Spinach Artichoke Stuffed Chicken

A few days ago I decided to experiment with this Pinterest recipe that I had been eyeing for quite some time.
I took the recipe from Cafe Delites Blog and tweaked it.
Overall it was quick and simple and a total winner!

Ingredients:

  • Four chicken breast
  • Salt & Pepper
  • 2 Tablespoons of Italian seasoning
  • 1 cup of Spinach & Artichoke dip
  • Olive oil
  • Toothpicks (Optional)

Directions:

Drizzle some olive oil in a skillet and let it heat up on a low fire while you cut slits in your chicken breast creating a pocket. (Do not cut all the way through.)
Season with salt & pepper and Italian seasoning.

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Fill in the pockets with 1 – 2 tablespoons of spinach & artichoke dip and smooth evenly throughout the slit. Seal and secure with a few toothpicks.

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Place chicken breast in the skillet and brown on both sides.

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Once the chicken is fully cooked on both sides, remove them from the skillet and let cool.
Be sure to remove the toothpicks before serving!img_1806

Quick, simple, and delicious!

Xoxo,

– R. Vargas

 

 

Health & Happiness Update Pt. II 

This has been my second month having a gym membership and trying to live a healthier lifestyle.

Last month my main goal was to just be active and my mission was accomplished because I joined a gym!
This months goal was to research healthier snacks and meal prep plans.
I decided to cut back on junk food which is only difficult when I am craving Flamin’ Hot Cheetos.

Since I already pack lunches for work, I decided I would try to pack healthier lunches and incorporate more fruits and vegetables along with healthier snacks.

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Honey flavored Noosa yogurt with strawberries & granola.

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Baked chicken with vegetables.

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First attempt at prepping my meal.

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A homemade torta which wasn’t all that healthy but I did add some vegetables at the bottom.

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Baked vegetables drizzled with olive oil & sprinkled with a little salt & pepper.

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Baked drumsticks and veggies with a Cesar salad and a fruit cup.

I try to prep my meal the night before so all I have to do in the morning is gather everything in my lunch bag and head to work.

A few things that have worked for me have been to stock up on frozen chicken breast, drumsticks, tenderloins, thighs, etc. and divide the pieces in a Ziploc bag and leave one bag out to defrost and cook. Then I place the rest in the freezer so I don’t have to cook them all at the same time.

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I also bought frozen vegetables and bake them in the oven instead of steaming them. I feel it holds in more flavor.

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I even found myself ordering from the “Lighter Side,” of menus while dining out. (Pats myself on the back.)

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Baja Chicken from Cheddar’s

Another accomplishment for me this month was working out at the gym while my mother shopped around at our favorite thrift store. (There is a Planet Fitness in the same shopping center as that thrift store and instead of shopping, I dropped my mom off and headed to the gym.)
Since I have the PF Black Card membership I am able to visit any PF location so I made good use of it.

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I also added healthier snacks to my “snack shack,” at work.

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My drawer AKA snack shack at work.

I also had a doctors appointment this month and had some blood work done.
I was sure my doctor would tell me that I was borderline diabetic or had a high cholesterol but to my surprise she commended me on exercising and on eating healthier.
A few days later when my blood work results came back, she called me and told me everything looked great and to keep up the great work!
I was so relieved. I just need to keep this up and continue to make healthier choices.

With the small changes I have made, I have noticed my hair thickening, my face being less oily, and less feelings of fatigue.

 

Any healthy recipes or tips you can share with me?

Xoxo,

-R. Vargas

Old Chicago | Pizza & Taproom

Recently I entered a giveaway on LittleMixico’s instagram and won a $50 gift certificate to Old Chicago

I was more than excited to go and try all their delicious food that I’ve heard so much about!

I planned my visit and upon my arrival, I was met by the GM Brian Bosby who showed me and my guest to our seats.

Our booth had a great view of the bar, several flat screens, and the patio area.

Brian welcomed us once we got seated and comfortable and introduced us to our wonderful waiter Nathan who was full of personality and had a great sense of humor.

While looking at our menu’s and not knowing where to start, Nathan took our drinks and recommended the, “Chi-Town Trio,” which included Italian Nacho’s, baked to order garlic bread, and Sicilian pepperoni rolls.

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My favorite on this plate was the Sicilian pepperoni rolls!
Cheesy, pepperoni, marinara sauce in each bite!

Our waiter Nathan made our drinks and even though I am legal to drink, he sure did make Shirley Temple’s look good. I however stuck to my classic beer, Blue Moon.

Old Chicago offers vodka, tequila, rum, bourbon, gin, whiskey/scotch, shots, draft or bottled beer, flights, hard cider, you name it, they have it. They even offer nice virgin drinks.

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While finishing up our first appetizer, Brian stopped by to recommend some different pizzas and other dishes. He also asked us if we were ready to try their hand-tossed chicken wings.
We looked at the menu and with 7 different sauces and 3 dry-rubs, we all decided on Original Buffalo.

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By the time we finally decided on our main course, we were already feeling full.

At first we were all going to share a pizza but upon looking at the menu, I saw that Old Chicago has more to offer than just pizza.

They have craft burgers and sandwiches, specialty calzones, pastas, fresh salads, and of course all kinds of pizzas.

Whether you want to build your own pizza or have a specialty pizza, they have it. They even offer their signature Chicago Thick crust or their New Ale crust pizza dough made from scratch. To my surprise they even offer Gluten Free pizza!

My guests chose to build their own pizza and I chose the Cajun Spice dish.

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The Cajun Spice dish was delightful!
The dish contained corkscrew macaroni, Anaheim peppers, roasted red  peppers and andouille sausage blended with Cajun spices and Old Chicago’s signature white cheddar cheese sauce topped with aged white cheddar, buttered bread crumbs, and green onions.
This dish had just the right amount of kick and spice in it and I’m so pleased I didn’t have to share.

I did manage to steal a slice of pizza and it did not disappoint!

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We didn’t even finish our meal and Nathan and Brian stopped by to recommend the Warm Cinnamon Crunch Rolls for dessert.

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Fresh warm cinnamon rolls topped with a caramel sauce, cream cheese frosting and cinnamon crunch topping. Cinnamon rolls never looked so good and this dessert was AMAZING!

With locations across the states, if you ever find yourself near an Old Chicago Pizza & Taproom, do yourself a favor and stop by.

And if you live in the DFW area in Texas like I do, Old Chicago at Dallas Mockingbird Station is a must!

We had such an amazing time and I can’t thank the staff enough for making our visit so special with their warm hospitality.

My appetite and I will be back for more soon!

Xoxo,

-R. Vargas

 

Summer Vacation 2015

I’ve been M.I.A due to a family vacation which I am very appreciative that I went on.
While the vacation was much needed, I am very happy to be home.

Each year my family and I travel to Mexico where my father is from to spend a few days on his ranch in Durango

After a few days spent on the ranch, we then travel to our actual vacation destination. This year we happened to be visiting Mazatlan.

Some of you may be reading this and wondering if Mexico is still a safe country, and let me assure you that it is.
With the media always trying to condemn the country or portray it as very dangerous and unsafe, it is still a beautiful and welcoming country.
It is true that there are some places that may not be as safe as others but if you really think about it, that’s all over the world, even in your own home country.

Mexico offers a variety of colors, scenery, smells, sounds, tastes, traditions, legends, etc.
I could go on and on about all that Mexico has to offer but it’s something you have to experience and not just read about.

Here is a glimpse of my vacation:

Piedras Negras

Piedras Negras

Lunch at Maria Isabel's

Lunch at Maria Isabel’s

Home

Home

Our first day back home, we had a cook out.

Our first day back home, we had a cook out.

Fresh produce.

Fresh produce.

Roasting up tomatoes and jalapenos for salsa.

Roasting up tomatoes and jalapenos for salsa.

Fresh picked green beans.

Fresh picked green beans.

Peeling and snapping.

Peeling and snapping.

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Snapped in half.

Street vendors.

Street vendors.

Making sopes.

Making sopes.

Sopes!

Sopes!

Rosebush in my father's garden.

Rosebush in my father’s garden.

Bus tickets to Mazatlan. (Notice the Familia Vargas)

Bus tickets to Mazatlan. (Notice the Familia Vargas)

Scenery while on the bus.

Scenic views while on the bus.

My nephew posing in front of a marlin.

My nephew posing in front of a marlin.

Charro Beans

Charro Beans

Salsa's

Salsa’s

Carne Asada & Al Pastor tacos.

Carne Asada & Al Pastor tacos.

Queso flameado

Queso flameado

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Preparing the meat.

Taxis in Mazatlan.

Taxis in Mazatlan.

Hotel views

Hotel views

Souvenirs and trinkets inside the local market.

Souvenirs and trinkets inside the local market.

Fresh fruits and vegetables.

Fresh fruits and vegetables.

More fruits and vegetables.

More fruits.

More beach views.

More beach views.

Pina Coladas by the pool.

Pina Coladas by the pool.

Supreme pizza.

Supreme pizza.

Nachos

Nachos

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Salsa’s and pickled cucumber slices.

Al Pastor Tacos

Al Pastor Tacos

Pan dulce from Panama Restaurant y Pasteleria

Pan dulce from Panama Restaurant y Pasteleria

Almond Croissants (My favorite)

Almond Croissants (My favorite)

More sweets

More sweets

Writing in the sand.

Writing in the sand.

My selfie stick came in handy although my family didn't want in the picture.

My selfie stick came in handy although my family didn’t want in the picture.

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Beach bummin’.

Seashells I collected from the beach.

Seashells I collected from the beach.

Vendors on the beach selling fruit cups and other snacks.

Vendors on the beach selling fruit cups and other snacks.

Footprints in the sand left by my nephew and me.

Footprints in the sand left by my nephew and me.

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The main fountain towards the entry of the beach.

Cotton candy skies.

Cotton candy skies.

Papa Loca which is their version of a loaded baked potato. (This was my favorite meal on the entire trip.)

Papa Loca which is their version of a loaded baked potato. (This was my favorite meal on the entire trip.)

Busy little bee.

Busy little bee.

Burritos

Burritos

Gorditas

Gorditas

Man roasting up chicken at the local market.

Man roasting up chicken at the local market.

Roasted chicken.

Roasted chicken.

His fresh produce.

His fresh produce.

My handmade & hand painted souvenirs I brought back home.

My handmade & hand painted souvenirs I brought back home.

It was nice to get away for a few weeks but I am so thankful to be home to my plants, my family, my best friend, and I’m even more thankful  to be home in time for my Regional Convention!

Xoxo,

-R. Vargas

Asian Adventures

In between having a Vietnamese best friend and Vietnamese boss, I’ve discovered a few wonderful places that I’d like to share and recommend with you all.

First off is CrushCraft Thai Street Eats, an amazing Thai food restaurant with color and creativity served in each dish.

Inside CrushCraft

The ceilings in CrushCraft.

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Phat Ke Mao | Drunken Noodles | Egg rolls | Coconut Soup | Thai Tea

Next up is H-Mart which is an Asian Supermarket.

Inside this supermarket, there are several little boutiques, bakeries, cafes, and other small shops.

Tous Les Jours being one of the bakeries, and not just any bakery but a French-Asian Bakery.

Tous les Jours Bakery

Tous les Jours Bakery

Before I left H-Mart, I had to pick up some Kawaii stationery.

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In the same shopping center as H-Mart, there is another bakery that has the prettiest and sweetest treats.

Mozart Bakery & Cafe 

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Macaron’s

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Omi Korean Grill & Bar was really a new experience for me. You are seated and given a menu where you order your preference of meat and they bring you out several little side dishes that have the freshest ingredients, and finally bring your meat out raw so that you are able to grill it up on your own. Sounds a little odd, but definitely worth a try.

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june 036And last but not least, my final Asian Adventure has ended at the well known Bistro BAuthentic Asian Cuisine with more dishes than you could ever imagine. The menu will literally take you over an hour to read thoroughly. Wherever I go, I tend to be open minded and try something new each time. Whether I like it or not, will all be part of the experience.

Fried Dumplings

Fried Dumplings

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Phở Gà Xé hoặc Chặt

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Maikim

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Yours truly about to try Pho for the first time. (Initially I was craving Hu Tieu.)

Special thank you to my boss lady Kathy Lee and best friend Maikim for introducing me to these amazing places.

Hope you’ve enjoyed my shares and reviews.
If you’re ever in the Dallas, Garland, or Carrollton area, be sure to show some of these restaurants and bakeries some love and support!

Xoxo,

-R. Vargas

Philly Cheesecake

The simplest and most delicious cheesecake you’ll ever make! It’s a plain cheesecake but you can top it with different fruits if you’d like. (I chose strawberries.)

Ingredients:

  • 3/4th cups of graham cracker crumbs
  • 2 tablespoons of margarine (melted)
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  • 2 8-ounce packages of Cream Cheese, softened
  • 1/2 cup of sugar
  • 1 tablespoon of lemon juice
  • 1 teaspoon of grated lemon peel
  • 1/2 teaspoon of vanilla
  • 2 eggs, separated

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Directions:

Combine the graham cracker crumbs and margarine; press onto bottom of 7-inch spring-form pan.

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Bake at 325°F for 10 minutes.

Combine cream cheese, sugar, juice, peel, and vanilla, mixing at a medium speed with an electric mixer.

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Add egg yolks, one at a time, mixing well after each addition.

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Beat egg whites until stiff peaks form; fold into cream cheese mixture.

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Once everything is combined well, remove mixing bowl.

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Pour batter over crust.

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Bake at 300°F for 55 minutes.

While the cheesecake is baking in the oven, you can go ahead and prep your fruit if you choose to top your cheesecake with fruit.

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I washed my strawberries and began to slice them and place them in a bowl.

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Once the strawberries are sliced in the bowl, add in a few spoonful’s of sugar and mix along with the strawberries.

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Place in the fridge and let it sit for a few minutes. The sugar will make a syrup substance.

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Once the cheesecake is out of the oven, loosen cake from rim of pan; cool before removing rim of pan.

Chill in the fridge, and top with fresh fruit.

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Hope you enjoy!

Xoxo,

-R. Vargas

Dinner & Drinks

Saturday night I met up with an old friend for dinner and drinks at The Alligator Cafe.

I chose the restaurant because of the amazing food and live musicians. Over all it’s a great atmosphere and for anyone who enjoys Cajun, Creole, or any type of seafood, I highly recommend the place.
Here’s their website:
http://www.eatgator.com/

It’s been over a year since I last saw her and in between working, going to school, family issues, personal issues, etc. it sometimes is hard to find time for each other but even after all these years, we still make it a habit to get together from time to time.

She goes to Texas A&M over at College Station and she told me all about the lessons she learned in 2014 when it comes to working 12 hour shifts as a waitress, the people she met at the restaurant, both good and bad experiences, her situation at home and how people can be so cruel, responsibilities, her dating life, and how great it feels to be back home.

The Alligator Cafe

The Alligator Cafe

Cajun Fettuccine & Bourban Street Tea

Cajun Fettuccine & Bourban Street Tea

This plate was delicious and had a kick to it.

This plate was delicious and had a kick to it.

Paulinaalove ♥

Paulinaalove ♥

Wallpaper in the bathroom that I really liked.

Wallpaper in the bathroom that I really liked.

Catching up with her made me realize how important certain friendships are and no matter the distance, or the time apart, some people are really worth the effort of keeping them in your life.

Xoxo,

-R. Vargas