It’s the Good Life at Ravinia

The Good Life with Astoria Prosecco |


This may come as a shock to some of my readers, but I had never been to Ravinia prior to last weekend. There are a few reasons why the outdoor musical oasis had eluded my patronage. Firstly, I had no idea of where it was or how close/far Highland Park was. Yes, I’m aware there are maps and these maps help show distance. The music I like hasn’t always aligned with the musical sensibilities (or lack thereof) of my friends. I am a mosquito magnet. I can procrastinate when it comes to concert tickets. All of these issues were wiped away when Leann surprised me with tickets to see a legend, Tony Bennett.

Backstory: In high school I hosted a jazz radio show. Mine was the only show that played jazz. Perhaps you can imagine the high esteem that this put me with my peers. The show had listenership upwards of 4-5 relatives depending on the day. One of the handful of calls I received from listeners in my three years hosting was from an older woman who wanted to give me her record collection. I gave her the station’s address and awaited the grandmother-load. Her records never came, which made me wonder if she died en route to my high school or just liked toying with young men who fancied syncopation.

Tony Bennett was on heavy rotation when I was a DJ. I grew up listening to Tony and purchased a few of his CDs once I had cash from working. He is beyond compare as one of the best. His only Chicago concert dates for the past several years have been Ravinia. The most recent dates were with Lady Gaga and I never pounced on tickets. Continue reading It’s the Good Life at Ravinia

Take Jesus on Vacation

That’s what the sign said outside of a church near my house.

I imagine Jesus waving from the porch as His family drives off in the minivan without Him.

With most of these church signs, I repeat the message in my head for a block or so. Then someone cuts me off and my thoughts turn less religious. But this sign got me thinking. 
Where would Jesus want to go? Does He like beaches? Mountains? Rolling valleys? Which of His creations brings Him the most joy?

If He flew, do you think Jesus would check a bag at the airport? Would the TSA make Him take off His sandals? I imagine Jesus would travel light, just the good book and some water.

What if you took Jesus on a road trip? Would He take the wheel? Would “One of Us” be in “Jesus’ Jamz” playlist? What are His road snack preferences? 

Would it be awkward if you go to a museum with Jesus? Is that His way of looking through family portraits?

“Raphael really botched this one. My mom wouldn’t be caught dead wearing that blue. She was more of a fall complexion. Amateur.”

How would He feel about the long lines at amusement parks? You know you’d be tempted to ask for an intercession.

“Hey Jesus, any way you can make this line move faster? You don’t happen to have an express pass? You know…being the son of God and all…”

Did Jesus ever even have a vacation? In 30ish years, did He ever take a holiday? Forty days in a desert doesn’t sound like much of a respite. Even when He went to a wedding He had to work it. Whenever He tried to be alone His disciples followed like, well, disciples.
If Jesus worked in an office, what would His out of office message look like? Who is His backup?

“I am currently out of the office through August 15 (the solemnity of the Assumption of the Blessed Virgin Mary). 
If you require immediate assistance, please reach out to one of my 11 associates.


The Christ”

As my mind wandered through all these questions I realized I was parked in my driveway. I doubt Jesus would want to vacation with me, but if He did, I can guarantee you would read about it on a church sign.

Why You Need to Try Grilled Pizza


I love pizza. I also have grown to love making it at home. Frozen pizza is good and a cheaper alternative to take away or delivery. My homemade efforts are improving with each pie that slides off the pizza peel. Now that summer has arrived, I fire up my Weber for grilled pizza. The charcoal heat gives it a smokey, charred touch you just can’t get via other methods.

Grilled Pizza Basics

The dough will require a bit of advanced planning if you make it from scratch (video here and another recipe here) OR you can get pre-made dough from groceries like Trader Joe’s (if you get it from TJ’s, add a bit of salt to the dough).

The better the ingredients, the better the results. Seems intuitive, but I’m usually (almost always) super cheap. Get some good meats like hot capicola if you like spicy food and fresh veggies. Rather than pay pizzeria prices for a smattering of toppings you can truly make it a meat lovers pizza for $3. Continue reading Why You Need to Try Grilled Pizza

Super Simple Pasta Salad Recipes

Super Simple Pasta Salad Recipes |

I have a habit of making way too much food when hosting. The upside is I have leftovers for days, which is always a perk after all the work of having a party. For my birthday shindig, I decided I was going to make pulled pork (recipe/walk through forthcoming) and some sides. The pitfall was thinking people love pasta salad as much as I do.

Sooo, I made two pounds of pasta for 20ish friends and family. I received some sweet products from Colavita that I wanted to try out, which made the only real steps cooking the pasta and figuring out what to add in the salad. Continue reading Super Simple Pasta Salad Recipes

Wedding Season 2014

Magic soup

I love weddings. I prefer weddings that I’m invited to, but I’m not picky.

Wedding season is in full swing as summer in Chicago meanders onward. 2014 started with zero weddings on my calendar to explosive growth of three. The first of the year was for friends of my girlfriend in a land called Tinley Park. I had never ventured (and got out of the car) anywhere south of 55th street near University of Chicago in Hyde Park. This was in the 170s ballpark south. Foolishly, I forgot to pack snacks and Kevlar for the drive.

I made it to the church in time to see the couple become a couple in the eyes of the Church. The priest had a few slip ups, but not to the magnitude of Rowan Atkinson.

In his sermon he quoted the writer “anonymous” and When Harry Met Sally. One out of two isn’t half bad. Before heading to the cocktail hour and reception, we enjoyed some shots of Fireball at one of Leann’s friend’s casa. There were speeches, dancing, drinking, then more white people dancing at the country club.

The following day started with donuts, Tylenol and Vitamin Water before cruising into the city to catch some of the Air and Water show.

I returned home late Saturday night and started today making chicken rice soup for my mom who caught a cold. I roasted a whole chicken with carrots and onion, before giving it a long, hot bath in chicken stock and water. To jazz mine up, I also roasted poblanos, tomatillos and a jalepeno to make salsa verde. Adding salsa verde gives regular chicken soup a bright zip that will knock out any cold bug this side of 170th.

Grilling for ‘Merica | Chicken with Grilled Veg


As we lead into the most patriotic of weekends, you could carb load and binge on sweets trying your best to get diabetes OR fire up the grill, smoke a whole chicken, then grill veggies for a sensational chicken pasta salad.

This is one of my go-to summer dishes. Meat. Veggies. Pasta. Can’t go wrong. Tonight’s included smoked chicken, fresh carrots, broccoli, yellow onion and mezzi rigatoni.

And like a true American, I took a little something from another country. Italy. The X factor was small slices of pecorino cheese. That chunk of cheese may be one of my best purchases this summer. It adds saltiness and a little bite to everything it touches.

What are you grilling this weekend?


Reuniting with my grill


pork chop, grill, weber, summer, chicago

After two weeks of eating out every day I longed to create my own sustenance. Last night, I brined some center cut pork chops, fired up the Weber grill and started scouring the web for recipes to grill fruit. The first few days in Italy I forgot a crucial diet necessity: fiber.

Most recipes suggested balsamic vinegar. This bachelor didn’t bring any of that back from the Europe. But I did have sugar and maple syrup. Let’s face it. Fruit isn’t sweet enough on its own. It needs that extra sucrose boost.

The grill was hot. The pork, hopefully tenderized. The fruit, macerating waiting to sizzle on the grill.

The results? Tender, perfectly cooked pork with some singed fruit.

This left only one question. Who is going to pick up my plate?