Dream Dinners: New Orleans Jambalaya

In finishing up my March meals last week, I got to try a Dream Dinners version of a family favorite-jambalaya.  We typically use the Zatarain’s mix and use a sausage for the meat.  This version was originally designed to have sausage and shrimp, but I replaced the shrimp with diced chicken, as we don’t eat shrimp.  This was a simple pan meal that could have cooked from frozen.  I defrosted it so that it would cook a bit faster.  I added the chicken into the pan dish and  poured the sauce over the dish, covering it all with aluminum foil.  I baked it about an hour and let it rest for 10 minutes before serving.  This was a huge amount of food.  I think this 3 serving meal translated into at least 5 meals for us.  I liked this dish, but I wished that it had a little more kick to it.  Mike ate leftovers with sriracha and it was perfect for him. I would definitely make this again and probably double the amount of seasoning I used or be prepared to add some heat at home.

FullSizeRender.jpg

Dream Dinners: Greek Chicken with Lemon Feta and Toasted Orzo

As I get closer to starting my meals for April, I still have a few meals from March to blog about.  One new meal we tried last week was Greek Chicken with Lemon Feta.  Mike really likes  Greek and Mediterranean food, so we thought this was a good choice for us. I started by preparing the Orzo.  Meanwhile, I preheated the oven to 375 and prepared my pan.  I topped each piece of chicken with a lemon slice.  Then, I drizzled the chicken with olive oil and baked the chicken for about 15 minutes.  I added feta cheese to each chicken breast and put it in the broiler for about 2 minutes.  We served each chicken breast with a side of orzo.  This was a really tasty meal.  It was perfect for spring with the light, fresh taste of lemon.  The orzo made more than 3 servings, which was nice for leftovers.  This dish was pretty simple, but had great flavors and is definitely one that I would order again. 

FullSizeRender.jpg

Dream Dinners: Chicken Parmesan

Now that its mid-April, I have finished eating all my March Dream Dinners meals, but I still need to catch up on blogging about them.  One meal we tried recently, was Chicken Parmesan.  We started off with some toasted ravioli and paired with a side salad.  I put this pan dish in the oven for 35 minutes at 400 degrees.  I uncovered it and topped with the Parmesan mix, baking an additional 20 minutes, until the top was brown and crispy.  We let it sit a few minutes before serving.  This chicken parm was pretty good.  I am picky, as Mike makes a pretty delicious chicken parm every year for Valentine’s Day.  This dish was tasty and definitely less work than Mike’s version.  While I enjoyed this one, I still love my special treat from my sweet heart each year.  We would make this again, but its not a replacement for Mike’s special dish. 

FullSizeRender.jpg

American Woman

A few weeks ago, Mike and I headed to Whitestone on a Friday evening.  The weather was great, there was a new food truck, and there was a band playing.  It was also incredibly busy-almost St. Patrick’s Day busy.  We started with a beer and ordering at the truck, American Girl Grille.  I was excited to see that they had crinkle fries and several different burger options.  Mike ordered a pub burger that had Irish cheddar and was made with a stout.  Mine was served on grilled bread with bacon.  The food was great, which is a feat for a new truck, sometimes.  Mike really loved his burger and I’ve seldom met a burger I didn’t like.  The staff on the truck was friendly and despite a technical glitch, things ran smoothly.  We would love to see this truck back at Whitestone in the future.  Unfortunately, it kept getting more and more crowded that night, so we ended up making it an early night.  We love that our favorite place is getting more popular, but that Friday was too popular for us.

IMAGE.JPG
IMAGE.JPG

Dream Dinners: Pork Tenderloin with Roasted Savory Cauliflower

March flew by and left me with a freezer full of delicious meals. In fact, its mid April and I am finally finishing the meals.  This has nothing to do with the quality of the food, but more to do with poor planning and lots of travel on my part.  One of the delicious meals we made last week was the Caribbean Pork Tenderloin with Roasted Savory Cauliflower.  I especially loved the cauliflower part of this dish.  I got the oven preheated to 425 and prepared the pans.  I removed the pork from the the bag and put it on the baking sheet.  Next, I brushed the pork with the glaze and baked it for 25 minutes.  While the pork was cooking, I got the cauliflower on the pan and baked it for 30 minutes.  After the initial bake, I put some of the honey mustard glaze on top of the tenderloin and baked it for 10 more minutes.  I heated up the rest of the glaze for about 5 minutes.  After everything was done cooking, I let the pork rest before slicing it.  We drizzled the honey mustard glaze over the pork and cauliflower and were ready for dinner.  It was delicious, as all the pork dishes have been so far.  The cauliflower was different to me, as I’ve never had it roasted before and I loved it.  I liked the texture along with the savory flavor.  I will definitely be serving my cauliflower roasted again in the future and hope I can get some more of this delicious side with my next order. 

FullSizeRender.jpg

Dream Dinners: Bacon Mac n Three Cheese Bake

In March, Dream Dinners had a ton of pan meals.  These are meals that are assembled in a pan and just get popped in the oven.  I was so busy in March, and these meals have been great.  The other great thing about the pan meals is that most of them can cook from frozen, so you don’t even have to remember to defrost them. These meals are especially great when I’m working in the evening because Mike is happy to just pop one in the oven and enjoy.  One of these meals that we really loved was the Bacon Mac N Three Cheese Bake.  I had a meeting or an event and Mike made dinner.  He started by baking the dish for 30 minutes at 350.  Next, he sprinkled the top with the crumb topping and baked it about 8-10 minutes until the top was golden brown.  We served our pasta bake with a side salad and dinner was ready.  I loved the flavors in this dish-bacon, cheese, and pasta.  The topping had a little kick to it, which matched the creamy pasta nicely.  I will definitely make sure to make doubles of this meal next time its on the menu! 

FullSizeRender.jpg

Dream Dinners: Steak Gorgonzola

March was a very busy month for us.  I started a new job and visited Dallas and Vegas.  Fortunately, I had a freezer full of Dream Dinners meals to keep me from spending a ton of time and money at the grocery store and working on food prep at home.  One such great meal was the Steak Gorgonzola, which I made on Easter.  I started by heating up the grill pan on the stove top.  I grilled the steaks about 5 minutes on each side until they had nice sear marks.  I put gorgonzola butter mixture on each steak and let it cook until melted.  I let the steaks rest and we were ready to serve.  I paired the steaks with some fresh pineapple and pasta salad.  We really enjoyed these steaks.  The gorgonzola gave the steaks great flavor, without being over the top.  I love the quality meat that Dream Dinners  provides and they cooked so wonderfully in in my cast iron grill pan.  I will definitely make sure to order these steaks next time they pop up on the menu. 

FullSizeRender.jpg

Dream Dinners: Crispy Salsa Ranch Chicken with Brazilian Cheese Bites

After a few days away, my stomach was definitely ready to quit eating out for a while.  I didn’t have time to go to the grocery store right away, but fortunately, I had some Dream Dinners meals in my freezer that I just needed to defrost.  I decided to pair Crispy Salsa Ranch Chicken with Brazilian Cheese Bites and a side salad.  I started by preheating the oven to 400 degrees.  I was lucky that both items needed to cook at 400, so I didn’t have to worry about under/over cooking anything.  The Brazilian Cheese Bites cooked from frozen so I just put those on a foil lined baking sheet and cooked them for 20 minutes.  While the oven preheated, I removed the chicken breasts from the marinade and cut them into 3 strips. I put them on a sprayed, foil lined baking dish.  Each strip was topped with the tortilla chip crumb mixture and pressed onto the chicken.  I baked the chicken about 15 minutes until the strips were brown and crisp.  We dipped the chicken in salsa and served them with the cheese bites.  We really enjoyed both parts of this meal.  The cheese bites were interesting.  The bread was crisp with a cheese flavor without being stringy or overly gooey.  I really loved the chicken.  The chicken strips helped the chicken cook a bit faster and more evenly.  I loved the flavor of the crumb mixture and using salsa as a condiment for dipping was perfect.  The leftovers from this meal would also make great nachos or be tasty in a taco or wrap.  It was also super simple to make-next time this shows up on the menu, I will definitely order several.

FullSizeRender.jpg

Dream Dinners: Black and Blue Steaks

We had a busy weekend with a hockey game, escape room, hanging out with friends at Whitestone, and movies on Sunday.  By the time dinner arrived on Sunday, I was thankful that I had thawed a Dream Dinners meal.  I was also glad that it was Black and Blue Steaks.  I decided to pair our steaks with a baked potato and salad.  I heated up my grill pan over medium high heat.  I added my steaks ad cooked them about 5-6 minutes on each side.  I cooked them an additional minute on some of the really pink spots.  I pulled them off the grill and topped them with the blue cheese mixture while I cooked the potato.  I let the steaks rest for 5 minutes and then we plated our food.  The steaks were cooked perfectly for us with grill marks on the outside, but some pink on the inside.  The blue cheese mixture was interesting.  It was a little bit salty and the blue cheese flavor was quite strong.  I feel like in the future, I wouldn’t be concerned with using all the mixture and just lightly season the steaks.  Overall, we really liked these steaks and I was so happy to have a home cooked meal in less than 30 minutes.

FullSizeRender.jpg

Dallas Hockey and BBQ

A few weeks ago, we got to have another wonderful adventure with our Texas family-Ashley, Jason, and Ethan!  We headed to Dallas for some hockey, good eats and great company.  We left on a Friday afternoon and got to experience some lovely traffic along, especially right around Waco and then again as we drove into Dallas.  We stayed at beautiful hotel, the Fairmont,  in the downtown area, which was very convenient to all the cool things we decided to do.  We checked in and ate dinner downstairs at the bar, which had some delicious treats.  We spent some time hanging out and making plans for the rest of the weekend.

 Pizza from the bar at the Fairmont  

Pizza from the bar at the Fairmont  

Saturday morning, we stopped by Starbucks to start our day.  We headed to Mad Hatters for sandwiches before the hockey game.  It was really cute with lots of Alice and Wonderland inspired decor and so many tasty sandwiches.   

 Philly Cheesesteak from Mad Hatter

Philly Cheesesteak from Mad Hatter

Next, we headed to the hockey game to see the Dallas Stars versus our St. Louis Blues.  It pretty exciting as it was Ethan’s first hockey game and I haven’t been to a Blues game in about 15 years.  Brett Hull was also honored at the game.  It was a great game with lots of fights and ending with overtime.  Unfortunately, the Blues lost, but it was a really good game. 

 Go Blues! 

Go Blues! 

IMAGE.JPG

For dinner, we headed to Pecan Lodge, a local BBQ joint.  There was a pretty long line, but it moved pretty fast.  Unfortuntately, they ran out of the giant beef ribs right before Mike ordered, but there were still plenty of great choices.  I tried the brisket, sausage and mac and cheese.  I was very happy with my choices.  This bbq had plenty of flavor and taste.  It was definitely worth the wait!   We stopped at a few shops and a brewery before heading back to the hotel.

 BBQ from Pecan Lodge

BBQ from Pecan Lodge

On Sunday, we were pretty tired, so Mike and I decided to head home after checking out of the hotel.  We decided to stop for kolaches on our way home.  We got to stand in another really long line in order to get some tasty kolaches.  It was so crowded at Czech Stop that we had to eat in the car and we couldn’t even get to the gas pumps!  

 Kolache from Czech Stop

Kolache from Czech Stop

We had another great weekend with our friends and can’t wait for our next adventure. Thanks so much to sweet Ashley for her excellent planning skills for making this trip possible! 

Pizza! Pizza!

One day last week, I got a text from Mike, telling me he’d just eaten the best pizza he’d ever had in Austin.  I knew this must be pretty important because while Mike does like all pizza, he is particular about what constitutes as “the best.”  I was a little concerned that this pizza would be someplace downtown or have some other difficulty.  However, Mike found that there was a location of I. Fratelli about 15-20 minutes from our house.   The only downside was that it was delivery or carry out only and we had to go pick it up.  Mike ordered pizza, salad, and breadsticks and the scent was amazing as we drove it back home.  We opened it up right away and I was amazed to taste a little bit of home.  The pizza was St. Louis style with a thin crust, not over sauced, gooey cheese, and plenty of toppings.  It was cut in strips, while not quite St. Louis squares, it was close.  The salad dressing tasted very much like the dressing at Pasta House, red wine vinegar, oil and a whole lot of parmesan cheese.  We ate until we were stuffed.  I’m glad that Mike discovered a new place, I just wish it were a little closer or atleast had tables for a dine in option.  I am sure that we will be back, but it may be a special treat.

733BEF4E-6D38-43B8-9B86-32653C088395.JPG

Dream Dinners: Cucina Chicken Gnocchi

With my current busy lifestyle, Mike has been doing a great job stepping up and making dinner.  Dream Dinners has been a big help, too, saving Mike a lot of prep work.  One day last week, he got to make the super simple meal of Cucina Chicken Gnocchi.  All he had to do was preheat the oven, place the pan on a baking sheet, and cover with foil.  This pan meal cooked covered for 30 minutes and then uncovered for an additional 10-15 minutes.  This meal combined gnocchi, diced chicken, marinara sauce, seasonings, and cheese.  It was really tasty and paired nicely with a green salad.  I also love that the pan meals can cook from frozen for a lasagna minute meal or a forgetful chef.  At this point, I can’t imagine my life without the help of Dream Dinners. 

0840442D-3C6F-4327-B727-CC8BCF16C7D0.JPG

Dream Dinners: Pizza Burgers

Another busy day and week make me thankful to have Dream Dinners in my life!  I had work events 3 nights last week, in addition to regular life events that keep me busy.  On Thursday, I made Pizza Burgers.  The original recipe called for making these into sliders, but I got some regular sized buns because I didn’t feel like making sliders this time.  In addition to sliders, I made a salad and some waffle fries.  I started by putting the beef in a mixing bowl with burger seasoning and some herbed marinara. I mixed it well and split the beef into 3 burgers, which I shaped into patties.  I cooked the patties about 6-8 minutes per side.  I heated up the marinara sauce and set the oven to broiler.  Next, I put the buns on a baking sheet, adding a burger, marinara sauce, cheese, and pepperoni.  I broiled the burgers until the cheese melted.  We added the top bun and dinner was served.  These burgers were great!  I loved the flavor of the burger seasoned with marinara and the pretzel bun.  Mike loved all the great pizza flavors.  I love that Dream Dinners constantly comes up with new ways to jazz up burgers!  

FullSizeRender.jpg

Dream Dinners: Kentucky Pork Chops and Bacon Broccoli with Cranberries

This past week, I have been busy hosting events at work, so Mike has been making our Dream Dinners meals.  One night, he made Kentucky Pork Chops, Bacon Broccoli with Cranberries and he added a side of rice.  Mike did tell me that the pork chops were a bit of work, as it had several steps.  He started by coating the pork chops with some of the season rub.  He heated up olive oil in a skillet and added the pork chops, browning for 2 minutes on each side.  He brushed the top with sauce, turned and cooked for 1 minute.  He repeated this again and put them on a plate to stay warm.  The remaining sauce went in the pan and cooked about 2 minutes.  The sauce was delicious, but definitely made a mess of our kitchen.  Meanwhile, Mike was also making rice and the broccoli.  To cook the broccoli, Mike heated up a sauté pan, added broccoli, covered with a lid and steamed for 5 minutes.  He plated the rice, pork, and broccoli, covering them with sauce.  The meal was really tasty and the pork was cooked perfectly.  The broccoli paired nicely with the pork and Mike was able to have a tasty meal instead of leftovers or take out.  Once again, Dream Dinners helped a busy family! 

F1820DB8-E1C2-411D-B957-6C85676E906D.JPG

Dream Dinners: French Tarragon with Potato Wedges

I have been super busy lately and definitely glad that I have Dream Dinners in my life to keep us fed in a quick and healthy manner.  I started by preheating my oven and preparing the pan for the potatoes.  I cooked the potato wedges about 25 minutes at 425.  While the potatoes were cooking, I worked on the rest of the meal.  I cooked the chicken for about 4 minutes on each side over medium high heat.  Next, I added the tarragon sauce over the chicken and brought it to a boil.  I covered it and simmered on low for about 10 minutes.  We plated the potatoes, added a chicken breast, and poured sauce over the top.  With the addition of a side salad, dinner was complete.  This was a really tasty meal and very different from anything else I’ve made.  The sauce was full of flavor and paired nicely with the crispy potatoes and tender chicken.  I also enjoyed leftovers the next day when the potatoes really had the chance to soak up all the delicious sauce.  Once again, Dream Dinners helped me answer the age old question of “What’s for dinner?” 

FullSizeRender.jpg

Dream Dinners: Lemon Villa Chicken

I’ve recently started a new role at Dream Dinners as the Business Development Coordinator.  Yesterday marked my first official day and I was working hard to learn my role, communicate with contacts, brainstorm ideas, and make sure I could log in to all the necessary tools.  I am still working to figure out the best work system and work/life balance for me, so it was really good that I had a Dream Dinners meal defrosting.   I decided to make Lemon Villa Chicken with sides of broccoli and rice.  I started by preheating the oven and preparing an 8x8 baking dish.  I added the chicken and sauce to the dish, making sure to top each chicken breast with a slice of lemon.  I cooked the chicken for 40 minutes.  While the chicken was cooking, I made rice and steamed broccoli.  We placed the cooked chicken on a bed of rice and added a side of broccoli.  I really enjoyed this meal.  The chicken was tender and flavorful.  The sauce was especially tasty with lots of citrus flavor.  Once again, Dream Dinners came to my rescue on a busy Monday. 

FullSizeRender.jpg

Dream Dinners: Classic French Dip with Homemade Au Jus and Bacon Ranch Green Beans

Yesterday was a productive day.  I got organized for my new job and armed myself with ideas and questions for my boss.  I also weeded through and organized my closet, which is now ready for me to start filling with new spring clothes!  In addition, Lola got to take 2 walks and I rode my exercise bike.  A busy Sunday calls for help in the kitchen and I was thrilled that I had a Dream Dinners meal defrosted and ready to cook.  I was even more excited to find out that it would take less than 20 minutes to make everything!  I started by bringing my au jus to boil in a large sauté pan.  I added the roast beef slices into the sauce and simmered them about 3 minutes.  While the meat was cooking, I preheated the broiler to low and toasted the buns.  After toasting the buns, I added the cheese and popped it back into the oven to melt the cheese.  In a separate pan, I had my bacon and green beans cooking.  Once the cheese had melted, it was assembly time.  I squeezed a line of horseradish mayo on each bun and added a generous portion of meat.  We scooped up a side of green beans, portioned out some au jus, and dinner was ready.  This meal honestly took 20 minutes to prepare and it was delicious!  The Bacon Ranch Green Beans are my favorite-I love bacon and green beans and the seasoning is awesome.  We also loved the sandwiches.  I take after my mom and I always love a good french dip, but I never take the time to make them at home.  This was a restaurant quality sandwich made at home.  The beef, cheese and mayo combined with the toasted bun just melted in my mouth.  Add in the au jus and Mike and I were ready to fight over who got the leftover sandwich.  This was definitely a favorite meal in our house and amongst other staff and customers in our store.  I can’t wait for this meal to show up on the menu again!

FullSizeRender.jpg

Dream Dinners: Steak Salsa Verde

Not only does Dream Dinners make my life easier, but it also makes life easier for Mike.  On nights when I have to work, I know that I can pull out a meal that is easy for him to cook.  The other night he made Steak Salsa Verde, which we turned into steak tacos.  He preheated the grill pan on the stove top and grilled the steaks for 3-4 minutes on each side.   After massaging the bag of salsa verde, Mike put some on each steak and cooked it a little bit longer.  He let them set for a few minutes and cut them into strips.  Combined with rice and cheese, the steak tasted fantastic on our favorite HEB tortillas.  We really enjoyed these tacos.  Good quality, well seasoned steak combined with some of our favorite household staples made for a delicious dinner.  I am so glad that we have Dream Dinners in our life and that we have the option to alter some of the recipes to make them perfect for our family. 

FullSizeRender.jpg

That Day I Ate Leftovers from Austin’s Most Famous BBQ Joint

If you are from Austin, you’ve probably heard of Franklin’s BBQ.  It is one of the most famous and sought after BBQ places in the Austin area with an owner that has been featured in many food tv shows and bbq competitions.  Franklin’s is known for its long lines and the reality that it will likely sell out early with people leaving disappointed.  Recently, they’ve started taking large order slots.  So, you can sign up ahead of time to get a spot.  Mike’s office put in a big order and I got to try some of the leftovers.  Mike just ordered meats so I had  the chance to try brisket, sausage, and turkey.  I really liked the brisket and sausage.  They had great texture and flavor.  They tasted great plain or with my favorite St. Louis bbq sauce.    I was a little disappointed by the turkey.    I almost felt like it was a little dry and wasn’t as well seasoned.   Overall it was good, but I think I’ll be sticking to my Big Cat BBQ for my BBQ needs.

IMAGE.JPG

Dream Dinners: Down Home Texas Ranch Chili with Cheddar Corn Cakes

It’s blog catch up time, so expect to hear a lot from me in the next few days.  I also have a busy March coming up so I may get behind in the next few weeks.   As the Olympics are wrapping up, I am still finishing up my January meals at a rapid pace to help make sure I have time to eat and enjoy the games.  One day last week, I made this delicious chili.  I must admit I was skeptical, as I feel like my chili is pretty yummy.  However, Dream Dinners does not disappoint.  I wanted to make this in my crockpot, but I ran out of time that day, so I made it on the stovetop.  I browned the ground beef in a large pot for about 7 minutes.  To that, I added the chili mixture and beans.  I let the chili simmer for about 40 minutes until it was ready.

FullSizeRender.jpg

While the chili was cooking, I had time to work on the cheddar corn cakes.  I put the corn cake mixture in a bowl and added the milk mixture, stirring until well blended.  Next, I folded in the cheese and corn mixture.  I heated up a skillet and sprayed it with cooking spray.  I spooned the batter into the skillet and cooked about 2-3 minutes per side. 

FullSizeRender.jpg

I lucked out and the chili and corn cakes finished at about the same time.  We topped the chili with a bit of cheeese, grabbed a corn cake and dinner was served.  The chili had a bit of a sweet flavor, but everything was also well seasoned.  I liked the texture and thickness.  The corn cakes were amazing and I definitely plan on figuring out how to make them myself. The sweet and cheesy flavor of the corn cakes was a great compliment to the chili.  I was definitely pleased with the outcome of this meal and it happened to be served on a rare, cool day in Austin, so it was the perfect meal on that day.