Chicken, Sundried Tomatoes, and Mushroom Pasta

It’s been a rough week.

Monday was, well, Monday.

Tuesday, it was my turn to walk Mocha. Usually, she’s quick. There’s a triangle of almost sand-like dirt just outside the door that is her favourite pee spot, and there’s a big iron face statue a little further away by which she likes to do the rest of her business. Tuesday morning, she didn’t pee. No big deal. There’s still a whole block. No poop at the mask. Nothing as we round the corner. By the next corner she has the leash in her mouth, all decided that she’s set for home.

I extend her walk a little. Nothing. Time is running out. I head for the lobby. Two steps in, her butt is down and a small wet pool is forming on the carpet. I pick her up and almost throw her out the door again, hoping desperately the concierge will be understanding. Too late. She was done.

The concierge noticed nothing. But my morning was still ruined.

Wednesday, there was a fire on the subway. Or something of the like. So, everyone and their extended family were trying to get from my line to the parallel line. On my bus. As a result, I missed my bus. Then the next possible bus. I took a bus that’s almost my bus, squishing myself into a seat and zoning out so I didn’t have to pay attention to the boobs and sweaty armpits shoved in my face. I was late for work and a little grumpy after my 1.5 hour commute.

Tuesday, I got a call from a nearby ‘luxury gym’. I had accepted a 10 visit pass from a promoter on the street and they told me I had won an upgrade to a month membership. Anyone who knows me knows that I’m terrible at resisting promotions and deals, especially if its things I maybe kind of want. I forget to think and act a little on impulse. Thursday, I had an appointment with someone at the gym to pick up the one month membership. I got there, met a very friendly membership manager and was told that actually, if I sign on for a year, I  got 5 months off a year membership. I was given a tour of the (very up class, flashy, BIG) gym and a spiel about how good the deal was. I bought into the marketing. I got home, told M and about it and realized exactly what I had done: I bought a $450 gym membership I didn’t want. When he asked if we should go to the gym after dinner, my gut wrenching response was an absolute no. What was I thinking?

(I can tell you what I was thinking, actually. I want to try to a spin class. Note: try. For like, a month. Not a year!)

Half an hour later, I called to check their cancellation policy. None. Zippo. Nada. I had just assumed, based on past experiences, that, if I realized I wasn’t using the thing in a month, I could just cancel. Maybe with a fee of some sort, but a fee on top of free months, no problem. Very different situation when there is no cancellation policy. So, I have 10 days to cancel with no fault. Thank goodness for the Consumer Protection Act. Tomorrow’s task is a visit back there, this time with M helping me cut through their sales tactics.

Today. This morning. One of my favourite wedding gifts is a beautiful mantel clock. It sits on the shelf above our TV. This morning Pekoe decided to take a trip up there and did a gravity test with it. The last time the clock fell off our shelves, it gouged a hole in my baby toe.  This time, it gouged a hole in our TV stand. It’s not an expensive TV stand by any means: it’s Ikea fare. But still! There’s a hole in it. And ugly, splintered hole.

Rough week indeed.

But this, this was something to hold onto this week. This is almost comfort food. Comfort food with a slight edge that won’t let us slip into the safety of mediocrity. The kind of comfort food that pushes the boundaries, but grounds you just enough to help you get through a rough week.

Tasty. But, admittedly imperfect. It should have been a little cheesier, a little creamier. I didn’t realize we didn’t have enough milk or parmesan cheese for the recipe and didn’t have nearly enough muscle to carry 4 L of milk on top of all the other groceries.

Otherwise, this is a recipe for my favourite recipe list. It’s another Martha Stewart recipe. I decided this week that Martha Stewart is Martha Stewart because she’s actually awesome, not just famous and rich.

Chicken, Sundried Tomatoes, and Mushroom Pasta
Adapted from Martha Stewart.

Half a package of penne, cooked
2 boneless, skinless chicken breasts
A few splashes of oil
1/4 cup flour
2 cloves of garlic
3 cups milk
A couple handfuls of mushrooms
1/4 cup thinly sliced oil-packed sundried tomatoes, or as many of the slimy, oily things you can stand to cut up
1.5 cups shredded cheddar cheese
1 cup parmesan

Get your pasta cooking first. Meanwhile, cook your chicken in some oil. Cut into bite size pieces.

Get a third burner going. Throw some splashes of olive oil in a saucepan (you’ll be adding the pasta and chicken to this, so make it a large-ish one), around 3 tablespoons or so. Add the flour and garlic, while stirring. Continue to stir and slowly add the milk. Allow to simmer, stirring occasionally — you don’t want to end up with a saucepan of scalded milk. Add the mushrooms and tomatoes. Cook for approximately 1 minute.

Remove the sauce from the heat and add the cheddar and the parmesan, reserving enough to sprinkle. Stir until melted. Add the chicken and the pasta to the sauce and mix to coat completely.

Pour the pasta mixture into your favourite casserole dishes. Sprinkle the remaining cheese on top and bake for 25 minutes at 400*.

As I carried the casserole dish to the (coffee) table, I felt like I should be wearing a 50s house dress and heels. I’m not sure what it was about this particular dish that made me feel so domestic.

Certainly comforting. Don’t skimp on the cheese, whatever you do.

(Apologies for the rough pictures this week. I had a brief moment of wishing I had that DSLR camera I keep meaning to start saving for and then decided that the terrible lighting and boring presentation is just indicative of what this week was really like.)

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2 Comments

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2 responses to “Chicken, Sundried Tomatoes, and Mushroom Pasta

  1. Was it Extreme Fitness? They’re notorious for that kind of thing. It makes me never ever want to join a gym. Hope you and M manage to sort things out!

    • It was! When I went back to cancel, the guy had me trying to explain for 5 minutes why I didn’t want the gym membership. He kept doing a good job of trying to make me feel like an idiot. To get him to actually cancel it, I had to insist I didn’t want it and just shut up.

      I had a Goodlife membership about 3 years ago, payed $30 a month for 3 months, realized I wasn’t using it and called with a credit card number to cancel. They charged me $90 to cancel and it was gone. So easy. The fact that Extreme Fitness doesn’t have a similar cancellation policy at all is just sketchy, especially when the membership is $66 a month.

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