2013: A Year in Review

I can hardly believe this year is coming to an end. It honestly feels like yesterday Zan and I were down in Old Town Alexandria counting down 2012 with our friends (and coincidently, we’re doing that again this year!)

This time of year is when a lot of people reflect back on the previous year – what they did, what they didn’t do, what they would change and what they would like to stay the same. When people ask me “what’s new?” I’m so guilty of saying “nothing really.” However, after viewing my Facebook Year in Review a few days ago, I realized that 2013 was a huge year for me, and that my life isn’t that boring after all!

Travel

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Growing up, my family didn’t travel very much. We took a trip to Disney when we were younger and visited family and friends along the east coast, but we never made it out west or traveled internationally. Once I graduated college and moved to D.C., I promised myself that I would start to travel, even if that meant the money I “saved” would be spent on trips. 2013 was so good to me in the traveling sense, and I’m happy to say my parents have traveled a great bit over the last year or two as well.

Last February, I officially got my passport and Zan and I headed down to Punta Cana, Dominican Republic for a wonderful, relaxing seven-day vacation. This was my first time traveling out of the country (well, except for Canada, but that doesn’t count because it’s practically a stone’s throw from Erie.)

In May, I headed out to sunny Arizona to visit one of my college BFFs, Katie, whom I IMG_0553hadn’t seen in years. She lives in Phoenix, so we spent most of our time there, but also drove up to Sedona for a day. Sedona is one of the most beautiful places I have ever seen. The energy is truly indescribable and it has a very spiritual “feel” in the air. It turned out to be such a meaningful trip as I (not knowing at the time) went on the same hike as my cousin, Markie, who spent a lot of time in Sedona before passing away three years ago. I will never forget my time there and couldn’t have asked for a better friend to spend it with!

IMG_1088In August, Zan and I traveled to Jackson Hole, WY and Yellowstone National Park. I had never seen Rocky Mountains in person, let alone the Grand Tetons — what a breath-taking sight. We loved absolutely everything about Jackson Hole – the perfect summer weather, the scenery, and nature, the food, the vibe. I started to cry when we were packing up our bags to come home. I didn’t want to leave!

In less than three weeks, Zan and I are headed to St. John to visit his sister, Lindsay! I absolutely cannot WAIT for some sun and sand, some R&R, some cocktails, and of course to catch up with Linds.

Personal Life

If you’ve been following along, you already know that Zan and I moved in together this September. I’ve never lived with a boyfriend before, so this was a huge step for me (and for us as a couple.) And I must say, I am absolutely loving it. Nothing beats coming home from a hard day at work and seeing the one you love. It just makes it all better. That and being able to watch our favorite shows, cook dinner and just hang out together. I am so grateful for him and for our new home 🙂

Running-wise, 2013 was a little on the “quiet” side. I ran the Cherry Blossom 10-miler in March, but after that, I took some time off from training for races and really got into spinning class and weight training, bought a bike, and hopped back in the pool. I hadn’t swam in many years and I forgot what a great workout it is. In 2014, I want to cycle and swim a lot more in hopes to train for a 2013 cherry blossomtriathlon.

Once the cool air hit this fall, though, I was itching to start running again. So much that I signed up for my first marathon in March! My sister, Shannon, and Zan will be running it with me, too. I am so excited, but so nervous as this is a huge time and physical commitment. I’m happy with my training so far and am keeping my fingers crossed that it continues to go well.

Blogging

Last winter, I was out to eat with my friends Sam and Lauren, catching up on life like we always do. Somehow we got to talking about my love of cooking and running and they said, “Why don’t you start a blog?” I never really thought about that before. Sure, I had this blog my senior year of college, which was a part of my PR Online Tactics class and when I thought I belonged in the NYC fashion PR world (oh, how the times change), but I never really thought about blogging for my own enjoyment. I’m so glad they suggested a blog that evening because I have really loved sharing my life in and out of the kitchen these past nine months.

photo (1)I’ve enjoyed it so much that I’m ready to take it to the next level! I’ll be signing off for about a month while I re-design and build out a blog strategy. Santa spoiled me this Christmas with this gorgeous Nikon D5200, so I will also be learning how the heck to use that, too! I can’t wait to reveal the new and improved Foodie on the Run with you all.

In the mean time, I will still be cooking and documenting my marathon training on Instagram, so please follow along with me at @laurencarll.

Looking back on the last year, I can’t help but thank God for the blessings he’s given me. I’ve also realized that life is too damn short to “wait” to do things. So I am going to continue to not save any money and spend it on traveling because I’m only young once. I’m going to spend my free time focusing on what makes me happy and learning new things. I’m going to continue to nourish my body with great food and set new goals to achieve in 2014.

If there’s something you’ve been meaning to do but have been putting it off or waiting for the right time, I hope you’ll join me in taking advantage of today and get started on going after your dreams. Carpe diem!

Cheers to a happy, healthy and successful new year!

Weekend Fun: Date Night, A Run, Brunches and a Christmas Tree!

Last week went by so slowly, I couldn’t wait for the weekend, especially since I had lots of fun things planned.

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Friday night, Zan and I had date night out. It had been awhile since we went out and treated ourselves, so I was excited for a little change of pace. We hit The Passenger for a drink and then headed over to Acadiana for dinner. I had been there once before for brunch and really enjoyed it. The food this time around was good, but I think I expected a little better. I got swordfish over butternut squash risotto and spinach puree. The fish was a little dry and over-cooked, and the risotto could have used a little seasoning, but overall it was decent. Zan had short ribs with potatoes and crispy onion stings – was really good (he was nice enough to give me a few bites.)

After dinner, we finally saw Catching Fire. I thought it was really good and true to the book for the most part. Crazy how much they have to condense the book into a two-hour movie.

The next morning we got up and got 7 miles in. I am soooo glad we ran Saturday instead of Sunday since the weather was so much better. It was sunny and about 40* or so when we headed out. We even saw some kind of jingle bell 5K race on the Custis Trail. Zan was doing a good job cheering everyone on (especially as they made their way up some of those monster hills – woof!)

I’m really happy so far with how the training is going. Just a few months ago I wasn’t running at all, but each week I’m adding miles and the ol’ legs are feeling good!

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I came home and showered really quickly and then met up with two of my besties, Lauren and Kelly, to celebrate Lauren’s birthday over a great brunch at Boqueria. It was so great to catch up with these two. If you live in the D.C. area and haven’t been there yet, I highly recommend it! I had been once before for dinner, but the brunch was even better. They had a deal for unlimited tapas and drinks for $39 – they literally bring out one of everything on their tapas menu (like 20 items!) and you can even have seconds and thirds if you like certain things a lot. They also had a number of drinks to choose from (sangria, mimosas, tequila drinks if you’re trying to get after it.) Some favorites were the mussels, patatas bravas, a Spanish bruschetta of sorts, and the lamb meatballs, but seriously everything was delicious. Go there!

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On Sunday, Zan and I got up early and made the trek to Home Depot for our Christmas tree! I grew up with an artificial tree in our house, so it was fun to go pick one out, throw it on top the car and try not to pull a Clark Griswold while driving home in the sleet/snow haha. We got it all set up last night and it smells so good in here!

After we got back from tree and grocery shopping, our friends Will and Leah joined us for a Sunday Funday snow day brunch. I whipped up an egg soufflé/frittata/whatever you want to call it, some fruit salad and toast – simple and delicious. We also enjoyed bottomless mimosas (round two for me!)

Hope you all had a great weekend!

Do you have any fun, unique date night ideas?

Any fun Christmas decorating traditions?

Thanksgiving in Erie and Turkey Trot 10K

photo-77Nothing beats being home for the holidays, and this year, I got to bring Zan with me for Thanksgiving, so that made it extra special! The long weekend was just what the doctor ordered: a lot of eating, relaxing, sleeping (on repeat). Oh, and a little running, too.

On Thanksgiving morning, my sister, Shannon, Zan and I all bundled up to run the Turkey Trot 10k at Presque Isle. And my dad, the awesome supporter he is, bundled up, too, to cheer us on. It was freeezinnggg at the beach and there was a good amount of snow on the ground (which naturally turned into a sheet of ice after 5,000 runners ran over it.) Luckily, we all ran pretty well and no one wiped out! Shannon and I finished in 1:01:46 (a 9:58 pace which was pretty good considering the conditions). Zan was a man on fire and finished in 53:30 (an 8:41 pace). Just gotta keep logging those miles for marathon training!

After the run, we all came home to warm up by the fire and get ready for Thanksgiving dinner. It was so photo-78great to have the family and some extended family over for dinner. Zan made his famous cranberry sauce and it was awesome, yet again.

There was turkey, of course, mashed and sweet potatoes, rolls, green beans and more desserts than you could ever want. Needless to say, we were stuffed and ready for by at like 8 p.m. haha. Friday night, my huge extended family came over for food feast round two. It was so great to get everyone together and to see all my cousins’ little kids. They are just the cutest!

I was sad to leave, but luckily I’m headed home in a few short weeks for Christmas. Can’t wait. Hope you all had a great holiday!

26.2, fitness lately, and a really good breakfast

Well, I’m really excited/nervous to announce I’m officially signed up to run the Yuengling Shamrock Marathon in Virginia Beach March 16! My sister, Shannon, and boyfriend, Zan, will also be running! This is mine and Shannon’s first marathon and this will be number three for Zan (he’s run Marine Corp and San Diego).

A marathon has been on my bucket list for about 10 years now, ever since my dad ran his first Marine Corp marathon. I remember watching him as a 16-year-old and couldn’t even wrap my head around running one mile without passing out, let alone 26.2 miles. But there was something about seeing how hard he trained for months and months — through the rain, the snow and the sunshine – and then watching him cross the finish line. It was truly one of the most inspiring things I’d ever seen. He’s always been my hero, and I wanted to one day follow in his footsteps. I’m so excited that my sister and I can do this together!

photo-73Fast-forward 10 years, two half marathons, three 10-milers and a number of 10Ks and 5Ks, I’m ready to set the bar higher and train for a marathon. I’ve been anxiously waiting for the weather to cool down in DC (the summers are unbearably hot and I basically wasn’t running at all this summer.) But now that there’s definitely a chill in the air, I’m ready to bundle up and pound the pavement.

I got some new running shoes a few weeks ago and those are helping a lot, too. I’d been running in Nike frees for several years. While they’re really nice and light-weight, I needed something with some more support. I went with Mizunos (pictured above), and I’m really liking them. The past few weeks have really been about getting in some shorter runs and get the legs moving again. It was definitely a struggle for me at first, but I’m definitely starting to feel better and am preparing myself mentally as well to start tackling some more miles.

Some other exciting news is that a few weeks ago, I started working out with a personal trainer for the first time! Her name is Liz and she’s awesome. She’s a runner and is really helping me with my stamina training, (hello, crazy HIIT workouts) as well as agility and strength training. I’m feeling great so far and really enjoying working out with her.

photo-74And finally, I just made a really good, simple breakfast that I had to share. It’s no secret I love my poached eggs on toast, and lately have been eating the eggs over avocado toast (so good.) But last week at FRIENDSgiving, my friends, Greg, made some simple roasted tomatoes and that’s seriously all I’ve wanted to eat ever since.

So I roasted some up under the broiler with olive oil, salt, pepper, garlic salt, oregano and basil. I toasted some French bread, topped with Skinny Cow garlic and herb cheese wedge and spread the tomatoes on top. Finally top with poached eggs and dig in. So, so good!

Well, I’m off to run errands with Zanimal and maybe see Catching Fire. Happy Saturday!

FRIENDSgiving 2013

Thanksgiving came two weeks early at the Scott/Carll household. Yesterday we hosted our first party at our new place: “FRIENDSgiving!”

I seriously dropped the food-blog ball and took all of two pictures yesterday before everyone arrived (one being this hummus below which was good, but nowhere near as awesome as what everyone else made.) I guess that happens when you’re in the kitchen cooking and making sure everyone is eating. Now I know how my mom and aunts must have felt over the years when hosting holiday dinners for like 30+ people. It’s a little stressful getting all that food prepared and having a lot of mouths to feed!

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Zan was the true star yesterday, as he made some of his mom’s famous Thanksgiving recipes: maple-glazed turkey with an apple-ginger butter, sausage and sage stuffing, amazingggg cranberry sauce (I was eating it straight out of the serving dish all night—sorry!) and homemade pumpkin bread. I whipped up some Italian green beans and pumpkin hummus.

Our friends definitely brought their culinary A-game, too! Tons and tons of food including: chive mashed potatoes, sweet potato puddin’ (courtesy of Kylene at A Little Bit of Zest), corn bread, roasted turnips, arugula salad with pears, goat cheese, Craisins and toasted pecans, roasted tomatoes, and more delicious pumpkin desserts than you could imagine. I know, I really suck for not having pictures of these. But you can imagine how great it all tasted.

Food + friends + red wine = an amazing night. Seriously, this is all I could ever want and what life is truly about. Thanks to each and every one of you who joined us last night. Zan and I had a blast and truly appreciate all of you coming (special thanks to the clean-up crew!) May this be the first of many parties at our new place!

Now I have to go attempt to run off all these calories.

Xoxo,
Lauren

Sunday in the Kitchen, Italian Style!

I love Sundays. I especially love Sundays when I don’t really have an agenda and I can catch up on some TV, get a workout in, go grocery shopping, run errands, or cook a nice dinner. This past Sunday has been my favorite in a very long time because I spent nearly the entire day in my favorite place: the kitchen.

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This probably sounds like torture to some (or most, for that matter) but to me, the kitchen is my happy place – especially when I can mosey around uninterrupted and cook up a new recipe if I’m feeling ambitious.

I guess yesterday was an ambitious-kind-of-day because I made my first-ever homemade ravioli along with my mom’s (well, to be exact her best friend, Wendy’s) homemade pasta sauce. But Deb has perfected the recipe and has made it for our family for many years — and it’s my absolute favorite.

photo-71It’s simple, yet has a luxurious taste and when I smell it, I am immediately taken back to my Aunt Wendy’s kitchen in Erie, PA, where family and friends gathered for holidays or simple get-togethers. It’s a comfort I’m sure all us feel when smelling or tasting it after many months have passed by, and it takes us right back to that kitchen decades ago.

So I dedicate this non-recipe post and my day full of cooking to my mom and Aunt Wendy. Thank you for sharing this recipe and for teaching us kids how to cook from the heart. I’m so glad I didn’t mess it up and got to enjoy the indulgence. Love you both!

Girl’s Night In!

Nothing like a little girl’s night in to kick off a new week. Two of my dearest friends, Sam and Lauren, came over Monday night for some dinner and catching up. Normally we go out to dinner in the city, so I was excited for the change of pace, and to be able to cook for them (and save a few bucks!)

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The menu was simple and a little bit fall-inspired: Panko and almond-crusted chicken (a favorite of mine), pumpkin quinoa with Craisins and toasted almonds, and simple spinach salad. Obviously there was red wine involved, too. A perfect evening in with two of my besties. Definitely need to do this more often. Thanks for making the trek to Arlington, ladies!

Ingredients:

  • 3 Chicken Breasts
  • 1 Cup Panko Bread Crumbs
  • 1/2 Cup Slivered Almonds
  • 1 Egg
  • 1/2 Cup Almond Milk
  • Quinoa
  • 1 Cup Pumpkin Puree
  • Craisins
  • Feta Cheese
  • Spinach
  • Canola Oil
  • Olive Oil
  • Balsamic Vinegar
  • Salt, Pepper & Garlic Salt

Chicken:

I had three larger chicken breasts on-hand, so I used a meat tenderizer to thin them out a bit, so they were more a cutlet style. Then, salt and pepper the cutlets.

Wisk together one egg, almond milk (or any milk you have), salt and pepper to taste in a small bowl. In a separate bowl, combine Panko bread crumbs, slivered almonds, salt, pepper and garlic salt to taste.

Coat the chicken in the egg mixture thoroughly. Then coat chicken with Panko/almond mixture until the chicken is crusted.

In a cast iron skillet, heat about 2 tbsps. or so canola oil to a medium heat. Once oil is heated add the chicken and cook for about 2-3 minutes on each side until a golden brown crust forms. Transfer to the oven pre-heated at 350* and cook for another 15-20 minutes until chicken is cooked through.

Quinoa:

Cook quinoa per the package directions. Once cooked, add 1 cup pumpkin puree, Craisins, and toasted almonds (I just toasted the slivered almonds on a cookie sheet for about 5-8 minutes at 350* until golden brown.) The toasted element really helps bring flavor into the dish. Then, salt and pepper to taste.

Spinach Salad:

Combine fresh spinach with Craisins, slivered almonds, and feta cheese in large bowl (seeing a trend here?) Drizzle olive oil and balsamic vinegar, then add salt, pepper and garlic salt to taste. Toss together and enjoy!

Breakfast for Dinner! Savory Egg Soufflé

Zan requested breakfast for dinner one night this week, so I took this opportunity to make something I have never made before: egg soufflé. I’ve seen so many amazing recipes on blogs and in cookbooks, but always make my trusty poached eggs on toast or veggie scrambles most weekends for breakfast.

So, I was ready to give this a shot, and I’m glad I did! Super easy and really flavorful.

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Ingredients:

  • 8 Eggs
  • About 3-4 Cups Fresh Spinach
  • 1 Medium Onion, Chopped
  • 2 Cloves Fresh Garlic, Minced
  • 1/2 Cup Fat-Free Shredded Mozzarella Cheese
  • 1/4 Cup Grated Parmesan Cheese
  • 3 Tbsps. Fat-Free Sun-Dried Tomato Feta Cheese
  • 2 Tbsps. Almond Milk (or any milk)
  • 3-4 Tbsps. Sun-Dried Tomatoes, Chopped
  • Olive Oil, Salt, Pepper

Preheat oven to 400*. Heat olive oil in a pan and saute onions and garlic until translucent and softened. Add fresh spinach and mix until wilted down.

In a mixing bowl, whisk together eggs, milk and parmesan cheese. Mix in sun-dried tomatoes, mozzarella cheese salt and pepper.

Combine onions, garlic and spinach with egg mixture. Then, pour mixture into a pie dish, sprinkle crumbled feta cheese on top and bake for about 23-25 minutes until edges turn golden brown and center is cooked through. We enjoyed with two slices of Ezekiel Cinnamon Raisin bread. The sweet and savory combination made a great breakfast for dinner 🙂

Picture by Zan!

Picture by Zan!

Fun fact: I thought I was making a frittata, but realized you’re supposed to cook egg mixture first in a skillet and then move to the oven to make (not bake in a baking dish). So, I think what I made is considered a soufflé? It is now!

Family Weekend: Celebrating Shannon’s Birthday and Half Marathon

Hope you all had a great weekend!

It was wonderful for me as I got to spend some long-overdue, much-needed quality time with the fam. I hadn’t seen my sister since she moved to Columbus, OH in July, so needless to say, I was so excited to see her and her new place!

In preparation for her third half marathon, we naturally had to go out for a carb-loading Italian dinner. Usually this is my excuse to eat all of the pasta I can since it’s my favorite and I’m burning off tons of calories the next morning. However, this time I didn’t have a race to run, but that didn’t stop me from indulging 🙂

After many recommendations from Shannon’s local friends, we decided to hit Marcella’s. I am so glad we did because the atmosphere was great and this was some of the best food all of us have eaten.

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We started with their famous braised veal meatball and the Parma prosciutto bruschetta, which had whipped ricotta cheese and roasted tomato (right up my alley.)

For entrees, my mom and sister decided on the gnocchi with meat sauce, and I had to have a taste (or seven). This was by far the best gnocchi I’ve ever eaten (and I’ve eaten a TON since it’s my favorite food.) The combination of the soft dough and flavorful veal meatball sauce was amazing — it literally just melted in your mouth.

I decided on the tortellini alla manzo which was filled with braised beef, mushrooms, parm and spinach, topped with a simple marinara sauce. So good! And my dad went with the chicken picatta, which was brick-oven roasted served with Tuscan potatoes, capers, artichokes and a lemon parsley butter. Obviously had a taste of his, too, and it was incredible.

For my sister’s birthday dessert, the server brought her tiramisu and it was just as delicious as everything else we had that night.

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After eating alllll the food, we  decided we had to try Jeni’s ice cream which was just down the street from where we had dinner. A friend of mine mentioned it at work and said it’s supposed to be some of the best ice cream in the US (so duh – we were going to eat some). I went with two scoops of their seasonal flavors: Cinderella Pumpkin and Sweet Potato and Toasted Marshmellow — SO, so good.

We woke up early the next morning to get to the race. It was a cool, but beautiful day in Columbus — perfect running weather, but a littllleeee cold to be under-dressed and standing around in the wind. I am so proud of my sister for completely crushing the race and shaving 26 minutes off her half marathon PR. She clocked in at 2:00:40! Needless to say, we were thrilled for her, and I need to get my butt in gear so I can keep up with her for our upcoming races 🙂

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Pumpkin Pie Protein Smoothie

photo-1Happy Friday, Everyone!

I am so excited because tonight I get to see my family! I’m flying to Columbus where my sister, Shannon, lives to celebrate her 24th birthday with our parents. She’s also going to be running her third half marathon and kicking butt. Sadly, I will not be joining her for this race, but once I get back to a training schedule, there will be several more races for us on the 2013-2014 docket 🙂

Anyways, it’s a gorgeous fall day in DC and I’ve been dying to make a pumpkin smoothie of sorts, so figured today would be a great day to try it. I came across this Vega recipe and did a slight variation on that. Just a few ingredients, but it really tastes like dessert. Hope you’ll give it a try!

Ingredients:

  • 1/2 Cup Organic Pumpkin Puree
  • 1 Cup Almond Milk
  • About 5-6 Ice Cubes
  • 1/2 Banana
  • 1 Scoop Sunwarrior Vanilla Protein Powder (or any vanilla protein)
  • Cinnamon to Taste

Combine all ingredients in a blender, or my favorite the Magic Bullet, and blend until smooth. I sucked this down in about 2 minutes flat haha. It was so good. I’ll definitely be making this again very soon.

Have a great weekend! 🙂