Weddings + Winners

by Jenn (eating bender) on January 9, 2010

Hi everyone!

How has the first full week of January been treating you? There’s a fever going around here — not an actual illness (thankfully!), but rather a drive to get things moving and work quickly and productively in the new year. It’s inspiring me to be on my A game :mrgreen: That’s always a good thing!

I’m very excited about this post because there is a lot to share!

So let’s chat already!



One of the exciting things I did while I was home the last week of December was attend a complimentary wedding tasting with my parents! I wish Bobby could have been there, but since it is technically a “destination” for us, it worked out that the reception venue could do it while I was down there and we took advantage of it. I told him I’d keep his best interest and taste buds in mind πŸ˜‰

When we got there, we were greeted by a gorgeous centerpiece from our florist.

See P. Bender lurking in the background? πŸ˜‰

What do you think of the arrangement? We were super impressed because we are getting a pretty good deal with the florist and weren’t expecting something quite so grandiose as a result. Definitely a keeper — the vases are really tall so they won’t block anyone who sits across the table. We may remove the stand at the bottom but other than that, it was perfect.

The first part of the tasting was dedicated to cold and hot hors d’oeuvres, which we will serve during the down time between the ceremony and the reception, while we’re taking pictures.

The choices for the cold hors d’oeuvres:

  • Left: Asian chicken salad on top of a shrimp cracker
  • Right: Bruschetta with fresh tomato, parmesan and olive oil

The choices for the hot hors d’oeuvres:

  • Front: Fresh crab cake
  • Back: Chicken satay dipped in peanut sauce

All four options were delicious and full of unique flavor. In the end, we narrowed down our top three picks: bruschetta, crab cake and chicken satays. We figured these were the most widely appealing options for people, particularly since some family members have special diets, etc.

Next up: the salad course! There were two to choose from here. The one pictured on the left below was made up of butter lettuce topped with a balsamic vinaigrette and surrounded by candied pecans, fresh feta cheese and strawberries. The one of the right was a mixed green salad topped with a maple vinaigrette and surrounded by walnuts, gorgonzola and candied pears.

Both options were the perfect balance of savory-sweet. In the end, I decided to go with the butter lettuce and strawberries. Although the pears were good, they were a little too sweet with the maple dressing and I thought the balsamic was the option that would appeal to most people.

While we waited for the grand finale, we sampled white and red wines with a whole wheat roll.

Then…it arrived.

I am not exaggerating — this was definitely in the top three “best restaurant dishes” I’ve ever had in my life. The picture doesn’t do it justice (although the halo effect from the sun is a nice touch, don’t ya think?). On the left we have a perfectly tender and portioned out piece of filet, marinated with a rich and flavorful dark sauce and served over a bed of white chocolate risotto.

Yes, white chocolate.

It actually didn’t taste like chocolate at all, but it was super rich and creamy. I had a hard time sharing with my mom and dad πŸ˜‰ It was topped with a marinated onion.

On the right was a small piece of chicken — both meats were served in smaller portions so that we could try a bit of each — stuffed with a roulade of spinach and cheeses.

This dish made choosing all too easy. When we left the tasting, our wedding coordinator at the reception venue said we had to be one of the easiest groups she has ever worked with. When you know, you know: this entree was just what we were looking for! It appealed to the foodie in me while still being “edible” enough for the guests who do not get as pumped up about fancy-sounding food and taking pictures of it :) Plus, I knew right away that Bobby will absolutely love it. I can already hear the “Mmm…”



My sincerest apologies to Chandra for being so late on my thank you! I received my Bloggie Secret Santa gift just before Christmas but with traveling to Arizona, was not able to take the proper photos and write the proper post about it until now.

Chandra of p r e t t y t i m e p i e c e — love her blog name! — sent me a few wonderful gifts from her local store: lollipops and Buckyballs!

The lollipops came in all sorts of great flavors such as butterscotch and root beer float. She must have known my weakness for candy πŸ˜‰ The Buckyballs are known as “the amazing magnetic toy you can’t put down” and can be twisted into many different shapes and patterns. Too cool! Check out their website for a video — you’ll be mesmerized.

Thank you so much, Chandra! You made my spirits bright :)



Another reason to smile? Chandra gave me the Happy 101 Award!

That is one of the cutest I’ve seen yet! I am so honored — thank you!

rules of the award:
1. list 10 things that make you happy.
2. try to do at least one of them each day.
3. tag 10 bloggers that brighten your day.

10 things that make me happy…

  1. My love :)
  2. My “Bender” family
  3. My best friends
  4. My fellow bloggers
  5. Reading and writing
  6. Coffee Cocoa
  7. Sleeping in on Saturdays
  8. Exercising
  9. Traveling to new places
  10. Sunsets (I’m watching one right now!)

You know me and tagging my fellow bloggers — I always feel as though there are just too many of you to choose from! Plus, you all brighten my day :) I encourage you to create your own lists of things that make you happy. It’s guaranteed to brighten your mood right then and there!



Melissa has notified me that she ended up receiving a Plan-a-Meal Bundle for Christmas. She graciously offered to let someone else win for this giveaway! Drumroll please…

#39 is…


Stef @ moretolifethanlettuce

Hey, found your blog through Jenny’s! You are an awesome gift-giver and it looks like your friends fall in that category too…check out all that loot! My tip for planning a meal is: grab a friend, go to the farmer’s market and pick out a new veggie to try out, go back to the kitchen and get creative!

Congrats, Stef! Please send an email with your address information to so that I can get the Plan-A-Meal-Bundle out to you!


Hope everyone is having a fantastic weekend so far! I’m spending my Saturday night making homemade pizza, drinking wine and catching up on your blogs while watching T.V. with Bobby. I wouldn’t have it any other way πŸ˜‰ What are your weekend plans?


1 Erica January 9, 2010 at 5:14 pm

I LOVE the arrangement- so beautiful! I like that it won’t block everyones vision at the table too. Great choices. The Bruschetta and salad with strawberries both sound great. Your wedding is just going to be incredible! Enjoy the weekend girl!

2 Jenn (eating bender) January 16, 2010 at 1:11 am

Thanks so much, pretty lady!

3 Marianne January 9, 2010 at 5:16 pm

Sounds like a delicious array of food for your wedding. I think the salad choice you went with was best, as I think more people would be receptive to it. And I can see why you would want to get rid of the base under the flowers – it gives them a little extra height, but looks a bit off.

4 Jenn (eating bender) January 16, 2010 at 1:12 am

I totally agree. Thank you for letting me know what you thought — I really do appreciate blogger input!

5 Julie @savvyeats January 9, 2010 at 5:40 pm

White chocolate risotto? Yum! I know what I’m making the next time I’m in the mood for risotto πŸ˜‰

Aren’t wedding tastings fun?!

6 katie January 9, 2010 at 6:06 pm

The crab cake, those salads! What a fun tasting! I can’t believe your wedding is coming up already… so excited for you, JENN!!!

7 Jenn (eating bender) January 16, 2010 at 1:13 am

Aw, thank you so much Katie! I can’t believe it’s already less than 10 months away…yikes! Time is flying :)

8 Jenny January 9, 2010 at 6:11 pm

send me some of your germs.. I could definitely afford to catch the “productivity” fever. I have done nothing with my life all day.

Those centerpieces are phenomenal!! You captures my heart, girl, I am a purple FREAK. you are going to have the best wedding ever!!!

happy weekend, beautiful! xo

9 Kristie January 9, 2010 at 6:25 pm

Weekend plans – football watching + one night of living it up (at least that is what my friend has promised, haha). Should be fun :)

And the centerpiece is gorgeous!!! Absolutely beautiful. The marinated onion on top of the filet definitely caught my eye – I am an onion girl through and through πŸ˜‰ Hope you enjoy your pizza, vino, and Bobby time!

10 kbwood January 9, 2010 at 7:16 pm

what a great post!! i love weddings!! i cannot WAIT to see your beautiful wedding!

11 Heather January 9, 2010 at 7:22 pm

A tasting- how fun!! I love how tall the flower arrangement is!

12 Whitney @ Lettuce Love January 9, 2010 at 8:37 pm

I absolutely love that arrangement! I love when the centerpiece is really tall and elegant. Beautiful :)

13 eaternotarunner January 9, 2010 at 8:41 pm

That tasting looks so delicious! White chocolate risotto? Yum!

14 Brittany January 9, 2010 at 8:48 pm

Oh my goodness – the centerpiece is absolutely stunning. I love it! And, all the tasting dishes looked delicious- what a fun outing for the Bender family. I think the hardest part for me would have been choosing between the two salads- they both sound so good. It’s awesome that the choosing process ended up being so easy for you all.

I can’t wait to see more of the wedding details!!

15 Brynne January 9, 2010 at 8:50 pm

All that food sounds amazing and the flowers are beautiful! And I used to loveeee those lollipops when I was little – there are so many fun flavors!

16 Heather Eats Almond Butter January 9, 2010 at 9:18 pm

White chocolate? When I read that, I was like “really???”, and then I scrolled down a bit and I saw, Yes, white chocolate. Hehe – sounds delicious Jenn! I think it is so cool you are blogging while planning your wedding. Such a cool way to chronicle everything.

Happy to hear you’re back in Chicago and on your A-game. Enjoy your weekend with Bobby and football. Sounds a lot like our weekend down here in Nashville. :)

That centerpiece = amazing!!!

17 Michelle (Snacks and Field) January 9, 2010 at 10:19 pm

Your wedding tasting looks like sooo much fun and all that food looks delicious! And White chocolate risotto?! YUM.

18 Stef @ moretolifethanlettuce January 10, 2010 at 12:18 am

OMG i am so excited, yayyy thank you girl! i’ll send you an email with my address info stat!

your wedding tasting looks soooo fun, i know the big day will be absolutely gorgeous and all the food will be awesome! that is the coolest flower arrangement i’ve ever seen. i can’t even imagine what white chocolate risotto would taste like but i love both of those things sooooo it must be great.

19 BroccoliHut January 10, 2010 at 12:31 am

What a foodie dream come true! Everything looks absolutely delicious–I definitely want to try to create that strawberry salad myself.

20 Jenn (eating bender) January 16, 2010 at 1:16 am

Strawberries on salad have to be one of my absolute favorites! I love that salad from Panera!

21 MelissaNibbles January 10, 2010 at 5:22 am

Off to Google how to make white chocolate risotto. The centerpiece is lovely.
Have a great weekend :)

22 Lexi January 10, 2010 at 6:57 am

Hey! Just found your blog and I love it! Can’t wait to keep readin’!

23 Jenn (eating bender) January 16, 2010 at 1:17 am

Thanks for stopping by, Lexi!! Glad you like the blog :)

24 Jessica @ How Sweet January 10, 2010 at 7:36 am

White chocolate risotto sounds incredible!! I loved wedding was such a fun time.

25 allijag January 10, 2010 at 7:39 am

ahhhhhhhhhhhhmazing! that centerpiece is absolutely gorgeous (and looks like it would cost a FORTUNE so that’s great you are getting a deal! :) as for the food…WOW. youre guests are going to be absolutely stunned!

26 ksgoodeats January 10, 2010 at 8:51 am

I think that tastings are one of the best parts about wedding planning. Everything looks fantastic! I LOVE your centerpiece! What a fabulous bloggie package :)

27 Susan January 10, 2010 at 9:18 am

Wow, white chocolate risotto?! Who thought that amazing dish up? And the flowers looks gorgy – I love the purple.

28 Molly January 10, 2010 at 10:33 am

ah YUM- that wedding food looks awesome! Glad you are getting all the planning in order :)

<3 Molly

29 Jenn (eating bender) January 16, 2010 at 1:17 am

Yay! Thanks, Molly :) Hope you’re well!

30 Ashley January 10, 2010 at 1:16 pm

Wowzers I’ve never seen such fancy wedding cuisine! Love it!

Beautiful arrangements. I’d remove the bottom box too.

31 Shannon (The Daily Balance) January 10, 2010 at 3:27 pm

gaaahhhh – taste testing (meals and cake) was far and away my fave part of planning – everything looks incredible! I am getting so excited for you!!!!

32 Bekah January 10, 2010 at 4:50 pm

You’re soo cute Jenn- gah getting married is so exciting! I say heck yes white chocolate risotto! hehe.

Congrats to the NEW giveaway winner! :)

33 Foodie (Fab and Delicious Food) January 11, 2010 at 6:35 am

Gorgeous centerpiece! Those flowers are so pretty! Love the color!

Mmmm, all those dishes look scrumptious! Yum!

34 prettytimepiece January 11, 2010 at 8:27 am

hey Jenn!! :) I am so happy you enjoyed your gift, hehe it was fun to pick out out. & never apologize, this post came at a perfect time, i’m on vacation right now & it totally made me smile and remember the holidays <3

very cool arrangement! never seen anything like it, it's so stylish!

35 jenngirl January 11, 2010 at 8:41 am

That tasting looks like so much fun! And I can only imagine it’s a foodie’s dream :) I LOVE that centerpiece, it’s beautiful, while not being overwhelming. Your wedding is going to be amazing, Jenn!

36 carolinebee January 11, 2010 at 10:47 am

OMG OMG jenn that arrangement is to die!!!!!!! It is soo gorgeous and literally PERFECT that it doesn’t block the table view, haha that is so annoying when they do that!!! Also too big to worry that ppl will take them home πŸ˜€ That food looks incredible, I cannot wait to taste test for myyyy wedding and I think my fave part about going to other people’s weddings is the food, and dancing fo sho, you have to get a good DJ!! xoxo so productive over the holidays miss jenn, can’t wait to see u!!!

37 Jenn (eating bender) January 16, 2010 at 1:19 am

Your comment just makes me smile wide :) You’re the sweetest! Dancing fo sho! Can’t wait to see YOU…I’m so glad you’re coming here!

38 Alisa - Frugal Foodie January 11, 2010 at 11:31 am

Your guests are going to be seriously lucky! The food looks awesome and that centerpiece – WOW!

39 Karla January 11, 2010 at 12:55 pm

Your bouquet and meal picks look absolutely AMAZING! You know how to plan an event Jenn!! I’m sure your wedding will be WE wedding special-worthy.

I spent the weekend in St. Louis and watching the Packers when I got home. They tried so hard and almost had it. I was cheering them on all the way πŸ˜‰

Hope you have a fantastic day Jenn! Can’t wait to see you very soon!!!

40 Jenn (eating bender) January 16, 2010 at 1:20 am

Can’t wait to see you either, Karla! We’ve got a lot of catching up to do!

41 Wishful Nals January 11, 2010 at 3:19 pm

that bruschetta looks delicious! congrats on your engagement :)

42 April Rueber January 11, 2010 at 8:25 pm

That centerpiece is so elegant and breathtaking. The food looked great too. FYI: I am going to crash your wedding. :)

43 Jenn (eating bender) January 16, 2010 at 1:20 am

Haha, sounds good to me! :)

44 Erica @ Fashion meets Food January 11, 2010 at 9:40 pm

Hello! I am new to your blog. But noticed you are getting married. I am too, and have been going over so much stuff for it. Your arrangement is beautiful !

45 Jenn (eating bender) January 16, 2010 at 1:22 am

Hi Erica! Thanks for stopping by. Congratulations on the upcoming wedding — can’t wait to check out your blog!

46 Danielle January 12, 2010 at 10:01 am

Oh Jenn, yum! Everything looks amazing and I’m glad you’ve been able to truly enjoy the process. You are going to make such a beautiful bride :)

47 Melissa S. January 12, 2010 at 6:09 pm

Oh, my goodness. first off, that flower arrangement is freak’n gorgeous and holy moly how genius to use a super tall vase!!! Now that right there, is a keeper.

Super excited about the things served at your wedding…any idea about the veg-head meal? πŸ˜‰


48 Sarah January 13, 2010 at 9:01 am

the flowers and wedding food look amazing! and yummy, well, not the flowers.

49 brandi January 13, 2010 at 10:02 am

i love the centerpieces! So beautiful, and I love that everyone will be able to see the other people at the table.

and that food! white chocolate risotto?!? I’ve never heard of anything like that :)

50 Diana (Soap & Chocolate) January 13, 2010 at 12:28 pm

I have to imagine that the tastings are the best part of wedding planning. Except for the dress, maybe. Actually it definitely has to be the tastings. :)

Just caught up on your holidays and am so glad you had such great QT with the fam! I made a similar egg casserole for xmas morning…and then again for a dinner after New Year’s! It’s too good to be limited to b’fast, right???

51 Jenn (eating bender) January 16, 2010 at 1:25 am

Definitely too good to be limited to breakfast! Hope you’re well, Diana! I’ll have to catch up on your life now :)

52 glidingcalm January 13, 2010 at 10:08 pm

ahhhhhhhhhhhh Wedding Tasting!!!! I can’t believe that day has already come and passed!!! So crazy to think of where we all were just a year ago!!! So excited and happy for you!!!!!!!!!!!!!

I LOVE YOU JENN! and am giving you a shout out in my next post too btw!!


53 Katie January 14, 2010 at 3:29 pm

The wedding tasting looked fab!!! The food looks amazing, congrats girl to you and your fiance on your upcoming wedding!!!!!!!

I love vic sweats, they are the best, so happy I found your blog : )

YOur layout/design rocks too!!!!!

Have a great night girl!!!

54 Jenn (eating bender) March 6, 2010 at 11:07 am

Hi girly! Thanks for this sweet comment :) Can you tell I’m going back through my inbox today?! This was an oldie, but a goodie. So glad to “meet” you! Hope you’re having a great weekend so far!

55 Mae January 15, 2010 at 4:53 pm

What gorgeous centerpieces!! They look amazing!

56 Jenn (eating bender) January 16, 2010 at 1:31 am

Thank you, Mae!! :)

57 Michelle January 16, 2010 at 6:44 pm

I love the choice of food for the wedding!! Lucky lucky lucky guests!!! The White chocolate sauce sounds interesting, kinda like mole by Rick Bayless. πŸ˜› hehehehe Chicago restaurant week is coming up again in February love, are you gonna be trying some restaurants out? I’m on my way back to our beloved Chi town (heheh full of delicious pizza, but none as delicious as homemade ones like yours πŸ˜‰ ) so I hope i get to see you soon!!

58 Hangry Pants January 16, 2010 at 9:34 pm

Jenn, I won’t even lie. I did a mass “Mark all as read” of my google reader and missed the wonder that is this post! Everything looks wonderful. It is going to be one tasty wedding.

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