September 24, 2012

Breakfast in a Snap: Cream Cheese Cherry Danish


There, I've said it. It's true. I have a complete obsession with breakfast food. One of my favorite things (especially in the winter, for some odd reason) is to have breakfast for dinner. I love, love, love it! Only one problem...

The Hubs' idea of breakfast is a bowl of cereal. Whaaaaaat? He doesn't have the patience to wait for things to cook in the morning. Plus, the Hubs isn't a huge fan of breakfast to begin with. I don't know how we've stayed together this long! 

Oh yeah, it's because I love him, even his quirky food attitudes.  

Whenever we have company, I use that as an opportunity to expand the Hubs' horizons, since I've been unsuccessful in converting him thus far. Haha, he is stuck with breakfast then! Of course, I'm not an early riser, and I don't want to leave my guests waiting too long for that yummy wake-up call. So I'm always looking for recipes that are quick and easy, yet still look like I'm fancy. 

I'm not really fancy, but I like pretending. Another guilty pleasure. 

I've been dying to try out an idea for breakfast pastry for several months. Of course, I can't experiment on the Hubs, but I can always count on my buddy, Abby, to be my guinea pig. A few weeks ago, we got together very early one morning (6 a.m.!) for breakfast and then a photo walk. 

I swear we don't normally get together so early in the a.m.! This was a special circumstance, really. 

As early as it was though, it was also the perfect opportunity to try out my new pastry idea. 

Looks yummy, yes? 

Well, it's not only delicious, it's also pretty easy to make! It can be cooked in the morning, and served warm, OR you can make it the night before and serve cold to your guests. It's excellent either way. I know, because I snarfed down a good half dozen over a several day period. 

I compensated by limiting my chocolate intake. Sort of. 

ANYWAY. This is simple enough that even the Hubs could make it. Here's what you start with: 

The Ingredients

For once, I actually got all the ingredients in the picture! Oh, wait. Except for one. 

Maybe next time. 

To get started, you need a box of puff pastry (thawed overnight in the fridge), unless you really are fancy and know how to make your own. I haven't progressed quite that far yet. You also need cream cheese, cherry pie filling, an egg, vanilla extract, and a tablespoon of water (the forgotten ingredient!). To all that, add three varieties of sugar. 

That's right. You heard me. Three. Types. Of. Sugar. THREE. You need granulated sugar, confectioners' sugar, and raw sugar.

I compensated for this by purchasing "no sugar added" pie filling. That helps, right?

Humor the poor, delusional woman please.  

Preheat your oven to 375 degrees. Then, start by cutting your pastry into rough square/rectangle shapes. When you unfold the puff pastry, there are natural creases which are a great guideline. I cut down each crease which made three, long strips. Then, I cut each strip in half, for a total of 6 pieces. When you do that to both puff pastry sheets, you wind up with 12 total squares. 

One sheet puff pastry, cut into pieces

Place the pastry on a parchment lined cookie sheet. I like to set mine in the fridge while I prep the filling, so the dough doesn't get too soft. 

Time for the good stuff! Super simple. Blend together an 8 ounce block of cream cheese and 1/2 cup of granulated sugar. You want the mix to be smooth and creamy, like so:


Onto each pastry square, place about a tablespoon of the cream cheese mixture, and 3 or 4 cherries from the pie filling. (Note: You will have a small amount of cream cheese filling left over. Use it on toast or bagels, or as a dip for fruit!) Next, bring the four corners of the dough together in the center and press to seal. Mmmmm...... 

Be sure to leave openings for ventilation! If you don't, the filling oozes out in all kind of weird places and you hear little pastry bombs going off in your oven. Trust me, it isn't pretty. 

One last step before you pop these babies in the oven. Beat together the egg and 1 tablespoon of water to make an 'egg wash'. Then, brush the egg wash over the pastry and sprinkle them all with a bit of raw sugar. Set in your pre-heated oven for 15-25 minutes. You want the pastries golden brown and scrumptious. 

While they're in the oven, whip up your glaze. Also super easy! Whisk together 1/2 cup of confectioners' sugar with 1 tablespoon milk and 1/4 teaspoon of vanilla. If the glaze is too thick, add a tiny bit more milk. If it's too thin, sprinkle in more confectioners' sugar until it's the consistency you prefer. 

Drizzle the pastries with glaze while they are still a little warm from the oven, and viola! 

Cream Cheese Cherry Danishes! Nom nom nom nom.... excuse me while I gorge.

These are great for guests, because they look fancy without being too complicated. Also, you can prepare them in advance, and serve cold. Or make the morning of and serve warm! They're delicious either way. Even the Hubs approved! Of course, he ate them at lunchtime instead of breakfast, because he's weird like that. But still... he ate breakfast food! 

Happy baking, my friends! The recipe is listed below in the standard form. 

Thanks for reading, everyone! 
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The Standard Form:

Cream Cheese Cherry Danish


2 sheets puff pastry, thawed in refrigerator overnight
1 can cherry pie filling
8 ounces cream cheese, softened
½ cup granulated sugar
1 egg
1 tablespoon water
3 tablespoons raw sugar
½ cup confectioners’ sugar
1 tablespoon milk
¼ teaspoon vanilla


Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Line a cookie sheet with parchment paper. Set aside. 

Cut each sheet of puff pastry into 6 squares/rectangles. Blend together the cream cheese and granulated sugar until smooth. Scoop a tablespoon of cream cheese into the center of each square. Top with 3 cherries from the pie filling.

Pull the corners of the pastry together in the center, pinching to seal. Be sure to leave the slits open on the side for ventilation.

Place the pastries onto the parchment-lined cookie sheet. Beat the egg with the tablespoon of water. Use a pastry brush to brush the pastries with the egg wash. Sprinkle the pastries with raw sugar.

Back at 375 degrees for 15-25 minutes, until golden brown.

While the pastries are baking, make the glaze. Whisk together the confectioners’ sugar, milk, and vanilla. If the glaze is too thin, add more confectioners’ sugar. If it is too thick, add a tiny bit more milk.

Drizzle pastries with the glaze while they are still warm from the oven. Enjoy!! 

Thanks for reading, everyone! 
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September 16, 2012

The Emerald Isle: Part 1 (Dublin)

Becky and I on the River Liffey, Dublin 

At last! I promised you would see an Ireland post, and here is the first of many. This trip is one of my favorites, ever. Ireland is a beautiful country, full of friendly and interesting people. I hope you enjoy the story of my travels as much as I enjoyed the travel itself...

My vacation to the Emerald Isle began with a long weekend in New York. Becky and I spent several days exploring the streets of Manhattan before catching our plane ride across the Atlantic. If you want to catch up on our trip, check out the posts here:

Still My Favorite Place... NYC (Part 1)

Still My Favorite Place... NYC (Part 2) 

Still My Favorite Place... NYC (Part 3)

As you see, we left NY happy, and ready to embark on a new adventure. Our flight departed the United States mid-evening, but was scheduled to arrive in Dublin early the next morning. We were prepared to hit the ground running... all we needed was a little sleep.

The transatlantic flight provided time for some shut-eye, but it was difficult to drift off with excitement humming through my system. If anyone out there has a surefire way to fall asleep on a plane, please share! I need all the help I can get.

I did, eventually, pass out (with my fingers crossed, hoping I wouldn't snore!). When next I opened my eyes, we were landing in Dublin.

My first view of Ireland, out the airplane window

You've seen other views from my window, but now it's time to get off the plane and the tour bus. I couldn't wait to stretch my legs and walk around.

Normally, your first stop would be the hotel; for a change of clothes, maybe a shower, or perhaps a nap. Not us, though! We stepped off the plane and straight into our first tour. After a quick stop at the ATM (The Republic of Ireland uses the Euro, and Northern Ireland uses the Pound Sterling), we boarded the bus and drove to Glasnevin Cemetery.

We were greeted with a traditional Irish breakfast. Thank goodness, because boy oh boy, did I wake up hungry!

The Full Irish

The Full Irish Breakfast traditionally includes rashers of bacon, sausages, fried eggs, blood sausage, potatoes, and fried tomatoes. Also, tea and toast (or soda bread) are served. For us Americans, coffee was also readily available.

Luckily, I'm a HUGE fan of tea, and all of the other items on my plate. Except, ahem... blood sausage. There is only one word to describe it: EWWWWWWWWW! Blood sausage is exactly what it sounds like: sausage made with blood (and other things). Yuck.

However, I did taste it. I'm a big believer in trying new things, and I was hoping I'd like it.

I didn't.

I'm not sure anyone else did either. Maybe it's an acquired taste.

Everything else was delicious to the max! I have a good friend who, over the years, has lectured me on the difference between European bacon and American bacon (you know who you are!). I've been waiting for an opportunity to test the difference for myself, and...

She was right. American bacon is complete rubbish. And now I can't ever go back to my blissful ignorance! The bacon on my plate was thick and meaty, with hardly any fat. Imagine a cross between a ham steak and so-called 'bacon'. Put those together in your mind, and you'll get a better idea of the absolute fabulousness I was eating every morning.

I completely blame the bacon for the 3 pounds I gained on vacation. And the scones. Oh, and the butter....

ANYWAY. Onward.

The tour of Glasnevin is taken on foot. Our guide was not only knowledgable, but entertaining. The tour normally lasts around 90 minutes, so wear your sneakers!

Many famous people are buried in Glasnevin, including Daniel O'Connell, Michael Collins, and Charles Stewart Parnell. The cemetery contains the largest round tower in Ireland, at 51 meters high. Directly beneath the tower is the family crypt of Daniel O'Connell.

Inside the crypt of Daniel O'Connell 
Glasnevin is actually listed on TripAdvisor as the #1 attraction in Dublin, so don't miss out! The tour is inexpensive, and the history lesson is a wonderful introduction to this beautiful country. My favorite thing? Just listening to our guide's amazing accent!

Here's the view (not from a window this time!). For my iPhone and iPad friends, I know you can't see these slideshows since they use flash. I'm working on a solution, but so far I haven't discovered the fix. After each post, I'll be adding the photos to my albums on Facebook. You can follow me there for a look at all the pictures!  

After the tour, we wandered the gift shop for a bit before climbing back aboard our bus. Becky and I were traveling with a group of travel agents and their companions. In our case, Becky is the travel agent and I'm the companion.

Don't you wish you had a Becky?!

We were pals way before she started this cool job, but it's an awesome perk in a great friend. The perks of being friends with me? I do all the cooking! Though I'm not sure it compares to a travel buddy, it's all I've got.

The next stop on our itinerary? Kilmainham Gaol, a.k.a. the prison, #3 on TripAdvisor. What's #2, you ask? Dinner theaters! No worries, I have some great videos from those too, just not yet...

Kilmainham Gaol

Many leaders of Irish rebellions were imprisoned here, even executed on the grounds. One particular story is that of Miss Grace Gifford, eventually to be Mrs. Joseph Plunkett. An Irish artist, she's most known for marrying Joseph Plunkett just hours before his execution (by firing squad) at Kilmainham Gaol. He was executed for his role in an Irish uprising during Easter week of 1916. In 1923, Grace herself was arrested during the Civil War, and spent 3 months incarcerated at Kilmainham Gaol. Inside her cell, she painted a picture of the Virgin Mary.

The tour of Kilmainham Gaol was another great way to steep ourselves in some Irish history before exploring the rest of Dublin city. Many of us were losing our stamina, jet-lag severely kicking our American butts. After the tour, our bus finally dropped us at the hotel, where we had a few hours before a group meal.

What to do with several hours of time in Dublin? Much of the group chose to nap and refresh. This might have been the more intelligent thing to do. But since when have Becky and I ever followed the more practical path? I wasn't about to start in Ireland!

Instead of sleep and a shower, we chose a rambling walk along the city streets and canals of Dublin. We were armed with jackets, umbrellas, and most importantly, our cameras. The hotel provided us with a "map". What else could we possibly need?

Ahem. A sense of direction may have been useful...

Carefree and blissfully unaware of how lost we could become, Becky and I ambled along the city streets, absorbing everything in our path. We snapped hundreds of photos, shopped in a multitude of stores. We worked our way to Grafton Street, popular for shopping and people watching.

We emptied our pockets a bit amongst the shops. We each came equipped with a list of souvenirs to find and purchase, both for ourselves and others. On our first foray, I picked up a t-shirt for the Hubs, and a bit of chocolate for myself (Shhhhh.... the chocolate never made it back stateside!)

The afternoon flew by, and soon our tummies were rumbling. Breakfast was a distant memory. Finding a pub for lunch was no problem. It's easy to find LOTS of pubs, all you have to do is turn your head! We discovered Quays, and bopped in for lunch.

We didn't indulge in a pint, for fear it would make our jet-lagged brains sleepy. At least if we'd sprung for a Guinness, I could have blamed our later troubles on the alcohol...

Lunch was wonderful, and renewed our lagging energy. Though we didn't have much time left for exploring, there were a few spots we wanted to stop at on our way back to the hotel.

Temple Bar is one of the oldest pubs in Dublin, established in 1840, and an item we wanted to scratch from our list. Though we wandered aimlessly for a bit, we did run across the bar eventually. This wandering should have jingled a warning bell in my brain... but it didn't.

The Temple Bar, Dublin 

I blame the awesomeness of city streets for our lack of concern. The pubs of Dublin truly fascinated me. They were all different, yet somehow the same. The atmosphere was welcoming, and provided respite from the occasional rain sprinkles. Live music is common most nights, and the taps flow freely.

Who wouldn't want to see as many pubs as possible? Even when we started back for the hotel, there was no worry. Becky and I calculated our time, and determined there was plenty of it.

Hahahaha. How naive we were!

In a foreign country, with no working cell phone, we assumed an hour was plenty of time to get back to our hotel. And it would have been... if we had any idea where we were going.

My first bit of advice to you: NEVER trust a hotel "map".

The "map" we were given was a joke. Badly labeled, and poorly photocopied. Where we had easily found the city center upon leaving the hotel, now we couldn't find our way back. Streets that seemed familiar simply led us farther in the wrong direction. We tried turning the map upside-down, sideways, and inside out. Nothing made it any easier to read.

My second bit of advice to you: LOOK UP. 

Street signs are not the same in Ireland. Or most of Europe, for that matter. In America, you're used to handy green signs, at eye level, on each street corner. This is not so overseas. The street signs are on buildings for the most part, high above your head. And they are not at every intersection. If you need proof, look back at the photo of Temple Bar (above). The blue sign on the left, above the bar, is the street sign.

My third piece of advice to you: ASK for directions. 

We actually did ask for directions. We're not men, after all. Only problem? I don't think the people we asked knew where they were either! First we walked this way, and then someone else told us to go that way, when what we should have done was gone the other way entirely.

Whew. It was rough; not so rough that I didn't take photos, but rough enough. Obviously, we eventually found our hotel again. However.

We were a good thirty minutes late for dinner. But the important thing is that we made it back! Plus, all the extra walking helped work off some of the bacon I ate at breakfast, right?

Let me live in my fantasy world for a while.

So, our first day in Dublin was quite the adventure! I loved every minute of it, even the parts where we were lost. Becky and I turned in early, right after dinner. Jet-lag had finally caught up to us. We needed our sleep, because our second day in Dublin promised to be just as action-packed as the first. For now, I'll leave you with some pictures from the city streets. I can't wait to share the rest of our adventure with you!  

Thanks for reading, friends! 
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September 10, 2012

Anniversaries and Other "Love" Holidays: On a Budget!

I'm happy to say that the Hubs and I just celebrated five wonderful years together as husband and wife! Marriage is always challenging, but when you add a military lifestyle to the mix, things get really interesting. We've had our share of ups and downs, for sure. But we are here for each other no matter what the circumstances.

The Hubs and I had a beautiful wedding, but never a honeymoon. To make up for it, on our first anniversary, we took a week-long trip to the Outer Banks...

Beach in Rodanthe, NC 

... and since our first celebratory trip, we've never actually spent another anniversary together again, until now.

This is one of those instances where the military gets in the way of your plans. Most civilian couples spend their special day together, but we've spent countless holidays apart. Birthdays, anniversaries, Thanksgiving... you name it.

We've developed certain habits to combat the disappointment. Instead of flowers and a fancy dinner on our day (impossible, since we were always apart!), we combined several occasions together into one big celebration. Our birthdays fall just on either side of our anniversary, so we usually miss out on those days together too.

Our plan? To pick a weekend, or a whole week (whatever we have time for!), and celebrate with a trip together. During the trip, we enjoy our fancy dinner together. We relax at the spa. We go hiking or shopping, anything that strikes our fancy. Usually, we surprise each other by picking out gifts while we're out and about, something we can remember the weekend by. These trinkets are scattered around our place, constant reminders of the memories we share.

SO, you can imagine our consternation this year, when we were together on our anniversary. Out of habit, we already planned a weekend away together next month, to the International Balloon Fiesta, including a dinner reservation at the Melting Pot.

What to do on our anniversary then? We didn't want to spend gobs of money, because our vacation is just around the corner...

This started us thinking. Instead of blowing tons of money on various things, we wanted to do as much together with as little money as possible.

And you know what?

Our day was AWESOME. With very little funding, we had one of our best days. And I can't resist letting you in on all our secrets!

1. Greeting Cards: The price of greeting cards runs from the inexpensive $0.99 cards to the $7.99 musical numbers, or even higher. Often, the Hubs and I skip cards altogether, instead writing each other fun little notes. This year, we took the idea a bit further.

Did you know there are many places online where you can personalize and create your own cards? Some sites contain instructions on how to build your card from items around the home; others are sites which offer print at home, either for free or a  minimal cost.

This year, the Hubs made me a 'surprise inside' card, shaped like a Hershey's kiss (pictured above)! After untying the ribbon, several layers of sweet messages greeted me. He found the tutorial online here: Personalized Pyramid Card

I'm a more traditional girl, mainly because if I tried to make a fancy card, it would wind up as a pile of crumpled paper. I don't have enough patience. Instead, I found a printable site and personalized the card before printing it at home! There are many, many sites which offer this option, but here are a few I found:

Greeting Bee FREEBIES

2. Breakfast in Bed: This is a super easy way to say 'I love you'! If you're anything like me, then you do all the cooking. One of my favorite things is when the Hubs cooks for me, instead of the other way around.  Boxed pancake mix is simple, and inexpensive. You can dress up this basic breakfast by serving your pancakes with heart-shaped strawberries on top.

What if your significant other doesn't like pancakes? Or, heaven forbid, strawberries??

There are other solutions! Check out these links for some fun ideas:

Romantic Breakfast Recipes

More Recipes

... and even more!

How to decorate the tray

Tips from Mr. Breakfast

            3. Flowers: Flowers, flowers, flowers... so beautiful, so lovely, and so expensive. And yet, women love flowers. Even me!

For the Hubs and I, it's hard to justify funds on a gift that will eventually die. Not everyone feels this way. But there are a few tricks out there to save some dough. For example, instead of spending $100 on a professional arrangement, purchase a simple bouquet at your local grocery store and arrange the flowers yourself.

Arranging flowers a little too scary for you? Try out these tips and tricks: 10 Fun Tips for Flower Arranging. You can do it!

Another great idea to earn some brownie points? Make your own paper, tissue, or origami flowers. Don't be afraid to try something new! If you fail, you can always buy that expensive bouquet, right?  Take a look at some of these Paper Flower Tutorials.

4. Movie night: Another dating tradition, movie night. Sadly, by the time you buy tickets, popcorn, candy, and drinks, your movie night has become an expensive money pit. If you're looking to save some cash, but still have a great time, try some of these money-saving options:

a. Rent from Redbox. At $1.25 a rental, you can watch several movies without hurting your wallet.

b. Browse your personal collection. Put together a movie evening full of your (and your significant other's!) favorite picks.

c. Fancy up your microwave popcorn: Topping ideas, and Popcorn recipes

                    d.   Pick up candy at the supermarket or dollar store.

                    e. Buy your favorite soda/beverage, but serve it with heart-shaped ice cubes.

                    f. Instead of uncomfortable movie-theatre chairs, set the stage with comfy seating                                 arrangements. Use big, fluffy pillows on the couch, offer blankets for snuggling. Be                                 creative!

                   g. Make 'tickets' to commemorate your special day

                   h. Pick a theme. Example: If you're watching "Finding Nemo", have gummy fish or goldfish,                    tint your popcorn blue, etc.

5. Dinner Reservations: Dinner out can really stress your budget. Between appetizers, drinks, entrees, and dessert... it's expensive! Plus, you have to factor in the tip. Luckily, there are plenty of ways to save your budget in this area.

a. Instead of eating out, pick up takeout from your favorite restaurant and eat in. Serve dinner on your best china or plates. Heck, serve it on paper plates, picnic style! Get creative and use what you have around you. The cloth napkins that were a wedding gift you never use? USE THEM NOW!

b. Candles always set the mood. Light just a few, or light dozens, whatever you like.

c. Play romantic music in the background. No appropriate music on your iPod? No worries! Start a selection on Pandora or Songza.

d. Cook dinner yourself! Even if you burn it, you can always go to plan B (order pizza and laugh about it!)

Check out these sites for romantic dinner ideas:
Candlelit Dinner Ideas

Romantic Recipes

Aphrodisiac Foods

6. Don't forget Dessert!: Chocolate is almost always a great way to go. Buy it at the supermarket, or make it yourself, but spruce up your dessert with romantic notions. Use heart-shaped cookie cutters or patterns. Add cupcake toppers, or candy hearts. Make fondue and feed it to each other. The ideas are endless! But, if you can't think up any on your own, here are a few ideas:

25 Romantic Desserts

Chocolate-Free Romantic Desserts

Heart-shaped Ideas

All of these things are great ideas to make your day special and not burn a hole in your pocket. But don't forget the MOST important item on the list: ENJOY EACH OTHER. You never know when it might be your last celebration together. Take each moment, and make it last. It doesn't matter how much money you spend, or where you go... what matters is that you're together.

One last tip before I go... record your memories. Take pictures, treasure keepsakes. These items are not only wonderful and sentimental, but they make great ingredients for your gifts next year!

Happy celebrating, my friends!

Thanks for reading, friends! 
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September 5, 2012

And so it begins...

Yep. It's that time of year again...


The Hubs and I don't get along during football season. You see, I root for the best football team there is, the reigning Superbowl Champions... the NY Giants.

That's right, I'm a Giants fan (no hating please, I've been a fan since I first learned what football was!). I've spent many years waiting for my team just to make it to the Superbowl. You have no idea how happy I am since they've not only made it, but won several times in the past years.

The Hubs, on the other hand, must hang his head in shame. Naturally, he's hoping that his team will stomp all over my beloved Giants, and possibly give him a few bragging rights.

Not gonna happen, people.

Tonight is the night. TONIGHT, our teams are the opening game for the NFL season. That's right... tonight, it's the Giants vs. the Cowgirls. Oh, excuse me, I meant the Cowboys. Really!

A storm is brewing here tonight!

The Hubs and I are both pretty vocal about our football teams... so, just to make sure we don't injure each other, we've invited some friends to witness the event. I'm desperately missing my fellow Giants fan, Jackie, this year. I could always count on her to scream just as loud as me! Who will do a victory dance with me when the Giants trounce those Cowgirls??


Jackie may not be here in person this year, but I'm darn sure she's rooting on the Giants back home. We'll be mirror images, each in front of our own TVs, hooting and hollering...

Ok, so I'm a wee bit dramatic on game day.

The closer we get to kickoff, the more pumped I get. Generally, I distract myself in the kitchen, cooking up our favorite game-day treats. For this momentous occasion, I'm making my Jackie-inspired Buffalo Chicken Dip. Of course, man cannot live on Buffalo Dip alone, so we'll have a veggie tray and my yummy BBQ Chicken Pizza too. 

BBQ Chicken Pizza

You can check out the pizza recipe by following the link. Today, I'm going to show you how to make the dip that's perfect for all sporting events. This dip never has leftovers; it's completely addicting! The best part is it's sheer simplicity. Anyone, anywhere can make this dip.

Buffalo Chicken dip

Nom nom nom nom.... just seeing the picture makes me salivate. Thank goodness I get to eat it soon!

The ingredients are basic:

Shredded chicken, cheddar cheese, hot sauce, cream cheese, sour cream, and dry ranch dressing mix. The chips and celery are for the dipping!

For your chicken, there are lots of options. You can poach your own chicken breast (about 2), then shred the chicken to make 2 cups worth. This is what I do. If I have extra chicken, I use it later in the week for chicken salad!

BUT, if you don't want to do that, you can always buy a rotisserie chicken (already cooked, bonus!) and shred that. OR, if you're desperate, you can use canned.

So, chicken dilemma solved. Onward!

The first step is to gather your ingredients. Then, add the cream cheese (2 blocks) to a pot over medium heat. Pour the hot sauce (I use Frank's, it's the best!) right on top. You can use 1/2 cup, or 3/4 cup hot sauce. It's all about you, and how much heat you can handle.

Yeah, I use 1/2 cup. I'm a wimp like that.

 Stir that around until well-combined. The dip looks a little gross at this point (see above), but it's worth it, I swear.

Next, you're going to add everything else! Stir in the sour cream (8oz. but I sometimes use more), the shredded cheddar cheese (1 cup), the ranch mix (1oz.), and the chicken (2 cups). I was making a double-batch when I took these pictures, so don't worry if your dip looks smaller.

And.... you're done!


That's it.

Stir for a minute or two, so everything warms up, then spoon the dip into your serving dish. Surround with chips, celery, crostini, whatever you like for dipping. Personally, I think celery is the best!

Then be prepared to re-fill the dish often. I usually make a double-batch, the dip goes that fast!! Try this one time, and you'll be making it for all your parties. It's that good.

Mmmmmm.... I'm going to make mine right now! But I'll keep you posted on the game.

Go Giants!!! 

* Update: The Giants lost to the Cowboys, final score 24-17. I am investing in a good pair of ear plugs, so I can't hear the Hubs taunting me all week!! The rematch is scheduled for October 28th, in Dallas. The Giants will win that one (I hope!) 

The Standard Form:

Buffalo Chicken Dip


2 cups chicken, cooked and shredded (about 2 breasts)
2 (8 oz. each) blocks of cream cheese
1 (8 oz.) container of sour cream
½ - ¾ cup Frank’s hot sauce
1 cup sharp cheddar cheese, grated
1 packet (1 oz.) powdered ranch dressing mix


Cook the chicken using your preferred method, then shred or finely chop. (I prefer poaching the chicken breast and then using two forks to shred it).

Add the cream cheese and hot sauce to a crockpot or a heavy pot on the stove. Turn the heat to medium-high and stir until the cream cheese melts and is combined with the hot sauce. Once smooth and creamy, add the sour cream. Combine thoroughly, and then add in the powdered ranch dressing mix, again stirring until combined. Finally, add the cheddar cheese and shredded chicken. 

Lower the heat. Warm over medium-low heat until the cheddar cheese is melted and the dip is hot.

Serve with tortilla chips, celery sticks, bread cubes, etc. 

September 1, 2012

The View From my Window: Dublin, Ireland

I've made many promises that a post about my recent trip to Ireland is coming soon. And... ok. The trip isn't so 'recent' anymore. And truthfully, it's going to be more than one post. BUT, I have been working on it when I can.

See, here's the problem: I have a slight obsession with my camera. This may not seem like a huge deal, but trust me on this... it is. For sure. Any number of my friends and family can attest to this. For example, a normal person may take a few hundred photos on vacation, right?

I, on the other hand, took several thousand.

No worries, I won't be posting them all here. Especially since some of them are pretty awful. However, it takes time to sort the bad from the good. It also takes time to compose those photographs to tell a story along with the blog post.

So, I PROMISE, I'm working on it. Really, really hard.

In the meantime, I thought I'd post some pictures to whet your appetite. Much of our vacation was spent behind windows of one kind or another. The bus window, the window from our hotel, the window of the Guinness Storehouse...

My buddy Becky is almost as obsessive about her camera as I am about mine. So, despite the glass barrier, we were both clicking away. Rain or shine, didn't matter. We were having a fun, girl-vacation, and we didn't want to miss recording a second of it.

So, take a sneak peak at Dublin, Ireland, where we spent the first two days of our vacay. Much, much more on Dublin will be coming soon. I hope you enjoy the view from my windows!

(P.S. You can click on the images to see the full screen version)

Rain was our almost constant companion, but we didn't mind! 

General Post Office of Dublin 

A neighborhood street 

A church we drove past 

A city corner

Dublin canals along the River Liffey 

Pedestrian Signal 

Local bakery

The Papal Cross in Phoenix Park, Dublin 

View from the Gravity Bar at the Guinness Storehouse 

More coming soon to a blog near you... I PROMISE!