ahead Mashed Potatoes!


I worked my tail off to be able to work a half day and spend the afternoon at home trying to prep some of the things to prepare for tomorrow. This will allow me to take part in some of the movies and games with my family instead of being stuck in the kitchen the whole time.

I just finished the Make Ahead Mashed Potatoes and figured I might as well hop online and post as I go to help others who are also trying to get a few things done today!

I don't actually use a recipe for the Make Ahead Potatoes because the amounts are going to change based on your tastes and the size of the potatoes. When I say 'medium' or 'large' potato - it's all relative. So start with my 'recipe' and then add a little more or less depending on what you think they look and taste like. Don't worry! Following the basic's to start will ensure you can't screw these up!

Another plus with this recipe that uses no milk... you can freeze them or refrigerate them and they won't get grainy! Just thaw and bake as usual.

Make Ahead Mashed Potatoes
amounts are approximate

8-10 medium to large potatoes (yukon gold are yummy but reds are whiter!)
1 package (8 oz.) cream cheese
1 1/2 - 2 cups sour cream
1 stick butter
salt and pepper
heavy cream or half and half if you like (not needed)


Peel and cook the potatoes to fork tender by boiling. Drain briefly and put in large metal bowl to mash. Mash or mix in the cream cheese, butter and sour cream. Start with 1 1/2 cups sour cream and 1/2 stick butter - mix with heavy electric mixer or mash, but do not use a food processor or you'll end up with a gummy mess. Add the rest of the butter and up to another cup of sour cream based on how rich and yummy you want your potatoes. Add the salt and pepper to taste. Serve right away or refrigerate or freeze. Bake/heat as usual. These have never gotten grainy on me like potatoes from my childhood when my Mom would make mashed potatoes with just milk and butter. These are always creamy and delicious!
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Pumpkin Pie made with Apple Butter

I think it may be a Midwestern thing... coupled with an older generation thing. Homemade Apple Butter. There really is only one person I personally know who makes it anymore... and that is my 82 year old father-in-law. The thick, brown, sweet spread may taste good, but I'm not a fan of fruity spreads in general, I don't eat breakfast so I never will use it smeared on toast, and even though I've offered and even made peanut butter sandwiches out of it in the past, my kids don't care for it either. I think because it is a dark, gritty brown spread when a nice brilliant red berry or grape jam is more appetizing looking.

But wait! I have an answer!! While looking through some old fashioned recipes from the heartland of America I spied a pumpkin pie that uses apple butter! A PERFECT blend of flavors and tastes, the apple makes it oh-so moist... I knew it was a great marriage of flavors baked in a pie.

Just in time for Thanksgiving... I can make our traditional pumpkin pie AND use up the gift of delicious apple butter we were given!

Apple Butter Pumpkin Pie

1 unbaked 9 inch pie shell
1 cup apple butter
1 cup pumpkin
½ cup brown sugar, firmly packed
½ teaspoon salt
¾ teaspoon nutmeg
¾ teaspoon cinnamon
1/8 teaspoon ginger
3 eggs, slightly beaten
¾ cup evaporated milk

Combine tart apple butter, pumpkin, sugar, salt and spices. Add egg. Mix well, add milk gradually. Mix well. Pour into pie shell and bake in hot oven at 250° about 40 minutes.
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11/22/10

Traditional Cupcakes... Accomplished!



With my busy schedule, working right up to Thanksgiving Day, I wanted to do a few things ahead of time if I could. One of those was the Pumpkin Cheesecake I made (and posted) yesterday. Today I finished our traditional Thanksgiving Cupcakes.

If you've been checking into the American Housewife site in November of the past 5 years you may have already caught a photo or two of previous cupcakes. Here is a quick link to the 2006 , (2004 photo included) - and my 2009 cupcakes just to show you how I make tiny differences each year based on the cookie I find or whether I use caramel or chocolate chips for the 'gravy'.

You can also click on either of those links for ingredients and instructions on making your own little turkey dinners.

This year's gravy was chocolate chips
and the cookie was a mango tartlett
- chosen for the very pretty
'plate edge' it could provide.


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Pumpkin Cheesecake


Pumpkin Cheesecake. With my crazy schedule I knew I had to make something this weekend to start preparing for Thanksgiving this week and it had to be a food item that could be made a few days in advance. No problem! My Pumpkin Cheesecake! Cheesecakes need to be refrigerated or froze ahead of time in order to taste good! (Don't serve a cheesecake the day you make it... let it chill at least 24 hours if you can for better texture and flavor.)

Straight from the oven - the crack lays down
and disappears as it cools.
I could have baked it in a pan of water to prevent the crack
but it wasn't that important to me this time.




Although I've made this dessert for a few years now, this is a recipe that didn't actually exist until I finally wrote it down last night. I told my oldest daughter, who was in the kitchen when I made it, that I had better write it down and put it in the holiday recipe book for her and her sister so that if anything happened to me, they would have it!

Every year, I take 3 recipes, lay them out on the counter and make 'my' cheesecake by picking and choosing pieces from each. This would make it rather difficult for my daughter's to copy when they start making their own Thanksgiving dinners!

As usual however, I play with my food.

I make it a little different each time based on what I have.

Last year the crust had some crushed gingersnap cookies and Nilla wafer crumbs added.

The year before the crust had finely chopped almonds.

This year I only had 4 1/2 packages of cream cheese in the house so I added 1 cup sour cream to the mixture. Play with your food.


Pumpkin Cheesecake

Crust: 2 cups graham crumbs (or sometimes use ginger snap crumbs, Nilla wafers, etc.)
2 T sugar (not needed if you use cookie crumbs but needed if you use graham)
1 stick butter (I usually cut off the end so it's about 6-7 tablespoons just to cut fat)

Melt butter, add to crumbs. Press into a 9" Springform pan. Bake at 400 for 5-8 minutes. Remove and lower the oven temperature to 325 degrees.

Cheesecake: 5 - 8 oz. packages cream cheese (I use 1/3 fat or regular)
1 c sugar (I've used Splenda some years or a mixture of both)
1/2 c sour cream (not necessary if you don't have it)
1/4 c brown sugar (not necessary but I add it sometimes for flavor)
4 eggs
2 t vanilla
dash salt
1 t cinnamon
1/2 t ginger and 1/2 t nutmeg
15 oz. pure pumpkin

Mix all smooth. Pour on crust. At this point you can wrap the pan securely in foil and place it into a large baking pan with sides that you have filled with 2 inches of water to bake. This helps it bake slowly and evenly and reduce or eliminate a crack in the cheesecake. However usually the cracks lay down flat after the cake cools and is refrigerated, and if you are adding a topping, it won't matter at all. Totally up to you. This year I did not use a water bath bake, last year I did.

Bake for about 1 1/2 hours at 325 until the center is set. Cool. Refrigerate or freeze for future use.
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11/21/10

Green Beans with Mushrooms

Oh what I wouldn't give to have this week off from work! With Thanksgiving this week and my 'baby' home from college and my other two kids here and all of them excited about the foods I traditionally make for Thanksgiving, they've been asking for the past week if I'm going to be sure to make 'this' or 'that' and I can only feel frustration that my job hours keep me away from the home when my heart is here.

Today I made the cupcakes for the 'mini Thanksgiving Meal' cupcakes I do each year and I got the pumpkin cheesecake prepared, cooled and now in the freezer. The turkey is in the refrigerator where I hope it thaws a bit before I take it out to thaw Wednesday afternoon for good.

Tiny steps.

This week I saw a recipe from Whole Foods for a green bean dish that was more healthy than the traditional green bean casserole. While my family loves the traditional version, I thought it might be a good idea to post this one here for my readers who are looking for a healthier alternative to the recipe using cream soup and fried onions on top.


1 3/4 lbs. green beans, trimmed
2 T olive oil
2 large shallots, thinly sliced (1/2 cup)
3/4 c chicken stock or broth
2 t cornstarch
8 oz. mushrooms, sliced
1/3 c 2% Greek yogurt
salt and pepper

Bring a large pot of water to a boil. Blanch beans until tender, about 6 minutes. Drain. Heat 1 T oil in a large nonstick skillet over medium heat. Cook shallots, stirring occasionally, until tender and just starting to brown, 3 to 4 minutes. Transfer shallots to a small bowl, and wipe skillet clean with a paper towel.

Whisk together stock and cornstarch. Heat remaining tablespoon oil in skillet over high heat. Cook mushrooms, stirring occasionally, until golden brown, about 6 minutes. Reduce heat to low; add shallots. Whisk in stock mixture. Cook until thick, about 3 minutes more. Remove from heat. Stir in yogurt and 1/2 teaspoon salt; season with pepper. Toss in beans. Serve warm.
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11/19/10

Pizza (Feta Cheese, Black Olives and Onions)

Is it pizza night in your house? Our pizza night is Saturday - when the kids, our friends and our kids' friends all know that 2 or 3 pizzas will be ready at 6:30 pm and everyone is welcome.

I like to keep mini pizza crusts on hand - premade - so that my 14 year old daughter can fix one after school. I've found that in a pinch I've made myself an awesome 'single supper' out of these as well when everyone was on different schedules that night and I was craving pizza.

One of my all time favorites is a recipe I've posted before - it's a mixture of feta cheese, mayonnaise, garlic, onions, black olives with a little oregano and a few other ingredients (photo below);



A couple months ago I found this recipe - which is very similar yet different. It calls for many more onions and much more garlic than my recipe does... and has no mayonnaise to hold it together. An interesting recipe that I plan to try so I'm posting it here to add to my collection. I may have to make it tomorrow night for our Saturday Night Pizza Night!

Greek Style Pizza
(not my usual but an interesting variation)

Prepare basic pizza dough. Preheat oven to 450 degrees.

1/4 c garlic, chopped
1 c ripe black olives, chopped
2 large sweet Spanish onions
1 small Bermuda onion
2 cups Feta cheese
2 T peanut oil
4 t olive oil

Saute onion and garlic in peanut oil until lightly brown. Sprinkle top of dough with virgin oil, put layer of onion and garlic on, cover with Feta cheese and ripe olives. Bake 15 to 18 minutes. Cheese should be half melted and crust light brown.
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11/16/10

Deviled Eggs on Triangle Toasts

It's funny that tonight while looking through my recipes for one to post I came across one I don't remember copying down in my files. I know why I chose it - my husband and son are huge deviled egg fanatics - but it's funny to me that I remember almost every recipe I've added to my collection but I don't recall this one or where it came from.

Never the less it's perfect timing for a nice breakfast or brunch if you have guests visiting for the Thanksgiving holiday next week. I smile at the addition of paprika. I remember Oprah had the end of one of her shows dedicated to Deviled Eggs and she said she always thought dusting them with Paprika was a black-thang. It was after her comment that she found out that white, blacks, Latino's, Asians... we all dust our deviled eggs with paprika. She found it so silly and funny that she didn't know this, that she invited all these women to make deviled eggs and bring them to her show. They then came out from doorways and down aisles, all walking up to the stage with their homemade, paprika dusted deviled eggs.

Funny, the things I remember from the days when I still watched television!


Deviled Eggs on Triangle Toasts

1 dozen large eggs
2 T white vinegar
1/2 lb. sliced white sandwich bread
1 c mayonnaise
1 T yellow mustard
salt and freshly ground pepper
Paprika, for dusting


In a large saucepan, cover the eggs with water, add the vinegar and bring to a rapid boil. Cover the saucepan and remove it from the heat; let stand for 15 minutes. Drain the eggs and cool them under cold running water, shaking the pan vigorously to crack the shells. Let the eggs cool in the water.

Meanwhile, quarter the bread slices on the diagonal and arrange them in a single layer on a large cookie sheet. Toast the bread in a 450 degree oven for about 6 minutes, turning once, until barely browned.

Shell the eggs and halve them lengthwise. Coarsely chop half of the egg whites and transfer them to a large bowl. Add the remaining whites and all of the yolks to a food processor along with the mayonnaise and mustard and process until smooth. Scrape the mixture into the bowl and blend with the chopped egg whites. Season with salt and pepper.

Top the toast points with the egg spread and dust lightly with paprika. Arrange the toasts on a platter and serve. Alternatively, serve the egg spread in a bowl with the toast points alongside.
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11/14/10

Pretzels stuffed with chocolate and M&M's - Addicting!

This is a fun and easy recipe that is great to make with young children. While you place round pretzels on a foil or parchment lined paper, children unwrap the Hershey's kisses. I make these for various holidays changing the color of M&M's used. I also used Reese's Pieces this time as well. Play with the recipe to use Hershey's chocolate kisses or caramel, regular m&m's or peanut, and even other candies.


M&M Pretzels

O shaped pretzels with equal number of
Hershey's kisses
m&m candies

Cover a baking sheet with foil or parchment. Lay O shaped pretzels down. Preheat the oven to about 300 degrees (doesn't have to be precise). Unwrap chocolates and place one kiss in the center of each pretzel. Place in a warm oven and heat for about 4-8 minutes (depending on how warm the oven is). All you are doing is heating the chocolate. The kisses hold their shape but will be shiny. Remove and press one m&m candy down into the center of the chocolate. If it's still too hard to squish, return to the oven for a couple more minutes and then press the candy down gently when they are ready.

Let cool.

Eat. Warning - they go fast!!

I served these last weekend when we had extended family visit and they were gone within 20 minutes!

*edited to add* The "O" shaped pretzels are usually available in most grocery stores and Super Walmart, etc. around the holidays. I start to see them in August and they are around until January or February. Some stores carry them year round but only a few. However, during the holidays they are easier to find. I've also used 'regular' pretzels and mini pretzels in the past when I made these for Fourth of July and couldn't find the circles. Improvise! Play with your food! *grin*
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11/13/10

Mmmm... Coconut Cream Pie! (No Crust!)

I can't say or type the words 'coconut cream pie' without thinking about Gilligan and Mary Ann and the island they were stuck on for years in the 1970's. But this post isn't about old television shows from my childhood... it's about a delicious and easy pie I plan to make this Thanksgiving! I am not, however, going to use the caramel on the top. I will serve it with the pie, but I prefer mine sans-caramel. My family however, will be drizzling.


3 tablespoons unflavored gelatin
nonstick cooking spray
2 cups half-and-half
1 cup sugar
1 teaspoon pure almond extract
3 cups freshly grated coconut
3 cups heavy cream, whipped
1 cup fresh shaved coconut
Caramel Sauce


Sprinkle gelatin over 1/2 cup water, and let stand until softened, about 5 minutes. Spray a 10-inch round nonstick springform pan with nonstick cooking spray; set aside.

Bring half-and-half to a boil in a large saucepan over medium-high heat. Add gelatin mixture and sugar and cook, stirring, until gelatin and sugar have dissolved. Remove from heat and let cool slightly.

Stir in almond extract and grated coconut; stir in whipped cream. Transfer pudding to prepared springform pan and transfer to refrigerator until chilled and set, 2 to 3 hours.

Unmold pudding onto a serving platter and sprinkle with shaved coconut. Serve with caramel sauce.
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11/11/10

Chewy Chocolate Chip Cookies - Surprise Someone Today!

Shhh! Don't tell my family but I think I'm going to make them chocolate chip cookies tonight when I get home from work! Since I haven't made them today I'll have to borrow an image from the internet - but I hope it entices you to whip some cookies tonight after work as well!

Now, I have an excellent and awesome cookie recipe that I'm known for. My cookies are soft and chewy and always mistaken for being bakery bought. However, when I saw this recipe it was very similar to my own and I instinctively knew it would be a 'keeper'.

I'm making these tonight... and hope you will too! It's Veteran's Day today - maybe make a plate full for a military member (or retired member!) you know of in your neighborhood! Surprise them with a plate of freshly baked chocolate chip cookies. Enjoy.


Chewy Chocolate Chip Cookies

1 cup butter, soft
1 1/2 cups packed brown sugar
2 large eggs
1 teaspoon vanilla
2 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
2 cups semisweet chocolate chips (12 oz.)


In a bowl, with an electric mixer on medium speed, beat butter and brown sugar until well blended. Beat in eggs and vanilla until smooth, scraping down sides of bowl as needed.

In another bowl, mix flour, baking soda, and salt. Stir or beat into butter mixture until well incorporated. Stir in chocolate chips.

Drop dough in walnut sized portions, 2 inches apart, onto buttered 12- by 15-inch baking sheets.

Bake in a 400° oven until cookies are lightly browned, about 7-8 minutes. Let set on the baking sheet for about 2-3 minutes before transferring to a cookie rack to cool. Don't over bake or they won't be chewy!
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11/9/10

Lobster Bisque

With the holidays coming up (Thanksgiving and Christmas, closely followed by New Years) I've been thumbing through my old 'holiday' recipe collection with my handwritten 3x5 note cards I've saved of my 'must make' over the years. Each year I try new recipes for a couple things, but when it's a winner, I save it in a special book.

This recipe is one I copied into my files about 2 years ago. It's not 'my' lobster bisque recipe but it looked promising enough that at the time I made sure to add it to my collection to try. Admittedly, when I find one 'better' than I've been making in the past I always upgrade! I've not tried this one yet though... it has wine and brandy in it - which I don't use in my original lobster bisque recipe. I also have to cheat and use lobster meat that someone else has already cleaned, as I live about as far from the sea as you can... and if I was to purchase 2 whole, live lobsters, I'm afraid I would cry to have to spend that dearly to add it to a soup. I don't buy live lobsters where we live... although I might if we are ever lucky enough to live closer to the ocean.

So - here is one from my collection - not tried and true. But it looked so good I knew I could improvise and give it a go!

Lobster Bisque
  • 5 cups water, divided
  • 2 cups clam juice
  • 3/4 cup dry white wine, divided
  • 2 (1 1/4-pound) whole Maine lobsters
  • 1 1/2 cups chopped carrot, divided
  • 1 1/2 cups chopped celery, divided
  • 1 1/2 cups chopped onion, divided
  • 1 cup chopped fennel bulb, divided
  • 1 cup fat-free, less-sodium chicken broth
  • 1 teaspoon dried tarragon
  • 1/2 teaspoon dried thyme
  • 5 fresh parsley sprigs
  • 2 bay leaves
  • 1 1/2 tablespoons butter
  • 2 garlic cloves, minced
  • 2 tablespoons all-purpose flour
  • 1 cup chopped peeled baking potato
  • 1 (14.5-ounce) can diced tomatoes, drained
  • 1 cup fat-free milk
  • 1/4 cup whipping cream
  • 2 tablespoons brandy

Combine 3 cups water, clam juice, and 1/2 cup wine in an 8-quart stockpot; bring to a boil. Add lobsters; cover and cook 10 minutes or until bright red. Remove lobsters from pan, reserving liquid in pan. Cool lobsters. Remove meat from tail and claws. Discard any roe or tomalley. Chop meat; chill until ready to use. Place lobster shells in pan. Add remaining 2 cups water, 1 cup carrot, 1 cup celery, 1 cup onion, 1/2 cup fennel, broth, tarragon, thyme, parsley, and bay leaves; bring to a boil. Reduce heat, and simmer, partially covered, 1 1/2 hours. Drain through a fine sieve over a bowl; discard solids.

Melt butter in pan over medium heat; add remaining 1/2 cup carrot, remaining 1/2 cup celery, remaining 1/2 cup onion, remaining 1/2 cup fennel, and garlic; sauté 5 minutes. Add remaining 1/4 cup wine; cook 3 minutes or until liquid almost evaporates. Sprinkle flour over carrot mixture; cook 1 minute, stirring constantly. Stir in reserved cooking liquid and potato; cook 20 minutes or until potato is tender. Add tomatoes; cook 10 minutes. Place one-third of mixture in blender; process until smooth. Pour pureed mixture into a large bowl. Repeat procedure twice with remaining mixture. Return pureed mixture to pan. Stir in lobster, milk, cream, and brandy; cook 5 minutes over medium-low heat or until thoroughly heated (do not boil). Garnish if desired.

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11/8/10

Gouda Stout Cheese Dip

This morning as I scanned through some of my recipes this one caught my eye - a Gouda and dark beer cheese dip/ball. Of course the timing is ironic with the Gouda cheese recall I just posted about - but guys, not all Gouda cheese on the market was recalled. Just the one company. So in honor of yummy Gouda Cheese (and my craving since reading this recipe this morning) I'm posting. YUM!

Gouda Stout Cheese Dip


1 (10 oz) ball of imported Gouda cheese
4 tbsp unsalted butter
1 small yellow onion, finely chopped
4 oz Roquefort cheese, crumbled
4 oz sharp cheddar cheese, finely grated
1 tsp Worcestershire sauce
3 drops of hot pepper sauce
1 tsp whole-grain mustard
4 Tbsp dark beer or stout

With a sharp knife, cut the top to make a lid from the Gouda cheese ball, about 1 inch thick. Save the lid. Hollow out the cheese without cutting through the wall of the ball. The wall should be as thin as you can make it on all sides. Take the reserved Gouda cheese and grate it and set aside.

In a small skillet, heat 2 tbsp butter over medium heat. Add the onion and saute until it reaches a golden brown color. This usually takes about 7 to 10 minutes. Stir often. Remove the onion from the skillet and set aside to cool.

Combine the Gouda, Roquefort, and Cheddar cheeses in a food processor, along with the remaining butter, the onions and the Worcestershire, mustard, and hot pepper sauce. Process the mixture until smooth. Scrape the sides occasionally. Pour in the beer and continue to process until smooth and creamy.

Next, fill the hollowed out Gouda ball with the mixture. Place the lid on the ball of cheese and put the remaining dip into a bowl. Cover both with plastic wrap and refrigerate before serving.
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11/5/10

I'm a Costco Shopper... relocated from the West Coast and Love Gouda Cheese... Recall Notice!

Free samples and packages of Gouda cheese sold at Costco have been removed from store shelves after being linked to 25 cases of an E. coli outbreak in five Western states, according to health officials.

Costco, the Food and Drug Administration and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention warn consumers not to eat Bravo Farms Dutch Style Gouda that was sold in Arizona, California, Colorado, New Mexico and Nevada, an FDA news release says.

As of Thursday, 25 people, including nine who were hospitalized, had been sickened by E. coli 0157:H7, which causes diarrhea and abdominal cramps. While most people recover in a week, some may develop more severe symptoms of infection or, rarely, a type of kidney failure. One of the cases may be the form of kidney failure called hemolytic uremic syndrome, the FDA's release says.

The FDA instructs anyone who has the cheese to return it to the store or dispose of it in a sealed bag that keeps anyone else from getting access.

The FDA and the state of California have begun an investigation of Bravo Farms in Travor, Calif.
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