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smells like fall + veggie soup recipe perfection

September 24, 2014

a vegetable soup that's perfect for fallDo you think you can smell seasons? Seriously. Stick with me, but I swear to God I can smell it when the seasons change. The mildewy scent of the leaves, turning from greens to oranges and reds. Or the temperature getting colder and transforming the sweaty, sticky scents into something cleaner and crisper…you probably think I’m nuts. I know Ryan does–he still thinks it’s hilarious I say I can smell a sneeze (for the record, I can!).

I feel like everyone talks about what a transitional season fall is, and I couldn’t agree more. After returning from our honeymoon, I felt a renewed sense of drive and energy for my career, my life goals, my hobbies, passions and even my loved ones.

a vegetable soup that's perfect for fall a vegetable soup that's perfect for fallAnd maybe it’s jumping the gun a bit, but coming back from Italy–with the pizza on pasta on croissants–I was seriously craving some veggies. Even though Ryan and I had to head to my parents’ place for the weekend, thereby negating the need for a full grocery haul, we still ran to Jewel to snatch up some vegetables for (drum roll) a thick, perfect-for-fall vegetable soup.

You know I love my soups thick (terrible word, I know). So be prepared. This soup def has more veggies than broth and is uber easy to make. But that’s how I like it.

Essentially, you throw tons of veggies in a slow cooker with some vegetable broth, one cut-up russet potato, and about a teaspoon of sea salt, a pinch or two of curry powder and 1/2 tablespoon of red pepper flakes. Set on low for 8-9 hours and serve with goat cheese crumbles! Will say that the seasoning in this dish is definitely personal preference, but it should have a slight spice to it. The spice is nicely balanced out by the goat cheese crumbles, so both components are muy importante.

a vegetable soup that's perfect for fall a vegetable soup that's perfect for fallHope you enjoy it as much as I did!

vegetable dump soup
Prep time
Cook time
Total time
An easy, Autumn vegetable soup.
Recipe type: Soup
  • 1 brown potato
  • 1 box of organic vegetable broth
  • 1 bag of baby carrots
  • ¼-1/2 bag of frozen corn
  • ¼-1/2 bag of frozen peas
  • ¼-1/2 bag of frozen beans
  • 3 stalks of celery, cut-up
  • 1 teaspoon sea salt
  • ½ tablespoon crushed red pepper flakes
  • Pinch or two of curry powder
  • Goat cheese crumbles
  1. Put all ingredients, except for the goat cheese, in slow cooker on low for 8-9 hours (or until potato pieces are soft). Serve with goat cheese crumbles on top.
  2. Should have a slight spicy flavor that's balanced out by the goat cheese.

Funny side story: We had a family friend visiting as I snapped these pictures she nonchalantly asks, “So why are you taking pictures of your soup?” Just like, a casual question. Which was sweet of her, but set Ryan and I off because to everyone else it probably looks really weird. #bloggerproblems



cauliflower crust mini pizzas

July 11, 2014

perfectly crusted cauliflower pizzasI can’t believe it’s a Friday. This week both flew by, and felt like it was the longest week of my life.

I started the week off by taking the week off of working out. My “ladies days” are coming up, and I’ve been extremely busy with Funky Rooster, the blog and planning our wedding (50ish days and counting). I just needed a rest and recharge week. Especially when I’m planning on upping my workouts even more over the next 4 weeks  (more intense circuits, adding HIIT training and hopefully some nighttime yoga). The good thing is every time I stop working out, I just miss it more. My body craves it like a drug. I get all jumpy in my own skin, and nothing feels right or tight. So I’ll be happy to start back up on Sunday (after a much-needed, relaxing Saturday spent reading and getting my life in order).

perfectly crusted cauliflower pizzasI’ve also started trying to eat even healthier than I was before.

At this point, without trying, my diet is about 65-70% health food. But that remainder is what’s keeping me from having my ideal wedding day body (forget the bikini body, I need the wedding dress body!). I’ve even created a secret Instagram account where I’m documenting every meal I eat, in order to hold myself better accountable.

So far it’s actually working. Last night, rather than tear apart and gulp down all our leftovers (from a client photo shoot), I actually only had about half of each. Which might sound like more, but was actually far less than I planned on eating. I even paused! I never pause. Gotta do whatever works best for you, I figure. And I’m hoping that this workout break + new documenting of meals = stepping it up in the gym & in the kitchen in next two months = results I’m hoping for. I’ll, obviously, keep you updated.

perfectly crusted cauliflower pizzasIn the meantime, I thought I would share one of my new favorite meals with you: cauliflower pizza.

Now, there are tons of cauliflower pizza recipes out there. I know because I’ve attempted cauliflower pizza in the past and had absolutely no success with it. The crust was soggy and Ryan could taste the difference all too quickly (he’s such a texture person). But using this recipe, I have had nothing but success. Ryan absolutely loves them (I’ll give you one guess as to which pizzas are his) and it even fills him up! Plus, the recipe is made for  one perfectly proportioned size, which you can then double if you want to make an extra pizza. This also gives you leeway if your *coughcough* tastes are different.

His pizza

Topped with shredded cheddar, shredded mozzarella and pepperoni.


My pizza

Topped with shredded mozzarella, red and yellow belly peppers (pictured below) and a bit of shredded mozzarella, mozzarella pearls, arugula and cherry tomatoes (pictured way above) and could have been drizzled with balsamic vinegar after it came out of the oven for a really caprese-type pizza.

perfectly crusted cauliflower pizzasBon appetite and have a wonderfully relaxing weekend!


portobello mushroom burgers with goat cheese (for people who aren’t fans of mushrooms)

April 30, 2014

portobello mushroom burgerI used to love mushrooms, until one day I couldn’t stand them. I’m trying to adjust that because I know they are good for you, but I won’t lie–I still pick most of them off my pizzas…and everything else. However, the one place I don’t seem to mind mushrooms? In burger form.

The other day, while at an edit for work, we ordered from Hannah’s Bretzel here in Chicago. First of all, if you are ever in the area you HAVE to stop by. It is seriously, insanely good food. I ordered the (surprise) portobello mushroom burger, which came with a side of chips. And let’s just say, my stomach was smiling and that meal was all I could talk about for two days. Not kidding.

portobello mushroom burger portobello mushroom burgerWell, after that experience, I had to figure out a way to make my own portobello mushroom burgers. Luckily, my first attempted worked out amazingly! And if you’re ever in my neighborhood, I’d love for you to stop by and we’ll cook some up together. That’s how much I love this dish. But, until then, I guess you’ll have to settle for the recipe. Enjoy!

portobello mushroom burgerportobello mushroom burger

portobello mushroom burgers
Prep time
Cook time
Total time
Portobello mushroom burgers for people who aren't a fan of mushrooms.
Recipe type: Dinner/Lunch
Serves: 2
  • 2 portobello mushroom tops
  • 3 tablespoons soy sauce
  • ½ cup olive oil
  • 1 tablespoon dijon mustard
  • olive oil cooking spray
  • bun
  • goat cheese
  • arugula
  1. Start by cleaning the mushrooms using a wet towel. Pat dry.
  2. Next, combine the soy sauce, olive oil and dijon mustard into a bowl. Stir with a spoon and pour into a Ziploc bag.
  3. Place mushrooms in the bag and let marinate for at least 30 minutes.
  4. Preheat oven to 400º and spray a baking sheet with olive oil cooking spray.
  5. Put mushrooms face up on the sheet (making sure they aren't carrying too much "juice").
  6. Place in oven for 15 minutes, take out and flip mushrooms. Then bake for another 15 minutes.
  7. While the mushrooms finish baking, take out the goat cheese and apply somewhat generously to both sides of the bun. The cheese will be crumbly at first, so place the bun (with the cheese) in the microwave for 15 seconds. Take out to check it, then put it back in the microwave for 15 seconds. By this time, the cheese will be soft. Take a knife and spread cheese, covering each side of the bun.
  8. Place a handful of arugula on one side of the bun, pull mushroom out of the oven and add to the other half of the bun.
  9. Boom, portobello mushroom burgers!


P.S. My fiance is a huge texture person, so I will say most people who have “texture issues” with food, probably won’t be able to get over the difference between a burger and a mushroom, even though it is seriously delicious. Just a heads up on that! 😉 



mom’s meals: tuna rice cakes

April 18, 2014

delish tuna rice cake recipe - midwestlovefestNow this isn’t a 100% healthy dish. I definitely consider this a bit of a cheat meal, but it is oh so worth it.

I’m not sure where my mom originally got the recipe, but it was the first meal she ever cooked for Ryan when he first met my family (so it holds an extra-special place in my heart). Plus, per usual, the kid was skeptical of the meal…until he took a bite. I swear, you can’t argue with these little cakes.

delish tuna rice cake recipe - midwestlovefestdelish tuna rice cake recipe - midwestlovefestdelish tuna rice cake recipe - midwestlovefestDon’t you love my Barney plate? So chic. It’s time’s like these that you reflect on what an “adult” you’ve become. Speaking of which, Ryan and I are doing some very big wedding things this weekend–today is the food tasting and tomorrow I’m buying my dress and going cake tasting. Needless to say, small portions will be my blessing this weekend unless I want to be a balloon in my dress and undo all my hard work.

tuna rice cake recipe - midwestlovefestdelish tuna rice cake recipe - midwestlovefest

mom's meals: tuna rice cakes
Prep time
Cook time
Total time
Cuisine: Dinner
Serves: 3
  • 2 cups rice, cooked
  • 1 6-oz can tuna, drained & flaked
  • 1 cup cheddar cheese, shredded
  • 6 tablespoons bread crumbs
  • 2 tablespoons minced onion
  • ¼ teaspoon pepper
  • 2 each eggs, slightly beaten
  • Olive oil spray
  1. In large bowl, stir together, rice, tuna, cheese, 4 tablespoons bread crumbs, onion, pepper & eggs until well blended.
  2. Shape mixture firmly into patties.
  3. Coat with remaining bread crumbs. (Patties can be prepared ahead & refrigerated until ready to cook)
  4. Spray large skillet with cooking spray.
  5. Put on medium heat and add patties.
  6. Cook until browned on both sides.

However you’re spending your holiday weekend, enjoy it!

Dinner Educate Meals

how to cook a spaghetti squash fast

March 12, 2014

spaghetti squash - midwestlovefestIs it just me or is spaghetti squash like the new “it” veggie? Personally, I prefer it over most squashes and am still surprised when people freak out about spaghetti squash just because they don’t know how to cook it. Well worry no longer! It’s easy peasy lemon squeezy (or I wouldn’t be able to cook it, I promise you).

spaghetti squash - midwestlovefest spaghetti squash - midwestlovefestspaghetti squash - midwestlovefest

how to cook spaghetti squash

1. Let the spaghetti squash sit out a few days. Personal preference, but I swear it’s like a banana and has to ripen.

2. Preheat the oven to 350°F.

3. Cut the spaghetti squash in half the long way.

4. Spoon out the seeds (pumpkin carving style!)

5. Fill a pan with about 1/2-1 inch of water. Place halves, rind-side down, in pan and bake for about 45 minutes.

spaghetti squash - midwestlovefest6. Take out of oven and let cool. Then, using a fork, rake the length of the spaghetti squash. You should come up with spaghetti-like tendrils. Do this to the sides too, to get as much squash as possible.

7.Enjoy with sauce, pesto or other veggies! And with 165 calories for the whole squash (which, by the way, fills you up pretty quickly!) you can indulge in your spaghetti craving without the guilt (or carb belly).

spaghetti squash - midwestlovefest