Showing posts from February, 2013

A Twist on Dream Dinners Terracotta Chicken and Other Things of Note

When I stopped to pick up the Romaine lettuce for dinner last night, I decided that I didn't really want the Dream Dinners Terracotta Chicken on pitas, but rather, wanted to use it as a topping on a quasi-Greek salad. Yes, I'm odd. It was very yummy though! I filled a large bowl with lettuce, added some Feta cheese, topped it with a Bleu Cheese Vinaigrette, some garlic and cheese croutons, and some of the Terracotta Chicken, cut into cubes. I brought the leftovers for lunch. I'll heat the chicken, then will add it to everything else.

Mac opted for the regular meal, and I'll admit, mine probably looked a little odd, but it was very filling and really yummy!

Mac is working overtime this weekend, which I love! We're taking a Slovak cooking class as well.

My Amaranth initiation went really well, and was very nice. A photo of the corsage I was given is below. It was gorgeous! I still have it in the fridge.

I received my first check from Grodo yesterday! Yes, they do se…

Dream Dinners Review--Cola & Lime Tender Pork Roast

Since we've had a fair amount of chicken lately, I opted for the Cola and Lime Tender Pork Roast for dinner last night. I served it with mixed vegetables, including corn, carrots, and asparagus, and also garlic mashed potatoes. The pork roast bakes in the oven while you heat up the glaze, then you are supposed to baste it a few times with the glaze, and then serve it with it, or top it with the glaze. My solution, because I've never been a fan of basting things, was to simply heat up the glaze, allow it to thicken a bit, and then toss it all on the pork roast.

Not perfect, but really all the more I cared to do last night, and it worked! The pork roast had a nicely browned top layer, and it was flavored with the glaze. The flavor was not quite what was expected. Mac's question was, "Is this the Maple Valley Pork Roast"? We could definitely taste the cola, but not the lime flavor. As this was a Fast Lane meal, I have no idea how much lime they used.

We decided that…

Dream Dinners--Arroz Con Pollo Review

At my session on Saturday, I prepared an extra 6-serving each of:
Terracotta Chicken with Pita and HummusCrispy French Onion ChickenCattleman's PieArroz Con Pollo As such, the freezer was beyond packed, so I pulled out three meals for the week. In addition to the Cola and Lime Tender Pork Roast, I pulled out the first Arroz Con Pollo and Terracotta Chicken with Pita and Hummus from the freezer. I figured that this way, I'd rotate our stock.

The Arroz Con Pollo is prepared in a foil pan, so you simply top it with the sauce and cheese, then bake for 75 minutes covered, then another 5 minutes or so uncovered. I opted to only add one bag of cheese initially, and then added the second bag when I uncovered it to bake it. I opted for this in part because the lid about touched the chicken and rice mixture in some areas of the pan.

The Arroz Con Pollo was very good, and the sauce was very flavorful. The problem was that the sauce covered the chicken, but very little reached the rice, so…

Dream Dinners Bring a Friend Experience

I'd been talking about Dream Dinners with a friend from Eastern Star for quite a while, and she decided to join me in February. She wasn't able to attend the session at the beginning of the month, so we scheduled a session for the last Saturday of the month. I prepared 4 meals, extras of things that we like, or thought we'd like.

Sonja and I arrived shortly before our 10:30 session, which gave me time to explain to her what to do--find your packet, label a drawer and a freezer spot, grab an apron, etc. I know that routinely, one of the employees will introduce themselves and help the new person with their first meal, but I took care of that. We tackled the Crispy French Onion Chicken first, as I figured that was probably the easiest meal to prepare. Sonja then moved to the Cheese Lovers Manicotti, while I worked on the Cattleman's Pie.

She really seemed to enjoy her visit, and she placed an order for next month as well! Tiff and I had to change our March session, and …

Guest Blog--Elkalope Stew (Beef Barley Stew)

This entry is written by +Amber Gontz, guest blogger. She made the Beef Barley Stew from Fix, Freeze, Feast, and since I used elk meat, is calling it Elkalope Stew.
I put the block of meat in first, then the frozen veggies on top of that, and poured the water in over the veggies so the block would break up a bit. I sprinkled the barley across the top and it looked cool floating on the water like that. I made the soup in my monster crock pot, used the low setting, programmed for 10 hours, after which it goes automatically to “keep warm” and it was on that setting maybe an hour max.

The meat was tender. The vegetables were not mush to my great surprise. The flavors seemed to be all cooked through everything, which was tasty. I added a small amount of ground sea salt to mine because I like a lot of salt. It was good as is, just not salty. It was a good consistency for stew, thicker than soup but not solid. I think it would have paired perfectly with homemade cast iron cornbread. It had …

Yet more "free" money and other things

I'm still exhausted, and yes, that's even after going to sleep at 9 PM last night! I'll deal though, and will muddle through with today. I may take tomorrow off though, but I'm still trying to decide that.

I did stumble onto another "free" money site, Great Bridge Group. Once you join, you link your cards (debit and credit), and they reward you a percentage of what you spend, everywhere. They pay once/quarter, up to $60/quarter, via PayPal or gift cards.

I'm up to over $27 this quarter, and they list your payout date in your account as well, so there are no surprises. The link above is a referral link--if you join using that, I receive $5, and so do you. That bonus posts once you've linked a card and have been active for 90 days.

I have my Amaranth initiation tonight, and I honestly don't know how I'm not going to fall asleep on the way home from there! Depending on what time I get home from work today, I may squeeze in a short nap…

Dream Dinners Review--Cattleman's Pie

Preparing the Cattleman's Pie at Dream Dinners, I was a bit taken aback by the plethora of Ziploc bags we had to use. It included a gallon bag for the mashed potatoes, a quart bag for the carrots and onions, a quart bag for the sauce, a quart bag for the peas and parsley, the two packages of ground meat, and a 2 gallon bag to hold everything. Since it takes up a lot of room, my freezer space is at a premium, and I wanted to try it before Saturday, I cooked this last night. Or, I should say, Mac and I cooked it!

I donated blood yesterday, at the quarterly blood drive we hold at work, and was wiped out last night. When I started donating blood years ago, I never used to get wiped out afterwards, but now, I feel drained afterwards. So, by the time I was hungry, I was also ready for a nap. Mac stepped in and helped me cook dinner, which was nice.

I was a little disappointed that to prepare this, I needed a sauce pan, a skillet, and a baking dish, but I was not disappointed in the end…

freezer cookbook meals

After work yesterday, I picked up the veggies and such that I needed for the freezer cookbook meals. I opted to take a short cut there, and all of the onion, celery, garlic, and ginger was already chopped, diced, minced, etc. This saved me a lot of hassle and time. As such, I was able to prepare four meals last night, in addition to dinner. I prepared:
Beef Barley Soup
Dave's Swamp Blues Barbecued Chicken
Mariachi Chicken Rolls
Caribbean Pork Tenderloin*

I started with the Caribbean Pork Tenderloin, but to simplify things, I opted to change it into a pork roast. As such, I added to the marinade. We'll see how that turns out when we try it! The recipe was very easy to follow, although I will admit, I made a giant mess with splattering the soy sauce all over the table.

From there, I moved to the Barbecued Chicken. I started the sauce, which smelled and tasted yummy, although I had to make a small substitute, so I think it'll have a bit of a sweeter flavor than intended, but …

Dream Dinners Review--Layered Ravioli Bake

Dinner last night was the Layered Ravioli Bake from Dream Dinners. While I'd have preferred to try something else, necessity dictated that we try this meal, as it was the only one that could be baked from frozen. Yes, I forgot to thaw anything over the weekend, so we were left with what could be baked from frozen.

I love that it was easy enough to prepare--toss it in the oven for 90 minutes, then remove the cover, and bake for another 15 minutes. The sauce had a bit more of a kick than we thought it would, but I was very pleased with this meal. It was tasty, filling, and the sausage and mushrooms were a nice touch. It is always a plus when the meal is prepared in a foil pan that can simply be thrown away once we pack up the leftovers!

We both decided that, while we wouldn't order more of the Layered Ravioli Bake this month, we'd order it again the next time it appears on the menu, but I'll try to remember to scale back the spice a bit.

I actually have leftovers for lun…

weekend events and life

I volunteered to monitor a rescue transport this weekend, after finding out that I didn't need to sit at home to do it. I thought they needed me to sit at home, while really, as long as I could use my phone to send emails, I could be wherever! Mac was thrilled that I didn't need to be at home. It allowed us to go have breakfast, do a few mystery shops, and run a few errands. We did a grocery store mystery shop and a restaurant mystery shop, and stopped by another grocery store to see the Oscar Mayer Wienermobile. Yes, I'm a little kid like that.

We also picked up the chicken and pork that I need for my first foray into freezer cookbook meals. The grocery store hosting the Wienermobile always has the freshest meats, and typically has the best prices on them as well. So, I picked up 12 pounds of chicken and 3 pork roasts. I'm going to pick up the rest of the items I need today, and will package those tonight. I'm not sure what we're having for dinner tonight, as …

Dream Dinners Review--Pacific Rim Glazed Steak with Wonton Crisps

Yes, we're still into last month's menu. I prepared the Pacific Rim Glazed Steak with Wonton Crisps last night. The highlights:
I started dinner about 6 PM, and by 7 PM, leftovers had been packed away and dishes washed.The wonton crisps were yummy.The steaks were very tender. The lowlights:
The steaks were spicier than expected. We'd expected a sweeter flavor.The steaks were small. Dinner was passable, but we will not be ordering this the next time it appears on the menu. We both thought it would have more of a sweet, tangy, Asian-type flavor, not that it would be like General Tso's for steak. Mac packaged up the leftovers with the leftover rice from last week's Coconut Mahi Mahi, and will be having that for lunch on Wednesday and Thursday.

Sunday routines

Not long ago, I complained about having to do laundry, and how I dislike it! I've been trying to keep the laundry from piling up, in part because I think that the more laundry there is, the less likely I am to tackle it, since it will take ages, and will look like I've not made any progress for quite a while.

With that in mind, I've developed a new Sunday routine. Mac and I have breakfast, then I start laundry. It is typically 2-3 loads of laundry, although some weeks, it's 4-5. It doesn't take too long, and Mac doesn't mind, as it gives him time to reload in the basement.

It's working well so far. I may not get everything folded and put away by Sunday night, but at least the amount of laundry is minimal!

Dream Dinners Review--Parmesan Crusted Chicken

Dinner on Thursday was supposed to be the Dream Dinners Parmesan Crusted Chicken, but as I was still fighting a migraine, I opted to postpone it. That meant that dinner on Sunday was the Parmesan Crusted Chicken. I knew it was fairly quick to prepare, so I told Mac dinner would be around 6:30. We ate around 6:45, but still, that was close enough for him!

To prepare the Parmesan Crusted Chicken, I simply dipped the chicken in the breading mixture, then placed it on a baking sheet. To speed clean-up, I lined the baking sheet with foil. Once I had all 6 pieces on the baking sheet, I added a bit more of the breading mixture to the tops, then sprayed them with cooking spray, and baked for 25 minutes. While that was baking, I heated up macaroni and cheese, crescent rolls, and a veggie mix of asparagus, corn, and carrots.

Dinner was extremely yummy. The chicken was crispy, with a nice garlic flavor, and reminded me a bit of the Central Park Garlic Chicken recipe that we've had previously…

Dream Dinners February Experience

Our February Dream Dinners session was this past Saturday. Our order included 78 servings, as I'd decided that I had to try the Layered Ravioli Bake, even though I had another 36 servings, and Tiff had 36 servings. What I didn't know when I placed the order was that it was good I planned to do that.

Our order included:
Crispy French Onion Chicken (2 6-servings)Layered Ravioli Bake (1 6-serving, 1 3-serving)Buffalo Ranch Chicken (1 6-serving, 1 3-serving)Cattleman's Pie (1 6-serving, 1 3-serving)Terracotta Chicken with Pita & Hummus (1 6-serving)Cola & Lime Tender Pork Roast (2 6-servings)Arroz Con Pollo (1 6-serving)Tuscan Steaks (1 3-serving)Creamy Chicken Risotto (1 3-serving)Cheese Lover's Manicotti (1 3-serving)Spitfire Beef Roast with Mashed Potatoes (1 6 serving) Mac drove us to Dream Dinners, because he wanted to go to Cabela's, as they were sponsoring an NRA weekend--join or renew your NRA membership for $35, and receive a $25 Cabela's gift card.…

Dream Dinners Review--Coconut Mahi Mahi with Jasmine Rice

Dinner last night was horrible! It didn't start out well when I developed a migraine shortly before leaving work. I got home, took my meds, took care of the dogs, and curled up until Mac got home. He apparently didn't realize I had a migraine, and after getting a little frustrated because I didn't want to talk, he headed down to the basement.

Just as I was about to fall asleep, my phone rang. I took the call, and then decided to get up and get dinner started. Dinner last night was Dream Dinners Coconut Mahi Mahi with Jasmine Rice. As I was cooking the rice and mahi mahi, I toasted 2 English muffins for my dinner, because I knew my tummy couldn't tolerate mahi mahi right then.

Mac, when he realized I wasn't going to eat, made the comment that he figured dinner would be lousy. He was apparently correct. He said that, had he ordered mahi mahi in a restaurant, and been served this, he'd have sent it back. It had no flavor, seemed like imitation mahi mahi, and well,…

SodaStream House Party and More!

I had to take Geno to the vet last week. He's been drinking a lot of water, and I was concerned. He has a UTI, plus crystals, so he's on two different medications--an antibiotic and something to reduce the pH in his urine, with hopes of eliminating the crystals. Geno tends to be difficult when trying to give him meds, so Wednesday night was interesting. I basically pried open his jaws, shoved the meds down his throat, and then held his mouth shut until he swallowed. He did try to cheek the one, but eventually took it.

Thursday morning was very similar, and Thursday night was a bit easier, as Mac covered them in peanut butter, and he took it a bit warily, but without the typical struggle I have with him. On Friday, Mac tried something new. Since we had leftover mashed potatoes from dinner on Thursday, Mac rolled the pills in mashed potatoes. Geno loved it! He swallowed both without any hesitation! This is how we've been giving him his meds ever since!

Friday was a bad day …

Dream Dinners Review--Meatloaf Milano with Mashed Potatoes

Dinner on Thursday  night was Dream Dinners Meatloaf Milano with Mashed Potatoes. Mac got home around lunchtime on Thursday, and we were both exhausted. I had my PWG conference call at 4, so as soon as that was over, I vegged for a bit. About 6 PM, I started dinner. We debated going out to eat, but decided that it would be quicker to cook the meatloaf.

One of the vacuum-sealed bags of meat leaked, so the directions were soaked, and the juices were on the outside of the other bags. I combined everything and prepared the meatloaf, placing the Gorgonzola in the middle of the meatloaf.

I baked it, as directed, and while that was cooking, decided to whip up a batch of cupcakes for dessert. I made snowman cupcakes--vanilla cupcakes, vanilla icing, topped with a marshmallow decorated to look like a snowman face. That is held onto the cupcake by a toothpick.

The only problem with making cupcakes was that I can't find my muffin pans, and had returned Tiff's to her on Monday. Oops! So, …