Buffalo Chicken Love

I needed something simple for dinner on Saturday because I wasn't really in the mood to make a large meal. This recipe was right up my alley. Not only did it contain minimal ingredients, we had all of the ingredients at home already!

This burger was slightly hot but tasted great. I loved the coolness of the ranch with the heat of the hot sauce. Just like a buffalo wing only better cause it doesn't have bones. I did sub cheddar for the bleu cheese because I don't care for bleu cheese and thought that the cheddar did a great job.

Source: Sweet Tea in Texas

Buffalo Chicken Burgers
  • 1 pound ground chicken
  • 1/4-1/2 cup bread crumbs
  • 1/2 cup bleu cheese (I used cheddar)
  • 1/4-1/2 cup hot sauce (I used Frank's)
  • Buns
Mix all ingredients together and grill/cook until done. Enjoy with or without a bun and a nice dollop of ranch or bleu cheese dressing(I used french bread)!

Oooey Gooey Mac and Cheese

I saw this recipe all over my GR when I got back from vacation. It seems as though every blog I follow has joined Barefoot Bloggers. It's a weekly blogging event where they make a recipe from Ina Garten. This one was AMAZING! I think it is the best mac and cheese I've ever had. And I'm a bit of a mac and cheese connoisseur. And this pregnancy has made me love all things carb loaded and full of cheese :)

Source: Ina Garten

Grown-Up Mac and Cheese
  • 4 ounces thick-sliced bacon
  • Vegetable oil
  • Kosher salt
  • 2 cups elbow macaroni or cavatappi
  • 1 1/2 cups milk
  • 2 tablespoons unsalted butter
  • 2 tablespoons all-purpose flour
  • 4 ounces Gruyere cheese, grated (I used 2 ounces)
  • 3 ounces extra-sharp Cheddar, grated (I used 2 ounces)
  • 2 ounces blue cheese, such as Roquefort, crumbled (I used 4 ounces of Fontina)
  • 1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
  • Pinch nutmeg
  • 2 slices white sandwich bread, crusts removed
  • 2 tablespoons freshly chopped basil leaves
Preheat the oven to 400 degrees F.

Place a baking rack on a sheet pan and arrange the bacon in 1 layer on the baking rack. Bake for 15 to 20 minutes, until the bacon is crisp. Remove the pan carefully from the oven - there will be hot grease in the pan! Transfer the bacon to a plate lined with paper towels and crumble when it is cool enough to handle.

Drizzle oil into a large pot of boiling salted water. Add the macaroni and cook according to the directions on the package, 6 to 8 minutes. Drain well.

Meanwhile, heat the milk in a small saucepan, but don't boil it. Melt the butter in a medium pot and add the flour. Cook over low heat for 2 minutes, stirring with a whisk. While whisking, add the hot milk and cook for a minute or 2 more, until thickened and smooth. Off the heat, add the Gruyere, Cheddar, blue cheese, 1 teaspoon salt, pepper, and nutmeg. Add the cooked macaroni and crumbled bacon and stir well. Pour into 2 individual size gratin dishes.

Place the bread slices in a food processor fitted with a steel blade and pulse until you have coarse crumbs. Add the basil and pulse to combine. Sprinkle the bread crumb mixture over the top of the pasta. Bake for 35 to 40 minutes, or until the sauce is bubbly and the macaroni is browned on the top.

Crispy Chicken

I was in need for a quick and easy meal this week because Joseph was starving and I forgot to defrost the pork in time. So I grabbed some chicken breasts and flipped through my recipe idea book and found some recipes I cut out of a Good Housekeeping magazine a few months back. I've always wanted to try it with the pears and Roma beans but haven't had a chance.

This adaptation turned out wonderful. I think the sauce would even work well for pork. It thickened up nicely and the chicken stayed juicy. I will definitely be going to this recipe again.

Source: Adapted from Good Housekeeping February 2008

Balsamic Chicken
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 1 cup chicken broth
  • 3 tablespoons balsamic vinegar
  • 2 teaspoons cornstarch
  • 2-4 chicken breasts
In a skillet heat oil on medium until hot. Add chicken and cook until crispy on both sides. Remove from skillet.

In cup mix broth, vinegar and cornstarch together and add to skillet. Heat to boiling on medium high and than add chicken to pan. Coat both sides with sauce and reduce heat to medium/medium low. Cover chicken with lid and let steam/cook for about 15-20 minutes or until chicken is fully cooked.

Remove from pan, serve with some veggies and rice or couscous and enjoy!

Porky Perfection

I wanted a quick and simple marinade for a few pork chops I had in the fridge so I went through some of my GR posts and stumbled on Mary Ellen's post about her husband's pork marinade. Boy was this perfect! The flavor was bold and tasty.

I used the left overs to make a pork fried rice (will post soon) but if you make enough for left overs you can do many things with this dish. I served it with some garlic cauliflower.

Source: Mary Ellen's Cooking Creations

Chili Garlic Pork Chops
  • 1/3 - 1/2 c olive oil
  • 1.5 tbsp chili-garlic paste
  • 3 cloves garlic, pressed
  • 1 tsp onion powder
  • 1/2 tsp white pepper (I used black pepper...)
  • 2 tsp dried cilantro (I used fresh)
  • 1/2 tsp soy sauce
  • 1 tbsp dry vermouth (I used cooking wine)
  • 2 1-1 1/2" pork chops
Mix all ingredients (except pork chops) together and place into a ziploc bag. Take pork chops and poke holes in each side. Put pork chops in the ziploc with the marinade and place in refrigerator. Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Prepare any side dish you might be cooking, preferably something that will cook for about 25-30 minutes at 400 degrees (fries, veggies, etc).

Preheat a skillet and add some olive oil. Grab the pork chops after 1/2 an hour and sear on both sides. Don't move pork chops until their completely seared (about 3 minutes). Place chops into an oven safe dish and put in oven with side dish. Cook for 25-30 minutes or until the pork chops reach an internal temperature of 160 degrees. Let the pork rest for about 5-10 minutes and enjoy!

Florence: History and Culture

One of the only sites we saw repeatedly in Florence was the Duomo and Baptistery. I felt as if whenever we got lost we ended up at the Duomo. It was basically the center of town so as soon as we found ourselves there we could get back on course. The whole trip was a wonderful experience and Florence was definitely my favorite city.

We saw David at the Academia, toured the Uffizi gallery and took a walking tour of the city to get us oriented and familiar with what we were seeing. The tours were definitely worth the money. We did the Florence in One Day tour only we broke it up into two days with the Academia on Saturday afternoon and the walking tour and Uffizi tour on Sunday.

Here's a shot of the Arno river and the Old Bridge. There's actually a corridor on the top portion of the bridge where the Madici family used to travel from one building to another. This is the only Florintine bridge was saved by the Germans from bombing.

Now into the food. Joseph and I joined my friend Miranda (whom we were staying with in Lugano) and her friend Gavin for dinner the first night. We went to a place that was recommended by Gavin's guide book. It was a great place for our first official meal in Firenze.

I had a great meatball dish with mashed potatoes. I started with a yummy vegetable soup but forgot to take a picture. It was filled with spinach and different veggies. Joseph had a great looking steak (also not pictured).

The second day was filled with tours morning and afternoon so we had to grab a quick bite in between. We went with an easy to find place right in one of the main squares (I think it was in Piazza de la Republica because it was close to the tour office). I had a very yummy mushroom and cheese ravioli with a butter and sage sauce. It was to die for!

Joseph had a pesto pasta with tomatoes. This was also a very good meal. I shared his in between bites of mine and would have been happy choosing either dish. Both were very filling and kept us full until our late dinner (no pictures) at another restaurant in town that Rick Steve's recommended. I had a lasagna with bolenese sauce and Joseph had some more beef. The lasagne was very interesting. It was basically just haphazardly layered lasagne noodles with sauce in between. Not the typically layering you'd find in an American lasagna.

Appenzell: Cheese and Beef

Appenzell is also known as Cow Country in Switzerland. We definitely saw more than our fair share of cows and many other farm animals. But it was great fun and very relaxing. We just stepped back and took in the culture and people of north eastern Switzerland.

We were starving (ok, I was starving) when we got to Appenzell so we decided to have lunch at our hotel The Appenzell Hotel. And by the way, our hotel room looked exactly like the rooms pictured. The bed was super comfortable (we each had our own down blanket to sleep with and had super fluffy, soft pillows).

When we scanned the menu we both decided on the same thing right away. Macaroni and cheese, Appenzeller style. This was a simple macaroni with Appenzeller cheese and topped with fried onions. they served it with a side of applesauce.

The Appenzeller cheese was too strong for my stomach to handle. I think that it might be because of the pregnancy but I could barely get down half of my meal. Joseph, however, seemed to have no problems eating his whole bowl.

We fell asleep early the first night and I ended up waking up at 10:30 starving so I of course panicked thinking that I was screwed and wouldn't be able to get anything to eat so late in a small town. But I was wrong. The ladies downstairs were nice enough to make me a sandwich to bring to my room. I was soo hungry I didn't have time to take a picture but just picture fresh bread, sliced ham, appenzeller cheese, pickles and fresh sliced tomatoes with mustard. It was the best tasting sandwich I've had.

The second night we decided to splurge a little and go to a "fancy" restaurant in town. I knew I wanted a meal with meat and quickly chose the roast. It came topped with an herb butter, mixed vegetables and french fries. We were a bit surprised with the fries (instead of potatoes or rice, etc) but it worked.

The meat was soooo juicy and melted in my mouth. The butter was the perfect topping and I put the rest on my vegetables. Any vegetable soaked in butter is always 100 times better :) I know that the meat looks small and the fries take up 1/2 the plate but this was definitely a memorable and tasty meal.

Every fall the farmers bring their cows through town to move them to a graze in a different pasture for winter. We caught the "tail end" of the cows coming through Appenzell on the first day we were in town. The hostess at our hotel explained that usually the farmers dress up in laterhosen and the cows usually have flowers around their necks and on their heads.

Joseph had some fun on the bobsled in Jakobsbad (yak-uubs-bad) before we went on our barefoot walk and after we went on the Jakobsbad-Kronberg cable car (gondola ride up to the mountains). The cable car took us up to a small mountain area where parachutists took off and went down the mountain to the village below. It was great to watch. In the winter this is where they can ski down or take another lift to another mountain.

Joseph refused to go barefoot but I had a great time. I went through grass pastures, rocky paths, paved road and mud and rinsed my feet off at the fountains along the way. It was definitely an experience. And we were rained on a few times during our walk (light showers but warm air). We saw many cows (see first picture above) on our walk and had a relaxing adventure.


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