Spicy Buffalo Chicken Dip

I instantly fell in love with Spicy Buffalo Chicken dip when my friend Sarah made it for a birthday party almost two years ago. She made it again last year for my Super Bowl party and unfortunately haven’t had it since.  Luckily,  my friend Caroline had some leftover from her Super Bowl party and brought them in to work  for us to snack on. So when I needed to make “comfort food” for a work party, I knew exactly what I needed to make. I was worried it might be a little bit too spicy, but no one seemed to complain (and that is a good thing)! I had remembered what ingredients my friend Sarah told me she used and just went for it. If you don’t like things too spicy, I recommend cutting down on the Cholula hot sauce.

Spicy Buffalo Chicken Dip

Ingredients:

3 boneless chicken Breasts (some recipes called for canned chicken, but that just sounds horrible)

1 cup light ranch (or regular)

1 cup Cholula hot sauce

1 package of fat-free cream cheese (or regular)

1 package of shredded cheddar cheese

Boil the chicken breasts. While the chicken is cooking, add the ranch, cream cheese, hot sauce, and shredded cheese to a baking dish. Cook at 350º for 10 minutes. Remove from oven, mix ingredients, and put back in the oven for 10 minutes. By this time, the chicken should be done cooking. Shred the chicken and mix with the ingredients in the baking dish. Cover with aluminum foil and bake for an additional 20-25 minutes. Serve with chips (I prefer scoops!)

*Tip – My co-worker Betsy told me that if you put chicken in a crock pot with a little bit of water and let it cook during the day (even if it’s frozen) it will instantly shred once it is ready.

My next cooking adventure will hopefully be this weekend, as I am thinking about having a little Oscar’s party with some of my friends. Wishing I had access to all the party accessories I would need from A Classic, but I guess I can give my sister something to blog about – hosting Oscar parties!

Lucia

Gnocchi with Gorgonzola Cream Sauce

A few months ago my Aunt gave me a book called The Geometry of Pasta. It has all the different types of pasta and what sauces to pair them with. It was such a nice and thoughtful gift and I was excited to finally get to use it. Not only is it a great recipe book, but it is actually very interesting and provides insight into the recipe. As I sat watching Top Chef the other night, I was reminded of the book when a few of the contestants were in the bottom for making their own pasta. One of the owners from Rao (that is where the challenge was that night) said that you don’t really need to make homemade pasta for it to be a great dish. He said the sauce should make the dish and that if something is just as good pre-made, there is no need to re-invent the wheel when cooking family style.

I instantly grabbed my book and started looking through recipes, as I am always inspired to cook when I’m watching Top Chef. As I scanned the Gnocchi section, I realized I had never made this for my blog. When I started reading about Gnocchi, I found it interesting that the book claimed it was better to make it from scratch than buy it from the store, as packaged Gnocchi is harder and does not cook as well as homemade. I agree with the guy from Rao when it comes to pasta, as I would probably never attempt to make penne or rigatoni, but Gnocchi seemed fun. I hadn’t made pasta in a while and I have never made Gnocchi so I decided to go for it!

Gnocchi Con Gorgonzola

Gnocchi Ingredients:

2 large Idaho Potatoes (or Russet)

2 Eggs

1 cup all-purpose flour

A few gratings of nutmeg

Boil the potatoes in salted water until fully cooked. Drain and let cool. Once cooled, peel off the skin and put through a ricer/foodmil.

When cool enough to handle, but still warm, add the egg, flour and nutmeg. Mix evenly (work as little as possible so that it does not become doughy). Take a small lump and roll on a well floured surface. Test it in the boiling water to make sure it doesn’t fall apart and cooks properly. Once you are sure it’s ready – roll out the dough in strips about as thick as your fingers (thumb or pinkie, it’s up to you). Cut it into pieces of equal width and height, about the size of the tip of your thumb. Make sure they have enough flour on them, but not too much.

Optional: Use a fork to put ridges on one side or use your thumb to make an indent. This allows the Gnocchi to gather more sauce during your meal.

*NOTE: I did not have a ricer/foodmil so I smashed the potatoes with a fork and then mixed them in the food processor.

Gorgonzola Cream Sauce Ingredients:
1 cup heavy whipping cream

2 cups of crumbled Gorgonzola (I just bought a package from the store)

Nutmeg

Pepper

Walnuts (Optional)

Optional: Roast walnuts and add to the sauce. Add in peas for additional flavor.

In a saucepan, mix the cream and the Gorgonzola on medium heat until well  blended. Continue to stir over low-heat. Add in some nutmeg and pepper to taste. While the sauce is cooking, add the Gnocchi to boiling salt water. Once they float to the top, cook for 2 minutes, add to the sauce with a little bit of the pasta water. Cook until well blended. Serve and enjoy!

And for your listening pleasure, my cousin Michael sent me this link today and thought I would share! I know it is out of season, but it is an Italian Christmas song we used to listen to as kids and it made my day! http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=nQrdxtWgHbE&feature=related

Lucia

Happy Birthday to you!

Today My Big Fat Italian Life turns 1! I can’t believe a year ago today, as I sat at my intern desk thinking about my “passions,” and how I could start to pursue them, I decided to write my first blog post. I had been toying with the idea of starting a blog for a few months since entering the PR world, but never had the courage, or so-called “passion” (or so I thought) to write about anything.

I was so inspired after hearing a speaker at my internship talk about pursuing your passion that I jumped in head first. As I sat thinking about what I was passionate about (and getting anxiety thinking I may not have any…) it hit me. I am not usually good at sticking to things or routines, but one thing I have always loved to do is cook. It’s something I have grown up doing with my family and it has brought my family and friends together my entire life. I knew this was something I could definitely stick to, and be passionate about! I also thought it would be a great way to be able to enjoy a meal with my friends more often. Coming from a large Italian family, I definitely missed Sunday dinners at my Grandparents after moving to Chicago and found myself feeling rather lonely Sunday nights when I knew all of my family was sitting around a table over pasta and meatballs without me. So not only did I start blogging, I started making Sunday dinner for my roommates and occasional guests. I am proud to say  that I have stayed committed to my blog and have worked hard at continuing to make it better. I may not get to make something I blog about every week, but I have continued to make new food and to even try some new food!

It took a while for me to find my legs with this blog, but as I continued to experiment in the kitchen and learn new recipes, I realized how much I enjoy making recipes my own by adding/tweaking ingredients, working with a tight budget, and learning new tips along the way! There are so many 20 something’s out there who might enjoy cooking, but don’t necessarily have a ton of money to spend or who are too nervous to try anything new. Hopefully I can be a motivator to get in the kitchen and have an adventure – teach yourself new tricks and try new recipes.

After a full year, I am glad I am still here and still passionate about learning everything there is to know about cooking and experimenting with new recipes. So here’s to your first birthday My Big Fat Italian Life and hopefully, many more to come!

And in tribute to this blog’s first birthday I thought I would share my most recent Kitchen Disaster. Lesson learned – don’t attempt a kitchen adventure after a long night out drinking and no sleep. Also, if you make waffles be sure to spray the waffle tray with a lot of Pam(cl) first 😉

Lucia