Chicken Tortilla Soup

Chicken Tortilla SoupI love this soup. It’s got a ton of flavor, great spice from the chipotle, and is so healthy. There is just something about chicken soup that is so comforting. This makes a large recipe, so it’s a perfect make-ahead-meal. I like to portion the leftovers into individual servings and stick in the freezer for a healthy lunch to grab on the go. This recipe makes a hearty meal as is, but also fun to garnish with tortilla chips and pepper jack cheese. Because who doesn’t love cheese?


1 whole chicken, cut into parts
2 tsp. cumin
2 tsp. chipotle powder
15 oz. can crushed tomatoes
1 yellow onion, chopped
4 celery ribs, chopped
3 carrots, peeled and chopped
3 poblano peppers, ribs and seeds removed, chopped
1 red bell pepper, ribs and seeds removed, chopped
15 oz. can black beans, drained and rinsed
1 cup frozen corn
1/2 bunch of cilantro, stems removed, chopped
Salt and pepper

Chicken Tortilla Soup 2Place chicken in a large stock pot and cover with water. Salt lightly. Bring to a boil, then reduce to a simmer, skimming any foam as necessary. Cook approximately 1 hour, until chicken is cooked through. Remove chicken and allow to cool, reserving broth. Shred once cool.

Add spices, tomatoes, onion, celery, carrots and peppers to the broth and bring back to a simmer. Cook until vegetables are tender, approximately 30 minutes. Add shredded chicken, beans, corn, cilantro salt and pepper (to taste) and stir until heated. Serve with chips and shredded pepper jack cheese.


BBQ Chicken Cast Iron Skillet Pizza

BBQ Chicken Cast Iron Skillet Pizza 2Pizza in one of my favorite foods, ever. I like it in any form; thin crust, deep dish, pizza bagels, you name it! The same goes for pizza toppings, you can’t go wrong with any of your favorite toppings, but it’s the method of cooking that gets that perfect crust which is key to any good pizza. Introducing…. cast iron skillet pizza! Starting the crust in a pre-heated skillet instantly starts cooking the bottom to lock in a perfect crunch, while finishing off on the oven creates ooey-gooey cheesy toppings. The mix of BBQ chicken, mozzarella and cheddar cheeses, and the fresh red onion, green onion and cilantro are the perfect combination for this crispy pizza.

I used a 10″ Lodge Cast Iron Skillet, but a smaller skillet can be used if you like a thicker crust.

Dough (recipe yields approximately ½ lb. dough):
⅓ cup warm water (110-115 degrees)
¾ tsp. yeast
1 tsp. olive oil
¼ tsp. salt
150 grams flour (just over a cup)

2 oz. BBQ sauce
8 oz. cooked chicken breast, cut into chunks
2 oz. shredded mozzarella cheese
2 oz. shredded cheddar cheese
1 tbsp. diced red onion
Chopped green onion and cilantro, for garnish

BBQ Chicken Cast Iron Skillet PizzaTo make the dough:
In the bowl of a stand mixer, dissolve yeast in warm water until frothy, approximately 2 minutes. Using the dough hook attachment, add olive oil, salt and flour and mix on low to combine. Scrape flour off sides as needed, and increase to speed 2 for 2 minutes, until dough clings to hook and bowl is clean. Form dough into a ball, put into an oiled bowl and cover with plastic wrap. Let rise until doubled in size, approximately 1 hour.


BBQ Chicken Cast Iron Skillet Pizza 3Preheat oven to 525 degrees. Once dough is ready, heat skillet on medium until preheated, but not smoking. Carefully press dough into hot skillet, stretching to edges with fingers, being careful not to touch the hot skillet! Cook on medium heat for two minutes, then start to assemble to toppings. Layer BBQ sauce, cheese, chicken and red onion and transfer skillet to oven until bubbly, about 10 minutes. Garnish with green onions, cilantro and serve.


Dark Chocolate Hazelnut Truffles

Dark Chocolate Hazelnut TrufflesIf you are receiving a gift from me, there is a good chance it will be edible.   These truffles are chocolate-y, Nutella-y and perfect with a cup of coffee or a glass of red wine.  That’s my kind of treat!  I learned how to make these at a bakeshop in Austin called Make it Sweet.  They have all kinds of dessert classes, and they are so much fun.  Once you have the concept down, the ideas are really endless.  All you need for ganache is 2 parts of chocolate to 1 part cream.  Feel free to change it up!   Like peanut butter instead of Nutella?  Use that.  Think the chopped hazelnuts would be good mixed into the ganache?  I do too.  Pick your favorites and make a sweet surprise for a friend’s birthday or Valentine’s Day.

Dark Chocolate Hazelnut Truffles 2Ingredients (makes approximately 35 tablespoon sized truffles):
For the ganache:
1 lb. dark chocolate, small pieces or chopped
1 cup Nutella
1 cup cream

For coating:
¼ lb. hazelnuts, chopped into small pieces

Dark Chocolate Hazelnut Truffles 3Place chocolate and Nutella in heatproof bowl.  In a small saucepan, bring cream barely to a boil, then pour over chocolate and Nutella.  Let stand 2 minutes before mixing (this is important!), then mix to fully incorporate with a small spatula, making sure all chocolate pieces are melted and ganache is smooth.  Letting the mixture sit a few minutes will help melt the chocolate more evenly.  Put ganache in refrigerator for approximately 3 hours, until firm enough to roll.  Using your hands, roll truffles into rounds and dip in chopped hazelnuts to coat.



Barcelona - La Sagrada Familia

Barcelona – La Sagrada Familia

Barcelona is a beautiful city with amazing art history and a young fresh culture. There are so many things to see and do (and eat of course!).

The Cotton House hotel on Gran Vìà de les Corts Catalanes, is an upscale and modern hotel in the former headquarters of the Cotton Textile Foundation “Fundación Textil Algodonera”, a 19th-century style building, traditional in the city of Barcelona. In 2015, the building was refurbished to open the beautiful hotel while maintaining the original elements of the building. The marble and spiral staircases, ceiling, floor and wall embellishments have all been conserved in the beautiful new hotel. The hotel staff are friendly, helpful and there is an upscale lounge for breakfast or an evening cocktail.

The city’s art scene is heavily influenced by Gaudí, including La Sagrada Familia, an iconic church with three grand façades: Nativity, Passion and Glory. The Nativity façade bears the most Gaudí influence, and was completed prior to his death. The Passion façade is strikingly different to the Nativity façade, with tormented symbolical characters representing human sin, and was constructed by other architects with the plans left by Gaudí. The Glory façade, which is under construction, will be the largest façade and will represent the ascension to God. It is expected to be completed in 2026, marking the 100 year anniversary of Gaudí’s death. The church’s building materials are a stunning collection of stones, tiles and colored stained glass windows.

Barcelona - Park Guell

Barcelona – Park Guell

Strolling around Park Güell is a must, another beautiful Gaudí creation. The two mile hike from the Cotton House was mostly uphill, but the views of Barcelona are beyond spectacular. The park was conceived by Güell and Gaudí, and was originally designed to be a grouping of artistic, high-quality homes. The idea never took off, and only a few homes were built, leaving a city landmark with beautiful architecture and views not to be missed.




Barcelona - Cook and Taste 2

Seafood Paella at Cook and Taste Barcelona

Taking a cooking class in Barcelona is a fun way to spend an afternoon, learning some traditional Catalan dishes and enjoying our delicious, fresh lunch while wine was flowing throughout the class. Cook and Taste is located in the Gothic quarter, down one of the many narrow streets, and starts with a walking tour to the Boquera Market, an open air market with fresh seasonal vegetables and seafood catches. After purchasing the ingredients for class, the cooking began! A four course meal was prepared, including a seafood paella and a beautiful custard dessert with a delightfully caramelized top. Complete with recipe cards to go, the taste of Barcelona can be recreated at home.

Dessert at Cook and Taste Barcelona

Dessert at Cook and Taste Barcelona

The restaurants in Barcelona are a treat, especially Bodega 1900, the Adrià brothers’ latest venture in Barcelona. In this small restaurant you will find house made vermouth and thoughtful tapas dishes highlighting some of the freshest seasonal fare. The menu changes daily, but the famous olives from El Bulli are a must, and their carpaccio was delightful. The seemingly simple tomato salad was anything but, highlighting the freshest grape tomatoes in existence drizzled with a rich, flavorful Spanish olive oil.

A trip to Barcelona isn’t complete without a walk to the beach, so stop at one of the many seafood restaurants on the strip near the beach, grab a beer from the concession, and find a place near the water to dip your toes into the Mediterranean and a little people watching.