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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My Current Thoughts and Ponderings…

Hey there! Welcome to another work week…with (more) snow! What?! I had no idea we were in for more snow until yesterday at church when a friend mentioned about the upcoming snow storm. I looked at my weather app (if you don’t have Dark Sky, you should!) and yep, sure enough, snow was in the forecast.

So here I am, like a typical Midwesterner, talking about the weather (sorry, it’s just what we do, I guess!). I don’t have any new recipes for you today since lately we’ve been enjoying some old favorites (last night we had one of my most popular recipes on here: Smoked Gouda and Roasted Red Pepper Tomato-Basil Bisque. Gosh, it does not disappoint! Philip said it was like we were eating at a restaurant. If you haven’t had it, I’m telling you, you must give it a try this week. It’s so simple to put together, too.

Anyway, instead of a typical blog post with a recipe, I thought I’d just share with you some of my current thoughts, wonderings, ponderings…should be interesting, huh? :)

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Chocolate-Dipped Gingersnaps

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Well, that nice weather we had a week ago was nice while it lasted but as soon as it left, the cold weather brought me a nasty cold of my own. I have a Kleenex box on my right and a pile of used Kleenex’s on my left. This weekend has been spent either working or just trying to survive and get better before another work week rolls around all too quickly. We can’t win them all, right?

But you know what I do have that has been making this bout of sickness a little bit better? My husband, yes, who has graciously been stocking me up with more Kleenex’s and helping out however he can (bless him), but also these amazing Chocolate-Dipped Gingersnaps!

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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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Family Cooking Class + 5 Ingredient Chicken Enchilada-Stuffed Spaghetti Squash

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Hey there, everyone! Were you getting worried I wasn’t going to show up in the New Year? ;) Well, whether you were concerned or not, never fear, it just took me a while to get back in the groove of things after an amazing holiday with family. I ended out my #yearoffun with one last trip of the year to Denver to be with my husband’s family. It was so much fun—our days were filled with hikes, a brewery tour, a whiskey tour (while interesting to learn the process of making a good batch of whiskey, I’ve decided whiskey just isn’t for me :)), and lots of good family time to bring in the New Year!

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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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A Thanksgiving to Remember

If you’re coming into this week with slightly tighter fitting pants, I hope your hearts are at least a little bit fuller as well. This past week Philip and I packed up and headed to Iowa to spend a few quality days with my family; I left feeling thankful and blessed for be a part of such a wonderful, loving family.

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Even though we were only there for about three days, we were able to fit in a lot of fun! I may be biased, but my niece (who is turning 5 this week) and my nephew (who’s 2) may be some of the cutest kids ever. They thought of all kinds of games for Uncle Philip and Aunt Kara to play and it was so much fun. From games to books to tea parties to running around, we certainly were not left “bored” for long. :)

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A Guiltless Holiday: Here is How to Do it

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For some, the holiday frenzy has already started. For others, it all begins this week. The five-plus weeks of holiday indulgence from holiday parties, family dinners, and the continuous smorgasbord of sweets in the office has officially hit. Stress, social eating, and schedule overload can be the perfect storm for overeating.

Most of us start the season with good intentions, thinking to ourselves that this year will be different. But as we see another plate of those Oreo truffles being passed around, our willpower collapses and the temptation can no longer be resisted. I know, I’ve tried doing that before in the past, too.

The good news is – you don’t have to resist! As a registered dietitian, I give you full permission to have that Oreo truffle, pumpkin pie, or Grandma’s fudge without the guilt or remorse. Finding a balance between restrictions and overeating, such as allowing yourself a treat once in a while, may actually be what you need to keep the weight off this holiday season and throughout the New Year.

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Smoked Sausage with Kale & Quinoa Skillet

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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. :)

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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).

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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.

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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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