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!
Oh, hey there! Summer is full swing over here and I’m absolutely loving it! Madison just shines in the summer. The lakes and pretty views, the bike trails, all the outdoor activities and concerts, the farmers’ markets…it’s just enough to make you forget the long winter you just endured. :) Please tell me the summer is still young and has only just begun! I hate the idea of the days already getting shorter and school supplies hitting the shelves once the 4th has passed. Nooo! I don’t even need the school supplies and it still makes me panic. Ha!
I won’t think about that yet, because we still have lots of fun summer activities coming up. But just looking at the past four weeks, we’ve also already managed to squeeze in a lot of fun! (continue reading…)
I knew talking about our updated fireplace would get you to come visit. :) And while you’re here, you might as well check out this amazingly delicious and flavorful soup I’m sharing with you, too (sneaky, aren’t I? :)). I know, you’re probably thinking soup season is coming to an end, but you’re talking to the girl who just got a new fireplace…I’m going to enjoy these last few weeks of winter as much as I can!
While I’m certainly excited about this soup (seriously, so good! Philip and I both went for seconds on it), I have to admit, I’m with you guys—I’m probably more excited about this new fireplace makeover right now. We just had the stone go up this past Friday and cleaned up from all the drywall dust and put the room back together on Saturday (seriously, that dust landed in places I didn’t even knew existed!), so you’re seriously getting a first glimpse! (continue reading…)
Big stuff happening over here this past weekend! I had to go into my About Kara page and delete the “twenty-something” description about me. Yep, this past weekend I had a big birthday! It was a lovely weekend celebrating just how I like it — simple, special, and shared with close friends. :)
While I didn’t celebrate with a cake, I think this Parisian Hot Sipping Chocolate more than makes up for that. Philip surprised me on Saturday with a trip to the Chocolaterian Cafe. They certainly live up their name. While all of their chocolate creations look delicious, this sipping chocolate is one of my favorites and is served in a 4-ounce cup with tiny spoons (so adorable!). It’s literally like drinking a dark chocolate truffle. Mmmm, I’m practically drooling just thinking about it. ;)
Also, I got an Instant Pot for my birthday (after over a year of debating about whether I needed/wanted yet another appliance in my kitchen, I decided it was time). So far, I’m obsessed! I’ve had it less than a week and I’ve already cooked butternut squash, steel cut oats, and yogurt. I’m three for three with successes, so I’ve decided it’s pretty much fool proof. ;) Let me know if you’re interested in Instant Pot recipes and I’ll try to get a few posted as I start to use it even more.
I know, I know, I’m going to come right out and say that this recipe probably isn’t going to be for everyone (re: my dad, any burger purist, or any meat lover who needs meat on his/her plate for it to even be considered a meal). Well, this burger has no meat and is definitely branching out when it comes to the definition of a “burger.”
BUT, for everyone else out there who is holding on to these last summer days and flavors and who has summer veggies piling up on your counter and in your refrigerator right now, this recipe is PERFECT! Philip and I are in our second year of having a CSA share (community supported agriculture) through Ridgeland Harvest and we love having such a great variety of organic, local produce around in the summer. It branches us out from what we typically gravitate towards when shopping for vegetables in the winter and the taste can’t be beat.
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!
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.
Is anybody else having trouble wrapping their mind around the idea that Christmas is less than 2 weeks away?! 2 weeks!! December always seems to fly by, but I feel like I was just celebrating my birthday, which was December 1st. How is it already mid-December?
I’m not sure how we managed it, but Philip and I were able to find a free weekend in December to make a trip to Illinois this past weekend to see his parents and grandparents and for me to connect with a friend in the area. We celebrated the start of a new season for him at his job, relaxed in front of the fireplace while the snow fell outside, and played a family favorite game—Rummikub. It was certainly a special weekend and it’s making me even more excited to see more family later this month!
Today I’m excited to bring you a new recipe that is a holiday/winter twist on a traditional Mid-eastern vegetarian dish. Tabbouleh is traditionally a salad composed of the grain bulgur, parsley, tomatoes, green onions, mint, olive oil, and lemon juice. I love bulgur (whole grain for the win!), but this recipe is even easier to whip together because it involves no cooking of the grain. Instead, cauliflower takes its place and my favorite winter vegetable, sweet potato, is added in to give it a little heartiness and sweetness.
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.
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. ;)