Chicken and Veggie Summer Rolls

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Want to *wow* your dinner guests with dish that looks way harder to make than it is?  Or!  Even better…have your guests make their own!  Summer rolls are the way to go – crunch, fresh veggies, fab dipping sauces, easy on the eyes, and a boost of protein with delicious chicken!

I highly advise gathering and preparing your ingredients ahead of time so the assembly line goes rather quickly!  Once your rice paper wrappings are wet, you’ll want to work fast to put together the ingredients and roll it all up.  Feel free to experiment with the veggies – radishes or purple cabbage would add a pretty splash of color!

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World’s Best Pasta Salad

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I recently was able to visit my family in Minnesota over Memorial Day Weekend!  Wow, what a good time.  The trip started off dog-free, as Dan and I boarded our dogs at doggy day care for the first time (I was a total nervous dog-mom!).  After a short few flights, we landed in Minneapolis with beautiful weather and not a care in the world!

A few trip highlights: our walk around Lake Harriet with a delicious picnic afterward, the classic (and mandatory) trip to Mall of America, helping my parents replace their piano (!), and three home-cooked meals!  Including mahi-mahi, steaks, delicious burgers, and this ULTIMATE PASTA SALAD!  I grew up with my mom making this fantastic side dish almost every weekend during the summer.  There’s just something about it that screams warm weather and summer-all-around with the fresh veggies and Mediterranean flavors.

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I implore you to mix up this fantastic, Greek-inspired, vinegar-loving pasta for your next outdoor barbeque!  You and your guests will not be disappointed – is a true classic.

World's Best Pasta Salad
Author: 
Recipe type: Side Dish, Pasta
Cuisine: Mediterranean
Prep time: 
Cook time: 
Total time: 
Serves: 8 servings
 
This classic, Mediterranean pasta salad is a fantastic side dish for barbecues and dinners at home over the summer! Keep in mind, these ingredients are measured "Sheila-style", which isn't exactly precise. Go with your gut!
Ingredients
  • 1 box whole wheat rotini pasta
  • ¼ cup olive oil, divided in half
  • ½ of a red, yellow, and green pepper diced
  • 1 heaping handful cherry tomatoes, cut in half
  • 1 heaping handful pitted kalamata olives, cut in half
  • ½ medium purple onion, diced
  • 1 cup crumbled feta cheese
  • 1 "dash" celery salt and garlic salt (about ½ tsp.)
  • 1 tbsp. balsamic vinegar
  • 2 tbsp. red wine vinegar, plus more to taste
  • Salt and Freshly ground black pepper to taste (about 1 tsp. each)
Instructions
  1. Boil the pasta according to the directions. Drain, toss with half the olive oil (2 tbsp.), and let chill in the fridge until close to meal time - you want it to be cold, so plan on having it in the fridge for about 1 hour.
  2. Prepare your vegetables - red, yellow, and green peppers, red onion, cherry tomatoes, and kalamata olives.
  3. Combine pasta with veggies, feta cheese spices, vinegars, and remaining olive oil (2 tbsp.).
  4. Taste and adjust as necessary - you want it to have a vinegary bite and plenty of pepper!

 

Spring Cleaning: Pet Deodorizing!

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Instead of a classic doggy “pupdate”, I wanted to share some pet deodorizing secrets I’ve recently uncovered!  If your dogs are anything like mine, they enjoy a nice snooze on the couch or a snuggle in our bed, which requires more than laundry.  The downside of having pets is that they can completely take over your home – which isn’t the most pleasant thing for guests!  Luckily, I’ve found a few tricks that will help remedy the situation.

Callie enjoying the new doggy pool!

Callie enjoying the new doggy pool!

  • Buy a doggy bed with a removable cover for easy cleaning.  Washing the cover and any blankets your dog may use on a monthly or biweekly basis is even more important than washing your own sheets when it comes to making your bedroom smell fresh!
  • “Clean” your mattress with an easy solution = baking soda and essential oil.  Mix 1 cup baking soda with 5-10 drops of your favorite, calming essential oil (lavender, chamomile, and ylang ylang are great options)!  Sprinkle on your bare mattress and let rest for 30-45 minutes.  Then, vacuum up with your upholstery attachment.  You’ll notice a fresh, relaxing scent take over the room!  This trick will also work on the bare surface of your doggy beds.
  • Pillows need some loving too!  Wash your pillows (two at a time) on the gentle cycle with warm water.  Then, dry on medium heat for about 25 minutes with a few clean tennis balls in the dryer.  They’ll smell fresh and fluffed with the help from the balls! (NOTE! Do not wash foam pillows!)  Using pillow covers under the pillow cases can help keep them fresher for a longer period of time.
  • Secret Dog Scent Source = their TOYS.  Our dogs have a lot of stuffed animals that can carry a doggy-scent that isn’t so pleasant.  Washing their toys once a month can keep their toy basket smelling fresh (not with other laundry!).

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  • Groom your pups!  Giving your doggies a bath on a monthly basis will keep them smelling fresh, help with shedding, and make their fur soft and lovable.  We use gentle oatmeal shampoo for our pups, since goldens can get dry skin from too much bathing.
  • Candles are a pet-owners best friend!  I’m a fan of fresh scents like lemon + herbs, amber, and lavender.  I’ve found that Target has the best candles for a reasonable price – check out the burn time on the bottom of the candles to make sure you’re getting your money’s worth!  Make sure you’re not just “masking” the pet odors – try all the other tips first, and then reward your spring cleaning with a new candle!

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  • Lastly, on a regular basis zoom around a vacuum and pay attention to nooks and crannies (especially in the cracks of couches!).  I have this vacuum and absolutely love it.  Make sure to clean out the squishy foam filter every month to keep it smelling fresh!  We also use this carpet cleaner about 4 times a year to help with the dirt and grime that the vacuum can’t get.  Check out Costco for deals on both of these items throughout the year!

Well, not food related in the least.  But, I hope I’ve helped with some tricks of the trade to my fellow pet owners out there!  Good luck with your Spring Cleaning!

Mexican Street Corn

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It’s been a while!  Finals season got a little dicey with 5 final projects and 88 pages to write.  But that’s long gone and I have 6 (SIX!?!?) weeks before medical school starts back up again!

Mini life update:

  • I recently signed up for my “track”, which is the order you take the med school rotations.  I’m starting with Family Medicine in July, quickly followed by Ortho!  I’m leaning towards Ortho at this point, so I’m excited to see how the day-to-day life is.
  • My trip to Nicaragua is closely approaching – we’re heading down there for a week in July to set up clinics and help everyone who lives there.  I’ve heard great things about this trip and I’m beYOND excited.  I’m also successfully vaccinated for Hepatitis and Typhoid Fever.  Win!
  • Since my last post, Dan and I schlepped all our stuff to a rental house!  One month later, everything is pretty much put together and the dogs LOVE the backyard.  His parents got him a grill for his birthday….which means lots of summer grilling recipes coming your way!

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On that note, without further ado…I present you the most indulgent/easy/delicious/knock-your-socks-off side dish.  And of COURSE it’s from the fabulous Chrissy Teigan cookbook that Dan got me for my birthday (smart man).  I’ve made a few things out of there, and each one is better than the next!  This one might take the cake.

Fun fact about me: I had braces for 7…s-e-v-e-n….years.  So corn wasn’t exactly my best friend. However, sweet corn was on sale at the grocery store (Kroger for the win!) and it looked delicious so I wanted to try and whip something up for a Mother’s Day barbecue.  And nothing says “crowdpleaser” more than corn charred, swiped with mayo, rolled in a parmesan-cotija-spices combo, and squeezed with a lime.

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Do yourself and your grill-friends a favor and whip this up for all the sunny get togethers this summer!  It won’t disappoint.

Mexican Street Corn
Author: 
Recipe type: Side Dish, Veggie
Cuisine: Mexican
Prep time: 
Cook time: 
Total time: 
Serves: 8 small pieces
 
This twist on classic grilled sweet corn was a serious crowd pleaser! One of many fantastic recipes from Chrissy Teigan's cookbook, Cravings.
Ingredients
  • 1 cup finely grated Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese
  • 1 cup crumbled cotija cheese
  • 1 tsp. freshly ground black pepper
  • 8 ears of corn, snapped in half
  • 2 tbsp. vegetable oil
  • 2 tsp. kosher salt
  • ⅓ cup mayonnaise
  • Cayenne pepper (or chili powder if you don't want spice)
  • ¼ cup fresh cilantro, chopped
  • Lime wedges for serving
Instructions
  1. Turn the grill on to medium heat. Allow to preheat for a bit.
  2. Combine the parmigiano, cotija, and black pepper on a large plate or baking sheet.
  3. Rub the corn and coat with vegetable oil. Season with salt.
  4. Cook on the grill, turning every few minutes, until each side is cooked and slightly charred (about 15 minutes total).
  5. Brush each warm piece with a thin layer of mayonnaise. Roll in the cheese mixture.
  6. Sprinkle with cayenne pepper/chili powder and cilantro.
  7. Serve warm with the lime wedges!

 

Recipe Roundup: Spiralized!

Spiralizer at Work!

Spiralizer at Work!

HI FRIENDS!  Sorry I’ve been so M.I.A. on the site – a lot of crazy things have happened!  My birthday/Easter celebration with friends and family both near and far was a HUGE success and a giant thank you to everyone!  Dan and I are moving this weekend and I didn’t want to leave you all stranded for another week – so I decided to put together a little sumthin’ sumthin’ for you all.

I recently bought a spiralizer – my favorite one is this easy to use, Paderno 3-blade model.  If you don’t have one – GET ONE!  They’re great for quick, easy meals (faster than pasta!) and have a TON of nutritional benefit!  Since a few people have been venturing into Spiralized World, they’ve asked for my recommendations for some recipes to try.

So here you go! 15 of my spiralized recipes that I’ve either made and loved or are high on my list of must-tries!  A few food blogs have mastered the spiralized method – namely Inspiralized (her entire site is based on this!)  She has a fantastic recipe index that is sorted by what veggie you’re cooking with, and there are a TON of options!  Check it out for inspiration.

NOTE: All food photography has been taken by these bloggers – all of which are some of my favorite sites to visit!

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Creamy Garlic Roasted Red Pepper Pasta by Pinch of Yum

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Tomato Basil Zucchini Pasta with Goat Cheese and Asparagus by Inspiralized – her blog is ENTIRELY spiralized vegetables!

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Zucchini Noodles with Cherry Tomato Garlic Cream Sauce and Breadcrumbs by How Sweet It Is

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15 Minute Spicy Shrimp with Pesto Noodles by Pinch of Yum

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Chicken Waldorf Salad Cups with Spiralized Apples by Inspiralized

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Spiralized Apple and Cabbage Slaw by SkinnyTaste

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Spiralized Bell Pepper Antipasto by Inspiralized

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Rainbow Vegetarian Pad Thai by Pinch of Yum

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Butternut Squash/Sweet Potato Mac and Cheese by Inspiralized

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Spiralized Sweet Potato Curly Fries (and awesome burgers) by How Sweet It Is

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Caprese Zucchini Salad by Foodiecrush

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Chicken Zucchini Noodle Soup by Inspiralized

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Asian Cucumber Noodle Salad by Two Peas and Their Pod

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Spiralized Tzatziki Cucumber Salad by Fit Foodie Finds

And here, on An Apple a Day:

Greek Shrimp Zoodles and Leftover Breakfast

Healthy Zucchini Noodle Ramen

Cajun Salmon with Asian Spiralized Salad

Chicken Parmesan with Zoodles

Irish Cream Cupcakes with Coffee Chocolate Buttercream Frosting

Woah.

Woah.

Happy St. Patrick’s Day!!!! I love, love, love this holiday.  Everyone is Happy-Go-Lucky, on the hunt for green beer, Lucky Charms, and classic corned beef and cabbage.  Not to mention, this year it coincides with March Madness which is doubly fun!  My class this afternoon put me up to the challenge to bring them a tasty treat, and I gladly obliged.

I knew I wanted something that fully takes on the spirit of the holiday – and what says that more than Lucky Charms and Baileys?  Plus Coffee!?  Sign me right up.  I’m pumped about how these turned out.  A little bit about the recipe….apple sauce?  In cupcakes?  It’s delish – and it adds such moisture to the cupcakes!  I love how they smelled like Baileys when I took them out of the oven!  And the coffee buttercream exceeded expectations!

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Chicken Pesto Stuffed Peppers

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Two fun facts about me: 1) I love stuffed peppers.  They’re very underrated.  You can put things you’d normally eat alone into a stuffed pepper and it’s a whole new meal!  With an added veggie! 2) I LOVE HOLIDAYS.  Like any holiday.  Halloween…Memorial Day…Valentine’s…ST. PATRICK’S DAY!  All week I’ve been planning “green meals”, which inspired these delicious, GREEN PESTO PEPPERS. 

Full Disclosure – I tried making a “skinny shepherd’s pie!” and it…didn’t exactly turn out.  Not to mention shepherd’s pie is not a pretty dish to photograph.

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Deviled Egg Salad

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Spring has sprung and Easter is on its way!  When I was growing up, my mom always hard boiled eggs and rested them in these adorable, ceramic Easter bunny holders.  She took a seemingly boring snack and made it fun – my favorite way to serve food.  I am a sucker for these eggs – rolled in salt and pepper, mixed with avocado on toast, and made into creamy, tangy deviled eggs with a kick.

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Why not have the best of both worlds?  This snack/breakfast/light lunch is great to make ahead of time and when paired with crispy toast (sourdough is my favorite, but Ezekiel bread makes a great healthy option!)  I couldn’t nix mayonnaise entirely, but I mixed it with plain greek yogurt for a protein boost.

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FUN TRICK!  I’ve tried everything in the book when it comes to making “perfect”, easy-to-peel hard boiled eggs.  And, I think I finally found the answer – steaming them!   I fill a big pot up with about an inch of water, turn on high, and place the eggs in a steaming basket (or a colander) in one layer, cover, and steam for 15 minutes.  If you have to stack on top of each other, add a few extra minutes.  After a quick ice bath, they’re ready to eat.  They turn out perfectly every single time and the shell slips right off of them!

If you make extra Easter eggs this year, use this salad to use them up!

Deviled Egg Salad on Toast
Author: 
Recipe type: Breakfast, Snack
Prep time: 
Total time: 
Serves: 2 open faced sandwiches
 
Try this twist of a egg salad and deviled eggs!
Ingredients
  • 2 hard boiled eggs, chopped
  • 2 slices of bacon, fried and crumbled
  • 1 tbsp. light mayonnaise
  • 1 tbsp. plain green yogurt
  • 1 tsp. dijon mustard
  • 1 green onion, chopped
  • ½ tsp. paprika
  • ¼ tsp. cayenne pepper
  • Salt and fresh cracked pepper
  • Two slices of bread, toasted - I like sourdough for a "splurge" and Ezekiel bread as a healthy choice
Instructions
  1. Combine all your ingredients in a bowl and mix until combined.
  2. Toast bread until crispy.
  3. Top each piece with half the egg salad mixture, top with additional pepper, and enjoy!

 

Spicy Adobo Turkey Chili

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I am a MASSIVE Green Bay Packer fan.  Like beyond a fan.  A part “owner”, seeing as the Packers are the only NFL team that are publicly owned.  Football season has turned into quite the tradition in our family – we manage up to 5 fantasy football teams, I cheer for Michigan on Saturdays and Green Bay on Sundays, I spend the week discussing lineups with my dad, and I plan football watching menus all season long!  A huge staple on any game day buffet table is a good, tasty, tons-o-toppings chili.

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Normally, I’d wait to spread the joy until next season.  BUT, seeing as we just got a snowstorm last night, it seems mighty appropriate!  What do they say about March?  In like a lion and out like a lamb?  Yeah.  That’s definitely happening.

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Bacon Bourbon Jam and Baked Brie

The only picture I could capture before people started digging in!

The only picture I could capture before people started digging in!

Back in college, I had three main food groups – Eggo (waffles), Choco(late) , and Baco(n).  Let’s be clear…I was NOT a good cook in college.  My life’s motto was, “How is Maddy going to use her toaster oven today?”, which resulted in a lot of quesadillas, broiled hot dogs, dino nuggets, and Eggo waffles.  It was by FAR my favorite kitchen appliance.

Now, I occasionally eat weird foodie whole grain waffles with fruit, antioxidant-filled dark chocolate, and last, but most certainly not least, a lot of bacon.  Good ol’, thick cut, salty, fatty bacon.  Balance, right?  Or something like that…

So, when I was brainstorming potential burger toppings, I wanted to try and make homemade bacon jam.  I’ve seen it on charcuterie boards in restaurants and thought it couldn’t be THAT hard, so I went at it!  The process took a while, but it was incredibly rewarding.  What resulted was this delicious, savory jam that I couldn’t wait to try on everything.  We ate it on burgers that night which was DELISH – and I had some leftover and my mind started turning for the perfect appetizer combination that would wow a crowd.  Bacon and Brie!  Classic combination!

I used a variation of this recipe to create the jam.  Check it out below and let me know what you all think!

Bacon Bourbon Jam and Baked Brie
Author: 
Recipe type: Appetizer
Prep time: 
Cook time: 
Total time: 
Serves: 6 appetizer servings
 
This bacon jam and baked brie will definitely impress a crowd! The jam will keep for some time in your fridge, so you can make ahead of time and quickly assemble this appetizer.
Ingredients
For the Bacon Jam:
  • 1 lb thick cut bacon
  • 2 tsp. butter
  • 2 yellow onions, finely chopped
  • 1 tsp. salt
  • 1 tsp. dry thyme
  • 3 tbsp. brown sugar
  • 3 tbsp. sherry vinegar
  • 2 tbsp. bourbon
  • 1 tsp. freshly ground black pepper
  • 1 pinch cayenne pepper
  • ⅓ cup of water
  • 2 tsp. balsamic vinegar
  • 2 tsp. olive oil
  • 1 medium wheel of brie
  • 1 sleeve of savory crackers (I chose cracked pepper flavor)
Instructions
  1. Using a cast iron pan, cook the bacon strips until crispy, then set aside. You may need to do this in 2-3 sets because you don't want to overcrowd the pan.
  2. Drain excess bacon grease into a bowl.
  3. Chop your bacon into small pieces.
  4. Put two tsp. of bacon grease back into pan and add butter. Saute onions over medium heat until translucent - about 7 minutes.
  5. Add salt, thyme, brown sugar, sherry vinegar, bourbon, pepper, and cayenne pepper to pan and stir until combined.
  6. Add water and bacon. Stir consistently until mixture results in a "jammy" texture and a red/brown color - about 20 minutes.
  7. Remove from the heat and stir in balsamic vinegar and olive oil.
  8. To heat the brie: Wrap in aluminum foil and bake for about 8-10 minutes (around 375 degrees). Preheat jam before serving. You'll have plenty of extra jam with this recipe.
  9. Serve with crackers and enjoy!