Hello! Before you get all excited to read what cool new post this blog has to offer, let me stop you right there.  It’s time to get really excited because, yes, this is not Debbie writing.  Fortunately, good ‘ol Deb here decided to let her daughter, Jamie, (that’s me!) take a whack at blogging.  So buckle up readers and followers (all 3 of you?) for an exciting glimpse of what it’s like to be a 19 year old girl living all alone for the first time, a good 2,000 miles away from her family in the—rather stormy—city of Houston, Texas.  

Whenever I tell people that I’m living in Houston for the summer, they always ask…..why..?  Why would you ever leave the great state that is California, equipped with superb weather surrounded by mountains and beaches and awesome food? And for a second, I nod and smile, and in my head wonder if I am, in fact, a crazy person for doing such a thing. Houston definitely is different from Los Gatos.  It rains here, a lot.  And I’m not talking just a light drizzle every now and then.  I’m talking hurricanes and tropical storms(whaddup trop storm Bill?) that DUMP rain and wind onto Houston and cause flash floods and rattle the windows in my room.  Did I mention that it’s a constant 90 plus degrees out, too? I also am not in possession of a car, which is quite inconvenient to get around Houston, and if it weren’t for my 8-5 job, I would probably stay holed up in my room watching Netflix all day—which is what I do after I get home from work.  But after that second is over, I realize that I wouldn’t trade it for the world. Houston is an awesome city, once you get out and explore it.  It’s diverse and fast-paced and always fun to explore.  For once in my life I’m earning a steady paycheck, paying rent, buying my own food, navigating through a completely new city, and making my own decisions.  I feel like a grown up, and I’m pretty darn proud of myself. 

But what you never realize before you start living on your own is how much you’ll miss your mom.  I never notice until I go home and follow her around like a puppy dog.  So, on days when I especially miss her, I like to cook recipes that she always makes me.  The other day, I decided to make her chicken tortilla soup—a slightly spicy, warm, and cheesy bowl of goodness that reminds me of home.

Chicken Tortilla Soup

Chicken Tortilla Soup


  • Chicken-Avocado Tortilla Soup
  • PREP AND COOK TIME: About 30 minutes
  • MAKES: 6 servings
  • 1/3 cup chopped onion
  • 3 cloves garlic, peeled and chopped
  • 3/4 teaspoon ground cumin
  • 3/4 teaspoon dried oregano
  • 1/4 teaspoon chili powder
  • 1/4 teaspoon pepper
  • 8 cups fat-skimmed chicken broth
  • 1 can (14 oz.) diced tomatoes
  • 1 can (4 oz.) diced green chilies
  • 10 corn tortillas (6 in. wide)
  • 1 1/2 pounds boned, skinned chicken breasts
  • 1 firm-ripe avocado (1/2 lb.)
  • 2 tablespoons chopped fresh cilantro
  • Salt
  • About 1/2 cup shredded reduced-fat sharp cheddar cheese


  • 1. In a 5- to 6-quart nonstick pan over medium heat, stir onion, garlic, cumin, oregano, chili powder, and pepper until spices are fragrant, about 1 minute. Add broth, tomatoes (including juice), and green chilies. Cover and bring to a boil over high heat.
  • 2. Meanwhile, stack tortillas and cut into 1/8-inch-wide strips. Add to boiling broth. Reduce heat, cover, and simmer for 15 minutes, stirring occasionally.
  • 3. Rinse chicken and cut into 1/2-inch pieces. Peel the avocado, pit, and thinly slice.
  • 4. Add chicken to broth and return to a boil over high heat. Reduce heat, cover, and simmer until chicken is white in center (cut to test), about 5 minutes. Stir in cilantro and salt to taste. Ladle into soup bowls, garnish with avocado, and add cheese to taste.
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Thanks for reading, comments welcomed!