Mediterranean Orzo Mac & Cheese

by jenna on March 30, 2012

Thanks so much for all your sweet, encouraging comments on teaching my first yoga class yesterday—it went awesome! Or at least, I think it went awesome. We’ll see who shows back up next week (I’m doing this community teaching for the next ten weeks as part of my training). I was super (!!) nervous walking in, but had six wonderfully sweet ladies show up and after the initial introductions, we just flowed. I really just wanted everyone to leave the class feeling better than when they arrived….and I hope they did! I totally forgot some poses but realized no one cared. At the end during savasana, I read a little out of Journey to the Heart, which I love (my copy is tattered to bits). Their class ended just in time for me to head to my studio to take a class myself, which was extra nice after teaching—I got to burn off all that nervous energy!

I was talking to a friend later and she asked how it went and I said “well, I normally hate standing up and talking in front of crowd but I discovered that I love being the boss even more.” And by “boss”, I clearly just mean the teacher at the front of the room leading students into postures that make their body feel like putty. Nobody owns yoga!

I so wish all of you could come over to my house for yoga and lunch, by the way! Wouldn’t that be so fun? Considering I practically live in a garage though, I don’t know how we all would fit. And then there’s Dexter….the second I lay my yoga mat down on the floor he hops his furry little black self right in the center of it and absolutely refuses to move.

Next best thing? Vicarious yoga and lunch where we all do yoga podcasts in our living rooms then eat this directly after.

Orzo pasta is tossed in a creamy feta cheddar cheese sauce complete with diced tomatoes, olives and oregano for a Mediterranean flair.

If you’re a feta freak like me, you’ll go crazy for this!! In my opinion, the more feta the better. Or can we just say “feta makes it betta?”

This was the perfect fix to the cold, rainy weather we’ve been having lately. I used white cheddar in this recipe but if you prefer regular yellow cheddar, go right ahead!

Though I haven’t personally tried this with macaroni pasta, I’m sure it also work and be great. I just love orzo…mainly for the cuteness factor. Who doesn’t love tiny little morsels of pasta? Same goes for baby shoes. And that fake dollhouse food they sell at craft stores. I never had a dollhouse but I sure as heck stocked up on the miniature food.

What?

Mediterranean Orzo Mac & Cheese

serves 4-6

Print this recipe!

Ingredients:

1 1/2 cups dry orzo pasta

2 cups shredded white cheddar cheese (about 5 oz)

3/4 cup + 1/2 cup feta cheese

2 cups milk

1 1/2 tbsp butter

1 1/2 tbsp flour

1/4 cup roughly chopped kalamata olives

1 cup canned fire roasted diced tomatoes

1 tsp oregano

1/2 tsp salt

1/2 tsp pepper

Directions:

Preheat oven to 400 degrees.

Bring a large pot of lightly salted water to a boil and cook orzo until al dente. Drain and set aside.

In a heavy saucepot over medium high heat, melt the butter and add the flour. Whisk together and cook for thirty seconds. Add the 1 cup milk and whisk until smooth. Add another 1/2 cup of milk (reserving 1/2 cup) and continue to whisk. Cook for four minutes while whisking. The mixture will get very thick!

Add the grated cheddar cheese and 3/4 cup feta, and stir well so that the cheese melts. Add the salt, pepper and oregano followed by the additional 1/2 cup of milk, diced tomatoes and olives. Stir well.

Once everything is smooth, add the cooked orzo and toss well. Pour into a 9?9″ casserole pan (or individual sized oven-safe pans) and top with remaining 1/2 cup feta cheese.

Bake for 15 minutes. Let stand 10 minutes before serving.

Time:

45 minutes

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{ 78 comments… read them below or add one }

Kathryn March 30, 2012 at 3:16 am

Feta definitely makes thing beta! I can’t get enough of it and love the idea of this creamy, delicious pasta!

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Kristen @ notsodomesticated March 30, 2012 at 3:44 am

Glad that the yoga class went so well!! And any recipe that uses the words “mac” and “cheese” has to be good. ;)

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Full-Flavored Life March 30, 2012 at 3:45 am

This looks great! So glad your first yoga class went so well!!

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Lesley March 30, 2012 at 4:09 am

You are on your way to great things teaching yoga! Congrats. Nice recipe, too! :)

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Erika - The Teenage Taste March 30, 2012 at 4:13 am

I’m a bit obsessed with any type of macaroni and cheese, but this is especially interesting to me. I love mediterranean flavors and don’t even get me started on how much I love feta! Bookmarking! :-D

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Serena March 30, 2012 at 4:34 am

I make some thing similar that my family loves can’t wait to try this!

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Angela @ Eat Spin Run Repeat March 30, 2012 at 4:36 am

Congratulations Jenna! I bet your class loved you (and your pedicured toes too!)

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Molly @ RDexposed March 30, 2012 at 4:37 am

Garage..? I think we’ll need a virtual tour before showing up for lunch.

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Brittany @ Brittany Cooks March 30, 2012 at 4:40 am

Oh wow. I want…right now.

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Katrina March 30, 2012 at 4:59 am

Mmm this looks like ooey gooey awesomeness!

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amy walters, aDESIGNdock March 30, 2012 at 5:04 am

So glad your first yoga class went so well!
This dish looks a-maz-ing. Love the plethora of feta. I’m sold.

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The Mrs @ Success Along the Weigh March 30, 2012 at 5:37 am

This looks amazing. I can’t wait to whip this up!

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Lauren @ What Lauren Likes March 30, 2012 at 5:40 am

this.looks.amazing!

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britt March 30, 2012 at 5:51 am

i would seriously love to join you for lunch. but california is a bit far from san antonio, tx ;) this looks super amazing, though. i’m thinking it will be tomorrow night’s dinner.

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Nicole March 30, 2012 at 5:53 am

I love all Mediterranean foods, and mac and cheese is one of my all time favorite American dishes, so I’m sure this is incredible! Totally putting this on my meal plan rotation for next week!

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Casey @ Insatiably Healthy March 30, 2012 at 6:08 am

I completely forgot about orzo! I used to eat it all the time as a kid, definitely going to pix up a box this weekend

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Katryn March 30, 2012 at 6:09 am

Yay! Congrats on a successful first yoga class!
This mac and cheese looks FREAKING AWESOME. I am a feta and Kalamata olive fiend.

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Margarita March 30, 2012 at 6:14 am

So glad your class went well! I discovered yoga podcasts through you and it is quite amazing how much I enjoy it. It really is yoga anywhere! I love orzo too and first tried it when my boyfriend made some orzo on our first date. This recipe looks yum!

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molly stillman March 30, 2012 at 6:26 am

OHMYGOLLY this looks SO good. seriously. so good. i am making it ASAP.

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Gina @ Running to the Kitchen March 30, 2012 at 6:41 am

Congrats on your first class! I think I’d hold onto the nervous energy if it means this delicious meal afterwards ;) Seriously, there’s nothing about this recipe that doesn’t make me want to jump right into that cheesy cute little bowl!

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Tara @ Chip Chip Hooray March 30, 2012 at 6:48 am

Ooh, love the Mediterranean twist on this dish! I think it sounds like a perfect post-yoga dish…and your class sounds like it went great! :)

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Emily March 30, 2012 at 6:50 am

This sounds awesome! I’m obsessed with feta cheese. I have a simple and special pasta salad that I make all the time because it calls for feta. I’ll definitely be trying this! And congrats on the successful first yoga class. :)

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Elisabeth March 30, 2012 at 6:56 am

Congratulations on the first class, Jenna! I bet they’ll all show up again next week :)

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Cassie March 30, 2012 at 7:07 am

Love this, Jenna. Congrats on your first class!

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Amber March 30, 2012 at 7:09 am

Oh my! This sounds and looks so good. I love feta.

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Kelli H (Made in Sonoma) March 30, 2012 at 7:17 am

Congrats on the yoga class! That meal looks so tasty!

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Bianca @ Confessions of a Chocoholic March 30, 2012 at 7:21 am

Congrats on teaching your first yoga class! Yes, feta makes everything betta.

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christina March 30, 2012 at 7:29 am

My last name is Orso so I’m mildly obsessed with anything using Orzo. Weird? Yes. This looks really good though…I love feta.

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Liz March 30, 2012 at 7:29 am

This look fantastic!

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Lauren March 30, 2012 at 7:32 am

Ohhhh yessss. This is sounding wonderful to me right about now.

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Nicole March 30, 2012 at 7:32 am

Absolutely making this!!!! Feta makes the world go round. I mean..

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Stephie @ Eat Your Heart Out March 30, 2012 at 7:38 am

So many things to say.

1.) lunch and yoga at your place? sounds AMAZING.
2.) My cat does the exact same thing when I pull out my yoga mat! And when I do finally get her to move, she just ends up settling back down when I’m in downward dog. It makes sun salutations more than a little tricky.
3.) Ohmygosh this mac and cheese. I’m going to be thinking about this until I make it. Guaranteed.

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Maria March 30, 2012 at 7:41 am

My kind of comfort food!

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Ashley @ Hudson on the Potomac March 30, 2012 at 7:47 am

So happy to hear class went well! I wish I could take one of your classes! Making this Orzo Mac and Cheese will have to do until I can make it across the country I guess! Thanks for the yummy recipe idea!

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Carrie @ Kiss My Whisk March 30, 2012 at 7:51 am

I seriously want to dive head first into this, looks amazing!

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Maria March 30, 2012 at 7:54 am

Lunch + yoga would be the most divine thing ever right now. It has been a rough week.

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Averie @ Averie Cooks March 30, 2012 at 7:57 am

Major congrats to you, Jenna, for getting your first class under your belt and for having it go off without a hitch!

And I would so come to your yoga class and then lunch at your house, even if it was held in a garage, a tree house, or on the sidewalk :) The orzo mac would be worth it!

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jenna March 30, 2012 at 8:15 am

thanks so much averie!

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jenna March 30, 2012 at 8:18 am

congrats!!! what an exciting time in your life! that is so cool you are following your dream of becoming a yoga teacher even though its alot or work and scary!
this mac n cheese looks amazing!!!!

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Emily March 30, 2012 at 8:28 am

Jenna, congrats on your first class! I live in the North Bay and would LOVE to see you teach… Is there any chance you could share some details? (I understand you don’t want to get murdered or stalked or anything, so no worries if you’d rather not!)

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jenna March 30, 2012 at 8:50 am

Email me, Emily!

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Melissa March 30, 2012 at 11:02 am

I live in the North Bay too…I’d be down for a real-life yoga and lunch meetup!

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Lindsay @ biking before bed March 30, 2012 at 8:55 am

Congrats on your first class! Now I want to go dig up all my old dollhouse food:)

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Ranjani March 30, 2012 at 8:58 am

This looks fabulous. I have a package of orzo in the pantry and was looking for a fun recipe that would be more interesting than an orzo pasta salad. This looks perfect

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Mildly Entertained March 30, 2012 at 9:02 am

It all sounds so dreamy and perfect! Life sound good for you at this time.

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Laura @ She Eats Well March 30, 2012 at 9:21 am

Congrats on your first yoga class!
Next time you are in SF you should come to Urban Flow and take a donation based class. The setting and room is absolutely gorgeous. Such a cool vibe!

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Dawn March 30, 2012 at 9:34 am

So happy to hear your first class went well! And I hear you about practicing at home…my dogs like to walk between my legs in standing poses and under me in downward dog. It adds a whole new level of difficulty to my practice. :)

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Sharon March 30, 2012 at 9:36 am

Oh I’d love to come over for lunch and yoga-sounds great! I wish I could come take your class, but due to an ulnar nerve issue I’ve been having, the orthopaedic surgeon I saw yesterday pretty much put the kibosh on anything involving a push-up type position, so it might not be the best idea for me… no chaturanga for sure. I wonder if i could just modify and be in a straight arm plank position instead? would that work?

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Sharon March 30, 2012 at 9:37 am

Oh and the cat/yoga mat conundrum is one that may never be solved…yoga mats seem to have a magnetic draw where felines are concerned…as soon as you roll one out, they simply must be in the center of it.

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Cait's Plate March 30, 2012 at 9:38 am

It’s freezing cold outside and that just looks like the most comforting thing ever right about now!

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Urban Wife March 30, 2012 at 10:01 am

So glad your first class went well! See, we told you so. :) Anyways, how fun would a yoga podcast be?! You should totally do one. I can dig that. And this dish? Fugedabouit.

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Sarah March 30, 2012 at 10:18 am

Oh wow! This is totally going on my menu plan. Thanks! :D

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Deanna B. March 30, 2012 at 10:22 am

You know what would be super fun? Yoga on the beach followed by a potluck. That way we could all take a class from you (or at least those of us near enough to go), and we’d get to try lots of yummy food.

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Emilie @ Emilie's Enjoyables March 30, 2012 at 11:48 am

Congrats on teaching your first class!

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Ali @ Around the VeggieTable March 30, 2012 at 11:52 am

Looks delicious! If I’m ever in CA I’m definitely coming over for yoga and orzo :)

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gwen March 30, 2012 at 1:26 pm

This looks so yummy! I made a similar dish with roasted red pepper and fennel — I’d want to add those to the mac ‘n cheese version.

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Sarah G March 30, 2012 at 2:01 pm

I envy people who do yoga. I did it once 5 years ago and it screwed up my back so badly that 2 days later I was still in pain and had to go to the ER for meds. I’ve been too scared to try it since.

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Anne P March 30, 2012 at 2:43 pm

Awww I wish I could come take one of your yoga classes!

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Adri @ foodiebefit March 30, 2012 at 3:44 pm

This looks so delish. I love orzo and makes me feel like a kid when I eat it :)

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Moni Meals March 30, 2012 at 5:36 pm

Congrats on teaching your first class! woo-hoo! It all starts somewhere.

Now this meal looks fantastic. It is so similiar to my “Moni Quinoa Mac N Cheese” and this… I HAVE GOT to try. :)

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Angie February 9, 2014 at 12:12 am

I love your “Moni Quinoa Mac N Cheese”!

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Lauren @ the talking kitchen March 30, 2012 at 8:50 pm

this looks dank and you are funny.

thanks for sharing, and please update us on that v-chat yoga class thing, sounds like fun. glad your first class went well!

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Annie D @ Annie's Simple Life March 31, 2012 at 1:35 pm

Holy- Yum. I’d have to sub quinoa or brown rice to make it GF but GOSH, this looks awesome!

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Leann March 31, 2012 at 6:01 pm

I despise olives think I could sub artichokes ??

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Lorna April 1, 2012 at 5:07 am

I made this recipe already, and it was really tasty! I added fire roasted peppers (we really don’t like tomatoes!) and I had a bottle of pre-chopped green olives- it was still amazing. I love your recipes!

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elizabeth @ chronic venture April 2, 2012 at 12:09 pm

i love coming back from a few days off and reading something like this. yum!! thank you!

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Sando @ the daily deelight April 4, 2012 at 12:46 pm

Wow! This looks so yummy! I am a self-declared feta-freak as well. And I agree, more feta does make it betta ;) Thanks for the awesome post!

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Stephanie April 10, 2012 at 9:06 am

I made this last night – so delicious!! Thanks for the great recipe! :)

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Dominique April 12, 2012 at 5:36 pm

Maybe you could do your own podcast and then we could do yoga with you! And Dexter. My cat Léon would be happy :-D

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Kellie April 22, 2012 at 7:14 pm

This was FANTASTIC! Thanks for sharing!

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Brian Cammarata May 5, 2012 at 7:02 pm

Just made this recipe, minus the olives, totally yummy.

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Amanda F June 7, 2012 at 10:20 am

I just made this, followed the recipe exactly (with the exception of using mozzarella on top instead of extra feta so it’d get brown and bubbly), and I am currently at work eating leftovers. YUM!! OH, I did add several handfuls of torn fresh baby spinach to the mix before I put it in the oven…needed to round it out to make a full meal rather than a side dish. I think it’d be great with all sorts of leftover veggies thrown in the mix as desired. Thanks!!!!!

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Amanda F July 17, 2012 at 9:43 am

Edited to add:
It’s now about 6 weeks later, and I’m eating the leftovers I froze in a glass tupperware (I only had a large tupperware, so I separated portion-sized blobs in the containers for easy serving). I put the frozen tupperware in the fridge overnight, then took a small pre-portioned slice and placed it in a different tupperware to take to work – it was still a little frosty/frozen – microwaved for 2-3 minutes ’til hot and it is literally just as good as when it was fresh. I stirred a chopped tomato in after I took it out of the microwave to make the serving stretch further. I love freeze and re-heat meals!!

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Elizabeth July 18, 2012 at 4:28 pm

Made this tonight and my parents loved it! I’m not the biggest mac & cheese fan and i even enjoyed it! Thanks for the great recipe!

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Alix January 27, 2013 at 8:39 pm

So I tried making this tonight, and got stuck at making the butter/flour/milk mixture. It was soooo thin and never thickened up. I don’t drink regular milk so used almond milk. Was that the problem? What can I use instead of milk?

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Madeleine March 1, 2013 at 9:51 am

Hi there!

I’m an Associate Editor for the Taste and Food sections of The Huffington Post.

We’re doing a roundup of orzo recipes, and would love to feature yours! We will include a photo from your blog, and a link to your recipe, but not the recipe itself. Please let me know if this is okay with you!

Best,

Madeleine

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jenna March 1, 2013 at 9:57 am

Sounds good – thanks for asking! :)

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Jessica B. April 14, 2013 at 7:34 am

I just came across this recipe and we enjoyed it for dinner last night. I made a couple of tweaks to meet our tastes, but all in all it was easy to make and tasted great. We will also be enjoying the left-overs for a few more days! Thanks for sharing!

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