Category Archives: Drinks

Once in a Sunday Brunch: John Brown’s Underground | Lawrence, KS

John Brown's Underground

One of my new favorite hangout spots in Lawrence, Kansas, is the brand new speakeasy John Brown’s Underground. It’s a small little spot right off Mass street that offers specialty cocktails as well as delicious food. The establishment is not marked by a sign. Instead, it shows off a black awning, sleek-looking door and red light that turns on when the bar is at capacity. I’ve enjoyed spending time at this Prohibition-era establishment during weekend afternoons with friends, weeknight evenings at book club and Friday date nights with the husband. I’ve even started going on Sunday mornings for brunch!

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On Saturday and Sunday mornings (9 a.m. to 2 p.m.), John Brown’s Underground now offers a great brunch deal: For $20 you can eat one of their main courses, a side item AND enjoy bottomless mimosas or bloody Marys. If you don’t want an alcoholic beverage (which, quite frankly, why wouldn’t you?) the price drops to $15 (or $12…I can’t remember).

I ordered their Mac Stack Sandwich, which is a Texas toast sandwich packed with an egg, fried mac-and-cheese bites, your choice of meat (I chose ham) and your choice of cheese (I chose Gouda). As a side dish I ordered a bowl of fruit and yogurt. Both me and my friend Liz were torn between the savory sandwiches and sweet breakfast dessert French Toast in a Jar. (Liz ended up ordering a different breakfast sandwich.) As a “compromise” we ordered one for the whole table in addition to our sandwiches. We’re basically geniuses.

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If brunch isn’t your scene (in which case, what kind of person are you?), be sure to check out John Brown’s Underground for a night out with your friends anyway. They serve beer and wine as well as a menu’s worth of specialty cocktails. My favorite is the French 75, which is a blend of gin, cava, lemon and simple syrup.

For larger parties (for example, 15 book club members) call ahead to reserve one of their two back rooms. During the evenings they play silent black-and-white movies in the background, which truly adds to the 20s-era ambiance.

Have you ever been to John Brown’s Underground? What did you think of it?

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A Slice of Heaven: Ladybird Diner | Lawrence, KS

Ladybird Diner Exterior

It’s a simple concept, really. A charming diner tucked in the heart of downtown Lawrence, Kansas. How have we not had this around for years?

Ladybird Diner, located at 721 Massachusetts St., is a new diner that provides quality, home-cooked food. And pie. Do NOT forget the pie. The exposed-brick space is dressed in vintage curtains and filled with antique trinkets from the fifties. The waitresses even wear handsewn aprons and pile their hair into fifties coiffures. The menu is adorable and offers various breakfast dishes (think chicken-fried steak, biscuits and gravy, and French toast) as well as classic burgers and sandwiches. There are also numerous vegetarian options, including some delicious salads and a mac n’ cheese omelet (mix it with hot sauce for added flavor). And don’t forget the shakes, malts, mimosas and beer.

Ladybird Diner Interior

Ladybird-Diner-Menu

Ladybird-Diner-Pie

I’ve visited Ladybird Diner a few times. As with any newly opened restaurant in Lawrence, it still packs quite the crowd. One of my visits, of which I poorly photographed for this blog with my phone camera (sorry!), found me eating pie with a couple of great friends on a Wednesday evening. Pie and prosecco in a Mason jar? Why not.

Let’s talk about the pie. It’s absolutely delicious. Even if you don’t have enough room after your meal for pie, get a slice to go. Or, better yet, visit for the pie alone. The crust is perfectly crumbly and the flavors are deliciously complex. I’ve enjoyed the Brown Sugar Peach (pictured), Blueberry Basil and Strawberry Rhubarb. All of these are amazing. I’ve got my eye on the Mexican Chocolate next.

Ladybird-Diner-Sign

Have you visited Ladybird Diner yet? What was your favorite item on the menu? Let me know in the comments below.

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Lawrence Restaurant Week: Ramen Bowls | Lawrence, KS

Have you been enjoying Lawrence Restaurant Week? If you haven’t, and you live near Lawrence, Kansas, you really outta get on that. (It ends this Saturday!)

This year marks the first year of Lawrence Restaurant Week, an event similar to the one Kansas City started a couple of years ago. Essentially, it’s an opportunity for city members to go out and try a new restaurant, as 19 participating locations have worked hard to compose a price-fixed menu filled with delicious foods. For anywhere from $10 to $40 you may get an entire meal, including appetizers, entrée, and dessert. A restaurant that is fast-becoming one of my favorite spots downtown, Ramen Bowls is among the participants.

Ramen Bowls Menu

Unlike the $1 packages of ramen you may have lived on during college, Ramen Bowls is a gourmet restaurant that specializes in authentic Japanese- and Hawaiian-inspired ramen noodle and seafood dishes. The downtown restaurant first opened its doors in the fall of last year as the very first ramen bar in the entire state of Kansas. With that being said, I haven’t ate there more than once before. What’s more, authentic ramen noodle dishes are not in my wheelhouse of expertise. That’s why I absolutely loved going there with my husband earlier this week, during Lawrence Restaurant Week. It gave us both the opportunity to try dishes we otherwise never would have tried on our own.

Ramen Bowls Appetizers

From the price-fixed menu ($29 each), the husband and I shared a couple of piping hot appetizers: Island Kara‘age, which were breaded chicken thighs in a pineapple-basil aioli, and Yakibuta Egg Rolls, which were filled with a crispy pork belly, Napa cabbage and spring onions. These were absolutely delicious! We were also treated to a glass of sake. I sipped on the House-Infused Chocolate.

Ramen Bowls Bibimbap

After that, we each chose an entrée that we knew would end up carrying over to the next day’s lunch. I opted for the ChaHan Bibimbap. Bibimbap is a Korean rice dish. This particular recipe was made with garlic and ginger fried rice, onions, scallions, mushrooms, smoked pork and two basted eggs, and topped with Sriracha aioli and hot pepper sauce. If you can’t handle the heat, don’t go for the bibimbap. I downed my water glass like a madwoman. The pork was tender and the ingredients perfectly complemented one another. The husband went for the ramen dish on the menu, Herb Creamed Corn Ramen with Smoked Pork. From the slurping noises I heard, it’s safe to say he loved his dish as well.

Ramen Bowls Dessert

Finally, we were served a sampling of Japanese desserts. The presentation was certainly adorable, but this was my least favorite part of the meal. The chocolate sauce and berries were tasty, but the baked goods were bland. I feel bad saying this, as the chef brought us our dessert platters and was very excited to describe each treat on our plate. But don’t worry Ramen Bowls, it’s not your desserts that lure me to your shop—it’s your delicious meals!

Ramen Bowls is a restaurant that is especially great-tasting when it’s cold. Now that we’re moving into fall, I expect I will be frequenting this spot a lot more.

If you’re looking for something new, flavorful and fun, you must visit Ramen Bowls; do not pass go. The atmosphere is intimate and casual, the food is great, and the wait staff is super friendly. Plus, it’s the only ramen spot in the entire state!

Don’t forget to hashtag #EatLawrence on your Lawrence Restaurant Week outings!

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I’m Always The Hostess: Brunch-Themed Bridal Shower

This past weekend I had the opportunity to throw a bridal shower in honor of my younger cousin, April. And as someone who loves any chance to throw a good party, I started pinning ideas right away.

The Decorations

For ambiance, pastels like light pinks and pale blues took center stage: I crafted a homemade flag banner with leftover cardstock from my scrapbook collection and filled my home with peonies, zinnias and rose of Sharon from the Lawrence farmer’s market and my very own garden.

 

The Food

I wanted to keep everything simple, so I put together a menu that featured all brunch-themed foods. Here is what I included on my brunch-themed menu:

+ Quiche Lorraine (Thanks for the delicious sausage quiches, mom! They were yummy!)
+ Crustless Zucchini & Basil Quiche
+ Maple Bacon
+ Biscuits with jam (Shortcake recipe courtesy Rustic Fruit Desserts.)
+ Donut and fruit skewers (This adorable idea is courtesy Val So Cal.)
+ French Toast Cupcakes






The Drinks

I also put together a mimosa bar. This is the best idea ever, in my opinion. I want one ready for me at all times throughout the day. To create a mimosa bar, simply buy two kinds of juice (I chose orange juice and cranberry-raspberry juice), pour them into decorative pitchers, flank them on either side of a bottle of champagne, and top the bar off with fruit garnishes. This was my favorite thing about the party (aside from the donut and fruit skewers). It was there for the party to make their own mimosa as strong (or as weak) as they like. And the kids loved sneaking away with some of the orange slices.

The Fun & Games

For entertainment I put together a couple of games for the party to delight in: One little game called “The Groom Says,” which is essentially a fill-in-the-blank game that includes statements made by the groom, and another game that involved toilet paper. This one produced lots of laughs and was definitely the favorite of the afternoon. We adorned the bride-to-be and another one of our cousins in toilet paper in an attempt to turn the toilet paper into a beautiful wedding dress. As you can tell, we failed. 🙂

Then of course, we ate, opened presents, and celebrated April’s happiness.

 

So that’s a wrap everyone! Everyone seemed to have a great time, and I had a fabulous time planning the whole thing. I can’t wait to throw another party sometime soon. And here’s my advice to anyone throwing a bridal shower: Keep the menu simple and don’t get lost in all the endless food options. Pick a few key dishes and let them really shine. Also, enlist the help of someone special. My husband kept me sane by helping me clean the house and my mom helped out in every possible way. Thanks you guys!

Leave me a comment and let me know what you think!

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My Health: 3 Soda Alternatives

I have a confession. I love Diet Coke. It is a delicious lunchtime refreshment. But it is also the bane of my existence. Everywhere you look, a new study is being published about how bad soda is for you. It has been linked to obesity, elevated blood pressure, kidney disease and certain types of cancer. And just because I favor diet sodas doesn’t mean I’m safe from the risks. Diet soda contains aspartame, and according to WebMD, one liter of an aspartame-sweetened beverage can produce about 56 milligrams of methanol. Ew. Just … ew.

So, I’ve been trying to cut back, limiting myself to one a week. And it’s for the best really, because as Diet Coke and I have spent some time apart, I’ve been able to get acquainted with a few delicious soda alternatives. None of my picks are soda alternatives in that they’re carbonated, but in that they are delicious and much better for me.

1. Green Tea Rejuvenation by Yogi

This drink has been helping me start nearly every morning off right. I like to drink it iced, as hot tea always seems to scald my tongue. This specific green tea is blended with lemongrass and spearmint. And unlike soda, it is antioxidant-rich and has the potential to fight cancer and heart disease, not cause it. Score!

2. Pomegranate juice by POM Wonderful

A somewhat recent study suggests that an acid contained in pomegranate seed oil may actually help decrease belly fat. While I’m not sure if I’ve noticed any difference in that area of my body since I started drinking it, I figure it couldn’t hurt! I never drink too much of this super-rich drink in one sitting—a tumbler-size glass is usually enough for me—because unlike other pomegranate juices I’ve tried, this is pure pomegranate juice. It is made without preservatives and cheap filler juices.

3. Very Vanilla soy milk by Silk

This vanilla-flavored beverage has just as much calcium as regular milk, but it tastes like a sinfully delicious milkshake. Although I am not seeking a dairy-free alternative, or anything, I can’t help but enjoy what is essentially dessert in a glass. Plus, it contains a fair amount of essential fatty acids, proteins, fiber and antioxidants.

What about you? Are you trying to quit the soda habit? What have you replaced it with? Give me some ideas in the comments section below!

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