Quinoa & Black Bean Mexican Skillet

This Quinoa & Black Bean Mexican Skillet was one of my birthday dinners this past year. And yes, I just said, one of my birthday dinners. Did you think anything less from me?!

You may be wondering, “But, Kara, why this recipe?” I don’t blame you if you are. Usually birthday dinners are extravagant, rich and comforting, or simply nostalgic. (Which, if that was the case, I’d be having Kraft macaroni and cheese with pigs in a blanket. Seriously had that every year for my birthday when I was a kid.)

(continue reading…)

Family Cooking Class + 5 Ingredient Chicken Enchilada-Stuffed Spaghetti Squash


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!




(continue reading…)

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! ;)


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!


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. 


(continue reading…)

Roasted Sweet Potatoes & Cranberry-Chipotle Sauce

Roasted Sweet Potatoes with Cranberry-Chipotle Sauce

I don’t know what to be more excited about — the fact that we got our first snow fall of the season this past weekend or that this week is Thanksgiving! So much excitement I can hardly handle it all. :) I’m torn between wanting to put up all of our Christmas decorations to compliment the blanket of snow outside or to hold my ground and wait until after Thanksgiving.

Since we’re hosting a small Thanksgiving with my parents this year, my fall decorations have made it yet another week. But come next weekend, Christmas is in full force in the Hoerr household! This snow has really made the fall leaves and pumpkins seem a little out of place.

It doesn’t help that yesterday Philip and I made it outdoors with some friends and went sledding down a large hill at a park close to us. It was so much fun and what a thrill! We probably should have stopped while we were ahead and before our “one last time” because somehow I found myself thrown off, hat flying, and a little sore afterwards. I’m realizing more and more frequently that I’m no longer the little kid who was once indestructible. *sigh* Ah, but the hot chocolate and tea afterwards warmed us right up. :)

But enough about snow and Christmas (see, I can’t help myself!), it’s the week of Thanksgiving, folks!

What are your plans for Thanksgiving?


Are you still looking for one extra side dish to add to the table? How about a twist on the traditional dishes? For me, I’m all about switching things up and making the good ol’ classics even better. That’s why, for our small group’s potluck Thanksgiving meal this past week, I opted to bring Roasted Sweet Potatoes with Cranberry-Chipotle Sauce. You’re really hitting two classics (sweet potatoes and cranberry sauce) at once with this new twist. #doublewin

(continue reading…)

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.


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.

(continue reading…)

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!


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. :)


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.


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).


(continue reading…)

Corn & Black Bean Salad with Lime Vinaigrette

Corn & Black Bean Salsa with Lime Vinaigrette.jpg

Sheeeee-ee-rry, Sherry baby. Shee-ee-rry, Sherry baby…

This song. It seriously won’t leave my head. As soon as I think it’s gone, it comes back. For those of you who didn’t grow up with the oldies being played around your house like I did, this is “Sherry” (fitting name, right?) by The Four Seasons.

Philip and I went out on a date night on Friday and saw our second movie in the theatre since we’ve been together (I know! We just like our homemade popcorn and M&Ms too much, I guess). The movie? The Jersey Boys—a movie all about the struggles and successes of The Four Seasons.

We were probably the youngest ones there by about 20 years, but nevertheless it was entertaining, had lots of music and dancing (have I told you I absolutely love musicals?), and music that evidently gets stuck in your head for the entire weekend. For me, it brought back memories of riding to school every day with my mom, listening to her cassette tape (I was very young, of course :)) of The Four Seasons. Good memories, I tell ya.


Leaving the movie theatre, Philip and I started talking about our differences in “movie theatre going”. I couldn’t believe he only went to the movies a handful of times during high school. I was practically in shock, because coming from a small town, the only thing to do was to go to a movie.

The movie theatre and I probably saw each other on a biweekly basis. Perhaps it was the excitement of leaving our small town and driving 30 miles to the next “largest” town that had not just one movie theatre like our town did, but a mere seven! Or maybe it was the Wal-Mart we’d hit up first to stock up on the dollar boxes of candy (since we had no Wal-Mart, that, too, was exciting). I think I better stop now…

Whatever the reason for my high movie theatre attendance, I almost always had Karen, my partner in crime, along for the ride. Which brings me to this post (poor transition, I know). She asked me months ago to do a recipe with quinoa in it and I can’t believe I’m just now getting around to putting my first quinoa recipe on here. I tell myself I was waiting to start with the best, and I think I did. This one is a keeper, folks!

(continue reading…)

Favorite Beef Fajitas + One Year in Madison

Favorite Beef Fajitas

You know those pivotal moments in your life that you always seem to go back to as a time marker? Things like a child’s birth, a wedding, starting a new job…the moments where you say, “wow, a month ago I was doing this…” or “it’s been 6 months since (insert event here).” Well, that’s what I’ve been thinking this weekend, since exactly a year ago, I packed up my belongings (which felt like the millionth time since moving off to college), and moved up to Madison, my new home, with the help of my soon-to-be-father-in-law. I had just finished my internship a week earlier and was about to embark on a whole new adventure in my life. Moving brings all kinds of emotions, but I was for sure, without a doubt, 100% excited to be moving up to Madison to be closer to Philip. Plus, how can you turn down a sunset and view like that?!


(continue reading…)

Orange Chipotle Chicken with Cilantro Rice + Girls’ Weekend Recap

Orange Chipotle Chicken with Cilantro Rice

I hope all you mothers had a wonderful Mother’s Day yesterday and got pampered, loved, and appreciated! Thanks for all you do!

This weekend I wasn’t with my mom, but I was having a fun-filled weekend with my friend, Karen, who I’ve known since…well, forever. Literally. I don’t remember a time when I didn’t know her. We both grew up in the middle-of-nowhere Iowa—her on a farm and myself on an acreage with about 7 miles of farm land in between us (I know this because we lived on 310th and 380th Streets…yeah, Northwest Iowa is pretty predictable when it comes to roads). We both went to the same church since birth and were practically inseparable from middle school until we left for college (we even drove to college together!..I know). We’re not kidding when we say that we responded to either Karen or Kara since people were almost always mixing us up.


(continue reading…)

Fresh Salsa + Easter Weekend Recap

Fresh Salsa

Did everybody have a good Easter weekend?! The real question: is everybody still full from Easter dinner with a candy hangover from the weekend like me? Philip and I made the trip down to Peoria, Illinois, to be with his family for the weekend and I can honestly say I got my fill of candy over the weekend. It actually started last weekend when my parents came to visit us and brought me, among other candy, a 5-pound bag of Starburst Jellybeans (my absolute favorite since high school)…talk about sugar overload! I’ve been doing well to limit myself, though, and haven’t even made it to the jellybeans yet. You know what I say—everything in moderation! It’s not everyday I get pastel colored M&Ms, malted milk ball eggs, and jellybeans galore.

(continue reading…)