I love going back and looking at my Google search history at the end of the day.  I always find it funny to see my random progression of thoughts, and today was no exception!

Verbatim Google Search History
– polycythemic
– how long is milk good after the expiration date?
– hydramnios / polyhydramnios
– attenuated definition
– causes of congenital diaphragmatic hernia
– how to calculate standard deviation
– recipe clone for pf changs garlic noodles
– what germ layer forms esophageal muscle
– traveler’s insurance commerical song
– how to draw a frog
– is glee new tonight?

From these virtual clues, one might gather (a) that I was studying for an embryology test, and (b) I was hungry.  Yes and YES.

After taking care of step (a) on my agenda, my growling stomach was begging me to now take care of (b).  Feeling ravenous, I headed straight home after my test, only to be greeted by a mountain of dirty clothes and an empty refrigerator.  Anyone who has ever been to my  apartment knows washing clothes hovers around 57th on my chore ranking preference, so judging by the avalanche overtaking my laundry room, I was in for a long night!

Once all the clothes were sorted into 7 neat little piles, I decided to address the empty refrigerator problem.  After a few minutes of digging, I found a crumpled box of cinnamon burst cheerios in the back of my pantry, and poured a big ole’ glob of milk right on top of them.  Yes, you read that correctly- apparently in answer to my second search above, 2 weeks is too long.

Since the ketchup and jar of jalepenos in the fridge showed about the same promise for deliciousness as the milk, I threw load number 2 of clothes in the drier and got in the car to search for sustenance.  Not even one mile from home, I see Burger King, and the potent smell of a Jr. Whopper called out to me like a siren’s song.  Just as I am about to turn on my blinker to give in to my instantaneous craving, what tiny will power I had left about the situation kicks in and I keep driving.  A few minutes later, I find myself in a deserted Kroger at 11:30 at night with no list and no ideas. 

I stopped at the produce first, finding  it almost luxurious to shop in the empty store without being bumped by over-zealous cart drivers and waiting on acutely critical apple examiners.  Ultimately, I settled on 2 packs of luciously red strawberries and a package of goat cheese.  By this point, I had an idea so I grabbed some pecans and strawberry jam and was out the door.

If you have ever eaten the strawberry salad at Julep in Jackson, I bet you know where this is going.  “Fresh strawberries, candied pecans, and goat cheese served over field greens with a strawberry balsamic vinaigrette”.  If you aren’t salivating now, I guarantee you will be after you see the pictures!

Here is my {late night} interpretation of this delicious salad:

Here’s what you’ll need.

The first step of this recipe is making the deliciously sweet and crunchy candied pecans.  Grab some sugar, a little bit of butter, and about 1/2 cup of pecans. {you’ll also need some vanilla extract, too – my vanilla somehow escaped the photo shoot!}

If you want to throw this together in a hurry or if you just don’t feel like making your own sugary little gems, feel free to substitute any kind of  store bought candied pecans {I found the praline pecans above by the checkout line at walmart}

If this candying thing does sound right up your alley, keep reading!

Melt 2 teaspoons of butter over medium heat.  Stir in 2 tablespoons of sugar and 1/2 cup of pecans.  Turn the heat to medium/high and stir the mixture constantly with a wooden spoon until the sugar begins to boil and turns a golden brown-ish color {this took my pecans about 3 minutes}.  Remove the pot from the heat and stir in 1/8 teaspoon of vanilla. {it will bubble and hiss, beware!}

Immediately pour the pecans onto a silpat / parchment and cool.  That’s it.  Easy as pie! 

Now it’s time to address these beauties.  Out of all the fruits in the world, there are none I love more than strawberries.  Seeing them in grocery stores makes me pine for summer, and they taste even better when bought on the side of the road off the tailgate of a pick-up truck {or is that just a Mississippi thing?}

Rinse and slice the berries. 

The next {and last!} step is to mix up some yummy strawberry balsamic vinaigrette.  Put 1/4 cup strawberry jam or preserves {I used low-sugar preserves} in a small bowl and add 1 tablespoon of water.  Microwave on high for 30 seconds.

Next whisk in 1 tablespoon of olive oil and 4 tablespoons balsamic vinegar.  Season with salt and pepper.

Here we go, ready to assemble this thing and make someone’s mouth very happy.

Fill 2 large plates with assorted field greens.  Layer half of each ingredient {strawberries, pecans, then goat cheese} on the greens.  Drizzle with dressing, and voilà!

Bryan and I have eaten this salad for lunch the past 3 days and I still haven’t stopped craving it!  I hope you’ll love it too!

Strawberry Salad with Candied Pecans and Goat Cheese

– 4 cups field greens
– 1 1/2 cups fresh strawberries, sliced
– 2 ounces goat cheese, crumbled
– 1/2 cup candied pecans (recipe follows)
– 3 Tablespoons strawberry balsamic vinaigrette (recipe follows)

for candied pecans
– 1/2 cup pecans
– 2 teaspoons butter
– 2 Tablespoons white sugar
– 1/8 teaspoon vanilla

for vinaigrette
– 1/4 cup strawberry jam
– 1 Tablespoon extra virgin olive oil
– 4 Tablespoons balsamic vinegar
– salt and pepper, to taste

Melt butter over medium heat.  Increase to medium/high heat and add sugar and pecans.  Stir constantly with a wooden spoon until the sugar becomes bubbly and golden.  Remove from heat and add vanilla extract.  {the mixture will bubble}.  Immediately transfer pecans to a silpat or parchment paper to cool.

For the vinaigrette, combine strawberry jam with 1 tablespoon water.  Microwave on high for 30 seconds.  Next whisk in olive oil and balsamic vinegar.  Season with salt and pepper.

To assemble salad, top 2 cups of greens with 3/4 cup strawberries, 1/4 cup pecans, and 1 ounce goat cheese.  Drizzle on 3 tablespoons of vinaigrette.

{this recipe makes 2 salads}