Celebrating Family Time with Roast Chicken with Balsamic Peppers


Fall has been toying with us. One day last week it was 28 degrees C, the next day it was 15 degrees C and then back up to 22 degrees C. You don’t know from one day to the next what you should wear.

As summer slips away I think about the events of the past few months. I remember our travels to British Columbia and how while exploring Vancouver Island we fell in love with the Comox Valley. I remember days of long walks on the beach, kayaking, photography, and exploring new places. We enjoyed the fresh seafood of the west coast which we paired with great BC wines.

This summer has also been filled with family events; some happy, some sad.

My daughter and son in law moved into their first house. While carrying boxes into her lovely Victorian town home I remembered when I moved into my first house. The world was full of excitement and anticipation of what was going to come next. What I did not know at the time was that it would be the birth of my daughter.

We also celebrated my niece being called to the bar as a lawyer and my nephew’s marriage to a wonderful girl who he met while traveling in New Zealand. All of these events were filled with laughter, great food and family.

We also endured a very sad event where we said good bye to a wonderful member of our family. He was a special person to us all and he will be greatly missed.

Today we are waiting for the arrival of a new baby girl. Her mom is in hospital as I write this blog. Again, we are looking forward to creating wonderful memories with her and with her parents when she arrives.

Life takes us through ups and downs; through endings and beginnings. The one thing that stays constant is family and I am blessed with a great one.

When I think of family dinners I cannot help but remember my mother’s love for chicken. She made it so often for us that we called her “Chicken Mom”. She would love this recipe that I found in Cooking Light Magazine.

Roast Chicken with Balsamic Peppers

Makes 4 servings


1/2 tsp. salt
3/4 tsp. crushed fennel seeds
1/2 tsp. freshly ground black pepper
1/4 tsp. dried oregano
4 skinless, boneless chicken breasts
2 tbsp. extra virgin olive oil
Cooking spray
2 cups red bell pepper, thinly sliced
1 cup yellow bell pepper, thinly sliced
1/2 cup shallots, thinly sliced
1 1/2 tsp. chopped fresh rosemary
1 cup fat-free, low-sodium chicken broth
1 tbsp. balsamic vinegar


Preheat oven to 450°F.

Heat a large skillet over medium-high heat. Combine 1/2 tsp. salt, fennel seeds, 1/4 tsp. black pepper, and oregano. Brush chicken with 1 1/2 teaspoons oil; sprinkle spice rub over chicken. Add 1 1/2 tsp. extra virgin olive oil to pan. Add chicken; cook 3 minutes or until browned. Turn chicken over; cook 1 minute.

Arrange chicken in an oven proof baking dish coated with cooking spray. Bake for 10 minutes or until done.

Heat remaining olive oil over medium-high heat. Add bell peppers, shallots, and rosemary; sauté 3 minutes. Stir in broth, scraping pan to loosen browned bits. Reduce heat; simmer 5 minutes. Increase heat to medium-high. Stir in vinegar, 1/4 tsp. salt, and 1/4 teaspoon pepper; cook 3 minutes, stirring frequently. Serve bell pepper mixture over chicken.

Recipe from Cooking Light Magazine- November, 2012 issue.


Panzanella with Roasted Peppers, Tomatoes and Basil

This has been a weekend of sporting events. Last night the Stanley Cup Playoffs game between the New Jersey Devils and the L. A. Kings ended with a 3 game to 2 lead for L.A. In spite Los Angeles having a 3-0 lead in the series, the Devils worked hard to regain their competitive place in this challenging series.

The NBA eastern conference semi-finals ended last night as the Miami Heat won over the Boston Celtics in game 7 of the series. I was sad to see the Celtics lose because they are a team steeped in history and have a line up that belongs in the basketball hall of fame. There was a lot of media hype about the age of the players but in my mind they played each game with the wisdom and perseverance of a seasoned team.

Today the Euro 2012 soccer matches are broadcasting throughout the day. Earlier today, long time rivals Italy and Spain ended their match in a 1-1 tie. My daughter, son-in-law and grandson came over to watch the Ireland vs Croatia match. My son-in-law is from Dublin and played soccer there as a young boy. My 17 month old grandson is already starting to kick around a soccer ball.

I think watching sports together as a family builds bonds and lasting memories. We each take our own perspective and vote for our favourite teams or players. We make sportsmen’s bets on who will win and get very excited as we watch each play unfold.

It makes me feel contented to have the kids over for an afternoon game and a meal. I love to make simple, comforting food for everyone to enjoy. This Italian Panzanella is a hearty peasant style salad made from tomatoes, roasted red peppers and stale bread. The flavours of the oil, the fresh basil and vegetables are infused into the bread creating a burst of flavour in every bite.

Panzanella with Roasted Peppers, Tomatoes and Basil


6 oz. stale country bread, cut into 1/4 inch cubes (about 4 cups of cubes)
1 red roasted bell pepper, roughly diced
1 1/2 cups grape tomatoes, halved
2 tbsp. red wine vinegar
1/4 cup plus 1 tbsp. extra virgin olive oil
coarse salt
freshly ground black pepper
large handful fresh basil leaves


Combine bread, peppers, and tomatoes together in a bowl. Whisk the vinegar, olive oil, salt, pepper, and anchovies together in a small bowl and drizzle over salad. Tear the basil, toss everything together with your hands, and let stand 15 minutes before serving.

Distribute the panzanella on plates, drizzling each with a little extra virgin olive oil and serve.

Recipe modified from My Father’s Daughter by Gwyneth Paltrow

Red and Yellow Bell Pepper Soup-An Artist’s Palette

I am sitting here watching American Idol, thinking about how hard it is for artists to get started. These talented people are putting their hearts and souls into their songs hoping for a chance at stardom. We are so lucky that singers and musicians bring music to our lives.

Other artists spend hours creating pieces of work that they are passionate about. Some are writers, actors, painters, photographers, potters, needle artists, quilters, glass blowers or other types of artists. Each of them wanting to share their work with the world in the hopes that the world will like it. Each of them with their own vision and passion.

All of these artists make our world richer. I dedicate this recipe to the artists of the world because it reminds me of an artist’s palette.

This is the last of the recipes that we made at my sister’s house a few weeks ago. We had so much fun cooking together. I hope we can do it again soon.

The bi-coloured soup is not only beautiful;  it also has amazing flavours. It is another healthy recipe from Rose Reisman’s cookbook The Complete Light Kitchen.

Red and Yellow Bell Pepper Soup

Makes 6 servings


2 red bell peppers, roasted
2 yellow bell peppers, roasted
2 tsp. vegetable oil
2 tsp. minced garlic
1 ½ cups chopped onions
2 cups chopped carrots
½ cup chopped celery
4 cups vegetable stock
1 large sweet potato peeled and diced
Fresh ground pepper to taste
¼ cup chopped cilantro


Preheat oven to broil.
Cut out core and seeds from peppers and cut in half place flattened on a foil lined baking sheet. Roast the peppers under the broiler for 15 to 20 minutes, turning several times until charred on all sides. Close up foil and let cool. Remove skins.

In a non-stick saucepan sprayed with vegetable spray, heat oil over medium heat. Add garlic, onion, carrots and celery; cook for 8 minutes or until vegetables are softened, stirring occasionally. Add stock and sweet potatoes; bring to a boil. Reduce heat to low; cover, and let cook for 20 to 25 minutes or until carrots and sweet potatoes are tender.

Separate half of the soup mixture into another pot. Add red peppers to one half and yellow peppers to the other. Use a hand blender on the yellow pepper pot to blend until smooth. Clean blender and use on red pepper pot to blend until smooth. Season both with pepper to taste.

To serve, ladle some of the red pepper soup into one side of individual bowl, at the same time ladling some of the yellow pepper soup into the other side of the bowl.

Garnish with coriander and serve.

Recipe modified from Rose Reisman’s recipe in The Complete Light Kitchen