A Pinterest-ing Weekend in Chicago

by Jenn (eating bender) on March 7, 2014

Yep – we did it again. :)

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To say this has been a busy couple of weeks would be an understatement. I’ve taken on several new freelance projects, and while I’m really enjoying the work, the days are flying by faster than ever.

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It hasn’t been all work, though. Last weekend I had the chance to drive by my favorite college campus when Bobby and I made a quick trip to Chicago! The purpose of this visit was primarily to see friends – so, the best kind of visit. We arrived late Friday night, but that didn’t stop Lauren from making me a delicious bowl of not-from-the-box macaroni and cheese, complete with chicken, tomatoes and a bread crumb topping. A ridiculous photo was also required before we went to sleep.

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The next morning I met with a couple of colleagues for brunch at Grange Hall, which was really tasty. I would highly recommend the Quiche Loretta if you ever pay a visit, although I’ve heard the burgers are also not to be missed.

The rest of the day was spent having a long overdue get together with Jill! I was finally able to meet her puppy, Theo, who is just as adorable and cuddly in person as he appears in her photos. We spent the bulk of our time together catching up, but Jill also surprised me with a phenomenal steak dinner served with sweet potatoes, peppers and onions. If you are looking for a delicious way to cook pan-seared ribeye, this is it. Trust me! I can’t wait to try making it again.

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We ended the night by watching About Time. I unfortunately had to leave before the movie was over but now am on a quest to finish it as soon as possible. I’ve heard nothing but amazing things and was quickly sucked in. Has anyone else seen it?

And of course, a trip to Chicago would not be complete these days without a Pinterest party!

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Lauren, Monica, Kelli and I have been trying to coordinate their visit to Phoenix all winter, but had bad luck finding a weekend that worked and wasn’t overpriced. Seems it’s a lot more expensive to fly here than it is to fly to the Midwest this time of year. I can’t imagine why that would be? ;)

So instead, I came to them and Monica graciously offered to host at her place. On the menu:

Polar Vortex Pinterest Party Menu

Beverages: Raspberry Champagne Float + Champagne and Orange Granita (pinned here and here)

Appetizer: Crispy Raviolis (pinned here)

Main Course: Three-Bean Chili with Spring Pesto (pinned here)

Side Dish: Parmesan Cherry Tomatoes (pinned here)

Dessert: Chocolate Chip and Cherry Blondies (pinned here)

Note: The majority of the food pictures below are courtesy of Monica’s amazing photography. Thank you for letting me use your gorgeous photos, Monica.

Without trying, it turned out that all of our choices were easier to make and less time intensive than what we served at previous Pinterest parties. This made for a much less crazy day in the kitchen, which was actually pretty nice!

Lauren started us off by preparing the fruits for our beverages.

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…while Monica did the puréeing.

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We took a few liberties with each recipe (e.g., couldn’t find lychees, didn’t have rosewater or elderflower liqueur on hand), but overall the Raspberry Champagne Floats and Champagne and Orange Granitas turned out splendidly.

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While Lauren and Monica prepped our cocktails, Kelli and I began chopping veggies for the Three-Bean Chili with Spring Pesto and Parmesan Cherry Tomatoes.

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Kelli was also hard at work mixing up the ingredients for our Chocolate Chip and Cherry Blondies.

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The Parmesan Cherry Tomatoes are definitely easy enough to make anytime, but absolutely full of flavor. I couldn’t stop ooh-ing and ahh-ing over how fresh they looked.

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We let the ingredients mesh together for a while before dividing them into ramekins for baking.

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The Three-Bean Chili with Spring Pesto was another recipe with a short and simple ingredient list, but oh my, it was the pesto that MADE this soup. I could eat it as a topping at every meal and be a happy camper. Well, maybe not with cereal.

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For the Chocolate Chip and Cherry Blondies we also made a slight adjustment, as fresh cherries are hard to come by in early March. We found a frozen mix of cherries, raspberries and blueberries. And we used the entire bag instead of one cup, so the “blondies” had a fun streak of purple. This made them even more fantastic, in my opinion. I love berries and chocolate!

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Last but not least, we whipped up a batch of Crispy Raviolis.

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I don’t have much experience with frying, so it was fun to watch them crisp up.

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We topped them off with a bit of Parmesan cheese and served with marinara.

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Once everything was ready, we poured the drinks and set the table.

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Monica, Kelli and I tried the Champagne and Orange Granitas to start – it was perfectly zesty.

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Lauren chose the Raspberry Champagne Float, which I also “tested” later. Two thumbs up!

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We gobbled our food down with some great conversation, and snapped another group photo once our bellies were full. Cheers to another successful Pinterest party!

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As a bonus, later that night we watched the Oscars and Monica whipped up a batch of these Perfect M&M Cookies. Although I got last place in our award picks contest, it was so much fun to spend more time with these awesome ladies (+ Monica’s husband, Patrick)!

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Bobby and I had a 2:45 am wake-up call the next morning, but it was worth it. And it helps to have a window seat on the early morning flight home. I will never get enough of these views.

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What new recipes have you been making lately?

Let me know if you try any of these!

Abrazos,

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{ 16 comments… read them below or add one }

1 Chelsea @ Designs on Dinner March 7, 2014 at 3:17 pm

The Parmesan Cherry Tomatoes look so springy! I will definitely pin those for when the Farmer’s Market opens up again (a year or so from now, ha ha). Everything looks wonderful!
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2 Averie @ Averie Cooks March 7, 2014 at 4:05 pm

Thanks for trying my blondies and they turned a fun shade of purple! Glad you ladies enjoyed them and thanks for linking up!

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3 Jenn (eating bender) March 18, 2014 at 7:16 pm

Thanks for the great recipe, Avery!

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4 Erica March 7, 2014 at 4:10 pm

YUMMMMMM!! I want the raviolis and the tomatoes! Such a fun trip. I made these cookies this week, very good: http://www.ohladycakes.com/2014/02/sea-salt-chocolate-chip-cookies.html

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5 Jenn (eating bender) March 18, 2014 at 7:21 pm

Those cookies look amazing!!

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6 Kelli H (Made in Sonoma) March 8, 2014 at 10:15 am

Oh my gosh! This food spread looks so ridiculously tasty!
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7 Toronto Girl West March 8, 2014 at 6:14 pm

I always love your Pinterest party posts!!! They make me feel like I need to scare up a group of friends to do the same thing! :) Either that or go hang out with your amigos! lol
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8 Jenn (eating bender) March 18, 2014 at 7:22 pm

You are more than welcome to join us! ;) It’s such a fun way to spend time together – can’t beat getting a delicious meal out of it, too!

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9 Kelly @ Kelly the Culinarian March 11, 2014 at 1:13 pm

I love this idea for a party! It seems like it was a hit again this time. And again this time, I recognize some familiar faces and places!

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10 Jenn (eating bender) March 18, 2014 at 7:23 pm

Yay – thank you, Kelly!

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11 Monica March 11, 2014 at 11:25 pm

Great post, as per usual :) Thanks for making the trek out here once again! LOVE the collage and that last photo of AZ is breathtaking.. Crossing my fingers that we will be able to do a Pinterest party there soon!
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12 Jenn (eating bender) March 18, 2014 at 7:24 pm

I can’t wait for our AZ Pinterest party…it’s going to happen! Thanks again for your amazing photography, as always. :)

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13 Susan March 13, 2014 at 11:47 am

Claire and I enjoyed looking at these pictures of Aunt Jinn and Aunt Monca-ca! Glad you had such a good time. Oh, and she also says, “I want those cookies and tomatoes with cheese.” So there you have it. :)

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14 Jenn (eating bender) March 18, 2014 at 7:26 pm

Haha! I knew Claire Bear had excellent taste – the cookies and tomatoes were two of my favorites. :)

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15 Melissa @Tryingtoheal March 18, 2014 at 11:57 am

I’m always so jealous of your Pinterest parties…and I love the theme (polar vortex, hehe). The fried ravioli looks amazing! I need to find a vegan one and try that! What a great trip back to Chicago, but that return picture is amazing!
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16 Jenn (eating bender) March 18, 2014 at 7:27 pm

Haha! When in Chicago…plan polar vortex parties. :) Vegan ravioli sounds delicious!

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