Category Archives: Super Bowl Food

Roasted Veggie Salsa

Salsa is my favorite condiment. It goes way beyond chips for me. It goes in omelets and frittatas, it goes in salads, it lands on top of chicken and fried potatoes. It gets eggs poached in it like this. I almost always have a batch of it in my fridge. You never know when you’ll need some.

It may be the first week of fall, but the weather is still nice and farmer’s market (at least here in Oregon) still has beautiful tomatoes. All of the ingredients for this showed up in one of my weekly farm boxes and on the grill and into the fridge it went immediately. This is a great way to use up ripe tomatoes if you have a bunch. After you turn them into salsa they last for weeks. If you don’t happen to have fresh tomatoes, or if you read this in the middle of winter when there are no good ones available, just use a can of fire-roasted diced tomatoes instead. It works like a charm, and best of all, you can always have one hiding in your pantry for when the salsa monster rears its head.

This recipe is very similar to my normal, un-roasted veggie version, but kissing those veggies with a little heat and getting that char flavor in there does add more depth and oomph. Take the extra few minutes and give it a shot!

I need more chip to dip.

I need more chip to dip.

Roasted Veggie Salsa

1/3 – 1/2 red onion, cut in big wedges
1 jalapeno (or less if you don’t like it spicy)
4-5 tomatillos, peel husks and wash
3-4 tomatoes (or you can use a can of fire-roasted tomatoes)
1-2 cloves garlic, peeled
1/2 tsp. cumin
1/2 tsp. salt
A handful of fresh cilantro (1/3-1/2 cup or so)
1-2 tbsp. fresh lime juice

Veggies on the grill pan. You could also do them on an actual grill, or under the broiler.

Veggies on the grill pan. You could also do them on an actual grill, or under the broiler.

Heat a grill pan (or grill, or broiler) and coat with cooking spray. Lay out all your vegetables. Let them grill until they are starting to turn black. Turn once or twice to cook on other sides. Your onion may stay in a wedge or it might fall apart. It will be fine either way. Put everything in a blender. Add seasonings, lime juice and cilantro. Blend until everything is chopped and combined. If you prefer a coarser salsa, pulse in a food processor instead of using the blender.

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Cornbread Jalapeño Poppers

I know you’ve been searching for that perfect thing to share with the gang while you watch football.  Or to eat all by yourself while you watch football.  Or while you watch Grey’s Anatomy.  Whatever floats your boat.  In any case, quality snackage is a priority!

I saw a similar recipe to this on Pinterest and added a few of my own touches.  They were easy to make, and soooo delicious!  If you don’t like it spicy, you probably won’t like these.  They definitely have a kick!  If you like the idea but not the heat, you could also use baby sweet peppers, or do a combo if you are making them for a group.

If you’re using jalapenos, I would definitely recommend wearing gloves during preparation.  Otherwise, you may find yourself with stinging fingers for a bit.  I’ve often said I thought they should sell these in the produce department, right next to the peppers.  Alas, “they” don’t listen to me.  I found mine at the pharmacy.

Cornbread Jalapeno Poppers.  So good!

Cornbread Jalapeño Poppers. So good!

Cornbread Jalapeño Poppers

12 (or however many you want) jalapenos
1 box cornbread mix (I use Jiffy, but any will work)
Milk & eggs needed for mix (for Jiffy this is one egg and 1/3 cup of milk)
1 tbsp. honey
1 cup corn kernels
3-4 ounces cream cheese

Heat oven to 400 degrees.  Line a baking sheet with foil and spray with cooking spray.  Slice each jalapeno down the middle length-wise.

Slice the jalapenos.  I highly recommend wearing gloves.

Slice the jalapenos. I highly recommend wearing gloves.

Clean out the seeds and membranes.  As you can see, I’m not a perfectionist when it comes to this part.  I leave the stems on because it makes a nice little handle.

Little jalapeno boats.  They don't have to be perfect.

Little jalapeno boats. They don’t have to be perfect.

Smear the inside of each pepper with cream cheese.  You can use a spoon or knife, but I found it was easier to use my fingers.  Just grab a little bit and smoosh it in there.

This little touch definitely stepped up the yummy factor.  Mmmm!

This little touch definitely stepped up the yummy factor. Mmmm!

Mix up cornbread mixture according to package instructions.  Add honey and corn and stir to combine.  Put a little cornbread mixture in each pepper half.  Don’t overfill or it will spill out all over as it cooks.  I had a few that were more cornbread blob with jalapeno in there somewhere (still delicious but not as pretty).  I had a little leftover cornbread mix, so I made a few mini muffins for the non-pepper lovers.

Don't go crazy with the filling if you want attractive poppers.

Don’t go crazy with the filling if you want attractive poppers.

Bake for 15 minutes or so, until lightly browned on the top.

If you have any left in the morning, they make dandy scrambled eggs.  Simply chop up and scramble with a couple of eggs in a hot skillet.

Good morning to me!

Good morning to me!

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Spicy Homemade Taco Pizza

My baby brother (one of them) was born when I was 14.  Now while that was all very exciting, the part leading up to that was pretty cool too.  That was the part where my mom was craving Godfather’s taco pizza and raspberry ripple ice cream.  We ate a lot of taco pizza that summer.  Ever since that time, I have loved it.  These days, I hardly ever see it offered at pizza places, and when I do, it’s just not the same.  So, as I am wont to do, when I was having a craving recently I just made up my own.  I saw a recipe somewhere where the dressing was drizzled on top and I thought that was a pretty great idea so I copied that idea on mine.  Added a nice spicy zip!

If you are lucky enough to have a Trader Joe’s in the vicinity, check out their fresh pizza dough, which you can find in the produce section.  Otherwise, use the brand you like best (or make your own).

Now…where can I find some raspberry ripple ice cream?

Spicy Homemade Taco Pizza

Spicy Homemade Taco Pizza

Spicy Homemade Taco Pizza

Pizza Crust (I use the fresh pizza dough from Trader Joe’s, but use your favorite)
1/2 pound ground beef
1 can pinto beans, drained and rinsed
1/4 cup chopped onion
1 clove garlic, minced
1 tsp. cumin
1 tsp. chili powder
4 oz. can green chiles
1 cup crushed tomatoes (canned or fresh)
1/2 jalapeno, minced (leave out if you don’t like it spicy)
1 cup shredded cheddar cheese
1 cup shredded lettuce
1 large tomato, diced
Salt
Sliced black olives
1/2 cup sour cream
Juice of one lime
2 tbsp. hot sauce (I used Cholula)

Preheat oven to 425˚.  Line a baking sheet with foil or parchment.  Press out pizza dough with your fingers until it’s the thickness you like.

Heat a large skillet over medium heat.  Add ground beef and onion and cook until beef is no longer pink.  Add beans, garlic, cumin, chili powder and green chiles. Stir and sort of mash the beans into the mixture. Cook until heated through.  Set aside.

Mix crushed tomato and minced jalapeno.  Spread over pizza crust.

tacopizza

Spread meat mixture over tomato sauce.

tacopizza2

Sprinkle shredded cheese over the top of the meat mixture.  Bake for 10-15 minutes until crust is browned on the bottom, and crispy around the edges.

tacopizza3

Remove from oven and spread lettuce, tomatoes and olives over the top.  Whisk together sour cream, lime juice and hot sauce.  Drizzle over the top of pizza (you can do this with a spoon or put in a ziplock bag and snip off a corner).  Cut into squares and eat up!

tacopizza5

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Grandma’s Secret Ingredient

My family takes potato salad very seriously.  It’s not unusual to find four or five bowls of the stuff at any family reunion or potluck.  And they are all roughly based on the same recipe.  My grandma’s potato salad.  A recipe that was probably never written down so we all remember it the same but each make it slightly different with our own little twists.  But we all use her “secret” ingredient, and even in all the differences, they taste very similar.

My version uses red potatoes and red onion, and a little dash of dill.  But the real secret to Grandma’s potato salad is pickle juice.  You can bet that in the depths of every family member’s fridge there lives a jar of dill pickles (and even if the pickles are gone the jar of juice is still there).

potatosalad3

I’ll be honest and tell you that I’ve never measured the ingredients for this salad.  The other secret to perfect potato salad is to taste as you go.  Start with small amounts of the saucy ingredients, then add and tweak until it’s juuuuust right.  Just like Grandma would do.  Mine might not be exactly the same as hers but I think I’ve hit the high points and I’d like to think she’d be proud of my efforts.  I’m sure she would tell me she was in any case (don’t tell my cousins but I’m pretty sure I was her favorite).  I’d give just about anything to share a bowl of this with her right now.

Potato salad my Grandma Garner would be proud of.

Potato salad my Grandma Garner would be proud of.

Grandma’s Potato Salad (the April version)

4-5 pounds red potatoes
1/2 -3/4 cup red onion, finely chopped
2-3 stalks celery, finely chopped
4-5 boiled eggs, roughly chopped
3/4 cup chopped dill pickles (I like the crunchy baby dills)
3/4 cup black olives, halved (optional if you like olives)
1/2 cup+ mayonnaise (I strongly prefer the Best Foods/Helmann’s brand)
A big squirt of yellow mustard
1/4 cup+ dill pickle juice
A big pinch of salt and freshly ground pepper
1 tsp. fresh or dried dill
Dash of paprika

Cut potatoes into thick slices (2-3 pieces per potato).  If you choose to use russet potatoes instead, cut them like this, boil, cool and THEN peel them.  Makes a big difference in the texture.

Slicing the potatoes instead of chopping makes a big difference in texture!  Chop after they are cooked, not before.

Slicing the potatoes instead of chopping makes a BIG difference in texture! Chop after they are cooked, not before.

Cover with water and cook until fork tender but not mushy.  Drain water and rinse to cool, drain again and set aside until cool enough to handle. Slice/chop potatoes into a large bowl (you can peel them if you want but I don’t).

I use a rough slice/chop method instead of your normal dice.  I like the variety of texture you get with some mashed bits and some bigger chunks.

I use a rough slice/chop method instead of your normal dice. I like the variety of texture you get with some mashed bits and some bigger chunks.

Add onion, celery, eggs, pickles and olives and stir to mix.  Add a couple of big spoonfuls of mayo, a big squirt of mustard and pour in the pickle juice.  Sprinkle with salt, pepper, dill and paprika.  Swirl the sauce and seasonings together a bit and then mix into the potato mixture.  Mix well, kind off mixing/mashing together to really blend the saucy stuff into the potatoes.  Then taste.  Is it too dry?  Add mayo.  Too bland?  Add mustard.  Need a little more zing?  More pickle juice.  Make sure you have enough salt and pepper.

This is the look you're going for.  Not goopy, but not dry.  Use enough mayo to moisten all the ingredients but don't overdo it.  In the end you want the potato to be the star of the dish, not the mayo.

This is the look you’re going for. Not goopy, but not dry. Use enough mayo to moisten all the ingredients but don’t overdo it. In the end you want the potato to be the star of the dish, not the mayo.

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April’s Famous Salsa

I recently reconnected with my stepbrother after a number of years.  The first thing he told me (not kidding!) was that in all the years since we’d seen each other he had yet to find a salsa that measured up to mine.  A proud moment for me as a big sister, a cook, and a salsa lover.  🙂

And he’s not wrong.  Not to toot my own horn (okay, maybe a little), but this stuff is pretty awesome.

You can make this chunky by just pulsing in a food processor, or smoother by using a blender.  For this batch, I used the blender.  During the height of tomato season I use fresh tomatoes, but most of the year canned tomatoes work just fine.  I especially like the newish “fire-roasted” diced tomato variety, for a little extra smoky flavor.  You can also roast the veggies before throwing them in for an extra smoky finish as well.

April's Famous Salsa

April’s Famous Salsa

April’s Famous Salsa

1/2 cup red or yellow onion, coarsely chopped
1/2 – 1 jalapeno, (green or red or a bit of both – stemmed & seeded)
3-4 tomatillos, husked and quartered
2 cloves garlic
1 tbsp. lime juice
1/2 tsp. salt
1 tsp. cumin
1 handful fresh cilantro (about 1/3 – 1/2 cup)
1 can diced (fire-roasted or regular) tomatoes (or use 3-4 large ripe tomatoes, coarsely chopped)

In a blender or food processor, add onion, jalapeno, garlic, tomatillos, lime juice and cilantro.  Pulse or puree (pulse for chunkier texture, puree for smoother salsa).  Scrape down sides and add tomatoes, salt and cumin.  Pulse to combine.  Check texture and blend more if you’d like it smoother.  Taste for seasoning and adjust if needed.

Makes about 2 cups.  Store in an airtight container.  This will keep in the fridge for 2-3 weeks (if it lasts that long!).

April's Famous Salsa.  I eat this on just about everything.

April’s Famous Salsa. I eat this on just about everything.

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Can’t Stop Eating Hot Wings!

It’s been a fairly healthy week of eating for me.  Rainbow chard, roasted beets, veggies and hummus.  And after all that…I’ll admit it.  I needed some hot wings.

Spicy, messy, sauce on your face, make your nose run wings!  There is no substitute for hot wings that will give one the same satisfaction.  I don’t make them very often, but when I do, holy cow they are yummy.  Afterward, I sit, looking at the pile of bones stacked on my plate, with my lips still stinging, and feel sticky, blissful happiness.

I make my wings slightly healthier by baking them, but I don’t delude myself into thinking this is health food by any means.  Still, in moderation, I think it’s okay to eat just about anything once in a while.  That being said, make more than you think you’ll need because I guarantee you will want some more!

Independence Day is coming up, and I promise these will be a perfect addition to any barbecue, potluck or picnic.  Bring extra napkins.

Can't Stop Eating Hot Wings!

Can’t Stop Eating Hot Wings!

Can’t Stop Eating Hot Wings!

2 pounds chicken wings (split into wing and drum sections if they aren’t already)
2 tbsp. butter
1/4 cup barbecue sauce
1/2 cup Frank’s Red Hot sauce (not the wing sauce, just the original kind) plus more for drizzling
1 tbsp. honey
Red Hot and olive oil for drizzling
Salt & pepper

Preheat oven to 400˚. Line a baking sheet with foil and spray with cooking spray.  Spread out wings in a single layer.  Sprinkle with salt and pepper.  Drizzle with a bit of olive oil.  Shake some Red Hot on the wings.  Bake 20 minutes, turn wings, shake some hot sauce on the other side, bake another 20 minutes.

As if the sauce wasn't enough, I drizzle with hot sauce to bake some of the flavor right into the wings before they take their saucy dip.

As if the sauce wasn’t enough, I drizzle with hot sauce to bake some of the flavor right into the wings before they take their saucy dip.

In a large pan over low heat, combine butter, barbecue sauce, Red Hot and honey.  Stir to combine.  When butter is melted and sauce is hot you can turn off the heat.  Remove wings from the oven and toss in the sauce.  Serve hot!

These paired beautifully with my Italian-ish Pasta Salad on the side.  Cool and refreshing to contrast with hot and sticky.  Mmmm.

Wings with a side of pasta salad.  Yum.

Wings with a side of pasta salad. Yum.

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Going Green…Chili Style!

Just when I thought I had used up all my shredded pork, a gift came in the form of a gallon bag of shredded smoked pork from my uncle.  Not one to look a gift pig in the mouth, I divided it into a few containers and stuck it in the freezer to be doled out to my family at a later date.  Of course I had to cook some of it right away.  And it tastes amazing!  If you aren’t lucky enough to have people giving you pork, you can use leftovers from my basic pork roast recipe, or simply throw in a small pork roast or some chops.  Since this is a crock pot recipe they will cook up just fine over the course of the day.

When I went to school in Denver, I discovered the best Mexican food I’ve ever had the pleasure of eating.  The general thinking there is to smother just about everything in green chili.  And I am okay with that!  And if you don’t feel like eating it over the top of a burrito, a nice bowl of it works just fine.  As opposed to most other places I’ve lived, in that style of cooking the green sauce is more spicy; the red sauce is the mild stuff.  I didn’t have a recipe for green chili, so I just winged it and was very pleased with the results!  Since we were planning to eat this as a soup/stew, I made this version chunkier than I remember, and added some black beans.  Not that that will stop me from using the leftovers to smother something – like a breakfast burrito!  Serve with rice and warm tortillas.

That's what I'm talkin' about!

That’s what I’m talkin’ about!

Pork Green Chili

5-6 Anaheim Chiles
3-4 Poblano or Padilla Peppers
6 cloves garlic, thinly sliced or minced
3-4 cups shredded or chopped pork*
1 onion, diced
1 1/2 pounds tomatillos, husked and quartered
4 cups chicken broth
1 can black beans, drained and rinsed
Salt to taste
2-3 tsp. ground cumin
Rice & tortillas for serving if desired

Looking yummy already!  Tomatillos and peppers.

Looking yummy already! Tomatillos and peppers.

Seed peppers.  You can do this to the small ones by cutting of the top, turning upside down and rolling between your hands or shaking out the seeds.  Or you can cut them in half and remove the seeds that way.

All ready to roast.

All ready to roast.

Lay out on a baking sheet and broil for 4-5 minutes per side until skin is blackened.

Leave them in there until the skin is nice and black.  It will peel right off once it is cool.

Leave them in there until the skin is nice and black. It will peel right off once it is cool.

Place in a paper or plastic bag to steam and cool.  When cool enough to handle, remove skins and coarsely chop peppers.

Add all ingredients to crock pot.  Turn on high for a 2-3 hours, then turn down to low and cook until dinner time.  Taste and adjust seasonings if needed.

* If you don’t have a bunch of leftover shredded pork in your freezer, feel free to use a small pork roast, or pork chops.  Just put the meat on the bottom of the crock pot and pile everything else on top.  At the end of the day, take a couple of forks and pull the meat apart into shreds or chunks and remove any bones before serving.

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The Sleepover Solution: Build Your Own Pizza Bar

The giggling still echoes in my ears.  Four thirteen-year-old girls can make a lot of noise.  And apparently require almost no sleep.  In any case I know one thing:  A key element of a successful sleepover is the food.  The build your own pizza bar is one we’ve done a couple times and it’s always a rousing success.  Not only is it delicious, but it’s also a fun activity for the kids, no matter what age they are.

While this is perfect kid food, I’ve been known to do this with my grown up friends too.  Everybody gets just what they like, and it’s great if you have a group that includes vegetarians, or others on a special diet.  I love to use the little ciabatta rolls, or a french baguette cut into pieces. If you have gluten-free or low-carb folks in your group you can use gluten free buns, stuff toppings in a pepper half or toss with salad greens for a pizza salad.

We followed up with Frost Your Own Cupcakes for dessert. Yum!

Our masterpieces!

Our masterpieces!

Build Your Own Pizzas

Ciabatta rolls or French baguette, cut into 3-4″ pieces.
Pizza sauce
Pesto (I like to offer an alternative to tomato sauce in case of allergies, etc.)
Mozzarella
Assorted pizza toppings of your choice.  We used:
Banana pepper rings
Sliced red & yellow peppers
Pepperoni
Olives

The pizza bar.  It can be simple or elaborate.  Basic or gourmet.  It's up to you!

The pizza bar. It can be simple or elaborate. Basic or gourmet. It’s up to you!

Put all the ingredients out, make sure you have plenty of utensils for spreading and scooping ingredients.  Have everybody wash their hands first and then make their own pizzas.  Preheat the oven to 400˚.  Lay out a baking sheet or two on which to place the finished masterpieces.  I always recommend they put some sort of marker on their pizzas so they will know which ones are theirs, or just remember where they put it.

Bake for 8-10 minutes, until the cheese is melted and starting to brown on top.  Remove from oven and let cool a minute or so.  Clear out while the hungry horde descends.

 

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April’s Chocolate Chunk Cookies

I don’t have any cookies in my house at the moment.  If I had them, I would eat them.  I have no self-control when it comes to cookies.  So I don’t make them often.  When I do, they do a very quick disappearing act, because they are (if I do say so myself) spectacular.

These are one of my favorite cookies to make.  My little spin on your basic chocolate chip cookie.  I used to use half butter and half margarine or butter flavored crisco to make them a little fluffier.  But these days, I’m using less and less “fake” food, which margarine is in my book (did you know it’s chemically very similar to plastic?) so now I use all butter.  I think they taste better, but they do tend to come out a bit more flat.  I don’t really have a problem with that, although they are not quite as pretty.  But they still taste wonderful and I would happily sit down and eat a whole plate of them, were they here.  It might be time to bake another batch.

Right now, I’m craving a cookie.

A stack of cookie love.

A stack of cookie love.

April’s Chocolate Chunk Cookies

2 1/4 cup flour
1 tsp. baking soda
1 tsp. salt
1/2 tsp. cinnamon
1 cup butter (2 sticks, slightly softened)
3/4 cup sugar
3/4 cup brown sugar
1 tsp. finely grated orange rind
1 tsp. vanilla
2 eggs
6 squares Bakers bittersweet chocolate, chopped up
1/2 – 1 cup walnuts (optional)

Preheat oven to 375˚.  Combine dry ingredients (flour, baking soda, salt & cinnamon) in a small bowl.  Set aside.  In a large bowl beat or stir butter, sugar and brown sugar until creamy.  Add eggs, vanilla, and orange rind.  Beat until combined.  Gradually beat or stir in flour mixture about 1/3 at a time.  Fold in chocolate and nuts.

Chopped bittersweet or semi sweet chocolate.  You could use chocolate chips if you want, but I love how you get varying sizes of chocolate bits with this method.  Some big chunks, some tiny slivers, and a little chocolate dust to flavor the dough.

Chopped bittersweet or semi sweet chocolate. You could use chocolate chips if you want, but I love how you get varying sizes of chocolate bits with this method. Big chunks, tiny slivers, and a little chocolate dust to permeate the dough.

Drop by spoonfuls onto an ungreased baking sheet.  If you prefer you can line your baking sheets with parchment for easier cleanup.  Bake 8-10 minutes until just barely brown around the edges.  Remove from oven.  Using a spatula, transfer cookies to wax paper or cooling racks to cool.  Try not to eat them all at once.

The perfect addition to any tray of treats.

The perfect addition to any tray of treats.

 

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One Pork Roast, 3 Dinners. Day 1: BBQ Pulled Pork Sandwiches

I don’t usually think of kitchen equipment as seasonal, but it’s a fact that during the summer my crock pot is seldom, if ever, used but come winter, that baby is out of hibernation and parked on my kitchen counter.  I’m not really sure why that is but there you have it.

Taking the laziness (or brilliance!) of crock pot cooking one step further, I made a pork roast one day and turned it into three completely separate meals last week.  It worked out so well I think this will be part of my regular winter rotation from now on.  I see no reason you couldn’t replicate any or all of these recipes using a beef roast instead of pork if you have a preference.

porkroast3

Basic Pulled Pork

Basic Pulled Pork Recipe

One 2-3 pound pork butt or shoulder roast
Sea salt & coarsely ground pepper
1 tsp. chili powder
1 tbsp. minced garlic
1 onion, chopped

Rub seasonings all over roast.

porkroast

Pork shoulder roast, all rubbed down and ready to go. (Mine came with a little meat thermometer already in it, but you are going to cook it til it’s falling apart so it’s not really necessary.)

Cover with onions.

porkroast2

Turn slow cooker on high for an hour, and then reduce to low and cook until dinnertime (I cooked mine about 6-7 hours total).  When tender, use two forks to pull pork apart into shreds (…and that’s where you get the whole “pulled” pork thing).

porkroast-BBQ2

BBQ Pulled Pork Sandwich. Simple and delicious!

BBQ Pulled Pork Sandwiches

Pulled pork (about 2 cups)
1/2 – 3/4 cup of bottled BBQ sauce
1 tbsp. honey
1/2 tsp. pepper
Swiss cheese
Kaiser rolls

In a medium-sized bowl, whisk together barbecue sauce, honey and pepper.  Add pork and toss until all the pork is well coated.

porkroast-BBQ

BBQ Pulled Pork

Toast buns under the broiler, adding the cheese right before you take them out so it melts.  Pile on the BBQ pork and eat.  This is awesome served with a crisp coleslaw or green salad.

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