Category Archives: Dinner

Zippy Lime Quinoa with Poached Egg and Arugula

Why hello there. How have you been? Are you enjoying tea season yet or is it still warm where you live? Here in Maryland it’s still pretty warm and humid and definitely not time to throw on sweaters and boots. I’m okay with that. The end of September is cool enough here to actually breathe outside, which is what I’m primarily interested in when it comes to weather. Last night I rode my bike a bit and felt a breeze on my face without being chilled – that’s perfection.

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To be honest, the changing weather has absolutely nothing to do with this post. It just seems like everyone in blogland is all about pumpkin this and apple that and I figured I’d contribute by saying: no, it still isn’t cold yet. CHILL.

Instead, this recipe comes from a major need to eat some real nourishing foods. Lately, my schedule has been wiping me out. I’ve been having some health issues that are causing things to go a bit haywire on top of a crazy schedule that requires a lot of energy. Teaching seven fitness classes each week takes a lot of out of a girl on top of school and interning and running a club. This morning I woke up feeling like the life had been sucked out of me, even though it was just weekend. “I’m taking vitamins! I’m exercising! I slept for 8 hours!” I thought to myself. “What the heck is going on?”

So I decided to make a meal chock full of protein and some veggies I had on hand, and it turned out to be this incredible southwest inspired dish. Quinoa serves as the base for arugula, a lime vinaigrette and a beautiful poached egg. I’ve seen poached eggs everywhere lately – that yolk has had me drooling for one of my own. I used to loathe egg yolks – I didn’t understand the golden glory that comes when you actually salt and pepper them. Now that I know….I’m never turning back. The best part of this recipe is not the egg yolk, though that is a close second. Instead is that I felt noticeably more energetic and full after eating it.

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Zippy Lime Quinoa with Arugula and Poached Egg
Vegetarian and peanut, tree nut, soy and gluten free

Ingredients:
(Serves one)
1/4 cup quinoa, uncooked
1 egg
1 handful arugula
1/2 lime
1 teaspoon olive oil
1 teaspoon red wine vinegar
1/4 teaspoon garlic powder
Dash of hot sauce (if desired)
Salt and pepper to taste

1. Begin by cooking your quinoa according to package instructions. Don’t forget to rinse (I totally did and had to rinse in the middle of the cooking process)!
2. While the quinoa is cooking, bring a few inches of water to a simmer in a saucepan. Crack the egg in a separate ramekin. Once a few bubbles begin to rise, pour the egg into the water slowly, then turn off the heat. Cover and wait 4 minutes for a lovely poached egg. For a tutorial including pictures on this, look here.
3
. Once the quinoa is finished cooking, transfer to a serving bowl. Stir in the arugula.
4. Dress with lime, olive oil, vinegar and garlic powder.
5. Top with poached egg. Add salt, pepper and hot sauce to taste.
6. Enjoy, especially when you crack that poached egg and the yolk runs over everything. YUM.

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End of Summer Tomato Pie & Homemade Pie Crust

Are you ready for this? No seriously, are you ready for this? You’re going to go nuts over this pie. First, pie crust. Buttery, flakey, a tiny pinch of salt for flavor. Topped with tomatoes, basil and an unearthly mixture of cheese, melted and golden brown, fresh from the oven. Two words, my friends, tomato pie.

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This recipe has been in my family for years. My mom cut it out of the Pittsburgh Post Gazette’s food section ages ago – the original clipping is still tucked away in her personalized recipe file. Every summer, just as the tomatoes in our garden turned from green to a yellowish red, they were picked and this pie was made. My sister and I would beg my mom for this pie at the first sign of tomato growth, prod her to make the plants grow more quickly, but this pie was always (and I mean always) worth the wait.

The great thing about this pie is that it makes a hearty vegetarian dinner that yields plenty of leftovers. There are, thankfully, gluten free adaptions for the recipe to, though you may want to use a store-bought crust rather than a homemade one…it’s a bit easier to deal with that sort of dough.

Tomato Pie (With Homemade Crust)
Free of peanuts, tree nuts, sesame, shellfish. Gluten free adaptations below

Ingredients:
Crust:
1 and 1/3 cups flour
1 teaspoon salt
1/2 cup shortening
7 to 8 tablespoons ice water

Pie:
1 1/2 cups shredded mozzarella cheese (NOT FRESH)
1 handful fresh basil, cut in ribbons (about a cup)
1/2 cup mayonnaise
1/4 cup grated Parmesan cheese
Black pepper, to taste

1. Preheat the oven to 375 degrees.
2. Begin with the crust: combine the flour in salt in a medium bowl. Cut in the shortening until the dough resembles tiny peas. Add the tablespoons of water one at a time, working them into the dough as you go.
3. Once the dough forms one large ball – and is not too sticky – spread flour on a flat surface and roll out until the crust is larger than your 10×10 pie plate. Fold the crust in half, then in half again to transfer it to the pie plate. Unfold.
4. Put the crust in the oven for eight to 10 minutes, until it’s slightly brown. Take the crust out of the oven and sprinkle with 1/2 cup mozzarella cheese.
5. While the pie crust rests, cut the tomatoes into discs, then dry using paper towels. Arrange the discs on top of the melted cheese on the crust.
6. Next, sprinkle the julienned basil on top of the tomatoes.
7. Combine the mayonnaise with the remaining cheese in a small bowl. Spread this mixture on top of the basil and tomatoes.
8. Sprinkle the pie with the Parmesan cheese and black pepper.
9. Put it in the oven to bake for 35 to 40 minutes, until the crust is golden brown. Enjoy!

TO MAKE GLUTEN FREE: Sub a gluten free pie crust (store bought) for the homemade crust and follow the instructions the same way!

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Cheesy Spicy Grits

Grits are weird. They’re at that halfway point between oatmeal and polenta and the texture can seem a little bit funny if they’re not done correctly. However, let it be known that these grits are not oatmeal’s creepy older brother. They have a little spice, but are also super gooey from the cheese, and who can resist that?

The awesome thing about cheesy grits is that they go great with a lot of main dishes. I last served then when I made the avocado compote butter for salmon. A heavenly meal! I used to also make a pretty crude version of these when I was at school. On Saturdays we had a breakfast bar in the dining hall, where they had plain grits. The salad bar was also open, so I would stir in cheese and jalepenos. It was kind of gross, but compared to a lot of the dining hall food available to a girl with allergies and who, at the time, was vegetarian, it was heaven.

Grits

I promise promise promise that these grits are more upscale than that, but also that all the ingredients are easily available. These are gluten free, which is another major plus.

Let’s get cooking!

Cheesy Spicy Grits
Peanut, tree nut, soy, sesame, fish, shellfish, egg and gluten free

Ingredients:
2 cups water
1 1/4 cup milk
1 tsp. salt
1 cup grits
1/4 cup butter
1/2 can Rotel
3/4 cup grated cheddar cheese

1. Bring water, milk and salt to a boil. Once boiling, stir in the grits and continue to stir until they have the consistency of cream of wheat.
2. Add in the butter, Rotel and cheese. Stir and once combined, remove from heat. Enjoy!

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Savory Romano-Crusted French Toast with Compote Butter

Lately I’ve been cooking a lot of egg-centric, compote butter-filled recipes. I made vegetarian migas, then I made some avocado compote butter. This recipe combines the two – a savory French toast (encrusted with romano cheese) topped with a sun dried tomato basil compote butter. Woah. I was inspired by How Sweet It Is on this recipe, though of course, I adapted it to have gluten free possibilities!

All food

This recipe is a little rich and maybe a little fancy. When I told my boyfriend about it, he said it sounded fancy or gourmet. The think about it is, while your ingredients may be a little fancy or gourmet in this recipe, the actual preparation takes less than an hour, and it’s fairly easy.

Compote Butter

I used my multigrain bread to make the French toast for my mom and myself, but for my sister, we used gluten free bread in a separate egg mixture. She loved it just as much as we did, so I figure that’s a success!

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Let’s make savory French toast!

Savory French Toast
Peanut, tree nut, soy and sesame free

Ingredients:
4 eggs
1/2 cup milk
2/3 cup Romano cheese
Pinch of salt and pepper
2 slices per person of gluten free or multigrain bread
3 tbsp. butter

Compote butter:
5 tbsp. butter
Handful of basil, chopped
1/4 cup rehydrated sundried tomatoes (NOT IN OIL), chopped

1. Start with the compote butter. Soften the 5 tbsp. butter, mix in the basil and sundried tomatoes. You can shape into a log on wax paper, or just serve it in a bowl.
2. Now to the egg mixture: whisk eggs, milk, cheese, salt and pepper in a bowl. Separate the mixture if you are serving gluten free and regular eaters.
3. Heat a non-stick pan over the stove on medium-high heat. Add the 3 tbsp. butter to grease the pan.
4. Dip the bread in egg mixture. Make sure it’s covered! Now cook in the pan on each side until they are brown. This may take longer than you expect, especially at first.
5. Top the French toast with compote butter and a little extra cheese. Enjoy!

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Multigrain Bread with Quinoa and Oats

I am a hopeless carb lover. All my comfort foods are carb based – homemade pasta, macaroni and cheese, pierogies, the list goes on. To me, especially as a child, there was nothing better than a slice of bread with butter and a glass of water for a snack. My grandma joked that I liked jail food, but it was really just that I liked carbs.

Cut to today. My newest bread addiction (until about three days ago) was Trader Joe’s quinoa bread. It’s basically like a good honey whole wheat, with the added benefit of protein from the quinoa. Then I saw this recipe over at A Couple Cooks and thought, I can do that. One problem though – their version of the bread contained pumpkin seeds, which I’m allergic to. Not to mention, it had rye flour, which wasn’t around the house. So I did what any good baker does – I adapted. And you know what? I ended up with best, most filling, rustic bread I’ve had in awhile.

Bread

Let me tell you about the moment it came out of the oven. It was pretty late for our family – my dad and sister (the two celiacs) were already asleep. Thankfully for them, quinoa bread is something they wouldn’t have eaten prior to celiac anyway, so this bread event didn’t seem so special. Anyways, the moment the oven buzzer went off, my mom and I peaked inside and found our dough mass had turned into a luxurious crusty loaf – beautiful! Soon after we took it out of the oven, we sliced it and slathered it with real butter, which is somewhat of a rarity in my house. It was a special moment between us. No guilt, of course, just pure enjoyment over something we felt bad reveling in around our family members.

Bread

So isn’t baking bread like super difficult? Well, sometimes. Luckily, this recipe is no-knead, so you can mostly just chill while the yeast does its thing. Let’s get baking!

Multigrain Bread with Quinoa and Oats
Peanut, tree nut, sesame, egg, milk and soy free

Ingredients:
1/3 cup oats
1/3 cup quinoa, uncooked
1/4 cup water
3 cups lukewarm water
1 tablespoon rapid rise yeast
1.5 tbsp. salt
4 cups white flour
2 cups whole wheat flour

1. Soak the oats and quinoa in 1/4 cup of water for one hour.
2. Combine the yeast and 3 cups of lukewarm water in the bowl of a standard mixer.
3. Mix in the salt, flours and mix-ins until just combined. Place that mixture in a warm place, covering with wax paper and a towel. Let the dough rise.
4. On a floured surface, split the dough in two. Form it into two loaves.
5. Sprinkle cornmeal on a pan, then place the two loaves on top of it. Slice a few cuts in the top of the loaves. Let rest for 40 minutes.
6. Preheat the oven to 450 degrees. Ten minutes before baking the bread, place a baking sheet in the oven and cover with water. Close the oven quickly to create steam.
7. Put the bread in the oven and cook for 35 minutes until brown and crusty. Remove from oven, slice and enjoy.

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Avocado Compote Butter for Salmon

So a few months ago, my family came to visit me in D.C. and we went to a restaurant called Matchbox. If you’ve lived in the area, you’ve probably heard of it because it has a few locations across the city. They have divine pizza (which I tried before this visit) and their banana chocolate chip bread pudding is to die for. My family came  at an opportune time – I had just began eating fish again and was ready to try it at a restaurant. Matchbox did something special with my salmon, though. They topped it with butter. I was amazed. In shock. The tiny eating disorder voice that sometimes still resonates in my head was getting pretty pissed off. But I ignored it, slathered that butter all over my salmon, and damn, was it good.

This was the inspiration for avocado compote butter!

This was the inspiration for avocado compote butter!

Fast forward a few months and my aunt sent me a Food Network recipe for avocado compound butter. She knows of my avocado love and thought I could use recipes for avocado butter, frosting and ice cream, among other things. The problem with this recipe, though, was the cilantro. No one in my family enjoys this powerful herb, so I switched it up and added parsley to the compound instead of cilantro. Y. U. M. I topped my salmon with a pretty big slice of the butter, and as it melted, it dripped perfectly throughout, creating a decadent dinner from simple, fresh ingredients.

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The awesome thing about this butter is that you make a big log of it…enough so that you don’t just have to have it on salmon. This week I’ve been slathering this delicious stuff all over crusty Italian bread for breakfast. The awesome thing is that it truly is better for you than butter – avocado has so many more nutrients than just plain butter, and this compound is also packed with parsley, aka the life herb in my book.

Here is an ugly picture of the butter on my salmon. Gotta have a visual, y'all!

Here is an ugly picture of the butter on my salmon. Gotta have a visual, y’all!

How do we  make this yummy butter? It’s so easy!

Avocado Compound Butter
Peanut, tree nut, egg, soy and sesame free

Ingredients:
1/2 stick butter, room temperature
2 ripe avocados
Handful of parsley
1 tsp. garlic powder
1 Tbs. cumin
Salt and pepper to taste

1. Combine all the ingredients in a food processor. Pulse until smooth.
2. Spread the mixture on wax paper. Form into a log and freeze for at least an hour and a half before serving.

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Vegetarian Migas

This is quite possible the best “easy” dinner I’ve ever made. Best because it’s nutritional – eggs act as a protein and fat, bread fills in the carbohydrate category and it’s chock full of my favorite vegetables. Best also because it’s adaptable – you can make it gluten free and it tastes just as good. You can modify the recipe to include what vegetables you like. And it’s quick and easy to make!

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Migas is a traditionally Spanish dish made using bread (often soaked in milk, but not in this dairy free recipe!), spinach and eggs. Sometimes, chorizo is added, which you’re more than welcome to do, though as this recipe is vegetarian, I will not be adding any.


Migas in pan

I’ve talked about all the nutritional benefits, but what about the taste? The bread soaks up the egg and becomes almost a savory french toast, while stir fried mushrooms, spinach and yellow bell peppers fill out the flavors. So yummy!

So how does one make migas? It truly isn’t difficult – it just takes a frying pan and a little confidence 🙂

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Vegetarian Migas
Gluten free, peanut free, tree nut free, soy free, dairy free, shellfish free, fish free, sesame free

Ingredients (for 2 servings)
Three slices of bread (gluten free), torn into chunks
2 cups of uncooked spinach
1/2 bell pepper, sliced
6 mushrooms, chopped finely
1 clove of garlic
2 Tbsp. olive oil
4 eggs
Salt and pepper to taste

1. On a medium high heat, prime the pan with olive oil and garlic. Stir fry the garlic until brown and then remove the clove from the pan.
2. Once the clove is removed, add the bread, mushrooms and bell pepper. Stir fry until the bread gets a little brown on the edges and the peppers begin to give  a little if you stick a fork in them.
3. Add the spinach and cook until it wilts.
4. In a separate bowl, whisk the eggs with salt and pepper.
5. Pour the eggs into the pan and sort of scramble them around the rest of the ingredients. Make sure they are cooked fully, even when soaked into the bread.
6. Enjoy with a small side salad. Dinner is served! 🙂

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Bean Taco Bar with Grilled Peach Salsa

In my family, we eat a ton of tacos. We are not at all Hispanic, so these tend to be an American-ized version of tacos, but nonetheless, we love them. I think it is in part because we all have a penchant for spicy food (aside from my picky sister, unfortunately). But, more importantly, it’s because this meal is so easily customizable. We serve tacos by putting all the fixings out on a table, and each person takes what they want.

Taco bar goodness

Taco bar goodness

When my father was diagnosed with Celiac, we relied heavily on this meal. He ate corn tortillas, while the rest of us ate whole wheat. And I, the vegetarian of the family, went for refried beans, while everyone else ate ground beef. And, of course, my picky little sister avoids all the vegetables and spiciness she can 😉

We still make this meal quite often, but try to switch it up with different salsas or bases. Most recently, we made bean tacos with a grilled peach salsa. The salsa was, as I’m sure you can imagine, to die for. Grilling peaches is a huge flavor boost – it brings out more flavor, and the char flavor complements the sweetness of the peach nicely. The best part is the fresh jalepeno peppers – these are kept tame by that peachy sweetness as well.

I LOVE SALSA

I LOVE SALSA

While the salsa goes great on fish, I love having it on tacos. In this recipe, its rustic flavor compliments the beans well.

Grilled Peach Salsa

Ingredients

1 Tablespoon olive oil, plus some for grilling

3 peaches, halved and pitted

2 teaspoons garlic powder

2 chile peppers (you pick the heat!)

2 chopped plum tomatoes

2 tablespoons lime juice

course salt

1/2 cup basil, cut in ribbons

1. Heat grill to medium high. Clean and oil.

2. Toss peaches with oil.

3. Grill peaches, turning occasionally until charred and softened. Transfer to a cutting board and let cool.

4. Cut the peaches into small chunks and combine with the rest of the ingredients. Let stand for about 15 minutes to get the juices flowing, then serve!

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Bean Taco Bar

Ingredients

(To serve 4)

1 can refried beans

4 tortillas (can be corn or whole wheat)

Grilled Peach Salsa

Shredded cheddar cheese

Shredded lettuce

Green and Red peppers, cut into bite sized pieces

Tomatoes, cut into bite sized pieces

1. Heat the refried beans on the stovetop on medium-low heat. While they are heating, wrap the tortillas in a wet paper towel, and heat in the microwave for 10 seconds each.

2. Serve all the rest of the ingredients on the table. Fill your tortilla and enjoy!

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Creamy Avocado Pasta & White Bean Bruschetta

Last night’s dinner was good. Not just “oh yum that was tasty” good. Like, “I think I just became the next Barefoot Contessa” level of good. I think this is because it’s one of those meals that feel really fancy – bruschetta and creamy pasta always remind me of a classy Italian restaurant – but it didn’t take long to make, and it was really healthy and nourishing

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I originally got the idea for an avocado based cream sauce from Oh She Glows. Avocados are my favorite food (I may or may not be like those ladies on the Subway commercial), so when I saw the recipe, I just had to make it. It turned out surprisingly creamy – I never expected an avocado to so easily replace heavy cream! That was probably the most exciting part of the recipe, because one of the more difficult dishes to make dairy free is a sort of alfredo pasta. This recipe, despite it’s nutty, almost pesto-y flavor, contains no nuts, dairy, gluten, eggs or fish.

The bruschetta kind of started as one of those “kitchen sink” recipes – I had a can of white beans, a couple of tomatoes, and some buns left over from the Fourth of July. What I ended up with, though, was a delicious appetizer perfect for serving before a light Sunday dinner. You can adapt this recipe to make it gluten free, or you can use regular bread. It contains no other allergens, which makes it great to serve to guests with multiple allergies.

Creamy Avocado Pasta

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Ingredients

(to serve 4)

2 medium avocados

Juice of 1 lemon

1/2 clove garlic (you can add more or less as desired)

Salt, to taste

1/2 cup fresh basil

4 Tablespoons extra virgin olive oil

4 servings pasta, gluten free

1 small mug pasta water

1. Boil the water for pasta in a medium pot. When the bubbles are rolling, add enough pasta for 4 people, and cook until al dente. Drain and place in a medium bowl. Be sure to save a mug of pasta water.

2. While the pasta is boiling, make the sauce by putting the garlic clove, lemon juice and olive oil into the bowl of a food processor. Process until smooth.

3. Add the pitted and shelled avocados, basil and salt to taste. Process until smooth.

4. Pour a small amount of pasta water over the pasta, to make sure it doesn’t stick. Then cover with the sauce. Enjoy!

White Bean Bruschetta

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Ingredients

1 can cannelloni beans, drained

1/4 cup chopped celery

2 tomatoes cut into bite sized pieces

1 tsp tarragon

juice of 1/2 lemon

1/2 tsp garlic powder

2 sprigs rosemary

Salt & pepper to taste

3 Tablespoons olive oil

Gluten free bread

1. Turn oven onto its broil setting. Toast the bread in the oven.

2. Meanwhile, mix the remaining ingredients in a bowl.

3. When the bread is finished toasting, top with bruschetta and drizzle a little extra olive oil to taste. Enjoy!

Slawvocado (Tasty Avocado Slaw)

I’ve always been partial to the Fourth of July – it’s a day situated between mine and my mother’s birthdays, (mine’s the 3rd, my mother’s is the 5th), so it always feels like a big celebration. And truth be told, it is. While many years we end up at a cookout at a neighbor’s or family member’s house, this year we decided to host our own.

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The great thing about a cookout is that while you have hot dogs and veggie burgers cooking on the grill, you can whip up a salad of sorts to pair with your meatier main dish. Honestly, I oftentimes end up liking the salads so much better than my veggie burger!

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A Fourth of July apple pie!

 For this year’s Fourth of July festivities, in addition to making an apple pie, I created an Avocado Slaw, or what my family has taken to calling it Slawvocado. And while my boyfriend insists on calling it Grinch food, I promise it doesn’t taste anything close to that Christmas-stealing meanie.

Grinch greens (not!)

Grinch greens (not!)

This recipe was originally printed in the I Love Trader Joe’s Vegetarian Cookbook. It caught my eye mainly because it features my favorite food, the avocado, in a dressing. Better yet, it has no gluten, dairy, egg, nuts, soy or fish of any sorts, so it’s completely allergen free!

I tweaked it a little, of course, to fit my own taste palate and what I had on hand, and I ended up with one of my new favorite dishes. It’s full of healthy fat and veggies, and the best part is that it takes less than a half an hour to make. It’s a recipe I know I’ll be able to take back to school and make over and over.

Absolutely delicious!

Absolutely delicious!

Slawvocado (Tasty Avocado Slaw)

Ingredients

1 Tablespoon olive oil

1 teaspoon garlic powder (add more to fit your taste palate)

2 avocados

1/4 cup chopped parsley

juice of 1 small lime (microwave for 10 seconds to get the juices flowing)

sprinkle of salt

1/3 cup of water (add more for thinner dressing)

1 bag slaw (I used Trader Joe’s Organic Broccoli Slaw)

8 grape tomatoes, chopped

1/2 jalapeño pepper, diced with seeds removed

1. In the bowl of a food processor, combine olive oil, garlic powder and avocados and pulse until smooth.

2. Add the parsley, lime juice and salt and again, pulse until mixed.

3. Add enough water to make the avocado sauce the consistency of a creamy dressing.

4. In a separate large bowl, toss the dressing with the broccoli slaw, tomatoes and jalapeño pepper. Enjoy!