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Meme’s Banana Cake

July 1, 2022

Meme’s Banana Cake is legendary in our house. Whenever my mom offers the kids to make their birthday cake or a special treat, they always ask for this. It’s moist and rich, but also light and flavorful. My mom always uses fresh whipped cream for frosting, and so when I went to go make my son’s 16th Birthday Cake, and he asked for this, I made it just like she does.  She actually keeps the cooked cake rounds in her freezer to assemble whenever we have a get together – genius! All you have to do is whip up some whipped cream and slice some bananas and voila, you have a special dessert.

This cake would be super easy to make for the 4th of July as well – you can pour the batter into one 9 x 12 cake pan instead of the cake rounds, and decorate with strawberries and blueberries.

This recipe is a lot like banana bread, but the added buttermilk makes it light and fluffy. I love that it is so easy to make, and it comes together quickly.

I also love that this is a great way to use up ripe bananas – you can peel them and freeze them until your ready to use them.

This recipe is perfect for 2 round cake pans.

Assembly is super simple – whip up some cream with a little sugar and vanilla (taste it to be sure it is your desired level of sweetness!) and frost the first layer: 

 

 

Then add a layer of sliced bananas….

 

Then repeat on top and serve immediately – the bananas do brown so only slice and assemble this cake right before you are going to serve it.  Then bite into it and let your eyes close because it is SO good.

Hope you get to try this deliciousness soon! Happy 4th of July – hope it is filled with lots of wonderful things to eat!  xoxo Katie

Meme’s Banana Cake

Ingredients

3 large ripe bananas (about 1 and 1/2 cups mashed) + 4 yellow bananas for slicing (can’t be too brown or mushy)

3 cups all-purpose flour

1 teaspoon baking powder

1 teaspoon baking soda

1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon

1/2 teaspoon salt

3/4 cup unsalted butter, softened

1 cup granulated sugar

1/2 cup packed light or dark brown sugar

3 large eggs, at room temperature

2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract

1 and 1/2 cups buttermilk, at room temperature

Whipped Cream 

4 Tablespoons sugar

1 cup heavy cream

1 teaspoon vanilla

Instructions

  1. Preheat the oven to 350°F (177°C) and grease two round cake pans.
  2. Make the cake: Mash the bananas and set aside.
  3. Whisk the flour, baking powder, baking soda, cinnamon, and salt together. Set aside.
  4. Using a handheld or stand mixer fitted with a paddle attachment, beat the butter on high speed until smooth and creamy – about 1 minute. Add both sugars and beat on high speed for 2 minutes until creamed together. Scrape down the sides and up the bottom of the bowl with a rubber spatula as needed. Add the eggs and the vanilla. Beat on medium-high speed until combined, then beat in the mashed bananas. Scrape down the sides and up the bottom of the bowl as needed. With the mixer on low speed, add the dry ingredients in three additions alternating with the buttermilk and mixing each addition just until incorporated. Do not overmix. The batter will be slightly thick and a few lumps is OK.
  5. Spread batter into the prepared pans. Bake for 45-50 minutes. Baking times vary, so keep an eye on yours. The cake is done when a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean. If you find the top of the cake is browning too quickly in the oven, loosely cover it with aluminum foil.
  6. Remove the cake from the oven and set on a wire rack. Allow to cool completely. After about 45 minutes, I usually place it in the refrigerator to speed things up.
  7. Make the whipped cream: Place a metal mixing bowl and metal whisk into the freezer for 10 to 15 minutes. Place the sugar into the mixing bowl and add the whipping cream. Whisk just until the cream reaches stiff peaks. Store any unused portion in an airtight container for up to 10 hours. When ready to use, rewhisk for 10 to 15 seconds.
  8. Assemble the cake: Turn out cooked, cooled cakes on a clean service. Put one layer on serving plate or cake stand. Frost the top with a layer of whipped cream, then slice 2 bananas and arrange on top. Put second cake on top, repeat layers of whipped cream and additionally 2 sliced bananas. Serve immediately or keep chilled until serving.

 

Lemon Garlic Shrimp Salad with Radishes and Arugula

June 1, 2022

 

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As we welcomed summer this weekend, my thoughts immediately turned to this salad that I have made in the past but am craving once more. This salad is AH-mazing. It is a flavor blast of lemon, garlic, and feta along with a texture explosion of crunchy radishes and nuts, creamy avocado, and meaty shrimp. You can make this for a party, or you can make it for yourself and halve the recipe. Either way, you’re going to wanna make it. Because it’s change-your-life good.

I think I was laying by a pool while my kids swam when I dreamed it up. Most likely it was the lingering effects of Tamara Adler and her urge that a salad have something crunchy, creamy, acidic, and oily. Plus I totally crave shrimp in the summer for some reason – it cooks so fast so the kitchen doesn’t get hot and the lighter protein is my jam.  If your people don’t love shrimp you can totally substitute two cubed chicken breasts. 

I was having lunch with my mom and sister the next day, and had a bottle of my favorite Sancerre and wanted to bring something to go with it. The garlick-y lemony dressing, the crunchy salty combo, not to mention how pretty this salad is, all converged and made us so happy.

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I used some of the flavors from the dressing to marinate the shrimp. (A garlic spicy kick on shrimp makes me swoon). I made a marinade from the juice from 1 lemon, 1/2 olive oil, 2 cloves of garlic, 1/2 teaspoon red pepper flakes and salt and pepper. I put the raw shrimp in a zip lock bag with this and let it sit for a half hour. (You can do longer).

I started the dressing right after since it is very similar, and the longer the garlic hangs out with the lemon the more flavorful it will be so you want to give it some time to mingle. Combine lemon juice, Dijon mustard, minced shallot, 1 small grated (or minced) garlic clove. Let it hang. Go listen to some music. 

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When you are ready to start the salad, put some sliced almonds (or whole almonds or another favorite nut) in a pan and toast them. For some reason, I feel compelled to toast nuts in my cast iron skillet. It heats them so evenly.

Here is where you can choose your own adventure: I kept feeling like couscous would be a great texture to this salad. But when I assembled it, it looked too pretty to add it! So I served it in a bowl with a bed of couscous underneath and it was amazing. So experiment! Maybe put it under the arugula in a big bowl if you were taking it to a party. Or leave it out. The couscous does such a great job of soaking up the yummy dressing so it is a thumbs up, but the salad is great on its own too.

While everything is marinating and toasting and couscous is (optionally) fluffing up, start slicing your radishes. I can’t get enough radishes these days, so in they went. And I wanted a creamy element, so in went avocados too.
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This dish comes together fast, because although there are a lot of steps you can do them at the same time. The only thing that this salad requires one you get past cooking the shrimp is assembly. Yay for some easiness.

Whether you are headed to a big BBQ, or some relaxed get togethers with friends and family, delight everyone and make this. (But even if you eat it at home with Netflix, it’s still pretty great.)

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You will thank me when you make this! I promise.

Happy Eating, xoxo Katie

Lemon Garlic Shrimp Salad with Radishes and Arugula (Printer Version Here):

For the Marinaded Shrimp:

1/4 cup fresh lemon juice

1 tablespoon minced shallot

1 small garlic clove, finely grated

½ teaspoon red pepper flakes

½ cup olive oil

½ teaspoon salt

½ lb. raw shrimp, peeled

For the Salad:

2 cups arugula, thinly sliced

1 avocado, sliced lengthwise

1 cup radishes, sliced

½ cup toasted almonds

½ cup crumbled feta (I used low fat)

For the Dressing:

¼ cup fresh lemon juice

1 tablespoon minced shallot

1 small garlic clove, finely grated

2 teaspoons chopped parsely

½ teaspoon salt, pinch of black ground pepper

½ cup extra virgin olive oil

Directions:

If shrimp is frozen, soak in warm water until it is thawed (about 5-10 minutes.) Peel and removed tails. Mix marinade ingredients together, then pour over peeled raw shrimp in a ziplock bag. Let sit in fridge for 30 minutes-4 hours.

Start the dressing by mixing all the ingredients except the olive oil. Let sit to allow flavors to blend.

If serving with couscous, prepare according to package directions.

Toast almonds by pouring into skillet or pan, shaking to evenly distribute in one even layer in pan so they toast evenly. Checking for doneness every few minutes (set a timer if needed) shaking pan to toss and redistribute nuts. Repeat as necessary until toasted. (Note: you can tell when they are done by noticing when there is a toasted nut smell, but the timer is more reliable, which is helpful since they burn easily). Remove from heat when done and let rest until use.

When shrimp is done marinating, heat large pan on medium-high heat. Pour shrimp in pan, give one small sprinkle of salt and pepper, turning after cooking 1-2 minutes or when pink. Let cook for 1-2 minutes on the other side, then transfer to a plate to cool.

Meanwhile, place arugula in large bowl. Slice radishes and scatter around the top. Slice avocado, squeezing with lemon juice to prevent browning, then lay on top of salad. Scatter evenly the feta, nuts, and shrimp around top.

When read to eat, pour dressing evenly over top. Serve immediately.

One-Pot Chicken and Artichoke Cavatappi

January 26, 2022

What could be better on a cold winter night then lighting a fire, turning up the music and making a one-pot pasta dish?

I love artichokes, and will use any excuse to use them in a dish. I actually almost always have some open in my fridge to use in omelets, salads, sandwiches (they are so yummy on egg sandwiches with grainy mustard). I also have a family to feed where half of them want pasta at every meal, and the other half wants meat. Voila! Everyone is happy with this dish.

The first step is to brown the artichokes. This brings out there flavor and the cartelized color is so pretty.

Then you remove them from the pan (I doubled this recipe, so I used a heavy-bottomed pot for this recipe).

You add oil to the pan, season chicken with garlic powder, onion powder, salt and pepper, and brown on both sides. Remove the chicken from the pan and sauté onions, then add garlic and oregano. Then add tomatoes and broccoli and season with salt and pepper. Finally add lemon juice and chicken broth (which adds a lot of flavor but you could use water in a pinch) and the pasta, cover and let cook for 10 minutes. Then add the chicken back in and you’re done. If there is too much liquid you can cook it off, and if the pasta seems al dente you can add a little more broth and let it cook for a few minutes. 

Serve with plenty of shaved parmesan cheese on top, and crusty bread. This is a great dish for a busy weeknight but it’s also nice enough for company. The leftovers keep very well and get better the next day. The lemon, garlic and oregano add lots of flavor. I also added red pepper flakes to mine. Crumbled feta or olives on top would also be delicious.

The best part is this dish is pretty healthy, especially if you use whole wheat pasta (which my kids cannot abide so I didn’t.)

Hope this dinner warms up your insides and is an easy meal to add to your dinner rotation! It is delicious and easy.

Happy Eating, xoxo Katie

One-Pot Chicken and Artichoke Cavatappi

Serves 4  (I doubled this recipe) 

INGREDIENTS

  • Olive oil
  • 15-ounce can quartered artichoke hearts, drained
  • 1pound chicken tenders
  • 1 teaspoon garlic powder
  • 1 teaspoon onion powder
  • 1-2 teaspoon salt, plus more to taste
  • 3/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper, plus more to taste
  • 1 small onion chopped, about 1 cup
  • 2 tablespoons chopped garlic, about 5 cloves
  • 1 tablespoon chopped fresh oregano, divided
  • 3 ounces julienne-cut sun-dried tomatoes
  • 3 cups broccoli, fresh or frozen (you can use kale or spinach instead)
  • 2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice, about 1/2 lemon, plus more to taste
  • 2.5 cups chicken broth
  • 8 ounces cavatappi, regular or whole wheat (you can use penne or other shape)
  • 2 ounces shaved parmesan, (optional)

Directions: 

Heat a large non-stick skillet with high sides (or a large pot if you are doubling the recipe) over medium heat.

Heat 1 T. olive oil. Working in two batches, add artichokes and char until dark golden—3 to 4 minutes. Remove to a plate.

Season chicken with 1 teaspoon each garlic powder, onion powder and salt and 1/4 teaspoon black pepper.

Heat another 1 T. olive oil in pan, add chicken and cook 5 minutes, turning half way through cooking. Transfer to a plate and set aside.

Heat an additional 1 T. olive oil, then add onions, garlic, and 2 teaspoons oregano. Cook, stirring, until onions are softened and golden, 4 minutes.

Stir in tomatoes and broccoli, sprinkle with 1 teaspoon salt and 1/2 teaspoon black pepper. Add 2 tablespoons lemon juice and 2 1/4 cups of chicken broth. Stir in cavatappi, cover and cook for 10 minutes.

Cut chicken into 1-inch pieces.

Remove cover, stir in chicken and artichokes. Reduce heat to medium-low, cover and cook for 5 more minutes or until pasta is al dente and chicken is reheated. Remove cover and cook off any excess liquid if necessary. Serve topped with parmesan (if using), remaining oregano, and more salt and black pepper to taste.

Recipe adapted from Skinnytaste.com

Pork Carnitas

September 17, 2019

 

If there was an award give to a food for the least amount of work for the most amount of bang, it would have to be these pork carnitas.

With about 15 minutes of prep time in the morning, you can literally feed a crow with all the delicious flavors of street tacos. The flavors are built up by the citrus, garlic, and spices and then linger low and slow for a while in the crockpot. All the fattiness from the meat gets cut by toppings like pico de gallo, sour cream and cheese.

I love to make these on sports Saturdays when we are running around to different fields but really want to come home and relax. With bigger kids, my favorite slow cooking on Saturday evenings, sipping wine is not a reality. I’m not complaining though because football under the lights with popcorn is a pretty cool family event and the games are so exciting to watch! I still want to eat yummy food when I come home though of course.

Enter festive crock pot dinners. I throw these flavors into a crock pot – the spices I combine in a small bowl and then sprinkle over the whole pork shoulder. If you want a leaner cut of meat use the boneless pork shoulder blade roast, but I usually use the pork shoulder picnic.

Also don’t mind my dented crock pot. I have no idea how it got dented but I blame kids.

It’s important to keep turning the roast as it cooks so the flavors are easily distributed.

When it’s done, you shred the meat (which goes very quickly since it’s SO tender), toss it back in the juices for more flavors, and lay it on a baking sheet. Then you turn on your broiler, and let it brown up for 5-10 minutes, watching closely. Then I like to channel my inner food truck owner and lay out all the fixings.

Everyone can make their own taco with their favorite toppings (read: picky eaters are happy). This is a great meal to share so invite some friends over and throw some cold drinks on ice. A perfect and easy Saturday night meal.

 

 

Hope you and your crew get to try these soon! They’re so so good.

Happy Eating, xoxo Katie

Pork Carnitas

Ingredients:

2 onions, sliced

3-4 lb. pork shoulder picnic or 2-3 pound boneless pork shoulder roast

3 T salt

1 t. pepper

2 bay leaves

1 T cumin

1 T oregano

1 T chili powder

1 t. cinnamon

6 garlic cloves

Juice of 2 oranges

Juice of 2 limes

Directions:

Place sliced onions in the bottom of a slow cooker set to high.

Place pork on top of onions. Combine all spices in a small bowl, then sprinkle over the top of the pork. Add chopped garlic, juice of orange and lime.

Cover and cook on high for 6 hours or low for 10.

When it’s done, shred the meat (which goes very quickly since it’s SO tender), toss it back in the juices, and then lay it out on a baking sheet. Turn on your broiler, and let it brown up for 5-10 minutes, watching closely. Serve in warm tortillas with your favorite toppings.

Pork Posole

August 29, 2019

We are back in the swing of the school year, and I’ve been scouring my cookbooks and the internet to find new dinner ideas. My criteria has been dishes that are easy, delicious and feed a crowd. And I guess I’ve also been looking for things that are a little different, something we’ve never tasted before.

This Pork Posole checks all the boxes. When you find a dish that has SO much flavor, and is so simple and easy, and is a little bit different than anything you’ve had before, you have to share it. The amazing flavor comes from three things: the salsa verde…

the hominy…it was a little hard to find for me so I bought six cans from Amazon and I am very excited to have the makings for more posole in my pantry. Amazon Prime for lyfe. (Seriously, what did moms of little kids do before it existed?)

…and the addition of 3 cups of tortilla chips at the end. It sounds so weird but then you realize that the corn chips dissolve and when they do, they thicken this dish and add salt and fat that makes you crave more. It’s loaded with veggies that help to balance this decadence though, right?

I was a little worried that the fresh poblano pepper would make it too spicy, but my normally picky nine year old loved this dish along with my big kids.

My six year old did not love it though and ate what we always serve the kids who think something is too spicy: a cheese roll up. This is the name we give a tortilla sprinkled with shredded mozzarella or cheddar cheese, rolled up and microwaved for 30 seconds with some avocado. (Just looking out for you mommas out there.)This dish has got to be one of the best bowls of stew/soup I’ve ever had. I’ve seen a lot of posole recipes around using chicken instead, and you could easily swap the pork for the chicken here. But the pork was so flavorful and satisfying I highly recommend trying it. There are a lot of crock pot versions too, but I think sautéing the veggies adds so much flavor and once you’ve done that you might as well just let it simmer on the stove for 30 minutes.The salsa verde and the lime make this taste so fresh, but at its heart this is comfort food and perfect for fall. I hope you get to try it and fall in love with it like we did. 

Happy Eating,

xoxo Katie

Ingredients

Olive oil

1 1/2 pounds lean, boneless pork loin, 1/2-inch diced

2 cups chopped yellow onion (2 onions)

1/3 cup small-diced poblano pepper

2 Holland yellow or orange bell peppers, seeded and 3/4-inch diced

1 tablespoon minced garlic (3 cloves)

1 teaspoon chili powder

1/2 teaspoon dried oregano

6 cups good chicken stock, preferably homemade, simmering

1 (12-ounce) jar medium salsa verde

2 (15-ounce) cans white hominy, rinsed and drained

1 (15.5-ounce) can black beans, rinsed and drained

3 cups yellow corn tortilla chips, plus extra for serving

Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper

Lime wedges, sliced or diced avocado, sliced scallions, sliced radishes, grated Cheddar, and sour cream, for serving

Directions

  1. Heat 3 tablespoons olive oil in a medium (11-inch) pot or Dutch oven, such as Le Creuset, over medium-high heat. Add the pork and saute for 5 to 10 minutes, until lightly browned on all sides. Transfer the pork and any liquid to a bowl and set aside. (Don’t worry about crowding the pan here). Heat 2 tablespoons oil in the pot, add the onions, and saute over medium heat for 5 minutes, stirring occasionally. Add the poblano and bell peppers and cook for 5 minutes, stirring occasionally. Add the garlic, chili powder, and oregano and cook for one minute. Return the pork and its juices to the pot.
  2. Add the chicken stock and salsa verde and bring to a simmer. Stir in the hominy, black beans, corn chips, 1 tablespoon salt, and 1 1/2 teaspoons black pepper and simmer, partially covered, for 30 minutes, stirring occasionally. Add 1 teaspoon salt, depending on the saltiness of the chicken stock and the chips.
  3. To serve, ladle the posole into large soup bowls. Garnish with a squeeze of lime and top with avocado, scallions, radishes, tortilla chips, Cheddar, and sour cream. Serve hot.

Recipe from Ina Garten can be found here on Foodnetwork.com

Greek Panzanella + Notes from a Lake Kitchen

July 27, 2019

We’re spending a month by the lake in our new (to us) camp about an hour north of Portland, Maine, near Sunday River and it has made me think a lot about food. We’ve had the house since January, but then it felt more like a ski house kitchen, and I had crock pots of short ribs and spaghetti and meatballs on heavy rotation. This summer we’re here for a whole month because our kitchen and floors are getting redone after we had a leak (and why this blog is so silent lately!). It definitely feels like the longest vacation we’ve ever had, which has been lovely and the days are passing like caramel melts in your mouth, sweet and slow.

I wasn’t sure this would be the case. A summer version of The Shining did cross my mind when I was packing my six kids to come up here. But walks by the lake every morning, swimming and reading every afternoon have given us such great family time and enough structure without any stress which feels…amazing. As Winnie the Pooh says in the recent Christopher Robin movie, “doing nothing often leads to the very best of something.” And of course he is right.

When you’re on vacation, you want to eat delicious food but don’t want to clean up. Going out to eat is how many people resolve this but going out to eat with the twins gives me indigestion and makes me want to take a nap immediately, so we avoid it.

At home we rely on our pizza delivery place, but here they a) don’t deliver and b) don’t always know what the difference is between 30 minutes and 75.  So we’ve been making our own. It’s swayed us mightily since they are always easy and good. I’m somewhat obsessed with the margherita pizza we’ve been making and I don’t see that obsession going away anytime soon, though sautéed Brussels sprouts with pancetta is a close second.

For breakfast I’ve been living off of avocado toasts (the twins love it) and my favorite mushroom and goat cheese fritatta.

For dinners I wanted to try out a few new recipes and promptly realized why a stocked pantry is so necessary to cooking. Buying all the asian condiments like hoisin sauce and fish sauce and rice wine vinegar will add to your bill considerably. And may make you wish you did in fact go out to eat. But still this 30 minute Asian beef bowl – which was born from my 13-year olds craving a dish he had had on vacation one time – was worth all the condiments, and it was really good with some broccoli and red peppers sautéed with soy sauce and sesame oil drizzled on it. And this thai chicken flatbread pizza was so good too.

It’s the rhythms of food that always appeal to me, and that stands out so much here. Chopping an onion, mixing a vinaigrette, turning yesterdays meal of roast chicken or grilled veggies into something delicious. Forming these little rituals that will become ways to connect us to our time here through the years. And that’s what seasonal eating is, just relishing the present moment with all its delights. When our neighbor, Bobbie, who has a camp right next to us invited me over for a visit, she offered me some raspberry pie with her fresh raspberries picked from her patch at home. It was like summer sunshine exploded in your mouth. And another friend and her mom were here for a visit and she made raspberry jam that we’ve been spreading on toast. It’s making me want to go home and plant as many raspberry bushes as I can fit into our yard.

I love finding treasures offered up by the local food stores. The road to the ski mountain Sunday River is loaded with wonderful markets and organic offerings, and I found Miso and fresh greens and the best rosé in a can which fits perfectly into the stroller cup holders. I also found great asiago bread at the store in town and toasted it’s delicious – it’s a lot like the cheese bread we get in Pemaquid, Maine. They also have great ciabatta bread and another bakery sells pain au chocolat too. These are the beginnings of our food memories here, and they’re making me so happy.

I turned the leftover bread into panzanella salad this week and decided to make it a greek version – I have a long standing love of Greek salad and could eat it for lunch every day so I always have the makings on hand.

And I don’t know about you but I can’t get enough cucumbers and tomatoes in the summer, preferably with some kind of vinegar.

So much goodness in one bowl. I love the briney olives with the creamy salty feta and chewy bread that’s absorbed all the vinegar.

 

In short, eating on vacation in July is the essence of simple. And the best part is all the walking and swimming and playing in the sun keeps you feeling great.

Next week I’ll be back in my newly refurbished kitchen and taking all the inspiration from this month with me. Stop back here if you want to see what it looks like!

Well, I just heard a splash that means the kids are swimming and I think I’ll go join them. They made up a new game that involves racing off the dock, and that’s pretty much what we dreamed of when we bought this place.

Happy Eating, xoxo Katie

Greek Panzanella Salad

Ingredients

1 small French bread or ciabatta loaf, cut into 1-inch cubes (6 cups)

1 teaspoon kosher salt

2 large, ripe tomatoes, cut into 1-inch cubes

1 hothouse cucumber, unpeeled, seeded, and sliced 1/2-inch thick

1 orange or yellow bell pepper, seeded and cut into 1-inch cubes

1 large shallot, diced or 1/2 red onion, thinly sliced

8-10 large basil leaves, coarsely chopped

1/2 cup Greek olives (or more if you love them like me)

8 oz. feta cheese, cubed or crumbled

For the vinaigrette:

1 teaspoon finely minced garlic

1/2 teaspoon Dijon mustard

4 tablespoons Red wine vinegar

1/2 t. dried oregano

1/4 cup good olive oil

1/2 teaspoon kosher salt

1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper

 

Directions:

Make the vinaigrette, then mix all ingredients together in a large bowl and pour vinaigrette over them. Toss to coat, and enjoy!