Today is Cybil’s 9th Birthday!

Well…  Actually, it’s her Adoption Day.  (Shhh!  Don’t tell her – she doesn’t know she was adopted!)  8 years ago we found her at the Chester County SPCA.  We didn’t even notice her the first time we walked through – she was curled up in a ball in the back corner of the cage shivering.  The most pathetic thing I have ever seen.

The aid put a leash on her and brought us outside to a small area where dog and person can get to know one another.  Victor sat on the bench and I sat down on the curb.  She walked over to me, laid down and put her head in my lap.

That was all she wrote.

We filled out the paperwork, paid the fee, and she jumped in the back of the car – somehow knowing she had scored big-time.

Driving home, we started thinking of names.  She had been picked up as a stray on the streets and they had named her “Sparkle.”  We were not going to make her go through life with a name like that.  She needed something that suited her regalness.  Since she is part German Shepherd and part Border Collie, we decided “Cybil Shepherd Dineen Martorano” was a perfectly-fitting name.  And she definitely approved.

This is our little girl the first day we had her at home.  A skinny little runt about a year old – maybe.  It’s hard to remember her being so little.

Fast-forward 8 years and she has us wrapped around her little paws.  It’s not a bad thing.

For her birthday dinner, I grilled her a steak.  She usually gets a bit of our dinner after we eat but once a year she gets her own.  No leftovers on Birth(Adoption)Days!

While her steak was cooling, we ate our dinner.  It was a concept from the October 2010 edition of Cooking Light Magazine.

I played with it a bit.  I used boneless, skinless breasts for the whole chicken, 4 oz of diced speck (a type of prosciutto) for the bacon, arugula for the spinach, and cherry tomatoes from the yard for the canned diced tomatoes.  I also used pinto beans because (horrors!!) I didn’t have any cannellini beans in the cabinet.  And I served it over polenta.  Otherwise, it’s just like the recipe!

Tuscan Baked Chicken and Beans


  • 1 (3 1/2-pound) roasting chicken
  • 1/4 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
  • 3 slices center-cut bacon
  • 1 cup chopped onion
  • 1/8 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 2 cups packed torn spinach
  • 1/2 teaspoon chopped fresh rosemary
  • 2 (16-ounce) cans cannellini or other white beans, rinsed and drained
  • 1 (14.5-ounce) can diced tomatoes, undrained


  1. Preheat oven to 350°.
  2. Remove and discard giblets and neck from chicken. Trim excess fat. Cut chicken into 2 breast halves, 2 drumsticks, and 2 thighs. Season with 1/4 teaspoon salt and pepper. Cook bacon in a 12-inch ovenproof skillet over medium-high heat until crisp. Remove bacon from pan; chop and set aside, reserving drippings in pan. Add chicken pieces to reserved drippings in pan; cook for 2 minutes on each side or until browned. Remove chicken from pan; set aside.
  3. Add onion and 1/8 teaspoon salt to pan; reduce heat to medium, and cook 5 minutes or until onion begins to brown. Stir in bacon, spinach, rosemary, beans, and tomatoes; remove from heat. Arrange chicken pieces on top; bake, uncovered, at 350° for 40 minutes. Discard skin before serving.

Peg Palmasano, St. Michaels, Maryland, Cooking Light October 2010

We both ate about a third of our chicken breasts and scarfed up everything else!  The meal would have been perfect without the chicken!  But that’s okay.  Victor and Cybil have lunch tomorrow while I’m at work.

I thought about a birthday cake for Cybil and decided some special dog-friendly treats would be more appropriate.

We’ll have brownies, later…