Savory Three Mushroom & Kale Pie

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All Photos © Christine Elise McCarthy 2013

To see images of my past posts & get links to the recipes – look on my Pinterest board – HERE.

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All my posts now have a VERY customizable PRINT & PDF option.  Create a PDF & save the recipe to your computer or print it out.  It offers a “remove images” option & you can delete any part of the post you do not need before printing.  The button is below by the Twitter & Facebook links.

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Today would be my father’s 69th birthday.  Actually, I guess it still is, even though he died at 45.  But – one of my dad’s favorite foods was a mushroom pie my mother would make for him.  It is a savory pie – not sweet.  I only point this out because, after my avocado ice cream recipe, my boyfriend (Miles) was genuinely freaked out that I was going to make a dessert out of mushrooms.  He hates mushrooms.  But Miles isn’t here to eat dinner and I wanted to make this pie as a little shout out to my father.

So – I pulled out the old index card with my mother’s recipe on it & updated it a bit & this recipe is the result.  It is kinda tricky to photograph because the mushrooms can begin to look meaty but, trust me, if you like mushrooms, you will like this pie!

Also – this recipe calls for a roux of flour & butter but I happened to have leftover white gravy from my smashed baked potato recipe so I just used that!

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Savory Three Mushroom & Kale Pie

INGREDIENTS

For the pastry crust

2 1/2 cups flour

1 tsp salt

1 tsp sugar

16 TBS ice cold (even frozen) butter – or vegan alternative

1/4 cup or more of ice water

For the three mushroom & kale pie

1 1/2 – 2 lbs mixed mushrooms (I used white & oyster & shitake) – chopped

1/2 head kale

3 celery stalks – chopped

1 small onion – diced finely

1 tsp fresh thyme

olive oil

S&P

1 egg white whisked to glaze the crust (optional)

For the roux

1 cup milk – or vegan alternative

4 TBS butter – or vegan alternative

4 TBS flour

1 DEEP pie pan

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DIRECTIONS

For the pastry crust

Put the flour, salt & sugar in a food processor.  Pulse to blend.  Then, 1 TBS at a time, pulse in the cold butter until it is all incorporated.  Add a few TBS water & pulse until little balls of dough begin to form & it falls away from the bowl of the processor.

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Remove from the bowl & press into two balls – one a tad larger than the other.  Press flat, wrap in plastic wrap & chill for about an hour.  Let it sit at room temperature for about 15 minutes before you roll it out.

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For the three mushroom & kale savory pie

Heat the oven to 400 degrees.

Remove the large ribs from the kale & tear the leaves into pieces.

Heat 1 TBS olive oil in a large frying pan.  Saute the kale for a few minutes & be sure it all becomes a little oiled & turns bright green.  Add about 1 TBS water, cover & steam for another few minutes.  Set aside in a bowl.

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In the same pan, add another 1-2 TBS olive oil & saute the mushrooms, celery, onion & thyme with some S&P over high heat.  Saute until everything softens & the mushrooms reduce in size quite a bit – 5 minutes or more.  Set aside.

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Heat the butter in a stock pot & add the flour.  Whisk them together & heat for a minute or two.  Add the milk 1/4 cup at a time & whisk to incorporate it.  When it thickens repeat with the rest of the milk.  It should have the consistency of a thick chowder.  Add S&P to taste.  Add to the mushrooms & stir to thoroughly combine.

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Roll you dough out large enough to fit your pie pan & line the pan with one of your crusts.

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Layer the kale in there & then the mushroom mix.

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Put the other crust on top.  I like a THICK crust at the edges so – I folded the top over the bottom & tucked it in all around (you can see how thick it was at the edges in the pics).  You might prefer to cut away the excess dough & press the edges to seal.  This is only a matter of personal preference.  Pinch the edges into waves or use a fork to press the seal tight.  Poke some vent holes in the top of your pie.

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If you like – you can whisk an egg white & brush the egg wash over the top of the crust.  It helps add a bit of shine & aids in the browning but is completely unnecessary.  Bake at 400 degrees for about 30 minutes or until the crust is the color you like.  Remove from the oven & allow to settle for about 10 minutes before cutting in.  Serve with a nice salad & a box of wine & you are set for the night!

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Spicy Southern Fried Cauliflower and Delta Dipping Sauce with Smashed Baked Potatoes and White Gravy and Buffalo Mac & Cheese

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All Photos © Christine Elise McCarthy 2013

To see images of my past posts & get links to the recipes – look on my Pinterest board – HERE.

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All my posts now have a VERY customizable PRINT & PDF option.  Create a PDF & save the recipe to your computer or print it out.  It offers a “remove images” option & you can delete any part of the post you do not need before printing.  The button is below by the Twitter & Facebook links.

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In my hunt for other recipes meant to provide a cauliflower version of fried chicken, I ran into THIS post about Popeye’s Fried Chicken.  Here is a picture from that site:

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I have never eaten at Popeye’s or any other fried chicken joint (except KFC & Dinah’s here in Glendale) and I haven’t tasted ANY fried chicken in over 25 years – but my boyfriend Miles eats it all the time.  In fact, he eats it weekly now that the famous Gus’s World Famous Fried Chicken opened a few blocks away from him in downtown Little Rock.  Miles is always sending me (at my request) pictures of the food he eats & I find myself looking at fried chicken so much – I have developed an undeniable craving for it.  And – that blogger that spoke of an incredible meal at Popeye’s didn’t help.  And that Delta sauce?  I liked the sound of it & a few clicks here & there revealed that Popeye’s discontinued it.  In fact, there seems to be quite a bit of hand-wringing going on about the now-unavailable Delta Sauce and that piqued my curiosity.  Fortunately, the blogger who loved the Delta sauce posted a copycat recipe for it & I could not resist.  So – I made it & I include that recipe here.  It is like a spicy Thousand Island dressing & it is INCREDIBLE on my – wait for it – Southern Fried Cauliflower!

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Doesn’t that look just like a fried chicken plate?  I was so Goddamn happy with myself yesterday – you have no idea.  If you make any of my zillions of cauliflower recipes – I have to say – it should be THIS one!  So easy & so delicious!  And if, like me, you don’t eat meat but the reasons for that do not include any distaste for meat products – this might really satisfy any existing fried chicken craving you might be in denial about.

That plate above includes yesterday’s recipe for Buffalo Mac & Pepper Jack Cheese.

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It also includes some smashed baked potatoes & a vegetarian white gravy.

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This is quite a decadent meal & the perfect fix on those days when the hole in your heart is bigger than your ass & you just don’t give a fuck.  You wanna eat & you wanna eat something bad.  This is as Paula Deen as I am likely to get but even with this dish – the fried chicken is really cauliflower & there is no bacon (or other meat) fat in any of it (excepting egg & milk) & the potatoes were made with a minimum of butter & WATER – because I’d run out of milk.  So – seriously – AT LEAST try the southern fried cauliflower & Delta dipping sauce.  I am certain you will enjoy!

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Spicy Southern Fried Cauliflower and Delta Dipping Sauce with Smashed Baked Potatoes and White Gravy and Buffalo Mac & Cheese

(This feeds about two (very well) so increase the recipes if you are feeding more.  The mac & cheese recipe feeds at least 4.)

INGREDIENTS

For the Southern Fried Cauliflower

(depending on the size of your cauliflower – you may need more or less of the other ingredients – so maybe have extra on hand)

1 head cauliflower

2 vegan eggs

1/4 cup water

1/2 cup Frank’s Hot Sauce

2 cups flour

1 tsp cayenne pepper

1 tsp each of S&P

1 tsp chipotle chili powder (or smoked or regular paprika)

1 tsp garlic powder

Lots of vegetable oil for frying

1 gallon zip lock baggy (not necessary but it makes life easier)

For the Delta dipping sauce

1/4 cup vegan mayonnaise

1 tsp lemon juice

1/8 cup vegetable oil

1/8 cup sambal oelek (or other chili sauce)

1/8 cup ketchup

1/4 tsp paprika

1/4 tsp pepper

1/2 tsp onion powder

1/4 tsp mustard

1/2 tsp Worcestershire sauce

2-3 dashes hot pepper sauce (Tabasco or another brand)

1 garlic clove – minced

For the smashed baked potatoes

2 large potatoes

olive oil

2 TBS vegan butter

S&P

For the white gravy

2 TBS vegan butter

1 large shallot – minced

1/4 cup flour

1 1/2 cups non-dairy milk

1 vegetable bouillon cube

1/2 tsp dry sage

1 tsp pepper

1/2 tsp salt

For the Buffalo Mac & Cheese

See HERE

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DIRECTIONS

For the Delta dipping sauce

Whisk the ingredients together & chill.

For the Smashed Baked Potatoes

Heat the oven to 400 degrees.  Rub olive oil on the potatoes & sprinkle with salt.  Bake them – DIRECTLY on the oven rack – for about 45 minutes.  Remove from the oven & allow to cool a bit.  Peel the potatoes (I left bits of skin & browned spots for some color) & mash them up with the butter & some salt & pepper and as much milk or water (I used water as I was out of milk) as you need to get to a texture you like.  I used an old school hand masher & left them chunky & on the drier side.  I smashed them a bit more at the end with an immersion blender.  You do it however you like.

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For the white gravy

Heat the butter in a sauce pan & add the bouillon cube & the shallots.  Cook a minute or two until the shallots soften & the bouillon cube is dissolved.  Add the flour, sage & salt and pepper & stir constantly for about 2 minutes.  It should be quite dry.  Add the milk 1/2 cup at a time & allow it to thicken.  Continue until all the milk is incorporated and heat until the gravy is at your desired thickness.  Add milk if it is too thick.

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For the Southern Fried Cauliflower

In a bowl – whisk together the eggs, water & hot sauce.

In a zip lock bag or in a deep bowl – blend the flour with the rest of the dry ingredients.

Cut the cauliflower into the largest “drummettes” possible so they resemble chicken thighs & a few wings.  I sprayed my cauliflower with water so the flour mix would stick.

Put the cauliflower in the flour mix & toss to coat.  Dunk into the egg mix until covered & then back into the flour.  Coat again with the flour.

I do not have a thermometer to measure oil temp but I think 350 is the correct temperature for frying.  I just let it get hot, put one drummette in there & once that started bubbling pretty rapidly – I added a few more pieces

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Turn a few times & fry until they are a golden brown all over.  Drain on a paper towel.  Repeat until all the cauliflower is cooked.  Now – just divvy up the goodness & fill up that whole in your heart with some old school home cooking!

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Vegan Buffalo Mac & Pepper Jack Cheese Cupcakes

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All Photos © Christine Elise McCarthy 2013

To see images of my past posts & get links to the recipes – look on my Pinterest board – HERE.

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All my posts now have a VERY customizable PRINT & PDF option.  Create a PDF & save the recipe to your computer or print it out.  It offers a “remove images” option & you can delete any part of the post you do not need before printing.  The button is below by the Twitter & Facebook links.

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I woke up dizzy & light-headed & (oddly) filled with a dozen ideas for soul food or otherwise southern menu options.  I had all kinds of aspirations involving chicken-frying something & biscuits & gravy & mashed potatoes and mac & cheese.  I am really excited about the chicken-fried recipe but I only got as far as this mac & cheese idea.  I have enough of just these things to survive here for a week.  And I really shouldn’t eat mac & cheese cupcakes every meal for a week or I might develop type-2 Diabetes.

You can opt to make the cupcakes out of this recipe or just stop at the mac & cheese level.  It is a no-bake mac & cheese but I am certain 20 minutes at 375 wouldn’t hurt it.  Here it is right outta the pan – no baking at all.  If you are not baking it or making cupcakes – this mac & cheese comes together in just a little more time than it takes to boil the pasta.

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That is a little smoked paprika on there.  Pretty, no?

I used this wacky, large shell pasta for my recipe.  Regular macaroni or other small, shaped pasta would work, too.

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Vegan Buffalo Mac & Pepper Jack Cheese Cupcakes

INGREDIENTS

1 lb dry pasta – cooked

4 TBS flour

1 tsp salt

1 tsp dry mustard

1 tsp ground pepper

1 pinch cayenne pepper

4 TBS vegan butter

2 celery stalks – diced (plus more for garnish)

3 scallions – diced (plus more for garnish)

1 jalapeno – seeded & diced

3 cups non-dairy milk

1/2 cup Frank’s Red Hot Sauce

4 cups vegan pepper jack cheese (grated)

Crumbled vegan blue cheese as garnish (optional)

Wonton skins (2 per cupcake)

Paprika (as garnish)

Breadcrumbs and/or extra grated cheese to top the cupcakes (optional)

DIRECTIONS

Cook the pasta according to directions.

Heat the oven to 375.

In a bowl – whisk the dry ingredients together: flour, salt, dry mustard, pepper & cayenne.  Set aside.

In a large stock pot, melt the butter & saute the celery, jalapeno & scallions for about 2 minutes.  Add the flour mix & saute over medium heat for about 2-3 minutes.  Add the milk – 1/2 cup at a time – and stir it in until it thickens.  Then add the rest of the milk in the same fashion & in 1/2 cup increments.

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Stir in the hot sauce & the pepper jack & heat until melted & combined.

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Stir in the cooked pasta.  You can serve it at this point with blue cheese crumbles, celery & scallions as garnish – and maybe a drizzle of more Frank’s sauce – or a brightly colored paprika!

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OR –

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Spray a muffin pan with cooking spray.  Place two wonton skins in each cup.  Fill them with your mac & cheese.

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You might want to add more grated cheese or breadcrumbs here – or not.  I only added breadcrumbs to half to see how they came out.  No big difference.  Bake at 375 for about 12-15 minutes or until bubbly & browning.

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Let them rest for about a minute & then serve garnished with blue cheese crumbles, scallions and/or celery.  Maybe sprinkle some paprika on them or drizzle more Frank’s sauce.  Then get a shoe horn & force feed yourself these things like they do a pate goose.

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Fig, Fennel, Blackberry & Goat Cheese Pizza

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All Photos © Christine Elise McCarthy 2013

To see images of my past posts & get links to the recipes – look on my Pinterest board – HERE.

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All my posts now have a VERY customizable PRINT & PDF option.  Create a PDF & save the recipe to your computer or print it out.  It offers a “remove images” option & you can delete any part of the post you do not need before printing.  The button is below by the Twitter & Facebook links.

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If you live even remotely near Glendale, California – you simply MUST check out Super King – the grocery store near there on San Fernando Road by the 2 freeway.  It is so friggin’ CHEAP to buy produce there AND they have lots of unusual seasonal items like squash blossoms & sour grapes & grape leaves etc.  I bought kale there this week – 3 for .99 cents.  Kale costs $2.50 a bunch at my local Gelson’s.

Anyway – on my last trip to Super King – I got a litle container of blackberries for about .79 cents and I bought a container of green figs.  I wasn’t sure what I would do with either (as I find blackberries always to be disappointingly sour and I have never purchased a fig before) but they were practically free & offered new culinary avenues to explore.  As it turned but, I didn’t explore very far – in that – I just made another pizza but it was a delicious & uniquely flavored pizza with a lot going on.  As it turned out, I again found all but a few of the blackberries to be sour & I found myself picking them off of this pizza as I ate it.  And I did eat it.  ALL of it.  But not the blackberries.  So – if you make this pizza – be sure to use very ripe berries or eighty-six them entirely.  They add a pretty color but there are so many other flavors vying for attention here – you won’t miss the berries.

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Fig, Fennel, Blackberry & Goat Cheese Pizza

INGREDIENTS

(I won’t list quantities here because that is a matter of taste)

Pizza dough of choice (mine is HERE)

1 fennel bulb – shaved very thinly

Blackberries

Goat cheese

Walnuts – crushed a bit

Figs – cut thin

Honey

Fresh rosemary – chopped finely

olive oil

S&P to taste

Crushed red pepper (optional)

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DIRECTIONS

Heat your oven to 450-500 degrees & be sure it reaches temperature before putting your pizza in there.

Roll out your dough & put it on the cooking sheet.  Brush some olive oil on there & maybe lightly salt it.  (I went a little heavy with the olive oil.  Oops!)

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Set the walnuts aside for now.  Then, simply layer the fennel & some rosemary & figs & berries & goat cheese & on your crust.  Top with more rosemary.

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Bake the pizza for 12-18 minutes or until the crust is browned & the cheese melted a bit.   When you think the pizza is about 3 minutes from being done – add the walnuts.  Finish baking.

When the pizza is done – drizzle all over with honey.

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Slice it up & eat it.  I added some crushed red pepper because that is how I roll.  Enjoy!

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Homemade Avocado Ice Cream

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All Photos © Christine Elise McCarthy 2013

To see images of my past posts & get links to the recipes – look on my Pinterest board – HERE.

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All my posts now have a VERY customizable PRINT & PDF option.  Create a PDF & save the recipe to your computer or print it out.  It offers a “remove images” option & you can delete any part of the post you do not need before printing.  The button is below by the Twitter & Facebook links.

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OMG.  I cannot believe I haven’t tried avocado ice cream until today.  It is insane!

I had 4 avocados that were all perfectly ripe.  But, like bananas, avocados have a very small window in which they remain perfect.  No matter how you like them – kinda hard or total mush – that window is a day, maybe two.   So – even a huge avocado fan like myself cannot eat 4 avocados in a day – without resorting to guacamole.   I didn’t want to resort to guacamole.

Earlier today, I considered breaking out an old & very low end ice cream maker I have had for about 20 years but never used.  I was going to attempt blackberry ice cream because – you guessed it – I have a bunch of blackberries that I need to use.  But then I thought – AVOCADOS!  I am going to make avocado ice cream!!!  And so I did and it was EEEEEEEEASY & a revelation.  You do need an ice cream maker – but – they can be had cheap.  I have two, actually – the counter-top appliance one by Oster that I used today & this old school bucket one that looks like this (image stolen from the internet).

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It makes amazing ice cream but it needs lots of ice & lots of rock salt & is a tad messy.  I was hoping the counter-top version would suffice – and it did!  Here it is.

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So – with the use of simply a food processor (or blender) to blend the ingredients & then an ice cream maker to freeze the creamy goodness – I had this incredible avocado ice cream.  Read the directions below & see how easy this was!

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Homemade Avocado Ice Cream

INGREDIENTS

4 medium avocados

3/4 cup sugar

1 1/2 cups milk

1 1/2 cups heavy cream

juice of 1/2 lime

pinch of salt

Rock salt & lots of ice for the ice cream maker

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DIRECTIONS

Scoop the avocado out put into a food processor.  Pulse to puree.  Add the other ingredients & quickly blend until completely smooth.

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Put into the ice cream maker & follow manufacturers directions.

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Here is a little movie!

Try not to eat it all before anyone else gets to try it!

TIPS: Freeze the metal canister from the ice cream machine before using it.  Chill the avocado puree for several hours before putting it in the machine.

Store the ice cream in a flat, shallow container & cover it with wax or parchment paper or plastic wrap before putting the lid on the container.  That will help ward off freezer burn.

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The Queen Mary, Sir Winston’s & the Starling Diner in Long Beach, California

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All Photos © Christine Elise McCarthy 2013

To see images of my past posts & get links to the recipes – look on my Pinterest board – HERE.

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All my posts now have a VERY customizable PRINT & PDF option.  Create a PDF & save the recipe to your computer or print it out.  It offers a “remove images” option & you can delete any part of the post you do not need before printing.  The button is below by the Twitter & Facebook links.

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I am a HUGE fan of the Queen Mary, that historic ship docked in Long Beach.  I’ve been there many times for many reasons – among them (I believe) a day or two of shooting for the original Beverly Hills 90210.  I think a 90210 prom occurred there or something.  At any rate – I was there for that & for that terrible, scandalously fake Marilyn Monroe exhibit which showed (among other hilarious things) a 1980’s blow dryer they claimed belonged to Marilyn herself.  I have been there for brunch with my parents.  Here is the proof – from 2009.

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We splurged for the underwhelming but costly brunch there which they host in this room

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Unless I am mistaken, I believe it is the largest room ever built on a ship.  Apparently, it could accommodate all 800+ first class passengers (back in the day) if it happened that they all desired seating at the same time.

I wasn’t blogging then so I took no shots of the food but you are not missing much.  Here I am with my stepdad – Alvan.

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At any rate – THIS time I went it was to surprise my boyfiend, Miles.  I picked him up at LAX around 4pm two weeks ago & pretended that I had discovered a secret – though circuitous – route that would get us home faster than trying to plow directly through the traffic.  I had to explain why I was driving so far south rather than east.  Unfortunately for my plan, traffic was worse on the 405 south than on the 105 east.  “Baby, I don’t think this is a faster way…” he offered, tentatively, once.  I said that I knew it seemed that way but that it was sure to open up.  It didn’t.  45 minutes later, we were in Long Beach.  “Are we in Long Beach, honey?” Miles asked, sounding equal parts confused & worried.  “Yes!” I admitted.  “I am going to kill Dave for suggesting this bullshit route.  (No Dave had suggested anything.)  But I have an idea how we can salvage this…” I said & I pulled the car into the Queen Mary parking lot.  “Where are we?” Miles asked.

“See that ship?  We are going on it for a drink!”  Thankfully, Miles seldom resists a suggestion that we get cocktails.  I got him seated at the bar (the one in the very top picture above) & begged off – claiming I had to use the ladies room while he made a phone call.  Here are a few more shots of that bar & here we are.  (Click on the panoramic images to see the image blown up.)

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I sneaked off & checked us into the room I had booked a few days earlier.  Here is the front desk.

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When I came back – he was still on the phone & I was SO excited!  He had no idea that I had a room key in my purse!  He suspected nothing.

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After a drink or two, I declared it was time we explore the ship.  I – of course – wasn’t meandering lost – as it appeared to Miles.  I was deliberately walking us toward our room.  Here are some views of the amazing hallways.  Very Barton Fink.

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And here are a few random (and poorly taken) shots of other areas of the ship.

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Those are my stepdad’s sneakers.

At any rate – as we wandered down the correct hallway, I kept musing about how great it would be to stay there.  Miles agreed.  “I wish we were in THIS room!” I said as we approached our room.  Key in hand, I walked down the little private hall that led to the door.  Miles couldn’t see me slip the key in the lock.  I opened the door & walked in.

“Hey!  Isn’t this somebody’s room?” Miles asked – though he followed me into this entry to the room.

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Of course, the bed was made when we walked in.  “Yeah, it is somebody’s room.”

“Are they here?
“They are now.”

Miles missed my point.

“Close the door, honey,” I said.

“OK – but…are there cameras or something?  Won’t we get in trouble?” Miles asked, worried, even as he closed the door & was going along with what he thought was MY plan – to seduce him in someone else’s room.

“This is OUR room, silly!  This is our room.”

Aha!  I had fooled him completely.  And kudos to Miles for just saying yes & going along with everything I suggested – from the wacky “faster” route home to impromptu drinks on a ship to exploring the ship to breaking & entering a guest’s room & defiling it (which we didn’t actually do).

So, I filled him in on the fact that I had planned this for days & that I had a bag & some wine in the car & that we had an 8pm dinner reservation at Sir Winston’s, on the ship.

We went & got our bags & the wine for dinner & got ready.  Here is the outside of the ship (shot poorly).

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And here is our amazing room.  Despite the very odd, blue vinyl headboard – the room was beautiful.

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This crank”push” thing is how you flush the toilet.

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Note the buttons to call a steward – beside the tub.  Hmmmm…

The bathroom was a tad run down but who cares?

Then it was time for dinner.  We walked on the upper deck at dusk.  It was gorgeous.

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We found Sir Winston’s & adjourned to the lounge there for a pre-dinner cocktail.

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It was dark in there – so pardon the portraits.

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At 8, we were seated in Sir Winston’s by an exceptionally friendly staff.  John Bowshewicz (JB) – the restaurant manager (a man originally from Brooklyn, I believe he said) – opened our first bottle of wine for us.

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The room was gorgeous.  We were by a window with a view of Long Beach.   It was all just so perfect & romantic!  I had, however, no hope that the food would be anything by adequate.  Having experienced the brunch & a lunch in another restaurant on board, I expected that this fine dining establishment would fall victim to the “tourist trap rule” – which is – if there is something else getting you into the restaurant (a view, for example, or the fact that it is IN Disneyland) – few restaurants deliver on any other level.   They just don’t need to.  As these restaurants rely on their novelty – not any desire to get folks to return.

So – when the waiter suggested I try the scallops over the ahi – I balked.  Scallops are a very difficult thing to get right.  Overcooked or fishy or rubbery or dried out – something always goes wrong – unless you are dealing with a really talented kitchen.  I said as much to our waiter.  He assured me that I would not be disappointed.  The fact is – I expected to be disappointed no matter what I ordered – so – I rolled the dice.  Miles ordered a Chateaubriand – something I have never tried.  AND – he pre-ordered a Grand Marnier souffle.  Crazy talk.  And we decided to share a Caesar salad.  They brought us bread.  It was reeeally good bread!

The salad came & Miles announced it was the best he’d ever had.  If you follow this blog, you might know that Miles is an extraordinarily finicky eater.  This was going well.  As was the wine.  JB opened our second bottle.

Then the steak & scallops arrived.  I popped off a quick picture of each, at which point, my phone (therefore – my camera) promptly died.  Maybe that was a good thing as it forced me to focus ENTIRELY on food & on Miles – but here are the two shots.

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And – let me tell you now – those scallops kicked ASS!  They were like butter.  And Miles was so impressed with his Chateuabriand, which they had succeessfully cooked perfectly to his request that it be “Pittsburgh-style” (charred on the outside – raw in the middle) – that I let myself try it.  I have not been a meat eater since the eighties but, sometimes, you gotta bend the rules.  I am not ashamed to report, I bent them two more times that night – as I snuck two more bites when Miles went out to smoke.  It was even more buttery & fall-apart-in-you-mouth delicious than the scallops!  Holy Batman!  This place was incredible.

I was so wasted on a food high – I can hardly report on the souffle.  Desserts are not my thing, anyway, but Miles seemed to enjoy it.  I was too busy plotting new ways I could “accidentally” eat Chateaubriand again to care about chocolate.

The next morning we poked around the ship some more.  Miles bought some caramels & I waxed nostalgic looking at this old Boston-made candy that I haven’t seen for years.

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And – I wanted to buy this coffee cup but I seldom drink coffee at home & I already have way too much stuff in my life – so I was good and kept walking.

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Oh – and here is some vintage workout equipment they have on display.

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Everything about this adventure was a complete success.  And know this – that room we stayed in?  $134 or something, on a Wednesday, with a AAA discount.  $134?  For a romantic adventure right in SoCal?  Yeah!  So – I recommend you do it & I recommend very highly that you try that Chateaubriand Pittsburgh style!   Get the blood lust & indulge!  And then get lusty – and indulge!  This ship has your back!  A++++ from me!  Check out the Queen Mary website for more info – HERE.

When we left, we decided to eat at a local place for breakfast & settled on the nearby Starling Diner.   Miles grabbed a smoke in an alley – cuz that’s how he rolls.  I eventually got a $50 parking ticket there – because THAT is how I roll.  😦

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Cute!  And here is the inside:

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Check out the incredible menu!

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Crab cakes & eggs?  YUM!   And they serve alcohol!

Miles got a screwdriver with his bacon & eggs.  I stuck with only coffee to wash down my Eggs Benjamin.    Isn’t the food pretty?  And look how delicately they used the Hollandaise sauce!

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Miles likes his “cheesy eggs” with the cheese scrambled INTO the eggs.   You would be shocked how few times restaurants get that right for him.  They got it right at the Starling Diner!  I wish this place was in Hollywood because I could eat there every day.  Really fresh & delicious food & an imaginative menu & a really cute interior – and WINE!  Perfection.

So – from the Starling – we headed home – just in time for rush hour traffic headed back to LA.  But if you ever find yourself in Long Beach – be sure to treat yourself to one or both of these gems!  You won’t regret it!

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Squash (Zucchini) Blossom Quesadilla

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All Photos © Christine Elise McCarthy 2013

To see images of my past posts & get links to the recipes – look on my Pinterest board – HERE.

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All my posts now have a VERY customizable PRINT & PDF option.  Create a PDF & save the recipe to your computer or print it out.  It offers a “remove images” option & you can delete any part of the post you do not need before printing.  The button is below by the Twitter & Facebook links.

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I made a trip to the incredible Super King yesterday & now I have more cheese & produce than I know what to do with.  A HUGE shopping cart full of awesomeness for $135.  But I live alone & usually eat alone – so getting through all that before it spoils will be a challenge.  Still – it is worth noting that I bought three bunches of curly kale there for .99 cents.  They cost $2.50 a bunch at Gelson’s.  So – $1 or $7.50?  Which sounds better to you?  Or – those little plastic containers of cherry or grape tomatoes?  Between $5-$7 at Gelson’s – for ONE.  Same thing at Super King?  SEVENTY-NINE CENTS!  So – with just those purchases – I saved at least $10.  At least.  On one package of cherry tomatoes & three bunches of kale.  I saved ten dollars.  I wince to imagine what the contents of my $135 cart would cost at Gelson’s!  I bought a one-pound wedge of Ricotta Salata for about $6.50.   I got that grillable cheese – Halloumi – that I blogged about HERE – see?  YUM!

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Anyway – they had several brands to chose from ranging in price from $3.50 – $9.  Gelson’s has only one kind and I think it costs $11.  So – you get my point.

Yesterday – I was bizarrely pleased to see they had squash (zucchini) blossoms for sale again at $1.49 a bunch.  Bizarrely – because I already posted a fried zucchini blossom recipe last week and, frankly, I don’t know what you can do with them beyond that.

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Still – I bought two bunches.  Then I came up with a few ideas.  Quesadillas!  I have quesadillas on the brain.  And pizza!  Pizza with squash blossoms – coming soon!

So – this is a simple & beautiful quesadilla using fresh squash blossoms.  They are very delicately flavored so I opted for the mild fresh mozzarella cheese rather than the fontina I was considering.  You might want to try a different cheese.  I added tomato for color & jalapeno for color & flavor & this guy was yummy!  I hope you try it!

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Squash (Zucchini) Blossom Quesadilla

INGREDIENTS

1 tortilla

6 or so squash blossoms – stem & pistils removed (the pistil is that little furry candy corn thing growing in the center)

some sliced mozzarella

some diced tomato

some diced jalapeno

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DIRECTIONS

Heat a dry pan or prep a grill pan with cooking spray.  Heat it up.  Assemble your quesadilla.  Cook it on both sides until the cheese is melted & the outside looks browned.

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Eat that delicate motherfucker.  Know satisfaction.

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Spaghetti and Ricotta-Stuffed Roasted Eggplant Polpette (Meatballs) with Spicy Tomato Vodka Sauce

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All Photos © Christine Elise McCarthy 2013

To see images of my past posts & get links to the recipes – look on my Pinterest board – HERE.

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All my posts now have a VERY customizable PRINT & PDF option.  Create a PDF & save the recipe to your computer or print it out.  It offers a “remove images” option & you can delete any part of the post you do not need before printing.  The button is below by the Twitter & Facebook links.

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OK, admittedly, this one has a few steps but none are difficult & this dish is incredibly delicious.  In the interest of full disclosure – I must confess where my inspiration for this dish came from.  It came from a recipe in the Dallas News – that was accompanied by this picture below:

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I thought that was so pretty that I had to try it.  Their recipe used frozen meatballs & jarred vodka & pesto sauces.  I made the sauce from scratch.  They used fancy skewers that had black balls decorating the tops.  I used black olives – as they seemed to go very well with my eggplant polpette and I had no fancy skewers handy.  They also used angel hair pasta while I used whole wheat spaghetti.  In retrospect – angel hair is probably easier to wrap around skewers but I don’t imagine most of you will be attempting this presentation.  You should just go for this one:

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So – while you need to make the sauce (easy) and the eggplant mash (easy) and the ricotta stuffing (easy) – I am guessing you will find it all worthwhile – especially as this recipe makes about a dozen “meatballs” that were all nearly the size of a pool ball.  That would feed 4 easily – maybe even 6 – if you made more than a pound of pasta.  I opted to fry my polpette but they can also be baked (for 30 minutes or so at 350 – or until they are brown & just begin to turn crusty) if you are worried about calories (as I should be).

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Spaghetti and Ricotta-Stuffed Roasted Eggplant Polpette (Meatballs) with Spicy Tomato Vodka Sauce

INGREDIENTS

For the sauce

1 (28 oz) can of crushed tomatoes (or tomato sauce)

1 TBS olive oil

1 small onion – diced

4 cloves garlic – chopped

1/2 tsp crushed red pepper (or to taste)

1/2 cup vodka

1/3 cup heavy cream

1/4 cup chopped parsley

S&P to taste

For the eggplant polpette

2 small eggplants

1 egg

4 cloves garlic – chopped

1/2 cup parsley – chopped

1/3 cup basil – chopped

1 cup grated Parmesan

2 cups (or so) breadcrumbs

Vegetable oil for frying (or bake them at 350 for about 25 minutes)

Filling

1 cup ricotta

1/3 cup grated mozzarella

1/2 tsp crushed red pepper

1 TBS parsley – chopped

S&P to taste

1 lb whole wheat spaghetti (or other pasta)

If making skewers – you need skewers & a few pitted black olives

Fresh basil and/or parsley – chopped – as garnish

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DIRECTIONS

Heat the oven to 400 degrees.  Halve the eggplants & roast them, cut side down, for about 20-25 minutes or until they soften & begin to wrinkle.  Remove from the oven & allow to cool a bit.

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For the sauce – heat the olive oil in a stock pot.  Cook the onions & crushed red pepper until the onions soften.  Add the garlic & saute about a minute.

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Add the vodka and cook for a minute or two to cook off the alcohol a bit.  Add the canned tomatoes & the parsley.

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Simmer for about fifteen minutes.  At this point – I used an immersion blender & smoothed the sauce a lot.  You can do this, too, or do it in a blender or even leave the sauce with more texture.  Stir in the heavy cream & allow to simmer on very low heat.

In a bowl, mix the ingredients for the ricotta filling.

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In a food processor or blender, blend everything for the polpette except the eggplant and breadcrumbs.  When the other ingredients are chopped finely, scoop out the eggplant flesh & add it to the food processor.  Pulse until smooth.  Transfer to a bowl & add as much of the breadcrumbs (maybe less – maybe more) as you need to get a consistency that can be made into balls.

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To make the stuffed polpette, put the bowls of eggplant & stuffing near each other by the sink.  Wet your hands and scoop out some eggplant

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Create a little nest indentation & add some filling.  Top with more eggplant & create a little “meatball.”

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Mine started like golf balls but ended up more like pool balls.  Do this until the eggplant is gone.  I ended up with extra filling left over.  You may or may not – depending on how much you fill your polpette.  Try to patch any spots you see with filler peeking out with more eggplant.  If the filling seeps out while you fry them – they just get a little harder to manage in the oil & you risk them sticking to the pan or falling apart.

Bake them at 350 for 20-30 minutes or until golden & beginning to crisp.  OR – heat about 1/2 inch of oil & shallow fry them until they are golden brown or darker – all over.  Scoop out with a slotted spoon & drain on a paper towel.  If you like, you can put them in a warm (200 degrees) oven to keep them hot.

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Cook the pasta according to directions.

You can warm the polpette more by dropping them into the hot vodka sauce a few minutes before serving.

Serve pasta topped with sauce & a few polpette & garnish with chopped fresh basil and/or parsley.

Or – if you are feeling ambitious, wrap a few strands of pasta around a few skewers & stand the skewer up in a “meatball.”  Place that skewered meatball on a little pool of sauce.  Cap your spaghetti & skewer tip with pitted black olives & garnish with basil & parsley.  Brag at the water cooler tomorrow!

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Stracnar (Stracenate) Pasta with a Pan-Fried Cauliflower, Tomato & Clam Ragu

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All Photos © Christine Elise McCarthy 2013

To see images of my past posts & get links to the recipes – look on my Pinterest board – HERE.

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All my posts now have a VERY customizable PRINT & PDF option.  Create a PDF & save the recipe to your computer or print it out.  It offers a “remove images” option & you can delete any part of the post you do not need before printing.  The button is below by the Twitter & Facebook links.

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Stracnar & stracenate are both the same name for a pasta that originated in the Puglia area of Italy.  Stracenate is essentially an egg pasta that is rolled thin & then rolled over a cavarola board & embossed with a pattern.  The cavarola board looks like this (Photo courtesy of AdriBarrCrocetti.com)

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These are very hard to find & the few I could find cost over $60.  I didn’t want to commit that kind of money to what could end up being a one-use item – so I tracked this tiny plastic version down & bought it for $14 HERE.

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Actually, I didn’t expect it to be tiny – but it is.  It is like 2″x3″.  I would much prefer a larger one that could imprint as much pasta as possible in one go.  As it was – I had to cut my homemade paste into tiny squares & then run each one, individually, over this little guy.

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It wasn’t difficult to roll these guys out.  The little plastic cavarola came with a little grippy thing to put under it & a tiny rolling pin.  I quickly moved on to my real rolling pin but, though this is a sorta slow process, it was satisfying & kinda Zen to do.  I didn’t bother attempting any uniformity of shape.  The rustic, variations bothered me less than trying over & over to roll out uniform strips of rectangular pasta.  After about an hour total – I had stracenate for four drying on my counter.

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The fact is, you can make this pasta & just blow off the embossing part.  Once cooked, the imprint is somewhat less noticeable, anyway, and it is purely an aesthetic.

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It is really just an old-school throwback to a regional, Italian, artisanal pasta and I love that kinda thing – so I did it.  Plus – I have far too much time on my hands & making pasta of all kinds has a really calming effect on me.  And homemade pasta is as delicious as it is gratifying.

For this dish, I used the other half head of cauliflower I had after my Kraft Cauliflower No-Mac & Cheese endeavor.   I used tomatoes for color & clams for texture.   You could leave any one of those out & compensate with more of another & still get a great ragu.  I didn’t use live clams because of a clam Holocaust I caused a while back recounted here in my Arugula Bucatini & Spicy Clam Sauce post.  Also – this video bums me out.  How can you throw these guys into steaming pots?  Oof!

As to homemade pasta – my “tutorial” for that is HERE.  You could simply roll that dough out thin & cut it into rectangles with a knife & declare yourself a stracanate maker.  Who’s gonna call you on that shit?  Nobody.  Nobody who wants to eat your homemade stracanate, that is.  If another kind of pasta seems preferable – look HERE for a pretty decent selection of pasta doughs I have posted over the last year – doughs made from spinach or kale or arugula or beets or serrano/cilantro – etc etc.  Or – just use any shape boxed pasta.

A quick aside about quantity of spices: I like my food heavily spiced & very garlicky.  But – you can use things like crushed red pepper & garlic to suit your own taste – added to or subtracting from my suggestions.  That said – my boyfriend Miles (looking super badass in Texas last March)

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and I ordered a pizza delivered from the awesome Village Pizzeria.  They sent a little plastic container or crushed red pepper with the pizza.  It is THE HOTTEST fucking crushed red pepper on Earth.  I use 1/2 tsp of this stuff where I would use 3 TBS of the stuff in my cabinet.  I am guessing that they must just go through theirs very quickly so it is always fresh & powerful where my Costco-sized container sits on my shelf for over a year and become less potent.  At any rate – I bring this up because I typically suggest FAR larger amounts of crushed red pepper than I do in this recipe & that is because I was using the Village Pizzeria stuff.  The amount you really use is up to you & the spiciness of whatever crushed red pepper you are using.  I had no idea the spice factor could vary as much as the two different containers I have here – and I have no way of knowing how spicy YOUR crushed red pepper is – so – just spice this up to your taste.

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Stracnar (Stracenate) Pasta with a Pan-Fried Cauliflower, Tomato & Clam Ragu

(This feeds two very well)

INGREDIENTS

2 servings homemade stracenate (stracnar) or 1/2 lb dry pasta (perhaps a pappardelle?)

1/2 head cauliflower – cut into bite-sized florets

12 cherry tomatoes – halved or quartered (plus more for garnish)

2 (6.5 oz) cans clams

6 (or less) cloves of garlic – chopped coarsely

1 small onion – diced

Lots of chopped parsley plus garnish

1/2 tsp of crushed red pepper

Olive oil

S&P to taste

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DIRECTIONS

Make your pasta or get a box out of the pantry.

Heat 1-2 TBS olive oil in a large pan.  Pan-fry the cauliflower florets by letting them sit about a minute at a time on the hot pan – unmolested – before stirring them so that you get some browning as they cook.  Once browned & tender – put them in a bowl & set aside.

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If needed, add another TBS olive oil to the pan & saute the onion, tomato & crushed red pepper until the onion is soft & browning a bit.  In the photos below, you can see I left my garlic in pretty sizable chunks.  I find it is harder to burn that way – but it also results in you biting into huge garlic bits.  I have no issue with that.  If you do – cut your garlic smaller.

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Add your garlic & saute a minute or two & then add the clams (with the juice from the cans) and the cauliflower.  Add a handful of chopped, fresh parsley & add S&P to taste.  Heat through and allow to rest over lowest heat.

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Cook your pasta.  Homemade pasta is done when it floats to the top of boiling water.  Boxed pasta has instructions.

Drain the pasta, arrange some on plates & top with the ragu.  Garnish with additional raw, chopped tomato and/or parsley.  Enjoy your Italian stay-cation!

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Kraft Cauliflower No-Mac and Cheese

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All Photos © Christine Elise McCarthy 2013

To see images of my past posts & get links to the recipes – look on my Pinterest board – HERE.

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All my posts now have a VERY customizable PRINT & PDF option.  Create a PDF & save the recipe to your computer or print it out.  It offers a “remove images” option & you can delete any part of the post you do not need before printing.  The button is below by the Twitter & Facebook links.

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I had this idea in the bathtub last night.  Relaxing & sipping wine in candlelight – I sat up with a start!

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What if I made my favorite crack-like meal – Kraft macaroni & cheese – but used ONLY cauliflower?   I Googled the idea a bunch & tried to see if someone else had done it.  What I found is some scandal that Kraft puts powdered cauliflower in one of their boxed dinners.  I’m not sure if folks are mad that something that could be touted (in a stretch) as “healthy” is being added to the toxic soup that is a Kraft Mac & Cheese dinner or if they are mad that Kraft is claiming that powdered cauliflower counts as a veggie – nor do I care.  WTF, people?  If you want your kids to eat veggies – fucking feed them veggies.  And – anyone that goes to MacDonalds or eats Doritos or Funyuns or Kraft diners (as I sometimes do – as much as I try not to) and then whines that the food isn’t healthy enough or made them fat – to you I also say, “What the fuck?”  Didn’t the minor chemical burns in your mouth from eating those things (especially Funyuns) tip you off?  Or Morgan Spurlock’s near liver failure after 21 days of eating McDonalds?   Or pop artist, Ron English, & his supersized Ronald?

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(photo stolen from the internet)

If you are unaware of Ron English, by the way, you should change that.  He is an incredible fine artist & social satirist & street artist.  From billboard pirating to vinyl dolls to tremdous paintings – he is a prolific genius.  Some more samples (photos from Ron’s site –  https://www.popaganda.com/ ):

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At any rate – those junk foods are as widely known to be JUNK as cigarettes are known to cause cancer.   So – save your whining for the real food issues out there – like GMO labeling etc and a corrupted FDA and – either embrace the poisons & their glorious nutrition vacuums or eschew them.

OR – do what I did and keep ALL the cancer-causing dyed toxic powder waste of a Kraft “cheese” packet & then save a few calories by losing the only actual food item in the box (the macaroni) and replace it with a real, live, honest to God VEGGIE!

I am telling you – I was so excited about this idea that I left directly from my 8:15am tae-bo class & headed, looking like a drown rat, to Ralph’s & bought the things I needed – namely the cauliflower & milk – as I always have Kraft & butter in my house.

And – when this was all said and done & I sat down to shovel it into my face – the only regret I had was that I hadn’t used the entire head of cauliflower.  I used half – trying to match the bulk that the macaroni would have provided.  As it turned out – I feel there was enough of the buttery sauce to accommodate an entire medium head.  The sauce did seems a tad watery, though.  Maybe the starch from the pasta thickens that up.  In an effort to remedy that, I added about 1/4 cup of a mixed grated cheese (mozzarella & cheddar) that I had.  I didn’t notice much of a difference & decided not to add more – lest I do serious damage to the integrity of my experiment.  Still – after I photographed the bejesus out of my erotically orange results (Yes.  Yes – I feel that way about Kraft dinner.  Live with it.) – I noticed that the remaining sauce in the pan I used to mix it the whole shebang up in had thickened a bit.  So – I added that to my neon-colored cauliflower before I devoured the whole thing.  And then – I began to actually drink the sauce that was left in my bowl once the cauliflower was gone – like one would drink the milk left behind in a cereal bowl – until I realized I was really just drinking chemical-enriched butter & reluctantly put the bowl in the sink.

So – all in all – I would recommend this very much.  I ate the whole of that once-powdery then buttery orange nectar (or the bulk of it) and I sit here writing now, an hour later, without a stomach ache nor a sense of bloat nor am I awash with the traditional accompanying guilt.  If you like Kraft & you like cauliflower – you must try this.  Or – if you are a parent really trying to get kids to eat veggies – this might be just the culinary training wheels required – especially if you include the pasta.

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Kraft Cauliflower No-Mac and Cheese

INGREDIENTS

1 box Kraft Macaroni & Cheese

4 TBS butter

1/4 cup milk (or less)

1/4 cup (or more) grated cheese (cheddar or mozzarella or something else bland) – OPTIONAL

1 medium head cauliflower – cut into florets

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DIRECTIONS

Boil the cauliflower until tender.  Five minutes or less.

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Melt the butter in a sauce pan & add the milk & grated cheese (if using) and the glorious Kraft cheese powder.  Whisk smooth.

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Drain the cauliflower & return to the pan.  Pour the sauce over it & mix to blend.  You might want to let it sit a few minutes to thicken.  S&P to taste & you are off to the races!

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Brie Quesadilla with Smashed Balsamic Blueberries

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All Photos © Christine Elise McCarthy 2013

To see images of my past posts & get links to the recipes – look on my Pinterest board – HERE.

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All my posts now have a VERY customizable PRINT & PDF option.  Create a PDF & save the recipe to your computer or print it out.  It offers a “remove images” option & you can delete any part of the post you do not need before printing.  The button is below by the Twitter & Facebook links.

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This beauty is a three ingredient gem.  Of course, one of the ingredients is my Smashed Balsamic Blueberry Sauce but that is easy to make!  See?

Smashed Balsamic Blueberry Sauce

INGREDIENTS

6 oz fresh blueberries

1 shallot – minced

1/2 TBS olive oil

2 oz balsamic vinegar

1/2 tsp fresh rosemary – minced

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DIRECTIONS

Heat the olive oil in a small stock pot & saute the shallot until it softens.

Add the other ingredients & bring to a boil.

Lower heat & simmer about 5 minutes.  I used a potato masher & smashed about half the blueberries.  The edge of a wooden spoon would work, too.  Just be careful because this is a sticky, molten lava.

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See?  And the only other things you need are tortillas & brie.

I heated a tortilla in a dry pan, slathered it with blueberry sauce & some brie.  I folded it & compressed it with a pot lid, waited two minutes & repeated that on the other side.

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It was sweet & savory melty goodness.  I ate it standing up.  There are no calories that way.

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Smashed Balsamic Blueberry Sauce

3 Comments

All Photos © Christine Elise McCarthy 2013

To see images of my past posts & get links to the recipes – look on my Pinterest board – HERE.

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All my posts now have a VERY customizable PRINT & PDF option.  Create a PDF & save the recipe to your computer or print it out.  It offers a “remove images” option & you can delete any part of the post you do not need before printing.  The button is below by the Twitter & Facebook links.

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This is really easy & REALLY delicious & would go well on sweets (ice cream) or on chicken or fish or even grilled cheese sandwiches.  Try it!  Yummy!

Smashed Balsamic Blueberry Sauce

INGREDIENTS

6 oz fresh blueberries

1 shallot – minced

1/2 TBS olive oil

2 oz balsamic vinegar

1/2 tsp fresh rosemary – minced

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DIRECTIONS

Heat the olive oil in a small stock pot & saute the shallot until it softens.

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Add the other ingredients & bring to a boil.

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Lower heat & simmer about 5 minutes.  I used a potato masher & smashed about half the blueberries.  The edge of a wooden spoon would work, too.  Just be careful because this is a sticky, molten lava.

Now – get creative with how you use it!

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Kale, Mushroom & Ricotta Open-Faced Quesadilla Pizza with Roasted Tomatoes & Feta

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All Photos © Christine Elise McCarthy 2013

To see images of my past posts & get links to the recipes – look on my Pinterest board – HERE.

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All my posts now have a VERY customizable PRINT & PDF option.  Create a PDF & save the recipe to your computer or print it out.  It offers a “remove images” option & you can delete any part of the post you do not need before printing.  The button is below by the Twitter & Facebook links.

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These pizzas or open-faced quesadillas are the easiest thing ever & they cook up really fast – so it leaves time to get fancy with your toppings.  Not that roasting tomatoes or sauteing kale are complicated adventures but they are extra steps beyond a simple sauce & cheese (for pizza) or solomente cheese – in the case of quesadillas.   The quantity of the ingredients for these gets difficult to define as everyone likes a different level of cheese & ratio of vegetables etc.  What I can say is that a head of kale wilts down to a quantity likely to be sufficient for 3-4 of these medium-sized tortillas.  I can’t be sure because I kept eating it out of the pan while I waited for the tomatoes to roast.  I roasted a few grape tomatoes & one Roma – for no other reason than those were the ones that needed cooking most urgently.  At any rate, with pizza and quesadillas, there is really no proper recipe, but rather a suggestion of toppings & fillings.

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Kale, Mushroom & Ricotta Open-Faced Quesadilla Pizza with Roasted Tomatoes & Feta

INGREDIENTS

Tomatoes – cut into a large dice (cherry & grape tomatoes – halved)

Kale – ribs removed & chopped

Mushrooms (I used about 10-15 to a single head of kale) – sliced

Garlic (I used 3 cloves) – chopped

Crushed red pepper (I used about 1 tsp)

Olive oil

Ricotta cheese

Feta cheese

Tortillas

S&P to taste

DIRECTIONS

Heat the oven to 400 degrees.  Toss the tomatoes in a little olive oil & some S&P.  Roast them on a parchment paper-lined cooking sheet for about 20 minutes or until they go from A to B – as shown below.

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Set the tomatoes aside.

Remove the ribs from the kale & chop it.

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Heat about 1-2 TBS olive oil in a large pan.

Add the chopped garlic & saute about 30 seconds & then add the mushrooms and crushed red pepper.  Saute over med-high heat, stirring often, until they they begin to brown.  Add the kale & saute until it wilts – only a few minutes.

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Add S&P to taste.

Now – I added a step here where I baked the tortillas first before I topped them.  I had seen another recipe that suggested this so I tried it.  I am not really sure what it achieves.  They do puff & brown nicely – but then they get a little brittle for handling & the edges get too cooked after the final round of baking.  So – if you want to try it – simply poke them all over with a fork & put them on a greased cooking sheet in the 400 degree oven for about 6 minutes or until they come out like below.  Or – you can just start topping the tortilla raw & bake it up.

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Then simply slather a little ricotta on there.

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Add some of the kale-mushroom mix & the feta & the roasted tomatoes.

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Then – simply cook them up in a 400 degree oven for about 6 minutes or until it looks like mine below.  Divvy that shit up or eat it all yourself.  I ain’t judging.  🙂

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Grilled Zucchini & Fresh Mozzarella Whole Wheat Quesadilla with Poached Egg

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All Photos © Christine Elise McCarthy 2013

To see images of my past posts & get links to the recipes – look on my Pinterest board – HERE.

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All my posts now have a VERY customizable PRINT & PDF option.  Create a PDF & save the recipe to your computer or print it out.  It offers a “remove images” option & you can delete any part of the post you do not need before printing.  The button is below by the Twitter & Facebook links.

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You thought I was fucking around when I said I’d gone bonkers for quesadillas.  I wasn’t.  They are just so endlessly customizable – you can find one to suit any meal or any mood.   This one works really well for breakfast.  The only tricky thing is the egg poaching – a skill I have yet to master.  HERE are a few tutorials on doing it right.  Review a few to get an idea of the techniques & the results they provide.

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Grilled Zucchini & Fresh Mozzarella Whole Wheat Quesadilla with Poached Egg

INGREDIENTS

Whole wheat tortilla

Fresh mozzarella

Grilled zucchini

1 egg

DIRECTIONS

Slice & grill your zucchini (I dip mine in Italian dressing first).  Put a tortilla in a dry pan over med-high heat.  Layer the cheese & zucchini & fold over.  I use a pot lid to apply pressure & retain heat.

Meanwhile – poach an egg.

Flip your quesadilla.  It should take 2-3 minutes on each side for the cheese to melt & the tortilla to brown up a bit.

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Top with the poached egg & plenty of fresh ground pepper.  Eat it up!

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Grilled Zucchini & Chipotle Cheddar Quesadilla with Coca Cola Caramelized Onions

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All Photos © Christine Elise McCarthy 2013

To see images of my past posts & get links to the recipes – look on my Pinterest board – HERE.

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All my posts now have a VERY customizable PRINT & PDF option.  Create a PDF & save the recipe to your computer or print it out.  It offers a “remove images” option & you can delete any part of the post you do not need before printing.  The button is below by the Twitter & Facebook links.

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BathingandthesinglegirlCover vromans back

You will soon realize that I am on a quesadilla spree that isn’t even close to over.  I made this bad boy last night & I was very pleased with myself!

The onions were a tad charred but I actually enjoyed the flavor it gave them.  They were, however, very hard to photograph!

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They kinda look like fat, dark worms but they were both savory & sweet & they complimented the cheese very nicely.  If you do not care for – or cannot find – Chipotle cheddar, any other cheese you might prefer in a quesadilla is certainly an option.

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Grilled Zucchini & Chipotle Cheddar Quesadilla with Coca Cola Caramelized Onions

INGREDIENTS

Zucchini – sliced thin & grilled (I dipped mine in Italian dressing first)

Tortillas

Chipotle cheddar (or other cheese) – sliced thinly

1 large red onion – sliced thinly

1/2 can Coca Cola

1 TBS brown sugar

2 tsp olive oil

1 TBS butter

Guacamole or parsley or cilantro or jalapeno as garnish

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DIRECTIONS

Grill the zucchini.

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Heat the oil & HALF of the butter & the brown sugar.  Add the onions & saute over medium heat for a good ten minutes – not stirring often so that they can brown.  Add the remaining butter & stir occasionally for ten additional minutes.  Once all the oil & butter are absorbed or evaporated – pour a little Coke in to deglaze the pan.  As it gets absorbed, add the rest of the Coke.  When the onions are completely soft & browned, set aside.

Then – simply assemble the quesadilla the normal way.  Heat a dry pan.  Place a tortilla in it.  Layer the cheese, zucchini & some of the onions & fold the tortilla.  I use a put lid to apply pressure & trap the heat.  After a minute or two – flip the quesadilla.  Garnish as you will & devour!

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Brie Quesadilla with Jack Daniels Honey Whiskey-Soaked Cherries

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All Photos © Christine Elise McCarthy 2013

To see images of my past posts & get links to the recipes – look on my Pinterest board – HERE.

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All my posts now have a VERY customizable PRINT & PDF option.  Create a PDF & save the recipe to your computer or print it out.  It offers a “remove images” option & you can delete any part of the post you do not need before printing.  The button is below by the Twitter & Facebook links.

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This Jack Daniels Honey Whiskey cherry idea was my boyfriend’s.  He loves my Jack Daniels Whiskey & Honey Glazed Carrots – a lot.  When I ran a few of my quesadilla ingredients by him (one using Coca Cola & another using balsamic vinegar) – he suggested something with this whiskey.  So – essentially – I made the exact recipe but with fresh cherries instead of carrots.  It is outrageous!  I used it in this quesadilla but it would be incredible on anything from salmon to chicken to ice cream.   Crazy yummy!  Maybe just pour it over a wedge of brie & serve it with a crusty bread.  Ymmmmm!

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Brie Quesadilla with Jack Daniels Honey Whiskey-Soaked Cherries

INGREDIENTS

Tortillas

Brie – sliced thin

1 cup fresh cherries – pitted

2 TBS butter

1 TBS brown sugar

3 sprigs of thyme – leaves only

1/4 cup Jack Daniels Honey Whiskey

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DIRECTIONS

Melt one of the tablespoons of butter in a large saute pan over high heat.  Add cherries and thyme & stir – sauteing them for 2-3 min.  Remove the cherries to a bowl with a slotted spoon.

Add the whiskey & let it saute for 30-45 seconds.  Reduce heat & melt the remaining tablespoon of butter.  Add the brown sugar & stir to combine.  Once a glaze begins to form – a minute or two – add the cherries back to the pan & stir to get them coated in glaze.  Cook another minute or two & set aside.

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Then – simply assemble the quesadilla the normal way.  Heat a dry pan.  Place a tortilla in it.  Layer the brie & some of the cherries & fold the tortilla.  I use a put lid to apply pressure & trap the heat.  After a minute or two – flip the quesadilla.  When golden on both sides – unceremoniously shove it in your face and commence to making another!

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