Friday, September 28, 2012

Grandma Spencer's Strawberry Spinach Salad

Yesterday was my dad, the "Big Man's", birthday.  In our family we don't go all out or anything for birthdays, but we did all head over to Mom and Dad's house to have a nice family dinner.  Mom had to work late yesterday and my offer of making dinner was turned down because it would've apparently taken too much time so we ended up ordering pizza for dinner.  As a nice little side to go along with our pizza I decided to make this strawberry spinach salad.

This salad is a family favorite.  When we were kids (well maybe not my brother who also wouldn't eat ketchup) we would always gobble it up even though it was full of spinach!  My Grandma Spencer used to always make it and it was a recipe that we made sure to get from our grandpa once she had passed away.  Now we make it for special dinners every once in a while or it's also great to take to pot lucks as well. 

And in case you were wondering, there was no cake for dessert, Dad is not a big cake person.  Instead we had brownies, his all time favorite.  My sister Avery made the brownies and added pecans to half of them because that's the way dad likes them.  (Well Dad would prefer the whole pan have nuts but some other people in the family are picky.)  

  • 12 oz fresh baby spinach
  • 2 tablespoons sesame seeds
  • 1/4 cup vegetable oil
  • 2 tablespoons cider or raspberry vinegar
  • 1-2 tablespoons sugar
  • 2 tablespoons minced green onion
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • dash of pepper
  • 1 pint strawberries, sliced

  1. Combine oil, vinegar, sugar, green onion, salt, and pepper in a small bowl.  Refrigerate for a couple of hours (or longer.)
  2. Toast sesame seeds at 350 degrees for about ten minutes (150 for about 5 minutes in a toaster oven.)
  3. Toss spinach, sesame seeds, dressing, and strawberries in a large bowl.  Enjoy!

Wednesday, September 26, 2012

Cheesy Jalapeño Stuffed Chicken

I'm back!  That's right, my last post was in May, can you even believe it!  I spent 8 weeks this summer in Europe studying abroad in Toledo, Spain and then doing a little backpacking as well with my fellow blogger Emily.  When I got back in mid-August who knows what happened because I had been wanting to cook and bake the entire time I was in gone.  For some reason it took until now to get things rolling again.  But here I am, finally back at it again and with this cheesy jalapeño stuffed chicken to get things started again.

Bear with me as I have downgraded my camera since my last post.  (My mom wanted hers back apparently.)  I'm thinking a new camera is going to be the main item on my Christmas list this year!  Not to mention I haven't really gotten this whole lighting and editing thing down yet.  My photography skills are a work in progress to say the least.

I hope you enjoy!  I served my chicken with roasted red potatoes, a simple vinaigrette salad, and a tall glass of milk to balance out the hotness from those jalapeños (I left the seeds in.)

Recipe adapted from Skinnytaste.


  • 2 slices center cut bacon, cooked and crumbled
  • 2 jalapeños (remove seeds if prefer more mild)
  • 3 oz 1/3 less fat cream cheese (about 1/3 cup)
  • 2 oz reduced fat shredded cheddar cheese (about 1/4 cup)
  • 2 oz shredded pepperjack cheese (about 1/4 cup)
  • 2 tablespoons green onion, chopped
  • 6 skinless chicken breast cutlets, about 3 oz each
  • 1/2 cup panko breadcrumbs with italian seasoning
  • 2 limes, juice of
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • salt and fresh pepper
  • olive oil non-stick spray
  1. Wash and dry chicken cutlets and season with salt and pepper.
  2. Preheat oven to 450 degrees.  Lightly spray baking dish with non-stick spray.
  3. In a medium bowl, combine cream cheese, cheeses, green onion, jalapeños and bacon crumbles.
  4. Lay out chicken cutlets and spread an equal amount of cheese mixture on each.  Roll each cutlet and secure ends with toothpicks.
  5. Combine olive oil and lime juice in a small bowl.  Place bread crumbs in another.
  6. Dip chicken in liquid mixture and then in bread crumbs.  Set seam-down in baking dish.
  7. Lightly spray top of chicken with olive oil spray.
  8. Cook for about 25 minutes and serve.

Red Tomato Hash

People have been asking me a lot lately how school is going. My response is usually its been going for three weeks too many. That is right people, can't a girl just be ready to be done with school? We have all been there, right?

The best part of my semester, maybe the second best class ever taken at UW-Madison, is my 50 minutes of relaxation twice a week. It is pretty awesome. We stretch, relax, clear our minds, focus on breathing, all that cool stuff. I'm going to be a zen relaxation machine come December.

You may wonder to yourself, what could be a more awesome class than that? A literature class dedicated to J.R.R Tolkien. What I have to read The Hobbit tonight? Well, I am not going to argue with that, ever. Speaking of being a total LOTR nerd, who is way excited for The Hobbit movie to come out December 14th? I don't even care that it is right before finals week, I will be there at midnight.

Enough LOTR nerd talk and on to this hash. It is pretty delicious and fairly easy. You roast some tomatoes, garlic and jalapenos. Don't be afraid to let the tomatoes get really blackened, it makes the salsa more thick and delicious. Add it all to a food processor, making it a chunky salsa consistency. Finally toss in some finely chopped onion and cilantro and done.

You can also double the tomato salsa and get salsa one day and hash the next. I do suggest, depending on how hot your peppers are, one jalapeno for salsa and two for hash. The peppers I used, where like crazy stupid hot. Locally grown for the win. Grocery store jalapenos, weak.

After you make the salsa you cook up some onion and other vegetables you have on hand, in a non-stick skillet, with a little oil. Then add some salsa to the skillet, letting it reduce and thicken. Finally add some roughly mashed potatoes, stirring occasionally letting everything get all golden delicious before shoveling into your mouth.


1 pound (3 medium) tomatoes
1-2 fresh jalapeno chiles
3 garlic cloves, unpeeled
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 small onion, finely chopped
1/3 cup chopped cilantro
1 1/2 teaspoons cider vinegar

1/2 small onion, chopped
1 medium red bell pepper, chopped
1 ear corn, kernels removed
3 cups roughly mashed red potatoes (from about 2 pounds boiled potatoes)
3 tablespoons vegetable oil

  1. Lay the tomatoes on a rimmed baking sheet and place about 4 inches under a hot broiler. Roast until blistered and blackened on one side, about 6 minutes. Remove the baking sheet from the oven, flipping the tomatoes over and adding the jalapenos. Return the baking sheet to the oven and continue to broil for 6 minutes, at 3 minutes, add the unpeeled garlic cloves to the baking sheet.
  2. Cool, then peel the skins off the tomatoes and garlic and stem and seed the jalapenos. In a food processor, grind the jalapenos, garlic and 1/2 teaspoon salt to a paste. Add the tomatoes to the paste, pulsing several times to achieve a coarse puree.
  3. In a strainer, rinse the onion under running water, shake off any excess and add to the salsa, along with the cilantro and vinegar. (At this point you could use this as a salsa or continue on to make the hash).
  4. In a large non-stick skillet over medium heat, fry the onion, pepper and corn in the vegetable oil for 5-8 minutes. Add 1 1/2 cups of the salsa and cook until thick and reduced, about 5 minutes. Finally stir in the 3 cups of coarsely mashed potatoes, continuing to fry and turn everything together until the potatoes brown and the mixtures holds together, about 5-10 minutes.
  5. Serve the hash with a fried or poached egg.
Adapted from Ricky Bayless

Thursday, September 20, 2012

Apple Crisp Pie

My mouth has been watering for fall food flavors since August! I've been waiting patiently to make apple pie for weeks! I finally decided it was a good time to buy some apples for this tasty treat. My boyfriend and I made sure to buy the best of the best apples for this recipe. The only place to go for those, is the Madison Farmers' Market! The absolute best stand for apples has to be Ten Eyck Orchard. That is where these honeycrisp apples are from. We decided on honeycrisp instead of a more traditional baking apple because we wanted extras to snack on. 

This was the first time I ever made pie, and I have to say I coming into it I was nervous but quickly found out making this was as easy as, well, pie. I was extremely nervous to make homemade crust. You have to do everything just right otherwise it is not flaky enough. Most people just skip it entirely and by store bought crust. I'm glad I didn't! The recipe I have for the pie crust was very simple and it was very delicious! It went perfectly with the apple crisp center. As for the meat of the pie, it is very simple. Besides the labor put into peeling and cutting 10 apples, it is a cinch!

This apple crisp pie is sweet and savory. Don't be nervous when the first piece taken out of the dish reveals a lot of juice. My honeycrisp apples were very juicy and left a pool. This is yummy to drizzle on top of your helping! Apart from the delicious apples and cinnamon, the crust and topping add a crunch! It is the perfect combination of apples and crisp that can be enjoyed warm or chilled.

Apple Crisp Pie with Homemade Pie Crust

Pie Crust
from Williams-Sonoma

1 1/4 c. flour
1 Tbsp. sugar
1/4 tsp. salt
1 stick cold to frozen butter
3 Tbs. very cold water (I measured my water out into a small cup, then I placed it into a bowl of ice)

1. Mix flour, sugar and salt in a large bowl.
2. Cut the butter into small chunks and place into bowl. With a pastry cutter, get the butter incorporated into the dry ingredients. Use knives or a fork if you do not have a pastry cutter.
3. Add the cold water and mix with a fork until the dough pulls together. I actually needed about a tablespoon more of water to get all the ingredients to stay together.
4. Place dough ball onto a floured surface and roll out using a rolling pin. Sprinkle flour on the rolling pin or dough if it sticks. Roll out until it fits into a 9-in pie pan.

Mrs. Mohoney's Apple Crisp 

10 apples
3/4 c. white sugar
3 tsp. cinnamon

For the Topping:
1 1/2 c. white sugar
1 c. flour
1 stick butter, softened

1. Peel and cut apples into tiny pieces
2. Mix apple pieces, sugar and cinnamon into a large bowl, making sure the apples are evenly coated.
3. Place mixture into a pie shell or for simply apple crisp, place in a buttered 8x8 baking dish.
4. Mix the topping ingredients together until it forms little pea sized balls.
5. Sprinkle on top of the apple mixture.
6. Bake at 375 for about 35-40 minutes.
7. Enjoy!

Sunday, September 16, 2012

Green Olive Red Noodles

I know, I have been MIA for way way too long. I'm sorry. You all really have no idea how anxious it makes me when I fall behind on posting. It feels like I'm letting you all down. I also like to believe I have loads of faithful followers.

My excuse? The end of summer, birthdays, my birthday, work and too much fun. It was all squeezed in last mintue. Then school came and at the exact same time, my computer decided to have a overheating problem. What a huge inconvinence for both my blogging and school, but mostly blogging. Can you say last semester senioritis?

Two weeks later, I'm back in business. In the process, I learned how computer dumb I am, when it was returned with a new harddrive. It only took me forever to reconfigure my computer. Thanks for taking out my harddrive, not. That isn't important though, there are way more important things to share with you all. Like this pasta being perfect for carbo loading before an epic open water race. That is what I was doing the other weekend, in Chicago.

Open water swimming, the best thing ever. Totally hooked on it or maybe hooked on the competition. I also totally dominated. Beinging totally honest, I wasn't in the best shape to swim a 2.5k, in wavy Lake Michigan. The waves were 2-3 feet, peaking at 4. Its nothing like an ocean, obviously, but don't laugh at my excitiment. The 4 practice swims in Lake Monana don't prepare a person for waves, only algae and gross fish and the occasional muskrat.

Besides all the awesomeness of the waves and algae free water, I placed 30th out of 321 (thats men and women). No big deal, top 10%. The 11th women, with a time of 40:06. Not bad, not bad at all for most of the training happening in the three weeks leading up to it.

Enough bragging and ramblings about swimming and onto the noodles. Our family loves making "red noodles" (recipe to come one day) and this is my version of it. I love olives and that is how this came to be. Feel free to add as much cayenne as you like and as many olives. This is just simple olive, tomato paste and carb goodness, in less than 20 minutes. The perfect fail safe or when you are in a rush or both.


1 pound cavatapi or bowtie noodles
1/4 cup olive oil
5 ounces tomato paste
1/3 cup chopped green olives with pimento
1/4 teaspoon granulated garlic
Cayenne pepper

  1. Bring a pot of water to a boil and cook noodles according to package instructions.
  2. In a medium pot, combine olive oil, tomato paste, olives, splash of olive juice, granulated garlic and cayenne pepper (to taste), over medium-low heat for 5 minutes.
  3. Drain the noodles (don't worry about draining them perfectly, a little water won't hurt) and add them to the tomato and olive mixture, stirring to combine well.


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