Category Archives: Dressings and Sauces

Walnut Basil Pesto Chicken Pasta Salad

Walnut Basil Pesto Chicken Pasta

  • Servings: 2
  • Time: 50 mins
  • Difficulty: easy
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Walnut Basil Pesto Chicken Pasta
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This spring I built two raised garden beds and tried my hand at a garden of herbs, fruits, and vegetables. It took off like crazy, especially the squash and cucumbers. I continue to learn about the benefits and purposes of pruning. So I have a few basil plants that are massive but I learned they are too leggy and I failed to prune properly. Nothing has flowered, so I caught before it changed flavors. The good news is that I have a boat load of beautiful green basil.

So I am going to make a pesto and incorporate some chicken and pasta for dinner. Jill loves pesto pasta so this should be right down her alley. My grocery stores pine nuts weren’t too attractive so I am going with walnuts instead.


Ingredients:

Basil Pesto
1/2 cup extra virgin olive oil
1/2 cup grated Parmesan cheese
3 cloves of garlic
2 cups of fresh basil leaves
1/4 cup walnuts
1 teaspoon red chili pepper flakes
1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
2 breasts of free range chicken (seasoned, grilled and diced)
1.5 cups of cooked al dente penne pasta
1/2 cup of cherry tomatoes sliced
Grated Parmesan cheese
1 tbs of Butter
1 tbs of AP Flour
1/4 cup of cream
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Directions:
1. Make your pesto by first toasting your walnuts on the stove for a few minutes. Don’t let them burn. et them cool and then add all the Pesto ingredients and blend until smooth. Use Olive Oil and lemon juice to give it the thickness you like.
2. Season your chicken and grill outside of in a pan with olive oil and cook until 160-165k. Remove and when cooled a bit dice it up.
3. Cook pasta per directions but remove about 1 minute before the pasta is al dente. Grain and set aside.
4. Lastly make a basic roux by adding butter and flour, and stir for 2 minutes on medium-low heat until golden brown.
5. Slowly add the cream until smooth. Now add your chicken, pasta and sliced tomatoes.
Slowly add the pesto while stirring. When you get it flavored to your taste add some more parmesan cheese and serve.

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Walnut Basil Pesto Chicken Pasta

  • Servings: 2
  • Time: 2hr 30mins
  • Difficulty: easy
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Walnut Basil Pesto Chicken Pasta

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This spring I built two raised garden beds and tried my hand at a garden of herbs, fruits, and vegetables. It took off like crazy, especially the squash and cucumbers. I continue to learn about the benefits and purposes of pruning. So I have a few basil plants that are massive but I learned they are too leggy and I failed to prune properly. Nothing has flowered, so I caught before it changed flavors. The good news is that I have a boat load of beautiful green basil.

So I am going to make a pesto and incorporate some chicken and pasta for dinner. Jill loves pesto pasta so this should be right down her alley. My grocery stores pine nuts weren’t too attractive so I am going with walnuts instead.


Ingredients:

Basil Pesto
1/2 cup extra virgin olive oil
1/2 cup grated Parmesan cheese
3 cloves of garlic
2 cups of fresh basil leaves
1/4 cup walnuts
1 teaspoon red chili pepper flakes
1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
2 breasts of free range chicken (seasoned, grilled and diced)
1.5 cups of cooked al dente penne pasta
1/2 cup of cherry tomatoes sliced
Grated Parmesan cheese
1 tbs of Butter
1 tbs of AP Flour
1/4 cup of cream
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Directions:
1. Make your pesto by first toasting your walnuts on the stove for a few minutes. Don’t let them burn. et them cool and then add all the Pesto ingredients and blend until smooth. Use Olive Oil and lemon juice to give it the thickness you like.
2. Season your chicken and grill outside of in a pan with olive oil and cook until 160-165k. Remove and when cooled a bit dice it up.
3. Cook pasta per directions but remove about 1 minute before when the pasta is al dente. Grain and set aside.
4. Lastly, make a basic roux by adding butter and flour and stir for 2 minutes on medium-low heat until golden brown.
5. Slowly add the cream until smooth. Now add your chicken, pasta, and sliced tomatoes.
Slowly add the pesto while stirring. When you get it flavored to your taste add some more parmesan cheese and serve.

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Jalapeno Cilantro Sour Cream Chicken Enchiladas

Jalapeno Cilantro Sour Cream Chicken Enchiladas

  • Servings: 6-8
  • Time: 70 mins
  • Difficulty: meh
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Jalapeno Cilantro Sour Cream Chicken Enchiladas

Last night was Taco Tuesday in our house. Which really means we are cooking something Mexican / Tex-Mex or something in a shell or tortilla. I have been trying to bump up the vegetable ratios in my dishes without tripping Jill’s food wires. As she admits her palate is that of a teenage boy. And when you make something with chicken it will be scrutinized heavily. So I was trying to figure what to make and thought I would go the enchilada route because you really can’t see what is in it as easily as you can a taco.

What was unique with these chicken enchiladas was the filling. It had a 4 to 1 ratio of veggies to chicken. Most enchiladas around here are basically chicken only or an occasional onion or pepper. I was going for the Chipotle or Freebirds style burrito in an enchilada form. For the sauce, I hid some avocado in there and covered it up with fresh cilantro, jalapeno, sour cream and buttermilk for some extra tang. You can put whatever you want in yours and you can adjust your sauce the way you want but here is what I did….

Ingredients
2 Free range air chilled chicken breasts
6-8 flour tortillas
Mexican Rice (packaged)
1 cup cooked black beans
2 ears of fire roasted corn
Chopped pickled jalapenos
1/4 cup green chili sauce
1/4 fresh shredded Monterrey Jack
Diced cilantro
1 beer
1 can of fire roasted tomatoes
Cumin
Garlic salt

Sauce
1/2 cup sour cream
1/4 cup buttermilk
2 jalapenos cored
Handful of cilantro
Kosher Salt to taste
1 tbs of butter
1 tbs of flour

Directions:
Prep sucks for me, but it really is what pays off when pulling any meal together. So get chopping. For the filling, you are going to make your rice (stove top / or microwave) and your beans (fresh or canned). Dice the cilantro for the filling. Roast your corn…I did mine over the fire of my burner until blackened and then sliced the kernels off.
The last part of the prep is your chicken. I poached mine in a beer and can of fire roasted tomatoes and let that simmer for about 30mins.

1. Okay, let’s get to cooking. Preheat your oven to 350.
2. Let’s make the sauce first by blending together the cored jalapenos, cilantro, sour cream, and buttermilk. Taste and add salt as needed. It should be smooth and pale green in color.
3. In a sauce pan make a rue by melting butter and flour until light brown. Turn down the heat or turn it off and add the sauce and stir until it thickens up a bit. Set aside.
4. Let’s make the filling by cutting up your cooled chicken into small pieces. You should also have cooled beans, rice, and corn. I diced up the second half of my avocado, cut kernels, and pickled jalapenos. In a large bowl, I added the second cup of sour cream, a small can of diced green chili sauce and then stirred everything together. Taste it and season per your taste buds.
5. Take a 9 x 13 dish and put some of the sauce on the bottom. Thin layer. Take your tortillas and fill them up and then fold them over into an enchilada and lay them down in the sauced dish seem down. When done, spoon the sauce over the top of the enchiladas until mostly coated. Top with Mont Jack cheese and jalapenos and bake for about 20 mins. It’s all cooked at this point so you are baking to heat through and for a little color from the cheese browning.

Creamy Chicken Pesto Pasta

Creamy Chicken Pesto Pasta

  • Servings: 3
  • Time: 30mins
  • Difficulty: easy
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Creamy Chicken Pesto Pasta

I ran across this recipe on another blog and when I was cooking according to her directions, I found myself immediately deviating from her directions. This actually turned out as a great creamy, herby pasta dish that comes together in about 20-30 minutes. So if want a departure from your typical pasta dish but not skimp on flavor this one might be a good fit.

I still have a case of the blog blahs and in perfect form, I thought I took pictures last night but didn’t have my card in my camera…doh. So picture if you will, a creamy pasta dish resembling a looser alfredo sauce but packed with herbs, spinach and grape tomatoes. Additionally, some sliced pieces of bite sized chicken that replaced a meatball.

The recipe that I followed used evaporated milk which I did do but wouldn’t do it again. Instead, I would use whole milk, cream or even a dollop of cream cheese or something. Also, she suggested covering your chicken with pesto prior to cooking. I found that it started to burn the pesto. So much so, that when I removed my chicken I had to deglaze the pan with water and start from scratch missing out of on those lovely chicken bits and juices. I also amped up the parmesan cheese to compensate for the evaporate milk.

Last note, I have been falling in love with my grocery store salad bar. Instead of buying vegetables that I wouldn’t always use, I load up on the vegetables I want to cook that night. I added spinach, grape tomatoes, sliced red onion and a few mushrooms.

My recipe should deliver a super fast but delicious meal.

Ingredients:
Free Range Chicken Breasts
Fresh Basil
Fresh Pesto (store bought)
a handful of fresh spinach
a handful sliced grape tomatoes
small amount of sliced red onion from salad bar.
4 cloves of garlic
Cooked spaghetti (al dente)
1 cup whole milk or cream
1/4 cup chicken stock
3 tbs of grated parmesan cheese (use more or less to your taste)
1 tbs butter
1 tbs flour
Kosher Salt
Black Pepper
pinch of cayenne pepper

Directions:
Needed: Two pots: one for the sauce and chicken and one for boiling the pasta.
1. Start boiling the water for your pasta.
2. Lightly salt and pepper your chicken breasts. I tenderized them with a mallet to flatten them out to an even thickness. I heated a pan with olive oil on medium heat. The idea is to put a little color on them. Cook three to four minutes each side and remove them to rest.
2. Make a roux by adding the butter and flour in the same pot of the removed chicken. When it turns light brown, go ahead and add your minced garlic, red onion, and halved grape tomatoes and stir for one minute.
3. Add the chicken stock and loosen everything up. Turn down the heat to low and then add the pesto, the cream/milk and parm. Stir until the sauce thickens.
4. Cook your pasta according to the package in salted water. While it cooks cut the chicken breast on the bias and then add the sliced chicken back into the sauce and continue to stir.
5. When your pasta is cooked al dente, remove it, drain it and add the pasta into the sauce pot. Now add in your spinach and basil until nicely wilted but not over cooked. Serve and top with some fresh shaved parm and torn basil.

Asian Chicken Lettuce Cup-Rice-Bowl

Asian Chicken Lettuce Cup-Rice-Bowl

  • Servings: 4
  • Time: 30mins
  • Difficulty: easy
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Asian Chicken Lettuce Cup-Rice-Bowl
If you have followed me, you know I really like Asian Fusion foods and crave them several times a week. My lovely, on the other hand, doesn’t share my enthusiasm. She likes it but doesn’t crave it like I do. I’ve made chicken lettuce wraps more times than I can count and I love them. The cool lettuce with the spicy salty ground chicken It’s such a simple, flavorful, quick and fairly healthy depending on what you put into it (or don’t). My suspicion with jill’s tepid interest in the lettuce cup lies in the lettuce as a vehicle. It’s messy, or at least mine is messy.

As I mentioned in my last post, Jill bought me Chrissy Teigen’s cookbook at her book fair. As with all my cookbooks, I go through every page and tag the ones I want to try. So I took her base sauce and added some extra veggies and will toy with making a rice lettuce bowl like you would get at Chipotle and add the chicken on it to see if I can move Jill’s needle or determine if the lettuce cup is the culprit of indifference.

Results: So I made this recipe this week and used Chrissy Teigen’s sauce recipes but added some additional vegetables and instead of serving it atop a lettuce cup, I just added it to a bowl for my wife. Flavor was good but I like my recipe a little better due to the peanut sauce but I loved the spicy notes. I didn’t like the bowl idea and would go back to the lettuce wrap. I also didn’t like the mushroom addition and I thought there was too much ginger. But I will be making lettuce wraps in future but using my recipe with a few tips from Chrissy’s book on the sauce.

Ingredients:
Sauce
3 Tbsp. GF Thai sweet chili sauce
3 Tbsp. GF hoisin sauce
3 Tbsp. light GF soy sauce
2 Tbsp. Sriracha
2 Tbsp. vegetable oil
1 tsp. sesame oil
1½ Tbsp. GF unseasoned rice vinegar
2 Tbsp. minced garlic (about 4 cloves)
1 Tbsp. minced fresh ginger

Filling
1 lb. ground chicken
3 Tbsp. vegetable oil
8 scallions, thinly sliced, whites and greens kept separate
3 cloves of minced garlic
1 Tbsp. minced fresh ginger
1 Tbsp. of minced jalapeno
4 tbs of minced carrots
4 tbs of diced mushrooms
½ cup finely diced water chestnuts
3 tbs finely diced red bell pepper
Fresh Cilantro
Prepared Rice
Butter Leaf Lettuce (torn)

Directions:
1. Prepare the sauce by mincing everything and then mixing with the wet ingredients. Set aside 2 tbs for browning the ground chicken. img_1051

2. As with most stir-fry type dishes, they go really quickly so go ahead and cut up all your veggies and put them into three different bowls. (hard= carrots, bell pepper, ginger, medium jalapeno, white parts of scallions, mushroom and garlic, soft= cilantro, green onion parts). img_1049

3. Mix in 2 tsp of the sauce into the ground chicken. In a medium heated wok or skillet add some oil and your ground chicken and cook until brown. 5-6 minutes. and remove from the pan.

4. Now for the veggies. Add some oil back to the pan and start by adding the “hard” veggies first and stir and cook for about a minute. Then add your medium and stir for another minute. img_1052

5. Add the chicken back into the pan with the “hard” and “medium” veggies and pour in the rest of the sauce.

6. Right before plating add the cilantro and green onions.
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7. Remove from heat and give it one more stir. To plate the dish, I tore up the lettuce and put it on the bottom of the bowl and then layered on the rice and topped it with the chicken mixture.
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Thai Noodle and Beef Salad

Thai Noodle and Beef Salad

  • Servings: 2
  • Time: 30mins
  • Difficulty: easy
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Thai Noodle and Beef Salad
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We often frequent our local Houston’s on Sunday evenings and enjoy sitting at the bar enjoying a drink and dinner. They have this Thai Noodle Salad that is really good. It has a lot of veggies with a pop of mango. What really pushes this salad over the top is the beef. It’s high quality, super lean and tender. The other night she encouraged me to try her beef and it was so good that it encouraged me to try to make it on my own. I poked around looking for Thai Noodle Salads and found one I like that served as my base and then made adjustments.

It turned out really delicious. The zing from the dressing along with the sweet mango and savory meat makes for a really harmonious meal. I used udon noodles so this would satisfy as gluten free as long as your soy sauce is also GF. If you are looking to try something fresh, colorful, healthy and delicious give it a try.

adapted from Savorybites
Ingredients:

Ingredients:

Dressing
3 tbs fresh lime juice
3 tbs of soy sauce
3 tbs Sriracha
1 tbs fish sauce
Dash of sesame oil
1 tbs of grapeseed oil
1 large clove minced garlic
1 tbs light brown sugar

Marinade for the Beef
1/4 cup of soy sauce
1 tbs fish sauce
1 tbs Sriracha
Dash of sesame oil
1 tbs of grapeseed oil
1 large clove minced garlic
3 tbs of minced ginger
1 tbs light brown sugar

Salad Ingredients:
10 oz of beef filet Mignon
Udon egg noodles for two (30%-40% of package)
1 large handful of spinach
Handful of sliced cherry tomatoes
1/4 cup of finely diced red onion
1 large handful shredded red cabbage
1 large handful of cilantro
1 small julienned carrot
1 diced mango
A handful of pistachos

Directions:
1. Mix your dressing and marinade ingredients separately. Dice your beef into large bite sized pieces and add your marinade to a zip lock baggy and let it rest for 6-12hours. Place your dressing in the refrigerator.

2. Cut all you salad ingredients accordingly and set them aside. (don’t dress it yet)

3. Cook your noodles according to the package. These cook quickly (4mins) and you don’t want soggy noodles. Pull them immediately and rinse with cold water until the noodles are cool. Set them aside.

4. Lastly the steak. In a Medium-Medium High heated cast iron skillet you want to take your beef from the marinade and shake it and remove any of the ginger and garlic. This is a nice piece of meat so don’t over cook it. The goal is to sear it for a nice crust. I had to remove some of the liquid once in the process because if the pan is wet it wont get that sear you will want.

5. Assembly. So now you have your cooked noodles, cut veggies and seared steak. In a large bowl slowly spoon your dressing into the veggie mix. Stir or toss your dressed veggies and then add your noodles. Stir/Toss until coated. Taste and add dressing until you get it right(not over dressed or soggy). Plate your dressed veggies/mango and noodles. Place the steak on top of the salad and garnish with pistachios or peanuts.
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Knock off Chuys Chicka Chicka Boom Boom Sauce

Chuy's Chicka Chicka Boom Boom Enchiladas

  • Servings: 4-8
  • Time: 50mins
  • Difficulty: easy
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Chuy’s Chicka Chicka Boom Boom Enchiladas
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We take our TexMex or Texican food pretty seriously. When I first started going to the funky little joint, they had a Wednesday special they called “Chicka Chicka Boom Boom” which is a pulled chicken burrito covered in a spicy queso sauce served with rice and beans. I used to make sure that when I traveled to Austin, TX I did so around Wednesday’s because I loved it so much.

Chuy’s has expanded and also put the popular dish permanently on their menu so you can always get it. It is spicy and some have commented on some of my recipes that they were too spicy. This is a recipe you will need to alter if you are heat sensitive.

Ingredients
10 corn or flour tortillas
1 1/4 lbs cooked chicken (poached in stock)
Chicken Stock

Boom Boom Sauce
1/2 cup vegetable broth
1/4 cup beer
1/2 oz lime juice
3/4 lb roasted poblano’s
4-6 roasted tomatillos
1 1/2 ounces cilantro
4 bunches of green onion
3/4 oz serrano pepper
1 1/4 lbs American cheese

Directions
Prep: Cut and clean your tomatillos, poblano’s, onion, serano pepper.

1. Preheat your oven to 450 degrees and place your onion, peppers and tomatillos on a sheet pan and blister them.
2. You can either buy a roasted chicken or take your chicken and poach it in a pot on medium heat in chicken stock. Almost covering it completely. When done, shred chicken.
3. Add all your peppers (seeds removed), tomatillos and onions into a blender with the liquids. Give it a spin until smooth.
4. Now pour that mixture into a pot and heat it up on medium low heat until simmering slowly. Remove from heat and slowly add your cheese while continuing to stir to blend it. Don’t let it seize up on you. IMG_0974
5. I took my tortilla and stuffed it with chicken and then rolled it and hit it on the stove to mark it. Then I covered in the boom boom sauce. IMG_0976
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Coconut Fried Shrimp with Mango Sauce and Coconut Pineapple Rice

Coconut Fried Shrimp with Mango Sauce and Coconut Pineapple Rice

  • Servings: 2-6
  • Time: 60 mins
  • Difficulty: easy
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Coconut Fried Shrimp with Mango Sauce and Coconut Pineapple Rice
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Last Saturday on Foodnetwork’s “The Kitchen” they did a show titled “Winter Escape” where they made food from the Caribbean. You know lots of coconut and Pineapple flavored stuff. They brought in Caribbean chef named Julius Jackson
who made some of his coconut fried shrimp with the mango dipping sauce. It just looked and sounded really good to me so I gave it try. Sunny did a marinated skewered pork with a side of coconut pineapple baked rice. So I made that too.

I was an admitted shrimp hater when I heard them described as the roaches of the sea but I came back around and now will have them on occasion. One of the best things about them is how fast and easy they are to cook. You can whip up a batch in no time.

This turned out well. My only complaint was my crust didn’t stick as well as I wanted. I didn’t have enough oil to submerge the shrimp so it’s really my fault because I had to jack with them while cooking to make sure they fried evenly. So I likely did most of the damage but the crust that did stick was delicious with that pop of sweet and chewy coconut shreds in the batter. I thought the sauce was good but a little too tangy and could have used a little more sugar and more heat. As for the rice it turned out great with this mellow coconut back not with a punch of sweet from the pineapple. Also this was the first time I baked rice outside of a casserole and it turned out nice and fluffy. I hope you enjoy it.

Ingredients:
6-10 Shrimp per person (peeled, deveined, butterflied, tail in tact)
Peanut or Vegetable Oil to cover 5 shrimp at a time.

Batter (wet)
3 eggs
1/2 cup of coconut milk
1/4 cup of Sriracha
pinch of Cayenne
2 tsp of Paprika
Kosher Salt

Batter (Dry)
1 cup of flour
1/4 cup + of sweetened shredded coconut
1 tbs of corn starch
1 tbs of white sugar
1 tbs of paprika
1 tsp of cayenne

Mango Sauce
1 mango skinned and diced
2 limes juiced
1 tbs of sugar
1/4 cup of Sriracha (less if you want)

Coconut Rice
1 cup of Jasmine Rice
2 tbs of Butter
1/2 cup of coconut milk
1 cup of water
1/2 cup of canned diced pineapple
pinch of cumin
2 pinches of Paprika
Pinch of Kosher Salt and Pepper

Directions:
1. The rice takes the longest so I started with it by preheating my oven to 350 degrees. In a sauce pan heat up the coconut milk, butter, water and spices until they simmer. Rinse your rice until it becomes clear. Pour the rice into your simmering liquid and then pour that mixture into a 8 x 8 baking dish. Add the pineapple and spread everything until its even. Cover tightly with foil and cook in the over for about 30 minutes. Don’t peak until 25 minutes passes.

2. For the shrimp.. heat your oil in a pot that will contain/fry about 5 shrimp a time without touching. You want your oil to heat to 350-375. Your shrimp are likely going to be cold so take that into account. I mixed my wet batter ingredients in one pie dish and the dry batter ingredients in another pie dish.

As I shelled, deveined and butterflied my shrimp, I placed them into my wet batter mixture as if it were a sort of marinade. If you haven’t deveined shrimp I will try to describe it but you could also probably find a video on youtube. I grip the tail and remove the shell keeping the last part of the shell in tact near the tail’s end. Carefully with a sharp and small knife make strokes right in the middle of the curled side of the shrimp. You will see the vein and simply grab it and pull it out and should remove in one piece. Small stroke your knife until the large part of the shrimp lays flat on that big end. The reason for this is it not only looks cool but it gives you more surface area so you have more crust.

3. Once your oil is hot, take five shrimp at a time and remove them from the wet batter and put them into the dry batter until fully coated. Carefully lay them into the oil and cook for about 3-5 minutes when the crust is nicely browned. Remove them and place them on a wire wrack to drain. Work in batches until done.
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4. For the sauce I put everything in a blender and blended until smooth.

Fluff your rice and plate everything up. Enjoy.
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