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Smirnoff Summer Entertaining Extravaganza: Second City Social Media Meetup

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* All photos courtesy of Mystic Image Photography/Kat Fitzgerald

I have to admit, I feel intimidated by thought of cooking for fellow food bloggers and people that follow me via Twitter and Facebook because of my blog. Food Bloggers are a confident, opinionated and sometimes even arrogant bunch in regards to their prowess in the kitchen. I love cooking and baking, but know I have so much to learn, yet still feel miles ahead of the average home cook. Another thing that intimidates me is cooking on a deadline and for a large group. All the "what ifs " enter my thoughts. But miraculously it always comes off.
My Auntie Mame graciously allowed me to host a Foodbuzz brunch for my fellow local bloggers and social media friends . Most were known to me, but there were some I had never met, yet felt comfortable in inviting. It was chance for us to from behind the computer screen and interact face to face to with food and drink. I invited around 25, and about 15 showed up. August being bad for people with travel plans. I cant get quantities right and as always had way to much food, but it didn't go to waste as people took some home. The purpose of the Foodbuzz sponsored brunch was to incorporate Smirnoff Tuscan Lemonade and/ or Mojito into our menus and event. I decided to reflect the diversity of Chicago, the Second City, but making dishes for various neighborhoods.
The menu was as follows:
Gold Coast
Marscarpone , port soaked figs, melon ham rolls
Greek town
Greek Quinoa Salad
Smirnoff Tuscan Lemonade Spiked Watermelon, Tomato, Feta, and Pine Nut Salad with Balsamic reduction
Little Italy
Cherry tomatoes stuffed with Ricotta and Basil Chiffonade
Angel Hair Pasta with Tuscan Lemonade Vodka and Shrimp
Corn Tortilla Bar
Smirnoff Mojito marinated chicken with pobalnos
Crock pot Chipolte Carnitas
Roasted Vegetables
Kayce's Elote Salsa
Salsa Verde
Mango Salsa
Sour Cream
Lolli Pies Pops in blueberry, fig, and pineapple
Sparkling Raspberry Smirnoff Tuscan Lemonade
Sorrel ( Flor de Jamaica)Smirnoff Mojtio Punch
My good friend Kat Fitzgerald of Mystic Images Photography was kind enough to take the photos for me. Kat was another instrumental one in me meeting Certain Someone. She's the tarot card reader who was at the dinner the night we met. Unfortunately Certain Someone was away, as he usually is, but Kat could validate he does he exist!

The recipes for the menu are not really complicated , but do take a little prep and time. I will posting the recipes throughout the week. But here are the Smirnoff cocktails to kick of the postings.
Sparkling Raspberry Tuscan Lemonade
*Raspberry Syrup
Smirnoff Tuscan Lemonade
Club Soda or Seltzer Water
*Raspberry Syrup
1 pint raspberries
2 cups sugar
2 cups water
Rinse raspberries. In a heavy bottomed sauce pan add sugar and water. Bring to a boil and continue to cook for 5 minutes. Remove off heat. Take a mesh strainer and pour separating the pulp from liquid. Let syrup cool.

In a glass with ice, add 1/2 part raspberry syrup, to 1 part Tuscan Lemonade. Top off with Seltzer.

Sorrel ( Flor de Jamaica) Mojito Punch
*Flor de Jamaica is dried hibiscus flower and can be purchased at Afro/Carib and Latin markets
Sorrel infusion( Flor de Jamaica infused with hot water and lightly sweetened to taste.
In a glass with ice pour 1 part Sorrel infusion and 1 part Smirnoff Mojito. Garnish with mint.

I cant speak for others, but I had a great time. It was so nice to see various facets of my friends and interests interact in beautiful lakefront surroundings.Each guest brought their talents and charm. In the end we were even given a impromptu belly dance by Diana , a wonderful teacher and lady who radiated goodness and light.Kat,Beth, Ogi, Vicky, Russel,Goody and your guests, thank you for coming and allowing me to feed to feed you. Auntie Mame thanks for opening your home to my world .Foodbuzz and Smirnoff thank you for great products and allowing me to be create this event and meet some new great friends.And for my friends that couldn't make it, next time perhaps. In my opinion there is no better way to spend beautiful summer afternoon.

Stay tuned for more recipe posts from the menu throughout the week. I will walk you through the Lolli pies ( inspiration from a fellow blogger) which were a hit.

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Dharm said...

This is a FEAST! I wish I was on the invite list. And what a lovely picture of you!!!

Jeanne said...

Oh wow Courtney - you outdid yourself!! Now I REALLY wish we lived in Chicago... And that photo of you is just *fabulous*!

Rosa's Yummy Yums said...

Just like you, I am afraid of cooking/baking for other foodbloggers or foodies or having a deadline when cooking/baking, especially when it is for crowds.

You did a great job, congrats! That menu is fantastic!



toontz said...

Oh, HOW did I miss this? (Me being in the neighborhood and all, lol) What a feast! Great job, Courtney-everything looks delicious.

Christina said...

One thing about food bloggers I've noticed is that faced with what seems like a daunting task, we just move along and take it as it comes. Doesn't surprise me that the food you made was winning. =)

And, my gosh, you are such a beautiful person!

Beth said...

Courtney, thank you so much for inviting us! Dave and I had a great time and went home happy and full. It was wonderful meeting you!

Goody said...

ok you are so wrong for posting that picture of me @ 2:21!!

but you know...payback


anyway, thank you for inviting us..

and congratulations! you did a great job!

the food & presentation was great and the company made it all the more enjoyable!

Rose&Thorn said...

"Bloggers are a confident, opinionated and sometimes even arrogant bunch in regards to their prowess in the kitchen." - we are, I'll have to get my act together!

Laurie Vengoechea said...


Lindsey said...

Everything looks amazing! I was at the Tru dinner last night. It was so nice to meet so many other food bloogers. I have added your blog to my google reader!

Heather said...

Hi there! I was at Tru last night - I think on the other end of the table tho :(

your smirnoff event looked awesome!!!

foodcreate said...

I love your blog what a wonderful Meal ... Thanks your for sharing Chicago is Awesome city to dine...

Welcome~~~ Stop by and say Hi !

Have a wonderful Day ! I found you on twitter... ChefDorys

Proud Italian Cook said...

Courtney, Your event looks awesome!
I loved all your photos of the food, and that setting couldn't have been better. My thoughts were with you as I was holding my new baby Granddaughter.
xox, Marie

Megan said...

Looks like a blast and the food looks wonderful.