Saturday, May 29, 2010

Happy Memorial Day!

Happy Memorial Day weekend! I'm off for five days of fun in North Carolina!

First, a vineyard wedding for a beautiful friend out in western NC.

{I went to her hair and make-up run-through two weeks ago. Eeee, so fun!}


All are invited to both the rehearsal dinner and the wedding and reception, so it will be a fun-filled weekend!

And after the party is over, KC and I will meet up with friends in the Outer Banks {only a SIX hour drive from the wedding spot, so good thing we're staying through Wednesday}.


I doubt this year's trip to OBX will be as life-changing as the last, where I made many new friends, including two of my current roommates, but I'm sure it will be just as fun!

I have to give a shout-out to a wedding I'm sad to be missing back in Nebraska. My Best Friend's little bro is tying the knot with a wonderful girl! I wish I could be two places at once. It's so strange to think that I remember his 11th birthday so clearly. Boy, do I feel old! :)


Thursday, May 27, 2010


When my friend Tony made his very first trip to Nebraska last month on business, I naturally recommended a few places for him to eat. He was staying in Lincoln's Haymarket neighborhood, right off the University of Nebraska campus, the school I attended my freshman year.

He took me up on both of my recommendations, and came home with a recipe for one of them. His colleague in Nebraska had told him that he could make his very own Runzas. As much as I missed this amazing Nebraska "ovenstuffed" sandwich, it was nothing I'd ever tried at home myself. But I was certainly up for it!

The recipe at first seemed a little bit daunting, but after baking kolaches a few months ago, making the dough from scratch didn't sound so awful.

Tony got to work cooking the beef, and I mixed up the dough.



The kneading took plenty of muscle! Meanwhile Tony had the easy job of cutting up cabbage and onions. :)


I grew so impatient waiting for the dough to rise, that I sent Tony out for back-up dough along with mushrooms and swiss to add to some of our Runzas.

But eventually the dough did rise, and we were ready to roll it out and fill it up!



Unlike the original Runza, ours were shaped in triangles, and I was nervous to see how they would turn out.


But I have to admit, they were delicious! No, they weren't nearly as good as the real deal, but worth making from scratch again? Definitely!

Here's the recipe if you'd like to try!:

Runza Recipe


  • 4 1/2 cups all-purpose flour, divided
  • 1/2 cup sugar
  • 2 (.25 ounce) packages active dry yeast
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 3/4 cup milk
  • 1/2 cup water
  • 1/2 cup shortening
  • 2 eggs
  • 1 pound lean ground beef
  • 2 small onions, chopped
  • 4 cups chopped cabbage
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon pepper


1. In a large mixing bowl, place 1-3/4 cups flour, sugar, yeast and salt. Heat milk, water and shortening to 120 degrees F-130 degrees F. Pour over flour mixture; add the eggs. Beat with an electric mixer on low until blended. Beat 3 additional minutes on high. Stir in the remaining flour; knead until smooth and elastic, about 6-8 minutes Place dough in a greased bowl; cover and let rise in a warm place until doubled, about 1 hour.

2. Meanwhile, brown beef and onions in a skillet. Add the cabbage, salt and pepper; cook until cabbage is wilted. Punch dough down; roll into 12/6-in. squares. Top each square with 1/3 cup meat mixture. Fold into triangles. Pinch edges tightly to seal and place on greased baking sheets. Bake at 350 degrees F for 20 minutes or until golden brown. Serve hot

Sunday, May 23, 2010

Summer Began This Weekend

It rained this weekend. A lot. But that didn't stop me from enjoying it.

On Friday night, the weather was still perfect - no humidity and a gentle breeze with 80 degree temps. It was the right night for another Nats baseball game with a big group of church friends. Boo to the Nats losing by two runs, though!

On Saturday morning, I helped out at the food pantry again. It's a fun place to serve, but I will admit to sneaking just a little more food that I'm supposed to into some of the bags. I read the names of the people and the number of children, as well as their ages, and sometimes I think they need an extra fruit roll-up or a box of cookies in addition to crackers. It's funny when I go out to meet the names on the paper, and they look through the bag, taking out the very thing I thought they might like. :) Most of them are very grateful, and it is touching to hear their prayer requests, many of them for their family members' education and future, as well as jobs for themselves. As a food lover, it makes me even more thankful for the fresh food I'm able to enjoy, in addition to the other ways the Lord has more than provided in my life.

Just as the rain began on Saturday, we headed off to our first tailgate and country concert of the summer! By the time we arrived in the lot, it was coming down hard, so a few of us hid out in the back of the Jeep with all the food!


We had a brief intermission from the rain, so the boys fired up the grill, a very important part of the tailgate.

And I wasn't the only one who brought cupcakes, so I had to compare.


It was soon time to don our raincoats and brave the weather for some amazing entertainment by Justin Moore, Darius Rucker and Brad Paisley! It was one of the best concerts I've been to! We got soaked, but thank goodness it let up for most of the show.

I am stoked for the rest of the summer's concerts!

The very next morning, I needed a serious cup of coffee! Too bad this one belongs to my friend (who took the picture), since I've never even drank the stuff.


I was exhausted, and I was hungry, but our baby shower brunch at Founding Farmers totally satisfied! I ordered the bananas foster french toast.


And a side of grits.


After the meal, we carpooled down to Old Town Alexandria for a little afternoon shopping.




It was a wonderful weekend!

Friday, May 21, 2010

German Chocolate Cupcakes

The topping turned out much better this time around.


These are amazing, if I do say so myself! I love ya, Martha!


Thursday, May 20, 2010

Another Excuse to Bake

Is it ironic that I’m writing about baking less than 24 hours after a healthy eating post? Maybe if I gave up baking, those extra two pounds I’d like to shed would fall off. Oh well.

It seems at least once a week or every other, I get the urge to bake. You’ve seen this in past posts of cupcakes and cupcakes and occasional cookies. I fight the urge quite often, but for “special occasions”, I give in. And by special occasion, I mean last week’s kickball game. The coach mentioned how much he loved my baking, and there were a few ranger cookies waiting for him at our next game. (Ranger cookies involve Wheaties, coconut, and oats, and the last time I’d made this recipe from the Betty Crocker cookbook was with my favorite babysitter in the fifth or sixth grade. I never forgot how good they were.)

This week it’s german chocolate cupcakes I’m baking, and the excuse is my boss. Out of town for his birthday last month, he never received a cake or office celebration, but he did mention german chocolate was his favorite kind of dessert. Last night, I picked up the ingredients and got to work at 8:45pm. By the time 10:30 rolled around, I didn’t think I’d ever get to bed. And that’s when the frosting gave me problems.

Stir the mixture over medium heat for ten minutes, Martha Stewart said. So I stirred and stirred and stirred. Twenty minutes later, and it still was not thick! I yelled for my kitchen mentor, Lyn, and she advised me to turn up the heat a bit - the bubbles weren’t bad, because it meant the air was escaping and hence, making the sauce thicker.

“Wow, baking is kinda scientific,” I said. Me and my bright observations. Duh!

I guess this is why I may never be amazing in the kitchen. I’m much, much better with words. Look! I can spell evaporate!

Yet, even with the much-needed advice, the sauce still didn’t turn out correctly. Instead, I heated it too long! The goop barely made it through the sieve, and I refused to take such a frosting to work. I’ll be re-buying the ingredients tonight and trying the mixture again. Meanwhile, my perfectly-moist cupcakes are stored and awaiting their topping. Wish me luck!

Back at the Shore

Our annual girls' trip to the Jersey Shore never happened last year, but we made up for it this past weekend. My friend C is a wonderful hostess, and always makes our time at her family's shore house memorable.

shore houses

Actually, the word "memorable" always seems to be quite the understatement for our trips.

Food-wise, there were things like coffee cake from Mueller's . .

Mueller's for coffee cake

Eaten with cold milk, of course

coffee cake and milk

And there were manis and pedis all around . .

mani/pedi time

An evening at our favorite spot just .6 miles up the road. We know because we walk it every time, and we like knowing how long of a walk it is.

our favorite spot

See? I am a big fan!


Also a big fan of $5 for 13 songs of your choice on the digital jukebox. I picked some winners this time. Although, I was sad our favorite 80s band wasn't in town.

Nevertheless, I was dancing up a storm! hehe. You know I love to dance.

I like to dance

And then there was the beach. Which was perfect in every way. Can you see why I dislike public beaches now? I've been spoiled.

The Jersey Shore from LP on Vimeo.

Wednesday, May 19, 2010

With Mom and Sis in D.C.

*Sigh* We made it back to D.C.
Mom was so glad. “It’s nice to be back in your little town,” she said. Yes, New York does make it feel little.

On Saturday morning, I took them to Eastern Market, a favorite spot of mine. We waited in line at the crepe cart, ordering savory crepes for our meal . . and sweet ones for dessert.

crepe stand, Eastern Market

We walked along the rows of vendors, admiring the jewelry, art, and delicious fruits and veggies. Mom walked away with a pretty necklace, and I took home a painting and my first bouquet of peonies, my absolute favorite flower!

eastern market

eastern market

Of course, no visit would be complete without a stop by Georgetown Cupcake, and as usual, I couldn’t order just one. One of my new favorites is peanut butter fudge! . . and mint oreo!

Gtown cupcakes

We spent the evening making pizzas at KC’s place with a group of my friends, playing a little Rock Band, and finishing the night at one of the Waterfront’s outdoor bars. The weather was perfect!

On Sunday, we managed to fill the day visiting family that live in the area.

I’m so happy they were able to visit (only their 2nd time in four years), and I hope it’s not quite as long before they come again! Next time Dad and Brother and Bro-in-Law need to come, too!

Healthy Eating

How do you eat healthy? What are your go-to healthy (or at least healthy-ish) snacks?

I feel as though I eat the same things over and over and while I’m not necessarily sick of them, I think it’s good for our bodies to mix it up . . kind of like muscle confusion in a workout – food confusion in your diet?

Here are some examples of what my diet looks like on any given day:

Almost always: healthy whole grain cereal with skim or 1% milk (I hear 1% has more nutrients even if it is a bit fattier)
Occasionally: Dannon Light & Fit yogurt in strawberry banana (I also heard this is healthier, lower-cal, less sugar than the Yoplait I’ve always eaten)
Quaker Oat Maple and Brown Sugar instant oatmeal
Toast with peanut butter and strawberry jam

Homemade Salads with either tuna, hard-boiled eggs and chicken for protein and lots of veggies, nuts, fruit, and a little cheese and light dressing
This week: lettuce, chicken, cucumbers, corn, roasted red peppers, thyme, parsley, green beans, goat cheese, crispy onions
It’s either this salad or a sandwich from Subway, which always leaves a lot to be desired. Maybe a skinny Potbelly sandwich instead.

Carrots and hummus (so filling and yummy)
Stacy’s pita chips (I don’t care if these aren’t healthy, I am obsessed with eating them plain.)
Strawberries or raspberries or a banana
Fiber Plus bars (less sugary and lower cal than Fiber One, plus tastier!)
Laughing cow cheese wedges

Scrambled egg sandwich with a little miracle whip and cheese
Tuna sandwich
PB&J sandwich
Shredded chicken with tomato, hummus, lettuce and Italian dressing on a tortilla
Sliced apples, pb, and honey open-faced sandwich
Scrambled egg burrito with salsa and shredded cheese
Sides of frozen veggies like broccoli, corn, or peas
Maybe a side of couscous with corn

What discourages me is that, although I feel that the above is a pretty healthy, low calorie diet, I’m still a little less than happy with my progress in the weight loss department. I have shed probably five pounds in the past couple of months, which brings me back to where I was pre-Christmas and L.A. pig-outs, but I want ALL the jiggle gone. All my clothes fit, and I’m not exactly in a bad place, so maybe I’m shooting for something that would be impossible to maintain anyway. That thought has crossed my mind. I mean, how many people really have zero insulation? Sometimes in gym class, I think “If I had a kid at home, it would be really hard to be here running these sprints or doing these push-ups.” And that scares me. I need to be maintaining a workout routine that won’t be completely unrealistic in the future. Otherwise, I might have a meltdown when my body never fully bounces back. Me at twenty years old, best shape of my life? I’m never gonna be there again . . and that’s ok.

Either way, what do you eat that is easy and healthy? I love options. (By the way, that sliced apple open-faced sandwich I mentioned above? So good!)

Tuesday, May 18, 2010

More NYC

Day Two in NYC began with a long, long line in Battery Park as we waited to board the ferry.

battery park

It's amazing to pull away from the city and see the incredible skyline.


We docked at Liberty Island, but decided to save some time and stay on board.


There was more to explore in the Financial District before heading further uptown.

Such as the New York Stock Exchange . .


The charging bull

charging bull

The Federal Hall at which George Washington was sworn in as President. I love history!

where GW was sworn in

The Trinity Church cemetery, in which many famous tombstones could be found, some dating all the way back to the 1700s!


We had worked up an appetite yet again, so we made our way to The Stand near the University.

Stand - Union Square

Everything we ordered was mouth-wateringly delicious! The Stand is most famous for its toasted marshmallow shakes, though. I can see why everyone raves about them! The maple almond was delicious, as well.

Stand - toasted marshmallow shake

It took a crazy amount of willpower to not finish my crabbie melt, but the coleslaw, sweet potato fries and frickles were vying for my attention, as well. Frickles = fried pickles = mmmmm.


And despite the fact that we'd just stuffed ourselves to the brim, we stopped at Levain Bakery in Upper West for "the best chocolate chip cookies in the world". We bought three and saved them for later when milk was readily available.

Levain - Upper West

They were the best we'd ever had.

levain bakery cookies

Oh, and we barely had time to sit down and take a pic in Central Park before we were back on the bus to D.C.

central park

Wait and See

There's this Brandon Heath song that's been around for a bit.

I've sang the song a million times, but the words struck a new chord tonight on my four year anniversary in D.C.

Still wondering why I’m here
Still wrestling with my fear
But oh, He’s up to something
And the farther on I go
I’ve seen enough to know
That I’m not here for nothing
He’s up to something

There is hope for me yet
Because God won’t forget
All the plans he’s made for me
I have to wait and see
He’s not finished with me yet

Monday, May 17, 2010

NYC with Mom and Sister

Our bus to New York was late that Thursday, and by the time we reached Penn Station, we were left with only 25 hours to explore the city. As if NYC wasn’t crazy enough!

The first order of business was dropping our bags at the hotel and grabbing a bite to eat. But not just any bite. Some friend-recommended and Yelp-approved brick oven pizza.

First things first, our hotel in the Financial District gave us a peek at the Hudson and a view of the World Trade Center site. Isn’t that building just gorgeous?! It looked to be full of condos – not that I spotted anyone at home on their laptop in bed or anything.


The WTC site is truly sobering, but it’s exciting to see the new construction there. On my last trip, I took the time to walk through a small museum, and I wish we’d had time to do the same. It’s well worth the $10 they charge.




The Subway took us up to Tribeca where Saluggi’s pizza did not disappoint. I was mildly frustrated upon being reminded that I don’t come from a family of adventurous eaters. I myself used to be extremely particular, and the list of foods I once hated would fill pages. But I gently coaxed Mom and Sister into ordering not only the Mediterranean pizza (no olives), but the customer favorite brussel sprout pizza. If it’s a customer favorite, I don’t care how weird it sounds – it’s gotta be good. And it was. Brussel sprouts, bacon, and caramelized onions. Who would’ve thought, right?




So get yourself to Church Street for some pizza! Apparently “Church Street Wants You”.


The main event that night was a Broadway show, and we’d purchased tickets to the The Lion King. Having seen only one other show (The Wedding Singer, which was very good) I was fascinated by the gracefulness of each actor, the costume design and props, the music . . basically everything. I’m glad we chose a show very unlike most others in that it’s attempted to recreate an animated film, and done an amazing job of it!


Of course Times Square was awaiting just outside the theater doors.



And that was our first seven hours in New York!