Friday, October 26, 2012

Vegan Salt & Pepper White Gravy

Panko Crusted Seitan with Gravy and Spinach

In my fam, I'm known for bringing the vegan brown gravy to every holiday dinner we have together. Sometimes it's shiitake flavored, sometimes its base is veggie broth, others it's almond milk. Sometimes I'll caramelize onions and blend them in, other times I just reach for onion powder. Whatever ends up in it it's always rich, dark, thick, sop up every last drop good.

Even when making gravy for breakfast with biscuits and tempeh or seitan fauxsage, I'm known for whipping up a rich brown gravy to serve as the salty, tasty component to a biscuits 'n gravy dish.

Until the recent Vegan Chopped challenge, white gravy wasn't on my radar at all. It came to me while dreaming up my entry and hasn't left my brain since. So simple, no crazy ingredients, just pantry staples thrown together quickly, with ease, and yielding a rich, perfect, salty and flavorful breakfast addition. I like to season mine with a personal favorite balance of salt and pepper. Enough salt to make it tasty, and just enough pepper to make it 'peppery' without being overpowering. Granted, I love black pepper, so ease off the listed amount and add to taste if you're worried about them being too peppery.

This morning I woke up wanting protein but not tofu, hadn't remembered to precook my beloved steel cut oats, and decided on one of my favorite things: 500 Vegan Recipes' Protein Quick! Mini Seitan Bites. I've made these so many time. They're the perfect easy, fast, protein packed savory choice for breakfast. They're not a muffin, they're not the same texture as any seitan I've ever made. They're just GOOD. As is in the book they're sublime, made with sausage-y herbs (think fennel, sage, marjoram, red pepper flakes) they're sausage in a protein-packed muffin. Made with rye seeds and bits of sauteed onion they're amazing with just a pat of Earth Balance, no gravy needed. However you choose to enjoy them, they're totally worth purchasing 500 Vegan Recipes for (tho there are plenty other great recipes in there I hope to blog about later!). They lend themselves perfectly to a light drizzle of gravy. Or a whole mess of gravy. The choice is yours.
Sausage Flavored Broccoli Bites with S&P Gravy

This morning I made my Protein Bites with fennel, sage, marjoram, garlic powder, onion powder and little bits of sauteed broccoli. I don't know about you, but throwing in a green veggie in the morning just reeeeally makes my breakfast. Wanting the white gravy my taste buds were craving, this was the perfect quick breakfast.

With this tasty dish I get all the flavor and texture satisfaction I want from a biscuits and gravy dish with more nutrients packed in and with less effort. The bites mix together so easily in one bowl and come out beautifully every time with very little effort.

Vegan Salt & Pepper White Gravy
makes about 2 cups

2 cups warmed almond milk
2 T Olive oil or Organic Smart Balance
3 T unbleached flour
1/2-1 tsp sea salt 
1/2 tsp black pepper
1/2 tsp onion powder
1/2 tsp garlic powder

While your bites are baking, heat almond milk in microwave for two minutes. In a med sauce pan, melt Smart Balance over med heat and whisk in flour. Whisking continuously, add about a 1/4 cup of warmed milk at a time, whisking in completely before adding your next 1/4 cup increment. When all the almond milk has been incorporated, add spices and whisk. Whisking occasionally to avoid a layer forming on the bottom of the pan, keep on med heat until bubbly and thickened. Turn heat to low.

I find that this gravy is a bit thin if you eat it piping hot, is a bit thicker if allowed to cool a bit, and is the perfect thickness if reheated from the day before. You could always mix a bit of cold almond milk with a bit of corn starch and stir that in while bubbling. that thickens it up quickly.

If you want to use this gravy over vegan biscuits, adding tempeh or seitain fauxsage, stirring it in at the end, would be a perfect choice!

Sunday, October 14, 2012

Soytan 'n A Biscan't

I don't know what I'm more proud of, that this Vegan Chopped, Brunch Edition inspired me to create and make possibly the best thing to ever come out of my kitchen or that I did it on a whopping four hours of sleep after a fabulous but all-too-long night of celebrating a Gator win with some of my favorite peeps. Getting up, feeding the kids, cleaning the kitchen from said celebration and getting on brunch before the future brunchers catching those last winks of sleep even thought of cracking an eye open was a serious accomplishment, but oh, how it paid off in the end!

What I'm not proud of is that super awful play on words blog title for this entry. I can't help myself. No, really, I can't or I'd have deleted it by now. But it's at least less wordy than the formal description of my entry, 

Roasted Butternut Squash Rosemary Scones over White Sage Gravy with Popcorn Encrusted Soy-tan Cutlets and a Dijon Apricot Drizzle

the Vegan Chopped Brunch Edition ingredients?
fresh rosemary
apricot preserves
butternut squash

As is the case with me and Vegan Chopped ideas, I'm not known for really busting out of the vegan culinary box, but my brain dreams up something immediately upon seeing those four ingredients. Once that idea is born in my brain, there is no deviating.

For some reason I immediately thought of Chicken 'n A Biscuit.  before my two decades of being vegetarian then vegan, I'd never tried the combo, never knew anyone else who had, and had never seen them on an actual menu. Somehow this did not stop me from knowing that the pairing was a popular brunch item somewhere. So be it!

I have only made scones once before, but felt I needed to try my hand at them in a savory way. I adapted Vegan Brunch's Tomato Rosemary Scones as I've heard nothing but good things about them. Swapped tomato for roasted butternut squash puree that I'd made the day before and added ginger because, to me, ginger and rosemary need to be together. Okay, truth be told, ginger needs to get it on with most other flavors that show up on my plate so I may be biased in her favor. Ginger it was. Mmmmmm, ginger. I think next time I'd amp up the ginger now that i know how seductive she was in a subtle appearance in these babies.

Roasted Butternut Squash & Rosemary Scones
(adapted from Vegan Brunch)

3 cups unbleached flour
2 T baking powder
1/4 (scant) cup Florida Crystals
1/2 tsp sea salt
1/2 tsp fresh cracked black pepper
1/3 c. olive oil (I used a very light bodied variety)
1 1/2 cups roasted butternut squash puree*
1 tsp apple cider vinegar
2 T fresh rosemary, chopped
2-3 tsp fresh grated ginger (I use my microplaner)

400 oven
combine flour, baking powder, sugar, salt, and black pepper in large bowl.
in separate bowl, whisk squash, oil, vinegar, rosemary, and ginger.
add wet ingredients to well in dry ingredients and stir gently until well incorporated.
line baking sheet with parchment paper.
my dough was sticky at this point so I lightly oiled my hands and my dough scraper.
divide dough into two and shape into two discs. divide each disc into six equal (ish ;) triangles.
bake 14-16 minutes or until firm.
mine, tested with a wooden skewer, were perfect inside after fifteen, skewer coming out clean but the scones were pillowy inside and the lightest crust on the outside (and such a pretty color!)

The gravy is a simple versatile no-nonsense gravy. I just wanted something thick and hearty to make the scone more biscuit-y and when I think rosemary, I think thyme and sage. I saved the thyme for the soytan breading.

Easy Vegan White Gravy

2 cups nondairy milk (I always use unsweetened almond), warmed
3 T unbleached flour
2 T vegan margarine (my fave is vegan Organic Smart Balance)
1 1/2 tsp dried sage
salt, pepper, garlic, and onion powder to taste

warm almond milk (I nuke mine for a few minutes). over medium heat, toast flour in a saucepan until fragrant, whisk in margarine. keep whisking until well combined (add nooch if you want here, I almost always do but just flaked this morning) then start slowly adding, whisking the whole time to avoid clumps, the warmed milk. simmer until thickened and add seasoning to taste. keep covered on low until ready to serve.

I feel in love last week with 1000 Vegan Recipe's Soytan cutlets, recipe here, (thanks again, Magic Jelly!) and love them as is in the recipe. It was no real stretch to make popcorn flour in the food processor (took about ten minutes and was beautiful, using my favorite, Black Jewel popcorn). I seasoned the already perfectly salted flour with Hungarian paprika, nutritional yeast, thyme and fresh cracked black pepper.
Edited to add that I have my computer up and running this morning so I added the pic! Off to back up this thing before I lose it all forever!
I had a beautiful picture that did a better job of explaining how much of each seasoning went into the bag of flour made from one bag of popped corn, but my computer just died after typing up this blog post and I lost anything I didn't already text to a friend this morning. I'm currently typing this from my husbands computer with limited photos to post. grrrr.

I dipped the cutlets (made a double batch) in almond milk and then dredged in the seasoned flour. Fried them in oil for a few minutes on one side, then splashed with lemon juice after flipping, browned the other side for a few minutes, then laid them to rest and cool on a paper towel lined drying rack, covered with a large pan cover til ready to eat.

The fancy sounding Dijon Apricot reduction was just a simple but great way to add a little sweet to all the savory (I should note that the scones were a tad sweet and I'd reduce the sugar a bit more for this recipe when making again, but I am so happy to eat the leftovers as is).

fancy sounding Dijon Apricot Reduction

1 5.5oz can of apricot nectar
1/2 c. apricot preserves (I did find a fancy imported french variety. ooh lala!)

2 T Dijon mustard
3 tsp apple cider vinegar
3 tsp agave nectar
salt to taste
pepper to taste
in saucepan over medium heat, bring all ingredients except salt and pepper to boiling, whisking continuously. simmer for about ten or fifteen minutes or until reduced and thickened. If it's too thick, add a few more splashes of nectar, too thin? try simmering for another 3-5 minutes.
add salt and pepper to taste.

I paired the satisfying, tasty plate with some fresh grapes and fresh peaches. and what kind of brunch would I be hosting without a fancy drink? Apricot Mimosas (I put a sprig of rosemary in mine and let it sit for a bit while plating and serving. was surprisingly so very good!).

I have to say, everyone was very happy with the results, but my most favorite reply came from my omni husband in the other room watching football, after the last bite, as the clink of his fork was heard hitting his plate, "Hey Bry? That was NUTS dude. NUTS! Wow. Thank you for that!"

I'm still smiling over that one. And plan to totally dis my daily beloved steel cut oats breakfast tomorrow for a fancy 'wish it was still Sunday' breakfast of brunch leftovers in the morning.

Saturday, October 06, 2012

Overnight Steel Cut Oats

I've never been a fan of oatmeal. To me, oatmeal was always that nasty stuff that came in individual packets and always tasted like cinnamon and some dried fruit combo, was mushy and unappealing. I tried over the years to 'love' it like everyone else seemed to, but it never stuck. Whenever I got tired of tofu scrambles or smoothies for breakfast I'd try it again. No dice.

Enter Steel Cut Oats. I had them at a restaurant in town pan-seared and amazing. I copied their method and enjoyed them that way a LOT. But I had to have the forethought to make them ahead of time, stir a pot of oats for 40 minutes before bed and use a little too much Organic Smart Balance in the morning to enjoy them.

Did the crock pot thing for a while, but even that wasn't delivering the right texture. A visit from a friend last weekend changed everything. 'I do mine overnight. Nuke them at night, again in the morning. Perfect every time!'. No, it couldn't be. How had I missed this method? (Ironically, she told me this as I was stirring our breakfast oats for forty minutes that morning).

For the past week I have been blissfully enjoying the overnight method. You could do it on the stove if you prefer, but I like fact that I can make them and eat them all in one bowl and utilize the microwave while doing other things like dishes or getting a certain four year old to bed.

Basically, I take:

1/4 c. steel cut oats
3/4 c. water 

and place in a Pyrex bowl. I cover it with a small plate and microwave for two minutes. Remove from microwave, cover tightly (I use a bowl that came with a lid so that's super simple) and leave on the counter til morning.
In the morning I remove the cover, replace that small plate and microwave for another minute.
Then I stir in a big tablespoon of Justin's Chocolate Hazelnut Butter (oh my dog. how did I live without this stuff?!) and a sliced banana. 
Every time.

Friday, October 05, 2012

Take That Starbucks! Pumpkin Pie Spiced Latte

When I worked helping to manage a health club, I started a love affair with coffee. Oh, irony you are so funny. The coffee was right there at the front desk, always hot and fresh and it was either that or get through the long days using pre-outlawed ephedrine-laden energy drinks. Since I was already nursing a healthy addiction to expensive water and am a sufferer of high blood pressure, coffee seemed like the smarter vice. Not only did I fall in love with a caffeine addiction, I let myself succumb to the daily trips by an office coworker to Starbucks. It was the holidays, the flavors were too enticing to pass up! If I only ordered two pumps in my Venti Pumpkin Pie Spiced, Peppermint Mocha, or just straight up Hazelnut Soy lattes surely I wasn't being that bad, was I? 

After leaving the club, becoming vegan, and adopting a healthier lifestyle, I quit my Starbucks addiction cold turkey. I still, however, enjoyed a daily mug of coffee. Recently, I was out running errands, and after years of not frequenting the place, decided to 'treat' myself to the Pumpkin Pie Spiced Latte. I soon had the belly ache I remembered (amazing how even though they used to make me feel ill, I couldn't stop getting them). It was sickeningly sweet and crazy expensive. Lesson learned.

Thanks to a random pin on Pinterest, I realized I could have been making them at home all along, and better, even! 

Now, I'm no barista, and this is no true 'latte', but for me, it has the same flavor and hits the spot. I had to play with the maple syrup a bit to make sure I didn't over sweeten it. I tend to like a scarce hint of sweetness but no more. What's so great about this is that you can absolutely tailor it to your own liking and for pennies!

Pumpkin Spiced 'Latte'
makes 8 cups

You will need:
8 cups filtered water
Almond milk* (any non-dairy milk you prefer in your coffee should do), heated
5 heaping tablespoons of your favorite darker roast coffee
1 tsp cinnamon
1/4 tsp nutmeg
1/4 tsp ground ginger powder
5-8 whole cloves

I make this in my run-of-the-mill coffee maker with paper liner. I had read that this type of coffee maker is ideal. I typically would use 4 heaping T of coffee for 8 cups of water, but the idea is to make this coffee a bit stronger than you typically would. If you have an espresso machine that would be perfect (and I envy you ;).

Place water in water chamber and coffee in filter. Mix spices with coffee grounds. Brew. Place desired amount of maple syrup in bottom of mug, fill mug two thirds full with hot brewed coffee. Finish with almond milk*. That's it! I admit it took some tinkering with the syrup and milk/coffee ration to get it just right for myself, but it was worth it!

I can't believe I never thought of this before! (I say this a lot with things I find in Pinterest).

*I have skipped the almond milk and just used the typical amount of French Vanilla Silk Creamer I typically do in my coffee (1 T) and think I like that just as much. I have also tried using So Delicious's Hazelnut Coconut Milk Creamer and maybe liked that the best, but don't always want the Pumpkin Pie Spice/Hazelnut flavor. I can't believe I just typed that. I LOVE hazelnut anything, but it's true!

Happy fall!

Thursday, October 04, 2012

Favorite Vegan Tacos

Once upon a time or....last sister and I were in the kitchen talking about fish tacos. She loves them. Her husband loves them. MY husband,  her brother, loves them.  I, a veg for well over a decade, had never had them. While the idea of stuffing some protein packed fish-y veg option in a corn tortilla with cabbage and a tangy sauce was super appealing, I wasn't entirely sold on fish-y seasoning, bread-crumbing, and frying tofu as a stand-in. In my head these were fresh, whole ingredient-laden beauties. What better veg protein than the most complete one? Beans and rice!

We agreed that Jasmine rice and lightly seasoned black beans would be perfect. We topped them with fresh, shredded green cabbage and my homemade spicy sauce and served on warmed corn tortillas. She thought they could use something extra, a little sharp cheese. If you're a  fan of a particular vegan cheese feel free to add some,  but I wouldn't. I love them just as they are. Loved them all last summer. Loved them plenty of times this summer. Devoured a couple of them just now. Love.

Some people might be wondering if any old rice will do. If any old beans will suffice, if lettuce makes a fine substitute for the cabbage. My reply to those people? I have no idea. I have never tried them any other way than exactly like this, and if I don't have one of the ingredients I happily wait until I do to make them. My sister's husband is a fan. My husband is smitten. I have friends who have made them a staple in their kitchen as well. These babies are where it's at!

I cannot supply a recipe; I have never measured anything while making them or the spicy sauce that accompanies them. It's like any other taco, you have ingredients, you pile as much as you like of each into the tortillas. The sauce is something I've developed over time. It's modeled after those spicy sauces you get in sushi restaurants reserved for their star rolls. I basically just went with what I tasted and add each ingredient to taste.

Our Favorite Vegan Tacos

You will need (for tacos):

corn tortillas
jasmine rice, cooked
1 medium sweet onion
1 can low sodium black beans, rinsed and drained
1 tsp olive oil
sea salt
garlic powder (I'm lazy. You can use a couple cloves of garlic, minced)
green cabbage, cut in thin strips or shredded (or chopped, whatever you prefer!)

You will also need (for spicy sauce):

Veganaise (I use the Original, blue labeled variety but your favorite Veg Mayo stand-in will do)
Sriracha (rooster sauce!)
Toasted Sesame Oil (yes, it has to be toasted)
Agave nectar (I''m partial to the light variety, but I'm sure any will work fine, even using vegan sugar is likely a great sub if you don't have/don't like agave)

For the tacos:
Heat oil over medium heat in a sauce pan. Add onions and a couple pinches of sea salt and saute until soft and translucent. Add garlic and saute until starting to brown. Toss in the beans and season to taste with cumin and oregano (I put a few shakes of garlic, a few of cumin, and a few of oregano. I don't want those flavors to be prominent, but have found that adding them to the beans makes the beans taste amazing). Heat thru and take off heat and cover.

Spray skillet with oil on med heat. Heat small corn tortillas on each side until just starting to barely get brown spots, flip and repeat. Remove and put on plate, covered until all tortillas are ready.

Place tortilla on plate. Top with small amount of rice, then beans, then cabbage, then squirt with sauce.

For Spicy Sauce:
I make a bowl full and keep it in a squeeze bottle for future tacos, sushi, stir fries, whatever I want to put it on. This stuff is GOOD.

Place a few large tablespoons of Veganaise into a bowl. Add Sriracha  and mix until desired spiciness. I rarely taste it but have come to know the shade of orange I'm going for. I like it pretty spicy so a nice bright orange is where I'm aiming. Add a tsp or so of toasted sesame oil. I taste it here as not all toasted sesame oils are created equal and I don't want it's flavor to be overwhelming. Add a small amount of agave. Stir and taste and adjust ingredients to suit your tastes.

Sorry this is not a formal recipe. They really do come together so easily and are totally addictive! If you have any questions, please feel free to ask them in the comments. I'll answer them as best I can! Hope you and yours love them as much as we do!

Wednesday, October 03, 2012

The Perfect Vegan Burger!

For me, the perfect veggie burger holds its shape but isn't rubbery. It's full of flavor and packed with nutritious protein and not just filler. It's versatile and can be dressed however I prefer and doesn't have one overwhelming flavor that I'd get tired of. Ideally, it would hold up in a pan, in the oven, and even on the grill. while I don't recommend cooking these on a grill without first putting them on a pan, they really fit the bill on all fronts!

I was inspired by Melody of Melomeals's Three Ingredient Burger and used her Onion Soup Mix Replacer recipe to season my burgers, but there is certainly room to add herbs and spices to tailor them and create a whole list of various flavors. Instead of just using oats and beans, I used her guide of five cups of protein but decided to use quinoa (everything's better with quinoa, right?), rolled oats, tofu (because I seem to always have a partial block ready and waiting wrapped in a dish towel in the 'fridge), and beans (to help bind them). I added onions because they're my secret ingredient in a lot of things. Okay, now not so secret. I am smitten with these burgers dressed with Veganaise, Organic Ketchup, and chopped dill pickle on Sami's Bakery GF Sourdough Millet Bread (that I toast in a skillet with a light spray of olive oil).

I have made these from raw patty to pan on the grill or baked in the oven. I make them all at once and individually wrap them for future cooking (in a pan misted with oil). They freeze beautifully and are best, if frozen, when allowed to thaw first before cooking.

Out of the oven, they will appear a bit dry on the outside. If you're going to eat them right away, I place a large glass bowl over the ones I intend to serve as they cool as it helps get moisture back into them. If using for a later date, wrap cooled burgers individually and when cooked in a hot pan sprayed with oil, heat one side for a few minutes, add a T of water to the pan and cover for about thirty seconds to lock in some moisture, flip carefully, and allow to brown for a few minutes on the other side.

I have made these three times now, twice with chickpeas as my bean, once with cannellini beans. Both varieties came out perfectly, and I really couldn't tell the difference. I've really fallen in love with them and they are now my go-to burger. Every omni who has eaten them has also loved them, a testament to their yumminess and ability to deliver great texture for a veggie burger, something so many homemade recipes fail to deliver, I've found.

My Favorite Vegan Burger
makes 6-8 largish burgers

1 1/2 cups cooked quinoa (I use a blend of red and white)
1 1/2 cups extra firm tofu, excess water squeezed out
1 cup rolled oats
1 cup white beans (I used canned, rinsed)
1 sweet onion, chopped (large, small, it doesnt really matter)
1 batch Melody's Onion Soup Mix Recipe
2-3 cloves garlic, minced
olive oil (I use a Misto)

375 oven
Mist frying pan with oil and set to medium. Add onion and saute until soft and translucent. Add garlic and saute, bumping down the heat a touch, careful not to burn the garlic, until onions are browning and beginning to caramelize. Meanwhile, in a large bowl, combine tofu, beans and Soup Mix ingredients. Add onions and garlic when done and blend with immersion blender until it becomes smooth paste (you can do this in a food processor as well). Stir in cooked quinoa and oats and mix until everything is incorporated. Mixture should be sticky.
Line a baking sheet with parchment and spray lightly with oil. Shape handfulls of burger mixture (maybe 3/4 cup, approximately. I have small hands. I always end up with 7-8 burgers if you prefer to divide accordingly first. See why i'll never be a cookbook author? :) into balls and then into patties. Mixture should stick together well, work on binding cracks on edges with your hands. I've yet to have a problem with the mixture not coming together beautifully. Spray tops of patties lightly with oil and bake for fifteen minutes. Carefully flip* and bake for another 10-15 minutes. They will seem crisp on the outside. I always think they've dried out and will be terrible. Never have they been. Allow to cool completely, cover any you plan to use immediately so that they will steam in a bit of moisture as they cool and you prep your bread or buns and fixin's. Any you plan to use later or freeze, wrap individually and store. To heat refrigerated or thawed burgers, set heat on burner to medium and lightly spray a pan with oil. Cook patty for a couple minutes, add a T of water, cover for thirty seconds. Remove cover, flip, and brown other side for a couple minutes.

Dress as you please and enjoy! I most often have them on toasted bread with a big side of boiled kale or a salad. So satisfying!

*I use a large spatula and slide it under the pattie. I take a dough scraper (one could use another spatula, but I only own one right now) and flip it onto that one that is at an angle and ease it back onto the pan to avoid fully flipping it with one utensil. The patties at this point are very fragile, but if they do fall apart, are still sticky enough to mold back together. Just do so with caution as they are HOT. They won't be as pretty as your original shape, but they will stick back together.

Friday, September 28, 2012

Vegan Navy Bean and Kale Soup

In my last post I mentioned I've been enjoying leftover Spaghetti Squash in my soup for dinner. It's something I've never thought to do before but am so glad I did now as it's crunch and slight sweetness has been a perfect accompaniment to an otherwise smoky and hearty stew-like soup.

My local health food store has had in some gorgeous Lacinato Kale. Lacinato or Dinosaur Kale is my most favorite. (It is also known as Tuscan kaleTuscan cabbageItalian kaleDinosaur kalecavolo nero,black kaleflat back cabbagepalm tree kale, or black Tuscan palm). I think it has the perfect texture, once cooked, to win over anyone leary of adopting kale into their diet as a staple. It gets tender like spinach but still keeps it's form. I prefer boiling mine over all other methods so putting into a soup seemed like the perfect idea.

I had bought a can of organic navy beans remembering loving the ones my mom used to make. Hers were so rich and yummy I asked her about them to see what her secret was. Her reply? Lots of butter and a bunch of cheese. Yeah, that wasn't going to happen, but my navy been craving would not go away so I hunted the internet for a soup idea.

One recipe kept showing up all over the place. Here, and here, and here are just a few places I saw it turn up (tho none of them are vegan varieties). Inspired by what seemed to be a favorite blend I followed the recipe with a couple adjustments and have been enjoying the result. 

Navy Bean and Kale Soup (Guest Starring Spaghetti Squash!)
serves 4, approximately 

1 T olive oil (I use a mild variety, not extra virgin)
1 medium onion, chopped
3-4 cloves garlic, minced
2 large carrots, peeled and sliced
1 1/2 cups cauliflower, chopped into small florets
1 large bunch Lacinato kale, stems removed and torn into bite size pieces
2 cups veggie broth (I used Better Bouillion's Organic Vegetarian paste. two tsp for two cups of hot water), divided
1 can navy beans (any white beans would be equally good, I bet!), divided*
*remove 1/3 cup beans with some liquid. rinse remainder of beans and set aside
1 cup tomatoes (approx. I used about that much from a box of chopped, but wished I'd had whole to avoid so much tomato juice. I'm not typically a huge fan of tomato-based soups, but this was pretty great)
1 tsp dried parsley
1 tsp dried thyme/oregano blend
course sea salt to taste
black pepper to taste
2 c cup baked spaghetti squash
hemp seed for topping (optional)

Put beans with liquid and about 1/3 cup broth in blender or tall cup and blend to creamy with immersion blender. In stock pot, heat oil over medium heat. Add onions and a pinch or two of sea salt. Saute until just turning golden brown and add garlic. Do not let garlic burn. Saute for another minute or two then add carrots,  cauliflower, and kale. Once kale starts to wilt and other veggies are crisp tender, add broth. Cover and simmer on low/med heat for about 20 minutes or until veggies are cooked to desired softness. Stir in tomatoes, beans and blended beans, and heat thru. Place servings in bowls and top each with 1/2 cup squash. Dust with hemp seed and cracked black pepper to taste.

Great with a side salad and some vegan french bread (I love La Dolce Vegan's recipe) for sopping up the soup-y goodness! Enjoy!

Thursday, September 27, 2012

Baked Spaghetti Squash with Tomato Basil Walnut Pesto

Living in Florida, even North Florida, almost inevitably means that when the stores start putting up Halloween and Fall decorations, when department stores are schlepping tanks and shorts on sale racks and adorning their displays with sweaters and other things with bulk and sleeves, one is deep in the throws of Florida's schizophrenic weather. One morning you wake and it's sixty degrees. you bust out your favorite jeans and a light but long-sleeved top and contemplate opting for 'real shoes' over your usual sandals or flip flops. Then it's noon an you're sweating in the high eighties temperatures, longing for that sundress you smirked at before leaving home. Or you  are graced with a breeze one day that hints of fall and a house full of open windows and clean, crisp air around the corner. The next time you walk outside it's muggy and the rain clouds are looming, threatening to leave muddy prints all over your newly mopped tile floors. 

All this is to say while the various colorful squashes are starting to make their entrances into produce sections across the sunshine state, I'm still partial to picking up a spaghetti squash in September. Yeah, all that to say just that. Sorry. ;)

Spaghetti squash is easily my favorite hard squash. It's light but has body, it's fun and versitile, it doesn't have an overpowering flavor one would get bored with which is great because one yellow beauty easily lasts for many meals.

Shopping at my local health food store last week I was enchanted by one lone giant organic spaghetti squash. One look at it and I thought, 'Ooooooh, I have some pesto in the freezer I want to use!', and dinner was born.

The pesto was inspired by some olive oil cured tomatoes and a giant handful of fresh basil I had had on hand after a small dinner party. I just threw the tomatoes with some of their oil, the basil, some toasted walnuts, a dash of salt, three cloves of garlic, and a heap of nutritional yeast into a deep cup and zapped it with my immersion blender until it was pureed. When I'd made it, I had no use for it so I split it into two freezer bags, each with about five servings of 1 1/2 T each in the bag. Into the freezer they went. that was about a month ago. The  other day when I brought home the squash I just popped one of the bags into a bowl of warm water until dinner time.

Spaghetti squash, like most squashes, is intimidating to cut into. It's hard and unforgiving and, to me, feels like a sharp knife accident waiting to happen. This is why I opt to bake mine whole before cutting into it. I just pierce it about four or five times with a sharp paring knife, toss it on a baking sheet, and pop it in a 375 oven for an hour or until a knife pierces the skin and sinks in without much resistance. Once out of the oven, I let it sit for a few minutes and then cut in half, scoop out the seeds and discard, then use a fork to ply the spaghetti like strands from the skin and place in a container. You can nuke the squash if you're so inclined or if you're pressed for time. I find that baking it, however, yields the perfect consistency. Cooked squash strands that haven't lost their shape and still retain some bite and slight crunch, not mushy.

Wanting to green up my meal, I used my mandoline's shred attachment to shred one large zucchini and used half of that and tossed with about 3/4 cup of squash. I tossed these with 1 1/2 T of pesto and sprinkled liberally with hemp seed.

This has been my go-to lunch for a few days now. I will sometimes heat up an Original Sunshine Burger and smear that with a tiny bit of horseradish just to amp up the protein of my meal. By dinner I'm still not tired of the squash so it makes a second appearance. Stay tuned for that! 

Monday, July 30, 2012

Moroccan Inspired Quinoa Salad

It's hot. Muggy, rainy, sweltering hot. I knew when I was grocery shopping yesterday that I'd want to make a quinoa salad. They can be packed with nutritious things and enjoyed cold or room temp for days. I have had zero luck with mangoes being ripe of late so the beloved black bean mango quinoa salad was out. Besides, it was time to take off the training wheels where quinoa salad recipes go and come up with one of my own!

I had the pleasure of having friends over for dinner, one of which would be bringing a slow roasted cauliflower and white bean curry soup. Wanting something to compliment the curry my brain went straight to Moroccan. Why? I have no idea, but the results were fantastic!

I am terrible at measuring when creating something new so as to share a formal recipe, but here's basically what I did (I knew I should have snapped pics for each addition, had a feeling this would be worth sharing!):

Cook one cup of dry quinoa in vegetable broth. I always keep a mix of red and white quinoa in my pantry in the same container as I love the way it comes out visually and the red keeps its form a bit better than the white. I used Better Than Bullion Vegetable base in water for my broth.

While that cooked I took out a small bowl and zested one large lemon, and squeezed out all the juice into the bowl. I smashed and finely chopped two cloves of garlic and added that to the dressing. Next I added a heavy pinch or two of course sea salt, maybe a half of a tsp of ground cumin, about a scant half tsp of Hungarian paprika (that and smoked is all I ever have on hand), two dashes of cinnamon, and a tsp or so of agave nectar. Stirred that up and whisked in 1-2 T of olive oil (I am not a fan of extra virgin except for bread dipping so mine is the extra mild variety), and set that aside.

Once the quinoa is cooked, remove from heat and set in refrigerator while chopping other ingredients. How much of each? Well, that's entirely up to you. I tend to chop, add, toss and make sure it looks like there will be a bit of each ingredient in every bite. That said, I added:

fresh cilantro
fresh parsley
fresh mint
(I'd say, finely chopped, there was a total of 1/8-14 c. of herbs added)
red onion, chopped fine
pitted and chopped kalamata olives
organic raisins
organic grape tomatoes, quartered
chickpeas, rinsed, drained and outer skin removed (for me, eating leftover salad, I enjoy the chickpeas best if their texture is not full of that skin)
chopped almonds (raw and unsalted)

I added the dressing, tossed, and let it sit out, covered until we were ready to dine accompanied by bread, more olives, roasted garlic hummus, dried tomatoes cured in olive oil, and that amazing cauliflower and white bean soup. Best meal ever after grocery shopping and running errands in torrential downpours mixed with moments of pure muggy.

The texture of the salad was full of slight crunch and soft bites and the flavors hit all the things I love about Moroccan flavored dishes. It paired perfectly with the curry in the soup and is even better the next day (oh yeah, best lunch right now while I type!). I suggest eating it at room temerature when the flavors can really shine.

Sunday, July 15, 2012

Vegan Coconut Rice Crepes

My entry (that almost wasn't!) for Vegan Chopped, Desserts!

Coconut Rice Crepes filled with Macadamia Creme topped with Mango Banana Pudding accompanied by Candied Beet Chips and Beet Syrup Candy (whew!)

When I knew Isa would be holding another Vegan Chopped I knew it would be fun to do again, especially without a time constraint. This was exceedingly important as a couple of my original ideas failed and I had to keep tinkering to get something that would still turn out worthy of capturing in a picture (or at least interesting in a picture. Does that beet syrup candy up there remind anyone else of the Sentinels in the Matrix movies?) AND still be really yummy to eat.

Mystery Ingredients: Crisped Rice Cereal, Fresh Bunch Beets, Fresh Mango, and Dried Unsweetened Coconut.

Here's my very 'wake up in the morning, totally not stressed that I haven't even bought the ingredients yet, or that I should be cleaning and packing for a trip, or that I've never attempted more than half of the ideas I thought would be just perfect for this challenge' layout.
I would soon trek to the health food store and grab the very last bunch of beets, get to the grocery store and find that none of the bananas or the mangoes were near ripe enough to use today and get ideal results. yay! Unphased (at this point, anyway) I first worked on the crepes as the recipe I was using as a guide for GF coconut flour crepes (that is nowhere in my history now, sorry!) stressed chilling the batter for a couple hours. First I ground the already fine dry unsweetened coconut and the rice cereal each into as fine a powder as I could in the bullet.

It took maybe a cup of rice cereal to get a 1/2 cup of 'flour' and maybe 3/4 cup of coconut flakes to get a 1/2 of coconut 'flour'. I mixed those with a pinch of salt, 3/4c. of lite coconut milk and 1 cup of water, 1 T of Florida Crystals, 1/2 tsp of cardamom, 1/4 c. melted organic Smart Balance Spread. I covered it and put it in the fridge for a couple hours.

Meanwhile, I worked on the beets as they would also take a long time. I found a recipe on Martha Stewart's site for Candied Beet Chips that sounded too good not to try. Beets were trimmed and peeled and sliced with my (extremely crappy) mandoline. They were simmered in a mix of 1 c. water to 1/2 cup sugar for 30 minutes then transferred with slotted spoon to parchment lined baking sheet and baked in a 250 oven for an hour.

Did I mention that my mandoline, it is the sucketh? yeah. Those three beautiful, perfect, disintegrate in your mouth in a sugary burst of earthy beet goodness were the ONLY three that came out like that. Granted, the other, thicker slices that came out more like jelly candies were pretty amazing (I have the stomachache and beetsintheteeth from eating most of them to proove it), but they wouldn't work for this creation. So I stared at the beautiful beet colored sugar water and decided to make a syrup. Except that I got distracted by a four year old and a yellow lab who felt the need to wrestle at that time in the kitchen and my syrup turned super thick super fast. In a moment of hopeful genius I grabbed a spoon, relined the baking sheet with new parchment, drizzled the sticky red sweet stuff all over the place and set it on the counter in front of a fan....then stuck it in the freezer as it's hot as all get out in here today!

I've been making Katie of Chocolate Covered Katie's agar starter to make a pudding every morning for weeks now. I alternate between making it with lite coconut milk one time then almond milk the next. I use 2 tsp of agar powder (the recipe uses flakes that I have never been able to get my hands on) to the 2 3/4 c. almond milk it calls for. I had made the almond version last night and it had been cooling in a large mason jar, covered in my refrigerator every since. I took it out and added one large (totally not ripe enough) banana one beautiful (but totally two days away from worth anything) mango to it and grabbed my stick blender. I blend the bejeezus out of that stuff until it looks like a pretty thick pudding. Tasted it. Then proceeded to add a tablespoon (or two) of powdered sugar. It still had that 'not all that ripe' fruit taste but it was sweet enough and the texture was perfect and I totally won't mind eating it with my protein smoothie mix added in every morning for the next few days,

On to the Macadamia Creme! When I heard the secret ingredients and knew i would be making crepes, I thought I'd make the pudding thicker like a custard and then want to top it with some sort of vegan whipped creme. I didn't want to use more coconut milk and cashews weren't right by themselves but macadamia nuts, THAT sounded perfect! Good luck finding unsalted macadamia nuts! No bother tho, I just rinsed them really well and they were barely salty. I took 1/2 cup of macadamia nuts and 1/2 cup of cashews and soaked them for about an hour. I drained and whirred in the magic bullet then added 3/4 c. almond milk (I could have added a bit less), 1/2 tsp vanilla, and a T of Florida Crystals. I grabbed my immersion blender and blended that stuff for five solid minutes. I then covered it and stuck it in the freezer in the hopes that would also help it firm up a bit as I planned to use it in the next 45 minutes or so. It did...kinda.

The crepes......sigh. I was all ready to make them and when I dropped them in a hot pan with a light coat of coconut oil? They bubbled. And bubbled. And bubbled.....and never became anything.
My kitchen was a mess, I had packing to do, I was tired, and I kinda just thought, eh! whatevs!
I had really hoped these crepes would be gluten free, and I almost made some flax eggs to see if that would fix it, but for whatever reason, I grabbed some flour, mixed 2 cups of my original batter with one cup of unbleached organic flour, 1 heaping tsp of baking powder, and some unsweetened coconut and some crushed macadamia nuts that I'd toasted for garnish and threw them in (yeah, I have no idea why either). It worked!

Granted, I tried cooking one and it just wouldn't cook thru, even tho they were so thin. So cooking the crepes went something like this: pour batter in pan. walk away, do a couple dishes, get distracted cleaning up after the four year old, and when I smelled 'something coconut cooking' I flipped. Repeat.

The plating I'm terrible at but I just knew all these things would taste great together no matter what they looked like. That turned out to be a good thing, because I live in Florida, and not just any part of Florida. The part of Florida best known as 'The Swamp'. Right now it's SERIOUSLY swampy out there (i'm not kidding, i currently have bath towels stuffed under the cracks of our porch's screen doors so that the hundred mosquitos bumping against them vying for a spot on my sweet orange tabby's coat get NOTHING). Yeah. So this means that the pretty beet syrup candy that was all stringy and sparkly and gorgeous started to melt and sweat and look less like garnet gossamer threads and were starting to resemble arteries or Matrix Sentinels. The light and fluffy macadamia creme was quickly becoming macadamia milk, and the thick mango banana pudding that was almost a custard was just another pudding.
(yeah, I'm not even editing that hot mess!)

But I ate that shiitake up in lieu of dinner and know what? I totally was kicking myself that I didn't make two plates worth! Though I supposed they'd be adorned with Beet Gummies instead of Candied Beet Chips.

Oh, and here's my much less zen layout of how it all went down.
Hope everyone else had as much fun (and as much yum!) as I did!

And a shout out to Isa, thanks for inspiring me for doing more than deciding which cookbook to pirate my meal from AND making it okay for me to have dessert for dinner!

Saturday, June 23, 2012

Vegan Chopped!

If anything could get me back on the blogging wagon, a good vegan cooking contest could! This post is inspired by Isa Chandra Moskowitz’s Vegan Chopped contest, judged by some of my favorite vegan bloggers. I've been gone for quite a while, but have been cooking up vegan fare the whole time and been looking forward to getting back into blogging. Now that my daughter is about to embark upon preschool, this contest has inspired me to use my new-found time more wisely and get this place back up and running. Lots of changes in the works, so I hope you'll be back to see what I transform DGMGV to in the near future!

I should apologize for the quality of the pictures. Seems it's been so long since I dusted off the Nikon we are no longer getting along. Plus, with the stopwatch ticking (oh yeah, I totally timed myself ;) it was easier to just snap pics at the end with my phone.

So, without further ado, here is my entry for the Vegan Chopped Contest,

Seitan Mignon & Black-Eyed CaulPeaFlower Mash under Chocolate Pinot Gravy
with Broiled Peach & Blackberry 'Chutney'

Prep time: 38 minutes, 24 seconds. whew!

What you'll need:

For the Seitan Mignons I use this recipe, a family favorite, but made some adjustments*
I made mine the morning before and just took it out of the 'fridge this morning, let sit in the cooking liquid to room temp.

For the Sauce:

A good Pinot Noir, I used Castle Rock's as it's vegan, inexpensive, and tasty and, according to my Wine/Pairing Guru Friend Dan, should work perfectly for this recipe

1 cup cooking liquid from Seitan Mignons
leeks (i sliced thin the white part of a large leek, enough to blanket the medium saucepan)
2 cloves garlic, sliced thin
2 oz. bittersweet chocolate, broken up (I used a 70% cacao variety)**
Smart Balance (I love the Organic SB in a tub)

For the CaulPeaFlower Mash:
1/2 large head fresh cauliflower, choped into florets, rinsed well and drained

1 cup canned black-eyed peas, rinsed and drained
onion powder
nutritional yeast
Smart Balance
sea salt
1 large bunch fresh spinach, chopped
2 cloves garlic, slivered (i love some paper thin garlic in my greens!)

For the 'Chutney' (okay, okay, it's more a salad):

2 peaches, sliced in half, pit removed
1 cup fresh blackberries
1 cup grapes, sliced in half
1/4 cup loosely packed mint leaves

2 T. Florida Crystals
couple generous pinches ground ginger (or fresh grated if you have some!)


Open bottle of Pinot, empty into decanter to breathe. Or just skip the whole 'use cooking with wine as an excuse to drink copius amounts of vino' and let it breathe in the bottle until needed for recipe ;) I will strongly urge you, however, to turn up some of your favorite music. This dish is fun and full of flavor, why shouldn't your ears benefit as well as the rest of your senses? I am currently rocking

Preheat oven to 425. (I am very annoyed with TS Debbie and all her rain today for ruining my grilling plans. Seitan and peaches were meant to be warmed and cooked on grill, respectively. Pan-warmed seitan and Broiled peaches it is!)

Place mint, sugar, and ginger in blender or processor (I used the Magic Bullet) and pulse until ground and well incorporated.

Cut peaches in half and remove pits. place in baking dish, cut side up. Dot with Smart Balance. Sprinkle with a third of sugar/mint/ginger mixture (I LOVE ginger so I sprinkled an extra pinch on each half at this point). Bake for about 25 minutes or until tender and bubbling.

Mix remaining sugar mix with blackberries and grapes. I didn't use all of it, just added until they looked coated. Have about a scant T. left and will use for some tea ;) Set aside.

Heat saucepan on medium heat. Spray with olive oil. Add leeks and garlic and saute until they start to brown a bit and are caramel in color. Add a glug or two (or three....or four) of wine to deglaze and stir. Stir in seitan simmering stock (or veggie beef-like stock if you have no simmering liquid). Once gently bubbling add rosemary and chocolate. Stir occasionally, allow sauce to simmer until

thickened so that it coats spoon. Add 1-2 tablespoons Smart Balance, stirring to melt and incorporate. Reserve sauce on low.

Remove peaches from oven, chop one, toss gently with fruit/sugar blend, set aside. Use remaining peach halves for plating under 'chutney' (i can't help myself. My husband is half Indian. I so wanted this to be a chutney!).
Heat non stick skillet on medium heat and spray with olive oil (I love my Misto!). Chop spinach and add to skillet turning to coat a bit, add garlic and a pinch or two of coarse sea salt. Once it starts to wilt, add a scant tablespoon of water, cover, reduce to low heat. Spinach is done when fully limp but still vibrant green. Don't
overcook! Instead, move to a bowl and throw mignon in that pan and cover, allowing it to heat thru on med lo while you prepare CaulPeaFlower Mash.
Meanwhile, rinse well and chop cauliflower into florets and place in microwaveable bowl. Add pinch of coarse sea salt. Cover and nuke for three minutes. Remove from microwave and mash with (to taste), onion powder, nutritional yeast. Add black eyed peas and blend together. I used my

immersion blender here, but a blender or food processor would also work. You could also just try mashing with a masher by hand and allow for the cauliflower to be studded with the peas rather than fully incorporated.
Stir drained sauteed spinach into CaulPeaFlower Mash.

Plate the CaulPeaFlower Mash and top with seitan mignon. Drizzle (or pour! Mmmmm!) on Gravy, top with a pinch of rosemary (fresh if you have it. I didn't.) and a pinch of coarse sea salt.

Plate a broiled peach half and top with Chutney/Salad/Fruit&Sugar Mix.

Notes on this entree:

When I heard Isa was doing this challenge, I knew exactly what I would do. Not very out of the box or crazy original, but it just sounded like something I wanted to eat, but maybe would never have pieced together these four ingredients otherwise. I did a quick search for chocolate sauce for beef and consulted my wine/pairing guru friend for advice on the wine and if the flavors had a chance together and one for 'peach blackberry mint chutney'. The sauce I didn't really modify from what I found here other than using Smart Balance (2T instead of 4 of butter) but did choose a Pinot Noir that my friendly guru suggested rather than the Burgundy blend it called for. ** The chocolate I used was 2 oz of a Perugina 70% cacao bittersweet chocolate bar. The ingredients are all vegan, but

there is a note reading: made on equipment that also processes tree nuts and milk. The 'chutney' didn't really feel like a chutney, but I couldn't see chopping or blending such beautiful plump blackberries so I added ginger (because what's a chuntey without some spice or other?!) because ginger, mint, peach, and blackberry just sounded like a perfect combo in my head. I also modified amounts a bit as I was only cooking for myself (and maybe some leftovers ;).

*I'll be honest. Seitan is not my favorite vegan protein source; it has this 'gluteny' flavor that I spend a lot of time finding ways to mask. And by 'finding ways' I mean 'searching for great recipes that'. I do think it's fun to work with and very versatile. One of my most favorite preparations is Tracy's Seitan Mignon that I linked to above. That woman knows her way around some wheat gluten! I have tinkered with the original recipe as I cannot get NutriMax here and have had to adjust things to avoid it being overly salty. Since I was working with black-eyed peas already for the challenge and had no silken tofu (that is usually used when using this recipe), I subbed the tofu for six ounces

black-eyed peas, rinsed and drained, and a scant T. of chickpea flour. In doing so I found that the seitan dough came together as easily as the original preparation and was firm before the entire 1/2 cup of gluten that is typically used at the end was used up. I barely used a 1/4 c. there at the end, but it was sticky-ish so I coated the outside well before putting in the simmering liquid.

Here are the changes I made to the seitan recipe:
Instead of 1 1/2 T. Braggs Aminos, I used 1 T. Gravy Master + 1/2 T. Shoyu
Instead of 6 oz. silken tofu, I used 6 oz. rinsed, drained black-eyed peas + 1 T. chickpea flour
In simmering liquid:

Instead of 3 T. beef-style bouillon, I used 1 T. Better Than Beef Style Bouillon.
I always add the optional garlic powder, but double it. Same for the garlic powder.

Also, I have no biscuit cutters and often use a juice glass to cut the dough into five (approx 3 inch across) mignons with some scraps. I felt like these should be bigger and used a very large mouthed container (about five inches across) yielding three larger mignons, one of the 3 inch and a scrap that was shaped like a steak (oh, irony! ;).

After cooking, I think that the texture of these larger, flatter cuts is a little less visually appealing and will use the smaller size forever in the future as it was perfect the way it was, smaller and thicker.

Black-Eyed CaulPeaFlower Mash:
I have been making mashed cauliflower for ages. Sometimes I'll add a potato to one head of cauliflower to give it more structure (shout out to Caulipots!), but when eating alone I will typically skip that step. This often means that if I don't drain the cooked cauliflwer enough it's a bit watery, but I just add more nutritional yeas
t and it's all good. Since Black Eyed Peas were one of the contest ingredients, it made perfect sense to me to mash some in there for that texture and starchiness. The canned ones I used were a bit salty so it was perfect, not having to add extra salt. I love stirring cooked greens into mashed potatoes, so why not CaulPeaFlower Mash?

The verdict:

I really loved this! It was almost exactly how I thought it would be. The seitan was tender and flavorful, the gravy was rich and went really well with the mignon and the mash. If I made a gravy like this again, I'd use a bit less chocolate and a bit more wine, honestly. The mash had awesome stick-to-your-fork structure and the greens did what they always do when I stir them into a mash, give a tender salty, garlicky som'n som'n to bite into. I love black-eyed peas and their flavor was definitely present, complimenting the natural sweetness of the cauliflower nicely, I think.

The fruit on the side really balanced well as it was light and fresh and minty and tasted sweet without being syrupy. It went really well with the earthy seitan/mash/gravy combo and I felt really satiated after eating every last bit of what was on my plate. Edited to add: I just spooned the fruit mixture into a container to save and now that it's sit for a while I think it'd be great if I used the stick blender just for a pulse or two to get some of it even more incorporated. Then I could even hold my head up high while calling it a Chutney ;).

The one surprise was that the chocolaty gravy was AMAZING on the 'chutney'. So much so that when my lunch was polished off I grabbed another generous spoonful of the fruit and ladled on a bit of the gravy and enjoyed it just like that.
So. Good.

and yes....I did have wine with my lunch. It's Sunday. The kid is 'rearranging the pantry' for me (oh boy), TS Debby is ruining my light, my grilling plans, and any chance we had of releasing our painted lady butterflies today, and some of my favorite tunes are dancing around us in the kitchen. I have a great bottle of vegan wine now open from this dish, seems a total waste not to enjoy some of it ;) It's a good thing, too.....I just was reminded why I plan to leave Blogger for
Wordpress. No matter how many times I change it, Blogger won't change my font. It also won't let me post today at 4:30, just says 'scheduled'. Yeah, It's now 4:37 pm. So, ugly font? sure! Pretend I posted this yesterday? Fine! I'm gonna kick back with my girl, my glass of vino, and play a game of I Can Do That while the rain falls and I totally don't check the clock for the next 27 minutes, anxiously awaiting being able to enter. ;)

Happy Sunday everyone. Feels good to be back!