Southwestern Breakfast Bake

Thankfully, Saturday’s excursion to find Bridesmaid dresses was a success! Not only did we find those dresses, but my mom also found her dress, and I stumbled upon an adorable dress I’m planning to wear for either the rehearsal dinner or bridal shower, and will definitely be taking on my honeymoon. Triple score at Macy’s!

After the shopping trip, I had worked up a serious appetite, and since I had been out pretty much all day, felt as though I needed to spend a little time in the kitchen. This recipe really didn’t require much kitchen time, though, because as soon as a I put it in the oven, I went off to do a 30 minute yoga session. If any of you have iPads, iPhones, iPod touches, Macs, etc., I highly recommend Pocket Yoga (the app) – you can choose between three different practice styles, three levels (beginner, intermediate, advanced), and also three lengths of practice. It also has a library of all of the poses, and a few sun salutation sets also. I’m no yogi, but I’m really enjoying it!

But back to the food. It’s a really yummy twist on a quiche, and by naming it “breakfast pie,” it gets you excited for something different. Even though it’s a savory pie and isn’t sweet, it rightfully owns the title. The great thing about a breakfast bake, quiche, etc. is that you can really throw anything into the mix; anything goes. So I suggest getting creative!

Southwestern Breakfast Bake
– Serves 4 –

Ingredients:
1 pre-made pie crust
1 small onion, diced
1/2 green pepper, diced
2 chile peppers of your choice (I used habaneros)
1/4 cup corn
1/2 cup black beans, rinsed and drained
2 Tbsp chili powder
2 Tbsp taco seasoning (I used chipotle, but any flavor will do)
1 tsp ground cumin
1 tsp Adobo
6 eggs
1/4 cup sour cream, or Greek yogurt (I used plain Chobani)
2/3 cup shredded cheese
1/4 cup cilantro, chopped
1 scallion, chopped

Directions:
1.  Preheat oven to 350 degrees
2. Sauté diced onion and peppers about 3-5 minutes. Add spices, and continue to cook an additional 2 minutes. Add corn and black beans, continue cooking for an additional 3 minutes.
3. Place pre-made pie crust in a greased pie dish, and layer cooked bean, corn, and pepper mixture.
4. Whisk eggs together in a medium bowl, adding the sour cream/Greek yogurt. Mix in cheese and cilantro until combined, and pour mixture into pie dish.
5. Bake for 30-35 minutes, top with scallions, and a sprinkling of cheese (if desired) and cook for additional 5 minutes.
6. Serve with additional sour cream/Greek yogurt, and salsa

I know the alphabet

I know, I’m just like everyone else doing the ABC’s. But I realized I don’t really share that much personal information on my blog, so I figured now would be a fun time to do that!

A. Age: 24

B. Bed size: I’m 99.9% sure it’s a queen

C. Chore you dislike: all of them…

D. Dogs: None of my own, but my parent’s dog, Kennedy, is my first official pet dog and the #1 man in my life (sorry Andy)!

E. Essential start to your day: Enough time to lay in bed and think about the day ahead, followed by coffee and some cuddling with Leela the cat

F. Favorite color: Green! And I’m currently on the hunt for the perfect shade of green for my bridesmaid dresses

G. Gold or silver: Usually silver, but I like to spice it up with gold here and there

H. Height: 5’6″

I. Instruments you play(ed): I played the flute in 4th and 5th grade, does that count?

J. Job title: Implementation & Support Specialist

K. Kids: Does the cat count?

L. Live: New Jersey (insert fist pump here)

M. Mom’s name: Susan

N. Nicknames: Dan, Dani, Heff

O. Overnight hospital stays: None

P. Pet peeves: We don’t have that kind of time!

Q. Quote from a movie: “NO Todd, NOT NOW”

R. Righty or lefty: Righty

S. Siblings: Kate (aka “Just Kate,” because that’s the name on her birth certificate, it isn’t short for anything but people refuse to believe it!)

T. Time you wake up: Alarm goes off at 6:45, I’m out of bed by 7:15

U. Underwear: Yes please.

V. Vegetables you dont’ like: I don’t think there is one!

W. What makes you run late: I don’t. I guess that’s one of my biggest pet peeves, it drives me insane when someone else is late, and even more so if it’s me!

X. X-rays you’ve had: Teeth (obviously), finger when I broke it

Y. Yummy food you make: I think most of what I make is yummy, but I’m usually most proud of my baked goods (I seem to struggle with them the most)

Z. Zoo animal favorites: Monkeys and Penguins

I hope everyone has a relaxing Saturday… I’m off on a hunt for the perfect shade of green dress for my bridesmaids (see letter F). Followed by a hopefully victorious shopping trip at Trader Joe’s. Fingers crossed, and here’s to hoping I don’t wind up like this…

(source)

Save the Date

While this isn’t necessarily food or running related, I just had to share that we finally mailed out our Save the Dates!

We were lucky enough to have talented friends to help – our friend Danielle took our picture while we were in Disney, and then our friend Nikki was able to take that picture and make it into our awesome card.

I’m not going to show you exactly what our Save the Date is, in case some people haven’t received theirs yet, but I’ll leave you with a picture we didn’t select. September 10th can’t come soon enough!

Lackluster Cooking

The week between Christmas and New Years is always packed with as many outings and visits with friends as possible; dinners and drinks here, shopping trips there, and just time spent with those you care about. This oftentimes requires you to either cook for the masses, or spend little to no time in the kitchen. For me, it was the latter.

This year, our company observed the Christmas holiday the following Monday, giving us off when most of our business partners were hard at work. It worked out perfectly, though, since there was a huge snow storm that Sunday, leaving everyone trapped in their homes anyway. Leaving my fiancé at home to use up the last bit of his 2010 vacation days, I trudged to work on Tuesday and Wednesday, less than enthusiastic. The end of the year can be a crazy time in time and attendance and payroll, so that coupled with the holidays causes a serious time crunch. On Thursday, however, I took the day off to go wedding dress shopping! My mom, sister, and I headed to Priscilla of Boston in Short Hills to check things out. You can check out my pre-shopping trip video here. The dresses were pretty, but I wasn’t overly impressed with anything. It was a fun trip, but I didn’t say yes to the dress.

Friday (New Year’s Eve) was a day of relaxation and baking – I whipped up some pink champagne mini cupcakes, inspired by both Boozy Baker and Booze Cakes (two awesome books I got for Christmas!) to bring to our friend’s NYE party. After anxiously watching my fiancé light off fireworks from across the street and devouring lots of yummy appetizers, it was 2011! The new year started off with a 9 mile run, followed by a trip to Sonic to refuel (they have veggie burgers now!).

My mom, sister, and I reconvened on Sunday for another dress trip – this time to David’s Bridal. I had high hopes, hearing stories from many girls who found their dream dresses at David’s after searching high and low. While I didn’t have an overwhelmingly emotional experience (I’m not that kind of girl), I did find my dress! And while I can’t show you the dress I purchased, I can show you the dress I didn’t pick. And believe me when I tell you, my dress choices were all over the place. You name the style, I probably tried it on.

One of the favorite dresses I didn't choose...

My last day off ended today, Monday, as my company again observed New Year’s Day the following Monday (win!). While it’s sad to see the holiday season come to an end, I’m heading in to work tomorrow for only one day. Why? Because I’m heading to Disney World bright and early Wednesday morning for a week of fun, and to run the Walt Disney World Half Marathon! I’m really excited to be heading back just under a year from the last time I was there, where I got engaged! I’ve been going to Disney World since I was 5, almost yearly, and get giddy like a child every time. Even though I’m a little injured (though getting better), the race is just going to be about the experience – I can wait until April to knock out a PR.

So, needless to say my cooking has been almost non-existant this week, aside from making Belgian waffles with chocolate chips and coconut flakes one morning, breakfast burritos a few other mornings, and a super simple stir fry for dinner one night. Tonight’s menu is a giant salad and some fish sticks – classy, I know. But somewhat fitting – a child-like meal before heading to the most wonderful (and childish) place on earth!

2010

Yup, I’m doing it too.

So, how was my 2010, you may ask? Not too shabby! In terms of food related things, I won my first cookbook giveaway, had a bunch of giveaways of my own, and got to try a whole bunch of new recipes, and even created a few myself!

Aside from food, I also took a trip to Disney World in January of 2010, where I got engaged inside Cinderella’s Castle! We started planning our wedding right away, picked our venue, and were able to bring both of our families there for brunch.

I started running more seriously, and even completed my first half marathon (oh yeah, and my second is only 6 days away!).

In the Spring, I decided it was time to go back to school, and started my first semester as a graduate student in May 2010. I’ve got two semesters down and three semesters to go. I promise I’ll even eventually divulge what it is I’m back in school for – but that’s neither here nor there!

Needless to say my 2010 has been quite busy. There have been lots of ups and downs, but I probably wouldn’t have changed much, if anything. Sure, there are things in my life that could have been made easier, but in the grand scheme of things, a little running injury here, failed baking attempt there, lack of time due to school and work, etc. really isn’t so bad.

So what’s on the radar for 2011? Definitely more cooking, baking, and eating – that’s for sure! There will also be  lots of running, so that way maybe in the Spring/Summer of 2011, I’ll maybe just maybe be ready for a full marathon. The first half of the year is also going to be heavily dedicated to all things wedding related, since I’m getting married in September! We’ve got the big things out of the way (like venue, photography, DJ, etc.) but need to tie up the lose ends for other things (flowers, transportation, hotel, etc.). And of course, there will be more work, and more school.

I’m not one to make resolutions just because I find myself less likely to complete specific concrete tasks, instead of general ideas and notions. This means trying my best to cook new and exciting things at least twice a week, while still rotating in old favorites. It means doing my very best to keep my running mileage high, while staying injury free – something I’ve had a very hard time with the second half of 2010. It also means making sure I just enjoy life – friends, family, and all those things I love to do, while balancing it out with those grown up important things that are typically on the less exciting side of life.

I’m looking forward to 2011!

Poor Man’s Makeshift Guacamole

As you know, I’m in the process of planning a wedding. And in case you’ve been living under a rock, you’re well aware that they are money suckers. So, my fiancé and I have been trying to save as much money as possible before our wedding next September. What does this mean? This means trying to be as cheap as humanly possible without making ourselves miserable.

One of our biggest expenses each month is food. So, we’ve been trying to cut back on the more extravagant and expensive ingredients required for some dishes, and sticking to the easier stuff. That’s why I’ve been making things like these $2 Chinese Noodles (which were amazing!).

Yesterday we acquired a avacado from one of our co-workers. He wasn’t going to eat it, so he figured we could somehow make use of it over the weekend. Well, it was gone by about 10:30am Saturday morning. I wasn’t really sure what I could do with the avocado, since we didn’t have much at home to work with. So, this is where I got creative.

Typically to make guacamole you need some diced veggies. Since I didn’t have any, I cheated and grabbed some hot salsa. I mixed this into the mashed up guacamole, added some green chilies I had left over from the other night, and added a few squirts of lime juice. The result? A really good make-shift guacamole! Both my fiancé and I were seriously impressed. We paired it with some Triscuts and enjoyed that along with our uber classy Friday night meal of Elio’s pizza and mozzarella sticks. Don’t worry, we had a salad too!

There was quite a bit left-over this morning, so we had it as our pre-run snack. I can’t say it necessarily helped, but it didn’t hurt! Nothing like some good for you fat to kick start your day!

If you’re ever stuck with an avocado and unsure what to do with it, I say anything goes. Whatever you’ve got can probably work. And it’s a pretty decent and good for you snack! A nice way to be a healthy cheapo!

Poor Man’s Makeshift Guacamole

Ingredients:
1/2 a ripe avocado
3 tbsp chunky salsa
1 tbsp lime juice
1 green chili

Directions:
1. Remove avocado skin, and in a medium bowl smash with a fork
2. Chop and dice green chile
3. Add salsa and lime juice, mix together
4. ENJOY!

Veggie burgers and Mexican BBQ

Yesterday was seriously delicious.

My parents and I decided to go to lunch in New Brunswick to catch up and talk wedding business. My dad works at Rutgers, so everyone is pretty familiar with the food options in the area. After much debate on what we wanted, we settled on Old Man Rafferty’s. Though I hadn’t been there in easily 10 years, I remember it being pretty good.

I started off with a coconut flavored iced latte. It was topped with
real whipped cream and absolutely delicious. For my entree, I went
with the veggie burger paired with sweet potato fries. My mom got the shrimp salad “boat” and my dad the chicken salad “boat.” My parent’s meals were paired with a Greek salad and pita chips, and looked awesome. My veggie burger was really good. It had a nice char-grilled flavor, but wasn’t over-done. At one point I really questioned if it was veggie – it was impressive! The fries were sliced thin and had the perfect crisp. It was served with a cucumber ranch dip that I used both for my burger and my fries.

Later that evening we decided to head to The Grub Hut in Manville with the usual foodie suspects. BBQ and Mexican in one place?! Not only does it sound amazing, it is amazing. I don’t even know where to start with this place. It’s nothing special on the outside, and even when you walk in; there are a few table and chairs on either side of the doors, and then the kitchen area is wide open with metal everywhere – they don’t hide anything, and they don’t go for looks either. But when the food is that good, does it really matter what the place itself looks like? If you are ever in the mood for smoky, excellently seasoned and perfectly cooked food, and A LOT of it, then I would absolutely suggest The Grub Hut. They actually used to be called The Rub Hut, but added a G in front, probably for the best.

In terms of their menu, it’s pretty impressive; they offer brisket, chicken, pork, Texas link, and ribs all done either in a traditional BBQ way, or Mexican style and served up either in a burrito, flauta, taco, enchilada, or chimichanga. You can even order the mother of all combos and have some BBQ and Mexican heaven together. They offer individual sized meals as well as those you can share with a table, such as a THREE POUND burrito!

The meal started off great with nicely seasoned tortilla chips and an awesome salsa. It is super chunky, and spicy and tangy in a way that most salsa’s seem to miss. I went for the chicken chimichanga, while my fiancé got the ground beef jumbo burrito. They were both HUGE! I was really pleased with my choice of chicken; it was smoky and definitely had a BBQ flavor, but also had a serious kick of Mexican spices. Shoved into a huge tortilla that was fried with rice, beans, cheese, lettuce and tomato paired with some sour cream and guacamole = heaven. I only ate about half, and am saving the rest for tomorrow night’s dinner! Everyone else at the table went for the BBQ side; a BBQ chicken sandwich, a platter called “Hog Heaven” that had chorizo, ribs, brisket and pulled pork, and a Pit Master platter that was similar. Most of their entrées come with two sides; they have everything from fried plantains and rice and beans to “loco” fries doused in jalapeños and cheese.

Jefe Grande Chimi

Needless to say we all waddled out of the restaurant, and headed not home, but to Rita’s. Yes, we’re gluttons for punishment and decided to stretch our stomachs just a little more. While everyone else went for ice, I got myself some vanilla soft serve with rainbow sprinkles – my own personal heaven. I only finished about a quarter of it, but it was well worth every bite.

Thankfully, I went for a four mile run today and watched myself in terms of eating, since yesterday was a serious glutton fest. But what can I say? You need one of those every once in awhile!! And I’m definitely planning on going back to The Grub Hut to enjoy some more Mexican BBQ in the future!