Anniversary Week Recap + Asian Mango Chicken Slaw with Lime Vinaigrette

Asian Mango Chicken Slaw

I’m baaa-aaack! From an awesome vacation that is. Philip and I turned our second anniversary into an anniversary week celebration. I’ve never been one to celebrate my birthday week, but I am definitely loving this tradition we’re forming of celebrating our anniversary for a week. I’m going to run with this tradition as long as I can!

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While our actual anniversary day was pretty low-key (although still made very special: We admired the sunset over Lake Mendota in Madison on a blanket while listening to our wedding ceremony — another tradition that always makes us smile), the rest of the week just kept getting better and better.

On Wednesday of our anniversary week, we toured one of the oldest and finest wineries in Wisconsin — Wollersheim Winery. It’s located on a beautiful hillside outside Prairie du Sac, Wisconsin, dating back to 1840.

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The tour satisfied our interest in all things history and we even saw a glimpse of the owner and winemaker, Philippe Coquard, who does a fantastic job keeping up a well maintained winery…and not to mention, developing excellent wine! My new realization of the art and science behind wine-making made me appreciate our wine that much more. :)

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After the tour, we took advantage of the beautiful day and sipped on wine overlooking the winery. Talk about relaxing!

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The following day, we sought out more relaxation time (and beautiful weather) to finish out our anniversary week by flying to Coronado, the island off of San Diego and home to the Hotel Del Coronado (a beautiful Victorian resort built in 1887 — one of the oldest wooden structures in the U.S.) and the Naval Base Coronado. Talk about beautiful! Sunny and mid-70’s temperature the whole time we were there. I could’ve gotten used to that. *sigh*

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Coronado is a city full of activity with runners, bikers, and surfers around you all day long. We were fortunate enough to stay right next to the ocean with a gorgeous view of the San Diego Bay from our windows…again, I could have gotten used to that. :)

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Fun shops and delicious restaurants with fresh caught seafood were within walking distance…it made enjoying good food way too easy. :)

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Our days were pretty consistent: Pool-side lounging in the morning and beach front relaxation with magazines and books in hand in the afternoon. While most of our time was spent lounging, we did do some active kayaking in the bay, and surprisingly my favorite thing of the trip  — riding the ocean waves on boogie boards. I seriously couldn’t get enough!
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Alas, we had to leave the boogie boards and the sand in California and head back to Wisconsin…where we were greeted with rain. Go figure. All in all, we couldn’t have asked for a better vacation or anniversary week!

Somehow between the short time we left Wisconsin and came back, fall decided to try to slip in. The mornings are chillier and there’s the sense that fall is right around the corner in the air. But I’m holding onto fresh, summer food as long as I can…especially California-style! California was a whole ‘nother world for this Midwestern girl! Hip and cool goes for the clothing style as well as the food.

To take me back to the brightness and freshness of California, I whipped up chopped up this Asian Mango Chicken Slaw with Lime Vinaigrette. I had to share this fresh masterpiece before fall officially arrives and our minds turn to all things apples, stews, and pumpkin.

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Things I’ve Learned in 2 Years of Marriage

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Two years to the day I was walking down the aisle, meeting my husband at the alter, cutting our cake hand in hand, and dancing our first dance. In other words, two years ago today I was a bride marrying my groom, the man of my dreams, and embarking on a whole new, unknown journey.

I can’t believe two years have already gone by. It feels like just yesterday we were that young, newly married couple (in my eyes, we still are, sort of). This journey called marriage still seems very much unknown even after two years (I think I’ll be saying that 10 years from now, too), but we’ve covered a lot of ground in our couple short years of marriage, discovered and learned new things about each other along the way, and are excited to see what journey awaits us in our upcoming years ahead.

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Last year I wrote about our story on how we met (I just reread it and it made me smile all over again to relive the exciting memories that you have when you first meet your future spouse. Definitely a high in my life!) and the things I’ve learned during our first year of marriage (also just reread that post and, yep, everything still applies today :)).

Things that I’ve learned from Year 1 and Year 2 tend to start to blur together…I mean, did I learn about Philip’s love for country music in our first year or second? But there are some things I know we’ve gotten better with in our second year of marriage. While I’m certainly no expert or feel like I’ve learned it all within 2 short years (does that ever really happen?), I thought I’d add a little bit more to my lessons learned from Year 1.
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Greek Pizza with Mint & Feta

Greek Pizza with Mint & Feta

Hello, again! The work week sure does come around with consistent regularity, doesn’t it? But it sure helps knowing a week from now I will be on VACATION! Ahem, sorry. A full eleven days away from work…woah. I don’t know if I can handle it…wait, yes I can.

Enough daydreaming, there’s still lots to do between now and then. While I’m looking forward to some R&R (obviously), this past weekend was a good glimpse into what I’m envisioning my vacation to be like. In just two days (just think what I could do with eleven!) I enjoyed dinner with friends, a fire and s’mores while admiring the starry night with my main squeeze, a classic date night consisting of dinner (sushi) and a movie (Inside Out), and a chance to do some baking (a future post on that to come!). And if I could, I would probably re-watch Inside Out a couple more times during my vacation. Seriously, how does Pixar know so well how to pull at your heart strings? What I love more than laughing and tearing up during a movie is seeing my husband next to me doing the same thing. We both loved it!

You know what we also both love? Well, besides each other, this Greek Pizza with Mint & Feta! So good, my friends! Yes, I know it seems a little out there, but trust me, this flavor combination is incredible. Plus, it gives you a chance to break away from your typical pizza night with your typical toppings like pepperoni and sausage. Change is good, remember?! :)

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Mango-Curry Chicken Salad

Mango-Curry Chicken Salad

Hi, friends! Umm, can anybody tell me how it became the last week of July?! Where has this summer gone? With family visiting and trips being made, our weeks have flown by! It was nice to slow things down a little bit this weekend and not have anywhere we needed to be besides home. Whew! It had been a hot minute since we had time to sit out on our deck, put our feet up, and watch the sun set in the horizon. Life really is good.

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While today I feel caught up for the week (thanks to our catch-up weekend), last Monday was a completely different story. Trips always throw you off your schedule, don’t they? It was well worth it, but come Monday after being gone all weekend, I knew I had an empty fridge that needed to be filled and a meal to throw together after said fridge was filled up. By the time I came home from work and getting groceries, I was huuuung-ry. Going out to eat is usually not a default option for us, especially not when we’d been eating out at various places all weekend long.

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To wrap that all up: I needed something light & healthy (after a crazy weekend with lots of food) and fast & simple (because I needed to eat 5 minutes ago). My solution? This flavorful, slightly-sweet Mango-Curry Chicken Salad.

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Freekeh & Grape Salad with Mint & Feta + Colorado Adventures Recap

Freekeh & Grape Salad with Mint & Feta

Welcome to another work week, friends! Whew, what a fun weekend I had, though! Have you ever looked forward to and waited seemingly forever for an event to arrive and then before you know it, it’s over and you wish you could go back and experience it all over again?

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That was my weekend and I’m slightly disappointed that all the anticipation and excitement of the weekend is over. Thankfully, Philip and I have a few more exciting and fun trips planned for the summer and fall…don’t you just love it when one adventure ends, you automatically have another one to look forward to?

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So what was I so excited for this weekend? One of my closest friends from college got married this weekend in Colorado (the one I had a bachelorette party for a few weekends ago)! For one, it was a nice mini-vacation from work, but mostly, it was just a joy to be able to celebrate such a special and fun day with her.

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The wedding was absolutely beautiful, the bride was radiant, and the location couldn’t have been better. I mean, Colorado…in the mountains. Yes, please.

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While Thursday and Friday were busy days preparing for the wedding and dancing the night away, the fun just kept going into Saturday (see why I was so excited for this trip?!). Some of Philip’s family lives in Denver, so we spent the day hiking and enjoying the beauty that Colorado has to offer, with the great company — as well as the help and expertise — of Philip’s brother and his soon-to-be-wife. :)

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If a sign of a fun, jam-packed weekend is complete exhaustion, then this trip was definitely a good one. Despite all the fun, it was nice to finally make it home yesterday (although, with the instant realization that humidity is in full force right now in Madison, I miss Colorado’s no humidity weather).

While the trip was a great one, my body was in dire need of returning to some sort of normalcy in the area of food (and sleep, but mostly food). A perfect “recovery-from-vacation” meal in the summer is this Freekeh & Grape Salad with Mint & Feta with grilled chicken. This meal is fresh, light, full of whole grains, and is something that will get you me right on track again after having one too many Scotcheroos this weekend.

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Spinach Salad with Steak & Blueberries + Family Weekend Recap

Spinach Salad with Steak and Blueberries

Hello again, everyone! Last week we had a busy (and very fun!) time with the whole family in town visiting us. My brother and his family arrived the day before the 4th of July, my parents drove into town the day after the 4th, and the fun continued well into the week. I couldn’t have asked for a better mini-vacation with family! I mean, how can you resist these faces?!

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I don’t know how we fit in so much fun, but somehow we managed. :)

We splashed in the water at the local splash pad…

Danced to music (one of my niece’s many talents)…

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Celebrated my nephew’s first birthday (!)…

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Visited places of work…

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Worked in the kitchen with my little chef-in-training (we made these energy bites)…

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Had fun outside…

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Had more fun outside…

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And enjoyed a night out on the town kid-free. :)

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Gosh, Madison is beautiful.

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Whew! And that’s just a glimpse.

Everybody headed their separate ways on Thursday morning and we’re now a kid-free house again. Only the sidewalk chalk shows any sign of children being here.

After an eventful week, Philip and I were ready to take it easy this past weekend. And I was ready for a quick and easy meal. This Spinach Salad with Steak and Blueberries was just perfect!

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Gluten-Free: Fact or Fiction

Gluten-Free Fact or Fiction

Hello, again! I hope you had a fun-filled weekend and are ready for the (hopefully) short week ahead. I can’t believe it’s almost the 4th of July! Summer is flying by too quickly, in my opinion. I have things lined up every weekend from now ’til September and it seems like the weeks just keep picking up pace, too.

This weekend I made a trip up to the Minneapolis area for a bachelorette party for one of my closest friends from college. Her wedding is in just a few short weeks and if this weekend was any indication of how the wedding will be, I know we’re in for a good time.

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I arrived home yesterday completely exhausted from the weekend, so today, instead of a recipe, I’m adding another segment to my “Dietitian Ramblings” collection. This week’s topic: gluten. It’s a topic I hear about often what with the gluten-free craze/fad running rampant now. Here are my professional thoughts on the topic:

Is gluten or wheat “bad” for me? Can I lose weight if stop eating gluten? Will I be healthier if I go gluten-free? These questions and more are common concerns I hear frequently thanks to the barrage of — often misleading —information coming at us every day from the media.

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Cowboy Burgers

Cowboy Burgers

Maid-rites…Sloppy Joes…Taverns…it’s one classic Midwest favorite that has many names. I feel like the name you’re most familiar with depends on where you grew up (Taverns were something I hadn’t even heard of until about high school or college) and the consistency of the sandwich. While it’s essentially a simple base of ground hamburger with a ketchup sauce mixed in, for a sandwich with many names, there are even more recipes for it out there. How is one to decide?!

To make it easy for you, I’m declaring this version of the beloved Midwest sandwich the one you need from here on out. :) Don’t you love it when somebody makes a hard decision for you? I guarantee you won’t regret it and you’ll no longer be searching for that perfect go-to recipe that needs to be on the table in 30 minutes. (psst! it’s this one!)

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Now, I grew up having maid-rites all the time. My mom’s were simple, no fuss sandwiches with just 2 ingredients — ground beef and ketchup. My friend, Karen’s, mom made maid-rites, too, but were completely different and I absolutely loved those as well…as in, I’d probably have at least 2 sandwiches when I went to visit (which was often). Not to mention, we had baked French fries at Karen’s house to go with the maid-rites, something my mom never made. So, I devoured those, too. I think it’s safe to say I had a big appetite.

But Philip, on the other hand, didn’t have as fond of memories of maid-rites as I did growing up. When I put maid-rites on our menu board, he wasn’t all that thrilled. As always, he gave it a loving try and he instantly knew these were much different than what he remembered as maid-rites (in a good way). With the negative connotation still in his head, I declared them Cowboy Burgers — my version of a maid-rite with a revamped name. Problem solved. The sandwich has so many names anyway, why not add one more to the list?

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Caramelized Onion & Plum with Prosciutto & Arugula Flatbread

Caramelized Onion & Plum with Prosciutto & Arugula Flatbread

Do you ever have those weekends where you go, go, go and you finally come to a point where you have to take a nap or collapse before you try to do anything else without hurting yourself, getting overly irritated, or crying over spilt milk?

Yep, that was me this weekend. I knew it was going to be one of those weekends when on Friday night I stated how I couldn’t wait to “sleep in” next weekend…hello, what happened to this weekend?! Well, work on Saturday plus a very early triathlon on Sunday morning happened this weekend. Mixed in there were house and garden “chores”, a picnic with friends, and another get together with more friends. Yes, the busy summer schedule is upon us.

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Which means summer food is also upon us. And my Caramelized Onion & Plum with Prosciutto & Arugula Flatbread is a great and fresh meal to get us started with warm days and cool evenings that go far past my bedtime.

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Latin Chipotle Quinoa Salad

Latin Chipotle Quinoa Salad

Welcome, friends! After a couple of busy weekends (doing this and this), it was nice to have a calm(er) weekend this past weekend. It was a good weekend to get caught up, I guess, because I spent my day off spending two hours at Target (yeah…you can only imagine what the bill was when I left Target, considering I can spend 15 minutes in Target and still spend too much. All that time spent and the most exciting thing I got was a new hair dryer…). And while I worked on the weekend, Philip spent another 1 1/2 hours at Farm & Fleet…yes, we are officially homeowners. :) In addition to those errands, we had grocery runs (yep, that’s plural) and a little bit of time to just kick up our feet and relax.

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What wasn’t calmer was our weather…remember how I said last week that I had fallen in love with Madison in the spring and fall? Well, except for when the weather mixes up those two seasons and the spring feels more like fall. Even though I had to break out my hat this weekend to go on a morning run, I still have faith that the weather is going to turn itself around soon. And what better way to encourage it than by turning up the heat in the kitchen with Latin Chipotle Quinoa Salad.

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