Buffalo Chicken Grilled Blue Cheese

>> Monday, August 29, 2011

I love Buffalo Sauce! I like it on hot wings, Buffalo chicken pizza, in buffalo ranch chicken dip, just about anything. I'll find something to put it on.

I also like to eat hot wings - but I'm a HUGE wuss. I love the buffalo wing flavor, but I have to eat it in mild form, or else my nose starts running, my eyes are watering, and I start panting like a dog because it's so hot! (at least to me).

Last week, Archie and I went on our date night to Smoke Eaters. It's a local wings bar and grill type restaurant that was featured on man vs. food on the Travel Channel. They have a "hellfire challenge" that requires you to eat 12 of their hottest wings in 10 minutes with no drinks and no napkins.

Can I just say... I think that is INSANE!!! When we were there, we saw a guy attempt. Notice, I said attempt. He ate about 2 and a half and he was literally drooling and snotting all over the place, waving his hands around, and screaming. People were taking video of him, poor guy! I bet he didn't think that when he was getting taped, he wasn't going to finish all of them. The worst part is, the only thing you get is a polaroid picture of yourself and a t-shirt if you do it.

Really??? That's all??? What's the point! :) I'm sorry for those of you who have it in you to try things like this. I'm definitely not an adventurer!

In my effort to create a MILD version of the buffalo flavor, I attempted this buffalo chicken grilled cheese sandwich. I saw a version on Pinterest. (P.S. Have you joined Pinterest yet?? If not, you should! It's amazing. You can follow me here). I needed to tweak it a bit since I didn't really care for mayonnaise being the base of my sandwich. So, I ended up changing half the recipe, but the final result was awesome!

I used Frank's buffalo sauce with ranch and blue cheese and the combo was quite tasty!

Buffalo Chicken Grilled Blue Cheese Sandwiches (Adapted from: Closet Cooking)
Serves 4

Print Recipe

2 boneless skinless chicken breast, cooked and chopped/shredded
1/3 cup ranch dressing (I used a light version)
1/4 cup Frank's Red Hot wing sauce (or other version of wing sauce, I just like Frank's the best)
1/3 cup crumbled blue cheese
8 slices crusty bread (I used sourdough, and it was delicious)

1. In a large mixing bowl, combine shredded chicken, ranch, wing sauce and blue cheese and stir to combine.
2. Butter slices of bread, and layer chicken mixture on top, spreading evenly among the four sandwiches.
3. Cook over low-medium heat until browned on both sides and chicken mixture is warmed through and cheese is melted. Enjoy!!


Dreaming... (and a yummy Italian salad)

>> Sunday, August 28, 2011

I'm dreaming of Italy....

Cinque Terre, the Amalfi Coast, Tuscany, so many wonderful things to see and do...

A cooking class, taxi rides in boats, hiking, reading, shopping, eating..... lots and lots of eating....
As the trip is getting closer (just a month away!!!), I'm getting so excited. Anyone been? Have any good recommendations of must see places or eats?
In anticipation, Archie and I spent a few hours at an "Italia Festa" in our local Little Italy. It was very Americanized, but it was fun to anticipate a bit about what's to come!
So many colors, so much food, delish!

Fried Zuchinni Rounds - made fresh!

The hubs got 'sausage and peppers' - looks disgusting to me, but hey, to each his own.
Yum Yum!
He's a handsome guy!

Sfingi - crazy good little Italian doughnuts. Fried dough - what more can I say.

We are going with some friends to Italy, and we've made it a tradition, that when we get together to plan anything, we MUST have an Italian meal. It only seems right.
The last time we got together, I made this delicious salad! Heirloom tomatoes, mozzarella, and a kalamata olive vinaigrette. It's topped with a healthy dose of chopped basil which add such a fantastic touch .
Beautiful Heirloom Tomatoes

This recipe is simple and quick, and perfect for those last of the summer beautiful red and juicy tomatoes. My friend Erin made this wonderful salad for me and was kind enough to pass on the recipe - so I have no idea where it originates from since she was kind enough to jot it down on a yellow steno. :)

Heirloom Tomato & Mozzarella Salad with Kalamata Olive Dressing (From: Erin)

For dressing -
3/4 cup olive oil
1/2 cup kalamata olives
5 tablespoons red wine vinegar

For Salad -
5 ounces fresh mixed greens
3 pounds heirloom tomatoes
1 pound fresh mozzarella
1/4 cup fresh basil, thinly sliced

1. Place kalamata olives and red wine vinegar in food processor or blender. Begin to process and drizzle in olive oil until completely blended/emulsified. Set aside.
2. Chop tomatoes, mozzarella, and basil. Line lettuce on large serving platter, then layer with tomatoes, mozzarella, and basil. Drizzle vinaigrette on top. I drizzled a bit, and served the rest on the side so everyone could decide how much they wanted. Serve, and enjoy!


Salted Caramel Corn

>> Monday, August 22, 2011

Whew.... is it really only Tuesday??

It feels like it should be at least Thursday....

I feel like I'm recuperating from last week, when Archie and I had something going on EVERY single night of the week. How do we let our schedules get that way?

We keep saying we're going to slow down, and then we turn around and we have something booked for all week. This week we mandated ourselves to have nothing going on... but my body is only just beginning to catch up from the madness of a crazy busy week, and a fun, but busy weekend!

There is something really fun about having a lot going on, and having a full schedule, and seeing lots of people, enjoying and connecting with others. We love it, sometimes we thrive off of it... but there's also a need to just be still every once in a while, enjoy time together, and just sit on the couch and do nothing! Date nights are also crucial for us... and when we jam pack our schedule, we feel like our eyes are drooping when we're out having a date night.
Salted Caramel Corn over coffee bean ice cream.... yes, please!

My time alone with God suffers too... I find myself going to bed late, and then I wake up late as a result. I sleep in until the very last possible second with leaving myself just enough time to get ready for work, and in the midst of it - I nix my time to sit out on the back porch, journal, Bible, and coffee in hand, and embrace all that God has for me that day. Then I'm running out the door, hurried, rushed, and with a bad attitude - and it isn't even 9am.

So, this week, we're just relaxing! Going to bed early.... getting back into good habits... enjoying date night... having a little fun too, but overall we're readjusting!

Can anyone else relate?? Why is it that when we ask people how they are, everyone ALWAYS says, "Good.... but busy!".

Anywho, Here's some super yummy caramel corn - not just any caramel corn, but salted caramel corn! YUM. It has a pinch of saltiness with caramely, buttery sweetness, and mixed together makes a great snack or dessert. And if you feel so inclined, add a little chocolate drizzled on top, and it reminds me of Harry and David's Moose Munch... YUM!
Salted Caramel Corn in a cone... which reminds me of the fair in the fall... and we all know how much I love fall! :)

Salted Caramel Corn (Adapted from Food 52)

3 tablespoons vegetable or canola oil
1/2 cup white corn kernals

1 cup brown sugar
8 tablespoons (1 stick) unsalted butter
1/2 cup heavy cream
3 teaspoons sea salt
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
3 ounces milk or semisweet chocolate
1/2 tablespoon vegetable or canola oil


1. Preheat oven to 300 degrees F. Spray sheet pan with cooking spray and set it aside for later.

2. In a large stock pot or dutch oven, add 3 tablespoons of vegetable oil over medium heat with 3 kernels of the popcorn. Place the lid on top and wait until you hear the popcorn pop. That's when you know the oil is hot enough to add the rest.
3. Once you hear them pop, add the rest of the popcorn with the lid almost all the way on, and continue popping until it slows, almost stopping. Check them at this point, because nobody likes burnt popcorn! :) Remove from heat, set in a bowl, and set aside.
4. In a separate small saucepan, combine brown sugar, butter, heavy cream, and salt. Bring to a boil.
5. Reduce heat to allow caramel mixture to simmer, and simmer for 5 minutes, stirring frequently. Remove from heat and add in vanilla - allow to cool slightly.
6. Pour caramel mixture over popcorn in bowl and mix thoroughly, allowing popcorn to be fully coated. You might have to use your hands for this step.
7. Spread popcorn evenly and in one single layer over baking tray, and I sprinkled with a bit of extra brown sugar for luck. Bake for 30 minutes, stirring every 10 minutes. If popcorn is still mushy at 30 minutes, cook for another 10 minutes. Popcorn will not be "dry" at this point, but should be crunchy. Spread onto parchment paper to allow to cool.
8. Mix together 3 ounces chocolate and oil and heat until melted. Drizzle mixture over cooled popcorn and allow to harden (I threw mine in the freezer for a few minutes). Break apart with spoon into smaller pieces, and enjoy! Store in a tupperware or sealable container to keep from getting stale and mushy.


National Smore's Day

>> Wednesday, August 10, 2011

Did you know today is National Smore's Day!?!?! I think it seems kind of funny to have Smore's Day in the summer - but I guess it goes with camping. I just think of Smore's as a fall thing.

Chocolate Marshmallows

I had to post something to celebrate... something like National Smore's Day can't just be ignored!
chocolate of every kind

I've been asked a couple times to post these pictures, but I kept putting it off. Well, I'm glad I did, because today was the perfect day! :) This was a party that my sister and I threw for my brother-in-law when he graduated from college. He's a huge outdoorsy guy - loves camping, hiking, rock climbing, kayaking... you name it. So we wanted to do something fun for the party - along the lines of a dessert table, but something that wouldn't feel like a feminine dessert bar. It needed to feel at least partly masculine.

Desserts, marshmallows of every kind, pretty little decorations

This was such a good way to do it... make everyone at the party happy, and do a little something special to celebrate him as well. We had a fire pit outside to let everyone heat up their smore's, and lots of other options for those opting to ditch the smore's (how dare they! ;) )

We added a few little touches of decorations by spray painting mini pumpkins fun fall colors just to add a little splash, and apples sliced and cored with cinnamon sticks used as cups for cider and punch.
Gilded Pumpkins
Apple Cider Cups

And of course, it wouldn't be a smore's party unless you put the large marshmallow in the microwave to see just how large it will get! Seriously.... the size of a loaf of bread. Craziness. I mean, you can see the paper plate - it's overflowing.
And then of course, there's always cute little nieces eating caramel apples to liven up all parties as well! :) Couldn't have a smore's party without that! ;)
So, go out and celebrate Smore's Day with a little party of your own.

Did you celebrate National Smore's Day?

Any Dessert Table Pics you have to share?