Grilled Chicken & Fresh Veggie Pasta Salad by Sylvia of Sylvia’s Simple Life

I am excited to introduce our first guest for the month, Sylvia of Sylvia’s Simple Life. Sylvia’s blog is the loveliest nook of the blogosphere. Her photos are stunning and celebrate the beauty and joy in the simple things that make up life.   My favourite post is one of her more recent, Lilac Mornings. Sylvia thoughtfully reflects on lilacs, fragility, nature, beauty and life without being overly saccharine or maudlin. Instead, I feel like she has granted me permission to enjoy the moment and join her in reflection. Treat yourself and spend some time visiting Sylvia’s blog or follow her on Instagram to see beauty in the everyday.

Today Sylvia shares one of her simple summer recipes.


Grilled Chicken & Fresh Veggie Pasta Salad

Grilled Chicken & Fresh Veggie Pasta Salad

Summer is here and I cannot think of a better time to enjoy life’s simple pleasures and to eat fresh, honest, simple dishes. Summer abounds with colorful treasures of the field ­– from juicy ripe tomatoes, green beans and sweet peppers through fragrant basil and lavender to fresh berries, apricots and melon. Farmer’s markets are operating at full speed giving to those who do not have their own gardens an opportunity to buy local and eat seasonal, something I have committed myself to long ago. Summer also comes with cooking techniques that are easy, straightforward and quick – who wants, in the heat of the season, to be simmering dishes for hours – and there is no need to; simply let the fresh vibrant products do the work. With this simple, easy and delicious pasta salad I am about to share, you can do just that. Full of gorgeous colors and flavors, this market-inspired recipe, truly my family favorite highlights the season’s best and freshest ingredients. Perfect for a potluck, a casual summer get-together or a weeknight dinner whether as a side dish (you can omit the grilled chicken) or a main meal. Put it in a jar and you have a picnic-perfect pasta salad.

Feel free to improvise, make my family favorite recipe your family recipe and do not forget that “when you have the best and tastiest ingredients, you can cook very simple and the food will be extraordinary because it tastes like what it is”, one of my favorite advices from Alice Water. It’s really just that simple and as easy as, well, the summer itself.


1-2 skinless chicken breasts
4 tbsp. white wine
2 tbsp. olive oil
375g tri-colour vegetable rotini, or whole-wheat fusilli

250g (1 box) heirloom cherry tomatoes
1/2 red bell pepper
1/2 yellow bell pepper
2 green onions, chopped into thin slices

200g fresh green peas
Parmesan cheese
fresh basil

Oil and vinegar dressing
8 tbsp. olive oil

2 tbsp. white wine vinegar
minced garlic

salt and pepper


Marinate chicken breasts for 10-15 minutes in white wine, olive oil, salt and pepper. Grill each side of the skinless chicken breasts. It only takes a few minutes per side over direct medium-high heat for them to be brown, beautifully moist and evenly cooked. Let them cool.
Cook pasta according to package directions. Drain and set aside to cool. Boil green peas in salted water for 3-5 minutes or until bright green and tender crisp. In the meantime, cut heirloom cherry tomatoes in half. Slice pepper halves into strips about 1/4″ wide. Combine all vegetables in a large salad bowl. Add pasta and the sliced chicken breasts.
To prepare the dressing whisk garlic, olive oil, white wine vinegar, salt and pepper together.
Add the dressing to the salad.
Toss with Parmesan cheese and fresh basil.


Grilled Chicken & Fresh Veggie Pasta Salad

Grilled Chicken & Fresh Veggie Pasta Salad



Grilled Chicken Breast

Grilled Chicken Breast


“Simple Living” Isn’t Always Simple, But Worth It

145A holiday designed to honour everyone who matters in your life with individualized gifts and attentions is probably not going to be simple.  Not whether you buy presents at the mall, online, your local artisanal shop, or homemake everything.  Celebrating the many people, if you be so lucky, who make your life worthwhile can be many things – a challenge, and opportunity, necessary even – but simple it isn’t.  The couple of families I’ve seen who have successfully done this – say, by sitting around a fire and enjoying hot cocoa to its fullest with no need for more – are virtual ones (and I don’t mind telling you I’d like to get a peak into their non-online lives).

I try to practice “simple living” as it’s called, and I’m here to tell you that while it may be simple, it’s not necessarily easy or less work.  Around the holidays, for example, I almost always incorporate some homemade gifts into the stash, and I work quite hard to involve my young boys in this process.  This year one project of what my son has called the “elf factory” was making jars of peppermint hot cocoa.  They’re lovely, I think, and the boys worked hard measuring out the cocoa, crushing the candy canes, and layering the jars with chocolate chips and marshmallows.   They also spent a lot of time trying to write out the recipe instructions on the gift tags (made from their watercolour artwork), signing them, and punching holes in the little cards.

It might be a simple activity to describe, but it’s particularly easy to execute.  It’s not so simple buying all the ingredients and the jars in bulk and setting up a big enough work station.  It’s not simple to save the watercolour art through the year and retrieve it at Christmas, or to guide the writing of two boys at different stages.  It is positively, unremittingly not simple to engage a two year old while his older brothers get to do cool stuff that he can’t quite do.   And clean-up?  Not simple.

There may be people out there for whom this kind of activity is a cinch, regardless of how many kitchen items a toddler can throw around.  I’m not one of them.  I do it because I love it, because it makes the holidays feel a bit more heartfelt to me, because I want to keep the consumerism at bay, because it’s so important to me to make things with my boys, and because I hope the recipients of our gifts can somehow feel the care that went into making them.  (I’d also do anything to avoid going to a mall at this time of year.)  But it would be much, much easier for me to click a mouse a few times and buy presents in lieu of the ones we’re making, and as I can afford this, I am actually choosing to complicate my holidays by making presents with my children.

Simplifying, or slowing down, or mindful living, doesn’t necessarily mean doing less, it means doing less of what you don’t want so you can make more space for what you do want.  Sometimes what we want is messy and spills onto the floor.  I make gifts with my boys not because it’s simpler, but because I’ve decided it’s worth it, even if the dining table is covered with mason jars and there’s nowhere to eat for two weeks.  If at some point it gets too much, we won’t do it again when the next year rolls around.

But I hope we do.

Simply Living or Living More Simply?

imgres-1I can’t simplify Christmas.  I just can’t.  I love the idea of homemade gifts but I can’t even sit down with the Rainbow Loom for 10 minutes without wanting to snap it in half over my knee.  I have been knitting a scarf – since 2005.  Why bother making my own preserves to gift over the holidays when I can mosey down to the specialty grocer and pick up something decadent without breaking a sweat, scalding my finger or cursing over botched batches.  No sir.  If you want to simplify the holidays, go on-line and get it all done with a few clicks of your mouse and a pounding to your credit card.

But the truth of the matter is that I would like my day-to-day life to be simpler, calmer and for me to be more present in the minutes as they pass.

Almost everyone around me is CRAZY BUSY, myself included.  In fact most people declare it like their worth is somehow tied to just how CRAZY BUSY they are.  In this model, success, talent, and with-it-ness is directly related to how many emails arrive in your in-box with each ping, how many activities are scheduled in the day and the number of projects that are being juggled.


I am blessed to have so many choices – something I realize is not a reality for many people.  But sometimes I wonder why I feel the need to grasp at everything?  Why do I want to experience it all?  Is it, in fact, to relish in the process and find happiness in the moments or am I choosing to swell my to-do list to satiate my ego?  Quell my insecurities?  Or maybe I am just greedy and because I have been told that I can have it all, I want it all.

The truth of the matter is, I used to equate slower paced living with laziness but now I think it’s smarter living and come the new year, I want to be living smarter.  In an effort to simplify my life, I have decided not to say “yes” but instead, “I will get back to you”, making mindful decisions about my time and in turn (hopefully) creating a more fulfilled life instead of a more filled life.