Vegetables

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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Rosemary & Sage Roasted Vegetables with Apple Chicken Sausage

Rosemary & Sage Roasted Vegetables with Apple Chicken Sausage

Fall is in the air, folks! This past weekend Philip and I made a long over-due road trip to Iowa — my home state and where I still call “home” out of habit — and there was a crisp, briskness in the air. It was actually the perfect weather for tailgating and football.

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Being that my entire family are Iowa State graduates and that my parents are die-hard fans, it was almost a sin that Philip has been in our family for two years and didn’t have any Iowa State apparel yet. This weekend, Philip got a full dose of Iowa State starting with getting mandatory new Iowa State gear, tailgating with the “regulars,” and witnessing his first Iowa State football game. While the game didn’t end quite how we would have preferred (re: we lost), it was a great time being back and showing Philip around my alma mater. So many memories from the six years I was there!

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The weather was great during the day, but boy, did it get cold once the sun went down. Breaking out the winter coat, hat, and gloves just seemed a little too premature and almost saddening.

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You know what isn’t saddening, wrong, or premature, though? This Rosemary & Sage Roasted Vegetables with Apple Chicken Sausage is comforting, perfectly right, and is just in time for this fall weather. While it may be a mouthful to say, it is so easy to whip together on any weeknight. I don’t even know if I should really call it a recipe.

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Spaghetti alla Melanzane

Spaghetti alla Melanzane

The fall spirit is still going strong around here! The weather, once again, was gorgeous this weekend, so I hightailed it out of work on Saturday and made it just in time to spend the late afternoon apple picking at one of the many orchards in the Madison area.

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We walked away with far more apples than we probably needed, but we couldn’t not fill up the whole bag! Yesterday we spent time in the kitchen together making and canning enough applesauce to last us a year…no, I’m serious, it’ll most likely last us until next summer.

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We also picked up some pumpkins this weekend and glanced at all the gourds and winter squash at the apple orchard. Thanks to our garden this summer, we bypassed the winter squash. While our community garden plot was a little highly neglected this summer, we were still able to come away with a bunch of delicious produce, including a few spaghetti squash. Yay!

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While I have nothing against pasta (whole grain is what I usually choose), spaghetti squash is so fun and is a great way to get some added vegetables onto your plate without even really realizing it. If you’re not familiar with spaghetti squash, it’s a winter squash that looks like spaghetti noodles when it’s cooked. Just running a fork through it creates lots of tiny spaghetti-like strands. Not only is it loaded with fiber, nutrients, and antioxidants, it’s also extremely low in calories (40 calories for a cup!). Spaghetti squash for the win!

Since I had small little spaghetti squash from our garden sitting on our kitchen counter, I decided to make a twist on spaghetti — Spaghetti alla Melanzane in a spaghetti squash boat. Isn’t it adorable?

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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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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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Cauliflower & Aged White Cheddar Mac & Cheese

Cauliflower & Aged White Cheddar Mac & Cheese

I’m celebrating today with a big, warm bowl of Cauliflower & Aged White Cheddar Mac & Cheese today. You know why? Well, for one, it’s cold outside, but I’m celebrating because this little corner of mine on the web, called RD in the Midwest, is exactly one year old today! One year! I don’t know if I’m more excited about making it a year of blogging or when I reached a year working at my “real job”.

What a year! I honestly can’t believe I’ve been navigating my way through blogging for already a year now, sharing with you little glimpses into my Midwest life as an RD, runner, and wife.

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My platform has remained the same (sharing with you mostly healthy recipes, but also sharing some of my favorite sweets — since everything is okay in moderation…famous last words of a dietitian) over the year and I don’t plan on changing it anytime soon. It’s been so encouraging hearing from readers when they’ve tried a recipe, maybe that they normally wouldn’t have tried before, and enjoyed it as much as I enjoyed making, eating, and writing about it. You guys are the reason I keep with it each and every week! There are days when I feel like my posts are going out into space somewhere, unread and under appreciated for the work that goes into them, but then I get a comment from a reader and I realize once again why it’s all worth it.

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Smoked Gouda & Roasted Red Pepper Tomato-Basil Bisque {Crock-Pot Recipe}

Smoked Gouda & Roasted Red Pepper Tomato-Basil Bisque

Umm, can we just talk for a minute about how gorgeous the weather was this weekend?! Sun shining, warm weather with a cool fall breeze, and all the fall colors to match. All. Weekend. Long. I wanted to be out enjoying it as much as I could. Unfortunately, I spent the day on Saturday at work, helping around 300 kids in costume make trail mix. Hmph. Oh well, at least I saw a lot of variations of Elsa from Frozen. :)

And, since Sunday was just as beautiful, Philip and I could enjoy the day outside for a bit instead. I’ve totally embraced that summer is over and am loving all the fall colors. I just can’t get enough! Madison is by far the prettiest place in the fall that I’ve lived (granted, this is only the fourth city I’ve lived in, but still, it’s the prettiest!).

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Well, no matter what the weather, to me, fall means soup. Even if it is almost 70 degrees out. That’s because I know that no matter how warm it is, it will most likely be soup weather again in two to three short days (at least that’s how things roll in the Midwest). I figure I might as well be prepared for when it’s “soup weather” by everybody else’s standards. So today, I bring you Smoked Gouda and Roasted Red Pepper Tomato-Basil Bisque. Whew, that’s a long one!  Don’t worry, the title itself lists about all the main ingredients in the soup; you don’t have too many more ingredients to add.

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I actually made this soup way back in May by my friend Alex’s request (she said it was the best ever — she was right). But you know, May and “soup weather” aren’t usually said in the same sentence…even for me. It was cool(er) temps when I made it (although, it’s highly likely I only convinced myself of this when I made it) and the temperatures rose so quickly, I knew it was too late for me to post it on here. Basically, long story short, I’m tired of waiting and I’m just going to share this super tasty and comforting soup with you today, gosh darn-it!

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