Feta Cheese and Black Olive Salad

Once in a while I get on a kick where I crave this salad and have it for lunch, days in a row...  it's a summery kind of salad, but with fresh veggies available year round, I thought I would post it again as a reminder to myself to make this again soon.

As with most of my recipes - play with it. I can't call it a Greek Salad just because it has feta and black olives in it. I can't call it an Italian Salad just because I like to use an Italian Vinaigrette in it. So... it's just a green salad with feta and black olives!

This is to make the whole bag of lettuce - which will serve between 2 to 6 people depending on if it's the main dish and only thing for dinner or if it's a side salad with other foods.

Feta Cheese and Black Olive Salad

1 bag pre-washed romaine and green leafy lettuce mixture
2 small cans sliced black olives, or if they are in the budget, use kalamata but they do cost more
1 small red onion, sliced into rings
1 cucumber, peeled and sliced or diced
1 tomato, sliced into wedges or if you prefer, cut each wedge into 4 chunks
8 oz. block Feta Cheese, crumbled
1 package Italian (Good Seasons) dry dressing, made according to package with olive oil

Mix the salad ingredients, add about 1 cup of the dressing and toss. Enjoy. Print Friendly and PDF

Cheddar Bacon Ranch Bread

I don't have a photo of this one in my own files so I had to rely on searching for an image on the net labeled for 'free reuse' - this is one of those recipes that was a huge internet 'fad' about 1 1/2 years ago although it's been made for years and years in various versions.  I make my bread rounds homemade but it's fairly easy to find them made at your local grocery store in the bakery department.  Just be sure you don't cut through completely to the bottom, and sprinkle the yummies all way into each 'pull'.

Cheddar Bacon Ranch Bread

1 unsliced loaf of round bread
1 1/2 c cheddar cheese, shredded or thin sliced
1/2 c crumbled, cooked bacon
1/2 c butter, melted
1 T Ranch dressing mix

Cut the bread downward in both directions but don't cut through the bottom crust as it holds the bread together. Sprinkle cheese and bacon bits into bread, making sure to get in between cuts. Mix together butter and ranch dressing mix. Pour over bread. Wrap the bread in foil and place on a baking sheet. Bake at 350 degrees for 15-20 minutes. Unwrap. Bake for an additional 10 minutes, or until cheese is melted.

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Homemade Butterfinger Candies (from leftover Candy Corn!)

Remember when I posted the recipe for homemade Butterfinger style candybars right after Hallowen, but I said I was trying to do something different with them and said I would post it for Christmas?  Well, this is it!  Because I decided to roll it out and cut the candies out instead of slicing.  After covering them in chocolate I froze them in the deep freeze and... here they are!  Just in time to jump on our Christmas Goody trays.

Homemade Butterfinger Candies

3 c candy corn candies
1 1/2 c peanut butter (I used creamy)
1 c crushed flake cereal (I had grape nut flakes on hand)
12-16 oz. chocolate for melting and dipping

Basically just melt the candies in a microwave safe bowl.  About a minute, stir, and another 30 seconds if they aren't warm enough to melt yet.  Then add your peanut butter and cereal.  Press into a lined or greased 8X8 pan and press.  Chill about 40 minutes and slice with a knife or pizza cutter into the shapes you want.  I refrigerated mine overnight because I was busy.  I then had a heck of a time cutting them (rock hard!) until I warmed them up in the microwave just a bit.  You can slice them however you wish (cubes, patties, etc.)   Melt your chocolate and dip each candy.  Let set up to harden and serve.

I happened to have these particular brands on hand
Getting ready to melt them down

Melty melty

Peanut butter and cereal added
Rolled out and cut

Waiting their turn to be dipped in chocolate

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Today: A simple glaze recipe for icing sugar cookies

Dough one day. Bake another. Decorate another.
That's how I do usually do it and today is the day for glazing and decorating our stars and trees!  (And the snowflakes if I'm not all decorated out by that point).

Sugar Cookies

1 1/2 c granulated sugar
1 1/2 c butter, soft
2 eggs
2 tablespoons vanilla extract
4 c flour
1 t baking soda
1 t cream of tartar
1 t salt

Combine sugar and butter, beat until creamy with your electric mixer. Add eggs and vanilla. Beat well. Add dry ingredients and mix until blended. Chill dough until it's easy to work with; 30-60 minutes.

On lightly floured surface roll the dough to 1/4 inch thickness. Cut out cookies. Bake on lined baking sheets at 350 until the edges just start to turn golden brown, about 10 minutes. Cool on wire racks.

Icing Glaze 
Makes about 1 & 1/3 cups

2 1/2 c powdered sugar
2 T water
1 T butter, softened
1 T light corn syrup
1/2 t almond extract or vanilla
Food color, if desired

Combine powdered sugar, water, butter, corn syrup and vanilla in small mixer bowl; mix until powdered sugar is moistened. Beat at medium speed until smooth, adding additional water if necessary to reach desired spreading consistency. Tint with food color, if desired.  Glaze cooled cookies and let stand until hardened (6 hrs. or overnight).Print Friendly and PDF


Homemade Twix Candy Bars

Twix Candy Bars

35 caramels - unwrapped
2 12-oz. bags milk chocolate chips
1/4 c water
1 box (about 40) Nabisco Lorna Doon Shortbread cookies (square) or Walkers shortbread (long stick)

Combine the caramels with the water in a small pan and melt over low heat.  Place the shortbread cookies side by side on an ungreased or lined cookie sheet.  Spoon a dab of the melted caramel on the cookie.  Place all cookies in the refrigerator until firm.  Melt the chocolate chips in a double broiler or in the microwave.  Remove cookies from the refrigerator and dip each one into the melted chocolate.  Tap off excess and place on wax paper.  Let them set up at room temperature - can take up to several hours depending on the heat and humidity of your home.


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Scandinavian Rosettes - a crisp, light, Swedish pastry

Continuing with a 'cookie a day until Christmas' here is one of our family tradition's that goes back to my own childhood of visiting my Grandmother's house on Christmas Eve.  Even as a child I didn't like things that were 'too sweet' and this one is not, save for the sugar sprinkled on top.  The Scandinavian pastry is crisp and light and not sweet.  They are a Swedish tradition in our home and I hope one day to share the tradition with my own grandchildren as well.  You do need a Rosette/Timbale Set to make these.


2 eggs
1 t sugar
1/4 t salt
1/2 t vanilla
1 c milk
1 c flour

Break eggs into a bowl, add sugar, salt, vanilla, milk and flour. Beat briefly just until smooth. Do not overbeat! Too much beating makes your rosettes blistered and tough.

Have hot oil, lard or shortening in a pan on the stove heating. Leave the rosette iron in the hot oil for several minutes while you make the batter. Dip the hot iron into the batter being careful not to let the batter come up over the edge of the iron. Dip just about 4/5th of the way up the iron. Immediately place the iron/batter into the hot oil. Hold the iron in place and cook the rosette until it's golden brown and crisp. The temperature of the oil is perfect when it takes about 25-30 seconds for the rosette to cook. Too fast and it burns, too cool and it will be soggy and greasy. Use a fork to shake the rosette off the iron and onto a paper towel lined rack. When they are cool sprinkle with powdered sugar. These can be frozen. This recipe will make about 40.

If they do not come off the iron they were not fried long enough or you let the batter come up over the edge of the iron.
If they are blistered and thick, you have beaten the eggs too much.
If the rosettes drop off in the hot oil the iron is not deep enough in the oil.
If they are not crisp they have been fried too fast or the oil was not hot enough.

Heat the iron in the oil while you mix the batter
You must have a rosette set to make these.
Don't dip the batter up over the edge of the iron so they will slide off after frying.

Drain on paper towels
Sprinkle with powdered sugar for a delicious treat!

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Crawfish and Mussels in Spicy Garlic Butter Sauce (with a recipe for the Spice Sachet for the Crab Boil)

The seasoning is fine for about 5 lbs. of seafood - double if you need more.  The sauce was for 2-3 people - double if you need more.

1 sachet of herbs for the boil
Seafood:  crab legs, mussels, crawfish, shrimp
  • 2 sticks butter
  • 3 T minced garlic
  • 1 T Garlic & Herb Old Bay seasoning
  • 1 T lemon pepper
  • 1 T cayenne pepper
  • 1 T paprika
  • 1 T chicken bouillon

Melt the butter in a saucepan.  Add the garlic and cook about 3 minutes until soft - do not burn or brown.  Add the seasonings and simmer for about 5-10 minutes while the seafood cooks.  Drain the seafood, pour into your bowl or serving container and pour the sauce over all and toss.

Spice Sachet for the Crab Boil

2 T dill seed
4 bay leaves
1 T crushed, dried red pepper
4 T mustard seeds
3 T coriander seeds
1 t Cloves, ground
1 T ground Allspice

Combine in cheesecloth, tie up with string and add to your big pot of water for boiling seafood, along with 1/2 a lemon.  Discard after seafood is done (seafood cooks fast so about 7-10 minutes depending what kind of seafood you are using).

The seasonings

Gather up in a cheesecloth

I don't have kitchen twine so I just used thick thread

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Homemade, buttery soft caramel candies

This makes a delicious soft caramel that melts in your mouth and is easy to chew - not the hard caramel that rips out your teeth fillings.

Caramel Candies

5 T butter
1/2 c sugar
1/2 c brown sugar
1/2 c corn syrup
1/2 c sweetened condensed milk

Microwave this mixture for 7 minutes - stirring every minute or two.  Pour into a greased glass dish.  Cool and cut.  Wrap in pieces of plastic wrap, parchment or wax paper. 

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Feta and Spinach Stuffed Chicken Breasts: One of my many "I don't feel like cooking" meals!

This recipe is here for my girls....  my college-daughter who requests grilled steak with feta cheese every single time she comes home (and then goes though about 8 oz. of crumbled feta in 1 weekend, having it on almost everything she eats) and my oldest daughter who loves stuffed chicken breasts in almost any version.

I don't even have a recipe for this really... it's one of those things I will throw together at the last second when I do not feel like cooking, don't have time to fuss with it and just want to get something into the oven and forget about it until it's time to eat. 

The filling is based on what we have on hand and what I feel like at the time.  So use this as a 'brainstorm' but not a 'blueprint' because you can play with your food if you have the basic ingredients to get started.

I used feta, spinach, some cream cheese and spices.  Topped with mayo and panko crumbs and seasoned.

This goes together in about 5 minutes and then bakes for 30-40 minutes leaving you free to do what you have to do and not worry about dinner prep. 

Feta and Spinach Stuffed Chicken Breasts

Partially thawed or thawed fresh boneless chicken breasts (4)
Frozen spinach, thawed  (1/2 - 3/4 cup)
Feta cheese, crumbled (1/2 cup)
Cream cheese (2-3 oz.)
Spices you like;  I like to use a dash of onion powder and a little fresh, minced garlic
Panko or bread crumbs; seasoned or not - use what you have
oil to grease the pan
salt and pepper
(if using unseasoned crumbs you can use just salt and pepper on top or top with a sprinkle of dry italian seasoning, italian dressing mix, ranch dressing mix, etc.)

Slice your chicken breasts about 3/4 of the way through but leave a side attached so you form a pocket.  Chicken is easily sliced when still partially frozen, but it won't matter if yours is thawed.  Slice through the thickest part towards the back of the breast.

In a microwavable bowl, place the cream cheese, feta and spinach.  I've thawed it and I've used a chunk still frozen from the package.  Doesn't matter.  A little more moisture, that's about it.  Microwave just a minute or so to soften the cheeses and spinach.  Stir together to blend.  Add spices if you wish.  If you don't - no worries.  I like fresh garlic and a dash of onion powder. 

On a greased baking sheet or dish (I just line with foil for easy clean up) place the breasts.

Use a spoon to fill your breasts evenly.  Press down on the breast a bit to form the pocket.  If  you over-fill, you may need to close with a wooden toothpick but if you don't overfill, they are fine as they are. 

Spread a bit of mayonnaise across each breast.  This helps keeps the chicken breasts moist as well as a little flavor but also helps hold the bread crumbs or panko crumbs on.  Simple sprinkle some crumbs on top.  No need for eggs and traditional (messy) breading.   Sprinkle the tops with salt and fresh black pepper if your crumbs are unseasoned.  You can also sprinkle on dry salad dressing mixes like ranch, or Italian.  Just sprinkle and bake.  I bake around 375 degrees for about 35 minutes.  Less for tiny little chicken breasts and up to 45 minutes for the huge sized breasts if needed.

Topping the chicken breasts with a bit of panko crumbs

Ready to go into the oven

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A Cookie A Day Until Christmas... 24 Christmas Goodies and Cookie Recipes

This is just a few of the thousands of recipes I've posted on my site since 2006.  What I did in  2012 was post this list as a 'cookie a day 'til Christmas' list.   Since then I made it's own page (in the link bar above) as it has a pretty good list of favorites for Christmas.  If you need some ideas, you can check them out.  Most of these recipes have been mentioned 2 or 3 times on An American Housewife as I've made many of them since the early 1990's.  

December 1st:  Molasses Cookies
December 2nd:  Chocolate Caramel Thumbprints
December 3rd:  Peppermint Pinwheels
December 4th:  Candy Striped Cookie Sticks
December 5th:  Peppermint Teacakes
December 6th:  Peanut Butter Patties
December 7th:  Peanut Butter Fudge
December 8th:  Sugar Cookies:  Snowflakes with Edible Glitter
December 9th:  Swedish Rosettes
December 10th:  Cream Wafer Cookies
December 11th:  Cherry Poppy Seed Winks
December 12th:  Peppermint Pretzels
December 13th:  Candy Pretzels
December 14th:  Homemade Truffles
December 15th:  Cream Horns
December 16th:  The Best Brownies
December 17th:  Red Velvet Cake Balls
December 18th:  Glazed Sugar Cookies
December 19th:  Gateau Bon Bons
December 20th:  No Bake Chocolate Bars
December 21st:  Peppermint Meltaways
December 22nd:  Melted Snowman Cookies
December 23rd: No Bake Fruitcake Bars
December 24th:  Mini Peanut Blossom Muffin Cookies

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Perfect Molasses Cookies; A Cookie a Day Til Christmas (This is a main mix that makes 3 batches)

Next in the series; A Cookie a Day Til Christmas; previously published here on An American Housewife

Over the past 10 years or so, I've made on average, about a 24 different recipes per season.  Some are doubled and a couple are tripled; and I always add something 'new' to try each year.  Because I do so much baking I have to start early and stock up on tins and foil to freeze those that are happy to be frozen.  Today is December 1st...  sounds like a perfectly good day to start focusing on cookies.

Here is a family favorite that has been in our family for years.  The recipe makes a triple batch. Mix it up and then divide it into gallon ziploc baggies and mix up each portion as you need it.

Perfect Molasses Cookies

6 c flour
3 c sugar
1 T baking soda
1 T baking powder
1 T ground ginger
1 T ground cinnamon
1 t ground nutmeg
3/4 t ground cloves
1/2 t ground allspice

Mix the above dry ingredients in a very large bowl with a wood spoon or wire whisk. When completely mixed divide the mixture evenly into 3 large ziplock baggies with 3 cups of the mix in each. Make one ziplock at a time.

When you are ready to make cookies;

3/4 c soft butter (real)
1 egg
1/4 c molasses

To each 3 cup dry mix in your ziploc add the above ingredients;  Roll into 1 inch balls and roll in plain white granulated sugar. Place on a parchment lined baking sheet. Bake at 375 for 10 minutes until the edge is firm and the top is cracked. Cool on the pan for 1 minute before moving to wire racks.

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Cut-Out Sugar Cookies for Christmas: Snowflake cookies with edible glitter

This recipe previously published: reposting for the Cookie a Day Til Christmas theme!

This cookie recipe is probably one that a million women have already, and well, let's make it one million and one. Today we are going to cut them into snowflakes. You can find the snowflake cookie cutters almost anywhere these days, although when I bought mine they were difficult to find and the internet wasn't in as heavy use as it is now. I had to order mine from a real, honest to goodness old fashioned catalog. LOL. You can find them in stores, in catalogs and online easily now so - go get yourself some snowflake cookie cutters and then come back. (I have links at the bottom of this post to 3 of them on Amazon to get you started if you are interested.)  

Sugar Cookies

1 1/2 c granulated sugar
1 1/2 c butter, soft
2 eggs
2 tablespoons vanilla extract
4 c flour
1 t baking soda
1 t cream of tartar
1 t salt

Combine sugar and butter, beat until creamy with your electric mixer. Add eggs and vanilla. Beat well. Add dry ingredients and mix until blended. Chill dough until it's easy to work with; 30-60 minutes.

On lightly floured surface roll the dough to 1/4 inch thickness. Cut out cookies. Bake at 350 until the edges just start to turn golden brown, about 10 minutes. Cool on wire racks.

For my snowflake cookies I didn't actually use a frosting recipe, I just put powdered sugar, some butter, a little cream, an egg white and vanilla in the mixer and whipped it.

I also did not feel like getting out my decorator tips and couplers so to decorate the cookies I used a disposable decorating bag and simply snipped the tip off with a pair of scissors. Using this, pipe frosting onto your cookies in a design that you prefer.

For sparkle you can purchase food-grade Platinum Dust Edible Glitter online or in the cake/cookie decorating aisle of your local store. Most Walmarts, grocery stores and fabric and craft stores will have this. The one I used was by Wilton. Sprinkle glitter on while the frosting is still wet so it will stick. The frosting will start to set up within minutes so sprinkle as you decorate each cookie, don't go back and try to do 15 at a time as the frosting will have already hardened on the top (although it will remain squishy for hours so don't stack them!).

Let your cookies sit about 10 hours (I let them set overnight) before stacking or freezing.

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Homemade Pill Pockets for Dogs- Peanut Butter flavor

This is a previously published post I want to revisit to answer the questions from a reader.... and it's just a pretty awesome recipe so why not share it again? 

Pill pockets - homemade

Make these for the size pills your dogs need.  We have some pills that are huge and some pills that are tiny.  You can simply keep the dough in a baggy in the refrigerator and wrap a bit of dough around the pill just before giving, or you can form them into little pockets like I did.  I let mine set on aluminum foil to dry for 24 hours and then put them into a baggy in the refrigerator to store.  Depending on the size of your dog and the pill this makes anywhere from 30-75.  I made 50 of them.

Homemade Peanut Butter Pill Pockets

1/2 c milk
1/2 c peanut butter
3/4 c whole wheat flour
1/4 c all purpose flour

Mix in a bowl with a spoon until it forms a ball.  Then knead it with your hands to finish blending smooth.  Form into little balls or ovals the size you need for the pills your dog takes.  You can use the end of a wooden spoon to form the pocket.  You can also leave it in dough form and keep it sealed in a container or baggy in the refrigerator to grab a bit of dough and form around your pill.  Makes between 30-75 pockets depending on the size. 

When it comes together to form a ball you can remove it and knead it smooth in your hands - like Play Dough!

I formed little pockets with the end of a wooden spoon.  You can simply form the dough around the pill too.

UPDATE:  I wanted to repost this to take a moment to answer Sandy's question on the original post!  Yes, I did make a batch bacon flavored - but I never did a chicken version.  All I did with the bacon version was use some drippings from cooking bacon and added them to the mix above.  I used the peanut butter with it though, because it works as a 'binder'.  If you want to add the bacon fat, just adjust the flour and milk accordingly so you get your 'play dough' texture.  I didn't measure.

They are not on any pills right now though, as they are doing wonderfully and are so very healthy they don't even need pain pills unless they really overdo it by running through our woods after deer and squirrels. 

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Homemade Almond Chocolate Truffles - Easy!

This recipe originally posted in 2007.  It's on the "A Cookie A Day Til Christmas" page too!

I went in search of my old files from 2007 and 2008 to find the almond truffles my daughter made. She had just turned 17 when she made these for a new boyfriend. So quick and so easy she needed almost no help from Mom and managed to pull off some beautiful dessert truffles, which we packaged using (recycling) a "chocolate candies" box from Harry & David.

These are just so pretty and so incredibly creamy and smooth that they will probably be some of the first to go on your holiday goody table or tray.

Almond Truffles

1/2 c evaporated milk
1/4 c sugar
2 cups milk chocolate chips
1/2 t almond extract
1 c finely chopped toasted almonds
OR 1 cup melted chocolate almond bark for dipping (or extra chocolate chips)
and melted white almond bark for drizzling

Combine evaporated milk and sugar in small saucepan. Cook over medium heat until mixture comes to a full boil. Boil 3 minutes, stirring constantly. Remove from heat. Stir in chips and almond extract, stirring gently until smooth. Chill mixture about 45 minutes until it can easily be shaped into balls. Roll into the crushed nuts or dip in melted chocolate. Drizzle or sprinkle with nuts if desired. Chill until ready to serve.

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Low Carb Sugar Cookies (Wheat Free and Sugar Free)

o try and I really love how they turned out.

Also:  If you can, make these a day ahead of time.  I found the taste improved even more after I stored the finished cookies in the refrigerator all night.

A wheat free, sugar free 'sugar' cookie!

1/4 c butter
1/4 c cream cheese
1/3 c Ideal baking sweetener
2 T Just Like Sugar baking sweetener
1 egg, beaten
1 t vanilla extract
1/4 t baking powder
1/2 t salt
1/4 c coconut flour (scant)
1 3/4 c almond flour
1 scoop vanilla whey powder
1/4 t xanthan gum

Cream the butter and cream cheese with the sweeteners and vanilla.  Add half of the beaten egg. Beat in the dry ingredients.  Chill in the refrigerator.  Preheat your oven to 350.  Roll the dough between parchment paper dusted with a bit of vanilla protein powder or coconut flour.  Cut out shapes.  The dough is delicate so carefully transfer to your baking sheet.  I used a parchment lined baking sheet.  Bake about 12 minutes until the edges are turning golden brown.  Carefully flip each cookie over and continue to bake an additional 3-4 minutes until the cookie is more firm and golden on the second side.  After cooling for 2-3 minutes on the pan, remove to a wire rack so they can cool completely.  Frost with your favorite sugar free frosting. 

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Almond Turkey Salad - A recipe to use up leftover Thanksgiving turkey!

I am happy to say I have zero leftover turkey from Thanksgiving!  Normally we do, and after 1 day of leftovers, I pop it into the freezer to take out a week or so later.  This year we were not entertaining a group, so I searched for the smallest actual whole turkey I could find.  After sending home leftovers for 3, and 2 meals for ourselves, it's gone.  No leftovers for us!

But if you have leftovers, how about this 'chicken' salad - made with turkey!

Almond Turkey Salad

3 c cubed cooked leftover turkey
1 c celery
¼ c blanched almonds, toasted
2 or 3 hard cooked eggs
2 T sliced green onion
salt and pepper to taste
½ c mayonnaise
2 T lemon juice

Combine turkey, celery, almonds, eggs and onion. Season with salt and pepper. Combine mayonnaise and lemon juice. Add to turkey. Toss lightly. Chill and serve on lettuce. Print Friendly and PDF


Avocado and Feta Dip for Tortilla Chips

This weekend avocado's at my local Super Walmart were on sale.  If they are near you too, and you love the taste of feta cheese and avocados, this is a quick and easy dip to mix up!

Avocado and Feta Dip
4 medium tomatoes, chopped
3 medium avocados
1 c  loosely packed fresh basil leaves, chopped
1c (8 oz.) crumbled feta cheese
2 T olive oil
2 T red wine vinegar
Tortilla chips

Toss together tomatoes, avocados, basil and feta.  Whisk together oil and vinegar in a small bowl; pour over tomato mixture, and toss gently to coat.  Sprinkle with salt and pepper. Serve with tortilla chips.
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