Penne with Olive-Pine Nut Sauce

Penne with Olive-Pine Nut Sauce

  If you’ve ever had dinner at my house, you’ve probably had this dish. It is hands down, without a doubt, my all-time favorite pasta dish. The flavors are big and bold and the sauce is ready in the time it takes the pasta to cook, making it a go-to weeknight meal for me. I keep most of these ingredients on hand at all times so I can throw this dish together anytime the mood strikes…which is often. I would love to take credit for this recipe but the credit goes to chef Art Smith. My dear friend Kim gave me his cookbook, Back to the Table: The Reunion of Food and Family, for Christmas way back in 2002. I was a recent college grad with a burgeoning interest in all things culinary and I quickly devoured the contents of this beautiful, heartfelt cookbook with this recipe finding a top spot on my regular cooking rotation. Five years later I decided to pursue a culinary career and found myself teaching cooking classes for Common Threads, a non-profit organization founded by….Art Smith. Talk about full circle. I’ve been making this dish for 12 years (HOW?!) and last year when I started dating my now boyfriend, it was the first thing I cooked for him. He grew up with an Italian mother and grandmother so when it got his seal of approval I knew it was blog-worthy. Most of the recipes you’ll find on this website are original recipes written and developed by me, but occasionally I will post other people’s recipes that are too good not to share. Always with...
Penne with Sun-Dried Tomato Grilled Chicken and Basil

Penne with Sun-Dried Tomato Grilled Chicken and Basil

I know, I know, another pasta recipe. And a crappy picture to boot. I know it’s been a little overkill on the pasta recipes lately but I’ve been training for a marathon so carbs have been on the regular rotation the last several weeks and most of my free time has been dedicated to running. On Sunday I completed my fifth, and most likely final Chicago Marathon. It was a bittersweet day because I ran my best marathon, but I knew it was probably the last time I’d be there as a participant. During the last few miles when my knees were screaming “Stop! It!” I reminded myself to try and take it all in and remember how far I had come. Literally and figuratively. As I sit here typing, I’m struggling to find the words to express how much the marathon has meant to me and how grateful I am for the blessings running has brought to my life. I wasn’t always a runner. In fact, when I tried out for the track team in 7th grade I fell over a hurdle and broke my collar bone. There was a time you would have been more likely to find me with a glass of pinot and a Marlboro Light instead of Gatorade and GU. About 10 years ago I wanted to lose a few pounds and walking on the treadmill wasn’t cutting it, so I tried running one whole mile. I hated every single step but each time I did it, it got a little easier and next thing I knew one mile became two and eventually two became a 5k. I...
Tomato and Fresh Mozzarella Salad

Tomato and Fresh Mozzarella Salad

After spending an indulgent week in Spain, I returned home and immediately found myself back at the office immersed in a 2-day BBQ bootcamp of sorts. Rough job, I know. 🙂 My colleagues and I spent time with award winning BBQ Grand Champion pitmaster Harry Soo, learning the art of competition-style BBQ. Harry flew in from LA to teach us about the art and science of low-and-slow barbecue. Harry and his wife Donna showed us how to make brisket, ribs, pork shoulder, chicken, tri-tip and tuna. Before we got to chow down on all of the deliciousness, he started the day by serving us what he affectionately calls Breakfast Fatty’s – scrambled eggs, cream cheese and apple fritters wrapped in pork sausage and bacon. I need a Zantac just writing that! Seriously, my job is the best but it’s a constant challenge to be around all of this food and stay in shape. I try really hard to eat healthy and stay fit, so this kind of food is just not what I normally eat, but it’s part of my job so I try to strike a balance which isn’t always easy. And because God obviously has a sense of humor, all of this waistline-destroying food was consumed just two very short weeks before a long awaited girls weekend in California. Aaarrrggghhhh! Breakfast Fatty’s and bikinis DO NOT go together! So needless to say after all of that decadent, salty, protein-heavy food, I have been craving food that’s fresh, light and seasonal. I’ve been eating a lot of grilled salmon and vegetables with just a little olive oil, salt and pepper and...


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