Homemade Rustic Apple Crisp

Homemade Rustic Apple Crisp

Who else loved the gorgeous weekend we just had?! And maybe got a little rosy in the face (and shoulders, and legs, and…) like me? No? Must be my fair skin qualities coming out.

If you’re livin’ in the Midwest, then it was the perfect time to get outside and enjoy some fall activities because it was EIGHTY degrees out! I love fall, but it’s just so unpredictable, isn’t it? I’m glad the weather decided to pretend it was the middle of August, because it was apple orchard time for us this weekend!

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I had Heather, a best friend from high school, come up to visit me for the weekend, which was so much fun! It’s always nice to see an “old” familiar face. Since she loves to bake and cook as much as I do, I knew that making my favorite Homemade Rustic Apple Crisp together would be a delicious way to use up some of our many (er, 20+ pounds) hand picked apples.

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Asian Quinoa Salad + Salads-in-a-Jar

Asian Quinoa Salad

Happy Fall, y’all! Even though the weather has been hinting at fall for a couple weeks now, it is now officially the first day of fall today. This past weekend I finally started seeing a lot more trees changing colors—an absolutely beautiful site in Madison. The changing of colors always bring back memories of my very first trip up to Madison two years ago, which was a perfect fall weekend. All the fall colors and the rolling hills were breathtaking to a girl who grew up in the flat plains of Iowa. I almost didn’t want to leave on that very first weekend…er, maybe that was partly because of something (or someone) else. ;)

Let’s just say, I’m so glad I’m back in Madison—both to see the changing colors and to be with that “somebody else.”

Now let’s cut to the chase because this is a recipe I’m this excited for! Seriously, you guys, I know today’s recipe is a salad (I’m sorry, I know you all love ‘em, but I can’t post desserts all the time) and it uses that “health food” known as quinoa, but this is so good! The flavors, the textures, the colors…gah, I just can’t get over it all.

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Homemade PayDay Bars

Homemade PayDay Bars

Hello again!

I’m going to pretend like we’re just getting through the weekend (and not already starting the second workday of the week) and ask how everybody’s weekend was.

I spent the weekend in Minneapolis, reunited with my two best friends from college and it was just what you’d expect when three close girlfriends get together—an awesome time…with lots of chatting. Since we all live 4+ hours away from each other now, we’re starting somewhat quarterly visits with each other. Our last visit this past spring was in NE Iowa, and this time we headed up North. We talked and laughed so hard I knew I was getting a good, solid ab workout in, we ate amazing food (sorry, no pictures, but just trust me on this one), and even had an afternoon photo shoot to help Sarah and Alex practice their talented and developing photography skills. I enjoyed being the one just standing and smiling…new pictures up on my Facebook page and on my About Kara page!

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Don’t I have such talented friends? Yeah, I thought so, too. :)

This weekend was much needed after the week I had last week. Busy, busy, busy! I barely had time to grocery shop—and for those of you who know me at all, that’s just plain ridiculous. ;)

Even though I felt like my days and evenings were blurring past me all too quickly last week, I wanted to make sure I made something for Philip to take to our church’s 5 year anniversary picnic celebration on Sunday. I knew it had to be fast and simple for me, yet still appealing for the picnic.

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That’s when I thought of Homemade PayDay Bars. Well, and the fact that I had an almost entire bag of leftover marshmallows from our one evening of having s’mores during our anniversary week helped sway my decision in the direction of PayDay Bars. Oh, and because one of Philip’s favorite candy bars is PayDay also helped my decision…but mostly it’s because I could make these bars in under a half hour.

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Buttermilk Whole Wheat Waffles

Buttermilk Whole Wheat Waffles

Who doesn’t like “Breakfast for Dinner”? For some reason, just the name of the title makes it sound like some special event and I get giddy simply writing it on our menu board for the week. Plus, having juice and maple syrup for dinner makes it seem like a treat.

Anyone?

Okay, maybe it’s just me.

I never grew up having “warm breakfasts” very often—except for my mom’s amazing homemade cinnamon rolls warmed up or some fresh-from-the-oven muffins (apparently, we tended to lean more towards the sweeter side of things for breakfast). To be honest, I don’t think I ever really wanted warm breakfasts; I was perfectly content having my cereal. But having a warm breakfast for dinner? Now that was a different story entirely. I never got too thrilled when my mom made scrambled eggs and toast for dinner, but when she pulled out her old waffle iron from the waaay back of a bottom cupboard (these dinners were far and few between), I knew it was going to be a good meal.

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I don’t remember what recipe my mom used or if it was out of the box, but I love pulling out my own waffle maker now (I insisted to Philip that we put that on our wedding registry) and using my own go-to waffle recipe. I seriously haven’t found one any better than my Buttermilk Whole Wheat Waffles that I adapted from The America’s Test Kitchen.

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Homemade Beefaroni

Homemade Beefaroni

Hello again! I hope you all had a great Labor Day and were able to spend time not…laboring? We’ll go with it. :)

Philip and I had a very low key weekend with no set plans, which was so nice! Things got done, relaxation happened, and I still wasn’t ready to go to work this morning. Sigh. Nevertheless, we had a great time spending quality time together and I even got a little bit of baking in, which seems to happen far less than I’d like it to these days.

But now that it’s back to the normal grind of work, it seems like life instantly picks itself right up again and awaaaaay we go! Life is such a ride, isn’t it?

What I mean is, although I plan out my meals on a weekly basis (I still have hopes to write about this in one of my upcoming posts), I always consider and plan in the fact that, more than likely, I have about 30 minutes to prep a meal after coming home from work before I feel the “hangry” side of me taking over. You know, becoming very unpleasant angry because of your hunger. Please tell me I’m not the only one who gets like this.

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Being the foodie that I am, if I could, I would gladly spend hours preparing an elaborate meal that includes several involved steps, one of which would be a half hour alone of chopping and dicing ingredients, and uses every bowl and utensil in the kitchen (as long as Philip is doing dishes). Not to mention, the table would be set with freshly made bread with homemade jam and a salad full of produce, picked just that morning from our garden.

That’s not real life. Sure, I plan out (and look forward to) “more involved” meals when I have the day off or it’s the weekend, but on week nights, meals that are fast yet still nutritious, fresh, and homemade is what’s on my menu plan. Recently, Homemade Beefaroni made it to our midweek menu that fit just that description.

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Protein-Packed Energy Bites

Protein-Packed Energy Bites

Raise your hand if you’re ready for this crazy weather to calm.down. Both hands flailing wildly in the air…ahem.

If you live around the Midwest, you know what I’m talking about. If you don’t, well, for the past 5+ days it’s been a full blown sauna outside…wet, heavy with humidity, and hot. Walking outside, I instantly feel my hair get 10x bigger and it feels like I’m breathing in a lake. Fortunately, I work in a super air-conditioned building and only have to experience this extreme weather for about 20 minutes each day…but still. #firstworldproblems

Before this extreme weather, I was lingering on to any bit of summer left that I could. I was dodging back-to-school talk as much as possible (which is pretty tough considering my work is talking nothing but back-to-school) and holding on to watermelon, grilling, and lazy summer days as much as possible.

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But now…now I’m ready for fall. I’m accepting the fact that school is here for most people already and everybody’s thoughts are already geared towards apple and pumpkin picking (okay, I admit, I’ve been thinking about this for awhile, too), and most of all, I’m accepting the fact hoping that cool weather will be here soon.

One recipe that always makes me think “back-to-school” are Protein-Packed Energy Bites. There are so many variations of this simple creation—all of which are probably delicious—but I’ve been making variations of this one for years.

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What I’ve Learned in a Year + Anniversary Week Celebration

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Wow, thanks for all the well wishes and congratulations last weekend for our one year wedding anniversary! It was a wonderful day and I was so excited to be able to share our special story with you guys! The response was beyond what I was expecting. I have to admit, I’ve been rereading the story I posted last week a couple several times this past week just because I love reliving the moments. It makes me smile every time!

How did we celebrate you ask? Like they say, “go big or go home,” right?! We made it into a whole anniversary week! We both had vacation time, so we chose to spend it just enjoying each other’s company and celebrating the year we’ve had together with a stay-cation (for the most part). It was perfect. Just imagine it as having a lazy Saturday at home for seven. days. straight. Glorious, I tell ya! We were productive, yet still had time to relax and go do fun “outings.” Here’s a recap of our anniversary (week):

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One Year Wedding Anniversary + Our Story

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I can’t believe it’s been a year since I said “I do” and married my best friend…I know, it sounds so cliché and everybody says that in all their Facebook anniversary posts, but I guess now I know why they say it—it’s true.

August 10, 2013, was one of the best and happiest days of my life and it was such a great climax to—in my opinion—a great story of how Philip and I met (but I may be slightly partial).

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If you’ve been reading my blog for a any length of time, you know I keep hinting at sharing our story with you at some point, and I thought today would be the perfect time to fill you all in on our special story…

It all started with, “I have a son I think you’d like…”

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Quick Homemade Cinnamon Rolls

Quick Homemade Cinnamon Rolls

Well, hello again. Is it just me, or are Mondays just tough to get back in the groove of things?

For some reason it’s always so hard for me to jump right back into the work as if no time elapsed from Friday. Somehow my mind completely forgets about whatever I was working on the previous five days during the week and come Monday, I have to rethink everything through on what was happening just two days prior.

It may just be the Type A in me coming out (and my love for lists), but in order to not waste a good half hour just rethinking through where to begin at the start of every week, I always make myself a list on Friday of the things I need to do when I come back on Monday—it brings me back to reality preeetty quickly come Monday morning. :)

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I suppose this particular weekend made coming back to reality even more challenging, since it was another weekend away from Madison, having fun with the fam.

We made our second of our three mini-road trips this weekend to Peoria, Illinois, to celebrate Philip’s brother’s birthday. It’s always a great time when the family gets together—not to mention some great food.

Philip’s dad always makes our Saturday breakfast a special one by making us all a warm breakfast with eggs, toast, bacon, and grapefruit (and yes, it’s always grapefruit). I’m usually almost exclusively a cereal/oatmeal kind of breakfast girl, but the warm breakfast turns an everyday occasion—where you’re half asleep slurping up soggy cereal—into a special occasion that the whole family can enjoy together.

Speaking of family mealtime, that’s a whole other topic I could get into, but I’ll spare you the details. All I’ll say for now is it’s an important habit to get into no matter how big or small, young or old your family is. There’s your dietitian tip of the week from me. :)

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Cherry-Almond Farro Salad

Cherry Almond Farro Salad

Don’t you just love summer? The days are long, the worries are few (or at least I like to pretend that’s true), and short road trips are abundant.

This past weekend began our three-weekend stretch of road trips. As I type this, we’re currently somewhere in the middle of Iowa as we make our one-day trek across the entire state back to Madison.

Although this weekend will have consisted of a total of 16 hours on the road by the end it, it’s been so much fun! The whole reason for the trip was to see this pretty lady and her man get married in Lincoln, Nebraska.

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Kate was a fellow intern, now dietitian, who loves food as much as me—her food selection and cake (oh my gosh, the cake!!) was proof of that. The food was tasty, the party was lively, and the whole wedding itself was stunning. I’m so glad we could help Kate and John celebrate their special day.

Although the trip was essentially all about the wedding, the trip had so many other fun, unexpected perks along the way. Philip and I got to catch up with my parents in Ames, Iowa, on Friday night and Sunday for the perfect halfway pit-stop to and from Nebraska. It’s always fun to be back at my old stomping grounds, even for a short time.

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