Foodie Friday: Teriyaki Chicken Philly

Does anybody else get nostalgic about mall food courts? Maybe I just do because I live in a big city now, and we don’t really have malls. Or maybe the news of Sbarro’s bankruptcy is hitting me extra hard…

Just keeding. I was never a big Sbarro fan anyway—I almost always got Great Steak and Potato. I can remember for years going shopping with my mom and splitting the teriyaki chicken philly and fries (but really we’d just pick out the crunchy ones obvi). So. Freaking. Good.

Well, turns out, making a copycat of that sandwich at home is incredibly easy.


Teriyaki Chicken Philly
(serves two)

2 chicken breasts
1/3 cup teriyaki sauce
1/3 onion, sliced
1 clove garlic, minced
2 slices of white cheese (munster, mozz, swiss all do)
2 hoagie buns (not too soft now)
Tomato slices (optional)


1. First things first, you need to cook your chicken breasts. I was running around cleaning, so I just threw mine in a crockpot on low for three hours and added a little water (could add some chicken stock instead if you have it on hand). But you could bake it, pan fry, whatever suits your fancy. Once it’s cooked, shred the chicken and set aside.

2. Turn your oven on low, about 300 degrees.

3. Spray a pan with cooking spray or olive oil, and heat on the stove over medium. When it’s warm, add your onions and garlic and saute.

4. When they begin to brown, add your chicken and teriyaki sauce. Once it’s heated throughout, separate the chicken into two piles the shape of your hoagie rolls.

5. Speaking of hoagie rolls, pop those bad boys in the oven right now so they get little toasty.

6. Back in the pan, top your two piles of chicken with cheese, and cover the pan with a lid. Allow the cheese to melt, about three minutes.

7. Your rolls should be toasted now. Remove them from the oven, spread on mayo, and scoop your chicken piles into the rolls.

8. Top with lettuce and tomato, and voilà!



Before and After: Redecorated Kitchen

Rental kitchens are such a drag. Seriously. I mean if you can afford a place with stainless steel and granite as far as the eye can see, then good for you. But the rest of us are stuck with hideous faux maple cabinets and barely-working stoves.


Look familiar? I’m not the only one with problem. I could paint, but it seems like a real pain to tape off a bunch of cabinets and appliances, so I decided to work with what I had.


First thing I did was change out the lightbulbs. Even if they weren’t burned out, I swapped them out for a higher wattage (as bright as the fixture would allow). In rentals, lightbulbs are usually replaced (either by the management company or previous tenants) with whatever is on hand, so oftentimes you’re not getting as much light out of a fixture as you can. It may not seem like it in these pics, but it made a huge different for me, especially by the sink.


Second, I took a look to see if I was missing out on any storage opportunities. Outside of the pantry, what you see is what I’ve got… so cabinet space is at a premium. I realized there was space above the cabinets that wasn’t being utilized so I set about finding a solution that was both decorative and functional. There’s loads of baskets out there, but it had to fit the width of the cabinet so that was the real challenge. I happened across these funky laminated cardboard boxes at IKEA, and they were a perfect fit.DSC00584

One of the things that annoys me most about my kitchen is that the oven is so old it’s handle doesn’t have an opening to hang towels from. But the oven isn’t really where you need towels anyway—the sink is. So since there was a big empty spot above the sink, I hung a Bygel rack to hang colorful kitchen towels from. I figure I can switch them out with different towels depending on my mood, the holiday, laundry day, etc. I hung another Bygel rack above the stove to hang utensils from. So handy! Plus, it reduces the clutter of a utensil holder from the counter space.


And finally, I decided to have some fun. You’ve all seen people with EAT signs in the their kitchens; it’s been done 1,000 times. So I decided to do YUM because, well, why not? I bought the paper mache letters from Jo-Ann Fabrics, and spray painted them black.  It was super quick and easy.

The “new” kitchen isn’t great by any means—that’d take a lot more than a few boxes and some spray paint—but it’s certainly more fun. I’m still working on the other walls of the kitchen (the pantry majorly needs to be reorganized and it’d be great to find a butcher block/microwave stand all in one). I do have some vintage aprons in one spot, though I need to figure out a less hideous way to hang them. Perhaps another update to follow…



I Want That Wednesday: Multi-Compartment Steamer

Great news: I got into grad school! Yup, I’m going to get my masters in digital communication, a new program offered at DePaul University. You should be excited, too, because it’ll eventually mean a brand new look for Urban Nesting (you know, once I re-learn how to build websites from scratch) and hopefully more multimedia features too.

It’s going to be a struggle to work full time, freelance, write the blog and go to school. I’ve been doing pretty well at eating healthy too, and I’m worried that’ll suffer once class begins—which by the way is THIS Monday! (I cut it pretttty close getting my application in, and they run on trimesters at DePaul so that’s how I can start immediately.) I love my crockpot and I’m sure it’ll come in handy, but something like this could really do me wonders:


I can have an entire meal cooked and waiting for me when I get home! The three compartments can be set to cook for different amounts of time depending on what you have in there, but really it’ll cook in intervals so that all the food is ready at the same time.

Now, who wants to buy me this fancy $250 steamer? A pre-graduation present perhaps? C’mon, I’m just a broke college student again!

(Images: Sur la Table)


Weekend Rewind: Family Fun

How is it Monday already?! I managed to fit in shopping, sushi, champagne, family, spray paint (more on that soon) and lots of college basketball… so pretty much all my favorite things. I guess it’s no wonder the weekend flew by!

My aunt was in town, so we started the weekend off right with a night out in Chicago. After some shopping at Sephora (read: DANGEROUS), I took her to Three Dots and a Dash for tiki drinks, then we headed to dinner at Shaw’s and finally we met a friend for drinks at Pops for Champagne. I like oysters now! I didn’t used to (or maybe the oysters I tried just weren’t very good) so that was a fun discovery, especially since the oyster scene in Chicago is blowing up.

Screen Shot 2014-03-24 at 11.59.50 AM

Then we spent the rest of the weekend back at my parents house. It was nice and relaxing—well, outside of the mounds of laundry I brought along. But I still fit in plenty of time with my sis, Coco.

Screen Shot 2014-03-24 at 11.59.34 AMAnd I even dyed my hair! OK, it’s not really that big of a deal; it’s just the first time I’ve EVER colored my hair in my 27 years. We used one of those ombre kits, but it’s not even really that noticeable in pictures. I’ll try to get a good one to share. It’s nice a nice, subtle intro to the world of hair color.

Here are some other things that came up over the weekend that I was hoping to get your thoughts on:

1. One of my college roommates got engaged this weekend! I’m super happy for her, and it sounds like the guy was a total rockstar in planning the surprise (complete with “paparazzi”). Girls, where do you like to shop for wedding-appropriate dresses? Looks like I’m going to need a few for this summer/fall…

2. It’s been 10 years since I graduated high school. 10 freaking years! So hard to believe. I need to plan the class reunion. I thought they were joking when they said that was the responsibility of the class president (#nerdalert) but apparently not. Any experience planning a reunion? Or have you attended a great one? Any and all advice welcome! I’m freaking out a bit.

3. Buzzfeed is at it again with a “Which Dream Home Should You Actually Live In?” quiz. I got a room with a view for the trees: “You’ve obviously got a fine appreciation for both the indoors and the outdoors, and that’s the way it should be.” Truth. What’d you get?


Throwback Thursday: Middle School Bedroom

I’m not embarrassed to say I had a crush on Freddie Prinze Jr. growing up. She’s All That? Swoon. He may have been a terrible actor, but you have to admit he was pretty damn cute. HuffPo agrees with me. And Buffy.

But what every tween may not have had was a FPJ and Heath Ledger handmade poster. Oh yes, I caught on to Heath waaaay before the Brokeback Mountain craze. 10 Things I Hate About You? Still love it.

DSC00501Sorry, I should have given you some kind of warning before throwing that hideous picture out there. But you can see my hunky man collage on the left. What you can also see is a SHIT TON of other stuff. I was definitely a hoarder. I still am a little, but I’m a recovering hoarder.


I think I was a hippie child? I’m seeing glow-in-the-dark peace signs, psychedelic art work, tie-dye curtains… and then some chili pepper lights? Not sure where those fit in. Add a bit of an Asian vibe and some athletic gear, and what we have is beyond a hot mess.

DSC00500Also, check out all the dolls and Beanie Babies… ah, they threaten to come alive and take over! So. Many.

DSC00503I think my mom told me one time that this was their furniture when they got married. They waited 10 years to have me, and I was probably 13 at the time… You can do the math there.

Anybody else willing to share their embarrassing first attempts at design?


I Want That Wednesday: Ceramic Hedgehog Planter

I don’t want to jinx it, but it’s actually starting to feel a bit like spring around here… which it damn well should be since it officially starts in ONE day! I really did start to questioned weather we’d break out of the polar vortex axis and ever see the sun again.

But as bits of grass and scrubs start to peek through the heaps of melting snow, I’m reminded how much I like flora. I really should try to incorporate more plants in my apartment. Right now I only have two air plants (whose container is in desperate need of cleaning, by the way). I used to have a cactus… but I killed it. Who kills a cactus?!

I know I don’t need anymore knick-knacks sitting around—and who knows if I could even keep another plant alive—but how adorable is this ceramic hedgehog planter from West Elm?


WANT. Real bad.

His little mouse buddy can come too…

mouseLet’s say I do decide to get him… any suggestions of what kind of plant I should put inside? Think low maintenance!

DIY: Bar Tray from a RIBBA Frame

I am in love with the styled bar carts all over Pinterest. Who isn’t? But when you already have a full-on bar in your apartment, adding a bar cart is a bit overkill. My family already thinks I’m an alcoholic. (I swear I’m not, Aunt Tracy!) 

As much as I love my bar, I’d mostly neglected it as of late, and the middle display cabinet had become storage for knick-knacks I couldn’t find a place for. Exhibit A:

oldbarSo I decided to clean the whole thing out and use some of that Pinspiration to set up a vignette of my own.

The problem: $10 budget. The solution: Work with what you have! (The other problem is taking pictures of something that has a mirror behind it… don’t judge! These aren’t the best.)

DSC00475The common denominator in the bar cart pics I liked was a serving tray. It added visual interest to break up (metaphorically) a bunch of glassware. But not only was I limited on budget, I was also limited on size: It had to be less than 10 inches wide for it to fit in the cabinet and the glass door to still be able to close.

I looked and looked and the closest thing I could find at the right size was a bathroom tray. But it looked… well, like a bathroom tray.

So I got creative! How many of those trays do you think are actually used for serving people? Hardly any, right? They’re decorative. So I just needed something that resembled a tray. Who needs handles anyway?

I’ve been on a big organizing kick (more on that later), and so I just happened to also be cleaning out my closet, where I store a lot of (other) household things that are looking for a home or are seasonal. Low and behold, a RIBBA frame falls into my lap—quite literally. (Luckily, the glass didn’t break!) And it was the PERFECT size.

DSC00472Here’s how to make your own:

1. Remove everything from the frame, including the glass. (Sometimes they’re glued a bit in the corners so be careful! Some GooGone will remove any residue left over.) You can throw out the mat or reuse elsewhere.

2. Remove the arm from the backing (it’s just glued on), so all you’re left with is the thin piece of particle board. There will be two small holes, but nobody is ever going to see those anyway. Put the board, holes down, back in the frame.

3. Cut decorative paper to size and place on top of the board in the frame. Scrapbook paper, wrapping paper, a scrap of fabric, something cut out of a magazine—almost anything will work!

4. Place the glass on top of the paper/fabric. And ta-da! That’s it. You have yourself a customized serving tray in less than 10 minutes.

DSC00473Now, you could definitely get more involved than this. For instance, there’s little metal clasps around the outside of the frame that are used to hold the picture in and the back on. You could get a pair of pliers and remove those or flatten them. They’re generally pretty hard to see though once the board, paper and glass are all back in there.

I’d also suggest adding a few of those stick-on felt buffers (you usually put them on furniture legs so they don’t scratch up wood flooring) on the front of the frame for good measure.

DSC00480I already had all this stuff, so essentially the cost for me was free, but let’s say you had to buy everything: It’d still come out to under $10!

Frame, $4.99
Paper, $3.99 (we’ll pretend it’s fancy paper)

barnewLuckily, the RIBBA series comes in black and white, and a few different sizes so it should be easy to find a “tray” that works for you. (Not to mention the endless possibilities if you bring spray paint and/or washi tape into the mix.)

Have you done any projects with RIBBA frames?