Spicy Peanut & Sweet Potato Soup + Fireplace Makeover + Sourdough Success!

I knew talking about our updated fireplace would get you to come visit. :) And while you’re here, you might as well check out this amazingly delicious and flavorful soup I’m sharing with you, too (sneaky, aren’t I? :)). I know, you’re probably thinking soup season is coming to an end, but you’re talking to the girl who just got a new fireplace…I’m going to enjoy these last few weeks of winter as much as I can!

While I’m certainly excited about this soup (seriously, so good! Philip and I both went for seconds on it), I have to admit, I’m with you guys—I’m probably more excited about this new fireplace makeover right now. We just had the stone go up this past Friday and cleaned up from all the drywall dust and put the room back together on Saturday (seriously, that dust landed in places I didn’t even knew existed!), so you’re seriously getting a first glimpse!  (continue reading…)

Spiral Cinnamon Apple Bread with Caramel Glaze


Ever wonder what a dietitian does on her day off? Personally, speaking for myself only here, she spends almost the entire day in the kitchen balancing between making healthy apple carrot cinnamon muffins (which are just as much delicious as they are healthy) and this over-the-top dessert bread: Spiral Cinnamon Apple Bread with Caramel Glaze. I mean, how can you not look at that beaut and not want some of it?

This weekend Philip and I had a completely free weekend. No work. No being on-call. No home projects to complete. And we intentionally didn’t plan any activities. It was so perfect in every way. Just imagine: Windows open, candle burning, music playing, and me dancing about the kitchen, swiftly moving from one thing to the next as our kitchen begins to smell as good as the candle burning.


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Apple Carrot Cinnamon Muffins


Welcome to another work week, friends! I hope you had a lovely weekend! Even with the chillier temps, Philip and I had a fun weekend away in Illinois. We drove down on Friday to spend time with his parents. It was so nice to have no agenda and to just be able to connect and enjoy each other’s company. And yes, I absolutely love my in-laws. In fact, I’m pretty sure this trip was instigated by yours truly. :)

Since I lived in Peoria for a year during my dietetic internship, there’s always a good chance I’ll be able to connect with a friend or two. This time, I felt like I hit jackpot; I spent the morning chatting away with a friend at a coffee shop and in the afternoon headed over to another friend’s house to meet up with another couple of friends while their kiddos played together. Lots of reconnecting and catching up was happening on this trip! I absolutely loved it. Laughter and time with friends is so good for the soul, isn’t it? And I’m a horrible blogger because no pictures were taken during the entire trip. *sigh*

For lack of a better transition, let’s just jump right in and talk about today’s recipe that I’m this excited for! Apple Carrot Cinnamon Muffins — while it sounds slightly too “healthy” to be good, these are, perhaps surprisingly, delicious and flavorful. When I made them a couple weeks ago, they were just as perfect as a dessert after dinner as they were for an afternoon snack or breakfast-on-the-go. So versatile!


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Cherry-Apple Strudel with Cider Glaze

Cherry-Apple Strudel with Cider Glaze

Welcome to another work week, friends! After a restful two days off from work, I’m feeling pretty good about today! It may also have helped that I had this Cherry-Apple Strudel with Cider Glaze to wake up to this morning. Mmm…So. good. I’ll get to it in a second (because there is seriously so much to rave about with this wonderful, little breakfast treat), but first let me fill you in on my weekend adventures…


The weather has been too nice around here lately not to take advantage of it — mostly because I know what’s coming and I’m not looking forward to it. So, Philip and I made last minute plans to visit Devil’s Lake State Park outside of Baraboo, Wisconsin. It’s a popular place for camping, hiking, picnics, and more. Several people had the same idea as we did, because it was a happening place!


Even though the leaves hadn’t completely changed colors yet, it was still beautiful to see all the foliage and to witness the start of the changing seasons. Gosh, I love fall.


After a busy few weeks for the both of us with work, it was so nice to spend the entire day hiking, taking pictures, enjoying a packed lunch by the lake, and just enjoying being with each other. All in all, it was a great day. I’m so glad I finally was able to see this place I hear about all the time! I’m already looking forward to when I can go back.


Sunday was a much more low-key day, but a very delicious day because it involved making this bakery-worthy strudel. I originally planned on sharing a different recipe with you today, but one bite of this cherry-apple strudel with the cider glaze and I knew I couldn’t wait to share it with you. I was practically giddy with how well it turned out. Last night Philip even asked if he could have another piece. While I was flattered he wanted more, I was slightly concerned he felt the need to ask me permission. Problems of a dietitian’s husband, I guess…


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Landscaping Project + Sprouted Whole Grain & Oatmeal Bread

Sprouted Whole Grain & Oatmeal Bread

With so many things going on the past couple weeks, what with our vacation and anniversary, I haven’t been able to share with you another exciting thing that took place at the start of my vacation — our home landscaping project for 2015 (yes, there will most likely be a landscaping project every year for the next couple years at least)!


But this year was the inaugural year, so we were fortunate enough to have the experts come in to help us, er, Philip’s parents. They’ve had far, far more experience with landscaping than either Philip or I have combined, so they shared their knowledge this time around in order to equip us for the many years of landscaping projects ahead of us. Thank you, Mom & Dad! :)


So, what did we do, you’re asking? Um, well, let’s just say we were ambitious. I felt like we did it all.


If you’re new here, we bought our house in December and while Philip has done an amazing job making our grass look nice and green this summer, spending hours on it each week, we still weren’t happy with the rocks or the plants surrounding the house. I don’t necessarily mind living in a suburban, cookie cutter neighborhood, but our yard is the one area where we can make it a little more unique — a little more us, if you will — rather than having the contractor’s typical shrubs and bushes in place.


All that to say, we started out by removing all the rock in the front and sides of the house. Easier said than done. We ended up with a big pile of free rock for our neighbors to fight over (okay, no fights actually ensued) and another big pile of mulch to replace the said rock.


With the rock and old bushes taken out, the fun part of deciding where to put the new flowers and grasses began. Philip’s parents have a keen eye for plants and landscaping, so they took care of the hard part of deciding what plants to buy and brought them all up from the family business, Hoerr Nursery & Garden Center, in Peoria, Illinois.

Demo collage

Knowledge was passed down from father to son when Philip learned how to lay mortar and brick for the new edging. He’s all set for the rest of the house we still have left to do! ;)


Our pile of mulch was eventually spread out over the finished space and plenty of water was given to hydrate our new plants. Project completed! Of course, that was a highly abbreviated version of a full 2-day project, but we’re so happy with how it all turned out. It gave our house a totally new and fresh look. Just what we were looking for!

Before & After

Landscaping is no cake-walk, that’s for sure. Everybody worked up an appetite and that’s one area I had covered. :) To keep our energy from waning, I had energy bites and cookies at the ready and this Sprouted Whole Grain & Oatmeal Bread to give us the energy we needed for the day.


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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.


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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Mom’s Homemade Banana Bread

Mom's Homemade Banana Bread

Happy Monday! Are you staying warm out there?! I hope the cold weather didn’t stop you from having a fun and relaxing weekend. My husband left me for the slopes in Colorado this past weekend (no hint of jealousy there at all), so I was left to fend for myself for a few days while he skied with his brother and dad. I was productive and got things crossed off my list, but it was so nice having him come back on Sunday afternoon.

Being the great wife that I am, I made some homemade bread yesterday so he could come home to a warm house filled with the smell of fresh bread (and maybe, partly because I really just wanted to make some bread and I finally had the time to do it — but that’s neither here nor there). While I didn’t make Mom’s Homemade Banana Bread yesterday, it’s just as comforting, warm and inviting for a cold day (which is today!) — plus, it’s even easier than the bread I just made since there’s no yeast involved! This quick bread couldn’t be quicker — literally, just dump and mix everything together.


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Cinnamon Raisin Swirl Bread

Cinnamon Raisin Swirl Bread

I don’t know if it’s the changing of the seasons, the leaves, the weather or all of the above that makes me want to bake everything and anything. The past couple weeks I’ve been scrolling through my recipes of seasonal breads and cookies (drooling) and I can’t choose. Do I make the pumpkin snicker-doodles or the pumpkin cinnamon rolls with caramel frosting? But then I make pumpkin-pull-apart every year and I can’t not make that this year! Oh, the decisions! And one thing I am not good at is making decisions. This creates a big problem when it comes to holiday baking. I make all the things! Actually, side note, this past week I was looking through baking notes from last Christmas (I mean, everybody does that, right?) and at the top, I wrote “Cut back next year!” So far, things aren’t looking good for me…

Well, out of all the pumpkin and fall-inspired recipes I have yet to make, I went with a classic stand-by — Cinnamon Raisin Swirl Bread. I think it’s one of the first bread recipes I ever made — way back in, ohh, 2008. I tell ya, it was years ago.

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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.


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.


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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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. :)


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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