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 

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!

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.


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!


Today marks the three year anniversary from when I entered the real world.

Sure, you could say that my graduation from The University of Scranton back in May of 2008 was my official push into the “real world,” but I like to think it didn’t officially begin until a week later, when I pulled on my big-girl panties and set off on my very first day of work at a “real job.”

Me & Two housemates, post graduation

Looking back, it seems surreal to think I’ve already been out of college for three years, have been working for that long, and am just beginning to embark on more exciting things within my life. Today also just so happens to be a special marker in our wedding planning.

That’s right folks, a mere 100 days until I walk down the asile and marry my very best friend! It seems like just yesterday we started dating. Now we’re in the crunch zone with wedding related things arriving in the mail, etc., almost daily. My how time flies.

I can’t wait to see what the future holds – I have grand plans and can’t wait to fill you all in! 🙂

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 –

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

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.

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 –

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

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.

Veggieful Enchiladas

Since I didn’t use all of the Philadelphia Creme when I made the Baked Southwestern Pasta Skillet, I needed to figure out what to do with it. I decided to make enchiladas, since we hadn’t had them in awhile. I’ve made them with eggplant, poblano peppers, and some with your typical veggies (onions and peppers). So, this time I decided to combine it all! Since the creme takes the place of enchilada sauce, it’s super quick and easy.

After reading up on tons of wedding blogs, I’ve realized that I should try and tone my arms so they look fab in my wedding dress. Since I used to swim, I have pretty defined arm muscles as it is, without doing any extra work; it’s leftover residual muscle definition. But, I realized I want to make sure I don’t look bulky (something easily accomplished through swimming), and I’ve been noticing that my arms are looking nice and toned simply from yoga. So, in addition to some yoga, I decided to add in some free-weight exercises also. Conveniently, FitSugar recently posted “How to Tone Your Arms Picture-Perfect For the Big Day,” which offered up tons of exercise suggestions I can add to my repertoire. So, that was on my to-do list before getting to work on dinner.

After getting my arms nice and tired, I threw together these veggie packed enchiladas. Now I just need to figure out what to do with the rest of the eggplant and green pepper I have from this recipe!

Veggieful Enchiladas
– Serves 4 –

2 Tbsp cooking oil
1 tsp chili powder
1/2 tsp ground cumin
1/2 tsp Adobo
1/2 eggplant, peeled and diced
1 medium yellow onion, sliced
1/2 large green pepper, sliced
1 hot pepper, diced (optional – I used a habanero)
1/4 cup Santa Fe styled Philadelphia Creme + 1/4 cup
1/4 cup shredded cheese + 1/4 cup
6 burrito-sized tortillas

1. Preheat oven to 375 degrees.
2. Heat oil in skillet, and add onions and pepper, and cook for 5 minutes. Add eggplant, and spices, and cook for an additional 5-10 minutes until onions, peppers, and eggplant are soft.
3. Stir in 1/4 cup of cooking creme, cooking until headed through, about 3 minutes. Add 1/4 cup of cheese, and remove from heat.
4. Evenly fill tortillas with filling, and place in a greased 8 x 11 baking dish.
5. Top with remaining cooking creme and cheese, and bake for 15 minutes.

Girl Talk

On Saturday, all of my bridesmaids came over so we could get everyone measured and their dresses ordered. Since most of them live in the Philly area, we decided to make a day of it and have lunch afterwards. The mall not too far from my house has quite a few restaurant options, so we had a lot to choose from.

We decided on The Cheesecake Factory, since it’s got something for everyone. Even though we were there at about 3pm, there was still a 30 minute wait so we headed to the bar until our table was ready. After perusing the drink menu, myself and two of my bridesmaids ordered a drink called “Girl Talk,” which had tequila, lime juice, strawberries, and other deliciousness. It basically tasted like a strawberry daiquiri, and looked pretty too!

Apparently trying on dresses and getting measured works up an appetite, because by the time we were seated, we couldn’t keep our hands off of the bread they gave us. I wound up ordering their Barbecque Ranch Chicken Salad (sans chicken), with avocado, fried onion strings, corn, black beans, and tomatoes… It was totally delicious! Sorry for the blurry iPhone picture, I was so excited to eat I just couldn’t contain myself! 😉

The rest of the day was filled with more wedding fun, including trying to narrow down a rehearsal dinner location. Have you noticed a trend yet that my weekends pretty  much involve just three things: wedding stuff, homework, and running? Now that the wedding planning for the weekend is out of the way, hopefully Sunday will involve some baking and a nice long run.

Veggie Calzones

Even though I haven’t been running (but started again this week, yay!), I’ve still been wearing myself thin in terms of everything I’ve been doing. This became apparent on Tuesday morning when I woke up to a raging headache, stuffy nose, sore throat, and the general inability to move. So, I decided it would be in the best interest of not only myself, but my co-workers, to stay home.

I’ve been in full-on wedding planning mode, trying to get as much done as I can in terms of ordering bridesmaid dresses, setting up floral appointments, invitations, and all those other little (but important!) things. This past Sunday I had my first hair and makeup trial, which was awesome. I actually had the opportunity to act as a hair and makeup model for DeVenir Beauty at a tasting event at The Mallard Yacht Club in Manahawkin. The property is absolutely gorgeous, so it was fun to see such a glamours venue. Plus, getting to show off my awesome hair and makeup and hear people say how much they liked it was really fun! Here’s a sneak peak at the back (I don’t want to completely give it all away!)…

This was at the end of the day, after I took the hair comb out

I started the day off with my last sick day creation, and added almond butter to the mix. After resting for a few extra hours, I was able to get started on the loads of homework I had. My fiancé is always adamant when I’m sick to make sure I’m doing everything I can to get better. So before he left for work he instructed me to take medicine, drink an entire glass of water he placed by  the bed, and to rest. Unlike last time, I actually listed to him, and am feeling much better.

Even though I was slated to start running again on Tuesday (2 miles), I pushed it off until later in the week. My fiancé is also going to give it a shot. This is the first time he’ll be running since our half marathon in January. I’ve made a few attempts in the weeks since then, but haven’t been completely discomfort free. I’m hoping that I will be this week, as we’re signed up for a half marathon in April. I have no intention of racing, but would like to complete it so I can get my medal! I’m trying to convince the fiancé to run it with me – it’ll be our last long distance race before we’re married, it would be fun to cross the finish line together!

Since I was home all day, I had an opportunity to make something that took a little more time than the rest of the meals that were planned for the week – veggie calzones! Since I used pre-made pie crust (or you can use premade dough) it was really just a matter of getting all the ingredients together, and then baking it. Thankfully this came out better than my buffalo chicken pizza.

Veggie Calzones
– Serves 2 –

1 pre-made pie crust or pizza dough
3/4 bag of frozen veggies (any mix you’d like)
1 small yellow onion, sliced
1 cup of mozzarella cheese, shredded
1 tsp dried oregano
1/2 tsp red pepper flakes (or more if you like it spicy!)
1/2 tsp garlic powder
2 Tbsp olive oil
1 egg plus 1 Tbsp of water for the egg wash

1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees
2. Roll out pie crust or dough on a floured surface, and sprinkle half of the cheese on just one half of the dough
3. Heat oil in skillet, and add onions and veggies. Saute for about 3 minutes, then add oregano, red pepper flakes, and garlic powder. Continue to saute for an additional 5 minutes, until the veggies are starting to get tender
4. Add vegetable mix on top of cheese, and sprinkle with the remaining cheese. Carefully fold the empty side atop the filling, making sure to roll the edges together
5. In a small bowl, whisk egg and water together. Using a pastry brush (or spoon if you don’t have one) coat the dough with the egg wash.
6. Bake for 20-30 minutes until crust is golden brown. Cut in half or in quarters, and enjoy!

Roll With It

After struggling through last week in terms of work stress, piles of homework, and wedding planning, the past few days have had their share of good news. In going with the theme of wedding planning since we’re really in the thick of it now (6 months to go!), fiancé and I just realized we have officially reached our savings goal to comfortably pay for the wedding, and still have plenty left over. This is a great realization and relief, since we really cut back on our day to day activities and spending to make sure we met our monthly savings quota. Not that we plan on changing anything that we’ve been doing, but it’s nice to know we’ll have some cushion room too!

Even though I haven’t been running (thanks, foot) I have been dreaming about the moment I can comfortably go for a run without feeling like my foot might snap in half. I’m still not sure if I’m going to run the half marathon in April (just because I haven’t been able to train properly, aka at all), but I have every intention of signing up for the Philadelphia Marathon on April 1st when registration opens. My first full mary will probably be my first race post wedding – double excitement!

For dinner on Tuesday, I wanted to somehow use wonton/eggroll wrappers, but I wasn’t sure exactly what to do. I grabbed a bag of rainbow cabbage mix at the grocery store over the weekend, and just hoped for the best. What I actually got were some pretty awesome veggie eggrolls, that served alongside some steamed vegetables and a salad was the perfect weeknight meal! The best part was that they tasted fried, but I didn’t have to actually suffer through any flying oil, and they wound up (hopefully) healthier. It took about 20 minutes in total to prepare, and was super easy. The package of wontons I got had quite a few in it, so I’m hoping to try my hand at some Southwestern eggrolls later this week.

Easy Baked Eggrolls
– Makes 8 rolls –

8 eggroll wrappers (I used Nasoya brand)
1/2 bag Rainbow cabbage mix (I used  Mann’s)
1/2 green pepper, diced
2 celery stalks, diced
2 Tbsp oil
2 Tbsp soy sauce
1 Tbsp Sambal Olek
1 Tbsp Worcestershire sauce
1 Tsp Chinese 5 spice

1. Preheat oven to 450 degrees
2. Heat oil in skillet, and add cabbage mixture, pepper, and celery. Cook for 5 minutes, until cabbage mixture begins to wilt
3. Add soy sauce, Worcestershire, Sambal Olek, and 5 spice. Cook additional 5 minutes
4. Once mixture is well combined and heated through, remove from heat. Place about 1 1/2 tablespoons of mixture into middle of wrapper, and fold in each side, starting at the bottom and rolling as you work your way up.  Place the rolled wrappers on a greased baking sheet.
5. Brush some oil on the top of each of the rolls before placing in the oven. Cook for 10 minutes on the top rack in the oven.