Waiting for the Storm

There has been talk since yesterday of a big, dangerous ice storm heading our way.  Yuck!  When I spoke with my parents last night, they both said that we should plan on laying low today.  When I woke up around 8am, the weather still looked fine, so I decided to head out to the grocery store for some staples before the expected 10am winter mix.




I don’t think I have ever been to the grocery store before 9am. The store was quiet, which was nice, but the pharmacy didn’t open until 10am (which stinks before I needed some allergy meds).




I was home before the BOY even emerged from the bedroom.  The weather outside was gray, but warm.  If a storm wasn’t heading our way, I might have bundled up for a run. Instead, I put some errands on hold to stay in my warm, comfortable home.   I made us some eggs for breakfast and sat down to watch last week’s Biggest Loser.  Meanwhile, I got started on moving some files form old computer to my new computer.  2 hours later, there was no wintery mix insight, and I was beginning to feel guilty about sitting on the couch in my jammies all day.  My mom called around noon and mentioned that some rain had started by their house.  She invited us over to brave the storm with some television and chili.  However, I had the same idea here!




The BOY turned on the Indiana basketball game, and I started chopping up veggies for Lentil Chili.




This is a vegetarian recipe from one of my new cookbooks.




I was super excited to try this chili.  It has a complex flavor profile, and I even picked up cayenne at the grocery store this morning.




This chili is jam packed with vegetables!




Before you even add in your lentils, beans, tomatoes, and veggie broth.  I used only 4 cups of broth due to space limitations in my pot.





If I was going to spend the day, hiding from the rain, I decided to make the most of it.  I kept plugging away at my computer getting to know Windows 8 and started a few loads of laundry.  I also sat with the BOY cheering on Indiana during a stressful conference game.  By the time Indiana secured a victory against Michigan State, my chili was ready for consumption.




And OMG…it is GOOD!


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So simple and rich, the chili tasted amazing covered in sweet avocado.




I recommend saving this recipe for your next rainy Sunday (or even Superbowl Sunday)! 


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The rain never came down as hard as I expected, but a few minutes ago, the BOY looked out the window.

And my car…is covered…in a sheet of ice.  Yikes!  I will definitely have to thaw it out in order to get to CrossFit tomorrow.



Did you get hit with a winter storm today?

How did you spend your Sunday?


Mine was much lazier than expected, but I am happy to be moved into my new computer!


If you are having a quiet day in (like me), here are three more veggie chili recipes that I love!

Crockpot Vegetarian Chili

Crockpot Lentil and Sweet Potato Soup

Ultimate Vegan Chili


And…dinner is already in the crockpot, which means that I will have another easy recipe coming your way.  Clue…this one involves homemade peanut butter!



Lentil Chili

From the Forks Over Knives Cookbook


3 yellow onions, chopped
1 1/2 cups celery, chopped
4 carrots, chopped
2 bell peppers (1 red and 1 green), chopped
1-2 garlic cloves, minced
6 cups 4 cups vegetable broth
2 Tbsp chili powder
1 tsp. cumin
1 tsp. paprika
1/2 tsp. ground chipotle powder or smoked paprika
1/2 tsp. cayenne pepper
2 cups red lentils, rinsed
1 (28-oz.) can crushed tomatoes
1 (15-oz.) can kidney beans, rinsed and drained
zest and juice of 1 lime



In a large soup pot over medium-high heat, sauté onion, celery, carrots, bell pepper, and garlic in 1 cup of the vegetable broth. Stir occasionally and cook until vegetables soften, approximately 5-7 minutes.

Add chili powder, cumin, paprika, ground chipotle powder, and cayenne pepper and cook for an additional minute, stirring well.

Add lentils, crushed tomatoes, kidney beans, and remaining vegetable broth into the soup pot. Cover and bring to a boil. Cover and bring to a boil. Once boiling, reduce heat and simmer until lentils are soft, approximately 45 minutes, stirring occasionally.


*Note: this recipe made 12 cups of chili, which is more than enough to eat, share, and try freezing.

Spinach Stuffed Mushrooms {Revisited}

First up, a ‘I’m sick of being sick’ update…

I saw the doctor today and am beginning round II of antibiotics tonight.  This one is a super big pill and the gold standard in sinus infections, so I am ever hopeful!  It’s been 2 weeks since I’ve gone for a run, and I am in need of some activity.  It appears that the weather will be warming up next week (40 degrees), so I’m hoping to have some exercise posts to share.  Although the doctor suggested not heading out for a run just yet.  Thanks to everyone for your warm wishes…I really appreciate it!




Even though I haven’t worked out in 2 weeks (other than one yoga class), I have had plenty of food to share.  As is our NYE tradition, the BOY and I spent the night working together in the kitchen to create a an incredible dinner!


What was on this year’s menu?




Spinach Stuffed Mushrooms

Crab Legs

Lobster Tail

Roasted Broccoli

Grandma’s Brownies


The stuffed mushroom recipe comes from Real Simple magazine.  The first time I made it a few years back, I was amazed that such a decadent tasting recipe could come out of my kitchen.  Since then, it has become a New Year’s Eve tradition.




Last year, I used a few large mushrooms, but this year I went back to the original recipe.




I like to add a little extra garlic and parmesan to my mushrooms which enhances the flavors and it makes it difficult to stop eating this mouth watering appetizer.




And any leftovers heat up nicely!




If you’re looking for an easy appetizer for a weeknight meal or to impress your friends at a dinner party, save this recipe for your files!




With the oven hot, we also roasted up some broccoli with olive oil and sea salt




And that sat down to enjoy this special meal!


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I definitely won’t be waiting until next year to make these mushrooms again!





Spinach Stuffed Mushrooms

Adapted From Real Simple November 2010



24 medium mushrooms (about 1 1⁄2 pounds total)

2 tablespoons olive oil, plus more for the baking sheet

2 cloves garlic, finely chopped

1 5-ounce package baby spinach, chopped

kosher salt and black pepper

3/4 cup panko bread crumbs

1/2 cup Parmesan, grated (2 ounces)



Heat oven to 375° F. Remove the stems from the mushrooms; finely chop the stems and reserve. Coat a baking sheet with oil. Bake the mushroom caps, stem-side down, until just tender, 10 to 12 minutes.

Meanwhile, heat the oil in a medium skillet over medium heat. Add the garlic and chopped mushroom stems and cook, stirring, until tender, 3 to 5 minutes. Add the spinach, ¼ teaspoon salt, and ⅛ teaspoon pepper and cook, tossing, until wilted, 2 to 3 minutes more.

In a bowl, combine the spinach mixture with the bread crumbs and cheese. Spoon into the mushroom caps and bake until golden brown, 12 to 15 minutes.

Store for 1-2 days in an airtight container and reheat in the microwave.

Healthy New Year Soup

I am swapping the sugary sweet holiday baked goods in for some veggie packed recipes.  Well, at least one veggie packed recipe.  I woke up January 1st with a craving for breakfast.  I whipped up a batch of these Banana Flax Pancakes.




I forget how easy and satisfying these guys are!




The BOY and I spent my last day of winter vacation laying low, and watching some college football.  Despite finishing my antibiotic, I am still nowhere near 100%.  This definitely frustrates me (who wants to be sick for over a week?), and I just don’t have my usual energy levels.  So I took advantage of my last day home finishing my third book this break, Emily Giffin’s Where We Belong (which in my opinion is her best book to date!) and cooking up some food for the week ahead.




We did make one trip out of the house to the grocery store to stock up on some fresh produce for the week.  Since my soup pot was out and clean after NYE dinner, I figured some veggie soup was in order.  I haven’t made a plain veggie soup in some time.  Mostly, because my Mom makes some wonderful soups and is always happy to supply me with her leftovers.




I know that I have commented before on my huge soup pot.  It was a gift to me along with some lessons in soup making when my Mom and our friend Beth came to visit me in Memphis a little over 5 years ago.




Beth makes some wonderful soups, and it was with her in mind that I picked up some cabbage along with all my other veggies for this Healthy New Year Soup.




I think once you’ve made a few veggie soups, you get a feel for what veggies to add, when to add them, and what spices work best.  Needless to say, I ‘m not there yet!




So I just sorta winged it, chopping up veggies and sprinkling in spices to create this veggie packed soup.  The outcome was a thick and hearty soup guaranteed to keep you warm in a winter chill and help you get started with your healthy new year.  However, this doesn’t make it easy to write out a recipe.  I’m not quite positive what I did, if it is typical of making soup, but I know the results worked.  I will do my best to share the recipe but feel free to add in any thoughts or suggestions (I mean you Beth!)




This soup freezes well, so I know that I am well stocked with healthy options for the next few weeks (unless you want some soup and in which case I am happy to share).  Sadly, I downed tonight’s dinner without getting a better photo of my colorful concoction.  What can I say…after my first day back at work, I was starving when I walked in the door. 


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So I overcompensated by taking plenty of pictures of tomorrow’s lunch!  I must say that it was tough to get up today.  When my alarm went off at 6am, I had NO idea what the noise was (I hadn’t heard it in 2 weeks).  Even my car seemed a little perturbed to be up and at ‘em before the sun.  But it was nice to be back at work catching up with my friends after the break.  This means that my posts might be a little less frequent as I adjust to the work/life balance and for right now I am done writing because I started book number four, Eat & Run (Thanks Brittany for the suggestion), and I am eager to get back to it.



Healthy New Year Soup



1 onion, chopped

4 cloves of garlic, minced

10 stalks of celery, chopped

1 package of mushrooms, chopped

1 head of cabbage, chopped

6 carrots, pealed and chopped

4 cups low sodium vegetable broth

6 cups of water

1 28 ounce can of diced tomatoes, drained

Sea Salt (to taste)

Seasonings (I used a mix of basil, garlic, and a veggie mix)

1 bag frozen green beans

1 bag frozen zucchini (fresh if you can find it, but it didn’t look good)


Optional: Add your favorite seasonal veggies and sub in frozen as needed!  Other ideas include okra, corn, peppers, beans, etc.




Spray the bottom of a large soup pot with cooking spray and heat over medium heat.  Add in onion and garlic.  Stir until soft and fragrant (about 5 minutes or so).  Add in celery, mushrooms, and cabbage.

Stir often as flavors begin to blend and veggies soften (another 7-8 minutes).

Add in veggie broth, water, spices, and tomatoes.  Bring to a boil (this takes time with a huge pot).

Add in frozen veggies (whatever you want, but I chose beans and zucchini…okra is good too!) and simmer for 2-3 hours.

Freeze in air tight containers and you’ll be set for the winter!



What healthy recipes are you staring the year with?

No Meal Planning But Plenty of Cookies

I quickly interrupt your sugar coma for a much healthier chili recipe…


The BOY has decided that we wouldn’t meal plan this week and since I spent the weekend up to my elbows in chocolate, sugars, and candy, I was okay winging it for dinner.  But, I did want a healthy option for lunch this week.


I can’t figure out how this recipe hasn’t made the blog yet!  If I had to guess, I’d say that it is hiding somewhere on one of these pages because it is one of my all time favorite chilies, but somehow I missed it on my Recipe Page.  This is another classic…I’ve been making it for years.  But since the BOY is not a fan of eggplant or zucchini, I haven’t made it as often this past year.




However, when I walked into the store with nothing planned and saw eggplant and zucchini on sale in the bins by the front door, I knew that I needed to have this chili.  It’s probably strange to see me using my stove instead of my favorite crockpot.  I have made this recipe in the crockpot before, but just didn’t have the time this week.




I love how easily this recipe comes together…it is so low maintenance!




And totally healthy and filling!




I was thrilled to have it for lunch this week, and you’ll love having something healthy in your fridge to dine on in between cookies and sweets!




Turkey and Vegetable Chili

From Weight Watchers Cookbook Everyone Loves Chicken



1 tbsp extra virgin olive oil

1 lb Lean ground turkey breast

1 large onion, chopped

2 garlic gloves, minced

1 jalapeno pepper, seeded and minced (I subbed in a can of mild green chilies)

1 28 ounce can crushed tomatoes (low sodium if able)

1 small eggplant, diced

2 zucchini, diced

2 tsp chili Powder

1 tsp cumin

1 tsp salt (optional in my opinion)

1/2 tsp oregano

1/2 cup water



Heat the oil in a nonstick Dutch oven over medium heat.  Add the turkey ad cook, breaking it p with a wooden spoon, until browned, about 5 minutes.  Add the onion, garlic, and jalapeno pepper; cook, stirring frequently, until softened and fragrant, about 4 minutes.

Add the tomatoes, water, eggplant, zucchini, chili powder, cumin, salt, and oregano; bring to a boil.  Reduce the heat and simmer, covered, stirring occasionally, until the vegetables are well softened and the flavors are blended, about 40 minutes.

Serve covered in your favorite toppings ie cheese, scallions, and sour cream

Freezes well!

Meal Planning {Again}

Saturday after my run, I dragged the BOY to the grocery store before lunch.  The main reason was I needed to pick up my allergy prescriptions, but I also wanted some input on this mini week’s meals.





Our thought pattern went something like this…


Saturday Night: Chicken Parm




Sunday Night: Chili (most likely a similar recipe to this one)

With leftovers for week day lunches


Monday Day: Root Vegetable Tagine

For lunches and to freeze


Monday Night: Dinner at the RAM with my family

My aunt is coming in town for Thanksgiving…Hooray!


Tuesday Night: Pork Tenderloin (super easy for one of my busier work days)


Wednesday Night: Dinner downtown for my brother’s birthday


Thursday: Thanksgiving Shenanigans*


*I have fondly named this Thanksgiving since it is going to be a few full days of food, drink, and family.  My mom is working on the meal plan.  I am in charge of sweet potato pie, and I picked up a new red wine to have with dinner.  And let’s not forgot all of these cookies…I can’t wait for the holiday and of course a 5 day weekend!





Are you already thinking about you Thanksgiving menu?



Because I’m sure you’d like more out of this post then just my meals for the week, here by request, is the ‘recipe’ for Butternut Squash Fries




Start by cutting a butternut squash into evenly sized sticks.  As always with butternut, this is harder than you’d think.  Try pealing the squash first to make it easier to cut.




Place on baking sheet and drizzle with olive oil and sea salt, rolling the squash around so that they are all fully covered.




One of the reasons that this batch turned out so delectable is that I used fresh olive oil that the BOY’s parents brought us from Italy. 




It’s amazing what a quality olive oil can do!




Roast the fries turning once or twice until the edges start to crisp.




Feel free to sample as you go.  I always do!






You can serve these fries in your favorite dips, but I thought they were so amazing that I devoured them plain with a big bowl of hearty soup.





Butternut Squash Fries



1 butternut squash cut into sticks

2 tsp olive oil

Sea salt to taste



Preheat oven to 400 degrees.  Line a baking sheet with foil and non stick spray.

Place sliced squash onto baking sheet.  Drizzle with oil and sea salt coating everything evenly.

Place in oven for ~45 minutes, turning at least one time.

Serve warm.  Store leftovers in an airtight container in the fridge and reheat in the microwave.



Note: Try adding in sweet potatoes or parsnips for some variety!

If you don’t like chopping up squash, Whole Foods, Costco, and Trader Joe’s all have precut squash!

A Squash Tale

My alternative title for this post was…‘When a random man offers you a squash…politely decline just say No!’




The reason for this alternative title will soon be clear!  As my Mom alluded in her guest post, our ride home from Door County involved squash…and quite The Squash Tale!




It all began with innocently enough with a stop by Grandma Tommy’s Country Store and the cool pumpkin patch right next door.


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I’ve never seen so many fun and creative pumpkins!


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The owners were very nice and knowledgeable about all of the different types of squashes and gourds.


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I loved how festive they were creating all of these colorful squash piles!


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As I was walking out of the store and heading out to our car, I heard an odd commotion.  I looked over to find pumpkins rolling around in the road.  Someone had driven off without shutting their back door and their purchases were soon spread across the parking lot.  All pumpkins were in tact except for one HUGE squash that was split in two! 




The owner of the patch offered up the 2 halves to a few of us paying for our pumpkins.  Since the other lady was so excited, my Mom and I figured that we too should have half of this beach ball sized gourd even though we had no idea what to do with it (or where it would fit in our already packed car).


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It took us an embarrassingly long time to leave the Door, but it was worth all of the shopping and laughs.  I kept busy through Milwaukee’s rush hour flipping through my new book.  I found this fun cookbook at a used book store during one of our last day stops. What I liked about it (besides that I love to bake) was that the creative recipes have only a few ingredients (mostly things you already have) and lots of pictures that look mouth wateringly good.




We finally made it back to my parent’s around 7pm, and I was ready for dinner.  Good thing my Mom packed up some Charlie’s smoked fish to go.


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But, we still had this squash to deal with…




Since it was late and we were clueless, we started with the basics.  Preheat oven, de-seed squash, and roast. Then sit down for an end-of-vacation glass of wine and dinner.


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But what happens 60 minutes later when you are ready to head to bed and your squash is harder than a log?  I (obviously) suggested…the crockpot!




So into the crockpot our unknown variety of squash did NOT go because it was WAY To big.  My mom attempted to cut said squash but the situation quickly turned dangerous!  I suggested the electric knife, which we had just used for the holidays.


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And when it appeared that my mom was more likely to loose a finger than cut her squash into two pieces, my Dad stepped in to assist.




It was not an easy task (taking 4 hands plus a photographer), and as my Dad pointed out…he doesn’t even like squash!




Despite a valiant effort, the squash finally gave way splitting into 2 big but not so ginormous portions.




That still didn’t fit into the crockpot…




I was laughing so hard at this point because you seriously can’t script comedy like this.  And although we were tempted to give up and toss our FREE squash to the curb…at this point, we were invested!




My Dad was able to cut the flesh away from the tough outer edge on one section of the squash and a great deal of time later, we had something for the crockpot.




Seriously…that was it!  All of that blood, sweat, and tears laughter and this was all we had to show for ourselves.  That alternative title is seeming like an obvious second choice right about now…isn’t it?!  With a little more effort, we (at this point, it was definitely a group effort) were able to salvage a little more ‘meat’ for an overnight stay in the crockpot.


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Before wrapping up the rest and heading to bed.  There is only so much laughter and shenanigans that one can take in an evening : )


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By morning, we had a unique and tasty puree. 




It had the same consistency as pumpkin but maybe a little sweeter.  Thank goodness it was so yummy or all that work would have been for nothing!  My Mom was in charge of the roasting up the rest of the squash and the next time I saw her, she had even more mystery puree.  I know that you can freeze puree and I have used it in soups in the past (so good!).  You’ll have to wait for A Squash Tale Chapter II to find out how I used this batch! 


The End!


Most important question…can you name the squash? 

I actually have no idea and because of a power outage can’t look it up. 


Number 2: Do you like squash?  What’s your favorite way to eat it?

Crazy for Quinoa

Warning: This post is meant to show you how you can enjoy one batch of quinoa throughout the week…not encouraging you to eat quinoa for EVERY meal!  It is possible to get too much of a good thing : )


I’m back on a quinoa kick!  I blame the HUGE Costco sized bag about to expire in my pantry and the quinoa filled recipes spreading across the blog world!  This morning, I whipped up a pan of cooked quinoa.  If you are new to quinoa, you can find cooking instructions here.  Once you have a large pot of cooked quinoa, the possibilities are endless!


Starting with breakfast…




I’ve had this recipe for pancakes from Everyday Food tucked away from a few years ago, yet I’ve never made them.  I rediscovered it flipping through my recipe binder this morning searching for a Sunday Pancake Day worthy recipe!




Sadly, my pancakes never quite stack up quite as nicely as the Door County rock piles.


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Despite their odd shape, the pancakes, served drizzled with agave and sprinkled with diced strawberries, were awesome!




I’m a huge fan of a breakfast that will fuel you through your morning (in today’s case…that was Hot Yoga).  Since quinoa is packed with protein, these pancakes are satisfying and filling!


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When I walked out of yoga, the rain was coming at me horizontally.  It’s amazing how (almost) overnight, the neighborhood started to look like fall!




On a day like today, there’s only one thing will do…


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Make chili!  Have you ever tried quinoa chili???




I have seen a few different quinoa chili recipes on the web, and this one from Manifest Vegan definitely caught my eye.




I followed the recipe as written, but ended up with a much soupier version than I expected. I added in some extra white beans and quinoa (since I had it), and then skimmed off about 2 cups of liquid.  The result was a thick and flavorful bowl of heart warming chili.




I diced up some avocado and crumbled some crackers to make a hearty and fulfilling lunch.






The chili was delicious!  The perfect combination of fall flavors with some pumpkin spiciness!




Does anyone else’s kitchen look like this on Sunday afternoon?




Slightly embarrassing…I know!  I must say that by the time my chili cooled off, it had thickened up quite a bit, but I would still decrease your liquid (as seen in the NOTE below) for a thicker chili.


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As I am housesitting and heading back into class for the week (this is the last week and then I will have my certification), I am thrilled to have lunch for the week.  This is a new household favorite!  A must try!!!


Which leads me on to the last, but not certainly not the least exciting quinoa recipe, Quinoa Cocoa-Nut Cookies.


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I have had this recipe for about a year, but I’ve never actually made it as written.  Instead, I modified it to make these Afternoon Energy Bars.  With a tornado warning raging at our back door, I had the full hour to let the cookies sit in the oven.




And it was well worth it!




These healthy cookies are fabulous!  They will store in your fridge or freezer for up to a week!




And even though they are considered ‘cookies’, these make a super healthy snack.  Or, my plan is to freeze them to bring to my classmates for breakfast on Friday (along with this tasty bread).




One food really goes a long way!  Everything, the pancakes, chili, and cookies can all be frozen for a later date, so cook and bake away while planning to share with friends or freeze for later.


CLICK HERE for more Quinoa Love!


What is your favorite quinoa recipe?  Links Welcome!



Quinoa Cakes (For One)

Recipe inspired from Everyday Food, November 2010




1/2 cup cooked quinoa

1/2 cup whole wheat flour

1 teaspoon baking powder

1 large egg

1 tablespoon unsweetened applesauce

2 tablespoons almond milk

1 tablespoon cinnamon

Agave and fruit for topping



In a medium bowl, whisk together quinoa, flour, and baking powder. In another medium bowl, whisk together egg, milk, and cinnamon until smooth. Add egg mixture to flour mixture and whisk to combine.

Lightly coat a large nonstick skillet or griddle with butter and heat over medium-high. Drop batter by heaping tablespoonfuls into skillet. Cook until bubbles appear on top, 2 minutes. Flip cakes and cook until golden brown on underside, 2 minutes. Wipe skillet clean and repeat with more melted butter and remaining batter (reduce heat to medium if overbrowning). Serve with maple syrup and fresh fruit or preserves if desired.



Pumpkin Quinoa White Bean Chili

From Manifest Vegan

Makes 8 servings



1 large onion, diced

3 cloves garlic, minced

1 red bell pepper, diced

1 tablespoon olive oil

1/2 teaspoon sea salt

3 to 4 teaspoons chili powder

2 teaspoons cumin powder

1 teaspoon smoked paprika

1/2 teaspoon allspice

Dash nutmeg

1/4 teaspoon cinnamon

1 cup shredded carrot

2 cans (15 ounces each) pumpkin puree (solid packed works great)

4 cups salted vegetable broth

3 cups cooked cannellini beans

1/2 cup canned coconut milk

1 1/2 cups cooked red quinoa

1/2 cup scallions, chopped

1/2 to 1 teaspoon additional salt to taste

1 avocado, diced

1/2 cup minced fresh cilantro



Place the onion, garlic, and red pepper along with the olive oil and sea salt into a large stock pot and sauté over medium-high heat until the peppers are tender, about 10 minutes. Stir often to prevent burning.

Add in the spices, carrot, pumpkin puree and vegetable broth and simmer over medium heat for 11 minutes. Stir in the cannellini beans, coconut milk and quinoa and simmer an additional 5 to 10 minutes, or until heated through and thickened slightly. Fold in the scallions and then top each individual serving with ample avocado and cilantro. Let cool about 15 minutes before serving; the chili will thicken about standing.


Important Note: I followed the recipe as written and ended up with way too much liquid. I was able to add some quinoa and beans, but still needed to skim off some of the liquid.  I would recommend using 3 cans of beans and only 2 cups of vegetable broth.



Quinoa Cocoa-Nut Cookies



1/2 Cup natural Almond Butter

1/3 Cup Raw Agave Nectar

2 Tbsp Milled Flax Seed

2 Cups cooked Quinoa, completely cooled

1 Cup Old Fashioned Rolled Oats

1/2 cup Dried, shredded, unsweetened coconut

1/4 Cup Cocoa Nibs (I used chocolate chips)

1 Tsp Sea Salt



Preheat the oven on its lowest setting.  For me, this was 170 degrees.

In a bowl, mix together the peanut butter, agave, seal salt and ground flax seeds. Mix in the quinoa, oats, and coconut. Fold in the cacao nibs. This mixture should be pretty clumpy

Mold into mini patties, place on non-stick cookie sheet and throw into oven for 1 hour-ish.

Store in fridge (or freezer) and consume within a week.

Autumn Medley-Fall Crockpot Recipe

As many of you know, I LOVE my crockpot!  So, when the weather started to get cool, I pulled one of my favorite crockpot books off of the shelf and began reading through the recipes.




I’ve tried a few recipes from this book, and I’ve been impressed with everything I’ve eaten!  Typically, I am a soup and stew girl, but when I saw this side dish loaded with sweet potato and parsnips, I added the ingredients to my grocery list.




That was last weekend…




And today, I finally had time to chop up some veggies and throw everything into the crockpot.




I followed the recipe, but added in some cinnamon.  And instead of apple cider, I used water and sugar free cider packets (2).




Which worked out perfectly!  I know this isn’t the best picture, but I wanted to show you how soft and mushy all of the veggies get after spending the day in the pot.




The veggies have the perfect balance of flavor…not too sweet but with a hint of cinnamon and apple.


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I was so excited when it was finished that I almost didn’t read the rest of the recipe to see that you are supposed to use your immersion wand.  I liked the chunky veggies (even the celery root), but the blended version is even better!




It was the perfect compliment to my delicious dinner (leftover grilled salmon and roasted broccoli).





I think I have a new favorite side dish!  This is so good that you could serve it for your Thanksgiving, and it makes enough for leftovers later in the week.  And, I think there is potential to throw in some of your other favorite root veggies and squashes.


Here are a few other fall crockpot favorites…

(I told you I was a soup and stew girl!)

Ultimate Vegan Chili

2 Ingredient Pulled Chicken

Chicken Tortilla Soup

Root Vegetable Tagine

Red Chicken Chili

Basic Beef Crockpot Chili


Do you have a crockpot? How often to you use it?



Autumnal Rich-Roots Medley:

Sweet Potatoes, Parsnips, and Celeriac

From 150 Healthiest Slow Cooker Recipes on Earth

8-10 servings



2 sweet potatoes, peeled and chopped into 1/2 inch dice

3 parsnips, peeled and chopped into 1/2 inch dice

1 small celery root, peeled and chopped into 1/2 inch dice

2 red cooking apples, peeled, cored, and sliced

1 1/2 cup vegetable broth

1/2 cup apple cider (I used 1 cup water and powdered sugar free cider)

1/2 tsp ground nutmeg

1/2 tsp salt

(I also added in some cinnamon)



Combine the sweet potatoes, parsnips, celery root, and apples in slow cooker.

In a small bowl, whisk together the broth, cider, nutmeg, salt, cinnamon, and pour over all.  Cover and cook according to slow cooker instructions, until vegetables are tender.  Partially puree with an immersion wand and adjust the seasonings to taste.  The celery root will be firmer than the other veggies, but should not be crunchy.

Wisconsin Weekend Part II

Let’s get back to the weekend!  I think I left off with the group heading up to the house to make dinner after a fun and exciting day of biking and boating!




While everyone was getting cleaned off and pitching in to make dinner, the BOY and I decided to introduce the gang to our favorite appetizer, Grilled Feta!




Nobody had ever heard of it, but they were more than willing to try it out.  We put a plate on the table, and people moved in and out of the room, stopping for bites of this warm gooey cheese.  They were very impressed, and by the time dinner was ready, there were only a few crumbles remaining!




Our friends are doing a CSA this year and they brought up this week’s share.  It included these sweet and delicious strawberries that I just had to snap a picture of!




My Mom and I were in charge of the dinner veggies.  Quite possibly, I spent more time eating berries and cheese, but I did manage to wash and cut a few veggies as well.  We made a huge fresh salad with the lettuce from the CSA.




Meanwhile, the men were in charge of the grill, with some assistance from this furry friend (most likely looking for handouts)!


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I must say, there was a lot of excitement and chatter going on near the grill area.



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Our dinner turned out fantastic…especially this basket of stirfry CSA vegetables!  And the teriyaki salmon was mouth watering perfection.  I told the BOY to take notes because cedar plank salmon is my FAVORITE grilled fish!


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After dinner, we headed outside for some wine and the sunset…two things that you know I LOVE!


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It looked like it was going to be a promising evening!

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We all gathered around the pier to watch the sun setting and my dad play with this fun new toy!


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Which he almost lost under the pier, but DID loose under the aqua patio!


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The rescue mission provided us with some much needed entertainment as the sky was cloudier than I realized and the sunset was a little bland.




I did manage to take a few pretty photos, but the conversations and laughter were the highlight of our night!



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That is until we all loaded back into the boat for some ice cream!


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There is an adorable little ice cream parlor on the other side of the lake, and we eagerly trekked in excited to try all of their unique flavors!


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Everyone loved their ice cream (and the chocolate turtle that we purchased)!  The BOY ordered a caramel sundae, which I must have eaten half of, and my Mom got this cotton candy ice cream that tasted EXACTLY like cotton candy.  I was a bigger fan of the chocolate fudge ice cream hiding underneath.




We all piled back into the house exhausted after our long day of eating and activity.  I happily flung myself up onto the top bunk above the BOY were I crashed immediately.  I was so happy and relaxed after a fun day in Wisconsin and feeling so grateful for the close friends and family that I have.  I was looking forward to our next morning together before the BOY and I had to return home to the real world.


Did you miss it???

Here is the first Wisconsin Weekend post!


And you can read about our 4th of July trip to Green Lake last year too!

Working for the Weekend

The work week is over, and the weekend is here!!!  As of today, I don’t work Fridays (at least for the next 10 weeks).  And what makes this even more fun is that the BOY has Fridays off this summer too!  I have basically come to the conclusion that this will probably be the last time that we will  have a weekday off, and we should take full advantage of it.  I stayed up a little later last night, but eventually pooped out after dinner, a walk, and some wine and music out back.  The BOY was out back with half the neighborhood hanging out and drinking until 12:30ish.  We had no set plans for today…just a list of fun things to do before our dinner reservation, so we slept in until 9AM.  I made us eggs for breakfast and we relaxed while we ate, waking up slowly with a little TV.  Around 11AM, we figured it was time to get moving.




Last summer, the BOY and I bought tennis rackets at Target one day.  They didn’t see a lot of action, mostly because I was awful and the BOY ended up running all over 2 courts trying to retrieve my balls.  I was eager to give tennis a try again.  I love the idea of any activity outdoors that the BOY and I can do together.  Let’s me honest, he isn’t going to take up running (those size 15 feet weren’t meant for marathons) and as of now, he doesn’t own a bike.


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I discovered these beautiful tennis courts on one of my bike rides and they are only a few miles from our house.  The entire park was nice and quiet, perfect for us to practice our game.


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For the record, I was much better this year than last year.  Although I have a LONG way to go before I can play in public, more of my shots landed on or near the court than in the bushes, which is a huge improvement.


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It made for a fun day for both of us!





I suggested that we make a standing Friday tennis date.  I’ll let you know how that goes : )


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On the way back to the car, the BOY stopped to play in the park.




Before going home, we had a few stops to make at the outdoor mall around the corner from the tennis courts.  We swung into Cooper’s Hawk to taste and pick up our May and June wine club wines.  I always love their light summer blends, and this white and red did not disappoint.




Then we stopped by the Produce Market, which opened last weekend.  I recognized some familiar faces, and I am so excited to have the market back at our local outdoor mall! 


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The rainbow of fresh fruits and vegetables available was impressive.  The BOY and I easily filled up my basket in just a few minutes.  The prices were unbelievable and the entire load cost us only $9!!!




We brought our food home to unload and then quickly changed into bathing suits.  Our next stop…the park district pool!




As I mentioned, the BOY joined the gym last week.  He has a gym and pool membership and brought home some guest passes.  I have been meaning to get into the pool for like, months.  The pool is only a mile or so away form our house, and as we were walking in, so were all of the summer camp kids.  The pool area was packed with kids, but there are always two lap lanes blocked off.  We considered backing out of the craziness in the water, but went for it, and I am so happy that we did.  I had some initial difficulty getting my cap and goggles situated, so I ditched the cap, stuck my goggles to face, and got swimming.  My stroke felt a little rusty, not as efficient as it should be, but I easily fell into a rhythm and with my head under the water, I forgot all about the screaming children. I swam for 15 minutes despite having some sore arms, and it really did feel good to be back cruising through the water.  The BOY and I spent some time chilling in the hot tub, and then came back home for lunch.  We threw together salads and sandwiches with whatever we could find in the house, and chatted about our fun Friday morning. 




We are taking a few hours to relax before heading out for dinner.  The BOY got a gift certificate to Reza’s one of his favorite restaurants near his old office.  He has been looking forward to using it, and I am always happy to try a new restaurant. It should be an enjoyable end to our action-packed day.  It’s looking like a good start to the summer with a lot more play days to come!