Garden Fresh Eggplant Parm Sandwiches

Posted by Katie Cooks On Thursday, September 16, 2010 0 comments

Miles started a garden with is students over the summer. It's a fairly large plot of land, and it has flowers and a variety of veggies. There were some some disappointments. For example, rabbits ate the lettuce and the beans never grew. But there were also many successes. We have tomatoes and cucumbers coming out of our ears, the flowers are beautiful, and the kids worked hard and had a lot of fun. The other week Miles brought home two medium eggplants and told me I needed to figure out how we could use them. I thought about it (for quite a while), and I came-up with eggplant parmesan. I first planned to make a layered casserole style, but then I decided I was more in the mood for a sandwich, so here is what I came up with. I hope you enjoy them!

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Herb Roasted Chicken with Shallots, Pears, and Walnuts

Posted by Katie Cooks On Thursday, September 2, 2010 0 comments

It seems that summer is over. The days are getting noticeably shorter, back to school ads have been showing up in the paper for a while now, my summer job has ended, and I have been preparing my classroom for the upcoming school year. No more lazy afternoons for me. Although this is a little difficult to admit, I think I am honestly okay with the transition. It feels good to be out in the world accomplishing something worthwhile once again. Sure, I don't get that afternoon nap, but I think I sleep better at night because of it. And...I really do like fall. The days get a little cooler (which will feel good after this years HOT summer). The leaves are pretty, and of course, I love fall flavors. That's what I was thinking when I found a similar recipe in a past issue of Cooking Light. Roasted chicken is always comforting and delicious, but when you add the sweetness from the pears and shallots with the nutty walnuts, well, you have yourself a delectable seasonal meal.

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No Rise Caramel Pecan Cinnamon Rolls

Posted by Katie Cooks On Friday, July 23, 2010 1 comments

Do not fear; I have not set down my spork and skewer. Admittedly, I have been a bit sidetracked this summer. We have a lot going on in my family at the moment. Allow me to explain. First, Miles and I are expecting our first baby. Baby Cady should be arriving right around Christmas time. I was feeling tired and vaguely nauseous most of the time, but I am feeling better now. In fact, I feel almost normal. YEAH! Second, my sister's wedding (Amanda and Ted) is creeping up very quickly. The wedding is a mere eight days away! We have been busy planning and organizing details for the big day. And finally, the kink in our lives is that my dad was recently diagnosed with bladder cancer. As soon as the wedding is over, my dad will be beginning treatment. He seems to have a world class doctor and an aggressive treatment plan, so we are all confident that everything will turn-out okay. The endless appointments, tests, and scans have been stressful over the past few weeks, but we are all ready to support and help out any way we can.

Well, on to the recipe. This yeast free sticky roll is based on a Lunds and Byerly's recipe. And trust me, if you need to de-stress or cheer up a bit, these cinnamon rolls are guaranteed to point you in the right direction.

Fresh Veggie Spring Rolls

Posted by Katie Cooks On Monday, June 7, 2010 0 comments

Whenever my husband and I go out for Thai, we always begin our meal with an order of spring rolls. Over the past eight years, I have learned to love this fresh little appetizer. If you haven't had them before, a spring roll is like an herbed salad encased in a rice noodle wrap. We usually dip them in a sweet and sour peanut sauce.

I needed a project on Friday after work, so I stopped at the store, bought up the best looking fresh veggies, and went to work as soon as I got home. Miles was doubtful that I could pull them off, but he changed his tune when he took his first bite. These rolls have it all. They are pretty on the plate, tasty in your mouth, and healthy for you. Not to mention versatile. Fill them with any veggie you have in fridge, in your garden, or just happen to love.           
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Quesadilla Pie

Posted by Katie Cooks On Wednesday, June 2, 2010 1 comments

As far as Miles and I are concerned, Mexican food always satisfies. Case in point. Last night, on his way home, Miles called me. I was on the phone with my friend Kim, and I didn't click over. She was in the middle of story, and I thought it would be rude to interrupt her. Then Miles called again, and I still didn't click over. It just wasn't the right time in the conversation. Needless to say, when I finally called him back, Miles was a little short with me. However, when he got home and saw all my Mexican fixings sprawled out on the counter, his mood immediately changed.

Miles: "Ohhh...(rubs palms together in anticipation) ...tacos?!!"
Me: "Close. Are you hungry?"
Miles: "Um...yeah!"

Our night turned happy, and all because of this quick, easy, and downright delicious little recipe. Turn your evening around, and make my quesadilla pie tonight!

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Pecan Tassies

Posted by Katie Cooks On Friday, May 21, 2010 3 comments

It's wedding season, and my little sister Amanda is getting married. Several of us are having a bridal shower for her this Sunday afternoon. My aunt and I came up with the a Southern Tea theme. Hats are required; gloves are optional. It should be fun. We are serving fruited iced teas, a couple salads, croissants, and a variety of mini treats for dessert. I decided to take on the pecan tassies. Many years these show up as Christmas cookies, but I knew they would be perfect for this occasion since they are basically cute, little pecan pies. These are not as fussy to make as one might think. The end result is delicious and impressive. I know these dainty little treats will be a hit on Sunday!

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Beefy Tortellini Soup

Posted by Katie Cooks On Thursday, May 6, 2010 2 comments

My mom gave me this recipe a couple years ago. I am pretty sure she got it from my aunt Linda. I remember Linda making it for us when we were younger. My cousins and I always loved the cheese filled tortellinies. I loved them so much, that I would save them for last when I was young. I have always been that way; save the best for last. I still assess my plate each evening, and then eat my meal from least favorite to favorite. Now that I think of it, this sounds slightly obsessive. Oh well. Fortunately, I have gotten over my habit when it comes to a composed dish (like soup). Trust me, this is one is all good.

I love this soup recipe because in the winter it warms me up, and in the summer it is delicious with fresh green beans and squash. Hope this one makes many repeat performances on your table, all year round.

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Turkey and Spinach Lasagna Roll-Ups

Posted by Katie Cooks On Thursday, April 29, 2010 0 comments

Lasagna is one of my all-time favorite foods. When I go to an Italian restaurant, there is a very good chance I will order the lasagna. The gooey cheese between the layers of noodles and meat or veggies, is just comforting. My mom taught me the roll-up method. This method greatly reduces the "fussy factor" that is often involved in assembling a lasagna. You will also end-up with perfectly portioned servings. You only need one noodle per serving, so when you couple that with my use of nonfat ricotta and lean turkey, this is a fairly figure-friendly meal. Cook this up for dinner tonight, or pack it up to share with a neighbor or relative. Everyone will love it. Enjoy!

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Orange Salmon En Papillote (in Parchment)

Posted by Katie Cooks On Tuesday, April 20, 2010 3 comments

My mom, sister, her fiance, Ted, and myself, are all on Weight Watchers. Actually, Miles won't attend meetings, but he is also on the plan. I have been in search of new recipes that are both tasty and Weight Watcher friendly. Salmon is not the lowest point fish, but it is considered a filling food, and is therefore, a good choice for us. Good thing, because it is no secret how much I love salmon. If you are not dieting, please don't be scared away; you will love my new recipe. Weight Watchers, or no Weight Watchers, this is downright delicious.

En papillote is simply a very fancy name for cooking in little parchment paper bundles. Foil would also work for this application. There are lots of reasons why I really love this method. One, it is healthy because there is no oil needed. Two, your chicken, fish, or veggies will always come-out moist and delectable because all the juices are sealed-in. Three, it is impressive. If you serve this to guests, they each get theor own little "gift" to slice open, and oh my goodness, the mouthwatering aroma that steams out when you cut open the packets, YUM!  And, maybe best of all, you can assemble these little packets ahead of time, and then pop them in the oven 15-20 minutes before you are ready to eat. Reallly, this is a snap. This particular recipe, which is modified from Cooking Light via, is soooooo good. I highly, highly recommend making this recipe as soon as possible. Wow your guests, or fancy-up a weeknight, like we did. You won't be sorry.

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Sun Dried Tomato Stuffed Chicken Breasts

Posted by Katie Cooks On Friday, April 16, 2010 2 comments

I have mentioned before how I am the weeknight cook at our house. Miles works until 6:30, so I try to have dinner ready by the time he gets home. By the time I get off work, run my errands, maybe stop at the gym and finally get home, I often have very little time to spare. So, quick dinner options are always welcomed. When you couple quick with healthy, that's even better. This recipe hits both marks, and scores a bonus for adaptability. I made this dish twice in a two week span, and Miles didn't even notice because I altered it to fit what I had on hand; leeks one week, and sun dried tomatoes the next. This one is a definite keeper.

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Lemon Poppy Seed Cake

Posted by Katie Cooks On Thursday, April 8, 2010 3 comments

After Miles and I got married (nearly 2 whole years ago!), I felt there was still something missing from our loot of kitchen gear we received for wedding and shower gifts. Trust me, this is an unbelievable statement, considering the tons and tons of gifts we got from our lovely family and friends. But there was one thing, and that was a Bundt pan. There has always been something about that fluted tubular pan that somehow makes a cake taste better.

Now, perhaps it was last summer, or perhaps it was the summer before, when I was perusing the aisles with my aunt Linda at the weekly Annandale Swapper's Meet (flea market). As we were walking along, she asked me if I was looking for something in particular. So, I shared with her the one void I still had in my kitchen cupboards. This was a fateful day, because not one half hour later, I was walking across the parking lot with my treasure, an Original Nordic Ware Bundt Pan. I am embarrassed to admit that I almost passed-up this valuable find when the seller did not want to come down under $8. Linda, you are very wise. You convinced me that $8 was a small price to pay for a classic, fail proof- pan. You knew that I had to have the original. I must admit; it is one of the best (kitchen) purchases I have ever made.

Now, I have a gift for you, and anyone else who also cannot resist the allure of a moist, delectable, springtime lemon poppy seed cake. I made this cake for the second time at Easter, and it was a hit. I knew it would be the second I carefully slid it out of my wonderfully reliable Bundt pan. I hope you enjoy this unbelievably moist treat as much as my Easter crowd did.

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Celebrity (esque) Guacamole

Posted by Katie Cooks On Monday, March 29, 2010 0 comments

You are probably wondering what the deal is with that name. Allow me to explain.

Guacamole reminds me of the MN State Fair. Up until very recently, there was a delicious upscale Mexican restaurant by the name of Tejas located in Edina, MN. This restaurant also had a very popular spot at the state fair. My mother-in-law, who is the director of the State Fair Foundation, is friends with the owner and chef of this restaurant. Well, each day of the fair, Tejas would do a feature called Celebrity Guacamole. The way it worked is they would bring in a local "celebrity," and I am using that term extremely loosely here, and would do a sort of interview as the owner, and head chef made a batch of guacamole with the guest. One day a few years back, Kay was asked to be the guest for Celebrity Guacamole. She agreed, but then got busy, or maybe just decided she didn't want to do it, and sent Miles to do it instead (see what I mean by loosely?). So, he did. Miles got to feel like a celebrity for 10 minutes, and he also learned a few tricks to making very tasty guacamole.

This recipe is our own, but the secret ingredient, Worcestershire sauce, is from Tejas. It is that special something that sets this recipe apart.

If you are not already a local celebrity, make this guacamole to share. Don't be surprised if your popularity starts increasing!

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Chocolate Hazelnut Blondies

Posted by Katie Cooks On Friday, March 26, 2010 0 comments

There is a gal at work who teaches our 8th Grade World Language class. The class is really a culture class, and they focus on Spanish, German, and French, which happen to be the three languages our high school offers. Anyway, each day at lunch, Jen brings in her jar of Nutella and finishes off her meal with a heaping spoon of the chocolate hazelnut spread. (FYI: Nutella is to France as peanut butter is to America) I think all of the eighth grade teachers find this practice a bit odd, yet endearing and quirky. So...yes, I do have a point, when we decided to have a potluck luncheon this past week, I knew it would be the perfect occasion to try-out this Martha Stewart blondie recipe. (You can find the original here.) This recipe was quick and easy, and most importantly...Jen approved!

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Carrot Pancakes with Honey Butter Drizzle

Posted by Katie Cooks On Wednesday, March 17, 2010 0 comments

It appears, and I don't want to jinx this, but it appears that spring may have [finally] arrived in Minnesota. It has been a long, snowy winter. So, when the sun finally came out last Sunday, and it seemed that everyone on the block was out of hibernation, I decided it was time for a springtime breakfast. It was the perfect opportunity to bask in my sunny, yellow kitchen and cook-up these lovely carrot pancakes. I dug this recipe out of my January issue of Cooking Light, and knew that with a few tweaks, it would be perfect for the occasion. Carrot cake is a springtime pleaser in my family. The honey butter drizzle must have been delectable, because Miles didn't even miss the cream cheese frosting.

I about fell out of my chair, when I saw that Kristin, over at Picky Cook, also posted a carrot pancake recipe this week. I guess it is that time of year! Make sure you check-out her post. She is an awesome cook, and she takes beautiful pictures.

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Rosemary Infused Potato Gratin

Posted by Katie Cooks On Saturday, March 13, 2010 0 comments

I have been looking for an excuse to use the mandolin I bought Miles for Christmas. I know; it's March; Christmas is long past, but I thoroughly believe it was a good purchase. I just need to prove it. I think I found a recipe that makes a pretty convincing argument. These potatoes are rich, comforting, and unexpectedly simple. Don't be surprised when this side dish easily one-ups the main dish. That chicken breast doesn't stand a chance next to potatoes like these. Hope you like them!

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Katie's Perfect Margarita

Posted by Katie Cooks On Thursday, March 11, 2010 2 comments

I have unofficially sanctioned this second week of March, a Margarita Week. Why? you ask. Don't worry, I have several very good reasons.
         1. My cousin Nic and girlfriend Mel were [finally] able to come over last Sunday for our
         much discussed, highly anticipated dinner date (Mexican at our house this time, Thai at
         theirs next time). Yeah!
         2. Miles's mom and dad are returning from a nearly two week stay in Mexico this week.
         Care for a homecoming margarita?
         3. We are having a Mexican feast on Saturday. Miles and I are planning the menu; we
         need some inspiration.
         4. It's raining; it's sloppy; it's dreary. Need I say more?

Now, I feel I should tell you Miles usually makes the margaritas around our house. He uses Rick Bayless's "Margaritas for a Crowd," which can be found in one of our favorite cookbooks, Salsas that Cook. They are very simple, very authentic, and very tart. Miles loves them, and they are delicious, but I think I have made them even better (sorry, Rick). I prefer to start with the basic recipe, and add a little sugar to balance out the tartness. Sure, maybe I add a few calories in the process, but I guarantee these are much better tasting and MUCH better for you than a ready to use mix. The final product has morphed into Katie's Perfect Margaritas.

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A 90th Birthday Worth a Million Bucks!

Posted by Katie Cooks On Monday, March 8, 2010 5 comments

In honor of my grandma's 90th birthday (3/1/10), my mom arranged for the family to go back to grandma's  hometown of New Prague, MN. We all enjoyed a delicious Czechoslovakian lunch at Schumacher's Hotel and Grill 212, which was just reopened last September by the renowned MN chef, John Schumacher.

Chipotle Turkey Burgers with Carrot Slaw and Spicy Mayo

Posted by Katie Cooks On Monday, March 1, 2010 0 comments

I love burgers. In my book, burger = satisfying. There is something about picking up a burger with two hands, scoping-out the thickness of the bun, the patty, and the toppings, and then taking a big old bite. A burger worth its salt may even make you question whether or not you can actually take a bite that big. But I'm always up for the challenge, not matter what kind of burger it may be. I know what some of you are thinking.Turkey burgers? No way. Well, guess what; it is possible to cook-up a turkey burger that is juicy and delectable. Turkey can be the perfect blank slate to host a multitude of creative flavors. Start with my Mexican inspired patties, and then try creating your own perfect version.

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Mango Salsa

Posted by Katie Cooks On Saturday, February 27, 2010 0 comments

This one goes out to my peep Rachel. Rachel is the salsa queen. When Miles and I took a trip to Mexico with Rachel and her husband, Eddy, I don't think Rachel ate anything besides chips and salsa throughout the whole week. This isn't because Rachel doesn't care for other types of Mexican food. No, it's because she just loves fresh salsa that much. Tomato salsa is delicious, but in the winter, it's tough to get a good tomato. Mango salsa is the answer. So, if you're like Rachel, whip up a batch, or five, and mosh on this sweet and spicy treat all week long.

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Rise and Shine Egg Sammie

Posted by Katie Cooks On Thursday, February 25, 2010 0 comments

Isn't it infinitely more pleasant to wake-up when you naturally wake-up (which for me, is NOT 5:15)? Wouldn't you rather sit at the table at breakfast time, and not at a steering wheel? For these reasons, and many more, I live for the weekends. 

My weekday fare, a travel mug of coffee and two bland pieces of toast, served in the car, just doesn't cut it on Saturday morning. I need something that is both interesting and hardy. I guarantee that this egg sammie is everything you need to get you out of bed (when you're ready) and keep you going through all your weekend adventures.

My only remaining question...Is it Saturday yet?

Sweet Onion Jam

Posted by Katie Cooks On Saturday, February 20, 2010 0 comments

French onion soup is one of Miles and my favorite treats. When onions are caramelized, all their pungency melts away, and they become sweet and delicious. The method used here is very similar to starting a French onion soup, but this time, we use that flavor to create a sweet and savory jam that is both versatile and delectable. With a little bit of time, but very little fuss, this condiment will take your dinner from ho-hum, to holy cow.  We often serve our onion jam with lamb, pork, chicken, or even as a topping for crusty bread, as we did here. I hope you enjoy this treat as much as we do.

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Raspberry Shortbread Cookies with White Chocolate Dusting

Posted by Katie Cooks On Saturday, February 13, 2010 2 comments

In honor of Valentine's Day, I wanted to make a really special cookie. When I found this recipe over at The Joy of Baking, I knew that I had found what I was looking for. These treats are delicate, tender, and flaky . If you can stand to share, these cookies would make a really thoughtful gift. Happy baking, and Happy Valentine's Day!

Pulled Pork, Take Two: Smoked Shoulder

Posted by Katie Cooks On Friday, February 12, 2010 0 comments

I promised you a second method for the delicious party food that is pulled pork. This is of the manly, smoked variety.  My husband takes great pride in his smoked pork, and has been perfecting this method for years. Prepare this shoulder when you have some time; we're talking 6-12 hours. You might call this a labor of love. It's worth every minute.

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Feed a Crowd: Pulled Pork, Crockpot Method

Posted by Katie Cooks On Thursday, February 11, 2010 2 comments

Party food is tricky, especially when you're expecting a crowd. We try to opt for something informal, inexpensive, and tasty. That can be a tough bill to fill. Pulled pork sandwiches are a great answer. This fare is close to my heart because my in-laws hosted the grooms dinner for our wedding with a pig roast. The fun, casual vibe was perfect for our friends and family to socialize and celebrate the eve of our wedding. These sandwiches are reminiscent of that day. The root-beer pork is my method (tender, tangy, and crock pot friendly), and the smoked shoulder is my husband's version (we're talkin' low and slow). Try one; try them both. Which will you prefer?

Lemon Ricotta Pancakes

Posted by Katie Cooks On Saturday, February 6, 2010 1 comments

After eating these pancakes at Hell's Kitchen in Minneapolis, and then again at the location in Duluth, Miles could not stop raving about these cakes. So, when my mom heard the owner, Mitch Omer, was coming out with a cookbook, Damn Good Food: 157 Recipes from Hell's Kitchen., my mom knew she had the perfect Christmas gift for my husband. She was right. Miles made these for me on New Year's Day, and then again a couple weeks later. I am sure they will show-up again very soon. Trust me when I tell you the humble pancake has been elevated to be something extraordinary. These are sweet, light, and delicate. These pancakes are fancy; these are "I love you pancakes." Please, set aside a little bit of time on a Saturday or Sunday morning, and make these for someone you love.

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Mushroom Risotto

Posted by Katie Cooks On Wednesday, February 3, 2010 4 comments

 How can something as simple and plain be transformed into something so creamy, rich, and delicious? Risotto is a wonderful thing because it is inexpensive, and impressive. Admittedly, I never grew-up eating risotto. This is something my husband introduced to me back when we were dating. I decided to keep both him, AND the risotto. When you make this, you'll understand.

Aromatic Salmon

Posted by Katie Cooks On Monday, February 1, 2010 0 comments

At our house, we look forward to Friday nights. As often as we can, we like to fix a nice meal, something that is a little bit fancy, but still simple, open a bottle of wine, and cook together. This usually means I clean-up as Miles cooks, but when salmon is on the menu, that's okay with me. This is based on a recipe from the Bon Appetit Cookbook, and it is definitely in our Friday night repertoire. We've made salmon many different ways, and most have been good, but this is a simple method that always turns out great. This preparation would be simple to change around to fit your personal taste, or fit whatever happens to be in the fridge. I hope this turns into your go-to salmon dinner.


Leeky Potatoes

Posted by Katie Cooks On Saturday, January 30, 2010 2 comments

At our house, we love leeks. They have a mellow onion flavor and can be cooked down to be sweet and creamy. A few years back, for my mom's 50th birthday, I made a delicious leek tart. Recently, Miles made a French onion type soup with leeks; it was a hit. Last week, I had a another leek craving; this is what I came up with. We served this baked potato as our main dish with a salad on the side. This recipe could be easily modified as a twice baked potato. In that case, I would serve half a potato per person as a side dish. If you are scared of leeks, give this recipe a try. You won't be sorry!


Balsamic and Herb Vinaigrette

Posted by Katie Cooks On Wednesday, January 27, 2010 1 comments

There are a few things that I am willing to admit about homemade salad dressing. 1. It takes a little more time than opening a bottle, and 2. It does have more calories.'s worth it. Trust me on this one. Miles often insists on whipping up a batch of this vinaigrette at dinner time, and who am I to decline? Give it a try; you might never go back to the bottled stuff.

Tomato Basil Soup

Posted by Katie Cooks On Tuesday, January 26, 2010 0 comments

My first recipe! We decided to try out a new recipe for tomato basil soup last night. The recipe is adapted from my Cooking Light Complete Cookbook. I chose this recipe for two reason. 1. My mom gave me a huge can of tomato juice (and I don't like Bloody Marys) and 2. It was cold and blustery yesterday, and that kind of weather calls for a warm, comforting bowl of soup. This recipe was great in the winter with canned tomatoes, and would probably be good with garden fresh tomatoes in the summer. An all season recipe! What a great way to begin.

Day 1: I'm new to this blogging thing.

Posted by Katie Cooks On Monday, January 25, 2010 8 comments

So here's the story. I've been wanting to start my very own cooking blog for a long time. I spend too many hours reading them online. I love to cook. In fact, cooking and eating are pretty much the focal point of the day for both my husband and me. We argue over who gets to cook. We collect cookbooks and read them like novels. I am addicted to Food Network. My celebrities are cooks and chefs. I would rather meet Rachel Ray or Anthony Bourdain than Madonna or Brad Pitt. Is that crazy? Maybe, but I'm sure I'm not the only one out there.

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