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Showing posts from 2012

Handmade Holiday Gift Exchange

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I participated in the Less Bitching, More Stitching Handmade Holiday Gift Exchange this year. Due to our travel plans and our mailperson's either thoughtfulness or annoyance (jury is still out on that one), I didn't receive my gift until yesterday.

I'd placed a hold on our mail while we were out of town for the holidays, and the mail was delivered again starting on the 26th. That day, we had about 2-3 inches of snow, plus a lot of sleet. I don't know if our mailperson didn't want to leave our packages (there were 4 for us) in that sort of weather or if she simply didn't want to be bothered dealing with our driveway in that weather. I'm hoping it was that she was being nice and simply was afraid that things would get ruined.

This meant that it was like Christmas when I came home yesterday, as there were 4 packages. One was a gift that I'd ordered for someone, and was supposed to be shipped to them, but Barnes & Noble screwed up that order, two other…

Dream Dinners Review--Chicken Mirabella

When I asked Mac about trying Chicken Mirabella, he wasn't thrilled, so I ordered a 3-serving of it, and a 3-serving of the Penne with Chicken and Peanut Sauce. I cooked a stir-fry freezer meal for him last night. It was one of those, "Just Add Meat," meals, and I used two mule deer steaks for the meat. While that was cooking, I prepared the Chicken Mirabella for me. To prepare this, you place the chicken in a greased 9X9 pan (for a 3-serving), add the sauce, and then bake covered for 45-50 minutes.

I gave the first bite to Mac to try. Apparently, boneless chicken didn't mean boneless! In the first bite, he found what I'm assuming was a rib bone. He didn't break it or choke on it, but it was a bit disturbing that boneless wasn't boneless!

The chicken had a unique flavor. It was a bit sweet and tart at the same time. It was almost like over sweetening lemonade. I'd probably do another 3-serving of this sometime, as Mac didn't like it, but I though…

Dream Dinners Review--Creamy Tortellini with Bacon

I made it to the doctor's on Tuesday and started antibiotics for my sinus infection. After my appointment, I napped for a few hours, until Mac came home. Our dinner choices were:
Chicken MarsalaMule Deer Stir Fry for Mac/Chicken Mirabella for meCreamy Tortellini with Bacon. I opted for the Creamy Tortellini with Bacon, as the mashed potatoes for the Chicken Marsala were still frozen in spots and cooking two meals just seemed like too much work.

The Creamy Tortellini with Bacon was extremely quick to prepare, as I simply heated the sauce, boiled water, stirred in the cheese, peas, and bacon into the sauce, and then cooked the tortellini. The bacon added a nice hickory/smoky flavor, and the peas added a tender texture. The tortellini cooked in less than 5 minutes. The flavors blended well together, for a very enjoyable and simple meal. If this week wasn't so crazy, I'd probably try to pick up another meal of this, but between my Christmas party tonight, plans with a friend wh…

Dream Dinners Review--Test Recipe Red Chili Pork with Confetti Corn Bread (Southwest Pulled Pork w/Confetti Cornbread)

I'm slacking on blogging this week. I'm blaming my sinuses, since I've had a sinus infection and have been pretty much down for the count since Monday evening. Through it all though, Mac has expected that I cook dinner. Well, perhaps expected is too strong of a word. Requested, maybe?

I'd already planned on trying my latest Dream Dinners Test Recipe, which was Red Chili Pork with Confetti Corn Bread on Monday, and Monday night, it was really all the more I could do. It was incredibly simple! Preheat the oven, bake covered from frozen for 1 hour, 15 minutes, remove the lid, bake for another 10-15 minutes, and serve. I took care of getting removing the lid, and then when it was ready, Mac took care of dishing it out, and served it to me in bed. Yes, I was that miserable that I didn't even get out of bed to eat dinner.

It had a nice spice to it, and a very nice flavor. The cornbread was a nice touch, and was cooked through, but not dry. I really, really enjoyed this m…

Liebster Award!

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Wow, thank you Erin, from Less Bitching, More Stitching, for awarding me the Liebster Award! I first started reading Erin's blog when I noticed it in one of her posts on FlyerTalk. She's far more creative than me. :)
"Liebster" is a German word meaning "dearest," "favorite," or "beloved." Liebster Awards are given by bloggers to other bloggers who have fewer than 200 followers to spread the word and help newer bloggers gain wider recognition. Here is how it works:
Choose five bloggers with fewer than 200 followers to whom you would like to give the Liebster Award.Show thanks to the blogger who awarded you the Liebster by linking back to their blog.Post the award on your blog. List the bloggers to whom you are giving awards, with links to their sites, and comment on their blog with a link back to your blog to let them know that you have given them the award. Here are my picks:
Bullets and Biscuits--I stumbled across her blog while reading …

Dream Dinners Review--Cheddar Filled Mini Meatloaves with Potato Pancakes

I prepared the Dream Dinners Cheddar Filled Mini Meatloaves with Potato Pancakes on Wednesday night. For some reason, I thought that I needed a mini loaf pan, when it called for a muffin pan. :) So, we improvised! We had 8 mini meatloaves, made in my mini loaf pan. :)

Attractive is not how I'd describe the end result, but then again, I typically wouldn't describe meatloaf as attractive! I flattened out 8 meatloaves, placed them in the greased loaf slots, topped with cheddar cheese, then topped with a thin layer of meat, smashing it down so that it attached to the meat already in the pan. I then topped them with the glaze and baked them.

The potato pancakes were easy to prepare, although a few fell apart in the bag, and as such, we had some odd shaped potato pancakes! The dipping sauce had a very unique flavor, but was very enjoyable. Since Mac is a potato pancake person and I'm not, I actually used the sauce to top the meatloaf a bit. Yes, I'm odd!

The meatloaves baked…

Dream Dinners Review--Monte Cristo Chicken

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Last night's dinner was the Dream Dinners Monte Cristo Chicken. As it was already in a pan, and simply got baked, I knew it would be perfect for last night. I had a very important proposal due at work, and didn't know how late I'd be there, so I knew Mac could easily handle baking it!

It turned out that I was home before he was anyway, so as soon as I got home, I turned on the oven to preheat. While that was preheating, I cleaned out our fridge, since someone left one of the doors open overnight on Monday night, and therefore, most of our dairy items spoiled. Plus, we had lots of leftover leftovers, if that makes any sense! Our garbage goes on Fridays, and I typically don't get up early enough on Friday to deal with cleaning out the fridge then, so I tackled it last night. Yuck! Remains includes: a slice of pork roast, two bowls of antelope chili, a bowl of broccoli cheese soup, and a few other things. Of course, while I was cleaning out the fridge, I had to juggle the…

Dream Dinners Review--Chicken & White Bean Chili with Corn Fritters

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Mac and I were at the Steelers game on Sunday, so I knew that yesterday, I wouldn't feel much like cooking. So, I pulled out the Dream Dinners Chicken and White Bean Chili with Corn Fritters, as I could toss the chili in the crock pot to cook. Once I added it to the crock pot, I knew I needed to add water, as my crock pot has a tendency to burn things if there isn't enough water in it.

When I got home from work, I removed the lid and turned it to high from warm, which is where it had defaulted, after cooking for 8 hours on low. I allowed it to cook on high for an hour or so, hoping that some of the excess water would cook off. I then started cooking the corn fritters. Mac ended up cooking most of those, as he's better at cooking them and flipping them than I am.

We added cheese to our chili, and ended up tearing the corn fritters into pieces and adding them to the chili as well. The chili had a nice taste, but the bleu cheese and onion in the corn fritters was a bit odd. I…

Dream Dinners January order--WW point values

WW point values for my January Dream Dinners order are:
Kung Pao Chicken with Jasmine Rice (12 points including 1/2 cup of rice)Outlaw Chicken Sliders (15 points for 2 sliders)Meatloaf Milano with Mashed Potatoes (13 points for meatloaf and 1/2 cup mashed potatoes)Cranberry Buttermilk Chicken (4 points)Pacific Rim Glazed Steak with Wonton Crisps (7 points for 1 steak and 2 crisps)Coconut Mahi Mahi with Jasmine Rice (11 points including 1/2 cup of rice)Parmesan Crusted Chicken (5 points) The Kung Pao Chicken is a 3-serving, for Mac.

I've already decided on my portion of the February menu. I'm just waiting on Tiff's portion, and then that will be finalized as well.

My meals, with WW point values are:
Crispy French Onion Chicken (6 points)Buffalo Ranch Chicken (4 points)Arroz Con Pollo (11 points)Cattleman's Pie (10 points)Terracotta Chicken with Pita and Hummus (10 points)Cola and Lime Tender Pork Roast (8 points) I was slightly surprised by a few of Mac's choices. I t…

Dream Dinners Review--Slow Cooked BBQ Beef with Baby Bakers

I saved the Dream Dinners Slow Cooked BBQ Beef with Baby Bakers for Saturday. I figured that I'd get it ready in the crock pot Friday night, and that Mac could turn it on once he got home from hunting on Saturday morning. I knew that Saturday, after the Dress for Success Professional Women's Group workshop, I wouldn't feel up to cooking, so I thought this was a great way to still have a nice dinner, while not going back out after getting home from the workshop.

We had a rifle shipped to Cabela's in Hamburg, and we had until Wednesday, December 5 to pick it up there. We wanted to pick it up by Tuesday, December 4, because of a coupon offer they had, where you could save $20 on a $150 purchase. We planned on heading there on Sunday morning.

Saturday morning, Mac and I went hunting, before the workshop. Yes, I went hunting in business attire, with a blaze orange coat and hat added to my outfit. Dedicated, right? I then headed to the workshop, and still managed to arrive b…

Dream Dinners Review--Chicken & Pasta with Lemon & Artichoke Sauce

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Friday originally shaped up to be a mildly crazy day, but manageable. I was going to work my normal hours, then cook an early dinner of Dream Dinners Chicken and Pasta with Lemon and Artichoke Sauce, then have a meeting to discuss a presentation for the Dress for Success Professional Women's Group workshop on Saturday, then head home to relax for a bit, assemble thank you gifts for the coordinators, and then get to bed fairly early.

I really should know by now that the day before the workshop will never quite work out as planned. It looked like it might be even better, since the meeting was cancelled, as we were able to discuss everything via email. Then, I had to stay at work late, which pushed dinner closer to 6:30 or 7 PM.

Once we ate dinner, I selected my outfit for the next day, assembled the baskets, and couldn't fall asleep!

Dinner was easy and quick to prepare. I baked the chicken quickly while the pasta and sauce were both cooking, and Mac took care of draining the …

Dream Dinners Review--Chicken with Honey, Garlic, and Orange

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I prepared the Dream Dinners Chicken with Honey, Garlic and Orange a while ago, but for some reason, forgot to add a review of it. It was very easy to prepare, like most of the Dream Dinners meals are, and I enjoyed the taste. It was another Chinese-type meal, which is always welcomed in our house!

The sauce was a bit sticky, but that's to be expected with the honey. It was a bit difficult to get everything out of the Ziploc bag, but we did have plenty of sauce, so it wasn't a big deal.

I love how quickly most of the meals go from stove to table. Like most of the meals with rice, that took the longest amount of time to cook, and that's 20-25 minutes, once it starts to boil.

Dream Dinners this week

With Mac out hunting until Friday afternoon, I'm not cooking until then. On Friday, I'm going to prepare the Chicken and Pasta with Lemon and Artichoke Sauce. It should be a fairly easy meal to prepare, and since Mac has a contact lens fitting Friday and I have an evening appointment, it should fit in very nicely.

On Saturday, I have the Dress for Success Professional Women's Group workshop that I'm facilitating, so I'm planning to prepare the Slow Cooked BBQ Beef with Baby Bakers, since it can be prepared in the crock pot. I'll probably get it ready in the crock pot Friday night, and will leave it in the fridge until Saturday morning. I'll ask Mac to start the crock pot around 9 AM or so, and then it should be ready when I get home from the workshop. That way, I can eat dinner, and then go to bed, since I'll have been awake since 5:00 or so that day, and it typically is very exhausting.

Thanksgiving weekend

Mac and I packed up the dogs last Wednesday and headed off to visit my parents for the Thanksgiving holiday. Since I was cooking Thanksgiving dinner, I purchased most of the groceries here, and we hauled those out to their house as well. They picked up a few odds and ends, primarily things that I figured wouldn't travel well.

Mac and I headed out around 4 AM on Thanksgiving to try to snag a TV at Kmart. We didn't make it more than an hour in line, before we found out that they'd run out of vouchers for the TV we wanted. We headed back to my parents' house, and napped. I got up around 8:30 and prepared the stuffing, then got the turkey into the oven around 9 AM, so we could eat around 1 or 1:30 PM.

I then mixed everything for green bean casserole and cut the red-skinned potatoes so we could have mashed potatoes. My mother prepared the hash brown casserole, while I prepared a dill dip from a local small business.

Once the potatoes were ready, Mac prepared the mashed pot…

Hotel Palomar Philadelphia

We headed to Philadelphia on Monday afternoon for the Mark Knopfler/Bob Dylan concert. Since we have two dogs, our choices were:
Drive out to Philadelphia and back immediately after the concert, leaving the dogs at homeBoard the dogs and stay at a hotel ($50-$75 to board the dogs for the night, plus a hotel room)Stay at the Hotel Palomar Philadelphia, and since Kimpton gives new meaning to pet-friendly, just pay for our room, no pet deposits. We opted to stay at the Hotel Palomar. The dogs LOVED it! When we arrived and walked into the lobby, one of the front desk clerks cooed all over both of them, and immediately knew their names. She kept them distracted while I checked into our room, a process that was complicated by a change in credit card, since I'd cancelled the card that I'd initially used to book the room. At check-in, we were given a sign to hang on the door that said, "Caution, pets at play" so everyone knew we had pets in the room.

We were upgraded to a one…

Dream Dinners Review--Old Fashioned Meatloaf with Twice Baked Potatoes

On Saturday, Tiff and I ran around Berks County, participating in the Berk's County Best Kept Secrets Tour. We had lots of fun, and when I got home, I decided to tackle the Dream Dinners Old Fashioned Meatloaf with Twice Baked Potatoes.

I mixed in the oatmeal mixture with the ground meat, and then placed it into one of my meatloaf pans. It filled the entire pan, almost overflowing, so in the future, I'd use a rectangular baker pan. I then prepared the potatoes, filling the shells with the potato mixture.

The meatloaf did not cook in an hour, like the directions said, so it went back in the oven for another 20 minutes. Not a big deal, since we had a late dinner anyway, and didn't have to be up for work the next day. I'm not sure if this was because it filled the entire meatloaf pan, but I was a bit grumpy about that.

The meatloaf did have a very nice tangy flavor, and once it was cooked through, it was very enjoyable. The potatoes would have benefited from extra cheese…

Rescue Transports

I've neglected to update my mileage log for all of the rescue transports I've completed since the beginning of October. I guess it's good that I save the emails, right? I first started doing this in April 2012. In the 6 months I've been driving rescue transports, I've driven over 3,400 miles, and have transported 37 dogs. A few have bunked with us for the night, but most have only spent an hour or so in my Jeep before being handed along down the road, or being given to their new parents. At times, with the number of dogs in shelters, I can't help but think that's just a drop in the bucket. I guess though that the more I do move, the better life is, at least for them.

Dream Dinners for the Next Week

Tonight, after work, I'm headed to get my hair cut to donate to Locks of Love, and colored. I'm trying Bernard's at Brighton, where we were last Sunday, for their Spa, Shop, Wine, and Chocolate event. We each received a $15 gift certificate, so I'll use that to offset the costs. I also won a door prize at the event, so I'll pick that up as well.

After that tonight, I'm going to cook the Dream Dinners Chicken with Honey, Garlic, and Orange, along with rice and broccoli for dinner.

After tonight, I'm not cooking again until Tuesday, for various reasons, in part that Mac will be at the Steelers game on Sunday.

On Tuesday, I'm going to prepare the Chicken and White Bean Chili with Corn Fritters. That will leave me with 3 additional meals from November to prepare, and those will probably be prepared in December, since Mac will be hunting much of the last week of November. I'll only be hunting for a day, but he'll be out in the woods for much of the…

Dream Dinners Review--Creamy Chicken Florentine Tortellini

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I prepared the Dream Dinners Creamy Chicken Florentine Tortellini last night. Mac and I both really enjoyed it, although again, there were a few issues. The first was that I followed the baking instructions, but some of the tortellini wasn't quite hot. I'm guessing it was from the middle section of the pan, although the chicken, cheese, spinach, and sauce were all hot. The second was that liquid from the pan dripped down into the oven, and set off the smoke detector for a minute. The third was that I'd left the brownies that I'd cooked for Mac's homecoming in the oven to keep them away from hungry paws, and forgot they were in there when I preheated the oven. The brownies are fine. My Pampered Chef Mini Serving Spatula is not however!

The meal had a very nice flavor, with a nice balance of spinach and cheese. The tortellini was very delicious, and I typically don't care for most tortellini. I enjoyed that the chicken was cut into pieces, as it saved us from ha…

Foster Dog Bonnie

Our temporary foster dog Bonnie has made it safely to her new home. Her new owner called me on Saturday morning, and gave me a nice update on her. She sounds like she's settled in just wonderfully, and is definitely used to being a house dog and loves being there. She now sleeps in the bed with her owner, and is no longer eating anything and everything she can, which is great! I'm so happy she has a new home!

Dream Dinners Review--Dreamy Bocca Chicken

I finally was able to make Dreamy Bocca Chicken from Dream Dinners! I've been wanting to make this for quite a while. After all, how can one go wrong with something that includes bacon? I thought I'd pulled it out for a meal on November 5, but was confused, and forgot that we'd opted for the Mesa Grilled Pork Roast then. So, last night, I finally prepared the Dreamy Bocca Chicken!!!

I served it with red-skin mashed potatoes and corn. Mac and I both really enjoyed the chicken! I thought Mac and I were going to fight over the leftovers, but I had a buffalo chicken salad that I'd picked up for lunch for today, so he won the leftovers!

I initially sprayed a large pan with non-stick cooking spray, then while standing by the pan, wrapped each chicken breast with a piece of bacon and pinned it, using the toothpicks that were included. I did that so I could immediately place the chicken in the pan. From there, it was smooth sailing, as I browned the chicken on both sides, the…

Dream Dinners December Order

My December order for Dream Dinners is:
Cheddar Filed Mini Meatloaves with Potato Pancakes (15 points)Creamy Tortellini with Bacon (12 points)Monte Cristo Chicken (6 points)Penne with Chicken and Peanut Sauce (9 points)Bruschetta Chicken (6 points)Chicken Marsala with Mushrooms and Mashed Potatoes (10 points)Chicken Mirabella (9 points) You'll note that I'm ordering something with Peanut Sauce, yet am allergic to peanuts. I'm ordering this for Mac, and am figuring that at some point, he'll have that when I'm tied up with meetings or working late or some such.

The December session is typically made for you at no additional cost, but Tiffany and I have opted to make the meals ourselves, in part because we both like the ability to customize the meals as we desire.

Amber is also joining us at the December session! I think she enjoys it quite a bit!

We have our January order planned out as well, and my selections there are:
Kung Pao Chicken with Jasmine Rice Outlaw Chicke…

Dream Dinners for November

Last Saturday was my Dream Dinners session for November, and I'm a bit late in posting my November menu! It's been an odd week, with Mac in Philadelphia, attending some sort of electrical/automation trade show for work for two days.

Amber, one of the ladies who attended the Taste of Dream Dinners event, attended the November session. Afterwards, Tiffany, Amber, and I hit some of the stores on the Best Kept Secrets of Berks County tour. We had lots of fun, and are knocking out additional tour stops on Sunday! In addition to shopping on Sunday, we're also participating in a shopping and spa event in Lancaster!

Back to my November menu. It was:
Old Fashioned Meatloaf with Twice Baked Potatoes (8 points)Chicken and Pasta with Lemon & Artichoke Sauce (13 points)Slow Cooked BBQ Beef with Baby Bakers (9 points)Creamy Chicken Florentine Tortellini (11 points)Chicken with Honey, Garlic & Orange (5 points)Chicken and White Bean Chili with Corn Fritters (10 points) As I'd …

Dream Dinners Review--Crispy French Onion Chicken

I'd prepared the Dream Dinners Crispy French Onion Chicken from the Taste of Dream Dinners event while Mac was in Wyoming, and I really enjoyed it. I found it had a nice crunchy outside, with a nice balance of garlic and flavor.

Last night, I'd intended to make chicken pot pie, but due to an eye emergency, I didn't get home until almost 6:30, so we tried the Crispy French Onion Chicken, since it was quicker. Mac enjoyed it quite a bit, and I'll order it again, the next time it's on the menu. We did discuss that it tastes like a recipe from the back of a Lea & Perrins Worcestershire Sauce bottle, and that I can probably make it just as easily at home. That doesn't mean I won't still make it at Dream Dinners, but simply that if I want it in between sessions, I'll probably try to make my own version of it at home.

I think I saw it in the WW community recipe section as well.

I'm going to apologize for the lack of photos for this meal. Less than 10 m…

Dream Dinners Review--Mediterranean Pasta with Chicken

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We happened to be right in the path of Hurricane Sandy yesterday and last night, so I started dinner a little early, figuring that I'd rather have an early dinner, given our other choice, if we lost power, was to eat cold food!

The Mediterranean Pasta with Chicken was prepared at Dream Dinners in a pan, and Mac and I joke that those are my favorites, as cleanup, once leftovers are packed away, is simple--fold the pan together and throw it in the garbage!

It baked in 45 minutes, and once it was ready, I removed it from the oven and made homemade garlic bread, since that was one of the few things I failed to pick up at the grocery store last weekend.

It was warm and comforting, and I loved the feta cheese. It had a bit of a bitter, citric acid-like taste, but when I prepared this, I added extra artichokes and omitted the Kalamata olives, so I think that's what gave it the hint of a bitter taste.

The next time, I think I'll stick to the normal allotment of artichokes, and per…

Foster Dog for a Week!

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We're fostering Bonnie, a Walker Coonhound, this week. We picked her up on Saturday evening. She's a bit uncertain, as apparently, she was kept chained outside before she was picked up and taken to the shelter. She seems to be housebroken, or at least has picked up on that. She kept trying to paw at the door yesterday, and Mac said, "I bet she was an outside only dog." I received confirmation from her foster mom yesterday that she was.

She did seem to realize today that she can stay in the house, and that the house is just fine. We're in the middle of Hurricane Sandy's path, and she was quite eager to bound up the stairs after doing her thing outside, when I said, "Let's go inside."

She devours her food, so I'm feeding her 3 smaller meals, rather than 2 large ones, hoping she'll figure out that food appears regularly.

Cobaka and Geno seem to be getting along with her quite well, although while we're out, she's crated, just in cas…

Dream Dinners Review--Chicken Yakitori

On Thursday, I cooked the Dream Dinners Chicken Yakitori meal. I'd substituted extra carrots and corn for water chestnuts when preparing it at the store. I wasn't feeling well, so Mac ate it, while I ate an English muffin for dinner.

It was easy to prepare, as I simply stir-fried the veggies and chicken, then added the sauce, while the rice was cooking. I'm not a huge fan of Chinese food, so the taste I had just was a little odd. Although, as I was suffering from sinus issues, perhaps that has something to do with it as well. Mac enjoyed it, although he wasn't thrilled, probably because I didn't want to eat it as well.

I don't know that I'll order this the next time it appears on the menu, unless I order a 3-serving and Mac cooks it when I'm out of town.

Dream Dinners Baked Potato Chicken

I was feeling pretty lousy on Friday, and after giving me a pass most of the day, Mac inquired about dinner around 4 or so, and I capitulated to cooking the Baked Potato Chicken from Dream Dinners. It was in the fridge, and I needed to cook it anyway. Very easy to prepare, yet again. I simply added the chicken, baby bakers, and mushrooms to a 9X13 pan, baked for a while, and then while it was baking, heated the sauce on the stove. I then added the sauce and the cheese and bacon mix to the chicken, then baked it another 10 minutes. I broiled it for a few minutes so it was bubbly, but that's just my preference!

When preparing this at the store, we were given the choice of using bleu cheese or what I think was a cheddar mix. I opted for the bleu cheese, but the next time it is on the menu, I'll order 2 orders, and try one of each! It was very, very yummy, and was comfort food.

Dream Dinners Meals for the Week

With Mac home now and back to work, I'm back to cooking. We had leftovers last night, because we both were so exhausted that heating up leftovers was about as much energy as we cared to expend!

Dream Dinners for the week are:
Thursday--Chicken Yakitori
Friday--Baked Potato Chicken
Sunday--Antelope Chili, made in the crock pot

Sunday's dinner is pending Mac's approval. We're going to end up eating out on Saturday. I have a wedding, plus then I have to pick up a boxer and move her to Lebanon, then pick up a foster dog in Mechanicsburg. Bonnie is the foster dog, and she's staying with us for about a week. So, since my Saturday is crazy, I have no idea what we're going to do for food, other than I know I'm not cooking! I do know that I need to make room in the freezer by our November 3 Dream Dinners session, because right now, I barely have room! I have one 6-serving that's Tiffany's in my freezer. It ended up with my meals at our October session, and …

Freezer version of Tex Mex Lasagna

I stumbled upon a similar recipe not long ago, but tweaked it a bit to better reflect some of the issues I typically have with some of the "once-a-month cooking" type meals, where while I do the prep work on one day, I then still have to do a lot of cooking when I want to cook the meal. So, I changed this to do most of the cooking in advance. :)

I've not tried it yet, and probably won't until I have a bit of room in the freezer. Right now, the freezer is so packed with antelope and mule deer, plus elk from last year, that I think if Mac or I get a deer during hunting season, we're either donating it or buying a freezer! I am pondering making 3 versions of it, when I do prepare it. Version 1 will be antelope, Version 2 elk, and Version 3, mule deer.

You will need:

¾ Cup Salsa1 Cup Tomato Sauce3 T Taco Seasoning1 ¾ Cup Cottage Cheese2 Eggs ¾ tsp Oregano1 Cup Shredded Cheese1 lb Ground Beef 6 flour tortillasBrown ground meat and drain.Combine the following in a small…

Dream Dinners Review - Outlaw Chicken Marinara

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Before Mac left for Wyoming, one of our dinners was Dream Dinners Outlaw Chicken Marinara, which was prepared at their location in a pan, and then baked at home. I broiled it for a few minutes in addition to baking it, so it had a nice bubbly look to it.

I loved that it was easy to prepare (bake, and that's it), and that cleanup was easy as well, since all I had to do was toss the pan in the garbage, once leftovers were packed away.

Mac was not sold on it, and said it had a bit of a similar taste to the Maple Valley Pork Chops and the Normandy Pork Roast. I didn't taste that, but did taste a hint of an odd flavor to the ricotta cheese. Nothing too serious, and it was enjoyable. I served it over mini farfalle pasta, since it needed pasta of some sort. It wasn't bad, and I'd probably try it again, although probably just a 3 serving portion, because the 6 serving portion was HUGE!

Taste of Dream Dinners Event Wrap Up

The Taste of Dream Dinners event was fun, and while we had an eclectic mix of people and personalities, I think it all went really well.

My guests were a coworker, a friend from Toastmasters, and a friend from the Dress for Success Professional Women's Group.

Tiffany's guests were two of her friends.

We all arrived before they were ready for us, so we stood outside talking for a while, getting to know each other and joking.

When we entered, we were each asked to complete a short questionnaire, and then we were asked to write our names on name tags. We were each asked to give our biggest dinner issue, and for those of us who attended, if Dream Dinners had solved it, and how. Our issues ranged from cooking/eating for one, to not having time or knowing what to prepare, to watching what we're eating. Yes, Dream Dinners can solve much, if not all of that.

From there, they did a demonstration of how to prepare a meal, and then turned all of us loose on preparing our meals.

T…

Mac's text message this morning...

I received a text message from Mac this morning, at 11:56 AM (Eastern). The text message simply read, "Great hunter." My reply was, "Yes..." If you're familiar with the movie Jeremiah Johnson, you'll understand. It's family tradition that when hunting, if you are successful, to tell those who didn't go with you that you were successful. It goes:

Hunter: Great hunter.
Other person: Yes.
Hunter: Fine figure of a man.
Other person: Yes.
Hunter: That is all you need to know. For now.

The follow-up text message I received was, "Your father-in-law and I are both done antelope hunting."

First morning, first day hunting, and they're done with antelope already. My father-in-law still has a mule deer license, so they'll still have a little hunting to do.

I'm beaming! I guess I'll have to learn how to cook antelope now!

Taste of Dream Dinners event

Our Taste of Dream Dinners event is tomorrow. We've had a last minute cancellation, so I've invited a Professional Women's Group member to attend. She is very outgoing, so I'm sure she'll fit in without a problem, and she's generally on top of things, so I don't hesitate to throw her into that situation!

I'm very excited about it. I think it will be very enjoyable, and it keeps me busy while Mac is out hunting!

Other Dream Dinners Reflections...

Our October Dream Dinners session was on Saturday, so I now have a freezer filled with more food!

The meals I prepared are:
Baked Potato ChickenChicken Yakitori with Jasmine Rice (I omitted the water chestnuts)Crispy French Onion ChickenDreamy Bocca ChickenCreamy Chicken Risotto (I used brown rice)Mediterranean Pasta with Chicken (I omitted the olives and added extra artichokes) Thanks to being so organized, and having our November order ready the week before our session, they always sneak us a copy of the December menu. We already have our December menu choices selected! Mac and I took a few minutes and selected our items Saturday after I came home.

We have a Taste of Dream Dinners event scheduled for later in October, and I'm excited about that. I think there are at least a few of the ladies participating who are very interested in signing up at some point.

Dinners for the week--Dream Dinners

This is an odd week, in that I'm not cooking on Thursday, and I'm trying to use some of the items left in our freezer from the previous few months. I love that the freezer is filled with dinners, but I also realize that we need to rotate some of the dinners. I have our menu for October and portions of November planned. I'm trying to incorporate items in the freezer into our rotation, while still trying all of the Dream Dinners meals in the month that I prepare them at Dream Dinners. This way, if I really like one of the meals, I can return and prepare additional servings of it that month.

This week's menu:
Monday--Dream Dinners Central Park Garlic Chicken, with Rice Pilaf and Southwestern Corn
Tuesday--Hungarian Goulash (crock pot), served over egg noodles
Wednesday--Dream Dinners Outlaw Chicken Marinara, served with Penne Pasta

The Hungarian Goulash is a recipe I found on The Test Kitchen of Melissa Fallis, which I prepared in April and froze, to toss in the crock pot…

Beef Stroganoff

Last night's dinner was a recipe I've had for years, but haven't prepared in probably a year or so. I prepared Beef Stroganoff, using elk meat. Fairly simple to prepare (brown the meat and cook the onion together, cook the egg noodles, throw together both, mix with cream of mushroom soup and sour cream). It was good, and there were enough leftovers for both of us for lunch. However, it's one of those recipes where I only prepare it occasionally, because there isn't anything special about it. I prepared it because Mac asked about cooking it at some point, but it isn't nearly as fancy as some of the Dream Dinners.

Tonight's dinner: Dream Dinners Mango Chutney Chicken. It's a repeat, so you won't see a blog about it.

In other news, I'm driving a dog from Harrisburg to York on Saturday. He's a sweetie, at least in the photos.

Dream Dinners Review - Normandy Pork Roast with Apples

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Last night's dinner was Dream Dinners Normandy Pork Roast with Apples. I should've guessed that it was not going to go well when, upon opening the Ziploc bag, I thought, "Gee, this smells similar to the Maple Valley Pork Chops." I baked it for an hour, covered, then for 15 minutes uncovered. I removed it from the pan, and crushed the apples, with seasoning, while allowing it to sit for 10 minutes. I prepared carrots and mashed potatoes during that 10 minutes as well.

Once everything was on the table, Mac walked in, sniffed, gave the apples another sniff, and said, "What's that?" I explained, and his comment was, "Oh, I thought you took the leftovers from the Maple Valley Pork Chops and reheated it."

Apparently, the portions of the pork that didn't touch the apples were decent, and as Mac said, the mashed potatoes were good.

Same musty/moldy smell and taste as the Maple Valley Pork Chops. Yet another meal I will not order again.

Dream Dinners Review - Simmered Chinese Chicken with Jasmine Rice

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Simmered Chinese Chicken with Jasmine Rice is yet another very easy to prepare meal from Dream Dinners. Cook the rice, cook the chicken in a skillet, add the sauce, allow it to simmer for 10-15 minutes, remove the chicken, stir the sauce, and it's ready. Simply plate the rice and chicken, top with sauce, and sprinkle with sesame seeds!

It was very flavorful and spicy, with a nice balance. The spice wasn't too overpowering. It tasted almost like a grilled version of General Tso's Chicken.

I served it with green beans. I'll order this again, the next time it comes around on the menu, although I might consider making fried rice at home, rather than using the jasmine rice, since I think fried rice would add to this.


Up tonight for dinner--Dream Dinners Normandy Pork Roast.

Dream Dinners Review - Maple Valley Boneless Pork Chops w/Rice Pilaf

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The best thing I can say about the Dream Dinners Maple Valley Boneless Pork Chops with Rice Pilaf meal is that it caused us to discover a pizza shop that has a really great selection of microbrews!

I had a rough day at work on Friday, and after relaxing for a bit once I was home, I started cooking. This was the only Dream Dinners meal we had left that was thawed, and I opted to serve it with broccoli with cheese sauce. The longest part of cooking the meal was allowing the rice to cook. The pork chops were easy to cook, as I simply sprayed a pan with non-stick cooking spray, seared the pork chops for a few minutes on one side, and then flipped them, allowed them to cook a bit more, and added the marinade. I then allowed the marinade to cook to thicken a bit.

While Mac was finishing up in the basement, I plated everything, so as soon as he ventured upstairs, we could eat.


We each had a bite, and I asked him what he thought. He commented that it tasted musty or moldy, and I shared my opi…

Dream Dinners Review - Creamy Chicken Chipotle Ravioli

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Dinner last night was the Dream Dinners Creamy Chicken Chipotle Ravioli. I expected this to have a decent kick, but it was really rather mediocre. It wasn't bad, but I had numerous problems with it.

Many of the ravioli split open either while cooking or while being drained.The sauce was pretty bland, not spicy like expected and like implied by the name.It required using two pots, one to cook the ravioli, one to heat the sauce, plus a strainer, so it added a lot of dishes.
I did like that it was ready in no time, as the longest part of preparing it was waiting for the water to boil!
 
We had enough chicken and sauce left after our meal that I packaged it in a container and tossed it in the freezer. It'll be a quick, inexpensive meal this winter, when paired with pasta, when there's not much else in the house. Either that or I'll cook it while Mac is out hunting in Wyoming, since I typically either rely on skillet meals, leftovers, or eat out then.

I'd order th…

Dream Dinners Review - Terracotta Chicken with Pita and Hummus

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I prepared the Dream Dinners Terracotta Chicken with Pita and Hummus for dinner last night. I served it with broccoli with cheese sauce. It was very easy to prepare. I simply wrapped the pitas in foil, placed them in the oven, which was heated to 350, and then cooked the chicken breasts in olive oil for a few minutes on each side. I did add the extra marinade to the skillet, rather than discarding it, as I figured it would add a bit of extra flavor. Once the chicken was cooked, and the pitas were heated, I cut them, according to the directions. I spread hummus on the pita quarters.



The chicken had a very nice, spicy, complex flavor, and the pitas were warm and soft from the oven. The only problem we had with the meal was that served as directed, we didn't experience all of the flavors of the meal in each bite. After a few bites though, Mac and I both decided that the next time I prepare these, we're going to cut the chicken into strips once it is cooked and not cut the pitas, …

Dream Dinners Meals for the Week

Between work and Cobaka last week, I didn't get a chance to cook as much as I'd hoped. I was in the office this morning for a few hours, and then had errands to run before a Dress for Success Professional Women's Group Community Action Project meeting. I needed to pick up dog food this week or next, and in addition to a $3 coupon, plus a coupon for a free can of cat food, PetSmart was having a friends and family sale, so I could save an extra 15%. I shop at Petco, but they accept PetSmart coupons, so it all worked out well.
After the meeting, I stopped at Weis, and picked up my WeisIShop order. That was a disaster, and I'm extremely disappointed. It took 20 minutes, portions of the order were incorrect, omitted, and the produce was substandard. However, I needed to go grocery shopping, and since I wanted to watch the Steelers game, I opted to order everything online, pay $5, and have them actually do the shopping. They're going to get a phone call tomorrow, because…

Dream Dinners review - Un-stuffed Pork Chops (Test Recipe)

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At our last Dream Dinners visit, I was asked if I would be willing to try a test recipe. Basically, they prepare it, following very detailed instructions about measurements and such, and then people take it home, at no cost, and cook it at home, like a normal Dream Dinners meal, and then take a short survey about it afterwards. There is a requirement that you must prepare it within 14 days.

My recipe was Un-stuffed Pork Chops. Looking at the list of test recipes, I'm very excited for some of them, and hope they did well in the test!

For the Un-stuffed Pork Chops, I formed stuffing into 3, tightly pressed sections, and placed it on a greased baking sheet. I then melted butter (provided) in a skillet, and cooked the pork chops for 2 minutes on each side, then placed them on top of the stuffing. I then placed that in a pre-heated oven, cooked it for 12 minutes, and heated a mushroom sauce in the skillet.

The mushroom sauce was to be heated until it started to thicken, but mine went fro…

Dream Dinners Review--Turkey Scaloppini with Capers

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I prepared the Dream Dinners Turkey Scaloppini with Capers for dinner last night. It was very easy to prepare, as I simply heated olive oil in a skillet, browned both sides of the turkey cutlets, and then added the sauce, brought it to a boil, and then allowed it to simmer for a few minutes. It was another meal that was prepared in 20-30 minutes, which I love!

It had an interesting taste, but the flavor was easily brushed off of the turkey, as it didn't penetrate and soak through the entire cutlet. I served it with broccoli with cheese sauce, in part because it was the only veggie I could find in our freezer! I've not gone grocery shopping in quite a while, and it is starting to become obvious that I should take care of that soon!

Mac and I agreed that the next time this appears on the menu, I'll order it again. However, I'm pondering preparing a second bag of the sauce, minus the butter, so that once it thaws, I can marinate the turkey cutlets in it, hoping that the f…

Dream Dinners Review - Chicken Enchiladas

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I prepared the Dream Dinners Chicken Enchiladas recently. It's another one of their options that is stored in a foil pan and baked in the pan. I love those, because it minimizes the number of dishes we have after dinner!

Mac got the meal started, as he came home from work early, while I stayed late. He simply opened the 2 gallon Ziploc bag, removed the pan, removed the cooking instructions, and the cheese and salsa, and baked per the cooking instructions.

I got home a few minutes before we were to add the salsa and cheese, so he allowed me to do that. From there, we allowed it to bake another 10 minutes, and then we enjoyed our dinner.

The enchiladas were good and had a very enjoyable taste. However, my only problem with them was that the sour cream salsa was chunky and pink in color, reminding me of, well, unappetizing things. I found it difficult to eat, because my mind kept wandering to that. I'd have preferred either a salsa only sauce or perhaps a spicy ranch sauce tha…

Color Me Rad--post race

My sister and I participated in the Color Me Rad 5K in Pittsburgh last weekend, even though I was still fighting a sinus infection (which has now progressed into a sinus infection with an ear infection).
Traffic was horrible, both getting there and leaving, as the fairgrounds and township police were completely unprepared for the number of people. I think I heard something about 8,000 participants.
The course was challenging for those of us who aren't in top shape and especially those of us who have knee issues. However, it was gratifying to participate, and was tons of fun! There were a lot of runners who were encouraging others to keep going, and it was a great excuse to get covered in color.

We wore white t-shirts, and they're covered in colors--pink, purple, yellow, green, blue, and red/orange. It took 2 showers to remove most of the color from my arms, neck, and hair, although even after that, I had a lot of green and blue on my back, since it's tough to really scru…

Dream Dinners Review--Pub-Style Chicken

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I prepared the Pub-Style Chicken Dream Dinners entree on Tuesday. It was extremely easy to prepare. I simply placed the chicken breasts in a 9X13 pan, covered them with a ranch sauce, baked it for 20 minutes, sprinkled cheese and bacon on top, baked it for another 15 minutes, and it was ready to eat. I did have to heat the mashed potatoes that were with it in a pan on the stove, but that was easy too!

The pub chicken was tender and very flavorful, with a heavy bacony taste. As Mac and I both enjoy bacon, this wasn't a problem for us! The marinade gave it a nice, smoky, bacon flavor, and the cheese added a nice layer of flavor.

The mashed potatoes were your standard frozen, pre-cooked mashed potatoes, although my one gripe with this meal was that even though it had been thawing in the fridge for a day, and then in the sink for 8 hours, the mashed potatoes still had frozen chunks until I started cooking it.

Overall, I wouldn't order extra of this entree, but I'd definitely m…

Dream Dinners Review--Spitfire Beef Roast

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The Dream Dinners Spitfire Beef Roast sounded rather appealing, and since it had 2 baking options, I opted to try it. It was to have a horseradish crust, which sounded very appealing.

I prepared it in the crock pot, and followed the directions. I added the marinade and water, then topped it with the horseradish crust, before cooking it.

By the time we were ready to eat, the crust had lost most of its flavor, and the meat was so tender, it was falling apart.

The meat had an interesting flavor, almost like a lot of pepper, with a hint of horseradish. I ended up with the leftovers, as Mac really didn't like it. The mashed potatoes were surprisingly good for frozen and reheated mashed potatoes, although I did add a bit of butter and pepper to them.

I wouldn't order this again, as Mac didn't like it, I wasn't a huge flavor, and I was rather disappointed with it.

Dream Dinners Review--Central Park Garlic Chicken

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Last weekend, while I was rather sick with a sinus infection, I opted to cook the Dream Dinners Central Park Garlic Chicken. It was easy to prepare, even if Mac balked at it. We cooked it for lunch, and it was ready in 20 minutes, if that.

It was very flavorful and delicious, with a great garlic taste. If you enjoy garlic, opt for this! I love garlic, so I really enjoyed the flavor. The panko bread crumbs and parmesan cheese added a nice crunch to it as well.

This month has been very crazy, but I think I'm going to try to get back in there and make another meal of two of it. The local Dream Dinners store has sessions for August through September 1, so I think I'm going to try to get there on Saturday!

Dream Dinners Review--Pesto Cheese Ravioli with Chicken & Walnuts

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I'm allergic to nuts, but decided to select the Pesto Cheese Ravioli with Chicken and Walnuts as one of my Dream Dinners meals, in part because Mac loves pesto. We figured he could prepare it one evening when I was out of town or not home for dinner. Since I was facilitating a Dress for Success Professional Women's Group meeting last Tuesday, he opted to have this for dinner.

Mac heated water, added olive oil, tossed the ravioli in, and while that was cooking, heated the pesto sauce with chicken in a skillet. He said it was easy to prepare, although he was slightly annoyed that it required 2 dishes, not simply 1 to prepare.

Once ready, he topped with walnuts as directed, and enjoyed. He said it was good, but could've used more pesto and less cream sauce. He was hoping for more of a fresh pesto taste, and said this tasted like the pesto was watered down. He said it would've been better if it was pesto, and not pesto cream sauce, but that it was good and he would eat it …

Dream Dinners Review--St. Louis Smokehouse Ribs

I prepared the St. Louis Smokehouse Ribs on Thursday for an early dinner. We headed out to Philadelphia for the Steelers-Eagles game. That was an experience, just trying to get there, with the Turnpike closed in several areas. The stadium layout is so disorganized, and you have to go down to the lower level to get to various "sections" of the upper deck. Horrible layout and experience!

Anyway, back to the ribs... The Dream Dinners ribs were easy to prepare, as I only needed to open the packages, wrap them in foil, and bake them. I used additional BBQ sauce, and served them with cole slaw. Mac and I split a rack of ribs, and kept the other rack wrapped in foil, in the fridge. He prepared those for lunch the next day, although he didn't bake them quite enough to heat them. Such is life!

The ribs were very meaty, with minimal fat, and had a nice flavor, although the extra sauce was definitely necessary to add a bit of extra moisture to them. As Mac mentioned, they'd pr…

My recent travels

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My travels out to Minneapolis and home were quite enjoyable, at times an adventure, and reinforced how much I love Kimpton and to travel in general! We left early on Friday, with Mac dropping me off at the airport, after a quick breakfast, and an adventure trying to find an ATM.

The flight to Chicago departed a minute or two early, and I had a pre-departure beverage of coffee. Once in-flight service began, my coffee mug wasn't permitted to remain empty. As Mac said on one of his flights, "They kept offering another drink, and it would've been rude to refuse it." I also enjoyed a fresh, warm, cranberry scone as a snack.

In Chicago, we landed, made it to our gate with over an hour to spare, so we opted to have a snack at Goose Island Brewpub. Granted, it was only 9 AM or so, but I opted to have 2 beers. It's one of the few times I'll drink early in the morning, so why not take advantage of it?

We then returned to our gate, and boarded our flight to Minneapoli…