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.┬áTo 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.

PB & J Parfait

IMG_7703Since having a baby almost a year ago, I wake up in the morning absolutely starving. I don’t know if its the earlier wake up time that makes me hungrier earlier, or the nursing – likely both – but beside coffee, breakfast is one of the first things on my mind! While most mornings an english muffin or a quick KIND Bar will do, sometimes I need a little something more.

This PB & J Parfait was born on one of those mornings when I needed something more. We were out of granola and I wanted to add something to my yogurt for a little crunch. Enter crushed graham crackers! The grahams added the crunch I was looking for and I loved that it was different from my usual. The “J” in my parfait is actually fresh strawberries, but you could add jelly to the yogurt or any other fresh fruit. The peanut butter swirled into the Greek yogurt brings this all together, making the parfait a special breakfast treat.



PB & J Parfait

Yield: 2 parfaits

What You Need

  • 1 1/2 Greek yogurt
  • 2 tablespoons natural peanut butter
  • 1-2 teaspoons of honey (optional)
  • 2 graham crackers
  • 1/2 cup sliced strawberries

What To Do

  1. Swirl peanut butter into Greek yogurt until completely mixed throughout. Add honey to yogurt if desired.
  2. Place graham crackers into zip lock and crunch them up until there are small pieces.
  3. Construct parfait by putting 1/4 of the yogurt into the bottom of two parfait glasses. Layer 1/4 of the graham crackers on top of the yogurt. On top of the grahams, place 1/4 of the strawberries.
  4. Repeat layers with the remaining yogurt, graham crackers and strawberries.

Tuscan Chicken with Israeli Couscous Salad

There are only a couple handfuls of recipes on this blog that I make repeatedly, simply because I enjoying trying new dishes. Additionally, the majority of recipes on the blog have been posted after only trying it for the first time. The recipe I am sharing with you today, I can confidently say, I’ve made numerous times before, and it will be made many times again.

I created this Tuscan Chicken with Israeli Couscous Salad after ordering a similar version of this dish at Nordstrom’s Cafe. I loved the salad so much, I had to recreate this at home. The flavorful grilled chicken on top of arugula, couscous, and tomatoes creates a complete meal. Although the marinade and seasoning are all store-bought, the sum of the parts equals a dish that’s too good not to repeat.
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Tuscan Chicken with Israeli Couscous Salad

What You Need

  • 2 boneless skinless chicken breasts
  • 1/4 cup Garlic Expressions salad dressing, or other Italian salad dressing
  • 2 tablespoons good Italian seasoning
  • 1 3/4 cups Israeli couscous
  • 2 cups chicken broth
  • 3 cups baby arugula
  • 1 cups cherry tomatoes, cut in half
  • 1 tablespoon toasted pine nuts
  • 1/3 cup sun-dried tomato salad dressing + more for serving

What To Do

  1. In a small baking dish or zip lock bag, coat the chicken with Italian salad dressing. Sprinkle Italian seasoning over chicken so it is generously coated, using the seasoning as a rub. Marinate chicken for at least 30 minutes, up to 6 hours.
  2. Preheat grill to medium-high heat.
  3. Cook couscous according to package directions, replacing water with chicken broth. When couscous is cooked, transfer to a large bowl to cool. Toss the couscous with 1 tablespoon of the sun-dried tomato salad dressing to avoid sticking.
  4. Meanwhile, place marinated chicken on the grill, cooking roughly 7 minutes on each side, or until cooked through. When fully cooked, slice chicken in 1/2-inch thick pieces.
  5. Once couscous has cooled, add arugula, tomatoes, and pine nuts; toss with remaining sun-dried tomato salad dressing.
  6. Spoon couscous mixture into bowls and top with sliced chicken. Serve with additional salad dressing on the side.

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