food loves writing blog party

Saturday night, we celebrated this blog’s first year with The Big Party—the same one I announced in June, back when summer was just beginning and we were looking ahead to months of longer daylight and warmer temperatures, and August seemed a very long time away, like July 4 or going-back-to-school or the Labor Day picnics we’ll have in a few weeks. I felt then (still do, if I’m honest) a little silly about the whole thing—a blog party?—and yet, now here I am, on the other side of things, having met a few of you I hadn’t known before, a few of you I’d reconnected with through blogging and many of you who are the kind of friends I know will be there through anything, including if I said tomorrow I’m Going to Do This All Again Next Weekend and Will You Help Me, because, well, you’re amazing and sacrificial and thank you, so, so much, I don’t deserve a bit of it.

I can hardly believe all that’s left now is the fun work of recapping this last birthday week, but here it begins:

The Online Giveaway
Using a Random Number Generator after the party, I drew numbers from a list of 283 (!) total entries and picked two winners from our online giveaway. Because I am still waiting on a response from the winner of the Destination Dinner, I will hold off announcing that (stay tuned!), but, for the other prize, the lovely Kim of Kim’s Kitchen Sink was Winner #2 and will be receiving a box of homemade cookies on her doorstep soon! Having known Kim as a blogger even before Food Loves Writing began, I am thrilled she won, and I hope you’ll give her site a visit.

The Party Giveaways
Through a pulling-names-out-of-a-jar drawing, awkwardly announced by yours truly, we had five winners at the event, including Val of, a fantastic photographer I met in grad school who I know had her camera out at the party and may be posting shots at her site soon. Once again, let me give a big THANK YOU to our sponsors and local supporters, Andrews McMeel for their gorgeous cookbooks; Country Bob’s for their bottles of sauce, of which everyone got to take one home with them (And if you’d like a bottle, head over to their site, where simply filling out a form will mean a free one sent to your door!); Downers Grove Wine Shop, which gave us a case of old wine bottles to clean out, fill with mint lemonade or ice water and dress up our tables; and Melissa of Sugar Magnolia Pastries in Evanston, who went above and beyond with gorgeous cakes!

The Cakes
Speaking of the cakes, here are a few quick shots of them, after they endured 1.5 hours of 95% humidity on their way from Evanston to Downers Grove, slightly melted but no less delicious—several people would have gone back for more, had we NOT RUN OUT OF PLATES (lesson #1 in party-planning: bring extra of everything). Anyway, Melissa, you are a rock star, and thank you again!

sugar magnolia cakes

The Menu
Now let’s get to the main event: the food.

blog party menu

I really wanted the menu to have some kind of purpose behind it, so that it would truly be a celebration of the year that passed, as well as a thank you to everyone nice enough to read and come out and, you know, listen sometimes. We had barbecue chicken, the kind that reminds me of what my grandma would make for my brother and me, when we watched television on her plastic-covered sofa and ate off clear-glass plates.

bbq chicken

And there were fingerling potatoes, which came from Molly Wizenberg’s Orangette, the first food blog I ever read and the first I loved, which felt appropriate.

My generous mom made her strawberry poppyseed salad, topped with toasted almonds and mandarin oranges and paired with poppyseed dressing, as well as her famous meatballs, which, by several requests, I promise (!) we will post the recipe for here soon.

Then there were the desserts: the double chocolate biscotti that I made for a friend’s wedding three years ago, chocolate-chip banana bread my friend Kelley who encouraged me to write sent me the recipe for last year, butter cookies topped with four colors of icing, made from an easy recipe that uses just over a half a stick of butter.

And that’s just scratching the surface, if you can believe it, of all there is to say. More to come, including photos, soon. (Full recap posted 8/14/09: everything (and I mean everything) about the party)

BBQ Chicken
Adapted from Kelsey’s Kitchen

Four boneless, skinless chicken breasts
20 ounces Coca-Cola
1 cup barbecue sauce (I use Hunt’s Original)
1/2 cup ketchup

This will be the easiest recipe you’ve ever heard, and yet it will give you fork-tender, moist results. Are you ready? Dump all the ingredients in your crock pot, and cook for 4 to 6 hours.

Cookie Frosting
Adapted from Joy the Baker

2 cups powdered sugar
5 tablespoons unsalted butter, at room temperature
2 tablespoons milk (it calls for whole, so I used half plain coffee creamer and half skim milk)
1/4 teaspoon vanilla extract

In the bowl of your electric mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, beat together the powder sugar and butter until it’s well-mixed. In a separate container (I used a measuring cup), mix together the milk and vanilla). Turning the mixer’s speed to low, add in the milk/vanilla mixture in a slow stream. Once incorporated, turn the mixer to high and beat until the frosting is light and fluffy, for around five minutes or until it’s fluffy and light. If your kitchen is very hot, you might find the frosting getting too warm—just stick it in the fridge for a couple minutes then try again.

This recipe makes enough for about 12 cupcakes, half an eight-inch cake or a full batch of butter cookies.

Shanna Mallon

Shanna Mallon started Food Loves Writing back in 2008, as a way to remember her grandma and write about her life through food. Since then it's become a place leading her to a lifestyle of eating whole foods, a new home in Nashville and the love of her life, Tim. Follow Shanna on Twitter @foodloves, keep up with Food Loves Writing on Facebook and stay inspired with the monthly newsletter.

This Post Has 16 Comments

  1. Antonietta

    Wow. The menu looks amazing! Can’t wait for more recipes. Congratulations on a successful party!

  2. Nick

    Congrats on the year anniversary! That’s a really cool party and menu. Love it love it.

  3. Jacqui

    i had such a good time, shanna! thanks for throwing such an awesome party and feeding us tasty food! and i still can’t believe you’ve never had thai food. pad thai? we’re so getting some.

  4. Whitney

    I am so sad that I was in Texas and missed it!

  5. Kristilyn

    Wow, everything looks amazing! I would love to have been able to come and enjoy the delicious menu. And that chicken? Looks too easy for words!

    Congratulations on a year!


  6. Val

    Thanks Shanna! The party was fun and the food was delicious! I will definitely be posting my pics…hopefully in a few days.

  7. Melissa

    I had a GREAT time. The food was amazing! Nice meeting everyone.

  8. Wendi

    Thanks so much for a wonderful evening and a first for me – a “blog party”! I had fun explaining that to my nephew and nieces. :-) We’ll be decorating and devouring some of the leftover cookies and icing tonight. I really enjoyed meeting some of the other readers as well.

  9. Shannalee

    Thanks to all of you who came out and to all of you who are full of warm wishes!

    Antonietta: Stay tuned!

    Nick: Thank you, thank you!

    Jacqui, I can’t believe it either. Next week. Name the night. Let’s do this.

    Whitney, I’m sad, too. We should organize a food-blogger meetup in the city sometime!

    Kristilyn, It IS too easy for words! I love a good crockpot recipe, I’ll just be honest.

    Val, Thank you for coming! It was great to see you!

    Melissa, Thank you for the cakes! Everyone loved them, and I can’t say enough how much we appreciated your efforts.

    Wendi, Thank you for all your help! Tell your nephew and nieces to eat up – we have cookies coming out of our ears around here (and the office, now) so I’m counting on you all!

  10. Kim

    Congratulations! It looks like a truly wonderful event. And I can’t wait to try that Country Bob’s sauce 😉

    I’m glad I won cookies though! Thanks for keeping such a wonderful blog – I can’t believe it’s been a year already!

  11. jessiev

    beautiful party! i am laughing at the melted frosting on the cakes – we went to a bday party on saturday – the frosting was done in about half an hour. no one minded, though!

    happy, happy 1st!! great recipes – i sent off for a bottle of country bob’s – thanks!~

  12. Vicki

    It was so good to see you. My husband and I had a great time. Looking forward to trying out the Country Bob sauces that Chris won.

  13. Janet

    How about making it an annual event? Would that be asking too much? That’s only because some of us (well I’ll admit a blog party sounds like such a fun vacation and an excuse to visit Chicago again!

  14. Janet

    I was also going to suggest a Christmas-theme FLW party but that’s probably a stretch. Just thinking ahead. 😉 Gorgeous pictures of the food!

  15. Sue

    I wish I could have attended! The food sounds great… yum!

  16. Shannalee

    Kim, Glad you ordered your free bottle! Let me know what you do with it! And I’m glad you won cookies, too. :) I’ll get them out this weekend.

    Jessie, Yeah, hot weather and gorgeous frosting don’t seem to be good partners. Live and learn, huh? Taste is what matters!

    Vicki, Great seeing you guys, too. Thanks so much for coming out!

    Janet, Phew, I don’t know about that. If we do it again, it will have to be a little different, but I’d consider it. Just won’t consider it today! And HA about a Christmas-theme party. We’ll do something to celebrate, for sure, though.

    Sue, I wish you could have, too! Miss you!

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