Thursday, March 31, 2011

Oatmeal Coconut Chocolate Chip Cookies

my name is page and i'm addicted to chocolate. or, if i'm being truly honest, sweets in general. my day isn't complete until i've had a little treat.

ok, now that it's off my chest, i am free to nibble on my favorite lindt dark chocolate with sea salt and formulate my next baked good post.

i have noticed something here at good clean fun. the dessert recipes get more love than any other recipes. a lot more. i guess the general population is like me. desserts get them more excited than say, chicken. desserts get consistently more page views and comments. plus, i get requests for desserts more than main courses or sides.

so, i'm guessing that after 4 non-dessert posts, the majority of you all are ready for some sweets. the good news is that this dessert is not only sweet, it includes chocolate, comes in cookie form, and is actually on the healthy side.

look out my friends, there's a new dessert in town. these cookies have oatmeal, coconut, dark chocolate chips and taste amazing. they satisfy my craving for an after dinner sweet (or let's be serious, an afternoon treat) without any guilt. ok, i also ate 3 for breakfast - they were delicious with coffee and strawberries. hey, don't judge me! i admitted i have a problem, isn't that the first step?

Oatmeal Coconut Chocolate Chip Cookies
makes 3 1/2 dozen cookies 
adapted from everyday inspirations

1 large, ripe banana,  mashed
1 tsp vanilla extract
1/2 tsp vanilla bean paste
2 tbs melted butter
1/2 cup no sugar added applesauce
1 egg
2 tbs brown rice syrup
2 cups rolled oats
1 cup whole wheat pastry flour
1/2 cup unsweetened coconut, shredded
1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 cup semi-sweet chocolate chips

preheat oven to 350 degrees F.

stir together banana, vanilla, applesauce, egg, butter, and brown rice syrup.

in a separate bowl, stir together oats, flour, coconut, cinnamon, salt, and chocolate chips. add dry ingredients to wet ingredients and stir until well combined.

drop tablespoons of dough onto parchment lined baking sheets (cookies don't spread much). bake for 10-12 minutes. cool on rack and store in airtight container.

Tuesday, March 29, 2011

Sweet Potato and Black Bean Empanadas

it's meatless monday time again and this week it's one of my all time favorites - empanadas!

ever since our trip to south america in 2008, i have had a soft spot in my tummy for empanadas. i have tried all different varieties including:
leftover thanksgiving turkey empanadas
elk empanadas
creamy chicken empanadas
bison empanadas

i pretty much love anything wrapped up in dough but i think these sweet potato and black bean empanadas might just be my favorite - at least for now. after i made a batch, i had some leftover sweet potato and black bean filling so i sauteed up some ground beef the next night and added it. i can't decided which is better. luckily you can use whichever you prefer. are you are a vegetarian? great! just use the sweet potatoes and black beans. are you a meat lover? perfect! add in ground beef, bison, turkey, or chicken! ahh the versatility of the empanada!

one thing to note, when i am feeling particularly lazy, i use pre-made pie dough. i just roll the round crust out a little thinner and cut out rounds (i use a large glass or small bowl and cut around it). however, when i am feeling extra ambitious, i use this recipe and make the dough (bonus, it's gluten-free!). as you may see from the recipe below, this time, i was lazy. what? come on, it's monday!

Sweet Potato and Black Bean Empanadas
makes 8 empanadas (with a little leftover filling)

1/2 lb ground meat (optional)
1 jalapeno, seeded and minced
1 tbs cumin
1 tsp chili powder
1 tsp ancho chili powder
1 tsp mexican oregano
1 tsp onion powder
1/2 tsp salt
1 cup mashed sweet potatoes
1 cup canned black beans, drained and rinsed
3 green onions, chopped
small bunch fresh cilantro, chopped
1/4 cup salsa
1 egg, lightly beaten
2 refrigerated pie crusts, rolled out as thin as possible

preheat oven to 400 degrees F.

stir together all ingredients except egg and crust. cut 6" rounds into rolled out crust. fill with 1-2 tbs filling and fold over into half moons. crimp with fork and brush with egg wash.repeat with remaining dough.

place on parchment lined baking sheet and bake for 20-25 minutes until golden brown. enjoy hot out of the oven!

p.s. happy birthday to my UB! here's to many, many more:)

Sunday, March 27, 2011

This Weekend

i did the following this weekend:

- drank prosecco before noon

- practically ate my weight in seafood pallela

- cleaned out our basement

- went on a "date" with my husband

- took three naps

- re-did my blog header (if you read my blog in google reader, click here to see my new header - it's the most productive thing i did all weekend!)

Wednesday, March 23, 2011

Lemon Parmesan Kale Salad

a few weeks ago E and i were lucky enough to sneak away for a weekend to warm sunny florida. we both have that beach gene that leaves us grumpy after a long winter without sun, warm breezes, and toes stuffed into socks rather than free to breathe in flip flops.

the best part of the trip, besides the sunshine and lounging poolside with drink in hand was spending time with one of my favorite people on the planet - N. it's hard to believe it was 12 and a half years ago that i met N in my freshman year dorm. we were on the same floor and as soon as i met the cute, petite, british brunette, i had that feeling. you know that rare instance when you meet someone and just know they are going to be a lifelong friend? that feeling. i am blessed to have four wonderful girlfriends from JMU. the five of us have made an effort to stick together and aim to get together at least once a year.

N and me - vegas 2010

it just so happens N is getting married in may and E and i were lucky enough to get a preview of the wedding location while down in miami - the forge. besides having a super cool, eclectic vibe, the food is amazing! we are in for a treat for the wedding dinner. N was raving about their kale salad from the get-go and said we had to order it. now i like kale as much as the next person (ok, i probably like kale more than the average person - there are most likely many a folk out there who don't like kale) but i was skeptical about this so called "kale salad". i mean, raw kale? that can be pretty tough. let me just say there is something to keeping your expectations low like your perfect antidote says. if you keep your expectations low, you will most likely be pleasantly surprised.

this salad knocked my socks off! seriously.

the kale was finely chopped which removed any trace of toughness. the kale was interspersed with currants and pine nuts and dressed with a lemon parmesan dressing. N and i split it and the portions were still fairly big. still, i cleaned up every bite and couldn't wait to recreate it at home.

i don't want to pull a muscle by patting myself on the back but i think i nailed it - first try!

even if you don't like kale, i recommend trying this salad. it's pretty easy to pull together and so refreshing. the tart lemon is balanced by the creamy, salty parmesan and the sweet chewy currants pair perfectly with the crunchy pine nuts. every bite was amazing. i see a lot of this salad in my future this spring and summer.

it. is. excellent. (too bad i have now set the bar too high for you - i need to start taking my own advice:)

thanks N for taking us to the forge and for the kale salad. we can't wait for a repeat visit in may!

now, if i can just recreate the hamburger N had topped with braised short ribs (that's right, meat topped meat) with a side of truffle fries . . .

Lemon Parmesan Kale Salad
serves 4-6

1 large bunch kale, well rinsed
1/2 cup currants
1/3 cup pine nuts, toasted
1/4 cup freshly squeezed lemon juice
1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil
1/4 cup parmesan cheese, preferably freshly and finely grated
1/2 tsp minced garlic
salt and pepper

remove kale from stems and pulse in food processor until chopped. (you don't want to pulverized but you want a fairly fine chop.)

whisk together lemon juice, olive oil, parmesan, garlic, and salt and pepper to taste in a small bowl.

in a large bowl, add chopped kale, currants and pine nuts. add dressing a little at a time and toss well. continue adding dressing until desired consistency is reached. you want the kale to be coated but not swimming in the dressing.

let sit for 5-10 minutes and serve. top with additional grated parmesan, if desired.

Monday, March 21, 2011

Meatless Monday - Tamari Ginger Salmon

i haven't been good about the weekly nightcap on fridays. oops. i guess i tend to drink the same things (i.e. orange martinis and wine) but stay tuned for another fun cocktail this friday. my meatless monday series, however, has a bit more staying power.

this week i changed it up a bit and the protein is the wonderfully, buttery, omega-3 rich wild salmon. after a quick marinade in tamari, garlic, and ginger, the salmon just needed a quick sear on both sides. while the salmon was searing, the stir-fry came together and before i knew it, dinner was finished!

this was a super tasty, super easy weeknight meal. seriously, this meal took less than 15 minutes thanks to some quick brown rice. it's packed with veggies, whole grain, and one of the healthiest fish in the sea. enjoy!

Tamari Ginger Salmon and Stir-Fry
serves 2

12 oz wild salmon
6 tbs tamari, divided
2 tbs minced ginger, divided
2 tbs minced garlic, divided
1 tsp sesame oil
1 tbs vegetable oil
2 cups cooked brown rice
1 cup chopped onions
1 1/2 cups frozen broccoli florets
1 cup snow peas
1 cup bean sprouts

combine 4 tbs tamari, 1 tbs ginger, 1 tbs garlic, and sesame oil in a small shallow dish. place salmon skin side up in dish and let sit in fridge for 5-15 minutes.

meanwhile, heat vegetable oil in wok over medium-high heat. add remaining ginger and garlic. saute 1 minute. add onion and saute 2 minutes, stirring often to prevent burning. add cooked rice and broccoli and cook 1 minute. add 2 tbs tamari and add snow peas and bean sprouts. stir well and turn off heat.

spray medium skillet with pam and heat over medium heat. when pan is hot, add salmon and sear on both sides 1-2 minutes depending on thickness of fish. remove from heat and serve over veggies and rice.

Sunday, March 20, 2011

Whole Wheat Chocolate Shard Cookies

i tend to have some pretty intense food cravings. some things will just pop into my mind and i have to have them right then and there. i tell my poor husband to watch out. if we ever have kids, he better prepare for crazy, irrational cravings. be ready for random late night trips to satisfy a cranky pregnant woman.

today, the craving was chocolate chip cookies. seriously, there is nothing like a warm, just-out-of-the-oven, gooey chocolate chip cookie with a glass of ice cold milk. i have always loved hot and cold things together - chocolate molten lava cake with vanilla ice cream, apple pie and ice cream, cold whipped cream on hot chocolate . . .  the list could go on and on but they all probably include a hot baked good and cold dairy products.

these whole wheat chocolate shard cookies are just what the doctor ordered. i made just a half batch so i wouldn't have too many to eat but now i kinds wish i had made the whole batch (recipe below). they are crazy good and not too grainy even though i used all whole wheat flour. if you really are interested in baking with whole wheat flour, i highly recommend bob's red mill whole wheat pastry flour. i think it's ground finer to avoid too much chewiness or graininess. perhaps you are like me and think things must be healthy if they are 100% whole wheat, right? of course they are - have another!

i certainly give these cookies my seal of approval. now i'm just waiting for my anonymous "unofficial taste tester" to get here so i can get their opinion. something tells me dad - *cough*cough* i mean the mystery testers will love them.

Whole Wheat Chocolate Shard Cookies
makes 4 1/2 dozen cookies
adapted from good to the grain

1 cup (2 sticks) cold unsalted butter, cut into 1" cubes
1 cup dark brown sugar
1/2 cup sugar
2 large eggs
1 tsp vanilla bean paste
2 tsp vanilla extract
3 cups whole wheat pastry flour
1 1/2 tsp baking powder
1 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp salt
8 oz chopped chocolate shards

preheat oven to 350 degrees F.

cream together butter and sugar until combined. add egg and blend to combine. add vanilla paste and extract (if you don't have vanilla bean paste, use 1 tbs vanilla extract).

in a separate bowl, combine dry ingredients (flour, powder, soda, and salt) and slowly add to wet ingredients. blend until just combined. with mixer running on low, add in chocolate until just combined.

drop teaspoon size balls onto parchment lined baking sheets and bake for 13 minutes until edges are just starting to brown. rotate sheets once after 7 minutes.

transfer to wire racks and let cool before storing in airtight container.

optional - warm in microwave for 10-20 seconds before serving if you want that just from the oven taste. enjoy with ice cold milk!

Saturday, March 19, 2011

Bangers and Mash

i hope i still have a couple of people reading on after that title. truth be told, i have never really been dying to make bangers and mash. i wasn't really even planning on posting this. but after one bite, and rave reviews, i had to share it with you.

ireland isn't exactly known for its cuisine like italy, france, greece, or spain. however, i think we can find a couple of gems. (did you read about my irish car bomb cupcakes? those are definitely a keeper although i doubt they actually originated in ireland.) after last night, i am adding bangers and mash to my dinner rotation. they were delicious! choosing the right sausage is probably half the battle. there were so many options at wegmans. i knew i didn't want to go the italian route and i didn't want breakfast sausage so when i saw "wine and cheese" sausage, i knew i had found a winner. they may not be the most irish of sausages out there but they sounded good! the onions and chicken stack made a wonderful gravy and i served the sausages on top of the reduced onions on top of the mashed potatoes. a tasty side of green beans with red wine vinegar made for a perfect meal!

i highly recommend you try this. it's a perfect season transition meal. hearty and warming and best shared with family or friends!

Bangers and Mash
serves 4

1 1/4 lbs potatoes
1 tbs butter
2 tbs creme fraiche
1 tsp dijon mustard
1 tbs whole milk
1/2 tsp kosher salt
1/4 tsp freshly ground pepper

1/2 lb pork sausage (i used wegmans wine and cheese sausage)
1 large onion, thinly sliced
1 tbs whole wheat flour
1 cup low sodium chicken stock
salt and pepper to taste

peel potatoes and cut into chunks. place in a large pot and cover with cold water. bring to a boil and boil, uncovered until tender. drain and mash together with butter, creme fraiche, dijon, milk, salt, and pepper. cover to keep warm.

in a large skillet over medium heat, brown sausage on all sides in olive oil. remove from pan and set aside. add onions to hot pan and saute until brown and tender. add flour and stir well to coat onions. pour in chicken stock and stir well. add sausage back into pan and let simmer, covered on low for 10-15 minutes. be sure to turn sausage and stir every 5 minutes to ensure even cooking.

to serve, spoon onions over mash and place sausage on top.

Thursday, March 17, 2011

Irish Car Bomb Cupcakes

one can never really be completely sure about these things, but i am fairly certain i am 0% irish. however, i am lucky enough to be married to a man who is at least 1/4 irish (his mother's maiden name is mcsweeny for crying out loud). so even though i'm not irish i am 100% foodie and will use any excuse to cook. you also may have noticed i have been baking quite a bit too, so, i decided to bake an "irish" treat to celebrate st. partick's day.

when i can across the words "irish car bomb cupcakes" the other day, my jaw literally dropped open. not only do they sound amazing and would be perfect for st. patty's day, i have a bit of a history with irish car bombs. in fact, they are a bit of a tradition at E's company holiday party.

his old boss who is unfortunately no longer with the company (don't feel too badly for him though, he is living the life skiing day in and day out) started a car bomb tradition E's first year. after the official holiday party at a nice hotel in downtown baltimore, many of us were not ready to call it a night (keep in mind this was nearly seven (7!) years ago and we were just young things).

so, what should we do? we should go "around the corner" to the irish pub! yay! turns out "around the corner" is really several blocks which might not sound like a big deal unless it's below freezing, you don't have a proper coat, and are wearing cute but uncomfortable high heels. let's just say by the time we made it to the pub, my buzz was fading fast and my hunger was taking over. luckily, i was looking forward to a big bowl of hot chowder. no dice, the kitchen was closed and the bar was about to be.

it was probably well after midnight at this point and most likely closer to 2am. E's boss decides to remedy the situation and turn the crowd back to happy drunks rather than get further down the angry mob road and orders a round of irish car bombs. (it is entirely possible i was one of the few, or perhaps only person heading down the angry mob road but when i get hungry look out!) so 9 irish car bombs are ordered and arrive, 8 people dropped their shot into the guinness and drank them down. one, hungry, slightly grumpy, pretty lit girl, downed the shot of baileys and politely passed her guinness off to someone else.

looking back, the guinness may have actually filled my belly seeing as they are almost a meal unto themselves. however, in hindsight, it may have not been a pretty walk back to the hotel if i had indeed chugged the magic trinity of gunniess, irish whiskey, and baileys.

despite my lack of participation, the car bomb tradition continues to this day. in fact, this past holiday party, 23 car bombs were ordered (the team has grown quite a bit), the new boss paid, and the old boss called in and shared in the celebration remotely.

this st. patrick's day, i pay homage to both my husbands blood family and his work family (current and past) with a car bomb fit for a cupcake lover such as myself. the guinness is in the cake batter, the irish whiskey is in the ganache filling and the baileys is literally the icing on the cake. so to all the mcsweenys and booz allen readers, Sláinte! 

Irish Car Bomb Cupcakes
makes 24
adapted from smitten kitchen

cupcake batter:
1 cup guinness
1 cup (2 sticks) unsalted butter
3/4 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
1 1/2 cups cake flour
1/2 cup whole wheat pastry flour
1 1/2 cups sugar
1 1/2 tsp baking soda
3/4 tsp salt
2 large eggs
2/3 cup creme fraiche

ganache filling:
8 oz bittersweet chocolate
2/3 cup heavy cream
2 tbs butter, room temperature
2 tsp irish whiskey, i use jameson

baileys icing:
2 cups powdered sugar
1/2 cup (1 stick) unsalted butter, room temperature
3 tbs baileys irish cream

to make ganache filling, bring cream to a simmer over medium-low heat. once simmering, remove from heat and stir in chocolate and butter. whisk well to combine until chocolate is melted and smooth. stir in irish whiskey and set aside to cool.

to make batter, melt 2 sticks of butter in medium saucepan over medium heat. add guinness to butter and bring to a simmer. stir in cocoa powder and whisk well to dissolve cocoa powder. remove from heat and let cool slightly.

combine flours, sugar, soda, and salt in bowl. in bowl of electric mixer, mix together eggs and creme fraiche. slowly pour in slightly cooled guinness mixture while running on low speed. slowly add flour mixture and mix until just combined. divide batter among 24 lined cupcakes filling each 1/2 to 2/3 full. bake for 17 minutes, turning after 8 minutes. remove from oven and let cupcakes cool completely on wire racks.

when cupcakes are cooled and ganache is thick enough to pipe, cut the centers out of the cupcakes using small knife or apple corer (you want to go about 2/3 of the way down the cupcake but not cut through the bottom). remove center and make sure it tastes good:) pipe ganache into hollowed out cupcakes filling centers to the top.

to make the icing, cream butter on medium-high speed for several minutes until light a fluffy. sift powdered sugar and slowly add to butter a few tablespoons at a time. (i have to say, this really is the key to thick, stiff icing. make sure the butter is really light a fluffy - i whipped it for 3 minutes - then add 1 heaping tablespoon of sifted sugar at a time. add more sugar when the last tbs has been incorporated. you may not need the whole 2 cups, check for stiffness). when frosting is a nice, thick, spreadable consistency, drizzle baileys in slowly. ice cupcakes and store in fridge up to a day.

* you can make the filled cupcakes and freeze them. store the icing in the fridge and simply defrost the cupcakes and ice them when ready to eat.

Wednesday, March 16, 2011

Vanilla Bean Scones

i love vanilla. perhaps it makes me boring but one of my favorite ice cream flavors is vanilla. but not just any vanilla. it has to be vanilla bean. it has to have those tell tale vanilla bean specks. it's just so pure and simple and delicious. i also happen to love vanilla yogurt and vanilla cupcakes.

have you eve caved while in line at starbucks and ordered one of their delicious looking scones? i have. my favorite is their petite vanilla bean scones. surprise, surprise, right? i think to myself, at least they are smaller. turns out, even though they are small, they still have 240 calories in them!

so, when i happened upon the pioneer woman's version of the scone and at 10pm last night i had to have them. i checked my cabinets and fridge and was pleased to find i have all the ingredients. first thing this morning, i was covered in flour and vanilla. turns out, this version is just 175 calories a scone and they are tender and sweet and pack a vanilla bean punch. and guess what? they are even bigger than starbucks scones!

i recommend enjoying these with a hot cup of coffee or a cold glass of milk.

Vanilla Bean Scones
makes 24
slightly adapted from the pioneer woman

2 cups all purpose flour
1 cup whole wheat pastry flour
1/2 cup organic cane sugar
5 tsp baking powder
1/4 tsp salt
2 sticks cold unsalted butter, cut into cubes
1 large egg
1/2 cup heavy cream
1/4 cup 1% milk
1 whole vanilla bean
1 tbs vanilla bean paste

preheat oven to 350 degrees F.

mix together heavy cream and milk in a measuring cup. cut vanilla bean in half length wise and scrape out inside caviar. add to milk mixture and whisk to combine. set aside.
in the bowl of an electric mixer mix together flours, sugar, baking powder, and salt. add cold, cubed butter and blend on low until butter is the size of peas.
add egg to milk and vanilla mixture and whisk to combine. slowly add milk mixture to electric mixer on low. stir until just combined. dump onto floured surface and roll out into a square (about 1/2" thick). cut into 12 squares and then in half into 24 triangles.
place on parchment or silpat lined baking sheet and bake for 15-18 minutes. bottoms will be just starting to brown. let cool completely.

Vanilla Bean Icing

1 cup powdered sugar
1 1/2 tbs milk
1 tsp vanilla bean paste

whisk together and drizzle over cooled scones. let sit until icing has hardened and store in airtight container.

Monday, March 14, 2011

Mexican Meatless Monday

it's monday again and i have another meatless yet high protein meal. this time, it's mexican inspired.

E and i love enchiladas and i "beefed" these up with black beans, feta, and shredded cheese. these enchiladas pack 30 grams of protein per serving - wow! the next time you are craving mexican, try these meatless enchiladas, you won't miss the beef, promise. i recommend topping with guacamole, it's delicious!

Black Bean Enchiladas
serves 4

15 oz black beans, drained and rinsed
4 oz crumbled feta
3 cups brown rice
4 oz tomato sauce (with onions, garlic, and cilantro)
2 tsp goya adobo with cumin
1 tsp mexican oregano
1 tsp chipotle chili powder
4 whole wheat tortillas
4 wedges queso fresco and chipotle laughing cow cheese
1 cup salsa
1 cup shredded mexican cheese

preheat oven to 350 degrees F.
stir together beans, feta, rice, tomato sauce, and spices.
spread laughing cow cheese onto each tortilla.

spoon bean mixture onto tortilla and roll up.
place seam-side down into greased baking dish.
pour salsa over tops of tortillas and sprinkle with cheese.

bake for 20 minutes or until cheese is bubbly.

Saturday, March 12, 2011


a travesty has occured in the kitchen this evening. it's quite a sad night indeed. a late night (perhaps sparkling wine induced) cookie baking session occured this evening and i am sorry to report we lost some good men in the process.

luckily, we were able to salvage the crumbs. those that went overboard were gobbled up by four dogs in waiting. luckily we had several other batches of gluten-free chocolate chip cookies to eat.

Thursday, March 10, 2011

Nutella Mousse - Remixed

i hate when i am wrong. so it probably goes without saying i don't like admitting when i am wrong either.

well, hang on to your hats my friends . . . "i was wrong."

you may remember a post about nutella mousse a little while back. that post has proved to be one of my most viewed posts of all time. apparently i am not the only one out there obsessed with nutella. come on, i eat the stuff out of the jar with a spoon for crying out loud.

people left comments about how good it sounded. but one commenter pointed out that perhaps i shouldn't have left out the espresso in the recipe.

beachcomber25 said...
That mousse does look really good. However i noticed that you said that you didn't want to mask the chocolate hazelnut flavor with espresso actually according to Ina Garten from food networks barefoot contessa when you add coffee to chocolate you don't actually taste the coffee or the espresso in this case it just enhances the chocolate flavor so the next time you make this nutella mouse you might want to think about skipping the liquor and going with the espresso.

hmmm, interesting point beachcomber25! seeing as i am not above good advice, i decided to try the mousse again (yes, i suffered throw another torturous taste testing batch of nutella mousse!) but this time included the espresso. so let me say, i was wrong for leaving out the espresso. how could i not have remembered ina's advice that i have heard myself before too.

so, take note everyone. if you haven't made this mousse yet, what are you waiting for? make it, and be sure to include the espresso, it definitely brings out the chocolate hazelnut flavor and it doesn't taste too much like coffee either. and, if you have already made this recipe, what are you waiting for? make it again! i did and it won't be the last time either.

Nutella Mousse
serves 4 

1 cup cold heavy cream
1 tsp espresso powder
2 tbs frangelico liquor
3/4 cup nutella

whisk together cream and espresso powder until dissolved. combine all ingredients in the bowl of an electric mixer. whisk well to break up nutella. whip with electric mixer for 2 minutes on medium-high until soft peaks form. divide into 4 bowls and chill in fridge for at least 2 hours.

keep refrigerated until ready to serve. dollop with whipped cream and berries if desired.
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