Posts

Showing posts from 2013

Secret Clinical Strength Review

Disclaimer: I received free samples of Secret Clinical Strength to review, but I was provided with no compensation for this review. All opinions are mine.I hosted a House Party for new Secret Clinical Strength, and as part of that, tried the gel version. I've not yet tried the solid version, although I have a sample of that as well. I was prepared to hate this. I've never had much luck with Secret products, and I figured this was going to be similar. I expected it to not work well.I was wrong!!! I LOVE this! It is amazing, and it is supposed to work for up to 48 hours. I shower every day, so I've not tried it for 48 hours, but for 24, it keeps me dry and odor-free. I will definitely buy this when it hits the market in January 2014! It has a pleasant scent, isn't sticky, like a lot of gels are, and is great!

Weight Loss

Since the end of August, I've really been trying to follow Weight Watchers online. I've had some rough weekends, but lately, have been pretty good about sticking to it. Weekends have always been tough, because I don't have a set plan and schedule most weekends, but trying to empty out the freezer has helped, because I know the nutritional information for my Dream Dinners meals.I'd set an unofficial goal of wanting to lose 20 pounds by the middle of October, and assuming I can keep at it, I only need to lose another 2.4 pounds to hit that. I'm hoping that I can then lose another 10 pounds by the end of the year! I'd love to start next year a few sizes and 30 pounds down!I wanted to share this somewhere, so why not here?!?

Dream Dinners Review - Chicken Parmesan with Garlic Bread

Yesterday was a hellish day, between a lot of things at work, plus 4 different phone calls with the vet. We think Geno has another UTI, and I'd made an appointment with the vet tech for Friday to get a specimen, only to realize that I needed to reschedule. I moved the appointment to last night, which resulted in a phone call from one of the employees to let me know that our regular vet was out of town, and to reassure me about the fill-in vet. I inquired a bit and balked, because well, Geno doesn't do well with new people, and she called me back to reassure me about the vet's qualifications. In the end, we didn't even see the vet, and we won't know until Friday or Saturday if he has a UTI. We go back to the vet on the 9th, so if nothing else, we'll see our normal vet then."As I'd thought I'd be home to make dinner, I'd planned on cooking the Dream Dinners Pub Style Chicken with Mashed Potatoes. I was in the mood for comfort food after a rough w…

Dream Dinners Review - Fully Loaded Chicken & Potato Soup with Breadsticks

For dinner on Wednesday, we tried the Dream Dinners Fully Loaded Chicken & Potato Soup with Breadsticks. This week has been crazy at work, and looking at the cooking instructions, I knew the soup wouldn’t take long to prepare. I simply preheated the oven to bake the breadsticks, heated the bacon until it was crisp, tossed the soup base (mashed potatoes and other yummy things) into a stock pot, allowed that to boil, then added the chicken and potatoes and allowed those to heat. Once it was ready, I topped it with cheese and bacon, and dinner was served!I did add some black pepper to the soup as it was cooking, and Mac added a bit more once he’d tasted it. This was great comfort food, and it was so easy to prepare! I’m hoping this makes it back to the menu in December or January, so I can pick up a few orders of it. It would be great for a snowy day, especially if I had time to allow it to simmer for a while.Dinner last night was the Old Fashioned Meatloaf with Twice Baked Potatoes.…

Dream Dinners Test Recipe--Sicilian Cheese Stuffed Turkey Burgers

My test recipe was the Sicilian Cheese Stuffed Turkey Burgers, served on pretzel rolls. I prepared this for dinner last night, and took the requested survey after we cleaned up from dinner, so that everything was fresh in my mind. Mac and I were underwhelmed, and without changes, wouldn't order this as it currently is prepared.Preparation: The ground turkey was actually individual patties, but when it thawed, they congealed together. This worked just fine, I guess, except that it was rather messy, because I needed to place the meat and spice mixture into a bowl, mix it, then form patties, add the cheese, reform patties, and then cook the burgers. While I realize it would take a bit of time at the store, I'd rather bag each patty individually, add the spices and cheese, and then be able to mix that patty in the bag, so I'd not need a mixing bowl. I'd also not get cheese all over, trying to stuff it into patties. When mixing and forming the patties, my hands became cover…

September Dream Dinners Session

Mac came with me to my Dream Dinners session on Friday. We had other errands to run out that way, so he agreed to join me. We arrived at 9 AM, which was the start time for the flex session. Mac jumped into preparing the Cattleman's Pie, while I prepared the Crispy French Onion Chicken. As we discussed later, we should have swapped meals!While we were preparing the cooking instructions cards and getting our drawer and freezer space, I was asked if I wanted to try a test recipe. Mac agreed that we should try it, so that was placed on our shelf. I won't spill on that quite yet, as I'll wait until we try it! I love the test recipes, as they are so unexpected, and it really made my day! We'll have that next week, once Mac is back in town.Preparing the meals was easy, as usual, and the session wasn't very busy, so it was nice. Mac and I could work together to prepare the meals. I love that he'll be working on assembling part of a recipe while I'll be working on a…

Balancing Volunteer Hours and Working Hours

I've been volunteering with an organization for years, and have enjoyed it quite a bit, although at times, my volunteer and work activities seem to clash. I've been swamped at work. I've been working overtime and on weekends, and quite frankly, am looking forward to only having two rescue transports, a wine tasting and pig roast, rehearsal for Eastern Star, and lunch with a friend this weekend. I should add that I'm taking Friday off, as I needed to try to squeeze in Dream Dinners at some point and I simply could not find the time in the next week or so to do that without taking Friday off from work!I'd expressed my schedule to those in charge at the volunteer organization, and had been assured that they understood that work was my first priority. Unfortunately, no one there seems to recognize this, as they keep asking me to do things, and then only after I've completed it and pointed out that I've been swamped, have I received the response of, "Oh, we…

Dream Dinners Asian Barbecue Braised Ribs

I decided to try the Dream Dinners Asian Barbecue Braised Ribs for dinner on Thursday. They were easy to prepare, as I simply placed them on foil, doused them with pineapple juice, foiled the foil over, and then baked them for a while. After baking them for 50 minutes, I removed them from the oven, opened the foil, and added the sauce, then allowed them to broil for a few minutes.The result was lousy. The sauce was very odd, did not go well with the pineapple flavor, and was in no way, shape, or form, reminiscent of barbecue. As I took care of ordering pizza for dinner, Mac deboned the ribs, rinsed off the sauce, and packed them in a storage container. We're hoping that we can add some standard BBQ sauce and salvage them for dinner tonight.

TODAY Show video clip

Check out 2:25, you can see portions of me playing with big Cole. :) http://www.today.com/id/49063771/ns/today-video/#52936216

Plated.com

I stumbled onto plated.com, a website that offers a service very similar to Dream Dinners, except that it's a weekly menu, and rather than have to go to a store, they ship the food directly to you. It does cost more per serving, but because I found a promo code, I figured I'd try it. I do like that the price/serving is the same, whether you order chicken, shrimp, fish, or steak. I ordered four plates of shrimp tacos with grilled Mexican corn. My order should arrive next Tuesday, and I think I'm simply going to cook it for dinner Tuesday night.Should you want to try it, you can use my referral link https://www.plated.com/invites/c7178b to receive 2 free plates (pay $10 for shipping), and you can try to stack it with the promo code of FIRSTPLATED for 4 free plates.

Dream Dinners Review--Rio Grande Chicken Fajitas

I'll admit, when preparing the Rio Grande Chicken Fajitas at Dream Dinners, I was a bit annoyed by the directions. I was instructed to mix a marinade, and then pour half of it into a Ziploc bag with the chicken, and the other half into a bag with the peppers and onions. I can about guarantee that one bag had more than the other. I'd have preferred that I mix 2 batches of the marinade, or that all of the marinade go with the chicken, as the peppers and onions, when thawed, don't really need a lot of extra liquid.In cooking these, I appreciated that it only required one pan, plus baking the foil wrapped tortillas. I also appreciated that the number of tortilla made sense. I may have added extra chicken to each tortilla, but it seemed like there was far less chicken than what was needed for all of the tortillas. That said, next time, I'll cook some refried beans and some rice as well, and that will stretch the chicken.Mac and I both really enjoyed this meal although it wa…

Dream Dinners November Order

In light of it now being September, I’m trying to finalize my November Dream Dinners order as well. My order for November (although I don’t have a date set yet), and the WW points: Meatloaf Milano with Mashed Potatoes—13 WW points Sherry Cream Chicken—6 WW points Creamy Chicken Chipotle Ravioli—13 WW points Kentucky Pork Chops—6 WW points Outlaw Chicken Marinara—14 WW points French Tarragon Chicken with Redskin Potatoes—7 WW points Chicken and Pasta with Lemon & Artichoke Sauce—13 WW points Baked Potato Chicken (I’m ordering two of this, so I can try it with the different cheeses)—10 WW points Fiesta Fajita Shredded Beef with Tortillas (1 tortilla)—11 WW points

Dream Dinners October Order

I just placed my October Dream Dinners order. I feel all out of sorts, as I usually have my monthly order placed two months in advance! My order for October, and the WW points: Chicken with Honey, Garlic, & Orange—5 WW points Parmesan Herb Crusted Chicken—5 WW pointsCheddar Filled Mini Meatloaves with Potato Pancakes—15 WW pointsLayered Ravioli Bake—12 WW pointsTerracotta Chicken with Pita & Hummus—10 WW pointsCreamy Chicken Florentine Tortellini—11 WW pointsChicken Bacon Ranch Stuffed French Bread—12 WW pointsChopstick Chicken with Peanut Sauce over Rice—11 WW pointsThe Chopstick Chicken is for Mac for one evening when I have a dinner appointment or some such.

TODAY Show, Weekend Edition

In June 2012, a crew from the TODAY Show filmed a two-day rescue transport for which Mac and I drove one leg. I’ve not seen the segment, so I don’t know if we’ll be in any of the footage that airs, but it airs on Saturday, September 7th.

Have you ever had one of those days???

Where it seemed that everything that could go wrong did? That describes my day yesterday. I broke the dryer in multiple ways--I dropped the lint basket behind the dryer, and in trying to retrieve it, pulled the vent tube away from the vent area in the wall, dented the tube, and then in trying to reattach everything, pulled it away from the dryer too. Then, in sliding the dryer back in place, I broke the dryer door latch. I then made the mistake of cooking dinner, which was really lousy. So, I cooked something else, and overcooked that dinner.I opted for bed before I could ruin anything else yesterday.I guess the positives in all of this are: We've now cleaned out the vent portion of the dryer, which we should do occasionally.I have a reason not to deal with laundry until we get the door latchI ate less than I would've had dinner been wonderful.

Dream Dinners Review - Buffalo Ranch Chicken Burgers

I cooked the Buffalo Ranch Chicken Burgers the other night, and semi-followed the directions. We don't have a grill, other than our Foreman grill, so I tossed them in the skillet, and then once they were cooked, broiled them a bit to melt the cheese. I heated the rolls in the oven, although they didn't get too hot. I served this with the seasoned onion rings from the Finishing Touch Freezer.The sandwiches were good, and were very filling, although Mac and I both found the buffalo flavor a bit milder than we'd like. I ordered two portions of this, so for the next order, I'll probably add some extra buffalo sauce. I'll also pick up some lettuce and red onions before we cook the next portion, as I think the sandwiches really would have been more enjoyable with a topping or two like that.

Do Not Overtorque Lug Nuts!!!

A few months ago, I took my car to Monro for an oil change, tire rotation, and flat tire fix. It was simple enough, or so I thought.On Friday, Mac and I were out and about, stopping at Costco, September Farm Cheese, and Dream Dinners. At Costco, Mac ventured out to the car while I completed a comment card about their switch to Pepsi at their snack bar. As I walked out of the store, he was backing the Jeep out of our parking spot. While he was doing that, I heard a pop, and figured it was simply the suspension, so I didn't mention it to him. He heard the same thing at September Farm Cheese while backing out, but he too thought it was the suspension, and didn't mention it to me.On Saturday, we dashed out to run a few errands, including picking up beer and dog food. We were headed out to the sportsmen's club for their annual corn roast, and then Mac was going to camp there, while I continued home with the dogs to visit with my parents. As we were headed back home after our la…

Dream Dinners Review - Cheesy Bacon Quesadillas with Mexican Rice

When preparing the Cheesy Bacon Quesadillas at Dream Dinners, I was slightly confused, as the directions indicated that I should roll them. I thought I'd probably fold them in half, or just place the filling on top of a tortilla, then cover it with another tortilla.In cooking these, I followed the directions to "fry" them in a skillet, although because they were semi-round, it was difficult to cook them on all sides. Also, the rice took far longer than the quesadillas, so in the future, I'll wait until the rice is cooked before starting on the quesadillas, or at least until it's almost fully-cooked.The quesadillas were very flavorful, and who can go wrong with bacon? I'd have preferred a bit more cheese, but overall, they had a nice flavor, with a hint of spice. I will definitely order these again.

Dream Dinners Review - Sweet Cider BBQ Chicken

When I placed my July order, and added 2 extra 6-servings to it, I opted to add an extra 6-serving of the Sweet Cider BBQ Chicken. It sounded like we'd enjoy it, but when I prepared the first 6-serving, we realized that it is not all we thought it would be.The sauce had far too much of a ginger and bitter taste for my enjoyment, and Mac, who enjoys ginger, did not care for it either. I was disappointed in the flavor, as there was not a BBQ flavor, but rather a bitter, ginger and ketchup flavor to the sauce.I will not order the Sweet Cider BBQ Chicken again, and it serves as a reminder that unless I'm positive we'll enjoy something, I should stick to ordering 1 6-serving of it.

Dream Dinners Review - Crispy Coconut Chicken with Jasmine Rice

On Saturday, Mac and Seth went to the range for a few hours while I cleaned and cooked dinner. I also had a quick grocery shopping trip so we could enjoy dessert as well. I prepared the Dream Dinners Crispy Coconut Chicken with Jasmine Rice, along with a side of mixed veggies, salad, and apple pie for dessert.The Crispy Coconut Chicken was extremely easy to prepare, as I simply tossed each piece of chicken into the Ziploc bag with the coconut and panko bread crumbs, shook the bag, and then removed the chicken from the bag. I placed it onto a cookie sheet that I'd covered with aluminum foil and sprayed with non-stick cooking spray. Once I'd added all six pieces of chicken, I topped it with the extra coconut and bread crumbs. I baked it for 15 minutes, while the apple pie was baking, and cooked the rice and veggies.Mac and I really enjoyed the chicken, and Seth was impressed with it. I'd mentioned the concept of Dream Dinners to Seth and his wife before, so perhaps now that …

Vacation Plans--Roll with the Punches or Change the Plans?

I really always try to just roll with the punches and not worry about if plans change. It’s not always easy, but I try. Mac and I have been planning a hunting trip to Wyoming. I’ve not had a real vacation from work in a few years, and I was definitely looking forward to having some time off of work and being disconnected from a computer and cell phone out in the wilds of Wyoming.
Mac and his father go every year, driving out and back, and this year, I was going to fly out and join them, before driving back across the country with Mac. I was doing this to save a bit of vacation time. They were going to take separate vehicles, but follow each other. My parents were going to watch the kibblers, as that would save us the cost of boarding them, and I trust my parents to take good care of them.
Last night, Mac talks to my FIL about the trip, and my FIL says, “Financially, it makes more sense for you to ride out to Wyoming with me, and for Wendy to fly out and back.” As the story continues,…

Dream Dinners September Order

I'm very excited about the September Dream Dinners menu! It features the return of many of my favorites, including the return of Crispy French Onion Chicken, Cattleman's Pie, and Santa Fe Shredded Pork Burritos. It also includes Old Fashioned Meatloaf with Twice Baked Potatoes, Chicken Parmesan, with Garlic Bread, Fully Loaded Chicken and Potato Soup with Bread Sticks, and Colorado Beef Roast.
My order, and the WW PointsPlus values are below:
Crispy French Onion Chicken--6 pointsOld Fashioned Meatloaf with Twice Baked Potatoes--8 pointsChicken Parmesan with Garlic Bread--14 pointsChicken Enchiladas--8 pointsCattleman's Pie--10 pointsSanta Fe Shredded Pork Burritos--8 pointsFully Loaded Chicken and Potato Soup with Bread Sicks--17 pointsPesto Cheese Ravioli with Chicken and Walnuts--11 pointsColorado Beef Roast--6 points

Dream Dinners Review - Crispy Salsa Ranch Chicken

I prepared the Dream Dinners Crispy Salsa Ranch Chicken for dinner last night. I was going to prepare it for dinner on Friday, but then decided I wanted BBQ, so it was tabled until yesterday. When I came home from work, Mac was napping, but woke up when the dogs let him know that I was home. I asked if he wanted dinner within half an hour or if he wanted to wait a while. He opted for dinner within half an hour, so I went to work cooking dinner. :) I served the Crispy Salsa Ranch Chicken with broccoli and cauliflower and southwestern style rice with peppers and onions.It was very easy to prepare. I simply lined a cookie sheet with foil, sprayed it with non-stick cooking spray, then placed the chicken tenders on the cookie sheet and covered them with the tortilla chips, cheese, and spices. I then baked it for 15 minutes, and while it was cooking, prepared a Caesar salad and heated the veggies and rice in the microwave.I didn't enjoy this quite as much as the BBQ Chip Chicken Tenders…

Weekend Adventures

We had an adventure packed weekend. I worked a bit late on Friday, so when I got home, I immediately started lunch. We had knishes that we picked up when we were last at Costco. They were very good, although they'd have been better with sauerkraut. I napped after lunch, while Mac cut the grass. I wanted to go to a semi-local BBQ restaurant, but by the time Mac showered and was ready to go, we wouldn't have made it there until after they closed. So, instead, we hit our local Qdoba, and then did a bit of grocery shopping. Mac always teases me about my choices for veggies for dinners, so I left it up to him to select veggies!On Saturday, we were going to have the Dream Dinners Crispy Salsa Ranch Chicken for dinner, but I had a few mystery shops to do, so we decided to push those until later in the day, and then check out a different BBQ restaurant for dinner. The BBQ restaurant was very good, and their dry rub was incredible, but neither Mac nor I were enamored with their sauces.…

Sisters: A Lifetime Bond, Even as Polar Opposites

Another Yahoo article, this one about how I love my sister. We may not always agree, but I do love her.

Dream Dinners Review - Canadian Bacon Stuffed French Bread

Mac and I prepared the Dream Dinners Canadian Bacon Stuffed French Bread for dinner last night. I used the programmed bake feature on my stove, so that it cooked it while we were on our way home. This was the first I've tried that, and I was a bit nervous. It worked well, other than we were delayed about 10 minutes in getting home, so it wasn't quite as hot as I'd hoped. It was very enjoyable, especially the butter and cream cheese spread. To me, the sausage distracted from the taste, so next time, I'd probably omit the sausage, and perhaps ask about adding extra Canadian bacon and/or cream cheese spread. I would have liked to have added the cream cheese spread to both sides of the bread. Mac was also very thrilled with it, and we'll definitely order it again, sans sausage.

Dream Dinners Review - Charhouse Chicken Sandwich on a Pretzel Bun

I had my July Dream Dinners session on Saturday, and even though everything fit in my freezer, I decided I'd pull out a few meals: Charhouse Chicken Sandwich on a Pretzel Bun, Grilled Bruschetta Chicken, and Canadian Bacon Stuffed French Bread. We cooked the Charhouse Chicken Sandwiches for dinner on Saturday. We knew we didn't need leftovers for his lunches for the early part of the week, so sandwiches made sense. I opted to broil them, so it didn't take long at all to cook them. I topped them with the cheese blend, allowed it to melt, and then served them. I liked that the pretzel rolls were pre-sliced, as I didn't need to fuss with that. The mayo was very similar to the sauce for the Outlaw Chicken Sliders. It may be the same sauce, although the menu didn't specify that it was the same.Neither Mac nor I really was thrilled with this meal, in part because the sauce was too much like the sauce for the Outlaw Chicken Sliders. I think this could have been improved b…

Dream Dinners Review - Savory Grilled Chicken with Sesame Honey Butter

I prepared the Savory Grilled Chicken with Sesame Honey Butter last week, and it was uninspiring. I didn't care for the taste at all, and Mac was less than impressed with it. I think it was too bland for his tastes. He did eat the rest of it for lunch and dinner later in the week, but really, I think that's only because he hates to see food go to waste! This is one of those meals where I'm not too upset that we ordered it, but we definitely won't order it again!

Dream Dinners Review--Slow Cooked BBQ Pork Loin

Since we were out for much of the day, I figured yesterday was a good day for the Dream Dinners Slow Cooked BBQ Pork Loin. I followed the directions, cutting it into pieces and searing it, then placing it into the crock pot. I cooked it on low while we were out, and when we arrived home, the house smelled lovely.

I served it with rice and broccoli, although when we packaged up the leftovers, we packaged up the broccoli separately, and used the corn from lunch as the vegetable for our lunches. We'll use the broccoli as our vegetable for lunch tomorrow.

The pork was extremely tender, and was falling apart as I removed it from the crock pot. Mac was not impressed, as he said it tasted too much like pot roast. To me, the sauce had far too much of a tomato flavor and not enough of a BBQ flavor. Had the sauce been a straight BBQ sauce, I'd probably have been raving about how it was a great pulled pork meal. We won't order this again.

In other news, I did increase my Dream Dinner…

Weekend Adventures

We had a fairly crazy weekend. On Saturday, I monitored a rescue transport, which went well. Mac and I went grocery shopping, and tried out a restaurant a bit south of us. It specializes in pit beef, ham, turkey, and pulled pork. It was good, but it was rather expensive. There's another "smokehouse" that's on the way from the vet, and it's about the same distance. We decided that we prefer that one. When we did our grocery shopping, the cashier didn't scan 2 coupons, so I had to visit the customer service desk to receive those.

Today, I monitored the second day of the transport, and drove the next to last leg of it. There were no problems, except on our leg, when one of the three dogs decided she wanted to chew anything--her leash, her harness, another dog's collar or leash, or another dog's leg!

We took Cobaka and Geno to our local dog park this morning. They enjoyed running around, and Cobaka especially enjoyed frolicking with another dog who arrive…

Dream Dinners Review - BBQ Chip Chicken Tenders with Dipping Sauce

I didn't get home from Miami until 7:30 on Sunday evening, and then we stopped for dinner, so I really didn't get home until after 10 PM. I was too tired to consider pulling out anything for dinner on Monday. On Monday morning, before I left to head in to work, I grabbed the BBQ Chip Chicken Tenders with Dipping Sauce and left that in the sink to thaw.

When Mac was on his way home from work, he asked what I wanted him to pull out to thaw, and I mentioned that I already had dinner thawing. When I let him know once I was headed home, he looked at the directions and turned the oven to the right temperature to preheat.

I came home and, after reading the directions, noticed that it said to place the BBQ chips on a plate and then place each chicken tender on there, coating each with chips. I opted for a slightly different method, dumping the chips into a gallon-size Ziploc bag, adding the tenders, and shaking. It worked, and it kept us from having an extra plate to wash!

This was v…

Dream Dinners Review - Savannah Grill Chicken With Sweet Potato Fries

Last week was rather crazy for me. I had a few deadlines at work and then I also had to prepare for the Dress for Success Professional Women's Group Success Summit. That was this past weekend, in Miami. We stayed at EPIC - A Kimpton Hotel, and it was amazing!

Due to how crazy my week was going to be, I opted for very quick and easy meals last week for dinner. One of those was the Savannah Grill Chicken with Sweet Potato Fries. Mac is not a fan of sweet potatoes, so I knew the fries might not appeal to him, but I figured we'd try the chicken anyway.

It was very easy to prepare, as I simply cooked the chicken in a skillet, then added the sauce, and baked the fries. I really enjoyed the flavor of the chicken and sauce, and I didn't mind the sweet potato fries. Mac said the fries were edible, although we both found that they were more enjoyable if we added a bit of the sauce to them.

We did discuss that, with side items like that included with the entree, it would be nice if w…

Dream Dinners Guest Review--St. Louis Smokehouse Ribs & Seasoned Fries

At my last Dream Dinners visit, they were offering a special--one could buy a 3-serving of the St. Louis Smokehouse Ribs, Seasoned Fries, and Caramel Apple Blossoms for $25. They billed it as a father's day special I picked up one of those packages and took it home for my parents. My parents prepared the ribs and the fries a week or so ago, so my father typed up his opinions on the meal, and I'm sharing them here.

The ribs were good (with BBQ sauce).  The fries, not so much.  Had they been plain, they would have been decent french fries.  The seasoning actually detracted from the fries.  I kept waiting for some kind of flavor from the seasoning and there was nothing there.  You're better off buying a bag of seasoned fries from Wal-Mart (Great Value brand) and doing them.

Dream Dinners Review--Chicken Soft Tacos with Key Lime Corn

I prepared the Dream Dinners Chicken Soft Tacos with Key Lime Corn meal on Tuesday night. Monday night, we went out to dinner, and then headed to bed, because we were both exhausted. The chicken soft tacos were very easy to prepare. I simply cooked the chicken and carrots in a skillet, added the sauce, and then allowed most of it to cook off before serving. I heated the tortillas in the oven while that was cooking, and and sauteed the corn and sauce.

I served the corn on the tacos, and it gave it a very nice lime flavor. The carrots weren't noticeable, so if you have kids, it's a great way to sneak them into a meal. There were 8 tortillas in the foil packages, which just always strikes me as an odd number for a 6-serving meal. Mac took the leftovers for lunch the next day. We packaged it in the mini crock pot, and then he simply took the container and the tortillas. It was extremely enjoyable, and we'll definitely order it again.

Dream Dinners Review - California Chicken with Fettuccine

I prepared the California Chicken with Fettuccine the other week, and for some reason, I really thought we'd had this before, but I guess not. This was another easy to prepare meal, although it required two pans, one for the chicken, one for the fettuccine. I coated the chicken in flour, cooked it on both sides, then added the sauce, while the fettuccine was cooking. The sauce smelled amazing! It was very nice and very flavorful, and I really enjoyed the mushrooms. The sauce had a garlic cream smell and feel to it. I served it over the fettuccine, and it was a very nice combination.

I would definitely order this one again, as it was simple to prepare and very tasty.

Another Yahoo Article

Gettysburg Stories: John Pickel, from Chancellorsville to Gettysburg and Beyond

I guess I'm building up a decent portfolio of articles...


The Good, the Bad, and the Ugly of the Weekend

This was a crazy weekend for us. I worked late on Friday, as I had a submittal that had to go on Friday, via email. Mac was at the range when I got home, and we ate leftovers and napped quite a bit. I ate California Chicken with Fettuccine leftovers, and I guess I still owe a blog entry about that meal!

On Saturday, we both were up early and headed to the gun show. I was going to drop him off and head in to work, but he said, "Why don't you come with me, and we'll walk around and then leave after that?" So, we both went to the gun show. He found a steal of a deal--a No. 1 Mk. 5 Enfield in gorgeous condition (one of 20,000 ever produced) for $200. That was the good for Saturday.

The bad for Saturday was that as we were leaving, someone flagged us down and told us that we had a flat tire. The left rear tire was flat, and when we started to change it, well, let me clarify... When Mac started to change it, he discovered that one of the lug nuts was a larger size than th…

Dream Dinners June Experience

I had my Dream Dinners session last week. Again, I ordered 72 servings, so I had to finesse the freezer to get everything to fit. We were out in Pittsburgh last weekend, so I couldn't even leave a few entrees out to thaw and cook those over the weekend.

I did a Thursday evening flex-time session, and arrived right around 4:45. There was only one other customer there, and it stayed that way for much of my visit. I really enjoyed that, as I was able to breeze to/from the stations without waiting for anyone to finish until the last station.

I stopped at Costco quickly on my way home, as we needed Milk-Bones for Generalissimo Geno and Empress Cobaka (Geno thinks they're the greatest, so we like to keep a nice stockpile), and we needed a few other things.

I was still home by about 7 PM, which wasn't bad, considering that Costco ALWAYS has incredibly long lines.

Dream Dinners Review - Chicken Paella

Chicken Paella was the last May Dream Dinners meal for which I'd not written a review, and while I still have the Chicken with Honey, Garlic, and Orange in the freezer, I've previously reviewed that entree.

Preparing the Chicken Paella was extremely easy. I threw everything in a large skillet, added water, as directed, brought it to a boil, and then allowed it to simmer for 25 minutes. I really enjoyed this meal, as the garlic rice added a lot of flavor and aroma. Mac was not as thrilled with it, but I think one of his issues was that it didn't use Froehlich's kielbasa, so it was generic kielbasa. The meal smelled incredible! I should add that the house smelled incredible too!

I served it in a bowl, and didn't serve any sides, since we really didn't need a side with it. I brought leftovers in to work the next day, and raved to everyone about it.

Dream Dinners Review--Buffalo Chicken Cavatappi Pasta

I prepared the Buffalo Chicken Cavatappi Pasta from the May Dream Dinners menu recently, and yet again, it was a very easy to prepare meal. Boil water, heat the sauce in a sauce pan, add the chicken to cook while cooking the pasta, and then mix it all together. They suggest using one pan, but I opted for two. I also I served it with crescent rolls, so we had a bit of bread to sop up extra sauce.

It was a very unique twist on pasta and chicken, and definitely a welcome twist. It had a nice, mild buffalo flavor, along with a nice balance with the cheese. Because of the buffalo and cheese flavor, it was very unique and enjoyable. I would definitely order this again. The sauce was the perfect quantity, which was nice.

Time from start of cooking to dishing drying was less than an hour, which is always a plus for me!

White Shrine Issues

At the May meeting, there was a lot of drama over practicing the opening and closing for our Shrine. The friend that invited me to join was involved in this drama, and her role in it was used to remove her from her position as Worthy Herald. I agonized, prayed, meditated, and sought advice from those both inside and outside of Masonic orders on what I should do, as I felt loyalty to my friend, plus a sense of an injustice having been committed against her.

I posted in an off-topic section of FlyerTalk about the situation, so rather than retype everything, that post is below:
"It was the first meeting after their national convention, and we all heard about how we'd be doing things differently, and practicing the opening and closing ceremonies at each event, unlike the last year, where they never bothered with those. However, this was not conveyed prior to the meeting, and frustrated those who were supposed to start the closing ceremony. One of those involved was the woman who&…

Dream Dinners Review - French Tarragon Chicken with Redskin Potato Wedges

Wow, I'm slacking on updating this! I prepared the Dream Dinners French Tarragon Chicken with Redskin Potato Wedges last week. It was extremely enjoyable, and easy to prepare. I did need 2 cookie sheets for the potatoes, due to the quantity, but I also opted to cook all of them at once, rather than cooking what we'd need for dinner first and then cooking the others while we were eating dinner. Preparation directions involved cooking the chicken, then removing it to bring the sauce to a boil before adding the chicken back, all of this while the potatoes were baking in the oven.

Mac thought the sauce could have benefited from a bit more Dijon mustard flavor, and we found that the potatoes were even more enjoyable when we added a bit of sauce to them. I also added a bit of salt to the potatoes, as they had no seasoning when we baked them. The sauce was flavorful and was a nice consistency--thick, but not too thick.

I would definitely order this again, and would say it's in ou…

Dream Dinners Review - Southwest Pork Carnita Wraps with Chipotle Maple Corn

I cooked the Dream Dinners Southwest Pork Carnita Wraps with Chipotle Maple Corn last night. Well, Mac and I cooked it. I was so exhausted that I didn't want to move after I arrived home, and I was only prodded into moving when Mac started cooking everything!

Mac started by dumping the pork into a large skillet, and as he was struggling to get everything out of the Ziploc bag, I wandered into the kitchen and took over cooking the pork while he started on the rice. I squeezed the rest of the pork into the skillet, showing him how I did that. I then started on the corn.

Once everything was cooked, I microwaved the tortillas for 20 seconds or so, and then we were ready to eat. They were slightly messy, but very enjoyable. They had a nice flavor, and I commented to Mac that while he prefers green chiles, this was nice. I don't remember if I was only supposed to have one bag of Chipotle Maple Corn or two, but I only had one. I think that, when carrying everything over to place it…

August Dream Dinners Order

Yes, I know what I'm ordering in August... Is anyone surprised? We've tried a lot of them before, although there are a few new ones!

Pub Style Chicken with Mashed Potatoes 2 6-servings (11 points)Kentucky Pork Chops (6 points)Cola and Lime Tender Pork Roast (8 points)Simmered Chinese Chicken with Jasmine Rice 2 6-servings (8 points)Rio Grande Chicken Fajitas (6 points)Buffalo Ranch Chicken 2 6-servings (4 points)Asian Barbecue Braised Ribs (10 points)Turkey Florentine Burger on a Pretzel Bun (18 points--ouch!)Arroz Con Pollo (11 points)

July Dream Dinners Order

My July Dream Dinners order, along with Weight Watchers Points Plus values:

Outlaw Chicken Sliders (15 points)Canadian Bacon Stuffed French Bread (12 points) Sweet Cider BBQ Chicken (5 points)Crispy Coconut Chicken with Jasmine Rice (10 points)Cheesy Bacon Quesadillas with Mexican Rice (15 points)Crispy Salsa Ranch Chicken (7 points)Charhouse Chicken Sandwich on a Pretzel Bun (10 points)Central Park Garlic Chicken with Roasted Heirloom Potatoes (8 points) Note that the Points Plus value for the Central Park Garlic Chicken has changed because I'm now including the Roasted Heirloom Potatoes in there. It previously did not come with the potatoes.

June Dream Dinners Order

Wow, I've been slipping in not listing my upcoming Dream Dinners orders! Weight Watchers Points Plus values are listed, should anyone want to know! My order for June is:
BBQ Chip Chicken Tenders with Dipping Sauce (9 points)Savannah Grill Chicken with Sweet Potato Fries (10 points)Chicken Soft Taco with Key Lime Corn (8 points)St. Louis Smokehouse Ribs (8 points)Savory Grilled Chicken with Sesame Honey Butter (6 points)Terracotta Chicken with Pita and Hummus--2 6-servings (10 points)California Chicken with Fettuccine (9 points)Smoky Bacon Wrapped Turkey Medallions (9 points)Grilled Bruschetta Chicken--2 6- servings (6 points)Slow Cooked BBQ Pork Loin (7 points)

Dream Dinners Review - Williamsburg Pork Chops with Mashed Potatoes

Image
I had my first full meeting as Marshal for Eastern Star last night, plus since I'm on the finance committee, I needed to be there early to sign the bills and such. Since I need to wear a white dress while there, I needed something quick for dinner. This is one of those times where while I'm not sure what I'd do without Dream Dinners, I can guarantee it would've involved takeout or fast food. Now, we can have a great meal in about the same amount of time as carryout!

The directions for the Williamsburg Pork Chops with Mashed Potatoes were fairly easy, although after tasting it, I should've ensured that each pork chop was covered with the marinade before dipping into the bread crumb mixture. I cooked each in a skillet while cooking the mashed potatoes, but rather than serve them as directed (top the mashed potatoes with the pork chops, then cover with gravy), I opted to plate them separately. I served them with corn, carrots, and asparagus.

The pork chops were good,…

Dream Dinners Review - Glazed Turkey Medallions with Garlic Asparagus Spears

Image
I did remember the photo of this meal! I prepared the Dream Dinners Glazed Turkey Medallions with Garlic Asparagus Spears last week, while Mac was out cutting the grass. First, I should mention that I was extremely impressed with Empress Cobaka and Generalissimo Geno that night! I told Mac when dinner would be ready in about 10 minutes, but once it was ready, he still wasn't inside yet. Dinner was on the table, plated, and ready to eat, and I had to head back outside to let him know. I was a bit afraid that one of the dogs (most likely Cobaka) would decide that the dinner on the table was for her, not us. Surprisingly, neither one of them tried it!

For some reason, when I ordered it, I had visions of Dream Dinners employees wrapping each medallion with bacon, since this was a Fast Lane meal. I don't know why I didn't think that the medallions would come from their supplier already wrapped with bacon, but I didn't consider that.

Preparing the meal was a bit odd. I broil…

Dream Dinners Review - Chipotle Chicken over Saucy Egg Noodles

I had a photo of the Chipotle Chicken over Saucy Egg Noodles, but apparently deleted it or something. :(

We had the Chipotle Chicken over Saucy Egg Noodles for dinner one day last week. My week was crazy, so I think it was on Tuesday. It was very easy to prepare--brought water to a boil, cooked the egg noodles, browned the chicken in a skillet, then added the sauce, and dinner was ready!

The sauce was sweeter than what we both expected, and it was good, although I wasn't quite sure if I should cover the noodles in sauce, mix everything together, or what! The sauce was flavorful, and the meal was enjoyable, although, as Mac phrased it, we'd order it again, depending on what is on the menu, but it's not in the Top Ten Meals.

Mac is eating the last of the leftovers for lunch today. I had my portion for lunch one day last week, and Mac had one of his portions on Thursday. We cut the chicken into pieces, so neither one of us needed to take a knife, and for his portion on Thursd…

Kimpton Pet Photo Contest

Generalissimo Geno is in the Kimpton Pet Photo Contest... I figure he's cute and sweet...

So, that said, if you have a facebook account, and don't mind, please go to http://www.kimptonhotels.com/services/pet-photo-contest-2013/gallery.aspx and search for Geno, then "Like" his photo, please!!! Thank you!!!

Shameless plug, yes, I know, but I'm really hoping he wins one of the five half-month prizes! :) We'll probably end up donating a lot of it to his old shelter.

Memorial Day Weekend, and the new week

I had my May Dream Dinners session on Friday. I attended the flex session, and had finished preparing my 72 servings by the time Amber arrived. I helped her prepare her meals, and then headed out, as I needed to drop off my meals at home, gather any venison I couldn't fit in the freezer, and meet the department secretary before doing a home visit for a family looking to adopt a dog.

The department secretary ended up with three packages of antelope and mule deer, and I ended up having to place a few of my Dream Dinners in the freezer upstairs. I also cleaned out a few packages of freezer burnt steaks and a few packages of Omaha Steaks. We took the Omaha Steaks with us on Saturday, when we headed to visit with my parents.

Saturday morning, we grabbed breakfast, then headed home. I wanted to pack, then leave as soon as the mail was delivered. I was waiting on a check, and didn't want to leave it sitting in the mailbox over the weekend. We didn't leave until 3:30--Mac decided …

More of my Yahoo articles

Lilla Rose Flexi Hair Clip

Image
A friend sells Lilla Rose products (fancy hair clips and such), and she's asked me to try one of their Flexi Hair Clips. The deal is that I'll try it at no cost, and if I decide to keep it, I'll pay for it. I'm anxiously awaiting delivery of it.

She's sending the center one to me. Expect a review after I've had a chance to wear it for a few days!


Food Focus Group

I'm participating in an online focus group concerning foods, and I'm having a blast. I've also referenced Dream Dinners a lot in my answers, and have raved about it to a lot of the other participants! No, I don't enjoy Dream Dinners at all, do I? I explained how it's really allowed Mac and I to reconnect over dinner, and how now, he feels involved in dinner, because he gets to help select the menu.

politics, customer service, and more

On Saturday, I monitored a rescue transport, and drove a leg of it. The pups were coming from Dayton and going to New Jersey, Pennsylvania and Delaware. The transport started at 7 AM, so I was raring to go that early, or about as raring to go as I could be without coffee! Mac and I grabbed breakfast, then he headed home, while I headed out to the Women's Expo in Manheim.

I really enjoyed the expo, and picked up a few neat things, including a water bottle that has a removable center section for fruits to flavor the water. I love it, and need to stock up on fruit so I can try it! I did a LOT of walking at the expo, which was good. The walking was good for my knees, because it was flat, stable terrain.

After the expo, I headed home, and Mac and I then drove up to Harrisburg to meet the transport. Passengers were Daisy, a black lab mix who was so scared, she reminded me of Geno, Willow, a silver lab puppy who was SOOO cute, and Winston, a dachshund who thought he was in charge of ever…

weekend

Mac and I had plans to head out to Elizabethtown this weekend. I won a $50 gift certificate to a shop out there during the Best Kept Secrets tour, and Mac wanted to get to a few gun stores out there. I also needed to head to Hershey for a mystery shop. On Friday, I found out that I needed to head into work, at least for about an hour.

We headed to breakfast, then Mac dropped me off at work, and visited Gander Mountain. He was on his way back when I sent him a text message telling him that I had finished everything I needed to do.

From there, we headed out to Elizabethtown. We stopped at Shoppes on Market, picked up my gift certificate, along with some coffee, and then stopped at two local gun stores. We didn't find much there, other than a new Walther PPK/S  in .22 LR. We discussed that as a birthday present for me, but upon further review, I think I'll pass.

From there, we headed up to Hershey, and then to another gun store, before stopping at a semi-local brewpub for lunch.

Dream Dinners Review--Asian Pork Loin

Image
Dinner last night was the Dream Dinners Asian Pork Loin. I'd planned to make it last week, but then had other plans come up, and opted to postpone preparing it.

Mac left work at lunchtime yesterday, as he was exhausted. I'd tried to convince him to stay home all day, but he didn't listen to me. Silly boy!

I had to run a few errands after work, so I didn't get dinner in until about 5:45. The directions were very simple, like most:
Place the pork loin in a baking dish sprayed with non-stick spray, fat-side up, and bake at 350 for 1 hour, 10 minutes, covering loosely with foil for the last 15 minutes.Heat the marinade in a sauce pan until boiling, remove from heat, then use to top the pork loin before serving.Allow the pork loin to rest for 5-10 minutes. Mac took care of covering it with foil and letting it rest, and he brought up two good questions about that:
Keep it in the oven or pull it out for those 5-10 minutes?Keep it covered or remove the foil? I served the pork lo…

Dream Dinners Chicken Marsala Review

Image
We're still working through some of the April meals, so dinner last night was Dream Dinners Chicken Marsala with Mashed Potatoes. I'd prepared it back in December or some such, but traded it for the Fruit Stuffed Pork Loin.

It was very easy to prepare:
Cook the chicken in a skilletHeat the mashed potatoes in a panAdd the sauce to the chicken, bring to a boil, then simmer for 10 minutes. I prepared it while Mac was reloading. I told him dinner would be ready at 7, but figuring it might take a bit longer than the 20-25 minutes time to table, I started cooking a bit early. Rather, we ate dinner 20 minutes early!

This was the first time I've prepared a dish with mashed potatoes since they changed to pre-bagged mashed potatoes. I noticed that it seemed like there were less mashed potatoes than normal. I don't know if perhaps one of my bags wasn't filled quite as much, or if they cut back a bit. I would guess they probably cut back the amount a bit, as a cost saving measu…

Our weekend

Mac and I spent the weekend in Philadelphia. Well, outside of Philadelphia, technically. We arrived around dinnertime on Friday, and checked in to a very pet-friendly hotel, the Hampton Inn in Downingtown/Exton, PA. It was probably one of the least painful hotel check-ins with the dogs for a few reasons:
It was self-parking, so Mac and the dogs could stay in the car while I checked into the hotel.No pet feesNo pet agreements to signSince it was self-parking, we could park, take the dogs to the room, then get the luggage. I'd guess our experiences when traveling with the dogs at a hotel with valet parking probably resemble those from people who travel with kids to those locations. You have to pull the dogs out of the car, plus the luggage, and it's never just one or two bags. The dogs share a bag, then Mac and I each generally have a bag each, plus our laptop bags. If we each only end up carrying two bags, plus managing a dog, we're lucky!

So, this was nice. It was a points …

September Farm Cheese

I recently discovered a cheese shop called September Farm Cheese. It's located in Honey Brook, PA, but they do ship their products if you aren't local. Their cheeses are very yummy, and if you are remotely local, I highly suggest you swing by there! If you like what you taste, and plan on frequenting their store occasionally, I also suggest purchasing one of their reusable shopping bags for $1.50. You'll receive a pin each time you return with the bag and make a purchase, and once you have 5 pins, you'll receive an 8 oz. bar of cheese for free. The bars range in price from $5-$7, so it's a deal.

I discovered the store when my mother and I were running around Lancaster County a few weekends ago, and brought a few bars of cheese home for Mac to try. Mac and I returned this past weekend, and picked up another 5 or 6 bars of cheese! Between the two trips, we purchased:
Extra Sharp CheddarExtra, Extra Sharp CheddarPepperoni Augusto Jack (3 bars total)Garlic and Basil Ja…

Dream Dinners Peach Bourbon Chicken with Garlic Asparagus Spears Review

I was very excited to see this on the menu, and while I normally don't order duplicates of new meals without first trying them, I did for this one. I was rather disappointed on many levels. It's a meal that comes only with grilling instructions, at least for the chicken. We don't own a grill--we gave away our charcoal grill a few summers ago, when I was tired of seeing it sit, unused, on our porch.

I ended up cooking the chicken in a skillet, browning each side for a few minutes. I cooked the asparagus in the stove, broiling it as instructed.

The flavor of the sauce and chicken was uninspired and quite lacking from what I thought it would be. Perhaps adding bourbon would have helped with it, but there were no directions on how much bourbon to add or when to add it.

The asparagus was very enjoyable, so it was probably the highlight of the meal!

Free Subway breakfast

Visit: http://getyourfreebreakfast.com if you are in Berks County, Harrisburg, Johnstown, Altoona, and State College.

Dream Dinners - Chicken Bacon Ranch Stuffed French Bread Review

I had a crazy weekend (more on that in another post), and as such, by Sunday night, I fell into bed, and didn't consider what we'd do for dinner last night!

Dream Dinners to the rescue! I knew the Santa Fe Shredded Pork Burritos and the Southwest Pulled Pork with Confetti Cornbread could be cooked from frozen, but I wasn't necessarily anxious to prepare any of those, as I wanted something different.

I thought I was going to have to scramble and just do pasta and sauce or some such, but instead, upon checking my list of Dream Dinners meals, I noticed that the Chicken Bacon Ranch Stuffed French Bread could also be cooked from frozen.

Woohoo!!! Dinner was set! I got home a bit later than planned, and then had to sort through a lot of mail, but I won't complain about that, because in addition to two checks, we each received our free one-year supply of BioTrue contact lens solution that we won from http://www.biotruedrynesspoll.com/. Now, to find a domestic violence shelte…

Dream Dinners, April Experience

On Saturday, we ventured to Dream Dinners for our April session. I ordered a TON of meals, and barely fit everything into the freezer! Mac and I are going to have a LOT of cooking to do before our May session... In a slight change of events, this month, most of the meats were pre-bagged. The meats that were not pre-bagged were chicken strips, breaded chicken patties, and such. I assume those are all pre-cooked, and that the raw, frozen items were pre-bagged.

This saved a decent amount of time, and also meant that I didn't need all of the Ziploc bags I grabbed when I arrived, since I didn't need bags for the meats.

I'd guess that, in addition to being a convenience for the customers, it probably helps reduce shrink, in that it reduces the chances of someone taking extra meat, either intentionally or unintentionally.

Dream Dinners Order for May

I just sent in my May order for Dream Dinners. This is the first month that Tiff won't be joining me with my order, but I'm still ordering 72 servings. My freezer will be packed, but that's not a problem, I hope...

My order, and Weight Watchers points:
Buffalo Chicken Cavatappi Pasta—12 points
Chicken Enchiladas—8 points
Chicken Paella—12 points
Chicken with Honey, Garlic & Orange—5 points (We've had this before)
Chipotle Chicken over Saucy Egg Noodles—11 points
Creamy Tortellini with Bacon—12 points (We've had this before)
French Tarragon Chicken with Redskin Potato Wedges—7 points
Glazed Turkey Medallions with Garlic Asparagus Spears—9 points
Parmesan Herb Crusted Chicken—5 points
Southwest Pork Carnita Wraps with Chipotle Maple Corn—14 points
Williamsburg Pork Chops with Mashed Potatoes—10 points

We're ordering two 6-servings of the Southwest Pork Carnita Wraps, as I anticipate Mac enjoying that quite a bit.