While attempting to help one another fall in love with one another, my husband and I were bound by the strictures and preambles of courtship, a practice we will never impose upon our own children whereby relationships are effectively chaperoned from start to finish and dictated by the lady’s parents. We were legitimized by adulthood—I, for instance, was twenty five and one-third years old, and he was into his thirties—and in good standing among God and man, but tradition is a funny thing and our romance ended up being a haltingly awkward affair, decidedly unromantic, and if we had not both possessed great faith and uncommon optimism, and if we had not been absolutely a match made in heaven, I am confident we would never have emerged unscathed. I remember that The Mister drove up to my hometown, taking time off from his job, to help my father work on a remodel project for a rental property I owned. I was not encouraged (and from what I recall not permitted) to join them as my father ostensibly interviewed my now-husband to determine his eligibility as a suitor. We’d previously met fewer than 3 times, and so the whole matter was rife with clumsiness and was about as ungainly as a romance could be; I was so nervous and aflutter and my stomach was a gulch.

 

I made lunches for them each of the days, tortured by silence throughout the mornings as my dad wasn’t much on regular status updates, and as my boyfriend?—courtship partner?—handsome stranger?—had been instructed not to speak with me too frequently so as not to sully up the pieces of my heart and whatnot. On my own lunch break from work – one hour, no grace for tardiness—I drove home, reheated the lunches I’d prepared for them the night before, and hurried over to the site of my investment property, where the three of us visited a few moments in a cluster. In between sneaking quiet, bashful glances at me without saying much of anything, The Mister wolfed down bites of this Buffalo Chicken Pasta with respectful admiration and, I assume, first realized that cooking was my way of showing love.

 

I never make this dish without thinking of that day: sitting on a weather-roughened picnic bench, in Spring, two feet apart (“Leave room for Jesus!” I said, softly, because it was so terribly awkward, and we all laughed), eating from little red round oven mugs, twisting our napkins nervously in our laps. Whenever I am assembling the recipe I remember the way that, in spite of everything, my heart raced and my hands trembled and I knew, already, that he was the one.

 

Buffalo Chicken Pasta

 

In sauce pan heat,

2 ¼ c. shredded chicken (you can use canned if you want, which would be 2 (9.75) oz. cans)

¾ c. hot sauce (I use Frank’s buffalo wing sauce; some people use Texas Pete sauce)

1 (4 oz) can diced green chiles

2 blocks cream cheese

1 c. sour cream

1 ranch seasoning packet (powder)

¾ c. shredded cheddar

 

Refrigerate overnight if at all possible; the flavors develop. Before serving, gently reheat, and add 16 oz. cooked, drained pasta (I use gemelli, orchiette, or capavelli). Serve immediately or, if desired, place in a casserole pan and sprinkle with ¾ cup more cheddar, and broil until cheese is browned and bubbly.

 

Alternate Serving Preparation: Serve without pasta for a Buffalo Chicken Dip, preferably with scoopable corn chips. Make this for the super bowl and you will be eternally adored.

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