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Showing posts from June, 2012

Dream Dinners July menu selections

I'm anxiously awaiting my July Dream Dinners session. I'm actually getting 39 servings, while Tiffany is getting 33 servings. She was undecided about her last 3 serving choice, and finally said that if I wanted to select one, she'd prefer that. My selections are:
Santa Fe Shredded Pork BurritosKentucky Pork ChopsBoston's Chicken CarbonaraChicago Style Choice Cut Chicken with Red Skin PotatoesSt. Louis Smokehouse RibsMesa Grilled Pork Roast I'm doing 2 of the 6-serving Santa Fe Shredded Pork Burritos, and a 3-serving Chicago Style Choice Cut Chicken with Red Skin Potatoes. My cost/serving is $4.39/serving, which is reasonable. Most of our selections this month are pork, which is a nice change, since I rarely cook that at home.

Mac and I were near Dream Dinners last night for a mystery shop, so after dinner, we stopped at the location. They were closed, and we weren't going to go in even if they were open, but at least this way, he could see the layout. Now, he ha…

food for next week

Mac will be home all next week, relaxing and doing a few minor home repair projects. He'll be replacing the woodwork around a few doors and taking care of the lawn. That means that dinner next week, if it just needs to be baked, can be ready when I get home from work, or shortly after that.

Dinner on Monday will be hot dogs at the baseball game, since it's dollar dog night. Tuesday, I think I'm going to suggest that we try Summertime Pasta with Chicken. I think Wednesday, we'll do the Outlaw Chicken Sliders, and Thursday, I'll cook the Mexican Beef w/Corn Dumplings. The pasta can just be baked in the oven, so it's very simple.

The Outlaw Chicken Sliders are pretty easy as well, but the Mexican Beef is a bit more challenging, because it involves cooking the dumplings. I'll try to post photos of the meals. For the pasta, I'll try to post photos of it both in the pan and on a plate.

For the Dream Dinners that require only baking in a pan, when you prepare …

German food

Mac and I were a few towns over last night for an appointment. My grandfather and his parents and grandparents had stamp collections, and because we're starting a very relaxed search for a new house, we wanted to get those appraised, to see if there was anything of any value. We found a stamp collector/dealer a few towns over, who was willing to look at the collections.

I was very close to my grandfather, and we were two peas in a pod. I was feisty, and he relished it. I have very fond memories of spending time with him, from looking through the stamps to when he bought a scooter for my birthday, and decided he was going to save the assembly fee, and decided to assemble it himself. The stamps were the only thing he willed to anyone. They were willed to me, with a handwritten note in the box of them indicating that he wished that they go to me. We never knew if the stamps had any real value, but we decided that if they were of value, we'd consider selling them to use towards a…

banking stupidity

Occasionally, my debit card gets flagged by my bank's security/card loss department. They'll intentionally deny a transaction, and will call me to ask me to verify transactions. Usually, it's not a bad thing. In prior experiences, calling back simply transfers me into an automated system that, recognizing my phone number, asks me to confirm the phone number, then pulls up my account. It then asks me to verify several transactions, and after doing that, my card works again, without an issue.

Today, I attempted to make a purchase online, and the transaction was denied. A few minutes later, I receive a phone call. The voice mail message asks me to return the call. Figuring that it's the same old situation, I call. This time, a live person answers, and asks me to provide them with my card number. Um, no! Does that sound like a scam to anyone else? So, I call the main banking number, and they connect me to someone in their card loss department. They verify transactions, and…

My Second Dream Dinners Experience and Other Things

I returned to Dream Dinners last Saturday. This trip was just to prepare another 3 6-serving Mango Chutney Chicken dinners. I walked in a few minutes before 9 AM, and immediately found my paperwork, tagged a drawer and cooler slot with my name, stowed my purse, and got to work. I tossed on an apron, washed my hands, grabbed Ziploc bags, and jumped into preparing the sauce. I started preparing just 1 sauce bag at a time, but 2 ingredients into that, and I realized that I could simplify and just prepare all 3 at once. Obviously, I'd not consumed enough coffee yet! I was in and out of there by 9:15 AM.

I finally prepared the Chicken Teriyaki that I'd frozen a few months ago. I tossed it in the crock pot on Saturday, but proceeded to not eat it then. When Mac came home from the gun show, he wasn't really hungry, and we were in a hurry to get to the baseball game.

He tried it for lunch yesterday, and inquired, "What happened to the rice?" I didn't prepare it on S…

Ethnic Foods

While Mac was in Saudi Arabia, I promised him that I'd cook halupki for him. That still hasn't happened, because I've just not found the time. So, while I'd prefer to take a nap this afternoon, I'm going to cook halupki instead. In case you aren't familiar with halupki, it's also known as stuffed cabbage. Amazingly delicious, incredibly yummy, and wonderful comfort food. I'm hoping to have enough cabbage and meat to make 2 trays, so I can freeze 1 set and then bake those in the crock pot later.

While I love halupki, it seems to take ages to prepare them, and I hate that part.

This is why I LOVE Kimpton!!!

I called Kimpton Hotels today and inquired about a status match to Inner Circle. They asked that I email proof of status elsewhere, so I did. I sent that email at 9:52 AM. By 12:05 PM, they replied, with an email welcoming me to Inner Circle. A few minutes after that, I received an email from one of their employees, inquiring about my preferences as far as snacks and drinks!!!

*sigh* I so love how much they cater to their guests!!!

busy week

This week has been very busy, and I've not cooked at all! Well, I take that back. I have cooked, just not for us. Monday night, we had a baseball game. Tuesday, we had a mystery shop and checked out a house we wanted to see. Yesterday, I cooked lunch for my Toastmasters meeting today. That meant that dinner last night was pizza. Tonight, I'm cooking the Chicken Yakitori that has been in the fridge, thawed, since last week.

I offered to cook lunch for Toastmasters. It's my last Toastmasters meeting, as I'm resigning as of June 30. We're having a celebration of the club's achievements throughout the last year, so we're having cake for dessert. Lunch is: meat lasagna, veggie lasagna, and chicken and spinach lasagna. I prepared all of them in crock pots last night, and a friend who is also in Toastmasters, was going to bring them to the meeting today, after cooking them this morning. Oh, we also have Caesar salad as well.

Mac and I were supposed to have chocola…

Dream Dinners Meal 2--Pulled Pork BBQ Sandwiches

Yesterday's dinner was Pulled Pork BBQ Sandwiches. Mac was in charge of cooking this dinner. He took a half day from work, since we were going to the Pirates vs. Orioles game last night. Since he was home early, he started the meal while I was on my way home.

We had a few issues with this meal, and because we were in a hurry, I failed to take photos of if.

Issue 1: The pulled pork took longer to heat than what the directions said, to the point that I became impatient, and simply turned the burner up quite a bit. :-)

Issue 2: Mac was not happy with the directions to toast the rolls, as they read, "Toast rolls under broiler, open side up, until golden brown," but failed to give a suggested amount of time. To correct this problem, I used a trick I learned as a child, from my mother. I scraped the burned areas off with a butter knife. :-)

Issue 3: The pulled pork wasn't anything different from the pre-cooked pulled pork that you can buy at grocery stores, like Lloyd's o…

Phone call from Dream Dinners

I received a phone call from my local Dream Dinners location yesterday. They were following up with me to see how the visit went, and if I had any questions. They also wanted to see if I'd prepared any of the meals, and if I had, how I enjoyed them. I'm going to go back there next Saturday to prepare at least 3 additional portions of Mango Chutney Chicken. I'll freeze those, and prepare them in the upcoming months. I may add additional meals to that, depending on what else I try before then, and if I think any others are as enjoyable.
I'd also asked the question of if I would be able to buy an extra defrost bin, and I'm not able to do that, due to sales tax issues or some such. I thought perhaps they'd just offer to give me a second one, as a gesture of goodwill, but no such luck. :-( It's not a huge issue, and it's certainly not a reason not to frequent them, but a mild disappointment, I guess.

Mango Chutney Chicken Dream Dinner

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Tonight's dinner was Mango Chutney Chicken served over Jasmine Rice from Dream Dinners. Wow, was it yummy and easy to prepare! I started it around 4:45, and it was ready by 5:15. I even had time to prepare the Pineapple Upside Down Cake that was a surprise "thank you," for our first visit! I followed the directions, and started with the rice. I actually started that before taking the dogs out, since the directions said to start that, allow it to boil, then simmer for 20-25 minutes.Once we came back inside, I started the chicken. The instructions said to add 2 tablespoons of olive oil to a pan, and then to brown both sides of the chicken. I didn't measure the oil, but rather, just coated the bottom of the pan. Probably a bit messy, and probably a bit extra oil, but it worked.
Once the chicken was browned, I added the sauce mixture, and allowed it to cook on medium heat for several minutes. I cooked off a bit of the liquid, and allowed the sauce mixture to thicken a bi…

It's only Monday, and plans have already changed...

It's only Monday, but plans have already changed, at least slightly. I think tomorrow, we're going to meet up with friends from FlyerTalk, for a mini-DO. While it's still in the planning stages, I don't know if I'll cook, or if we'll end up eating over drinks. I'm really excited to try the Mango Chutney Chicken, so I may cook that before the mini-DO, so we'll at least have lunch for the week. I should clarify that and say that at least I'll have lunch for the week. Mac has sandwiches and my leftovers from Saturday's lunch for lunch for Tuesday and Wednesday. Since he's leaving early on Thursday, he'll eat lunch once he's home.
Wednesday, we're going to go to dinner with Tiffany and her boyfriend. While Mac was in Saudi Arabia, they took care of the yard for me, and helped me move our new living room furniture, so at a minimum, we owe them dinner.
I think I'll move the Chicken Yakitori to dinner on Sunday. Hmm, decisions, deci…

One of those nights...

Of course, I can't seem to relax tonight. I have to head into work early tomorrow morning, because I have a ton of stuff due this week, including a placemat that requires using InDesign to edit. That's a bit of a challenge since I've not used it much, but I'll knock it out first thing tomorrow morning. Mac is asleep, as are the dogs, and of course, I can't relax enough to sleep! Geno just sighed and stretched out a bit more. He's now touching my foot. So cute! I'm watching Madagascar 2: Escape 2 Africa. I've not seen it before, and it's over in 10 minutes. Seems cute enough, even if I didn't see the beginning of it.
Since the movie is now over, I'm watching the Cincy-Detroit game. I'm hoping Detroit can rally back. Although, since Cincy just hit  a home run, I'm guessing that won't happen. I'm thinking I may finally be close to heading to bed, so perhaps I won't see the end of the game. I can hope anyway!

Random Thoughts

Mac went back to the gun show today, and I drove down to Hagerstown to participate in a rescue transport. Another woman and I drove 7 dogs to Harrisburg, on their way to rescues, foster homes, and forever homes. I drove the 4 big dogs, Olivia, Alex, Astro, and Mustang. Olivia was the smallest, at about 25 pounds. Astro and Mustang were the largest, both at about 50 pounds. Alex was in between, at probably 40 pounds or so. All were very sweet, and all slept for most of the journey. On the drive, I was trying to remember how many dogs I've helped to move, and I think it's at 19 right now. It'll increase I'm sure, although I'm taking next weekend off from transports. My two pups need some Mommy time on the weekend.
Mac is asleep, as are the dogs. Cobaka is sprawled out on top of my body pillow and the blankets, while Geno is sprawled at the foot of the bed, with his front paws hanging off of the edge of the bed. They both look so sweet and cute, and content. I'm s…

Dream Dinners for the upcoming week

Mac and I selected our Dream Dinners for the week. We're eating at the game tomorrow night, since it's Dollar Dog Night. I figured that we'll start with dinners for Tuesday, Wednesday, and Thursday. Friday night, we're dining out with several other couples. Well, we're grilling out at a friend's house.
Dinner for the week:
Tuesday--Mango Chutney Chicken
Wednesday--Chicken Yakitori
Thursday--Pork BBQ Sandwiches
Friday--standard cookout food
Mac is going to prepare Thursday's meal, so we'll see how that goes.
The Chicken Yakitori was my free Chef's Touched entree. I wasn't given much time to browse or read instructions or ingredients, so we'll see how it tastes.

Eat Now, Eat Later, Meal 2

Mac and I were out until almost midnight on Friday, doing a dog transport. It ran over 2 hours late, closer to 2 hours 30 minutes late. We drove to Bel Air, MD, near where we were supposed to pick up the senior pups we were transporting, and stopped for dinner. We wanted something different, not the same old restaurants we have here. As such, we found Famous Dave's BBQ, which was very good. When we did finally get home, we decompressed for a bit before bed, and we both were up around 6:30 to head to our activities. Mac headed to the gun show, I headed to Dream Dinners. I came home about an hour before he did, which was just enough time to stow everything in the freezer, and then get last night's dinner in the oven.
I opted to try the Brushetta Chicken Bake last night, in part because I didn't want to store the box of stuffing mix much longer! Tiffany had tried her Brushetta Chicken Bake earlier in the week, and shared a few words of advice, including not to add as much wat…

A Dream Dinners Experience

Tiffany (a friend of mine) and I had our first Dream Dinners experience today. We arrived a few minutes late, so most of the others had already jumped into preparing their meals. We were also the only "new" customers, so it was probably better we were there a few minutes late if we weren't going to be early.
We were welcomed, and one of the employees explained about where we'd find our recipe packets, and also where to stash our purses. We were encouraged to each select a shelf in the cooler, and then we were walked over to the aprons and sink. From there, the employee walked us through the first recipe. It was fairly easy, and I loved that they have containers for the bags. You open the bag, place it into a container, and fold down the edges, so that if you splash on the edges, it simply goes into the inside of the bag.
The first recipe was Pulled Pork BBQ sandwiches. The recipes are displayed with little stands, and in addition to having the amount of each ingredie…

Day before Dream Dinners

Yesterday, I received a nice call from one of the employees at the Dream Dinners location, confirming our visit, and asking if we had any questions. I've done my best to make space in my freezer, although after my wild dash through this morning, trying to find the elk meat, I need to rearrange it. I also have my coworker's phone number, so if I still don't have enough room, she'll meet me to pick up additional elk meat. I really do see that a chest freezer is a necessity if I keep doing this.
I've reviewed the July menu, and Mac has voiced his opinion on it as well. As such, I have our selections ready to order at tomorrow's session. I've decided that I'll give this at least two months to see how we enjoy it. I've also figured that if I don't care for a recipe, I'll still have time to tweak it during the month and try a different version of it.
Since I'm at a conference for a weekend in July, I may order one or two meals that I won't…

Dream Dinners--Before My Visit

A friend and I are going to try Dream Dinners this Saturday. We're splitting the 72 servings, and will each also receive a free 3 serving chef touched item. My selections are:
Lemon Chicken Piccata with FettuccinePulled Pork BBQ Sandwich with French RollsMango Chutney Chicken with Jasmine RiceWhite Chicken LasagnaSummertime Pasta with ChickenOutlaw Chicken Sliders I figure that the chicken sliders and the pulled pork sandwiches are, at a minimum, a good go-to lunch for Mac, when we don't have leftovers, or when I want to take leftovers and he doesn't.
While Dream Dinners seems a bit more expensive than doing all of the work myself, it works out to less than $5/serving. Adding in the extra meal brings it down to under $4/serving.
I am still cleaning out my freezer to make room for all of this. I'm giving some of my FIL's elk to a coworker since she'll use it, and it means it's less that I have to store. She loves it, so I figure I’m sharing the wealth!
If thi…

First taste of pre-prepared "homemade" meals

I tried a "once-a-week" cooking session earlier this week. It's called "Eat Now, Eat Later." I'd snagged a Groupon for a 3 meal session, and opted to buy an extra 2 meals. A friend attended with me, and because I told a friend about it, we each received a coupon for 1 free meal when we buy 2 for our next session.
The 5 meals I prepared were:
Texas Style CasseroleBrushetta Chicken BakePasta Kielbasa Peppers and OnionsMexican Beef w/Corn DumplingsRigatoni w/Sausage and Kale I opted to keep 2 of the meals in the fridge and the others are now frozen. We went to a baseball game last night, so a speedy dinner was important, since the game started at 6:30.
Mac wasn't thrilled with the first meal, but we both agreed that with some tweaks, it had potential. It was "Texas Style Casserole," and included hash browns, egg, turkey sausage, corn, and cheese. I'll try it again, but this time will use shredded hash browns, rather than crumbled hash brown p…

experiences in once a month cooking

In the past few months, I've been really tracking our expenses, and I've noticed that because we eat out quite a bit, we're spending a LOT of money on food. Some of the dinners out are for mystery shops, while others are simply because I'm tired after work and don't want to deal with cooking. Mac usually wants to eat when he gets home, while I'd prefer to take some time to relax before cooking. I usually get home an hour before Mac, so even if I relax for 15 minutes after taking the dogs outside, I'm still only half an hour into cooking when Mac gets home. This means that if I do cook, we often don't eat until 7 or 8 PM.
We were in the car one weekend, and they were discussing once a month cooking on the radio. I did some research, and discovered that basically, once a month cooking isn't really where you cook everything once a month and then simply reheat it. Rather, it's where you do all of the prep work, divide things into gallon Ziploc bags,…