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Chocolate Mint Brownie Pops

Peppermint Brownie Pops

Image Courtesy of Imperial Sugar

If you want to experience a little bite of heaven, then don't delay in whipping up a batch of these decadently delicious chocolate mint gourmet brownie bites! Yes, you'll have to spend over an hour making these beauties, but it will be love at first bite.

Brownie pops make excellent holiday party favors, fun alternatives to cookies on a stick, and excellent accompaniments to steaming cups of hot cocoa on a cold winter day. My advice - make a triple or quadruple batch to ensure you have enough for the entire holiday season!

Step-By-Step Brownie Pop Making Video

Step 1: Make The Pan of Mint Brownies

Ingredients:

  • 1/2 cup butter
  • 2 (1 oz) squares of unsweetened chocolate
  • 1 (10 oz) package of Andes Creme de Menthe Baking Chips
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 2 large eggs, lightly beaten
  • 1 tsp. vanilla extract
  • 3/4 cup all purpose flour
  • 1/4 tsp. salt
How to make chocolate mint cake pops

Image by dongkwan on Flickr

Directions:

Preheat the oven to 350° F. Combine the butter, unsweetened chocolate, and 1 cup of the Andes mints in a medium saucepan. Melt ingredients together over low heat until completely mixed and melted together (be sure to stir constantly). Remove from heat. Then add sugar, eggs, and vanilla, beating until smooth.

Combine dry ingredients (flour and salt). Stir into chocolate mixture until well blended. Stir in remaining Andes mint chips.

Pour batter into a lightly greased 8" square pan. Bake at 350° F for 32 minutes. Remove from oven and cool in pan on a wire rack.

Time Saving Tip: Don't make your brownies from scratch. Instead kick up a standard store-bought brownie mix, by adding 1-1/2 cups of Andes mint chips to the brownie batter just before baking. This is one of the easiest ways to cut down on the amount of time you spend whipping up these delectable brownie pops!

Step 2: Make The Brownies Into Balls

Once the pan of brownies has completely cooled, use a 2 Tbsp baking scoop to gently scoop out balls of cooked brownies from the pan.

How to make chocolate mint cake pops

Image by christijohnstone on Flickr

Gently reshape the brownies into smooth balls by rolling in your hands. Place the balls on a large baking sheet that has been lined with parchment (wax) paper. Chill balls on baking sheet in the refrigerator for 30 minutes.

After chilled, insert a 4" long white craft (lollipop) stick into each brownie ball. Recipe should make about 30 brownie pops.

Step 3: Coat Brownie Pops with Chocolate & CandyChocolate Mint Brownie Pops

To make the brownie pops shown to the right, use these ingredients:

  • 2 Tbsp shortening
  • 5 (2 oz) chocolate candy coating squares
  • 4 (2 oz) vanilla candy coating squares
  • Crushed candy canes or peppermint candies

Once the holiday chocolates have been chilled, you are ready to give them their chocolate coating. Place the shortening and coating in a glass 2 cup measuring cup. Microwave on high for 1 minute or until melted. Stir until smooth. Dip each brownie pop into the melted chocolate mixture, reheating the chocolate as necessary in the microwave to keep it melted. Replace the chocolate dipped brownie pops on the large parchment-lined baking sheet. Let the pops stand until the chocolate is firm.

Place the vanilla candy coating in a glass bowl and microwave on high for about 40 seconds or until melted. Spoon the melted vanilla candy into a large Ziploc bag and seal it. Snip a small (1/8") whole in 1 corner of the bag. Squeeze the white chocolate on top the brownie bites to encircle the lollipop stick. While the white chocolate is still melted, be sure to sprinkle on the crushed peppermint candies for decorations. For parties, buy some little red gourmet chocolate truffle holders to set each brownie pop in as shown in the photo.

Alternatively, you can use white chocolate to coat the entire brownie ball and then roll it in peppermint candies to create the look shown in the first image of this post.  Either way, they'll be delicious!

Another Tip - I crush the peppermint candies (or candy canes) in a large Ziploc bag with either a heavy cast-iron skillet, a kitchen mallet, or a rolling pin.

And voila! That is your ticket to making the most delicious chocolate mint brownie pops you could ever dream up! Just be sure to share!

Christmas Cookie Exchange Tips

Nothing rings in the holidays like a big plate full of Christmas holiday cookies! I love hosting and going to cookie exchanges each holiday season so I thought I'd share some of my tips to throwing a successful cookie exchange or swap.

cookie exchange

Image by llstalteri (left), and averagejane (right) on Flickr

Having a Christmas cookie swap is a great way to get a wide assortment of cookies for the holidays without having to do so much work all by yourself. When planning the exchange, you'll want to invite a group of 10 to 14 people so keep that in mind. Cookie loving friends, neighbors and co-workers are the best potential people for the cookie exchange. The basic idea is that each participant in the exchange makes and brings dozens of their favorite holiday cookie and then at the party they swap their cookies for a half or full dozen of the other participant's cookie creations. What a great way to end up with a delectable tray of homemade goodies for the holidays!

Follow These Tips For A Hassle-Free Exchange!

  1. Decide How Many People To Invite - I suggest somewhere between 10 - 14 people. With too few people, you don't get a very big variety of cookies to swap and take home, but with too many people, each participant would need to bake a ridiculous number of Christmas cookies.
  2. Send The Invitations - Make up some fun and festive invitations to tell potential participants about this year's cookie exchange. Be sure to include the date and time. I've found that it works best to have the exchange the 1st or 2nd week in December. Be sure to send the invitations at least 3 weeks in advance because people book up quickly during the holiday season. Sunday afternoons are great for church groups and lunch hours are the perfect time for work group exchanges.
  3. Ask Guests to RSVP - Explain that you need to know if they will be attending so you can figure out how many cookies each participant should bake. Ask people to RSVP at least 10 days before the party so that you can call all of the participants and give them the final tally on how many cookies they need to bring.
  4. Include The Rules with the Invitations - I've found over the years that it is best to lay out the expectations and rules for participating in the exchange right from the get-go. That way there aren't any surprises. See text below for the rules we set for our holiday party.
  5. Assign The Number of Cookies To Bring - Normally I tally up how many participants will be at the party (including myself) and then have each guest bring 1/2 dozen for each guest plus an additional dozen to share. So if there are ten guests total, I would ask each guest to bring 6 dozen cookies (5 dozen for the swap and 1 dozen to share during the party). NOTE that if just a few people are participating, you could ask them to bring a full dozen to swap with each participant.
  6. Share The Recipes - Ask each guest to bring 1 copy of their cookie recipe for each participant OR ask them to e-mail you a copy of the recipe at least a week before the party and you can make a little booklet of the recipes for each guest to take home with them after the party. You can even post the recipes to your personal blog.

Let your creativity shine!

Image by

Image credit: Dinerra

When it comes to invitations, you have a couple of options - create them yourself, buy some locally, or order them online. Personally, I think half the fun is getting those creative juices flowing so I always make up my own invitations. However, I understand that many people are short on time so here are some online shops with adorable invitations. Keep in mind that if you go with pre-printed personalized invitations, they can run upwards of $3.50 each and they have a minimum order of usually 20.

Sample invitation wording (from The Recipe Box):

It's the time of the year

when best cookies are made

What fun to make extra in order to trade

Please come on _________

bring cookies, your best

Exchange yours for others and so will each guest

Bring as many to trade as you want to take home

And some for the table for we're sure

not to roam

Until we've had coffee, tea and a chat

and welcomed the season

There's reason for that

Our baking is done, we'll relax,

we are free

So sing Merry Christmas from you

and from me.

 

And here's another neighborhood exchange invitation sample from Knoxville Tennessee.

Dear Neighbors:

You are invited to join me at (insert address) for an enchanted evening of recipe and cookie exchanges. I don't want you to miss it because it won't be the same without you.

On (insert date and time), when the sun goes down, my house will be aglow with the spirit of Christmas. The candles will be lit, the hot cider piping and cookies to munch.

Each person will need to bring 12 dozen cookies. One dozen to share during the evening, and the other 11 dozen divided into packages of 6. Please bring your recipe to share. You will return home with a variety of delicious treats for you and your family.

I want you to share the warmth and wonder of this twilight time as we celebrate Christmas in (insert neighborhood name).

There will be a prize for the prettiest packaged cookies!

R.S.V.P. by (insert date and phone number)

 

Another sample can be found at Teas2Dine4.com:

You Are Invited To A Tea & Cookie Exchange Party!

When:

Where:

Theme: Cookies & Tea

Attire: Festive! Dress comfortably and in theme.

The Details:

A cookie exchange is no ordinary party! No one arrives or leaves a cookie exchange party empty handed. For this special occasion, you must bring an assortment of things:

6-Dozen Home-Baked Cookies: Yes, you read that correctly! Everyone in attendance will bring 6-dozen cookies (baked with the theme in mind) and there will be a swap so that everyone leaves with a large assortment of cookies to bring home to their family. Bring cookies that will hold their shape well. That means: NO soft icings because they are likely to get smooshed in transit.

Recipe Cards: Make enough copies of your cookie recipe to give everyone in attendance a copy, please bring at least 10 copies.

Containers: Bring containers to carry your collection of cookies home with you.

We suggest airtight, freezable containers.

A Fancy Arrangement: Please bring a decorative gift basket or container to display a portion of your cookies on the cookie table.

Please RSVP! Let me know what type of cookie you will be bringing. I would like to ensure that there are a wide variety of cookies baked, so have more than one idea for the cookie you would like to bake, in case someone has already chosen your first choice.

Phone me at _____________.

or

Email me at______________.

Happy Baking!

Christmas Cookie Swap Rules

1) No Store Bought Cookies Allowed! Christmas cookies for the exchange must be homemade. I started this rule when someone showed up with boxes of biscotti and bags of Chips Ahoy one year for the cookie swap party. Many participants were disappointed taking home store-bought cookies in exchange for the fresh-baked gourmet cookies they worked so hard to create.

2) Bring Dozens of Cookies - We choose to do a dozen or half-dozen cookies for each participant so that everyone goes home with a great selection and enough cookies to last for at least a few days during the holidays. I warn people in the invitations that they'll be expected to bring dozens of cookies and that I'll call or e-mail the exact number. This way they aren't surprised when they are given the tally.

3) Christmas Theme Cookies Please - We had to start this rule because we'd have years when 4 or 5 people would bring simple Toll House chocolate chip cookies. The Christmas theme requirement just makes everything much more festive and you'll see that people can get pretty creative.

4) Bring Cookies in Pre-Packaged Sets - Ask the participants to bring their cookies already wrapped up in packages or bags of six (or twelve cookies) each. My friends are always so creative using little Christmas cookie tins, holiday themed bags and gift boxes for each set of their cookies. The pre-packaging makes the exchange easier as party-goers don't have to be handling the cookies. Ask them to show up with the cookie packages arranged on a platter or in a basket so they look great on the exchange table. At the party, I set up a different table to serve the tasting cookies, the party food, and the beverages.

Christmas Cookie Making Videos

Cookie Swap Party Day Tips

Like most holiday activities, a festive presentation is central to the success of the party. Have holiday music playing when guests arrive and be sure to have your home or the exchange location decorated with a holiday theme. The scent of pine or cinnamon votive candles along with the smell of freshly mulled apple cider will set the mood too.

At our exchange, I usually serve a few holiday themed appetizers and salty snacks along with the extra cookies that the participants bring to the party. I buy some holiday themed party supplies such as napkins and plates. For party drinks, I try to have milk, hot cider, coffee, tea, water, hot cocoa, punch and other beverages. Usually I set up an area for the party food and beverages and a separate table/area for the swap. That way guests know where to put their cookie baskets when they arrive at the party.

For the swap, I usually buy a set of matching paper Christmas gift bags and give one to each participant. Then each guest goes around the exchange table taking a package of each type of cookies. Be sure to have extra zip-loc bags, wax paper and packaging for those that forget to bag their cookies before they arrive and other unforeseen circumstances.

You can even buy or make your own little holiday party favors to give guests as they are heading home from your fabulous party. Cute little candles, gingerbread men magnets or cookie cutters are great favor ideas!

holiday cookie exchange

Image by mealmakeovermoms on Flickr

Share Your Cookie Love!

A great way to help the community is to ask the participants of your cookie exchange to bring along a package of store-bought cookies for the local food shelf or pantry in your town. What a great way to share the holiday spirit with the less fortunate! After all, 'tis the season for giving. You should include a Christmas card that the entire family signs (including the kids).

Corporate Cookie Swap Video

Find Christmas Cookie Recipes Online

"All-Vol" Orange Juice Cupcakes

I came up with these cupcakes when I lived in Knoxville, Tennessee (home of the Volunteers). My family would come over to watch every Vols football game so I needed an orange dessert; hence, All-Vol Cupcakes were born.

They are flavored with orange juice and can be frosted with either whipped cream or my orange juice frosting. It just depends on how big a sweet tooth you have... mine is huge.

all vol orange juice cupcakes

Original image by shimelle on Flickr

Whether you are a Vol or not, I'm sure you will still appreciate this delicious orange juice cupcake recipe. Give them as cupcake gifts to really share the love!

Orange Juice Cupcake Recipe

Ingredients

  • 1 C. Sugar
  • 1/4 lb. Soft Butter
  • 2 Eggs
  • 1/2 tsp. Salt
  • 3 tsp. Baking Powder
  • 1/2 tsp. Baking Soda
  • 2 C. Flour
  • 1 C. Orange Juice
  • 2-3 Drops Orange Food Coloring (optional)

Preparation

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.

Cream together the sugar, butter, and eggs. In a separate bowl, sift together the dry ingredients.

With mixer on low setting, alternatively add the dry ingredients and the orange juice to the butter mixture. Mix thoroughly for 2 minutes. You can stir in the food coloring now if you opt to.

Bake the cupcakes in a lined muffin pan for 20-25 minutes. Let cool before icing. You can frost these with simple whipped cream or use the Orange Flavored Icing Recipe below.

orange juice cupcakes

Image by stuartwebster on Flickr

Orange Juice Frosting Recipe

  • 1/4 C Softened Butter
  • dash salt
  • 1 tsp Vanilla
  • 1 T milk
  • 2 1/3 C Powdered Sugar
  • 1/4 C Orange Juice
  • orange food coloring

Mix all ingredients together thoroughly and spread on cooled cupcakes.

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Orange Cupcakes Recipe

I hope you enjoy these as much as we do!

Quick And Delicious Chex Mix Recipes

Chex mix has been around for decades. It has graced the tables of Superbowl and accompanying kids birthday gifts for years but it has changed over time.

Chex Mix Recipes

Image by artbystevejohnson on Flickr

Chex cereal has added new flavors allowing Chex mix to be made in more combinations than ever. With so many Chex mix recipes to choose from, I'm going to need a bigger table.

Original Chex Mix Recipe

Ingredients:

  • 3 cups Corn Chex® cereal
  • 3 cups Rice Chex® cereal
  • 3 cups Wheat Chex® cereal
  • 1 cup mixed nuts
  • 1 cup bite-size pretzels
  • 1 cup garlic-flavor bite-size bagel chips or regular-size bagel chips, broken into 1-inch pieces
  • 6 tablespoons butter or margarine
  • 2 tablespoons Worcestershire sauce
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons seasoned salt
  • 3/4 teaspoon garlic powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon onion powder

Preparation:

  1. In large microwavable bowl, mix cereals, gourmet nuts, pretzels and bagel chips; set aside. In small microwavable bowl, microwave butter uncovered on High about 40 seconds or until melted. Stir in seasonings. Pour over cereal mixture; stir until evenly coated.
  2. Microwave uncovered on high 5 to 6 minutes, thoroughly stirring every 2 minutes. Spread on paper towels to cool. Store in airtight container.

Oven Directions:

Heat oven to 250°F. In large bowl, mix cereals, nuts, pretzels and bagel chips; set aside. In ungreased large roasting pan, melt butter in oven. Stir in seasonings. Gradually stir in cereal mixture until evenly coated. Bake 1 hour, stirring every 15 minutes. Spread on paper towels to cool, about 15 minutes. Store your Chex Mix in airtight container

Dark Chocolate Chex Mix Recipe

Chocolate Chex Mix Recipe

Image by starmonkeybrass on Flickr

Ingredients:

  • 4 cups Chex® cereal
  • 1 cup pretzels
  • 1 cup mini chocolate Oreo cookies
  • 1/2 cup M&M chocolate candies (dark)
  • 2 cups dark chocolate chips
  • 1/2 cup white chocolate chips
  • 3/4 cup cocoa
  • 1/4 cup confectioner's sugar

Directions:

Start with two Ziploc bags. Put the cocoa in one and the confectioner's sugar in the other. Set aside

Melt the dark chocolate chips in a double boiler. Pour 1 1/2 cups of the chocolate in a large bowl. Stir in 3 cups of the Chex cereal. Dump the chocolate covered Chex into the Ziploc bag containing the cocoa. Seal and shake vigorously. Dump this mixture into a large serving bowl.

Stir the pretzels into the other 1/2 cup of melted dark chocolate chips. Dump these into the large serving bowl.

Melt the white chocolate chips in the double boiler. Stir in 1 cup of Chex cereal. Dump into the Ziploc bag of confectioner's sugar. Shake vigorously. Add this to the large serving bowl.

Add the M&M's and mini chocolate covered Oreos to the large bowl and toss making sure everything is separated. Serve.

Chex Mix Is Great For:

  • Superbowl Parties
  • Birthdays
  • Baby Showers
  • Cookouts
  • Sleepovers

Caramel Crispy Chex Mix Recipe

Ingredients:

  • 4 1/2 cups Rice Chex® cereal
  • 4 1/2 cups Corn Chex® cereal
  • 1 cup packed brown sugar
  • 1/2 cup butter or margarine
  • 1/4 cup light corn syrup
  • 1/4 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1 cup candy-coated chocolate candies

Preparation:

  1. In large microwavable bowl, place cereals.
  2. In 2-cup microwavable measuring cup, microwave brown sugar, butter and corn syrup uncovered on High about 2 minutes, stirring after 1 minute, until melted and smooth. Stir in baking soda until dissolved. Pour over cereal, stirring until evenly coated.
  3. Microwave uncovered on high 5 to 6 minutes, stirring and scraping bowl after every minute, just until cereal begins to brown. Cool 5 minutes; stir in candies. Spread on waxed paper to cool; break into bite-size pieces. Store in airtight container.

Out of all the Chex Mix recipes that I present in this article, this sweet concoction is my favorite. I have served it at many baby and given as bridal shower favors over the years and it is always a hit!

How To Make Chex Mix

Chex Barbeque Snack Mix Recipe

Ingredients:

  • 3 cups Rice Chex® cereal
  • 3 cups Corn Chex® cereal
  • 1 1/2 cups bite-size pretzel twists
  • 1 1/2 cups bite-size cheese crackers
  • 3/4 cup honey-roasted peanuts
  • 1/2 cup barbecue sauce
  • 1 tablespoon vegetable oil
  • 3/4 teaspoon onion powder
  • 3/4 teaspoon garlic powder

Preparation:

  1. In large microwavable bowl, mix cereals, pretzel twists, crackers and peanuts.
  2. In medium bowl, mix remaining ingredients until well blended. Pour over cereal mixture, stirring until evenly coated.
  3. Microwave uncovered on high 7 minutes, stirring every 2 minutes. Spread on foil or paper towels to cool. Store in airtight container.

Cheesy Ranch Chex Mix Recipe

Ingredients:

  • 9 cups Corn Chex®, Rice Chex® or Wheat Chex® cereal (or combination)
  • 2 cups bite-size pretzel twists
  • 2 cups bite-size cheese crackers
  • 3 tablespoons butter or margarine, melted
  • 1 package (1 oz) ranch dressing and seasoning mix
  • 1/2 cup grated Parmesan cheese

Preparation:

  1. In large microwavable bowl, mix cereal, pretzel twists and crackers. In small microwavable bowl, microwave butter uncovered on high about 30 seconds or until melted. Pour over cereal mixture; stir until evenly coated. Stir in dressing mix and cheese until evenly coated.
  2. Microwave uncovered on high 3 minutes, stirring after each minute. Spread on waxed paper or foil to cool. Store in airtight container.

General Mills Gluten Free Chex Rice Cereal

Scoop up a few boxes of gluten-free Chex cereal and make delicious Chex Mix. You can find gluten-free recipes here.

Chex Muddie Buddies Recipe

powdered chex mix recipe

Image by starmonkeybrass on Flickr

Ingredients:

  • 9 cups Rice Chex®, Corn Chex® or Chocolate Chex® cereal (or combination)
  • 1 cup semisweet chocolate chips
  • 1/2 cup peanut butter
  • 1/4 cup butter or margarine
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla
  • 1 1/2 cups powdered sugar

Preparation:

  1. Into large bowl, measure cereal; set aside.
  2. In 1-quart microwavable bowl, microwave chocolate chips, peanut butter and butter uncovered on High 1 minute; stir. Microwave about 30 seconds longer or until mixture can be stirred smooth. Stir in vanilla. Pour mixture over cereal, stirring until evenly coated. Pour into 2-gallon resealable food-storage plastic bag.
  3. Add powdered sugar. Seal bag; shake until well coated. Spread on waxed paper to cool. Store in airtight container in refrigerator.

Stress Free Holiday Baking Tips

Another holiday, another excuse to bake! For those who love to get into the kitchen and create edible gifts (cookie favors) and treats for friends and families; holidays provide all the impetus we need to start mixing, kneading, preheating, and decorating.

holiday baking tips

Along with the fun, though, comes inevitable tension as deadlines loom, our days get fuller, and we don't have time to do as much as we'd like. This holiday, cut the stress without cutting the taste. Here are some tips for stress-free holiday baking.

Getting Ready

Plan out what you would like to bake and take stock of your pantry. What do you need? Flour, sugar, and other staples? Do you need sprinkles, candies, and other extras? Do you need icing bags, decorating tips, or toothpicks? You don't want to be most of the way through a recipe before realizing you're out of butter or that you don't have chocolate chips for your famous chocolate chip cookies. Also make sure you have treat bags, boxes, cookie tins, or other containers to put the finished product in. Make a list and check it twice!

Just as you are preparing your ingredients, prepare your work space. Un-clutter counters and work surfaces. Make sure all of your baking supplies are clean and ready to go. Another pre-baking step to take is to make a list of recipients or events and decide which baked goods go where and how many you will need to make.

Prepare by Pre-Mixing

You need to bake as close to the holiday as possible to ensure fresh cookies, cakes, and treats. But that doesn't mean you have to save all the work for the last minute. In the days before baking day, measure out all your dry ingredients and store in labeled containers. This is like making yourself a bunch of "gifts in a jar" and it will help save you time.

Making holiday baking easy

If you are making holiday cookie gifts, you can also make the dough ahead of time and freeze it. When you're ready, let it thaw and then whip up some wonderful goodies.

Enlist Help

If you have friends or family members who are willing, get them to help out. It can make the work go by much faster when you have a second pair of hands. Perhaps one of you could mix while the other did the dishes, and switch periodically?

Also, it can be a great idea to include your children. If they are old enough to help, and are actually helpful, have them help you mix, cut out Christmas cookies, and decorate. If you are a bit of a control freak or your children are not ready to help out in the kitchen, then enlist the help of a friend or family member to babysit for you! In exchange for some fresh baked goods, that is.

Mass Produce

There is no reason why you should make gingerbread men for this person, chocolate chip cookies for that one, cupcakes for him, chocolate covered oreos for her.

holiday baking tips

Choose a few favorites and make them en masse. This will cut preparation time and make it easier for you to cook, package, and give. There's a reason why big companies do it, so why can't you?

Host a Cookie Swap

If you have friends who also love to bake, hold a cookie swap party. Everyone makes their favorite or specialty cookie and there is a chocolaty, sugary, decadent exchange. You get to go home with a sampling of other treats.

You have given and received a holiday gift, had a party, and have cut your stress! That's a lot to accomplish in just a few hours.

Hosting a Cookie Swap

Holiday Baking Tips & Tools You'll Need

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Cheat a Little

If you are short on time, why not take some shortcuts? Instead of making items from scratch, use a mix and then doll up the results to make them special. Instead of making a complex recipe, melt some chocolate and dip pretzels, nuts, or coffee beans. Rather than baking, create a gift-in-a-jar and let someone else enjoy the process at their leisure.

Holiday baking doesn't have to ruin the holiday. Enjoy yourself by preparing and simplifying; the best gift you can give yourself and others is to actually have a peaceful, happy holiday.

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