Vegetables

Pomegranate Chicken Skillet with Sweet Potatoes & Brussels Sprouts

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.

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Summer Veggie-Millet Burger

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.

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Crock-Pot Hearty Italian Quinoa & Vegetable Soup

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.

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Green Edamame Avocado Hummus

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Welcome to another week, friends! I hope you had a fun weekend and that your week ahead is looking like a good one. Philip and I had an easy weekend with no real plans in the books, so we enjoyed our time together and did planning, instead, for future trips.

We’re blessed to be able to travel near and far, going on a few “big” trips each year. Well, this year we’re going on an even “bigger” trip (for us anyway…it’s all relative, isn’t it?) and we’re planning a 2–week long trip to Italy and Greece later this year. Wheee! After our little planning sesh Saturday afternoon at a coffee shop, I am even more excited. There’s still a lot to think through and plan, especially since neither one of us has been before, but the bare bones of our trip are there. Now the fun part of filling it all in can start next. :)

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Sweet Potato & Cauliflower Tabbouleh

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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!

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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.

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Butternut Squash Gnocchi

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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. ;)

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Garlic-Parmesan Hasselback Zucchini + Adventures from Wisconsin to Colorado

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How is it already over half way through July?! I feel like a broken record saying this, but summer is seriously flying by. I feel like I need to catch you up a bit on what we’ve been doing the past few weeks as it’s been awhile since I posted. Where to start…we’ve been doing a lot, hence the lack of posts coming your way lately.

Over the 4th of July weekend, we took our main summer vacation to Colorado to spend time with Philip’s family. We crammed in as much as we could during that short, extended weekend! And boy, did we live up our #yearoffun on that trip! So many good memories were made.

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Sweet Potato & Egg Skillet Hash

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Have you ever had foods that you used to hate, wouldn’t touch with a 10-foot pole and then the next thing you know, you find yourself tolerating them and, gasp, even starting to crave them? It amazes me how our taste buds change over time. I can think of plenty of examples of foods from my past that fit this description: Baked beans (actually, any beans for that matter), nuts, sweet potatoes, dark chocolate, avocados…. (Moms of picky eaters, don’t give up hope!)

I overcame my dislike for these foods several years ago, but there’s one food I just have never found myself really being drawn to: Eggs. The incredible, edible egg has never been that incredible to me. It was one of those foods I wanted to love — they’re a great source of protein and nutrients, versatile and easy to prepare, and yet, I think “like” was the best I could do. If I knew eggs were on the menu, I had to build myself up for it and prepare myself, in a way. It’s not that I never made eggs or wouldn’t eat them, but it wasn’t a go-to food for me.

That is until recently. Whatever the reason, I actually started finding myself craving them (no, I’m not pregnant). I made my first avocado toast with a poached egg on top just last week. Delicious! I shocked myself that I was actually eating (and enjoying!) a runny yolk. Scrambled was the best I had done before then. I guess you could say, I’ve added yet another food to my repertoire.

No longer will I quickly skip past a recipe or an item on a menu because it has an egg in it. Which is why this is the first time since I started my blog two years ago that I’m sharing a recipe that has eggs as the star of the show. For all you egg lovers out there, you’re welcome. :)

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And I think it’s safe to say that I’m starting my newly established “egg category” on this blog with a good one: Sweet Potato & Egg Skillet Hash. You guys, this one will make you like eggs if you aren’t a fan like I was. Even if you aren’t willing to give eggs a try, the hash alone is amazing. (But the egg totally pushes it over the top, IMO).

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Roasted Carrot & Celery Root with Thyme

Roasted Carrot and Celery Root with Thyme

If there was an award for the ugliest vegetable, I have a strong suspicion that the celery root would be a likely winner…that is if anybody remembered enough to think of celery root as a vegetable, let alone know what it looks like. I don’t know which is worse, being an unattractive vegetable or being completely forgotten about altogether.

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It almost makes me feel sorry for the vegetable. Celery root is like the vegetable version of the kid who always gets picked last onto teams, gets made fun of by the bullies, frequently drops his books while walking to class or stumbles over his untied shoelace, and is never given an opportunity to really shine. I mean, tell me that doesn’t pull at your heartstrings a tiny bit and make you want to go out and buy a celery root. :)

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The truth is, I hadn’t given celery root the slightest bit of attention until a couple weeks ago when I was giving a grocery store tour. On almost every store tour, I challenge the listeners to branch out from their “safe” produce — you know, the carrots, mixed greens, apples, and bananas — and try a new vegetable or fruit, perhaps a new one once a month. It helps build variety into our diets, adds different colors to our plates, and keeps us from getting stuck in a rut. Plus, it’s fun to explore! What you may have disliked as a kid, you may really enjoy as an adult (Brussel sprouts, I’m looking at you!).

Well, not minutes after I had challenged my group to try new produce, one of the ladies looked up at the wall of fresh vegetables and asked what celery root tasted like and how to eat it. Hmm, good question. I honestly didn’t know much about celery root except that it wasn’t actually the root of the celery we’re familiar with and assumed it could be cooked similar to parsnips or turnips. And I certainly had never eaten it before…or at least was unaware of it if I had.

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I felt like I needed to give this knobby, gangly vegetable a try — if only to do what I preach. And to know how to answer the next time I got that same question. :)

So, the result? After some research, I bring to you Roasted Carrots and Celery Root with Thyme. A perfect introduction to the otherwise unknown vegetable. The verdict? Absolutely delicious and flavorful! Philip was scooping it up off the pan by the spoonful. #winning

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Garlic & Herb Spaghetti Squash with Toasted Pine Nuts

Garlic & Herb Spaghetti Squash with Toasted Pine Nuts

How was everybody’s Halloween weekend?! Besides the rain and dreary weather (which is only fitting for Halloween, I guess, right?), it was a great weekend for us here in Madison.

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Since I had Friday off from work, Philip and I made a whole day of it. What a treat! Normally my days off consist of chores and errands — certainly not casual coffee dates chatting about life, hiking through the leaves and bluffs in Wisconsin, or capping off the day with sushi and ice cream.

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Our hiking trip was at same place we went a month ago, but this time the crowds had drastically declined and the weather was slightly chillier. It was peaceful, beautiful seeing the trails covered in leaves (and the off trails…we I may have lost the trail for a bit…), and just plain fun to explore nature.

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On Halloween, I could sense the excitement in the air while at work. I was excited as well since Philip had given me an early birthday gift for us to go see Wicked, the musical about how the Wicked Witch of the West became wicked from the Wizard of Oz. Absolutely incredible. I highly recommend it. It was my third time seeing it and it never gets old.

From work to passing out candy to all our cute trick-or-treaters to the musical, time was short with little of it left for preparing dinner. This Garlic & Herb Spaghetti Squash with Pine Nuts was the perfect solution. Besides being able to use up the last of the spaghetti squash from our garden, it was so simple it was almost ridiculous. It was a delicious vegetable side to pair with other leftovers we already had in the fridge.

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