Hello again! Summer is well underway and I’ve been trying to soak up as many summer moments as I can. Philip and I have an ongoing “wish list” of some summer activities we’d love to be able to do right here in Madison, including nights on the terrace, the farmers’ market, Concerts on the Square, and sitting under the stars with a fire pit and s’mores (in our driveway, but we’ll ignore that part ;)) just to name a few.
While we haven’t gotten to those things yet, we definitely have been staying busy: From our weekly Sunday morning bike rides (they’ve kind of become “our thing” and I’m so excited we started doing them at the beginning of the summer rather than the end, which is so often the case when you stumble across a good thing) to picking strawberries at a local strawberry farm and doing plenty of updates to our landscape (more of that to come!).
It’s been a good mix of fun and work and all things outside. With so much going on and my desire to be outside more than inside these days, when I’m making dinner for us in the summer months, I want it to be quick to make and preferably one we can cook outside. Double bonus if it includes produce that’s in season and bursting with fresh flavor. These Grilled Blackberry BBQ Pork Chops cover all of the requirements!
We’re just a little over a week and a half away from Thanksgiving and I’m this excited about it! My brother and his family are flying in to Iowa for the week (whom we haven’t seen since April (!!)), so we’re making the most out of the trip and having a Thanksgiving/Christmas/Birthday celebration jammed into a short 3 days while we’re at my parents’ house. I literally can’t wait.
Since we’re doubling the weekend with Thanksgiving and Christmas (Thanksmas?), Philip’s and my annual candy making has commensed so my side of the family doesn’t miss out on some of our favorites. :) This past weekend Philip and I took advantage of our free weekend and broke out our Hoerr Family Confectionary tub to get started for the year. It’s been so much fun making new traditions with each other and this one is definitely one of our tastiest traditions. ;) The day went even more smoothly since we had success making caramels on our first try this year…this for sure put a better mood on the day. :)
While the desserts are fun to make (and eat!), I also love the food that actually goes on the table for the Thanksgiving meal. Last year Philip and I hosted Thanksgiving and had a great time prepping everything, but this year we just get to enjoy our time with family, help where needed, and bring a side dish (and only because I couldn’t let the holiday slip by without making something).
I have a few ideas on what to bring as a side, but haven’t narrowed it down completely yet. If you’re in a similar situation and are trying to think of some meal ideas for next week when you need a festive and seasonal, yet quick, meal to pull together when family is around, this Smoked Sausage with Kale & Quinoa Skillet has you covered. This skillet is hearty enough to be a main entrée, but you could even make it into a side dish to accompany the turkey for something a little different.
Whew! I don’t know about you, but we’ve had a few hot days around here. I’m really not complaining, though, since I’ve been able to make the most of the hot weather and actually enjoy it. Last weekend my two best friends from college and I got together again and decided to spend the afternoon going river tubing outside of Minneapolis. Couldn’t have asked for a better way to spend a hot day! Floating down the river with drinks in hand…sign me up!
This past weekend, while it was indeed warm outside, Philip and I had a fun time biking around Madison and enjoyed a cold ice cream after the hot ride. Every bike ride should end with ice cream, imo. :)
Another way I’m handling the hot weather is by grilling as much as possible! I don’t even know the last time I turned on the oven, which has definitely helped keep our house a little cooler. When I do my weekly meal planning, I try to have at least one or two recipes for that week that involves grilling. Not only does grilling help me stay a little cooler while prepping in the kitchen, grilling makes it so easy to get supper on the table quickly without sacrificing flavor. In the summer, like I mentioned in my last post, I’m eager to get outside and soak in as much evening sun as I can, so the last thing I want to be doing is spending time preparing dinner.
One of our most recent favorites is this Grilled Pork Tenderloin with Peanut-Lime Sauce. Oh my. I know I told you the peanut sauce from the Spring Pad Tai was almost drinkable and could be used on anything, but I may have another new favorite. This peanut-lime sauce has so much flavor. It’s bright and citrusy from the lime and orange, has a tinge of heat from the red pepper flakes, and yet still has depth to it with the peanut-base. It totally made the meal.
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.
Whew, what a weekend! The weather, the excitement of the Super Bowl…
…and the completion of another weekend project!
First of all, was I out of the loop or did this snow come from no where? I knew it was supposed to snow this weekend, but I didn’t know it was going to snow all day yesterday! There was no hope for leaving, so I had a productive day checking one thing off my list after another. Don’t you love it when that happens?!
Since I don’t care all that much about the Super Bowl, I’ll jump to what I’m most excited about: our completed dining room!
After last week’s big debate on colors, I finally made a choice and we got it up on the walls on Saturday. Although initially it looked a bit bright (because, let’s face it, it is), with the furniture and things back on the walls, it looked a lot more inviting. While I’m not a huge fan of vertical blinds, we changed the vanes to a gray color and it made all the difference. I’m realizing my last minute choices seem to be the most successful ones.
And you know what else I’m excited about? This pizza — Brussels Sprouts & Pancetta Pizza.
How was everybody’s weekend?! Mine was great. You know why? Because I had no plans! Gasp! I can’t even remember the last time that has happened. Since I work on the weekends on a regular basis, it leaves fewer free weekends — meaning those free weekends fill up quickly with trips and events. Don’t get me wrong, they’re all super fun things, but once in awhile it’s nice to just be free (maybe a little too dramatic?).
Not only was it a free weekend, but it was a free weekend with Philip. It had been a few weekends too many since it was just us…with no agenda but to stay warm. Because I was so giddy about this weekend, I even made a last minute decision on Saturday to call and cancel my eye appointment. It was a big deal for me (Philip can attest to this). I don’t just cancel an appointment for no reason other than I want to have a day with no interruptions. I felt like such a rebel. Yes, I realize that’s pretty pathetic.
But you know what? It was the best decision I could have made. Philip and I had such a fun Saturday and we didn’t look at the clock once all afternoon. To make our day even sweeter (pun intended), we hit up some pretty, darn good chocolate shops in the area that I had been wanting to try out. We had lunch at Chocolaterian Cafe (you know a cafe is good when there’s chocolate in the name) and enjoyed some very rich and wonderful hot chocolate.
This past weekend when my parents were visiting, not only did we have some amazing dessert (Individual Strawberry Rhubarb Pies), but I also made up a hearty (very Midwestern) Wild Rice Quiche. I think it was just as big of a hit as my dessert! Between the four of us, we almost finished off the whole pie in one meal.