Roasted Vegetable Couscous with Halloumi

A super simple, gorgeously light yet filling vegetarian dish that should satisfy even the biggest of appetites.

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This gorgeously light, yet filling vegetarian dish is taken up a notch by the addition of golden halloumi.

Roasted Vegetable Couscous with Halloumi - This gorgeously light, yet filling dish is the perfect addition to your vegetarian recipe repertoire. | thehecticcook.com

 

Why hello there. I realise it’s been a while. And that I’m not particularly consistent. Sorry about that. So I could jabber on for a few paragraphs about where life is at the moment (it’s hectic), what I’m up to (not a lot), or what pride-inducing antics my kids are up to (it’s hard to describe the full stabbing-oneself-in-the-eye-with-a-spoon-agony delight of the girls’ putting on their own dancing displays, showing varying degrees of expressive choreography – think Worzel Gummage being electrocuted). But if you’re like me, you’re going to skip to the recipe anyway, to see if it’s actually something you’d want to cook (basically, does it have a gazillion ingredients and require a water bath?). So I’ll keep this simple for you.

The original recipe comes from BBC Good Food, and to be perfectly honest, I’ve not done a great deal to it. Basically I’ve added halloumi. Because, why not?? Halloumi, like bacon and chorizo, can take any dish to a different level. Period. This is a gorgeously light, yet filling dish that should satisfy most appetites (ok, perhaps not the ardent meat eaters out there, I’m not delusional), and is the perfect addition to your vegetarian recipe repertoire.

Roasted Vegetable Couscous with Halloumi - This gorgeously light, yet filling dish is the perfect addition to your vegetarian recipe repertoire. | thehecticcook.com

Ingredients

3 red peppers, deseeded and sliced
150g mushrooms, halved or quartered depending on size
2 courgettes, cut into thick sticks
2 garlic cloves, peeled and bruised (ie flattened with the side of a knife)
1 tbsp olive oil
1/2 tsp sugar
12 cherry tomatoes, halved
1/2 tsp chilli flakes
200g couscous
400g can of chickpeas, drained
200-250ml vegetable stock
50g mascarpone or soft cheese
1 block (∼225g) halloumi, cubed

1. Heat your oven to 180°C (fan) and prepare the veg. Note here, you want the courgettes in nice thick batons so that they hold most of their shape on roasting.

Roasted Vegetable Couscous with Halloumi | thehecticcook.com

 

2. Put the peppers and courgette in a roasting tray with the garlic, oil, sugar and some seasoning (don’t be stingy). Chuck this in the oven for 20 minutes, then add the mushrooms, tomatoes and chilli, give a stir around, and roast for another 20 minutes.

Roasted Vegetable Couscous with Halloumi - This gorgeously light, yet filling dish is the perfect addition to your vegetarian recipe repertoire | thehecticcook.com

Note, you can use just one big roasting tray for this dish as you aren’t looking for the veg to crisp, so don’t worry if the tray seems a bit overcrowded. You want them softened and squidgy, releasing their lovely juices.

3. Make up the vegetable stock (it needs to be just made so that it is hot enough to cook the couscous). You can use just boiling water here instead, but I feel the couscous needs the additional flavour of the stock. Stir together in a bowl the couscous and the chickpeas, then pour over the stock until the couscous is just covered.  Clingfilm the bowl and leave it to stand for at least 10 minutes (if it stands for longer, it doesn’t matter).

Roasted Vegetable Couscous with Halloumi - This gorgeously light, yet filling dish is the perfect addition to your vegetarian recipe repertoire | thehecticcook.com

Once cooked, fluff the couscous with a fork, adding a little more stock if you think it needs it (although it probably won’t).

4. Whilst the veg is still in the oven (after the addition of the mushrooms etc), start to cook the halloumi. Heat a large frying pan over a medium high heat, and spread the cheese out, making sure each piece is nicely spaced. You don’t need oil.

Roasted Vegetable Couscous with Halloumi | thehecticcook.com

The halloumi will release some water, then once the pan has dried out start turning the cheese to get it golden all over.

5. Remove the veg from the oven and stir through the mascarpone (or soft cheese). Divide the couscous between 4 plates and then top it with the roasted veg and some halloumi.

Roasted Vegetable Couscous with Halloumi - This gorgeously light, yet filling dish is the perfect addition to your vegetarian recipe repertoire. | thehecticcook.com

 

This is such a simple and quick dish. You can have it on the table in 30 minutes; unless you cook like me, I’m incapable of getting a meal out in that kind of time, I’m not sure the checking of Instagram every 3 minutes helps…

If you’re looking for a vegetarian dish to try, give this a go, I promise you won’t be disappointed.

Roasted Vegetable Couscous with Halloumi - This gorgeously light, yet filling dish is the perfect addition to your vegetarian recipe repertoire. | thehecticcook.com

Happy cooking!

 

If you’d like to try more vegetarian meals then give my Filling Lentil Curry a try.

Filling Lentil Curry - A really substantial and filling vegetarian curry that is simple to make and won't disappoint | thehecticcook.com

Filling Lentil Curry

This filling lentil curry is a substantial vegetarian dish that will satisfy any appetite, and is super simple to make.

So after all the sharing of cake recipes and last weeks Fudgy Easter Egg Brownies, not to mention the abundance of chocolate everywhere, I figured perhaps a healthier recipe was the order of the day.

I’m one of those people who kids themselves that because I eat pretty healthy meals most of the time, I’m doing myself a favour. I tend to cook from scratch and more-often-than-not stick to meals that are generally classed as healthy. I then conveniently ‘forget’ about the kilo of chocolate I’ll have eaten to get me over the mid-afternoon slump. Or the gallon of ice-cream I packed away whilst home alone of an evening. I do genuinely love healthy food. I also genuinely love cake and chocolate. Oh well.

This is a good example of one of those healthy meals. I love this. If you’re looking for a good vegetarian meal, this is substantial and filling. It’s also really simple. Enjoy it with some fluffy basmati rice and naan bread, and you honestly won’t be disappointed. Add in a large glass of Sauvignon Blanc, and follow it with a slab of chocolate fudge cake. Winner!

Filling Lentil Curry - A really substantial and filling vegetarian curry that is simple to make and won't disappoint | thehecticcook.com

 

Ingredients (Serves 4)

1 tbsp oil
1 onion, finely chopped
2 tsp garlic paste / 2 garlic cloves, crushed 
1 heaped tbsp medium curry powder
1 heaped tsp garam masala
200g red lentils
700ml vegetable stock
1 tin of chopped tomatoes
1 tsp salt

1. Heat the oil in a large pan over a medium heat. Add the onion and soften gently (about 10 minutes).

Filling Lentil Curry | thehecticcook.com

Add the garlic and cook for a couple more minutes.

2. Add the curry powder and garam masala, stir and cook for a few minutes more.

Note:

Don’t misread the quantities of curry powder and garam masala, one is a tablespoon, one is a teaspoon!


Filling Lentil Curry | thehecticcook.com

3. Add the lentils and stir to coat.

Filling Lentil Curry | thehecticcook.com

4. Pour in the stock and tomatoes, add the salt and stir.

Filling Lentil Curry | thehecticcook.com

5. Pop the lid on the pan and cook for 30-40 minutes over a medium low heat, stirring often to avoid the lentils sticking to the bottom of the pan.

Filling Lentil Curry | thehecticcook.com

The curry is ready once the lentils have absorbed most of the liquid and are soft. If it looks like the pan is drying out before the lentils are cooked, add a little bit more water to the pan.

Filling Lentil Curry - A really substantial and filling vegetarian curry that is simple to make and won't disappoint | thehecticcook.com

6. Serve with rice and/or naan.

I had a bit of a mare with the naan on this occasion. I often make it in the bread machine, and it turns out fine. Not this time for some reason. It was a gloopy, unmixed mess. So cue sending the Husband to Tesco for some naan bread (it’s imperative I serve this dish to the kids with naan bread as Hannah doesn’t eat rice, at all, and at least I know they’ll all have eaten something if naan bread is included – as a parent do you ever feel like a short-order cook?). So I went to take the naan breads from Tesco out of the oven, and promptly dropped them all over the floor. Oh well, dirt is good for kids.

Happy cooking!

If you’re looking for some more vegetarian meals there’s also my Quorn Chilli Burritos, Mushroom Stroganoff, Skinny Veggie Lasagne (excuse the photos, it’s an oldie), and Garlic Tomato & Basil Risotto.

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Quorn Chilli Burrito

A really simple family-friendly meal that makes a bit of a change to the usual meals I dish up to the kids.

So it would appear that having four children home for seven weeks straight does not leave much time for doing anything other than basic survival activities (I am so sick of bleedin’ parks). Who would have thought?! However, the summer holidays are (finally) over, and the little darlings are back ensconced (for at least a couple days a week) at school/nursery. Is that fanfare and trumpets I hear?

So I have some time to myself. Some ‘Me’ time – you know, time to drink a hot cup of tea; time to take a shower for longer than 3 minutes; time to take a poo without constant screaming and interruption. Aah, yes. Me time.

And time to get back to my blog. In all honesty, our meals over the summer haven’t been terribly exciting. Lots of meat, chips and salad. But as the weather gets cooler I always find I cook more. And bake more.

This recipe is one that I approached with trepidation, regards the kids. You never know what’s going to go down well, and what isn’t. However, this went down great! I think if you put anything in a bread item – wrap, bap, pitta etc – my kids will eat it. And they seem to prefer Quorn mince to beef mince – I think it’s a texture thing.  If you’re looking for something a little different, but not too different, give this a go.

Ingredients

2 cloves garlic, crushed / 2 tsp garlic paste
1 tbsp oil
300g Quorn mince (1 whole packet)
1 tin chopped tomatoes
1 tsp chilli powder
1 tsp ground coriander
2 tsp ground cumin
1 tsp salt
1/2 tsp smoked paprika (optional)
1-2 cans of beans (kidney beans, cannellini beans, barlotti beans etc), drained & rinsed
1 oxo cube, crumbled
∼ 200ml water
tortilla wraps
grated cheese

1. Heat the oil over a medium heat and add the garlic. Cook for a couple of minutes without burning the garlic. As an aside, I don’t buy heads of garlic anymore, it’s either the paste or frozen. I realise this isn’t very economical, but boy is it quicker.

Quorn Chilli Burrito | thehecticcook.com

2. Add the packet of Quorn to the pan and stir through the garlic.

Quorn Chilli Burrito | thehecticcook.com

Quorn Chilli Burrito | thehecticcook.com

3. Now add all the remaining ingredients, bar the cheese and the wraps. I used two tins of beans as I wanted to bulk it out, but if you only want to add one, that’s fine. I like to add smoked paprika to my chilli, as it gives a lovely subtle smoky flavour. But if you don’t have any, just leave it out. The cumin and chilli powders are what add the real ‘chilli’ flavour.

Quorn Chilli Burrito | thehecticcook.com

 

 

Stir together all of the ingredients, pop the lid on and let cook on a low heat for about 30 minutes. Quorn doesn’t really need much cooking, but this will give it enough time for all the flavours to strengthen.

Quorn Chilli Burrito | thehecticcook.com

4. Once the chilli is cooked you need to assemble your burritos. Place a couple of spoonfuls of chilli into the centre of a tortilla wrap – don’t try to over fill it as it’ll just spill out and you’ll end up in a bit of a mess. Add a sprinkling of cheese if you so desire – with my kids, cheese is essential. Fold opposite sides in, one on top of the other, and then the other two opposite sides, to make a parcel (I don’t have a photo, but I figure you’ll work it out).

Quorn Chilli Burrito | thehecticcook.com

 

5. Heat a frying pan to a medium-high heat – there’s no need for oil, these are dry-fried. Place as many burritos as you can into your pan without overcrowding them – you need to be able to turn them over. I used a couple of pans as I was making 7 burritos (the Husband ate two). I made the kids first so that they had a chance to cool whilst I made ours.  

Quorn Chilli Burrito | thehecticcook.com

Quorn Chilli Burrito | thehecticcook.com

 

Let cook for a few minutes, but keep a close eye so they don’t start to burn. Using a fish slice, turn the burritos over to toast the other side for a couple of minutes, again being careful not to burn.

Quorn Chilli Burrito | thehecticcook.com

 

On this occasion I served the burritos with rice and salad, plus a dollop of soured cream.

Quorn Chilli Burritos - a quick and tasty vegetarian dinner for busy weeknights | thehecticcook.com

 

And that’s it! This is a fairly quick and very simple meal, a bit different from the usual kid-friendly dishes I tend to serve up. And it’s versatile – change the Quorn chilli for beef chilli, chicken chilli, chicken fajita etc. If I have any leftovers I’ll eat them for lunch next day, it’s so quick.

Happy cooking!

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Garlic Tomato & Basil Risotto

So I admitted defeat today. After almost 6 years, I piled high ready for disposal, all the clothes I’d clung on to from before I had kids, in the vain hope that one day I would fit them again. Ha. Mother nature -1; Me – 0. Sob, sob.

The natural reaction to such an activity would be to pull up one’s (slightly bigger than desired) trousers and say “Right! I will conquer those dastardly extra pounds!”. Me? I would have headed straight for the Nutella Cookie Cups, had there been any left. However, in their place I had made Mint Chocolate Brownie Slice (blog to follow). Bollocks to dieting.

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And in that vain comes todays recipe. It’s a carb-fest. So not for the Atkins/Paleo etc followers out there. But to be totally honest, it’s not that bad for you. A bit of cheese, a little oil, and that’s about it really. And it’s really tasty. The original recipe came from Delicious magazine many years ago, using barley instead of rice. It’s a vegetarian recipe, and is seriously nice just as it is, but on this occasion I had some ham to spare, so added that. The quantities given will serve two – just double up etc to serve more.

Ingredients

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1 tbsp olive oil
1/2 an onion, chopped (or frozen)
2 cloves of garlic, crushed / tsp frozen garlic
150g arborio rice
50ml white wine
500ml vegetable stock
30g parmesan
8 cherry / 3 salad tomatoes
1 tsp dried / frozen basil

1. Heat the oil in a pan over a medium heat and add the onion. Let this soften, then add one garlic clove or teaspoon of garlic, and gently cook for a couple of minutes.

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2. Add the rice and stir to get it coated in the oil. Begin to add the stock, about 100ml at a time.

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Stir the stock into the rice until it is absorbed, then add some more. Keep doing this until all the stock has been used and absorbed into the rice. Take the pan off the heat.

3. Meanwhile, heat a splash of oil in a frying pan and add the tomatoes plus the second clove of garlic/teaspoon of garlic. Cook the tomatoes until they have softened, about ten minutes.

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4. To the rice, add the cheese and the tomatoes, the basil and some seasoning – I also added some peas for extra colour, and the ham. Put a lid on the pan and leave for about 5 minutes to let the rice absorb the last of the liquid. The pan should be completely off the heat.

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You could add some bacon in step 2, before adding the rice. I added some ham with the cheese as it was already cooked. Or you can leave it without, whatever takes your fancy. Serve with a lovely side salad and some garlic bread 🙂

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This is a dish that needs a bit of care and attention. I find you can’t just chuck in all the stock and be done. Adding the stock slowly, letting it be absorbed and stirring, before adding more, gives the risotto a lovely creaminess. I tend to make risotto when I’m not refereeing world war three i.e. when the kids are in bed.

Happy cooking!

Very Tasty Mushroom Stroganoff

First off, a bit of a digression:

So I wanted to share with you. I did a bit of ‘good parenting’ yesterday. This is kind of a big deal. It doesn’t happen often (and may not happen again). But I decided to do some baking with the girls. “You crazy person!” I hear you exclaim. Yeah, kind of. But my kids watch a fair bit of tv, so I figured anything that wasn’t telly would be good. Even if it killed me.

So this is them:

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Let’s try that again:

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Okay, one last time, just in case:

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That crazy one in the middle is Alice. And yes, we do actually refer to her as the ‘crazy one’. Or ‘quirky’ if we’re being nice. Mostly crazy. And Hannah on the left, Lucy on the right. The odds of getting three 3 year olds to stand in a line and smile nicely? I think the phrase is ‘…like herding cats’.

So I approached this like a military operation. It was a 6oz cake mix, thus easily divisible by 3, so each got to add 2oz of ingredient, plus crack an egg each (Hannah – fairly good, delicate even; Lucy – a bit more cracked, bit more messy; Alice – totally squished within her tiny paw). They then got to fill the cake cases:

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Admittedly, a fair amount of mixture didn’t make it to the cases. But they were baked. And iced. And then decorated (by the girls, obviously). And this was the result:

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And I can sleep easier feeling like a good parent. Result!

So, down to the actual recipe (apologies for the detour). This is a great midweek meal. I try to cook at least one veggie meal a week – it’s better for the purse if nothing else – and this has become a firm favourite. It comes from BBC Good Food (such a reliable recipe source), and it’s extremely quick and easy. Which I like.

Ingredients

1 tbsp oil
1 onion, finely chopped
1 heaped tsp smoked paprika
2 garlic cloves, crushed / 2 heaped tsp frozen garlic/garlic paste
about 300g mushrooms, chopped
150ml beef or vegetable stock
1 tbsp Worcestershire sauce, or vegetarian alternative
1 large tbsp soured cream / creme fraiche

As usual, I used frozen chopped onion and frozen chopped garlic. I tend to buy closed cup and chestnut mushrooms in the weekly shop, but I also bought some shiitake mushrooms to add, and made up the 300g with a mixture of the three (the amount of mushrooms is flexible, don’t feel you have to stick rigidly to the 300g). I also tend to have some creme fraiche in the fridge as it’s great for adding to ‘stuff’, so I used that instead of soured cream. The original recipe calls for 1 tbsp paprika. I like to use smoked as it has such a lovely flavour, and you don’t need as much – but you can obviously use paprika if you’d prefer.

1. Heat the oil in a pan and soften the onion over a medium heat. Add the garlic and the paprika, mix well and cook for a minute or two.

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2. Add the mushrooms and let cook for about 5 minutes, until they’ve softened.

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3. Pour in the stock and Worcestershire sauce, bring to the boil then let simmer for about 5 minutes – or as long as it takes to cook your rice/veg, whatever you need to do.

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4. Once ready, take the pan off the heat and add the soured cream/creme fraiche.

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I served this with rice and some green veg (I’m a bit of a broccoli fan).

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If you’re not a big veggie recipe fan, or you cook for someone who isn’t, do give this a go. It’s really good, and you honestly don’t miss the meat. Unless you don’t like mushrooms. Then, as they say north of the border, “nae luck”.

Happy cooking!

'Skinny' Veggie Lasagne

This Skinny Veggie Lasagne is a healthier vegetarian take on the Italian classic, that totally delivers on taste.

The new cooker is awesome! It does this amazing thing, that when you turn the heat up, it gets hotter! And when you turn the heat down, guess what? It cools down!! Like, immediately – no waiting half an hour for it to return to a temperature cooler than the sun! Amazing. I’m one very happy camper.

So tonight we had another ‘adult’ meal, and I made veggie lasagne (the kids had mac’n’cheese). The ‘skinny’ in the title is slightly misleading. By ‘skinny’, I mean relatively, when compared to normal lasagne. I probably wouldn’t go so far as to class this as diet food – but it’s definitely not as bad for you as the meaty, cheesy originator of the name. I try to include one veggie meal in the weekly menu – it definitely helps to reduce the weekly budget a bit, and hopefully we’re doing our bit for the planet as well?

Ingredients

Sauce

your choice of veg
Quorn mince (I used this to bulk this dish as I was feeding the Husband, but it’s really nice with just veg)
tinned tomatoes (or passata)
Oxo cube (if you’re a genuine veggie, this could be substituted with a veg stock cube)
1/2 tsp sweet smoked paprika (an amazing spice I add to a LOT of meals. If you haven’t got it, it’s totally worth buying)
1 tsp garlic paste / 1 garlic clove, crushed
1 tsp dried oregano
1/4 tsp chilli flakes (or depending on taste)
2 tbsp olive oil
salt & pepper

Skinny Veggie Lasagne | thehecticcook.com

Note:

There’s a fair few ingredients in that there photo. But it’s mostly veg. It’s totally up to you what you put into your sauce, which is just a bolognese really. On this occasion I had some veg to use up (see the little bowls), plus I chucked in the leftover pizza sauce from the other day (the white lidded tupperware). I’m a great believer in ‘chucking stuff in’. Any leftovers, if you can use them, fantastic. I hate waste. I didn’t have any chopped tomatoes so I had to use passata. Again, use what you’ve got. This is why I love cooking, you don’t need to have every little ingredient in a recipe. You can often change to suit what’s in your cupboard.

1. Preheat your oven to 190°C (fan). Cut the veg up into small cubes and place in a roasting dish with 1 tablespoon of olive oil. Pop in the oven.

Skinny Veggie Lasagne | thehecticcook.com

Note:

Today I had carrot, parsnip, aubergine, courgettes, onion, sweet red pepper, mushrooms, green beans and butternut squash (which I buy ready prepared – I honestly can’t be arsed peeling and cubing a squash). I kept the beans, mushrooms and pepper out for the first ten minutes, as they take less time to cook.

This all takes about 25-30 minutes to roast. Take them out a couple of times and give them a good shake before they’re done.

At this point my camera roll is interrupted by this:

thehecticcook.com

The joys of children.

2. Once your veg is roasted, heat the remaining oil in a pan and add your Quorn mince (if using). I used the whole bag of Quorn mince, but I only used half the resulting sauce (I’ve frozen it for next time). Start it cooking then add all of the remaining sauce ingredients plus some water to make it ‘saucy’ (technical term).

Skinny Veggie Lasagne | thehecticcook.com

This is what mine looked like. I then let it simmer for about 15 minutes. Unlike with meaty mince, you don’t need to simmer Quorn forever (it’s pretty soft already), and all the ingredients here were cooked, so it didn’t take long.

Remaining Ingredients

8 tbsp creme fraiche (I used the 3% fat one, which is yum, but use whatever kind you like)
30g parmesan, grated
lasagne sheets

Skinny Veggie Lasagne | thehecticcook.com

3. Layer up, starting with the sauce, then lasagne, then sauce, lasagne etc. I used 4 layers of lasagne. Skinny Veggie Lasagne | thehecticcook.com

After the last layer of lasagne I spread over the creme fraiche and sprinkled with the parmesan.

Skinny Veggie Lasagne | thehecticcook.com

4. Chuck it in the oven, temperature lowered slightly to 180°C (fan), for about 30 minutes, or until the top is lovely and browned.

Skinny Veggie Lasagne | thehecticcook.com

Because I was serving the Husband a veggie dish, I always feel I’ve got to compensate with something else (food wise I’m talking). So I made some garlic bread using the same pizza base dough recipe from the other day (in the breadmaker), slathered it in a mixture of butter, garlic, parsley and salt (the parsley really only adds the green bits) then sprinkled over some of the cheese leftover from the pizza. Et voila.

Skinny Veggie Lasagne | thehecticcook.com

And wine was consumed. Obviously. It was Saturday night after all, and we have kids, so this is about as rock’n’roll as we get.

Happy cooking!

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