Buffalo Chicken Grilled Cheese

There's something about Fall that makes me crave anything warm and creamy. With football season coming up, one recipe, in particular, comes to mind: buffalo chicken dip. But what if I told you that buffalo chicken dip could be made even better by sandwiching it between two slices of cheesy, buttery bread?



Baked Chicken Fingers

Y'all, I love chicken fingers. They're a staple in my diet, especially when I go out to eat. Unfortunately, restaurant chicken fingers are so many calories! Don't get me wrong, I'll still splurge on them from time to time, but can't a girl enjoy her chicken fingers in peace while still feeling healthy at the end of the day? Enter: homemade baked chicken fingers.

Denim Phase

I'm a huge fan of denim. Give me a good pair of jeans and I'm all set. Not to mention, my allllll time favorite accessory is my jean jacket. I've had it for YEARS and I wore it almost every day to work during my internship. But since it's been SO HOT in Atlanta recently I've had to find a new way to wear my denim obsession.

Portlandia

I got to visit my friend Stephanie in Portland, Oregon last weekend!!! Stephanie and I studied abroad together in Salzburg over two years ago. She was able to make a quick trip to Atlanta on her way to visit family, but this was really the first time we've seen each other since then! It was so much fun - I loved Portland!

My flight got intoPortland on Thursday night later than expected, but still with enough time to rest up for a full day of seeing the city on Friday while Stephanie was at work. (Side note: 6 hour flights are such a pain!!! What do you do to pass the time?)


Bratislava in 24 Hours

One of my major goals when I studied abroad (2.5 years ago... what!!) was to hit as many “off the beaten path” countries as I could. I figured that I could always convince myself to go back to Austria, Germany, France, and Italy, but that the lesser-known countries would be a little harder to go back to. Slovakia was definitely one of those countries, but let me tell y’all… Slovakia is awesome.

Slovakia is relatively new (it became a country again after the fall of the Iron Curtain), but it has so much to offer. It’s also a member of the European Union, so it’s not hard to travel to. Bratislava, the capital of Slovakia, is also just a short train ride from Vienna, which makes it an ideal day trip!

24 Hours in Colorado Springs

I had a crazy week of traveling last week! I went to Colorado on Tuesday night, stayed for work in the morning on Wednesday, flew back to Atlanta Wednesday evening, and then back out to Colorado Friday afternoon and back home again on Sunday! It was definitely exhausting, but also amazing! I just love being surrounded by the mountains and able to breathe in the crisp, dry mountain air. (Anyone who lives in a place with a ton of humidity can attest!)

My mom and I flew out to Colorado Springs this weekend and spent all day Saturday touring around. (P.S.: Taking a trip with just my mom was on my 101 in 1001… I can cross that off the list now!) There’s a lot to see in the Springs, but you can do just about all of it in one (very tiring) day.

We started out by going to the Olympic Training Center. Colorado Springs is “Olympic City USA,” and I’m a total nerd when it comes to the Olympics so there was no way I was going out there and not touring the training center! It was amazing. At the start of the tour, they show a short video montage about the history of the modern Olympic games focusing on Team USA and I started crying almost immediately because of how much I loved it. (I wish I were kidding, but there were real tears shed.)


After the training center, we drove up to the United States Air Force Academy to see their famous chapel. It was so beautiful and certainly did not disappoint! That being said, next summer it’s closing down for a 4-5 year renovation, so if you’re dying to see it, be sure to get out there sooner rather than later!

 

For lunch, we really wanted to go to Old Colorado City (the old mining city) but missed it on the map by a block. But it ended up working out because we got to go to Manitou Springs instead! Manitou is also a mining city at the base of Pikes Peak (the mountain that inspired “America the Beautiful” …casual.) In Manitou there is a ton to do, like taking the train (or starting the hike) up to the summit of Pikes Peak, visiting museums about the miners that used to live there, and they have beer and wine festivals some weekends throughout the year. We decided not to go up Pikes Peak because it was kind of rainy and cloudy and weren’t sure the view would be worth it, but if it’s sunny we definitely would have! (The drive can last anywhere from 2 to 3 hours, depending on traffic, weather, time of year, and how many stops you make for pictures!)

We ended up eating lunch at the Manitou Brewing Company. It was AMAZING. We got two “shareable plates,” (nachos and pulled pork and homemade beer queso and their specialty fries with truffle oil, parmesan shavings, and chipotle sauce) and both of them were huge and so good.  We were both absolutely stuffed but couldn’t stop eating! Luckily, Manitou Springs is a great place to walk up and down the streets, so we did that and enjoyed looking at all of the local stores and jewelry makers.


After lunch, we went to the main attraction of Colorado Springs: Garden of the Gods.  Garden of the Gods is a national landmark park that will always be free (!!!) to the public. However, you can book horseback riding tours through the park and I think that would be a really neat way of seeing the formations. We weren’t prepared to go hiking, so we stuck to the road through the park with just a couple of exceptions, one being balanced rock. Definitely one of the most popular stops, there were TONS of people, but with a little bit of patience and good timing, I was able to take some great pictures on the rock. And the ledge I was standing on was a lot higher than it looked! If I’m ever back in COS I would definitely wear better clothes and follow the hiking paths around and up some of the formations.


By this point, we were pretty tired so we drove to the downtown area and got a drink on the rooftop bar of Phantom Canyon. Then we walked around a little bit (still full from our amazing lunch!) and explored the Springs before getting dinner closer to our hotel on the east side of town.


Colorado Springs is definitely an interesting little place! You can literally see people from all walks of life just walking down the streets. It’s also the second biggest city in Colorado, but I don’t think you’d be able to tell if you didn’t already know. There’s an interesting mix of old and new, run down and just now being built. It’s also only an hour and a half away from downtown Denver, and a little over two hours away from the skiing at Breckenridge, Vail, etc. It would make a perfect day trip if you’re ever in Colorado!

Have you ever been to Colorado Springs?

Chicken Fajita Quesadilla

Is there anything better than Mexican food? I'll go ahead and answer that for you - nope! Whenever my friends or family ask me if I want to go grab some tacos and margaritas, I tell them that if I ever say no to that question to take me to the hospital immediately.

The one problem with Mexican food is that, unfortunately, it's not great for you. Cheese, sour cream, and fried tortillas don't really make for a great diet, which is why I love making my own Mexican food. This chicken fajita quesadilla is super easy, tastes great, and makes awesome leftovers for salads! (Or can serve two... but ya know, when you're living the single life, leftovers is where it's at.) Better yet, it's just SIX ingredients!



Start by cutting chicken into longer strips. Heat a pan over medium heat and begin to cook your chicken. While that cooks, slice your bell peppers and onions into long strips.

Add in fajita seasoning when the chicken is mostly cooked through.


After adding in the seasoning, mix in your peppers and onions. When the chicken is cooked through and the onions and peppers are nicely sautéed and soft, remove from the heat and set it aside.


Spray the pan with a light cooking spray and put down your tortilla. Sprinkle cheese all over the surface of the tortilla.


When it starts to get a little melty, spread half of your fajita mix onto one side of the tortilla. (Option here to add more cheese on top of the chicken... because you can never have too much cheese.)


Use a spatula to fold your tortilla in half, and then use your fingers (unless you're better coordinated than I am) to flip your quesadilla.


Remove from the heat when all the cheese is nice and melted. I added extra cheese on top... because once again, you can never have too much of a good thing. Let it cool a little bit and then slice it 3 ways and enjoy!

Use the half you didn't use to make a taco salad, or another quesadilla, or even on some pasta for a southwestern vibe! The options are virtually endless with this kind of leftover.

Do you have a go-to quesadilla recipe? I'd love to expand my horizons!

Hong Kong: Part Two

Welcome back for part two of our trip to Hong Kong! I left off with my family getting ready to board a ferry to the island of Macau... catch up with the first part of our trip here!

DAY ONE IN MACHAU:

We took a mid-morning ferry from Hong Kong Island to the island of Macau. Macau was past of the Portuguese Empire from the mid-16th century to December 1999 when it was signed back over to China.  However, it is still an autonomous country until 2049, when it will be fully governed by the Chinese government. Because of that, Macau has its own currency. Macau is also the most densely populated region in the world, and has the highest per capita earnings of any other country!


Unfortunately when we got to Macau it was raining really hard. The ferry from Macau is about an hour long, so we braved the rain to go out and search for lunch... which ended up being even more challenging than finding food our first night in Hong Kong! I swear we went down so many side streets before finally finding a tiny restaurant, once again with a few people running it who spoke no English. Luckily by then we knew what to expect! I got wonton soup with noodles and it was perfect for such a rainy day!


The rain continued for most of the day, but we can't choose the weather so we carried on with our plans. We walked over to the ruins of St. Paul's Cathedral. On the way, my parents spotted a bakery selling Belem cream pastries, which they had had a lot in Portugal in September. The best way I can describe these is that they taste like warm, liquid scrambled eggs in a pie crust. I wasn't a fan!

The Macau Museum was free that day so we got out of the rain for a little bit and wandered around. it was interesting seeing where the East China culture met the Western Portugal side.


After taking a brief recess in the afternoon, we got ready to hit the town. Macau is known as the Las Vegas of China! We went over and saw the light show at the Wynn Casino before going to the Hard Rock Cafe for dinner. No regrets... my burger was good!!!

DAY TWO IN MACAU: 

Our second day in Macau was sunny and hot! We were all happy because we were taking a late afternoon ferry back to HK! We spent the morning walking around the Old Town, which has a lot of Portuguese influence in the architecture, as well as churches and theaters and houses.


For lunch we decided to go to The Venetian. Like Las Vegas, Macau is home to several lavish and incredible hotels. We walked around the Wynn, Venetian, and the Parisian. All of these hotels are home to luxury malls. It's kind of amazing... I saw three Tiffany's and multiple Givenchy and Versace stores. We had lunch in The Venetian in the hopes of finding pizza (again)... but instead got lost in the Grand Canal. (Don't worry... we ended up finding pizza!)


We had to leave pretty soon after getting lunch for our afternoon ferry back to Hong Kong. We had an early night and flew home the next day!

To wrap up these posts, I'm thinking of doing an expectations vs. reality type post, or an accumulation of everything I observed in Hong Kong. Would y'all be interested in reading something like that? Let me know!