Sweet Potato Lentil Meatloaf

 

Everyone knows the iconic meatloaf, a loaf of meat.  You may have fond memories of your mother serving it as a child, you may have a secret family recipe, you may have only seen it on TV, or you may be a whiz at making vegetarian versions for faux-meat-loaf. Heck, maybe you don’t actually know what meatloaf is. Whatever the case, I will bet you you can adapt this recipe to suit your tastes!

When dating/living with/married to die-hard meat lovers and trying to stuff more vegetables into a resistant person’s diet, you need some tricks up your sleeve. This recipe is great because it combines two of my favorite strategies: shred the veggies so you barely know it’s there, and add lentils to meat to bulk it up without affecting taste too much. If you want a vegetarian version of this dish, easy peasy just leave the ground turkey out and double down on lentils, or try half lentils and half black beans.

Lentils and sweet potatoes

This recipe creates a moist, tender, tasty loaf which is packed with all kinds of healthy goodies.  The sweet potato gives it vitamin A, beta carotene, fiber, vitamin C, and other nutrients.  The lentils give you tons of healthy fiber, protein, folate, iron, and other nutrients. If you add the meat, it keeps the carnivores happy too, and has a texture not much different from meat alone.

Lentil and sweet potato meatloaf

Ingredients:

  • 1 pound ground turkey (or pork, beef, chicken)
  • 1 cup cooked lentils
  • 1/2 cup rolled oats
  • 1 egg
  • 1 med-large sweet potato, shredded
  • Spices to taste (suggest garlic salt, pepper, Italian seasoning)

For the Sauce:

  • 1 small can tomato sauce
  • 2 tbsp hot sauce
  • 2 tbsp ketchup

If you are staying away from processed things (good for you!) and or feel ambitious and want to make your own ketchup (see here) or hot sauce (right here) then go for it!  You can use other sauces if you don’t like ketchup such as BBQ sauce, Worcestershire, mustard, or Thai chili sauce. Or  you can go sauce-less & have your meatloaf naked!

Lentil and sweet potato meatloaf ingredients

Step 1: In a large bowl, combine lentils, meat, oats, eggs, and any spices you are using. Optional additions here: diced onion, garlic, or bell peppers.

Mixing in the sweet potatoe

Step 2: Shred your sweet potato , and add that to the mix.

Naked lentil and sweet potato meatloaf

Step 3: Spray a bread pan with cooking oil, and spread the mixture into the pan, smoothing down the top.

Lentil and sweet potato meatloaf with sauce

Step 4: In a small bowl or just on top of the loaf, mix the sauce ingredients together and spread evenly over top.

Lentil and sweet potato meatloaf ready to bake

Step 5: Bake in a 350 oven for about 75 minutes.

Lentil and sweet potato meatloaf

And that’s all there is to it! Slice it up and serve it up. I made some cheesy potatoes and fresh corn on the cob and it was a delightful summertime meal.

Lentil and sweet potato meatloaf slice

Of course, with meatloaf leftovers the best thing to do it make meatloaf sandwiches! Add some shredded cheese, maybe some extra sauce, and it has a whole new life. Mmmm-mmm!

Lentil and sweet potato meatloaf sandwich

 

Sweet Potato Lentil Meatloaf

Sweet Potato Lentil Meatloaf

Ingredients

  • 1 pound ground turkey (or pork, beef, chicken)
  • 1 cup cooked lentils
  • 1/2 cup rolled oats
  • 1 egg
  • 1 med-large sweet potato, shredded
  • Spices to taste (suggest garlic salt, pepper, Italian seasoning)
  • For the Sauce:
  • 1 small can tomato sauce
  • 2 tbsp hot sauce
  • 2 tbsp ketchup

Instructions

  1. In a large bowl, combine lentils, meat, oats, eggs, and any spices you are using. Optional additions here: diced onion, garlic, or bell peppers.
  2. Shred your sweet potato , and add that to the mix.
  3. Spray a bread pan with cooking oil, and spread the mixture into the pan, smoothing down the top.
  4. In a small bowl or just on top of the loaf, mix the sauce ingredients together and spread evenly over top.
  5. Bake in a 350 oven for about 75 minutes.
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Caprese Salad

 

Isn’t it amazing how the simplest of things can tend to be the most delicious?  Sometimes we get wrapped up in crazy new flavors, seasonings, toppings, ingredients list as long as your arm. But it truly is quality that makes all the difference.  When produce is seasonal, fresh, local, and picked in its prime, there is nothing better. And nothing says “summer” quite like a fresh Caprese salad. Soft, creamy mozzarella cheese, tangy fresh basil, and plump juicy heirloom tomatoes fresh from the vine. OPA!

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High-quality cheese is a delight, while 99 cent slices of pasteurized processed cheese like product is hardly worth wasting the calories and preserving your insides. And you can taste the difference between a true fresh pressed, high quality olive oil and a knock off lower quality oil or mixture. It should taste grassy and strong on its own, maybe tickle the back of your throat a little. That is the anti oxidants working. It is worth investing in some! A little bit goes a long way.

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Ingredients:

  • 1 large fresh tomato
  • 1 large ball fresh mozarella cheese
  • Big handful fresh basil leaves
  • Drizzle of olive oil
  • Optional: Sea salt to taste

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Step 1: Slice the tomato and mozzarella into slices, about 1/4 – 1/2 inch thick. Layer them alternating on a plate with fresh basil leaves. Drizzle olive oil over it all, and sprinkle on some sea salt. That’s it.

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You can also make this salad on skewers to serve as an appetizer or snack, or use the tiny mozzarella balls and grape tomatoes for an adorable itty bitty version! These flavors also lend themselves very well to bruschetta or pasta dishes.

 

What is your favorite summer dish? Do you have other recipes with the Caprese flavors you’d like to share? Comment below!

Creamy Peas and Panchetta Pasta

 

Nothing is quite so satisfying and delicious as enjoying a brief crop of produce in its prime.  Spring peas are a great example.  They burst into bloom in the early spring, swell to full pods, and then quickly disappear, leaving round seeds to dry and protect until next year.

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The beauty of frozen produce is that you can lock in all the enzymes and living nutrients of a fresh item and keep it for use many days or weeks or even months later.  Flash frozen vegetables can be the next best thing to right-from-the-dirt produce, and maybe even better because it is washed and minimally processed. This way, you can enjoy this fresh taste of spring any time of the year!

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The cream sauce is made with a minimal amount of fat. I used some half and half and some regular 2% milk. Add fresh grated Parmesan cheese and if you desire a tbsp or so of flour for a thick, creamy, salty sauce that tastes like velvet and will satisfy any Alfredo lover.  You can use other types of cheeses too, don’t be shy about trying mozzarella or reggiano, asiago or feta.

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Ingredients:

  • 1/2 – 1 cup fresh or frozen peas
  • 1 cup torn greens of choice (kale, swiss chard, collards, spinach)
  • 2 slices thick cut bacon (optional, you can omit for a vegetarian recipe or use turkey bacon instead)
  • 1/2 cup half and half
  • 1/2 cup milk
  • 1/4 – 1/2 cup grated hard cheese
  • Salt & pepper to taste
  • 1/2 pound cooked fresh pasta, drained

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Step 1: Boil and drain your pasta.  In a frying pan, cook the bacon until crispy.  Remove and drain all but about 2 tsp of fat*, and crumble the bacon.  Cook the peas and greens in the bacon fat for 5-10 minutes, until softened.

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Step 2: To the pan, add the milks and bring to a slow simmer.  Add the cheese and salt and pepper to taste.  Mix well until thickened, add flour 1/2 tbsp at a time if desired.  Pour it over the hot drained pasta and top with a sprinkle of fresh grated cheese!

 

*If you want a vegetarian dish, omit the bacon and use vegetable of coconut oil instead!

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Stuffed Squash Flowers

 

If there’s one thing every gardener knows, it’s to always over-plant zucchini plants.  Just kidding. Every gardener reading this just did a facepalm I bet.

Zucchini is notorious for going from a few fan-like leaves to a gigantic jungle of non-stop baseball-bat sized squash within days. The things just can’t stop won’t stop. And every summer, we still seem surprised when we end up with so many of the dang things, we can’t even give them away anymore.

(That won’t stop me from planting it and loving it every year!)

Squash flowers in the garden

Once you have exhausted all the stir-fried zucchini, zucchini bread, and Zoodles (zucchini noodles), you may stop to wonder, where do these things keep coming from?!

The answer: flowers!

Flowers get pollinated and produce new zucchini. Flowers are also tender and delicious when stuffed and fried. Why not do yourself (and your neighbors) a favor, and eat some before they grow into a 10-pound giant you forgot under a leaf until it got too big and woody to eat?? Also they are just really, really good.

Ingredients for stuffed squash flowers

Ingredients:

  • 6-12 zucchini or any squash flower
  • 2-3 tbsp cottage cheese (any kind of cheese)
  • 2-3 tbsp ground beef
  • 1 egg, or 3-4 tbsp milk
  • 1/4 cup bread crumbs
  • 1/4 cup oil (coconut preferably)

Fried stuffed squash flowers

Step 1: Rinse the flowers and make sure there are no friends still inside. Not a joke, I picked some flowers and dropped one in shock when it buzzed. A bee flew right out!

Step 2: Gently peel the flowers open, and pick out the stamen. Stuff a tiny bit of beef and cheese inside. To keep these vegetarian, you could use any cooked vegetable or grain combo and forego the meats and cheese.

Fried stuffed squash flowers

Step 3: Roll the stuffed flowers in the egg or milk, and then in the breadcrumbs. Completely coat it. Heat the oil just until it start to sizzle, then add the flowers. Fry for 1 minute and flip, fry the other side. Place onto a plate, and then try to let them cool enough to scarf them down!

You could stuff these little guys with any number of things, from rice to quinoa, to shredded carrots or feta. If you want it to be totally vegan, use plain water instead of egg to make the breadcrumbs stick. I made 8, and my husband only got ahold of one of them before I demolished the whole plate! You’re lucky I even got photos…

 

Have you ever tried stuffed flowers? What do you stuff them with? Let me know below!

 

Blender Pesto Sauce

 

One of my favorite things about summer is all the fresh delicious produce, including fresh herbs.  Basil in particular seems to grow really well near me in CT, last summer it turned into a huge bush of a plant, and this year’s crop looks promising for the same.  As you may or may not know, to keep basil producing you need to harvest regularly to encourage new growth and discourage the plant from going to seed.

That’s great news for those who love basil, like me!  Pesto is such a great, fresh, summer recipe that can be way easier than you may think. Many people are intimidated by pesto, thinking Pine nuts are way too expensive for me, or I don’t want to grate fresh hard cheeses just for a weeknight dinner.

Well, don’t worry this recipe is super low-stress! And super low cost too, if you have your own basil plant. During the summer, even if you don’t have basil of your own, it is super affordable at a farmer’s market as it peaks in production. This recipe uses fresh basil, but you can SO EASILY slip other greens in here!  Try adding fresh chives, green onion, swiss chard, spinach, collards, or arugula. Just keep it less than 1/3 the total volume and use mostly basil.

Basil in the blender

This recipe is made in the blender, which saves you the trouble of chopping or blending yourself. Just add you ingredients, adjust as needed, and whir away. Mix in the cheese just before serving, and you have a super quick, super healthy meal in minutes.

Blender Pesto

Ingredients:

  • 2 cups basil (optional extra greens)
  • 3-4 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
  • 2 large cloves fresh garlic
  • 1/4 cup walnut pieces (or pine nuts)
  • 1/2 cup grated Parmesan cheese (I used the green can stuff, you can also buy fresh hard cheese and grate it yourself to be more authentic)
  • Dash of lime or lemon juice
  • Sea salt or garlic salt to taste
  • Dash of cooking water from pasta, or hot water

Blender pesto sauce in a bowl

Step 1: Add the basil and greens into your blender, and whir once or twice.  Toss in the garlic, walnuts, and olive oil. Blend for a minute.

Step 2: Using a spatula, push the pieces down the sides of the blender. Continue blending and pushing it back down to blend it all together. Meanwhile, boil your pasta and drain, reserving a bit of the cooking water.

Fresh pasta and pesto sauce

Step 3: Pour the pesto into a bowl, using a spatula to get it all out.  Mix in the lime or lemon juice and sea salt or garlic salt to taste.  Then mix in the cheese, and add the hot cooking water until it is the consistency you desire.

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Step 4: Mix the pesto into your fresh pasta, and enjoy! I served this with garlic bread and an extra sprinkle of Parmesan on top. Some swiss chard and arugula is hiding in there, and no one was the wiser, I got two males to eat this and praise how good it was! Give it a try and see if you don’t want this to become a staple of your summer meals.

 

(Oh, and if you still have more basil left over, pesto freezes well, or try making some blueberry basil iced tea to go with the pasta!)

 

Blender Pesto Sauce

Blender Pesto Sauce

Ingredients

  • 2 cups basil (optional extra greens)
  • 3-4 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
  • 2 large cloves fresh garlic
  • 1/4 cup walnut pieces (or pine nuts)
  • 1/2 cup grated Parmesan cheese (I used the green can stuff, you can also buy fresh hard cheese and grate it yourself to be more authentic)
  • Dash of lime or lemon juice
  • Sea salt or garlic salt to taste
  • Dash of cooking water from pasta, or hot water

Instructions

  1. Add the basil and greens into your blender, and whir once or twice. Toss in the garlic, walnuts, and olive oil. Blend for a minute.
  2. Using a spatula, push the pieces down the sides of the blender. Continue blending and pushing it back down to blend it all together. Meanwhile, boil your pasta and drain, reserving a bit of the cooking water.
  3. Pour the pesto into a bowl, using a spatula to get it all out. Mix in the lime or lemon juice and sea salt or garlic salt to taste. Then mix in the cheese, and add the hot cooking water until it is the consistency you desire.
  4. Mix the pesto into your fresh pasta, and enjoy!
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Pink Fluff

 

With summer in full swing, there are picnics to attend, pool parties to have, and barbecues and potlucks to create a dish for.  This is the time for quick and easy, no-bake, crowd pleasing recipes.  It is hot enough outside, you don’t want to turn on the oven. And you only have an hour until you need to show up at someone’s door, dish in hand to share.

I’ve got you covered.

My family has a recipe that’s been around as long as I can remember. It is a part of every summer picnic, get-together, birthday party. Everyone who tries it for the first time loves it, and wants to know the secret. The secret of Pink Fluff.

What is Pink Fluff?

Well, it’s pink, and it’s fluffy. (And ridiculously high in sugar, so use good judgment with portion sizes 😉 )  All you need is 4 ingredients, canned, no need to even drain.  Mix well, chill, and get ready for the compliments to roll in.

Pink fluff ingredients

Ingredients:

  • 1 can crushed pineapple
  • 1 can cherry pie filling
  • 1 can sweetened condensed milk
  • 1 tub cool whip

Pink fluff ingredients to be mixed

Step 1: In a large bowl, mix all four ingredients, and refrigerate. Don’t worry about draining the pineapple, just pour it all in. The cherry pie filling is what gives Pink Fluff its lovely color, or you could boost it with a few drops of food coloring or fruit juice.

Pink fluff ready to eat

This stuff is addictive, it is tasty on its own right out of the bowl with a spoon, or it is also a great fruit dip.  Mix in some bananas, chopped strawberries, fresh cherries, or grapes. Slice up some apples or oranges and use them to dip. Keep this recipe in your back pocket, and you will never be unprepared for a picnic again! Enjoy.

 

Blueberry basil iced tea

 

July means blueberry season here in Connecticut, and boy am I happy about that! I am thrilled to have a farm share this year from Farmer Joe’s Gardens in Wallingford. Someday I’ll write a whole post about CSA’s and why they are amazing fantastic and wonderful. But for now, let me just brag on these blueberries!

I’m not knocking store bought or frozen blueberries, no matter what form they take blueberries are one of the most powerful sources of antioxidants and nutrients.  But you haven’t truly tasted a blueberry until you have an organic, farm fresh, just picked berry. They are so sweet, yet tart, plump and juicy and delicious! I could nom a whole pint in one night if I’m not careful!

Basil and blueberries

Our farm share also gave us a baby basil plant, which is awesome because I love basil in pesto! I already had a big ol’ basil bush of my own too, so this new plant will become my second harvest in a few weeks.  I harvested a ton of basil in anticipation of said pesto, and then wondered what else I could use it for.

Well, with the weather being as hot as it has been, in the 90s on average across the country, nice iced beverages have been what keeps me going each day.  While I am all in favor of massive volumes of water in general, sometimes you want something with a different flavor. You can of course simply crush some berries and add them right to water to add some flavor.

But iced tea is really what I crave on a midsummer day. So I thought, why not use this fresh pungent basil and plump blueberries together to make a refreshing summer beverage? The flavors seems strange, until you try them together. Then you realize the truth, they were made for each other.

Blueberry basil iced tea

Ingredients:

  • 1/4 cup blueberries
  • Handful fresh basil leaves
  • 2 cups fresh brewed tea

Step 1: In a cup, crush the blueberries and muddle the basil leaves to release the juices. Add the fresh brewed tea and let it sit and brew for 5-10 minutes.

Blueberry basil iced tea with straw

Step 2: Strain into a glass filled with ice and enjoy!

You can definitely mix this up and use other berries such as strawberries, blackberries, raspberries. Try other fresh herbs like mint, sage, or lavender. And if you want, you can make this an adults-only tea and add a shot of rum or iced tea schnapps!

 

Blueberry basil iced tea

Blueberry basil iced tea

Ingredients

  • 1/4 cup blueberries
  • Handful fresh basil leaves
  • 2 cups fresh brewed tea

Instructions

  1. In a cup, crush the blueberries and muddle the basil leaves to release the juices. Add the fresh brewed tea and let it sit and brew for 5-10 minutes.
  2. Strain into a glass filled with ice and enjoy!
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Restaurant Review: T’s Pizza & Kitchen

 

Do you love pizza?  I thought so.  Please, read on.

Along a quiet back street a half mile away from the Stamford Train Station, near Stamford Connecticut’s Antique Alley (what I’ve termed Dock St, due to its proximity to at least 7 antique stores and galleries), sits an unassuming painted brick building.

ts pizza kitchen google map

On a spur of the moment trip, the new hubster and I decided to explore some of the East Coast.  We figure since we live in a place where we can travel to five different states in one day and there is ample public transit, we should take advantage of these things.  So on a sunny Sunday, we hopped on the Metro North to Stamford, just one hour down the tracks.  We had gone by on our way to the Big Apple once or twice, and it seemed nice.

Downtown is tiny but quaint.  Several restaurants were open on this lovely Father’s Day, and one had a giant sign proclaiming “$5 Burgers Everyday”.  You can guess where we went for lunch… While sitting there, we witnessed some sky-writing of an advertisarial bent. The burgers were also tasty, but that’s another post. We then explored the nearby Stamford Town Center mall, which is deceptively huge. It goes up and up and up… ten floors I think. Pretty darn cool, to my exceedingly tall other half.

Then the true reason for coming all this way, we wandered down to the waterfront.  Harbor Point is the big development here, they have created many lovely living spaces that are very walkable. And there is a free public trolley that runs 7 days a week! This is a fantastic service. After a nice walk down the boardwalk and through the Kosciuszko park (dare you to say that three times fast) and some water-watching, we decided it was about time for some dinner and to wander back to the station to catch a train home.

T's Pizza Kitchen Exterior

Well, since we are in New England, we have made it our mission to find and eat pizza whenever and wherever possible, so as to do a fair comparison.  New Haven style is fiercely guarded and defended as the best pizza on Earth. Just as Pepe’s, Sallys, Modern, BAR, Ernies, or a host of other local hot spots.

Google maps informed us that “T’s Pizza & Kitchen” was super close to the train station, and basically along our way there. So we figured, that’s perfect! We can stop and pick up some dinner to eat on the train on the way home.

T's Pizza Kitchen Interior

The road on the way there, not gonna lie, it’s a little bit sketchy. But what do you expect from the industrial district? Though I must say, I was a little intrigued by the “Vertical Addiction” pole dancing studio next door… Anywho, as soon as we walked in the door, I thought “I love this place!” From the brick and wooden slat walls, to the muted black and rustic wooden decor, to the thoughtfully picked wall of wines and golden crusted baked goodies on display, this place oozed homey comfort with class.

We were welcomed by an elderly gentleman, who asked us some questions, and when we seemed hesitant, gave us a menu and let us sit down to figure out the game plan. We decided a whole pizza was too much, both to take on the train and because of the huge burgers we had eaten just a few hours earlier, so we would split a calzone. He recommended the Stromboli Roll, which comes with salami, ham, peppers, and mozzarella cheese. Si grazie!

Carlos of Ts Pizza Kitchen

While we waited, he offered us some waters, which we gratefully accepted (it was a high of 86 people!).  As I wandered to the back to watch our dinner be rolled out, filled, and baked all by hand, the kind chef chatted about what he did.  Turns out, the guy lovingly crafting our soon to be dinner was Carlos, the manager! He was filling in since Sundays are quiet.

He told me about his love of pizza and all Italian foods, and how hard they had worked since opening just 6 months earlier. It was mesmerizing to watch him roll out the dough into a thin, long oval. Dusting it with spices and layering the toppings carefully. Slices of meat, strips of peppers, chunks of fresh mozz. Then he rolled it up into one long log, and popped it in the giant oven. He was warm and funny, and genuinely interested in our story. It’s too bad we don’t live nearby, I would definitely become a regular!

Ts Pizza Kitchen Calzone

They were kind enough to give us two plates and wrap everything in tin foil, and added two cups of marinara dipping sauce plus a hefty stack of napkins.  We made it to the station! … just as our train pulled away. Ha. Oh well, the next one was set to arrive & depart in 25 minutes, so we could eat it while we waited. I’m sure everyone else on that platform was SO jealous!

Ts Pizza Kitchen Stromboli Roll

The calzone was still steaming hot, and the mozz was molten goo, which is totally a good thing.  The peppers had cooked up perfectly and were nice and soft, a perfect flavor to balance the salty ham and salami. The dough was nice and light, but crunchy and flavorful. The dipping sauce seemed a bit thin, but turned out to be perfect, not too heavy such as would overpower the flavors of the fillings.

While I’m not crazy about the small pool of grease left on the plate, sometimes that is just what you’re craving.  Based on just this calzone alone, they really know what they are doing in the kitchen! Hopefully we will return to Stamford someday, and we can try the pizza too. (If you’ve been there, please let me know what  you think in the comments!)

 

Overall, I’d rate Ts Pizza & Kitchen:

  • Taste: 8
  • Atmosphere: 9
  • Value: 9

 

You can read other reviews here:

One-Pan Buffalo Chicken Potato Bake

 

Do you love tasty food?

Do you love having fewer dishes?

Do you love meals that you can make in under 30 minutes?

One Pan Buffalo Chicken Potato Bake

You guys. You have to try this recipe. If you only try ONE recipe from this blog, make it this one. (Unless of course you are vegetarian or allergic to potatoes or whatever.)

This dish was inspired by one of my favorite blogs Don’t Waste the Crumbs, but upon Googling I found oodles of variations! And the most beautiful part is that I nearly always have all the ingredients in the house. Combined with the fact that the ingredients are all pretty darn frugal, that makes this dish an instant hit with me. It is now on my “mental rotation of last-minute meal ideas” along with stir fry, chili, and tortilla soup.

One Pan Buffalo Chicken Potato Bake

The crispy roasted potatoes, the tasty shredded chicken, spice from the hot sauce with the cooling sour cream, added health boost from the carrots and veggies… mmmm now I want some!

Pan of Baked Potato Wedges

As for the additional vegetables, I’d recommend things that you or your family like of course, and things that are quick cooking. Try spinach, peas, or thawed frozen veggies. I used okra because I had some and I love the flavor, but go wild with mushrooms, peppers, zucchini, or broccoli. The more veggies you sneak in and slather in hot sauce the better!

Cup of Shredded Carrots

Ingredients:

  • 6-7 medium potatoes
  • 1 cup shredded carrots
  • 2 cooked chicken breasts
  • 2 cups vegetable of choice
  • 1/4 – 1/2 cup hot sauce
  • Optional: 1/4 – 1/2 cup sour cream
  • Optional: 1/2 – 1 cup shredded cheddar

Frying Chicken Breasts

Step 1: Cook your chicken breasts by baking, broiling, boiling, or sauteeing.  Dice the potatoes and spread them in an oven-safe pan sprayed with cooking oil. Bake at 350 for 10-15 minutes, until soft inside and crispy outside.

Layered Baked Potato Shredded Carrots and Cooked Chicken

Step 2: Shred the cooked chicken and spread it over the baked crispy potatoes.  Add the shredded carrots and other veggies.

One Pan Buffalo Chicken Potato Bake with Sour Cream

Step 3: Layer on the hot sauce and sour cream if using.

One Pan Buffalo Chicken Potato Bake

Step 4: Add the cheddar (or other cheese) if using. Bake at 350 for another 10-15 minutes.

One Pan Buffalo Chicken Potato Bake

Step 5: Try to stop yourself from devouring the whole ooey-gooey pan all at once.

 

You are welcome.

 

One-Pan Buffalo Chicken Potato Bake

One-Pan Buffalo Chicken Potato Bake

Ingredients

  • 6-7 medium potatoes
  • 1 cup shredded carrots
  • 2 cooked chicken breasts
  • 2 cups vegetable of choice
  • 1/4 - 1/2 cup hot sauce
  • Optional: 1/4 - 1/2 cup sour cream
  • Optional: 1/2 - 1 cup shredded cheddar

Instructions

  1. Cook your chicken breasts by baking, broiling, boiling, or sauteeing. Dice the potatoes and spread them in an oven-safe pan sprayed with cooking oil. Bake at 350 for 10-15 minutes, until soft inside and crispy outside.
  2. Shred the cooked chicken and spread it over the baked crispy potatoes. Add the shredded carrots and other veggies.
  3. Layer on the hot sauce and sour cream if using.
  4. Add the cheddar (or other cheese) if using. Bake at 350 for another 10-15 minutes.
  5. Try to stop yourself from devouring the whole ooey-gooey pan all at once.
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How do you pick a wedding location?

 

Just like when you are picking your wedding date, choosing a location should be something that you think about but not too hard, and in the end it just feels right.

People vary wildly in their ideas of the “ideal” wedding place, so you should first talk to the other party involved. Do one of you have a church you grew up in, that your parents were married in, that you just have to also get married in? Now is a good time to go over that. If you have always dreamed of a destination wedding on a sandy white beach, bring that up. Give yourselves some time and space to talk it out with no judgment (no, “oh my God, no way are we getting married in that old dump of a church!” or “How stupid, who wants to be married in a dusty barn!??” or “We could never afford Wai Ki-Ki are you crazy??”).

snowy church

Be sure to also discuss all the elements of the location that may end up being important to you. Some suggestions (but by no means a comprehensive list):

  • Is there availability at your desired time?
  • Does the location offer wedding planning or services?
  • Are there hotels nearby for guests to stay in?
  • What is the weather like in the time of year you’re considering?
  • Will the location hold the amount of people you envision?
  • Do you need to account for things like chair or tent rental?
  • Where will you have the ceremony and the reception? Same place? Two places? How far apart are they?
  • Do you want a church?
  • Do you want it to be outdoors?
  • Do you want decorations of a specific type?
  • Will there be dancing? If so can you set up sound/dance floor?
  • Can you bring your own vendors?
  • Do you need any licenses/permits?
  • Is there a deposit or location fee?

http://www.triphobo.com/blog/wedding-destinations

For travel destinations, more things to consider include:

  • Do you need passports/other travel documents?
  • How will you arrange flights/trains/busses/etc?
  • Is it near where you’d like to honeymoon?
  • Is it near an airport?
  • Will you need to rent a car?
  • How many of your planned guests will likely show up?
  • What are the local laws about weddings?
  • How do you go about obtaining a marriage license?

Once you have a general idea as a couple of what you want and what you are willing to negotiate on, you can consider locations.  Think about where you live now, where you grew up, where you went to college, where your parents grew up.  For some people, this is a no brainer and they have known since childhood that a specific meaningful place would be the place they are married. For others it will not be so simple.

What matters most is to be true to yourselves as a team, a unit, your location should be somewhere you both will feel happy and at ease.  If your partner gets nauseated at the thought of crowds and attention, you should probably not plan a 400-person blow out at the biggest chapel in town and a black tie reception. If your true love cannot stand sand in their hair or clothes, sorry but a beach wedding should be crossed off the potentials list.

top_wedding_venues_in_new_york_city

If you get stuck, you can always try:

  • Asking around – you probably know tons of people who have planned or attended weddings. Ask your parents, grandparents, friends, coworkers, neighbors, the guy on the bus. Ask what weddings were memorable, in good ways and bad. Maybe they will mention something that lights a spark for you.
  • Make a list – each of you alone, make a list of places that make you happy. List random things too, like maybe you love lighthouses, or caves, or mountains, or mansions. You never know what will spark an idea. Then compare your lists and see if the light bulb comes on.
  • Google – the holder of all knowledge, Google is a wellspring of wedding location ideas. Beware here though, as wedding envy and overwhelm can easily sneak up on you as you browse front-page-worthy multi-thousands of dollars wedding settings. Always try to keep your dreams somewhat in the realm of reality.

At some point, you will narrow down your list. A few places should stand out as the most likely and most fitting.  If you are able to, definitely go visit these places. Try to get a feel for the size of the space, what their amenities are (Is there a kitchen on site or will you have to bring in all your food already prepared? Do they have bathrooms and how many? A dance floor, music and speaker system? Can you bring in any vendors you want or is there a required vendor list to work off of?).

Always remember you do not have to commit to the first or second or twelfth place you see, until it feels right.

And just as in picking the time, at some point, you pick the place. You could argue pros and cons until the day you say “I do” but trust me, as long as your betrothed is at the front of the room waiting to say it back, you won’t care very much where that happens. Point, click, and trust that it will all work out.

The fusion of food, fun, frugality, and curiosity.