Sides

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.

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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.

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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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The Perfect Grill-Out Steak & Vegetable Marinade

Steak & Vegetable Marinade

I’ve come to realize more and more over the past 2 years how blessed I am to have the husband that I have. Not only does he willingly do all the dishes that I regularly dirty up while cooking, help with laundry and house chores, and cross things off the honey-do list with no complaining (although he’s jokingly warned me not to ask for a 20+ frame collage on the wall), he also is pretty easy to please in terms of meals.

He willingly accepts almost anything I make him – no matter how “healthy” it is or how foreign it is from his childhood “meat and potatoes” meals. In the past 2 years, I can count on one hand the number of dishes he hasn’t been a big fan of…and he still ate the meal and the leftovers anyway.

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Although I wouldn’t mind if he did, he also doesn’t have a long list of meals he grew up with that he requests me to replicate – he lets me freely experiment with new recipes and make my old favorites how I wish. Plus, talk about pressure to bring back a childhood favorite! Nothing ever tastes the same when somebody else is trying to copy it.

Howeeeeever, there is that one recipe. The one I hear about every summer: Grilled steak and vegetables that have been soaked in a saucy marinade accompanied by grilled Texas toast (because there has to be Texas toast to complete the meal, according to Philip).  It was the only recipe card he had when we got married, stashed away in one of his cookbooks his only cookbook.

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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.

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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.

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Balsamic Roasted Pearl Onions

Balsamic Roasted Pearl Onions

Hello everybody! I hope you all took advantage of the first half of the weekend that was nice and sunny and were able to stay warm and cuddled up for the second half of the weekend that was cold and dreary (if you live in these parts of the woods, that is!). Gotta love springtime weather. Even though it’s supposed to be rainy all week, there’s just something about the coziness of being inside on a rainy and windy day that I like. Yesterday was a sweatpants kind of day (well, who am I kidding, any day at home is a sweatpants kind of day) and it was so nice to have an entire afternoon with no real plans. I wish I could say that about the rest of my weekend, but it was productive nonetheless!

Since I had the day off from work on Friday, I got out for another long run. Unlike last weekend, though, it was on a trail I ran every. single. day last summer. Like I mentioned last week, I hibernate for the winter, so I hadn’t been on the trail since last fall. It’s amazing how memories come flooding back when you’re back in a place you visited frequently during a certain time in your life (specifically a major transition). I instantly felt like I was back to my days of wedding planning and being new to the Madison area. I reminisced for awhile (a lot of thinking happens during a 15 mile run), and if I’m being honest, I realized I miss last summer just a little bit, but it was nice knowing I’m much more established in the area now and not a newbie (not to mention, I’m married!).

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