Chicken

Maple-Dijon Chicken & Quinoa 30-Minute Skillet

Maple-Dijon Chicken & Quinoa Skillet

Can we be completely Midwest for a minute and talk about this weather?! Above freezing? I’ll take it! Above 50 degrees? Heat wave!

Even just last week I was trying to soak in all things winter by going cross country skiing again in the fresh powder that had fallen last weekend. But now. Now I want puddles and warm weather and spring jackets. One taste of spring weather has me wanting all things spring. While a part of me is saddened that the season of winter activities is coming to an end, I am so ready for some warmer weather. Going for a run this weekend without 4+ layers or mittens you would think you’d only need in the arctic tundra felt so freeing!

Alas, if I’m being realistic, it’s still only February. I’m trying not to get my hopes too high. Although, I’ll admit, I haven’t brought myself to look at the forecast this week, because I already know I will most likely be disappointed.

In this in-between weather, it’s hard to know what recipe to go for — do I make a hearty, comforting stew or a light and fresh spring-inspired dish? I found a happy balance with Maple-Dijon Chicken & Quinoa 30-Minute Skillet.

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Chicken Cilantro and Lime Soup

Chicken Cilantro & Lime Soup

I feel like a broken record, but I’m afraid it’s still just as cold this week as it was last week…which means time for more soup! I wasn’t kidding when I told you I’ve been making soup on almost a weekly basis. I’m just getting started with all the soups I’ve been making! ;)

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But first, since I have unofficially declared 2016 as my “year of fun,” I am determined to embrace these cold temperatures and take advantage of what Wisconsin has to offer in the winter months. And that meant finally getting to go cross country skiing this weekend! I have been wanting to go every winter since I moved here (this is the 3rd winter) and it never seemed to work out due to something or another, so I was not letting another winter slip by this year…especially during my year of fun! Philip and I had some free time on Saturday and were able to see how our legs worked with skis on. While it definitely wasn’t pretty at first, we had a great time and are excited to give it another try when there’s fresh snow on the trails!

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It was fun to be outside, but I was ready for something to warm me up afterwards. While it is soup season, sometimes the comfort food gets a little too…well, comforting. I need something fresh and light, something not so stick-to-your-bones that weighs you down for the rest of the evening. (Even though, chances are high I will indeed be lounging on the couch after dinner continuing to go through all the seasons of Downton Abbey, I don’t always want to feel like I’m in a winter food coma.) In those times, I go to Chicken Cilantro and Lime Soup. 

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[Slow Cooker] Hearty Chicken & Wild Rice Soup

Slow Cooker Hearty Chicken & Wild Rice Soup

Winter decided to show up for a little bit in Wisconsin…in it’s coldest way possible. I know we’ve been pretty fortunate so far this winter (it may be hard to remember with these near negative temps we’re having, but remember those 50 degree days a month ago?!), but it doesn’t make it any easier for me to tolerate these cold days.

Running outside makes my eyelashes freeze and my legs to go numb. Not enough blankets, sweatshirts, or slippers can make me feel warm enough. And it’s so dry that Philip and I got shocked when we gave each other a kiss yesterday. Philip says sparks are flying (insert eye roll emoji), but all I can think about is how I’ll be able to survive embrace another few months of winter in Wisconsin.

One way that is certainly helping with my constant state of being cold is filling up on hearty soups. I think I’ve started adding at least one soup a week to our weekly menu. The first chance I get when the temps start to drop ever so slightly (uhh, is September too soon?), I’m pulling out all my soup recipes to enjoy them to the fullest for yet another Wisconsin winter. #lookingonthebrightside

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One of the easiest and quickest soups in my arsenal of soup recipes is this Hearty Chicken & Wild Rice Soup. I’ve already had it three times within the past two months — it’s that good!

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Pear and Pomegranate Spinach Salad with Pistachios

Pear & Pomegranate Spinach Salad with Pistachios

Christmas is almost here, folks! After all the anticipation and preparation for the holiday, we are down to the final days. Is your shopping done, lists completed, and gifts wrapped? Ha. Don’t worry, we still have days…plural. (re: we’ve still got time!)

In all seriousness, with all the hustle and bustle, sometimes it’s best to slow down, put aside our to-do lists, and remember to be joyful and content with what we do have. Even though I’m still working the majority of this week, I’m already excited for our young tradition of going together to a Christmas Eve service on Thursday evening followed by sushi at a restaurant in downtown Madison. With bellies full, Philip and I come back home to sit by the fire, sip on hot chocolate, and exchange thoughtful gifts to one another. Out of all the hubbub of the season, this quiet time together is possibly what I look forward to the most.

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In keeping with the theme of simplicity and not to add another recipe that will add to your baking or cooking list, I have a simple salad that I know you’re going to love — both for the flavor and ease of making it. Whether you decide to add it to your holiday dinner table this year or opt for having it after the big meals are over when you’re looking for something a little healthier, Pear and Pomegranate Spinach Salad with Pistachios has got you covered.

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Rosemary & Sage Roasted Vegetables with Apple Chicken Sausage

Rosemary & Sage Roasted Vegetables with Apple Chicken Sausage

Fall is in the air, folks! This past weekend Philip and I made a long over-due road trip to Iowa — my home state and where I still call “home” out of habit — and there was a crisp, briskness in the air. It was actually the perfect weather for tailgating and football.

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Being that my entire family are Iowa State graduates and that my parents are die-hard fans, it was almost a sin that Philip has been in our family for two years and didn’t have any Iowa State apparel yet. This weekend, Philip got a full dose of Iowa State starting with getting mandatory new Iowa State gear, tailgating with the “regulars,” and witnessing his first Iowa State football game. While the game didn’t end quite how we would have preferred (re: we lost), it was a great time being back and showing Philip around my alma mater. So many memories from the six years I was there!

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The weather was great during the day, but boy, did it get cold once the sun went down. Breaking out the winter coat, hat, and gloves just seemed a little too premature and almost saddening.

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You know what isn’t saddening, wrong, or premature, though? This Rosemary & Sage Roasted Vegetables with Apple Chicken Sausage is comforting, perfectly right, and is just in time for this fall weather. While it may be a mouthful to say, it is so easy to whip together on any weeknight. I don’t even know if I should really call it a recipe.

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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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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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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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