Pasta Primavera, Pretty Please

by Jenn (eating bender) on May 20, 2010

Spring is in the air and that means summer is one season closer. You never really know what you’re going to get here in Chicago – one day it’s humid and 80 degrees, the next it’s damp and 60. But there is one thing you can count on – more opportunities to cook with fresh veggies and delicious ingredients.

I was lucky enough to attend not one, but two pasta parties this week! The first was one thrown at my apartment – hosted by me and Bobby with a total guest count of zero unless you count stuffed animals. It was a lovely evening of pasta making and wine drinking. Not bad for a Monday – what can I say? We subscribe to the power of #TGIM {that was for you, Jill}.

Our delicious pasta had a wide array of ingredients. We used Bertolli sauce, frozen peas and carrots {atypical pasta veggies, but they worked}, fresh portabella mushrooms, tomatoes and chicken sausage.

We served the sauce over whole wheat shell pasta, with a bottle dash of wine on the side. This one was called Rosemount Estates Merlot. It was slightly spiced and complemented the pasta perfectly.

Good dinner. Good company. Can’t ask for more than that!

Then we watched 24.


Moving on to pasta party number two! Who says you can’t have pasta two nights in a row? When Mara invited me over for a Buitoni Pasta Party, there was no way I could say no! The chance to catch up with a close friend and eat her delicious cooking was too tempting to resist.

When I arrived at Mara’s abode, I was greeted by a beautiful tablescape.

She knows how to throw an elegant dinner party. Also in attendance was Mara’s sister Leigh, her boyfriend Jared, Mara’s good friend Lizz and her daughter, Skylar. Everyone soon sat down to eat a marvelous assortment of pastas.

There was wild mushroom agniolotti, which Mara made with a brown butter, sage, and garlic clove sauce on top of some fresh organic arugula, topped with chiffonade fresh sage.

Plus chicken ravioli with sauteed roasted red peppers, baby portabella mushrooms, and thinly sliced chicken sausage – and delicious three cheese tortellini.

The sauces on hand for the evening were a delicious bolognese sauce (Mara’s recipe) and some Buitoni pesto. Both of them were excellent and would be used copiously on my plate.

I tried a little of everything to start.

And quickly realized the pesto + agniolotti pairing was like magic, so I went back for seconds :)

It was a delicious, filling pasta dinner. But Mara wasn’t done with us yet…

Yes, friends, I had my second experience with Mara’s cupcakes. This time it was tiramisu! How appropriate for the occasion 😉 According to Mara, it was a simple genoise cake topped with a liquour/coffee/sugar mixture, plus a whipped cream and marscapone frosting.

She had me at liquour. Kidding, kind of.

Either way, they were fluffy, sweet and creamy – what more can you ask for in a cupcake, honestly?

At the end of the meal, she took a shot of the group {sorry to steal your picture Mara}:

{L to R: Leigh, Jared, Weirdo, Skylar and Lizz}

I had a wonderful time at your party, Mara! Thanks to Buitoni for the yummy ingredients – but even bigger thanks to Mara for using all of them in the most creative and scrumptious ways possible!

Around the Blogosphere

  • Speaking of wine, I was fortunate enough to attend a live chat with Aida Mollenkamp and Mirassou a couple of weeks ago. You can check it out here. Aida is so personable – she was answering questions for bloggers and brides-to-be about wine pairings. I found it very informative, especially since we are going to Napa and San Francisco for our honeymoon! Woohoo!
  • I’ve chatted with Aida once before – I really do think she’s great!
  • Mirassou is also hosting a contest called “I Do With Mirassou” – I’m thinking about entering and will let you know what I decide 😉

Additionally, I picked up my Healthy Living Summit ticket last night {actually, Bobby was kind enough to do it for me since I wasn’t home – thanks, Bobby!} Are you going? If so, leave me a comment because I would love to connect with you beforehand! This year, it’s in my city!

Thanks also to everyone who let me know their thoughts on the Food Blogger Book Club. I definitely think it will make a comeback this summer – I love summer reading! – so keep an eye out if interested.

Question: What are you up to this weekend?

I’m attending the National Restaurant Association Show in Chicago on behalf of Flatout Bread – and could not be more excited. Plus, I may or may not be auditioning to be on FAMILY FEUD!!!!!!! Keep your fingers crossed that we are nutty enough to get on the show.

Have a fabulous weekend!


1 The Tipper May 20, 2010 at 11:43 pm

Family Feud?! That would be amazing! I used to play that game online all the time- definitely good practice if you end up on the show! All those pasta dishes look amazzzing!

2 Jenn (eating bender) May 21, 2010 at 6:28 pm

I used to play it online all the time, too! Oh the days before Twitter/blogs/Facebook – I may have to bring it back tonight in preparation 😉

3 Marianne May 21, 2010 at 1:37 am

I am jealous you get to attend events like Mara’s pasta party. It all looks so delicious! And I look forward to hearing about this whole audition for Family Feud. Hope you all get on the show 😀

4 Jenn (eating bender) May 21, 2010 at 6:27 pm

Wish you could have joined us! Only a plane ride away 😉 I really hope we get on, too! I will have to put my game face on tomorrow. Thanks for the good luck wishes!

5 cookeatburn May 21, 2010 at 4:13 am

Pasta 2 nights in a row = awesome in my book. I’ll be seeing you at the HLS! :)

Also, if you get on Family Feud… oh goodness, that would just be so, so cool. It might be Chris’s dream to be on that show ;).

6 Jenn (eating bender) May 21, 2010 at 6:27 pm

YAY!!!! So excited that you’ll be there :) And I laughed out loud re: Chris’s dream. If I had known I would have told you two to get on down here and try out! Haha!

7 Jessica @ How Sweet May 21, 2010 at 4:39 am

Looks like so much fun. Her cupcakes are always so perfect!

8 Jenn (eating bender) May 21, 2010 at 6:26 pm

I know, right? Reminds me of all the deliciousness I see on your blog :)

9 MarathonVal May 21, 2010 at 6:46 am

The Chicago Restaurant Show?!? How amazing!!!! I’m super jealous and if you happen upon an extra ticket, you know who to call 😉 You have SO many exciting things going on in your life Jenn!!!

Oh, PS, I still want to see you one of these days once you have a spare minute :)

10 Jenn (eating bender) May 21, 2010 at 6:25 pm

You’re on my speed dial 😉 I definitely still want to see you soon, too! I’m thinking we will make it happen in June. For once, my planner is letting me have a little breathing room. Shoot, now that I’ve gone and said that…

Emailing you back on other things tonight, too!

11 Julia May 21, 2010 at 6:51 am

Hi there! I’ve never commented before, but have been reading for a while and will indeed be attending the HLS with my coworker :) Neither of us have blogs, we’re just big fans of reading them and big supporters of healthy living. If you’re interested in meeting up with us this summer, send me a quick email!

Also: the wild mushroom agniolotti looks to die for. Whoa.

12 Jenn (eating bender) May 21, 2010 at 6:24 pm

Helloooo, Julia! Thanks for reading – I’m excited you’ll be at the HLS! I would love to meet up with you this summer – are you in Chicago?

So glad you commented!

13 Mara @ What's For Dinner? May 21, 2010 at 7:11 am

I’m so glad you were able to make it to my little dinner party… it was so fun, especially when i stopped stressing out! I’m jealous you’re going to the restaurant show. I so want to go!

Nothing big happening this weekend at all!

14 Jenn (eating bender) May 21, 2010 at 6:23 pm

I would totally give you a ticket if I had one! Maybe I’ll try to swindle one tomorrow for the other days 😉 Thanks again for a rockin’ dinner!

15 Astrid May 21, 2010 at 7:12 am

I am coming to Chicago for the Healthy Living summit! I would love to hang out with you either before or after the summit. I haven’t decided when I am coming in yet, but I would love to spend a few extra days. My dream is to visit the Field Museum. Want to make it a date?

16 Jenn (eating bender) May 21, 2010 at 6:22 pm

Oooh, this makes my day! I would love to go on a date :) The Field Museum sounds lovely. We will definitely be chatting more in July about the details. Sooo excited you will be coming!

17 CaSaundra May 21, 2010 at 7:14 am

A pasta party sounds right up my alley–and yes, I am attending HLS–can’t wait to come to the Windy City!

18 Jenn (eating bender) May 21, 2010 at 6:21 pm

Great, CaSaundra! Can’t wait to meet you!

19 Kari May 21, 2010 at 7:24 am

I’ll be at the HLS also! I’m super excited (but nervous since I don’t “know” anyone). I’m also loving that it’s in our backyard here in Chicago! As is the case with Julia, I don’t have a healthy living blog, but I’ve become super addicted to them lately :-).

20 Jenn (eating bender) May 21, 2010 at 6:20 pm

Hi Kari! I’m super excited that you will be at the HLS. Healthy living blogs are certainly addicting 😉 I look forward to meeting you! If you ever want to join us Chicago food freaks – I say that with love – at a meet up, let me know!

21 Heather @ Side of Sneakers May 21, 2010 at 8:01 am

I’m going to HLS!! Yay!! I can’t wait to see Chicago!!

22 Jenn (eating bender) May 21, 2010 at 6:19 pm

Ah, YES! So excited to meet you!

23 Melissa S. May 21, 2010 at 8:43 am

YAY for HLS! I can’t wait to see you again!!!!

And yours and mara’s pasta look to die for! so jealous you’re so close to each other!

24 Jenn (eating bender) May 21, 2010 at 6:19 pm

Me too, lady! You have no idea!

25 Erica May 21, 2010 at 9:39 am

All of the pasta looks fantastic :) I love at home nights with the man and good food- nothing is more comforting and really makes a week night special! Mara’s table cloth is so cute! And her dessert looks incredible. Have so much fun this weekend- sounds like a great event. And fingers crossed for the game show- how fun would that be? (ah! hehe). Josh’s parents are on their way to our house now and I’m looking forward to spending the weekend with them. Josh is having surgery on his elbow on Monday though- which is stinky

26 Jenn (eating bender) May 21, 2010 at 6:09 pm

That is very stinky – please send Josh my best! I will be thinking of him during his surgery. Hoping all goes well!

27 Jessie (Vegan-minded) May 21, 2010 at 10:01 am

You can never have too much pasta in my book! Those cupcakes look delicious too. I am going to HLS for the first time and I am so excited. :)

28 Jenn (eating bender) May 21, 2010 at 6:18 pm

Agreed! Yay – so glad to hear you’ll be at the HLS! Can’t wait to meet you!

29 Tracey May 21, 2010 at 11:48 am

I’m a carb freak so all that pasta looks amazing and I now want pasta for lunch!

I’m going to be attending the HLS in August and am looking forward to it. I love that the hotel is only a couple blocks away from me:)

30 Jenn (eating bender) May 21, 2010 at 6:13 pm

Dude, not to sound creepy but…same thing on the hotel! We need to meet up sometime around here!

31 Jenn (eating bender) May 21, 2010 at 6:14 pm

And by dude, I mean Tracey – haha, I don’t know where my “dude” slang came from because I never talk like that. Must be something sticking to the keyboard…

32 BroccoliHut May 21, 2010 at 3:20 pm

So much beautiful pasta! My weekend plans are pretty sad, actually–just heading home from the beach and saying goodbye to Seth for the summer. I’ll probably make a WF run though:)

33 Jenn (eating bender) May 21, 2010 at 6:17 pm

Aw, it’s no fun saying goodbye :( But a WF run is what I would do to cheer up! Good call!

34 Andrea of Care to Eat May 21, 2010 at 3:33 pm

I LOVE Family Feud. I always imagined my cousins and I would try out for it one day. I know we’re crazy enough! My real dream is to be on Wheel of Fortune though – no lie.

35 Jenn (eating bender) May 21, 2010 at 6:17 pm

That’s totally my dream, too! Although with my luck I’d know all the answers to the puzzles and land on bankrupt every time I spin :)

36 Brynne May 21, 2010 at 3:44 pm

I’m going to HLS! And I loveee summer reading!

37 Jenn (eating bender) May 21, 2010 at 6:29 pm

Awesome, Brynne! So excited to meet you – and I’m glad you love summer reading as much as I do!

38 Mom May 21, 2010 at 6:00 pm

Oh our family is definitely nutty enough! Sorry we couldn’t come and add a little craziness! Both pasta dinners look fabulous and tiramisu in a fabulous looking cupcake – I have to meet Mara when I get to Chicago next time!

39 Jenn (eating bender) May 21, 2010 at 6:18 pm

True dat, Mama.

40 Pure2Raw Twins May 21, 2010 at 8:37 pm

24 is my BF’s favorite show. Dinner and cupcake look delicious! I wish we could go to HLS to meet you, hopefully some other time. No big plans this weekend besides getting mentally prepared for our all time favorite show -LOST – final episode!!!

41 chasingcasey May 22, 2010 at 2:06 pm

I have been craving peas all week! I never thought to throw them in a pasta. Great idea, thanks!

42 John May 22, 2010 at 10:08 pm

Your pasta sauce looks good to me and that usually isn’t the case when you throw veggies in it :-) Last long run Sunday before my HM and a round of golf with a buddy. Hope your weekend is going well.

43 Katherine: What About Summer? May 24, 2010 at 10:50 am

my family has a great recipe for primavera that we do with yellow and green squash that is grated and sauteed with onions, egg, Parmesan and wine. it is definitely different from yours, but either recipe comes out with great color!

44 thewhatkateateblog May 25, 2010 at 11:04 am

Yum! What a fabulous looking dinner. I couldnt agree more with the changing of weather. Yesterday someone was saying if you dont like the weather in Iowa wait and hour for it to change. So true!

45 Hayley May 25, 2010 at 10:15 pm

That cupcake. I am speechless!

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