Friday, September 22, 2023

Apple butter crumb muffins


This is a sponsored post by Challenge Butter, but the text and opinions are all mine. Thank you for supporting brands that make Kylee's Kitchen possible! 

Did you get caught up in fall fever at the apple orchard and now you’re stuck with 20 pounds of apples and you’re not sure what to do with them all? Been there, done that. And I have some ideas on ways to use your apples!

Did you know you can make applesauce by cutting apples into chunks (core apples but keep peels on), sticking them in the microwave, and then blending them in a blender? It doesn’t need to be a multi-hour recipe with a bunch of sugar.

And then you can take some of that applesauce to make apple butter just by simmering it and reducing it on the stove. 

And THEN you can use that apple butter to make the most delicious apple muffins!

A couple of notes before you get started:

1.  There are 2,500 varieties of apples grown in the United States, but not all of them are great for making applesauce. You want to choose a softer apple with flesh that breaks down easily, like fuji, cortland, or McIntosh.

2. You can absolutely add spices and sugar to your applesauce or apple butter if you want! 

3. I was able to blend the apples without adding any extra liquid to the blender. I had to stop and stir the mixture a few times, but eventually it all blended. If your apples aren't very juicy or if you don't have a high-powered blender, you may need to add a little liquid. I recommend apple cider or apple juice if possible, and start with just a tablespoon of liquid, increasing the amount if necessary.

4. Nappe is a term used to describe the thickness and consistency of a sauce. A sauce is nappe when you can coat the back of a spoon and draw a line through the sauce with your finger. The sauce shouldn't move. That's the consistency you want for your apple butter.

5. The amount of apple butter yielded from a certain amount of applesauce will depend on how much liquid evaporates from the sauce and how long you simmer it. So it may not be the same amount each time.

6. I've made the muffins with and without the crumb topping, and I think they're much better with a crumb topping. It adds a lot of texture, and it really jazzes them up. You could also try adding nuts to the muffin batter for texture.

7. You don't want the crumb topping to be a paste. Make sure it looks clumpy. I recommend using Challenge Salted Caramel Butter Snack Spread in the crumb topping. It's the perfect consistency when used straight from the refrigerator, and it gives the muffins an extra flavor boost.

Blender applesauce 

Yield: Makes about 20 ounces applesauce

Time: 20 minutes


  • 2 pounds apples (soft variety like fuji, cortland, or McIntosh)


  1. Microwave apples in microwave-safe bowl with lid for 10 to 15 minutes, or until apples are easily pierced.
  2. Transfer apples with juices to high-speed blender. Blend until desired consistency. If necessary, add apple juice or apple cider, 1 spoonful at a time, until blender runs.

Apple butter

Yield: Makes about 12 ounces apple butter

Time: 20 minutes


  • 20 ounces applesauce
  • 2 teaspoons cinnamon, if desired


  1. Bring applesauce to simmer in large pot. Continue to simmer over low-medium heat for 15 - 20 minutes.
  2. Check doneness by using spoon to draw line through apple butter on bottom of pot. Apple butter is done if line holds.

Apple butter crumb muffins

Yield: Makes 12 muffins

Time: About 45 minutes


For the crumb topping

For the muffin batter

  • 3/4 cup / 90 grams all-purpose flour
  • 3/4 cup / 90 grams whole-wheat flour
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground cloves
  • 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground nutmeg
  • 1 cup / 240 milliliters apple butter
  • 1/2 cup / 113 grams butter, melted
  • 1/2 cup / 105 grams dark brown sugar 
  • 2 large eggs, room temperature
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract


For the crumb topping

  1. Preheat oven to 425 degrees Fahrenheit. Line 12-count muffin pan with liners. Set aside. 
  2. Mix together flour, brown sugar, and cinnamon. Use fork to mix in butter until you have large crumbles. Set aside.

For the muffin batter

  1. In large bowl, mix together both flours, baking soda, cinnamon, cloves, salt, and nutmeg.
  2. In medium bowl, mix apple butter, butter, sugar, eggs, and vanilla extract.
  3. Pour wet ingredients into dry ingredients and mix until just combined.
  4. Divide batter evenly into each liner. Spoon crumb topping evenly over batter, gently pressing down.
  5. Bake for 5 minutes at 425 degrees Fahrenheit, then with muffins still in oven, reduce temperature to 350 degrees Fahrenheit. Bake for another 15 minutes or until toothpick inserted in center comes out clean. 
  6. Allow muffins to cool for 5 minutes pan before transferring to wire rack.

Monday, September 11, 2023

Vegan Nachos with Walnut Mushroom Taco "Meat"


I never thought when we visited the small town of Girdwood, Alaska in 2021 that I would still be thinking about one of the meals we ate there TWO YEARS later. Jack Sprat is an American restaurant that offers a variety of unique vegan options. One of their most popular dishes is the "nacho libre," "adventurous vegan nachos." Normally I wouldn't get nachos at a restaurant just because I feel like that's something I can make at home. But all the reviews raved about the nachos, so we ordered them. I'm so glad we did. They were 10 times more flavorful than any nachos I've ever had, and it had a lot to do with the vegan walnut mushroom "meat."

I've wanted to recreate the nachos at home for a very long time, and I finally did it in honor of National Mushroom Month. The recipe starts by combining sundried tomatoes, spices, lime juice, portobello mushrooms, and walnuts in a food processor. Pulse just until the mixture resembles meat crumbles. DO NOT puree the mixture or pulse too many times. You do not want a paste! Then you brown the mixture on the stove. It's safe to eat without cooking it, but I think it resembles and tastes more like meat when you brown it. I recommend using portobello mushrooms because they are the most meat-like variety of mushroom. Make sure to remove their woody stumps and their gills before using them. The gills can have a bitter taste and trap sand and dirt. Just use a spoon to scrape them out.

After you've made the "meat," it's time to make the "cheese" sauce. It starts by blooming the spices in oil and then making a roux with flour. The gluten in the flour makes the cheese sauce stretchy, like real cheese sauce. Then add nutritional yeast to the flour--this is what gives the sauce its cheesy flavor. The mixture will be very clumpy, so slowly add the milk a little at a time, whisking until its' smooth and the consistency you want. Leftover cheese sauce will need to be thinned out.

Now it's time to assemble the nachos! I followed Jack Sprat's lead by layer pico de gallo and radishes on top of the chips and "meat" crumbles. I also like to add jalapeno slices for heat and pickled red onions for a hit of acid.

Vegan Nachos with Walnut Mushroom Taco "Meat"

Yield: 1 large platter nachos

Time: About 30 minutes


For walnut mushroom taco "meat"

  • 2 Tablespoons sundried tomatoes
  • 2 Tablespoon lime juice
  • 2 teaspoons chili powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon garlic powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon onion powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon cumin
  • 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 3 portobello mushrooms, woody stem and gills removed
  • 2 cups walnuts
  • 1 Tablespoon avocado oil

For vegan cheese sauce

  • 3 Tablespoons avocado oil
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon garlic powder
  • 1/4 teaspoon curry powder
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground paprika
  • 1/4 teaspoon cayenne powder
  • 1 Tablespoon yellow mustard
  • 3 Tablespoons all-purpose flour
  • 6 Tablespoons nutritional yeast
  • 1 cup unsweetened almond milk 

For nacho assembly

  • Tortilla chips
  • Pico de gallo
  • Radishes, sliced thin
  • Pickle red onion
  • Jalapenos, sliced thin
  • Avocado, diced


For walnut mushroom taco "meat"

  1. Pulse sundried tomatoes, lime juice, chili powder, garlic powder, onion powder, cumin, and salt in food processor until tomatoes are finely chopped.
  2. Add mushroom and walnuts to food processor. Pulse until texture resembles ground beef. Don't overdo it! You don't want a paste. Alternatively, finely chop everything and mix with spices.
  3. Heat 1 Tablespoon avocado oil in large skillet over medium heat. Transfer mixture to skillet and cook for about 10 minutes or until mixture releases its liquid and is browned.

For vegan cheese sauce

  1. Heat oil in small saucepan on low heat.
  2. Add salt, garlic powder, curry powder, paprika, and cayenne. Whisk for about 30 seconds to bloom spices.
  3. Add yellow mustard and whisk to combine.
  4. Add flour and whisk.
  5. Add nutritional yeast, and whisk. Mixture will be very clumpy.
  6. Add milk and whisk on low heat for a few minutes. If it gets too thick you can add a little bit more water and whisk again.
  7. Add cold milk a little at a time while whisking until smooth after each addition. If sauce is too thick, add a little more milk.
  8. Remove from heat.

For nacho assembly

  1. Drizzle cheese sauce on bottom of platter and layer tortilla chips on top of cheese sauce.
  2. Sprinkle taco "meat" over chips. Top with pico de gallo, radish slices, pickled red onions, jalapeno, avocado, and finish with more cheese sauce. Serve immediately.
  3. Store leftover taco "meat" and cheese sauce in refrigerator for up to 5 days.

Thursday, September 7, 2023

Blue bean dip

NFL games start this weekend, and the Colts' first game of the season is on Sunday! Many people will gather around their TVs to watch all the action unfold, and undoubtedly they’ll be snacking.

You all know I love to make themed foods, so I wanted to make a special “Colts blue” snack.

The problem: it is very hard to find naturally blue foods! Of course, I could use blue dye, but that is unappealing (no one wants a blue mouth).

But thanks to science, we can use red cabbage and baking soda to make blue bean dip!

Red cabbage (sometimes called purple cabbage) is a natural pH indicator because it contains anthocyanins—chemicals that change color in response to pH changes. Anthocyanins turn red when mixed with acids and blue when mixed with bases.

So if we add a little red cabbage and baking soda to our dip, it will naturally turn blue!

The key is you cannot use any acid in the recipe because then it won't work. A lot of bean dip recipes use lemon juice, but lemon is an acid, so it will mess with the color if we add it to this recipe.

Blue bean dip

Yield: Makes about 1 1/2 cups of bean dip

Time: About 10 minutes


  • 1 (15.5 ounce) can cannellini beans, drained and rinsed
  • 4 cloves garlic
  • 3 Tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
  • 2 Tablespoons tahini
  • 1 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 1 teaspoon ground cumin
  • 1/2 teaspoon black pepper
  • 1/4 teaspoon cayenne
  • 1/4 teaspoon paprika
  • Optional: Fresh herbs like rosemary, thyme, and  parsley
  • 1/2 cup to 1 cup (50 to 100 grams) red cabbage, chopped
  • 1/4 to 1/2 teaspoon baking soda


  1. Add beans to bowl of food processor or high-speed blender and blend until smooth, creamy, and lighter, about 1 minute. Add up to 2 tablespoons water if necessary to keep blades moving.
  2. Add garlic, olive oil, tahini, salt, cumin, black pepper, cayenne, paprika, and herbs. Blend until smooth.
  3. Add 1/2 cup red cabbage and 1/4 teaspoon baking soda and blend until smooth. Be sure to blend for a full minute to allow for the color to develop. Add more red cabbage and baking soda (a little at a time) if necessary to adjust color. 
  4. Taste and adjust seasonings. Serve with pita chips, pretzels, tortilla chips, etc.

Thursday, August 24, 2023

Roasted eggplant focaccia sandwich for a crowd

Roasted eggplant focaccia sandwich for a crowd

Yield: 8 servings

Time: 45 minutes


For the eggplant

  • 2 small to medium eggplants (about 1 1/2 pounds), sliced into 1/2-inch-thick rounds
  • 1/4 cup olive oil
  • 1 teaspoon Kosher salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon fresh ground black pepper
  • 1/4 teaspoon smoked paprika
  • 1/4 teaspoon cayenne

For the pesto mayo

  • 1/2 cup mayonnaise
  • 1/2 cup pesto 

For the sandwich

  • 1 (9x13-inch) loaf focaccia
  • 8 ounces fresh mozzarella, thinly sliced
  • 1 cup bread and butter pickles
  • 1/4 red onion, thinly sliced
  • 2 cups greens (I like a mix of arugula and spinach)


For the eggplant

  1. Preheat oven to 400 degrees Fahrenheit. 
  2. Place eggplant slices on large rimmed baking sheet and brush both sides with oil. Season with paprika, salt, and pepper. 
  3. Roast until tender, about 30 minutes. Set aside to cool.

For pesto mayo

  1. Mix pesto and mayo together.

For sandwich assembly

  1. Place focaccia flat on cutting board, turn serrated knife sideways, and slice horizontally through center. Set top piece aside.
  2. Spread half the pesto mayo on bottom half of loaf. 
  3. Layer with mozzarella, eggplant, pickles, red onion, and greens.
  4. Spread remaining pesto mayo on top half of loaf and gently press on top of sandwich.
  5. Cut sandwich into 8 servings.

Thursday, August 17, 2023

Peach Cobbler Cake

This is a sponsored post by Challenge Butter, but the text and opinions are all mine. Thank you for supporting brands that make Kylee's Kitchen possible! 

There are a wide variety of baked fruit desserts that are all similar but have different names and variations depending on the region you live in. For some people, cobbler consists of a fruit base with a biscuit-like topping. For other people, cobbler is more like a cake. And that's the kind of cobbler I'm making today! I'm calling it a cobbler cake to avoid confusion.

I wanted to capitalize on the last of the fresh peaches left this season. As I'm sure you know, the last of the crop isn't usually the best of the crop. So the best way to consume them is to bake them.

So why make this type of cobbler as opposed to the biscuit-like cobbler? Well, peaches don't get as saucy as berries when baked, so cobbler biscuits don't soak up peach juices in the same way they soak up berry juices. But peaches bake up well into a cake-like cobbler.

Here's what I like about this cobbler cake:
  • You don't need to peel the peaches! The skin gives the peaches structure.
  • You can make it in one bowl. 
  • It's delicious warm, room temperature, or cold. My preference is warm with a scoop of ice cream!
I know you're ready to just skip to the recipe, but there are a couple more things I want to point out. 
  1. Soaking the peaches in peach schnapps can help intensify the peach flavor, especially if your peaches aren't super flavorful. The alcohol will mostly bake off in the oven. But the schnapps is optional.
  2. Always toast your nuts before adding them to a recipe. Always!
  3. You can place the baking dish with butter inside the refrigerator so the butter layer hardens making it easier to spread the batter on top. Also, you can substitute with equal amounts brown butter. The butter will rise up the sides of the cake creating delicious, chewy edges. Just make sure to use a good quality butter. I always use Challenge unsalted butter because I know the rich taste will shine through in the final product.
  4. If you do not have buttermilk, make your own. Pour 1.5 cups milk into a cup, remove 1.5 Tablespoons of the milk, add 1.5 Tablespoons lemon juice or white vinegar in its place, stir and let sit for 10 minutes.
  5. The purpose of the almonds and the decorating sugar is two-fold: for aesthetics and to add crunch. No big deal if you don't have decorating sugar.

Peach cobbler cake
Yield: Makes about 12 servings
  • 4 fresh peaches (about 12-14 ounces)
  • 1/4 cup peach schnapps (optional)
  • 1/2 cup sliced almonds
  • 8 tablespoons (1 stick or 113 grams) Challenge unsalted butter
  • 1 1/2 cups (180 grams) all-purpose flour
  • 1 cup (200 grams) brown sugar
  • 1 Tablespoon baking powder
  • 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground ginger
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground cardamom
  • 1/4 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 1 1/2 cups (360 ml) buttermilk
  • 1/2 teaspoon almond extract
  • 2 tablespoons decorating or Demerara sugar
  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit.
  2. Slice peaches into 1/2-inch slices and place in bowl with peach schnapps. Set aside.
  3. Spread almonds on baking sheet and bake until toasted, about 7-8 minutes. Set aside.
  4. Meanwhile, place butter in 11x7-inch baking dish. Place dish in oven and allow butter to melt. This should only take a few minutes. Set baking dish aside.
  5. Combine flour, brown sugar, baking powder, cinnamon, ginger, cardamom, and salt in large bowl. Add buttermilk and almond extract to dry ingredients and mix until just combined.
  6. Pour batter in even layer over melted butter. 
  7. Spoon peaches over batter. Sprinkle with almonds and decorating sugar.
  8. Bake. 50 minutes or until golden brown. Check doneness by lightly tapping center of cake. If cake bounces back, it's done.

Thursday, August 3, 2023

Brown butter miso chocolate chip cookies

This is a sponsored post by Challenge Butter, but the text and opinions are all mine. Thank you for supporting brands that make Kylee's Kitchen possible! 

Many people have opinions about what makes the perfect chocolate chip cookie, and I am certainly not here to debate them. The purpose of this post is for me to share a new kind of chocolate chip cookie with you—a brown butter miso chocolate chip cookie. This cookie is thick and chewy and sweet and salty and nutty and complex. They're everything I could want in a cookie, and it's all thanks to the addition of brown butter and miso.

Both brown butter and miso are trendy in the food world right now. Sometimes people overdo it with trendy ingredients because they don't ask themselves what purpose it serves. That's why I want to explain why brown butter and miso work well in chocolate chip cookies.

The easiest way for me to do that is with a series of questions.

What is brown butter?

Brown butter is butter cooked past the melting point so the milk solids caramelize. This results in a toasty, nutty flavor. You can make brown butter by melting butter on the stove. The butter will sizzle, bubble, and foam, and then you'll see amber-colored flecks on the bottom. Brown butter has a subtle nutty, caramel flavor that works really well with brown sugar in cookies.

What is miso?

Miso is fermented soybean paste. That probably doesn't sound like an ingredient you want in chocolate chip cookies. But the nutty, salty flavor of white miso paste is subtle, and it perfectly balances the sweetness of chocolate chip cookies.

Can any butter become brown butter?

Technically, yes, but I do have some suggestions. First, use unsalted butter. I always use unsalted butter when I bake so I can adjust the salt levels separately. Different brands of butter contain different salt levels. Second, if you're taking the time to brown butter, it's probably one of the star ingredients in your recipe, so I recommend using a good quality butter. I always use Challenge unsalted butter. Challenge butter is made with 100% real pasteurized sweet cream. That’s it. Nothing artificial or synthetic. 

Do I need to treat brown butter differently than regular butter?

Yes! I'm a proponent of weighing all ingredients for correct measurements, and this is especially true with brown butter. It's very important to weigh the butter AFTER browning because it loses water weight during the browning process. That's why you will notice that the initial weight of the butter in the recipe (310 grams) is different than the actual amount you will add to the dough (226 grams). You will probably have leftover brown butter. Lucky you! Spread it on toast or crackers for a delicious snack!

Can I use the brown butter while it's still melted?

No, I don't recommend it. When baking cookies, all butter, including brown butter, needs to be room temperature—not melted. That means you need to chill the brown butter until it is solid and then cream the butter with sugar. The sugar granules cut into the butter and create tiny air pockets to give it lift. If you don't do this, you'll end up with cookies that look like puddles. 

What type of chocolate should I use?

I like to use a combination of chopped dark chocolate and mini semi-sweet chocolate chips. I think dark chocolate pairs better with miso than sweeter chocolates like milk chocolate. And chopped chocolate results in a more even distribution of chocolate throughout the cookie.

Brown butter miso chocolate chip cookies

Yield: Makes about 28 cookies

Time: About 2 hours


  • 1 cup + 6 Tablespoons (310 grams) Challenge unsalted butter
  • 1 3/4 cup (375 grams) dark brown sugar
  • 1/4 cup (50 grams) granulated sugar
  • 3 Tablespoons (63 grams) white sweet miso paste
  • 2 large eggs, room temperature
  • 2 teaspoons vanilla extract
  • 3 1/2 cups All Purpose flour (420 grams)
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons baking soda
  • 1/4 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 1/2 cup (85 grams) dark chocolate, chopped
  • 1/2 cup (85 grams) mini semi-sweet chocolate chips


  1. Heat butter in stainless steel pot with high sides over medium-high heat. Stir frequently, at least every minute. Butter will sizzle and foam. Once milk solids look amber in color and smell nutty, remove pot from heat and pour butter into bowl. Refrigerate butter until it’s room temperature.
  2. Measure out 1 cup brown butter (226 grams) and place in mixing bowl. Add both sugars and miso to bowl.
  3. Cream butter, sugars and miso on high speed until mixture is light and fluffy. 
  4. Turn mixer to low and add eggs one at a time. Mix in vanilla.
  5. In separate bowl, combine flour, baking soda, and salt. Add flour mixture to butter mixture, and mix until almost combined. 
  6. Fold in chocolate, and mix until just combined.
  7. Cover dough and refrigerate at least 1 hour or up to 24 hours.
  8. When ready to bake cookies, preheat oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit.
  9. Measure out 50 grams dough (about 1/4 cup) and roll into ball. Place dough on greased baking sheet or baking sheet with silicone baking mat. 
  10. Bake for 11-12 minutes, rotating cookie sheet halfway through baking time.
  11. Remove baking sheet from oven and cool for several minutes before moving to wire rack to cool completely.
  12. Store cookies in airtight container for up to 5 days.

Thursday, May 4, 2023

Parmesan Asparagus Puff Pastry Tarts


This is a sponsored post by Challenge Butter, but the text and opinions are all mine. Thank you for supporting brands that make Kylee's Kitchen possible! 

Puff pastry can really elevate any dish. It's light and flaky and bakes up golden brown. I've always loved its versatility. It's the star of multi-layer desserts like a French Napoleon. Or twist it with parmesan for simple and thoroughly delicious cheese straws. Recipe developer Lily Ghodrati recently posted a video on TikTok featuring honey, nectarines, and puff pastry. She baked the tarts with the puff pastry on top and flipped them over after baking, very much like what you would do with the classic French dessert tarte tatin. Her video went viral, garnering over 45 million views. It has since spurred many other creators to share savory and sweet puff pastry videos using the same method with the puff pastry on top. The benefit of baking with the puff pastry on top of the filling is that the puff pastry stays flaky and crisp without the filling making it soggy.

I decided to hop on the upside down puff pastry train as well with parmesan asparagus tarts. I started with a layer of parmesan cheese, topped with asparagus and prosciutto, and then slathered in compound butter before finishing with a strip of puff pastry. When baked upside down, the parmesan forms a crispy crust. And the compound butter infuses everything while allowing the puff pastry to remain crispy. I used Challenge Unsalted Butter to make the compound butter. Challenge Unsalted Butter is 100% real cream butter—nothing artificial or synthetic.

There are a few things to keep in mind when working with puff pastry:

  • You can make your own puff pastry, but the only time I've done that is in culinary school. If you buy puff pastry, look for all butter dough. It makes a big difference.
  • Make sure the puff pastry is thawed, but it still needs to be cold. It shouldn't be room temperature. You want the buttery layers to remain separate. Work quickly once it is thawed.
  • Make clean cuts so you don't crush the layers, which would prevent it from puffing.

Parmesan asparagus puff pastry tarts

Yield: Makes about 12 tarts

Time: About 30 minutes


For the compound butter

  • 1 stick of Challenge unsalted butter, room temperature
  • 2 garlic cloves, minced
  • 1 Tablespoon parsley, minced
  • 1 Tablespoon chives, minced
  • 1/2 teaspoon lemon zest
  • 1/4 teaspoon kosher salt

For the tarts

  • 1 roll puff pastry, thawed but still cold
  • Parmesan cheese, grated (you’ll need about 1 cup)
  • 12 asparagus spears, woody ends removed
  • About 3 slices prosciutto, cut in fourths
  • Egg wash (1 egg mixed with 1 Tablespoon water)


  1. Preheat oven to 425 degrees Fahrenheit. 
  2. Cut puff pastry into 12 equal pieces. Return to refrigerator.
  3. Mix compound butter ingredients together. Set aside.
  4. Prepare baking sheet with parchment paper. 
  5. Sprinkle parmesan cheese in strip about the length of an asparagus spear in one corner of parchment paper. 
  6. Place 1 asparagus spear on top of parmesan.
  7. Place 1 piece prosciutto on top of asparagus.
  8. Place about 1 Tablespoon compound butter over prosciutto.
  9. Remove puff pastry from refrigerator and lay one strip over prosciutto. Brush with egg wash.
  10. Bake for 12 - 15 minutes or until puff pastry is golden brown.
  11. Remove from oven and flip each tart over before serving.

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