Chicken Chilaquiles

My husband has informed me that football season officially begins tonight. This means I need to set my lineup, because for the first time ever, I’ve jumped into the proverbial Fantasy Football pool. I don’t even know who my players are or how to set my line up; all I know is that this signals the beginning of a lot more TV-time for my husband.

To me, the beginning of football season really means the start of fall foods and munchies that can be served to a crowd on a crisp Sunday afternoon. When I made this Chicken Chilaquiles, my immediate thought was how perfect it would be for a small get together. The dish, which was inspired by a Cooking Light recipe, is traditionally made with eggs or pulled chicken, and partially stale tortilla chips. I made this with pulled chicken, added cheddar cheese, and topped it off with a drizzle of adobo sauce, tomatoes, cilantro and guacamole. Chilaquiles are essentially baked nachos with sauce, and who doesn’t love the sound of that?!

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Chicken Chilaquiles

What You Need

  • 2 large tomatoes, chopped (I used 2 cups of cherry tomatoes because I had them)
  • 1 or 2 jalapeño peppers, seeded, depending on heat
  • 1 cup vegetable or chicken broth
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 2 garlic cloves, peeled
  • 2 tablespoons tomato paste
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 1/4 cup chopped red onion
  • 3 cups tortilla chips
  • 2 boneless, skinless chicken breasts
  • 1/3 cup cheddar cheese
  • Guacamole
  • 1 tablespoon finely chopped fresh cilantro
  • 1/4 cup chopped tomatoes
  • Additional sauce for garnish: adobo sauce, taco sauce, salsa

What To Do

  1. Place tomatoes and jalapeño(s) in a blender. Add broth, salt, and garlic. Cover and process on high speed for 1 minute or until smooth; set aside.
  2. Bring a pot of water to a rolling boil. Add chicken breasts and boil for 20-25 minutes, until fully cooked. Remove chicken from water, and cool. Once the chicken is cool enough to handle, shred chicken into bite-sized pieces. Toss the chicken with enough tomato sauce to lightly coat, about 3/4 cup. Set aside.
  3. Pre-heat oven broiler to high.
  4. Heat a 10-inch sauté pan over medium-high heat. Add oil; swirl to coat. Add onion; sauté 2 minutes or until just tender, stirring occasionally. Add tomato mixture to pan. Add tomato paste to the tomato mixture to thicken the sauce slightly. Bring to a simmer. Reduce heat to medium-low, and continue to simmer, uncovered, for 10 minutes, stirring occasionally.
  5. Add chips to pan, and stir to coat with tomato mixture. Once chips are evenly spread out in the pan, distribute shredded chicken on top of the chips. Sprinkle the cheese on top of the chicken. Keep the pan on the stove until the cheese melts. Once the cheese has melted, place the pan under the oven broiler for about 5 minutes, allowing the chips to crisp and brown slightly. Keep an eye on the pan to prevent burning. Remove pan from over and top with adobo sauce, fresh cilantro, chopped tomatoes and guacamole. Serve immediately.

Blueberry Steak

Last week was our 4th wedding anniversary, so I wanted to share a dish worthy of a special occasion. This Blueberry Steak recipe is a remake of a dish from Acqua al Due, a restaurant in Florence, Italy. Since Florence is a city near and dear to my husband’s and my heart, this recipe was not only fit for our anniversary, but it is also a way for us to be taken back to our semester abroad and our trip to Italy a few years ago.

I’d wanted to try this recipe for quite some time, so when I bought a large container of fresh blueberries, this was the perfect opportunity! I did not follow this original recipe exactly since I realized my molasses had gone bad and I didn’t have orange juice when I set out to make this. Below is my rendition, which I thought turned out well. The sauce is rich in flavor and just sweet enough, without being too fruity. Although the sauce may not be an exact replica of Acqua al Due’s, it’s close enough to make me dream of our days in Florence.

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Blueberry Steak

What You Need

  • 2 tbsp. butter or margarine
  • 2 small shallots (or 1 medium), finely chopped
  • 2 tbsp. flour
  • 1/4 c. sherry wine
  • 1/4 c. ketchup
  • 3 tbsp. dijon mustard
  • 2 tablespoons lemon juice
  • 2 tablespoons agave
  • 1/2 tsp. dried thyme
  • 2 c. fresh or frozen blueberries
  • 1/4 tsp. dried sage, crumbled
  • salt & ground pepper to taste
  • 4 6 oz filets

What To Do

  1. Heat grill to medium high heat
  2. Season fillets with salt and pepper and leave on the counter to bring the steaks closer to room temperature
  3. While grill is heating, melt butter in large skillet over medium heat. Add shallots and saute 3-4 minutes, until shallots are translucent, but not browned. Sprinkle in flour, stir to blend and cook, stirring constantly until the mixture begins to bubble.
  4. Add sherry, ketchup, mustard, lemon juice, agave, thyme and sage and stir to combine. Add blueberries and stir to combine. Increasing heat to medium-high, bring to a boil. Reduce to a simmer and cook, stirring often for about 15 minutes until the mixture is thickened and glossy.
  5. Season with salt and pepper to taste. Cool then transfer the mixture to a food processor or blender and puree for 30-40 seconds until very smooth
  6. Once sauce is made, place steaks on the grill. Grill for 7minutes on each side, or until the steaks have reached your desired temperature
  7. Serve the steak with the sauce drizzled over the steak

Gavin’s 1st Birthday Party

It’s hard to believe that it’s been a year since we brought our little bundle home from the hospital! it has been truly mind-blowing to see our little baby turn into a little person in the first year of life. To celebrate this wonderful milestone, we had our family and friends over for a birthday party, complete with a petting zoo, lunch, and of course, cake. The party was a blast and we know Gavin had a ball!

The invitation from Joyful Ink:


Animals in the backyard from Cindy’s Petting Zoo:

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My mom and I made the food, which consisted of a buffet of Cranberry Tuna, Chicken Salad and Egg Salad. For the kids, PB&J and cheese sandwiches:


On the dessert table there was birthday cake, chocolate chunk blondies, and my mom’s brownies. The cakes were from Pint Size Bakery, this delicious and adorable St. Louis bakery. The cakes were designed to match the invitation; the finished product exceeded my expectations for looks and taste! Gavin’s smash cake was white velvet vanilla with vanilla bean frosting. The large cake was one layer of chocolate and two layers of white cake, alternating.


The party favors were Barnum Animal Crackers with tags from InkyInvite:



The last few weeks have been a whirlwind of travel and celebrations. We spent 3 days in Los Angeles for a good friend’s wedding, followed by a drive up the coast to Santa Barbara for 2 nights. After California, we attended another wedding in Chicago, my niece and nephew’s birthday party, and then hosted my family in Saint Louis for my son’s 1st birthday party. These occasions have been nothing short of amazing, and I’m so sad that these fun trips and get-togethers are over. Although I haven’t haven’t had a home-cooked meal in 3 weeks, I get to share with you all the fun from our travels:

Brunch at Gjelina

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The infamous spicy tuna on crispy rice at Katsuya


Multi colored raspberries at the Santa Monica Farmer’s Market


Beautiful Cali scenery

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Coolest personalized place settings on terra cotta slabs at the wedding


Balsamic Martini at Olio Crudo Bar in Santa Barbara


Bike ride down the coast to Montecito


Afternoon quest for tacos


Buffalo Chicken Burgers

Today was a big day! After a month of working part-time, I’ve offically transitioned out of the working world. Tomorrow I’ll swap my black work pants for yoga pants and I’ll be a full-time stay at home mom. Although it feels a little weird to be closing one chapter, I am so excited for the next. Tonight I celebrated with my coworkers at happy hour.

In the last month since I’ve been part-time, I’ve already found some extra time to try out a few new recipes. My new favorite recipe of the minute is this Buffalo Chicken Burger recipe from Cooking Light. I made a few modifications to the original recipe, based on my preferences (aka no blue cheese), but the outcome was finger-licking good. I’ve mentioned before that I love almost all things with buffalo sauce, and these burgers were no exception. The burgers were juicy and flavorful and smothered in amazing wing sauce. Speaking of wing sauce, I’m loving Bella’s Wing Sauce (purchased at Whole Food’s), which is short on weird ingredients but long on taste. My husband and I both agreed we could have eaten two of these burgers – we enjoyed them so much!

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Buffalo Chicken Burgers

Yield: 4 burgers

What You Need

  • 1 pound ground chicken breast
  • 1/3 cup panko breadcrumbs
  • 1/3 cup shredded carrot
  • 1/3 cup shredded celery
  • 1/3 cup shredded cheddar cheese
  • 1/2 teaspoon paprika
  • 1 large egg, lightly beaten
  • 1 teaspoon garlic powder
  • Cooking spray
  • 1/2 cup Bella's Wing Sauce, or other store-bought wing sauce
  • 4 whole-grain buns, split and toasted
  • 16 spinach leaves
  • 4 tablespoons ranch dressing

What To Do

  1. Place chicken in a medium bowl; add panko, carrot, celery, cheddar cheese, paprika, egg, and garlic. Mix just until combined. Divide into 4 portions; shape each into a 5-inch patty.
  2. Heat a grill or grill pan over medium-high heat. If using a grill pan, lightly coat pan with olive oil spray. Add patties to grill or pan; cook 5 minutes on each side or until done.
  3. Place warmed wing sauce in shallow dish. Dip grilled patties into the wing sauce, flipping unit coated.
  4. Layer bottom half of each bun with one patty, 4 spinach leaves, and 1 tablespoon ranch dressing, and then top half of bun.


When shredding the celery (so that it incorporates nicely), you'll have to stop occasionally to pull and discard the strings.

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