Category Archives: cooking

Dream Dinners – Quick, Easy and Affordable & Enter to win! #giveaway #dreamdinners

20160312_110108.jpgMy husband and I tried Dream Dinners, Wheat Ridge, Colorado, this weekend, and what a treat!  Their March introductory offer ($74.95 value)  let us pick six 3-serving meals from an expansive menu.  Then, we made an appointment to go into the kitchen and assemble all six meals.  The kitchen is very organized, clean, and all the ingredients are chopped, measured and ready for you to build and take home, freeze or eat right away.  You go from station to station to assemble your meals.  The proprietary recipe cards at each station guide you through the process and it’s quite simple to assemble.

Dream Dinners 3Travis helped us at the Wheat Ridge location.  He is such a delight to work with and learn from.  You use bags or containers, and all items come with a step by step recipe card so when you get home and choose a meal, you are ready to go!  No chopping, no buying of ingredients, no extensive prep time.  You follow very simple directions to heat up/top or cook the food, and you’re serving up dinner in no time!  This is perfect for family meals or for just two.  The introductory offer is definitely worth a shot, and I encourage you to set up your appointment on line or call them.  The staff is super friendly and helpful and on-site with you the entire time.   You are offered a drink of coffee, tea, or other beverages, and we got to sample a scone 1030 am on a Saturday – it was delish!  My husband was able to sample chicken risotto which is being offered on their April menu and loved it!

20160312_102700.jpgThe kitchen has clean bowls, measuring bowls, and utencils throughout your preparation journey, and the instructions are so simple to follow, even color-coded.  It’s super easy – we were in and out in an hour and that was including someone teaching us, and speaking with us about the offers.  I also picked up sides from 20160312_110047.jpgtheir sides and dessert freezer case, and we enjoyed potato pancakes and a dip for lunch.  Yum!  Tonight, my husband and kiddos are having cornflake crusted chicken  tenders and a side of mashed potatoes (also from Dream Dinners), while I enjoy Risotto (a side dish).   The vegetarian choices are slim to none here, but Travis told us that if you choose to leave out the protein on a 3-serving meal, you save 50% on that dish, which is a great deal.
Dream Dinners 2Then, you can pick the protein of choice at home and assemble the meal at home, and still save time and money.  For example, April’s menu includes a Creamy Chicken Risotto, and this item can be assembled without the protein, or the risotto can be made without the chicken or chicken packaged separately from the Risotto.  At home, it can be made vegetarian for both a vegetarian and meat-eater to enjoy.   My favorite was the side dishes because those for me are things the kids eat like mashed potatoes, potato pancakes, fries and garlic bread sticks.  They complement all the meals you prepare at Dream Dinners, or can complement a dish you make at home.  My husband prepared the cornflake crusted chicken tenders tonight and the house smells lovely!  He loved the meal and said the flavors were perfect.

cornflake crusted chicken tenders
cornflake crusted chicken tenders

The only cons for me of this place was menu selection for a vegetarian, but if you eat meat and your family is not picky, this place is for you!  Also, even if you are cooking for just two or three, I think the portions are perfect for one night and a left over for lunch the next day. With 3-servings, it goes a long way in our house.  The minimum order after the introductory offer(six 3-serving meals) is twelve 3-serving meals, so it may best to split with a good friend if you are interested and cannot possibly maintain 3-4 meals a week on this.  Partnering up with friends is a good idea.  You can skip a month if you want or are out of town, and there is no contract or obligation.  The best thing is about how long they will keep because they are packaged for freezing so you can thaw or take out when you are ready for them.  All the instructions are different so follow the cards’ instructions carefully.   Also, like Steve points out in the comments, this place is kid-friendly and if kids are into cooking, or mature enough to be involved in the kitchen, this place is perfect to bring him or her along to help you portion out the recipe, assemble the meal and add the ingredients of their choice.  Who knows? If they take part in the assembly, they may actually eat it?  What a concept!

20160312_112031.jpgOne of the things I learned about Dream Dinners is that they do school fundraisers and give  a size-able donation per family – each attendee pays $34.99 for THREE 3-serving meals of their choice and $10 of this goes to the school – that is 30% back of the school!  What a great idea and you get healthy, fresh meals that the family can get 6 meals or more out of – what a deal!

Dream Dinners 1My husband and I enjoyed our dream dinners experience and I would highly recommend you try the introductory offer.  After that, you can figure out how to sign up because for us, twelve 3-serving meals is a lot considering how differently we all eat in our family, but if we can split it with a family, or two, I think it could work out.  Also, make some room in your freezer because you are gonna need it.  Dream Dinners has the four Colorado locations to choose from so you can go an try out their introductory offer.  Also, if you are not in Colorado and you’d like to go in and try your Dream Dinners, you can see if there is one near you.    Happy cooking and eating!

Giveaway:  To enter to win, please comment below with what you’d do with one free 3-serving meal from Dream Dinners? Make sure you include your name and email when you comment- only I see your email.   For this event, you can bring up to 9 friends (10 total including you) to build a meal and learn more about Dream Dinners while you enjoy provided appetizers, non-alcoholic drinks, and the opportunity to catch up with friends or colleagues.  Also, for an additional $24.95 (normally $50 value), you can  take three additional 3-serving meals home with you, ready to thaw and/or cook.  The night out is a great deal and worth over $130 (depending on dish) and it’s yours for free.  Just sign up and I randomly choose a winner using a plug in on wordpress.  Finally, I hope you will invite me along as one of your party of 10.  ūüôā You will be notified by 3/19/2016 if you win and winner posted here.   Comments/entries close at 8pm MDT 3/19/2016.  *Note: Contest only applies to Wheat Ridge, Colorado location

NOTE: We have a winner! Congrats, Heather – I will connect you with Dream Dinners & write you separately.

Your Winner

(confirmed)Author: Heather (email removed)

Comment: permalink

How fun!

 

 

 

 

Required Disclosure: I was offered a free introductory offer from Dream Dinners in exchange for a honest review.  The giveaway is also part of the compensation for readers who enter to win.  The opinion expressed here are my own. This post contains affiliate links.

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Chocolate Chip Zucchini Bread – a family favorite

wpid-20150824_213735.jpgNot sure what to do with all that zucchini from your garden?  You can make bread out of it, or freeze the zucchini after grating, and make bread all winter long.  I am sure these would make great teacher gifts too!  My favorite recipe that I like to use is this one at Simply Recipes, and then I modify as you see below.

I like how this is the one recipe that tells you to drain the zucchini after grating. ¬†I didn’t realize how much water was in this stuff, and you do not need all the water, although maybe my bread would not be so dry if I left it some of it in – I will try that next time. ¬†All I know is that this¬†bread tastes super yummy and with some icing on top, the veggie properties of this bread can easily be shielded from prying young taste buds.

wpid-20150808_105128.jpgI base this recipe on needing 4 cups of shredded zucchini, but lots of others out there only call for 2 cups and split the instructions from wet mix and dry mix and keeping the zucchini separate.  You can cut this recipe in half if you choose to do so or have a small zucchini.  I like to add chocolate chips to the entire batter, and for my husband and I, I like to add in chopped walnuts- yum!

  • 4 cups grated zucchini – I recommend¬†a food processor to shred/grate. ¬†I did it by hand the first time, it was a nightmare and messy. ¬†When I used the food processor, it was done in 5 minutes, and less messy. ¬†If you only have a small zucchini to yield 2 cups of grated zucchini, cut the rest of the recipe in half.
  • 2 eggs
  • 1 1/2 cups sugar (white granulated)
  • 1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 3/4 cup unsalted butter (1.5 sticks)- melt in microwave safe container
  • 2 1/2 cups all purpose flour
  • 1/2 cup unsweetened cocoa (natural unsweetened cocoa)
  • 2 teaspoons baking powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1 teaspoon cinnamon
  • 1/4 cup semi sweet chocolate chips (not milk chocolate)
  • 1/4 cup chopped walnuts (or pecans) – optional, or add to your batch
  • 1-2 or more greased pans- whatever size you want (loafs, square, or cupcakes) – ¬†I like to make a combination of all
  • preheat your oven to 350 degrees at this time

Zucchini

Shred it, and put it in a colander over a bowl or over the sink so it drains a bit while you do other things.  I have shredded it by hand or by food processor, and a food processor takes the cake (pun intended)!

Wet mix

You need a larger bowl for this because you will end your mixing in this bowl.  Beat together the eggs, the sugar, and the extract Рuse a mixer or your hand.  I have tried both ways, and it is fine either way.  Make sure to get the consistency to where it is a smooth mixture and not lumpy.

Dry Mix

In a smaller bowl, you can mix together the flour, cocoa, the baking powder (or soda), salt, and cinnamon.  Mix it together so it is not lumpy РI use a small egg whisk to just mix it all up.  I also add in the chocolate chips here, but it is optional. You can add nuts too, or add them later if your kids do not like them.

First, put the Zucchini into the wet mix, then slowly (about a quarter of the mix each time), stir in the dry mix. ¬†Stir and put in the dry mix fully until mixed in well. ¬†You do not want to put it in all at once or it creates giant lumps. ¬†But, fermenting apparently has begun the minute you mixed wet and dry, so get the pans ready, and scoop in the right portions for the pan you chose. ¬†I generally leave enough for the “adult” pan or loaf of this bread and then mix in the nuts into that smaller portion. ¬†Then, scoop it into the pan.

wpid-20150824_213649.jpgBake

Bake for 50 minutes (if at lower altitudes) at 350 degrees, depending on size of pan, but in Colorado, you need only bake for 40 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted in center comes out clean. ¬†I like to check it after 30 minutes for cupcakes, 35 minutes for a loaf size pan, and 40 minutes if you go 8×8 brownie pan.

Happy baking and yum!

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Easy Vegetarian Quiche Recipe

I absolutely love this recipe (source:allrecipes.com), which is my go-to vegetarian Quiche recipe to refresh my memory on what I need and steps, but for months now have created my unique loaded vegetarian Quiche recipe, and wanted to share; even added some cool photos.  I truly love the taste and texture of this Quiche and it is a huge hit with hubby and anyone else who tried it (I am rather selfish with it).

Because I am picky and do not like mushrooms or onions, it is always best for me to¬†make my own recipe¬†at home. ¬†I know what I like, and this Quiche encompasses most of the ingredients I love, well, except for chocolate. ¬†I’ll save that for another recipe. ¬†The crust is yummy too and the Kroger brand comes with a pack of two rolled crusts. ¬†This is an easy recipe, except for cutting.

INGREDIENTS:  Note: I use these, but you can modify any of these, or add onion and mushroom if you like those ingredients.  I do not like them.  You can also add zucchini, different color peppers, green chile, and whatever other veggies your heart desires.

Pie Crust (I use the Kroger-brand pie crust and it is great), 1 green pepper, 1 roma tomato, fresh spinach, broccoli florets (fresh), 4 leaves basil (chopped), cauliflower (optional), 1 clove garlic, onion salt, 1 tsp salt and 1 tsp pepper (or to taste), 4 eggs, heavy whipping cream, olive oil, and shredded sharp cheddar cheese (1 cup or to taste).

Here are the steps and some photos to go along with them:

1.  First, preheat the oven to 400 degrees.  Thaw your pie crust outside the fridge for 10-15 minutes Рdo not, I repeat DO NOT thaw in microwave.  Made that mistake before, and it got ugly.  While thawing, cut up your vegetables and get ready to cook.

2.  I dice up one fresh tomato, about 1/4 of a green pepper (small cubes), spinach leaves (fresh), cut the basil, broccoli, cauliflower florets and any other vegetables of your choice.

20150726_1332063.  Put olive oil in pan -about 2 tablespoons, I use a garlic crusher and crush one clove in the oil, while it is over low to medium heat.  Then throw in the vegetables and cover to sauté them Рsalt to taste, or put onion salt, and pepper/creole seasoning, etc.

20150726_1332134.  Unroll the pie crust into a glass pan (preferred over metal) because it seems to cook more evenly, and bake for 5 minutes (NO MORE) so the crust gets a little cooked.  Pull it out, and gently pop any bubbles.

 

5.  Place20150726_134213 about 1/4 of the cheese or more on the bottom to coat it.  Then put veggies mixture on top.  I like the cheese on bottom because it coats it and prevents the vegetables from making the crust too soggy.  If you want to make no Рcrust muffins in a muffin pan, put the veggie mixture into the cups, sprinkled with cheese on top.

20150726_1342166.  Take the eggs and mix them with 1/2 cup heavy whipping cream, and then whip vigorously for about 2 minutes.  If you do not beat the eggs well, you will end up with an omelet or fritata Рyou need to beat the eggs well to get the Quiche consistency.  You can use milk in place of whipping cream.  Pour the egg mixture on the top of the veggies.

20150726_1414537.  Bake for 30-35 minutes (depends on altitude), and once the middle is heated throughout or toothpick inserted comes up clean.  I also made the no-crust muffins and those cook for only about 25 minutes.  20150726_141446

 

8.  Let sit for about 5 minutes and then cut, and enjoy!  Yummy!

 

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Pick up Service from #Walmarttogo Grocery – It really is quick!

I posted before about Walmart Grocery To Go!¬†delivery, but I have never tried pick-up service. I tried home delivery four times, and you can read about all my experiences on Get Clued In! ¬†So, this time we tried pickup to see if it was really a “game changing time saver.” ¬†It really is.

20150110_123124It worked great! And we did it with our kids in tow! ¬†When the weather is nice like it was today, roll up your sleeves, head out to run errands, and make a quick 5 minute or less stop at Walmart Curbside pick up, and get all your groceries before you head home. ¬†Make sure to register here for Walmart Grocery To Go, so you can set up your account, so when you are ready to order, you are good to go!¬†¬† Pick your store, the one you will either pass by on the way home from work, or running errands, and you actually give Walmart a 4-hour window for pick up. ¬†They call you at the start of your window to let you know to call them when you are 15 minutes out. ¬†Once you are 15 minutes out, call them, and when you get there, you pull into a special marked area, and voila! ¬†They come out, review your order, and load your car. ¬†We had our items and loaded into the trunk within two minutes of arrival. ¬†No fuss, no muss, no standing in long lines, no trying to find all you need from various Departments. ¬†It is all ready for you and best of all, it’s FREE! ¬†Delivery is approximately $7, and pick up is free. ¬† And, they even gave ua free gift for our loyalty – a little Walmart care package. ¬†Wow! ¬†What a treat!

20150110_123117Holiday rush at the store? Fret not, order everything you need on-line. Oh, and be sure to indicate which items you are okay to substitute out because if they do not have the one you ordered, are you okay with generic or another brand?  Make sure to put that in, and check out. You pay on-line when you check out, but you are not charged until pick up because they might not have all your items.  Worked like a charm for us!

20140316-231926.jpgWhether you choose home delivery (a truck like the one pictured to the left will deliver all your goods to your home), or pick up service, save time, money, and hassles of traffic and lines of holiday grocery shopping, and order from Walmart Grocery To Go. Reduce stress of the new year and spend time on things that matter.

Disclaimer: As a participant in the Walmart Grocery to Go program, I‚Äôve received a personal invite and payment for my time and efforts in creating this post. The views and opinions expressed here are my own. ¬†Don’t forget to CLICK HERE so we both get a $15 credit at WALMART To Go!¬†

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City girls visit a Farm

20140912_170346I don’t even like to camp, much less dig up dirt with my fingernails and root up a carrot or potato, but I had a rare opportunity to visit a local farm.¬† It was awesome!¬† My daughter’s class had a field trip to Miller Farms in Platteville, and it was a great experience.¬† Sure, it was a crisp, cold 30-degree day in early September, but we managed.¬† The kids couldn’t feel their fingers and toes by lunch time, but they managed to still pack a bag or two, three or four of fresh, organic produce to take home.¬†¬† Miller Farms has a fun play area for kids, and places to take pictures, and burn off steam.¬† If the weather would have been nicer, the kids might have played harder too!

20140912_120716Since the field trip, we are enjoying the yummy eats so much, I am considering going in on a farm share or visiting a farmer’s market weekly.¬† The tomatoes taste fresh and so darn good that you can just bite into them.¬† The fresh sweet corn is edible without cooking.¬† In fact, kids were removing the husk and eating the corn on the tractor, as we went from field to field, picking fresh produce right off the vine, husk, or digging them up from the dirt.¬† The potatoes were great, and the carrots are sweet and perfect.¬† We got peppers and onions, and enjoyed green beans.¬† With all this great produce, plus the squash and zucchini from my neighbor’s garden, we are eating very well in our house.¬† Menu planning for tomorrow: DONE!¬† Carrots as snacks, mashed potatoes, and corn, with a pasta dinner.¬† Tonight, I made a quinoa salad with spinach, black beans, garlic, and the tomatoes and fresh peppers we picked.¬† YUM!¬† I made samosa puffs with the potatoes, added20140912_102635 peas and wrapped them in croissant dough – baked up and yummy.¬† Last night, we enjoyed vegetable stir fry with the green beans, squash and zucchini,¬† buttered corn on the cob, and peeled carrots.

If you know of a good organic farm share, let us know your thoughts in the comments.  I think I am really liking the idea of making fresh, yummy things at least a few times a week.

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