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.”


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.


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).

(continue reading…)

Asian Quinoa Salad + Salads-in-a-Jar

Asian Quinoa Salad

Happy Fall, y’all! Even though the weather has been hinting at fall for a couple weeks now, it is now officially the first day of fall today. This past weekend I finally started seeing a lot more trees changing colors—an absolutely beautiful site in Madison. The changing of colors always bring back memories of my very first trip up to Madison two years ago, which was a perfect fall weekend. All the fall colors and the rolling hills were breathtaking to a girl who grew up in the flat plains of Iowa. I almost didn’t want to leave on that very first weekend…er, maybe that was partly because of something (or someone) else. ;)

Let’s just say, I’m so glad I’m back in Madison—both to see the changing colors and to be with that “somebody else.”

Now let’s cut to the chase because this is a recipe I’m this excited for! Seriously, you guys, I know today’s recipe is a salad (I’m sorry, I know you all love ’em, but I can’t post desserts all the time) and it uses that “health food” known as quinoa, but this is so good! The flavors, the textures, the colors…gah, I just can’t get over it all.


(continue reading…)

Cherry-Almond Farro Salad

Cherry Almond Farro Salad

Don’t you just love summer? The days are long, the worries are few (or at least I like to pretend that’s true), and short road trips are abundant.

This past weekend began our three-weekend stretch of road trips. As I type this, we’re currently somewhere in the middle of Iowa as we make our one-day trek across the entire state back to Madison.

Although this weekend will have consisted of a total of 16 hours on the road by the end it, it’s been so much fun! The whole reason for the trip was to see this pretty lady and her man get married in Lincoln, Nebraska.


Kate was a fellow intern, now dietitian, who loves food as much as me—her food selection and cake (oh my gosh, the cake!!) was proof of that. The food was tasty, the party was lively, and the whole wedding itself was stunning. I’m so glad we could help Kate and John celebrate their special day.

Although the trip was essentially all about the wedding, the trip had so many other fun, unexpected perks along the way. Philip and I got to catch up with my parents in Ames, Iowa, on Friday night and Sunday for the perfect halfway pit-stop to and from Nebraska. It’s always fun to be back at my old stomping grounds, even for a short time.

(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…)

Strawberry Spinach Salad with Grilled Salmon & Lemon Poppy Seed Vinaigrette

Strawberry Spinach Salad

Happy Monday, everyone!

I hope you all had a fun-filled Fourth of July weekend! I had probably the most “summer-like” weekend that I’ve had in a looong time! Something about bike rides, s’mores, boating, sitting out in the sun, grilling, and having ice cream just screams summer.



Enjoying the fireworks on the lake with Philip and my uncle.

It was a wonderful, mini-vacation from work and I’m already feeling a lot more rejuvenated than I was last weekend—plus, my second attempt at jam making yesterday afternoon was a success!


Philip and I started off our long weekend with more strawberry picking! We knew we couldn’t wait much longer if we wanted any more fresh strawberries. We lucked out and hit the tail end of the strawberry season here in Wisconsin (why does the season have to be so short?!). The sweetness of these strawberries are incredible! I’m telling ya, after having these, the strawberries in the grocery store don’t even compare. Besides just canning the strawberries, I’ve been eating them plain, in fruit salads and spinach salads for a sweeter spin.


One of my favorite salads right now is my Strawberry Spinach Salad with Grilled Salmon & Lemon Poppy Seed Vinaigrette. Not only does it have the strawberries that are in season right now, it also has another food that’s “in season”—salmon!

(continue reading…)

Roasted Beet and Farro Salad

Roasted Beet and Farro Salad

I’m so glad you all enjoyed my Creamy Stovetop Mac & Cheese as much as I did! I received so many great comments and feedback from so many different people. Thank you! Since starting this blog about a month and a half ago (really, has it only been that long?!), it’s been fun seeing trends and what people like most. What I think is going to be a hit isn’t always the case, but then others that I don’t give much thought to turn out to be some of the most liked recipes thus far (don’t worry, my mac and cheese was not one of those; I knew it was a good on the second I made it!).

Well, I’m switching it up on you guys! So long cheese-laden-noodles (for now). Today I’m bringing you Roasted Beet and Farro Salad! Say what, right?! Ok, don’t click out of this just yet; hear me out. As an RD in the Midwest, I love my comfort food in moderation (aka macaroni and cheese), but then I balance it out with more nutritious meals most of the time. I find it my duty to bring you a variety and to introduce you to some things you wouldn’t normally try. There’s no time like a Monday to go all out and bring to most of you two new things—beets and farro.

(continue reading…)

Asian Chicken Salad

Asian Chicken Salad

Hi all! I think Spring has finally decided to come for a visit in the Midwest! I’m hoping it’s an extended visit. Even if it isn’t, I’ve been breaking out my spring jackets, bright clothes, and (gasp!) going sock-less, nonetheless! This is saying a lot, since my feet are always cold. For me to make this sacrifice means I’m ready for spring already!

(continue reading…)