Chicken Parmesan

Chicken Parmesan has always been my favorite go to at an Italian restaurant. I’ve always wanted to make it on my own but it’s one of those recipes that has always intimidated me. Recently I found this recipe of Martha Stewart’s online and decided to try it on my own with a little twist. I couldn’t believe how easy it was and how amazing it turned out!

Ingredients:

  • 1/4 cup of Extra-Virgin Olive Oil
  • 2 Garlic cloves, minced
  • Pinch of Crushed red pepper flakes
  • 1 28-ounce can of Tomatoes, lightly pulse in a blender or food processor
  • 2 teaspoons of Salt
  • 1 teaspoon of Garlic Salt
  • 3 pounds of boneless, skinless chicken breasts (split down the middle) or chicken tenderloins
  • 1/2 cup of plain Breadcrumbs
  • 1/4 teaspoon of freshly ground black pepper
  • 3/4 cup of freshly grated Parmesan cheese
  • 1 1/2 pounds of fresh Mozzarella cheese, sliced thin
  • 1 tablespoon of unsalted butter

Directions:

Heat a saucepan over medium-high heat and add 1 tablespoon of the Extra-Virgin Olive Oil, the garlic, the crushed red pepper flakes and stir for about 30 seconds.

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Add the tomatoes and 1/2 teaspoon of the salt and let it simmer for about 30 minutes.

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Lay the chicken breasts or tenderloins (I used tenderloins) on parchment paper or plastic wrap and season with some black pepper and a little garlic salt.
In a large prep pan, combine the breadcrumbs and 1/2 cup of Parmesan cheese. Spread out to cover the whole bottom of the pan.

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Lay down as many chicken breasts or tenderloins as you can that will fit evenly. Make sure you season each side of the chicken and turn over completely coating both sides.

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Heat a large skillet over medium-high heat and drizzle 2 tablespoons of Extra-Virgin Olive Oil and butter to coat the skillet.
Add some of the chicken and cook until golden.

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Remove and repeat process for the remaining chicken, adding a little oil and butter to the skillet as needed.
While the chicken is cooling, preheat your oven to 400°F and spoon some of your tomato sauce into a greased 9 x 13 inch baking dish. Layer the pieces of chicken and top with your sliced Mozzarella. Spoon over 1 1/4 cups of the tomato sauce and then sprinkle on the remaining 1/4 cup of Parmesan cheese.

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Bake for 30 to 35 minutes or until golden and bubbly. Let cool for about 15 minutes before serving.

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I also boiled spaghetti pasta to serve on the side with the remainder of my tomato sauce. So easy and delicious!

From my kitchen to yours,

-R. Vargas

Homemade Pesto

If you’re anything like me, you love Pesto but have always been afraid to make it on your own.
I used store bought for years and finally caved and bought a basil plant a few weeks ago in an attempt to keep it growing and finally make Pesto from scratch.

It is incredibly easy and cheaper than store bought and you can even substitute the pine nuts for chopped walnuts since pine nuts aren’t very easy to find.

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Ingredients:

  • 2 cups of fresh basil leaves (No stems)
  • 2 tablespoons of pine nuts or chopped walnuts
  • 2 large garlic cloves
  • 1/2 cup of extra-virgin olive oil
  • 1/2 cup of freshly grated parmesan cheese
  • salt & pepper

Directions:

Combine basil leaves, pine nuts or walnuts, garlic, olive oil, and parmesan cheese in a food processor or food chopper.

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Once everything is blended and combined, add salt & pepper to your liking.

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Store in jars and seal tight and keep in the fridge if you are storing for later or use as sauce for pastas, flatbreads, pizza, or toss in pasta!

With love,

-R. Vargas

Pretty Planner Party

For the last two years, I have thrown a Pretty Planner Party for a group of friends that enjoy crafting and planning in their planner as much as I do.
We get together and enjoy good & wholesome association, we share washi tape, stickers, coloring pencils, tips and tricks, etc.

Typically I hold the party at a public place but this year I was fortunate enough to host the party at someone’s home which gave me a chance to decorate and plan a menu. I bought the majority of my decorations at The Dollar Tree and 99 Cents Only Store and I highly recommend these two stores if you are ever planning any type of party.

Here are a few pictures I took:

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This was my third year hosting the Pretty Planner Party and I feel like this was the best year so far.

I’m very grateful for the turnout and everyone who brought a dish and supplies to share!

With love,

– R. Vargas

#DIY Bridal Shower Gift

Hello everyone! What goals do you have in mind for this new year?

This year I am working on my creativity and taking it to the next level so for the first post of the year I will be sharing this #DIY Bridal Shower Gift I thought of.
Of course you do not have to use this as a bridal shower gift but since a sweet friend of mine recently got married, I thought this would be the perfect gift for her as a new wife.

During the Summer I went to Target and found this Recipe box marked down for Clearance and I have been saving it for this special project.

Included in this Recipe box were four colored tabs and twelve recipe cards that I divided up.

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If you have been a loyal follower of my blog or Instagram, you may have noticed that I cook and bake quite often. Most recipes consist of family recipes and others are simple Pinterest experiments.

For this project, I only used family recipes that could simplify things for a new wife.

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I categorized the four tabs into:

  • Breakfast
  • Lunch
  • Dinner
  • Desserts

On the front of the card I wrote the title, notes, prep time, total time, and the ingredients and on the back I wrote out the directions. (I used a few of my mothers favorite recipes and made sure I gave her credit.)

I decided to not fill in every blank recipe card so that my friend could write down her own recipes and keep them all together. I did fill in at least one card for each category to get her started.

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I hope she likes her gift and that her marriage is blessed with years of happiness and unconditional love.

Did you like this quick and simple gift? Comment below and let me know!

With love,

-R. Vargas

#DIY Housewarming Gift 

Hey everyone! 

At the request of one of my loyal followers Bobbie of Mrs.Simplicityblog, I decided to share this quick and easy #DIY Housewarming Gift idea that I made for a dear friend of mine. 

Everything displayed can be found at your local IKEA.  


Nothing out of the ordinary or very expensive. Anyone can put together this simple yet sweet gift. You can add in as much as you’d like and customize the items.

Once I tucked everything inside the oven mit and positioned it the way I wanted, voilà! 


You could even tie a ribbon around it for just a little more decor but I personally love the simplicity. 

What did you think of this gift? Is it something you would like to receive? Comment below and let me know! 

Xoxo,

-R. Vargas 

First-Aid Kit Board 

When I read this months issue of the Awake! I knew instantly how deep and personal it was for me.
I also thought it was very timely since February is National Teen Dating Violence awareness month.

The magazine discusses teen depression and what I really respect was that it shed light on how depression is an illness and disability.

Now when I was a teenager “depression,” was not classified as a sickness. It was just a word tossed around to make fun of sad and discouraged people.
Now mind you I was a regular teenager who had their highs and lows and thankfully I never stayed in a depression for too long but there are many people including adults who suffer from depression and never come out of it.

When I felt blue at the time, I just wanted to wallow in self pity. Now I turn to the bible and scriptures seem to be the only thing to bring me comfort.
This magazine was focused on young people and I felt it would be great study material for my oldest niece and I, especially since it had a special project for teens.
We read the magazine, took breaks in between and discussed personal things, read some scriptures together and after about an hour or so we ended our study, went shopping for some materials and headed back home to work on the project together.

The article suggested to create a “First-Aid Kit” for your emotions which included:

  • Contact information of people to call when you feel down.
  • Favorite songs that are positive and upbuilding.
  • Inspirational sayings and encouraging articles.
  • A list of comforting and upbuilding sayings from the Bible.
  • Mementos to remind you of people who love you.
  • A journal containing your positive thoughts as well as positive experiences you have enjoyed.
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Materials for the “First-Aid Kit” Board.

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Her journal for positive thoughts.

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Getting together her contact information to call when she’s feeling down.

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Mementos for her board.

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Her finished project. (She wanted to save room for more pictures throughout the year.)

I’m so happy we studied this article together and she opened up about personal things.
I can only pray she can grow up to be strong enough to seek help should she ever need it and rely on Jehovah someday.

Have you read the Awake! article yet? If so, what did you think?

Xoxo,

–  R. Vargas

 

 

Pretty Planner Party

For the second year in a row, I hosted the, “Pretty Planner Party.”
It’s really nothing fancy, I just get a few sisters together who enjoy crafting in their planner like I do and we craft together and enjoy one another’s company.

Since everyone lives in different areas, I try to meet half way in a public setting.
This year I chose Half Price Books.
I set up the table and placed goodie bags for each guest.
For the goodie bags I like to buy stationery, knick knacks, and a sweet treat.
Each bag is also made specifically for that sister so no two are alike.

Here are a few photos from today:

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What do you and your girlfriends do together?

Xoxo,

– R. Vargas