Salads

Marinated Grilled Chicken with Asian Slaw

Whether the weather agrees or not, I’m declaring it officially grilling season! While this weekend has been less than stellar for any outdoor activities, last weekend when I was in Iowa visiting one of my best friends from college and her new little baby, the weather was absolutely perfect (I’d have to say this little guy was also just as perfect ;))!

Which also meant that we were grilling burgers. My mouth is watering just thinking about the burgers my friend whipped up on the fly. My gosh, were they good! It was a probably a combination of the beef coming from their own cows, my friend being awesome at making burgers, and me getting my first taste of a grilled burger of the season. There’s nothing like it!

While I don’t have my friend’s burger “recipe” to share with you (yet), I do have another delicious recipe that is just as easy to make and get on the table: Marinated Grilled Chicken with Asian Slaw. I just love this food season; everything is simple, fresh, and quick to prepare, so you don’t waste more time in the kitchen than you need to. It’s funny, people always ask if we “eat healthy” at home. Well, yeah, I guess? But I think what they really mean is if we eat boring and tasteless healthy food. I’m telling you, that is definitely not what we eat at our house. This recipe is case in point. So much flavor wrapped up in this meal!

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Mediterranean Tuna Salad

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Welcome to another work week everyone! I hope you had a wonderful Easter weekend. Philip and I had a quiet weekend by ourselves, but I was also celebrating the fact that I didn’t have to work this weekend, so we enjoyed having the entire weekend to be productive, relax, and spend quality time together.

We had high (perhaps lofty?) hopes of having nice, warm weather so we could get out and go biking or hiking together, but since the weather wasn’t that great out, we decided after our individual morning runs to instead take it easy, go to a coffee shop to sip on…smoothies (#notacoffeedrinker), and have a movie night. While we missed not spending time with family this weekend, it was nice having time to get things done and still be able to relax together. #yearoffun

Not to mention, today we have painters coming to paint the majority of our main floor, the upstairs stairwell, and hallway in our house. So yesterday meant we had to take down decorations, remove all the wall plates, and move furniture away from the walls. Although it really wasn’t much, during the midst of it, I had a slight internal panic reliving the idea of one day moving again. It amazes me what will fit in just one closet!

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Coming off a holiday that is inevitably centered around food (and candy!), it seems like we’re all looking for something a little lighter following a day of overeating. If you’re thinking, “Yes! That’s me!” I have the perfect meal idea for you today: Mediterranean Tuna Salad. Even if you didn’t overeat this past weekend and are just in the mood for a healthier twist on tuna salad, you’re going to love this one. It’s filling and protein-rich from the double-duty of the beans and tuna and is bright and fresh with spring staples like lemon juice and fragrant herbs. I’m still striving after my goal for the year of eating more fish, and I’m happy to report that so far, so good! And this salad makes it super easy for me, too. It’s great for lunch or even a light supper.

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Steak & Arugula Salad with Gorgonzola & Balsamic Glaze

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Spring is officially here! Thanks to Facebook, I was reminded of that yesterday and I could not be more ready or excited. I have a spattering of spring decorations up to help set the mood — that, ahem, have been up for a few weeks now, I have a brand new bike just waiting to take its maiden ride, aaaand we have snow in the forecast for this week. Go figure, right?

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I’ll keep waiting patiently for spring to actually feel like spring, but in the mean time, I’m long past wanting to make rich, comforting, and cozy meals and am all about making fresh salads with wanna-be-grilled steak. This Steak & Arugula Salad with Gorgonzola & Balsamic Glaze is the perfect example. While we haven’t fired up the grill this season, this steak is just as delicious seared on a hot cast iron skillet.

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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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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?

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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

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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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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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Spinach Salad with Steak & Blueberries + Family Weekend Recap

Spinach Salad with Steak and Blueberries

Hello again, everyone! Last week we had a busy (and very fun!) time with the whole family in town visiting us. My brother and his family arrived the day before the 4th of July, my parents drove into town the day after the 4th, and the fun continued well into the week. I couldn’t have asked for a better mini-vacation with family! I mean, how can you resist these faces?!

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I don’t know how we fit in so much fun, but somehow we managed. :)

We splashed in the water at the local splash pad…

Danced to music (one of my niece’s many talents)…

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Celebrated my nephew’s first birthday (!)…

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Visited places of work…

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Worked in the kitchen with my little chef-in-training (we made these energy bites)…

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Had fun outside…

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Had more fun outside…

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And enjoyed a night out on the town kid-free. :)

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Gosh, Madison is beautiful.

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Whew! And that’s just a glimpse.

Everybody headed their separate ways on Thursday morning and we’re now a kid-free house again. Only the sidewalk chalk shows any sign of children being here.

After an eventful week, Philip and I were ready to take it easy this past weekend. And I was ready for a quick and easy meal. This Spinach Salad with Steak and Blueberries was just perfect!

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Orange Tapioca Jell-O Salad

Orange Tapioca Jell-O Salad

Happy Monday, everyone! After a fun trip to Illinois to see family this past weekend, it’s back to the normal workweek grind in Madison for me today.

But this past weekend was anything but a normal weekend. And it was definitely anything but boring. My sister-in-law’s three kids were turning 5, 3 and 1 (over the course of 3 months) and this weekend she threw a big circus-themed joint birthday party for all of them — bounce house and all. Let’s just say, my sister-in-law knows how to throw a party! She single-handedly made our wedding look 10x better than if it had been solely up to me. I think it’s safe to say her motto is “Go big or go home.”

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Although the rain put a damper on things, it was still a glowing success and gave Philip and I a chance to connect with family and for me to see his old stomping grounds again — including some of his favorite restaurants he grew up going to as a kid. Every time we go back home, it’s safe to say we’ll either be having “Gondolas” (a ham and salami sub sandwich) from Avanti’s Restaurant or pizza from Monical’s, a family-favorite pizza place in town. I love seeing how food can bring so much joy to people and bring back fond memories; especially for Philip since he gets so excited when he knows a childhood favorite is coming, like the grilled steak dinner I made for him last weekend.

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Another childhood favorite of his that happens to also be a favorite in my family as well is a Midwest classic: Orange Tapioca Jell-O Salad. Only in the Midwest can something containing Jell-O and Cool Whip be considered a “salad.” By no means am I promoting this as a healthy alternative to a green-tossed salad, but in light of recognizing the joy food can bring and the memories certain foods can hold, this is one that I keep in my back pocket for nostalgic purposes (oh, and okay, because it tastes so gosh darn good).

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