December 14, 2014

Client Happenings: #HolidaySmartSwap – New, Better-for-You Recipes to Love

Filed under: Uncategorized — Zapwater Communications @ 8:42 am


With the countdown the holidays coming to an end and the ultimate excuse to overindulge, NOW Foods (client) recently commissioned a #HolidaySmartSwap recipe challenge with some of today’s top healthy food bloggers to create “cleaner” (e.g. guiltless) versions of favorite and new recipes using a variety of NOW ingredients. While the recipes were originally created as alternatives to to traditional Thanksgiving day dishes, the menu is full of natural (mostly vegan and gluten-free) goodness for any holiday, so if you’re thinking about bringing something new to your family/friend potluck, here’s a few to inspire you:

Breakfast/Snack (perfect to snack on when preparing the menu!)

Strength & Sunshine: Festive Spiced Pecan Quinoa Granola

Vegetable/Side Dishes

Yummy Healthy Easy: Gluten-Free Sweet Potato Muffins

Slender Kitchen: Curried Cauliflower, Pomegranate and Quinoa Salad

Main Course

Sunday Morning Banana Pancakes: Winter Squash + Quinoa Rissoles


Natural Sweet Recipes: Halfway Cookie Pie

Lakeshore Lady: Homemade Pumpkin Spice Syrup

The winner of the contest was selected by the NOW Foods Culinary Innovation team, and announced on Wednesday, Nov. 19. Sunday Morning Banana Pancakes was selected and received $250 in NOW products of her choice, plus $50 in product for one of her lucky readers. Don’t let the winner sway you though, all of these recipes are amazing and worth trying this holiday season!

– Alana Horinko, Vice President

December 11, 2014

ZAP Bites: The Comprehensive History of Poutine & Where to Find It in Chicago

Filed under: Uncategorized — Zapwater Communications @ 10:15 am

Once upon a time, way back in the 1950’s, there was a young, husky Quebecker boy with a fondness for French fries. One day in a particularly cold winter, the young man decided he wanted more – his French fries as they were, were no longer enough. So he topped his French fries with some cheese curds and then added a warm layer of molasses-like gravy that would forever be a game changer in the world we live in today. Between the warmth of the fries and gravy, his creation turned into a savory delicious melted heaven. As the young Quebecker stuffed his face, his mother asked in dismay “QU’EST-CE QUE VOUS MANGEZ?” (“WHAT ARE YOU EATING?!” in English) and with his mouth full he tried to say “Poutiness” which means a dish made of potatoes, but all his mother heard was “POUTINE!”. Seriously, try it. Say Poutiness in your best French accent with your mouth stuffed full of fries and tell us it doesn’t sound like poutine. The boy’s mother tried the glorious dish and agreed it was heaven on earth and so the name stuck and ever since then our friends up North have been enjoying all the goodness that is poutine. Lucky for us, poutine made its way to Chicago.


Via National Geographic

The lights are up, the snow is falling and with it being prime poutine eating season, I’ve compiled five Chicago spots in different neighborhoods so you can get your poutine fix to warm (and fatten) you up right in time for the holidays. Because, why not?! We can’t live in sweatpants and chunky sweaters all year long – might as well take advantage of these layers while we can! You can thank me later.

*Please note, this history of poutine is complete false, but it would be pretty great. A lot of people claim they created poutine, but what we do know is that it probably happened in Quebec in the 1905’s. Also, this list isn’t based on the best poutine, it’s strictly based on your location so you can find poutine at a location near you (and there are barely any poutine vendors South of Division).

  1. Badger Bro Poutine: Will’s Northwoods Inn (Lakeview)

Bringing the wooded-Wisconsin feel straight to Chicago, Will’s knows how to deliver cheese curds. And with that, their poutine has often been described as “cheese curd poutine goey deliciousness.” It’s a technical term.

  1. Speakeasy Poutine: Barrelhouse Flat (Lincoln Park)

Go upstairs. Now enjoy the dimly lit speakeasy while playing pool and the magical marriage that is poutine. Feeling wild? Start and/or finish your evening with Zombie cocktails and shots of Tequila 7 Leguas. You will not be disappointed…until you wake up the next morning.

  1. Squeaky Poutine: The Bad Apple (Really Far North)

Touted as Chicago’s most Canadian poutine (by a Canadian), The Bad Apple is known for their equal parts cheese curds and fries. Not sold? The cheese curds are so authentic, they squeak and there are 50+ beer options.

  1. Kinda Fancy Tourist Poutine: The Gage (The Loop)

You had me at jalapenos. And braised pork shoulder, pickled red onion, cheese curds topped with flavorful gravy. Just steps away from Millennium Park, The Gage is definitely a tourist spot, but the poutine is out of this world. It’s almost worth facing those horrendous crowds.

  1. New Poutine: Barley & Brass (Wicker Park)

An old-school cocktail bar with kegged cocktails, 15 beers on tap and short rib, malted barley risotto poutine. Amiright?

– Sophia Bly, Senior Publicist

November 26, 2014

ZAP Bites: The Best of Italy

Filed under: Uncategorized — Tags: , , , , — Zapwater Communications @ 7:00 pm


My husband and I recently took a trip to Italy for our anniversary. We’ve both been numerous times before so this time our goal was solely to relax, eat, drink and eat some more. Our first stop was Rome, the historic and mind-blowing city filled with ruins, piazzas and art. We spent days walking around exploring neighborhoods, drinking aperol spritzers at cafes  and visiting some of our favorite spots like the Colosseum, Roman Ruins, Pantheon, Vatican and the beautiful Piazza del Popolo. We also walked through Villa Borghese, the perfect garden where you can rent bikes, have picnics and take naps in the shade. It has a gorgeous view of the city and is a definite must see if you’re visiting.

Our second stop was Bologna, about two hours north of Rome and 30 minutes from Florence. It’s a great town that features Italy’s largest university, many historical sites and is one of the culinary capitals of the country. Bolognese sauce, tagliatelle, tortellini and beautiful pastries are among the local specialties. It’s also smack dab in the middle of an amazing food region that produces products like balsamic vinegar, prosciutti di parma and parmesan cheese. We had a private tour of one of the oldest producers of authentic balsamic vinegar and visited the beautiful towns of Modena and Parma.

A major reason we went to Italy was to eat, and boy did we eat! Rome and Bologna did not disappoint. If you’re planning a trip to Italy, here are a few of my dining recommendations:


Enoteca Ferrara – Hidden among the streets and crowds of Trastevere, this hidden gem is part wine bar and part restaurant. The space is decorated in all whites and warm neutrals and every room is more charming then the next. The menu changes weekly and focuses on traditional Italian cuisine with an incredibly expansive wine list. In fact, wines bottles are all around you and the wine cellar is visible from the restaurant through an ancient forged grating.

Taverna Trillusa – Hands down one of the best meals I’ve ever had. I would fly there just to eat here again. Try the Ravioli Mimosa, a house specialty, Tonnarelli Cacio e Pepe, and if you’re there during white truffle season (as we were), then you have to order the tenderloin with fresh shaved white truffle. I have literally been dreaming about that dish since we got home.


All’Osteria Bottega – A true local spot, this tiny osteria is delicious and perfect for a cozy lunch or dinner spot. Get the Tortillini en brodo (in broth) and the classic Bolognese lasagna.

Trattoria Baraldi – This unassuming  spot had some of the best pizza we tasted in Italy. Located on the same street as our apartment rental in Bologna, we stumbled upon this gem one night looking for a late dinner….and then went back the next night to try more. Get any of the pizzas and don’t skip the tortellini in a creamy tomato sauce.

– Annie Block, Vice President


November 21, 2014

ZAP Bites: What’s Your Favorite Dish?

Filed under: Uncategorized — Tags: , , , , , — Zapwater Communications @ 8:38 pm


Of all of the delicious recipes and dishes served on Thanksgiving, people tend to be fairly loyal to their favorites. I’m no different, and as a carb-loving vegetarian, Thanksgiving dinner has my name written all over it. Sure, the turkey may be the Pièce de résistance, but I’m all about the side dishes, from homemade mashed potatoes to my grandma’s Italian stuffing to green bean casserole and my all-time favorite, cheesy broccoli rice casserole. I’m not talking gourmet, farm-to-table here. I’m talking minute rice and Cheese Whiz, and I don’t even feel bad about it. So without further ado, check out the recipe for one of my many Thanksgiving guilty pleasures below.

Broccoli Cheese Casserole


Servings: 6

  • 1 (10 ounce) box frozen chopped broccoli or 1 head fresh broccoli
  • 1/4 cup chopped celery (optional)
  • 1 cup diced onion (optional)
  • 1 (8 ounce) jar Cheese Whiz or 1 cup shredded colby cheese
  • 1 (10 ounce) can cream of chicken soup or 1 (10 ounce) can cream of mushroom soup or 1 (10 ounce) can cream of celery soup
  • 3/4 cup milk
  • 1 cup instant rice, uncooked or 2 cups cooked rice
  • salt and pepper


  1. If using fresh broccoli cook broccoli to desired tenderness. Sauté celery and onion in a bit of butter if desired. If using cooked rice, prepare rice. This can all be done ahead of time.
  2. Mix all ingredients and pour into a greased 2 quart casserole with a lid (or cover with foil).
  3. Sprinkle additional cheese on top.
  4. Bake covered at 350ºF for 45 minutes if using uncooked minute rice, if using cooked rice bake until warm through and cheese is bubbly.

And if by chance you’re on the fancier side, some of our favorite Chicago restaurants are not only open Thanksgiving Day, but offer dine in, carry out and delivery options!

Del Frisco’s Double Eagle Steak House

Sullivan’s Steakhouse

Yum Cha Dim Sum Parlor

– Mary Doyle, Account Supervisor

November 17, 2014

ZAP Style Notes: Milk Handmade Opens at Block 37


You may remember me writing about Block 37‘s “Search for the Next Great Pop-Up” earlier this fall. After two months of reviewing applications, in-person interviews, considering social vote and getting insights from a team of trusted advisers, Block 37 selected Milk Handmade as the first-ever winner of the contest. A boutique that primarily works with local companies and artisans, Milk Handmade is now open at Block 37 on the second floor for the holiday season (November and December).

The space is gorgeous. Basically if you have a love for hand-crafted items of all varieties — scarves, rings, t-shirts, candles, bags and more — you’ll love this shop. Milk Handmade’s owner, Hallie Borden, currently has a shop in Andersonville, but this shop really reflects the downtown shopper while staying true to Hallie’s overall aesthetic and mission. It’s also a great chance for those who live or work closer to the loop to shop the boutique, considering the Andersonville location might not be as easy to get to.

On Tuesday, November 18, you can join us for the official launch party from 6 to 8 p.m., with cupcakes and cocktails generously provided by Magnolia Bakery and Crafthouse cocktails. One lucky guest will win a $50 gift card (wish it could be me!).

But really, this place is great for holiday shopping, with clothing and accessories to shop from that will suit a variety of fashion styles. To help you spark some holiday ideas, I’m sharing five of my favorite items:

1. Equator Necklace ($80). I’m all about statement necklaces, usually in silver palettes, but there’s something about raw materials that can edge up a simple outfit. This amethyst on sterling silver chain, handmade by Ali’s Collection, can definitely help you make a statement.

2. Duffy Florals Sweatshirt ($48). I’m obsessed with this sweatshirt. Throw on a pair of converse and some black skinny jeans for an afternoon of shopping or weekend of errands, and you have an effortless Chicago look. To give you some background, the Duffy Florals were a Southside basketball team from 1935 to 1937, headed up by a local flower shop owner. This sweatshirt is screen-printed in Chicago by People’s Garment Co. Someone get me this, please!

3. Chain-Link Infinity Scarf ($48). Winter isn’t coming, it’s here, and I say, the bigger the scarf the better. Pile this scarf high with any winter coat, as it comes in a variety of colors. So much cuteness; so much warmth. Hand-crocheted in Chicago by KraeO.

4. Brass Crystal + Druzy Ring ($60). On any given day, I’m usually wearing at least three or four rings, so I wouldn’t mind adding this one to my rotating collection. These are handmade in Chicago by Therese Kuempel; broze crystals are hand cast, and each ring is one-of-a-kind increasing its unique effect.

5. Sweatshirt Dress ($99). Made in Chicago by Anna Hovet, this dress is stylish and warm – essential for Chicago winters. I’d pair it with moto boots to give it a little edge.

Don’t forget to mark your calendars to visit the shop before the end of December, or join us tomorrow from 6 to 8 p.m. for the launch event! Happy shopping!

– Stephanie Poquette, Senior Publicist

November 13, 2014

PR Buzz: The PRism Awards

Filed under: Uncategorized — Tags: , , , , — Zapwater Communications @ 4:56 pm


Just a few months ago, we announced that Zapwater had opened its second office in Los Angeles.  What an exciting few months it’s been! I’m happy to report that our agency and approach have been warmly received out west. In addition to on-boarding several exciting new clients and the continued expansion of our team, our colleagues in the public relations industry have recognized our work with one of the LA PR industry’s top accolades.

I’m excited to announce that Zapwater has been named a finalist for two Public Relations Society of America – Los Angeles Chapter PRism Awards. These annual awards recognize outstanding programs and materials created by public relations professionals who work in the Greater Los Angeles area or have completed assignments for LA-based clients.

While these award-winning campaigns slightly predated our official announcement about opening an LA office, it certainly validates our decision. The awards are also proof again that Zapwater is known for delivering creative, out-of-the box ideas AND national media results within any budget.

These accolades and our agency’s growth and expansion continue to reaffirm Zapwater’s commitment to be the best boutique agency in the country. Thank you PRSA LA for such a warm welcome!

– David Zapata, President

November 8, 2014

Client Happenings: Wallenda Weekend

Filed under: Uncategorized — Tags: , , , — Zapwater Communications @ 10:41 am


He flew through the air with the greatest of ease! In case you have been living under a rock, earlier this month record-breaking daredevil, Nik Wallenda, risked his life to complete two daring tightrope walks in Chicago. The first was between the Marina City Towers and the Leo Burnett building, and the other between the two Marina Towers completely BLINDFOLDED. We were lucky enough to get a behind-the-scenes look at the preparation for the walk and enjoy front row seats during the show.

We had the pleasure of working with his entire team on Friday, as the Discovery Channel hosted a press conference at Vertigo Sky Lounge atop the 26th floor of the dana hotel and spa. While the wind rattled the rooftop windows more than 100 media members attended that day (local, national and international), and we were on-site managing any client needs. There was also opportunity for us and the dana team to meet Wallenda himself, who was calm as a cucumber when asked about his risky plans.

Then, on Sunday, we had access to the press viewing section during the thrilling walk. More than 50 press outlets were onsite to capture the event, and we were able to watch the entire experience live, while simultaneously taking in the TV broadcast and the roar of the crowds below. It was a once in a lifetime experience, and we were so honored to have a small part in this incredible weekend!

– Michael Corrigan, Account Supervisor & Stephanie Reay, Senior Publicist


November 7, 2014

ZAP Style: Fall Fashion Staples

Filed under: Uncategorized — Tags: , , , , — Zapwater Communications @ 10:19 pm


I find myself always intrigued by new trends, and even try out a few of them myself (Harem pants, anyone?!) However, there are key pieces I believe that every college girl should own in her closet that are timeless. I’ve tailored to pieces that work well for the autumn weather in Chicago.

  • A structured bag – One that is large enough to fit your agenda, iPad, iPhone, wallet, keys, and even an extra pair of flats (you never know…). I’ve been coveting this Kate Spade bag. Clean lines, solid color, and large enough for all of my essentials. // Cedar Street Maise- $298. This one is in “Ballet Slipper,” but they offer a total of nine gorgeous hues.
  • Long-Sleeved V-neck Blouses – These shirts are great for work. I prefer to wear mine buttoned all the way up to the top button, tucked into a pair of jeans, with a chunky statement necklace. They are just so versatile; I own at least eight in different colors and patterns! // These from H&M are my favorite, they are comfortable and affordable. This polka dot one is just too fun. Long-sleeved blouse – $17.95
  • Black, suede pointed-toe pumps. Because honestly, when will these ever go out of fashion? Invest in a pair that’ll last! // I like these by Topshop. Glory Pointed-Toe Suede Pumps – $95.00
  • A great pair of sunglasses. Being in the city, it can get really bright and sunny, so it’s always a good idea to protect your eyes while also looking stylish! // These Oliver People’s West sunglasses are definitely on my wish-list. I am a firm believer in the cat-eye shape, and that is certainly a trend here to stay. Oliver People’s West – $265. Forever21 has a similar pair with a price tag of only $5.80!
  • If you are like me, you love wearing a heel to give you great height, but sometimes walking throughout Chicago can get tiring in pumps. This is where Chelsea boots come in! These classic boots are definitely a staple. They go with almost everything; from jeans and a tee to a shift dress, while also giving you a teeny bit of height. // H&M does this well with this caramel-toned pair. Leather Chelsea Boots- H&M $99
  • A cozy, boyfriend-style flannel – trust me on this one. You will (comfortably) live in your flannel. The super soft, baggy styles are perfect with skinny jeans and beige boots. Definitely great for weekend lounging, or going to class. // This style from Garage Clothing is perfect and priced well at only $36.90
  • Black skinny jeans – When I got my first part-time job my sophomore year of high-school, I saved up a few of my paychecks and splurged on a pair of JBrand black skinny jeans. Best. Decision. Ever. These jeans are so comfortable and five years later, they still have their same shape and haven’t lost any color. Perfect. // While I’m not sure exactly the style I bought back then, these are very similar and the quality of JBrand is just amazing. $185 –
  • A chunky statement necklace – While these were once only a trend, I believe that they are here to stay. They just pair adorably, layered over a plain t-shirt for day or a fancy dress for evening events. // Baublebar is known for their gorgeous bling, and this one is on my wish list. $44 from Bauble Bar
  • Dresses: 1 Classic LBD, 1 Earthy, 1 Lace. I decided to put all of these into one category, since they are all important dresses I believe women should own. A classic LBD can be worn to anything, from events, to dinner dates, to an interview, etc. An earthy dress is perfect to dress for a weekend or a concert, and a lace dress is delicate and beautiful for a night out. // NastyGal has a large selection of LBD’s. I like the cut of this one. Free People is perfect for both Earthy and Lace Dresses.
  • Finally, the last item on my list is a great leather jacket. My favorite leather jacket is a light beige one I found in the sale rack of Nordstrom’s Rack a few years ago. The sleeves are lined with soft fabric on the inside, and the body is leather. So comfy chic. // I also dig a classic, black biker jaket like this one from Zara.

– Emily Doherty, Intern

November 3, 2014

ZAP Bites: Warm Up with a White Chicken Chili Recipe

Filed under: Uncategorized — Zapwater Communications @ 9:15 am


Cold nights, leaves falling, sweaters and football…all of those things equal chili Sundays at my house! Chili is most popular in its traditional red form, but this White Chicken version is rich, creamy and comforting, plus it’s one of my husband’s all-time favorites. Below is the recipe. Get cozy and enjoy!

White Chicken Chili

Serves: Four

  • 2 cups boneless skinless chicken breasts, shredded (can be prepared anyway you like or simply pull the meat off a rotisserie chicken from the grocery store)
  • 1 small yellow onion, diced
  • 1 medium yellow pepper, diced
  • 1 tbsp minced fresh jalapeno
  • 1 tbsp olive oil
  • 2 cloves garlic, finely minced
  • 1 (7 oz) can diced green chilies
  • 1 1/2 tsp cumin
  • 3/4 tsp paprika
  • 1/2 tsp dried oregano
  • 1/2 tsp ground coriander
  • salt and freshly ground black pepper, to taste
  • 1 (15 oz) can cream-style corn
  • 2 cups whole milk
  • 2 (15 oz) cans cannellini beans, drained and rinsed
  • chopped fresh cilantro, for serving
  • 1 1/2 cups shredded white cheddar cheese
  • tortilla chips, for serving (optional)

Heat olive oil in a dutch oven over medium-high heat. Add onion, garlic, pepper, jalapeno and cook, stirring often until onion is softened about 3 to 4 minutes. Add cumin, paprika, oregano, coriander, corn, green chilies, milk, beans and season with salt & pepper to taste. Bring to a boil, then reduce heat, cover, and simmer for 10 minutes, stirring occasionally. Add in the chicken. Stir in the cheddar cheese and serve immediately.

Serve with additional cheese, chopped cilantro and tortilla chips for dipping if desired.

– Annie Block, Vice President

October 30, 2014

PR Buzz: Advice from a Zapwater Intern

Filed under: Uncategorized — Tags: , , , , — Zapwater Communications @ 8:57 pm


When most people here the word “intern”, they think of the coffee-running, copy-making, phone-answering, college gal or guy. However, when I think of the word intern, I think of an individual who is fast-paced, responsible, organized, creative, energetic and driven.

So far, my time interning at Zapwater has not only taught me valuable skills that I can carry with me when I graduate from college and enter the workforce, but has also confirmed my passion for the Public Relations field.

My day-to-day life can seem pretty hectic to most people. I not only intern at Zapwater three days a week, but am also the Vice President of Valpo’s PRSSA chapter, the Opinions Editor at my school’s weekly newspaper, and have a full-load class schedule. (I attend Valparaiso University, in quaint Valparaiso, Ind., where I am a junior studying PR and creative writing).

While yes, I maintain my composure with a lot of coffee, (Venti Americano with soy, please) but I also have a strategic method to my madness, that keeps me organized and on top of tasks when I am at Zapwater.

For starters, I write nearly every part of my life down. (Including workouts and dinner dates.) I owe this part of my organization to my Lilly Pulitzer agenda. While any planner is key to have when you are an intern, I just love the design and the layout of the Lilly agendas. The pages in the large planner are just enough to write down assignments for class and dates/times of events I am working with the Zapwater team.

Secondly, I travel three days a week from Indiana by the South Shore train, and take the CTA over to Zapwater’s office, which is located in West Loop and then do it all again after the work day. (Total commute time = 3 1/2 hours a day) I use this time on the train to research client happenings, any local or national press they received, read my favorite blog (Man Repeller has my heart) and also to catch up on community and national news. (Very important in PR!) This way, when I get into the office, I am mentally prepared for the work that is given to me. On a daily basis, I do media clippings, complete media trackers, write/send pitches, and help the rest of the team with whatever assignment they need me to do. Zapwater provides me with very hands-on experience, which I have also been able to demonstrate to my PRSSA chapter at Valpo. Every time I learn how to do something new, I make a note of it on my notepad as well as my iPhone.

Staying organized and on top of tasks at Zapwater is very important. I prefer to write everything by hand and highlight the tasks in yellow that I’ve completed. (Hint, find out exactly when a project is due; that was you can prioritize your time best) Papersource is one of my favorite places to get notebooks, notepads, and other organizers; you can even get your notepads personalized! I love this vintage, “Hello Sunshine” pattern.

As an intern, you have to be readily available to give your time to helping the company. I have loved every minute of interning at Zapwater; getting the hands-on experience I was seeking, as well as being able to work some pretty cool events (TheTieBar with Jesse Tyler Ferguson and The Gold Coast Fashion Awards Show to name a few..) Staying organized and on top of everything, even if you have a busy schedule (like mine), is easy when you are able prioritize and stay on top of tasks. PR can be a hectic field, and I feel like I am more than prepared to enter the PR workforce after graduation thanks to my time at Zapwater.

– Emily Doherty, Intern

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