Post Christmas health kick – Chicken Parmigiana

Christmas for us is all about eating, drinking, family and friends.  Now that it is over and the last of the butter tarts are gone, hubby and I have decided to get back into the health regime….especially in anticipation of our trip to Kauai in March!  And part of the regime means eating as “clean” as possible (save for the wine which I refuse to give up).  So we are ‘kinda’ following the Primal diet (Paleo is just TOOOOOOO restrictive) which, in its most basic sense, means we have cut out grains and processed food (except wine…if that is considered processed.  🙂  ).

Tonight is a spin on Chicken Parmigiano and it was amazing.  I will give you the ingredients below but I must admit, the  measurements are SUPER rough ’cause we completely wing it when we cook!


You need some chicken obviously.  Here we have some pan seared chicken thighs (boneless/skinless).


Baby zucchini!


Fresh Basil!


Olives! (we used Kalamata ’cause that is what we had in the fridge albeit not very “Italian”)


Homemade tomato sauce with garlic and arugula pesto.


Starting the layering with chicken and ricotta cheese….


Sprinkle the olives…


Raw zucchini layer




Adding the basil..


Fresh mozza…don’t use the usual lame packaged stuff!


Fresh out of the oven


Gordie’s upright portion


Mine…upside-down (but still amazing)


Paired with Gotham Shiraz – not what I would normally pair this meal with, but tasted great.  And for $14 – what the hell!


12-14 boneless/skinless Chicken thighs pan-fried (you could use breasts but white meat is so boring!)

1 1/2 cp of ricotta cheese

1 cp chopped olives (we used kalamata)

4 raw baby zucchini

3 1/2 cups tomato sauce (we used a can of San Marzano tomatoes, garlic (6 cloves), 1/2 cp arugula pesto (made the same as regular pesto except with arugula), tbsp each of dried basil and oregano, and salt and pepper

1 1/2 cups chopped fresh basil

1 cp fresh mozza

Fresh parmigiano cheese (which we forgot!)

*Note: If you hate olives, omit them but add salt to the zucchini.  If you hate zucchini, add a different veggie – or skip it all together.  If you hate cheese, then forget about this recipe.  Everything is better with cheese!!

Assemble as above and place in an oven at 400 for about 15 minutes.  Then turn to broiler and add 2 more minutes to brown the top of the cheese.   Let rest for at least 5 minutes.  There will likely be a fair amount of liquid in the bottom so use a slotted spoon when serving into oven-warmed plates or bowls. Sprinkle with fresh parmigiano cheese.

Pair with water, a light beer, chardonnay, bubbly, or any red you love ’cause really, who cares. 😉

Rainy Saturday night cooking….

Through Pinterest, I have found a fabulous blog written by Kristina Johnson titled “Former Chef.”  The recipes she shares are easy to follow and the food images she captures will make your mouth water.   A few weeks ago I found her sherry braised chicken thighs with Meyer lemon and olives and have been thinking about it ever since (the link to her recipe will follow – but I have also given you the ingredients we used, below).  I am a HUGE olive lover and although my husband wasn’t when we first got together, he too now loves these addictive little orbs.

While this particular recipe called for pitted green olives, we opted for Castelvetrano olives..mostly because we had them in the fridge already but partially because they are much more buttery then green olives.  For those of you poor humans who think you don’t like olives…..I promise you will actually enjoy the rich Castelvetrano olive, especially in this dish!

This recipe also calls for sherry – an alcohol I am not that familiar with.  Because Kirstina doesn’t talk about the sherry she used, I will share our choice.  I avoided ‘cooking sherry’ which sounds like cooking wine to me….and cooking wine is NOT good.  So I went to the liquor store and kinda went mid-range with a dry sherry from Spain called Alvear Fino.  And although Kristan’s recipe calls for 1/3 of a cup – we probably used closer to half….a cup (not the bottle silly people).  I will say that we did try the sherry all on its own as the bottle suggested and both of us agreed. It is awful!!

We made a few other alterations….like finishing off the sauce with a big dollop of butter, and instead of couscous we made quinoa…I also think this dish would be really good on rice, pasta, or even pureed cauliflower. Hell, it would probably be just fine in a bowl, all on its own.  The flavors were stunning and paired perfectly with Prosecco; a sparkling white wine from Italy.  But, I think it would also go well with any crisp white.  Oh, and one other thing.  The recipe says it serves 4.  However, between Gord and I we managed to eat the works.  Not sure what to even say about that except DAMN….it was so SO good!

My pictures are not near as gorgeous as Kristina’s but hopefully they will inspire you to try this recipe and peruse the Former Chef blog.  I don’t think you will be disappointed.


This is the sherry…can’t say we will do anything with it other than cook.

Gorgeous color….just before we popped it into the oven.

AND after…with the sauce reduced.

Plated.  Stunning.  This almost captures the flavors.  Almost. 🙂

Prosecco of choice but most are amazing…


Ingredients (we used):

1 Tbsp olive oil
1.5-2 lbs boneless, skinless, chicken thighs
2 each Meyer lemons, one juiced, one sliced in rounds (you can use regular lemons too)
1/2 cup (2.75 oz wt.) castelvetrano olives, pitted
5 each garlic cloves, cut in half (make sure your partner eats these as well)
1/2 cup sherry wine (Alvear Fino)
1 cup chicken stock
fresh thyme and oregano (about a handfull), chopped (in my opinion, fresh is important)
salt and pepper to taste (and finish sauce with a dollop of butter prior to serving)

Former Chef:


Cooking extravaganza!

Thanks to my new addiction to Pinterest, I have a whole new world of recipes to explore.  And with the crisp fall weather, I have been inspired to spend some time in the kitchen, creating all kinds of amazing food.  Last night the hubby and I made braised short ribs, garlic mash, carrot puree and roasted cabbage.  And paired perfectly….a bottle of Barolo – one of my most favorite wines.  We topped the evening off with a vanilla bean and salted caramel cheesecake.  Enjoy the pictures and if you are interested, I have given you the recipe and/or links below….

I don’t have a recipe for the garlic mash but I use both the yellow and red potatoes – skin on – boiled with garlic cloves (you can also roast garlic and add after if you want).  Once the potatoes are cooked, I mash then add butter, marscapone cheese, sour cream, whipping cream – and lots of salt and pepper.  And the carrot puree…..carrot and parsnip, or carrot and turnip, boiled together, mashed with whipping cream, butter, salt and pepper.  No low-fat here!!

The sofa has arrived and I am in heaven!

As some of you may know, we ordered a sofa from a place called Room Service in the States.  The cost of shipping to Canada was ridiculous so I signed up for delivery to Ship Happens (in Sumas) and had the sofa delivered to same.  I was a little nervous about ordering from the states and how the actual delivery would take place.  But it was easy peasy!

Last week Room Service notified me that the sofa was on its way.  They gave me a tracking number and told me to call the delivery company in order to obtain a delivery date.  When I called the delivery company, they estimated the sofa would arrive at Ship Happens on the following Tuesday (yesterday).  And when I received an email from Ship Happens yesterday, advising the sofa had arrived, I was thrilled!

We rented a van from Uhaul this afternoon, hopped across the border, paid the HST and voila…the sofa arrived safe and sound.  All told, the sofa was cheaper with delivery, HST and rental, than anything we looked at up here.

We unwrapped the sofa from the vast amounts of cardboard, plastic wrap and foam with great anticipation.  Remember, we picked the color/fabric based on a teeny tiny sample AND, we had never actual viewed the sofa in person.  When the wrapping fell away, we were both a little shocked at the size.  Although we customized it (so rather than the typical 10 feet in length, we ordered a 7 foot length – thank goodness!) we really had no idea what the depth would look like, despite laying out the measurements on the floor prior to ordering.  The sofa is literally the depth of a twin bed and can easily seat 4 people.  With the addition of a few pillows (stolen from the sectional in the den), I am currently curled up on this little slice of heaven and wishing I never had to leave.  Seriously…the best sofa in all of the land.  You should come see it for yourselves!

FabricLand has a massive sale this weekend so I am hoping to find some material for pillows and sweet talk my mom!

My new favorite spot in the house.

With the fire to my right and a glass of wine in hand, winter nights will be fabulous.

I apologize for the horrible pictures – taken with the iPhone – but you get the gist.  Lovely, isn’t it?

The sofa is on its way!

You may recall that back in August we ordered a sofa from a company in the States.  With a 6 to 8 week delivery date, we have been waiting patiently for its arrival.  Today, I received an email from the supplier who advised that finally, the sofa is on its way.  Attached to the email was a photo of the sofa – custom-made just for us.  Now, I will admit I was really nervous ordering a sofa that I never saw in person or physically sat in.  Add to it, the fact we altered the size to fit in our home and picked the fabric from a swatch the size of a postage stamp.  But from the photograph, I am in love……

Added bonus?  I now get to hunt for the perfect pillows!  And it may just be back to the fabric store for that…what do you think Mom?!

Kitchen: Before and after

I think some time ago I posted some before and after pictures of the kitchen…..but I think the floor was covered and we had yet to unpack.  Since I haven’t posted anything in a long while, I thought I would share these before and after photos.  I LOVE our kitchen.  LOVE.

I know I probably don’t have to say it, but these are “before”.  😉


New windows and the siding is done!

It has been a long time since I posted to the blog but we have been waiting for the green/blue windows to be switched out and the siding to be finished.  If you have been following our progress you will recall that we decided to paint our siding, rather than replace it – at least for now.  But….because we had altered the exterior during the renovations, we were missing portions of siding all together.  So, while the existing siding got a coat of paint (which I have shared previously) we put the rest on hold.

Recently, with the help of his husband in-law (thanks Derek!), Gordie replaced the missing siding.  Around the same time, we also had a glass guy replace the ugly front windows with regular glass and finally, save for the gutters (which we hope to do before winter sets in), the house looks ‘normal’.  The following are some before and after pictures.  What do you think!?



(we didn’t replace the windows, just the glass – SOOOO much cheaper!)





BEFORE (so hideous!):



AFTER (the stairs are from the garage and temporary – deck next year!):




As an aside, our new couch should be here in the next few weeks so I hope to be able to give you some before and after pictures of the inside, save for our still hideous bedroom and laundry room which are my projects for the winter!

An oil leak in the pond is never good…..

Just prior to heading out to a family wedding, Gordie noticed an oil slick across the top of our pond….and all the water-skimmers (bugs) were dead. Apparently our pump went T.U and the oil (OIL!!) that powers the motor, leaked into the pond.  Gord did what he could to manage it until our return but my final glimpse of the pond before we headed out for the weekend made me extremely sad.  A slick of oil on the top and no signs of our fish – all which led me to believe they had died.  Sad we had killed the fish we had purchased and all the babies they had produced, I was especially sad that we had killed Doug. 😦

After an amazing wedding – and awesome weekend with family, we returned to find the oil had dissipated somewhat, and the minnows were still swimming around!  With high hopes, Gord spent the afternoon and evening skimming off the top of the water in the hopes of removing the remainder of the oil.  A bit of scrubbing to the liner and the pond is looking a lot better….although all the plants that were in it were sacrificed since they hold the oil in their roots.  On a happier note, we fed the fish and saw some of the bigger ones surface, although I have yet to spot Doug…..sigh.

This is the water AFTER it has been skimmed.  It was soooooo bad!  The little orange things you see under the surface, are the babies.

Shop-vacs come in handy!

All the dead water plants.  Booooooo…..

On another note, we switched out the entrance light for a new one that hangs a little longer – and looks MUCH better.  The old one went back into the spare bedroom where it belonged and I really love them both now….

And finally, we have a glass guy coming this Friday to switch out the old green/blue glass at the front, for regular old window glass – and at the same time are removing the aluminum squares…..I can hardly wait!!

Another busy weekend…

We finally finished painting the house this weekend, then started on the garage.  It is a work in progress and I am not allowed to share with you, the pictures of the transformation, until it is complete.  But we installed several large armoire type cabinets for storage, painted my grandparents old dresser – for further storage – and painted the stairs that lead from the garage to the laundry room.  All I can give you for now, is the stairs as they dry in the driveway.  The color is fresh – an antique teal – and perfect for lightning up a dingy garage.

ODDLY, IT LOOKS BABY BLUE – BUT IT REALLY IS TEAL (and the dresser is the same color – with the old brass handles spray painted black – lovely!)

On another note, we spent some time today sipping Strongbow by the pond and noticed that the Wisteria is in bloom again.  Although nothing like it was in the spring, I was surprised to see it flowering….not sure if this is normal?

AND, the most exciting event of the weekend….we ordered our sofa.  Yay!  Since it takes 8 weeks to deliver, we thought we should get on it, so we have something to sit on in time for Christmas.  Hopefully the armchairs that we need to accompany the sofa, doesn’t take as long to pick out – or order!

And finally, we watched Floyd rolling around in the lawn a few days ago and when he came back, he smelled HORRIBLE.  So Gord went and had a look and found the remnants of what we believe to be a mole.

Gord did a happy dance last night thinking the problem had been solved…….until he found a brand new hole this morning.  Booo!

Changing colors…..

If you saw our post last week, you will know that we decided to paint our peach siding, rather than replace it.   And of course, we picked the hottest weekend we have had all year to start this project.  So while normal people spent their long weekend relaxing by some form of water, we spent three days chasing the sun around the house – or it may have been the other way around.  In any event,  it is almost finished…and although the color isn’t what we would have chosen for new siding (options are limited in paint when you have to stay in the same color tone as the original siding color), it is a HUGE improvement.


AFTER – BRICK STAINED, BUSHES REMOVED, SIDING PAINTED (new eaves, in black, to come!).

GARAGE DOORS (we decided that we would wait to replace them – and so we painted).


WELL IT’S GONE (next year we are going to re-do the beds).

THE COLOR DIFFERENCE (we still have a small area on each side to do – and the area where the siding has been removed).


AND A SUPER BIG THANKS TO HANNAH (who mowed the entire lawn by herself and did random chores all weekend – HUGE HELP!!).

AND WHILE WE WERE BUSY, THESE TWO WERE NEGLECTED AND BORED (hanging out in our unfinished laundry room).

I am off now to enjoy a glass of wine and listen to the thunder and lightning storm we are having.  After all that hot and humid weather, we need a little shower….and nothing smells like summer like rain on hot dry pavement.  🙂