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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Southwest Pizza with Lime & Cilantro

Southwest Pizza

Welcome back to the start of another work week after a long, fun-filled weekend! Boy, did it feel good to have an extra day added on to our weekend. Philip and I both agreed that we could get used to having a three-day weekend all the time…if only that was possible.

I couldn’t have asked for a better Memorial Day weekend. The weather was gorgeous on Saturday morning, so Philip and I started off the weekend by heading to the Madison farmers’ market, which surrounds the Capitol square. We picked up some plants and herbs for our garden and had an enjoyable time strolling amongst all the people. So many people!

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My friend, Sarah — who might as well be my sister — came into town on Saturday. We’ve been friends since freshman year of college when we were randomly assigned as roommates (we lived with each other for 4 years and still came out as close of friends as ever). It’s sometimes eery how similar we are…and we love it. :)

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We chatted into the night and woke up bright and early to run the Madison Half Marathon on Sunday. Somehow I convinced her that she should do her first half marathon in Madison and had so much fun sharing the experience with her. There’s nothing quite like completing your first half or full marathon. Thankfully we both outran the rain and were finished by the time the downpour started.

Madison Half Marathon

Monday started out looking gloomy, too, but by the afternoon, it cleared up enough for Philip and me to take our first bike ride of the season together. I’ve fallen in love with Madison during the spring through fall (it hasn’t won me over for it’s winters yet). The wild flowers were blooming and wild life were everywhere along the bike trails.

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To finish out a great weekend, we fired up the grill and had the perfect summer meal — Southwest Pizza. Seriously, yum. I barely have words to describe how tasty this was. So many flavors coming together to create a flavor explosion in your mouth. Philip was pretty much speechless and couldn’t get enough of it — which is always my gage to see if recipes make it to the blog. Based on his reaction, I knew this recipe was one I needed to share with you ASAP, so you could enjoy it as long as possible through the upcoming summer months (and beyond).

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Orange Tapioca Jell-O Salad

Orange Tapioca Jell-O Salad

Happy Monday, everyone! After a fun trip to Illinois to see family this past weekend, it’s back to the normal workweek grind in Madison for me today.

But this past weekend was anything but a normal weekend. And it was definitely anything but boring. My sister-in-law’s three kids were turning 5, 3 and 1 (over the course of 3 months) and this weekend she threw a big circus-themed joint birthday party for all of them — bounce house and all. Let’s just say, my sister-in-law knows how to throw a party! She single-handedly made our wedding look 10x better than if it had been solely up to me. I think it’s safe to say her motto is “Go big or go home.”

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Although the rain put a damper on things, it was still a glowing success and gave Philip and I a chance to connect with family and for me to see his old stomping grounds again — including some of his favorite restaurants he grew up going to as a kid. Every time we go back home, it’s safe to say we’ll either be having “Gondolas” (a ham and salami sub sandwich) from Avanti’s Restaurant or pizza from Monical’s, a family-favorite pizza place in town. I love seeing how food can bring so much joy to people and bring back fond memories; especially for Philip since he gets so excited when he knows a childhood favorite is coming, like the grilled steak dinner I made for him last weekend.

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Another childhood favorite of his that happens to also be a favorite in my family as well is a Midwest classic: Orange Tapioca Jell-O Salad. Only in the Midwest can something containing Jell-O and Cool Whip be considered a “salad.” By no means am I promoting this as a healthy alternative to a green-tossed salad, but in light of recognizing the joy food can bring and the memories certain foods can hold, this is one that I keep in my back pocket for nostalgic purposes (oh, and okay, because it tastes so gosh darn good).

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