Category Archives: Wedding

Too Much Fun and a Giveaway!

Not too long ago I was posting about how I gave my two weeks notice, and was ready to start student teaching. Well, in reality that was more than 14 weeks ago, and I’m all done! I finished student teaching last Friday, took the Praxis II Saturday, and am finishing up the semester this week. Being a teacher is something that I’ve always wanted to do, and it’s crazy to think that I am finally at the point where I can actually look for teaching jobs. So to celebrate on Saturday I headed down to Philly to meet up with some of my college friends and enjoy dinner and drinks. Nothing like spending the evening pretending you’re still in college!

I attended a beautiful wedding on Sunday afternoon in South Jersey, and the food was amazing. A highlight was the favors – little cake balls! One of them was a complete delicious surprise, and it was a cinnamon cake and I’m hanging on to the second for as long as I possible can (which means it’s a miracle I haven’t eaten it already).

Now onto the giveaway goodies! When the folks at Peloponnese contacted me asking if I’d be interested in sampling their entertaining package and offering it to a reader, I couldn’t turn it down. I’m a huge fan of the grocery store olive bar, and my parents always have a container in their fridge. So when I headed to their house last Friday for a celebratory post-student teaching, pre-test dinner, I brought the package with me. I was a bit skeptical at the jarred olives, but was pleasantly surprised! I’m a big Kalamata olive fan and went to town on them. We had quite an impressive appetizer spread, and the adorable olive platter didn’t hurt the occasion either! 

You have the chance to win the entire Entertaining with Peloponnese package too! Here’s what is included:
– Artichoke Spread
– Hummus Spread
– Halved Kalamata Gourmet Black Olives
– Florina Whole Sweet Peppers
– Baba Ganoush
– Antipasto Party Olives
– Specialty Olive Bowl

To enter, you can do any of the following. The more you do, the more chances you have (leave a comment for each)!:
**You have until Saturday 5/5 at 9pm EST to enter!
– Leave a comment telling me what you’d do with this party pack – have people over for wine and olives? Keep it all for yourself?
– Tweet about the giveaway – “I want to win a Peloponnese Entertaining Pack from @Foodosaurusrex!”
– “Like” Peloponnese Mediterranean Foods on Facebook
– Follow FoodosaurusRex on Twitter 

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Filed under Food Blogging, Giveaway, Wedding

2011: A Year of Milestones

And just like that, another year has ended. I always find that once we get to the Holidays, time seems to fly by. For me, though, this entire year flew by. So much happened – I got married, ran a marathon, and quit my job. It really was a growing and turning point year for me, and I can’t wait to see what 2012 has in store for me. But before we get to the new year, let’s take a look back, shall we?

The year started off with a bang (literally – our New Year’s Eve party always involves fireworks), and the momentum really carried us through the entire year. Our first order of business was to run the Disney Half Marathon and enjoy a little vacation time, which was awesome. Even though I had been battling some different leg injuries (hi shin splits that I still have), I was able to complete the race and have an enjoyable vacation. The winter was full of snow and work, while also taking classes and getting into the nitty-gritty of wedding planning.

Spring was a breath of fresh air – I had finished up my online courses and knew I was free until the following winter, and was able to devote most of my time to wedding planning. Looking back, I can’t believe how efficient my husband and I were at planning, saving money, and getting exactly what we wanted. Aside from a minor meltdown over the color of our bridesmaid dresses (which turned out to be amazing), and stress related to picking a honeymoon destination, the rest of planning went rather smooth.

By the time summer hit, my husband and I were picking up our training for the Philadelphia Marathon. We had both taken significant time off during the winter in an attempt to heal our injuries, but unfortunately that didn’t seem to help much. Most of my running was done at 5a, as the entire month of July was almost 100 degrees or over. It was at this point I realized that the second half of the year was going to be a whirl-wind, and I wasn’t really sure if I was prepared for all of the changes heading my way. By the time August rolled around, though, I was ready to tackle the months ahead.

And we had to get serious with our running. While I never got to the coveted 20 mile run, I settled for 18 and crossed my fingers. I would be lying if I said I wasn’t petrified of the race. I didn’t feel prepared at all, and had absolutely no idea what to expect. Somehow, I finished in an upright position and with a respectable (for me) time of 4:37. My goal is to run another one closer to 4, and then eventually get under the 4 hour mark. I think I’ll need to have a successful training cycle before that happens, though. So I’m planning to not sign up for any big races yet for 2012 and instead focus on building my mileage. That way I can get to a point where I can really follow a training plan and be successful.

The last big event of 2011 was quitting my job. Being this was the first job I had right out of college, and every previous job was seasonal, I had no idea how to go about the quitting process. I knew the day was coming for almost a year, so I had plenty of time to muster up the courage. It was a lot easier than I had anticipated, and I was even able to work it out so I’ll still contribute part-time, remotely. That will be extremely helpful since I’ll be student teaching from January to May, with no real income. It’s a good thing my husband and I were so serious about saving for the wedding, and we have enough left over! While making changes and doing the unknown is scary, I’m excited to start a new chapter of my life. I’ve always known deep down inside I wanted to be a teacher, and I’m excited to be on the path to make that a reality.

2011 was a big year, and I can’t wait to see what’s in-store for me in 2012!

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Filed under Food Blogging, Home Cooking, Running, Wedding

Buffalo Tofu Tacos and a Bake-off

I really enjoy tofu. I know that many people are turned off by its texture and lack of flavor, but those are two qualities I appreciate. I’m not one of those people that is easily persuaded by texture, as I know a lot of people are (though I do have my limits with super-slimy). And as for flavor, that’s easily fixable – tofu is so incredibly versatile and it’s like a sponge; almost any flavor can seep into its pores.

That being said, when I had a craving for buffalo chicken, I figured I would give buffalo tofu a shot. I didn’t want to simply marinate some tofu in Frank’s Red Hot and call it a day – it needed some frying action first. That reminds me of the other reason I like tofu – it’s so easy to prepare. All you need is a deep skillet with canola oil, slices of extra firm tofu that’s been pressed to get rid of excess water, and buffalo sauce. Heat the oil, add the tofu (try not to touch it except to flip) and cook it on either side about 2-3 minutes. It’s that easy! I served my tacos with red onion, shredded lettuce, avocado, diced tomatoes, and some shredded cheese. YUM.

On Tuesday  night my kitchen was put to the test. Aside from making the above dinner, I also had to prepare my entry for our company bake-off. I decided to make How Sweet Eat’s Peanut Butter Pretzel Truffles, and RecipeGirl’s Oreo Cheesecake Bars. I didn’t have time to snap a picture of the truffles, but look at these Oreo bars. I knew I had a pretty good chance at placing.

After all was said and done, I wound up taking first AND second place! I scored a gift card and a dessert cookbook – two things I can’t wait to put to good use.

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Filed under Baking, Vegetarian/Vegan, Wedding

Summer Pasta

While doing my weekly shopping at Wegmans a few Mondays ago, in need of some pasta I discovered a new to me shape called nuggets. They are basically a tighter corkscrew than your average spiral pasta, and about 1/3 of the size. Intrigued, I picked up a box, and now have a new favorite pasta shape. The box came in handy for Monday night’s late-night pasta dish.

Since marathon training has been picking up (I ran 16 miles on Saturday – whoop!), the miles are getting longer during the week, meaning less time for cooking once we actually get home from work and get our run in. With the summer days dwindling, I need to make sure I get in as many light post-work runs I can! So quick, easy, and most importantly tasty meals are becoming even more important than usual.

But enough about my “busy” life, you’re all busy too! So why not make this quick and easy pasta? I’m completely obsessed with basil because of the way it envelops a room with it’s sweet smell, so I’m always eager to buy it. And, since I’m my father’s daughter, I love a good hunk of garlic. Throw that with some cheese (a requirement for me) over pasta, and you’ve got yourself a winner.

Summer Pasta
– serves 3 –

Ingredients
3 cups dry pasta, any shape (I used nuggets)
1 cup basil leaves
2 garlic cloves
1 tsp olive oil
3/4 cup ricotta cheese
1 large tomato, diced
*optional – shredded parmesan cheese and red pepper flakes for garnish

Directions
1. Bring a pot of water to boil, and cook pasta until al dente, about 10-12 minutes.
2. Meanwhile, combine basil, garlic, and olive oil in a food processor, and pulse until combined
3. Drain pasta once fully cooked, and add in basil puree with the ricotta cheese and tomatoes. Stir to ensure everything is incorporated.  

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Filed under Recipe, Running, Vegetarian/Vegan, Wedding

I’m Still Here!

It seems as though everything has taken a backseat these days.

As marathon training has been increasing (or at least trying to increase despite my never ending aches and pains), so have other commitments.

The kitchen hasn’t been completely abandoned, but it hasn’t been utilized to it’s potential in quite some time. Not to mention, by the time I am done making anything blog-worthy, I can’t be bothered taking pictures (read: bugging my fiance to take a picture), and then remembering to write about it. I know, I’m a horrible blogger. Thankfully, I do have two things I have to write about soon.

So, instead of blogging and publishing posts just for the sake of doing so, I promise I’ll have some yummy stuff soon!

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Filed under Food Blogging, Running, Wedding

All the Single Ladies

This past Saturday was my bachelorette party. While I’ll spare you all the juicy details, I do want to share all the delicious food that was enjoyed! Everyone came to my house, and we hung out eating and drinking, until our limo arrived. When it did, we were off to the city to enjoy dinner and a show at Lucky Cheng’s. If you’ve never heard of it, just take a gander at the website. That’s all you need to know. My sister did my hair and makeup, which was pretty awesome!

Of course, in trying to be the hostest with the mostest (a phrase used frequently in my house growing up), I had to make some goodies. I also tried to be smart, thinking the more food we had available, the better because no one likes a hangover. This was extremely import for myself, as I had completed my longest run EVER to date earlier that morning (14 miles!). I made this amazing Queso Fundido, which was awesome! And of course, I had to make cupcakes.

As part of the favors for my bridal shower, my future mother-in-law got little bottles of wine for everyone. So, we had quite a few bottles left over, so I figured my bachelorette party would be an excellent time to use some. Everyone loves a little boozy baking! I used just regular ‘ole brownie boxed mix and baked them as cupcakes. For the frosting, I made a merlot buttercream, and it was awesome. It was also the first time I got to use my KitchenAid stand mixer! I’m never using a hand mixer again.

We’re only 30 days away from the big day. There’s going to be a lot of wedding (and marathon training) activities in the coming weeks!

Check out the sweet cupcake toppers!

Brownie Cupcakes with Merlot Frosting
– makes 12 cupcakes –

Ingredients:
1 box brownie mix (I used chocolate fudge)
1 egg
1/4 cup oil
1/4 cup water
3 cups confectioner’s sugar
1 cup merlot
1 cup butter (room temperature)
1 tsp vanilla extract 

Directions:
1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
2. Prepare brownie mix according to package, separate brownie mix into a lined cupcake pan (about 2 tbsp worth). Bake about 25-30 minutes
3. In a stand or hand mixer, cream butter, adding in vanilla followed by the wine. Slowly incorporate the sugar until the consistency is thick and everything is well combined.
4. Allow cupcakes to cool before frosting!  

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Filed under Cupcakes, Recipe, Running, Wedding

Showered with love… and kitchen gadgets!

This past Saturday was my bridal shower! It was a “surprise,” but because I insisted on being told when it was so I could dress accordingly, as soon as my mom told me to look cute for brunch, I knew what was up. It was still a little surprising when I walked in, though!

Once I made my rounds and said hello to everyone, we got started on the food. We had delicious Caesar salad with the best croutons (they were fried pieces of eggplant!), penne a la vodka, orichette pasta with sausage and broccoli rabbe, and some chicken. Of course after we enjoyed the food, it was time for cake and mini pastries. I had to take an obligatory photo with the cake…

And while everyone enjoyed their cake, I got to the important stuff – opening gifts! I have to say, having everyone watch me unwrap things was kind of awkward at first, but eventually I stopped caring what everyone thought (i.e. trying to read my reactions) and just went with it. Obviously I was excited for everything I opened, considering I had a bit of an idea what I’d be getting thanks to my registry stalking.

My bridesmaids went with a baking theme, and got me a basket filled of baking goodies (cake pans, doughnut pan, recipes, cake mixes, etc.) as well as a soda stream. Of course I couldn’t wait to get started using some of the stuff, so on Sunday morning I decided it would be a perfect time to make doughnuts and make some homemade seltzer! Since making our first bottle of seltzer, I’ve gone ahead and made three more (I’m a huge seltzer drinker when it’s around). I also made some delicious chocolate doughnuts from a boxed mix the girls got me from Stonewall Kitchen – they were SO good.

Bridesmaids!

In addition to the baking goodies, I scored a food processer, coffee maker, some Le Crueset, lots of china, a spice rack, wine opener, wine making kit, knife set, a giant wooden salad bowl, and more! Needless to say I feel very blessed and so thankful to have such great friends and family. Unfortunately since it’s the summer, a lot of people were on vacation, working, etc., and weren’t able to make it. But I can’t wait to see them on the big day!

Next up on the wedding tour? Bachelorette party! I can’t wait to see what’s in store for me. And if this hat is any indication, it should certainly be interesting!

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Muffin Remix

I haven’t been posting much these days, but I promise I’ve been in the kitchen! Even though I’m done with classes for the semester, a new project has taken it’s place – wedding planning! Obviously, I’ve been planning the wedding for quite some time now seeing as that we got engaged back in January 2010, but with the wedding a mere three months away, I’m in wedding overdrive.

Having taken off two weeks from running to try and rest my achey and less than perfect legs, I set out for a two mile jaunt sans music and GPS, just to get myself back in the swing of things. It was hot (85 degrees with 70% humidity), so of course it felt much worse than it actually was. Either way, it was nice to be back out there. I’ve been having a lot of fun experimenting with yoga, and I can already see some extra definition in my arms, but running is still my favorite.

After the run and a much needed shower, I decided to make some muffins. I basically took the same recipe from my Coconut Chocolate Chip Oatmeal Muffins, and made them Peanut Butter Chocolate Chip Oatmeal Muffins… YUM! I left out sugar simply because I wasn’t paying attention. So, if you want your muffins sweeter, I would suggest adding 1/2 cup of brown sugar to the mix. Whoops!

I love muffins for one simple reason – you can eat them at any time of day as an acceptable snack. Sure you typically associate a muffin with breakfast, but you really can eat it at any time of day without breaking eating rules. We all know I’m not one for following rules, especially when it comes to eating, but you get my point.

Peanut Butter Chocolate Chip Oatmeal Muffins
–  makes 12 muffins –

Ingredients:
1 1/2 cups flour
1 cup oatmeal (not instant)
1/4 cup chunky peanut butter
1 Tbsp baking powder
1/4 cup butter
1 cup milk
1 egg
1 cup of chocolate chips

Directions:
1. Preheat oven to 425 degrees
2. Combine dry ingredients in a medium bowl (including coconut)
3. Heat butter, and stir in milk and the egg. Add that mixture into the dry mixture, to combine, finally adding in the chocolate chips.
4. Spoon mixture into greased cupcake/muffin tin, and bake for 15 minutes.

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Filed under Baking, Recipe, Running, Wedding

Feeling Free

For the first time in I’d say probably about a year (since I started grad school), I didn’t have any solid plans on Saturday aside from yoga in the morning. The thought of being able to do whatever I wanted, whenever I wanted sounded absolutely glorious; I felt like a 17 year old that had just gotten her license and was free to cruise around town with her friends (well, one non-family member these days).

Don’t get me wrong, I like having things to do and structure in my life is important. However, it was great to not have homework and assignments plaguing me in the back of my mind. Taking the summer and fall semesters off so I can train for the Philly marathon and even more importantly finish up planning my wedding will hopefully leave me with a few more ounces of sanity. And it lets me start my weekends with things like this…

Beginning the day with yoga is great – it’s a relaxing way to get your body warmed up and ready for the day, while getting in physical activity. By the end of our hour and fifteen minute session, I could feel the weakness in my arms. In addition to logging miles, I’m hoping to incorporate more fitness-y activities as well; yoga, strength training, some different classes at the gym here and there, and of course reconnecting with the pool, etc. I’m hoping that by upping my overall fitness level, I’ll also help my running and even more importantly, prevent more injuries.

So, after yoga I got to work in the kitchen. I’ve had a few things I wanted to make backed up for awhile, so I figured it was time to actually make something. Since I hadn’t gone to the grocery store and needed important ingredients like flour, I opted for a recipe that only called for one cup of flour, and saved the other recipes for Sunday. I stumbled on this recipe from Andrea’s Recipes, and aside from using regular flour instead of whole wheat, chunky peanut butter instead of smooth, and less chocolate chips, I stuck to the recipe, and it ruled.

The only problem is that now I have it sitting my fridge, screaming my name. In order to ignore the cries, I went out for a solid 3.15 mile run, just to make sure I could enjoy more of the goodies later. And oh, they were (and still are being) enjoyed!

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Filed under Baking, Running, Wedding

Quiche Me

I always find myself inclined to make more involved, comfort foods on Sundays. It’s a day where you can get away with eating earlier and have it not considered part of the early bird special, and it’s those last few moments of the weekend that you can savor.

Since we were up early on Sunday morning to register at Crate & Barrel (hello KitchenAid Stand Mixer!) we didn’t have the opportunity to have a real breakfast; we enjoyed free samples and then grabbed some Starbucks to reward ourselves for a registry well done. So, I figured it would be appropriate to have breakfast for dinner, or in this case, brunch for an early dinner.

This particular quiche recipe had me sold the second I saw gouda cheese listed as an ingredient. I also really like portabello mushrooms and onions, so adding that in was an added bonus. Of course I added a little more gouda than what the recipe called for, and I could have even added more! I don’t think I can ever get enough of that cheese. It’s so goood-ahh (get it?!).

Anyway, I could definitely have this dish any time of day – breakfast, lunch, brunch, or dinner. Or as my fiancé affectionately refers to it, brinner. We wound up having leftovers, so I was able to have it for dinner on Sunday, and lunch on Monday!

Broccoli, Mushroom, and Gouda Quiche via ChowHound
– Serves 4 –

Ingredients:
1 Basic Pie Dough or a 9-inch deep-dish frozen pie crust (I used regular pre-made pie crust)
2 cups broccoli florets and tender stems, large dice
1/4 cup olive oil
2 cups portobello mushroom, large dice
1/2 medium red onion, minced
3 large eggs
1 cup half-and-half*
1 teaspoon kosher salt
1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
1 cup shredded young Gouda cheese

Instructions:
1. Heat the oven to 350°F and arrange a rack in the middle. Lightly flour a work surface and roll pie dough out. Line a 9-inch pie plate with the dough, and fold over edges into a decorative design.
2. Blind bake for 20 minutes. Make sure to put something in the middle to weigh it down (beans, weights, aluminum foil, etc.).
3. Meanwhile, bring a medium saucepan of heavily salted water to a boil over high heat. Once boiling, add broccoli and cook until fork tender, about 2 minutes. Drain and let cool in a single layer on a large plate.
4. Heat olive oil in a frying pan over medium-high heat. Add mushroom and onion and season with salt and freshly ground black pepper. Cook about 5 minutes. Remove from heat and let cool slightly, about 10 minutes.
5. Whisk together eggs, half-and-half*, salt, and pepper in a large bowl until incorporated and smooth. Stir in broccoli, mushroom mixture, and cheese. Pour into pie shell and bake until puffed and golden brown, 45-50 minutes.
6. Let cool at least 20 minutes before slicing.

*I didn’t have any half and half, so instead I melted 1 Tbsp of butter, and poured that into a 1 cup measuring cup. I then filled the rest of the measuring cup with milk, to make my own version of half and half.

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Filed under Recipe, Running, Vegetarian/Vegan, Wedding