It sounds cold and windy outside, there’s snow in the forecast, and I’m currently curled up in a chair next to our freshly decorated Christmas tree, inhaling the intoxicating smell of Frasier Fir. The only thing that’s missing is a bowl of this creamy, melt-in-your-mouth Instant Pot Butternut Squash Risotto sitting on my lap.
(Also, I’m admiring our new fireplace mantel, decked out for the holidays for the 1st time! Whee!! Thanks for letting me share.)
Back to the risotto: I mean, really. How can you look at that bowl of creamy, cheesy, comforting goodness and not want to just jump right into a bowl? No? Just me?
In all seriousness, this is legit easy comfort food taken to the next level. Perfect for these colder winter months when all your body wants is something warm and hearty. This will now be your go-to. Trust me.
I can’t possibly be the only one to be in shock that next week is the week of Thanksgiving! I mean, how did that happen?! Wasn’t it just Halloween? Either way, I can’t deny that I’m absolutely thrilled for the holiday season to arrive.
The past couple months have been a whirlwind and I guess I shouldn’t expect it to slow down with the holidays soon upon us. Just in the past month, though, I’ve been on one plane trip to Waco, TX, and three different car trips to Minneapolis, Illinois, and this past weekend to Iowa. Whew!
Each trip was so sweet and fun in their own way. I’m glad we had the chance to visit all these places this fall before we hunker down for another Midwest winter and practically don’t leave to go anywhere for 3 months straight. Ha!
Because our weekends have been so full, it helps having a simple meal plan ready for the week ahead. (If you want to learn more about how I meal plan, check out this post and this one!) I look for recipes that I know are quick to throw together after a long day at work, don’t involve a bunch of brain power (I’ve used it all during the day), and don’t use all my pots and pans in the process(Philip greatly appreciates this as he is our dishwasher of the family!).
Enter in: Italian Sausage Butternut Squash Gnocchi!
The holiday festivities are definitely here! Can you believe Christmas is just a week away?! If your schedule looks anything like mine, you have parties to attend, holiday baking to partake in, and gifts to wrap (or get!). While hectic at times, I truly love all the excitement and anticipation leading up to Christmas.
This past weekend, Philip and I broke out our “Hoerr Family Confectionery” candy making tub and spent the weekend making our annual homemade chocolates and candy. The caramel came out on the first try, so I’m calling it a win! I think we’re slowly starting to get this whole thing down!
I love making the candy and the tradition of doing it every year, but I think what I love even more is being able to work side by side with Philip in the kitchen (a rare occurrence!) and boxing up the finished products to gift to our neighbors.
And this year it was even more exciting to box up our chocolates to give away, because we upgraded our logo! Philip’s brother graciously made us a new design that we turned into a stamp. It feels so legit. ;) We’re going places, I can tell.
While this past weekend we were busy in the kitchen, last week we were having fun jumping from one holiday event to the next. I made this salsa for one of the parties (I can always guarantee on it being a big hit no matter who is at the party) and a couple days later whipped up these Fig & Goat Cheese Prosciutto Wraps for another get together we were going to for an appetizer. Fast and fancy is what I like to call these little roll ups.
Am I too late?! Is soup season officially over? Have you had one too many soup variations this winter and are already dreaming of grilling anything that can possibly be cooked over a flame? Even if you thought you were over soup (don’t worry, I hear ya!), I have full confidence this soup will persuade you to give soup one last chance before you officially declare yourself done with soup for the season.
I think it was around late February when I thought I was over soup. It seemed like I was making soup on a weekly basis. My problem is that I have so many favorite soups I want (need?) to cram into a short season. Plus, the ease of making soup can’t be beat, especially when everything goes right in the Crock-Pot. Still, I was thisclose to scratching off all soups from our weekly menu planning. After weeks on end of one soup or another, it’s easy to call it quits.
Except, of course, when you spot a recipe that has Italian in the title (because, you know, anything Italian catches my eye these days), it’s a dreary spring day (ahem, like this entire past weekend), and the ease of a Crock-Pot soup after a busy day is too good to pass up, Crock-Pot Hearty Italian Quinoa & Vegetable Soup will have you making soup at least one last time no matter how many soups you’ve devoured this season…and it likely will win you over. It definitely did for me.
Hey there, everyone! Were you getting worried I wasn’t going to show up in the New Year? ;) Well, whether you were concerned or not, never fear, it just took me a while to get back in the groove of things after an amazing holiday with family. I ended out my #yearoffun with one last trip of the year to Denver to be with my husband’s family. It was so much fun—our days were filled with hikes, a brewery tour, a whiskey tour (while interesting to learn the process of making a good batch of whiskey, I’ve decided whiskey just isn’t for me :)), and lots of good family time to bring in the New Year!
Happy Halloween, everyone! How is it already the end of October?! I mean, seriously, how did that happen. Halloween means tomorrow is November (November!), Daylight Saving Time starts soon, and all stores will be decorated for Christmas by tomorrow. While everything seems to be flying by a little too quickly, I’d be lying if I said I wasn’t excited for the holiday season that’s upon us.
Philip and I don’t have costumes this year, but we do have our candy ready to hand out to the cute trick-or-treaters. I wrote a post last year about why I hand out candy, but this year I’m also supporting the Teal Pumpkin Project by having a few non-food treats set aside for any kiddo who have food allergies or intolerances and can’t enjoy the candy. I think this is a great way to include everybody in the fun and even Philip admits, my non-food treats are pretty awesome. ;)
While I love handing out candy for Halloween, I do think there should be some limit to how much candy the kids enjoy at one time once they get home. I’m sure most families have a rhythm down for what works for them and their kids, but I loved this idea from Sally, a dietitian and mom who blogs over at Real Mom Nutrition, about the Switch Witch. I’ve heard about this witch a couple times this year now and I think it’s a great and fun way to let kids have the candy they want, but then switch out the rest of the candy for a toy or other prize that the witch leaves overnight. It’s definitely an idea I’m keeping in my back pocket for whenever we get to that stage.
But for now, I stashed away a couple Snickers Peanut Butter Squares for myself (re: all of the Squares that were in the variety pack. :) I knew sampling one was a bad idea…) and made up a batch of this delectable and appropriately fall Butternut Squash Gnocchi to enjoy after the trick-or-treaters have had their fill. Like I always say, it’s about finding the balance. ;)
Hello again, everyone! I’m coming into the work week with a little extra summer glow (re: burn) on my face, a very satisfied stomach, and the feeling that I have officially experienced summer. If you follow me on Instagram, then you may have seen that this weekend Philip and I made a trip to Iowa to experience the Iowa State Fair. It was a picture perfect day for the fair—mid 80s, sun shining, slight breeze, and absolutely no humidity. It was like we were meant to be at the fair that day. It was warm enough to want the delicious nitro ice cream there (think extra smooth ice cream that’s frozen quickly with nitrogen), but not so hot where our appetites left us…we definitely had our appetites! :)
How was everybody’s Halloween weekend?! Besides the rain and dreary weather (which is only fitting for Halloween, I guess, right?), it was a great weekend for us here in Madison.
Since I had Friday off from work, Philip and I made a whole day of it. What a treat! Normally my days off consist of chores and errands — certainly not casual coffee dates chatting about life, hiking through the leaves and bluffs in Wisconsin, or capping off the day with sushi and ice cream.
Our hiking trip was at same place we went a month ago, but this time the crowds had drastically declined and the weather was slightly chillier. It was peaceful, beautiful seeing the trails covered in leaves (and the off trails…
we I may have lost the trail for a bit…), and just plain fun to explore nature.
On Halloween, I could sense the excitement in the air while at work. I was excited as well since Philip had given me an early birthday gift for us to go see Wicked, the musical about how the Wicked Witch of the West became wicked from the Wizard of Oz. Absolutely incredible. I highly recommend it. It was my third time seeing it and it never gets old.
From work to passing out candy to all our cute trick-or-treaters to the musical, time was short with little of it left for preparing dinner. This Garlic & Herb Spaghetti Squash with Pine Nuts was the perfect solution. Besides being able to use up the last of the spaghetti squash from our garden, it was so simple it was almost ridiculous. It was a delicious vegetable side to pair with other leftovers we already had in the fridge.
The fall spirit is still going strong around here! The weather, once again, was gorgeous this weekend, so I hightailed it out of work on Saturday and made it just in time to spend the late afternoon apple picking at one of the many orchards in the Madison area.
We walked away with far more apples than we probably needed, but we couldn’t not fill up the whole bag! Yesterday we spent time in the kitchen together making and canning enough applesauce to last us a year…no, I’m serious, it’ll most likely last us until next summer.
We also picked up some pumpkins this weekend and glanced at all the gourds and winter squash at the apple orchard. Thanks to our garden this summer, we bypassed the winter squash. While our community garden plot was
a little highly neglected this summer, we were still able to come away with a bunch of delicious produce, including a few spaghetti squash. Yay!
While I have nothing against pasta (whole grain is what I usually choose), spaghetti squash is so fun and is a great way to get some added vegetables onto your plate without even really realizing it. If you’re not familiar with spaghetti squash, it’s a winter squash that looks like spaghetti noodles when it’s cooked. Just running a fork through it creates lots of tiny spaghetti-like strands. Not only is it loaded with fiber, nutrients, and antioxidants, it’s also extremely low in calories (40 calories for a cup!). Spaghetti squash for the win!
Since I had small little spaghetti squash from our garden sitting on our kitchen counter, I decided to make a twist on spaghetti — Spaghetti alla Melanzane in a spaghetti squash boat. Isn’t it adorable?
I’m starting to embrace fall and everything it has to offer. I have decided I’m fully ready to put away my shorts and summer tops and bring out the cozy sweaters (let’s be real, my sweats are what’re really calling my name). Of course, it helps that the weather has been gorgeous, the sun shining, and I’m not yet hustling to and from my car due to the sharp chill in the air. Nevertheless, fall is at its finest here in the Midwest.
In fact, on my day off this week, for some reason I woke up with this great need and desire to make my life surrounded with all things fall. So, our house has been switched for the seasons with fall colors, pinecones, and fall leaves positioned decoratively throughout…never mind the trees with green leaves still prospering and doing well outside…
Naturally, no fall is complete without the smell of pumpkin in the air, so to top it all off, I made up a few mini loaves of Pumpkin Chocolate Chip Bread from Erin at Well Plated (amazing!) to send off to our new neighbors. If I enjoyed PSLs, I’m sure one of those would be in my hand as well.
The one thing I really love about the change of seasons, though? The change in food! Fall, to me, is when comfort food starts coming out, pots of hearty soup are simmering on the stove again, and all things pumpkin and apple abound. This Smoked Sausage & Kale Alfredo is right up there with the best comfort food. It’s creamy, rich, and warms you right up — both from its warmth and the little bit of kick it has.