Whirlwind Wisconsin Weekend + Request!

by Jenn (eating bender) on August 3, 2009

Thank you all so much for your kind words about our kitchen! I am definitely excited to start cooking up a storm…now I just need to get the motivation πŸ˜‰ I appreciate all of your tips in that area, too!

It was another crazy funΒ weekend with the family. M + P Bender got here with my little bro, Eric, on Friday afternoon. I met up with them after work for dinner at McCormick & Schmick’s with Bobby, which was delicious. The next day, we woke up bright and early and headed north! Our first stop along the way? A breakfast trip to the one and only Walker Bros.

If you’ve been reading this blog for a while, you know how much I love this place :) It’s still hard to believe I’m no longer living anywhere near it! We started with some freshly squeezed orange juice.


And in true “Bender” fashion, my mom and I split our usual ginormous entrees. The Mediterranean omelette was up first: a fluffy, Greek-style treat with spinach, feta, onions and tomato.


My mom and I split that in half and it was the perfect portion. Then came the Dutch Baby


Holy moly.

Gotta love American portion sizes, right? By the way, the “Dutch Baby” is the smaller version of the German pancake! As big as it looks, it really does get bigger than that (TWSS). However, you would be surprised at just how light the pancake is because it is essentially all air. The actual “pancake” is pretty thin! We topped our respective halves with bananas and strawberries – I probably ate about 1/4 of it (namely, the crust – I love crust!) and called it a delicious breakfast.

After our breakfast feast, we made the short road trip to Milwaukee to meet the rest of the “Benders” for our reunion. It was Bobby’s first time meeting the extended members of our family on my dad’s side, and he did well! The only issue was the fact that he is a die hard Vikings fan in Packer country. I’ll have him converted one of these days…

The best part of the reunion? If you know me personally, you may recognize the significance of this:


It’s all in the name πŸ˜‰ But the actual best part of the reunion was the fact that I learned a lot about our family back in Poland. Two of my uncles recently visited our “roots” and took a lot of great pictures. I learned the original spelling of our last name (it’s vastly different!) and saw pictures of Papa Bender back when he was still in a diaper! As I mentioned in my last post, my dad is the oldest of ten kids, so there are always a lot of great stories. Below is a picture of 8 out of 10 siblings, their spouses and their kids (including me on the left in the pink!).


Seriously, that’s just the beginning of the clan :) I think Bobby was a little overwhelmed, but he impressed them all with his Bobbyness and we had a good time.

After the reunion, we made a stop for dinner at my absolute favorite burger joint: Kopp’s!


This place is pretty well-known and very awesome. They have a huge staff that works in an assembly line to make burgers, malts, shakes and pretty much every other quintessential burger joint food.


I decided to truly enjoy the visit and ordered a blueberry malt. Holy yum!!


It was amazing – real blueberries and frozen custard? I’m sold. Of course, I also had to order a “jumbo burger” – I got mine with pickles, ketchup and mustard. Can’t get more basic than that!


The best part about Kopp’s is the ambiance. If you sit down and stay a while, you can enjoy your delicious burger fare while listening to the gentle waterfall :)


Happy camper!

We got back to Chicago that night and were too tired to do anything else but sleep. The rest of the weekend went by way too fast, and before we knew it, my family was saying goodbye :( But we did get the chance to see the Harry Potter Exhibit at the Museum of Science and Industry. I highly recommend it if any of you HP lovers are coming to Chicago anytime soon! While we were waiting for our tour slot, we took a walk down to the beach and got a great view of the city.


Haha, that first one is pretty cheesy. We were going for the “engagement photo” look because we have yet to really take one. I don’t think I can pull it off!

I have not been doing too much cooking lately, if you couldn’t tell! I’m looking forward to trying some new recipes soon. Sarah gave me a really great book that I’m going to crack open this week.

In the meantime…I have a request!



I am so, so excited to have the chance to interview Hungry Girl herself, Lisa Lillien, via Skype tomorrow! We will be recording it and I will post the video on my blog either tomorrow night or Wednesday. But as always, I want to know what YOU want to know about! I have a list of questions in mind, but would love to hear from you. If you have a question, just ask in the comments!

See you soon!


1 lookingforserenity August 3, 2009 at 7:09 pm

aah wisconsin is so exciting! my family goes there once a year for vacay :)

2 Mel August 3, 2009 at 7:12 pm

Aww man, you were like 10 minutes from my house! But you have to love Kopps, you cannot beat their huge sandwiches and fresh custard (I may be a little biased πŸ˜‰ ) Glad that you had a good time in Milwaukee.

3 Allison August 3, 2009 at 7:18 pm

ask her what EVER made her think to try shirataki noodles (the smell alone would scare me off) but once you prepare them right they are heavenly! one of the best food tips i ever learned!

4 Krista August 3, 2009 at 7:28 pm

You are the luckiest girl in the world to be interviewing Lisa Lillien! I’m sure I have 110 questions, but of course none are coming to mind right now!

5 jenngirl August 3, 2009 at 7:37 pm

What a fun weekend Jenn! That Kopp’s place sounds amazing, frozen custard is such a treat, I’m glad you could enjoy some :)

Can’t wait for that interview, I know it will be great!

6 Erica August 3, 2009 at 7:40 pm

WOW! What a fun weekend. That breakfast looks phenom…love that you and your mama split so you can each have a little sweet a little savory. Glad the reunion was fun too. Enjoy the night :)

7 MarathonVal August 3, 2009 at 7:55 pm

Fun times in Packer country!! Haha, my dad’s fam is from there too so I’ve been there often. Gotta love cheesehead hats, beer, and cheese curds!

Also, the pic of you and Bobby with the skyline isn’t cheesy, it’s really cute! The background looks gorgeous!

8 Shelby August 3, 2009 at 7:57 pm

I NEED that Dutch Baby pancake! Holy yum!

Thanks for tellign me about the exhibit! My little brother love HP, so I think I’ll take him down there soon!

That is so cool about HG! I hope you find out some interesting information!

9 inmytummy August 3, 2009 at 7:58 pm

I want to know how she feels about relying so much on artificial sweeteners in her recipes.

10 Rebeca August 3, 2009 at 8:00 pm

Oh man your breakfast looks fab!

I’m glad you had such a good wknd with the family! I was LOLing on the Bobbyness… too cute!

OMG take engagement photos, I want to see them :)

11 missyrayn August 3, 2009 at 8:12 pm

Gotta love little non-chain places. Hunni and I like to try them so much more than the big name places, especially when traveling. This weekend I think we only ate once at a big place. You get so much better quality food in my opinion. We actually even went to a local place for dinner tonight.

BTW I love the “engagement photo”. You both look so happy. We never took official ones but used some cute ones friends took for us :-)

12 Rachel August 3, 2009 at 8:14 pm

Dutch babies! Love those. They’re super easy to make, too!

I always wonder about the processed ingredients HG incorporates – that was the reason I stopped subscribing to her, actually. I prefer a higher proportion of real foods to processed foods. I wonder what her idea ratio is?

13 amyvig August 3, 2009 at 8:18 pm

Wow. That sounds like a great trip! I can’t wait to read your interview

14 snackface August 3, 2009 at 8:47 pm

SWEETPEA!!! I miss your posts dearly. Anyway, I think the highlight of this post was the term “Bobbyness.” Hilarious and adorable. I also love everything you ate-I’m pretending it’s all vegan.

I actually do have a question for HG. I used to read HG regularly, but stopped a while ago because I felt whole, real foods are the way to go. Does she see these recipes as daily standards, or merely once-in-a-while substitutes for old favorites? Or, are they meant to help people start to get on a healthy track, and the low-cal recipes act as a bridge to a healthier place? I’ve just seen it go either way- sometimes it helps people, but sometimes it creates an unhealthy mindset that no fat is good and that there must be substitutes for everything.

OK- not sure if any of that made sense. I just don’t see how long HG will go on the more and more people realize that whole, natural foods are the way to go. I don’t mean to be negative, either! I learned a ton from HG!

15 Sara August 3, 2009 at 8:57 pm

Oh man, I’d love to go to the HP exhibit! I bet it was so cool.

16 ttfn300 August 3, 2009 at 9:00 pm

you stopped me in my tracks at blueberries and frozen custard :) i didn’t put two and two together to realize you’re polish, but–me too!! does papa bender do any of the traditional polish eats?

17 Hangry Pants August 3, 2009 at 9:13 pm

I love the ducki and the engagement picture. You both look adorable.

I want to know about Allison’s question too. And maybe what is her favorite treat food – something non-hungry girl, but that she loves and enjoys once in awhile.

18 Marianne August 3, 2009 at 9:16 pm

That is one giant omellete and pancake! I’ve never tried one of those German pancakes before. In fact, I don’t think I’ve seen them before. Sounds like it might be fun though πŸ˜€

19 burpexcuzme August 3, 2009 at 9:24 pm

oh my God, gotta love that Dutch Baby!
Question for Hungry Girl: Does she ever eat out? What does she order when there are not much “healthier” options?

20 broccolihut August 3, 2009 at 10:26 pm

Wow, what a weekend! I am all over that BB malt.
SO cool that you get to interview HG–I can’t wait to see it!

21 Penny August 3, 2009 at 10:30 pm

You had some great eats this weekend! And I love all things Hungry Girl!!! Can’t wait to read about it.

22 Foodie (Fab and Delicious Food) August 3, 2009 at 11:06 pm

What an awesome weekend!

And love the “engagement photo.” You and Bobby are so cute together!

23 luckytastebuds August 4, 2009 at 12:18 am

ahhh that is SO COOL that you’re getting to interview ms. hungry girl!! If i must pick though, I’d still hit up eating bender before i hit up the hungry girl site. πŸ˜› hehehe

I do have a question!! I’d like to know, since so many companies are sponsoring them/giving HG all this free food, what does HG do if she personally isn’t a big fan of a certain product? Does she still “advertise” for them? Does she pretend she never got their samples? hmmmm

I have a grudge against HG because I asked them a question about the safety of splenda (because HG uses it ALL the time, and in so many recipes!) and nobody cared to respond even though the health of their readers is at hand!! GRRRRR

24 Erin August 4, 2009 at 12:44 am

Love it Jenn :)
All Bobby has to do is look hot and I’m satisfied! πŸ˜‰
I love that the people of Koop’s made sure ya’ll would be able to feel peaceful and serene while mowing down on some burg. :) Soooo klassy, I love it!
You know, I’m not too familiar with HG so I’m looking fwd to your interview. Being a journalist you’re well suited to the task!

25 Lara (Thinspired) August 4, 2009 at 2:01 am

Very cool about the interview with HG! I read her stuff for years but have moved away from it recently since many of her recipes require classic “diet” foods. However, I DO appreciate and respect her ideals of making “lighter” versions of everyday favorites. I would like to know…what does a typical day of meals look like for her?

26 brandi August 4, 2009 at 7:36 am

I’m glad you had a good time and that Bobby fits right in with everyone :)

LOVE dutch babies!

27 Shannon (The Daily Balance) August 4, 2009 at 7:44 am

What a fun trip! yaaaaaayyyyy for polish heritage! (I’m 50% myself πŸ˜‰ )

Can’t wait for the interview — enjoy it! How cool! πŸ˜‰

28 ksgoodeats August 4, 2009 at 7:57 am

Family reunions can be so much fun! I need to com to Chicago for the soul purpose of eating at Walker Bros.! You and Bobby are too cute :)

What a great opportunity to interview her!! My question is basically what a lot of people have already said – questioning why she uses so many processed foods instead of whole foods. Enjoy doing the interview Ms. Journalist!!

29 krittie August 4, 2009 at 8:38 am

OMG! You seriously were 5 minutes away from my house! Kopps is a place I pass everyday on my way to work…glad you enjoyed it :)

30 Diana (Soap & Chocolate) August 4, 2009 at 9:24 am

AMAZING that you’re interviewing Hungry Girl!

The Dutch Baby looks delicious–brings back memories of like, the one time I had a German pancake, which was incredible. Come to think of it, my mom’s German…I should make her cook a pancake for me. She must automatically know how, right?! πŸ˜€

31 sara August 4, 2009 at 9:37 am

I, for one, loathe HG. I know those are strong words but for someone who presents herself as a proponent of “healthy alternatives”…that could not be further from the truth!! All of her stuff is processed, as mentioned above, but even worse is the mental attitude she promotes towards food. As a person recovered from an eating disorder, I can spot obsessive, unhealthy, damaging food behaviors when I see them. Half of her “tip and tricks” could be found on a pro-ana site!

Additionally, I recently came across this youtube video which shocked me (you have to forward through the 1st 2 mins):


Lisa Lillien actually has the gall to go and tell a bunch of PRE-TEEN girls that there is something “bad” about pizza and french fries. Note when the little girl says: “my dad is always saying how hydrogenated oils are bad for you. Your new book tells how to make food healthier right?” Lilline replies, “Yup! All of my recipes have less than 200 calories each.” Ummm NO. That’s not what she asked you. I think I’d rather take nutrition tips from the hyperactive 10 year old.

PLEASE call this woman out on this stuff when you interview her. She makes a mockery out of all of us who actually care about, you know, health and like to eat REAL FOOD.

32 Natalie M August 4, 2009 at 11:51 am

I’m originally from WI and absolutely LOVE Kopps–it’s always a must-stop when I visit! :)

33 Danielle August 4, 2009 at 12:00 pm

Although Sara put it a little harsh, I’m going to have to agree. I would also want to know why she encourages using highly processed foods. Also, I want to know what message she is trying to send out to girls. Her website and whole persona is clearly aimed at young girls and she is telling them to worry about the calories/how much fat is in everything. She boasts that her recipes contain “only 200 calories” and it seems to me that the ideal here is “the less calories the better.” I’m sorry, but for a young active girl, 200 calories is barely a snack. When I went through a rough time with body image and disordered eating, hungry girl became my muse. I’m so glad I’m getting over that but I worry about the impact she has on other girls.

34 elise August 4, 2009 at 12:03 pm

hahaha…what a cute ducky!

ive been to WI once, also to visit way way way long ago relations. so cool learning about your past.

that dutch baby looks intense!

35 Danielle August 4, 2009 at 12:45 pm

Oh girlie, it makes me so happy that you’re having such a wonderful time living life!

That breakfast looks incredible! And how great are family reunions, I always learn something new :).

36 Rosey Rebecca August 4, 2009 at 2:43 pm

I love Hungry Girl!! Although I tend to stick to her simple recipes because the more complicated ones require a lot of name brand foods & processed foods. I get her newsletter though and think her ideas are great!!

37 Jenny August 4, 2009 at 3:37 pm

damn stan i would hate to see the full size dutch baby!

oh an interview with miss hungry girl herself?! well well, bender — you are kind of a big deal!

38 Andee (Runtolive) August 4, 2009 at 6:14 pm

Hi! I just came across your blog and love it! The photos of your food look amazing! I love ordering Greek omelets at breakfast places and that Dutch baby looks delicious~ I was an avid reader of Hungry Girl, but a lot of her articles don’t really pertain to my lifestyle anymore. Although, I do like using reduced-fat ingredients and her swaps are note-worthy, I don’t go out of my way to buy some of the packaged products she talks about (e.x 100 calorie items). Have a great interview, will check back for that!

39 Heather (be well & take care) August 4, 2009 at 7:11 pm

YAY Museum of Science & Industry. I lived in Hyde Park and used to love spending afternoons there when it was free admission. So much fun!

40 karla522 August 4, 2009 at 7:19 pm

What a fun weekend with the family! I CAN’t wait to see your HG interview–so exciting! Are you, by chance, going to be in Chicago for Labor Day? My Mom, sister and I are thinking about making a trip to see Jersey Boys and I’d love it if you could join us (or meet us for a meal) :)

Hope you’re having a great week Jenn!

41 caitlin August 5, 2009 at 8:32 am

i cannot wait to see your interview with HG. im not a fan of some of her ideals (artifical sweeteners, fake foods) and i want to see how you approached this!!!

42 glidingcalm August 5, 2009 at 11:12 pm

i love this post!! you and bobby look SO HAPPY; I adoreeeeee seeing pictures of you two!!

im guna go read the hg Q requests………

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