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

Austin Adventures

This past week my friend and I went on a mini road trip to Austin.
I booked an Airbnb in advance and while searching and refining my search, I found the dreamiest Airstream you could ever lay your eyes on.

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As you could imagine, the inside was even lovelier. Decorated with vintage décor and older maps used as wallpaper, this place had so much charm.

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On an acre of land, this airstream had it all. A huge garden, a hammock, and tons of animals.

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While I was planning this trip months in advance, I looked up different places on Yelp that had great reviews and had Vegan options for Chelsea. While I am not Vegan, I wanted to respect her choices and keep an open mind to try new things.

On our first night in town, we stopped at The Halal Corner which was a Mediterranean restaurant.

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It was amazing! I’ve never had tzatziki or falafels but based on this place, I would have them both again. Next time I am in Austin, I will be returning to The Halal Corner.
I can still taste the spices and herbs just by looking at the pictures.

The next morning, we got an early start and headed to Kerbey Lane Café for breakfast.

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Chelsea ordered the Vegan Breakfast Platter and I ordered the Chicken and Pancakes from their Spring Menu and a Mimosa.

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Fried chicken breast, cinnamon-beignet pancakes, strawberry maple-jalapeño sauce, and powdered sugar. Drools*

After breakfast, we made our way down to East Austin Succulents which I also came across on Yelp.

This was probably my favorite spot to visit on our trip. Solely for the fact that I am a plant lady.
I could go on and on about how beautiful it was but I’ll let the pictures speak for themselves.

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We didn’t leave empty handed. We bought a few indoor plants and succulents and we both got matching brown planter girls which I am over the moon about.

Later on for dinner, we tried a Thai restaurant called Madam Mam’s that I heard about from my former boss.
As soon as we walked inside, I knew it was going to be a winner.

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The Chicken Larb Spring Roll doesn’t look like much but it is one of the best things I have ever consumed in my entire life. Seriously, mouth watering.

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As my main dish, I ordered the Pad Kee Mao also known as the Drunken Noodles. It had the perfect amount of heat and the portions were huge.

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After dinner, we found ourselves craving something sweet so we made a quick stop at Sweet Ritual which is a Vegan ice cream shop.
It was a small hole in the wall but while we were sampling different flavors, we noticed how insanely busy it was.

After sampling, I decided on Unicorn Poop.

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It was delicious and I promise you could not even tell it was coconut based or vegan.

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I actually wished we had a Sweet Ritual back home!

On our last day, we found ourselves thrifting for hours. I know, I know, we were out of town and should have been shopping like crazy at the mall but we went thrifting instead.

After our big spending, we stopped at Desano’s Pizza Bakery.
I loved their mural on the wall but I loved the Margherita D.O.P. I ordered even more.
The pizza was super light and all the ingredients tasted so fresh.

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For our last stop, we went to Lammes Candies.
I heard it was a big deal with all the homemade candy from scratch and I knew I had to visit.

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I came home with some Carmelitos, Kisses, Sherbet Mints, Texas Pecan Pralines, and Licorice.

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I did not realize how attached I would become to the airstream and as I was checking out, I kept finding myself looking back at it not wanting to leave.
It was comforting to know that after a few minutes of departing, the hostess of the Airbnb sent me a message saying we were pleasant guests and that they would host us again.

I’m already planning my next stay.

Xoxo,

– R. Vargas

 

 

Pie-Tap Pizza Workshop + Bar

I was recently invited to Pie-Tap  for dinner and was welcomed by such a great staff who were very attentive and knowledgeable about the product and concept.

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The owner of Pie-Tap is known to be an entrepreneur with big ideas who is also a major health freak.
When he thought of the concept of Pie-Tap, he wanted great pizza yet simple and clean.

The dough that is served takes 96 hours for the yeast to ferment and only contains five ingredients. Nothing out of the ordinary, nothing you are not able to pronounce. The crust offered can also be gluten free.

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Pie-Tap’s head chef Gio comes from Sicily and when the concept of this restaurant was created, they traveled the world for the variety of sauces to incorporate.
That being said, all pastas and bread are homemade.

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Pie-Tap takes pride in working with local vendors and farmers.Some ingredients such as herbs are even pulled directly from their garden outside of their dining area.

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The star(s) of the workshop are really the twin Italian ovens that were shipped directly from Italy. These were said to be a necessity.
They are the key to the operations and pizza. 

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As if they didn’t offer enough already, they deliver pizza, beer and wine everyday of the week!
Choose from over 35 taps which include beer and wine.

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Passion is put behind every single dish and plate. Everything is fresh, flavorful, and the pizza is unlike any kind of pizza you’ve ever had before.
The marinara sauce taste like the tomatoes were just picked from the garden and squeezed in the kitchen and placed on your plate before you. It is that fresh!

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What really amazed me was that chef courses are offered to employees! Chef courses! What other company do you know that does that?
It’s obvious this company not only cares about their product and ingredients but also their employees.

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The kitchen is an open concept because the transparency to see what the chefs are cooking, how they are handling the food, and what they are serving to guests is essential.

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Not only was the food amazing but I truly believe the hospitality that was displayed here is everything a restaurant should be. My blog content photographer Jannet and I cannot thank Pie-Tap enough for the privilege of hosting us!
If you live in the DFW area be sure to wine & dine at one of Pie-Tap’s locations. Just make sure you reserve a table since it is a popular spot!

I’ll be heading back soon for the brunch specials, you can’t beat $3 Mimosas!

Xoxo,

– R. Vargas

| Pie-Tap provided me with product. The opinions I have shared about the products are solely my own. | All photography credit is due to the services of Jannet Medellin Photography

Cinnaholic

I was recently invited to Cinnaholic to try some of their amazing gourmet cinnamon rolls and I was greeted by two lovely sisters Elisa and Brittany who own and operate this franchise location.
Their warmth and wonderful hospitality is one of the many reasons why people keep coming back for these cinnamon rolls.

This franchise was opened a little over three months ago and the concept began when Elisa and Brittany made a trip to California to check out a Cinnaholic location there which was recommended by their sister Jennifer and fell in love with the product and the company.

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Not only are these gourmet cinnamon rolls 100% vegan, they are made with quality ingredients, they are also dairy & lactose-free, egg-free and cholesterol-free.

Too good to be true right?

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Raspberry frosting, topped with blueberries and pie crumble.

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Chocolate frosting, topped with coconut, chocolate chips and chocolate sauce.

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Their bestseller, “Cookie Monster.” Cream cheese frosting, topped with cookie dough and chocolate sauce.

These may be vegan but I promise you will not taste any difference in them and as a matter of fact, they taste better than a regular cinnamon roll and you won’t have any guilt after indulging in one!

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Indulging in the, “Cookie Monster.

Cinnaholic’s frosting flavors include: Almond, Amaretto, Banana Cream, Butterscotch, Cake Batter, Caramel, Chai, Chocolate, Coffee, Cream Cheese, Hazelnut, Lemon, Macadamia Nut, Maple, Marshmallow, Orange, Peanut Butter, Raspberry, Strawberry and Vanilla.
Their toppings include: Almonds, Apples, Bananas, Blackberries, Blueberries, Brownie Bites, Caramel Sauce, Chocolate Chips, Chocolate Sauce, Coconut, Cookie Dough, Gingersnap Cookies, Graham Crackers, Marshmallows, ‘Oreo’ Cookies, Pecans, Pie Crumble, Pretzels, Raspberries, Strawberries, Strawberry Jam and Walnuts.

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Not only do they offer cinnamon rolls but they also have brownies, cookies, and cookie dough all made from scratch!

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This bakery had such a great atmosphere and is set in an area where partnering with local vendors, schools, and investing in the community is truly valuable to this family based business. Building relationships with the community is key.

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Partnering with local vendors like Addison Coffee Roasters and Sterling Tea from Rockwall.

I can’t thank them enough for hosting me!
If you’re ever near Richardson, Texas make sure you stop by to visit Cinnaholic where you’ll be greeted by the sweetest sisters ever!

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At one time there was about 10 franchise locations and now there are 50 with 20 more to yet to come! So look for a location near to you!

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

 

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