Category Archives: food

Don’t miss Elf Training Camp at The Melting Pot, Littleton, Colorado*

mplogofullIf you enjoyed Fondue Fairytales, Superhero Sundays and fun-due Scarytales, then don’t miss out on Elf Training Camp at the Melting Pot, Littleton, Colorado!  Saturdays and Sundays (Dec 3, 4, 10, 11, 17th and 18th) are for fondue fun with the whole family. Enjoy food, drink and elf-themed training, and you can meet Santa’s head elf!

doubledippingfun1The melting pot is a great experience for kids and you can put those etiquette or cotillion classes into practice.  Hold on to your skewer, this is the only place adults and children can indeed double dip, love every minute of it, and no one will complain.  Adults pay $45, and children ages 4-12 are $25, with kids 3 and under free – this price includes the fun and food.   Reservations are required and space is limited, so call 303-794-5666 to reserve your spot, and dip, dip, dip away!  With four courses, each elf in your family, and the parents will leave here full and ready for holiday shopping.    The entire four-course meal and fun took about 2.5 hours, so be ready for some food and fun for the kids.  It’s so well-organized and paced just perfectly.

doubledippingfun2Finally, please remember to dress in layers as the activities are in the tents outside, but honestly, it was so warm in there with the heaters, we were all comfortable and toasty.  As you can see from the pictures, the kids had a great time, and it was nice to spend some uninterrupted time with them… okay, the elf interrupted a lot with a ton of activities for them but we thought it was good to keep the restless little ones busy and working.  All in all, kids and parents were super happy.

Disclaimer: My family and I were compensated in exchange for posts/social media coverage of this event.  We were compensated with free fondue for all of us.  The views expressed here are my own.  NOTE:  This post was delayed due to a family/life emergency.  

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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.  🙂 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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Baskin-Robbins’ New Warm Cookie Mash Up – Simply Yum!

BROn March 1st, Baskin-Robbins,  the world’s largest chain of ice cream specialty shops, brought two of America’s most popular treats together to create its new Warm Cookie Ice Cream Sandwiches and Sundaes.  Additionally, Baskin-Robbins is introducing a new March Flavor of the Month, Cookie Jar Mashup, which features three classic cookies in one amazing scoop.

12794919_10154089721092722_968004820330115890_oWe went to our nearest location (Wheat Ridge), and I tried both the Cookie Jar Mashup flavor and the new warm cookie ice cream sandwich, and enjoyed both! You can even sandwich the Cookie Jar Mashup flavor in-between two or three of your favorite cookie flavors. The topping options are endless.  For the sandwich or Sundae, you can also choose from sprinkles, nuts, almonds, fudge or other topping options.

I choose mint between chocolate fudge and chocolate chip
Mint between chocolate fudge and chocolate chip

The chewy, warmed to order cookie options include Dark Chocolate Chunk, Double Fudge, Peanut Butter Chocolate and White Chunk Macadamia Nut Cookies.  You can put any of our favorite 31 flavors of ice cream in the cookie sandwiches, or sundaes. The new Warm Cookie Ice Cream Sandwich and Sundae lineup includes:

  • Warm Cookie Ice Cream Sandwich: Features a guest’s favorite ice cream flavor sandwiched between their choice of two warmed to order, chewy cookies, topped with rainbow sprinkles, chocolate sprinkles or chopped almonds. Guests can also “Make it a Double” with two scoops of ice cream and three cookies.
  • Warm Cookie Sundae: Features a guest’s favorite ice cream flavor served with their choice of two warm and chewy cookies, topped with their choice of wet topping, whipped cream, chopped nuts and a cherry. Guests can also “Make it a Double” with two scoops of ice cream and three cookies.2016-03-05-22.43.13.jpg.jpeg

Baskin-Robbins’ March Flavor of the Month, Cookie Jar Mashup, combines OREO®, Chips Ahoy!  and Nutter Butter cookie pieces with rich vanilla-flavored ice cream swirled with a chocolate-flavored ribbon. Cookie Jar Mashup is the perfect ice cream flavor for cookie lovers, and can be enjoyed by thecookie mashup scoop in a cup or cone, or as a fitting addition to a Warm Cookie Ice Cream Sandwich or Sundae.  Next time you eat dinner, save room for dessert and definitely stop in and enjoy one of these.  Even splitting them in half, you will really enjoy these warm/cold delights.

20160305_161535.jpg20160305_161538_resizedMy family and I enjoyed our respective flavors today, and I sampled the Cookie Jar Mashup flavor, and really enjoyed how much flavor it has in each bite.  My kids loved their flavor choices too!  Go to your nearest Baskin-Robbins, and enjoy a warm cookie or two.  And if you are like me, you can either get a sandwich, or enjoy your favorite 31 flavors and take a cookie for the road.  I like all my flavors separated out so I can savor each one.  However you like it, the options are endless.

2016-03-05-22.39.10.jpg.jpegFor more information about Baskin-Robbins’ wide variety of ice cream flavors and frozen desserts, visit www.BaskinRobbins.com or follow on Facebook (www.facebook.com/BaskinRobbins), Twitter (www.twitter.com/BaskinRobbins) or Instagram (www.instagram.com/BaskinRobbins).

NOTE:  Baskin-Robbins is a registered trademark and used here for promotional purposes. OREO®, Chips Ahoy! and Nutter Butter are registered trademarks of Mondelēz International group, used under license.

Required Disclosure:  I was compensated for this post in return for sharing information about this new promotion, and my honest review.  The opinions expressed here are my own, and the information is from Baskin-Robbins’ press release. This post contains affiliate marketing links.

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N’awlins gal in Colorado – Parade of Mardi Gras King Cakes

New Orleans Tasty Donuts' McKenzie cake
New Orleans Tasty Donuts’ McKenzie cake

I grew up outside of New Orleans.  I moved to Colorado in 2002, and since then, have always searched for comparable king cakes for Mardi Gras. Nothing compares to New Orleans king cakes, so far, especially my favorite from New Orleans: McKenzie’s or Tastee Donuts, but here are some options you can try if you miss the Big Easy in the Mile High City.

 

Note: If you come across other options, please share them in the comments.  We want to hear from you!  

1)  Rheinlander Bakery-  I posted about Rheinlander king cakes and they even improved their recipe.  Below are my two previous posts on Rheinlander King Cakes.  Rheinlander is an amazing bakery located in Old Town Arvada, Colorado.  They have amazing pastries, coffee, and made to order cakes.  Their king cakes are good, and freshly made, and they have improved their recipe a lot.

Rheinlander King Cakes for Katrina Mardi Gras
Rheinlander

The bread has just enough cinnamon, and the icing and sugar are not overwhelming. King cakes vary in price based on size, and come in several different filling and flavor options.  I still tend to go with cinnamon but there is apple and pecan.  I do not like all the extra filling and things.  i like the idea of sweet cake with light icing and sugar.  I like how Rheinlander provides a baby and some beads and a history on the King Cake and the cheapest is generally about $24.99 (goes up every year).  I find this is a bit pricey for king cake, considering you can have one shipped with all the fixings for $30 (includes overnight FedEx).

Mardi Gras King Cakes for Katrina- Rheinlander Bakery in Arvada, Colorado

Happy Mardi Gras- follow up review King Cakes for Katrina & Rheinlander Bakery in Arvada

2) Whole Whole Foods carries king cakesFoods is the latest (just since 2014 for us) to start selling Mardi Gras king cakes and they sell these for about $14.99 – they go up each year.  You can choose from filled, generally raspberry, apple or plain cinnamon.
The sugar is a bit coarser and definitely different than the sugar on a traditional New Orleans king cake but these are not very sweet, and I like that.  The bread is fine, and the toppings are not overwhelming.  You can pick them up and they tend to be fresh, but as with all things baked in Colorado, you have about 3 days to enjoy, freeze or toss.  Things just get dry here quicker, especially bread and pastries.  Of course, you can always make your own, which Whole Foods encourages you to do.  Here is a recipe to make your own delicious knock off King Cake.  Will it come to close my favorite from New Orleans?  Probably not, but worth a shot!

3) King Sooper’s or Kroger’s – King soopers just introduced, this year (if they had them in the past, I never found it at my local shops), the Mardi Gras King Cake.  It is about $6.99 with the card, and is a round, flat (not risen very well) Cinnamon roll with icing on it and sugar.  The sugar is like the one from Rheinlander, but this cake is super sweet.  You can’t have a lot, but it is flavorful and basically a giant cinnamon roll with icing on it.  Add in the purple, yellow and green and some beads, and voila! King Soopers Mardi Gras King cakes It is a Mardi Gras king cake.  It’s okay, but the price can’t be beat for sure if you are having a Mardi Gras party in the Mile High City.  Since the Broncos were in the superbowl this year, I got myself a Blue, Orange, and White one this year in hope they do not get crushed like last time.  Don’t forget y’all, Peyton Manning is a hometown New Orleanean, even though he is QB for the Denver Broncos.

I plan to review more if you can share where I can get more King Cakes, but ’til then, Laissez Les Bon Temps Rouler and have a very Happy Mardi Gras!

 


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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 – use 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 – I 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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