Dinner By Dagny

Not just food, food with flavor

Archive for the category “Uncategorized”

Lasagna Biscuits

Hi Everyone! It’s been a while since I posted anything yummy I have been cooking. It’s not because I haven’t been cooking, but rather I’ve been using the rest of my time for other things. That said I’m back at least for the summer. My daughter Ana has decided she wants to learn to cook and has chosen to cook every Thursday night. She can think up whatever she wants (within reason) and I will help find or define a recipe and guide her along. Also, I’ll be the sous chef and picture taker, but she’ll do the work and do most of the write-up. I hope you like my guest blogger.

I wanted to make lasagna biscuits because I wanted to try something new. Another reason I wanted to make lasagna biscuits is because I thought it was a meal my family would enjoy.

Ingredients:

  • 2 cups flour
  • 4 tablespoon baking powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1 stick butter
  • 1 egg
  • 2/3 cup milk
  • mozzarella to eaters preference
  • 1 package sausage
  • 1 red pepper
  • 1 jar tomato sauce
  • spices

 

Directions: Biscuits:

1. Preheat oven to 450 degres

2. Mix together dry ingredients

3. Cut butter in flour mixture until crumbly

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4. Mix milk & egg into mixture

5. Stir with fork until mixture holds together

6. Knead dough 10 times on floured board

7. Roll out out dough about 2 1/2 ” thick

8. Cut out biscuits

9. Bake on ungreased cookie sheet 10-15 minutes 12-15 biscuits

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Directions: Stuffing or Topping

1. Cut sausage

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2. Cut peppers into pieces or strips

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3.  Saute peppers & sausages

4. Stir into tomato sauce

5. Heat sauce through

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6. Add spices (basil, oregano)

7. Stuff or top biscuits

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Ana made awesome biscuits.  They were probably some of the best biscuits we’ve had in a while.  The sausages & peppers turned out fine as well.  I wouldn’t say this was the best combination of food together.  However, this is Ana’s cooking day.  I will not squash her creativity, but let her create her meal and we’ll decide if it’s a “do again” meal.

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Homemade Soup

Why is it that people are a little afraid of making homemade soup? It doesn’t make much sense to me. Homemade soup is extremely nutritious and you can customize it to your liking without any real effort. It is also a really good vessel for using leftovers, things from the freezer or fresh ingredients. You can make it over a couple of days, overnight in a crockpot, in a couple of hours or really quick if you have ready ingredients on hand.

Chicken soup is the most common for me, but that’s because I tend to cook chicken regularly and keep the pan drippings and chicken carcasses. I tend to add the pan drippings to a container with other pan drippings. One thing to note here though it that you really need to be careful about how much pan drippings you add to your soup stock. It is very easy to go from perfectly flavored to almost too rich.

For today’s soup I used two small chicken carcasses. The first thing I did was pull as much meat off the bones as I could. This allows you to use that meat for the soup later, plus any additional meat that you were not able to liberate until after the stock making process. I added a quartered onion (skin and all), 3 carrots, 3 celery hearts (leaves and all), a couple of slices of ginger, the rest of an open bottle of white wine and covered it all with water. I let it simmer for 3-4 hours and put it in the fridge overnight. I strained the stock into another pot, and picked off any additional chicken. I then let the stock reduce for about an hour and tasted it for flavor (at this point, I have added no additional seasoning). My tastings led me to add about a cup of pan drippings and let that simmer as well. Now it’s ready for all the goodies we want – we’re doing chicken, carrots, celery, kidney beans, peas and corn, maybe some cous cous. I’ll let you know in the directions below.

Directions

1. Bring 6-8 cups prepared (or purchased) stock to a boil

2. Chop raw veggies you plan on adding – carrots and celery for us

3. Plan what else you are adding. We are adding kidney beans, frozen peas and corn, frozen turnips, and some cous cous. There is a little orchestration going on here as you need to make sure everything gets the proper cooking time, without overcooking anything. For me, this was adding the carrots and celery and simmer for 20 mins, add beans and cous cous (3 scoops – about 1/2 cup) simmer for 2 more mins, add peas and corn and chicken.

4. Based on the relative cooking time of your goodies, add them to the pot

5. Taste and season constantly (using my standard Adobo, pepper, oregano, thyme)

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Results

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My daughters gave me Chopped style running commentary on my soup. It even won Chopped! That’s so exciting. But it definitely made us warm on this cold winter day.

Fun with Food (baked sausage, sorrel & parmesan crusted tomatoes)

Over the last couple of weeks, I have tried a couple of new cooking techniques and ingredients. While I’m going to talk about them together they were definitely 3 different adventures.

We still haven’t fixed our grill so when we decided we were going to have bangers and mash for dinner I was figuring that I would do the usual stove top cooking method. The downside to the stovetop method is that you have to focus on your cooking, regularly turning the sausages or adding liquid if the sausage was cooking too quickly. It crossed my mind that there had to be a oven baked cooking method where you could pretty much ignore it. The Internet is a wonderful thing. I found this recipe and decided I would give it a try.

We have good friends who participate in a CSA, where they get fresh vegetables, fruit and eggs from a local farm each week. They were going out of town and Offered us their share for the week. The only caveat is I had to use the ingredients to cook two servings for one of them. Obviously I agreed and went on a grand adventure with my father to pick it up. I got onions, potatoes, peppers, peaches, plums, apples, tomatoes, two types of basil, garlic, and sorrel.

Neither my father or I have never had the sorrel green So we tried it. It had a tart flavor. We took a large “as much as you can eat” portion and went our our way. We started talking about adding it to our salad or using it solely as the leafy green, but then I thought about sautéing it with garlic and olive oil like I would spinach and stuff some chicken breasts with it. I didn’t know that it turns brown and gets slimy when you cook it. It also shrinks significantly. With the addition of spinach, roasted red peppers, feta and cream cheese, I was able to salvage it for dinner. It made a nice flavor combination.

My husband is growing hartman yellow cherry tomatoes in his garden. We brought in about 1 pound of those a day this week so I wanted to use the CSA tomatoes quickly. I got inspired for lunch and did a quick crusting of Parmesan before broiling them. I was a happy girl.

Oven Baked Sausage Directions

1. Remove the sausage from the refrigerator 10 – 15 minutes before cooking
2. Preheat the oven to 400 degrees Fahrenheit (200 degrees Celsius)
3. Layer the baking pan with aluminum foil or parchment paper
4. Place the sausages evenly on the cooking sheet
5. Bake sausage for 30 minutes, turning them once at the 15 minute mark
6. Remove from oven, let rest for 5-10 minutes

Note: the original recipe says 20-25 minutes unless sausages are especially thick and then it should be 40-60. I cooked them for 30 minutes as that is how long it takes on stovetop or grill. For us it was the right timeframe.

 

This is super simple and resulted in juicy, browed sausage.  The biggest issue for us was that the butcher wrapped all the different types of sausage together so we couldn’t tell them apart without tasting them.

Sorrel with Spinach, Roasted Red Pepper and Feta

1. Remove stems from large portion (enough to fill a colander) of sorrel
2. Heat olive oil in large skillet
3. Add 3-4 cloves garlic crushed or minced
4. Add sorrel and spinach
5. Season with adobo and pepper
6. Add in 1 roasted red pepper, cut into strips
7. Remove from heat, stir in 2 tablespoons cream cheese and 1/4 cup crumbled feta

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Despite the looks of this, it made a good filling for the chicken breasts.  I brushed thai basil pesto (olive oil, lemon juice, walnuts) on the outside and broiled the chicken for 6-7 minutes on each side.  The one complaint was the “bones” of the sorrel, AKA strings that appeared.  However, it was only “found” by one diner and only on the first bite.  The sorrel added a unique flavor to the spinach mixture, and the spinach added some texture and cut down on the sliminess of the sorrel.  Dinner was not only salvaged, it was unanimously considered delicious.

Parmesan Crusted Tomatoes

1. Cut tops off tomatoes and any bad spots
2. Cut tomatoes in half lengthwise
3. Dip tops of tomatoes in grated Parmesan cheese


4. Lay on baking sheet, cheese side up
5. Broil on high for 5 minutes

This was easy to prepare and took very little time.  I ate it with some steamed fingerling potatoes and then had plums and peaches for desert.

Cooking with Kids

I have mentioned before that I have fond memories of cooking with my family growing up, and it is something that I work to foster with my children.  I want them to enjoy food, enjoy cooking it and enjoy experimenting with it.  There are several examples that showcase that I’m succeeding with that.

My youngest daughter likes to help with some very specific recipes like macaroni & cheese, mashed potatoes, the dressing for broccoli slaw/cole slaw.  This week we were having grilled lamb sausage with mashed potatoes and she asked if I was making gravy.  I had no reason not to make the gravy so I asked whether she wanted chicken gravy or white gravy.  She decided it was going to be white gravy and she was going to help make it.  She was very focused when she cut the butter and measured out some flour.  She vigorously mashed, then stirred, the top layer of potatoes. She asked lots of questions like “what happened to the butter?”,  “how long do we have to wait to get gravy?” and “Why are you keeping the peeled potatoes in cold water?”  Needless to say she got a little bored and went off to play, until it was time to taste it.

While I appreciate all her help, it often comes with more angst and mess, than cooking alone.  Her elbow gets precariously close to the other pot on the stove when she is stirring.  She’s still not quite tall enough to peak into the pots without tip towing.  And there definitely is more flour, or other ingredients on counters, appliances and the floor.

My oldest daughter surprised us this year when she chose “home economics” as one of her choices for electives.  This came with a whole new level of education about sanitation and of course, the identification of the “perfect” way to do a task, usually very different than the way I was doing it.  She has backed off from telling me how to do it, and is more interested in her iphone than helping me in the kitchen.  However, she is one of the first to tell everyone about all the good things we get to eat at home.  Once in a while she’ll contribute something while cooking.

This week, we are focusing on regular family staples rather than anything really new.  I decided to offer up the option to allow her to pick the spices, for which I would season the roast chicken.  I started the pile with the standard Adobo and cracked black pepper.  She added in chili powder, cumin, Chinese five spice (she did taste it first), cardamon, and nutmeg.  I mixed it together in proportions that I thought would work.  I added some ginger, which I knew would complement the other flavors.  I was impressed with the depths of the flavors she chose, as well as the fact that she did not shy away from strong flavors.  She decided she really like the combination of spices on the roast chicken.

I really hope the girls have some great memories of this time in the kitchen and continue to enjoy the preparation.

But that’s all in the name of adventure!

Thai Cilantro Pork Chops

I was perusing Pinterest and stumbled across this Cilantro Thai Grilled Chicken on my friend Nicole’s board and was inspired not only to try it, but also to create a new board of my own, for all the things that I see online and want to try (Dinner by Dagny Things to Try).

When we we were looking something to cook for mother’s day dinner, I knew that I had some pork chops in the freezer and this marinade came to mind. I made some modifications to it after following the recipe yielded a flavor a tad too salty. Nothing a little lime juice couldn’t solve.  But, in all, I stayed true to the Thai inspiration and flavor profile. We ate it with green beans sauted with spring onions (from my husband’s garden) and corn on the cob.  I was pleased with the outcome.

Ingredients

6 pork chops

4 cloves garlic chopped

3/4 cup cilantro chopped

3 tablespoons fish sauce

1 1/2 tablespoons sesame oil

Juice of 1 1/2 limes

1/2 habanero pepper chopped

1 pound green beans

3 spring onions chopped

1-2 tablespoons olive oil

5-6 corn cobs

Directions

1.  Grind garlic, cilantro, fish sauce, sesame oil, habanero and lime juice together using mortar and pestle (you can also use blender or food processor)

2.  Pour marinade of pork chops and rub into meat

3.  Let sit for minimum of 15 minutes.  (I let it sit for several hours in pan covered with plastic wrap)

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4.  Grill on medium heat for 30 minutes, flipping over at 15 minutes

5.  Saute green beans with olive oil and spring onions

6.  Bring large pot of water to a boil with a tablespoon of sugar.  Add corn cobs and cook for 5 minutes covered.  Turn off heat and let sit for 7-10 minutes.

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Results

This was a perfect mother’s day meal.  My husband jokes that it was my day off, since he grilled.  It doesn’t matter as I enjoy cooking and trying new things in the kitchen.  This is definitely on the things to eat again list.

Pink Drinks and Coffee Pot Cooking

I’m going to take some pointers from other bloggers and do a fairly random post with two pretty distinct topics. Last week was a big week.

For all of you who hadn’t heard, last week was National Princess Week. Actually, it was the first ever, National Princess Week.  This was fully supported and promoted by Julie Andrews.  With two daughters, you’d think that I would know about this.  Sadly, that was not the case.  My cousin, Cait, raised this issue and suggested that we have some tasty pink drinks to celebrate.  While we rarely need a reason to indulge in a tasty drink, National Princess Week seemed as good as any.  Especially as the two daddy’s little girls that we are.  But herein lies the dilemas – what alcohol do we start as our base? what mixer do we use?  The obvious answer was something to do with strawberry or raspberry as once you muddle them, they’ll turn almost any drink pink.  Cait chose strawberry and suggested a spike strawberry lemonade.  While Mike’s hard lemonade does come in strawberry or raspberry, I looked around for some other suggestions.  I found the simplest strawberry basil margarita recipe, so the decision was done.

On top of all that excitement from National Princess Week, my dad, Poppa John, published his kindle book on how he lost more than 100 pounds cooking in his coffee pot.  This was a several year undertaking starting with the death of my mother and continuing now as he works to maintain he weight loss.  Poppa John tends to blame me and Cait for forcing him on a weight loss program, but it was solely so he could continue to participate on family adventures (space camp, hang gliding, canoeing, hiking, etc) for many years to come.  He experience cooking in commercial kitchens, combined with this chemical engineering education and experience, allowed him to convert crockpot recipes into coffee pot recipes.  Anyway, while I realize that this all seems weird and a little unorthodox, it worked for him.  Maybe it will be become a mass phenomenon…cooking in your coffee pot.  My family is doing it.  Maybe yours should too!  It is great fun with children and has added benefits of built in portion control for those cooking for themselves or those deprived of other cooking equipment.

Strawberry Basil Margaritas 

Ingredients

1 can frozen limeade concentrate

10 – 12 strawberries hulled and cut in half (I cut large strawberries into quarters)

8 – 10 basil leaves crumbled (do this right before adding to the pitcher)

2 1/2 cups tequila (I used gold, but you can use whichever)

2 1/2 cans of water

Directions

1.  Empty limeade concentrate into pitcher

2.  Add 2 1/2 cans of water and tequila

3.  Add strawberries and crumbled basil leaves

4.  Mix

5.  Cover and keep in refrigerator a minimum of 4 hours (preferably over night)

Note:  The tequila settles so make sure you mix before serving

Results

This was exactly what we were looking for.  The flavors blended perfectly, but you could still taste the tequila.  It is a little strong, so for at least one guest we topped it with club soda to lighten it up a little.  Everyone was happy.  But as I said above, the tequila does settle so make sure you constantly mix before serving.

Ode to Multi-Course Meals….

Last year we started hosting “Cruzan Sundays” whereby family and friends would join us for food and drinks.  These were pretty leisurely afternoons where everyone would bring food or drink to add to the mix, and we would sit around hanging out.  There might be a game or two of soccer, barefoot with drink in hands for the adults, as well.  Now that the weather is warming up, my husband decided it was time to start again for the season.  I had some leftovers from the meals cooked earlier in the week, and I had a beer braised bbq pork recipe I wanted to try.  So, easter dinner was a little non-traditional and eclectic.

Menu

cherry tomatoes, carrots and roasted garlic hummus

chips & salsa

3 servings sausage stew

6 individual sausage lasagna rolls

3 servings chicken, rice & beans

4-5 pound pork roast beer braised bbq from the crockpot

cous cous pasta salad with corn, peas, broccoli (all leftover from week) and red pepper

rainbow slaw (broccoli, shredded cabbage, carrots, cauliflower)

stuffing made from some dense garlic, parsley bread my husband made and leftover country wheat from Panera

Preparation

Since the basis of the meal was leftovers, there wasn’t a lot of advanced preparation that needed to get done.  I did the dry rub for the pork (2 tbs Adobo, 2 tbs chili powder, 1 tbs granulated garlic, 2 tsp ground coriander, ~40 grinds fresh pepper) at about 9:30 am and let that sit until around noon before putting it into the crockpot.  I also unraveled some of the layers of unnecessary noodle off the lasagna rolls and covered with more sauce and shredded mozzarella cheese.  And I cut the edges off the bread, cubed it and left it in a bowl on the counter until I needed it later.

I put the dry rubbed pork in the crockpot around noon with a bottle of Landshark beer and 5 chopped cloves of garlic.   About 2 hours into the cooking time, I mixed 1/2 cup ketchup, 3 tbs Worcestershire sauce, and 1/3 cup brown sugar.  I heated that over low heat for about 5 minutes to meld the ingredients and bring the temperature up.  I added this mixture to the crockpot and mixed it with the beer, garlic and juices from the pork roast.   I also chopped the leftover broccoli and the red pepper into small pieces to mimic the size of the corn and cooked the cous cous so it would cool.  I made a fresh lemon vinagrette with Adobo, Oregano and black pepper as the dressing.

At about 4 pm, I chopped the onions, carrots and celery for the stuffing and adding that to 1 stick melted butter, 1/4 cup olive oil on medium high heat in a saucepan.  I let the vegetables soften up and cook for about 5 minutes before adding the cubed bread and mixed it up.  Once people started arriving around 4:30 pm, I put the sausage stew on the stove to heat up.  I served that to the first 3 people who were hungry.  I added the chicken stock to the stuffing until the bread was thoroughly moist and let that sit for 5-10 minutes while the stove heated up.  I checked the moisture level on the bread and since it was still a little dry, added some more chicken stock.  I put the lasagna rolls and the stuffing in the oven and let them go for about 30 minutes for the lasagna rolls and 45 minutes for the stuffing.  I also dressed the cous cous salad.

I put out the vegetables and hummus and chips and salsa, which were devoured by the time the lasagna rolls came out.  My guests were in a sharing mood and I think that the lasagna rolls actually got split 6 ways.  At this point, I also started heating up the chicken, rice & beans.  I had a few people who were eyeing the pot for a while.  I think this is about the time, I started making concoctions in the kitchen.  First it was the equal parts mango and banana rum with orange juice, and then it was the coconut and pineapple  rum mojitos.  I had about 2 servings of leftover rice and heated that up.  I then made another batch of fresh rice and waited patiently for the beer braised bbq pork to finish, but it took longer than I thought.  I expected about 5 hours, but it ended up being closer to 6 1/2 hours.

It worked out as some people started playing a game of soccer and came in for another round of food.  I think people ended up  skipping the rolls and going for plates of rice, red beans and pulled pork.

Everyone seemed to enjoy themselves and I got rave reviews for the multi-course, eclectic menu.  Everyone was having such a good time, including me that I forgot to take pictures. Sorry about that.

Curry Fish with Onions and Peppers

I’m a big fan of reinventing leftovers.  I usually save pan drippings, gravy, and broth from soup (after straining any remaining vegetables or solid particles).  I can then reuse it for something else, whether it be to reinforce a flavor in another soup or to add later whenever a recipe calls for chicken, fish, etc stock.  I did this with the broth from the Asian Shrimp Noodle soup and the Caribbean Curry Chicken.

After my husband ate all the goodies out of the curry chicken, I knew just how I would use the curry sauce.  I had some white fish in the freezer that I knew I needed to use.  It’s been in there a while and so I don’t remember exactly what kind it is.  I knew that the curry sauce had great flavor and would work well with the fish.

Ingredients

1.75 pounds fish (whatever your preference is. I used a white fish, but I have also had this with Salmon)

1/2 onion (this was leftover in the refrigerator.  I would normally use a small onion or 1/2 larger onion)

1/2 each of red, green and orange peppers

~3 cups leftover curry sauce

Adobo and pepper to taste

Directions

1.  Defrost fish and soak in milk for a few hours (this is recommended for fish that has been previously frozen)

2.  Drain milk and place fish in a single layer in a casserole dish

3.  Layer with onions and peppers

4.  Season with Adobo and pepper

5.  Pour curry sauce over fish until the fish is covered

6.  Cover casserole dish with foil and bake at 350 degrees for 30 minutes

7.  Test fish for flakiness by sticking a fork in thickest part of meat and twisting.  The fish should flake.

I served over brown rice, but added a side salad as well as peas and carrots for vegetables.

Results

My youngest daughter said this was great and got herself three servings.  My husband thought it was a little mild for his taste and my daughter added hot sauce, so I guess she agreed.

Balsamic Mustard Chicken Breasts with Broccoli and Lentils

About once a month my friend Leighton comes over for dinner.  He travels for work a lot and we’ve been friends forever, so he gets great deal when he comes over…a good home cooked meal he didn’t have to make for himself and good company.  He’s not eating carbs these days so I have tried to make some adjustments to accomodate him.  This time around I wasn’t that inspired so just pulled some chicken breast from the freezer and decided I was going to use the last of the lentils I had.  Leighton will eat almost anything and I like lentils, but my family doesn’t really like them so I don’t make them very often.

This time around I did some searching on the internet and came up with some inspiration.  I first found this balsamic mustard marinade and that seemed pretty tasty.  I added some Goya Adobo and fresh cracked pepper as is standard practice and let the chicken marinade during the day.  I then found this lentils with bacon recipe and thought it seemed like a pretty solid place to start.  Who doesn’t love bacon and it was loaded up with vegetables.

Ingredients

1.5 – 2 lbs chicken  breasts

balsamic mustard marinade (see recipe link above)

Adobo

pepper

lentils

bacon

carrots, celery, onions (see lentils recipe link above)

broccoli florets

olive oil

lemon juice

parmesan cheese

1/2 red wine

balsamic vinegar

Directions

1.  Marinade chicken breast in balsamic mustard marinade for a minimum of 30 minutes, although I marinated it for 5-6 hours

2.  Simmer lentils with whole vegetables per the  lentil recipe

3.  Preheat oven to 350 degrees

4.  Brown chicken breast on each side over medium high heat, in oven safe skillet (approximately 5 minutes per side)

5.  Meanwhile, continue with the lentil preparation per the recipe

6.  Once chicken breasts are brown, place skillet in oven and bake chicken for additional 15 minutes

7.  Place broccoli florets in roasting pan, drizzle with olive oil and lemon juice, sprinkle with salt and pepper

8.  Roast broccoli at 425 degrees for 20-25 minutes (florets should be browned).  If the florets are brown enough you can put them under broiler for additional 5 minutes.  Sprinkle with parmesan cheese once done

9.  Remove chicken from from skillet and set aside to rest

10.  Over medium high heat, add approximately 1/2 cup red wine to skillet to deglaze the pan.  Add about 1 tablespoon balsamic vinegar, salt and pepper to taste for pan sauce.

Results

This was a simple meal that I cooked based on what I had in the cabinet.  Leighton said he doesn’t really like lentils, then helped himself to 3 servings.  Needless to say, there weren’t any leftovers.

A little something to keep me busy….

I’ve been talking to several different people about the prospects of DinnerbyDagny, a way for others to piggy back on what I have for dinner.  On top of that I think I’m long overdue to provide my friends with recipes for fan favorites like Caribbean curry chicken, chicken enchiladas, moroccan chicken and a few others.  I’ve created this blog site to at least start with the basics.

Usually, I’m all about the quick dinner meals during the week and more lengthy recipes on the weekend.  However, I’m currently taking some time off and now can experiment with new recipes and they can take as much time as I’m willing to sacrifice.  I tend to like easy recipes with bold flavors, but I have a good sense of what goes together so there is a fair amount of adding and swapping out ingredients as I see fit.

Some work, some don’t.

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