My Sweet Marie

Archive for October 2013

Here’s a quick and easy dinner to whip up. You can sub chicken for the shrimp easily too! Here’s how I do it:


  • 1/2 onion diced
  • 2-3 garlic cloves minced
  • 1/2 lb mushrooms sliced (shitake, white , brown, portabella etc)
  • 8 oz spinach washed and patted dry
  • 1/2 cup (or more) cherry tomatoes
  • 1 lb shrimp raw peeled and deveined or 2 chicken breast sliced
  • olive oil
  • chili flakes or a red chile pepper sliced very thin
  • juice of 1 lemon
  • 1 pkg of gluten free pasta


  1. Bring your water to a boil and cook the pasta while doing the veggies in the fry pan.
  2. Saute the mushrooms, onions, garlic, and tomatoes in a fry pan till translucent.
  3. Add in the shrimp or chicken and sauté some more, till cooked.
  4. Add in the spinach and lemon juice and cook till wilted.
  5. Drain your pasta once cooked, pour the pasta into the fry pan with all the shrimp and veggies, stir well.
  6. Serve with parmesan if preferred.
  7. ** for vegetarian, omit the shrimp or chicken

I figure once you are married 33 years, you can celebrate all weekend! In this day and age, it’s unusual to hear of people married so long, especially at our age so we take it all in. This year has been a roller coaster of a year so we thought we’d take it easy all weekend, have a nice dinner out and just live it up!

I’m sure you don’t want to hear all the gory details, especially our girls, and I promise I’m not sharing them! We have been reminiscing all weekend, something comes up and we’ll say remember the time we went to Collingwood for our anniversary? Then we spent the better part of an hour trying to figure out what year that was and who watched the girls?! All I remember is the fireplace, how cold it was and the hot tub! Good times.

Anniversaries have always been a special celebration for us, we always do something. There have been times when all we could afford was a picnic in the living room but I know there were candles, sweet nothings shared and gratitude for what we do and/or did have.

My favorite all time anniversary gift was a Sweet Marie bar. We were married only a year, had just moved to Toronto, had no money to our names and we promised each other that we would not even buy a card for each other.  I made the best dinner I could with what we had, lit a few short candles, put on some music and Denis shows up at the table with not only a mushy card but a Sweet Marie bar! It was always his little nickname for me so it was fitting. I know it’s not a diamond ring or gold but to me, it was priceless. I still get choked up 32 years later thinking about it.

Some years you can afford extravagant gifts or trips, some years you can’t, that’s life. What matters is that we are both healthy and happy and have a bright future ahead of us. I love my dear sweet husband and am grateful everyday, well almost everyday, for the wonderful husband, friend that he is. I am sure there will be many more memories for me to share in the future and I look forward to doing that!

Sweetest regards Denis!

Sweet Marie



Denis and I don’t get out to dinner very often. The reasons are two-fold, one I love to cook therefore I usually do and secondly, my allergies make it a bit of a pain  to go out and not feel cheated! Having said that, we almost always go out for our anniversary and this year we chose Bertoldi’s. My friends; I am here to tell you that if you are gluten-intolerant, Bertoldi’s is the place in London to eat! They have a separate menu just for the gluten-intolerant folks, I did like that.

Bertoldi’s is an Italian  restaurant that strives to make the food from scratch. They make their own sauces, breads and even their homemade pasta is made from scratch. The owners will tell you that they like to cook the way their Italian grand-parents did, using fresh ingredients and making fresh food daily. This is a refreshing way to dine as most restaurants today bring in frozen, prepared dishes and warm them in the oven, drop them on a clean plate and call it a meal! Not at Bertoldi’s, everything is fresh and so very yummy! Nope, they did not, are not paying me to say this, I just enjoyed my meal this much.

We started off with a lovely bottle of cabernet while we perused our menus, oh the options! I’m telling you it was a delight to have a gluten-free menu and I didn’t have to ask the servers a million questions. I decided on the ensalada Cortina, a salad of arugula, roasted yellow and red beets and goat’s cheese, can you say delicious, it was! Denis had the Minestrone soup to start and he liked that too. I couldn’t describe it as I did not have a taste, but they can even do this gluten-free. I believe they don’t add the pasta till before service which allows the option of gluten-free.

With the salad came this lovely basket of homemade bread and a balsamic/olive oil dip. Denis said the bread was really good and my only wish was they had a gluten-free bread of some kind. I do know that this is a tall order in a restaurant  that likes to make everything homemade and they’d have to have separate trays just for gluten-free baking, so in short, a bit of a nightmare but I would have loved to have that bread/dip last night. Sorry, I sound like I’m whining, don’t I? I wonder if they’d consider some day to get fresh bread in from Organic’s Bakery on Wellington and serve that? Just a thought.

For our dinners, I went with the shrimp picante pasta, it was gluten-free penne with shrimps, chile peppers, spinach, tomatoes in a lemon preserve sauce. The first plate they served me was the non gluten-free option which I recognized right away to be not gluten-free before even having a taste. I asked our server if he was sure it was gluten-free and he took one look and said, “You know what, let me check”. He quickly came back and said lucky I had asked and said a new one would be right up. It did come quickly and when it did, the pasta was cooked perfectly, served piping hot and just spicy enough. The shrimp were nice and crunchy, cooked to perfection. I am so glad I had him check! This just serves as a good reminder to be on your toes when out to eat, I have to say they were more then accommodating to fix the mess up and that little glitch did not ruin my impression of the restaurant one bit.

Denis meanwhile got his lasagna which was layers of goodness. He was being so polite and insisting on waiting till I finally told him to eat it before it got cold! He did start, slowly nibbled on it while I waited on mine. It had layers of pasta, ricotta, Romano cheese, a cream sauce and a meat sauce, oh my, it did look good. He seemed to enjoy it a whole lot more once my meal came though.

All through dinner, we reminisced about the different places we’ve dined at for our anniversary and we both agreed this one definitely is in the top 3! We’ve eaten at some pretty nice places over the 33 years! When we go out for a nice dinner, we like there to be a nice atmosphere, delicious food, great service and nice wines. Bertoldi’s has all of that and having Absolutely David for our server made it all the better, we affectionately called him that as his reply to every request was “absolutely!”.

Denis, of course must have dessert, especially on a special occasion, so he had the tiramisu which he assures me was delicious. I  had a Spanish coffee for my dessert! I think I could have had a gelato, but with the cold rain, I decided on the coffee sans the whipped cream. Oh how I miss real whipped cream!

All in all, I would most definitely recommend Bertoldi’s to anyone, but most especially to those with gluten allergies. What a treat to dine without worries. Check them out at


Bon Appetit!


Tis the season to carve the jack-o’-lantern and what better thing to do but save the pumpkin seeds and roast them up! It’s easy, a healthy snack that can be packed in the school lunches, and fun to do! Here’s the easiest recipe ever!


  • 1 1/2 cups raw pumpkin seeds
  • 1 tsp sea salt
  • 1-2 tsp olive oil or melted butter
  • garlic salt if you’d like


  1. Preheat oven to 300.
  2. Place parchment paper on a baking tray.
  3. In a bowl, toss the seeds with the oil and seasonings. Lay flat on your tray and bake till golden, about 45 minutes.
  4. Eat them fresh out of the oven, you’ll love it!

Recently I have had the pleasure of seeing all of my grand-kids in their finest form! I love it when they say something so innocently and I just crack up. Sometimes I need to keep a straight face as you wouldn’t want them to think you are laughing at them but really, it’s tougher some days to not laugh! Here’s a few examples:

Saturday night we had Heidi and Blake for a sleepover, over dinner Heidi was telling us that her teacher had been off sick a big part of the week and that made her sad. Blake, her almost 4 year-old brother jumps in and says “her teacher has a frog in her froat, she was having breakfast and the frog just jumped in!” he continues to say that she won’t be back till they get that frog out! You try not laughing at that!

That same night as Blake is dressing into his jammies, Pepe reminds him to put clean underwear on, Blake checks his unders and says but Pepe, there’s no poop marks! Pepe did not hold back the laugh this time, he let it rip in fact!

Evy, our darling 20 month old grand-daughter is learning new words everyday to our delight. Her favorite is ‘don’t’, um you figure she’s hearing that much? So on Friday, I was chatting with Mel on the phone, Holly is having her bag of lentil chips ( I know, why?) and Evy is trying to get some, of course Holly says “Don’t Evy” …fast track to a few minutes later, Holly is off doing something and Mel tries to sneak a chip and Evy catches her.. “Momma DON’T”! Yep, she was caught and Evy used the term in the right context, I thought it was funny enough to share.

Holly loves to dress up and has one of those trunks full of dress up clothes, she comes out in full ensemble with the tiara and all, and Mel says “Wow, you are a beautiful princess” and Holly’s reply? “I’m not a princess, I am the QUEEN!” Yep, she is.

Heidi is our 6 year old genius. At dinner on Saturday while gulping her pizza she says “Yeah when I had my MRI the other day, the Dr. was real nice!” Denis and I just look at each other with concerned looks and I ask why did you have an MRI, did you hurt yourself? She says “Oh Meme, the scientists just wanted to see my brain, it’s really cool, that’s what scientists do!” Um..OK…so of course we questioned Melissa on this and apparently Heidi is in this research study and she did have an MRI and got to take home pics of her brain, and we also found out she is far ahead of her age group in her reading skills, no big surprise to us.

One more, on Thanksgiving weekend we had the kids over and amidst all the last minute rush of getting the food on the table, I had kids running in and out of the kitchen and I said to Heidi “go tell Pepe to feed the dog”. She looked up at me with big sad eyes, like she felt sorry for me, and I said what? She says, “but Meme you don’t have a dog.” I laughed and told her we were caring for Allie, the neighbor’s dog! I heard Phew behind me and realized the girls were holding their breath thinking I had lost my mind or something! Too funny.

Well, that’s all I can think of right now, ask a child a question and you will get an honest answer!

Sweetest regards,

Sweet Marie

Yesterday was Melanie’s birthday, our baby girl turned 27! This year to celebrate her birthday we gifted her with a gift card from Kohl’s and part of the deal was that I’d take her shopping along with her sister Melissa! So at the crack of 9:00 a.m Melissa and I headed to Mel’s to pick her up and off we headed for the border! There wasn’t much of a wait at the border, just a few cars lined up across the board and in no time, we were in the good old USA.

We started at Kohl’s as they had their early bird special on which only goes till 1 p.m. and the deals are substantial! Mel practically got herself a new wardrobe with all her birthday cash and cards! It was great fun helping her find jeans, shirts, sweaters and scarves! She filled her cart to the brim and then the fitting began! Oh the poor things that just got tossed aside! Too big, too small, not the right color…Mom run and get me another size…Mom did you see a blue one in this? I felt like I was shopping with an excited teenager again.

It did us all good to spend the day together, no hubbies, no kids! Oh the luxury of just looking at something because you just want to! No children whining because they are hungry or worse, husbands asking why look at something if you have no intentions on buying it? Men really do not get shopping, do they?

So after a couple of hours in Kohl’s, we went out for lunch to Cheap Charlies, practically in the same parking lot! I like it as it’s good wholesome food, quick and friendly service at reasonable prices. We all had salads, good girls that we are and neither of us could finish as they are huge salads! We had mentioned to Shelby our server that we were out for the day for Mel’s birthday and of course after we ate, she and a gang of her co-workers came and sang happy birthday to Mel along with a round of cheers from the tables nearby! Mel says “Thanks Mom”!  You’re welcome.

With bellies full we round out the trip at Meijer’s to pick up some essentials, groceries, candy, wine, you know, important stuff! I love the variety of candy and got enough for a few neighborhoods! Once we got all of our bags in the trunk (barely) we gassed up and headed back for the border. Again, no real line up and we were greeted by a very friendly border guard who wished Mel a happy birthday and sent us on our way! It does feel good to be back on Canadian soil doesn’t it?

A few giggles and stories later we safely dropped Mel off to her waiting family for her to continue the celebrating with hints of fettucine alfredo in the air, and children and hubby smiling! It looked like they all survived and poison control wasn’t needed after all! Jim joked before we left, asking what the number is for poison control, giving Mel pause, he’s a joker that one!

Life can get real busy and we often forget to give thanks for the obvious but today I am most grateful for my beautiful daughters and being able to steal some precious time with them.

Sweetest regards,

Sweet Marie


I had a request for this recipe so here goes. This is much quicker and easier then the traditional cabbage rolls! They can be done in a casserole in the oven for 2 hours or in a crock pot while you are at work!


  •  1 kg lean ground beef or half ground pork/beef
  •  1 large yellow/ white onion, chopped
  •  6 garlic cloves
  •  1 tsp (5 mL) salt
  •  lots of fresh ground pepper, to taste
  •  2 14 oz cans tomato sauce, (with Italian spices and herbs if you like or plain)
  •  2 14 oz cans of water
  •  1-1/2 cups (375 mL) uncooked long grain rice
  •  1 large cabbage, shredded (about 8-10 cups)
  • ** see vegetarian option below


  1. Put the onions in a skillet with a bit of butter until soft. Add the beef and brown.
  2. Once the meat is cooked, add the salt, pepper, minced garlic, tomato sauce and water to the beef mix.
  3. Bring to a boil and add your rice. Cover and simmer for 20 mins.
  4. In a casserole dish, layer cabbage, then beef/rice mixture, then cabbage and then beef/rice mixture.
  5. Cover with foil and bake at 350 degrees Fahrenheit for 1 hour.
  6. You can shred cheese on top or eat with sour cream if you like.
  7. alternatively, you can do this on low in the crock pot for 6 hours or high for 2-3! Enjoy!
  8. **For a vegetarian option, omit the meat and brown 6 cups of veg including mushrooms, spinach, peppers, zucchini, broccoli etc in olive oil. then continue with the rice and tomato mix. Layer with the cabbage as with the meat.