Best Xmas card of 2011

Comes from my friends Pam and Paul.  A very Bacon Christmas… because everything, EVEN CHRISTMAS, is better with Bacon!

Happy Holidays!


Hope to see you somewhere down the road in 2011. Stay tuned to this blog for my appearance schedule, beginning in January 2011!

– Mark



If you’ve read the book or seen the show, you know I’m from Chicago. Though I currently live in the deep-dish wasteland that is Los Angeles, I still have some precious family left back in the Windy City.

Three of my favorites are my Aunts. Rosie, Juanna and Lena live in the Western Suburbs of Chicago and always put on a great, wonderful dinner when ever I get to town. We spend the day talking in the kitchen, drinking pop, and cooking. There is no place better on Earth than that kitchen when their homemade sausage is cooking in the oven.

The Rocco family (my mother’s side) was evidently famous in Chicago for their sausage recipe, so as the Holiday approach and you’re wondering WHAT you can make that will cause a happy hubub at your party, I offer their 100 year old – fresh from scratch – Italian sausage recipe.

I’d reprint it here … if it had ever been written down. But it hasn’t. Like most great Italian specialities, it only lives on in the minds of the women who make it. So to you, my loyal blogo-readers, I present the real deal:


‘Tis the Season for Wine & Food Festivals

Looking forward to the CRAVE, AZ event in Scottsdale Jan 28 & 29th.  We went out for the Pre-Party and had a great time sampling foods and wines in Old Town Scottsdale.

Mike was the winner of our blindfolded wine taste test… and got a great spa treatment. Which he quickly handed over to his wife.


To get recipes, photos and information about next year’s Taste of Playa, head to their website. This year’s fest was PACKED! I’m sure Michele and the crew will have to move it to a bigger venue next time. Over 5000 people attended this year’s fest, so who knows what 2011 will bring…

No traveling in December. We’ll be staying in balmy Southern California, staging some local restaurant signings and resting up for 2011.



Saving Money on Holiday Travel

As the holiday approach, airlines will be spinning all kinds of deals and promotions to get us flying again – especially now that we have to endure the full body squeeeeze or be shot up with radiation. There are also other ways to save even MORE money that the airlines will never advertise… so I thought I would.

IF YOU ARE FLEXIBLE ON TRAVEL DATES:  has great deals, but you may not fly when you want. You can also book days in advance because they take unsold inventory from the major carriers and sell it off at the … last minute. Every wonder why every plane seems to be filled to every seat – LMT.  and  are other sites with good deals, though not as time sensitive as LMT

If you don’t mind a little eBay style bidding to book a trip, check out  They do the same thing as LMT, but auction style. You can sometimes get GREAT deals if you wait until right before you fly… but you also run the risk of not getting anything.

If you prefer to stick with the big carriers, there are ways to save money there too.

Check each site for promo codes and last minute deals. Now that all these other sites are having success, the airlines are trying to bring the same methodology in-house by issuing codes and deals for unsold seats.  If you don’t find them on the airline site, Google search airline name + promo code. Most airlines also now have their own apps that can alert you to deals that pop up last minute. Southwest has a good one, DING. American’s DealFinder works well too.

There is one site that gathers all the above information in the most timely and accurate fashion. constantly searches all the sites and publishes the best deals anywhere, all the time. ShopSmart calls it ‘the single best code source.’  So there ya go!